Mark Anliker and Robert Park
In Texas, Mexican national Edgar Tamayo was executed by lethal injection, having been denied a delayed execution date by the Supreme Court. His execution raises questions of American compliance with various international agreements, particularly an agreement between the United States and Mexico that would have required Tamayo to have been informed of his right to seek legal aid from the Mexican consulate following his arrest. The execution took place on January 22nd, nineteen years after Tamayo was sentenced to death for the fatal shooting of Guy Gaddis, a Houston police officer.
National drug policies have also been stirred up this month both in the legislature and in the court room. The Florida Supreme Court approved a ballot initiative challenged by the Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to put the legalization of medical marijuana in the state to the voters. The US Supreme Court also ruled this month to alleviate sentencing penalties for drug dealers in Burrage v. US. The Supreme Court overturned one of the defendant’s twenty-year convictions for causing the death of a client through the distribution of heroin to that client on the grounds that it was not proven by federal prosecutors that heroin was the proximate cause of death.
President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address brought to the forefront the issue of Guantanamo Bay. The President urged Congress to lift the remaining restrictions on detainee transfers so that the prison could be closed under the law. Both the original establishment of the prison at Guantanamo as well as the closing which the nation seems to be creeping inexorably toward brings to light very important questions about international law, wartime laws, and elusively complex legal rights of due process.
New York State Supreme Court Justice Barbara Kapnick recently approved an $8.5 billion Bank of America settlement over investor losses from mortgage-backed securities. Justice Kapnick concluded in her opinion that Bank of America acted reasonably; with critics of the settlement arguing that it represented only a fraction of the losses. The claims for the settlement arose during the recent recession with claims against trust creator Countrywide Financial Corp. and trust servicer Bank of America which bought Countrywide.
Finally, Italy’s Supreme Court overturned the appealed ruling that Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were not guilty of murdering Knox’s former study abroad roommate, Meredith Kercher. This case initially caught attention in 2011, when the Italian appeals court overruled an initial ruling by a municipal court that found Amanda Knox (an American college student) and Raffaele Sollecito (An Italian National) guilty of murdering Ms. Kercher (A British college student). The major controversy that now surrounds the recent ruling is the possible extradition of an American citizen to foreign soil. U.S. law dictates that a person cannot be tried twice on the same charge but there is a valid Italian-U.S. extradition agreement on the table.