Saturday, October 31, 2015

Yes means Yes and No means No -- except when you are Ched Evans


The conviction of British footballer Ched Evans for rape  has widely been decried. Because Yes does not mean Yes when you are Ched Evans, apparently. The woman concerned DID say Yes to him and made no complaint afterwards but a badly instructed British jury  in its stratopheric wisdom decided that Evans should have taken Yes to mean No. She was too drunk to give consent, apparently. Though how they know that and what is the relevant metric of drunkenness in those circumstances remains uncertain.

So it is a relief that the British justice system has now reopened the case -- after Evans spent over two years in jail.  Sex with women who drink must be harshly discouraged, it seems.  If that pompous dictum were taken seriously among the population at large, it would at least halve the British birthrate, I would think.  Alcohol and sex have a long history together, even among married people.

And the Yes means Yes mantra is a typically stupid feminist invention anyway.  There are many men who can attest that sometimes No means Yes.  I was always too impatient to play that game myself (apparently to some confusion) but it is a common one where the woman is embarrassed, shy etc.  Many women would think less of themselves if they said "Yes" straight away.  The woman  would think that she was appearing "too easy". So men do sometimes have to decide whether a No really means Yes and they can obviously make the occasional mistake there, particularly if they are not too bright.

So one can only hope that the feminist mantra is vigorously preached to women too so that they will be less evasive and less confusing to men.  I am not holding my breath -- JR

A case drawn up by private investigators to clear the name of rapist footballer Ched Evans is believed to question the lifestyle of his victim and failures by police to seize crucial CCTV footage.

Earlier this week, the Criminal Cases Review Commission said that new evidence had emerged in the case which 'raises a real possibility the Court of Appeal may now quash the conviction'.

Now it has been reported that private investigators, hired by the father of his fiancee Natasha Massey, have spent 18 months finding new evidence and interviewing new witnesses, which they believe will help the 26-year-old have his conviction overturned.

It claims she was banned from the Zu Bar nightclub in Rhyl, north Wales, where she and Evans had been socialising separately that night and that a statement has been provided from a woman who had a 'significant 'conversation with the victim in a taxi on the way to a police station.

The dossier of evidence is also thought to criticise police for their investigation for taking Evans and co-accused Clayton McDonald to a police station in the same car and their alleged failure to seize potentially significant CCTV footage.

However, a source close to the appeal team has said the evidence is not a 'character assassination' of the woman but rather raises potential inconsistencies in her background.

The source told the newspaper: 'Some of the new ­information is being seen within Ched’s camp as highly significant.

'It would be easy to take the view that he has done his time and he should now just put it all behind him. But he has set his sights on it being quashed. 'Resuming his career is key to all his plans with his fiancée and the new baby they are expecting.'

Since being released from prison last year, Evans has been unable to find a new team, with several clubs offering him trials only to backtrack after a public outcry.

Evans applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission in July 2014, and it received further evidence from his legal team earlier this year.

After a ten-month investigation, the commission is now referring the case to the Court of Appeal, based on ‘new information which was not raised at trial’ that could have supported his defence.

The court can now either uphold the conviction, quash it, or overturn it and order a retrial.

Evans denied rape in 2012, saying the sex was consensual, but he was found guilty by a jury at Caernarfon Crown Court. The prosecution said the woman was too drunk to consent to intercourse.

The woman was raped in a Premier Inn in 2012 after his footballer friend McDonald, who was cleared of rape, texted Evans on the way there saying: 'I've got a bird'.

McDonald had sex with the victim, before Evans arrived and raped her, while two others filmed it through the window.

After Evans's release from jail his old club Sheffield United, who used to pay him £20,000 a week, agreed to let him train with them.

But the League One club were plunged into crisis when three patrons quit, fans threatened a boycott and its main sponsor warned it would scrap their deal if they tried to sign him.

Evans started his career at Manchester City and cost Sheffield United £3 million when he signed for the team in 2009.

He scored 42 goals in 103 league appearances for the Blades and was set to sign for Oldham Athletic in a move that triggered a huge media storm following his release from prison before the plug was pulled on the deal.

It has been reported Evans has told friends that he wants his conviction quashed so he can find another football club and gain in a place in the Welsh national team for the European Championships next year.

Original report here.

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Friday, October 30, 2015

Australia: Teen arrested along with terror suspect freed on bail 'because he faces bigger risk of being radicalised INSIDE jail

A teenager who admitted importing hundreds of weapons from China has been released on bail after a Victorian judge heard he was at risk of radicalisation in prison.

Mehmet Azami, 19, had previously been linked to an alleged Anzac Day terror plot targeting police, but prosecutors told the County Court of Victoria he had no knowledge of the alleged plan.

Federal police in April opposed an initial bail application by Azami on the grounds he posed an unacceptable risk to the community.

But on Thursday they said the greater risk was he would become radicalised in custody.

'The concern is he's at greater risk of radicalisation and declining mental health in custody,' Detective Acting Sergeant Adam Folley told a pre-sentence hearing.

Prosecutor Andrew Doyle said Azami had imported 332 weapons, but only came to the attention of a counter-terrorism task force because he was recorded having a phone conversation with Harun Causevic, 18.

Causevic, Azami and Sevdet Besim, 18, of Hallam, were arrested on April 18 in pre-dawn counter terrorism raids.

Besim is the only one who faces a terror charge after charges against Causevic were dropped.  Azami was never charged with terror offences.

'There's no evidence to indicate that the offender had any knowledge of the alleged intended actions of Mr Besim,' Mr Doyle said.

Lawyer Charlie Atlas, for Azami, told Judge Roy Punshon the teenager had no prior convictions and had 'fallen into' crime.

Mr Atlas said Azami had already served almost six months and called for a corrections or supervision order when the teenager is sentenced.  'He's effectively done his time on remand,' Mr Atlas said.  'He now deserves his chance at rehabilitation.'

Judge Punshon granted bail to Azami, who will return to court on December 15.

It comes amid recent reports ISIS-inspired extremists are preaching hate in some of Australia's toughest prisons.

According to The Daily Telegraph, at least 30 gang members residing in Goulburn jail in NSW, have engaged in warfare against 'infidel' that oppose their religious ideologies.

Home to Supermax, Goulburn jail houses some of Australia's most infamous and dangerous criminals.

Last month, a 'Lebanese' yard was reportedly made exclusively Muslim, with prison guards relocating all males who didn't identify as Islamic.

'Word on the street was most in that yard (had been radicalised) and they were going to take a hostage - one of the six Christians in the yard - and behead them,' a prison guard told The Daily Telegraph.

Original report here

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Why an Ailing Senior Citizen Had to Prevent the Government From Seizing Her Home

One night in 2001, 77-year-old Margaret Davis became the victim of a home invasion. A suspected drug dealer, pursued on foot by Philadelphia police, broke into her home, hid the drugs he was carrying, and absconded out the back. Police did not catch the dealer, but they did find the drugs he had left behind.

As a result, the Philadelphia district attorney’s office targeted Davis’s home for seizure under Pennsylvania’s civil asset forfeiture laws.

For the next 18 months, the sick and bed-ridden senior citizen had to battle the city of Philadelphia.

Eventually the district attorney’s office relented, but had she not received pro bono legal representation, it is likely Davis would have been rendered homeless. The district attorney’s office, meanwhile, would have been able to sell her house and keep the proceeds.

Ensnaring innocent property owners like Davis is a far cry from the original goal of Congress and state governments when they ramped up forfeiture in the 1980s: to relieve drug kingpins and criminal organizations of their ill-gotten gains and to deprive them of the property that they use to commit crimes.

Now, two Pennsylvania legislators, state senators Mike Folmer, R-48th district, and Anthony Williams, D-8th district, want to return forfeiture in the Keystone State to better express that laudable, narrow goal.

Their proposal would introduce a host of new due process protections for property owners—including a criminal conviction requirement—and would sever the perverse financial incentives that encourage law enforcement agencies to seize property even on highly dubious grounds. The state Senate’s Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on the bill today.

The Current System

Reform cannot come soon enough. Presently, Pennsylvania law enables cash, cars, and homes to be seized if law enforcement officials suspect that the property was used to commit, or is the result of, a criminal act. Once seized, it is incumbent on the property owner to effectively prove his or her own innocence.

