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  • Why a Black man from Louisiana is serving a life sentence for stealing hedge clippers news

    Louisiana's highest court won't review a life sentence for Fair Wayne Bryant, who was convicted of attempting to steal a pair of hedge clippers in 1997.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 19:42:26 -0400
  • Conspiracy-mongering Republican seeking John Lewis seat gets social media boost from Trump news

    Besides parroting many of President Trump’s talking points, Angela Stanton-King, a Republican congressional candidate, has frequently repeated ideas related to the conspiracy theory QAnon.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 11:47:02 -0400
  • After fatal great white shark attack in Maine, debate intensifies over culling seals news

    Some business owners and politicians in the Northeast, worried that more shark sightings and beach closures could lead to a downturn in tourism, want the seal population culled, but not everyone thinks that’s the answer.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 22:06:02 -0400
  • Gunmen kill six French aid workers, their driver and guide in Niger, minister says news

    Gunmen on motorcycles killed six French aid workers, a Nigerien guide and a driver in a wildlife park in Niger on Sunday, officials said. The group was attacked in a giraffe reserve just 65 km (40 miles) from the West African country's capital Niamey, the governor of Tillaberi region, Tidjani Ibrahim Katiella, told Reuters. The six worked for an international aid group, Niger's Defence Minister Issoufou Katambé told Reuters.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 11:05:34 -0400
  • Should Judge Sullivan Be Disqualified from Flynn Case? An Appeals Court Is Asking news

