Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Missouri executes man who killed police officer in 2005

The 17th Execution of 2022

Kevin Johnson – who murdered a Kirkwood, Missouri, police officer in 2005 but claimed racial bias in his prosecution – was executed on November 29, 2020 by lethal injection, reported CNN.

Johnson, 37, was pronounced dead at 7:40 p.m. CT. He didn’t give a final statement, according to Missouri Department of Corrections spokesperson Karen Pojmann.

The execution went ahead after the US Supreme Court denied his request for a stay of execution. Justices Ketanji Brown Jackson and Sonia Sotomayor dissented, according to the court’s website.

On Monday, the Missouri Supreme Court had denied Johnson’s request for a stay after hearing arguments that racial discrimination played a role in his prosecution.

Mary McEntee, the widow of Kirkwood Police Sgt. William McEntee, said her husband was killed on his hands and knees in front of people he dedicated his life to serve.

“When he left for work that day, we could not imagine that he would be executed by someone he gave his life to protect,” she said at a media briefing Tuesday evening. “Bill didn’t get to fight for his life. He didn’t have the chance to be heard before a jury, to decide whether he would live or die.”

She also thanked the prosecutors who put in the “hard work and endless hours … for justice for Bill.”

The execution was not witnessed by Johnson’s 19-year-old daughter, who had failed this month to get a federal court to prevent the state from executing her father unless she was permitted to be a witness. Missouri law bars people younger than 21 from witnessing the proceeding.

On Monday, the Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments in two requests for a stay: one by Johnson, who was Black, and the other by a special prosecutor appointed at the request of the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, which secured Johnson’s conviction on a first-degree murder charge and death sentence for the murder of McEntee.

Both requests sought a stay so claims of racial prejudice could be heard by the St. Louis County Circuit Court, which previously denied a motion by the special prosecutor to vacate Johnson’s conviction, saying there was not enough time before Johnson’s scheduled execution to hold a hearing.

“There simply is nothing here that Johnson has not raised (and that this Court has not rejected) before and, even if there were, Johnson offers no basis for raising any new or re-packaged versions of these oft-rejected claims at this late date,” the Monday ruling said.

 “Mr. Johnson has received every protection afforded by the Missouri and United States Constitutions, and Mr. Johnson’s conviction and sentence remain for his horrendous and callous crime,” Parson said in a statement. “The State of Missouri will carry out Mr. Johnson’s sentence according to the Court’s order and deliver justice.”

A defense attorney for Johnson decried Monday’s state Supreme Court ruling as a “complete disregard for the law in this case.”

“The Prosecutor in this case had requested that the Court stop the execution based on the compelling evidence he uncovered this past month establishing that Mr. Johnson was sentenced to death because he is Black,” lawyer Shawn Nolan said in a statement. “The Missouri Supreme Court unconscionably refused to simply pause Mr. Johnson’s execution date so that the Prosecutor could present this evidence to the lower court, who refused to consider it in the first instance given the press of time.”

Meantime, attorneys for Johnson argued in court records that racial discrimination played a role in his prosecution, pointing in their motion for a stay to “long-standing and pervasive racial bias” in St. Louis County prosecutors’ “handling of this case and other death-eligible prosecutions, including the office’s decisions of which offense to charge, which penalty to seek, and which jurors to strike.”

Per their request, the prosecuting attorney sought the death penalty against four of five defendants tried for the killing of a police officer while in office – all of them Black, while the fifth was White. In the case with a White defendant, Johnson’s request says, the prosecutor invited defense attorneys to submit mitigation evidence that might persuade the office not to seek death – an opportunity not afforded the Black defendants.

Additionally, they pointed to a study by a University of North Carolina political scientist of 408 death-eligible homicide prosecutions during this prosecutor’s tenure that found the office largely sought the death penalty when the victims were White.

Those claims appear supported by a special prosecutor, who was appointed to the case last month after the St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney’s Office cited a conflict of interest. The special prosecutor, Edward E.E. Keenan, similarly “determined that racist prosecution techniques infected Mr. Johnson’s conviction and death sentence,” he wrote in his own request for a stay.

The special prosecutor found “clear and convincing evidence of racial bias by the trial prosecutor,” he wrote in the request, citing similar evidence to that listed by Johnson’s attorneys in their request for a stay.

The Missouri Attorney General’s Office argued against a stay, saying the claims were without merit. The special prosecutor’s “unproven claims,” the AG’s office said in a brief, do not amount to a concession of wrongdoing by the state, which stands by the conviction.

“The McEntee family has waited long enough for justice,” the brief said, “and every day longer that they must wait is a day they are denied the chance to finally make peace with their loss.”

Bob McCulloch, the longtime St. Louis prosecuting attorney who was voted out of office in 2018 after 27 years, has denied he treated Black and White defendants differently.

“Show me a similar case where the victim was Black and I didn’t ask for death,” he was quoted as saying by St. Louis Public Radio earlier this month about his time in office. “And then we have something to talk about. But that case just doesn’t exist.”

Johnson was sentenced to die for the July 5, 2005, murder of McEntee, 43, who was called to Johnson’s neighborhood in response to a report of fireworks.

Earlier that day, Johnson’s 12-year-old brother had died after having a seizure at their family’s home, according to court records. Police were there at the time of the seizure, seeking to serve a warrant against Johnson, then 19, for a probation violation.

