"And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God"
-- Micah 6:8

"The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict."
-- American Bar Association Standard 3-1.2(c)

"There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
--Pope Benedict XVI, June 2004

Monday, March 26, 2007

Ignored By NPR, Chapter II

Chapter II in our occasional series of the success stories of the war in Iraq which NPR and the MSM do not want anyone to hear...

Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, pause along a berm while taking part in Operation Northern Forge, a mission designed to deny the safe havens on the north side of the Euphrates River to insurgents. By entering a known insurgent safe haven, they severely dented the capabilities of the anti-Iraqi forces in the area. They found and destroyed hundreds of weapons, IED making materials, and explosives designed to kill Coalition Forces, Iraqi Security Forces and innocent civilians.
(photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher Zahn)
...
In one cache alone they found over 100 mortar rounds, an amount described as "unbelievable" by Cpl. Steve D. Whiteman, a 28-year-old squad leader from Cincinnati. "The engineers attached to me for the operation said that they found more ordnance and more caches, IEDs (and IED making materials) in the first seven days than they had previously found in seven months," added Erisman, the commanding officer of L Company.

HT: One Marine's View

Opposing Diversity

A recent challenge to the death penalty in Connecticut argued that prosecutorial discretion rendered the death penalty "arbitrary and capricious."

Complaints are also made from time to time that justice is "unequal" because sentences vary for similar crimes depending on the community in which they are commited.

Much negative comment ensued when a Virginia study showed that prosecutors exercize their discretion to pursue the death penalty more often in cases in which the victim is a child or a woman.

And in reporting on the "scandal" over the firing of eight US Attorneys, The Nation argues that some of the 8 may have been fired for lackluster pursuit of death-worthy cases. Not surprisingly, the Communist militant-turned- (correction: wrong Angela Davis)academic, Angela Davis, stupidly opines in the article, "Federal prosecutors are supposed to represent 'the people,' but they are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. How do 'the people' have any connection to that?"

Back to Civics 101 for her.

Silly as her comment is, however, it reflects a fundamental misunderstanding that is shared by all the linked sources above: that prosecutorial discretion and executive use of discretion is unfair, unjust, and suspicious.

What these commenters do not mention in their attacks on the death penalty and prosecutorial discretion, is that without this discretion, the self-direction of our local governments would be threatened. The prosecutor is a part of the executive branch of government. As such, he is accountable directly to the people at the ballot box in most states. Even Angela Davis figured out that federal prosecutors are accountable to the President and Congress, while not realizing that this means they are accountable to the people who elect those officials.

What this all means is that prosecutors respond to local conditions. In a liberal locality, say San Francisco, you will find very few to no capital prosecutions. Why? The people of that community elect a DA who who reflects their liberal view that the DP should never be imposed: the DA will use his or her discretion in general deference to the lawful will of the electorate.

On the other hand, if the DA of Maricopa County, AZ wins election on a platform of zealous pursuit of appropriate death penalty cases, then the people will expect him to exercise his discretion in general accord with their lawful desire that he prosecute death-appropriate cases.

In either instance, should the people be dissatisfied with the prosecutors' exercise of discretion, he or she will be subject to being replaced at the next election.

These observations account also for the so-called geographic disparity in death sentences. If you commit murder in Maricopa County, you are more likely to be executed, because the people, speaking through the Arizona legislature and their elected local prosecutor, believe that the DP is an appropriate response to murder.

If, on the other hand, you commit the same murder in San Francisco, you can expect to avoid the death penalty, since the people of that community do not believe the general law of California permitting the DP should ever be used in their jurisdiction.

The abolitionists see it as "unjust" or somehow unconstitutional that the one murderer is executed while the other is not. But where the general law of the jurisdiction is being followed, and prosecutorial discretion and juror preferences produce different results, that's simply classic federalism at work. And just as I can chose not to live in San Francisco if I don't like their social policies, a murderer can "chose" to do his business in a more murder-friendly environment like S.F. If he takes the risk to murder in Maricopa, why should he benefit by application of the more lenient social and policy preferences of San Francisco?

