Friday, September 30, 2022

Oregon governor has granted more clemency than all predecessors combined over last 50 years

Last October, Kate Brown, the governor of Oregon, signed an executive order granting clemency to 73 people who had committed crimes as juveniles, clearing a path for them to apply for parole, reported The Guardian.

The move marked the high point in a remarkable arc: as Brown approaches the end of her second term in January, she has granted commutations or pardons to 1,147 people – more than all of Oregon’s governors from the last 50 years combined.

The story of clemency in Oregon is one of major societal developments colliding: the pressure the Covid-19 pandemic put on the prison system and growing momentum for criminal justice reform.

It’s also a story of a governor’s personal convictions and how she came to embrace clemency as a tool for criminal justice reform and as an act of grace, exercising the belief that compassionate mercy and ensuring public safety are not mutually exclusive.

“If you are confident that you can keep people safe, you’ve given victims the opportunity to have their voices heard and made sure their concerns are addressed, and individuals have gone through an extensive amount of rehabilitation and shown accountability, what is the point of continuing to incarcerate someone, other than retribution?” Brown said in a June interview.

When Brown, a Democrat, became governor in Oregon in 2015, she received the power of executive clemency – an umbrella term referring to the ability of American governors and the president to grant mercy to criminal defendants. Clemency includes pardons, which fully forgive someone who has committed a crime; commutations, which change prison sentences, often resulting in early release; reprieves, which pause punishment; and eliminating court-related fines and fees.

During the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, Brown was one of 18 governors across the US who used clemency to quickly reduce prison populations in the hopes of curbing virus transmission.

She approved the early release of 963 people who had committed nonviolent crimes and met six additional criteria – not enough, according to estimates by the state’s department of corrections, to enable physical distancing, and far less than California, which released about 5,300 people, and New Jersey, which released 40% of its prison population.

But Brown’s clemency acts stand out in other ways. Brown removed one year from the sentences of 41 prisoners who worked as firefighters during the 2020 wildfire season, the most destructive in Oregon history. 

She has pardoned 63 people. Most notably, she has commuted the sentences of 144 people convicted of crimes as serious as murder, yet have demonstrated “extraordinary evidence of rehabilitation”.

Democratic and Republican governors in North Carolina, LouisianaMissouriKansas and Ohio have granted clemency for similar reasons. Yet Brown’s numbers are among the highest in the US, and the impact of her decisions are profound: Oregon’s prison population declined for the first time since the passage of the state’s Measure 11 mandatory minimum sentencing law in 1994.

Measure 11 codified mandatory sentences for 16 violent crimes, required juveniles over the age of 15 charged with those crimes to be tried as adults, and ended earned time. Since its passage, Oregon’s prison population tripled to nearly 15,000 people and three new prisons were built.

Brown also stands out for who she grants clemency to. Forty per cent of Brown’s commutations are Black, in response to Black Oregonians being incarcerated at a rate five times higher than their share of the state’s population. Nearly two dozen other clemency recipients were convicted as juveniles. Many were sentenced to life without parole and other lengthy sentences.

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Thursday, September 29, 2022

Crime and fear take center stage in campaigns across the country

One message in campaign ads from Republican candidates and their allies ahead of the Nov. 8 elections is this:

America is a dangerous place. Democrats made it that way.

The ads — in races for governor, U.S. Senate and U.S. House — aim to trigger fear. They typically contain three elements: News reports of violent events; crime statistics; and blame cast on the Democratic candidate, reports Politifact.

One ad attacking New York’s Democratic governor warned voters their lives could be at stake.

"You’re looking at actual violent crimes caught on camera in Kathy Hochul’s New York, and it’s getting much worse on Kathy Hochul’s watch," the narrator says while video clips show  shootings and beatings. "On November 8th, vote like your life depends on it. It just might." 

These types of ads, said Dan Gardner, author of the book "Risk: The Science And Politics Of Fear," are "very deliberately designed to increase the feeling of a lack of safety. They want you to be afraid because that’s effective. 

"Feeling threatened is a great motivation, we’re wired to respond to feelings of threats," he added, referring to voter turnout. "There’s a reason why this is one of the oldest plays in the political playbook."

Political spending on ads about crime, what data shows

In 448 ads from Sept. 1 through Sept. 15 for Senate, House and gubernatorial races, crime was the third-most mentioned issue, behind abortion and inflation, according to an NBC News analysis.

Spending on ads about crime is high. The New York Times reported on Sept. 26, citing data from AdImpact, a subscription service, that in the previous two weeks, Republican candidates and groups spent more than $21 million on ads about crime — more than on any other policy issue — and Democrats spent nearly $17 million. 

The ads are rooted in real-world changes. Although nationally, violent crime remains below the record rates of the early 1990s, several categories of violent crime have seen significant increases since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. 

"The murder rate is still 30 percent above its 2019 level," though murders in major cities and shootings nationwide have decreased this year, compared with the same period in 2021, the New York Times reported

In 70 large U.S. cities, aggravated assaults and robberies increased in the first half of 2022, compared with the first half of 2021, while homicides and rapes decreased, according to police department surveys by the Major Cities Chiefs Association, an organization of police executives representing the largest cities in the United States and Canada. 

