Friday, August 22, 2014

ISIS/ISIL

The espoused rationale for their actions is unrealistic, reflecting an unrealistic thought process.  Braggadocio and threatening is central to their strategic vision, as is typical of the unrealistic, cowardly mind.  Realism will both confuse and defeat them.


The idea that Americans can be threatened into submission should be countered with a photograph of Arlington cemetery.  We don't do submission.  ISIS/ISIL, you will be hearing from us soon.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Syria Comes Home to Roost

My last post on Syria (see below) was almost 2 years ago. Precisely what I predicted has come true.

Our electorate has become used to exaggerations, half-truths, and worse from elected representatives, aspiring politicians, and political parties in their incessant fundraising communications and continuous election cycles. They have come to believe that winning by any means is justified rather than being beaten in a key election by ideological and political opponents.

Now we hear that a large segment of the President's own base supporters do not believe either him or Secretary Kerry in their roll out of factual justification for a strike on Syria. They suspect spinning and manipulation to support a political agenda. See here.

Once credibility is lost, it cannot be regained. This is a serious situation.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Boston Marathon Bombers Gain Infamy

Whatever drives young men like Adam Lanza to ruthlessly kill scores of innocents as a prelude to his own suicide, the publicity and infamy he gained by doing so almost certainly figured in. Even if the Boston bombers turn out to have been terrorists working with others, their ability on their own to stop the city in its tracks, gain instant worldwide attention, and achieve perpetual infamy will not go unnoticed. Mass murder should not be such an easy means to ends like these. Somehow, we need to figure out a way to avoid giving savagery the rewards it seeks.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Egyptian Epiphany

Well, it's been over a year since my last post, and almost everything I predicted has come true.  These days, I'm particularly struck by the turn of events in Egypt, where holocaust deniers are now in power as the result of what has been mistakenly called "democracy." The popular vote ensures the tyranny of the majority rather than the protection the U.S. constitution affords minorities.  Geez, haven't our own elected leaders ever studied civics?  We better figure this out quickly, or American military might as directed by clueless leaders will destroy everything our forefathers created and countless of our fellow citizens have given their lives for.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Where Does the Killing End in Libya?

Ghadafi's son, Saif al-Islam, now faces the death penalty. The International Criminal Court has apparently given up. We'll see how long it takes for the new regime in Libya, whatever it turns out to be, to do to him what the mob did to his father. Premeditated killing by any government or individual is just that and nothing more noble or justified. If it's not self defense or war, it's just plain homicide.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Now It's Syria's Turn

After the summary executions of Saddam Hussein and Moammar Gadhafi, should we expect anything else from the Assad government of Syria? The civilian death toll will almost certainly continue to mount. The rule of law is nowhere to be seen in any of this. Executions beget executions beget executions. These people will never step down, and they will not let the situation get as far out of hand as Gadhafi did.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Messenger Does the Killing

The circumstances of Moammar Gadhafi's killing are very disturbing on a number of levels. If there is any "message" here to other tyrants, it will certainly be confused with the messenger. Killing begets killing. Executions beget executions. How likely has it now become that other autocrats will "trust the system" if they cooperate and step down? The iron fist will only be clenched harder, and the rule of law will have no place in any of this. How probable is it that there will be no more summary executions in Libya? The perpetrators will call it justice, but it has another less noble name: homicide. To be continued. . . .

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Gadhafi Gets the Death Penalty on the Spot

Moammar Gadhafi's summary execution cannot be a good thing in the eyes of those who promote and value the rule of law. Time will tell, but I believe it was not prudent for our President to be praising the Libyan revolution and the NTC in the immediate aftermath of this brutal killing. Whatever precedent it sets cannot possibly bode well for the future. Our nation and its leadership need to rise above reveling in the worst manifestations of human misbehavior.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Isn't it ironic?

