Author: Kent Scheidegger

Supreme Court Decides Two Change-in-Law Questions

The Supreme Court decided two cases today dealing with how to address existing cases when the law changes. Greer v. United States, No. 19-8709, addresses the situation where the defense lawyer does not object at trial, because the law seems settled at the time, but the Supreme Court later decides to the contrary. Terry v. United States, No. 20-5904, addresses which inmates convicted prior to the First Step Act can get their sentences for crack cocaine offenses reduced. Continue reading . . .

Fractured Supreme Court Cripples Armed Career Criminal Act

The U.S. Supreme Court today issued a fractured decision that will severely limit the provision of the Armed Career Criminal Act that allowed the federal government to put away habitual felons who commit three violent felonies.

Definitions of crimes generally require both a bad act and a bad state of mind. For many violent crimes in many states, the bad state of mind may be either intentional or reckless. In deciding whether a prior conviction is for a violent crime, the Supreme Court looks only at the definition, not the actual facts of the crime.

Under today’s decision in Borden v. United States, No. 19-5410, violent crimes that could possibly be committed recklessly will no longer be considered “violent” for ACCA purposes no matter how clearly intentional the crime was in the actual case.

There is no majority opinion providing a coherent rationale for this appalling result. Continue reading . . .

Supreme Court Takes Up Surveillance Case

The U.S. Supreme Court today took up a case on the relationship between the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the common law “state secrets” privilege. The Ninth Circuit had held that the procedures in FISA regarding deciding the legality of surveillance displace the traditional privilege. The case is FBI v. Fazaga, No. 20-828. The government’s petition for certiorari is here. Continue reading . . .

Arrested for Supporting a Vigil

HONG KONG—Police arrested two people they accused of using social media to promote a banned candlelight vigil commemorating the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, an annual event that is now seen as testing the limits of China’s crackdown on dissent.

Elaine Yu has this story in the WSJ. Continue reading . . .

In Memoriam





Let us all take a few moments this holiday to remember those who fought and died for the freedom we cherish.

LA Co. Judge Reinstates Sentencing Charges After Victims Object

There has been a significant development in the victims’ revolt against LA DA George Gascón’s reckless policies.

Judge Rob Villeza of the East Judicial District of LA Superior Court, in Pomona, initially dismissed special circumstance allegations against Raymond Gonzalez, who is charged with two counts of murder and carjacking. The dismissal was based on a motion by the District Attorney’s Office under the DA’s special directives to never charge special circumstances and to dismiss any pending special circumstance allegations. But then the victims’ families sought reconsideration. Continue reading . . .

LA DA Recall Signature Drive Kicks Off

The signature drive to recall Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón kicked off yesterday, Wendy Burch reports for KTLA 5. Among the initial signers were County Sheriff Alex Villanueva and former DA Steve Cooley.

The primary push behind the drive, though, is from victims of crime and the families of victims who have seen the current DA dole out shocking leniency to people have committed horrible crimes.

Among them is Desiree Andrade. Last December, just one week after Gascón’s infamous special directives, the special circumstance allegations were dismissed against the killers who beat and stabbed her son, stomped on his head, and threw him off a cliff. Bill Melugin of Fox 11 had this report at the time. The lack of the special circumstance charge not only precludes the death penalty, but it also precludes a sentence of life without parole, meaning the killers will eventually be eligible for parole. Continue reading . . .