Thursday, July 24, 2014

Border Patrol Agent Draws Gun on Boy Scout—Over a Photograph

A group of Boy Scouts from Central Iowa received a lesson they won't forget in federal manners at a border crossing from Canada into Alaska. According to the scoutmaster, a casual snapshot of a Border Patrol agent got the group of about two dozen scouts and volunteers detained, searched—and one of them ultimately held at gunpoint.

According to Marcus McIntosh of Iowa's KCCI:

Boy Scout Troop 111 Leader Jim Fox spelled out what happened to him and the Mid-Iowa Boy Scout Troop 111 as four van-loads of Scouts and adult volunteers tried to drive from Canada into Alaska.

Fox said one of the Scouts took a picture of a border official, which spurred agents to detain everyone in that van and search them and their belongings.

"The agent immediately confiscated his camera, informed him he would be arrested, fined possibly $10,000 and 10 years in prison," Fox said.

Fox said he was told it is a federal offense to take a picture of a federal agent.

Not wanting things to escalate, Fox said he did not complain.

Another of the Scouts was taking luggage from the top of a van to be searched when something startling happened.

"He hears a snap of a holster, turns around, and here’s this agent, both hands on a loaded pistol, pointing at the young man’s head," Fox explained.

Charles Vonderheid with the Mid-Iowa Council of the Boy Scouts of America is getting a lot of grief for referring to the incident as a "lesson in civics." But he told me that he made the comment after getting blindsided by reporters before learning any details about the encounter. He assured me, though, that he and the Boy Scouts are concerned about scouts' safety and support them. He also said that Troop 111's Jim Fox, who led the group that endured the gauntlet at the border, is "a trusted scoutmaster who cares about his boys."

I've been unable to reach Fox, and I'll update once I hear from him and Customs and Border Protection (see below).

For the record, federal rules specifically permit photographing federal facilities, at least for "news, advertising, or commercial purposes." There don't seem to be any special limits on just-because snapshots.

Except where security regulations, rules, orders, or directives apply or a Federal court order or rule prohibits it, persons entering in or on Federal property may take photographs of—

(a) Space occupied by a tenant agency for non-commercial purposes only with the permission of the occupying agency concerned;

(b) Space occupied by a tenant agency for commercial purposes only with written permission of an authorized official of the occupying agency concerned; and

(c) Building entrances, lobbies, foyers, corridors, or auditoriums for news purposes.

The American Civil Liberties Union offers guidance, too, including the photography of federal agents:

Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right – and that includes federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties.

But, adds the ACLU, "there is a widespread, continuing pattern of law enforcement officers ordering people to stop taking photographs from public places, and harassing, detaining and arresting those who fail to comply."

Relatively isolated border crossings in Alaska might be the sort of place where you'd run into that pattern.

Update: Customs and Border Protection responds to inquiries with a statement:

CBP takes any allegations of wrongdoing very seriously. CBP’s review of this group’s inspection, including video footage review, indicates that our officer did not un-holster or handle his weapon as stated in the allegation. The review revealed nothing out of the ordinary. We have reached out to the Boy Scout troop for additional information in reference to the allegation. The video footage has been referred to CBP Internal Affairs for further review.

Whatever else this means (and believe as much of it as you like), clearly border officials have no objection to photographing the public.

Original report here




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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

'I will knock you clean f***ing out': Policeman suspended after being caught on camera threatening a young woman TWICE as he patrolled a town centre

A police officer has been suspended after being caught on film apparently telling a woman twice: 'I will knock you clean f***ing out'.

The incident - which took place in Trinity Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, just after 2am on Sunday - was caught on camera phone by the boyfriend of 22-year-old Nikki Wright.

It seems to show the officer approach a group of revellers, and shout at her: 'Do that to me again and I will knock you clean f***ing out.'

The 1.07 minute clip then shows the officer apparently threaten her again.

After being challenged by her boyfriend Andrew Smith, 22, who asks him to repeat what he said, the police officer says: 'You heard, I said I will knock her out.'

He then asks a second time: 'You said you’d knock her out?'

He is then heard to say: 'Yeah, yeah. If she tries to throw a punch at me, of course I would.'

Staffordshire Police has confirmed they had suspended the officer from his duties after the video was passed onto them by the couple.

The footage was posted on Facebook and was seen by at least 800 people before being removed.

Miss Wright said 'I was really shocked when I saw the footage. If it had been the other way around and I had said that to him then I think I would have been arrested.

'You can hear in the video how panicked I am and that I’m close to tears. I’m not knocking the police, and the policeman we first spoke to was really nice.

