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June 26, 2010

Texas state judge schedules hearing on whether there is real risk of executing the innocent

This local story from Texas, headlined "Texas judge to hold hearing on death penalty law," reports that a state judge has scheduled a hearing for this fall that could quickly become a focal point for debate over wrongful convictions in capital cases. Here are the basics:

Texas' use of capital punishment will undergo legal scrutiny this fall as a judge on Friday scheduled a hearing to listen to evidence on whether there's a substantial risk the state's death penalty law allows for the possible execution of an innocent person.

State District Judge Kevin Fine set the hearing for Nov. 8 as part of a pretrial motion in which two defense attorneys for a Houston man facing a possible death sentence asked that Texas' death penalty statute be declared unconstitutional.

Fine initially granted the motion in March, declaring the law unconstitutional because he believed it is safe to assume innocent people have been executed.  He also questioned whether society, considering the recent history of death row inmate exonerations, can continue to ignore this reality.  Anti-death penalty groups lauded his March decision and many elected officials, including Gov. Rick Perry, criticized it.

Fine, a Democrat, is a judge in Harris County, which sends more inmates to death row than any other county in the nation.  Texas has carried out more executions than any other U.S. state.

The November hearing could last at least two weeks and death penalty experts from around the country are expected to testify, said Casey Keirnan, one of the defense attorneys that asked for the hearing.  Keirnan and Bob Loper are representing John Edward Green Jr., accused of fatally shooting a Houston woman and wounding her sister during a June 2008 robbery.

"I think everybody in the United States would agree that the possibility exists" an innocent person has been executed, Keirnan said.  "We think there is much more than a possibility, based on all the exonerations, all the problems with the forensics."

Kari Allen, a prosecutor with the Harris County District Attorney's Office, said her office isn't opposed to a hearing that would examine the constitutionality of the state's death penalty law. "We are opposed if the hearing is about whether or not Texas has executed an innocent person," she said. "We do not believe (Fine) has the jurisdiction to make that sort of ruling."

Prosecutors have also objected to some of the issues that defense attorneys plan to bring up at the hearing, including the legitimacy of eyewitness testimony.  The Harris County District Attorney's Office had filed a motion asking to remove Fine from the case, accusing him of being biased against capital punishment.  But another judge appointed to review the motion denied the request last month, saying Fine's impartiality could not be reasonably questioned.

Attorneys for Green, who's being held in the Harris County jail, argue Texas' death penalty statute violates their client's constitutional right to protection from cruel and unusual punishment.  They say it's because the law's use has created a substantial risk that innocent people have been, and will be, convicted and executed.  Prosecutors argue the law is well-settled and that capital punishment can be fairly and properly sought in the state.

There is strong support in Texas for the death penalty, but the state's use of it has recently come under fire from death penalty opponents in two cases.  Earlier this month, a judge ordered DNA testing on a strand of hair that was the only physical evidence linking a man, Claude Jones, to a 1989 shooting death for which he was executed 10 years ago.  In April in a separate case, a state forensics panel renewed its review of a questionable arson finding that led to the 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was convicted of setting a fire that killed his three children....

Last year, the state executed 24 people, including six cases from Harris County. Thirteen people have been executed so far this year, one from Harris County. The state's next execution is set for Wednesday.

This scheduled hearing could quickly become one of the biggest death penalty stories of 2010 if it goes forward as planned and if the defense is allowed to bring in national figures to testify as to the risks and causes of wrongful conviction.  But still, a columnist at the Dallas Morning News here sensibly wonders "Will Judge Fine's death penalty hearing lead to anything?"

June 26, 2010 at 11:02 AM | Permalink

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"Will Judge Fine's death penalty hearing lead to anything?"

Yes. Reversal.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jun 26, 2010 11:11:15 AM

If the death penalty ends in Texas, that ruling will condemn hundreds of innocent prisoners, guards, and visitors to death, as it grants absolute immunity to murderers after the first murder.

I would like to end judge, self-dealt immunity. The estates of the victims of condemned murderers saved by Judge Fine should be able to sue him personally for the damages he knowingly caused.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 26, 2010 11:47:13 AM

Any rational person knows there is a risk of executing a person who simply didn't do it. The question, from a moral point, is whether the death penalty provides such a significant benefit to society, over and above that provided by sentences of life without parole, to justify the risk that, in some indeterminate number of cases, we will be killing somebody who was in fact factually innocent of the crime. I don't presume to know that answer to that question....I only know that is the right question to ask.

