Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Forensic science questioned

RETIRED physics professor Rod Cross had been seen as the man whose "physics convicted a killer". He even wrote a book about his role in the Gordon Wood case.

But Mr Wood's successful appeal and acquittal over the 1995 death of his girlfriend Caroline Byrne last week has left Professor Cross's legacy in tatters.

The associate professor was heavily criticised by the Court of Criminal Appeal for a lack of impartiality, questionable expertise and the nature of his experiments designed to calculate how far a woman could be thrown or jump head first.

Yesterday, he contacted the Herald to defend his work and his reputation. In a strongly-worded 19 page document, he accuses three of the state's most senior and experienced judges of "misrepresentation", "many factual errors" and "deep ignorance" about science.

He says the judges misunderstood the science and suggests that because of their lack of scientific knowledge they should not be judging his evidence. "[There is] a fundamental flaw in the legal system as I see it. The flaw involves the double standard whereby judges can pass judgment on matters outside their area of expertise, whereas experts are not permitted to comment on matters outside their area of expertise."

Professor Cross says he is insulted that the judges said he "took upon himself the role of investigator and became an active participant". He insists he had no vested interest and his results were supported by scientific evidence.

"To suggest otherwise is to ignore and denigrate the work of scientists in general and me in particular. It effectively casts doubt on the work of all physicists of all universities. That is a preposterous suggestion."

He also rejects criticism of his experiments as "unsophisticated", arguing the calculations were simple and did not require sophistication.

He addresses in detail such points as the importance of whether the women being thrown in his experiment were conscious, the so-called launch and landing points, and the length of the available run-up.

Professor Cross has given copies of his document, addressing about 50 criticisms of him or his work, to police and the DPP. "All they can do is read it and despair," he says.

The criticism of his evidence in the Wood trial has been the latest of court decisions critical of so-called "expert evidence".

A UNSW law professor Gary Edmond, who has researched the use of expert evidence in courts, has warned in a recent paper that "Australian courts have allowed unreliable expert opinions and incriminating expert opinions of unknown reliability to contaminate criminal prosecution".

Judges might be aided by advisory panels which help with the assessment of scientific evidence, he said.

Gordon Wood's solicitor Michael Bowe said yesterday he believed the defence biomechanics expert had been "an exceptional witness". "I can't say the same about Professor Cross," Mr Bowe said.

Original report here

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The risks of jury trials

An Australian crime reporter comments on a recent trial where a jury verdict of "Guilty" was overturned by a court of appeal. I am inclined to think the jury got it right but did not get it right beyond reasonable doubt

Winston Churchill, in one of his many famous proclamations, said, "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except all the others that have been tried." So might it be said of juries: that they are the best way to resolve an issue, at least in criminal law, where it is presumed one of the parties is lying.

But Gordon Wood's acquittal last week on appeal has once again raised the question of whether there might be a better system. There are certainly others available, as in Europe's inquisitorial courts.

Wood might well have been at The Gap on that night in June 1995, and there might have been evidence that his girlfriend Caroline Byrne was thrown from the cliff top. But how could such a gross accusation - of a beastly and violent act - be alleged against Wood when there were no eyewitnesses, no clearly established motive and nothing in his life that suggested he had such evil in him?

The Court of Criminal Appeal took several months to reach its finding and it left no stone unturned. But the comments from the bench during the hearing indicated that in their view it was an outrageous verdict. If ever there was a case of reasonable doubt, this was it. And if Appeal Court judge Peter McClellan and his two colleagues had been hearing the trial rather than the appeal then surely Wood would not have spent three years rotting in prison.

There was criticism of the senior Crown prosecutor, Mark Tedeschi, QC, but perhaps the worst that can be said of him is that he was too good at his job. Just as Ian Barker, QC, the prosecutor who had Lindy Chamberlain convicted, was brilliant at his job. It has been argued that, had Barker had the defence, the Chamberlains might have been acquitted - though in the Chamberlain case, as in the Wood case, the defence counsel was no slouch.

One school of thought says a prosecutor should be there only to ensure the evidence is properly presented, and to leave the rhetoric and tactical decisions to the defence. In the celebrated trial of Patty Hearst in 1976 for bank robbery, for example, the flamboyant defence lawyer F. Lee Bailey was pitched against prosecutor James Browning, who just plugged on methodically and Hearst was convicted. But prosecutors usually go on the attack. Their job is to prove a case, and to defeat tactics by the accused to obfuscate, evade and dissemble. Smart crooks should not beat the system.

Juries are a lottery. There is no saying whether a particular 12 heads, selected randomly from the community, represent commonsense. The one safeguard is that counsel are able to challenge empanelling a limited number of jurors - three per side in NSW - but that is a very uncertain means of weeding out unsuitable individuals.

There is no guarantee of how the jury will turn out. A juror in the 1991 perjury trial of the former Queensland premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen turned out to be a member of the Young Nationals, identified with "Friends of Joh". He became foreman and was held largely responsible for a not-guilty verdict that flew in the face of the evidence.

The idiosyncrasies of individual jurors caused two murder trials, of Phuong Ngo for the murder of John Newman and Bruce Burrell for the murder of Kerry Whelan, to produce hung juries - when in both cases the evidence was always strong enough for a finding of guilty beyond reasonable doubt. In Burrell's case, one juror was replaced as foreman by fellow jurors in the retrial because of his increasingly erratic views and looked like he might produce a hung jury. Eventually he did not. But the law had to be changed to allow a jury verdict in a major criminal trial where there is one dissenter.

Original report here

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Why Do Innocent People Confess?

SEVERAL months after Antonio Ramirez was shot seven times in Oakland, Calif., the police picked up a frightened 16-year-old named Felix, isolated him in an interrogation room late at night without a lawyer, rejected his pleas to see his mother, and harangued him until he began to tell them what he thought they wanted to hear.

They wanted a diagram of the crime scene, he later told his court-appointed lawyer, Richard Foxall, but whatever he drew was so inaccurate that the police never produced it. When he described escaping in one direction after the killing, they corrected him, because they knew from witnesses that the shooter had gone the opposite way. When he didn’t mention an alley nearby, they told him about it, and he incorporated it into his statement. “Now we’re getting somewhere,” said one officer, as Felix recalled to his lawyer.

So, they demanded, where was the gun? Felix denied having a gun. “That’s when they really got out of control and started yelling at him,” Mr. Foxall said. “He started to feel personally threatened.” Slyly, he made up something demonstrably untrue: that he had left the gun with his grandfather. “I thought this was brilliant,” his lawyer said, because it discredited the tale. “He doesn’t have a grandfather. Both grandfathers are dead.”

Once the police had badgered a rough murder confession from Felix, they taped it. Yet the confession lacked a critical detail — one that officers neglected to feed to him. Felix learned it three days later in court when he was handed the charge sheet and saw the date of the crime. He stared at the document and realized that he had the perfect alibi: On the day that Antonio Ramirez was gunned down, Felix had been locked up in a juvenile detention facility for violating probation in a case of theft.

The murder charge was dropped, of course, and Mr. Foxall was greatly relieved. “I would have hated to have had to try the case,” he said. “It would have been very scary. Juries don’t want to believe that somebody will confess to a crime he didn’t commit.” Judges don’t want to believe this either. In fact, according to Mr. Foxall, the juvenile commissioner in Felix’s case said, “Well, I don’t understand — why would he confess?”

If you have never been tortured, or locked up and verbally threatened, you may find it hard to believe that anyone would confess to something he had not done. Intuition holds that the innocent do not make false confessions. What on earth could be the motive? To stop the abuse? To curry favor with the interrogator? To follow some fragile thread of imaginary hope that cooperation will bring freedom?

Yes, all of the above. Psychological studies of confessions that have proved false show an overrepresentation of children, the mentally ill and mentally retarded, and suspects who are drunk or high. They are susceptible to suggestion, eager to please authority figures, disconnected from reality or unable to defer gratification. Children often think, as Felix did, that they will be jailed if they keep up their denials and will get to go home if they go along with interrogators. Mature adults of normal intelligence have also confessed falsely after being manipulated.

False confessions have figured in 24 percent of the approximately 289 convictions reversed by DNA evidence, according to the Innocence Project. Considering that DNA is available in just a fraction of all crimes, a much larger universe of erroneous convictions — and false confessions — surely exists.

