Archive for the ‘Justice’ Category

By Charlton Stanley, Weekend Contributor

500px-Seal_of_the_United_States_Supreme_CourtOn this day in 1892 Homer Plessy was arrested for refusing to leave his seat in the “whites-only” car of a train. The resulting court case, which Plessy lost, generated one of the most disgraceful decisions the Supreme Court of the United States ever made.

On June 7, 1892 thirty year old Homer A. Plessy boarded a train in New Orleans. A short time later, Plessy was arrested and removed from the train at Press and Royal streets by a private detective with arrest powers. The detective had actually been hired by the Comité des Citoyens (Citizens’ Committee of New Orleans), a civil rights group of which Plessy was a member. They were challenging Louisiana’s 1890 separate-car law.

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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Miyo Koba

Miyo Koba

Proving a new twist to the old adage, it seems the sword is quickly losing its reputation for might. Eighty nine year old Miyo Koba, a Moses Lake, Washington store owner, fought-off an alleged robber who brandished a three foot sword she described as being “little.”

sword-moses-lake-evidenceFor sixty years Miyo and her husband have owned Frank’s Market. She said she noticed a man wearing a ski mask and dark glasses standing behind her cash register on a Sunday attempting to open the till. It would soon prove to be a career limiting move for his apprenticeship in the armed robbery trade.

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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

meriam-yehya-ibrahim-apostasy-sharia-law-sudanAfter an international outrage and widespread condemnation following the death sentence of a pregnant, Christian Sudanese woman accused apostasy and adultery for her marriage to a Christian man, the Sudanese Government has publicly stated it would instead release Meriam Yehya Ibrahim from custody.

BBC News reports that Abdullahi Alzareg, an under-secretary at the foreign ministry, said Sudan guaranteed religious freedom and was committed to protecting the woman who was to be release in a few days.

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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

the-thin-line-of-medical-marijuanaThe United States House of Representatives passed a bill preventing federal prosecutions against patients who use prescribed marijuana and cultivation where it is legal in the various states. If passed by the Senate and signed by the President it would mark a profound reversal in federal marijuana policy.

 

The House voted 219-189 in favor to an amendment of an appropriations bill. The amendment strips the Department of Justice of all funds for enforcing marijuana laws in states where medical marijuana is legal. This would not only include the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) but all other agencies as well as DOJ prosecutions, theoretically if signed into law prosecutions already in process must halt as well. With the recent signature by Minnesota’s governor, twenty two states and the District of Columbia have medical marijuana statutes.

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220px-John_Kerry_official_Secretary_of_State_portrait220px-Landsdowne_HeraklesWe previously discussed how terribly confused Hillary Clinton appeared in discussing National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. She just could not understand why he would not have trusted the government to deal with any problems or why he would not come back to the United States. Now, Secretary of State John Kerry is offering his own brand of macho advice to the kid: “man up and come back to the United States.” Sure leaders have called for him to be tried as a traitor and either incarcerated for life or executed. Sure, he is not guaranteed to see all of the evidence used against him or even be guaranteed a federal trial as opposed to a military tribunal. However, Kerry appears ready to give him an “attaboy” on his way to solitary confinement under Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) that cut off virtually any contact with the outside world.

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)- Weekend Contributor

 

It has happened again.  A mass killing at the hands of a person armed with knives and three semi-automatic handguns and 400 rounds of ammunition.  This time the alleged shooter stabbed three to death and then went on a shooting spree that ended with at least three more dead and a total of 8 injured/wounded people from gunshot wounds and 5 more injured by his knives or by being hit by his car. (more…)

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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Entreating the GodfatherThe confusion as to what constitutes lawful medical marijuana grows with federal deference and ten year punishments for doing so, the United States Department of Justice is prosecuting five rural Eastern Washington residents accused of growing sixty-eight medical marijuana plants in a private collective. The accused include a seventy year old man who states he uses the medicine to treat pain from a job related injury, his wife for her arthritis, and their son.

What compounds the severity for these five individuals is that within the thirty-eight acre property, two of the defendants’ residence had inside several firearms, including rifles which are used by the family to hunt and for protection from wild animals. Firearms are very common in residences in rural Eastern Washington. Yet, the firearms in relation to the marijuana grow add an additional five year minimum sentence, adding to the defendants’ minimum of ten years imprisonment, something the senior defendant claims to be a “death sentence.”

What is rather extraordinary in this effort by the department of justice, despite guidelines in not allocating resources to prosecute medical marijuana patients, the defendants claim it was a misunderstanding of Washington’s medical marijuana laws that caused them to go from legal users to being potentially imprisoned for ten years.

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)- Weekend Contributor

Thanks to the disclosures made by whistleblower Edward Snowden, we now know how far our government went to hide the warrantless surveillance by the NSA. “If you blinked this week, you might have missed the news: two Senators accused the Justice Department of lying about NSA warrantless surveillance to the US supreme court last year, and those falsehoods all but ensured that mass spying on Americans would continue. But hardly anyone seems to care – least of all those who lied and who should have already come forward with the truth. (more…)

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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Merriam's WeddingA twenty seven year old Christian woman, who is presently eight months pregnant, has been sentenced to death by hanging for apostasy and adultery. Having been born to a Muslim father, the Sudanese government contends that Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, was Muslim and that she later converted to Christianity before marrying her South Sudanese husband, a Christian. Sudanese law considers marriages between Muslims and non-Muslims to be invalid. Under Sudan’s interpretation of sharia, a Muslim woman cannot marry a non-Muslim man and any such relationship is regarded as adulterous. Thus, her pregnancy is considered to be resulting from an adulterous relationship, punishable by one hundred lashings.

