75 percent of life sentences are overided to death sentences by judges if the victim is white

Alabama judges seem to impose the ultimate judgment more often in an election year.

While most of the country was riveted by the verdict in the Casey Anthony case — invoking the O.J. trial and decrying what many regarded as an unjust verdict — the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a nonprofit criminal-defense and civil rights law and advocacy firm, released yet another in a series of reports that clearly demonstrate that the criminal-justice system, especially in the South, is broken and dangerously on the brink of illegitimacy.

The EJI’s latest report (pdf) focuses on a little-known practice, permitted in only three states: judicial override. Florida, Delaware and Alabama allow judges to overturn jury-sentencing verdicts in death penalty cases. There are no individuals on death row in Delaware as a result of judicial override, and no judge has imposed a capital punishment override in Florida in the last 12 years. But according to the EJI report, judicial override in Alabama is almost always exercised to impose the death penalty when a jury has recommended life in prison. In fact, although judges have the authority under Alabama law to override a jury’s sentence of death and to instead impose a life sentence, 92 percent of judicial overrides are used to order death.

According to EJI estimates, there are 40 men on death row in Alabama who were placed there after a judge overrode a jury’s sentence of life in prison. Given that Alabama imposes few obstacles to the imposition of the death penalty by juries (a death sentence does not require a unanimous verdict in Alabama — the agreement of 10 of 12 jurors is sufficient), and that jurors opposed to capital punishment are excluded from serving on Alabama juries, judicial overrides to impose death are particularly alarming. But these judicial overrides have not provoked charges of “activist judging,” confirming that the charge of judicial activism has simply become right-wing shorthand to describe a judge whose independence gets in the way of the conservative agenda.

Among the most disturbing but unsurprising findings in the report are that the judicial override in Alabama is almost always imposed when a jury has given a defendant life in prison for the murder of a white victim. According to the report, in Alabama 75 percent of death overrides involve a white victim, even though only 35 percent of homicide victims in Alabama are white. This coincides with long-standing studies that demonstrate the death penalty is imposed most often when the victim of the homicide is white.

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Federal medical marijuana memo stirs angst in industry

Just another reason you need a good criminal defense attorney like Michael McCabe.

In October 2009, medical marijuana advocates celebrated a U.S. Department of Justice memo declaring that federal authorities wouldn’t target the legal use of medicinal pot in states where it is permitted.

The memo from Deputy U.S. Attorney General David Ogden was credited with accelerating a California medical marijuana boom, including a proliferation of dispensaries that now handle more than $1 billion in pot transactions.

But last month brought a new memo from another deputy attorney general, James Cole. And this time, it is stirring industry fears of federal raids on pot dispensaries and sweeping crackdowns on large-scale medical pot cultivation.

Cole asserted in the June 29 memo that state laws “are not a defense” from federal prosecution, saying, “Congress has determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug” – and that distributing it “is a serious crime.”

Justice Department officials said the memo offered “guidance” for states permitting medical marijuana and didn’t mark a harsher shift in federal policy. But it was a clear signal of the government’s concern about a move toward industrial-scale operations that would generate millions of dollars in revenue.

The memo came off as a threat to Steve DeAngelo, director of the Harborside Health Center, California’s largest medical marijuana provider. He charged that President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder are turning their backs on medical users and imperiling the distribution of marijuana as medicine.

“I can’t imagine why the Obama administration wants patients to obtain their medicine from a criminal market rather from a licensed and regulated system of distribution,” said DeAngelo, whose Oakland dispensary has 50,000 clients and handles more than $22 million in annual transactions. “I just can’t imagine them following through on their position.”

Advocates and legal observers are split on whether the concern expressed in the Cole memo over the “scope of commercial cultivation and use of marijuana for purported medical purposes” signals raids on pot stores. But many say it is a backlash against cities and entrepreneurs trying to cash in on the medicinal pot trade.

The city of Oakland is still exploring a plan to regulate and tax expansive marijuana cultivation, despite warnings by federal authorities that they wouldn’t tolerate earlier city efforts to sanction cavernous indoor marijuana farms.

BEHIND MEXICO’S BLOODSHED

Here is an interesting perspective on what has contributed to the rise in drug cartel crime and violence in Mexico. This are journalist believes that the free trade agreement is at its roots.

Interview with investigative journalist Bruce Livesey, who recently returned from Ciudad Juárez, scene of some of the most concerning violence in Mexico’s ongoing drug cartel conflict. According to Livesey, the problem has its roots in the free trade agreement that wiped out Mexico’s traditional agriculture economy, after which the drug cartels moved in to fight for each other’s market share.

Part 2

Medical marijuana rules may be repealed

Medical marijuana advocates have obtained enough signatures to qualify a ballot measure that could force a repeal of new restrictions on storefront collectives in San Diego.

Citizens for Patient Rights, the Patient Care Association and the California Cannabis Coalition submitted 44,106 signatures — 31,029 of which were deemed valid, San Diego City Clerk Liz Maland said Wednesday.

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Mexican Authorities Find Huge Pot Farm… Amazing !

Federal police in Mexico discover a marijuana plantation which covers an incredible 300 acres.

 

TIJUANA, Mexico (CNN) — Hidden between tomato stalks, the Mexican Army found what officials describe as the largest marijuana plantation in the nation, a top military official announced Thursday.Gen. Alfonso Duarte Mugica said the plantation six hours south of Tijuana is 168 times larger than the soccer field in Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium. It spans for about 300 acres, he said.

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