You Betcha I'm a Proud Army Mom

Ramblings of an Army mom and probably some rants about the world at large. These are my ramblings and rants and no one else's. Just so you know...

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

We Need Judge Isaac Parker

Saddam Testifies, but Judge Cuts Him Off
By BASSEM MROUE, Associated Press Writer

"BAGHDAD, Iraq - Saddam Hussein testified Wednesday for the first time at his trial, insisting he was Iraq's leader and praising the insurgency, prompting the chief judge to close the courtroom to the public because he said Saddam was making political speeches.

The deposed president, wearing a black suit and standing before the chief judge while reading his remarks, addressed the Iraqi people about the bloody wave of sectarian violence that has rocked the country since the bombing of a major Shiite shrine last month.

"What pains me most is what I heard recently about something that aims to harm our people," Saddam said. "My conscience tells me that the great people of Iraq have nothing to do with these acts."

Chief judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman interrupted Saddam, saying he was not allowed to give political speeches in the court."

(emphasis mine)

Continue the story...

Why is he allowed to continue talking? How about the Judge ordering the Defense to "control your client"?

Judge in Moussaoui Case Imposes Sanctions
By MATTHEW BARAKAT, Associated Press Writer

"ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Faced with a major setback in their death penalty case against a confessed al-Qaida conspirator, prosecutors are considering whether to appeal a judge's decision to bar witnesses who were improperly coached by a government lawyer.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema delayed the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui until Monday to give prosecutors a chance to sort out their options.

Brinkema on Tuesday excluded roughly half of the government's key witnesses from taking the stand after determining their testimony may have been tainted.

Justice Department spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos called the decision disappointing. Without addressing the likelihood of overturning Brinkema's ruling, she stressed that prosecutors have already obtained a guilty plea from Moussaoui and at a minimum he will be imprisoned for life without possibility of release.

Brinkema's ruling rejected a defense request for more serious sanctions _ dismissal of the government's entire death-penalty case."

"Whether the witnesses have actually been tainted or not is almost impossible to tell," Brinkema said. "There are a number of errors so serious that that portion of the government's case has been seriously eroded."

(emphasis mine)

Continue the story...

Good Lord! He's already pleaded guilty! This is a sentencing trial of a guilty person and they can't even get that right.

Judge Isaac Parker 1838-1896

Replacing Judge William Story, whose tenure had been marred by corruption, Parker arrived in Fort Smith on May 4, 1875. At the age of 36, Judge Parker was the youngest Federal judge in the West. Holding court for the first time on May 10, 1875, eight men were found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. Judge Parker held court six days a week, often up to ten hours each day and tried 91 defendants in his first eight weeks on the bench. In that first summer, eighteen persons came before him charged with murder and 15 were convicted. Eight of them were sentenced to die on the gallows on September 3, 1875. However, only six would be executed as one was killed trying to escape and a second had his sentence commuted to life in prison because of his youth.

When the fateful day of September 3, 1875 arrived the hanging became an extraordinary media event when reporters from Little Rock, St. Louis and Kansas City flocked to the city. Other newspapermen traveled far from eastern and northern cities to catch the “scoop.” Beginning a week before the hanging, the city began to fill with strangers from all over the country, anxious to view the hangings. On the day they were to be condemned more than 5,000 people watched as the six men were marched from the jail to the gallows...

...Though the hangings were an indication that the once corrupt court was functioning again, it earned Isaac Parker the nickname of “The Hanging Judge.”

The Fort Smith Independent was the first newspaper to report the event on September 3, 1875 with the large column heading reading: "Execution Day!!" Other newspapers around the country reported the event a day later. These press reports shocked people throughout the nation. "Cool Destruction of Six Human Lives by Legal Process" screamed the headlines.

Soon Parker's critics dubbed him the "Hanging Judge" and called his court the "Court of the Damned." However, most of Parker's critics didn’t live in the frontier and did not understand the ethics (or lack thereof) of the untamed Indian Territory. Most of the local people approved of Parker's judgments, feeling like the utter viciousness of the crimes merited the sentences imposed. From these first 6 hangings in 1875, there would be 73 more until his death in 1896.

Though Parker was hard on killers and rapists, he was also a fair man. He occasionally granted retrials that sometimes resulted in acquittals or reduced sentences. Though Parker actually favored the abolition of the death penalty, he strictly adhered to the letter of the law. At one time he said, "in the uncertainty of punishment following crime, lies the weakness of our halting justice." However, Parker reserved most of his sympathy for the crime victims and is now seen as one of first advocates of victim's rights.

Parker's jurisdiction began to shrink as more courts were given authority over parts of Indian Territory. The restrictions of the court's once vast jurisdiction were sometimes a source of frustration to Parker, but what bothered him the most were the Supreme Court reversals of capital crimes tried in Fort Smith. Fully two-thirds of the cases appealed to the higher court were reversed and sent back to Fort Smith for new trials. In 1894 the judge gained national attention in a dispute with the Supreme Court over the case of Lafayette Hudson.

In 1895 a new Courts Act was passed which would remove the last remaining Indian Territory jurisdiction effective September 1, 1896. Following the escape attempt of Cherokee Bill in the summer of 1895, which resulted in the death of a jail guard, Judge Parker again came into conflict with his superior when he blamed the Justice Department and the Supreme court for the incident. Cherokee Bill was eventually hanged in Fort Smith on March 17, 1896. But the debate was not yet over and a very public argument was carried on between Judge Parker and the Assistant Attorney General.

(Emphasis mine)

Seems to me that not much has changed in the past 131 years in the media or the courts. Except that Judge Isaac Parker is unfortunetly not with us anymore.