Louisiana Federal Prosecutor Sal Perricone Loses Job, Faces Lawsuit Over Years Of Obnoxious Online Comments

September 6, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – Not content to go after suspected wrongdoers in court, a Louisiana federal prosecutor apparently spent years attacking them in the comments section of the local newspaper’s website as well. His online barbs, posted under pseudonyms such as “Henry L. Mencken1951,” “legacyusa,” and “dramatis personae,” were meant to be anonymous. Instead, they have cost him his job and made him the target of at least one defamation lawsuit.

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the owner of a landfill that is the target of a federal probe got so fed up with Mencken1951’s comments on NOLA.com articles about him that he hired the famous forensic linguist James Fitzgerald to unmask the troll. Fitzgerald compared the comments to a legal brief by then-Assistant U.S. Attorney Sal Perricone, and found striking similarities, including the use of obscure words such as “dubiety” and “redoubt.” Perricone eventually fessed up and stepped down from his position, and he now faces a defamation lawsuit from the landfill owner, Fred Heebe.

A sample comment about Heebe from Mencken1951: “If Heebe had one firing synapse, he would go speak to Letten’s posse and purge himself of this sordid episode and let them go after the council and public officials. Why prolong this pain… .” Letten refers to Perricone’s boss, U.S. Attorney James Letten.

Now the saga has apparently inspired another embattled local figure to lash out against his online tormentors. Yesterday the Times-Picayune reported that an indicted parish president has filed a defamation lawsuit against a NOLA.com commenter who goes by the name “campstblue.” The suspected culprit? None other than Perricone, who, if the allegations are correct, also took potshots at a deputy U.S. attorney general who might end up having a say in deciding whether Perricone gets censured for his conduct.

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Stevenson Alabama City Attorney Parker Edmiston Pisses Away Tax Dollars And Court Time To Make Man Dig Up And Move His Wife’s Grave

August 21, 2012

STEVENSON, ALABAMA – An Alabama man is fighting city officials to keep his wife buried in his front yard.

James Davis told The Associated Press he only buried his wife in front of their log home in Stevenson, Ala., because she asked him to when she died in 2009.

The city sued to move the body elsewhere, citing a need to avoid setting a precedent, and a county judge has ordered Davis to disinter his wife.

However, that order is on hold as the Alabama Civil Court of Appeals considers his challenge to the ruling.

Davis, 73, told the AP he’s shocked by the fight.

“Good Lord, they’ve raised pigs in their yard, there’s horses out the road here in a corral in the city limits, they’ve got other gravesites here all over the place,” he said. “And there shouldn’t have been a problem.”

City Attorney Parker Edmiston reminded critics that Davis lives in downtown Stevenson, not out in the country.

“We’re not in the 1800s any longer,” he told the AP. “We’re not talking about a homestead, we’re not talking about someone who is out in the country on 40 acres of land.

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Queer Awarded $4.3 Million After Being Stalked, Harassed, And Defamed By Now-Fired And Unemployed Michigan Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell – Lawyer’s Obsession, Bogus First Amendment Claims, And Use Of State Computers Didn’t Do Much For His Career…

August 19, 2012

MICHIGAN – A federal court jury Thursday awarded $4.5million to an openly gay former University of Michigan student body president who accused a former state attorney of stalking and defaming him.

The civil case involved Andrew Shirvell, the former assistant attorney general fired in 2010 after he stirred a national controversy with his campaign against Christopher Armstrong, at the time U-M’s student body president.

Shirvell, a U-M alumnus, created the Chris Armstrong Watch blog, calling him “a radical homosexual activist, racist, elitist and liar.” He had cast the blog as speech protected by the First Amendment.

Standing outside federal courtin downtown Detroit shortly after the verdict, Armstrong said he was “elated.”

“This is not just a victory for myself — it’s a victory for a lot of other people,” Armstrong said. “It sends a message to bullies.”

Armstrong, who graduated in 2011, had said Shirvell contacted his friends, showed up at his public appearances and insulted his family and friends on the blog.

Shirvell, who represented himself, said the jury award was “grossly excessive” and vowed to appeal with help from the Thomas More Society, a Chicago-based nonprofit national public interest law firm.

“It’s just shocking that a jury would trample on my First Amendment rights the way they did,” he told The News. “That’s why the case should’ve been thrown out months ago by the judge. … Juries give First Amendment rights short shrift.”

Shirvell also said he’s unemployed and “there’s no possible way” he could pay the verdict, but he is prepared to fight the case even to the Supreme Court.

Armstrong, who filed the lawsuit in April 2011, had offered to drop the suit if Shirvell apologized and retract his statements.

Attorney Deborah Gordon said the jury’s decision came down to holding someone accountable for unacceptable behavior. “It means the community is not going to stand by and watch this happen to another person,” she said.

The impact also appeared to have swayed jurors, said Larry Dubin, a law professor at the University of Detroit Mercy.

“The First Amendment does not protect language that defames someone’s reputation or conduct that constitutes stalking or intentionally causes significant emotional damage to an intended victim,” he said. “It seems that the jury in this case was highly offended by the conduct … and expressed that outrage by awarding a very large verdict.”

The award caps a scandal that gained national attention.

The suit claimed Shirvell “developed a bizarre personal obsession” with Armstrong in early 2010 after claiming he was a radical homosexual activist.

Shirvell had created a Facebook group under the name of “U of M Alumni and Others Against Chris Armstrong and his Radical MSA (Michigan Student Assembly) Agenda.” Facebook shut down the page, but a blog was created spreading false and defamatory information, the suit said.

Earlier this year, a federal judge declined to dismiss the lawsuit against him. And in March, a Michigan hearing officer upheld Shirvell’s 2010 firing by then-Attorney General Mike Cox for using state computers to wage a campaign against Armstrong.

Shirvell had appealed, saying his conduct was protected by the First Amendment. But William Hutchens of the Michigan Civil Service Commission said the dismissal was just and the attorney engaged in “hate speech” on a blog and “physical and mental harassment.”

Last year, Armstrong announced he and his family were establishing a scholarship for bullied students. Gordon said money from the verdict would go to the fund.

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House Oversight Chair Issa Predicts Disgraced US Attorney General Will Be Held In Contempt (But of course it will be civil, and less than a slap on the wrist…)

June 24, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – The top Republican leading the House investigation into Operation Fast and Furious said Sunday he expects a “bipartisan” floor vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress this coming week.

“I believe they will (vote to hold him in contempt),” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., told “Fox News Sunday.” “Both Republicans and Democrats will vote that — I believe it will be bipartisan.”

Issa kept his focus on the Justice Department, clarifying that he has no evidence the White House was involved in any Fast and Furious cover-up. But he repeatedly said Congress is trying to get to the bottom of why the Justice Department “lied” about the operation.

The comments underscored the apparent momentum among majority House Republicans behind the contempt push, following a committee contempt vote against Holder along party lines this past week. That vote proceeded after Holder and Republicans were unable to reach an agreement over subpoenaed documents pertaining to the Obama administration’s Fast and Furious discussions.

Issa said Sunday it’s possible the vote could be delayed or even “eliminated” if the administration produces the subpoenaed documents the House is seeking. He noted the entire schedule is at the discretion of House Speaker John Boehner.

“But we have to see the documents first,” he said.

Barring such a resolution, Issa and his allies are teeing up a major election-year clash this coming week between the Executive and Legislative branches, and between Democrats and Republicans.

President Obama intervened this past week, invoking executive privilege to protect the documents in question, but Republicans dismissed the claim and proceeded with the contempt vote. On the sidelines, minority House Democrats are pleading with Republicans take a step back and work out the document dispute without the threat of contempt. At the same time, both sides are antagonizing each other at the dais and in the press over what Democrats claim has become a political “witch hunt.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings, R-Md., ranking Democrat on the oversight committee, told “Fox News Sunday” that the confrontation was entirely avoidable.

“I think it’s extremely unfortunate,” he said. “The attorney general has made it clear that he is willing to work with this Congress.”

Cummings called on Boehner to intervene and try to reach an agreement with Holder that involves turning over some documents while also halting the contempt proceedings.

“I think that we have a duty … at this critical moment to get the documents,” he said. “I know we can get them. It’s just a matter of sitting down and talking to Holder.”

Cummings suggested the course of the committee’s investigation has lost sight of one of the major reasons for the probe — the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, whose murder scene included weapons from the Fast and Furious operation.

But Issa defended the escalation, saying the committee is trying to obtain critical documents to help explain why Congress was initially told — incorrectly — in February 2011 that the government did not knowingly let guns “walk” across the U.S.-Mexico border. The department later issued a correction to that statement.

“We, in fact, are simply trying to get to the truth when we were told a lie,” Issa said. “It’s about the cover-up.”

“Ultimately, Justice lied to the American people on February 4 (2011), and they didn’t make it right for 10 months.”

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Judges, Lawyers, And Staff From Ninth Federal Circuit Take Hawaii Vacation At Taxpayer Expense – Over A Million Dollars Down The Drain

May 20, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Judges from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, federal district and bankruptcy courts in nine Western states and two Pacific island territories, along with lawyers practicing in those courts, and court staff, will gather at the luxurious Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa from August 13 – 16, 2012 in what looks like a less than valiant attempt to ensure American justice is being served…at a cost to taxpayers of approximately one million dollars.

From tennis courts to the caddy shack and luau experience, justice will be served in a manner many Americans never get to experience. Breitbart News has reviewed a letter from the offices of the Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, Senator Jeff Sessions, and the offices of Senator Chuck Grassley, the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, with several detailed questions they want answered by the Ninth District.

The letter cites the 2010 version of the Ninth Circuit’s annual judicial conference that cost taxpayers over $657,000 in travel costs alone, along with $860,000 in combined travel costs for the Ninth Circuit’s 2008 and 2009 annual conferences in Monterey, California and Sun Valley, Idaho, respectively. It also provides evidence of the Ninth Circuit’s awareness of the Government’s budget challenges in the face of a still suffering Obama economy, going on to challenge why the Ninth Circuit seems determined to go on spending large amounts of money on plush conferences, when a more prudent approach could provide the same value for professional purposes.

The Senate’s latest effort doesn’t appear to be just a bit of politically motivated PR of some form. The Ninth District is considered by many to be the most liberal of all U.S. Court Districts, with 64% of sitting judges having been appointed by Democrats–the highest of all the districts. Many also consider the district as having the highest rate of being overturned by the Supreme Court. Research by Breitbart News suggests other districts are making efforts to cut back, while the Ninth District appears to have maintained a Party on, dude! attitude when it comes to putting on its judicial conferences.

As in past years, the Ninth District seems content to leave taxpayers on the hook for whisking many judges and aligned judicial professionals off to an exclusive destination, so that they might also enjoy “yoga, surfing lessons, stand up paddle board lessons, Zumba (a Latin-inspired dance program), a tennis tournament, a day trip and tour of Upcountry Maui, a Gemini Catamaran snorkle trip, and an activity called ‘The Aloha Experience.'”

That list from the Senate letter appears to have been taken directly from a flashy webpage that functions as a brochure of sorts for the expedition. All of the activities would be subsidized, or paid for by tax payers to some extent, despite a claim at bottom that “Government funds are not used for any sporting or recreational activities”.

What happens in Maui may stay in Maui, but one still has to get there and back, while salaries also have to be taken into account. That was pointed out in a previous report on the Ninth Circuit’s 2011 conference by another news outlet. In 2011, they claimed, “a minimum of $700,000 will be spent on salaries of the 267 judges in attendance, which range from $164,000 to $223,500” for last year’s event. They also reported that each judge was eligible for a $391 per day stipend for hotel and food costs, that could total $417,600 over last year’s four day Ninth Circuit conference.

Meanwhile, independent research by Breitbart News suggests some, if not all other districts, are taking a more prudent, responsible approach in hosting their annual conferences this year. The Eighth Circuit seems to be taking a more modest approach with a three day event, if this is representative: “The judges of the Eighth Circuit invite you to join them August 8 – 10, 2012, at the Kansas City Marriott Downtown for the Eighth Circuit Judicial Conference.”

The Seventh Circuit appears to team up with the District’s Bar Association for a 3 day conference in Chicago, at first glance, at least appearing to be far more down to business oriented. The main site for the Sixth District’s 2012 annual conference is here. It lists a number of what it calls “social” events in this linkable document, and the Sixth Circuit doesn’t appear to have the fancy website, though it looks inviting enough, without going to the length, or approach of the Ninth District, relying instead on typed documents in pdf form to present relevant information.

While deadline prevented Breitbart News from doing an exhaustive analysis of all the districts, there does appear to be a glaring contrast between the Ninth Circuit’s approach and that of many other districts, as pointed out in an August 2011 write up by U-T San Diego, done while the Ninth Circuit was presumeably educating, as well as entertaining and serving justice and itself in grand style–some part of it at taxpayer expense–at the La Costa Resort & Spa with “400 lush garden acres near the beach in Carlsbad, CA–but miles away from the pressures of the world” according to this report.

CARLSBAD — Hundreds of federal judges from nine western states are gathering at the La Costa Resort & Spa this week for the annual 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ Judicial Conference.

The event is costing $225,000 to put on — funded with $50,000 of taxpayer money and $175,000 in payments from attorneys who are charged to attend.

In addition, The Watchdog estimates a minimum of $700,000 will be spent on salaries of the 267 judges in attendance, which range from $164,000 to $223,500.

A conference session Wednesday afternoon highlighted the impact of judiciary budget cuts.

While federal law permits the conference as a means for improving the justice system, some circuits have started canceling or curtailing the conferences, citing budget woes.

Three of the 12 federal court circuits — the ones in New England, the Rocky Mountain states and some mid-Atlantic states — have canceled their next judicial conference, The Watchdog found in a survey.

Others aim to keep costs low by holding conferences at lower cost venues. For the Washington D.C. Circuit, that means Farmington, Penn., where they can stay in $110 per night accommodations.

They may not always get the law right, given what many view as the Ninth Circuit’s high rate of being overturned, but it appears as though they can do a mean “Zumba” and have some darned good tans, while not exactly starving themselves as many Americans continue to look for work in President Obama’s down economy.

In background discussions for this report, the offices of Senators Sessions and Grassley seemed determined to get to the bottom of what’s going on in the Ninth Circuit in this regard. No doubt conservative media and new media outlets will be spanking the bottoms of some mostly liberal judges on conservative blogs and other venues, perhaps as they should, while this story unfolds this week.

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Random White Target Store Shopper Becomes Target Herself For Savage Black Beast With A Butcher Knive

May 18, 2012

DALLAS, TEXAS – A Dallas man remains in jail after police say he randomly stabbed a shopper inside a Target store.

Police say Antowann Davis, 30, walked into the Target on Marsh Lane around 9:15 p.m. Thursday and took a butcher knife out of its packaging in the kitchen department.

Martha Jones, 29, said she was browsing inside the store when Davis walked past her and shoved the knife into her lower back.

“I felt something behind me,” said Jones, a Dallas-based lawyer, from her bed at Parkland Memorial Hospital. “He stabbed me in the back and kept walking.”

Jones remained in the hospital in good condition Friday.

She said Davis never spoke to her, or even tried to grab her purse. She said she had never seen him before.

Although court documents say Jones lost a lot of blood, she was able to call for help and provide security a good description of the suspect. Dallas police arrested Davis a block away.

Davis faces an aggravated assault charge, and remains in the Dallas County Jail on a $25,000 bond.

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Manchester UK Police And Prosecutors Didn’t Investigate Gang Of Asians Raping White Children For Fear Of Being Racist – 50 Victims Passed Around While Police Did Nothing

May 9, 2012

MANCHESTER, UK – The nine men from Rochdale were yesterday convicted of abusing five vulnerable teenagers after plying them with alcohol, food and small sums of money in return for sex.

However, the true number of victims, who were “passed around” by the gang, is likely to be nearer to 50, police have admitted.

Greater Manchester Police and the Crown Prosecution Service have now apologised after they failed to bring the case of the first victim – Girl A – to trial following her cry for help in August 2008.

One 13 year-old victim became pregnant and had the child aborted while another was forced to have sex with 20 men in one night, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

Complaints to social workers and the police were ignored because they were “petrified of being called racist”, former Labour MP for Keighley Ann Cryer said.

Mrs Cryer, who has campaigned to bring the issue of Asian sex gangs to light, said the girls had been “betrayed” and condemned to “untold misery” by the police and social services.

“This is an absolute scandal. They were petrified of being called racist and so reverted to the default of political correctness,” she said.

“They had a greater fear of being perceived in that light than in dealing with the issues in front of them.”

Girl A told police that she had been raped and provided DNA evidence from her attacker, however the CPS twice decided not to prosecute him.

The 15 year-old’s abuse continued and at its height she was being driven to flats and houses to be raped by up to five men a night, four or five days a week. She was singled out because she was white, vulnerable and under-age.

Her ordeal only ended when her teachers forced social workers to intervene after she fell pregnant and they became concerned by the number of Asian men picking her up from school.

Girl A said that in a six-hour interview she gave police details about her abusers and where the attacks took place. Crucially, too, she handed officers underwear that proved she had been raped by two men in a single attack.

“I hoped they were going to do something and it would stop,” she said.

“But it just carried on. It just started again with different men and more men this time, and that’s when it started becoming up to five men a day”.

Kabeer Hassan, Abdul Aziz, Abdul Rauf, Mohammed Sajid, Adil Khan, Abdul Qayyum, Mohammed Amin, Hamid Safi and a 59-year-old man who cannot be named for legal reasons were yesterday found guilty of running a child exploitation ring at Liverpool Crown Court.

Greater Manchester Police is now being investigated by the IPCC over the failings of its first investigation in 2008.

When GMP did finally pass a file on Girls A’s rape to the CPS the following year, a Crown lawyer decided not to charge anyone because he said she would not be a sufficiently credible witness to put before a jury. A second CPS lawyer backed that opinion.

It was only after social workers notice an upsurge in cases of child grooming that police reinvestigated and made a series of arrests which led to yesterday’s convictions.

It can be reported that the trial was delayed by two weeks when two Asian barristers quit the case due to intimidation by far right groups outside Liverpool Crown Court.

And a tweet from BNP leader Nick Griffin almost caused the trial to collapse when it led to allegations of the jury having a “far-right bias”.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood acknowledged that officers could have dealt with the case “better than we did”.

