Monday, April 30, 2012

SF's Political Correctness Takes a sheriff Prisoner

Former San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Brown is appalled. He didn't vote for Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, and he isn't his biggest fan. But when he considers the prosecution of Mirkarimi for bruising his wife's arm during a New Year's Eve argument, he is appalled. People lose sight of what types of cases should be prosecuted, Brown told me Tuesday, and Mirkarimi's case is not one of them.

"Sometimes you have to break it off," Brown said, as "Cyrus Vance did in New York City." The Manhattan district attorney dropped rape charges against former International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn last year because prosecutors didn't have a solid case.

San Francisco City Hall does not have a solid case against Mirkarimi, either.

For those of you who missed it, on New Year's Day, Mirkarimi and his wife, Eliana Lopez, got in a fight. He grabbed her arm and bruised it. Lopez complained to a neighbor, who videotaped her. Days later, the neighbor contacted police.

The episode unleashed the hounds of political correctness in San Francisco. Domestic violence advocates saw an opportunity to strike a blow for female empowerment. San Francisco police and City Hall didn't want to appear soft on domestic abuse by an elected official. A city that doesn't let government into the bedroom watched, even applauded, as the criminal justice system divided a family that wanted to stay together.

(Mirkarimi didn't help his situation by not cooperating with a police investigation. Then again, as a gung-ho progressive, he never has been a favorite of local law enforcement.)

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon charged the sheriff with three misdemeanor counts: domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness. To my mind, Gascon should have dropped the charges. Grabbing your wife's arm and bruising her does not constitute domestic violence -- especially when the wife never pressed charges and denied that her husband abused her. The child endangerment count was ludicrous -- based on the fact that the couple's son was in the car during the fateful fight. Ditto the dissuading a witness charge -- because Mirkarimi allegedly tried to stifle Lopez.

Gascon also filed a court order that forced Mirkarimi to move out and not speak to his wife. Eventually, the court allowed Mirkarimi visitation with his son.

In the meantime, as Mirkarimi's reputation eroded and his legal bills mounted, he did what smart people do. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of false imprisonment. He believed the plea would allow him to keep his gun (and his job) and, if he stuck to a counseling regimen, reunite with his family.

But Mirkarimi was wrong. Even though the fight occurred before Mirkarimi was sworn in as sheriff, Mayor Ed Lee suspended Mirkarimi for "official misconduct" from his job and his pay.

The whole setup is "designed to break you along the way," Mirkarimi told me. Until he fights back and wins, he has lost the elective office he worked hard to win. The courts won't let him talk to his wife, who -- this is ironic, as her declared wish to visit her native Venezuela with her son started the fight -- took their son to Venezuela while she visits her sick father. When she returns in June, they will have been apart for five months and still will not be able to talk to each other.

Again, Brown is appalled at a system that would tear a family apart against its will, ostensibly for its own good. "A person charged with murder gets to see his wife," Brown railed. "Dan White"-- who murdered Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk in 1978 -- "had conjugal visits."

As I sat through Monday's hearing of the San Francisco Ethics Commission, once again I was struck at how flimsy City Hall's case is. When a man hurts his wife, there is a body of evidence -- such as medical records and neighbors who heard things firsthand.

Yet Deputy City Attorney Peter J. Keith was angling for the ability to get Lopez to testify that Mirkarimi once told her that he was "powerful" as he tried to warn her against taking the couple's son to Venezuela without his consent. The mayor actually included this exchange in his "official misconduct" complaint.

Mirkarimi denies that he told Lopez he is politically powerful, but who cares? San Francisco tax dollars shouldn't be used to investigate what a couple said during an argument. The commission's work is going to go on for months. Ethics Commission Chairman Ben Hur -- yes, that's his name -- announced his panel won't issue the rules for a mini-trial until May 29.

If San Francisco can do this to its sheriff -- for an arm bruise -- San Francisco can do this to anyone. I asked Mirkarimi whether he feels ravaged by the excesses of San Francisco's political correctness. He answered warily, "In some ways, San Francisco has a very inflated image of itself being politically correct."

Original report here

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

After trend of wrongful convictions nationwide, Topeka police change witness identification methods

In the 1985 wrongful rape conviction of Joe Jones, there were problems with how the Topeka Police Department handled the eyewitness identification, said Brandon Garrett, a University of Virginia law professor who examined Jones’ case as part of a 2009 large-scale study sponsored by the Innocence Project.

“This case looks exactly like the others I’ve looked at,” said Garrett, whose study found that half of 250 wrongful conviction cases examined included a witness misidentification.

But the biggest issue was how the victim in the case — who spent the most time with the attacker — identified Jones after the assault.

The Topeka Police Department, like many across the country, has updated their policy for eyewitness photo identifications. In the past, police often used a single sheet with six photos, known as a "six-pack." But research has found witness accuracy improves when shown photos one at a time. Det. Larry Falley of the Topeka Police explains the advantages of the new policy.

At the time, Topeka Police used what’s known as a “six-pack” photo array, during which a witness or victim is shown one sheet, with six suspects. In the Jones case, the victim picked a photo of someone other than Jones. “That’s a huge red flag,” Garrett said.

But the two other eyewitnesses spotted Jones on the street the night after the attack and called police. They were confident Jones was the rapist.

Then at a preliminary hearing, the victim in the case saw Jones in the courthouse. She immediately picked Jones as her attacker, even though she hadn’t selected him in the photo lineup.

From then on, the victim insisted Jones was the rapist, and testified to that at trial.

“The trial ID may be very powerful,” said Garrett, but cautioned such an identification is prone to mistakes.

Jones was handcuffed, and the victim expected to see the attacker in court.

And there’s the two other witnesses who could have influenced the victim’s choice, Garrett said.

With mounting evidence that eyewitness misidentifications have led to scores of wrongful convictions over the years, police are changing practices. “There’s a lot more awareness about this,” Garrett said.

“Eyewitness identification has for a long time been questionable,” said Topeka Police Chief Ronald Miller, whose department recently instituted new policies aimed at reducing potential misidentifications.

Topeka Detective Larry Falley, explained how they now approach witness identifications.

First and foremost, Falley said, is a change from the one-sheet six pack photo array to a one-photo “sequential” lineup, in which the witness is shown photos one at a time. This has several advantages, Falley said. In sequential lineups witnesses are less likely to guess than when there are multiple photos shown at once. And the photos themselves are much larger — and also include a side view — giving witnesses the opportunity to better examine facial features.

The department also use an “independent administrator” for photo lineups. The person showing the witness the lineup is not involved in the case, and has no idea who the suspect is. This “blind” approach removes any chance the person showing the photos can influence the process, Falley said.

Original report here

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

How to Become a "Stalker" in Oregon: Criticize the Police

What does it take to be officially designated a “stalker” in the State of Oregon?

In a recent decision the State Court of Appeals ruled that a bully can subject a terrified elderly woman to a years-long campaign of harassment, intimidation, and physical violence without being saddled with a stalking protection order (SPO). Two years ago, the same court ruled that an individual can commit repeated acts of property damage, coupled with physical assaults and even an explicit death threat, and not qualify for stalker status.

Apparently, the only guaranteed way to earn the unwanted title of “stalker” in the Beaver State is to criticize the local police and the corrupt municipal cabal it serves. That’s a reasonable inference to draw from the bizarre experience of Sunriver, Oregon resident Robert Foster, whose stalking case involving the Sunriver PD and the Sunriver Owners Association (SROA) is scheduled for trial on Tuesday, April 24. [Update: The trial has been rescheduled -- again -- for August 21.]

Roughly two years ago, Foster – a well-established and widely respected local businessman who operates a hot tub service company – was designated a stalker in an ex parte proceeding. Since that time he has been arrested twice for the supposed crime of coming within eyeshot of one of the timid, shivering creatures who supposedly live in bladder-loosening fear of Foster – Sergeant Joseph Patnode and Officer Kasey Hughes.

Foster has never said or done anything to harm either of those proud, intrepid members of the Brotherhood of Coercion. Prior to the arrests made pursuant to the spurious stalking protection order, Foster had no criminal record of any kind. Over the past two years, Foster has been treated as a prisoner in his own hometown. At one point last fall he was driven into out-of-state exile for three months to avoid arrest as he prepared for a January 26 court date.

Rather than convening the trial on the appointed time at the designated location, the presiding Judge conducted a series of sidebar conferences with the parties in her chambers while dozens of people waited for several hours in a crowded, poorly ventilated courtroom. In the far corner of the small room could be seen a poorly-disguised Detective from the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, who furtively took photographs of everyone who had gathered to support Foster.

In the middle of the courtroom had assembled practically the entire Sunriver Police Department. All of them but Hughes and Patnode were in uniform and wearing body armor. They were also wreathed in the unmistakable aroma of pure, unfiltered fear. This shouldn't surprise us: These are people who profess to be terrified by the mere sight of a skinny, mild-mannered, unarmed, 51-year-old businessman whose only weapon is a finely whetted wit.

Bob Foster and his daughter, Rebecca Kossler, were as eager for their day in court as the Sunriver PD was to avoid it – a fact that says everything we need to know about the relative merits of their respective cases. If Foster's accusers were telling any portion of the truth, they wouldn't be exhausting every dilatory tactic known to man in an effort to avoid testifying under oath in an adversarial setting.

In defiance of State Law, the original SPO was granted without a mandatory hearing at which Foster could contest it. His court appearance on January 26 was the first time he was able to speak for himself in a judicial proceeding. Rather than permitting Foster the opportunity to tear apart the specious case against him, the presiding judge attempted to fashion a modified order under which Foster would be granted the supposed privilege of a judicial hearing before the “victims” – Officers Patnode and Hughes – could arrange for his arrest.

