Friday, December 31, 2021

PA State Trooper who shot and killed for people since 2008 still on the job

 Pennsylvania State Trooper Jay Splain has shot and killed four people in the line of duty since 2008 and is still on the job, according to The New York Times.

In 2008, Trooper Splain was honored at a county law enforcement banquet as a hero, the police officer of the year. The reason: He had shot and killed a suicidal man who allegedly pointed an Uzi submachine gun at him.

That was the first killing. Trooper Splain went on to fatally shoot three more people in separate incidents, an extraordinary tally for an officer responsible for patrolling largely rural areas with low rates of violent crime. All four who died were troubled, struggling with drugs, mental illness or both. In two cases, including that of the man with the Uzi, family members had called the police for help because their relatives had threatened to kill themselves.

The most recent death was last month, when Trooper Splain shot an unarmed man in his Volkswagen Beetle. After learning that the officer had previously killed three other people over nearly 15 years, the man’s sister, Autumn Krouse, asked, “Why would that person still be employed?”

Trooper Splain is an outlier. Most officers never fire their weapons. Until now, his full record of killings has not been disclosed; the Pennsylvania State Police even successfully fought a lawsuit seeking to identify him and provide other details in one shooting. In the agency’s more than a century of policing, no officer has ever been prosecuted for fatally shooting someone, according to a spokesman. That history aligns with a longstanding pattern across the country of little accountability for police officers’ use of deadly force.

Prosecutors and a grand jury concluded that Trooper Splain’s first three lethal shootings were justified, and an inquiry into the most recent one is ongoing. Rather than have independent outsiders look into the killings, the police agency has conducted its own investigations — which were led by officers from his unit — raising questions about the rigor of the inquiries.

“When a police officer has shot at and potentially killed a civilian, the public will never trust the police agency to investigate itself and be unbiased,” said Tom Hogan, the former district attorney of Chester County, Pa. A Republican, he helped write recommendations by the state prosecutors’ association for independent investigations — a reform that many departments resist, but one sought by the national prosecutors’ association and major policing groups.

In its review of Trooper Splain’s killings, The New York Times found inconsistencies between the evidence of what occurred and what the state police said had happened. The officer appeared to have departed from police protocols in several of the fatal confrontations, according to interviews and an examination of investigative and court records.

To read more CLICK HERE

Thursday, December 30, 2021

PA Supreme Court rules odor of marijuana alone not enough for vehicle search

Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the smell of marijuana can no longer serve as the sole basis for a warrantless vehicle search, according to The Legal Intelligencer.

The decision upheld in part a ruling from the Superior Court, which determined that the odor of marijuana can still factor into a police officer’s determination of probable cause to conduct a search, but it cannot be the only factor. 

James Martin of the Lehigh County District Attorney’s Office, who represented the state of Pennsylvania in the case, said that following this decision, there is still uncertainty regarding how cannabis use can factor into determining probable cause under the MMA. “I don’t know that it clears it up at all to tell you the truth,” he said.

“The Supreme Court will logically have to address the totality of the circumstances factors at some future time when someone takes issue with what the Superior Court may determine is a proper factor(s) to be considered,” the defendant’s attorney Joshua Karoly of the Karoly Law Firm wrote in an emailed response. “Until then, plain smell arrests will not be made and there is still a lot of lawyering to do.”

Chief Justice Max Baer penned the majority opinion, which Justices Debra Todd, Christine Donohue and David Wecht joined. In it he wrote that, since marijuana use is no longer always criminal, the smell alone does not indicate illegal activity. 

Still, he wrote, there are many circumstances in which cannabis is still illegal, and so “the smell of marijuana indisputably can still signal the possibility of criminal activity. Given this dichotomy, we conclude that the odor of marijuana may be a factor, but not a standalone one, in evaluating the totality of the circumstances for purposes of determining whether police had probable cause to conduct a warrantless search.”

In a two-paragraph concurring opinion, Justice Thomas Saylor said he believed the smell of burnt marijuana was likely to indicate criminal activity since smoking cannabis, regardless of whether the product itself is obtained legally, is illegal.

The case, captioned Commonwealth v. Barr, also addressed whether precedent established in Commonwealth v. Hicks can apply to licensed marijuana use. Hicks determined that a police officer cannot subject a person to “stop and frisk” practices solely for carrying a concealed firearm because it is possible to do so lawfully. 

The court found that the precedent applies because, “like the carrying of a concealed weapon by a licensed individual in Hicks, it is simply not a crime for an individual to possess or use marijuana if the requirements of the MMA have been satisfied.”

The high court reversed the Superior Court’s decision to remand the case back to the trial court to reconsider the defendant’s motion to suppress physical evidence that the police collected during a search of his vehicle. Instead, the state Supreme Court reinstated the trial court’s grant of the motion, which prompted two separate concurring and dissenting opinions from Justices Kevin Dougherty and Sallie Mundy

Both justices agreed with the majority’s conclusion that the smell of weed must be considered alongside other factors when considering probable cause, but they said the trial court erred in granting the motion to suppress by not considering the “totality of the circumstances” under which the stop occurred. 

Dougherty also expanded upon how “the smell of marijuana retains salience in the probable cause analysis.”

Martin said he applauded Dougherty and Mundy’s opinions for recognizing that medical marijuana can still be used in an illegal way.

The defendant, Timothy Barr II, had been charged for unlicensed possession of a firearm in addition to possession of a small amount of marijuana after state troopers pulled him over and noticed the smell. Barr presented the troopers with his medical marijuana card, but the officers proceeded to search the vehicle, where they found a loaded handgun. 

To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

NYT: 'To Kill a Mockingbird' best book published in last 125 years

In October, as The New York Times marked the Book Review’s 125th anniversary, they invited readers to nominate the best book published during that time. 

The winner is To Kill a Mockingbird. Book critic Molly Young wrote in The Times:

When you revisit in adulthood a book that you last read in childhood, you will likely experience two broad categories of observation: “Oh yeah, I remember this part,” and “Whoa, I never noticed that part.” That’s what I expected when I picked up “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which was voted the best book of the past 125 years by readers in a recent New York Times poll. Two decades had passed since I’d absorbed Harper Lee’s 1960 novel. And yes, there was a huge amount I’d missed on my first time through, ranging from major themes (the prevalence of child abuse) to minor details (unfamiliar words, like “flivver”).