Posted by: Grotius | Jun 26, 2010 5:48:41 PM

Grotius --

There are at least two other, related questions we need to ask.

1. What is the actual risk of executing an innocent person? Over the last 40 years or so, there has been no finding by anything approaching a neutral body -- a court or anything else -- that we have executed ANYONE who didn't do it. See Justice Scalia's concurrence in Kansas v. Marsh. While there is without doubt SOME degree of risk that an erroneous execution will happen, the last two generations of history show the risk to be very, very small.

2. Measured against that, what is the risk that a murderer we could have executed but didn't will kill again? Again, history provides the answer. Over these same last 40 years, murderers who could legally have been executed but were not have killed again dozens of times -- I think it's well more than 100. This is because, though they were sent to prison, prison security is not infallible. There are in-prison murders of cellmates, rival gang members, disfavored (or merely weak) inmates, not to mention teachers, counselors, guards, infirmary staff and so on. This is to say nothing of murder during and after escape or erroneous release.

Judicial outcomes, including the death penalty, are not infallible and never will be. But what gets overlooked is that incarceration is ALSO not infallible; indeed, getting it wrong in prison happens vastly more frequently than getting it wrong in a capital trial.

Because fallibility exists throughout any human institution, we do not have the choice of selecting a law of punishment that guarantees that no innocent person will wrongly meet his maker. We are consigned to selecting the law likely to bring about the fewest deaths of innocent people. By any fair account, the death penalty for murderers does that far better than imprisonment.

3. This is to say nothing of the general deterrent effect of the DP, which has, over the last few years, been confirmed by two dozen independently (and differently) conducted studies, http://www.cjlf.org/deathpenalty/DPDeterrence.htm.

FYI, I have a post up on this at C&C, http://www.crimeandconsequences.com/crimblog/2010/06/a-danger-and-an-opportunity.html. Kent and I also covered the topic in our Federalist Society death penalty debate with two well-versed abolitionists, http://www.fed-soc.org/debates/dbtid.20/default.asp.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jun 26, 2010 6:32:16 PM

By the same logic, end all transportation, including walking. More pedestrians are killed than murderers are executed, and certainly falsely executed.

That is what torts is for. If the estate can prove a false execution, then it should be compensated, with exemplary damages from all incompetents, and careless lawyers, including the worst of all, the buffoon on the bench. This clown wants to pretend he is better than the rest of us, by his dress, by his tone, by his high bench, hammer, and by the abuse of his powers with no accountability. He justifies his lawless immunity with a psychotic delusion, that the sovereign speaks with the voice of God. Cuckoo. Cuckoo. Cuckoo.

The dumbass lawyer is so indoctrinated by the criminal cult, he allows a psychotic clown to make sick human experiments on the public without consent and with absolute immunity.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 26, 2010 7:29:54 PM

Bill - I'm sure everyone is grateful for your insight on this matter. I haven't myself followed your career closely enough to know exactly, if at all, you have been closely involved in death penalty prosecution, judgments or defense, or have any other real connection other than that of a legal academic and member of the public. I know of course that you had a political association with legal policy as an advisor? Apologies if that is not exactly correct. Those of us who have, through association and friendship with both innocent and guilty inmates, who have suffered long years of unnecessary deprivation before execution, and of current inmates of similar disposition, view these matters differently.
You have the grace to say:
"Judicial outcomes, including the death penalty, are not infallible and never will be."
That is exactly what Judge Fine is attempting to determine in Texas. If he agrees with you then that should be enough to bring a halt to executions in Texas and throughout the US. This smokescreen that somehow the sacrifice of innocent lives is justified as it "may" save the lives of others is totally unacceptable and immoral. How dare you say to the mother of an innocent man, lingering on death row in Texas for 14 years or more, that his suffering and execution is justified!

Posted by: peter | Jun 27, 2010 9:08:56 AM

123D solves that problem. If the third conviction for violent crime is false, you are still getting rid of a bad guy, one who will never learn. The abolitionist ignores the evil of future victimizations because the victims do not generate government sinecures. The serial killer generates plenty, and must not even be offended with personal criticism, according to the left wing lawyer running the three branches of government.

If this defendant has exculpatory evidence, I favor its review by the appellate court. Limiting review to questions of law is ridiculous, an idiocy. The article states that the death penalty is unconstitutional because there is some unknown risk others may be falsely condemned, not the current party. In the absence of personal evidence, he does not even have personal standing. He is appealing on behalf of other innocent prisoners. To have standing he must show he suffered an injury, not someone else.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 27, 2010 9:27:11 AM

Bill Otis,
You stated: "1. What is the actual risk of executing an innocent person? Over the last 40 years or so, there has been no finding by anything approaching a neutral body -- a court or anything else -- that we have executed ANYONE who didn't do it."

