Morning Links

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009
  • British authorities remove kids from parents because of one boy’s leg fractures that “could only have been caused by physical abuse.” Child later determined to have rare form of scurvy; no abuse. Court says, “Oops. Sorry. But it’s too late. We already gave your kids to someone else.”
  • Jackson, Mississippi’s Frank “Worst Mayor in America” Melton gets a hung jury in his federal civil rights case. To refresh your memory, the idiot sent a bunch of young boys armed with sledgehammers to tear down a house Melton says was the site of drug dealing. No warrant. He had no authority to do so. Oh, and it wasn’t actually the site of any drug dealing. But nothing sticks to the guy, despite the fact that he’s a raving lunatic. He has already been acquitted on state charges related to the raid.
  • Dear Redditors: Stop plagiarizing my damned headlines!
  • California state assemblyman introduces bill to legalize, tax marijuana.
  • How prosecutor elections fail us. Thing is, I’m not sure appointing them would work either. The problem is that not only is there no real punishment for misconduct, but that because prosecutors are generally measured on winning convictions, misconduct is often actually rewarded.
  • This local news article isn’t particularly well-written, and I have no idea who’s actually at fault. But it seems to me that the last paragraph ought to be moved up in the story quite a bit.
  • I feel like I should give this story more play than a “morning links” bullet, but there’s so much to it, I’d just end up excerpting the whole thing. Just read, especially if you live in the Philadelphia area. It’s infuriating. All the usual themes: militaristic drug raids, allegations of planted evidence, abuse of the informant system, asset forfeiture—it goes on like that.
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  • 37 Responses to “Morning Links”

    1. #1 |  Fuck Tha Police | 

      We will be lucky if those pigs in the last link even go to jail. They only get five years for killing a 92 year old woman and then trying to cover up the crime. No one died this time, so they’ll probably just get a year of probation and be out on the job again in no time. Hopefully, next time they pull one of these illegal raids they are met at the door by Mr. .45.

    2. #2 |  Frank | 

      There is a reason why the UK is on my “triple pay for working in a hazardous location” list.

    3. #3 |  Marty | 

      the Philly PD paid the informant and the informant’s landlord was on the narcotics unit… did they recruit the snitch out of the DARE program at the local middle school?

      This is scary stuff- their belongings stolen, their house ransacked, sexual assault, falsified warrants, drugs planted… If Calvo has success in VA, I’m hoping he pushes on into a national forum. This is UGLY.

    4. #4 |  Reggie Hubbard | 

      This is the first I’ve ever heard of Frank Melton. From the Donna Ladd article It sounds like he has serious mental troubles.

      Seriously, he’s either on lots of drugs or needs to start taking a lot of drugs… one or the other.

    5. #5 |  thomasblair | 

      Re: Boat crash.

      I have no idea who’s actually at fault.

      Permit me: a guy driving a motorboat at 40 mph crashes into a sailboat, killing one passenger and injuring the other four.

      Isn’t it clear? The guy steering the sailboat is at fault for manslaughtering one of his passengers.

    6. #6 |  Bronwyn | 

      You know, I’m pretty sure that if I plowed my car into a parked car, I’d be at fault.

      Speed boat vs. sailboat… pretty much the same thing.

      And yeah, that last para should be more than an afterthought.

    7. #7 |  Bronwyn | 

      I’m also pretty sure that if someone tried to take my kids from me, there’d be an awful scene ending in serious injury.

      Unfortunately, the injury would probably be to me and my kids would still be gone.

      What a world.

    8. #8 |  chance | 

      On that show JAG didn’t the lawyers switch places every so often? This week you’re a prosecutor, next week you’re on defense? Do actual military JAGs do that? And if so, I wonder if that would be a better system, since if you half-assed one duty your Annual report would look pretty bad. Maybe not a practical idea, but I still wonder.

    9. #9 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

      I do know that when it comes to maritime law, it is never 100% one’s fault or the other. Usually blame is metted out in a smaller percentage, like 70-30.

      If the boat was under sail, the other motored boat is supposed to give way.

