Friday, October 29, 2010
“ECONOMIC APSECTS OF THE DEVELOPMENT AND PREVENTION OF CRIMINALITY AMONG CHILDREN AND YOUTH A Sequel to the Kids ‘N Crime Report”
This is from the Justice Institute of British Columbia - Tom
Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta may not sound famous, but the University of South Carolina is offering a course next spring devoted to her — and the sociology of fame.
Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images
Apparently one secret to becoming famous is to change your name. Ms. Germanotta now goes by Lady Gaga.
What else accounts for the soaring popularity of the 24-year-old global phenom? The question has intrigued and inspired Mathieu Deflem, 48, a sociology professor at the University of South Carolina at Columbia, who plans to teach a course called “Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame.” He believes it is the only such full-time college course in the country.
He wants to explore what makes a person famous and what being famous means in today’s culture. Or, as the course description puts it: “The central objective is to unravel some of the sociologically relevant dimensions of the fame of Lady Gaga.”
What does this have to do with Criminology? Tom
In the case of Jeffrey Landrigan, convicted of murder and executed by Arizona on Tuesday, the system failed him at almost every level, most disturbingly at the Supreme Court. In a 5-to-4 vote, the court’s conservative majority allowed the execution to proceed based on a stark misrepresentation.
Of the 35 states that allow the death penalty, all now execute by lethal injection. Most use a sequence of drugs that is supposed to provide a painless death, but when it is administered incorrectly it causes agony that amounts to torture. Veterinarians say the method doesn’t meet the standard for euthanizing animals.
This is a New York Times editorial. Tom
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 07:16:56 AM PDT
Well no wonder the Right wants to shut down NPR.
They keep committing acts of journalism.
Long-term investigation out this morning finds:
Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law
This is one of the most shocking things I have heard on the radio in years. The story begins when a mysterious gentleman shows up in Benson, AZ to pitch a plan to the city manager.
What he was selling was a prison for women and children who were illegal immigrants.
"They talk [about] how positive this was going to be for the community," Nichols said, "the amount of money that we would realize from each prisoner on a daily rate."
But Nichols wasn't buying. He asked them how would they possibly keep a prison full for years — decades even — with illegal immigrants?
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
DENNIS EDNY: He’s agreed to accept this deal because when he looks at the alternatives and the alternatives are that he’s in a military process…that has been condemned by military prosecutors themselves who say that it is designed to make findings of guilt. He faced the potential of life in prison under this system here because the jury is hand picked, the judge is hand picked, the prosecution is hand picked and the military defense is hand picked. And then what I think really capped it all off was, much of the evidence against Omar are statements that he made while being abused and tortured and under duress. So the cards were stacked.
Indeed, Khadr was both mentally and physically abused at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan, where he was first interrogated, and at Gitmo. Those statements he made under duress were deemed admissible in court. Moreover, the New York Times notes that Khadr’s prosecution was “unusual” not only because child soldiers are normally not prosecuted (Khadr was 15 years old when the U.S. military apprehended him), but also because the main charge against him was killing a soldier on the battlefield, an action, again, that is not traditionally prosecuted. Thus, the U.S. military took great pains (see the “Jurisdiction” section of Khadr’s Stipulation of Fact) to make the case that Khadr lacked military immunity. One reason the military cited was the fact that Khadr wore no national military uniform. The Times reports the Obama administration’s shocking reaction to this conundrum:
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Murder charges were dropped against Ilario Pantano, who now verges on election victory buoyed by right-wing backing
by Ed Pilkington
The basic facts are undisputed: on 15 April 2004 Ilario Pantano, then a second lieutenant with the US marines, stopped and detained two Iraqi men in a car near Falluja. The Iraqis were unarmed and the car found to be empty of weapons.Pantano ordered the two men to search the car for a second time and then, with no other US soldiers in view, unloaded a magazine of his M16A4 automatic rifle into them, before reloading and blasting a second magazine at them – some 60 rounds in total.
Over the corpses, he left a placard inscribed with the marine motto: "No better friend, No worse enemy."
