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Archives for Justice (page 1 / 2)

The Bible on Immigrants

Evangelical Christians are forming the backbone of President Trump's support — and driving the Republican Party's anti-immigrant agenda. I thought I'd review my Bible to see what God had to say about how his people should treat immigrants, the strangers and the sojourners.

You Were Immigrants

God reminds his people that they were the immigrants in Egypt. (Fleeing, let us remember, economic collapse in their own land.)

Exodus 22:21:

"You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

Exodus 23:9:

"You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 10:17–19:

For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. —

Treat Immigrants Well

God wants his people to treat immigrants well, to leave work for them to do, giving them a way to support themselves.

Leviticus 19:10, 33–34:

And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God. … "When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 23:22:

"And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God."

Leviticus 25:35:

"If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you.

Deuteronomy 14:28–29:

"At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.

Deuteronomy 24:14–22:

"You shall not oppress a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns. You shall give him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets (for he is poor and counts on it), lest he cry against you to the LORD, and you be guilty of sin.

"Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.

"You shall not pervert the justice due to the sojourner or to the fatherless, or take a widow's garment in pledge, but you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this.

"When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.

You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this.

You Are Immigrants in God's Land

In fact, the Israelites are now living in land that God gave them, making them immigrants into God's land.

Leviticus 25:23:

"The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine. For you are strangers and sojourners with me.

1 Chronicles 29:15:

For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding.

God Condemns His People For Mistreating Immigrants

And God uses his prophets to tell people that He's not happy about the way that they've been treating immigrants.

Ezekiel 22:7,29:

Father and mother are treated with contempt in you; the sojourner suffers extortion in your midst; the fatherless and the widow are wronged in you. … The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the sojourner without justice.

Zechariah 7:8–12:

And the word of the LORD came to Zechariah, saying, "Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart."

But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear. They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the LORD of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great anger came from the LORD of hosts.

Malachi 3:5:

"Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts.

How You Treat Immigrants Is How You Treat Jesus

Finally, Jesus sees how we treat others as a direct reflection of whether or not we love Him.

Matthew 25:35–46:

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.'

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?'

And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.'

Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?'

Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

Dear Media: How Not to Screw Up the Next Ferguson

Dear Media: How Not to Screw Up the Next Ferguson →

Robert Tracinski writes,

The early reports were very clear that Michael Brown was a good, kind-hearted young man bound for college, that the shooting was totally unprovoked, that he was shot multiple times in the back, that he was executed in cold blood. Then the evidence, as it emerged, knocked down each of these claims one by one.

Cases involving the use of force tend to be messy, and getting at the facts is difficult. It requires a lot of sorting of competing claims, cross-examination and confrontation of witnesses, and a thorough review of the physical evidence, which often refutes the eyewitness testimony.

Here are his rules of thumb for future cases:

  1. It’s not a story until there are facts (and claims aren’t facts).
  2. Forensics is a science.
  3. People are individuals, not symbols.
  4. Legal procedures and privileges exist for a reason.
  5. You are not the story.

I'm especially fond of #3 and #4.

Sorry, But the Grand Jury Got It Right With Darren Wilson

Sorry, But the Grand Jury Got It Right With Darren Wilson →

David Harsanyi writes at Reason,

Even if many of your grievances are legitimate, "justice" doesn't exist to soothe your anger. In the end, there wasn't probable cause to file charges against Wilson. And after all the intense coverage and buildup, the predictable happened. Even taking a cursory look at the evidence the grand jury saw and heard, the details of Brown's death were far more complex than what we heard when the incident first broke. Lawyers will, no doubt, analyze every morsel of evidence in the coming days. But if Wilson's testimony is corroborated by forensic evidence—and much of it seems to be—it seems unlikely that any jury would be able to convict him.

That doesn't mean that many of black America's concerns about these kinds of incidents aren't genuine. It doesn't mean that police departments like the one in Ferguson aren't a major problem. It only means that this incident should be judged on the evidence, not the politics or the past or what goes on elsewhere.

