Executions

Yesterday, with hours to spare, the Mississippi Supreme Court stayed the execution of Willie Manning by a vote of 8-1. The stay was granted based on letters from the Department of Justice casting doubt on the scientific value of testimony from FBI experts at the trial almost 20 years ago.

The lone dissenter, Justice Mike Randolph, outlined his interest in putting someone to death immediately over the objections of the Department of Justice and its FBI experts. The decision reads like satire, making the case for the stay stronger than any majority opinion could. Oh, and then there’s some conspiracy rantings about the Obama Administration because, you know, Mississippi…

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We live in a country where some states have the death penalty. Capital punishment. The “ultimate justice,” people like Rick Perry say with a smirk, as if justice that ends in death is somehow preferable to justice that respects the dignity of human life.

Do you not know what those sanitized words mean? Do you not know what the death penalty is?

We live in a country that sanctions murder of supposed criminals. That’s what we’re talking about: murder. It’s not “self-defense.” Death row inmates are locked down, strapped down, and would be in jail for the rest of their natural lives but for our societal decision to kill them first.

And the people we kill, we suppose they are criminals. We have a system that spits out a verdict that a person is guilty. It’s a flawed, imperfect system. In any given case, witnesses, counsel, judges, or the jury could be wrong, stupid, or both. We, as a society, take their word for it because it’s the best way for dispensing justice that we’ve come up with so far.

But since we have this flawed system, and we do kill people, then it is inevitable that occasionally we’re going to murder the “wrong” person. To support the death penalty is to support the occasional murder of innocent people. That’s been true since the first barbarian hunter-gatherer thought it’d be a good idea to gather the whole tribe together to watch the death of another defenseless person who claimed innocence.

So my question is, why the hell are people so worked up over Troy Davis?

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* It took SCOTUS more than four hours to write one sentence. But oh, to be a fly on the wall last night when they decided to deny a stay of execution for Troy Davis. [New York Times]

* AT&T wants to take the DOJ’s antitrust case to trial. This must be some sort of a joke, but the only punchline I can think of is the company’s crappy wireless network. [Bloomberg]

* Court-clogger or pocket-stuffer: Andrew Cuomo is debating signing a bill that could put more money into the hands of class action attorneys. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* GW Law ex-adjunct Richard Lieberman was disbarred this week. What is with all of these lawyers who try to seduce minors online? Such a weird casualty of this profession. [National Law Journal]

* Because Chanel No. 399 just doesn’t sound as classy as Chanel No. 5, the company has filed a massive trademark infringement lawsuit against nearly 400 defendants. [ABC News]

* Memo to our readers: You know our exploding car thing was just a caption contest, right? We weren’t anticipating a real life lawyer car bombing. [Forbes]

Andrew Shirvell: Photoshopportunity?

* SCOTUS halted Duane Buck’s execution in Texas last night. How did it take 16 years for this to happen? Slow and steady doesn’t win the race on death row. [CBS News]

* Casey Anthony owes the state of Florida a pretty penny. At this rate, she may as well go to law school, because she’s already $97,626.98 in the hole. [CNN]

* New lawyers in Florida must take civility pledges. If they’re treating each other with such incivility, why haven’t we seen any benchslaps from that state lately? [ABA Journal]

* The U.S. Trustee has thrown a curveball at two Biglaw firms in the Dodgers bankruptcy case. Will Dewey & LeBoeuf and Young Conaway ever get paid? [Bloomberg]

* You’re so vain, you probably think this movie’s about you. Sorry guys, you may be a few good men, but to be Tom Cruise, you have to be good-looking and have a passion for Xenu. [New York Times]

* Andrew Shirvell has to spill the beans on whether Ave Maria had to warn the state bar about his conduct. Apparently the man’s got great gaydar. Wonder why… [Detroit Free Press]

Shon Hopwood

* Interesting historical perspective from Professor Dave Hoffman on the current debate over legal education. One critic wrote that “there are too many lawyers in this country,” “many of them are not busy,” and “many of them are on the margin of starvation” — back in 1932. [Concurring Opinions]

* And some thoughts on the subject from someone who, despite all the warnings, has decided to go to law school — Shon Hopwood, our former Jailhouse Lawyer of the Day. [The Cockle Bur]

* Professor Paul Horwitz has a response to Governor Rick Perry’s “Response” — and Horwitz seems somewhat sympathetic. [New York Times]

* No, University of Chicago law review editors, Professor Stephen Bainbridge is not going to give up his valuable time to help you do your jobs. [Professor Bainbridge]

* The 7 Habits of Highly Useless Outside Corporate Lawyers. [What About Clients?]

* The latest salvo in the ongoing battle between Professor Lawrence Connell and Widener Law School: Widener demands that Professor Connell undergo a psychiatric evaluation. [Instapundit]

* On Friday, I spoke with John Patti of WBAL about the idea floated in my recent New York Times op-ed (co-authored with Zach Shemtob). [WBAL Radio]

* And here are some NYT letters to the editor in response to our piece. [New York Times]

* While the ABA hosts its big annual meeting up in Toronto, the ABA Journal hosts Blawg Review #314. [ABA Journal via Blawg Review]

* There’s still time to sign up for our chess set giveaway — but act soon, because time is running out. You can also join our Facebook group. [Above the Law; Facebook]

In a New York Times op-ed, mentioned previously in Morning Docket, Professor Zachary Shemtob and I argue that executions should be made public. More specifically, we argue that executions should be broadcast live or recorded for future release, on the web or on television.

Public execution has some unsavory connotations, perhaps dating back to the days when hangings took place before rowdy crowds in the public square. But when you stop and think about it, the idea really isn’t all that crazy….

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