Crime/Courts
Grassley Attends Oral Arguments of Health Care Reform Law, Presses for Cameras in the Courtroom PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Crime/Courts
Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 27 March 2012 13:25

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

 

This morning, Senator Grassley attended an hour of the oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on the 2010 health care reform law.  After listening to the arguments, Senator Grassley commented on the proceedings and how allowing cameras in the courtroom would allow millions of people to see one of the most historic cases heard by the court in the last 60 years.  Grassley is leading the effort to permit cameras in federal courtrooms, including the Supreme Court.  He was the first member of Congress to ask Chief Justice John Roberts to allow cameras in the Supreme Court during the health care reform proceedings so, “Every American (can) have the opportunity to see and hear this landmark case as it plays out, not just the select few allowed in the courtroom…Video coverage would help with the public’s understanding of the controversial law, as well as the American judicial system.”

 

Grassley’s comments today are available at several places.

Video:  Click here to download the HD version of Grassley’s comments. A SD version of the comments will be available today between 2:45 and 3 pm Central Time at the following coordinates:

AMC 1

Transponder 23 Horizontal

Downlink 4160

Audio – C-band analog

Audio: Comment is available on Senator Grassley’s website at the following link:

Grassley Supreme Court Proceedings

Here is additional information about Grassley’s efforts to permit cameras in federal courtrooms.

 

Q&A on Cameras in the Courtroom 

with U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

 

Q:        Who is able to witness arguments made in a case before the Supreme Court?

A:        The Supreme Court case to consider the constitutionality of the health care law enacted in 2010 has brought public access to court proceedings front and center.  While arguments are made for and against the sweeping health care law that requires citizens to obtain health insurance and puts unprecedented demands on states to provide Medicaid coverage, the justices, the lawyers, a few reporters, and 250 people have the opportunity to see them.  Some people with these seats may stay for the entire argument.  Others must leave the courtroom and give their seats to the next in line after three to five minutes.  In response to requests from me and others, the Supreme Court is making audio recordings of arguments available on its website later the same day.

 

Q:        What about anyone else being able to see the arguments?

A:        I’ve been working to give America a front-row seat to Supreme Court cases, as well as the proceedings in the nation’s federal courts.  I’ve sponsored legislation for more than a decade to grant federal judges the authority to allow cameras in federal courtrooms.  That sunshine legislation has been passed many times by the Senate Judiciary Committee and with bipartisan support.  I’ve also introduced legislation for broadcast coverage of the Supreme Court, and the Judiciary Committee has voted to pass such a reform.

 

Short of enacting legislation, this year I appealed to the Supreme Court to allow broadcast coverage of the health care case.  Every citizen is impacted by this law, and it affects one-sixth of the nation’s economy.  The first time I appealed for broadcast coverage of oral arguments before the Supreme Court was in 2000 in the Bush v. Gore case regarding the presidential election.  Audio was released immediately following the arguments.  Since then, the Court occasionally releases the audio of oral arguments the day it hears significant cases.  However, in most cases the Supreme Court now releases the audio recording of arguments at the end of each week.

 

In addition, a three-year experiment now is under way allowing camera coverage in 14 federal district courts across the country, including the Southern District of Iowa, in civil proceedings.  This program was adopted by the Judicial Conference, the policy-making entity for the federal courts, because of congressional interest.

 

These are steps in the right direction, but more can be done and should be done, so I will continue to work for passage of both pieces of legislation and complete access to the proceedings of the Supreme Court and federal courts.

 

Q:        What’s the basis for your effort to allow broadcast coverage?

A:        Allowing cameras in the federal courtroom is consistent with the intent of America’s founders that trials be held in front of as many people as choose to attend.  The First Amendment requires court proceedings to be open to the public and, by extension, news media.  As the Supreme Court articulated in 1947, in Craig v. Harney, “A trial is a public event.”  And, “What transpires in the courtroom is public property … .”  Beyond First Amendment implications, enactment of my legislation also would assist courts in complying with the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of public trials in criminal cases.

