Sotomayor issues blistering dissent, says Republican-appointed justices have bias toward Trump administration
I am not at all sure that the 18 year term limit is a good idea. The lifetime appointment of the Federal Judiciary allows them a degree of independence.
God Bless Justice Sotomayor for sounding the alarm on this very disturbing trend. The politics of the Court are most evident in its 5-4 split decisions, highlighted in the video. Citizens United is a perfect example, and perhaps THE worst decision in the history of the Court! It opened the floodgates to money. from hidden sources too, poisoning campaigns.
Excerpts from the Article:
Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a scathing rebuke of the court’s decision to allow the Trump administration to enforce its “public charge” rule in the state of Illinois, limiting which non-citizens can obtain visas to enter the U.S.
Sotomayor’s problems with the conservative majority’s ruling went far beyond this case, claiming that it was symptomatic of the court’s habit of siding with the government when they seek emergency stays of rulings against them.
“It is hard to say what is more troubling: that the Government would seek this extraordinary relief seemingly as a matter of course, or that the Court would grant it,” Sotomayor wrote in her dissent.
This particular case, Wolf v. Cook County, deals with the Trump administration’s expansion of situations where the government can deny visas to non-citizens looking to enter the U.S. Federal law already says that officials can take into account whether an applicant is likely to become a “public charge,” which government guidance has said refers to someone “primarily dependent on the government for subsistence.” In the past, non-cash benefits such as forms of Medicaid and certain housing assistance did not count, but the Department of Homeland Security issued its new public charge rule in 2019 which did include these benefits.
The new rule had previously been blocked with a nationwide injunction that the Supreme Court stayed in a separate case, so the injunction in the Cook County case only affected the state of Illinois.
That narrow scope, plus the fact that the 7th Circuit is scheduled to review the Illinois injunction in the coming week, led Sotomayor to believe that the government was not at risk of suffering significant harm that warranted the Supreme Court putting the injunction on hold.
The liberal justice expressed concern that a majority of her colleagues had no problem with this. She explained that it is unusual for an administration to seek stays against injunctions with this sort of frequency, yet it is becoming the new normal.
“Claiming one emergency after another, the Government has recently sought stays in an unprecedented number of cases, demanding immediate attention and consuming limited Court resources in each,” she wrote. “And with each successive application, of course, its cries of urgency ring increasingly hollow. Indeed, its behavior relating to the public-charge rule in particular shows how much its own definition of irreparable harm has shifted.”
Sotomayor went on to claim that the Supreme Court has been overly accommodating when it comes to stay applications, but mainly just for the Trump administration. In contrast, she pointed out, they tend to deny stay applications for executions.
“I fear that this disparity in treatment erodes the fair and balanced decisionmaking process that this Court must strive to protect,” she said.
Democratic presidential hopeful Mike Bloomberg threw his support behind Sotomayor in a Saturday tweet.
“Justice Sotomayor is right to sound the alarm,” Bloomberg tweeted Saturday. “If Trump wins in November, the Supreme Court essentially will become a rubber stamp for his assault on immigrants, health care and equality.”
Chief Justice John Roberts, appointed by President George W. Bush, had perhaps the most notorious break from the conservative ranks when he ruled in favor of Obamacare in 2012.
God Bless my friend, Greg Williams, who wrote this article. I am fortunate to have a wide range of experts to contact on various issues, and Greg Williams is the “go to guy” on voter fraud, and the Republicans’ persistent lies and schemes to negate and /or prevent legitimate votes!
What does this have to do with criminal justice? 1) many voter suppression schemes are criminal, and 2) votes elect those who enact criminal laws, and the laws needed for justice reform!
Excerpts from the Article:
ExcerptsAre you even a little curious as to where the accusations of widespread voter fraud originate? I’m referring to the wild allegations that inflame the conservative masses to demand an end to something that’s already non-existent. Do you want to know? Keep reading.
I’ve been writing (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/our-government-actively-suppressing-voters-claiming-williams-ph-d-/) and sharing LinkedIn posts about “voting rights” violations, voter suppression, and the heroes fighting those abuses. Voter-identification (ID) supporters claim that requiring voters to present photo-ID cards prevents fraud. Supported by a comprehensive, observed set of examinations, voter-ID opponents argue that substantial voter fraud is non-existent and that such strict laws suppress the turnout of historically marginalized communities (https://search.proquest.com/openview/a7c7e6a100d4486e43816d468cafa7ff/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=18750&diss=y).
Reported voter fraud was lacking and unrelated to the Florida 2000 presidential election debacle (Bush v. Gore). Nonetheless, that event magnified the opportunity to create a perceived need for fraud prevention. There was grumbling over alleged Democratic voter fraud before then, but it wasn’t part of the public dialogue.
For 60 years, the Democratic Party has organized (“Get Out the Vote” [GOTV]) efforts to ensure that its factions–especially African Americans–take their “souls to the polls.” In contrast, Republicans have embraced–if often secretly–the chorus of Paul Weyrich, co-founder of the Heritage Foundation, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and Reverend Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority. In 1980, he infamously suggested, “They want everybody to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote … As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
Several states have historic voter-discrimination problems. Under the 1965 Voting Rights Act until 2013, they were required to obtain federal approval for any voting changes. The Supreme Court gutted that provision, enabling those states to reenact discriminatory voting laws.
