A 25-Year Prison Sentence for Beating Up a Dog Is Not Justice

“In early February 2019, a passerby filmed Fonseca as he punched his dog on his porch. He kicked and choked him and hit him with a piece of wood. The video was shared with Animal Care Services (ACS) of San Antonio, which questioned Fonseca, who told them that that was his way of disciplining Buddy. The dog was removed from Fonseca’s home, aided to a full recovery, and placed with a new family that presumably has a better handle on obedience training.

Fonseca, meanwhile, will spend the next 25 years in prison. While I love dogs as much as the next person, this is not justice. Fonseca’s sentence for beating up his pet—which was his property under Texas law—grossly exceeds most punishments Texas dispenses for those convicted of assaulting a human being. Defendants found guilty of an assault causing physical harm face up to a year in prison. When the alleged victim is a government official, security officer, emergency services worker, family member, or date, that punishment may be anywhere from two to 10 years behind bars. And when someone brandishes a deadly weapon and causes serious physical harm, they may land behind bars for anywhere from two to 20 years.

The city of San Antonio boasted about forcing taxpayers to house Fonseca in a steel cage for the next 25 years—for $22,751 annually, well over half a million dollars total—for losing his temper and beating an animal.”

“So why is Fonseca, 56, getting what amounts to a life sentence for hurting his dog? While Norwood’s statement suggests this is about sending a message to other dog punchers, the government says Fonseca had felony priors for crimes of retaliation and drug possession.

It’s difficult to argue with a straight face that a years-old drug possession conviction should be used to increase his sentence for hurting Buddy. Fonseca’s consumption habits may harm himself, but invoking that offense at sentencing is not about keeping San Antonio safe. It is about securing a sentence that would otherwise be impermissible under the law. Access to that kind of leverage is one of the primary reasons law enforcement groups oppose ending the war on drugs.

And while the same cannot be said for “crimes of retaliation,” in which people threaten government workers, Fonseca had already paid his debt to society for that, just as he had for possessing drugs. It’s certainly reasonable to consider a criminal defendant’s history at sentencing—someone who assaults people over and over again, for example, should not receive the same sentence each time.

But even if you find animal cruelty to be abhorrent, as I do, a decades-long prison term is not the appropriate response to all objectionable behavior—something we often forget in the context of the U.S. system, which is utterly addicted to lengthy prison terms. Desensitized bystanders may view Fonseca’s punishment as normal. It shouldn’t be.”

Republicans who blast FBI’s Trump search are prepping to snag Joe in a Hunter Biden probe

“These days, Republicans are making no secret of their plans to use a Hunter Biden inquiry next year as a platform to go after his father — after years of brushing off conflicts of interest within Trump’s family. No evidence has emerged to show that the business dealings of Hunter Biden, who’s faced a years-long federal investigation, affected his father’s decisions as president.

GOP lawmakers are pushing ahead anyway, planning a sprawling probe that will reach into the ethics of Hunter Biden’s artwork sales and other business deals, as well as policy decisions by the Biden administration.”

San Francisco Fines Businesses for Getting Vandalized

“Getting your business vandalized sounds like punishment enough. For some San Francisco business owners, it’s just the beginning of their troubles.

A steady stream of restaurateurs and retailers have been complaining about the city’s practice of issuing them fines for not being quick enough to remove chronic graffiti being applied to their shopfronts and street cafes.”

The warrant authorizing the FBI search of Trump’s home is unsealed — and it’s alarming

“The documents indicate the warrant was issued to investigate potential violations of the Espionage Act. That act states, among other things, that an official entrusted with sensitive or classified information who allows it to be taken away from its secure location through “gross negligence” or who knows it’s been removed from safety and doesn’t tell federal officials can be fined or imprisoned for up to 10 years. They also suggest an inquiry into possible improper removal or destruction of federal records, and obstruction of a federal investigation.

The receipt suggests 11 sets of documents were recovered, including items related to French President Emmanuel Macron, handwritten notes, photos, and top-secret materials.”

Enforcing Abortion Bans Is Much Harder Than Winning in Court

“I don’t know exactly what an inquisition into my wife’s miscarriages would have looked like. But I do know that it would have done nothing to ease her anguish. Abortion opponents won their victory in the Supreme Court, and now it’s on them to avoid making difficult situations much worse.”

The Founders Loved Jury Trials. Almost No One Gets One Anymore.

“What is the Sixth Amendment?

You wouldn’t be blamed for having to consult Google to answer that question. The Founders are rolling in their graves anyway.

It’s the right to a trial by jury, and it’s one that society has all but disposed of—despite the Framers’ insistence that it be included in the Bill of Rights as one of the primary bulwarks against government tyranny.

They didn’t exactly mince words. “Representative government and trial by jury are the heart and lungs of liberty,” wrote John Adams. “Without them we have no fortification against being ridden like horses, fleeced like sheep, worked like cattle, and fed and clothed like swine and hogs.”

One wonders what animalistic metaphors Adams would conjure today if he could see the U.S. criminal justice system in motion: one in which about 97 percent of trials are resolved without juries, devoid of the sacrosanct lifeblood that keeps human liberty from death by suffocation.

That tool has been supplanted by the plea bargain. In popular culture, that’s widely seen as advantageous to defendants. In reality, it’s been disastrous. It epitomizes government coercion. It epitomizes what the Founders warned against.”

“The bulk of a prosecutor’s job is not spent in the hallowed halls of a courtroom participating in a high-stakes battle over someone’s liberty, all while journalists wait in the wings to capture the victor’s speech on marble steps. It’s spent in backrooms, with district attorneys “charge-stacking,” or filing multiple criminal charges against someone for the same offense, calculating a grisly potential prison sentence, and offering to make some of that go away—so long as the defendant in question does not exercise his or her constitutional right to a trial by jury.

If they refuse, then they will risk a substantially higher time behind bars, not because a prosecutor views it as necessary for public safety but because he or she dared to inconvenience them with a trial. After all, what the defendant is accused of didn’t change. But trials are expensive. And the government can never be sure when it will win, so better to avoid them where possible.

That latter part—the uncertainty—is supposed to be the point. It’s true that many criminal defendants are guilty. It’s also true that some are innocent and have been forced to pay with their liberty anyway. A person who is not guilty likely wants to go to trial. But why risk a decade behind bars for insisting on your Sixth Amendment right when you could be out in two or three?”

LAPD’s Militarized Response to Peaceful Abortion Protests Makes the Case for Police Reform—Again

“Armed with riot gear and brandishing rubber-bullet guns, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) mobilized rapidly in response to pro-abortion protests near the city’s federal courthouse from June 24–27. Activists and journalists claim excessive use of physical force was rampant, with officers using batons against peaceful protesters.

The LAPD has maintained that it did not use force against peaceful protesters. “The vast majority of those involved [in pro-abortion protests] were peaceful and law abiding, however, a much smaller group of individuals took to the streets with the intention of creating chaos and destruction,” the LAPD said in a June 27 statement. “The Los Angeles Police Department has the distinction of facilitating First Amendment Rights for all Angelinos. Equally the Department will enforce the law when individuals engage in violence,” the statement continued.

While there were violent actors present at the protests, including one man who attacked police with a torch, videos shared online appear to show police using force against nonviolent protesters, including those trying to deescalate the situation. In one clip that received particular attention on social media, LAPD officers seemingly shoved Full House actress Jodie Sweetin to the pavement as she tried to defuse a confrontation between police and protesters on a Los Angeles freeway.”