Candace McCoy, a criminology professor at City University of New York, said the COVID-19 pandemic helped spur increases in violent crime as people recovered from isolation, the loss of loved ones and other residual effects.

"People are just in despair and the trauma radiates," she said. "People get angry when they’re traumatized."  

Max Kapustin, a Cornell University economics and public policy professor who is affiliated with the University of Chicago Crime Lab, referenced the 2020 death of George Floyd at the hands of police and said it’s not uncommon to see spikes of violence after incidents of police violence.

"Combined with the strain and disruption caused by COVID, and the fact that acts of violence can kick off retaliatory cycles, it means this increase may be with us for some time," Kapustin said.

Some statistics in ads check out, blame is misplaced

Here’s a closer look at the New York ad plus ads in two hotly contested races for the Senate, which now has a 50-50 party split.

The claims of rising crime are often valid, but the blame is often misplaced.

New York: Hochul has been governor since August 2021, following the resignation of Democrat Andrew Cuomo; she had served as lieutenant governor since 2015.

The ad, released Sept. 14, said violent crime is "getting much worse on Kathy Hochul’s watch." It was from her Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin. 

Zeldin’s campaign did not cite statewide crime figures when contacted by PolitiFact, but pointed to statistics for two cities, including New York. 

Year-to-date data through Sept. 18 from New York City police shows that murder was down 13% from the same period in 2021, but other violent crimes increased year-over-year, including robbery (up 38.1%) and felony assault (17.4%). 

Governors play a role in fighting crime by helping determine funding for local governments, including police departments. But  many factors, including the stress of the pandemic and the pressures of inflation in the past year, contribute to fluctuations in crime, which is typically viewed as a more local issue. 

One ad attacked a Georgia U.S. senator who is even more removed from the crime problem in a single city.

Georgia: A social media ad from 34N22, a super PAC that supports the Republican nominee, Herschel Walker, targeted Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. The PAC’s name comes from Walker’s jersey number as a University of Georgia football player (34) and the year of the election (22). 

The ad claimed: "Atlanta — more likely to be a victim of murder, aggravated assault, burglary, theft and auto theft than Chicago." 

The super PAC cited to PolitiFact a July 27 news story by 11 Alive TV in Atlanta that compared year-to-date crime figures from the Atlanta and Chicago police departments for 2021 and 2022.

The statistics show that on violent crime, the picture was mixed.

Murder and aggravated assault rates, per 100,000 people, were higher in Atlanta than in Chicago. On the other hand, Chicago had higher rates of rape and robbery. 

McCoy, the criminologist, told PolitiFact that crime control is a local matter. 

If candidates for federal office "go around saying that crime is their primary issue, either they don’t know what the federal government does, or they are pandering," she said.

Wisconsin: Wisconsin Truth PAC, a super PAC supporting GOP Sen. Ron Johnson, targeted the Democratic nominee, Mandela Barnes, the state’s lieutenant governor. In an ad posted Sept. 17, the narrator said:

"Violent crime up across Wisconsin. Families nervous about their safety. Yet, Mandela Barnes called for releasing half of Wisconsin’s jailed inmates. That would mean releasing over 10,000 criminals right into our neighborhoods." 

The images in the ad included a clip of a man driving an SUV into a Christmas parade in suburban Milwaukee in November 2021, leaving six people dead and more than 60 injured. 

"From a rational perspective, it doesn’t actually tell you anything about safety because it’s an incredibly unusual, strange crime," Gardner said about the clip. "But from a psychological perspective, it’s extremely powerful."

Some violent crimes have increased in Wisconsin. 

Since Barnes was sworn in along with Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in January 2019, homicides jumped from 187 in 2019 to 321 in 2021, according to the Wisconsin Bureau of Justice Information and Analysis. Aggravated assaults increased, while the number of rapes stayed about the same and robberies dropped. 

But the ad misleads about Barnes. He has supported reducing the state’s prison population by half, over several years, but not by releasing half of the inmates. 

Instead, he has advocated for prison education programs to reduce recidivism and for sending drug offenders to rehabilitation rather than prison.

Democrats’ ads about crime, meanwhile, typically have defended their records.

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who is facing Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania’s Senate race, pushed back against ads painting him as soft on crime with an ad Sept. 26 featuring a uniformed sheriff praising Fetterman. 

In Florida’s Senate race, Rep. Val Demings used ads in June and August to highlight her efforts to curtail crime when she served as Orlando’s police chief. She is running against GOP Sen. Marco Rubio.

Will the ads be effective?

Experts’ views differ on whether ads highlighting violent crime are effective in motivating voters.

Two national polls conducted in September indicate that the public believes the GOP does a better job handling crime than Democrats. 

"Republicans have long been perceived as being tougher on crime," said Karlyn Bowman, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute think tank whose specialties include public opinion and elections. 

The ads highlighting crime aim "to motivate voters to see the candidate themselves in a certain way," said University of Nebraska sociologist Lisa Kort-Butler, who studies the media and crime. "Tough-on-crime messaging historically and tacitly represents something more than crime: that the candidate is on the side of ‘us’ and against ‘them.’"

