Archive for June, 2013

Submitted by Charlton Stanley (Otteray Scribe), Guest Blogger

BoP sealThose who advocated for longer prison sentences failed to take the Law of Unintended Consequences into consideration.  We all know that prisons have become warehouses. There are several areas where the US leads the world. We lead all industrialized nations in infant deaths the first day of life. We lead the world in illegal drug use. In addition, we lead the world in number of people incarcerated.

The US prison population is about 2.3 million, more than any other nation. Those numbers come from a global study of prisons by the International Centre for Prison Studies, London.

China is a distant second, with 1.6 million people in prison, despite a population of 1.35 billion. (NOTE: That figure does not include political prisoners in administrative detention for “reeducation.”)

The unintended consequences are an aging prison population. Perhaps the for-profit prisons did not count on that glitch in their bottom line. However, prisons at both the state and Federal level are finding themselves running geriatric nursing homes.  In 2010, the last year for which we have accurate data, prisoners age 65 or over increased 94 times the rate of the total prison population in the three-year period 2007-2010.  During that same three-year period, the total US prison population grew 0.7%.

At the rate we are going, by the year 2030, estimates are that almost a half-million prisoners will be elderly.  Most prisons spend an absolute minimum on staffing and patient health.  Private prisons find the elderly cutting into their profit margin. Problems not anticipated for younger prisoners are cropping up.  What good does it do for a correctional officer to give orders to a prisoner with Alzheimer’s disease?  Prisons are not designed for accommodating walkers, wheelchairs and those who may have serious age-related illnesses.

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By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

The Offending Contraband That Almost Got A UVa Student Shot

The Offending Contraband That Almost Got A UVa Student Shot

University of Virginia student Elizabeth Daly thought she was doing a good thing buying some La Croix bottled water and cookie dough ice cream from the Harris Teeter Supermarket to share at a charity event.  It was 10:15 p.m. and the twenty-year-old, along with her female roommate were trying get to a police sponsored “Take Back The Night” event where she thought  she would be listening to stories from sexual assault victims and developing strategies to combat the scourge of most college towns. Instead, as she crossed the dark parking lot and got into her vehicle, she was set upon by six people, one of whom jumped on the hood of her SUV and another who pulled a gun.

“I couldn’t put my windows down unless I started my car, and when I started my car they began yelling to not move the car, not to start the car. They began trying to break the windows. My roommates and I were … terrified,” Daly stated. Not wanting to become a victim herself, Daly heeded the words of her panic-stricken front seat passenger and took off.  As she did, she grazed two of the assailants.

“They were showing unidentifiable badges after they approached us, but we became frightened, as they were not in anything close to a uniform,” she recalled Thursday in a written account of the April 11 incident.

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Lincoln_Park_High_School

Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger

We have all heard the stories about the federal education policy instituted under the George W. Bush administration referred to as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).  That program required schools to continually test students in order to gauge which schools are “failing” to produce students who were making sufficient educational progress.  The outgrowth of NCLB was the need for teachers to “teach to the test”.  Schools across the country stopped teaching important subject areas because they were not deemed important enough to be on the all important test.  Now, the latest federal educational program embraced by the Obama Administration, called Common Core standards, builds on the NCLB program and continues to force testing using standards that have not even been tested and are products of corporate sponsors tied to the testing industry! (more…)

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Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

President_Barack_ObamaPresident Obama has admitted that while in school he was a frequent marijuana smoker. George W. Bush also alluded to smoking marijuana and possibly to using cocaine. Bill Clinton claimed to have smoked it but not inhaled it, which is the type of ridiculous statement Clinton is capable of asserting for political gain. Thus the last three Presidents of the United States have admitted that one time or another they have broken the law and used a banned substance. While each of those Presidents presided over the continued witch hunt and prosecution of the “War On Drugs” I believe that Barack Obama has been the most hypocritical.

Had either G.W. Bush, or Bill Clinton been arrested for smoking marijuana there is no doubt in my mind that they would have neither served jail time, nor would they have had their careers stained by a criminal record. Bush, as the scion of a great political family would have had his record expunged, or possibly have had the police back off when they discovered who he was. Bill Clinton was a student at a prestigious University and while not rich, came from a politically connected family in Arkansas. What they also had in common was that they were White men. Barack Obama on the other hand would have likely been arrested, despite his status as a Harvard student and while he probably would have escaped jail time he would have been forced to take a plea which would remain on his record. If such a thing had occurred it is highly probable that Barack Obama would never have been elected Senator, much less President. There is a likelihood that he might never even have been allowed to enter the Bar as an attorney, since that entrance requires extensive background checks. Whatever you might think of him Barack Obama is a very intelligent man. Surely he must realize how fortunate he was to not get caught smoking grass and yet as President he has stepped up the War On Drugs and has allowed egregious prosecutions in States that have passed medical marijuana laws. To my mind this is blatant hypocrisy, but beyond that political position lies a destructiveness that can only rationally be seen as the continuance of the oppression of Americans of color, particularly Blacks, by our Federal Government. I will deal with our President’s hypocrisy and use it as the basis of my condemnation of the War On Drugs. (more…)

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

misdirectionWhile the NSA is, perhaps unconstitutionally, intercepting your electronic data, our media is focusing on whether Snowden should be charged with treason. One of reasons Snowden was charged with espionage is so the media would follow that meme. While James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, is getting away with lying to the Senate, our media is playing Where’s Waldo with Snowden. Instead of a debate on the constitutionality of the NSA programs out media is focusing on insignificant details regarding the private lives of Snowden and Greenwald.

