Tuesday, August 25, 2015

“FURTHER THOUGHTS ON THE DEATH PENALTY”

180px-James_P_GrayFor decades the death penalty has been an emotional and almost undiscussable issue that has affected people in a myriad of different ways. But regardless of people’s philosophic points of view, it is important to be aware of the facts. So this article will address head on most of the common arguments that are used in favor of the death penalty, as well as some facts about and responses to them. Then it will suggest some additional facts and arguments that should also be considered as we all decide how best to proceed in this emotional area. Certainly all people are fully entitled to their own opinions in this or any other matter, but no people are entitled to their own facts.

Typically the proponents of the death penalty present five justifications for its implementation. They are that: 1) this is the appropriate punishment for the offender of such a serious crime, 2) rightful societal vengeance (often cited as an “eye for an eye”), 3) reducing to zero the chances that the offender will return to society, 4) deterrence against future violations by other offenders, and 5) closure for the families of the victims.

Let’s first discuss the possibility of offenders returning to society. As most people know, when someone is convicted of a “special circumstance” murder, the only two sentences allowed under California law and the laws of most other states are either the death penalty or life without the possibility of parole, otherwise known as “LWOP.” In times past a person receiving a “life” sentence could still be paroled, but now if an offender receives an LWOP, that is simply not possible under those laws without a pardon from the Governor – which is politically extremely unlikely. Furthermore, to my knowledge, no one serving such a sentence has ever escaped from prison. As a result, this is probably no longer a reason for the death penalty to be invoked.

Regarding the issue of closure for the families of the victims, consider that California has had only 15 executions since the death penalty was reinstated in 1978. But now California has more than 660 convicted offenders on death row. Of those offenders, 30 have been there for more than 25 years, 119 for more than 20 years, and 408 for longer than 10 years. The last two people executed were Clarence Ray Allen and Stanley “Tookey” Williams, both of whom were executed about 26 years after their offenses were committed. As a result, “closure” for the families, if it comes at all, comes after keeping the books open – for decades.

So not only does the death penalty not bring closure, it actually keeps the families of the victims on an emotional roller coaster. Because of the appeals and occasional re-trials, the families are forced for years to relive the grisly details of their loved-one’s death – over and over again. In many ways, this is actually using the grieving families as bit-players in a long-continuing political drama. And when it comes down to it, many of the families discover that it does not furnish much satisfaction to see the object of one’s hatred simply go to sleep when hooked up to a needle. So for all of these reasons, what we are doing is actually the opposite of closure for the victims.

In addition, since it is deemed by many people to be an “insult” to the memory of the deceased victim not to invoke the maximum punishment possible, there is a perceived obligation to seek the death penalty regardless of the costs, either human or financial. But if the maximum authorized punishment was a sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole, the families would probably be emotionally satisfied with that result and get on with their lives.

Well then, what about deterrence against future offenders? Probably the only circumstances in which deterrence would be a factor would be offenses like murder for hire (both for the people paying for the deed to be done and for the killers themselves), murder after lying in wait, kidnapping in which the victim is killed, multiple murders or murders while already serving an LWOP sentence, and treason. These involve situations in which the acts are usually planned and well thought out in advance.

But the large majority of offenses for which the death penalty is imposed are for offenses that are not so planned. That is to say, most burglars and robbers do not plan in advance to kill anybody, but things get out of control and people are killed as a result. And the offenders that do make prior plans are often involved in heavily emotional situations like being jilted lovers, or people with severe psychiatric disorders, so they are not focusing upon deterrence anyway. Those realities, coupled with the fact that most offenders never feel that they will ever be caught at all, negate the effects of deterrence for most offenses.

One more fact enters into this equation as well. As a practical matter, if a person knows that he has committed an offense that would qualify him for the death penalty, that person tends to feel with some justification that he has nothing more to lose. That belief in turn results in the perpetrators killing witnesses to the offense to keep them from testifying against them, and also killing the police officers who attempt to arrest them. So in effect, what we end up with is the opposite of deterrence.

Regarding the punishment of the offender, I have no particular wisdom to suggest, other than saying that in many ways serving a sentence of life without the possibility of ever being released would in many ways be a more severe sentence for most offenders than actually being executed.

That leaves the issue of societal vengeance. Of course, this is a complicated and multifaceted issue. On the one hand, there has been an historical and even biblical rationale that the proper penalty for wrongly taking the life of another is to forfeit one’s own life. But on the other hand, it is hard to justify our country as being the world’s champion of human rights if it is so at odds with much of the rest of the world on the issue of capital punishment.

For example, since California reinstated the death penalty in 1978, no fewer than 60 other countries have chosen to abolish it. Although there are dozens of countries that still have the death penalty on the books, only six of those countries, including the United States of America, are responsible for 90 percent of all of the executions. The other five are China, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and the Sudan. As such we are keeping pretty lowly company in the area of human rights

So that is a short discussion about the five traditional arguments in favor of invoking the death penalty. Once again, I realize that this can be an emotional subject, and that many people who present information like this are considered to be “bleeding heart liberals.” But I was a trial court judge in Orange County from the time I was appointed by Governor Deukmejian at the end of 1983 until I retired in January of 2009, and I wanted to share with you for your consideration the facts as I have seen and observed them.

But there are additional important facts that also affect the discussion as well. One of those facts that is almost unknown by the general population is the financial cost of death penalty cases. Estimates are that it costs taxpayers seven times more money to pursue death penalty cases than it would to try, convict, pursue all appeals, and keep the perpetrator in prison for the rest of his life. More specifically, in 2008, the California Commission for the Fair Administration of Justice estimated that it costs taxpayers about $114 million more per year to process death penalty trials, along with all of the accompanying appeals and writs of habeas corpus proceedings, than it would to process trials in which the maximum sentence were to be life without the possibility of parole. And if additional recommended reforms to the system are instituted, that amount will jump to about $237.7 million per year. People do not understand these facts, but the costs of the extra investigators, attorneys, jury selection, court reporter’s transcripts, appeals, habeas corpus proceedings, and extra procedural safeguards are staggering!

