Friday, March 09, 2012

Friday news and notes

Your pre-spring break reading list:

1.  The Federal Public Defenders Association strikes back against the TRAC report on sentencing, saying "TRAC’s analysis fails to meet minimal academic standards and should not be a basis for policy making."  For example: 
● The cases sentenced by the judges in the study are not similar.
○ The only similarity among the cases sentenced in each district is that prosecutors
categorized them as “drug,” “white collar,” etc. All other case differences are ignored.
Heroin or marijuana cases, involving 1 gram or 1 ton, are all called “similar” drug cases.
First-time offenders are lumped with lifetime criminals.
○ Academic researchers studying disparity use data from the U. S. Sentencing Commission
to categorize cases along dozens of different variables, but this data was not used in
TRAC’s analysis.
 2.  Justice Scalia spoke yesterday at Wesleyan.  Some highlights:
Near the end of the speech, some of the demonstrators dropped banners from the balcony railing. One read, “There can be no justice in the court of the conqueror.”

The justice looked up and read it and quipped, “Oh, that’s very persuasive.”
At the end of the speech, Scalia took questions from the audience. One person asked about the Bush-Gore case, where the Supreme Court had to determine the winner of the election.

“Get over it,” Scalia said of the controversy surrounding it, to laughter from the audience.

Scalia reminded the audience it was Gore who took the election to court, and the election was going to be decided in a court anyway—either the Florida Supreme Court or the U.S. Supreme Court.

“It was a long time ago, people forget…It was a 7-2 decision. It wasn’t even close,” he said.
3.  Inmate can sue for having to wear pink underwear:

In a 2-1 ruling, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said a jury should consider whether Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's policy of requiring inmates to wear pink underclothes had led to the death, and questioned whether the policy was legal.
"Given the cultural context, it is a fair inference that the color is chosen to symbolize a loss of masculine identity and power, to stigmatize the male prisoners as feminine," Judge John Noonan said in the majority opinion. "... The dress-out in pink appears to be punishment without legal justification."

4.  The Constitution Project is calling for Brady Reform.  It's interesting to see the signatories, including many former U.S. Attorneys.  They say:

We have concluded that Brady violations, whether intentional or inadvertent, have occurred for too long and with sufficient frequency that Congress must act. Self-regulation by the DOJ has been tried and has failed. It is ultimately not a solution to the injustices that continue to occur. Nor is an amendment to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure a solution. Such a proposal has been considered at least twice by the Advisory Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure, only to be rejected by either the Advisory Committee or the full Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, at least partly in deference to the DOJ’s attempts to address the issue internally. But, again, DOJ’s own internal efforts have not remedied the problem.
5.  10 Years of Rakontur.  Very cool.  Check it out at the O Cinema March 26-30.

6.  Watch out what you say on Twitter and Facebook (and here on the blog).  You could be committing a crime (via NY Times):

Last month, at a Supreme Court argument over a federal law that makes it a crime to lie about military honors, Justice Elena Kagan asked about laws like the one that had ensnared Mr. Miller. “There are more of them than I thought that there would be,” she said, though she did not say which ones she had in mind.
It turns out there are at least 17 states that forbid some kinds of false campaign speech, according to a pending Supreme Court petition in a case involving a Minnesota law. The lower courts are split about whether such laws are constitutional.
At the argument last month, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., who was defending the federal law banning lies about medals, said the broader state laws are harder to square with the First Amendment because they “are going to pose a particular risk of chill.”


South Florida Lawyers said...

7-2 or 5-4, who's really counting?

Anonymous said...

Nice press!

Justice, not convictions, more important