      From the pictures, the jib appears to still be furled (although, a major accident could sever the furling line, causing the jib to automatically roll up under spring tension). The main is all over the place. Anyone know more of the details?

    10. #10 |  thomasblair | 

      Oh, and I forgot to mention that the guy who plowed his motorboat into the sailboat is a cop. Gotta include the relevant facts…

    11. #11 |  Mike | 

      “Cujdik’s attorney, George Bochetto, has said the allegations are untrue and are based on the word of a “professional liar.””

      I love this quote regarding the Confidential Informant in the last link. Isn’t the gist of CI’s statement here that he is a professional liar?

    12. #12 |  Nick | 

      Just a minor niggle: the article says “rare case of scurvy,” not “rare form of scurvy.” The implication is that it was the usual scurvy that you get if you have piss-poor nutrition, not that he had some unavoidable disease.

      That said, a kid with scurvy should result in mandatory training in proper diet and nutrition for the parents, not stealing the children away from their family. Other news articles indicate that the kid was subsisting on an exclusive diet of soymilk, probably due to allergies or something similar. An occasional dose of vitamins to balance that diet would have saved them a world of grief.

    13. #13 |  Kit Smith | 

      Re: the Sailboat issue… by law and precedent, the sailboat has right-of-way at all times when it is under power by sail. There are some rules that govern sailboat to sailboat right of way, but if you’ve got a sailboat versus a motorboat the sailboat wins every time.

      If the speedboat was doing 40 MPH, that’s a gross miscarriage of justice that the sailboat driver is even being charged. The only accusation against the sailboat driver is that he wasn’t using his running lights (you must have a green/red light at the bow and a white light at the stern so that other night boaters can judge your course and orientation), but if it comes down to a question of using lights, the power boat was going too fast in the first place. An equivalent situation would be doing 60 in a 35 with only your parking lights on and then charging the bicyclists you ran down for manslaughter because they weren’t properly illuminated.

    14. #14 |  Episiarch | 

      Kit beat me to it, but sailboats always have right of way over a motorboat. The only reason they can even get away with this bullshit is that most people don’t know sailing rules.

    15. #15 |  Ganja Blue | 

      Radley, when I use your headlines on Reddit submission I have the courtesy of actually linking back to your story. These social media whores base their self worth on the number of diggs or reads they get everyday. It’s rather petty.

      People on Reddit and Digg have a huge problem with the power users stealing submissions and plagiarizing. A lot of people have actually abandoned Digg because it makes it not fun to aggregate or discover new content.

    16. #16 |  Dave Krueger | 

      I see the potential for a lot of legalization ahead. When government needs money, they re-evaluate their moral stand on issues. There are limits, of course. Well, actually there aren’t.

    17. #17 |  Mojotron | 

      If you watch the video clip in the powerboat/sailboat negligent homicide, you’ll see that:
      1) the DA lies about having witnesses who saw the sailboat with the lights on
      2)the witnesses who they say saw the sailboat with it’s lights off (except for the ones in the cop’s speedboat) don’t say what the cops claim they say- the girls on shore just say they didn’t see anything before the crash, and the guys in fishing boats say that they last saw them before dark. But the cops version makes it sound like they circled their boat with a spotlight before the crash (implying they had no lights) when it happened AFTER.
      3)…and the police HANDWROTE TWO OF THE WITNESS STATEMENTS AND HAD THE WITNESSES SIGN THEM. WTF.

      This is in addition to not breathalyzing the cop, but they breathalyzed the the guy in the sailboat going 5 MPH.

    18. #18 |  Dave Krueger | 

      Not to worry. I’m sure there will be an internal investigation into he Philly drug raid.

    19. #19 |  Lou W | 

      Oh my God, I can’t believe that UK story is true. I just spent 15 minutes reading other articles about it, and I’m still shaking.

    20. #20 |  Mojotron | 

      The more I read about the sailboat/powerboat case the worse it gets….

      here’s one expert reconstruction (in PDF), you can google search to get the HTML. http://dig.abclocal.go.com/kgo/PDF/dinius-report.pdf . Wes Dod – “Dodd is a highly regarded accident reconstructionist and former law enforcement officer who has investigated over 650 boating accidents.”