But he denied that the girl’s complaints had been “brushed under the carpet” because officers were reluctant to confront the issue of race.

“At the time we did what we thought was best,” he said. “We have learned a lot of lessons.

“The issue here is genuinely about vulnerability. It just happens that they are Asian men. In no way did we sweep it under the carpet.”

Steve Garner, head of children’s services at Rochdale Council, denied the teenager had been let down by his department.

“No,” he said. “I think it’s really important to remember that what we know now and what we knew in 2008 is very, very different and what we have done is put the lessons in place”.

Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk said: “What’s become clear is that if police had acted seriously on these concerns in 2008 many of the victims of this appalling case would not have had to go through such horrific trauma.

“It is simply unacceptable that these young women were let down in this way by people they should have been able to trust.”

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“Justice For Sale” Under Obama And Disgraced US Attorney General Eric Holder – Department Of Justice Not Prosecuting Wall Street Execs Represented By Law Firms Where Holder And His Top Aides Worked

May 8, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – In an explosive Newsweek article set to rock official Washington, reporter Peter Boyer and Breitbart contributing editor and Government Accountability Institute President Peter Schweizer reveal how Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice are operating under a “justice for sale” strategy by forgoing criminal prosecution of Wall Street executives at big financial institutions who just so happen to be clients of the white-shoe law firms where Holder and his top DOJ lieutenants worked.

There’s more.

Even as President Barack Obama and Holder co-opt the Occupy Wall Street rhetoric of getting “tough” on the Big Banks and Big Finance, the Newsweek investigative report reveals that Eric Holder has not criminally charged or prosecuted a single top executive from any of the elite financial institutions thought responsible for the financial crash. And why would they? As Boyer and Schweizer report, “through last fall, Obama had collected more donations from Wall Street than any of the Republican candidates; employees of Bain Capital donated more than twice as much to Obama as they did to Romney, who founded the firm.”

Collecting millions from Wall Street was hardly the plan Obama and Holder telegraphed upon entering office. In 2009, the new Attorney General said boldly:

We face unprecedented challenges in responding to the financial crisis that has gripped our economy for the past year. Mortgage, securities, and corporate fraud schemes have eroded the public’s confidence in the nation’s financial markets and have led to a growing sentiment that Wall Street does not play by the same rules as Main Street. Unscrupulous executives, Ponzi scheme operators, and common criminals alike have targeted the pocketbooks and retirement accounts of middle class Americans, and in many cases, devastated entire families’ futures. We will not allow these actions to go unpunished….This Task Force’s mission is not just to hold accountable those who helped bring about the last financial meltdown, but to prevent another meltdown from happening.

Obama unloaded on Wall Street too. In 2009, Obama created the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force and announced that its purpose was to hold “accountable those who helped bring about the last financial crisis as well as those who would attempt to take advantage of the efforts at economic recovery.”

But Holder and Obama’s anti-Wall Street “law and order” rhetoric has turned out to be a smokescreen that allows the Obama campaign to talk the talk of the 99% while taking money from Wall Street’s 1%. The result is extortion by proxy. As President Obama put it to the Big Finance executives who met with him at the White House just two months into his presidency, “My Administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”

Not surprisingly, of the elite bundlers who made up Obama’s 2008 campaign, the second most represented industry after law was the securities and investment industry. It’s a level of hypocrisy that has outraged even committed leftists. Industrial Areas Foundation activist Mike Gecan put it squarely: “I’m from Chicago, I’ve seen this game played my whole life.”

So what have the securities and banking industries received for their political contributions?

As Boyer and Schweizer report, Department of Justice criminal prosecutions are at 20-year lows for corporate securities and bank fraud. And while large financial institutions have faced civil prosecution, those typically end in settlement fees with the major banks that represent a fraction of their profits, often paid through special taxes on mortgage-backed securities.

It’s the most crass and cynical brand of politics imaginable, the Chicago Way writ large: pay to play justice from the nation’s highest law enforcement official.

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Social Security Administration Tells Disability Judges To Stay Off Websites And Social Media While Deciding Cases

May 4, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – The Social Security Administration last month told its disability-claims judges they are no longer to seek out information from websites when deciding cases — taking away a tool some of those judges say would help in uncovering fraud.

Agency officials said reviewers can’t trust information posted online, and also said the mere act of typing in queries could compromise protected private information, so they shouldn’t try to access anything.

Social Security’s ban covers all Internet sites, including social media such as Facebook.

But Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican and a top taxpayer watchdog, said avoiding the Internet means giving up a valuable anti-fraud weapon — one that he said even federal courts have relied upon in some disability cases.

“If an individual claims to be disabled, and then publicly posts a picture participating in a sport or physical activity on a social media website, such information should be used by [adjudicators] to determine if the claimant was truly disabled,” Mr. Coburn wrote in a letter last week to Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue.

The dispute raises Internet-age questions about the information people make available about themselves online, and how proactive government agencies should be in seeking out that information when it comes to granting taxpayer-funded benefits.

Social Security officials said they don’t object to using information gleaned from the Internet, but they don’t want the front-line deciders going out looking for it. They said that’s a job for fraud investigators to follow up on later in the process.

“Adjudicators should do what they are trained to do — review voluminous files to determine eligibility for disability benefits. Office of Inspector General fraud investigators should do what they are trained to do — vigorously follow up on any evidence of fraud,” said Kia S. Green, a spokeswoman for the agency.

Disability claims make up two parts of the Social Security system, and an entire legal industry has sprung up to help applicants win their claims.

But Mr. Coburn said without unshackling the judges who review the claims, there’s nobody looking out for taxpayers’ interests in the process.

Administrative Law Judge Thomas W. Snook, who is based in Miami, agreed, saying the public has entrusted adjudicators with the responsibility to make good decisions on behalf of the applicants and the public, and the more tools they have, the better.

“After being a judge for over 20 years, I think I can decide on what weight to give the tools available to me,” Judge Snook said.

The Social Security spokeswoman did not say why the policy was implemented just last month, but some judges had already been using information they found on the Internet to deny claims.

The agency’s move to exclude online information comes a year after Mr. Coburn used material he found online to challenge the disability finding of Stanley Thornton Jr., a man who lives part time as an adult baby.

In addition to appearing on a television show building things such as an adult high chair — which Mr. Coburn said showed carpentry skills — Mr. Thornton ran a website for others who want to live the “adult baby” lifestyle. The senator said that showed he had web development skills that could land him a job, too.

In the wake of Mr. Coburn’s complaint, Mr. Thornton said he was visited by federal investigators, but he told The Washington Times last year that he had been cleared of fraud.

Some administrative law judges have come under scrutiny in recent years for appearing to be too lenient.

The Wall Street Journal reported last year on one judge in West Virginia who approved 99.7 percent of his disability claims cases, while the national average is about 60 percent. That judge, David B. Daugherty, resigned soon after the article appeared.

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Effort By House Oversight Committee To Hold Disgraced US Attorney General Eric Holder In Contempt Making Progress – His Department’s Efforts Armed Mexican Drug Cartels, Then Hid Documents Amid Investigation

May 3, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Republicans on the House Oversight Committee were to take the first formal step Thursday toward contempt proceedings against Attorney General Eric Holder over the Fast and Furious “gunwalking” operation, CBS News has learned.

The case for a citation declaring Holder in contempt will be laid out in a briefing paper and 48-page draft citation distributed to Democrats and Republicans on the committee. CBS News has obtained copies of both documents. In them, Republican members use strong language to accuse Holder of obstructing the committee’s investigation, which is now in its second year.

The documents allege that the Justice Department has issued, “false denials, given answers intended to misdirect investigators, sought to intimidate witnesses, unlawfully withheld subpoenaed documents, and waited to be confronted with indisputable evidence before acknowledging uncomfortable facts.”

“The Justice Department’s demonstrable contempt for the congressional investigation has inflicted harm on the people of two nations seeking the truth – and very pointedly on the family of fallen Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and ATF whistleblowers who now face retaliation in the wake of their own heroic efforts to expose wrongdoing,” says the brief to be distributed Thursday.

For its part, the Justice Department says it has complied with the congressional investigations, led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa).

“We’ve done twice-a-month (document) productions since last year, and the Attorney General has testified about this matter no less than seven times,” a Justice official tells CBS News.

There have been at least three House contempt actions against the Executive Branch in the past 30 years.

In 1983, Congress found EPA administrator Anne Gorsuch Burford in contempt for failing to produce subpoenaed documents.

In 1998, the GOP-controlled House Oversight committee found Attorney General Janet Reno in contempt for failing to comply with a subpoena on campaign finance law violations.

In 2008, the Democrat-controlled House found former White House counsel Harriet Miers and Chief of Staff John Bolton in contempt for failing to cooperate with an inquiry into whether a purge of federal prosecutors was politically motivated.

In 2008, the Democratic-led Oversight Committee found two White House officials in contempt in the probe of Bush Administration firings of U.S. Attorneys. Congress went to federal court to seek enforcement of that contempt action, but a compromise was reached with the Executive Branch before any court decision was final.

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Contempt Citation Against Digraced US Attorney General Eric Holder In The Works In Wake Of His Department Supplying Mexican Drug Cartels With Thousands Of Firearms – Holder Still Hiding Documents

April 27, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – House Republicans investigating the Fast and Furious scandal have gotten the go-ahead by their party leaders to pursue a contempt citation against Attorney General Eric Holder, senior congressional aides told CBS News. The resolution will accuse Holder and his Justice Department of obstructing the congressional probe into the allegations that the government let thousands of weapons fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

The citation would attempt to force Holder to turn over tens of thousands of pages documents related to the probe, which has entered its second year.

For months, congressional Republicans probing ATF’s Fast and Furious “Gunwalker” scandal – led by California Republican Darrell Issa, have been investigating a contempt citation. They’ve worked quietly behind the scenes to build support among fellow Republicans, since it could ultimately face a full House vote. CBS News has confirmed that House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, has given Rep. Issa, who heads the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the go-ahead to proceed. A 48-page long draft contempt resolution is being prepared.

How does a contempt proceeding against the executive branch work?

Both Democrats and Republicans have used it, but rarely. After former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten refused to comply with congressional subpoenas on the George W. Bush administration firing of U.S. attorneys in 2008, the Democrat-led House voted to hold them in contempt.

The House then went to a federal district court seeking a declaratory judgment and injunction ordering Miers and Bolten to comply with the subpoenas. The district court ruled in favor of the House, the ruling was subsequently stayed, and a compromise was reached.

Under President Clinton, the Republican-led House Oversight Committee voted to hold Attorney General Janet Reno in contempt over documents regarding campaign finance law violations.

In the case of Holder and Fast and Furious, the Oversight Committee’s contempt resolution would eventually have a full House vote and, if passed, Congress could seek enforcement through federal courts. Passage of the resolution itself could, however, encourage the Justice Department to comply even without a court order.

The Justice Department has maintained it is cooperating with the investigation and has made more than 6,400 pages of documents available for congressional review. However, congressional investigators say the Justice Department has supplied the documents piecemeal and highly redacted, and that tens of thousands of pages of internal documents are responsive to congressional subpoenas.

A contempt citing by Congress against the executive branch, a strong sanction, is considered by some to be politically risky; especially if it doesn’t succeed. Sources say that’s why Republican staffers have taken a great deal of time trying to build support among colleagues in advance of the citation’s formal release, which could come in the next few weeks if not sooner.

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Obama’s Attorney Chokes Again As Federal Government Finds Itself On Thin Ice While Attacking Arizona Immigration Laws – Claims Feds Have Limited Resources And Should Have The Right To Limit Calls About Possible Illegal Immigrants

April 25, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Supreme Court justices took a dim view of the Obama administration’s claim that it can stop Arizona from enforcing immigration laws, telling government lawyers during oral argument Wednesday that the state appears to want to push federal officials, not conflict with them.

The court was hearing arguments on Arizona’s immigration crackdown law, which requires police to check the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally, and would also write new state penalties for illegal immigrants who try to apply for jobs.

The Obama administration has sued, arguing that those provisions conflict with the federal government’s role in setting immigration policy, but justices on both sides of the aisle struggled to understand that argument.

“It seems to me the federal government just doesn’t want to know who’s here illegally,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said at one point.

The Arizona law requires all police to check with federal officials if they suspect someone is in the country illegally. The government argues that is OK when it’s on a limited basis, but said having a state mandate for all of its law enforcement is essentially a method of trying to force the federal government to change its priorities.

Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. said the federal government has limited resources and should have the right to determine the extent of calls it gets about possible illegal immigrants.

“These decisions have to be made at the national level,” he said.

But even Democratic-appointed justices were uncertain of that.

“I’m terribly confused by your answer,” said Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who went on to say that the federal government can always decline to pick up illegal immigrants when Arizona officials call.

The Obama administration was on its firmest ground when it argued Arizona should not be allowed to impose state penalties such as jail time against illegal immigrants who try to seek jobs.

Federal law chiefly targets employers, not employees, and Mr. Verrilli said adding stiffer penalties at the state level is not coordination. He said Congress’s 1986 immigration law laying out legal penalties was meant to be a comprehensive scheme, and Congress left employees untouched — and Justice Sotomayor seemed to agree.

“It seems odd to think the federal government is deciding on employer sanctions and has unconsciously decided not to punish employees,” she told Paul D. Clement, who argued the case on behalf of Arizona.

A decision is expected before the end of the court’s term this summer.

Only eight justices were present for the arguments. Justice Elana Kagan recused herself from the case, presumably because she was the Obama administration’s solicitor general in 2010, when the law was being debated in Arizona.

Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed the measure into law, was present for the arguments, as were members of Congress who follow the immigration issue: Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, the top Democrat on the House immigration subcommittee, and Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican who has fought for an immigration crackdown.

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Obama Lawyer Worried That Inforcing AZ State Laws, That Parallel Federal Laws, Will Result In “Mass Incarceration” Of Illegal Immigrants And Will Cause “Significant Foreign Relations Problems”

April 25, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – The lawyer arguing for the Obama administration against provisions in Arizona’s controversial immigration law said Wednesday that if the U.S. Supreme Court upholds S.B. 1070 “mass incarceration” of Latinos would cause “significant foreign relations problems.”

During oral arguments before the high court on the law – which allows state police to check the immigration status of individuals stopped, detained or arrested for other reasons – Solicitor General Donald Verrilli responded to Justice Antonin Scalia’s remarks that Arizona seems to be merely enacting laws that are already federal statutes.

“Well, what I think they are going to do in Arizona is something quite extraordinary, that has significant real and practical foreign relations effects,” Verrilli said. “And that’s the problem, and it’s the reason why this power needs to be vested exclusively in the federal government.”

Verrilli said Arizona’s “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act” takes that power away from the government and gives it to the state.

“And so – so, you’re going to have a situation of mass incarceration of people who are unlawfully present,” he argued. “That is going to raise – poses a very serious risk of raising significant foreign relations problems.

“And these problems are real,” Verrilli continued. “It is the problem of reciprocal treatment of the United States’ citizens in other countries.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy responded: “So you’re saying the government has a legitimate interest in not enforcing its laws?”

“No,” Verrilli replied. “We have a legitimate interest in enforcing the law, of course, but it needs to be – but these – this court has said over and over again, has recognized that the balance of interest that has to be achieved in enforcing the immigration laws is exceedingly delicate and complex, and it involves consideration of foreign relations, it involves humanitarian concerns, and it also involves public order …”

Of two million Latinos in Arizona, Verrilli told the court, “only 400,000 at most are there illegally.”

Scalia suggested that the government could take action to prevent the incarceration of illegal aliens.

“Well, can’t we avoid that particular foreign relations problem by simply deporting these people?” Scalia asked. “Look, free them from the jails.”

During the one-hour session both conservative and liberal justices seemed skeptical of the government’s case. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who was nominated by President Obama and is the first Hispanic to serve, told Verrilli at one point that she was “terribly confused” by his remarks.

“It seems to me that the federal government just doesn’t want to know who’s here illegally,” commented Chief Justice John Roberts.

Attorney Paul Clement, arguing on behalf of Arizona, said the Ninth Circuit federal court decision that set in motion the case coming before the Supreme Court was “inverting fundamental principles of federalism.”

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law two years ago. Several groups, including the Department of Justice, challenged the law in court.

Only eight justices will decide the case since Justice Elena Kagan recused herself because of her work on immigration during her tenure as Solicitor General.

The court is expected to rule on the case by the end of its current term this summer. Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana and Utah have proposed or enacted similar legislation.

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Brooklyn New York District Attorney’s Office Hid Rape Recantation From Defense Lawyers For A Year While Two Men Sat In Jail

April 19, 2012

The Brooklyn DA’s office sat on a rape recantation for nearly a year while two men accused of the crime sat behind bars, documents reveal.

Last June, Damien Crooks and Jamali Brockett were arrested for forcing a 13-year-old Jewish Orthodox girl into prostitution in 2003, and then raping, assaulting and sexually trafficking her for the next 8 years.

Two other men, Jawara Brockett and Darrell Dula, were also arrested and charged with raping the girl.

A day after accusing Jawara Brockett and Dula, however, the girl, then 22-years-old, went back to the police, and told detectives she was simply a prostitute for 5 years and made up the allegations against Brockett and Dula.

“I once again asked [her] if she was raped,” a detective wrote in a police report after the interview. “She told me ‘no’ and stated to me, ‘Can’t a ho change her ways?’ ”

The woman also signed a recantation, but the case proceeded and in spring 2011, a grand jury voted to indict Dula, Crooks and two others who were allegedly part of the crew.

Defense attorneys for the men didn’t receive the woman’s recantation until April 2012, when prosecutor Rebecca Gingold, who replaced Assistant District Attorney Abbie Greenberger, discovered the documents and turned them over.

“[The girl] indicated the night of the alleged rape that she had made up the story,” Crooks’ lawyer, Elliot Kay, told The New York Post. “She indicated that she was in a consensual relationship, as opposed to being the victim of sex trafficking.”

The Brooklyn DA’s office–who publicized the big bust last year–has yet to comment on the newly-discovered documents.

“How do they go on TV talking about this huge sex-trafficking bust when they had written documentation from police officers in which she admitted lying?” Kay asked.

Dula was released from prison Tuesday and spent time with his family in Crown Heights.

