News Roundup

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It’s been quite a while since I assembled a news roundup, and as usual, there are more interesting, relevant news items than I can reasonably fit into a post. I’ll try to limit myself to the most noteworthy.

1. Timothy Hennis, acquitted of murder in a civilian trial 20 years ago, was convicted by a military jury in Fayetteville yesterday. The News and Observer’s story is here. The military trial didn’t violate double jeopardy because it was conducted by a separate sovereign, i.e., the federal government. The case is particularly newsworthy because Hennis was on the Death Penalty Information Center’s innocence list — actually, he still is, as of this writing, though apparently he will be removed. His presence on the list has been emphasized by critics of the list, such as the bloggers at Crime and Consequences.

2. Speaking of the death penalty, the Los Angeles Times ran an editorial recently in which it stated that “Los Angeles County sent more people to death row last year than any other county in the U.S.,” argued that we are “all guilty of state-sanctioned murder” if and when an innocent person is executed, and concluded that “L.A. prosecutors aren’t just being overzealous, they’re being inhumane” in pursuing the death penalty so frequently. The editorial has drawn considerable fire, including here and here. I will add one statistical note: according to Wikipedia, Los Angeles County is not just the most populous county in the United States, it is almost twice as large as the next biggest.

3. Law school clinics, particularly at state-funded institutions, have been a hot topic in the news and in the blogosphere lately. The New York Times reported on a controversy in Maryland where, after a clinic sued a major local employer, the state legislature took a keen interest in the clinic. Some argue that clinics are among the few entities capable of taking on established interests with deep pockets, while others contend that clinics should stay out of politically controversial issues. An argument that state-funded clinics involved in capital cases should provide equal time and support to both sides is here.

4. Other interesting tidbits include (a) this story about a sheriff who wants jail inmates to pedal stationary bicycles as the price of watching TV, (b) this story about a proposal in Louisiana to have drug offenders’ drivers’ licenses stamped “drug offender,” and (c) this blog post about a new civil libertarian video called “Ten Rules for Dealing with Police.” It apparently contains “useful advice for law-abiding citizens about how to properly exercise their rights to refuse searches that are not based on warrants or probable cause.”

4 comments on “News Roundup

  1. Hennis is not the only example. Robert Earl Hayes, one of the six criminals featured in the play (and movie), “The Exonerated,” had his conviction for murdering a horse groomer at a race track in Florida overturned. He is now serving 15 to 45 years in New York for murdering, wait for it: a horse groomer at a race track.

    A good deal of the people who were, “exonerated,” merely had their convictions overturned on legal technicalities. They were hardly innocent.

  2. You would say something like that as a ADA. The system that we have does not just disappoint me, it has shaken my beliefs in it, in the people that work in it, and in my sense of reality. You do not even know how it is to be a defendant. For you its all about winning a case, even if there was a fair probability from the evidence that a person did not commit the crime and you knew it you still would try to prosecute the guy.

    • And you would say something like that as a criminal defendant. I laugh at your baseless accusations that I prosecute innocent people. I have dismissed several cases where I had actual, reliable proof of innocence. I have also dismissed many cases where I knew the person was guilty, but I was not able to prove the case with admissible evidence.

      My job is not about winning at all costs; it is about seeking justice, no matter what justice is.

      • actual reliable proof! look a what happened in state v miller no:309A08 supreme court decision. there was not no evidence to show he knew of the drugs in the room. all the state had was his birth certificate, an id of his, and his mere proximity to the drugs in the room. now because of this stupid case, many innocent people are going to be convicted felons, and even worse be in prison. even though MILLER might have been a turd, how did he get justice. and because of this case many more people are going to be screwed.

        thanks to this case i bet many ADA’s mouths are watering, because of their ability to convict people for possession of contraband with very little evidence.

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