Monday, June 30, 2008

Texas: DNA exoneration comes too late

Mistaken eyewitness ID again

Ruby told Tim all about the letter. A man named Jerry Wayne Johnson was promising to confess to the rape that kept her eldest son behind bars for 13 years. There was a lot of work still to do, Ruby told her son. They'd have to prove Johnson's claims, somehow, and no one knew if that was possible. But there was hope enough for the 71-year-old woman.

Eight years had passed since prison dust and Tim's asthma killed him. For the first time since his death, his family really believed there was a chance to clear his name. "When you have a child, there are commitments you make to them, promises," she said later. "And we try to keep every last one of them." Her small frame paused as she pushed up from the ground next to Tim's headstone. Ruby's voice barely carried past her lips. "It's going to be OK," she told her son.

Six years had passed since 2001, when a judge dismissed Johnson's attempted confession to the crime that imprisoned Tim. Only five had passed since legislators granted Texas prisoners access to post-conviction DNA testing. Johnson tried again, from his cell near Snyder, to alert Tim Cole to his confession. He figured Tim would be out of jail on parole now. Johnson's mother found an address for Ruby, and the prisoner wrote a letter addressed to Tim Cole on May 11, 2007.

"I have been trying to locate you since 1995 to tell you I wish to confess I did in fact commit the rape Lubbock wrongly convicted you of," Johnson wrote. "If this letter reaches you, please contact me by writing so that we can arrange to take the steps to get the process started. Whatever it takes, I will do it." Tim's brother Rodney thought the letter was a sick joke when he first saw the envelope in the mailbox. Then he began reading and shouting for his mother.

"My husband left this earth with the same prayer that I've had all these years," Ruby said. "That one day, maybe somebody would own up to it. Now that's what this said in this boy's letter."

But the confession posed its own problems. Johnson's word was not enough to overturn a jury verdict; that required hard evidence, like a DNA test. No one knew if testable material existed from a 23-year-old case.

There was another problem. If the claim was true, then Lubbock was about to enter untested legal waters. Lubbock County has performed half a dozen post-conviction DNA tests, District Attorney Matt Powell said. All were on living prisoners, and all confirmed the original verdict. Experts are aware of no posthumous DNA exoneration in the state of Texas. State law offers no clear instructions as to how to handle such a problem. Because there was no one to free, the county was under no obligation do anything regarding the case.

From the stands of a Little League baseball game last spring, Powell promised to find the truth behind the letter. If there was a way to prove Johnson was lying or honest, the office would find an answer, he said. "If one innocent person is put in the pen, that's a travesty of justice," Powell said....

Tim's family knew well by the summer of 2007 the speed of justice. They said, over and over, Johnson's letter was proof enough to them Tim had not committed the crime. But they knew they needed stronger proof to clear Tim's name for everyone else.

Lubbock's district attorney's office first pulled records to see if it was even possible that Johnson could have done the crime. George White, a detective on the original case and now administrator for the district attorney's office, helped with the investigation. The Innocence Project of Texas, a non-profit firm of students and attorneys that work on wrongful conviction claims, interviewed Johnson and checked his background to rule out any connection to Tim's family. Both groups warned the family and reporters that many inmates make unfounded claims. Both continued to follow the case.

DNA evidence has exonerated 33 inmates so far in Texas, more than any other state. The Dallas area has cleared 19 since 2001. Tim's family watched relieved and happy innocent men on the nightly news in Dallas, where most of the wrongful convictions have been overturned. Many of the cases hinged on the same problems alleged in Tim's case - faulty identification or forensics problems.

Months piled up without news. Updates from the district attorney's office trickled out. Johnson wrote that he'd stopped hearing from Innocence Project staff. To have hope revived and then delayed again renewed two decades of frustration. The family worried Tim's case had stalled again. "I know he's deceased," Cory said in February. "That's why it's just more and more important to us. Everybody wants to hear about someone who got out of prison and they're moving on with their lives. Well, we want to hear about someone who didn't deserve to go to prison."

The DNA test. Johnson met with the Avalanche-Journal a few weeks after his letter came to light. He discussed his memory of the rape and of Tim in a deliberate, matter-of-fact tone. Johnson was critical of the attorneys appointed to handle his own appeals and DNA requests. He has not explained why he committed the rapes. The girl, he said during an interview at the Price Daniel Unit last June, just happened to be the first to pull into that cold church parking lot in March 1985.

Johnson chuckled when asked what he was doing in the parking lot in the first place. He was working for a rental car company and on sick leave at the time of the attack. He lived and worked nowhere near campus. "Why?" he asked from behind the thick blue bars of the Price Daniel visiting room. "C'mon, man. I just told you."

But Tim's death and the family's pain troubled him. He wanted to know his discussion of the crime with the media would help the family. He passed along apologies to Tim's mother and to the victim....

Lubbock investigators found evidence from Tim's case gathering dust in the county archives last fall. The Department of Public Safety's crime lab confirmed the material could be tested. They took two samples, more than needed, from Johnson in April. In May, they quietly received the results of the DNA testing. Johnson raped the Tech student.

Cases so heavily based on eyewitness testimony became more rare since the 1970s and 1980s, he said. DNA evidence, though not always available, helped reduce but not eliminate chances of another wrongful conviction.

Powell, Lubbock's current district attorney, was proud his office had determined the truth behind the rapes and frustrated he could not charge Johnson with the crime. "He's not stupid," Powell said. "Everyone wants to paint him as a good guy, but he's far from it. "If I could prosecute him, I guarantee that would happen. If I had any legal recourse against him he'd already be indicted."

Texas Innocence Project attorney Jeff Blackburn requested on Friday a court of inquiry be held on Tim's case. The process would use a rarely tapped power allowing a Texas district judge to start an investigation into violation of state laws. "If we're going to live in a society where the court system operates in a fair way, then it's got to do it across the board," Blackburn said. "They have a right to have a court of record tell them that their son was innocent."

Tim's family learned the news confirming what they had long known on a Thursday morning in late June. They filled Ruby's southeast Fort Worth living room with friends and family members who could make the sudden trip to hear the results of the DNA test. There was quiet relief at first; the satisfaction of knowing that finally, everyone would admit what the family knew about Tim. But there was a bitterness to the news, too, and echoes of how the family struggled with Tim's death. With the truth out, memories of the trial and Lubbock media coverage of their son and brother, of the investigation that snared Tim, and of the way the case was presented in court bubbled back up.

More here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Canadian judges getting cautious?

That poisonous plea-bargaining at issue again. It should be outlawed

One of the greatest fears of any criminal court judge must be presiding over a wrongful conviction. This was clearly on the mind of Guelph Superior Court Justice Bruce Durno Wednesday, when he realized he might be about to send an innocent man off to the clink.

Durno was presiding over the case of a Canadian soldier who had earlier pleaded guilty to sexual interference, possessing child pornography and making obscene material. At the time of the plea back in April, the man admitted he took obscene photos of his seven-year-old niece, touched her sexually and had a huge amount of child porn on his computer when police came knocking.

But Wednesday, Durno was confronted with a presentencing report in which the man was quoted saying the allegations were "completely false" and that he pleaded guilty, among other reasons, because he could not afford to defend himself at trial and did not want to put his niece through the ordeal.

This sent red flags popping up all over Durno's court. Before being assured the man admitted his guilt, Durno commented there have been many high-profile wrongful convictions following trials. "A wrongful conviction entered on an inappropriate guilty plea is as bad, if not worse," Durno said.

How true. At approximately the same time Durno was expressing his concerns in a Guelph courtroom, at Osgoode Hall in Toronto defence counsel James Lockyer was addressing that very same theme. Lockyer, primarily known around these parts as the leader of Steven Truscott's Appeal Court team, represents 40-year-old Anthony Hanemaayer, who was finally acquitted this week in a 1987 sex attack on a teenage girl in her own bed.

Unlike Truscott's 1959 murder conviction, which Crown lawyers fought tooth and nail to have upheld, prosecutors in the Hanemaayer case conceded he had not committed the crime and invited the Appeal Court panel to acquit him, more than 20 years after his arrest.

In arguing the Truscott case, Lockyer only had a boatload of proof of sloppy police work and previously ignored alibi evidence to make a pitch for his client. In the Hanemaayer case, he had something a little more easy for the Crown to digest: a confession from notorious serial killer and Scarborough rapist Paul Bernardo. Court heard Bernardo's lawyer contacted police in 2006 to say his client wanted to discuss other crimes. During that interview, Bernardo admitted committing the 1987 crime.

One unusual wrinkle in the Hanemaayer case is that he pleaded guilty midway through his 1989 trial. So he must have done it, right? Not exactly. It turns out the key Crown witness -- the victim's mother -- was mistaken when she swore Hanemaayer was the man she saw sitting on her daughter with a knife in his hand.

