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Feds end financial misconduct probe of Sheriff Joe’s Office

Last friday federal prosecutors announced that they had concluded their investigation in to possible financial misconduct by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office(MCSO) and that they would not be filing any charges. The Feds are still investigating the MCSO over racial profiling and civil rights accusations, a fact that a few publications seemed to have missed.

The announcement on Friday marked the end of an investigation that began in November 2010 at the behest of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to examine alleged financial improprieties by the county sheriff and his deputies.

A federal criminal inquiry into several of those matters was concluded last summer with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona declining to initiate criminal charges.

Maricopa County authorities were informed on Friday that federal prosecutors had likewise declined to bring charges in connection with allegations that the sheriff’s office had misused county credit cards or misspent money from jail facilities excise taxes.

The Feds also dropped their investigation of two former MCSO employees for similar accusations of misusing government funds.

Vast Majority of Americans unable to name any SCOTUS Justices

Vast Majority of Americans unable to name any SCOTUS Justices

In 2012 the US Supreme Court has made pivotal rulings on President Obamas health care law and Arizona SB1070 immigration law leading to numerous arm chair legal experts around the country. Even with all of this attention on the court and its rulings 2/3rds of Americans are unable to name a single justice, according to a recently released survey.

Of the Justices that people can name the most is Chief Justice John Roberts, but he only comes in correctly 20% of the time.

The least recognizable member is Justice Stephen Breyer with 3% with Kennedy(10%), Alito(5%), and Kagan(4%) also coming in with less than 10% of respondents identifying them.

Even Justices in the media spotlight are somewhere between nobody and the coat checker:
Antonin Scalia (16%)
Clarence Thomas (16%)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg (13%)
Sonia Sotomayor (13%)

The study polled 1,000 American adults by telephone with a demographically diverse sample. The margin for error was around 3%.

It could be argued that is SCOTUS was televised then there would be a better understanding of the court. Of course then we would probably be talking less about the case and more about the style of their robes or the courts wood choice.

We have started giving our visitors more information about various Judges in Arizona: Tempe Judges and Scottsdale Judges.

Has Brewer gone too far with her latest executive order?

Yesterday Arizona Governor Jan Brewer issued an executive order that reiterates that state agencies are required to deny licenses and public benefits to undocumented immigrants. She has extended this stipulation to also include all beneficiaries of President Obama’s recent decision to grant “deferred action”:

The federal program prevents young people who were brought into the country illegally as children from being deported if they were younger than 16 years old when they got here, are younger than 30, have lived in the U.S. continually since June 15, 2007, and have no felony convictions.

Estimates are that roughly 80,000 kids would qualify in Arizona. The program provides safe harbor for two years.

You can read theGovernor’s Executive Order here.

This immediately caused an uproar amongst immigration supporters as they felt it was another showing of Brewer being anti-immigration and xenophobic. There is a lot of validity to this argument. Why should she do something like this, we might be asking ourselves, if not to be just plain mean? Her defense has been that this is simply reiterating existing laws, which she has sworn to uphold. So her basic defense is that this is simply holding to existing law.

The problem might be that she doesn’t completely understand the law.

The ACLU argues that:

This is yet another reason why Arizona has no business trying to regulate immigration matters,” said Alessandra Soler, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona. “Brewer is distorting federal law and inaccurately interpreting state law. This order conflicts with state and federal law because people who are granted deferred action will, in fact, have authorized presence in the United States and under Arizona law people who have authorized presence are eligible to apply for Arizona state identification. She is perpetuating the myth that deferred action applicants are somehow submitting fraudulent documents and that is completely false. Not only is she singling out young people who are eligible for deferred action, but she also is excluding other categories of non-citizens who are authorized to be in the country, including victims of domestic violence, from obtaining state-identification while their immigration applications are being processed.

So while Brewer’s argument of legal backing may sound convincing the reality is that it is murky at best and outright wrong at worst.

At the end of the day this probably means another lawsuit for the taxpayers of Arizona to pay for as our politicians play pretend law. Remind you of anything like say SB1070?

Texas Executes inmate with Mental Disability

Last week the state of Texas executed Marvin Wilson for the 1992 murder of police informant Jerry Williams. This was done despite Marvin having an IQ of 61. Generally the minimum accepted IQ to qualify someone for the death penalty in the US is 70. Texas State Attorneys countered that the IQ argument is based on just one test and that other assessments indicated that Wilson was not mentally impaired.

The death penalty is the ultimate form of punishment and is generally applied in first degree murder cases. It was ruled unconstitutional to put the mentally retarded/disabled to death per the Atkins v Virginia US Supreme Court ruling of 2002. In that ruling the court found such an act to be cruel and unusual punishment and therefore a violation of the 8th Amendment of the US Constitution.

There is now concern that the execution of Marvin Wilson was a violation of the US Constitution as the state of Texas rejects the Supreme Courts ruling.

Death Penalty by country

According to Amnesty International only ten percent of countries in the world carried out the death penalty in 2011. According to the Associated Press the US was the only Western democracy to carry out the death penalty in 2011. For a country that espouses being the leader of the free world it has some strange company in terms of how it conducts its justice. Here is a list of the top 11 countries in the world by the number of people it put to death in 2011:

  1. China – 1000s
  2. Syria – unknown
  3. Malaysia – unknown
  4. Iran – 360+
  5. Saudi Arabia – 82+
  6. Iraq – 68+
  7. USA – 43
  8. Yemen – 41+
  9. North Korea – 30
  10. Somalia – 10
  11. Sudan – 7+
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