TIME justice

Judge Tosses Teen’s Murder Conviction 70 Years After His Execution

George Stinney Jr appears in an undated police booking photo provided by the South Carolina Department of Archives and History
George Stinney Jr appears in an undated police booking photo provided by the South Carolina Department of Archives and History. Reuters

George Stinney Jr. was convicted of killing two girls in the small town of Alcolu, South Carolina, in 1944

Seventy years after South Carolina executed a 14-year-old boy so small he sat on a phone book in the electric chair, a circuit court judge threw out his murder conviction.

On Wednesday morning, Judge Carmen Mullins vacated the decision against George Stinney Jr., a black teen who was convicted of beating two young white girls to death in the small town of Alcolu in 1944.

Read more American Held in Cuba Released After 5 Years

Civil rights advocates have spent years trying to get the case reopened, arguing that Stinney’s confession was coerced. At the time of his arrest, Stinney weighed just 95 pounds. Officials said Stinney had admitted beating the girls…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME intelligence

Attorney General Allows Limited Subpoena of New York Times Journalist

A man crosses the Central Intelligence A
A man crosses the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) logo in the lobby of CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on August 14, 2008. Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images

Attorney General Eric Holder has given federal prosecutors permission to subpoena New York Times reporter James Risen for some information regarding his connection to a former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Though New York Times reporter James Risen has been adamant about not revealing his sources and the Department of Justice indicated last week it would not force the Pulitzer Prize winner to reveal who his sources were, prosecutors announced Tuesday they will be seeking his testimony in the case of Jeffery Sterling.

The Department of Justice charged Sterling, a former agent, of unlawfully obtaining documents and spilling national secrets in 2010, and subsequently accused him of being a source in Risen’s 2006 book State of War.

Information regarding confidentiality agreements for Risen’s book, whether articles and chapters from his book, “accurately reflect information provided to him by his source (or sources), that statements attributed to an unnamed source were, in fact, made by an unnamed source, and that statements attributed to an identified source were, in fact, made by an identified source” will be sought during the trial, scheduled to begin on Jan. 12.

According to a court filing, prosecutors needed approval in regard to the subpoena given new Department of Justice guidelines on seeking information from the news media. The guidance, issued in July, provides some protection from members of the media in civil and criminal proceedings. The guidance came following scandals involving the DOJ seizing phone records and emails of reporters from the Associated Press and Fox News.

Media organizations and advocacy groups including the Newspaper Association of America have been calling on Congress to pass a law that would protect journalists from having to reveal their confidential sources in criminal and civil proceedings without having to face legal consequences.

A federal judge in Virginia requested last week that the federal attorneys come to a clear decision on whether or not they would subpoena Risen by Tuesday.

Requests for comment from Risen’s attorneys were not immediately answered.

TIME justice

Bill Clinton Says Eric Garner ‘Didn’t Deserve to Die’

The Thelonius Monk Jazz Trumpet Competition And All Star Gala Concert
Bill Clinton speaks onstage during The Thelonius Monk Jazz Trumpet Competition and All Star Gala concert held at Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. on Nov. 9, 2014. Michael Tran—FilmMagic/Getty Images

“He was selling untaxed cigarettes on the street in small volumes, trying to make a little extra money."

Former President Bill Clinton is set to address the Eric Garner case in a Tuesday interview with cable TV channel Fusion, saying that the unarmed black man from Staten Island, N.Y. did not deserve to die for allegedly selling cigarettes on the street.

“He was doing something he should not have been doing. That was illegal,” Clinton said during the interview. “He was selling untaxed cigarettes on the street in small volumes, trying to make a little extra money. But he didn’t deserve to die because of that.”

Clinton spoke to Fusion during the Clinton Foundation’s “Future of the Americas” summit in Miami last week. Protests have continued in the days since a New York City grand jury opted not to indict a white police officer who subdued Garner in what appeared to be a chokehold, leading to his eventual death. The officer, Daniel Pantaleo, has denied using a chokehold.

