Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Justice Egyptian Style: 680 sentenced to death for killing one police officer

 An Egyptian judge sentenced the   top spiritual leader of the  banned Muslim Brotherhood group, along with more than 680 others in connection with the killing of a single police officer in riot.
"Arab Spring" has not gone well in Egypt.  Violence and rioting against the first freely elected President resulted in a military coup.   The military leader of the coup is, (surprise, surprise) running for President.  Leftists, liberals and Muslim conservatives have been target by the regime.  Isn't it about time to consider to start some serious sanctions against this government?
On Tues. the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument (Riley v. CA & U.S. v. Wurie) on whether police need to get a warrant to "search" the cellphone of a person who is lawfully arrested.  Most lower courts have held that a warrant is not necessary and that such phones can be searched under the "search incident to lawful arrest" exception to the warrant requirement.  There are good arguments on both sides.  The questions and comments by the Justices suggest they are divided on the issue. As usual, Justice Kennedy may provide the swing vote for one side or the other.  Given the vast amounts of personal information on many such phones and the fact that the privacy interest of others (e.g. those who left messages, etc.) is involved should tip the scales in favor of the defendant or at least result in special protections if the searches are allowed without a warrant.

Okla. execution goes awry

Problems in the execution of an Oklahoma inmate resulted in his dying shortly thereafter of a heart attack.  Execution of a second inmate was delayed until later. The disclosure of execution drug sources has been a controversial topic in Oklahoma and other states.  Abolitionists have attempted to use such disclosures to put pressure on manufacturers of the drugs.  However, the cause of the execution that went awry may have been "vein failure," or the process rather than the drugs themselves.  At any rate this incident provides further ammunition for abolitionists.  I am not an abolitionist as there are a minute percentage of murderers who deserve the penalty (e.g. the Oklahoma City bomber, Osama bin Laden, etc.).  There have been too many documented convictions of the truly innocent and once the person is executed, there can be no correction of any errors.  The punishment should be limited to mass or serial murderers, murderers who torture their victims, and perhaps murders of children.

3800 possible prosecution witnesses in the James Holmes mass-murder trial

Prosecutors in the Aurora CO theater mass murder have listed 3800 people as possible witnesses in the trial of James Holmes.  Looks like the prosecutors are into gaming the defense.  They couldn't possibly need that many.  It appears that the only real issue will be the insanity defense.  Holmes has asked for a change of venue.  I think that motion should be granted given the pretrial publicity and other factors

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Legal rights for animals?  Animal rights the next big "civil rights" movement? Should a chimp be able to sue its owner?  Are humans guilty of the sin of speciesism?  This argument has been around a long time but recently seems to have moved to the front burner.  There are already laws to protect animals.  Perhaps more are needed, perhaps more enforcement is needed, but this seems a little over the top to me. 

Professor Indicted, University scandal

The former head of the African and African American studies program at the University of North Carolina has been indicted for taking $12,000 pay for a course that never existed.  But, that's only the tip of the iceberg.

Mother admits to killing 6 newborns

She kept the bodies of her babies in her garage.  How did she hide all these pregnancies?  The NYT has a long article on the woman and her case. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Georgia expands rights of gun owners

Georgia just passed a sweeping statute expanding the rights of gun owners.   It includes a provision that will allow schools to authorize school employees to carry firearms under certain circumstances.  A clear victory for Second Amendment rights.  As expected there is much moaning, groaning and gnashing of teeth by the Left.  Is freedom starting to catch hold again as an important value in this society?  Colorado recently legalized recreational pot and other states are considering it. Note that as omitted in many descriptions, the expansion of places where guns can be carried applies only to those who are licenses carriers.
P.S.  The media should stop talking about "gun rights."  Only human beings have rights. A correct designation might be "rights of gun owners."

Nursing Home resident accused of murdering 2 roommates

The killer is alleged to have used the armrest on his wheelchair to beat 2 of his roommates to death.  Isn't it about time we banned armrests that can be removed from wheelchairs?

Another 9-1-1 scandal

The 9-1-1 system to summon police quickly has not always worked as planned, and there have been a number of serious breakdowns over the years at many places.  This latest one is from Denver.  The woman made a domestic violence call to 911.  Although the nearest police station was about 1-mile away, it took police nearly 16 minutes to arrive at the scene. The victim was on the phone for about 12 minutes.  The call ended when she shot dead by husband.  The PD is investigating.  Anyone who wants to risk their life by depending on 911 may be making the wrong decision if they can legally and safely use a firearm and keep it safely stored.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Just-found guilty Defendant committs suicide in courtroom

Just as defendants being shot and killed in courtrooms is rare, a defendant committing suicide in the courtroom is also very rare.

Third Amendment Suit Against Police

This is the first time I've heard of the police being sued under the third Amendment.  I don't think it will fly.  They have more chance under the Fourth.  Also the first case I've seen where people were arrested for refusing to let the police use their home for surveillance of others. Thanks to Prof. Joseph Olson for the lead.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Jefferson quote on the Second Amendment

Quotation: "The beauty of the Second Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it."
  1. "The people will not understand the importance of the Second Amendment until it is too late."
Attributed to Thomas Jefferson from a reputable source.  Source

As bad as the U.S. crminal justice system is, it's worse most everywhere else. See this case from Pakistan

A 9-month old was charged with attempted murder by Pakistani officials.  Sanity ultimately prevailed somehow and the charges were dismissed

U.S. Supreme Court upholds Michigan's ban on racial criteria

The U.S. Supreme Court today upheld Michigan's ban on using racial criteria in state college admissions in the Schuette decision. Another victory for the "color blind constitution" described by Justice Harlan dissenting in Plessy v. Ferguson.  The 6-2 decision involved 5 opinions causing  much moaning, groaning and gnashing of teeth by the liberals on the Court.  Expect similar behavior by the left-dominated media.  To paraphrase an earlier statement by a Justice, "the Constitution does not enact or embody left-wing schemes of social engineering and vote buying."

