Monday, May 24, 2010

Killer of Three Black College Students Convicted

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, The Institute for Black Public Policy

Nearly three years ago, two black college students and a friend were murdered in a schoolyard in Newark, NJ. Monday, a jury returned guilty verdicts for three of the murders and one attempted murder after deliberating for less than a day.
Rodolfo Godinez, a 26-year old gang member and native of Nicaragua, was convicted of all charges against him, including multiple counts of robbery, weapons possession and conspiracy. He can get up to 30 years to life for each murder count, and the sentences can be given out consecutively.
"This man will never see the light of day," said Robert D. Laurino, the acting Essex County prosecutor.
Sentencing for Godinez is set for July 8. His lawyer, Roy Greenman, said,"Obviously, there will be an appeal on a number of grounds," but he declined to state the grounds on which he'd be filing.
The prosecution did not assert that Godinez was the one who hacked at the victims with a machete or shot each of them execution-style, in the back of the head. He was argued, however, to be the one who summoned the other gang members to the schoolyard on the night when the murders took place. The murders were particularly chilling because all four of the victims were "good kids" with no criminal history and educational plans for the future.

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

32 States Have Borrowed from the Federal Government to Make Unemployment Payments; California Has Borrowed $7 Billion

"And California, via Los Angeles, is complaining about Arizona immigration law? At least Arizona is not BORROWING MONEY FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT to pay for unemployment benefits." - Syreeta L. McNeal, CPA, JD has learned that 32 states have run out funds to make unemployment benefit payments and that the federal government has been supplying these states with funds so that they can make their payments to the unemployed. In some cases, states have borrowed billions. As of May 20, the total balance outstanding by 32 states (and the Virgin Islands) is $37.8 billion.The state of California has borrowed $6.9 billion. Michigan has borrowed $3.9 billion, Illinois $2.2 billion.Below is the full list of the 32 states (and the Virgin Islands) that have borrowed from the federal government to make unemployment payments, and the amounts that remain borrowed as of May 20 . (Numbers in red are billions)

Alabama $ 283 million
Arkansas 330 million
California 6.9 billion
Colorado 253 million
Connecticut 498 million
Delaware 12 million
Florida 1.6 billion
Georgia 416 million
Idaho 202 million
Illinois 2.2 billion
Indiana 1.7 billion
Kansas 88 million
Kentucky 795 million
Maryland 133 million
Mass. 387 million
Michigan 3.9 billion
Minnesota 477 million
Missouri 722 million
Nevada 397 million
New Jersey 1.7 billion
New York 3.2 billion
N.C. 2.1 billion
Ohio 2.3 billion
Penn. 3.0 billion
R.I. 225 million
S.C. 886 million
S.D. 24 million
Tennessee 21 million
Texas 1.0 billion
Vermont 33 million
Virginia 346 million
Virgin Islands 13 million
Wisconsin 1.4 billion
Total $37.8 billion


Nicole Paultre-Bell: Judge Rules Sean Bell Lawsuit Can Proceed To Trial

The fiancé of Sean Bell, the unarmed man gunned down on his wedding day by New York police, will finally have her day in court now that a judge will allow her civil rights case against the NYPD to proceed to trial.

A federal court judge ruled Tuesday to allow Nicole Paultre-Bell and two of Bell’s friends injured in the shooting, to have a trial for a wrongful death lawsuit filed for Bell’s 2008 murder.

City officials were once again asking for a three-month delay on the ruling because police officials have still not decided whether to discipline the five officers involved in the shooting.

Luckily for Nicole Paultre-Bell, Judge Sterling Johnson Jr. stepped in and the trial is scheduled to begin in July.

The news of the impending trial came at a particularly ironic time, the day after Sean Bell’s would be 27th birthday and the day a street in Jamaica, Queens was named Sean Bell Way in his honor.

As previously reported the Justice Department ruled in February that the officers did not violate his civil rights and lacked evidence to prove that they violated his constitutional rights.


Monday, May 17, 2010

News: Attorney Says Police Are Covering Up Shooting Facts

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, AOL Black Voices

The attorney representing the family of Aiyana Jones, a 7-year old who was shot dead during a police raid, says police are trying to cover up the truth about exactly what happened. Geoffrey Fieger, the attorney for Aiyana's family, said he's seen three or four minutes of video footage of the raid and claims that the video evidence contradicts what the officers say happened at the scene.
Police are saying that officers threw a flash grenade through the first-floor window of the two-family home and that the girl was killed when an officer's gun accidentally discharged during a struggle with the girl's grandmother inside the house. Fieger argues, however, that the evidence shows an officer throwing the grenade into the home and then shooting into the house from the front porch.
Prior reports from Detroit Police were claiming that Aiyana was shot by a stray bullet from a firearm that accidentally discharged during a scuffle with the child's grandmother. But Attorney Fieger is saying that this is not the case.


