Friday, December 30, 2022

Federal prosecutions declined by 35% from 2020 to 2021

According to a Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) report, federal arrests declined by 35 percent from fiscal year 2020 to 2021, ending at the lowest number of arrests in two decades, reported The Crime Report. 

The pandemic sparked an immediate drop-off, causing federal arrests to fall by 81 percent and cases charged in federal court to plunge 77 percent from March to April 2020.

But the decline continued later in the year, with a 25 percent slide in arrests and a 20 percent dip in cases charged from October 2020 to February 2021.

However, while federal arrests dipped over the period, the number of people charged with a federal offense in U.S. district court decreased less than 1 percent. 

Nonviolent offenses had the most significant percentage reduction while the number of people charged with violent crimes increased.

Almost 60 percent (48,257) of federal arrests in 2021 were for immigration, drug or supervision violations. 

Immigration offenses dropped the most, from 51,723 to 14,446 arrests, or a 72 percent decline. The number of people charged with immigration violations also dropped by 18 percent in 2021. 

However, during the same time period, the number of persons charged with violent offenses rose by 18 percent, and the number of people charged with public order offenses increased by 13 percent.

Still, the number of people under federal correction control declined.  

For the decade from fiscal year-end 2011 to 2021, the number of persons under federal correctional control fell 15 percent, from 410,887 to 350,543.

In addition, 47,226 persons were released from federal prison in 2021.

The full report prepared by BJS Statistician Mark Motivans can be found here.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Paper examines trends in criminal justice reform

The United States continues to lead the world in incarceration.  More than five million people were under some form of correctional control in 2020 (the last year available) with nearly two million in prison or jail. Nationwide, an estimated 70-100 million persons have a criminal record, including at least 19 million persons living with a felony conviction.

Formerly incarcerated activists, lawmakers, and advocates achieved important changes in criminal justice policy in 2022 to challenge extreme sentencing, expand voting rights and advance youth justice. A briefing paper written by Nicole D. Porter for the The Sentencing Project highlights top trends in criminal justice reform in 2022.

To read the paper CLICK HERE

Monday, December 26, 2022

Mangino a guest on Law and Crime Network

Watch my appearance with Bob Bianchi on Law and Crime Network discussing the leading trials of the day. 


Sunday, December 25, 2022

Mangino joins Nancy Grace on Crime Stories with Nancy Grace

 Listen as I join Nancy Grace on Crime Stories with Nancy Grace to discuss the case of Senaida Soto.

Tommy Garay has been in a relationship with Soto for about a month when Soto calls Garay, and a woman picks up the phone. The woman is Garay’s cousin, but Soto believes Garay is cheating.

Soto goes to Garay’s home in the middle of the night, breaks in and steals several items, then sets the house on fire. Soto then FaceTimes Garay to show him burning furniture in the home and says, “I hope your stuff is going to be okay,” before hanging up.

To listen CLICK HERE

Yes Virginia there is 'true" crime (literature) on Christmas

"There is at Christmas time a great deal of hypocrisy, honourable hypocrisy, hypocrisy undertaken pour le bon motif, c'est entendu, but nevertheless hypocrisy!"

Hercule Poirot, Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie

It is Christmas Eve. The Lee family reunion is shattered by a deafening crash of furniture, followed by a high-pitched wailing scream. Upstairs, the tyrannical Simeon Lee lies dead in a pool of blood, his throat slashed. But when Hercule Poirot, who is staying in the village with a friend for Christmas, offers to assist, he finds an atmosphere not of mourning but of mutual suspicion. It seems everyone had their own reason to hate the old man.

The opening epigraph is taken from Macbeth “Yet who would have thought the old man had so much blood in him?” and sets the scene for the story to come: tyrannical patriarch Simeon Lee is murdered on Christmas Eve and suspicion falls on his dysfunctional family. A classic Christie with a country manor, family resentment, and secrets behind locked doors.

The novel was first published in 1938, and didn't appear in the US until 1939, under the revised title Murder for Christmas (the title used for the magazine version in 1938), which was changed again to A Holiday for Murder in 1947.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Gun violence kills more children in America than disease and car accidents

On this Christmas Eve pause for a moment between the eggnog and gift wrapping to consider that gun violence recently surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of death for American children, according to The New York Times.

For much of the nation’s history, disease was the No. 1 killer of children. Then America became the land of the automobile, and by the 1960s, motor-vehicle crashes were the most common way for children to die. Twenty years ago, well after the advent of the seatbelt, an American child was still three times as likely to die in a car accident as to be killed by a firearm. We’re now living in the era of the gun. 

The gun-death rate for children is nearly five in every 100,000. It was flat for more than a decade starting in 2000, and most years fewer than three in every 100,000 children were killed by guns. In 2014, the rate began to creep up, and by 2020 guns became the leading killer.

Last year was a particularly violent one: 3,597 children died by gunfire, according to provisional statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The death rate from guns was the highest it has been in more than 20 years. While the statistics for this year are incomplete, it is clear that the carnage has not receded.

In May, the nation watched as horror unfolded in Uvalde, Texas. Yet another school ripped apart by bullets — yet another group of children to mourn. Yet another shooting in a long line of school shootings. And though the number of school shootings has recently risen to the highest level on record, the overall picture is so much worse; these shootings account for less than 1 percent of the total gun deaths suffered by American children.

