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Thursday, December 26, 2013

THE SLEDGEHAMMER JUSTICE OF MIN MAN SENTENCES

UPDATE: Miami Herald editorial slams Senator Rubio for freezing Judge Thomas's nomination to the federal bench:


The nomination of Miami-Dade Circuit Judge William Thomas to fill a federal judicial vacancy is illustrative. Mr. Thomas, if confirmed, would become the first openly gay black man to serve on a federal bench. After first recommending him, Sen. Rubio withdrew support, citing concern over two rulings — even though a prosecutor whom the judge ruled against in one case wrote the senator in support of Judge Thomas. Mr. Rubio’s office points out that he has supported some of President Obama’s judicial picks; critics say opposition to Judge Thomas is rooted in anti-gay politics.
As 2016 approaches, the presidential campaign will pick up speed. Given Sen. Rubio’s obvious political appeal, he should be a strong contender for his party’s nomination if he chooses to run, but his political calculus should not require support for an agenda that does not fit the needs of a large, diverse state like Florida.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/12/21/3830328/rightward-shift.html#storylink=cpy



UPDATE: A chance conversation led us to ponder the best books of 2013 that we read and the Greatest American Novels of all time. Regarding the GAN(oat) we quickly picked the top two, which got us working on this list. We will post it over the weekend/next week. One pending controversy,  Hemingway may not make the list. 
What say you? 

Conservative columnist George Will joins the drumbeat of voices against minimum mandatory sentences. Will highlights the great Judge John Gleeson's  (EDNY) criticism of the minimum mandatory sentencing laws in the Washington Post here.
(Santa cap tip to DOM's SDFLA blog.)

Quiet last weeks of the year,  court wise.


35 comments:

FB said...

Shame on you Rumpole for publishing RFB's moronic comments yesterday. I thought he was banned.

Anonymous said...

Some day Rumpole, you will be recognized for your role in repealing min mans. Bless you.

Anonymous said...

I am a staunch conservative. The problem is not minimum mandatory sentencing. Most every state has them and by and large they work well. The problem is when they are used to incarcerate drug offenders. The federal government has no business policing the streets for small time addicts and dope peddlers. Funny. You can scam people for hundreds of thousands of dollars and the FBI or USAO won't touch it because it is beneath their discretionary limits. But sell a few pills or vials of crack to an undercover gendarmes and you can kiss your life goodbye.

Rumpole said...

You're a staunch conservative and believe minimum mandatory sentences work well? Try representing an off duty law enforcement officer who pulled his firearm to protect someone and now is charged with attempted murder under the 10-20-life min man and is facing a min man prison sentence if he goes to trial and loses. And then try dealing with the smug 28 yr old prosector three years out of law school who wants a lengthy prison sentence and has the power that the judge, who has been handling criminal cases for a quarter century does not have because the legislature trusts the 28 yr old prosecutor more. And then tell me they work well except in drug cases.

Anonymous said...

Hemingway's "problem" is that many many misunderstand the letter A in GANOAT to require that the action happen on American soil, instead of just that the voice, the worldview, the spirit of the writing be essentially American. The Sun Also Rises or Farewell to Arms or even For Whom the Bell Tolls couldn't have been written by any but an American, and each should be in the conversation, as should Moby Dick -- which spends only a few short chapters on the mainland. Inevitably Twain wins, though, because Northeastern critics feel some obligation to revere an "American" river they've never laid eyes on.

Im eagerly awaiting your update, though. But let me guess: Huck, Gatsby, and something like Cormac McCarthy

Anonymous said...

rumpole

you are staunchly cool.

im thinking of starting yoga classes. any suggestions on where to begin?

Anonymous said...

and by Great "American" novels are you including South American novels, or only those from the US?

Anonymous said...

You seem to forget that your "28 year old " proecutor is doing what his or her 58 year old boss says.

Rumpole said...

913 am I am guilty as charged of being North American centric in thinking. So I was thinking if just US. Of course 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez would be on any top list. But I don't know enough great so am novelists to make a list. And also great novels like Remains of the Day by Kazuro Ishiguro will not be on list. Hemmingway was an American Novelist so he is eligible. I personally - except for one story- find him unreadable.

Secret Judge said...

Any list of great American novels must include 'Catch 22' by Joseph Heller and of course 'Catcher In The Rye'.

Rumpole said...

accepting nominations. Catch-22. Iconic. Title entered the american lexicon. But a Catch-22: I could never make it through the damn book.

Catcher in the Rye secure on the list- but what position in 1-10?

Rumpole said...

Another GAM I cannot make it though and thus will not be on my list: Moby Dick. Unreadable. Don't even try to argue with me on this.

Anonymous said...

All four of the rabbit books by Updike must be on list

Anonymous said...

Believing I know something about your tastes from reading the blog, I'm betting the Updike Rabbit novels will have a prominent place in your list. I personally think that On the Road, admittedly not the most well-written American novel, has to be high on the list as capturing the American need to set off for a new place, reinvent ourselves, be always in motion, always looking for the next thing.

DS said...

To Kill a Mockingbird has tobe on the list

Anonymous said...

Rumpole: I think this video presentation by Hank Coxe on prison terms for juveniles to be a "must watch" and forward it on.


http://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=5bHQ0l5QldQ&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D5bHQ0l5QldQ%26feature%3Dyoutu.be

Anonymous said...