Julia Azari, a political science professor at Marquette University in Milwaukee, said that in the past, "law and order" messages were used as a wedge to highlight racial tensions and drive some Democratic-leaning voters away from the Democratic Party. 

"However, today, the parties are highly sorted on race and partisanship dominates vote choice," she said. "So it seems unlikely that these ads will function as effective wedges to split the Democratic coalition, though they could still prove powerful in other ways, such as mobilizing Republican voters or tipping swing voters in close races."

To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Judge stops enforcement of Delaware law outlawing homemade 'ghost guns'

A federal judge has issued an injunction barring Delaware from enforcing provisions of a new law outlawing the manufacture and possession of homemade “ghost guns,” which can’t be traced by law enforcement officials because they don’t have serial numbers, reports The Associated Press.

Friday’s ruling came in a lawsuit filed by gun rights advocates after Democratic Gov. John Carney signed a law last October criminalizing the possession, manufacture and distribution of such weapons as well as unfinished firearm components.

Judge Maryellen Noreika denied a motion by Democratic state Attorney General Kathleen Jennings, the sole defendant, to dismiss the lawsuit. She instead granted a preliminary injunction in favor of the plaintiffs to prohibit enforcement of certain provisions pending resolution of the lawsuit.

The judge wrote that without an injunction, the plaintiffs would “face irreparable harm ... because they are threatened by criminal penalties should they engage in conduct protected by the Second Amendment.”

While declining to issue a permanent injunction, Noreika said that the plaintiffs are likely to succeed in their arguments that a ban on possessing homemade guns violates the Second Amendment, and that the prohibition on manufacturing untraceable firearms is also likely unconstitutional.

Noreika said Jennings had offered no evidence to support her assertion that the prohibitions don’t burden protected conduct because untraceable firearms are “not in common use and typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes.”

Jennings similarly failed to substantiate her argument that the prohibitions on possession and manufacturing are “consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

At the same time, however, Noreika said restrictions on the distribution of unfinished firearm frames or components do not unduly burden a person’s Second Amendment rights. She noted that such components are still available if they include serial numbers and manufacturer information and are obtained from federally licensed gun dealers.

The judge also held that a provision restricting the distribution of instructions for using a three-dimensional printer to produce a firearm or component is not an unjustifiable regulation of speech under the First Amendment.

To read more CLICK HERER

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Mangino discusses Pike County Massacre on Law and Crime Network

Watch my interview on Law and Crime Network with Linda Kenny Baden discussing the Pike County massacre. 


To watch the interview CLICK HERE

The Legal Intelligencer: 5th Circuit: Handcuffed Man Who Wasn't 'in Custody' Not Entitled to Miranda Rights

Matthew T. Mangino 
The Legal Intelligencer
September 22, 2022

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently ruled that a suspect handcuffed and standing outside of a police car for 15 minutes, on a “dark street,” in the middle of the night is not entitled to be informed of his constitutional right to an attorney and his right to not answer questions. More compelling is the fact that five of 12 circuit courts agree with this interpretation of a fundamental constitutional protection.

In 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), that police officers are required to inform a suspect that he has the right to remain silent and the right to legal counsel when being subject to a custodial interrogation.

The landmark Supreme Court decision has become a part of American culture. Miranda’s conversion from legal holding to cultural icon is due mainly to the nation’s insatiable appetite for true-crime drama. Everyone with a television or streaming service has heard of Miranda warnings.

What did Miranda do to earn his place in American consciousness? In 1963, Ernesto Miranda was arrested for robbery. While in the midst of a custodial interrogation by police he confessed to raping an 18-year-old woman. At trial, prosecutors offered his confession into evidence. Miranda was convicted of rape and sentenced to prison. He appealed and his case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Miranda and excluded his confession. Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote the court’s opinion finding a confession would be barred under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments unless a suspect had been made aware of his rights and the suspect had waived them. Warren made it clear, “If the individual indicates in any manner, at any time prior to or during questioning, that he wishes to remain silent, the interrogation must cease … If the individual states that he wants an attorney, the interrogation must cease until an attorney is present.”

Courts have whittled away at those rights for years. In United States v. Coulter, 2022 BL 248481, 5th Cir., No. 20-1099, 7/18/22 the Fifth Circuit’s recent decision, a police officer pulled over Braylon Coulter in the middle of the night. The officer suspected that Coulter, who had a conviction for aggravated robbery, might be armed. The officer removed Coulter from the van he was driving and handcuffed him.

Once cuffed the officer asked Coulter where he was keeping his gun. The officer’s partner found a .40 caliber pistol and small amount of marijuana in a backpack in the van.

Before Coulter was cuffed and questioned, the officer did not provide Miranda warnings. The admissibility of Coulter’s unwarned statements would turn on whether he was “in custody” at the time of his questioning.

Although handcuffed, the Fifth Circuit held that a “reasonable person” in Coulter’s position would not have thought that he was in custody for Miranda purposes.

The court appears to suggest that custody can only be substantiated when a suspect is in the “station house.” As a result, the statements made by Coulter, without being warned of his right to silence or to an attorney, were admissible.

