March 7, 2010 |
According to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a prisoner who was slammed to a concrete floor and punched and kicked by a guard after asking for a grievance form -- but suffered neither serious nor permanent harm -- has no claim that his constitutional rights were violated. Thomas objected when the high court, in a little-noted recent opinion, said this unprovoked and malicious assault by a North Carolina prison guard amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. The court's decision came a few days after Thomas' now-famous former law clerk John C. Yoo was charged with flawed reasoning, but not professional misconduct, as a Justice Department lawyer when he applied much the same view toward the treatment of Al Qaeda prisoners.
February 14, 2010
During a visit to the Tehran military courthouse one day last fall, Hossein and Hamid spotted the doctor. Memories from their five days at Kahrizak prison came flooding back. Prisoners seeking help were handed a few aspirin and told to go away. When they asked for bandages, the doctor struck some lightly with a club. One inmate had been beaten so badly on his feet that his toes were swollen and infected and he couldn't walk properly. He arranged for an appointment with the doctor, who told him, "Get lost before I beat you up," according to Hossein, who said he didn't even bother asking for help for his own injuries.
January 30, 2010 |
In a trial that never became the referendum on abortion that some abortion foes wanted, Scott Roeder, a 51-year-old airport shuttle driver, was convicted Friday of murdering George Tiller, one the nation's few physicians who performed late-term abortions. When he was slain in the vestibule of his church last May 31, Tiller became the eighth doctor since 1993 to be killed by antiabortion extremists. In June, his family announced that his clinic would close permanently. The jury of seven men and five women deliberated for only 37 minutes before finding Roeder guilty of premeditated murder.
January 13, 2010 |
A group of dangerous sex criminals who took their case before the Supreme Court on Tuesday had one clear champion: Justice Antonin Scalia. A staunch conservative, he has not developed new sympathy for criminals. Instead, the issue before the court was whether the Constitution gave the federal government the power to lock up offenders after they had served their prison terms. Scalia said protecting the public against sex criminals was a matter for the states, their police and their prisons.
January 6, 2010 |
With a wide war on terrorism still being fought, an appellate court said Tuesday that Guantanamo Bay prison detainees had few legal rights, so long as the government could show they fought for or actively supported the Taliban or Al Qaeda. A three-judge panel of the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the government's broad power to hold indefinitely suspected former Taliban fighters and their supporters who were captured abroad and sent to the U.S. military prison in Cuba.
December 21, 2009 |
President Obama began the year with a pledge to close the Guantanamo prison, and to restore due process and the core constitutional values that he said "made this country great." But his administration has set out a multi-pronged legal policy for the remaining Guantanamo prisoners that bears a striking similarity to that of the final year of George W. Bush's presidency. Some detainees could be held indefinitely without being charged, if they're deemed impossible to prosecute but too dangerous to release.