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Archive for November 10th, 2016

Georgia Man Who Shot ATF Agent Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison

Steven Maurice McKinley

Steven Maurice McKinley

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An Athens, Ga., man who shot an ATF agent during an undercover investigation more than two years ago was sentenced to 24 years in federal prison on Tuesday.

Steven Maurice McKinley, 23, was convicted of attempting to kill a federal officer and discharging a firearm during a federal crime of violence, the Athens Banner-Herald reports.

The violence broke out in September 2014 when an undercover agent agreed to buy an AK-47 and marijuana from McKinley for $800. But the meeting turned out to be a robbery attempt by McKinney, who shot and wounded the agent.

“Today’s sentence is a direct message to criminals that law enforcement is observant and it will not tolerate violent crime,” said John Schmidt, assistant special agent in charge of the ATF’s Atlanta field office. “ Steven McKinley showed a complete and utter disregard for human life when he attempted to murder a federal agent. As an agency and unified law enforcement community, we will not tolerate armed violent individuals continually terrorizing our neighborhoods and reducing the quality of life.”

Other Stories of Interest

Supreme Court’s November Cases and the Continued Search for the Evolving Standards of Decency in Criminal Punishment

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.

US_Supreme_Court

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

With only a pair of criminal cases on the Oral Argument docket in November, the Court will primarily focus on civil and administrative cases. One of the criminal cases, Beckler v. United States, involves a question of interest probably only to some prosecutors and judges: whether the career offender sentencing guidelines defining a “crime of violence” warranting a sentence enhancement is unconstitutionally vague. The Court last year invalidated a similar clause (violent felony) in the Armed Career Criminal Act on that ground.

The other case, Moore v. Texas, involves yet another 8th Amendment Cruel and Unusual Punishment issue on the permissible medical standards for intellectual disability regarding a defendant’s fitness for execution.  The case involves another question which will probably not be resolved because of the absence of a Justice to fill Antonin Scalia’s seat. That question is whether long term solitary confinement on death row is itself unconstitutional as cruel and unusual.

In 1980 Bobby James Moore, age 20, shotgunned a grocery clerk to death in a robbery attempt. He was convicted and sentenced to death. Since that time he has spent more than 35 years in solitary confinement in a 60 square foot iron cell for 22 and ½ hours a day. He has no TV or association with other inmates. The medical and psychological effect of this kind of incarceration has been studied extensively, and some of the results show a deterioration ranging from mild mental disability to psychosis. In short some experts consider this to be a modern version of torture.

But can the time expended on repeated postponements caused by the defendant’s own pursuits in the Byzantine appeals process in capital cases be equated with government “torture?”

It is a gruesomely fascinating exercise to trace the evolution of torture as a means to punish. Four thousand years ago the Code of Hammurabi codified punishments for particular crimes. Various penalties were prescribed, including an “eye for an eye,” ripping tongues out for false testimony, and skinning perpetrators alive.

A few centuries later the ancient Hebrews employed crucifixion, being thrown off cliffs, stoning, being burned alive, and being sawn in half. The classical Greeks used the Rack, the Wheel, and an early version of the Iron Maiden as forms of punishment. In their time the Romans imposed punishments of whipping, strappado, and a very inventive one involving being placed in a bag with poisonous snakes and dropped into the water. Trials by ordeal were encouraged by the Roman Catholic Church during the Middle Ages, as well as water boarding and mutilation by various specially designed tools.

During the 1700s almost all forms of torture were abolished in most European countries, but as late as a decade ago Human Rights Watch and the United Nations reported that dozens of countries still use torture as punishment. Today over three dozen nations have abolished the death penalty, but about 60 countries still include the ultimate punishment. Some of them, however, use it sparingly.

Read more »

Parker: The Supreme Court’s November Cases and the Continued Search for the Evolving Standards of Decency in Criminal Punishment

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.

US_Supreme_Court

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

With only a pair of criminal cases on the Oral Argument docket in November, the Court will primarily focus on civil and administrative cases. One of the criminal cases, Beckler v. United States, involves a question of interest probably only to some prosecutors and judges: whether the career offender sentencing guidelines defining a “crime of violence” warranting a sentence enhancement is unconstitutionally vague. The Court last year invalidated a similar clause (violent felony) in the Armed Career Criminal Act on that ground.