“I’m glad to be home with my family,” he told The Daily News. “I’m still in shock. I’m traumatized. It wasn’t a good experience. They took me away on my son’s birthday. It was heartbreaking.”

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Harris County Texas Court Sentenced Man To Life In Prison For Of Robbery That Occured While He Was In Jail

December 13, 2011

HOUSTON, TX – LaDondrell Montgomery had his conviction for armed robbery and a life sentence overturned thanks to his attorney discovering he was in jail at the time of the crime.

But he’s still not a free man. The Houston, Texas, felon remains in jail faced with five more robbery charges.

“He learned from his trouble. But he did have a record and I believe that is what kind of got him into trouble now, ” Larry Montgomery, 58, told ABCNews.com. “Some of the people involved [in the cases] knew him from the past, from the neighborhood, and I believe had personal vendettas against him.”

LaDondrell Montgomery, 36, has had several stints behind bars, starting in his twenties, which made it difficult for him to remember whether he was in jail or out on a particular date.

His life sentence for armed robbery, which he received in November, was overturned last Thursday after his attorney realized he had an air tight alibi. He was in jail at the time of the crime.

“My son had previously been in and out of incarceration before and had trouble remembering the dates,” the elder Montgomery said.

LaDondrell Montgomery might not have known where he was on Dec. 13, 2009, but he knew one place where he was not- the check cashing store that was held up by an armed robber.

He insisted throughout the trial that he was not the man in the surveillance footage that was used to convict him and sentence him to life in prison.

Montgomery’s life sentence was thrown out after his attorney, Ronald Ray, scoured his rap sheet and realized he had been in jail at the time on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge and hadn’t been released until nine hours after the crime.

State District Judge Mark Kent Ellis chided Ray and Assistant Harris County District Attorney Alison Baimbridge for being “spectacularly incompetent,” according to the Houston Chronicle.

Baimbridge was unavailable for comment, but told the newspaper that prosecutors are typically barred from questioning suspects.

“That information, everyone would assume, would come from the person in custody,” she said.

Ray told the newspaper the barb didn’t bother him.

“I have freed a man from a life sentence, so if you want to say I’m incompetent for doing that, I’ll accept that with a smile,” he said.

For now, Larry Montgomery, who is a bishop with the Nation of God Ministries, said he hopes his son will be exonerated of the other counts and will return to being a productive member of society, something his father said he trying to do.

“He got married and he had a child,” Montgomery said. “He went to work for the Harris County Flood Control. Every day, all the time. He was trying to turn his life around as a family man.”

It’s unclear whether Montgomery has discovered five more iron-clad alibis to get him out of trouble this time.

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FBI Agent Fred Kingston And Federal Prosecutor Get Away With Crashing Rare $750,000 Ferrari F50 During Joyride

October 12, 2011

DETROIT (AP) — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the U.S. government over the wreck of a $750,000 Ferrari driven by an FBI agent, saying federal law grants immunity if property is being held by law enforcement.

The wreck of the rare 1995 F50 sports car was “certainly unfortunate,” but the government cannot be sued in such a case, U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn said.

Motors Insurance, based in Southfield, Mich., believes an FBI agent and a prosecutor were out for a joyride when the agent lost control of the Ferrari in a Lexington, Ky., industrial park in 2009. The government has refused to pay for the car.

The car was stolen in Rosemont, Pa., in 2003, eventually recovered and then kept by the FBI in Kentucky as part of an investigation. The government has declined to reveal much about the incident. But in an email that was released to the insurance company, Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Hamilton Thompson said he was invited for a “short ride” before the Ferrari was to be moved from an impound garage.

The driver, FBI agent Fred Kingston, lost control and the car hit bushes and a small tree, Thompson said.

The insurance company claimed the Ferrari was not actually in custody because the insurer had granted permission for the government to hold the car. The judge disagreed.

“The government’s purpose in holding the vehicle was not to create a status of either consent or punitive coercion. … Rather, the object was to control and preserve relevant evidence,” Cohn said in an 11-page decision on Sept. 27.

The insurance company’s attorney did not immediately return a message seeking comment Monday.

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Attorney General Eric Holder Is Pissed Off At Critics Of His Department Arming Mexican Drug Cartels With Automatic Weapons

October 7, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Attorney General Eric Holder angrily responded Friday to Republican critics of his handling of a controversial gun enforcement operation, charging them with using “irresponsible and inflammatory rhetoric.”

“I simply cannot sit idly by as a (Republican) member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform suggests, as happened this week, that law enforcement and government employees who devote their lives to protecting our citizens be considered “accessories to murder,'” Holder said in a letter to members of Congress.

“Such irresponsible and inflammatory rhetoric must be repudiated in the strongest possible terms,” he said.

The bitter debate follows the release this week of Justice Department documents on Capitol Hill that prompted Republican critics to charge Holder knew about the now-discredited Fast and Furious gun operation before he previously claimed in testimony before the Oversight Committee.

Holder did not mention by name anyone other than Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa in his stinging rebuke of the charges that have been leveled at the attorney general.
Obama stands by AG Holder
GOP calls for attorney general probe

Holder insisted, as his Justice Department aides have for several days, that he was not inconsistent in his testimony.

“My testimony was truthful and accurate,” Holder said. “I have no recollection of knowing about Fast and Furious or of hearing its name prior to the public controversy about it. Prior to early 2011, I certainly never knew about the tactics employed in the operation.”

The tactics Holder referred to center on Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents allowing illegally purchased guns to “walk” from Arizona gun stores to Mexico. The ATF plan was to track the weapons to Mexican drug cartels. However, many of the guns were lost in the operation, and two of them ended up at the scene where U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered.

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Holder insists that when he learned of those tactics he stopped “uncontrolled crossing of guns across the border,” and called for an inspector general investigation to get to the bottom of the matter.

Frederick Hill, a spokesman for the committee chaired by Issa, issued a statement in response to Holder’s letter.

“If Attorney General Holder had said these things five months ago when Congress asked him about Operation Fast and Furious, it might have been more believable. At this point, however, it’s hard to take at face value a defense that is factually questionable, entirely self-serving, and a still incomplete account of what senior Justice Department officials knew about gun walking,” Hill said.

Holder’s five-page letter included detailed explanations in response to various points raised by his critics.

He concluded by saying: “Until we move beyond the current political climate, where real solutions take a back seat to both political posturing and making headlines on cable news programs, and is deemed more important than actually solving our country’s difficult challenges, nothing is going to change. I hope we can engage in a more responsible dialogue on this subject in the future.”

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New York Prosecutor Alisha Smith Suspended For Moonlighting As A S&M Dominatrix

September 19, 2011

NEW YORK – A lawyer for the New York State Attorney General’s Office has been suspended after the New York Post inquired about word that she was leading a double life as an S&M dominatrix.

Alisha Smith, 36, had been working as a prosecutor by day and as a paid performer for fetish events in her free time, the Post reports it learned from a source active in New York’s fetish world. The office suspended Smith after the Post inquired about her extracurricular activities.

Smith has been suspended without pay, effective immediately, pending an internal investigation, the Post quoted an unnamed spokesman for state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman as saying.

The spokesman would not elaborate on the reason for the suspension.

An executive order in the attorney general’s office stipulates that employees must “obtain prior approval … before engaging in any outside pursuit … from which more than $1,000 will be received or is anticipated to be received,” the Post reports.

Smith has been working in securities fraud, and three years ago, then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (now the governor) praised her for her role in obtaining a $5 million settlement from Bank of America and other firms in a securities fraud case, the Post reports.

The Post approached Smith outside of her Manhattan home and she declined to comment. Her lawyer, Marshall Mintz, also would not comment.

On Aug. 5, Smith sent out a post via Twitter in which she shared her experience trying to find the best price for a fetish product, the Post reports.

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Crazed Illinois Prosecutors Want To Jail Man For LIFE For Filming Police – Faces Totally Bogus “Wiretap” Charges

September 1, 2011

ILLINOIS – 41-year old Illinois mechanic Michael Allison faces life in jail for recording police officers after authorities hit him with eavesdropping charges based on the hoax that it is illegal to film cops, a misnomer that has been disproved by every other case against people filming police officers being thrown out of court.

The state of Illinois is trying to charge Allison with five counts of wiretapping, each punishable by four to 15 years in prison.

Allison refused a plea deal which would have seen him serve no jail time but would reinforce the hoax that it is illegal to film police officers, as well as acting as a chilling effect to prevent other Americans from filming cases of police brutality.

Allison has chosen to reject the plea bargain and fight to clear his name via a jury trial, arguing, “If we don’t fight for our freedoms here at home we’re all going to lose them.”

A judge is expected to rule on when the case will go to trial over the next two weeks.

As another report concerning the Allison case documents, in every other example where people have been arrested for recording police officers, the charges have been dropped and the case thrown out of court. Despite this fact, the state is so desperate to make an example out of Allison that an assistant from the Attorney General’s Office was recently sent to speak against him during a hearing.

The notion that it is illegal to film police officers is a mass hoax that is being promulgated by authorities, the media, and police officers themselves.

In the latest example, charges were dismissed against a woman who filmed cops in her own back yard in Rochester, New York.

In Illinois itself, eavesdropping charges against Tiawanda Moore for recording patrol officers were dropped, after a “Criminal Court jury quickly repudiated the prosecution’s case, taking less than an hour to acquit Moore on both eavesdropping counts.”

Despite the fact that recording police officers (public servants) is perfectly legal, Americans are still being arrested for doing so, and the establishment media is enthusiastically perpetuating the hoax that such conduct is unlawful, even though in doing so they are completely eroding protections that guarantee press freedom.

There is no expectation of privacy in public, the police are fully aware of this, which is why they have dash cams on their cars to record incidents, wear microphones and utilize other recording equipment as part of their job.

Cases like Allison’s have been thrown out all over the country and yet police continue to arrest people for filming them as a form of intimidation.

The fact that the state is knowingly ignoring its own laws in order to engage in acts of official repression highlights the rampant criminality that has infested every level of American government. This behavior is reflective of a predatory system that seeks to criminalize all first amendment activities.

It also highlights how petrified the system is about the public being able to document and record acts of police brutality.

Prosecutors in Allison’s case are deliberately attempting jail an innocent man for life for an activity that they know full well is not illegal. If anything, they should be the ones being charged with illegal conduct and official oppression.

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Jury Sees Through Orange County Florida Prosecutors Bullshit Case Against Casey Anthony

July 5, 2011

ORANGE COUNTY, FLORIDA – In a case that became a national sensation on TV, Casey Anthony was acquitted Tuesday of murdering her 2-year-old daughter in what prosecutors portrayed as a cold-blooded attempt to free herself to party and be with her boyfriend.

Officials said Casey is back in the Orange County jail and remains in protective custody.

“As to the charge, first-degree murder, we the jury find the defendant not guilty,” read the court clerk.

After a trial of a month and a half, the jury took less than 11 hours to find Casey not guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated manslaughter and aggravated child abuse. She was convicted of four counts of lying to investigators who were looking into the June 2008 disappearance of her daughter, Caylee Marie Anthony.

Tears welled in Casey’s eyes, her face reddened, her lips trembled, and she began breathing heavily as she listened to the verdict. Casey, 25, could have gotten the death penalty if she had been convicted of murder.

After the verdict was read, Casey hugged her attorney Jose Baez and later mouthed the words “thank you” to him. Prosecutor Jeff Ashton, meanwhile, shook his head in disbelief.

Casey’s parents, Cindy and George Anthony left the courtroom without speaking to her as the judge thanked the jury.

Juror number seven, one of the seven women on the panel, appeared to cry as she left court.

Once the jury left, Casey hugged her attorneys and squealed out loud. The lawyers high-fived one another, and minutes later Casey laughed as she was fingerprinted on the convictions for lying to detectives.

Many in the crowd of about 500 people outside the courthouse reacted with anger after the verdict was read, chanting, “Justice for Caylee!” One man yelled, “Baby killer!”

Given the relative speed with which the jury came back with a verdict, many court-watchers were expecting Casey to be convicted in the killing, and they were stunned by the outcome.

Sentencing was set for Thursday. Casey could get up to one year behind bars on each count of lying to investigators. But since she has been in jail for nearly three years already, she could walk free.

The case played out on national television almost from the moment Caylee was reported missing three years ago, and it became a macabre sensation as testimony turned to tape marks on the child’s face and the alleged smell of decayed flesh inside the trunk of Casey’s car.

After the verdict, Casey’s attorney, Jose Baez, took the criminal justice system and the media to task, saying the outcome should make people realize “you cannot convict someone until they’ve had their day in court.”

“We have the greatest constitution in the world, and if the media and other members of the public do not respect it, it will become meaningless,” he said.

State’s Attorney Lawson Lamar said: “We’re disappointed in the verdict today because we know the facts and we’ve put in absolutely every piece of evidence that existed.” The prosecutor lamented the lack of hard evidence, saying: “This is a dry-bones case. Very, very difficult to prove. The delay in recovering little Caylee’s remains worked to our considerable disadvantage.”

The jurors would not talk to the media.

Caylee’s disappearance went unreported by Casey for a month. The child’s decomposed body was eventually found in the woods near her grandparents’ home six months after she was last seen. A medical examiner was never able to establish how she died.

Prosecutors contended that Casey, a single mother living with her parents, suffocated Caylee with duct tape because she wanted to be free to hit the nightclubs and spend time with her boyfriend.

Defense attorneys argued that Caylee accidentally drowned in the family swimming pool, and that Casey panicked and hid the body because of the traumatic effects of being sexually abused by her father.

The case became a macabre tourist attraction in Orlando. People camped outside for seats in the courtroom, and scuffles broke out among those desperate to watch the drama unfold.

Because the case got so much media attention in Orlando, jurors were brought in from the Tampa Bay area and sequestered for the entire trial, during which they listened to more than 33 days of testimony and looked at 400 pieces of evidence. Casey did not take the stand.

“While we’re happy for Casey, there are no winners in this case,” Baez said after the verdict. “Caylee has passed on far, far too soon and what my driving force has been for the last three years has been always to make sure that there has been justice for Caylee and Casey because Casey did not murder Caylee. It’s that simple. And today our system of justice has not dishonored her memory by a false conviction.”

In closing arguments, prosecutor Linda Drane-Burdick showed the jury two side-by-side images. One showed Casey smiling and partying in a nightclub during the first month Caylee was missing. The other was the tattoo Casey she got a day before law enforcement learned of the child’s disappearance: the Italian words for “beautiful life.”

“At the end of this case, all you have to ask yourself is whose life was better without Caylee?” Burdick asked. “This is your answer.”

Prosecutors also focused heavily on an odor in the trunk of Casey’s car, which forensics experts said was consistent with the smell of human decay.

But the defense argued that the air analysis could not be duplicated, that no one could prove a stain found in the trunk was caused by Caylee’s remains, and that maggots in the compartment had come from a bag of trash.

Prosecutors hammered away at the lies Casey told when the child was missing: She told her parents that she couldn’t produce Caylee because the girl was with a nanny named Zenaida Gonzalez, (Zanny) a woman who doesn’t exist; that she and her daughter were spending time with a rich boyfriend who doesn’t exist; and that Zanny had been hospitalized after an out-of-town traffic crash and that they were spending time with her.

Baez said during closing arguments that the prosecutors’ case was so weak they tried to portray Casey as “a lying, no-good slut” and that their forensic evidence was based on a “fantasy.” He said Caylee’s death was “an accident that snowballed out of control.”

He contended that the toddler drowned and that when Casey panicked, her father, a former police officer, decided to make the death look like a murder by putting duct tape on the girl’s mouth and dumping the body in the woods a quarter-mile away. Anthony’s father denied both the cover-up and abuse claims.

Among the trial spectators was 51-year-old Robin Wilkie, who said she has spent $3,000 on hotels and food since arriving June 10 from Lake Minnetonka, Minn. She tallied more than 100 hours standing in line to wait for tickets and got into the courtroom 15 times to see Casey.

“True crime has become a unique genre of entertainment,” Wilkie said. “Her stories are so extreme and fantastic, it’s hard to believe they’re true, but that’s what engrosses people. This case has sex, lies and videotapes — just like on reality TV.”

The Anthonys’ attorney Mark Lippman released a statement on behalf of the family on Tuesday reading:

“The family hopes that they will be given the time by the media to reflect on this verdict and decide the best way to move forward privately. While the family may never know what has happened to Caylee Marie Anthony, they now have closure for this chapter of their life. They will now begin the long process of rebuilding their lives.

Despite the baseless defense chosen by Casey Anthony, the family believes that the Jury made a fair decision based on the evidence presented, the testimony presented, the scientific information presented and the rules that were given to them by the Honorable Judge Perry to guide them.

The family hopes that they will be given the time by the media to reflect on this verdict and decide the best way to move forward privately.

The family also wanted the public to know that if anyone wanted to honor Caylee by leaving stuffed animals or other toys at any area near their home, that they would prefer those items be donated in Caylee’ s name to families in need, religious centers, or any other entity where the toys would be appreciated.”

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Murder Conviction Tossed After King County Washington Prosecutor James Konat’s Racist Comments Attacking Defense Witnesses

June 10, 2011

KING COUNTY, WASHINGTON – The state Supreme Court has thrown out a man’s murder conviction in a 2006 gang-related shooting in Pioneer Square, ruling that the prosecutor who tried the case resorted to “racist arguments” to attack defense witnesses.

The court, in an 8-1 ruling, found that James Konat, a veteran King County deputy prosecutor now trying a high-profile murder case, engaged in “prosecutorial misconduct” in questioning witnesses during the trial of Kevin L. Monday Jr., who was convicted in 2007 of first-degree murder and first-degree assault, and sentenced to 64 years in prison.

During the trial, Konat questioned witnesses, many of them black, about a purported street “code” that he claimed prevented some from talking to the police, according to the Supreme Court’s majority opinion written by Justice Tom Chambers. In questioning some witnesses, Konat made references to the “PO-leese,” the justices found.

During his closing argument to jurors, Konat also said that while witnesses denied the presence of such a code, “the code is black folk don’t testify against black folk. You don’t snitch to the police,” according to the Supreme Court decision.

Monday, 25, is black; Konat is white.