Six years later Pantano is on the verge of a stunning electoral victory that could send him to the US Congress in Washington. He is standing as Republican candidate in North Carolina's 7th congressional district, which was last represented by his party in 1871.
Maybe I need to read this again. This guy is about to get elected to Congress. And Omar Khadr, a child soldier, fighting for his life, goes to Guantanamo and eight years later is forced to plea bargain for some yet to be determined sentence, as opposed to being found guilty of a war crime. See following story. Tom
by Andy Worthington
Yesterday morning, wearing a dark suit, a white shirt and a dark tie, Omar Khadr, the Canadian citizen who was just 15 years old when he was seized after a firefight in Afghanistan in July 2002, ended an eight-year struggle — first by the Bush administration, and then by the Obama administration — to convict him in a war crimes trial at Guantánamo, when he accepted a plea deal in exchange for a reported eight-year sentence.According to an article in the Miami Herald, drawing on comments made by “two legal sources with direct knowledge” of the deal, Khadr said he “eagerly took part in a July 28, 2002 firefight with US Special Forces in Afghanistan that mortally wounded Sgt 1st Class Christopher Speer.” This was the crux of the case against him, and a charge that he had always previously denied. He also said that he had “aspired as a teen to kill Americans and Jews,” and described his father, Ahmed Said Khadr, who had been responsible for taking him on numerous visits to Pakistan and Afghanistan as a child, leading to the events on the day of his capture, as “a part of Bin Laden’s inner circle, a trusted confidant and fundraiser.”
Does this sound like justice to you? Tom
Monday, October 25, 2010
A Canadian prisoner in Guantanamo Bay has pleaded guilty to killing an American soldier while he was a young teenager as part of a deal that will allow him to avoid a war crimes trial.Omar Khadr on Monday pleaded guilty to five charges, including murder, for throwing a grenade that killed a US soldier in Afghanistan in 2002. He was just 15 at the time of the incident, which occurred during a fierce firefight at an al-Qaeda compound in Afghanistan.
Khadr, now 24, also admitted to planting improvised explosive devices and receiving weapons training from al-Qaeda. His defence lawyers say that because Khadr was a child when the offences occurred, he should not be tried for war-crimes.
The exact terms of the plea deal were not immediately disclosed, but Khadr is due to be sentenced by a military jury in several days. The sentence they impose is bound by the plea deal.
Khadr would be allowed to trasfer back to his native Canada after serving a year of his sentence as part of the deal, the military judge in charge of the case said.
Friday, October 22, 2010
The Tea Party movement has links to white supremacists, anti-immigration groups, "birthers" and other "extremists," according to a report released by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
The 94 page report, entitled Tea Party Nationalism (.pdf), investigates six national organizations "at the core" of the Tea Party: FreedomWorks Tea Party, 1776 Tea Party, Tea Party Nation, Tea Party Patriots, ResistNet, and the Tea Party Express.
"Based on their past allegations about the Tea Parties, I expect the NAACP's newest attack will once again be riddled with stupid and baseless accusations," said Project 21's Emery McClendon. "They are continuing to be the 'squeaky wheel' that demands attention and hopes that enough screaming will make their myths into fact. I hope the NAACP's 'research' receives the scrutiny it deserves."
“Conviction” tells the story of Betty Anne Waters, who put herself through law school with the sole purpose of exonerating her brother, Kenny Waters. Kenny Waters’ 18-year imprisonment was horrifying and chilling, and mistakes like the one that put him in prison happen all too often.
I'll catch it on DVD. Tom
Please Do Not Display Weapons: "In consideration of other guests and staff please do not openly display weapons. While in your guest room, all weapons must be concealed." —Hyatt Regency sign at the Gun Rights Policy Conference in Burlingame, California.
