How Appealing

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

“Perfect example of why torture is a failed tactic: A recent court ruling shows how the FBI allegedly threatened to use torture to coerce a terror suspect into a false confession.” The Denver Post today contains an editorial that begins, “The next time you hear ‘Trust us’ from the Bush administration when it comes to fighting the war on terrorism, think of Abdallah Higazy. A federal appeals court ruling issued recently revealed details of how an FBI interrogator is said to have coerced Higazy into confessing to a crime he didn’t commit. The ruling from the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals gave Higazy the legal footing to sue the FBI over his treatment. A version of the ruling on the court’s website last week was quickly replaced with a redacted version omitting the embarrassing details. But the early version gave the public a window on the tactics this administration is accused of using to pursue suspected terrorists. It’s another compelling example of why federal lawmakers need to push for oversight and greater disclosure of the methods the administration uses.”

The original version of the Second Circuit‘s ruling remains available online at this link.

Posted at 11:14 PM by Howard Bashman

Did these federal district courts properly decide to order that a criminal defendant be involuntarily medicated in order to be competent to stand trial? In a case from Louisiana, the Fifth Circuit answered “yes” in this decision issued today.

And in a case from California, the Ninth Circuit answered “no” in this decision issued today.

Posted at 8:55 PM by Howard Bashman

“Father of slain Marine wins case against funeral protesters; Pa. man awarded $2.9 million in compensatory damages”: The Baltimore Sun provides a news update that begins, “Albert Snyder of York, Pa., the father of a Westminster Marine who was killed in Iraq, today won his case in a Baltimore federal court against members of Topeka, Kan.-based Westboro Baptist Church who protested at his son’s funeral last year. The jury of five women and four men awarded Snyder $2.9 million in compensatory damages. The amount of punitive damages to be awarded has not yet been decided. The jury deliberated for about two hours yesterday and much of today.”

And The Associated Press reports that “Jury Awards Father $2.9M in Funeral Case.”

Update: Later today, as updated versions of the articles linked above confirm, the jury’s award increased to nearly $11 million after the jury announced, following further deliberations, that it was also awarding $6 million in punitive damages for invasion of privacy and $2 million for emotional distress.

Posted at 5:10 PM by Howard Bashman

“Former Detroit Prosecutor Acquitted”: The Associated Press provides a report that begins, “A jury has acquitted a former federal prosecutor of withholding evidence in the nation’s first major terrorism trial after Sept. 11.”

The Detroit News provides an update headlined “Exonerated Convertino: Prosecution of terror case ‘politically motivated.’

And The Detroit Free Press provides a news update headlined “Jury: Convertino not guilty on all charges.”

Posted at 5:02 PM by Howard Bashman

“Law grads face off at high court: Pat Diamond and Ben Butler, both Law School alumni, will present to the Supreme Court on opposing sides.” The Minnesota Daily today contains an article that begins, “When oral arguments begin today in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, it’s clear history will be made – not just in terms of the eventual decision, but because of who’s squaring off in the courtroom. That’s because two University Law School alumni – Pat Diamond, Hennepin County attorney who graduated from the school in 1986, and Ben Butler, state public defender who graduated in 2001 – are representing opposing sides in what promises to be an intriguing case with nationwide implications. Cynthia Huff, Law School spokeswoman, said it’s the first time in recent history that anyone at the school knows of where two University Law School alumni have faced each other before the U.S. Supreme Court. ”

Posted at 4:11 PM by Howard Bashman

“October Ends With No Executions in US”: Mark Sherman of The Associated Press provides a report that begins, “For the first time in nearly three years, a month passed with no executions in the United States.” Of course, because October doesn’t end until midnight, the article’s claim could be seen as premature.

Posted at 3:54 PM by Howard Bashman

“There is no provision in the rules of procedure for a district court to predict that an appellate court will find an appeal frivolous and to set a bond for costs on appeal based on an estimate of what ‘just damages’ and costs the appellate court might award.” I guess it’s too much to expect that a trial judge will always rejoice at the prospect of appellate review, but it’s never ceased to amaze me the extent to which some trial judges will go to try to prevent a party from obtaining appellate review.

I related one such scenario in a recent installment of my “On Appeal” column for headlined “May a Trial Court Force the Parties to Waive Appellate Review?

Today, in an entirely separate case, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has vacated a federal district court’s order requiring the appellant to post an appeal bond in the amount of $150,000 just to obtain appellate review. The proper amount of an appeal bond in that case, today’s Fifth Circuit ruling holds, is $1,000.

