In an unpublished ruling released earlier this month, a divided panel of the California’s First District Court of Appeal overturned the murder conviction of DeAngelo Cortijo, a well known Bay Area criminal justice reform advocate. The San Jose Mercury News reports that a jury found Cortijo guilty of the fatal shooting of 26-year-old Oakland resident Jamad Jerkins in 2016. At trial, Jerkins’ girlfriend testified that he had told her about an earlier incident where Cortijo had pulled a gun on Jerkins. The judge sustained the defense objection that the girlfriend’s statement was hearsay, and instructed the jury to ignore it, but he refused Cortijo’s request for a mistrial. Cortijo later testified that he had confronted Jerkins in an apartment parking lot, pointing a loaded gun at him, and claimed that when Jerkins tried to slap the gun away, it went off.
Monthly Archive: March 2020
It was a quiet morning in the U.S. Supreme Court, as the Court decided one civil case on liability for an oil spill and took up one case involving civil suits against federal law enforcement officers. Continue reading . . .
The WSJ has this article with the above headline, subhead As crime falls, police focus on keeping social order, enforcing social distancing:
Law and order is changing across America during the novel coronavirus pandemic, as police pull back on arrests for small-time crimes and instead focus on breaking up gatherings that pose health risks, all the while coping with the perils of a job that can’t be done with social distancing. Continue reading . . .
The litigation over California’s prison system continues in federal court despite Realignment, Proposition 47, and Proposition 57. Part of the sales pitch for Proposition 57 was that without it we would “risk a court-ordered release of dangerous prisoners.”* Yet the suit drags on without end, and now the inmates are seeking, yes, another “court-ordered release,” including “release of dangerous prisoners.” Continue reading . . .
In the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Congress cracked down on prisoners making repeated collateral attacks on their convictions and sentences. AEPDA included a very strict rule for successive petitions by state prisoners in 28 U.S.C. §2244(b)(1)&(2). A less stringent rule for federal prisoners was added to the end of the separate section for federal-prisoner collateral review, §2255, language that is now designated subdivision (h) of that section.
Does the rule for state prisoners also apply to federal prisoners? Of course not. I’m surprised anyone ever thought it did. Yet it appears that six federal courts of appeals have so held. On Monday, the Supreme Court turned down a case attempting to raise the issue, but Justice Kavanaugh noted the Court should address it soon. Continue reading . . .
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has postponed the execution of murderer Tracy Lane Beatty due to the corona virus. Blake Holland of KLTV reports that Beatty was scheduled to be executed today for the 2003 murder of his 62-year-old mother. The Texas Daily Independent reported that Beatty had previous convictions for drug possession, theft, weapons possession, a brutal assault against a child under two years of age, and prior assaults against his mother, a correctional officer, and others. While incarcerated, Beatty had a physical altercation with a corrections officer and was found with a shank. He had also joined a prison gang.
Today the Governor of Colorado signed the bill repealing the death penalty. Repeal is a subject that reasonable people can and do disagree on. However, in a shameless act of legislative cowardice, the Legislature put a patently false declaration in the bill for the sole purpose of defeating the power of referendum that the people of Colorado have reserved to themselves. For that, every legislator who voted for this bill deserves to be defeated at their next election. Continue reading . . .
This morning I noted the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Kahler v. Kansas, upholding a Kansas statute that limits the insanity defense to inability to know what one is doing, omitting the traditional alternative of inability to know that what one is doing is morally wrong. There are many interesting aspects of the debate between Justice Kagan’s opinion for the Court and Justice Breyer’s dissent, but for this post I will focus on just one. The hypothetical that Justice Breyer invokes repeatedly in his argument makes no sense.
Three weeks after California’s March 3rd primary election, the outcome of several races across the state remains uncertain due to the state’s multiple “election reform” laws. Motor Voter, Jungle Primary, provisional balloting and ballot harvesting have turned the state election process into a template for incompetence, corruption and fraud, where the final vote count is not known for several weeks and its accuracy never confirmed. With several million mail-in and provisional ballots uncounted the day after the election some contests that were not even close on March 4, may completely change weeks later.
The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected the claim that the Constitution requires a State to recognize an insanity defense based on the defendant’s inability to know his conduct is wrong. It is sufficient, if a State so chooses, to limit the defense to the defendant’s inability to know what he was doing. Justice Elena Kagan wrote the opinion of the Court in Kahler v. Kansas, No. 18-6135.