Saturday, January 28, 2006
The workers who built a tunnel between the U.S. and Mexico could be in danger of retaliation from Medican drug gangs, says DHS. They don't say why, exactly, but perhaps the idea is that the gangs will assume that someone involved ratted. U.S. authorities urge those who built the tunnel to turn themselves in.
The Washington Supreme Court is considering a challenge to a police ruse used to get DNA which proved that the tarket was a murderer. The cops pretended to be lawyers, a crime under state law, and got the target to lick an envelope supposedly related to information in a class action law suit. [Jack Chin]
Los Angeles has renamed the public school, formerly Mt. Vernon Middle School, to Johnnie Cochran Middle School, in honor of the late criminal defense attorney who attended the school as a boy. The school's subtitle isn't really "If you don't stay in school, you're uncool," but teachers should feel free to throw around catchy phrases as they see fit. After all, Johnnie loved those catchy phrases, and they seemed to work for him too. [Mark Godsey]
Maryland death row inmate Vernon Lee Evans, Jr. has been running a blog, Meet Vernon, since March 2005. Although Evans doesn't have internet access, an anti-death penalty activist who established the blog, forwards Evans the questions, to which he responds with answers and advice. The blog was temporarily closed in June 2005 to avoid harming Evans' legal prospects. But now with his execution date set for the week of February 6, 2006, he is making efforts to have responses posted to a backlog of comments and questions. Blogs from behind bars are the latest and one of the most novel strategies anti-death penalty activists are using to humanize death row inmates. Story from the Washington Post. . . [Mark Godsey]
Friday, January 27, 2006
From CNN.com: "CONROE, Texas (AP) -- A man who spent 18 years in prison for sexual assault was freed Thursday after DNA evidence exonerated him, and his brother admitted responsibility for the attack. DNA testing was not available at Arthur Mumphrey's 1986 trial for the rape of a 13-year-old girl, but recent tests requested by his attorney showed Mumphrey's blood and saliva samples did not match stains on the victim and her clothes...Prosecutor Marc Brumberger apologized to Mumphrey. "We feel terrible about what happened to you," he said. Mumphrey's brother, Charles, confessed to the rape this week while serving time in jail for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. He is unlikely to face charges in the sexual assault because the statute of limitations has expired, but the information could be used against him in sentencing if he is convicted of another crime and if DNA results support the confession." [Mark Godsey]
Here is a commentary from Findlaw.com's Sherry Colb on the execution of Clarence Ray Allen, the California inmate, who sought clemency from Gov. Schwarzenegger on the grounds that he had become old and infirm. Ultimately, Schwarzenegger denied his request. The article includes a parellel to the forbidden practice of executing the mentally incompetent, and a comparison between the execution of Allen and the execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams, the Crips co-founder executed in California on December 13, 2005. [Mark Godsey]
From The Recorder: "Crime victims must be given a chance to literally have their say in court before sentencing, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week. By granting a rare writ of mandamus, the court cleared up confusion surrounding the Crime Victims' Rights Act, a 2004 federal law that establishes "the right to be reasonably heard" during sentencing." More. . . [Mark Godsey]
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Drug smugglers on the Texas-Mexico border were able to escape with the assistance of armed men wearing Mexican military uniforms. Mexican authorities claim they were imposters; others say it is possible they were real soldiers in the pay of narcotrafficantes. Border Patrol records show that actual Mexican military units frequently come to the U.S. illegally--4 times this year.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
"In Virginia, court-appointed attorneys earn $90 an hour for criminal cases, but payments stop after a set number of hours, which varies depending on what their client is charged with." These caps make Virginia the state paying the least to court appointed defense attorneys. Story from NACDL.com. . . [Mark Godsey]
Executions by the federal government are on the rise. The number carried out by the federal governement since November 1988 (the date when the federal death penalty was reinstated) is set to double this May, with executions scheduled for May 9, May 10, and May 12. Although the federal death penalty was reinstated to combat drug trafficking (with the Drug Kingpin Act), the federal government has since expanded its jurisdiction, adding over 50 capital crimes, most unrelated to fighting drug trafficking. These federal capital crimes include kidnapping resulting in death, murder for hire, fatal drive-by shootings, sexual abuse crimes resulting in death, fatal carjackings or aircraft hijackings and sending materials through the mail with the intent of killing.
Since Timothy McVeigh's execution, only two others have been executed for federal crimes, with the last federal execution taking place in 2003. Currently there are 41 people on federal death row, 24 of whom are black. More from MSNBC.com. . . [Mark Godsey]
From CNN.com: "NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AP) -- A state grand jury will investigate several controversies involving police in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans District Attorney Eddie Jordan announced Wednesday. Among the allegations the panel will explore are reports of New Orleans police taking cars from a Cadillac dealership and the shooting deaths of two suspected snipers. The grand jury will be the first impaneled here since Hurricane Katrina hit August 29, 2005." Story. . . [Mark Godsey]
From CNN.com: WASHINGTON (AP): The Supreme Court issued a last-minute stay late Tuesday to a Florida death row inmate, Clarence Hill, who claimed he was mentally retarded and should not be executed for killing a police officer. The court could still lift the stay and allow Florida to move ahead with the execution. Story. . . [Mark Godsey] UPDATE: The Court granted review of this case, set argument for April 26.
The Miami-Dade officer wasn't shooting blanks, but the unnamed passenger in this case may be shooting blanks for life. An investigation is under way after the officer shot a man in the groin during a traffic stop Tuesday morning. The officer thought the man was reaching for a gun and fired. No word as to what object the passenger was actually reaching for. Story. . . [Mark Godsey]