Why We Need to Do Away With Mandatory Minimums

Law & Philosophy

I first became aware of mandatory minimums when interning for a federal judge after my first semester of law school. Perhaps the most important thing I learned was about mandatory minimums. A case was before the court where someone had made a bad decision, sold some drugs, and was set to go away for a very long time. The judge explained to me that he was about to send this man, father of four children, to prison for nearly two decades–but that the decision was not his. I was taken aback and thought to myself “But you’re the judge, what do you mean?” He saw my confusion and remarked: “Mandatory minimums, gotta love them.”

Mandatory minimums are established by statute and require an offender to be sentenced to a certain amount of years (decided by statute) for an offense–no matter what. The idea grew steam when the Boggs Act of…

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Tale of Two Cases: Supreme Court Rules For Officer In Texas Shooting As Two Officers Are Arrested In Lousiana Shooting


Derrick+Stafford+and+Norris+Greenhouse+Jr.The Supreme Court has reversed the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in a police shooting case where a police officer who fired six times at the car of a fleeing arrestee. The Court found that the officer was entitled to qualified immunity in a civil suit. The ruling comes as prosecutors filed charges against two Louisiana officers in the Fifth Circuit in the shooting death of a 6-year-old autistic boy. Thirty-two-year-old Derrick Stafford of Mansura and 23-year-oldNorris Greenhouse Jr., of Marksville each is charged with second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder. Bond has been set at $1 million for each officer. The father has not been told that his son was killed.

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Chapter 34 / What if Bail Didn’t Exist?


One of my favorite movies is “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  It’s Christmas Eve and George Bailey’s life is in turmoil and he’s depressed.  George is standing on a bridge looking down contemplating his death by jumping into the cold water. Clarence the angel-in-training listens to George wishing he had never been born and gives him the gift he requested…”a chance to see what the world would be like if he never existed.” George goes back to town and no one recognizes him because he never existed. All the good things he did to help his family, friends, co-workers and town never happened. His wife and children didn’t exist because George never existed. His little town known as Bedford Falls was in chaos. Imagine if we no longer had bail in California?  If bail no longer existed in California what would happen when someone is arrested for committing a crime? Law enforcement…

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Hold the Gate 3… A visit to Death Row.


As I walk out of my apartment at 03:30 in order to make the 6 hour drive up to a prison half way across the State to see a client, I pass nighttime revellers making their way into the take away joints, and wonder why I choose to drive a 12 hour round trip to spend 2 hours with a client when I could have spent the night in a bar and now be going home to bed. The answer is that my client is facing the death penalty and has not had a single visitor other than me for the past 4 years. His parents have died and his sister and her children decided to move out of State due to the death threats they received. He has been granted a resentencing hearing, this is his one chance of not having to go back to Death Row.

I’ve seen…

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Raiders Linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong Reportedly Under Criminal Investigation For Taunting Police Dog


Ray-Ray_ArmstrongUnknown-1Raiders Linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong is reportedly under criminal investigation for taunting of a police K-9 as he ran out on to the field for the game against the Steelers at Heinz Field. It is a crime in Pennsylvania to taunt a K-9. As many of you know, I am pretty over-the-top dog lover but I seriously question the need to criminalize such an encounter in the super charged atmosphere of a football game. Once again, I fail to see why such matters cannot be handled with a simple reprimand and an apology rather than criminalize thoughtless or obnoxious behavior.

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British Columbia Man Stands Trial For The Crime Of Criticizing Jews On His Blog


nicubunu_open_mouthimages3We have been discussing the alarming erosion of free speech in Canada in the last few years — part of a trend in the West. Those concerns have been rekindled by the trial of Roy Arthur Topham, who was charged with promoting hatred against Jewish people through his website RadicalPress.com. He was arrested by the RCMP Hate Crimes Unit in 2012.

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