Thursday, June 30, 2022

Public Defenders support SCOTUS striking New York gun law

 New York public defenders applaud SCOTUS decision on carrying a concealed weapon. In a Washington Post op-ed public defenders wrote:

As public defenders in New York City who represent people charged with illegal gun possession — people who, according to the New York City Police Department’s own data, are almost invariably Black and Brown — we see the majority’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen as an important step to ending mass incarceration. That’s why we joined other public defenders in filing an amicus brief in the case asking the court to abandon its ivory tower and consider the law’s impact on those people who bear the brunt of New York’s gun laws — our clients. Leading Second Amendment scholars agreed that New York’s law needed to be struck down because of the law’s racist impact.

To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Mangino on Crime Stories with Nancy Grace

Listen to my guest appearance on Crime Stories with Nancy Grace as we discuss the murder of Jennifer Rothwell in Missouri. 

To listen to the interview CLICK HERE

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Mangino discusses murder of Nipsey Hussle on Court TV

Watch my discussion with Ted Rowlands on Court TV discussing the trial of Eric Holder for the murder of rapper Nipsey Hussle. 

To watch the interview CLICK HERE

Mangino discusses 'Heartbeat' statute in Ohio with WFMJ-TV21

Watch my interview on WFMJ-TV21 on Ohio's fetal heartbeat legislation implemented in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

To watch the interview CLICK HERE

Monday, June 27, 2022

Mangino a guest on the Law and Crime Network's 'Sidebar' Podcast

Listen to my interview with Angenette Levy on Law and Crime Network's podcast 'Sidebar' discussing the "alleged" assault of Rudy Giuliani in a Staten Island grocery store.

To listen CLICK HERE

Police officer, and candidate for Rhode Island state senate, punches female opponent at pro-choice rally

A Republican candidate for Rhode Island state Senate dropped out of the race on Saturday after a video that went viral allegedly showed him punching his Democratic challenger in the face during an abortion rights rally in the wake of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, according to Talking Points Memo.

In a video filmed Friday night, Rhode Island Democratic state Senate candidate Jennifer Rourke is seen at a rally outside the State House protesting the Supreme Court’s ruling ending the right to abortion. The video shows tensions escalating, with people throwing punches at each other. Rourke alleged that her GOP challenger, Jeann Lugo, punched her in the face. Lugo is a Providence police officer who was off duty at the time.

The Providence Police Department announced Saturday that it launched a criminal investigation and an administrative review of the “behavior of an off duty officer” during a protest on Friday night involving the assault of a female.

The Rhode Island State Police said Lugo was arraigned on Saturday. Following a joint investigation between the state police and the Providence Police Department, Lugo was arrested on a State Police affidavit and charged with simple assault and disorderly conduct. He was released on personal recognizance and assigned a re-arraignment date next month. He is suspended with pay from the Providence Police Department while the incident remains under investigation.

To read more CLICK HERE

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Mangino provides legal analysis on Weekend Today on WFMJ-TV21

Watch as provide expert legal analysis with regard to three recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions affecting abortion, guns and Miranda warnings on Weekend Today on WFMJ-TV21.

To watch the interview CLICK HERE and scroll to "Interview with Matt Mangino."

Dobbs overrules Roe v. Wade how did we get here?

Roe v. Wade is overruled. The Republican Party, which achieved a generational victory when it captured a supermajority of the Supreme Court’s seats under former President Donald Trump, has now capitalized on that victory to achieve one of its longtime political goals. The half-century when American constitutional law protected a right to an abortion is now over, wrote Ian Millhiser at Vox.

Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is substantially similar to a leaked early draft of that opinion, which was published by Politico in early May. Alito’s opinion was joined by the Court’s four most conservative members. Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative who often takes a more incrementalist approach than Alito, wrote a separate opinion arguing that the Court should limit but not yet overrule Roe.

Alito’s final opinion doesn’t just allow Mississippi to enact the 15-week abortion ban at issue in Dobbs — a ban that violated Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 opinion that weakened Roe while retaining the constitutional right to an abortion up to the point of “viability.” Alito’s opinion goes further, and concludes that Roe and Casey “must be overruled.” It is written in Alito’s characteristically snide tone, repeatedly referring to abortion providers by the pejorative term “abortionists.” And it rests on a conservative theory that limits which rights are protected by the Constitution.

“The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision,” Alito writes.

According to Alito, if a right isn’t explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, it must be “‘deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition’ and ‘implicit in the concept of ordered liberty’” to qualify for constitutional protection. He then spends many pages of his opinion arguing that the right to an abortion is not rooted in legal history or tradition.

To read more CLICK HERE

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Mangino's full Roe v. Wade interview on WFMJ-TV Podcast

 Listen to my full interview with Derek Steyer on the Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade on WFMJ-TV's podcast.

To listen CLICK HERE

Mangino discusses Roe v. Wade decision on WFMJ-TV21

Watch my interview with Derek Steyer on WFMJ-TV21 News regarding the Supreme Court's ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

To watch the interview CLICK HERE

Friday, June 24, 2022

SCOTUS no civil remedy if police fail to mirandize suspect

The Supreme Court ruled today, 6–3, that if a police officer fails to inform you of your right to remain silent and avoid self-incrimination when you're suspected of a crime, you can't sue under federal law as a violation of your civil rights, reported Reason.