Inexcusable lapses in reading comprehension also surfaced, such as the fact that I hadn’t realized Mrs. Dubose — the cranky neighborhood villain — was a morphine addict. (“Mrs. Dubose is a morphine addict,” Atticus states in the book. In my defense … well, I have no defense.) As an adult, I can perceive why the novel might hold enduring appeal for many and enduring repulsion to perhaps just as many. I cannot fathom the complexities of teaching it to elementary school students in 2021, especially after reading online accounts from teachers on both the “pro” and “against” sides.

These apprehensions were present as I worked through the pages a second time, but they were overridden by the instant resurrection of exactly what I’d liked about the book the first time, which is Lee’s depiction of life in a small town. You wouldn’t think the Great Depression-era fictional Southern town of Maycomb, Ala., would have much in common with the nonfictional Northern California small town where I grew up and read “Mockingbird” in the 1990s — and yet!

Take the grim joke about a pair of Atticus’s clients, the Haverfords, who ignored their lawyer’s advice to take a plea deal and wound up hanging. No explanation is needed for their recklessness other than, as Scout puts it, that they were “Haverfords, in Maycomb County a name synonymous with jackass.” That’s on Page 5, and it’s precisely where I remember my attention perking up as a teenager. Only in a place of minimal citizenry can surnames carry such determinative weight. In my town, which had a population of approximately 1,000, the nominative shorthand took a more neutrally descriptive form: There was Barefoot Dave, who preferred to go shoeless on his rambles, and Treehouse Todd, who lived in a treehouse, and Tepee Dan — you can guess where he lived.

Much else in “Mockingbird” was recognizable from small-town living: the temptation to invent boogeymen; the excessive reliance on euphemism; the kneejerk ostracizing of those perceived as outsiders, with vandalism a common mode of reinforcement. There was the importance placed on mundane local landmarks: a certain tree, a specific fence, the house on the corner. There was the fiercely held conviction that one must mind one’s own business coupled with the exasperating practice of everyone minding everyone else’s business 100 percent of the time. (When I first moved to New York and lived in an apartment, I wondered if this last paradox would replicate itself within the diorama of my building. It did not. My urban neighbors took great pains to avoid even a molecule of anyone else’s business.)

Lee writes about the unremitting surveillance of Maycomb — of the reality that no act ultimately goes unobserved. At the age I originally read “Mockingbird,” I stole a candy bar from my town’s sole market, bragged about it to one individual and within hours was escorted by my mother back to the store and forced to apologize to the owner (and pay for the candy). There was no point in asking my mother how she knew. All knowledge was public knowledge.

I hadn’t known until reading Lee’s novel that what seemed like punishments and glories unique to my home turf were characteristic ones: the freedom to run amok, the inevitability of getting caught, the fiber-optic speed of rumor mongering, the magnification of every feud into a catastrophe.

So what struck me, rereading it, was not the totality of the book but one of its humbler accomplishments, which is how keenly Lee recreates the comforts, miseries and banalities of people gathered intimately in one little space.

To read more CLICK HERE

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

PA Report: Prosecutorial misconduct undermines justice system

 Prosecutorial misconduct undermines the legitimacy of the justice system, says the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice, reported The Crime Report.

While a number of states have adopted measures to address instances where prosecutors fail to provide timely evidence that could prevent the conviction of innocent individuals or neglect other rules of procedure, the aberrant conduct is largely “invisible” to public scrutiny in most jurisdictions across the country, said the Center in a new report.

“American citizens lack the ability to make even the most cursory inquiry into whether their prosecutors operate within the rules,” the report asserted.

Researchers at the Quattrone Center, based at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, created what they said was a unique dataset of 4,644 opinions in which allegations of misconduct were raised in the more than 1.5 million judicial opinions published between 2000 and 2016 by federal and state courts in Pennsylvania.

They identified 7,207 separate claims of prosecutorial misconduct over that 17-year period. Courts failed to address 1,774 of those claims. In the remaining 5,432, misconduct was found in just 204 cases―or less than 4 percent.

But the apparent low figure, they suggested, was “almost certainly a substantial undercount.”

And, they argued, there is little reason to suggest that Pennsylvania was atypical.

“We have found no jurisdiction in the United States that regularly assembles and publishes information about how frequently allegations of prosecutorial misconduct are made, how often they are upheld, and what actions are taken when misconduct has been identified,” the report said.

“Without such basic information, communities are left with vague reassurances that misconduct is rare; that when it occurs, it is rapidly identified and addressed; and that no additional oversight or accountability measures are needed to improve the criminal justice system and ensure that good prosecutors will continue to serve our system, while bad prosecutors are weeded out.”

One likely reason for the undercount is that the cases examined in their database only corresponded to cases which went to trial.

The majority of Pennsylvania criminal cases are resolved through pretrial bargaining—when prosecutors strike deals with defendants to lower sentences in response to a guilty plea. Allegations of misconduct during the pretrial period never appear in final opinions.

“What became clear during our review is that the true extent of prosecutorial misconduct eludes a full analysis due to a number of systemic factors keeping such incidents from scrutiny,” said the report.

The 85-page report, entitled “Hidden Hazards: Prosecutorial Misconduct Claims in Pennsylvania, 2000-2016,” recommended ten steps that Pennsylvania legislators and judicial bodies could take both to develop a more comprehensive database on prosecutor misconduct, and to hold prosecutors accountable for “intentional” and “unintentional” courtroom mistakes.

To read more CLICK HERE

Monday, December 27, 2021

Kentucky task force recommends search warrant changes after Breonna Taylor's death

Breonna Taylor was killed by Louisville police using a “no-knock” warrant to enter her home last year. In the aftermath of her death the Kentucky’s Search Warrant Task Force has recommended increased training  for officers and a centralized electronic database that allows the public to track the number of warrants executed in each zip code, reported NPR.

These were among a series of measures the task force said would reinforce public safety. The recommendations also called for a prosecutor to approve proposed search warrants before the investigating agency seeks judicial authorization for the warrant. Officers should also consider the most appropriate time of day for executing a search.

