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Topics - Burning Sands, Esq.

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Just had to give a shout out to my alma mater.  One helluva game!

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Memphis kept missing. Mario Chalmers wasn't about to.

Chalmers' 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds left in regulation put the game in overtime, and Kansas pulled away to a 75-68 victory on Monday night for its first national championship since Danny and the Miracles 20 years ago.

Mario and the Miracles? That has a good ring to it, too.

Chalmers' game-saving 3 came after Memphis missed four of five free throws that would have put the game and the title out of reach. It completed a comeback from nine points down with 2:12 left.

"It'll probably be the biggest shot ever made in Kansas history," Kansas coach Bill Self said.

The ending made a mockery of Memphis coach John Calipari's theory that his players, ranked 339th of the country's 341 teams with 59 percent free-throw shooting, didn't have to be good because they would always come through when the stakes were highest.

"It will probably hit me like a ton of bricks tomorrow, that we had it in our grasp," Calipari said.

All those bricks meant something in a game where every point counted. So did Derrick Rose's two-point shot off glass initially ruled a 3 -- and correctly overturned -- with 4:15 left.

Nothing about Chalmers' 3-pointer was in doubt.

"I had a good look at it," he said. "When it left my hands it felt like it was good, and it just went in."

Although Chalmers will go down in history, the most memorable overall performance came from Rose, the Memphis freshman, who completely took over the game in the second half, scoring 14 of his team's 16 points during one stretch to lift the Tigers to a 60-51 lead with 2:12 left.

But Kansas (37-3) used the strategy any smart opponent of Memphis' would -- fouling the heck out of one of the country's worst free-throw-shooting teams -- and when Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts made only one of five over the last 1:12, it left the door open for KU.

"Ten seconds to go, we're thinking we're national champs, all of a sudden a kid makes a shot, and we're not," Calipari said.

Hustling the ball down the court with 10.8 seconds left, no timeouts and trailing by three, Sherron Collins handed off to Chalmers at the top of the 3-point line, and Chalmers took the shot. It hit nothing but net and tied the score at 63.

Robert Dozier missed a desperation heave at the buzzer, and Rose went limping to the bench, favoring his right leg. Brandon Rush, Darrell Arthur and Darnell Jackson scored the first six points of overtime to put Kansas ahead 69-63.

Memphis, clearly exhausted, didn't pull any closer than three the rest of the way. Rose played all 45 minutes in what could very well be his last college game.

"Overtime, they kind of beat us down," Calipari said. "I didn't sub a whole lot, because I was trying to win the game at the end."

Arthur was dominant inside, finishing with 20 points and 10 rebounds, lots on dunks and easy lay-ups off lob passes. Chalmers finished with 18 points. Rush had 12 and Collins had 11 points, six assists and did a wonderful job shutting Rose for the first 28 minutes.

Rose wound up with 18 points in a game that showed how ready he is for the NBA. He was 3-for-4 from the line, however, and that one miss with 10.8 seconds left is what almost certainly would have sealed the game and given the Tigers (38-2) their first title.

"It wasn't really the free throws," Rose said. "If we'd done things before the free throws, we would've been in good shape."

Instead, the title goes back to Lawrence for the third time in the fabled program's history.

The inventor of the game, James Naismith, was the first Jayhawks coach. It's the school that made household names of Wilt Chamberlain, Manning -- and yes, even North Carolina's Roy Williams, the coach who famously left the Jayhawks, lost to them in the semifinals, but was, indeed, in the Kansas cheering section Monday wearing a Jayhawks sticker on his shirt.

After the game, Self didn't exactly end speculation that he might also bail for his alma mater, Oklahoma State.

"I'm not going to say that couldn't potentially happen because I guess it potentially can," Self said.

This game was not about coaches or sidestories, though. It was about the game, and what a dandy it was -- a well-needed reprieve from a more-or-less blah tournament in which 42 of 63 games were decided by double digits.

This was the first overtime in the title game since 1997, when Arizona beat Kentucky 84-79.

"Being up seven, being down nine, being up two, down five, going to overtime," Kansas center Cole Aldrich said. "We fought it out, and it's surreal. It's nuts."