It sounds like courts are the only neutral bodies that you would give credence? Can you identify any other "neutral bodies" that are making evaluations of innocence, either prior to or after execution?

Once a person is executed, the courts are out of the business of determining whether the person was innocent. Unless there is some other "neutral body" that is in the business of making these determinations after an execution, there is no "neutral body" making determinations as to whether we have executed anyone who is innocent. After execution, we have investigations regarding this by the media and other individuals/groups that you would claim are not neutral?

Posted by: Tim Holloway | Jun 27, 2010 11:49:11 AM

Where's the evidence that only condemned murderers attack or kill fellow inmates or prison workers?

What DO you tell the mother of an innocent who's about to be or was recently executed?

When inmates are executed murder cases against them are closed. So if some were innocent, murderers remain at large to kill again. How does the deterrence factor apply in these instances?

If we owe it to families of some victims to kill the killer, how do we reconcile that with the sentiments of other victims' families who've joined to publicly oppose the death penalty? Never mind the suffering of families of the condemned.

For me the issue is barbarism. On days when newspaper headlines note Texas or Ohio or Florida or some other prolific killer state is about to strap down human beings and end their lives, a sick, queasy feeling comes over me and I feel less proud to be part of a society that condones such savage rituals.


Posted by: John K | Jun 27, 2010 12:45:15 PM

Tim Holloway --

"Once a person is executed, the courts are out of the business of determining whether the person was innocent."

That is incorrect, as this very entry by Doug shows. In addition, the family or executor of the estate can bring a civil action for wrongful death.

Congress could also hold hearings on the matter, and/or state legislatures.

The undertow of your comment is that the judgment of conviction is mine to support. You have the burden of proof backward. Once the jury has spoken, and the states and federal courts have gone through their (on average) twelve years of review of every claim under the sun, the presumption is, quite justifiably, that the conviction is correct. It is not up to me to find a neutral body to undertake yet additional review, but if it were, then no, I do not regard a crusading abolitionist newspaper reporter, accountable to no one, as "neutral." There is no money to be made selling newspapers with stories titled, "Joe Schmoe, Executed Ten Years Ago, Was Indeed Guilty." There is more money to be made selling the headline, "Have We Been Executing the Innocent?"

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jun 27, 2010 1:09:18 PM

John K --

"Where's the evidence that only condemned murderers attack or kill fellow inmates or prison workers?"

I have no earthly clue, nor is it relevant, since I never claimed that ONLY condemend murderers kill fellow inmates or prison workers. Nor need I make such a claim. It is enough for the utilitarian argument on the DP that (1) the number of convicted killers we could have executed but didn't, and who then killed again, exceeds (2) the number of innocent people we have put to death. You wisely do not, and plausibly could not, claim that (2) exceeds (1).

"What DO you tell the mother of an innocent who's about to be or was recently executed?"

Unless I'm a lunatic, I don't tell anything to people who don't exist. As I was saying -- and you don't refute -- there is no generally accepted case of a single innocent person's having been executed in anything like recent times.

Now tell me this: What do you tell the mother of an innocent who was hacked to death by a killer who would have been executed long ago but for your (hypothetically) successful argument to abolish capital punishment?

And what is your answer to the two dozen studies showing that the DP deters murder? That every single one of them is wrong, but you're right?

"When inmates are executed murder cases against them are closed. So if some were innocent, murderers remain at large to kill again. How does the deterrence factor apply in these instances? "


The DP is not a PERFECT deterrent because there is no such thing as a perfect deterrent. This applies all the more so to life sentences, which are far more frequently imposed. But murder persists anyway. So do we abolish prison senteces too? What do you propose to replace them? Anger management class?

"For me the issue is barbarism."

I agree. And it would indeed be barbaric -- or something like barbaric -- to abandon a punishment that the historical, academic and anecodtal evidence overwhelmingly tells us works to keep innocent people alive.

George Washington, Abraham Linclon and Franklin Roosevelt were not barbarians. Each of them approved, and used, the death penalty. Likewise with none other than Bill Clinton. The man has his flaws to say the least, but barbarism is not one of them. Are you the moral superior of all these men? To the Framers, who explicitly accepted capital punishment? Really?

