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June 15th, 2009
08:15 AM ET

‘Pelham’ in post 9/11 New York

Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on “In Session.”

Jami Floyd
AC360° contributor and In Session anchor

I just saw Pelham (as in “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3″. It is a remake of one of a 1970s film — one of my favorites during my childhood in New York City. This remake is every bit as good (though entirely different) from the original. The director Tony Scott is a master of action filmmaking and he’s updated this cat-and-mouse game with beautiful color, quick cutting and masterful camera work, not to mention two brilliantly cast marquee stars in Denzel Washington and John Travolta.

Scott’s New York City is beautiful, sleek and clean. If one is to speak honestly, it is more the New York City of our hearts and minds than the city we New Yorkers live in every day. There is only one rat in the entire film and nary a cockroach to be seen. But he captures the spirit of New York and turns it into a visual masterpiece.

At bottom, Pelham is an homage to our city and our beloved subway system; it is a fantastic film.

FULL POST


Filed under: 360° Radar • In Session • Jami Floyd
June 8th, 2009
05:21 PM ET

To tell the truth

Euna Lee, left, and Laura Ling

Euna Lee, left, and Laura Ling

Jami Floyd
In Session anchor

Two American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, have been convicted of “severe crimes” in North Korea. North Korea is not a country known for its fair trials, so we don’t know what these “severe crimes” are; but we do know that the women had previously been charged with “hostile acts” and espionage — which, of course, fuels rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea and calls for a delicate diplomatic balancing act.

There is the humanitarian issue: trying to get these women out; and there is the political issue: North Korea, its nuclear testing and relationship with the rest of the world.

There are no diplomatic relations between the U.S. and North Korea.

This whole mess with Laura and Euna started when they were filming a documentary on the North Korean border with China.

Keep reading


Filed under: 360° Radar • Global 360° • In Session • Jami Floyd • Lisa Ling
June 2nd, 2009
07:23 PM ET

Truth or consequences

Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on
In Session.”

George Tiller

George Tiller

Jami Floyd
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

Dr. George Tiller, one of only a few doctors in the nation who performed abortions late in pregnancy, was shot and killed Sunday — at his church of all places. Whatever you think of abortion, you have to agree that to kill a man at his house of worship on the Sabbath is a cowardly act; and whatever you think of the work he did, Dr. Tiller himself was no coward. He knew this was coming. He’d been shot and nearly killed once before while his clinic had been bombed and he received death threats every day.

The fact that he was killed at church on Sunday adds a cruel irony to a debate that is all about life, death and God. Those who oppose abortion do so because they see it as murder. They are passionate precisely because it is a matter of faith. That’s why the debate can reach a fever pitch.

The bation’s foremost anti-abortion advocacy group, Operation Rescue, was quick to respond to news of the killing. Co-founder Randall Terry said this:

“I stand before you today saying about George Tiller what I said in his life. He was a mass murderer. George Tiller was a mass murderer. He killed tens of thousands of innocent human beings at his own hand…”

Dr. Tiller, however, was not a mass murderer — not under the law. The Supreme Court has said so.
More to the point, this kind of incendiary language does not lead to a healthy debate. It leads to violence.

With the murder of Dr. Tiller, the abortion issue returns to center stage. As we engage in it, please let’s remember, that our words have consequences. The truth is that our differences cannot be resolved by acts of violence.

Find more In Session blogs here.


Filed under: In Session • Jami Floyd • Women's Issues • Women's Rights
May 29th, 2009
08:59 AM ET

Prop hate

Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on
In Session.”

Jami Floyd
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

I clerked for the California Supreme Court so I was uniquely disappointed, but not at all surprised, by the decision of the court this week on gay marriage.

The news got drowned out a bit by the announcement of a nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court which is ironic because this whole gay marriage thing could end up there eventually. But for this state supreme court, the whole question boiled down to the will of the people.

