Friday, March 16, 2007


The conviction of Couey and vote of 10-2 for the DP earlier this week touched off a series of serious comments on the death penalty.

On one side of the debate was veteran Dade Prosecutor Abe Laeser. His approval of the verdict in particular and the DP in general touched off a bit of a furor and there were several responses and replies, which we summarize below.

Our brief thoughts: The discussion on the blog boiled down to this: are there people who are truly evil? Or can apparent evil be explained in modern medical terms- with issues like diseases of the frontal lobe, genetics which cause irresistible impulses, and the scars of a horrific childhood, being used to explain otherwise incomprehensibly evil behavior.

Mr. Laeser’s support of the death penalty is also under attack from distinguished jurists who have decided the system is broken and cannot be fixed. This is Rumpole's position. We do not enter the arena of “evil” because we believe this system is irreparably broken. We believe the system may well have executed an innocent man. And we know this legal system of ours has incarcerated over a hundred innocent men on death row, many for decades. We do not need to debate the evil issue. We do not have a system that works, and for us, the debate ends there.

The indefensible and undisputable fact is that over 100 people who were sentenced to death row were exonerated. Amnesty International reports that since 1973, 123 prisoners have been released in the USA after evidence emerged of their innocence of the crimes for which they were sentenced to death. There were six such cases in 2004, two in 2005 and one in 2006. Click on the AI link below for the source of these statistics.

What do we do when we execute an innocent person? What will the proponents of the death penalty say to that person’s next of kin? That in the name of justice (or vengeance) we killed your husband- we took a father from a child- and on behalf of the State of Florida, we would like to apologize?

Is that enough?

The Innocence Project reports that in Dallas County 12 Defendants who were convicted (not all were DP cases) have been exonerated within the last 5 years. That’s in one County in one State. Click here for the stats:

The United States remains in the undistinguished and small society of otherwise repressive nations that routinely execute their citizens.

In 2005, 94 percent of all known executions took place in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the US. It doesn’t appear to us that we as a Nation are in the best of company on this issue. China executed at least 1700 of its citizens. Iran executed at least 94 people, and Saudi Arabia at least 86. There were 60 executions in the US.

Source= Amnesty International Web Site.

Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun wrote this in a dissent in 1994:

From this day forward, I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death. For more than 20 years I have endeavored...to develop...rules that would lend more than the mere appearance of fairness to the death penalty endeavor...Rather than continue to coddle the court's delusion that the desired level of fairness has been achieved...I feel...obligated simply to concede that the death penalty experiment has failed. It is virtually self-evident to me now that no combination of procedural rules or substantive regulations ever can save the death penalty from its inherent constitutional deficiencies

Justice John Paul Stevens gave a speech in 2005 in which he acknowledged that because of the number of innocent people exonerated, the death penalty system in the United States was broken.

We find ourselves in the distinguished company of Blackmun, Stevens, and most of the civilized world in saying that the death penalty is an anachronistic penalty of the past, and that because of the real possibility that an innocent man will be executed, we do not support the imposition of the death penalty. Ever.

On the Blog Mr. Laeser got things rolling with this: ( We have edited the comments here for length- nothing was added. The full comment is still in the comment section.)

abe laeser said...
Miami-Dade jury recommends Death for Couey, by vote of 10-2.

Probably surprised the 5th Circuit prosecutors, who are used to 12-0 recommendations. Guess the crayons and coloring book were good for two votes. Even people who think that the death penalty is immoral probably have to spend time to convince themselves (again) on a case like this one. Is there a facility that is proper for a man who could kidnap, rape, and then bury this child while she was still alive? What is the right punishment for someone capable of this?
In ancient days the family of this innocent child would have had the right to carry out the death sentences. Maybe they were not all that uncivilized back then.

Anonymous fired back:
Dear Mr. Laeser,

Contrary to your assertion, the State of Florida v. John Couey is an easy case for opponents of the death penalty. Think about it. Is there really any doubt that these men who continually sexually molest little children do so because of a sexual impulsion that they cannot control? And from whence do you think this sexual impulsion comes? It's pretty obvious that this sexual impulsion is chemical--and therefore genetic--in origin.
And therein lies the rub.
Because as I'm sure even you would agree, if criminal behavior occurs because of a chemical imbalance due to a person's particular genetic makeup, then that person's ability to possess the necessary mens rea for the crime is vitiated. There is no question that John Couey and his ilk need to be locked away for a long time, possibly forever if treatment is not feasible, but executed? Never. That would be simply barbaric.
No, the case of the 30 year old (with multiple prior violent felony convictions) who barges into a 7-11 and executes the cashier for $100 is a much tougher one for opponents of the death penalty. But even here, my hunch is that one day, science will eviscerate the notion of free will that underpins our system of criminal justice. There is already evidence suggesting a genetic component to violent behavior. And as science digs ever deeper into who we are and why we behave the way we do, I suspect that we may someday have to abandon the system that "serves" us today.--
Not a criminal defense attorney

abe laeser responded: ..
I do not believe that the death penalty issue is capable of rational debate. You may see me as being irrational, just as easily as I may see you. However, that being said, people kill for a variety of reasons. Some do so for their personal pleasure. Couey may have had certain sexual desires. They are NOT genetic. They are NOT caused by chemical imbalance or brain damage. The boy who grows up on the farm and become involved in bestiality is not brain damaged. The child who is enticed into bizarre sexual acts, and eventually becomes the victimizer himself, is not chemically imbalanced. Even if the world wanted to concede that the sexual deviant cannot control his desires [every crime has an equal and opposite excuse], why did he have to kill his victim? He chose to do that to: (a) avoid discovery, (b) cause pain to the victim, (c) satisfy his own psychic pleasures, ad nauseum...

Now you want to blame some amorphous chemical imbalance for the fact that truly evil people inhabit this planet. If I follow your "LOGIC", perhaps we can do genetic testing and incarcerate children at birth to prevent future acts of horrible violence. Does that concept bother you? As a German Jew whose parents were in concentration camp, it sure as hell frightens me.
Maybe I am actually right, a few people become 'broken' in some fashion. Was it an abusive parent, their own victimization, crystal meth, the brain damaging car accident, the wicked step-sister --- somehow they are broken, unfit to live amongst us. They have become capable of a monstrous depravity and every form of evil.
Now what? Do we say: hormonal imbalance, damage to the frontal lobe, depraved because you were deprived? Or do we say: You have commited a vile crime and taken human life in a cruel manner. We must punish you for your criminal acts.You suggest: "Locked away for a long time"?
"Treatment"? I cannot treat evil, and neither can anyone else. Purely as a matter of retributive punishment for crimes already committed…Couey deserve(s) to be put to death. After 34 years of studying these criminals from a vantage point on the 'inside', I am certain that each had the capacity for free will. Perhaps their narcissism and anti-social traits made it easier to murder, but it was always their individual choice. They had the capacity, even at that last moment to either take a life, or not. They chose to kill.If that were not true, how could we ever punish the burglar, car thief, robber, or rapist? Does your 'fiction' about a lack of free will apply to all crimes? Or just the ones that are so evil that the rare use of the death penalty may be justified?

Rumpole says: Well there you have it. The issues framed for a lively debate.

Leave Markus and Markus alone already, and have at it.


Anonymous said...

abe, who is your next victim?

Anonymous said...

Abe, how do you defend your position against the argument that innocent people have been executed by the state? I realize that you only try locked cases so this does not apply to you but its not all about you. Get over yourself. But seriously, who is your next victim?

abe laeser said...

And the name of one innocent person who was executed is:

What, no answer? Maybe because there is no such person.

Of course, we are all mortal. We can err. Thank G-d that we give every criminal every opportunity to avoid the death penalty. I applaud the Innocence Project. Lawyers, do your duty on behalf of your clients. No moral person could tolerate the execution of the innocent.

But please do not tell me that the confessed murderer, who also has uncontraverable scientific evidence of guilt might not be death-eligible. When innocence is not the issue, the proper punishment is all that society needs to assess. I respect the right of the majority. If the law were to change, this debate would end. Now, I am sworn to prosecute under the laws.

Put them in prison? Solitary? Ask the widow of the death row guard who was stabbed to death by Thomas Knight if that is truly a solution. Maybe that mirror that they used to send the prisoners into outer space in Superman II --- sorry, even that did not work and brought the evil ones to Earth.

Nearly every homicide deserves a sentence other than death. Perhaps no more than 1-2% should be death-eligible. But we deserve the right to retain this penalty for the worst of the worst.

I have a trial next month in which the crime is so vile that it makes me shudder every single time that I review the file.