Steve Goode is the fourth man in the hotel who offers to take me to a gun range. At 63, the mostly deaf National Rifle Association instructor wears high-powered digital hearing aides and owns a low-powered shotgun he uses for trap-shooting. Fortunately, "You don't need to hear to shoot," he tells me at this year's Gun Rights Policy Conference in Burlingame, California. Like the other white male boomers crammed into a Hyatt ballroom one recent weekend, Goode registered for the two-day event (with added poolside reception!) because he's riled by handgun regulations cropping up in states across the US—especially in Illinois, where he lives. The waiting periods to get a gun permit, the training, the registration, the background checks, the restrictions on where, how, and which firearm and ammo he can use—all these not only threaten his hobby but his ability to defend himself, he says—and he's becoming more politically active this fall as a result.
John Lott was in attendance. Tom
Thursday, October 21, 2010
From Leon Trotsky to Johnny Cash to Jane Fonda.
The first known photograph of a person is said to have been taken by Louis Daguerre in 1838 or 1839. The widespread use of photography to record the faces of criminals, however, didn't catch on until the 1880s. According to the Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography, the legal system's delay in making full use of the new technology was due in part to the high cost and complexity of photography at the time and in part to the unresolved question of whether an image could actually function as evidence in a court of law.
Enter Alphonse Bertillon. Bertillon, a clerk in the Prefecture of Police of Paris in the late 1870s, invented the mug shot as we know it: a pair of photographs taken with a standardized pose and angle (one front shot, one profile shot) under standardized lighting conditions. The photographs were to be attached to an identification card that would also record anthropometric data—length of left pinky finger, for example—as well as descriptions of eye color, hair color, skin color, build, and identifying marks.
While crime may often seem as if it is spiraling out of control, that is far from being the case, according to Prof. David Weisburd, one of the country’s leading criminologists.
The American-born Weisburd, who in June was awarded the prestigious Stockholm Prize in Criminology for his work on “hot-spots policing” explains that crime is in fact down, but cautions that this may be the result of a decline in the reporting of criminal incidents because of a lack of confidence in the police.
“I know a lot of people who don’t report because they are so disgusted with the kind of response they get,” he says.
“So a more service-oriented police may actually initially increase the crime rate.”
Weisburd is critical of many aspects of the police’s work, in particular what he describes as its failure to become an evidence- based institution adopting the findings of academic research, including his own work, but he is also at pains not to give the impression that he sees the Israel Police as some kind of backward institution.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Post-G20 Action Guide: Know your rights, know your options, and take action to get justice and hold the police accountable for their wrongdoing during the Toronto G20 Summit.
This guide is a resource to help you understand your rights and the kinds of actions you can take in response to a violation of your rights during the G20 Summit in Toronto in June 2010.During the G20 Summit in Toronto on June 26 and 27, 2010, police trampled on the legal rights and civil liberties of thousands of protestors, legal observers, media personnel, bystanders, and other members of the public.
If you or someone you know were one of them, this guide is for you.
If you want to know what you can do to hold the police accountable for their wrongful actions and to get compensation and justice for any wrong done to you, this guide is for you
This guide could be useful. Unless of course there are some secret laws in effect that no one knows about.....except the police. Tom
Marisol Valles Garcia took charge on Monday of security in the town, population 10,000, on the US border. The community is around 80 km east of Ciudad Juarez, itself regarded as the most violent city in Mexico.
Good luck to her. Tom
15 Million Americans Have Been Arrested Because Pot Is Illegal -- When Will Our Dumb Marijuana Prohibition Be Overturned?
The great divide between politicians and the people is showing itself in California where polls show the voters support Proposition 19 and where the mainstream politicians mostly oppose it.
To many Americans, there are few policies more bankrupt than the prohibition on marijuana use, a recognition that a blue-ribbon panel reached four decades ago, urging an emphasis on drug education rather than incarceration.
In 1970, the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse recommended ending the illegality of marijuana in the United States. The Dutch also had a national commission that reached the same conclusion.
The difference was the Dutch listened to their experts and President Nixon and other American politicians ignored the U.S. experts. Well, the results are in – the experts were right and the politicians were wrong, even on the issue of how many people use marijuana. It turns out prohibition was less successful than decriminalization.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Talk to people living in the North about why the violent crime rate is so high compared to the rest of Canada and you'll hear about the "complex" or "unique" problems "up here." But it's not until you listen to Peter J. Harte, a lawyer in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, tell the unimaginable story of a young woman he knows that you can begin to understand what that means.