The strongest argument in favor of the death penalty is generally agreed to be its deterrent effect. Isn't it ironic that the huge smiling face of Jared L. Loughner appears on the front page of today's New York Times?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Premeditated Homicide by Firing Squad

Here is an excerpt from an extremely well done piece by Timothy Egan from today's New York Times Opinionator:
Around midnight last Friday the shoeless prisoner was roused from a nap and strapped into a chair. The guards put a patch over his heart, the firing squad’s target from 25 feet. Any last words? “I do not. No.” With that, a black hood was placed over the bald head of the condemned man, and the countdown began: five, four, three, two, one. Each of the five gunmen squeezed off a shot from a .30 caliber rifle, though one was firing a blank. At once, four bullets entered the chest of Ronnie Lee Gardner. His fist clenched. The fist opened. A few minutes later, his pulse was checked. The deed was done: the state of Utah had killed the killer. ************** Ronnie Lee Gardner was no martyr, no wronged man. His life was trouble and pain from the beginning. Drug and alcohol abuse. Random violence. Robberies, and two murders of people who had the misfortune to get in his way. “He believes he needs to pay for what he’s done,” the killer’s daughter, Brandie Gardner, told reporters before the execution. “But at the same time, people should know that what they’re doing is murder.” That’s really the heart of this debate, and always has been: is it murder for society to take a life?
It may not be "murder," but it is most definitely premeditated homicide, as this execution by firing squad vividly illustrates.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Death Penalty on (Mock) Trial

This mock trial looks very interesting indeed. Premeditated homicide seems evil to me all day long. And no, I'm not talking about war or self defense.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Death Penalty Wake Up Call in Iran

Iran's use of the death penalty to eliminate political opposition should give fair warning to all freedom loving countries of just how dangerous legalized killing can be. Consider this report:
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran on Thursday executed two men accused of involvement in an armed anti-government group, as the public prosecutor announced that new death sentences have been issued against opposition activists involved in protests over June's disputed presidential election. The two men, who were hanged before dawn Tuesday, did not appear to be connected to the postelection protests - at least one of them was arrested before the election,according to his lawyer. But state media depicted the two as part of the protest movement, a sign of how the government has lumped together many of its enemies with the political opposition amid its postelection crackdown. The media's depiction of the executions may aim to intimidate the opposition ahead of new street demonstrations expected in February. In a further move likely aimed at cowing protesters, Tehran's prosecutor announced that five people have been sentenced to death for involvement in the most recent major demonstrations, on Dec. 27. That day saw the worst violence of postelection crackdown, with at least eight people killed in clashes between police and protesters and hundreds arrested.
The new verdicts raise to nine the number of people sentenced to death for involvement in protests, said the prosecutor, Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi. The two men who were executed, Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani and Arash Rahmanipour, were convicted by a Revolutionary Court of belonging to "counterrevolutionary and monarchist groups," plotting to overthrow "the Islamic establishment" and planning assassinations and bombings, Dowlatabadi told state TV.
Note in particular the reference to planned "assassinations and bombings" as additional justification for imposition of the death penalty.

Monday, January 25, 2010

What Is Wrong With the Death Penalty?

Two words: premeditated homicide. Premeditation, the same thing that serves as the most aggravating of all factors in capital sentencing hearings, dominates every execution. It's just not for me.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

KSM Spells Bad News for U.S. Citizen Defendants in Death Penalty Cases

I know a lot of people are concerned that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and his cohorts might somehow benefit from the procedural protections afforded to U.S. criminal defendants under our Constitution, particularly in capital cases. My greater concern is precisely the opposite. I think it is by far more probable that these protections will be disregarded or seriously diluted in pursuit of a supposed “greater good,” namely, the conviction and execution of these terrorist war criminals. As Attorney General Holder has made clear, failure to convict and execute them is not an option. As President Obama has pronounced, these defendants will be convicted and sentenced to death. This is not the “rule of law” in action. Indeed, this kind of conduct by the President and his Attorney General in any other civilian capital case would be unthinkably inappropriate. In making his hard nosed pronouncements, President Obama is not acting in a manner befitting the Chief Executive Officer of the United States. However, these same pronouncements would be understandably appropriate coming from him as the Commander in Chief of our armed forces convening a military tribunal to consider the fate of foreign criminal combatants who crossed our borders to murder thousands of our innocent citizens. My problem is that the lines between the military and civilian worlds are becoming dangerously blurred here. We can no more afford to have military imperatives dominate our civil justice system than we can to have domestic civil justice imperatives trump the mission of our armed forces. If there is still time to reconsider, we should not take this leap into the unknown without a further round of careful deliberations by our elected legislative representatives in the House and Senate. It is far too important a subject to leave to the Executive Branch of our federal government, except as it may fall within the scope of the President’s duties as Commander in Chief of our armed forces with respect to military tribunals.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Shocking Death Penalty Pretrial Publicity Campaign Waged by Our Nation's Top Officers