In an affidavit filed with the Appeal Court, Hanemaayer said he changed his plea because the evidence was stacked against him. His lawyer at the time said the Crown would offer two years less a day in a reformatory if he pleaded guilty, but would ask for six to 10 years in penitentiary if he was convicted after trial. Hanemaayer, apparently not much of a gambler, pleaded guilty to something he hadn't done and was sent to jail. "Anthony Hanemaayer's wrongful conviction could happen just as easily in 2008 as it did back in 1989," Lockyer said outside Osgoode Hall.

Cases such as Truscott's, and now Hanemaayer's, should make everyone involved in the administration of justice a little more cautious. Durno's approach to the Guelph case this week proves that is happening.

Original report here. As we see here however, there was reasonable objective evidence of guilt and the guy got 16 months for pornography.

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

DNA frees another Dallas man

Huge eyewitness ID failure

Today, the Dallas County District Attorney’s (DA) Office announced that Patrick Waller, 38, is the County’s latest wrongfully convicted citizen. Waller, who is represented by Gary Udashen, has spent the past 16 years in prison and was serving a life sentence for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, along with two 30-year sentences for aggravated kidnapping which arose from the same incident. He is the 18th person in Dallas County cleared of crimes by DNA evidence.

“Technological advances in science have proved another Dallas County man’s innocence and identified the actual perpetrator, but because the statute of limitations has run on these offenses, the State cannot prosecute the two men who did this 16 years ago,” said Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins. “This is a perfect example of why I plan to address the current statute of limitations on certain offenses during the 2009 Legislative session in Austin. It is a gross understatement to say that we are displeased with the fact that we cannot seek justice for the victims in this case because of the laws back in 1992.”

On the night of March 25, 1992, a man and his wife were abducted from the West End in downtown Dallas at gunpoint by two men. This occurred as the couple was returning to their parked vehicle. The two abductors kidnapped the couple in their vehicle, forced one of the victims to drive to an ATM in the Oak Cliff community of Dallas and then forced them to withdraw the maximum amount of cash that could be withdrawn from the bank account in one transaction, which was $200. The two abductors then made them drive to an abandoned house. The two men forced the couple inside the house at gunpoint, made them disrobe, tied them up in the basement and sexually assaulted the woman.

Testimony from Mr. Waller’s trial reveals that sometime during this episode, another couple drove up to the abandoned house and the man got out of the vehicle to relieve himself. One of the abductors, identified in court during the 1992 trial as Waller, approached the couple, forced them inside the house at gunpoint and assaulted them with his Tech 9 firearm. The second couple also was forced to disrobe and tied up in the basement with the first couple. The woman from the second couple made a remark about her feminine hygiene product and, at about the same time, a DISD security officer drove past the house — both of which, apparently contributed to scaring the two abductors off without sexually assaulting the second woman. One abductor left the scene in the first couple’s vehicle and the other abductor left in the second couple’s vehicle.

Approximately one week later, Waller’s photo was put in a photo line-up by the Dallas Police Department for reasons that are unclear and three of the four victims picked him out as one of the abductors, resulting in Waller’s arrest. The testimony at trial indicates that the fourth victim (the woman who was sexually assaulted) later picked him out of a live line-up.

There was never a second suspect. Waller testified at his trial that he had nothing to do with the offense and knew nothing about it. He also presented alibi witnesses; however, the jury convicted him and sentenced him to life in prison for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon.

As part of the Conviction Integrity Unit’s DNA Review initiative, the DNA from the sexual assault kit in Waller’s case was tested late last year (2007). Testing was paid for by the Innocence Project of Texas. The DNA test results concluded that there was only one male profile present and that profile was not from Patrick Waller. During the DA’s investigation, the Conviction Integrity Unit ran the unknown male profile through the Texas Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) CODIS Convicted Offender File, which is a national database of DNA profiles from convicted offenders.

Through CODIS, the unknown male profile came back as a match to Byron Bell, who when confronted about the 1992 crime, confessed to committing the offense. Bell said that his co-actor in that offense was, a 19-year-old (at the time of the offense) African-American male named Mondo Green, whom he had not seen since the night of the offense. Bell later passed a polygraph test as to the identity of his co-actor. Bell also said that he had a 9 mm Glock that night but never carried or used a Tech 9 and did not remember Mondo having one.

The DA’s Office, working with the Dallas Police Department in reinvestigating the case, established that a man by the name of Lemondo Simmons had been associated with the address where Bell said Mondo Green’s grandmother lived. After Bell passed a polygraph as to the identity of his co-actor, they found Simmons and the State subpoenaed him to appear before the grand jury on June 25, 2008.

Because grand jury proceedings are secret and cannot be disclosed, the DA’s Office is prohibited from releasing any of the testimony from that hearing without a court order. However, it is confirmed by the DA’s Office that Mr. Simmons, who unfortunately cannot be prosecuted for the crimes because of the expired statute of limitations, confessed to committing the offense with Bell in 1992.

A previous request by Waller for post-conviction DNA testing was denied prior to District Attorney Craig Watkins’ administration. Records indicate Waller was the third inmate from Dallas County to file a Chapter 64 motion for post-conviction DNA testing after the statute was passed in 2001.

In this case four different witnesses wrongly identified the defendant as the perpetrator - three in photo arrays and one in a live lineup - but we now know they were all unquestionably wrong!

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Canada: Acquitted man demands justice reforms

Crooked police plus faulty eyewitness testimony

Anthony Hanemaayer's acquittal yesterday for a 1987 sex attack committed by Paul Bernardo exposed what his lawyers call a multitude of problems plaguing Canada's justice system, including the use of dangerous eyewitness evidence. Hanemaayer's lawyers hope his wrongful conviction and the 20 years he spent paying for Bernardo's crime will translate into compensation for their client and a police investigation into whether the serial killer committed other offences, including the 1990 disappearance of Elizabeth Bain. They also hope the case will change how eyewitness testimony is used, considered the leading cause of wrongful convictions. In the U.S., "eyewitness identification evidence" has played a role in about 75 per cent of wrongful convictions overturned through DNA testing.

In Canada, a hard-hitting report came seven years ago on the case of Thomas Sophonow, who was wrongly convicted twice of a 1981 murder. Few of its recommendations to reduce miscarriages of justice from the use of this evidence have been put into place. "Anthony Hanemaayer's wrongful conviction could happen just as easily in 2008 as it did back in 1989," lawyer James Lockyer said after Hanemaayer emerged with his parents into the sun outside the Ontario Court of Appeal to enjoy his first moments as a finally free man.

"I'm very happy that it's over," said Hanemaayer, a soft-spoken 40-year-old roofer who appeared close to tears, including when asked about his parents, Peter and Wilma. "If I didn't have them," he said, "I'd be lost."

Hanemaayer was accused of being the knife-wielding assailant who broke into a Scarborough house through a basement window sometime before dawn on Sept. 29, 1987, crept upstairs to a 15-year-old girl's bedroom and threatened to kill her if she didn't stay quiet. Startled by the victim's mother, the attacker ran out the door. "This was a particularly nasty crime and it took no imagination to know what the intruder's intentions were," Lockyer told an appeal court panel headed by Justice Marc Rosenberg, who expressed profound regret for the "devastating effect" the case had on Hanemaayer and his family.

Hanemaayer said it's impossible to reduce the ordeal to dollars. Nineteen at the time of his arrest and newly married, he lost his wife and expectations for the future. He had been working at a construction site in the neighbourhood, when he was identified by the victim's mother as the attacker. Her honest but mistaken observation was the key component of the Crown's case.

Hanemaayer felt certain her testimony would put him behind the walls of a penitentiary for at least six years. Part way through his 1989 trial, he changed his pleas to guilty and was sentenced to two years less a day for breaking and entering and assault with a weapon. "It happens more often than you think, in serious cases with a defendant who swears he's innocent," said Frank Addario, president of the Criminal Lawyers' Association, "They cave in and plead guilty for the certainty of a reduced sentence."

Lockyer said both Hanemaayer and the victim were let down by the justice system. Notes made by the prosecutor at Hanemaayer's preliminary hearing indicate she recognized the weakness of her case was that it was based on one woman who had at most a 60-second glimpse of the attacker, the appeal panel was told. On the other hand, the prosecutor considered it a plus that the victim's mother was very confident.

That, in itself, is a problem. Elizabeth Loftus, a psychologist and noted memory expert from the University of Washington, told the public inquiry into Sophonow's case that there's little connection between an eyewitness's confidence level and accuracy – but confident eyewitnesses have a powerful effect on jurors.

Hanemaayer's trial lawyer seemed awed by the testimony of the victim's mother and only too willing to arrange for his client to enter a guilty plea, Lockyer said. "We didn't have money for a top-notch lawyer," said Peter Hanemaayer.

Bernardo made an overture to police through his lawyer to discuss other crimes in 2006. He described the 1987 attack in detail to two Toronto police detectives. Although police met with Hanemaayer soon after the Bernardo interview and told him they didn't believe he'd committed the crime after all, they never mentioned they'd spoken with the serial killer, let alone that he'd confessed.

