"And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God"
-- Micah 6:8

"The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict."
-- American Bar Association Standard 3-1.2(c)

"There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
--Pope Benedict XVI, June 2004

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Once to Be Rendered Harmless Permanently, Inmate Released from Death Row

Death Row inmate walks out of prison... Paula Cooper and her co defendants,
After smoking marijuana and drinking wine, ... went to the home of Bible teacher Ruth Pelke, 78, armed with a knife. Cooper struck Pelke with a vase, cut her arms and legs, then stabbed her in the chest and stomach 33 times, according to Indiana court records.Cooper was 16 at the time, and was sentenced to death by a judge known to be opposed to capital punishment.
After 27 years in prison, Cooper left prison today.

Ms. Cooper first benefited from a SCOTUS opinion that executing juveniles somehow violated the 8th Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments, and then:
Indiana legislators passed a state law raising the minimum age limit for execution from 10 years to 16, and in 1988, the state's high court set Cooper's death sentence aside.
Instead, she was ordered to serve 60 years in prison. This was later reduced due to her behaviour in jail, where she earned a bachelor's degree.
So from the death penalty to 27 years in prison.
Some states cannot keep vicious murderers on death row;  Indiana could not even keep this one in prison for life.
Yet some would have us believe that mere imprisonment can ensure the safety of society from conscienceless killers like Cooper.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

On May 1, Ohio executed Steve Smith for rape and murder... of his girlfriend's six month old baby. "The baby was covered in bruises and welts and had severe injuries showing she had been brutally raped...." Smith's guilt was not at issue; he does not contend he did not do the crime. 

Smith was apparently a model inmate, and to outward appearances contrite for his crime (although denying
responsibility to the extent that he claimed intoxication as a reason for his crime).

Smith's attorney voiced what might be the position of certain Catholics influenced by the teaching in recent years which appears to state that only those who continue to be a threat to society should be executed, if even those:
[Smith] was well-behaved and sober while in prison, causing no problems in the institution and living each day with the guilt and grief caused by his alcohol-fueled crime,” said Wilhelm, who also witnessed the execution. “While some may trumpet his execution as appropriate revenge for his crime, Ohio is no safer having executed Steven Smith than had he lived the remainder of his natural life in prison.
Maybe it is true that Smith would have spent the rest of his life in prison;  maybe he would never be pardoned and released;  maybe he would never get the parole that is possible in Ohio.  Maybe he would never escape;  maybe he would never assault or kill a guard or a fellow-prisoner, despite having proven that he's capable of murderous violence.

And yet... there are crimes for which not even sitting peacefully in prison for life seems to be adequate to address the violation of society and the individual victim;  for which society must proclaim by action that the crime is above and beyond a garden variety robbery or rape, for which one could also be sent to prison for life.

This intuition that some crimes are so heinous that nothing will seem to give "congruent satisfaction" to a society violated and disrupted by the crime; that there ought to be a punishment fitted to the crime to the extent that can be accomplished-- this intuition is nothing other than the natural virtue of Justice.

The Church has always recognized the State's right to execute this Justice on offenders, indeed, it is one of the fundamental and first duties of civil government. 

No collection of national bishops, no ambiguous document, can overturn the natural law and 2,000 years of Church teaching about such an important issue of morality.  If the Church could have been wrong about societies being authorized to use capital punishment to advance the virtue of Justice, then the Church would have failed in Her mission to reliably teach mankind about morality.

Swedes Crack Down on Prostitution

In an interesting twist, Sweden reduces prostitution problem not by criminalizing the hooker, but by criminalizing only the johns. Traditionally the solicitation for sex for money is criminalized, which subjects the prostitute herself to arrest.  While the customer can, and often is, arrested, the focus in the US has been to target the prostitutes.