Can’t afford an attorney? You have to go it alone.

Meanwhile, the proceeds of successful forfeitures are retained by the very law enforcement agencies that execute the seizures and prosecute the resulting forfeiture cases.

In 2012, Pennsylvania law enforcement agencies generated $13.8 million in forfeiture revenue, funds that are exclusively controlled by those agencies and may be spent with little oversight or accountability. The conflicts of interest inherent in such an arrangement are obvious, and they raise reasonable questions about fundamental fairness and impartiality in the enforcement of the law.

A Serious Problem in Philadelphia

Philadelphia has earned a reputation for its particularly aggressive use of civil forfeiture, and the numbers are staggering. The Philadelphia district attorney’s office files thousands of forfeiture cases annually, relentlessly seeking forfeiture even after property owners have been acquitted or criminal charges are dropped. Each year, the “City of Brotherly Love” forfeits roughly 100 homes, 150 vehicles, and $4 million in cash.

To put these figures into perspective, Philadelphia’s $5- to $6-million annual haul is roughly five times the amount forfeited in all of Los Angeles County, despite having only one-sixth the population. The entire state of Michigan forfeited only eight homes last year. Philadelphia’s forfeiture revenue is equivalent to 20 percent of the appropriated budget of the city district attorney’s office. And under state law, that entire sum is available to be spent outside the normal appropriations process.

Certainly many, probably most, of these forfeiture cases target real criminals and the property used to facilitate crime.

But there are an alarming number of innocent property owners who have been swept up in Philadelphia’s forfeiture system—such as in the case of Chris and Markela Sourovelis, whose home was sought for seizure after their son sold $40’s worth of drugs.

Then there are Hank Mosley and Tanya Andrews, two residents whose only crime was living in the same boarding house as a suspected drug dealer. During a raid, police entered each of their rooms and seized $2,000 from Mosley and $1,500 from Andrews.

The city incorrectly listed each of their sums as being in the dealer’s possession and thus subject to forfeiture. Rather than acknowledge the mistake, the city fought to keep their money. Andrews had to appear five times in court to win back her money; Mosley had given up and moved to Colorado. He missed a court date, and his money was forfeited by default.

Clearly, civil forfeiture has strayed from its original purpose. Too often, questions of guilt and innocence are approached with a casual indifference that is unacceptable in the enforcement of the law.

A Good Step Toward Reform

This week’s hearing in Pennsylvania is a hopeful sign. The proposed reform contains many of the same reforms as those proposed by Heritage’s Meese Center in its forfeiture report, Arresting Your Property.

The bill would eliminate forfeiture’s perverse financial incentives by redirecting proceeds to the state or county general fund, depending on the jurisdiction. State and local agencies would be banned from participating in the federal equitable sharing program, which allows them to transfer property to the federal government in exchange for 80 percent of the resulting proceeds.

If this loophole is not closed, state and local agencies could simply bypass any new reforms by referring forfeiture cases to federal authorities.

Like New Mexico recent reforms, the Pennsylvania bill would require that a criminal conviction be obtained before property can be forfeited and would raise the burden of proof in forfeiture proceedings to “clear and convincing evidence.”

The current standard, a “preponderance of the evidence,” is too low, given that what is often at stake is a family home or a life’s savings. However, requiring a criminal conviction may be a bridge too far—there are certainly instances where a crime has doubtless occurred, but the owner is beyond the reach of U.S. authorities, or where criminal prosecution is impossible.

Lawmakers would be wise to consider such circumstances in their reform efforts.

Recently, New Mexico, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, and Washington, D.C., have all enacted reforms to their civil forfeiture statutes. Hopefully, Pennsylvania will soon join them.

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, October 28, 2015

Charming British policemen admit calling a suspected domestic violence victim a 'f***ing slag' and a 'b**ch' on her voicemail

Two police officers have appeared before a disciplinary hearing and admitted referring to a suspected domestic violence victim as a 'f***ing slag' on her voicemail.

West Midlands PCs Christopher Guest and Cavan O'Connell were also said to have called Alex Faragher a 'f***ing b**ch' on the message accidentally left on her mobile phone.

Both men today appeared before the force's Professional Standards Panel (PSP) and admitted the facts of the allegations but denied they amounted to gross misconduct.

Alison Hewitt, presenting the case for the PSP, said the allegations followed Miss Faragher making a 999 call in January last year claiming her boyfriend had assaulted her.

The officers arrested the boyfriend and took him to Queen's Road station.

Ms Hewitt said the officers later tried to ring Miss Faragher, 20, to arrange a time to go and collect her statement.

She said they got her voicemail and left a message, during which they were heard calling her a 'f***ing slag' and then a 'f***ing bitch'.

Ms Hewitt said when Miss Faragher heard the voicemail she contacted the force to complain.

Giving evidence in mitigation, PC Guest admitted saying the offending words. But he said they were a 'private rant' said in a car and were only meant to be heard by himself and PC O'Connell.

The hearing is continuing.

Miss Faragher, a wedding caterer, previously explained how the pair were due to take her statement at 6pm on January 13. But half an hour later, they had not turned up so she went to her father's house because she did not want to be alone.

At 11pm, Miss Faragher went to Sutton Coldfield police station to give her statement to the same officers.

It was only later that she saw the voicemail on her phone. After hearing it, she felt 'victimised and humiliated'.

'They turned up after 6.30pm and tried to call me and mistakenly didn't hang up. I picked up the conversation they then had in the police car that was recorded as a voicemail. I could not believe what I was hearing,' she said.

'They did not realise that they had connected to my voicemail, which recorded all of the horrible things they were saying about me.

'These two people were supposed to be coming out to help me and instead I received abuse.'

Miss Faragher added: 'I was shell-shocked. It's horrifying. I feel so sick and upset. I have lost all faith. The police have belittled me and made me feel worthless. They can't be trusted.

'It was like being assaulted all over again … just after I had been through a stressful ordeal. The policemen verbally assaulted me. It's disgusting.'

Original report here

UPDATE: The cops were let off

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

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

SC: Video shows the moment a high school deputy attacks a black female student

I have little sympathy for people who defy reasonable commands from the police.  They are asking for trouble

This disturbing video shows a high school officer flips a desk and the female student sitting in it over before dragging her violently across the classroom.

Richland County Sheriff’s Department are investigating the incident after the footage – filmed at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina – emerged on social media.

It shows the school’s resource officer asking the girl to get out of her seat. He stands over her desk and is heard saying: ‘Either you’re coming with me or I’m making you.’

But before the student has a chance to react, the officer holds her by the neck and flips the furniture over, slamming the girl to the ground, as her silent classmates watch in horror.

She is then seen being dragged across the floor and pinned down as the officer shouts at her to put her hands behind her back.

According to WISTV, school officials confirmed that the incident occurred on Monday.

Sheriff Leon Lott said the school’s resource officer, named as Ben Fields, was responding to a student who was refusing to leave class.

‘The student was told she was under arrest for disturbing school and given instructions which she again refused. ‘The video then shows the student resisting and being arrested by the SRO.’

Buzzfeed reported that two students were arrested during the incident. The girl was released to her parents and a male student was reportedly detained.

A spokesman for the sheriff's department said the the officer had been called to the classroom because a student was being disruptive.

She had refused to leave the room when a teacher and a vice principal instructed her to do so. The spokesman added that no injuries were reported.

The New York Daily News reported the officer in question has a history of acting roughly with students. Fields is listed as a senior deputy assigned as a school resource officer at Spring Valley High School on the sheriff's department website.

On his now-deleted Twitter page, he describes himself as a Richland County deputy sheriff, a football coach and a strength coach at Spring Valley High School.

He has been placed on administrative duty while the sheriff's department conducts an investigation.

Richland School District Two's superintendent Dr Debbie Hamm said the district was 'deeply concerned' by the incident. She said the district is working with the sheriff's department to investigate and will not tolerate any action that threatens the safety of its students.

In a statement, Dr Hamm said the district has directed the officer is not permitted to return to any school in the district pending the results of the investigation.

It said: 'Our District is deeply concerned about an incident that occurred at Spring Valley High School today. The incident took place between a school resource officer employed by the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and a student. Video of the incident is circulating on social media.

'Student safety is and always will be the District’s top priority. The District will not tolerate any actions that jeopardize the safety of our students.