Hanemaayer only learned that last year, when the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted offered to take up his case. Were it not for that, "I probably would have gone to the grave" blamed for Bernardo's crime, he said. The association had been given the transcript of the Bernardo interview as part of the evidence the Crown turned over to the defence for the trial of Robert Baltovich, Bain's former boyfriend, who had been scheduled to stand trial a second time this past spring for her murder.

Acquitted in April after the Crown admitted it had no case against him, Baltovich was also in court yesterday, supporting Hanemaayer, and echoed calls for an inquiry.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Michigan to get the real rapist this time?

Wyniemko was convicted on circumstantial evidence and the testimony of a jailhouse snitch. When will jailhouse snitch testimony be banned? It is always tainted. It continues only because cops love it

Five years ago, Ken Wyniemko was released from the Michigan prison system, exonerated after a decade behind bars for a rape that DNA evidence concluded he did not commit. On Wednesday, Clinton Township police confirmed that a match has been made to the DNA collected at the scene of the 1994 Macomb County rape for which Wyniemko was arrested, convicted and incarcerated. "We have a suspect through DNA testing," Clinton Township Police Captain Richard Maierle says. "We are working in conjunction with the Macomb County prosecutor to resolve this case." He refused to identify the suspect, who is already behind bars on other charges.

Wyniemko, who was released and exonerated with the help of the Innocence Project at Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, now lives in Rochester Hills and advocates for laws to prevent wrongful convictions and helps other exonerees with money and support.

The identification of the attacker who repeatedly raped a woman in her Macomb County home early one morning is a relief to Wyniemko — the final proof that he did not commit the crime. "I'm real curious to see if the guy committed any other crimes during the time I was in prison," Wyniemko says.

Maierle said he would not discuss whether the new suspect has other convictions or charges during the last 15 years. "But how would we get any new evidence unless he did? Draw your own conclusions," he says.

Michigan law requires DNA collection from anyone convicted of certain crimes, including murder, manslaughter, kidnapping and criminal sexual conduct, as well as enticing a child for immoral purposes, window peeping, indecent exposure and some prostitution-related crimes. The Michigan State Police lab compares collected profiles to samples from unsolved crimes. Wyniemko says he learned that's how the match was made in his case.

Former Macomb County Prosecutor Carl Marlinga, who was in office during Wyniemko's conviction and then fought for his exoneration, called the situation a "prosecutor's worst nightmare," especially if the actual rapist committed other crimes between the 1994 rape and his recent identification. "It means that, because of this wrongful conviction, [there's] not only the injustice for Ken Wyniemko, but some other person has been victimized," says Marlinga, who is now in private practice. "Naturally, because it happened on my watch, it really disturbs me. I'm frustrated and angry that it happened. … The mistake is not having something like this happen on your watch. The mistake would be to try and deny it and cover it up." Maierle says he doesn't know when charges might be issued for the new suspect.

Of the 218 DNA-based exonerations the Innocence Project has helped secure nationally, the actual perpetrator has been identified in 83 of them. "Until the actual perpetrator is caught there are always skeptics and doubters who continue to secretly harbor suspicions against the person who has been exonerated," Marlinga says. "This is as close as we can get to absolute proof."

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Settlement conference set in wrongful conviction case

Corrupt police and prosecutors

A U.S. judge ordered a settlement conference in the case of a former Lee's Summit man seeking compensation for his wrongful conviction. Theodore White Jr. is suing Richard and Tina McKinley, claiming false arrest, conspiracy and malicious prosecution. Tina is White's ex-wife who had an affair with the detective, Richard McKinley, who was investigating her case regarding White's alleged molestation of his adopted daughter, according to court records. White was convicted of the charge in February 1999 but later won an appeal and his conviction was overturned by a jury.

Tina and Richard McKinley lost their appeal earlier this year with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The court affirmed the district court's denial of their request for summary judgment.

U.S. Magistrate Judge John T. Maughmer on June 13 ordered a settlement conference for 10 a.m. July 22 at the U.S. Courthouse in downtown Kansas City. White is seeking $100 million in punitive and compensatory damages. The city of Lee's Summit and former Police Chief Ken Conlee were dismissed from the case in September 2006 as part of an indemnification agreement.

Richard McKinley is covered by the city's insurance coverage, which through MARCIT has an annual program liability limit of $15 million. Richard McKinley was a Lee's Summit detective at the time and is now a Lee's Summit patrol officer.

A jury trial is scheduled for 9 a.m. Aug. 18 before Judge Nanette Laughrey in U.S. District Court for the Western District in downtown Kansas City.

Original report here

A background document from 2004 below:

Theodore White, Jr. has had two trials thus far, at a considerable cost to the tax payers and the White family. In the first case the prosecution failed to inform the defense that the lead investigator in the case was having an affair with Mr. White's wife. The prosecution was well aware that the affair was going on and yet purposely withheld the information. The ex-wife and the lead detective are now married.

A Missouri Court finally allowed Mr. White to have a re-trial and allowed all the information to be heard. This previous case was found to have many issues including: tampering, inconsistencies, false allegations, withholding of evidence, violations, cover-ups by the Lee's Summit Police Department, a lack of professionalism by the Jackson County Prosecutors Office and lies by both the ex-wife and the stepdaughter. The second trial created a verdict of 11 to 1 in favor of not guilty. Now, because of that hung jury, Mr. White remains in prison, the State of Missouri and the White family will endure even more hardship and financial cost. One lone juror (whom refused to even explain his reasoning) is the difference. THIS IS JUST WRONG!!!

Theodore William White, Jr. and his family have suffered for SIX long years. It is time for this to END! It is your duty as Attorney General to STOP this charade. The publicity is so damaging to the prosecution that it will highlight many wrongdoings by members of the Missouri Government. There have been numerous newspaper articles and television interviews with supporters of Theodore White. Many of the interviews have included members of the jury that strongly feel that Theodore White is innocent. You have the ability to end all of this and save the taxpayers' time and money. In addition you will be setting free a man whom was wrongly convicted and has spent the last six years in jail.

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pre-emptive "reasonable force" in Blackburn, Lancashire

Cops in England are heavily armed and trained to be bullies. They routinely shove their way into situations where they aren't wanted, weren't invited, and have no business being. They deliberately escalate confrontations in order to "stay in control" through superior belligerence. They use violence first and ask questions later; they commonly use force to end an argument and then blame it on their victim. They rewrite events using pliable terms like "aggressive," "combative," and "belligerent" to conflate unkind words, purely verbal confrontations, or weak attempts to escape a grip or ward off blow with actual threats or violence against the cops, to excuse the use of extreme violence as retaliation for mouthing off or not just laying down and taking it like an upstanding citizen. They invariably pass off even the most egregious forms of violence against harmless people as "self-defense" or as the "necessary" means to accomplish a completely unnecessary goal.

Consider, for example, what happened in Blackburn, Lancashire, when Christopher Cocker fell off the couch (from laughing at a comedy program), and a neighbor, not knowing what caused the thud, called the cops to check in on him. The cops showed up; he came to the door, thus demonstrating that the cops, happily, didn't have an emergency to deal with after all; rather than leaving, they demanded his name and started asking personal questions. He said some unkind words and tried to shut the door; so they sprayed him with parva spray, forced their way in, beat him up, restrained him, stripped him naked, threw him in a cage, and then, to crown all, called his behavior "aggressive" and charged him with "resisting" a bullying cop who had no reason to arrest him to begin with.
Officers arrived and said Cocker was initially co-operative but became "aggressive" when they asked his name and tried to shut his front door. He was eventually disabled with parva spray through the gap and arrested.

Jonathan Taylor, defending, said: "The officer accepts in his statement that he struck my client and then sprayed him again." "He was handcuffed and unceremoniously thrown into the back of a police van. When he ended up in a police cell he was asking himself how all this had happened."

Mr Taylor told Blackburn Magistrates' Court, Lancs., said that having informed the police he was the only one in the flat and he was fine, his client could not understand why they wanted his details.

[.] Cocker, of Blackburn, Lancs., pleaded guilty to resisting a police officer and was given a conditional discharge for six months following the incident on May 20. A charge of assaulting PC Michael Davies was withdrawn. Speaking after the hearing, Cocker said he had been in his flat minding his own business. He said: "I can't believe it - I was thrown in the back of a police van before being stripped naked and put in a cell." "I was handcuffed behind my back and my ankles bound with plastic ties before six of them carried me to the van."

[.] Prosecutor Alex Mann said the police went to ensure everything was all right and spoke to Cocker who was "co-operative and relaxed" and he assured the officers everything was fine. "He only became worked up when the police asked for his details," said Mrs Mann. "The police tried to explain they just needed the name for the report but he became aggressive and started swearing at the officer."

After the hearing Joan Codling, 57, who lives in the flat below and made the call to police, said she contacted officers after being concerned that he may have fallen ill. She said: "I was worried in case he was having an epileptic fit. There was a lot of noise and I didn't know what to do so I called the police."

A police spokesman said Cocker became "aggressive" towards the officers who feared for their own safety. The spokesman said: "Parva spray was used to stop any confrontation and was necessary to protect the officers and any members of the public who were around at the time." "Within the circumstances, we feel we used reasonable force."