    Maybe Judge Luttig was right all along.I had the misgivings you’d expect back in late May, when I disagreed with J. Michael Luttig, the stellar scholar and former federal appeals court judge, regarding how the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals should handle the Flynn case.At the time, that court’s three-judge panel had not yet heard oral argument on Michael Flynn’s mandamus petition — i.e., Flynn’s request that the panel find that federal district judge Emmet Sullivan was acting lawlessly. Sullivan had not only failed to grant the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss the criminal case against Flynn; he had appointed a former federal judge (the overtly anti-Trump John Gleeson) to posit the argument abandoned by DOJ — to wit, that Flynn should proceed to sentencing because he had pled guilty to a false-statements charge, waiving his right to contest the case any further in exchange for the government’s agreement not to file any other charges. Basically, Flynn was asking the appellate court to order Judge Sullivan to dismiss the case.In a Washington Post op-ed, Luttig contended that “there are ample grounds in the actions the district court has already taken for the appeals court to order that the government’s motion to dismiss be heard by a different judge, and it should so order.”It is interesting to revisit this assessment in light of an order issued by the D.C. Circuit on Wednesday. The Circuit directed that the participants in the dispute over Judge Sullivan’s actions, including Judge Sullivan himself, must address the question of whether Sullivan should either recuse himself or be disqualified by the Circuit. Arguments in the case will be heard this coming Tuesday, August 11, in a rare en banc review by the full Circuit (i.e., all active judges who have not taken senior status, minus one who has recused himself, so it will be a ten-judge panel).Let’s back up for a moment.Back in May, I disagreed with Luttig because I thought the more important issue was prejudice to Flynn, not the harm Sullivan’s apparent bias was causing to the court’s integrity. At the time, the D.C. Circuit had given Sullivan ten days to respond to Flynn’s mandamus petition. I argued that, rather than reassigning the case to another judge, the Circuit should give Sullivan a chance to explain himself. If he was unable to do that to the Circuit’s satisfaction, I posited that the Circuit should then order him to dismiss the case.After Luttig and I, among other commentators, weighed in on what the appellate court should do, a three-judge panel heard argument. The panel granted Flynn’s mandamus petition and ordered Sullivan to dismiss the case. The 2–1 majority reasoned that, with possible exceptions that do not apply in Flynn’s case, the Justice Department’s discretion to end a prosecution is unreviewable. A dissenting opinion countered that mandamus, which is an extraordinary remedy disfavored by courts absent truly egregious judicial lawlessness, was premature — i.e., that Sullivan should be permitted to conduct a hearing and, if he decided not to grant dismissal, Flynn could then appeal. That would be the normal route to appellate review in a criminal case.After the panel ruled for Flynn, Judge Sullivan asked the Circuit to rehear the case en banc. Sullivan’s petition was remarkable because he is not a party in the case. The only parties in a criminal prosecution are the government and the accused. The judge is the arbiter, not a litigant. The court is not supposed to have a stake in the outcome. It is unseemly for a judge to act as if he has become invested in the outcome of a case the way a party is. It strongly suggests a loss of judicial perspective.Nevertheless, the D.C. Circuit granted Judge Sullivan’s petition. It vacated the panel’s ruling and agreed to full-court review.At first blush, this seemed like doom for Flynn. After all, the full court skews heavily Democratic: seven of the ten judges who will hear the case were appointed by Democratic presidents. There are only four Republican appointees, and as noted above, one (appointed by President Trump) has recused himself. In modern times, there are enough blatantly politicized judicial decisions that people can be forgiven for assuming that partisanship always trumps law. Indeed, in the three-judge panel decision, the two majority judges who ruled in Flynn’s favor were Republican appointees, while the dissenter was a Democratic appointee.Nevertheless, the mandamus litigation in Flynn’s case is not a brute political matter. Anyone who listened to the oral argument could tell how reluctant the judges seemed about issuing a mandamus writ against Judge Sullivan, even if they were convinced that he was wrong on the law. Furthermore, the main Circuit precedent, United States v. Fokker Services B.V. (2016), which clearly indicates that the Justice Department’s dismissal motion should be granted, was written by Chief Circuit Judge Sri Srinivasan. He is often touted as a potential Supreme Court nominee in a future Democratic administration. For him, then, the case is a Catch-22: Walking away from his own reasoning in Fokker would be a bad look, while ruling in Flynn’s favor would be very unpopular among Democrats. In addition, we should note that any of the Circuit’s judges could have asked for en banc review by the full court. None did. The case is being heard because Sullivan himself pressed the issue.The complications presented by the mandamus dispute were evident in the Circuit’s initial order scheduling the rehearing en banc, which added an intriguing directive: “The parties should be prepared to address whether there are ‘no other adequate means to attain the relief’ desired” (quoting from the Supreme Court’s 2004 decision in Cheney v. U.S. District Court). I interpret this somewhat cryptic assertion to indicate that, while the Circuit judges have agreed to reconsider the panel’s ruling because courts are generally hostile to mandamus, that hardly means the judges approve of the circus that Sullivan has made of the Flynn proceedings.The judges seemed to be signaling that they know the case should be dismissed, but they’d prefer not to slam a longtime district judge if there is some way to avoid doing so. Perhaps they could deny the writ, but couch the denial in a way that reminded Judge Sullivan that a court must neither take over the prosecutor’s role nor probe the executive’s decision-making in a matter that the Constitution commits to executive discretion.That is what makes Wednesday’s subsequent order regarding the en banc proceeding so interesting. The Circuit instructs counsel for Flynn, the Justice Department, and Judge Sullivan to consider the effect of Congress’s disqualification statute (Section 455 of Title 28, U.S. Code). Specifically, the participants in the mandamus dispute are told to address the law’s mandate that a judge be disqualified “in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned,” particularly if the judge “is a party to the proceeding.”Manifestly, at least some of the Circuit’s judges (I’d wager most of them) are disturbed by the degree to which Judge Sullivan has exhibited bias and become invested in Flynn’s case. This is exactly the problem on which Judge Luttig focused back in May.It could thus turn out that Luttig presciently homed in on the dispositive issue. I believe, though, that it’s more a matter of new developments breaking, perhaps inevitably, in favor of disqualification. At the time Luttig wrote his op-ed, I still think it would have been premature for an appeals court to jump in and disqualify Judge Sullivan. The parties were not pushing for Sullivan to be removed, just that he be directed to grant the dismissal motion. And even in making his disqualification argument, Luttig conveyed some hesitation. He said the Circuit panel should grant the mandamus but in a more limited way than Flynn was suggesting: Have Judge Sullivan pick a different adviser (someone other than the explicitly biased Gleeson), then promptly rule on the motion to dismiss, explaining his reasoning in full so the appellate court could review it.That is not consistent with Luttig’s other suggestion of having the case reassigned to another judge. But it was right: As things stood back in May, Sullivan should have been given an opportunity to do the right thing. Most of us were hoping he’d correct himself, rather than need to be corrected by a higher court.Plus, let’s put personalities aside, as well as the understandable distaste judges have for mandamus (which essentially asks them to dress down a colleague). A federal appeals court also has very practical reasons for discouraging mandamus. The regular appellate process calls for a criminal case to be appealed only at the end of the lower court proceeding. At that point, the trial or plea is over, sentence has been imposed, the judgment has been entered, and the appeals court can deal with all the claims of error at once, with finality. Courts do not want to encourage litigants to start viewing mandamus as a way to appeal to the higher court in the middle of the lower court proceedings, any time a party claims a judge has made an error. Chaos would reign and cases would never end.That said, things have significantly changed in the nearly three months since we analysts first opined on the mandamus dispute.For one thing, Judge Sullivan retained his own counsel to argue the case on his behalf before the panel, as if he were a party. Then, when the panel’s decision did not go the way he wanted it to go, he took the highly unusual step of seeking en banc review. As the Justice Department pointed out, Sullivan did not have standing to seek reconsideration; he is not a party and did not comply with the rules government officials are supposed to follow before seeking a rehearing.More to the point, by seeking full-court reconsideration of the mandamus matter when both the Justice Department and Flynn are seeking dismissal of the case, Sullivan is both causing prejudice to the defendant and stoking suspicion about the executive branch’s motives. How, then, could Sullivan continue to be considered a fair and impartial judge, fit to rule on the Justice Department’s dismissal motion?That question may signal something about the wisdom of the D.C. Circuit judges that I previously failed to appreciate. The Justice Department’s contention that Sullivan lacks standing seemed compelling to me. I was surprised when the Circuit appeared to ignore it in granting Sullivan’s request for full-court review; I thought they’d deny it and let the panel’s ruling stand. But is it possible that the Circuit saw this as a graceful off-ramp? When none of the Circuit’s judges asked for full-court reconsideration, that signaled to Sullivan that if he wanted it, he would have to ask for it himself. The Circuit judges probably calculated that if the irascible Sullivan made a formal application for rehearing en banc, it would be manifest that he had transformed himself into a party in the Flynn case. Then the Circuit could use the disqualification rule to nudge him aside for the sake of maintaining the judiciary’s reputation for objectivity. That would avoid all the downsides of issuing a mandamus writ while gently reminding lower court judges that they are supposed to remain umpires in these contests, not become one of the players.To sum up, whatever one may have thought about the gravity of Sullivan’s irregular behavior back in May, he has now clearly crossed the Rubicon. It is incumbent on him to recuse himself. If he can’t bring himself to do that — a failure that would further demonstrate a lack of judicial detachment — the D.C. Circuit should disqualify him. Either way, the case should be reassigned to a new judge, who should promptly grant the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss.I’ll conclude with a verity that seems sadly lost on Judge Sullivan: Granting the Justice Department’s dismissal motion would not be a judicial endorsement of the motion, much less a court ruling that Flynn is not guilty. Judge Sullivan is absolutely entitled to believe the Justice Department is wrong to dismiss the case, and that Flynn is as guilty as the day is long. What a judge is not entitled to do, however, is substitute his view for the prosecutor’s on the question of whether a prosecution should continue. In our system, separation of powers principles make that the Justice Department’s call.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 06:30:59 -0400
  • Teachers unions, progressive groups want demands met on housing, standardized testing before schools reopen news

    Jeanne Allen, founder and CEO of the Center for Education Reform, weighs in on 'Journal Editorial Report.'

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 16:53:07 -0400
  • Coronavirus: Nine test positive at Georgia school where photo of crowded corridor went viral news

    Nine people have tested positive for Covid-19 at a Georgia high school just days after a photo of a packed hallway went viral.Six students and three staff members who were at North Paulding High School in Dallas, Georgia last week have tested positive, according to a letter sent to parents on Saturday.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 08:52:00 -0400
  • Rescuers shaken by 'blood and death' of India jet disaster news

    Indian authorities had practised for years for a jet overshooting the "table-top" runway at Kozhikode airport, but local resident Fazal Puthiyakath was not prepared for the "blood and death" of the real thing. The 32-year-old businessman and his neighbours were first on the scene after an Air India Express plane crashed over the runway down a 10-metre (35-foot) bank and broke in two during a fierce storm late Friday, killing 18 people and injuring more than 120. Kozhikode airport in southern India's Kerala state is considered a potential hazard because it has a "table-top" runway with a steep bank at either end.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 02:53:52 -0400
  • Nasa drops 'colonial' nicknames for cosmic objects like 'Eskimo Nebula' and 'Siamese Twins Galaxies' news

    Nasa is to drop "colonial" and "insensitive" nicknames for cosmic objects, including the "Eskimo Nebula" and the "Siamese Twins Galaxies". The space agency said it had taken the decision to address "systemic discrimination and inequality" in science. From now on it will use the official International Astronomical Union designations for planets, stars, galaxies and other stellar bodies "in cases where nicknames are inappropriate." The Eskimo Nebula will be known as NGC 2392. And the Siamese Twins Galaxies, a pair of spiral galaxies found in the Virgo Galaxy Cluster, will be called NGC 4567 and NGC 4568. In a statement Nasa said: "It has become clear that certain cosmic nicknames are not only insensitive, but can be actively harmful. "'Eskimo' is widely viewed as a colonial term with a racist history, imposed on the indigenous people of Arctic regions. Nasa will also no longer use the term 'Siamese Twins Galaxy'." The term 'Siamese Twins' originated from a pair of conjoined twins who were born in Siam in the 19th Century. Stephen Shih, associate administrator for diversity at Nasa, said: "These nicknames and terms may have historical or culture connotations that are objectionable or unwelcoming, and Nasa is strongly committed to addressing them." According to the Alaska Native Language Center the term "Eskimo" is considered derogatory in many places because it was bestowed by non-Inuit people. Nasa's decision was criticised on social media by campaigners against political correctness. Ann Coulter, the right wing author, wrote: "How many Nasa engineers did it take to determine that calling a star the 'Eskimo Nebula' is 'actively harmful'? The country is finished."

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 13:19:25 -0400
  • Police Officer Fired After Allegedly Mishandling Explicit Photos of Slain University of Utah Student news

    The Salt Lake Tribune had reported that the officer had downloaded, shared and bragged about the photos

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 13:22:15 -0400
  • Trump calls audience at his Bedminster golf club a 'peaceful protest' news

    President Trump said his audience of well-to-do supporters was involved in a “peaceful protest” and therefore did not need to adhere to state coronavirus guidelines prohibiting large gatherings.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 21:05:31 -0400
  • A woman claiming to be from the 'Freedom To Breathe Agency' filmed telling a grocery employee that she could face legal action for making people wear face masks news

    The mask-less woman gave the employee a piece of paper claiming she could go to prison for up to five years for telling customers to wear a face mask.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 07:51:14 -0400
  • GOP appeals after Judge dismisses lawsuit over House's proxy voting system established due to COVID-19 news

    A federal judge tossed out a GOP-led lawsuit aiming to halt an unprecedented proxy voting system established by the House due to the COVID pandemic.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 18:19:43 -0400
  • A 17-year-old high school student developed an app that records your interaction with police when you're pulled over and immediately shares it to Instagram and Facebook news

    PulledOver is "like a community where you can share videos — you can see how other people are being treated," its creator told Business Insider.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 08:40:00 -0400
  • COVID-19 cases top 5 million in US with odds for highly effective vaccine ‘not great’ news

    The United States leads the world in confirmed cases, followed by Brazil and India.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 10:03:44 -0400
  • Masks in class? Many questions as Germans go back to school news

    Masks during class, masks only in the halls, no masks at all. As Germany’s 16 states start sending millions of children back to school in the middle of the global coronavirus pandemic, the country’s famous sense of “Ordnung,” or order, has given way to uncertainty, with a hodgepodge of regional regulations that officials acknowledge may or may not work. “There can’t, and never will be 100% certainty,” said Torsten Kuehne, the official in charge of schools in Pankow, Berlin’s most populous district where 45,000 students go back to school Monday.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 03:46:31 -0400
  • Kerala plane crash: 18 dead after Air India plane breaks in two at Calicut news

    The plane had 190 people on board and was repatriating Indians stranded by the coronavirus crisis.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 01:18:21 -0400
  • Woman confronting vandals covered in paint during renewed Portland protests news

    Protesters in Portland allegedly threw white paint over a woman, as demonstrators clashed with police for a third consecutive day.On Friday, following two days of protests marred by vandalism, more than 200 people clashed with police, as two other Black Lives Matter protests marched peacefully through the city.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 17:21:23 -0400
  • Nurse loses leg after she ignored pain to care for COVID patients news

    "You forget about your own pains because you're busy helping other people," she said.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 12:09:48 -0400
  • Bars over schools: Why your kids will probably learn from home this fall news

    Lawmakers and educators battle over how to reopen schools safely this fall amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 17:43:52 -0400
  • Sweden looks to US model to curb deadly gang shootings news

    Police in Stockholm are considering using a strategy against gun violence pioneered in gang-ridden US cities to counter a wave of shootings including an incident in which a 12-year-old girl was killed in crossfire last week. Senior officers from the Swedish capital have visited the southern city of Malmö, which has greatly reduced its shootings by using the Group Violence Intervention (GVI) methods pioneered in the 1990s in US cities. “They reacted very positively,” Rolf Landgren, the police commissioner who leads the Group Violence Intervention (GVI) programme in Malmö, said. The shooting of the girl at a petrol station in Stockholm has led to renewed calls for police to clamp down on the gang violence that has resulted in close to 100 shootings in the first four months of this year alone. Police believe she was hit by a bullet fired at two men with links to a known gang. Malmö is on track this year to record its lowest number of shootings in a decade, with only nine registered so far, down from a peak of 65 in 2017. This is in line with results in US cities. A study of GVI in Boston found that it led to a 63 per cent fall in youth homicide. Mr Landgren said it had taken years of deadly violence before Malmö’s police began to consider GVI – a method developed by David Kennedy, a criminologist, for Boston during the peak of its gun violence in the Nineties. “We had figures way, way higher than we had ever seen before. We needed to break that spiral,” he said. In Malmö, the programme, called Ceasefire, was launched in late 2018. Known or suspected gang members are offered help to leave gang life and warned that if they continue to engage in gun crime, they risk continual police harassment. Suspects are continually targeted using laws that were designed to tackle football hooligans. The bullet-proof car owned by a 30-year-old suspected gang leader was stopped so frequently that he reported the police to Sweden’s parliamentary ombudsman for harassment. The man has since been sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison, after drugs and weapons were found during a raid. He has appealed the sentence.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 09:33:58 -0400
  • Celebrate the VP nominee, not Biden's decision to pick a woman. It's the least he can do. news

    Our country has endured high opportunity costs for keeping white men in power for so long while ignoring the political contributions women could make.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 14:19:12 -0400
  • Canada's last fully intact ice shelf has suddenly collapsed, forming a Manhattan-sized iceberg news

    The 4,000-year-old ice shelf fell apart at the end of July as summer temperatures soared, scientists said.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 23:41:59 -0400
  • Injured cruise ship worker ‘forgotten’ after seven months in South Florida hotels news

    From behind the locked window of his 10th-floor hotel room, Paúl Córdova watches dozens of airplanes take off and land each day at Miami International Airport.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 07:00:00 -0400
  • Joe Arpaio loses sheriff’s race in 2nd failed comeback bid news

    Joe Arpaio on Friday was narrowly defeated in his bid to win back the sheriff’s post in metro Phoenix that he held for 24 years before being voted out in 2016 amid voter frustrations over his taxpayer-funded legal bills, his penchant for self-promotion and a defiant streak that led to his now-pardoned criminal conviction. Arpaio lost by more than 6,200 votes in the Republican primary for Maricopa County sheriff to his former top aide, Jerry Sheridan.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 20:30:47 -0400
  • India landslide: Dozens feared dead after flooding in Kerala news

    Up to 20 houses are buried under debris in the state of Kerala, with rescue efforts under way.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 03:17:45 -0400
  • California county will pay people diagnosed with coronavirus $1,250 to stay home news

    A California county has approved a pilot programme that will provide residents who test positive for coronavirus a stipend of $1,250 (£957) to stay at home.Alameda County’s Board of Supervisors has set aside $10m (£7.6m) for the programme, which will enable it to provide payments to 7,500 people in the area.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 17:44:43 -0400
  • Small farmers left behind in Trump administration's COVID-19 relief package news

    The uneven distribution of funds is stark. The top 10 percent got over 60 percent of the pot, while the bottom 10 percent got just 0.26 percent.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 06:12:00 -0400
  • Here's what K-12 schools may look like when it's safe for kids to return news

    Figuring out how to safely reopen schools for K-12 students is a highly complicated undertaking as the safety of children, teachers and staff is paramount. Here are the contours of what students in California will encounter when it's safe to bring them back to campus.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 18:29:38 -0400
  • The Trump administration reportedly quashed part of an intelligence report that showed Russia is helping him win the 2020 election news