'Upon learning of the incident, school and district administrators began an investigation. We are working closely and in full cooperation with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department to conduct a thorough and complete investigation.

'Pending the outcome of the investigation, the District has directed that the school resource officer not return to any school in the District.'

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

Monday, October 26, 2015

Chicago police accused of denying lawyers access to their clients at Homan Square facility

IF YOU are arrested on suspicion of a crime, the normal state of affairs is that once detained you are entitled access to a lawyer.

Once your lawyer arrives, they are taken to where you are being held and the process goes on from there.

But in one part of Chicago there are claims that police don’t always play by those rules.

A series of investigations carried out by The Guardian claim police operating out of a warehouse in the west of the city known as Homan Square routinely ‘disappear’ arrestees.

The British newspaper claims documents it obtained show more than 7000 people held at the so-called off-the-books interrogation facility were detained for several hours.

Of those held from August 2004 to June 2015, only 0.94% or 68 were allowed access to legal representation or a public notice of their whereabouts. And almost 6000 were African American.

The information was found in internal police documents obtained by the newspaper following a Freedom of Information request and a court order forcing the Chicago Police Department to hand over information relating to Homan Square.

The CPD has strenuously denied the reports saying officers at Homan Square obey the law and explained its secretive reputation was the result of the work being carried out by its undercover narcotic and gang units.

But those who have been detained claim it’s much more than that.

The Guardian said it spoke to 22 people who claimed that when they were kept at the facility they remained there for hours, some days and were pressured to become informants.

And all but two caucasian detainees claimed that police denied them phone calls to alert family or their lawyers about their whereabouts.

Chicago lawyer David Gaeger, who had a client taken to Homan Square in 2011, told The Guardian the facility scared him.

“Not much shakes me in this business — baby murder, sex assault, I’ve done it all,” he said. “That place was and is scary. It’s a scary place. There’s nothing about it that resembles a police station. It comes from a Bond movie or something.”

Mr Gaeger also claimed trying to find a number for the precinct was impossible.

“Try finding a phone number for Homan to see if anyone’s there. You can’t, ever,” he said “If you’re labouring under the assumption that your client’s at Homan, there really isn’t much you can do as a lawyer. You’re shut-out. It’s guarded like a military installation.”

But not everyone agrees with the assessment that Homan Square is unique as a secret CIA-style black site where arrestees get lost in the system.

Some seasoned criminal defence lawyers say the tactics used by officers at Homan Square are used by the wider Chicago police department.

“Everything that was described (in the Guardian story) was something that happens every day,” Richard Dvorak told the Chicago Tribune. “I think it’s pretty systemic throughout CPD.”

A University of Chicago law professor, Craig Futterman, who spent years researching police misconduct cases in Chicago told the Chicago Tribune he thought the “black site” rhetoric may be an exaggeration adding that police routinely played cat-and-mouse games with detainees and lawyers at district stations and detective area headquarters all over the city.

First Defence Legal Aid executive director Eliza Solowiej agreed telling the Chicago-based newspaper the problems were systemic.

She also revealed her agency had a client they could not find who had been held at Homan Square. When that client was released they had a head wound.

“It’s not just this facility. This is a city wide problem,” she said.

But it seems Homan Square’s notoriety has also made it to the small screen. The season finale of the courtroom drama, The Good Wife, featured a storyline involving Homan Square.

The show’s main character Alicia Florrick gets a call from her client’s wife saying he went missing. After conducting a Find Your iPhone search, she located the man at a nondescript red brick building, Homan Square.

When she inquired to speak to him, she was told he was not there. After several trips to a judge she was finally allowed access to her client, but police had already compiled a confession.

While this was all fiction, Homan Square is currently the subject of a number of court cases.

A few days ago three people lodged a lawsuit against the Chicago PD claiming they were “physically and psychologically abused” for a day at the facility, Fox 32 reported.

Atheris Mann, Jessie Patrick and Deanda Wilson were arrested on October 21, 2013, in connection with a drug investigation and taken to Homan Square, where it has been claimed they were stripsearched and ignored when they asked to use a bathroom or call family members and lawyers.

They also claimed detectives insulted, threatened and used racial slurs while interrogating the trio, who are all black.

In March, a grocery worker and two customers of the Paseo Boricua Grocery filed legal action against Chicago police alleging they were detained at Homan Square for hours under false charges.

Jose Garcia and the two customers John Vergara and Carlos Ruiz, who were in the store buying coffee, allege masked officers burst inside on September 29, 2011 and arrested them and two others, the Chicago Tribune reported.

They claim they then spent between eight to nine hours in custody before being released after one them claimed to know a high-profile civil rights lawyer.

Vergara, an art teacher, told The Guardian four of them were then released on the condition that they promised not to tell the lawyer anything about what happened.

The trio decided to launch legal action after seeing the stories in The Guardian.

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

Sunday, October 25, 2015

British police say they won't visit stores to arrest shoplifters - and tell traders to send in their CCTV footage instead

They are too busy harassing journalists and pursuing empty accusations of pedophilia

Police have announced they will not visit their stores to investigate shoplifting - and told business owners to send in CCTV footage of the suspects instead.

As part of a money-saving scheme in Swindon, Wiltshire Police officers will no longer attend the scene of the crime.

Shop owners will be asked to take down the details of any offenders and file their own statement to the police.

They will also need to send in CCTV footage of the incident to the police force's headquarters - and are expected to pay for their own recorded delivery.

According to the Sun, the measure, due to be introduced on November 1, was announced to business owners in the town in a letter this week.

It said an officer will not attend the scene of the crime but there will be an investigator available to give advice over the phone.

It comes months after Leicestershire Police announced they had been refusing to attend attempted burglaries at houses with odd-numbers in their own bizarre cost-cutting measure.

The force trialled the scheme to assess the effectiveness of sending forensic officers to a crime scene and found it had no impact on the number of incidents or victim satisfaction.

It was rolled out by the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU), which provides a range of services to Lincolnshire as a result of 'significant year on year cuts to policing budgets'.

A spokesman for Wiltshire Police said: 'This new system will ensure CCTV evidence is processed quicker and by investigators who are familiar with the main offenders in the area.

'An increase in turnaround times, the apprehension of a greater number of suspects and a reduction of crime are also anticipated as a direct result of these change.'

Superintendent Charlie Armstrong said: 'I would want to reassure everyone that if an offender is apprehended or detained then we will attend as we always have done.

'Likewise, if the footage relates to a crime involving harm to someone, a continuing risk or a threat which causes someone fear then, again, we will be there to support, help and investigate.'

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

Saturday, October 24, 2015

OK: Courtney case now settled.   Tulsa to pay $8 million

State provided only $175,000 so Tulsa had to come up with the rest.  Courtney is black

The city of Tulsa is paying a settlement of $8 million to Sedrick Courtney, who was wrongfully imprisoned for 16 years before being cleared of wrongdoing.

City councilors agreed in an executive session Thursday afternoon to the amount, which was already approved by Mayor Dewey Bartlett.

Noting that “$8 million is a significant amount of money,” Tulsa City Attorney David O’Meilia said he couldn’t discuss the negotiations or factors that led to the settlement.

“It’s factored in that the defendant had 16 years served in prison,” he said. “There was a decision — a determination — made that the best avenue for resolution of the case was settlement rather than litigating it further.”

City officials have been included in settlement discussions for weeks, with oversight from the City Council and mayor, who are required to approve any settlement agreement that exceeds $1 million.

Courtney, now 42, filed a federal suit against the city in June 2014 alleging that city officials used manufactured evidence to convict him on robbery and burglary charges and then obstructed his exoneration efforts while he was in prison and on parole.

Courtney was convicted of robbing a woman at her Tulsa apartment in February 1996 and was sentenced to 60 years in prison. He was paroled in 2011.

The woman had identified Courtney, who had alibi witnesses and denied involvement in the crime. The lawsuit against the city claims that evidence was planted by police.

The suit also alleged that Courtney requested access to evidence that would show his innocence but was told twice that the evidence had been destroyed. The evidence in the case included ski masks and a bloody piece of duct tape.

It wasn’t until September 2011, after being asked a third time, that Tulsa police said they had located hair evidence from the ski masks.

Subsequent DNA testing that was not available when he was convicted excluded Courtney as a possible donor of the hairs, according to court filings.