      The light globes were taken as evidence and submitted to the California Department of Justice for examination. A report was written on April 12, 2007 with the following findings;
      Masthead Light – Couldn’t determine if the bulb was on or off at the time of the incident.
      Stern Light – The bulb from the stern light was not on.
      Bow Light – It could not be determined whether they were on or off during the collision.

      A second examination of the light globes was conducted on December 4, 2007 by Dr. William Chilcott from Marine Testing Company. A report was written on January 21, 2008 with the following findings;
      Masthead Light – Neither bulb had significant cold flow.
      Stern Light – The stern light was illuminated at the time of collision indicated by portions of the filament being stretched.
      Bow Light – Was illuminated before impact indicated by stretching of the filament near the filament support arm.

      I examined the photographs of the O’Day’s light globes. I have had training on the detection of cold breaks and hot shock deformation and concur with Dr. Chilcott’s findings that the mast light and bow light was illuminated prior to the collision.
      Based on witness statements, cabin light was illuminated giving additional lighting. The power cord to the mast light was severed by the Baja which would cause the mast light to go dark.
      The Sacramento Sheriff’s Department report shows the switch/breaker panel was found with the switches for Running Lights – Off and Bow Lights – Off. The Cabin Light switch was on. This observation was recorded two days after the collision. This was not addressed in the Lake County Sheriff’s Department report. They were on scene following the collision and impounded both vessels.

      So two independent investigators found that the lights were on while the state guy did not, but it looks like you can add evidence tampering on top of manslaughter/negligent homicide anyway as they flipped the switches. This guy says that Perdock had to be going minimum of 40 MPH in order to jump the sailboat like that, and it was actually probably more like 55 MPH. He also finds:

      Mr. Perdock who was in violation of 6600.1 T-14 CCR Rules 5 (Lookout), 6 (Safe Speed), 7 (Risk of Collision), 8 (Action to Avoid Collision, 13 (Overtaking) and 18(a)(iv) Responsibilities Between Vessels, therefore is in violation of 655 (a) H&N (Reckless &
      Negligent) as these violations would constitute a reckless and negligent operation of his vessel….

      …Mr. Dinius was in violation of 655 (b) (c) (d) H & N as shown in 192.5 PC, however the question is, did that unlawful act of operating a sailboat at 5 miles per hour while under the influence of alcohol cause the death of Lynn Thornton? Mr. Dinius was at the tiller and if he was not intoxicated, he still would have not been able to maneuver the sailboat prior to the impact. Mr. Dinius was not the proximate cause of the death to Lynn Thornton. The proximate cause was by the unsafe speed of Mr. Perdock who said the sailboat had no lights illuminated. He said he did not see the sailboat until it was directly in front of him and he was unable to avoid collision. He was unable to see the sailboat as he was operating at an unsafe speed for the prevailing conditions of darkness and poor visibility.

      also:

      Dan Noyes, a television reporter who investigated the story for ABC News in San Francisco, identified nine people on the sailboat or on shore who said they had seen the sailboat’s running lights, cabin light or both shortly before the collision. But when he told the Lake County District Attorney there were witnesses who had seen the lights, Noyes was told, “No, there are not.” One of the potential witnesses, Doug Jones, told Noyes that when he tried to tell a deputy sheriff that he’d seen the sailboat’s lights, he was told they had already proven there were no lights on. This was at 8:00 a.m. on the morning after the accident. He told Noyes the deputy refused to take his statement.

      There’s plenty more too

    21. #21 |  Andrew | 

      On that show JAG didn’t the lawyers switch places every so often? This week you’re a prosecutor, next week you’re on defense? Do actual military JAGs do that? And if so, I wonder if that would be a better system, since if you half-assed one duty your Annual report would look pretty bad. Maybe not a practical idea, but I still wonder.

      I believe that is the way it happens. And it would probably be a good thing to have a pool of public prosecutors AND defenders who switch off depending on the case.