Johnson blamed the police, including McEntee, for his brother’s death. And when McEntee returned to the neighborhood later that day, Johnson approached the sergeant’s patrol car, accused him of killing his brother and opened fire.

He left behind a wife, a daughter and two sons, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.

To read more CLICK HERE

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

What is the answer to growing gun violence?

In the more than two years since gun violence suddenly began to rise in cities all across the country, researchers have been asked repeatedly to explain what caused the rapid increase and what can be done to reverse it. The urgency behind the question is warranted: Gun homicides rose by 34 percent from 2019 to 2020, and then rose again in 2021. In Chicago alone, over 250 more people were murdered in 2020 than in 2019, and that heightened level of violence continued into 2021. Murders are down slightly this year in Chicago and many other cities, but young lives continue to be lost to gun violence at a much higher rate than just a few years ago, writes Patrick Sharkey in The Atlantic.


Monday, November 28, 2022

Mangino appears on The Daily at Law and Crime Network

Watch my interview with Brian Buckmire and Terri Austin on The Daily at the Law and Crime Network discussing the death of Quinton Simon.

To watch the interview CLICK HERE

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Mangino a guest on Crime Stories with Nancy Grace

Listen as I discuss with Nancy Grace the mysterious disappearance of 24-year-old Jennifer Kesse. 

 To listen to the interview CLICK HERE

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Protesters dressed in 'Call of Duty outfits' with big guns 'not advancing the cause of gun rights'

Across the country, openly carrying a gun in public is no longer just an exercise in self-defense — increasingly it is a soapbox for elevating one’s voice and, just as often, quieting someone else’s, writes Mike McIntire in The New York Times.

This month, armed protesters appeared outside an elections center in Phoenix, hurling baseless accusations that the election for governor had been stolen from the Republican, Kari Lake. In October, Proud Boys with guns joined a rally in Nashville where conservative lawmakers spoke against transgender medical treatments for minors.

In June, armed demonstrations around the United States amounted to nearly one a day. A group led by a former Republican state legislator protested a gay pride event in a public park in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Men with guns interrupted a Juneteenth festival in Franklin, Tenn., handing out fliers claiming that white people were being replaced. Among the others were rallies in support of gun rights in Delaware and abortion rights in Georgia.

Whether at the local library, in a park or on Main Street, most of these incidents happen where Republicans have fought to expand the ability to bear arms in public, a movement bolstered by a recent Supreme Court ruling on the right to carry firearms outside the home. The loosening of limits has occurred as violent political rhetoric rises and the police in some places fear bloodshed among an armed populace on a hair trigger.

But the effects of more guns in public spaces have not been evenly felt. A partisan divide — with Democrats largely eschewing firearms and Republicans embracing them — has warped civic discourse. Deploying the Second Amendment in service of the First has become a way to buttress a policy argument, a sort of silent, if intimidating, bullhorn.

“It’s disappointing we’ve gotten to that state in our country,” said Kevin Thompson, executive director of the Museum of Science & History in Memphis, Tenn., where armed protesters led to the cancellation of an L.G.B.T.Q. event in September. “What I saw was a group of folks who did not want to engage in any sort of dialogue and just wanted to impose their belief.”

More than 700 armed demonstrations found that, at about 77 percent of them, people openly carrying guns represented right-wing views, such as opposition to L.G.B.T.Q. rights and abortion access, hostility to racial justice rallies and support for former President Donald J. Trump’s lie of winning the 2020 election.

The records, from January 2020 to last week, were compiled by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, a nonprofit that tracks political violence around the world. The Times also interviewed witnesses to other, smaller-scale incidents not captured by the data, including encounters with armed people at indoor public meetings.

Anti-government militias and right-wing culture warriors like the Proud Boys attended a majority of the protests, the data showed. Violence broke out at more than 100 events and often involved fisticuffs with opposing groups, including left-wing activists such as antifa.

Republican politicians are generally more tolerant of openly armed supporters than are Democrats, who are more likely to be on the opposing side of people with guns, the records suggest. In July, for example, men wearing sidearms confronted Beto O’Rourke, then the Democratic candidate for Texas governor, at a campaign stop in Whitesboro and warned that he was “not welcome in this town.”

Republican officials or candidates appeared at 32 protests where they were on the same side as those with guns. Democratic politicians were identified at only two protests taking the same view as those armed.

Sometimes, the Republican officials carried weapons: Robert Sutherland, a Washington state representative, wore a pistol on his hip while protesting Covid-19 restrictions in Olympia in 2020. “Governor,” he said, speaking to a crowd, “you send men with guns after us for going fishing. We’ll see what a revolution looks like.”

After Dan Crenshaw, a Republican congressman from Texas and former Navy SEAL, lamented in 2020 that “guys dressing up in their Call of Duty outfits, marching through the streets,” were not advancing the cause of gun rights, he was knocked by the Firearms Policy Coalition for “being critical of people exercising their right to protest.” The coalition has fought state laws that it says force gun owners to choose between the rights to free speech and self-defense.

Regardless of whether there is a right to go armed in public for self-defense, early laws and court decisions made clear that the Constitution did not empower people, such as modern-day militia members, to gather with guns as a form of protest, said Michael C. Dorf, a constitutional law professor at Cornell University who has written about the tension between the rights to free speech and guns.