The Sunriver PD faction refused to drop the charges against Foster because, as they explicitly told the judge, they were concerned that he would sue the department for the taxpayer-subsidized harassment he has experienced.

Assuming that his persecutors could be held personally liable, rather than socializing the costs of their criminal foolishness, Foster would be entitled to sue them into penury: During the past two years he has spent more than $200,000 contesting the patently false and unambiguously malicious accusation that he had been stalking the local police.

In sworn pre-trial depositions, neither of the “victims” of Foster’s purported stalking was ever to describe an instance in which he did or said anything so much as suggesting violent intent. The same is true of former Sunriver Police Chief Michael Kennedy, who – as we will see – has since lost his position and offered several key disclosures regarding what can only be called a criminal conspiracy against Foster.

Foster’s supposed victims are armed individuals claiming a license to use lethal force at their discretion – and who supposedly dissolve into puddles of petulant panic at the sight of him. Pedro Erazo’s victim, by way of contrast, was a senior citizen named Kathryn Reitz, whom he repeatedly harassed, threatened, and physically assaulted at the Goodwill convenience store in Hillsboro, Oregon.

Over the course of two years, Erazo and his cohorts would descend on the thrift store in pursuit of severely discounted books to re-sell online. Three times a day, employees would wheel out large bins full of merchandise, including books. Heedless of rudimentary courtesy, Erazo’s group would shove aside other shoppers – and, on occasion, store employees – in order to scoop up armloads of books whose barcodes would be read by a handheld digital scanner. Any potentially valuable volumes would be piled in a cart.

Reitz attracted Erazo’s malign attention by voicing disgust over his behavior. He retaliated by following her around the store, barraging her with insults and threats.

“You should be afraid of me,” Erazo sneered at the terrified 64-year-old woman. “They’re not going to stop me. I can do whatever I want.”

As it happens, the thrift store chain’s management did stop him: Erazo is now banned from 40 stores in Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington. At Reitz’s request, Washington County Circuit Court Judge Donald Letourneau imposed a stalking order against Erazo, who was one of several people to complain about the tactics he employed.

Another frequent shopper who testified on behalf of Reitz recalled that Erazo had instructed his goons to “shadow me, follow me. If I would go here, then [he told them] `go with her,’ and then a person would come and … just follow me wherever I would go … stand right next to me, elbow me, make it incredibly uncomfortable.”

Despite the fact that Erazo and his gang had clearly engaged in aggressive and violent behavior, the Oregon Court of Appeals overturned the stalking order. Oregon state law requires at least two “contacts” in which the victim would have a “reasonable apprehension” regarding his or her physical safety. While Erazo had physically assaulted Reitz on one confrontation, and assailed her with insults and threats during numerous others, a second violent “contact” would be necessary in order for his behavior to qualify as “stalking” under state law.

In a similar case from 2010 (Swarringim v. Olson), the Court of Appeals dealt with a neighborhood dispute that escalated to property damage (vandalism to the petitioner’s home and automobile) as well as violence and death threats. In one confrontation, Swarringim’s 14-year-old son was knocked flat on his back by an Olson’s 18-year-old son, Matthew, who also warned that he knew people “who will slit [the boy’s] throat.”

Stipulating to the facts as related by the Swarringim family, the Court of Appeals threw out the stalking order, maintaining that the evidence was insufficient to establish that the actions of Olson and his son had caused “reasonable apprehension for personal safety” on the part of the victims.

Obviously, it is difficult to make a stalking order stick in the State of Oregon, even when the subject of the order has committed acts of criminal violence and made explicit death threats. The designation of “stalker” is reserved for truly dangerous people like Bob Foster, whose sole offense was to make the police uncomfortable.

Foster was a prominent opponent of both the SROA and the proposed Special Services District (SSD), which was created in 2008 and inflicts an annual cost of several million dollars on Sunriver home owners.

Sunriver – although a lovely place -- isn’t really a town; it is a shopping mall with a thyroid condition. The Census Bureau considers it to be part of nearby Bend. Until 2008, its streets were not considered “public conveyances,” but rather private roads accessible to the public. This meant that the Sunriver PD couldn’t write traffic citations, much to the frustration of those who coveted the revenue.

In 2007, the SROA successfully lobbied Oregon State Rep. Gene Wisnat to sponsor H.B. 3445, a bill custom-tailored for Sunriver that extended police "authority" to include roads and streets on "premises open to the public that are owned by a homeowners association…." The following year, the SROA enacted a special multi-million-dollar tax assessment for a special service district (SSD) it had created in 2002. The SSD now included a fully functional police department, which immediately became a huge nuisance to local business owners and the visitors upon whom the local economy depends.

“The police constantly harassed people in my parking lot,” recalled Connie Hutcherson, former owner of RJB’s restaurant, in an interview with a private investigator. “They would do drive-throughs looking for DUIs…. I lost a lot of business because of them. Customers would tell me, `We’d love to come in more, but we’re scared.’”

On more than a few occasions, an aggravated Hutcherson confronted the officers in her parking lot. “They didn’t care for me much,” she wryly observed.

In her interview with the investigator, Danyl Dahl described a March 2009 episode in which the deli delivery van she was driving was stopped by two Sunriver officers who – in response to a trivial traffic infraction – approached her with guns drawn and faces drawn taut with irrational rage.

“Do you want to get arrested today?” one of them snarled at the perplexed and terrified woman. “Do you want to go to jail today?”

“These people were hired by the Sunriver Owners Association,” Dahl pointed out. “They think they can do anything they want.”

The Sunriver police were just as inhospitable to visitors – something Shawn Vickers, who was stopped for speeding, witnessed first-hand. During the traffic stop, a tourist riding a bicycle stopped and began taking photos of the police vehicle.

“The officer lost control,” Vickers related to the investigator. “He was like, `Halt! You do not have my permission to take my picture! Freeze! Do not move!’ And then he … was very agitated, he did not know what to do…. At some point, I thought he was going to draw his gun.”

“Are you kidding me?” exclaimed an astonished Vickers, who was still seated behind the wheel of his vehicle. This provoked another outburst: “He was like, `Freeze! Put your hands where I can see them! Do not move!’ He moved about 6-7 feet from me. He never turned his back to me.” As it happened, the bicyclist was a visiting sheriff’s deputy from Los Angeles County who collected photographs of police vehicles. Upon learning of the tourist’s identity, the officer regained at least a portion of his composure. For several anxious moments, however, “I thought this guy was going to lose it and draw down on one of us,” Vickers reports.

A Sunriver resident who identified herself only as “Vicki” told the investigator about asimilar incident she witnessed in October 2010 involving three Sunriver police officers who swarmed a car containing an elderly couple “with guns drawn and pointing at them.” The elderly couple weren’t armed fugitives; at worst they had committed a minor traffic infraction. Yet they were threatened with lethal violence by a police department perversely determined to manufacture work for itself.

April Gossling, who operated the Villagio Espresso shop, recalled anApril 2011 incident in which three Sunriver Police officers pulled over a group of teenagers who were found with alcohol and marijuana. She overheard the police “threatening them – telling them how much trouble they were in, and how they needed to report to them” regarding drug and alcohol use by other kids.

One of the officers wasn’t satisfied merely to cultivate a group of informants: He prevailed on one of the underage girls to supply him with her phone number in a conversation involving the suggestion of “sexual favors,” Gossling testified. During this lengthy encounter, Gossling overheard an emergency call on the police radio that was blithely ignored by the officers.

Unremitting harassment by the Sunriver PD led at least one resident to flee the town. “I was a victim of such continuous harassment by the Sunriver PD that I eventually simply moved,” former Sunriver resident Jared Lewis told Pro Libertate. “I was so fearful of them every time I left my house…. I was routinely followed, harassed and stopped by Sunriver PD for absolutely no reason for a period of three years.”

In some cases, Lewis reports, Officer Kasey Hughes – one of the two gallant defenders of the public weal who filed a stalking order against Foster – followed him “for miles at a time before stopping me.” In one particularly crowded day, Lewis was stopped four times by four different Sunriver PD officers.

The most disturbing aspect of this was that after dozens of stops per month, I finally reached a point of approaching the (now former) chief to complain and was not only rebuffed, but it was revealed to me by the chief that none of my stops was recorded. He essentially told me that his officers had never stopped me and that I was a liar.”

Obviously, many Sunriver residents recognized that the police department – and the quasi-private municipal cabal running it – constituted a large, festering problem. However, only Bob Foster was willing to confront those responsible for it.

In public meetings, Foster denounced the Service District as an unnecessary expense that consolidated the grip of the village’s insular ruling elite. He proposed abolishing the District and contracting with nearby La Pine for emergency services – an arrangement that would have saved Sunriver home owners a great deal of money and reined in the power of the SROA.

In reprisal, the SROA concocted a plot to silence the civic-minded businessman. This is not a matter of speculation: The key player in that conspiracy, former Sunriver Police Chief Michael Kennedy, has provided an admirably candid summary of that conspiracy in a March 8 letter to the Deschutes County Commission.

Kennedy wrote that letter to file a grievance with the Commission after being fired on February 16 in what he described as an act of retaliation by a corrupt and unaccountable municipal government whose official dealings are as opaque as the proceedings of the North Korean Politburo.

“The Sunriver Owners Association has pressured the Sunriver Police Department as well as me to perform unlawful and unethical acts … which we have refused,” wrote Kennedy. “It is my firm belief that my firing was a direct result of my refusal to act on their unethical requests.”

The conspiracy to railroad Bob Foster on “stalking” charges was prominent among those “unethical” acts to which Kennedy refers.

