New Mexico's largest newspaper has this editorial supporting Gov. Susana Martinez's drive to reinstate capital punishment in that state.

And while it won't bring back [Officer Gregg] Benner, a military veteran who was shot by Romero last Memorial Day during a traffic stop, reinstituting the death penalty for those who kill law enforcement officers would not only force such murderers to face the death sentences they have single-handedly delivered, but common sense and New Mexico history dictate that it would act as a deterrent. Nothing else will for this hardened class of criminal.

Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas

Retired California Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas died yesterday.  He was 89.

Justice Lucas was the lone voice of sense on the California Supreme Court in its darkest days, a time when judicial activism ran roughshod over the validly enacted will of the people, over the rights of victims, and over the state constitution itself.  He gave up a U.S. District Judge seat to take the position, and one reporter asked him why he was taking a "demotion."  There was important work to be done.

In 1986, the people stood up, said "no more," and booted three of the justices, including the notorious Chief Justice Rose Bird.  Governor Deukmejian elevated Justice Lucas to Chief Justice.  As the leader of the court, he was instrumental in restoring it to one of the finest courts in the nation.

After retirement, Chief Justice Lucas was a friend and advisor to CJLF.  He will be missed.

News Scan

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A Better Death Penalty for California:  CJLF Legal Director Kent Scheidegger has this op-ed in the Los Angeles Times.

Death Recommended for OH Man who Killed Daughter:  After jurors found an Ohio man guilty of murdering his two-year-old daughter, they decided Wednesday to recommend a death sentence.  Kevin Grasha of Cincinnati reports that Glen Bates, 34, was found guilty Monday of aggravated murder and child endangering in the 2015 death of his daughter, Glenara.  Glenara died of battered child syndrome, starvation and acute and chronic head injuries, the most serious of which occurred when Bates swung her into a door frame "like a baseball bat," according to prosecutors.  The judge will announce whether she will accept the jury's recommendation of a death sentence for Bates on Oct. 17.  Bates' former girlfriend, Andrea Bradley, 30, is facing the same charges.

Gov. Brown Give Felons More Time to Change Record Under Prop 47:  Felons in California with certain felonies on their records will have an additional five years to petition to have their convictions reclassified as misdemeanors under Proposition 47.  Brian Rokos of the Press Enterprise reports that Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 2765 on Wednesday, a bill that extends the filing deadline from Nov. 4, 2017 to Nov. 4, 2022.  Under Prop. 47, which was approved by voters in 2014, crimes such as shoplifting, forgery, writing bad checks, receiving stolen property, petty theft and possession of several illegal drugs were reduced from felonies to misdemeanors.  San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos, who has voiced opposition to Prop. 47 and been critical of Brown's policies, gave his support to the bill, noting its usefulness for felons who have turned their lives around.  Statewide, courts have received 72,624 petitions.  Brown also signed another bill this week, SB 813, which removes the 10-year statute of limitations on prosecutions of rape, child molestation and other sex crimes.

Certiorari Grants from the Long Conference

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The U.S. Supreme Court Justices met Monday for their annual pre-term conference to consider petitions built up over the summer asking them to take cases from lower courts for full review.  As usual, they released an orders list today, the Thursday after the Long Conference, announcing the cases they have taken up, so briefing can begin immediately.  Expect a much, much longer list Monday of cases they turned down.

Pretty slim pickings for criminal law.  Nelson v. Colorado, No. 15-1256, is a quirky case about refunding restitution and fees when a conviction is reversed on appeal.  Lynch v. Dimaya, No. 15-1498, is a crime-related immigration case diving once more into the definition of "crime of violence."

From the Cases You Have to Look Up Just for the Name File comes the civil case of Lewis v. Clarke, No. 15-1500.  No, Sacagawea is not the Real Party In Interest, but the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority was a party early in the proceedings.

