The rantings of a Public Defender constantly fighting against society's pervasive Police Industrial Complex. Enjoy the unique perspective of one whose life's work is to fight the system through the system.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

What do we make of Moussoaui?

I've learned that it's often wise to think for an extra moment before spouting off your opinion of something. Certainly in my line of work I have found that to be the case, as well as in life in general. The Moussoaui case is no exception.

Originally I was going to write what a huge verdict the jury came up with in that case, rejecting the death penalty when it was so clear that this evil blowhard had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 (and probably knew nothing about it until he heard about it on the news after it happened). His idiotic testimony (the factual allegations, not his beliefs, which are pure evil) where he tried to place himself at the center of al Qaeda was simply ludicrous. That being said, I couldn't imagine that people would see past the emotion of 9/11 to vote for anything but death.

I was very surprised. And I was going to post about how incredible it was that a Virginia jury actually showed that kind of discipline to sentence someone as evil as him to Life without parole despite his lack of involvement 9/11. Then, I found out that only 1 juror actually voted for life vs. 11 who voted for death. Now, that's a very different story.

What I find most interesting at this point is the difference in Federal Law vs. California Law. In California, a hung jury in the penalty phase means that the prosecution, may, at their discretion (I've never heard of the Court preventing it) retry the penalty phase. Evidently, in the federal system, a hung jury in the penalty phase means an automatic sentence of Life without Parole.

That is a much more sane system. I think that they should do it here in California. Think about it, the only debate here, after a hung jury, is how much time the person spends in prison before dying. I've already written about the huge costs to the state to try and put someone to death. But, to go through the whole thing again (much evidence of guilt has to be put on in the subsequent penalty trial to give the jury the idea of what the person did, so the trial lasts a lot longer than the first penalty phase, but probably not as long as the original trial) just to ensure that the person dies in prison a few years earlier than they would if they died natural death - all the while spending hundreds of thousands more (on trial - it costs even more for the appeals), is absurd.

Why not just give the person an LWOP (life without parole) sentence? Is it really that important that they go to the gas chamber?

Even more interestingly in the case of Moussoaui was the reaction of so many families of the 9/11 victims. For many of them there was a sense of relief that Moussoaui was going to just disappear from the scene, likely never to be heard from again. He is going to have a bad life for the rest of his life, he'll probably be in solitary confinement without any meaningful contact with the outside world for 40 or more years, while he simply withers away. I have to think that this will be equally satisfying for most people.

I've often mentioned the hollowness that I sense from the families of victims after an execution, "the person didn't suffer enough," "it took too long," "this was too good for him," etc.... There wil be none of this, as Moussoaui simply disappears into the woodwork of history.

All the better, if you ask me. Do you really think that making him a martyr would've done anything positive for the world? Would it have made our society better? Would it have left our country looking more advanced than any of those countries we're trying to teach freedom to? Would it have engendered any more respect for us? Would people have really wanted to hear Moussoaui's final statement as he's being executed extolling his martyrdom? I don't think so.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Back from Hiatus, will post soon

Don't ask me why, I just haven't posted in ages (3 months, I think). I'd love to tell you I've been exceptionally busy (I've been busy, but not too much so), or that I have had no inspirations (I've had some, but obviously nothing so burning it forced me to write). In general, I've just not been in the mood for writing of late. I think it's starting to change, and I have some thoughts I want to write about the Moussaoui trial, which I will post later.

I think that I've had to write some really big motions at work lately and have just burned out on writing for fun for a little while. It's starting to come back, though, don't worry.