To be clear, the Court isn't overturning Miranda v. Arizona, the 1966 Supreme Court ruling that determined that it's a violation of a suspect's Fifth Amendment rights for police to interrogate him or her about a crime without informing them they have the right to remain silent and the right to request an attorney. But what the Court ruled today is that if and when this right is violated, people can't turn to Section 1983 of the U.S. code and file a civil action lawsuit against the police officer or law enforcement agency and seek redress or damages.

Today's ruling, Vega v. Tekoh, involved an investigation of sexual assault at a Los Angeles medical center in 2014. Terence Tekoh worked at the medical center and was interrogated by L.A. County Deputy Carlos Vega. Vega did not tell Tekoh about his Miranda rights and extracted a written confession. This confession was admitted into evidence in court, and a judge determined that his Miranda rights weren't violated because he wasn't in custody when he confessed. Even so, the first case ended in a mistrial, and then Tekoh was ultimately found not guilty in a second trial. Tekoh then sued using Section 1983 against Vega and others seeking damages for the violation of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The case wound its way all the way up to the Supreme Court to hear in April. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Cato Institute together submitted an amicus brief to the Court supporting the position that Vega could be held liable.

But in a pure ideological split, the Court today determined that a violation of the Miranda rules does not provide a basis for a civil rights lawsuit under Section 1983. Justice Samuel Alito wrote the opinion of the Court, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.

Essentially, Alito's opinion says that the purpose of Miranda is to serve as a safeguard against compelled self-incrimination by police or prosecutors. It was not intended to establish that it was inherently a Fifth Amendment violation if somebody voluntarily confesses or self-incriminates himself or herself prior to or absent of a Miranda warning. The Miranda warning is intended to be a "prophylactic," to safeguard against potential deliberate abuse. Alito writes:

Miranda did not hold that a violation of the rules it established necessarily constitute a Fifth Amendment violation, and it is difficult to see how it could have held otherwise. For one thing, it is easy to imagine many situations in which an un-Mirandized suspect in custody may make self-incriminating statements without any hint of compulsion. In addition, the warnings that the Court required included components, such as notification of the right to have retained or appointed counsel present during questioning, that do not concern self-incrimination per se but are instead plainly designed to safeguard that right. And the same is true of Miranda's detailed rules about the waiver of the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.

Alito concludes that because a violation of Miranda is not automatically a violation of the Fifth Amendment, there is no justification to permit a civil rights lawsuit. The opinion reverses a judgment in Tekoh's favor and remands it back to the lower courts to revisit.

The dissent is written by Justice Elena Kagan and joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. Kagan observes the obvious in her dissent, that this ruling will make it harder for defendants to pursue legal remedies when their rights are violated:

The majority observes that defendants may still seek "the suppression at trial of statements obtained" in violation of Miranda's procedures. … But sometimes, such a statement will not be suppressed. And sometimes, as a result, a defendant will be wrongly convicted and spend years in prison. He may succeed, on appeal or in habeas, in getting the conviction reversed. But then, what remedy does he have for all the harm he has suffered? The point of §1983 is to provide such redress—because a remedy "is a vital component of any scheme for vindicating cherished constitutional guarantees." … The majority here, as elsewhere, injures the right by denying the remedy.

Reason's Billy Binion noted earlier this week that the Supreme Court had declined to take on cases where federal officers had been granted civil liability against lawsuits when they violate the rights of citizens and even commit crimes in the line of duty. This case continues this trend—the Supreme Court recognizes that these constitutional rights exist, but by shielding officers from liability for violating these rights, the Court undermines the necessary tools to make sure police take them seriously.

To read more CLICK HERE


Thursday, June 23, 2022

Data shows there is rarely a 'good guy with a gun' at mass shootings

“It’s direct, indisputable, empirical evidence that this kind of common claim that ‘the only thing that stops a bad guy with the gun is a good guy with the gun’ is wrong.” 

Adam Lankford, a professor at the University of Alabama.

The lengthy police response to a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and the death of an armed security guard as part of an attack on a Buffalo supermarket last month have drawn fresh scrutiny to a recurring (and uniquely American) debate: What role should the police and bystanders play in active shooter attacks, and what interventions would best stop the violence?

The debate has moved to Capitol Hill as lawmakers consider gun safety legislation that could increase funding for mental health services, school safety and other measures aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people. “What stops armed bad guys is armed good guys,” Senator Ted Cruz suggested in the wake of the Uvalde shooting, echoing many other gun rights advocates over the years.

Researchers who study active shooter events say it can be difficult to draw broad policy conclusions from individual episodes, but a review of data from two decades of such attacks reveals patterns in how they unfold, and how hard they are to stop once they have begun, reports The New York Times.

There were at least 433 active shooter attacks — in which one or more shooters killed or attempted to kill multiple unrelated people in a populated place — in the United States from 2000 to 2021. The country experienced an average of more than one a week in 2021 alone.

The data comes from the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center at Texas State University, whose researchers work with the F.B.I. to catalog and examine these attacks. Unlike mass shooting tallies that count a minimum number of people shot or killed, the active attack data includes episodes with fewer casualties, but researchers exclude domestic shootings and gang-related attacks.

Researchers caution that some older attacks may be missing from the data, but they feel confident in their overall assessment that shootings are increasing. What is less clear is how to limit the damage of these attacks, given how quickly they unfold and how powerful the weapons used can be.