Sweden has turned that equation around with some success, as the fear of arrest has reduced the demand for paid sex:

the number of women in street prostitution in Stockholm has declined. Where 70 or 80 women used to sell sex outdoors, these days it's between five and 10 in winter, 25 in summer. A small number of women work on the streets of Malmö and Gothenburg but the Swedish figures are nothing like those for Denmark, where prostitution has been decriminalised. Denmark has just over half the population of Sweden but one study suggested there were more than 1,400 women selling sex on Danish streets.
And despite predictions that the law would be both unpopular and tend to increase violence against hookers, the Swedes have found that 70% of the populace supports the new law, and the hookers have found that customers in Sweden are more behaved, no doubt because of the fear of being arrested if the hooker complains to police.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Pot Legalization Not Working Well in Colorado

Colorado reconsidering legalized pot as it becomes clear that legalization is likely a net economic loss to the state, despite the liberal claim that legalizing and taxing would raise revenue.

And that's only considering the governmental revenue issue, not the added social costs of legalization.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Who's the Killer?

So the NACDL (National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers) for some reason sent me their publication, in which I was told I could attend this training for capital defense:

In the twisted world of the legal left, a potential juror who believes in the death penalty in an appropriate case is referred to as a "Killer;"  i.e., a juror potentially willing to "kill" the lawyer's client who is, you know,  being tried because he is, you know, like, a real, actual killer.  And the juror who will not impose death is a "Life-Giver."  Unlike, again, the defendant who was what?--  A life-taker.

I suspect strongly that in the surreal universe of these sleaze bag lawyers, who are willing to call jurors "killers," they never refer to their clients as killers, or even life-takers.  

Here's what you'd be treated to if you attend the conference:

Segment II: Identifying Killers & Life-Givers, and Numerical Rating 
1:00-1:30 Overview Mini-Lecture: Stripping, Identifying, & Rating
1:30-2:00 Examples & Demos of Stripping, Identifying, & Rating
2:00-2:15 Break
2:15-4:00 Small Group Practice – Stripping, Identifying, & Rating 
4:00-5:00 Lecture: Constitutional Law on Voir Dire
5:00-6:00 Social Hour – Faculty and Participants (location to be announced)
Day 2 – Friday
Segment III: Making Record to Remove Killers
9:00-9:30 Overview Mini-Lecture: Making Record to Assert Cause Challenges
9:30-10:00 Examples & Demos of Making Record on Killers
10:00-10:15 Break
10:15-12:00 Small Group Practice – Identifying, Rating, and Removing Killers 
12:00-1:00 Lunch

This is a truly mentally disturbed bunch, and a disgrace to our supposedly learned profession.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

An Elitist, Racist Prosecution?

An interesting capital case is starting in Pennsylvania.
[Kermit] Gosnell, 72, is accused of running a rogue clinic that ignored the state ban on third-term abortions and 24-hour waiting periods. Prosecutors say he also maimed desperate, often poor women and teens by letting his untrained staff perform abortions and give anesthesia. And they say he got rich doing it, by performing a high volume of substandard abortions.Police found $250,000 in cash during a 2010 search of his home, Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore said. Gosnell used outmoded drugs and unorthodox methods, forcing women to endure labor and then deliver live babies that were then killed by staff with scissors, she said. Normally, the fetus is killed in utero."The standard practice here was to slay babies. That's what they did," said Pescatore, who echoed a 2011 grand jury report in calling the clinic "a house of horrors."

Apparently the defense, before a majority-black jury, is that Gosnell should get a pass because he's black and works in West Philadelphia, a heavily minority area.  Never mind that most of the babies he delivered and then stabbed to death were "persons of color."

Specifically, this mass-murderer is being tried for killing seven babies and one adult woman, to whom he delivered a lethal dose of anesthesia.  But in the course of his career, he can boast of having killed some 16,000 babies.

I wonder if our pro-life friends who also oppose the death penalty will rest comfortably with the idea that Gosnell should merely be imprisoned for his actions.

Is sitting in a cell for maybe 20 years really proportionate justice for someone who has worked tirelessly to murder 16, 000 babies?