Now, in my humble opinion, the California initiative process is a cop-out. It relieves state legislators of the responsibility of making the hard decisions they were sent there to make; and, it leaves the public holding the bag that contains the thorny really tough questions.

That being said, the justices were loath to overturn a decision made by a majority (however slim) of voters.

The gay marriage fight in California is far from over, however. Yes, the court ruled to uphold Proposition 8; but the ruling does not mean the justices agree with the sum, substance or mean spirit of the law. Remember, the same court upheld same sex marriage in May, 2008. The difference from May, 2008 and now? One election cycle.

Prop 8 passed with 52 percent of the vote. But that is hardly the end of the story. Change is still coming, it just comes slowly. Iowa, Maine and Vermont have recently legalized same sex marriage. Massachusetts before that. And already advocates in California are planning to take it back to the voters.

So the court’s ruling on Proposition 8 was a big moment in the evolution of the law in this area; but it by no means ends the debate.

Find more In Session blogs here.


Filed under: In Session • Jami Floyd
May 19th, 2009
08:30 AM ET

Jury service, not duty

Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on
In Session.”

Jami Floyd
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

Last week, I was called for jury duty. No surprise there; but I was surprised at how many friends, family members and even viewers offered suggestions of how i might get out of it. Others offered their sympathies. But no sympathy is necessary because, unlike too many Americans, I actually like jury duty — cherish it, in fact.

I believe in our constitutional system of justice and the jury is at its core. It is an honor and a privilege to serve.

That is why so many Americans fought for the right to do so. African-Americans weren’t permitted to sit on juries until 1867. Women didn’t get the constitutional right to serve until 1975. If you were black or a woman, a jury of your peers really wasn’t.

No one understood this better than Judith Kaye — the first woman to sit as chief judge for the state of New York, and the longest sitting chief ever. Judge Kaye did a whole lot to make jury duty more meaningful — and more pleasant too.

FULL POST


Filed under: In Session • Jami Floyd
May 12th, 2009
11:39 AM ET

The other woman

Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on
In Session.”

Elizabeth and John Edwards at a campaign event January 1, 2008 in Ames, Iowa.

Elizabeth and John Edwards at a campaign event January 1, 2008 in Ames, Iowa.

Jami Floyd
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

The wife of the former senator from North Carolina who ran for president and then got caught cheating on his wife — a woman who is dying of cancer — is in the news. Elizabeth Edwards is the wife. And now she’s written a new book, entitled “Resilience”. She’s everywhere with it: on “Oprah,” the “Today” show, “Good Morning America”. And I’m fine with it. If this woman wants to write a book before she dies, go right ahead.

But not everyone agrees. Other women are criticizing Elizabeth Edwards and her media tour, calling it a “train wreck” and blaming her for blaming the woman who slept with her husband. The other woman, they say, is not to blame — that you can’t really “steal” another woman’s husband. The implication is that she — the other woman — has a right to sleep with whomever she wants; and that Elizabeth Edwards should blame her husband, which of course she should.

But this other woman is not free from blame, not in my view. If his act was despicable, hers was too — maybe more so.

You disrespect women everywhere when you sleep with another woman’s husband. You disrespect the institution of marriage. And if you don’t care about that, you should at least know that you disrespect yourself.

We women should think more of ourselves than to allow a married man to have his way with us and then go back to his wife, which is what most of them do.

Think about that before you jump into bed with a man who has promised to love someone else until death do they part.

Keep Reading...


Filed under: In Session • Jami Floyd
May 7th, 2009
02:27 PM ET

Help free the innocent

Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on
In Session.”

Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld.

Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld.

Jami Floyd
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

Last night was a big night for the Innocence Project. The once fledgling organization founded by Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld in 1992 has used DNA analysis to secure helf free 237 people. In the process they have systematically identified the causes of, and remedies for wrongful conviction. More than that, they have started a movement across the country, with innocence projects cropping up nationwide.

Last night was a celebration of all they have accomplished, with celebrities like John Grisham and Brook Shields coming out for the cause. Even more meaningful, twelve men and women told their horrific stories of wrongful conviction and bittersweet tales of fighting for, and ultimately winning their freedom.