In a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices reminded us that “Miranda rules are prophylactic rules that the court found to be necessary to protect the Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination.” See Vega v. Tekoh, 597 U.S. __, 2022 WL 2251304 (June 23, 2022).

The decision in Tekoh, went so far as to suggest that suppression issues should not necessarily have bright-line rules, but should be analyzed on a case-by-case basis using a cost-benefit analysis.

Tekoh’s civil rights complaint alleged that police questioned him about a reported sexual assault at his workplace, a medical facility. Tekoh was not informed of his rights under Miranda. Tekoh eventually provided a written statement apologizing for inappropriately touching the patient’s genitals.

Tekoh was prosecuted for unlawful sexual penetration. His written statement was admitted against him at trial. After the jury returned a verdict of not guilty, Tekoh sued the police for a violation of his civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Section 1983.

The Ninth Circuit held that the use of an un-Mirandized statement against a defendant in a criminal proceeding violates the Fifth Amendment and may support a Section 1983 claim against the officer who obtained the statement. The U.S. Supreme Court disagreed. A violation of the Miranda rules does not provide a basis for a Section 1983 claim.

When the Supreme Court creates a prophylactic rule to protect a constitutional right, the relevant “reasoning” is the weighing of the rule’s benefits against its costs.

Examples of the high court weighing costs and benefits when making a suppression decision are evident in two rulings of the court.

In Montejo v. Louisiana, 556 U.S. 778, 793 (2009), Jesse Montejo was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. At his trial, the prosecution submitted a letter of apology he wrote to the victim’s wife. Montejo wrote the letter at the suggestion of a detective who accompanied him in a search for the murder weapon. Before the search he was Mirandized, but neither he nor the police were aware that a lawyer had been appointed to represent him.

The Louisiana Supreme Court held that the letter of apology Montejo wrote was admissible because he had to do something beyond “mute acquiescence” to trigger the protections of the Sixth Amendment.

The U.S. Supreme Court overruled prior decisions that held that evidence obtained through interrogation after the defendant has invoked his right to counsel was inadmissible. The court ruled that the prior decisions of the court were unworkable in jurisdictions that appoint counsel regardless of a defendant’s request. Instead, the court stated that the protections afforded under Miranda were sufficient to protect a defendant’s Sixth Amendment rights from police badgering.

In Maryland v. Shatzer, 559 U.S. 98, 106 (2010) Blain Shatzer was incarcerated for the sexual assault of a child when he as interviewed by police for the sexual abuse of his own 3-year-old child.

He invoked the Fifth Amendment requesting an attorney be present during his interview. The investigation was subsequently closed. It was reopened several years later. Shatzer was interviewed a second time, and advised of his Miranda rights. He waived his rights, and confessed to sexually abusing his child.

Shatzer moved to suppress the confessions he made during his second interview arguing that his prior invocation of the Fifth Amendment was still applicable.

The Supreme Court found that a break in Miranda custody that enabled the suspect to be re-acclimated to normal life did not mandate suppression. In Shatzer’s case a number of years passed between interviews. However, the court set a bright-line standard of 14 days. If 14 days passes between a first and second interview the police are able treat a subsequent interview as though it were a first interview.

In Coulter, the recent decision from the Fifth Circuit, Judge Edith H. Jones ruled that Coulter’s statements while handcuffed were admissible, even though he had not received Miranda warnings before he told the officer where the gun could be found.

In an unusual concurrence to her own majority opinion, Jones argued that when appeal judges can’t agree on whether a traffic-stop suspect is in custody for Miranda warning purposes, the panel “ought to consider the costs and benefits of suppressing incriminatory statements.” As the high court said in Tekoh a violation of Miranda does not necessarily constitute a violation of the Constitution, and therefore such a violation does not constitute “the deprivation of a right … secured by the Constitution.”

“A judicially crafted” prophylactic rule should apply “only where its benefits outweigh its costs.”

Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George in New Castle. He is the author of “The Executioner’s Toll,” 2010. He was the former district attorney of Lawrence County. Contact him at www.mattmangino.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewTMangino.

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Monday, September 26, 2022

Ohio hasn't carried out an execution in 4 years--in 2010 the state executed 8

We’re investigating the status of Ohio’s death penalty, since it’s been four years since the state’s last execution, according to Cleveland 19 News.

We found Ohio’s “unofficial” death penalty moratorium is continuing.

Execution dates for death row inmates continue to be pushed back and rescheduled again.

19 Investigates found there are no executions set for this year anymore, after the governor made some postponements.

Governor Mike DeWine points to the state’s continued struggle to get the drugs needed for lethal injection from pharmaceutical companies as part of the problem.

It’s an issue many other states are facing.

Quisi Bryan was set to be executed next month.

He shot and killed Cleveland police officer Wayne Leon back in 2000.

Bryan is now set to be executed in four years, in 2026.

19 Investigates found 129 Ohio inmates are on death row, including one woman.

Nine executions are set for next year, eight are scheduled for 2024,

10 executions are set for 2025 and five are on the list for 2026.

That’s 42 total executions scheduled so far.