After growing weary of what was described as Foster’s “unwanted attention,” Kennedy approached the SROA and requested “that Bob Foster be trespassed from the SROA/Police building,” the former Chief recalled. This would mean that Foster wouldn’t be able to attend public SROA meetings, or file a police complaint, without being subject to arrest.

Kennedy’s suggestion, if act on, would have been an act of petty, officious retaliation, but it wasn’t a criminal conspiracy. What the SROA suggested does meet that description.

“After meeting with the board, the SROA board president, Bob Nelson, and Bob Wrightson, who are both also on the Service District board, came to my office and told Sergeant Patnode and I [sic] that they would not be trespassing Bob Foster…. [H]owever, their legal counsel had a better solution….. A short time later, our legal counsel advised that we would be filing a stalking order against Bob Foster…. At the request of legal counsel, I contacted Sergeant Patnode and Officer Kasey Hughes to see if they would be willing to have the stalking orders filed on their behalf. They subsequently agreed and the stalking orders were filed.”

Unfortunately for the SROA, Bob Foster “didn’t immediately roll over,” Kennedy recalls. Instead, he gave notice that he intended to file lawsuits against the SROA and the Service District – which, as Kennedy points out, are essentially the same entity.

“The current management structure of the Sunriver Service District puts entirely too much control in the hands of a small segment of the community,” Kennedy explained to the County Commission. “The end result is that a private home owners association has effective control over the operations and funds of a public taxing district.” (Emphasis added.) That same entrenched cabal uses the Sunriver PD as its enforcement arm and revenue-extraction mechanism.

Seeking to limit the potential damage from the lawsuit, the SROA “appeared to be attempting to withdraw Service District protection from the two officers” it has used to file stalking orders against Foster.

In an executive session, SROA Board President Nelson “said something to the effect of `Why is the Service District financing these stalking orders, when this is clearly a civil matter between these two officers and Bob Foster,” Kennedy recalled. “I reminded him that we had asked those officers if they would be willing to file the stalking orders at the request of legal counsel…. I advised him that if asked, that is how I would have to testify in court. After that, SROA appeared to further distance themselves from the case, even though they were the ones who initially started us down the path of filing the stalking orders.” (Emphasis added.)

In those paragraphs, Kennedy made at least three critical admissions:

*The private SROA, in defiance of conflict-of-interest laws, controls a public taxing district and the police department – just as Bob Foster had predicted it would.

*The stalking case against Foster was instigated by the SROA, with the connivance of the police department; it had nothing to do with any criminal conduct on Foster’s part.

*The SROA and Service District were using funds extracted from Sunriver tax victims to finance its vendetta against Foster.

Kennedy’s final performance evaluation by the SROA commended him for taking the lead “in seeking to support and protect [his] officers when harassment by a stalker reached the point where legal action had to be taken.” The SROA’s assessment of Kennedy changed abruptly after the predictable scene in which the Chief told them, in effect, “If I go down, I’m taking you with me.”

After Kennedy was cashiered, he was reportedly given a severance package of $100,000 – a rather extravagant amount for a minor bureaucrat who managed a tiny police force in a tranquil resort community with a permanent population of fewer than 1,000 people. If the SROA’s intention was to buy off Kennedy, they badly underestimated the price of his silence – and misunderstood the magnitude of his admissions against interest.

Kennedy insists on being reinstated as Sunriver Police Chief. He also demands the resignation of five directors of the SROA, and the disbanding of the special service district. That last demand is another vindication of Bob Foster, who made the same proposal five years ago – thereby provoking the lengthy and expensive campaign of criminal harassment in which Kennedy eagerly participated until it became personally risky to him.

Disbanding the service district is necessary but insufficient. The only adequate remedy would be to add Sunriver, Oregon to the lengthening roster of small towns that have been relieved of the burden of a municipal police department. Chances are, Kind Reader, that the city in which you live would benefit from the same kind of "neglect."

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

Friday, April 27, 2012

Senior London Police officer suspended for 'racially abusing man while off-duty'

By itself this is not a big deal but in a police force alredy engulfed in racist allegations, it adds to the evidence of a body out of all control

The racism crisis engulfing Scotland Yard took a new twist yesterday as a senior officer was suspended for allegedly racially abusing a man while off-duty. A Metropolitan Police inspector was arrested on Tuesday after an incident in Barnet, North London when the off-duty officer apparently swore at an innocent bystander.

The officer has now been suspended from duty while the case is being investigated by the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards. It has also been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

The allegation is the latest to emerge during a month in which Britain’s biggest force has been rocked by accusations of racism.

There are now 12 reports of racism involving 19 officers and a civilian worker under investigation by Scotland Yard and the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

A Met spokesman said: ‘Officers from the Metropolitan Police Service’s Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) are investigating after an alleged racist incident involving an off-duty police officer that occurred at 7.40am on Monday, 23 April in Barnet borough.

‘A serving officer of inspector rank, based in North London, was arrested on Tuesday 24 April by DPS in connection with the incident. ‘The male officer was arrested on suspicion of a Section 4 Public Order Act offence (racially aggravated words or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress). ‘He is at present on police bail and has been suspended from duties pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.’

The news comes just weeks after it was announced that Alex MacFarlane is to be prosecuted for allegedly abusing a suspect.

The PC was said to have been recorded telling a 21-year-old black man he ‘will always be a n*****’ during last summer’s riots.

MacFarlane, a response officer based in Newham, East London, has been suspended from duty since Mauro Demetrio claimed he was abused in the back of a police van on August 10. His recording forced senior officers to confront a backlog of outstanding racism claims within the force.

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

Thursday, April 26, 2012

OH: DNA evidence doesn’t match inmate serving time for murder

New lab test results show that DNA recovered from a murder scene in Summit County didn’t come from an Akron man who has served 17 years of a life sentence for the crime.

Dewey Jones, 50, who has always maintained that he was innocent, predicted during a prison interview last year that DNA testing would show he was not a murderer. Jones was convicted in March of 1995 for robbing and killing 71-year-old Neal Rankin, who was considered a family friend.

“I’ve done some things I’m not proud of in life and made some bad choices," Jones told The Dispatch from the Richland Correctional Institution in Mansfield. “But I’ve not hurt or killed anyone.”

The tests, conducted by DNA Diagnostics Center of Fairfield, north of Cincinnati, found a partial male DNA profile on the piece of rope used to tie Rankin's wrists, the knife used to cut the rope and pieces of Rankin’s shirt sleeves. None of it matched Jones when compared to his DNA.

Attorneys from the Ohio Innocence Project, who are representing Jones, believe the results prove Jones’ innocence and want him set him free.

“This is significant because we know that the perpetrator touched the items revealing the unknown male DNA profile,” said Carrie Wood, Jones’ attorney from the Innocence Project office in Cincinnati. “With DNA test results excluding Dewey Jones, along with other evidence demonstrating Mr. Jones’s innocence, our hope is that the court will overturn Mr. Jones’ conviction.”

Prosecutors from the Ohio Attorney General's office are handling the case. Lisa Peterson Hackley, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Mike DeWine, said prosecutors are reviewing the court filings and DNA test results. They had no other comment.

The test results were filed in court today, and Wood filed motions today asking Summit County Common Pleas Judge Mary Margaret Rowlands to either overturn Jones’ conviction or grant him a new trial. Prosecutors have until late May to respond, and Rowlands is scheduled to rule on the case on July 9.

Jones’ case was highlighted in the Dispatch series “Test of Convictions,” which exposed Ohio's flawed evidence-retention and DNA-testing systems. The 2008 series, which can be found online at, has led to the exoneration of four men and proved the guilt of four others based on DNA testing during the past three years.

The Dispatch reviewed more than 300 cases with the Ohio Innocence Project and highlighted 30 prisoners as prime candidates for testing, including Jones.

As part of the project, attorneys for the Innocence Project then filed Jones’ request for DNA testing, which has been dragging through the court system for more than four years.

Jones, who has prior convictions for drug trafficking and passing bad checks, had known Rankin for years before the victim was shot twice in the head at his home on Feb. 13, 1993. Family members for Rankin couldn’t be reached for comment.

There were no eye-witnesses to the crime and no physical evidence tying Jones to the crime scene. He told police that he was at home and sick on the night of the murder.

But neighbors testified that they saw Jones leaving the victim’s home the day before his body was found. Both of those witnesses originally identified someone else while looking through police evidence, according to court records.

The main witness in the case against Jones was Willie Caton. He told police that while the two men were in jail together, Jones told him the gun recovered by police was not the gun used in the murder and that police would never find the real murder weapon. Caton also said that Jones later confessed to shooting Rankin. Wood said the testimony provided by Caton and others was not credible.

Caton was killed in 2000 after he stole two vehicles, was involved in a high-speed chase with police and then was shot in a confrontation with the authorities.

Jones’ daughter Brittany, 25, of Akron, one of seven children, is hopeful that the DNA testing results mean that she will be reunited with her father at some point this year.

“I was 7 when he was sent to prison and never had a chance for a relationship with him,” Brittany said. “My wish at Christmas was always to have him home, and maybe that will happen this year.”

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

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Law-breaking officials enthrusted with your safety

When Americans enter airports across the country, as millions do every day, they are subject to numerous security measures, administered by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents, to ensure that no contraband is brought on board.

The TSA was created in response to the events of Sep. 11 in order to better screen the contents of passengers’ luggage and clothing and hopefully prevent such a tragic event from happening in the future. This resulted in a large scale augmentation of the security measures and also creating specialized rules for what can and cannot be brought aboard an aircraft.

However those responsible for keeping us safe might also be among those we fear the most. Recently, a TSA agent in Dallas-Fort Worth Airport was suspended indefinitely because he was found guilty in the thefts of several iPads from his assigned terminal.

