Thursday, October 28, 2004

George WMD Bush Endorses John Kerry

From Lessig Blog the following:

George WMD Bush: “A political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts is not a person you want as commander in chief” (you have got to be kidding)

George Bush has apparently endorsed John Kerry for President, advising America that we don't want as commander in chief "a political candidate who jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts." True enough, Mr. President. How much better off we would have been had you not jumped to conclusions (re WMD) without knowing the facts.

Much better, no doubt, is a commander in chief who bases conclusions upon the facts, or, even better, acts when he learns of the facts (as this Administration did not do when it learned, in January, of the mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq and Cuba).

We could not agree more with the Professor. George WMD Bush, remember that "The Truth shall set you free" to go back to Crawford, TX.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Endorsements - Do they matter? We'll get what we deserve, either because of ignorance or apathy

I have no idea what weight any newspaper's endorsements for one candidate or another carry, but TalkLeft has this post on a few interesting Kerry endorsements.

First, The Des Moines Register, in a state that is a "must win" for Bush.
Yes, Kerry is liberal. But what's to fear from a liberal president? That he would run big deficits? That he would increase federal spending? That he would expand the power of the federal government over individuals' lives? Nothing Kerry could do could top what President Bush has already done in those realms.
Next, a Kerry endorsement from the Orlando Sentinel, which endorsed Bush in 2000. This is important because, as TalkLeft reports, "it is in the Tampa Bay/Orlando corridor which is critical to determining Florida's outcome."
This president has utterly failed to fulfill our expectations. We turn now to his Democratic challenger, Sen. John Kerry, with the belief that he is more likely to meet the hopes we once held for Mr. Bush.

Our choice was not dictated by partisanship. Already this election season, the Sentinel has endorsed Republican Mel Martinez for the U.S. Senate and four U.S. House Republicans. In 2002, we backed Republican Gov. Jeb Bush for re-election, repeating our endorsement of four years earlier. Indeed, it has been 40 years since the Sentinel endorsed a Democrat -- Lyndon Johnson -- for president.
As I wonder at the significance -if any- of these endorsements (you can find a running tally of endorsements here), I cannot help but refer you to an op-ed by Jeff Jacoby in today's Boston Globe on the The ignorant American voter. It discusses how little the average American actually knows of the issues, the candidates, and of their government in general, and cites to a number of studies done over the years that support this. So you have many going to vote who are actually voting without any real knowledge of what their vote means, and you have so many others that do not even bother to vote. If Americans only realized how much of their cherished freedom and democracy was riding on their ignorance and apathy, perhaps they would bother to learn and go vote.

So what sort of a mandate does the winner of a presidential election in which so many do not even bother to show up to vote have, when so many of even those that bother to show up don't really know what they're voting for? The answer is simple: he has the mandate that we in our ignorance and apathy have chosen to let him have. It's a sad thing to view American politics descend to stupid attack ads, distortions, and soundbites. But we cannot say we have not asked for it by our willful blindness.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Community Policing

We always hear of the importance of sports activities for youngsters to keep them out of trouble. Now I'm not sure, but Guatemala may be trying the same thing with some of the adult population.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

"I coulda been somebody, I coulda been a contender" - Well, you still can: Make sure everyone who can vote does vote

Just ask yourself: Do I want George W. Bush to make the next three or four nominations to the Supreme Court, or do I want John F. Kerry making these nominations?

My answer is a very simple one: John F. Kerry.

Looking at it from a distance -a not very far one given the internet- I can only say that I am amazed George W. Bush even stands a chance to win reelection, let alone that he may be ahead in the polls.

There is no way that if all eligible voters went to vote he could win. We do not want to be looking at post-mortems indicating that Republicans were more effective at getting out the vote than Democrats.

Your citizen skills are needed now more than ever. Volunteer immediately to help get voters to the polls. If Kerry loses, at least you will not have to tell yourself you could have done more. It is not enough to just go vote. You must assure others go as well.

Moreover, you can help educate persons who otherwise are somewhat apathetic to the idea of voting on the importance of their vote. But don't leave it at that. On election day, be sure they go vote. Take them there if you must. Every single vote is important. And if you can offer your assistance to make sure nobody's right to vote is improperly denied, then you will have done some of the most important pro bono work of the year.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Get out the Vote! Defeat Bush!!!

