Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Institution of Marriage and Family in the Balance

As we have discussed on the podcast on a number of occasions, the issue of gay marriage and redefining family and marriage under Maryland law has been a hot topic in this year's General Assembly session. The most insidious efforts have been to pass seemingly benign bills, often with misleading titles, which would radically alter the way the law treats marriage without the public or legislative scrutiny of the sponsors' true purpose.

From my State Senator, and ardent defender of marriage, Janet Greenip (R-33) comes the following:

Senate Bill 566: Health Care Facility Visitation and Medical Decisions - Domestic Partners is on the Senate floor today for debate and a possible vote. This bill is another in a long line of backdoor attempts to codify same-sex unions and elevate co-habitation to the level of marriage.

Although many will say it does not, this legislation will put the term "Domestic Partner" in law, something the homosexual-rights activists have been striving for.

This bill goes way beyond giving homosexual couples visitation rights, which they already have because of previous legislation. SB 566 would allow any two people, age 18 or older, to enter into a domestic partnership by simply signing an affidavit demonstrating their commitment and having only one other type of confirmation such as a shared renter's insurance policy. Picture this: Two 18 year olds right out of high school enter into a domestic partnership because they are "in love". If one of them gets into a car accident and is on life support, the 18 YEAR OLD partner has the legal right to pull the plug AHEAD of the victim's parents.

This is a radical step towards redefining family relationships but a lot of legislators are not recognizing the serious effects of SB 566. Below is a vote that we took in the Senate yesterday to judge where the support is for the bill. The real vote to on amendments and to move the bill to "3rd Reader" for final passage is today. If this is something that concerns you, please make your voice heard. Contact the senators who voted for SB 566 on the sample vote to let them know your views and spread the word to as many contacts as you can. "


Voting List (This was a sample vote. The real vote is today. Yea is FOR SB 566, Nay is AGAINST):

Senate of Maryland
2008 Regular Session
SB 566 Laid-over Bills Sen. Garagiola Health Care Facility Visitation and Medical Decisions - Domestic Partners
Question is on adoption of favorable report, as amended.
PRESIDING: MR.PRESIDENT
LEGISLATIVE DATE
MAR 12, 2008
29 YEAS 16 NAYS 0 EXC 1 NOT VOTING 1 EXCUSED (ABSENT)
VOTING YEA - 29
MR.PRESIDENT GARAGIOLA KITTLEMAN MUSE
ASTLE GLADDEN KLAUSMEIER PETERS
BROCHIN HARRINGTON KRAMER PINSKY
CONWAY JONES LENETT PUGH
CURRIE KASEMEYER MADALENO RASKIN
DELLA KELLEY MCFADDEN ROSAPEPE
FOREHAND KING MIDDLETON ZIRKIN
FROSH

VOTING NAY - 16
BRINKLEY EDWARDS HARRIS PIPKIN
COLBURN GLASSMAN JACOBS SIMONAIRE
DEGRANGE GREENIP MOONEY STOLTZFUS
DYSON HAINES MUNSON STONE

NOT VOTING - 1
EXUM
EXCUSED (ABSENT) - 1
ROBEY

Please also contact:
THOMAS V. MIKE MILLER, JR., President of Senate
Democrat, District 27, Calvert & Prince George's Counties
State House, H-107 Annapolis, MD 21401 - 1991
(410) 841-3700, (301) 858-3700
e-mail: thomas.v.mike.miller@senate.state.md.us

MICHAEL E. BUSCH, Speaker of House of Delegates
Democrat, District 30, Anne Arundel County
State House, H-101 Annapolis, MD 21401 - 1991
(410) 841-3800, (301) 858-3800
e-mail: michael.busch@house.state.md.us

Monday, March 10, 2008

Refuge Podcast # 57 - Seventh Psalm Authors John Schumacher and Bruce Smith

Your source for conservative, Republican news, views and insight it is the Conservative Refuge Podcast. You can listen by visiting here:

In our opening segment, I have a very special interview with the authors of a new book Seventh Psalm, John Schumacher and Bruce Smith. This wonderfully written action novel, while a fictional account, presents an astonishingly accurate view of the Global War and Terror and serves as a tribute to the brave men and women under arms defending out way of life. The politically correct "literary mafia" tried to keep this book from being published because it was too "Pro-Bush" and dared to glorify the heroism of western soldiers.


You need to hear this interview and buy this book!


I also have an update on the report in our last installment about the disclosure of reimbursements by our county legislative delegation. You will want to listen to hear why so many legislators were afraid of this information getting out and why a number of local polticians will have "some explaining to do."

In our closing segment, some additional information about Seventh Psalm and an update on our discussion of crime here in Maryland.

Share your thoughts and feedback!

Spread the word!