Most attacks captured in the data were already over before law enforcement arrived. People at the scene did intervene, sometimes shooting the attackers, but typically physically subduing them. But in about half of all cases, the attackers commited suicide or simply stopped shooting and fled.

“It’s direct, indisputable, empirical evidence that this kind of common claim that ‘the only thing that stops a bad guy with the gun is a good guy with the gun’ is wrong,” said Adam Lankford, a professor at the University of Alabama, who has studied mass shootings for more than a decade. “It’s demonstrably false, because often they are stopping themselves.” 

Police officers shoot or physically subdue the shooter in less than a third of attacks 

Most events end before the police arrive, but police officers are usually the ones to end an attack if they get to the scene while it is ongoing.

Hunter Martaindale, director of research at the ALERRT Center, said the group has used the data to train law enforcement that “When you show up and this is going on, you are going to be the one to solve this problem.”

Information on police response time is incomplete, but in the available data, it took law enforcement three minutes, on average, to arrive at the scene of an active shooting.

Yet, even when law enforcement responds quickly — sometimes within seconds — or if officers are already on the scene when the attack begins, active shooters can still wound and kill many people.

“Law enforcement could be one minute out, and if that individual is proficient with the weapon system they’re using, they can quickly go through a lot of ammunition,” Mr. Martaindale said. “And if they’re proficient in their accuracy, you could have very high victim counts.”

In Dayton, Ohio, in 2019, an attacker shot 26 people and killed nine outside a downtown bar in the 32 seconds before a police officer on duty shot the attacker. A week earlier, at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Northern California, nearby officers engaged an attacker within a minute of his opening fire, but after 20 people had been shot. Three victims died and the attacker died by suicide.

“There’s not a lot that can be done to stop someone in the opening seconds of harming a significant number of people,” Mr. Lankford said.

And, like in Uvalde, law enforcement does not always bring an attack to a quick end. When a gunman opened fire at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., in 2016, a detective working extra duty shot at the gunman from outside the club. More police officers began arriving less than two minutes later. But the police did not enter the club for several minutes, after the gunman had paused his initial assault. Police officers ended the attack when they shot the gunman three hours after the assault began. Forty-nine people were killed and 53 more were wounded. 

Bystanders stop some attackers, more often

In the wake of deadly shootings, gun rights advocates often push to arm more people, citing prominent examples where a “good guy with a gun” stopped a “bad guy.”

After a gunman shot 46 people in a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, in 2017, an armed neighbor arrived at the scene and exchanged gunfire with the gunman, injuring him, until the gunman fled.

But armed bystanders shooting attackers was not common in the data — 22 cases out of 433. In 10 of those, the “good guy” was a security guard or an off-duty police officer.

“The actual data show that some of these kind of heroic, Hollywood moments of armed citizens taking out active shooters are just extraordinarily rare,” Mr. Lankford said.

In fact, having more than one armed person at the scene who is not a member of law enforcement can create confusion and carry dire risks. An armed bystander who shot and killed an attacker in 2021 in Arvada, Colo., was himself shot and killed by the police, who mistook him for the gunman.

It was twice as common for bystanders to physically subdue the attackers, often by tackling or striking them. At Seattle Pacific University in 2014, a student security guard pepper sprayed and tackled a gunman who was reloading his weapon during an attack that killed one and injured three others. The guard took the attacker’s gun away and held the attacker until law enforcement arrived.

When a gunman entered a classroom at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2019, a student tackled him. The student was shot and killed, but the police chief said the attack would have had a far worse death toll had the student not intervened. 

One in four attacks ends in a shooter suicide 

In more than a quarter of episodes, the attackers ended the shootings by turning the guns on themselves.

Many attackers died by suicide before the police arrived. At a Binghamton, N.Y., immigration services center in 2009, an attacker shot 17 people, killing 13, before turning the gun on himself. A middleschooler died by suicide after shooting two fellow students and a teacher in Sparks, Nev., in 2013. After shooting 471 people at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas from a hotel room overlooking the festival, the gunman died by suicide before the police arrived to his room.

The share of attackers who die by suicide is most likely a fraction of those who have suicidal expectations, Mr. Lankford said. Based on evidence attackers leave before attacks, like online posts or suicide notes, more say they expect to die. Sometimes they expect to provoke law enforcement to kill them, Mr. Lankford said.

Police officers exchanged gunfire in 2018 with a gunman who shot 12 people at a bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif., before he shot himself.

At Virginia Tech in 2007, a gunman locked doors to the building, initially stalling the police, before attacking students and professors, eventually shooting 49 people. But once law enforcement was able to enter, the attacker shot himself as police officers approached. 

One in four attackers leaves the scene (though most are later caught) 

About a quarter of shootings ended when the attacker or attackers stopped of their own accord and left the scene, then were apprehended or died by suicide at another location.

Many attacks that end when the shooter flees are spontaneous; for example, one may stem from a dispute that escalates when one party pulls out a gun.

In San Antonio in 2019, a man had a disagreement with the staff of a moving company, then opened fire on the company’s workers before running away. The police apprehended him later without incident. Last year, a man who was kicked out of a nightclub in Wichita, Kan., after a fight returned and shot six people, killing one. He fled the scene, and the police arrested him a month later in Phoenix.

Because these kinds of attacks are generally not planned, attackers may be more inclined to flee in hopes of getting away, Mr. Martaindale said.