No group of American children has been spared, but some have fared far worse. Last year, nearly two-thirds of gun deaths involving children — 2,279 — were homicides. Since 2018, they have increased by more than 73 percent. Most homicides involved Black children, who make up a small share of all children but shoulder the burden of gun violence more than any others, a disparity that is growing sharply.

The number of children who die by suicide with a gun has also risen to a historical high over the last decade. Last year, suicides made up nearly 30 percent of child gun deaths — 1,078.

Unlike homicides, suicides disproportionately involve white children, mostly teenage boys. A decade ago, the number of white children who killed themselves with a gun totaled around 500 annually; in three of the last five years, that figure has surpassed 700.

Gun accidents that kill children have also ticked up in the last decade, though they are relatively uncommon, totaling fewer than 150 in most years.

God bless you and let's resolve to save our children this New Year.

To read more CLICK HERE

Thursday, December 22, 2022

With NRA funding J.R.O.T.C. brings gun marksmanship to schools

At a time when many districts are going to great lengths to keep guns out of schools, J.R.O.T.C. has become one of the few programs on campuses that promote weapons training, reported The New York Times.

The N.R.A. has donated more than $5 million in money and equipment since 2015 to support competitive shooting programs at schools, as one of several outside organizations that have provided funding to J.R.O.T.C. programs, according to tax records and other documents. Some of the districts that have received N.R.A. funding, such as the one in Lee County, Fla., include schools that automatically enroll students in J.R.O.T.C. classes in some grades, or otherwise push students to take them, though participation on the marksmanship teams is most often voluntary.

The organization has supported J.R.O.T.C. programs by hosting shooting competitions, highlighting teams in its trade magazine and providing special badges to J.R.O.T.C. shooting competitors.

The programs, which utilize air rifles rather than live-fire weapons, are prevalent in many communities where marksmanship and hunting are popular sporting activities, and parents have credited the instruction with teaching young people to handle guns safely. But schools largely prohibit guns on campus, and the marksmanship teams have at times alarmed teachers and students concerned about school shootings and a rise in gun violence. Some districts have dismantled their J.R.O.T.C. marksmanship programs or had heated debates about how to incorporate them into school life.

In a statement, a spokesman for the N.R.A. said that the group was proud to fund the shooting teams and that the J.R.O.T.C. instructors’ promotion of the N.R.A. was their choice, not a requirement for funding.

“The N.R.A. Foundation proudly supports firearms education and training for a variety of deserving organizations,” said the spokesman, Andrew Arulanandam. “Grant recipients sometimes voluntarily promote our efforts to bring awareness to the importance of firearms training, gun safety and shooting sports. We are proud of these activities and the way they positively impact students, schools and communities across the country.”

In their bids to obtain N.R.A. grants to fund marksmanship training and competition on campus, J.R.O.T.C. instructors have said the funding will expand the number of teenagers trained in the safe use of firearms and advance the Second Amendment, according to school district documents obtained by The New York Times in response to more than 100 records requests. Some instructors have promised to encourage cadets to join the N.R.A. and have volunteered students to participate in N.R.A. fund-raising events.

To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Reason: Absolute Immunity Puts Prosecutors Above the Law

Prosecutors enjoy absolute immunity for actions they take in the course of their prosecutorial duties. That means victims of prosecutorial malfeasance cannot seek damages even for blatant constitutional violations. When district attorneys falsify evidence, knowingly introduce perjured testimony, coerce witnesses, or hide exculpatory information from the defense, their victims generally have no legal recourse. And although such misconduct theoretically can trigger professional disciplinary action, including disbarment, that rarely happens.

Billy Binion does a thorough examination of absolute immunity for Reason magazine. 

To read the full article CLICK HERE

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Read the full January 6 Committee Report Summary

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol released a 154-page summary of its findings Monday, Courtesy of NBC News. The report is the culmination of nearly 18 months of work.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Mangino discussed trial of the border patrol serial killer on COURT TV

Watch my interview with  Judge Ashley Willcott discussing the trial of Juan David Ortiz  on Court TV.

To watch a clip CLICK HERE

To watch a clip CLICK HERE

Data indicates that gun murders are declining

Jeff Asher writes at Jeff-alytics blog:

Murder in the United States rose at the fastest pace ever recorded in 2020 and it rose again in 2021, but murder is likely falling nationally 2022. Publicly available shooting data from two dozen cities suggests the decline in murder is being driven by gun violence dropping in many cities with a handful of places seeing sharp declines.

Murder increased by nearly 30 percent nationally in 2020, the largest one-year increase in recorded US history both in terms of the number of murders and the rate of murders per 100,000 residents, and the FBI estimated1 a smaller increase occurred in 2021.

Year-to-date data from over 90 cities this year, however, suggests murder is falling in 2022 with those cities down about 5 percent this year relative to the same timeframe last year. The big city decline in murder representing a likely national trend is supported by data from the Gun Violence Archive showing a smaller (2.5 percent) decline in firearm homicides this year relative to last year.

Below are the number of US murders and murder rate per 100k from 1960 through 2022 with 2022’s figures estimated from the big city data. Gun violence is still far more common now than it was just a few years ago, but the decline in 2022 encourages optimism for the first time in several years.