At 13, the girl was sexually abused by her brother. This only came to the attention of police when they questioned her about why she was trying to put her little sister into hiding. Her brother wound up in jail, and the teen was placed with a foster family in another community.Related links
Canada's most dangerous cities
See Where Your City Ranks Overall
Canada's most dangerous cities: Homicide
Why Canada's most populous provinces boast many of its safest cities
Drugs plus gangs equal the top crime cities in Canada
Almost immediately, the foster father began sexually abusing her, too-which police learned about this time when they encountered the girl running down the street naked. The man was convicted, but just before sentencing he hung himself. With no place else to go, the girl returned to her home community, where her brother, now free, nearly beat her to death.
Staughton Lynd. (Photo: E Wayne)
Staughton Lynd could have built an enviable career as an academic but for his conscience. His conscience led him as a young undergraduate disgusted by the elitism around him to drop out of Harvard, and tortured him when he returned to finish his degree. It plagued him after he received his doctorate from Columbia and saw him head to the segregated South to join his friend Howard Zinn in teaching history at the historically black Spelman College. It propelled him to become the director of Freedom Schools in the Mississippi Summer Project of 1964. It prodded him a year later to chair the first march against the Vietnam War in Washington, D.C., and join Tom Hayden and Herbert Aptheker on a trip to Hanoi.
The administration at Yale University, where Staughton taught after leaving Spelman because of conflicts with the college president over his and Zinn’s activism, was not amused. Yale dismissed him as a professor. Five other universities, which had offered Staughton teaching positions, abruptly rescinded their offers. He had become a pariah. No university would hire him, although his book “Intellectual Origins of American Radicalism” had become a minor classic. Staughton, like all incorrigible rebels, found a new route to defy authority. He put himself, with his wife’s help, through law school, graduated in 1976 and moved to Youngstown, Ohio, to fight the departing steel companies and defend workers tossed out of jobs.
When he first saw a video of a Toronto constable threatening to arrest a G20 protester for blowing bubbles, one YouTube user was so livid, he couldn’t stop writing comments.
In fact, the man, who uses the alias “theforcebewithme,” can’t even remember writing the specific comment that now has him defending a $1.2 million defamation lawsuit launched by Toronto’s now notorious “Officer Bubbles.”
Const. Adam Josephs seeks to compel the Google-owned YouTube to reveal the identity of the person who created and posted the videos as well as any information it has on the 24 other users who made allegedly defamatory remarks.
The case highlights a collision between two worlds: The wild-west of social media, where people under aliases throw insults without pause versus the laws of the old media world, where people are held accountable for everything they write.
Follow the link and watch the YouTube video. Tom
Friday, October 15, 2010
Every Justice is a 'Judicial Activist' -- Right-Wingers Just Don't Like the Ones Who Don't Agree with Them
In 1787, writing in the Federalist Papers in support of state ratification of the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton argued that the proposed Supreme Court "will always be the least dangerous to the political rights of the constitution." As for judicial activism, "contraventions of the will of the legislature may now and then happen; but they can never be as extensive as to affect the order of the political system."
In 2010, as the Supreme Court convenes for a new term, liberals, conservatives and independents all agree that Hamilton's prophecy was wildly off the mark. Conservatives blame liberals for his errancy. They argue that judicial restraint would be the norm but for the hijacking of the Court liberals' "judicial activists."
Liberals, as usual, react defensively. During the Ellen Kagan confirmation hearings, President Obama, a former professor of constitutional law, once again confirmed Robert Frost's characterization of a liberal as someone so broadminded he won't take his own side in an argument, when Obama described an activist judge as an anomaly. "(S)omebody who ignored the will of Congress, ignored democratic process and tried to impose judicial solutions on problems instead of letting the process work itself through politically." He added, "And in the '60s and '70s liberals were guilty of that kind of approach. What you're now seeing, I think, is a conservative jurisprudence that oftentimes makes the same error. The concept of judicial restraint cuts both ways."
