Gang Rapists On Trial

Justin King 2012

The second of four Pittsfield defendants – Justin A. King – charged with gang raping a University of Massachusetts student is scheduled to start today following a last-minute slate of motions argued in Hampshire Superior Court last week.

Defendant Emmanuel Bile was tried and convicted in March and has begun serving an 8- to 10-year state prison sentence.  Adam T. Liccardi and Caleb Womack are due to be tried in that order after King.

King, 21, Liccardi, 20, Bile, 21, and Caleb Womack, 20, were each charged with raping the student in Pierpont Dormitory on Oct. 13, 2012, according to

The judge in the King rape trial told the lawyers for both sides Friday that she will question the jury. On Friday, Hampshire Superior Court Judge Bertha D. Josephson told defense lawyer Terrence Dunphy and prosecutor Jenifer Suhl that she would conduct a “voir dire” of the jurors as they are seated.

The additional questioning is made possible by an order of the Massachusetts Superior Court handed down in February. The ruling allows lawyers to gather more information from prospective jurors, but judges still have the discretion to question the jurors themselves during the enrolling of a jury, writes

(Updated article)

MSNBC Coverage Of Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Receiving Death Penalty


A jury has decided to sentence Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to the death penalty by lethal injection for his role in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

Three people were killed and 260 were injured when Tsarnaev and his brother placed bombs at the finishing line of the Boston Marathon in 2013, writes BBC News.

Tsarnaev is likely to be moved to a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, but there may be years worth of appeals of the verdict.

Mother Of NFL Star Aaron Hernandez Apologizes To Mother Of Murder Victim

One day after Aaron Hernandez began serving his sentence of life in prison for the crime of murder, the former New England Patriot’s mother is directing her comments to the mother of murder victim Odin Lloyd, WCBV News reports.

“As mother to mother, I’m very sorry. I don’t know what happened, but I’m very sorry for all this,” Terri Hernandez told Ursula Ward, according to the Boston Herald.

She said Ward was “a great woman, nice and caring.”

When told of what Terri Hernandez said, Ms. Ward replied that she said all she will say outside the courthouse, when she expressed forgiveness.

Tsarnaev Defense: ‘He Did It’

sketch of the defendant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev  and attorney Judy Clarke

“He did it.”

Judy Clarke is the lawyer representing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev – the survivor, and younger of two brothers accused of perpetrating the bomb attacks on the Boston Marathon in 2013.  She is not an ordinary defense attorney, claims The Guardian.

It was not a standard opening statement for a defense attorney to give regarding her client.  However, this is not a run-of-the-mill criminal trial, either; it is a huge federal trial, carrying a possible death sentence – the most high-profile trial of a terrorist on US soil since the Oklahoma City bomber, states The Guardian.

Clarke has specialized in saving the lives of clients like Tsarnaev for her whole career.  And she is, friends and colleagues told the Guardian, phenomenally good at it.

She has become an expert in the delicate tactics needed to take someone who is seen in the eyes of the world as a monster, and humanize them – just enough to convince a jury to save their life.

The list of clients she has helped escape the death penalty in this way is a who’s who of American killers. There’s Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber; Eric Rudolph, the Olympic Park bomber.  There was also Buford Furrow, the Aryan Nations member who opened fire on the Los Angeles Jewish Community Center in 1999, and, more recently, Jared Loughner, the shooter who killed six people and injured 15 more, including representative Gabrielle Giffords, in Tucson in 2011.

Nora Demleitner is the dean of the Washington and Lee University school of law, where Clarke also teaches. She told the Guardian that Clarke’s feelings about the death penalty are what drive and animate her.

There are two main parts to the trial:  the phase of proving guilt or innocence, and the sentencing phase.

Demleitner said that Clarke’s actions could cut down the time spent fighting in the guilt phase, and speed the arrival of the sentencing phase.  Because the rules for evidence are different from the guilt phase, Clarke will be much freer to present evidence showing Tsarnaev as under the control of his elder brother Tamerlan, states The Guardian.

More here

Updated post

Did Republicans ‘Flip-Flop’ On Anti-Obamacare Lawsuit?

On March 4th, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case of King v. Burwell.  King v. Burwell threatens to unravel the Affordable Care Act – a.k.a. Obamacare – because the plaintiffs argue that the health-care law does not authorize subsidies through federally run insurance marketplaces.  Instead, they say, the law only allows such subsidies in the 14 states (and District of Columbia) which set up their own exchanges.