While this behavior is certainly abhorrent, what is more disconcerting is that this man is responsible for the safety and security of thousands of people every day and apparently cannot help his insatiable attraction to Apple products. Who’s to say this distraction doesn’t prevent him from analyzing luggage and items properly, and thus preventing him from doing his job adequately.

In addition, because he is motivated by greed, what is to stop him from taking a bribe from someone who prefers not to be searched? An iPad, cash, or perhaps the latest Kindle model are apparently enough for someone to forgo their duty to protect American citizens, so is that really the kind of person we want to trust with our airport security?

And not to be overshadowed by this national organization, the D.C. Transit Police force has engaged in some pretty despicable behavior as well lately. Earlier this year, a member of the body was arrested by an undercover posing as a prostitute, when he approached her and propositioned her for sex on Rhode Island Avenue in downtown D.C. Acquiring a prostitute appears to be a little-known requirement for keeping our Metro safe and secure. Perhaps it’s a top secret rule.

Additionally, another member of D.C. Metro Transit’s finest was arrested earlier this year for stealing over $100,000 from the meters during his shift. This complete disregard for the job was discovered by a clerk at a gas station in Woodbridge, VA, who noticed that over a period of three years the same D.C. Metro officer came in and bought lottery tickets. This would have been par for the course at this location except this man only came late at night, and always paid in coins. Over the course of three years, this man spent over $28k on his gambling habits, and his bank account only yielded more evidence of his theft from the city.

But these misguided officers weren’t the only ones who colored outside the lines of morality. Several of the cops entrusted with the safety of the DC/MD/VA Metrorail system are multiple felons, according to a recent report by the Washington Times. They have rap sheets that would make Jesse James look like a choir boy, and yet they are given weapons and multi-jurisdictional authority over people’s lives. They control miles and miles of shoddily-maintained rail lines that fail more often than not, and all the while they engage in behavior that would get you fired from McDonald’s, and for some reason they get put in charge?

It is severe abuses of power such as these that should give Americans pause before they blindly trust someone with their safety, whether it be on the streets or while coasting through the air to another destination. These agencies are put in place for the sole purpose of protecting the people, and yet still manage to look out for their own interests above all else.

The only solution is to punish these offenders to the fullest extent of the law, and also for authorities to be more aware of who they are hiring, and whether or not they are likely to break the law.

Original report here

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

When the "war on drugs" met a man who wanted to "live free or die"

Like Prohibition, the war on drugs has generated great evils

It’s made national news by now, and so the information I’m getting is from the Washington Post: Apparently, around 6 p.m. on April 12th, members of the New Hampshire Drug Task Force went to serve a search warrant on Cullen Mutrie of Greenland. They were ostensibly searching for steroids, and if they found any in Mutrie’s home, presumably planned to arrest him (and quite likely his live-in girlfriend), put him (them) in a cage somewhere, and file felony charges. But things didn’t quite turn out like that.

When they arrived at Mutrie’s home, they were met with armed resistance. As a result of several fired shots, the chief of Greenfield Police Department, Michael Maloney – a bureaucrat with about a week to go until retirement – was killed. Four other cops were wounded, two of them seriously. Of course, the government’s armed enforcers went predictably berserk: At least four other local police departments responded to the original raid team’s frantic cries for help, along with a New Hampshire State Police SWAT team -- and even the FBI – all toting assault rifles. Attempts were made to speak with Mutrie, but he soon went silent. Meanwhile, elsewhere, traffic was being re-routed as far away as I-95, and some government agency or other actually brought a military-style Bearcat armored vehicle to the scene.

Around 2 a.m., some cops pitched a small robot vehicle mounted with a camera through one of Multrie’s windows, trying to get a glance at what was going on inside the house. What the robot caught on video were the dead bodies of Mutrie and his girlfriend. The police and medical examiner later confirmed that both had died of gunshot wounds. At the time of this writing, it’s unclear whether their deaths came as the result of a double-suicide or a murder-suicide – according to bureaucrats, that is. I suspect there remains more than just the ghost of a chance that return fire on the part of the original cops may have had some role to play. Time will tell.

From all accounts, Cullen Mutrie was no angel. From the seven years he lived in Greenland, neighbors tell a tale of a noisy, argumentative person who routinely got into shouting matches with his girlfriend in the wee hours, often outside for all the rest of the wanting-to-sleep residents to hear. He was once arrested on domestic assault charges – although apparently never convicted. And he also had a history of steroid use. Steroids, if used regularly and in high enough doses, can lead to “’roid rage” – or, a chemically induced state of violent anger. This may explain Mutrie’s decision to defend himself with such uncompromising zeal. Then again, it might not. In fact, it might’ve just been that, like Carl Drega before him, Mutrie had just simply had enough.

This we will never know – Mutrie (and perhaps his girlfriend) – took that knowledge to their graves. But this much we can and do know: The cops who sought to invade Mutrie’s home, confiscate his property, kidnap him, cage him, and then attempt to have him kept in a cage for a much longer time – only to one day depart with indelible blemishes on his record that would affect his ability to stay gainfully employed, among other things, for the rest of his days – did so, and wished to continue doing so, all with money taken from the general public collectively under an equal threat of violence. In other words, try not paying taxes to finance such obscene shenanigans, and see if you don’t eventually end up in much the same situation as Mutrie did.

Further, there’s this: I never knew Mutrie – probably you never did either. Maybe the guy was a total jerk, maybe not. I don’t know, and never will. But I do know that even if he was an argumentative SOB who loved to take and sell steroids or whatever else, he didn’t deserve to have happen to him what I just described above. And he most certainly didn’t deserve to have it done to him at our forcefully extracted expense. Had he simply been left alone, three people would now still be alive, four others would never have had to visit the hospital, and a whole lot of our money wouldn’t have been wasted down the government rathole.

But as for Mutrie himself, we might do well to remember John Stark’s quote from 1809: “Live Free or Die.” It’s still the New Hampshire motto, although it should appear obvious by now that it is just that: a quaint saying, an anachronism from another time obscenely touted by government – the very institution that makes a mockery of it in everything it does.

And again, we’ll never know for sure, but it might’ve just been that Cullen Mutrie still thought it meant something.

Original report here

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Debtor’s Prison for Failure to Pay for Your Own Trial

Debtor’s prisons are supposed to be illegal in the United States but today poor people who fail to pay even small criminal justice fees are routinely being imprisoned. The problem has gotten worse recently because strapped states have dramatically increased the number of criminal justice fees. In Pennsylvania, for example, the criminal court charges for police transport, sheriff costs, state court costs, postage, and “judgment.” Many of these charges are not for any direct costs imposed by the criminal but have been added as revenue enhancers. A $5 fee, for example, supports the County Probation Officers’ Firearms Training Fund, an $8 fee supports the Judicial Computer Project, a $250 fee goes to the DNA Detection Fund. Convicted criminals may face dozens of fees (not including fines and restitution) totaling a substantial burden for people of limited means. Fees do not end outside the courtroom. Jailed criminals can be charged for room and board and for telephone use, haircuts, drug tests, transportation, booking, and medical co-pays. In Arizona, visitors to a prison are now charged a $25 maintenance fee. In PA in order to get parole there is a mandatory charge of $60. While on parole, defendants may be further assessed counseling, testing and other fees. Interest builds unpaid fees larger and larger. In Washington state unpaid legal debt accrues at an interest rate of 12%. As a result, the median person convicted in WA sees their criminal justice debt grow larger over time.

Many states are now even charging the accused to apply for and use a public defender! As a result, some defendants are discouraged from exercising their rights to an attorney.

Most outrageously, in some states public defender, pre-trial jail and other court fees can be assessed on individuals even when they are not convicted of any crime. Failure to pay criminal justice fees can result in revocation of an individual’s drivers license, arrest and imprisonment. Individuals with revoked licenses who drive (say to work to earn money to pay their fees) and are apprehended can be further fined and imprisoned. Unpaid criminal justice debt also results in damaged credit reports and reduced housing and employment prospects. Furthermore, failure to pay fees can mean a violation of probation and parole terms which makes an individual ineligible for Federal programs such as food stamps, Temporary Assistance to Needy Family funds and Social Security Income for the elderly and disabled.

It’s difficult to argue against criminal justice fees for those who can pay, but for those who cannot– and most criminal defendants are poor–such fees can be a personal and public policy disaster. Criminal justice debt drags people further away from reintegration with civil society. A person’s life can spiral out of their control when interest, late fees, revocation of a driver’s license and ineligibility for public assistance, mean that unpaid criminal justice debt snowballs. You can’t get blood from a stone but if you try, you can break the stone.

Optimal punishment is swift and sure but also has a defined endpoint. As with bankruptcy, punishment must end, leaving both hope and opportunity. We used to release criminals without a nickel or a nail but with an understanding that their debt to society had been paid. Today, we release criminals with a ball of debt and other restrictions that chains them to the criminal justice system and which can pull them back into prison long after their sentences have been served. Releasing people with little hope or opportunity for reintegration with civil society is good for neither the releasees nor society.

Original report here

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Heicklen vindicated

The next time the 80-year-old retired chemistry professor takes his protest to the plaza outside the federal courthouse in Manhattan, he may make it home without being locked up.

A federal judge on Thursday ordered the dismissal of an indictment against the professor, Julian P. Heicklen, who had been charged with jury tampering for advocating the controversial position known as jury nullification while outside the courthouse.

Mr. Heicklen had repeatedly stood with a “Jury Info” sign and handed out brochures supporting nullification, the view that jurors who disagree with a law may ignore their oaths and vote to acquit a defendant accused of violating it.

