Capital Punishment in the United States

Though still a controversial issue, capital punishment continues to be practiced in the US. The death penalty is still a form of punishment that is practiced in 31 states, the federal government and the military.

Capital crimes

These are crimes for which someone can be sentenced to death:

1. Aggravated murder

This includes murder which involves the rape of the victim, the murder of an on-duty police officer and robbery-murder in almost all states. However, most aggravating factors vary from state to state. Some states have even included child murder in their list of aggravating factors.

2. Crimes against the state

These may include treason, espionage, terrorism and large-scale drug trafficking.

Methods of execution

The death penalty can be executed in several ways. Some states have only one method of execution available while there are those who provide for more than one method.

1. Lethal injection

This is the most common method of execution in the United States. The lethal injection is the primary method of execution available in all 31 states that allow the death penalty. However, other methods are available in most states.
In several states, they use a concoction of three drugs to execute this sentence while some states use a single drug.

2. Electrocution

This method of execution is available in 8 of the 31 states that have the death penalty. These states are Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Arkansas, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

3. Hanging

This method of execution is only available in 2 states; New Hampshire and Washington. While offenders in Washington are allowed to choose this method over lethal injection, those in New Hampshire can only be hanged when the lethal injection is unavailable.

4. Gas inhalation

This type of execution is available in Wyoming, Missouri, Oklahoma, California, and Arizona. In the first three states, gas inhalation is only used as a backup method when lethal injection is unavailable.
However, in Arizona, an offender can choose to use this method even in the availability of the lethal injection. In California, it is both a backup method and an offender choice.

5. Firing squad

man standing in front of firing squad

Execution by firing squad is rare and is only allowed in 2 states; Utah and Oklahoma. In Utah, it is only administered if an offender chooses it while in Oklahoma it serves as a backup method. It is also worth mentioning that Oklahoma is the only state that offers more than two execution methods.

Prevalence of the death penalty

Although offenders are still sentenced to death in the US, it’s a rare occurrence. Currently, there is an average of one death sentence for every 200 murder convictions.

A Review of the U.S Immigration Law

The United States has been dubbed the land of opportunities. For this reason, many people seek to move there in search of better livelihoods. The US has a complex immigration law, which was established to stipulate who are allowed to move into the country, and how long they are allowed to live and work in the US. The immigration law similarly dictates the deportation process of individuals who enter and live in the country illegally.

picture of immigration documents

Immigration to the US is often based on several factors. These include the reunification of family members, the admission of skilled immigrants who might benefit the country’s economy, the protection of refugees fleeing from war torn countries, and the promotion of national diversity. Understanding these provisions can help one to establish how America’s legal immigration system works.

Family-Based Immigration

The unification of families is one of the most significant principles that govern the US immigration law. In this regard, the law allows LPR’s and US citizens to bring specific family members into the country. Family based immigrants may either be admitted as immediate relatives of American citizens or via the family preference systems. Those who are allowed into the US via this system include spouses of American citizens, unmarried children of US citizens who are under 21 years old, and parents of American citizens.

Employment-Based Immigration

The United States allows immigrants who have valuable skills to work in the country on temporary or permanent basis. Temporary employment visas allow foreign nationals to work in the country for limited periods. Their ability to change jobs is equally limited. On the other hand, permanent employment-based immigration visas allow immigrants and their eligible spouses and unmarried children to enter the country.

Refugees and Asylum Seekers

The US immigration law is dedicated to protecting refugees, asylum seekers, and other vulnerable persons. Refugees can be allowed to enter the US if it is proven that they face persecution by returning to their home countries. The number of refugees who can be admitted into the US every year is determined by the President and the Congress, which places an admission ceiling.

The Diversity Visa Program

This visa program was created in 1990 and targets countries that have low immigration rates into the US. Each year, 55,000 visas are randomly allocated to citizens from nations with less than 50,000 immigrants to the US over the last five years. To be eligible for this program, one must have attained high school education or its equivalence.

