Sonia Sotomayor Takes On the Criminal Justice System

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has written many dissents this year on cases involving the Criminal Justice system. Taken together, they appear to be a remarkable body of work from an increasingly skeptical student on the criminal justice system. The major dissent written was for the case Utah v. Streiff. In this case, a police officer stopped a man for no reason and arrested him on an outstanding warrant, finding illegal drugs in the search and arrest process. The Court ruled that the drugs found were admissible evidence in the case, but Sotomayor dissented. “What stops us,” she asked, “from becoming a police state and just having the police stand on the corner down here and stop every person, ask them for identification, put it through, and, if a warrant comes up, searching them?” In a town like Ferguson, where 80 percent of residents have minor traffic warrants, the potential for a de-facto police state has been created.

Cite: Adam Liptak, The New York Times, 4/4/2016


The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC specialize in the field of Criminal Defense and we work actively to promote Criminal Defense Reform. Call our Denver office today for a free consultation.

Colorado Public Defenders Spent $6.3 Million on Failed Death Penalty Cases

Over the past 13 years, the Colorado Public Defender’s office has spend a combined $6.3 million on death penalty cases. From 2002-2015 Public Defenders handled 10 cases in which an intent to seek the death penalty was filed. The two most recent cases were for James Holmes, and Dexter Lewis. Both men were spared the Death Penalty and were instead sentenced to life in prison. Of the $6.3 million spent, $4.3 was spent in salaries related to handling the death penalty. While I applaud the hard work demonstrated by the Colorado State Public Defender’s Office, they were forced into these expenses by the Prosecutor’s offices refusing to accept life in prison sentences.

This cost is a burden to the tax payers and citizens of the State. Missing from that $6.3 million is the cost of incarceration during trial, and any money spent on the prosecution for those 10 trials. That money could have been used in many other, more productive ways. Instead, it was spent on the idea that the State should take more lives after such tragedies.  Time and time again, criminologists have proven that the Death Penalty is not a crime deterrent. In fact, most individuals contemplate their demise before the commission of such heinous acts; drug dealers may be killed by rivals or shooters will likely be killed by the police. This money was spent re-actively instead of pro-actively.  The money spent on these trials would have had a better return on investment for the taxpayers if it was used proactively to improve our mental health system, drug and alcohol recovery programs and other community projects designed to reduce future crime. The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani specialize in the area of Criminal Defense. Call our Denver office today for a Free Consultation.

Cite: Jordan Steffen, The Denver Post, 12/01/0215


Aurora Theater Shooter: Diabolic Killer or Mentally Ill Madman

There is no question who committed the Aurora Theater Massacre. The only questions remaining is the mental state of the defendant at the time and whether or not he should be put to death.  James Holmes’ personal spiral notebook is being examined by Prosecutors and Defense lawyers in this death penalty case. The notebook contains a plan for a “mass murder spree” which considers theaters and times to attack for “maximum casualties”. The notebook also contains some hints to James Holmes mental condition including multiple pages filled with the words “Why?” Prosecutors in this case are trying to argue that Holmes intentionally planned and executed a heinous attack on civilians. This theory is backed up by a court-ordered examination by psychiatrist Dr. William Reid. Reid states that “Whatever he suffered from, it did not prevent him from forming the intent and knowing what he was doing and the consequences of what he was doing.” The defense is arguing that the notebook shows a man who was delusional and intent to call their own experts who will argue Mr. Holmes was in a state of “florid psychosis” the night of the shootings. The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani specialize in Colorado criminal defense. If you have been charged with a crime, call our office today for a free consultation.

Cite: Jack Healy, The New York Time, May 28, 2015


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