Friday Links

Friday, February 18th, 2011
  • Another isolated incident. And this time, a particularly inept one.
  • Long and stabby things.
  • I’ll be writing about this in my column on Monday, but here’s another study showing problems with the use of police dogs. My favorite bit is how the tests designed to fool the handlers were twice as likely to produce false alerts as the tests designed to fool the dogs.
  • Father gets a $275 ticket for not wearing a helmet at a skateboard park. It apparently doesn’t matter that he wasn’t skateboarding.
  • Man convicted of murder despite no body, no physical evidence of a crime, and no proof the alleged victim is actually dead.
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31 Responses to “Friday Links”

  1. #1 |  Aresen | 

    Another isolated incident. And this time, a particularly inept one.

    I would love to have sat in on the Professor’s next lecture.

  2. #2 |  JT | 

    Hey Radley, I’m really curious to hear your thoughts on what has been going on in Madison, WI the past few days. Dem leaders have left the state and are hiding out in IL in protest of the GOP’s anti-union bill. School’s have been canceled for 3 days now so that the teachers can all go and protest at the capital. Latest news is that the state troopers are on their way to some of the Dem leaders’ houses to drag them to Madison for the vote. It’s surreal.

  3. #3 |  CRNewsom | 

    Ok, quick question: Could the local PD assist the DEA on a (medical) marijuana raid in California? I suppose that, technically, the dispensaries are in violation of Federal law, so the DEA could raid them, but they aren’t in violation of state law. Would that be a violation of the oath of the local PD?

  4. #4 |  Bronwyn | 

    I haven’t been coming here since starting my maternity leave. I must say I’ve missed the daily punch in the gut.

  5. #5 |  Rhayader | 

    Some of the quotes in the SF Weekly story about the wrong-door pot raid are priceless:

    “I told them to call the judge and get their warrant updated,” [Freshman] says. “They just laughed at me — I guess that’s why they’re called pigs.”

    And

    “I’ve been on the fence for years about the legalization of drugs … and now I’m a victim of this crazy war on drugs,” says Freshman, who pledged to sue until “I see [the agents'] houses sold at auction and their kids’ college tuitions taken away from them. There will not be a better litigated case this century.”

    They also mentioned that Freshman is a consultant for the show “Lie To Me”. Not a bad show, as far as crime procedurals go.

  6. #6 |  Don | 

    Given the evidence described in that article, I’d have voted to convict the guy of murder. If she wasn’t murdered, she went on the lam with without a vehicle, without calling a friend to get a ride, without emptying the bank account on the way out of town, without her children. That’s not a believable story.

  7. #7 |  Collin | 

    I guess Freshman is another data point for Radley’s theory that Libertarianism is often thrust upon people.

  8. #8 |  SamK | 

    “There will not be a better litigated case this century”…I hope two things…that this is true for what has come before, and false for what follows.

  9. #9 |  MassHole | 

    It would be interesting to know how many times the dog is called to sniff a car on the roadside and doesn’t alert, thus not giving probably cause for a search. I’d bet they’re few and far between. I also wonder how often they search a car after an alert and find nothing. Cynicism makes me assume that dog handlers just make the dog do their thing so the cops can do what they want, but if data was available, it would be interesting for sure.

  10. #10 |  Marty | 

    re the dad at the skate park:

    ‘Officer Truscott promptly called him over as soon as he stepped into the park.

    “So, we walk over, and I’m thinking the cop is going to use my son as an example to these kids,” said Malfatto, who instead got a ticket, which later arrived in the mail as a $275 citation.’

    he was all happy to be used as the ‘good example’ by the govt and felt all smug about the others being ticketed and then he’s all hurt when he gets a ticket… what a tool.

  11. #11 |  EH | 

    The real question about Professor Freshman is whether he’ll be able to resist a settlement.