 

Public access to the proceedings of the courts reflects the democratic values of government transparency, due process, integrity of court proceedings, and civic education.  The best way to make sure government is accountable to the people is to establish transparency.

 

Most every state allows broadcast coverage of state courts.  In Iowa, it’s been the case for more than 30 years.  In fact, for the Iowa Supreme Court, expanded media coverage includes not only traditional broadcast but also live and archived streams of all oral arguments.  The Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington last December about the success and value of this accessibility.  He said that “cameras expose the courts to what they are – a proud institution of justice.”

 

Monday, March 26, 2012

 
Investment in Crime-fighting Program PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Crime/Courts
Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 27 March 2012 12:42

Monday, March 26, 2012

 

Cantwell, Grassley Lead Bipartisan Senate Coalition Urging

Investment in Key Program to Fight Crime

Byrne JAG program provides critical assistance for local law enforcement fight

against gangs and meth but could face even larger budget cuts

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last Friday, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) led a bipartisan coalition of 42 senators in support of continued investment in a crucial tool for law enforcement in the fight against crime. The coalition, in a letter penned to Senate Appropriators, opposed any additional cuts to the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) program, which helps states and communities across the country reduce crime, prevent juvenile delinquency, and reduce recidivism.

 

“As you well know, Byrne JAG is a cornerstone crime-fighting program that supports the federal government’s crucial role in spurring innovation across the criminal justice system, as well as testing and replicating evidence-based practices nationwide,” wrote the Senators in a letter to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies. “Given the significant financial constraints the federal government has faced in recent years, funding for Byrne JAG has been reduced by nearly one-third over the past two fiscal years. Therefore, we ask that the Byrne JAG program be protected against further cuts in the Fiscal Year 2013 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill.”

 

Byrne JAG funds have been used to keep vital law enforcement programs alive that go after criminal gangs and facilitate drug treatment during a time when budgets for law enforcement officials and prosecutors across the nation have been cut. These funds can be used for state and local initiatives, technical assistance, training, personnel, equipment, supplies, contractual support, and criminal justice information systems. Investments in the program have been reduced by over one-third the past two fiscal years.

 

Even with lower funding levels, the program has played a major role in reducing crime. Nationally, from October 2008 through September 2011, recipients of Byrne JAG grants:

 

·         Disrupted over 5,000 drug trafficking organizations

·         Arrested 7,739 gang members on felony charges

·         And from July 2010 to July 2011 seized 2.3 million pounds of drugs

 

The Byrne JAG program is a partnership among federal, state, and local governments that tailors federal law enforcement grants to the needs of different communities. It supports a broad range of activities to prevent and control crime and improve the criminal justice system that include: law enforcement programs; prosecution and court programs; prevention and education programs; corrections and community corrections programs; drug treatment programs; and planning, evaluation, and technology improvement programs.

 

The procedure for allocating Byrne JAG grants is based on a formula of population and violent crime statistics, in combination with a minimum allocation to ensure that each state and territory receives an appropriate share of funding. Sixty percent of Byrne JAG funds are allocated to states which then provide it to innovative programs in local communities. The remaining 40 percent is provided directly to communities via a state-wide competitive grant process.

 

The letter to Senate Appropriators was signed by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Carl Levin (D-MI), Tom Udall (D-NM), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), John Kerry (D-MA), Max Baucus (D-MT),  Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), James Inhofe (R-OK), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jon Tester (D-MT), Scott Brown (R-MA), Jim Webb (D-VA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Joe Manchin (D-WV), John Hoeven (R-ND), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Mark Begich (D-AK), David Vitter (R-LA), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Jack Reed (D-RI), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

 

The complete text of the letter sent Friday follows.