Here is how the New York Daily News reported on Attorney General Eric Holder's testimony today before the Senate defending his decision to conduct the capital trials of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and his cohorts in federal court in downtown Manhattan, along with the supporting comments of the President:
WASHINGTON - President Obama played chief prosecutor in the looming New York City 9/11 trial today, predicting critics will shut up when Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is convicted and executed for masterminding the attacks. "I don't think it would be offensive at all when he's convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him," Obama told NBC News.
If a U.S. federal prosecutor in any other capital case pending in federal court were to make these kinds of remarks in public, let alone openly to the people of the United States, there would be serious ethical concerns raised about injurious pretrial publicity. Worse, here is the response of AG Holder to criticism from Sen. Sessions for his decision to conduct these trials in civilian criminal court, made to the elected Senatorial representatives of the people of the United States:
But Holder scoffed at that, insisting KSM's voice and "hateful ideologies" will be no louder in civilian court than in a military commission. "We need not cower in the face of this enemy," Holder said. If KSM repeats his earlier rants in the courthouse at the U.S. naval base in Cuba, "the nation and world will see him for the coward he is," the attorney general added. "I'm not scared of what KSM has to say at trial - and no one else needs to be afraid, either."
If these remarks from the President and the Attorney General are not specifically intended to incriminate the defendants here and to promote highly prejudicial pretrial publicity in aid of pursuing the death penalty for them, then I'm a monkey's uncle. If this is to become acceptable ethical precedent for prosecutors in future U.S. capital litigation, the damage caused by our Chief Executive and his Chief Prosecutor will be staggering. The real issue here is whether these defendants should be tried in domestic criminal courts at all. Bad facts make bad law. We should think twice before we let the facts of war make law for our own citizens.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Iran Gets In the Death Penalty for Terrorists Game

Iran has sentenced five people to death for their actions in the recent post election turmoil. Here is an excerpt from the full AP report :
A Justice Department statement said the five sentenced to death were members of "terrorist and armed opposition groups," state television reported. The statement said the courts have sentenced a total of 89 defendants since the process began and 81 of them got prison terms ranging from six months up to 15 years.

I wonder how long it will take for Iran to carry out these executions? It looks like the game of trying and executing "terrorists" is in full swing now. Our own Justice Department will get its turn at bat soon enough in federal court in downtown Manhattan. It's a good thing that we know for sure we have the right guys and that their crimes were so severe. Otherwise, we invite comparisons with how Iran tries and executes terrorists. For its part, Iran will no doubt contend that it nipped murderous violence in the bud before it could be carried out.

Are domestic civilian criminal courts the right place for trying and executing foreign terrorists?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Death Penalty on Parade!

It's been a couple of years since my last post, but this deveopment has my full attention. Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement that accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four alleged accomplices will be tried in New York federal court and that the government will seek the death penalty sets the stage for the most colossal show trials and executions since Saddam Hussein and his cohorts. Let's see how we do it compared to the Iraqis! Aside from issues of guilt, will there be a mitigation case developed for capital sentencing? The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bobby v. Van Hook downplaying the significance of American Bar Association guidelines setting forth minimum standards for effective death penalty representation seems ominously timed. The amount of damage these trials, which seem almost predestined to end with executions, will do to the rest of the capital litigation trial and appellate system in the U.S. remains to be seen, but I am not optimistic at all. For starters, anyone hoping that the federal death penalty will be abolished any time soon should forget about it. Stay tuned here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Execution or political assassination?

What can we learn about the death penalty from the report below? Note the contention of the defendant's son that his father was the victim of a "political assassination." Note also that the trial court sentence of life imprisonment was overruled on appeal as being too light. I also find it interesting that the Prime Minister's adviser not only spoke about how terrified the defendant was as he was led to the gallows, but also opined that the execution was not marred by unseemly problems. Does the Iraqi government always get it right? Does any government always get it right? The whole thing is so macabre that I am left without anything more to say.