But many premeditated attacks also ended when the attacker or attackers left the scene. After a gunman shot 34 people in 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., he dropped his weapon and fled the school with other students, bypassing police officers who had arrived on the scene but had not yet attempted to intervene. After fleeing, the gunman walked to a Walmart, bought a drink at a Subway and stopped at a McDonald’s before he was apprehended by the police on a residential street.

In El Paso, a gunman shot 45 people, killing 23, in a Walmart before fleeing the scene. The police arrested him down the road without incident.

Why attackers stop themselves is a hard thing to know, but Mr. Lankford, after studying shooters for years, has some guesses. One is that sometimes, shooters plan for a dramatic confrontation with the police that does not happen. Another possibility, he said, is that the reality of their actions sets in.

To read more CLICK HERE

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Measures and procedures designed to prevent school shootings impeded police in Uvalde

The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District has a 21-point security plan that ordered school doors locked at all times and required students to practice lockdown drills "on a regular basis," in the event of a mass shooting, reporter Insider.

But during the school shooting on May 24 that left 19 children and 2 teachers dead, many of the measures and procedures designed to prevent bloodshed may have hampered police's response as officers took over an hour to confront the shooter while students inside the classrooms begged for help.

Interviews given by the school's embattled police chief and a teacher who survived the massacre reveal how the precautions against mass shootings were turned against police.

Locked doors kept police from entering the classroom where the shooter was barricaded 

The gunman entered classrooms 111 and 112 and opened fire at about 11:33 a.m. He locked the doors to the adjoining rooms, leaving himself inside — alongside his victims — for over an hour before police eventually entered and shot him dead.

School district police chief Pete Arredondo — who has faced criticism amid accusations he delayed the tactical response to the shooting — told the Texas Tribune in an interview published on Thursday that UCISD officers don't carry master keys to school classrooms.

He said officers had to wait for school staff to provide multiple rings of keys to try to open the door.

"I was praying one of them was going to open up the door each time I tried a key," Arredondo told the Tribune.

It took more than an hour for Arredondo to receive a key that finally opened the door, the Tribune reported.

As they were waiting for keys for approximately 78 minutes, Arredondo said officers on the scene worked to evacuate over 500 other students and teachers from the building to lead them to safety. 

"It's not that someone said stand down," Arredondo's lawyer, George E. Hyde, told the Tribune. "It was 'Right now, we can't get in until we get the tools. So we're going to do what we can do to save lives.' And what was that? It was to evacuate the students and the parents and the teachers out of the rooms."

Reinforced classroom doors made it impossible for police officers to break in without a key 

Aside from locks, reinforcements on the doors also prevented police from getting through to the classrooms.

Arredondo told the Tribune that classroom doors at Robb Elementary are "reinforced with a hefty steel jamb, designed to keep an attacker on the outside from forcing their way in."

But that same measure made it impossible for Arredondo and other officers who entered the school to kick in the door and enter without a key, he said.  

Additionally, experts told the Tribune that breaking through windows to get into the classroom would have caused more casualties.

Turned-off lights kept cops from seeing into the classrooms

The Standard Response Protocol, a shooting safety guide used by the Uvalde school district, recommends teachers and students turn off classroom lights to prevent a shooter from seeing students and teachers hiding inside.

The Tribune reported that the lights were off in classrooms during the Robb Elementary shooting.

Arredondo told the Tribune that because the lights were off, cops had little visibility inside the classrooms, making it difficult to pinpoint the shooter's exact location. 

It also made it more difficult to assess whether the teachers and students inside were alive, the Tribune reported. 

One Robb Elementary teacher said active shooting training set his students up 'like ducks' for the shooter

Robb Elementary teacher Arnulfo Reyes, whose 11 fourth-grade students were all killed in the May 24 shooting, told "Good Morning America" that active shooting training protocol set the children up "like ducks" during the shooting.

Reyes said his students were watching a movie in class following an end-of-year celebration when they heard gunshots.

He told "Good Morning America" that he told the students to hide under a table and pretend to be asleep. The gunman then came into the classroom and opened fire, shooting Reyes twice and killing the students.

"We trained our kids to sit under the table, and that's what I thought at the time. But we set them up to be like ducks," he said, adding that he "tried his best" and tearfully apologized to the families of his students.

Gov. Abbott wants more active shooter training in schools

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has called to deploy "nationally recognized active shooter training to all Texas school districts, prioritizing school-based law enforcement," in the weeks since the shooting. He said training on these protocols should begin before the 2022-2023 school year. 

Abbott said that more training "will help law enforcement on school campuses better respond to these situations."

But the governor's office did not respond to multiple requests for comment asking if the training would be updated since police and Reyes have said the training contributed to making the shooting worse.

Reyes told "Good Morning America" that he believes training won't help.

"It all happened too fast. Training, no training, all kinds of training — nothing gets you ready for this," Reyes told "Good Morning America" in an interview that aired Tuesday. "You can give us all the training you want, but laws have to change."

To read more CLICK HERE 


Monday, June 20, 2022

Overturning Roe v. Wade could lead to further mass incarceration

The NACDL published a report last August warning the public that, without the legal protections under Roe v. Wade, thousands of abortion laws could lead to a new chapter of mass incarceration, reported NPR. 

