Category: Criminal law

Ireland To Hold Referendum On Removing Anti-Blasphemy Offenses From Constitution

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

This October twenty-sixth, voters in Ireland will decide at the polls if the country’s prohibition on blasphemy should be removed from the nation’s constitution. It comes for me as a welcome sign of some progress against what otherwise was a trend in Western Europe toward establishing an international blasphemy standard that many regard as censorship and a vehicle for possible criminal prosecution of speech and expression.

While the Irish government has insisted that no persons have been successfully prosecuted for blasphemy since the 1850s, the existence of any such statute serves as leverage by the state to control what its citizens may say or what behavior it considers objectionable. The time for repeal I believe has arrived.

Continue reading “Ireland To Hold Referendum On Removing Anti-Blasphemy Offenses From Constitution”

North Carolina University Student Found Guilty Of Destroying Confederate Statue But Given No Punishment

I have been critical of the handling of cases where protesters destroy statutes that they find offensive.  When various protesters in North Carolina who torn down a statue in public and then celebrated their criminal acts in broad daylight. Because the statue of a civil war memorial, the act of property destruction was condoned by many and Durham District Attorney Roger Echols caved to the pressure in dropping all charges against everyone.  It was effective immunity for a popular criminal act — a dangerous concept in any legal system.  Not surprisingly, others soon claimed the right to unilaterally destroy property, including protesters on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s campus who took it upon themselves to destroy the controversial Silent Sam Confederate statue. 

I was critical of not only the failure to stop the destruction of the statue despite police at the scene but the decision not to charge above the misdemeanor level. Maya Little, a 26-year-old doctoral student of history, mixed with her own blood with red ink on the statue and was equally unapologetic before the court in declaring “The Orange County court system must also reckon with the Black blood that stains it.”

Now Orange County District Judge Samantha Cabe has found Little guilty but the declined to impose any penalties. Cabe seemed to yield to the argument of Little that she was triggered by the statue or, as her counsel argued, “One person’s defacement is another person’s improvement.”

Cabe backed away from any punishment despite the premeditation of the act and lack of remorse.  Cabe effectively left some public art without the real protection of the law in granting  “continued judgment” — sparing Little for even paying court costs or a technical criminal violation.

The concern is that, once again, there may be no penalty (and thus no deterrent) for those planning and then destroying public art due to public support or sympathy with their acts.

Senior Treasury Official Charged With Leaking Material Related To Russian Investigation

In what could prove the most serious leak prosecution in decades, senior Treasure Department official  Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, 40, has been charged with leaking information to the news organization, Buzzfeed, that she removed from her work at  Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). According to the criminal complaint,  she was the source of leaked financial information on Paul Manafort, Maria Butina and other suspects charged in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.  While she allegedly first sought to conceal her relationship with a report and denied any contacts with the media, she later claimed to be a whistleblower. That is not likely to help her. She was reportedly found with a drive or memory device containing information in what could prove a lengthy sentence if convicted. Continue reading “Senior Treasury Official Charged With Leaking Material Related To Russian Investigation”

California Professor Who Assaulted Pro-Life Advocates Is Featured by Oregon To Help Students “Embrace . . . The Radical Potential of Black Feminism in Our Everyday Lives”

I have written a great deal about the disturbing case of  Feminist Studies Associate Professor Mireille Miller-Young who criminally assault pro-life advocates on campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara.  I have expressed my shock that she was not fired by the University of California and how she was supported by many faculty and students in her violent response to a pro-life display.  Now however she will be honored as a featured speaker at the University of Oregon’s  Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies.  Part of its “black feminist speaker series,” Miller-Young will “discuss her work on black feminism, labor and sex work.”  The College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of English promise that the series will show “the radical potential of black feminism in the work that we do on campus and in our everyday lives.”  She will presumably leave out her work leading students in a violent attack on free speech. Continue reading “California Professor Who Assaulted Pro-Life Advocates Is Featured by Oregon To Help Students “Embrace . . . The Radical Potential of Black Feminism in Our Everyday Lives””

Hardy Questions His Training After Finding This . . . and Getting A Couple Minutes With the Squeaky Toy As A Reward

This just may be my favorite picture of the year.  U.S. Customs and Border Protection beagle Hardy found a roasted pig ‘s head in checked luggage at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.  You can almost hear the dog’s inner voice saying “I find this and the ole Hardy ‘good boy’ and a squeaky toy?”  This is precisely why they cannot get cats to do this work. Continue reading “Hardy Questions His Training After Finding This . . . and Getting A Couple Minutes With the Squeaky Toy As A Reward”

Three Reasons Mueller May Not Charge On Obstruction

440px-Alfred_Hitchcock_(1955)Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the curious status of the obstruction investigation that was the original rationale for a special counsel investigation.  While Special Counsel Robert Mueller is likely to sharply chastise (with good reason) Trump’s comments and conduct vis-a-vis former FBI Director James Comey, he is not making any of the moves that one would expect from a prosecutor building an obstruction case.  Here are three reasons why this may be the Hickcockian bomb that does not go off. Continue reading “Three Reasons Mueller May Not Charge On Obstruction”