Why is this process so complicated and expensive? As Justice Sims wrote in a concurring opinion in Bennett v. Superior Court, 146 Cal.App.4th 344, 418 (2006), as a practical matter there really are four distinct trials in death penalty cases. The first is a trial (almost always with a jury) that addresses the possible guilt of the offender. In the second trial, assuming the offender is convicted, the jury decides whether the penalty should be death or life without the possibility of parole. Then the third trial focuses upon the jurors in the case who arrived at those first two decisions in order to see if any of them were involved in any form of misconduct, such as telling other jurors about their own personal experiences in life.

The fourth trial confronts the trial attorneys who were involved in the case. At this point, the prosecutors are “tried” to see if they presented their arguments unfairly or too emotionally, and the defense attorneys are “tried” to see if by chance they did not afford the offender the effective assistance of counsel on any material issue. These “trials” usually take place in habeas corpus proceedings in federal courts after the state appeals have finally run their course. At this time the defense is also entitled to virtually every scrap of paper prepared by any law enforcement officer that ever had anything to do with the investigation or any of the witnesses in the case.

How has this situation been allowed to get so extreme? Well, first of all we are a compassionate society, and we seem to be institutionally unwilling to allow anyone to be executed unless all avenues of innocence and mitigation have been explored.

Secondly, some people are so radically opposed to the death penalty that they have become zealous in their dedication to an exhaustive defense, or even to delay just for the sake of delay. For them it is a question of morality. Therefore no approach is too extreme if it has even the slightest hope of delaying the final outcome. And in actuality some of these seemingly extreme arguments have been successful in the past in obtaining a reprieve down to an LWOP, or even an exoneration of the underlying offense.

As a result, and also as a practical matter, all cases involving the death penalty have become expensive beyond belief, and are delayed well beyond reason. In fact, I was the judge on the Preliminary Hearing in the death penalty case of a man named Teofilo Medina, who was shown in my court to have robbed four ARCO Mini Marts and thereafter killed the non-resisting clerks by shooting them in the back of the head at point-blank range. In short, he was a bad man.

But my hearing took place in 1987, and he was eventually convicted and sentenced to death in 1988. He has been on Death Row ever since that time, and has seven attorneys still actively working on his appeal, which has not yet even been heard.

This is not at all an exception. Remember Richard Ramirez, otherwise known as the “Night Stalker?” He was convicted in 1989 of 13 murders, 5 attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults and 14 burglaries. His first appeal went directly to the California Supreme Court, as is required by law. This is an enormous expenditure of resources. In fact, the Supreme Court’s statistics show that it spends about 20 percent of its time just on death penalty appeals. But even so, Ramirez’ appeal was not heard until June of 2006, which was 17 years after his conviction. Even though the appeal was decided about 60 days later, if his remaining appeals and writs are heard within the average time schedule of additional writs and appeals, his convictions will not be final until the year 2114 – at the earliest.

And at least Ramirez has appointed appellate counsel. Currently only two of 17 inmates sentenced to death in the year 2002 have had attorneys appointed for their automatic appeals, and none sentenced in 2003 or thereafter have had any appointed at all. As a result, of the almost 700 prisoners on death row, 88 inmates still have not had counsel appointed for them, and none of them to my knowledge have the funds to hire attorneys themselves.

Why is there such a problem finding attorneys to represent these people? Because one must be experienced in this specialized field, and those professionals can make a great deal more money on other matters than what the state will pay them on these death penalty cases. In addition it is often emotionally draining work. So the number of attorneys willing to accept the appointment is declining, and the number of unrepresented sentenced prisoners continues to increase.

But there are many other serious problems in addition to the financial ones. Although about 60 percent of the general population continues to voice support for the death penalty, more and more of those who are required to impose it are withdrawing their support. That includes prosecutors, juries, judges and prison officials. As such, the numbers of death penalty convictions nationwide dropped from 317 in 1996 to 128 in 2005. And this withdrawal of support also includes medical doctors, who are increasingly seeing their participation in the death penalty as a violation of their Hippocratic Oath.

Another large issue that must be considered with regard to the death penalty is both fairness as well as the appearance of fairness based upon things like racial disparities. Statistics show that the death penalty is invoked a great deal more often when the defendant is a non-white, or when the victim is white. In addition, although the U.S. Supreme Court held several years ago that it was unconstitutional to execute juveniles, people are increasingly concerned that we are executing people who are mentally retarded.

Additional problems are seen when either the prosecutors or the judge on the case are up for election in the near future. Are the critical decisions about life or death being made for legal reasons, or for political ones? Many people are having second thoughts about these things and are beginning to believe that this is something with which a civilized society should not be involved.

We are also more frequently seeing the phenomenon of the families of the victims speaking out publicly against the execution of the convicted perpetrators. One of these is a man named Bud Welch, whose daughter died at the hands of Timothy McVeigh in the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. As Mr. Welch continued to think about the situation, he stated publicly that he had come to two realizations. The first was that even after McVeigh would be dead, he himself would still not actually feel any better. And the second was that he decided that all of this rage and hatred against McVeigh in the name of his daughter was hardly a fitting tribute to her memory.

Finally, there is the question of making a mistake. With the development of DNA evidence that is considered to be more than 99.9 percent reliable, programs like the “Innocence Project” have shown that more than 200 inmates have been falsely convicted for crimes they did not commit. And that includes 15 defendants that were sentenced to death. Of course, in many ways that can be turned into an argument in favor of future death penalty sentences where DNA evidence would be used to obtain the conviction. But increasingly people have been questioning the death penalty because of its inability to correct mistakes.

We are human, and we can make mistakes. The largest numbers of false convictions are based upon erroneous eyewitness identifications. Others come for various reasons based upon false confessions by the defendants or unreasonable appeals to the emotions of the jurors. So an increasing number of people are concluding that for many or all of the reasons that have been presented here it is unworthy for an enlightened society to involve itself in the killing of criminal defendants.

In that regard, the legislature of the State of New Jersey passed legislation that was signed by the governor repealing the death penalty, which makes it the first state in several decades to do so. But several other states have imposed a moratorium upon its utilization until all of these issues can be studied further. In fact, this position has become so prevalent around the world that no country that imposes the death penalty is held to be qualified to join the European Union.

