Friday, September 02, 2005

August 21, 2005 Discovery Lands!

Dear Sis~

I just watched the space shuttle Discovery return to Cape Canaveral riding piggyback on a Boeing 747. I'm always amazed at that sight, a big old 747 flying with a space shuttle strapped to its back. Who would imagine that that combo would even fly? It took a ballsy engineer to propose that solution to the problem of transporting the shuttle fleet around the country. Can you picture that discussion...a group of areospace engineers sitting around a conference table, trading ideas, and one of them speaks up and says, "Hey, let's just strap that baby onto the back of a 747 and fly it from California to Florida!" And damned if it doesn't work!

A couple of weeks ago Justice John Paul Stevens, who sits on the US Supreme Court, gave a speech to the American Bar Association wherein he was very critical of the death penalty process in America. As a general rule, Supreme Court Justices are very careful and measured with their public statements (in fact, they don't often give speeches or make public statements) and they often use such statements to signal shifts in the Court's thinking. It's sort of like with Alan Greenspan, the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, whose cryptic statements about the nation's financial health are scrutinized like tea leaves by everybody in the financial markets, as they try to discern the hidden meanings of his often enigmatic utterances. Justice O'Connor, for example, during the last several years, went out of her way to make public statements about the abysmal quality of attorneys in most capital cases. (In one speech she basically stated that she'd never seen competent trial counsel in any of the capital cases that had come before the Supreme Court during the 20+ years she was on the bench). Statements like that were significant coming from her because she was a conservative Justice. And, significantly, Justice O'Connor was a key voter in several recent important decisions regarding standards governing the competence of counsel. Anyway, it might be wishful thinking, but I'd like to believe that Justice Stevens' recent stinging criticisms of capital punishment herald some coming favorable decisions. Justice Stevens, by the way, is one of the best Justices on the bench; he's brilliant, fair, judicious and humane. At any rate, there are several capital cases now pending before the Supreme Court which will provide excellent vehicles for the Court to comment on the shortcomings of the death penalty process, if the Court chooses to do so. There's a powerful capital case out of Tennessee, House vs. Bell, involving the issue of "actual innocence", and of course, there is Rob's case (the guy upstairs). And, hopefully, there will also be my own case after October.

Alright, Sis, it's almost time for yard so I'm gonna wrap this up. I'll call you next weekend & you can tell me if you've adopted one of those little lab puppies!
Love & Peace,

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