Officers are taught to use all the tricks and lies that courts permit within the scope of the Fifth Amendment’s shield against self-incrimination. John E. Reid & Associates, which has trained thousands of interrogators, suggests that a suspect be induced to waive his constitutional rights to silence and counsel by giving him the famous Miranda warning “casually” and not immediately after arrest, when he is “defensive and guarded” and “more likely to invoke his rights.” When a skilled questioner splices it nonchalantly into conversation, the warning’s empowering message of choice can be lost on a suspect. Many false confessors have been routinely Mirandized in this perfunctory manner.

To get people talking, the Reid training also recommends questions that imply leniency without making explicit promises, and that reduce moral responsibility by blaming peer pressure: “Was this your idea or did your buddies talk you into it?” Interrogators are advised to pretend to have evidence but not to fabricate it. A suspect can be shown a card bearing a latent fingerprint and be told: “This is your fingerprint. We found it inside that stolen car.” That’s been allowed by courts if the police officer puts his or her own print on the card but not if the officer fakes it with the suspect’s print. Admissions produced by these tactics may be true or untrue.

A cunning lie generated a false confession from Martin Tankleff, 17, who found his parents one morning in their Long Island home slashed and stabbed, his mother dead, his father barely alive. The boy called 911 and was taken for questioning. Getting nowhere, Detective K. James McCready decided on a trick. He walked to an adjacent room within hearing distance, dialed an extension on the next desk, picked up the phone and faked a conversation with an imaginary officer at the hospital. He went back to the son and told him that his father had come out of his coma and said, “Marty, you did it.” In fact, Seymour Tankleff never regained consciousness and died a month later.

In experiments and in interrogation rooms, adults who are told convincing fictions have become susceptible to memories of things that never happened. Rejecting their own recollections through what psychologists call “memory distrust syndrome,” they are tricked by phony evidence into accepting their own fabrications of guilt — an “internalized false confession.”

That is what happened to a shaken Martin Tankleff, and although he quickly recanted, as if coming out of a spell, he was convicted and drew 50 years to life. He spent 17 years in prison before winning an appeal based on new evidence that pointed to three ex-convicts. But they have never been tried. Whoever killed the Tankleffs remains at large.

There are possible remedies. After Felix’s false confession, the Oakland Police Department began video recording “as soon as a homicide suspect enters the interview room, as opposed to only taping a portion of the interview,” said Sgt. Chris Bolton, the police chief of staff. Some lawyers worry nonetheless that judges won’t watch hours of subtle coercion, and that jurors will still find the taped confession decisive.

The police could be prohibited from lying about nonexistent evidence; from inducing a suspect to imagine leniency; from questioning minors without a parent or a lawyer present. They could be required to corroborate a confession with stringent evidence.

Finally, post-conviction challenges of confessions could be assigned to judges and prosecutors other than those who tried the original cases. The natural unwillingness to admit a grave error should not have to be overcome for justice to be done.

Original report here

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Disputed compensation in controversial New Zealand case

As you can read here there were lots of irregularities in the original prosecution but New Zealand courts covered up for their colleagues by rejecting all appeals. It was only when Bain got his case into a British court that the holes in the case were acknowledged. Appeals to British courts from New Zealand were subsequently abolished!

In another noted New Zealand case, an Australian judge found that he had been confronted by "an orchestrated litany of lies" from New Zealand authorities. New Zealand is a small country where people stick by one-another -- even if they are in the wrong. The loss of an outside avenue of appeal is therefore a sad loss for ordinary New Zealanders -- but good for the New Zealand establishment

The appointment of a Canadian judge to assess compensation is an implicit confession of how corrupt the New Zealand judiciary is seen to be

A juror from the second trial of David Bain wrote to the justice minister urging him not to pay compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment.

Mr Bain, 39, was acquitted in 2009 by a Christchurch jury of charges he murdered his parents Margaret, 50, and Robin, 58, and three siblings Arawa, 19, Laniet, 18, and Stephen, 14, in June 1994 in Dunedin.

The juror wrote to then justice minister Simon Power in April 2010 raising, among other things, misgivings about the conduct of the jury during the trial.

The Dominion Post cannot report much of the the letter because the law prevents the publication of material revealing the deliberations of a jury.The Bain juror also expressed concerns about the jury not having access to evidence that was suppressed until the verdict was reached and then released after the trial.

In the letter, the juror reveals three other jurors, of their own volition, visited Every St, where the murders took place, during the trial.

Jurors must reach their verdict only on evidence heard or seen in court. They must not make their own investigations during the trial.

In closing, the juror says: "Given the extraordinary length of this trial, the overwhelming media and public interest in the case, the complicated technical evidence, upsetting photos and exhibits, and the conflicting evidence of the experts, this trial certainly took an emotional toll on all of us." The jurors were offered counselling during and after the trial.

The Justice Ministry has appointed retired Canadian Supreme Court judge Ian Binnie to provide the Government with a recommendation on whether Mr Bain has shown on the balance of probabilities that he is innocent.

The ministry's acting chief legal counsel, Melanie Webb, said the assessment of whether someone should be paid compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment was a separate matter from the decision of a jury in a criminal case.

"This is why the letter in question has not been given to Justice Binnie at this stage. It is now Justice Binnie's role to advise on the basis of the available evidence whether David Bain is, at a minimum, innocent on the balance of probabilities and whether extraordinary circumstances

Original report here

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Australia: Victoria police sure have got their priorities right

Man claims he was fined $200 for emptying water bottle

A MAN claiming he was fined more than $200 for pouring half a bottle of water on the street says he will fight the penalty.

Truckie Michael Hagen, from Berwick, says he had no idea he was doing anything wrong when he emptied the bottle while pulling up at a Melbourne CBD intersection on Wednesday afternoon.

But moments later Mr Hagen was pulled over and handed an infringement notice for littering.

"I still to this day don't know if what I did was breaking the law. "I didn't even know what I was doing was wrong. It didn't even enter my mind actually," Mr Hagen said.

He said he stopped at the Clarendon St intersection when he poured the bottle's warm contents from the driver's side of the car onto the bitumen before driving off.

He was then pulled over near Crown Casino for what he thought he was a routine check. "I thought they were going to give me a breathalyser or a general check, but they gave me an infringement notice for littering," Mr Hagen said.

"They said: 'You poured a liquid substance out of the window.' I said: 'It's water.' They said: 'How do we know it's water? It could be anything'."

He said it was over-the-top policing and he planned to fight the fine in court. "I was a little bit animated. I wasn't very happy, especially when they gave me a ticket. I wasn't impressed. "They should be paying attention to people jaywalking across the road, that's my concern," Mr Hagen said.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said they were tracking details of the offence yesterday and wouldn't comment.

Original report here. (Via Australian police news)

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Canadian cops slow to act against one of their own

For what is believed to be the first time in the history of the force, a Toronto Police Service officer has been charged with murder in an on-the-job incident.

Const. David Cavanagh, who already was facing a manslaughter charge in the Sept. 29 shooting, on Thursday saw the charge upgraded to second-degree murder in Ontario Superior Court.

The decision would have been made jointly by Crown prosecutors and investigators with Ontario's police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit.

Eric Osawe, 26, died when police were executing a search warrant at his apartment in Etobicoke, west of Toronto.

Osawe sustained a fatal gunshot wound following what the SIU described at the time as an "interaction" with police.

While details of the brief proceeding before Judge Ian Nordheimer remain under a standard publication ban, both Julian Falconer, lawyer for Osawe's family, and Toronto Police Association boss Mike McCormack spoke to reporters outside court.

"We're OK with the process," McCormack said Thursday, adding the upgraded charge "suggests there was intent there," which he described as "over the top."

Most troubling, he said, was that "the Crown has had the case for two years, and as far as I know, there's no new evidence and nothing's changed."

McCormack said the case was tragic by any measure, especially for Osawe's family but also for the constable, who is 35, and other officers who, in the course of executing similar warrants, also may be kicking in doors and making arrests.

"We don't want to see our officers hesitating when we have to make split-second decisions," McCormack told reporters.

For Osawe's family, however, the upgraded charge came as a relief, Falconer said, and means "the tough questions are going to get asked."

Osawe's younger brother, Ebony Osawe, 23 at the time, was arrested at the scene and charged with a variety of firearms offences.

Cavanagh landed in the public spotlight during the trial of Jorrell Simpson-Rowe, who ultimately was convicted of second-degree murder in Jane Creba's high-profile slaying on Boxing Day, 2005. Cavanagh was one of four officers who staged a gunpoint takedown of two suspects who fled the Yonge Street gun battle that killed Creba.

