Monday, January 08, 2007

Politics of Crime

This qualifies for politics of crime (even if it's not habeas stuff which is the more keenly honed edge on this blog), as does the following item from Prof. Berman.
The President can do no wrong, except if his name was Nixon, in which case he gets pardoned, or if his name was Clinton, in which case he gets impeached. The real question:

does the issuance of the signing statement for this technical amendment simply signal the Bush Administration's unusual overreliance on signing statements — so much that they would make a statement to restate existing law even when the paragraph is just moved from one place to another — or does it hint at a previously unknown Administration's practice?*** It may be that this signing statement is nothing, and it just reveals the Administration's willingness to issue signing statements about everything. On the other hand, it may be that it hints at a program allowing the government to open postal mail under the claimed authority of the AUMF.

More by Orin Kerr here.

Prof. Berman lays this one out in the flats (not the ones out west, near where those Casinos are):
The over/under on tonight's big game right now is set at 46. Were I a betting man, I would take the over. But if 46 was set as an over/under for the number of executions in the United States in 2007, I probably would take the under. *** But, as spotlighted by ODPI in posts here and here, the death penalty landscape is probably more impacted by evolving political realities than legal issues. If elected officials (including state judges) discover they can disrupt marches to death chambers without serious political fall-out, there could be amazingly few executions (except perhaps in Texas) throughout 2007.

Who can take this one in for the TD?

Nothing good can come of this, then too I could be wrong. Scot Henson just reminded me of this one (the Texas Panetti SCOTUS cert), from Prof. Berman. Here Scot spotlights another innocence issue:

Whitley quotes Vanessa Potkin, chief counsel of The Innocence Project at Cardozo Law School, who points out that "no other county in the country beats Dallas. It’s a county that beats out most states in the country. It’s an indication of a system that needs reform.""So why is Dallas having such staggering numbers of the innocent put in prison?," queries Whitley. "One clue: Potkin says that almost all of those exonerated were convicted with eyewitness testimony that proved to be wrong. 'And these cases are recent, not from the ’80s,' she says."

No wonder so many innocent people are sitting in Texas prisons. The eyewitnesses are "wrong"? That sounds more than just a little "feeshy to mee." Scot assumes that the "eyewitnesses" are not subject to coercion (there are some things that best practices cannot cure) whereas IMO coercion is precisely where, and how, Texas is going wrong in obtaining its convictions.

Lot more goodies here on alternatives to prison, from Scot,

and here, victim advocates oppose "tuffer" penalties (truly amazing, if it did not make so much sense). My earlier post about hearts and heads here.

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