SADDAM Hussein's vice-president was hanged yesterday despite protests by human rights groups that the evidence was weak and the sentence unfair. Taha Yassin Ramadan, the highest-ranking person from Saddam's government to be executed after the former president, was fearful as he was led to the gallows, said Bassam Ridha, adviser to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

"He was scared, terrified, very terrified," Mr Ridha said. However, Mr Ridha said the hanging was not plagued by the problems that marred the executions of Saddam and his half-brother, which outraged Iraqis* * * *

Ramadan was convicted in November along with six others, including Saddam, for his role in the 1982 massacre of 148 Shiites in a small town north of Baghdad after an assassination attempt on the Iraqi president.

The trial court that sentenced Saddam to death sentenced Ramadan to life in prison, but an appeals court ruled the punishment was too light. The trial court then sentenced him to death last month. Despite being a senior official in the Saddam regime, Ramadan was a relatively minor figure in the trial. The accusations against him largely centred on his order that orchards and fields in the Dujayl area be bulldozed, and evidence was presented about his participation in meetings with other leaders who were more culpable in the massacres* * * *

"The trial was riddled with flaws and didn't meet international standards," said Sara Dareshori, senior counsel with Human Rights Watch in New York. Ramadan's son, Ahmad, said his father would be buried in the area of the Iraqi city of Tikrit near Saddam's burial place.

"It was not an execution. It was a political assassination," Ramadan's son told al-Jazeera television by telephone from the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Skadden, Arps does some good!

I love seeing press releases like this one. All too often they do not get picked up and reported anywhere. Here, they are headlines!
LOS ANGELES, March 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Public Counsel, the largest probono public interest law firm in the world, announced today that it will name its nationally recognized Guardianship & Conservatorship Clinic in honor of the international law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, which made a gift of $200,000 to endow the program. The Clinic will now be known as the Skadden, Arps' Guardianship & Conservatorship Clinic.
Hats off to Skadden, Arps.

Friday, March 09, 2007

More dangerous vilification of Gitmo lawyers

Here is some dangerous rhetoric from a Wall Street Journal commentary regarding legal services provided by Shearman & Sterling to a former Guantanamo detainee:
Shearman & Sterling lawyers aren't hucksters crassly promoting a cheap product; they are sworn officers of the court volunteering to represent alien enemy combatants in a time of war, interjecting themselves in cases that affect how American soldiers on the battlefield do their job. It is one thing to take these cases in order to achieve the proper balance between due process concerns and unprecedented national security issues. It is another to hire PR and marketing consultants to create image makeovers for suspected al Qaeda financiers, foot soldiers, weapons trainers and bomb makers, all of which is financed by millions of dollars from a foreign country enmeshed in the anti-American, anti-Israel elements of Middle East politics.
Please note my emphasis upon the word "suspected" in the excerpt above. Our legal system is just that--a system. How about waiting until a suspect is convicted before vilifying everyone in sight? Maybe the government never gets it wrong, and maybe some citizens have crystal balls which accurately tell them in advance who is guilty and who is not, but I don't think so. There's nothing even remotely wrong with allowing "suspected" enemy combatants to retain whatever lawyers or other professionals they want. This sounds like Cully Stimson all over again, only this time voicing an objection to lawyers and professionals representing paying clients who are wildly unpopular. The day when "suspects" are denied rights to counsel and vigorous rehabilitation of their impugned reputations may be just around the corner.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Help With The "Walter Reed" Problem

There is no excuse for allowing any single one of our fallen heroes to slip through the cracks of bureaucratic stupidity. These young men and women are all volunteers. They deserve at least the A-1 care that each of our elected officials and civil servants get.All of our Congressional Representatives and Senators should quit posturing and authorize immediately the following:
  • Include any member of the armed services serving in Iraq and Afghanistan who has been injured or contracted an illness in the line of duty in the Congressional Health Care Program; and
  • Provide each such member with a volunteer advocate who is an experienced attorney, trained in healthcare law who can help the member steer through any remaining bureaucratic bullsh**.
  • Benjamin Franklin Legal Foundation is now recruiting volunteers for the advocacy program, whether or not Congress acts on the first part of this suggestion.