The DEA

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

Its mission is to enforce existing laws and regulations of controlled substances. They collaborate with other law enforcement agencies – state, local and federal – to seize illegal drugs and arrest individuals involved in their manufacturing (growth and harvesting), dispensing and selling or distribution. They also play a significant role in assisting foreign governments.

DEA agents also gather evidence for the prosecution of violators, at interstate or international levels. Federal law’s punishment for offenders can be still. The conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute more than one kilogram of heroin could range from 10 years to life imprisonment. When prosecutors add the intent to launder money to the charges, the sentence can rise to 20 years to life.

The list of controlled substances continues to expand rapidly. In addition to narcotics like heroin, oxycodone, opium and morphine, there are stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamines. Illegal drugs are under the umbrella of hallucinogens and include LSD, Inhalants and another classification are depressants like barbiturates. Like the FBI, the DEA also publishes a list of their top wanted fugitives. It’s not just illegal drug kingpins who are involved in dispensing controlled substances. Often, those in the medical field, such as physicians or pharmacies.

Notable Cases
In October 2015, a physician in Los Angeles was the first medical professional was convicted of three counts of second-degree murder. His charges stemmed for illegally prescribing massive amounts of dangerous, addictive drugs to patients who had no need of them. Consequently, the patients died of overdoses. This guilty verdict was the first doctor in the U.S. to be convicted of murder in a crime involving illegal drugs. The doctor was sentenced to 30 years to life.
Another capture of a drug war lord that made the news was that of Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman-Loera. He had been an elusive fugitive for years, and even escaped from his Mexican prison. He was extradited from Mexico in January 2017 to New York and awaits charges for allegedly organizing a drug trafficking enterprise, murder and money laundering.

Abby Lee Miller

Should Abby Lee Miller be Sentenced to 2 ½ Years in Prison?

Who is Abby Lee Miller?

If you do not know about Abby Lee Miller, you have been missing out on an entertaining, yet controversial woman. Abby Lee Miller is the owner of Abby Lee Dance Company. Abby’s dance studio is featured in the hit Lifetime television series, “Dance Moms.” On Dance Moms, Abby is known as the dance teacher who can be rather harsh to her students, but who also has had a large part in creating talented, and successful dancers.

For the past 5 seasons of Dance Moms, things seemed to be looking pretty good for Abby. She was engaged in different business endeavors, had students who were taking off in the entertainment industry, and she had a new dance studio in LA. However, things began to take a turn for Abby when she was charged with bankruptcy fraud in 2015. Before Dance Moms started, Abby was going through a tough time financially. Abby eventually filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. When Dance Moms started, Abby began making a lot of money from a lot of different projects she was involved. Unfortunately, it is said that Abby hid or tried to hide $750,000 of those profits. She also did not report thousands of dollars that she received while visiting Australia one time. Abby eventually pled guilty to a couple of the charges. I am not positive if this is correct, but it has been said that Abby paid the money back that she owed. In the end, Abby may be facing up to 2 ½ years in prison. She is hoping to receive probation.

Is the Crime Worth the Punishment?

Do you feel that Abby Lee Miller deserves probation, or a 2 ½ year sentence? Is 2 ½ years too long of a sentence for a crime? I personally think that it may be.

At first, I was completely against Abby being sentenced to jail. I think I let the idea of seeing little kids without their dance teacher cloud my thoughts. At the end of the day, however, she committed a crime. All of the sparkly costumes and camera lights cannot change that.

However, I often wonder if people should be given some sort of leniency when it is there first offense. This is just a personal thought; I am not expecting anyone to agree. I understand that this is a grown woman who knew better. However, I think that it is very easy to lock someone up and throw away the key. It is also very easy to look at someone else’s life and make judgment calls when it is not us in the situation. I don’t know. If she paid the money back, and if she never committed a crime prior to this, I question a 2 ½ year sentence. Not just for Abby, but for a lot of people who are currently in jail or who are awaiting a sentence. I personally support showing people as much mercy as possible. I understand that people can do so some unthinkable things, but still, we all make mistakes. A lot of people do a lot of crazy things, and they never get caught. Somehow, however, they have no issue commenting on what strangers do and what kind of sentence those strangers deserve.