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SCOTUS: Sex Offenders Can Be Held Indefinitely

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

The United State Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the federal government has the right and power to keep sex offenders incarcerated after they've served their sentences. To keep him/her, the government must prove that the the offender may be "sexually dangerous" in the future.

"The federal government, as custodian of its prisoners, has the constitutional power to act in order to protect nearby (and other) communities from the danger such prisoners may pose," Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the opinion for the majority.The primary plantiff in the case, Graydon Comstock, was certified to be dangerous six days before his prison term was set to end. Comstock had been arrested for processing child pornography and was filing suit with other inmates at the Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina.


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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mass Incarceration Remains a Problem here in the US

U.S. incarceration rates by race graph

News: Is Elena Kagan Gay? Supporters Say She is

Elena Kagan's supporters don't do her or gay Americans any favors by publicly expressing their views on her sexual orientation. Whether or not a future justice is a heterosexual or homosexual is irrelevant to questions about fitness to serve on the Supreme Court. That there are some bigoted Americans who would make sexual orientation an issue is no reason to grant them any legitimacy, which occurs when their perverse and offensive interests are addressed. The proper response is to treat the question of sexual orientation as the non-issue that it is and place the burden on the bigots to make their case in the public square… if they dare.


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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Elena Kagan's Nomination Overlooks Black Women

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University

To the disappointment of the Black Women's Roundtable, Elena Kagan was the latest white American to leapfrog in front of black women for a chance to serve on the Supreme Court. The second-class citizenship of African American women has been consistently enforced by our nation, going back 221 years to the date that the Supreme Court was founded. This nomination was especially disheartening for those who felt that the year of Dorothy Height's death would be the perfect time for the nation's first black President to do what should have been done long ago and nominate a black woman for the highest court in the land.

"Needless to say, we are disconcerted by the perceived lack of real consideration of any of the extremely qualified African American women as potential nominees," reads the statement released by the Black Women's Roundtable.
After this is over, President Barack Obama will have serious trouble re-inspiring the millions of African American women who left the Hillary Clinton camp to back his "Hope and change" campaign. There was no logical reason for him to pass over a black woman for consideration for this post, only political reasons. Kagan was the nominee that could shore up the white female vote for mid-term elections and help the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party stop the bleeding set to occur in November. Roland Martin does a wonderful job of breaking down the losses within the black female demographic that are set to occur as a result of the Kagan snub on the Supreme Court.


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Elena Kagan's Cultural Competence Questioned - Duchess Harris

No one is more delighted than I am that esteemed presidential historian, Annette Gordon- Reed will join the faculty at Harvard Law School. Despite the fact that she was recruited by then Dean Elena Kagan, I respectfully disagree with Charles Ogletree that Elena Kagan is a good choice for the Supreme Court.

Ogletree argues that from 2003 until the end of Kagan's deanship in 2009, the number of African American students matriculating rose to an all time high. I am sure this is accurate, but how relevant is it?

Do these numbers speak to the quality and caliber of student life? Are Harvard graduates fully engaged and can they provide an effective and vigorous understanding with matters pertaining to race? Or, are they merely defenders and justifiers of the status quo?

I suggest that Professor Ogletree look at the April 30, 2010 blog post written by Diane Lucas. Ms. Lucas was a guest blogger for FEMINISTE and authored a piece entitled, "The Racist Breeding Grounds of Harvard Law School". Lucas wrote this article to discuss the racist behavior of Stephanie Grace, a graduating student, and to discuss her own experience as a Black student at HLS. Lucas critiqued Kagan's leadership before she knew that Kagan was the U.S. Supreme Court nominee.


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African American Women Don't like Elena Kagan on Supreme Court

E KaganFrom Politic 365: The announcement of Elena Kagan could not really be called a surprise, since the White House went out of its way to all but announce her as their pick over the last week. The Obama Administration dropped hints by the dozens to their favored reporters, who dutifully shared their information with the rest of us. I had come to accept it as a done deal, even though I had been a little perturbed at the way the D.C. pundits only mentioned three or four names from the president's short list, as if the rest of the names on it, like Georgia's ownLeah Ward Sears, were invisible.

It wasn't until I called a friend of mine, an African American lawyer here in Atlanta who had been a diehard Hillary supporter and then a reluctant Barack Obama supporter after he became the Democratic nominee, that I realized that others felt the same way. "First he puts a Hispanic woman on the court. Fine. He's paying back the Hispanics for their support," she said. "Then he puts a white woman on the court. Okay – he's paying them back for coming over to his side after Hillary lost. I see that.

But why do I have to be last? Why do black women always have to be last? I don't think he cares."
Where are the Sistahs? See Politic365 to find out

Friday, May 14, 2010

Legal News: Dr. Boyce Watkins Debates Harvard Law Professor Ronald Sullivan

Dr. Boyce Watkins

Dr. Boyce Watkins

Author and Finance Professor at Syracuse University

Kagan's record on race has White House on edge

4:33 PM on 05/14/2010

OPINION - If Kagan didn't have the courage to stand up against injustice at Harvard Law School, what makes us think she will on the Supreme Court?...


