Saturday, 24 January 2009

Death Penalty- by way of television medical dramas

In my role as part-time complete and utter sad sack (do let's pretend it's only a part-time position) I am a big fan of American medical dramas. This amuses me because I generally do not think much of a lot of American TV, or TV in general (but mind, they know how to do it well- anyone seen Madmen? Or Rome?) and the sight of blood and guts on any real medical show, or even on a British medical drama, has me reaching for the remote before you can say "O-neg, stat!!".

In the latest episode of Grey's Anatomy, the gang had to treat a man on death row. The storyline is by the by, but got me thinking about the issue again.

Grey's is set in Seattle, Washington. A state which I believe has 9 men on death row currently. It is by means comparable to Texas or Florida who execute shockingly high numbers each year, nay- each week. Including some who really shouldn't be - the mentally retarded and the innocent.

Washington is a pretty small state (in terms of population at least) in the Pacific North-West. It's a pretty leftie, Democrat state. Seattle, the biggest city in Washington brought much to the world of music, including Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana. It makes sense that the grunge scene could only have come out of pretty comfortable suburban americana!

But Washington unlike say California or Oregon, its friends on the Pacific coast, does actually execute people. It has since 1993 executed 4 people. 3 of these are what are known as 'volunteers' in that they give up their appeals rights and stop fighting execution. This is the same situation in Oregon, which has executed 2 volunteers since the death penalty was re-instated there, however it has not executed anyone under the modern Death penalty statute who has not given up their appeal rights). This is the man who did not volunteer for execution in Washington:

Charles Rodman Campbell
Hanged May 27, 1994
Convicted of killing 2 women, Renae Wicklund, her neighbor Barbara and Renae's nine year old daughter. Charles committed these murders while serving a prison sentence for the sexual assault of Renae Wicklund. At the time of the murders he was in work release. The state settled with the victim's families for 2.3 million dollars, for failing to notify the Wicklunds of Campbell's release status. Campbell refused to cooperate with the execution. He had to be moved from his cell using pepper spray and had to be forcibly strapped to a board so that he could be hanged. It took prison officials 90 seconds to place a hood on his head and to fix the noose before the trap door was opened.

Washington no longer uses hanging, and I think this case was the reason why.

I wasn't aware- until I watched the Grey's episode and then came to do some googling- that a Darold Stenson was due to be executed on 3 December of last year. His execution was stayed by the Federal Government, and currently there is an ongoing investigation as to new DNA evidence . Stenson has always maintained his innocence, and it is suggested that this evidence will show that he was framed.

I don't know much about the case. I am not suggesting that he is innocent. But if this was Texas, and not Washington, he would have been executed on 3 December. And then what of new evidence, that may have been missed in the original trial? The risk of executing an innocent person, even if it's a tiny risk, that awful risk must be so abhorrent that we cannot accept capital punishment in any configuration.

Obama's doing pretty well at the moment. I wonder if the constitutionality of the death penalty will be revisited under his presidency?

Friday, 16 January 2009

I know this is meant to be a blawg, but

...the law does tend to be a bit peripheral here, doesn't it? (except for my generalised complaints about it). Please excuse another further totally non-law post:

Post Xmas diets*. What a pain. Walked 5 miles yesterday - felt good, especially when I looked at the pedometer and saw how many calories that meant I'd burned. I'm trying to make this a daily habit (have been walking about 3 miles a day this week).

But this morning I feel curiously light headed and have all the mental agility of Homer Simpson at the end of an evening at Moe's Tavern. Having a cup of coffee before bed probably not the best idea.

Will just have to have a massive lunch to perk me up. Bang goes yesterday's burn!

I'm trying not to make a big thing of it at home though, just trying to be a bit healthier and feel a bit lighter and perkier. I have a teen-aged sister who is showing rather worrying signs of a very disordered relationship with food and weight, and I'm trying to be a helpful big sister and keep her on the right track.

Hope the other dieters out there are faring better!

*Although it goes back a bit further than Xmas. I brought home a bit of excess baggage from the States, you might say. Damn that pizza joint on the corner!

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Waterboarding is torture. Well, duh.

The nominee for the US general attorney has said that waterboarding is torture.

I am encouraged by this and Barack Obama's pledge to close Guantanamo. I'm not sure if the AG has the same role in the US as over here ( I'm thinking of Lord Goldsmith and his opinion which helped legitimise the Iraq war) but every little helps!

Legal Research

I'm done with my Civil MCT and first Advocacy assessment. Both passed without any significant hitches, not amazingly well but as long as I passed then that's ok.

With Legal research however, I am having 2 areas of difficulty:

1) Not knowing any basic Contract/Tort law

2) Laziness

These are a working against my achieving a thorough and well thought out research answer and opinion.

Back to the grindstone!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Still procrastinatin', sweet relief

A facebook friend posted this link:

I'm afraid it's been a terrible distraction and has had me cackling all over the shop. Do pay the site a visit if you could do with a giggle (and who couldn't?)- see particularly the 'Inspiration vs. Perspiration page'.


PS - will not help with January diets! Although some of them look so awful, it could put you off heavily frosted cakes for good.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Getting a proper job

It is exam time, and so naturally I am thinking of all things except revision and exams. Sorry, assessments - the lingo is a bit different when you're paying this much for it. (My cynicism re the BVC and value for money knows no bounds).

And so I am looking on to May, June-ish time. I have not applied for pupillage for next year. So what exactly should I do with myself? Being in London, I am sure I can find some sort of para-legal work, but that's not very exciting is it?

Any suggestions welcome.

ETA- Also: To Olpas or not to Olpas? That is the question. I might leave this joy for next year. If you never apply, you can never be rejected!