No person should be shot by authorities for stealing some cigarillos. Too often, cops in this country use excessive force rather than prudently avoid violence. Just the other day, a 12-year-old boy playing with a BB gun was shot dead in Cleveland. We have a need for criminal justice reform and law enforcement reform. After reading through the grand jury testimony in the Wilson case, it's obvious there are far more egregious cases that deserve the attention.

According to Wilson's grand jury testimony, Brown hit Wilson 10 times while he was in his police car. He had punched Wilson twice in the face and was coming for more. Wilson asked Brown to get down. Witnesses saw Brown charge the police officer. Brown also reached for the cop's gun.

In this case, a number of witnesses paraded out by the media had never actually seen Brown's death and simply repeated what they had heard elsewhere—namely, that Brown was shot in cold blood from afar. Those stories became part of a narrative—repeated even after the report was released—that is almost certainly believed by many of those protesting in Ferguson and elsewhere in the country.

I'm all for pursuing justice in cases of police brutality. But I don't support railroading someone for the sake of "justice". True justice means punishing the guilty, not punishing the innocent so that we can feel like something is being done.

Ferguson

I find the entire situation in Ferguson to be infuriating and frustrating. I'm furious that a police officer got into an altercation with a young, black man and shot and killed him. I'm furious that the police department's first response was to suit up and bring out the tactical military gear. I'm furious that MRAV's, sniper rifles, and grenade launchers are considered appropriate tools for America's civilian police force.

I was frustrated that it took 3 nights of standoffs, tear gas, and rubber bullets before Missouri governor Jay Nixon decided that something was wrong and relieved the police of responsibility for Ferguson. I was elated when the Missouri State Highway Patrol was given responsibility and responded by leading protestors through town, listening to protestors, and being photographed hugging protestors instead of pointing guns at them.

I was confused when I heard that protestors, on the very first night, had reacted to the shooting by looting and trashing a local convenience store. Looting, in general, confuses me. Who does that? Who responds to a tragedy by saying, "Screw it. I'm mad and I'm going to respond by beating up this other innocent bystander."

Make no mistake, that's what looting and vandalism is. It's violence against the innocent and the uninvolved. Most stores that are looted are owned by local community members. They're staffed by local community members. They provide goods, services, jobs, and incomes to local community members. By destroying them, you're destroying local incomes, services, jobs, and wealth. You're depriving the owner of a livelihood. You're depriving the workers of an income. You're depriving the people who live and work near that store of the services that that store provided.

I've heard that protestors are claiming that they looted because that was the only way to draw attention to their cause. That's stupid. Protest marches, sit-ins, and rallies draw attention to your cause. Practicing non-violent resistance draws attention to your cause and generates sympathy from those watching. Looting and vandalism is a senseless act of violence and rage directed against those unfortunate enough to be located too close to the scene of tragedy. It's violence for violence's sake, responding to injustice by multiplying injustice.

So I was frustrated and angry when I heard that the night of calm in Ferguson was followed up with a night of renewed fighting and renewed vandalism. I was angry when I heard that the police stood back and allowed the looting to happen, forcing store owners to defend their own businesses. First the police over responded by armoring up and acting worse than most occupying forces. Then they under responded by allowing thugs to destroy community businesses. I'm angry because they don't understand—and can't perform—their own jobs.

I want justice in Ferguson. I want the police officer responsible for the shooting to be arrested and tried for murder, treated the same as any other civilian assailant. If a jury determines that his actions were justified, he can walk free and resume his job, the same as everyone else. If the jury determines otherwise, he can suffer the penalty, the same as everyone else.

And I want the looters to be arrested, charged, and tried as well. Their actions are neither necessary nor useful. They're criminal and should be treated as such.

One final note. I've seen people on Twitter questioning why second amendment anti-tyranny gun nuts haven't had anything to say about Ferguson. As one such nut, here's my response.

The citizenry of Ferguson absolutely have a right to own weaponry sufficient to defend themselves from criminals, whether vandals or an overreaching police force. The police force certainly seems to have given sufficient provocation for these Americans to justify an armed response. It was just such provocations, in Boston, that ultimately led to the War for Independence.

That doesn't mean that now is the right time for an armed response or that an armed response is the wisest course of action, at this time. I won't absolutely advise against it, and I won't absolutely advise it. I'm not on the ground in Ferguson, I don't know all of the facts, and I don't have the knowledge to speak wisely about the situation.