In circumstances when a child may be impacted by a search warrant, child protective services should be notified. In addition, the report advised that the curriculum for law enforcement officers should include lessons on “accurately describing the property to be searched; developing and articulating probable cause; time limitations for probable cause and execution of warrants; officer and citizen safety concerns in execution of warrants; and proper documentation of an executed search warrant.”

To read more CLICK HERE

Sunday, December 26, 2021

The lawless lawmen

 “Constitutional sheriffs” contend that their authority goes beyond enforcing the law to determining what the law is, according to the ABA Journal.

These so-called sheriffs say their authority is greater than other elected officials because of their oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution, according to a Washington Post op-ed by Christy E. Lopez, a “professor from practice” at the Georgetown University Law Center.

Robert L. Tsai, an author and a professor at the Boston University School of Law, explained the concept in a 2017 Politico article.

“The strange idea that unites all members of this movement is that a sheriff is the highest law enforcement officer within a county’s borders—superior not only to local police, but also to officers and agents of the federal government,” wrote Tsai, who was previously a professor at the American University Washington College of Law.

The sheriffs’ claims are bogus, according to Lopez.

“After searching in vain for any legal basis for sheriff supremacy and checking with several others who have studied law enforcement and civilian oversight, I can confirm that a constitutional sheriff with unique autonomy is not actually a thing,” she wrote.

Constitutional sheriffs have refused to enforce local mask mandates and federal gun laws.

“We are defying tyrants,” said Richard Mack, the founder of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, in a November interview with the Washington Post. “People appreciate and sympathize with the mission. They don’t want to be told they have to wear a diaper on their face.”

One of the movement’s adherents, then-Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, refused to obey a judge’s order that he stop detaining citizens based only on a suspicion that they were in the country illegally.

Then-President Donald Trump pardoned Arpaio in 2017, a month after the sheriff was found in contempt for violating the order.

Mack told the Washington Post that about 300 of the nation’s 3,000 sheriffs belong to the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. About 10,000 citizens have also joined.

Constitutional sheriffs have expressed support for Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol rioters, Lopez said. She pointed out that Mack was once a board member of the Oath Keepers, a far-right group that includes several members charged with conspiracy in the Jan. 6 riot, according to BuzzFeed News.

Mack told the Washington Post that he resigned from the board in 2015 when the Oath Keepers positioned itself as a peacekeeping force against Black Lives Matter protesters.

Although constitutional sheriffs claim that their superior constitutional position is supported by history, the idea is “based on a faulty reading of history,” Tsai wrote.

The idea “has been made up by stitching together random references to sheriffs and militias in our political and legal texts,” Tsai wrote. “It relies on a highly selective reading of history, pretending that the high sheriff of the English shire was transplanted to colonial America, and then somehow emerged in the present day untouched by legal developments over the past 200 years.”

To read more CLICK HERE

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Thousands of Pennsylvanians are locked up because they can't afford bail

Andrea Cipriano wrote recently in The Crime Report:

For years, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU-PA) has been working on challenging the misuse of cash bail in the state’s 67 counties, but despite a number of concerns raised over the years, noting disparities in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, little has changed. 

Now, a new report shows that judges assigning cash bail in violation of the rules is not an issue confined to Pittsburgh or Philadelphia.  

“It’s a statewide crisis,” the ACLU-PA charges, adding that regardless of whether or not a county is red or blue, urban or rural, cash bail practices are incarcerating droves of people. 

The ACLU of Pennsylvania obtained the data used in this report from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC). The dataset covers the two-year period from 2016 to 2017, and consists of 383,317 cases. 

Working with a team of data scientists, the ACLU researchers looked over the information, finding that in all 67 counties, magisterial district judges (known as MDJs, or magistrates) “routinely set unaffordable cash bail for people awaiting their day in court.” 

Put in other words, this means that, “at any moment, thousands of Pennsylvanians are locked up in county jails simply because they could not afford to pay bail.” 

“This isn’t just unethical. It’s also in violation of the state Constitution,” Jessica Li, a criminal justice investigator, and advocacy and policy member of the ACLU-PA, writes regarding the report. 

Bail in Principle versus Practice

“In principle, and by law, bail is a mechanism for pretrial release,” Li explains. “But, in practice, magistrates use cash bail to jail people before trial.” 

According to the data analyzed for the report, the researchers found that magistrates routinely set bail at amounts that are too high for people to afford. And, across the state, more than half of those assigned cash bail were unable to pay — resulting in their incarceration. 

Cash bail was also the most common type of bail set in Pennsylvania, despite the fact that in practice, magistrates have other options that have been shown to be more effective than cash bail. Setting non-monetary bail, release on recognizance, or sending court date reminders are all options at their disposal, but the most devastating choice is often chosen. 

And, once thrown into the court system, the ACLU-PA researchers found that not everyone had access to the help they needed. 

Throughout most of Pennsylvania, the ACLU chapter explains, the majority of people appear at bail hearings without a lawyer to advocate on their behalf. Without understanding the system or knowing what to say in front of a judge, many people are left to fend for themselves 

The pretrial process also dictates that the defendant must post the amount of bail set in order to be released — and if they’re unable to pay, they remain incarcerated until their case is resolved, which happens in the majority of cases. 

Across the state, the ACLU researchers found that more than half of people assigned cash bail did not post it, as the average set cash bail amount of $38,433. Put in another perspective, the bail amount posted is more than half the average household income for the commonwealth. 

For people living in poverty, who might be homeless or experiencing precipitous unemployment, being forced to pay even a few hundred dollars ensures incarceration

“If the system were functioning as our constitution envisions, every person assigned money bail should be able to post it,” the report explains. “Yet as our analysis reveals, cash bail puts people in cages—rather than freeing them before trial.”

Clear Racial Disparities

The researchers also found that magistrates imposed cash bail more frequently and in higher amounts for Black people, uncovering another side of the cash bail system that disproportionately impacts people of color. 

Among Black people accused of a crime, 55.2 percent are assigned cash bail. Conversely, among white people accused of a crime, only 38.5 percent are assigned cash bail. 

Beyond assigning bail, the researchers also found that Black defendants are ordered to pay higher amounts of bail than their white counterparts — on average, $12,866 more.

This is a pattern seen in all 67 counties, the researchers uncovered. 