To read more CLICK HERE

Friday, December 16, 2022

The Death Penalty Information Center releases year end report

The Death Penalty Information Center has issued it annual report, The Death Penalty in 2022: Year End Report. Fewer death sentences have been imposed in the United States in the past five years than in any preceding five-year span since capital punishment resumed in this country in 1972. Illustrating the durability of capital punishment’s decline, 2022 was the eighth consecutive year in which fewer than 50 new death sentences were imposed in the United States and fewer than 30 executions were carried out, far off the 1990s’ peaks of 315 death sentences and 98 executions.

The death penalty continued to be geographically isolated with only five states — Alabama, Arizona, Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas — carrying out executions (or six states, if Mississippi executes Mr. Loden on Wednesday). Oklahoma (5) and Texas (5), the two most prolific states in carrying out executions over the past fifty years, performed more executions than any other states, together accounting for more than half of the year’s executions. Despite the efforts of these outlier states, most scheduled executions did not go forward: just 35% of the 51 death warrants issued for 2022 were actually carried out.

Execution failures were numerous and dramatic. On July 28, 2022, executioners in Alabama took three hours to set an IV line before putting Joe Nathan James to death, the longest botched lethal injection execution in U.S. history. The state then called off the next two executions in progress when corrections personnel were unable after repeated attempts to establish execution IV lines. Executions were put on hold in Alabama, Tennessee, Ohio, and South Carolina when the states were unable to follow execution protocols. Idaho scheduled an execution without having the drugs on hand to carry it out. The execution did not go forward. Oklahoma set an execution date for a prisoner who was incarcerated in federal prison out of state, without making arrangements for his custody to be transferred. That execution also did not occur.

Twelve states imposed new death sentences this year. California imposed four and Alabama and Florida each imposed three. Only one county — San Bernardino County, California — imposed more than one death sentence.

To read the Report CLICK HERE

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Mississippi executed man for 2001 rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl

The 18th Execution of 2022 

A man who raped and killed a 16-year-old girl in Mississippi was put to death by lethal injection on Wednesday, becoming the second inmate executed in the state in 10 years, reported The Associated Press.

Thomas Edwin Loden Jr., 58, was pronounced dead at 6:12 p.m. by Sunflower County Coroner Heather Burton. He’d been on death row since 2001, when he pleaded guilty to capital murder, rape and four counts of sexual battery against Leesa Marie Gray. She was stranded with a flat tire in June 2000 when Loden forced her into his van.

Gray’s mother, Wanda Farris, attended the execution at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, about 130 miles (210 kilometers) north of the capital, Jackson. Mississippi’s most recent execution was in November 2021.

Earlier this month, a federal judge declined to block Loden’s execution amid a pending lawsuit by him and four other Mississippi death row inmates over the state’s use of three drugs for lethal injections, a protocol they allege is inhumane.

During the execution, Loden wore a red prison jumpsuit and was covered by a white sheet. Brown leather straps held him down on a gurney.

Before the injection started, Loden said he was “deeply remorseful.”

“For the past 20 years, I’ve tried to do a good deed every single day to make up for the life I took from this world,” Loden said. “I know these are mere words and cannot erase the damage I did. If today brings you nothing else, I hope you get peace and closure.”

He concluded his last words by saying “I love you” in Japanese, officials said.

Grey had been working as a waitress at her uncle’s restaurant in northeast Mississippi during the summer ahead of her senior year of high school. On June 22, 2000, she left work after dark and got a flat tire.

Loden, a Marine Corps recruiter with relatives in the area, stopped at around 10:45 p.m. and began talking with her about the flat. “Don’t worry. I’m a Marine. We do this kind of stuff,” he said.

Loden told investigators he became angry after Gray allegedly said she would never want to be a Marine, and he ordered her into his van. He spent four hours sexually assaulting her before strangling and suffocating her, he told investigators.

The following afternoon, court records say “Loden was discovered lying by the side of a road with the words ‘I’m sorry’ carved into his chest and apparent self-inflicted lacerations on his wrists.”

Farris described her daughter as a “happy-go-lucky, always smiling” teenager who aspired to become an elementary school teacher.

“She wasn’t perfect, now, mind you,” Farris said. “But she strived to do right.”

Farris declined to speak to reporters following the execution.

A week earlier, U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate ruled the execution could proceed, saying the U.S. Supreme Court had upheld a three-drug lethal injection protocol in Oklahoma as recently as seven years ago.

In November, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey sought a pause in executions and ordered a “top-to-bottom” review of the state’s capital punishment system after a series of failed lethal injections.

Mississippi has done “mock executions and drills” on a monthly basis to avoid a botched execution, Jeworski Mallett, deputy commissioner of institutions for the Department of Corrections, told reporters.

The Department of Corrections revealed in court papers in July 2021 that it had acquired three drugs for its lethal injection protocol: midazolam, which is a sedative; vecuronium bromide, which paralyzes the muscles; and potassium chloride, which stops the heart.

Since 2019, only Alabama, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Tennessee have used a three-drug protocol, said Jim Craig, a MacArthur Center attorney, speaking at a November court hearing.

Craig said a majority of death-penalty states and the federal government used a three-drug protocol in 2008, but the federal government and most of those states have since started using one drug.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 27 states have the death penalty. There are 36 inmates on death row in Mississippi.

Death Penalty Action, a group opposed to capital punishment, convened a news conference Tuesday in front of the state capitol.

