Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"This is pure red meat"

That's what the New York Times Book Review said about David R. Dow's "The Autobiography of an Execution," published this year by Little Brown.

The Times reviewer wrote:

Dow is a far cry from a shouting lunatic, and the farthest thing from a bleeding-heart abolitionist. He has a pickup truck, a taste for bourbon and a dog. “I do not want my clients to be killed, and I can’t stand them,” he writes. You’ll find Dow at least three stops past the Clint Eastwood mile marker on the Flinty Guy Highway. He is so bare-bones he won’t even use quotation marks.

* * * *

Throughout the book, Dow toggles back and forth between his capital cases and life with his wife and 6-year-old son in Houston. Readers who don’t care about his son’s T-ball practices or his wife’s dance classes may find this background distracting, but for Dow his family is a lifeline back from the death chamber.

It can’t be a coincidence that in a book about the brutal reality of capital punishment there is — in addition to the bourbon and cigars — a piece of steak, a rare hamburger, a piece of grass-fed sirloin or a roasted chicken on just about every other page. Dow isn’t doing high constitutional theory here; this is pure red meat.

What Dow exposes in this dark, raw memoir is not just a dispassionate machinery of death that cannot be slowed, reversed or mediated by truth, logic or fact. He also exposes the inner life of a man who, in the face of all that, cannot give up the fight.

Nobody but Dow could have told Dow’s story.
MESJ (Mississippians Educating for Smart Justice) has announced that it is bringing Professor Dow of the University of Houston to the Lemuria "Dot Com" Building on Tuesday, April 6, 2010 for a book signing and discussion. The book signing is at 5 pm and the talk will begin at 5:30.

Please join us!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hinds County DA Smith wants a grand jury investigation of Jackson PD over handling of Irby case

I caught this on WLBT's 10 p.m. report, and I couldn't help noticing something incongruous.  To make a really long story short, Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith is concerned about how the Jackson Police Department handled the investigation of the wreck involving Karen Irby and two young doctors.  Originally, JPD investigators determined that Karen Irby had been driving around 114 mph when she crossed lanes into oncoming traffic and collided with the truck carrying the doctors.  As the DA's Office prepared for trial, they discovered that there were numerous mistakes in the crash investigation, and they blame the accident reconstruction detective, who isn't board certified.  The DA now wants the grand jury to investigate JPD.

Here's the problem: For 12 years, nearly every law enforcement agency north of I-10 sent nearly every corpse it had to a guy who wasn't certified to do autopsies, and nobody wants to investigate that....

Onward Christian Soldiers?

The New York Times reports on the indictments of nine Detroit-area members of the "christian militia" Hutaree:

Nine members of a Michigan-based Christian militia group have been indicted on sedition and weapons charges in connection with an alleged plot to murder law enforcement officers in hopes of setting off an antigovernment uprising.

In court filings unsealed Monday, the Justice Department accused the nine people of planning to kill an unidentified law enforcement officer, then plant improvised explosive devices of a type used by insurgents in Iraq to attack the funeral procession.
These folks are more than a little bit creepy. The lists for discussion on their website (which is where I got the above picture) include the "Evil Jew Forum" -- which I can't access because I'm not (and never going to be) a "member."
But the open forum is bad enough. Take this post, for instance:

Posted by: JC MADLOVE
Date: March 29, 2010 01:29PM

Jesus loving, gun toting militiamen ready to fight for our Lord in the oncoming battle between good and evil. Looking for like minded, god fearing men in North Carolina willing to take a bullet for Jesus. I've got survivalist training and I once killed a grizzly bear. Anyone looking to meet up in the Forsyth area send me an email. Sarah Palin 2012!!!!!!
and this response:
Date: March 29, 2010 01:34PM

JC, I sent you an e-mail. I agree completely. The only way to defend the spirit of GOD from the Anti-Christ is to kill the local policemen that keep us safe. GOD will not be satisfied until the bodies of OVER 9000 policemen are stacked high in the streets, set ablaze in a demonstration of LIBERTY AND FREEDOM You may take away our guns, but you'll never take away our LOVE OF CHRIST~~!!!
Is it real or a parody? Who the hell knows?!?
One good thing: these nut-jobs aren't in Mississippi. Whew.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

AG Jim Hood to Gov. Haley Barbour: Cool your jets, man

Immediately after passage of the new health care insurance reform legislation, Gov. Barbour issued an ultimatum to AG Hood, telling him to file suit against the federal government on behalf of the State of Mississippi by noon today, or else Barbour would go ahead and file it himself.

