The Relación of Fray Ramón Pané famously records what one Hieronymite friar learned about the religious beliefs and healing practices of the Taíno between 1494 and 1496 (bilingual PDF with another translation and more introductory material), supposedly at the request of Christopher Columbus. Research published in 2006 on a "Lost document [that] reveals Columbus as a tyrant of the Caribbean" indicates that Pané was also a key witness in the trial of Columbus, partially responsible for sending Columbus home in chains, as depicted on the Columbus Doors of the U. S. Capitol building (detail).
Ian McEwan: the law versus religious belief. [The Guardian]
The conjoined twins who would die without medical intervention, a boy who refused blood transfusions on religious grounds…Ian McEwan on the stories from the family courts that inspired his latest novel.[more inside]
(tw: rape) Kathleen Hale reflects on her assault, the subsequent trial, and the relationship between predators and prey.
Simpson is in Lovelock because he was convicted of kidnapping and armed robbery in Nevada in 2008; he's serving a sentence of up to 33 years, with the possibility of parole in 2017. He will turn 67 next month, but the O.J. personage who remains a cultural touchstone is much younger. That one was born 20 years ago this week, on June 17, 1994, a day that spawned a series of events that are as ingrained in Americana as anything that happened at Valley Forge or in Dealey Plaza. Sports Illustrated tackles Orenthal James Simpson.
The legal framework of terrorism has been ... complex. Under the Bush Administration, terrorists were deemd to be "unlawful enemy combatants," and not afforded the protections of the III Geneva Convention. The policy, thought not the name, has continued under the Obama Adminstration, and this indeterminate legal status has significantly complicated efforts to try or release them. However, there is an older legal model that may suffice: piracy. (previously [more inside]
Twelve Absent Men: Rebuilding the American Jury. "Juries hear only 4 percent of criminal trials in America. Their decline has fostered radical punitiveness, but reforms and novel institutions are breathing new life into the jury and civic participation more broadly."
Trials by Ordeal were a method of determining guilt or innocence by putting the accused through various torturous experiences. Today these approaches are frequently-mocked and banned almost everywhere, though Sassywood remains common in Liberia. However, economist Peter Leeson argues that trial by ordeal may have been a very effective way of dispensing justice, especially when courts and juries were expensive or broken. According to the paper [PDF], a superstitious belief in iudicium Dei, or the justice of God, may have discouraged the guilty from ordeals, while tilting the scales in favor of the innocent - echoes of the practice persist today in swearing on a Bible. Even Sassywood [pdf] may be better than Liberia's broken justice system.
9 years and 364 days ago, the then MEP (and later cabinet minister), Chris Huhne caught a flight back from Brussels to London Stansted, landing at 10.27pm. He picked up his car, with the distinctive number plate H11HNE, and sped back to his home in Clapham, South London, setting in motion a chain of events that would ultimately see him and his wife, economist Vicky Pryce, each sentenced to 8 months in jail. [more inside]
"I now have mixed feelings about this trial. On the one hand, we now expect a guilty verdict. Compared to the judicial machine, we are nobodies, and we have lost. On the other hand, we have won. Now the whole world sees that the criminal case against us has been fabricated. The system cannot conceal the repressive nature of this trial. Once again, Russia looks different in the eyes of the world from the way Putin tries to present it at daily international meetings. All the steps toward a state governed by the rule of law that he promised have obviously not been made. And his statement that the court in our case will be objective and make a fair decision is another deception of the entire country and the international community. That is all. Thank you." - Yekaterina Samutsevich: Closing Statement at the Pussy Riot Trial
Benula Bensam, not having landed a summer job, decided to attend the Rajat Gupta trial. She felt that some of the judge's evidentiary rulings were incorrect, and so sent him three letters. The judge, Jed Rakoff, was not amused.