    Previous reports from the FBI, CIA, and NSA concluded that Russia attempted to help Trump win in 2016, but Trump has denied those reports' accuracy.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 13:08:35 -0400
  • Journalists in southern Mexico 'live in terror' of gangs' violence news

    Mexican journalist Julio Cesar Zubillaga shudders when his young daughter asks him why "they" want to kill him. Zubillaga helped prepare the corpse of Pablo Morrugares, a journalist with digital newspaper PM Noticias, after gunmen killed both him and the policeman guarding him in a restaurant in Iguala in southern Guerrero state.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 21:46:07 -0400
  • Eleven killed in Czech apartment block fire including 5 who fell to their deaths news

    Three children were among 11 people killed in a fire on Saturday at an apartment block in the Czech Republic that police believe was set deliberately. Police said one person was detained in connection with the blaze that saw five people jump to their deaths in the eastern city of Bohumin near the Polish border. Regional police chief Tomas Kuzel told public Czech Television that police suspected arson was the cause and that they had detained one person in the case. "I think we are good when it comes to the culprit," Mr Kuzel said without specifying whether the detained person would be charged with arson. He likened the fire to a case in 2013 when a man caused a gas explosion and fire that killed three children and two other people as well as himself. He reportedly hated his fellow tenants.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 22:31:10 -0400
  • The onion salmonella outbreak grows. More recalls from Walmart, Kroger, Publix, H-E-B news

    The Salmonella Newport outbreak linked to onions has expanded into one of the largest in recent years, with 640 people sickened in 43 states, as of the most recent CDC update.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 15:10:55 -0400
  • Gingrich: Biden embraces Chinese dictatorship news

    Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich predicts how a Biden presidency would deal with China.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 22:20:02 -0400
  • Iran asks UN to hold US accountable for plane interception

    No description related. Click here to go to original article.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 23:46:19 -0400
  • How Leander Perez’s Vicious Racism Backfired and Saved Jury Trials news