Mr. Dorf pointed to an 18th-century Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that a group of protesters with firearms had no right to rally in public against a government tax. Some states also adopted an old English law prohibiting “going armed to the terror of the people,” still on the books in some places, aimed at preventing the use of weapons to threaten or intimidate.

“Historically,” said Mr. Dorf, “there were such limits on armed gatherings, even assuming that there’s some right to be armed as individuals.”

More broadly, there is no evidence that the framers of the Constitution intended for Americans to take up arms during civic debate among themselves — or to intimidate those with differing opinions. That is what happened at the Memphis museum in September, when people with guns showed up to protest a scheduled dance party that capped a summer-long series on the history of the L.G.B.T.Q. community in the South.

While the party was billed as “family friendly,” conservatives on local talk radio claimed that children would be at risk (the museum said the planned activities were acceptable for all ages). As armed men wearing masks milled about outside, the panicked staff canceled all programs and evacuated the premises.

Mr. Thompson, the director, said he and his board were now grappling with the laws on carrying firearms, which were loosened last year by state legislators.

“It’s a different time,” he said, “and it’s something we have to learn to navigate.”

To read more CLICK HERE

Friday, November 25, 2022

Law enforcement in Colorado Springs under scrutiny for failing to enforce 'Red Flag" Law

Last week a gunman killed five people an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado. For some lawmakers, the early facts raised questions about whether local police and sheriff’s deputies could have used the state’s “red flag” law to prevent the attack, reported Colorado Public Radio.

Last year, the suspect in the Club Q shooting was involved in an earlier incident in which he allegedly made bomb threats and confronted law-enforcement officers. It appears that authorities did not attempt to file a “red flag” petition after the incident, which could have barred him from possessing or buying guns.

Now, that decision is coming under scrutiny.

“I’m hearing reports that perhaps the red flag law wasn’t enforced on this young man,” said state Sen. Rhonda Fields, a Democrat. 

The state’s red flag law, passed in 2019, allows local authorities to request permission to temporarily confiscate firearms from people they believe may be a danger to themselves or others. 

A “red flag” order, also known as an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO), could have allowed authorities to seize any guns the Club Q suspect had, and it would have barred him from purchasing other weapons. A search of public records found no indication that the sheriff’s office or other authorities filed such a petition. The charges in the case were dropped and the case was sealed.

But local law enforcement are not required to file red flag petitions. And leaders in conservative areas like El Paso County — where the nightclub shooting and the 2021 incident happened — have criticized the idea that the government should seize weapons from people who haven’t been convicted of a crime.

For example, in 2019, local district attorney Michael Allen derided the red flag law as “unconstitutional,” tweeting that it was “[n]othing more than a way to justify seizing people’s firearms under the color of law.”

After the law was implemented, he tweeted: “This law is a poor excuse to take people’s guns and is not designed in any way to address real concrete mental health concerns.”

In the 2021 incident, the Club Q suspect was arrested after allegedly threatening his mother with a “homemade bomb, multiple weapons and ammunition,” the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office reported at the time

He was also wearing body armor and had live-streamed himself in a standoff with law enforcement. It’s unclear whether he was armed at the time. 

Rep. Meg Froelich, a Democrat, said the legislature should examine how local authorities are using — or failing to use — the red flag law.

“Is it being applied and enforced? That’s something we want to look at,” Froelich said. She added that she wants to know whether a red flag order could have been applied in the case of the gunman who last year killed five people in a rampage that struck several tattoo shops in Denver and Lakewood.

Colorado is one of 19 states, plus Washington, D.C., that have red flag laws. The concept first became law in Connecticut more than 20 years ago, but the laws have become more widespread since the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

The red flag orders in Colorado must be initiated by law enforcement or family members of the person in question. Judges review the evidence and decide whether to authorize law enforcement to seize a person’s firearms. A temporary order lasts two weeks and it can be extended into a year-long order, which can then be renewed.

But the use of the law in Colorado has remained relatively low, and authorities in El Paso County have used the orders even less often.

In 2019, county commissioners declared El Paso a “Second Amendment preservation county” and pledged that county leaders would not “appropriate funds, resources, employees or agencies to initiate unconstitutional seizures in unincorporated El Paso County,” as The Gazette reported.

(The 2021 incident took place in unincorporated El Paso County, according to property records.)

Similarly, in a 2020 statement, the El Paso County Sheriff's said that deputies would only request removal orders and search for guns in “exigent circumstances” and when they could find “probable cause” of a crime. That’s a stricter standard than what’s required by the law, which is focused on the possibility of violence — and not whether someone has committed a crime.

The policy was meant to “ensure that the rights of people to be free from unreasonable search and seizures, and to receive due process of law,” according to the sheriff’s office statement.

Sheriff Bill Elder has not commented on whether that policy stopped his deputies from pursuing a removal order after arresting the Club Q suspect in 2021 for making bomb threats. The sheriff’s office declined to comment for this story, saying the state’s law about criminal justice records prevented them from talking about the earlier case.

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said that people shouldn’t assume that the earlier case qualified for a red flag petition.

