Hey, it's great that so many people on the "Holmies" tag are determined to see due process done and give James Holmes the benefit of the assumption of innocence.
Really. It does my cynical heart good to see so many civic-minded young people taking to heart the importance of the Constitution and its guarantees and all that, but here are some facts:
One, the case against James Holmes is actually pretty good. It’s a bit inconvenient for the defense when you’re caught red-handed at the scene of the crime, you confess, your apartment is full of incendiary and explosive devices that show months of planning and the last thing you did before you left it was contriving to cause a noise complaint to come in at almost exactly the time of your shooting so that you could strike in two places at once. At this point, it’s really, really unlikely that he’s not guilty.
Two… the system is going to give him a chance anyway. Even if he sat there and said that he’s guilty and he begged for life in prison or to be executed, he would be appointed a lawyer who would fight tooth and nail to make sure he gets a fair shake, to make sure he gets his day in court and that everything is done by the book. Because this is a high-profile case, he’s a nice bright young man who had a future in front of him, he’s exactly the sort of person the system doesn’t want to put away forever or kill and this is the sort of case that can make a defense attorney’s career.
There’s no losing scenario for his lawyer. He’s so clearly guilty that losing the case will be remembered as a valiant effort and winning (which in this situation includes merely getting a lesser sentence or getting him treatment rather than incarceration) would be legendary.
The system is not going to put James Holmes away quietly. It will work to make sure he gets a fair shake and then some.
But you know, not everyone is that lucky. The prisons all around this country are full of people who are innocent, who either had nothing to do with the crime they were accused of or who were convicted and sentenced under grossly unfair double-standards.
White parents use a relative’s address or fudge on forms to get their kids into a better school or a safer one or one that has the program their kid wants to join? Big deal, everyone does it, you have to take care of your kids, right? Black or Latin@ parents do it? It’s called theft by deception and they’re made an example of… their children ripped away and they’re sent to prison.
White kids use drugs at a rate that’s far higher than any other race in the U.S. We get caught with drugs, we get community service, or drug court, or a warning. It’s just kids being kids. Of course, that’s why we use drugs more often: we know we’ll get away with it. A Black kid does drugs once and he’s branded a criminal. It could be his entrance into a system that will hold him back and keep him in for the rest of his life. You remember how many people brought up the fact that Trayvon Martin might have used marijuana before in order to justify the fact that (when he wasn’t on, carrying, or buying any drugs) he was shot down in cold blood? Think about how many white kids you know who use pot. Some people might think of them as stoners, but are they thought of as thugs, criminals, or dangerous thugs?
Same crime, different punishment… from the law and from society.
Society recognizes that George Zimmerman, the son of a federal judge, has the right to “stand his ground” and shoot a kid who was scared that some guy who’d been eyeballing him from a car got out and started following him on foot. Did that kid have the right to stand his ground? No. Two standards, for two different classes of people.
That’s what “privilege” originally meant, by the way. “Private law”. One law for the masses, another for the aristocracy. That’s where the concept comes from. In theory, the United States doesn’t have any aristocracy. In theory, we don’t have any classes.
In theory, we’re all equal under the law… but some races and classes of people spend more time under the law and some spend more time above it.
Trayvon Martin is demonized as a murder victim while James Holmes is being idolized for being a confessed spree killer. The system that protected Trayvon’s killer is the one that’s tasked with bringing Holmes to justice. You’d better believe that system will give him his due protections.
Now… about James Holmes.
He killed people. He actually wanted to kill more, but things didn’t go according to plan. His primary weapon jammed. Nobody rushed into his apartment and set off the traps.
So if you’re thinking that there’s something cool or gutsy about the fact that he pulled off this cunning plan, bear in mind that he didn’t actually pull it off. He might have been a criminal mastermind in his own head, but he was anything but in real life. He probably had a movie version of it playing in his head the whole time he was planning it and then it didn’t quite unfold that way.
Hence why he was found basically slumped down outside the theater when he could have made a getaway, or a last stand. Hence why he was “dazed” and quiet in his initial court appearance.
James Holmes is a failure of a human being, any way you look at it. He threw his life away and he took twelve people with him. If you feel any pity for him, where is your pity for the people who have to live with the mental and physical trauma he inflicted on them?
There are people who need your support more than he does. There are people in this country who are locked up for life, awaiting execution, or who have even been executed with as much solid evidence exonerating them as indicts James Holmes. They’re people the system isn’t interested in protecting. The people who make the decisions to review evidence or give pardons or grant a new trial see taking these people’s lives or freedom as a positive for everyone else, whether they’re guilty or not.