So whether you believe that the death penalty is appropriate or not in theory, I believe the facts show unmistakably that the system is dysfunctional and that the laws are not working as intended. And as a practical reality, in today’s real world they cannot be made to work.

Accordingly, I have personally concluded that the families of the victims would be better served by its repeal; the huge amount of tax money would be better spent on improving our roads or paying the salaries of our police and firefighters; both the trial and appellate courts could better devote their resources and energies by addressing numbers of other issues in our society that are crying out for attention; and our country could rejoin most of the rest of the civilized world by repealing this practice. One way or the other everyone will benefit, because the system we have today is neither swift nor sure nor effective.

James P. Gray is a retired judge of the Orange County Superior Court and a former federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, is the author of “A Voter’s Handbook: Effective Solutions to America’s Problems (The Forum Press, 2010), and can be contacted at JimPGray@sbcglobal.net or through his website at www.JudgeJimGray.com.

Please forward this on to your circle of friends for their consideration.  And by the way, now I am on Facebook at Facebook at http://ift.tt/1KPuMEA, LinkedIn at http://ift.tt/1cAMtZD, and Twitter with username as @JudgeJimGrayOAI, or twitter.com/JudgeJimGrayOAI.  Please visit these sites, and pass them along to your social world.




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Monday, August 10, 2015

“FACING FACTS ON THE DEATH PENALTY”

The death penalty is certainly an emotional issue that affects many people in lots of different ways. So today’s column will address head on most of the common arguments that are used in favor of the death penalty, as well as some facts about and responses to them. Then the following column will suggest some additional facts and arguments that should also be considered as we all decide how best to proceed in this emotional area. Certainly all people are fully entitled to their own opinions in this or any other matter, but no people are entitled to their own facts. Typically the proponents of the death penalty present five justifications for its implementation. They are that: 1) this is the appropriate punishment for the offender of such a serious crime, 2) rightful societal vengeance (often cited as an “eye for an eye”), 3) reducing to zero the chances that the offender will return to society, 4) deterrence against future violations by other offenders, and 5) closure for the families of the victims. Let’s first discuss the possibility of offenders returning to society. As you know, when a person is convicted of a “special circumstance” murder, the only two sentences allowed under California law are the death penalty or life without the possibility of parole, otherwise known as “LWOP.” In times past a person receiving a “life” sentence could still be paroled, but now if an offender receives an LWOP, that is simply not possible under the law without a pardon from the Governor – which is politically extremely unlikely. Furthermore, to my knowledge no one serving such a sentence has ever escaped from prison. As a result, this is probably no longer a reason for the death penalty to be invoked. Regarding the issue of closure for the families of the victims, consider that California has had only 15 executions since the death penalty was reinstated in 1978 (while 54 people on death row died of other causes). But as of this time there are more than 660 convicted offenders on death row. Of those offenders, 30 have been there for more than 25 years, 119 for more than 20 years, and 408 for longer than 10 years. The last two people executed were Clarence Ray Allen and Stanley “Tookey” Williams, both of whom were executed about 26 years after their offenses were committed. As a result, “closure” for the families, if it comes at all, comes after keeping the books open for Not only does the death penalty not bring closure, it actually keeps the families of the victims on an emotional roller coaster. Because of the appeals and occasional re- trials, the families are forced for years to relive the grisly details of their loved-one’s death – over and over again. In many ways, this is actually using the grieving families as bit-players in a long-continuing political drama. And when it comes down to it, does it furnish much satisfaction to see the object of one’s hatred simply go to sleep when hooked up to a needle? So for all of these reasons, maybe what we are doing is the opposite of closure for those victimized people. In addition, since it is deemed by many people to be an “insult” to the memory of the deceased victim not to invoke the maximum punishment possible, there is a perceived obligation to seek the death penalty regardless of the costs, either human or financial. But if the maximum punishment were to be a sentence to life without the possibility of parole, the families would be more likely to be satisfied with that result and get on with Well then, what about deterrence against future offenders? Probably the only circumstances in which deterrence would be a factor would be offenses like murder for hire (both for the people paying for the deed to be done and for the killers themselves), murder after laying in wait, kidnapping in which the victim is killed, multiple murders or murders while already serving an LWOP sentence, and treason. These involve situations in which the acts are usually planned and well thought out in advance. But the large majority of offenses for which the death penalty is imposed are for offenses that are not so planned. That is to say, most burglars and robbers do not plan in advance to kill anybody, but things get out of control and people are killed as a result. And the offenders that do make prior plans are often involved in heavily emotional situations like being jilted lovers, or people with severe psychiatric disorders, so they are not focusing upon deterrence anyway. Those realities, coupled with the fact that most offenders never feel that they will ever be caught at all, negate the effects of deterrence for most offenses. One more fact enters into this equation as well. As a practical matter, if a person knows that he has committed an offense that would qualify him for the death penalty, that person tends to feel with some justification that he has nothing more to lose. That belief in turn results in the perpetrators killing witnesses to the offense to keep them from testifying against him, and also killing the police officers who attempt to arrest them. So in effect, what we end up with is the opposite of deterrence. Regarding the punishment of the offender, I have no particular wisdom to suggest to you other than saying that in many ways serving a sentence of life without the possibility of ever being released would in many ways be a more severe sentence for most offenders than actually being executed. That leaves the issue of societal vengeance. Of course, this is a complicated and multifaceted issue. On the one hand, there has been an historical and even biblical rationale that the proper penalty for wrongly taking the life of another is to forfeit one’s own life. But on the other hand, it is hard to justify our country as being the world’s champion of human rights if it is so at odds with much of the rest of the world on the issue of capital punishment. For example, since California reinstated the death penalty in 1978, no fewer than 60 other countries have chosen to abolish it. Although there are dozens of countries that still have the death penalty on the books, only six of those countries, including the United States of America, are responsible for 90 percent of all of the executions. The other five are China, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and the Sudan. As such we are keeping pretty lowly company in the area of human rights So that is a short discussion about the traditional arguments in favor of invoking the death penalty. I realize that this can be an emotional subject, and that many people who present information like this are considered to be “bleeding heart liberals.” But I was a trial court judge in Orange County from the time I was appointed by Governor Deukmejian at the end of 1983 until I retired in January of 2009, and I wanted to share with you for your consideration the facts as I have seen and observed them. James P. Gray is a retired judge of the Orange County Superior Court, works as a private mediator for ADR Services, Inc., is the author of “A Voter’s Handbook: Effective Solutions to America’s Problems (The Forum Press, 2010), and can be contacted at JimPGray@sbcglobal.net or through his website at www.JudgeJimGray.com