The extremely low percentage of voter turnout in U.S. elections is something that to those of us living in Puerto Rico (and to those living in Afghanistan) must be hard to understand. It is as if the U.S. had lost faith in the very democracy it wants to spread all over the world.

And I can simply not understand how any Republican could be elected president if there were a half decent (by world standards) voter turnout. If each American decided to take it upon himself to see that three other persons went to vote (not much of an effort) we would not be discussing whether Kerry might beat Bush, but only counting Mr. Bush's last days at the White House.

Please, make an effort. Help George W. Bush back to Crawford!!

Booker & Fanfan Oral Argument Transcript

You may now access the Booker & Fanfan oral argument transcript before the Supreme Court.

Shepard v. United States, No. 03-9168

For the sake of brevity, we refer you to our prior posts here and here regarding Shepard v. United States., No. 03-9168. For some time, observers -myself included- have thought this would be a good case for the Court to revisit Almendarez-Torres. The NACDL amicus brief in support of petitioner Shepard strongly addressed this, only dealing with the actual question presented in a secondary fashion. However, Petitioner Shepard's Merits Brief does not even cite Almendarez-Torres, and the Government's Merits Brief in Shepard v. United States, addresses the issue raised only by NACDL's amicus brief by arguing as follows:
D. The Continuing Validity Of Almendarez-Torres Is Not Before This Court

Amicus the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers contends (Br. 6-22) that Almendarez-Torres , supra , was wrongly decided. NACDL further contends that the decision has been undercut by Apprendi, supra, and its progeny, and that this Court should overrule the decision. For several reasons, this Court should decline that invitation. First, under this Court’s Rule 14.1(a), only a question that is “set out in the petition” or “fairly included therein” will be considered by the Court. The petition presents only questions concerning the kinds of materials a sentencing court may consult to determine whether a prior burglary conviction was for a generic burglary, see Pet. i-ii, and specifically indicated that “[n]o constitutional provision is involved” in this case. Pet. 1. Nor is the question “fairly included.” Amicus does not contend otherwise, indicating that the validity of Almendarez-Torres is an additional issue to be decided “as well as the Taylor issue on which certiorari was granted.” NACDL Br. 2. See generally Yee v. Escondido, 503 U.S. 519, 535 (1992) (Court “disregard[s] [this rule] ‘only in the most exceptional cases,’ where reasons of urgency or of economy suggest the need to address the unpresented question in the case under consideration”) (quoting Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465, 481, n.15 (1976)). Second, petitioner presented no comparable claim in the courts below. See 02-1216 Pet. C.A. Br. 1-46; 99-2167 Pet. C.A. Br. 1-19. See generally Pennsylvania Dep’t of Corrs. v. Yeskey, 524 U.S. 206, 212-213 (1998) (“Where issues are neither raised before nor considered by the Court of Appeals, this Court will not ordinarily consider them.”) (quoting Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 147 n.2 (1970)). Finally, this Court “do[es] not ordinarily address issues raised only by amici.” Kamen v. Kemper Fin. Servs., Inc., 500 U.S. 90, 97 n.4 (1991). There is no reason for the Court simultaneously to depart from all of those sound practices in this case.

In any event, the Court in Apprendi was correct in declining to disturb Almendarez-Torres. As the Court stressed in Almendarez-Torres, that case involves recidivism, which is “as typical a sentencing factor as one might imagine.” 523 U.S. at 230 (citing, among other statutes, 18 U.S.C. 924(e)). Principles of notice and fundamental fairness do not require that prior convictions be alleged in the indictment or found by a jury in order for the defendant to be sentenced to a longer term as a recidivist. A defendant cannot claim surprise concerning the fact of a prior conviction, because he previously underwent the criminal process that led to the judgment.

