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February 15, 2018

Will Florida school shooting mass murderer thwart efforts to raise age for limit on application of the death penalty?

As noted in this post last week, the ABA House of Delegates earlier this month asked for all death penalty jurisdictions to ban capital punishment for any offender who committed their crime at the age of 21 or younger.  But, as the title of this post wonders, the push for raising the age on limits on the death penalty could be impacted by the horrible crimes committed yesterday in Florida.  This article, "Suspect in Florida shooting could face death penalty for 17 counts of premeditated murder," provide these basics:

Nikolas Cruz, the suspect in the shooting at a Florida high school on Wednesday, could face the death penalty after being charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

Sheriffs in Broward County posted custody records online Thursday, the morning after they arrested Cruz. They listed 17 separate counts of premeditated murder, matching the latest casualty figures from officials.

Cruz, 19, will stand trial as an adult. In Florida, a judge can impose the death penalty if a sentencing jury unanimously recommends it.

I am not at all surprised that Cruz may soon be facing the death penalty, and I will not be at all surprised if supports of the death penalty will make Cruz a poster-child example of why the age for death penalty eligibility ought not be raised.

A few prior related posts:

February 15, 2018 at 11:46 AM | Permalink


Speaking of the death penalty, ever Congressman who sucks at the teat of the NRA (and the lists are being posted) and who tweets his or her "thoughts and prayers" to the parents of those kids massacred in Florida by the nutjob with the AR 15 is complicit to murder.

Posted by: anon14 | Feb 15, 2018 12:48:05 PM

anon14, I concur.

Posted by: Dave from Texas | Feb 15, 2018 12:49:29 PM

As of 2016, Politico reported the following with respect to NRA donations to Congressmen. I'm sure there are Democrats who "such at the teat" of the NRA, but I don't see them listed here.

Paul Ryan $171,977 Republican Wisconsin, District 1 18
Ryan Zinke $79,068 Republican Montana, At-Large District 2
Martha McSally $77,063 Republican Arizona, District 2 2
Todd Young $73,785 Republican Indiana, District 9 6
Joe Heck $68,520 Republican Nevada, District 3 6
Mia Love $63,350 Republican Utah, District 4 2
Kevin McCarthy $42,000 Republican California, District 23 10
Will Hurd $35,850 Republican Texas, District 23 2
Kevin Yoder $34,050 Republican Kansas, District 3 6
Bruce Poliquin $32,400 Republican Maine, District 2 2
Mike Coffman $30,843 Republican Colorado, District 6 8
Ken Calvert $30,466 Republican California, District 42 24
Ed Royce $29,100 Republican California, District 39 24
Barbara Comstock $28,407 Republican Virginia, District 10 2
Scott Tipton $25,550 Republican Colorado, District 3 6

Posted by: Paul from Iowa | Feb 15, 2018 12:53:52 PM

Paul Ryan loves to send his "thoughts and prayers." As for prayers, I think God Almighty is crying right now. Do we not understand that God helps those who help themselves? Paul Ryan is like a vacuum cleaner, sucking out $171,977 from the NRA.
He can stick his "thoughts and prayers" up his sanctimonious but. He and the others listed above by Paul from Iowa are indeed complicit in murder.

Posted by: Emily | Feb 15, 2018 12:57:10 PM

Here's a more current article from Politico bringing the NRA donation list up to 2017:

POLITICO also analyzed gun lobbyist contributions from 1990 to 2017 to better understand what these contributions look like over the span of a politician’s career. We totaled contributions spanning nearly three decades and found Republicans consistently benefited; whereas, Democrats did not. Of the 27 representatives who each received more than $100,000 since 1990, all were Republican. However, Rep. Collin Peterson, a Democrat who has represented Minnesota’s 7th District for 26 years, is close to making the list at $98,500.
Representatives who received more than $100,000 from gun rights groups:

Name Amount Party District Years in office
Paul Ryan $336,597 Republican Wisconsin, District 1 18
John Boehner $231,265 Republican Ohio, District 8 24
Don Young $195,272 Republican Alaska, At-Large District 44
John Thune $181,215 Republican South Dakota, At-large District 18
Pat Toomey $167,051 Republican Pennsylvania, District 15 12
Ken Calvert $144,466 Republican California, District 42 24
Roy Blunt $143,543 Republican Missouri, District 7 20
Denny Rehberg $138,959 Republican Montana, At-large District 12
Steve Pearce $129,250 Republican New Mexico, District 2 6
Saxby Chambliss $128,950 Republican Georgia, District 8 12
George Allen $127,556 Republican Virginia, District 7 8
Richard Burr $124,550 Republican North Carolina, District 5 22
Richard Pombo $122,694 Republican California, District 11 14
Pete Sessions $121,776 Republican Texas, District 32 14
Jim Inhofe $121,100 Republican Oklahoma, District 1 31
John Kline $119,887 Republican Minnesota, District 2 14
Rick Santorum $115,942 Republican Pennsylvania, District 18 16
John Doolittle $111,193 Republican California, District 4 16
Ed Royce $111,120 Republican California, District 39 24
Dean Heller $108,515 Republican District 2 4
Ron Paul $108,453 Republican Texas, 14 and 22 12
Michele Bachmann $108,218 Republican Minnesota, District 6 4
Rob Portman $107,727 Republican Ohio, District 2 20
Bob Goodlatte $104,900 Republican Virginia, District 6 24
Martha McSally $104,445 Republican Arizona, District 2 2
Mike Coffman $101,693 Republican Colorado, District 6 8
Bob Barr $101,473 Republican Georgia, District 7 8
Collin Peterson $98,500 Democrat Minnesota, District 7 26

Source: Center for Responsive Politics

Correction: An earlier version of this story said Zinke received $74,000 in the 2016 election cycle, but he actually received $79,000.

Posted by: Peter | Feb 15, 2018 1:00:28 PM

My compliments, Prof. Berman. Another pro-victim post, and only few posts after the previous one.

Posted by: David Behar | Feb 15, 2018 1:13:28 PM

I find it unseemly to exploit this human tragedy for tawdry and cheap political attack point making. The above commentators have no humanity.

Posted by: David Behar | Feb 15, 2018 1:16:24 PM

"unseemly to exploit this human tragedy" Same, sad refrain from NRA apologists.

Posted by: Debra | Feb 15, 2018 2:05:03 PM

Deb: You need to disclose the amount you were paid by Russian agents to advocate for the disarming of patriotic Americans.

Posted by: David Behar | Feb 15, 2018 3:15:17 PM

Many Republicans and every NRA nut always say "unseemly to exploit this human tragedy" and "now is not the time to talk of gun control" whenever there is a school shooting. Since the average school shooting in the US is 1 every 2.5 days, that means there will never be a good time.

Posted by: Sarah | Feb 15, 2018 3:55:09 PM

Behar, you need to disclose your list of medications and hallucinogens.

Posted by: Debra | Feb 15, 2018 4:15:53 PM

Oh, here we go.


Posted by: David Behar | Feb 15, 2018 4:24:56 PM

Sarah. Morally reprehensible. The bodies are not even fully cold.

Posted by: David Behar | Feb 15, 2018 4:25:46 PM

Debra: You need to disclose if you are a feminist.

Posted by: David Behar | Feb 15, 2018 4:58:17 PM

Behar, you need to disclose how you keep escaping from the straightjacket.

Posted by: Debra | Feb 15, 2018 5:02:50 PM

"Trump’s tweet [this morning] failed to acknowledge the role that Florida’s lax gun laws played in the shooting. Barring institutionalization, it’s extremely difficult to keep someone with a history of mental illness from buying a gun in Florida. The accused killer legally purchased the AR-15-style rifle used in the slaughter, his family’s attorney said. The president also ignored the fact that he actually made it easier for people with mental health issues to buy guns by revoking an Obama-era gun regulation last year."

Posted by: Sam the prosecutor | Feb 15, 2018 5:03:48 PM

Debra: you need to disclose if you are a feminist. Answer the question.

Posted by: David Behar | Feb 15, 2018 7:08:00 PM

The lawyer protected mass murderer has confessed to the police he did it. We should have a trial tomorrow morning, where his statement can be verified as his. In the afternoon, give him the needle. The rest is lawyer busllshit bill padding.

Posted by: David Behar | Feb 15, 2018 7:45:22 PM

The number of cases where teens involved in these shootings are deluded in some fashion alone makes this a lousy reason to use this to leave the death penalty as is. Killing one more person with a needle also is not going to make us safer here or anything. OTOH, I guess, if the firing squad makes a comeback, there will be some irony there.

Posted by: Joe | Feb 15, 2018 8:58:51 PM

American nut-job murderers of kids are the most efficient and prolific in history--Congrats to the NRA and its Congressmen whores for this remarkable achievement.

Posted by: anon2 | Feb 15, 2018 10:37:23 PM

"As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods,
They kill us for their sport."

King Lear, Act IV, Scene 1

Posted by: anon2 | Feb 15, 2018 10:47:12 PM

Joe. Do you have anything other than really stupid and uninformed ipse dixits to contribute? Try to make a point of fact or of logic.

Posted by: David Behar | Feb 15, 2018 11:53:02 PM

Anon2. Like calm down. You seem a little upset. President Trump will be handling your concerns.

Posted by: David Behar | Feb 15, 2018 11:54:36 PM

"shall not be infringed"

Posted by: federalist | Feb 16, 2018 7:36:22 AM

Federalist says "shall not be infringed" as if that's the answer. Does Federalist truly believe that the Second Amendment should be the only one that is unrestricted and absolute? That a 19 year old nut job hearing voices should be perfectly free to buy a weapon of war--that is able to murder 17 high schoolers in four minutes? Because his right to do so "shall not be infringed."? Even Saint Scalia notes to the contrary in Heller. where he states that we have a right to have a firearm in our own home for self-defense, but observes that “the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.”

Protecting the right to keep and bear arms is not the same as forbidding all regulations on that right. We can protect that right and still require background checks, permits, and training. We can still regulate when, where, and what kinds of guns are allowed. In some cases, we can regulate who can obtain guns, imposing restrictions on, for instance, felons, the mentally ill, and known terrorists. We can ban firearms such as military-style assault weapons that (like child pornography) plainly cause far more harm than they add in value. We can require those who are negligent with their weapons (as we do those who are negligent with their words in defamation cases) to be held liable for the harm they inflict on others. We can do all of these things; we just don’t. There might be policy reasons to debate the pros and cons of specific regulations, but there’s no reason to assume that there is a constitutional problem.

As Scalia said in Heller: The e Second Amendment, he stated, does not protect “the right of citizens to carry arms for any sort of confrontation, just as we do not read the First Amendment to protect the right of citizens to speak for any purpose.” He further noted that nothing in the court’s decision “should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

Republicans, do you not love your children? For God's sake, do something.

Posted by: anon2 | Feb 16, 2018 9:26:36 AM

From a news report:

"Two minutes after President Donald Trump tweeted his “prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting,” a student who identified herself as Nikki responded, “why was a student able to terrorize my school mr president.”

Soon after, another student joined in.

“I don’t want your condolences you fucking price [sic] of shit, my friends and teachers were shot. Multiple of my fellow classmates are dead. Do something instead of sending prayers,” she wrote. “Prayers won’t fix this. But Gun control will prevent it from happening again.” (She would later delete the tweet, alter her Twitter handle and apologize for her “profanity … but not my anger.” Her message, however, had already been retweeted more than 100,000 times.)

Among adults, the national conversation surrounding gun control has long been muddied by money and power ― lobbies, influence and control. Politicians usually respond to these mass killings with expressions of regret and not much more.

But in the hours since the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High, the people talking the most sense about guns are the teens who just survived a school shooting, and they have taken hold of the conversation. Simultaneously enabled and empowered by technology ― and no longer restricted by media gatekeepers ― they sent out messages that swirled throughout the country. And by and large, those messages were not filled with thoughts and prayers. They were a clear call for gun control."

Posted by: Sam the prosecutor | Feb 16, 2018 12:24:15 PM


Posted by: Claudio Giusti | Feb 16, 2018 3:14:26 PM

anon, yes, the mentally ill can be barred from having guns, but then you have lunatics who show up at some guy's house to take his guns because he takes Prozac--in other words, there needs to be due process to take away a right guaranteed by the Constitution

an armed society also is a bulwark against tyranny, and the more I hear leftist crap from the 'rat party, the more I believe in the right to keep and bear arms

from all appearances, Nikolas Cruz should not have been allowed to possess firearms

Posted by: federalist | Feb 16, 2018 6:48:53 PM

Changing the subject a bit. FBI needs to fire a bunch of people, that didnt do their jobs.

In a civilian job, your but would still be rolling down the road.

Be ause its Federal, they get to issue sorry report and thus far, I have nit heard about anyone getting torched.

Dir if the location, Managers above the dept that received the info and the person(s) that sat on this info.

Posted by: MidWestGuy | Feb 16, 2018 7:22:09 PM

Federalist is right, "an armed society also is a bulwark against tyranny, and here's a news report from the Onion that confirms Federalist's point of view by carrying the principle a small step further:

FAIRFAX, VA—In the wake of Monday’s tragic Nevada school shooting in which a 12-year-old student killed a teacher and wounded two classmates, representatives from the National Rifle Association pushed for all teachers around the country to keep a loaded gun pointed at their classes throughout the school day. “The only way to ensure safety in our schools is to make sure teachers hold fully loaded firearms at students from the moment they walk into the classroom until the moment they leave,” said NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, explaining that educators should, at the very least, point one 9mm semiautomatic pistol at the class while also keeping a concealed .357 magnum revolver and several spare cartridges of ammo nearby at all times. “If teachers need to write on the board or turn the page of a textbook, they should always use their free hand while keeping the gun at face level of all students and holding one finger firmly on the trigger. Frankly, this is just common sense if we want to prevent these tragedies like Nevada from happening again in the future.” LaPierre added that for maximum security, teachers should give all lessons from underneath their desks while blindly firing a semiautomatic M4 carbine assault rifle in all directions.

Posted by: Sam the prosecutor | Feb 16, 2018 7:41:23 PM

The shooter was responding to voices, and killed 17 people.

You are in prison and are offered a choice for cellmate. A Mafia assassin with 100 murder victims or this shooter. In terms of your personal safety, whom do you prefer?

So is mental illness a mitigating factor or an aggravating factor?

He would need to be fast tracked to the death penalty if lawyers were not ruining criminal sentencing.

The best for everyone is for him to be placed in population, so the Italian death penalty may take place. It would be classified as a suicide, but it would close the matter in hours, instead of in painful decades, as the lawyer tax sucking parasites get their last dime out of this case.

Posted by: David Behar | Feb 17, 2018 2:26:24 AM

Ah, Sam the Prosecutor--I guess you're cool with LEOs only having the ability to defend themselves against criminals.

Posted by: federalist | Feb 17, 2018 12:42:48 PM

And all you 'rats in here---nice party you've got:


Not a single Dom will denounce this.

Posted by: federalist | Feb 17, 2018 1:12:40 PM

So the 2A doesn't put forth some absolutist rule and due process is good? Sure.

Nationally, there is a general support for a right to keep and bear arms, including in many areas where Democrats have some strong support. Thus, many Democrats speak about their own ownership of weapons while supporting certain regulations, which everyone here appears to accept are allowed to some degree. So, we are talking about certain regulations.

Which to really belabor the point everyone here [some minority supports broad gun control above and beyond this, but just don't have the numbers to matter] seems to support, it is just a matter of what ones and some distaste for some labeling (the whole "tyranny" argument).

Posted by: Joe | Feb 17, 2018 2:53:53 PM

To answer Doug's original question -- I should hope so. Someone like Nicholas Cruz ought to be executed shortly after trial.

