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Friday Roundup

Connect the dots.  First this:  On Tuesday, in State v. Prade, the Ohio Supreme Court reversed a lower court determination that a defendant wasn't entitled to new DNA testing.  Prade had been convicted of killing his wife, a doctor, and the lab coat she was wearing at the time she was killed showed a bite mark, but DNA testing at the time couldn't isolate the killer's DNA from the blood of the victim.  Prade filed a motion in 2008 arguing that new technology could do so, but the trial and appellate courts found that he wasn't entitled to a new test because the statute didn't permit one where previous testing was "definitive," and Prade had been "definitively excluded" by the prior test.  The Supreme Court found that the state argued too narrow a meaning of the term; the only reason Prade had been excluded in the previous test was because the test wasn't sophisticated enough to pick out the killer's DNA, and the present tests might be. 

Then this:

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A 52-year-old man who had more than half his life taken away by a wrongful conviction for rape showed no hostility Wednesday as he took his first steps as a free man in 29 years.

Towler entered prison at age 24 for a crime he didn't commit. But two days after DNA tests proved his innocence, the middle-aged man with a salt-and-pepper beard said he doesn't blame anyone for the injustice bestowed upon him.

Then this:

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Modern pressures on the judicial system have raised the chance a defendant could be wrongly sentenced to death, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said Wednesday, explaining his changed view on the constitutionality of capital punishment.

"The risk of an incorrect decision has increased," he told an audience of hundreds of lawyers and judges at a judicial conference here, responding to a question about his 2008 assertion that the death penalty should be abolished. He said that because of advances in DNA testing, which have led to the freeing of some innocent convicts, "we're more aware of the risk than we might have been before."

Adam Walsh Update.  I've mentioned that there are still some major cases in the US Supreme Court that haven't been ruled upon, but there are a few pending in the Ohio Supreme Court, too, probably the most significant of which is the constitutionality of the Adam Walsh Act.  The case was argued last November (discussion here), but I don't see a ruling anytime soon.  The decision was likely to be 4-3, with Tom Moyer being the swing vote, and his death removes that possibility.  New Chief Justice Eric Brown could call for reargument of the case, and probably will, but he's in no hurry to do so.  If you're wondering why, take a look at the calendar, especially November 2, 2010.  That's election day, when Brown and present Justice Maureen O'Connor will face off for the Chief Justice spot.  If you think the Supreme Court is going to make a ruling on something as controversial as sex offender registration before that, you're a lot less cynical than I am.

Time out with the dictionary.  "Paramilitary:  of or relating to a group of civilians organized to function like or to assist a military unit."

I didn't make it through the video below.  It's very blurry at first, but then it gets into focus, and you see the cops, wearing helmets and the normal swat gear, pounding on the door of a home at night, then breaking down the door of and running inside.  You hear barking, then some shots, then the barking stops.  You see some guy on the floor in his underwear, several cops standing over him with their guns trained on him.  You see one of the cops leading a little boy out of the house.

That's when I stopped watching, because I knew how it ended.  Not the video, the story.  This was a drug raid, of course.  The police found an amount of marijuana, but only enough for a misdemeanor charge.

But the prosecutors in Columbia, Missouri, where the raid took place, have a sense of humor, because they charged the husband and wife with endangering children, due to the presence of drugs in the house.  I say they have a sense of humor because it's got to be a joke.  I mean, can you imagine a prosecutor standing in front of a jury and telling them that they should convict a man of endangering his 6-year-old kid by having marijuana in the house, which the police discovered when a group of them broke down the door of the house and rampaged through it waving guns, and shooting the family dogs in front of kid? 

So anyway, watch the video, which I found courtesy of Jeff Gamso's always excellent blog, although he admits that he got it from someplace else, too.  Maybe you'll have the stomach to be able to watch the whole thing.  Hell, I don't know, maybe you'll watch it and think that this is the way things should work, that if this is price we have to pay to get drugs off the street, well, then, this is the price we have to pay.

And I respect your views, but frankly, I think this shit has got to stop.



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