News Scan

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CA Murderer Avoids Death Penalty with Plea:  A California man who participated in the slaying of a teenage couple over eight years ago was sentenced Tuesday to 50 years to life, skirting a possible death sentence.  The AP reports that 28-year-old David Brian Smith's sentencing comes two weeks after he pleaded guilty to murder, and he is eligible for parole.  In January 2008, Smith and two other men, Cameron Thomason and Collin McLaughlin, ordered Christopher Thompson, 18, and Bodhisattva Sherzer-Potter, 16, out of their vehicle, which the couple had been sleeping in following a party at an abandoned Air Force bunker in the Mojave Desert.  The three men, who had targeted the couple for robbery, took the teens to the bunker, forced them to kneel and shot them in the backs of the heads with a shotgun and rifle when it was discovered they had no money.  Thomason, who served as the lookout during the murders, received a 15-year sentence after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter and attempted robbery in 2011.  McGlaughlin pleaded guilty to murder, kidnapping and robbery in 2013 and is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

TN Man Will Face a Death Sentence: 
A Tennessee man accused of fatally shooting a woman and her young son last year will face the death penalty if convicted.  The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that a notice to pursue a death sentence against accused killer Ross Anderson was filed Wednesday morning by Steve Crump, attorney general in the 10th Judicial District.  Anderson, a former firefighter, is charged with killing Rachel Johnson, 30, and her son Colton, 5, in their home last December.

Trump Is Right About 'Stop and Frisk'

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Former NY Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has this op-ed with the above title in the WSJ.

One of the strategies that helped bring about an 85% reduction in crime in New York City between 1994 and 2013 was the careful and appropriate use of "stop and frisk." This practice dramatically reduced the number of guns, knives and other dangerous weapons, as well as illicit drugs, in the city.

But according to candidate Hillary Clinton and moderator Lester Holt during Monday night's presidential debate, stop and frisk is "unconstitutional." They are wrong. In Mrs. Clinton's case, it's the usual misrepresenting she does when she does not know what she is talking about. As for Mr. Holt, if a moderator is going to interfere, he should do some homework and not pretend to know the law when he does not. Mr. Holt and NBC cannot overrule the U.S. Supreme Court.
See my previous post on this subject for the citation and an excerpt of the case.  Continuing with Mr. Giuliani's piece:

Racial Preference Explicitly Enters Criminal Law

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It's bad enough that racial preference has entered numerous areas of civil law, including employment quotas and college admissions.  But once the premise of racial preference took hold in those areas, it was likely  --  some might say inevitable  -- that it would seep into criminal law.  Indeed, some might say it was intended all along.

In Massachusetts, it has.  The Supreme Judicial Court in that state has held that circumstances that would warrant a Terry stop of a white person do not necessarily warrant the same outcome for a black defendant.  The latter, so says the Court, would have reason to run from the cops that a white defendant lacks.  Therefore, what would count as a valid component of reasonable suspicion (see Illinois v. Wardlow) to detain a white man would fall short in the case of the black one, even if all the non-race based circumstances are identical.

The story is here on CNN.

I could write a long entry about how poisonous this decision is, and I may yet.  For now, I will only say that I see no principled reason black defendants in prosecutions for crack distribution or violent crime should not argue  --  and, in Massachusetts, should not win  -- shorter sentences than similarly situated white defendants solely because drug and mugging laws are "disproportionately" enforced against blacks.

Affirmative action for college applicants has turned into affirmative action for muggers. And race mongering has taken a giant leap forward. This is where we are.  

News Scan

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CA Man Faces Possible Death Sentence:  A California man who has already served decades in prison for murder is facing a possible death sentence for another murder he committed 37 years ago.  Debbie L. Sklar of My News LA reports that Darrel Mark Gurule, 57, was found guilty last Wednesday for the rape and murder of Barbara Ballman, 23, who was shot in the abdomen and found naked inside her car in September 1979.  Gurule wasn't charged with Ballman's death until 2010 when his DNA was connected to evidence found on her body.  He has been serving a life sentence since 1987 for kidnapping and murdering a man in what detectives believe was a drug deal gone wrong.  Prosecutors also say he is responsible for the kidnapping and sexual assault of a woman in 1977, the assault of two brothers in 1979 and the robbery of a man in 1982.  Jurors began on Monday hearing evidence that will factor in to whether they will sentence Gurule to life in prison without parole or the death penalty.