Such policy differences and the attidude differences in jury pools among the states and even among political subdivisions within states, is universal in the criminal law. Yet before the abolitionists started complaining about these differences in the area of the death penalty, most people never gave the topic any thought, or if they did, they hailed the differences as proof of the legitimate and desireable diversity produced by federalism.

Yet these fundamental observations are ignored by the MSM and even the "academy," who see in the use of prosecutorial and juror discretion and in the concomitant geographic "disparity" something sinister and unacceptable. But where they conclude that the DP should be not available where the people want it because elsewhere the people do not want it, it can, with equal logic, be asserted that the disparity, to the extent it is even undesireable, could be cured by a uniform application of the death penalty, rather than its abolition.

Put another way, there is no consistent a priori reason why the people of San Francisco, who have (as is their right) abjured the use of the DP, should be able to supplant the will of the citizens of Maricopa County who want their prosecutor to pursue the DP when appropriate.

In sum, the complaints amongst the abolitionists about prosecutorial discretion and geographical disparities reduce to an attack on federalism and on the independence of the executive branch in carrying out its discretionary functions in response to the will of the electorate.

Not very democratic of them.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Chutzpah

Big surprise that Chuck Shumer, leading Inquisitor on the so-called "scandal" of the firing of eight US Attorneys by the Bush administration, himself leaned on main Justice, in the person of Jim Comey, to hurry up and indict someone over the supposed "outing" of the already-long-outed Valerie Plame:

"Dear Deputy Attorney General Comey: I write to request an update on the investigation into allegations that senior administration officials committed a federal felony by leaking the identity of a covert CIA operative. The investigation has been underway for four months now and we have received no meaningful reports regarding the progress you are making. I realize there are limitations on information that can be disclosed regarding an ongoing criminal investigation, but, as we have discussed, a prosecutor has the responsibility to assure public confidence in criminal investigations, especially those of such a serious nature. In the wake of recent calls by former intelligence operatives for a Congressional investigation, I write to ask that you publicly answer several questions regarding the progress you are making: Has a grand jury been empaneled in this case? Have members of the White House staff signed waivers, permitting journalists to discuss confidential communications? If so, what percent of the White House staff has signed such waivers? Has anyone who has been asked to sign such a waiver refused to do so? Have journalists been interviewed as part of the investigation? Has any journalist who has been released from confidentiality (assuming any has), refused to answer questions regarding previously confidential communications? Were White House staffers ordered as a condition of employment to submit to interviews? Has anyone asked for or been offered immunity? If so, how many individuals fit in each category... What other information can you provide us regarding the progress you are making with this investigation? I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Sincerely, Charles Schumer, United States Senator."

Talk about blatant political hackery and hypocrisy. This putz is criticizing Republican pols for asking US Attorneys in their states about pending investigations, and yet he himself was trying to push main Justice into doing his hatchet-work for him, in a much more detailed and interventionist manner than anything he's alleged against Republican pols.

Shumer might appreciate the term that describes this double-statndard: chutzpah.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Maryland Holds Firm

Maryland rejects death penalty abolition, dealing a stunning blow to the over-confident abolitionist community, which had placed alot of money, lobbying, PR, and hope in the Maryland initiative.

Sen. Alex X. Mooney, the Frederick Repub lican and devout Catholic who was expected to swing the Senate vote, did not support the repeal after trying unsuccessfully to exempt prisoners who kill again while serving a jail term. He told the committee that he struggled with the choice. "I have decided that a full and absolute repeal of the death penalty under all circumstances is not in the best interest for the common good of Maryland's citizens," he said.
It probably didn't help the zealots that a Florida jury showed just a few days before the Maryland vote why the DP is sometimes necessary, condemning John Couey to death for the rape and suffocation murder of 9-year old Jessica Lunsford in 2005. Coey, a long-time sex offender, raped little Jessica, put her in a plastic bag, and buried her alive, clutching her stuffed toy dolphin. As prosecutor Ric Ridgway in his closing argument put it:



"She was in pain. In the dark. She was certainly terrified," Ridgway said in his closing statement. "If this is not the person who deserves the death penalty, who does?"
Just so.