'After this all happened he spoke to us and he was really calm.

'But I don’t know where that one particular guy came from and I don’t know why he threatened me.

'I was trying to help my friend who had collapsed and was shouting for an ambulance when this officer approached me and said what he said.

'I was so shocked. I have never been in trouble with the police before and I'm a law abiding person. How can a police officer be allowed to get away with this?'

The footage has also been passed to Staffordshire Police Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis.

A police spokesman said: 'Our communities expect only the highest standards of conduct from our officers, and while we recognise they can often face challenging situations, it is important that they remain professional throughout.

'A formal complaint has been taken in relation to the incident in Hanley involving one of our officers in the early hours of Sunday.

'We have reviewed the initial information and taken the decision to suspend the police officer concerned while we undertake a thorough and robust investigation into the complaint.

'It would not be appropriate to comment any further until the investigation has been concluded and experienced investigators from our performance assessment unit will be maintaining contact with the member of the public concerned.'

Mr Ellis added: 'I have been briefed on how the force is handling this issue and I am satisfied. 'I have also asked my head of performance to undertake his monitoring role to ensure proper process is followed.'

Staffordshire Police have also voluntarily referred the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Staffordshire Police Federation and the suspended officer were unavailable for comment.

Original report here




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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Man who spent 26 years in prison for murder he didn't commit finally exonerated after DNA evidence from the 1982 homicide proves he's an innocent man

A Washington D.C. man was officially cleared on Monday of a murder he didn't commit, but that sent him to prison for more than a quarter-century.

Kevin Martin was convicted of the 1982 murder of Ursula Brown based on faulty evidence from an elite unit of FBI forensic investigators who have been responsible for the wrongful convictions of at least five people.

In Martin's case, prosecutors claimed they had found one of his pubic hairs on one of Brown's sneakers, which was enough to get his court-appointed attorney to convince him to accept a plea deal - even though he maintained that he didn't commit the murder.

Martin pleaded guilty under what is called an Alford plea, a rare plea option that allows the accused to not admit guilt, but acknowledges that prosecutors have enough evidence to get a conviction.

'I was just getting pressure from all ends,' he said. 'My lawyer kept telling me nobody is believing that you are innocent man. Too much evidence is pointing, saying that you were there.'

Martin spent years trying to convince people that he wasn't guilty, but it wasn't until Bernie Grimm, a lawyer with the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, got involved in 2001 and started looking into his case.

'He believed in his lawyer, he believed in the prosecutor and he believed in the judge,' Grimm told 'It was a disaster.'

Following his conviction, the evidence against him that was collected by prosecutors was lost. When it was recovered, the supposed hair that led to Martin's plea was not with the other evidence.

However, other DNA evidence that wasn't revealed when Martin initially was charged with Brown's death was discovered along with the old evidence - and it exonerated Martin.

The DNA evidence belonged to William Davidson, a man who initially pointed the finger at Martin for Brown's murder, and who currently is serving a life sentence.

'This whole system was against me,' said Martin. 'I kept crying out saying I was innocent -- the whole time -- I didn't have anything to do with it. I wasn't there. It was like nobody was hearing me. I feel I was by myself.'

Martin was released from prison and placed on parole in 2009, but he wasn't officially cleared of any involvement in the crime until Monday, after a lengthy battle with the courts.

'I think this demonstrates that it is never too late to do justice,' U.S Attorney Ron Machen said. 'Thirty years ago, Mr. Martin was unfairly branded a rapist and a murderer. He wasn't guilty of those crimes, and today, he was exonerated and it highlights the importance of our hair and fiber review.'

The FBI continues to re-examine cases that relied on hair analysis from the tainted forensic unit that caused Martin to plead guilty to a crime he didn't commit.

'We have had over 30 assistant U.S. Attorneys going back through thousands of cases looking to see if we could have gotten it wrong years ago,' Machen said.

Martin currently lives in San Francisco and is engaged to be married. Now that he's been exonerated, he stands to receive $50,000 for each of the 26 years that he was wrongly imprisoned.

Original report here




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Monday, July 21, 2014

Camera captures man's death during New York arrest

Video appears to show police officer putting his arm around Eric Garner's neck with Garner complaining that he cannot breathe

A man has died during an arrest in New York during which a police officer was captured on an amateur camera appearing to put his arm around his neck.

Eric Garner, 43, died outside a beauty salon in Staten Island, one of New York City's five boroughs. He had a heart attack as he struggled with officers trying to arrest him on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes, police said.