 

March 23, 2012

 

The Honorable Barbara A. Mikulski

Chairwoman

Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

Senate Committee on Appropriations

142 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

 

The Honorable Kay Bailey Hutchison

Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

Senate Committee on Appropriations

125 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

 

Dear Chairwoman Mikulski and Ranking Member Hutchison:

 

Thank you for your continued leadership in providing substantial federal support for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) Program over the years.  As you well know, Byrne JAG is a cornerstone crime-fighting program that supports the federal government’s crucial role in spurring innovation across the criminal justice system, as well as testing and replicating evidence-based practices nationwide.

 

Given the significant financial constraints the federal government has faced in recent years, funding for Byrne JAG has been reduced by nearly one-third over the past two fiscal years.  These cuts will have a direct and serious impact in our states as successful public safety initiatives and cross-jurisdictional collaborations are forced to close or be scaled back.   Therefore, we ask that the Byrne JAG program be protected against further cuts in the Fiscal Year 2013 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill.

 

One of the keys to the Byrne JAG program’s continuing success is its flexibility: federal dollars can be used in a wide variety of capacities at the local level in the way most appropriate to address local community needs across the criminal justice spectrum, and allows localities to balance resources and react to urgent challenges or changing circumstances.

 

Byrne JAG funds are used for law enforcement, prosecution and courts, prevention, drug treatment and enforcement, gang prevention, planning, evaluation, training, technology, and crime and victim witness programs.  Guided by statewide strategic planning, Byrne JAG funds are able to test and measure innovative methods for reducing crime, preventing juvenile delinquency, and reducing recidivism, while at the same time saving taxpayer dollars.

 

Sixty percent of Byrne JAG funds are provided to the states to pass through for innovative programming in local communities.  The remaining forty percent is provided to local communities directly.  In Fiscal Year 2011, over 1,300 local jurisdictions across the country were awarded direct grants, and many more were awarded funds passed through by the state criminal justice planning agencies.

 

As you move forward in deliberations over Fiscal Year 2013 appropriations, we ask that you continue Congress’ commitment to the Byrne JAG Program.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

###

 


 
Iowa Court Rules PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Crime/Courts
Written by Iowa Judicial Branch   
Friday, 23 March 2012 13:36

Orders

 

This section of the site contains orders of statewide interest recently issued by the Iowa Supreme Court. Orders will be posted in this section for one year from the date they are first posted.

 

Links on this page go to files that may be unusable if you do not have the proper programs installed on your computer. Visit the Site Tools and Accessibility page for any plug-ins or programs your may need.

 


Request for comments to proposed amendments to Rule 31.16 Registration of House Counsel (March 21, 2012)

Order (77 kb)


Proposed New Rule (304 kb)



In the Matter of Interim Rules to Govern the use of the Electronic Document Management System

The Iowa Supreme Court amends the interim rules of Chapter 16 of the Iowa Court Rules governing EDMS

Order (77 kb)


Chapter 16 interim rules (349 kb)


Summary (43 kb)


General Commentary (114 kb)



Request for comments to proposed amendments to Rule of Appellate Procedure (February 10, 2012)

Order (244 kb)


Proposed New Rule (186 kb)



Request for comments to proposed amendments to Rules of Civil Procedure (December 2, 2011)

Order (575 kb)


Proposed New Rule (479 kb)



Request for comments to proposed amendments to Rules of Juvenile Procedures (November 23, 2011)

Order (103 kb)


Juvenile amendments (11 kb)



Request for comments to proposed amendments to rules regulating the practice of law (November 17, 2011)

Order (429 kb)


Summary (96 kb)


Proposed amendments (200 kb)



In the Matter of Request for Public Comment Regarding Proposed Small Claims Pleadings Forms (October 7, 2011)

Order (550 kb)


Small Claims Forms (944 kb)



In the Matter of Formation of the Small Claims Forms Advisory Committee (May 18, 2011)

Order (619 kb)



