Thursday, November 14, 2019

Thiel College-The Death Penalty

Thiel College-Comment Project No. 5

The neuropsychology issue raised in juvenile death penalty cases before the U.S. Supreme Court has jumped to non-death penalty cases like juvenile life without parole. Do you think brain development cases will further seep into juvenile criminal jurisprudence?  Explain your position in detail.

Will SCOTUS expand the ability of police to stop motorists?

Michael McGough, senior opinion writer for the Los Angles Times, formerly of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes:
The 4th Amendment prohibits “unreasonable searches and seizures.” But the Supreme Court has interpreted that protection pretty loosely when it comes to traffic stops, for which the police need only “reasonable suspicion” that the law is or has been broken. (The same indulgent standard applies when police stop and frisk a pedestrian.)
This week the justices heard arguments in a case that could make it even easier for the police to stop — and potentially search — a car. Ominously, the majority seemed likely to give police an additional benefit of the doubt.
The case stems from a 2016 incident in which a sheriff’s deputy in Douglas County, Kan., spotted a pickup truck and decided to run the vehicle’s license plate through a state registration database. The search turned up the information that Charles Glover Jr., the owner, had had his driver’s license revoked.
The deputy stopped the truck, which was being driven by Glover, and cited him for the offense of habitually driving with a suspended license.
This might seem an easy case. But Glover challenged the legality of the traffic stop, claiming that the deputy had made an unreasonable assumption that the owner of the car (whose license had been suspended) was in fact the person driving the car. (It doesn’t matter that it turned out that the driver was the owner; an unconstitutional search or seizure is unconstitutional even if it turns out that the suspect committed the offense.)
A lawyer for Kansas, backed by the U.S. Justice Department, told the justices on Monday that it’s a “common-sense inference” that the owner of a car is also the driver. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. seemed to agree, telling Glover’s lawyer that “if they’re relying on common sense, they don’t have to give you anything more than common sense.”
But is it really common sense that a car is being driven by its owner? Lots of people lend their cars to friends or family members.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggested that drivers whose licenses have been suspended might actually be less likely to be the driver of the car. Roberts pushed the opposite idea, that a driver with a suspended license would be more likely to drive anyway because he or she has “already broken the law in some sense.” Studies cited by Kansas in its appeal to the court suggest that many drivers with suspended licenses do continue to drive and are more hazardous on the road than are licensed drivers.
Even so, a significant amount of the time the driver won’t be the owner. Justice Neil M. Gorsuch suggested that the assumption that an owner of a car is the driver, or vice versa, may become less valid over time because “the next generation ... often rents cars.”
Why does all this matter?
It’s already far too easy for the police to stop cars either under the “reasonable suspicion” standard or on the pretext of some minor violation such as broken taillight. If the court rules for Kansas, police will be able to stop a car based on the status of the owner’s driver’s license — even though it may be the owner’s son or daughter (or neighbor) behind the wheel.
And remember: A stop isn’t just a stop. It can lead to a search of the passenger compartment for weapons that can also result in the seizure of illegal drugs that are in plain view. Subjecting a driver to that invasion of privacy because of someone else’s suspended license is not “reasonable.”
To read more CLICK HERE 

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Hate crimes on the rise, especially those against Latinos

Personal attacks motivated by bias or prejudice reached a 16-year high in 2018, the F.B.I. said, with a significant upswing in violence against Latinos outpacing a drop in assaults targeting Muslims and Arab-Americans, reported the New York Times.
Over all, the number of hate crimes of all kinds reported in the United States remained fairly flat last year after a three-year increase, according to an annual F.B.I. report. But while crimes against property were down, physical assaults against people were up, accounting for 61 percent of the 7,120 incidents classified as hate crimes by law enforcement officials nationwide.
State and local police forces are not required to report hate crimes to the F.B.I., but the bureau has made a significant effort in recent years to increase awareness and response rates. Still, many cities and some entire states failed to collect or report the data last year, limiting the conclusions that can be drawn from the F.B.I. report.
In addition, experts say that more than half of all victims of hate crimes never file a complaint with the authorities in the first place.
To read more CLICK HERE