ProPublica, a nonprofit organization that tracks tax-exempt research institutions, indicates that the Koch brothers, among others, provide financial support to ALEC (http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2016/2/12/whos-funding-voter-suppression.html). ALEC is an influential conservative group consisting of representatives from major U.S. corporations and (mostly) Republican lawmakers. Throughout a seven-month journalism project News21 investigation, the ALEC staff declined to comment on its role in advocating voter-ID policy (@Ethan Magoc).
Because of “[Hans] von Spakovsky and the flame-fanning of a few others,” election scholar @Rick Hasen argues, “the myth that Democratic voter fraud is common, and that it helps Democrats win elections, has become part of the Republican orthodoxy” @Jane Mayer. @Hans von Spakovsky is a Heritage Foundation “legal scholar,” a former Federal Election Commissioner and George W. Bush DOJ official, and perhaps the most cited writer claiming universal voter fraud. For the current 40-year timeframe, he’s been unable to demonstrate one bit of concrete, observable, widespread voter fraud. On the other hand, he’s produced many demonstrable lies (https://search.proquest.com/openview/a7c7e6a100d4486e43816d468cafa7ff/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=18750&diss=y).
On May 11, 2017, President Donald Trump delegated the authority of his now-failed Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity (also known as the “voter-fraud commission”) to Kris Kobach, the former Kansas Secretary of State. As Trump’s Commission vice chair, Kobach’s objective was to prove that voter fraud was widespread. Officially, the Executive Order aimed to “study the registration and voting processes used in Federal [sic] elections.” The Order also intended to show “those vulnerabilities in voting systems and practices used for Federal [sic] elections that could lead to improper voter registrations and improper voting, including fraudulent voter registrations and fraudulent voting. As Kansas’s secretary of state, one of Kobach’s in-state goals was to help legislate strict voting laws and to prevent their judicial reversals (or to appeal the decisions against him) in the courts. Kobach used Arizona’s case to help persuade his state legislature to enact its strict 2011 voter-ID law. His states-rights expert witness, Richard Fry, tried to legitimize racial prejudices by arguing, “In Arizona, they have turned away thousands of non-citizens including almost three thousand who attempted to register to vote when they applied for a driver’s license.” Studies show that legislatures often legislate based on what happens in neighboring states. Thus, a domino effect of state legislation is passed, based on anecdotal–or even worse, on–false, racist rhetoric, not on any empirical evidence. The destructive tool behind this antidemocratic, unpatriotic cause is called “Crosscheck.”
Kobach designed his racially biased Interstate Crosscheck System (#EndCrosscheck) to purge voter rolls with an astronomical, near 100% rate of false positives. Investigative reporter Greg Palast has just revealed that Kobach collaborated with Georgia’s now-Governor Brian Kemp to defeat Stacey Abrams: Kemp and the new Sec. of State of Georgia want to keep the lid on their methods for removing literally [sic] hundreds of thousands of low-income, young and minority voters on the basis of [sic] false information. Kemp tried to hide the Crosscheck lists [sic] which he got from his crony Kobach. The lists are at least 99.9% wrong.
According to a 2019 private event’s audio footage acquired by The Associated Press, a Washington DC attorney and top Trump re-election adviser, @Justin Clark, told prominent Republicans in swing-state Wisconsin that the Party “traditionally” relies on voter suppression to compete in battleground states.However, it now can “start playing offense” thanks to relaxed Election Day rules. “That’s what you’re going to see in 2020. It’s going to be a much bigger program, a much more aggressive program” (https://www.huffpost.com/entry/trump-adviser-gop-voter-suppression-poll-watching-2020_n_5dfd46c5e4b0843d35fc2322).
Charlie Kirk, Turning Point USA’s founder, tweeted on Feb. 2, “Don’t let voter fraud steal the 2020 election.” He falsely exclaimed: WOW: One [sic] day before the Iowa Caucus, it’s been revealed that EIGHT Iowa counties have more adults registered to vote than voting-aged adults living there [sic] Don’t let voter fraud steal the 2020 election [sic] RT for national Voter ID!
Politico slammed his flawed methodology and demonstrable lie.
Kirk is either completely misinformed or is willfully spreading a “weaponized lie” (see Daniel Levitin’s 2017 Weaponized lies: How to think critically in the post-truth era). The claims of electoral fraud were false, shown to be lies by public data and by the state’s top election official, Iowa Sec. of State Paul Pate, a REPUBLICAN! Pate revealed that Kirk, Judicial Watch, and other right-wing groups are spreading “fake news.” He took such offense to Kirk’s dangerous lies that he responded directly to that Tweet by emphasizing, “Here is a link to the actual county-by-county voter registration totals. They are updated monthly and available online for everyone to see. hashtag#FakeNews https://lnkd.in/es4xxdR” Last month, I found an unsavory job description for a volunteer “Voter Fraud Analyst” https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/view/1459963889/). In the related LinkedIn article that I published, I revealed that “a Colorado District Attorney’s Office was openly advertising for the need to uncover voter fraud!” Soon I’ll repost that article (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/our-government-actively-suppressing-voters-claiming-williams-ph-d-/) with an update.