At least Couey's vile crime and Jessica's horrific death may have had the effect of giving pause to lawmakers considering abolition bills. We know several states are pursuing or considering laws to allow for death sentences for certain violent repeat sex offenders.

May Jessica rest in peace.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Reality Check

If you read the anti-death penalty blogs or the writings of some in the "legal academy," you quickly realize that they are hoping that momentum is building nationally for abolition. They point to decreased death sentences, political developments in some states like Maryland and Ohio, and the occasional appellate court victory.

Fortunately, it seems the partying is premature. A summary of recent events shows that the tide is not inevitably going the abolitionist way:

* In Arizona, the legislature has killed an abolition bill.

* The Texas legislature has passed legislation permitting the death penalty for repeat child molesters-- a direct challenge to the outdated SCOTUS ruling in Coker v. Georgia, 433 U.S. 584 (1977) that the Eighth Amendment forbids the death penalty for crimes other than murder.

* New Mexico has killed an abolition bill in committee.

* Montana has also killed an abolition bill in committee.

* Even in left-leaning Maryland, the unwillingness of the abolition bill's sponsor to consider exceptions for murdering behind bars or murders of police officers may doom the bill in committee. He's rolling the dice; the vote is tommorrow.

Don't look for the abolitionist establishment to acknowledge these stories-- they run counter to the "inevitable tide of abolition" myth they're trying to build.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Tribute

We take a break from our regularly scheduled programming to bring you this blast from the past... well, from the 1980's anyway. I just stumbled across this on Youtube-- the original music video for "Brothers in Arms" by Dire Straits. I hadn't seen the video before and did not realize how great it was, though I always loved the song:



Then I found a more recent version, complete with orchestration, live at Montserrat. This is a remarkable, moving, performance. I'd say more, but... well, check it out:



Mark Knopfler is the real deal. Worth the ten minutes.

The New Inquisition at Work


Uh oh.

Marine General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, may be a decorated war hero. But he's made the mistake of suggesting that homosexuality is not the source and summit of all that is noble, good, and true (to borrow a phrase from Mark Shea):



"I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts," Pace was quoted as saying in the newspaper interview. "I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way."Pace, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., and a 1967 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, said he based his views on his upbringing.


"As an individual, I would not want (acceptance of gay behavior) to be our policy, just like I would not want it to be our policy that if we were to find out that so-and-so was sleeping with somebody else's wife, that we would just look the other way, which we do not. We prosecute that kind of immoral behavior," he said.


Needless to say, these thoughts are not approved for public dissemination by the authorities, and Pace will be hung out to dry for stating what was, until a few years ago, an unremarkable truth. He will no doubt be subjected to a sentence of public penance for his heresy, a sackcloth and ashes treatment like that imposed on Tim Hardaway, another public figure who slipped into public heresy by not acknowleding the goodness, truth and value of homosexuality.
When the pc crowd and the MSM is done with General Pace, he'll probably wish he was back in Vietnam.
UPDATE II: It took not even one news cycle for the General to be forced into penance. He now regrets his wrongheaded attempt to enunciate any traditional moral priniciple that would make any homosexuals uncomfortable. He claims he was only expressing his personal moral view, which of course, should have nothing to do with military policy. Only the homosexuals can enact their private moral views into laws, not "Christianists" like this Marine.

Innocent on Death Row?

Uhhh, no.

Jarvis Jay Masters was convicted of killing a prison guard in 1985, based in part on the testimony of other inmates. Now, shockingly, they've recanted. Some zealots believe that these recantations have "the feel of a high-profile exoneration in the works."

Masters was in prison for armed robbery when he was accused of conspiracy and murder in the death of a San Quentin guard, Sgt. Dean Burchfield, 38. Burchfield was stabbed with a prison-made knife in June 1985.