“Clearly, something in him snapped for him to commit such a horrific crime,” said Mitzi Magleby, a spokesperson for the Mississippi chapter of Ignite Justice, an organization that advocates for criminal justice reform. “Mr. Loden was immediately remorseful. Shouldn’t there be room for grace and mercy in such a situation?”

Loden hoped his execution would be the country’s last, his attorney Mark McDonald said in a statement following the execution.

At a news conference Wednesday, Burl Cain, commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, said Loden fully cooperated with officials.

“He professed his sorrow. But he was quite upbeat and he ate hardy,” Cain said. His last meal included two bone-in fried pork chops, sweet potatoes, and peach cobbler with ice cream.

Farris, the victim’s mother, told The Associated Press on Friday that she forgave Loden years ago, but did not believe his apology.

“I don’t particularly want to see somebody die,” Farris said. “But I do believe in the death penalty. ... I do believe in justice.”

To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Mangino a guest on WFMJ-TV21 Weekend Today

Watch my interview on WFMJ-TV21 Weekend Today about the potential criminal referrals for later this month by the January 6th Committee.

To watch the interview CLICK HERE and scroll to Jan. 6 Committee.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Louisiana routinely holds prisoners after there release date

Roughly 200 inmates are held beyond their legal release dates on any given month in Louisiana, amounting to 2,000 to 2,500 of the 12,000 to 16,000 prisoners freed each year, reported The New York Times. The average length of additional time was around 44 days in 2019, according to internal state corrections data obtained by lawyers for inmates — and until recently, the department’s public hotline warned families that the wait could be as long as 90 days.

In most other states and cities, prisoners and parolees marked for immediate release are typically processed within hours — not days — although those times can vary, particularly if officials must make arrangements required to release registered sex offenders. But in Louisiana, the problem known as “overdetention” is endemic, often occurring without explanation, apology or compensation — an overlooked crisis in a state that imprisons a higher percentage of its residents than any other in most years.

The practice is also wasteful. It costs Louisiana taxpayers about $2.8 million a year in housing costs alone, according to department estimates.

“The state has not made liberty, or taxpayer money, a priority in how they run their prisons,” said William B. Most, a lawyer based in New Orleans who has filed two class-action lawsuits on behalf of overdetained inmates.

“To our clients, it is an extremely scary experience because they do not know why they are being held, when they will be free or how they can get free,” he added. “All they know is they should not be behind bars.”

In December 2020, the Justice Department opened an investigation into the practices the state used to determine the release of its prisoners, particularly those, like Mr. Traweek, who remained behind bars despite being eligible for immediate release. The investigation, according to people with knowledge of the situation, is expected to find widespread violations of a federal law that guarantees imprisoned people their “rights, privileges or immunities.”

State officials have been cooperating with the investigation, so it is possible it could result in an agreement. Such a deal would probably require an overhaul of procedures used to calculate time served, according to people who have spoken to investigators, and mandate the replacement of the state’s outdated corrections computer system known as CAJUN. (Its error message is a pixelated pop-up of a bunny behind bars.)

Prisoners’ rights groups say that federally mandated changes, while welcome, would do little to overcome the core problem that defines Louisiana’s troubled criminal justice system: an entrenched belief that an inmate’s freedom is worth less than everyone else’s.

“We exist in a space between malice and incompetence,” said Jamila Johnson of the Promise of Justice Initiative, a nonprofit in New Orleans that has sued the state for unlawful detention and poor treatment of prisoners.

A spokesman for Louisiana’s corrections department declined to discuss overdetention or even provide basic information about how the system operates and declined to respond to specific claims by inmates, citing the continuing litigation.

But in a deposition taken in January, James M. Le Blanc, who has run the agency for 14 years, acknowledged that the state has “had a problem with immediate releases” since at least 2012. He said the department had halved waiting times in recent years, from an average of more than 70 days a decade ago, and claimed that parish prison officials were also responsible for the drawn-out releases.

The problem crops up sporadically in other states, including neighboring Mississippi, and in the federal Bureau of Prisons. New York City recently agreed to pay out as much as $300 million to thousands of current and former inmates at local jails who had been kept hours or a few days after they were supposed to be released. But those waiting times are relatively short compared with what prisoners in Louisiana endure.

The state routinely sends prisoners with sentences under 20 years (and those with serious physical or mental conditions) to jails or prisons run by governments in local parishes, which are the equivalent of county governments elsewhere. That means parish prisons serve not only as traditional jails, but also as officially designated extensions of the state prison system.

It is a jumbled and sluggish system with tangled lines of communication and jurisdiction — and many of the prisoners who have been kept past their release dates fell into the chasm between dysfunctional state and parish bureaucracies.

A judge freed Brian Humphrey from the jail in Bossier Parish in northwest Louisiana on April 16, 2019, after he had served three years for an offense related to assault. He prepared to leave that night. Instead, he languished.

The corrections department, for reasons that remain unclear, waited 10 days to even begin processing his paperwork, according to records obtained in a 2021 class-action lawsuit his lawyers filed against the state. Instead of freeing Mr. Humphrey, as he was legally bound to do, the parish sheriff transferred him to a state-run work camp outside Shreveport, where he stayed until he was released on May 13, 2019.

That was 27 days beyond his release date.

Louisiana has one of the most overcrowded prison systems in the country, yet parish sheriffs are often reluctant to release people they believe are at high risk of committing new crimes. Some even view inmates housed in local facilities as worth holding onto as free labor.

