Saturday, September 29, 2007

Christopher Scott Emmett Not Likely to be Executed on Oct. 17

Readers may recall that Gov. Tim Kaine stayed the scheduled execution of Christopher Scott Emmett back in June so that he could have the "opportunity to complete legal appeals prior to execution."

With the Supreme Court blocking the execution of Texas death row inmate Carlton Turner Jr., and also agreeing to hear the case of two death row inmates in Kentucky as to the constitutionality of lethal injection, it looks as if Mr. Emmett "may escape the needle a second time," Danville & Register Bee reports.

The High Court has yet to rule on Emmett's request for a writ of certiorari that he received inadequate counsel. Four justices consented to hear the case and under the rule of four, a decision is pending. Without Kaine's intervention, however, he would have been executed since five justices were required to stay the execution.

Supreme Court justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Hackett Souter and John Paul Stevens noted that they would have granted Emmett’s request for a reprieve, but that was still one justice shy of the five needed.

Earlier, the Supreme Court of Virginia unanimously ruled "that representation provided to Emmett by his trial counsel ‘fell below an objective standard of reasonableness.'" Nonetheless, the Virginia Court refused Mr. Emmett a new penalty trial.

The latest challenge to capital punishment has more to do with the way inmates are executed but offers legal claims for all defense counsel.

“The subject (of cruel and unusual punishment) first heated up in California … In this context, the courts are universally holding that the administration of pancuronium and/or potassium - with the resulting pain - to an aware inmate is cruel and unusual punishment,” the statement reads. “It is becoming increasingly clear that the courts will require reasonable assurance that the inmate is adequately anesthetized prior to these injections.
The Supreme Court decision to hear evidence will likely set the constitutional standards in the future for every state with death penalty statutes and the federal government; and yes, that would include Virginia.

H/T Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

Update: Talk Left helpfully notes that Texas is to keep the wheels of injustice rolling as reported by the New York Times. And well, why not? If Louisiana can charge a person with capital murder after DNA evidence exonerates him, HL supposes Texas can try to execute as many inmates as possible before the Supreme Court shuts down their death chamber.

Correctional Institutionalization Under the Jim Webb Scope

Recent news accounts reported that prison population in the United States increased from 1990 to 2006 more than two-fold. Two million adults live in correctional institutions with three times as many blacks living in prison cells as in college dormitories.

Indeed, crime became the cottage industry for late-20th century capitalist. But now, at long last, the correctional gravy train may be over. Virginia's junior senator wants to find out if the social and economic costs to nation are worth the price.

On Oct. 4, Democratic Sen. Jim Webb is convening a Joint Economic Committee meeting to examine the "economic consequences and the steep increase of the U.S. prison population."

You see, the United States incarcerates 25 percent of the world's prison population although it only makes up 5 percent of its people.

Howling Latina believes a major root cause for this reprehensible rate is the institutionalization of crime in the United States, which in its latest expression began with Willie Horton. For those too young to remember, Willie Horton was the convicted murderer and parolee from Massachusetts who pistol whipped a man in Maryland, gorged him 22 times with a knife and then brutally raped and killed his fiancée.

At the time, former President George H.W. Bush was running for president against former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis; and in the race to White House, Bush and his allies used the brutal case to impugn Dukakis, under whose unfortunate watch the Willie Horton case had unfolded.

Equal to the current phony hysteria about illegal immigrants and crime, Republicans during the 90's gamed the system with their tough on crime electioneering, labeling Democrats as teary-eyed, weak-kneed liberals, who were woolly soft on crime and directly responsible for crack cocaine, drive-by shootings, soft judges and over-all lawlessness.

Virginians may recall how former Sen. George Allen won statewide office with his truth in sentencing bullshit mandate, which regrettably for many families snagged their teens and adult kids into the criminal system that knew no political allegiance or class.

And as judges were forced to obey mandatory sentencing laws, punishment, of course, grew lengthier, more prisons had to be built and new constituencies cropped up demanding ever larger pieces of the economic pie from which to gorge at.

Crime may not have paid for criminals but it certainly paid for correctional elites as an ever-increasing portion of local, state and national resources went to fight the hyped threat.

But with the surprise upset of Webb over Allen (a senator who does not suffers fools gladly), the old adage by Laurence J. Peter that “you can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time” is verily seen by the number of people who overwhelmingly supported Republican paradigms but in 2006 finally wizened up.

There is a new sheriff in Virginia and the crime issue is about to be nationally revisited.

Webb has promised to call on "[e]xpert discuss the costs of maintaining a large prison system; the long-term labor market and social consequences of mass incarceration; whether the increase in the prison population correlates with decreases in crime; and what alternative sentencing strategies and post-prison re-entry programs have been most successful at reducing incarceration rates in states and local communities."

Each passing day gives more and more evidence how wise Virginians were to elect a thoughtful, high-principled and cerebral man who actually keeps his campaign promises and then SOME!

Now, let's hope the soporific media takes notice.

H/T to Corrente Wire.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Texas Death Row Inmate Wins Reprieve

The U.S. Supreme Court stepped in on Thursday and blocked the execution of a 28-year old man scheduled to die for killing his adopted parents.

The Houston Chronicle reports that "[t]he high court stopped the execution more than four hours after [Carlton Turner Jr] could have been put to death and less than two hours before his execution warrant would have expired."

Although the Court did not explain their decision, only a day earlier it had "agreed to review a case in Kentucky which uses the same method of execution."

Texas uses a cocktail of three drugs that sedate and paralyze an inmate before stopping the heart. Critics say the method could inflict great pain while rendering an inmate unable to alert others to their condition.
Well, it's beginning to look more and more like states with death penalty statutes on their books are going to have to figure out a way to execute without pain; something that strikes Howling Latina as mutually exclusive in light of the U.S. constitution.

Distubingly, the Supreme Court ruling was too late to save Michael Richard ofTexas; he was executed in Huntsville last Tuesday -- the very same day the Court agreed to rule on whether lethal injection was cruel and unusual punishment.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Update to Plummeting Real Estate Prices in Prince William County

There are times when Howling Latina gets a big fat wink from the universe, such as when she found a link to plummeting real estate prices in Prince William County this evening after blogging on the subject this morning.

Well folks, here's the proof and link.

At 6755 Stapleton Place in Gainesville, the list price is $384,900; the owner paid $645,000 back on Feb. 16, 2006. At 2174 Armitage Court in Woodbridge, the list price is $379,500; the sales price on Dec. 27, 2006 was $585,000.

Although she hates to tell you that she told you so, yep, the howler told you so.

Now how's that for value to constituents, courtesy of Chairman Corey Stewart, Del. Jackson Miller and their Republican pals???

Oh yea, before Prince William homeowners witness their entire real estate holdings vanish into the vapid thin air of vitriol, they need to bring Democrats back to power; it's their only hope. Dems may not be as good at whipping up voter rage, but by golly, at least they know how to govern.

Be Careful What You Wish For

Howling Latina has been a lonely voice in the wilderness shouting, "Repent, repent and mend you ways" when blogging about immigration policy in Virginia, and especially in Prince William County.

Now, thanks to Raising Kaine, she came across an excellent article in The New York Times that talks about the economic pitfalls that accompany towns with draconian immigration laws.

To illustrate, it seems that after a small town in New Jersey enacted "legislation penalizing anyone who employed or rented to an illegal immigrant." their booming economy collapsed. It had been built on the backs of mostly undocumented immigrants and once the legal poop hit the fan, sort've speak, they cleared out of town.
With the departure of so many people, the local economy suffered. Hair salons, restaurants and corner shops that catered to the immigrants saw business plummet; several closed. Once-boarded-up storefronts downtown were boarded up again.

Meanwhile, the town was hit with two lawsuits challenging the law. Legal bills began to pile up, straining the town’s already tight budget. Suddenly, many people — including some who originally favored the law — started having second thoughts.

So last week, the town rescinded the ordinance, joining a small but growing list of municipalities nationwide that have begun rethinking such laws as their legal and economic consequences have become clearer.
Of course, the small town of 8,000 on the wrong side of the Delaware River will be paying for their folly for years to come. So far, the town of 8,000 has had to fork $82,000 in legal fees and with loss of revenues from businesses, the Township of Riverside had to delay "road paving projects, the purchase of a dump truck and repairs to town hall."

Now, as a real estate agent, Del. Jackson Miller (R-Manassas) must be acutely aware at just how far real estate prices have dropped in the city of Manassas; and no doubt, his overblown hype had more than a little something-something to do with it.

On the one hand, the very people Miller would like to keep in his district are the likeliest to flee to the safety of even further out exurbs. Get me out of here -- and QUICK!

And certainly, any prospective home buyer with a similar worldview would want to avoid the menacing threat that living in PWC imparts with all those dangerous illegals.

On the other side of the equation, someone needs to pick up the slack when a stampede of former Jackson supporters wave good-bye. But with all the Latino bashing, you can't very well expect documented workers to rush into the warmth of racist local pols.

Let's face it, ever since GOPers like Miller started making a big stink about foreigners, property values started to plummet above and beyond neighboring counties; and they will continue to do so.

Homes that only a year ago sold for over $300,000 can't get a contract at $250,000. After all, who is going to buy these homes??? Certainly no one who has watched the market slide would willingly travel an extra 15-20 miles for the pleasure of watching their largest asset take a nose-dive.

Yes siree, nice going Republican hacks; and a special shout out to all the folks who've been whipping up the media frenzy. Just try to sell your home for more than the market place when Republicans took over the General Assembly in 1999.

Guess what? Racism is bad for real estate and the local economy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Republican Senators Call Bush Out

In spite of President Bush's berating Congress about the children's health insurance program and how the bill would bust the bank at Uncle Sam's Country Club, the House passed the bill by 265 to 159 with 45 Republicans joining all but eight Democrats.

Virginia's entire Democratic slate voted for the measure. However, Reps. Thelma Drake (R- 03), Randy Forbes ((R-04) , Virgil Goode (R-05), Bob Goodlatte (R-06) and Eric I. Cantor (R-07) voted against Virginia's children and sided with GOP leaders and the White House. That's how you show you truly care about the children; you vote against their interest.

Not every GOPer is drinking the kool aid, however. The Washington Post reports that some Republicans have had enough of Bush slanting the facts to fit his preferred story line and flat out lying.

Just last week, Bush claimed that benefits would go to families who make as much as $83,000. But Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Charles Grassley of Iowa told the press "that Bush [was] dead wrong about the $83,000 figure."

That's Senate-speak for dissembling.

You see, contrary to what Bush claimed and conservative bloggers parroted, the only state that was grandfathered "to cover children with incomes that high" is New York. And "the administration turned down" a recent request.

That's right, no $83,000 for New Yorkers. Under the law, the White House has ultimate vetoing power.

Tom Davis Wasting Taxpayers $$$$

In a notably empty and possibly expensive bit of legislative posturing, TPM ElectionCentral reports that Northern Virginia's own Rep. Tom Davis yesterday demanded "hearings into The New York Times's decision to publish MoveOn's anti-Petraeus ad at a cheaper-than-usual rate."

For the last week or so, GOPers have been all aghast about a MoveOn ad and how the reduced rate indisputably confirms what the nutwings have known all along. The Times favors liberal-leaning organizations over conservatives or Republicans.

Yes, even Vice President Dick "Darth" Cheney chimed in with his faux indignation, as The Times reported last Tuesday.

"The attacks on him by in ad space provided at subsidized rates in The New York Times last week were an outrage.”
Well, of course, we also learned from the story that GOP presidential candidate former Mayor Rudy Giuliani received the exact same rate.


Rudolph W. Giuliani, a Republican presidential candidate who is among those who criticized the MoveOn ad, paid the same rate for his own advocacy ad that ran in the Friday editions of The Times.
Furthermore, there is a logical underlying principle for the pricing; something GOPers like to tout when expressing the perfect marketplace without government intrusion but decry as patently unfair when it might adversely affect them.

MoveOn has said it paid $65,000 for the ad. While The Times does not discuss its fees for specific ads, it has said it charges $65,000 for full-page, black-and-white “advocacy” ads that run on a seven-day “standby” basis. That means that while the client can express a preference that the ad run on a certain day, there is no guarantee that it will. If a client specifies the day, the cost is higher: $181,000 with an 8 percent discount for a full-page ad, or about $167,000.
But never let it be said that pesky facts stopped a would-be Republican senator candidate from spouting whatever nonsensical talking points his or her party conjures up.

Folks, keep in mind, The Times article explaining the ad structure was published on Sept. 18; the letter from Davis to Chairman Henry Waxman of the Rules and Oversight Committee was written on Sept. 24, a full five days afterwards.

Guess taxpayers need more things to waste their money on; but of course, no dough for children's health care. Davis is just another empty suit in a long line of GOP shills.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Judge Halts Execution in Tennessee

A federal judge halted an execution scheduled for Sept. 26 on the grounds that "Tennessee's new lethal injection procedures are cruel and unusual punishment."

Edward Jerome Harbison had been scheduled to die by lethal injection for killing an elderly woman during a robbery in 1983. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger did not stay the execution but mandated the Volunteer State find a constitutional way to execute their felons.

Trauger said that "[t]he protocol 'presents a substantial risk of unnecessary pain' and violates death row inmate Edward Jerome Harbison's constitutional protections under the Eighth Amendment," The Associated Press reports.

In other words, the death sentence can be carried out, Tennessee just has to find a nice painless way to kill the poor sap.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Jena Teen Charges Thrown Out

The Associated Press reports that an appeals court today threw out the charge of aggravated assault against a 17-year-old black teen in Jena, Louisiana that carried a maximum of 15 years in prison. Contrary to state law, the youth had been charged as an adult.
Mychal Bell, 17, should not have been tried as an adult, the state 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal said in tossing his conviction on aggravated battery, for which he was to have been sentenced Thursday.
Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton had planned to protest next week during sentencing and in spite of the court's decision, they said rhey will still show up in Jena.

"Although there will not be a court hearing, we still intend to have a major rally for the Jena Six and now hopefully Mychal Bell will join us," Sharpton said in an e-mailed statement.

Said Jackson: "The pressure must continue until all six boys are set free and sent to school, not to jail."

Jena is a small rural town in Louisiana of mostly whites where "racial animosity flared about a year ago when a black student sat under a tree that was a traditional gathering place for whites. A day later, three nooses were found hanging from the tree."

Afterwards, all hell broke lose with whites and blacks taking it to the streets. Police arrested six blacks youths when a white student was injured during a fight and then charged them with attempted murder.

Prosecutors not only brought charges against a black teen that would've fetched no more than a slap on the wrist if he'd been white, but they chose an illegal venue to boot.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Will Webb Get 60 Votes???

Last time Democratic Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia introduced an amendment to limit troop deployment, he received 56 votes, four shy of a filibuster-proof majority. But with Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota back in the Senate, Webb now only needs three more votes.

Next week, Webb is reintroducing the measure and The Swamp writes that prospects are looking good for the junior senator. Webb has been urging fence-sitting Republicans to break the stalemate and support the amendment and...he just might succeed.

Webb said he is getting new interest in his measure from some Republicans, including Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and Ohio Sen. George Voinovich.

Virginia’s senior senator, Republican John Warner, could be warming to the measure too.

"He has indicated he wants to work with me,” Webb said. "There’s a strong possibility he also will join us.”

Howling Latina supports stronger action; but by golly, Webb's measure is a long overdue start!

H/T Vivian J. Paige; and here's a copy of the amendment.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Update on Jena 6

Howling Latina wrote about the Jena 6, a group of black teens facing serious prison time for fighting with some white youths after a ruckus about a school tree for whites-only and a noose that hung from the same tree.

USA Today via Skeptic Brotha explains:

For a year, Jena (pronounced JEEN-uh), a poor mining community of 3,000 people, has been embroiled in racial tensions pitting the black community against white school officials and a white prosecutor. It began last August when a black student asked at an assembly if black students could sit under a tree where white students usually sat. The next day, two nooses hung from the tree.

Black parents were outraged by the symbolism, recalling the mob lynchings of black men. They complained to school officials. District superintendent Roy Breithaupt and the school board gave three-day suspensions to the white students who hung the nooses, overruling the recommendation of then-principal Scott Windham that the students be expelled.

A few weeks later, someone set the high school on fire; and for the next three days, black and white students started fighting "on and off school grounds."

A white man was charged with "simple battery" after he was arrested for hitting a black teen. However, when police arrested six black students for hitting a white teen, the charges were significantly harsher.

The skirmishes culminated with a fight in which the six black teens, star players on Jena’s champion football team, were charged as adults with attempted murder. The white student they’re accused of beating, Justin Barker, 17, was knocked unconscious and suffered cuts and bruises. He was treated at an emergency room but not hospitalized.

A black teen entered a plea agreement and his charges were reduced to aggravated second-degree battery, a felony carrying a maximum of up 15 years in prison. According to the news reports, charges against two other students were also reduced.

Nonetheless, the tell-tale sign of Dixie style justice is revealed when comparing the Jena case against a "case in nearby Bunkie, La., in which three white teens were charged this spring with the minor crime of battery for beating a white teen, who spent three days in the hospital for brain swelling and bleeding."

Battery for whitey and attempted murder for blacks. No wonder blacks think the criminal justice system is stacked against them, for crissakes, it is!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Bush Court Nominees Going Nowhere

Who are Steve A. Matthews and E. Duncan Getchell, the two presidential nominees to the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals?

Well, after Virginia Sens. John Warner (R) and Jim Webb (D) submitted a bipartisan list of five candidates to the president for consideration to the Court, Bush cavalierly skipped over their names and submitted two of his own.

That's right, rather than be guided by the list, Bush chose to "casually insult Virginia's two home-state senators [and] picked one candidate who Warner and Webb considered and rejected--and a second who appears to be of the view that what the law needs more of is Ruch Limbaugh." Slate writes:

Steve A. Matthews, the Bush pick for the 4th Circuit, announced last week,,,is an able lawyer, and the fact that he has logged no time at all as a judge should not necessarily count against him. But a brief glance at his résumé suggests that Matthews' strongest credentials for this federal appeals court seat include his role as former state chapter president of the Federalist Society, and ranking close behind that is his membership on the board of directors for the Landmark Legal Foundation.
The Landmark Legal Foundation is noted for great luminaries like Mark L. Levin, a man who penned a solemn book declaring that any person who differed from radio maharishi and OxyContin meister Rush Limbaugh was, well, a dirty hippie "who threatens America with imminent 'tyranny.'"

Landmark also had the discernment to nominate Limbaugh for a 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Why with Limbaugh being "the foremost advocate for freedom and democracy in the world today," it's hard to believe he's been overlooked over the years.

Of E. Duncan Getchell, the Richmond attorney's name was deliberately left off the list by Webb and Warner. But no matter. Bush needed no counsel as decider-in-chief, which led to Webb firing off press releases to every name and person on his rolodex and e-mail list and creating a stir.

Despite our good-faith, bipartisan effort to accommodate the president, the recommendations that Sen. Warner and I made have been ignored," Webb added. "The White House cannot expect to complain about the confirmation of federal judges when they proceed to act in this manner."
Oh yea, the junior senator was boiling mad.

Both Warner and Webb had interviewed Getchell and found him wanting. Maybe it had something with Getchell's association with the conservative Federalist Society; or maybe it was Goober Allen's staunch support of him and then poor Allen's untimely political demise.

But bottom line, folks, Getchell and Matthews are going nowhere fast. As Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, "The Senate Judiciary Committee, under Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., doesn't move forward on a nomination if both home-state senators don't consent." And Warner is on the same page as Webb, publicly "standing by the[ir] joint recommendations...which did not include Getchell. "

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Did Texas Execute an Innocent Man???

Opponents to the death penalty argue that executing another human being is inhumane; collectively, as a society, we lose our moral compass when we behave like lowly animals and kill.

Since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, "more than 100 people have been wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death in the United States." Capital punishment leaves no room for mistakes; yet states like Texas and Virginia keep chugging along, although their gory appetite seems to waning a bit as of late

Yesterday, several nonprofits in Texas filed a motion to test one strand of hair from the crime scene in the death of a liquor store owner in San Jacinto County during a robbery in 1989. Evidence could prove the Lone Star State executed an innocent man.

Under the heedless eyes of then-Gov. George W. Bush, Claude Howard Jones was executed on Dec. 7, 2000. At the time, attorneys for Mr. Jones made desperate appeals to the courts and the governor's office to stay the execution and allow DNA testing, But Bush and his loyalists were busy making pleas of their own as they asked the courts to pull the plug on Al Gore's recount efforts after the 2000 presidential election.

And so Texas executed Mr. Jones for killing a man based on a sample of hair and testimony from an accomplice, Timothy Mark Jordan. The hair was never tested, although an expert witness testified for the prosecution that it was "consistent with Jones'" hair." Two years after the execution, Jordan recanted his testimony.

Documents later obtained by the Innocence Project through Open Records Act requests show that Governor Bush’s staff did not include the possibility of DNA testing in the material they prepared for him about the request for a stay of execution, which was denied.
In other words, Gonzo never told the president that a strand of hair might settle the issue of innocence.

Several months earlier, Governor Bush granted another death row inmate's clemency request so that DNA testing could be conducted; at the time, Bush said, "Any time DNA can be used in its context and can be relevant as to the guilt or innocence of a person on death row, we need to use it." Several weeks later, DNA results showed that the man, Ricky McGinn, was guilty and he was executed.

In the middle of a national constitutional meltdown, poor Jones had the additional bad break of following a death row inmate who'd proclaimed his innocence but was proven guilty.

To add to the disastrous sequence of events, a bit of outrage. County administrators recently found the crime scene hair but San Jacinto County District Attorney Bill Burnett refuses to allow it to be tested; he wants it destroyed.

"None of the reasons the District Attorney has given for denying our request are valid," said Innocence Project Staff Attorney Nina Morrison. "Mitochondrial DNA testing on this hair is definitely possible, and similar testing has exonerated several people who were wrongfully convicted in other cases.

Without merit, Burnett wants to silence death penalty critics. Let's hope the courts agree with our friends at Texas Observer, the Innocence Project, the Innocence Project of Texas and the Texas Innocence Network. No matter the outcome, test the evidence, Texas!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

In Honor of Freddie

This video is a tribute to the latest Republican presidential candidate, Freddie Dalton Thompson.

H/T to Political Wire.

Bush Ignores Webb and Warner

After Republican Sen. John Warner and Democratic Sen. Jim Webb, both of Virginia, spent countless hours in bipartisan deliberation to find the most qualified candidates to submit to President Bush for the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, Bush ignored all their work and efforts.

Thanks but no thanks! Bush decided instead to nominate E. Duncan Getchell, Jr.

Here's what Webb had to say in an e-mail:
“In the spirit of bipartisanship, Senator Warner and I submitted a list of five exemplary candidates to the White House whom this body could support. In an effort to fill the Virginia vacancies on the Fourth Circuit as quickly as possible, we undertook an open and extensive search to find five individuals whom we deemed eminently qualified.

“With an unprecedented level of involvement of professional legal organizations, as well as five Virginia Bar Associations, Senator Warner and I jointly interviewed more than a dozen distinguished attorneys from the Commonwealth, including two sitting members of the Virginia Supreme Court. Other candidates we interviewed included the Dean of the University of Richmond Law School, as well as a U.S. District Court Judge from Norfolk.

“At the end of this process, Senator Warner and I submitted five outstanding candidates to the President. These five candidates possessed exceptional legal qualifications and received the highest ratings from the legal organizations and Bar Associations. Virginia has a long tradition of outstanding federal jurists. The names that Senator Warner and I offered were consistent with that tradition.

“Today, despite our good faith, bipartisan effort to accommodate the President, the recommendations that Senator Warner and I made have been ignored. The White House talks about the spirit of bipartisanship, lamenting congressional obstructionism. The White House cannot expect to complain about the confirmation of federal judges when they proceed to act in this manner.”
Just the other day during Warner's retirement announcement, he commended Webb for his bipartisanship in winnowing down the list of candidates to the Court; hopefully, Howling Latina will have info on Mr. Getchell in a later post.

Update: The Washington Post reports that Getchell is a conservative lawyer from Richmond.

Mississippi Outrage!!!

After DNA from semen and blood at the crime scene exonerated a death row inmate and his capital murder conviction was overturned, Mississippi prosecutors have decided that DNA notwithstanding, he is guilty after all.

Noxubee County prosecutors have decided to charge Kennedy Brewer with capital murder and rape in the 1991 death of 3-year-old Christine Jackson, his girlfriend's daughter, who disappeared from her bedroom and was later found dead.

Based on the DNA evidence and dental testimony, Brewer was convicted and sentenced to die in 1995.

A controversial Mississippi dentist testified at Brewer's initial trial that "19 marks found in the body [of the child] were human bites made by Brewer."

Dr. Michael West of Hattiesburg had previously testified against "an innocent man charged with three capital murders in Mississippi" and a man wrongfully convicted of killing his former spouse in Louisiana. In both instances, West based his court testimony on "dubious science" as a self-described forensic expert. DNA evidence eventually exonerated both men.

West has been sanctioned by the American Board of Forensic Odontology and resigned in fear of being ousted by the American Academy of Forensic Science and the International Association of Identification.

The New York Times reports that "[t]his is the first time prosecutors have sought a new capital murder trial after a conviction was overturned by DNA evidence. " But as Times notes, "[m]odern forensic tools do not appear to carry much weight in Noxubee County."

Forrest Allgood, the district attorney, insists that "DNA reversals — there have been more than 200 nationwide — did not prove innocence." Never mind that only months before Jackson was killed another toddler "disappeared from her bedroom in the county and was found raped and murdered in a nearby pond."

The prosecution claims the two cases are unrelated

Science may have proven Brewer did not rape and kill the little girl, but he was guilty of something. And the only logical explanation and conclusion according to the harebrained prosecutor is that Brewer helped someone else do the killing and raping.

"I perceive that Kennedy Brewer assisted someone else in the killing of the child,” Mr. Allgood said. “Whether he actually penetrated that child or not functionally doesn’t make any difference if he was aiding, assisting and encouraging in her death.”
His evidence, ahem, beyond a reasonable doubt???

Mr. Brewer was babysitting the night the girl disappeared and there was no sign of forceable entry. Of course, two men also visited the home the same evening; and like Mr. Brewer, their DNA did not match the crime scene. But hey, by the same twisted logic, the two men are guilty of capital murder as well.

To add to the outrage, prosecutors have made little effort to find the real killer(s). Allgood has failed to run tests against Louisiana's DNA database to try to find a possible match; and he falsely claimed that "no such database exists."

John M. Allen, assistant director of the Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory told the Times the lab has had a "DNA DATABASE FOR YEARS."

RIP - Luciano Pavarotti

Opera tenor virtuoso, Luciano Pavarotti, died today at the age 71 in his hometown of Modena, Italy.

Enjoy Pavarotti singing "Nessum Dorma" with tenors Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

It's Official...

First they disrepected Hispanics in Florida and now it's the Christiofascists who get to feel the love.

Can anyone get a witness please?!? Apparently not. The New York Sun penned an article that summarizes it best:
If self-styled "values voters" have felt snubbed by the Republican presidential candidates this election season, that snubbing is now official."
You see, top-tier candidates turned down an offer to debate at a forum sponsored by social conservatives.
Mayor Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney and Sen. McCain are all declining to participate in a September 17 debate in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that's being hosted by an umbrella social-conservative group called
Maybe GOPers just don't like the Sunshine State. Folks will recall that the hyped Republican debate on Univisión focusing on Hispanic issues in Miami was canned last week due to lack of interest, er, scheduling conflicts.

Well at least social conservatives will still have the memories from third and fourth-tier wannabes.

A number of...Republican candidates have confirmed attendance at the event, according to the news site, whose editor, Joseph Farah, is slated to moderate the debate. They include Rep. Duncan Hunter, Mike Huckabee, Rep. Tom Tancredo, Senator Brownback, Rep. Ron Paul, and John Cox.
Poor batwings; no marquee candidates. For McCain, pesky scheduliitis strikes again; he has to be in South Carolina. Romney, too, has a scheduling conflict. No word from the Giuliani and Thompson campaign, but stay tuned as the cold-shoulder brush asides continue.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I Did It! (With Arnelle's Help)

Call her crazy, call her ghoulish, call her sick, but when Howling Latina heard that Ron Goldman's family was trying to win the rights to "O.J. Simpson: If I Did It, Here's How It Happened," she thought it was knee-slapping funny the title was going to be switched to "Confessions Of A Killer."

Well, the Goldmans won and the book is set to be published in September with a teeny minor change in the "graphic presentation of the book's title."

Slate Magazine
writes in reviewing the book that the title remains the same, but the "word If is shrunk to the point of near-invisibility." You need a star gazing telescope to be able to find it.

Does the book purported to be "118 double-sided pages in length" shed any new information?? Is it any good?? In other words, is it worth a read?? From the original script, Timothy Noah of Slate seems to think so. The book details with unvarnished candor how and why O.J. physically abused his wife, Nicole Brown, and then killed her and her friend, Ron Goldman.

Indeed, as Noah observes, O.J.'s persona is quite persuasive as author-killer. He begins the book "not as an exercise in counterfactual speculation but rather as the God's honest truth." The verbiage, "to be honest' appears in this book no fewer than 29 times," Noah writes. "O.J. relates with gusto some gruesome details about how he killed Nicole and the man he believed to be her lover."

If a reader wants to peer into the mind of a sociopathic killer, this book is for you.

You see, Nicole was a slut and a druggie who slept around with his buddies and deliberately drove poor O.J. crazy. She had it coming...all the way. "Nice people don't go around getting themselves knifed to death," O.J. comments.
"I'm tired of being the understanding ex-husband. I have my kids to think about,"
So for the sake of the children, he killed her. And now that we're told O.J. did it and why, inquiring minds might still want to know if he had an accomplice.

O.J. confesses he did.

In his soon to be bestseller, O.J. introduces the character of "Charlie" with little fanfare and insight and then reveals that "Charlie" helped him cover up the double homicide. Many pseudo-detectives have always thought O.J. needed an insider to make his get away.

But who is "Charlie"???

The evidence points to O.J.'s 25-year-old daughter at the time, Arnelle L. Simpson. In more recent times, Arnelle negotiated the book contract between O.J. and HarperCollins; she was also to be the beneficiary of the profits; and, oh, she was also at O.J.'s house on the night of the murder.

Daniel M. Petrocelli, one of O.J.'s dream team defense attorneys did some sleuthing and agrees with HL to the extent that she is one of three possibilities.

Petrocelli's accomplice theory argues that Arnelle along with his long-time friend, Allen Cowlings and his personal secretary, Cathy Randa are three likeliest candidates.

Who might Simpson call? Who were the people closest to him? Who could he trust? Cowlings had returned from a party and was at home alone. Arnelle was in her room alone. Cathy Randa was at her home alone. All were familiar with Simpson's home property.
Howling Latina is unconvinced. Cowlings and Randa might be great loyal friends but blood is infinitely thicker than friendship.

Nope, HL thinks the only person O.J would ever trust with his deep dark secret is his daughter. O.J.'s oblique references and probable "misdirections" notwithstanding, he did it and she helped him.

Monday, September 03, 2007

More Bad Publicity for Prince William County

Well, more bad publicity for Prince William County. When they're not sending someone off to die, they're busy trying to scare them to death.

The Washington Post writes yet one more story about the chaos in PWC because Republicans like Jackson Miller and his ilk thought it was a great idea to stir up hatred in their community.

And just like the civil rights movement in '60s in the South, Latinos from all over the nation descended into Woodbridge to protest the "Board of Supervisors' plan to curb services to illegal immigrants."

Protesters from as far as Minnesota converged on the Sean T. Connaughton Community Plaza for speeches and a two-mile march, organized by Mexicans Without Borders and other immigrant advocacy groups.

"We come in peace," said Karla Makris, 26, a paralegal born in Nicaragua. "We're not stealing. We're not criminals."

On July 10, the Prince William board thrust the county into the middle of the Northern Virginia immigration debate, adopting a resolution directing officials to determine which government services can be lawfully withheld from anyone in the country illegally.

Oh yea, good luck on that one!

The measure also authorizes Prince William police to ask about residency status if they have probable cause to believe that an individual is in the country illegally. Exactly what constitutes probable cause, and how legal residency would be verified, is still under review by the police.
Howling Latina sure hopes the denizens of PWC are ready to fork over some serious $$$ for all the lawsuits they soon will face. This ain't no disco; this ain't no fooling around.