Partial video of the confrontation obtained by the New York Daily News shows an officer placing what appears to be a choke hold on the 6ft 3, 25st man who can be heard complaining that he cannot breathe.

Four police officers help bring the man down and he apparently loses conciousness.

The video shows the officer who apparently choked Mr Garner using his hands to push Mr Garner's face into the sidewalk.

"We have a responsibility to keep every New Yorker safe, and that includes when individuals are in custody of the NYPD," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.

Ramsey Orta, 22, shot the video posted by the newspaper. He told The Associated Press on Friday that he was sitting with Mr Garner and discussing weekend plans before the confrontation with police.

Mr Garner had just broken up a fight between two other men when the police approached him, claiming they'd observed him selling loose cigarettes, Orta said.

"Before they even grabbed him, he told them he wasn't feeling good and that's why I pulled the camera out and started recording," said Orta, adding that Mr Garner was asthmatic. "They could've just hopped out on the guys who were fighting, but they didn't bother to ask. They just jumped straight on him."

Mr Garner has been arrested 31 times since 1988 on charges such as drug possession, selling untaxed cigarettes and assault, police said. He was last arrested in May for selling untaxed cigarettes, court records show. Since 2009, he was arrested nine different times for selling such cigarettes, police said.

In the video Mr Garner shouts that he hasn't done anything wrong. "Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. I'm tired of it. It stops today," Mr Garner shouts. "I'm minding my business please just leave me alone."

Patrick J. Lynch, president of the powerful Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, cautioned against drawing conclusions before the results of the official probe were released.

"Not wanting to be arrested does not grant an individual the right to resist arrest nor does it free the officers of the obligation to make the arrest," he said

Original report here




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Sunday, July 20, 2014

I Saw a Man Get Arrested For a Sex Crime Because He Made a Scheduling Error

When I agreed to keynote the Reform Sex Offender Laws conference this week in Dallas, Texas, I didn't expect it to hit quite so close to home.

But before I arrived, I got a phone call from a soft-spoken, super-articulate young man, Joshua Gravens, who is a Soros Justice Scholar based in Dallas. His specialty is the injustice of the sex offender registry and the fact that it isn't making kids any safer (see this study and this article). He was also on the public sex offender list until recently and still has restrictions on his movement.* He invited me to come with him to the police department to give notice he had moved. Who could resist?

Josh became a sex offender at age 12. That's when he touched his sister's vagina, twice. His sister told their mom, Josh said it was true (he was too embarrassed at the time to mention that he himself had been raped as a young boy by three local high school kids), and their mom called a counseling service for advice. The counsellor said Josh's mother was required to report his crime to the authorities and the next day, he was arrested.

He spent the next four years in juvenile prison: the Texas Youth Commission, as it is officially called.

The charge was "aggravated sexual assault," because any sex offense against a person under age 14 is automatically "aggravated." He got out at age 16 and was put on the sex offender registry, which, in Dallas, requires him to report in person to the authorities once a year, as well as anytime anything in his life changes.

Today he is 27, married with children, and smiley. We met up, had a jolly breakfast (except for the fact he said he felt too pudgy to start a speaking tour), and then we went off to the registry, because his family had just moved to a new house and he had to let the state know no more than seven days after the move.

Just as the detective in the nondescript office finished typing this information into the system and Josh and I were about to go to lunch, a man with a beard and a badge strode up and said, "Joshua Gravens?"


"You are under arrest for not alerting the authorities to your new address." He whipped out handcuffs. "Put your hands behind your back."

As the man tightened the cuffs, Josh calmly explained he was registering his new address that very minute.

"The law says you you have to register the fact you are going to move seven days before the move, too."

"I think you're mistaken," said Josh, as pleasantly as if discussing the weather.

"I was told to arrest you," was the reply, and that was that. Josh handed me his car keys and followed the man out to his van along with a handcuffed woman who was crying. She was going to jail for having listed her address as a hotel when she actually lives in her car in front of the hotel.

(This statute suggests that the officer was correct: Registrants must report their intention to change addresses seven days before actually moving, according to the statute.)

After trying to reach Josh's contacts, I hurried over to the sex offender conference to ask: What would happen to Josh now?

"I might be mistaken," said Jon Cordeiro, a sex offender registrant and director of a Fort Worth re-entry program for offenders, "but technically he has broken the law and failure to comply with the registry laws is considered a new sexual offense."

A sexual offense?

