Category: Notorious Cases

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 . . .

The Stench Gets Some Air Freshener

Yesterday, I wrote that the stench of politics had taken hold at the Justice Department when, at the last minute, it decided to deep-six a brief supporting the sound analysis of the Eleventh Circuit in a crack cocaine sentencing case and argue instead that the overall “intent” of two leniency-oriented statutes, the Fair Sentencing Act and the First Step Act, should displace their plain text.  A unanimous SCOTUS made short work of DOJ’s lame appeal to duck the words Congress chose in favor of a more Oprah Winfrey-like approach.  The only conceivable reason for the Department’s unprincipled, embarrassing and (fortunately) futile action was politics  —   specifically, that pro-drug and pro-criminal elements in the President’s political base simply wanted what they wanted.  That DOJ at its highest levels would so easily be chased away from a sober approach to its legal obligations is alarming.

I’m happy to report that, today, we saw a different face.

Continue reading . . .

Older Women Stabbed at SF Bus Stop in Broad Daylight

A man attacked two older women waiting for a bus on Market Street in the heart of San Francisco in broad daylight and then casually walked away. One was in her 60s and one was in her 80s. Both are out of surgery and in the ICU as of this writing. A suspect has been arrested, described only as a San Francisco man in his 50s.

Kate Larson has this report for KGO. A witness who works at a nearby flower stand said, “I feel like we do need more officers patrolling.” The member of the Board of Supervisors who represents the district said, “We have to hold people accountable who are committing crimes like this, we have to have police in areas where people need to be safe and have them more visible.”

In other words, everything the “woke” crowd is saying is wrong, and we need an about-face in criminal justice policy. We need it right now. Continue reading . . .

The Chauvin Verdict and Its Unwanted Lessons (for Both Sides)

I wanted to wait a day or two to sift through the Chauvin verdict.  It was a case that saw a good deal of side-switching:  Many on the right who normally root for a conviction were ready to find reasons there shouldn’t be one here, while people on the left  —  ones who reflexively root for the defendant simply to give “the system” its comeuppance  —  were eager for this particular defendant to get hit with both barrels.

My own view is that choosing sides in that way confounds what the rule of law does and ought to do.  But it was also a window into a good deal of thinking that goes on below the surface.

Continue reading . . .

Felony Murder, Depraved Hearts, and the Chauvin Verdict

Former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted yesterday of three charges: second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. (Since all three were based on the same act against the same victim, he will only be punished for one.) Understanding these charges, and how likely they are to be sustained on appeal, requires some background.

Felony Murder

The second-degree murder charge is based on the controversial felony-murder rule. This rule is a prime target of the criminal justice “reform” movement. The California Legislature has abolished the rule to the extent that it can, being limited by a voter-enacted initiative. Continue reading . . .

No Charges for Officer in Capitol Riot Shooting

Sadie Gurman reports for the WSJ:

The police officer who shot and killed Ashli Babbitt during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol won’t face federal criminal charges in connection with her death, the Justice Department said Wednesday.
*      *      *
“Based on that investigation, officials determined that there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution,” the Justice Department said in a statement announcing the closure of its probe. Continue reading . . .