"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, April 30, 2007

Fight For Me (A Tribute)

I Wish My Car Were as Reliable

Colorado judge agrees: Wrongful conviction rate miniscule (he puts it at 0.000655%).

Even rabid defense attorney-turned-potboiler-author-turned-academic David Feige's reckoning would have us believe the error rate is only 0.5%; other reliable commentators, such as Josh Marquis, whose figures were cited in a SCOTUS case, would put the figure at no more than 0.027%.

What does it all mean? Our system, for all its flaws, is pretty close to perfect at assigning criminal blame: Feige's own numbers show that the system gets it right 99.5% of the time. The more likely figures from Marquis show reliability 99.973% accuracy, and the judge's figures show an overwhelming accuracy figure of 99.999345!

Any way you cut it, the system is nowhere near "broken" or "dysfunctional," to use descriptives often thrown around by the pro-criminal lobby.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Terrorist-Abetting Lawyer Disbarred

New York State has disbarred Lynne Stewart, defense lawyer and darling of the left, who was convicted of facilitating the issuance of orders from her client, Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, to his terrorist organization.

In one of those unusual ironies of history, Stewart professed in a letter to her sentencing judge

"I am not a traitor,"

sounding very much like another disbarred New York lawyer who famously professed: "I am not a crook."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Twinkie Defense Fails

Despite wishful thinking in some quarters that has it that only Texas is interested in pursuing executions, James Filiaggi was executed yesterday in Ohio for chasing down his ex-wife and shooting her in the head. The defense that his poor diet led to a chemical imbalance in his brain causing temporary insanity (the "Twinkie defense"), was rejected by the court which tried him.

Filiaggi was sentenced to death for chasing Lisa Filiaggi from her home and into a neighbor's house, where he shot her in the head, as she cowered on the floor. He also taunted her. Issues surrounding their failed marriage apparently were the motive.
The couple had two toddlers at the time Lisa Filiaggi was killed.

Actually, that summary puts it too nicely. Filiaggi bought a gun before the incident, and then hunted his ex-wife down, chasing her from her house to a neighbor's house where she had fled for protection. He kicked down the neighbor's door and searched until he found her hiding in a closet. He shot her once in the shoulder, but she she ran away until finally he cornered her for the last time, delivering two fatal shots. He then went to her stepfather's house, pointed the gun at him, and told him he was going to kill him. The stepfather was able to spray Filiaggi with pepper spray and run from the house.

Filiaggi dropped his appeals in 2006, but tried to resurrect them last week, hoping to hop on the "lethal injection is cruel and unusual" bandwagon. All courts considering his request to recommence his appeals rejected it.

In his final words, Filiaggi said there were many innocent people on death row (while declining to drop names) but tellingly said of himself, "for me--it's fine."

He's not the only one who thought his punishment was fine for him:

The Parole Board also reviewed letters from Lisa Filiaggi's mother, fiancé and 14-year-old daughter, all of whom urged that Filiaggi be executed.
That's right, even his daughter thought he ought to be executed. But the usual suspects, oblivious to the concerns of those closest to the case, maintain that the trial court was not deferential enough to the Twinkie defense and therefore Filiaggi should get a new trial.

Friday, April 20, 2007

More on the Cristeros

A short look at the Cristeros:

HT: Hermeneutic of Continuity and Pro Ecclesia.

Spicoli's Favorite Holiday

A happy, smoke-filled, stuporific 4/20 day to everyone! And remember, even though the premier "journal" advocating drug legalization is titled "High Times," marijuana really needs to be legalized because of its medicinal effects. (as I pointed out here, the "medicinal" argument is a lot of bunk).

Party on, dudes.

The Patron Saints of 4/20 Day, taking their medicine

Thursday, April 19, 2007

It's Religion Day Here at Seeking Justice...

...So we give you the following ecumenical tribute to Islam:

HT: Fumare.

She Gets My Vote

Ay caramba...

I'm voting for Ms. Mexico, Rosa Maria Ojeda, for Ms. Universe. She had the courage to remind Mexicans of the valiant struggle of the Catholic peasantry in the 1920's against the Masonic/Communist government's attempt to wipe out the Catholic Faith. This all-too-little-known history of our neighbors to the south is called the Cristiada, after the Cristeros, the Catholic peasant army which fought the Mexican government. Our own government shamefully failed to support these brave men.

How did Ms. Ojeda remind her countrymen of this chapter of their history? By wearing this unique dress:

Note Our Lady of Guadalupe and Cristero soldiers hanging from telegraph poles (a favorite tactic of the Mexican government).
Sadly, she has agreed to "tone down" the dress in response to criticism that it is too militant.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Because Even Child Molesters Need a Friend

No wonder the ACLU advocates against sex offense laws: when one of their lawyers is busted for attempting to seduce a 12-year old boy online, one might be tempted to think that their advocacy is more than just a philosophical exercize and that there is a more personal interest in their efforts to overturn laws protecting the family and children.

This of course is not the first sex offender/ lawyer they've had in their ranks.

The Debate Starts

Well, as I predicted yesterday, the gun control debate has fired up before the corpses are even cold in the ground, with Virginia legislators on the one hand seeking to allow colleges to enact tougher gun control regs than state law allows, or on the other side pushing to resurrect a proposal sponsored last year by my far-sighted former colleague Tod Gilbert, a Virginia State Delegate, which would have prevented campuses from restricting lawful concealed carry permit holders from carrying on campus.