  12. #12 |  DarkEFang | 

    #JT

    “Hey Radley, I’m really curious to hear your thoughts on what has been going on in Madison, WI the past few days. “

    I’m not Radley, but from what I’ve read so far, it sounds like the governor is technically on the correct side, but has run roughshod over the Wisconsin constitution in pursuing his budget-cutting goals. There’s nothing better than being right, but being such an interminable dick that it makes anyone supporting you feel dirty.

    One thing I haven’t seen is an unbiased assessment of the Wisconsin budget. The Dems say that Gov. Walker caused the budget problems intentionally and the GOP say that the budget problem is real. I’m inclined to believe the GOP, just because of the state of the overall economy the last few years, but I don’t really know how Wisconsin has fared.

    “Another isolated incident. And this time, a particularly inept one.”

    Wow, the SFPD sure picked on the wrong guy that time. He’s not only a law professor, but he’s a consultant for a police procedural TV show, which means he probably really knows his shit.

    If nobody gets fired over this incident, then I’m guessing that nothing short of armed revolution could remove incompetent officers from the police force.

    “Man convicted of murder despite no body, no physical evidence of a crime, and no proof the alleged victim is actually dead.”

    Doesn’t somebody have to be dead for seven years before they can be declared dead? If she died in 2004, this trial must have broken speed records if it wasn’t filed until the wife was officially declared dead.

    I have to say that the circumstances in this particular certainly look suspicious, but I’d generally like to see some sort of evidence before sending people off to prison. I’ve seen some divorces that got so ugly it wouldn’t surprise me at all if a family would conspire to fake a death just to stick it to the ex.

  13. #13 |  Don | 

    DarkEFang, sure divorces get ugly (e.g. mine), but she was hours from getting the divorce and apparently half his property. Are the jury to think that she walked away from $sixfigures AND all her friends and family, for spite? That would make great television, but it’s pretty far beyond the “reasonable” in “reasonable doubt.”

  14. #14 |  Crime watch. « Whipped Cream Difficulties | 

    [...] way of Balko, we learn that Charles Stobaugh has been convicted in the murder of his wife, Kathy Stobaugh. Ms. [...]

  15. #15 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Norman Wielsch, commander of California’s Central Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team has been arrested for selling drugs.

    Gregory said it appears that Wielsch and Butler were the only ones involved in the alleged operation, and that this is the first time a DOJ narcotics agent has been arrested for selling drugs.

    Yeah, drug cops are usually impervious to temptation. LMAO!

    The arrests have also spurred sentiments from police around the county urging the public not to distrust law enforcement for the actions of the few.

    Yeah, it would be a shame if this single incident of police abuse of power in an otherwise spotless record affected the public’s perception of cops. Buahahahahahahaha!

  16. #16 |  Aresen | 

    Dave Krueger | February 18th, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Norman Wielsch, commander of California’s Central Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team has been arrested for selling drugs.

    I’m not sure if that comes under kismet or “just desserts”.

    I am willing to bet he got all his rights. And 100 – 1 he gets a soft plea bargain based on ‘professional courtesy’.

    He’ll probably get a fair-sized pension as well.

  17. #17 |  J sub d | 

    Aware of the “Clever Hans” effect, Lisa Lit at the University of California, Davis, and her colleagues, wondered whether the beliefs of professional dog handlers might similarly affect the outcomes of searches for drugs and explosives. Remarkably, Dr Lit found, they do.

    Funny, I don’t find it remarkable at all.

  18. #18 |  Scott | 

    Dave Krueger | February 18th, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Norman Wielsch, commander of California’s Central Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team has been arrested for selling drugs.

    From the article:

    “Every once in a while (officers) make mistakes, some of them big and some of them small. But when they do they have to pay for it just like everyone else. People should have the utmost confidence in their police officers and department,” said Walnut Creek police Chief Joel Bryden.

    This guy must not read The Agitator very much.

  19. #19 |  Aresen | 

    @ Scott:

    Since Radley has been demonized on every cop website, I wouldn’t offer long odds that Chief Bryden is unaware of The Agitator.