-Daily Mail (2008-06-11): The man who fell off a sofa while laughing at Have I Got News For You - and ended up in court

Your idea of "reasonable force" may be different from theirs. But what do they care? They have the spray and the cuffs. You don't. So please note the following, if you happen to be in England:

* If government cops show up to see whether you are O.K., and it turns out that you really are O.K. and they don't need to be there, they will still feel free to use violence in order to force you to give them all the details they need for their stupid government paperwork.

* Swearing at a government cop is considered an act of "aggression" that merits massive force, including torture with toxic chemicals, beating, and physical restraint as a "defense."

* Trying to back out of the confrontation and shut the door on a government cop, who is putatively there to check on whether you're O.K. and help you out, is also considered an act of "aggression" that merits torture, beating, restraint, &c. as a "defense."

* If you become verbally "aggressive" towards government cops, they will consider it a "reasonable use of force" to torture, beat, restrain, &c. you as a preemptive strike against the possibility of "any confrontation," even if you have given no evidence at all of wanting anything other than to be left in peace.

* No matter how obviously harmless you may be, no matter how obviously needless the government cops' presence may be, and no matter how outrageously over-the-top the violence used against you may be, when a gang of cops serves and protects the hell out of you, they can count on newspaper stories to repeated absolutely any excuse their government cronies offer, with a straight face and as the last word of the article, and to report their thuggery as little more than a isn't-that-funny sort of human interest story - rather than as what it is, i.e. a gang of thugs flipping out, in a fit of pique, and torturing and terrorizing an innocent and completely harmless man, who they were supposedly there to check in on and help out.

If you're baffled that cops could get away with these kind of outrages, it may help to remember that in cities throughout Europe and America, there is no such thing as a civil police force anymore. What we have would be better described as thuggish paramilitary units occupying what they regard as hostile territory. Here as elsewhere, they are going to "serve and protect" us, whether we want them to or not, and if we don't like it then they've got a small arsenal of guns and truncheons and cuffs and chemical weapons in order to make sure we get good and protected anyway.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Congratulations to Florida

Still 25 States to go, though

People who have been wrongfully sent to prison will receive automatic compensation from the state under a new law signed by Governor Charlie Crist. People proven innocent after spending time behind bars would automatically get $50,000 for every year they spent in prison. The new law (SB 756), though, would exclude those with prior felony records. They would be able, though, to pursue individual compensation through the Legislature's claims process.

Lawmakers passed the bill after the release in recent years of several inmates after DNA tests showed they could not have committed the crimes for which they had been convicted. Florida becomes the 25th state to have a law automatically compensating the wrongfully imprisoned.

The Innocence Project of Florida says Florida is the first, however, to have a provision barring people with prior records from getting money automatically. The Innocence Project works to free individuals who are wrongfully incarcerated. Currently, nine people have been exonerated in Florida based on DNA evidence showing they were innocent. One has died and two have already been compensated.

Of the remaining six, two people would appear eligible for compensation under the bill. Chad Heins was exonerated in December 2007 after spending 11 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of murdering his sister-in-law. The other eligible individual, Luis Diaz, was exonerated in 2005 after spending 25 years in prison on charges of being a serial rapist.

Original report here

The appalling Heins case was based on circumstantial evidence only. DNA eventually cleared him. See here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Victimized men

Take a look at the photo you see here. I want you to try to guess a couple of things about this woman. Do you think she is engaged, single, married or divorced? How old would you think she is?

I confess that I’m a terrible judge of age. If I’m asked how old someone is I usually stumble around and get it wrong. So maybe I’m not the best judge here. I would guess that she is somewhere in her twenties. What did you come up with?

Get it wrong and you can go to jail. In fact two men have already gone to jail because they got it wrong.

Morris Williams was approached by this young woman and she started flirting with him. She called him and spent time with and all the time she told him she was 18 years of age. On her MySpace page this woman, Alesha Dean, says she is 19 years old and divorced. She was lying about all of it. She is not divorced and was never married and she is actually 13 years old. Since some publicity came to the case Dean has altered her page and now claims to be 16 years old -- still a lie of course.

Morris Williams didn’t know she was 13. After all she was rather aggressive sexually and she looks far, far older than she really is. She acts like a very sexually experienced woman who likes picking up strangers and having sex with them. Her family admits that they can’t control her. She stays out far later than a girl her age normally does and she is clearly pushing herself sexually on her MySpace page.

Williams says that Dean had been the aggressor and picked him up on the street. And we know she lies about her age -- her MySpace page proves that. And it is clear from her photos that she looks more a pole dancer than a child. In fact one news source says there is “footage of Dean dancing and ‘shaking her womanly booty like she’s working the pole.’”

Williams then heard that she was lying about her age. He went to speak to her father to find out if this was true. And that was when he learned she was 13.

Of course that was when Dean’s father learned about Williams and had him arrested as a child molester. Sorry folks, but in my opinion the child molester in this case is the child who was molesting men. It was the lying would-be Jezebel who portrays herself as a divorce seeking hot men for pleasure.

You might also want to know that Morris Williams is not Ms. Dean’s only victim. She had done the exact same thing to 24 year old Darwin Mills. She seduced him, she lied to him about her age and apparently her family had him arrested and sent to prison as well.

So instead of taking care of the teenage slut that they are raising they wait for her to victimize someone who has no idea that he is being bamboozled. Then the family pounces on him, the police arrest him for sexual abusing a child and the courts then send the man to prison.

Does anything think it fair? Are we really saying that every sexual encounter in America must be preceded with a mandatory REAL ID check? Should adults be forced to “e-verify” their sexual partners or face prison terms? Or should common sense prevail?

In this case the common sense is that clearly Ms. Dean dresses and acts and looks more like a street walker than a school girl. She is lying to men and she is seducing them. These men are not seeking out children for sex and they don’t know that this stacked seductress is actually well under the legal age.

But the sex hysteria has reached such a pitch that men who were seduced by this out-of-control teenager are then victimized by the state. Morris is going to spend the next year in jail and then five years on probation with an ankle monitor so the police can track the child molester. And while news accounts don’t say I would think both these men will have to register as sex offenders as well.

I doubt that when people think of “sex offender” that they are thinking of men like Williams and Mills. But these men will be listed on some data base, they will have to register with the police, and strangers will look them up on the internet, see that they were convicted for having sex with a “child” and make their lives a living hell.

The actual circumstances of their arrests won’t be listed. No one will see the picture of the “victim” with her large breasts crammed into a tiny top bending over to draw attention to their size. They won’t see the her claim that she is a 19-year-old divorcee. They won’t know she prowled the streets picking up men. If anything they will imagine some Shirley-Templesque fantasy being viciously raped by a monster. These web pages of sex offenders are very poor at actually conveying facts to people. But when it comes to sex offenders people don’t feel they need the facts.

It bothers me that Williams and Mills were victimized by Dean but it bothers me more that our legal system is so irrational as to victimize them even worse.

It is a crime to have counterfeit money yet we don’t treat that the same way as this case was treated. Imagine you go down to the local grocery store and they give you some bills in change. You don’t realize it at the time but one of the bills is counterfeit. After some time you notice things that make you uncomfortable about the bill (and I don’t mean that it worthless paper backed by a bankrupt government). So you take the bill to the local bank and they confirm it is fake. They don’t thank you instead they have you arrested and you are sent to prison for a year. Obviously that is wrong. You didn’t produce the counterfeit bill and you didn’t even know it was counterfeit. And when you suspected it was you turned it in. So should you be punished?

Mr. Williams didn’t know that Alesha wasn’t an adult as she claimed to be, and importantly, as she appeared to be. When he thought he was being duped he made the effort to find out. Yet he was convicted as if he knowingly went down to trawling at some school playground for jailbait to play with.

But in the world of sex hysteria the letter of the law is obeyed because no one wants to be seen as condoning child abuse. And that fear is preventing the courts from doing the one thing that justifies their existence -- doing justice. But I guess our legal system long ago stopped being in the justice business. Today they are law enforcers not judges of justice.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

More Canadian crookedness

The story of an American who reports he was imprisoned in Canada in violation of an international treaty on trumped-up charges and tortured after he uncovered an alleged police-run drug ring is going viral on the Internet. Scott Loper, whose personal battles for justice already are being highlighted on a new website, the, now is the subject of an action alert by

"When one bleeds we all bleed, and until Bush gives the same attention to Loper as he gave Jose Medellin, America will continue to bleed," said Gary Franchi, national director of Restore the Republic. He said as an act of "solidarity" with Loper, his organization is releasing an action alert suggesting the 37,000 members of Restore the Republic contact Congress to demand hearings to review what took place while Loper was in custody in Canada.

"The halls of power are not in Washington, D.C., they are in the halls of your home," Franchi said. "It is you who must take action, when our elected officials do not. No American is safe abroad unless the Vienna Convention is enforced internationally.

"When an American police officer is entombed in a steel coffin for months on end and only receives release when he is placed in a steel cage to be sprayed with steam until his skin blisters, and those we trust to give us justice choose to sweep it under the carpet, there is a big problem that needs to be addressed," he said.

