Friday, July 16, 2010

NDAA Summer Meeting, Napa, CA

The National District Attorneys Association summer conference in Napa,
California featured a great speech by former Supreme Court Justice

Sandra Day O'Connor, who told us that the only job she could get as a
Stanford Law grad back in the day was at the DA's Office in San Mateo.


I was stunned to receive the "Home Run Hitters Award" in recognition for 
my work on the Houser (Guzek) case. (I think we should  start calling the
cases by the names of the VICTIMS not the killers.) That's  a customized
genuine Louisville slugger bat with my name engraved on it. 



with Chris Chiles, NDAA President and DA of Cabell County (Huntington), WV

The award is the brainchild of Fayette Commonwealth (Lexington, KY) DA Ray Larson 
and is given at no regular interval. As co-chair of NDAA's Media
Committee I have advocated that it be given -
- as it almost always is -- to
non-elected working prosecutors, so I was very surprised and moved

Sunday, July 4, 2010

July 4

Considering she is 234 years old today and accounting for all the wrinkles
and scars, the United States of America is looking pretty good for her age.

On the wall of my office I have a framed copy of what is called the
Gadsden flag," one of the original flags of the American Republic. It
displays a coiled rattlesnake on a yellow field with the words "Don't Tread
on Me" below the snake. The flag's history -- like all American history -- is
fascinating and complex.

Over the last two centuries-plus, different groups have used the Gadsden
flag; at the moment the Tea Party Movement has tried to appropriate it.
Well, like so many icons and concepts of American liberty and freedom, it
doesn't belong to them. It belongs to us, like the other tenets of the
Constitution which expresses reserves in the 9th Amendment --
that rights not otherwise enumerated to the government belong to . . .
the people.

I must confess that I get profoundly depressed by the general lack of
knowledge about the Constitution, American history, and the reason for
the symbolism that is laced through our popular culture -- the reciting of
the Pledge of Allegiance at public meetings or the singing of the National
Anthem at sporting events. Because, like words, symbols matter. A lot.

The history behind Independence Day is so radical, even today, that it
bears examination and reflection. Much of my thoughts were triggered by
the receipt of an email from Professor John Barrett, a law professor at
John's University
in New York and the biographer to someone who is my
personal legal hero. Often called "the most important American no-one
has ever heard of,"
Robert Jackson was  friend and Attorney General to
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Justice on the Supreme Court and, most
famously, Chief Prosecutor at the
Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal. On July
4, 1941, then-Attorney General Jackson (who had just been nominated to
the Supreme Court) gave a speech. It was scheduled for the steps of the

Washington Monument, but the weather turned bad and was instead
broadcast nationally from a radio studio later that day.

Since context is just about
everything, it's important to remember that this
was about two years after the
Nazi invasion of Poland and then Europe,
and German efforts to bomb England into surrender. There was a great
deal of anti-war sentiment in the United States, fueled in large part by the
still-fresh memory of the terrible toll of what was then called "
The Great
" but, even more, a belief that the United States should just keep its
nose out of what was happening in Europe.

Jackson was having none of that. (Keep in mind he was about to be voted
on as a nominee to the US Supreme Court, just as
Elena Kagan is right
now.) Imagine a Supreme Court nominee in the last 30 years pleading
with America to remember that: "The Declaration of Independence speaks
strong doctrine in plain words. It is the master indictment of oppression.
The fervor of its denunciation haunts and challenges dictators everywhere
and in every field of life."

Jackson goes on to challenge the Congressmen who don't want to face
Nazi aggression: "One fact emerges clear above all others.  We Americans
cannot cease to be the kind of people we are, we cannot cease to live the
kind of life we live.  We are not the kind of people the dictators will ever
want in the world.  They will never have any use for our kind of life, nor we
for theirs."

So, for America's birthday it is all well and good to have parades and
barbecues, and fireworks that make our pets hide under the bed. But let's
remember what this is all about: that government is for, by, and of the
people. Those of us in the government have one boss -- you, the people.