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Why Elena Kagan is No Thurgood Marshall



Obama’s second Supreme Court nominee clerked for one of history’s greatest racial justice champions. You wouldn’t know it by looking at her career since.

Despite all the hubbub Solicitor General Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination will generate, the truth of the matter is Kagan won’t make much difference to a judicial balance of power that leans rightward. She’ll maintain the status quo: four reliably liberal justices, four reliably conservative justices and one center-right swing voter in Justice Anthony Kennedy. Importantly, that means she will also do little to alter the court’s rightward trajectory on racial justice.

Both Kagan and the White House have made much of her time as a clerk for her self-described mentor, Thurgood Marshall. The hapless Republican National Committee has responded with a bizarre effort to tar her association with one of history’s most celebrated justices. But both sides overstate the connection. Kagan hasn't exactly spent her career as a champion of the racial justice principles Marshall articulated. We need to be asking why that’s the case.

As a Democratic president’s nominee, to be confirmed by a Democratic Senate, we can expect a would-be Justice Kagan to align herself consistently with the liberal voting bloc. After all, today’s Supreme Court appointments rarely let down the presidents who nominate them. Sure, David Souter—whom a wise Latina replaced last summer—was the bane of George H.W. Bush’s existence because of his pro-choice opinions. And retiring Justice John Paul Stevens certainly grew, during his three and a half decades on the court, to become a disappointment for President Gerald Ford’s legacy. I just don’t see that happening to our current constitutional-law-professor president.  

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

African American Scholars Speaking Up on Elena Kagan

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

I started the day thinking about Elena Kagan, Barack Obama's most recent nominee to the Supreme Court. I was wondering how in the world the president could appoint someone who has no experience on the bench, given the number of highly qualified judges he had to choose from. Then I was informed that this might be a good thing, since the Republicans don't have a judicial record to scrutinize. No problemo.

I then noticed that Kagan has past affiliations with The University of Chicago, The Harvard Law School and Goldman Sachs, and that she was appointed to her position at Harvard by Lawrence Summers, the head of the President's Council of Economic Advisors. I was starting to get uncomfortable at that point, because Kagan's appointment would mean that the entire Supreme Court would be filled with Harvard and Yale grads, which effectively says that every other law school in the country need not apply (so much for having a meritocracy). I also saw a very disturbing pattern of cronyism, elitism and Wall Street loyalty that lets us know that perhaps the President of Hope and Change is not quite what we ordered, making back room deals with his buddies, all for the sake of keeping American power locked into tiny social circles.

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Reports: Lawrence Taylor will use the "masturbation defense"

REPORT: Lawrence Taylor Will Use “Masturbation Defense” In Rape Case

Read more about REPORT: Lawrence Taylor Will Use “Masturbation Defense” In Rape Case

TAGS: Lawrence Taylor, Masturbation, rape

Black Law Professors disturbed by Elena Kagan's Nomination by Obama

AP photo/Jose Luis Magana

Reports suggest that Solicitor General Elena Kagan may be President Obama's choice for the Supreme Court vacancy.

Like everyone in the legal academy over the last decade, we have watched with admiration the amazing changes that Elena Kagan brought to Harvard Law School. A fractured faculty, divided among ideological lines, seemed finally content, if not united. A boisterous student body was finally pacified. The logjam that had stopped faculty hiring had burst. Indeed, she hired so many new faculty the Harvard Law School’s newspaper’s 2008 April Fool’s issue declared, "Dean Kagan Hires Every Law Professor in the Country."

The first woman Dean of Harvard Law School had presided over an unprecedented expansion of the faculty -- growing it by almost a half. She had hired 32 tenured and tenure-track academic faculty members (non-clinical, non-practice). But when we sat down to review the actual record, we were frankly shocked. Not only were there shockingly few people of color, there were very few women. Where were the people of color? Where were the women? Of these 32 tenured and tenure-track academic hires, only one was a minority. Of these 32, only seven were women. All this in the 21st Century.


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Monday, May 3, 2010

Athletes Get Nothing from NCAA's New $11 Billion Dollar Contract

The NCAA men's basketball tournament is expanding, starting next season, but not on the large scale once expected.

The sport's signature event will grow to 68 teams from 65 in conjunction with a new 14-year, nearly $11 billion television agreement with CBS and Turner Sports announced Thursday. That gives the NCAA a 41% hike in annual media and marketing rights connected to the tournament — and "financial stability through the first quarter of this century," interim President Jim Isch said — without the controversy of a more dramatic move to a 96-team bracket.

Negotiations with CBS/Turner, ESPN and Fox Sports initially had targeted a 96-team field, drawing concern and criticism from traditionalists and others over the impact on the tournament's aesthetics, effect on college basketball's regular season and conference tournaments and potential for further intrusion on players' time and studies.


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