      Then again, who knows. My hope is that you’d have less overzealous prosecution and more evenhanded prosecution and proper defense. What I fear would really happen is that the “public” and the “government” would more or less pressure them into continuing the overzealousness as prosecutors and into half-assing the defense side of things.

    22. #22 |  PersonFromPorlock | 

      IIRC (it’s been a long time since my Air Force days) JAGs do switch between prosecution and defense and the more experienced JAG is always assigned to the defense.

    23. #23 |  Zero | 

      #8 #21
      On the alternative selection of Prosecutors thread. How about this: Have the local criminal defense attorney’s propose candidates for Prosecutor. The candidate would be approved by the local judges and subject to removal by popular vote. A rather complicated system but one that I think might help balance things out.

    24. #24 |  Carl Drega | 

      What, no hat-tip on the Philly story?

    25. #25 |  Mike T | 

      And yet, if the homeowner had shot a few of those thugs that the mayor sent to their house, the police and prosecutors would have been tripping over themselves looking for a way to prosecute the homeowner for several felonies that ultimately boil down to “you cannot use violence to defend your property.”

    26. #26 |  colson | 

      While the legalization issue may sound like a good idea, Da Terminatah vetoed commercial hemp farming reform a few years back. Then again, Cali has to find some way of paying for all of those damned social services.

    27. #27 |  T. Ossit | 

      Re: British authorities remove kids from parents

      So does it take a village to steal a child?

    28. #28 |  Steve | 

      I recall seeing another story about children being taken away for false allegations, and the parents being denied custody even after clearing up the mistake. So, this isn’t an isolated case. Sure, people can innocently make mistakes which have horrible consequences, but the arrogance of perpetuating the terrible mistake without remorse fills me with rage. It is less about the welfare of the children than about trying to cover the asses of government workers, even if that does great damage to innocents.

      I can’t help but imagine the fathers in these cases encountering the judges or bureaucrats in a dark corner of a parking garage and going all Joe Peschi with a tire iron on the cretins who callously stole their flesh and blood. Certainly, the victims of many of the outrages documented on this blog might be tempted to do violence to their tormentors, but the theft of children seems to be the most provocative outrage. Get between a mother Grizzly and her cub for a demonstration.

    29. #29 |  Bigmix | 

      Re: The baby-stealing Brits.

      Sweet Jesus, the British government have mastered obfuscation to an art. “You may well be in the right, but sorry old boy, taking the children AGAIN and giving them back just wouldn’t be cricket, pish tosh.” No wonder they have such stringent gun laws in the UK: if it were my kids, I’d go Gary freakin Busey!

    30. #30 |  Bigmix | 

      Re: prosecutor elections

      At my college, the system for electing student association presidents is always super clean (from the candidates, anyway) because each candidate is policed in his conduct by other candidates. That way, even if they step over the line on a tiny little infraction (like spending more than is allowed on printing flyers), other candidates turn them in and give them the boot.

      If there was a system to force prosecutors who are up for election to enforce ethics on each other and rat out those who have violated public trust in the past, the people may be forced to elect the one guy with his nose clean because everyone else is a lying sack.

    31. #31 |  Andrew | 

      More unsurprising stories, out of Miami

      A Miami police officer slammed her marked police car into a van in Brickell early Wednesday morning, and, according to witnesses, stumbled out of her car clad in jeans and strappy heels before officers arrived at the scene and gave her something to eat.

      She was given a field sobriety test three hours later, several witnesses told The Miami Herald.

      Several police closed off a portion of Southwest First Avenue after the 4:50 a.m. crash, which occurred near 10th Street. Police are now investigating what caused the crash. No one was injured.

      The damaged van’s owner, Jose Victor Lewis, said internal affairs detectives suggested the woman may have experienced diabetic shock during the time of the crash.

      Lewis, a regional manager at a finance firm, was in his office on the 23rd floor of the Brickell Bayview Center at the time of the crash. Lewis, who observes markets in the Middle East and North Africa long before dawn, was interrupted by the sound of a loud boom.

      ”It was like a bomb went off,” he said.

      When Lewis looked out his window overlooking the avenue, he saw a tilted police car driving down the street with sparks shooting out its left side, he said. The car slowly drifted left toward the curb and stopped a block away. He then looked out another window to see where the loud sound came from.