The problem here is not barbarism. The problem is moral preening and strutting by those willing to let the Jessica Lunsford's of this world pay the price for their limitless indulgence of the grotesque.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jun 27, 2010 1:53:02 PM

Bill -

Firstly, the list of studies you link to on the CJLF website does not confirm your claim that the "general deterrent effect of the DP...has...been confirmed by two dozen independently (and differently) conducted studies". In fact, many of the articles listed there indicate precisely the opposite! My understanding - although I do not claim to be an expert - is that evidence for the deterrent effect of the death penalty is weak. Nothing on the websites you link to convinces me otherwise. In any case, if capital punishment is such a great deterrent, why isn't the homicide rate in states with the death penalty significantly lower than those without? Further, why is the homicide rate so much lower in countries such as Canada, Australia, most of Europe or in fact most of the developed world, very few of which use the death penalty?

Secondly, your utilitarian argument is interesting. Certainly, it is possible to argue that even if a small number of innocent people are killed, this can be justified on the grounds that the DP would save many more lives. First, there is no evidence that this is in fact the case. To condone a system that may result in the state intentionally ending the lives of innocent citizens, you would want to have some pretty hard evidence that the overall net effect was still positive. If you had some evidence on this I would be curious to see it. Second, while many people will instinctively agree with the utilitarian stance in the context of criminal justice, would you still support a system that involved state-sanctioned murder of (say) two innocent children a year? If not, then I struggle to see how you can justify a system that may have a similar outcome.

Thirdly, you speak of the 'barbarism' of banning the death penalty. I personally believe that all life is sacred, even those of criminals. The taking of life, whether by a criminal or by the state, is always barbaric. We rightly condemn the criminal; I don't believe that someone's actions can ever justify the state violating the sanctity of their life through a cold, calculated killing. I accept that these stem from our respective personal beliefs, however, and I respect your right to disagree.

Finally, you say that there is no evidence of anybody being incorrectly executed. As another poster said, it's not clear what would count as an 'independent' or 'neutral' investigation such that you would accept the veracity of its findings. Indeed, one of the key problems with the death penalty system is that it is very difficult to organise the resources, institutional support and so on to conduct thorough investigations. The recently well-publicised case of Cameron Todd Willingham strongly suggests that at least one innocent person has been executed.

I hope that you will take these comments in the spirit they were intended. Ultimately we both want the same thing - to protect the innocent and to punish criminals.

Posted by: Tim Frederick | Jun 28, 2010 4:15:27 AM

Tim Fredrick --

On this site and on Crime & Consequences, I have answered the questions you pose. I will just say quickly for now, reserving the right to come back to this, that the countries with the lowest murder rates do indeed, for the most part, have the death penalty. Excluding as too small the following four low-murder rate countries -- Hong Kong (has the DP), Iceland (doesn't), Lichtenstein (doesn't) and Singapore (does) -- four of the five lowest murder rate countries in the world have, and use, the death penalty: Japan, Brunei, Lebanon and Oman. The fifth lowest murder rate country, Algeria, does not have the DP. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate.

The DP prevails in the bulk of Africa, the Mideast, the Orient and the Subcontinent, plus North America. The idea that only "backward" countries and peoples use it is incorrect and arguably racist. The idea that the countries with the very lowest murder rates don't use it is just wrong.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jun 28, 2010 9:28:14 AM

I think the discussion on whether the death penalty has resulted in the execution of an innocent person misses the point. Here is how I think the case should be resolved:

(1) Presuming that this hearing is occurring before the guilt phase of the trial (unclear from the article), this case is not ripe. If the defendant is found not guilty, he would have no standing to challenge the death penalty, since he couldn't be subject to it. At the very least, this should be resolved post-trial, but pre-sentencing, not pre-trial.

(2) If he is found guilty, the issue is the unconstitutionality of the death penalty as applied to him, not facial unconstitutionality. If he committed the crime, he cannot legitimately claim that he is being subject to cruel and unusual punishment because an innocent person is being executed. That's like saying we can't have imprisonment because some innocent people have been falsely imprisoned. (I know that death is final, but how, pray tell, can wrongful imprisonment NOT be cruel and unusual?)

Whether an innocent person has been executed or not is a red herring--the issue is whether THIS person is innocent and will be executed.

Posted by: Res ipsa | Jun 28, 2010 9:31:58 AM

Bill Otis, you quoted me and stated:

Tim Holloway --

"'Once a person is executed, the courts are out of the business of determining whether the person was innocent.'