We learned the first execution in 2023 is set for March.

Charles Lorraine was convicted of stabbing an elderly couple in Warren to death in 1986.

The execution of Melvin Bonnell is also set for next year.

Bonnell was convicted for the 1987 murder of Robert E. Bunner in Ohio City.

The latest execution date was just set this Wednesday for a convicted child killer.

The Ohio Supreme Court announced Danny Lee Hill will be put to death July 2026.

Investigators say Hill raped and murdered a 12-year-old boy in Trumbull County back in 1985.

He’s been on death row since 1986 and continues to appeal his conviction.

We discovered the average time an inmate spends on death row in Ohio has increased to about 20 years.

But only one of every six death penalties issued since 1981 have been carried out.

State officials are well aware of issues with the system, calling it “increasingly time consuming, costly and lethargic” in the 2021 Capital Crimes Annual Report.

The Death Penalty Information Center analyzed more than 400 Ohio death sentences and found the most likely outcome isn’t death.

Instead, the death sentence is often overturned and the defendant is resentenced to life or exonerated.

In 2020, DeWine urged lawmakers to find a different method for state executions.

From 1981 to 2021, 336 people received the death penalty in Ohio.

Here is the full statement we received from Governor DeWine’s Office:

Under current Ohio Law, capital punishment is still an allowable punishment for certain crimes, and lethal injection is the only permissible method of capital punishment. However, Governor DeWine has issued several reprieves to individuals with upcoming execution dates due to ongoing problems involving the willingness of pharmaceutical suppliers to provide drugs to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC), pursuant to DRC protocol for executions, without endangering other Ohioans who rely on the State to provide them with prescription drugs from those same suppliers.

To read more CLICK HERE

 

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Mangino discusses the woes of Donald Trump on WFMJ-TV21

Great to be a guest on Press Pass on WFMJ-TV Weekend Today with Sydney Canty  to discuss the growing legal woes of Donald Trump and his organization.

To watch the interview CLICK HERE

New York's bail reform law a success--not contributing to increase in crime

New York nonprofit The Legal Aid Society (LAS)  reported that data from the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) shows the successes of New York’s 2019 bail reform law, according to Jurist.

Under the 2019 law, judges must release those charged with misdemeanors or most nonviolent felonies on their own recognizance or under “non-monetary conditions.” However, for all violent felonies and some nonviolent felonies, like sex offenses, judges can still set monetary bail. DCJS data shows that 15 percent of people failed to return for trial in 2019; in 2o21, the figure decreased to 9 percent. For those released on their own recognizance, re-arrest rates decreased from 18 percent to 16 percent by 2021.

In a statement, Supervising Attorney of the LAS Decarceration Project Arielle Reid said the “numbers confirm what we’ve known all along: bail reform has decreased jail populations, kept communities intact and furthered public safety. Any claim to the contrary doesn’t square with reality, and is merely baseless fear mongering.” According to Reid, LAS and other organizations will pursue further reforms in the state legislature’s next session.

To read more CLICK HERE

 

Saturday, September 24, 2022

San Diego DA pushes left-wing conspiracy theories involving George Soros

 A district attorney pressing an unusual slate of conspiracy charges against anti-fascist protesters previously had a campaign site accusing philanthropist George Soros of funding anti-fascists to increase crime, reported The Daily Beast.

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan has brought a sweeping new conspiracy case against left-wing protesters who counter-demonstrated at a pro-Trump rally in San Diego on Jan. 9. The result was a beachside brawl, during which rallygoers on the right flashed a knife and a BB gun and protesters on the left fired pepper spray. But rather than result in simple assault charges, Stephan is pressing conspiracy charges—and only against demonstrators on the left.

Stephan has a history of obsessing about the anti-fascist movement. In 2018, while running against progressive challenger GeneviĆ©ve Jones-Wright, Stephan’s campaign paid for a website that accused billionaire philanthropist Soros of supporting Jones-Wright because he “backs anti-law enforcement candidates over experienced prosecutors, trying to tip the balance to the criminals.”

The caption ran directly under a picture of black-clad anti-fascists—one of multiple such pictures that ran alongside photographs of Soros on the site.

The website, which has since been removed, drew backlash. Soros, a Holocaust survivor, is a frequent target of antisemitic conspiracy theories, including those that accuse him of funding “antifa.” (“Claims that George Soros funds antifa or is otherwise involved in fomenting civil unrest related to Black Lives Matter protests are false and touch on longstanding, sometimes antisemitic conspiracy theories,” the Anti-Defamation League notes.)

When the Times of San Diego questioned Stephan about the website and antisemitism in 2018, she walked away from the interview without comment.

In September 2020, Stephan again appeared to suggest that leftist protests were secretly motivated by nefarious interests.

“We’ve seen where there’s the peaceful protest and all of a sudden another group shows up without license plates, with generators and water, and there’s not good things that are happening,” Stephan said in 2020, adding that untoward events were unfolding “behind the scenes.”

“Somebody talked about subverting the truthful nature of the protesters, and that is going on,” Stephan said. “There are movements that are not what you would think of.”