See Also: How Philadelphia’s ‘Bail Advocates’ Reduced Pretrial Racial Disparities

Recommendations for Reform

The ACLU-PA researchers first note that bail is meant to be a mechanism for release, but in reality, it’s used to detain people pretrial. 

“The problem lies not with the law, but with the elected officials who set bail and often failed to follow the law,” the researchers add, noting that their first recommendation is that magisterial district judges must follow the law and the guidance for pretrial detention, noting that they should encourage release on recognizance, and guarantee that monetary bail, if set, is affordable. 

Presiding judges must also exercise supervisory authority over magisterial district judges whom they oversee, as a way to keep all aspects of the system in line. 

Moreover, the researchers recommend that the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts must “promote transparency by analyzing bail data on a regular basis.” Much of this recommendation also relates to the fact that raw data in understanding bail practices is largely inaccessible to the public. 

Lastly, the ACLU-PA researchers suggest that courts and jails must work together to install safeguards that guarantee no person is incarcerated only because they are unable to pay bail. 

Additional Reading: Stop Blaming Crime Increase on Bail Reform: NC Prosecutor

Visit The Crime Report CLICK HERE

Friday, December 24, 2021

Mangino a guest on Law and Crime Daily

Watch my guest appearance on Law and Crime Daily talking about the trials of Kim Potter, Elizabeth Holmes and Ghislaine Maxwell.

To watch the segment CLICK HERE

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Capital-Star: The slow undoing of the Sixth Amendment | Opinion

Matthew T. Mangino, Guest Opinion
Pennsylvania Capital-Star
December 22, 2021

Over the last couple of months, for those paying attention, the cornerstone of the American criminal justice system—trial by jury—was on display for all the world to see.  

Two homicide trials, one in Wisconsin and the other in Georgia, ended very differently.  Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of two killings and Travis McMichael, his father Greg McMichael and William Bryan were convicted of killing Ahmaud Aubry.

Those following one, or both trials, saw the fundamentals of the Bill of Rights, more particularly the Sixth Amendment, in action.  The speedy trial rule and empaneling an impartial jury were obvious.  The confrontation of witnesses occurred on live television day in and day out. The government met their burden of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in one case and fell short in the other case.

Whether you agreed with one, both or neither verdict it was a chance for America to see what happens every day in courtrooms across the country . . . right?  Not exactly.  

Jury trials are so rare in the criminal justice system that one might consider trial by jury an anomaly or outlier.

A look at the federal criminal justice system is telling. A 2018 report from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers found that fewer than three percent of federal criminal cases result in a trial. Most criminal cases in America end without a jury hearing even a whisper of evidence.

Several years ago, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said plea bargaining determines “who goes to jail and for how long. It is not some adjunct to the criminal justice system. It is the criminal justice system.”

That is in spite of what President John Adams declared more than two centuries ago, ‘‘[r]epresentative government and trial by jury are the heart and lungs of liberty. Without them we have no other fortification against being ridden like horses, fleeced like sheep, worked like cattle, and fed and clothed like swine and hounds.’’

Those are some pretty dramatic words. Yet, most Americans don’t even realize the precious right to force the government to prove guilty beyond a reasonable doubt is slipping away.

  More than a decade ago, Richard A. Oppel, Jr. wrote in The New York Times, the criminal justice process has become “[S]o coercive in state and federal courts, that defendants are forced to weigh their options based on the relative risks of facing a judge and jury rather than simple matter of guilt or innocence.”

The plea bargain, however unpopular or unseemly is an important tool in the administration of justice. Plea bargains save the government time, money, and the trouble of actually proving a case beyond a reasonable doubt. If the plea bargain were to disappear the criminal courts would grind to a halt.  

However, the concern is what criminal justice reform advocates call the “trial penalty”—additional prison time that people face merely for exercising a right to which they have a constitutional guarantee under the Sixth Amendment.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ report found, “There is ample evidence that federal criminal defendants are being coerced to plead guilty because the [trial] penalty for exercising their constitutional rights is simply too high to risk. This ‘trial penalty’ results from the discrepancy between the sentence the prosecutor is willing to offer in exchange for a guilty plea and the sentence that would be imposed after a trial.” 

A foreword to the report written by former federal judge, John Gleeson, suggested, “Putting the government to its proof is a constitutional right, enshrined in the Sixth Amendment; no one should be required to gamble with years and often decades of their liberty to exercise it.”

Part of the problem is no one is advocating for the rights of those accused of a crime. The Sixth Amendment needs some star power.  The First Amendment is protected by the vigilance of news media. The Second Amendment is insulated by the zealousness of NRA. The Sixth Amendment needs a standard bearer. Unfortunately, it appears that those who benefit by the Sixth Amendment are those accused of a crime—not a very sympathetic group.

The government can lock-up a person accused of a crime without proving anything more than a crime was committed and the accused is “probably” the one who committed the crime— try finding that in the Constitution.

Yet, that happens in significantly more than 90 percent of criminal cases in this country.  The government meets a prima facia burden, enough for the case to be set for trial, and very few accused of a crime force the government to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

A mask mandate may seem to some to be an infringement on liberty—a vaccination mandate is tyranny. The real threat to democracy is the slow and steady erosion of the Sixth Amendment.

Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. in New Castle, Pa., and the author of “The Executioner’s Toll, 2010.” @MatthewTMangino. He welcomes feedback at

To visit the column CLICK HERE

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

The death penalty wars: Growing more bitter and intense

Austin Sarat writes in Slate:

Now more than ever there are two distinct worlds of capital punishment in the United States. It has long been the case that the death penalty has flourished in some regions of the country and in some states more than in others. And the release of the Death Penalty Information Center’s (DPIC) annual report for 2021 makes clear that the distance between those two divergent paths rapidly increased last year.

“The death penalty in 2021 was defined by two competing forces: the continuing long-term erosion of capital punishment across most of the country, and extreme conduct by a dwindling number of outlier jurisdictions to continue to pursue death sentences and executions,” The DPIC report noted. Capital punishment increasingly is used in just a few idiosyncratic locales and offers another fault line in this country’s fragmented political, legal, and cultural life.

As in many other areas of American life, supporters and opponents of the death penalty regard each other as enemies, not just as opponents. They see the world in fundamentally different ways and think of the political struggle over the death penalty as a struggle over fundamental values and different ways of life.