Prosecutors said such advocacy, “directed as it is to jurors, would be both criminal and without constitutional protections no matter where it occurred.”

But the judge, Kimba M. Wood of Federal District Court, wrote that a person violated the jury tampering statute only when he or she knowingly tried to influence a juror’s decision through a written communication “made in relation to a specific case pending before that juror.”

Judge Wood added that she would not “stretch the interpretation” of the statute to cover speech that was “not meant to influence” a juror’s actions in a specific case.

Mr. Heicklen expressed pleasure at the ruling. “Not just for me,” he said. “I think it’s a major decision for the country.” He added: “This is better than having them throw me in jail.”

Mr. Heicklen had contended that he did not try to influence specific jurors; rather, he handed out brochures to anyone who passed by, hoping jurors were among them.

Mr. Heicklen, who acted as his own lawyer, was assisted by two lawyers, Sabrina Shroff and Steven M. Statsinger of the federal defender’s office. Ms. Shroff said she was pleased by the ruling. “The right to speech is just so fundamental,” she said.

Prosecutors declined to comment on the ruling. In a hearing last month, a prosecutor called Mr. Heicklen’s advocacy “a significant and important threat to our judicial system.”

Judge Wood made it clear that the indictment could be dismissed merely on a reading of the plain language of the statute, which refers to trying to influence a juror through “written communication” in relation to an “issue or matter pending” before the juror.

By taking that approach, the judge avoided First Amendment questions raised in the case, said Rachel E. Barkow, a law professor at New York University, who has written about nullification. “I don’t think sensible prosecutors should have even brought this case,” Ms. Barkow said, adding that Judge Wood had rejected “the government’s broader reading because it would arguably chill protected speech.”

Christopher Dunn, associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said the ruling freed Mr. Heicklen to resume his activities outside the courthouse, at 500 Pearl Street.

“But it has a much broader impact,” he said, “because there are people all around the country who do exactly what he was doing, and under this ruling they will no longer face the threat of prosecution.”

Original report here

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

London Metropolitan Police facing new race claim by black firefighter 'assaulted and Tasered by six officers because of skin colour'

Scotland Yard is facing another case of alleged racism after a black firefighter claimed he was assaulted and tasered by a group of police officers because of his skin colour.

Edric Kennedy-Macfoy, 28, also says he was insulted and arrested without good cause when he went to assist the six policemen while they were dealing with a disturbance last year.

The firefighter, who was off duty at the time of the alleged incident, has lodged an official complaint against the force which is being investigated by both the MPS Directorate of Professional Standards and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

The complaint is the 10th case involving alleged racism to be referred to the official police watchdog in the last three weeks.

Mr Kennedy-Macfoy claims he was driving through Harrow in north London during the early hours of September 4 last year when he spotted a youth throw a rock at a police van.

But, according to the complaint, as reported in The Guardian, when Mr Kennedy-Macfoy tried to give the van driver a description of the offender, he did not let him speak and replied 'F*** off you p****.'

He says he then stopped his car and approached a group of officers, who were dispersing a group of partygoers from a property in Harrow View, to inform them.

However, the firefighter claims he was insulted by the policemen, which included an inspector, sergeant, detective constable and two constables from Harrow borough, before being detained without good cause.

He alleged officers behaved like 'wild animals' and swore at him. He also claimed some officers dragged him from his car and launched a violent attack on him. Mr Kennedy-Macfoy also claims he was assaulted during his arrest before being tasered.

He was later charged with obstructing police, but found not guilty following a trial at Brent Magistrates’ Court in February.

The firefighter originally issued a complaint against the six officers shortly after the incident. But the force did not launch a misconduct investigation because criminal proceedings against Mr Kennedy-Macfoy were on-going.

However, his solicitor sent a further complaint letter outlining the precise details of the alleged incident last week.

A Met Police spokesman confirmed officers had shut down a noisy party of more than 200 people on the day of the alleged incident. 'Some of those attending became hostile towards police and threw bottles and bricks at officers. Four police officers received minor injuries caused by missiles thrown at them,' he added.

'A man arrived at the scene by car and approached officers on the cordon. He was subsequently tasered. He did not require medical treatment.'

The force confirmed it had received a complaint against the conduct of six officers during the incident.

It alleged that 'officers arrested and detained a 28-year-old man without good cause, assaulted him during the arrest, that the officers were insulting and the way in which he was treated was motivated by factors relating to race', the Met said.

The Met spokesman confirmed the MPS Directorate of Professional Standards is investigating the incident, which was also automatically referred to the IPCC as a taser was discharged. The Met said it was taking the allegations 'extremely seriously'.

None of the officers, which also included a constable from the Diplomatic Protection Group and officers from black and ethnic backgrounds, have been suspended or restricted.

There are now 12 separate allegations of racism by Met officers under investigation by Scotland Yard and the IPCC.

They include the case of Pc Alex MacFarlane, 52, who will face criminal charges after being accused of racially abusing a suspect during last summer’s riots.

The alleged incident was recorded on a mobile phone. He will appear before magistrates in May charged with a public order offence.

Original report here

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Amazing double trial by vindictive British social workers

Social workers refuse to accept initial court verdict and force the the case into the High Court -- case thrown out twice

A young couple effectively twice cleared by courts of shaking their baby boy to death last night called for an inquiry into their treatment after they won a landmark legal battle to prove their innocence.

Rohan Wray, 22, and his partner Chana al-Alas, 19, were cleared last December after a judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to convict them of killing Jayden Wray.

The four-month-old boy, who had died from severe head injuries, was found to be suffering rickets, which causes weak bones and was given as an explanation for his injuries. The baby's condition, which is caused by a vitamin D deficiency, would have led him to have weak bones, including a weak skull, and could have led to a series of fractures.

The couple walked free from the Old Bailey after being cleared of murder and causing or allowing the death of Jayden, after they were initially arrested for grievous bodily harm in 2009.

But they later faced allegations over the child’s death in the civil family courts in an action brought by the local authority.

Their daughter, Jayda, had been in the care of the local authority since her birth in October 2010, at a time when her parents were still facing criminal charges relating to her brother. The local council refused to return Jayda because social services remained convinced her parents may have been responsible for her brother’s death.

The couple then endured a four-week hearing at the High Court during which the same accusations were levelled at them.

In a landmark ruling made public on Thursday, they proved their innocence for a second time and had their toddler daughter returned to them earlier this month after nearly 18 months.

Legal experts said their case would transform the way in which so-called shaken-baby cases were treated by the courts.

Sitting at the court’s Family Division in London, Mrs Justice Theis ruled that the allegations made against them had not been proved. Care proceedings in relation to Jayda have been dismissed and she has returned to live with her parents.

"I am aware that some of the medical issues considered in this case have generated debate, both within and outside the medical arena,” she said. “Despite the parents’ youth and the fact the pregnancy was unplanned, Jayden was very much a wanted baby.”

The couple’s extraordinary case can be reported for the first time after a judge lifted restrictions preventing the couple from speaking publicly about their protracted battle in the family courts to win back their child.

On Thursday night the couple, from Islington, north London, called for an inquiry into their “agonising” treatment at the hands of social services, the NHS and the police. “There are medical staff who we believe should be disciplined at an inquiry,” Mr Wray told the Daily Mail. “I think these medical experts who judge parents are dangerous people. They base much of what they say on opinion rather than fact.

"We feel we were treated very poorly by the state authorities involved in investigating our case. We were viewed as guilty from the outset." His partner added: “The doctors and the police made allegations against us without any real proof.”

Jayden was found to have brain damage and multiple fractures after he was taken to Great Ormond Street Hospital in July 2009 after he began suffering seizures and refusing to feed.

His life support machine was switched off three days after admission. His parents maintained their innocence, saying Jayden had rickets and his collapse was due to "natural causes".

They were cleared after more than 60 prosecution and defence medical experts disagreed on the cause of death.

The prosecution offered no evidence on the murder charge and not guilty verdicts were returned. Judge Stephen Kramer QC ruled that the charge of causing or allowing the death of a child should be discontinued.

But the High Court case brought by Islington Council was that Jayden had "died as a result of inflicted trauma caused to him whilst in the care of the parents". It was further alleged that he suffered "a number of fractures that, despite having rickets, were caused by non-accidental injury".

At the centre of the issue was an increasingly bitter dispute between different medical experts, who disputed which combinations of injuries should be used to infer abuse.

The local authority had relied on the "medical evidence of fact and opinion to undermine the credibility of the parents".

In Thursday's judgment, Mrs Justice Theis ruled: "The issues surrounding vitamin D deficiency have dominated this hearing. "Evidence has been given that it is on the increase, leading possibly to an increase in congenital rickets. "The identification of it is not easily done, as this case so graphically demonstrated."

She said the case had generated a considerable amount of publicity at the time of the criminal trial. "I am aware that some of the medical issues considered in this case have generated debate, both within and outside the medical arena," she said.

"It is important to remember that my conclusions are entirely related to this case. Despite their differences of opinion, all the medical experts agree this case is extremely complex.

"By their very nature, cases such as this are very fact-specific and great caution should be adopted in using any conclusions I reach to support any wider views outside the very specific facts of this case."

Outside court Ann Thompson, of law firm Goodman Ray and who acted for Ms Al-Alas in the family case, said the judgment would "make a huge difference to future cases". "It is historic and it will make courts assess the issue of vitamin D deficiency much more carefully," she said.

"It is an important judgment, especially given the proliferation of vitamin D deficiency in this country at the moment and the lack of research on the implications of this, which is an area of research that the judge has strongly encouraged.

"Nothing is as sad as the death of a child. But for these parents, the nightmare went on and on."

Islington Council declined to comment.