AL Death Row Inmate Files Appeal:  An Alabama inmate just a few months away from his scheduled execution filed an appeal over the weekend asking an appellate court to review his claim that the state's lethal injection procedure is inhumane.  Kim Chandler of the AP reports that Thomas Arthur, 74, who was scheduled to be executed on Nov. 3 for the 1982 murder-for-hire of a businessman, filed the appeal with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that his legal challenge was prematurely dismissed in July by a federal judge who misapplied a requirement for inmates to name an alternate execution method.  Arthur is arguing against the use of the sedative midazolam hydrochloride in his execution, citing the drug's unreliability and his health issues.  It as been over two years since Alabama regularly carried out executions.  The last person put to death in the state was Christopher Eugene Brooks in January for raping and fatally beating a woman in 1993.

CA Parolee Arrested for Murder:
  A California parolee was arrested and booked on suspicion of murder early Sunday morning for killing a man over the weekend.  Lyndsay Winkley of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Richard Gunner, 23, is accused of killing Brandon Deguzman, 21, in front of the victim's El Cajon home on Saturday morning.  Deguzman was discovered with at least one fatal gunshot wound on the sidewalk.  Gunner was arrested the next day, initially on a parole violation and then later for murder, once police obtained sufficient evidence.  Gunner's father says his son has spent time in prison for carjacking and has a serious drug problem.
As Bill noted earlier, today's FBI statistics report, Crime in the United States -- 2015, reports an 11% increase in the number of murders.  The murder rate (murders per 100,000 population), rose a slightly lower but still horrific 10%.  See Table 1A.

How unusual is this?  I dove into the historical data to find out.  The Bureau of Justice Statistics online data gives us murder rates back to 1960.  The rates range from 4.4 to 10.2 murders per 100k and are expressed to only one decimal place, so there is some rounding error, but they are good enough for a quick take.

Putting the rates in a spreadsheet and calculating the percent change for each year over the previous year, we see that only twice in over a half century has the rate jumped double digits in one year and once just a tad below that threshold.  Those three years were 1966-1968, when crime was rising at a horrific rate.

We have never had a double-digit drop, but several years come close.

The standard deviation for the changes is 5.9%.  This year's change is not quite two standard deviations from the mean, but it's close.  (The mean is near zero.) 

In plain English, this is a very unusual one-year jump, although not unprecedented.

Answer Found for Rising Violent Crime

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Earlier today, I posted the news that violent crime, and murder in particular, had risen by double digit percentages in 2015.  (Actually, this has been known for months, and Kent and I have often said as much, but the official UCR statistics came out today).

It did not take long for the founder of Black Lives Matter to come up with the solution: Get rid of the police.  And no, I am not making this up.  The article begins thusly:

Since policing is a problem, the police should be removed from communities altogether, according to Black Lives Matter founder Alicia Garza.

Garza argued that the United States gives too much respect to police officers, explaining that when police do wrong, a few bad cops are blamed, rather than a "corroded and corrupt system."

"Quite frankly, many of our [Black Lives Matter] members are continuing to investigate what it would mean to have police-free communities. I think what we've continued to see over time is that no moral appeal is actually stopping the deaths of black people, whether they be armed or unarmed." Garza told Complex.

I believe BLM is the most audaciously lying social movement I have seen in my forty-some years as a lawyer and law professor.  The murder rate got cut by more than half in the two decades (1992-2012) in which the number of police in this country rose substantially.  Since blacks are disproportionately murder victims, they were disproportionately beneficiaries of the decreased murder rate.

Coin-Flip, Anyone?

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Some mostly off-topic political notes.