This link is to a large pdf file. Check it out. For Western Europe and North America Canada ranks 5th for Access to Civil Justice, and 6th for Effective Criminal Justice. Here is a link to a bit of commentary at the Huffington Post. Tom
Thursday, October 14, 2010
By ADAM LIPTAKWASHINGTON — In the course of an hourlong argument at the Supreme Court on Wednesday about a death row inmate’s quest to test DNA evidence, the justices asked neither of the questions that people without legal training might have thought crucial: Why won’t Texas prosecutors consent to the testing? And could the results show that the inmate, Henry W. Skinner, is innocent of the triple murder that sent him to death row?
The justices focused instead on whether Mr. Skinner had located a path through a thicket of legal doctrines meant to limit postconviction challenges.
Last year, in District Attorney’s Office v. Osborne, No.08-6, the court ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that inmates have no freestanding right under the Constitution’s due process clause to test evidence that could prove their innocence in states without laws on DNA testing. The court and Congress have, moreover, severely limited habeas corpus challenges to convictions and sentences.
This is a New York Times editorial. Tom
Report Reveals Discrimination Against Transgender People by Health Providers, High HIV rates, Lack of Access to Necessary Care
Key findings include:
- Nearly 1 in 5 (19 percent) reported being refused care outright because they were transgender or gender non-conforming.
- Survey participants reported very high levels of postponing medical care when sick or injured due to discrimination and disrespect (28 percent).
- Harassment: 28 percent of respondents were subjected to harassment in medical settings.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Jamie and Gladys Scott are two young women from rural Mississippi who were convicted, on questionable evidence, of involvement in an armed robbery that netted $11, and were sentenced to life in prison. Jamie Scott is suffering from end-stage renal disease, exacerbated by prison conditions and inadequate treatment–so her life sentence may soon become a death sentence.
Mother Jones was among the first non-local media to cover the case of the Scott sisters. Now the case in finally getting some national attention: The president of the NAACP, Ben Jealous, has called the sisters’ situation “utterly inhumane”; along with a growing number of grassroots supporters, he is urging Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour to consider a pardon or commutation of their sentence. Today, this same call was made by New York Times op-ed columnist Bob Herbert. After describing the Scotts’ conviction and sentence, he writes:
by Jon Walker
The Rand Corporation is notorious for its history of pro-drug-war studies. A report of theirs from earlier this year on Proposition 19 was full of dubious claims based on what even they had to admit were just guesses. Once again, with their newest report about marijuana legalization, the Rand Corporation buries the lede from their own study, one which strongly supporters the anti-cartel claims made by marijuana reformers. While not part of the press release, the study, in fact, backs up one of the main arguments of the supporters of marijuana legalization. The study determines legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana could eliminate all the profits the Mexican drug cartels currently make thanks to cannabis prohibition. From the Rand Study (PDF):We believe that legalizing marijuana in California would effectively eliminate Mexican DTOs’ revenues from supplying Mexican-grown marijuana to the California market. As we elaborate in this chapter, even with taxes, legally produced marijuana would likely cost no more than would illegal marijuana from Mexico and would cost less than half as much per unit of THC (Kilmer, Caulkins, Pacula, et al., 2010). Thus, the needs of the California market would be supplied by the new legal industry. While, in theory, some DTO employees might choose to work in the legal marijuana industry, they would not be able to generate unusual profits, nor be able to draw on talents that are particular to a criminal organization.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
I guess they aren't electrocuting enough mentally ill people to death:
Five NYC police precincts are testing a new type of taser today after a the department's standard-issue taser failed to subdue a knife-wielding suspect and led to a fatal shooting Sunday morning.