The invasion of privacy alone is a big concern to the NACDL. Anyone who needs or wants an abortion outside of the legal limits of their state is not only a target for criminal charges, but risks implicating others, too — by confiding in friends or family, crossing state lines for procedures, or even using a transportation app to get to an appointment. 

"Not just fines. We're talking about prison time," Wayne said. "We're talking about minimum mandatory sentences — aiding or abetting someone who gets ultimately charged with manslaughter or murder, which is a life sentence."

And for those who think a future of mass incarceration is too unlikely, Wayne points to the War on Drugs, starting in 1971. 

"Suddenly people who were being prosecuted for small amounts of drugs were now involved in larger and greater conspiracies with minimum mandatory sentences," Wayne said. "People were looking at life sentences and still remain incarcerated to this day. You have to ask yourself, what lessons did we really learn?"

Who will actually pay the price?

The NACDL has tens of thousands of members. Actual feelings and opinions on abortion vary within the organization, as expected. But that's not what this collective red alert is about.

Wayne says that despite a range of personal views, the membership as a whole is concerned about invasion of privacy, government overreach, and a massive stretch on legal resources if a wave of abortion-related criminal charges hits the U.S.

And that pain won't be distributed equally.

"Whenever you're talking about overcriminalization, you're talking about money," Wayne said. "Rich people will always be able to lawyer up. They will always have access to attorneys. Poor people will be left behind." 

She points to an already overwhelmed public defender system, which people can't access until after their legal troubles have started.

"I don't get a lawyer, if I'm poor, until I'm actually charged with a crime in this country in most jurisdictions," she said. "So I have to wait until that moment until I get charged. If I have money, access to counsel, I get advice on the front end of being able to perhaps avoid the consequences that I would face if I didn't have money."

The perfect victim

A future without Roe v. Wade ultimately leads back to that courtroom and jury, where the task at hand becomes navigating perception. The burden of being "the perfect victim" is nothing new when it comes to cases of harassmentsexual assault and domestic violence. 

"To be a perfect victim of sexual assault, human trafficking or intimate partner violence, you cannot also struggle with addiction, poverty or mental illness," wrote Amanda Rodriguez, a former federal prosecutor and the executive director of Baltimore's rape crisis center, TurnAround Inc, in a 2021 op-ed for the Baltimore Sun. "To be a perfect victim, you cannot accept a drink, engage in commercial sex or walk alone at night. You cannot wear tight clothes or have a criminal record. You cannot be human."

Except with a criminalized abortion, the "victim" isn't pressing charges. They're fighting them.

"At the end of the day, it's going to be the bias going into the courtroom," Wayne said. "The bias dealing with the district attorney who has preconceived notions of their own about how these cases should be prosecuted, the judges who oversee these cases and how they feel — and then ultimately go to the jurors' bias."

And that's a main focus of NACDL's training at the moment: preparing to help clients who have been charged with abortion-related crimes look sympathetic and relatable to a group of their peers (wherein the degree of difficulty varies, depending on your race.)

But in some cases, that might not be enough. While more than a dozen states have trigger laws that would immediately go into effect if Roe is lifted, restrictive abortion bans already exist in many states — some without exceptions for rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. And the Supreme Court might be about to grant state lawmakers the freedom to ban abortion however they want.So when a jury is asked to determine whether someone broke a law post-Roe, even a "perfect victim" might still be a guilty one.

To read more CLICK HERE


Saturday, June 18, 2022

Bunch: Hollywood needs to re-think 'love affair with guns'

In the wake of the Uvalde, Tex., mass shooting, some Hollywood storytellers are questioning the film industry’s love affair with guns. There’s one thing these filmmakers and showrunners could do to try to stem the tide of gun violence: stop sanitizing what guns do to human bodies, writes Sonny Bunch in the Washington Post. Hollywood should step up and show what journalists generally can’t depict, be it the victim of a mass shooting identifiable only by DNA or the aftermath of a suicide carried out with a gun.

Working in concert with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, more than 200 writers, directors, and producers such as J.J. Abrams, Mark Ruffalo, and Adam McKay recently signed on to an open letter calling for a period of introspection into how guns are used on-screen.

“Cultural attitudes toward smoking, drunk driving, seatbelts and marriage equality have all evolved due in large part to movies’ and TV’s influence,” the letter says. “It’s time to take on gun safety.”

Some specific suggestions: Show gun owners making use of gun safes; limit the portrayal of children and guns in the same scenes; and consider whether guns are necessary in any given scene.

This deliberation can’t hurt, but it probably won’t do much good either: Of the 45,222 people who died of gun-related injuries in 2020, 54 percent of those deaths were a result of suicide, 43 percent were murders, and roughly 1 percent were from accidents.

The extent to which on-screen violence influences off-screen behavior has bedeviled the film industry for as long as scolds have been trying to shut projectors off. The letter writers are quick to brush this aside, yet their hope that on-screen depictions of “responsible gun ownership” can influence off-screen behavior seems to open the door to an admission that irresponsible gun ownership can do the same.

The debate on this matter is long with much evidence on both sides. Some studies suggest exposing children to violence can have long-lasting effects; others suggest TV is less important than socialization. I do not propose to resolve it here.

However, as someone who owns a gun, watches a lot of violent movies and enjoys the occasional first-person shooter video game, I’m skeptical of claims that people in the aggregate are driven to violence by what they see on-screen. Yes, a certain number of already-deranged people are inspired by what they see in media — your John Hinckleys or your Matrix killers. But there’s little Hollywood can, or should, do to account for random crazies.

