Patterico's Pontifications

9/21/2011

Justice in Texas

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 9:01 pm



[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

About nine years ago, I sat down for my first class in law school: contracts.  I don’t remember the name of the first case that our professor had us read, but I remember what it was about: remedies.  The case was largely noteworthy for its discussion of the proper measure of “damages”—what us lawyers call the amount of money awarded to the victorious plaintiff.  And the professor explained how one casebook author used to start his entire first chapter and the first few weeks of class discussing nothing but the proper measure of damages—that is, how much money the plaintiff gets.  Because in the end, that is how you demonstrate the value of the right in question: by providing an appropriate remedy when it is violated.

It is appropriate tonight to remember what happened thirteen years ago in Jasper, Texas.  It may be hard to read it, but the victim deserves your attention and remembrance.  From an article on one of the related trials:

In his closing argument, another prosecutor, Pat Hardy, described [William] King and his co-defendants as “three robed riders coming straight out of hell.” Noting that [James] Byrd’s dismembered body was left by the gate of an old black cemetery, Hardy said the three wanted “to show their defiance to God and Christianity and everything most people in this county stand for.”

Byrd, who was unemployed and living alone in a subsidized apartment, was walking home from a family gathering after midnight when he was picked up and driven to woods outside the city. There, he was beaten, then chained at the ankles and dragged behind a pickup truck for about three miles. In testimony Monday, a pathologist said Byrd was alive until his head and right arm were torn off by the jagged edge of a roadside culvert.

That testimony was crucial for the prosecution. The underlying felony of kidnapping is what made Byrd’s murder a death-penalty offense. For Byrd to have been kidnapped under Texas’s definition of the crime, he had to have been alive while being dragged.

Which is excellent legal thinking on the part of the prosecutors, but it also highlights a grisly fact: Byrd was alive and certainly aware as much of his body was ground like meat.  This was a cruel and torturous way to die.

Tonight in Texas, one of those accomplices, Lawrence Russell Brewer was put to death for his role in this horror.  It is often wondered by death penalty liberals how people professing to believe in the sanctity of life can support the death penalty.  But what greater affirmation of the value of James Byrd’s life could there be, than to say that the price of his murder is the death of those who killed them?  The value of the right is determined by the remedy for its violation.  This is as true in a simple breach of contract as it is in murder.

In 1857, the Supreme Court declared that black people “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”  Texas affirmed today that the right of James Byrd to his life was one that three white supremacists not only were bound to respect, but that the violation of that right would cost at least one of them his life.  It is a grim moment for which Texans can rightfully feel a solemn sense of pride.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

80 Responses to “Justice in Texas”

  1. is this the one National Soros Radio tried and tried and tried to frame in such a way as to impugn that Mr. President Bush guy?

    that deranged and screamingly estrogen-deprived ferret-woman terry gross in particular as I recall

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  2. Sorry, AW, I don’t feel pride.

    I feel disgust that stinking racists killed an man because of his skin.

    I feel ambivalent about a stinking racist who has to answer his maker without remorse. I feel shame because it happened in my state.

    Jasper is not what most people think. It is mostly African-American. The town had worked hard to be a peaceful place for all races. They had been successful until three racist scum put them on the map as the poster for everything bad about the South and Texas.

    It will take generations for Jasper and it’s citizens to get back to what they were before evil decided to take the front seat.

    Ag80 (9a213d)

  3. ag80

    i don’t know. i think your view has merit, but I can’t help but think that 3 racists don’t characterize the whole state. You bear no responsibility for what they did, and no stain for it.

    Evil arises everywhere. No state is immune. The only thin[g] you can do is react correctly, which is what Texas did.

    Aaron Worthing (73a7ea)

  4. Texas is my favorite and then creamsicles

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  5. I feel neither pride nor happiness at this death. Only sadness.

    No, not that he was put to death. Only that the situation occurred in which a mad dog (three, actually) was(were) allowed to attack a human being, taking his life (the form matters not to me, personally), and that said mad dog(s) need to be removed from society, as there was, as far as I’m concerned, inadequate possibility of any societal benefit from attempting to reform them.

    Perhaps they are reformable. This is irrelevant. Society has no obligation to act to reform them, only an opportunity, which society is under no impetus to follow through on at its own expense.

    I don’t hate a mad dog, I don’t seek revenge on a mad dog. I only put it to sleep so it can harm no one else, ever again.