Those whom I have named as the culprits behind the false “voter suppression” truth-claims are not alone in spreading related lies. Many others are directly involved. Still more are willfully ignorant or blind in spreading propaganda that elevates their misguided desires. Some of them intentionally do not keep informed on matters, which constitutes criminal liability.
I argue that Kobach, von Spakovsky, Trump, and other voter-ID activists are campaigning a pack of lies. While they may believe some of their false truth-claims, that pack of lies creates unfounded fears that widespread, systemic voter fraud dilutes valid votes. Further damage arises from their false truth-claims that those “illegal” immigrants and others who want to subvert “Our” democracy are “stealing Our [emphasis added] elections;” hence, their method of creating unifying solidarity (i.e., Us vs. Them). Another of my dissertation’s findings was that the voter-ID advocates deliberately “foster solidarity, dividing “Us” from the fraudulent voting “Others.”
Von Spakovsky argues that “academic studies” contradict the claim that voter ID suppresses minority voter turnout; yet, in all his writings, he fails to provide a single reference. In a 2015 personal email chain of communications, I cornered von Spakovsky on his lie that “academic studies” supported his false truth-claims. He appeared to become slightly unhinged. He argued, “peer review is a joke;” the Heritage Foundation was nonbiased; I was biased because I trusted academic peer-reviewed information over that of the Heritage Foundation. I confess to being guilty as charged. On his LinkedIn page, he refers to himself as a “legal scholar.” He also refused to permit me to quote him in my dissertation, a necessity for academic writing. However, I’m now free from needing his permission.
Even now, there is only one scholarly or peer-reviewed source that argues widespread voter fraud exists. Notably, 192 political scientists reject its validity. The U.S. General Accountability Office also disavows it. Because its dataset came from the credible and often-used Harvard University’s Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES), it gained initial credibility. The political scientists collectively asserted, “The scholarly political science community has generally rejected the findings in the Richman et al. study [sic] and we believe it should not be cited or used in any debate over fraudulent voting.”
One of the three CCES dataset developers, Brian Schaffner, highlighted further, “I can say unequivocally that this research is not only wrong, it is irresponsible social science and should never have been published in the first place. There is no evidence that non-citizens [sic] have voted in recent U.S. elections.” While voter-ID advocates offer many anecdotes and lies from unsavory and even racist sources, my dissertation’s analysis revealed that they cite no empirical data that support any of their truth-claims.
Through the Fairness Doctrine, Federal Communications Commission regulations required television and radio stations to schedule controversial but publicly significant issues and to consent to the opposing views. Although abolished during the Reagan Administration, marking the beginning of conservative media, many still consider its intent to be admirable. The end of the Fairness Doctrine, which promoted democratic discussion, has enabled Murdoch, the Koch brothers, Hannity, Limbaugh, Beck, Jones, and other “false truth-claim” influence peddlers. The Fairness Doctrine gave integrity to the media and truthful information to the public. It would improve the current situation, which, as @Ken Abraham correctly asserts, consists of damaging misinformation and propaganda.
In two weeks, I’ll publish Part 2: “Who Are the Heroes Fighting Voter Suppression?” as a “Call to Action” roadmap for what we can do to defeat 2020 voter suppression. Meanwhile, you can make two public demands:
1) Demand your elected officials to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine.
2) Demand the media hold the real fraudsters accountable.
Essay on the Guilty Plea, by Ken Abraham: The ‘Voluntarily and Knowingly Made’ Standard – This is a HUGE Myth! – kra
This is one of the greatest myths in the world of criminal justice: that one’s guilty plea is/was ‘Voluntarily and Knowingly Made’ .
About 95% to 98% of all cases end in a guilty plea. In 2018 alone, in the federal system there were 73,109 federal convictions with 71,550 of them being guilty pleas. And the federal system is only 15% of all cases!
When one pleads guilty [READ Rush to Sentence – A Major, Awful Consequence of our “War on Drugs”! = http://www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net/rush-to-sentence-a-major-awful-consequence-of-our-war-on-drugs/ to learn WHY so many cases end in a plea,], the judge asks you, on the record, a series of questions. You usually also sign a page with the same questions, saying that you understand them and agree to them, further dooming your chances of getting JUSTICE later – and thereafter, you chances of undoing that guilty plea are, literally, less than one in a million!
The standard is whether one’s guilty plea was ‘Voluntarily and Knowingly Made’ . What a sad joke! Far, far faaaaar too many times, the defendant is too petrified and/or ill-informed by his jackass lawyer to know what the hell is going on! He/she is a deer in the headlights, doing what his/her attorney told him or her to do!
For various reasons, many of those attorneys should be SHOT. And if you don’t think so you need to …
It was (4?) years ago today that the homeless people of central Delaware lost a great friend and helper: Linda Konowitz, the late wife of Herb Konowitz, Vice Chair of DIMH.
Linda volunteered often at the front desk and in other capacities at DIMH. I got to know her, as did many of the men.
