Prison and the Mentally Ill in Massachusetts: The Globe reports on the pitfalls and consequences of using a retribution-based correctional system on the criminally insane in MA, as inmates in the state kill themselves at triple the national rate. Part I. Part II. Part III (in tomorrow's Globe). Photos of the system's most troubled. Last words of some disturbed inmates. [more inside]
US has right to kidnap any defendant, anywhere, anytime, says it's UK lawyer. Until now it was commonly assumed that US law permitted kidnapping only in the “extraordinary rendition” of terrorist suspects. The American government has for the first time made it clear in a British court that the law applies to anyone, British or otherwise, suspected of a crime by Washington. [more inside]
"Free and Uneasy: The First Year Out." The story of wrongfully convicted Jeffrey Deskovic. And others.
Justice "live" on Jimmy Kimmel -- An interesting solution to the problem of 'performing' electronic music.
Hooker raped & robbed by justice system. Apparently, if you're a prostitute and you're gang-raped at gunpoint, that's not actually rape, but "theft of services". In Philadelphia, judge Teresa Carr Deni ruled exactly that in a case where a woman posted a Craigslist ad offering sex for money -- but when she met with her John, instead of the agreed upon exhange, he pulled a gun on her, raped her, then invited four other men to rape her as well. As if this weren't sad enough, a near-identical case -- with the same defendant -- came up four days later, and the prosecutor decided not to even try it as to not put the woman through the misery of being so resoundly denied justice. Devolution is real, spuds.
The man who knew too much. "He was the CIA's expert on Pakistan's nuclear secrets, but Rich Barlow was thrown out and disgraced when he blew the whistle on a US cover-up. Now he's to have his day in court."
The Erosion of a Murder Case Against Marines in the Killing of 24 Iraqi Civilians. "Last year, when accounts of the killing of 24 Iraqis in Haditha by a group of marines came to light, it seemed that the Iraq war had produced its defining atrocity, just as the conflict in Vietnam had spawned the My Lai massacre a generation ago. But on Thursday, a senior military investigator recommended dropping murder charges against the ranking enlisted marine accused in the 2005 killings, just as he had done earlier in the cases of two other marines charged in the case. The recommendation may well have ended prosecutors’ chances of winning any murder convictions in the killings of the apparently unarmed men, women and children." [Via The Agonist.]
The Right Livelihood Award "celebrates and supports people of vision. People who have ideas and apply them in concrete initiatives for the public good. They give hope for tomorrow, for a world in peace and balance. They demonstrate how we can overcome oppression, war, poverty, the destruction of our environment, and a widespread sense of meaninglessness and fear."
California Where the Rich do Fine While the Poor are Doing Time "Hell, you got to live with it, there's nothing else to live with except mendacity, is there?" Big Daddy, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof
As of yesterday, Dr. Mohammed Haneef was released from jail, amidst speculation that his incarceration had been unjust, and is on his way back home. It is believed that once he is ready, there will be a lucrative deal waiting for him if he wishes to tell his story (pdf of his transcript of detention), but for now, his wife, Firdaus Ashriya, is happy to have her husband back home.
One day while crossing an empty field, fifteen-year-old Tim Masters happened to see a dead body. Twenty years later, he remains in prison, serving time for a crime that he almost certainly did not commit. A haunting, bizarre tale of a murder investigation gone wrong.
Brent Kovar got investors and employees to believe his invention was the next big thing, but nobody's ever seen it. Mister Kovar had also been appointed in 2003 to the Business Advisory Council of the National Republican Congressional Committee by then-Congressional Majority Leader Tom Delay. Apparently, a DC-9 they co-owned (painted to resemble aircraft from the U.S. Dept of Homeland Security) was busted in Mexico with 5.5 tons of cocaine on board. First link via fark
Judge bans the word "rape" from a rape trial. Jeffre Cheuvront, a Nebraska judge, "granted a motion by defense attorneys barring the use of the words rape, sexual assault, victim, assailant, and sexual assault kit from the trial of Pamir Safi—accused of raping Tory Bowen in October 2004." This move follows some tightening of language during trials meant to avoid unnecessarily swaying jury members. But has it gone too far this time?