Greg Kline
Host, Conservative Refuge Podcast

This installment of the Conservative Refuge is proudly sponsored by Carpe Diem Consulting, LLC, specializing in forensic accounting, litigation support, business valuations and expert testimony in the areas of white collar criminal defense, contract disputes and other litigation matters. Contact John DeLuca and his associates at 410-305-4487 or via email at jdeluca@carpediemconsult.com.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Criminal Lack of Leadership

If you happened to listen to Warren Monk's Word on the Street program last night, you heard our discussion of the proposal to create a special "DUI" license plate. After reading Eludius' take on the subject, it got me to thinking about the crime issue and how this gimmick of an idea is what passes in Annapolis for "getting tough on crime."

See, I am a criminal defense lawyer. I represent a lot of people accused of drunk driving (Shameless plug alert) and I sit through my share of criminal dockets as part of my job. I know just how lenient the Maryland courts are on not only drunk drivers but many violent criminals as well.

I am constantly surprised how clients who have been pulled over for DUI and have never been in trouble before are scared to death that they may go to jail or lose their license. The fact is for the "run of the mill case" (shameless disclaimer alert) of someone without a criminal record, who hires a good lawyer, gets some treatment and stays out of trouble will likely end up without a criminal conviction and have a modified suspension of their license which allows them to drive to work or, if you refuse the breathalyzer or are "superdrunk", have an ignition interlock on their car. For the most part, the worst part of the experience is paying my bill. (Just kidding, sort of).

Violent assaults get the same lax treatment. While I don't handle as many of these cases, I see them regularly and I know people would be shocked if they knew how many defendants who commit violent crimes walk in and out of Maryland courts everyday. This reality is not just true in the "Big City" but in the relatively conservative suburbs of Anne Arundel and Harford counties. Not only do routine assault convictions not lead to jail time, they often do not even lead to a criminal conviction.

Why?

Let me give you a couple of reasons you may not know first.

Did you know that Maryland has a statute that allows defendants to pay their victims' medical bills and avoid a conviction? It's true. I have seen it used successfully. (Hey, that is how we make the big bucks.)

Do you know about "Probation before judgment"? You may heard of this. Basically, it means that if you successfully complete a period of probation there is no conviction on your record. You can honestly state you have never been convicted of a crime.

PBJ (that is what we call it) is standard operation procedure for a wide variety of offenses and offenders. There are few exceptions to when this disposition is not available and it is a powerful incentive to defendants to plea out cases which is why prosecutors and defense attorneys love it. It really is the next best thing to an acquittal, the proverbial "slap on the wrist".
And that is what most drunk drivers get. And it is why we are not tough on drunk drivers and too many violent offenders here in Maryland.


The mere fact of getting a criminal conviction is powerful to many clients. A "criminal record" affects professional licensure, can destroy any chance at a security clearance and generally hurt the job prospects of many people. I have seen people willing to go to jail just to get "PBJ" when they get out.

That's right. The simple bureaucratic act of having a conviction, something that costs nothing to the taxpayers, would to many be a harsher punishment than time in the poky. In many states, that is exactly what you would get by the way. First time convicted drunk drivers in Georgia serve at least 24 hours in jail. Here we don't even really convict them.

And that is the long way to the bigger point. This "DUI" plate idea does not touch any of this. In fact, it does not even come into play until someone gets a third conviction (which by the way is about how many DUI's you need to actually go to jail in this state).

The sad fact is that there is no one in the legislature, Republican or Democrat, pointing out the outrageous leniency in our system and the inherent danger it creates for every single one of us. Common sense solutions like "PBJ" reform are never even discussed and there is no Republican agenda to counter the liberal, democrat view that punishment is the problem (you know, too many people in jail already) and not the solution to crime (i.e., keep those who commit crime off the street).

I have spoken with Republican members of the Judiciary committee in Annapolis about this. You get the same refrain "Joe Vallario and Brian Frosh will bury those ideas". Rather than confront this liberal lawyer establishment, our guys alternate between "small ball" like Jessica's Law (where they can make great political hay but ultimately do little to make Marylanders safer) and doing nothing at all.

If the Republican caucus can put out an alternative budget which shows a different vision of what Maryland would be like if we ran the show, why can't it be done with the crime issue? The alternative budget is "DOA" but is shows the voters that there really is an alternative.

There is an alternative to a revolving door criminal justice system here in Maryland which puts us all at risk. It would require simple, common sense reforms many states enacted long ago and it would require the leadership of our Republican leaders to see it through and make the case.

Sadly, there is not (maybe this is a nudge, hint hint) such leadership which really is itself a crime.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Conservative Refuge Radio Tonight!!

Mark Newgent and I will be appearing on Warren Monk's Word on the Street program tonight from 7pm to 8pm on WAMD 970 am in Aberdeen.

We will be covering a number of issues in Maryland politics and a couple of surprises so if you are in the area (see below) check it out. (H/T Radio Locator).