Public officials have already confessed that the issue was designed to bring out their base in November. Some operatives have even compared immigrants to sex offenders and "top-ranking Stafford County officials [were making] joking remarks about a 10-foot-tall fence and a concentration camp."

Keep the bad karma coming and those property values plummeting! And in next year's Senate race, forgetaboutit. Expect to lose that one. It's a statewide race, and no safe gerrymandered districts to help you win.

That's right, enjoy your waning days in power. Dems will win the state Senate in the fall; and even if they don't take back the House, after the '10 Census, they'll be waving farewell to a few more batwing legislators afterwards.

To paraphrase what Sen. John Warner said a couple of days ago, Virginia elects both Democrats and Republicans; it's just that Dems are on the rise and Repubs are on the way down.

Gotta love the tough-on-crime Republicans who rail against immigrants for breaking the law but have no qualm in breaking more than a few to run them off.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Of Faith and God and Mother Teresa

There is a great discussion going on at the Washington Post about the existence of God. Sam Harris, author of the best-selling books "Letter to a Christian Nation" and "The End of Faith" started the dialogue with a post about the irrational faith of ancient civilizations to modern-day Christianity.

From human sacrifices to appease the gods to the Christian belief that Jesus had to die to redeem us from our sins, Harris argues that it's all very "bizarre."

The notion that Jesus Christ died for our sins and that his death constitutes a successful propitiation of a “loving” God is a direct and undisguised inheritance of the scapegoating barbarism that has plagued bewildered people throughout history. Viewed in a modern context, it is an idea at once so depraved and fantastical that it is hard to know where to begin to criticize it. Add to the abject mythology surrounding one man’s death by torture—Christ’s passion—the symbolic cannibalism of the Eucharist. Did I say “symbolic”? Sorry, according to the Vatican it is most assuredly not symbolic. In fact, the opinion of the Council of Trent still stands:
Oh dear. how to make sense of it all??

Howling Latina would posit that the life of the faithful is filled with doubt but when God unmistakably communicates with you, they're occasions of sheer bliss and delight.

Indeed, HL may veer from time to time; and during those in-between stages, she echoes Mother Teresa's moments of "darkness & coldness" in her thoughts but God always brings her back.

To illustrate, about five months ago or so, HL was distraught and praying to God that He please give her a sign of His existence. She was on the right path; he had not forsaken her; she would be alright. And then a thought popped into her mind, she would soon come across a deer and that would be her sign.

Now although she lives in a rural area, she hadn't come across a deer for at least six months or more. But she slowed down, just in case a deer showed up.

A mile or so before her house, sure enough, there was a deer smack in the middle of the road; something unusual since they're usually scurrying to and fro.

Next, she arrived home and the night was pitch black with endless stars in the horizon. She wanted further assurance that the deer sighting wasn't just a quirky coincidence so she prayed that she would look at the sky and see a constellation in the sign of a cross.

After searching the glob of stars in the sky for about 10 minutes, and no cross pattern, she decided to give up. She was already doubting but hanging on to the thought that the deer had been a wink from God.

Just as she turned around to go inside the house, she inexplicably turned and looked at the sky one last time.

And there it was--in the spot that she'd gazed at moments earlier--five stars in the constellation of a cross, with the center one barely discernable, weakly flickering in the Northwestern sky.

Well, this little miracle has sustained her for the last months; and truth be told, she's just about ready for another miracle right about now. But she hangs on to the knowledge of "knowing" and waits for the next time.

Harris scorns tenets of the faith: the passion of Christ where he dies for our sins; and the Eucharist and transubstantiation for Catholics. All red herrings, equal to disbelieving the Good Book because surely Jonah could never survive after a whale ate him; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego could never escape a fiery furnace; Noah never truly escorted every animal species into an arc; Daniel didn't face a lion; and so on.

But this is doctrinal dogma, dear believers and non-believers; and has little to do with one's infinite intimate knowledge (even when doubting) that God exists and has time and again revealed Himself to us.

HL submits to the maxim from Al-Anon: "Take what you want, and throw out the rest." And she joined the Southern Baptist Church when she lived in Manassas because during their worship services she felt closest to God.

We may be doubting Thomases, but during blesssed moments of licidity, we choose faith over distrust -- recalling the many small miracles when God speaks to us.

Surely Mother Teresa understood this. She had moments of light to sustain her in moments of disquiet; and expressing her doubts in writing enabled her to allay -- if not entirely exorcise them.

Go ahead, test the theory of proof in your life. "Seek and YOU SHALL FIND." HL is off to find the constellation of a cross in the sky.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Click and Bliss

In her profile, Howling Latina lists opera as one of her passions.

Here's one of the absolute best arias sung by the master maestro, Placido Domingo in Puccini's "E lucevan le stelle."

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