News Scan

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CA Double Murderer Gets Death Penalty:  A California man convicted of murder in December was sentenced to death on Friday.  The AP reports that Orange County Superior Judge John Conley affirmed the jury's recommendation that Daniel Patrick Wozniak, 32, be put to death for killing two people six years ago in a scheme to steal money to pay for his wedding and honeymoon.  In 2010, Wozniak shot his neighbor, Army veteran Samuel Herr, so he could steal $50,000 he had saved from service in Afghanistan.  Wozniak then lured Herr's friend, Julie Kibuishi, to Herr's home and killed her, trying to make it appear that Herr had raped and killed her.  He also dismembered Herr's body and dumped it in a park.  In court last week, Herr's father described Wozniak as the "poster boy for the need for an effective death penalty in California."

Prop 47 Causing DNA Database to Dwindle: 
California's criminal DNA database is starting to dwindle, and officials attribute the drop to Proposition 47.  Joe Khalil of Fox40 reports that Prop. 47, which was approved by voters in 2014, reclassified eight specific drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, and individuals who commit these crimes are no longer required to provide a DNA sample to the state.  In the first year after Prop. 47's implementation, felony narcotics arrests plummeted to 11,596, down from more than 36,376, and arrests involving dangerous drugs fell from 85,931 to 22,712, according to FBI data.  In that first year, an estimated 250,000 would-be DNA samples were never collected, says Assemblyman Jim Cooper.  Officials fear that this will hamper cold case investigations in California.  Just this month, the DNA of William Harbour entered into the state's database in 1997 after he was arrested for felony drug crimes, connected him to the murders of two young girls some 43 years earlier.  If arrested today for the same drug crimes, Harbour's DNA would not be collected.

Death Penalty Phase of OH Murder Trial Begins:  The sentencing phase for the double murder trial of an Ohio man began Monday morning after the jury reached a verdict over the weekend.  Jordan Bowen of WDTN reports that the jury will now decide if Harvey Lee Jones, 37, should get the death penalty for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Carly Hughley, 32, and her friend, Demetrius Beckwith, 29, over three years ago.  Jones shot the two victims to death in January 2013 in the presence of he and Hughley's then-10-year-old son.  Jones was found guilty on Saturday of a total of eight counts, including four counts of aggravated murder, two counts of aggravated burglary and two counts of aggravated robbery.

Complacency Mongers, Start Your Engines!

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Today, the FBI came out with a shocking crime report.  A total of 1,532 more people were murdered in the United States in 2015 than the year before.  This represents an 11% increase in the number of murders.  The murder rate was higher in 2015 than at any time since 2009.  We have lost six (or now, more likely seven) years of progress against our most serious crime.

This dreadful news should set off alarm bells, but it won't.  It will set off the complacency brigade.  We will be told, for example, that it's just a "statistical variation."  

Right!  Two percent or three percent or possibly even five percent might be a "statistical variation."  Eleven percent is not.  It shows a change in behavior with a cause. Academics and policy makers should be concerned about this, rather than concerned about finding a way to dismiss it.  But you know that's not going to happen.
In mid-August, Bill and I both noted a poll by the Institute for Government Studies at Berkeley on the competing death penalty propositions.  That poll found the repeal proposition losing by 45-55 and the reform proposition winning by a landslide 76-24.  See also the IGS press release.

Last week, I noted a SurveyUSA poll showing the repeal proposition "trails by 16 points today and is headed for defeat."  Also noted the same day was a USC/LA Times/SurveyMonkey poll showing Prop. 62 down by 11%.  Neither of these polls asked about the reform measure, Prop. 66.

Now we have a poll done by Field and IGS, the same organization as the first poll above, that has a dramatically different result.  This one shows repeal at 48% yes, 37% no, and 15% undecided, while the reform measure is at 35% yes, 23% no, and 42% undecided.

