News Scan

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Triple Murderer could face Death Penalty:  A Washington state man accused of shooting four people, three of them fatally, earlier this month could face the death penalty, prosecutors announced Wednesday.  Jessica Prokop of the Columbian reports that Brent Ward Luyster, 35, who has several white supremacist tattoos and a criminal background, faces three counts of aggravated first-degree murder with the use of a firearm and first- and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm for the July 15 murders of two men and one woman.  Another woman was shot in the side of the face but survived.  Luyster's girlfriend, Andrea Sibley, 27, is charged with first-degree rendering criminal assistance for being present at the time of the shooting, driving Luyster away from the scene and helping him flee the area.  The motive for the crime has not yet been disclosed.  In Washington state, where Gov. Jay Inslee suspended capital punishment in 2014, prosecutors may pursue aggravated murder and the death penalty if any one of 14 aggravating factors apply to the case.  Luyster's case involves two aggravating circumstances: multiple victims and motivation to conceal a crime.

DNC Invites Mike Brown's Mother, but No Relatives of Fallen Officers:  The mother of Michael Brown and other mothers of black men and women who have died during police encounters appeared on stage Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention, angering local and national police groups who didn't see any relatives of fallen police officers present.  Chuck Raasch and Christine Byers of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch report that the inclusion of "Mothers of the Movement" without a presence of relatives of officers killed in the line of duty made police "very concerned" that the choice to include one and not the other may "perpetuate a message of hate that we've seen so often by some of the current movements."  The St. Louis County Police Organization and the St. Louis Police Officers' Association criticized Hillary Clinton and DNC organizers for ignoring families of fallen police officers, saying that the Democratic party is on the wrong side of this issue.  Michael Brown was fatally shot in 2014 by then-Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, prompting the "hands up, don't shoot" lie and galvanizing the Black Lives Matter movement.  A St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict Wilson in the shooting, and an investigation by the Department of Justice found that Wilson was justified in shooting Brown because he reasonably feared for his life as Brown was attempting to attack him. 

Teens in 'Slender Man' Stabbing to be Tried as Adults:  Two 14-year-old girls will be tried as adults for stabbing their friend in order to please the fictional horror character known as the "Slender Man."  Emma Patton of the Washington Times reports that Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier were only 12 at the time of the 2014 attack when they lured their friend, Payton Leutner, into the Wisconsin woods and stabbed her 19 times as homage to the Slender Man, but Leutner miraculously survived.  The myth of the Slender Man was born after he was photoshopped into pictures portraying him as a long, slender, black figure with tentacle-like arms and has since become an internet sensation.  Users of the internet can access games and stories featuring the Slender Man, who does not necessarily participate in killings, but encourages it.  If convicted, Geyser and Weier could face up to 65 years in prison for attempted first-degree intentional homicide.
Probably not.

A liberal precinct in a liberal paper (Wonkblog in the Washington Post), reports some scholarly research:

Lawful gun owners commit less than a fifth of all gun crimes, according to a novel analysis released this week by the University of Pittsburgh.

In the study, led by epidemiologist Anthony Fabio of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health, researchers partnered with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police to trace the origins of all 893 firearms that police recovered from crime scenes in the year 2008.

They found that in approximately 8 out of 10 cases, the perpetrator was not a lawful gun owner but rather in illegal possession of a weapon that belonged to someone else.

The main problem is not the gun, any more than the main problem is the truck in Nice or the knife in Japan or the pressure cooker at the Boston Marathon.  The problem is the fellow using it.


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James Taranto at the WSJ has this column listing some of the reaction to Donald Trump's email comments yesterday.  "Reaction was swift and, we will argue, overwrought."  My take is in this post.  Part of the disagreement is on how you interpret what he said, and there is some room for reasonable disagreement there.  What is most certainly out-of-bounds, though, is the hysterical claim that his comment is treason.

Treason is the only crime defined in the Constitution.  The Framers put the definition there and made it exceedingly narrow to preclude the kind of creative definitions of treason that were instruments of tyranny in England at least as far back as the notorious King Henry VIII.  Here is the American definition:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.
Are we at war with Russia?  Nope.  The treason talk can stop right there.  QED.
We don't need to guess about what liberal policies like widespread sentencing reduction and less proactive policing will do to our citizens, and minorities in particular.  We already have a good deal of evidence.

