Greg Abbott’s Pardon Promise Ignores the Shakiness of Daniel Perry’s Self-Defense Claim

“a Texas jury found Army Sgt. Daniel Perry guilty of murdering Garrett Foster, a protester he encountered at a Black Lives Matter demonstration in July 2020. Less than 24 hours after that verdict, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he would pardon Perry if asked.
Abbott’s hasty announcement, which seemed to be driven by conservative complaints that Perry had been unjustly prosecuted for shooting Foster in self-defense, illustrates how political prejudices convert empirical questions into tests of team loyalty. That bipartisan tendency is the antithesis of what jurors are supposed to do when they are confronted by the clashing narratives of a criminal trial.

Abbott took it for granted that Perry’s account of what happened the night he killed Foster was accurate. Texas has “one of the strongest” self-defense laws in the country, the governor wrote on Twitter, and that law “cannot be nullified by a jury or a progressive District Attorney.”

Contrary to the implication, the jurors who convicted Perry did not ignore the state’s self-defense law, which allows someone to use deadly force when he “reasonably believes” it is “immediately necessary” to protect himself against the “use or attempted use of unlawful deadly force.” The jurors simply did not believe the circumstances of Foster’s death met those requirements.”

Jan. 6 defendant fired on deputies ahead of expected arrest, court records show

“A Jan. 6 defendant wanted on misdemeanor charges opened fire at sheriff’s they checked on him ahead of his expected arrest, leading to a lengthy standoff”

Trump appeals verdict finding him liable for sexual assault

“Former President Donald Trump is appealing a jury’s verdict finding him liable for sexually abusing and defaming writer E. Jean Carroll. Trump’s lawyers filed a notice of appeal in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday, two days after the nine-person jury ordered

Ron DeSantis might not be as tough on crime as he says he is

“there’s a problem with DeSantis’s attacks on Democrats’ policies on crime: It’s not clear that crime is lower in Florida than in some of the cities he has criticized. In some Florida cities, the data shows murder rates are significantly higher than in blue cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Boston. Experts say there’s also no evidence to support that some of DeSantis’s signature public safety policies, including doubling down on cash bail, are effective in reducing crime, and other DeSantis crime policies involve considerable trade-offs and uncertainties.
As he preps a potential 2024 presidential run, DeSantis has also eliminated permit requirements to carry a concealed weapon in Florida, where mass shootings have become more common than in any other state except California and where gun deaths are on the rise. The governor signed the law last week, following a recent mass shooting at a school in Tennessee and amid a spate of gun violence in Florida. Given that data suggests spikes in violent crime in recent years were driven by gun violence, DeSantis’s efforts to make guns more easily accessible should be seen as an affront to public safety.

DeSantis’s claims about public safety in his state are based on a report by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that the state’s total crime fell more than 8 percent to a 50-year low in 2021, compared to an estimated 1 percent nationally. However, neither of those figures is reliable, in part because of a shift in how the data was reported that year.

Still, tapping into voters’ fears about crime might be an effective campaign strategy”

Why fear of crime more than crime itself is holding back America’s downtowns

“While crime has risen since the pandemic in most US cities, it’s not spiking in downtowns.”

“Violent crime has long been concentrated in low-income Black and Latino neighborhoods that have also been marked by segregation, discrimination, and disinvestment. But crimes in those areas, Love said, tend to get less media attention than those that occur downtown.”

“And therein lies the problem. People don’t want to go downtown because they’re worried. But the best way to make people feel safe again downtown … is to have more people there. The best way to square that circle, Grabar suggests, is that downtowns should try and attract residents instead. That means converting offices to residences and building new housing.”

The new revelations — and key questions — in the Trump indictment

“Manhattan prosecutors allege that Trump concealed hush money payments by falsely labeling related transactions as legal expenses and by arranging for a tabloid publisher to bottle up the story of a woman who said she had a sexual relationship with Trump.

In doing so, the prosecutors say, Trump repeatedly violated a New York corporate record-keeping law and agreed to break campaign finance laws.”