As Emory University historian Daniel LaChance explains, “These days, support for capital punishment is concentrated among whites, Protestants, and Republicans—key demographic constituencies of the conservative side of the late twentieth century culture wars…. Support for the death penalty is not only a tool for controlling crime, but also an expression of allegiance to values—personal responsibility, the sacredness of innocent life, and the firmness of a nation’s convictions—that they feel have degraded in the United States since the 1960s.”

Progressives, in contrast, see America’s continuing use of capital punishment as unjust, barbaric, and a sign of moral backwardness.

As a result, we can expect death penalty politics to grow more, not less, bitter and more intense, as the two worlds of capital punishment come to terms with new realities.

What are these new realities?

In one of the worlds of capital punishment, abolitionists have made great progress and the death penalty is in retreat.

This year, Virginia became the eleventh state to have abolished capital punishment since 2007 and the 23rd state overall not to have the death penalty. It became the first southern state to abolish that punishment in recent memory. In Oregon, to cite another example of progress against the death penalty noted by the DPIC, the supreme court effectively ended that state’s use of capital punishment last October.

At the federal level, the Biden Justice Department announced a moratorium on federal executions.

During 2021, the United States imposed the fewest death sentences and carried out the lowest number of executions in decades. Eighteen people were sentenced to death, “tying 2020’s number for the fewest in the modern era of the death penalty, dating back to the Supreme Court ruling in Furman v. Georgia that struck down all existing U.S. death-penalty statutes in 1972. The eleven executions carried out during the year were the fewest since 1988.”
But in the other world of capital punishment, things look quite different.

Donald Trump’s gruesome execution spree exemplified the desire to take the lives of those convicted of horrible crimes that still exists on the other side of the death penalty divide. Trump himself captured the flavor of the cultural chasm when he said during his 2016 campaign, “Death penalty all the way. I’ve always supported the death penalty. I don’t even understand people that don’t.”

While many political conservatives now oppose capital punishment, then Attorney General William Barr observed after the first of the federal executions last year that Americans “have made the considered choice to permit capital punishment for the most egregious federal crimes, and justice was done today.”

Looking at only the states which carried executions last year, the names are quite familiar to any student of the death penalty, with Texas and Oklahoma leading the way, followed by Alabama, Mississippi and Missouri.

“All but one prisoner executed this year had serious impairments, including brain injury or damage, mental illness and intellectual disabilities, or had histories of gruesome childhood neglect and abuse,”according to a report in The Guardian,

That report quotes Ngozi Ndulue, DPIC’s deputy director, as saying that the states which continue to use the death penalty do not use it for “the worst of the worst, but the most vulnerable of the vulnerable.”

In this other world of capital punishment desperate measures have been required to keep the machinery of death running.

States have ratcheted up the regime of secrecy surrounding the death penalty. They refuse to disclose the precise drugs used when they put someone to death by lethal injection or to identify the suppliers of those drugs. Such refusal makes it very hard for journalists to inform the public about the killings that are carried out in its name or for condemned inmates to vindicate their rights under the Eighth Amendment.

Because death penalty states have had trouble obtaining the drugs that were long part of the standard lethal injection protocol, they have turned to new, often untested drugs and drug protocols. Or they have revived previously discredited methods of execution, as South Carolina did in May of this year when it brought back the electric chair and the firing squad to its inventory of execution methods.

In the world where the death penalty still lives, states have compiled a troubling record of problems and mishaps in their execution chambers, like the horror that unfolded last October when Oklahoma severely botched the execution of John Marion Grant.

As the DPIC’s Robert Dunham notes, “The handful of states that continue to push for capital punishment are outliers that often disregard due process, botch executions, and dwell in the shadows of long histories of racism and a biased criminal legal system.”
And, as a strange case from Alabama reveals, death penalty states go deep into their bag of tricks to keep governmental officials in line. In that case, Jefferson County Judge Tracie Todd was suspended without pay for 90 days for, among other things, deciding that state’s death penalty system, which still allows judges to override jury decisions and impose death sentences was unconstitutional.

Such punishments are almost unheard of except when judges are guilty of the most serious derelictions of duty. But in Alabama it seems that a judge who points out the irrationality, cruelty, and injustice that is pervasive in its death penalty system has committed just such a dereliction.

This year ends with the two worlds of capital punishment intact, but with the sense that the United States is on the way toward abolition. Yet the road forward will not be easy nor is the result assured.

What the political philosopher Michael Walzer once said about all journeys toward justice seems apt as a way to think about capital punishment as this year comes to a close. This journey will be, as he says, “very slow, a matter of two steps forward, one step back.”

But that is still progress. We should not miss the fact that in 2021 there was more forward movement than setbacks on the way to ending America’s death penalty.

To read more CLICK HERE

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Mangino on Law and Crime Network

 Watch my interview on Law and Crime Network. 

To watch the interview CLICK HERE

Potter, Holmes and Maxwell await verdicts in three sensational criminal trials

Three women on trial for very different crimes are currently in verdict watch.  The three juries are deciding the fate of Kim Potter, Elizabeth Holmes and Ghislaine Maxwell.

Kim Potter a former Minnesota police officer pulled her service weapon thinking it was a Taser and shot Daunte Wright killing him. 

Elizabeth Holmes is on trial for fraud. Holmes, through her company Theranos, is charged with bilking millions from investors by misleading investors, doctors and patients over a blood testing devise.

Ghislaine Maxwell, the companion of Jeffrey Epstein, is accused of sex-trafficking and enticing young girls into sexual contact with Epstein.

All three trials have garnered national attention. To watch the verdicts CLICK HERE

Monday, December 20, 2021

Former gun industry insider takes on the culture of guns

“I am responsible for selling millions of guns,” Ryan Busse wrote at the start of his book, “Gunfight,” which Public Affairs released in October, reported The New York Times.

The claim was not a boast. It was more like the beginnings of an apology.

With the book, which is part memoir, part treatise on gun policy in America, Busse has inserted himself into the center of a seemingly intractable debate that recharges each time the country confronts another burst of deadly gun violence, including mass shootings, police killings and fatal confrontations like the one involving Kyle Rittenhouse.