Original report here

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Federal lawsuit against SF in wrongful conviction

A man who spent 18 years behind bars after being wrongfully convicted of double murder has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city, saying police built a case against him through perjured testimony.

Caramad Conley, 41, was released from custody last year after a judge ruled that San Francisco police and prosecutors had failed to reveal to Conley's defense team before his 1994 trial that the city had paid thousands of dollars and provided the use of a house to the star prosecution witness, police informant Clifford Polk.

Conley was sentenced to two life terms without parole. He had been housed until his release from San Francisco County Jail at Calipatria State Prison in Imperial County.

"In addition to stealing 18 years of Caramad Conley's life, and consigning him to spend his youth and early adulthood in physical confinement in a prison cell with no legal justification, the sort of flagrant and deliberate misconduct at issue in this case threatens the legitimacy of the American system of justice," said Conley's suit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

In December 2010, Judge Marla Miller of San Francisco Superior Court cited what she called "voluminous evidence" that Polk, who is now dead, had lied on the stand when he said he was not in a city witness protection program and therefore receiving benefits.

Polk, an unemployed transient with a history of drug dealing, testified that Conley had confessed to him about the April 1989 drive-by shooting on Third Street that killed Roshawn Johnson and Charles Hughes and injured 13 others.

Miller also found that then-homicide investigator Earl Sanders, who would later become police chief, had stood by in court while Polk lied. "I find that Sanders knew the testimony was false and did not correct it," Miller wrote.

In his suit, Conley said police "unconstitutionally and maliciously sent him to prison for a crime he did not commit" by "willfully suppressing a mountain of exculpatory evidence showing that the linchpin witness against him, Clifford Polk, had been paid thousands of dollars and received other benefits in exchange for his testimony."

The 97-page suit, which seeks unspecified damages, names the city of San Francisco and Sanders as defendants. They have not responded to the suit in court.

San Francisco prosecutors said last year that they would not retry the case, based on a decision by District Attorney George Gascón.

The case bore strong similarities to court findings that led to the release of Antoine Goff and John Tennison in another botched San Francisco murder case that resulted in a record civil settlement in 2009 of $7.5 million for the defendants. They were both freed in 2003 after spending more than 10 years in prison.

In that case, the courts found that prosecutors and police had information that another person might have committed the crime but did not disclose it during the trial. Both cases involved the same investigators, the late Napoleon Hendrix and Sanders, who retired in 2003.

Original report here

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Australia: Thug Cop loses appeal against finding that he used excessive force in arrest of boy, 15

A FORMER police officer has lost an appeal against a finding he used unauthorised and unjustified excessive force in the arrest of a 15-year-old boy almost five years ago.

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal has dismissed an appeal by former police sergeant Damien Chapman to overturn a tribunal finding that he used excessive force while arresting the teen at Clontarf, north of Brisbane, on May 18, 2007.

Chapman was initially cleared after an internal Queensland Police Service investigation by then QPS deputy commissioner Kathy Rynders. [Dear Kathy again]

However, that resulted in the matter being referred to QCAT by Queensland's criminal watchdog the Crime and Misconduct Commission. The CMC asked QCAT to review commissioner Rynders' findings and last November the tribunal overturned her decision and found that Chapman had used excessive force.

The 15-year-old, who was not responsible for the offence for which he was arrested, suffered a severely ruptured spleen, which doctors found was the result of blunt force to the area underneath his ribs.

At the original QCAT hearing, Chapman's defence argued the medical report was too inconclusive to say without doubt how the injury occurred. QCAT members James Thomas and Susan Booth disagreed, saying they were satisfied Chapman struck the boy without "authorisation, justification or excuse by law".

They were also critical of the internal police investigation, which they likened to "a relic of earlier armed service orderly room procedure".

QCAT president Alan Wilson, in a just-published 10-page decision, rejected Chapman's appeal, saying it "must be dismissed".

Justice Wilson, presiding in the tribunal's appeals jurisdiction, said the original finding was proper in all of the circumstances.

He said Chapman's appeal had focused on "numerous questions of law", but mainly argued the tribunal's decision was "contrary to, and against, the weight of evidence". "None of (Chapman's) grounds of appeal are made out," he said.

Chapman resigned in the wake of the QCAT ruling. Justice Wilson said during a follow-up hearing the tribunal found it would have ordered he be dismissed had he not already resigned.

Original report here. (Via Australian police news)

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Appeals Court Reverses Conviction of Ex-Goldman Programmer

Just possessing a copy of some computer code is not an offense

A former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. computer programmer's conviction on charges he stole the confidential source code of the investment bank's high-speed trading system should be reversed and he should be acquitted, a federal appeals court has ruled.

Federal prosecutors had alleged that Sergey Aleynikov, 42 years old, secretly copied Goldman's source code in his last days at the investment bank and intended to use it to build a similar trading platform at his new employer.

He was sentenced to more than eight years in prison in March 2011 after he was convicted of theft of trade secrets and transportation of stolen property.

In a one-page order late Thursday, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals said Mr. Aleynikov's conviction should be reversed and he should be acquitted, but didn't explain its reasoning. The appeals court is expected to issue an opinion at a later date.

High-speed-trading firms and other financial firms aggressively protect their code, considering it a trade secret and a competitive advantage. Goldman required employees to sign a confidentiality agreement as part of their employment and that any software created by them in their jobs were the property of the investment bank.

On Friday, prosecutors asked that they be given time to seek a rehearing by the three-judge panel that originally heard arguments in the case or a review by the full Second Circuit.

Separately, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote, the judge who presided over his trial, issued an order Friday, directing that Mr. Aleynikov be released from custody, but refrained from entering an order of acquittal. The parties are expected to make arguments on whether an order of acquittal should be issued later Friday.

"We are pleased and gratified by the Second Circuit's refusal to let this wrongful conviction stand," said Kevin Marino, Mr. Aleynikov's lawyer. "The government's misuse of its power has cost Sergey Aleynikov a year of his life and a great deal more, but his nightmare ends today."

Mr. Marino had previously argued that Mr. Aleynikov only intended to use portions of the downloaded code that were "open source," or freely available.

At his sentencing last year, Mr. Aleynikov said, "I never meant to cause Goldman any harm. I did not intend to harm anyone."

Mr. Aleynikov, who holds dual Russian and U.S. citizenship, was the second person convicted in the past few years of stealing proprietary computer code related to an investment bank's high-frequency trading business. Samarth Agrawal, a former Societe Generale SA was sentenced to three years in prison in February 2011 for the theft of the French bank's computer code.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan and Goldman Sachs declined comment Friday.

Wearing a gray sweatshirt and gray sweatpants, Mr. Aleynikov was all smiles as he left the courthouse in lower Manhattan and said he wants to see his daughters—ages eight years old, six and three.

Original report here

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Texas judge faces inquiry on wrongful conviction

A special investigation will determine if a former prosecutor who is now a judge hid evidence in a trial that sent a man wrongly convicted of his wife's murder to prison for nearly 25 years, Texas' chief justice ordered Thursday.

A proceeding known as a "court of inquiry" will determine whether Judge Ken Anderson, when he was a district attorney, failed to turn over all documents that would have supported the defendant's claims of innocence and whether he tampered with evidence and court records, according to the order signed by Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson.

Courts of inquiry can be convened when legal officials and other public servants are accused of wrongdoing, and have the power to hear evidence and summon witnesses. It is similar to a grand jury proceeding, but Anderson will have the chance to defend himself against evidence presented.

Attorneys for Michael Morton say they hope the process results in criminal charges against Anderson. Morton, 57, spent 24 years in prison before new DNA testing showed he didn't kill his wife, Christine, who was beaten to death in the couple's bed on Aug. 13, 1986. He was freed in October.

Morton's legal team accuses Anderson, the case's lead prosecutor, of keeping key facts from the defense. That included statements from the couple's then-3-year-old son that he witnessed the murder and his father wasn't responsible, and the fact that Christine Morton's credit card was used after her death. The attorneys say Anderson did not turn over all evidence police had collected, even after presiding judge William Lott explicitly ordered him to do so.

Morton, who claimed an intruder broke in and killed his wife after he left for work, was subsequently convicted on circumstantial evidence and sentenced to life in prison. Lott has since died.

