Court: San Francisco Cannot Restrict Drug Dealers

In a story that fits the category of “only in California” a state court of appeals has ruled that the City of San Francisco cannot restrict a group of known drug dealers from a 50-block neighborhood known as the Tenderloin.  Evan Symon of the California Globe reports that four drug dealers filed a lawsuit against the city after the City Attorney issued a public nuisance order barring 28 known dealers from visiting the neighborhood.  For years the Tenderloin has been the epicenter of drug dealing and fatal overdoses, and the city Attorney issued the order because under, California law, street dealing is a misdemeanor which carries no real consequences.  Progressive San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin does not even prosecute misdemeanors.

Continue reading . . .

Another Increase in LA Murders

According to data released by the LAPD, homicides in the city of Los Angeles have increased this year after reaching a 15-year high in 2021.  Kevin Rector of the Los Angeles Times reports that the 397 murders recorded last year were the most since 2006.   Like last year, news stories covering the increases in murders reflexively follow the same narrative, ie: The bloodshed remains far below that of the early 1990s, when the city had more than 1,000 homicides per year.”  This leaves out the fact that between 1974 and 1994 homicides in California doubled under sentencing reforms adopted in the late 1960s.  The annual increase in homicides over the past two years is unprecedented.  If California’s recent host of “compassionate” sentencing reforms are not rejected, the state is well on the way to matching its 1994 murder rate.  The story also reports the violent crimes in LA through April were up 7.2% and property crimes were up over 11%.  The actual number of property crimes is unquestionably much higher.  With little or no consequences for most property crimes in California,  many victims are not even reporting them to police.

Supreme Court Declines Case of Missouri Murderer

Update (5/4): The execution was carried out on the evening of May 3, CBS/AP report.

The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to review, again, the capital sentence of Missouri murderer Carman Deck, whose long-overdue execution is scheduled for tomorrow.

Deck and an accomplice planned to burglarize the home of an elderly couple, James and Zelma Long. They knocked on the door and pretended to need directions. After the Longs admitted them into their home, Deck pulled a gun and demanded their valuables. Even though they complied with his demands, he shot and killed both of them.

Deck had to be sentenced three times. The first sentencing was marred by an error of his own attorney, failing to object to the fact that a portion of the jury instructions was missing. The second sentencing was conducted in accordance with all the rules in effect at the time, which severely limited the shackling of defendants in the guilt phase of the trial. The rationale of that precedent was that shackling impaired the presumption of innocence, making it obviously inapplicable to the penalty trial. The U.S. Supreme Court took his case up and extended its precedent into the penalty phase, moving the goalposts after the trial. Continue reading . . .

The role of the U.S. government in the law enforcement response to protests

A new report published by the Niskanen Center discusses some possible strategies that the U.S. federal government can use to help law enforcement better respond to protests and crowded events. When responding to protests, law enforcement officers are expected to apply proportional and impartial strategies to preserve public safety but also protect constitutional rights of free speech and assembly. There are many deficiencies in the current way that law enforcement responds to protests, though, including: 1) patterns of disproportionate response, such as tendencies to both under- and over-respond to public safety threats; 2) reliance on outdated training, strategies, and tactics; and 3) providing guidance to state and local agencies that lacks an evidence base.

The law enforcement response to protests varies a lot by locality, but the federal government can help shape this response both directly and indirectly. As a direct form of assistance, the federal government can respond to protests on federal property or in and around federal buildings. For example, federal law enforcement agencies typically are responsible for policing protests that occur in Washington, D.C., as it is a federal district. Federal law enforcement can also be called on to provide mutual aid in communities. When it comes to indirect assistance, the federal government can play a role by training state and local police agencies on responses to crowd management and civil disturbances, something that is offered by many federal agencies. For example, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides training to law enforcement agencies at local, state, and federal levels, while the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC) provide training to federal law enforcement personnel.

Continue reading . . .

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.

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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 . . .