Rose went crazy during Memphis' second half run. A 3-pointer here, a scooping layup for a three-point play next. Then, the capper, an off-balance, 18-foot shot off glass with the shot-clock buzzer sounding. Officials at first credited Rose with a 3, but went to the replay monitor and saw he was clearly inside the line.

Even with the point deducted, Memphis has a 56-49 lead and all the momentum. Most teams would have been demoralized.

Clearly, Kansas is not most teams.

In fact, the Jayhawks are a team that has come together in tragedy over the last several months. The deaths of friends and family of Jackson, Sasha Kaun and Rodrick Stewart all cast a bit of a pall over this team, making Jackson wonder at times if staying at Kansas was even worth it.

Just when the Jayhawks looked to be moving past their bad times, Stewart fractured his kneecap, a freak accident during Kansas' practice Friday at the Alamodome.

But it was another injury that might have been most responsible for blending this championship formula. Rush tore up his knee during a pickup game last May, and his NBA plans were put on hiatus.

He worked his way back into shape this season and is playing his best right now. He didn't have the most impressive stat line of the night, but it hasn't all been about stats for him in this, his junior season. His defense was stellar, as usual, and surely his experience and resolve played into Kansas' refusal to go away.

He set the table.

Chalmers got the glory.

"That has to be one of the biggest shots in basketball history," Stewart said.

Black Law Students / Great Moments in Public Transportation
« on: March 27, 2008, 08:59:09 AM »
I started to put this in the NY City thread but I'm sure this happens everywhere.

For the past several weeks I have been inundated with funny episode after funny episode on the subway ride to work.  After this morning I can't let these stories go untold any longer.

So I'm sitting on the downtown 3 like I usually do in the morning.  The subway makes its usual stops with blacks and latinos getting on at all the uptown stops, and then more and more white people get on the lower it goes.  Typically at 96th street there is the first massive influx of white folks and other business professionals who join the not-so-professional-looking crowd who are already sitting down in the train by that point.  I point all of this background info out to help paint the picture that this stop always provides for a bit of comedy when these two groups meet for the first time every morning.

Today, however, this one 96'er took it over the top.  This cat gets on in a full suit and tie and sits down right next to me. At first I don't really pay him any mind b/c I'm reading my paper.  I notice out of the corner of my eye that he has a paper also and he goes about reading it like anybody else would. Again, I think nothing of it.

But then I get the distinct feeling that you get when people are looking at you.  I look up across the aisle and see everybody staring in my direction.  At first I thought it was me, but then I notice they're not looking at me they're looking at the guy next to me.  So I look at him for the fist time and I get it - THIS CAT has on latex gloves and a doctor's mask and is sitting on top of a plastic bag.  And he's just chillin like nothing is weird about this, reading his paper.  Then, to top it all off, he reaches down in his bag and pulls out some type of spray or something and sprays the old bag lady who is asleep and sitting down to his right. 

I was too done!!!  I wanted to fall out right there.  Some of the people sitting across from us actually did bust out laughing. It was just too much.  The guy just went back to reading his paper like everything was cool.

I just shook my head, got up and stood by the door for the rest of the ride before I got sprayed or something.

The District of Columbia v. Heller went to oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court last week.  DC has a strict ban on all hand guns.  Gun owners are arguing that this restriction is in violation of the 2nd Amendment's protection of the individual right to own a gun.  DC is arguing that the 2nd Amendment does not give an absolute individual right to the people to bear arms but instead it gives a right to bear arms that should be taken in the context of the state's ability to raise a militia comprised of the people. 

The 2nd Amendment reads:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

So who is right?

Black Law Students / Happy New Year 2008 - How Did You Ring It In?
« on: January 01, 2008, 08:34:21 AM »
Happy New Year!!!  Hope everybody had a good one.

So the question is - where were you and what were you doing when the ball dropped last night?

Black Law Students / Lakota Indians Withdraw from U.S. and U.S.Treaties
« on: December 20, 2007, 07:21:19 PM »
Lakota Indians Withdraw Treaties Signed With U.S. 150 Years Ago
Thursday, December 20, 2007

WASHINGTON   The Lakota Indians, who gave the world legendary warriors Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, have withdrawn from treaties with the United States.