Linda did not just sit there and answer the phone; her HEART was in her service to the homeless. 😉
As the saying goes, she is gone but not forgotten. Many of us have fond memories of, and tons of gratitude for, Linda Konowitz!
VOLUNTEER TO SERVE AT A HOMELESS SHELTER NEAR YOU!
Joe Hurley, defense attorney in this case, is one of the 3 BEST in Delaware, and a good friend of mine. Joe hit the nail on the head with his comments in the short video, which you can watch by clicking below. Good decision by that jury.
Excerpts from the Article:
Jurors returned a split decision in the trial of a former University of Delaware baseball player charged with trying to rape a woman inside what an attorney referred to as the university’s “baseball house.” Clay Conaway was found guilty of a lesser charge of third-degree unlawful sexual contact and not guilty of strangulation.
“When you’re facing having your heart cut out and you lose your little finger, little finger doesn’t hurt that much,” said Joe Hurley, one of Conaway’s attorneys.
Had the jury of seven men and five women convicted Conaway of the more serious charge of second-degree attempted rape, the 23-year-old would have been facing a sentence of 10 years to life in prison. The unlawful sexual contact is a misdemeanor, which means he could face a maximum of up to a year in prison. Conaway is already serving a five-year prison stint for an earlier conviction.
Hurley said he felt pride in the jury’s dedication to the matter.
“I had that feeling before the verdict came in,” he said. “It happens to be a correct verdict, even if it had been an incorrect verdict. They did what a lot of people won’t do; they stayed at it and stayed at it and stayed at it until justice was done.”
After the jury left the courtroom Friday after two days of deliberations, Conaway turned to his parents, mustering a smile. He was then handcuffed and led out of the courtroom.
The attempted rape and strangulation charges argued during the weeklong trial were brought on by one of six women who have accused Conaway of sex crimes from 2013 to 2018.
This was Conaway’s second trial. The first trial, which took place in September, resulted in Conaway being convicted of fourth-degree rape.
He was sentenced to five years in prison, which he has started serving.
During this most recent trial, prosecutors focused on the testimony of a woman who said Conaway pinned her to a bed, tried to reach into her pants and strangled her as she resisted.After meeting through the dating app Tinder, the woman agreed to come to Conaway’s home on Continental Avenue in Newark in November 2017 to hang out and possibly watch a movie, she testified.
Upon her arrival, he led her to his bedroom where they sat on a couch and talked. After some time they moved to his bed. That’s when he came in for a kiss and she obliged.
But as she pulled away, things changed, she said. The woman testified Conaway threw her on the bed, put himself on top of her and began touching her over and under her shirt. Each time she moved his hands off her, he’d move to a different part of her body, the prosecution said.
How an Unheralded Change to Criminal Procedure Law §150.20 Will Overhaul Arrest Procedures in New York – EVERY State should have such arrest and ticketing procedures! – kra
This sensible policy will save taxpayers millions of dollars in prison and other costs; enacted nationwide, it could save tens of billions of dollars. As with so many needed reforms, it threatens the useless jobs of thousands of cops, prison guards, private contractors, and others … who spend countless millions of $$$$$$$$$ lobbying against needed reforms.
Excerpts from the Article:
On Jan. 1, 2020, a highly publicized criminal justice reform law went into effect in New York state. In the wake of the law’s enactment, the Governor, legislators and the legal community have primarily focused on changes to two aspects of the criminal procedure law: bail and discovery. While these changes have caught the headlines, the Legislature has instituted another modification to the Criminal Procedure Law that could even more significantly impact the lives of New Yorkers. The Legislature has amended the text of CPL 150.20(1)(a), which covers police practices for issuing appearance tickets for certain offenses. The new text of CPL 150.20(1)(a) reads,
Whenever a police officer is authorized pursuant to section 140.10 of this title to arrest a person without a warrant for an offense other than a class A, B, C or D felony or a violation of section 130.25, 130.40, 205.10, 205.17, 205.19 or 215.56 of the penal law, he [may] shall, except as set out in paragraph (b) of this subdivision, subject to the provisions of subdivisions three and four of section 150.40 of this title, instead issue to and serve upon such person an appearance ticket.
(emphasis added). By replacing the word “may” with “shall”, the plain meaning of CPL 150.20(1)(a) now bars arrests for most low-level offenses and instead mandates that police serve an appearance ticket upon most individuals who have committed misdemeanors or violations. Specifically, the statute states that police must not only issue an appearance ticket to an individual suspected of a low level crime but must issue a ticket instead of arresting that individual. An “appearance ticket” in the statute refers to any instrument issued by an authorized officer that directs a person to appear in criminal court. In practice, an “appearance ticket” can refer to a desk appearance ticket (DAT), which is issued at the police precinct following an arrest, or a criminal summons, for which an arrest is not required. Because CPL 150.20(1)(a) bars arrests for most low level crimes, it follows that the police are required to issue a criminal summons on the street to a person who is suspected of a low level crime as opposed to issuing a DAT, for which an arrest is required. In limited circumstances pursuant to 150.20(1)(b), such as a sex-related offense or domestic violence, the police can arrest the individual and not issue an appearance ticket.