Yes. Any registering snafu is considered a sex crime, and depending on the judge, it can be punished as harshly as the original offense. In other words: Josh, at 27, will be treated as if he just touched an 8 year old's vagina again.

"Typically, there's a mandatory minimum of two to five years," said Cordeiro.

"In Arkansas, he'd be looking at six," said another attendee.

Now, maybe Josh will get a great lawyer. Maybe he'll get a lenient judge, or compassionate prosecutor. Or maybe he'll spend half the next decade in prison, charged as a sexual predator for showing up 13 days late with his moving plans.

It's time to reform sex offender laws.

*The original version of this story referred to Gravens as a registered sex offender. He was actually removed from the public list in 2012 after his case drew media attention. But he remains on the list kept by police and his movement remains restricted due in part to two previous failures to register which still appear as felonies on his record, both of which he blames on being incorrectly informed about reporting requirements.

Original report here




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Saturday, July 19, 2014

North Carolina man to be freed 19 years after wrongful conviction

A North Carolina man who spent nearly two decades in prison for murder will be released as early as this week as he awaits a new trial.

Darryl Anthony Howard, 52, was awarded a new trial in May after a judge found misconduct during his 1995 conviction. On Tuesday, a state appeals court denied prosecutors' request to keep Howard behind bars until they try him again, paving the way for his release.

Seema Saifee, one of Howard's attorneys, delivered the news to him by phone early Tuesday.

"There was just this moment of pure joy," said Saifee, a staff attorney with the nonprofit Innocence Project, which seeks to overturn wrongful convictions. "He has been waiting for this for so many years. He never gave up," she added.

In overturning Howard's conviction, Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson found that prosecutors withheld evidence and that a police officer misled the jury. Hudson called Howard's prosecution one of the "most horrendous" he's seen in a 34-year career.

The district attorney who initially prosecuted Howard, Michael Nifong, was disbarred in 2007 for his role in prosecuting several members of the Duke University lacrosse team who were falsely accused of rape.

No physical evidence connected Howard to the deaths of Doris Washington and her 13-year-old daughter Nishonda in a Durham housing complex in 1991.

Shortly after the murders, a tipster implicated two members of a drug-related gang called the New York Boys in the crime. A police record of that account, which included references to the victims' rape that had not been publicized at the time, was never shared with Howard's defense attorneys.

DNA tests at the time showed that semen found in the victims was not Howard's, but Nifong argued in court that the murders were unrelated to a sexual assault.

Recent tests have linked the samples to a convicted felon with a history of assaulting women.

Current prosecutors have indicated they will retry Howard, and asked Friday that he be held in jail rather than released on bail until his new trial. They cited his criminal record before the arrests, which included convictions for armed robbery and breaking and entering.

Saifee said she hopes prosecutors will choose not to seek a new trial, and instead focus on prosecuting the alternate suspects implicated by DNA tests.

Original report here




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Friday, July 18, 2014

The Monetary Cost of a Wrongful Conviction in New York

A Brooklyn man who spent more than a dozen years in prison for a crime he likely did not commit will receive $3 million from New York State. He may get even more from New York City

Nineteen years ago, a Brooklyn Supreme Court judge sentenced Jabbar Collins to a prison term of 34-years-to-life for the murder of Abraham Pollack, a Brooklyn rabbi shot dead in the hallway of his apartment building. That day, Collins told the court he was innocent; the judge disagreed and said he wished he could send Collins off to a hard labor camp.

Last week, Collins appeared before a different judge and received much different news: The state of New York has agreed to pay him $3 million for the 15 years he lost behind bars, serving time for a crime there is very good reason to believe he didn’t commit.

The award comes as part of a lawsuit Collins filed against both the state and city of New York three years ago after his murder conviction was overturned in federal court in 2010. In a statement, Collins’ attorney, Joel Rudin, said that while the award is one of the highest ever agreed to by the state, he and Collins hope it will lead to an even bigger payment from the city.

"Three million dollars is a lot of money, but it is a small fraction of what Jabbar Collins is entitled to for 15 horrendous years in a maximum security state prison."

"Three million dollars is a lot of money, but it is a small fraction of what Jabbar Collins is entitled to for 15 horrendous years in a maximum security state prison," Rudin said. "We look forward now to concentrating totally on his much larger claim for damages against New York City."

The case against the city is scheduled to go to trial on October 20 before Federal Judge Frederic Block.

According to Rudin’s statement, Collins sued the state under the Unjust Conviction Act, which allows wrongfully convicted New Yorkers to recover damages if they can prove their innocence with "clear and convincing evidence," an extremely high bar. Clearly, the state felt Collins had a strong chance of demonstrating his innocence.