Saturday, June 20, 2015

2 Paragraphs 4 Liberty: #14 “Liberty and Traffic Courts”

Screen Shot 2012-06-01 at 1.05.41 PM  During my 25 years as a trial court judge I was able to observe the continual devolution of the traffic courts from an emphasis upon safety on our streets and highways to a revenue-gathering machine.  Shame on us all!  In California this has, among other things, taken the form of “penalty assessments.”   These are payments that cannot be waived or excused by the judges, and are added on to all traffic fines for such things as courthouse security, the law library fund and paying for child care services at the courthouse.  All of these are important, but today in Orange County, a $100 fine will carry an additional $390 in penalty assessments, and this really throws a large additional burden upon people who are mostly on the low end of the economic scale.  In other words, Liberty as a function of basic fairness is being jeopardized.

Another example of Liberty at risk is the California Highway Patrol’s 11-99 Foundation which, at the very least, gives the appearance of Traffic Justice for Sale.  The charity itself is worthwhile, since it assists families of injured and deceased CHP officers.  The problem comes with the “benefits of membership.”  As an example, for a $2,500 donation, the donor receives a plaque, license plate frame that says “Member, CHP 11-99 Foundation,” and a wallet with a badge placed just opposite where one’s driver’s license would be carried.  The inescapable message this brings is favoritism on the highway for people who have made donations.  Why otherwise would these articles be provided?  All judges know that we are required to provide two important services to the public: justice, and also of equal importance, the appearance of justice.  But these two situations are working against both principles, and there is nothing that judges can do about them.  Liberty requires better!

(Next post: Liberty and the Presidential Debates)

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)

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Saturday, June 6, 2015

YOU CAN’T FAKE REALITY FOREVER

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Reality: Although government does perform some necessary services, like military and police

protection and a judiciary to enforce our laws, and provides an infrastructure like highways and dams,

that facilitates the production of wealth, it almost never creates wealth itself.  Instead, government

takes large amounts of resources away from people and businesses, keeps a big part for itself, and re-

distributes the rest.  So increasing government spending does not spur economic growth  – mostly it is

the reverse.

Reality:  Since almost all wealth is created by the private sector, the more jobs there are in the

private sector, the more economic growth our country will realize.

Reality:  Employers in the private sector will not hire new workers (or retain present ones)

unless those workers cost less than the income they produce.  Thus the old saying “You can’t fake

reality” is true, although I would add that you can’t fake reality forever.

All of this means that if government imposes market artificialities upon employers – who are

there to make a profit – they will do one of five things for their own health or even survival:  try to work

around or avoid the mandates; cut expenses, usually by reducing their labor force and often by replacing

the workers with machines; increase their prices if they can still stay in business by doing so; move to

locations that do not require those rules, if they can; or simply go out of business.  This analysis applies

to things like minimum wage laws, increased union wages, healthcare mandates and legions of intrusive

and complicated government regulations.

Consider customer self-checkout stations now found in many retail stores, computerized robots

in automobile assembly plants, and automatic crop-picking machines.  All of these have been

implemented to reduce those companies’ labor expenses, because those labor costs were greater than

using the machines.  Yes, the workers who were fortunate enough to retain their jobs make more

money, but the ones who are less productive lost their jobs completely.

Is this result heartless?  Are these employers greedy?  Those are the wrong questions to ask.

The right question is: Is this reality?  And the answer is yes it is – and that reality will not change.

My friend the late David Sills, who was the presiding justice of the Court of Appeal in Orange

County, told a story a long time ago about what he had observed during his trip to the Soviet Union.  He

was staying in the best hotel in Moscow, where he noticed that a worker was assigned to vacuum the

rug in the lobby.  So that is what the worker did: Every morning he plugged in his vacuum cleaner,

turned on the switch and vacuumed the rug.  Unfortunately, the vacuum cleaner had broken a long time

before, and there were no spare parts.  Nevertheless, the worker continued to do what he was assigned.

Justice Sills forecast that no society that would tolerate such conduct could survive – and he was proved

to be right.  With so much interference in the marketplace by our government, in many ways we are

headed in the same direction.

The most positive thing about laws such as those setting minimum wages is that they make

government lawmakers feel better about themselves.  But that should not be the case, because those

laws penalize many of the very people the lawmakers are trying to help, who are mostly low-wage and

unskilled workers.

If lawmakers cared about unskilled workers at the low end of productivity, they would repeal all

minimum wage laws, and address their situation by other means.  That would result in more workers

being hired, thus giving more people an opportunity to get a job – particularly the younger ones who are

entering the workforce for the first time.  This would, in turn, give all of these workers an opportunity to

learn and demonstrate the positive work ethic of showing up on time and being reliable and cheerful, as

well as the pride of earning a paycheck.  Then the reality for most of those workers who learn and

display that work ethic would be that, with time, they would either be given a pay raise because they

would bring more value to their employer, or they would find work at another company and be paid

more according to their increased value.

There would also be another important result from this approach: Those workers would see

firsthand how they could profit by furthering their education.

All of this would also benefit society because, for example, it would be more productive

sociologically for society to have 100 people working at $10 per hour, than having 65 people working at

$15 per hour.  This would be particularly true in poor urban neighborhoods, where unemployment and

the lack of opportunity are pervasive, which, in turn, foster increased crime and despair.  And greater

employment is the only realistic remedy for that problem.

Finally, if it must, society can address welfare through a program of a “negative income tax.”

