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Judge Rules Death Penalty Unconstitutional

Discussion in 'Cop Talk' started by lawman_77008, Mar 4, 2010.

  1. lawman_77008

    lawman_77008 JBT

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    Local judge rules death penalty unconstitutional

    Updated at 10:13 PM today

    HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Harris County's district attorney is livid after a local judge's ruling Thursday. He said the death penalty is unconstitutional. Now District Attorney Pat Lykos is saying justice could be delayed.

    DA Pat Lykos says politics has no role in justice, but now some are questioning whether politics has crept in. What happened inside Judge Kevin Fine's court today quickly became the talk of the courthouse.

    "All over the internet, list serve, phone calls going around," said defense attorney Kent Schaffer.

    And all the attention not for what a jury did but for the judge did.

    "We will not stand for it," said District Attorney Pat Lykos.

    It was a pretrial motions hearing for capital murder defendant John Green who was accused of gunning down two sisters, one fatally, a year and a half ago in front of two children. Green's defense team filed a motion challenging the constitutionality of the death penalty. It's one they've filed before.

    "With other defendants in other courts and other judges," said Robert K. Loper, Green's Attorney.

    However, it has never been granted. Judge Fine is now their exception.

    "Today, Kevin Fine has stood up and said the death penalty statute is broken and doesn't work anymore," said Casey Keirnan, Green's Attorney.

    Even though it's the law in Texas, the judge declared the death penalty unconstitutional. It was a victory for those against capital punishment.

    "I think he took an enlightened approach, took a very courageous approach," said Loper.

    But it angers the district attorney.

    "We're very disappointed and dismayed by this decision," Lykos said.

    She believes it will only delay justice for the victim's family as prosecutors are forced to appeal.

    "The issues raised in this motion have been litigated over and over again and they've been rejected by the appellate courts," said Lykos.

    As a state district judge, Fine can do whatever he wants in his court. The only people he has to answer to are those who elected him. But with such a controversial ruling, his motive is being questioned.

    "The courtroom of a judge isn't his fiefdom to decide what the law is. It's to follow the law and one would question whether he's following the law or legislating," said KTRK Legal Analyst Joel Androphy.

    The DA says they'll be working to file the appropriate motions to appeal. While Green's defense team hopes the ruling will be upheld, few believe it actually will be. Harris County is infamous for being the death penalty capital of the world.

    Because the judge who made the comments is a Democrat, Republicans are pouncing.

    "This is why this is so unique and so surprising and really outrageous to the extent that the law is already settled in this area," said Jared Woodfill, Harris County Republican Party.

    Judge Fine is up for re-election in November 2012.

    http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/local&id=7313041
     
  2. Notrega

    Notrega

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  3. wjv

    wjv Zip It Stan Lee.. . .

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    In other news, Harris county judge Kevin Fine received 127 separate moving violations as he attempted to drive home from the court house last night. . . . . .
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2010
  4. janice6

    janice6 Silver Member

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    "Judge Fine is up for re-election in November 2012. " The judge doesn't sound "Fine" to me, just Mediocre.
     
  5. Morris

    Morris CLM

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    Odd thing. When a close family member is brutally raped, then her throat hacked open and she bleeds to death, will he feel the same about the death penalty?
     
  6. snair

    snair

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  7. kirgi08

    kirgi08 Watcher. Silver Member

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    He won't care,he is still breathing.'08.
     
  8. razdog76

    razdog76 Heavy Mettle

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    This certainly depends on defining the purpose. Is it to protect society? Is it to punish? Is it prevent the same acts by demonstarting what will happen?

    All of these are served to a point, but the real purpose is to provide justice to the victim and their family.
     
  9. ugly8604

    ugly8604

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    Guess Texas aint so great after all!
     
  10. PinkoCommie

    PinkoCommie Unusual Member

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    I don't know how things work in the great State of Texas... but in Colorado, trial judges are bound by the decisions of the Colorado Court of Appeals and the Colorado Supreme Court. On questions regarding the Constitution of the United States (as opposed to questions of state law), they are also bound by the decisions of the United States Supreme Court. These principles are pretty well established, and are referred to (in general) as the concept of stare decisis. Just because an attorney makes a motion that is routinely made does not mean that a trial judge can grant it if higher courts have already considered the question and answered it differently. Now, if this is a novel question of law, or if the facts are such that it should be viewed differently in the particular case, the judge can rule as he sees fit under the law. Otherwise, it is simply not within his power to disagree with a higher court. I have a feeling this is roughly how it works in Texas as well, and I also have a feeling that a very cranky opinion from whatever appellate court is above this tool will be issued forthright.

    Just my thoughts.
     
  11. lawman800

    lawman800 Juris Glocktor

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    It just keeps getting better, don't it?
    Judicial activism at its best.
     
  12. matt86

    matt86 Oink Oink

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    Didn't they use the death penalty back when the constitution was written?
     
  13. lawman_77008

    lawman_77008 JBT

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    There is no doubt this judge's ruling will be overturned. He is just wasting everybody's time by making the state work harder.

    I don't expect Judge Fine to win re-election in 2012 either.

