Opening Statement
July 12, 2018
Edited by Andrew Cohen

Pick of the News

The Justice Department’s Criminal Division now will be led by a man who has never prosecuted a criminal case. But Brian Benczkowski has close ties to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and to a Russian bank with ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin. CNN Related: Despite a recusal pledge, his position at the Justice Department could give him access to confidential material collected by Robert Mueller and his investigators. MSNBC More: Lots of administrative experience, says Sessions in praising Benczkowski; the job has been vacant for 18 months. Justice Department

Scott Dozier’s execution is put on hold again amid new row over Nevada’s drug procurement. The death row inmate who long ago gave up his appeals, hoping he would be more quickly killed, was denied Wednesday by a state judge. She temporarily stayed his execution to allow the company which provided midazolam to executioners to proceed with its claim the drug was obtained via fraud. State officials planned a three-drug cocktail which included for the first time the use of fentanyl. Nevada Independent TMP Context: Here’s Maurice Chammah’s in-depth piece on the background of the case. The Marshall Project

Federal immigration agents are locking up immigrant children in juvenile detention facilities. Even though the children haven’t committed a crime or been judged to be dangerous or violent. Mother Jones Related: Feds tell immigrant parents to pay for the DNA test that will help us reunite them with their children. The Daily Beast They also tell immigrants transported far away from the border that there’ll be no help getting home. The Denver Post More: The rate of illegal border crossings decreased in June, the first decrease of the year. Los Angeles Times Finally: Sketches from immigration court. CNN

Where due process goes to die. “Operation Streamline,” a creation of the Bush administration, was designed to handle a spike in immigration from Central America. The idea is to process as many unauthorized entry cases as possible in as short a time as possible. What that means today, with Trump officials in charge, is mass hearings in which defendants often are convicted without having any idea that they ever were charged. Lawyers, and at least one brave judge, are complaining about the pace of the proceedings. BuzzFeed

Why airport lines are bad and going to get worse. A federal appeals court Wednesday ruled that TSA screeners have legal immunity from abuse lawsuits filed by aggrieved fliers. The men and women in uniform who pat us down and search our bags under penalty of law are not “investigative or law enforcement officers,” declared the court. The decision came as bad news to a Florida woman who had a terrible experience at the airport in Philadelphia. Reuters Related: Read the ruling. 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

What’s a white supremacist to do when he wants to leave the movement? The election of Donald Trump as president spawned a new resurgence in white supremacy in America. But as the movement’s popularity has surged in some quarters so has the number of white supremacists who have begun to rethink their lives of racist violence. Mother Jones More: “The fact that I believed that shit is embarrassing to me.” Mother Jones Related: Some of the worst white supremacist attacks since the 2016 election. Mother Jones


In Tennessee a trial over lethal injection procedures begs the question of whether executions there are a form of torture. The Tennessean Related: Arkansas officials want to expand their already broad lethal injection secrecy laws to overcome recent objections raised by judges. Associated Press

After a series of scandals exposed the practice, Alabama will no longer dole out as much food money directly to local sheriffs, who for decades have been providing inmates in their jails with inedible food while pocketing excess funds.

Welcome to Glades County, Florida, where 13 percent of the adult population is incarcerated, either in a private prison or the county jail. Vera Institute of Justice

A mentally ill South Carolina man who told an undercover FBI agent that he wanted to unleash a white supremacist attack was sentenced Wednesday to 33 months in prison with three additional years of supervised release. The Huffington Post

Nearly 25 years later a juror who sentenced a Mississippi man to death regrets her choice; not because she thought the defendant innocent but because of how the trial itself changed her views of crime and punishment. The Clarion-Ledger

Two Oregon parents who cited their religious beliefs to refuse to allow their newborn twins to receive medical care were sentenced to more than six years in prison. One of the babies died. BuzzFeed


This call may be recorded and monopolized. The FCC should block a proposed merger between communication giant Securus and one of its competitors that would diminish already flagging competition and create more undue economic hardship for inmates and their families who use prison phones. Here is original TMP commentary from Bianca Tylek and Connor McCleskey of the Corrections Accountability Project. The Marshall Project

Still more on Brett Kavanaugh. The known unknowns of an Establishment nominee. Los Angeles Times Trump picked the wrong judge. By David French. The Washington Post Trump picked the wrong judge. By Dahlia Lithwick. Slate A jurist with a narrow view of the Fourth Amendment. Reason A broader view of Kavanaugh’s criminal justice jurisprudence. SDFLA Blog Finally: What will Kavanaugh do if Robert Mueller subpoenas President Trump? The New York Times

Another Trump pardon for angry white men. The Hammonds in Oregon weren’t innocent. And they are not victims. Rolling Stone Related: “Light up the whole country on fire,” Steven Hammond urged in 2001. Department of Justice

Crossing the river Jordan. There is no middle ground with the truth about Jim Jordan and sexual harassment in Ohio. Either he is lying or his many accusers are. Slate

The juvenile brain. With little additional help likely from the Supreme Court, prosecutors need to do more to prevent what amounts to life-without-parole sentences for teenagers. USA Today TMP Context: For Henry Montgomery, a Catch-22. The Marshall Project

The opportunity costs no one wants to talk about. A tight job market ought to mean more genuine opportunities for ex-offenders. NBC News


Dubious Honor of the Day: Move over Louisiana, at long last you don’t lead the nation in incarceration rates. Congratulations, Oklahoma, you now get the nod. Pew Charitable Trusts

Police Secrecy of the Day: Why should the family of a police shooting victim have to submit a FOIA request to get the names of the cops who fired the shots? The Washington Post

Decision of the Day: In which a federal appeals court panel, including a recent short-list Supreme Court candidate, side with a mentally ill Illinois prisoner who has been kept in solitary confinement for at least 11 years. 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

Technology of the Day: Police in Orlando, Florida, are extending their test of Amazon’s facial recognition software. Orlando Sentinel

Report of the Day: “The Trial Penalty” is an extensive look at the gulf between sentences offered during plea negotiations and those meted out after trial and why that gulf essentially vitiates the constitutional right to a trial. National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Interview of the Day: In which Chris Hayes talks at length with Philadelphia district attorney Larry Krasner about criminal justice, the politics of prosecutors, and more. NBC News

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