Prosecutors said the slaying was ordered by the Black Guerrilla Family, a prison gang to which Masters belonged. Two other members were convicted and sentenced to life without parole. Masters -- who prosecution witnesses said took part in the planning, sharpened the knife and gave it to the inmate who stabbed Burchfield -- was sentenced to death.

What some media accounts and zealot blogs do not mention (or actually distort, dishonestly making it appear that the state did not even seek capital punishment for all three defendants) is that the other two co-defendants were charged with capital murder also-- Masters was not just the "fall guy" for his codefendants: in one case the jury deadlocked over death vs. life imprisonment so the prosecution conceded life. In the other case the defendant was sentenced to death but the trial judge reduced the sentence to life. In Masters' case, the trial judge refused to modify the jury sentence.

The zealots simply and absolutely believe the recantations of inmates who have lost their own appeals of convictions in this case, and therefore have nothing to lose by lying to save their former gang colleague.

So the game is played: I testify against you, ensure that you're convicted, in the hopes that my situation might be improved. Then, when my case is concluded, I recant my testimony, which helps you and does not hurt me.

The zealots know this, of course, but the agenda of attacking the death penalty for them is more important than the truth of the case.

This is also why, in a typical abuse of language, they characterize this recantation as an "exoneration," as though it would prove the innocence of Masters rather than simply throw doubt on the certainty of his guilt. There's a big difference between a factually innocent person and a person about whose guilt legitimate questions have arisen such that a capital sentence should be reconsidered as a matter of equity or fairness.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Justice Thomas on Holy Cross College

Check out this very interesting interview with Justice Thomas in BusinessWeek. As the introduction puts it,

Of all the influences in the life of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, little attention has been paid to the Reverend John E. Brooks. During his time at Holy Cross and in the years since, the Jesuit priest has been, in Thomas' words, "a combination of friend, uncle, priest, father, saint, Good Samaritan." In this exclusive interview with BusinessWeek senior writer Diane Brady, Thomas reflects on racial politics, his job, his college crowd, and the influence of Brooks on his life.
It's an inside look at what the Catholic Church was doing 30-40 years ago in education and race relations, and the type of students the old-style Jesuits were forming before their venerable order descended into a free fall of homosexuality, heterodoxy, and hedonism. Money quotes from Justice Thomas:


Father Brooks realized that we needed to be nurtured—not that we needed it every day—but that we were going to have unique problems. When you have six blacks in a class of 550 kids, you need that. We all came from very different backgrounds. That's something that gets lost in this weird notion of race—that somehow you can come from New York and Savannah and Massachusetts and somehow you're still all the same. That's bizarre, and it denigrates individuals. Father Brooks understood that. He saw people who were individuals who happened to be black who had very different outlooks.

***

I've thought a lot about these things, and I've spent the bulk of my life, beating my head against a wall, trying to get people to see that they can have their grand theories but, in the end, you can't impose them on other people's kids. How many kids do you have? They're different, aren't they? If your kids are different—and they're all yours—what about just some kids who happen to be different shades of black, different degrees of Negro? They're all from different family settings—some two parents, some no parents, some raised by grandparents. Come on. How can you just all of a sudden treat them as all the same?

***

A white person is free to think whatever they want to think. But a black person has to think a certain way. Holy Cross has never ever done that. We did it to each other but we were just kids. The institution didn't sanction it. Father Brooks didn't sanction it. He didn't stereotype. I love Father Brooks. I love him. He's a great man. He did right by us. He did right by the school. I don't think you should underestimate how nurturing that school was, without being warm and fuzzy. It was all male so you didn't have to deal with all those complications. It was predominantly Catholic…probably still is. It had rules because it was Catholic. So there were lots of things that were off the table. And it was a crazy time. The school was changing. I wouldn't downplay the centrality of Father Brooks and the Jesuits' role.