Anderson has apologized to Morton for what he's called failures in the system but said he believes there was no misconduct in the case. Since 2002, he has been a judge in Williamson County, just north of Austin, where Morton was convicted.

Eric Nichols, one of Anderson's attorneys, said Thursday that he looks forward to the court of inquiry as "an opportunity to do whatever we can at this point to clear Judge Anderson's good name."

District Judge Louis Sturns of Fort Worth was assigned to oversee the proceeding. Morton's Houston-based attorney, John Raley, said Sturns may soon appoint a special prosecutor, but that there's no timetable for when the court of inquiry will begin.

"This is a historic moment for Texas justice," said Raley, who has spent years representing Morton pro bono.

Jefferson's order came after a 138-page report prepared by Morton's attorneys outlined their allegations against Anderson. Texas District Judge Sid Harle read the report and heard arguments from both sides last week, before asking the Supreme Court for the investigation.

Harle wrote to the chief justice that "there is probable cause to believe" Anderson failed to provide the defense with key evidence at trial, "including several documents containing information highly favorable to the accused." He also found cause to believe Anderson disobeyed the order to turn over all police investigation notes and allowed the "misimpression" that he had complied with the order during the case, during the appeals process and during post-conviction arguments through last year.

That "raises a matter of serous public concern," Harle wrote, adding the record from Morton's trial "contains evidence a public official may have committed serious misconduct."

The case accelerated after Morton's attorney teamed up with the Innocence Project, a New York nonprofit that specializes in using DNA evidence to overturn wrongful convictions, and spent years arguing for testing of a bloody bandana discovered near the Morton home.

Police originally believed the bandana was found far enough away from the crime scene that it wasn't linked to the case. But testing last summer revealed Christine Morton's blood and that of another man, not her husband, and Morton was released.

In November, police arrested a new suspect in the case, a former construction worker who also is being investigated for the slaying of another woman who was beaten to death in her home close to where the Mortons lived in January 1988.

"We believe we've presented a very strong case," said Innocence Project co-founder Barry Scheck. "But Judge Anderson will now have his day in court."

Original report here

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bank of America Ordered to Pay $3.3 Million in Mistaken Identity Case

Police thuggery the real problem

A Florida man who walked into a Bank of America branch to deposit an $100 check walked away three years later with an order for the bank to pay him $3.3 million after a case of mistaken identity.

Rodolfo Valladares, 50, entered the bank to cash a check but was allegedly beaten by police after a bank teller mistook him for a bank robber whose photo tellers had recently received.

The photo showed a man wearing a Miami Heat baseball cap, which Valladares was also wearing. The photo, however, showed a suspect who looked to be in his 60s and weighed about 145 pounds, while Valladares was 46 at the time and weighed more than 200 pounds.

Valladares “displayed no weapon, made no threat, and demanded no money,” his attorneys wrote in the lawsuit he filed against Bank of America. Valladares sued the bank for negligence and for battery.

The teller pressed the silent robbery alarm and engaged in a conversation with him until police arrived.

Valladares said he was “beaten, kicked in the head and handcuffed by police officers who responded to the alarm, but his check was finally cashed by bank employees and he was released after it was determined to be a case of mistaken identity.”

The battery portion of the lawsuit claims that Valladares suffered permanent headaches, damage to his vision and post-traumatic stress disorder from “being kicked in the head by a SWAT Team member brandishing a machine gun that was aimed at his head as he lay face down on the floor of the bank.”

The negligence charge alleged that the bank was negligent and careless in activating and failing to cancel the silent robbery alarm, even after knowing that that Valladares was not robbing the bank.

They also alleged that the bank has failed to properly train its employees in terms of identifying suspected bank robbers.

“Bank employees had many opportunities to notify the police that Rudy was just trying to cash a check, and that this was a false alarm. Instead, they watched as police officers beat him under the mistaken belief that he was a bank robber,” Valladares’ attorney Russell Adler wrote in a statement. “This is a therapeutic verdict. Bank of America needs to do a better job training and supervising its employees about handling false robbery alarms, and communicating with the police.”

Bank of America plans to appeal the verdict and believes the teller acted reasonably under the circumstances.

“Although the jury reached a verdict, there are several post trial motions that are either pending or will be filed by Monday. And even if we do not prevail on those motions, we also plan to appeal to the Florida appellate courts,” Bank spokeswoman Shirley Norton wrote in an email to ABC News. “The Bank disagrees with the award. We do not believe that it was not warranted or reasonable in light of the evidence presented or applicable law.”

Original report here

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

DNA evidence revives mystery of nuclear protester's murder and British Intelligence involvement as doubt is cast on killer's conviction

New doubt has been cast on the conviction of a teenage burglar for the controversial Eighties murder of anti-nuclear campaigner Hilda Murrell.

Her nephew Robert Green, who was a naval commander, has written a book containing details of DNA evidence not disclosed at the trial.

The case has been hotly debated because at the time then Labour MP Tam Dalyell claimed ‘men of British Intelligence’ were involved.

Miss Murrell, 78, was abducted from her home in Shrewsbury in March 1984 and found days later in a nearby copse. Her car had been abandoned on a verge. The noted English rose grower had been stabbed, but the wounds were not fatal and a post mortem found she had died of hypothermia. Miss Murrell’s murder prompted questions in Parliament and gave rise to numerous conspiracy theories.

A vociferous campaigner against nuclear weapons, she had been about to give evidence to the inquiry into the proposed Sizewell B nuclear reactor in East Anglia. Some 19 years later, in June 2003, police charged Andrew George, a 35-year-old builder’s labourer, with Miss Murrell’s murder.

In 1984, he was 16 and in care at a children’s home near her house. His DNA was found to match samples taken from the scene and after a six-week trial in 2005, he was sentenced to life in prison with a recommendation that he serve at least 15 years before being considered for parole.

But shortly after the murder, Mr Dalyell had claimed an unnamed informant had given him information linking the sinking of the Argentine ship General Belgrano to Commander Green.

Now Cdr Green’s book A Thorn In Their Side questions George’s conviction and details the evidence he says could have acquitted him. Cdr Green, Miss Murrell’s closest living relative, has been given a previously undisclosed witness statement made by a forensic scientist in the case. The expert, Michael Appleby, says he found DNA on the underside of Miss Murrell’s fingernails from a male and that it did not match that of George.

According to Cdr Green, this evidence was withheld from the jury at George’s trial but ‘almost certainly would have acquitted George’.

Cdr Green is now calling for George’s release and a Commission of Inquiry into the case. Speaking from his home in Christ-church, New Zealand, Cdr Green said: ‘This is a cautionary tale about DNA evidence. ‘My first objective in publishing this book is to force a re-opening of the investigation into Hilda’s murder.’

Original report here

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Australia: Video shows shock police bashing of young father

Most of the Gold Coast cops seem to be sheer animals. There has been great unrest about them previously

WHEN Noa Begic clocked off after another long night at work he never imagined he soon would be lying handcuffed in his own blood in the basement of a Gold Coast police station.

The 21-year-old father had just finished a long shift as a chef at a Surfers Paradise restaurant shortly before midnight on January 28 when he decided to head out with friends for a few drinks.

Less than three hours later, after "a few beers and a few shots", he left popular Irish pub Waxy's in high spirits and started singing a song from US hard rockers Rage Against the Machine, when he was approached by police officers on patrol.

"The song is called Take the Power Back," Mr Begic told The Courier-Mail. "I don't know why I was singing it, but it's not even one of their controversial songs and there was no swearing. "But these police officers came over and asked to look at my driver's licence. "Then they just cuffed me."

He said he was led to a police car and repeatedly punched on the short drive back to the Surfers Paradise police station, nestled between kebab shops and strip clubs on Orchid Avenue in the heart of the nightclub strip. When they arrived in the police station basement, Mr Begic, whose only previous encounter with the law was a drink-driving charge, knew he was in trouble.

"Even in the back of the car I got hit in the head about seven times and they were making racist comments about me and then when we ended up in that basement I knew there was more on the way," he said. "It was like those movies where you see stuff like that. "It was very intimidating so of course I was pretty worried and then they ripped in to me again."

Closed-circuit TV footage obtained by The Courier-Mail shows the officers slamming Mr Begic face-first to the ground.

He is then struck with a flurry of knees, elbows and fists before being dragged to his feet and ushered into the back of a nearby police wagon. A short time later, an officer opens the back of the wagon and delivers a series of further punches. A senior officer, present for most of the incident, then pours a bucket of water over the ground to wash away the victim's blood.

Mr Begic said the beating was brutal, the treatment grossly excessive. "It's not like I was fighting back or trying to run away," he said. "I was handcuffed and there were four of them. "I was in some serious pain and really only running on adrenalin to get me through it."

He spent the night in the Southport watchhouse and faced court on charges of public nuisance and obstructing police, to which he plead not guilty. He will face Southport Magistrates Court on April 4.

While he escaped serious physical injury, Mr Begic said he had been depressed and withdrawn since the attack.

But he was gaining courage from making a formal complaint against the police. "When I got let out of the watchhouse a couple of the officers even looked at me and went, 'whoa, did you want to make a complaint?' "And at the time I thought there was no point.

"But the more people I have spoken to about what happened to me, the more stories I have heard about it happening to other people. "It might make them think twice next time they try it with someone else."

Police yesterday said the Ethical Standards Command was investigating a complaint of excessive use of force alleged to have occurred at the Surfers Paradise police station on January 29. The investigation is continuing.

Police told AAP the Ethical Standards Command was investigating a complaint of excessive force alleged to have occurred at the Surfers Paradise police station on January 29 and no further comment would be made. Comment has been sought from Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson.

Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said it would be inappropriate to comment because charges against Mr Begic were still before the courts. "However, the police union fully supports all police involved and we look forward to the chance to make public all facts of this matter in due course," he said in a statement to AAP.

Queensland Council for Civil Liberties spokesman Terry O'Gorman said the incoming chairman of the Crime and Misconduct Commission should investigate the excessive force claim and a culture of impunity in the police service.

"The first thing we will be asking him to do is review throughout the state the procedures for dealing with complaints where people say they have been bashed by police," Mr O'Gorman told the ABC. "There is a culture of impunity amongst a significant number of police who know they can assault people in custody and get away with it."

Original report here. (Via Australian police news)

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Teenage witness gets £600,000 compensation after bungling British police reveal his name to violent gang he had informed on

The British cops really are disgusting. They seem to sleepwalk through their job

A boy who witnessed a vicious gang attack has been awarded a record sum after police inadvertently leaked his name to the thugs he had testified against. The 16-year-old went through ‘unbearable pain’ when his personal details were sent to the gang members by the Crown Prosecution Service and Metropolitan Police.

They have since been forced to pay the youth and his family £550,000 for the ‘catastrophic’ blunder and another £50,000 towards their legal costs, it emerged. The payout, thought to be the biggest of its kind, is to compensate for psychiatric injuries, lost earnings and relocation costs incurred under a witness protection programme.

The boy agreed to give a statement anonymously after witnessing the attack in 2005. But the CPS and Met mistakenly sent his name and address to both the gang and their defence lawyers.

In a further twist, a separate failure meant the gang were never convicted as the case collapsed at trial – so the teenager gave evidence in vain.

The witness, now aged 22, said he would ‘look away’ rather than help the police if he ever saw another crime because the mistake ‘robbed him of his youth’.

In a statement, the family added: ‘Our whole lives were turned upside down and our trust in the entire legal system was betrayed.’

A CPS spokesman said: 'This payment relates to a case dating from four years ago where information was passed to the defence which led to concerns about the safety of a young witness and their family, so that they had to be provided with protective measures.

'The CPS recognised that its actions in this case fell below our accepted standard and, together with the Metropolitan Police Service, reached an agreed settlement of damages and an apology with the parties concerned. 'We regret that on this occasion we did not provide the support which is normally available to witnesses.'

A Met spokesman added: 'The Metropolitan Police Service aims to always provide victims and witnesses with the support they require. 'When we get it wrong we acknowledge it with those involved and if appropriate provide compensation.'

It is unclear precisely how the breach of procedure occurred.

However, the family's lawyer confirmed a series of 'individual and systemic failings' led to police giving the information to gang members directly.

It was not the result of an error made by a third party, such as the identity mistakenly being revealed by a defence lawyer.

Solicitors Bhatt Murphy, who acted for the family, issued a statement from them in which they said they had suffered three years of 'unbearable pain'.

It read: 'In 2005 when this incident occurred we were a hard working, law-abiding family with children. 'Despite our best intentions to help the police by doing what we thought was the right thing to help secure convictions against a violent gang, we were let down to the degree that our whole lives were turned upside down and our trust in the entire legal system was betrayed.

'We were left with no other option than to leave our homes, careers, families, friends and in our son's case his education, without even being able to say goodbye. 'The children were uprooted from their schools and whisked away without an opportunity to explain: the trauma and upset this caused is beyond words.

'The unbelievable mistake by the CPS and police not only destroyed our lives but ultimately caused the complete failure of the prosecution case against the gang members even though we remained willing to fully cooperate from within witness protection.

'When the error was realised, the police advised that the family had no alternative but to go into witness protection' "We endured three years of of unbearable pain but the prosecution was abandoned because the of these failures. 'Starting our lives again has been hard to say the least. The compensation will go some way to securing a suitable environment for our family.

The memories will never leave us but, as time goes by, it does become easier.'

Fiona Murphy, the family's lawyer, said a series of 'individual and systemic failings' had resulted in the boy's name and address being revealed to the criminal gang. She told BBC Radio 4: 'The family began to experience a campaign of harassment and intimidation and when they brought their concerns to the attention of the Metropolitan Police it was denied that their identities had been revealed.

'But eventually, when the error was realised the police advised that the family had no alternative but to go into witness protection.' Ms Murphy also said the 'breach of procedure' happened in the very early stages of the investigation.

Original report here

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Guilty until proven innocent

Disgusting goonery and over-reaction in Texas. They're just looking for people they can hurt. They've got the brains of fleas. The guy below should sue

A few years back Grits posed the question, "Is babysitting while white reasonable suspicion for police questioning?" after my granddaughter and I were detained and questioned at length in my neighborhood on suspicion of some nefarious deed (it was never quite clear what). In that incident, the police were pretty clear I was stopped solely because Ty, like her mother (who came to live with my wife and me when she was a child) is black, while I'm an almost stereotypical looking white Texas redneck. At the time, Grits was amazed that three squad cars were dispatched to question me for walking down the street with a child of a different race, detaining me for no good reason and scaring the bejeezus out of then-two-year old Ty.

Last night, though, Ty and I got the full jump-out-boys treatment, making our earlier interaction with Austin PD seem downright quaint. It could only have been more ridiculous if they'd actually arrested me, which for a while there didn't seem out of the question. (This is a personal tale much more than a policy analysis, so if you're only interested in the latter, don't bother to read further.)

Our story began at the Millennium Youth Center in central east Austin, which is a city-owned rec center just a few blocks from my home of 22 years. Ty, age 5, often spends the night with us on Fridays to give Mom and Dad a night off, and we'd taken her there to go roller skating after dinner out as a reward for a week's worth of excellent behavior scores in kindergarten.

Perhaps at 7:40 p.m. or so, after she'd had her fill of skating (if the event were put to music, the appropriate theme song would have been "Slip Slidin' Away"), I asked Ty if she'd like to walk home and let Grandma take the car. It was cool but pleasant out, and we were just a short distance from the house, with a city-bike path where we often walk dogs together taking us most of the way there. She was elated: This sounded like a big adventure, and within moments she was bouncing off the walls with excitement, making me think a walk home was just the thing to burn off some energy before bed time.

This was a terrible mistake on Grandpa's part. Not because we live in a relatively rough neighborhood. I know many of my neighbors, saints and scoundrels alike, and I did not and do not fear becoming a crime victim walking that route, even with a five year old in tow. No, apparently the only folks Ty and I had to fear were in uniform.

Our interaction with law enforcement began after we left the Millennium Center on foot, with the giddy five year old racing ahead and me trotting along behind admonishing her to stay out of the parking lot and stop when she gets to the sidewalk, don't run into the street, etc.. She was in a good mood, obeyed, and we held hands crossing the street and as we walked down the bike path toward Boggy Creek and back home.

Then behind us I heard someone call out, though I couldn't make out what was said. We stopped to look back, and there was a dark silhouette crossing the street who Ty thought was calling out to us. We waited, but then the silhouetted figure stopped, crouched down for a moment, then took a few steps back toward the rec center, appearing to speak to someone there. I shrugged it off and we walked on, but in a moment the figure began walking down the path toward us again, calling out when she was about 150 feet away. We stopped and waited. It was a brown-suited deputy constable, apparently out of breath from the short walk.

