I’m Not Optimistic

19 01 2016

Washington, D.C.

This is the same institution which last year saw its chief member totally blow off a plainly written plainly constructed statute, and invent a “right” out of not just thin air, but no air.

Great White Defendant

4 01 2016

Burns, Oregon


The first fire set by the Hammonds, which Steven Hammond said was intended to eliminate invasive species on their property, ended up consuming 139 acres of federal land. The second fire, which was aimed at protecting the Hammonds’ winter feed from a wildfire sparked by lightning, burned about an acre of public land. Although the Hammonds did not seek the required government permission for either burn, the damage to federal land seems to have been unintentional. In 2012 they were nevertheless convicted under 18 USC 844(f)(1), which prescribes a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for anyone who “maliciously damages or destroys, or attempts to damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive,” any federal property.

If that’s the case, then I don’t see how what he did rises to the level of “malicious.”

Viewing that penalty as clearly unjust given the facts of the case, U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan instead imposed a three-month sentence on Dwight Hammond, who was convicted of one count, and two concurrent one-year sentences on Steven Hammond, who was convicted of two counts. Those terms were within the ranges recommended by federal sentencing guidelines that would have applied but for the statutory minimum, which Hogan rejected as inconsistent with the Eighth Amendment. Last year the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, responding to a government appeal, disagreed with Hogan, saying he had no choice but to impose five-year sentences on both men, since “a minimum sentence mandated by statute is not a suggestion that courts have discretion to disregard.” That is why the Hammonds, who had already completed their original sentences, were ordered back to federal prison, the development that led to Saturday’s protest.

In rejecting Hogan’s conclusion that the mandatory minimum was unconstitutional as applied to the Hammonds, the 9th Circuit noted that the Supreme Court “has upheld far tougher sentences for less serious or, at the very least, comparable offenses.” The examples it cited included “a sentence of fifty years to life under California’s three-strikes law for stealing nine videotapes,” “a sentence of twenty-five years to life under California’s three-strikes law for the theft of three golf clubs,” “a forty-year sentence for possession of nine ounces of marijuana with the intent to distribute,” and “a life sentence under Texas’s recidivist statute for obtaining $120.75 by false pretenses.” If those penalties did not qualify as “grossly disproportionate,” the appeals court reasoned, five years for accidentally setting fire to federal land cannot possibly exceed the limits imposed by the Eighth Amendment.

Translation:  The Ninth Circus was in the Hunt for a Great White Defendant.

There’s a Really Big Scandal Hiding In Plain Sight In This Story

3 12 2015



Police Chief Sam Dotson and Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce have pressured judges into setting unfairly high bail in gun crimes, public defender Mary Fox says in court documents.

She has issued subpoenas to both for a hearing sometime next week that has not yet been scheduled. It was not clear what she wants to ask them under oath.

Dotson, Joyce and Mayor Francis Slay have been proponents of assigning dedicated judges to handle gun crimes for accountability and faster results, but the court resisted. Judges do often set initial gun-crime bail at $30,000, a high level for many of the defendants.

Tension between Fox and Joyce has simmered since June, when the public defender filed a motion seeking to compel the prosecutor to stop routinely redacting witness information from police reports provided to defense attorneys.

Judge Bryan Hettenbach disqualified the whole 22nd Judicial Circuit bench from that case, so Judge Gael Wood, from Franklin County, will preside at a hearing on that in St. Louis on Jan. 7.

Fox claimed Joyce “systematically” withholds witness information without seeking protective orders to authorize it. “These practices then necessitate the continuous creation and litigation of motions to compel such as this one, which in the aggregate are unnecessarily burdensome to defense counsel and the courts,” Fox wrote.

Joyce has responded that witnesses are made available for the defense for depositions. But she said withholding of personal information was necessary for their protection. The practice predates the Internet, she noted, but is even more important in an era in which sensitive information can be easily shared on social media.
The scandal here is why public defenders can’t be trusted with documents that don’t redact witness information.  Are they such loose-lipped big mouths?  Do they love the city’s black thugs that much?  Remember, any lawyer is ex officio an officer of the judicial and court system for the state(s) in which he or she is accepted to the bar.

SCOMO Throws Out Reggie Clemons Convictions

24 11 2015

Jefferson City

Read all about it.

The original murder happened only five days after I myself walked across that very same bridge with my older cousin, on the night of my 14th birthday.  Back then, the Old Chain of Rocks was definitely closed to vehicular traffic, as it had been for more than two decades before then, and it was officially closed to anyone.  However, illicitly crossing it was how a long of young St. Louisans engaged in a risky thrill.  Five days after I did it for the first of only two times that I did, I saw how risky it was.

I happen to think that most of the pro-Clemons apologetics on the social and media end are based on the notion that the Kerry sisters somehow had it coming just because they were doing something risky.

Since 1998 or so, the OCoR has been legally opened to ped/bike traffic.

Like That’s Gonna Stop Him

10 11 2015

New Orleans

Appeals-5 slaps back the Hopeychanger on DAPA.

Of course, that kind of thing has never stopped him before.  He only enforces the court decisions he likes.  For everything else, he’s got the pen and phone, and even more importantly than that, confidence that nobody will ever hold him accountable.

Obama be like:  “You’ve got a gavel?  I’ve got hundreds of nukes.”

Good News and Bad News

2 11 2015


The good news part comes first.

Big but…

The lawsuit goes on to say that the entire department was purged of white faculty except one white instructor who was protected by tenure.

Conversely, the only black faculty member fired from the College of Education during the same time was not terminated because of the reduction in force policy, but rather because he was found to be a sex offender, the lawsuit says.

So, of all the white faculty members racially purged, only one had the gumption to file suit?

So Do Claw Hammers

2 11 2015

Bonne Terre; Columbia; Downtown St. Louis


Missouri inmate: Lethal injection may trigger severe pain

A Missouri inmate is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to spare his life, claiming the execution drug could trigger severe pain and convulsions due to the remnants of a brain tumor and the damage caused by surgery to remove it.

Ernest Lee Johnson, 55, is scheduled to die Tuesday evening for using a claw hammer to kill three convenience store workers in central Missouri in 1994.



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