The most recent is yesterday's story out of a one-party, "progressive" city, Chicago:  "Homicide Rate Surging for Black Chicagoans, Report Finds."  Mayor Rahm Emanuel told us why in a moment of remarkable candor last fall.

Then there's the murder wave overtaking another one-party, "progressive" (and largely black) city, Baltimore. I covered that story a couple of days ago, with special thanks to "space to destroy" Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and "plenty-of-talk-but-no-convictions" State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby.

Then there's the national picture on murder, a picture uglier and more ominous now than it has been for decades.  It is true, as former Attorney General Eric Holder said last night, that "violent crime has gone down since President Obama took office." What Mr. Holder neglected to mention was that (1) it has gone down in significant measure because of policies he, the President, and Hillary Clinton are doing their best to reverse, and (2) since his successor was installed in April 2015, the murder rate in America's largest cities (where blacks tend to be concentrated) has skyrocketed.  If the trend that has been in place since Loretta Lynch took the reins continues, by Christmas, we will have lost six years of gains against violent crime.

If this is what you want for America's future, you know where to throw your support.

News Scan

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Shooting Death of Police Up 78% in 2016:  Preliminary data analysis of law enforcement deaths across the U.S. reveals that the number of officers fatally shot in the line of duty is up 78% this year compared with the same period last year.  Andrea Noble of the Washington Times reports that data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund found that as of July 20, there have been 32 firearms-related deaths recorded, constituting nearly half of the 67 line-of-duty deaths reported by police agencies, while deaths from ambush-style attacks comprised 14 of the fatal shootings.  Previous data shows the number of officers fatally shot has averaged 52 a year and ambush-style killings have ranged from five in 2011 to 15 in 2014.  The "extremely troubling" data comes just weeks after eight police officers, five in Dallas and three in Baton Rouge, were assassinated in separate ambush attacks.

Estimated Prop. 47 Savings all Wrong:  In 2014, California voters were under the impression that by voting for Proposition 47, a measure that reduced crimes such as drug possession and theft from felonies to misdemeanors, there would be "a shift in emphasis from prison to rehabilitation" that would result in savings in "the low hundreds of millions," but it looks as though they have been duped.  Rachel Cohrs of the Sac Bee reports that voters believed that by approving Prop. 47, hundreds of millions of dollars would be saved, and in early 2016, their expectations were reassured by the Legislative Analyst's Office, which projected a savings of approximately $130 million in the previous year.  However, the Department of Finance calculated that, in actuality, savings came in at just $29.3 million.  Even ardent supporters of Prop. 47, such as Aqeela Sherrills, are having trouble understanding why the state started "playing with our money again."

Obama Admin Expands Illegal Immigrant Program:  The Obama administration announced Tuesday of an expansion to its immigration program, inviting thousands of Central Americans to apply for refugee status in the U.S., creating pathways beyond vulnerable children to their parents, adult siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and even caretakers.  Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times reports that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte criticized the move as "a continuation of the government-sanctioned border surge," while Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies, wonders who is paying for illegal immigrants to resettle their entire families, something "no other category of legal immigrant is allowed" to do.  Officials say the expansion could result in a "significant" surge and expect it to be a "lasting" trend.  More than 9,000 applications have been submitted and thousands have already made it through the interview stage. 
Ed O'Keefe, Jose A. DelReal and John Wagner have this article in the WaPo, with a lead paragraph that is typical of what is all over the net:

Democrats prepared to use their convention Wednesday night to raise fresh doubts about Donald Trump's fitness to serve as commander in chief, as the Republican presidential candidate called on Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton's email server to find "missing" messages and release them to the public.
But did he really say that?  His actual statement is in the next two paragraphs:

"Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press," Trump said during a news conference at his South Florida resort on Wednesday.

"They probably have them. I'd like to have them released. It gives me no pause, if they have them, they have them," Trump added later when asked if his comments were inappropriate. "If Russia or China or any other country has those emails, I mean, to be honest with you, I'd love to see them."
As I read that, he is expressing a belief that they already have the emails, having hacked Mrs. Clinton's home-brewed server a long time ago, and he is saying he hopes they release them.  That is a very different thing.