In addition, as the Court observed in Apprendi, “there is a vast difference between accepting the validity of a prior judgment of conviction entered in a proceeding in which the defendant had the right to a jury trial and the right to require the prosecutor to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt”—which Almendarez-Torres permits—and allowing a judge rather than a jury to find in the first instance facts that “relate to the commission of the offense itself.” 530 U.S. at 496 (internal quotation marks omitted). Indeed, “unlike virtually any other consideration used to enlarge the possible penalty for an offense, * * * a prior conviction must itself have been established through procedures satisfying the fair notice, reasonable doubt, and jury trial guarantees.” Jones, 526 U.S. at 249; accord Apprendi, 530 U.S. at 488 (noting “certainty” in Almendarez-Torres that “procedural safeguards attached to any ‘fact’ of prior conviction”). Extension of Apprendi to the fact of prior convictions also would disserve future defendants’ interests by bringing their prior criminal misconduct to the attention of jurors. “As this Court has long recognized, the introduction of evidence of a defendant’s prior crimes risks significant prejudice.” Almendarez-Torres, 523 U.S. at 235; Old Chief v. United States, 519 U.S. 172, 185 (1997) (“there can be no question that evidence of the name or nature of the prior offense generally carries a risk of unfair prejudice to the defendant”); Spencer v. Texas, 385 U.S. 554, 560 (1967) (evidence of prior crimes “is generally recognized to have potentiality for prejudice”); cf. also id. at 563-564 (Due Process Clause does not require bifurcated proceeding when jury resolves recidivist sentencing issues). Finally, this Court has repeatedly denied review in cases that (unlike this case) fairly presented the question whether Almendarez-Torres should be overruled in light of Apprendi, most recently just two weeks before the writ of certiorari was granted in this case. [n. 16]

Under the circumstances, it would be extraordinary for this Court to address a question of such potential significance—which could affect tens of thousands of sentences—in a case in which the question was not raised in the petition for a writ of certiorari (or even in petitioner’s merits brief), and when the question has not been the subject of full briefing by the parties.

[n. 16] See, e.g., Pineda-Cortes v. United States, 124 S. Ct. 2813 (2004) (No. 03-9287); Garza-Garza v. United States, 124 S. Ct. 2096 (2004) (No. 03-8730); Garcia-Saldivar v. United States, 124 S. Ct. 2067 (2004) (No. 03-8536); Meza-Gonzalez v. United States, 124 S. Ct. 2017 (2004) (No. 03-8468); Sanchez-Medina v. United States, 124 S. Ct. 1655 (2004) (No. 03-7510); Lapsley v. United States, 124 S. Ct. 1409 (2004) (No. 03-7331); Jones v. United States, 124 S. Ct. 1145 (2004) (No. 03-6784); Hitt v. Kansas, 537 U.S. 1104 (2003) (No. 01-10864); Bradshaw v. United States, 537 U.S. 1049 (2002) (No. 02-5015); Hagen v. United States, 537 U.S. 828 (2002) (No. 01-9064); Gray v. United States, 536 U.S. 963 (2002) (No. 01-8724); Luzardo v. United States, 536 U.S. 962 (2002) (No. 01-6491); Lozano-Ortiz v. United States, 535 U.S. 1113 (2002) (No. 01-8092); Ford v. United States, 535 U.S. 1098 (2002) (No. 01-7399); Bulgin v. United States, 535 U.S. 1095 (2002) (No. 01-742); Reyes v. United States, 535 U.S. 932 (2002) (No. 01-6151).
Respondent's Brief at 43-46. Petitioner Shepard's Brief did cite to Jones, Apprendi and Blakely, for the proposition that the First Circuit's interpretation of Taylor v. United States, 495 U.S. 575 (1990) allows the Court to go beyond the mere prior conviction and into the realm of adjudicating by a preponderance of the evidence whether said prior conviction's underlying facts (as culled from police reports rather than merely the judgment) constituted a predicate offense for purposes of the Armed Career Act. Judge Selya's concurrence in the panel's judgment was only because prior panel decisions forced him to concurr, but he indicated he viewed these as wrongly decided and in violation of the Supreme Court's rule in Taylor.

I believe that petitioner Shepard will win this case, unless the Court is ready to set aside Taylor. As to the Almendarez-Torres issue raised by amicus NACDL, I am still wondering whether the Court will actually touch upon it. Certiorari was granted in Shepard on June 21, 2004, only 3 days before Blakely was decided. Oral argument in Shepard is set for Monday, November 8, 2004.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Bush & the Courts: A Marriage of Convenience & a Quick Divorce

President Bush does not seem to trust the Courts much, from what I gather from his campaign. Can somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this the guy who became President by judicial fiat? Am I missing something here? Then again, other than for that funny little case that made him President, even Dick Cheney has fared better than he has before the Courts, so it's perhaps understandable he has filed for divorce.

