Category: Criminal law

What Rings Comey’s Bell: The Former FBI Director’s Casual Testimony Confirms the Worst About His Tenure

In his long-awaited testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony proved as casual as his appearance in an open shirt from his home office. Comey was hammered with embarrassing findings of errors under his watch in the handling of the Russian investigation, including the reliance on information that FBI agents warned might be Russian disinformation supplied by a Russian agent. After years of investigation, the FBI was unable to show that a single Trump official conspired or colluded with the Russians. Instead, investigations found extensive errors, irregular and criminal conduct, and statements of intense bias by key FBI figures. Yet, Comey proceeded to give what amounted to a series of shrugs in either denying any recollection of such information or deflecting responsibility to others. Continue reading “What Rings Comey’s Bell: The Former FBI Director’s Casual Testimony Confirms the Worst About His Tenure”

“This Idea Of This Presumption Of Innocence Is Over”: New Murder Trial Ordered Due To Prosecutor’s Closing Argument

In a relatively rare move, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned a first-degree murder conviction this week due to the inappropriate comments made by the prosecutor that the jury could dispense with notions of the presumption of innocence.  As a criminal defense attorney, I have dealt with this issue of abusive prosecutorial statements in closing arguments.  Yet, courts often do little, if anything, in response. This case could offer a real deterrent for such prosecutorial misconduct.

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Does Officer Jonathan Mattingly Have A Defamation Case In The Coverage Of The Breonna Taylor Case?

Louisville Metro Police Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly is reportedly moving forward with defamation actions against those who have called him a “murderer” for his role in the Breonna Taylor case. His attorney Todd McMurtry has been unclear on who would be sued for the commonly used label following the shooting of Taylor and her boyfriend Kenneth Walker.  A defamation is possible but it would be highly challenging under controlling case law and this specific context. Continue reading “Does Officer Jonathan Mattingly Have A Defamation Case In The Coverage Of The Breonna Taylor Case?”

Jesus The Stoner? Chinese Textbook Changes Biblical Account To Suggest Divine Support For Communist Rule

I recently wrote about law professors who embraced Chinese censorship on the Internet as a mind-blowing contradiction for intellectuals. However, China has done one better.  A school textbook changes a critical story in the Bible to support the authoritarian rule of the Communist Party. In the Chinese version of the story from The Gospel of John, Jesus still stops people from stoning a woman to death but when they leave, he then stones her to death because . . .  well  . . . she deserved it and that is the law. Fortunately, Jesus did not appear to make any direct reference to rendering Hong Kong unto Beijing.

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Taylor Grand Jury Decision Denounced By Legal and Media Analysts As Raw Racism or “State-Sponsored White Supremacy”

The Daily Kos and other sites are heralding the interview of Dr. Jason Johnson, MSNBC contributor and Morgan State journalism professor, who denounced the Kentucky Grand jury and prosecutors in the Brionna Taylor case as engaging in raw “state-sponsored white supremacy” in falling to indict the three police officers with murder.  Others declared the result as the product of obvious racism in the justice system and many ridiculed Kentucky Attorney General Kenneth Cameron as a traitor to the black community or “the Bull Connor” of black lawyers. These attacks ignore the legal barriers to the murder charges demanded by many.  While there are good faith reasons for many to criticize the charges or underlying decisions of the police, some of us warned that the case would present serious challenges given the shooting by Taylor’s boyfriend and the wounding of an officer.

Did Bloomberg Commit A Crime In Paying Off The Debts Of Black and Hispanic Former Felons To Allow Them To Vote?

Billionaire Mike Bloomberg has pledged to pour $100 million dollars in Florida alone to elect Joe Biden as part of his earlier pledge to pump hundreds of millions into the election.  The role of billionaires like Bloomberg and Sheldon Adelson in pouring hundreds of millions into the election for each side remains controversial, though many past critics of such windfall campaign financing are now demanding more support.  Bloomberg however is now under fire for pledging to pay off the debts of Black and Hispanic former felons to allow them to vote. The Washington Post reported that the funding of only Black and Hispanic former felons was due in part to the fact that they are more likely to vote for Biden.  That effort has led to allegations that Bloomberg may himself be committing a felony under Florida election laws. Much of this controversy is focused on the reporting of the Washington Post and an alleged Bloomberg memo. The money is actually distributed by a Florida organization committed to restoring voting rights for former felons.