“I would caution against an assumption that the circumstance of this case would lead to application of the red flag law. We don't know that,” he said at a press conference Monday. “Hopefully there'll be a time when there can be a specific discussion about any prior interaction with law enforcement … But I think it's premature to do so now.”

Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez said he supports use of the red flag law when appropriate. “If law enforcement has credible information that fits within the parameters of the red flag law, then we should take action on that,” he said at the press conference.

To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Oregon sheriffs vow not to enforce new gun restriction laws

A growing list of Oregon sheriffs are telling their constituents they won’t enforce voter-approved gun restrictions despite not yet knowing how some aspects of the law will work and not having a clear role in enforcing others, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.

In a Nov. 9 Facebook post, Linn County Sheriff Michelle Duncan said Measure 114, which 50.7% of voters approved the day before, is a terrible law for gun owners, crime victims and public safety. The measure would require a permit to buy a firearm and ban magazines holding more than 10 rounds.

“I want to send a clear message to Linn County residents that the Linn County Sheriff’s Office is NOT going to be enforcing magazine capacity limits,” Duncan wrote in the post, which as of Friday had been shared 12,000 times and garnered 9,300 comments.

Duncan was soon joined by Jefferson County Sheriff Jason Pollock, Wallowa County Sheriff Joel Fish and Union County Sheriff Cody Bowen who also said they would not enforce the new laws.

Pollock said he believes “the provisions in Measure 114 run contrary to previously decided judicial decisions.” Bowen said the law would also be a drain on resources and called it “another attempt at defunding the police at its finest.”

“To the people who chime in with me picking and choosing which laws I want to enforce or not enforce! Hear this!” Bowen exclaimed in his Facebook post. “When it comes to our constitutional rights I’ll fight to the death to defend them. No matter what crazy law comes out of Salem!”

Sheriffs point to short staffs

Measure 114 was passed by voters, not state lawmakers in Salem. Sheriffs are not lawyers and do not interpret the constitution — that is the role of judges.

Bowen and Pollock, as well as the Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association, did not respond to interview requests.

Duncan said her agency constantly has to manage scarce resources. She said that because a federal court might find magazine bans unconstitutional as early as this spring, she is choosing not to prioritize enforcement.

“I have a hard time saying that we’re going to use resources to go arrest people for something that has a high probability of being found unconstitutional very shortly,” Duncan said in an interview with OPB. “This is where I’m choosing to hold back my resources until that ruling is confirmed or denied.”

Duncan said if the Supreme Court rules the law is constitutional, she may have to rethink her position.

Several other sheriffs said they thought the law was poorly written and expressed hope it would be blocked by the courts, but stopped short of saying they would not enforce the provisions.

Marion County Sheriff Joe Kast said he anticipated the new law would add significant strain on limited resources and he would not focus investigations on magazine capacity issues.

To read more CLICK HERE


Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Alabama governor stops executions after two failed lethal injections

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has ordered a halt to executions in the state after two failed attempts at lethal injections, calling for a “top-to-bottom” review of the process, reported AL.Com.

The announcement came in the form of a press release sent Monday morning. According to the press release, the governor asked Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall to withdraw the state’s two pending motions in the Alabama Supreme Court to set executions for Alan Eugene Miller and James Edward Barber.

“Working in conjunction with Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner John Hamm, Governor Ivey is asking that the Department of Corrections undertake a top-to-bottom review of the state’s execution process, and how to ensure the state can successfully deliver justice going forward,” the press release stated.

Ivey also asked the Alabama AG’s office to not seek additional execution dates for any other Alabama Death Row inmates until the review is complete. No timeline was provided.

A spokesperson for the Alabama AG’s office said Marshall will ”have more to say on this at a later date.”

Miller was set to be executed on Sept. 22, but survived after prison workers couldn’t find a vein to start the intravenous line needed for the three-drug lethal injection cocktail before the death warrant expired at midnight. Kenneth Eugene Smith, who was set to die Nov. 17, experienced a similar situation and also survived after officials couldn’t start an IV.

A federal judge has ordered the ADOC must preserve evidence from both failed execution attempts.

“For the sake of the victims and their families, we’ve got to get this right. I don’t buy for a second the narrative being pushed by activists that these issues are the fault of the folks at Corrections or anyone in law enforcement, for that matter. I believe that legal tactics and criminals hijacking the system are at play here,” Ivey said in the statement.

“I will commit all necessary support and resources to the Department to ensure those guilty of perpetrating the most heinous crimes in our society receive their just punishment. I simply cannot, in good conscience, bring another victim’s family to Holman looking for justice and closure, until I am confident that we can carry out the legal sentence.”

Hamm also made a statement, which was sent alongside the governor’s.

“I agree with Governor Ivey that we have to get this right for the victims’ sake. Everything is on the table – from our legal strategy in dealing with last minute appeals, to how we train and prepare, to the order and timing of events on execution day, to the personnel and equipment involved. The Alabama Department of Corrections is fully committed to this effort and confident that we can get this done right.”

To read more CLICK HERE

Monday, November 21, 2022

Special counsel Jack Smith comes with a wealth of experience

Jack Smith, the Justice Department’s newly appointed special counsel, will come to the task of investigating former President Donald J. Trump with a wealth of experience: He has been prosecuting criminal cases for nearly three decades, reported The New York Times.