Over years of arguing, views have hardened and the political divide has become increasingly difficult to bridge, making Busse a surprising and polarizing figure as a longtime insider in the firearm industry and the culture surrounding it who has now cast himself as a critic.

Proponents of stricter gun restrictions have been drawn to Busse’s moral inventory wrestling with the gun industry’s role, and his own, in arming an escalating culture of gun violence. (As he introduced Busse on his podcast, former Senator Al Franken told listeners, “I think you’re just going to love this guy.”)

It has also been assailed by a community that Busse once considered his own. Gun rights supporters have labeled him as a defector and hypocrite, and questioned his allegiance to the Second Amendment. Donald Trump Jr. said Busse was a “useful idiot” who was co-opted by their enemies.

Still, the response to the book reflects just how much of a challenge it will be for “Gunfight” to penetrate the high-decibel discourse and reach its intended audience of politically moderate gun owners like Busse.

 “I don’t like guns any less than I did, or any more than I did,” he said from his home in Montana during a video interview in October. “I shoot with my boys. I hunt every chance I get. I still own a lot of guns. Many of the best parts of my life have been centered around guns or using guns, so in that way, I don’t think I’ve changed at all. What has changed, though, is a radical shift in what the industry believes to be decent and responsible.”

 “Gunfight” is one of several recently published books exploring a transformation gripping the nation’s gun culture. In many ways, the books mirror what’s happening in conservative politics.

In “Misfire,” published in November, the investigative journalist Tim Mak digs into the National Rifle Association as it has been shoved to the brink of collapse over internal strife and financial turbulence. “Firepower,” by Matthew J. Lacombe and published in March, is an academic analysis of decades of editorials from the N.R.A.’s American Rifleman magazine.

Last year, Joshua L. Powell, a former senior N.R.A. official, wrote a memoir after he was forced out of the organization, and the investigative journalist Frank Smyth chronicled the history of the organization in his book, “The N.R.A.

With “Gunfight,” Busse, who said he left the industry voluntarily in 2020, stands out because he is one of the few insiders to speak publicly, and critically, about the insular culture of gun companies.

He acknowledged that he was not a silent bystander. When Smith & Wesson reached an agreement after the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School that included adding a number of safety measures to new guns, including trigger locks, Busse wrote, he successfully organized dozens of gun dealers to boycott the company.

At Kimber, where Busse spent the entirety of his career, he believed he had carved out a spot in an esteemed and sober-minded company. He described it as being like the Tiffany & Company of the firearm industry. He believed that it was on the right side of an “unspoken line of bifurcation,” adding, “We all knew that higher-quality, more expensive, lower-capacity guns” — the kind his company made — “were far less likely to be used in crime.”

Even so, the industry as a whole was evolving in a way he found irresponsible. That shift crystallized for him in 2010 at an N.R.A. convention in Charlotte, N.C., where he saw a large poster advertising the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle that said, “Consider your man card reissued.” The slogan would become part of a lawsuit being waged by families of people killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which argues that the gun manufacturer had employed militaristic marketing campaigns that appealed to so-called couch commandos and troubled young men like the perpetrator of the 2012 attack.

“I remember lots of us in the industry kind of whispering to each other, looking at each other like, geez,” Busse said. “Norms were being broken, and lots of us who had been in the industry for quite a while did not quite know what to make of that.”

That trend in marketing, he said, has only intensified, pointing out that one company now markets a rifle as the “Urban Super Sniper.”

The massacre at Sandy Hook, during which 20 first graders and six adults were killed, was a decisive moment. “My kids were almost exactly the same age as those Sandy Hook kids,” Busse said. “I don’t know that there’s ever been anything that horrific.”

He added: “It was sort of like, OK, if this doesn’t spur legislation, nothing will.” (The attack did not lead to new federal regulations.)

Still, nearly eight years passed before Busse left his job as Kimber’s vice president of sales. He delayed, he said, because he thought he could make a difference from inside the industry. There were also practical concerns: He was earning $210,000 a year, he said, but he was 50 years old, had a family and could scarcely afford to leave his wages behind.

His wife, Sara Busse, kept pressing him to leave. In 2019, when they were celebrating their 20th anniversary, she sequestered him in a hotel room and said, “We’re not leaving until we have a plan.”

 “We cannot be a part of this,” she recalled saying in an interview. “He was part of the gun industry, but for me, it felt like we were complicit — our family was living off of the gun industry.”

Busse left Kimber in August 2020 and dived into writing the book. In June, he became a senior adviser for Giffords, the gun safety organization founded by Gabrielle Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman who was gravely injured in a 2011 mass shooting.

His former colleagues and allies have publicly disavowed him or distanced themselves from him.

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, a conservation group where Busse had once served as chairman, said in a statement that the organization was not connected in any way to the book.

Leslie Edelman, Kimber’s owner, declined to comment on the book or Busse’s departure. But after Busse published a letter in The Sidney Herald and other newspapers in Montana criticizing legislation to loosen gun laws, Kimber released a statement distancing itself from him and said the company was “a proud supporter of our Constitutional rights to keep and bear arms.”

But Busse’s family and friends outside of the industry have urged him on. Former colleagues have sent him texts quietly encouraging him as well.

“I just think the gun issue has become so partisan and polarized, and the reality of where people are is not reflected in how the issue gets framed,” Matt Leow, a friend of Busse’s, said as he was preparing to take his son out for a day of hunting. “It gets framed as gun nuts versus gun grabbers. There’s no place for most of us to land.”

Busse is trying to mobilize a group in the middle ground. He wrote in the book that he imagines people like his father, who, as he wrote, “embrace safety and reason.”

“Change is not going to happen from the outside in,” Busse said. “It has to start with someone like me.”

To read more CLICK HERE

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Superior Court Takes Up Question of Consent Involving Cellphone Data

Matthew T. Mangino
The Legal Intelligencer
December 9, 2021

In spring 2021, following a reargument en banc the Pennsylvania Superior Court was faced with an “important” question, “What police must do to obtain a knowing and voluntary consent to search by permission all or part of a cellular phone’s data.”