Posted at 3:34 PM by Howard Bashman

“Court: Former Ill. Gov Must Go to Jail.” The Associated Press provides a report that begins, “A federal appeals court on Wednesday denied former Gov. George Ryan’s request to remain free on bail while he appeals his conviction on corruption charges. The ruling means Ryan will likely have to go to prison next week.”

The Chicago Tribune provides a news update headlined “Ryan a step closer to prison.”

And The Chicago Sun-Times provides a news update headlined “Appeals court refuses Ryan bond, says must go to prison next week; ‘End of the line’ for Ryan, judge says.”

Today’s Seventh Circuit rulings in this case consist of a decision refusing to allow the defendants to continue to remain on bail and a decision refusing to issue a stay of the Seventh Circuit’s appellate mandate.

Posted at 2:50 PM by Howard Bashman

“What does the Supreme Court really do?” At “SCOTUSblog,” Lyle Denniston has this post reporting on today’s U.S. Supreme Court oral argument in Danforth v. Minnesota.

Posted at 1:02 PM by Howard Bashman

“Fury at vote reflects a politicized process”: Yesterday in The Boston Globe, columnist Peter Canellos had an essay that begins, “Last week, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California either created ‘a miracle of bipartisanship,’ in the words of the Hattiesburg American, a Mississippi newspaper, or committed a ‘slap in the face to African-Americans and people of good will,’ in the words of Wade Henderson of the liberal-leaning Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. Feinstein, a Democrat, voted with Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to advance President Bush’s nomination of Leslie Southwick, a former Mississippi state court judge, to the federal appeals court for his region.”

Posted at 11:12 AM by Howard Bashman

“Court overturns ban on Ind. House prayer”: The Indianapolis Star today contains an article that begins, “Sectarian prayers, including those to Jesus Christ, could return to the front of the Indiana House chamber after a court ruling Tuesday, but opponents warned of a legal challenge if that happens.”

The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne, Indiana reports today that “House prayer ban falls on appeal; Court finds plaintiffs have no legal right to sue.”

And The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that “Limits on House prayers lifted; Plaintiffs don’t have standing, court says.”

My earlier coverage of yesterday’s Seventh Circuit ruling appears at this link.

Posted at 10:00 AM by Howard Bashman

“Reprieve: U.S. Supreme Court halts execution of Miss. man.” This article appears today in The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Mississippi, along with articles headlined “Victim’s spouse must endure longer wait for justice” and “Death penalty protesters rejoice at stay of execution.”

Joan Biskupic of USA Today reports that “Supreme Court halts Miss. execution.”

Greg Stohr of Bloomberg News reports that “High Court Signals Execution Halt During Lethal-Injection Case.”

And James Vicini of Reuters reports that “Mississippi death row inmate gets last-minute stay.”

Posted at 9:15 AM by Howard Bashman

“Jury gets 2 views of terror prosecutor”: The Detroit News today contains an article that begins, “The Justice Department says Richard Convertino was a politically ambitious federal prosecutor willing to break the law to notch a high-profile terrorism case under his belt. Convertino’s lawyer says he was an overworked hero fighting to make Americans safe from radicals plotting to harm them. Today, jurors begin deciding which picture is accurate after a full day of emotionally charged closing arguments Tuesday.”

The Detroit Free Press reports today that “Terror prosecutor faces judgment; Corruption case goes to jury today.”

And The New York Times reports that “Ex-Prosecutor ‘Crossed Over the Line,’ Jury Is Told.”

Posted at 9:10 AM by Howard Bashman

“California may be forced to redesign executions; A decision to toss latest plan would increase uncertainty over state’s death penalty, already on hold because of a constitutional challenge”: Henry Weinstein has this article today in The Los Angeles Times.

Today in The San Francisco Chronicle, Bob Egelko reports that “State’s new lethal injection procedures ruled invalid.”

And The Marin Independent Journal reports that “Marin judge ready to toss new method of execution.”

Posted at 9:05 AM by Howard Bashman

“An isolated case: The fall of a renowned class-action lawyer isn’t evidence for curtailing such lawsuits.” This editorial appears today in The Los Angeles Times.

Posted at 8:55 AM by Howard Bashman

“Jury sees video of funeral protest; Five women and four men begin weighing lawsuit by Marine’s family against church”: The Baltimore Sun today contains an article that begins, “The father of a young Marine killed in Iraq wept repeatedly in federal court in Baltimore yesterday as a jury watched video images of members of a Kansas church protesting the military’s inclusion of homosexuals by picketing his son’s Westminster funeral. The videos provided an emotional ending to the evidence portion of the weeklong trial in U.S. District Court. Albert Snyder of York, Pa., the Marine’s father, is attempting to be the first in the nation to hold members of Topeka-based Westboro Baptist Church legally liable for their shock protests at military funerals.”