My beliefs are based on my morality and experience. We can choose to disagree without being insulting.

The people I prosecute are not my 'victims'. They are the people who had murdered the true victims, and destroyed the lives of those who will never forget what their crime has done.

I wonder if each person who does not agree with me could create a notarized document that if they are brutally murdered, they do not want the killer to receive the ultimate punishement. Make sure that you have all of your family (parents, spouses, children) sign it as well. Keep the document with you + if found on your body, I would certainly give your wishes great weight.

But if your Mom or young daughter ask me to disregard your request, I cannot promise that their pleas would not persuade me. Sorry. I really do feel their pain (even if I rarely show emotion).

Persuasion on this issue may be impossible. I just wanted to further explain why I take the position in which I believe.

Bloggers, your turn.

Anonymous said...

I guess you miss the mark. Again. you only talk about your cases which are almost always... invariable locks. Again, this is not about you and your case next month that a blind retard could get the death penalty on. Rather, tis bout the poor black man in New Orleans who gets the chair because of prejuduce and an eye witness. The death penalty shoould be abolished nationally because of the finality of the punishment. Mississippi ain't Miami. No what I mean?

Anonymous said...

Since we are not in New Orleans, I guess that we can execute the actually guilty in Florida.

I guess your ponit is that we should not punish the innocent. What a concept. Let's just punish the guilty murderers. If they desreve death, they have earned it.

Anonymous said...

I am against the death penalty and Abe is not. You know what that's called, THE WAY LIFE IS. The point is that the death penalty is a debate, that cannot be won. It's like abortion and war, a never ending debate.

Criticize Abe all you want, as someone who is anti-death penalty, I'm satisfied that while it exists, Abe Laeser is one of the people who prosecutes these types of cases. Those of you that use him as a punching bag are not worthy of the Bar.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the death penalty debate remember "In order to make an ommelette you have to break a few eggs"

Anonymous said...

Can someone respond to Mr. Laeser's eloquent arguments without using the word aint?

A death penalty opponent.

Anonymous said...

Abe rocks! Kill the murderers!

Anonymous said...

Abe hits on a very real and convincing point that everyone seems to overlook. We're so caught up in the notion that "innocents die," that we've lost focus of the why.

In other words, if the rulemakers are the leaders, then ultimately they legislate issues like the death penalty. Or the judges that decide the constitutionality of those rules.

For example, Jason Grey raised depositions the other day. Rumpole raises the argument that he stands in the company of two Supreme Court justices and the rest of the civilized world. Yet, no one here would jump up to say that, well Florida being in the minority of states that still allow discovery depositions in criminal cases and that the Feds don't do discovery depos either, means that this is a barbaric outdated practice. Despite the fact, that the taking of these defense depos drags out the cases as depos are rescheduled 3 and 4 times and inevitably serve to keep dragging a victim or reluctant witness out numerous times re-victimizing them again.

While this point sounds like apples and oranges, the point is, that in the "rest of the civilized world" as Kogan expressed, when I heard him talk about the move towards no death penalty, it was the leaders that took the courage to make the change and the majority populace who respected the decisions of their leaders.

Kogan indicated that the rest of the civilized world are not as civilized as we would think. They are just as thirsty and hungry and hungry for death as retribution as Americans are, he specifically pointed out, based on polls and the indication of public opinion. But they respected their governments and when their elected leaders made the choice, they deferred to the wisdom of those leaders.

So people are on here calling Abe terrible things because, he follows the law? We're all lawyers, I hope we're all on here following the law. No one would suggest that a defense attorney representing his client, should disregard all of the tools provided for by the law in his arsenal (including the Florida condoned discovery deposition) designed to get justice for his client.

So why come down on Abe, when he has to resort to the death penalty to get justice for his victims? For example, defendants are never found innocent, they are found not guilty. Defendants can be quite "de facto guilty" but not "de jure guilty" and we say, that's a good thing the system did its job - emotion about the wronged victim who saw the truth perverted in court is irrelevant because we don't have an omniscient mystical orb that can be the ultimate witness as to the guilt of a person.

Because no innocent person should ever be put to death? I would hope not either, yet the poor homicide victim shouldn't have been put to death too. So now we want to avoid killing the "de jure" guilty, when the same law could have equally found him not guilty?

That is the law - two outcomes possible. Guilty, not guilty. Life, death. We must respect the law if we choose to play by the same rules. As Abe put it, "[i]f the law were to change, this debate would end."

Anonymous said...

3:58:00 am, would you be willing to be one of the broken eggs so that the state can keep the death penalty omellette in its breakfast menu?

Anonymous said...

The death penalty doesn't provide justice for the victims. It does provide a feeling of vengeance and retribution but true justice would be restorative not retributive. True justice would bring the victim back from the dead, but since that's not possible, some people take the antiquated and uncivilized view that killing the killer somehow "does justice" to the victim. Justice is better served, and state budgets too, by keeping the those comvicted of murder locked up for life without possibility of parole, and with the possibility of being released if DNA proves them innocent, something that can't be done if an innocent person is convicted and executed.

Rumpole said...

Here is the flaw in Mr. Laeser's argument (and in all modesty, we knew he was going to say what he said)

Yes- there are cases of absolute guilt. But who decides? Is a confession all it takes? We know the problems with those. Or is DNA all it takes? Once you agree that the DP is proper so long the evidence is sufficient, then you enter the arena where the level of evidence is less and less, until a tragedy happens. We don't know the details of every case, but we do know this- in each and every of the 123 individuals sentenced to death since 1973 who have since been exonerated, a Judge, a prosecutor, and a defense attorney, not to mention 12 jurrors and one appellate panel all said the defendant had a fair trial and the evidence was sufficient to impose the DP.

We cannot argue with Mr. Laeser's premise that certain people - by the nature of their actions- are so dangerous- and have done such henious and cruel acts- that they DESERVE to be put to death. We agree with him. However, in the name of imposing justice on those individuals, we are NOT willing to risk killing an innocent man. What Mr. Laeser does not appear to accept- is our contention supported by valid evidence and endorsed by experienced Judges- that the system is broken, and probably cannot be fixed.

And as we have continually said in the past- if so many errors are being made in the most scrutinized cases- who is speaking up for the innocent man or woman convicted of a lesser crime- who has been wrenched away from their family, and is serving 30 years in hell for something they didn't do. What about them?

Anonymous said...

The death penalty is still in the books because our savagely medieval and bloodthirsty populace scares politicians from doing the civilized thing and abolish executions.

We are very technologically advanced in America, but when it comes to life and death issues like abortion and the death penalty are very primitive and prefer death over life, making all kind of lofty but silly arguments on behalf of killing others whether born or unborn. We are a society of medieval hypocrites who jump at the chance of killing somebody if we can get away with it legally.

Anonymous said...

Only God knows how many innocent people were executed or died in prison before DNA was discovered.

Anonymous said...

If someone killed me, I wouldn't want my killer to get the death penalty. One death is enough. State-sponsored murder is still murder. Killing should be done only in cases of self-defense where killing an attacker is the only way to prevent imminent death or substantial harm to yourself or others. The death penalty ain't self-defense. It's cold-blooded killing by the state.

Anonymous said...

9:22am writes: "The death penalty doesn't provide justice for the victims. It does provide a feeling of vengeance and retribution but true justice would be restorative not retributive."

The premise being that true justice would be the victims be brought back to life.

True justice would also find the "de facto guilty" guilty everytime they committed a crime. We console ourselves with a system that says, we can't do that, so we provide for a trial and some rules and let a finder of fact decide what the legal truth should be. Only the "de jure guilty" are punished.

Since that can't happen, under your premise, what happens in trial isn't justice either, since we can't use a crystal ball to tell us what really happened.

We can question all of our rules and should. But lets not kid ourselves that some parts of our system are perfect and others are not. We accept the good with the bad daily.

Anonymous said...

are we having a serious debate about an important legal issue?

Somebody take a picture.

Anonymous said...

Do you think Abe doesn't stress over or have to prepare for his "lock" cases? It is precisely because he is the finest prosecutor in Florida that he handles those types cases. He HAS TO get a conviction and only he and a small handful in FLorida could accept that huge responsibility.

fake chris matthews said...

My head is starting to hurt from all this intellectual debate. How about this one: who would you rather have as your chief of state--"Dinosaur Brain" G.W. or "Walking Death" Fidel?

P.S. Lighten up and have a drink. It's St. Patrick's Day

Anonymous said...

If we want to join the rest of the civilized world, maybe we should do away with the adversarial system and common law tradition (which had been rooted in combat and actual physical ordeal) and move to the inquisitorial system and the civil law tradition.