That is incorrect, as this very entry by Doug shows. In addition, the family or executor of the estate can bring a civil action for wrongful death.
Congress could also hold hearings on the matter, and/or state legislatures."

With regard to Doug's entry about this hearing in Texas, as should be apparent, it seems to be the first of its kind. You have suggested and/or indicated having this hearing is completely wrong and it should not go forward. This is hardly the type of "neutral body" that has existed to ensure that no wrongful convictions have occurred in the past 40 years (the time period that you referenced).

Also, with the idea that a civil suit could be brought. Under § 1983, these are very difficult suits even if you can prove the person is innocent . . . much more is required to impose liability on any individual or entity. The state itself is immune and is not "a person" subject to § 1983. The state could kill you knowing you were innocent, laugh about it and still not be liable.

With basic state tort law, proof of "actual innocence" alone again is insufficient and actually unnecessary to impose liability on any individual in most, if not all, cases. As I am sure you know, there must usually be an intentional tort or a negligence theory that involves an imposed duty. The question of actual innocence is not actually decided under these theories in most, if not all, cases.

Also, when has Congress or any state legislaive body ever considered whether we have executed an innocent person in the last 40 years?

Finally, the undertow of my comment was NOT that you have the burden of proving any individual conviction is valid. My comment was based on your assertion that there has been no finding over the last 40 years that we have ever executed anyone who did not do it. This exact question does not frame the issues in a tort action or a 1983 action. In fact, liability could be imposed in those actions even if the defendant was guilty. Likewise, liability is not based on whether someone was executed when they were innocence. To place my comment into context, I quote you:

"Over the last 40 years or so, there has been no finding by anything approaching a neutral body -- a court or anything else -- that we have executed ANYONE who didn't do it."

Posted by: Tim Holloway | Jun 28, 2010 12:14:52 PM

Bill -

Fair enough - as I said, I'm not an expert on this topic. I would be interested to read about how the studies mentioned support your claim, however - please do provide a link.

Although it is a minor point, I would like respond to your comment regarding the correlation between countries and homicide rates and the death penalty:

1. I'm sure you wouldn't disagree that there are a huge range of factors that impact homicide rates apart from the availability of the death penalty. There are also all sorts of problems with comparing homicide data from different countries (not least that a much higher proportion of homicides will go unreported in less-developed countries than in well developed countries).

2. This can be seen from the fact that, on the data you cite, three of the six countries with the highest murder rates *do* have the death penalty.

3. In my post, I was comparing countries who are culturally similar to the US (though admittedly I didn't make this clear). I don't think comparing the homicide rate of the US to that of countries like Algeria or Oman - or Jamaica or Guatemala for that matter - is particularly helpful, because there are so many other factors involved.

4. Of 'Western' countries like the United States, those without the death penalty have a homicide rate less half that of the US.

In short, these (admittedly dodgy) international comparisons do not support the death penalty as a deterrent to homicide.

Posted by: Tim Frederick | Jun 28, 2010 12:16:19 PM

Res ipsa --

Agreed. The reason I have addressed the issue Judge Fine plans to take up is that, indeed, he plans to take it up. But it is certainly premature, as you note, and is also irrelevant absent a showing that THIS PARTICULAR defendant is arguably innocent. Fine would apparently zap the death penalty for Timmy McVeigh, whose guilt is not questioned by any sane person, because someone years before in an unrelated case was executed though (in Fine's prejudged opinion) innocent.

As you correctly say, it makes no sense.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jun 28, 2010 12:52:02 PM

This defendant wants a review of the possibility of innocence in other prisoners, not in himself. That gives him no personal standing.

By the same logic, deterrence is an unlawful purpose of the death penalty. The person is dead and full incapacitated, not deterred. To deter others would be unjust aim of killing an unrelated prisoner. It would violate his procedural due process right to a fair trial. We are putting you to death to scare speculative, future murderers not know to us.

Advocates should stop using this weak and unlawful, unconstitutional argument. Deterrence is for the malfeasor's future behavior and that of others. Lethal incapacitation makes deterrence of the defendant impossible and unnecessary.

I know the lawyers will continue to ignore me. However, I want credit for balance and fairness. When an argument for the death penalty does not work, I have no hesitation to point out that weakness. I think I am the only one here who does that. Everyone else is a partisan advocate for some political agenda. However, I carry a responsibility to be mature as ambassador from earth to this lawyer Twilight Zone.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 28, 2010 3:05:31 PM

I believe that Albert Dyer, People v. Dyer , 11 Cal.2d 317, was wrongly hung for the horrendous murder of three little girls. I also believe that possibly left Fred Stroble, People v. Stroble , 36 Cal.2d 615, free to kill again.