    The notion that one cannot take the life of a human does not apply in any way, shape, or form — by their actions, these “men”, though they have the form of men, are not men.

    And while I’m not a pro-life supporter (I believe the choice should lie with the individual given the current state of understanding of humanity), I do consider it amusing that The Left would accept, even promote, the argument that “they must be men, they look human”, while arguing that “a fetus is not human just because it looks like one.” It is an inconsistent claim. That something looks human does not make it human. Humanity is action, thought, and deed. Is a quadraplegic any less human for his/her lack of limbs? Is a severe burn victim any less human for their horrific appearance? I say ye “nay!”. Humanity is in the heart, the mind, the thoughts, and the actions of the claimant, nowhere else.

    Q.E.D., These are not men, they are mad dogs, and society has every right to put them to sleep as painlessly as it can reasonably arrange.

    IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society (c9dcd8)

  6. Good comment, AG.

    Dustin (b2fb78)

  7. Maybe someone could email a copy of Aaron’s post to Brian Williams. As I recall, Brian seemed sort of unclear on the concept the night of the Reagan Library debate.

    elissa (054a47)

  8. honestly the faux-authoritatively interpretive whimsy of the miscreants wanting to “show their defiance to God and Christianity and” blah blah blah strikes me as just sort of cheesy

    these people are mean

    and they aren’t even people, and certainly not people what do things like reason out the message they want to send to “society”

    they’re animals most likely

    mad dogs is apt

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  9. I wonder if someone tried to claim that lethal injection was inhumane in this case.

    Kevin M (563f77)

  10. Damn shame it took 12 years from trial to carrying out the sentence.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  11. Somewhat OT: Troy Davis was executed a little while ago in Georgia. Any thoughts from our resident attorneys about that very controversial death penalty case?

    Major Kong (f4574f)

  12. Guy in Georgia took it tonight too–after an appeal for stay of execution was denied by Justice Clarence Thomas.

    elissa (054a47)

  13. I have no idea if Mr. Troy was innocent or not but the Associated Press’s opinion doesn’t count for sh*t with me I can tell you that for sure

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  14. National Soros Radio excitedly liveblogged Mr. Troy’s execution

    presented here for entertainment purposes only

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  15. Guy in Georgia took it tonight too–after an appeal for stay of execution was denied by Justice Clarence Thomas.

    Actually, it wasn’t just Thomas; it was the Court:

    DAVIS, ANTHONY TROY V. HUMPHREY, WARDEN
    The application for stay of execution of sentence of death presented to Justice Thomas and by him referred to the Court is denied.

    Kevin M (563f77)

  16. Well Mr. Davis was one of two men in the parking lot, and one of them for danged sure killed the victim with one shot to the chest–and then when he was down on the ground, one shot to the head.

    Each said “the other dude did it”. I’d say there’s at least a 50% chance that the State of Georgia got it right. Of course if it troubles you all too much, you could execute both “dudes” and you’d know you got the right one.

    Comanche Voter (0e06a9)

  17. I agree with daleyrocks. Too bad it took so long to carry out the sentence.

    Dave Surls (28f866)

  18. Justice would have been better served by chaining him to a pickemup truck and then dragging his sorry ass behind it.

    peedoffamerican (cce5d3)

  19. Was there an intention of murder?

    j curtis (3adefb)

  20. J Curtis. The jury is allowed to infer intent from the conduct of the defendants.

    Shipwreckedcrew (f17974)

  21. Does that mean, Mumia will finally get his due,

    ian cormac (ed5f69)

  22. Re Troy Davis,

    Justice Clarence Thomas is the justice for the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Georgia, Florida and Alabama. Although emergency appeals are sent first to the justice who oversees the circuit, all nine justices decide the issue.

    No dissents were recorded in this case.

    Dana (4eca6e)

  23. Of course, the irony, ‘it’s what’s for dinner’ is if NPR had it’s way, Brewer would be serving life.

    ian cormac (ed5f69)

  24. And when will Richard Allen Davis get his due?

    Old Coot (451667)

  25. Some tried to make the issue about hate crimes legislation concerning this case, as Bush was against hate crimes legislation. IIRC, Bush made the point the perps were going to be executed, and what more would be done if it was a “hate crime”, execute him again?

    I heard it reported that the fellow said he would kill again if he had the chance. I wonder if someone told him we as a society would execute him twice if we had the chance…

    Death by dragging in some ways would be very appropriate, but I don’t think anyone should be asked to dehumanize themself to do it.

    On one hand this could set race relations back as said above, but on the other hand, this case is an opportunity that shows that whites as well as blacks overwhelmingly detest such behavior and won’t stand for it, contrary to those who think Tea Party members are eager for lynchings.

    Yes, sad to the point of being sickening that there are creatures who have already fallen so far from their humanity in this life that they are more monster than human.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  26. Justice was done, here and I feel much better for knowing this. And thanks for this perspective on the law, Aaron.

    About the excerpt:

    “That testimony was crucial for the prosecution. The underlying felony of kidnapping is what made Byrd’s murder a death-penalty offense. For Byrd to have been kidnapped under Texas’s definition of the crime, he had to have been alive while being dragged.”

    Aaron, was the reliance on acceptance of the fact that Byrd was alive when dragged because Byrd had been hitchhiking, or that it was consensual in that Byrd accepted the an offer of a lift and, therefore, the kidnapping did not begin with the initital “asporting” (cool word) when driven to the woods (and beaten)?

    I suppose it was easier to establish the crime of kidnapping in the way the prosecution did, rather than try to prove the “contract” of giving him a ride was not really consensual on the part of Byrd since the other contracting party(ies) had no intention of honoring the contract in the first place. But I suppose the prosecution could have gone the route for kidnapping if they wanted to, couldn’t they? Or would the latter effort offer a precedent causing unintended consequences.

    Dusty (20ed3c)

  27. If NPR had its way cop killing would be legal.

    DohBiden (d54602)

  28. “The earth cannot be cleansed of the blood that was spilled on it, except by the spiller’s blood”. This is fundamental justice, and it is the states and countries that deny it to murder victims that are barbaric.

    Milhouse (9a4c23)

  29. Humanity is action, thought, and deed. Is a quadraplegic any less human for his/her lack of limbs? Is a severe burn victim any less human for their horrific appearance? I say ye “nay!”. Humanity is in the heart, the mind, the thoughts, and the actions of the claimant, nowhere else.

    What of a person in a coma, then? Or just asleep?

    Milhouse (9a4c23)

  30. Anyone else notice how the cop killer got all the anti-death penalty support?

    They didn’t show up in droves to protest the injustice of the execution of the racist douchebag. Strange, huh?

    It makes me wonder how Rev Al will twist this to make the Texas justice system racist.

    a different Mark (e511ba)

  31. Each said “the other dude did it”. I’d say there’s at least a 50% chance that the State of Georgia got it right. Of course if it troubles you all too much, you could execute both “dudes” and you’d know you got the right one.

    They were both in it; why does it even matter which one pulled the trigger?

    Milhouse (9a4c23)

  32. NPR seems to think that if a witness says one thing on the stand, under oath, and subject to cross-examination, and convinces a jury that it’s true, and then years later, under who-knows-what conditions and after who-knows-who has got to them, claims to have perjured himself, that second claim must naturally be true. Because people never lie, except on the stand.

    Milhouse (9a4c23)

  33. excellent point

    NPR seems to think that if a witness says one thing on the stand, under oath, and subject to cross-examination, and convinces a jury that it’s true, and then years later, under who-knows-what conditions and after who-knows-who has got to them, claims to have perjured himself, that second claim must naturally be true. Because people never lie, except on the stand.

    Comment by Milhouse — 9/22/2011 @ 8:05 am

    Joe (bbbdbb)

  34. Comanche voter – that is the point most of the people claiming he is innocent seem to forget. He may not have been the one that shot him, but he was definitely at both crime scenes, The shooting at the party and the killing at the burger king. At the very minimum – he as an accomplice to murder. he never claimed he wasnt there – He wasnt someone that was picked up off at random – several of the eyewitnesses know him personally – none of those individuals recanted.

    Well Mr. Davis was one of two men in the parking lot, and one of them for danged sure killed the victim with one shot to the chest–and then when he was down on the ground, one shot to the head.

    Comment by Comanche Voter

    Joe (bbbdbb)

  35. estrogen-deprived ferret-woman terry gross
    Years ago she was very attractive with long wavy hair, kind of reminiscent of Carole King back in the day (Tapestry).
    I do not know if she had cancer or some other illness that took it’s toll on her body, or had a significant change of life style or what. I know it had been years since I had seen a picture of her since the 80’s or early 90’s, and when I did I thought somebody replaced her with an imposter.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  36. They always used to say there was no reason need for a hate crime law since this was already a death penalty case.

    From your description it sounds like this was a death penalty case only due to a technicality – because it was also a kidnapping. But this was not a kidnapping in the normal sense of the word.

    They were just treated him very cruelly. Of course I think depraved indifference is also murder, but maybe not eligible for the death penalty in Texas.

    I guess the problem was that there no indication that they intended to kill him from the get go, so the death needed a predicate felony in order to be eligible for the death penalty. But a murder could not be its ow predicate felony.

    I think it’s absurd to worry about whether he was still alive when he was being dragged, If he was not, then they would have or should have been guilty of murder right there,

    The end result is this: The reason people wanted them executed apparently is not covered by any law, and the law that covered it only covered it by accident.

    This is not good law.

    Sammy Finkelman (9ab1e5)

  37. Forcibly attaching someone to a car is surely a form of kidnapping. the key is the false imprisonment, not the transportation, and they weren’t taking him where he wanted to go anyway.

    I don’t think leaving him by a black cemetery was a defiance to God. It was maybe despising blacks. They didn’t think much about religion or what is right or wrong in the eyes of God. It could even be interpreted as giving him a slight bit of dignity.

    Sammy Finkelman (9ab1e5)

  38. It was a particularly heinous crime, one might say it ‘shocks the conscience,’ much like Karla Faye
    Tucker did hacking those people to death.

    ian cormac (ed5f69)

  39. Don’t mess with Texas!

    A rabid dog has met his fate – too bad it took so long.

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (d32895)

  40. execute him again

    Hung by a noose made from copper cable, which goes “hot” when the hatch is tripped, and then shot by firing squad while swinging!
    All the next day after the guilty verdict.

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (d32895)

  41. Are the readers aware of the torture-murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom in Knoxville, Tennessee? It took place in January of 2007. The four defendants were tried separately during 2009-2010.

    Only the ringleader received a death sentence.

    The victims died after hours of agonizing torture. You can find the details on the internet. The MSM ignored the story.

    DN (543479)

  42. “…Because people never lie, except on the stand…(unless they’re journalists)…”

    It’s the Scooter Libby Rule!

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (d32895)

  43. Comment by DN — 9/22/2011 @ 10:50 am

    I would venture to say that there are significant differences between TX and TN law as applied to murders of this type.

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (d32895)

  44. The case of the innocent person executed by Texas while Rick Perry was Governor did not involve a crime that somebody else committed but a situation where there never was any crime. (false scientific testimony that a fire was arson based on junk science)

    Sammy Finkelman (9ab1e5)

  45. Junk science about what was proof of arson and what was needed for a flash over, junk science that labelled many many fires arson that weren’t, plus a jailhouse informant and to give him the death penalty there was junk psychiatric testimony.

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/09/07/090907fa_fact_grann?currentPage=all

    ….Willingham often told his parents, “You don’t know what it’s like to have lawyers who won’t even believe you’re innocent.”

    ….

    After Hurst had reviewed Fogg and Vasquez’s list of more than twenty arson indicators, he believed that only one had any potential validity: the positive test for mineral spirits by the threshold of the front door. But why had the fire investigators obtained a positive reading only in that location? According to Fogg and Vasquez’s theory of the crime, Willingham had poured accelerant throughout the children’s bedroom and down the hallway. Officials had tested extensively in these areas—including where all the pour patterns and puddle configurations were—and turned up nothing. Jackson told me that he “never did understand why they weren’t able to recover” positive tests in these parts.

    Hurst found it hard to imagine Willingham pouring accelerant on the front porch, where neighbors could have seen him. Scanning the files for clues, Hurst noticed a photograph of the porch taken before the fire, which had been entered into evidence. Sitting on the tiny porch was a charcoal grill. The porch was where the family barbecued. Court testimony from witnesses confirmed that there had been a grill, along with a container of lighter fluid, and that both had burned when the fire roared onto the porch during post-flashover. By the time Vasquez inspected the house, the grill had been removed from the porch, during cleanup. Though he cited the container of lighter fluid in his report, he made no mention of the grill. At the trial, he insisted that he had never been told of the grill’s earlier placement. Other authorities were aware of the grill but did not see its relevance. Hurst, however, was convinced that he had solved the mystery: when firefighters had blasted the porch with water, they had likely spread charcoal-lighter fluid from the melted container.

    Without having visited the fire scene, Hurst says, it was impossible to pinpoint the cause of the blaze. But, based on the evidence, he had little doubt that it was an accidental fire—one caused most likely by the space heater or faulty electrical wiring. It explained why there had never been a motive for the crime. Hurst concluded that there was no evidence of arson, and that a man who had already lost his three children and spent twelve years in jail was about to be executed based on “junk science.” Hurst wrote his report in such a rush that he didn’t pause to fix the typos.

    ….

    Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/09/07/090907fa_fact_grann#ixzz1YhqABkKb

    Sammy Finkelman (9ab1e5)

  46. Sammy, what you have is a case of duelling experts, and the Courts sided with one over the other.
    That’s the way the system works with “expert testimony”.

    And the cynic would say:
    Well, if he wasn’t guilty of this, he certainly was guilty of something else; and Good Riddance!

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (d32895)

  47. To #44,

    The judge in the Christian-Newsom trials brought in juries from Nashville in two of the trials, in particular the first defendant tried who was the brother of the ringleader and left considerable DNA on the female victim. One of the Nashville jurors was interviewed afterward and indicated she and her fellow panelists never intended to vote for death under any circumstances.

    It is indeed much harder for a death sentence to be carried out in Tennessee than Texas. It has taken as much as thirty years.

    DN (543479)

  48. DN, it seems to be a “cultural defect” then.
    The heinousnous of the crimes just hasn’t reached the threshhold of culture change yet.

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (d32895)

  49. Point about the Christian-Newsom murders is that it didn’t get nearly as much ink as the more-or-less simultaneous Duke lax rape hoax.

    Richard Aubrey (cafc94)

  50. Troy Davis was NOT innocent. All you need to do is take a few minutes to read the 172 page opinion issued by Judge William Moore after the two day hearing he conducted into the “actual innocence” claim raised by Davis in his federal habeas proceeding. That is the proceeding that included the extraordinary order from the Supreme Court for the District Court to hold such a hearing to examine the claim, including the unsubstantiated claim — as determined by Judge Moore — that 7 of the 9 witnesses had “recanted” their testimony.

    That is a media fiction, perpeatration by a willing media and death penalty opponents like Amensty International who have no interest in whether Troy Davis was the shooter or not — they simply oppose the death penalty in all instances.

    Judge Moore — US Attorney in Georgia under Jimmy Carter, and appointed as a District Judge by Bill Clinton — shows clearly that the trial evidence upon which Davis was convicted was not undermined by the “evidence” of actual innocence presented by his attorneys in the habeas proceeding.

    Read pages 124-150 to see clearly the farce that was attempted to be passed off as a “defense.”

    http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/documents/DavisDistCt-II.pdf

    shipwreckedcrew (fe3b5b)

  51. Sammy – Can you change your mind about the Byrd case again please? It’s pretty damn funny.

    Willingham was innocent? Why didn’t you let the court know?

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  52. Sammy – How many Tookie Williams coloring books do you own? Be honest.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  53. The case of the innocent person executed by Texas while Rick Perry was Governor did not involve a crime that somebody else committed but a situation where there never was any crime. (false scientific testimony that a fire was arson based on junk science)

    Comment by Sammy Finkelman — 9/22/2011 @ 11:00 a

    m
    Sammy – I cant comment on the validity of which expert was correct and therefore will not comment on the arson experts.

    Two significant factors that weighed in the conviction was A) he was seen outside the house before the fire moving his car away from the house, B) Emotional state/Behavior by the defendant as witnessed by a neighbor before the fire department arrived that the neighbor described as inconsistent with what would be expected of someone who was concerned about the welfare of the children inside a burning house. ( I discount this somewhat due to the unpredictable behavior of different people under similar circumsances)

    Joe (bbbdbb)

  54. The case of the innocent person executed by Texas while Rick Perry was Governor

    Maybe. You’re quoting a committed advocate, not a neutral fact-finder. It’s possible that all this is true, and Willingham was innocent. But I don’t see how you or anybody else can be sure of it. Last I heard, the prosecutor and judge were unconvinced by the new revelations; sure, they’ve got an obvious biased, but I know nothing to indicate that they’re monsters.

    Even if Willingham was innocent, any given innocent person’a risk of being falsely executed is still lower than his risk of being murdered.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  55. ..any given innocent person’a risk of being falsely executed is still lower than his risk of being murdered.

    Milhouse, this sounds like a wonderful factoid that I would dearly like substantiated. Can you show your work?

    Pious Agnostic (6048a8)

  56. Dn you need to get over it so what whitey died its reparations baby

    /E.J. Dionne

    DohBiden (d54602)

  57. “And when will Richard Allen Davis get his due?”

    That scumbag should have been put down the MINUTE the trial was over (no appeals, no screwing around). Same with the garbage that carried out the torture murders in Tenn. All of those involved should have been IMMEDIATELY executed.

    I hope to live long enough to see our justice system modified so that really heinous murderers are dealt with promptly.

    Dave Surls (28f866)

  58. That is a media fiction, perpeatration by a willing media and death penalty opponents like Amensty International who have no interest in whether Troy Davis was the shooter or not — they simply oppose the death penalty in all instances.

    Why does the media side with death penalty opponents?

    Even if Willingham was innocent, any given innocent person’a risk of being falsely executed is still lower than his risk of being murdered.

    This is true, and it is also true that an innocent person’s risk of being falsely bombed during a war (Dresden, Tokyo) is still greater than being falsely executed.

    Milhouse, this sounds like a wonderful factoid that I would dearly like substantiated. Can you show your work?

    the last confirmed false execution of an innocent person was in 1927.

    Michael Ejercito (64388b)

  59. I could be wrong, but I thought it was one of the Davis prosecution team I heard this morning explaining that Davis had been given every opportunity to prove his innocence. Hmmm.

    Cases where the blood of the victim is liberally poured into the scales of justice never sit easily in my soul. “Did the accused do the deed, and was the deed a crime, and was the doing of the deed a criminal act?” was the standard I was taught in seventh grade civics, and I’m not sure how the victim’s relationship to the world should be weighed in those questions.

    Probably good it’s very unlikely I’ll be on a jury again.

    htom (412a17)

  60. Milhouse, this sounds like a wonderful factoid that I would dearly like substantiated. Can you show your work?

    It’s very simple. In the past 50 years, how many innocent people have been murdered in the USA? A lot. In the same period, how many innocent people have been executed? If Willingham was innocent, then the answer is one. Therefore an innocent person’s chance of being murdered is many times that of his being executed. QED.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  61. Of course the relevant number isn’t really the risk of being murdered, but the reduction in that risk due to the death penalty’s existence. That’s a lot harder to calculate, but surely any reasonable person will agree that it’s greater than one death per 50 years. Therefore it exceeds the risk of being falsely executed.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  62. the last confirmed false execution of an innocent person was in 1927.

    Interesting. Who was that?

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  63. And surely your blood, the blood of your lives, will I require; At the hand of every beast will I require it. And at the hand of man, even at the hand of every man’s brother, will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: For in the image of God made he man.

    Genesis 9:5-6

    Bored Lawyer (1cf033)

  64. Pious Agnostic wants it substantiated that “any given innocent person’[s] risk of being falsely executed is still lower than his risk of being murdered.”

    Pious, the claim is true even if all executed persons are innocent! Since the number of executions is much less (by more than two orders of magnitude) than the number of murders, then the risk of false execution must be lower than the risk of being murdered. The problem with the claim isn’t that it is false, it is that it pretends to be significant, when it is in fact trivial.

    DWPittelli (87401c)

  65. The problem with the claim isn’t that it is false, it is that it pretends to be significant, when it is in fact trivial.

    Hardly. Since the risk of being murdered is so much higher than the risk of being falsely executed, where should resources and attention be directed? To reducing the murder rate, or to reducing the false-execution rate from its already infinitesimal level?

    And since it stands to reason that capital punishment — at least when it is actually practised and not merely a theory — does reduce the murder rate, and that it does so by more than the entire false-execution rate, it follows that the practice of capital punishment makes everyone safer even with the risk of being falsely executed taken into account. That is to say, every rational person would accept the increased risk of being falsely executed in return for the lower risk of being murdered.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  66. Comment by Bored Lawyer — 9/23/2011 @ 5:27 am

    The Jewish Bible forebade “murder”, but not killing.
    An execution of a prisoner found guilty before the Bar of Justice, is not “murder”.