How could he possibly call on Russia to hack into a server that was taken off line and wiped a long time ago?  That doesn't make any sense.
I prefer to read transcripts rather than watch video of events.  It saves a lot of time to skip over the parts I am not interested in and use word search to find the parts I do care about.  Unfortunately, there aren't enough transcripts on the Net.

The problem, though, is that the transcripts that are out there are generally produced by voice-recognition software, and anyone who has ever used voice recognition knows it can get things very wrong.  That is why we still have humans preparing trial transcripts.  The WaPo has this transcript of Donald Trump's press conference this morning, annotated by its not particularly even-handed staff.  The part about colleges costs has an example.

John Hinckley Released

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John Hinckley, who attempted to assassinate President Reagan in March 1981 but was found not guilty by reason of insanity, has been ordered released.  The judge, US District Judge Paul Friedman, found that Hinckley does not pose a danger to others.  One can only hope this prediction is true.  It didn't work out so well with Wendell Callahan.

The Hinckley verdict was not well received, and proved to be the spark for tightening up the insanity defense.  That defense is now seldom tried, and it almost never works.  It's not impossible to hoodwink a jury, but it's not that easy, either. 

Marilyn Mosby Gets the Message

The Baltimore Sun reports this morning:

Prosecutors dropped all remaining charges against three Baltimore police officers accused in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray in a downtown courtroom on Wednesday morning, concluding one of the most high-profile criminal cases in Baltimore history.

The startling move was an apparent acknowledgement of the unlikelihood of a conviction following the acquittals of three other officers on similar and more serious charges by Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams, who was expected to preside over the remaining trials as well.

It also means the office of Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby will secure no convictions in the case after more than a year of dogged fighting, against increasingly heavy odds, to hold someone criminally accountable in Gray's death.

Officer William Porter's trial ended with a hung jury and a mistrial in December, before Williams acquitted Officers Edward Nero and Caesar Goodson and Lt. Brian Rice at bench trials in May, June, and July, respectively.

This was the right thing to do, morally and legally.  The power to prosecute is too potent to be used as a political or social tool.  Legally, the case just wasn't there. And, as a practical matter, Ms. Mosby might have side-stepped a disbarment proceeding as the result of today's exercise in prudence.

Sometimes the obvious stares you in the face.

One of the leading arguments used by death penalty opponents is that capital punishment costs too much.

Let's put to one side the fact that it costs so much mostly because those self-same opponents have spent decades larding it with manufactured procedural delays having nothing to do with either basic fairness or factual guilt.

Aren't the following two sentences a complete answer to the cost argument?

Expense is a reason to be selective and use the death penalty infrequently.  It is no reason to make it legally unavailable, ever. 
Marilyn Mosby fiddles while Baltimore burns:

A man was fatally shot Tuesday morning in West Baltimore, becoming the city's 31st homicide victim this month.

The man, who police have been unable to identify, was killed about 10:13 a.m. in the 2100 block of Garrison Boulevard, north of Gwynns Falls Park, police said.

Prior to the spike in violence last year following the death of Freddie Gray, the city had not recorded 30 homicides in a month since the 1990s. In 2015, the city had five months with more than 30 homicides. July is the first month this year that the city reached that mark.

The people getting killed in this carnage are overwhelmingly, and perhaps exclusively, black.  But "compassion" and "justice" dictate targeting the front line against crime.

Hello!  If black lives actually mattered to Black Lives Matter, I would donate $10,000 to Debbie Wasserman Schultz Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Following up on my post yesterday, here is how not to do it.

News Scan

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Study finds Violent Crime Rising in US Cities:  A new report indicates that violent crime in several major U.S. cities is on the rise.  Wesley Bruer of CNN reports that the Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA) released its midyear violent crime survey on Monday, showing 307 more homicides, over 1,000 more robberies, nearly 2,000 more aggravated assaults and more than 600 non-fatal shootings in 2016 compared to the same period last year.  The Chicago Police Department reported the most significant increase in homicides, with 316 so far this year, a 48% increase over last year, while the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department reported 110 homicides so far this year, compared to 85 in 2015, and San Jose's homicides more than doubled.  The MCCA is made up of police chiefs and sheriffs representing the 68 largest law enforcement agencies in the country.  The latest survey included data reported from 51 law enforcement agencies.

