Does Florida’s death sentencing scheme violate the sixth amendment or the eighth amendment in light of the US Supreme Court Ruling in Ring v. Arizona, 539 U.S. 584 (2002)? On October 13, 2015 the US Supreme Court will hear arguments on this very question. Does the decision in Ring v. Arizona, 539 U.S. 584 (2002) have any applicability to Florida’s death sentencing scheme generally? Does the jury’s findings of aggravating factors need to be unanimous? Does the jury play a role in determining the factual issue of the Defendant’s mental status? Does the lack of unanimity not offend our standards of decency as required by the Eighth Amendment?
As someone recently said: “Edie’s as tough as she is funny.” Tag line, perhaps?
If only as I was as funny as this one:
My friend and colleague, Kevin Sali, recently wrote a guest opinion in the Oregonian about why our current Grand Jury system must change. It’s a great piece. I completely agree. I encourage everyone to read it. Kevin is one of the smartest lawyers I’ve ever known (for a Canuck that is).
But I have few things to add because most non-lawyers who have not served on grand juries have no idea what the grand jury process is and you should:
1. They are secret and one-sided. The defendant isn’t allowed in. The defense lawyer isn’t allowed in. Almost always, the defendant and/or his attorney never gets to see the grand jury notes or learn anything about what happened in grand jury.
2. The “rules” you hear about on Law and Order? Don’t apply in Grand Juries — like hearsay. There is no judge in a grand jury ruling on whether evidence is admissible or not.
3. Most of the time defense lawyers never even know when a witness’s grand jury testimony is inconsistent with their trial testimony. If they did, a defendant would have the opportunity to challenge the credibility of those testifying against him. Doesn’t that seem fair?
4. There is no reason why the current system should exist. The argument that a few elected district attorneys made via a guest opinion in the Oregonian as to why there shouldn’t be transparency in grand jury proceedings?
I hate to sound like my 8-year-old but their argument is dumb. They argue that recording the grand jury witnesses’ testimony would expose these witnesses to harassment and intimidation:
Makes no sense. Why?
A. Because prosecutors are constitutionally mandated to provide defendants with the names of these witnesses and what they are going to testify about once grand jury is done. In trial, these witnesses testify in court with the defendant present.
The guest opinion was frankly insulting to members of the defense bar as it implied that defense lawyers would assist their clients in harassing and intimidating witnesses if the grand jury process changed.
B. There are already existing laws in Oregon which require defense attorneys to redact the contact information of witnesses when giving defendants the documents that provide what the witness will testify about. The same would/could apply in the context of grand jury witnesses.
I get it, the rights of criminal defendants are not all that important to most people.
Until your brother, wife, daughter, or bestie needs one.
In 1991, a random witness videotaped four white police officers from the Los Angeles Police Department violently beating a man named Rodney King with batons, while several other officers stood and watched.
The four officers were charged with Assault. A judge granted the defendant’s motion for a change of venue (something that almost never happens) and the case was moved to predominately white Simi Valley in Ventura County, California.
I will never forget hearing the news that they were acquitted.
Like so many, I couldn’t believe it.
The verdict caused one of the worst riots in our country’s history. 53 people died; over 1000 buildings were destroyed by fire and more than 2000 people were injured.
I was there. Until it became too dangerous to stay.
Of course not all cops are like this. Of course most cops are good people doing the right thing.
So what, when plenty of others are killing innocent young black men.
What do we say to our children?
A current Rogoway Law police brutality case that is currently in litigation is dealing with this very subject. Looks like we are not the only ones facing this issue. A recent write up in The Tampa Bay Times sure makes it seem that way.
Now tell me how this witness is going to be material to the state in trial? If someone can convince that the Washington County DA’s Office is LEGITIMATALLY holding this man for a valid, lawful purpose and not to punish him...that he WILL PROVIDE material testimony essential to the state’s case (as articulated by the statute), I will send Bristol Palin an engagement gift (a legitimate one) and will wear an I Heart Sarah Palin t-shirt for a week.
In August, 2014 the 9th circuit court of appeals found that workers labeled as “independent Contractors” may actually be considered employees depending on how their contracts are written.
Read the opinion here