    All Gary Duncan wanted to do was prevent a fight between some Black and white kids. But when the 19-year old African-American lightly touched the arm of a 14-year-old white boy named Herman Landry in what he felt was a paternal, conciliatory gesture, Landry’s response was, “My people can put you in jail for that.”This was in October 1966, in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, at the height of the civil rights era. Plaquemines was, thanks to the oil and fishing industries, one of the wealthiest rural counties in the country. But it was ruled by Leander Perez, a Democratic political boss and one of the shrewdest, most virulent segregationists in the history of American apartheid. Which is one reason why Duncan, despite his innocent gesture, was arrested on the charge of  “Cruelty to Juveniles,” and why his case eventually culminated in Duncan v. Louisiana, a Supreme Court ruling that guaranteed the right to a jury trial for any and all serious crimes.“The significance of Duncan v. Louisiana is less about the immediate impact of the Court's ruling than about the foundation that ruling laid,” says Matthew Van Meter, author of Deep Delta Justice, a new book about the Duncan case and the Plaquemines milieu in which it originated. “Duncan v. Louisiana is the basis of five decades of jurisprudence that protects juries from racial discrimination, ensures that they come to fair decisions, and forces the prosecution to prove every relevant fact to them. These cases are still coming down: just this spring, in Ramos v. Louisiana, the Court overturned the non-unanimous jury systems in Louisiana and Oregon—citing Duncan v. Louisiana as its basis.”Duncan’s case would never have gotten as far as it did if the Plaquemines authorities hadn’t belatedly realized that “Cruelty to Juveniles” only applied to adults with some sort of authority over the alleged victim, usually parents. So they changed the charge to “Simple Battery” which, although classified as a misdemeanor, meant a person could serve two years in prison and did not entitle Duncan to a jury trial under Louisiana law. In fact, all cases other than those in which the maximum penalty was hard labor or death were to be tried by a judge without a jury, and only death penalty cases mandated a 12-person, unanimous jury.Enter Richard Sobol, a New York lawyer who was staff attorney for the New Orleans branch of the Lawyers Constitutional Defense Committee (LCDC), founded to defend civil rights activists. Sobol agreed to defend Duncan, knowing that his demand for a jury trial would be rejected, and realizing his ultimate audience was the U.S. Supreme Court.In the meantime Perez, who was not only a racist but virulent anti-Semite (Sobol was Jewish), spent his time skimming money from lucrative oil and mineral leases (after his death his sons were sued and forced to return $12 million to the parish), plotting ways to undermine SCOTUS’ decision to integrate the public schools, and engaging in vindictive behavior targeting Sobol, whom he arrested for practicing law in Louisiana without a license (Sobol sued, and won in federal court).“To me, Perez was not only vindictive, he had all this power in the Louisiana legislature,” says Van Meter. “By the time the events in the book happen, he had been in office for 45 years. The thing about Perez also, segregation and Jim Crow were always about innovation, you had to stay one step ahead of SCOTUS, come up with new and novel ways of maintaining segregation. He was part of this team of lawyers working on ways to keep people apart. And he was pitted against people like Sobol who were trying to out-innovate him.”Perez, who at one time built a prison camp for “racial agitators,” was heavily involved in moving segregationist legislation through the state legislature, and in voter suppression efforts. He managed to establish segregated “academies” in the parish with tuition funded by public money and was so successful in his voting campaigns that from 1955 to 1960, only five African-Americans managed to register to vote in the parish.Perez also doubled down on his nastiness after SCOTUS ruled 7-2 in Duncan’s favor, and Justice Byron White’s majority opinion stated that “a right to jury trial is granted to criminal defendants in order to prevent oppression by the Government.” But SCOTUS left open the option for a non-jury trial for “petty offenses.” So, after the decision, the Louisiana legislature reduced the penalty for simple battery to six months, which White had defined as a reasonable dividing line between serious and petty crimes. Incensed by SCOTUS’ decision, Perez then had Duncan re-arrested for what remained a non-jury offense. Sobol sued, claiming this was pure harassment, and won again. Charges against Duncan were finally dropped, nearly four years after the initial incident.Duncan v. Louisiana was part of what Van Meter refers to as a “criminal procedure revolution” that included Miranda v. Arizona (Miranda warnings) and Gideon v. Wainright (the right to a public defender). But although the ramifications of those two decisions are still alive and well, the Duncan case has been severely undercut by plea bargaining, which now accounts for over 90 percent of all criminal cases. “As more and more laws have been passed, it’s entirely up to the prosecutor what to charge you with, and what sentence to ask for,” says Van Meter, whose book is being turned into A Crime on the Bayou, a documentary in development at HBO. “What they come to you with is the most serious charge and say if you want to go to trial and take your chances, or right now we can plead you down to whatever. What reasonable person will take their chances on a jury trial? This is an unbelievably important case that just doesn’t apply anymore.”Still, Van Meter believes that the Duncan case, and its place within the civil rights movement of the ’60s, has a lot in common with today’s Black Lives Matter protests. “The whole thing about BLM is that it does not have charismatic leadership, and that’s a positive resolution. Because Martin Luther King was mostly absent from Louisiana, the movement was local, and highly dangerous. In Plaquemines they were using demonstrations to draw out a response, and then hiring lawyers to take cases to federal court. They were working to orchestrate highly targeted events, and I think that is going on now. “It’s this one-two punch using demonstrations in a targeted way to draw out the oppression of the government, and then using lawyers to take this to court. I think there’s a way to learn how these movements sustained themselves for years under incredibly harsh conditions. I think there’s a lot to be learned how local groups managed to win these big victories over many years despite conditions that are harsher than what we see today.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 04:56:53 -0400
  • Coronavirus: New Zealand marks 100 days without community spread news

    The prime minister hails the milestone as "significant", but warns against complacency.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 10:54:03 -0400
  • Carol Stream police warn residents after attempted kidnapping news

    Police say a group of kids between the ages of 7 and 13-years-old were walking home with their bicycles when a man allegedly came up behind them and grabbed a young girl in the group.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 11:59:12 -0400
  • Trump signs executive order on coronavirus relief without $1,200 checks after rambling attack on Democrats news

    With talks for a new coronavirus stimulus package stalled, President Donald Trump signed a package of coronavirus stimulus measures that he will seek to implement unilaterally by executive action. "This pretty much takes care of the whole situation," Trump said before exiting the contentious event. "We're coming back very strong," he added. "We're doing great with the virus." Trump moved to ...