Mr. Smith got his start in the 1990s as a prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office and soon moved to a similar job at the United States Attorney’s office in Brooklyn. There, he served in a number of supervisory positions, according to his Justice Department biography, and worked on an assortment of cases, many involving public corruption.

From 2008 to 2010, Mr. Smith worked as the investigation coordinator in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. In that role, he oversaw high-profile inquiries of foreign government officials and militia members wanted for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

Returning to the United States, Mr. Smith served from 2010 to 2015 as chief of the Justice Department’s public integrity section, which investigates politicians and other public figures on corruption allegations.

A graduate of Harvard Law School, Mr. Smith has also worked in top positions at the United States Attorney’s office for the Middle District of Tennessee in Nashville.

Mr. Smith will take on the role of special counsel after leaving his current position as a specialist prosecutor based in The Hague investigating war crimes. He will remain in the Netherlands for some time, according to the Justice Department, in order to recover from a recent bicycle accident.

 To read more CLICK HERE

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Candidate Trump offers glimpse into his drug fighting proposals

Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president last week.  His widely covered speech did raise some interesting criminal justice proposals, particularly with regard to drug crime.

Trump said China's President Xi Jinping had explained to him that in China, “if you get caught dealing drugs, you have an immediate and quick trial. And by the end of the day, you’re executed.” According to Bulwark, Trump said this is why drug dealers sell their poison in America instead of China: “Why should they sell there and risk their lives every time they sell, when they can come to the United States, and nobody even cares?”

The solution, Trump concluded, was to match China’s speed and severity. “That’s the only answer,” he said. “That’s the only way you’re going to solve the problem. And I hope politicians are listening. Because they should do it quickly.”

 “We’re going to be asking everyone who sells drugs, gets caught selling drugs, to receive the death penalty for their heinous acts,” said Trump. He didn’t specify drug kingpins or sellers who cause deaths. He said execution would apply to everyone who sells drugs, despite the U.S. Constitution and the precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court. This would heighten the "war on drugs" to "war crimes on drugs."

To read more CLICK HERE

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Police training trends toward the warrior not the community guardian

Despite this intense focus on the present and future of policing, one key component has remained woefully inadequate, according to a report from a prominent policing think tank: how new officers are trained, reports The Washington Post.

Training for recruits “presents an immediate crisis for policing,” according to the report from the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a copy of which was provided to The Washington Post before its scheduled release Monday.

The report describes a system that, even after years of push and pull over change, is “built to train officers quickly and cheaply.” That system then hurries the new officers onto streets across the United States without helping them develop vital skills, including crisis intervention and communication, that they will need on the job, according to the report.

Police nationwide have faced criticism over how officers use force, with unrest and protests following cases in Cleveland, New York, Baton Rouge, Louisville, Atlanta and Ferguson, Mo., among other places. The new analysis of training is based in part on a survey of hundreds of law enforcement leaders conducted in 2020, during a period that encompassed the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic; the death of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of police in Minneapolis; and the ensuing wave of nationwide protests against police brutality amid a broader racial reckoning.

Policing has changed over the years, seizing on new technologies and adopting approaches including “community policing,” the report said, while officers are facing difficult challenges, among them increasingly powerful guns on the streets and people in crisis. But far too often, the report said, police are trained “to be warriors, even though their agencies and communities expect them also to be guardians, social workers, and community partners.”

Changing American policing, the report said, means starting with how new officers are instructed and embracing new approaches instead of holding on to outdated concepts.

“Do I think it’s changed in some places? Yes,” Chuck Wexler, the executive director of PERF, said of police training. “But do I think there’s been fundamental changes since the George Floyd murder? No.”

In a Washington Post-ABC News poll last year, more than half of respondents said they doubted police were adequately trained to avoid using excessive force. The new PERF report and some law enforcement experts say that training has improved in some ways, including an increase in how much time police are instructed, but that overall practices have not changed dramatically, owing to a combination of factors including a reliance on past practices and inertia.

Much like policing itself — which is scattered among more than 15,000 local departments and sheriff’s offices, most of them small agencies — training varies from place to place, with different requirements and obligations.

State commissions typically set their own standards for training, the report said, creating “vast differences” between the academies in different states, including how many hours they teach and the material presented. There are an estimated 700 or 800 police training academies nationwide, according to the PERF report, so “recruit training is splintered and inconsistent.” The report said nearly half of the academies are operated by colleges or technical schools, while a third are operated by local law enforcement agencies themselves.

In Dallas, the police academy lasts nine months and offers courses in interview techniques, asset forfeiture and foot pursuits; after the academy, the new officers spend six months in field training. Miami police undergo a six-month police academy program, while in Oklahoma City, the 28-week police academy includes instruction on constitutional law, self-defense and de-escalation, before recruits spend four to six months dispatched to field training.

In Atlanta, potential recruits are warned that the police academy could pose “the most challenging academic, emotional, physical and psychological undertaking you have ever experienced.”

The PERF report said police academies often devote a lot of time to preparing officers for dangerous encounters, including with armed people. While that is “critically important,” the report said, it is also vital for officers to learn skills such as how to communicate and engage with the community, things they will need “day-in and day-out for the routine encounters that will occupy the vast majority of their time.”