If the rest of the world is so right, to pot with everything else we've relied on over the years, right (except the presumption of innocence of course, the civilized majority of the world seems to have actually accepted that).

Of course plea bargaining on the other hand... is not something most other civilized nations use.

Maybe you might not find it to be an evolution at all. I'm sure someone would have argued that Hitler should get life in prison too if he hadn't taken the coward's way out.

And they hung Saddam... how barbaric!

Spicoli said...

Rumpole I think hits the nail on the coffin:

"We do not enter the arena of “evil” because we believe this system is irreparably broken. We believe the system may well have executed an innocent man. And we know this legal system of ours has incarcerated over a hundred innocent men on death row, many for decades. We do not need to debate the evil issue. We do not have a system that works, and for us, the debate ends there."

Funny, that is an epistemic argument against the death penalty. I agree, despite only having the credibility of a bug on a winshield for making an i.d. on a "debate geek." The system on this is broken and therefore, we ought not ever have the death penalty.

Assuming we had some futuristic gadget that could give us 100% certainty as to guilt and fix the system, what then?

Still, I would argue it's simply wrong. Objectively wrong. I'll assume the standard, "what if it was your relative brutally killed?" is going to follow. It should. Emotion should not play a part in the argument. For a host of reasons, the death penalty is rock bottom, morally wrong. All of the arguments in support of it pretty much fail, except one: Retributivsm. And that's where the rubber meets the road. I'll side on sticking the bastard in jail for life in a very small hole and deprive him access to Rumpole.

Anonymous said...

Why come down on Abe and other death penalty prosecutors? Abe, throws up his hands and says, "Sorry, I'm sworn to prosecute under these laws." Well, I believe it was Abe that brought up the issue of "free will." Abe is CHOOSING to prosecute under these laws. He is CHOOSING to kill people.

Anonymous said...

I think that some of you miss the point. Each case is different. In this case, Couey deserves to die. He buried a child alive after he raped her. She could not defend herself or save herself. People like Couey cannot be fixed. He and those who kill for the sport of it because somewhere in their sad pathetic lives something happened to make them a damaged human being( Aileen Wuornos, Jeffrey Dahlmer, Ted Bundy) cannot be fixed a need to die in order at least to prevent the victimization of another by their hands. Does anyone doubt that if Couey , given the chance, was allowed to be in a room with a child again would not rape her? And if the death penalty was not imposed would he hesitate for one moment not to kill her? On the other hand a 19 year old kid with no prior record , high on drugs who goes into the local 7-11 and after robbing the cashier, shoots him, maybe that is a case for life. What about the 21 year old gang member who thinks it is ok to drive by and kill multiple people for standing on his turf or some other imagined wrong? Tougher argument. The point is that the punishment fit the crime and facts of the killing.

spicoli said...

Far out 11:07:00 AM,

Basically, you are calling Abe, Father of Isaac, a murderer? Am I id'ing him wrong?

C'mon. First, if you agree the system is flawed, then, one can not assign moral culpability to Abe because he did not choose the system. He chose only to enter a flawed system we all did.

The flip side to your argument is that when a defense attorney represents a pedophile he or she is a rapist scumbag the same. "Raping The Victim" again...

How about the answer on this issue right here, right now, for the first time in philosophical history...

Spicoli needs a moment. Ahhhhh.

WE DON'T KNOW WHAT THE RIGHT ANSWER IS! Also, there might very well be a right answer, but we don't know it yet.

Now, I think the correct position on this is against for a host of reasons. Plus, I'm pretty sure I know the right answer. But, to stretch that into calling the Homicide Prosecutor a murderer and assessing blame simply because he chose to be a lawyer only illustrates the original problem of the systemic problem Rumpole initially speaks of. With your logic, the lawyers moral culpability always equals the client's.

So going one step further, The Citizens of The State of Florida, who are the client, are murderers. Nope.

One more argument, gimmee a break dude. Don't brand that Prosecutorial dude a murderer just because you strongly disagree with him. That's just a cow-pattie argument.

Whoa, this is some heavy shit man.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with 9:30. We are all nasty, evil, monsterous, mideival demon spawn who take sick pleasure in murdering the innocent and dancing in their blood, mostly because we are backwards, illogical, and stupid. Then again, if 9:30 really believed that (and considered themselves part of this monsterous species) they would owe the world a duty and attempt to place humanity on the endagered species list. Anything less would be inhumane.

At any rate, I still agree with Rumpole that the evidence may well be that the risk of error is too great. But I don't think that the argument that "the rest of the world except for the barbarians have abolished it" is terribly persuasive. If that was the case, then those first states who abolished the death penalty, and were therefore contrary to the vast majority of the world, were crazy and to be shunned. Yet death penalty opponents want to start counting international votes now, rather than, say, at the time that the 8th Amendment was ratified. All I can ask is why. If "cruel or unusual punishment" really is about "evolving standards of decency" then those standards should be allowed to evolve both ways, towards more cruel as well as less.

In any event, Justice Blackmun's quote was actually about the supposed discriminatory disproportionate impact that the death penalty has against minorities. However, Justice Blackmun never argued that those who received the death penalty did not deserve it. His objection was rooted in equal protection, not about whether the death penalty results in the horror of an incorrect decision.

Mr. Laeser, I still think that you are placing too much emphasis on the pain of the victim. I can fully understand that even the best prosecutor has dueling alliegances, but at the end of the day, your duty is to the law and to society, not to any particular victim.

Otherwise, I'm loving the debate.

Rumpole said...

One problem is that not every county, not every state has an Abe Laeser who works his cases through and through. How about Dallas, where they hand out the death penalty like we hand out withholds- they had five innocent people exonerated with DNA in the last few years. One would think they have an experienced prosecutorial staff. Apparently not.

Rumpole said...

To answer Mr. Laeser's question about which innocent man was executed-

Witness Clears Man Executed In Texas for 1985 Slaying

Associated Press
Tuesday, November 22, 2005; Page A02

HOUSTON -- A decade after Ruben Cantu was executed for capital murder, the only witness to the crime is recanting and his co-defendant says Cantu, then 17, was not even with him that night.

The victim was shot nine times with a rifle during an attempted robbery before the gunman shot the only witness.

That witness, Juan Moreno, told the Houston Chronicle for its Sunday editions that Cantu was not the killer. Moreno said he identified him at the 1985 trial because he felt pressured and feared authorities.

Cantu, who had maintained his innocence, was executed on Aug. 24, 1993, at age 26. "Texas murdered an innocent person," co-defendant David Garza said.

We suggest that you do a google search- "executed an innocent man" and read some of the articles. Seems to us, in about ten minutes, we read about 4-5 cases that caused us real concern

Anonymous said...

November 22, 2005? Of course innoncents are executed. Remember November 22, 1963...TEXAS? Another conspiracy worth debating at some point.

TX makes FLA look like a cakewalk compared to their excution rate I believe. Until the law is changed, the system is broken, and it is what it is. We need to come into to tune with most right thinking societies (unfortunately France being one of them) that the death penalty is wrong. That's doesn't make Abe a stone cold killer. Nonsense.

Anonymous said...

How do we deal with a Pedro Alonso Lopez of Colombia (140 admitted kills), Henry Lee Lucas and his partner Ottis Toole (more than 200 known kills), and HH Holmes and his house of torture (also more than 200)? Sisters Delfina and Maria de Jesus Gonzales (91 dead bodies recovered?)

Pietro Pacciani, the Monster of Florence, was convicted in 1994 of murdering eight couples in lovers' lanes near Florence and who was given 16 life sentences but was freed on appeal in 1996. He of course, died of a heart attack in February 1998 while awaiting retrial.

Ed Gein the twisted trophy hunter who liked to keep his victims' lips in a small bowl. Jeffrey Dahmer who we all know of his exploits. Bundy who faked a broken arm in a sling to convince young women to help him carry his textbooks only to then batter them with a baseball bat and carry them dozens for ghoulish rituals.

Andrei Chikatilo who delighted in boiling and eating sawn-off body parts of his victims, often not bothering to kill them before the mutilation began.

Hitler, Mussolini, Saddam, Pol Pot, Bin Laden, Abdullah Salah Gosh, the eight alleged Hutu ringleaders of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and the list goes on - would we be so quick to choose life for them if each of them were at the end of an injecting needle?

Spicoli said...

Aloha 12:59:00 PM

You stick them in the smallest hole with maximum security and condemn those you metion to Hell on Earth. With, 3 meals a day and no waterboarding.

The argument that protection of society has been beaten destroyed thoughout time. Same with detterence. The only solid argument is a retributivstic one. I disagree with that.

old guy said...