    But the Chief has to keep to the party line. I bet he would say the same thing if 90% of the officers in his own PD and in the 10 neighboring counties were arrested for trading drugs for child sex.

  20. #20 |  Whim | 

    Regarding the Wrong Door Raid on the law professor’s residence.

    I just love his closing quote:

    “….and now I’m a victim of this crazy war on drugs,” says Professor Freshman, who pledged to sue until “I see [the agents'] houses sold at auction and their kids’ college tuitions taken away from them. There will not be a better litigated case this century.”

    The police finally picked on the wrong patsy.

    SFPD and SF Area Taxpayers: Be AFRAID; Be VERY Afraid…..Justice is Coming!

  21. #21 |  supercat | 

    #12 | Darkfang: Certainly the state should do all in its power to determine whether the person might have decided to “disappear”, and document for the jury everything it tried unsuccessfully to do. If the defense can offer a scenario for which the prosecution has no answer, not only will the present case fail, but it will be impossible to prosecute the defendant for the murder even if evidence appears later that would prove he did it.

  22. #22 |  Juice | 

    My God. How in the hell could a jury CONVICT someone of murder with no fucking evidence whatsoever?

    Goddamn, juries are motherfucking stupid. Fuck.

  23. #23 |  Juice | 

    Holy Crap. That murder story sounds eerily familiar to a Steven King story called “1922″ in his latest collection of novellas called “Full Dark, No Stars.”

    The family lived out on a remote farm. The husband doesn’t want to give up 100 acres to a hog butchery but his wife does, so he kills her and buries her on the property, but reports her as missing. No more spoilers, but the story and the article are pretty close.

  24. #24 |  DonH | 

    I don’t know the details of the Stobaugh case, but years ago a co-worker of mine was murdered and her body never found, with her husband being convicted of the murder a decade later (see http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=20000609&slug=4025757). In Jami’s case I’m convinced both that it was a murder and that they convicted the right person. It does happen.

  25. #25 |  DonH | 

    Sorry, formatting sucked a paren into the URL. http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=20000609&slug=4025757

  26. #26 |  Resistance | 

    “But Peter Keane, dean emeritus of Golden Gate University’s School of Law, says there appears to be a problem. “There’s been cases like this in the past where police have a warrant to search [a single residence], then they get there and it’s a multi-unit building and they search the whole building. In those cases, people have sued and collected substantial settlements. I think whomever is representing the government better get out his checkbook.”

    Taxpayer = no win situation

  27. #27 |  JOR | 

    Taxpayers fund the state. They deserve to be punished for that crime.

  28. #28 |  bbartlog | 

    The thing with the Stobaugh case is the sheer implausibility or absence of alternative theories of what happened to his wife. I’m not sure I would have voted to convict (all we have is a short summary of the case), but arguing simply via exclusion of any other possibility isn’t inherently unreasonable.

  29. #29 |  Brad Warbiany | 

    “Freshman, who pledged to sue until “I see [the agents'] houses sold at auction and their kids’ college tuitions taken away from them.”

    You’d think a law prof would know about sovereign immunity. He might be able to get a judgement against the department, but he’ll have a hell of a time going after the actual agents involved.

  30. #30 |  Atticus | 

    On the guy in Texas convicted of murder, read the article. There was apparently a good circumstantial case: motive, opportunity, accused last person known to have been alone with a person who has disappeared – and importantly, apparently no other plausible alternative explanation. If you’re defending a case like that, and they have motive, opportunity, etc., a jury would properly convict on that evidence UNLESS you offer them a plausible alternative explanation for the person’s disappearance. If you do, they could not properly convict. Respectfully, this was a poor example to use of juries convicting on sloppy, insufficient or non-existent evidence. There are plenty of those, but this wasn’t one of them, if the linked article is accurate.

  31. #31 |  Zach | 

    I wonder if the cop in the skate park was wearing a helmet.

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