She told me to take my hand out of my pocket and to step away from Ty, declaring that someone had seen a white man chasing a black girl and reported a possible kidnapping. Then she began asking the five-year old about me. The last time this happened, Ty was barely two, and I wasn't about to let police question her. This time, though, at least initially, I decided to let her answer. "Do you know this man?" the deputy asked. "Yes," Ty mumbled shyly, "he's my Grandpa." The deputy couldn't understand her (though I did) and moved closer, hovering over the child slightly, repeating the question. Ty mumbled the same response, this time louder, but muffled through a burgeoning sob that threatened to break out in lieu of an answer.

The deputy still didn't understand her: "What did you say?" she repeated. "He's my Grandpa!," Ty finally blurted, sharply and clearly, then rushed back over to me and grabbed hold of my leg. "Okay," said the deputy, relaxing, acknowledging the child probably wasn't being held against her will. (As we were talking, a car pulled up behind her on the bike path with its brights on - I couldn't tell what agency it was with) Then she pulled out her pad and paper and asked "Can I get your name, sir, just for my report?" I told her I'd prefer not to answer any questions and would like to leave, if we were free to go, so I could get the child to bed. She looked skeptical but nodded and Ty and I turned tail and walked toward home.

Ty was angrier about this, even, than I was. "Why is it," she demanded a few steps down the path, stomping her feet and swinging her little arms as she said it, "that the police won't ever believe you're my Grandpa?" (Our earlier run in had clearly made an impression, though she hadn't mentioned it in ages.) "Why do you think it is?," I asked, hoping to fend her off with the Socratic method. She paused, then said sheepishly, "Because you're white?" I grinned at her and said, "That's part of it, for sure. But we don't care about that, do we?" "No," she said sternly as we walked across the bridge spanning Boggy Creek just south of 12th Street, "but the police should leave you alone. It's not right that they want to arrest you for being my Grandpa." More prescient words were never spoken.

Just as Ty uttered those words, I made her hold my hand so we could trot across 12th Street amidst the sporadic, Friday night traffic, waiting for a police car to pass before heading across just west of the railroad tracks. Literally my intentions were - the moment we made it safely across the street - to resume our conversation to explain to Ty that nobody wanted to arrest me for being her Grandpa, that that wasn't against the law, and that the deputy had only stopped us to make sure Ty was safe. But we never got a chance to have that conversation.

As soon as we crossed the street, just two blocks from my house as the crow flies, the police car that just passed us hit its lights and wheeled around, with five others appearing almost immediately, all with lights flashing. The officers got out with tasers drawn demanding I raise my hands and step away from the child. I complied, and they roughly cuffed me, jerking my arms up behind me needlessly. Meanwhile, Ty edged up the hill away from the officers, crying. One of them called out in a comforting tone that they weren't there to hurt her, but another officer blew up any good will that might have garnered by brusquely snatching her up and scuttling her off to the back seat of one of the police cars. (By this time more cars had joined them; they maxxed out at 9 or 10 police vehicles.)

I gave them the phone numbers they needed to confirm who Ty was and that she was supposed to be with me (and not in the back of their police car), but for quite a while nobody seemed too interested in verifying my "story." One officer wanted to lecture me endlessly about how they were just doing their job, as if the innocent person handcuffed on the side of the road cares about such excuses. I asked why he hadn't made any calls yet, and he interrupted his lecture to say "we've only been here two minutes, give us time" (actually it'd been longer than that). "Maybe so," I replied, sitting on the concrete in handcuffs, "but there are nine of y'all milling about doing nothing by my count so between you you've had 18 minutes for somebody to get on the damn phone by now so y'all can figure out you screwed up." Admittedly, this did not go over well. I could tell I was too pissed off to say anything constructive and silently vowed to keep mum from then on.

As all this was happening, the deputy constable who'd questioned us before walked up to the scene and began conversing with some of the officers. She kept looking over at me nervously as I stood 20 feet or so away in handcuffs, averting her gaze whenever our eyes risked meeting. It seemed pretty clear she was the one who called in the cavalry, and it was equally clear she understood she was in the wrong.

A supervisor arrived and began floating around among the milling officers (I have no idea what function most of those cops thought they were fulfilling). Finally, she sidled up to repeat the same lecture I'd heard from the young pup officer who'd handcuffed me: "When we get a call about a possible kidnapping we have to take it very seriously," etc., etc.. By this time, though, I'd lost patience with that schtick. Interrupting her repetitive monologue, I explained that I could care less how they justified what they were doing, and could they please stop explaining themselves, focus on their jobs, and get this over with as soon as possible so Ty and I could go home? She paused as though she wanted to argue, then her shoulders slumped a bit, she half-smiled and replied "Fair enough!," wheeling around and issuing inaudible directions to some of the milling officers, all of whom appeared to continue doing nothing, just as before. Not long after that they released us.

Ty told me later that back in the police car she'd been questioned, not just about me but about her personal life, or as she put it, "all my business": They asked about her school, what she'd been doing that evening, to name all the people in her family, and pressed her to say if I or anyone else had done anything to her. Ty was frustrated, she said later, that they kept repeating the same questions, apparently hoping for different answers. She didn't understand why, after she'd told them who I was, the police didn't just let me go. And when it became clear they wouldn't take her word for it, she began to fear the police would take me away and leave her alone with all those scary cops. (I must admit, for a moment there I felt the same way!) On the upside, said Ty, when they were through questioning her one of the officers let her play with his flashlight, which she considered a high point. Don't you miss life being that simple?

Part of the answer, of course, to Ty's Very Good Question about why I wasn't released when she confirmed my identity is that I was in handcuffs and she was in police custody before anybody asked anyone anything. "Seize first and ask questions later" is better than "shoot first," I suppose, but it's problematic for the same reasons. I found out later police had told my wife and Ty's mom that I'd refused to let them question the child - a patent lie since they'd whisked her away into the back of a police car while I was handcuffed. I wasn't in a position to refuse anything at that point.

How hard would it have been to perform a safety check without running up on me like I'm John Dillinger and scaring the crap out of a five year old? I didn't resist or struggle, but they felt obliged to handcuff me and snatch the kid up for interrogation away from any adult family member. Nine police cars plus the deputy constable all showing up to investigate the heinous crime of "babysitting while white."

Moreover, there was no apology to be had at the end of this charade, to me or to Ty. They interrogated the child but no one tried to comfort her beyond handing her a flashlight to play with. And when it was over, not one of those officers, the supervisor included, thought to take a moment to try to explain to the child what had happened, why they'd behaved that way toward her family, or why they'd treated her grandpa like a criminal. They just opened up the door to the squad car as the cuffs were coming off me and Ty came running back and lept into my arms with such force it almost knocked me down.

After the cuffs were off, I said nothing to the APD cops as I carried the child away toward home. But I did pause when I passed the deputy constable - who still could barely look me in the eye - to say aloud to her, "You knew better. This is on you."

Ty was understandably shaken by the incident, and as we walked home she told me all about her interactions with the officers and peppered me with questions about why this, that, everything happened. She said she tried to be brave because she knew I'd get into trouble if the police didn't believe her (she was right about that!) and she was especially scared when she thought they weren't going to accept her word for it. Poor kid.

As we turned onto the last block home, two of the police cars that had detained us passed by and Ty visibly winced with fear, lunging toward me and wrapping her arms around my leg. I petted and tried to comfort her, but she was pretty disturbed and confused by the whole episode. Luckily, it also left her exhausted so she was out like a light soon after we got home, half an hour past her bedtime. This morning she stated bluntly that she had decided not to think about it - a practice my wife encourages when bad things happen - and it seems to be working. She's her normal happy self, though at the park this afternoon she wanted to pretend we were hiding from kidnappers. But I hated for a five-year old to be subjected to such an experience. I'd like her to view police as people she can trust instead of threats to her and her family, but it's possible I live in the wrong neighborhood for that.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Crooked Muslim cop finally convicted in Britain

For nearly three decades, he considered himself above the law in a career littered with lies, sickening threats to women and old-fashioned corruption. But yesterday the talking stopped for Scotland Yard’s ‘Teflon Commander’ Ali Dizaei after he was convicted for the second time of framing an innocent man and sent back to jail.