Monday appealed the conviction on a number of grounds, claiming that Konat “made a blatant and inappropriate appeal to racial prejudice and undermined the credibility of African-American witnesses based on their race,” according to the Supreme Court.

The state Court of Appeals agreed that Konat had appealed to racial prejudice during the trial, but upheld Monday’s conviction.

But the Supreme Court, in Thursday’s ruling, cited Konat’s comments as grounds for the conviction to be overturned, saying that they cast doubt on the credibility of the witnesses based on their race. One justice called the deputy prosecutor’s comments “repugnant.”

“Defendants are among the people the prosecutor represents. The prosecutor owes a duty to defendants to see that their rights to a constitutionally fair trial are not violated,” Chambers wrote.

“The State repeatedly invoked an alleged African American, anti-snitch code to discount the credibility of his own witnesses … it is deeply troubling that an experienced prosecutor who, by his own account, had been a prosecutor for 18 years would resort to such tactics,” the ruling said.

The justices contend that the only reason that Konat used the pronunciation “PO-leese” was to “subtly, and likely deliberately, call to the jury’s attention that the witness was African American.”

Justice James M. Johnson, the lone dissenter, said that even if Konat’s comments “arguably tainted the jury’s impressions,” the murder case still was proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Seattle police said that Monday fired at least 10 shots at Francisco Roche Green near the corner of Yesler Way and Occidental Avenue South in the early hours of April 22, 2006. Monday was also accused of firing gunshots at a vehicle and wounding the driver and a passenger. The incident was caught on video by a street musician who was in the area when shots were fired.

King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg said he spoke with Konat after the trial and told him his comments were unacceptable. In response, all deputy prosecutors have been through retraining about potential prosecutorial misconduct, Satterberg said on Thursday.

Konat, 53, could not be reached Thursday to comment.

He is lead prosecutor in the trial of Isaiah Kalebu, who is charged with aggravated murder in the slaying of Teresa Butz and the rape of her partner in their South Park home in July 2009.

A spokesman for Satterberg’s office said Konat was not formally disciplined.

Konat’s words “do not represent the view of this office. It was regrettable,” Satterberg said. He called Konat’s method of explaining the so-called “code” in which witnesses don’t talk to prosecutors or police “inartful and offensive.”

But in response to Monday’s appeal in 2008, the Prosecutor’s Office maintained that Konat hadn’t done anything wrong.

“The prosecutor’s comment in final argument that ‘Black folk don’t testify against black folk’ was nothing more than a summary of evidence in the case, consistent with the realities of the lack of cooperation and hostility by most of the transactional witnesses who testified. This was not prosecutorial misconduct,” according to the filing written by now-retired Senior Deputy Prosecutor Lee Yates.

Satterberg said Monday will be retried, but a different deputy prosecutor will be assigned to the case.

Sarah Dunne, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Western Washington, which filed a brief in support of Monday’s appeal, said Konat’s “behavior undermined the right to a fair trial.”

Defense attorney Nancy Collins, who represented Monday in his appeals, said in an email Thursday that it’s “unfortunate that any prosecutor needed to be reminded of these basic principles in our justice system.”

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Chicago State’s Attorney Lets Bad Cops Slide, Prosecutes Citizens/Victims Who Record Them

June 9, 2011

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – When Chicago police answered a domestic disturbance call at the home of Tiawanda Moore and her boyfriend in July 2010, the officers separated the couple to question them individually. Moore was interviewed privately in her bedroom. According to Moore, the officer who questioned her then came on to her, groped her breast and slipped her his home phone number.

Robert Johnson, Moore’s attorney, says that when Moore and her boyfriend attempted to report the incident to internal affairs officials at the Chicago Police Department, the couple wasn’t greeted warmly. “They discouraged her from filing a report,” Johnson says. “They gave her the runaround, scared her, and tried to intimidate her from reporting this officer — from making sure he couldn’t go on to do this to other women.”

Ten months later, Chicago PD is still investigating the incident. Moore, on the other hand, was arrested the very same afternoon.

Her crime? At some point in her conversations with internal affairs investigators, Moore grew frustrated with their attempts to intimidate her. So she began to surreptitiously record the interactions on her Blackberry. In Illinois, it is illegal to record people without their consent, even (and as it turns out, especially) on-duty police officers.

“This is someone who is already scared from being harassed by an officer in uniform,” said Johnson. “If the police won’t even take her complaint, how else is a victim of police abuse supposed to protect herself?”

Moore’s case has inspired outrage from anti-domestic abuse groups. “We just had two Chicago police officers indicted for sexual assault, there have been several other cases of misconduct against women,” says Melissa Spatz of the Chicago Task Force on Violence Against Girls & Young Women. “And now you have Moore, who was trying to report this guy, and she gets arrested. The message here is that victims of unwanted sexual advances by police officers have no recourse — that the police can act with impunity.”

If the Chicago cops recently indicted for sexual assault are convicted, they’ll face four to 15 years in prison. That’s the same sentence Tiawanda Moore is facing for trying to document her frustrations while reporting her own alleged sexual assault: Recording an on-duty police officer in Illinois is a Class 1 felony, the same class of crimes as rape.

ILLINOIS’ PROBLEM WITH PRIVACY

Last summer the U.S. media took note of several stories about citizens arrested for photographing or recording on-duty police officers. National coverage of these incidents has since died down, but the arrests haven’t stopped.

Some of these arrests have come under decades-old wiretapping laws that never anticipated the use of cellphones equipped with cameras and audio recording applications. Others have come under vaguer catch-all charges like refusing to obey a lawful order, disorderly conduct, or interfering with a police officer. In both cases, the charges rarely stick, and in most cases, it’s the cops themselves who are violating the law.

The media have largely done a poor job reporting on what the law actually is in these states. Technically, so long as a person isn’t physically interfering with an on-duty police officer, it’s legal to record the officer in every state but Massachusetts and Illinois. Arrests still happen in other states, but there’s little legal justification for them, and the charges are usually dropped, or never filed at all.

But Illinois is the one state where the law clearly forbids citizens from recording of on-duty cops. And so it seems likely that if the Supreme Court or a federal appeals court does eventually decide if pointing a camera at a cop is protected by the First Amendment (so far, they haven’t), the case will come from Illinois. (Courts in Massachusetts have generally held that secretly recording police is illegal, but recording them openly isn’t.)

Illinois’ wiretapping law wasn’t always this bad. Originally, the statute included a provision found in most other state wiretapping laws stating that, in order for someone to be prosecuted for recording a conversation, the offended party must have had a reasonable expectation that the conversation was private.

Watch: The Government’s War On Cameras

So far, every court in the country to have considered the issue has found that on-duty cops have no such expectation of privacy. This makes sense. Police not only work for the public, they’re also entrusted with enormous power: They can arrest citizens and detain them or kill them.

In 1986, the Illinois Supreme Court threw out the eavesdropping conviction of a man who had recorded two police officers from the back of a patrol car for just that reason. The court ruled that the officers had no expectation of privacy.

So in 1994 the Illinois state legislature removed the wiretap law’s privacy provision. It was an explicit effort to override the decision eight years earlier. Technically the amended law covers everyone — anyone whose voice is recorded without their permission, for any reason, could file a complaint and ask to press charges — but it’s used almost exclusively to protect police.

So far, HuffPost has yet to find anyone who has actually been convicted under the law. Instead, police arrest and charge someone they catch recording them, but the charges are dropped or reduced to misdemeanors before trial.

In 2004, for example, documentary filmmaker Patrick Johnson was arrested under the law while recording footage for a movie about relations between blacks and police in the Illinois cities of Champaign and Urbana. Johnson fought the charges with help from the state affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). But after the district attorney who was prosecuting him lost in the next election, the new prosecutor dismissed the charges.

THE STATE v. CITIZENS

An actual conviction under the eavesdropping law would likely bring a constitutional challenge, which could well lead to the law being overturned in court. It could also lead to the U.S. Supreme Court or the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit more broadly affirming a First Amendment right to record police, which of course would have ramifications outside of Illinois.

As long as no one is convicted, the law is unlikely to be challenged. That means police can continue to rely on it to harass and intimidate citizens who try to hold them accountable, or who want an independent record of what they believe to be police harassment.

Moore’s case may prove to be just the opportunity free speech advocates are looking for. But her case was continued again this week, despite the fact that she’s been asking for months to go to trial.

The person pursuing the charges against Moore is Anita Alvarez, the state’s attorney for Cook County, home to Chicago. (Alvarez’s office declined to comment for this report.)

It’s difficult to think of another big city in America where citizens would be more justified in wanting an objective account of an interaction with a police officer. At about the time Moore’s story hit the pages of The New York Times earlier this year, for example, former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for lying under oath about his role in the routine torture of hundreds of suspects in police interrogation rooms for more than a decade. Nearly everyone else involved in the tortures, including the police commanders and prosecutors who helped cover them up, couldn’t be prosecuted due to statutes of limitations.

Over the last few years, surveillance video has also exposed a number of police abuses in Chicago, including one episode in which an off-duty cop savagely beat a female bartender who had refused to continue serving him. He was sentenced to probation.

In 2008, the city made national headlines with another major scandal in which officers in the department’s Special Operations Unit — alleged to be made up of the most elite and trusted cops in Chicago — were convicted of a variety of crimes, including physical abuse and intimidation, home robberies, theft and planning a murder.

In a study published the same year, University of Chicago Law Professor Craig B. Futterman found 10,000 complaints filed against Chicago police officers between 2002 and 2004, more than any city in the country. When adjusted for population, that’s still about 40 percent above the national average. Even more troubling, of those 10,000 complaints, just 19 resulted in any significant disciplinary action. In 85 percent of complaints, the police department cleared the accused officer without even bothering to interview him.

Yet Alvarez feels it necessary to devote time and resources to prosecuting Chicagoans who, given the figures and anecdotes above, feel compelled to hit the record button when confronted by a city cop.

In addition to Moore’s, there are two other cases that may present an opportunity to challenge the Illinois law. One is that of Michael Allison.

This Robinson, Ill., man is facing four counts of violating the eavesdropping law for the recordings he made of police officers and a judge. Allison was suing the city to challenge a local zoning ordinance that prevented him from enjoying his hobby fixing up old cars: The municipal government was seizing his cars from his property and forcing him to pay to have them returned. Allison believed the local police were harassing him in retaliation for his lawsuit, so he began to record his conversations with them.

When Allison was eventually charged with violating the zoning ordinance, he asked for a court reporter to ensure there would be a record of his trial. He was told that misdemeanor charges didn’t entitle him to a court reporter. So Allison told court officials he’d be recording his trial with a digital recorder.

When Allison walked into the courtroom the day of his trial, the judge had him arrested for allegedly violating her right to privacy. Police then confiscated Allison’s digital recorder, where they also found the recordings he’d made of his conversations with cops.

Allison has no prior criminal record. If convicted, he faces up to 75 years in prison.

In a hearing last week, Allison argued that the Illinois eavesdropping case was a violation of the First Amendment. The judge ordered a continuance so that the office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan can prepare a response. (Madigan’s office did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.)

The other case to challenge the wiretap law is that of Christopher Drew, an artist who was arrested in December 2009 for selling art without a permit on the streets of Chicago. Drew recorded his arrest, and now faces four to 15 years for documenting the incident.

In a hearing last December, Cook County Assistant State Attorney Jeff Allen invoked homeland security, arguing that Drew’s recording could have picked up police discussing anti-terrorism tactics. Drew’s case was suspended after he was diagnosed with lung cancer earlier this year.

Both Allison and Drew say they won’t accept the sort of plea bargain Illinois prosecutors have offered in the past. Both say they’re willing to risk prison time to get the law overturned.

THE IMPORTANCE OF TRANSPARENCY

The ACLU of Illinois is also challenging the law. But in January, U.S. District Court Judge Suzanne B. Conlon ruled against the organization. Conlon wrote that the First Amendment does not protect citizens who record the police. The ACLU has appealed and expects to participate in oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit sometime in the fall.

In a report released just this month, the United Nations noted the importance of Internet access and personal technology in facilitating the recent Arab Spring uprisings in the Middle East. Technology has given citizens all over the world a remarkable and historic tool to bring transparency to the most brutal and oppressive governments.

But even as Americans have criticized those countries for attempting to prevent protesters from uploading photo, video, blog posts and Twitter accounts of government crackdowns, government officials in the U.S. are still arresting, threatening, intimidating and harassing Americans who attempt to document police abuse in America. (See this example over Memorial Day in Miami.)

No, America isn’t Egypt or Yemen or Iran. But while the scale of the suppression is different, the premise is the same: When a citizen and a police officer have a confrontation, the police officer’s narrative has always given deference by prosecutors, judges and juries — in the same way governments in more oppressive parts of the world have the power to project their own version of events as truth.

Citizens in America and across the globe now have the ability to preserve and present a more objective narrative. This is a positive thing — for democracy, for good government and for a fairer criminal justice system. U.S. courts and legislatures need to make it abundantly, unambiguously clear that not only do citizens have the right to record on-duty police officers, but that cops and prosecutors who violate that right will be held accountable.

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Appeal Denied After Michican Prosecutor Karen Bahrman Called Defense Psychiatrist Witness A Whore And Another Witness A Bottom Feeder

June 3, 2011

MUNISING, MICHIGAN – The Michigan Supreme Court has denied Thomas Richardson’s application for appeal in his conviction of pushing his wife off a cliff at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore three years ago.

The Michigan Supreme Court has also scolded an Upper Peninsula prosecutor for inappropriate comments during the 2008 trial of Richardson.

The court says Karen Bahrman did not violate Richardson’s right to a fair trial. But the court knocked the Alger County prosecutor for a variety of remarks.

Bahrman referred to a female psychiatrist as a “whore” and another witness as a “bottom feeder.” In an order released Thursday, the Supreme Court called it “simply unprofessional.” Bahrman says the “whore” comment was about a defense witness who was paid for testimony. She says she has no regrets.

Bahrman was unapologetic in a statement made to TV6 Thursday afternoon.

“I was pleased with the outcome of the case and the Supreme Court’s conclusion that nothing I said or did denied the defendant of a fair trial,” Bahrman said. “Because I expect to have everything I say scrutinized, I was delighted to see that their criticism occupied just a page and a half. To me, this means that they found nothing else to criticize in 6,000 pages of transcripts.”

Richardson was convicted of first degree murder in the death of wife Juanita at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

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Burning Taxpayer Dollars The Whole Way, Crazed Cheney Washington Prosecutor Julie McKay Took 99 Cent “Theft” Case To Jury Trial – Jury Took 5 Minutes To Return Not Guilty Verdict

April 27, 2011

CHENEY, WASHINGTON – Call it the great hot dog caper. Or maybe the greatly overblown hot dog caper would be more accurate.

One day last December, Eastern Washington University student John Richardson got himself a German sausage at the self-serve counter at Mitchell’s IGA in Cheney. He ate it as he shopped for peanut butter (crunchy), jelly, bread and other items. When he left, he forgot to pay for the 99-cent dog – though he did pay for more than $28 in groceries.

Store managers approached him once he left the store, refused his efforts to pay for it, and held him for the police to arrive when things got heated. Thirteen weeks later, Richardson was found not guilty by a baffled jury with a minimum of deliberation.

“From all the testimony, you’d have to be an idiot to not realize that the guy simply forgot,” said juror Patrick Reeves. “It took the jury about five minutes to come to a verdict.”

Five minutes would have been about the right time to devote to the case, start to finish. Instead, the taxpayers of Cheney paid for the full legal megillah: The officer who arrived, cuffed the protesting Richardson, and wrote a report in which he described the “stolen” property as a “bronze” German sausage; the prosecuting attorney, who said Richardson’s demeanor and a 12-year-old shoplifting charge on his record persuaded her to pursue the case; the public defender; the judge; the jury pool …

“To me it’s an outrage,” Richardson said. “I just think it was a frivolous thing.”

From the perspective of a store owner, a certain zeal about shoplifting is understandable. In the grocery business, margins are slim, and theft takes a big toll. In a family-owned business like Mitchell’s, the owners can take it even more personally. But it’s hard to understand why this zeal wasn’t tempered somewhere along the way.

Cheney Municipal Prosecutor Julie McKay said she simply doesn’t buy Richardson’s claim that he forgot to pay. She said that it isn’t unusual for someone to steal something while purchasing something else, that a lot of people accused of a crime deny it, and that the fact that Richardson was arguing with the store managers after they confronted him influenced her decision.

“Did I want to try that? Certainly not,” McKay said. “From my perspective, he took something without paying for it. … The jury didn’t feel he was guilty. I disagree with that.”

Everyone seems to agree that Richardson offered to pay for the hot dog when he was confronted by store employees outside the store. The one exception to this is the police report, in which a store manager is quoted saying Richardson refused to pay for the hot dog. According to Reeves, Richardson and public defender Don Richter, that was at odds with testimony at the trial from everyone, including store employees.

“When my client was confronted, he immediately said ‘I’m sorry, I’ll pay for it,’ ” Richter said.

To the store owners, the question of intent was beside the point. Someone who leaves without paying for something has stolen. If you let this slide, where do you draw the line? But that’s simply not the way the law works – a person must intend to steal something for it to be theft.

McKay said the reason this ended up before a jury is that Richardson refused to accept a deal. Here’s an example of a deal he was offered: In exchange for the charges being dropped, he’d pay restitution for the sausage, and pay the store owners a $200 civil penalty.

“So now the $1 hot dog was a $201 hot dog,” Richter said.

The case went to trial Feb. 25. Richardson said that he was committed to proving his innocence, and because he knew that the specter of a shoplifting conviction can hang over you – as his conviction as an 18-year-old had done. But he was adamant that he did not steal the hot dog. After he got it, he walked around the store and ate it in full view of everyone, planning to pay for it with his groceries at the cashier, he said. The managers were watching him closely, and he was aware of them watching – which would make him a pretty poor thief indeed, if it wasn’t an oversight. When he was confronted outside the store, he said the store employees taunted and insulted him, and refused to accept either his explanation or his money.

One of them said, “It’s too late now. We got you,” Richardson said. “It was very humiliating.”

Store officials declined to comment, but it’s clear from court records and interviews that they view this confrontation differently, and say that Richardson was uncooperative and instigated conflict rather than trying to resolve it.