The Innocence Project, an organization that uses DNA evidence in an effort to get wrongfully convicted people exonerated, had taken on Courtney’s case while he was in prison.

After he was exonerated, Courtney received the statutory maximum $175,000 from the state of Oklahoma after filing a tort claim for wrongful imprisonment.

Individuals who are convicted and imprisoned for crimes they did not commit can apply for as much as $175,000 in compensation from the state under legislation that was signed into law by then-Gov. Brad Henry in 2003.

A year before that law was passed, Arvin McGee had been exonerated by DNA evidence in an unrelated Tulsa County kidnapping and rape case.

A Tulsa federal jury awarded McGee $14 million from the city of Tulsa in 2006 — $1 million for each year he served in prison — but a settlement was reached after the verdict for the city to pay a total of $12.5 million.

The $8 million payment to Courtney will come from the city of Tulsa’s sinking fund, which was created to pay for general obligation bond debt and judgments against the city.

Legal Department officials said the cost would be assessed from the sinking fund over the next three years.

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, October 23, 2015

Witch-hunt against British journalists collapses

The establishment wanted to shut their revelations up

The last two Sun journalists to be prosecuted under the 'cash-for-stories' probe have slammed the amount of money spent on the investigation after being cleared of paying a corrupt police officer for stories.

Following a retrial at the Old Bailey news editor Chris Pharo, 46, and district reporter Jamie Pyatt, 52, were today found not guilty of aiding and abetting a Surrey police officer to commit misconduct in a public office between 2002 and 2011.

Mr Pharo's lawyer Nigel Rumfitt QC told the court there had been a 'monumental error of judgment in pursuing the case', while the journalists themselves questioned why they were being prosecuted for 'doing their job'.

The jury was not told the officer at the heart of the case, Simon Quinn, of Horsham, West Sussex, had pleaded guilty to the offence and been jailed for 18 months earlier this year.

The two men were accused of encouraging PC Quinn to leak inside information to the tabloid newspaper on celebrity arrests and notorious crimes.

The Surrey officer pocketed £10,000 from The Sun for his information, including tips on the hunt for schoolgirl Milly Dowler and the arrests of stars Dane Bowers and Chris Tarrant.

The confidential dealings of the defendants with public officials came to light in the wake of News International's decision to hand over emails to police after it became embroiled in the 2011 phone hacking scandal.

Outside court, the two men embraced as they told of their four-year long Elveden 'nightmare' and questioned why £30 million of taxpayers' money had been spent on prosecuting people for 'doing their job'.

Mr Pharo said: 'It's the end of a four-year long nightmare for Jamie and I but it's extended way beyond just us.

'It's damaged our families, our friends and the true human cost to everybody caught up in Operation Elveden is incalculable.

'I want to ask one simple question: how could anyone imagine spending more than £30 million over four years prosecuting journalists for doing their job was remotely in the public interest?'

Today's verdicts bring to a close a string of trials against tabloid journalists, the majority of whom worked for The Sun or the now defunct News Of The World.

Out of the 29 cases against journalists, only Sun crime reporter Anthony France has been successfully convicted by a jury.

By contrast, some 26 public officials have been convicted following the £20 million Metropolitan Police investigation into newspapers' activities.

The jury deliberated for nearly 12 hours and today's verdict was greeted by cheers from supporters and colleagues.

Pharo broke down in tears as he was released from the dock, and hugged his wife Jen as he left.

Jamie Pyatt gave a thumbs up sign to his family in the public gallery and embrace colleagues sitting in the well of the court.

During the trial Pyatt, a veteran Thames Valley district reporter, told jurors he was entitled to pay the officer as he was acting in the public interest.

Pharo, the paper's Head of News, accused his former bosses of trying to make him into a scapegoat for The Sun's cash payment system.  

Both men were charged under the Met's controversial £20m Operation Elveden, which has been dubbed a 'politically motivated witch-hunt'.

Pharo was the news editor throughout Rebekah Brooks' six year tenure as editor of The Sun, and complained bitterly that he had been 'hung out to dry' to save others from prosecution.

The verdicts sound the death knell for Operation Elveden, nearly four years after it after it was launched in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.

Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders has resisted calls for her resignation over her handling of the investigation, and will face fresh pressure in the wake of today's verdicts.

Pyatt, a Sun veteran of more than 25 years, was one of the first journalists arrested by Elveden detectives, but - with Pharo - is the last to be acquitted.

During nearly four years on bail, Pyatt and Pharo endured a four-and-a-half month long trial at Kingston Crown Court last winter, and then had to wait another year for their retrial.

Pharo, during his evidence, lifted the lid on Brooks' newsroom, revealing her position as Rupert Murdoch's 'surrogate daughter' and her penchant for foul-mouthed temper tantrums at her staff.

He said she would deluge him with 20 abusive emails a day, dubbed him an 'idiot news editor' in a missive to all News International staff, and once threw a phone at a journalist who failed to deliver on a story.

He revealed to jurors that Mrs Brooks had a punch bag in her office to 'relieve tension', she would 'explode' in editorial meetings and could 'sulk for days' over missed stories.

He said when the News of the World broke the exclusive story that David Blunkett was having an affair with a married woman, staff received a text from Mrs Brooks.

He said: 'At 11am we all received a text message and it said something along the lines of 'yet again I have to pick up this morning's NotW and it contains another agenda setting story'.

'If you f****** c***s are not capable of matching them, I will sack the lot of you and replace you with them.'

Mrs Brooks was cleared of all wrongdoing following a trial last year which also saw Andy Coulson - her former on-off lover - jailed for the wide-ranging phone hacking plot.

During the trial Pyatt openly admitted paying the money to Quinn, knowing it was to a serving police officer, but argued that the type of stories justified his actions.

He paid for pictures of Trophy rapist Tony Imiela, Freddy Krueger killer Daniel Gonzalez, and the prime suspect in the attack on pregnant mother Abigail Witchalls.

Quinn also leaked information on the rape arrest of singer Mick Hucknall, the witness statements from a rape case, and news of Another Level singer Dane Bower's drink driving arrest.

Pyatt said his conduct was sanctioned by Sun bosses, who had passed Quinn to him as a source in the first place.

Pharo said he was too busy to read many of Pyatt's emails, but had no idea that a police officer was being paid and would have informed Brooks immediately if he had found out. 'It was not my job to police The Sun newsroom', he told the jury.

Mr Rumfitt QC, defending Pharo, dubbed Operation Elveden 'the longest running farce in London' and said: 'A financially hard-pressed police force devoted twice the number of police officers normally used to investigate a murder to investigate 100 suspects, many of them journalists.

'All of those resources, dawn raids, long trials culminated in mass acquittals of journalists who should never have been prosecuted in the first place.'

Pharo, of Wapping, east London, and Pyatt, of Windsor, denied aiding and abetting misconduct in public office.

Out of the 29 cases against journalists, only one reporter has been successfully convicted by a jury

 In April this year prosecutors dropped a raft of cases after Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders was forced into a humiliating climbdown when a jury threw out yet another Old Bailey case.

She abandoned the trials of nine reporters accused of illegally paying public officials for information, finally admitting there was little appetite among the public for journalists who expose matters of public interest to be jailed.

Her decision sparked an ugly blame game as the architects of the £20million ‘politically-motivated witch hunt’ turned against each other.

Prosecutors and police pointed the finger at the Leveson inquiry and MPs for whipping up a storm of hysteria over the work of the Press.

And Scotland Yard highlighted how their inquiries were possible only thanks to millions of confidential emails released by News International.

The landmark U-turn came after a jury threw out the case against three Sun journalists and one former Daily Mirror reporter.

Brandon Malinsky, Neil Millard and Tom Wells, as well as their Fleet Street rival Graham Brough, were cleared of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office.

They were accused of funnelling cash to public officials in exchange for leaks from inside some of Britain’s most secure jails.  But the jury found that exposing how taxpayers’ cash was wasted on bingo games for illegal immigrants and lavished on child killer Jon Venables was not a crime.

Within hours, the CPS threw in the towel on nine other cases, including fresh prosecutions and retrials.

The decision followed a review sparked by the Court of Appeal quashing the conviction of the first journalist to be convicted.  Ex-News of the World crime editor Lucy Panton was found guilty of bribing officials only for her conviction to be overturned.