The Pope's Ferrari

For years I've been waitng for the next year's Pope-mobile model, much as others wait for other car models, only to be frustrated in seeing the Pope stick to his same model. But now it all appears to have changed, drastically.
Ferrari president Luca Montezemolo said today the Italian Formula One team would build a special car for Pope John Paul II to mark his 26 years as pontiff.

"We will make a Ferrari Formula One car especially for the pope," Mr Montezemolo told reporters on a visit to the Vatican.

However, Mr Montezemolo drew the line at changing the colour of the car from its customary red to a different shade that the pontiff might prefer.

"The Pope would not be best pleased to see a Ferrari that wasn't a Ferrari," he remarked.

I can't wait to see him drive it, or even ride in it! And just think of the advertising campaign.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Some of my Favorite Music

My musical interests can be very broad. Last night it was a lot of Bach Cello Suites by Yo-Yo Ma and Pablo Casals. Soul-searching music.

It can't all be law and politics and so, today, as the afternoon fades away, I've been listening to two of my favorite albums, and I thought I'd let you in on them so you can start getting ready for Christmas giving (and don't forget to give yourself one of each as well). No, really, these are two fantastic albums.

The first, probably my favorite album - Getz/Gilberto (Stan Getz, tenor sax, Joao Gilberto, guitar, vocals, Antonio Carlos Jobim, piano, and Astrud Gilbertoon some vocals). It is really soothing bossa nova music, probably one of the best albums ever. Just listen to some of the samples, Girl from Ipanema, Desafinado, Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars). You will not be sorry if you get this album. This incredible album has been around for some time, having been recorded about 1964. Good music lasts forever! But beware of another album also named Getz/Gilberto, because it is a lousy album. As the story goes, Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto had agreed to make two albums. The first was the linked to fantastic one. The other is a lousy album, to fulfill a contract obligation, but when Getz and Gilberto had already had their differences after Stan stole Joao's wife, Astrud. Not a nice thing to do to a friend.

Then there is Sax for Lovers [Sony] - another really great album I got in one of those chance buys and it turned out to be terrific. This is one of those albums in which they have included an all-star lineup of sax players: Ben Webster, Gerry Mulligan, Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, Stanley Turrentine, Paul Desmond, Arthur Blythe, Tom Scott, Kirk Whalum, and Grover Washington, Jr. The music is fantastic. There is not a bad or mediocre song or musician on this album. If you like tenor sax, this you will love. Warning: If you sit by yourself to listen to this album you will have a hard time not drifting into a dream-like state. One of my favorite all time albums. Makes a great present for any friend you want to give great music to, especially yourself.

FBI's I-Drives

This has been going around for some months now, but for those of you who are not aware of this, you should read NACDL's article by Jack King, The FBI's I-Drives -- The Real "X-Files" which every criminal defense lawyer practicing in federal courts should be well aware of. Anyone who has obtained a Court order specifically addressed to the FBI's I-Drives is urged to post a comment.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

More on Shepard v. United States, No. 03-9168

Shepard v. United States, No. 03-9168, is a case which we previously discussed here as one in which the Court could well revisit and overrule Almendarez-Torres.

The NACDL filed an amicus brief in which it argues precisely that, arguing the Court's application of Taylor as error only as a secondary matter (albeit an important one).

The petitioner's merits brief, however, does not even cite Almendarez-Torres., although it cites to Apprendi and Blakely, and it should be noted that cert. was granted just a few days before Blakely was decided. I have not seen the Solicitor General's merits brief and cannot find it at the Office of the Solicitor General's site, so I do not know whether they have or will address the Almendarez-Torres issue raised by NACDL.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Yes, I wanted to be a Mountie . . . and a Gaucho, a Mexican "Charro" and even one of Fidel Castro's militias!!

Tom and the Mounties

In case you are wondering, I'm the guy on the far right who is getting shot and firing back one last shot as I go down. Yes, I know the hat was a bit large for my head, but I grew into it. The others are my cousins, including the one pulling up her pants in the midst of a shootout! Girls!!

I found this picture not too long ago as I was scavenging in my old boyhood bedroom. My grandparents would travel a lot, and wherever they went, they would bring us different outfits. Thus, at different times I was a "Gaucho" with my "boleadoras" and all. (Those things could kill someone. See here and here.) At other times I was a Mexican Charro all dressed up ready to serenade some "señorita" or get into a fight, probably preferring the latter. And once we even ended up wearing Fidel Castro's militias' olive greens with the 26th of July revolution badge and all. That was a result of a trip to Cuba just as Fidel Castro had taken over and Fulgencio Batista had fled. Castro was still seen by many as the Messiah who had liberated Cuba.