Please let me know by email or comment if you are willing to help by publicizing this idea or otherwise.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

This is disturbing

I'm not entirely sure how to take the sentiment conveyed in this recent post from the widely respected and enormously popular Power Line blog:

I concluded my post just below on the NFL's decision not to allow the U.S. Border Patrol to run a seemingly uncontroversial recruiting ad at the Super Bowl by suggesting a disconnect between corporate American and "real America." Good evidence of that disconnect is found in the saga of former Assistant Secretary of Defense Charles "Cully" Stimson. Most readers will recall that Stimson predicted or warned that elite law firms representing Gitmo detainees would lose business as a result of their pro bono work. But, as Stimson should have expected, corporate America stood behind its elite law firms, and Stimson apologized and soon thereafter resigned.

These days, the mentality manifested by elite corporations is quite similar to, but in some respects slightly more "progressive" (i.e. out-of-touch) than, that of the elite lawyers who represent them.

This sounds like a condemnation not only of "elite law firms" who provide pro bono services to highly unpopular clients (like the Guantanamo detainees), but also of the "elite corporations" which have continued to use the services of these law firms (as in "If you think that elite law firms who offer pro bono services to Guantanamo detainees are 'out of-touch', consider the case of the 'more out-of touch' elite corporations which not only continue to hire these lawyers but also oppose Super Bowl recruiting ads by the U.S Border Patrol.) Maybe there is some other more subtle point being argued, but I sure don't see it. The sentiments expressed by Cully Stimson may indeed be shared by others--fair enough in a free speaking society. But when I see these same sentiments reprised in sheep's clothing by other highly educated lawyers, it disturbs me.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

What you see is what you get

The sequel lived up to all expectations. Good thing there was no chanting.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Two of Saddam Hussein's aides were hanged before dawn on Monday, the Iraqi government said, admitting that the head of his half-brother Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti was also ripped from his body during the execution. On the defensive after international uproar over sectarian taunts during the illicitly filmed hanging of the ousted president two weeks ago, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh insisted there was "no violation of procedure" during the executions of Barzan and former judge Awad Hamed al-Bander. But defense lawyers and politicians from Saddam's once dominant Sunni Arab minority expressed fury at the fate of Barzan, Saddam's once feared intelligence chief, and there was also skepticism and condemnation of Iraq's Shi'ite-dominated government across the mostly Sunni-ruled Arab world.

"The convicts were not subjected to any mistreatment," Dabbagh said describing the beheading by the rope as a rare mishap. "Their rights were not violated. There was no chanting."

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Super Bowl of Executions

We are all given a death sentence the moment we are born. Although the time and manner are normally unknown, death is a certainty. Suicide and execution have this in common: both make known the time and manner of death to the victim. Both require the victim to stare death in the eye with the final moments of life ticking off to conclusion. Saddam Hussein's execution was a smash hit reality TV show watched by hundreds of millions of viewers around the world via the internet. This was the all time great execution-- the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Olympics, the World Cup of executions. It was about as good as it gets for executions, what with a notoriously evil mass murderer getting what he deserves and all. There was even some retributive justice thrown in by hecklers who damned him for eternity. Finally, good triumphed over evil. I really cannot agree with those who deplore the fact that Saddam was not executed in a more dignified way. For whose sake should this have been done? Ours or his? I was particularly struck by a question Bill O'Reilly posed to a supposed expert on his TV show about what Saddam's body language suggested as the rope was being placed around his neck. "He looks nervous," she said. Personally, I will never accept execution as being on the good side of any moral equation. I want to live in a society which values and spares life at every practical opportunity. I detest arguing about the death penalty and hearing comparisons with self defense, war, and protecting oneself and family from evildoers. I know I am going to lose this argument every time as surely as I know Saddam's half brother and the judge will soon swing just like he did, only maybe without the heckling (at least not out loud broadcast worldwide over the internet). Logic and argument get nowhere in this game. The only thing that matters is where you stand when the time comes. Who decides how and when we die? Absent some pretty compelling circumstances (yeah, like war and self defense), I don't want to decide how or when anyone dies. I will leave that to the Almighty whatever. In the meantime, I will continue to work shoulder to shoulder with pro bono lawyers around the country in our inalterable opposition to the death penalty.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Chinese pro bono lawyer gives hope to clients