Continue reading “Did Bloomberg Commit A Crime In Paying Off The Debts Of Black and Hispanic Former Felons To Allow Them To Vote?”

Iranian Court Orders The Amputation of The Fingers Of Three Teenagers Under Sharia Law

We have previously discussed the brutality of Islamic nations enforcing medieval Sharia law. Iran has given the world another shocking addition to the long list of beheadings, floggings, and other forms of Islamic punishment. A “court’ has ordered the amputation of the fingers of three teenagers found guilty of theft. Continue reading “Iranian Court Orders The Amputation of The Fingers Of Three Teenagers Under Sharia Law”

The Use of Sedition Laws Against Rioters Would Be Wrong

I have been critical recently of remarks attributed to Attorney General Bill Barr, including the alleged consideration of criminal charges against a mayor for not acting against rioters and the use of sedition charges against some individuals. The latter allegation was reinforced by the Associated Press after it obtained a memo to United States attorneys.  The memo suggests a more general use of sedition for anyone opposing government authority by force. Such a use of sedition laws directly threatens free speech values and would return to dark periods of the suppression of dissent in our country.  It is also entirely unnecessary given the array of ample and severe laws available to punish looters and rioters.

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Pennsylvania Judge Hits Lancaster Rioters With $1 Million Bails

There has been a controversy over the refusal of some in the media to use the word “rioters,” but one judge clearly does not see anything nuanced in the actions of those arrested rioting in Lancaster, Pennsylvania last week. Magisterial District Judge Bruce A. Roth set bail for nine of the defendants at $1 million each.  I personally view that bail as excessive under controlling case law.

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Florida Man Arrested After Attacking Elderly Man Who Asked For Social Distancing

We recently discussed the attack on an elderly man in an elevator over social distancing in Florida. Now, another Florida man, Rovester Ingram, has been charged with a vicious attack on a 70-year-old man at a convenience store after he was asked to social distance.  The charge caught my attention. Continue reading “Florida Man Arrested After Attacking Elderly Man Who Asked For Social Distancing”

No, The Justice Department Should Not Investigate Netflix’s “Cuties”

Several GOP leaders are calling on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate and take legal action against Netflix  for its promotion of the “Cuties” film.  The film has been denounced for its “sexualization of children.” I have seen the clip of the most controversial scene of young girls dancing which I found deeply disturbing and offensive. However, there is no criminal act alleged of child abuse. What is left is a strong and widely shared revulsion with the film, but that should not be an invitation for governmental action. The threat to free speech of such action is considerable, including the return to a long and detestable period of film censorship in the this country.

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Connecticut Professor Denounces Reinoehl Killing As A “Hit Job” While Describing His Killing of A Counterprotester As A Matter Of “Tactics”

We have been discussing the controversy after a Rhode Island Professor Eric Loomis declared that there was “nothing wrong” with the killing of Aaron “Jay” Danielson, the member of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer by Michael Reinoehl, an Antifa member. He insisted that the decision of whether to take the life of a “fascist” is purely a tactical, not moral, decision. Connecticut History Professor Manisha Sinha also weighed in on the issue. She referred to the killing of Reinoehl a “hit job” by police while using the same language of the killing of Danielson as a matter of tactics. She was cited by Loomis in a post.

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California Deputy Charged With Allegedly Stealing Suspect’s Debit Card and Giving It To Her Son

There is story out of Orange County this week that is an astonishing allegations of police corruption.  Deputy Sheriff Angelina Cortez, 41, is accused of stealing the credit card of an arrested person and then giving the debit card to her son to use to buy things. There are a couple aspects of this case which are intriguing.

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“I See Nothing Wrong With It”: Rhode Island Professor Defends Murder Of Right-Wing Protester In Portland

Most human beings were disgusted by the murder of Aaron “Jay” Danielson, the member of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer, in Portland. University of Rhode Island Professor Erik Loomis is not among them. Loomis defended the killing by Michael Reinoehl, an Antifa member who appears to have stalked Danielson before gunning him down.  Loomis insisted that any problem in gunning down right-wing counterprotesters was tactical not moral. Continue reading ““I See Nothing Wrong With It”: Rhode Island Professor Defends Murder Of Right-Wing Protester In Portland”