This means that, with these numbers only being used for purposes of illustration, everyone with a Social

Security card would be entitled to receive a stipend of $15,000 per year from the government.  Then this

stipend would be reduced by 50 cents for every dollar each person earned, up to earnings of $30,000

per year.  Thus people who earn less than $30,000 would be subsidized; those who earn exactly that

amount would receive nothing but pay no taxes, and those who earn more would only pay taxes on

money they earn above that amount.

Obviously there would be many wrinkles to iron out in a program of this kind but, overall, since

this approach would entirely replace the bureaucracy, arbitrariness and expense of the welfare system,

it would generally be beneficial for all concerned.  And not only would it be a simplified, more fair and

less bureaucratic system, it would have the critically important factor of always furnishing an economic

incentive for people to earn the extra dollar.

Yes, there must be some government regulation of the marketplace, but those regulations

should not be nearly as intrusive or complicated as they are now.  Why?  Because they add huge

government bureaucracies and expenses without achieving their desired effect.  And they never will

until they more fully take into account economic realities.  And you can’t fake reality forever.

James P. Gray is a retired judge of the Orange County Superior Court, the author of “A

Voter’s Handbook: Effective Solutions to America’s Problems” (The Forum Press, 2010) and the

2012 Libertarian candidate for vice president, along with New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson as

the candidate for president.

Please forward this on to your circle of friends for their consideration.  And by the way, now I am on Facebook at Facebook at http://ift.tt/1KPuMEA, LinkedIn at http://ift.tt/1cAMtZD, and Twitter with username as @judgejamesgray, or https://twitter.com/JudgeJimGrayOAI Please visit these cites, and pass them along to your social world.

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

2 Paragraphs 4 Liberty: #13 “Liberty and the Presidential Debates”

Jim-Gray_Waterwark-11-600x600The Presidential Debates are rigged so that only the candidates from the Republican and Democratic Parties can participate.  Previously when the debates were run by the League of Women Voters, candidates from any political parties that were on the ballots in enough states technically to win the presidency would be invited to participate in the presidential debates.  But the League was frozen out of the process by the high-ranking Republicans and Democrats on the Commission.  So now those two parties completely control the Commission, and have changed the criterion to invite only the candidates who show fifteen percent ratings in five national polls.  (And they don’t even name the polls until after the invitations are issued.)  Of course, this is intentionally unreachable, because most polls don’t even carry candidates beyond Democrats and Republicans.  The two parties also exclusively control other important things like who the moderator will be, the issues that will be discussed, how long the candidates will have to answer the questions and whether follow-up questions will be allowed.

The League withdrew its participation when these changes were implemented.  But itdidn’t go out quietly, because the League issued a public statement that it would not be involved in the “hoodwinking of America.”  And America has been hoodwinked ever since.  Liberty demands that this fraud on the voters be reversed!  The most important event in a presidential election is the debates.  Not only do the debates give a legitimacy and viability to all candidates who participate, it also largely controls the issues that will be presented to the public.  Of course, if the debate criteria are changed, the two main parties will lose their monopoly power – but the voters will win.  What do you think is more important?  That is why http://ift.tt/1KPuMoi is sponsoring a lawsuit against the Commission and the two main parties to reverse these criteria and make more information available to the American voters.  If you wish to help to strike a blow for Liberty, please support this lawsuit.  It is probably the most important investment anyone could make in the future of our great country!

(Next post: Liberty and Marriage Equality)

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)

Please forward this on to your circle of friends for their consideration.  And by the way, now I am on Facebook at Facebook at http://ift.tt/1KPuMEA, LinkedIn at http://ift.tt/1cAMtZD, and Twitter with username as @judgejamesgray, orhttp://twitter.com/judgejamesgray.  Please visit these cites, and pass them along to your social world.

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Sunday, May 3, 2015

2 Paragraphs 4 Liberty: #1 “Liberty”

  maxresdefaultAs everyone knows, the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of our country ends with the phrase “with Liberty and Justice for All.”  But what is Liberty?  I am a Libertarian, and it forms the root and basis for our political and even philosophical beliefs.  But it is not really discussed by most people.  So in an effort to focus more upon this most important concept, this series will be sent to you every week.  Only two paragraphs at a time, so obviously the presentation will not be in depth.  But I hope that it will spur you the reader to further thoughts about the concept and benefits of Liberty, and also spur you to forward the series on to your circle of friends for the same purpose.

                Contrary to the feelings of many people, Liberty is not a “no holds barred, anything goes” philosophy – far from it.  Because Liberty also involves responsibility – at every level of society, including personal, group, corporate and governmental.  But it also means that all adults should be able to live their lives as they choose, as long as that does not wrongly interfere with the ability of others to do the same thing.  So please watch for this series each week, and use it to think about, employ and become an advocate for Liberty.

                (Next post: “More on Liberty”)

                                                                                                                                Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)




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Thursday, March 19, 2015

1 Two Paragraphs for Liberty: “Liberty”.

As everyone knows, the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of our country ends with the phrase "with Liberty and Justice for All." But what is Liberty? I am a Libertarian, and it forms the root and basis for our political and even philosophical beliefs. But it is not really discussed by most people. So in an effort to focus more upon this most important concept, this series will be sent to you every week. Only two paragraphs at a time, so obviously the presentation will not be in depth. But I hope that it will spur you the reader to further thoughts about the concept and benefits of Liberty, and also spur you to forward the series on to your circle of friends for the same purpose. Contrary to the feelings of many people, Liberty is not a "no holds barred, anything goes" philosophy – far from it. Because Liberty also involves responsibility – at every level of society, including personal, group, corporate and governmental. But it also means that all adults should be able to live their lives as they choose, as long as that does not wrongly interfere with the ability of others to do the same thing. So please watch for this series each week, and use it to think about, employ and become an advocate for Liberty. (Next week: More on Liberty) Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)