The swaggering playboy, who loved to play the race card to intimidate critics, will never wear a police uniform again after receiving a three-year sentence for misconduct in a public office and perverting the course of justice.

His disgraceful behaviour has been repeatedly exposed by the Daily Mail which, since 2001, has chronicled how timid Scotland Yard chiefs appeased his appalling behaviour, endless threats of legal action and even strikes by fellow race militants.

At one stage, Dizaei was considered more powerful than the Metropolitan Police Commissioner – such was the stranglehold he held over his supposed superiors.

In 2008, he was central to a plot to bring down the then Yard Commissioner Sir Ian Blair by encouraging a devastating claim for racial discrimination by Britain’s most senior Asian officer, Tarique Ghaffur. Their campaign unravelled only when the Mail revealed that Mr Ghaffur’s lawyer Shahrokh Mireskandari – a close friend of Dizaei – was a convicted conman with bogus legal qualifications. Mr Ghaffur later dropped his compensation claim against the Met and retired.

Dizaei, 49, who arrived at court with his third wife Shy, was first found guilty in February 2010 of framing young businessman Waad al-Baghdadi in a street row. But he was freed from prison, where he was serving a four year sentence, last May after the Court of Appeal quashed the convictions because his victim had failed to tell the truth about his immigration status.

Guilty verdicts in the retrial mean there is now no way back for the disgraced officer – who in an extraordinary interview in the lead-up to his retrial compared his time in prison to that of Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.

Incredibly, although he had still to clear his name, he was reinstated, quickly suspended on full pay and then awarded up to £180,000 in back pay and allowances as he awaited the new hearing. He was also granted legal aid and will continue to receive his full £100,000 a year police salary in prison until Scotland Yard chiefs sack him.

Insiders believe it could be months before Dizaei, who intends to appeal against his latest convictions, is off the Metropolitan Police payroll.

In 2003, Dizaei was controversially awarded £80,000 compensation and a promise of fast-track promotion after a previous court case ended in his acquittal. Yesterday’s three-year term will be reduced by the 15 months he has already spent behind bars.

Passing sentence at Southwark Crown Court, Mr Justice Saunders said Dizaei used his position and power to arrest Mr al-Baghdadi over a private dispute.

He told the policeman: ‘You are a very senior officer. The breach of trust that the public has placed in you is the more serious because of your senior appointment. You have been a role model to many other people as a result of your achievements as a police officer.’

Iranian-born Dizaei, from Acton, west London, had initially been jailed for four years after being convicted of the same offences in February 2010. In both cases the jury’s verdict was unanimous.

Yesterday his barrister, Stephen Riordan QC, said his time in prison was ‘extremely difficult’ because of his job as a high-profile police officer. He told the court that Dizaei was assaulted and admitted to hospital twice while serving his original sentence.

Dizaei is expected to serve half of his sentence, meaning he is likely to be released from jail within three months. The judge said a later hearing would be held to decide how much the policeman should pay towards the costs of the prosecution and his defence team.

Despite new evidence about Mr al-Baghdadi’s immigration status, the jury of four women and eight men was not swayed by Dizaei’s denials. After a month-long trial, they found he attacked the young Iraqi businessman before arresting and attempting to frame him.

Dizaei previously emerged unscathed from a series of inquiries over the years, including a multi-million-pound undercover operation examining claims of corruption, fraud and dishonesty.

When he was cleared of corruption in 2003, it emerged he had at least six mistresses while married to second wife Natalie. But the attempt to frame a man who pestered him for payment over a website exposed him as a violent bully and liar who abused his position.

Southwark Crown Court heard that the officer and the young Iraqi met by chance in the Persian Yas restaurant, run by Dizaei’s friend Sohrab Eshragi, in Hammersmith Road, west London, on July 18 2008. Mr al-Baghdadi approached Dizaei and asked for £600 he was owed for building a website showcasing his career, press interviews and speeches. This angered Dizaei, who had just eaten a meal with his wife after attending a ceremony at New Scotland Yard for new recruits.

The officer confronted the younger man in a nearby sidestreet, where a scuffle took place and Mr al-Baghdadi was roughly arrested and handcuffed.

In one of two 999 calls, Dizaei asked an operator for ‘urgent assistance’ before starting to arrest Mr al-Baghdadi. When officers arrived, Dizaei handed them the metal mouthpiece of a shisha pipe, held on Mr al-Baghdadi’s key ring, and claimed he had been stabbed with it. But a doctor at Hammersmith police station concluded that two red marks on the officer’s torso were probably self-inflicted and did not match the pipe.

Dizaei told colleagues he had been attacked, leaving Mr al-Baghdadi in custody for 24 hours and ultimately facing prosecution.

Gaon Hart, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said after the hearing: ‘Dizaei’s corruption, which would be deplorable in any police officer, was all the more so given his position as a highly ranked commander. ‘The public entrust the police with considerable powers and with that comes considerable responsibility. Dizaei abused that power and ignored that responsibility.’

Deborah Glass, deputy chairman of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, added: ‘There is no room in the police for corrupt officers, and today’s verdict underlines that.’

A small group of Dizaei’s supporters mounted a protest as Miss Glass left the court building, heckling her and giving her a slow handclap. Dizaei’s solicitor Imran Khan, of the Manchester-based law firm Lewis, Hymanson and Small, said he planned to challenge his conviction. On the steps of the court, Mr Khan said: ‘He is extremely disappointed at the decision and we shall be appealing straight away.’

Original report here

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Playmate suing NYPD for 'shoving her face into pavement' after cabbie believes she's an armed vampire

Brainless goons. Is there ANYBODY that they are likely to treat civilly?

A former Playboy bunny is suing the New York Police Department claiming they manhandled her following an altercation with a cab driver in 2006.

Stephanie Adams, 40, says police drew their guns on her and with unnecessary force shoved her face to the pavement causing physical injury after her taxi driver accused her as being armed and dangerous.

According to the New York Post, the driver, Eric Darko, later told city investigators that he believed Ms Adams was a vampire.

Ms Adams was taking the taxi driven by Mr Darko on May 25 back her to apartment when he refused to bring her any closer to her building, according to Ms Adams.

He then began cursing at her, prompting her to call 911, which Mr Darko in return did too.

While on the phone with the NYPD, Mr Darko told the operator that Ms Adams had threatened to shoot him leading to her rough handling at their arrival.

Ms Adams' trial Lawyer Nina Neumunz in court stated that the physical force was unnecessary with the tight-fitting clothing Ms Adams was wearing.

'It was a controlled drop to the ground,' Sgt John Rajan testified in court according to the Post, saying Ms Adams did not initially comply to his instructions to lie face down. 'We didn't know if she had a firearm,' he said.

Acknowledging her attire, Sgt Rajan said they did not need to frisk her as 'she was wearing tight-fitting clothing and there was no place to conceal a weapon.'

A doctor for Ms Adams testified Friday saying the incident injured spinal discs causing her serious back pain.

Ms Adams previously sued Mr Darko for falsely accusing her as armed during the 2006 incident, according to, causing his license to be revoked by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission the same year. He was also fined $2,700.

Original report here

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Beware, diabetes causes police brutality

Watch his video. Now here is the full story behind this scene.

Adam Green started going into a diabetic shock while driving. Police pull him over. He is first ordered to stay in the car but also ordered to get out the car. A Highway Patrol gang member approaches the car with his gun already drawn. The gang member kicks the car window and four of his fellow gang members pull the unresponsive man from the car. He is unresponsive because he is in a diabetic shock.

They pile on the man and begin kicking and beating him while yelling "Stop resisting." Trust me, these thugs will always yell "Stop resisting" because they routinely lie that people are resisting arrest, as an excuse for their thuggery. But Mr. Green was unable to resist. Watch these thugs get their jollies kicking a man who can't move. One kicks him in the ribs. Another criminal in blue kicks him in the face.

You will see them searching through his pockets when one of the officers says, "He's got insulin." You hear one of the mentioning medical and saying the man is semi-conscious. The officer is very concerned if any of the officers, who beat the unresponsive man, were hurt. The officer says: "Let's get medical out here. He's a diabetic. Probably in a shock, semi-conscious." Don't you think this thugs should have tried to determine this BEFORE they beat the shit out of a sick man who did not "resist" and had didn't act violent? Then after they got the adrenalin kicks they laugh about it and the lead thug says, "I could have probably taken him by myself."