Original report here

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

More on the charging power

First from Glenn Reynolds, who throws out one proposal for reform:
That “absolute immunity,” by the way, is entirely a judicial creation and — except, I suppose for absolute judicial immunity — as overweening an example of “judicial activism” as you’ll ever find, though this is seldom noted. If such immunity is to exist, it should be legislatively arrived at, not the product of judicial fiat.

Personally, I think that overcharging should cost prosecutors something. How about this — the state is on the hook for a pro-rata share of defendant’s legal expenses based on the number of offenses charged, but not convicted. Charge with 20 crimes, convict on 2, you pay 90% of the defendant’s legal fees.

Or maybe it should be based on years: Charges adding up to a maximum penalty of 100 years; actual sentence, 1 year. Government pays 99%. What do you think? I think that we need more oversight of prosecutors, and since I have little faith that the legal establishment will provide it, I’m looking for structural ways to give them skin in the game.

I think defendants should definitely be reimbursed for legal fees any time they’re acquitted. Or to be honest, any time they’re charged and never convicted. They should probably be compensated for any time they spent in jail awaiting trial in those cases, too. They certainly should be compensated in cases where there’s both prosecutorial misconduct and there was never a conviction. As I understand it, that’s supposed to be how the federal system works, but it doesn’t usually happen that way.

Absolute Immunity is just insanity. And as Reynolds points out, we only have it by way of SCOTUS fiat, a point it was amusing to see former Bush Solicitor General Paul Clement make to Justices Roberts and Alito during oral arguments in the most recent immunity case. At the very least, prosecutors should be subject to civil suits when they actually break the law.

New York criminal defense attorney Scott Greenfield, who is probably one the few people more cynical about this stuff than I am, also weighs in with the gloomy but probably observation that even if some reform were to pass, it’s unlikely that it would be enforced. After detailing how the system is supposed to work in theory, Greenfield opines:
The problem with this very nice, very sanitary discussion is that the process doesn’t necessarily happen this way. Radley attributes this to a need or a higher burden before subjecting a person to the rest of the ride (since courts have refused to do much of anything to eliminate the first 24 hours or so of hell, from arrest to arraignment). I have little faith in amorphous legal standards to begin with, and am firmly of the view that all the players in the system can ignore a higher standard just as easily as it ignores a lower one.

Not that I have anything against a higher burden before subjecting a person to the nightmare of prosecution, but the fundamental problem with the system as it currently works is that it relies on each of the players faithfully performing the duties of their office. Until that happens, and happens in every case, the system fails. No standard, no matter how clear or vague, high or low, is going to make a system work when those charged with protecting people from baseless prosecution close their eyes and pass their responsibility down the line.

I think he’s probably right. But if I may be so naive as to posit at least a flickering bright spot in all of this gloom, I do think public opinion on these issues is changing. The great work the Innocence Project is doing to shed light on the problems in the criminal justice system is having an impact. We’ve seen a few cases now where bad prosecutors have been voted out, or at least faced tough reelection challenges. In Colorado, two prosecutors who hid exculpatory evidence in an innocence case had actually gone on to become judges when voters recalled them in the 2010 election. So I think there’s merit in continuing to draw attention to these issues, and to highlight cases that illustrate where the system goes wrong.

But that’s kinda’ what I get paid to do. So grain of salt, and all of that.

Original report here

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How Many Crimes Did These Cops Commit?

I lost count about halfway through.
A Montgomery County sheriff’s deputy is accused of using his badge and gun to force a repo man to give him his wife’s truck back.

“I’m trying to make an honest living,” repo man Brenton Huff told KPRC Local 2 investigator Amy Davis. “I shouldn’t have to worry about being shot, especially by police.”

Huff was hired to repossess a 2007 Chevrolet Silverado from Tammy Berkley. The lender told him she was four months behind on her payments. Huff said he spotted the truck in Conroe on March 15. He followed it, ironically, to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department Auto Theft Task Force office. When the driver went in, Huff went to work.

“I just backed up to it, hooked up and pulled it down the street,” Huff explained.

The wrecker driver says he pulled into a parking lot at the jail to call the sheriff’s office and report the repossession, a routine procedure. Seconds after he drove away, Huff said three cars pulled up alongside him, boxing in his wrecker. The cars were unmarked, the men in civilian clothes, but Huff says they all had guns pointing right at him.

“I really thought I was gonna get shot right then,” Huff told Davis. “I had my hands up here on the window so they could see them. The officer was yelling at me. He said, ‘That’s my wife’s truck.’”

That officer was Keith Winford, a Montgomery County Sheriff’s detective, who Local 2 confirmed, is married to Tammy Berkley. Winford was accompanied by three to four other deputies.

“He just grabbed me out, slammed me up against the truck right here,” said Huff.

The deputies put Huff in handcuffs. He says Winford drove his tow truck back to the sheriff’s office. After holding him for about 15 minutes, he demanded the repo man release his wife’s truck.

“Once I unhooked it, he told me ‘Get out of here.’ And then he told me if he catches me in his driveway, he’s gonna shoot me,” Huff recounted.

Certainly the DA is on the case, right?
When we called the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, first Assistant District Attorney Phil Grant told Local 2 the Texas Rangers are investigating the incident . . .

Grant said it’s possible the detectives thought Huff was stealing the truck.

Riiiiiight. Because because if you’re a car thief, you naturally use a big honking conspicuous tow truck. And you target the cars parked in the lot next to the Sheriff’s Department Auto Theft Task Force.

It gets better.
A week after the interview with Grant, he said Winford and the other deputies are claiming that Huff put an illegal tracking device on the truck. Huff denies that allegation. The detectives say they gave it back to Huff, so they have no proof of the tracking device.

Awfully nice of them, wasn’t it? The guy puts an illegal tracking device on the truck that belongs to a cop’s wife, and when they find it, they just give it back to him. No arrest, no charges. I mean, the alternative is that they’re lying through their teeth to cover up for the fact that they acted like a bunch of thugs, broke about a dozen laws, and pointed their guns at a guy who just doing his job.

Original report here

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pakistani policeman who lost wife after he was jailed for crime he didn't commit gets £850,000 compensation after being framed by 'racist' British colleagues

Once again it takes a civil prosecution to expose police misbehaviour. Expecting police to discipline their own is a VERY long shot

An Asian policeman who was jailed after being framed by colleagues won £841,000 in compensation yesterday. Sultan Alam, 49, said his reputation had now been restored following an 18-year fight for justice that wrecked his career, two marriages and his health.

The traffic officer's ordeal began when he lodged an employment tribunal claim, accusing Cleveland police force of racism.

In November 1994, just months before his claim was due to be heard, he was arrested by the brother-in-law of one of the senior officers he had complained about.

He was then charged with handling stolen goods by colleagues who 'stitched him up' because of his race claim. His trial for 'car ringing' in 1996 ended with his conviction and an 18-month jail sentence, half of which he served behind bars.

Once free, he found work as a taxi driver and began the long battle to clear his name. In 2007 he was exonerated when the Court of Appeal quashed his conviction. It found that serving police officers deliberately suppressed evidence that could have cleared his name.

The men Mr Alam accused of framing him were taken to court in 2004 following an investigation by a neighbouring police force. Although four officers were charged with offences including conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, the case collapsed and they were acquitted.

Mr Alam pursued a civil case against the Cleveland force, and its chief constable was forced to admit to malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office.

At Leeds County Court yesterday, Judge Andrew Keyser QC announced the award, which was a combination of damages and compensation for future earnings. Mr Alam said he had faced what seemed like 'insurmountable odds' in his battle to clear his name and seek justice.

Asked about the size of the payout, the father of two said: 'To me it's just a number. It was never about the money. It's about the principle. It's about what's right.

'All that it will do is ensure that my future is financially secure and my children's future is secure, but that would have happened anyway if I had been allowed to continue with my career.'

In his judgment published in January, Judge Keyser said: 'He was the deliberate target of a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, the aim of which was to destroy his reputation and his career.'

After being cleared in 2007, Mr Alam was reinstated and briefly returned to police uniform before retiring two years later on health grounds. He said yesterday he still hoped to work in some form of public service.

He separated from his wife in 2002 as a result of the turmoil of the case and a second marriage failed under the same pressures and because of his resulting psychiatric illness.

Mr Alam, a policeman's son who came to England from Pakistan when he was eight, said he did not believe Cleveland Police had changed culturally.

Original report here

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Monday, April 16, 2012

No clear title? Then choose between your liberty and your property

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected Damon Louis’s appeal of a federal district court’s summary judgment for the government. The district court determined that Louis lacked standing to challenge the forfeiture action of the $133,420 seized from his rented automobile, after Louis was stopped for allegedly failing to use his traffic signal. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals appears to have made several mistakes including citing inapposite passages.

Perhaps simply confused, the effect of the appellate court’s ruling would seem to create situations wherein private property can be permanently confiscated from private citizens who aver ownership interest unless they waive protections against self-incrimination and answer expansive interrogatories-without any adjudication on the merits of the seizure. The framework would seem to permit the government to wield Article III standing challenges as a weapon designed to put the private citizen in the untenable position of having to sacrifice one constitutional right to maintain another.
Either it compels privileged information (by precluding citizens from exerting a constitutional right against compulsory self-incrimination -on pain of losing access to adjudicate actual violations of legally protected interests that are redressable by the court);

or, it forces the citizen to involuntarily cede property interest without adjudication (by precluding citizens from any access to the courts to rule on the impropriety of the taking-on pain of crimination).

The appellate court seems so untroubled by this result that it was willing to quote inapposite passages, ignore logic, and to jettison core constitutional principles to get there.

Yet, nothing-in the statutes or the supplemental rules-requires this result.