Following a jury finding that Google had not infiringed upon Oracles patents, a development described as a near disaster for the database company, Judge William Aslup has ruled that the Java APIs cannot be copyrighted. That leaves Oracle with only the 9 lines of rangeCheck code and a handfull of decompiled test files to show for the massivecourt case. CEO Larry Ellison remains confident, claiming that the aquisition of Java creator Sun has still paid for itself.
If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try, try, try, try again: black Mississippi man tried six times for the same crime.
The Supreme Court of the United States has held only one criminal trial in its history: United States v. Shipp. [more inside]
England's Obscenity Trial of the Decade is over, with unanimous Not Guilty verdicts being returned for all 6 charges. R v Peacock was a rare outing for the Obscene Publications Act 1959 and its out-lawing of media which depraves and corrupts, and despite being shown DVDs of explicit homosexual acts, fisting, testicular torture, rape scenes, prolaspses and other acts the prosecution described as extreme the jury decided the material didn't breech the law. Alex d. live tweeted the proceeding and Peacock's supprters are celebratory. The question now is what is obscene in today's society, and is the act still relevant. [more inside]
June 25th 1906, was the opening night of the musical revue Mamzelle Champagne on the roof of Madison Square Garden. In attendance were Stanford White, renowned architect (Washington Square Arch, Judson Memorial Church, Madison Square Garden itself), and Harry Kendall Thaw, eccentric coal and railroad scion. During the performance of the song I Could Love a Million Girls, Thaw "left his seat near the stage, passed between a number of tables, and, in full view of the players and of scores of persons, shot White through the head." (pdf) Standing over White’s body, Thaw said “You’ll never go out with that woman again.” [more inside]
Federal Prosecutors Are Allowed To Break Laws and Ethical Violations U.S. Senator from Alaska, Ted Stevens was charged with and convicted of corruption in 2008. The prosecutors were admonished by the judge for their actions during the trial such as sending home to Alaska, a witness who would have helped Sen Stevens. Furthermore in direct violation of Brady v Maryland, the prosecutors withheld evidence from the defense. The DoJ decided that the DoJ did nothing wrong with such violations because they were not explicitly told not to break the law. Because the judge took the government at their word, that they would obey the law, he did not issue a court order demanding that they do so, therefor allowing the attorneys carte blanche.
Start a home business, get rich quick, win financial freedom! If you watch late-night TV, you've heard it all before. But what's the story behind these slick pitchmen and their dubious schemes? Enter The Salty Droid, your ornery metal guide to the corrupt underworld of scam-marketing scum. This charmingly acerbic bot (owned and operated by mild-mannered Chicago dog-lover Jason Michael Jones [inter-view, long talk + transcript]) is a valiant crusader against the vile con-men who bankrupt the elderly and the desperate with beautiful lies. Exposed so far: A shadowy "Syndicate" of frauduct-pushing personality cults polluting the media with blogspam and woo-woo talking points. Boiler rooms in the Utah desert where telemarketers farm credit from easy targets with cunning, probing scripts [PDF]. Powerful politicians bought wholesale. Believers left to die in fraudulent new-age vision quests. It's a soul-crushing beat, enough to make one feel like a regular catcher-bot in the digital rye. But somebody's got to do it -- preferably someone with plasma nunchucks and titanium skin.
London Metropolitan Police formulated policy of refusing bail to all arrested in London riots which might have influenced high remand in custody rate.