A spokesperson for New York City’s office of corporation counsel said that they couldn’t comment on any pending litigation.

The city recently agreed to pay five men wrongly convicted in the Central Park jogger case $1 million each for every year they spent in prison.

Collins’ lawsuit accuses then-Brooklyn District Attorney Charles "Joe" Hynes and one of his top aides, Michael Vecchione, of a startling array of misconduct. The suit alleges that Vecchione, who prosecuted Collins, coerced witnesses, withheld evidence, and suborned perjury to win the conviction in 1995. Collins had gathered much of the evidence while in prison through Freedom of Information Act requests.

In 2010, after Collins had lost on numerous appeals before state judges, federal judge Dora Irizarry vacated Collins’ conviction, saying Vecchione’s misconduct was "beyond disappointing" and criticized Hynes for protecting him. Vecchione remained on Hynes’ staff for years after the conviction was thrown out.

"It is really sad that the D.A.’s office persists in standing firm and saying they did nothing wrong here," Irizarry said.

In June last year, Vecchione was forced to answer questions about his conduct in the case under oath. He answered "I don’t recall" and close variants 324 times. He retired from the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office in November after Hynes lost the election for what would’ve been his seventh term.

Hynes himself has already testified twice under oath in the case, and in court papers filed last month, Rudin sought to question him a third time, following revelations in a scathing Department of Investigation report that Hynes received advice from a top Brooklyn Judge on how to handle political fallout from the Collins case.

Original report here




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Thursday, July 17, 2014

NY: Former D.A. Charles Hynes Must Testify in Wrongful Conviction Lawsuit

In 2006, a judge vacated the conviction of Cy Greene, who had spent more than 22 years in prison for a 1983 murder in Brooklyn. Greene had produced evidence suggesting that prosecutors had hidden information pointing to his innocence.

Greene sued the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office and the NYPD for $22.5 million. On Tuesday, a Brooklyn judge ruled that former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes must testify under oath in the case, even though the prosecution took place before he took office.

Greene had been arrested and convicted of fatally stabbing John Choi in the chest during a robbery in a Flatbush subway station at around 4 a.m. in June 1983.

A witness, who claimed to have seen three men running from the station, identified them as a crew of pickpockets he knew. Greene was not among those three suspects. It was one of those suspects who implicated Greene, claiming Greene had done the stabbing. Greene is 5'2".

Greene was sentenced to 15-years-to-life in prison. He appealed his case. In 2003, his lawyer discovered that prosecutors had withheld evidence from the defense.

Jae Hark Kim, who was with Choi during the crime, told police that a a group of men had mugged them and that the man with the knife was around six feet tall. In his statement for the D.A.'s office he described the stabber as "the tall guy." But prosecutors erased the "tall guy" reference in Kim's statement, and Kim identified Greene at trial.

Prosecutors did not turn over information showing that witnesses (including a cab driver) claimed that the men they saw fleeing the scene spoke Spanish. Greene speaks only English.

And prosecutors also did not reveal that police had initially arrested another man, Leonard Best, who had been identified by a witness. The man, however, escaped from custody and was never found. Best's brother, Mark, later claimed that Leonard committed the stabbing.

Elizabeth Holtzman was Brooklyn's D.A. during Greene's trial. But, Greene argues in his suit, the suppression of evidence continued under Hynes's watch. Hynes, who took office in 1990, is listed as a defendant.

While Hynes may not be able to speak specifically about the case against Greene, he is able to offer knowledge about how prosecutors are disciplined for misconduct, concluded Brooklyn Magistrate Cheryl Pollak.

A similar line of reasoning forced former Brooklyn detective Louis Scarcella to testify in Jabbar Collins's wrongful conviction suit. Scarcella was not involved in the case, but the judge ruled that Scarcella could offer information about police practices and misconduct in the 1990s. The Brooklyn D.A.'s office has been reviewing every conviction involving Scarcella because of allegations of serial misconduct.

Hynes had to testify in Collins's case as well. under oath, he admitted for the first time that he believed that Collins was probably innocent. Last week, the state agreed to pay Collins $3 million for his 15-year imprisonment.

Original report here




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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Police as an occupying army

"It’s better to be over-prepared," smirked Jim Porter of the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois in response to questions about wildly disproportionate use of force. Dutifully regurgitating pre-digested soundbites Porter insisted that the most important consideration for the raiders is to be prepared for what they "reasonably expect might happen." And since their indoctrination describes the public as an undifferentiated mass of menace, and their role as subduing any potential resistance, rather than protecting property rights, their default setting is "overkill."

