~ Brooke Bennett
In what seems to be a trend lately, to avoid the death penalty for a particularly heinous murder, attorneys are claiming the laws – be they State or Federal - are unconstitutional!
What is, I’m sure, the first of many motions to be filed, Michael Jacques’ defense attorneys claimed Friday that the federal kidnapping charges against Jacques are unconstitutional and go on to say that even if they aren’t, the prosecution lacks evidence Jacques kidnapped his niece, Brooke Bennett.
Already a convicted sex offender, Jacques was indicted for the kidnapping, drugging, raping, and strangling of 12-year-old Brooke. The October 2008 indictment also included several counts of possession of child pornography.
In 2006, the Adam Walsh Act was used by Congress to amend the Federal Kidnapping Act. It is this law that allowed the federal government to charge Jacques and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder subsequently gave approval for prosecutors to seek the death penalty.
New Jersey based, death penalty attorneys Jean Barrett and Michael Desautels, assert the Federal Kidnapping Act is unconstitutional because it overrides State of Vermont’s ability to govern by it’s own law.
The motion states: Moreover, the citizens of the State of Vermont have made clear their opposition to the death penalty for crimes committed in this state. By effectuating a means by which the Government may circumvent that intention by expanding a federal statute beyond the limits of federal authority to reach a traditionally state crime that has no impact on commerce, Congress has upset the balance of power and exceeded its Commerce Clause authority.
Therefore, 18 U.S.C. § 1201(a), as amended by the Adam Walsh Act, is unconstitutional both on its face and as applied. Accordingly, Count 1 of the Indictment must be dismissed, with prejudice.
If the motion is successful, the federal case against Jacques would be dropped and the case would revert back to state jurisdiction.
After prosecutors file a response in the next few weeks, Chief Judge William Sessions will issue a ruling in the matter.