Monthly Archive: May 2020

Lawyers versus the Police, Literally Speaking

It’s been the case for a long time that the public has much more trust in the police than in lawyers  —  something Gallup confirmed again this year.  One might speculate that this is because the police are there to advance the public’s interest while lawyers are there to advance the client’s, even when it may not be particularly commendable (e.g., when a violent criminal is seeking a trickster acquittal).

It would seem that some lawyers aren’t reacting to the disparity too well.  This of course is an extreme episode, no more representative of the legal profession than the homicide of  George Floyd is representative of the police profession.

Giving Second Chances — With A Twist

One of the most frequent, and in its way appealing, pitches for reducing prison sentences, or avoiding them entirely if at all possible, is that we all “make mistakes” and should be given a second chance.  The last few days have brought us the appalling story of the police killing of an unarmed and subdued man in Minneapolis.  As it turns out, there’s a tale about second chances lurking not far in the background. Continue reading . . .

Using the Pandemic to Empty Out Prisons

Longtime de-incarceration advocates are insisting on the increased use of compassionate release and home confinement during the current pandemic, and ask why officials can’t continue to make these modest releases—and then some—after the pandemic passes, especially if crime doesn’t rise as a result and cash-strapped states want the biggest bang for their public safety bucks?   Jordan S. Rubin of Bloomberg Law writes that “reformers, who’ve been fighting for years against warehousing older and sick inmates in particular, see a glimmer of hope that this generational tragedy could serve to promote a more evidence-based approach to crime and punishment.”

Continue reading . . .

New York’s Crazy “Green Light” Law

This has not been a good year for New York. The state was caught flat-footed by the COVID-19 pandemic, then the governor ordered nursing homes to accept people with the infection, resulting in thousands of unnecessary deaths.  It looks as if New York City will suffer the longest and most restrictive lockdown in the country, killing off about half of its businesses.  The subways have turned into homeless shelters, endangering those who must ride or work in them.  The no-bail law which took effect in January has flooded the city with criminals and shootings, auto theft, and commercial burglaries are all increasing. When the lockdown is finally lifted, law-abiding New Yorkers will become victims to increased robberies and assaults by criminals that the governor was concerned might get sick. Add to this hot mess, the new “Green Light Law” enacted in April.  The new law makes it a felony for any DMV employee or New York cop to share information about illegal aliens given driver’s licenses with federal immigration agents. Adam Shaw of Fox News reports on why this creates a serious law enforcement problem. Continue reading . . .

How Gen. Flynn Should Have Answered the FBI’s Question

One of the reasons I was slow to come around to Gen. Flynn’s side was my view that he could have avoided all his troubles on his own by being thoroughly, indeed enthusiastically, honest with the agent who interviewed him.  The agent asked him if he had had prior conversations with the Russian ambassador about American sanctions and the possible Russian response.  According to the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss the indictment, Flynn answered, inter alia, “Not really.  I don’t remember.  It wasn’t, ‘Don’t do anything.'”  Flynn also stated that although it was possible, he did not recall any conversation in which the ambassador stated that Russian would moderate its response due to Mr. Flynn’s request.

At best, these were not straightforward and forthcoming answers.  There is no realistic possibility that Flynn didn’t remember that one of his main tasks for the prior six weeks or so was to see if Russia would moderate its response, and that he had talked to the ambassador about just that.

Gen. Flynn had a much better answer right in front of his face. Continue reading . . .

The Winning Argument for Gen. Flynn

In my last post, I discussed five arguments I often see made in behalf of Gen. Flynn that don’t hold water, either because they are contrary to established law or because they take a skewed or insufficiently documented view of the facts of his case.  I now want to outline the one argument that should, and will, win the case for him, and upon which the Justice Department’s motion for dismissal should be granted. Continue reading . . .

SCOTUS Denies Stay of COVID Jailbreak Order on Procedural Grounds

The U.S. Supreme Court today denied the federal government’s request to stay a “jailbreak” order of a district court in Ohio. The Court’s order notes:

[O]n May 19 [the day before the stay petition], the District Court issued a new order enforcing the preliminary injunction and imposing additional measures. The Government has not sought review of or a stay of the May 19 order in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Particularly in light of that procedural posture, the Court declines to stay the District Court’s April 22 preliminary injunction without prejudice to the Government seeking a new stay if circumstances warrant ….

Continue reading . . .

Welcome Back, Bill Otis

C&C is pleased to welcome back Bill Otis, returning as an “outside blogger” after an extended hiatus. His first post is here.

As a reminder, our outside bloggers are like columnists in a newspaper. We invite them because we think their posts will be interesting to our readers. They are not otherwise affiliated with CJLF, however, and do not speak for the organization. The views they express are their own and are not screened in advance.

Criminal Arrested for Stabbing After Multiple Pandemic Releases

A San Diego man arrested and released at least five times in recent weeks is now being held in jail for attempted murder.  David Hernandez of the San Diego Tribune reports that Timothy Alvarado was arrested for attempted murder for a stabbing attack on a homeless man. In early April, Alvarado was released from jail after a burglary conviction, just days before the state announced a $0 bail policy for nonviolent felons to protect jails from the coronavirus. A month later Alvarado led police on an high-speed chase after stealing a minivan from a car lot. He was arrested, cited, and released. Two days later Alvarado was arrested in a stolen Jaguar, before being cited and released.  The following week he was arrested, cited, and released for stealing a Mitsubishi. Four days later he was arrested for stealing the same Mitsubishi and, of course, cited and released. Last Saturday, an officer heard a man screaming and saw Alvarado running from the victim. The victim was hospitalized with serious injuries, and Alvarado was arrested. Under current California law, a criminal can be arrested and released for multiple felonies until he hurts or kills someone.

Florida Supreme Court Corrects Another Death Penalty Error

Until fairly recently, the Florida Supreme Court seemed determined to maximize the damage caused by new pronouncements from the U.S. Supreme Court in capital cases. One such error was corrected in January. Another one was corrected last week.

In 1982, Probation Supervisor Bjorn Svenson was ambushed by one of his parolees, who emptied his weapon into Supervisor Svenson, reloaded, and shot him twice more. The murderer’s latest attempt to escape long-overdue justice was shot down by the Florida Supreme Court last Thursday.

Continue reading . . .