Here is the timely and compelling story of Chen Bulie, a brave Chinese lawyer in the forefront of pro bono efforts in China:

Watching the lawyer Chen Bulei argue his case, it was easy to forget that he was almost certain to lose. Pacing confidently before a packed courtroom in the northeastern Chinese city of Haicheng earlier this year, he scored rhetorical points so deftly that sympathetic onlookers pumped their fists like fans at a sporting event. Chen's client, a 56-year-old talc miner named Zhao Jitian, was on trial for "assembling a mob to disrupt social order"—a politically charged criminal offense often invoked to silence Chinese citizens who band together to air grievances against their employers or the government. Police in Haicheng had arrested Zhao five months earlier after he took part in a demonstration with about 100 other laid-off employees of the Aihai Talc Company to demand benefits they claim the firm had illegally withheld for nearly eight years. It is exceedingly rare for defendants charged with political crimes in China to escape conviction. But with Chen in his corner, brandishing a pocket-sized copy of China's criminal code as he punched hole after hole in the prosecution's charges, it seemed Zhao just might walk out of the courtroom a free man.

We are so fortunate to have our civil liberties, including the right to assemble, that we often take them for granted. Maybe through the pro bono service of lawyers like Chen Bulie we can be reminded of the sacred value of liberty and our own civil rights. Thank a pro bono lawyer if you see one today.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

An absolutely amazing bar association: Broome County, NY

I remember reading about the floods, but I don't remember reading anything about these superhero lawyers. This story is definitely worth reading. Hats off to the Broome County Bar Association. Their selfless pro bono service is inspirational.

Sindy Garey's telephone at the Broome County Bar Association keeps ringing -- five months after floodwaters wrecked local homes and businesses and left people's lives in financial tangles that call for a lawyer's advice.

Flood victims continue to seek free legal advice offered by Broome's bar, although the calls have slowed to about eight to 10 a week on issues ranging from bankruptcy to flood insurance to FEMA appeals, said Garey, executive director of the bar. That's down from a peak of about 40 calls a day for five or six weeks after floodwaters hit June 27.

Garey does legal triage, lining up flood victims with attorneys who are knowledgeable about their particular legal plights. She has a panel of about 70 volunteer attorneys to choose from, all members of Broome's bar, who've made time in their own legal careers to help people whose lives have been turned upside down by floodwaters. In the aftermath of June's flooding, the Broome bar offered victims a 30-minute free legal consultation. The volunteer lawyers, said Kathryn Grant Madigan, president-elect of New York's 70,000-member bar association, went above and beyond the call of pro bono work. New York's bar is the nation's largest voluntary association of lawyers.

Madigan said the Federal Emergency Management Agency was so impressed by how it all worked, it will use New York as a template for other states facing a natural disaster to help them set up systems to provide legal help for victims. "We have an absolutely amazing bar association," said Madigan, a Vestal attorney who coordinated the state and local effort. "They stepped up with no hesitation at all."

Monday, November 20, 2006

The pro bono champion of Canada

is McCarthy Tetrault:
TORONTO, Nov. 16 /CNW/ - McCarthy Tétrault is proud to announce that it garnered the Canadian National Pro Bono Law Firm Award this evening at the first-ever National Pro Bono Conference, being held at the Metropolitan Hotelin Toronto on November 16 and 17, 2006. "While this recognition of our efforts is certainly an honour, we view pro bono work as a responsibility that our firm and the entire legal industry must continue to shoulder," said W. Iain Scott, McCarthy Tétrault Chair and CEO. "We are proud of the $1.2 million in pro bono services that 192 McCarthyTétrault lawyers contributed so far this year to communities across Canada in 2006, but there is still much work to be done. It is our hope that this award serves as an instrument of inspiration and change, beginning with the formation of Pro Bono Law organizations all across Canada."
Well said, Mr. Scott. The entire press release is worth reading. Congratulations to all concerned!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Good Firm Model For Pro Bono