The case came to the Superior Court following a decision by the Butler County Common Pleas Court. The trial judge suppressed evidence extracted from a defendant’s phone and the commonwealth appealed. Last fall, a three-member panel of the Superior Court affirmed the trial court’s order to suppress, and in December 2020 the court granted the commonwealth’s application for reargument. 

Judge Daniel D. McCaffery of the Pennsylvania Superior Court  summarized the facts of the case in his Oct. 12 opinion in Commonwealth v. Gallagher, No. 1529 WDA 2019, 2021 PA Super 204 (en banc). On Nov. 9, 2014, an officer with the Adams Township Police Department in Butler County responded to a 911 call from a 16-year-old female who was “hysterical, panicky and scared.” 

The young woman told the officer that she had been picked up in McKeesport by the defendant, Tod A. Gallagher, and his friend. They consumed alcohol, after which she claimed she woke up on the side of a road with the defendant on top of her with his hand down the front of her pants. She then ran and hid in the woods. 

After a brief investigation, the defendant, Gallagher, was summoned to the police station. While at the station, he was informed by a detective that he was not under arrest and was free to leave at any time. He agreed to speak with the detective and, during the conversation, the detective asked Gallagher “if he minded if we looked at his phone.” Gallagher was then asked to sign a consent form for electronic media.

During the interview the police did a “data dump” of Gallagher’s phone. Some of the data was cited in the case against Gallagher for attempted rape. Defense counsel filed a motion to suppress.

The Superior Court concluded that “in the context of their conversation, it was far from clear that “looking at” his phone would include a complete data dump, as opposed to flipping through his photograph folder, which is what Gallagher was doing when the officer asked if Gallagher would mind if he looked at it.

The court did not believe that the exchange between the detective and Gallagher put him “on notice as to the true scope of the search sought.” The court then turned its attention to “the written form Gallagher was given and asked to sign.” 

The trial court found the form lacked a clear explanation of what the signer was waiving, and the extent of the search to which the signer submitted. The record also revealed that Gallagher was never advised of his constitutional right to privacy nor was he told he was free to deny the request to look at his phone. 

The Superior Court found “no basis to disturb the trial court’s factual findings as to the form in question.” 

The cellphone has earned a special status in terms of search and seizure. In Riley v. California and United States v. Wurie, 573 U.S. 373 (2014), the U.S. Supreme Court found that “Cellphones differ in both a quantitative and a qualitative sense from other objects that might be carried on an arrestee’s person. Notably, modern cellphones have an immense storage capacity. Before cellphones, a search of a person was limited by physical realities and generally constituted only a narrow intrusion on privacy. But cellphones can store millions of pages of text, thousands of pictures, or hundreds of videos.”  

The Supreme Court in Riley was considering the lawfulness of a cellphone search after an arrest. Police searched David Riley’s cellphone after he was arrested on gun charges and found evidence of gang activity. The Fourth Amendment requires police to obtain a warrant before they conduct a search unless an exception applies. The exception at issue in Riley’s case was a search incident to a lawful arrest.

The U.S. Supreme Court held unanimously that police must first obtain a warrant before searching an arrested person’s cellphone.   

The high court continued, “A decade ago officers might have occasionally stumbled across a highly personal item such as a diary, but today many of the more than 90% of American adults who own cellphones keep on their person a digital record of nearly every aspect of their lives.”

The prosecution in Gallagher argued, “Common sense and a view of the surrounding situation would indicate to any reasonable, semi-intelligent person that if a request is being made of him, the converse option is also a possible right available to him.” 

Gallagher countered that the township’s consent form “did not advise him what his rights were, and the detective never told him that he was free to leave and free to withhold consent.”

A request to “look at” a suspect’s cellphone is not the same as downloading all of the data in a cellphone—the amount of which only a few years ago was beyond comprehension. While requesting to look at a single photograph or photographs may involve a simple matter of consent, a data dump will require the explanation of the suspect’s rights, a specific acknowledgement of the scope of the search and the knowing and voluntary waiver of those rights. Otherwise, a search warrant is required.

“If a person is showing another a certain feature or application on their phone and was asked ‘hey, can I look at that?’” McCaffrey continued, “it would be reasonable to assume that they were being asked about that particular feature or application (in this situation, the photograph application) as opposed to a global capture of all data on the device.” 

The court in Gallagher, concluded, “One who consents to a search retains the right to control the scope of consent given; this is intrinsic to the nature of consent and the consent exception to the warrant requirement.”

In closing, McCaffrey wrote, “Given the totality of the circumstances, neither the verbal exchange nor the form Gallagher was given can establish … that Gallagher made a knowing and voluntary waiver of his rights to the cellphone.” The en banc court affirmed the order of suppression.

Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly and George and the former district attorney of Lawrence County. He is the author of The Executioner’s Toll. You can follow him on twitter @MatthewTMangino or contact him at

To read more CLICK HERE

Friday, December 17, 2021

Mangino discusses opioid suit by school districts in Ohio

Watch my interview on WFMJ-TV about a lawsuit filed by two Ohio school districts over the marketing strategy of OxyContin manufactured by Purdue Pharma.

To watch the interview CLICK HERE

Thursday, December 16, 2021

DPIC Report Highlights Continuing Decline of Death Penalty

Today the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., issued its annual end of the year report on capital punishment. The report is chock-full of data about executions, court decisions and death sentences to name a few. 

The big story this year was Virginia’s abolition of the death penalty. Virginia is the first southern state to abolish the death penalty.  The decision by the Commonwealth of Virginia is significant. At one point during the modern era of the death penalty only Texas was executing more people that Virginia.

Now that Virginia is in the death penalty abolishment column, a majority of states have now abolished the death penalty (23) or have a formal moratorium on its use—Pennsylvania, Oregon and California—an additional ten states have not carried out an execution in at least ten years. According to DPIC, bipartisan legislation to repeal the death penalty is moving through the Ohio and Utah legislatures.

The dearth of executions in 2021 is the first thing that people point to when discussing the death penalty.  There were only 11 execution carried out this year—the fewest executions in this country since 1984. 

Only five states and the federal government carried out executions in 2021. Texas and the federal government each executed three people. Oklahoma executed two. Three states – Alabama, Mississippi, and Missouri – each executed one person.