'You Can't See Why on an fMRI.' Brian Doherty explores the vagaries of the insanity defense, centering on the sad cases of Andrea Yates and Eric Clark.
When Karen Lodrick turned away from ordering her latte at the Starbucks at Church and Market streets, there it was, slung over the arm of the woman behind her... a "beaucoup expensive" light-brown suede coat with faux fur trim at the collar, cuffs and down the middle. The only other time Lodrick had seen that particular coat was on a security camera photo that her bank, Wells Fargo, showed her of the woman who had stolen her identity. The photo was taken as the thief was looting Lodrick's checking account. And thus a foot chase towards justice began. (via the Consumerist)
...students arrived at the local high school to find three hangman's nooses dangling from a tree in the courtyard. ...
Under the ole shade tree... Welcome to Jena, LA -- mix high school segregation, racism, nooses, fights, ineffective school administration, attempted-murder charges, shotguns, and a town in upheaval--a "racial powder keg". Much more here, including links to help.
It began with an innocent-looking Valentine's Day card in 2005. Inside the card were several slips of paper, a hastily cut-up printout of names of 550 secret detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The human rights lawyer who received "this weird valentine" handed it over to authorities, and this week the court martial begins for JAG LtCmdr Matthew Diaz, facing 36 years for divulging state secrets.
Whither goest thou, American Jurisprudence?>
Whither goest thou, American Jurisprudence?>
... Karl Rove, a handful of the party's most tech-savvy computer gurus and the former Republican Ohio Secretary of State, created, owned and operated the vote-counting system...
Network Hosting Attorney Scandal E-Mails Also Hosted Ohio's 2004 Election Results --...more than ample documentation to show that on Election Night 2004, Ohio's "official" Secretary of State website -- which gave the world the presidential election results -- was redirected from an Ohio government server to a group of servers that contain scores of Republican web sites, including the secret White House e-mail accounts that have emerged in the scandal surrounding Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's firing of eight federal prosecutors. ...
"Guantanamo Unclassified." Adel Hamad, a 48-year-old Sudanese elementary-school teacher, has been held at Guantanamo for five years without charge or evidence of a crime. His lawyers have been unable to convince a federal court to review his case, so they started started Project Hamad and posted a short movie about him online. This is an example of how human rights activists can use YouTube to bring their cases to the public.
Neurolaw - The Brain on the Stand
Elf Defense. A man accused of a stealing underwear from a shop in a knifepoint raid believed he was a female elf at the time. He was found guilty. The man believed he was playing Shadowrun at the time.
Convicted as an ecoterrorist, a brilliant young scholar nose-dives in prison. An article on Billy Cottrell, a physics genius with Asperger's Syndrome who was sentenced to 8.5 years in prison for his role in destroying $5 million worth of SUVs. His case was previously discussed here. [Via BB.]
... add the phrase, “who are capable of having children with one another” to the legal definition of marriage...
Washington Initiative Requires Proof of Procreation From Married Couples -- in response to a ruling made by the Washington Supreme Court last year stating gay and lesbian couples could be prevented from marrying by the state because Washington has a legitimate interest in preserving marriage for couples who can procreate. It's been accepted by their Secy of State, and only needs signatures now to get on the ballot. Press release here, which adds: The time has come for these conservatives to be dosed with their own medicine. If same-sex couples should be barred from marriage because they can not have children together, it follows that all couples who can not or will not have children together should equally be barred from marriage.
