Friday, October 30, 2009

Double Jeopardy in the New Hate Crimes Legislation?

by Maggie at Maggie's Notebook

A few days ago, Hans Bader writing for Stop the ACLU reported on the hate crimes legislation Bill. This article is intended to be a further discussion of what is behind the language in the Bill. The question is, is double jeopardy a factor in this new legislative language?

Dual Sovereignty

The answer is kinda-sorta. It's really more about The Dual Sovereignty Doctrine negating the double jeopardy clause in the 5th Amendment.

The government now does have the right to try hate crime suspects after they have been tried by the state, and even if already tried and found guilty by the state. This position is confirmed by a letter from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to members of the U.S. Senate. Read it at NationaReviewOnLine. So how does it happen a person can be tried twice for the same crime?

Here is a portion that I believe gives the DOJ the opportunity to retry a hate crime: (The text of the Bill is here).

(b) (1) IN GENERAL - No prosecution of any offense described in the subsection may be undertaken by the United States, except under the certification in writing of the Attorney General, or his designee, that- (C) the verdict or sentence obtained pursuant to State charges left demonstratively unvindicated the Federal interest in eradicating bias-motivated violence; or (D) a prosecution by the United States is in the public interest and necessary to secure substantial justice.

(b) (2) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION- Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to limit the authority of Federal officers, or a Federal grand jury, to investigate possible violations of this section.

This gives the DOJ the right to try any case on behalf of a victim they feel has not received justice, while also eliminating "the badges...and relics of slavery and involuntary servitude."

 A quick reading of the Bill might lead you to think it will simply "support" state's with money, but it goes much deeper than the $5 million to be given to states in each of the years 2010 and 2011. If a state can "certify" the need for government assistance to "investigate or prosecute the hate crime," then that state will get that assistance. But read about the"sham and cover" exception a few paragraphs below. We have to ask why this administration believes this legislation is necessary.

The Dual Sovereignty Doctrine expects those administering under the Doctrine to "limit" their actions. This from TheFreeLibrary:
The court did not, however, fully eliminate the double jeopardy prohibition from this context. The dual sovereignty doctrine continues to be limited by what is referred to as the "sham" exception, which was described by the Bartkus Court.

The sham exception provides that a prosecution by one sovereign cannot be used as a "sham and a cover" for another sovereign's re-prosecution of the same defendant.

This doctrine would operate to prevent, on double jeopardy grounds, a prosecution brought by one sovereign with the encouragement and support of another sovereign that has already failed in its attempt to prosecute the same defendant.

The doctrine is founded on the rationale that the two sovereigns are acting as one. Unfortunately, this exception has been construed so narrowly as to make it difficult to be utilized successfully.
Apparently, this DOJ and Barack Obama believe that justice is not done often enough, and courts do not punish, often enough, those who commit hate crimes? So the question remains: is it possible for any violent crime to be classified as a “hate crime” when it is perpetrated against a Jewish or a white person?

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