'Purge' Murder Suspect will face Death Penalty:  Prosecutors announced Tuesday that they will seek the death penalty against an Indiana man who murdered three people during a four-day crime spree two months ago.  WISH-TV reports that Johnathan Cruz is accused of murdering three men between May 12 and May 15 in what prosecutors allege were "killings for sport" inspired by "The Purge," a 2013 film in which the government allows its citizens to commit any crime without fear of prosecution on one night each year.  During the crime spree, Cruz and another man also committed armed robbery.  He was arrested May 16 on separate charges of criminal confinement, intimidation and battery.  Cruz faces a total of 17 charges, including nine counts of murder, as well as a gang enhancement.

CT Murderer Resentenced:  A man on Connecticut's death row has had his sentence commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Tuesday because of last year's ruling by the state Supreme Court to abolish the death penalty.  The AP reports that Joshua Komisarjevsky, was given six consecutive life terms for the 2007 home invasion murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11.  Komisarjevsky and another man, Steven Hayes, beat Hawke-Petit's husband, Dr. William Petit Jr., and left him bound in the basement before terrorizing Hawke-Petit and her daughters for hours.  Komisarjevsky and Hayes sexually assaulted them, then tied Hayley and Michaela to their beds and set the house on fire.  The sisters died of smoke inhalation and Hawke-Petit was strangled to death by Hayes.  Dr. Petit survived the horror and escaped from the basement while the house was on fire.  Hayes, who was also on death row for the murders, was resentenced last month.  Komisarjevsky's resentencing makes him the third Connecticut death row inmate to have his sentence changed to life in prison since the state's high court ruled it unconstitutional last year.  There are eight other condemned inmates awaiting resentencing.

Convicted Murderer Suspected in Cellmate's Death:  A California inmate serving time for murder has been named as a suspect in the death of his cellmate at Kern Valley State Prison in Delano.  Brian Rokos of the Press Enterprise reports that Joseph David Dorsey, 31, is suspected of slaying Jason M. Christner, 39, who was found unresponsive in his cell last Thursday and pronounced dead less than 30 minutes later.  Christner had been serving time for burglary as well as additional time for in-custody convictions of battery and assault with a deadly weapon.  Dorsey is in prison for the 2012 strangling death of his girlfriend, Christine Osborn-Stewart, 47, for which he was sentenced 56 years to life in 2013.  He is currently in the prison's Administrative Segregation Unit pending investigation into Christner's death.
Habeas corpus is the correct procedure for persons who claim they are wrongly imprisoned.  For any other civil rights claim in federal court by a state prisoner, the correct procedure is a suit under the civil rights law, 42 U.S.C. §1983.  The line between the two is not always clear.

Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, sitting sort of en banc, decided Nettles v. Grounds, No. 12-16935:

Damous Nettles, a prisoner serving a life sentence in California prison, appeals the district court's dismissal of his habeas petition for lack of jurisdiction. The petition challenged a disciplinary violation on constitutional grounds and claimed that the failure to expunge this violation from his record could affect his eligibility for parole. We conclude that because Nettles's claim does not fall within the "core of habeas corpus," Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 487(1973), it must be brought, if at all, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
Judge Ikuta wrote the opinion, joined in full by Judges Rawlinson, Clifton, Callahan, and Randy Smith.  Judge Hurwitz concurred in part.  Judge Berzon dissented, joined by Chief Judge Thomas and Judges Fletcher, Murguia, and Nguyen.
The Wall Street Journal carries an article of considerable concern.  It's titled, "Murders Rise in 29 of the Largest Cities in First Half of 2016."  It starts:

The number of murders in 29 of the nation's largest cities rose during the first six months of the year, according to the results of a survey released by the Major Cities Chiefs Association on Monday.

Overall, homicides jumped 15% in the 51 large cities that submitted crime data, compared with the same year-ago period. 