Court Decision, re: Fisher v. Lowe, Feb. 1999. Car ends up in man's yard. Man sues driver. Judge administers poetic justice. [via]
Jan. 11, 2002, the first 20 detainees, shackled and blindfolded, arrived from Afghanistan .... and since then, nearly 800 prisoners have passed through the detention center in southeastern Cuba. To mark the anniversary, demonstrations are planned Thursday in New York, London, Sydney, Australia, and other cities as well as dozens of small towns in the United States and Britain. Gitmo Detainees Join Hunger Strike .... & .... WikiPeidia History Article
Undark and the Radium Girls is the fascinating true story of several female employees of the US Radium Corporation at the turn of the 20th Centry. The women were employed to paint radioactive "Undark", a glow-in-the-dark paint for military application (dials that needed to be seen at night, etc) onto the machinery. The women were given lethal amounts of paint & fine brushes, which they all routinely kept sharp by wetting the tips in their mouths. Twenty years later, as their jawbones disintegrated & the tumors began to spread, they started down the path to figuring out who had murdered them, and how.
Any aspiring filmmakers want to help exonerate a geeky German guy with no legal options left, falsely convicted of murder in Virginia? In 1985, Jens Soering confessed to the murder of the parents of his American girlfriend, Elizabeth Haysom. He claims he was madly in love and confessed to protect her. Since 1995, Jens' very detailed description of events and the flaws in the case against him have been posted on the internet along with the former Virginian deputy attorney-general's (now his lawyer) endorsement. Jens' personal site maintains a list of articles and books Jens has written in prison. Elizabeth also has her own column.
Mukthar Mai's blog has been making waves in the news. A young pakistani woman from a remote village, she was gang raped. Her attackers were meting out justice. In a patriarchal conservative culture like hers a woman's honor or izzat is her sole possession. Once lost, there is little left to live for. A BBC reporter transcribes her story into an Urdu language blog. Here are the first, second and the most recent excerpts of her story. To truly comprehend what her action means, consider this story of young Afghan women committing suicide by setting themselves on fire to escape from lives of sexual, physical and other abuse.
Who Killed Ryan Harris? Eight years ago the body of eleven-year-old Ryan Harris was discovered in a poor neighbourhood on the South Side of Chicago. What followed was a saga involving the youngest children in U.S. history to be charged with murder; the subsequent dropping of the charges after exculpatory evidence surfaced and allegations of coerced confessions; another (adult) suspect allegedly faking a low IQ and entering an Alford plea; lawsuits against the prosecutors on behalf of the boys, later settled out of court; and, earlier this year, one of the boys coming back into the news after being charged in connection with a double shooting, with lawyers insinuating that his earlier ordeal was to blame for his criminal activity. One of the sadder stories I've heard in some time.
Krishna Maharaj is a British businessman who was convicted of the 1986 murder of a Jamaican father and son in a hotel room in Miami, Florida. He was given the death penalty, but this was commuted to a life sentence in 2002 due to irregularities in his trial. Well, "irregularities" is an understatement: none of Maharaj's seven alibi witnesses were called to the stand. Maharaj is widely understood to be innocent, and another prime suspect has been identified. In 2001, 300 British politicians wrote to Jeb Bush, requesting a retrial. Considering this possibility in 2004, the Florida judge said that “newly discovered evidence which goes only to guilt or innocence is insufficient to warrant relief" and denied the motion. The US Supreme Court refused to take the case. Krishna Maharaj must now rely on the mercy of Jeb Bush.
BBC Newsnight with 2-part video documentary
BBC Newsnight with 2-part video documentary
New York Justice. Because every woman needs a good pounding every now and then.
"If anything, a civil rights background is considered a liability." Meet the politically-appointed career staffers of the Justice Dept.'s Civil Rights Division: ... the kinds of cases the Civil Rights Division is bringing have undergone a shift. The division is bringing fewer voting rights and employment cases involving systematic discrimination against African-Americans, and more alleging reverse discrimination against whites and religious discrimination against Christians. ... Thorough Boston Globe article on how the administration disbanded the hiring committee in 2002 to appoint lawyers with a very different vision of what civil rights are, and the ensuring and ongoing results.
Steven Staley was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 1991. A few days before his execution in February, he was granted a stay because he was found to be incompetent, a paranoid schizophrenic. Today, the judge has ordered that he be forced to take his medication so he can be legally put to death.