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Utah man demanding execution by firing squad dies of natural causes

Ron Lafferty, who spent 34 years on Utah’s death row and demanded to be executed by firing squad died of natural causes at the Utah State Prison, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
The 1984 slayings by Lafferty— which were examined in Jon Krakauer’s 2003 book “Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith” — appeared to have been triggered by Lafferty’s extremist views.
Lafferty, 78, whose full name was Ronald Watson Lafferty, died of natural causes at the Draper facility, prison officials said. Though he had been on death row for decades, an execution date had not been set — but it was on the horizon after he lost his latest federal appeal in August.
His brother, Daniel Charles Lafferty, 71, who helped carry out the slayings, is serving a life sentence in a different unit at the Draper prison.
Therese Michelle Day, one of Ron Lafferty’s attorneys, said in a Monday statement that her client was mentally ill, and never able to assist his attorneys in his case. She wrote that Lafferty believed his incarceration was the result of a conspiracy between the state, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and “unseen spiritual forces,” including the spirit of the trial judge’s deceased father. He thought all of his attorneys were working against him, she said, and that one attorney was his reincarnated sister who later became possessed by an evil spirit.
“Through it all Mr. Lafferty, himself, never believed that he was mentally ill or incompetent,” Day said. “One expert said that if he was guilty of faking anything, he was guilty of pretending to be normal when he was not. Mr. Lafferty, like other mentally ill prisoners, was not treated for his mental illness as he should have been.”
Day said that while Ron Lafferty had an understanding of time and place, he lacked any rational understanding of the legal proceedings “that was not polluted by his delusions.” She said his execution should have been prohibited because of those mental health issues.
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said in a statement Monday that state officials have “labored for decades” on Ron Lafferty’s case.
“That the wheels of justice turn so slowly in cases like this is cruel and tragic,” he said. “Now that Mr. Lafferty is facing his maker, perhaps ultimate justice will be realized and there will finally be some closure for the family of the victims.”
Ron Lafferty had chosen to die by firing squad.
The Utah Legislature ended this execution option in 2004, except for inmates who had already been sentenced to die and had selected the method. Then, in 2015, the Legislature added firing squads again, but only if courts determine Utah does not have the cocktail of drugs needed to execute an inmate by lethal injection. 
Utah has not executed an inmate since Ronnie Lee Gardner was killed by firing squad in 2010. Ron Lafferty had been one of eight men on death row — and a recent ruling by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals made Lafferty the closest of them to execution.
To read more CLICK HERE

Monday, November 11, 2019

Veterans Day: The Man He Killed, by Thomas Hardy

"Had he and I but met
            By some old ancient inn,
We should have sat us down to wet
            Right many a nipperkin!

            "But ranged as infantry,
            And staring face to face,
I shot at him as he at me,
            And killed him in his place.

            "I shot him dead because —
            Because he was my foe,
Just so: my foe of course he was;
            That's clear enough; although

            "He thought he'd 'list, perhaps,
            Off-hand like — just as I —
Was out of work — had sold his traps —
            No other reason why.

            "Yes; quaint and curious war is!
            You shoot a fellow down
You'd treat if met where any bar is,
            Or help to half-a-crown."

(first published 117 years ago this week)

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Profiles in courage within the U.S. State Department

State Department Foreign Service officers usually express their views in formal diplomatic cables, but these days they are using closed Facebook groups and encrypted apps to convey their pride in Marie L. Yovanovitch, the ousted ambassador to Ukraine, whose House testimony opened the floodgates on the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, reported the New York Times.
#GoMasha is their rallying cry.
In private conversations, they trade admiring notes about career State Department officials like William B. Taylor Jr. and George P. Kent, who delivered damning testimony about a shadow Ukraine policy infected by partisan politics and presidential conspiracy theories, and William V. Roebuck, a senior diplomat in Syria who wrote a searing memo on how Mr. Trump abandoned the Kurds and upended American influence.
And they are opening their wallets to help raise money — including nearly $10,000 last Monday alone — to offset the legal bills of department officials called to testify before Congress.
Rarely has the State Department, often seen as a staid pillar of the establishment, been the center of a revolt against a president and his top appointees. But as a parade of department officials has recounted to lawmakers how policy was hijacked by partisan politics, many career diplomats say they have been inspired by their colleagues’ willingness to stand up to far more powerful voices after nearly three years of being ignored or disparaged by Mr. Trump and those he has chosen to lead the department.
To read more CLICK HERE