On Sunday, police responded to a 911 call from 24-year-old Emmanuel Paulino. Paulino had told the 911 operator he was "ready to kill some cops," so they, um, dispatched some cops to his home in the Bronx. Police tried to subdue the knife-wielding Paulino with a taser, but he managed to pull one of the weapon's prongs out of his body and wound up being shot down after he continued to approach the officers.
The new taser model -- which NY1 says "can even penetrate two inches of clothing" -- is lighter and more powerful than the ones cops currently carry.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
The conservative justices' influence on constitutional law isn't likely to end soon, no matter who wins the White House in 2012.
As the Supreme Court begins its new term Monday, its sixth with John G. Roberts Jr. as chief justice, the reality is that this is the most conservative court since the mid-1930s. Since Richard Nixon ran for president in 1968, conservatives have sought to change constitutional law, and they have succeeded in virtually every area.
During the first years of the Roberts court, it has consistently ruled in favor of corporate power, such as in holding that corporations have the 1st Amendment right to spend unlimited amounts in independent political campaigns. For the first time in American history, the high court has struck down laws regulating firearms as violations of the 2nd Amendment and held that the Constitution protects a right of individuals to possess guns. It has dramatically cut back on the rights of criminal defendants, especially as to the exclusion of evidence gained through illegal searches and seizures under the 4th Amendment and the protections of the 5th Amendment's privilege against self-incrimination. It has greatly limited the ability of the government to formulate remedies for the segregation of public schools. It has significantly expanded the power of the government to regulate abortions.
Graphic video of police repeatedly stunning an unarmed man with a taser has helped restart a debate about whether stun guns are being overused by authorities in Australia.
Western Australia state police said the incident was totally unacceptable, and not typical of taser use by the force. State Premier Colin Barnett has dubbed it a major breach of procedure and demanded a review of taser guidelines.
The video's release also comes amid questions in eastern Australia over the death of a Sydney man Monday after police stunned him in the chest with a taser.
Closed-circuit video footage of the Western Australia incident was released publicly on Monday, when the state's crime commission introduced a report to state parliament that cited the August 2008 case as an example of police officers wrongfully using a stun gun.
Here's another recent story on tasers. God and Tasers At Yale Tom
With demographics playing an ever more important role in economic outlooks and debate, one of the topics that (luckily) has not had need of much mention, is the role of crime in society, and especially in a society gripped by the worst recession in 70 years. The logical expectation would be that crime would have surged in a replica of what happened to New York (and the broader country) in the mid-70s. Oddly enough, and perhaps a main reason why this is not discussed as much, is because this particular recession has not seen the traditional pick up in the crime rate (doubly curious, considering that unlike Wall Street, police departments, and their staffing levels, are usually among the first to get the funding axe). As BNY's Nicholas Colas points out: "Given the severity of the recession, you might be rightfully inclined to think there’s been a least a slight uptick in crime, but surprisingly enough, you’d be wrong. With national crime statistics from the FBI now available through 2009 – which includes the worst of the recession so far – we point out that not only has crime not gotten worse, but it’s actually continued improve quite nicely (in most states, at least). Moreover, those surprisingly positive trends are part of an overall structural decrease in crime that began in the early 1990s.The structural decline in crime that began in the early 1990s explains why the crime spike during the aftermath of the dot-com bubble and 9/11 was less pronounced than previous recessions, but it’s quite surprising that even given the severity of the financial crisis, crime rates expanded on previous declines. Yes, there are many theories (outlined below) that partially explain this, but the results are as puzzling as they are welcome. Not even theft and burglary, which have historically increased during recessions (see Charts 2 and 3) showed the slightest uptick." Yet with those behind bars not counted in the unemployment rate equation, is a violent (pardon the pun) surge in crime precisely what the administration is hoping for?...
This post is for entertainment purposes only. It comes from ZeroHedge a libertarian, economic doomster site. Tom
On April 19, 1999, Michael Banks and Gordon Cooney traveled from Philadelphia to Louisiana's death row at the State Penitentiary at Angola to meet with their client, John Thompson. Banks and Cooney had represented Thompson since 1988, and his appeal for capital murder was rapidly reaching an inexorable conclusion. Despite the lawyers' best efforts, they had failed. The U.S. Supreme Court had rejected their final petition. Thompson's eighth—and final—death warrant had been signed by the judge. John Thompson was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on May 20, 1999.