Read more Selma Cast and Crew Wear ‘I Can’t Breathe’ Shirts to New York Premiere

Over the weekend, thousands of protestors took to the streets in Washington, D.C. and New York to show their discontent with the way police often treat brown and black people.

Clinton added there are “preconceptions wired into us and we have got to get beyond them,” when talking about race relations in America.

The full interview is set to air on Tuesday at 10p.m.

[Fusion]

Read next: Poll: 57% of Americans Say Grand Jury Wrong Not to Indict Cop in Garner Case

TIME Crime

Thousands Rally Against Police Brutality in Washington and New York City

In Washington, DC, New York City and around the country, Americans staged protests over the deaths of unarmed citizens by police

Demonstrators numbering in the tens of thousands marched on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and in New York City on Saturday, as well as other cities across the U.S., to protest the killings of unarmed black men by police officers.

In the nation’s capital, the families of black men killed by police, including relatives of Staten Island resident Eric Garner, Ferguson, Mo. teenager Michael Brown, and Cleveland, Ohio 12-year-0ld Tamir Rice and others, joined civil rights groups and other demonstrators at the Justice For All march. The marchers called for an end to police killings and for law enforcement who kill unarmed citizens to be held to account for their actions.

In New York City, protestors held signs featuring the words “I am Eric Garner” and chanted what has become a rallying cry of the movement to end police killings of unarmed black men: “Hands up/Don’t shoot.” Andre Irving, 31 and black, attended the rally with his father Mark Irving, 57. “I’m worried for my safety, the safety of my family, my friends, my neighbors,” he told TIME. “Can I go to the store and walk home without being killed?”

Eva Osborne, 8, wore a pin featuring the words “I can’t breathe,” some of the last words Eric Garner spoke before he dies in a video of his arrest, and a phrase that has also been used as a rallying call. “I have a black brother and a black dad,” she said. Her brother is five, her father 43, the same age as Eric Garner. “When my brother grows up, he might be treated the same way.”

Police declined to estimate the size of the ground in Washington, the New York Times reports, but media estimates place the size of the crowd in the tens of thousands. Police in New York City estimated the crowd size at roughly 12,000.

The protests mark a new level of civil action in weeks of sometimes violent unrest around the country, as citizens erupted in mass outrage after no charges were brought against police officers responsible for killing Brown, an unarmed teenager shot by police in Ferguson, and Garner, an unarmed Staten Island man who died after being aggressively subdued by police during his arrest for illegally selling cigarettes on the street.

The Justice For All march in Washington was spearheaded by the National Action Network led by Al Sharpton. Some demonstrators, expressing disdain at those they considered celebrity protestors, disrupted the proceedings at a pre-march rally, The Washington Post reports.

TIME intelligence

Scalia Defends CIA Tactics After Torture Report

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia waits for the beginning of the taping of "The Kalb Report" on April 17, 2014 at the National Press Club in Washington.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia waits for the beginning of the taping of "The Kalb Report" on April 17, 2014 at the National Press Club in Washington. Alex Wong—Getty Images

The conservative Supreme Court justice says sometimes it might be necessary

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said in a new interview that the use of harsh interrogation techniques now widely condemned as torture might not be unconstitutional.

The 78-year-old jurist, part of the court’s conservative wing, said the there’s nothing in the constitution that prohibits harsh treatment of terror suspects.

His remarks came during an interview with a Swiss radio station that aired Thursday, the Associated Press reports. They followed the release of a Senate report the faulted the CIA for lying to the Bush White House and to Congress about the methods and their effectiveness.

MORE: What the torture report reveals about Zero Dark Thirty

Scalia pointed to the oft-cited “ticking time bomb” argument, saying it would be difficult to rule out the use of torture to get information from terror suspects if millions of lives were at stake, and said he doesn’t “think it’s so clear at all” that such tactics should be prohibited in all cases.