In October 2017, Sheriff Steve Prator of Caddo Parish, which includes Shreveport, told reporters he was concerned that a recent criminal justice effort in the state was bad for parish governments. Not only would it result in higher crime rates among the “bad” former prisoners, but it would also deprive his staff of free labor provided by the “good ones.”

To read more CLICK HERE


Sunday, December 11, 2022

More classified documents found at Trump compound

A recent search of a Florida storage unit used by former President Donald Trump yielded two items designated as classified, two people familiar with the matter said Wednesday.

The sources declined to elaborate on the nature of the materials, which were retrieved from a West Palm Beach, Florida location, and turned over to federal authorities as part of a continuing investigation into Trump's retention of sensitive government records after he left office in 2021.

A search, which included other Trump properties, was conducted by an outside group assembled by the former president's lawyers after federal officials had expressed concern about the proper accounting for sensitive government records, reports The USA Today.

The recovery was first reported by the Washington Post, citing three searches for classified materials after Trump’s attorneys were pressed by a federal judge to attest that they had fully complied with a May grand jury subpoena to turn over all classified materials.

An August search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate resulted in the seizure of 11,000 government documents, including about 100 records designated as classified, escalating a criminal inquiry implicating the former president.

The documents investigation is one of several criminal inquiries now threatening Trump, who last month announced a new campaign to retake the White House.

Trump's announcement triggered the Justice Department's appointment of a special counsel to oversee the documents investigation and a separate inquiry into efforts to subvert the 2020 election.

Local prosecutors in Georgia are also pursuing a sprawling investigation involving Trump's interference in the 2020 election in that state, including attempts to pressure state officials to overturn President Joe Biden's election win.

To read more CLICK HERE

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Mangino provides expert analysis for WFMJ-TV21

Watch my interview with Corey McCrae on WFMJ-TV21 about the up coming trial for the murder of Rowan Sweeney in Mahoning County, Ohio.

To watch the interview CLICK HERE

Friday, December 9, 2022

Mangino a guest on the Law and Crime Network

Watch my interview with Attorney Linda Kenney Baden on Law and Crime Network discussing the Pike County Massacre.

To watch the interview CLICK HERE

Oklahoma jail guard permitted white supremacists to beat black prisoners

In April, a federal jury convicted 53-year-old Matthew Ware, an Oklahoma prison guard, for allowing Black inmates, being detained pre-trial, to be attacked by white supremacists, which violated the civil rights of three inmates, reports KOCO-TV.

Ware was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release, a news release states.

"This defendant is being held accountable for abusing his position of power and authority to, among other things, facilitate an attack carried out by white supremacists on a Black inmate," Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in the news release. "This sentence handed down reflects the seriousness of the defendant’s actions and ensures accountability for his unlawful conduct. The Justice Department will continue to hold corrections officials accountable, including those in leadership positions, when they willfully violate the constitutional rights of detainees and inmates in their custody and control."

Prosecutors said Ware ordered another employee to move two Black inmates to a unit that had white supremacist inmates. Investigators said Ware knew the Black inmates would be in danger.

Ware also ordered the cells of the inmates to be unlocked, which led to a violent attack. A third inmate was restrained in a position with his arms extended for 90 minutes, which resulted in physical injury.

To read more CLICK HERE

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Wisconsin authorities file adult homicide charges against 10-year-old boy

Activists in Milwaukee and across the country are pushing to move the case of the 10-year-old boy charged as an adult in the shooting death of his mother into juvenile court as the child's initial court proceedings continued this week, reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The boy's latest hearing lasted just five minutes. Judge Kristela Cervera informed prosecutors and defense attorneys the case is being transferred to Judge Jane Caroll, the presiding judge of Milwaukee County Children’s Court.

The 10-year-old’s homicide case remains in the adult court system. The proceedings are taking place at the Vel R. Phillips Juvenile Justice Center, which includes the detention where the boy is being held on $50,000 bail.

The Journal Sentinel is not identifying the boy or his 44-year-old mother at this time due to his age and the circumstances of the case. Cervera previously ordered that the boy’s name, image, date of birth and address not be released to the public.

The boy attended Wednesday’s online hearing but Cervera permitted him to keep his camera off. His next hearing is before Carroll on Dec. 14.

The case has already drawn scrutiny for the fact that a 10-year-old is being charged as an adult. In Wisconsin, state law requires children as young as 10 to be charged as adults for certain serious crimes, at least to start the case. That includes the charge the boy faces: first-degree reckless homicide.

This week, activists with the Youth Justice Milwaukee campaign issued statements urging the case to be moved to the juvenile system.

“We have to stop criminalizing children, especially black and brown children who are still disproportionately charged and sentenced at higher rates than their white counterparts,” said Sharlen Moore, the director of Youth Justice Milwaukee and Urban Underground.

Youth Justice Milwaukee is a campaign advocating for community-based, family-centered restorative programs as alternatives to youth prisons. In a statement released Tuesday, the organization and several others called on Wisconsin to re-examine how it treats children accused of serious crimes.

“We would like to express to the City of Milwaukee and the District Attorney’s Office that there are far too often a rush to dispose of little black boys, both nationally and locally,” said Sean Wilson, a national organizing director for, which advocates for lower prison populations.