The other case, Moore v. Texas, involves yet another 8th Amendment Cruel and Unusual Punishment issue on the permissible medical standards for intellectual disability regarding a defendant’s fitness for execution.  The case involves another question which will probably not be resolved because of the absence of a Justice to fill Antonin Scalia’s seat. That question is whether long term solitary confinement on death row is itself unconstitutional as cruel and unusual.

In 1980 Bobby James Moore, age 20, shotgunned a grocery clerk to death in a robbery attempt. He was convicted and sentenced to death. Since that time he has spent more than 35 years in solitary confinement in a 60 square foot iron cell for 22 and ½ hours a day. He has no TV or association with other inmates. The medical and psychological effect of this kind of incarceration has been studied extensively, and some of the results show a deterioration ranging from mild mental disability to psychosis. In short some experts consider this to be a modern version of torture.

But can the time expended on repeated postponements caused by the defendant’s own pursuits in the Byzantine appeals process in capital cases be equated with government “torture?”

It is a gruesomely fascinating exercise to trace the evolution of torture as a means to punish. Four thousand years ago the Code of Hammurabi codified punishments for particular crimes. Various penalties were prescribed, including an “eye for an eye,” ripping tongues out for false testimony, and skinning perpetrators alive.

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

A few centuries later the ancient Hebrews employed crucifixion, being thrown off cliffs, stoning, being burned alive, and being sawn in half. The classical Greeks used the Rack, the Wheel, and an early version of the Iron Maiden as forms of punishment. In their time the Romans imposed punishments of whipping, strappado, and a very inventive one involving being placed in a bag with poisonous snakes and dropped into the water. Trials by ordeal were encouraged by the Roman Catholic Church during the Middle Ages, as well as water boarding and mutilation by various specially designed tools.

During the 1700s almost all forms of torture were abolished in most European countries, but as late as a decade ago Human Rights Watch and the United Nations reported that dozens of countries still use torture as punishment. Today over three dozen nations have abolished the death penalty, but about 60 countries still include the ultimate punishment. Some of them, however, use it sparingly.

Read more »

FBI Director Comey Not Expected to Go Anywhere When Trump Becomes President

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized FBI Director James Comey for his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

But in January, Trump is going to have to work with Comey, who is in the third year of a 10-year-term. It could be awkward.

Comey is unlikely to go anywhere, the Washington Post reports, citing officials close to the FBI director.

When Comey announced Clinton would not be prosecuted in July, Trump blamed a rigged justice system.

“It’s a bribe,” tweeted Trump. “Very very unfair! As usual, bad judgment.”

But for Comey to succeed, he will have to form a better relationship with the president-elect, said James O. Pasco, the executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police, which endorsed Trump.

“The thing about Comey is that he set himself up as a man who reports to no one,” Pasco said. “Because he reports to no one, he feels empowered to just act with his own voice. I think it’s important for any public servant to be responsive to the people that the public has elected to represent them. And I think if he does that, he’ll probably be okay.”

Secret Service to Boost Security Around Trump Tower Amid Protests

Trump Tower

Trump Tower

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Secret Service ad NYPD are boosting security around Trump Tower, where Donald Trump lives, because of protests targeting the building.

The tower all is expected to be the president-elect’s base of operations to prepare for his transition to the White House, NBC New York reports. 

NYPD said the department is “assisting the Secret Service with security measures for the President-elect.”

The Secret Service also will handle Trump’s personal security.

The extra security is intended to help with crowd control as protests continue to break out in New York.

A Very Different Justice Department Expected under Trump Presidency

Rudolph Giuliani

Rudolph Giuliani

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Donald Trump presidency likely means a very different Department of Justice, which had focused on civil rights issues under President Obama.

That means potentially dramatic changes in the leadership at the DOJ, the New York Times reports. 

Career lawyers who handle prosecutions in the Justice Department are the least likely to be affected because they handle the day-to-day work of prosecuting cases.

Many are speculating that the new attorney general will be Rudolph Giuliani, the former mayor of New York. The new AG will have the authority to implement new priorities.

Because of Trump’s promised tax cuts, there likely will be fewer resources in the Justice Department, and that could mean devoting less time to white-collar crime, which takes a significant amount of time.