The article notes that the 15% figure is artificially high to some extent because of Chicago's out-of-control violent crime and the gruesome Jihadist attack in Orlando. What it fails to note is that murder rose by 17% in the 50 largest cities last year. An increase of 17% in 2015, combined with (even an inflated) increase of 15% so far in 2016, is shocking.  There's no other way to put it.

Shocking, that is, unless, like the Major Cities Chiefs  --  an overwhelmingly liberal group that marches arm-in-arm with the Brennan Center  --  you have a stake in minimizing the problem.

Two Events, Juxtaposed

Today was revealing about the place of policing in this country.

As Kent noted, it saw the naming of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake as the first featured office holder to speak at the Democratic National Convention.  Ms. Rawlings-Blake has presided over three quite notable episodes during her tenure: the Freddie Gray riots, in which she directed the police to stand down; an ensuing huge increase in the number of murders in her city; and what at this point must be considered a largely concocted case against six police officers, not one of whom has been convicted of anything.

As this was going on, Baton Rouge buried Montrell Jackson, the last of three policemen to be gunned down in a staged attack eight days ago. To my knowledge, neither Ms. Rawlings-Blake nor any other Convention speaker mentioned Jackson, his murder, or his funeral.
Wow.  You can't make this stuff up.

The DNC chair got the ax when hacked emails definitively proved what just about everyone paying attention pretty much knew -- that she was using the party apparatus to favor one primary candidate over the other.  We didn't think it warranted mention on this blog.

But who is the substitute convention opener?  It is none other than the notorious Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the one who said as her city was burning:

It's a very delicate balancing act because while we try to make sure that they were protected from the cars and the other things that were going on, we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well, and we work very hard to keep that balance and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate.
She quickly blamed others for supposedly mischaracterizing her words, saying she did not mean what she plainly said.

One foolish statement would not have been so bad if she had followed up by doing everything right after that, but the City of Baltimore has not.  Closer to the opposite, and it has the crime to prove it.

If the Democratic Party wanted to make this election all about who is on the criminals' side and who is on the law-abiding people's side, with themselves being the wrong side, it could hardly have chosen a more effective face to put forward to open its convention.

And just to be very, very clear, there is no balance to be struck with free speech when a full-blown riot is in progress.   Government can constitutionally put "time, place, and manner" limits on speech to serve important interests, and peaceful protests can be postponed until peace is restored.

News Scan

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Manson Follower Denied Parole:  California Gov. Jerry Brown denied parole last week for a former Charles Manson follower convicted in the murder of two grocers nearly five decades ago.  The LA Daily News reports that Leslie Van Houten, 66, was recommended for parole in April by a state parole board, but Brown rejected it on Friday, writing in his decision that "she currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison."  Charles Manson and several of his followers have repeatedly been denied parole over the years, Van Houten included, this latest denial being her 20th.  Van Houten was convicted of murder and conspiracy in the 1969 stabbing deaths of Leno La Bianca, 44, and his wife Rosemary, 38, with two fellow Manson family members.  She was initially sentenced to death but was re-sentenced to life in prison without parole after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional in 1972.

Pending Illegal Immigration Cases at All-Time High:  Pending cases in the U.S. immigration courts have reached an all-time high, with nearly 500,000 cases backlogged and in the hands of just 273 immigration lawyers.  Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner reports that Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse revealed that at the end of June, the backlog of pending immigration cases climbed to 496,704, up from 456,216 nine months ago and 408,037 two years ago.  The staggering number of pending cases produces a ratio of 1,819 cases per judge.  Currently, it takes almost two years -- 672 days -- for an immigration case to reach court.  Illegal immigrants are allowed to remain in the country while awaiting their court dates, which several reports have shown they rarely make.

TX Sheriff Shot Dead at Home:  A Texas sheriff's deputy was fatally shot in his backyard early Monday in what appears to be an attempted robbery.  CBS reports that Travis County Sgt. Craig Hutchinson, a 36-year veteran, used his police radio at about 1:30 a.m. to report that people were in his backyard, and was discovered dead moments later by investigators.  Multiple suspects are being sought, though no arrests have been made.  Authorities say there is evidence indicative of an attempted robbery of Hutchinson's backyard shed, and doesn't look to be an ambush targeting him as a law enforcement officer as seen in the killing of Dallas and Baton Rouge officers earlier this month.
Databases are all to the good  --  if you take the time to look behind the data. Unfortunately, people in the press and academia have become experts at putting out "databases," then citing them for a distorted rendition of what they actually show. They do this knowing that only a fraction of readers will get beyond the article's first few paragraphs.

