Monthly Archives: June 2010

May Wine

Still behind my goal for the year, but I did taste several wines at a Riedel class/wine dinner, but I didn’t take any notes on them.

5 wines this month.

2008 Paul D Gruner Veltliner

2008 Rock Rabbit Sauvignon Blanc

2007 Valintin Bianchi Malbec

2007 Alexander Vinyards Merlot (Wetzel Family Estate)

2007 Finca Filchman Malbec Reserva

The Paul D was a fantastic deal, a Liter of wine, rated 4/5, for under $10.  Great summer sipper if you can find it.

33 wines thus far in 2010, I should be closer to 42 to be on track to get to 100.   Gonna need to blow through a case of the month here soon to catch up!

The Right Call

The Supreme Court made the right call in Berghuis v. Thompkins, as it’s the individual’s responsibility to know his rights.

The four liberals dissented in an opinion by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a former Manhattan prosecutor who warned that, “Today’s decision turns Miranda upside down.”

The 1966 Miranda v. Arizona ruling — which protects suspects against self-incrimination and requires the warnings police give people in custody to let them know they have the right to remain silent — has been deeply woven into American culture. Yet, it remains controversial, as recent debate over Miranda rights for terrorism suspects shows.

Tuesday’s case did not touch on that controversy but rather addressed ambiguous signals a suspect may send regarding whether he wants an interrogation to stop after he has been properly read his rights.

The Michigan case specifically tested what happens when a suspect says barely anything during questioning but near the end blurts out an incriminating statement, and then claims that he had wanted to remain silent and that the statement was not made voluntarily.

Van Chester Thompkins, accused of first-degree murder in the 2000 shooting death of Samuel Morris outside a mall in Southfield, Mich., said little to police during a three-hour interrogation, at the start of which he had been read the Miranda warnings. He never explicitly said he wanted to stay silent and he never asked for a lawyer.

At one point, an officer asked, “Do you believe in God?” Thompkins said yes. The officer then asked, “Do you pray to God to forgive you for shooting that boy down?” Thompkins said yes and looked away, according to the record in the case.

A jury found Thompkins guilty of murder and he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

On appeal, Thompkins said he invoked his right to remain silent by refusing to answer questions for a long period of time and that the interrogation should have ended before he made his incriminating remark.

A U.S. appeals court agreed, rejecting arguments from Michigan officials that there was an implied waiver of Thompkins’ right to remain silent.

The Constitution is clear, you have the right to remain silent.  That doesn’t mean you have a right to not be questioned, and it doesn’t mean that if you are silent for a while and then incriminate yourself, you have a do over.  You waive your right when you stop being silent.

Sotomayor called their decision “a substantial retreat from the protection against compelled self-incrimination.”

In her most passionate opinion to date, Sotomayor, who joined the court last year, said the majority decision undercuts the “heavy burden” the government should carry to show that a defendant knowingly and intelligently waived his right against self-incrimination.

I’m glad to see the immediate reaction is to defer to the individual over the government, but in this case, the individual never lost his protection from self incrimination; he was just too stupid to shut up.

Plain and simple, when the police put cuffs on you, simply say “I want a lawyer”.  Nothing else.  It’s not that hard.

Maryland Comptroller Studying Wine Shipping

Well, that sounds positive.  Until you realize the only people invited to the first meeting were representatives of the liquor distribution industry.  No consumers attended the meeting.

Wine drinkers said they were dismayed to find that they weren’t invited to the first meeting last week held by the Maryland comptroller’s office to study the wine-shipping issue.

The study commission seems to be focused on the potential impact on liquor wholesalers and distributors, and could “overlook” consumers, said Adam Borden, former executive director of Marylanders for Better Beer and Wine Laws.

Of course anything they do will be focused on liquor wholesalers and distributors.  That’s who write the checks to those campaigns.

There’s an election in November, Maryland.  Time to do some housecleaning.  Ask your representatives where they stand on this issue, and how much money they take from distributors.  If you don’t like the answers, vote for someone else.

Top Posts in May

Blogging has been a little lighter recently (and traffic’s down, too); here are the top three posts by pageview for May

The Angry Inch

The War on Drugs

Quote of the Day, Rippetoe Edition.

As always, thanks for reading, and don’t be afraid to leave a comment.

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