This obsession with "force protection" – or, as it is commonly called, "officer safety" – is the primary driver behind the 124 SWAT raids that occur, on average, every day in the United States. These are not "paramilitary" raids; they are fully realized military operations carried out with financial support from Washington and material assistance from the Pentagon. The only significant difference between counter-insurgency operations overseas and the ones conducted domestically is the fact that military personnel operate under more restrictive rules of engagement than police officers.

The SWAT concept itself could be considered a domestic variant of the "Counter-terror teams" assembled by the CIA as part of the murderous "Phoenix Program" in Vietnam. Amid mounting – and overdue, but welcome -- public antipathy toward police militarization, the Homeland Security apparatus has ramped up its longstanding campaign to collect information on activists and commentators who promote "anti-police" attitudes – another homefront adaptation of counter-insurgency methods.

In 2008, total government spending on "police protection" was $76 billion – nearly half of all "criminal justice"-related expenditures. In the following year the Obama administration poured additional billions of dollars into the Justice Department’s Byrne Memorial Grant program. That program is one of the chief federal funding arteries for "local" police departments – and perhaps the most significant tool the Feds have employed to mobilize police departments and sheriff’s offices in the "war on drugs."

The foregoing happened before the most recent push to provide every police agency with surplus war-fighting vehicles – even if their officers patrol tiny rural villages in which crime is all but nonexistent.

Original report here




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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Australia: David Eastman’s hopes to claim compensation for wrongful conviction could be dashed

JAILED cop killer David Eastman’s hopes for millions in compensation could be dashed by being released without having his conviction quashed.

That is one of the options the full bench of the ACT Supreme Court will consider today.

Eastman has been given legal aid to argue against that option, and he will instead try to persuade the full bench to quash his conviction for the 1989 murder of top cop Colin Winchester.

If Eastman succeeds at the full bench hearings today and tomorrow it will open the way for him to make a massive compensation claim.

Compensation precedents have been set by the other high-profile cases of Lindy Chamberlain and Andrew Mallard.

Ms Chamberlain received $1.3 million in compensation in 1992 after being wrongly convicted of killing her baby daughter Azaria in 1980 and Mr Mallard got $3.25 million in 2009 after spending 12 years in jail before being exonerated over the 1994 murder of Perth jeweller Pamela Lawrence.

Fighting against freedom and compensation for Eastman at today’s hearing will be the office of the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions.

It will try to convince the full bench that Eastman is guilty and should be kept behind bars until he dies.

Former Victorian County Court judge John Dee, QC, yesterday said it would be unfair to Eastman if the full court decided to allow Eastman’s murder conviction to stand.

Mr Dee was lead counsel assisting the coroner during the Winchester inquest and has closely followed the Eastman case since then.

"Eastman didn’t get a fair trial and deserves nothing less than having his conviction quashed," he told the Herald Sun.

Former public servant David Eastman arrives at ACT Supreme Court on charges of murdering

Former public servant David Eastman arrives at ACT Supreme Court on charges of murdering Police Commissioner Colin Winchester. Picture: Ray Strange

A judicial inquiry last month recommended freeing Eastman without a retrial. He has served 19 years behind bars for the murder of Australian Federal Police assistant commissioner Winchester.

The Martin inquiry said the guilty finding against Eastman, 68, was based on "deeply flawed forensic evidence".

Acting Justice Brian Martin said he was "fairly certain" Eastman committed the murder — but still found Eastman’s jailing for life without parole was a substantial miscarriage of justice that warranted his 1995 murder conviction being quashed.

If the full bench of the ACT Supreme Court adopts the Martin inquiry quashing recommendation it would enable Eastman to seek millions in compensation for wrongful imprisonment.

But one of the four options the full bench is considering is allowing Eastman’s conviction to stand and recommending that the ACT Government change his penalty.

That could result in Eastman’s life sentence being reduced to time already served, meaning he would be freed but would remain a convicted murderer forever.

Being a convicted murderer would make it extremely unlikely Eastman would win a compensation claim.

Original report here




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Monday, July 14, 2014


Cleveland OH police officer accused of filming sex with 15-year-old girl

A Cleveland police officer charged with having sex with a teenage girl is accused of filming himself having intercourse with his 15-year-old victim.

A Cleveland Municipal Court document accuses Fourth District Patrol Officer Charles Locke of recording on video multiple sex acts with the teen. The document says the victim's parents warned Locke to stay away from their daughter, but Locke persisted.