And exactly 184 years ago today, which was the 50th birthday of America
(1826), two of the greatest Americans who helped make July 4th what it is
died. Thomas Jefferson at his home in Montecello, Virginia, and his long-
time friend and adversary John Adams, at his home in Quincy,
Massachusetts, whose last words were, "It is a good day, a great day.  
Jefferson survives."

And today, if we remember, if we learn to tell others the meaning of
American liberty, independence and justice, they survive too.

Let's not forget about the crime

In advocating for inmates, 
let’s not forget about the crime
By Joshua Marquis
Appeared in print: Sunday, Jul 4, 2010

The family members of criminals often pay a greater price than the people
who molested, stole, assaulted or even murdered. They don’t deserve to
be punished, but it is a classic line that the judge or prosecutor should go
easier on the criminal because of how it might affect their family.

Bob Welch’s June 27 article (“Hard time”) paints Citizens United for
Rehabilitation of Errants as a group of isolated outcasts with little
sympathy and less support.

What strikes me is the plethora of groups like CURE. They include the
extremely well-funded Partnership for Safety and Justice, Families Against
Mandatory Minimums, Better People (which launched state Sen. Chip
Shields’ political career as an advocate for inmates and their families), and
Sponsors Inc. of Eugene, which has been around a very long time.

I don’t begrudge these organizations, but to claim that they are shivering
on a metaphorical ice floe is not accurate. And, unlike the few victims’
support groups — including Crime Victims United — these groups are well-
funded by deep pockets such as George Soro’s Open Society Institute. By
contrast, the victims’ groups operate on a wing and a prayer.

Welch points out that, “Among other things, the Oregon chapter
works with the Oregon Department of Corrections on intake and
release orientation.” The official position of the DOC is to do
everything possible to help inmates’ families and to assist in the
eventual transition of most inmates back into society. Otherwise,
unless the inmate is doing life without parole — a sentence that can
be imposed only for aggravated murder — he will walk among us
again, probably sooner rather than later. And remember: The
Legislature increased earned time up to 30 percent in the last

This paragraph by Welch hit me the hardest:

“They talk about the logistics of visiting a family member in a
correctional facility. The perceived unfairness of Measure 11 — the
voter-approved law that requires minimum mandatory sentences for
certain felonies ... As the meeting continues, nobody asks what
crime someone’s relative has committed; the emphasis is on now,
not then. Getting by in the present, not digging up the past. But
about a third are connected in some way to someone incarcerated
for sex offenses, and the bulk of the rest have loved ones serving
time for armed robbery or assault. One is related to a convicted

I can understand the group not wanting to ruminate on the terrible
crimes committed by family members, but that is like having an AA
meeting without ever mentioning booze.

The biggest objection to Measure 11 usually comes from middle-
class families who are outraged at the penalties for their son, who
just had this “one incident with some 11-year-old who looked 18,”
or their daughter, who just did “something stupid” when she
clubbed an 82-year-old woman over the head with a wrench,
doused her in pepper spray, tied her up, threw her in a bathtub and
sprayed her with a fire extinguisher, then ransacked the house and
stole her car. “Suddenly, she found herself in prison,” Welch wrote.

Measure 11 doesn’t apply to drug dealers or burglars, car thieves or
even those convicted of most forms of child abuse (unless it is
sexual). And if the felony is not violent but what is known as a Class
C felony (car theft, drug possession, etc.), the offender can have
her entire record wiped clean three years after conviction, if she
stays out of trouble.

Oregon incarcerates at a rate less than 60 percent of other states.
Our sentences are typically much shorter. Oregon’s violent crime is
down a lot — in part due to Measure 11, in part due to other factors.

My late father, University of Oregon professor Lucian Marquis, liked
to quote Italian writer Ignazio Silone: “Never make fun of a man in
jail.” He was right, of course. But let’s not lose sight of why the man
is there.

Joshua Marquis worked for 11 years in the Lane County district
attorney’s office, for two years in Eugene as a criminal defense
attorney and for the past 17 years as district attorney in Clatsop