Franchi also is instructing his organization's membership to call and e-mail members of the U.S. State Department "involved in the stonewalling of justice until hearings being and Loper's missing son is located." "We demand this matter be brought to light for all Americans to see," he said. "The State Department needs to take a deeper look at the case instead of accepting documents that are invalid."

He said the Restore The Republic website contains information about contacting members of Congress and the State Department. Among those listed are House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Chief of Western Hemisphere Division Ken Durkin in the U.S. State Department and others.

The Loper website reveals, "On the verge of exposing a police-run narcotics ring in Durham, Ontario, Loper was discovered by the ring and imprisoned for four years on trumped-up charges. There, he was tortured to the point where he often questioned his ability to make it out alive." "Those he had been about to expose were after the evidence – audio and video recordings Loper had made of their illegal operations. They also wanted him to keep quiet.

"The Canadian government originally said the whole thing, including Loper's arrest, never happened, denying that Loper had ever lived in Canada, let alone been incarcerated there," it says. Eventually, the truth of his imprisonment was revealed, and the U.S. State Department and Loper's member of Congress were asked to become involved because he reported that Canada violated the Vienna Convention. That document, signed by 164 nations in 1967, requires nations to notify foreign nationals when arrested of their right to contact their own embassy, and allow that contact. Loper reports that never happened. The Canadian government reports Loper "waived" those rights, but has been unable to produce documentation.

"The Canadians finally came up with an unsigned document that holds absolutely no credibility. To add to the absurdity, the document is dated three years after Loper was arrested," the website reports.

Loper, and his civil rights lawyer, C. Scott Shields, have told WND they are awaiting the results of their Freedom of Information Act requests for documentation in the case before deciding on any further action.

Canadian officials repeatedly have declined to respond to WND questions about the case. To the U.S. State Department, they provided a copy of a document they explained was a "waiver" of his rights to have consular officials from his own nation notified. But the document is dated 2003, even though Loper's case developed in 2000, is unsigned, and regards an admissibility hearing, according to Shields.

He said in Loper's case, the nation of Canada determined his eligibility for deportation at the beginning of his sentence in 2000, and he eventually was deported, so a document dated 2003 and pertaining to such an admissibility hearing would be irrelevant. The "waiver" came through the U.S. State Department and Hoyer, D-Md., to Shields on behalf of Loper.

Loper has reported he was jailed in Canada from 2000-2004, and alleges the charges were trumped-up and he subsequently was tortured during his confinement. Besides his pursuit of a complaint against Canada, he's been searching for his wife and son, Edward, now 11, who disappeared at the time of his jailing.

Loper, who had moved to Canada so his wife at the time could be closer to her family, later divorced and remarried. While moving into a townhome with his second wife, Carolyn, they were welcomed by a beer-drinking crowd in the next unit who identified themselves as police officers, one of whom later warned him that a neighbor on the other side was "under surveillance" as a possible drug dealer.

Loper's experience as a New Jersey officer alerted him, and he subsequently watched officers repeatedly sneak into the next-door unit. He bought some microphones and a tape recorder and installed the mikes so they would monitor what was going on, discovering that police officers in the Durham region allegedly were busting drug dealers being identified by his neighbor, then bringing the drugs to him for sale, he said. Before he could take his evidence to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada's federal police unit, he was busted by local police, taken to a mental health facility and detained, he said.

While he was confined, his townhome was ransacked, his tapes confiscated and his wife and young son disappeared. He recalls a last telephone call from Carolyn. "I love you but they'll take Eddie away!" were the last words he heard her say, Loper told WND.

Released from the mental facility after a few days, he found his wife and son gone, and when he tried to find them, found himself the subject of a restraining order. He tried to express his love for his wife and son in a letter to a friend. But authorities determined that was an attempt at an "indirect communication" and in violation of a court order, so he was sentenced to prison for four years.

In prison, he said, officers repeatedly tried to get him to admit that he was making up the claims about the police officers' drug connections. "There was a hot water radiator. They would spray me with that to get me to recant my story, to get me to stop saying it," he said. Back in the United States, he's remarried and pursuing another line of work. But he still is demanding justice for what he experienced.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Friday, June 20, 2008

U.S. State Department Behind International Child Abduction Scandal

Karl Hindle has been working tirelessly for five years and spent more than four hundred thousand dollars investigating his daughter's illegal abduction to the U.S. What he has uncovered is deplorable. The paper trail shows the United States government is in the business of illegal baby snatching and harboring criminals. Emily would not have suffered the loss of her father for the last five years, or the vision in her right eye, if it weren't for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA.) And people like Barbara Grieg of the U.S. State Department who see it as an excuse for misandry and a license for lawlessness.

Hindle, a U.K. citizen met and fell in love with American Sheila Fuith while in New York. When she moved to the U.K. in 2001 she hadn't mentioned the husband and daughters she'd abandoned. Emily was born in the U.K. on March 1, 2002. At 5-months-old Emily was diagnosed with esotropia caused by amblyopia. She needed patching therapy, a patch worn a few hours each day, or she would lose sight in her right eye.

In February 2003 Fuith decided to leave Hindle and return to the U.S. She knew he would object to her taking Emily, so she did what many women in her position have done. She accused him of domestic violence and sexual abuse of children. Thanks to VAWA, she needed only to speak the words. Fuith was taken in by a battered women's shelter, and given free legal aid by the U.S. government. With no evidence and no due process, Barbara Grieg authorized the illegal abduction. The U.S. Embassy in London issued a passport for Emily without her father's signature as required by law. The forged signature was not notarized, and had the wrong date.

After arriving in the U.S. Fuith stopped Emily's therapy. She then tried to give Emily away in a "baby switch." She placed Emily with the family of Leslie Merriam, a three time convicted pedophile in Wisconsin. Karl learned of this and contacted local law enforcement. Fuith needed only to claim Karl was harassing her, and the baby switch wasn't investigated. A call to Grieg confirmed that Hindle was "dangerous." Captain Alan Osowski never looked at Fuith's phone when she told him numbers from "harassing calls from Hindle." But he wrote he had in his report.

This was just the beginning of Hindle's harrowing five-year journey to protect his daughter. Fuith has moved Emily dozens of times through several different states. She's filed over 100 false police reports. And Hindle has received death threats. Two police investigations in the UK and three in the U.S. cleared Hindle of all allegations. Fuith was found guilty of coaching Emily and making false allegations. Hindle was given court-ordered reunification with Emily.

Hindle said, "Emily met her elder brother (Max) and sister (Elizabeth) for the first time in almost 3 years…as we walked into the resort hotel, Emily asked me 'Is this my family ?' They enjoyed these visits, evidenced by these photographs, until Fuith made another false allegation and disappeared. Emily was then listed as missing and endangered.

Knowing all of this, Grieg didn't just harbor Fuith all these years. She interfered whenever Hindle needed a visa to attend custody hearings, arranged his improper arrest, imprisonment and deportation by the immigration department, and tried to set him up to be arrested for violence. She had officers hiding in bushes while her cronies harassed Hindle. And all the while, during her many lawless and reprehensible actions, she allowed Emily to go blind.

Fuith is still enjoying VAWA-funded legal representation. Recently there was a conference call between Fuith, Hindle, their attorneys and the State Department. During the call Fuith recanted every allegation she has made against Hindle. Even hearing this, the State Department refused to budge. The reason? The allegations the mother has made.

Sheila Fuith is clearly guilty, yet has not received any punishment. Karl Hindle is completely innocent, yet has not been able to see Emily or get custody. Now the State Department wants to send him back to London to apply for a new visa. Hindle said recently, "I've been here for 5 weeks, yet Emily and I have not seen each other. The judge will not enforce his orders, and the mother maintains visitation must take place in Panama City, 350 miles away. Emily and I last saw each other on May 28th, 2006!" Hindle is now on his way back to the UK without seeing Emily.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The disgusting Chicago police again

Chicago and police officers lose case and $7.7 million for false arrest.
Woman pulled cop from wrecked car in 2002, but police said she stole service weapon

A trained nurse, Rachelle Jackson immediately ran toward the sound of the crash. A Chicago police car had collided with another vehicle and was starting to smoke, two officers still inside. Fearing an explosion, she quickly pulled one officer from the passenger side.She never imagined her act of kindness nearly six years ago would land her in jail for more than 10 months on charges that she robbed, battered and disarmed a peace officer.

Jackson filed a lawsuit, and on Thursday a federal jury found against the city and several Chicago police officers, awarding Jackson $7.7 million for false arrest, malicious prosecution, coercive questioning and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

"I'm going to go home and lie down for a little bit," an ecstatic Jackson, 41, said after the verdict. "I feel relieved. I'm happy, and I'm thanking God."

The case began in November 2002, when a car ran a stop sign in Jackson's neighborhood, slamming into the squad car. Jackson was walking nearby and rushed to the scene. When she arrived, the officer behind the wheel was unconscious and the passenger, Officer Kelly Brogan, was dazed. She pulled Brogan from the wreckage and helped her to a nearby stoop. Soon after, police approached Jackson and told her that the driver's weapon had been stolen. When she was asked to go to the police station for questioning, she thought it was as a witness to the accident.