If “America’s storytellers” really want to change public perception of guns, they should consider being more honest on-screen about what bullets do to bodies. The issue isn’t really on-screen violence — it’s bloodless on-screen violence, the sort of violence in which guns fire and bodies simply fall to the ground in what could just as easily be sleep as death.

Journalist Jason Fagone in 2017 talked to trauma surgeons who deal with the reality of gun violence — mangled limbs, severed arteries, invasive and repeated surgeries — as well as victims. And that reality is sometimes simultaneously surreally and banally gruesome.

One man shot in the abdomen, Fagone wrote, “spent the next 11 months in the hospital, immobilized in bed, with an open wound down the front of him that had the circumference of a basketball. It got to the point where it was a normal thing for him to look down and think, oh, those are my intestines, there they are.”

Realistic violence in movies is often jarring when we see it because we see it so rarely. The only time I’ve seen an audience watching an installment of the “John Wick” franchise flinch had nothing to do with the abundance of gunplay. Early in the third film, a brawl ends with the titular assassin jamming a knife into the eye of an assailant. It’s intimate, bloody and horrifying — more so than every gun shot that preceded it.

If television and film luminaries really want to change the discussion of guns, they’ll pursue a bloodier type of filmmaking. Make standard the use of squibs — little explosives that create geysers of fake blood — during gunplay. These practical effects not only heighten the impact of the violence we see but also slow down productions that rely too greatly on cheap kills, causing a bit more thoughtfulness about when on-screen violence should be deployed.

If Hollywood wants to help reduce suicides, which constitute the majority of gun-violence deaths in the United States, it should show people what happens when a bullet goes through a head. Show the aftermath. The cleanup. That it’s not like a light softly going out, that it’s an extremely violent act, one that will leave a mess for your loved ones.

Some have suggested we need an “Emmett Till moment” after Uvalde showing photos of the victims and what the bullets did to their bodies. The sentiment is understandable, as is the disgust or the concerns about exploitation such a suggestion generates.

Those qualms wouldn’t apply to a fictionalized-but-realistic portrayal of such horror, however. And these images could help the public understand what gun violence really means.

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Friday, June 17, 2022

SCOTUS did not always interpret the 2nd Amend. to provide for self-defense

The Second Amendment was ratified in 1791, but it wasn’t until fourteen years ago that the Supreme Court read into it a right to use weapons for self-defense and declared a gun control law unconstitutional. For most of American history, federal courts left gun regulation to democratic debate. Judges understood the Second Amendment to safeguard the rights of “free state[s]” to maintain “well-regulated militia[s]” and to use guns in connection with militia service—a view the Supreme Court expressed in 1939.

Until recently, prominent conservatives agreed. Robert Bork—a high priest of the conservative legal movement and a staunch originalist—explained in 1989 that the Second Amendment’s “intent was to guarantee the right of states to form militia, not for individuals to bear arms.” In 1991 Bork repeated his view that the Second Amendment protected “people’s right to bear arms in a militia. The NRA thinks that it protects their right to have Teflon-coated bullets. But that’s not the original understanding.” For more than two centuries, this view governed American law. Not a single federal case struck down a gun law on Second Amendment grounds.

That changed in 2008, when five Republican-appointed justices on the Supreme Court asserted that they had discovered the “original meaning” of the Second Amendment and used it to invalidate a law restricting handgun possession. The case, District of Columbia v. Heller, involved a challenge to a local law that barred most residents from owning handguns and required that firearms kept at home be unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock or similar device. The Court’s conservative majority held that the Constitution’s framers ratified the Second Amendment to protect an individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense, especially in the home, where the need for defense of self, family, and property is “most acute.” This 5-4 decision changed the way most Americans read the Second Amendment. The Court brushed away the Amendment’s first clause—“a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State”—as merely “prefatory” and instead emphasized “self-defense” as “the core lawful purpose” of the Second Amendment.

The phrase “self-defense” does not appear in the text of the Second Amendment. Neither does a reference to the “home.” The Court in Heller read these concepts into the Constitution. In doing so, it shifted responsibility for deciding the proper balance between gun rights and gun regulation from the people’s representatives to federal courts. For this reason and others, Heller was divisive, and scholars continue to question whether it was correctly decided.

Yet Heller was clear, as Justice Antonin Scalia put it in his majority opinion, that “the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.” Heller focused constitutional protections on weapons used in self-defense in the home and recognized that government otherwise has ample authority to regulate weapons in the interest of public safety. “Nothing in our opinion,” Justice Scalia explained, “should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.” As one of us has argued, public safety regulation of weapons is critical in a democracy to protect the public sphere—Americans’ equal freedoms to speak, study, shop, worship, and vote without fear.

Today’s Supreme Court, pushed even further to the right by President Trump’s three appointments, is poised to expand gun rights beyond Heller. This month, legal analysts expect the Court to strike down a New York law that restricts the carrying of guns in public places. The case could bolster constitutional limits on government authority to regulate guns outside the home, imposing the same pro-gun regime on New York City subways that governs rural Montana ranches.  