But the citizens of Ferguson, as citizens of the United States, have the right to assemble, to speak, and to petition for redress of grievances by any means necessary, either First or Second Amendment. But they don't have the right to claim that violence against local property owners is one such means of redress. That's why I'm increasingly angered with, and frustrated by, both sides of this standoff.

Jury convicts Minneapolis SWAT team leader for knockout punch

Jury convicts Minneapolis SWAT team leader for knockout punch →

Last June, I wrote about an office duty Minneapolis policeman, who'd sucker punched a restaurant patron straight into a coma. Joy Powell recently reported, for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, that Sgt. David R. Clifford was convicted for this crime.

Clifford faces a term of seven years under state sentencing guidelines. Two-thirds of that would be served in prison, the rest on supervised release. He was convicted of first- and third-degree assault, both felonies, and fifth-degree misdemeanor assault. Convicted felons are not eligible to hold a Minnesota peace officer license.

“Everyone assumes we’re going to give him a break because he’s a police officer,“ prosecutor Blair Buccicone said. “We treat everyone the same. David Clifford is no different from anybody else.”

This is fantastic news. It's always good to see police held accountable for their crimes. No one should be above the law—especially not the people charged with upholding the laws.

Why I'm Teaching My Son To Break the Law

Why I'm Teaching My Son To Break the Law →

J.D. Tuccille, writing at Reason.com:

My wife and I used it as a starting point for telling our seven-year-old why we don't expect him to obey the law—that laws and the governments that pass them are often evil. We expect him, instead, to stand up for his rights and those of others, and to do good, even if that means breaking the law.

Read the whole thing.

Minimizing authority of judges

Minimizing authority of judges →

Senator Rand Paul, at the Washington Times:

For these reasons and others, last week I joined my colleague Sen. Patrick Leahy, Vermont Democrat, in introducing a bill that would authorize judges to disregard federal mandatory-minimum sentencing on a case-by-case basis.

Some might think it is unusual for a conservative Republican to join a liberal Democrat on such a bill, but contrary to popular belief, the protection of civil liberties and adherence to the Constitution should be a bipartisan effort.

In my younger days, I would have regarded this as rank liberalism and heresy. Now it just seems like common sense. I'll stand with Rand on this one.

Read the whole thing. His reasons are dead on.

Government Money

Government Money →

From Daniel Greenfield, at Sultan Knish:

Do you know of any company in America where for a mere few billion, you could become the CEO of a company whose shareholders would be forced to sit back and watch for four years while you run up trillion dollar deficits and parcel out billions to your friends? Without going to jail or being marched out in handcuffs. A company that will allow you to indulge yourself, travel anywhere at company expense, live the good life, and only work when you feel like it. That will legally indemnify you against all shareholder lawsuits, while allowing you to dispose not only of their investments, but of their personal property in any way you see fit.

There is only one such company. It's called the United States Government.

This is gangster government at its best. Politicans can spend billions of dollars to gain control of trillions of dollars. Then they can enrich themselves, their friends, and their friends' friends. And we wonder why our representatives are corrupt? They wouldn't have so many opportunities for corruption if we drastically cut federal spending and took away their goody bags.

The Revenue Deficit From Progressive Tax Rates

The Revenue Deficit From Progressive Tax Rates →

Michael Solon, writing in the Wall Street Journal:

Why? A more progressive tax code now leverages the negative impact of slow economic growth. The share of all individual income taxes paid by the top 1% has risen to 41.8% in 2008 from 17.4% in 1980—but almost two-thirds of the income from the top 1% comes from nonwage income, including capital gains, dividends and proprietor's profits.

Individual income taxes as well as corporate taxes are now far more rooted in the shifting sands of volatile business income and capital profits rather than in the terra firma of wage income that stabilizes payroll taxes. From 1960 to 2000, payroll taxes were never lower than in the previous year, individual income taxes dipped only twice, and corporate taxes dropped 11 times. Since 2000, individual income and corporate tax revenues dropped five times, while payroll taxes fell twice. Not only do revenues from individual tax returns drop more often now. They fall more severely, with recent collapses of 14%-20% versus the 3%-5% range before 2000.