In the Matter of the Supreme Court Committee to Study Lawyer Advertising Rules (April 15, 2011)

Order (466 kb)



In the Matter of Rescission of Standard Forms of Pleadings for Small Claims Actions (April 6, 2011)

Supervisory Order (206 kb)



In the Matter of Temporary Rules Governing the Electronic Document Management System and Use of Standard Forms of Pleadings for Small Claims Actions (April 4, 2011)

Temporary rules governing EDMS to exempt electronic filers in Small Claims actions until further notice of this court

Supervisory Order (364 kb)



In the Matter of Standard Forms of Pleadings for Small Claims Actions (April 1, 2011)

The March 28, 2011, order contained typographical errors in the numbering sequence of the new and amended Small Claims forms compared to the prior forms being replaced. The forms themselves were correctly numbered.

Amended Order (427 kb)



In the Matter of Standard Forms of Pleadings for Small Claims Actions (March 28, 2011)

The Court rescinds Chapter 3 of the Iowa Court Rules, Standard Forms of Pleadings for Small Claims Actions, in its entirety. The court approves and adopts the revised Chapter 3 of the Iowa Court Rules attached to this Order.
Effective April 4, 2011


Order (6666 kb)


Standard Forms (pdf) (774 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of the Jefferson and Louisa County Clerk of Court Offices (March 9, 2011)

Effective immediately

Nunc Pro Tunc (170 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of the Jefferson and Louisa County Clerk of Court Offices (March 9, 2011)

Effective immediately.

Supervisory Order (181 kb)



In the Matter of Amendments to Iowa Court Rules Chapter 4; Form 4.11 (February 2, 2011)

Effective immediately.

Order and Form 4.11 (895 kb)



In the Matter of Amendments to Iowa Court Rules Chapter 4: Forms 4.1, 4.2, 4.11, and 4.15 (December 27, 2010)

Effective immediately

Supervisory Order (3402 kb)



In the Matter of the Appointment of the EMC Media Coordinator for Region 3

Effective December 17, 2010.

Order (192 kb)



Proposed Adoption of 2005 Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators (December 7, 2010)

Deadline for comments is March 7, 2011

Order (2271 kb)


Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators (166 kb)


Chapter 11 Study Group (2195 kb)



In the Matter of the Retention of a Private Court Reporter in a Civil Case: Amendment to January 6, 2010 Order (November 24, 2010)

Effective immediately

Supervisory Order (835 kb)



In the Matter of Temporary Rules to Govern the Use of the Electronic Document Management System Plymouth County and Story County (November 4, 2010)

Supervisory Order (538 kb)


Chapter 16 - Rules Pertaining to the Use of the Electronic Document Management System (12070 kb)


Protected Information Disclosure (424 kb)


Small Claims Original Notice and Petition (3124 kb)


Notice of Transcript Redaction (445 kb)


General Commentary on Electronic Filing Rules (118 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of the Chickasaw and Howard County Clerk of Court Offices (October 19, 2010)

Effective October 25, 2010

Supervisory Order (207 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of the Greene County Clerk of Court Office (September 29, 2010)

Effective October 12, 2010

Supervisory Order (185 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of the Boone County Clerk of Court Office (September 29, 2010)

Effective October 5, 2010

Supervisory Order (177 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of the Adams, Ringgold and Taylor County Clerk of Court offices (September 29, 2010)

Effective October 4, 2010

Supervisory Order (189 kb)



In the Matter of the Judicial Council Advisory Committee on Fine Collection Procedures, Practices and Rules (September 24, 2010)

Effective immediately

Order (928 kb)



In the Matter of the Public Hours of the Office of the Clerk of the Appellate Courts (September 15, 2010)

Effective September 20, 2010

Supervisory Order (465 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of the Jones County Clerk of Court Office (August 18, 2010)

Effective August 30, 2010

Supervisory Order (167 kb)