This alteration constitutes a sea change in arrest procedures in New York state, where until now, the police have had discretion regarding when to issue an appearance ticket and when to arrest. In 2018, in New York City alone, 128,194 individuals were arrested for misdemeanor offenses, and countless more were arrested for violations. Under the new CPL 150.20(1)(a), a large majority of these individuals can no longer be arrested. Although the meaning of the law is plain and unequivocal, nobody—not the Governor, legislators, or criminal justice stakeholders—have addressed its implementation or ramifications.
The question then becomes, if officers are not permitted to arrest an individual when there is probable cause that a low level crime was committed, then what level of intrusion is permitted before the officer issues an appearance ticket? Drawing from People v. DeBour, which defines the levels of police intrusion, police will be able to ask the suspect questions implying criminality (DeBour level 2) and will be able to forcibly stop and detain the individual (DeBour level 3). Prior to the change in law, it was common police practice to either handcuff individuals or to transport them to a precinct before issuing appearance tickets. However, both of those actions constitute arrests and therefore are now prohibited by 150.20(1)(a) for most low level offenses.
First, the Court of Appeals has held that handcuffing an individual constitutes an arrest unless the individual poses a threat to the officer’s safety. In People v. Allen, 73 N.Y.2d 378 (1989), the Court of Appeals reasoned that the use of handcuffs will constitute an arrest if they are applied gratuitously and for reasons unrelated to the threat of danger to officers. See also People v. Tirado, 69 N.Y.2d 863 (1987); People v. Robinson, 282 A.D.2d 75 (1st Dept. 2001). In Allen, the police handcuffing a suspect did not constitute an arrest because the handcuffing took place following a chaotic chase of the suspect and because the police had reasonable suspicion that the suspect was armed and dangerous. These factors rose to the requisite level of danger to permit the application of handcuffs without constituting an arrest. This New York jurisprudence indicates that after the passage of CPL 150.20(1)(a), the police will only be able to place handcuffs on an individual suspected of a low level crime if they believe that that suspect is armed and dangerous or otherwise poses a threat to police. For most low level crimes covered by CPL 150.20(1)(a), that will not be the case. In most situations, individuals charged with low level offenses will pose minimal danger to the officers, which will make the act of handcuffing an arrest. Thus, police will only be able to forcibly stop individuals up to the point of Debour level 3 before issuing them tickets for low level crimes and will not be able to handcuff them unless they pose a threat to the officers.
Second, transporting an individual suspected of low level crimes to the police precinct for booking before issuing them an appearance ticket (the procedure for issuing a DAT) likely constitutes an arrest and is therefore prohibited for most low level offenses. In People v. Hicks, 68 N.Y.2d 234 (2002), the Court of Appeals held that the suspect was not arrested when he was transported for one mile in a police cruiser and without handcuffs for the purpose of being identified by a witness on the street. However, in Hicks, the court noted that if the person were transported to the police station, such transport would have increased the level of intrusion to an arrest. Consequently, if the police transport an individual to the precinct solely for the purpose of issuing an appearance ticket, such action will likely constitute an arrest in violation of CPL 150.20(1)(a).
For low level crimes covered by CPL 150.20(1)(a), the police will not be able to place an individual in handcuffs unless their safety is threatened and will not be able to transport an individual to the precinct prior to the issuance of the appearance ticket. Therefore, for the vast majority of low level offenses, the police will have to issue appearance tickets on the street following a maximum DeBour level 3 intrusion.
At this point, no police department in New York state has implemented new protocols for street level interactions for low level crimes. This means that a large number of people have already been arrested for low level crimes who should have been issued appearance tickets instead. Such action violates the Legislature’s explicit decision in CPL 150.20(1)(a) to reform arrest practices, which will limit the negative consequences of arrests such as missed work, neglected child care, and most importantly, a significant invasion of an individual’s privacy and personal integrity.
Criminal justice stakeholders throughout New York must be aware of this paradigm-shifting development in arrest and ticketing procedures.
I think the S O B deserved more time, but it was not up to me, up to Judge Jackson. She did a great job in putting everything on the record and verbally “reaming his ass” in the courtroom, and she did what she thinks is fair. Now the question is: Will tRump undo justice by giving him a Pardon? If he does, RAISE HELL , for once again it is an abuse of power … tRump has a history of doing this, undermining the rule of law ,,,, just look at the Sheriff Joe Arpaio case!
Excerpts from the Article:
Roger J. Stone Jr., the Republican political consultant who for years portrayed himself as the dirty trickster of American politics, was sentenced Thursday to more than three years prison for obstructing a congressional inquiry in a bid to protect President Trump.
The case against Mr. Stone, 67, a longtime friend of Mr. Trump’s, had become a cause célèbre among the president’s supporters. Mr. Trump has attacked the prosecutors, the jury forewoman and the federal judge overseeing the trial, casting his former campaign adviser as the victim of a vendetta by law enforcement.