Hence this story:

Baton Rouge cop killer Gavin Eugene Long and others who have killed police officers in the line of duty are included in The Washington Post's Pulitzer Prize-award winning "Fatal Force" database, a review conducted by The Daily Caller finds.

The database also counts Omar Mateen, the Islamist who was killed by police in Orlando after slaughtering 49 people at a gay nightclub, as one of the 533 people killed by cops so far this year.

The database, which includes demographics of individuals fatally shot by police as well as details about their background and the circumstances of the shooting, has been touted by reporters and activists for filling in a gap left by the FBI's limited statistics.

But the database -- which counted 990 police shooting victims last year -- is often cited by activists without the important context that many of the people killed by police officers deserved it.


Fear Mongering

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In May of 2011, about two weeks after Governor Brown signed legislation (AB109 ie. Public Safety Realignment) allowing the early release of thousands of state prison inmates, Associate Justice Alito wrote a dissent in the Supreme Court case of Brown v. Plata noting that the "premature release of approximately 46,000 criminals, the equivalent of three Army gambling with the safety of the people of California."  When the law took effect in October of that year, CJLF began reporting on the significant number of of violent crimes being committed by criminals released into California counties by the inmate release law.  These reports were dismissed by supporters of Realignment and some think tanks.  Examples include a May 29 OpEd in the Sacramento Bee by former California Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg who wrote " A year ago we heard fear-mongering voices warning of dangerous criminals being released."  She boasted that the law has successfully reduced the state prison population and criminals on parole "without a spike in crime."   Later FBI numbers indicated that both violent and property crime in California did spike in 2012,  leveled off in 2013, increased slightly in 2014 and then spiked by 13% over the first six months of last year.  This after nearly two decades of declining crime rates.   
Appellate courts often edit their opinions after release, and usually the edits are not substantive.  The U.S. Supreme Court used to make the changes quietly, without any public notice that a change had been made.  That changed this term.  Adam Liptak has this story at the NYT on the change and its implications.

When you look up an opinion on the Internet, which version are you getting?

Writing for the majority in a case about domestic assault on Indian reservations, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had said a federal law applied to some serious crimes "when both perpetrator and victim are Indians." But what the law itself actually said, quite clearly, was that it applied to all victims, Indians or not.
*                       *                     *
The mistake in the domestic-assault case was fairly minor. Nothing in the ruling turned on it, and the error was unlikely to mislead lower courts even had it gone uncorrected, given that the statute it described was clear.

That is lucky, as the unrevised version was still all over the web as of Sunday, on respected sites like Scotusblog, Legal Information Institute, Findlaw and Justia.

I'm not sure about that "unlikely."  The U.S. Supreme Court's position in our legal system is such that even the most ill-considered and obvious obiter dicta can cause damage.

Here at C&C, when we discuss a recent Supreme Court opinion we will generally link to the version on Court's own site, where any changes will be reflected. 

Should Marilyn Mosby Be Disbarred?

Al Regnery presents a strong case in behalf of the petition to disbar Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby.  The points he makes below bear particular emphasis:

[Ms.] Mosby has done enormous damage to the jurisdiction that entrusted her with [her] office. First is the staggering increase in crime in Baltimore since the Freddie Gray incident - much of it attributable to the "Ferguson effect" of police reluctance to put themselves in danger of prosecution. She has also made it more difficult for other prosecutors to bring difficult cases, since she has generated distrust and suspicion of the justice system among her constituents. Even beyond that, however, is the damage she has done, and continues to do to the justice system itself, which relies on public trust and reliance, by the people affected by it, that it is run professionally, without bias, and without political interference.

The second and third points are especially telling, because they go to the long term, and thus less visible, consequences of Ms. Mosby's behavior.

