Monthly Archive: October 2021

Reality Can’t Be Hidden Forever

The headline in today’s Washington Post story is:  “In a setback for Black Lives Matter, mayoral campaigns shift to ‘law and order’.”

Yes, it’s all true.  When violent crime surges, the public demands protection.  Who woulda thunk it?

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Restore the “Rigid Order of Battle Rule” for Qualified Immunity Cases?

When the complaining party in a lawsuit must clear multiple hurdles in order to obtain relief, does the judge need to decide them in any particular order? The answer is “sometimes.” See pages 20-23 of CJLF’s brief in Brown v. Davenport, presently pending in the U.S. Supreme Court.

In cases where a public employee (very often a police officer) is claimed to have violated someone’s rights and asserts qualified immunity, there was for eight years a “rigid order of battle rule.” The Supreme Court decided in Saucier v. Katz (2001) that judges must decide whether the plaintiffs’ allegations, if true, would amount to a constitutional violation before deciding whether that rule was “clearly established” so as to defeat the claim of qualified immunity. In Pearson v. Callahan (2009), the Court decided unanimously that the rule was a bad idea and dumped it. See this post.

John Ketchum has this article in the City Journal calling for the return of the Saucier rule. Though I supported dumping the rule, Ketchum does make some interesting points. Continue reading . . .

Oklahoma to Resume Executions

In a 5-3 decision today the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a stay of execution for Oklahoma murderer John Grant.  Sean Murphy of the Middletown Press reports that the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals had granted a stay yesterday for Grant’s scheduled execution today.  Today’s action by SCOTUS makes it likely that the execution will be carried out.  It will be the first execution in Oklahoma since 2015.  Grant was serving a 150-year sentence for several armed robberies when in 1998, he dragged a female prison cafeteria worker into a closet and stabbed her 16 times with a homemade shank.  Along with Grant, four other condemned Oklahoma murderers lost their federal District Court suit last week seeking to block their pending executions, arguing that the state’s three drug protocol might cause pain in violation of  the 8th Amendment bar against cruel and unusual punishment.

Update:   Grant was executed on Thursday night.

Are Criminal Justice Reforms Making Us Safe?

The answer is yes, according to a Los Angeles Times OpEd by former Los Angeles District Attorneys Ira Reiner and Gil Garcetti and former federal prosecutor Miriam Aroni Krinsky.   Their piece “Stop obstructing criminal justice reforms.  It’s making us less safe,”  cites evidence-based polices like the ones progressive LA District Attorney Gascon “is implementing in Los Angeles hold people accountable without relying on extreme sentences, and they save taxpayer dollars that could be invested in things that actually have an impact on crime, such as public health, housing, education and violence prevention.”  The trio point to the 1980s and 90s when, “California embarked on a disastrous social experiment…….that ratcheted up punishment in criminal cases.  The negative impact of these policies overwhelming fell on poor, Black and brown communities.”   Let’s take a look at that negative impact.

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Murder Cases Bumped from SCOTUS Calendar

The U.S. Supreme Court had scheduled two murder cases, both involving defendants named Ramirez, for argument on November 1. Last Friday, however, the Court bumped them and scheduled arguments on the controversial Texas abortion law for that date. Yes, Virginia, there really is a Supreme Court issue more controversial than capital punishment. Continue reading . . .

Is the Federal Death Penalty Act’s Evidence Rule Unconstitutional?

Is the Federal Death Penalty Act’s evidence provision unconstitutional? Does the defendant have a constitutional right to introduce evidence of marginal probative value outweighed by other considerations, which the statute says the trial judge may exclude?

These are the surprising implications of the defense argument in the Boston Marathon Bomber case, argued in the U.S. Supreme Court October 13. I suppose if you are defending the indefensible you have to argue something. But it is surprising when a lawyer barely mentions the primary ground of the decision she is asking to have affirmed. Continue reading . . .

Milestone Met in SF Recall of Chesa Boudin

Pigs were seen flying over San Francisco last weekend as the campaign to recall uber-progressive District Attorney Chesa Boudin turned in 83,487 signatures to county officials last Friday.  Evan Symon of the California Globe reports that 51,325 signatures are required to put the recall on the ballot, which leaders of the Safer SF Without Boudin say is now nearly a certainty.  “It says a lot about the anger and the fear that San Franciscans have about what’s going on in the community,” said the Co-chairwoman of the group.  Boudin’s tenure as District Attorney has been marked by skyrocketing crime, including shootings, while his office has chosen not to prosecute thousands of offenders arrested for theft, drugs, assault and burglary.

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Spam With a Smile

Spam is mostly a pain in the gluteus maximus, but every once in a while it furnishes some amusement. I got this gem in my inbox this morning.

I’m emailing you today because I noticed James H wrote a bad review for your company, U.S. Department Of Justice on Google. I don’t think it’s a fair review and I want to help you remove it and others from Google, Avvo, Yelp, and other review sites. We built our company, Dandy, with the sole purpose of helping law firms remove unfair bad reviews … Continue reading . . .

The Disparate Impact of Crime

Jason Riley has this column in the WSJ pointing out a problem that does not get enough attention. When crime rates go up, the added crimes hurt people of modest means much more than they hurt the affluent. That is a substantial part of why soft-on-crime policies get the greatest support on the ends of the socio-economic spectrum — the criminals themselves and the affluent who are little affected by them — while those more affected by crime tend to support stronger measures. Continue reading . . .

Spike in Homicides Hits Midsized Cities Hardest

“A recent poll from Morning Consult/Politico found that 78 percent of voters believe that violent crime is a major problem in the United States, and nearly as high a percentage thought that the problem is getting worse,” as noted by Josh Crawford and Abigal Hall of the Pegasus Institute.  Their piece in Real Clear Policy points out that while media attention regarding violent crime and homicide is focused on large cities such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, “it’s midsize cities in the middle of the country which have seen the largest increases in violent crime.   Murder has exploded in Minneapolis, Milwaukee and Birmingham, for example – but perhaps no city better illustrates this reality than Louisville.”

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