Friday, March 08, 2013

More on Lori

Abp. Lori, in addition to telling us that the death penalty violates the Church's teaching that life is sacred from birth to natural death, also opined, according to National Catholic Reporter, that:
Catholic teaching tells us, he said, that "when other punishment options are available to government that sufficiently protect the public’s safety, we should not resort to the death penalty, not even in the case of one who takes the life of another human being."
In this blast from the past, we see a good example (H/T Crime and Consequences)of why Abp. Lori, while competent to teach on doctrine and moral principles,  is not a reliable source for such criminology pronouncements as "life without parole sentences render the death penalty unnecessary."
In 1966 (Dennis) Stanworth was sentenced to death for the brutal kidnapping, rape and murder of two 15-year-old Pinole (California) teens, Caree Collison and Susan Box. Their family members are still haunted by the crime."He had them strip and Caree ran and he yelled at her if you don't come back, I'm going to kill your friend. She came back and he shot her in the head," a family member said...Stanworth sat on San Quentin's death row for seven years. Then everything changed."The first step was when the California Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court determined that the death penalty was unconstitutional," Uncommon Law's Keith Whattley said.That meant, by the mid-1970s, 174 death row inmates had their sentences reduced to life in prison. At the time, California did not have life without parole, so all were eligible for release.Besides Stanworth, the group included Charles Manson and Sirhan Sirhan, who murdered Robert Kennedy in 1968. Manson and Sirhan were not released, but Stanworth and 50 others were eventually set free.Among them was Robert Massie, who was convicted of murder in 1965 and sentenced to death. In 1978 he was paroled; eight months later, he murdered a San Francisco liquor store owner. In 2001, after the death penalty was reinstated, Massie was executed.
And Stanworth?
Stanworth was released in 1990. The parole board cited his good behavior and "excellent work record." Stanworth settled in Vallejo, re-married and lived a quiet life in a gated golf course community where some neighbors even knew of his past.
"I figured he had paid for his mistakes according to the law," neighbor Irving Vanderberg said.
But on Jan. 11, Vallejo police arrested Stanworth for killing his 90-year-old mother Nellie Stanworth at his home.
Sure, some who commit premeditated murder might be 'rehabilitated' and never re-offend.  But why should society bear the burden of that high-stakes risk? Isn't it more likely (and therefore the better basis for a policy decision)  that a person who would murder will likely never overcome to a reasonable level of certainty a  propensity for violence?

No, Archbishop Lori, whatever the Catechism is referring to when it speaks of "means" for rendering offenders harmless, it certainly cannot mean mere imprisonment, even life without parole, which can be, like the death penalty was, and probably will be in Maryland,  altered by the whim of a single legislative session or the pardon power of a single governor.

Heretic?

Archbishop Lori of Baltimore recently testified against the death penalty before the Maryland General Assembly.

Nothing unusual, the bishops of this country have been advocating on behalf of capital offenders for years.

But with all due respect to his excellency, he did not couch his opposition to the use of the death penalty in Maryland solely in terms of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (i.e., there are other options to render offenders harmless and therefore resort to the death penalty should be "rare if not non-existent.") but rather, he said

Catholic opposition to the death penalty is founded upon the idea that "every human life is sacred and to be protected," the archbishop stated, stressing the protection of life and the human person "from the moment of natural conception until natural death."
He added that Catholics hold the "reasoned belief" that "every life comes from God and is destined to return to God as our final judge" and that this teaching drives the protection of all life, as well as other aspects of Catholic outreach.
So, according to the Archbishop, the death penalty is inadmissible because every life is sacred and hence inviolable.

But one cannot posit that the death penalty is intrinsically immoral because it takes a human life without running seriously afoul of two millenia of Judaeo-Christian teaching.  Cardinal Avery Dulles give a good thumbnail sketch of this perennial moral teaching here.


So, no, Archbishop Lori, you are free to represent the Church as claiming that there are prudential reasons not to have recourse to capital punishment (the informed, often better informed laity, can of course disagree with your prudential assesment);  you are not free to misrepresent the Church as having a philosophical or moral or theological objection to capital punishment. 


It would be a shame if an eminent Catholic Archbishop fell into the error of the Waldenses, who denied the right of the state to execute offenders.




Thursday, February 07, 2013

Southern Poverty Law Center Incites Terrorism

Via Metro Weekly comes the story of the very first conviction under the post-9/11 D.C. Anti-Terrorism Act.  Was it a muslim terrorist?  Or perhaps an IRA bomber targeting the British embassy?