Some of the most senior judges in the country criticised how the archaic law of misconduct in public office – under which prosecutions were brought – had been applied, fatally undermining other cases.

Of the 27 journalists charged, 25 have been cleared, had their cases dropped or seen their convictions quashed or founder at the Court of Appeal.

In addition, 14 journalists were investigated, including many left on bail for many months, but not prosecuted.

By contrast, 26 of the 28 public officials – including police, prison officers and Ministry of Defence staff – charged under the inquiry have been convicted.

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, October 22, 2015

Black Florida cop shoots dead dog charging at him

I am no defender of police misbehaviour and have covered cases where American police shoot dogs almost as a matter of routine.  But the video makes clear in this case that the cop made the only decision he reasonably could. The dog was a bull-Terrier type and charged straight at him as soon as the door opened.  The cop had only a split second to act so did what he needed to do to protect himself from attack.  The dog may only have wanted to jump up on him in a friendly greeting -- as dogs do -- but the cop wasn't to know that

A mother and daughter are inconsolable after their dog Duchess was shot in the head three times by a police officer - and all because she ran out the front door when he was conducting a routine house check.

Duchess, a 40-pound bull terrier mix, was killed even though she wasn't barking or being aggressive in any way, according to her owner, Gillian Palacios.

Palacios told Fox that on Tuesday morning, the police officer knocked on her door to say her car door had been left open.

She said that when she opened the front door of her house, her dog Duchess ran outside. Surveillance footage shows the officer fatally shooting the dog three times in the head.

The family, who were distraught after their loss, say that they were not in any trouble with the police and cannot understand why their pet was killed for simply running into the yard.

'Before I could even do anything, the officer had his gun out and shot her three times in the head,' Palacios said.

The officer, who has not been identified, has been put on administrative leave while an investigation is underway.

Palacios said the officer told her that her dog was 'charging after him' and that Animal Services would come by to pick up the animal.

'She was curious. She wasn’t barking (and) she wasn’t growling,' Palacios said in the video interview.

'There was no reason for him to think she was aggressive in any way.'

According to Palacio's Facebook, she works as a pet sitter and bookkeeper.

Photos show her and her daughter sobbing uncontrollably over their pet's body, just outside their front door.

Florida City police spokesman Officer Ken Armenteros defended the officer’s actions.

'We don’t have the luxury of hindsight,' he told WPLG. 'We have to use the information that is given to us in a split second. So, the officer has to make that decision with the information that he has available.'

The family said that Duchess was a rescue dog they had recently adopted from a nearby shelter.

A staff member at the animal shelter described Duchess as an extremely loving and docile dog - and said that when people see pit bulls or dogs that look like them they 'expect the worst' but they are actually wonderful dogs.

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, October 21, 2015

Off the case: Detective who said VIP child sex abuse claims were 'credible' is replaced as head of shambolic Operation Midland

Lunkhead  Kenny McDonald

Scotland Yard's shambolic investigation into alleged VIP child sex abuse and murder inched closer to collapse last night after a new officer was put in charge.

Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald, who controversially described a key witness as being 'credible and true', has been replaced as head of Operation Midland.

It was confirmed last night that Det Supt McDonald had been removed from the inquiry as part of a shake-up widely seen in key circles as the 'beginning of the end' for Operation Midland.

Theresa May has distanced herself from the force's Leon Brittan  rape inquiry

She made her dissatisfaction clear after it emerged that detectives were told on four occasions there were no grounds to charge the Tory peer after he was accused of rape by a Labour activist with severe mental health problems.

Lord Brittan died in January at 75 without being told he had been cleared.

The restructuring of the Operation Midland team was announced ahead of a hearing tomorrow of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, when Yard chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe will be quizzed over the unravelling VIP abuse fiasco.

The Met has been under pressure to shelve the investigation since the Mail told last month how detectives had 'grave doubts' about the testimony of a man known as Nick whose allegations of triple murder involving the top tier of the security establishment triggered the probe.

After spending nearly a year on the case, officers have found 'not a shred of credible evidence' to back up claims that a string of senior Establishment figures were responsible for murdering three boys in the Seventies and Eighties.

Earlier, Mrs May piled pressure on Sir Bernard over the refusal of officers to abandon the case against Sir Leon for almost three years

A number of other exposes by this newspaper in recent weeks have cast further doubt on other alleged victims of VIP child sex abuse.

In a statement issued last night, which made no mention of Detective Supt McDonald, the Met said it had 'brought together all the various strands of non-recent child abuse allegations under a newly formed investigation team led by Detective Superintendent Ang Scott'.

Det Supt Scott will run Operation Midland and Operation Fairbank, which began in 2012 to look into claims of child abuse at the Elm Guesthouse in Barnes, South West London, and at other locations.

The statement said: 'As Operations Midland and Fairbank have progressed officers identified a number of people and locations common to both enquiries.

'It is therefore operationally important to have the same officer in charge. This team will also be responsible for the preparatory work to support the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

'This team will continue to investigate the various operations that are ongoing, including those historical allegations of impropriety by police officers dealing with sexual abuse in the period 1970-2005.'

Earlier, Mrs May piled pressure on Sir Bernard over the refusal of officers to abandon the case against Sir Leon for almost three years. On Friday, the Met admitted detectives had been aware since September 2013 that there was 'not a strong case' against Lord Brittan.

Original report here

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

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Strange British child abuse investigations  

The child sex abuse public inquiry was in crisis last night after it emerged one of its key advisers tried to wreck a Tory minister’s career with baseless paedophile smears.

Peter McKelvie – the whistleblower who fed Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson false information about a ‘No.10 paedophile ring’ – wrote to Downing Street wrongly claiming the MP was linked to child molesters and objecting to his appointment as a minister, it was revealed.

The minister has spent months battling the appalling smear, and yesterday serious questions were being asked about retired child protection officer Mr McKelvie’s suitability to sit on the inquiry.

A former Scotland Yard chief called for ‘a re-think of the scale’ of the inquiry.

Mr McKelvie has landed a £300-a-day role as an official adviser to the judge overseeing the inquiry – which is expected to cost tens of millions of pounds.

His job is to ‘assist and advise’ Judge Lowell Goddard’s inquiry ‘on all aspects of its work’ investigating historic abuse claims.

But his credibility has been thrown into doubt. The Mail can reveal Mr McKelvie was informed in writing in December 2012 by a Scotland Yard detective inspector that there was no basis for his allegation about the MP. Yet on May 19 this year, shortly after the general election, Mr McKelvie repeated it to Downing Street.

It was Mr McKelvie who supplied Mr Watson with baseless claims that led the Labour MP to make an incendiary claim to the Commons that sparked the Scotland Yard VIP paedophile investigation in 2012.

Mr McKelvie was appointed to the Goddard inquiry earlier this year, raising eyebrows among a number of serving and former detectives.

A former senior Scotland Yard officer, who concluded more than 20 years ago that there was no substance to Mr McKelvie’s claims about a paedophile ring linked to Downing Street, said he was ‘surprised’ by his appointment.

Mike Hames, respected ex head of the Met’s paedophile squad, added: ‘Mr Watson’s claims about the Downing Street-linked paedophile ring set the hare running on the VIP sex ring scandal. But there has never been any substance to these claims, which originated from Mr McKelvie.’

Mr McKelvie has close links to a man known as ‘Nick’, who claims to have witnessed the murder of three boys by a gang of elite figures including former premier Edward Heath and ex-Home Secretary Leon Brittan. But police now have ‘grave doubts’ about Nick’s claims.

Mr McKelvie declined to comment, and Mr Watson could not be reached for comment.

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

Monday, October 19, 2015

Mass.: Middlesex DA’s office shows troubling attitude toward evidence

Middlesex County prosecutors had information that could have helped Aisling Brady McCarthy, the nanny accused of killing the 1-year-old she was caring for. But instead of sharing it, as they should have, they kept it to themselves for more than a year while she remained in jail.

In April, a Superior Court judge found that the information — that the baby’s injuries could have had another cause — was potentially helpful to the defendant, and that prosecutors should have turned it over sooner. That remarkable finding, that the Commonwealth withheld exculpatory evidence in a murder case, went unnoticed at the time.