Change the law.

Prosecutors now and in the future are sworn to uphold the law. They cannot pick which laws to enforce.

spicoli said...

Yeah. Change the law. Don't hate the player, hate the game.

Anonymous said...

i hate to take up for abe as he is well able to fend off his opponents but...

the next case abe is trying, is the orlando five case. the case is a nightmare. do these men deserve to live? abe feels it should be a jury question. it's hard not to respect his position considering the facts. the nice thing about abe is that he is honest. he is also a wonderful trial attorney.

Anonymous said...

Harry Blackmun had no problem with the death penalty. he made it possible to legally give it to millions of unborn children.

Anonymous said...

Prosecutors choose when to seek the death penalty. They don't have to do it if they don't want to. Prosecutors just bow to the pressure of voters who love the death penalty.

Anonymous said...

it's easy to be honest when every case you try is a slam dunk.

what good does it do to kill the murderous five. with the death penalty, we become no better the them.

plus, what do you say to the families of those who are executed by the state for crimes they did not commit?

like rumpole says, if every prosecutor were as talented abe-no problem. what about the wahoos who prosecute in alabama. the system is broke-period end of story.

Anonymous said...

The Problem with the Death Penalty is that as Humans we are imperfect; we make mistakes. We learn in law school it is better for 10 guilty ones to go free than a Innocent go to prison/death. But in reality the sytem would give up any number of innocent people just in case they did it. Too many innocents are convicted.
That be said, I beleive in the social contract. We all agree to live by the law (esspecialy Thou shall not Murder) , no one of us is free ti violate that law, and knowing that if you Murder, I beleive you consent to being PUNISHERD for YOUR ACTS by FORFEITING YOUR LIFE.
Come after my wife & kids , and if I dont shoot you, I hope the State gives you a Hot Shot; ofcourse after a free & public trial w/ a good lawyer by your side.
D. Sisselman

Anonymous said...


What about when we kill a person who is actually innocent? When this happens, the whole system fails.

spicoli said...

Indeed our system is based in part on Social Contract theory, however, such a theory does NOT morally justify a law simply because of consent to live by some sort of absrtact contract which prevents us from living in the State of Nature. For a while, society consented to a host of laws that were immoral and illegal. I.E. Women not being allowed to vote, slavery, seperate but equal, fun sexual positions, etc. Consent to live in society does not automatically morally justify any law intrinsically.

That's why we don't follow pure Social Contract Theory. Further, you skirt the issue by arguing such. Who cares if we consent to live in a society that is not like Locke's State of Nature. Consent doesn not vitiate immoral deeds. The social contract, in its' most abstract, by any of the famous philosophers who wrote about it, has logical flaws inherent within it. Your argument, falls within one of those logical fallacies.

Bringing us back to square one Rumpole wrote about. The system (or social contract) is flawed. Thus, some of that which flows from the system is flawed. Like the death penalty.

All of the arguments in support of death penalty, so far, can be defeated and have been by others far smarter than than I, with sound logic. The only argument that has any merit (although I don't buy this argument) is retributivism. That is the only ground one can try to justify the death penalty in the face of all the counterarguments which have been made in defeated in all circles. What the law says is legal doesn't mean it is right. A difference between was is, and what ought to be. An easy example for me is the legalization of buds. There are flipside examples too. But, when it comes to the government whacking someone and it can not be done with 100% certainty of guilt, then there is a real problem with killing others in the name of the Stae. And, we can reach that sound answer before even addressing the others substantive issues of Death Penalty.

A long way of saying, the argument you posit is circular. The best pro-death penalty argument has yet to be made (which I don't support): A cold blooded killer deserves to die. Pure retributivsm as moral justification. But, that argument can easily be picked apart too.

Aloha. Err on the side of not offfing someone when we know there are flaws in the system.

Anonymous said...

It is all about being punished for awful crimes already committed.

We do not lynch anyone. They gets lots of rights + lots of appeals. There just is a right of society to punish the worst offenders in this way.

Not deterring other crimes. Not as an example to others. Just punishing the evil killer - plain and simple, and justified.

Anonymous said...

Killing is Killing is Killing, the reason is not relevant. Please do not kill in my name (anonymous though it may be). Where are not civilized nation as long as we continue the barabric practice of State Sanctioned Murder. The name of the defednant nor the abhorrance of the conduct need control the debate. It is so much simpler and it amounts to the fact taht we should avoid killing becuase nothing makes us more human than our need and instinct to preserve our own species. We do not eat one another, nor should we execute one another.
For thos who may ask why we (anti-death penalty) we it may do well to recall a poem attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller (an early supporter of the Nazis):
When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Abe and other like minded souls remember that injustice is sometimes cloaked in very oficial garb. Let us not practice injutice or inhumanity to women or men.

Anonymous said...

The only way to insure no innocent person is executed is to have the crime videotaped, or to abolish the death penalty.

If you are for the death penalty, then although you may be concerned that an innocent person is executed in our imperfect system, it's a risk you are willing to take.

I am not.

Anonymous said...

Here is the deal on Death Penalty, We all know that if it was a family member harmed by someone that we would love to flip the switch on the electric chair regardless of retardation or other issues. (especially a child or elderly relative).

A question I have is why is the state not responsible to find help for the retarded to prevent those with issues from doing what they dont know is murder. Judge Leifman highlighted the Dade Jail overcrowded 9th floor with people who would kill a child and perhaps not know what they did? Should we kill that person? Should the victims family have a cause of action against the state or the courts who let retarded people loose from the system?

If we can pay for legal counsel for the poor and retarded we can certainly pay for phycologist to provide the Courts with the reports needed to keep the retarded in homes that prevent them from harming children.

The State has immunity on almost all causes of actions, is this one of them? I bet you any money that once we start filing million dollar claims against the state from not getting the mentally Ill the help they need that things will change.

Bottom line is that an eye for eye or keep the murder from ever taking place by putting the state's feet to the fire and take away immunity and allow suits for allowing the mentally loose on the streets to harm our children and loved ones.

I tell you that if a mentally ill person killed a loved one I would want the death penalty and would volunter to flick the switch, however I would prefer that no murder ever took place and we get these people the help they need.

Thank god we have the Jimmy Ryce act. That legislation has probally saved lives of children.

What say you...

Anonymous said...

It's easy to sit back and say that John Couey deserves the death penalty. No question of his guilt and certainly a heinous crime. But the John Couey's, Ted Bundy's, and Danny Rollings' represent a smalll minority of those actually convicted and sentenced to death.

What about the kid whose mother forced him and his younger brother to steal all of their lives and guilted them into it by saying they would do it if they loved their baby sister? When they were 16 and 18, they robbed a fast food restaurant. The younger brother carried the gun. Once they completed the robbery, the younger brother said we should kill the witnesses. The older brother said no way and left the room. The younger brother pulled the trigger and killed someone. B/c the brother was 16, he is doing life with the possibility of parole after 25 years. But b/c the older brother was 18 (and a few months) he got death. I understand that by willingly participating in a Robbery, the older brother is guilty of Felony Murder and should be sentenced life.

I challenge any death penalty proponent, please show me how it is right in any sense that the older brother be executed when it is undisputed that he is not the shooter?

These are the cases that don't make the news. These are the ones who go unnoticed by the public. These are the majority of the types of cases that land people on death row.

CAPTAIN said...


Why is Florida the only state in the US that allows the death penalty on a majority vote?

Every other state requires a unanimous vote!

(Yes, I understand the Judge has final say and that the jury vote is only a recommendation)

But Florida stands alone

CAPTAIN OUT ..........

spicoli said...

Maybe because Florida has a large percentage of morons who vote poorly and it has somehow witheld appellate scrutiny? Any chance of progression on the issue was stymied by Jeb for a while.

Anonymous said...

Nobody seeks the death penalty in YOUR name. This society is based upon majority rule. Laws are passed.
The death penalty is sought on behalf of the majority of society. When you become the majority, you can change the laws.

Anonymous said...

someone said:

"These are the cases that don't make the news. These are the ones who go unnoticed by the public. These are the majority of the types of cases that land people on death row.

Saturday, March 17, 2007 6:02:00 PM"

Instead of dealing in lets say this happens I ask you 6:02 pm to point to a case in which something like this happen and lets debate it on this blog. Your point is very strong but weres the proof that what you say is taking place (case law or case numbers)!

Great point otherwise!

I think the only way to really stay safe is life in prison. HARD HARD LABOR!!!

Anonymous said...

oh great someone let a dickhead use a computer

Anonymous said...