As Seinfeld would say, what's up with that?  Has there been a dramatic shift in public opinion since the first IGS poll?  Not likely, given the essentially consistent results on 62 in the other two recent polls.

When I see dramatic differences like this in polls, the first thing I suspect is wording of the questions.

Stop and Frisk

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The controversy over the practice of "stop and frisk" has entered the presidential campaign.  Let's begin with a trivia question.  Who wrote the Supreme Court decision upholding "stop and frisk" upon reasonable suspicion?

(a)  William Rehnquist
(b)  Antonin Scalia
(c)  Roger Taney
(d)  Earl Warren
Akhil Reed Amar of Yale Law is a rarity -- a prominent legal academic who has his head screwed on straight when it comes to the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule.  He has this post at SCOTUSblog titled The Court after Scalia: The despicable and dispensable exclusionary rule.  No doubt about where he stands.

I agree with what Professor Amar says about the exclusionary rule, but not so much what he says about the Justices.  He begins by noting the difference between cases where the Court was focused on the substantive Fourth Amendment question and cases where it focused on the exclusionary remedy:

In countless cases over the last forty years, the Court has held that the Fourth Amendment was violated by the facts at hand, and has thus ordered or upheld evidentiary exclusion....   But whenever the modern Court has squarely focused on the exclusionary rule itself - giving express thought to whether the rule's contours should be widened or narrowed - the Justices have almost always ruled against the rule, and have done so in case after case dripping with implied or express contempt for it.
This contempt is well founded:

The exclusionary rule has no sound footing in any originalist legal source material. None. Nothing in the text as originally understood supports it; no framer ever endorsed it; no judge in America for the first century after independence ever followed the exclusionary rule or any genuine prototype of it. On one of the very few occasions when a lawyer tried to argue for exclusion before 1876, the lawyer was laughed out of court by America's preeminent jurists, led by Joseph Story.
A bit of rhetorical exaggeration there.  Laughing wasn't Justice Story's style.  But he did make very clear that the exclusionary argument had no basis in the law at that time.  My brief in Utah v. Strieff has more on this.

Mapp v. Ohio, the case that imposed the exclusionary rule on the states, was wrongly decided as an original matter.  A long string of decisions has chipped away at it, limiting the damage it does to some extent, but the case has not been overruled.  Why not, and what of the future?

Miranda Warnings for Terror Suspects?

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Since the capture of Ahmed Khan Rahami for the weekend bombing in NYC that injured 29 people, it has become clear that Rahami is a Jihadist.  A couple of years ago, his father said point-blank that he was a terrorist; he has traveled abroad to become steeped in radicalism, and his social media writings suggest the typical Jihadist hatred for the United States.

For fifty years, we have been required to give Miranda warnings to suspected criminals undergoing custodial questioning.  The question is whether that requirement should be extended beyond the standard criminal to a man more appropriately looked upon as an enemy combatant.

I addressed this issue once before, discussing the underpants bomber captured at the Detroit airport.  Some readers have asked me to link that discussion, and I do so here.

Lessons from Israel and Last Weekend

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WSJ columnist Bret Stephens has this article discussing the lessons learned from his years in Israel and from this past weekend here at home.

What's the lesson here for Americans? This past weekend's terrorist attacks hold at least two. One is that there is a benefit for a society that allows competent and responsible adults to carry guns, like the off-duty police officer who shot the knife-wielding jihadist in St. Cloud, Minn. Another is that there is an equal benefit in the surveillance methods that allowed police in New York and New Jersey to swiftly identify and arrest Mr. Rahimi before his bombing spree took any lives.

These are lessons the political left in this country doesn't want to hear, lest they unsettle established convictions that weapons can only cause violence, not stop it, and that security is the antithesis of, not a precondition to, civil liberty.

The Value of Victim Impact Statements

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My friend Prof. Erin Sheley of the University of Calgary Law School has a forthcoming paper (in the Brooklyn Law Review) discussing a new lens on the value of victim impact statements.  VIS have long been debated in the law; defendants understandably want their victims muzzled, supposedly in the name of due process but actually in the name of hiding the destruction their behavior wreaks.  