"We are no longer citizens of the United States of America and all those who live in the five-state area that encompasses our country are free to join us,'' long-time Indian rights activist Russell Means said.

A delegation of Lakota leaders has delivered a message to the State Department, and said they were unilaterally withdrawing from treaties they signed with the federal government of the U.S., some of them more than 150 years old.

The group also visited the Bolivian, Chilean, South African and Venezuelan embassies, and would continue on their diplomatic mission and take it overseas in the coming weeks and months.

Lakota country includes parts of the states of Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.

The new country would issue its own passports and driving licences, and living there would be tax-free - provided residents renounce their U.S. citizenship, Mr Means said.

The treaties signed with the U.S. were merely "worthless words on worthless paper," the Lakota freedom activists said.

Withdrawing from the treaties was entirely legal, Means said.

"This is according to the laws of the United States, specifically article six of the constitution,'' which states that treaties are the supreme law of the land, he said.

"It is also within the laws on treaties passed at the Vienna Convention and put into effect by the US and the rest of the international community in 1980. We are legally within our rights to be free and independent,'' said Means.

The Lakota relaunched their journey to freedom in 1974, when they drafted a declaration of continuing independence an overt play on the title of the United States' Declaration of Independence from England.

Thirty-three years have elapsed since then because "it takes critical mass to combat colonialism and we wanted to make sure that all our ducks were in a row,'' Means said.

One duck moved into place in September, when the United Nations adopted a non-binding declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples despite opposition from the United States, which said it clashed with its own laws.

"We have 33 treaties with the United States that they have not lived by. They continue to take our land, our water, our children,'' Phyllis Young, who helped organize the first international conference on indigenous rights in Geneva in 1977, told the news conference.

The U.S. "annexation'' of native American land has resulted in once proud tribes such as the Lakota becoming mere "facsimiles of white people,'' said Means.

Oppression at the hands of the U.S. government has taken its toll on the Lakota, whose men have one of the shortest life expectancies - less than 44 years - in the world.

Lakota teen suicides are 150 per cent above the norm for the U.S.; infant mortality is five times higher than the U.S. average; and unemployment is rife, according to the Lakota freedom movement's website.,2933,317548,00.html

N.J. bans death penalty
By TOM HESTER Jr., Associated Press Writer
26 minutes ago

TRENTON, N.J. - Gov. Jon S. Corzine signed into law Monday a measure that abolishes the death penalty, making New Jersey the first state in more than four decades to reject capital punishment.

The bill, approved last week by the state's Assembly and Senate, replaces the death sentence with life in prison without parole.

"This is a day of progress for us and for the millions of people across our nation and around the globe who reject the death penalty as a moral or practical response to the grievous, even heinous, crime of murder," Corzine said.

The measure spares eight men on the state's death row. On Sunday, Corzine signed orders commuting the sentences of those eight to life in prison without parole.

Among the eight spared is Jesse Timmendequas, a sex offender who murdered 7-year-old Megan Kanka in 1994. The case inspired Megan's Law, which requires law enforcement agencies to notify the public about convicted sex offenders living in their communities.

New Jersey reinstated the death penalty in 1982 six years after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed states to resume executions but it hasn't executed anyone since 1963.

The state's move is being hailed across the world as a historic victory against capital punishment. Rome plans to shine golden light on the Colosseum in support. Once the arena for deadly gladiator combat and executions, the Colosseum is now a symbol of the fight against the death penalty.

"The rest of America, and for that matter the entire world, is watching what we are doing here today," said Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo, a Democrat. "New Jersey is setting a precedent that I'm confident other states will follow."

The bill passed the Legislature largely along party lines, with controlling Democrats supporting the abolition and minority Republicans opposed. Republicans had sought to retain the death penalty for those who murder law enforcement officials, rape and murder children, and terrorists, but Democrats rejected that.

"It's simply a specious argument to say that, somehow, after six millennia of recorded history, the punishment no longer fits the crime," said Assemblyman Joseph Malone, a Republican.