Last week, Craig Mastantuono, an attorney who defended a 10-year-old boy charged in the Charlie Young beating case in the 2000s, told the Journal Sentinel the adult criminal justice system has fewer rehabilitative resources available to children, whose brains are still developing and cannot fully think through the consequences of their actions.

The shooting was initially believed to be an accident after the boy told police he was twirling the gun around his finger when it went off and a bullet hit his mother.

The boy was allowed to stay with his family immediately after the shooting, but a day later, his family began questioning his story and contacted police. The boy later told investigators he used a key to open his mother’s lockbox, removed a gun and intentionally pointed it at her because he was upset she woke him up early and would not buy him something off the internet, according to the criminal complaint.

The family told police the child had a history of mental health treatment and concerning behavior, the complaint stated.

To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Mangino discusses opioid verdict in Eastern Ohio

Watch my interview with WFMJ-TV21 discussing the damage award to Lake and Trumbull Counties in Ohio against CVS, Wal-Mart and Walgreens over opioid abuse.

To watch the interview CLICK HERE

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Krasner: Impeachment an 'authoritarian attack to overturn elections'

Days after the Pennsylvania Senate set the stage for the first impeachment trial in nearly three decades, Philadelphia’s top prosecutor asked a state court to halt the proceedings, arguing that the process is politically motivated, unlawful, and outside the Legislature’s purview, reports the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.

District Attorney Larry Krasner, a Democrat who easily won re-election last year, asked Commonwealth Court on Friday to stop the Republican-backed process that could remove him from office after GOP lawmakers launched an investigation into him earlier this year.

During a virtual press conference on Monday, Krasner said efforts to impeach him play into the “national context of attacks on reform prosecutors” and “a more generalized authoritarian attack” to overturn elections.

“The authoritarian movement in this country, at the moment, is losing, and the authoritarian movement in this country against reform prosecution is losing,” Krasner said. “I repeat — you don’t have to do this stuff when you’re winning elections.”

The legal challenge came days after lawmakers in the upper chamber voted to formally accept the articles of impeachment from the Republican-controlled state House, which accuse Krasner of misbehavior in office and obstructing a legislative investigation, and took an oath to uphold the state Constitution during a trial that could begin in January.

The lawsuit names interim Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, the House impeachment managers, and the senators who will serve on the committee overseeing the case  arguing that the impeachment efforts against Krasner “stands the Constitution and this commonwealth’s history on its head.”

The filing claims that the impeachment process should have expired on Nov. 30, when the two-year legislative session ended. The filing also argues that the Legislature does not have the constitutional authority to remove local officials from office, and alleges the charges against Krasner do not meet the standards for impeachment.

Krasner requested an expedited briefing in Commonwealth Court, citing a writ of summons formally notifying him of the charges approved by the Senate last week. Michael Satin, a lawyer for Krasner, said he does not know what the court will decide.

The writ of summons gave Krasner until Dec. 21 to file an answer to the upper chamber ahead of the trial.

Erica Clayton Wright, a spokesperson for Senate Republicans, told reporters in a statement that the caucus was reviewing the filing and would respond “once we have had time to evaluate the petition.”

The House Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order, which was formed in June to investigate and review rising crime rates in the state’s largest city, has focused on Krasner’s approach to prosecuting crime in Philadelphia. In September, the GOP-controlled panel conducted a series of public hearings with live testimony on gun violence.

Earlier this year, the House voted 162-38 to hold Krasner in contempt for refusing to respond to a subpoena issued by the GOP-controlled committee.

Krasner agreed to testify before the select committee. But there were conditions from the panel, including that the meeting would take place behind closed doors without a public live stream or audio recordings. While the committee would have a copy of the testimony, Krasner said he could not make a copy.

Krasner — who has urged lawmakers to focus on a statewide review of gun violence and increased crime through a public process — told reporters in October that Republicans were using impeachment as a “political stunt.” He added that lawmakers have not proven that his policies have contributed to increased crime in Philadelphia.

On Monday, Krasner said he “fully [intends] not to be silent” as the proceedings play out.

“We are proud of our policies. We are proud of our ideas. We are proud of our successes,” Krasner said. “We know some things about what is going on in the rest of the state that is, frankly, not flattering to their motivation to pursue all of this. We fully intend to respond.”

Removal from office requires a two-thirds majority vote, at least 34 lawmakers, in the Senate, meaning that some Democrats in the 50-member chamber would have to support the measure for it to succeed after what could be a lengthy and costly trial. Voters elected a Republican 28-22 majority during the November election, and a special election will take place next month to replace one GOP lawmaker who resigned.

Sen. Jimmy Dillon, D-Philadelphia, was the only member of his party to support the impeachment-related resolutions last week.

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, argued similar claims on the chamber floor, saying it would be “unconstitutional” to carry over impeachment proceedings from one session to the next two-year period. He also noted that voters elected a Democratic majority in the House during the Nov. 8 general election and said moving ahead with a trial would “undermine the voice of the people of this commonwealth.”

Only two officials in Pennsylvania have faced removal from office through the impeachment process. The most recent occurred in 1994.

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Sunday, December 4, 2022

Trump appointed judge's decisions 'rooted in highly dubious legal arguments'

 Drew Tipton, a Trump appointee to a federal court in Texas, has spent just over two years on the bench. In those two years, he has repeatedly handed down decisions blocking the Biden administration's immigration policies that were rooted in highly dubious legal arguments.