The abstract of Erin's paper, noted at SSRN, states:

     
Victim impact statements (VIS) are long-disfavored among legal commentators for allegedly injecting unnecessary, negative emotion into sentencing at the expense of the defendant, with ambiguous informational benefits to the sentencing body. Most traditional arguments both for and against VIS turn on purely retributive or utilitarian grounds. This essay takes up the Stanford sexual assault victim's statement to propose an expressive framework for understanding the function of VIS, which resolves much of the theoretical confusion surrounding the traditional justifications. I show how the expressive goals of criminal punishment have long been distorted by the mediation of traditional news reporting. I then analyze the legal relevance of the particular criminological values expressed in the Stanford statement to show how unmediated victim narratives may counterbalance media distortion, particularly in the age of social media transmission. I conclude that the criminal justice system better serves its expressive function by formally incorporating VIS into sentencing.

Two Years of a Staggering Surge in Murder

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Prof. Doug Berman of SL&P is often maddeningly honest, much to the consternation of his numerous liberal and libertarian followers.  His article today provides a good example.  In the face of a Brennan Center "study" that purports to find not a whole lot to worry about on the national crime front, Doug notes this sentence buried below a bunch of bullet points in the Center's work:

Nationally, the murder rate is projected to increase 31.5 percent from 2014 to 2016 -- with half of additional murders attributable to Baltimore, Chicago, and Houston.

When the murder rate increases by nearly a third in two years, that, ladies and gentlemen, is a national crisis.  (And yes, it's true that if you subtract enough of the cities with the biggest increases, then, nationally, you'll get a smaller (though still startling) increase.  Maybe the Brennan Center thinks its readership hasn't learned fifth grade math).


Another Young Man of Color Shot by the Police

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If we start making lists of "young men of color shot by the police," this episode will be included.

Which shows you why making such lists is absurd  --  it feeds on, and spreads, ignorance, in the hope of goosing the false narrative that the cops are a fascist army.

What the episode is actually about is the capture within the last couple of hours of the fellow, Ahmad Khan Rahami, who is suspected in the New York City bombing and attempted bombing last weekend.  Mr. Rahami had a shootout with the police, hitting one in his bulletproof vest (is that "military" equipment?) and the other in the hand.

Fortunately, Rahami was taken alive and can be questioned. CNN starts its report:

Ahmad Khan Rahami, the man suspected in bombings in New York and New Jersey, is now in custody after a shootout with police, sources said.

The shootout happened Monday in Linden, New Jersey. Rahami was shot and was taken to an ambulance in a stretcher with his right shoulder bloodied and bandaged.

Two officers were hit in the shootout with Rahami, the mayor of the nearby city of Elizabeth said. One officer's vest was struck, and the other was shot in the hand.

    A Preview of Coming "Attractions"

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    The Wall Street Journal notes that, with the activities this last weekend, together with a bomb blast this morning in northern New Jersey, Jihad has given us a preview of what it has in store.

    As if, at this point, one were needed.

    A bomb exploded early Monday near a train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey as police attempted to disarm it with a robot. No injuries were reported. This follows a weekend of violence including a knife assault at a shopping mall in Minnesota and other bombings in New Jersey and New York City. "It's a miracle no one was killed, but the timing and nature of the attacks rightly have investigators looking for evidence of Islamist or other terrorist links," notes the editorial board.

    One way Donald Trump can be elected is if there is a collapse in public confidence in the seriousness and competence of the present administration's counter-terrorism strategy. When even Secretary Clinton understands that we need an intelligence surge, one must wonder whether that collapse is at hand.

    The Criminal Justice Summit

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    I've been remiss in not having posted tapes of the panels from last week's Washington Post Criminal Justice Summit.

    The panel on which I appeared, concerning the role of prosecutors (and by extension, prosecutions) is here.