There are currently more Black people incarcerated in this country than there were slaves at the peak of that institution. Note that evidence shows they don’t commit crimes at a higher rate. They’re just convicted more often and sentenced more harshly.
The Innocence Project exists to clear the names of the unjustly convicted. If you really care about justice being done and the innocent being protected, they’re a worthier cause than James Holmes. If you want to hear about miscarriages of justice, go read their files. “Lost” evidence, ignored witnesses, wholesale abrogation of Constitutional rights and shortcuts to due process… not everyone gets to go through the judicial system with all advantages that James Holmes is going to have.
Sign the "Please do not kill me, Obama!" Petition
In the trio of unalienable rights outlined in the Declaration of Independence, the reason “life” was listed first should be obvious: If you aren’t alive, you can’t have liberty or pursue happiness (or much of anything else, for that matter). That’s why this week’s revelationsabout President Obama personally overseeing a “Kill List” is so significant — the president’s extralegal actions undermine the very right from which all other rights exist. And it’s why I launched anofficial White House petition asking the president to create a “Do Not Kill” list that would at least allow Americans to protect themselves from being deprived of their lives at the hand of the president.
Following the lead of other government-administered lists like the “Do Not Call” list and the “No Fly” list, the petition’s proposal is straightforward. It reads:
The New York Times this week reports that President Obama has created an official “Kill List” that he uses to personally order the assassination of American citizens. Considering that the government already has a “Do Not Call” list and a “No Fly” list, we hereby request that the White House create a “Do Not Kill” list in which American citizens can sign up to avoid being put on the president’s “Kill List” and therefore avoid being executed without indictment, judge, jury, trial or due process of law.
Sadly, the need for the government to create a “Do Not Kill” list is no longer theoretical. As the Times (and other media) have reported, the president ordered the execution of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki without so much as charging him with a single crime, much less convicting him of one. The Times reports that in doing so, the Obama administration issued a memo claiming that the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process (i.e., a right to formal charges and a trial by a separate co-equal branch of government) can now “be satisfied by internal deliberations in the executive branch.” As if underscoring the extrajudicial nature of the actions, even the memo remains secret.
Today, this kind of execution has become the norm. According to the Times, since the al-Awlaki killing, the White House now convenes “Terror Tuesday” meetings attended by various agency officials and President Obama’s top reelection strategist, David Axelrod. These meetings are specifically focused on deciding which American citizens and foreigners will next face due-process-free assassination. The newspaper additionally reports that the administration’s official rationale is that anyone the president orders killed is, by definition, “up to no good.” As Philadelphia Daily News columnist Will Bunch notes, that’s the same word-for-word rationale George Zimmerman used to justify hunting down Trayvon Martin.
This all underscores why we need a “Do Not Kill” list — and thanks to the White House’s new petition system, there’s a chance we can make that a reality. If we get 25,000 signatures, the administration will have to consider the proposal and issue a public response to it. I hope everyone reading this will click here to sign the petition, forward it on to your friends, post it on your Twitter feed and post it on your Facebook page.
If we want the most unalienable of rights to survive, we must speak out now and force the president to at least give us one way to avoid his execution orders. - Dave Sirota
Federal judge bans Obama from indefinitely detaining Americans
June 7, 2012
Sorry, Mr. President. A US Federal judge has clarified a decision made last month with some news sure to upset the Obama administration: the White House cannot use the NDAA to indefinitely detain American citizens.
Judge Katherine B. Forrest has answered a request made by US President Barack Obama last month to more carefully explain a May 16 ruling made in a Southern District of New York courtroom regarding the National Defense Authorization Act. Clarifying the meaning behind her injunction, Judge Forrest confirms in an eight-page memorandum opinion this week that the NDAA’s controversial provision that permits indefinite detention cannot be used on any of America’s own citizens.
Last month Judge Forrest ruled in favor of a group of journalists and activists whom filed a suit challenging the constitutionality of Section 1021 of the NDAA, a defense spending bill signed into law by President Obama on New Year’s Eve. Specifically, Judge Forrest said in her injunction that the legislation contained elements that had a “chilling impact on First Amendment rights” and ruled that no, the government cannot imprison Americans over suspected ties with terrorists.
“In the face of what could be indeterminate military detention, due process requires more,” said the judge.