More telling is that nationwide only 18 death sentences were imposed in seven states in 2021. Oklahoma and Alabama each imposed four new death sentences. California and Texas handed down three. Florida imposed two new death sentences, while Nebraska and Tennessee each imposed one. Only two counties — Los Angeles County, California and Oklahoma County, Oklahoma — imposed more than one death sentence, with each imposing two.

To read the Report CLICK HERE

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Cities across the US are breaking homicide records this year

One of the fastest-growing cities in the country, the capital of Texas is nearing the end of its deadliest year on record in 2021 as cities nationwide are experiencing a rise in homicides and gun violence incidents that began last year when the pandemic tightened its grip on the US, reported CNN.

Fueled by what both authorities and community leaders say is the easy access to guns, Austin has recorded 88 homicides so far this year, shattering the previous high of 59 in 1984.

Chris Harris, a member of the Austin Justice Coalition, a community-led organization addressing criminal justice reform as well as economic and social justice, said most of the violent incidents that occur in the city involve people "who know each other."

"If it's two people who know each other, clearly there is some contact that has risen to a point now that is being resolved violently instead of being resolved peacefully," Harris said.

Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon called the increase in violent crime "disappointing," especially for a historically safe community.

"When you see the numbers spike like this and we're trying to figure out exactly why that's happening," Chacon said, "there's no clear-cut answer. We haven't found that one trend that we can really pin this on."

Austin is part of a worrying trend facing the nation. More than two-thirds of the country's most populous cities have seen more homicides in 2021 than last year, a continuation of the troubling increase in homicides that began at the onset of the pandemic in 2020, according to a CNN analysis of over 40 major cities.

The rise in violent crime is an epidemic that is happening "all across the country," said Thomas Abt, a senior fellow at the Council on Criminal Justice, and a result of three major factors: the impact of Covid-19 on communities and first responders, the fallout of the social unrest after the murder of George Floyd, and the surge in gun sales since the start of the pandemic.

At least nine major cities have broken their previous annual homicide records with about three weeks left to go in 2021. There have been 513 homicides this year in Philadelphia, higher than the previous total of 503 in 1990. There have been 230 homicides in Indianapolis, breaking the previous record of 215 set just last year.

These increases are not isolated to any particular region of the country. Other cities with record homicide totals include Louisville, Kentucky; Columbus, Ohio; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Tucson, Arizona; Rochester, New York; and Portland, Oregon. Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Nashville are also on pace to reach record homicide numbers by the end of the year.

Los Angeles recorded 352 homicides so far this year, and Chicago has seen 756, with year-to-date increases of 12% and 4% respectively. In Houston, homicides are up 18% from 2020.

While one-year increases don't always portend a significant spike in crime, almost all the largest cities in the United States have seen an increase in homicides from 2019, sustaining a sharp rise that began last year.

According to the 2020 Uniform Crime Report from the FBI, homicides rose 30% from 2019 to 2020, the largest single-year increase the agency has recorded since it began tracking these crimes in the 1960s.

There were more than 21,500 murders last year, a total not seen since the mid 1990s. But the murder rate in 2020 was about 6.5 per 100,000 people, about 40% below what it was in the 1980s and 1990s, when homicides peaked in the United States.

"The pandemic, like community gun violence, concentrates among the poorest and most disenfranchised people," Abt said. "So those communities are doubly impacted, not only by Covid-19, but by gun violence."

At the same time, the institutions that are responsible for responding to violence, including police and community organizations, were also placed under stress and pressure, Abt added, referring to the phenomenon as a "perfect storm."

Abt said the second factor is the fallout of the social unrest following the murder of Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

"We're seeing police pulling back in some cities from some of their discretionary law enforcement activities and we're also seeing communities pulling back from their ongoing collaboration and cooperation with police," he said. "When you have that divide between cops and communities, violence tends to go up."

The final factor experts say is causing violent crime to go up is a "huge surge in gun sales that began at the beginning of the pandemic and has not slowed down," he said.

A small but significant number of these guns are "ending up in the wrong hands and being used in gun crimes," Abt added.

Fayetteville, North Carolina, Police Chief Gina Hawkins said homicides in her city are "up high" right now from 23 homicides last year to 32 this year through the end of September, representing a 39% increase, according to the city's third-quarter crime statistics.

"People are quickly pulling a gun out and without thought of repercussions and without the thought that you are truly ending a life," Hawkins said.

Hawkins said another issue is social media "extremists" who need access to mental health resources.

"When you don't have anyone to talk to you off a cliff or you are so geared in social media, that plays another role," she said.

Experts have recommended looking into community-based approaches to reduce violent crime.

"Police need to be at the table and police are part of the solution, but they are not the whole solution," Abt said. "You need community-based organizations and law enforcement agencies working together."

Shooting incidents -- both fatal and non-fatal -- have increased in nearly all major US cities where data was available, according to a CNN analysis. Guns were the most used weapon in every city where information was published detailing the method of homicide.

According to the FBI report, the number of homicides last year began to escalate during the summer months, peaking in June and July and remaining at high levels after that. Capturing a full picture of homicide in the United States is nearly impossible -- the UCR report is the most comprehensive data set available, but participation by law enforcement agencies is voluntary.

Last year, only 85% of the country's more than 18,000 agencies submitted their data to the FBI. The 2021 UCR report will likely not publish until late next year.

While experts say the reasons for the rise in homicides are varied, murders are increasingly carried out by guns. The increase in gun violence was underscored in the 2020 UCR Report, which stated that about 77% of reported murders in 2020 were committed with a gun, up from 74% in 2019. There is no federal database of gun sales, but other independent surveys have found that gun sales have soared during the Covid-19 pandemic.

With just three weeks remaining in 2021, it seems almost certain that there will be more murders this year than last. However, the rate of increase in homicides does appear to be slowing.

A quarterly report published in November by the Council on Criminal Justice, which studied homicides in 22 cities during the first nine months of this year, showed the number of murders was 4% greater than the same period in 2020. In the first three quarters of 2020, the number of homicides in the same 22 cities rose by 36% over the same time frame in 2019, according to the report.

Data from consulting company AH Datalytics, which tracks year-to-date homicides across dozens of major US cities, shows a 7.5% increase in homicides so far between 2021 and 2020, down from the 10% increase observed over the summer and a further a reduction from the 30% increase observed in 2020.

To read more CLICK HERE