Fourteen Months and Counting: Rob Rosenstein Should Recuse Himself From The Mueller Probe

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on recent stories indicating that top Justice Department officials raised the recusal of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein back in June 2017.  I first raised Rosenstein’s recusal in June and August of that year when the Mueller investigation began based on his role in the firing of James Comey and I have repeatedly called for the recusal since then (here and here and here).  Unless Mueller has told Rosenstein that he does not consider obstruction to be a serious matter for criminal investigation in this context, it is difficult to see how Rosenstein can continue. Indeed, even if Mueller rejects obstruction theories, Rosenstein should not have continued as his superior in the investigation while that matter was explored in compliance with the mandate given Mueller.

Here is the column:

Continue reading “Fourteen Months and Counting: Rob Rosenstein Should Recuse Himself From The Mueller Probe”

Pro-Life Students Attacked at Ryerson University in Latest Assault on Free Speech

We have been following the increasing violence seen on college campuses, particularly directed against conservative and pro-life speakers.  The latest incident occurred at Ryerson University in Ontario  where a video captured Ryerson Student Gabriela “Gabby” Skwarko attacking two members of Toronto Against Abortion (TAA).  Skwarko works for the school’s Office of Social Innovation. The video below shows a violent and unprovoked attack to stop an act of free speech on campus. Continue reading “Pro-Life Students Attacked at Ryerson University in Latest Assault on Free Speech”

Ohio University Student Arrested After Making False Claims Of Threatening Messages Due To LGBTQ Status

Anna Ayers, a student at Ohio University and a member of the OU student senate, recently caused an uproar at the university after saying that she received threatening messages, including a death threat, due to being part of the LGBTQ community.  Police now say that Ayers made the entire thing up and have arrested her for “making false alarms.” That wording seemed a bit curious so I went to the state code, which indeed has a provision that departs from the usual language of a false police report.   Continue reading “Ohio University Student Arrested After Making False Claims Of Threatening Messages Due To LGBTQ Status”

Washington State Strikes Down The Death Penalty As Racially Biased and Arbitrary

washington-flag-sealWashington’s Supreme Court unanimously struck down the state’s death penalty Thursday based on the way that it has been used in an arbitrary and racially discriminatory manner. It was a surprising basis since usually capital punishment is rejected as cruel and unusual punishment. It is the punishment, not the imposition of the punishment, that is the common argument against executions. Continue reading “Washington State Strikes Down The Death Penalty As Racially Biased and Arbitrary”

Kuwait: We Are Not Orwellian . . . We Banned Orwell

504px-Coat_of_Arms_of_Kuwait-2.svg1984-Big-BrotherKuwait has continued to remind the world that, despite its advances in the modern world, it remains a religiously orthodox government imposing medieval values on its population.  That fact was on display this week as the government banned such works as “The Little Mermaid” and Michelangelo’s David as unIslamic or indecent.  Sounds Orwellian? Perhaps but Kuwaiti’s would not know it . . .  Orwell’s masterpiece “1984” was also banned.

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Pro-Life Executions? Idaho Republican Calls For Prosecutions For Women Who Get Abortions, Including Capital Punishment

 

Continue reading “Pro-Life Executions? Idaho Republican Calls For Prosecutions For Women Who Get Abortions, Including Capital Punishment”

Washington Woman Chases Husband With Meat Tenderizer and Then Lays Across Road . . .Only To Be Run Over By Drunk Driver

imagesThere are some cases that seem right out of a tort exam. This is one.  In Kent, Washington, a woman chased her husband outside with a meat tenderizer after an argument.  After he crossed a road, she decided to lay down across the road. She was then run over by a drunk driver, who was later arrested. Continue reading “Washington Woman Chases Husband With Meat Tenderizer and Then Lays Across Road . . .Only To Be Run Over By Drunk Driver”

Boofed Is The New Borked: How Democrats Laid A Perjury Trap For Brett Kavanaugh

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Below is my column in USA Today on what appears now to be a clear perjury strategy against Judge Brett Kavanaugh that focuses more on his credibility than his alleged criminality.  There are many who have questioned whether Kavanaugh testified truthfully on the meaning of well-known sexual terms as well as his statements on his prior drinking habits.  Clearly, any false testimony would be a barrier to confirmation regardless of the subject.  Yet, this confirmation could create a new term for future nominees: “boofed.”  The questioning on high school lexicon and conduct is a new element in confirmations — precedent that could further degrade our process for selecting Supreme Court justices.

Here is the column: Continue reading “Boofed Is The New Borked: How Democrats Laid A Perjury Trap For Brett Kavanaugh”