The BLM movement often warns us that the system lacks the people's trust.  But I hear nothing from it when the most basic form of trust the public needs in prosecutors  --  that politics is out and law is in  --  is dumped over the side, replaced by a floridly political approach to wielding this awesome power.

Battling It Out on Sentencing Reform

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In my view, the battle over federal sentencing "reform" for this session of Congress has ended in victory for those of us wanting to preserve the gains the county has made in suppressing crime.

But since almost nothing gets permanently settled in this town, my adversaries will be back.  One of the best of them is Mark Holden, General Counsel of Koch Industries.  His op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune (lauding, among others, Sen. Mike Lee) is here.

My response was printed last Friday in the Deseret News, and can be found here.

Mark and I have more areas of agreement than disagreement, however, and I look forward to working with him and Koch Industries for significant mens rea reform, to insure that ordinary businessmen and landowners do not get sent to prison for behavior a normal person would not know is wrong, much less criminal.

Hillary Falls Behind

Donald Trump got significant help from the Convention.  This has not happened in the CNN poll since the 2000 elections.  The lead of CNN's story follows the break.

Allahu Akbar, Once Again

When I first saw the CNN coverage of the Munich massacre this afternoon, I noticed that the broadcasters went out of their way, with exactly zero evidence, to suggest that the killer might have been a right wing extremist, not a Jihadist.

Tonight's CNN story has this buried after the tenth paragraph:

A witness who will only be identified as Lauretta told CNN her son was in a bathroom with a shooter at the restaurant.

"That's where he loaded his weapon," she said. "I hear like an alarm and boom, boom, boom... And he's still killing the children. The children were sitting to eat. They can't run."

Lauretta said she heard the gunman say, "Allahu Akbar," or God is great. "I know this because I'm Muslim. I hear this and I only cry." 

Still, at least the network was honest enough to report:

Many children were among the casualties. Police said 16 people remain hospitalized.

The shooting comes as recent terror attacks have put Europe on high alert.

This week, a teenager who said he was inspired by ISIS stabbed passengers on a German train before police shot him dead. Only eight days earlier, 84 people were killed when a man drove a large truck through a Bastille Day crowd in Nice, France.

If Donald Trump wins the election, those who will be most frantic might want to reconsider their years of complacent, tongue-clucking-and-teddy-bears "plan" for confronting Jihad.

Do Black Lives Matter More to Trump?

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Heather MacDonald has a post-Trump acceptance speech wrap-up in the City Journal that suggests that The Donald's remarks reflect a stronger interest in preserving black lives than the President, Hillary Clinton, the media or the Black Lives Matter movement itself.  "As Trump said: "[Y]oung Americans in Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, Ferguson . . . have as much of a right to live out their dreams as any other child America." Hint to the media: He was referring to black children in those cities, such as the ten children under the age of ten killed in Baltimore last year; the nine-year-old girl fatally shot while doing homework on her mother's bed in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2015; and the nine-year-old boy in Chicago lured into an alley and killed by his father's gang enemies in November 2015, writes MacDonald.  
Kent wrote here about Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe's blanket order restoring the voting rights of about 200,000 felons in that state.  This afternoon, the Virginia Supreme Court nullified McAuliffe's order.

Full participation in democracy is, in the abstract, a good thing.  And doing what we can to bring back into the system felons who understand the wrongfulness of their behavior and have corrected it is part of that.  Restoring the vote for those who continue to believe (and, often, to act) as if law is for other people, and rules are for suckers, is a different matter. That would certainly seem to be more an abuse than a use of this aspect of executive power.

At the end of the story linked above, Gov. McAuliffe is reported to have said he would effectively defy any court order contrary to his liking:  "I will sign 206,000 orders. They will have their rights back that day."

He is welcome to proceed, as far as I'm concerned.  Signing 206,000 orders in a day will obviously reflect exactly the mass "consideration" the Court forbade today, and thus will earn McAuliffe a contempt citation.

UPDATE:  As the first commenter points out, I failed correctly to link the WTOP story.  I apologize for this error, which I have rectified.  That said, the story states, as I quoted, "I will sign 206,000 orders. They will have their rights back that day."  In other words, it makes crystal  clear that McAuliffe intends to attempt to do by poorly disguised indirection what the Court has forbidden, to wit, grant a mass  pardon.