    Because the judge who made the comments is a Democrat, Republicans are pouncing. Judge Fine is up for re-election in November 2012.
     
  14. lawman_77008

    lawman_77008 JBT

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    Exactly.
     
  15. glock192327

    glock192327 Where is eye

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    Roger that.....
     
  16. DaBigBR

    DaBigBR No Infidels!

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    Circling the wagons.
  17. Fiery Red XIII

    Fiery Red XIII Adorkable CLM

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    Yes, Washington, Franklin, Adams, and all the founders never had people hung in their state...I cannot remember, what punishment was written for treason?


    Red
     
  18. lawman_77008

    lawman_77008 JBT

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    http://www.reporternews.com/news/2008/Nov/22/tattooed-justice/

    Tattooed justice
    New Harris County district judge battled drugs, alcohol


    By Brian Rogers
    Houston Chronicle
    Posted November 22, 2008 at 6:04 p.m.


    HOUSTON -- The devil tattooed on Kevin Fine's upper arm holds a razor blade, a mirror and an eight ball symbolizing cocaine. His forearm sports a tattoo of Jesus holding up a man who has collapsed amid the waves of a massive storm.

    Elected by Harris County voters as a state district judge this month, Fine said he'll draw from his experiences as a cocaine addict who has been clean and sober for 10 years when presiding over felony cases.

    "Every time I was coming down, I felt like the devil was reaching into my soul, stealing my heart," he said of his days spent with drugs.

    The crumpled man in Jesus' arms is a metaphor for the way he later faced his own skeletons and weathered the problems of addiction, said Fine, a criminal defense lawyer who will take the bench in January.

    Fine believes he is qualified to help those who truly want to battle their own demons and says he'll be able to spot the phonies.

    His right arm is covered from shoulder to wrist in a sleeve of tattoos that mark various periods of his life, including the times he battled drugs and alcohol.

    "I'm probably the only district judge with this many tattoos," he said. "At least the only one we know about."

    Fine, a Democrat, campaigned on his life experiences, saying they would make him a better judge than his rival, Republican incumbent Devon Anderson.

    "She did a good job, but I'm more qualified in the hopelessness and futility of addiction," Fine said.

    Anderson is one of four judges who preside over Harris County's "drug courts," which divert some drug offenders into treatment and counseling rather than put them behind bars.

    Judges in the program volunteer for a once-a-week docket in drug court in addition to carrying on their regular duties.

    The other drug court judges -- Republicans Caprice Cosper, Brock Thomas and Mike Wilkinson -- also lost on Election Night.

    Fine said he plans to volunteer for the drug court after a year of learning the ropes as a new judge.

    As administrative judge of criminal district courts, state District Judge Debbie Mantooth Stricklin will oversee the transition plan for the drug court after the loss of the four incumbents. The court's new judges will have to undergo several days of training, Stricklin said.

    Fine's journey from addict to judge wasn't easy, and he was lucky he didn't end up behind bars, he said.

    He started drinking and smoking marijuana in his teens, he said, graduating to harder drugs in college and continuing to abuse alcohol and cocaine as a practicing attorney.

    "By the grace of God," he said, he never appeared in court or met with a client while he was high.

    While working as a lawyer in Lubbock, a boss knocked on his door one day, told him that his co-workers knew he had a problem and said that he needed to get treatment.

    Days later, he said, he watched the sun come up after a long night of booze and cocaine and felt like a vampire fearing the dawn.

    "I was out of cocaine. I was out of money. And the four horsemen of addiction -- terror, bewilderment, frustration and despair -- were on their way.

    "That's when the devil shows up," he said. "It's like he's holding my heart in his hand, laughing at me, saying, 'I got you again!' "

    He checked in at a treatment center, went through detox and six months of intense outpatient treatment, learning the tools he needed to stay away from drugs and alcohol.

    In the years since, he said, he has cleaned up his life, serving on the board of the Texas Lawyers Assistance Program, a State Bar program that helps attorneys battling addiction and depression.

    Now, he said he's well-suited as a judge to help others weather the storm.

    "I ran," Fine said, "because I felt like I could help more people as a judge than I could one at a time as clients."
     
  19. Sgt127

    Sgt127

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    One idiot can always screw it up for everybody. Its how he is dealt with that makes Texas great.

    Attorney General Abbott's response to a Houston judge's decision on Thursday to grant a motion declaring the death penalty unconstitutional

    "In an act of unabashed judicial activism, a state district judge ignored longstanding U.S. Supreme Court precedent and improperly granted John Edward Green's request that the court declare the death penalty unconstitutional. The Attorney General's Office has already offered to provide help and legal resources to the Harris County District Attorney's Office--which is handling the Green prosecution--and will take appropriate measures to defend Texas' capital punishment law. We regret that the court's legally baseless order unnecessarily delays justice and closure for the victim's family--including her two children, who witnessed their mother's brutal murder."
     
  20. op2k

    op2k

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    This is good. It looks like the good guys are on the same page and are set to join forces to bring this dopey judge off his high horse.

    Did anyone actually think that this judge could rule impartially, given his past? Kinda like giving felons the right to vote and asking them to be impartial to issues related to crime and punishment.....but that's another discussion.