Monthly Archive: January 2021

What To Make of Plea Bargaining?

The Federalist Society student chapter at Arizona State was kind enough to host Clark Neily of Cato and me for a discussion of the modern state of plea bargaining.  Is it a coercive and reckless tool for overbearing prosecutors, and one that all but eliminates the citizen participation the Founders thought essential for the criminal justice system, or a reasonably reliable tool for the government to adjudicate the flood of criminal cases and provide justice to many more crime victims than would otherwise be possible?

Clark  —  a gentleman throughout  —  and I have at it here.

Heritage Paper on LA DA Gascón

Charles Stimson and Zack Smith of the Heritage Foundation have prepared an extensive paper on the policies of Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón. The web version is here, and a downloadable PDF version is here. Here is the lead paragraph:

George Gascón, the Soros-backed former District Attorney of San Francisco, is now the District Attorney for Los Angeles County. He has, in mere weeks, put into place radical pro-criminal and anti-prosecution policies and is, in a twisted way, the gold standard for rogue prosecutors. The impact of his reckless and dangerous policies is just starting to be felt—and will come into full bloom in the months and years ahead.

Continue reading . . .

Murder Suspect Was Deported 10 Times

A Salvadorian national illegally in the United States is facing charges for murdering his ex-girlfriend.  Norma Riveiro and Lorena Bourdevaire Casillas of NBC4 in Los Angeles report that Herbert Nixon Flores was arrested in August for the severe beating of 35-year-old Karen Ruiz, but was released on bail days later.  On January 6, Flores can be seen on surveillance video fatally shooting Ruiz in front of their 3-year-old daughter.  In addition to being an illegal alien, Flores has an extensive criminal record including drug trafficking, illegal weapons, identity theft and domestic violence.  None of these crimes are considered serious or violent under current California law.  Flores had been deported by federal authorities 10 times since 1990.  California’s porous border and sanctuary state law, which protects criminal illegal aliens, played a role in his continued presence in the state and ultimately, the death of Karen Ruiz.

America’s Most Violent Year

With murder up nearly 37% in 57 medium to large U.S. cities in 2020, last year may go down as the most violent in U.S. history.   In an article in today’s Wall Street Journal,  Manhattan Institute scholar Heather MacDonald presents some startling numbers:  murders increased 95% in Milwaukee, 75% in Louisville, 74% in Seattle, 72% in Minneapolis, 62% in New Orleans, and 58% in Atlanta.  An estimated 2,000 more Americans was murdered last year, most of them black, including dozens of children.  Fifty-five children were murdered in Chicago.  In Los Angeles 40 children had been shot as of last September.   “Mainstream media and many politicians claim that the pandemic caused this bloodbath, but the chronology doesn’t support that assertion.”   The underlying  theme regarding crime and law enforcement over 2020 has been the “police are racist” dog-whistle blown by virtually every big city mayor and blue state governor in the country, with 24/7 reinforcement by the media.  It was the endlessly-repeated mantra by President Biden during his campaign, shared by almost all the Democrat candidates for the House and Senate.  While MacDonald presents hard data debunking the claim that police are selectively gunning down unarmed black suspects, the media has made sure that this  information is not being reported to the general public.

Continue reading . . .

Little Action on SCOTUS Monday

The U.S. Supreme Court released its orders list from Friday’s conference, but there is little action in criminal law.

The Boston Marathon Bomber case was not acted on, and the next conference is February 19. Hopes of having the case heard and decided this term are fading. Continue reading . . .

And Now for Something a Little Different

From (and confirmed by other sources):

A motorcade thief stole a woman’s car in Oregon, US, but halfway through the drive discovered a baby boy couched in the backseat. In a twist of fate, the suspect drove back due to moral consc[ience] to return the child to the mother, and also to lecture her for leaving her baby unattended. In a statement released by the Beaverton police, the car was stolen on Saturday outside Basics Meat Market. But the thief returned to the spot, chided the woman about forgetting the baby, and ordered her to get the child out of the car before driving off again.

Continue reading . . .

Virginia Bills Would Abolish Death Penalty, Allow Parole for Murderers

Virginia, a state which used to have the most effective capital punishment process in the country, is now considering abolishing its death penalty and allowing murderers to be released on parole.  Frank Green of the Richmond Times Dispatch reports that on Monday, SB 1165 cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party line vote.  The bill, which would abolish the death penalty, has Governor Ralph Northam’s support.   Hans Bader reports in Liberty Unyielding that last week, the head of the Virginia Courts of Justice Committee introduced SB 1370, which would allow parole to the state’s worst murderers, including serial killers.   The bill would apply retroactively to give killers serving life-without-parole sentences the opportunity for release.   As Bader notes,  “Allowing judges to retroactively shorten sentences would not only increase the crime rate, by reducing the deterrent effect of criminal penalties. It would reopen old wounds for crime victims, depriving them of any sense of closure or finality and taking away their peace of mind.”

Gascón Bars Deputies From Child Rapist’s Parole Hearing

Honoring his promise to reform the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office to advance the cause of social justice, a directive from progressive LA District Attorney George Gascón will prohibit the prosecutors under his command from attending the parole hearing of a pedophile who raped and sexually assaulted two children. Bill Melugin of Fox 11 Los Angeles reports that Ruben Beltran, who is serving a 15-to-life sentence for the sexual assault of a six-year-old girl and her 8-year-old brother has become eligible for parole. Normally, the deputy who prosecuted the case attends the parole hearing to remind the parole board of the circumstances of the crime and the threat to public safety posed by releasing the criminal.  Beltran, a friend of the victims’ divorced mother, moved into their home in order to perform repairs and abused her trust to prey upon the children. Under Gascón’s directive, the mother and her children are the only people authorized to argue against Beltran’s release. The mother told reporters, “We’re just a family, now we have to take on the role of law enforcement … rather than the people who should be defending the community.” Her letter to Gascón pleading with him to reconsider was not answered.

Awakening, Slowly

Earlier this month, Michael Rushford had this post on a San Francisco case where a habitual criminal killed two pedestrians in a hit-and-run. This Jan. 10 editorial similarly denounces the SF DA’s failure to keep this dangerous criminal locked up and his disingenuous attempt to blame the parole system. From the editorial (emphasis added):

His rap sheet dates back years, but the sum of the nightmare charges and past offenses match nearly every public grievance about rampant drug use, auto break-ins and burglaries, pedestrian safety, and the image of an ineffectual, spinning-door court system. The suspect didn’t deserve to be on the loose.

What is remarkable about this obviously correct statement is that it appears in an editorial of the San Francisco Chronicle, not a place we commonly see calls for tougher crime measures. Continue reading . . .