Monthly Archive: July 2020

Court Overturns Boston Bomber’s Death Sentence

In an unanimous 187 page ruling announced today, a panel of the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals overturned the death sentence given to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the two radical Muslim jihadist brothers who set off pressure-cooker bombs at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring 260 others.  Nick Givas of Fox News reports that the court found that the trial judge had failed to properly vet the sentencing jurors with regard to possible bias stemming from publicity surrounding the bombing.

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Still Not Guilty, but Still Hounded

Perhaps the defining moment of the Black Lives Matter movement, at least before George Floyd, was the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.  It gave rise to the slogan, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” which supposedly captured the moment in which Brown, with hands up and peacefully approaching white Police Officer Darren Wilson, was shoot dead for no reason.  That slogan is still shouted at BLM rallies today.

A new prosecutor, a black man, Wesley Bell, was elected in St. Louis County in 2018.  He reopened the investigation.  Result:  Darren Wilson is still not guilty of any crime that could be proven to a jury under the same standards applied to everyone else.

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Faithful Execution of the Laws

40 U.S.C. §1315(a):

To the extent provided for by transfers made pursuant to the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the Secretary of Homeland Security … shall protect the buildings, grounds, and property that are owned, occupied, or secured by the Federal Government … and the persons on the property.

“Shall,” for those unclear on the concept, means this is a duty.

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Who and What Is Racist, and What Difference Does It Make in Criminal Law?

I’ve said many times that race has no place in fair-minded thinking about criminal law, first because human beings should be judged as individuals and not as members of racial (or gender or other innate) groups; second because criminal law is about behavior not identity; and third because race does not determine anything at all with which criminal law specifically ought to concern itself.

But I’ve lost that debate.  It has become impossible in the current climate to exclude race from discussions of criminal law.  Given that as the state of play, what questions should we be asking?

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A Presentation Featuring the Incomparable Heather Mac Donald

CJLF’s Legal Director, Kent Scheidegger, is for my money the country’s most knowledgeable, intellectually adept and fair-minded expert on the death penalty and habeas corpus.  Heather Mac Donald fills the same role on the intersection of crime, race and policing.  She will be holding forth in a presentation Thursday at noon Central Time.  This link tells you how to sign up to watch.  The way things are now, you can learn more listening to Heather for ten minutes than going to law school for three years.

When the Insurrection Comes Home

Georgetown is a popular and lively part of Washington, DC with quite a few bars and upscale restaurants.  It attracts college students and young adults on the way up.  A resident of nearby Northern Virginia and a friend of mine, Prof. David Bernstein of Antonin Scalia Law School, posted yesterday about a revealing episode on a Georgetown street  —  an episode relevant to this blog and beyond.

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Just Go Ahead and Lie, ACLU Edition

In my last post, I noted that, when the sentencing reform crowd runs out of room to distort language, they just flat-out lie.  The example I gave was New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who claims, in the face of an astonishing surge in NYC murders, that the City is “safer.”

The ink was barely dry on that post when I saw, courtesy of Sentencing Law and Policy, an entry about an ACLU report out today, July 27.  The ACLU makes the following assertion (emphasis added):

Nearly every county jail that we examined [in 29 big cities, not including New York] reduced their population, if only slightly, between the end of February and the end of April. Over this time period, we found that the reduction in jail population was functionally unrelated to crime trends in the following months….We found no evidence of any spikes in crime in any of the 29 locations, even when comparing monthly trends over the past two years. The release of incarcerated people from jails has saved lives both in jails and in the community, all while monthly crime trends were within or below average ranges in every city.

Did I mention something about a flat-out lie?

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When Fudging Language Won’t Work, Just Go Ahead and Lie

In my last post, I noted how anti-police arson, rock throwing and assault have become, in the magical language of criminal justice reformers and their allies in the press, “‘intensified’ peacefulness.”  There are times, though, when even a seemingly infinite willingness to mangle the meaning of language won’t get the job done.  When this happens, there’s a ready solution:  Lie.

Enter noted criminal justice reformer, Mayor Bill de Blasio.

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Violence Gets a New Name

The new name is “mostly peaceful.”  That’s the phrase the media use to describe the five or ten minutes Antifa and other thug groups take to organize themselves before they begin the evening’s “entertainment” of arson, rock throwing and assault in one major city after the next.  But sometimes the, uh, peacefulness “intensifies.”

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