October 22, 2007

1992 Quintuple Murder Death Sentence Overturned, When All That Should Matter Is ‘Did He Do It?’

Filed under: Scams,Taxes & Government,Wide Open — Tom @ 10:28 am

Will This Now Be One of The ABA’s “Problems” with the Death Penalty?

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Yet another death-penalty case appears to be lost, thanks to successful defendant brinksmanship (bolds are mine):

In 1992, Cincinnati homicide detectives David Feldhaus and Harry Frisby faced William Garner, a man who broke into an English Woods apartment, stole electronic equipment, then set the home on fire to cover his tracks.

Five children died in the fire.

Only a 13-year-old escaped, dropping from a second-story window as a wall of fire flared across his bedroom doorway.

….. Garner confessed, was convicted on five charges of aggravated murder and sentenced to death.

Now, 15 years later, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has granted Garner’s Garner’s request for further judicial consideration of his conviction.

The court determined Garner didn’t understand his Miranda rights and reversed the conviction. The 2-1 decision released last month found Garner was poorly educated and borderline mentally retarded.

The court ordered Garner be retried or released.

At issue is not only if police read defendants the Miranda warning, but whether they make sure the suspects understand them.

Police and prosecutors are puzzled how they are supposed to do that.

….. (Assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor Gerald) Krumpelbeck called Garner a “street-smart kid” who was no stranger to the criminal justice system and the Miranda process. He also noted Garner was deemed competent to go to trial and that there were no insanity issues.

“Garner understood his rights,” Krumpelbeck said.

Don’t miss the video of the reactions of the victims’ surviving family members at the link (warning: hanky alert).

Coolidge notes that Garner was Mirandized by the book.

The idea that William Garner was at all mentally handicapped is breathtakingly (pun intended) absurd. The bolded items show intelligence and flexibility skillfully applied towards an unspeakably evil purpose, along with nerves of steel and shocking ruthlessness:

Hours before the fire, Garner slipped into University Hospital, looking for an easy mark. There, he found (apartment unit residents Marshandra) Jackson and Addie Mack, who had fallen and hurt her wrist.

Garner snatched up Mack’s purse when she wasn’t looking, stealing money and her apartment keys.

He took a taxi to the English Woods apartment, telling the driver to wait while he retrieved his belongings. He carted out electronic equipment, at one point waking up one of the children.

Garner spun a tale about her mother sending him to check everyone and sent her back to bed with a glass of water.

Before leaving, Garner set three fires in the apartment.

Then, he grabbed the phone and smoke detectors and left, Krumpelbeck said.

In late September, an American Bar Association-sponsored Ohio Death Penalty Assessment Team claimed to have found serious problems in how the death penalty is administered in the state:

Ohio’s death penalty system is so flawed it should be immediately suspended while the state conducts a thorough review of its fairness and accuracy, a team of lawyers concluded in a study released Monday.

The system is full of racial and geographic imbalances, too many defendants don’t get adequate legal help and too many protections of offenders’ rights are absent from the capital punishment process, according to a 30-month review of Ohio’s death penalty system by the American Bar Association.

The review said Ohio met only four of 93 ABA recommendations to ensure a fair death penalty system. The ABA team asked Gov. Ted Strickland to halt executions to allow a review of the system.

At the time, the ABA report was also blogged on by fellow Wide Open blogger Jeff, who supports what he claims would be a “temporary suspension.”

If the Garner case now becomes an example of one the ABA team would consider somehow “tainted,” that study should be burned on the figurative embers of that English Woods apartment. It inappropriately places perfect legal procedure above the facts and circumstances of the crime. Did the ABA team even attempt to determine if there was any kind of real doubt about the defendants’ guilt in any of the cases they reviewed? Did they not care?

In capital cases, I care about the legal nuances only after I get the answer to this question: Did he or she really do it? If yes, and without a doubt, as with Garner, all the legal maneuvering and posturing in the world doesn’t change the fact that there is nothing wrong with the verdict — or with carrying out the consequences of that verdict. It may be (but not in this case) that those who didn’t “follow procedure” may deserve discipline — but that has no impact on whether or not the capital crime was committed.

The Enquirer story has a troubling, but unfortunately not surprising, sidebar:

How Judges Karen Nelson Moore, Boyce L. Martin and John M. Rogers split isn’t surprising.

An Enquirer analysis done earlier this year of six years of death penalty decisions by 6th Circuit judges showed the 14 justices consistently voted along partisan lines.

Judges appointed by Republican presidents voted to deny inmate appeals 85 percent of the time, and judges appointed by Democrats voted to grant at least some portion of those appeals 75 percent of the time.

Moore and Martin were appointed by Democratic presidents and Rogers by a Republican.

It seems pretty clear which party criminals like William Garner who want to game the system to its fullest extent should favor. All-knowing, all-seeing Judges Moore and Martin need to tell the victims’ survivors how they can be so sure that Garner suffered such an incredible brain drain in the short time between the crime and his apprehension.