And because federal trial court procedures in Texas frequently permit litigants to choose which judge will hear their case, Texas’s Republican attorney general often chooses Tipton to hear challenges to Biden administration policies. At least when it comes to immigration, Tipton has acted as a reliable partisan.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court had to confront this set of circumstances head-on, reported Vox.

The Court heard an appeal of Tipton’s decision in a case known as United States v. Texas. Tipton’s order in the case, which he handed down in July, effectively stripped Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas of his statutory authority to set enforcement priorities for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency that enforces immigration laws within US borders.

Tipton’s decision invalidated a memo Mayorkas issued in September 2021, which instructed ICE to prioritize undocumented immigrants who “pose a threat to national security, public safety, and border security and thus threaten America’s well-being” when making arrests or otherwise enforcing immigration law.

Based on the justices’ comments at Tuesday’s argument, it is likely that a majority of the Court will ultimately vote to reverse Tipton — potentially by a lopsided margin. But it is unlikely that they will do much to prevent judges like Tipton from tossing a wrench into the Biden administration’s gears in the future.

Tipton claimed that Mayorkas’s enforcement priorities are invalid because federal law requires the government to detain a fairly large number of undocumented immigrants. But, as Chief Justice John Roberts said at one point in the argument, “it is impossible for the executive to do” what Tipton ordered it to do. The government simply doesn’t have the resources and manpower to arrest every single immigrant who falls within Tipton’s order.

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Friday, December 2, 2022

The Marshall Project: Some Conservative lawmakers want to overhaul capital punishment, or end it

Two years ago, a group of Republican lawmakers toured the death chamber in Oklahoma, which has been responsible for more executions per capita than any other state in the last half-century. They took in the jet-black gurney straps, the phone connected to the governor’s office and the microphone used for last words, write Maurice Chammah and Keri Blakinger in The Marshall Project.

“The hair rises on the back of your neck,” said state Rep. Kevin McDugle. “A few legislators couldn’t be in the room very long.”

They continued on to death row to see Richard Glossip, who has spent more than two decades in solitary confinement, facing execution for a 1997 murder. Glossip says he had nothing to do with the crime, and a growing number of conservative lawmakers believe him.

“I just remember putting my hand up on the glass,” McDugle recalled, “and he put his hand up, and I said, ‘You've got people fighting for you. Keep your head up, brother.’”

As Oklahoma officials seek to resume putting prisoners to death later this year, McDugle has pursued bills in the state legislature to help those on death row prove their innocence, knowing Glossip could be among the first facing execution.

“My fear is some people will be executed before we pass a bill,” McDugle said.

Glossip’s case is reaching the highest echelons of politics in a deep-red state at a time when Republicans across the country are increasingly split on the future of capital punishment. Support for the death penalty used to be popular in both parties, but over the last three decades, Democrats have turned away from the punishment, leaving Republican legislators, governors, prosecutors and judges to fight for its continued use. At the same time, a small conservative movement — including groups like Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty — has been openly questioning capital punishment. It’s now clear their efforts are paying off.

Earlier this year, Virginia became the first Southern state to repeal the death penalty after three Republicans voted with the state legislature’s Democratic majority. A Marshall Project review found that in roughly half the states with an active death penalty system, Republican lawmakers have recently sponsored or written bills to ban or constrain the punishment, or to help potentially innocent prisoners avoid it.

Although many of these bills are unlikely to pass, their sheer volume suggests a significant shift in conservative views. Some of these Republican legislators see their bills as incremental steps toward ending the punishment. But others, like McDugle, don’t want to end the death penalty — they just want to fix it.

“I want to make darn sure that if we as Oklahoma are putting someone to death, they deserve to be there,” McDugle said. “I know there is human error all the way through.”

Conservatives have been slowly turning away from the death penalty for years, as high-profile innocence cases have helped frame capital punishment as a problem of out-of-control big government. In 2000, after a series of exonerations of people who had been sentenced to death, the Republican governor of Illinois, George Ryan, declared a moratorium on executions. At the time, Texas Gov. George W. Bush was running for president, and the national press questioned whether an innocent person had faced execution under his watch; soon after, his fellow Republicans in the state legislature voted to make DNA testing more available for prisoners. From 2014 to 2019, Republican support for the death penalty, as opposed to life sentences, dropped from 68% to 58%, according to Gallup Polls. Republican legislators in Nebraska voted to repeal the punishment in 2015, although the state’s residents then voted to bring the punishment back.

Some lawmakers have been motivated by anti-abortion arguments about the sanctity of human life and stories of Christian redemption on death row. Others talk about the cost to taxpayers. South Dakota state Sen. Arthur Rusch previously served as a judge in a capital case. “My case cost at least $1 million if not more,” he said, noting that the court paid for counseling for some jurors who suffered from post-traumatic stress after the lengthy trial. He was elected to the senate in 2015, and has filed numerous bills to abolish or restrict the punishment; none have succeeded, he said, but each time he brings along a few more peers.

“Changing your mind on an emotional subject like this can be difficult,” said Hannah Cox, who writes columns for Newsmax, a conservative web outlet, and serves as national manager of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty. She’s found that efforts to fix the system can serve as “baby steps,” as she tries to show her fellow conservatives that the system can’t be saved. “If you fix one of 13 problems with the death penalty, there are still another 12.”

