Sunday, June 07, 2020

News & Notes

1.  NACDL says that it isn't safe to have jury trials right now and issues a number of guidelines for courts on how and when to reopen:
Compromising accused persons’ constitutional and fundamental rights -- like the right to counsel, the right to confront witnesses, the right to due process, and the right to a speedy and public trial by a jury culled from a fair cross section of the community -- for the sake of public safety results in grave injustice. NACDL recognizes that there is no way to fully reconcile these core constitutional rights with the public safety considerations arising from this pandemic. There are, however, fundamental principles that can minimize the constitutional burden while protecting the public and all the stakeholders who must come together for our courts to function.

2. An Ohio federal judge had ordered the release or transfer of over 800 inmates from a high risk prison. Justice Sotomayor issued a stay. SCOTUSblog covers it:
Last week the Supreme Court rejected a request by the federal government to temporarily block an order that could have required the release or transfer of over 800 inmates from a federal prison in Ohio where nine inmates have died from COVID-19. But the court’s ruling suggested that it was largely based on procedural grounds, because the government had not appealed the lower court’s most recent order. On Monday the government returned to the Supreme Court. This time the government asked the justices to put both the original April 22 order by the district court requiring the inmates’ transfer and the May 19 order enforcing the April 22 order on hold while it appeals those orders. In a brief order tonight, Justice Sonia Sotomayor – who handles emergency appeals from the area that includes Ohio – put both orders on hold.

3. How broken is our criminal justice system? Clark Neily from Cato says it's rotten to the core:
Before you can fairly assess the legitimacy of the ongoing protests or the quality of the government’s response, you must understand the relevant facts. And the most relevant fact is that America’s criminal justice system is rotten to its core. Though that certainly does not justify the violence and wanton destruction of property perpetrated by far too many protesters, it does provide useful context for comprehending the intensity of their anger and the fecklessness of the government’s response. If America is burning, it is fair to say that America’s criminal justice system—which is itself a raging dumpster fire of injustice—lit the fuse.
As I will explain below, I see three fundamental pathologies in America’s criminal justice system that completely undermine its moral and political legitimacy and render it a menace to the very concept of constitutionally limited government. Those three pathologies are: (1) unconstitutional overcriminalization; (2) point‐​and‐​convict adjudication; and (3) near‐​zero accountability for police and prosecutors.

4. The Sentencing Commission just released some data, which shows how this broken system is disproportionately affecting minorities: Of those in federal prison, 34.3% are Black, 33.7% are Hispanic, 28.2% are White, and 3.8% are other races.

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