Law blog roundup

Yellow SubmarineWelcome to Monday, the 45th anniversary of the U.S. release of The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” album.

– I heard a great new investment tip: Lawsuits.

– NSA’s lawyer offers unreserved defense of surveillance program.

– Arkansas school-desegregation litigation nears settlement after 25 years.

– Alabama attorney general proposes expediting death-penalty appeals.

Law blog roundup

0120jurydutyimageWelcome to Monday, the first day of the 2013-2014 school year in many Maryland jurisdictions. Here are some news items to get the week started.

– Sequester hammers federal courts.

– So what’s the penalty for jaywalking in Iran?

– Federal judge strikes down Chicago’s vacant-building registry.

– Who really needs a third year of law school?

Zirkin made death penalty repeal debate memorable

The flurry of legislative activity that led to the General Assembly’s vote this year to repeal the death penalty in Maryland included the most memorable quote of the 2013 session — if only because of the speaker.

For the prior four years, Sen. Robert A. “Bobby” Zirkin was widely regarded as one of the two legislators who saved capital punishment in Maryland. With the Senate poised to vote for abolition in 2009, Zirkin – with Sen. James Brochin – crafted legislation that preserved the death penalty but limited its application only when DNA evidence, a videotaped confession or a videotape of the crime conclusively linked the defendant to the capital murder.

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Law blog roundup

Opening DayWelcome to Monday and a day for fools. Here are some news items to get the first week of the baseball season started.

– A law professor provided perhaps the best explanation of what happened last week at the Supreme Court.

– Should detained immigrants have a right to counsel?

– Colorado prosecutors weigh seeking the death penalty for accused movie-theater murderer.

– Utah opens courtrooms to television and radio coverage.

Law blog roundup

Sandra Day O'ConnorWelcome to Monday and a week in which we might crown another Baltimore sports champion. Here are some news items to get it all started.

– Retired justice pens book about the Supreme Court.

– Can a condemned killer reject a governor’s reprieve?

– Small-state advantage in U.S. Senate faces legal challenges.

– One lawyer’s “copyright protection” is another’s “fraud on the court.”

Law blog roundup

Wall StreetWelcome to the final Monday of January. Here are some news items to get your week before the big game started.

– Military lawyer clashes with Obama administration over breadth of war crimes.

– Muslim students file First Amendment appeal in California.

– Wall Street receives advice on dealing with the Justice Department.

– Another “M” state debates the death penalty.

Breaking the scales of justice?

Before the story of Ronald Post veers into “odd news” territory, here are the sobering facts: Post was convicted in 1985 of murdering a hotel desk clerk two years earlier and sentenced to death. He is scheduled to die in January.

But his lawyers have argued that the 6-foot-3-inch, 480-lb. Post should not be executed because he is “morbidly obese.” They argued in a federal court filing late last week that Post’s weight and poor veins “have a substantial likelihood of causing severe complications with attempts at an intravenous execution,” meaning his death could be considered cruel and unusual punishment.

Post’s lawyers say their client wants to lose weight and has even been denied gastric bypass surgery by prison officials. Post’s attempts to keep weight off have been thwarted by back and knee problems, the lawyers said, and he had been using an exercise bike “until it broke under his weight.”

I started reading a related story that included some details about failed attempts of inserting IVs into large inmates but I got woozy halfway through.

All of this leads me to one question: If Post’s appeal is denied and his execution goes on as planned, what will he choose for his last meal?

Law blog roundup

Welcome to the post-Labor Day roundup, in which we celebrate the possibility that the Orioles might be tied for first place at the end of the day.

– Can this lawyer defend the First Amendment in 140 characters or less?

– Thirty days means 30 days.

– Obama v. Romney may be decided in the courts rather than at the polls.

– The U.S. Supreme Court has what some in the capital defense bar call a “death clerk.” (HT: How Appealing)

Jury still out in House of Correction death penalty case

After four full days of deliberation, the jury in the death penalty case against Lee E. Stephens remains undecided about whether he and another man killed a corrections officer in the former Maryland House of Correction.

Cpl. David McGuinn was stabbed to death while on duty during an ambush style attack from behind as he was taking the final lockup count for the night at 10 p.m. on July 25, 2006. Stephens was charged with first-degree murder in McGuinn’s death.

The case went to the jury last Wednesday. While court was not in session Friday, the jurors in the case have been deliberating since. On Tuesday, jurors again did not deliver a verdict and were sent home about 4 p.m.

The case against Stephens is based on eyewitness testimony from former inmates on the cell block where the attack occurred and DNA testing of blood recovered from Stephens’ personal effects. The jury has the option to find Stephens guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Paul A. Hackner told the jury when they were given the case that the verdict form also included an option to find Stephens guilty of second-degree murder. A first-degree conviction would open the door to further hearings about whether to impose capital punishment.

The jury has had a tough job put in front of them. There are reasonable issues raised on both sides and, with no video footage, a lot of the state’s case came down to a prisoner who said he saw everything through a mirror he held out of his cell door.

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Law blog roundup

Happy Columbus Day. If you’re at work, like those of us at The Daily Record, here are some law links to check out. If you’re off today, get out there and enjoy the beautiful weather.

  • Is the cost of supplying lawyers to defendants in bail hearings worth it? Page Croyder says it would require lawyers to be available 24-7 and cost taxpayers a boatload.
  • Good news in the legal industry: Jobs are on the rise. The national economy may still be in the dumps, but law firms are adding employees.
  • The former voice of Dora the Explorer is suing MTV and Viacom for forcing her to sign a contract without allowing a lawyer review it. The girl’s family claims she’s been underpaid by at least $2 million. Vamanos! We have to sue!
  • D’oh! EEOC sues employer for disability discrimination based on obesity.
  • One South Carolina family law firm says no kvetching — we’ll get to you when we can.
  • Attorneys and judges are grappling with juror comments on Facebook. This might be deja vu for readers who followed the Dixon trial.
  • Lawyers will fight death penalty with economic argument: It’s just too expensive (HT: How Appealing).