Debates Forum

Debates Forum

  1. Subscriberno1marauder
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    17 Jun '19 12:18
    @sh76 said
    ===Brendt Christiansen has a team of lawyers, who have been representing him zealously.
    Can Sh76 or No1Marauder explain why his (presumably competent) lawyers
    have failed to stop this case from being tried in federal court?===

    I'm no expert in the case, but in general, federal overreach based on very tenuous legal arguments has been allowed by the courts. Federal crimes l ...[text shortened]... rtyr for "states' rights"?===

    I don't think so. It's too subtle an issue to become a cause celeb.
    There's US v. Lopez.
  2. Joined
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    17 Jun '19 13:481 edit
    @shavixmir said
    No mattter how the judgement falls, I will oppose the death penalty.

    Nothing but bad down that route.
    Spoken as a true brainwashed individual.

    The only death penalty you support is for the truly innocent.
  3. Standard memberDeepThought
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    17 Jun '19 14:08
    @duchess64 said
    "... so the only evidence the jury has is the audiotape."
    --DeepThought

    I don't know if that's the case. There could be DNA evidence even in the absence of a dead body.
    Given that he is alleged to have decapitated her and dismembered the body, even with the decapitation post-mortem, there is likely to be plenty of her DNA at his appartment.
  4. Standard membersh76
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    17 Jun '19 14:121 edit
    @no1marauder said
    There's US v. Lopez.
    Yes, but the common denominator or Morrisson, Lopez and Sebelius (where SCOTUS has declined to extend the commerce clause) seems to be that they're all cases in which the underlying issue is not serious criminality (Lopez was gun possession, Morrisson was about a civil cause of action and Sebelius of course about health insurance).

    Where serious criminality is involved, I haven't seen the courts limiting the scope federal power in any meaningful way.

    In Perez v. United States, 402 U.S. 146 (1971) (and in a line of similar cases), SCOTUS upheld the application of federal racketeering charges where the underlying acts had only very tenuous connections to commerce. In Gonzales v. Raich, the Court upheld Congressional prohibitions on marijuana growth and use that is entirely intrastate with no means or instrumentalities of interstate commerce used.

    Lopez notwithstanding, there's been very little in the way of commerce-based limits on federal criminal law.
  5. Standard memberDeepThought
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    17 Jun '19 14:18
    @duchess64 said
    https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/breaking/ct-brendt-christensen-yingying-zhang-trial-20190614-story.html

    "Jurors listen to secretly recorded audio describing killing of Chinese scholar at U. of I.: ‘She was valiant’ "

    "Jurors in a federal death-penalty trial heard secretly recorded audio Friday in
    which a former University of Illinois doctoral student [Brendt Chr ...[text shortened]... he did kill Zhang, though they dispute some details from prosecutors
    about how and why he did it."
    It's a bit of an odd thing to boast to one's girlfriend about. This also raises another interesting question - why was the FBI, or whichever law enforcement agency, taping him. This implies more evidence, possibly the counsellors you referred to in your earlier post concerning the family's civil case reported their concerns.
  6. Subscriberno1marauder
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    17 Jun '19 15:31
    @sh76 said
    Yes, but the common denominator or Morrisson, Lopez and Sebelius (where SCOTUS has declined to extend the commerce clause) seems to be that they're all cases in which the underlying issue is not serious criminality (Lopez was gun possession, Morrisson was about a civil cause of action and Sebelius of course about health insurance).

    Where serious criminality is involved, I hav ...[text shortened]... twithstanding, there's been very little in the way of commerce-based limits on federal criminal law.
    Possessing a gun in a school seems like it could be considered "serious criminality" to me.