There are, of course, a couple of problems with this.  First, the bill's about 1000 pages long, so no one can say for certain what portions of it would be subject to legal challenge.  Second, the "fix" bill hasn't yet been passed, meaning that the legislation's still a moving target, which would make legal action premature at this point.  Third, the "legal" arguments put forward against the new law aren't very strong thus far.  In fact, they border on pathetic.  (Will Bardwell's got a great set of posts on this, here and here.)  Which brings us to the fourth point: Barbour's supposed to be against frivolous lawsuits, right?

Anyway, Hood says he needs more time to study the legislation and make a determination.  In a letter to Barbour today, Hood tells Barbour this.  In addition, and perhaps most interestingly, Hood tells Barbour that Barbour is not authorized to file suit on behalf of the State.  What happens if Barbour thumbs his nose at Hood and files suit anyway?

h/t Clarion-Ledger for the copy of the letter

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sen. David Baria unloads on Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney for comments in C-L story

In a press release sent out today, Sen. David Baria of Bay St. Louis rips into Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney over a Clarion-Ledger article I blogged about yesterday.  Here's the entire press release:
An article appeared in the Clarion-Ledger Sunday, March 21, 2010 in which Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney is quoted as saying that I told him that I was running against him for Insurance Commissioner in 2011.  While I believe Mississippi needs a new Insurance Commissioner, I will not be opposing him in 2011.  I'll be running for re-election to the Mississippi Senate.

But, how this story materialized says a whole lot about Mike Chaney.  Recently I was at a social function with Commissioner Chaney and Senator Billy Hewes.  The two of them were joking with each other and both of them were kidding me about rumors that I would be running for Lt. Governor and for Insurance Commissioner. When I assured both of them that I would be seeking re-election to the Senate, they both expressed concern (again, in a joking fashion) because, as they said, they had used my possible candidacy as an aid in their fundraising.  So, I jokingly said, "Okay Mike, if it'll help your campaign, I will tell people that I'm running against you."  We all laughed and I didn't think another thing about it. 
Continued after the break...

Sweet Potato Queens tell Jackson to take this parade and shove it, they ain't marchin' here no more

WLBT broke this yesterday evening, but JFP just posted a more in-depth piece today.  Jill Conner Browne, head Sweet Potato Queen, has determined that Downtown Jackson is too small for her Queens.  She apparently thinks the Renaissance strip mall in Ridgeland is more fitting for her group.  (Yeah, Madison County's gonna love their family-friendly act.)  Feedback on this has been rather negative for the SPQs, but I don't expect Her Highness to go back on her decision. 

After it's all said and done, the SPQ's are Jill's thing, so if she wants to wreck it, that's up to her.  My analysis is that the vast majority of the crowds at the annual Mal's St. Paddy's Parade show up for reasons other than the Queens.  Namely, they come Downtown to celebrate creativity, the emergence of Spring, and to just plain party.  With respect to the women who travel in from around the country (and world) to be a part of the SPQ vibe, I think a good number of them won't like the change.  For example, I ran into several dozen Queens from around the country Friday night at Hal & Mal's, and they were rather disgruntled over not having the annual Parade Eve SPQ party there.  (They all jumped in cabs and came down from the County Line Hilton, where they'd been cooped-up by Her Highness.)  I'm pretty certain they weren't the only ones.

In the end, I can't help but think this will be a minor loss for Jackson, and a major loss for Jill.

Video of early Mal's St. Paddy's Parade in Downtown Jackson

WLBT posted a video of the 1983 Mal's St. Paddy's Parade in Downtown Jackson.  The title says "The 1st Mal's St. Paddy's Parade," but this was actually from the 2nd one.  The first Parade was held in 1982.  Awesome video, nonetheless.  Check out the cars driving down the opposite side of the street.  My, how it's grown.

h/t WLBT's Twitter feed

Columbus Dispatch runs a story on a Columbus-area public defender

Here's an interview with Donna Smith, a public defender serving our Golden Triangle.  It's always nice to see the media interacting with public defenders, since it helps bring awareness to what exactly it is that we do.  I think Donna puts it well when she says:
"If you want to be a lawyer because you believe in the rights guaranteed by our Constitution and want to see those rights protected, you have a shot at becoming a level-headed lawyer who will actually help some of your clients." 
Far too often, the public gets the wrong idea about the purpose of our criminal justice system, and more importantly, how we as a society go about insuring that our beloved freedoms are actually protected.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Despite what Mike Chaney says, David Baria's not running for Insurance Commissioner

In Molly Parker's article today, she briefly covers the 2011 Insurance Commissioner race.  She writes:

Republican Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney said he recently heard a rumor that Democratic state Sen. David Baria, D-Bay St. Louis, was planning to challenge him.
Baria is most known for his role as president of the Mississippi Trial Lawyers Association during tort reform discussions in the Capitol several years ago.
"I talked to him Monday night and said, 'Are you running for commissioner?' And he said, 'If anybody asks me, I'm going to tell them I'm running.' "
Baria said he is running for re-election to the Senate.
Here's the problem:  David Baria's not running for Insurance Commissioner, and Mike Chaney knows that.  In fact, Baria and Chaney joked about it Monday night.  (That's what the conversation was about; Chaney joked that he needed Baria in the race in order to raise money.)  I'm a little concerned that Mike Chaney, a good man, may have been misquoted and made to look silly. 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Is Hayne commenting over at clarionledger.com?

