Wednesday, July 01, 2015

“They say that any prosecutor worth his salt can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. It may be that a decent prosecutor could get a petit jury to convict a eunuch of rape.”

That's Judge Kozinski in this article calling for criminal justice reform:
Defense lawyers who are found to have been ineffective regularly find their names plastered into judicial opinions, yet judges seem strangely reluctant to name names when it comes to misbehaving prosecutors. Indeed, judges seem reluctant to even suspect prosecutors of improper behavior, as if they were somehow beyond suspicion….Naming names and taking prosecutors to task for misbehavior can have magical qualities in assuring compliance with constitutional rights.
If judges have reason to believe that witnesses, especially police officers or government informants, testify falsely, they must refer the matter for prosecution. If they become aware of widespread misconduct in the investigation and prosecution of criminal cases, a referral to the U.S. Department of Justice for a civil rights violation might well be appropriate. *** The U.S. Justice Department seems ready enough to pursue charges of civil rights violations in cases where police have engaged in physical violence, but far more reluctant to pursue misbehaving prosecutors.

And from the East Coast, you have Judge Gertner saying her sentences during 17 years on the bench were unfair and immoral:
Among 500 sanctions that she handed down, “80 percent I believe were unfair and disproportionate,” she said. “I left the bench in 2011 to join the Harvard faculty to write about those stories––to write about how it came to pass that I was obliged to sentence people to terms that, frankly, made no sense under any philosophy.”
No theory of retribution or social change could justify them, she said. And that dispiriting conclusion inspired the radical idea that she presented: a call for the U.S. to mimic its decision after World War II to look to the future and rebuild rather than trying to punish or seek retribution. As she sees it, the War on Drugs ought to end in that same spirit. “Although we were not remotely the victors of that war, we need a big idea in order to deal with those who were its victims,” she said, calling for something like a Marshall Plan.
And yet, nothing seems to be happening with reform....  Same old, same old.

But, we may have a new Broward courthouse:
Florida's most conservative and liberal members of Congress joined forces Tuesday in calling for more federal spending — for projects in the state.
Led by U.S. Reps. Lois Frankel, a Democrat who represents Broward and Palm Beach counties, and Jeff Miller, a Republican who represents part of the Florida Panhandle, half the state's congressional delegation wrote the administrator of the agency in charge of federal buildings that Fort Lauderdale and Pensacola need new federal courthouses.

Federal judges, and the lawyers who appear before them, have been complaining for years about the courthouse at Broward Boulevard and Northeast Third Avenue in Fort Lauderdale. The development community in Fort Lauderdale has urged a new courthouse as has Mayor Jack Seiler, a lawyer. Cost of a new Fort Lauderdale courthouse has been estimated at $250 million.

I'm gonna miss Jon Stewart:


Anonymous said...

No reform? Same old, same old? I may have to change the prescription on my rose-colored glasses, BUT . . .
1) it took way too long, but the Fair Sentencing Act eliminated much of the disparity between crack and cocaine sentences by lowering crack sentences. It still needs to be lowered to 1:1, but it is progress.
2) maybe you do not travel much, but you can go to Denver or Seattle and legally purchase and consume marijuana. Even Miami-Dade is moving to make simple possession just a fine
3) There seems to be real bipartisan movement in D.C. to curb many of the war-on-drugs penalties including giving judges more discretion to sentence below man mins.

It is slow progress, but it is progress

Orin Kerr said...

"It may be that a decent prosecutor could get a petit jury to convict a eunuch of rape.”

Why does Judge Kozinski think that a eunuch could not be guilty of rape?

David Oscar Markus said...

Fair point but who says a ham sandwich shouldn't be indicted.