Trust me, I know that what she did was 100% wrong. I just question her possible sentence time. In the end, we will just have to wait until her sentencing date, which should be coming up soon. Who knows, she may end up getting probation. What do you think? I would love to read your thoughts and opinions. Feel free to leave a comment down below about your take on this situation and/or situations similar to it.

Senate Procedure: The Filibuster and More

Procedure in the U.S. Senate is a complicated subject. Yet, several aspects of it have been in the news lately because of the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to be the next associate justice of the Supreme Court. Democrats in the Senate tried to prevent the Senate from confirming Gorsuch by filibustering his nomination. In response, Senate Republicans used a technical procedure called the nuclear option to invoke cloture and defeat the Democrats’ filibuster. Let’s take a closer look at what all this means.

Filibuster

A filibuster can take many forms, but when most people think of a filibuster, they probably imagine a lone senator keeping command of the Senate floor by talking for hours on end. This tactic was memorably depicted by Jimmy Stewart in the 1939 film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. But today, a filibuster is usually much less dramatic than that. As long as some senators refuse to allow a vote on a bill or nomination, the Senate must first take a vote about whether it should vote on the bill or nomination. (See? Senate procedure is complicated!) If enough senators vote no, they can prevent a vote indefinitely, unless enough senators on the other side invoke cloture.

Cloture

To end a filibuster, 16 senators can team up to file a cloture petition with the Senate clerk. Two days after the petition is filed, it becomes “ripe” and can be voted on. How many senators it takes to invoke cloture depends on the matter up for a vote. If it’s legislation, it takes the affirmative vote of at least 60 senators to invoke cloture. But for nominations, only 51 votes are required. After cloture is invoked in this way, senators can only debate the issue for 30 more hours. Once that 30 hours expires, they’ll have to take a vote.

The Nuclear Option

The nuclear option is a tactic that is rooted in the constitutional power of a simple majority in the Senate (i.e., 51 senators) to change Senate rules. The nuclear option has been used twice in recent history. The first time was in 2013. Before then, invoking cloture on a lower-court or executive nomination required 60 votes, just like it still does for legislation. But in November 2013, Democrats in the Senate used the nuclear option to change that requirement to 51 votes. The second time was this year, when Republicans in the Senate used the same approach to change the required cloture vote for Supreme Court nominations. Now, cloture can be invoked on any nomination if 51 senators vote for it. Thanks to the increasing partisanship among senators, it may be only a matter of time before a Republican or Democratic majority decides to use the nuclear option to change the required cloture vote for legislation, too. But for now it remains fixed at 60.

Of course, Senate procedure is even more complicated than this brief blog post lets on. Really, we’ve only scratched the surface. But hopefully you now have a better understanding of this little slice of procedure in the Senate that’s been so prominent in the news lately.

Health Law

Health law is the law governs health care for individuals and for the public. This can include insurance coverage, direct health care, ethical issues related to health care, drug supply and the providers of health care. Health law can include laws that govern issues relating to public health as well as medical health for people who are ill. Health law is enforced at the federal, state and local government levels. Only certain lawyers who are trained specifically in health law can work within the health law sphere of law.

Health Lawyers

A lawyer that practices health law must obtain additional knowledge through education to become certified to specialize in health law. Often lawyers wanting to work as a health lawyer need to return to university to undertake a masters degree to be fully qualified to give advise and represent clients in the area of health law. A health lawyer can work with individual clients or for hospitals, doctors, pharmacies or insurance companies.