Mr. Stone was convicted of lying to congressional investigators and trying to block the testimony of a witness who would have exposed his lies to the House Intelligence Committee. At the time, the panel was investigating whether Mr. Trump’s campaign conspired with the Russian government to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson said that for months, Mr. Stone carried out a deliberate and calculated effort to hinder an important congressional inquiry by blatantly lying, hiding hundreds of documents and pressuring a fragile witness. Mr. Stone enjoys “mind-games” and political gamesmanship, she said, but “nothing about this case was a joke. It wasn’t a stunt and it wasn’t a prank.”
She added, “He was not prosecuted to give anyone a political advantage. He was not prosecuted, as some have complained, for standing up for the president. He was prosecuted for covering up for the president.”
Handing down a 40-month sentence, Judge Jackson said Mr. Stone’s behavior inspired “dismay and disgust.”
The president has criticized the jury’s verdict, claiming that “the real crimes were on the other side.” He intensified those attacks last week after the prosecutors recommended that Mr. Stone be sentenced to seven to nine years in prison. Their request, Mr. Trump said, was “horrible and very unfair” and constituted a “miscarriage of justice.”
Almost simultaneously, Mr. Barr overruled the prosecutors’ sentencing recommendation and a new one was filed in court. It recommended a prison term well below seven to nine years but leaves the specific length of time up to the judge. The reversal, more aligned with Mr. Trump’s preference, led all four prosecutors to withdraw from the case. One resigned from the Justice Department entirely. John Crabb Jr., a prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, apologized during the sentencing hearing for “the confusion” over the government’s sentencing position and stressed that the prosecutors who quit from the case were not to blame for it.
He said that department policy is to follow the sentencing guidelines in recommending punishment, and those prosecutors did so. He also said the department continued to believe that aggravating factors in the case had boosted the penalty recommended under the guidelines for Mr. Stone fivefold. “The Department of Justice and the United States attorney’s office is committed to enforcing the law without fear, favor or political influence,” he said.
He said Mr. Stone’s offenses were serious and worthy of a “substantial period of incarceration,” but left it up to the judge to decide the right punishment. He blamed the competing sentencing memorandums on “miscommunication” between Timothy Shea, the interim United States attorney, and his superiors at Justice Department headquarters.
Judge Jackson questioned him closely about the process, asking whether he wrote the second sentencing memorandum or simply signed it. And she asked him point-blank about the last-minute switch in the prosecution team. “Why are you standing here today?” she demanded. Mr. Crabb deflected some of her questions, saying, “I apologize I cannot engage in discussions of internal deliberations.”
After the hearing began, Mr. Trump again criticized the case as unfair, accusing two former F.B.I. officials, the former director James B. Comey and a former deputy director, Andrew G. McCabe, of crimes that have not been charged or prosecuted. “They say Roger Stone lied to Congress.” @CNN OH, I see, but so did Comey (and he also leaked classified information, for which almost everyone, other than Crooked Hillary Clinton, goes to jail for a long time), and so did Andy McCabe, who also lied to the FBI! FAIRNESS? — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2020. In a last-ditch effort to delay the sentencing, Mr. Stone’s lawyers moved for a new trial on the basis of juror misconduct — a claim that Mr. Trump highlighted in one of his tweets. Judge Jackson said she would review the motion and the government’s response and would schedule a hearing if necessary. But she refused to put off Mr. Stone’s sentencing while those efforts were underway.
At the sentencing, Judge Jackson took special umbrage at the defense team’s argument to the jury that Mr. Stone’s lies did not matter. “The truth still exists. The truth still matters” in official government proceedings, she said. Otherwise, she said, “everyone loses.”
In their initial sentencing memorandum, federal prosecutors said that Mr. Stone deserved a stiff sentence because he threatened a witness with bodily harm, deceived congressional investigators and carried out an extensive, deliberate, illegal scheme that included repeatedly lying under oath and forging documents.
Even after he was charged in a felony indictment, the prosecutors said, Mr. Stone continued to try to manipulate the administration of justice by threatening Judge Jackson in a social media post and violating her gag orders. Those and other factors justified a stiff sentence under advisory federal guidelines, they said.
The Whole Story:
My friend, Steve Hampton, Esq. sent me this great article.
I have been saying this since Douche Bag in Chief pardoned “Sheriff Joe”! “Trump’s use of the pardon power in this way is, by itself, a corrupt abuse of power. The issue, as with all issues of public corruption, is not whether the official has the authority to do something, it’s whether the official did the thing for a “corrupt purpose.” Donald Trump can pardon people. All presidents have that power. But if he does it for a corrupt purpose, if he does it for his personal political or financial self-interest and not the interest of the country, then that is supposed to be illegal.”
Excerpts from the Article:
Politicians have been campaigning against government corruption probably since “campaigning” was invented. Usually, people asking for power promise to root out the corruption and graft committed by the officials they hope to replace. But Donald Trump and the modern Republican Party are trying to put a new twist on this old saw: They’re making corruption go away by making graft and self-dealing perfectly legal for public officials. Trump isn’t draining “the swamp”; he and his cronies are trying to make the swamp very legal, and very cool.