Members of victims' families fought against the law.

"I will never forget how I've been abused by a state and a governor that was supposed to protect the innocent and enforce the laws," said Marilyn Flax, whose husband Irving was abducted and murdered in 1989 by death row inmate John Martini Sr.

Richard Kanka, Megan's father, noted Corzine signed the bill exactly 15 years to day that death row inmate Ambrose Harris kidnapped, raped and murdered 22-year-old artist Kristin Huggins of Lower Makefield, Pa..

"Just another slap in the face to the victims," Kanka said.

The last states to eliminate the death penalty were Iowa and West Virginia in 1965, according to the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

The nation has executed 1,099 people since the U.S. Supreme Court reauthorized the death penalty in 1976. In 1999, 98 people were executed, the most since 1976; last year 53 people were executed, the lowest since 1996.

Other states have considered abolishing the death penalty recently, but none has advanced as far as New Jersey.

The nation's last execution was Sept. 25 in Texas. Since then, executions have been delayed pending a U.S. Supreme Court decision on whether execution through lethal injection violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Black Law Students / Federal Sentencing Guidelines on Crack/Cocaine
« on: December 10, 2007, 08:31:54 AM »
Court: Judges can reduce crack sentences
By MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press Writer
12 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court on Monday said judges may impose shorter prison terms for crack cocaine crimes, enhancing judicial discretion to reduce the disparity between sentences for crack and cocaine powder.

By a 7-2 vote, the court said that a 15-year sentence given to Derrick Kimbrough, a black veteran of the 1991 war with Iraq, was acceptable, even though federal sentencing guidelines called for Kimbrough to receive 19 to 22 years.

In a separate sentencing case that did not involve crack cocaine, the court also ruled in favor of judicial discretion to impose more lenient sentences than federal guidelines recommend.

The challenges to criminal sentences center on a judge's discretion to impose a shorter sentence than is called for in guidelines established by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, at Congress' direction. The guidelines were adopted in the mid-1980s to help produce uniform punishments for similar crimes.

The cases are the result of a decision three years ago in which the justices ruled that judges need not strictly follow the sentencing guidelines. Instead, appellate courts would review sentences for reasonableness, although the court has since struggled to define what it meant by that term.

Kimbrough's case did not present the justices with the ultimate question of the fairness of the disparity in crack and powder cocaine sentences. Congress wrote the harsher treatment for crack into a law that sets a mandatory minimum five-year prison sentence for trafficking in 5 grams of crack cocaine or 100 times as much cocaine powder. The law also sets maximum terms.

Seventy percent of crack defendants are given the mandatory prison terms.

Kimbrough is among the remaining 30 percent who, under the guidelines, get even more time in prison because they are convicted of trafficking in more than the amount of crack that triggers the minimum sentences.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the majority, said, "A reviewing court could not rationally conclude that it was an abuse of discretion" to cut four years off the guidelines-recommended sentence for Kimbrough.

Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented.

The Sentencing Commission recently changed the guidelines to reduce the disparity in prison time for the two crimes. New guidelines took effect Nov. 1 after Congress took no action to overturn the change.

The commission is scheduled to vote Tuesday afternoon on the retroactive application of the crack cocaine guideline amendment that went into effect on Nov. 1. The commission has estimated 19,500 inmates could apply for sentence reductions under the proposal.

In the other case, the court, also by a 7-2 vote, upheld a sentence of probation for Brian Gall for his role in a conspiracy to sell 10,000 pills of ecstasy. U.S. District Judge Robert Pratt of Des Moines, Iowa, determined that Gall had voluntarily quit selling drugs several years before he was implicated, stopped drinking, graduated from college and built a successful business. The guidelines said Gall should have been sent to prison for 30 to 37 months.

The sentence was reasonable, Justice John Paul Stevens said in his majority opinion. Alito and Thomas again dissented.

Under the decisions in both cases, Alito said, "Sentencing disparities will gradually increase."

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, David Souter, Ginsburg and Stevens formed the majority in both cases.

The cases are Kimbrough v. U.S., 06-6330, and Gall v. U.S., 06-7949.

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