The House has just defeated an amendment to exempt religious businesses and employers (as defined by the Federal Code) from the civil unions bill by a 92-56 vote.
The debate on the civil unions bill [bill text] is ongoing right now in the House and a vote is expected later this evening. However, in some surprising (to me) news, an amendment defining marriage was added to the bill and passed in the House by a vote of 80-67. This is the same amendment that was the cause of AG Blumenthal’s letter to Gov. Rell regarding whether this bill would expand the definition of marriage. Now that this amendment has been added to the bill, Gov. Rell is not expected to oppose the passing of the bill itself.
I’m really surprised that this amendment passed and I don’t think it will hold up under Constitutional scrutiny. The California court considered the same issue recently and held that California’s [anti] same-sex law was in violation of the Equal Protection clause. I still haven’t changed my stance that this is not an issue worth debating, yet, given the extensive coverage and the attendance at the public hearings, it is obvious that it is a hot topic issue to many, many people.
Live streaming video of the House debate is available on the web, from CT-N’s website. Click on "Live Stream-1". It certainly is a debate worth watching, if for nothing else but a sociological perspective.
Finally, it seems that the Ross hearing has neared it’s end. Today, Dr. Eric Goldsmith, the fourth and final psychiatrist testified. Dr. Goldsmith, an assistant professor at New York University Medical
Center, spent more than 60 hours interviewing Ross’ father and friends,
including his former fiancee, Susan Powers.
Goldsmith says Ross decided to die after he broke up with Powers, who provided him with emotional support and access to the outside world through a Web site she ran. Ross published letters to supporters on the site.
"It was very important for him in prison to feel he was affecting someone outside of prison," Goldsmith said.
Dr. Goldsmith testified that Ross has backed himself into a position where he cannot change his stance. It isn’t that far-fetched an opinion – he cannot appear to back down now after making his decision about sparing the families of the victims further pain. He is out on a limb and has to stay there until bailed out by someone else – perhaps Judge Clifford.
Now that she is back in his life, Goldsmith says Ross would like to take back his decision as he wrote in this letter but he cannot because his narcissism drives his desire to be seen as noble and not the monster he once was.
In this fifteen page report, the New York City psychiatrist wrote "in his currently exacerbated personality disordered state his decision to forego further post conviction appeals is not voluntary.
Next, the deposed statement of Susan Powers, Ross’ ex-girlfriend, is expected to be read into the record. This hearing is expected to completely wrap up by Thursday with a decision with Judge Clifford soon thereafter.
Next Wednesday, April 20, 2005, The University of Connecticut Law School will be hosting a debate on the death penalty at 7:00pm in the Starr Reading Room (2nd Floor of Starr Building). The debate is presented by the Connecticut Bar Association Young Lawyers Section. The participants in the debate will be John Connelly, State’s Attorney for Waterbury (who has prosecuted 6 out of 8 CT death row inmates) and Michael Fitzpatrick, President of the Conn. Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. Channel 3 anchor Al Terzi is the moderator. The format is as follows:
- Each side will present an 8 minute opening statement (Fitzpatrick first, then Connelly).
- Pres-submitted questions – 3 minutes for a response and 90 seconds for a rebuttal.
- Closing statements – 8 minutes each.
If you are in the area, this is an event worth attending; I sure will make the trip there. If you want to submit questions to be asked of either one, please leave a comment to this post and I will pass it along, or e-mail me or e-mail the YLS directly. A flyer describing the full format can be downloaded here. See you there!
Yesterday, this post was brought to my attention. The post is on an NYT article entitled "Videos Challenge Accounts of Convention Unrest" and is about arrests made at the Republican National Convention. The article goes on to say that police officers were fabricating stories about unrest and prosecutors were hiding evidence.
Accused of inciting a riot and resisting arrest, Mr. Kyne was the first of the 1,806 people arrested in New York last summer during the Republican National Convention to take his case to a jury. But one day after Officer Wohl testified, and before the defense called a single witness, the prosecutor abruptly dropped all charges.
During a recess, the defense had brought new information to the prosecutor. A videotape shot by a documentary filmmaker showed Mr. Kyne agitated but plainly walking under his own power down the library steps, contradicting the vivid account of Officer Wohl, who was nowhere to be seen in the pictures. Nor was the officer seen taking part in the arrests of four other people at the library against whom he signed complaints.
It goes on with similar tales, where videotapes were doctored and then when different, more complete footage was found, the charges were dropped.
I guess my opinion(1) would depend on the complicity of the prosecutors. Were they knowing participants or merely relying on what the police told them? This kind of thing does happen in other criminal prosecutions – a prosecutor brings charges based on what the police investigation unveils and, usually, faced with incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, they dismiss or make a really sweet offer. If, however, the prosecutors were hand-in-hand with the police, that raises serious ethical problems.
I’ve heard of prosecutors who don’t think they’re covered by the Rules of Professional Conduct and act like it. Well, they are. The RPC govern them just the way they govern all other attorneys and if they have acted in violation of the ethics canons, then there should be an ethics investigation. Maybe there is a 1983 claim? What say, Mike? I don’t know enough about it. Any thoughts among my readers?
(1)personal opinion, not professional. As someone familiar with the law, not in my official capacity.
My internet connection was non-operational last night, so I was unable to post the Michael Ross hearing, but a fellow Connecticut blogger has done a good job posting on it, so please read his posts here and here.
Briefly, though, yesterday Dr. Suzanne Gentile, a psychiatrist for the Whiting Forensic Institute and former employee of the CT and TX department of corrections testified on behalf of Ross that he is making a "knowing, intelligent and voluntary" decision to forgo his appeals. I put "knowing….voluntary" in quotes, because as those of you dealing with appeals and habeas know, that is the standard for determining whether a plea was valid, so they are certainly using the right keywords to describe Ross’ condition.
This article has excerpts from a videotaped interview of Ross that is now part of the evidence. Some choice quotes:
Ross: "It’s not about fairness and justice. It’s about politics. … If [Judge Patrick] Clifford said I was incompetent, people would drag him out and tar and feather him. Clifford’s not going to find incompetence."
Grassian: "You’re pretty determined to win."
Ross: "I’m competent."
Grassian: "I’m trying to find out what’s inside your head."
Ross: "Your report’s already written. You just have to fill in the blanks."
Grassian: "It’s difficult to get inside your head."
Ross: "You’ve got no business there."
Grassian: "In the end, you’ll thwart my effort to get inside your head."
Ross: "That’s your problem. … I’m presumed competent."
I’m not sure how this will play out with Judge Clifford who already appears frustrated with the volumes of reports and tapes that he has to review. Today, Dr. Eric Goldsmith will testify, giving his opinion of the competency of Michael Ross. At the end of today – expect it to be Ross 2, Groark 2.