Yesterday, longtime Trump aide and confidant Roger Stone was sentenced for his conviction on charges of lying to Congress and tampering with witnesses. The sentencing guidelines called for a prison sentence of seven to nine years, but District Judge Amy Berman Jackson gave Stone just 40 months. The light sentence comes after Attorney General William Barr overruled his prosecutors on the case, and asked that Stone be let free with no jail time. Judge Jackson, an appointee of President Barack Obama, probably wasn’t unduly influenced by Barr’s request that she go light on one of Trump’s homies. But Barr’s meddling and Stone’s close relationship with the president make Jackson’s leniency appear unfair.
Meanwhile, just two days earlier, Trump pardoned or commuted the sentences of 11 people, including former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik. Kerik is a close friend of another Trump crony, Rudy Giuliani. In fact, all those granted clemency were able to make some sort of personal connection with Trump, either directly or through the state propaganda network, Fox News. Some had hosted campaign fundraisers or inauguration parties for Trump. And then there’s former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. Blagojevich’s conviction for abusing his power by trying to sell Barack Obama’s former Senate seat was widely cited as an on-point comparison for Trump’s own abuse of power. Trump might as well have been looking in the mirror when he commuted Blagojevich’s sentence.
Trump’s willingness to use his pardon power to spring people he likes on TV is likely just a preview. Many expect Trump to now pardon his former associates Stone, former Trump campaign CEO Paul Manafort, and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. And if Giuliani ever gets convicted for his potentially corrupt dealings, we can certainly expect a pardon for him, too. What links all these men—other than the fetid aroma that wafts off their decayed moral characters—is that they are the ones who kept their mouths shut and didn’t rat on Trump. The one who didn’t continue to lie, Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, is unlikely to receive any clemency from the president. I don’t have to wonder why.
Trump’s use of the pardon power in this way is, by itself, a corrupt abuse of power. The issue, as with all issues of public corruption, is not whether the official has the authority to do something, it’s whether the official did the thing for a “corrupt purpose.” Donald Trump can pardon people. All presidents have that power. But if he does it for a corrupt purpose, if he does it for his personal political or financial self-interest and not the interest of the country, then that is supposed to be illegal.
But Trump will not be held accountable for these or future abuses of power. That’s because the Republican Senate acquitted him of impeachment charges over the abuse of his power. Republicans decided, for the first time in American history, that abuse of power is not at odds with the American system of government. That he can abuse the powers of his office with impunity is the only lesson Trump learned from impeachment, Susan Collins.
As brazenly corrupt as post-impeachment Trump has been, he is, as usual, just a manifestation of our national sickness and not its root cause. When it comes to public corruption, all branches of government are in on grift.
Even before Trump took office—in fact, just as he clinched the Republican nomination for president in June 2016—the Supreme Court ruled, unanimously, to overturn a bribery conviction against former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell. McDonnell had been accused and convicted of bribery after he took a series of meetings with the CEO of a pharmaceutical company in exchange for “gifts” and loans to help the governor with his financial troubles. In McDonnell v. US, Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for an 8-0 majority, determined that McDonnell took no “official acts” in exchange for the gifts. The Supreme Court would have us believe that merely selling access is not a crime for public officials.
The Supreme Court, the Republican-controlled Senate, and the current president all seem to be saying the same thing: Public corruption no longer matters. In the words of Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, we’re all supposed to “get over it.”
The Democrats are trying to fight back against this societal willingness to turn a blind eye to corruption in the government. House Democrats have passed HR 1, a sweeping anti-corruption bill that focuses on election integrity and campaign ethics. But it languishes because Mitch McConnell will not bring it up for a vote. It’s amazing that McConnell is ever allowed to speak in front of a camera without being asked why he refuses to bring a nonpartisan, anti-corruption measure to the Senate floor.
We cannot defeat Trump and then just go back to business as usual. We cannot focus on our future without first reckoning with our past. If Trump and his cronies are allowed to get away with what they’ve done, then Trump and the Republicans will have essentially made corruption a valid and legal strategy. No president ever again will fear consequences for abusing their power, at least so long as they can maintain control of their party in the Senate.
Trump must be held accountable by the next administration, or else Trumpism has already won.
I’ve written so many articles about the neglect/abuse of our mentally ill. That neglect/abuse costs YOU – your tax money – about $444 BILLION every year!
Without follow up reports of tests’ effectiveness, this will remain a huge problem.
Excerpts from the Article:
Courts are not properly screening out unreliable psychological and IQ tests, allowing junk science to be used as evidence, researchers have concluded. Such tests can sway judges or juries and influence whether someone gets custody of a child or is eligible for bail or capital punishment.
The scientists looked at hundreds of different psychological tests used in recent court cases and found that a third of those exams weren’t reviewed in the field’s most prominent manuals. Of those that were reviewed, just 40% were graded favorably. Nearly a quarter were deemed unreliable. “There’s huge variability in the psychological tools now being admitted in U.S. courts,” said Tess Neal, an Arizona State University psychology professor and co-author of the study published Saturday in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest.
“There’s a lot of stuff that looks like it’s junk and should be filtered out by the courts, but it’s not being filtered out,” said Neal.
Legal challenges to the validity of psychological tests occurred in less than 3% of cases, the researchers found. “This paper is highly significant, in part because many people’s fates are determined by these tests,” said Dan Simon, an expert on law and psychology at the University of Southern California Law School, who was not involved in the research.