Lauded as a civil disobedience symbol agitating for urgent reaction to climate change, Timothy DeChristopher was sentenced Tuesday to two years in federal prison. [more inside]
The Legend of The Goatriders (Bokkenrijders): In the Limburg region at the end of the 18th century, between 300 and 600 individuals were tortured, tried and executed, accused of being members of a notorious and heretical band of robbers (who rode across the night sky on the backs of goats). But were they devil-worshipping hoodlums or the product of the economic and class pressures of their time? Regardless they have made their way into legend on TV and the printed page. (PDF link, from the European Ghost Literary Project) [more inside]
Based on a lack of evidence for efficacy, "an FDA panel unanimously voted to revoke its approval of Avastin (bevacizumab) for breast cancer. The decision evoked cheers from some groups and jeers from others. At least one group derided the decision as the work of a 'death panel'". An interesting article on the withdrawal of a "miracle" drug from a section of the market, explaining the reasoning behind the decision and discussing the reaction from patients, many of whom believe -- despite the evidence -- that the drug was actually helping them. [more inside]
The Neverending Nightmare of Amanda Knox. In an in-depth new article in Rolling Stone, writer Nathaniel Rich makes a compelling case for the innocence of the American student at the center of a sordid, long-running Italian crime drama. [via Longreads]
The runners’ bibs say something different each year: SUFFERING WITHOUT A POINT; NOT ALL PAIN IS GAIN
The Immortal Horizon: Thirty-Five Runners Face Hollers and Hells, a Flooded Prison, Rats the Size of Possums, and Flesh-Flaying Briars to Test the Limits of Self-Sufficiency in a race only eight men have ever finished.
"This conflict of interest hits at the heart of the attorney-client relationship." Robert Caulley has served 14 years of a life sentence for the murder of his parents, a crime he says he didn't commit. Some hope that unknown DNA found on a gun at the crime scene will prove his innocence, citing similar exonerations in other high-profile Ohio cases, but so far Caulley's attempts to revisit his case with further DNA testing have failed. But look, Caulley already had his day in court with his lawyer by his side, doing everything possible to clear him, right? So he thought -- until he learned that his defense attorney was sleeping with his wife during his trial.
Scott Horton at Harpers.org writes about Julian P. Heicklen, a 78-year-old retired chemistry professor from New Jersey, now faces federal criminal charges for informing people entering the federal courthouse about the doctrine of jury nullification. Scott Horton's post is a response to the New York Times column on Mr. Heicklen. [more inside]
I’ve spent the better part of the week serving as the foreman for a jury in a criminal case. As they tell you, you’re not allowed to talk about it with anyone, not even your fellow jurors, during the trial. As they also tell you, once the trial is over you can talk about anything you want. So, here goes.
The four most senior surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge have been formally indicted for genocide, and will stand trial next year. Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith and Khieu Samphan had all previously surrendered to the government under amnesty deals. Senior goverment officials have refused to appear before the Cambodia Tribunal as witnesses, and the tribunals judges are split on whether they can be compelled.
Oakland, California, is bracing for a possible repeat of the 2009 riot [previously] once a verdict in the trial of former BART cop Johannes Mehserle for the 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant [previously] comes in. [more inside]
A federal judge in California will hear closing arguments today in the landmark legal case that will determine the constitutionality of California's same-sex marriage ban , first approved by voters as Proposition 8 in November 2008. Previously. also Previously. [more inside]
There's got to be a better way! A digest of why your life is so hard, as demonstrated in low-budget television advertisements. SLYT
As ongoing investigations into the sexual abuse of children, cover-ups and avoidance of justice climb the hierarchy of the Catholic church to implicate Pope Benedict himself, the head of the Vatican's tribunal has taken the unprecedented step of publicly reinforcing the Pope's status not as father of the church but as a head of state - and thus immune from prosecution. [more inside]
Jury nullification, a situation in which jurors acquit in a criminal trial even if the facts favor conviction (often because the jurors disagree with the law), is of ancient provenance in the Anglo-American legal tradition. Courts are ambivalent towards it, regarding it both as quasi-illegal (they'll remove jurors if they catch them during the attempt) and as something that they cannot overturn once it happens. Nullification has furthered many causes, from anti-death-penalty to pro-southern-lynchings. Lawyers can't mention it in court on pain of contempt, but some hope to educate people in other ways.