There were more than 600 people in the room, all supporting the mission. But it’s not enough.

FULL POST


Filed under: In Session • Jami Floyd
May 6th, 2009
04:14 PM ET

The chilling effect

Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on
In Session.”

Jami Floyd
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

I like Condoleezza Rice. I met her at the Glamour Awards dinner last fall where she was honored for her work in Africa. It was the Tuesday after the presidential election and she spoke honestly, before a distinctly liberal audience, about what it meant for her, as a child of segregation, to see a black man in the Oval Office. She was graceful, eloquent and yes, even beautiful.

But here’s what she had to say last week, back at her old stomping ground — and mine — Stanford University: “Anything that was legal and was going to make this country safer the President wanted to do. Nothing that was illegal, and nothing that was going to make this country less safe. And I’ll tell you something – unless you were there, in a position of responsibility after September 11th, you can not possibly imagine the dilemmas that you faced in trying to protect Americans.”

With all do respect to the former Secretary of State, she is just wrong on this. No one, not even the President, in a time of war, is above the law. But, while I disagree with Secretary Rice, there is something I find even more troubling in this latest dust up over her remarks: The fact that we were privy to them at all.

The video of her comments hit YouTube, after an informal meeting with students at Roble Hall, a dormitory on campus. When a young man engaged Professor Rice on the issues of torture and presidential powers, she listened respectfully and took up the debate. This is, after all, what teachers and students have done going all the way back to Plato and Socrates.

But now, every conversation a scholar has with students can show up on the internet. What would Socrates have to say about that? I think he’d say that this kind of ambush-video blogging can only hinder the healthy exchange of ideas on campus. And he’d be right.

What will happen to open and honest debate? How will students, like the confident young man who challenged a former Secretary of State, hone their arguments, or perhaps even rethink them?

Simply put, they won’t. The debate won’t happen. The dialogue will stop.

The chilling effect has begun. And we are all the worse for it.


Filed under: In Session • Jami Floyd
May 5th, 2009
05:03 PM ET

Petty crime doesn’t pay

Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on
“In Session.”

Jami Floyd
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

We are wasting millions of tax dollars to prosecute petty offenses in this country, creating huge deficits in state and local budgets, and violating the Constitution while we’re at it. That’s according to a new report from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. And it is true, we criminal defense attorneys are a biased bunch, always looking out for the Constitution. But if that’s not enough to convince you, think about the cost.

Incarceration costs an average of $50 to $60 per person per day; and that’s not counting the expensive prosecution of these kinds of cases.

Like most criminal lawyers, I cut my teeth on misdemeanors; I can tell you, from personal experience, the volume is staggering. The average state misdemeanor rate is 3,500 cases per 100,000 citizens. That means taxpayers are paying for more than 10 million misdemeanor prosecutions per year. The courts are clogged, public defenders and prosecutors are forced to handle hundreds more cases than they can ethically manage, while spending just minutes preparing for each case. And yes, defendants are completely deprived of their constitutional right to counsel. Click on link to view NACDL report.

FULL POST


Filed under: In Session
May 4th, 2009
05:57 PM ET

Change comes slowly

Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on
“In Session.”

Jami Floyd
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

By all accounts, President Barack Obama will appoint a woman to the U.S. Supreme Court seat soon to be vacated by Justice David Souter. The short list is made up almost entirely of women: women governors, women judges, women law professors.

In fact, women hold dozens of seats on the nations’ appellate courts, deanships at top law schools, and some of the highest political offices. It is, quite simply, a different landscape than almost 30 years ago when Justice Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to serve on the highest court: Two hundred women are federal judges; one hundred sit on state supreme courts; And, one-third of chief justices of those courts are women. Seven governors are women.

But, even if a woman is appointed, let’s not be fooled into thinking that full equality is a reality.

FULL POST


Filed under: In Session • Jami Floyd
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