Repeal laws that violate our constitutional, human rights By James P. Gray

Friday, January 2, 2015 Repeal laws that violate our constitutional, human rights By James P. Gray Millions of people all around the world still love America - and Americans. They may not always be wild about some of the actions our government takes, but many of us here are not either. But what is it that makes our country so special - even exceptional? The soul of our great country is our liberty and our freedoms. And today our very soul is under attack by our own government. As legal professionals, we cannot allow this to continue. The temptation to deprive people of their liberties in the name of their own security goes back throughout history to Ancient Greece and before. The Founding Fathers of our country (and Mothers, because women like Abigail Adams must be included) were keenly aware of this tradeoff. This caused them to try to combat it by drafting our Constitution and Bill of Rights, so our country would be a bastion of individual freedom from government encroachment. Tragically those protections have been eroded substantially since that time - mostly by keeping our country in a constant state of war. James Madison's warned us that "No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare ... If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign power." We should keep his warnings forefront in our minds, because that is what we are now facing. The justifications for the main present attacks upon our liberty by our government come from several statutes passed by Congress in the name of keeping us safe, with the largest impetus being from the so-called War on Terror. In its name Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows our government to detain (i.e., arrest) any of us, citizens or not, and hold us indefinitely without charges or a trial, merely by the executive department labeling us as suspected terrorists. This statute has turned our traditional concept of due process on its head. The same rationale was also used for Congress to pass the so-called PATRIOT Act, which has been used to justify government snooping upon our private telephone calls, email messages, and bank records. That same legislation was also used to justify the torture (often labeled as "enhanced interrogation") of people in our custody. And yes, that includes waterboarding. Did you ever think that our country would even debate whether we should waterboard someone in our custody? Acts like these were seen by George Washington as such a blight upon the honor of our country that he threatened death during the Revolutionary War to any of our troops who mistreated British prisoners of war. When it comes down to it, there probably is no power more complete than the ability to torture captive human beings, or more despicable. So these laws must be repealed. Why? Because we are better than this. Sen. John McCain, who was tortured continually while being held captive in North Vietnam, put it best when he said torture "compromises that which most distinguishes us from our enemies." And our country officially recognized this reality in the 1980s when we joined most of the civilized world in signing a treaty committing us to refrain from torture under any circumstances, and to prosecute any of us that did so. An additional reason to repeal these laws is practical. The goal of most terrorist organizations is to show the world that, contrary to its preaching, the government of the United States of America is no better than any other. So every time our government acts to violate anyone's human or constitutional rights, it is helping the terrorists to achieve their goal. The same analysis and reality should keep our government from killing people with missiles launched from drones. This is not only a violation of our principles, but, at least in countries like Pakistan and the Sudan where we don't even claim we are at war, is probably also a violation of international law. And besides, just like with torture, it probably doesn't work. Put yourself in the place of a son or brother of someone killed by one of our drones, you would probably vow revenge. We are almost surely recruiting more terrorists than we are killing. Without a doubt radical groups in the world today are doing monstrous things to innocent people, like shooting students in their schools, bombing devout people while in prayer, and kidnapping and executing women and children. But the scenario that there is a "ticking time bomb" about to explode, and the only way to keep innocent people from being killed is to torture the information out of a terrorist, basically only happens in Hollywood. Furthermore, as if we needed any other reason but the moral one, tortured information is typically unreliable. There is also another important reason for repeal: Requiring government agents to procure a judicial warrant based upon probable cause will not compromise our security. Federal judges are fully as concerned about terrorist threats as the rest of us are, and they will surely sign arrest and search warrants as the circumstances and the law allow to enable government agents to keep us safe. But enforcing the constitutional requirement of procuring those warrants will seriously reduce the risks of abuses in the process itself. Finally, when it comes down to it, we, as adults, must be realistic enough to realize there is only so much that our government can do to keep us safe from wanton acts of terrorism. Yes, we can concentrate our security forces on airline terminals, but what about train stations or bus terminals? Or bridges or tunnels on our nation's highways? Movie theaters, sports stadiums or crowded beaches? We should take a lesson from the people of London during World War II's Battle of Britain when hell was literally reigning down from the skies during the frequent German Luftwaffe bomber attacks. When the air raid sirens went off, people did what was necessary to protect themselves by going down into bomb shelters. But after the all-clear was sounded, they went back to their regular lives without living in fear. We should do the same. So let us all stand up and work actively to repeal all of our country's laws that allow human and constitutional rights to be violated. It is the right thing to do for simple justice. More importantly, our country's soul is at stake. James P. Gray is a retired judge of the Orange County Superior Court, the author of "A Voter's Handbook: Effective Solutions to America's Problems" (The Forum Press, 2010), and was the 2012 Libertarian candidate for vice president, along with Gov. Gary Johnson as the candidate for president. DAILY JOURNAL NEWSWIRE ARTICLE http://www.dailyjournal.com C 2015 The Daily Journal Corporation. All rights reserved.

2 PARAGRAPHS 4 LIBERTY: #5 "LIBERTY IN EDUCATION"

One of the most important things we can do as a society is to make the opportunity for excellence in education available to all children in our country. But this is clearly not happening today, particularly in lower economic neighborhoods. If we wish to change this, the first thing we need to decide is whether the purpose of our educational system is to provide excellence in education, or to protect below-average teachers. Tragically, in most cases it appears that we have chosen the latter approach. But if we would choose excellence, our chances for it to be realized would be maximized by giving parents the liberty of choosing where the government money will be spent for the education of their children. If that were to happen, virtually everyone would come out ahead, except below-average teachers and their unions. Children would receive excellence because, if a school did not perform, their parents would transfer them to another school that would. And this could be a public, private, religious, charter, military, or even vocational school. And if such a school did not exist in a particular neighborhood, and there were a funded demand, entrepreneurs would quickly fill the vacuum. Good teachers would also benefit because they would both be judged for educational results instead of restricted in their teaching methods, and be paid better because they would be in demand. And all of these results will be accomplished through the Liberty of choice. (Next week: Enforcing Liberty through Contracts) Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)