Well, no, it was a homosexual activist Chick-Fil-A hater.
Floyd Lee Corkins II, the suspect in the August shooting at the Family Research Council (FRC) headquarters in Washington, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court this morning to three felony charges, including a charge of terrorism under the District of Columbia's Anti-Terrorism Act of 2002.
Corkins, who faced up to 10 different charges related to the FRC shooting, pleaded guilty to charges of committing an act of terrorism while armed, becoming the first defendant to be charged and convicted under the statute, introduced soon after the 9/11 attacks, which cover criminal actions committed with the intent to ''intimidate or coerce a significant population of the District of Columbia or the United States.''
Corkins also pleaded guilty to two other counts: one of assault with intent to kill while armed, and another of interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition.
Corkins could serve up to a maximum of 30 years in prison for the terrorism offense and the assault charge, and up to 10 years for the weapons-related charge. He remains held without bond as he awaits sentencing, which has been scheduled for April 29.
Corkins had served as a volunteer front-desk receptionist for The DC Center, the District's LGBT community center, but few of the other volunteers for the organization remember interacting with him.
According to the statement of offense, Corkins, of Herndon, Va., purchased a semiautomatic pistol from a store in Virginia on Aug. 9, 2012, and picked up the weapon the following day with the intent of shooting and killing as many employees at FRC headquarters as possible, targeting FRC because of its anti-gay views. On Aug. 13, Corkins rehearsed his planned trip to FRC headquarters, and returned to the gun store the following day for shooting practice. According to the government's evidence, on the morning of Aug. 15, Corkins rode Metrorail into the District and went into FRC headquarters at 801 G St. NW. To gain access to the building, he told security guard Leonardo Reno ''Leo'' Johnson, 46, of Washington, that he was interviewing as a prospective intern. Corkins then approached an unarmed Johnson, pulled the pistol from his backpack and pointed it at him. Johnson charged Corkins and the two struggled as Corkins fired three shots, striking Johnson in the arm. Despite his wounds, Johnson managed to subdue Corkins until Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers arrived. For those actions, Mayor Vincent Gray (D) awarded Johnson, who was unable to work for months following emergency surgery and the insertion of metal plates into his arm, with the inaugural Mayor's Medal of Honor at an Oct. 22 ceremony.
After being subdued by Johnson, Corkins stated, ''It's not about you,'' but about FRC's policies, making remarks to the effect of, ''I don't like these people, and I don't like what they stand for.''
Police later discovered two fully loaded magazine clips in Corkins's pants pockets, as well as a Metro card and a handwritten list of organizations: FRC and three other groups promoting socially conservative agendas. Corkins also had a box of 50 rounds of 9-millimeter ammunition in his backpack, as well as 15 individually wrapped sandwiches purchased from Chick-fil-A the day prior to the shooting.
According to statements made to the FBI, Corkins claimed he was a political activist. He also stated he intended to kill as many people as possible and smear the Chick-fil-A sandwiches into their faces. ''Chick-fil-A came out against gay marriage so I was going to use that as a statement,'' Corkins allegedly told investigators.
Investigators also reported that Corkins detailed the steps he took in planning the attack, saying he had been thinking about committing a similarly violent act for years, but had never carried one out. Had he not been stopped at FRC headquarters, he said, he planned to go down his list to the next organization and commit a similar shooting there.

The case is summed up well by The Other McCain:
 Who told Floyd Corkins that the Family Research Council was a leading opponent of the gay-rights agenda? Who convinced Floyd Corkins that opponents of the gay-rights agenda were evil people who need to die? Whoever they are, they’ve got blood on their hands:
After years of thinking it over, Floyd Corkins finally had a plan....

Corkins told Judge Richard Roberts that he hoped to intimidate gay rights opponents. . . .
“They endorse Chick-Fil-A and also Chick-Fil-A came out against gay marriage, so I was going to use that as a statement,” prosecutors quoted Corkins as telling investigators.
Guess what? The Southern Poverty Law Center — which did much to demonize the Family Research Center by listing them as a “hate” group — is embraced as a valuable partner by Eric Holder’s Justice Department. So, in effect, the Obama administration has given its imprimatur of approval to this terrorism against conservatives.
So while the SPLC cannot trace any violence to the FRC, they themselves have terrorist blood on their hands by their demonization of their cultural opponents.