Five Minutes Five Issues: Disappearing Trials, Trump’s Taxes, Indian Marijuana, Hospital Bombing, Freest States

A new episode of Five Minutes Five Issues posted on Saturday. You can listen to it, and read a transcript, below. You can also find previous episodes of the show at Stitcher, iTunes, YouTube, and SoundCloud.

Listen to the new episode here:

Read a transcript of the new episode, including links to further information regarding the topics discussed, here:

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity welcomes you to Five Minutes Five Issues.

Starting in five four three two one.

Hello, I am Adam Dick, a Ron Paul Institute senior fellow.

Let’s start.

Issue one.

If you are arrested for a crime in America, you can have your day in court before a jury. And, if the prosecution does not prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, then the jury will acquit and you will walk free. At least that is how it is supposed to work.

Benjamin Weiser explored in a New York Times article last week the decline in New York criminal cases going to jury trial in both United States and state courts over the last few decades. Looking to state court data, Weiser notes that, from 1984 to 2015, the number of criminal jury verdicts declined over 50 percent.

Why are criminal jury trials disappearing? Weiser suggests a reason is that sentences have become so harsh that even defendants with strong cases for acquittal will take plea bargains. Weiser explains:

Legal experts attribute the decline primarily to the advent of the congressional sentencing guidelines and the increased use of mandatory minimum sentences, which transferred power to prosecutors, and discouraged defendants from going to trial, where, if convicted, they might face harsher sentences.

Issue two.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s refusal thus far to release any of his tax returns has disturbed some people, including Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). Wyden introduced a bill to require major party presidential candidates to disclose their last three years of income tax returns within 15 days after being nominated.

The US Constitution lists the prerequisites for being elected president. You must be a natural born citizen, you must be at least 35 years old, and you must have been a US resident for 14 years. Passing a regular statute should not change that. If Wyden wants to add to this short prerequisites list, he can propose a constitutional amendment.

Issue three.

In June of last year I wrote at the Ron Paul Institute website about how the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe had just approved legalizing marijuana. In the rather unique legalization program, the tribal government is to grow the marijuana and then sell it in small amounts for consumption only in designated areas on tribal land.

The tribal government’s plan has been foiled. Regina Garcia Cano provides the details in an Associated Press article. First, eight months ago, “after federal officials signaled a potential raid,” the tribal government burned the roughly 600 marijuana plants it had been growing. Then, this month, South Dakota filed criminal charges against two individuals, both not members of the tribe, who allegedly assisted the tribal government in its marijuana activities.

Issue four.

In the last episode of Five Minutes Five Issues, I talked about the US military refueling over 5,000 Saudi Arabia and allied nations’ airplanes for war being waged in Yemen.

So what are the intervening nations’ militaries bombing in Yemen? At least four times the answer appears to be Doctors Without Borders-supported medical facilities. The latest airstrike on one of these facilities occurred Monday.

On Thursday, Doctors Without Borders announced it is evacuating staff from six hospitals in northern Yemen because of “the intensity of the current offensive” and Doctors Without Borders’ “loss of confidence in the Saudi-led coalition’s ability to prevent such fatal attacks.”

Issue five.

This week, the Cato Institute released its latest Freedom in the 50 States report that ranks US states on various factors. There is plenty to debate in the report. Yet, information provided in the report can be helpful for people contemplating moving or desiring to advocate for improvements in their own states.


That’s a wrap.

Transcripts of Five Minutes Five Issues episodes, including links to related information, are at the Ron Paul Institute blog.

Five four three two one.

Reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

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