News Roundup

I’m traveling today so I’ll round up the news a bit more briefly than usual:

Court of appeals remands lethal injection case. The News and Observer reports here that the court of appeals has remanded a challenge to the state’s lethal injection protocol to superior court for further consideration. Executions likely will remain on hold in the interim.

The letter, the response, and the execution. Gawker media recently published a letter written by Texas inmate Ray Jasper about the problems with society and the criminal justice system. It attracted quite a bit of attention, much of it favorable. Jasper was convicted of murder in the stabbing death of a young man named David Alejandro, and David’s brother Steven responded to the letter and what he viewed as the inappropriate celebration of Jasper here. Jasper was just executed as noted here.

Serving a 1000 year sentence in 8 hours? I was intrigued by this post at Sentencing Law and Policy, which considers whether, in the future, drugs could be used to distort inmates’ sense of time, so that they subjectively experience very long sentences in just a few hours. As the kids say, trippy.

Miller retroactivity. Two more states held Alabama v. Miller (no automatic LWOP for juvenile murderers) retroactive recently: Illinois and Texas. It isn’t a consensus, but there’s clearly momentum on the side of retroactivity. The question remains open in North Carolina.

Allocution. This new paper has been making the rounds. It collects judges’ thoughts about what makes for effective allocution. A good read for defense attorneys.

Spare change? Finally, in New Jersey, a municipal employee was convicted of stealing over 11 tons of quarters – almost 2 million individual coins – that came from the town’s parking meters. Apparently they were kept in a city “coin room.” Don’t they have banks in New Jersey? The full story is here.

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One comment on “News Roundup

  1. I read Jasper’s letter. In fairness, if you do too, then you should also spend a little time with a letter written by the victim’s brother:

    Jasper makes the point that “When people read about the case, they assume I killed the victim, but the facts are undisputed that I did not kill the victim. The one who killed him plead guilty to capital murder for a life sentence.”

    But the facts of the case are that Jasper first attacked David Alejandro and slit his throat with a kitchen knife. This was not the wound that wound up killing him (his accomplice’s 25 other stabbings did that), but when you try to cut somebody’s throat that’s a fairly strong indication of intent.

    Jasper’s letter evokes the empathy that he wants the reader to feel. But his credibility in presenting this “honest view” is seriously eroded when he can’t even own up to his role in the crime he was incarcerated for. He makes it sound like he just happened to be hanging around when the murder was committed. In fact, he was very much involved in the planning and execution of the murder/robbery which landed him on death row.

    Jasper’s letter also makes it seem like this was the only thing he ever did wrong and he wasn’t given a chance in life. Steven Alejandro ‘s letter says that from the court transcripts one can learn that “…he (Jasper) did not grow up on the wrong side of the tracks, he came from a family wherein his father, a career military man, and his mother were still happily married. Jasper was not defended by a court appointed lawyer; his defense was comprised of a well paid for and well known private practice firm. Jasper had a history of arrests and in fact was out on bail when he participated in the murder of David. He had, weeks before, assaulted an off-duty police officer who had stumbled upon Jasper attempting to break into a house…”

    Surprisingly, Steven Alejandro is against the death penalty. He admits his position put him at odds with doing nothing to speak out against the execution of Jasper. But that’s an honest conflict I think many people could empathize with. At least he’s honest about his own hypocrisy, which is not something that can be said of Jasper.