The court has gone out of its way to construe the statutes, supplemental advisory notes, and supplemental rules in a way that is abhorrent to the Constitution. It then sanctions the abhorrence.

That is simply terrifying.

To be deprived of something you must have it in the first place.

Damon Louis had property. The property was taken from him.

The seizure occurred after Arizona Department of Public Safety Officer Mace Craft executed a stop pursuant to an alleged failure to signal. Craft asked Louis if the vehicle contained large amounts of currency. The complaint indicates that Louis denied that a large amount of currency was in the vehicle. Officer Craft asked for permission to search the vehicle. Louis declined. Officer Craft indicated that he was going to have his K9 Unit Dog, Gabby, conduct a K9 olfactory search:
Officer Craft walked Gabby to the front of the vehicle and gave her the command to search. Gabby began working around the vehicle in a counterclockwise direction. She worked down the driver’s side before reversing direction. Gabby worked around the front of the vehicle and upon reaching the passenger side front tire, Officer Craft noticed a distinct change in Gabby’s behavior consistent with her working the odor of controlled substances. Gabby put her muzzle in the wheel well and immediately became very focused and excited. Gabby remained in this area and subsequently alerted by scratching. Officer Craft rewarded Gabby with her burlap toy and returned her to his patrol vehicle. Officer Craft advised Louis of the positive alert and informed him that he had probable cause to search the vehicle.-June 5th, 2009 Verified Complaint For Forfeiture In Rem

Officer Craft searched the Louis’s vehicle. In the trunk, Craft found two boxes containing decorative rocks. A third box contained a set of knives and $133,420 in United States currency. No inherently illegal contraband was found. Officer Craft seized the cash and transported Louis to an AZ DPS office. A search of Louis’s person revealed a receipt for the purchase of a set of knives time stamped from earlier that day. The receipt appears to be a receipt for the knives found in the trunk of Louis’s rental. The officers conducted a second K9 olfactory search at the AZ DPS. The Complaint states that Gabby, again, appeared to give a positive alert for the currency.
Upon arrival at the AZDPS office, Officer Gerard removed the three boxes from the trunk of the vehicle driven by LOUIS and placed them approximately fifteen feet apart in the parking lot. Officer Craft removed Gabby from his patrol vehicle and gave her the command to search. Gabby sniffed the first box and continued on to the second box. Gabby placed her muzzle in the seam of the second box and immediately became very excited and began biting and scratching at the second box. Officer Craft rewarded Gabby with her burlap toy and returned her to his patrol vehicle. The box Gabby alerted to the second box which contained the U.S. currency.-June 5th, 2009 Verified Complaint For Forfeiture In Rem

Louis was detained and questioned. Louis refused to sign any forms disclaiming ownership of the currency. The officers released Louis-less his cell phones and $133,420 in US currency.

So at this point, you have a search and seizure on a probable cause theory. The complaint implies that the search failed to turn up what it was looking for…i.e. the dog did not find what it was supposedly trained to find. Additionally, it did not find what the complaint alleges that it was being used to find. Officer Craft employed the dog to conduct a search for drugs. No drugs were found. The dog found the currency. They repeated a test and the dog, again, found the currency but no drugs. So, unless they were searching for currency, their search did not find anything that it was particularized to find. One could argue that since the dog gave a positive “drug” sniff to the currency; the currency is, at minimum, seizable evidence on the theory that it had drug residue. That is a theory. However, more than 80% of publicly tendered US currency has drug residue. It is not reasonable to permit the seizure of currency that has drug residue, because it has drug residue, in a country where more than 80% of the publicly tendered currency has drug residue. We would not have any workable system for publicly tendering currency. The currency would be worthless. Further, the frequency of drug residue and the frequency with which currency is tendered would seem to defenestrate any scienter theory-absent some other showing.

In any event, Louis has a plausible arguments to make challenges concerning the taking of the currency. It might not win, but it should be litigable. If he wants to invoke the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, he needn’t rely on any of his own testimony to make arguments concerning harms that are ordinarily justiciable.

Relying only the government’s in rem complaint, Louis can show many things.

The police searched Louis’s rented automobile without his permission. The police seized $133,420 and the cell phones that were in his possession. They handcuffed him. They detained him. They questioned him. Louis refused to sign a form disclaiming ownership of the currency. The police found the currency stored in the trunk of his rental, in a box which also held knives for which he had a receipt. The receipt was taken from his person. The police search of his vehicle did not reveal any contraband. The dog was supposedly trained to search for drugs. It was supposedly searching for drugs. It found no drugs. It found currency. The police repeated the exercise outside of the vehicle and the dog again found currency but no drugs. The searches, seizures, detentions, and initiation of forfeiture action were directly caused by police conduct. The in rem complaint also states, “[o]n March 9, 2009, Damon J. Louis, through his attorney David M. Michael, filed a claim for the defendant currency with the Drug Enforcement Administration.” The government’s in rem complaint establishes that these actions took place independent of any entered testimony by Louis.

The court could, if so inclined, redress the situation with a favorable judgment to Louis (returning the currency, fees, and possibly awarding damages). Louis is the party that had his rights most violated. And, the court is in the best position to make Louis whole again. That a regulatory, statutory, and judicial process exists to process such claims implies that this would be the best avenue to handle such claims.

Louis filed a claim for the currency on March 9, 2009. The government initiated an in rem civil forfeiture proceeding on June 5th, 2009; pursuant to 21 U.S.C. §881(a)(6) and 18 U.S.C. § 981(a)(1)(C). In August of 2009, Louis filed a verified claim. Louis’s verified claim stated, “[t]he undersigned hereby claims an ownership and/or a possessory interest in, and the right to exercise dominion and control over, all or part of the defendant property.”

In October, 2009, the government served Louis with a series of special interrogatories, document production requests, and admission requests-pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Rule G(6) of Supplemental Rules for Certain Admiralty or Maritime Claims. The requests sought “information and documents relating to Louis’s identity, his claimed interest in the defendant property, his manner of acquiring that interest, his sources of income, and his and the currency’s relationship to drug trafficking.”

Louis asserted that he had litigable interest in the property. Louis asserted that the property was taken without probable cause. He made a motion which would compel the adjudication of the establishment of probable cause. In response to the interrogatory questions, Louis invoked Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination in answering questions beyond confirmation of his identity (addresses, telephone numbers, names, identity numbers, et cetera) and a direct statement about his relationship to the property: “Without waiving said objections, my interest in the defendant property is as the owner and possessor of said property, with a right to exercise dominion and control over said property.”

More here

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Heicklen case: Free speech threatens “justice”

In an ongoing jury tampering case (libertarians call it a jury rights case) a government lawyer "vigorously defended the prosecution" of libertarian activist Julian Heicklen because his advocacy for jury nullification is a "significant threat" to the "integrity" of the judicial system.

Heicklen was charged with jury tampering for standing in front of the Manhattan courthouse and distributing Fully Informed Jury Association pamphlets that confirm a jury's right to judge the law as well as the facts.

According to an AP article, Assistant US Attorney Rebecca Mermelstein's position is that in this case Heicklen has no First Amendment free speech rights. "It's the content of the message that's undermining the fairness of the legal system in this courthouse," Mermelstein argued. "It's a significant threat." The judge has yet to rule.

Mermelstein's position, in short, is that Heicklen's free speech rights interfere with the American judicial system, a legalistic racket designed to reward the major players while reducing defendants to pawns.

On the government side, successfully prosecuting and imprisoning as many people as possible moves lifetime bureaucrats like Mermelstein up their career ladders and into position where they can vie for judgeships or run for political office, all at taxpayer expense.

On the defense side, court cases serve as Broadway stages for the lawyering classes where they can make headlines and photo ops and book deals and talk show appearances while simultaneously fattening their egos and their bank accounts.

Noting the "Golden Rule of Bureaucracies," as libertarians do, that all bureaucracies exist primarily to benefit those who run the bureaucracy, it's clear that Mermelstein is fighting to preserve the establishment's status quo insider judicial scam that used to be optimistically identified as "a search for justice."

Heicklen, for his part, had long worked toward instigating a jury trial that would force the legalcrats to argue the very concept of jury nullification in open court. Little surprise then that judge Kimba Wood moved early to preserve his own package of courtroom powers and privileges by denying a jury trial.

Mermelstein was right about one thing. Free speech is a "significant threat" to the establishment's legal game. As Darren Wolfe of the International Libertarian commented at the end of the Wall Street Journal article, "Of course the judges and prosecutors hate nullification. There might actually be some justice coming out of the "justice" system if people start practicing it!"

Original report here

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Denver PD

“I always thought police were nothing but good and were there to protect people,” testifies Elizabeth Polak, a registered nurse from Phoenix. Her view of the State’s enforcement caste changed dramatically as a result of what she witnessed in Denver on the evening of March 25, 2008.

Polak, returning to her apartment following her daily jog, saw a man and a woman having an unremarkable conversation near the entrance to the building. Two police officers appeared – a development always pregnant with trouble – and approached the couple. From a distance of about 100 feet, Polak saw the officers stride purposefully toward the man, who was later identified as James Moore.

“The officers did not stop and have a conversation with Mr. Moore,” she later recounted in a sworn affidavit. “The officers walked up to him and instantaneously punched Mr. Moore. Prior to being punched, there was no resistance or non-cooperation on his part. Mr. Moore was not given the chance to comply with any orders, if any were given. It appeared that the police were on a mission to walk up to Mr. Moore and punch him.”

Shocked and terrified by the assault on Moore, the woman – his girlfriend, Julie Gomez – repeatedly exclaimed: “You have the wrong people!” Moore, who had been knocked to the ground, did what he could to avoid or deflect the blows directed at him by the assailants.