To read more CLICK HERE

 

Friday, September 23, 2022

Alabama halts execution due to lethal injection failure

Alabama officials called off the lethal injection of a man convicted in a 1999 workplace shooting because of time concerns and trouble accessing the inmate’s veins, reported The Associated Press.

Alabama Corrections Commissioner John Hamm said the state halted the scheduled execution of Alan Miller after they determined they could not get the lethal injection underway before a midnight deadline. Prison officials made the decision at about 11:30 p.m. The last-minute reprieve came nearly three hours after a divided U.S. Supreme Court had cleared the way for the execution to begin.

“Due to time constraints resulting from the lateness of the court proceedings, the execution was called off once it was determined the condemned inmate’s veins could not be accessed in accordance with our protocol before the expiration of the death warrant,” Hamm said.

Hamm said "accessing the veins was taking a little bit longer than we anticipated." He did not know how long the team tried to establish a connection, but noted there are a number of procedures to be done before the team begins trying to connect the IV line.

Miller was returned to his regular cell at a south Alabama prison.

The aborted execution came after the state's July execution of Joe Nathan James took more than three hours to get underway after the state had difficulties establishing an intravenous line, leading to accusations that the execution was botched.

Miller, 57, was sentenced to death after being convicted of a 1999 workplace rampage in which he killed Terry Jarvis, Lee Holdbrooks and Scott Yancy.

“Despite the circumstances that led to the cancellation of this execution, nothing will change the fact that a jury heard the evidence of this case and made a decision," Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement. She added that three families are still grieving.

“We all know full well that Michael Holdbrooks, Terry Lee Jarvis and Christopher Scott Yancey did not choose to die by bullets to the chest. Tonight, my prayers are with the victims’ families and loved ones as they are forced to continue reliving the pain of their loss,” Ivey said.

An anti-death penalty group said the situation with Miller's attempted lethal injection sounded similar to other “botched” executions.

"It is hard to see how they can persist with this broken method of execution that keeps going catastrophically wrong, again and again. In its desperation to execute, Alabama is experimenting on prisoners behind closed doors — surely the definition of cruel and unusual punishment,” Maya Foa, director of Reprieve US Forensic Justice Initiative, a human rights group opposed to the death penalty, said in a statement.

 

Prosecutors said Miller, a delivery truck driver, killed co-workers Holdbrooks and Yancy at a business in suburban Birmingham and then drove off to shoot former supervisor Jarvis at a business where Miller had previously worked. Each man was shot multiple times and Miller was captured after a highway chase.

Trial testimony indicated Miller believed the men were spreading rumors about him, including that he was gay. A psychiatrist hired by the defense found Miller suffered from severe mental illness and delusions but also said Miller’s condition wasn’t bad enough to use as a basis for an insanity defense under state law.

Justices in a 5-4 decision lifted an injunction — issued by a federal judge and left in place by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — that had blocked Miller's execution from going forward. Miller’s attorneys said the state lost the paperwork requesting his execution be carried out using nitrogen hypoxia, a method legally available to him but never before used in the U.S.

When Alabama approved nitrogen hypoxia as an execution method in 2018, state law gave inmates a brief window to designate it as their execution method. Miller testified that he turned in paperwork four years ago selecting nitrogen hypoxia as his execution method, putting the documents in a slot in his cell door at the Holman Correctional Facility for a prison worker to collect.

U.S. District Judge R. Austin Huffaker Jr. issued a preliminary injunction on Tuesday blocking the state from killing Miller by any means other than nitrogen hypoxia after finding it was “substantially likely” that Miller “submitted a timely election form even though the State says that it does not have any physical record of a form.”

Nitrogen hypoxia is a proposed execution method in which death would be caused by forcing the inmate to breathe only nitrogen, depriving him or her of the oxygen needed to maintain bodily functions. Nitrogen hypoxia is authorized for executions in three states but none have attempted to put an inmate to death using the method. Alabama officials told the judge they are working to finalize the protocol.

Many states have struggled to buy execution drugs in recent years after U.S. and European pharmaceutical companies began blocking the use of their products in lethal injections. That has led some to seek alternate methods.

To read more CLICK HERE

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Justice Thomas' wife to testify before House Committee investigating Jan. 6 Capitol attack

Virginia Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas and a conservative activist who pushed to overturn the 2020 election, has agreed to sit for an interview with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, reported The New York Times.

The development could represent a breakthrough for the committee, which for months has sought to interview Ms. Thomas, who goes by Ginni, about her communications with a conservative lawyer in close contact with former President Donald J. Trump.

“I can confirm that Ginni Thomas has agreed to participate in a voluntary interview with the committee,” her lawyer, Mark Paoletta, said in a statement. “As she has said from the outset, Mrs. Thomas is eager to answer the committee’s questions to clear up any misconceptions about her work relating to the 2020 election. She looks forward to that opportunity.”

Her cooperation was reported earlier by CNN. A spokesman for the committee declined to comment.

The committee requested an interview with Ms. Thomas in June, after it emerged that she had exchanged text messages with Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, in which she urged on efforts to challenge Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the 2020 election. She also pressed lawmakers in several states to fight the results of the election.

