Posts by Damon Chetson

Books and Gavel

Joe Biden: The New Jim Crow

Joe Biden may be the worst Democrat to run for political office in the past half-century. Uncle Joe likes to preen about his working-class roots and personal frugality (a hardscrabble Scranton upbringing, a Senator who took Amtrak back-and-forth to Delaware), but, since the very beginning of his time in the U.S. Senate, has been a…

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The Death Penalty Raises Its Head

As I write elsewhere, North Carolina has not executed anyone since 2006. But it is clear that the law in this area is changing, at least at the federal level. Recently the Supreme Court, now with a solid conservative majority, has moved toward reducing procedural protections and review of cases involving capital punishment. As one…

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Execution Chamber

Return of the Death Penalty

North Carolina has not executed anyone since 2006. Yet county District Attorneys have continued to seek the death penalty for people they consider the “worst of the worst.” Since the prosecutor has almost unfettered discretion in choosing those who face the death penalty, the system is fraught with problems. Today, more than 140 people sit…

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I receive mail about David Steven Bell

David Steven Bell has been charged in Buncombe County with assault on a female and assault on a child under the age of 12. He is set to go to court on February 5. Video shows Mr. Bell punching the girl, who reportedly is 11 years old, outside of a mall in Asheville, North Carolina.…

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Assault on a Child: David Steven Bell

51-year-old David Steven Bell of Black Mountain was arrested and charged by Asheville Police with assaulting a child when he first pushed her and then, after she walked back to him, slugging her in the face knocking her to the ground. There was some type of altercation outside of a mall, and an adult SWS…

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Federal Sentencing Reform: First Steps Act

Donald Trump announced his support for federal sentencing reform earlier this week. What reform and whether he really supports the reform are open questions. Earlier this year the House passed a bill that included only prison reform: laws that govern the treatment of and credit awarded to inmates once they are sentenced by the court.…

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Government’s Motion to Detain Mariia Butina

Last week the Government has charged Mariia Butina with two counts of violating 18 USC 951 which makes it a crime to act as a foreign agent of a government without first registering with the United States Government. Each count is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, although in reality the punishment would…

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Supreme Court Cases from the 2017-2018 Term

With the election of Donald Trump, liberals have worried that Supreme the Court would swing against personal liberties and toward a tough-on-crime approach. But the 2017-2018 term proves that sometimes ideologically conservative justices can come out in favor of defendant rights. Indeed, Antonin Scalia, one of the court’s most conservative justices, singlehandedly recovered the Confrontation…

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For the People: Bad Acting, Dumb Law

What a terrible show. Also, completely incorrect in almost every aspect of federal criminal law. The pilot episode: There are almost never term-of-years pleas in federal court (as one prosecutor makes the WMD client for “15 years”.) The plea is almost always to a charge, with some recommendations to the court (which it can ignore)…

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Child Pornography Bust in Raleigh

WRAL is reporting a child pornography sting operation throughout the southeast. Eight people in North Carolina face charges of sexual exploitation of a minor. Given the multi-state enforcement of child pornography laws, it’s likely that the federal government is involved and this is part of a larger sting operation I’ve written about past child pornography…

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