Thursday, October 31, 2019
Wednesday, October 30, 2019
Tuesday, October 29, 2019
Monday, October 28, 2019
Sunday, October 27, 2019
Saturday, October 26, 2019
Friday, October 25, 2019
Thursday, October 24, 2019
Wednesday, October 23, 2019
In 1983, 23-year-old Marsalee Ann Nicholas, who went by Marsy, was murdered in Malibu by Kerry Conley, her ex-boyfriend. Conley was convicted of second-degree murder in 1985 and he died in prison in 2007. But in the period between his charges and his conviction, Conley was free after posting a $100,000 bail.
Marsy’s Law for All, the foundation that has the goal to get Marsy’s Law passed in all 50 states and eventually in the U.S. Constitution, was started in 2009 by Henry Nicholas, Marsy’s brother.
This funding dynamic has basically always been the case for Marsy’s Law. According to League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, more than $102 million has been spent advocating other states to pass the law, and Nicholas has contributed 97 percent.
Nevada passed Marsy’s Law in 2018, as did Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Oklahoma. According to campaign finance reports, Nicholas, either personally or through his foundation, funded virtually all of the cash for these efforts.
This is one of the reasons the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania is skeptical of Marsy’s law, as well as concerns that the law is just repeating protections that already exists and that, if passed, victims could refuse to be interviewed or to turn over pertinent evidence or testimony.
The Pennsylvania ballot questions states in full: “Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to grant certain rights to crime victims, including to be treated with fairness, respect and dignity; considering their safety in bail proceedings; timely notice and opportunity to take part in public proceedings; reasonable protection from the accused; right to refuse discovery requests made by the accused; restitution and return of property; proceedings free from delay; and to be informed of these rights, so they can enforce them?”
Both the ACLU of Pennsylvania and the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania brought a suit against Marsy’s Law on Oct. 11, alleging that the ballot initiative is too broad and should be instead broken up into two or three separate questions.
In the commonwealth, the Pennsylvania Crime Victims Act already affords victim’s protections and established rules that crime victims have to be notified about arrests and legal actions against the victim’s offender, but Marsy’s Law would extend some of those rules to the victim’s family members too.
According to WHYY, the ballot referendum doesn’t change very much about the state’s existing crime-victims protections laws, and really just codifies those laws into the state constitution, making it easier for the victim's and victim’s families to sue if those rights aren’t upheld.
However, Marsy’s law does make some significant changes to rules concerning the accused. One of the more contentious parts of the proposed amendment would allow victims to “refuse an interview, deposition, or other discovery request” made by the accused or the accused’s lawyers.
This is one of the main reasons the ACLU of Pennsylvania opposes Marsy’s Law. The ACLU says these changes could shift the scales too much in favor of the state, which is responsible for prosecuting the accused in criminal cases.
On paper, Marsy’s Law appears like an amendment worthy of approval, but opposition has always existed. Several newspaper editorials have been questioning whether Marsy’s law is necessary, including the Palm Beach Post in Florida and Indy Week in North Carolina.
North Dakota passed Marsy’s Law in 2016, but in 2018, North Dakota state Sen. David Hogue said the constitutional amendment didn’t “provide any meaningful protections for victims that isn’t otherwise in our statute,” according to the Grand Forks Herald. He said there were some negative consequences of Marsy’s Law, but added they were manageable but come with “obvious costs.”
Jack McDonald of the North Dakota Newspaper Association said one potential consequence would likely occur when legal challenges come about if someone is hindered in gathering information to defend themselves. Houge noted Marsy’s Law being embedded in the constitution makes it very difficult to undo.
“The problem is when you put it in Constitution, you make it more difficult,” Hogue said to the Herald. “You cannot readily amend or adjust it because it’s embedded within the Constitution.”
Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Monday, October 21, 2019
The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association takes issue with the ACLU's findings: “The ACLU’s persistent and tired tactic of ignoring crime victims and public safety to advance its goal of eroding confidence in prosecutors is troubling. Even more troubling is that the ACLU has decided to ignore gaps in the law and changes in technology that make victims of domestic violence and sexual exploitation vulnerable to significant harm and injury. We prefer to deal in truth and facts."
Sunday, October 20, 2019
Friday, October 18, 2019
Thursday, October 17, 2019
Wednesday, October 16, 2019
It is rare but not unprecedented for a state to become directly involved in so many cases in a single term. According to Dan Schweitzer, Supreme Court counsel for the National Association of Attorneys General, Texas, Michigan and California—all large states—have argued three cases before the Supreme Court in recent terms, and in 2010, California had four.
In July, when the argument dates were set, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt remarked in a statement: “It is highly unusual for a single state, especially a small state like Kansas, to have three cases pending before the court simultaneously. We are working vigorously to prepare for these three arguments and look forward to presenting the state’s cases in the fall.”
So how can the frequent appearances of Kansas be explained? We asked former Kansas solicitor general Stephen McAllister, a former U.S. Supreme Court law clerk and a scholar of the high court who is currently U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas.
“As a general matter, Kansas has a Supreme Court that is off the rails,” McAllister said, stressing that he was speaking on his own behalf, not for the government. “They’ve gone overboard on the defendants’ side and they’ve gotten the Supreme Court’s attention.”
The Kansas Supreme Court in the Kahler case went against the defendant on an insanity defense, but in Garcia, an immigration case, and Glover, a Fourth Amendment traffic stop dispute, the Kansas high court ruled for the defendant.
To handle the trilogy, Kansas AG Schmidt has rolled up his sleeves himself. He will be arguing today in the Garcia case, his third U.S. Supreme Court argument. State solicitor general Toby Crouse was at the lectern on October 7, and Crouse will do it again in November.
Tuesday, October 15, 2019
Monday, October 14, 2019
Columbus Day--the celebration of Italian heritage--grew out of the lynching of 11 Italians in 1890 New Orleans
Sunday, October 13, 2019
Saturday, October 12, 2019
Friday, October 11, 2019
The U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled that a method of execution violated the Eighth Amendment ban against cruel and unusual punishment. Which method of execution--hanging, electrocution, gas, firing squad, lethal injection--do you find most humane? Explain you answer.