« Latest USSC data on retroactivity of crack guidelines reduced by FSA | Main | Still more stories of wrongful federal gun convictions and sentences from North Carolina »

December 25, 2012

Appreciating blessings — and the limits of laws — this (too violent) holiday season

In the wake of the Newtown massacre, and especially now as I am reading about another tragic shooting involving the violent deaths of innocents in upstate New York (headlines and links below), I have two gut reactions: I am hugging and appreciating my loved ones even that much more (if that is possible), and I am becoming even less sanguine (if that is possible) about the ability of our justice system to reduce dramatically the chances of a mad-man inflicting violence upon others if that is his core intent.  Here are links to various reports on the latest sad story of needless killing by a suicidal kook:

At the heart of this latest sad story seems to be (a lot) more family drama and killing before a mad-man kills innocents and then himself.  In this case, the William Spengler had a notable criminal past involving the beating death of his elderly grandmother, which led to a plea to manslaughter over 30 years ago (old newspaper accounts here).  But Spengler served over 17 years in prison on this charge and then apparently was successful on parole for another decade.   Perhaps aided by his mother's love (and despite apparently hating his sister), Spengler seemed to have left his criminal past in the past.  And, of course, as a violent ex-con with a felony record, he was criminally prohibited by both New York law and federal law from ever possessing any kind of gun or any kind of ammunition.

But, perhaps as a result of his mother's death a couple months ago, Spengler this week apparently just snapped: after writing a long note which said that he liked killing people, Spengler apparently killed his sister, torched his neighborhood, gunned down firefighters responding to the blaze, and then finally killed himself.  And this all took place despite "the law" seeming to do all it could: Spengler served a lengthy prison term for (accidentally?) killing his grandmother and was watched on parole for long time thereafter; both state and federal law made is a serious crime for him to possess any weapons.  And yet, despite the law's reasonable efforts, three more innocent persons and the mad-man are dead this holiday week.  A sad (and perhaps just legally unpreventable) human tragedy.

December 25, 2012 at 05:19 PM | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Appreciating blessings — and the limits of laws — this (too violent) holiday season:


If Spengler had been deceased, then innocent people would not be. He killed himself anyway. He should have been executed after killing his grandmother, but ideally before age 18. He loved to kill, he said. He may have killed many others.

I feel more hopeful about the Rule of Law than Prof. Berman. I come from another intellectual tradition and have ordinary common sense about crime. I am an utilitarian to the extreme, but aware of the limits of this philosophy. I am an atheist to the extreme, who appreciates the power of religion to reduce crime. I am an empiricist, who appreciates the power of human emotion. I am the ambassador from earth to the lawyer Twilight Zone, upside down world.

1) Let other sources of authority function. Stop trying to destroy the patriarchal family, school discipline, church. What the lawyer has done to these institutions is irresponsible, unforgivable, and fully justifies violence against the profession.

2) Stop your criminal methodologies from the Inquisition. What you lawyers do has great value, the law being an essential utility product. You can make a better living without stealing. The profession will have to shrink to about half the current number, but salaries would shoot up.

3) Acknowledge, you will never end crime without ending the person. Bring back status crime, the status of being a repeat violent offender. Crank up the executions to 10,000 a year. You will still be 7000 victims behind the murderers. Each execution will prevent 1000's of future crimes. Fund research into the genetics of criminality, and into prenatal testing, so that all criminals may be aborted because of their devastating birth defect. The life of a chronic offender is worth zero, except as a vehicle for the $multi-billion appellate advocacy business. Criminalize rent seeking.

4) If you want to cut crime, ban alcohol, instead of legalizing marijuana. However, do not ban any substance until 2/3 of the public support the ban.

5) Legalize corporal punishment so that cheap punishment can be meted out without legal procedure, to re-establish the authority of rules.

6) Exclude the lawyer from all benches, all legislative seats, and policy positions until they end their cult way of life. When they become fully empirical, remove all traces of the supernatural, all traces of church doctrine, all indoctrination from the education and professional responsibility, then they may return to participate in our political life.

7) End all self-dealt tort immunity. Although the criminal law fully qualifies for strict liability, its level of current failure would shut it down in days if strict liability were allowed. Instead, allow full liability with exemplary damages for deviations from professional standards. Such a standard already exists in full operation, in the residential neighborhoods where lawyers live, like mine. There is so little crime in those, despite proximity to the worst slums. Police response time is 2.5 minutes. Three college educated police show up to a robbery or home invasion. They come blasting. The death penalty is always at the scene, usually of a misinformed black kid. No excessive force litigation where the lawyer lives. Crush the plaintiff bar protecting the black criminal.

8) Make black lists of the friends of criminals. Then all product and service providers shun them, until they die or change.

9) Test all future legislation in small jurisdictions before enactment in any larger jurisdiction. Prove they work, and that their unintended consequences, such as royally funding the Taliban in the case of drug laws, are tolerable.

