Monthly Archive: December 2022

Comedians in Jail and the Right to Counsel

The WaPo has this story about a strange case on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Jan. 6 conference list.

A Texas inmate filmed as part of a Comedy Central roast by comedian Jeff Ross while in jail is appealing his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the stand-up’s footage was improperly used to sentence him to death for attacking an elderly married couple.

Gabriel Hall was awaiting trial for a high-profile capital murder charge when Ross, known as the “Roastmaster General” for his insult comedy, was invited to Brazos County Jail and interviewed Hall and other inmates in 2015.

Though it never aired, the video was later subpoenaed and presented to the jury by the prosecutor, who argued Hall did not show remorse four years after the 2011 killing. But Hall’s legal team has argued that the taping happened without his lawyers’ knowledge and violated the inmate’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Continue reading . . .

Murderer Pleads Guilty to Avoid Death Penalty

A North Carolina man facing trial for murdering a little boy made a plea-bargain today to avoid a possible death sentence.  Andrew Mark Miller of Fox News reports that Darius Sessoms plead guilty to the August 2020 murder of five-year-old Cannon Hinnant, in exchange for a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole (LWOP).  The murder occurred when Sessoms walked up to the little boy as he was riding his bike in front of his home and shot him in the head at point-blank range.  Both of the child’s sisters witnessed the murder.  There is no known motive for the crime and the victim’s father told reporters that he considered Sessoms a friend to his family.  This plea deal would not have been available in a states which do not have a death penalty.

Continue reading . . .

Millionaire Serial Rapist Likely to Be Released in 4 Years Due to “Reforms”

The soft on crime crowd likes to call their agenda “criminal justice reform.” The term “reform” is usually associated with efforts to make things better, but so-called criminal justice reform in California appears to be aimed at creating as many miscarriages of justice as possible.

Andrew Luster, heir to the Max Factor make up fortune, committed multiple rapes by drugging his victims. In 2003, he was convicted of 86 offenses and sentenced to 124 years in prison, according to this story by Travis Schlepp for KTLA. With a sentence that long, one would think that the victims could rest assured he would never get out and put him out of their minds to the extent possible, right?

In 2003, Luster’s sentence was vacated on the ground that the original judge did not state the reasons for giving him the maximum on each count, as obvious as they may be, and the new judge resentenced him to 50 years. But that is still pretty much life without parole for a defendant who was 40 at the time of the trial, right? The victims could still rest assured he would not get out until he was dead or at least very old, couldn’t they? Enter Proposition 57. Continue reading . . .

A Second Look at Sentencing Reform

When she commuted of death sentences for every condemned murderer in Oregon last week, outgoing Governor Kate Brown may have given the state’s worst murderers the opportunity for parole.  An article in CNS News by Hans Bader reports that murderers who killed their victims before 1989, the year that the state adopted true life without parole (LWOP) as the alternative to a death sentence, can petition for parole because they are not eligible for LWOP.   The state’s other thirteen condemned murderers could become eligible for release under the state’s Second Chance Law.  The Oregonian reports that the law (SB 819) was adopted last year to give prison inmates a pathway to early release.  The measure was promoted by progressives who believe that no criminal should serve more than 20 years behind bars regardless of their crime.  Governor Brown signed that bill into law.

Continue reading . . .

Nevada Gov’s Plan to Clear Death Row Blocked by Marsy’s Law

Outgoing Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak had begun the process to clear out Nevada’s death row via a mass clemency. Fortunately, he does not have the authority to do that by himself. He had asked the state’s pardon board to put this step on its agenda. However, Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks challenged that action. Judge James Wilson ruled that the short-notice meeting violated Nevada’s version of Marsy’s Law, which gives victims a right to 15 days notice. The Nevada Independent has this story. Continue reading . . .

Domestic Terrorists Arrested in Atlanta

A group of five domestic terrorists were arrested Tuesday at a rural site in Atlanta.  Mark Miller of Fox News reports that police found explosive devices, gasoline and road flares.  All five were charged with domestic terrorism, criminal trespass and four were charged with aggravated assault.  Were these members of the dreaded QAnon, or the Proud Boys, the “domestic terrorist” groups targeted by the U.S. Department of Justice and vilified in the national media?  Nope, they are college-aged progressive anti-police activists who have been spiking trees, throwing Molotov cocktails at police, setting fires and carjacking among other crimes to stop the construction of a police training center.  The members of Stop Cop City claim they are also protecting the environment and have been living in trees adjacent to the site.  It is a sad fact that these anarchists are the product of the “woke” counterculture that is well established in colleges and universities, the national media, the federal and many state and local governments, entertainment, social media and too many U.S. corporations.

Outgoing Oregon Governor Commutes Death Sentences

With one month left in office,  Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced that she is commuting the death sentences of all seventeen murderers on the state’s death row to life without the possibility of parole.  CBS News reports that Brown, who has earned a reputation for issuing executive orders without legislative or public input, told reporters “I have long believed that justice is not advanced by taking a life…”  In 1978 and again in 1984, Oregon voters reinstated the death penalty for the state’s worst murderers  but the democrat-controlled government has not allowed an execution since 1997.  Brown is not the only governor who substituted her views on the death penalty for those of the people she is supposed to represent.  In 2019, newly-elected California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a reprieve for the murderers on that state’s death row, and dismantled the execution chamber.  He is currently shipping the state’s worst murderers out of death row to other prisons with more pleasant living conditions.

Co-Defendant Statements and Joint Trials

The U.S. Supreme Court this morning took up a case on the perennial knotty problem of the admissibility of co-defendant statements in joint trials. The case is Samia v. United States, No. 22-196. The out-of-court statement of one defendant is admissible against the defendant who made it, but generally not to incriminate other defendants. Continue reading . . .