I think it’s safe to say that nobody wanted the case to wind up before a jury, but nobody was willing to budge. Richardson wanted to be cleared, and the prosecutor wanted to send a message – or at least not send the wrong kind of message.

In the end, though, the jury wasn’t on board.

“If you really want to send a message,” Reeves said, “get a good case.”

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Orlando Florida Lawyer And Former Deputy Sheriff Dan Newlin Arrested, Charged With Drunk Driving – Claims Cop Was Out To Get Him

April 8, 2011

ORLANDO, FLORIDA – Well-known Orlando attorney Dan Newlin said he was treated differently when he was arrested for drunk driving because of who he is.

Newlin spent the night at the Orange County Jail after Orlando police charged him with driving while under the influence of alcohol.

The former sheriff’s detective walked out of jail shortly after 9 a.m. after posting $500 bond, and had a lot to say to reporters about his arrest, and the officer who detained him.

“Last night was a tough night,” said Newlin. “I love this community, but I’ll say one thing: 100 percent, the facts will show that Dan Newlin was not impaired while driving. He was not even cited for any traffic violations, had stopped to assist another motorist, a friend, and then was detained by an overzealous OPD officer that knew me by name and immediately detained me. And at that point, it was obvious a decision was made that he was going to take me to jail.”

Newlin, 43, said he took his friend out for an average night on the town. But it was what happened on the way home that got him in trouble.

According to the arrest report from Orlando police, Newlin and his friend, identified as Andreina Mujica, 29, were driving in separate cars on Conroy Road around 1 a.m. Friday.

Police said Mujica ran a red light at the Winter Garden Road intersection, and was pulled over.

Newlin also stopped and got out of his car. An officer at the scene said he smelled of alcohol and appeared to be staggering.

But Newlin said the arrest was a big mistake, adding that he was walking on a grassy median in the dark.

“How you can see one staggering when you’re walking through a grassy median makes no sense,” he said.

Newlin refused a field sobriety test, but told reporters he did offer to take a blood test.

“I was told when I arrived at the Orange County Jail that a blood test would be afforded to me,” he said. “Apparently there were some policy changes, and they’re no longer doing that. But I made an offer to take that blood test.”

But jail spokesman Allen Moore said they have never conducted blood tests.

“The Orange County Jail is not a law enforcement agency,” said Moore. “Therefore, we do not have any authority to do blood tests here, and generally, we have not done it to my knowledge in the past 14½ years. That is a law enforcement function, so that will be handled on the street, or a local DUI testing center.”

Newlin admitted to having two drinks, but said he was not over the legal blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent, and did not feel impaired when he got behind the wheel.

Mujica was also arrested and bonded out of jail. Police said she also smelled of alcohol.

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Clark County Nevada Deputy District Attorney David Schubert Quits After Being Caught Buying Cocaine – Prosecuted Paris Hilton And Bruno Mars

April 1, 2011

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – David Schubert, a Clark County deputy district attorney who prosecuted a pair of high-profile celebrity drug cases, has resigned following his arrest last month on charges of cocaine possession, according to a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office.

Schubert was arrested March 19 in the neighborhood of Lisbon Avenue and Cambridge Street.

Police said the 47-year-old was dropping off and picking up a man who later admitted he was buying drugs for Schubert. Cocaine was found in Schubert’s BMW, according to police.

Recently, Schubert was a prosecutor in drug cases against celebrities Paris Hilton and Bruno Mars. Both took plea deals to avoid jail time.

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Las Vegas Deputy District Attorney David Schubert, High Profile Drug Prosecutor Who Prosecuted Paris Hilton, Busted Buying Cocaine In Known Drug Neighborhood

March 22, 2011

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – The Las Vegas deputy district attorney who prosecuted Paris Hilton for cocaine possession was arrested over the weekend after allegedly buying a rock of cocaine, authorities said on Monday.

Clark County Deputy District Attorney David Schubert, 47, was taken into custody in Las Vegas on Saturday afternoon and booked on one count of cocaine possession.

Schubert, who has prosecuted Hilton and pop star Bruno Mars on similar charges, was released on Sunday after posting bail and was scheduled for an initial court appearance on Monday.

“I’m very disappointed to learn one of our prosecutors was allegedly buying rock cocaine,” Clark County District Attorney David Roger told Reuters in a telephone interview. “This is an individual I placed a great deal of trust in by assigning him to a state and federal drug task force.”

“That said, he was arrested and he will be charged and prosecuted like any other individual,” he said. “We believe no one is above the law, including a deputy district attorney.”

Roger said his office would charge Schubert and then turn the case over to Nevada’s attorney general to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. He has been suspended pending termination.

According to an arrest report, Schubert was spotted picking up another man, identified as Raymond Streeter, while driving his white BMW in a neighborhood known for narcotics dealing.

Streeter later told police that Schubert, who he knew as “Joe” would have him purchase $40 worth of cocaine, several times a week, according to the arrest report.

Las Vegas defense attorney David Chesnoff, who represented both Hilton and Mars, told Reuters he wished Schubert well.

“I don’t know the facts but I believe in the presumption of innocence,” Chesnoff said.

Hilton, 30, was arrested last August after Las Vegas police found 0.8 grams of cocaine in her purse during a traffic stop. She was fined $2,000 and ordered to perform 200 hours of community service after pleading guilty in September.

Mars, whose real name is Peter Hernandez, was arrested for cocaine possession in September after a bathroom attendant at the Hard Rock Hotel spotted him with a bag of white powder.

The 25-year-old singer pleaded guilty in February and was ordered to serve probation, perform community service and undergo drug counseling.

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Former Alabama Prosecutor Steve Giardinin Specialized In Child Sex Cases – Used Information From At Least One In Effort To Obtain Sex From A 15 Year Old Girl For Sex

March 10, 2011

MOBILE, ALABAMA – Court documents drop a new bombshell in the Steve Giardinin child sex crimes case.

Giardini specialized in the prosecution of sex crimes against children before he resigned from the Child Advocacy Center in April 2009. He was arrested in August 2010 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Giardini is accused of trying to solicit what he thought was a 15-year old girl for sex. But the person on the other end of the computer was actually an agent with the FBI’s Internet Crimes Against Children division.

Three new documents pertaining to the case were filed by the Attorney General’s office Wednesday.

In one of the motions, the Attorney General’s Office notified Giardini and his attorney Dennis Knizley that the State intends to introduce “evidence of the Defendant’s other crimes, wrongs or acts.” The motion also says Giardini learned to “groom his victims” from a high profile child sex abuse case he prosecuted.

Giardini prosecuted Brother Victor Bendillo in 2003 for numerous sexual offenses against children. Bendillo, a teacher and guidance counselor at McGill-Toolen Catholic High School, pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a student in the early 1990s and received the maximum sentence.

The Attorney General’s Office says Giardini “was familiar with Bendillos plan, design, or scheme to groom victims or engage in sexual acts” and that his “grooming process parallels Bendillo’s substantially.”

The other two motions objected to the Knizely’s motion to dismiss the case and Knizely’s motion to allow jury questionnaire.

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Lawsuit Filed After Fayette County Alabama Sheriff Rodney Ingle Bars ACLU Attorneys Access To Inmates

March 9, 2011

FAYETTE COUNTY, ALABAMA – The American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama filed a lawsuit Wednesday, March 7 against Fayette County Sheriff Rodney Ingle after they say they were repeatedly denied the right to meet with inmates inside Fayette County Jail.

The ACLU says their lawyers were “unconstitutionally deprived of their right to consult with inmates” after hearing reports of conditions that could violate the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.

Complaints about poor medical care, malnutrition, use of excessive force, inadequate monitoring of inmates with mental health issues and indifference to medical conditions, including pregnancy, have reached the ears of the ACLU via letters from inmates inside Fayette County Jail and messages from their family members who are allowed to visit, according to Jared Shepherd, ACLU of Alabama Law Fellow.

He says a few letters from inmates reached the ACLU last summer, but direct contact between inmates and ACLU lawyers seems to have been cut down in recent months.

“We’re under the impression that some of the complaints are not reaching us. We’ve heard this from family members who have spoken to inmates who say they’ve repeatedly tried to contact us, but we’ve never received anything,” Shepherd said. “We know that things do not sound good. We just want to get in there and meet with [the inmates].”

Shepherd said the sheriff’s office told the ACLU they were not allowed inside the jail because only criminal defense attorneys were allowed, and the inmates would have to see “any other types of lawyers” on their own time.

“What ‘their own time’ means when they’re in the jail 24/7 is what? Who knows?” Shepherd questioned.

Twice, the ACLU has attempted to schedule an interview with Ingle to clarify his attorney-client policy, but the sheriff never responded to those messages, the most recent one sent on Jan.18, Shepherd said.

“By denying the ACLU of Alabama and its staff the right to speak with prisoners in his facility, Sheriff Ingle acts in blatant violation of the Constitution,” said Shepherd in a press release issued March 7.

The lawsuit was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama in the Jasper division. Shepherd said Ingles’ lawyers should have been notified with a courtesy copy of the lawsuit, ACLU of Alabama v. Ingle, which can be viewed online at: http://www.aclualabama.org/News/PressReleases/Highlights/2011-03-09PlaintiffsComplaintsigned.pdf

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Indiana Deputy Attorney General Jeff Cox Fired After Comment About Using “Live Ammunition” Against Protesters

February 23, 2011

INDIANA – Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has dismissed a deputy, Jeff Cox, for posting inappropriate comments online critical of the labor union protesters in Wisconsin.

Cox sent out a message on his Twitter account saying that police should “use live ammunition” against the protesters.

A staffer for the political news site Mother Jones sent a message back to the person, who was then only known by his online account name. Cox messaged back that the demonstrators were “political enemies” and “thugs.”

“You’re damned right I advocate deadly force,” Cox wrote to the Mother Jones staffer.

Earlier today, the attorney general’s office said it was investigating whether Cox had sent the tweet and said it was a serious matter.

This afternoon, the office issued a statement saying Cox was no longer employed there. The office said it had conducted “a thorough and expeditious review” after it learned of the Mother Jones article.

“Civility and courtesy toward all members of the public are very important to the Indiana Attorney General’s office. We respect individual’s First Amendment right to express their personal views on private online forums, but as public servants we are held by the public to a higher standard, and we should strive for civility,” the office said in a statement.

Cox told WRTV he realizes the tweet wasn’t a good idea, but he doesn’t think public employees should lose their free speech rights.

Cox is the son of WRTV reporter Norman Cox.

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A-Hole Mississippi Judge, Nutcase Talmadge Littlejohn, Jailed Lawyer Who Refused To Recite The Pledge Of Allegiance In His Courtroom

October 7, 2010

NEW ALBANY, MISSISSIPPI – A Mississippi judge yesterday jailed a lawyer who refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in his courtroom.

Attorney Danny Lampley, 49, was taken into custody Wednesday morning after Chancellor Talmadge Littlejohn cited him for criminal contempt of court for failing to recite the 31-word pledge at the outset of the morning’s proceedings at the Lee County courthouse.

An October 6 order signed by Talmadge notes that Lampley was being charged for his “failure to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance as ordered.” Lampley, the judge added, “shall purge himself of said criminal contempt…by standing and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in open court.”

Lampley, pictured in the mug shots at right, was jailed for nearly five hours before Littlejohn ordered his release so that the lawyer could be present for a “previously set hearing before the Court.” The attorney, no longer in stripes, returned to the Tupelo courthouse after being sprung from jail.

It is unclear whether Lampley, who does not believe citizens are required to recite the pledge, will again be sanctioned by Littlejohn if he takes a pass on the pledge.

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Long Island New York Judge Michael Dorsky Loses Job And Law License After Dating And Dropped Case Against Police Officer Defendant

September 24, 2010

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – A federal appeals court says a former traffic court judge must lose his law license for going on a date with a defendant and then ruling in her favor.

Michael Dorsky worked for the Department of Motor Vehicles in Garden City, Long Island.

The defendant was a New York City police officer who was accused of driving an uninsured vehicle.

Dorsky lost his job after the case.

The ruling was made last week.

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Manhattan New York Criminal Court Judge And Former Prosecutor James Gibbons Quits In Disgrace After Fathering Child With Young Legal Aid Lawyer And Collection Of Porn Is Discovered On His Office Computer

August 27, 2010

MANHATTAN, NEW YORK – A cleavage-crazed criminal court judge – who fathered a son with a young Legal Aid lawyer – quit after officials found a massive porn stash on his work computer, sources said Thursday.

Disgraced Manhattan jurist James Gibbons, a whip-smart ex-prosecutor who once convicted rapists and killers, fired off a terse resignation letter last week after the nasty cache was uncovered.

“There was a lot of porn on his computer – all young women,” an investigator told the Daily News. “Lots of crotch and cleavage shots.”

The Manhattan district attorney’s office is scouring the vile files to determine if criminal charges are warranted – and are checking whether any of the women are underage.

Gibbons, 47, already had raised eyebrows with his ethics-skirting romance with Legal Aid lawyer Jeanne Emhoff, 31, who he fathered a son with weeks ago.

Emhoff’s Facebook page, which was pulled down Thursday, featured a photo of a man with a boy on his shoulder.

The porn revelation staggered the baby’s grandparents.

“This is going to break her heart,” Emhoff’s stepdad said of his wife. “She thinks the world of Jim. … This will destroy my wife.”

Gibbons – who was not arrested – was caught when a computer-monitoring system in the courthouse red-flagged his courthouse terminal, a law enforcement source said.

He was on paternity leave when the images were discovered and the computer seized.

During the 14 years he worked in the Manhattan district attorney’s office, Gibbons was well-known for his efficient handling of street crimes.

He also enjoyed a good reputation on the bench after his December 2001 appointment by departing Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

“He was a very careful judge on the law,” lawyer Adam Freedman said. “If he was using his state-issued computer for illegal activities, it would be uncharacteristic, considering how careful he is on the law.”

Despite the possible conflicts of interest between Gibbons and Emhoff, a source close to the case said, their affair was unrelated to the investigation.

“There is absolutely no link between the judge’s relationship with Jeanne Emhoff and any alleged criminal activity,” the source said. “One has nothing to do with the other.”

It was unclear when the porn was found on the disgraced judge’s computer, but sources said its discovery was just routine.

“In government agencies, and in many private sector firms, employers are able to monitor employee computer usage,” a source said.

Gibbons quit his position with a simple three-paragraph letter that offered no clues to his sudden nightmare.

“It has been a privilege to serve as a judge of the Criminal Court of the City of New York,” he wrote. “Please accept this letter as a statement of my resignation of that office effective today.”

Appeared Here


Philadelphia Pennsylvania Lawyer William L. Bowe Gets A Beating In Court – Second Time In 7 Months

June 10, 2010

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – For years, Philadelphia lawyer William L. Bowe has represented people most lawyers will not: accused killers, often with long criminal records and short tempers, some of them on what seems like a fast track to death row.

It’s the kind of job that might make some lawyers ask for combat pay. In Bowe’s case, literally.

On Wednesday – for the second time in seven months – Bowe was assaulted in court by a client, this time Eric DeShann Floyd, one of two men on trial for murder in the 2008 shooting of Police Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski.

Wednesday’s attack happened after two days of disruptions of jury selection by Floyd, who has openly argued with Common Pleas Court Judge Renee Cardwell Hughes about her refusal to grant his last-minute request to fire his lawyers and represent himself.

By Tuesday, after Floyd publicly interrupted questioning of a prospective juror, Hughes told him he would watch the rest of the trial in a holding cell via closed-circuit television.

On Wednesday, the judge ordered Floyd back into court to see whether he had changed his mind about behaving. When Floyd said no and Hughes ordered him removed, Floyd swung and punched Bowe behind an ear.

As Bowe slumped to the side, Floyd hit the lawyer again in the back of the head as sheriff’s deputies wrestled him away and took him from the courtroom.

Bowe tried to walk from the courtroom with help but was persuaded by paramedics to be moved by stretcher to an ambulance. He was taken to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital for examination and released.

Floyd’s action again postponed jury selection, this time to Friday, when prosecution and defense lawyers – including Bowe – return.

“Mr. Bowe is tired, but he will be in good health when we resume this case on Friday,” the judge announced in a brief return to the bench.

Common Pleas Court President Judge Pamela Pryor Dembe said such incidents are always possible in the criminal court system. She said she was pleased that sheriff’s deputies subdued Floyd so quickly.

“By and large, when you consider how many unhappy and how many violent people are brought into our courtrooms, and that includes nondefendants as well, it’s amazing we don’t see this type of thing more often,” Dembe said.

As word spread that a lawyer, and specifically Bowe, had been assaulted, colleagues stopped by the third-floor courtroom at the Criminal Justice Center.

Criminal defense lawyer Guy R. Sciolla called Bowe “the consummate professional,” whom he has known since the early 1970s, when Bowe was a public defender and he was a city prosecutor.

“I think every lawyer thinks about something like this happening,” Sciolla said, adding, “If he [Floyd] is going to do this to Bill Bowe, he would have done it to anybody.”

The fact that Bowe will continue representing Floyd shows his professionalism, Sciolla said.

Bowe, 63, has been a fixture of the Center City legal community for decades. Standing well over six feet, with a head of mussed gray hair and a thick mustache, he is soft-spoken and reticent in public, almost a casting director’s choice for “country lawyer.”

Bowe is cordial, but never comments to reporters. Nor would he Wednesday as he was wheeled to the ambulance.

In recent years, colleagues say, Bowe’s solo practice has been limited almost exclusively to murder and death-penalty cases.

Outside court, he has taught trial advocacy at Temple University’s law school and conducted professional seminars about death-penalty law.

His last physical encounter with a client was in November, when he was punched out by Eric Arms, 29, moments after a Philadelphia jury convicted Arms of third-degree murder. Arms was sentenced to 18 to 45 years in prison for the murder. He has yet to be tried for assaulting Bowe.

Floyd – short and muscular to Bowe’s tall and lanky – is expected to be charged with assault in Wednesday’s incident after the current murder trial.

He has a record of arrests for robbery, including a 1994 case in which he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one to five years in prison.

Floyd, of North Philadelphia, and co-defendant Levon T. Warner, 41, of West Philadelphia, face the possibility of the death penalty if the jury finds them guilty of first-degree murder.

Floyd and Warner are accused of taking part in the May 3, 2008, bank robbery and chase that ended in Port Richmond with Liczbinski, who had been pursuing them, dead of gunshot wounds.