[AP]

TIME justice

Mark Wahlberg’s Victim Says the Actor Should Get a Pardon

The Vietnamese man a 16-year-old Wahlberg attacked says he wasn’t blinded in the assault

A Vietnamese man who was brutally attacked by a 16-year-old Mark Wahlberg in 1988 says that contrary to some press reports he wasn’t blinded in the assault and he believes the actor should receive a pardon.

“He did hurt me, but my left eye was already gone,” Johnny Trinh told the Daily Mail. “He was not responsible for that. I would like to see him get a pardon. He should not have the crime hanging over him any longer.”

In 1988, Wahlberg attacked and hurled racial slurs at Trinh and another man during an attempted street robbery in Boston.

Trinh, 59, says his left eye was blinded in a grenade attack while he was serving in the South Vietnamese army during the Vietnam War. After the war Trinh sought refuge in the United States.

Wahlberg, 16 at the time of the assault, served 45 days of a two-year prison sentence. After runaway success as an model, singer and actor, Wahlberg is seeking a pardon for crimes he committed as a juvenile.

[Daily Mail]

Read next: Mark Wahlberg Should Not Be Pardoned

TIME Congress

Congress Hands A Mixed Bag to Marijuana Movement

Charlotte's Web harvest at the Stanley Brother's farm in Wray, Colorado for Pot Kids story.
Industrial grade hemp grows on the Stanley Brother's farm near Wray, Colo., Sept. 22, 2014. Matt Nager for TIME

The year-end spending bill gives momentum to the marijuana movement, plus a painful setback

For the marijuana legalization movement, 2014 ends the way it began: with legal changes that showcase the movement’s momentum alongside its problems.

Tucked into the 1,603-page year-end spending bill Congress released Tuesday night were a pair of provisions that affect proponents of cannabis reform. Together they form a metaphor for the politics of legal pot—an issue that made major bipartisan strides this year, but whose progress is hampered by a tangle of local, state and federal statutes that have sown confusion and produced contradictory justice.

First the good news for reformers: the proposed budget would prohibit law enforcement officials from using federal funds to prosecute patients or legal dispensaries in the 32 states, plus the District of Columbia, that passed some form of medical-marijuana legalization. The provision was crafted by a bipartisan group of representatives and passed the Republican-controlled House in May for the first time in seven tries. If passed into law, it would mark a milestone for the movement, restricting raids against dispensaries and inoculating patients from being punished for an activity that is legal where they live but in violation of federal law.

“The enactment of this legislation will mark the first time in decades that the federal government has curtailed its oppressive prohibition of marijuana, and has instead taken an approach to respect the many states that have permitted the use of medical marijuana to some degree,” Rep. Dana Rohrabacher said in a statement to TIME. The California Republican’s work on the issue reflects the strange coalition that has sprung up to support cannabis reform as the GOP’s libertarian wing gains steam and voters’ views evolve.

At the same time, the House chose to overrule Washington, D.C., on the issue. Last month voters in the District chose to liberalize its marijuana laws, passing an initiative that legalized the possession, consumption and cultivation of recreational marijuana. The move, which was supported by about 70% of the capital’s voters, paved the way for D.C. to follow in the footsteps of Colorado and Washington State by establishing a tax-and-regulatory structure for pot sales in 2015.

Now those plans have gone up in smoke. The omnibus bill contains a measure that would block D.C. from using funds to enact legalization. Congress has the power to scuttle the District’s plans because it controls the capital’s budget. D.C. politicians blasted the move, while many in Congress lamented the agreement. But there appears to be little that members can do to stop it.

Trampling on the district’s sovereignty was especially galling, says Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and a D.C. resident, when it happens at the same time that lawmakers uphold states’ rights elsewhere. “Republicans see D.C. as so rock-solid Democratic,” St. Pierre says, “that they won’t give it the autonomy they are otherwise willing to grant states.”