Instead, Jackson was accused of the theft. She was held for two days with little food and water and was threatened with violence until she agreed to sign a statement police had prepared for her. She was then charged and spent more than 10 months in the Cook County Jail awaiting trial. Her case was later thrown out by a Circuit Court judge. Jackson sued the city, Brogan and the two interrogation officers in 2003.

Defense attorney Andrew Hale said the amount the jury awarded Jackson was "excessive" and that he would file post-trial motions to have the amount reduced. He also questioned Jackson's intentions when she pulled the officer from the car. "The officer said [Jackson] came at her, tried to get her gun and put her in a full-Nelson hold," Hale said. "I'm disappointed the jury could think that would be a legitimate rescue technique."

But Jackson's attorneys said it was clear she was trying to help the officer, not harm her. "This was an innocent woman who saved a police officer from a burning car," said Chris Smith, who tried the case with Dan Alexander. "There were many heroes out there who helped the police, but they all turned into suspects because some guy ran away with the gun."

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

David Flores case: More prosecutor malfeasance

Concealment of evidence pollutes the whole prosecution case

A Polk County judge on Tuesday said he will likely push back the June 30 hearing of David Flores, a Des Moines man serving life in prison for a 1996 murder. Judge Don Nickerson said attorneys will need time to authenticate an FBI report that they believe was in the possession of police before Flores was convicted in 1997.

The judge urged family members to be careful about talking to the media, saying it could jeopardize Flores' attorney-client privilege. "You don't gain an advantage by trying to try this in the press," Nickerson said.

But family members said Tuesday they don't want to be quiet any longer. "David was convicted in the media," his mother, Diane Flores, said. Family members said there were more than 30 stories about David being the prime suspect in the murder of 42-year-old bank executive Phyllis Davis at the time.

Flores, who has always contended he was railroaded, asked for his life sentence to be reconsidered after learning that an FBI report pointing to another prime suspect was not given to his defense before his trial in 1997. Prosecutors now acknowledge that a key piece of evidence in the controversial gang-related murder was never disclosed to David Flores' defense lawyers. Court records show Des Moines police are admitting for the first time that they did have an FBI report identifying another suspect in the case when Flores was convicted of the shooting.

The revelation could result in Flores, now 31, being freed after 12 years behind bars. Attorneys will hold an emergency meeting this morning with Polk County Judge Don Nickerson to discuss what happens next in the case.

In recent weeks, Des Moines police and the Polk County attorney's office have resisted efforts by both Flores' attorney and The Des Moines Register to obtain police records related to that other suspect, Rafael Robinson. Late Friday, however, prosecutor Joe Weeg filed a court motion acknowledging that police did have an FBI report pointing to Robinson as a suspect in August 1996. "This could be a very big deal," said Bob Rigg, a defense attorney who teaches criminal law at Drake University. "How big hinges on how material the judge feels this information is."

The state has a legal obligation to turn over evidence that could assist in a criminal defendant defense. Weeg said in his court filing that there was "no evidence" prosecutors were given the FBI report or that they were aware it existed before Flores was convicted. "There was no attempt to hide, remove or destroy any of the attached documents," he wrote.

However, legal experts say, it matters little whether prosecutors had the report in their possession; the fact that the evidence was in the possession of police means it was in the hands of the state.

Flores faces a June 30 hearing at which Nickerson must decide whether the outcome of his trial would have been different if the defense had the FBI report and other new evidence. If so, Flores' conviction could be vacated and Polk County Attorney John Sarcone would be forced to decide whether he wants to risk retrying a controversial case he once conceded was "skinny."

"This filing may be an acknowledgment that they're saying 'we just need to roll over on this,' " said Brian Farrell, a Cedar Rapids attorney who specializes in such post-conviction cases. "That would be a dramatic development, but it's certainly possible."

A months-long investigation by the Register found at least three people who have independently come forward since Flores' appeals were exhausted in 2003 to say another man was likely responsible for Davis' death as a result of a gang-related fight.

More here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A victory for all Canadians

Police misbehavior gets its just desserts

Awakened before dawn by police officers who battered down the door to his home, Basil Parasiris said he acted in self-defence when he shot at a stranger at his bedroom door. A jury agreed yesterday, acquitting the Montreal-area businessman of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Constable Daniel Tessier, a father of two.

The verdict was the latest slap in this case for the Laval police. The trial had revealed that the force's search warrant relied on dubious evidence and didn't allow a night-time raid; that officers didn't properly check whether Mr. Parasiris owned guns; and that they fired by mistake into a child's bedroom. The jurors agreed with Mr. Parasiris's defence that he thought he was the victim of a home invasion.

Jurors weren't even told that the judge, Mr. Justice Guy Cournoyer of Quebec Superior Court, had invalidated the search warrant the officers were using. Mr. Parasiris was targeted in a police probe into cocaine trafficking. But Judge Cournoyer ruled that the police failed to prove he had drugs in his home and weren't justified in using force to enter.

The court was told that police didn't know Mr. Parasiris had a registered gun. The officers didn't check his name in the firearms registry, only the address. However, he had failed to report that he had moved.

About 5 a.m. on March 2, 2007, nine Laval officers used a battering ram to enter Mr. Parasiris's home in the Montreal suburb of Brossard. Constable Serge Lauzon, the first officer to enter the house, headed for the wrong bedroom, so it was Constable Tessier who went to the master bedroom. Awakened by the noise, Mr. Parasiris grabbed a Ruger .357 magnum revolver, one of three guns he kept in his closet. He testified that he fired after seeing "this big man all dressed in black and a white face" at the door. Three shots hit Constable Tessier, killing him. The last shot struck another constable in the arm.

Jurors heard that Constable Lauzon and Constable Fran├žois Leblanc mistakenly thought the shots had come from a door in front of them, so they fired 10 shots at the bedroom of Mr. Parasiris's 15-year-old son. While backing up, Constable Lauzon bumped into Detective-Sergeant Nathalie Allard as she fired at the master bedroom. One of her shots struck Constable Tessier as he lay dying; another wounded Mr. Parasiris' wife, Penny Gounis, in an arm.

There were also questions about Constable Tessier's appearance. He was dressed in black and the word "police" on his bulletproof vest was obscured by a flap, the jury was told. The Crown said the slain officer wore a baseball cap with a police logo on it. But the defence noted that the ambulance drivers didn't see that cap. Instead, a black tuque was found at the scene.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Thug Australian cop attacks schoolkids

Two schoolboys have made statements to police alleging they were assaulted by an off-duty officer they feared was trying to abduct one of them by dragging him into his car. The boys, aged 16 and 15, and a female friend, 14, told police they were walking home from a high school in Adelaide's western suburbs about 3.40pm on Tuesday when a car stopped and a man flashed a badge at them.

They said the car stopped and the man, who was wearing football shorts, got out and asked for identification. When one of the boys offered his wallet, they said it was thrown on the ground. Police confirmed the man, who allegedly grabbed the boys' school bags, was an off-duty police officer. The mother of one of the boys said that "at no time did he identify himself as a police officer, other than just the flash of what they thought was a badge when he pulled up".

One of the boys told The Advertiser he feared they were being robbed and pushed against the man to reach for his bag. "I thought he was trying to steal our stuff after he threw the wallet on the ground. . he put me in a headlock then pushed me on the ground and stomped on my hand," the boy said. I was trying to push him off and my friend was trying to push him off . . . Then he said he'd take us to the police station and get us locked up. Then (he) just said `F. . . it, I'll take you myself' and tried to drag me to his car."

A motorist parked in a van across the street yelled out when the officer dragged the boy towards the car, thinking he was witnessing an abduction. When the witness yelled, the boys say the man got back into his car and left. The witness came over and helped the bleeding teenager as one of the group wrote down the car's registration.

Forensic technicians were called to take photographs of the boy's injuries, which included cuts, a swollen hand and fingers, and a scalp injury from which hair was allegedly pulled out.

A police spokeswoman said the officer believed the boys had been damaging a street sign and he had gone to the school to find out who they were and later found and stopped them in the street. Police investigations were continuing and the witness from the van would be interviewed.

Original report here

Australia again: How soft on crime can a Leftist government get?

Convicted rapists, robbers, thugs go free

ALMOST 150 Queensland rapists, armed robbers and violent thugs convicted in the past year were never jailed. The shocking statistics were confirmed by Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Kerry Shine. In 2007-08, 18 rapists, 88 armed robbers and 39 people who committed brutal bashings avoided jail time despite their serious offences. "This highlights the soft approach the Beattie-Bligh Government has taken on crime," Liberal leader and Opposition justice spokesman Mark McArdle said. "The courts are not able to hand out sentences that are a real deterrent . . . what message is that sending out?"