Cheever Follow-Up

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Today's News Scan notes the affirmance by the Kansas Supreme Court of the death sentence of Scott Cheever for the murder of Sheriff Matt Samuels in the performance of his duty.

This case was decided on remand from the United States Supreme Court.  The first time out, the Kansas Supreme Court reversed the conviction.   That court found a Fifth Amendment violation in the requirement that Cheever submit to a mental examination when he claimed a "mental disease or defect" defense.  The U.S. Supreme Court reversed unanimously in an opinion by Justice Sotomayor.  CJLF filed an amicus brief in the case.

On the first round, the Kansas Supreme Court considered only the penalty phase issues likely to arise on retrial because the case was going to be retried anyway.  On remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, they needed to consider in full whether to affirm the penalty.

One of the issues was whether the defendant was entitled to an instruction that the defendant need not prove his mitigating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt.  The Kansas court had held that the Eighth Amendment requires this, but that holding was reversed last January by the U.S. Supreme Court in Kansas v. Carr.  CJLF also filed a brief in that case.  The state court can, and did, hold that the instruction is still required by state law.  However, because Cheever did not request the instruction a different standard of review applies, and the absence of the instruction was not so detrimental as to require reversal in this case.

Affirmance of this entirely just sentence is a good result, but long overdue.  It took so long because the Kansas Supreme Court erroneously decided two issues of federal constitutional law.  Kansas has the worst system of any state for appointing Supreme Court judges -- the State Bar is the gatekeeper to the bench -- and it shows.  Reform of this process should be top priority in that state.

The Law and Order Candidate

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When was the last time a presidential candidate made law and order the lead theme of his acceptance speech?  I can't remember.  The reason it has been so long is that we were so successful in bringing down crime rates that the issue dropped off of voters' radar screens.  It's back.

The Trump campaign has released a helpfully annotated text of the speech.  The facts on crime are substantially correct, regardless of what the WaPo fact checkers say.  I may have more to say on that later.  Here are some key lines.

The most basic duty of government is to defend the lives of its own citizens. Any government that fails to do so is a government unworthy to lead.
Yup, I've been saying that for some time.

News Scan

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KS High Court Upholds Death Sentence:  The Kansas Supreme Court upheld on Friday the capital murder conviction and death sentence of a man who gunned down a sheriff during a drug raid over a decade ago.  Amy Renee Leiker of the Wichita Eagle reports that the state's high court rejected Scott Cheever's claims that two errors occurred during the guilt-phase of his trial.  In January 2005, Cheever fatally shot Greenwood County sheriff Matt Samuels as he attempted to serve an arrest warrant on drug charges.  Cheever, 34, was convicted in 2007 of capital murder for Samuels' death, four counts of attempted capital murder for firing at other officers, criminal possession of a firearm and manufacturing methamphetamine, and was sentenced to death.  The case prompted law changes, known as the Matt Samuels Act, that made it harder to purchase ingredients used in making meth, including some allergy medications.  Cheever's death sentence is the second to be affirmed by the Kansas Supreme Court.  No one has been executed in the state since 1965.

Overall Crime up in L.A. for 2nd Straight Year:  The Los Angeles Police Department is reporting an increase in overall crime at the year's midpoint, for the second consecutive year.  Ben Poston and Kate Mather of the LA Times reports that through July 16, overall crime rose 6.3% when compared to the same point last year, with violent crime spiking 15.9% and property crime increasing by 3.8%.  Of the violent crimes, the largest increases were aggravated assaults, jumping 19.2%, and robberies, jumping 16.8%.  LAPD Chief Charlie Beck says that although some improvements have been observed since implementing new strategies in March, such as shifting more officers to the four South L.A. divisions with the highest crime rates and moving in Metro officers, he contends that his department is struggling to rein in property offenses, strong-arm robberies and aggravated assaults.  He also notes that violent and property crime totals have steadily climbed citywide since March even though the changes have resulted in decreases in some crimes.  The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department also reported an 8.4% rise in violent crime and a 6.8% jump in property crime through the end of June.  Officials have cited a variety of factors believed to be attributing the the problem, including gang violence, a rising homeless population and Proposition 47.

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