    Perez concerned loansharking which is at least an economic activity that might affect interstate commerce. Gonzales, following Wickard v. Filburn stated:
    Wickard thus establishes that Congress can regulate purely intrastate activity that is not itself “commercial,” in that it is not produced for sale, if it concludes that failure to regulate that class of activity would undercut the regulation of the interstate market in that commodity." https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/545/1/#tab-opinion-1961871

    I'm not seeing any remotely plausible nexus between this application of a kidnapping statute and regulation of interstate commerce. This is obviously a case where the Feds took it because there was pressure for a death penalty result precluded under the laws of Illinois. I do not know whether defendant's lawyers here pressed that jurisdictional objection or not (I believe they are public defenders and the quality and resources of PDs vary widely) but I think it isn't easily met though trial court judges are certainly usually unwilling to dismiss DP cases on pretrial motions.
  7. Subscriberno1marauder
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    17 Jun '19 17:38
    The defense did move to dismiss the charges on lack of Federal jurisdiction grounds: https://foxillinois.com/news/local/justice-for-yingying-attorneys-argue-death-penalty-jurisdiction
  8. Zugzwang
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    17 Jun '19 17:46
    @no1marauder said
    The defense did move to dismiss the charges on lack of Federal jurisdiction grounds: https://foxillinois.com/news/local/justice-for-yingying-attorneys-argue-death-penalty-jurisdiction
    Can No1Marauder explain why the court(s) ruled against Brendt Christiansen's defense?
  9. Subscriberno1marauder
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    17 Jun '19 17:52
    @duchess64 said
    Can No1Marauder explain why the court(s) ruled against Brendt Christiansen's defense?
    I'll let China Daily:

    The judge also rejected a defense motion to make the death penalty unconstitutional, as well as a request to dismiss federal charges due to lack of jurisdiction.

    "Both automobiles and cell phones qualify as instrumentalities of interstate commerce," he wrote, and therefore qualify the case for federal jurisdiction, even if they're only used within one state, adding that whether those items were used to commit the alleged crime is a matter for trial.

    http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201901/16/WS5c3e9659a3106c65c34e4c1a.html

    Under such a theory pretty much any item used in a kidnapping that results in death would qualify the case for Federal jurisdiction. I disagree that Congress ever intended such a result and/or that it would be Constitutional if they did so and expect it will be litigated on appeal assuming Christiansen is convicted.

    The applicable statute is this:

    (a) Whoever unlawfully seizes, confines, inveigles, decoys, kidnaps, abducts, or carries away and holds for ransom or reward or otherwise any person, except in the case of a minor by the parent thereof, when—
    (1) the person is willfully transported in interstate or foreign commerce, regardless of whether the person was alive when transported across a State boundary, or the offender travels in interstate or foreign commerce or uses the mail or any means, facility, or instrumentality of interstate or foreign commerce in committing or in furtherance of the commission of the offense;
  10. Subscriberno1marauder
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    17 Jun '19 17:56
    As I thought, there has been a sharp rise in Federal death penalty cases under the Trump administration:

    Federal death-penalty cases have risen under Trump following a near-moratorium during President Barack Obama’s last term. The Justice Department approved at least a dozen death penalty prosecutions during Trump’s first two years, according to October data from the Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel.

    Recent data wasn’t available. But Robert Dunham, the executive director of Washington’s Death Penalty Information Center, says all signs are the trend of more federal death-penalty cases will continue even as cases are decreasing in states with capital punishment. He added: “It’s making the federal government an outlier.”

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Federal death-penalty trials in states without capital punishment laws are rare historically.

    https://wildabouttrial.com/news/criminal-justice-news/death-penalty-trial-panned-in-state-that-ended-punishment/
  11. Zugzwang
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    17 Jun '19 18:041 edit
    So far, I have noticed people asserting that they oppose or support the death penalty.
    I have not noticed people explaining why much beyond a vague generality like 'moral reasons'.

    I have yet to be completely convinced by any of these common arguments against
    or for the death penalty. These arguments seem based upon inaccurate factual
    claims or subjective value judgments (with which I don't necessarily agree).

    Here are some common arguments against the death penalty:
    1) All human life is sacred. (Subjective value judgment.)
    2) An innocent person could be executed. (Not applicable in this case.)
    3) Execution is too cruel or inhumane. (Subjective value judgment.)
    4) The death penalty is too costly (legal appeals) to enforce. (Should justice be based on money?)
    5) The death penalty is unfairly applied to due to biases of class, race, or gender.
    (A rich white woman is much less likely than a poor black man to be executed.)
    This is true, but it's a societal problem rather than a basic philosophical one.