Judge Abbas Mohammed Al-Khalifa sentenced Meriam to death and declared:

“We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged,” The judge addressed her by her father’s Muslim name, Adraf Al-Hadi Mohammed Abdullah.

Ms Ishag reacted without emotion when the judge delivered the verdict at a court in the Khartoum district of Haj Yousef. Earlier in the hearing, an Islamic religious leader spoke with her in the caged dock for about 30 minutes. Then she calmly told the judge:

“I am a Christian and I never committed apostasy.”

Amnesty International said Ms Ishag was raised as an Orthodox Christian, her mother’s religion, because her Muslim father was absent.

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Submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor

I was going to write this last weekend on the actual 44th anniversary of a very sad event.  For some reason, I had a hard time focusing on what I wanted to say, in light of the many emotions that were going through my head.  I don’t want the anniversary to go by without writing about the personal significance that day in May had on my life, and I believe on the lives of many in my generation.  The Pulitzer Prize winning photograph by John Filo, included above from Wikipedia, is one that I have never forgotten.  Nor should anyone forget it. (more…)

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By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor

Author’s Note: Grace Under Pressure is an ongoing series of posts honoring everyday people who courageously make positive differences in their own lives and consequently in the lives of others. It is my own personal affirmation that unexpected heroes live among us and that their service is quiet but unshakable proof that virtue really is its own reward  – and ours, too.

marty CobbThey buried little eight-year-old Martin Cobb, Jr. here in Richmond (Va.) on Friday afternoon. Rev. Theodore L. Hughey, pastor of Abundant Life Church, praised the youngster for his courage and then went on to condemn the community and the bureaucrats who oversee it for letting crime fester and forgetting about the children who suffer from it. A handmade sign above the tiny coffin read “Pound for pound, year for year, few greater heroes … if any.”

And little Martin, as his neighbors in the Mosby Court public housing project knew him, was a hero. A small stature caused by an open heart surgery while he was just three-months-old hid a fighting spirit. Many neighbors thought he was only three or four years old. One of them, Harry Hunter, recalled that  “He was so small, I used to carry him in my book bag.”

But no one “carried” Little Martin on Thursday evening a week ago when he died defending his sister from a sexual attack at the hands of an alleged 16-year-old sexual predator who, at his young age, had already been charged with viciously assaulting another young boy and has suffered mental health issues.

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By Charlton (Chuck) Stanley, Weekend Contributor

CT  MET-AJ-JUDGE-BRIM-1102The sad case of Cook County (Illinois) Judge Cynthia Brim has been discussed on this blog previously here and here. To sum up, she had a mental breakdown while holding traffic court on March 8, 2012.

She went on a paranoid rant, accusing police of targeting minorities for traffic tickets. For the next 45 minutes, she rambled on about her childhood as well as describing at least five prior hospitalizations for mental illness. During her rambling outburst, she told her audience she was once removed from the courtroom by paramedics after a previous breakdown.

Witnesses reported she said, “Not only men have balls, but women can have balls too. You just have to grow them.”

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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Flag of PakistanIn an interview with the BBC, Lawyer Samiullah Afridi said his defense of Dr. Shakil Afridi Would end due to continual death threats against him over the last two years. Samiulla, who is not related to his client, had at one point left the country out of fear for his safety.

We previously discussed the worsening situation for lawyers in Pakistan defending those accused of infamous crimes and civil rights issues in the Murder of Attorney Rashid Rehman.

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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

The Sultan of Brunei

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah

Absolute monarch Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei announced in January a harsh form of sharia law will be enacted. Effective in three phases beginning now and spanning two years, the edict eventually allows for the stoning to death of homosexuals, adulterers, and apostates; for amputation of limbs for those convicted of theft; and flogging for abortions and the consumption of alcohol. The capital offense provisions of the law reportedly apply only to Muslims.

Sultan Bolkiah claims this is a step in solidifying a long cultural tradition in the sultanate which was established in the fourteenth century. Increasingly conservative Muslim politicians and officials in Brunei, Malaysia, and Indonesia are beginning to move from sharia being limited to family matters to now criminal law and capital offenses. Acheh in Indonesia is included especially. While Brunei enjoys one of the highest per capital income in the world, has many social benefits such as effectively free health care and education, its population of over 416,000 individuals now is seeing human rights restricted in a trend that is generating international condemnation in the West. Al-Jazeera reported that many members of the Muslim ethnic Malay majority have voiced cautious support for the changes. However, non-Muslim citizens, who are fifteen percent of the population, led a rare burst of criticism on social media earlier this year, but largely went silent after the sultan called for a halt.

Emblem of Brunei“Theory states that God’s law is harsh and unfair, but God himself has said that his law is indeed fair,” the sultan said.

But will Western governments be willing to isolate countries engaging in abuses of individuals and oppression of the human rights of populations or is trade and money going to become the focus and inconveniences such as abuse continue to be ignored?

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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

LGBT USA Pride FlagJune 30th, 2014 will mark a significant change in nomenclature and status for same sex couples who had previously registered their domestic partnership starting in 2012. After this date, these couples’ status will change automatically to “married.” This presents an opportunity to become married without the administrative overhead of now filing for a marriage license. Couples after June 30th who enter into a union will be considered married.

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