Between the city of Henderson, NV, who thugs in blue were involved, and the Highway Patrol, Green was paid almost $300,000 in compensation for the assault on him for the crime of diabetic shock. According to the successful lawsuit one of the officers told Green they were sorry for beating him up. Greene sufferece from bruises, abrasions and broken ribs inflicted by violent police officers to a man who had done nothing more than go into diabetic shock, as the video proves.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal notes that in 2008, Dr. Ryan Rich was diagnosed with a seizure disorder and was on medication for it when he crashed. Police pulled him from his car and saw he was confused and disoriented, a result of the medicine or of a seizure. They used their Taser on him five times and killed him. Count officials said the police attack on Dr. Ryan was justified.

But the adrenalin high that violent police officers work for is clear in the voices at the end. You hear the exhilaration and joy from a gang attack on a semi-conscious diabetic. There is is relief, laughter and pleasure.

As far as anyone can tell all of the violent offenders in blue remain with the police department and none of them suffered any penalties for their violent assault on a sick man. That is typical of how police are treated—they are the only criminal gang that is above the law—they know it, and they act like they know it. Beware, that being in close proximity to a police officer is dangerous to your well being.

Original report here

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Australia: 'I've lost everything': acquitted cab driver

A 37-year-old former taxi driver wept as he told of his fear of ever driving a taxi again after he was yesterday acquitted by a Perth District Court jury of rape allegations.

Prabhjit Gill shed tears publicly outside the court saying that he had lost his hopes of becoming a dentist in Perth by the proceedings.

Meanwhile his friend and fellow taxi driver Amrit Pal Singh, 32, was convicted on one charge of raping a woman in her 20s in the back of his cab last year.

The jury accepted the prosecution's case that Singh had taken advantage of the woman while she was in a semi-conscious state from a night of drinking at a hen's party on February 5.

The same woman accused Mr Gill of coming to a North Lake car park while she was in Mr Singh's taxi that night and attempting to have sex with her.

Although happy about his acquittal, Mr Gill said he was "shattered" after having his name "framed" by the allegations which arose exactly one year ago.

"One year of hell we've been through but I believe in [my lawyer, Terry] Dobson, I believe in justice so I went all the way," he said. "From the very first day I said 'I'm innocent' and I keep stating 'I'm innocent, I'm innocent'. I stood by the same story always."

He said that he had lost thousands of dollars in applications to have his Indian accreditation as a dentist accepted in Australia, as well as his residency, because of the pending trial. "I lost everything. If I want to become a dentist I have to start [from] the very first English test, it's going to take me two to three years [and] another $20-30,000... where am I going to get it? I have no idea," he said. "I [am] standing here 15 years behind where I was. I'm in the debt of thousands of dollars. I haven't slept for the last one year."

He said he cannot return to driving taxis, but he still had a family to support. "I am scared to drive a taxi, if I drive a taxi [and] somebody says 'he tried to rape me', I [will] go through the whole system again," he said. "Even though I am a big-sized man, I don't have the guts to step into a taxi ever again."

The Department of Transport has still cancelled his taxi licence despite being acquitted of the charges. Managing Director Transport Services Nina Lyhne said the Department of Transport did not consider Mr Gill to be "a fit and proper person to be a taxi driver". Singh's taxi licence has also been revoked.

Judge Gillian Braddock yesterday kept Singh in custody to face sentencing on March 15. Judge Braddock said considering that the matter was "extremely grave" and that Singh was facing a "significant term of imprisonment", she was not prepared to risk allowing him to renew his bail.

Singh gripped the bench and shook his head in wide-eyed disbelief, with a few audible sobs from the gallery.

Mr Gill was ordered by the security guards to leave his friend and when asked outside court what he thought about the decision against his friend he replied: "I feel bad ... I cannot say anything, it's the law."

A spokesman on cultural issues surrounding Perth's Indian community, Suresh Rajan said that even the allegations against the men would "still have a major impact on their families's relationship". He said a conviction would bring "a great deal of shame" to their families but also to the whole village in India.

"There's also the prospect of being further ostracised by their family and by the community," he said. "Even if they're not found guilty the fact that the court attempted to do that still besmirches the reputation of their family."

Original report here

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Police photography phobia reined in for once

British police forced to apologise after YouTube video showed cop accusing animal rights protester filming pet store of being a terrorist

A police force has apologised to an animal rights campaigner after she posted footage on YouTube of a PCSO falsely accusing her of having terrorist links.

Activist Ali Firth, 49, was filming outside a pet store in Yorkshire on her video camera when the police community support officer demanded she stop.

When she refused, the PCSO then threatened to confiscate her camera under the Terrorism Act 2000 claiming she was part of a group with known terrorist links - all of which she caught on tape.

Ms Firth was so upset by the the incident she posted the video on YouTube - which has now been viewed 5,000 times. She said: 'I was filming the Dogs 4 Us building. I didn’t want to film the officers but they walked in front of me and then started telling me to stop recording. 'I have never heard anything like this in the 30 years as an animal activist. 'Never have I been called a terrorist. It’s ridiculous.'

Earlier that day a policewoman had told Ms Firth to stop filming outside the pet supermarket Dogs 4 Us but she had refused on the grounds she was on public property and not breaking the law.

The video footage posted on YouTube then shows a PCSO telling a bemused Ms Firth he can confiscate her camera under the Terrorism Act 2000. When Ms Firth asks him to explain, he said the animal rights campaigner was part of a group 'connected to known terrorists'. She asked the officer to explain further but was told: 'No - it would breach data protection.'

Under British common law, anyone can film or take photographs in a public place and police do not have the power to stop them.

Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square are the only two locations in the UK with a specific provision against photography for commercial purposes.

Ms Firth had travelled from her home in Horncastle, Lincolnshire, to attend a protest outside the pet store in Bramley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, on January 29. Her animal rights group protest outside the pet shop once a month and often film outside the store.

Members of the public do not need a permit to film or photograph in public places and police have no power to stop them - unless there is a terrorist threat.

Under the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 it is an offence to publish a photograph of a constable - not including PCSOs - which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said a letter of apology was being issued. He added: 'We have looked into the circumstances of this incident and have spoken to the officers involved. It is important to note no camera or footage was confiscated.

'West Yorkshire Police has an excellent track record of facilitating peaceful protest, balancing the rights of protestors with those of private individuals and businesses.'

Original report here

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Thursday, February 09, 2012

MD: Two P.G. County Cops Suspended; Video Contradicts Their Version Of Shooting

Prince George’s County police say two officers have been suspended while officials investigate an incident in which an officer discharged his gun. In a press conference Tuesday, police said that videotape evidence does not support the initial account of the incident that occurred Friday in Brentwood.

Authorities said earlier that the officer fired his weapon during a confrontation with a man who started to reach for the officer’s gun. No one was injured.

Corporal Donald Taylor, the police officer who discharged his firearm, and a witnessing police officer have been suspended as the Special Investigation Response Team continues to investigate the incident.

Police say have already asked authorities to amend the criminal charges against the suspect, 19-year-old Ryan Keith Dorm of Cottage City. However, authorities also believe some sort of crime was being committed by the suspect. As such, not all of the charges against him are expected to be dropped.

Authorities initially said detectives were working an assignment near Rhode Island Ave. and 38th St. around 9:40 p.m. on Feb. 3 when they observed two individuals, one wearing a mask, enter the Lowest Price Gas convenience store.

Believing that the two suspects were about to commit a robbery, the detectives confronted the suspects. One suspect swung at the involved officer and began to flee. The officer caught up to the suspect after a brief foot pursuit, during which time the suspect allegedly reached for the officer’s firearm. Fearing that the suspect was attempting to take control of his firearm, the officer discharged his weapon at the suspect and made the apprehension.

The video which surfaced this week contradicts that sequence of events. “We had questions about that and that was what caused us to pause. We presented [the video] to the State’s Attorney’s office and they’re reviewing it,” said Carlos Acosta, Prince George’s County Police Inspector General.

He would not comment on further specifics on the tape because of the ongoing criminal investigation.

Acosta stated investigations such as these need to be transparent. Overall, the newly appointed police official believes the department does a good job.

“I think 99 percent of the police officers are good police officers,” said Acosta. “I think they do a very good job and they have a tough job.”

He then made it clear those officers who do not follow proper procedure will not be tolerated. “The people who don’t want to follow the rules, they know who they are,” Acosta cautioned. “And they absolutely understand–this has always been the case–that they are going to be held accountable.”

Original report here

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