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May 22nd, 2009
02:58 PM ET

Free Euna Lee and Laura Ling

Jami Floyd
In Session Anchor

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/22/ling-laura-lisa-mom.jpg caption="Laura Ling, far right, with her mother, center, and sister Lisa Ling, left"]

Roxana Saberi is free. The Iranian government had accused the young reporter of spying but, under international pressure, Iran reduced the eight year prison sentence to two years and suspended it. So she’s coming home and that’s good news.

But there has been no such outcry about Laura Ling and Euna Lee, two other young reporters, behind bars in North Korea. It’s hard to know why some stories take off and others do not. But I do believe that more Americans would care about Laura and Euna if they knew about their plight.

The North Korean government says the women are spies but they are not; they are journalists, and more. Laura is a daughter and a sister. Euna is a mother, with a four-year-old daughter Hannah, who misses her mother terribly.

Read more...


Filed under: 360° Radar • 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.”

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/18/jury-box-generic.jpg]

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.”

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/12/edwards-elizabeth-john.jpg caption="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.”

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/07/scheck-neufeld.jpg caption="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.”

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/06/rice-condi-bush.jpg]

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 4th, 2009
05:57 PM ET

Change comes slowly

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

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/04/souter-david-justice.jpg]

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
May 1st, 2009
05:43 PM ET

Our common humanity

Jami Floyd
In Session anchor

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/01/swine-flu-mex-police.jpg caption="Mexican police stand guard wearing surgery masks in Mexico City "]

Conservatives are already starting to blame swine flu cases, here in the US, on Mexican immigrants. Of course, there is no evidence that Mexican immigrants, legal or otherwise, are responsible. But some conservative talking heads don’t care about the facts. The pundit pit is filled with folks who want to use the imminent flu pandemic to pander to the right; but they’d better be careful.

The evidence suggests that this virus started at a factory farm. Oh sure, it’s in Mexico; but it is owned by a U.S. company. There are a million pigs on the farm, at any given time. The conditions are deplorable, with huge lagoons of manure and rotting pig carcasses strewn about and swarms of flies feeding on the mess.

And flies carry influenza.

Read more...


Filed under: In Session • Jami Floyd • Mexico
May 1st, 2009
04:47 AM ET

High expectations

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

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/30/obama-100days-presser.jpg]

Jami Floyd
AC360° Contributor
In Session Anchor

One hundred days ago, when Barack Obama took office, the country was full of high expectations. Change was afoot in America. Comparisons were made to Kennedy and FDR and, most often, to our greatest president, Lincoln. Even those who had supported his opponent were hopeful that this new young leader would get our country back on track.

One hundred days sure goes by quickly doesn’t it?

Here we are 100 days later and already we’re asking: What has he done for me lately?

Even the president has had to admit that change in Washington comes very slowly: “I can’t just press a button and make the bankers do what it want them to do,” the new President lamented last night at a prime time press conference to mark the occasion, “I can’t just flip a switch and have Congress fall in line.”

FULL POST


Filed under: 360° Radar • In Session • Jami Floyd
April 30th, 2009
11:46 AM ET

The more things change...

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Jami Floyd
In Session

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Voting Rights Act became law 44 years ago; but it has been repeatedly challenged and repeatedly upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Today, it’s back before the justices with a case focused on the usual suspects: Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi, states with a long and ugly history of discrimination at the voting booth. But Section 5, the section of the law specifically at issue, also covers Alaska and parts of California and New York. In fact, there are a total of 16 states that are required to get approval from the Justice Department before they can change any of their statutory voting procedures.

Some of these states are actually asking the justices to uphold the law as a model of civil rights integrity and enforcement.

But, God love ‘em, Georgia and Alabama, states with the most notorious of histories, are fighting the case tooth and nail. They argue that there is no need for a law rooted in the past, a law passed 25 years ago; and they’re pointing to Barack Obama as proof.

FULL POST


Filed under: In Session • Jami Floyd • Justice Department
April 28th, 2009
02:46 PM ET

The strength of our convictions

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/28/watkins-craig-dallas-da.jpg caption="Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins is reviewing DNA cases."]

Jami Floyd | Bio
In Session

For more than a decade, innocent people behind bars have been fighting for DNA testing. And at every turn, it seems, prosecutors were there to stop them — denying access to the DNA material, denying the very possibility of a wrongful conviction.

But we know now, hundreds of exonerations later, that mistakes are made; and slowly the tide is changing. Prosecutors, across the country, are beginning to question the strength of their convictions. They should. As the pace of DNA exonerations has increased in recent years, we have been faced with the disturbing truth: Our criminal justice system is broken; and it needs to be fixed.

Read more...


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • In Session • Jami Floyd
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