In the Matter of the Appointment of Members to Serve on the Civil Justice Reform Task Force (August 6, 2010)

Supervisory Order (106 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of the Worth County Clerk of Court Office (August 4, 2010)

Effective September 10, 2010

Supervisory Order (181 kb)



In the Matter of Expanded Media Coverage of the Courts (July 21, 2010)

The supreme court has reorganized the jurisdiction of media coordinators for Jackson County.
Effective August 1, 2010

Order (171 kb)



In the Matter of Interim Procedures Governing the Collection of Court Fines and Fees (July 2, 2010)

Upon recommendation of the Judicial Council, the supreme court adopts interim provisions that will govern installment payment plans and other fine collection activities of the judicial branch until the adoption of permanent rules.
Effective July 12, 2010

Supervisory Order (1250 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of the Floyd County Clerk of Court Office (May 13, 2010)

Effective May 20, 2010

Supervisory Order (174 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of the Davis County Clerk of Court Office (May 4, 2010)

Effective May 10, 2010

Supervisory Order (176 kb)



In the Matter of Adoption of EDMS Rules for Pilot Project in Plymouth County (April 21, 2010)

Effective immediately

Supervisory Order (581 kb)


Chapter 16 - Rules Pertaining to the Use of the Electronic Document Management System (12017 kb)


Protected Information Disclosure (520 kb)


Small Claims Original Notice and Petition (2292 kb)


General Commentary on Electronic Filing Rules (2274 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of the Guthrie County Clerk of Court Office (April 13, 2010)

Effective immediately

Supervisory Order (173 kb)



In the Matter of the Business Hours of the Fremont County Clerk of Court Office (April 6, 2010)

Effective April 5, 2010

Supervisory Order (167 kb)



In the Matter of Appointment to the Task Force for Civil Justice Reform (March 23, 2010)

Effective immediately

Order (123 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of Clerk of Court Offices (March 19, 2010)

Fremont county
Effective April 5, 2010

Supervisory Order (186 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of Clerk of Court Offices (February 11, 2010)

Jefferson county
effective February 12, 2010

Supervisory Order (180 kb)



In the Matter of Prioritization of Cases and Duties (February 4, 2010)

Amendment to Order of December 1, 2009
Effective immediately

Supervisory Order (323 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of Clerk of Court Offices (January 28, 2010)

Fifth District
effective February 1, 2010

Supervisory Order (252 kb)



In the Matter of Changes to the Business Hours of Clerk of Court Offices (January 26, 2010)

First, Second and Sixth districts
effective February 1, 2010

Supervisory Order (286 kb)



Proposed Revised Iowa Code of Judicial Conduct (January 19, 2010)

Chapter 51
Deadline for comments is March 19, 2010.

Order and Proposed Code (581 kb)



In the Matter of Private Retention of Court Reporters in Civil Cases (January 6, 2010)

Supervisory order (500 kb)



In the Matter of Appointments to the Task Force for Civil Justice Reform (December 18, 2009)

Order (655 kb)



In the Matter of Court Closure Days and Public Hours of Clerk of Court Offices (December 2, 2009)

Supervisory Order (63 kb)



In the Matter of Prioritization of Cases and Duties (December 1, 2009)

Supervisory Order (1318 kb)



In the Matter of the Public Hours of Clerk of Court Offices (November 17, 2009)

Supervisory Order (2646 kb)



In the Matter of Actions Taken to Reduce Judicial Branch Operating Expenses (November 12, 2009)

Supervisory Order (1443 kb)



In The Matter of Court Closure and Unpaid Leave Days (November 10, 2009)

Supervisory Order (497 kb)



In the Matter of Actions Taken to Reduce Judicial Branch Operating Expenses for Fiscal Year 2010 (June 25, 2009)

Supervisory Order (162 kb)



In the Matter of Court Closure Days and Reduced Public Hours (May 29, 2009)