Mr McArdle said the government figures also revealed that of 826 people convicted of rape, attempted rape, armed robbery, robbery and serious assault, not one received a maximum sentence. "Surely some must have warranted a maximum sentence," he said. "If you take 10 per cent, that is about 80 people. One per cent, about eight people. But in Queensland in the past year, not one person received the maximum sentence."

The release of the data followed the re-sentencing of nine males who avoided jail over the gang rape of a 10-year-old girl at a Cape York Aboriginal community. An appeal by Mr Shine resulted in the overturning of non-custodial sentences given to the three adults and six youths. The Court of Appeal jailed the three men for six years, while two of the youths got three years' detention.

Mr McArdle said the public would be stunned to discover that 18 rapists convicted this year were walking the streets. "It is bad enough having attempted rapists on our streets, but how do 18 people guilty of rape not go to jail? Society demands that rapists spend time behind bars." Mr McArdle said blame lay with the Government: "Courts cannot act outside the parameters set by Government. The Penalties and Sentences Act needs to be overhauled."

But Mr Shine said: "The task of sentencing offenders is the responsibility of judicial officers. As Attorney-General, if I believe a sentence imposed is manifestly inadequate, I can appeal that sentence."

Source. (Via Australian Politics)

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

What a way to get out of jail

Two young brothers whose disappearance prompted a nationwide alert in Greece died of starvation and dehydration when they became trapped in a broken elevator, authorities said yesterday. They were in an empty building near their home. A coroner said that Aihan Ceribasi, 6, and Amet, 8, had survived up to five days in the elevator before dying.

Authorities issued an alert for the pair after they disappeared in the north-eastern city of Orestiada on May 28. Police had also arrested and jailed their father, and a couple, on suspicion of having sold the boys, who were two of about 10 siblings.

Original report here

Australian appeals court finally jails black rapists of girl, 10

THE Queensland Court of Appeal ruled yesterday that the failure to send any of nine defendants to jail last year for raping a 10-year-old girl in Aurukun was a miscarriage of justice, and resentenced them. The three adult defendants - aged 17, 18 and 25 at the time of the offences - got six years' jail. One boy was sentenced to three years' detention, another to two years. The four others received the longest possible period of probation - three years - after they had demonstrated a desire to reform.

The five arrest warrants were deferred for a week while their lawyers considered whether to launch a High Court appeal. They released a statement criticising the "politicisation" of the case.

A short time later, the Queensland Attorney-General, Kerry Shine, released a review by the barrister Peter Davis, SC, of Cape York sex offence sentences. It found just one of serious concern, but it was considered too late to appeal. Three more were "marginal", one involving one of the Aurukun defendants, although this time he was the victim; the perpetrator was an older female relative aged 20 or 21.

Mr Davis cleared Judge Sarah Bradley of judicial misconduct and found no pattern of inadequate sentencing. He criticised submissions of the prosecutor, Steve Carter, at the trial. They were "at best confused and at worst misleading", and of virtually no assistance to the judge.

The Court of Appeal blamed both, saying: "The imposition of a proper sentence was ultimately the responsibility of the judge." The sentences did not reflect the crimes, nor the differences between offenders, it found. It noted the judge's heavy workload, but said she used "excessive haste" to get through the list. "We note that public concern about dealing with serious and complex sentences in such a summary way is longstanding," the court said. The acting Premier, Paul Lucas, said: "Justice was done today." A review is under way on improving justice in remote communities.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A belated victory over hostile Federal bureaucrats

Nev. rancher awarded $4.2M for 'taken' water right -- after his death

A judge awarded more than $4.2 million to a late Nevada rancher's estate after finding that the U.S. Forest Service engaged in an unconstitutional "taking" of water rights out of hostility to the rancher, a property rights activist. The decision by U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Loren A. Smith involved the Fifth Amendment clause against private property being taken for public use without just compensation.

The rancher, Wayne Hage, bought the sprawling Pine Creek Ranch in central Nevada in 1978. In the early 1980s, the Forest Service began to notify him he was in violation of his federal grazing permit. In 1983, the Forest Service sent him 40 letters and agency officials made 70 visits to his ranch.

Smith, based in Washington D.C., said the cancellation of Hage's grazing permit because of overgrazing and trespassing did not violate the Fifth Amendment because a grazing permit is a license, not property. However, Smith said, the taking occurred when the Forest Service made it impossible for Hage to maintain irrigation ditches, which deprived the ranch of water and made it unviable. The government demanded that he maintain the ditches using nothing more than hand tools. As willows, pinion, juniper and other vegetation grew unchecked in the irrigation ditches, Hage had argued that his ranch lost water. "The court finds the government's actions had a severe economic impact on plaintiffs and the governments' actions rose to the level of a taking," Smith wrote.

Hage first filed a claim seeking $28 million in 1991. In an interview in 2004, two years before his death, he told The Associated Press his case could dramatically impact states' rights and federal lands in the West. "It's the first time in nearly a century that someone has effectively challenged the government over who owns the range rights and water rights out here on these federal lands," he told The Associated Press.

The judge noted that hand tools would not be effective over such vast expanse of land. The ditches brought water to the 7,000-acre ranch as well as the 700,000 acres of national forest land where Hage grazed his cattle. Hage "offered ample evidence that the Forest Service had engaged in harassment toward (him), enough to suggest that the implementation of the hand tools requirement was based solely on hostility to plaintiffs," Smith said.

Hage was one of the leaders of the so-called "Sagebrush Rebellion" during the 1980s, a movement among Western landowners who believed the federal government had no jurisdiction over their property because the ranches predate the federal agencies that sought to regulate them.

The judge also ordered the government to pay back interest to Hage's family. A lawyer estimated the interest dating to 1991 would be an additional $4.4 million. "It sends a pretty important message to the government that if you screw with a small ranching family and put them out of business, you have to pay big bucks," said Lyman "Ladd" Bedford, a San Francisco-based lawyer who argued the case since its beginning.

Ed Monnig, supervisor of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, said Tuesday there had been no decision made yet on whether to appeal. "We're aware of Friday's court decision and our agency is now considering the implications of this ruling and carefully weighing options," Monnig said. The Pine Creek Ranch is owned now by Hage's children. Calls to them were not returned.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Australia: Thug cops lose one

A man who challenged the right of police to remain in his home - only to be sprayed with capsicum spray, handcuffed and locked in a cell wearing only boxer shorts - has won his case in the High Court. Sydney man Murat Kuru sued police after six officers they came to his flat in 2001, alerted to a noisy argument between him and his then fiancee (now wife). By the time they arrived, she had left, but Mr Kuru let them look around, talked to them, and gave them the phone number of her sister, with whom she had left.

After repeated requests that they leave, the officers refused. Eventually, a violent scuffle broke out - who caused it was a matter of dispute - and Mr Kuru was punched, handcuffed and sprayed with capsicum spay. He fell down the stairs, twice, and was locked in a cell for hours with nothing to wear but his boxer shorts.

In the District Court, he won an action for trespass and false imprisonment, claiming police had no right to stay once he asked them to leave. He won, and was awarded $418,265 in damages. The Court of Appeal overturned that, finding police were not trespassing when they were first called, and were justified in staying on the property to investigate domestic violence.

Today, the High Court allowed Mr Kuru's appeal, by a four-to-one majority. By the time Mr Kuru asked them to leave, police had already inspected the flat, and didn't need to stay to speak to the fiancee. The majority found there was no authority for police to remain on the property, and they could have sought a warrant if they felt they needed to. The law forgave trespassing in emergencies, but the court said there was no emergency and no ongoing breach of the peace when Mr Kuru asked them to leave, so police were trespassing on his property, and committed trespass to the person during the scuffle. The case will now return to the Court of Appeal to assess damages.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Free speech on trial in British Columbia

Of course, free speech is an "American concept," of no value to Canadian bureaucrats -- or so says Dean Steacy, the principal "anti-hate" investigator of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Strictly speaking, the body judging the case against eternal pot-stirrer Mark Steyn and Maclean's magazine, a newsweekly, is the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, not its federal counterpart, but it's still one of the myriad bodies dedicated to policing thought crimes in a country that, several decades ago, apparently redesigned much of its legal system along the lines of a UC-Berkeley graduate seminar.

Steyn and Maclean's are on trial for publishing an excerpt from Steyn's book, America Alone, which warns of the supposed dangers posed by the Muslim hordes to Western civilization. The case against them alleges that they exposed Muslims to hate with their words -- a charge that, even if true, wouldn't seem to have much basis in the legal traditions of a liberal, democratic country. The Washington Times chimes in on the case with an interesting roundup here:
Numerous Canadians and Americans following the hearing denounced the case as absurd and that it is a threat to free speech that a provincial tribunal is asserting jurisdiction over the writings of a best-selling author residing in New Hampshire, based upon an out-of-province complainant offended by the response of anonymous American readers on American Web sites.

With proceedings in the case concluded and a judgment pending, the Vancouver Sun's Ian Mulgrew voices a few hopes for the ultimate conclusion:
I can't wait to read the judgment. If there is justice, the three adjudicators will uphold Habib's complaint and Maclean's can seek judicial review. Then a real judge will have a chance to set the record straight and excoriate this abusive, unconstitutional process. As for Attorney-General Oppal, he should either disband the tribunal or immediately amend the law to accord with the Constitution and common sense.

