Sunday, June 29, 2008
Not very surprisingly, the decision was “no bolt out of the blue” according to the majority. The minority (Justice Scalia for one) strove mightily to instill fear, the fear of deaths of more Americans, as a direct result of the decision.
Curious, how justices can disagree so drastically on the nature of a notion of what it means to live, and govern, under the rule of law.
What one hand giveth, the other taketh away: By contrast to the sharp division in the Guantánamo case, the court was unanimous in another case on the availability of habeas corpus. It rejected the Bush administration’s argument that two United States citizens facing criminal charges in Iraq, and held in that country by the American military, could not seek federal court review of their detention. The two were entitled to file habeas corpus petitions, Chief Justice Roberts wrote for the court in Munaf v. Geren, No. 06-1666. Proceeding to the merits of the petitions, the court ordered them dismissed on the ground that holding the men while awaiting further action by the Iraqi authorities did not violate their rights.
The Times counts five access to courts decisions deserving of mention.
Of the ten criminal cases deserving mention, two involved sentencing after Blakely: Gall v. United States, No. 06-7949, (upheld a trial judge’s refusal to impose prison time on a young drug offender, despite the sentence of 30 to 36 months called for by the guidelines), AND Kimbrough v. United States, No. 06-6330 (the court upheld a lower sentence for a man convicted of a crack cocaine offense than the guidelines called for under a formula that treated crimes involving crack cocaine much more harshly than those involving cocaine in its powdered form. Justice Ginsburg wrote the opinion. Both cases were decided by the same 7-to-2 alignment, with Justices Thomas and Scalia dissenting). Others involved the lethal injection challenge, death penalty for rape of a child, money laundering, and another had implications for international law.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
And then, updating the topic there is this from Grits, who is devoted to the topic, on something as mundane as a data entry error that caused SCOTUS to have to weigh in. That would be the Rothgery decision (the opinion is at the link) from the current Supreme Court term. Here is analysis from Grits:
What's the significance? In the past, a defendant was not entitled to counsel at their bail hearing unless they couldn't make bond or bail was denied. In that case they had counsel appointed fairly quickly. But in the case where a defendant makes bond but also requests a lawyer, Texas courts previously held the defendant could not get a court appointed lawyer until they were indicted, leaving indigent defendants for weeks in limbo with no legal adviser. Now SCOTUS has said courts must appoint counsel for indigent defendants at their bail hearing.PREVIOUS POST ON TOPIC:
That's how most other states do it; Texas had just been skimping by not appointing counsel earlier. According to the opinion, "The Court is advised without contradiction that not only the Federal Government, including the District of Columbia, but 43 States take the first step toward appointing counsel before, at, or just after initial appearance. To the extent the remaining 7 States have been denying appointed counsel at that time, they are a distinct minority."
Here is my earlier verbose-but-important post on Rothgery.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
UPDATE: More on Texas "yo yo" justice as applied to - well, matters of life and death, here.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
And if people believed they would be caught for murder, they are less likely to commit it. The fact of the matter is that deterrence proponents, much like economists, are full of shit. Crime, like much economic activity, doesn't occur because people rationally weigh costs and benefits. A central premise of your argument is a pure fiction. Sure, your program may cause movement at the margins, but why should I listen to somebody promising misery for millions in exchange for, at the most, negligible returns? Your program tolerates the perpetual creation of crime victims.
Contrary to posters above, we do in fact know why crime occurs and we do in fact know how to substantially reduce it (as opposed to marginally reduce it). There is a reason the U.S. has so much more crime than other industrial nations, and it is not, of course, because we are too fair and lenient--as would have to be the case were we to buy the snake oil you're selling about deterrence. Our society, the richest in the world in absolute terms, has abandoned a large segment of our population to utter squalor, some of the poorest in the world.
Bill Otis wrote: "It is not up to the government to preemptively control its citizens so that they do not commit crime. It is up to people to control THEMSELVES to conform to the law and not to cheat, rob, bully, etc. their neighbors. When they are unwilling to do that, the fault does not lie with the rest of the world."
No, it lies with those who use their disproportionate power within the society to systematically deprive large segments of people of the means and resources (including, e.g., health care, stable employment with a living wage, and stable housing) to effectively govern themselves. Those countries that do a better job in this respect unsurprisingly have less crime. It's not rocket science. It really isn't.
I completely agree that deterrence is give far too much weight. Very very few actually calculate the probability of being caught, and then how much punishment they would receive, prior to committing crimes. Food for thought: why do we systematically impress so large a portion of Americans into a life of squalor and poverty? It surely is not because we are not a poor nation...
Can this be a topic of the next empirical research project?
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Also, here is Sen. Cornyn of Texas regarding children, and how to protect them, from an op ed in Southeast Texas Record. Two points, Senator, with respect. One. The following is old fashioned fear mongering: "Local, state and federal government must be vigilant as technology makes some crimes easier;" and, in "Texas has been at the forefront in modern efforts to protect children," considering the first subject of this post, the phrase "screwing up efforts to protect children" should be in your statement somewhere.
The only thing about which the Senator and I could agree is the following, "there is no substitute for loving, caring and alert family members. I wonder how the family members of the FLDS children, wrongly deprived of their parental rights by force, feel about this? On how many other occasions has Texas gotten it wrong, but parents were too overwhelmed, poor, or uneducated to be able to assert their rights in court?
Increase the budget for the state in this area, and watch in horror the numbers of families wrongly torn apart increase in proportion.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Is it us?