Supervisory Order (288 kb)



In the Matter of Appointments to the Digital Audio Recording Technology Committee of the Judicial Council (May 7, 2009)

Order (380 kb)



In the Matter of Court Closure and Unpaid Leave Days: May 8 (May 5, 2009)

Supervisory Order (452 kb)



In the Matter of Mileage Reimbursement (March 31, 2009)

Supervisory Order (315 kb)



Actions Concerning Judicial Operations (March 13, 2009)

Supervisory Order (228 kb)



Action Taken to Reduce Operating Expenses (February 27, 2009)

Supervisory Order (186 kb)



Hearing on Proposed Rules (February 24, 2009)

A hearing is scheduled on Thursday, March 5, 2009, regarding minutes of evidence.

Order Setting Hearing Schedule (Feb. 24, 2009) (480 kb)


Order Setting Amended Hearing Schedule (March 2, 2009) (477 kb)


Order (Feb. 13, 2009) (749 kb)



Actions Taken to Reduce Judicial Branch Operating Expenses (February 2, 2009)

Supervisory Order (783 kb)



Proposed Amendments to the Rules of Criminal Procedure (December 2, 2008)

Information about witnesses
Deadline for comments is January 2, 2009

Chapter 2, Rule 2.4 and 2.5 (589 kb)



Proposed Amendments to Iowa Court Rules (November 12, 2008)

Licensing and Practice of Foreign Legal Consultants
Deadline for comments is December 12, 2008

Chapter 31, Rule 31.14 and 31.18 (5008 kb)



In the Matter of Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure 1.422 (September 23, 2008)

Rule 1.422

Supervisory Order (150 kb)



Proposed Amendments to the Rules of Criminal Procedure (June 23, 2008)

Information about witnesses
Deadline for comments is July 23, 2008

Chapter 2, Rule 2.4 and 2.5 (96 kb)


Order (355 kb)


Final Report of the Child Support Guidelines Review Committee (378 kb)


Proposed Amendments to Chapter 9 (348 kb)


Rule 9.27, Forms 1 and 2 (418 kb)



Revisions to Electronic Document Management System Proposed Rules (June 10, 2008)

Public Notice (47 kb)


General commentary (71 kb)


Chapter 16--Pertaining to the use of EDMS (258 kb)



Proposed Amendments to Rules of Appellate Procedure and Rules of Civil Procedure Concerning Certiorari (June 6, 2008)

Deadline for comments is August 6, 2008

Order (81 kb)


Proposed Amendments to Rules of Appellate Procedure (851 kb)


Summary of Key Changes (238 kb)


Proposed Amendments to Rules of Civil Procedure (113 kb)



Appointments to the Supreme Court Limited Jurisdiction Task Force (January 14, 2008)

Appointment Order (205 kb)


Resolution in Support of the Pew Commission (September 10, 2007) (86 kb)



Filing by facsimile transmission (August 6, 2007)

Order granting filing by facsimile transmission of certain documents in chapters 125 and 229 commitment proceedings
Effective immediately

Order (66 kb)



Uniform Bond Schedule (August 2, 2007)

Order amending uniform bond schedule

Order and bond schedule (97 kb)



Instructions to Compensation Commissioners from the Chief Justice (January 12, 2007)

Instructions (208 kb)

 
Justice for All: Convicting the Guilty and Exonerating the Innocent PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Crime/Courts
Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 23 March 2012 12:49

Prepared Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa

Ranking Member, U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary

Hearing on “Justice for All: Convicting the Guilty and Exonerating the Innocent”

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding today’s hearing.  The debate surrounding crime and punishment has been around long before the United States.  When our Founding Fathers drafted and ratified the Constitution and the Bill of Rights 225 years ago, at the forefront of their minds was ensuring the protection of individual liberty from the power of the government.  However, the Founders did recognize that at times there are citizens that break the social contract of our civil society and need to be punished, provided they are afforded due process.  While not strictly defining what due process was required, the Constitution and years of court cases have outlined that process which has worked to ensure a baseline set of standards at both the state and federal level for criminal prosecutions.