Dyer would not be hung or executed today and with what we know about false confessions now, particularly when the accused has such a low IQ. It was easy to manipulate him and his wife, his alibi, was taken into custody as a material witness and not allowed to testify. He probably thought he was going to get probation if he confessed and would be hung if he did not stick to it. In addition, it was common practice to try to convince a defendant he did it and forgot, like what was attempted with Leslie Dillon, who was almost convinced he actually murdered Elizabeth Short (the Black Dahlia murder). I have some evidence of who a logical suspect would be in the Black Dahlia murder, but the LAPD would not want to go there, ever. Also, Fred Stroble killed poor little 6-year-old Linda Joyce Glucoft like he killed before and was very comfortable and practiced in doing so.

Caution, the facts in all three cases are stomach churning, possibly the worst you'll ever read.

Posted by: George | Jun 28, 2010 4:14:18 PM

George --

Yes, there were probably innocent people executed -- before WWII. That doesn't tell us a whole lot about life in the post-Gregg world, even assuming, as you do, that Dyer himself was innocent despite his confession.

SC --

I will give you credit for calling them as you see them. I'll also give you credit for saying unpopular but true things. The problem is that you almost immediately get into these visceral and blanket condemnations of lawyers, no matter what the topic, so I strongly suspect most readers just scroll you. This is not doing you any good.

Tim Holloway --

Let's try to cut through the procedural thicket and get to the question people are actually interested in: Where is the authoritative finding by ANYONE who hasn't already made up his mind about the death penalty that Mr. X (and you get to choose who Mr. X is) was executed in the last 40 years but was factually innocent?

We heard a lot about this in the leading executed-but-innocent case of the last generation, Roger Keith Coleman. The abolitionist side was even more worked up and certain about him that it is about Willingham. Only it turned out to be a hoax. Every outraged abolitionist claim about Coleman's innocence was scientifically (i.e., through DNA) shown to be fake.

Tim Fredrick --

Your most recent (and correct) statement that cultural, historic and demographic variations between and among different systems that have capital punishment (or that bar it) make murder-rate comparisons tricky at best, if not useless. But that same fact drastically undermines your original point that states without the DP have lower murder rates that those that do.

Is New Jersey like Utah? Is Wisconsin like Louisiana? Is Vermont like California? Is New York like South Dakota?

That is the reason I never use cross-state comparisons. The comparison I do use is the United States as a whole over its non-DP period (1965-1980, in which the murder rate doubled) vs. the United States as a whole in its resumption of DP period (roughly 1990-2005, in which the murder rate fell by about 40%).

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jun 28, 2010 5:56:19 PM

Mr. Otis: Calling for a bit more precision. I condemn the hierarchy of the lawyer profession, and the criticism can only be addressed by them. That is about 15,000 of the 1.3 million lawyers in the USA.

I see the rule of law as an essential utility product. Shut it off and you have Fallujah and a culture as crippled as one without electricity.

If the public is oppressed by this hierarchy, the lawyer is doubly so, and the ordinary judge is triply so. So I am the best friend of the lawyer and of the judge.

There are 500,000 too many because that serves the interest of this hierarchy. Once better controlled, the salary of the lawyer will be double what it is, his productivity quadrupled as the Medieval atavism is abandoned, and the public esteem will be ten times more and fully deserved.

One reason change is so slow is that one must wait for elites to die of natural causes. With modern medication, today's lawyer hierarchy can survive and stay active into their 90's. Can we wait 50 years for their natural deaths, or should we help them leave this earth sooner?

So my feeling about lawyers is the opposite of what you perceive. Your perception is correct about my feeling about the lawyer hierarchy, about 15,000 people. This is not a conspiracy theory. It is far more challenging. One may arrest a bunch of conspirators and end the crime.

This a criminal cult enterprise indoctrination theory. You have to change everything they control at the same time, government, law education, election laws, lawyer discipline. Nearly impossible to do short of a threat to our national existence, as from a terrorist nuclear attack. The problem, once you unleash payback for treason, it is unknown if that rare flower of Athens, the constitution, gets crushed in tank tracks. That would be unforgivable of this elite.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 28, 2010 6:22:30 PM

What does Gregg have to do with it? Nothing. Indeed, after a refusal to talk to the police and then a one word answer of "Yes" is all it takes to get a confession nowadays.

Posted by: George | Jun 29, 2010 1:55:38 AM

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