The first criminal trial without a jury to take place in England and Wales in more than 400 years begins tomorrow. [more inside]
The capture of Adolf Eichmann is one of the more daring spy operations in the post WWII era. The story spans 17 years, beginning with Eichmann's clandestine escape from the Allied forces and the Nuremberg trial, and ending with his hanging in Israel. [more inside]
Six Years after the murder of Lana Clarkson, Phil Spector has been found guilty. (previously) [more inside]
Martha "Sunny" von Bulow died this weekend at a nursing home in New York City, nearly 28 years after being found unconscious at her Rhode Island estate (and subsequently falling into an irreversible coma) in December 1980. Her husband Claus, who obviously became a controversial figure, was found guilty of her attempted murder (the alleged method being an overdose of insulin), but his conviction was overturned on appeal and he received a second trial in which he was acquitted. The sensational case, which featured testimony from many notables including Truman Capote, attracted worldwide publicity and rocked high society. It spawned numerous books, television shows and a 1990 movie.
Several prisoners held at Guantanamo are charged, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. According to this soundbite, after their time in military court, they'll be able to appeal the decision in civilian court.
[Newsfilter]: Fighting a recording industry lawsuit for file sharing saying "it wasn't me!" is probably a really, really bad idea. Jury awards recording companies $222,000 for willfully infringing the copyright on 24 songs in first-to-trial file sharing lawsuit.
Salvador and Mabel Mangano, the owners of St. Rita’s nursing home in St. Bernard Parish, where 35 patients drowned in Hurricane Katrina’s flood waters, were found not guilty of negligent homicide and cruelty to the infirm charges tonight by a six-member jury. Read their story and decide for yourself if they're guilty.
Proceedings against MF Husain have been stayed in India's Supreme Court. A painting by the celebrated Muslim artist, apparently depicting Mother India as a nude, led Hindus to bring an obscenity case and proceedings to seize his Mumbai property were initiated. However his lawyers moved swiftly to frustrate the action, transferring the property into his son's name and then seeking the High Court ruling. Hindus have taken offense at previous paintings by Husain, depicting Hindu deities in allegedly obscene ways. Others disagree.
Liveblogging the Scooter Libby (Plame-outing) Trial. Get your popcorn. This is compelling (and potentially historic) stuff. Firedoglake.com is highly recommended. There is also a lot of knowledge to be found in the comments. Feel somewhat behind and want to catch-up quickly? Some are wondering why this isn't getting more play in the evening news. Perhaps the public isn't clamoring for it? ABCnews, CBS News, NBC/MSNBC News (does this page even work?), FoxNews, and CNN.
Politics/PlameFilter: In opening arguments today in the Plame investigation perjury case against Vice President Cheney's former Chief of Staff I. Lewis Libby, the prosecutor portrayed Libby as an agent of a Cheney-driven media offensive. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day came from Libby's attorney, who portrayed his client as a White House-chosen scapegoat for Karl Rove's misdeeds. A conservative reporter saw in Libby's emerging defense a "dramatic split inside the Bush White House." An MSNBC host asked whether this hullabaloo could lead to Cheney's resignation. Background on the case. Liveblogging of today's arguments from an anti-administration perspective.
"Saddam Hussein after his capture addressed the court with the same challenge that Charles I threw at his judges: ‘By what legal authority do you try me?’" "Therefore, let me know by what authority I am called hither." ...and therein trusted with a limited power to govern by and according to the laws of the land, and not otherwise;... "‘Lex is Rex’, is what they’d said in the ship money case. The king is the law, the king is above the law, and the king can’t be brought to trial." "-- the president is always right, Senator."
No Death Sentence for '20th Skyjacker' Moussaoui (he Newsfiltered), and as he was led from the courtroom, the defendant, who had looked for the last few weeks like he was campaigning for martyrdom, clapped his hands and said “America, you lost. I won.” (I had severely underestimated this character's skill at Political Theater) In spite of the final spit-in-the-face-of-the-US, MSNBC.com's Unscientific Instapoll has 51% saying it was the right decision, while CNN.com's Poll says 63%, and Foxnews.com's poll... is about tax cuts. Disclaimer: Yes, I do some writing for the Entertainment section at MSNBC.com, but the News department does not know I exist and doesn't want to. And newssite instapolls are so-o-o Web 1.0, I know, but still, what's with the non-outrage?
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