It was argued that because the law did not clearly state that premium subsidies would be provided to Americans living in a state that did not set up a health-insurance exchange, an Internal Revenue Service rule of extending the subsidies to all states was illegal.

Have some Republicans flip-flopped on the issue?

Advocates of the law have pointed to statements made by leading Republican lawmakers that have suggested that at one point they too assumed the subsidies would be made available to all Americans.

The Washington Post reports that GOP Senators John Cornyn, John Barrasso, and Orrin Hatch, along with Rep. Paul Ryan, are all previously on record making statements that appear grounded in the assumption that subsidies would be available to people who got health care on the federal exchanges, in addition to state ones.

The King lawsuit, of course, alleges that the ACA does not authorize subsidies to all those people, and now, Cornyn, Hatch, and Ryan have signed a brief siding with the challengers. Meanwhile, Barrasso is openly rooting for the Supreme Court to “bring down” the law.

Some of these statements have been previously aired. What’s new here is that these Senators and their spokespeople have now attempted to explain their shift in views. Most of their explanations, Kessler concludes, are pretty weak, and amount to an “unacknowledged flip-flop.”

The back-tracks earned these politicians an “upside-down Pinnochio” in the Washington Post, showing that they “flip-floped” on the issue.

Topless Femen Protesters Jump On Car Of Dominique Strauss-Kahn

Topless protesters attempted to jump on what appeared to be Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s car in Lille, France.

The former head of the International Monetary Fund had arrived to testify in a trial involving orgies and an alleged prostitution ring on Tuesday, February 10th.

Dominique Gaston André Strauss-Kahn (often referred to in the media and by himself as DSK) became the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on September 28th, 2007 with the backing of his country’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and served in that role until his resignation on 18 May 2011 following allegations that he had sexually assaulted a hotel employee.

In March 2012, Strauss-Kahn came under investigation in France over his alleged involvement in a prostitution ring. The trial over the involvement is currently ongoing.

In the video, half-naked activists, from the provocative activist group Femen, shouted profanities at what appeared to be Strauss-Kahn’s car before being arrested by police.


How Does Impeachment Work?

There seems to be a movement from some corners of the Republican party to call for the impeachment of the president.

Most Democrats, of course, would find the idea unfounded and unjustified.

The South Dakota Republican party has called for it, former representative Allen West (FL) has called for it, and Representative Steve Stockman, R-Texas, reportedly gave all House members copies of the book “Impeachable Offenses: The Case For Removing Barack Obama From Office” by Aaron Klein and Brenda Elliott.

Representative Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), claims that there just may be enough votes in the House to impeach President Obama. (It is not clear where he gets his numbers.)

So, let’s take a look at how impeachment works.  How does it work? What hurdles have to be crossed?

Article One of the United States Constitution gives the House of Representatives the sole power of impeachment. However, impeachment is just one of  two stages towards removal from office.

Impeachment is only a legal statement of charges, similar to an indictment.

Impeachment proceedings may be commenced by a member of the House of Representatives on his or her own initiative. This is done either by presenting a list of the charges under oath or by asking for referral to a Judiciary committee.

The Judiciary Committee begins a formal inquiry into the issue of impeachment and would bring it to a vote.

The house must pass at least one article of impeachment with a simple majority.

The second stage towards removal from office is the trial. The Senate has the sole power to try an impeachment, and conviction requires a two-thirds vote. That would be 67 votes.

The trial is not actually a criminal trial. It is simply a trial for removal from office.

So, the situation becomes clear regarding an Obama impeachment.  The Republicans do have a majority in the House, so an impeachment may be possible.  The vote to actually have him removed from office would then go to the Senate, and must be passed by a 2/3 vote.

Currently, Democrats have a majority in the Senate, so removal from office would be unlikely.

Of course, things could change after the mid-term election.

It is also not clear that Republicans have a “legal basis” for impeachment.  However, the “legal basis” for impeachment is quite vague.

Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution says, “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

An attempt to convict the president on charges of Bribery would be unlikely.  Treason may be more likely than Bribery.

“High Crimes and Misdemeanors” is more likely, as the definition is vague.  It was once defined by Gerald Ford as “whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.”

There are general guidelines, but it is generally up to the House of Representatives to decide what is a high crime and misdemeanor and what isn’t.