Howard Cain, 33, alleged leader of the group who police say shot the 12-year veteran officer, was killed by police after the three split up and he ran off.

Jury selection in Floyd’s and Warner’s trial began Monday and Floyd began interrupting the proceedings, demanding the right to fire Bowe, who he said “rubbed me the wrong way.”

Floyd complained that Bowe and co-counsel Earl G. Kauffman were not asking questions or raising pretrial issues that he thought were important.

Still, Floyd’s disruptions were only vocal. Until Wednesday.

Appeared Here


Scam By Military Prosecutor And Judge Sends Sex Offender Doctor To Jail For Just 7 Days – At Least 23 Victims, Some Of Whom Have A Problem With Doctor Receiving Less Than A Slap On The Wrist

June 6, 2010

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, JAPAN — Victims of convicted sex offender Lt. Cmdr. Anthony L. Velasquez say they are furious at the Navy for letting the disgraced doctor off with what they perceive as a light sentence — and then misleading them into thinking the sentence had been much tougher.

At least 23 women had alleged that Velasquez sexually violated them after they sought medical treatment in two locations, at Japan’s Naval Air Facility Atsugi branch clinic in 2007 and 2008 and Kuwait’s Camp Arifjan clinic between December 2008 and June 2009.

On May 26, Velasquez pleaded guilty at a Yokosuka Naval Base court-martial to two counts of wrongful sexual contact and two counts of conduct unbecoming an officer. In exchange for those guilty pleas, under the terms of a pretrial plea agreement negotiated between the Judge Advocate General’s Office and the defense, prosecutors dropped 29 other counts of sexual misconduct and related charges leveled against Velasquez by his former patients.

Military judge Cmdr. David Berger sentenced Velasquez to two years in prison, a $28,000 fine, dismissal from the Navy and forfeiture of all pay and allowances, but the convening authority suspended the prison sentence and fine in accordance with the pretrial agreement. Instead, Velasquez spent just seven days in the Yokosuka Naval Base brig.

But a post-trial e-mail sent to victims by the JAG office left some with the impression that Velasquez would suffer a much harsher fate.

The May 26 e-mail stated that “the judge awarded a sentence of 24 months, a $28,000 fine to be paid right away or else an additional 6 months would be imposed, total forfeitures of pay, and most iportantly [sic], a DISMISSAL from the Navy.”

The e-mail made no mention of the plea agreement. Nor did it state that the judge’s sentence had been largely set aside because of the plea deal. Unless Velasquez violates the terms of the plea agreement and commits another crime, he won’t go to federal prison or pay any penalties.

Stars and Stripes contacted seven of the women whose complaints led to charges against Velasquez. Three said they did not fully understand what happened.

“I was confused when I read the [May 26] Stars and Stripes article, and it said that none of the punishment set would be happening unless he committed another crime … so I guess I don’t even know what his actual punishment is,” said an enlisted soldier whom Velasquez was convicted of molesting while she was a patient at Camp Arifjan. “It’s all been very unclear to me. I ask questions, and a lot of them don’t get answered.”

Capt. Rex Guinn, commander of Regional Legal Service Office Japan and the ranking officer copied on the JAG e-mail, said the victims were offered the right to choose whether they wanted to be notified of a plea agreement as part of the Victim-Witness Assistance Program. Neither Guinn nor any of the attorneys copied on the e-mail sent a follow-up e-mail to the full group of victims to clarify the decision.

“It was a wrap-up providing the 2703 form,” said Guinn, referring to a form that explains the post-trial rights of victims. “That was the intent of the communication.”

The victims are free to lodge an official complaint if they believe they were misled, Navy spokesman Cmdr. Ron Steiner said. As of Friday afternoon, no one had done so, he said.

Two of the victims that Stars and Stripes interviewed said that prosecutor Lt. Emily Dewey, the author of the e-mail message, explained the plea deal to them after they sent her private replies about the confusing message.

Another victim said she did not blame Dewey for the misleading e-mail “because it didn’t sound like her at all.”

That victim said Dewey had told her about the impending plea deal days before the final hearing. Before the deal was made, she said, Dewey had expressed her eagerness to fight the complete case in a trial.

Dewey could not be reached for comment Friday, but told Stars and Stripes last week that all requests for comment should be referred to her superiors.

Among the seven women interviewed, two expressed some satisfaction that Velasquez had been found guilty, along with relief that the trial had concluded.

However, all expressed dismay over the terms of the plea deal, which most called “a slap on the wrist.”

Velasquez was released from the brig earlier this week and was walking around base at Atsugi on Wednesday, according to Navy officials.

“It feels like, because we’re military, there is no justice and that he’s getting away with it,” said one of the victims. “Had we been in the civilian world, he’d be in jail for a long time.

“But that’s not the case in the military, where the higher-ups make that decision,” she continued. “It’s another slap on the hand. It’s appalling. You know you’re going to suffer the rest of your life, and he’s just going to lose his license. Are you kidding me? It doesn’t make up for what he did.”

Many of the women visited Velasquez for common maladies such as neck and sinus pain. But, according to evidence and court testimony, Velasquez, 48, used his ungloved hands to fondle their genitals while purporting to check their lymph nodes.

“For me, this is yet another example of the military protecting officer positions from disciplinary action,” another victim said. “Have an enlisted man do the same thing, the sentence would have been much harsher.”

Steiner, the Navy spokesman, emphasized that Velasquez will have to register as a sex offender when he returns to the United States. His medical credentials also will be subject to revocation by a civilian medical body, and he will be dismissed from the Navy–the harshest type of discharge available in that service.

“That’s the equivalent of a dishonorable discharge,” Steiner said. “These are serious outcomes.”

The case must now be authenticated, which includes transcription and review of the proceedings by attorneys. It is then forwarded for approval to the convening authority, which in this case is the Naval Forces Japan commander, Rear Adm. Richard Wren.

Wren can make the sentence more lenient but he cannot make it any harsher.

“The convening authority can order a rehearing to the findings … but I’ve never seen it happen,” Guinn said.

Following Wren’s decision, the case is subject to appeal.

Appeared Here


Department Of Justice Investigated After Botched Case And Kangaroo Trial Of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens – Gross Misconduct

April 5, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC – The bungled trial of former GOP Sen. Ted Stevens tainted more than just the Justice Department. It probably tipped the balance of a close election, and the fallout from that is far from over.

Stevens, the 85-year-old patriarch of Alaska politics, is headed to court Tuesday, when a judge is expected to grant Attorney General Eric Holder’s request to dismiss the case and toss out Stevens’ conviction.

Within the department, the Stevens case could have far-ranging implications. The prosecution team, including the top two officials in the public integrity section, faces an internal investigation.

The FBI has 2,500 pending corruption investigations across the country, and whether the targets are lawmakers or suspected crooked government inspectors, prosecutors may be more cautious in bringing charges after the Stevens debacle.

A jury convicted Stevens of lying about gifts and home renovations provided by an Alaska businessman.

Stevens beat the charges, but lost his job. In that, he’s not alone.

In Puerto Rico last year, prosecutors filed a new indictment against Democratic Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila three months before the election. He lost the race, but a jury found him not guilty of all charges.

The prosecution “certainly smacked of political motivation,” argued Acevedo’s lawyer, Thomas Green.

Such accusations are not new from defense lawyers in corruption cases. But they have far more bite when the politicians charged ultimately win in court after having lost their careers.

In Wisconsin in 2006, prosecutors indicted a little-known state worker for allegedly helping contributors to Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle get a contract. The worker, Georgia Thompson, was sentenced to prison two months before the election.

After the election – which Doyle won – an appeals court not only overturned her conviction, but ordered her immediately freed from prison. One appeals court judge described the evidence against Thompson as “beyond thin.”

During the Bush administration, Democrats claimed the conviction of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman was pushed by politically minded Republicans.

Siegelman, who was sent to prison in 2007 for bribery and corruption, was freed last year on bond. An appeals court recently dismissed some, but not all the charges and ordered him resentenced. His lawyer is asking the attorney general to toss out the case entirely, just like in the Stevens case.

Holder, a former corruption prosecutor, is also facing calls to overhaul the public integrity section.

In announcing his decision on Stevens, he said the department “must always ensure that any case in which it is involved is handled fairly and consistent with its commitment to justice.”

Joseph diGenova, a former federal prosecutor, said federal prosecutors suffer from “a lack of supervision.”

“I’m a great fan of prosecutors, but the department and the U.S. attorneys offices in my opinion have been out of control,” diGenova said.

In Stevens’ case, Holder decided to pull the plug after prosecutors withheld notes of an interview with a crucial witness. The notes would have contradicted damaging testimony the witness gave against Stevens.

To diGenova, it was one of the worst examples of prosecutors caring more about winning a case than finding justice, and further proof of what he called incredible arrogance of many lawyers in the department.

“This was, in essence, a framing of a senator. That doesn’t mean he’s pure as the driven snow, but they were going to convict him no matter what,” the lawyer said. “They changed the balance of power in the United States Senate. That ought to be a crime.”

Stevens was the longest-serving Republican in Senate history. A week before the 2008 election, a jury found him guilty on seven felony counts of lying on Senate financial disclosure forms to conceal hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and home renovations from a wealthy oil contractor.

After the conviction, Stevens lost to Democrat Mark Begich by fewer than 4,000 votes. Begich has rejected calls from Alaska Republicans, including Gov. Sarah Palin, for him to resign in order to have a new election for the seat.

When he took the job of attorney general, Holder pledged to remove any political considerations from the department’s work after a slew of investigations into alleged partisan meddling during the Bush years.

Those accusations were initially driven by the firings of nine U.S. attorneys in late 2006, and culminated with the ouster of Alberto Gonzales as attorney general.

Yet it was the Republican administration that filed the case against the Republican Stevens, and it was their Democratic successors who dropped it.

Appeared Here


Department Of Justice Investigated After Botched Case And Kangaroo Trial Of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens – Gross Misconduct

April 5, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC – The bungled trial of former GOP Sen. Ted Stevens tainted more than just the Justice Department. It probably tipped the balance of a close election, and the fallout from that is far from over.

Stevens, the 85-year-old patriarch of Alaska politics, is headed to court Tuesday, when a judge is expected to grant Attorney General Eric Holder’s request to dismiss the case and toss out Stevens’ conviction.

Within the department, the Stevens case could have far-ranging implications. The prosecution team, including the top two officials in the public integrity section, faces an internal investigation.

The FBI has 2,500 pending corruption investigations across the country, and whether the targets are lawmakers or suspected crooked government inspectors, prosecutors may be more cautious in bringing charges after the Stevens debacle.

A jury convicted Stevens of lying about gifts and home renovations provided by an Alaska businessman.

Stevens beat the charges, but lost his job. In that, he’s not alone.

In Puerto Rico last year, prosecutors filed a new indictment against Democratic Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila three months before the election. He lost the race, but a jury found him not guilty of all charges.

The prosecution “certainly smacked of political motivation,” argued Acevedo’s lawyer, Thomas Green.

Such accusations are not new from defense lawyers in corruption cases. But they have far more bite when the politicians charged ultimately win in court after having lost their careers.

In Wisconsin in 2006, prosecutors indicted a little-known state worker for allegedly helping contributors to Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle get a contract. The worker, Georgia Thompson, was sentenced to prison two months before the election.

After the election – which Doyle won – an appeals court not only overturned her conviction, but ordered her immediately freed from prison. One appeals court judge described the evidence against Thompson as “beyond thin.”

During the Bush administration, Democrats claimed the conviction of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman was pushed by politically minded Republicans.

Siegelman, who was sent to prison in 2007 for bribery and corruption, was freed last year on bond. An appeals court recently dismissed some, but not all the charges and ordered him resentenced. His lawyer is asking the attorney general to toss out the case entirely, just like in the Stevens case.

Holder, a former corruption prosecutor, is also facing calls to overhaul the public integrity section.

In announcing his decision on Stevens, he said the department “must always ensure that any case in which it is involved is handled fairly and consistent with its commitment to justice.”

Joseph diGenova, a former federal prosecutor, said federal prosecutors suffer from “a lack of supervision.”

“I’m a great fan of prosecutors, but the department and the U.S. attorneys offices in my opinion have been out of control,” diGenova said.

In Stevens’ case, Holder decided to pull the plug after prosecutors withheld notes of an interview with a crucial witness. The notes would have contradicted damaging testimony the witness gave against Stevens.

To diGenova, it was one of the worst examples of prosecutors caring more about winning a case than finding justice, and further proof of what he called incredible arrogance of many lawyers in the department.

“This was, in essence, a framing of a senator. That doesn’t mean he’s pure as the driven snow, but they were going to convict him no matter what,” the lawyer said. “They changed the balance of power in the United States Senate. That ought to be a crime.”

Stevens was the longest-serving Republican in Senate history. A week before the 2008 election, a jury found him guilty on seven felony counts of lying on Senate financial disclosure forms to conceal hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and home renovations from a wealthy oil contractor.

After the conviction, Stevens lost to Democrat Mark Begich by fewer than 4,000 votes. Begich has rejected calls from Alaska Republicans, including Gov. Sarah Palin, for him to resign in order to have a new election for the seat.

When he took the job of attorney general, Holder pledged to remove any political considerations from the department’s work after a slew of investigations into alleged partisan meddling during the Bush years.

Those accusations were initially driven by the firings of nine U.S. attorneys in late 2006, and culminated with the ouster of Alberto Gonzales as attorney general.

Yet it was the Republican administration that filed the case against the Republican Stevens, and it was their Democratic successors who dropped it.

Appeared Here


Federal Prosecutors Botched Case Against Alaska Senator Ted Stevens – Conviction Reversed, Charges Dismissed

April 1, 2009

ALASKA – The Justice Department will drop all charges against former Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, NPR has learned.

A jury convicted Stevens last fall of seven counts of lying on his Senate disclosure form in order to conceal $250,000 in gifts from an oil industry executive and other friends. Stevens was the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, however, he lost his bid for an eighth full term in office just days after he was convicted. Since then, charges of prosecutorial misconduct have delayed his sentencing and prompted defense motions for a new trial.

According to Justice Department officials, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has decided to drop the case against Stevens rather than continue to defend the conviction in the face of persistent problems stemming from the actions of prosecutors.

The judge in the Stevens case has repeatedly delayed sentencing and criticized trial prosecutors for what he’s called prosecutorial misconduct. At one point, prosecutors were held in contempt. Things got so bad that the Justice Department finally replaced the trial team, including top-ranking officials in the office of public integrity. That’s the department’s section charged with prosecuting public corruption cases.

With more ugly hearings expected, Holder is said to have decided late Tuesday to pull the plug. Stevens’ lawyers are expected to be informed Wednesday morning that the department will dismiss the indictment against the former senator.

Holder’s decision is said to be based on Stevens’ age — he’s 85 — and because Stevens is no longer in the Senate. Perhaps most importantly, Justice Department officials say Holder wants to send a message to prosecutors throughout the department that actions he regards as misconduct will not be tolerated.

Holder began his career in the department’s public integrity section; and, according to sources, he was horrified by the failure of prosecutors to turn over all relevant materials to the defense.

The attorney general also knows the trial judge, Emmett Sullivan, well. The two men served together as judges of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia before each was promoted to higher office.

Holder respects Sullivan and reportedly has watched with growing alarm as Sullivan repeatedly has scolded prosecutors for failing to follow his judicial orders to fully inform defense lawyers about everything from potentially favorable evidence to the travel plans of witnesses. During the trial, prosecutorial missteps led to the judge instructing the jury to disregard some evidence.

Sentencing has been repeatedly delayed. By last month, it was playing a back seat to charges of prosecutorial misconduct — as a whistle-blowing FBI agent made complaints about improper conduct by a fellow agent and prosecutors. With a hearing scheduled in two weeks to explore those charges, Holder decided to review the case himself.

Justice Department officials say they will withdraw their opposition to the defense motion for a new trial and will dismiss the indictment — in effect voiding the Stevens conviction.

Appeared Here


Federal Prosecutors Botched Case Against Alaska Senator Ted Stevens – Conviction Reversed, Charges Dismissed

April 1, 2009

ALASKA – The Justice Department will drop all charges against former Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, NPR has learned.

A jury convicted Stevens last fall of seven counts of lying on his Senate disclosure form in order to conceal $250,000 in gifts from an oil industry executive and other friends. Stevens was the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, however, he lost his bid for an eighth full term in office just days after he was convicted. Since then, charges of prosecutorial misconduct have delayed his sentencing and prompted defense motions for a new trial.

According to Justice Department officials, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has decided to drop the case against Stevens rather than continue to defend the conviction in the face of persistent problems stemming from the actions of prosecutors.

The judge in the Stevens case has repeatedly delayed sentencing and criticized trial prosecutors for what he’s called prosecutorial misconduct. At one point, prosecutors were held in contempt. Things got so bad that the Justice Department finally replaced the trial team, including top-ranking officials in the office of public integrity. That’s the department’s section charged with prosecuting public corruption cases.

With more ugly hearings expected, Holder is said to have decided late Tuesday to pull the plug. Stevens’ lawyers are expected to be informed Wednesday morning that the department will dismiss the indictment against the former senator.

Holder’s decision is said to be based on Stevens’ age — he’s 85 — and because Stevens is no longer in the Senate. Perhaps most importantly, Justice Department officials say Holder wants to send a message to prosecutors throughout the department that actions he regards as misconduct will not be tolerated.

Holder began his career in the department’s public integrity section; and, according to sources, he was horrified by the failure of prosecutors to turn over all relevant materials to the defense.

The attorney general also knows the trial judge, Emmett Sullivan, well. The two men served together as judges of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia before each was promoted to higher office.

Holder respects Sullivan and reportedly has watched with growing alarm as Sullivan repeatedly has scolded prosecutors for failing to follow his judicial orders to fully inform defense lawyers about everything from potentially favorable evidence to the travel plans of witnesses. During the trial, prosecutorial missteps led to the judge instructing the jury to disregard some evidence.

Sentencing has been repeatedly delayed. By last month, it was playing a back seat to charges of prosecutorial misconduct — as a whistle-blowing FBI agent made complaints about improper conduct by a fellow agent and prosecutors. With a hearing scheduled in two weeks to explore those charges, Holder decided to review the case himself.