Catch-22, Moby Dick, and The Sun Also Rises are three of my absolute favorites! If you're stuck, try them as "books on tape" at least for a first go through. Moby Dick in particular has a fantastic narration done by Frank Mueller. And for God's sake Vonnegut needs make the list. Slaughterhouse-5 of course is eponymous but Cat's Cradle was even better. I could go on all day...

Anonymous said...

Great American books and easy to get through: The Great Gatsby, The Pearl, The Old Man and the Sea, and The Red Badge of Courage.

Anonymous said...

Hemingway unreadable? Moby Dick unreadable?

I don't know where to start.

Anonymous said...

No Bonfire Of The Vanities? Shame

Anonymous said...

Huck Finn

Anonymous said...

Edith Wharton, House of Mirth; Agnes Smedley, Daughter of Earth; Harriet Arnow, The Dollmaker

Rumpole said...

I am sorry. NONE of those have a snowball's chance in hell of making a top ten list of greatest American Novels.

Anonymous said...

have you read them?

Loyal Judicial Reader said...

Early John Irving: A Prayer for Owen Meany, the World According to Garp and Cider House Rules.

Rumpole said...

Of course. I am exceptionally well read. Indeed, I am the most well read individual you will ever have the honour of corresponding with. There is a difference between a great novel and a novel that is one of the greatest of all time. There are many great novels, indeed great books. I am a fervent believer that the great books that change your life choose you as much as you choose them. And I will tell you that the greatest books that have changed my life are (mostly) not among the top ten greatest American Novels that I have selected. So while I respect your choices and honor them if they are your favourite novels.
House of Mirth- Lily Bart (?)- the choices she makes. Wonderful novel. Wharton's best. Daughter of Mirth - I've only read once, a long time ago. I recall it was autobiographical in nature for the author. An American Indian woman's youth and coming of age, no?
The Dollmaker- Kentucky or Appalachia, WWII era story of a woman and her family. Three novels with women heroines. Three very good, ,very different novels. None of them top ten of all time.
Do they compare to Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, or SLaughterhouse Five by Vonnegurt or Pale Fire by Nabakov or the Naked and the Dead by Henry Miller? No, not in my opinion. Well maybe House of Mirth compares.

Anyway, that's one blogger's opinion.

Rumpole said...

That should read Daughter of EARTH.

Rumpole said...

John Irving - Widow for one year is his all time best. A fantastic American Novel. Simply perfect. Is in my top ten personally, but I cannot justify putting it in my all time top ten.

Anonymous said...

I take your distinction between great novels and those that change your life. I agree that the Smedley and Arnow books aren't great in your definition; they are merely books that changed my life. I believe House of Mirth is great for the purpose of the first category. Lily Bart's tragic fall doesn't occur against the back-drop of war or whaling; it occurs against the back-drop available to her and to Wharton. It is a characteristically American novel about a woman of youth, strength, beauty and intelligence brought to ruin by her own weaknesses and the rigidities of a patriarchal class system. The language is beautiful, I learn something new every time I read it, Lily's tragic trajectory never fails to engage and horrify me.

Clearly what troubles me is that your list may include no works by women. I don't believe this is because women didn't write great novels. I think it's because those who define the canon tend to be men.

Most people find greatness, in your first meaning, in novels with heroes they identify with, handling conflict of a kind that engages them. That is as true of women as it is of men. It doesn't really matter who writes the book; for example, I believe Henry James' Portrait of a Lady is a great book, for a great many reasons, among them that I can identify with Isabel Archer and her pursuit of an authentic and autonomous life, the mistakes she made in the pursuit, the horror at discovering her mistakes.

Rumpole, if you have a daughter, you will want her to find greatness in art forms that represent and inspire her. You will want her to define the canon.

The Dollmaker is about a woman of real greatness, a tall strong artist (an Appalachian wood sculptor) who ran the family farm, but lost her art and ability to care for her kids when (due to social convention) she followed her husband to the Detroit factory slums during WWII. This is not a book about her husband's valiant contribution to the war effort. It's a book about a true heroine's tragic choice with universal implications.

Deciding what is a great novel isn't like deciding who is a great ballplayer. The latter is based largely on statistics or other reasonably objective criteria. The former is, to a large degree, subjective.

I'm a woman blog reader. I'd like to see my subjectivity represented in your list.

Rumpole said...

You are correct in everything you write. So I ask this- watch my top ten list and then tell me which Novel House of Mirth should supplant? I think I would put House of Mirth in the 25-35 range of 100 greatest American Novels (I have give this some additional thought since last night). But I cannot see it breaking the top ten. Watch and then we shall discuss.

Anonymous said...

I'm very much looking forward to your list and continuing the discussion. Please consider, if you've read it, Portrait of a Lady for top 10 (I like Golden Bowl even better, most people don't). Thanks for keeping an open mind.

Anonymous said...

I second the nomination for "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Anonymous said...

Rumpole, Naked and the Dead us by Normal Mailer not Henry Miller.

Rumpole said...

yes of course. My mistake. I was multitasking, but that is not an excuse. Good catch.

Anonymous said...

No mention of Saul Bellow's The Adventures of Augie March? Bellow's masterpiece must be on the list. Indeed, any list omitting it is amatuer, to say the least.