Monday, May 23, 2005
There's more and more on the CSI Effect; juries expecting forensic evidence in routine cases. Here are reports from the Washington Post; The Scotsman; Newhouse News Service; our old post. On the one hand, there is no point in gathering a bunch of evidence in a case where guilty is certain and the defendant is going to plead guilty anyway. On the other, the CSI Effect arises only in the rare case where the defendant insists on a jury trial. In such instances, when fingerprints or DNA tests could be done but are not, juries are 100% correct to conclude that the prosecution and police chose not to put resources into working up the case. [Jack Chin]
Sunday, May 22, 2005
Indiana's Governor, Mitch Daniels, is facing an unprecedented question--should I grant a death row inmate reprieve so he can donate his liver to his dying sister? Gregory Scott Johnson is scheduled to die by lethal injection on May 25 for a 1985 murder of an 82 year-old woman, and his sister, a 48-year old mother and grandmother, is in severe need of a liver. Although tests to determine the compatibility of Johnson's liver with his sister's needs haven't yet been conducted, Johnson hopes that by donating the liver, he can finally give something "positive to society." According to Indiana's Deputy Attorney General Steve Creason, the State hasn't taken a formal opinion of how it will handle Johnson's request. But Eric Meslin, a director of Indiana University's Center for Bioethics, articulated the dilemma this poses for the State: "You can't donate a liver before you die, because that would kill you and that gets in the way of the state killing you," he said. "And you can't donate organs after you die, because the method of execution would render the organs unusable." Johnson's attorney, Michelle Kraus, explained that instead of actually removing Johnson's liver, and thus interfering in the state's execution of Johnson, doctors could use the "split liver transplant" method, which removes a piece of the liver and uses it to regenerate a healthy liver. The donor's liver regenerates, as well. So Johnson could recover in the two week to two month period typically required to recuperate from the procedure, and eventually be "healthy enough to be put to death." More from the AP's report...
UPDATE: The Indiana Parole Board rejects the request. Governor has the final say. [Mark Godsey]>
From the AP: "NEW YORK (AP) _ A Manhattan judge has dismissed a forcible touching
charge filed against a man who patted a woman's buttocks, ruling that a
mere pat on the rear, even if unwanted, does not rise to the level of
that crime. The
forcible touching statute requires a person to do more than "touch
quickly and gently with the flat of the hand," said Criminal Court
Judge Richard M. Weinberg, citing the definition of "pat" from The New
Oxford English Dictionary. He said the statute's forcible touching
language requires "squeezing, grabbing or pinching."
The law is not limited to those types of touching, he said, but its use of the word "forcible" implies that a pat does not qualify. The judge issued his ruling, made public Wednesday, in the case of Mohammed Nuruzzaman, 36, a Manhattan fabric store employee. Nuruzzaman was accused of twice touching a female customer's rear while she shopped in the store, at 227 W. 40th St., on Nov. 2, 2004. Nuruzzaman was charged with forcible touching, third-degree sex abuse and second-degree harassment. A complaint says he touched the customer, a student, without her consent and with intent to degrade or abuse her, causing her annoyance and alarm. The judge noted that the state Legislature passed the Sexual Reform Act of 2000, which created the crime of forcible touching, in response to the widespread sexual assaults that occurred in Central Park following that year's Puerto Rican Day parade. "The plain language of (the law) makes clear that something more than mere touching is required under the statute," the judge wrote. Referring again to his dictionary, he said "forcible" connotes something "done by force, vigorous and strong and powerful."" Story . . . [Mark Godsey]