Justice Department officials say they will withdraw their opposition to the defense motion for a new trial and will dismiss the indictment — in effect voiding the Stevens conviction.

Appeared Here


$50 Million San Francisco California Lawsuit Targets Bay Area Rapid Transit Police After Fatal Shooting Involving Officers Having An Affair

March 9, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – Did an affair between two BART police officers sent to quell a New Year’s disturbance at the Fruitvale Station set the stage for the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant by their fellow Officer Johannes Mehserle?

That’s the claim attorney John Burris makes in the wrongful-death lawsuit against the transit agency that he filed on the Grant family’s behalf.

The family is seeking $50 million, an unlikely amount even given the gravity of the case. But Burris’ play doesn’t look to be the courtroom – he’s angling for a hefty settlement from BART in advance, largely by putting political pressure on the agency.

Toward that end, Burris – a master at such lawsuits – has been steadily stoking the public relations fire under BART’s cloth seat.

Last week, Burris filed documents in Alameda County Superior Court claiming that the events leading up to Grant’s shooting were the result of an “unprofessional relationship” between two BART police officers who responded that night to reports of a fight on a train.

According to the March 2 complaint, a female officer “got in the face of the young men (suspected of being in the fight) and repeatedly pointed her Taser at them, threatening to tase them in the face.”

One of them, Grant, got right back in her face, prompting a male officer to rush over and push him to the ground “while threatening to Taser him,” the complaint says.

More words were exchanged, prompting Mehserle to come over to assist in restraining Grant, pull his gun and fire once into Grant’s back.

Now, Mehserle faces murder charges and BART is enduring perhaps its worst public relations debacle ever.

Burris doesn’t directly connect the dots. But it’s plain that he’s prepared to argue that the male officer’s rush to assist the female cop was prompted by misplaced chivalry.

It’s not the first time Burris has raised the issue.

In a February letter to BART Police Chief Gary Gee, Burris wrote that “a number of sources, some within your department,” had informed Grant’s family that the two officers had a “nonprofessional relationship” that influenced their conduct.

“It is said that the relationship is an ‘open secret’ within the department,” Burris wrote. “We are concerned that the relationship may have contributed to the circumstances surrounding the shooting.”

Burris went on to ask for an internal affairs investigation into the supposed relationship.

Gee never replied to Burris, and Burris has yet to name names.

But in his letter to the chief, he wrote, “We will provide names if asked.”

Dale Allen, the attorney representing BART in the case, called the claims regarding the unnamed officers “unseemly and salacious.”

“I will not dignify them with a comment,” Allen said.

Appeared Here


$50 Million San Francisco California Lawsuit Targets Bay Area Rapid Transit Police After Fatal Shooting Involving Officers Having An Affair

March 9, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – Did an affair between two BART police officers sent to quell a New Year’s disturbance at the Fruitvale Station set the stage for the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant by their fellow Officer Johannes Mehserle?

That’s the claim attorney John Burris makes in the wrongful-death lawsuit against the transit agency that he filed on the Grant family’s behalf.

The family is seeking $50 million, an unlikely amount even given the gravity of the case. But Burris’ play doesn’t look to be the courtroom – he’s angling for a hefty settlement from BART in advance, largely by putting political pressure on the agency.

Toward that end, Burris – a master at such lawsuits – has been steadily stoking the public relations fire under BART’s cloth seat.

Last week, Burris filed documents in Alameda County Superior Court claiming that the events leading up to Grant’s shooting were the result of an “unprofessional relationship” between two BART police officers who responded that night to reports of a fight on a train.

According to the March 2 complaint, a female officer “got in the face of the young men (suspected of being in the fight) and repeatedly pointed her Taser at them, threatening to tase them in the face.”

One of them, Grant, got right back in her face, prompting a male officer to rush over and push him to the ground “while threatening to Taser him,” the complaint says.

More words were exchanged, prompting Mehserle to come over to assist in restraining Grant, pull his gun and fire once into Grant’s back.

Now, Mehserle faces murder charges and BART is enduring perhaps its worst public relations debacle ever.

Burris doesn’t directly connect the dots. But it’s plain that he’s prepared to argue that the male officer’s rush to assist the female cop was prompted by misplaced chivalry.

It’s not the first time Burris has raised the issue.

In a February letter to BART Police Chief Gary Gee, Burris wrote that “a number of sources, some within your department,” had informed Grant’s family that the two officers had a “nonprofessional relationship” that influenced their conduct.

“It is said that the relationship is an ‘open secret’ within the department,” Burris wrote. “We are concerned that the relationship may have contributed to the circumstances surrounding the shooting.”

Burris went on to ask for an internal affairs investigation into the supposed relationship.

Gee never replied to Burris, and Burris has yet to name names.

But in his letter to the chief, he wrote, “We will provide names if asked.”

Dale Allen, the attorney representing BART in the case, called the claims regarding the unnamed officers “unseemly and salacious.”

“I will not dignify them with a comment,” Allen said.

Appeared Here


Broke States Reconsider Spending Millions And Wasting Years Pursuing Death Penalty Cases

March 2, 2009

KANSAS – Brian Sanderholm thinks Justin Thurber deserves to die for raping and killing his 19-year-old daughter.

A Kansas jury sentenced Jodi Sanderholm’s killer, Justin Thurber, to death in February.

“I believe in an eye for an eye. If you do the crime, you need to have justice,” he said. “In the end, it’s up to the jury, but all that matters is that he can’t hurt anyone again.”

But amid a time of economic turmoil some legislators in Kansas and elsewhere say the price of justice is too high. They have introduced legislation to take the death penalty off the books over financial concerns.

Jodi Sanderholm was last seen alive on January 5, 2007, at dance practice at Cowley College in Arkansas City, Kansas, where she was a student and member of the Cowley College Tigerettes Danceline. Her bruised and battered body was found four days later in a pile of brush, bearing signs of a violent and prolonged death that prosecutors likened to torture.

A jury sentenced Thurber to death on February 18. A Kansas court will decide whether to uphold the jury’s verdict in a hearing scheduled for March 20.

If Kansas Senate Bill 208 passes, it won’t take effect until July 1, so it won’t affect Thurber’s sentence. But future savings could be substantial.

“Because of the downturn in the national economy, we are facing one of the largest budget deficits in our history,” state Sen. Carolyn McGinn, a Republican, said in an opinion piece posted on TheKansan.com Friday. “What is certain is we are all going to have to look at new and creative ways to fund state and community programs and services.”

The state would save more than $500,000 per case by not seeking the death penalty, McGinn wrote, money that could be used for “prevention programs, community corrections and other programs to decrease future crimes against society.”

Fiscal concerns are just a part of McGinn’s argument. She has also cited the disproportionate rate of minorities that are sentenced to death. Kansas reintroduced the death penalty in 1994 but has not executed a condemned inmate since 1965.

Anti-death-penalty groups say longer jury selection, extra expert witnesses, jury consultants and an extended penalty phase tend to make death penalty trials more costly than non-death-penalty cases. Extra safeguards in place to ensure a fair verdict, including additional investigators and defense attorneys certified to handle death cases, who spend more time researching and litigating the case, also drive up costs. See a chart comparing the costs of two murder trials »

A 2008 study by the Urban Institute, an economic and social policy research group based in Maryland, found that an average capital murder trial in the state resulting in a death sentence costs about $3 million, or $1.9 million more than a case where the death penalty is not sought.

A similar 2008 study by the ACLU in Northern California found that a death- penalty trial costs about $1.1 million more than a non-death-penalty trial in California.

McGinn’s bill faces opposition from various sides, including victims’ rights groups and the state’s top prosecutor, who says there are no hard numbers related to the cost of the death penalty.
Don’t Miss

* Families of Homicide Victims and Missing Persons
* Study: The Cost of the Death Penalty in Maryland (PDF)

New Mexico, which also has a bill before the Legislature to abolish the death penalty, has already seen a case where costs dictated the outcome. See which states have bills to get rid of the death penalty »

Last year, the New Mexico attorney general’s office agreed to drop the death penalty for two inmates involved in the stabbing death of a guard, Ralph Garcia, during a 1999 riot at the Guadalupe County Correctional Facility.

The change came after the state Legislature failed to provide additional funding for defense attorneys contracted to handle the case by the public defender’s office.

In court documents filed at the time, Attorney General Gary King said his office could not “in good faith under these circumstances” pursue the death penalty against Robert Young and Reis Lopez.

Even Garcia’s wife lent her voice to the case, writing a letter to then-Assistant Attorney General Michael Fox explaining why she did not support the death penalty.

“I would rather see the death penalty be abolished and reparation be made to the victims, wives or husbands and to their children. I know how hard it is to go look for a job when my job was staying home and taking care of the home and kids and my husband was the breadwinner,” Rachel Garcia wrote in a letter dated February 28, 2005.

“My husband would [have] wanted something like this as much as I do because he so much loved his family.”

Her sentiments became part a bill to abolish the death penalty that was introduced in 2007 and died on the Senate floor in New Mexico. Its supporters are hopeful it has a better chance this year — so far, it has passed the House of Representatives and is awaiting action in the Senate.

“I think it helps the debate from being less emotional than it has the potential to be,” Democratic Rep. Gail Chasey said. “People will say we can’t put a price on justice, but in fact, we do put a price on justice when we are not able to give our district attorneys, our police departments, our attorney general the funding they need.”

In Colorado, House Bill 1274 proposes to put the anticipated savings from abolishing the death penalty toward the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s cold case homicide team.
Guy Morton’s family thought he was missing for 12 years until they learned his remains had been misidentified.

Guy Morton’s family thought he was missing for 12 years until they learned his remains had been misidentified.

The state has about 1,430 unsolved homicides dating back to 1970, according to Howard Morton, founder of the Families of Homicide Victims and Missing Persons, an advocacy group pushing for the bill.

For Morton, whose son, Guy, disappeared in 1975, the issue goes beyond the misuse of tax dollars. Guy was considered a missing person for 12 years until forensic examination revealed that his remains had been misidentified. His killer was never found.

“As bad as it is to think that our son’s killer is still on the streets or in our neighborhoods, there’s nothing worse than feeling like he’s been forgotten, just another file in a basement,” he said. “Once you’ve had a loved one murdered, there can be no closure, but there can be resolution, the feeling like, oh well, at least justice was done.”

Kansas, New Mexico and Colorado, among the states where legislators are seeking to get rid of the death penalty, have carried out few or no executions since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976. On the other hand, Texas, Georgia and Virginia, which consistently lead the nation in executions each year, show no signs of changing course.

Earlier this month, Virginia’s House voted to expand capital punishment to include those who assist in a murder, and those who kill an auxiliary police officer or on-duty fire marshal.

A bill to abolish the death penalty is also before the Texas legislature, but Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos intends to proceed with 194 pending death penalty cases she has on the books.

“We will spare no expense. We will go after them. Justice has no price tag,” Lykos said. “We want to be as cost-effective as possible without compromising the administration of justice and public safety.”

Nonetheless, budget concerns in those states still hamper some efforts to seek the death penalty.

In Georgia, where Gov. Sonny Perdue has ordered all government agencies to trim their budgets by 6 percent, Jamie Ryan Weis, on trial for murder, has been sitting in a jail without a lawyer for more than a year.

The Georgia Public Defender Standards Council appointed two private attorneys in 2006 to represent Weis, who is charged with the murder of Catherine King. They were pulled from the case a year later because of a lack of funds, court documents indicate, and the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council has yet to replace them.

“The state basically says we want to have the death penalty and we don’t want to pay for it. It’s like the state says it’s going to the grocery store to buy the most expensive food and it’s not going to pay for it,” said attorney Don Samuel, one of three attorneys attempting to obtain a lawyer for Weis.

Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Scott Ballard said he plans to seek the death penalty against Weis, no matter how long it takes or how much it costs.

“I think that if you start deciding it’s too expensive to pursue the death penalty, then you’re encouraging the defense to make it too expensive, and our duty to the public is too great to succumb to that,” Ballard said.

Back in Kansas, Brian Sanderholm says the state has a duty to victims, too. He opposes efforts to abolish the death penalty because he says families should be able to weigh in on an appropriate punishment, and juries should render the final outcome.

In fact, if Thurber had admitted sooner to having killed his daughter, the father says he would have accepted a life sentence for him.
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But by the time Thurber decided to admit his role and seek a plea deal with prosecutors, his family had already been through too much, Sanderholm says.

“It was too late,” Sanderholm said. “We’d struggled so much, but after struggling for two years, we decided we’re just going to go on with it.

Appeared Here


Broke States Reconsider Spending Millions And Wasting Years Pursuing Death Penalty Cases

March 2, 2009

KANSAS – Brian Sanderholm thinks Justin Thurber deserves to die for raping and killing his 19-year-old daughter.

A Kansas jury sentenced Jodi Sanderholm’s killer, Justin Thurber, to death in February.

“I believe in an eye for an eye. If you do the crime, you need to have justice,” he said. “In the end, it’s up to the jury, but all that matters is that he can’t hurt anyone again.”

But amid a time of economic turmoil some legislators in Kansas and elsewhere say the price of justice is too high. They have introduced legislation to take the death penalty off the books over financial concerns.

Jodi Sanderholm was last seen alive on January 5, 2007, at dance practice at Cowley College in Arkansas City, Kansas, where she was a student and member of the Cowley College Tigerettes Danceline. Her bruised and battered body was found four days later in a pile of brush, bearing signs of a violent and prolonged death that prosecutors likened to torture.

A jury sentenced Thurber to death on February 18. A Kansas court will decide whether to uphold the jury’s verdict in a hearing scheduled for March 20.

If Kansas Senate Bill 208 passes, it won’t take effect until July 1, so it won’t affect Thurber’s sentence. But future savings could be substantial.

“Because of the downturn in the national economy, we are facing one of the largest budget deficits in our history,” state Sen. Carolyn McGinn, a Republican, said in an opinion piece posted on TheKansan.com Friday. “What is certain is we are all going to have to look at new and creative ways to fund state and community programs and services.”

The state would save more than $500,000 per case by not seeking the death penalty, McGinn wrote, money that could be used for “prevention programs, community corrections and other programs to decrease future crimes against society.”

Fiscal concerns are just a part of McGinn’s argument. She has also cited the disproportionate rate of minorities that are sentenced to death. Kansas reintroduced the death penalty in 1994 but has not executed a condemned inmate since 1965.

Anti-death-penalty groups say longer jury selection, extra expert witnesses, jury consultants and an extended penalty phase tend to make death penalty trials more costly than non-death-penalty cases. Extra safeguards in place to ensure a fair verdict, including additional investigators and defense attorneys certified to handle death cases, who spend more time researching and litigating the case, also drive up costs. See a chart comparing the costs of two murder trials »

A 2008 study by the Urban Institute, an economic and social policy research group based in Maryland, found that an average capital murder trial in the state resulting in a death sentence costs about $3 million, or $1.9 million more than a case where the death penalty is not sought.

A similar 2008 study by the ACLU in Northern California found that a death- penalty trial costs about $1.1 million more than a non-death-penalty trial in California.

McGinn’s bill faces opposition from various sides, including victims’ rights groups and the state’s top prosecutor, who says there are no hard numbers related to the cost of the death penalty.
Don’t Miss

* Families of Homicide Victims and Missing Persons
* Study: The Cost of the Death Penalty in Maryland (PDF)

New Mexico, which also has a bill before the Legislature to abolish the death penalty, has already seen a case where costs dictated the outcome. See which states have bills to get rid of the death penalty »

Last year, the New Mexico attorney general’s office agreed to drop the death penalty for two inmates involved in the stabbing death of a guard, Ralph Garcia, during a 1999 riot at the Guadalupe County Correctional Facility.

The change came after the state Legislature failed to provide additional funding for defense attorneys contracted to handle the case by the public defender’s office.

In court documents filed at the time, Attorney General Gary King said his office could not “in good faith under these circumstances” pursue the death penalty against Robert Young and Reis Lopez.

Even Garcia’s wife lent her voice to the case, writing a letter to then-Assistant Attorney General Michael Fox explaining why she did not support the death penalty.

“I would rather see the death penalty be abolished and reparation be made to the victims, wives or husbands and to their children. I know how hard it is to go look for a job when my job was staying home and taking care of the home and kids and my husband was the breadwinner,” Rachel Garcia wrote in a letter dated February 28, 2005.

“My husband would [have] wanted something like this as much as I do because he so much loved his family.”

Her sentiments became part a bill to abolish the death penalty that was introduced in 2007 and died on the Senate floor in New Mexico. Its supporters are hopeful it has a better chance this year — so far, it has passed the House of Representatives and is awaiting action in the Senate.

“I think it helps the debate from being less emotional than it has the potential to be,” Democratic Rep. Gail Chasey said. “People will say we can’t put a price on justice, but in fact, we do put a price on justice when we are not able to give our district attorneys, our police departments, our attorney general the funding they need.”

In Colorado, House Bill 1274 proposes to put the anticipated savings from abolishing the death penalty toward the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s cold case homicide team.
Guy Morton’s family thought he was missing for 12 years until they learned his remains had been misidentified.

Guy Morton’s family thought he was missing for 12 years until they learned his remains had been misidentified.

The state has about 1,430 unsolved homicides dating back to 1970, according to Howard Morton, founder of the Families of Homicide Victims and Missing Persons, an advocacy group pushing for the bill.

For Morton, whose son, Guy, disappeared in 1975, the issue goes beyond the misuse of tax dollars. Guy was considered a missing person for 12 years until forensic examination revealed that his remains had been misidentified. His killer was never found.

“As bad as it is to think that our son’s killer is still on the streets or in our neighborhoods, there’s nothing worse than feeling like he’s been forgotten, just another file in a basement,” he said. “Once you’ve had a loved one murdered, there can be no closure, but there can be resolution, the feeling like, oh well, at least justice was done.”

Kansas, New Mexico and Colorado, among the states where legislators are seeking to get rid of the death penalty, have carried out few or no executions since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976. On the other hand, Texas, Georgia and Virginia, which consistently lead the nation in executions each year, show no signs of changing course.

Earlier this month, Virginia’s House voted to expand capital punishment to include those who assist in a murder, and those who kill an auxiliary police officer or on-duty fire marshal.