Banks and Cooney had a brief and emotionally wrenching meeting with Thompson, made worse by the fact that Thompson was more concerned about them than he was about himself. Exhausted and demoralized, they began the long drive back to New Orleans, where they would have to tell Thompson's mother that they had been unable to save her son's life. During the drive, Cooney checked his voice mail. What he found was a message from a private investigator with surprising new evidence in the case—the first pull on a thread that would take John Thompson off death row, then out of prison entirely, and this week to the United States Supreme Court.
By John Burton
5 October 2010
Yesterday—the first Monday in October—the Supreme Court opened its 2010 term with a docket of 51 cases, 23 of which raise issues primarily of concern to major corporations. While there are some civil rights and criminal law issues on the docket, notably absent at present is any case challenging the assault on democratic rights initiated by the Bush administration and continued under Obama’s, including summary imprisonment, rendition, torture and murder.
Thousands of petitions for certiorari, the technical name for review requests in the Supreme Court, are filed every year. The selection of cases is as revealing as the decisions themselves. Most likely 30 to 40 more cases will be added by the time the term ends in late June.
Newly confirmed Associate Justice Elena Kagan is sitting in the seat filled since 1975 by moderate John Paul Stevens, and asked her first question 20 minutes into the first oral argument, whether a bankruptcy debtor can shield the expense of maintaining a vehicle after the finance company has been paid back. Because of her role as Obama’s Solicitor General, the lawyer who represents the administration in Supreme Court matters, she is expected to disqualify herself in about half of the term’s cases.
Friday, October 1, 2010
Fri Oct 01, 2010 at 07:09:35 AM PDT
Toke of the Town is reporting that Gov.Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed SB1449, a bill that reduces Ca. penalties for possession of a oz of Cannabis or less from a misdemeanor to a infraction. No longer will a person with a oz or less have to appear in court or face time in jail.
Decrim In Cali! Schwarzenegger Signs Bill: Pot Now $100 Fine
Some of the criticisms of Tuesday's Ontario Superior Court ruling have so inane as to reinforce that view. But I have to admit that my feelings on this subject have been a little more mixed since my ride-along this summer with Lorna Bruce, the London police officer who does outreach work with street prostitutes.
For starters, rest assured that the ban on bawdy houses – one of the laws struck down in Ontario – has very little to do with these women being on the street. They're in rough, rough shape – working to support drug addictions most of them developed before they started selling themselves. The reason they're not working in-house somewhere is that nobody would have them.
The greatest flaw in Judge Himel’s reasoning is that she places the blame for the risks involved in prostitution on criminal offences against solicitation, bawdy houses and living off the avails of prostitution, rather than on the violent johns and traffickers who are the real cause of physical violence, rape and murder in Canada’s sex trade.
Countries that have legalized prostitution have not succeeded in using elaborate regulations to address these problems. In the Netherlands, officials shut down vast sections of Amsterdam’s red-light district due to infiltration by organized crime. A 2005 report commissioned by the European Parliament found that legalized prostitution generally results in higher levels of violence against prostituted women. In New Zealand, regulation of the sex trade has not improved conditions in brothels with a history of problems, and exploitative contracts continue to be used. But the status quo in Canada that criminalizes those being sold for sex is equally unpalatable to many.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Susan Himel laboured for a year over her landmark decision quashing Canada’s prostitution laws. Still, her verdict this week is but a lone voice that will not be the last word on the issue. Nor should it be.
The federal government indicated Wednesday that it will appeal. A legal appeal was the appropriate response the morning after. But even the Supreme Court should not have the last word on this issue.
The social and public policy arguments for and against decriminalization are far too complex to be off-loaded onto the courts (which get relatively little public input or publicity). Doing so would deprive ordinary Canadians and their elected representatives of the right to be heard on an issue affecting people and neighbourhoods.