But it was Ms. Thomas’s interactions with John Eastman, a conservative lawyer who pushed Vice President Mike Pence to block or delay the certification of Electoral College votes on Jan. 6, 2021, that has most interested investigators.

“We are specifically investigating the activities of President Trump, John Eastman and others as they relate to the Constitution and certain other laws, including the Electoral Count Act, that set out the required process for the election and inauguration of the president,” the committee’s leaders — Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, and Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming — wrote to Ms. Thomas. “The select committee has obtained evidence that John Eastman worked to develop alternate slates of electors to stop the electoral count on Jan. 6.”

The panel obtained at least one email between Ms. Thomas and Mr. Eastman after a federal judge ordered Mr. Eastman to turn over documents to the panel from the period after the November 2020 election when he was meeting with conservative groups to discuss fighting the election results.

That same judge has said it is “more likely than not” that Mr. Trump and Mr. Eastman committed two felonies as part of the effort, including conspiracy to defraud the American people.

Mr. Paoletta has argued that the communications between Ms. Thomas and Mr. Eastman contain little of value to the panel’s investigation.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2022

States fail to report deaths in jails and prisons as required by law

 The Justice Department's annual tally of deaths in state prisons and jails was short by nearly 1,000 last year, an investigation by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found, reported Reason.

States are required under the Death in Custody Reporting Act (DCRA) to submit data on deaths in prisons and jails to the Justice Department, but in a report released today, the committee says that the Justice Department has failed to effectively implement the law, undermining the accuracy of its data and congressional oversight of deaths in custody.

The committee and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that in the last year alone the department missed 990 prison and jail deaths that were reported on state websites, news articles, and other public databases. 

Those failures have "deprived Congress and the American public of information about who is dying in custody and why," the report says. "This information is critical to improve transparency in prisons and jails, identifying trends in custodial deaths that may warrant corrective action—such as failure to provide adequate medical care, mental health services, or safeguard prisoners from violence—and identifying specific facilities with outlying death rates. DOJ's failure to implement this law and to continue to voluntarily publish this information is a missed opportunity to prevent avoidable deaths."

Despite the Constitution's bans on cruel and unusual punishment and excessive force, incarcerated people in prison systems and jails across the U.S. are regularly subjected to medical neglect, brutality, and unsafe living conditions.

Federal judges in both Arizona and Illinois recently held those state prison systems in contempt for failing to address gruesome medical neglect within their walls. The Justice Department has in recent years found unconstitutional conditions in prisons in Florida and Alabama, and it is investigating similar allegations in Mississippi and Georgia. In New York City, the infamous Rikers Island jail complex is under threat of being put in receivership by a federal judge because of a string of preventable deaths and chronic corruption.

Congress passed the DCRA in 2000 and reauthorized it in 2013. The law requires states to report deaths in prisons and jails. It also authorized the attorney general to cut up to 10 percent of federal law enforcement grant funding to states that fail to comply.

But a series of changes over the past several administrations have degraded what was supposed to be a strong law, the report says. In 2019, the Justice Department moved responsibility for the DCRA from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) to the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). The latter office is responsible for federal grant-making, not tabulating data. The BJA then stopped publicly reporting the mortality data it collected, which the BJS had done annually for 16 years.

Since the switch between offices, the quality and accuracy of the data submitted to the Justice Department has plummeted. The subcommittee's investigation found that 70 percent of the records submitted to the BJA were missing at least one required field.

A WBUR investigation last year found 37 in-custody deaths that local sheriffs never reported to the Justice Department, and an analysis published earlier this year in The Appeal found that most states were not in compliance with the DCRA.

To read more CLICK HERE

 

Monday, September 19, 2022

Mangino appears on Law and Crime Network's podcast Sidebar

Watch my appearance on Law and Crime Network's podcast Sidebar to discuss the transportation of immigrants from Texas and Florida to other location across the country.

To watch CLICK HERE

Friday, September 16, 2022

Mangino a guest on Crime Stories with Nancy Grace

Listen in to my interview with Nancy Grace on Crime Stories with Nancy Grace as we discuss the murder of Las Vegas investigative reporter Jeff German and the arrest of local politician Robert Telles.

To listen CLICK HERE

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Judge calls Cruz defense team "unprofessional" after abruptly resting

 Attorneys for Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz suddenly and surprisingly rested their case on September 14, 2022 after calling only a fraction of their expected witnesses, leading to a shouting match after the judge accused them of a lack of professionalism, reported The Associated Press.

Cruz’s attorneys had told the judge and prosecutors they would be calling 80 witnesses but rested at the beginning the court session after calling only about 25. There were 11 days of defense testimony overall, the last two spotlighting experts about how his birth mother’s heavy use of alcohol during pregnancy might have affected his brain’s development and led to his murder of 17 people at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School four years ago.

The sudden announcement by lead attorney Melisa McNeill led to a heated exchange between her and Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer, who called the decision without warning to her or the prosecution “the most uncalled for, unprofessional way to try a case.”

The 12-member jury and 10 alternates were not present but were lining up outside the courtroom to enter. The sudden announcement also meant prosecutors weren’t ready to start their rebuttal case.