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 17:21:00 -0400
  • New 'threat' against former Saudi spy in Canada: media news

    A former senior Saudi intelligence official who has accused Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of trying to have him assassinated in 2018 has been placed under heightened security after a new threat on his life, a Canadian newspaper reported. The Globe and Mail said Canadian security services had been informed of a new attempted attack on Saad Aljabri, who lives at an undisclosed location in the Toronto region. Aljabri served as a counterespionage chief under a rival prince, Mohammed bin Nayef, who was ousted in 2017 by Prince Mohammed.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 16:53:34 -0400
  • How Nicola Sturgeon has secretly massaged Scotland’s coronavirus record news

    Nicola Sturgeon spent much of July telling anyone who would listen that the prevalence of coronavirus in England was “five times” higher than in Scotland. The figure was deployed to justify her refusal to rule out effectively closing the border by imposing quarantine on travellers from England, and her highly controversial move to set her a Scotland-only policy on air bridges, which airports warned put livelihoods at risk. The day after she first made the claim, masked nationalists in hazmat suits descended on the border near Berwick-upon-Tweed, shouting abuse at English “plague carriers”.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 06:48:11 -0400
  • Litman: New York wants to dissolve the NRA; it will probably decapitate it instead news

    Even if the NRA survives New York's lawsuit, dethroning its CEO and heaping it with humiliation and penalties will be a victory.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 06:00:26 -0400
  • Ireland has a new coronavirus fear: Americans on vacation news

    With little to no quarantine enforcement on visitors, some Irish business owners say they have had to take matters into their own hands.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 04:59:00 -0400
  • Mauritius scrambles to counter oil spill from grounded ship news

    Anxious residents of the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius stuffed fabric sacks with sugar cane leaves Saturday to create makeshift oil spill barriers as tons of fuel leaking from a grounded ship put endangered wildlife in further peril. The government has declared an environmental emergency and France said it was sending help from its nearby Reunion island. “When biodiversity is in peril, there is urgency to act,” French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted Saturday.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 10:17:33 -0400
  • Georgia Police Officers Investigated After Shooting at Minors During Traffic Stop news

    The children's father said they had been driving home from a Walmart to pick him up

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 12:29:40 -0400
  • Havana back on lockdown as coronavirus rebounds news

    Cuba placed Havana back on a strict lockdown on Saturday following a rebound in coronavirus cases, ordering restaurants, bars and pools once more to close, suspending public transportation and banning access to the beach. Cuba, which has been hailed as a rare success story in Latin America for its textbook handling and containment of its coronavirus outbreak, had eased lockdown restrictions last month after cases dwindled to but a handful per day. Cuba's free community-based health system has been credited, along with measures such as strict isolation of the sick and their contacts, with allowing it to keep the number of cases under 2,900 with 88 deaths for a population of 11 million.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 15:20:56 -0400
  • Vijayawada: Fire at Covid facility in India kills at least 10 news

    The fire in the state of Andhra Pradesh is the second such blaze at a Covid facility in days.

    Sun, 09 Aug 2020 05:40:49 -0400
  • France and Germany pulled out of talks to reform the WHO because the US was trying to take control, according to a report news

    The US, who said last month that they will leave the WHO in July 2021, is trying to dictate the terms, according to several European officials.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 07:58:50 -0400
  • Egypt highway uproots graves, homes in 'City of Dead' news

    Egyptian mother-of-three Menna said she was caught off guard when a bulldozer clearing space for a controversial highway flattened much of a mausoleum that doubled as her home in a sprawling cemetery. Menna's parents and grandparents had made their home among the graves of the City of the Dead, the oldest necropolis in the Muslim world. For those unable to afford prohibitively high rents in Egypt's capital, the burial chambers provide shelter for thousands like her.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 23:07:51 -0400
  • Explosives expert: It's only a matter of time before human error leads to another Beirut blast news

    One of the world’s leading experts on ammonium nitrate told The Daily Telegraph: “It’s only a matter of time before something similar happens again.” Vyto Babrauskas, a fires and explosives forensics expert based in New York, said that there were tens of thousands sites around the world where the chemical was stored unsafely. He carried out an investigation into a disaster seven years ago in West, Texas where 15 died. About 2,750 tonnes ignited to devastate Beirut on Tuesday. In the UK, it is legal to store up to 1,250 tonnes. In the Texas disaster, only 30 tonnes went up.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 13:57:37 -0400
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