The attack on Moore “appeared to be completely unprovoked and at no time was Mr. Moore fighting back,” Polak – who has never spoken with the victim – related in her affidavit. “At no time did Mr. Moore try to attack an officer. At no time did Mr. Moore try to reach for an officer’s weapon. Mr. Moore was surprisingly calm.”

“I did try to stay calm,” Moore, a Special Forces combat veteran, recalled to Pro Libertate. “I just tried to assure myself that the beating would eventually stop, and I just had to endure it patiently. But it didn’t stop.”

The assailants, Officers Shawn Miller and John Robledo of the Denver Police Department, had been summoned to the apartment building by a noise complaint from a neighbor after Moore – who has been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – had a somewhat tumultuous breakdown upon learning of a friend’s death in Afghanistan. (Moore, who was a Ron Paul delegate in 2008, has become an unabashed opponent of the Empire.) After deciding a change of scenery was in order, Moore and his girlfriend called a cab and went outside to wait. An hour later, the cops arrived.

“We were waiting outside the building, when I suddenly hear pounding and rushing footsteps -- then next thing you know Miller is in my face shouting, `Get your hands out of your pockets! Show me some ID!’” Moore told Pro Libertate. “I said, `Why. what's going on' -- and I was almost simultaneously knocked to the ground before I could finish." Once the beating began, Moore tried to identify himself and point out he was a disabled Vet -- but this availed him nothing.

Moore hit the ground hard – and went very still. Moore recalled that there was a sudden, brief pause in the assault after blood gushed from his face onto the sidewalk.

“It seems to me that they knew at that point they’d screwed up,” he said. “It was as if, after a second or two, they decided to make it look as if I had been resisting arrest – which meant that they had to use a great deal of `necessary force’ to subdue me.” Robledo immediately hog-tied Moore, binding his wrists and ankles in a restraint device -- while Miller continued the assault. When Miller’s hands grew weary and his knuckles became sore, he extracted a small club and began hitting the victim in the neck and head.

“I stood in terror watching the beating for about 7-10 minutes,” Polak attested. The attack lasted long enough for the young woman to enter her apartment and get to a window.

During that time, the assailants -- seeking to sustain the fiction that they were subduing a dangerous, resisting criminal -- called for "backup." A thugscrum of about ten officers quickly congealed at the scene. As many as a half-dozen of them helping to restrain the unresisting Moore, who was already hog-tied and remained conscious for roughly half of the amount of time described by Polak.

"Every time I tried to say something, they raised my leg higher into the air behind my back, causing my diaphragm to push into my lungs to shut off my air supply," Moore pointed out. "I could not breathe out, much less breathe in." Even though he was helpless, hog-tied, face-down on the concrete, and suffocating, the police continued to beat him unstintingly while chanting the preferred refrain of the rapist: "Stop resisting! Stop resisting!"

“From the windows inside the complex, I saw Mr. Moore lying lifeless in his own blood,” Polak narrates. “Officers were still on top of him striking him with their fists. He was not moving and did not look like he was breathing. His face looked caved in.”

Eventually one of the officers – obviously the brightest of a very dim lot – noticed that Moore appeared to be dead, and began to administer CPR. An ambulance pulled up shortly thereafter and Moore’s apparently lifeless body was taken to the hospital.

At one point, that body was literally lifeless, in a clinical sense: Moore “flatlined” on the sidewalk and had to be medically revived by the EMTs. Polak, looking at Moore from a distance with the eyes of an RN, couldn’t tell if the victim had survived: “I called my mom and asked if she would call the police to inquire whether Mr. Moore was alive or dead.”

It’s doubtful that Denver’s, ahem, Finest would have cared much about the fate of a mere Mundane like James Moore. The officer who led the unprovoked assault certainly wasn’t troubled by what he had just done.

“After the ambulance left, a fireman used a fire hose to wash the blood off the sidewalk,” Polak notes. I also noticed that the same officer that was beating him with the club was wiping Mr. Moore’s blood off of his club.”

That officer’s name, once again, is Shawn Miller. Two days before he committed what was very nearly an act of aggravated homicide against James Moore,he and his partner severely beat a pedestrian named Jason Graber, leaving him with a broken knee and a permanent disability.

Concerned that Miller’s reckless driving was putting pedestrians at risk, Graber gestured for the officer to slow down. This constituted the unforgivable offense called “contempt of cop” – and Graber was brutalized as an act of “street justice.”

In a November 2010 incident in a secure apartment building, Miller cursed at, browbeat, threatened, battered, and abducted a disabled woman named Doreen Salazar because of her perceived tardiness in buzzing him and his partner into the residential area. Salazar, who had been advised by the apartment managers never to grant access to anyone she didn’t know, and who had difficulty identifying the officers as police, paused for perhaps a second or two before letting them in. It’s a tragedy that she didn’t understand that police are the most dangerous variety of strangers she's likely to confront.

Security camera video shows Miller snarling at the small, middle-aged woman, pushing her, and cornering her near an elevator. He then slammed her face-first into the elevator door, handcuffed her, and held her in his patrol car for about ten minutes – a sadistic act that served no purpose other than to terrorize an uppity Mundane who had failed to respect Miller’s supposed authority.

“Did you learn your lesson?” a smirking Miller sneered at Salazar after releasing her from the handcuffs. “Yes, I learned my lesson,” Salazar – who is more of a man than little Shawn will ever be -- replied. “I learned not to open a door for a cop ever again.”

While that is a sound and commendable policy, it’s inadequate to deal with the threat posed by police officers to those citizens – like James Moore – who actually venture outside their homes on occasion.

Moore underwent a lengthy and expensive hospitalization that included back surgery. While recuperating from the nearly fatal beating, Moore had to deal with the expense, frustration, and stress resulting from the spurious charges filed against him by the thugs who had beaten him. In keeping with standard procedure in such matters, the victim of this unprovoked, and nearly fatal, attack was charged with Felony Assault on a Police Officer and Felony Disarming of a Police Officer. It took two years for the charges to be dismissed. Moore in rehab following back surgery.

In March 2010, Moore filed a federal lawsuit against Miller, Robledo, and Denver’s municipal government. During depositions last December, Miller and his boyfriends continued to peddle the fiction that they had subdued a violent, dangerous suspect.

“They’re trying to make me look like Rambo – an unhinged Special Forces veteran who is a danger to the public,” comments Moore. “Yes, I did serve in a Special Forces unit that saw combat in Afghanistan, but I was a computer nerd. I was never part of an assault team.”

Julie and I planned to make a life together, but that ended the night that the cops attacked me.” Julie, whose only involvement in the March 25, 2008 incident was to be a witness to the Denver PD's gang assault on her boyfriend, was abducted by the police and slapped with several entirely contrived charges, including assault on an officer, resisting arrest, and "obstruction." While in jail following her arrest, Julie was told that the police would have the couple evicted from their apartment -- and they made good on the threat.

Julie spent the next two years fighting the fraudulent and vindictive charges against her. Although James and Julie are still on cordial terms, the accumulated trauma of the evening and her subsequent incarceration ended the relationship.

“In his testimony, Miller said that `This was the worst fight I’ve ever been in. This guy must have been trained in martial arts,’” Moore reflects. “He also said that I was a threat because he couldn’t see my hands and I was wearing a hoodie. Neither of those statements is true. I never had my hands in my pockets, and I was actually wearing a North Face jacket, not the notorious hoodie.”

Between his medical bills and his legal expenses, Moore – who pulled in a salary north of $100,000 working in Silicon Valley before going to war – is destitute, living with his father in Oklahoma. He was able to gather sufficient funding to travel to southeast Asia in search of alternative therapies for his back injuries – treatment that cost a great deal less than conventional methods in the U.S. While the prospect of relocating to Asia was attractive, Moore points out, “I had to come back here and take care of business in court.”

Last September, the Denver City Council approved a $225,000 taxpayer settlement with Jason Graber. U.S. District Judge John Kane, who had dismissed Graber’s lawsuit last March, reversed his decision a few months later after it was demonstrated that the Denver PD and the municipal government had refused to turn over documents dealing with excessive force complaints – many of them filed against Shawn Miller, who remains on duty and has never faced disciplinary action of any kind.

Denver’s police department is among the most notoriously abusive agencies of its kind in the Mountain West. Two years ago, in the context of growing public outrage over accumulating episodes of criminal assault by police, Chief Gerald Whitman told the local NBC affiliate that "the police department is under control" and that it actually receives fewer use-of-force complaints than departments in most other major cities.

Apparently the public is expected to confide in the Chief’s uncorroborated assurances, because he is determined to preserve the institutional opacity of his department.

Last fall, Judge Kane issued an order demanding that the police department turn over all documents dealing with excessive force complaints over the previous eight years, including disciplinary records. Despite fines of $5,000 a day, and Kane’s threat to dispatch U.S. Marshals to collect the files, the Denver PD and the ruling clique it serves have refused to comply. [Clarification: The department, while not in full compliance with the order, has turned over a small fraction of the documents it is required to provide.]

“The people behind this are simply trying to wear me down,” Moore observes. “They want to outlast me, and they have taxpayer money at their disposal, while I have next to nothing. They probably assume that I’ll get desperate and they’ll be able to settle for pennies on the dollar. I, on the other hand, am determined to be the guy who doesn’t cash out – the one who holds out for real accountability, which means the exposure of all the corrupt and criminal things this department has done to innocent people.”

“You know, before this happened I trusted the police,” Moore concludes in an ironic echo of the witness who saw him beaten and left for dead on the sidewalk. His experience is just one illustration – albeit an uncommonly infuriating one – of the fact that no informed and rational person should ever make that mistake.

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