The spending bill caps a year in which pot moved to the forefront of the political debate in ways that longtime advocates never thought possible. A majority of Americans now support full marijuana legalization. In January, Colorado became the first state to establish a legal recreational pot market, following by Washington last summer. Both debuts had successes, yet both states were beguiled in their own ways by lingering federal challenges. In Colorado, legal million-dollar businesses still must conduct their business largely in cash, because federal law that classifies cannabis as a Schedule I drug blocks legal merchants from the banking system. In Washington State, the new weed shops comprise just a small slice of the marijuana economy, a thin legal layer piled atop the entrenched medical market and an illicit black market that continues to thrive because of better prices.

But Washington struggles also underscore why the medical-marijuana measure in the Congressional spending bill is important. Medical patients in the Evergreen State have been at the whims of overzealous U.S. attorneys or members of the Drug Enforcement Agency, who had discretion to ignore the Obama Administration’s admonition to let the local experiments play out.

That left medical-marijuana patients like Larry Harvey, a septuagenarian retiree, trapped by a legal paradox. Harvey and his wife Rhonda were legal medical-pot patients who cultivated cannabis at their home in the mountains above Kettle Falls, Wash., until they were arrested on federal drug charges. They are currently awaiting trial. Larry Harvey, who has long suffered from gout and was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, has been unable to use marijuana to ease the pain. Now, says Kari Boiter, a medical-marijuana advocate at Americans for Safe Access who has worked closely with the Harveys, the family’s attorneys can argue that the government has no standing to pursue the case.

Overall, the spending bill is “more mixed signals from Washington, D.C.,” Boiter says. “But for medical marijuana patients, it is a real clear blow to the Department of Justice prohibition that has been crushing them. It feels like we’ve been vindicated.”

Update, 12/12: The original version of this story noted the bill contains a measure that would block D.C. from using federal funds to enact cannabis legislation. It also blocks the use of local funds.

Read next: Colorado Approves Credit Union for Pot Store

TIME Guns

American Support of Guns Has Grown in Wake of Shootings, Survey Finds

A convention goer handles a Ruger 1911 model semi-automatic pistol during the142nd annual National Rifle Association convention at the George R. Brown Convention Center on May 4, 2013 in Houston.
A convention goer handles a Ruger 1911 model semi-automatic pistol during the142nd annual National Rifle Association convention at the George R. Brown Convention Center on May 4, 2013 in Houston. Karen Bleier—AFP/Getty Images

52% of Americans consider gun rights more important than gun control

Americans’ opinions on gun rights have shifted further into the “pro” column since the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which is approaching its second anniversary this month, according to new data from the Pew Research Center.

About 52% of Americans said it’s more important to protect gun rights than it is to control who owns them, the survey finds. Just 46% said the latter is most important, marking a significant shift since 1993, when 57% of those surveyed felt controlling gun ownership should be the priority. In January 2013, about a month after the shooting that left 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School dead, support for gun control was at 51%.

The survey revealed an even greater shift in opinion among surveyed Americans of color. In December 2012, only 29% of black Americans said gun ownership does more to protect people from being victims of crimes, while 53% said it further risks one’s safety. This year, 51% said guns protect and only 41% felt they put safety at risk. The change among white Americans was far less dramatic.

Pew’s survey of 1,507 adults was conducted from Dec. 3-7. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

TIME justice

Execution Set for Man Whose Drunk Lawyer Botched His Defense

Robert Wayne Holsey
Convicted murderer Robert Wayne Holsey who is scheduled to be executed on Dec. 9, 2014. Georgia Department of Corrections/AP

His attorney drank a quart of vodka a night

In 1997, Andy Prince’s life was in a downward spiral. The Georgia attorney was drinking a quart of vodka a night. He stole $100,000 from a client. He was arrested for disorderly conduct after threatening to shoot his neighbors. But none of that prevented him from representing Robert Wayne Holsey, a Georgia man convicted of shooting a deputy sheriff and scheduled to die this week thanks to what Holsey’s current lawyers describe as unthinkable and almost criminally poor legal representation.