But given allegations of questionable conduct by Middlesex prosecutors in the case of Nathan Wilson — the strikingly similar case of a Malden baby whose father was charged with violently shaking him to death — it bears a hard look now. Like McCarthy, Geoffrey Wilson eventually had the charges against him dropped after a medical examiner reversed a homicide finding.

McCarthy was accused of killing Rehma Sabir in January 2013. She was charged after Alice Newton, a prosecution medical expert, concluded (as she did in the Wilson case) that the 1-year-old had suffered injuries, including severe bleeding in the back of the eyes, which indicated abusive head trauma, also known as shaken baby syndrome.

After McCarthy was jailed without bail, prosecutors sought the opinion of Dr. Alex Levin, an eye specialist, on whether the injuries to the baby’s eyes indicated abuse. In a series of phone calls starting in August 2013, Levin expressed hesitation about coming to that conclusion. He told prosecutors he had found less severe retinal hemorrhaging, and repeatedly raised the possibility that the baby’s injuries might have been caused by something other than abuse — an immune disorder called Job Syndrome — according to a court document.

The medical examiner’s office said it could no longer stand by its ruling that a Cambridge infant’s death in 2013 was a homicide.
 Kevin Cullen: Justice long overdue for Aisling Brady McCarthy

Ethics rules require that prosecutors share information like that with the defense in a timely manner. District attorneys hold many more cards than defense attorneys in criminal cases, and they’re held to very high standards. They’re supposed to make their cases on the merits, and not by sitting on evidence that could benefit the accused.

“Their job is not just to win,” said David Rossman, a professor of law at Boston University who was briefly a prosecutor in Middlesex County. “Their job is to do justice, and that means even if they are morally certain a person did it, and there is a piece of evidence in their hands that in the eyes of a reasonable, objective person would make it seem less certain the defendant is guilty, they’ve got to turn it over.”

That obligation was there, even if prosecutors disagreed with the doctor. Even if Levin had been an unhinged quack, and not, as he is, a nationally known expert who has regularly delivered findings of abuse in shaken baby cases.

Not only must exculpatory evidence be shared, it must be shared promptly.

“Immediacy is not required, but the law demands some level of promptness,” said Daniel Medwed, professor of law at Northeastern University. “More to the point . . . we should expect and demand immediate compliance.”

The best prosecutors would have shared that information right after the first phone call. But, prosecutors on the McCarthy case kept it to themselves: not only after that first phone call with Levin, but through several more over the course of a year. This even after defense attorneys, who learned of Levin’s work by happenstance, asked for it repeatedly.

It’s hard to imagine prosecutors could have been unaware of the information’s significance. Those same assistant district attorneys were working on the Wilson case. A few weeks after their first call with Levin, Geoffrey Wilson’s attorney presented them with evidence suggesting that Nathan Wilson’s death could have been caused by a genetic defect that made his blood vessels prone to rupture.

In a September 2013 e-mail, the medical examiner told prosecutor Katharine Folger that he wanted to change his homicide finding about the Wilson baby. (He did not do so officially until Aug. 1, 2014, and complained to Folger that the Middlesex District Attorney’s office had attempted to pressure him into sticking with his original homicide finding, according to the examiner’s case notes, obtained by the Globe.)

Folger had been in on some of the calls with Levin, too. Yet, even as the Wilson case was unraveling, Folger and other prosecutors didn’t share Levin’s speculation about the immune disorder with McCarthy’s defense attorneys.

Nor did they share the information after a large crack appeared in their case against the nanny: In December 2013, a judge threw out an assault and battery charge against McCarthy, finding insufficient evidence to support the charge that she caused the bone fractures central to prosecution claims that she had abused the baby.

Instead, after finding a reference to him in files from the medical examiner, McCarthy’s attorneys learned Levin had been consulted in January 2014. They repeatedly requested Levin’s report, notes, and any exculpatory evidence. District Attorney Marian Ryan said prosecutors revealed in August that Levin had considered an alternative cause of death. Butthey did not turn over the more extensive — and more clearly exculpatory — notes from his conversations with prosecutors until January 2015, after Judge Maureen Hogan ordered them to do so. It had been 16 months since the first phone call with Levin.

They should have done it sooner, the judge said.

“Prosecutors had an obligation to turn over to the defendant information provided to them by Dr. Levin which was exculpatory, or . . . arguably exculpatory, prior to the time that they did,” Hogan said in an April 22 hearing.

The judge is right, District Attorney Marian Ryan concedes.

“We take our responsibility to produce all exculpatory evidence very seriously,” Ryan said in a written statement. “While there were several extenuating circumstances which delayed the production of Dr. Levin’s final written report, we acknowledge and agree that the information should have been provided to the defendant sooner.”

McCarthy had her bail reduced and was released this past May, after her defense team presented the medical examiner with reports from nine outside specialists challenging the homicide finding, prompting a complete review of the post-mortem. The Levin information almost certainly would have sped up that process, Thompson said.

Charges against McCarthy were dropped Aug. 31, after the medical examiner changed the baby’s cause of death from homicide to “undetermined.” McCarthy, who was in the country illegally, was immediately deported back to Ireland.

It’s impossible to say for sure what would have happened if McCarthy’s attorneys had had the Levin information sooner. Judge Hogan found that, while prosecutors failed to fulfil their obligations, their actions did not constitute grounds for the case to be dismissed, or harm McCarthy’s chances of a fair trial.

But McCarthy’s attorneys are convinced she would not have sat in prison for more than two years if prosecutors had done the right thing.

“Their own expert was questioning the diagnosis of abuse,” said attorney Melinda Thompson. “Had the medical examiner been aware of this, her analysis could have been different early on.”

Even for those convinced McCarthy murdered Rehma Sabir, there is plenty here to be concerned about when it comes to Marian Ryan’s office. This is not how prosecutors should be bringing anybody to justice. The integrity of the entire system depends on fairness towards all defendants, regardless of guilt of innocence.

“Rules like those related to discovery are designed to make the playing field more even,” said Medwed, the Northeastern University professor. “Flouting those rules leaves defendants playing with one hand tied behind their backs.”

Ryan and her prosecutors know this. But maybe they need a reminder: Sometimes, justice and winning aren’t the same thing.

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

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Britain's Keystone Kops lose another one

Coming after the loss in the meritless Evans case and the bungled pursuit of the Tchenguiz brothers by the SFO -- costing the nation over $10 million -- isn't it time some legally competent people were put in charge of British fraud investigations?  Both the SFO and the NCA were so puffed up with their own importance that they felt they  could do no wrong.  They now know otherwise

Taxpayers are facing a £13 million bill after the National Crime Agency launched a bungled raid on a group of innocent businessmen – an operation a judge lambasted for its ‘grave errors’.

The scandal-hit organisation, created to be Britain’s equivalent of the FBI, has apologised to five businessmen, including three brothers, whose offices and homes it wrongly raided, ransacked and bugged during the disastrous operation.

After losing two court cases and being accused of ‘disreputable’ conduct by a judge, the NCA is now being sued over the damage it caused to the subjects of the failed investigation into alleged money-laundering.

It already faces paying the businessmen more than £600,000 in legal costs over the court cases, and is also being pursued in the High Court for more than £12 million in compensation.

In a letter seen by The Mail on Sunday, NCA manager Paul Risby told the men: ‘It has been decided that no further action will be taken against you.

‘I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the errors and deficiencies set out in the recent judgments… and apologise on behalf of the NCA. Lessons have been learned.’

Satish Chatwani, an accountant and company director who was at the centre of the abandoned case, said last night: ‘The personal humiliation which I, my brothers and our families have all suffered from the very public manner in which the NCA has engaged in repeated unlawful conduct against us and our businesses has been compounded by the financial damage caused to our commercial affairs.

‘I am so angry that innocent, law-abiding British citizens should have been so poorly treated.’

The collapse of Operation Heterodon – an eavesdropping operation that had echoes of hit US drama series The Wire – came after the NCA sent 100 officers to swoop on Kanta House, the West London headquarters of 41 companies, run by Mr Chatwani and his two brothers, in January this year.

Senior officers suspected the brothers and two associates knew money-launderers but had no evidence against them – so they arrested them and planted bugs in their office in the hope that they would return later and discuss their supposed crimes.

Officers also raided the men’s homes, seizing personal property.

In May, the Divisional Court ruled that the entries, searches and seizures were unlawful.