Pam Bondi on Headline Prime is hot. I almost forgot what she was saying about all this Couey hooplah.

old guy said...

That case with the 16 and 18 year old -- do they have names. I refuse to believe that Dade would seek it, a jury would recommend it, and a judge would impose it. Please print their names so I can check your facts.

Or is your argument based on fiction?

If so, let me begin by prosecuting Hitler, Stalin, and Atilla the Hun -- and The Joker, Lex Luther ...

trivia master said...

I'm just in a trivia mood.

1) What former county court judge is named in the title of the case that stands for the rule that PTI is a state program and judges cannot put defendant's in PTI by themselves?

Bonus- true or false- that same Judge was a scrappy point guard on an NYU team in the late 40's and he hit the winning shot at the buzzer to send NYU into the NIT finals.

2) What former prosecutor is memoralized forever more by having his name attached to the the prosecutors' system for checking files to see if discovery was sent?

Bonus- what law firm did he leave the SAO for?

Anonymous said...

Blecher is Spicolli.
Shuminer is Mr. Hand.

Spicoli said...

Aloha Mr. Hand,
Who is Belcher? I ain't him... Hopefully Belcher likes Vans and other things I like. Tasty waves and tasty babes... Uhh...... Mr. Hand had a huge impact on my life after high school. But for him, I would have never read The Second Treatise on Government on my board.

Anonymous said...

7:13 is the answer Judge Sheldon Schwartz?

Anonymous said...


What retired circuit court Judge sentenced a MURDERER TO LIFE after the Jury voted for death and the family of the victim protested the Judge outside the REG.

Anonymous said...

Judge Robinson

Anonymous said...

The point of MY belief in the Social Contract is that the Murderers THEMSELVES consent to the possibility of being executed by doing the HAC Murder. By killing in such a way, w/ knowledge & all that other due process/constitutional necessities (to guard our libertys) By doing the wild & wicked deed , the perp consents to be executed. S/He aggreed they could forfeit their life by the HAC [etc} NMurder. One of my best freind's sister was murder by O'Toole abnd his partner.
On the other hand, it is only by the Grace of G-d and the slow FLAlegal system that Pitts & Lee were not executed.
Aye theres the rub...
D. Sisselman

Anonymous said...

The societal contract does stand apart from the death penalty - as needed to protect us from the State of Man of Hobbes or the State of Nature of Locke.

But the point as being, a contract is a contract.

Contracts and morality don't go hand in hand general, save that a contract can't be an illegal one.

But the bottom line remains that the contract calls for following the law. You can change the law. You always can.

Executions, especially where they are painful, humiliating, and public, may create a sense of horror that would prevent others from being tempted to commit similar crimes. Any studies of deterrence obviously are not going to correlate these findings because humiliating open public executions don't take place in the US anymore.

Death penalty opponents love to assume that the principal purpose for capital punishment is deterrence, possibly realizing it is a perfect straw argument.

In this day and age, death is usually administered in private by relatively painless means, such as injections of drugs, and to that extent it may be less effective as a deterrent. So of course, it makes sense that deterrence is an outdated notion.

Times change however and the DNA that exculpates is now additionally the DNA that convicts. Death penalty opponents maintain that life imprisonment is still less expensive but there does not yet appear to be an academic study that has thoroughly evaluated this issue - of the costs of a lifetime of taking care of someone versus the "broken process".

A typical abolitionist perspective: The death penalty has been a gross failure. Beyond its horror and incivility, it has neither protected the innocent nor deterred the wicked. The recurrent spectacle of publicly sanctioned killing has cheapened human life and dignity without the redeeming grace which comes from justice meted out swiftly, evenly, humanely.

On the other hand, if public justice is seen to be inadequate, it will give rise to private revenge. The common perception that the legal system is too liberal is reflected modern films.

If the death penalty is abolished and retribution won't hand a killer death, how hard would it be to think that a victim's family member won't take matters into his or her own hands. What's the worst that could happen? Life in prison? Not like they were facing a death penalty anyway, that's just been abolished.

If someone brutally murdered my loved one, wouldn't be a stretch for me to go and make a stupid mistake but be saddled with the lifetime of 3 hots and a cot.

Anonymous said...

Sorry that I did not get to chime in on the Robinson answer.

Bonus points: Which team of Georgia lawyers did he solicit to come in and help trial counsel for the penalty phase, without the lead counsel's knowledge?

Glad it was his last day in criminal court. If he was unable to impose a sentence which the law allows, he should have had the guts to ask that the case be re-assigned. Instead he went through the charade, and then decided not to follow the jury -- without giving any reason.

It did not help me much when I tried the two co-defendants in separate trials.

Anonymous said...

I don't care if our rate of executed innocents is 1%.

I want Abe to tell me if the death-penalty is more or less expensive than life in prison without parole.

I want Abe to cite reputable statistics on the number crimes prevented by the death penalty as compared to life in prison without parole.

I want Abe to tell me how much money the entire criminal justice system of Florida would save, annually, if we commuted every death penalty sentence tommmorow.

I want Abe to tell me how killing a a human being in cold blood, even a vile human, will increase society's view on the sancity of life.

abe laeser said...

I will gladly concede that we spend less on imprisonment than on capital litigation.

Appelate and collateral practice is expensive. If we narrow ones rights, that would be cheaper -- but it would also be WRONG !!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it wouldn't cost so much if we didn't waste so much time and money on specious appeals and Rule 3's.

Locke, Rousseau, Hobbes, and Spicoli said...

Your interpretation of the Socical Contract, under any of these theories, falls into the "Bobbesian Circle." Wikipedia that maybe. Not everyone consents. Under your theory, just because you live here, all laws must be just or right simply b/c a social contract was formed. That's illogical.

There is a sense of tacit consent, not unanimous consent, to live by the rules. However, some rules are unjust. Even unanimous consent does not necssarily follow that a law is just or fair.

A better construct and updated version (circa 1970) is John Rawls: A Theory of Justice and the "Veil of Ignorance." I'm too tired to explain it, but under that theory the Death Penalty can be dejustified.

A Social Contract does not equal Utopia. It is a framework. With flaws.

Further, you've boiled down the social contract into a sort of majority rules type of analysis. This really isn't what the social contract is about. It is, depending on which theorist you want to rely upon, a method out of madness -- anarchy or the State of Nature. Some say it is done for selfish reasons others for cooperative purposes. Regardless, it does not stand for the proposition that a law is just. Just that we live in a society rather than anarchy.


CAPTAIN said...


3rd DCA JNC is now accepting applications to replace Judge John G. Fletcher.

Get you applications filed; they will be reviewed by the following members of the JNC:

Gerald B. Wald, Chairman
Marcos D. Jimenez, Vice-Chairman
Ramon A. Abadin
Jeffrey S. Bass
Matias R. Dorta
Hector J. Lombana
Peter Prieto
Thomas R. Spencer
Marielena Villamil

Application deadline is March 30.

CAPTAIN OUT .............

Anonymous said...

In this corner we have Rawls. In this corner we have Nozick. Nozick's work in Anarchy, State and Utopia against Rawls' A Theory of Justice.

Rawls' work sparked a lot of debate but it was much criticized. There's a good heap of material in there that justifies socialism. Because from behind the veil of ignorance, what path would we choose?

Nozick's theory made more sense because libertarian capitalism makes more sense. We can try to equalize things for the downtrodden but at the end of the day, people want their shot at creating imbalance. People want the risks and the rewards that come with them.

Of course, Nozick advocated less government being better. But then that would result in private justice versus public justice.

Rawls wanted egalitarianism, but then if we're choosing justice from an original position, and not one rooted by tradition, who can truly say we won't choose a death penalty all over again? Because we would create rules that treat all fairly? Behind a veil, there is no broken system, and we don't have the benefit of statistics about executed innocents, we don't have deterrence statistics or any of that.

I don't think Rawls is much help here in all honesty.

spicoli fake executor of Rawls' estate said...

I think I froze my brain. Those are the arguments... I wonder who that might be... both can be reasonably argued. Both have flaws. The point I'm basically making is one can not justify the Death Penalty with social contract theory.

Assuming their is a split in authority amongst those in the veil of ignorance though, it is reasonable to assume a no death penalty rule would result. Although there are counter-arguments to this. Plus, Nozick's is a pimple on the ass of Rawls and he only got hype b/c of him.

Regardless, the general point is either theory, assuming they work, are irrelevant for purposes of this analysis if you grant out that social contract theory is an unjust means to achive an end of death penalty justification as morally correct.

I don't think many here really give a shit about this philosophical discourse, but, if studied, the point is, social contract theory, in any form, does not justify the death penalty intrinically. As being objectively and morally correct. Not too mention the epistemic concern that is validated by empiracl data. The system is flawed. Garbage in garbage out.