      He saw two security guards running up to his dark blue Dodge Caravan, which was parked near the curb in front of the building.

      After calling 911, Lewis went downstairs and found the van’s damaged rear right end. Underneath his car was a flat Goodyear Touring SLE tire with a brake pad inside the wheel.

      A block away: a three-wheeled police car with heavy damage to its front left side and a bright green plastic alligator on the dashboard.

      Lewis said he ran up to the police car and peered inside but saw no one there. As he walked away, another police officer arrived — just as the female officer who crashed into his car walked back to her police car, wearing blue jeans and a black shirt and stumbling as she stepped down the sidewalk, Lewis said.

      Miami police have not yet released the identity of the officer, who they say is a city patrol officer. Miami police spokesman Willie Moreno said several details of the crash were unclear, including whether the officer was on duty or not.

      ”It’s unknown what caused her to lose control of her car,” Moreno said.

      Lewis said the arriving police officer told the stumbling officer to identify herself when she approached the crashed police car. She then fumbled with her gray butterfly-print purse, letting a police radio fall out onto her car’s hood, according to Lewis.

      The other officer then instructed her to sit down on the sidewalk, Lewis recalled.

      Lewis said he voiced concerns about the woman’s sobriety to several officers who arrived later that morning.

      Three witnesses said the officer was not given a field sobriety test until about three hours after the crash, after she was given food by police officers.

      http://www.miamiherald.com/news/breaking-news/story/920870.html

      But I’m sure that they give DUI suspects food and wait 3 hours for a field sobriety test for everyone, not just fellow cops, right?

    32. #32 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

      RE: Frank Melton

      “To refresh your memory, the idiot sent a bunch of young boys armed with sledgehammers to tear down a house Melton says was the site of drug dealing.”

      Hmm. Where have I heard this before. A band of restless youth, not officially employed by the state, sent to push people around and cause havoc. A special thug class loyal to a charismatic leader. Oh yes, that’s how the brownshirts started out. Brilliant plan, Mayor Melton.

    33. #33 |  Bob | 

      So a cop slams his power boat at 40 mph into a sailboat going 5 mph, and then the rest of the force proceeds to trump up charges against the sailboat operator?

      Explain to me why I need cops again?

    34. #34 |  Bob | 

      On the cop driving drunk and crashing into a van so hard her front wheel is ripped off…

      Diabetic shock my ass.

      If that were the case, they would have called an ambulance PRONTO.

      I think it’s pretty fucking obvious she was out drinking all night then passed out at the wheel of her cruiser.

      And yet again, the rest of the pigs cover up for the drunk cop. These people deserve not a shred of respect.

    35. #35 |  GL | 

      Holy fuck, they molested this poor women, stole their Christmas money, his truck, and planted evidence on what sounds like a false warrant in the first place? I swear, reading your blog makes me want to live in a cabin in the woods surrounded by robot bears.

      I’m cautiously optimistic about California, everyone I know who lives there seems to be in favor of giving it a try.

      http://semiautonomouscollective.wordpress.com/2009/02/26/the-green-emperor-legalization-of-marijuana/

    36. #36 |  Jay | 

      And now it’s on Fark as well
      http://forums.fark.com/cgi/fark/comments.pl?IDLink=4234802

    37. #37 |  Andrew D | 

      I’m a sailor and have some experience in this matter. In terms of right of way, motorized craft MUST yield to non-motorized craft except when the motor craft is large enough that it is not possible to do so, i.e. ocean liner or cargo ship, or other large sea-going vessel navigating in a channel. Nothing in this article suggests that this was the case. Traveling at 40 mph (roughly 35 knots) within 100 or 200 yards of the shoreline is stupid and dangerous. Normally, the area within 100 yards of the water’s edge is designated as a no-wake zone, and there is a 5 knot speed limit. I am not sure if it’s an actual law or just a common courtesy expected of people.

      In any case, the powerboater was extremely negligent in this case and at the very least should be facing a vehicular manslaughter charge.

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