Popular Areas of Health Law

Medical Law

Medical law relates specifically to rights and responsibilities of medical professionals and their patients. Medical law covers areas such as confidentiality between patients and medical practitioners, ethics and negligence. If there is harm done to a patient from a medical professional then the case becomes an issue of medical malpractice.

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is an area of health law relating to medical treatment. It is the negligence or malpractice of a medical professional that led to injury or death of a patient. This can include when a doctor makes a mistake with their diagnosis or the treatment drugs that they prescribe. Medical malpractice cases that go to court are usually civil cases. Although, occasionally the medical professional is charged with a criminal crime of malpractice and the case is held as a criminal case in court.

Public Health Law

Public health law pertains to issues that affect the well being of the general public. Public health law aims to improve the well being and level of health within the population. The issues that can affect public health are typically disease and disease prevention. One way that many diseases have been controlled or eradicated from the general population is through mandatory vaccinations that are required by law of all children.

An In-Depth Review of Intellectual Property Law

An In-Depth Review of Intellectual Property Law

Intellectual property law covers matters pertaining to the legal rights that individuals have to their inventions, artistic works, and designs. This law typically protects the exclusive control and use of intangible assets with the objective of giving individuals the incentive to develop creative works that are beneficial to the society. In doing so, such individuals can also fully profit from their labor without the fear of fraud.

shaking hands over property negotiation

The US constitution grants Congress the power to grant inventors and authors exclusive rights to their conceptions. The Intellectual Property Law is administered by the US Copyright Office and the US Patent and Trademark Office. Patents give designers and creators exclusive rights to use their creations in the marketplace. This way, they can also profit if they choose to transfer the right to an individual or an organization.

Generally, trademarks protect slogans, names, and symbols used by designers and creators to distinguish their products. Rights have the potential to last for ages, and can also be obtained using a mark. Although it is not mandatory, owners are advised to register their trademarks since it guarantees additional protection against exploitation.

Protecting Your Intellectual Property from Infringement

If your business is synonymous with a particular trademark, you should protect your intellectual property since it goes a long way in determining the success of your establishment. The complex nature of today’s corporate world has led to a rise of copyright infringement incidents. This is basically the unapproved use of intellectual property. The easiest way of deterring infringement is by providing notices. This increases the visibility of your rights, thus putting you in a better position to sue anyone who infringes on your rights.

You can deter would-be infringers by marking your products with the number that the Patent and Trademark Office will assign to you. If you are yet to be assigned a patent number, you can include a “patent pending” label on your product. This will deter others from copying your design before you are assigned a patent. Notice of copyrights and trademarks can be given by using appropriate symbols such as ™, and © on the product. Thereafter, you are required to register the copyright or trademark so that it can be added to official government records. You can sue those who go ahead to infringe on your trademark.

Does Social Media Permit Defamation

If you go on any Instagram post of a celebrity or social media influencer, you are bound to see a bunch of false claims about them. Almost every day that I get online, I read some article or comment about someone in the spotlight that contains incorrect information. The growth of social media has also created the growth of false information; it has allowed for this false information to travel all around the world. Since there are so many people using social media all day long, I feel as though the creators of these platforms find it futile to try to control everything that every user says. By allowing all of these false things to be published by users, is social media permitting defamation?

I believe that it does. For whatever reason, people feel extremely powerful behind their computer screens. In a way, that is a great. It is important that people have a place to voice their thoughts and opinions. Social media allows people to voice their thoughts and opinions on any topic that they please. That being said, a lot of people abuse that power. They think that social media is a place for them to talk about other people in a negative light, and shed gossip and lies all over the internet.

The major problem with that, is that there are not always a lot of repercussions for doing these things. When it comes to celebrities, I understand that it would be impossible to stop people from spreading lies about them since they are in the light, and have a large following on social media. I also think that a lot people are desensitized to the false media, and know when a lot of information is not true. However, I feel that as many false claims should be as monitored as possible – even for celebrities.