Then came the days when the TV set was King and I would watch Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Highway Patrol, Perry Mason, Sea Hunt, Bat Masterson, Texas Rangers, Bonanza, Wyatt Earp, Cisco Kid, and sooo many more. And all of these programs were translated into Spanish, including the theme songs. So I know the songs for many of these in Spanish and sing them to my wife whenever I want to get her really annoyed, particularly because I'm a lousy singer, although that has never been an impediment.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

US v. Detwiler, CR 03-372-PA (D.Ore. October 5, 2004)

In United States v. Richard Detwiler, No. CR 03-372-PA (D.Ore. October 5, 2004), Senior U.S. District Judge Owen M. Panner holds:
1. The federal Sentencing Guidelines system, in its present form, is unconstitutional because it violates the separation of powers doctrine.

2. The defects are not severable.

3. The federal Sentencing Guidelines will be treated as true guidelines, and not mandates, when imposing sentence in this and all future cases, pending further directions from a higher court or the Congress.
As you can tell, this was not an issue of applying Blakely to the federal sentencing guidelines. It is a district court reconsideration -sort of- of Mistretta, given the impact that -surprise, surprise- the Feeney Amendment has had on the U.S. Sentencing Commission and how that amendment has wreaked havoc on what the Supreme Court envisioned the Sentencing Commission as in Mistretta. Only the discussion on separation of powers is not as between the legislative and judiciary, which Mistretta dealt with, but between the judiciary and the executive branches.

Prior to the Booker & Fanfan oral arguments I started doing some reading on the Supreme Court cases from Mistretta onwards. When I re-read Mistretta, in light of what we now know of the manner in which the U.S. Sentencing Commission has operated, only Justice Scalia's dissent made any sense.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission should be doing double time right now by making the guidelines Sixth Amendment friendly, as well as preparing proposals for Congress. Or does the Sentencing Commission think it should leave that job to the Department of Justice?!

Cheney's "Facts"

I have belatedly discovered FactCheck.Org thanks to Vice-President Cheney's reference to - which leads you to George which we are most certain is not the website Cheney wanted to plug during his debate with Sen. John Edwards last night.

In any event, after visiting FactCheck.Org we found that it is a great site for seeking out the truth., and -as to last night's Vice-Presidential debate, you can check out the real facts there. There were factual mistakes and distortions on both sides, but I think the intended site clearly paints Mr. Cheney as the one who was outright and knowingly lying the most, rather than simply making mistakes as to facts. Don't believe me. Go see for yourselves.

All I saw from last night's debate was more fear-mongering from the Bush-Cheney camp.

Remember the words of FDR: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

First Circuit Grants Petition for Rehearing en banc in U.S. v. Councilman

We previously reported here on the First Circuit's 2-1 opinion in United States v. Councilman, slip op. No. 03-1383 (1st Cir. June 29, 2004) on internet privacy - an opinion that was strongly and widely criticized. Judge Torruella wrote the majority opinion, joined by Senior Judge Cyr, with Judge Lipez dissenting.

The United States moved for rehearing and rehearing en banc, and we also reported here on the filing of an amici brief in support of the United States' petition for rehearing and for rehearing en banc in the First Circuit.

It now appears that the First Circuit -as seen here- has granted the petition for rehearing en banc.In so doing, the Court has indicated, in part, as follows:

Although the parties can address other issues in their supplemental submissions, and the en banc court is free to consider all of the issues presented, the court specifically requests that the parties address the following questions:

1. Whether the conduct at issue in this case could have been additionally, or alternatively, prosecuted under the Stored Communications Act?

2. Whether the rule of lenity precludes prosecution in this case?

Oral argument is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. on December 8, 2004 in the en banc courtroom in the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse.

The court welcomes timely motions to file amicus briefs concerning any of the issues in this appeal.