I'm pretty sure these comments don't belong to Hayne, but they were posted on the Clarion-Ledger's website this morning, underneath the story about the head doctor for the Forensic Medical autopsy firm getting busted for pot:

From WAAYTV.COM; Tennessee Health Commissioner SUSAN COOPER said the state is taking immediate action to end its contract with Levy, who has been chief medical examiner since March 1998. Before that, he was chief medical examiner for Metro Nashville beginning in 1997.
Doctor Steven Hayne never had a dope problem. He won his case against the Innocent Project, which the CL never reported. Dr Haynes has always been honest and fair in performing his work.
The italicized portion is false.  The case is still pending.  The sentence after that is just plain disturbing.
The Tennessee Medical Examiner was the brain child of Steve Simpson and Governor Haley Barber. This group of Doctors was supposed to set the standard. They were the “GOLD STANDARD” according to the Legislature, Steve Simpson and the Governor.
I wonder what they are thinking tonight after getting rid of all the DOCTORS from Tennessee today.
I wonder if DR. LEVI has been under investigation in Tennessee before all this happened. With all the investigative reporters that the CL has, it might be worth a trip to Nashville to find out, and during this time of budgets cuts find out how much the STATE has paid these Doctors. I bet it is more than Dr Hayne has been paid!!!!!!!!
Why is Dr. Levy's name misspelled and in all CAPS?  And why is this commenter so concerned with what the Guvnah and Steve Simpson are thinking? 
I also notice the CL never mention the bag marked and sealed from TENNEESSEE BREAU of Investigations that had dope in it and it was not the wacky weed. Is the FBI going to get involved since this package was delivery across state lines by Fed-Ex?
Some one with the CL needs to do more investigating!!!!!!
How on Earth would this person know any details of an investigation?

My guess is that this is some Madison-area law enforcement official, based on his previous comments.  But it's much funnier to picture Hayne with a half-empty bottle of whiskey flailing away at a keyboard and misspelling every 5th word.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

This is bound to be interesting: Orgeron is on Twitter

I'm not really sure how he's going to have time to tweet, between all of the Red Bull drinking and highlight tape watching, but here it is, nonetheless:  Coach Orgeron is on Twitter.  I have no doubt this will be entertaining.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Rumbling back to life...

OK, folks, I'm back from blog hiatus.  I apologize for the lack of updates over the last month, but some things are just a bit more important than blogging.  During my absence, I noted several things that I wanted to pass along, and in no particular order, here they are:

  1.  Sid Salter jumped into a food fight with Philip Thomas, who remains one of my favorite blawgers.  Take a look at it in the comments found here.  I was somewhat surprised that Salter would jump in and comment like he did.  Seemed out of character.  But hey, we're all entitled to get our feathers ruffled every now and again.
  2. Speaking of Mr. Salter, he's got an article up that everyone needs to read.  Under current law, private nursing homes are not required to carry liability insurance that would cover them up to the $500,000 cap on liability they obtained during the Tort Reform era in the early 2000's.  HB 536 would fix that.  State Sen. Buck Clarke has the bill in his committee, and it looks like he's going to try to kill it.  John Maxey and Beth Clay have been hired by the nursing homes to attempt to kill the legislation.  John Maxey is a very well-respected health care lawyer, and Beth Clay is considered by many to be the top lobbyist in the State.  It's going to take quite a bit of grassroots support to get HB 536 out of Sen. Clarke's grip.  Here's Sen. Clarke's webpage, complete with his email and phone number.  Let him know how you feel.
  3. Will Bardwell continues to do an excellent job over at his blawg.  He and Philip Thomas jumped all over the "majority" opinion in Wright v. Royal Carpet Services, handed down last week by the Court of Appeals.  To put it succinctly, the Wright opinion says that if a party loses a motion in limine and then is the first to mention the objectionable evidence at trial, the issue is waived for appellate purposes.  Put me down as agin' it. 
  4. Radley Balko linked a fascinating website the other day that you all need to see.  Letterheady.com is a collection of letterhead from famous people/entities, and will eat up a few hours of your day if you're not careful. Check out Nickola Tesla's.