It's hard to see how allowing concealed carry permit holders to carry on campus would be any worse than the current situation where anyone who really wants to, like the gunman yesterday, can carry a gun. What might have changed yesterday if a lawfully armed student, professor, or staff member had been around when the murderer started his spree?

And yet as it stands, the likelihood is that the only armed presence on a campus will be a criminal or the very thinly stretched campus police, who obviously cannot be everywhere and who can be avoided by a gunman bent on mass killing.
Sadly, the criminals will carry when and where they want regardless of the law; a lawfully armed citizen will usually obey the law and not carry on campus.

The balance of power favors the murderer.

Monday, April 16, 2007

A Black Day

Not a distinction coveted by Virginia Tech: worst shooting rampage in American history claims at least 3133 lives.

Any bets on how long it will be before the politicians begin exploiting this tragedy for cheap debating points for gun control legislation?

Eternal Rest Grant unto them all, O Lord. And may perpetual Light shine upon them.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Help Wanted: Federal Judge, Low Pay, Great Perks

Federal Judges need a 100% pay increase, to keep them competitive with... English and Canadian judges, according to the lobbying group that gives the legal profession such a fine reputation, the American Trial Lawyer's Association.

But don't fret, if you're one of these underpaid federal judges. The ATLA says the doubling of your $165, 000 salary (what a lowly District judge makes) is "only the beginning."

Apparently, a "problem" exists because only sub-standard lawyers want to be federal judges because the pay is so little. What, you may ask, is a substandard lawyer? According to ATLA's logic, the lawyers who makes lots of money are the good ones, and the lawyers who make not so much are the crummy ones.

So the reasoning goes: if we pay judges more, then the "good" lawyers (= the highly paid lawyers, like those in the personal injury bar the ATLA represents) will want to be judges, and the "bad" lawyers (=the ones who make less than $165,000) will be weeded out of the process.

Got it? Your talent as a lawyer is gauged by the amount of money you earn. Judges should be paid enough to make their salaries comparable with... oh I dunno, the ambulance chasers of ATLA.

As they say, I am NOT making this up.

HT: SW Virginia Law Blog

End of an Era

Bob Horan, the long-time Commonwealth's Attorney in Fairfax County, is retiring.

Horan has been the top prosecutor in Fairfax for some 40 years, watching Fairfax grow from a sleepy, mostly rural Virginia county to a million-resident economic powerhouse. Along the way, he prosecuted several death penalty cases, and most recently won fame for convitions in the Lee Boyd Malvo case (failing, however, to obtain a death sentence) and the Mir Aimal Kasi terrorist/CIA shooting case.

Here is an interesting summary of some of Horan's murder convictions, including an infamous Roy Rogers multiple murder that happened shortly after my family and I moved to Fairfax County in the 1970s.

Horan helped set the standard for professional, ethical, and tough prosecution among Virginia's prosecutors. Many of his assistants went on to become judges, including one circuit judge whom I clerked for who worked for Horan in the late 60's, then did some private practice and spent an entire career on the bench and retired several years ago, while Horan still kept going, and going, and going....

He is an institution and will be missed.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Witness for the Defense?

It was interesting to have the role of a witness in a case recently-- a habeas corpus hearing in which my testimony established that the petitioner's attorney had been offered a plea agreement which would have netted his client 5 years' imprisonment. I was turned down cold and thereafter I asked for a jury trial, the result of which was that instead of five years, the defendant received 15 years and 90 days (subsequently reduced by the judge to 10 years).

Now of course, having exhausted his appeals, the convicted drug dealer responds by attacking his trial attorney, accusing him of not conveying my plea offer to him. Of note was that he was represented at trial by someone who is probably regarded as being in the top 5 of prominent defense attorneys in the state (I'm not agreeing with that ranking, I 'm just reporting it).

What made the case even more dramatic was that the drug dealer's lawyer for the habeas is also one of the top 4 or 5 (again, not that I endorse that ranking) and the trial attorney had sued the habeas attorney in the past... so there is no love lost between the two.

The losers in all this are the drug dealer's parents, who seem to be nice folks but have paid astronomical sums of money to both lawyers.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Another Poster Child

Some states may be having second thoughts, but the Feds have figured out that some killers need to be executed to protect everyone around them:

ABINDGON -- A federal prison inmate was sentenced to death Friday for stealing his cellmate's breakfast and then strangling him with a bath towel for complaining about it.
Carlos Caro, 39, was convicted Feb. 1 of killing Robert Sandoval in 2003 while they shared a cell at the federal penitentiary in Lee County [Virginia]. Prosecutors said both were members of the Texas Syndicate, a nationwide prison gang. Sandoval, 34, was serving time for a conspiracy to smuggle illegal immigrants into the country.
Caro was five years into a 30-year sentence for drug dealing. Prosecutors said while at the prison he staged a yard fight, stabbed a rival gang member 29 times and then killed Sandoval the day they became cellmates.
U.S. Attorney John Brownlee, who helped prosecute the case, said Caro's criminal history warranted death. "This sentence will ensure that he will never hurt another person," Brownlee said in a statement.

If there's someone who needs execution, it's this guy. A life sentence means nothing to someone who will kill even in prison, even for the most frivolous of reasons.

Yet another example of why, no matter what "innocence" stories the abolitionists come up with (none yet of a demonstrably innocent person actually executed), there will always be a need for recourse to the ultimate punishment.