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Thursday, June 16, 2022

Arizona executes man for murder of 8-year-old Tucson girl in 1984

 The 7th Execution of 2022

An Arizona inmate convicted in the 1984 killing of an 8-year-old girl was executed June 15. 2022 in the state's second execution since officials started carrying out the death penalty in May after a nearly eight-year hiatus. Frank Atwood, 66, died by lethal injection at the state prison in Florence for his murder conviction in the killing of Vicki Lynne Hoskinson, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a statement.

Vicki went missing after leaving her home in Tucson to drop a birthday card in a nearby mailbox in September 1984. Her body was found in the desert in April 1985.

The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for Atwood's execution after rejecting a final appeal by his lawyers. He died at 10:16 a.m., Brnovich said.

On Tuesday, the state Department of Corrections allowed Atwood, who converted to the Greek Orthodox Church in prison, to be visited by religious advisers, Atwood's attorney Joseph Perkovich told the Arizona Republic.

Atwood was accompanied through the process of being prepared for the lethal injection by a priest, witnesses to the execution said at a news conference after the execution. He had claimed innocence, but did not address the killing with his last words.

The witnesses said he thanked the priest for "coming today and shepherding me into the faith" and added: "I pray the Lord will have mercy on all of us and that the Lord will have mercy on me."

Bud Foster, a journalist for CBS affiliate KOLD-TV who has witnessed multiple executions, including Wednesday's, said the process of setting up IVs into Atwood for the lethal injection went smoothly and that "it was probably the most peaceful of any of the executions that I witnessed in the past."

Medical personnel preparing Atwood for the execution initially could not locate a vein in Atwood's right arm to put in an IV, but inserted it in his right hand at Atwood's suggestion, said Harry Brean, an Arizona Daily Star reporter who also served as an execution witness.

The girl's mother, Debbie Carlson, was also a witness to the execution and told reporters after Atwood died that "Vicki was a vibrant little girl with an infectious laugh and a smile that would melt your heart."

Carlson added: "Her royal blue eyes reflected an old soul of wisdom, and her freckled nose was unique and we are blessed to see it in our grandchildren today. Vicki was a feisty little one that always kept you on your toes and will forever be known as Dennis the menace, giggling all the way."

Judges in recent weeks rebuffed attempts by Atwood's lawyers to have the execution delayed.

In the final weeks of Atwood's life, his attorneys tried unsuccessfully to make new arguments in a bid to overturn his death sentence, saying they discovered an FBI memo describing an anonymous caller claiming to have seen the girl in a vehicle not associated with Atwood, but which could be linked to a woman. 

Perkovich said in a statement that his client's execution doesn't resolve what he said were unanswered questions about the case. 

"The state of Arizona executed Frank Atwood despite lingering doubts about his guilt," Perkovich said. "The case against Frank was purely circumstantial and significant evidence pointed to another suspect."

Atwood's lawyers also argued that his degenerative spinal condition would make it excruciatingly painful for him to be strapped on his back to a gurney, where inmates lie as they receive lethal injections. The lawyers also questioned whether state officials met a requirement for the lethal injection drug's expiration date to fall after the execution date.

Prosecutors claimed that Atwood was trying to indefinitely postpone his execution through legal maneuvers, saying his pain would be alleviated by propping him with a pillow on the gurney, which has a tilting function. Atwood didn't complain about back pain during the process to prepare him for the lethal injection, Brean said.

Atwood's attorneys also told the Supreme Court in court filings that the aggravating factor that made his crime eligible for the death penalty was invalidly applied. He was convicted in 1975 in California for lewd and lascivious conduct with a child under 14 and was convicted of Vicki's killing in 1987. Judges have rejected that legal argument in the past.

Authorities have said Atwood kidnapped Vicki, whose remains were discovered in the desert northwest of Tucson. Experts could not determine the cause of death from the remains, according to court records.

Atwood is the second Arizona inmate to be put to death in less than a month. The execution of Clarence Dixon last month ended Arizona's halt to executions that was blamed on the difficulty of obtaining lethal injection drugs and criticism that a 2014 execution in the state was botched.

Death penalty opponents worry that Arizona will now start executing a steady stream of inmates who have languished on death row, but state officials didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on their future execution plans. No other executions have been scheduled so far in Arizona, which has 111 inmates on death row.

Arizona also has a gas chamber and inmates are allowed to choose between that and lethal injection, but Atwood declined, leaving him to die by lethal injection, the state's default execution method.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Woman murders boyfriend after using digital tracker to discover affair

An alleged homicide in Indianapolis is raising tough questions about digital trackers that are marketed for convenience but sometimes used for stalking.  

Gaylyn Morris, who was arrested and accused of murder, allegedly told witnesses that she was tracking her boyfriend Andre Smith with an Apple AirTag because she suspected him of cheating on her, as my colleague Lindsey Bever reports.  

Apple markets its AirTag mini trackers as a way to locate easily lost items such as keys and wallets. But privacy advocates have long warned that AirTags and similar products are frequently used to track unsuspecting people.

Morris allegedly used the AirTag to locate Smith at a local pub where he was with another woman and a heated confrontation ensued. According to police, Morris is accused of running over Smith several times with a car, per the Indianapolis Star. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The case highlights how seemingly innocuous tracking technology can potentially be used for nefarious purposes — especially by romantic partners and exes — sometime with tragic results.  

Apple has made significant reforms to reduce the danger of AirTag stalking — but critics say the changes are far from sufficient.  

Here’s a rundown:

AirTags make a periodic chirping noise to alert people to their presence.

