Author: Kent Scheidegger

Woke DAs Supporting Murderers

The Metropolitan News-Enterprise has this story on George Gascón and a few other “woke” California District Attorneys supporting the murderer in the recent California Supreme Court case of People v. McDaniel. (See earlier posts on the decision here and here.) The Met is an LA legal paper, so the story focuses on Gascón and the criticism of his friend-of-the-murderer brief by former DA Steve Cooley, among others.

Former Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, whose office in 2004 obtained a death sentence for double-murderer Donte McDaniel, has taken to task the county’s present chief prosecutor, George Gascón, for joining in an amicus curiae brief in support of that inmate, whose novel legal proposition, spurned last week by the California Supreme Court, would have resulted in the sentences of about 700 persons being upset.

Continue reading . . .

Kennedy Family Disagreement on Sirhan Parole

In last week’s post, I noted the press report that two of Sen. Robert Kennedy’s children spoke in favor of the parole of assassin Sirhan Sirhan. Turns out those two were definitely not speaking for the family as a whole. AP reports:

BOSTON — Former congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II, the oldest son of Robert F. Kennedy, denounced the possible parole of the man convicted of killing his father in California in 1968.

“Two commissioners of the 18-member California Parole Board made a grievous error last Friday in recommending the release of the man who murdered my father,” Kennedy wrote in the emailed statement released Sunday. “I understand that there are differing views about ending the sentence of this killer, including within my own family. But emotions and opinions do not change facts or history.” Continue reading . . .

Sirhan Found Fit for Parole

Sirhan Sirhan was deservedly sentenced to death for the assassination of Robert Kennedy. Regrettably, a double hit of judicial activism struck in 1972, saving him and many others from their deserved punishments. In February of that year, the California Supreme Court declared that capital punishment violated the California Constitution, brushing off the inconvenient truth that the constitutional convention had debated and voted on the precise question and decided it the other way.

A few months later, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the way nearly all capital punishment statutes at the time gave wide-open discretion to the jury violated the United States Constitution. Only a year earlier, the high court had decided 6-3, in a thorough and scholarly opinion by Justice Harlan: “In light of history, experience, and the present limitations of human knowledge, we find it quite impossible to say that committing to the untrammeled discretion of the jury the power to pronounce life or death in capital cases is offensive to anything in the Constitution.” Had the Constitution been amended in the interim? No.

California had no life-without-parole alternative at the time, so all the death row inmates got life with parole, including Charles Manson and Sirhan Sirhan. But surely no parole board would actually let either of these two out, considering the magnitude of their crimes, right? Continue reading . . .

Asking the Correct Question in a Death Penalty Poll

I have long been critical on this blog of the way major polling organizations phrase their questions on the death penalty. Professors Joseph Bessette and Andrew Sinclair of Claremont McKenna College have done it right. They have this article at Real Clear Policy explaining their work and results. The full technical report is here. (Hint: no one familiar with my prior posts will be surprised at the results.) Continue reading . . .

Early Releases, Crime, and Evidence

In May, the California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation put into effect regulations that greatly increased the credits that violent criminals can earn to shorten their sentences. Sam Stanton of the Sacramento Bee has this article on a lawsuit by 45 district attorneys (out of 58 in the state) to invalidate these regulations.

I will have more to say about this suit later, but right now I want to focus on a statement by a supporter of the regulations that illustrates the kind of pseudoscientific posturing that is rampant in policy debates today. Continue reading . . .

Bluegrass Bloodshed and Possible Solutions

Joshua Crawford of the Pegasus Institute has this op-ed on the horrific rates of shootings and homicides in Louisville, Kentucky and the city council’s reaction.

Louisville Metro Council recently took significant measures that could help save lives and stop the out-of-control bloodshed. They passed a budget with notable measures including allocating $620,000 to expand the ShotSpotter gunshot detection system, $500,000 to help with the implementation of Group Violence Intervention (GVI), and millions that can be used to increase officer pay in the hopes of improving recruitment and retention. They also admirably resisted calls from radicals to defund LMPD.

Continue reading . . .