A step toward justice in West Africa.
Hanging up the microphone for a cause He was a Fleet Street sportswriter and a boxer. His "Action Line" show had Winnipeggers talking for 27 years. Since moving to the West Coast with the purpose of retiring, Peter Warren has kept busy with a national talk radio show where his brusque replies to insipid callers have made him infamous. But after this weekend, he leaves it all behind to focus on investigative work, including a dossier of 14 murder cases.
"Yousry is not a practicing Muslim. He is not a fundamentalist," prosecutor Anthony Barkow acknowledged in his closing arguments to a jury in federal district court in Manhattan earlier this year. "Mohammed Yousry is not someone who supports or believes in the use of violence." So why is Yousry now awaiting sentencing in March, when he could face 20 years in prison for translating a letter from imprisoned Muslim cleric Omar Abdel Rahman to Rahman's lawyer in Egypt?
To defeat injustice and misfortune, if only for one instant, for a single victim, is to invent a new reason to hope.
Against Indifference: A Conversation with Elie Wiesel "I believe that a person who is indifferent to the suffering of others is complicit in the crime. And that I cannot allow, at least not for myself." short, but good. The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity site is worth some time as well (or if you're looking for a worthy cause this season).
From 1964 to 1992, Texaco (.mov, 20.6MB) drilled for oil in the northern region of the Ecuadorian Amazon, known as the "Oriente". The company left 627 open toxic waste pits and other facilities which continue to leak highly toxic waste, affecting more than 30,000 local people. A higher incidence of birth defects, cancer, miscarriages, skin diseases, and death continues to plague people whose only source of water is a contaminated river. ChevronTexaco refuses to remediate the damage, claiming that they already "cleaned up" their share of the contract, by shoveling 3 feet of dirt over some of the open oil pits.
..I would like to convey the message that our system works. We did not need to use a secret military tribunal, or detain the defendant indefinitely as an enemy combatant, or deny him the right to counsel, or invoke any proceedings beyond those guaranteed by or contrary to the United States Constitution. ...We can deal with the threats to our national security without denying the accused fundamental constitutional protections. ...--U.S. Western District Judge John Coughenour, while sentencing "Millennium Bomber", Ahmed Ressam. With 60 Terror Plots foiled in the past 10 years, and pretty much none foiled due to the DHS and Patriot Act, it has to be asked-- Why isn't regular law enforcement and all the rest enough? (a little more inside)
The Prison Policy Initiative conducts research and advocacy on incarceration policy. Some interesting data include the proliferation of prisons in the US over the last century, disenfranchisement of potential black voters, global incarceration rates and percentage of US population under control of the criminal justice system.
Al Qaeda Training Manual [note: PDF files]
the Supreme Court Short List --read it and weep, or not. CNN is already reporting it's John Roberts, and not Edith Clements. Bush announces at 9pm est. Roberts worked for both Reagan and Bush 1, btw.
D.C. Circuit: Military Tribunals Just Fine, Thanks. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously rejected an appeal by an Afghan who is being detained by the military to the tribunals established by the President's Court order in 2001. The decision reversed a federal trial court ruling that the tribunals violated the Geneva Convention.
Alarming Article on Security Procedures What is alarming is not necessarily that there is a "no-fly" list, or that we have security measures in response to a percieved terrorist threat. What's alarming is that there seems to be no accountabity or due process demanded from public officials. Without accountability, what's to stop public officials from acting arbitrarily, or for some political endeavor? (See the Plame case.) Combined with the Right's seeming position that the president is above the law in prosecuting a war, U.S. Supreme Court Case No. 03-1027 (Rumsfield v. Padilla) and Case No. 03-6696 (Hamdi v. Rumsfield), (see also the recent DOJ position papers), and for the 1st time I am becoming nervous that America might devolve into something like a police state.
The Boob is back at the Department of Justice. The Ashcroft curtain has come down and the "Spirit of Justice" statue, commissioned from sculptor C. Paul Jennewein, can once again supply her breast for ironic photos.