Did I mention I peed on Nozick's book? And I fart in Nozick's general direction.

Aloha dude.

Anonymous said...

10:10, I know that Palmer Singleton (who I went to law school with) was one of the Georgia attorneys, but I cant' remember who his partner was. I also can't remember who the trial attorney was but I do remember that he supposedly fell asleep during the trial and was obviously not up to the task. Abe was the prosecutor, and he was not a happy camper at the end of the trial (it sounds like you weren't too happy either). The case was a political foootball, since the victim's father was a high ranking membe of the Latin Builder's Association. I never thought that Robinson would have the balls to not kill the defendant but he proved a lot of doubters wrong. Palmer was and is a brilliant lawyer and loaded the courtroom with a lot of Robinson's liberal Amnesty International friends for the death phase proceedings. Of course, I am sure Abe made sure to load the courtroom with LBA hotshots too, but Robinson (a multimillionare) did not need to suck their dicks for campaign contributions and was able to win reelection, despite active attempts by Miami's reactionary community to beat him down.

Anonymous said...

I think anti-death penalty whiz kid Steven Bright might have been Palmer Singleton's partner in the Robinson case but who was the trial attorney who, hopefully, was disbarred for incompetence after the trial?

Anonymous said...

Abe, can you post the case you will be trying along with the date it will start, ct room, etc... I haven't watched the master in years and want to make it out there.

Anonymous said...

Death is different, a phrase commonly recurring in SCOTUS opinions.

Jean Hampton looks at two aspects of retribution: 1) Punishment as a defeat of the wrongdoer, a defeat which reasserts the moral truth of the victim's equal moral status as a person in the face of its denial by the offender; and 2) Punishment as vindicating the value not only of the victim but of all other innocent persons.

Punish all and only the guilty, in proportion to their desert. Of course, many are concerned with whether just one innocent man has been executed. From a utilitarian standpoint, we wouldn't care however, because routine execution of criminals even the innocent, is a price the majority will pay.

Deterrence obviously makes no sense, but the ultimate deterrence referred to is really incapacitation. Of course, we've had a lot of back and forth on whether life in prison isn't a better form of incapacitation. Retribution we have discussed again and again.

Spicoli you dislike Nozick, but he was the poster child, and advocated the notions that sat well with the conservative and corporate world. Rawls of course, is a respected deontological theorist, but so was Locke and Kant. Locke advocated the death penalty. Kant advocated the death penalty.

Rawls resorted to Kant often in his later writings. But Rawls split with Locke and Kant because he always rooted for the underdog, i.e. was always looking to maximize the utility of the socioeconomically disadvantaged - hence the socialist leanings. As a result, Rawls flipflopped and changed more in time from his original ideas.

Anonymous said...

the master of death and ducks.

Anonymous said...

old guy and 7:04 p.m.:

The case was not in Dade County. At least in Dade, the cases in which death is sought seem a little more reasonable.

Unfortunately, the rest of Florida is completely different. The cite is 937 so.2d 612. This is the latest opinion by FSC denying 3.851 relief in a 4-3 opinion. The case history and previous opinions are cited in the opinion.

As you read, you'll notice that I didn't put in all the facts. It was unquestionably a violent robbery, one which the older brother willingly partcipated in. And remember I said he deserves life in prison. But I will never be convinced that he deserves to be executed when it is undisputed that he didn't kill anyone and his brother is serving a life sentence and is eligible for parole.

And please don't get me started on how the prosecutor in the case cross-examined a defense mitigation witness using the Bible and twisting his words to make him say that the Bible mandates the death penalty for murder. He handed him a Bible on the stand!

I heard about the case from a friend and didn't believe it myself until I read the opinion.

Spicoli said...

Bottom Line I think: Rawls, Kant, Nozick, Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau and their Mothers would agree:

Abe is not morally culpable for prosecuting any crime unless he were prosecuting someone he knew was innoncent or did not have a good faith basis to proceed. Branding him a murderer is an inane argument for a host of reasons whether you are for or against the death penalty. The rest is just philosphical banter.

Also his name is Abe for Heaven's Sake. Father of Isaac. He's been around a long time. He also did the Gettysburg Address and came back to life after getting shot at the Ford Theatre to be reincarnated as a Prosecutor.

Aloha Philosophy Dude.

Nozick sucks.

Anonymous said...

Trivia master...your answer to question 2 at 7:13 is Gainor. Prosecutors were to "gainor" their dui cases and make sure they had the witness cop, breath cop, and roadside test cop available in order to announce ready for trial. At one point, we were even told that Gainor himself asked the prosecutors to stop using the term!

E. Garcia

trivia master said...

CORRECT. RON GAINOR is the attorney whose name will live in infamy in the SAO.

trivia matser said...


GAINOR left for the SAO to Weiner, Robbins, Tunkey and Ross.


THE HONORABLE ARTHUR WINTON the case is State ex rel Winton or something like that.

And as far as we know, the rumor that Winton was a scrappy point guard on an NYU team from the 1940's is FALSE.

Anonymous said...

Death penalty sux.

cecil b demile, jr., esq. said...

Fast Times at REGJB High, starring

Mark Pannunzio as Jeff Spicoli
Mark Eiglarsh as Mark Rat Ratner
Jason Grey as Mike Damone
Don Cohen as Mr. Vargas
Judge David Miller as Mr. Hand

Anonymous said...

Abe Laeser as the undertaker.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole, do you ever wonder what life would be like if you'd had enough oxygen at birth?

Anonymous said...

Hey, Saturday, March 17, 2007 10:10:00 PM

I disagree I think Judge Robinson did the right thing. It takes guts to order Life in prison in the face of such strong media attention.

Judge Robinson is what all Judges should be independent and not swayed by public or family members opinions.

We may disagree on the decision Judge Robinson made but you cannot take away the fact that he is a true independent HONORABLE JUDGE AT HEART.

If only more Judges can be like him.

Anonymous said...

8:49 P.M., how dare you compare depos with the DEATH PENALTY? You are a true moron!

Anonymous said...

Excuse me, 08:49 A.M..

ghost of jimmy the greek said...

Remember my prediction--Torture Boy will resign as A.G. by Friday. And it will be a resignation, since the Brain Stem will never fire him and risk losing Hispanic votes for the G.O.P. by removing their Cabinet representative (as if they aren't embarrassed enough already for having such a pathetic incompetent appointed in the first place).

Arlen Spector wants to subpoenas Carl Rove and Harriet Myers to testify under oath in front of the Senate, so this could turn into a major scandal. Rove's strategy was incredibly arrogant and stupid in the first place, since he has turned an important portion of his own party against the White House. Not only did he insure that the 8 Republican U.S.A.s who he fired would turn against the administration but he also antagonized their sponsors, patrons, and supporters as well. And Torture Boy made it even worse when he went in front of the Senate and lied under oath, giving farcicle and inconsistent explanations for the firings that you would only expect from a moron like him. Now there are some very pissed off Republican Senators as well.

The reason that the White House released the e-mails showing that Torture Boy had been involved in the plot while he was still White House Counsel was in response to T.B.'s attempts to shift the blaim to Myers and Rove in one of his earlier lame attempts at evading responsibility. This could be like the good old days of vicious internecine leaks and "off-the-record" interviews that can only benefit the Democrats.

Anonymous said...

Here is something I am about to KILL (and I am so happy about it)! I am paying off my credit card tomorrow and I will never have another one in my life. Now I just have to pay off my law school loans and then I will be looking for my husband.

Anonymous said...

quite frankly, this discussion bores me. and i am tired of ole abe's rantings. i liked him more when he was sticking his finger through his zipper. what is important is that the GATORS survived the weekend and are thru to the sweet 16.blake, emmas and slom will be happy this week!!

Anonymous said...

Hey Abe,

The answer to your question is -
Frank Lee Smith. If you recall
Mr. Smith died of cancer while on death row and was later found to
be innocent of the crimes.

Christian Dunham

P.S. Let me guess what your response will be - he wasn't executed by the State, right?

Anonymous said...

3:47-3:48pm, how dare you engage in intelligent discourse, always bringing a knife to a gun fight?

The post already addresses the apples and oranges issue. The subtle point was, the bandwagon argument is what it is - a subtle majoritarian argument.

Does anyone insist that we are wrong because simply the majority of states have different discovery rules? No.

Yet we are supposed to swallow that we are "against the grain" of civilized nations that abolished a death penalty.

Yet we are supposed to resist the fact that the majority of the voters are bloodthirsty and would retain a death penalty?