A bill to abolish the death penalty is also before the Texas legislature, but Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos intends to proceed with 194 pending death penalty cases she has on the books.

“We will spare no expense. We will go after them. Justice has no price tag,” Lykos said. “We want to be as cost-effective as possible without compromising the administration of justice and public safety.”

Nonetheless, budget concerns in those states still hamper some efforts to seek the death penalty.

In Georgia, where Gov. Sonny Perdue has ordered all government agencies to trim their budgets by 6 percent, Jamie Ryan Weis, on trial for murder, has been sitting in a jail without a lawyer for more than a year.

The Georgia Public Defender Standards Council appointed two private attorneys in 2006 to represent Weis, who is charged with the murder of Catherine King. They were pulled from the case a year later because of a lack of funds, court documents indicate, and the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council has yet to replace them.

“The state basically says we want to have the death penalty and we don’t want to pay for it. It’s like the state says it’s going to the grocery store to buy the most expensive food and it’s not going to pay for it,” said attorney Don Samuel, one of three attorneys attempting to obtain a lawyer for Weis.

Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Scott Ballard said he plans to seek the death penalty against Weis, no matter how long it takes or how much it costs.

“I think that if you start deciding it’s too expensive to pursue the death penalty, then you’re encouraging the defense to make it too expensive, and our duty to the public is too great to succumb to that,” Ballard said.

Back in Kansas, Brian Sanderholm says the state has a duty to victims, too. He opposes efforts to abolish the death penalty because he says families should be able to weigh in on an appropriate punishment, and juries should render the final outcome.

In fact, if Thurber had admitted sooner to having killed his daughter, the father says he would have accepted a life sentence for him.
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But by the time Thurber decided to admit his role and seek a plea deal with prosecutors, his family had already been through too much, Sanderholm says.

“It was too late,” Sanderholm said. “We’d struggled so much, but after struggling for two years, we decided we’re just going to go on with it.

Appeared Here


Clarke County Georgia Assistant District Attorney William Michael Olson Quits In Disgrace After Attempt To Steal A Hot Dog From A Street Vendor

February 27, 2009

CLARKE COUNTY, GEORGIA – A Clarke County assistant district attorney resigned Wednesday morning, hours after he allegedly tussled with a street vendor downtown and refused to pay for a hot dog.

William Michael Olson, 36, was arrested on misdemeanor charges of public intoxication and theft of services, Athens-Clarke police said.

Olson posted a $500 bond, was released from jail and resigned during a meeting with Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney Ken Mauldin.

“Billy is a good man and I think the world of him,” Mauldin said. “This is a very unfortunate situation, and I can only wish him the best and keep him in my thoughts and prayers.”

A police officer responded to a 1:25 a.m. report of a fight at the corner of East Broad Street and College Avenue, police said.

A street vendor told the officer that Olson ate a hot dog and walked away without paying; he also put his hands on the vendor’s chest two times, according to police.

When the officer caught up with Olson, the prosecutor said he didn’t know anything about a hot dog, though he had ketchup and mustard on his shirt, police said.

Olson’s speech was slurred and his eyes bloodshot, and his language was laced with profanities, the officer wrote in a report.

When the officer threatened to arrest him if he refused to pay $2.50 for the hot dog, Olson pulled out his wallet and flashed his assistant district attorney badge, police said.

He “told me I needed to be careful” and asked “was I was sure that I wanted to do this,” the officer wrote in the report.

Olson was incredulous when the officer said he would arrest him.

“You are going to lock me up for a f—ng hot dog, a dollar hot dog?” the officer quoted Olson in his report.

When a police supervisor arrived, Olson admitted to the officers that he’d been drinking, but told them he couldn’t recall details of what just happened, police said.

Mauldin would not say if he asked Olson to resign, but said his former assistant is a likable person and a diligent attorney.

“I think he has some matters he needs to address, and I’m sure he’ll be working through them,” Mauldin said.

Olson is respected among local defense attorneys, and his alleged behavior was out of character for the man they saw in court, according to Kim T. Stephens, who represented clients in several cases that Olson prosecuted.

“He was very professional and fair, and always seemed just in the cases he handled,” Stephens said. “My thoughts about him wouldn’t change just because of this incident.”

Appeared Here


Clarke County Georgia Assistant District Attorney William Michael Olson Quits In Disgrace After Attempt To Steal A Hot Dog From A Street Vendor

February 27, 2009

CLARKE COUNTY, GEORGIA – A Clarke County assistant district attorney resigned Wednesday morning, hours after he allegedly tussled with a street vendor downtown and refused to pay for a hot dog.

William Michael Olson, 36, was arrested on misdemeanor charges of public intoxication and theft of services, Athens-Clarke police said.

Olson posted a $500 bond, was released from jail and resigned during a meeting with Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney Ken Mauldin.

“Billy is a good man and I think the world of him,” Mauldin said. “This is a very unfortunate situation, and I can only wish him the best and keep him in my thoughts and prayers.”

A police officer responded to a 1:25 a.m. report of a fight at the corner of East Broad Street and College Avenue, police said.

A street vendor told the officer that Olson ate a hot dog and walked away without paying; he also put his hands on the vendor’s chest two times, according to police.

When the officer caught up with Olson, the prosecutor said he didn’t know anything about a hot dog, though he had ketchup and mustard on his shirt, police said.

Olson’s speech was slurred and his eyes bloodshot, and his language was laced with profanities, the officer wrote in a report.

When the officer threatened to arrest him if he refused to pay $2.50 for the hot dog, Olson pulled out his wallet and flashed his assistant district attorney badge, police said.

He “told me I needed to be careful” and asked “was I was sure that I wanted to do this,” the officer wrote in the report.

Olson was incredulous when the officer said he would arrest him.

“You are going to lock me up for a f—ng hot dog, a dollar hot dog?” the officer quoted Olson in his report.

When a police supervisor arrived, Olson admitted to the officers that he’d been drinking, but told them he couldn’t recall details of what just happened, police said.

Mauldin would not say if he asked Olson to resign, but said his former assistant is a likable person and a diligent attorney.

“I think he has some matters he needs to address, and I’m sure he’ll be working through them,” Mauldin said.

Olson is respected among local defense attorneys, and his alleged behavior was out of character for the man they saw in court, according to Kim T. Stephens, who represented clients in several cases that Olson prosecuted.

“He was very professional and fair, and always seemed just in the cases he handled,” Stephens said. “My thoughts about him wouldn’t change just because of this incident.”

Appeared Here


Norfolk Virginia Assistant State Attorney General Steven F. Lederman Arrested, Suspended, Charged With Drugs And Weapons

February 22, 2009

NORFOLK, VIRGINIA – An assistant state attorney general, Steven F. Lederman, has been arrested by Norfolk narcotics investigators on drug and weapons charges.

Lederman works in Norfolk on child-support enforcement matters. He has worked in the attorney general’s office since 1997.

David Clementson, a spokesman in the Attorney General’s office, said Lederman has been suspended without pay, pending the results of an investigation.

Lederman, 46, was arrested around 5 p.m. Thursday in Norfolk. The Norfolk resident was charged with one count of felony possession with intent to distribute marijuana and one count of a misdemeanor offense of carrying a concealed weapon. Norfolk police said they made the arrest after acting on information alleging illegal drug activity.

According to The Associated Press, a search warrant affidavit filed in Norfolk Circuit Court said police found marijuana in Lederman’s van after being alerted by a drug-sniffing dog.

The affidavit said the marijuana was inside the bag, wrapped in a Christmas present.

Appeared Here


Norfolk Virginia Assistant State Attorney General Steven F. Lederman Arrested, Suspended, Charged With Drugs And Weapons

February 22, 2009

NORFOLK, VIRGINIA – An assistant state attorney general, Steven F. Lederman, has been arrested by Norfolk narcotics investigators on drug and weapons charges.

Lederman works in Norfolk on child-support enforcement matters. He has worked in the attorney general’s office since 1997.

David Clementson, a spokesman in the Attorney General’s office, said Lederman has been suspended without pay, pending the results of an investigation.

Lederman, 46, was arrested around 5 p.m. Thursday in Norfolk. The Norfolk resident was charged with one count of felony possession with intent to distribute marijuana and one count of a misdemeanor offense of carrying a concealed weapon. Norfolk police said they made the arrest after acting on information alleging illegal drug activity.

According to The Associated Press, a search warrant affidavit filed in Norfolk Circuit Court said police found marijuana in Lederman’s van after being alerted by a drug-sniffing dog.

The affidavit said the marijuana was inside the bag, wrapped in a Christmas present.

Appeared Here


Worst Florida Lawyer Ever – Byron T. Christopher – Judge Orders New Trial After Man’s Murder Conviction

December 17, 2008

TAMPA, FLORIDA — For two days, a Hillsborough judge watched a young lawyer struggle through a murder defense and lose.

Then, as a deadline loomed, Circuit Judge William Fuente waited for customary defense motions to overturn the Dec. 4 conviction or request a new trial.

No motions came.

Finally on Monday, Fuente took the rare step of initiating his own order of a new trial for defendant David Rolon, saying defense attorney Byron T. Christopher “did not render effective assistance” and didn’t adequately prepare for trial.

“The defendant, through no fault of his own, did not receive a fair and impartial trial,” Fuente wrote in a four-page order.

Rolon, 41, stood accused of fatally shooting his Sulphur Springs neighbor during a March dispute over a parking space. He faced 25 years to life in prison.

Delores S. McCain, an alternate juror at Rolon’s trial, said the entire courtroom saw that he was getting poor representation.

“Everyone on the jury agreed,” she said. “We were saying, ‘I hope this guy wasn’t getting paid much.’ “

Veteran lawyers who reviewed the judge’s order at the St. Petersburg Times’ request said they had never seen anything like it.

“It’s nothing short of scathing in its message,” said Rick Terrana, who has practiced law for 20 years. “It takes an awful lot to get a result like you have in this case.”

Typically, a motion for a new trial begins with an attorney.

But the law also allows a judge to act on his own without receiving a motion from either of the opposing sides in granting a new trial if he decides a defendant wasn’t tried fairly.

The Fifth Amendment guarantees defendants competent legal assistance. Judge Fuente would have had to decide that Christopher’s actions were “so egregious” that Rolon didn’t get that, said Terrana.

Defendant Rolon declined to be interviewed from jail.

Christopher, 30, privately retained as Rolon’s attorney, didn’t return calls for comments. Numerous other attempts by the Times to reach him Tuesday were unsuccessful.

The Florida Bar Association lists Christopher as a member of its Young Lawyer’s Division. Public records show he began work as an assistant Hillsborough state attorney in April 2005, the same month he was admitted to the Florida Bar. Five months later, Christopher no longer worked for the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office. It was unclear Tuesday why he left.

McCain, the juror, said she was surprised Rolon took the stand in his defense. He suffered from a speech impediment, she said. His attorney’s questions seemed to confuse Rolon, she said.

“Sometimes he didn’t know what the defense attorney was trying to get him to say,” McCain said. “I think they usually practice those things. … It was sad. I think the guy’s guilty, but he didn’t get a good defense.”

Judge Fuente’s order noted that the attorney did not adequately prepare his client to testify. The judge wrote that Christopher said in open court that he had discussed Rolon’s testimony with him for “less than five minutes.”

“The unprepared defendant obviously did not know what questions his counsel would ask him,” Fuente wrote, “and he made unsolicited prejudicial statements during direct and cross examination.”

Bob Fraser, an attorney for 32 years, said what Fuente pointed out “are some fairly serious deficiencies in any defense case.”

“It’s the sort of thing that could follow (Christopher) throughout his career,” Fraser said. “You’re only as good as your last trial.”

Norman Cannella Sr. couldn’t recall seeing a similar order in his 36 years as an attorney. But he said he trusts Fuente’s judgment.

“I know Judge Fuente extremely well, and I know he’s a very fair and thoughtful person,” Cannella said. “I’m sure he must have labored over this for quite some time and finally decided he had to do what he did.”

State prosecutors have a legal right to appeal Fuente’s order. Pam Bondi, spokeswoman for the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office, said the agency will review its options.

Rhianna Short, whose 28-year-old boyfriend Mario Robinson died in the Sulphur Springs shooting, witnessed the scuffle and testified at trial.

She’ll do it again if necessary, she said. “It’s very hard, but I have to do it,” said Short, 22.

McCain, who once served as a juror in another case, said Christopher seemed to be constantly fumbling with his yellow note pad while attempting to defend Rolon.

“As much as I want to see this guy go to jail and pay for what he did because it was a brutal, brutal thing he did,” she said, “I have to say the defense attorney was unprepared. He seemed lost.”

She lauded Fuente for doing his best to ensure a fair trial.

“The judge was fantastic — very, very fair. He gave this guy every break in the world. I would have thrown him out of courtroom because he was an idiot,” McCain said. “The judge was almost teaching him how to be a defense attorney.”

Appeared Here


Worst Florida Lawyer Ever – Byron T. Christopher – Judge Orders New Trial After Man’s Murder Conviction

December 17, 2008

TAMPA, FLORIDA — For two days, a Hillsborough judge watched a young lawyer struggle through a murder defense and lose.

Then, as a deadline loomed, Circuit Judge William Fuente waited for customary defense motions to overturn the Dec. 4 conviction or request a new trial.

No motions came.

Finally on Monday, Fuente took the rare step of initiating his own order of a new trial for defendant David Rolon, saying defense attorney Byron T. Christopher “did not render effective assistance” and didn’t adequately prepare for trial.

“The defendant, through no fault of his own, did not receive a fair and impartial trial,” Fuente wrote in a four-page order.

Rolon, 41, stood accused of fatally shooting his Sulphur Springs neighbor during a March dispute over a parking space. He faced 25 years to life in prison.

Delores S. McCain, an alternate juror at Rolon’s trial, said the entire courtroom saw that he was getting poor representation.

“Everyone on the jury agreed,” she said. “We were saying, ‘I hope this guy wasn’t getting paid much.’ “

Veteran lawyers who reviewed the judge’s order at the St. Petersburg Times’ request said they had never seen anything like it.

“It’s nothing short of scathing in its message,” said Rick Terrana, who has practiced law for 20 years. “It takes an awful lot to get a result like you have in this case.”

Typically, a motion for a new trial begins with an attorney.

But the law also allows a judge to act on his own without receiving a motion from either of the opposing sides in granting a new trial if he decides a defendant wasn’t tried fairly.

The Fifth Amendment guarantees defendants competent legal assistance. Judge Fuente would have had to decide that Christopher’s actions were “so egregious” that Rolon didn’t get that, said Terrana.

Defendant Rolon declined to be interviewed from jail.

Christopher, 30, privately retained as Rolon’s attorney, didn’t return calls for comments. Numerous other attempts by the Times to reach him Tuesday were unsuccessful.

The Florida Bar Association lists Christopher as a member of its Young Lawyer’s Division. Public records show he began work as an assistant Hillsborough state attorney in April 2005, the same month he was admitted to the Florida Bar. Five months later, Christopher no longer worked for the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office. It was unclear Tuesday why he left.

McCain, the juror, said she was surprised Rolon took the stand in his defense. He suffered from a speech impediment, she said. His attorney’s questions seemed to confuse Rolon, she said.

“Sometimes he didn’t know what the defense attorney was trying to get him to say,” McCain said. “I think they usually practice those things. … It was sad. I think the guy’s guilty, but he didn’t get a good defense.”

Judge Fuente’s order noted that the attorney did not adequately prepare his client to testify. The judge wrote that Christopher said in open court that he had discussed Rolon’s testimony with him for “less than five minutes.”

“The unprepared defendant obviously did not know what questions his counsel would ask him,” Fuente wrote, “and he made unsolicited prejudicial statements during direct and cross examination.”

Bob Fraser, an attorney for 32 years, said what Fuente pointed out “are some fairly serious deficiencies in any defense case.”

“It’s the sort of thing that could follow (Christopher) throughout his career,” Fraser said. “You’re only as good as your last trial.”

Norman Cannella Sr. couldn’t recall seeing a similar order in his 36 years as an attorney. But he said he trusts Fuente’s judgment.

“I know Judge Fuente extremely well, and I know he’s a very fair and thoughtful person,” Cannella said. “I’m sure he must have labored over this for quite some time and finally decided he had to do what he did.”

State prosecutors have a legal right to appeal Fuente’s order. Pam Bondi, spokeswoman for the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office, said the agency will review its options.

Rhianna Short, whose 28-year-old boyfriend Mario Robinson died in the Sulphur Springs shooting, witnessed the scuffle and testified at trial.

She’ll do it again if necessary, she said. “It’s very hard, but I have to do it,” said Short, 22.

McCain, who once served as a juror in another case, said Christopher seemed to be constantly fumbling with his yellow note pad while attempting to defend Rolon.

“As much as I want to see this guy go to jail and pay for what he did because it was a brutal, brutal thing he did,” she said, “I have to say the defense attorney was unprepared. He seemed lost.”

She lauded Fuente for doing his best to ensure a fair trial.

“The judge was fantastic — very, very fair. He gave this guy every break in the world. I would have thrown him out of courtroom because he was an idiot,” McCain said. “The judge was almost teaching him how to be a defense attorney.”

Appeared Here


Lawyer Tries To Come Up With Clever Excuses After Yonkers New York Police Officer Wayne Simoes Was Videotaped Beating Innocent Woman In Restaurant

December 7, 2008

WHITE PLAINS, NEW YORK – The lawyer for a Yonkers police officer accused of brutalizing a woman said today that a videotape of the incident appears to have been doctored.

Attorney Andrew Quinn said during a hearing in U.S. District Court in White Plains that he intends to ask for a dismissal of the indictment against the suspended police officer, Wayne Simoes.

Quinn said a videotape of the incident at La Fonda Restaurant appears to have been sped up to show a much faster interaction between Simoes and Irma Marquez, the 44-year-old home health care attendant who suffered severe bruising and a concussion when Simoes allegedly slammed her to the floor of the restaurant.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which is prosecuting the officer, declined to comment.

Simoes, 39, was charged in June with violating Marquez’ rights in the March 3, 2007, incident. He was arrested by FBI agents a month after Marquez filed an $11.3 million civil rights lawsuit against the city and the videotape was splashed all over the media.

Marquez filed the lawsuit after she was cleared by a Yonkers jury of two misdemeanor charges.

Appeared Here