***

They're not Jesuits [the predominantly lay faculty of recent years]. They lost the religiosity. A priest is a priest. A nun is a nun. For me, it's better. It's a Catholic school. It looks more identifiably Catholic when you have religious people running it. I think it's a loss. I liked it the way it was. I was not a practicing Catholic when I went there. I had left the church. But I just feel strongly that it's a Catholic school. I'm a practicing Catholic now, in part because I went to Holy Cross.

A fascinating look at a very unique life. HT: SW Virginia Law Blog.


Meanwhile, in Arizona, the legislature has killed an abolition bill.

The Texas legislature has passed legislation permitting the death penalty for repeat child molesters-- a direct challenge to the outdated SCOTUS ruling in Coker v. Georgia, 433 U.S. 584 (1977)that the Eighth Amendment forbids the death penalty for crimes other than murder.

Don't look for the abolitionist establishment to acknowledge these stories-- they run counter to the "inevitable tide of abolition" myth they're trying to build.

Montana Slipping

A public official has a delicate conscience suddenly about the death penalty, and yet still expects to be paid a salary for a job he doesn't intend to do:

HELENA - The death penalty no longer should be allowed in Montana, the attorney general's office said Friday in supporting a bill that would abolish capital punishment.

The threat of death does not deter criminals and the process involved in death penalty cases is long and expensive, Assistant Attorney General John Connor told the House Judiciary Committee.

"It seems to me to be the ultimate incongruity to say we respect life so much that we're going to dedicate all our money, all our resources, our legal expertise and our entire system to try and take your life. ... Frankly, I just don't think I can do it anymore," he said.


Uhhh, then how 'bout resigning your position so a replacement can be hired who will enforce the laws enacted by the Montana legislature reflecting the will of the people?

Montana is apparently contemplating a bill that would not only abolish capital punishment, but would overrule the jury verdict in the state's two pending death row cases by commuting those sentences to life imprisonment. This shows yet again why LWOP is no guarantee of the public safety: political activists can subvert any jury verdict and reduce senteces already imposed. As I've argued before, when the death penalty goes, LWOP will be next on the chopping block, under the rubric that it is cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

(I would add links, but Blogger is acting up this morning).

Friday, March 09, 2007

For your further viewing pleasure: Jihadis being blown to smithereens by superior firepower.

Hadji Girl

From a modern day Dylan fighting the terrorists in Iraq. Sound quality is poor, but passable.

Warning: View at your own risk and bring a sense of humor with you when you do.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

France Leads Way for Abolitionists

France is enshrining abolition of the death penalty into their constitution. This, despite the fact that 44% of the French people support reintroduction of the death penalty and less than a majority (49%) support abolishing it. These numbers are all the more surprising if you remember that the European ruling elite and media has engaged in incessant agitprop for two decades against the death penalty, which in European leftist circles, dovetails neatly with anti-Americanism.


Of course, France could not reintroduce the death penalty now without repudiating the infamous Protocol 6, which mandates abolition of the death penalty in signatory states, regardless of public will or public safety necessity.


Those agitating for abolition in this country are taking to their marching orders from these words of the EU:

Long ago European countries, either in practice or in law, made a choice for humanity, abolishing the death penalty and thus fostering respect for human dignity. And this is an ultimate principle that the EU wishes to share with all countries, as it shares other common values and principles such as freedom, democracy, and the rule of law and safeguard of human rights. If it succeeds in reaching this goal, both the EU and those countries will have furthered the cause of humanity, as Beccaria foretold. The EU thus invites the USA to equally embrace this cause.

Of course the EU cares not a bit for democracy on this issue, hypocritically imposing this policy without regard to the democratic will. Note the ironic appeal to human dignity: the Europeans, of all people, should realize that when a Hitler, a Stalin, or a Milosevic comes along, vindicating the dignity of their victims can only really happen when their killer is executed.


If we would execute a Hitler, we should not flinch at executing a murderer of only one victim, since one life is just as entitled to vindication as a thousand.



Not death-eligible in Europe

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Ignored By NPR

This is the first in an occasional series giving the stories about the Global War on Terror that are easily found, but studiously ignored by the MSM.

