due process

11,800 Days

This isn’t strictly feminist news, but it’s a bit of a slow day, and I feel this story of a black man held without a court-ordered retrial for 32 years is intersectional with feminism.

It has now been more than six years since Hartfield first began to try to unravel the series of errors and omissions which resulted in his wrongful imprisonment. And it could be years more before the courts finally grant him relief. It’s hard to know which period is more infuriating: the 23 years during which Hartfield’s rights were left unprotected by the justice system; the half-decade or so years since, when state officials, including judges, have refused to help him; or the years more of legal briefings and oral argument that the man will likely have to endure before he gets some relief.

A society that wants to remain free should be wary, even afraid, of letting habeas corpus rights erode. But that is what we are doing, in more ways than one.

Rape Conviction Reversed Due to Marital Status of Victim

It’s not as bad as it sounds, but it’s still pretty bad. The man in question, Julio Morales, had sex with a woman (“Jane Doe”) while she was unconscious, so he should have been convicted on the grounds of non-consent. But in addition to making that argument, the prosecution also contended that he had tricked Doe into having sex with him by pretending to be her boyfriend, who had been lying next to her when she fell asleep.

But Morales’ lawyer also claimed that his client hadn’t done anything to trick Jane into thinking she was with her boyfriend, and that California law only explicitly makes it a crime to trick someone into having sex if she believes she’s having sex with her husband. That’s technically true of the law. The judges said that because they couldn’t be sure whether the jury had convicted Morales based on correct theory (that she was unconscious) rather than the incorrect one (he pretended to be someone else), the whole case had to be retried.

Doesn’t it seem like the appeals court could have removed some of the legal weight from this out-of-date law by refusing to apply it so strictly in this case? I’m a huge fan of due process, but this seems a little excessive.

India's Accused Gang Rapists Unable to Find Representation

Police reports revealed today that the six men accused of the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old student allegedly tried to run over over her after they raped and attacked her with an iron rod. That, on top of worldwide outrage, is making it really tough for these men to find legal representation. “We have decided that no lawyer will stand up to defend the rape accused as it would be immoral to defend the case,” said Sanjay Kumar, a lawyer and a member of the Saket District Bar Council.

This is an interesting ethical situation. I recently had a debate with some friends over whether a court-appointed defender could ethically refuse to lie on behalf of their client. My opinion: yes—all a just society can expect from defense lawyers is that they represent the accused person(s). “Represent” != “Represent with every technique available”. Hypothetically, if I was an Indian lawyer I might take this case in the interest of due process, but I would refuse to misrepresent the facts in the interest of “representing” my clients.

How Team Obama Justifies the Killing of a 16-Year-Old American

It baffles me that more people—like roughly everyone—aren’t angry about this.