"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

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Who's the Killer?

So the NACDL (National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers) for some reason sent me their publication, in which I was told I could attend this training for capital defense:

In the twisted world of the legal left, a potential juror who believes in the death penalty in an appropriate case is referred to as a "Killer;"  i.e., a juror potentially willing to "kill" the lawyer's client who is, you know,  being tried because he is, you know, like, a real, actual killer.  And the juror who will not impose death is a "Life-Giver."  Unlike, again, the defendant who was what?--  A life-taker.

I suspect strongly that in the surreal universe of these sleaze bag lawyers, who are willing to call jurors "killers," they never refer to their clients as killers, or even life-takers.  

Here's what you'd be treated to if you attend the conference:

Segment II: Identifying Killers & Life-Givers, and Numerical Rating 
1:00-1:30 Overview Mini-Lecture: Stripping, Identifying, & Rating
1:30-2:00 Examples & Demos of Stripping, Identifying, & Rating
2:00-2:15 Break
2:15-4:00 Small Group Practice – Stripping, Identifying, & Rating 
4:00-5:00 Lecture: Constitutional Law on Voir Dire
5:00-6:00 Social Hour – Faculty and Participants (location to be announced)
Day 2 – Friday
Segment III: Making Record to Remove Killers
9:00-9:30 Overview Mini-Lecture: Making Record to Assert Cause Challenges
9:30-10:00 Examples & Demos of Making Record on Killers
10:00-10:15 Break
10:15-12:00 Small Group Practice – Identifying, Rating, and Removing Killers 
12:00-1:00 Lunch

This is a truly mentally disturbed bunch, and a disgrace to our supposedly learned profession.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

An Elitist, Racist Prosecution?

An interesting capital case is starting in Pennsylvania.
[Kermit] Gosnell, 72, is accused of running a rogue clinic that ignored the state ban on third-term abortions and 24-hour waiting periods. Prosecutors say he also maimed desperate, often poor women and teens by letting his untrained staff perform abortions and give anesthesia. And they say he got rich doing it, by performing a high volume of substandard abortions.Police found $250,000 in cash during a 2010 search of his home, Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore said. Gosnell used outmoded drugs and unorthodox methods, forcing women to endure labor and then deliver live babies that were then killed by staff with scissors, she said. Normally, the fetus is killed in utero."The standard practice here was to slay babies. That's what they did," said Pescatore, who echoed a 2011 grand jury report in calling the clinic "a house of horrors."

Apparently the defense, before a majority-black jury, is that Gosnell should get a pass because he's black and works in West Philadelphia, a heavily minority area.  Never mind that most of the babies he delivered and then stabbed to death were "persons of color."

Specifically, this mass-murderer is being tried for killing seven babies and one adult woman, to whom he delivered a lethal dose of anesthesia.  But in the course of his career, he can boast of having killed some 16,000 babies.

I wonder if our pro-life friends who also oppose the death penalty will rest comfortably with the idea that Gosnell should merely be imprisoned for his actions.

Is sitting in a cell for maybe 20 years really proportionate justice for someone who has worked tirelessly to murder 16, 000 babies?

Friday, March 08, 2013

More on Lori

Abp. Lori, in addition to telling us that the death penalty violates the Church's teaching that life is sacred from birth to natural death, also opined, according to National Catholic Reporter, that:
Catholic teaching tells us, he said, that "when other punishment options are available to government that sufficiently protect the public’s safety, we should not resort to the death penalty, not even in the case of one who takes the life of another human being."
In this blast from the past, we see a good example (H/T Crime and Consequences)of why Abp. Lori, while competent to teach on doctrine and moral principles,  is not a reliable source for such criminology pronouncements as "life without parole sentences render the death penalty unnecessary."
In 1966 (Dennis) Stanworth was sentenced to death for the brutal kidnapping, rape and murder of two 15-year-old Pinole (California) teens, Caree Collison and Susan Box. Their family members are still haunted by the crime."He had them strip and Caree ran and he yelled at her if you don't come back, I'm going to kill your friend. She came back and he shot her in the head," a family member said...Stanworth sat on San Quentin's death row for seven years. Then everything changed."The first step was when the California Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court determined that the death penalty was unconstitutional," Uncommon Law's Keith Whattley said.That meant, by the mid-1970s, 174 death row inmates had their sentences reduced to life in prison. At the time, California did not have life without parole, so all were eligible for release.Besides Stanworth, the group included Charles Manson and Sirhan Sirhan, who murdered Robert Kennedy in 1968. Manson and Sirhan were not released, but Stanworth and 50 others were eventually set free.Among them was Robert Massie, who was convicted of murder in 1965 and sentenced to death. In 1978 he was paroled; eight months later, he murdered a San Francisco liquor store owner. In 2001, after the death penalty was reinstated, Massie was executed.
And Stanworth?
Stanworth was released in 1990. The parole board cited his good behavior and "excellent work record." Stanworth settled in Vallejo, re-married and lived a quiet life in a gated golf course community where some neighbors even knew of his past.
"I figured he had paid for his mistakes according to the law," neighbor Irving Vanderberg said.
But on Jan. 11, Vallejo police arrested Stanworth for killing his 90-year-old mother Nellie Stanworth at his home.
Sure, some who commit premeditated murder might be 'rehabilitated' and never re-offend.  But why should society bear the burden of that high-stakes risk? Isn't it more likely (and therefore the better basis for a policy decision)  that a person who would murder will likely never overcome to a reasonable level of certainty a  propensity for violence?

No, Archbishop Lori, whatever the Catechism is referring to when it speaks of "means" for rendering offenders harmless, it certainly cannot mean mere imprisonment, even life without parole, which can be, like the death penalty was, and probably will be in Maryland,  altered by the whim of a single legislative session or the pardon power of a single governor.


Archbishop Lori of Baltimore recently testified against the death penalty before the Maryland General Assembly.

Nothing unusual, the bishops of this country have been advocating on behalf of capital offenders for years.

But with all due respect to his excellency, he did not couch his opposition to the use of the death penalty in Maryland solely in terms of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (i.e., there are other options to render offenders harmless and therefore resort to the death penalty should be "rare if not non-existent.") but rather, he said

Catholic opposition to the death penalty is founded upon the idea that "every human life is sacred and to be protected," the archbishop stated, stressing the protection of life and the human person "from the moment of natural conception until natural death."
He added that Catholics hold the "reasoned belief" that "every life comes from God and is destined to return to God as our final judge" and that this teaching drives the protection of all life, as well as other aspects of Catholic outreach.
So, according to the Archbishop, the death penalty is inadmissible because every life is sacred and hence inviolable.

But one cannot posit that the death penalty is intrinsically immoral because it takes a human life without running seriously afoul of two millenia of Judaeo-Christian teaching.  Cardinal Avery Dulles give a good thumbnail sketch of this perennial moral teaching here.

So, no, Archbishop Lori, you are free to represent the Church as claiming that there are prudential reasons not to have recourse to capital punishment (the informed, often better informed laity, can of course disagree with your prudential assesment);  you are not free to misrepresent the Church as having a philosophical or moral or theological objection to capital punishment. 

It would be a shame if an eminent Catholic Archbishop fell into the error of the Waldenses, who denied the right of the state to execute offenders.