    The panel specifically about sentencing reform, featuring NAAUSA President Steve Cook and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, is here.

    The half hour interview with Attorney General Loretta Lynch is here.

    For those with the time, the whole ball of wax is here.  Readers might be interested in seeing how thoroughly the discussion inside the Beltway is dominated by those who tend to see criminals as victims.  If Trump is elected, the shock waves in DC will be unlike anything I have experienced in my forty-plus years in this town.

    Deplorables

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    Speaking of "deplorables," the Communist Party USA website has this report from Joelle Fishman and the CPUSA Political Action Commission urging people to vote for Hillary Clinton and not throw away their votes on Stein or Johnson.

    Some of those votes may go to Gary Johnson and the Libertarians. In a very close election, the votes for Johnson and Jill Stein could throw the election to Donald Trump. The argument for a landslide unity vote could convince some of those to do the right thing.
    So there you have it.  It's not an invention of "right-wing media."  The Communist Party says voting for Hillary Clinton is doing the right thing.

    Any repudiation of this endorsement from the Clinton camp?  I could not find one through a Google search or on the campaign website.  If anybody can find one, please post a link in the comments.

    Fraternal Order of Police Endorses Trump

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    The press release is here.  "He understands and supports our priorities, and our members believe he will make America safe again."

    Another Poll Note

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    Jazmine Ulloa has this post on the LA Times political blog noting a "a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll conducted by SurveyMonkey."  This one shows Prop. 62 losing by 11%, 40-51. 

    I have my doubts about SurveyMonkey's method, and I wouldn't put too much weight on it.  Self-selected samples are dicey, even when "corrected" for demographic factors.  Nate Silver and crew at 538 rate SurveyUSA an "A" and SurveyMonkey a "C-."  Even so, when multiple sources give you more-or-less consistent results, it does boost confidence in those results. 

    There is an interesting contrast in the two polls on the age crosstab.

    SurveyUSA: Prop. 62 Headed for Defeat.

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    SurveyUSA has this poll, conducted for four California TV stations. Among the findings:

    "Proposition 62, which would end the death penalty in CA and replace it with life in prison, trails by 16 points today and is headed for defeat." 

    The overall result is 36% yes, 52% no, 12% undecided.  They did not poll on Prop. 66, the reform initiative.  The poll has some interesting crosstabs, and some quirky ones.

    Confirmation Bias

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    It's only human.  If we hear a piece of information that fits with the way we think things are, we are more likely to accept it without scrutiny.  If we hear something that is contrary to our world-view, we are more likely to subject it to scrutiny.

    James Taranto at the WSJ and Jonah Bennett at the Daily Caller report on how easy it was to "troll" journalists with a fake story merely by providing a supposed connection between Donald Trump and white supremacists.  Bennett quotes one of the hoaxers:

    "Basically, I interspersed various nuggets of truth and exaggerated a lot of things, and sometimes outright lied -- in the interest of making a journalist believe that online Trump supporters are largely a group of meme-jihadis who use a cartoon frog to push Nazi propaganda. Because this was funny to me," Swift told TheDCNF.

    "The idea that every major Trump supporter online is secretly a neo-Nazi, for one. I mean, it's just not true. But it's the kind of thing that a journalist will readily believe."

    This is why it is so important to have a diversity of viewpoints in both journalism and academia and why it is so dangerous and harmful that both of these professions have a badly skewed distribution.   Claims need to scrutinized whichever side of the aisle they serve, and we would have more thorough and complete scrutiny if we had a better balance of viewpoints.

    No on 57 Press Conference

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    This morning I attended a press conference by the opposition to California Proposition 57, Gov. Brown's Jailbreak Initiative.  The campaign website is here.

    Radio Discussion of Props. 62 and 66

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    Last night I was on radio station KMUD in Humboldt County, discussing the California death penalty repeal and reform initiatives, Propositions 62 and 66.  Dionne Wilson presented the other side of the argument.  The hour-long podcast is available here.

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