I've been trying to think of some thematic way to yoke together two altogether distinct things, one Texan, one from Ohio. I can think of but one, and that's so offensive even to my cynical and not-easily-offended mind that I won't go there.
So one post with two topics. All they have in common is that Thursday, February 17, three days from today, is the end for each.
So, and choosing at random which comes first.
Listen up. If you are licensed to practice law in Texas, and if you haven't already voted NO on the referendum regarding changes to the disciplinary rules, please do it today. Voting ends Thursday, February 17, at 5 p.m. Central Time.
And if you know someone who's licensed in Texas, encourage that person to vote NO. And to do it now.
Don't just take my word for it that the changes are a bad idea. (And please, don't just listen to the State Bar of Texas that proposed them and thinks they're the bee's knees because, frankly it's hard to see just why even when they try to explain it.)
If you're unsure, read what Texas lawyers Mark Bennett and Paul Kennedy have to say. (And they've quoted and linked to lots of others.)
Get with the program.
Vote Now. Vote No.
The hiatus is about to end. On Thursday, February 17, at 10 a.m. Eastern Time, the killing resumes.
His name is Frank Spisak. The State of Ohio intends to murder him because murder is wrong and he murdered three people.
I wrote about Spisak a couple of weeks ago. His case is a pretty good example of how the law is out of touch with reality.
He was represented incompetently. The jury was given improper instructions about how to decide whether he should be sentenced to death or life in prison. He's crazy as a bedbug, and clearly was at the time of the killings and the time of the trial.
None of those things mattered because the legal standards as they've developed (in part at the Supreme Court in Smith v. Spisak, a case overruling the 6th Circuit), over the years say they don't. His lawyers weren't bad enough. The jury instruction error is of no legal consequence. He may be crazy, but legal crazy is something different.
Of course, some people think the legal standards are just fine. Over at Crime and Consequences Kent Scheidegger and Bill Otis will happily expound on why Spisak should be killed and the legal standards are way too generous to the criminally accused, convicted, and sentenced. It is, as they say, a free country.
But you know, if they needed a lawyer (even for a civil case) they wouldn't want to be represented as incompetently as Spisak was. They'd want the jury to get the right instructions. And whatever they might say about legal standards, if it came right down to it, they'd probably agree that Spisak was nuts.
It's just that they're fine with killing Spisak anyway.
We know the courts are. We know the Parole Board is. And for maybe the last word, so is Governor Kasich.
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Thursday, February 17. Texas and Ohio.