Lead prosecutor Mike Satz threw his hands up when Scherer asked if he could begin and, with a nervous laugh, said “no.”

“We’re waiting for 40 more (defense) witnesses,” Satz said.

Scherer then accused Cruz’s attorneys of being inconsiderate to all involved, but especially the jurors for wasting their trip to court.

“To have 22 people march into court and be waiting as if it is some kind of game. I have never experienced such a level of unprofessionalism in my career,” Scherer said, raising her voice.

McNeill countered angrily, “You are insulting me on the record in front of my client,” before Scherer told her to stop. Scherer then laid into McNeill, with whom she has had a testy relationship since pretrial hearings began more than three years ago.

“You’ve been insulting me the entire trial,” Scherer barked at McNeill. “Arguing with me, storming out, coming late intentionally if you don’t like my rulings. So, quite frankly, this has been long overdue. So please be seated.”

Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty last October to murdering 14 Stoneman Douglas students and three staff members on Feb. 14, 2018. His trial, now ending its second month, is only to determine whether he is sentenced to death or life without parole. For a death sentence, the jury must be unanimous.

To read more CLICK HERE

 

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Mangino joins Nancy Grace on Crime Stories with Nancy Grace

Listen in to my interview with Nancy Grace on Crime Stories with Nancy Grace as we dig deeper into the abduction and murder of  Eliza Fletcher.

To listen CLICK HERE

More than half of the U.S. prison population is serving 10 years or longer

Amy Fettig and Steven Zeidman write in Time Magazine

There’s no question: Our legal system loves long prison sentences. From 2000 to 2019, the number of people serving sentences of 10 years or longer exploded from 587,000 to 773,000, according to a new report from The Sentencing Project. Those 773,000 people account for more than half of the U.S. prison population.

Extreme sentences have become so commonplace in the U.S. that 10 years can seem like a relatively minor punishment, perhaps woefully inadequate for serious offenses. But 10 years is an enormously long period of time – one in which people can experience profound growth, especially in their younger years.

That’s why we believe incarcerated people should have the opportunity to have their sentence re-evaluated after 10 years. In fact, the American Bar Association just passed a resolution recommending precisely that.

Make no mistake. This does not mean opening the prison doors for everyone after a decade. It just means giving incarcerated people the chance to show how they’ve changed and why they deserve a second look. An external body (a judge, for example) would then determine whether to reduce the sentence.

From a scientific perspective, this model makes a lot of sense. Everyone may know that young people are more likely to commit crimes than older people. But it’s important to know why. It’s largely because the prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain responsible for reasoning, problem-solving, and impulse control – does not fully develop until the mid-20s. So young people often exhibit immaturity, irresponsibility, recklessness, and susceptibility to negative influences and outside pressure – which the Supreme Court has recognized in cases involving extreme sentencing of youth. In 2010 in Graham v. Florida, for example, the Court wrote that because young people “have lessened culpability they are less deserving of the most serious forms of punishment.”

Think about it this way: Many people in their 30s would never dream of repeating the choices they made a decade earlier.

An overwhelming amount of research confirms that people age out of crime. It’s also clear that people released after decades of imprisonment rarely commit new crimes upon release, even those who had been convicted of the most serious crimes.

Revisiting sentences is not just about showing mercy; the entire community stands to benefit from the abundance of talent wasted behind bars. Many incarcerated people take classes, learn new skills, and earn degrees while in prison. Returning citizens often serve as credible messengers to guide at-risk youth, work as violence interrupters, and help promote public safety. They’re hard-working, tax-paying community members.

They also heal communities. Many incarcerated people have been separated from their children and aging parents for years or decades. Second looks can return fathers and mothers to support their sons and daughters, and sons and daughters to act as caregivers to aging parents.

Consider just one example of an incarcerated person who we know is truly deserving of a second chance. RC was 17 years old when an older man assaulted his friend during a dice game in New York. RC reacted by getting a gun and firing a shot that killed the man. At sentencing, the judge referred to RC as an irredeemable menace and in sentencing him to 25 years to life stated that RC should never again walk free. Ten years later, RC became a prison hospice worker, mobility aide, and sign language interpreter, revered by prisoners and staff alike. He languishes in prison with no mechanism for anyone to see the man he has become, one of many people we have met who would be an upstanding citizen outside prison bars.

Fortunately, momentum is growing to make that possible. In 2019, Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. Karen Bass introduced the Second Look Act to permit people who have served 10 years in federal prison to petition a court for resentencing. In the meantime, federal court judges are utilizing the First Step Act of 2018 – which made changes to compassionate release that enabled an unprecedented number of people serving long sentences to be re-sentenced during the pandemic. Washington, DC, allows those who committed crimes as emerging adults—under age 25—to petition for resentencing after 15 years of imprisonment. And states such as Oregon, Illinois, and California allow individuals serving lengthy sentences to demonstrate that they’ve earned an opportunity for another review.

We’ve changed an enormous amount as a society over the past decade. And yet, our legal system assumes that people can’t do the same. That needs to change. Let’s build on the momentum and ensure all incarcerated people get a second look after 10 years.

To read more CLICK HERE