Locke was arrested at Fourth District headquarters Thursday. He is charged with two counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and four counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material, according to the court website.

Locke will remain suspended from duty without pay pending the outcome of the case. He also faces a pre-disciplinary hearing in front of Public Safety Director Michael McGrath.

Locke, who arrested Cleveland serial killer Anthony Sowell in 2009, joined the division in October 2007.

Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association President Jeff Follmer said the union will not support Locke in the case.

Original report here




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Sunday, July 13, 2014


Cops Want to Give Teen an Erection and Photograph It... You Know, For Evidence

The authorities in Prince William County, Virginia, are pursuing child pornography charges against a 17 year old who exchanged nude picture texts with his 15-year-old girlfriend. The police have even filed a warrant that would permit them to take the teen to the hospital, give him an erection-producing injection, and photograph his penis. Prosecutors want to compare this photograph to the one the teen sent to his girlfriend, establishing that they depict the same thing.

Some astute logicians might point out the irony of the police effectively creating child pornography in order to prosecute someone for creating child pornography, though long-time readers of Reason know that law enforcement has a history of doing precisely that.

Carlos Flores Laboy, the teen's guardian, told The Washington Post that police efforts to prosecute this case were "crazy."

Carlos Flores Laboy, appointed the teen’s guardian ad litem in the case, said he thought it was just as illegal for the Manassas City police to create their own child pornography as to investigate the teen for it. "They’re using a statute that was designed to protect children from being exploited in a sexual manner," Flores Laboy said, "to take a picture of this young man in a sexually explicit manner. The irony is incredible." The guardian added, "As a parent myself, I was floored. It’s child abuse. We’re wasting thousands of dollars and resources and man hours on a sexting case. That’s what we’re doing."

Foster said Detective Abbott told her that after obtaining photos of the teen’s erect penis he would "use special software to compare pictures of this penis to this penis. Who does this? It’s just crazy."

Keep in mind that police have already taken photographs of the teen's private parts after arresting him and holding him in juvenile jail to await charges. Good grief, how many pictures of a teenage boy's penis does one police department need?

The teen has so far refused to plead guilty. If convicted, he could stay in jail until he turns 21.

Original report here




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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Judge criticises British police for investigating 'outrageous' mother and daughter spat

A judge has criticised the intelligence of a police force as he warned it should never have got involved in a mother-daughter spat which began when one left their joint business and set up a rival estate agent.

The catastrophic falling out between Nicola Low, 71, and her daughter, Caroline Baines, 40, came to a head when the younger woman complained about her meagre maternity pay.

A stream of angry letters culminated in Mrs Low making an "extremely nasty" complaint to police and the arrest of her daughter's innocent business partner, who was held in a police cell for five hours.

Judge Richard Seymour QC described the contents of the police statement as "outrageous" and said it contained "a number of barefaced lies".

He added: "The decision of Hertfordshire Police even to investigate the complaints of Mrs Low, still less to arrest Mrs Mogridge, was not a tribute to the intelligence of the officers concerned."

Mrs Low and Mrs Baines had been in business together, running a letting agency in Welwyn Garden City, Herts, until a catastrophic falling out at the beginning of 2010.

Mrs Low sued her daughter for £100,000, accusing her of betraying her trust and 'pinching clients' after she left Halcyon House Lettings went off to set up a directly competing business.

But Mrs Baines, who now runs Mint Lettings and Management, and her business partner, Susan Mogridge, accused Mrs Low of harassment and asked Judge Richard Seymour QC to award them £50,000 damages.

But Judge Seymour dismissed both mother's and daughter's claims, describing the case as the "most unhappy family discord".

Criticising Mrs Low's behaviour in making a "malicious" complaint to police, the judge said there was "no obvious reason" for taking legal action against her daughter "other than spite".

After relations deteriorated in 2010 and they parted ways, Mrs Low contacted Hertfordshire police to accuse Mrs Mogridge of theft.

The judge said: "The contents of the police statement strike me as outrageous. It contained a number of barefaced lies.

"Mrs Low was setting out not merely to be mischievous, but malicious, in making complaints to the police which she must have know were totally without any justification.

"It is obvious that, by making her complaint to the police, Mrs Low was setting out to cause trouble for Mrs Mogridge and also, if possible, for Mrs Baines".

The judge said he was "entirely satisfied" that Mrs Low's complaint to the police against Mrs Mogridge, who formerly worked for Halcyon House, was "malicious" and made "with a view to causing alarm, distress and anxiety".