Albuquergue PD has another fatal shooting by police while plans for reform are discussed.

 In less than 2 weeks following the US DOJ's findings that Albuquerque PD had been engaging in a “pattern or practice of unconstitutional use of deadly force,” another person was slain by police. The shooting may have been justified, but it is sure to result in additional demonstrations against the PD.  The department is formulating remedies. (See related post below).

Defendant killed in courtroom by Deputy U.S. Marshall

A criminal defendant in Salt Lake City federal court was shot and killed by a Deputy U.S. Marshall when he charged a witness armed with a pencil or pen.  Fortunately, such killing are extremely rare.  One has to wonder if this was lawful use of force.

Critics of Corrupting $ jump at new chance to get more

With the Supreme Court's recent invalidation of another federal campaign law on First Amendment grounds, the Left, including of course, the NYT have reminded us again of how corrupting all the money is, and that more $ means more corruption.   That, however has not stopped the Left  (like everyone else) from taking advantage of the extra corrupting money.  This should make it clear that politics is not about behaving ethically and free of corruption, it is about WINNING.  Apparently, to  Ms. Feinstein and her ilk, it is more important to be a corrupted winner than an honest loser. Or perhaps this can be explained by the fact that only Republicans are corrupted by  money.   Personally, I think the Court's decision was consistent and required by the First Amendment as that provision was designed to keep government out of the "marketplace of  ideas"

"Reverse" hate crime?

Hate crimes are traditionally thought of as being perpetrated against members of a minority by members of the majority.  Here's a reverse "hate crime," from Detroit.  Of course, the way some think, even if the victim had used lawful self-defense, his actions would have been labeled a "hate crime."

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Police and the Mentally Ill

The police shooting and death of a mentally ill homeless man in Albuquerque has again raised the issue of police interaction with the mentally ill.  Many agencies have expanded and updated their training.  This is one of the most difficult aspects of police work as no one expects police to subject themselves to unreasonable dangers. After the fact, it is always easy to say that the police should have done this or that. See this excellent article from the NYT on the topic.

GM & NHTSA scandal shows need for new remedies.

The current controversy over GM's and the NHTSA's apparent lack of concern for human life and safety makes it clear that the current wimpy system of protecting consumers is not working.  New criminal and civil sanctions need to be enacted.  Treble damages should be allowed against the manufacturers.  Perhaps every company selling cars in the U.S. should have a federally appointed and paid "Inspector General" on its staff.  This officer would review all safety-related communications and reports from within the company, and would have broad investigatory power to dig deeper if necessary.  The officer would also have power to stop sales of defective vehicles pending a federal court ruling on a temporary injunction.  Of course, this officer must NOT be a person with a prior significant connection to the company  they are monitoring.  They must not be a auto manufacturer crony.  We have seen too many supposedly regulatory agencies protecting the industry and not the consumer. 

Some of you may recall the Ford Pinto scandal decades ago.  This new scandal suggests that nothing was learned from the Ford Pinto deaths A state criminal prosecution failed.  It's time to get tough in the interest of saving auto consumer lives.

Obama's DOJ soft on political corruption?

According to the New York Times:

"When Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., two months into his tenure, dismissed all corruption charges against former Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, it was an embarrassing nadir for the Justice Department section responsible for prosecuting politicians accused of misconduct.
The Public Integrity Section, long accustomed to exposing the official misdeeds of others, became the focus of two investigations of misconduct leading up to Mr. Stevens’s conviction. The head of the unit left under a cloud of suspicion. A promising young prosecutor committed suicide.
Since then, the unit known for headline-grabbing cases — from Abscam to Jack Abramoff — has kept a much lower profile. An elite team formed in the wake of Watergate, it has sought less publicized cases, often at the state level. Its prosecutors have taken routine gun and drug cases for the trial experience. Congress, kickbacks and dirty Washington politics seemed to take a back seat." (emphasis supplied)
Now, according to the NYT, 6 years into Obama's term, the DOJ's Public Integrity Section seems to be making a comeback. Six years wasted.  Could it have any connection with the fact that Illinois and Chicago are among the most corrupt jurisdictions in the country? Could it have any relation to the fact Obama is now a lame duck and does not have anything to fear in terms of political blowback?   

Another First Amendment & campaign contribution decision.

In a 5-4 decision, McCutcheon v. F.E.C.,  applying the rationale of the controversial Citizen's United decision, the Court voided all maximum limits on  campaign contributions.  As in the Citizens United decision, the  liberals voted in favor of the legislation and against the First Amendment.  The conservatives and Kennedy voted in favor of the Amendment and against the legislation.  IMHO, this is a good decision consistent with the goals of the First Amendment.  Expect the liberals and Obama to howl long and loud.