Monthly Archive: July 2021

The New York Mayoral Primary

Earlier this week, after much grinding through the complex ranked-choice voting system, AP called the Democratic primary for Mayor of New York for Eric Adams. Today the WSJ has this editorial. “Perhaps the city that these days never sleeps safely has a chance to reverse its eight-year downward spiral under mayor Bill de Blasio.”

Perhaps, but that is a very tall order. Continue reading . . .

Merrick Garland Suspends Use of the Federal Death Penalty

Attorney General Merrick Garland yesterday announced that he is suspending use of the federal death penalty:

“The Department of Justice must ensure that everyone in the federal criminal justice system is not only afforded the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States, but is also treated fairly and humanely,” said Attorney General Garland. “That obligation has special force in capital cases.”

What to make of this announcement, and of its timing?

Continue reading . . .

Biden Tanks as Violent Crime Rises

The Washington Post, ever tooting the horn for President Biden and his pet project of more gun control, nonetheless apparently sees itself as forced to cover some of the uncomfortable truths about surging violent crime, what the public wants to do about it, and what the President says he wants to do about it.  (What he’s actually done, so far as on-the-ground results show, is nothing).

The Post’s headline is, “Concern over crime is growing — but Americans don’t just want more police, Post-ABC poll shows.”

Continue reading . . .

Ineffective Assistance, Strategic Decisions, and Making a Record

The U.S. Supreme Court wrapped up its October 2020 Term with a summary reversal of a federal court of appeals decision for — you guessed it — giving the state court insufficient credit as required by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act’s so-called “deference” provision, 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). This time it was the Eleventh Circuit, further undermining my old “circuits divisible by three” rule.

The twist in Dunn v. Reeves, No. 20-1084 is that the Eleventh had based its holding on Justice Sotomayor’s dissent from denial of certiorari earlier in the same case. The unsigned opinion of the Court rebukes the Eleventh for its failure to properly observe § 2254(d), noting that the case is in a different posture on habeas corpus than on the Supreme Court’s direct review of a state court decision. Despite that difference, Justice Sotomayor is livid, with a dissent as long as the opinion of the Court. Continue reading . . .

Advancing police use of force research

In the past few years, the use of force by police officers has been getting increasingly more attention in the United States and elsewhere, with many advocates pushing for widespread reform in this regard. Unfortunately though, research on police use of force still fails to provide answers to many important questions. A recently published article in the British Psychological Society’s Urgent Issues and Prospects series summarizes the most urgent issues in police use of force based on knowledge from police scholars and practitioners. The article outlines key considerations for advancing police use of force research, many of which center around police de-escalation and use of force training. Continue reading . . .