Cross-posted at Wide Open.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (102207)

Today in 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed the Tax Reform Act of 1986 into law. It wasn’t perfect, especially for people in real estate ventures (in fact, it was very unfair to many of them), but it was as close as we have ever been to a flat tax:

Rather, the rates were 15%/28%/33%/28%. The “bubble rate” of 33% simply elevated the 15% rate to 28% for higher-income taxpayers (by reducing allowable itemized deductions — Ed.). As a result, for taxpayers after a certain income level, TRA86 provided a flat tax of 28%.

In the 21 years since, the politicians have gone and ruined the simplicity of TRA86. The only good thing to come out of all the tinkering is the preferential treatment for dividends and capital gains. First done in 1997, and then improved upon in 2003, those changes have improved the investment climate and juiced economic growth.

While keeping that preferenital treatment in place, I see no reason why we shouldn’t return to TRA86′s two-rate structure. The current 10% rate at the lowest taxable income levels ought to be zeroed out, and the 15% rate should apply to all current brackets except the highest, which would be reducted to 28%. Economic growth would be phenomenal.

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Here’s Clueless Bob Reich’s arrogant alternative to the above:

What’s fair? I’d say a 50 percent marginal tax rate on the very rich (earning over $500,000 a year). Plus an annual wealth tax of one half of one percent on net worth of people holding more than $5 million in total assets. Can’t be done, you say? Well, the highest marginal tax rate under Republican Dwight Eisenhower was 91 percent. It dropped under JFK to the 70 percent range. You say the rich will leave the country rather than face a marginal tax of 50 percent? Let them, and take away their citizenship.

Even France has figured out that Reich’s recipe is one for ruin.

Plus, if you want to see billions of dollars migrate offshore overnight, there’s no better way to bring it on than to institute a wealth tax.

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Labeling Alert — The antennae went up immediately in reaction to this Financial Times report:

Far right gains in Swiss election

Swiss politics on Sunday retained the capacity to surprise as reliable projections showed the ultraconservative Swiss People’s party improved its already dominant position as the country’s biggest political group.

The SVP raised its share of the vote by more than 2 percentage points to almost 29 per cent after an acrimonious campaign focused, as in the past, on the party’s core issues of immigration and law and order.

Yeah, those are “obviously far right” causes.

The Wiki entry on Swiss political parties says that the SVP is “right (conservative),” identifies two other parties as “far-right,” and two more as “right.” It seems to me that reporter Haig Simonian is unhappy with the result, and the “ultra” labeling is his petty revenge.

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$31,450 a year for this? Two words: Distance learning.

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Crooks & Liars appears to be a self-description.

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Betcha didn’t know this:

Cars torched in Amsterdam

The death of a Moroccan Muslim by Dutch police sparked a week of riots in Amsterdam.

Several cars were torched Saturday in the sixth night of civil unrest following the death of a 22-year-old Moroccan man who was shot after entering a police station and stabbing two officers, the BBC reported Sunday.

Gateway Pundit and Pajamas Media have more. The New York Times doesn’t.

Positivity: Immigrant gardeners provide seed money for college scholarships

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From the San Francisco Bay Area:

Catalino Tapia came to the United States at age 20 with $6 in his pocket. He worked hard, as a baker and a machine operator, and eventually started his own gardening business. He and his wife bought a home in Redwood City and raised their two sons, putting the eldest through college.

Though he never studied beyond sixth grade, Tapia was so inspired to see his son, Noel, graduate from Boalt Hall School of Law at UC Berkeley that he decided to help other young Peninsula people make it to college. Now 63, the Mexican immigrant is giving back to the country he says has given him so much.

With legal help from his son, Tapia established a nonprofit corporation, the Bay Area Gardeners Foundation, and recruited a dozen other immigrant gardeners to join the board. This year, the foundation gave out nine scholarships of $1,500, almost double what it distributed in 2006, its first year.

With his callused hands and burly shoulders, the Michoacán native does not fit the typical image of a philanthropist. When Tapia approached the Silicon Valley Community Foundation for a grant to help strengthen the fledgling organization’s capacity, he was told the agency had never seen a foundation started by gardeners before. “Well,” he replied, “We’ll be the first.”

When most people think of a philanthropist, they are likely to think of a society matron or millionaire business mogul, said Manuel Santamaría, a program manager at the community foundation.

“In fact, taking tamales to the church potluck or reading in the classroom – all those little acts are philanthropic,” said Santamaría. “Philanthropy means love of humankind. We’ve got to spin a much better view of what immigrants are contributing. … And Catalino is taking it to a different level.”

Tapia expresses a vision – of passing along the prosperity he has earned, drawing community members together for a shared goal and being accountable for the well-being of the next generation – that is eminently philanthropic. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.