On Dec. 17, 1995, Holsey shot and killed Baldwin County Sheriff’s Deputy Will Robinson in Milledgeville, Ga., after the officer pulled Holsey over for a suspected robbery. At the time, Georgia had no public defender office, leaving it up to judges to appoint a lawyer, often resorting to attorneys they knew personally. In this case, Prince was chosen to defend Holsey.

MORE: Ohio looks to shield lethal injection drugmakers

“When [Prince] took on Holsey’s case, he was in a lot of trouble,” said attorney Brian Kammer, the director of the Georgia Resource Center who is currently representing Holsey. “He was barely able to represent him. He was a chronic heavy drinker, an alcoholic. And it impacted his performance.”

Kammer says that in Holsey’s sentencing phase, Prince barely prepared the basis for why his client should be spared the death sentence. At the time, Holsey’s IQ was about 70, meaning by some standards he was intellectually disabled. Prince provided little evidence in court to bolster that defense and largely failed to provide the jury with information about Holsey’s childhood, which was rife with abuse and could have persuaded jurors to spare his life. A jury sentenced Holsey to death in 1997.

In the months and years following the trial, Prince was disbarred, sentenced to 10 years for stealing client money and later testified that he shouldn’t have been representing Holsey in the first place.

MORE: Missouri just tied its lethal injection record)

Yet the death sentence remains. While Holsey is set to die by lethal injection on Tuesday, his lawyers are working to halt his execution. On Monday, Kammer presented Holsey’s case to Georgia’s five-member clemency board, arguing that Georgia’s standard for determining intellectual disability is unconstitutional, a strict standard that requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled in Hall v. Florida that it was unconstitutional to automatically prohibit anyone with an IQ of 70 or above from being considered mentally disabled. The Florida law initially had a strict cutoff that made those with an IQ of 70 or above eligible for the death penalty.

The parole panel, however, denied clemency on Monday, and the Georgia Supreme Court decided against a stay of execution in a 5-2 vote on Tuesday. Holsey’s lawyers have presented a last-minute appeal to the Supreme Court to halt the execution, scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday.

TIME justice

Officer Charged in Relation to Rikers Inmate Death in Overheated Cell

A picture of Jerome Murdough, a former homeless Marine who died in a mental observation unit on Rikers Island jail on Feb. 15, 2014 is held by his mother Alma Murdough left, and sister Cheryl Warner at Alma Murdough's home in the Queens borough of New York.
A picture of Jerome Murdough, a former homeless Marine who died in a mental observation unit on Rikers Island jail on Feb. 15, 2014 is held by his mother Alma Murdough left, and sister Cheryl Warner at Alma Murdough's home in the Queens borough of New York. Jason DeCrow—AP

Investigators said Jerome Murdough's cell had reached temperatures over 100 degrees

A Rikers Island correction officer has been charged with allegedly lying on jail records and making false claims that she had checked in on an inmate who died in an overheated cell in February.

Carol Lackner, 35, was indicted Monday on two felony charges — offering a false instrument for filing and falsifying business records — and other misdemeanors, the New York Times reports. Prosecutors say she claimed in her logbook that she had checked on inmates six times during the night, which conflicts with video footage from that evening.

A medical examiner ruled that the death of 56-year-old Jerome Murdough was an accident: Murdough, who was arrested on trespassing charges for seeking relief from the cold in a public housing project, died of hyperthermia when his schizoaffective disorder medication adversely interacted with the heat. Investigators said his cell reached temperatures higher than 100 degrees, and the Correction Department said that the heating system in the mental health observation unit of the prison was had been malfunctioning.

Lackner was suspended for 30 days and put on modified duty, which does not allow interaction with inmates.

[New York Times]

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