If "the rich" pay all of the taxes (and they pay a massive share in the U.S.) than tax revenues will be directly tied to the fates of the rich. Right now, the federal government needs high income earners to continue earning high incomes. As soon as the high incomes take a hit, tax revenue takes a massive hit.

We now have a government that has a massive incentive to ensure that "the rich" never see their incomes drop. We might have a more just government if we evened out the tax code, so that income taxes were spread more broadly and more evenly over the entire country instead of being concentrated over a very small portion of the country.

Is Income Inequality Unfair?

Is Income Inequality Unfair? →

From Scott Rasmussen, at Real Clear Politics:

For most Americans, the context is very important. If a CEO gets a huge paycheck after his company received a government bailout, that’s a problem. People who get rich through corporate welfare schemes are seen as suspect. On the other hand, 86 percent believe it’s fair for people who create very successful companies to get very rich.

In other words, it’s not just the income; it’s whether the reward matched the effort. People don’t think it’s a problem that Steve Jobs got rich. After all, he created Apple Computer and the iPad generation. But there was massive outrage about the bonuses paid to AIG executives after that company was propped up by the federal government.

Income inequality isn't unjust unless the income was ill gotten gains. Our goal as a society shouldn't be to stamp out income inequality. It should be to stamp out crony capitalism that allows people to get rich through connections instead of requiring them to get rich through innovation that makes the rest of us richer.

Steubenville High School football players found guilty of raping 16-year-old girl

Steubenville High School football players found guilty of raping 16-year-old girl →

I'm a bit late on this, but I wanted to post it anyway.

From Dan Wetzel, at Yahoo! Sports:

Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond were soon arrested after that text exchange. Legendary coach Reno Saccoccia couldn't help them now. The power of Big Red, their families' good names, their otherwise clean pasts and strong futures, meant nothing.

A culture of arrogance created a group mindset of debauchery and disrespect, of misplaced manhood and lost morality.

Drunk on their own small-town greatness, they operated unaware of common decency until they went too far, wrote too much, bragged too many times and, finally, on a cold Sunday morning, were hauled out of a small third-floor courtroom as a couple of common criminals.

Good. That's what equality before the law is about. Lex, rex.

This entry was tagged. Justice Lex Rex

Cruel and Unusual Punishment: The Shame of Three Strikes Laws

Cruel and Unusual Punishment: The Shame of Three Strikes Laws →

From Matt Taibbi, at Rolling Stone:

Despite the passage in late 2012 of a new state ballot initiative that prevents California from ever again giving out life sentences to anyone whose "third strike" is not a serious crime, thousands of people – the overwhelming majority of them poor and nonwhite – remain imprisoned for a variety of offenses so absurd that any list of the unluckiest offenders reads like a macabre joke, a surrealistic comedy routine.

Have you heard the one about the guy who got life for stealing a slice of pizza? Or the guy who went away forever for lifting a pair of baby shoes? Or the one who got 50 to life for helping himself to five children's videotapes from Kmart? How about the guy who got life for possessing 0.14 grams of meth? That last offender was a criminal mastermind by Three Strikes standards, as many others have been sentenced to life for holding even smaller amounts of drugs, including one poor sap who got the max for 0.09 grams of black-tar heroin.

Justice should be blind but it shouldn't be deaf, dumb, and stupid too. Shame on the politicians who passed these laws and more shame on the voters who supported them. I was one. As a kid, I thought Three Strikes and mandatory sentencing guidelines were a great idea to crack down on soft judges. I was wrong. These laws are wrong. And the people unjustly imprisoned for long sentences deserve release, apology, and restitution.

Indiana May Soon Mandate Police Training on Alzheimer's Disease

I've been following a story from Peru, IN. In June of last year, we learned that a local policeman had tazered a 64-year old man, suffering from Alzheimer's disease. In late August, we learned that the police departmant had fired the man involved.

Former patrolman Gregory Martin is currently appealing his firing. I'm watching that case, for any developments. Meanwhile, the Indiana legislature has gotten involved. Representative Bill Friend (R-Macy) introduced a bill "requiring all law enforcement officers in the state to receive training regarding people with Alzheimer’s disease". That bill passed the Indiana house unanimously.