2 PARAGRAPHS 4 LIBERTY: #7 "LIBERTY IN IMMIGRATION"

Earlier in our history, those coming to America faced fewer immigration problems in entering our country. And, if you think about it, that should be a fundamental human right. Why should people's chances of living in the country or environment of their choice be limited by the accident of the location of their birth? Nevertheless, we do have a legitimate interest in prohibiting immigrants from receiving welfare benefits paid for by the rest of us. So how can this situation be resolved? By issuing work visas rather liberally to immigrants after a basic background check for criminality and health issues. This would not be a "pathway to citizenship," and there would be no entitlement to welfare, except in cases of true medical emergencies. But by adopting this approach, not only would we be upholding a human liberty, we would also bring large beneficial results for our economy. Why? Because if labor is not allowed to go to capital, capital will go to labor, and it is better for our economic prosperity for businesses to be located in our country than elsewhere. In addition, since the immigrants would be here legally, they can also be required to get drivers' licenses and pay their taxes. So in this area, like so many others, Liberty works! (Next week: Liberty in Free Trade) Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tuesday, July 31, Judge Jim Gray, Larry Sand, and Katie Grimes join Martha Montelongo, with John Seiler, Managing Editor at CalWatchDog.com, and Ben Boychuk, Associate Editor with City Journal.

http://gadflyradio.com/tag/judge-jim-gray/

Anaheim PD Violence, City Govt and Drug Laws, One Teachers' Pay Hike Racket, When Defrauding and Shaking Down the Public Became "de rigueur"

Tuesday, July 31, Judge Jim Gray, Larry Sand, and Katie Grimes join Martha Montelongo, with John Seiler, Managing Editor at CalWatchDog.com, and Ben Boychuk, Associate Editor with City Journal.

Judge Jim Gray authored Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It: A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs.  "It was the culmination of his experience as a former federal prosecutor, defense attorney and trial judge."  We'll speak with Judge Gray about Anaheim, about an important factor  in the legal conflicts between the people of the affected neighborhood of Anaheim and the Anaheim Police Department.

Larry Sand  of CTEN talks with us about a racket teachers in CA use to hike their pay regardless of whether or not they hike their skills or achievements as teachers.

Katy Grimes of CalWatchDog talks about the investigative reporting she's done recently, to uncover millions of dollars of stashed away taxpayer dollars.  While the State of CA cries poverty and threatens to shut down parks, cut vital services and cut back university and K-12 funding, agencies have been hoarding and doling out millions of dollars, like slush funds.

Tune in LIVE at 10:00 a.m. PDT on CRNtalk.com on CRN 1 or on USTREAM TV's CRNStudioLive!"

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Related Links:

Parks Dept. corruption not isolated
July 27, 2012 By Katy Grimes

The recent scandal inside of the State Parks and Recreation Department is no surprise to anyone, but the levels of corruption, schemes and deceit, is. The agency director, Ruth Coleman, resigned. But as she r…

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Jim Gray: Libertarian vice presidential candidate visits Alaska

Jim Gray: Libertarian vice presidential candidate visits Alaska
Alaska Dispatch
The Libertarian Party finally has two respectable candidates for the presidential ticket, including veep hopeful Jim Gray, who was in Alaska this July 4 week, trying to get the word out.
See all stories on this topic »


The Ron Paul and Gary Johnson Conundrum | Peace . Gold . Liberty ...

The Ron Paul and Gary Johnson Conundrum | Peace . Gold . Liberty ...
Permalink. Judge Jim Gray is a very nice person and principled advocate for liberty. I believe he has a book out also. —. Support freedom and liberty candidates, ...
www.dailypaul.com/.../the-ron-paul-and-gary-johnson-conun...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Jim Gray, the former Orange County Superior Court judge and the Libertarian Party's

Wednesday's Calendar
Daily Pilot
Jim Gray, the former Orange County Superior Court judge and the Libertarian Party's nominee for vice president, takes part in an online town hall meeting, which will also feature Rob Kampia, co-founder and executive director of the Marijuana Policy ...

http://www.dailypilot.com/entertainment/tn-dpt-0613-calendar-20120612,0,392012.story

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Judge Jim Gray On the campaign trail, May 2012

On the campaign trail, May 2012
Wikinews
After the Libertarian Party nominated former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson for president at May's Libertarian National Convention, upon Johnson's request, the party selected Judge Jim Grayof California for Vice President to complete the ticket.
See all stories on this topic »

Friday, June 1, 2012

Thursday, May 31, 2012

It's time for Californians to get smart on crime, and put the war on drugs behind them.

It's time for Californians to get smart on crime, and put the war on drugs behind them.

California can no longer afford to continue locking up thousands of people each year and branding them "felon" for life simply for possessing a small amount of illicit drugs for personal use. The waste of valuable resources and human life is far too great. For low-level drug offenders, treatment – not incarceration – is the most effective crime prevention. 

State Senator Mark Leno is sponsoring Senate Bill 1506 to revise the penalty for the simple drug possession under state law from a felony to a misdemeanor. This bill will be voted on today or tomorrow in the CA Senate. So, please take a few minutes to write your State Senator today. The legislation will free up funding that can be used effectively to help more people get the treatment they need. It will help to improve safety and relieve overcrowding in California jails and prisons. It will also remove barriers to community reintegration efforts that work against sobriety and public safety.

Tell your California State Senator to support SB 1506 for meaningful drug law reform in California today! 

Sincerely,

Devon Tackels

Regional Outreach Coordinator
Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Monday, May 28, 2012

Judge Jim Gray 2012 Vice President Nomination Speech.

Preserving Freedom: Judge Jim Gray VP Nomination Speech
Judge Jim Gray VP Nomination Speech. Libertarian Vice President nominee Judge Jim Grayspeaking at the Libertarian National Convention, May 5, 2012.
rongstad.blogspot.com/.../judge-jim-gray-vp-nomination-spee...