The NCA said: ‘We have recently written to the claimants in these proceedings to confirm that no further action will be taken against them and have apologised for the errors set out in the recent judgments.’

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

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Cop shoots dead unarmed 17-year-old driving back from church basketball game after teen flashed his lights to signal patrol car lights were on high

Some self-inflicted scratches on the cop?

The devastated family of an unarmed teenage boy who was shot dead by a Michigan sheriff's deputy earlier this year after flashing his car lights at him has filed a lawsuit against the officer.

Deven Guilford, 17, was pulled over by Sgt. Jonathan Frost, of Eaton County Sheriff's Department, on a cold evening in February after flashing the officer because he believed his brights were on.

During the traffic stop, Guilford refused to put his hands behind his back or give Frost any official documents, leading to an altercation between them, according to county prosecutor Doug Lloyd.

This ended with Guilford lying dead in a snow-filled ditch, having been shot seven times by Frost.

Now, the teenager's grief-stricken relatives are taking legal action against the officer and the county - four months after Lloyd cleared Frost of any criminal wrongdoing in the February 28 shooting.

In their suit, filed in federal court Wednesday, the family members claim Frost's 'entire course of action' in the fatal incident was illegal' - and that it was 'in violation of Deven's constitutional rights'.

'As we take this action today we are outraged at the huge miscarriage of justice done to our son Deven Guilford,' the boy's parents, Brian and Becky Guilford, said in a statement Wednesday.

They added that their trust in officials has been 'shaken to the core' following their son's death.

The suit requests a jury trial in the case, according to the Detroit Free Press.

However, it does not seek specific financial damages.

Guilford had just finished playing a game of basketball at a local church and was driving to his girlfriend's home in her 2010 Ford Focus on the M-43 near Mulliken at around 8.30pm when he passed by Frost, an eight-year veteran on the force who was driving a new patrol car.

Believing the officer's bright lights were on, the teenager flashed him. He was one of at least three motorists to flash Frost, implying his vehicle had 'improperly bright or misaimed' lights, the suit says.

Guilford was subsequently pulled over by Frost and asked for identifying documents.

However, he allegedly refused to give the officer his driver's license - which was actually at his girlfriend's house - as well as his registration or his proof of insurance, Lloyd told the Press.

Frost then pulled the teenager out of his car and told him to lie on his stomach on the ground, which Guilford did. However, when he was asked to put his hands behind his back, he refused to do so.

Seconds later, Frost fired his stun gun into Guilford, but it was not completely effective, it is reported.

An 'altercation' then apparently occurred, which left Frost bloody and resulted in Guilford's shooting death.

Photos from the night of the incident that were released by the Eaton county Prosecutor's Office in June depicted Officer Frost with facial injuries and thick, dark blood streaks on his forehead, nose and lips.

Prosecuting Attorney Doug Lloyd, who made the gory images public, said that during his scuffle with Guilford, Frost could taste blood in his mouth and felt he was about to pass out before he unholstered his gun and shot the teenage seven times at close range in the span of four seconds, reported the Detroit Free Press at the time.

After the shooting, Frost was taken to a hospital to be treated for injuries to his face and head. He was released the next morning after X-rays showed he did not suffer a fractured jaw or orbital bone, as had been initially feared.

Footage captured on the teenager's cell phone and Frost's body camera shows the officer approaching Guilford's car, before telling him: 'Trust me, I did not have [my bright lights] on.'

Frost then repeatedly asks the boy for his driver's license, registration and proof of insurance, before dragging him out of his vehicle, ordering him to lie on the ground and training his stun gun on him.

'Arms out to the side,' Frost instructs Guilford angrily.

After the teenager refuses to put his hands behind his back so he can be handcuffed, Frost can be seen physically restraining him, causing Guilford to cry: 'Officer, what are you doing?'

As the boy struggles, Frost then tasers him, prompting him to jump up. The footage then goes blurry, before cutting off altogether, so it does not depict the moment of the deadly shooting.

Frost's camera apparently came off in the struggle, while Guilford's phone lay on the sidewalk.

Guilford was pronounced dead at the scene.

In their statement on Wednesday, Guilford's parents referred to the video footage, saying: 'Since the moment we viewed the body camera footage our confusion has turned to outrage over what was done to Deven at the hands of Frost and the whole Eaton County “justice” system.

'We always had great respect for law enforcement and the men and women who chose that profession in the past. But we must say that belief has been shaken to the core by the actions of Frost and refusal of the Eaton County Prosecutor to hold Frost accountable.'

Cynthia Heenan, of Constitutional Litigation Associates P.C., who is representing Deven's family, said the teenager's fatal shooting represents a 'disturbing trend of demanding 100 per cent compliance with police authority, coupled with zero tolerance of risk of harm to police officers.'

She added that Guilford's death was 'tragic and totally unnecessary'.

Lloyd's decision to clear Frost of any criminal wrongdoing followed an internal investigation into the incident, which found the deputy followed official 'regulations, general orders and training'.

Hugh Davis, another attorney representing the family pits the blame on the militarization of police in the U.S.

He told CNN that it has gotten to the point where 'you can't question an officer' or else they will respond with 'violence'.

The inquiry also found Guilford had traces of marijuana in his system.

However, the teenager's relatives maintain that Frost acted illegally by shooting Guilford dead - and that he also had no right to pull him over in the first place, The Free Thought Project reports.

They have set up a Facebook page dedicated to getting 'justice' for Guilford.

On the page, named 'Justice For Deven Guilford', they write: 'Deven Guilford was 17 years old, on his way home from a church basketball game, when he was pulled over by an Eaton county police officer. This routine traffic stop turned into a struggle and Deven was shot and killed. 'Our family is seeking justice, accountability, and SUPPORT!'

In one post, Guilford's relatives explain how they are 'not anti-cop or 'anti-Eaton County' - and had 'backed every officer' involved in a shooting 'before this happened to our beloved Deven'.

But they write: 'If the facts were plain and simple that Deven was in the wrong, we would not be going forward with any of this but there are too many holes in the story.'

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, October 16, 2015

Strange British police priorities

The other day, my daughter's phone went missing on a crowded bus home from school.  She was convinced it had been stolen from her bag — so I called the local police, filed a report, then rang my insurance to place a claim.

I thought nothing more of it until, just before 10pm the following evening, the landline rang.  It was a woman from the Met: they wanted to interview my 12-year-old about the alleged theft of her mobile phone.   I was told it was standard policy to interview all victims of mobile phone theft in cases involving minors.

Two days later, a constable turned up to interrogate my daughter. He spent half an hour asking questions and taking notes, before concluding her testimony was not convincing enough to be certain a crime had been committed.  He would amend the report accordingly, and let us have the new paperwork in due course.

Aside from being rather unsettling for a young girl, it struck me as a monumental waste of effort.  Surely that officer's time would have been better spent doing some actual policing rather than on a bureaucratic box-ticking exercise?

I felt this even more strongly when, a few days later, I was woken around 3.30am by the sound of our alarm going off.

The system was recently installed after my husband took on his new role as Justice Secretary.  He was away, and as the children were sleeping with me (as they always do when he's not around), I locked the bedroom door and rang the 101 police helpline (not being a life-or-death emergency I thought better of calling 999).

After listening to a recorded message from Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, I was put through and explained my predicament.

'Is there any sign of a break-in?' asked the female operator. I explained that I couldn't see — because I was locked in my bedroom and didn't fancy going downstairs on my own to find out.

This was a problem. Unless there were signs of a break-in, she said, the police wouldn't come out.

I can't really remember what I said, but I recall expressing surprise that a lone woman with two children reporting a potential break-in would not merit at least a quick drive-by from a local patrol car.

She said she'd put in a call to the Met Police to double check, but came back and confirmed: they would not attend unless there was definite evidence of a break-in.

In fairness to the 101 lady and the constable who came about the phone, they were very nice.

But they seem depressing examples of how so many of the decisions the police make are based on centralised, computer- generated, tick-box protocol rather than common sense.

The most egregious case was the scheme in Leicestershire where they would investigate burglaries only at even-numbered homes.

What on earth is going on? How can it be that the police have the time to make house calls to interview 12-year-olds about something as trivial as a missing mobile phone, but won't attend someone genuinely concerned for her own safety?