I think this is probably a good idea. I know I don't know how to handle a violent Alzheimer's patient. I know that tazering someone with mental dementia is a bad idea, but I don't know what the right approach is. The "peace officers" on call should.

Quotation of the Day…

Quotation of the Day… →

I love this. From Don Boudreaux.

… is from page 162 of Tom Bethell’s 1998 volume, The Noblest Triumph (original emphasis):

The great blessing of private property, then, is that people can benefit from their own industry and insulate themselves from the negative effects of others’ actions. It is like a set of invisible mirrors that surround individuals, households or firms, reflecting back on them the consequences of their acts. The industrious will reap the benefits of their industry, the frugal the consequences of their frugality; the improvident and the profligate likewise. They receive their due, which is to say they experience justice as a matter of routine. Private property institutionalizes justice.

Justice Moves Forward in Peru, IN

Two months ago, I wrote about a police officer who tazed a man with Alzheimer’s. This weekend, I followed-up on the story, to see what’s happened since then. I’m happy to report that the Peru, IN police chief recommended firing Officer Gregory Martin. The Peru Board of Works held a hearing from from July 30-August 10, to review the recommendation. They ultimately upheld the decision and voted to fire Officer Gregory Martin.

I’m happy about this decision but it’s not over yet. Officer Martin is planning to appeal the decision, in a Miami County court.

Off-Duty Executive Officer for the Minneapolis SWAT Team Beats a Man Into a Coma

Off-Duty Executive Officer for the Minneapolis SWAT Team Beats a Man Into a Coma →

Excerpt: Here’s another story where the public’s supposed protector practices assault and battery instead. Clifford claims in the police report that Vander Lee was using offensive language, but according to the criminal complaint, no one else in the restaurant heard it. No one claims Vander Lee struck Clifford first, though Clifford apparently claimed [...]

Here's another story where the public's supposed protector practices assault and battery instead.

Clifford claims in the police report that Vander Lee was using offensive language, but according to the criminal complaint, no one else in the restaurant heard it. No one claims Vander Lee struck Clifford first, though Clifford apparently claimed he feared Vander Lee was about to. After striking Vander Lee, Clifford then fled on foot to a nearby parking lot as Vander Lee’s brother and friend chased him. His wife then swung by in her car to pick him up, and the two of them fled. He turned himself in the next day.

The Minneapolis Police Department initially went into defensive mode, noting that Clifford had received two medals of valor and “no sustained allegations on his disciplinary record.” A couple things, there. First, let’s keep in mind that this is the same Minneapolis Police Department that gave its SWAT team “medals of valor” for raiding the wrong house, resulting in a shootout with an innocent Hmong man. His wife and six children were in the house, which the police filled with at least 22 rounds. As for Clifford’s alleged clean record, the key word in that sentence is sustained. In this case, it merely means he hasn’t yet done anything so severe that even other cops and prosecutors were willing to hold him accountable.

Crime victim still takes it on the chin

Crime victim still takes it on the chin →

How insane is this?

If you defend your family and property from a knife-wielding druggie in Massachusetts, you’d better be prepared to also defend yourself from the justice system, too.

McKay is the young father who, seeing a local druggie breaking into his truck and stealing the tools he uses to pay the bills, confronted him, subdued him and held him for the police. When the police arrived, they found the bad guy had a knife, a billy club and — thanks to the unarmed McKay — a broken jaw.

Instead of thanking McKay for helping get an armed criminal off the streets, Swampscott officials charged him with a felony. As a Swampscott police spokesman said at the time, “We don’t urge anybody to fight back. We want them to call us.”

Why 'Caylee's Law' Is A Bad Idea

Why 'Caylee's Law' Is A Bad Idea →

Because many people reacted with anger to the Casey Anthony verdict, lots of state legislators saw a chance to be a hero to parents everywhere. More than 30 states have pending legislation to implement “Caylee’s Law”—an attempt to make sure that the next Casey Anthony gets punished as harshly as everyone thinks the real Casey Anthony should have been punished.

"Caylee's Law," a proposed federal bill that would charge parents with a felony if they fail to report a missing child within 24 hours, or if they fail to report the death of a child within an hour.