War on Drugs

Barack Obama drug warrior, Clarence Aaron collateral damage
San Francisco Chronicle (blog)
This story provides another example of how Barack Obama is worse in the war on drugs than George W. Bush. Pardon expert/blogger extraordinaire PS Ruckman alerted me to this MSNBC appearance in which former pardon attorney Sam Morison talks about how ...
See all stories on this topic »
Women on the rise in Mexican drug cartels
Bangkok Post
The high mortality rate in Mexico's drug war has seen women progress quickly in the shadowy underworld of the cartels and they are increasingly taking on key management roles, a new book says. Mexican Army soldiers guard Irasema Lopez Garza, ...
See all stories on this topic »
NARCOTICS: CIA-Pentagon Death Squads and Mexico's 'War on Drugs"
Center for Research on Globalization
In the context of the misbegotten "War on Drugs," that "client" is the US government and the nexus of bent banks, crooked cops, shady airplane brokers, chemical manufacturers, and spooky defense and surveillance firms who all profit from the chaos they ...
See all stories on this topic »

Center for Research on Globalization
Gone but not forgotten: Hampton hosts Memorial Day ceremony
Seacoastonline.com
"Chief Maloney was killed in action in the war on drugs," Fatello said. "The Global War on Terrorism and the global war on drugs are closely related. The sales of these dangerous drugs help finance the war on terror." The American Legion also paid a ...
See all stories on this topic »
Sasquatch! 2012: The War On Drugs
SSG Music
The War On Drugs took on the Bigfoot stage at Sasquatch! with a blend of folk/mountain music approached from a riff-heavy rock/shoegaze approach. The War On Drugs are a band that falls easily in line with both riff-rock and folk-rock traditions.
See all stories on this topic »

SSG Music
Sinaloa cartel, Zetas push Mexico's drug violence to new depths
Los Angeles Times
(Alexandre Meneghini, Associated Press / May 21, 2012) By Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times CULIACAN, Mexico — The cartel henchman nicknamed "El Loco" was reported behind the latest atrocity in Mexico's ever-more-depraved drug war: mutilating 49 ...
See all stories on this topic »
Establishment on a Witch Hunt?
Tenth Amendment Center
... civil liberty violating aspects of the Patriot Act and presidential war power abuses, not to mention an unconstitutional federal "War on Drugs" that cages millions of minorities and criminalizes thousands of people simply seeking some pain relief.
See all stories on this topic »
Going beyond scandal to substance
Trinidad & Tobago Express
Recently, many national leaders and citizens have joined the list of strident critics of the "war on drugs" approach. Clearly, the "war" cannot be won. Guatemala's President, Otto PĂ©rez Molina, has even advocated legalising drug consumption and ...
See all stories on this topic »
At the heart of American justice (Part I)
allvoices
The grisly War on Drugs is, perhaps, the pinnacle example of policy adoption to augment imprisonment of civilians. Despite a glaring report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which condemned the drug war as utterly counterproductive, ...
See all stories on this topic »
If you're using illegal drugs, you're accessory to murder
Mansfield News Journal
Then I suspect that many of these same concerned citizens go on home, kick back and light up a joint or maybe they even might lay out a line of coke or some other drug of choice. The war on drugs will not succeed until the demand for drugs in this ...
See all stories on this topic »

Friday, May 25, 2012

Press Conference with Judge Jim Gray, LP Vice Presidential ...

Press Conference with Judge Jim Gray, LP Vice Presidential ...
Libertarian Vice Presidential Candidate To Appear in Oakland on Thursday Anti- Drug-War Message Bolstered by New Nationwide Poll WHEN: Thursday May ...
www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=408951355811766

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Contra Costa Libertarians Present Vice Presidential Candidate ...

Contra Costa Libertarians Present Vice Presidential Candidate ...
This will be a great opportunity to meet "The Next Vice President of The United States" Judge Jim Gray. Meet and socialize with other Libertarians and Liberty ...
www.dailypaul.com/.../contra-costa-libertarians-present-vice-p...
Marijuana Support Given By Superior USA Court Judge James P. Gray
Vaporizing Marijuana has been known to PREVENT LUNG CANCER Vaporizing means there is ...
www.youtube.com/watch?v=iF1YUnrLp-0

Judge Jim Gray, Libertarian VP candidate, to speak and get stroked ...

Judge Jim Gray, Libertarian VP candidate, to speak and get stroked ...
Posted in: "The OC" , 2012 Presidential Elections , Bowers Museum , Fresh Juice , Judge Jim Gray , libertarian party , liberty , marijuana legalization , Santa Ana ...
www.topix.com/forum/city/santa-ana.../T6LAR3OL9U1RF5BI...
First Judge Jim Gray Rally Saturday, May 12 2012 | SBCLP.org
JUDGE JIM GRAY HONORED AS LIBERTARIAN PARTY VP NOMINEE Returned Home to Orange County for Saturday Rally Fresh from winning the Vice ...
www.sbclp.org/node/972

Judge Jim Gray (L-CA) Homecoming - 2012 Libertarian Party VP ...


Judge Jim Gray (L-CA) Homecoming - 2012 Libertarian Party VP ...
Judge Jim Gray, 2012 Libertarian Party Nominee for Vice President, Speaks at Homecoming ...
www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-JDcA2hD00

Gary Johnson and Judge Jim Gray could catch presidential race by surprise

Gary Johnson could catch presidential race by surprise

To date, Johnson has been polling between 6 and 9 percent nationally – several points shy of what he needs.

Johnson, a Republican who served as governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003, is running on a platform that includes slashing government spending to balance the federal budget by 2013, ending wars the U.S. in involved in, and drug reform --  beginning with the legalization of marijuana but extending all the way to the war on drugs, drug policy, relations with Latin America, and even law enforcement policies and priorities-- issues that neither of the two major candidates President Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are pursuing right now.  

Blog | MEET LIBERTARIAN VP CANDIDATE JUDGE JIM GRAY!

Judge Jim Gray Homecoming - 2012 Libertarian Party ... - Open Salon
Judge Jim Gray Homecoming - 2012 Libertarian Party VP Nominee On May 12, 2012 Judge Jim Gray, 2012 Libertarian Party Nominee for Vice President at his ...
open.salon.com/.../judge_jim_gray_homecoming_-_2012_lib...
Blog | MEET LIBERTARIAN VP CANDIDATE JUDGE JIM GRAY!
Attention all liberty-lovers! The June meeting of the Ventura County Libertarian Party is one that no freedom advocate will want to miss! Fresh from winning the ...
lpvc.org/2012/.../meet-libertarian-vp-candidate-judge-jim-gra...