People are now creating false websites, tweets, Facebook pages about non-celebrities. Reputations, livelihoods, and families have been ruined by defamation through social media. There needs to be something to stop permitting defamation through social media. Some kind of repercussion. You will never be able to fully stop murder, stealing, defamation, etc. However, there can be a way to control those things. We need to begin addressing these different issues that come with social media by taking legal action.

What do you all think about this topic?

Personal Injury Cases

A person who has suffered personal injury can hire a lawyer and file a lawsuit against the party who caused them injury. Personal injury can include accidents where the person was injured or malpractice where a mistake occurred during a medical procedure. Personal injury cases are part of civil law cases. This is where the party who has filed the complaint in court is seeking financial compensation for damages. This is different to a criminal case where the nature of the crime is criminal and criminal charges are being pressed.

suffering from a personal injury

Steps In A Personal Injury Case

There are many steps in a personal injury case and many depending on the circumstances many ways the case can go. Some cases go to trial whilst others are resolved out of court.

Hiring A Personal Injury Lawyer

A person seeking compensation for a personal injury case needs to hire a personal injury lawyer to represent them. A personal injury lawyer is a qualified lawyer with experience specifically in civil litigation and personal injury cases. Usually a lawyer dealing with personal injury law is more experienced in tort law than other lawyers. This refers to law that falls under civil wrongdoings, economic damage to a person, or defamation cases where a person’s property or reputation is damaged.

Filing A Complaint

In order to make a claim for personal injury compensation, an official complaint needs to first be filed by the person claiming injury. Once a lawyer has been hired, the official complaint can be lodged. This is the official lodging of a lawsuit against the party accused of causing damages.

Informal Settlement

The common option in a personal injury case is for the case to be settled through an informal settlement agreement. This is where the two parties involved in the dispute come to an agreement through negotiation. This negotiation normally involves the lawyers for each party and insurance companies. If negotiation works then the aggrieved party will receive an agreed upon amount of money as compensation.

Going To Court

If an informal settlement agreement cannot be negotiated out of court then the case goes to trial with a judge and jury to gain an official judgement. This option is costly and will take a long time for the case to reach the courts. Personal injury court cases occur when the two parties cannot come to a fair amount of compensation to settle for or when the defending party does not agree to provide compensation. The aggrieved party will then go to court to ask the judge to award compensation to them for the personal injury. Let me know your thoughts!

What is Impeachment

One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Alexander Hamilton explained that impeachment involves the misconduct of public officials who potentially misuse or abuse the public’s trust.

The framers of the Constitution were so fearful that a person with too much executive power may be tempted to abuse it, that they felt it was mandatory to include it in their writing. During the Federal Constitutional Convention they decided to describe the proper venue, process for such a trial, classify which crimes should be considered as impeachable offenses, and finally address the likelihood of gaining a conviction.

Reasons for Impeachment
At the top of the list were treason and bribery. After some discussion, they added an all-encompassing, kind of catch-all phrase: high crimes and misdemeanors. While it was broad, it wasn’t very specific.
The House of Representatives has begun impeachment proceedings nearly 60 times, but only 8 were convicted and removed from office by the Senate. These 8 were federal judges. In 1876, a cabinet secretary was impeached and in 1797, a North Carolina senator was impeached.

In any impeachment process the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has the duty of presiding over the Senate’s trial.
Only two U.S. Presidents have been impeached: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Vice President Johnson assumed the presidency upon the death of Abraham Lincoln. Johnson had been a major obstacle and non-supporter of the Radical Republicans’ reconstruction program. Finally the U.S. House of Representatives, which is the only body allowed to bring impeachment charges, tired of his defiance and brought charges against him. The trial lasted 11 weeks and Johnson escaped being removed from office by only one vote.

In 1998, the House of Representatives approved an article of impeachment again President Bill Clinton. He was accused of lying to a federal grand jury about the nature of his relationship with an intern. The Senate put the president on trial but the president was acquitted.