Democracy Now: Death Penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in Anti-Execution State Brings Complications, Not Closure
May 18, 2015

“A federal jury has sentenced 21-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death by lethal injection for setting off bombs at the 2013 Boston Marathon that killed three and injured more than 260. The sentence was issued in Massachusetts, a state which has banned the death penalty since 1987 and has not carried out an execution since 1947. Polls show 85 percent of Bostonians oppose the death penalty for Tsarnaev, as well as 80 percent of Massachusetts residents. The jury in the case was “death-qualified,” meaning each member had to be open to considering the death penalty, and anyone who opposed it could not serve. Tsarnaev’s lawyers are now expected to appeal. The process could take more than a decade to finish. Since the federal death penalty was reinstated, just three federal prisoners have been executed, none since 2003. We host a roundtable with three guests: James Rooney, president of Massachusetts Citizens Against the Death Penalty; Eric Freedman, professor of constitutional law at Hofstra Law School, who has worked on many death penalty cases; and Denny LeBoeuf, director of the ACLU’s John Adams Project, who has 26 years of experience as a capital defense attorney…”

” …The real guerrilla war is being waged by death states that continue to pursue executions even as crime remains at historic lows and public opinion turns against this archaic ritual. Many of these states are making a farce of the Court’s own decades long effort to forge a more legal and more humane death penalty by using all means, legal or otherwise, to acquire execution drugs; and obstructing prisoners and their advocates from discovering even the most basic scientific facts about how the state proposes to take their lives. Meanwhile the death penalty majority on the Supreme Court has fought its own battle to prevent continued judicial oversight of state executions. Indeed, the first named petitioner in the case in which Justice Alito delivered his appeal for honesty was executed earlier this year even as the issue he raised was scheduled for Supreme Court argument…”

PrawfsBlawg, “Capital Punishment’s Loyal Officer.” By Jonathan Simon on May 9, 2015

The period of time Baltimore police officers enjoy under law to “get their stories together.”

Complaints in Baltimore About Law Offering Protections for Officers
New York Times By Timothy Williams (April 30, 2015)

“As Justice Department officials began meeting with community leaders in Baltimore this week in the early stages of their civil rights inquiry into the death of Freddie Gray, they heard repeated complaints about a state law that gives special legal protections to police officers suspected of abusing their power.

The law is similar to at least a dozen across the country, commonly known as police officers’ bills of rights. But Maryland’s, enacted in the early 1970s, was the first and goes the furthest in offering layers of legal protection to police officers. Among its provisions is one that gives officers 10 days before they have to talk to investigators.

“There should be no reason why they should have 10 days to get their story together,” said Tré Murphy, coordinator for the Baltimore United for Change Coalition, who attended one of the meetings. “They are not being held accountable, and frankly, we need to do something about it.”

Indonesia defends executions as part of ‘war’ on drugs
By AFP | 29 Apr, 2015

“Indonesia’s attorney general today defended the execution of seven foreign drug convicts, saying that the country was facing a “war” against drugs. “We are fighting a war against horrible drug crimes that threaten our nation’s survival,” Muhammad Prasetyo told reporters in Cilacap, the gateway to the high-security prison island of Nusakambangan where the executions took place.

The seven convicts — two from Australia, one from Brazil and four from Africa — were put to death by firing squad early Wednesday, along with one Indonesian, despite strident international appeals and pleas from family members. A Filipina originally set to be executed was given an 11th hour reprieve.

“I would like to say that an execution is not a pleasant thing. It is not a fun job,” Prasetyo went on.

[Yes, Executions are horrible!]

Exhibit A. Justice Alito’s Polygamy Perplex – BY AMY DAVIDSON

The New Yorker (April 30, 2015)

“Judging from Justice Samuel Alito’s contributions during Tuesday’s oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, the same-sex marriage case before the Supreme Court, he is a little hung up on polygamy. Over the course of two and a half hours, he asked about little else—other than sibling marriage and the sexual relations of the ancient Greeks. “Suppose we rule in your favor in this case and then, after that, a group consisting of two men and two women apply for a marriage license,” he said to Mary Bonauto, one of the lawyers arguing against state bans on same-sex marriage. “Would there be any ground for denying them?” She explained that there would be many grounds: the structures of marriage are designed around two people, and polygamy raises questions of coercion and consent…”

Exhibit B. “Justices clash over lethal injection cocktail: Justice Alito accuses death penalty opponents of waging “guerrilla war.” – By Josh Gerstein

POLITICO (4/29/15)

“Let’s be honest about what’s going on here,” Justice Samuel Alito declared emphatically. “Is it appropriate for the judiciary to countenance what amounts to a guerrilla war against the death penalty?” The original drugs, sodium thiopental and phenobarbital, “have been rendered unavailable by the abolitionist movement putting pressure on the companies that manufacture them,” Justice Antonin Scalia told a lawyer for death row prisoners. “And now you want to come before the Court and say, well, this third drug is not 100 percent sure. The reason it isn’t 100 percent sure is because the abolitionists have rendered it impossible to get the 100 percent sure drugs.”

Exhibit C. Transcript Glossip v. Gross (14-7955)

JUSTICE ALITO:  And why is Oklahoma not using sodium thiopental?  Why is it not using that drug?

MS. KONRAD:  It isn’t using it ­­ you’ll ­­ – You could ask my friend here, but ­­

JUSTICE ALITO:  You don’t know?

MS. KONRAD:  The ­­ the finding here is that it was unavailable at that time of the hearing.

JUSTICE ALITO:  Yes.  I mean, let’s be honest about what’s going on here.  Executions could be carried out painlessly.  There are many jurisdictions ­­- There are jurisdictions in this country, there are jurisdictions abroad that allow assisted suicide, and I assume that those are carried out with little, if any,
pain.  Oklahoma and other States could carry out executions painlessly. Now, this Court has held that the death penalty is constitutional.  It’s controversial as a
constitutional matter.  It certainly is controversial as a policy matter.  Those who oppose the death penalty are free to try to persuade legislatures to abolish the
death penalty.  Some of those efforts have been successful.  They’re free to ask this Court to overrule the death penalty. But until that occurs, is it appropriate for
the judiciary to countenance what amounts to a guerilla war against the death penalty which consists of efforts to make it impossible for the States to obtain drugs
that could be used to carry out capital punishment with little, if any, pain? And so the States are reduced to using drugs like this one which give rise to disputes about whether, in fact, every possibility of pain is eliminated. Now, what is your response to that?
(At page 13-14)

I do hot yoga at 6 a.m. like an addict (It’s an elaborate form of detoxification). And I was fighting a bit this morning to hold balance deep into a class, could have been around seven a.m., and we were moving from a difficult hold in crescent lunge (twitching, dripping, … breathing!) to a crescent lunge with prayer twist (Parivṛtta Aṅjaneyāsana) to the right.

Anyway I was twisted around like I’m supposed to be and suddenly felt myself losing balance just before we were released from the posture, ultimately dropping my hand to the mat to keep from falling. Happens: I figured it was just one of those things — “its yoga practice not yoga perfect” — but after class finished at 7:15 a.m. I checked my phone and had a one word text from Deborah Palmer​: “earthquake.” There had been an earthquake (3.4) near Long Beach in Carson at 7:01 pacific time which was of course about the time we might have been holding crescent lunges … So perhaps that bit of vertigo was actually tectonic plate induced disequilibrium. According to DP, back at home, Libby felt it and growled. Her traditional response to any sort of interloper.


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