Saturday, November 9, 2019

GateHouse: The purpose and utility of punishment in the criminal justice system

Matthew T. Mangino
GateHouse Media
November 8, 2019
The grandfather of a toddler that fell through an open window on a cruise ship last summer has been charged with negligent homicide in the toddler’s death, according to the Puerto Rican Department of Justice.
Salvatore Anello was playing with his granddaughter on the ship’s 11th floor near a window while the ship was docked in Puerto Rico.
Anello apparently sat the girl on rails near the open window, thinking it was closed. Prosecutors allege that Anello “negligently exposed (his granddaughter) through one of the windows,” according to a statement from Puerto Rican prosecutors.
Prosecutors have an enormous amount of power. They have the discretion to file charges, to determine what charges to file, to impose sentence enhancement, to offer plea bargains or drop charges altogether. Prosecutors have the power to investigate a matter and sometimes just do nothing.
The tragic, and unintentional, death of this child has had an unimaginable impact on the family. What sort of punishment could a Puerto Rican court impose on Anello that could have a greater impact on him than what he has already endured?
Anello’s arrest begs the question - what is the purpose and utility of punishment in the criminal justice system?
Most states and the federal government have relied on four theories - rehabilitation, deterrence, retribution and incapacitation - when establishing a sentencing scheme. Puerto Rican lawyer Dora Nevares-Muniz wrote in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, the Puerto Rico Penal Code’s sentencing provisions are based on the aims of “prevention, rehabilitation, parity, retribution, and deterrence.”
How do those theories relate to Anello?
The goal of rehabilitation is to restore a convicted offender as a productive member of society. It seems counter-intuitive that housing a bunch of “criminals” together in a restricted environment will somehow reform offenders. However, research suggests that a combination of treatment, education and training can help straighten the crooked ways of an offender.
Does Anello need rehabilitation? There is nothing to indicate that Anello has led a life of crime or that he would receive any benefit from treatment. Anello was involved in a tragic accident; maybe he’s negligent - but criminally culpable?
Will the punishment Anello have a deterrent effect on crime? Deterrence is most effective when the conduct punished is a deliberate act carried out to achieve an illicit goal. What type of crimes will prosecuting Anello deter? Will other grandfathers be deterred from playing with their grandchildren?
One of the oldest and most basic justifications for punishment involves the theory of retribution. The victim, or the victim’s family, wants an offender punished for punishment’s sake. Retribution is concerned with neither preventing future crime or mending the ways of a deviant. Retribution is about revenge. In biblical times it was “an eye for an eye,” today it’s “do the crime, do the time.”
The family of Salvatore Anello doesn’t want revenge. They have sued the cruise line for negligence. Anello is, and will continue to be, punished every day far more than any mere mortal can impose.
The principle of incapacitation focuses on the elimination of an individual’s opportunity for crime through a physical restraint on freedom.
In earlier times criminals were banished from society. France would send offenders off to Devil’s Island where they could do no more harm. Today, punishment in the form incarceration - or in extreme cases, the death party - prevents criminals from victimizing others.
Incapacitating Anello serves no purpose. Does anyone fear that he will harm another family member or another child?
Anello’s prosecution serves no legitimate criminogenic purpose. Dragging Anello and his family through the trauma of this tragic incident is a blatant disregard for the rights of crime victims.
Sometimes doing nothing is one of the most difficult decisions a prosecutor has to make. This case is crying out for a courageous prosecutor to say “this family has suffered enough and society gains nothing from prolonging their pain.”
Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. His book “The Executioner’s Toll, 2010” was released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewTMangino.
To read more CLICK HERE