But that single incident, he ruled, was not a "course of conduct" that could be called harassment.

The court heard Mrs Baines had been managing director of Halcyon House, owning 45% of the shares, and her mother, who founded the business, had always intended that her daughter should eventually take full control.

However, James Purnell, for Mrs Baines, said that, by the time she gave birth to Henry, her mother had "wanted to take her out of the equation".

Original report here




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Friday, July 11, 2014

Scotland Yard chief apologises for 'failings' over shooting of woman which sparked 1985 Brixton riots

An inquest has just reported on 1985 events

The commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has today apologised to the family of a woman whose shooting sparked the 1985 Brixton riots after an inquest revealed failures by officers.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe made the apology to the family of Dorothy Groce, known as Cherry, who was shot by police during a bungled raid at her home.

Mrs Groce was paralysed from the chest down following the shooting by armed police, who were searching for her son.

She died 26 years later in 2011 from kidney failure, which a pathologist directly linked to the gunshot wound.

An inquest jury today said the raid by Metropolitan Police and Hertfordshire Police should never have gone ahead, one of eight police failures which they found contributed to her death.

In a statement Sir Bernard said: 'Today, I apologise unreservedly for our failings. I also apologise for the inexcusable fact that it has taken until now, for the Met to make this public apology.

'Sadly, this means that the person who most deserved to hear the apology, those words ‘we are sorry’, is no longer here.

'However, Cherry’s children, her friends and others are here and they too deserve an apology. I am sorry for the years of suffering which our actions and omissions caused to your family.'

The Commissioner also described the operation which saw Mrs Groce shot as 'inadequate in both its planning and delivery' and the shooting itself as 'preventable'.

He added: 'Mrs Groce bore her suffering with dignity and her story is a powerful reminder to all officers of our responsibilities when we use force, or plan for its possible use.

'What is clear is that in this case, we, as an organisation, failed to meet those responsibilities and in doing so caused irreparable damage to a mother and her family.'

Earlier Mrs Groce’s family had said they were expecting an apology from the Metropolitan Police and would 'listen to with interest'.

Her son Lawrence Lee said his family had finally won their 29 year fight for the truth, which included a campaign for legal aid in order to be fairly represented at the inquest and the release of a police report in to the raid.

Mr Lee, who witnessed the shooting when he was just 11 years old, said: 'I always knew what happened that day was wrong and now I feel like we finally have heard the truth. 'This inquest has been the first opportunity in 29 years for us to hear about the serious failings made by police.

'It’s been very emotional and frustrating, it’s been a fight and battle for my mum her whole life and we’ve carried that fight on.

'I really hope that the police learn valuable lessons in terms of accountability and transparency. 'If they can’t hold their hands up to a historical failure, what hope do we have?'

He also described his mother as a 'care free, happy-go-lucky type of person' before she was paralysed, and said she had remained the boss of the house and centre of the family afterwards. 'She is the real hero in all of this,' he added.

At an inquest into her death, it was found that the failings by police included poor communication, which led officers to brief those carrying out the raid with out-of-date details

They were not given 'adequate information' that Mr Groce was no longer wanted by police or that he was no longer in possession of a shotgun.

Police also failed to adequately check who lived at the property, including women and children, or to carry out the correct observations on the house.

The jury concluded: 'Dorothy Groce was shot by police during a planned surprise, forced entry raid at her home and her subsequent death was contributed to by failures in the planning and implementation of the raid.'

Coroner Lorna Tagliavini said she would not be making any recommendations to the police forces because policing has drastically changed over the past 29 years.

Mrs Groce’s shooting by Metropolitan Police Inspector Douglas Lovelock sparked two days of unrest during which shops were looted and petrol bombs thrown in the south London neighbourhood of Brixton.

Mr Lovelock stood trial in 1987 charged with inflicting unlawful and malicious grievous bodily harm and was acquitted.

Meanwhile, Mrs Groce spent nearly three decades in a wheelchair and susceptible to debilitating illness.

The jury returned their verdict on the third day of deliberations following six days of evidence.

Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham, had also called for the police force to apologise to the family, after the family was 'completely vindicated' by the jury’s findings.

He explained: 'It is a disgrace that my constituents - all innocent victims of a grave injustice - have had to wait almost three decades to get to the bottom of what happened that fateful day in 1985 when their mother was shot by the Metropolitan Police.

'That Cherry Groce never lived to hear the jury’s findings today compounds the injustice my constituents feel. 'The findings of the jury are very welcome and resounding.'

Original report here




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