This is very good news for anyone concerned with privacy issues. Hat tip to Orin Kerr at The Volohk Conspiracy.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Are Booker & Fanfan just the start of S.Ct. v. Congress on Federal Sentencing? -or- The Future of Mandatory Minimums

It is unfortunate that we will not be able to listen to the argument, and I only hope that a transcript does not take long to be posted somewhere. Jason Hernandez over at Blakely Blog will be attending, as will Professor Douglas Berman from Sentencing Law & Policy. I envy them both for being able to be present during these arguments! Jason expects to have something up at Blakely Blog by about 4 p.m.

We predict that the Court's Blakely majority will hold together and apply Blakely to the federal sentencing guidelines. We have no idea what the Court will do as to the issue of severability. But it appears to us that whatever the Court does on severability, the next move will be in Congress. We think that this post at Sentencing Law & Policy which quotes a set of "DC Observations" from Baylor Law Professor Mark Osler is a worthy but depressing read as to the Congressional mindset. But perhaps the last word will not be more mandatory minimums as many think is the likely Congressional reaction, or -even if it is more mandatory minimums, that these will not survive Court scrutiny. Professor Berman has a very encouraging post in which he indicates that
Though everyone seems to assume mandatory minimum sentencing is immune from the Apprendi/Blakely rule due to the High Court's decision in Harris, Justice Breyer expressed great reservations about his vote in that case. If Congress passes an array of mandatories after Booker and Fanfan, serious reconsideration of Harris might come sooner rather than later.
He goes on to mention the Angelos case now pending before District Judge Paul Cassell in Utah., of Croxford fame. Check out the two complete posts at SL&P.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Wishing T. Christopher Kelly and Rosemary Scapicchio the Best!

It appears from the Supreme Court's Hearing List for the Session Beginning October 4, 2004 that Acting Solicitor General Paul D. Clement will argue both Booker and Fanfan; T. Christopher Kelly, of Madison, Wis., will argue for respondent Booker in No. 04–104; and Rosemary Scapicchio, Boston, Mass., will argue for respondent Fanfan in No. 04–105. There will be 2 hours of argument.

Professor Berman indicates at Sentencing Law & Policy that he finds it "a bit of news [that Acting Solicitor General Clement will be arguing both cases] because Deputy Solicitor General Michael Dreeben is reputed to be the 'point person' on these cases, and he argued on behalf of the United States as amici in Blakely." I think they are probably trying to avoid having the same attorney now standing before the Court telling them that the differences between the Washington State sentencing guidelines and the federal sentencing guidelines are all of a sudden of Constitutional significance. It should be interesting to see how much time the Court actually devotes to questions addressing the applicability of Blakely to the federal sentencing guidelines as compared to the more complex issue of severability.

I believe the respondents briefs are excellent, as are those of many of the amici filing in their support. Never having done it, I can only assume that arguing any case, let alone one of the importance of these consolidated ones, before the Supreme Court would give an attorney some butterflies, so we wish T. Chris Kelly and Rosemary Scapicchio the best of luck.

It is unfortunate that we will not be able to listen to the argument, and I only hope that a transcript does not take long to be posted somewhere.

Booker & Fanfan Oral Arguments Will Not to Be Broadcast, and how to obtain transcripts before the 10-15 days usual period

We have been informed that there will be no exception as to no live broadcast of the Booker & Fanfan oral arguments on Monday, October 4th, in the afternoon. Through BOPWatch I have learned that " When the transcripts become available however, they are posted to the Supreme Court's website ( (about 10-15 days after argument) and (with the audio) on Oyez. Transcripts of Supreme Court arguments are available in the Supreme Court Library, about 10 days after the argument. But I have also learned through BOPWatch that the only official (contract) Courtroom reporter, Alderson Reporting Company, provides these transcripts to persons wishing to obtain them sooner than they are posted, for a fee. If you are interested, you should contact Alderson at (202) 289-2260, or

UPDATE: For complete details as to how and where transcripts of oral arguments can be obtained (both paying and free) click here.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Calling for Moratorium on Executions in Harris County, Texas

TalkLeft reports here that

Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt and State Sen. Rodney Ellis are calling for a moratorium on executions in Harris County, Texas due to the uncertainty of lab evidence used to obtain convictions...and the number of exonerations. Any final decision is up to the courts.

Harris County is probably the nation's death penalty capital. A comment added to the post indicates that "When they can finally get around to it, after reviewing all of the cases of (living) death row inmates, or if the funding expands, the Innocence Project should probably start here to find the first wrongly executed man."