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chalking1It appears there is a thin chalk line between us and anarchy. Police in various states are cracking down on a criminal epidemic sweeping the nation: sidewalk chalk protesters. We just discussed the case of a California man who was not only arrested but hit with 13 charges for writing protests in chalk in front of a Bank of America. Now in Pennsylvania, a blog is reporting that AJ Martin, a health care protester, has been arrested for disorderly conduct for writing the above statement on the public sidewalk in front of the home of Governor Tom Corbett.

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18213After the historic victory in the Windsor case, gay state Rep. Brian Sims (left), D-Philadelphia, rose to speak about the decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act on the floor of the Pennsylvania House. He did so during a time when members are allowed to discuss any subject of importance. However, he was blocked by Republican Rep. Daryl Metcalfe who objected on the basis that any such comments would constitute a “rebellion against . . . God.”

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half gallon-ICDeptofJusticeRandy and Karen Sowers are not your typical terrorists or mob financiers. They run the popular South Mountain Creamery and sell their produces at farmer’s markets and local events. The Somers however were confronted recently by FBI agents who informed them that the Justice Department was moving to seize their accounts under a law designed to thwart mob and terrorist financiers. They had made repeated deposits under $10,000. The Justice Department has seized their account of $62,936 under the law as illegal “structuring.” The criminal provision is written in a way to avoid the need for actual intent or knowledge of the illegality.

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220px-Whaling_harpoon220px-Minke_Whale_(NOAA)Australia has called Japan to account for its openly fraudulent claims of scientific research as an exception to the moratorium on whaling. Australia accused Japan in the International Court of Justice in The Hague of commercial whaling in using the claim of research to kill hundreds of whales every year in the Southern Ocean.

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The U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court

While the rulings in Fisher and Windsor justifiably garnered the most attention this week, it is important to note an important but little discussed decision to accept a case. President_Barack_ObamaI have previously testified and written about President Barack Obama’s use of recess appointments, which I viewed as flagrantly unconstitutional. Recently, the D.C. Circuit agreed with that view and found that the Obama Administration had violated the recess appointment powers. Then a second appellate court has joined that view, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. I have two law review articles coming out on these appointments and more broadly the abuse of recess appointment powers in modern presidencies. See Jonathan Turley, Recess Appointments in the Age of Regulation, 93 Boston University Law Review ___ (2013) and Jonathan Turley, Constitutional Adverse Possession: Recess Appointments and the Role of Historical Practice in Constitutional Interpretation, 2103 Wisconsin Law Review ___ (2013). The case accepted for review is Noel Canning v. NLRB, No. 12-1115 (D.C. Cir. 2013).

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ph_leeU.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee has issued a sweeping victory for the Obama Administration and its contractors in seeking to bar any recourse for people injured or killed in U.S. camps or prisons like Abu Ghraib. Lee dismissed a lawsuit detailing well-supported accounts of abuse of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison — holding that the injured parties could not use U.S. courts to seek judicial review and relief for the abuse. He closed the door to the U.S. judicial system to four Iraqi plaintiffs under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) as well as one plaintiff who was deemed as barred under Iraqi law.

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121223010629-nr-lemon-dental-assistant-fired-00001202-story-topWe previously discussed the alarming ruling in Nelson v. James H. Knight, DDS, where the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in December that a dentist did not commit gender discrimination in firing an attractive female employee, Melissa Nelson, at the request of a jealous wife. The “irresistible attraction” rule led many of us to question the standards applied by the Court. Now, the Court has taken the exceptionally rare step of withdrawing the December 2012 decision and announcing that it will reconsider the case.

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Terrehaute_gurneyperryYesterday presented what some would view as a striking contradiction as Texas Governor proclaimed that Texas “values life” in pushing for a bill that would have imposed strict new regulations on abortion while the state marked its 500th execution with the death of Kimberly McCarthy. She is the 500th to die in Texas since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976.

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Raveesh KumraThere is an interesting story out of San Jose where a man was falsely accused of being an accomplice to murder despite being in a hospital at the time of the crime. Defense attorneys often argue contamination in DNA cases and the attorneys for Lukis Anderson, 26, insisted that either contamination or sheer negligence had to be the reason for the finding of his DNA on the body of robbery victim and Monte Sereno businessman, Raveesh “Ravi” Kumra (LEFT). It turns out that that is precisely what happened. The same ET crew that had worked on Anderson earlier responded to the home invasion of Kumra and used the same equipment — transferring the DNA to the body.

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The U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court

As many of us predicted, Justice Anthony Kennedy supplied the fifth vote today to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  I just returned from offering legal analysis in front of the Supreme Court (and roasting in the DC summer weather with CNN).  I will be discussing the case tonight with BBC.  The surprise was not in the outcome or the split but the scope of the decision.  Kennedy could have rendered the same decision on a narrower basis but chose to render a more expansive endorsement of the constitutional protections for gay couples.  These are marriages, plain and simple, and cannot be simply discharged by Congress. Kennedy wrote: “DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty.”

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