...has been established at Atlanta's Kilpatrick & Stockton by making the Pro Bono Practice a full time Partner's responsibility. Debbie Segal has made that a successful strategy. As noted in the Fulton County Daily Report:
Since Segal joined Kilpatrick, the firm’s annual pro bono hours have almost tripled, from a total of 7,900 hours in 2000 to 27,500 hours last year, she said. Last year’s hours would be worth $8.3 million if charged at billable rates and amounted to 3.3 percent of the firm’s revenue. Eighty-two percent of Kilpatrick’s lawyers worked pro bono at least 20 hours, contributing to the firm’s No. 4 participation ranking and No. 17 overall spot last year in American Lawyer’s annual pro bono survey of the nation’s 200 largest law firms.
Pretty impressive if you ask us!!!!!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Death penalty double clutch

Here's food for thought concerning when the death penalty is appropriate. What exactly justifies seeking imposition of the death penalty? Whatever standards there might be, are they consistently applied?

No death penalty sought in double slaying

By CHRIS BRISTOL YAKIMA HERALD-REPUBLIC

Yakima County Prosecutor Ron Zirkle announced Friday he won't seek the death penalty in the execution-style slaying of a reputed drug dealer and his 3-year-old daughter.

Given pretrial costs of nearly $1.25 million, Zirkle's decision not to seek the death penalty against Junior Sanchez is sure to be seen as controversial. He earlier made the same decision with regard to Sanchez's co-defendant, Mario "Gato" Mendez. The prosecutor said ethics guidelines prevent him from discussing his rationale until the case goes to trial, and he predicted his decision will become more obvious at that stage.

He did say, however, that his decision was not based on any potential concerns prosecutors might have about the strength of the case. Nonetheless, Zirkle acknowledged the case has become controversial because of the enormous costs involved, which might have been avoided with a quicker decision.

"For months I've been trying to think of ways I could end this sooner because of the money that's being spent on this case, but I wasn't able to conclude the process sooner," he said. "These decisions are too important to be made quickly."

Sanchez, 24, and Mendez, 26, both face charges of aggravated first-degree murder in the February 2005 shooting deaths of 21-year-old Ricky Causor and his 3-year-old daughter, Mya. Causor's girlfriend, Michelle Kublic, was wounded in the attack. She was shot four times while shielding the couple's other daughter, 2-year-old Angelica, from the gunfire.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Fiddling while Darfur burns

Enough already! The quote in The Sudan Tribune below from el-Bashir about his promise to God not to let Darfurian suffering be a pretext for foreign intervention is particularly galling. Note to world: DO SOMETHING!

US’s Rice confers with UN’s Annan as Darfur deteriorates

Thursday 26 October 2006 02:30.

Oct 25, 2006 (WASHINGTON) — The Bush administration declared Wednesday the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan is in a dangerous downward spiral. There was no indication, however, that President Omar el-Bashir was relenting in his refusal to accept a U.N. peacekeeping force despite reassurances the peacekeepers would not go after government leaders.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice conferred by telephone with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Afterward, Rice’s spokesman, Sean McCormack, said, "We are very concerned about the situation there. It is not getting any better. We are concerned that it could well be getting worse."

Rice and Annan discussed the forced expulsion of Jan Pronk, Annan’s top aide in Sudan, and the importance of having the post filled quickly, either with Pronk or another U.N. diplomat, McCormack said. Rice called the ouster "extremely unfortunate," McCormack said. Rice and Stephen Hadley, the U.S. national security adviser, met at the White House late Tuesday with Andrew Natsios, Rice’s envoy to Sudan, who also met in Cairo, Egypt, with Arab League diplomats. Even while el-Bashir refuses to admit a U.N. peacekeeping force to take over from undermanned African Union peacekeepers, the United States is soliciting other countries for support in Darfur, particularly Sudan’s neighbors and Arab governments.

But el-Bashir is adamantly against what he calls "foreign intervention." "We have promised before God not to let Darfurians’ suffering be a pretext for foreign intervention or a subject for hostile media," el-Bashir was quoted as saying Tuesday. The Sudanese leader and other top officials have said they are concerned that the U.N. force could be used to track down and arrest leaders of the Sudanese government, McCormack said. "We have said that this is not the mandate of this U.N., force," he said, and the United States has asked Arab governments to reassure them on that score."We ask them to do that in every way that they possibly can," McCormack said.

The conflict in Darfur between government-backed Arab militia and the non-Arab population has killed about 200,000 people in three years and displaced some 2.5 million people.