See the circular argument here? Its cool to be a minority in some respects but not in other respects?

Not very solid ground to hang a hat on.

Anonymous said...

what ever happened to "Sam I am" his rants I liked

Anonymous said...

Looking back I ask :

Chris and Alan
A Robed One
Sam I Am
Brain Tanenbaum
The Big O

Do we need an Amber alert! What ever happened to the named above?

Anonymous said...

Man Freed by DNA Found Guilty in Slaying

Published: March 18, 2007
Filed at 9:48 p.m. ET

CHILTON, Wis. (AP) -- A man who spent 18 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit was convicted Sunday of murdering a photographer, whose charred bones were found in a burn pit outside his home.

Steven Avery, 44, put his head down and shook it when the verdict was read. He faces a mandatory life prison term for killing Teresa Halbach, 25, on Halloween 2005 near his family's salvage yard.

Halbach disappeared Oct. 31, 2005, after going to the yard in rural Manitowoc County to photograph a minivan that Avery's sister had for sale through Auto Trader Magazine. Avery had called that morning to request the photo, testimony showed.

A few days later, Halbach's vehicle was found in the Avery salvage lot under branches, pieces of wood and car parts. Investigators then spent a week on the 40-acre property and found charred fragments of her bones in a pit behind Avery's garage and in a barrel, along with her camera and cell phone.

Two years before Halbach died, Avery was released from prison after serving 18 years for a Manitowoc County rape that DNA analysis showed he did not commit. He later settled a wrongful-conviction lawsuit against the county for $400,000 and used it for his defense.

After the verdict was read, Halbach's brother, Mike Halbach, 24, told reporters that he was pleased and that he believed his sister's spirit guided the jury.

''What matters is that Steven Avery is going to be in prison for rest of his life, which from the start is what we wanted,'' he said.

Defense lawyer Dean Strang said Avery was disappointed but not despondent. He said they plan to consider challenging the conviction within 30 days.

''He has experience with the time that can pass before others accept his innocence,'' Strang said. ''He's in effect an old hand, unfortunately, at waiting for the criminal justice system to get it right.''

The jury convicted Avery of first-degree intentional homicide and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was acquitted of mutilating a corpse. The panel deliberated over three days and heard a month of testimony.

The jurors issued a statement saying none would discuss the case.

Avery's nephew Brendan Dassey is due for trial next month. In March 2006, he confessed to helping kill and rape Halbach.

Prosecutors then added charges of sexual assault, kidnapping and false imprisonment to Avery's case. But Dassey recanted his confession and rejected a plea deal that would have required him to testify against his uncle.

The judge dismissed the sexual assault and kidnapping charges against Avery in January because prosecutors could not guarantee the nephew would testify. The judge dismissed the false imprisonment charge Monday, saying the jurors didn't have enough evidence to convict Avery of the charge.

Mike Halbach said his family expects Dassey's trial to have a similar outcome after it begins April 16.

In closing arguments, defense lawyer Dean Strang had told jurors their verdict could ''set a lot of things right'' for Avery because of his previous wrongful conviction.

''The 1985 case won't matter so much anymore if justice is done this time,'' he said.

But special prosecutor Ken Kratz said it was ''absolutely improper'' for the defense to ask jurors to take the old case into account.

He told jurors the prosecution's theory of what happened -- that Avery backed Halbach's vehicle into his empty garage, closed the garage door and at some point shot Halbach at least twice and put her in the back of her vehicle.

Avery's attorneys had claimed Manitowoc County Sheriff's Sgt. Andrew Colborn and Lt. James Lenk, embarrassed by Avery's wrongful-conviction lawsuit, planted evidence to make sure he would be convicted of the murder, including putting Avery's blood in Halbach's vehicle.

The lawyers claimed the blood came from an unsecured vial from Avery's appeals of the rape case. They also claimed the bones were moved to where they were found.

A detective in another county told Colborn in the mid-1990s that he had someone in custody who may have committed an assault in Manitowoc County. Colborn wasn't a sworn officer at the time and transferred the call to a detective. Lenk took his statement on the matter in 2003. Avery was not mentioned.

Colborn and Lenk testified they never planted evidence and had no anger or embarrassment over the lawsuit.

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spicoli said...

Aloha REJB High:

I said high.

I couldn't resist putting the following link here for REJB High. If you are offended by a clip of a the tastiest of 80's babes and the hottest pool scene ever, do not click the link. If you are like Brad in the bathroom, then you will want to.

Well Cecil, I'm glad you are trying to peg the characters for REJB, simply a metaphor for high school by the way. Thhis is kind of the lunch room minus the carrot demo with Phoebe. However, there's only one Spicoli dude. And, you haven't figured that out. No worries.

Looks like the death penalty debate is winding down. As to the other charcters, no one has assumed them yet.

I'm worried about the link. Rumpole's gonna shit, then he's gonna kill us!

Possible Sweet 16 picks this week?

I know that dude will help my brackets.

Happy Monday REJB. Enjoy the link. I have, like 30 times.

spicoli said...

Sorry I burnt "G" in REGJB. I meant to smoke the J.

Aloha. The above link distracted me.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Spicoli,

Your discussion of Rawls and Nozick is insightful, and you obviously are well versed in political theory.

That being said, Robert Nozick was my father. He died in 2002 after a seven year battle with stomach cancer. Whatever you think of his philosophy (I myself don't agree with a lot of it) I would appreciate it if you didn't say that he sucks, or that you pissed on his book, or that you fart in his general direction. It offends me.

Thank you in advance,

David Nozick

abe laeser said...

Sorry your Dad got insulted. I 'volunteer' for the slings and arrows by always using my own name, "...and by opposing, end them."

He did not. We can all wish that our compatriots are decent people. Not much we can do about it when they are not. // ABE

Spicoli said...

Dear David,
Sorry. I knew that both he and Rawls had passed and was only poking fun at their theories. Did not mean to be insensitive and did not know you were lucky enough to have such a brilliant father. Truly, I am sorry.

He has become a philosophical icon the mids of man his writings have taken on a life of its' own. Often we, myself obviously included, personhood.

I just didn't like this one post about Abe and likening him to a murderer. The Nozick and Rawls debate took on a life of its' own with a throw-back to Fast Times and Monty Python. Their argument I think needed to be put in context of the debate; hindsight is 20/20.

Well, the buck stops here.

I truly meant no offense. Your father's book, and Rawls, and the others mentioned, had an impact on my life. Only wish I could have been lucky enough to grow up with it as you did.


Anonymous said...


Thank you very much for your response. Your apology is absolutely accepted.

Abe- thank you for your kind message. I've been enjoying your comments on this blog, and wish more people would sign their real names to their messages.

I miss all of you guys in Miami. Life (and the practice of law) in the Hoosier State is not nearly as fun.

David Nozick

Spicoli said...

Thanks for accepting my apologies.

Sometimes, in the world of satire, one forgets there are people behind the jokes. My defense of Abe, a man I do not know, stemmed from a philosphical standpoint of how illogical some of the arguments were when they morphed into a personal attack upon him.

Quite frankly, your acceptance of my apology means much to me. Further, never have I been addressed as Mr. Spicoli, Mr. Nozick.

It's quite strange actually from my perspective. I feel like I'm conversing with the son of Aristotle or something. Always wanted to attend a lecture of either Rawls or Nozick or any of those philosophers. Bitter irony I guess...

Well I try not to throw the first stone for I am not without sin. Here, I have.

At the very least, I hope I didn't offend anyone with the clip of Phoebe Cates a few posts back. I am into both the philosophical and scattelogical. Sorry again. Abe too for that matter. Kant would be peeved with me for using a theory as a mere means to justify a just end -- not branding a Homicide Prosecutor a murderer.

Peace, Aloha, and sympathies to you. I hope you still root for the Heat in Hoosierville.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ya'll! Let's buy this and help Old Buddy Darrin!

Price: $26.99




Official Website: visit the site

Content Rating: Rating [?]

Release Date: 2007-01-04

Running Time: hh:mm

Jonathan Blecher said...


thanks for waking me up to phoebe cates.


Batman said...

To 9:48 - I am still here. I have made my feelings known on this subject in the prior debate.

spicoli said...

Aloha JBB,
I am glad you liked the lights this morning. Someone posted they thought we were one in the same. Bringing us back to the question: What's in a name?

Try watching that scene with your parents as a young teenager. Kinda ruined it at the moment.

Later... Off to surf the courthouse and anmimate objects.

Garbage in, Garbage out. The System Is Too Busy, the Death Penalty question cannot be reached at this time. Please try again later. Dude.

Anonymous said...