In 2009, the National Research Council released an extensive report on courtroom science that found that “testimony based on faulty forensic science analyses may have contributed to wrongful convictions of innocent people.” The critique prompted calls for reform, and only partial progress has been made, said Simon. Courts are supposed to sift out the junk science from the good science, as laid out in the federal rules of evidence” — a set of national guidelines that require that “testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods.” “But that’s not happening,” said Simon.
The new study examined 876 court cases in the U.S. between 2016 and 2018, and found the most commonly used psychological test was the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, which has generally positive reviews in the professional literature. The second most common was the Rorschach test — sometimes colloquially called the inkblot test. While the test, first developed in 1921, has its defenders, some scientists regard it as dangerously ambiguous and subjective.
Robert MacCoun, a professor of law and psychology at Stanford University who was not involved in the study, said that he’s received unsolicited catalogs advertising new psychological tests from vendors for many years. Those brochures used to include data about test effectiveness, but “by the end of the 1990s those numbers had disappeared.”
Lawyers and judges, who are not experts in testing methods, must rely on the expertise of psychologists to perform due diligence on tests they present as evidence, said Harvey Fishbein, a criminal defense attorney in Manhattan who was not involved in the study. “If psychologists are not willing to regulate their own field, it’s a real problem.”
The Whole Story:
Letter to the Editor or Op Ed Submission – A Huge Problem Largely Ignored – 2/17/20
Our courts are not properly screening out unreliable psychological and IQ tests, allowing junk science to be used as evidence in all sorts of situations. Such tests are used every day in America to determine whether someone gets custody of a child or is eligible for bail or capital punishment. In short, many people’s fates are determined by these tests, and these tests can sway judges and juries in criminal courts and in Family Court.
The major problem is that a lot of these tests are “junk science”, and testimony based on faulty forensic science analyses has contributed to wrongful convictions of innocent people. Here is an excellent NYT report of the problem: Courtroom Psychology Tests May Be Unreliable, Study Finds = https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2020/02/16/science/ap-us-sci-psychology-tests.html
I’ve written so many articles about the neglect/abuse of our mentally ill. That neglect/abuse costs YOU – your tax money – about $444 BILLION every year! Follow-up reports of psychological tests’ effectiveness could greatly reduce such waste. Without them, this will remain a huge problem.
I call upon the Chief Justice in every state, and the U S Chief Justice – the head court administrator in every state – to contact organizations like the American Psychological Association and similar groups, urging them to perform due diligence on tests they present as evidence, and determine which truly are reliable!
Ken Abraham, Former Deputy Attorney General, founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, Dover, DE 302-423-4067
This is a letter I did in fact send to several judges this week:
Every now and then someone online says I was disbarred, and that simply is not true. Although I did lose everything to cocaine in 2006, and might have been disbarred (although my criminal conduct – stealing money to buy more poison – had nothing to do with practicing law), the fact is that I RESIGNED from the Delaware Bar before that.
Having no desire to practice law, and having already seen oodles of ignorant, arrogant lawyers [I have seen hundreds since then!], I resigned from the Bar in 2005. Another main reason was so that I could be free to exercise my free speech to call lawyers and/or judges total idiots when warranted. You can’t do that as a member of the Bar; they’ll haul you in for “disrespect”. I dare say that if some lawyers were not so constrained, they would say the same things I do! … they say them to me privately now.
Not long ago I got a letter from the Delaware ODC (“Office of Disciplinary Counsel”) dismissing a complaint against me “with a warning”. They had gotten a bogus complaint, full of false information. They wrote to me and I responded. They had no valid complaint, so it was dismissed. However, one Patricia Schwartz of the ODC sent to several judges a copy of the letter she sent to me. Her letter states that I resigned from the bar and insinuated that I would have been disbarred, and that was why I resigned. Nonsense on two counts: 1) you cannot resign from the Bar to avoid sanction or discipline, and 2) I resigned due to my utter disgust with lawyers and Bar Associations!
I have NO respect for plenty of lawyers, judges, and for the ODC. The fact is, as I tell people regularly, you can send the ODC a written, detailed complaint about what some lawyer did or did not to, clearly wrong, and you will get a form letter saying “We find no merit to your complaint.” I saw it scores of times!
I know what I am allowed and not allowed to do as a lay person, as I was, for three years (Governor Castle asked me to serve) a member of the very committee charged with disciplining bad lawyers. I do not give legal advice or practice law, and I shall keep doing what I do.
Plenty of judges and other “high muckety mucks” do not like what I say, because I criticize them, the system, and other public officials who need to be criticized – their “buddies”.
The letter which Ms. Schwartz sent would be good grounds for investigation by The Truth Police! READ http://www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net/great-idea-8230-the-united-states-truth-police-updated-christmas-day-2019-letter-to-editor-kra/
Indeed, if I had the money, I would hire David Finger, or some other illustrious First Amendment lawyer and sue Ms. Schwartz and the ODC “quick, fast, and in a hurry” for malicious libel!
Any questions, call me at 302-423-4067.
Carpe Diem! I remain free to say things like “That fucking judge doesn’t deserve to be called “Honorable”! And the ODC sure won’t shut me up!