The report included other recommendations such as calling for a set of national standards and for departments to devote more money to training, which accounted for a fraction of the police budgets among agencies that responded to PERF’s survey. The report also calls for recruits to be taught more about the history of policing nationwide and locally “with a special emphasis on racial justice issues,” saying recruits need to learn how this history can “shape perceptions of the police today.”

Police instruction has changed over time, including the increase in hours spent in training, the report said. But that volume of training still falls short when compared with people in other jobs in the United States or police in other countries, the report said.

Police in the United States typically spend about 20 weeks in the academy, the report said, while recruits in Japan might spend up to 21 months training. Their peers in many European countries spend two to three years training.

“Look, it’s expensive to train someone for a year,” Wexler said. “But it’s far more expensive to not train them properly and see a situation handled badly. It can absolutely devastate a department and a city.”

Just ramping up the amount of training, Wexler said, is not the solution, even though that is often floated by officials amid controversies like uses of force.

“When police have faced a crisis, the conventional recommendation is inevitably more training,” Wexler said. “The reality is that more training may not necessarily be the answer to what the issue is.”

The report said there has not been enough research into what training actually works, calling on policing to invest in more to figure out “what works and what doesn’t in police recruit training.”

Ian Adams, a professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of South Carolina, said he believes the training offered today is better than it used to be, but he said it is important to understand what types of training work best.

“I know it’s tempting to say, well, if we just put officers through 10 more hours of X training, then we should get Y results,” said Adams, a former police officer.

But, he said, “the evidence doesn’t say that. Because we haven’t put the necessary resources into understanding what training would actually accomplish the outcomes we want.”

The PERF report said training academies should avoid taking a “paramilitary approach,” potentially merge with others to create consistency in what new officers are taught, and welcome input from members of the community, among other suggested changes.

The report also touches on why, despite all the pleas to rethink policing, training remains behind the times in many places. “At many academies,” the report said, instruction “is based largely on what has been taught in the past.” New laws, department policies and other practices in law enforcement, the report said, are not always added promptly to the instruction.

In many cases, the report continued, academies “seem to rely almost exclusively on current or retired law enforcement officers to develop their training curricula,” even though these people lack backgrounds in designing course instruction.

David J. Thomas, a retired Florida police officer, said he feels like “there’s still not enough” instruction for new officers. Police get trained in things like how to use firearms and defensive tactics, Thomas said, but the instruction falls short when it comes to things like how to treat members of the community or respond to people in crisis.

“I don’t think the curriculum’s changed enough to meet the needs of the people that we’re serving,” said Thomas, a professor at Florida Gulf Coast University.

To read more CLICK HERE

Friday, November 18, 2022

An Oklahoma execution moves forward, a second in Alabama fails

The 16th Execution of 2022

Oklahoma executed Richard Stephen Fairchild on November 17, 2022 for the torture slaying of his girlfriend’s 3-year-old son in 1993, the third of four scheduled executions in the U.S. over a two-day stretch, reported The Associated Press.

With Richard Stephen Fairchild’s execution, the state has now put to death seven people since it resumed carrying out executions in October 2021. In that time, Oklahoma has carried out more executions than neighboring Texas, which since 1976 has executed far more people than any other state.

More than half of the 40 people currently on Oklahoma’s death row have execution dates set over the next two years after the state Court of Criminal Appeals issued a moratorium in 2015 following a botched execution and two drug mix-ups in the death chamber.

Fairchild’s execution was the 16th in the U.S. this year — including one in Texas and one in Arizona on Wednesday — up from last year’s three-decade low of 11. An execution scheduled for later Thursday in Alabama was eventually called off after officials who were up against a midnight deadline couldn’t find a suitable vein to inject the lethal drugs.

After Thursday, three more executions are scheduled in the U.S. for the remainder of 2022 — one each in MissouriOklahoma and Idaho, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Fairchild, who turned 63 on Thursday, began receiving the first of a lethal three-drug combination at 10:10 a.m. at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. He was declared dead at 10:24 a.m.

Fairchild, an ex-Marine, was convicted of killing Adam Broomhall after the child wet the bed. Prosecutors say Fairchild held both sides of Adam’s body against a scorching furnace, then threw him into a table. The child never regained consciousness and died later that day.

Strapped to a gurney inside the death chamber, Fairchild thanked his attorneys and prison staff and apologized to Adam’s family.

“Today’s a day for Adam, justice for Adam,” Fairchild said.

“I’m at peace with God. Don’t grieve for me because I’m going home to meet my heavenly father.”

Michael Hurst, the slain child’s uncle, said the boy would have been 34.

“Our long journey for justice has finally arrived,” Hurst said, adding that he was surprised to hear Fairchild express remorse for killing his nephew. “He hadn’t said that in 30 years.”

A second execution scheduled for November 17, 2022 in Alabama failed. Alabama’s execution of a man convicted in the 1988 murder-for-hire slaying of a preacher’s wife was called off Thursday just before the midnight deadline because state officials couldn’t find a suitable vein to inject the lethal drugs.

Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner John Hamm said prison staff tried for about an hour to get the two required intravenous lines connected to Kenneth Eugene Smith, 57. Hamm said they established one line but were unsuccessful with a second line after trying several locations on Smith’s body. Officials then tried a central line, which involves a catheter placed into a large vein.