The tags also pop up an alert when they’re in proximity to an iPhone or other Apple product for an extended period of time.

That alert previously only popped up after three days of proximity, but Apple announced earlier this year that it is significantly shortening that window. In a test run in March, Post tech columnist Geoffrey A. Fowler received an alert after just 45 minutes.

Similar tracking products offered by Samsung and the company Tile can be discovered in proximity to a phone by scanning with apps offered by the companies.

But those safeguards leave plenty of loopholes that can work to a stalker’s advantage. Geoffrey highlighted several of them.

The AirTag sound can be tough to hear if you’re in a noisy place.

The AirTag alerts also don’t automatically pop up if the person being tracked uses an Android or other non-Apple product.

There’s an Android app people can download to find AirTags in proximity to their phones. But, as with the apps that identify trackers offered by Samsung and Tile, this puts the onus on the victim who may have no reason to suspect he or she is being tracked.

Students at the Technical University of Darmstadt developed a single app that scanned for all the major trackers, Geoffrey notes, something the companies themselves haven’t done that would at least make the process easier for people who fear being tracked.

Asked for comment on the Indianapolis case, Apple referred back to its statement from a series of anti-tracking updates in February. Security and privacy advocates were quick to highlight the Indianapolis case as evidence that more security checks are needed. 

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Saturday, June 11, 2022

TCR: The Awkward Truth About the Death Penalty

Matthew T. Mangino
The Crime Report
June 8, 2022

Do you support or oppose capital punishment? That seems like a straightforward question.

However, once you begin to peel back the layers of legality, reality and morality, the answer is not as straightforward as one would expect.

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk about the death penalty with a group of true crime aficionados at CrimeCon 2022 in Las Vegas, Nev.

Through the smartphone app,, I was able to interact with my audience in real time. The responses were surprising—and they offer a glimpse into the subtleties of the death penalty.

The first matter of business was to establish a baseline for my audience. I asked who supported the death penalty. With nearly 200 responses the audience was evenly split. Forty-one percent supported the death penalty, 41 percent opposed and 18 percent were unsure.

Then the audience was introduced to the story of John David Duty. I wrote about Duty in my book The Executioner’s Toll, 2010, published by McFarland & Company in 2014.

Duty was serving three life sentences in an Oklahoma prison. In 2001, Duty was 49, and had been in prison since 1978. He didn’t want to spend any more time in prison.

Apparently he didn’t have the courage to escape or take his own life.

He decided that he would kill his cellmate, write a letter to the district attorney, and ask to be sentenced to death—and be executed—or he would kill again.

At that point, I asked the audience if they would support the death penalty for Duty.  Fifty-five percent of respondents supported Duty’s execution.

Wait a second: fourteen percent of the audience who said they opposed the death penalty, or who were “unsure,” voted to execute Duty.

The group then heard about Roger Coleman. In 1992, Coleman was executed for raping and killing his 19-year-old sister-in-law. Before he was executed the Washington Post wrote an editorial about his innocence.

Pope John Paul II intervened on his behalf. In fact, Coleman’s photograph adorned the cover of TIME , with the headline “This Man Might Be Innocent. This Man Is Due to Die.”

In 2015, thirteen years after his execution, Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, ordered an  unprecedented post-execution DNA testing of evidence related to Coleman’s case. The analysis confirmed that Coleman did, in fact, rape and murder his sister-in-law.

Sixty-three percent of respondents supported Coleman’s execution. More than one in three people who initially indicated they did not support the death penalty or who were “unsure” voted to execute Coleman.

Knowing about the heinousness of a crime can set aside moral apprehensions about the death penalty 

When a person knows about the victim, knows about the heinousness of the crime or the viciousness of the offender, they tend to set aside their moral apprehensions and support the death penalty.

This phenomenon has played out in high-profile executions as well.

When the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh, was facing execution, Gallup found that 67 percent of Americans supported the death penalty, but 81 percent supported McVeigh’s execution.

In 2006, when former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein faced execution, 67 percent of respondents in a Harris Interactive online poll said they supported the death penalty, but 82 percent supported Hussein’s execution.

My real-time interaction with a group at CrimeCon was not a scientific study. But it offers an insight into the complexities of capital punishment.

Two death penalty trials in Florida within six months—and a little help from my CrimeCon audience—demonstrate the seeming arbitrariness of the death penalty.

Markieth Lloyd was convicted of killing a police officer in Orlando, Fla. Robert Hayes is a serial killer convicted of killing three sex workers in Daytona, Fla.

When I presented the aggravating and mitigating factors of each case, 67 percent of the audience voted to send Lloyd to prison for life. They voted 56-44 to put Hayes to death.

However, in real life the opposite occurred: the Orlando jury sentenced Lloyd to death and the Daytona jury sent Hayes to prison for life.

Today, about 54 percent of Americans support the death penalty. That number has been falling for about the last quarter century.

The number of death sentences and the number of executions have declined dramatically over the last ten years. Yet public opinion with regard to the death penalty is not easy to discern.

For many, support for the death penalty is not a yes-or-no answer.

Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly and George. P.C. and the former district attorney of Lawrence County, PA.  He presented The Machinery of Death: Capital Punishment by the Numbers at Crime Con 2022. He is the author of The Executioner’s Toll, 2010. You can follow him on twitter @MatthewTMangino or contact him at 

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