Radley Balko points out the many reasons that such a law would be a stupendously bad idea, verging on being evil itself.

In an interview with CNN, Crowder concedes that she didn't consult with a single law enforcement official before coming up with her 24-hour and 1-hour limits. This raises some questions. How did she come up with those cutoffs? Did she consult with any grief counselors to see if there may be innocuous reasons why an innocent person who just witnessed a child's death might not immediately report it, such as shock, passing out, or some other sort of mental breakdown? Did she consult with a forensic pathologist to see if it's even possible to pin down the time of death with the sort of precision you'd need to make Caylee's Law enforceable? Have any of the lawmakers who have proposed or are planning to propose this law actually consulted with anyone with some knowledge of these issues?

What if a child dies while sleeping? When would you start the clock on the parent's one-hour window to report? From the time the parent discovers the child is dead, or from the time the child actually dies? If it's the former, can you really believe what a parent tells you if he knows a felony charge hinges on his answer? What if a parent or babysitter missed the deadline because she fell asleep at the time the child was playing outside and suffered a fatal accident? You could argue this is evidence of bad parenting or inattentive babysitting, but under those circumstances, do you really want to charge a grieving parent or heartbroken babysitter with a felony?

The portion of the bill that requires a parent to report a missing child within 24 hours is just as fraught with problems. When does that clock start? From the time the child actually gets abducted, gets lost, or is somehow killed, or at the time the parents noticed the child was missing? How do you pinpoint the time that they "noticed"? When teenager Rosie Larsen is abducted and murdered in the new AMC drama The Killing, it takes two days for her parents to notice she's missing. They thought she was spending the night at a friend's house, and she and her friends often rotated sleeping over at one another's homes on the weekends. The Killing is fiction, but this isn't an implausible scenario. Again, are we really so angry about the Casey Anthony verdict that we're prepared to charge grieving parents with a felony because it takes them longer than some arbitrary deadline to notice their child is missing?

The law and the attention it attracts could also cause problems of overcompliance. How many parents will notify the authorities with false reports within an hour or two, out of fear of becoming suspects? How many such calls and wasted police resources on false alarms will it take before police grow jaded and begin taking note of missing child reports, but don't bother investigating them until much later? How many legitimate abductions will then go uninvestigated during the critical first few hours because they were lost in the pile of false reports inspired by Caylee's Law?

It isn't difficult to come up with other scenarios where innocent people may get ensnared in Caylee's Law.

This entry was tagged. Justice

Bad Evidence in the Casey Anthony Trial

How confident are you that Casey Anthony was guilty? Now, what if I told you that a key piece of prosecution evidence—that she searched for information about “chloroform” more than 80 times—was wrong?

Assertions by the prosecution that Casey Anthony conducted extensive computer searches on the word “chloroform” were based on inaccurate data, a software designer who testified at the trial said Monday.

The designer, John Bradley, said Ms. Anthony had visited what the prosecution said was a crucial Web site only once, not 84 times, as prosecutors had asserted. He came to that conclusion after redesigning his software, and immediately alerted prosecutors and the police about the mistake, he said.

The finding of 84 visits was used repeatedly during the trial to suggest that Ms. Anthony had planned to murder her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, who was found dead in 2008. Ms. Anthony, who could have faced the death penalty, was acquitted of the killing on July 5.

The already weak circumstantial evidence for a “murder” verdict is now even weaker. I still think there’s plenty of evidence to convict Ms. Anthony of being a horrible parent. But that’s not the same thing as proving, beyond any reasonable doubt, that she acted with deliberate premeditation to commit murder. Losing this piece of evidence just makes those doubts all the more reasonable.

Gandolf’s words to Frodo, from the Fellowship of the Ring still ring hauntingly true.

Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends.

This entry was tagged. Justice

From Presidential Candidate to Rikers Island

From Presidential Candidate to Rikers Island →

International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was ordered held without bail Monday after Manhattan prosecutors charged him with seven counts stemming from allegations he sexually assaulted a hotel housekeeper—a decision that sends one of the towering figures of international finance and French politics to a jail cell on New York's Rikers Island.

I like that very much.

This entry was tagged. Justice