Posted by: William Jockusch | Feb 17, 2018 9:04:43 PM

Whatever Trump Is Hiding Is Hurting All of Us Now

Thomas L. Friedman FEB. 18, 2018
Our democracy is in serious danger.
President Trump is either totally compromised by the Russians or is a towering fool, or both, but either way he has shown himself unwilling or unable to defend America against a Russian campaign to divide and undermine our democracy.
That is, either Trump’s real estate empire has taken large amounts of money from shady oligarchs linked to the Kremlin — so much that they literally own him; or rumors are true that he engaged in sexual misbehavior while he was in Moscow running the Miss Universe contest, which Russian intelligence has on tape and he doesn’t want released; or Trump actually believes Russian President Vladimir Putin when he says he is innocent of intervening in our elections — over the explicit findings of Trump’s own C.I.A., N.S.A. and F.B.I. chiefs.
In sum, Trump is either hiding something so threatening to himself, or he’s criminally incompetent to be commander in chief. It is impossible yet to say which explanation for his behavior is true, but it seems highly likely that one of these scenarios explains Trump’s refusal to respond to Russia’s direct attack on our system — a quiescence that is simply unprecedented for any U.S. president in history. Russia is not our friend. It has acted in a hostile manner. And Trump keeps ignoring it all.
Up to now, Trump has been flouting the norms of the presidency. Now Trump’s behavior amounts to a refusal to carry out his oath of office — to protect and defend the Constitution. Here’s an imperfect but close analogy: It’s as if George W. Bush had said after 9/11: “No big deal. I am going golfing over the weekend in Florida and blogging about how it’s all the Democrats’ fault — no need to hold a National Security Council meeting.”
At a time when the special prosecutor Robert Mueller — leveraging several years of intelligence gathering by the F.B.I., C.I.A and N.S.A. — has brought indictments against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian groups — all linked in some way to the Kremlin — for interfering with the 2016 U.S. elections, America needs a president who will lead our nation’s defense against this attack on the integrity of our electoral democracy.
What would that look like? He would educate the public on the scale of the problem; he would bring together all the stakeholders — state and local election authorities, the federal government, both parties and all the owners of social networks that the Russians used to carry out their interference — to mount an effective defense; and he would bring together our intelligence and military experts to mount an effective offense against Putin — the best defense of all.
What we have instead is a president vulgarly tweeting that the Russians are “laughing their asses off in Moscow” for how we’ve been investigating their interventions — and exploiting the terrible school shooting in Florida — and the failure of the F.B.I. to properly forward to its Miami field office a tip on the killer — to throw the entire F.B.I. under the bus and create a new excuse to shut down the Mueller investigation.
Think for a moment how demented was Trump’s Saturday night tweet: “Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign — there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”
To the contrary. Our F.B.I., C.I.A. and N.S.A., working with the special counsel, have done us amazingly proud. They’ve uncovered a Russian program to divide Americans and tilt our last election toward Trump — i.e., to undermine the very core of our democracy — and Trump is telling them to get back to important things like tracking would-be school shooters. Yes, the F.B.I. made a mistake in Florida. But it acted heroically on Russia. What is more basic than protecting American democracy?
It is so obvious what Trump is up to: Again, he is either a total sucker for Putin or, more likely, he is hiding something that he knows the Russians have on him, and he knows that the longer Mueller’s investigation goes on, the more likely he will be to find and expose it.
Donald, if you are so innocent, why do you go to such extraordinary lengths to try to shut Mueller down? And if you are really the president — not still head of the Trump Organization, who moonlights as president, which is how you so often behave — why don’t you actually lead — lead not only a proper cyberdefense of our elections, but also an offense against Putin.
Putin used cyberwarfare to poison American politics, to spread fake news, to help elect a chaos candidate, all in order to weaken our democracy. We should be using our cyber-capabilities to spread the truth about Putin —just how much money he has stolen, just how many lies he has spread, just how many rivals he has jailed or made disappear — all to weaken his autocracy. That is what a real president would be doing right now.
My guess is what Trump is hiding has to do with money. It’s something about his financial ties to business elites tied to the Kremlin. They may own a big stake in him. Who can forget that quote from his son Donald Trump, Jr. from back in 2008: “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross section of a lot of our assets.” They may own our president.
But whatever it is, Trump is either trying so hard to hide it or is so naïve about Russia that he is ready to not only resist mounting a proper defense of our democracy, he’s actually ready to undermine some of our most important institutions, the F.B.I. and Justice Department, to keep his compromised status hidden.
That must not be tolerated. This is code red. The biggest threat to the integrity of our democracy today is in the Oval Office.

Posted by: anon2 | Feb 18, 2018 8:11:25 PM

There is general acceptance from all those who knew Cruz and have spoke publically about him that he has significant mental impairments - the signals of which were ignored by many, many, people. When those in authority turn a blind eye, wait for tragedy to happen and refuse to take responsibility, then we know the State is failing in its duty of care to the community. It is NOT the role of the State to kill the mentally ill (and it's debatable to what degree "punishment" is an appropriate response). It IS the role of the State to take ALL measures to care for victims of mental illness (eg Cruz) and also to MINIMIZE the risks of harm to the community when such cases slip the net (ie. GUN CONTROL!). The days of the gung ho cowboy and the influence of the Rifle Association should be long dead.

Posted by: peter | Feb 19, 2018 5:29:09 AM

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