10) Restart mandatory sentencing guidelines, because judges owe their jobs to the criminals, and not to the victims. They do not want them scared. First impeach the entire Supreme Court as a warning to not touch them again. That is easier than passing a constitutional amendment.

The lawyer is a fish in a sewer, not even aware of the air, light and land above. I am reaching out an arm to lift him out.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 25, 2012 6:01:04 PM

Do authorities know Suppie is a runaway from the psychiatric ward?

Posted by: Claudio GiustiI | Dec 26, 2012 5:25:09 AM

Claudio: Remember Galileo? And his assistant, burned at the stake for heresy? Remember how the balls of two weights landed at the same time, rebutting Aristotle? Remember how Spengler killed his grandmother and likely many others?

Similar stupidity and denial of the self evident. Remember the Inquisition? It's back. In America. Just much slicker and more intelligent.

You choose the life of Spengler over that of his victims. These murders had the foreseeability of planetary orbits. You are an irresponsible advocate of the criminal. At least the lawyers here are making $billions off appellate advocacy, really off stealing from the taxpayer. You have no excuse.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 26, 2012 6:52:14 AM

Suppie, you are not Galileo, and He was NOT burned at stake. Take a breath and read a good book.

Posted by: Claudio GiustiI | Dec 26, 2012 12:51:34 PM

It is clear from American, Australian, and UK history, that
less than 100 years ago, Spengler would have been hanged for
murdering his grandmother, had he done so at that time in any
such English-speaking domain.

Manslaughter was not intended as a charge for deliberate murder,
but for reckless or negligent acts resulting in death.

Pleading guilty should never exempt a violent killer from his due
punishment (execution).

[These sentiments were once unremarkable and far from reactionary,
whilst we still valued innocent life enough to punish those who destroyed it.]

Posted by: Adamakis | Dec 26, 2012 3:56:23 PM

Claudio: Galileo had the protection of big business with soldiers. His assistant did not, and he went to the stake. That would be me, an ordinary heretic if the vile feminist lawyer had her way. I am pointing to a racket by history's biggest criminal syndicate. For example, the Church Inquisition never controlled the 3 branches of the government of empire class nation with nuclear weapons. I am also pointing to the remedy, as happened with Inquisition 1.0 when 10,000 high church officials were summarily beheaded by French patriots. That ended that racket.

The American lawyer has adapted and adopted its supernatural doctrines, its tactics, and its business method, for the Inquisition 2.0. It steals massive money, perhaps a $trillion a year, and gives no value back. I propose the same remedy. The simultaneous arrest of the 15,000 members of the lawyer hierarchy, an hour's fair trial reading their legal utterances and no other collateral evidence of corruption. Then summary execution, shoot them in the head in the basement of the court, for their insurrection against the constitution, and internal treason, seeking the destruction of the nation for their own enrichment and empowerment.

I find people like you appalling and totally irresponsible in your advocacy on behalf of ultra-violent repeat offenders. But you are in Italy, and the Italian people deserve their punishment if they tolerate people like you. For example, there is open season on brave Italian inquisitorial judges and prosecutors. You are an enabler of the Mafia campaign of terror, against such brave souls. Morally reprehensible.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 26, 2012 10:25:25 PM

Adamakis: Your feelings are obvious, universal, and from common sense. They are totally beyond the understanding of the lawyer. Prof. Berman has no idea what you are talking about, "A sad (and perhaps just legally unpreventable) human tragedy." And, he is the smartest and most enlightened lawyer I have met in this field.

I would like the families of the murder victims to hunt down the judge who let Spengler loose on the public, and to knee cap the lawyer. I would celebrate that form of justice. To deter the pro-criminal lawyers now in full command of the criminal law.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 26, 2012 10:34:09 PM

suppie is a dangerous idiot

Posted by: Claudio GiustiI | Dec 27, 2012 3:47:14 AM

---…---SC: "I find people like you appalling and totally irresponsible in your advocacy on behalf of ultra-violent repeat offenders."---…---

If Ohio Gov. Kasich had said something like, 'Though 'tis true that convicted murderer Ronald Post's guilt
has been legally and thoroughly demonstrated, and 'tis true that his culpability is not credibly in doubt,
and though a jury of his peers found him worthy of the Death Penalty, I think that his attorneys did a
poor job and I hereby commute his sentence to life imprisonment with no parole possible.*Therefore,
I shall pay the full cost of his incarceration henceforward, since I am *responsible for his continuance
and need for state resources.'

Ah, but no, deliberately pro-violent-criminal advocates, (e.g. Darrow, Jose Biaz)
and unwittingly pro-violent–criminal enablers, (e.g. Kasicich, Claudio Giustil)
easily and effectively enrich rapacity while remaining comfortable, popular, and

Posted by: Adamakis | Dec 27, 2012 12:17:37 PM

Claudio works for the government. Criminals provide government make work jobs. Victims are deceased and provide nothing. That explains the bizarre views he holds.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 27, 2012 7:28:45 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB