December 9th, 2014
“There is something terribly wrong with a justice system that allows an inordinate amount of power to reside in the hands of one office that not only has no real accountability or oversight, but is insulated from the consequences of its actions by court-granted immunity. And no, I am not talking about Supreme Court justices, but about prosecuting attorneys.”
December 8th, 2014
“Unfortunately, under the worthy mandate of protecting victims of sexual assault, procedures are being put in place at colleges that presume the guilt of the accused. Colleges, encouraged by federal officials, are instituting solutions to sexual violence against women that abrogate the civil rights of men. Schools that hold hearings to adjudicate claims of sexual misconduct allow the accuser and the accused to be accompanied by legal counsel. But as Judith Shulevitz noted in the New Republic in October, many schools ban lawyers from speaking to their clients (only notes can be passed). During these proceedings, the two parties are not supposed to question or cross examine each other, a prohibition recommended by the federal government in order to protect the accuser. And by federal requirement, students can be found guilty under the lowest standard of proof: preponderance of the evidence, meaning just a 51 percent certainty is all that’s needed for a finding that can permanently alter the life of the accused.
“More than two dozen Harvard Law School professors recently wrote a statement protesting the university’s new rules for handling sexual assault claims. “Harvard has adopted procedures for deciding cases of alleged sexual misconduct which lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process,” they wrote. The professors note that the new rules call for a Title IX compliance officer who will be in charge of “investigation, prosecution, fact-finding, and appellate review.” Under the new system, there will be no hearing for the accused, and thus no opportunity to question witnesses and mount a defense. Harvard University, the professors wrote, is “jettisoning balance and fairness in the rush to appease certain federal administrative officials.” But to push back against Department of Education edicts means potentially putting a school’s federal funding in jeopardy, and no college, not even Harvard, the country’s richest, is willing to do that.”
December 8th, 2014
But extensive investigations revealed little to no truth to the satanic ritual abuse panic. The McMartin Preschool trial ended in 1990 with no convictions, even after the government threw more than $15 million at prosecuting it. In 1992, FBI agent Kenneth Lanning, in his report on satanic ritual abuse, declared that satanic ritual abuse wasn’t credible: “Hundreds of communities all over America are run by mayors, police departments, and community leaders who are practicing Satanists and who regularly murder and eat people? Not likely.” Two years later, the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, under the federal Department of Health and Human Services, released a report claiming that there was no evidence of truth in satanic ritual abuse claims. Even so, people still believed: A Redbook magazine survey conducted in 1994 found that fully 70 percent of Americans believed that satanic ritual abuse was real.
November 30th, 2014
This is a terrible time of the year to be in prison, for the guilty and the innocent alike.
So please take a minute to brighten someone’s day with a card. I don’t care if you call it a Christmas card, a holiday card, or whatever. And neither will they.
Here is a link to a few prisoners who would really appreciate some good cheer.
October 27th, 2014
“As Middlesex district attorney and attorney general, Martha Coakley has been an aggressive prosecutor who too often has put the needs of the commonwealth above the rights of the people, and rarely corrects miscarriages of justice. Her overreaching decisions are more often than not overruled by clearer heads.”
This commentary, at the WGBH web site,is by Sue O’Connell, co-publisher of Bay Windows, Boston’s gay and lesbian weekly.
October 26th, 2014
“Is Cheit’s revisionism convincing? Much of his analysis, especially of the McMartin and Michaels cases—which take up more than a third of the book—relies on materials to which the reader does not have ready access, such as trial transcripts, investigation records, and author interviews. Thus, whether the book succeeds in making a dent in the witch-hunt narrative depends, to put it bluntly, on whether we can trust Cheit to give a fair and accurate account of this material. A close look reveals enough evasions, highly tendentious interpretations, and verifiable inaccuracies to conclude that we cannot.”
Cathy Young in Reason magazine.
October 26th, 2014
“As a feminist, I’m not happy about the equation of masculinity with sexually tinged sadism or the stoicism to withstand it. But answering personal violence with state-sanctioned violence won’t make anyone any less violent.
“For kids, it’s just as likely to make them angrier, less empathetic, and stripped of hope.”
By Judith Levine, in Counterpunch
October 22nd, 2014
Coakley’s career as a prosecutor, and the careers of other prosecutors who seek to leverage their convictions to achieve higher office, deserve close scrutiny. If prosecutors seek to leverage their criminal justice convictions into higher elective office, examination of those convictions would seem to be fair game.
October 19th, 2014
“Indeed, Coakley nearly sending a young, innocent woman to prison is nothing to be proud of. It is certainly not worthy of a photo shoot in a political election.”