Honestly, while this case is doing nothing good for the reputation of Canada's civil liberties protections, it's just about the best publicity Maclean's and Mark Steyn could ever hope for. Nothing boosts journalistic credentials like being the target of power-mad censors. Especially when those power-mad censors openly muse that respect for free speech is some sort of foreign affectation.

More: The lowdown on the Alberta Human Rights Commission's jihad against former newspaper publisher Ezra Levant here. And that same body's lifetime gag order against homophobic pastor Stephen Boissoin here and here.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

US accuses widow of slain Canadian

Sounds like the FBI were the good guys in this and Puerto Rican authorities just wanted a conviction

The wife of a slain Canadian executive has been charged with having him killed, federal officials said Friday — a stunning turnabout that could lead to freedom for a man prosecutors say was apparently wrongfully sentenced to 105 years in prison. A U.S. grand jury this week charged Aurea Vazquez Rijos with offering a man US$3 million to kill real estate developer Adam Anhang, a Winnipeg native who moved to Puerto Rico a year before the 2005 attack. The FBI said it is hunting for Vazquez. "We felt that she was involved from the beginning," said the victim's father, Abe Anhang. "This confirms it. We hope they will arrest her and bring her to justice."

Prosecutor Rosa Emilia Rodriguez said Friday that FBI investigators determined the man convicted of the crime in October, Jonathan Roman Rivera, was innocent — and they arrested another man, Alex Pabon Colon, on charges of killing Anhang.

Rodriguez said the two men could easily have been mistaken for one another. "Throughout this investigation we have been concerned that a miscarriage of justice occurred through the wrongful conviction of Jonathan Roman," Rodriguez said.

The Puerto Rican Justice Department will ask a court to release Roman on bond while it reinvestigates the slaying in light of the new evidence, said Jose Delgado Rodriguez, the island's assistant attorney general.

Anhang, 32, had developed beach-front condominiums and hotels in the U.S. Caribbean territory and also was chief executive officer of an online gambling company based in Costa Rica. He was beaten and stabbed to death on Sept. 23, 2005, as he and his wife were walking from a restaurant in Old San Juan where they discussed their pending divorce.

Wednesday's grand jury indictment charges Vazquez and Pabon with conspiracy and use of an interstate facility, namely the telephone, in a murder-for-hire conspiracy. Each faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. According to the indictment, Vazquez offered Pabon money and lured Anhang to the tourist district the night of his death. The indictment said two other unidentified people were involved in the plot.

After Anhang's death, Vazquez refused to cooperate with investigators and filed a civil suit against her late husband's family, seeking a portion of his estate. An attorney for Vazquez in San Juan did not immediately respond to a phone message Friday. Luis Fraticelli, the special agent in charge of the FBI in Puerto Rico, said Vazquez is known to be living outside U.S. territory and his agency is trying to locate and arrest her. He also said he expects more arrests: "We know that there are others involved."

Fraticelli said the FBI investigation began after Abe Anhang approached him with concerns that the local investigation was too narrowly focused, starting as an insurance fraud probe. Roman's attorney, Jose Troche, said his client has always insisted he had no role in the killing. "Nobody ever listened. This is the worst investigated case I have ever seen," he said.

Homicide detectives in San Juan said they had clues Pabon was involved, but dropped that angle due to lack of resources once their investigation latched on to Roman, according to Fraticelli. Fraticelli said the federal investigation intensified once Roman was convicted because authorities worried the wrong person was in prison.

Abe Anhang said he hopes Roman is released if he is proved innocent and he does not fault local investigators. "The FBI's resources and reach are much greater than the local authorities," he said. The local assistant attorney general, Rodriguez, said the department will study whether changes are needed to "boost confidence in the Puerto Rican criminal justice system."

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Flight log clears convicted Australian pilot

A PILOT convicted of child sex tourism was 1000km away on the night he was accused of raping a 14-year-old girl, certified civil aviation records show. New evidence seen by The Courier-Mail has emerged 18 months after Australian Frederick Arthur Martens was convicted of having sex with a 14-year-old girl in Port Moresby in 2001, raising a string of questions about the Australian Federal Police investigation. A second charge against Martens for child sex tourism was thrown out of Cairns Supreme Court earlier this year after the complainant admitted she had made up the allegations.

The AFP confirmed it had launched an internal investigation but refused to comment further. Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter said it was "outrageous" Martens was sitting in jail with an "absolute record that he's in an aeroplane on the other side of New Guinea when this was supposed to have taken place". "You know this was not a fair trial, not even remotely," Mr Katter said.

Martens has claimed in a last-ditch appeal to clear his name that Australian and Papua New Guinean police ran a corrupt investigation. Martens made the allegations through his lawyers who sent Federal Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus a 672A application, seeking a pardon and/or a referral back to the appeals court. Mr Katter said he'd had "enormous difficulty" approaching Mr Debus over the matter. A spokeswoman for Mr Debus would only confirm the application had been received.

Martens was convicted of child sex tourism after a jury trial in 2006, and sentenced to five-and-a-half-years' jail with a non-parole period of three years. He later lost an appeal. However Martens has been a prolific letter-writer from jail, insisting on his innocence to the AFP, Federal Government ministers and Mr Katter.

His wife, Rose, and brother Peter Wheatley have spent thousands of dollars locating evidence in Australia and PNG which was missed in the original investigation. Mr Wheatley said certified Papua New Guinean Civil Aviation Authority documents matched Martens' pilot's logbook and flight plans, placing him in the isolated western provinces of PNG on the night he allegedly had sex with the girl in the capital, Port Moresby.

None of the documents were evidence in Martens' trial. "Fred's innocence boils down to these few paper documents," Mr Wheatley said. Mr Wheatley has also secured signed affidavits from key witnesses alleging a conspiracy.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

Monday, June 09, 2008

Canada: No investigation of wrongful conviction

The recent reversal of an 18-year-old conviction of a man in the killing his missing girlfriend will not be reviewed, the Ontario attorney general said Friday.

Robert Baltovich spent nine years in prison for killing Elizabeth Bain, whose body has never been found. His second trial ended in a speedy acquittal when prosecutors dropped the charges immediately after it opened. Attorney General Chris Bentley said he plans to focus on improving the criminal justice system in the province to prevent future miscarriages of justice, the Toronto Globe and Mail reported. He said he does not believe another examination of the case will provide more information on what went wrong.

Others disagree. "Obviously, things went awfully wrong for 18 years," said James Lockyer, Baltovich's lawyer. "An innocent man was prosecuted. The police made a complete mess of the case. The Crown's office made a complete mess of the case."

Original report here


Robert Baltovich (born July 17, 1965) is a Canadian man who was wrongly convicted in 1992 of the murder of his girlfriend, Elizabeth Bain in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada. He spent eight years in prison and nearly another decade trying to clear his name, before being found not guilty in a retrial on April 22, 2008.

In 1990 Baltovich graduated with a degree in psychology and history from the University of Toronto at Scarborough. Here he also met and developed a relationship with Elizabeth Bain, a fellow student. Bain disappeared on June 19, 1990, telling her mother she was going to "check the tennis schedule" on campus. On June 22, her car was found with a large bloodstain in the back seat. Her body was never found.

On November 19, 1990, Baltovich was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. His case continued in the courts for several years, during which he consistently maintained his innocence. His lawyers suggested that the so-called "Scarborough rapist", the name by which the infamous Canadian serial killer Paul Bernardo was then known, might be responsible for the murder.

On March 31, 1992, he was convicted of second-degree murder. His lawyers appealed and on March 31, 2000, Baltovich was released on bail, pending the outcome of his appeal. In September 2004 his appeal was finally processed and his case gained national attention again when his lawyers alleged that he had been wrongfully convicted and that Bernardo was guilty of Bain's murder. They allege that circumstantial evidence suggests links to Bernardo, and that this evidence could not have been available during Baltovich's original trial as the identity of the Scarborough rapist was then unknown.

On December 2, 2004, the Ontario Court of Appeal set aside the conviction, delivering what news reports called "a scathing attack" [1] on the conduct of the original trial judge. This fell short of the acquittal that Baltovich's counsel had argued for. On July 15, 2005, Ontario's Ministry of the Attorney-General announced that Baltovich would face a new trial on charges of second-degree murder, at an unspecified date, and remain free on bail in the meantime. During that time, Baltovich worked as a librarian for the Government of Ontario.

On March 31, 2008, jury selection began in the second-degree murder trial. The trial, slated to begin in Toronto on April 14, 2008, was delayed, with the Crown (prosecution) giving no reason. When the trial resumed, the Crown declined to call any of the more than 50 witnesses they had planned, citing "recent developments, including the cumulative effect of the pre-trial evidentiary rulings rendered to date in this case, other evidentiary issues, and changes to case law".[2] With no Crown case, the judge directed the jury to make a finding of not guilty on April 22, 2008.[3]

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)