Even with the best will in the world, I can't help feeling that instinct and intelligence seem to have deserted the Force in favour of a kind of policing by numbers that leaves people like me — law-abiding citizens who have always had respect for the police — utterly baffled.

As for the alarm, it was all fine on the night — although, in the cold light of day, the garage door looked as though someone had been having a go at it.

One thing's for sure, though: if it happens again, the police will be the last people I call.

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, October 15, 2015

Tulsa Mother Of Murdered 3-Month-Old wants compensation for  Wrongful Conviction

A woman who was freed from prison after being sentenced to life for slitting her 3-month-old son's throat has filed a lawsuit for her wrongful conviction.

Michelle Murphy’s lawsuit says an officer at the time coerced a confession from her, planted evidence and that there was faulty and false blood comparisons.

The Tulsa Police Department, former Tulsa County District Attorney, Tim Harris and a number of former police officers are named in the suit.

Some of the allegations include:

    Ms. Murphy’s wrongful arrest, detention, prosecution, conviction, and imprisonment were the result of egregious misconduct by law enforcement officers, forensic analysts and their supervisors, acting individually and in concert to use any means necessary to obtain a conviction;

    Detective Mike Cook coerced a confession from the seventeen (17) year-old Ms. Murphy which had no basis in reality and Cook knowingly used this false evidence to support a probable cause arrest affidavit;

    Det. Cook prompted and threatened Ms. Murphy into stating she was in a “dream” and she “accidentally fell” and, if Cook is credited, she accidentally cut through the bone, grizzle and sinew of her infant son’s neck;

    At the end of the day, TPD was stuck with an implausible statement and a misleading new release to the media that Ms. Murphy was a murderess who had “confessed”;

    Faced with this reality, acting individually and in concert, the defendants then intentionally planted evidence and fabricated false inculpatory evidence against Ms. Murphy, irreparably and unconstitutionally tainting her criminal trial by distorting the other evidence presented against her – faulty and false blood comparison evidence from the so-called forensic lab and evidence from a paid informant whose recent released from a mental hospital was withheld from the jury;

    Det. Cook even groomed the probable killer into a star eyewitness before this witness died under mysterious circumstances;

Murphy, who had been in jail or prison for 20 years, had her sentence vacated by DNA evidence in 2014.

In the 1995 trial, prosecutors argued that certain samples of blood at the crime scene did not belong to the baby. Subsequent DNA testing showed that was incorrect, documents say.

Murphy's attorney's claimed the baby was killed by 14-year-old neighborhood kid William Lee, who committed suicide after Murphy's preliminary trial. According to court documents, Lee had a history as a juvenile delinquent. Lee is the one who called 911 from a pay phone in the neighborhood the night the baby died. He told dispatchers he was reporting a domestic situation, documents say.

Lee later testified that he couldn't sleep and was walking around outside the apartment complex in the middle of the night when he heard Murphy and the baby's father arguing. He claimed that through the apartment windows, he saw Murphy carry the baby from one room to another, and the next time she appeared, she had blood on her arms and the baby was in the floor in blood.

After his death, investigators took a sample of Lee's tissue in an autopsy to compare to the blood found at the murder scene. Lee had the same AB blood type as the baby. According to court documents, Murphy's genetic profile and Type A blood did not match the blood samples extracted from the crime scene, court documents say.

The case against Murphy was dismissed with prejudice, which prevents it from being refiled in the future.

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, October 14, 2015

Family of black shot by cop reaches  $6.5M settlement with city

The family of Walter Scott, a black South Carolina man shot and killed by a police officer who is now facing murder charges, has reached a $6.5 million settlement with city officials.

The North Charleston, S.C. city council approved the settlement Thursday night at a hearing attended by Scott's family and their attorneys.

Officer Michael Slager, who is white, was arrested and charged with murder after a videotape taken by a bystander showed the officer shooting a fleeing Scott in the back multiple times on April 4. Scott died at the scene. The video, replayed across the country, captured national attention and underscored increasing tension between white police officers and black men.

"I am glad the city and the family were able to reach a settlement without the necessity of a lawsuit," North Charleston Mayor R. Keith Summey said shortly after the settlement's approval. "Both sides have met many times and worked very hard over the past several months to resolve this matter."

Summey said he appreciated Scott's family asking for calm shortly after video of Scott's death surfaced. He explained that since the shooting, North Charleston has taken several steps including outfitting police with body cameras as well as engaging the North Charleston police department and the Justice Department.

South Carolina authorities released patrol car dash camera video Thursday showing Walter Scott getting out of his car and running away after a traffic stop moments before he was shot dead by a North Charleston police officer. VPC

"As a result of this tragedy, important issues have been discussed not only in North Charleston, but around the country," Summey said. "Citizens have become engaged in the process and government officials are listening."

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, which is investigating the shooting, also released video taken by a police patrol car dash camera showing Scott, 50, getting out of his car and running away after a traffic stop moments before he was shot dead by Slager.

In that video, Slager, approaches a dark Mercedes-Benz driven by Scott and says he pulled him over because of a non-functioning taillight. Scott can be heard saying he doesn't have registration or insurance on the vehicle because he was in the process of buying it.

After a brief exchange, the officer returns to his cruiser. Scott tentatively gets out from the car, then gets back in. Moments later Scott opens the door again and runs off the side of the screen. Slager then runs after him.

Thursday night, Scott's family reflected on the settlement and Slager's fate.

"While nothing can replace having Walter in our lives, the city of North Charleston’s historic actions ensure that he did not die in vain," Anthony Scott, Walter Scott’s brother said. "This city sent a message, loud and clear, that this kind of reckless behavior exhibited by members of law enforcement will not and shall not be tolerated."

Anthony Scott added that the family is now hoping that Slager is convicted of murder.

"We will now focus on efforts in the criminal trial of Walter’s killer," Anthony Scott said. "It is our hope that after a jury of his peers reviews the evidence, they’ll send an equally important message to law enforcement. This is not place for unnecessary violence against unarmed fleeing individuals."

Walter Scott's family said the settlement will go toward Scott's children and that a portion of the money will also be donated to help with disaster relief efforts for recent flooding in South Carolina.

Original report here

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

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Man released after spending 28 years in prison for wrongful conviction

A man imprisoned for 28 years for the 1987 slayings of two people in Dallas was released Monday after his conviction based on now-discredited bite-mark analysis was overturned.

Steven Mark Chaney was sentenced to life in prison after a dentist told a Dallas County jury in 1989 there was a 1 in a million chance that someone other than Chaney made bite marks found on John Sweek's body. The dentist now says he was wrong.

State District Judge Dominique Collins overturned Chaney's conviction after receiving a joint request from Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk, The Innocence Project and the Dallas County Public Defender's Office. Chaney, 59, will remain free while the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reviews the findings.

"I could sit and recount all the wrongs," Chaney told reporters after Monday's hearing. "The loss of my oldest stepson, my oldest grandchild two year ago, but this is a time for rejoicing and not recounting."

At least one juror after Chaney's trial said the bite evidence convinced her he was guilty, despite testimony from nine witnesses who said they had spent time with him the day of the slayings and that he couldn't have been at John and Sally Sweek's home when they were killed.

In recent years, forensic scientists have raised doubts about the reliability of bite mark evidence. In 2009, the National Academy of Sciences published a report that concluded there was insufficient scientific basis to conclusively match bite marks. The Texas Forensic Science Commission is reviewing cases in which bite analysis contributed to a conviction to determine whether they warrant further investigation.

The defense lawyers also allege that prosecutors knowingly presented false evidence that blood had been found on the bottom of Chaney's tennis shoe. They say prosecutors withheld notes from another expert who said there was no blood on Chaney's shoes.

They also say prosecutors elicited false testimony from a co-worker of Chaney's, who initially told police that Chaney had asked him to be a "witness" to tell authorities that he had last been at the victims' home a week before the killings. But at trial, the co-worker told the jury that Chaney had asked him to be an "alibi" witness.

Chaney's attorneys have filed court papers saying new evidence establishes he is innocent. The district attorney's office has taken no position yet on whether he is innocent but concluded he did not receive a fair trial.

"We're confident that when the reinvestigation is complete, the district attorney's office will be in a position to formally agree that he is innocent of this crime," said Julie Less, exoneration attorney for the Dallas County Public Defender's Office, in a statement.

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