Just thought about this - what do we do about the career robbers or rapists who know that they will get HVO life if they get caught. Why not kill the only witness? The penalty is exactly the same, and the odds of getting caught go down dramatically.

Anonymous said...

Operator: 8:36:00 AM: Your example is a dressed up detterence argument. It fails for all of those reasons. Please try again later. The Stystem is busy.

Anonymous said...

8:36 am: Yes, b/c so many of our criminals possess the capacity for deliberation and forethought before they go and rob the 7-11. And of course they calculate the fact that they are a PRRP, GORT, or HVO and could be facing mandatory life anyway.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole, give the death penalty to this post and start another with an update on who are the hottest ASA's and APD's.

Sam I Am said...

Cancel my amber alert.
Sometimes I'd rather not leave a long trail.

I'll say this- Rumpole is wrong to say:
The discussion on the blog boiled down to this: are there people who are truly evil? Or can apparent evil be explained in modern medical terms- with issues like diseases of the frontal lobe, genetics which cause irresistible impulses, and the scars of a horrific childhood, being used to explain otherwise incomprehensibly evil behavior.

With that summation Rumpole heaves an air-ball, if you will. Then, Rumpole attempts to sidestep debate by saying that the death of one innocent man invalidates the death penalty.

Well let's see... if the death of the innocent is what matters, where does Rumpole draw the line? 1:100? 1:1,000,000? 1:1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000? How good a system do you demand?

But perhaps we KNOW the condemned is guilty. The murder was witnessed by 100 random bystanders. It was caught on 10 video-cameras in high definition with sound.. He confesses: "He shot a man in Sweetwater, just to seem him die." There is no doubt. Great. Can we kill him?

Well… to the greater point: Once a murderer is permanently incarcerated, ought we kill him?

Rumpole’s evasive worries about possible innocence is chicken-shit morality. But that’s better than Abe Laesser’s neandertal mentality.

We citizens ought stop and reflect. Step outside the shoes of the victim. Step outside the shoes of the murderer. Consider what is best for civilized society. What actions will make us safe from the murderer? What is the cost? Will state sanctioned killing of the murderer deter others from violent acts? Does the state sanctioned killing of prisoners increase or devalue life? Are the retributive desires of victims (broadly) something we should satisfy or reject?

With the exception of retributive rights, the answers to all these questions point strongly away from state killing of the incarcerated. But even accepting the premise of retributive rights, I do not think there a case for the death penalty. It is costly, it does not deter others, it is imperfectly administered, it sanctions cold blood murder.

Remove retribution from the equation, and there is no reason whatsoever for the death penalty. We are animals and we have animal impulses. Society and rational thought blunt those impulses, but they are still there. I would enter into a blind rage if my spouse was intentionally harmed. That would not be productive. It is not an emotion that a civilized society should encourage, humour or sate.

That Abe stands on retributive rage is a testament to his world view. He deserves our pity even as his anger blinds him to justice.

Anonymous said...

is it not well settled who the hottest asa's and apd's are? rumor is that the hottie apd we all love is in a relationship. only thing now is that we need an update on where the remaining hotties are located in the courthouse.

Anonymous said...

Broward judge charged with puffing pot

A Broward County judge caught up in the Anna Nicole Smith hysteria made the news again Sunday when he was charged with smoking a joint in a Hollywood park, police said.

Police cited Judge Lawrence Korda, 59, while he was sitting on a bench in Stanley Goldman Park, just west of Interstate 95 near Hollywood Boulevard.

Officers patrolling the park said they caught a whiff of cannabis about 2 p.m.

The scent led them to Korda.

In lieu of a physical arrest and an appearence in bond court, Korda was issued a notice to appear in court at a later date. He faces misdemeanor charges for marijuana possession, said Capt. Tony Rode, a police spokesman.

''Judge Korda was not given special treatment because of his status as a circuit court judge,'' Rode said. ``He was provided with a notice to appear. That's exactly what 99 percent of other offenders would have been given for this type of offense.''

Korda has served on the bench since the 1970s and currently presides in family court.

Last month, he dismissed a paternity action brought by one of Anna Nicole Smith's former lovers, ruling that Florida courts had no jurisdiction in the matter.

Korda came under scrutiny last year for insisting that a battered wife seeking a restraining order speak in English instead of her native Spanish.

Korda's remark -- along with comments made by other judges -- spurred representatives of the Cuban, Hispanic, Haitian, Caribbean, Asian-Pacific, black and women's bar associations to seek intervention by Broward Chief Judge Dale Ross. Not long after, Ross required all Broward judges to attend sensitivity training.

Anonymous said...

Sam, who is blinded? He deserves pity because he does not agree with your world view? Get over yourself.

Some of Abe's positions made sense, even if I did not agree with. But driven by anger? Do we always need to insult in order to debate? Grow up.

Anonymous said...

Judge Korda, remember, you have to apply for PTI within 30 days of arraignment, and if Jesus, Mary, and Joseph agree, you can get it.

spicoli said...

Korda??? Hey Bud, let's party! Allllllllllright.

P.S. 99% if weed cases N.O.B. are not resolved by way of NTA.

I think we can safely say the death penalty does not apply here, although an SMU death penalty might happen (which would be unfortunate).

Aloha Judge Korda. Sorry dude.

Anonymous said...

Korda will also have to write a statement admitting his guilt for his PTI application. Mike Satz can use such statement against him if he bounces out of PTI. Korda will need to hire a lawyer experienced in writing those PTI statements, and he'll have to undergo random drug testing and take a drug course to get his nolle prosse-PTI. But he may get really lucky and get a straight nolle prosse or a Dismissed-LOP if the Hollywood cops who gave him the NTA end up in federal prison on racketeering charges now that the Hollywood PD snitch-fest has started.

Anonymous said...

So who's going to run against Korda and say that he is harming our kids by smoking pot in a public park?

Oh I forgot, this is broward...

Anonymous said...

JQC will probally find no fault with Korda.

Sam I Am said:

"But perhaps we KNOW the condemned is guilty. The murder was witnessed by 100 random bystanders. It was caught on 10 video-cameras in high definition with sound.. He confesses: "He shot a man in Sweetwater, just to seem him die." There is no doubt. Great. Can we kill him?"

Powerful well said. I think that catagories should be established before death can be part of trial considerations. What is available.

I do Agree with you on the slam on Rumpole.

Rumpole said...

Slam on Rumpole?s that some new dance I have't heard of?

Anonymous said...

Sam I am said:

"He shot a man in Sweetwater, just to seem him die."


What Sweetwater cop are you talking about?

Is Mayor Maroño going to fire him or promote him to sergeant?

How many times was that cop fired from other departments for excessive use of force before being hired by Sweetwater?

Sam I Am said...

What Sweetwater cop are you talking about? How MANY Sweetwater cops am I talking about.

Is Mayor Maroño going to fire him or promote him to sergeant? It's a precondition to promotion.

How many times was that cop fired from other departments for excessive use of force before being hired by Sweetwater? 0-4. Some are trained by the mayor himself.

Anonymous said...

Sam I am hit the nail on the head, the majority (if not all) of the Sweetwater (bunch of thugs) Police Department is corrupt, sick, demented and rotten!

Anonymous said...

Remember Sweetwater cop Manny Pardo?

Anonymous said...

If there is one one thousandth of a percent of a chance that an innocent man/woman is put to death, wouldn't it be wise, as a civilized nation to abolish the death penalty? Saying that, murder should be non-paroleable. The death penalty should never be about revenge, but justice. There is no justice if an innocent person is given the ultimate penalty and the guilty party is left to live out his/her life in freedom.

Anonymous said...

OH ABE -- there you go again on your high horse pontificating like a stuffed shirt about the irrationality of the death penalty.

In the event of reincarnation, Couey is coming back anyway and if we failed to teach him of his errors in this life he will just do it again.

I say don't turn Couey over to the parents, turn him over to Abe Laeser. I am sure that Abe will figure out what is best for Couey:
(a) Death by a Thousand Slices?
(b) Drawing and Quartering

YEAH ABE -- The ancients had it right!!!!

Anonymous said...

"Those of you that use him as a punching bag are not worthy of the Bar." -- Referring to Abe Laeser


What! Is ABE LAESER the only guy who walks the planter that is above reproach?

Anonymous said...

What happened to the DUI POWER INDEX that included Phil Reizenstein, Jacqueline Woodward and Brian Tannenbaum?

Seems like Rumpole is trying to protect one or all of the above mentioned!

Regardless, all three suck as lawyers and are well known Ticket Lawyers! Yeah, I said it. TICKET LAWYERS!