Over time, these baseline procedures have been supplemented with statutory law, model rules, court rules, and standards of professional responsibility that are designed to ensure the fair and impartial administration of criminal justice.  Unfortunately, despite the adherence to the Constitution, laws, regulations, rules, and procedures, there is the possibility that an innocent person could be afforded all this due process yet still be convicted.  Mr. Haynesworth is here today after spending 27 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.  In December he was declared an innocent man by the Virginia Court of Appeals.  His case presents us with a personal example of why we must continue to ask questions about the criminal justice system and not become complacent.

Cases like Mr. Hayensworth’s make us realize that no system involving humans is perfect.  This is a sad, unfortunate and emotional reality that we must recognize.  However, we must also examine the issue in an informed way that doesn’t threaten to destabilize the entire criminal justice system.

Chief among the issues to discuss today is the question of how many innocent men and women may have been convicted over the years and how do we effectively review those cases, correct injustices, and apply what we learn so those injustices are not repeated.  This is not an easy task.  So, the question becomes - how do we determine which cases should be reviewed and how do we allocate the limited resources of the government to review these cases?

It is important to note that there is a real discrepancy in the number of individuals in prison who are actually innocent.  For example, some argue that cases where truly innocent individuals were exonerated are just the tip of the iceberg.  However, others argue that the number of true exonerations is small because many of the statistics on exonerations include cases where convictions were overturned on procedural grounds, even though the individual was not found factually innocent.  Furthermore, they argue that the number of exonerations is going down each year as technological advances, such as DNA testing, eliminate many wrongful convictions from even occurring because DNA testing is being routinely used to prove factual innocence earlier in the investigative process.  Getting a better understanding of how many cases are out there will not only inform us about whether reforms are needed, but also what types of reforms would provide the best help.

Further, we need to be cognizant of the fact that in addition to the federal criminal justice system, there are fifty different state justice systems each with their own constitutions, laws, rules, regulations, and procedures.  As Justice Jackson, who was then-Attorney General Jackson, said in his famous speech The Federal Prosecutor, “[O]utside of federal law each locality has the right under our system of government to fix its own standards of law enforcement and morals.”  This statement is particularly important today given the current fiscal situation the federal government faces.  We do not have the resources at the federal level to provide funding to states to review every single criminal case after each case has exhausted all appellate remedies.  Nor, should we interfere in the day-to-day intricacies of state criminal justice systems.

As written testimony submitted by Judge Hervey points out, the state of Texas, via the Court of Criminal Appeals has established the Texas Criminal Justice Integrity Unit to review their criminal justice system and propose reforms where needed.  As states are already undertaking this effort on their own, our role in Congress should be to examine the federal criminal justice system and not to reform every state system.  We should not go down a path of attempting to correct problems in state criminal justice systems.  Instead, as the recent report on prosecutorial misconduct in the Ted Stevens case points out, we should expend our limited resources ensuring that the federal criminal justice system works as it should.

That said, we have a panel of witnesses here today to discuss this important topic and I look forward to their testimony.  Thank you.

-30-

 
SCOTUS to release daily audio coverage immediately following health care reform arguments PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Crime/Courts
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 19 March 2012 15:01

Friday, March 16, 2012

 

Senator Chuck Grassley today released the following comment after Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts informed him that video coverage will not be allowed of the landmark health care case that will be heard before the Supreme Court next week.  The Chief Justice said the court will provide audio recordings and written transcripts of the oral arguments each afternoon of the proceedings.

 

In a letter sent in November to the Chief Justice, Grassley had recommended that audio and video coverage of the arguments be allowed.  Grassley argued that the law was so massive in size and scope and had an effect on every American. He is the author of legislation that would allow cameras in federal courts, and is the lead cosponsor of legislation to allow cameras in the Supreme Court.  The press release and letter from November can be found after Grassley’s quote below.

