Monthly Archive: April 2022

Biden Discovers the War on Cops

After eighteen months of insisting that the most serious problem facing America is white supremacy, the Biden Justice Department has finally noticed that violence against law enforcement “doesn’t get enough attention,” as noted by FBI Director Christopher Wray.  Wray told 60 minutes that last year there was a 59% increase in murders of police officers, with an officer murdered nearly once every five days.

Manhattan Institute scholar Heather MacDonald has this piece in the New York Post calling the administration’s fixation about white-supremacists “preposterous.”

“It is violent street crime — drive-by shootings, sadistic robberies, carjackings — that has been destroying lives at an increasing rate since the George Floyd race riots. White-supremacist violence played no role in the record-breaking 29% national homicide increase in 2020 or in the ongoing crime surge since then.

As startling as that 2020 homicide increase was, cop murders rose at twice that rate in 2021. A significant portion of those fatalities were ambushes, which were up 91% by mid-2021. Through April 26 of this year, gun murders of cops are up another 13% over the same period in 2021. Shootings of officers, lethal and nonlethal, were up 43% by early April.”

Continue reading . . .

Unqualified AG Candidate Removed from DC Ballot

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals today affirmed a trial court decision removing the leading candidate for Attorney General from the ballot. The qualification statute requires that the candidate have been actively involved for 5 of the last 10 years in the practice of law, service as a judge, being a law professor at a DC law school, or “As an attorney employed in the District of Columbia by the United States or the District of Columbia.”

The court held that legislative service as a council member by a person who happens to be an attorney does not meet the last criterion.

California requires only being a member of the bar for five years. No actual experience required. Continue reading . . .

Defense-Oriented Academia Goes Over the Cliff

One thing opponents of sober law enforcement and sentencing constantly tell us  is that they are guided  —  but we aren’t  —  by “science” and “evidence-based solutions.”  If you follow their views, you’re not merely “compassionate,” but, perhaps more importantly, “smart.”  This is why “smart on crime” always turns out, if and when you can decipher all the razzle-dazzle language, to be merely soft on crime,  —  which of course is the point from the get-go but needs to be hidden.

But dizzy with all their blood-soaked success of late,  academia is getting less careful about hiding the pro-criminal nuttiness they try to pass off as “science.”  Hence today’s entry.

Continue reading . . .

Can You Spot the Commonality?

As liberal programs for less accountability for criminals take root in one city after another  —  “criminal justice reform” is its intentionally opaque name  —  criminals have noticed.  So have their victims.  The quality and safety of urban life cascade downhill,  but the most affected remain the common folk, so the political and academic elites can pretend it’s all a big mystery (or just ignore it).  But the New York Times, of all things, spills the beans, albeit indirectly and unintentionally.

Continue reading . . .

California’s Prison Credit Mess, Explained

Retired Deputy Director of California State Parole Douglas Eckenrod explains the present mess with excessive early release credits being handed out to prisoners in this interview with California Insider on Epoch TV.

The credits are presently being challenged in two lawsuits where CJLF is representing the plaintiffs and a third being conducted by the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office on behalf of dozens of California district attorneys.

Habeas Corpus, Relitigation, and Taking Statutes Seriously

“When Congress supplies a constitutionally valid rule of decision, federal courts must follow it.” You wouldn’t think it would be necessary for the Supreme Court of the United States to say that. Everybody knows that. Don’t they? But the Court did find it necessary to say that yesterday in the case of Brown v. Davenport, No. 20-826.

Ervine Davenport was convicted of strangling Annette White to death. His case was thoroughly reviewed by the Michigan appellate courts who ultimately decided that although an error had occurred it had no effect on the outcome. As the Supreme Court has long recognized, ” ‘a defendant is entitled to a fair trial but not a perfect one,’ for there are no perfect trials.” This is the “harmless error” rule.

The general rule in our judicial system is that once a judgment has been reviewed up the appellate chain and affirmed the case is over. With limited exceptions, you can’t go running to another court, especially one that does not have appellate jurisdiction over the court that entered the judgment, and attack the judgment by claiming that the first set of courts got it wrong.

Congress sharply narrowed one of the exceptions in 1996, blocking the lower federal courts from overturning reasonable decisions of state courts merely because they disagree with them. Is there something about the harmless error rule that makes it different so that this statute need not be applied?

The obvious answer is “of course not.” So why did this question even have to come to the Supreme Court? Continue reading . . .

Lying For a Good Cause

As the pandemic fades, states with active capital punishment laws are resuming executions of their worst murderers.  Over the coming weeks as condemned murderers in Missouri, Arizona and Texas are scheduled for execution, death penalty opponents have resumed their insistence that innocent people are facing execution.  The latest “wrongly convicted” posterboy is actually a woman named Melissa Lucio.  Lucio was convicted in 2007 for the murder of her two-year-old daughter Mariah.  ABC, CNN, CBS, Yahoo News, Time and several other news outlets are regurgitating the press releases from the Innocence Project and other anti-death penalty groups which assert that Lucio was forced to confess by police, and that medical evidence proves that she did not commit the murder.  An example is a story by Ed Pilkington in the April 21 issue of The Guardian, “Texas mother set for execution – yet evidence suggests she did not kill her child.”

Update:  The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has granted Lucio a stay of execution, as reported here.

Continue reading . . .

The Economic Impact of Drug Use

Many readers will have noticed that, practically everywhere you go, you see “Help Wanted” signs.  I’m in my seventies, and at no point have I seen as many as I see now.  What’s behind this?

One big answer is tanking labor force participation:  More and more people of working age are simply opting not to get a job.  This is a curious phenomenon.  Although my family was well off, when I reached working age, not getting a job was never even considered an option.  The economic analysts at Axios, which has a generally liberal bent, provide one answer about what’s different now.  I quote part of its newsletter below.

Continue reading . . .

Cannabis and Sex Offenses

As more jurisdictions legalize cannabis for medicinal and recreational use, it is worth considering how the ineludible uptick in its use might affect society.  For most users, this effect has no bearing on criminal justice issues.  But cannabis might have a plausible role in the commission of sex offenses, given its unique effects on sexual drive and practices.  My colleague Michelle Vorwerk and I examine the topic (subscription required) in a forthcoming article in Behavioral Sciences and the Law.

The Correct Outcome in Vega v. Tekoh

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court heard argument in Vega v. Tekoh.  That case presents the question whether a plaintiff has a civil remedy against a police officer under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for obtaining a statement in violation of the Constitution, when the statement was later admitted at his trial.  In Vega, the statement was obtained from a suspect in custody without having first given him his Miranda warnings.  In other words, one pivotal question is whether or not Miranda warnings are required by the Constitution, in particular the Fifth Amendment.

An earlier case, Dickerson v. United States, 530 U.S. 428 (2000) seems to suggest that they are.  In fact they aren’t, and for that reason the police officer should win this case.

Continue reading . . .