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The Dobbs Wire:   Window!  The Marshall Project sends out a free daily email that’s a great window into this country’s giant criminal justice system.  Scroll down for a look at today’s Opening Statement!   You can sign up online:     -Bill Dobbs, The Dobbs Wire   If you have something to say or would like to be on The Dobbs Wire list, drop us a line.  Twitter: @thedobbswire


The Marshall Project


Opening Statement
February 17, 2022


Edited by Andrew Cohen




Pick of the News

Insult to injury. Federal prosecutors in six jurisdictions around the country continue to use plea deals to try to preclude prisoners from subsequently seeking “compassionate release” from federal penitentiaries. One federal trial judge in California recently called the Justice Department’s practice “unconscionable” and “inhumane.” On Tuesday, advocacy groups called on the Biden administration to order U.S. attorneys to stop forcing the waiver on defendants, citing the First Step Act. NPR TMP Context: Federal wardens deny compassionate release requests during the pandemic. The Marshall Project

Walter Dellinger, 1941-2022. The renowned legal scholar died in North Carolina on Wednesday. He was a fierce advocate for progressive causes during decades of public service, both before and after he served as acting solicitor general during the Clinton administration. The Associated Press He was also a prodigious mentor to generations of lawyers, law students, judges and government officials. Raleigh News & Observer He also was an early and ardent protester of segregation. The New York Times An appreciation: “Every word he wrote, every speech he gave, was imbued with his own story of growing up in an America that was still straining toward repair.” Slate

A judicial nominee is criticized for helping to free innocent people from prison. Nina Morrison, a top lawyer with The Innocence Project, was blamed for rising crime rates by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and other Republicans during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday. The White House nominated Morrison for a federal trial judgeship in New York. Reuters Related: Before Republicans targeted Morrison, they successfully stymied another judicial nominee. Republican Sen. Ron Johnson opposed a candidate for a federal trial judge post he had previously recommended for his home state of Wisconsin. Courthouse News

The revolution has already come to Shasta County, California. A far-right extremist group won a recall vote earlier this month that gave it effective control over local government in this conservative northern county. They targeted Leonard Moty, a long-serving Republican supervisor and former police chief, whom they branded as a socialist and pedophile. The leaders of the movement are hoping that their success is a model that anti-government forces can emulate in other jurisdictions. Slate More: Call it Sunshine State sedition for Florida’s “Oath Keepers,” both before and after the Capitol riot and insurrection. Miami Herald


“We don’t think that this practice is necessarily limited to San Francisco.” California prosecutors dropped charges against a woman who was arrested after the DNA she had given as a sexual assault victim was used to identify her as a suspect in another case. The New York Times

A handful of Mississippi prison employees now face discipline after failing to immediately report an escape by Michael “Pretty Boy” Floyd Wilson, who is serving a life-without-parole sentence for murder and other crimes. He escaped on Sunday and was captured Tuesday. Mississippi Clarion-Ledger

Eight years after a fatal shooting following a popcorn fight in a Florida movie theater, the gunman — a retired police officer — goes on trial for murder. Citing the state’s broad “stand-your-ground” law, Curtis Reeves says he was acting in self-defense. The Washington Post

“The emails that we receive are heartbreaking.” Conditions have become worse inside the federal prison in Sheridan, Oregon, says a federal public defender in a court filing. Men were forced to drink out of toilets during one recent lockdown, according to the filing. Oregon Public Broadcasting

A city council candidate in Louisville, Kentucky, has been charged with trying to murder a mayoral candidate there. Quintez Brown allegedly shot up Craig Greenberg’s campaign headquarters, grazing the candidate’s shirt. Louisville Courier-Journal


Data only tells you so much. A case about racial disparities in policing in Tennessee illustrates what data can and cannot tell reporters digging into a story. ProPublica

Verify, then trust, when it comes to Trumpist operatives. John Durham, the special prosecutor who thinks former president Donald Trump is a victim of election interference, has lost the benefit of the doubt. New York Magazine More: Does anyone really think that Rudy Giuliani is going to spill the beans about the Capitol insurrection? The New Republic

A modest proposal in New York. Amend the bail law so that illegal possession of a weapon would be a crime for which judges could require cash bail. “There are many reasons that murders are increasing, but bail law is not one of them.” Bloomberg Law

Pick your poison in Texas. The state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, operates under a cloud of criminal allegations, but has Donald Trump’s support. One of his challengers? Rep. Louie Gohmert, a far-right conspiracy theorist. The Bulwark

Police reform from Congress? Great. Fix qualified immunity. Local police gain additional protection against lawsuits for their misconduct when they join federal task forces. USA Today TMP Context: Why some local police departments are leaving federal task forces. The Marshall Project


Will no one rid us of this meddlesome franchise? The television police procedural “Law and Order” is back, new, but not improved when it comes to a nuanced or realistic view of policing. The New York Times

Failure to work” gets you a prison punishment. Colorado prisoners filed a class-action lawsuit this week alleging that state corrections officials are forcing them into prison labor in violation of the state’s anti-slavery law. Colorado Public Radio

A police raid yields a cache of weapons. One father, one son, one Pennsylvania home, 13 illegal machine guns and firearm silencers. Justice Department

Police and sentencing reform only goes so far. Drug arrests stayed high from 2009 to 2019 even as arrests for other crimes dropped sharply. Pew Charitable Trusts

A new documentary (and old film) remembering Wharlest Jackson Sr., a Black husband, father and civil rights activist with a promising future — until he was killed in a bomb blast in Natchez, Mississippi in 1967. The murder and act of terrorism has gone unsolved. PBS


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