“The charge at the heart of the case — falsifying business records — can amount to only a misdemeanor, but it becomes a felony if the defendant falsified the records to obscure a separate crime.
The most obvious candidate for that aggravating element is the admission from Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, that he arranged a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels in consultation with Trump and to aid Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

“The defendant Donald J. Trump repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal criminal conduct that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election,” the statement of facts says.

“The participants [in the scheme] violated election laws,” the statement continues, though it does not explicitly cite which ones. The statement also mentions Cohen’s guilty plea in 2018 to two federal campaign finance crimes. And in a press release, Bragg said Trump and others sought to conceal “attempts to violate state and federal election laws.”

The references to federal election violations are virtually certain to be the focus of pre-trial motions from Trump’s attorneys, who have contended publicly that this state-law offense cannot be piggybacked on a federal-law crime.

If defense attorneys prevail on such motions, it would not necessarily wipe out the criminal case against Trump. Instead, the case could remain as 34 misdemeanor charges. That would amount to a legal, public relations and political victory for Trump.

Such a result would further diminish the chances of Trump being jailed if found guilty. The maximum sentence on a second-degree falsifying business records charge is up to one year in prison on each count. A downgrading of the case to a misdemeanor might also aid Trump’s efforts to delay a trial.”

“For Trump to be convicted of falsifying business records, the records at issue have to be, well, business records.

The New York law at issue requires that the falsification involve the records of “an enterprise,” and each count of the indictment claims that Trump falsified records “kept and maintained by the Trump Organization.”

The facts are more complicated. It’s true that the checks sent to Cohen, which labeled the payments as legal expenses, were issued by employees working for Trump’s business empire. But they were not charged to Trump’s businesses. Instead, the payments were made from one of Trump’s personal accounts or from a Trump family trust.

The key question, and one that is sure to feature in efforts by Trump’s lawyers to derail the case, is whether documents that happened to pass through the Trump Organization or handled by Trump Organization personnel are automatically classified as business records, even if the source of the funds was Trump’s personal accounts.”

“Legal experts said they expect Trump’s lawyers to argue to the judge and, if necessary, a jury that wholly personal expenses that are simply handled by an accountant or other clerical personnel don’t become the “records of an enterprise” just by virtue of that process.”

Tough-on-Crime Cash Bail Initiatives Win in Ohio and Alabama

“Ohio’s new constitutional amendment will allow judges to set a dollar amount commensurate with a person’s criminal record, the seriousness of their alleged crime, and their odds of appearing at court following pretrial release. The Ohio Senate ushered the initiative forward in direct response to a ruling from the state’s highest court, which said in early January that bail could only be used to ensure a defendant’s presence at trial—the constitutionally prescribed reason for its use.

In Alabama, voters were tasked with deciding if the state should be able to deny bail for certain offenses if the government can convince a judge that the defendant poses a threat to the community or cannot be trusted to return to court. Those offenses include murder; first-degree kidnapping, rape, and sodomy; sexual torture; first-degree domestic violence, human trafficking, burglary, arson, and robbery; terrorism; and child abuse.”

“the debate has become increasingly politicized. Many reformers say that a dangerousness standard is racist, while law-and-order politicians are likely to present any bail reform as a driver of violent crime.
The answer is more nuanced than either major political party would want their base to believe.”

Don’t Believe the People Blaming Crime on Defunded Police

“Of the 109 areas examined, 49 raised law enforcement funding by more than 10 percent and 91 raised it by at least 2 percent. Only 8 places cut funding to law enforcement by more than 2 percent.
Nonetheless, politicians, pundits, and police persist in spreading the politically convenient myth that law enforcement agencies have been massively defunded. “Despite what the public record shows, an analysis of broadcast transcripts reveals that candidates, law enforcement leaders and television hosts discussed the impact of ‘defunding the police’ more than 10,000 times the last two years and the mentions aren’t subsiding this campaign season,” ABC found.

Take scandal plagued Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. He claims that crime is up because “defunding has consequences.” Meanwhile, “his agency’s budget is up more than $250 million,” according to ABC. In Los Angeles County, the police budget was up to $3.6 billion in 2021–2022, from $3.3 billion in 2018–2019.”