Posted at 8:44 AM by Howard Bashman

“Justices Hear Arguments on Internet Pornography Law”: Linda Greenhouse has this article today in The New York Times.

Today in The Washington Post, Robert Barnes reports that “High Court Surveys Child Pornography Law’s Scope.”

David G. Savage of The Los Angeles Times reports that “High court weighs child porn law; Justices seek to establish whether a tool to punish online purveyors of illegal pictures infringes on the 1st Amendment.”

In USA Today, Joan Biskupic reports that “Court puts child porn law to test; Justices appear skeptical of challengers’ arguments.”

In The Chicago Tribune, James Oliphant reports that “Child porn law goes to high court; Critics say statute too broad to stand.”

And The Miami Herald reports that “Child-porn law debated; The attorney for a former Miami-Dade officer argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that a law to curb child pornography is too broad.”

Posted at 8:34 AM by Howard Bashman

“Judge Who Lost Pant Suit Loses Job”: The Washington Post today contains an article that begins, “Roy L. Pearson Jr., the administrative law judge who lost his $54 million lawsuit against a Northeast Washington dry cleaner, lost his job yesterday and was ordered to vacate his office, sources said. Pearson, 57, who had served as a judge for two years, was up for a 10-year term at the Office of Administrative Hearings, but a judicial committee last week voted against reappointing him. The panel had a seven-page letter hand-delivered to Pearson about 3:30 p.m., directing him to leave his office by 5 p.m. Pearson’s term ended in May, at the height of his battle with the dry cleaners. Since then, he has remained on the payroll, making $100,000 a year as an attorney adviser. A source familiar with the committee’s meetings said Pearson’s lawsuit played little role in the decision not to reappoint him.”

Posted at 8:30 AM by Howard Bashman

“When Judges Attack! The war president is finding a less pliant judiciary.” Nat Hentoff has this essay in the current issue of The Village Voice.

Posted at 8:28 AM by Howard Bashman

“Federal Appeals Court to Hear ‘Enemy Combatant’ Case”: The Washington Post provides a news update that begins, “The battle over President Bush’s power to indefinitely detain a U.S. resident without charge moves to the full federal appeals court in Richmond this morning, as the judges consider the case of Qatari national Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled in June that Bush had overreached his authority when he declared Marri an ‘enemy combatant’ and that the Constitution protects U.S. citizens and legal residents such as Marri from unchecked military power. The administration is now appealing to the full court, which will hear arguments from both sides.”

Today in The Christian Science Monitor, Warren Richey reports that “Appeals court weighs who’s an enemy combatant; Enemy combatant Marri says the US can’t hold him without charge indefinitely.”

And The Peoria Journal Star reports that “Al-Marri challenges Bush’s war on terror; Judges to decide whether ex-West Peorian can be held as an ‘enemy combatant.’

My earlier coverage of the original three-judge panel’s ruling in the case can be accessed here, here, and here.

Posted at 8:25 AM by Howard Bashman

“Mukasey Calls Harsh Interrogation ‘Repugnant'”: The New York Times contains this article today.

Today in The Washington Post, Dan Eggen has a front page article headlined “Mukasey Losing Democrats’ Backing; Nominee Unsure If Waterboarding Breaks Torture Law.”

The Los Angeles Times reports that “Mukasey’s reply draws more fire; The attorney general nominee declines to call water-boarding torture, as Democrats on Senate panel had sought.”

Marisa Taylor of McClatchy Newspapers reports that “Mukasey calls waterboarding repugnant but declines to say it’s illegal.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that “Mukasey Riles Backers On Waterboarding Issue.”

The New York Sun reports that “Mukasey’s Fate Now in Doubt in the Senate.” The newspaper also contains an editorial entitled “Mukasey’s Mettle.”

James Rowley of Bloomberg News reports that “Mukasey Vote for Attorney General May Be Closer Than Predicted.”

And The Washington Times contains an editorial entitled “The Mukasey test.”

Posted at 8:07 AM by Howard Bashman

“Some Respite, if Little Cheer, for Skid Row Homeless”: This article, reporting on Los Angeles, appears today in The New York Times.

Posted at 8:04 AM by Howard Bashman

“Roots of False Confession: Spotlight Is Now on the F.B.I.” The New York Times today contains an article that begins, “This month, Abdallah Higazy managed to crawl from the landslide of forgotten history on a slow-motion journey toward the truth.”

The article refers to the original, now-withdrawn version of the Second Circuit‘s ruling in the case, which I have posted online at this link.

Posted at 8:00 AM by Howard Bashman