NPR, National People's Radio, in particular is noteworthy for documenting every possible negative development in Iraq, every fault and failing they can unearth about the American military, every tale of woe and destruction from Iraq and Afghanistan. Even when they do a story about military personnel, it tends to be a mournful piece about a casualty and the loved ones he left behind.

Strongly implied is the message that the war is not worth the sacrifice. We might be inclined to credit good will toward these pieces if NPR showed any signs of respecting the military or acknowledging the success stories and highlighting the heroes. But if all they tell us about are the failings, the scandals, the doubts, they can hardly claim to be pro-military when they do a somber story about a dead soldier or Marine and how devestating his loss is to the family and community back home.

Why won't they tell us the good stories?

****

Here then is Installment I of the series "Ignored by NPR":


Urban combat often devolves into a series of actions that traverse winding streets and narrow alleys--sometimes for hours. That was certainly the case for Sgt. 1st Class Stephens on June 24, 2004, in Baqubah. That morning, Stephens and his platoon were called in to assist another platoon taking heavy fire from insurgents. Stephens’s platoon helped the others fight through the engagement and then proceeded further into Baqubah. And then they ran into the first ambush of the day. His company commander was severely wounded, and elements of the company disengaged to evacuate him--leaving an even slimmer force. Undaunted, Stephens’s platoon fought through the ambush and continued the offensive as it wound through the city.Then came a second ambush. In a barrage of fire from all directions, one of the Bradleys was disabled by an RPG round--leaving a wounded man trapped in the open. As enemies continued to pour down a heavy stream of fire, Stephens leapt from his vehicle and sprinted 50 meters in the open to reach the injured soldier. As rounds ricocheted off the metal, Stephens climbed into the open hatch to pull the soldier out of the wrecked vehicle. Medics crouched on the protected side of the vehicle, and Stephens lowered the injured man to them. He then ran back across the open space, dodging the enemies’ fire. Stephens rallied his men and pushed on through the city, repelling numerous attacks as they evacuated the wounded soldier. Despite an injury, Stephens led his men to the opposite side of the city to a nearby base, where they hoped to save their downed man. Unfortunately, his wounds were too grave. For his selfless act in retrieving a fellow soldier while under enemy fire, Stephens was awarded the Silver Star on Oct. 22, 2006.
God bless this American hero!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Refreshing

"God gives us free will and it's up to us what we do with it. Any adult has to make decisions and live with them - good, bad or indifferent."





That's the father of one of the so-called "Barbie Bandits," two young women who held up an Atlanta bank on February 27. The case gained notereity because of the unusual circumstance of two young, attractive females robbing a bank while laughing.


On the other side of the spectrum from the one girl's dad was the other girl's mother, who assured us that the girls are really good but just fell in with the wrong crowd: "I want (people) to know that her and Heather both are not bandits," Joy Miller told ABC's "Good Morning America" Monday. "They're little girls that made a bad choice."


The dad expressed the common view of Western jurisprudence for the past, oh, 4,000 years: You are "really good" if you do good things, like going to school and earning an honest living. You are really "bad" if you do bad things like robbing banks. Your actions determine your character.


The mom, on the other hand, expressed the view of the Therapeutic Age, where no one is really responsible for their actions, and even when you do really bad things like rob banks you can still be a "really good" person.

Supreme Court Comes to Lynchburg

If you weren't aware, Virginia's newest law school is Liberty University School of Law. Yes, that's Jerry Falwell's Liberty University in Lynchburg.


One interesting development there is the construction of an exact replica of the U.S. Supreme Court's courtroom. The University was permitted to access the SCOTUS's courtroom, take measurements, and examine the Justices' bench. The only variation at LU is that the gallery seating is stadium style and includes hookups for students' laptops.
The School plans not only to conduct moot courts there, but hopes to attract the Court of Appeals of Virginia and the Virginia Supreme Court to hold occasional sessions there.

Now sitting on that bench might give some career advancement ideas to some of our state appellate judges.