“We were not able to have time to complete that, so we called off the execution,” Hamm said.

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Thursday, November 17, 2022

Mangino explains the importance of DNA evidence on Law and Crime Network

Watch as I discuss with Michelle Yu on Law and Crime Network the importance of DNA evidence in a homicide prosecution.


Arizona and Texas carry out the 14th and 15th executions of 2022

 The 14th and 15th Executions of 2022

Murray Hooper was executed by lethal injection at 10:34 a.m. November 16, 2022. He was the third man to be executed in Arizona and the 14th nationwide this year, reported the Arizona Republic.

Hooper, 76, was convicted in Maricopa County Superior Court in 1982 for his role in the 1980 New Year's Eve murders of William Patrick Redmond, 46, and his 70-year-old mother-in-law Helen Genevieve Phelps.

Hooper always insisted he was framed, but he lost his appeals and the state clemency board refused to halt or delay his execution and rejected his request for time to collect DNA evidence.

Texas’ execution of Stephen Barbee also on November 16, 2022 was the 15th execution this year and was prolonged while prison officials searched for a vein in the disabled man’s body, according to the Texas Tribune.

Barbee, convicted in the 2005 murders of his pregnant ex-girlfriend and her child, had severe joint deterioration which prohibited him from straightening his arms or laying them flat, according to court records. His attorney had recently tried to halt his execution because he feared the process with Barbee’s disability would result in “torture.”

But courts rejected the appeals, noting that prison officials had vowed to make special adjustments to the death chamber’s gurney to accommodate Barbee.

Still, it took much more time to carry out the execution than is typical in Texas. Reporters walked into the prison around 6 p.m., signaling the execution was about to begin. But for an hour and 40 minutes, no one came back out, causing anti-death-penalty protesters outside to grow worried that something had gone wrong. It is uncommon for executions to last more than an hour.

“Due to his inability to extend his arms, it took longer to ensure he had functional IV lines,” prison spokesperson Amanda Hernandez said in an email Wednesday night.

Barbee was pronounced dead at 7:35 p.m., nearly an hour and a half after he was strapped into the death chamber’s gurney, according to the prison’s execution record.

Within minutes of being strapped on the gurney, an IV was inserted into his right hand, at 6:14 p.m., but it took another 35 minutes for an additional line to begin flowing in the left side of his neck. All the while, his friends watched through a glass pane adjacent to the chamber, according to a prison witness list. So did the friends of the murder victims — Lisa Underwood and her 7-year-old son Jayden — as well as Underwood’s mother.

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Mangino appears on Court TV to discuss Chad Absher trial

Watch my interview on Court TV discussing the guilty verdict in the Chad Absher trial.  Jury was out only one hour and twenty minutes.


Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Capital-Star: Republicans tried to put crime on the ballot in 2022. Voters didn’t go for it | Opinion

Matthew T. Mangino
Pennsylvania Capital-Star
November 16, 2022

Crime was going to seal the deal for Republicans in Pennsylvania during the 2022 midterm election.  Just like 1994, when then U.S. Tom Ridge clobbered Lt. Gov, Mark Singel with Reginald McFadden the recipient of clemency who committed a murder after his release,

In Pennsylvania’s closely watched U.S. Senate race, Republican nominee Mehmet Oz went after Lt. Gov. John Fetterman for his role on the Board of Pardons. The difference is—Singel’s campaign succumbed to the attacks and Democrat Fetterman’s triumphed.

Why? Despite the claims from Republicans, violent crime in 2022 is nowhere near the problem it was in the 1990s. 

Crime as an issue is not new to American politics.  Former President George H.W. Bush interjected Willie Horton into the 1988 presidential election, blatantly stoking fears of crime and race; and in 1992 former Prsident Bill Clinton, departed the campaign trail to oversee an execution in his home state of Arkansas— being tough on crime has been a staple of American politics.  

Crime as a hot button issue began in 1964 with Barry Goldwater. The GOP nominee for president introduced the concept of crime as a divisive, fear mongering issue and America has never been the same.

When Republican Richard Nixon was making his second bid for president in 1968 the Civil Rights Act had passed, riots had erupted in cities across the country after the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr., and murder rates had increased 50 percent since 1950. 

Race relations were tenuous, at best, and Nixon knew it.  Crime control became a surrogate for race control. And every man and woman in America is still paying for it, in more ways than one.

During the 1980s, drug laws became more and more onerous. President Ronald Reagan introduced draconian mandatory minimum sentences and even harsher drug penalties. 

George H.W. Bush and Clinton made their crime-fighting bona fides known through campaigning and governing — Clinton’s 1994 crime bill is still reverberating through the criminal justice system. 

As violent crime plummeted in the first decade-and-a-half of the 21st century, crime lost its allure on the campaign trail . . . until it roared back during 2022 midterms. 

However, the fear of crime was not the pathway to success the GOP thought. According to The Associated Press exit poll just 8 percent of voters cited crime as an issue that motivated their vote. 

Republicans did not do well in most states were they made crime a big issue. Like in Pennsylvania, other states including Michigan and Minnesota overcame the crime issue. 

In Michigan where the GOP attacked Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for being “soft on criminals” the Democrats swept the statewide offices of governor, secretary of state, and attorney general and took both houses of the state legislature. 