The Obama administration responded nine days later by asking Judge Forrest to reconsider her ruling, adding that, in the interim, the government would interpret the injunction to mean that only the few plaintiffs listed on the lawsuit would be excluded from indefinite detention. One of those named, journalist Chris Hedges, had previously said, “I have had dinner more times than I can count with people whom this country brands as terrorists … but that does not make me one.”
Responding to the White House’s demands, Judge Forrest writes in a June 6 memo, “Put more bluntly, the May 16 order enjoined enforcement of Section 1021(b)(2) against anyone until further action by this, or a higher, court — or by Congress. This order should eliminate any doubt as to the May 16 order’s scope.”
Judge Forrest does include in her ruling, however, that Americans can be indefinitely detained, but only providing that the government can link suspects directly to the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Attorney Carl Meyer represented the plaintiffs in the lawsuit and told RT last month that he expected the Obama administration to challenge Judge Forrest’s ruling, but warned that “it may not be in their best interest because there are so many people from all sides of the political spectrum opposed to this law.”
“No responsible person should have formed a judgment one way or the other as to whether Assange is guilty of anything in Sweden. He has not even been charged, let alone tried or convicted, of sexual assault, and he is entitled to a presumption of innocence. The accusations made against him are serious ones, and deserve to be taken seriously and accorded a fair and legal resolution. But the WikiLeaks founder, like everyone else, is fully entitled to invoke all of his legal rights, and it's profoundly reckless and irresponsible to suggest, as some have, that he has done anything wrong by doing so. Seeking asylum on the grounds of claimed human rights violations is a longstanding and well-recognized right in international law. It is unseemly, at best, to insist that he forego his rights in order to herd him as quickly as possible to Sweden. ”—Assange’s Right to Asylum by Glenn Greenwald
“Say the state decided there were too many people, there's an overpopulation problem. The state decides that police officers should go out each Friday and shoot 5 random people. Would it be okay to say that they can do this, as long as you get a fair hearing and due process?”—Procedure Professor, on the differences between substantive due process & procedural due process.
“Something odd happened Monday. An Obama administration official delivered a major speech outlining the president’s position on a national topic that has been the subject of intense debate. Yet the Republican field was largely silent. Why? Because when it comes to allowing a group of government officials to decide to target accused terrorists with lethal stikes — a death panel, if you will — President Barack Obama and Republican candidates are largely on the same page. As Attorney General Eric Holder laid out in a speech in Chicago, the Obama administration believes that U.S. citizens can be targeted for killing under certain circumstances and that an executive branch review of the evidence against a subject of targeted killing counts as due process under the Constitution. While most of the Republican candidates haven’t gone into great detail about the legal reasoning behind their views on executive power, two Republican presidential candidates still in the race — Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich — are on the record in support of targeted killing. Ron Paul is a definite “no,” while Rick Santorum didn’t answer the New York Times survey. ”—Obama, Romney And Gingrich Agree: The Government Doesn’t Need A Court To Kill You
Ryan J. Reilly
The Cost of a FREE Appropriate Public Education
As some of you might remember, son’s high school attempted to change his placement (he is a special education student on an IEP) back in January. They wanted to move him from the “regular” high school into an
“alternative”, self-contained high school program. There was ZERO legal justification for their attempted change in placement.
In order to keep son where he legally belonged, I had to file for Due Process to keep him at the “regular” high school.
After hiring an attorney, having a full-scale neuro-psych evaluation conducted (the second in 3 years), and 5 months of negotiations, the high school (and district) settled prior to the Due Process hearing, agreeing to EVERYTHING I had asked for in January.
Sounds good, right?
Not so fast … all of the bills have finally come in:
ATTORNEY FEES: $ 9,045
NEURO-PSYCH EVAL: $ 4,076
$13,121 TO KEEP MY SON EXACTLY WHERE HE STARTED WHEN THEY FORCED THIS INTO DUE PROCESS.
Son’s BF’s parents contributed $ 5,000 towards legal fees, and my insurance covered $ 3,3316 of the neuro-psych eval, leaving $ 4,805 in unpaid expenses. Plus the lost (and unpaid) time from work.
I am a single parent who qualifies for the reduced priced lunch program, and I am supposed to pull 4,805 out of my ass to keep my son EXACTLY where he was in January?
I’m requesting a meeting with the School District Superintendent to enlighten him on the CLUSTERFUCK this turned into and requesting the school district cover all of the unpaid expenses.
It’s either that or set up a pledgie.