 

“Every American should have the opportunity to see and hear this landmark case as it plays out, not just the select few allowed in the courtroom.  The health care reform law has ramifications for the entire country.  Video coverage would help with the public’s understanding of not only the controversial new law, but also the American judicial system.  It’s disappointing that the Chief Justice isn’t allowing video coverage of the case, but I appreciate his willingness to provide expedited release of the audio and transcripts to the American people.”

 

Here is the press release and letter after Grassley asked Roberts to allow for audio and video coverage of the proceedings.

 

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

 

Grassley Requests Audio, Video Coverage of Landmark Health Care Case in Supreme Court

 

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley has asked Chief Justice John Roberts to provide audio and video coverage of the landmark Supreme Court proceedings of the federal health care reform law.  Grassley is the author of legislation that would allow cameras in federal courts.  The bipartisan legislation has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee.

 

“Cameras in federal courtrooms are at the very heart of an open and transparent government.  Broadcasting the health care reform law proceedings would not only contribute to the public’s understanding of America’s judicial system, but provide an excellent educational opportunity on a case that has the potential to have a far reaching impact on every American,” Grassley said.  “This law is massive in size and scope.  Its effect is reverberating throughout America’s economy.  The constitutional questions are landmark.  The public has a right to hear and see the legal arguments.”

 

Grassley first introduced the Cameras in the Courtroom legislation in 1999.  Since then, the Chief Justice has immediately released audio of oral arguments of compelling cases.  The first release came when, at the request of Grassley and others, then Chief Justice William Rehnquist allowed for the release of audio immediately following oral arguments in the Florida election matter in 2000.  Since then, Chief Justice John Roberts has released audio recordings the same day of the oral arguments for more than 20 cases, including Grutter v. Bollinger, D.C. v. Heller, the Guantanamo Cases and the Citizens United Case.

 

Here is a copy of the text of Grassley’s letter.  A copy of the signed letter can be found here.

 

November 15, 2011

 

The Chief Justice

The Supreme Court of the United States

Washington, DC 20543

 

Dear Chief Justice Roberts:

 

I am writing to request that the Supreme Court exercise its discretion to permit television coverage of Supreme Court proceedings when the Court hears arguments in the case of the federal health care reform law.  It is my understanding oral arguments will take place in March of next year.

The decision in this case has the potential to reach every American.  The law is massive in size and scope.  The effect of the law, and the Court’s decision, will reverberate throughout the American economy.

 

The constitutional questions presented in the case are momentous. The public has a right to witness the legal arguments likely to be presented in the case: (1) the constitutionality of the individual mandate; (2) the severability of the individual mandate and whether or not the remainder of the law is valid without the mandate; and (3) the authority of Congress to impose mandatory Medicaid coverage thresholds on states.  Given the nature of the topic, everyone in the country would benefit from following the proceedings in this landmark case.

 

Modern technology makes televising the proceedings before the Court simple and unobtrusive.  A minimal number of cameras in the courtroom, which could be placed to be barely noticeable to all participants, would provide live coverage of what may be one of the most historic and important arguments of our time.  Letting the world watch would bolster public confidence in our judicial system and in the decisions of the Court.

 

Providing live audio and video coverage of the oral arguments will be of great benefit to the Court and to the public.  Letting the world watch these historic and important proceedings will bolster confidence in our judicial system and the decisions of the Court.

Sincerely,

 

Charles E. Grassley

United States Senator

 

 

 

 

 

cc:        The Honorable Antonin Scalia

The Honorable Anthony M. Kennedy

The Honorable Clarence Thomas

The Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The Honorable Stephen G. Breyer

The Honorable Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr.

The Honorable Sonia Sotomayor

The Honorable Elena Kagan

 
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