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (ab2eca)

  67. Not that simple, Milhouse. We could have a creative serial killer who’s undetected, each of his horrific killings generating several executed innocents. (Since those killings are legal, they’re not legally murders, but as deaths they should influence your analysis — it’s surely one of the most horrific ways for an innocent to be killed.)

    htom (412a17)

  68. How is a death at the hands of a serial killer not murder?
    And, if you mean that the crime has gone undetected, what to make of the missing person?

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (ab2eca)

  69. Only the killings sanctioned by a Court, or Government, can be considered “legal”; you know,
    as in War, or Self-Defense.

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (ab2eca)

  70. AD, I think you misunderstood Bored Lawyer’s comment. His quote explicitly commands capital punishment.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  71. We could have a creative serial killer who’s undetected, each of his horrific killings generating several executed innocents.

    I suppose that could happen, over the course of all possible worlds. But surely you’re not claiming it’s mere coincidence that it hasn’t happened in this one. It’s extremely unlikely; any individual’s chance of being framed for such a murder is far less likely than his chance of being killed by such a murderer; and ending capital punishment would increase every innocent person’s risk of being murdered by more than it would reduce the already-infinitesimal risk of being falsely executed.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  72. AD, you seem to have misunderstood htom’s comment as well. His point seems to be that it’s possible for many people to be falsely executed as the result of one fiendishly clever serial killer’s work, and thus the risk of being falsely executed is higher than I have claimed. My answer to his comment is above.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  73. Comment by Milhouse — 9/23/2011 @ 2:43 pm

    I did read through Bored Lawyer’s comment too quickly.
    I thought he was bringing up the widely discredited meme of “Thou shalt not Kill”.

    As to htom, I don’t think I’m too far off.
    Any unsolved killing, at least in my opinion, is a murder, until the facts show otherwise.
    Now, if he’s saying that his diabolical serial murderer has framed innocents for his crimes, and they are subsequently executed, that is something else.
    But, where is the reality?
    When has such a thing happened in “real life”?
    Abstract, theoretical constructs are just not that convincing to this flint-eyed observer.
    Even though the criminal-justice system has many flaws, one of them does not seem to be the execution of many innocents – if at all.
    ME said the last execution of someone found to be innocent was 1927; to me, that seems to be the exception that proves the rule.

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (ab2eca)

  74. Now, if he’s saying that his diabolical serial murderer has framed innocents for his crimes, and they are subsequently executed, that is something else.

    That is indeed what he’s saying, and my answer above is the same as yours. It’s theoretically possible, but it’s not a coincidence that it hasn’t happened. Our system of justice is flawed, but not that flawed.

    ME said the last execution of someone found to be innocent was 1927; to me, that seems to be the exception that proves the rule.

    I’ve asked above for the basis of his claim. I asked for a reason; I greatly suspect that I know who he’s talking about, and there’s pretty good evidence that person was guilty. (On the other hand, there may have been innocents executed since then.)

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  75. Yeah, but they were guilty of something.

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (ab2eca)

  76. I didn’t say that the serial murderer was framing others; in committing horrific murders, he generates a huge demand among the public for “someone to pay”, and the system would produce further victims to take his blame. If SM kills three, and the system kills nine scapegoats (and that’s what they’d be) the odds of a random person being killed are 3:1, system:SM.

    Crazy people kill ones and twos. Mobs kill manys.

    htom (412a17)

  77. I’ve asked above for the basis of his claim. I asked for a reason; I greatly suspect that I know who he’s talking about, and there’s pretty good evidence that person was guilty.

    Sacco and Vanzetti.

    Michael Ejercito (64388b)

  78. Yeah, that’s what I thought you were going to say. Actually, I thought you were just going to say Vanzetti, since even their communist supporters eventually gave up on insisting that they were both innocent, and fell back on the alternative story that Sacco had acted alone and Vanzetti was innocent. Sorry to disappoint you, but they were both guilty as sin.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  79. in committing horrific murders, he generates a huge demand among the public for “someone to pay”, and the system would produce further victims to take his blame.

    That is not how the system works, or has ever worked. People are not executed because “someone has to pay”, they’re executed because there is serious reason to believe that they are guilty. The system is fallible, but it’s very rarely reckless; what jury would knowingly condemn an innocent person, just because the guilty person was not to hand?

    Milhouse (ea66e3)


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