In Minnesota, Democratic Attorney General Keith Ellison won reelection despite being a targeted by state Republicans. In Minneapolis, still haunted by the tragedy of George Floyd, a progressive district attorney won big. The Democratic governor also won and Democrats took both houses of the state legislature.

No one disputes that violent crime has increased since 2020.  The increase should not be ignored, but it should be put into perspective.  For instance, according to the Brennan Center, a nonpartisan law and policy organization, between 1991 and 2014, the national murder rate fell by more than 50 percent, from 9.8 to 4.4 killings per 100,000 people. 

Although, some urban areas have realized a recent increase in violent crime—again perspective is important. In 1990, New York City had 2,245 murders.  In 2021, there were 485—an increase from the previous year but far from the carnage of the 1980s and 1990s.

New York governor, Democrat Kathy Hocul, overcame a challenge by Lee Zeldin in spite of the constant cry of “out of control crime” from Fox News and the New York Post. 

Crime, or the fear of it, will continue to be used as a politically divisive issue. In Pennsylvania, GOP legislators are seeking to impeach Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner — recently re-elected — due to increasing crime rates in the city. 

Never mind that the legislators don’t live in Philadelphia or anywhere near it — it’s good political theater. 

Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly and George. P.C. and the former district attorney of Lawrence County, Pa.   He is the author of The Executioner’s Toll. You can follow him on twitter @MatthewTMangino or contact him at His work appears frequently on the Capital-Star’s Commentary Page.   

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Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Thomas berates 6th Circuit for giving death row inmate room to challenge juror bias

Justice Clarence Thomas berated the Sixth Circuit in a dissenting opinion for giving a death row inmate room to challenge his conviction based on a biased juror, reported Courthouse News. 

Joined by Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch in his rebuke, Thomas claims the Sixth Circuit has flouted high court precedent by continually granting relief to death row prisoners in violation of the law. 

Thomas’ dissent came in a dispute over jurors who convicted Jeronique Cunningham of murdering three people — including a 3-year-old girl — during a drug deal gone wrong. Intending to rob a man who had sold him crack cocaine previously, Cunningham and his half-brother entered the apartment of Shane Liles.

Liles was not alone, however, so they ordered the group consisting of the man' girlfriend and other family and friends to hand over their valuables. When Liles said he had nothing left to give the men, they began shooting into the group, hitting all eight victims. A teenager and 3-year-old were killed in the shooting, and others were left with severe wounds including one lost eye. 

A jury convicted Cunningham of aggravated murder, attempted murder and aggravated robbery, and sentenced him to death. His convictions were affirmed by the Ohio Supreme Court. 

Cunningham later challenged his conviction, however, based on the perceived bias of the jury foreperson in his trial. An investigator working with his half-brother’s trial team interviewed several jurors and found that the foreperson in Cunningham’s jury thought he was an evil person and knew of his history with social workers who were afraid of him. Cunningham claims the juror had worked at Allen County Children Services and was able to obtain prejudicial information about him from her colleagues. 

Both the trial court and the Ohio Court of Appeals dismissed Cunningham’s claims. In 2006, however, the district court allowed Cunningham to investigate his claims under a habeas petition. After a long investigation including the deposition of multiple jurors, the district court ultimately dismissed Cunningham’s claims in 2019. 

Two years later, the Sixth Circuit would revive the case in a divided opinion. Ohio in turn petitioned the high court, but the majority of justices declined Monday to hear the case. Its rejection was one of dozens in the morning order list

Thomas wrote in dissent that the Sixth Circuit made clear errors in its judgment, and Cunningham’s juror bias claims should not have been entertained. By refusing to correct those errors, Thomas said the high court “permits the nullification of its jurisprudence."

“Although the procedural history of this case is complicated, the Sixth Circuit’s errors were not,” the Bush appointee wrote. “The panel majority’s reasons for ordering an evidentiary hearing on either of Cunningham’s juror-bias claims are indefensible.” 

The Sixth Circuit's error, according to Thomas, comes from a violation of the standard for relief set out by the federal law that governs relief for death penalty prisoners, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.

“We should not shirk our responsibility to correct classic AEDPA abuses, especially when a lower court brazenly commits errors for which we have repeatedly reversed it,” Thomas wrote. 

While Thomas chastised the high court for forming a new tolerance for repeat offenders, his ire is mostly directed at the Sixth Circuit. 

“While I disagree with the Court’s newfound tolerance for recidivism, primary responsibility for the Sixth Circuit’s errors rests with the Sixth Circuit,” Thomas wrote. “That court’s record of ‘plain and repetitive’ AEDPA error is an insult to Congress and a disservice to the people of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.” 

Thomas said the regularity in which the court receives petitions from the Sixth Circuit on this issue shows that the judges on that circuit like to disregard the law. 

“The Sixth Circuit must do better, with or without this Court’s help,” Thomas wrote. “Unfortunately, the Sixth Circuit’s habeas jurisprudence suggests that certain circuit judges’ ‘taste for disregarding AEDPA’ has found its natural complement in other judges’ distaste for correcting errors en banc, no matter how blatant, repetitive, or corrosive of circuit law.” 

Cunningham was represented in his opposition brief by Michael Benza and Karl Schwartz.

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