Of those problems, conservatives have been less likely to cite the racial disparities in capital punishment that animate many of its liberal opponents. Of the more than 2,500 people on death rows around the country, 41% are Black. In contrast, Black people make up 13% of the total U.S. population. For his part, McDugle acknowledges the disparity but said it isn’t what motivated his efforts.

“When I look at a bill, I don’t see color at all. I look at an individual and say, ‘If an individual commits a crime of this nature, should they be put on death row or not?’” he said.

Robert Dunham, the executive director of the nonpartisan Death Penalty Information Center, said it’s wrong to think that conservative lawmakers only get involved in cases where White people face execution. “Where the case looks like a 21st-century lynching, it offends conservatives’ consciences,” Dunham said, adding, “I think that the fact that extreme injustices also do happen to White capital defendants is eye-opening to people who have not appreciated the depth of the problems in capital punishment.”

Many conservatives focus on the moral calculation of who deserves the ultimate punishment. Ohio recently passed a bill, sponsored by a Republican legislator, to ban the execution of anyone with a serious mental illness. Republicans are pushing similar bills in Florida, Kentucky and Missouri.

In Texas, state Rep. Jeff Leach has filed a bill that would ban the death penalty for people who were technically “accomplices” to murders but played a minor role, including getaway drivers. Much like the Oklahomans, he was motivated by a single case — that of Jeff Wood, who was sentenced to die after his friend killed a store clerk while Wood waited outside in the car, after what they thought would be an easy robbery.

Though Wood’s case is not in Leach’s district, he wrote to the North Texas lawmaker and pleaded for help. His letter ended up on the top of Leach’s pile of prison mail, and he picked it up one day on vacation when it was too rainy to go to the beach. He’d been hoping to catch up on his backlog of letters, but Wood’s story sucked him in.

“It’s been on my mind and on my heart ever since,” Leach said. “Jeff Wood isn’t innocent, but the state shouldn’t even be considering putting him to death.”

Other lawmakers are more concerned about the risk of executing an innocent person. Texas Rep. Steve Toth, a Republican lawmaker from just north of Houston, filed a bill banning the death penalty in cases where there’s only one eyewitness and no other evidence. As a Baptist pastor, he was moved by seeing death row exonerees speak to the legislature several years ago, as well as the film “Just Mercy.”

“Even the Bible says you shouldn’t put someone to death without a corroborated eyewitness,” he said, citing the Book of Deuteronomy in the Old Testament. “If we’re going to put someone to death we need to be absolutely certain.”

The crime that landed Glossip on death row took place in the early morning hours of Jan. 7, 1997, at the Best Budget Inn in Oklahoma City. Sometime before dawn, owner Barry Van Treese was bludgeoned to death and left in Room 102. As the motel’s live-in manager, Glossip quickly became a suspect, and police arrested him two days after the killing.

Later, authorities realized that 19-year-old handyman Justin Sneed was the one who actually carried out the fatal beating. They arrested him, too, and under questioning Sneed confessed, but claimed that Glossip had masterminded the killing.

There was scant evidence of Glossip’s involvement, but an Oklahoma jury still found him guilty, based largely on Sneed’s testimony. In exchange for that testimony, Sneed got a life sentence, while Glossip went to death row.

An appeals court tossed out the verdict, saying Glossip’s lawyers hadn’t done a good enough job. When the case went back to trial in June 2004, it ended with the same result.

In 2015, Glossip came within hours of execution before the governor called it off over a controversy involving the state’s death drugs. Since then, his case has continued attracting celebrity attention, and his lawyers say they’ve found more witnesses who could help prove their client’s innocence. Right now, they’re fighting to get access to files the district attorney’s office is refusing to turn over, but that Glossip’s team says could hold the key to proving his innocence.

A few years ago, conservative business owner Justin Jackson watched “Killing Richard Glossip,” a four-part series on Investigation Discovery, the true crime television network, and couldn’t stop thinking about it. Jackson is friends with Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, and while the two were hunting deer, he voiced his concerns. Eventually, he cold-called Glossip’s lawyer and offered his help, and started talking about the case to friends in the legislature, including McDugle.

One of McDugle’s bills would require prosecutors to share materials with defense lawyers. (Around the country, prosecutors frequently tangle with the defense over what they must share.) Another bill would allow the parole board to create a Conviction Integrity Review Unit to study innocence claims (usually these are housed in county-level prosecutor offices, although Michigan and Pennsylvania have statewide units.) The third would create a “Prosecutor Conduct Review Panel,” which would decide what evidence is potentially favorable and must be given to the defense. (Currently, prosecutors get to decide.)

McDugle failed to get these bills out of legislative committees and blamed prosecutors for undermining his efforts. He will continue to push the proposals next year but also knows it may be too late. He plans to lobby the state’s parole board directly to study the Glossip case and recommend that Stitt free him from death row. McDugle has also been swayed to advocate for a Black man on death row who maintains his innocence, Julius Jones.

Some opponents of the death penalty hope these bills will eventually bring legislators like McDugle to the conclusion that capital punishment is broken beyond repair.

“It’s easier to start naming specific policies you don’t like before getting to ‘throw the whole thing out,’” said Laura Porter, executive director of the 8th Amendment Project, which works on anti-death penalty legislation across the country. “I’ve seen that growth from an individual issue, or case, to ‘OK, I’m done with it.”

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