    Here are some common arguments for the death penalty:
    1) 'An eye for any eye' justice is a moral precept. (Subjective value judgment.)
    2) The death penalty deters the worst crimes. (Statistically dubious or false.)
    3) Some crimes are so horrible that the criminals deserve to be executed. (Subjective value judgment.)
    4) People should not have to pay taxes to keep the worst criminals alive. (Should justice be based on money?)

    I can think of a practical reason (biases in sentencing) to disapprove of the death
    penalty in practice, but that's not the same as a fundamental philosophical objection.

    Note that Brendt Christiansen's a well-educated white man with a team of lawyers.
    I doubt that he can convincingly claimed that he's being inadequately represented
    or has been personally discriminated against by the US justice system.
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    17 Jun '19 18:11
    @no1marauder said
    As I thought, there has been a sharp rise in Federal death penalty cases under the Trump administration:

    Federal death-penalty cases have risen under Trump following a near-moratorium during President Barack Obama’s last term. The Justice Department approved at least a dozen death penalty prosecutions during Trump’s first two years, according to October data from the F ...[text shortened]... abouttrial.com/news/criminal-justice-news/death-penalty-trial-panned-in-state-that-ended-punishment/
    Thanks to laws enacted by bill clinton...

    “In 1994, President Clinton signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act that expanded the federal death penalty to sixty crimes, three of which do not involve murder. The exceptions are espionage, treason, and drug trafficking in large amounts.

    Two years later, in response to the Oklahoma City bombing of a federal building, President Clinton signed the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. The Act, which affects both state and federal prisoners, restricts review in federal courts by establishing stricter filing deadlines, limiting the opportunity for evidentiary hearings, and ordinarily allowing only a single habeas corpus filing in federal court.”

    https://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-procedure/capital-punishment-at-the-federal-level.html

    You liberals have an problem assigning blame where it belongs.
  13. Zugzwang
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    17 Jun '19 18:131 edit
    @no1marauder said
    I'll let China Daily:

    The judge also rejected a defense motion to make the death penalty unconstitutional, as well as a request to dismiss federal charges due to lack of jurisdiction.

    "Both automobiles and cell phones qualify as instrumentalities of interstate commerce," he wrote, and therefore qualify the case for federal jurisdiction, even if they're only used wit ...[text shortened]... interstate or foreign commerce in committing or in furtherance of the commission of the offense[/b];
    "Under such a theory pretty much any item used in a kidnapping that results in
    death would qualify the case for Federal jurisdiction. I disagree that Congress ever
    intended such a result and/or that it would be Constitutional if they did so and
    expect it will be litigated on appeal assuming Christiansen is convicted.
    "Under such a theory *pretty much any item* used in a kidnapping that results in
    death would qualify the case for Federal jurisdiction. I disagree that Congress ever
    intended such a result and/or that it would be Constitutional if they did so and
    expect it will be litigated on appeal assuming Christiansen is convicted."
    --No1Marauder

    So No1Marauder equates his 'pretty much any item' with automobiles or cell phones.

    "...assuming Christiansen is convicted.'
    --No1Marauder

    Given that his own defense lawyer already has conceded that Brendt Christiansen
    was responsible for killing Zhang Yingying, why would No1Marauder imply that
    he *might* not be convicted of *anything*? Jury nullification (for a sympathetic defendant)?
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    17 Jun '19 18:13
    @Mott-The-Hoople

    Liberals want Presidents like Obama who choose not to enforce certain laws.
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    17 Jun '19 18:19
    @Duchess64
    “(A rich white woman is much less likely than a poor black man to be executed.)
    This is true, but it's a societal problem rather than a basic philosophical one.”

    a rich white woman is far less likely to commit a crime than a poor black man! according to statistics!
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