Sunday Links

Sunday, July 17th, 2011
  • Three members of Kansas City SWAT team indicted on federal conspiracy charges.
  • Jogger arrested for warning motorists of a speed trap.
  • Video of police in California detaining a man who is not violating the state’s open carry law.
  • Alabama allows judges to override jury sentences in death penalty cases. Study shows that 92 percent of overrides are when judges impose a death sentence over the wishes of a jury.
  • Yes, it’s true. If the government monitors you for every minute of every day, there’s a good chance that if you’re ever falsely accused of a crime, footage from government cameras could get you off the hook. This is not a persuasive argument in favor of government monitoring you every minute of every day.
  • Adam Mueller and Pete Eyre go on trial tomorrow in Greenfield, Massachusetts. They’re charged with felony wiretapping for openly recording at a police station.
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55 Responses to “Sunday Links”

  1. #1 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    “KCK’s SWAT Team is called the SCORE unit.”

    LOL. Yeah they were scoring all right. Sometimes the acronyms in law enforcement look a little awkward when things go sideways. That’s good work boys.

    Nice to hear the police chief is “sick” over this. Will he be sick enough to examine the root of the problem (Hint: It involves police involvement in drug/vice enforcement).

  2. #2 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    RE: El Paso jogger story:

    From “Mouder” in the newspaper story–

    “If the goal of police is to slow traffic for safety reasons, and the jogger slowed traffic, then he was assisting police. The reason the officer got upset is that the goal of the police is to issue traffic tickets and collect fines. They could care less about safety. Drivers exceed arbitrarily-low posted speed limits all the time with zero impact on “safety.”

    The man was exercising a First Amendment free speech right. He has the right to protest on public streets. This is police tyranny.”

    Flawless reasoning! An excellent summation of the key points of this case. I couldn’t have said it any better myself, which is why I just pasted this comment. Man, this guy sounds like an Agitator reader.

  3. #3 |  Mister DNA | 

    re The SF Examiner article: A bureaucracy will have an uncanny ability to “lose” footage that proves innocence or proves malfeasance on the part of government officials.

    re Pete Eyre & Adam Mueller: Sorry for blogwhoring, but if you a Roku (one of those boxes that hooks up to your TV so you can watch Netflix, etc) check out the link in my name above. If you own a Roku, you can watch Cop Block, Liberty On Tour and RT’s Adam vs The Man on your television.

    There’s a whole section of Greenfield-related videos, with more on the way.

    Again, apologies for blogwhoring…

  4. #4 |  Mister DNA | 

    #2 Helmut O’ Hooligan:

    Our local paper routinely publishes the locations of speed traps, and people routinely write in to the paper or bitch in the comments section about the paper “tipping off” speeders.

    The paper – in so many words – reminds readers that they’re not trying to assist the local police in their revenue-generating operations, they’re trying to encourage safe driving.

    What this jogger did was no different.

  5. #5 |  BSK | 

    The problem for the jogger is that the ticket he received (jay walking) is essentially impossible to argue. For whatever reason, our legal system has thrown our constitutional rights when it comes to tickets for traffic violation. No right to trial by jury, no presumption of evidence, the burden of proof shifts to the accused, etc, etc, etc. If a cop arrested me for murder with his only evidence being, “I saw him murder someone,” yet lacked evidence that I committed the crime or that the crime even happened, he’d never get a conviction. But replace “murder” with “speeding” or “jay walking” or “talking on cell phone” and suddenly it is a slam dunk case. I’m generally curious how this has come to be. How do they simply ignore constitutional rights and protections so blatantly with nary a challenge?

  6. #6 |  Highway | 

    BSK, their justification is 1) that it’s a ‘minor’ matter and 2) that the courts, the avenue for challenge of the violations, are just soooo clogged up that they can’t let minor things take up the important time of the court.

    Never mind that the court’s oh-so-important time is taken up by the War on Drugs.

    But even on top of that, many places are now arguing that it wastes the state’s money to let people challenge tickets, so they charge non-refundable ‘appeal’ fees, usually punitive amounts, to essentially tell people “Pay your 200 dollar fine and shut up, or pay us 300 dollars and waste your time to ‘appeal’ this.” At that point, either the officer doesn’t bother showing up (because he’s already worked enough overtime that pay period), so you ‘win’ uncontested, or the judge just doesn’t believe you over the word of the officer, so you pay a ‘reduced’ fine, because of course the state has already gotten their ‘appeal fee’.

  7. #7 |  BSK | 

    Highway-

    Has anyone ever challenged this? Would “We’re too busy” or “It’s not that big a deal” really stand up? How dare they tell me that a few hundred dollars of my hard earned money isn’t that big a deal. If it’s not such a big deal, then they can do without it. I’m sure it wouldn’t go anywhere, but I would love to see some brilliant lawyer challenge this as far as he could go, exposing this major gaping asshole flaw in the system for all to see. Especially since it starts with issues like as this and quickly proceeds to much bigger issues that suddenly become “not such a big deal”.

  8. #8 |  PersonFromPorlock | 

    The KCK SWAT team story leaves me a little confused as to how the FBI got involved. Did the KCK police bring them in, the US Attorney, what? From what I’ve read, it’d be pretty unusual if a private citizen’s complaint to the Feds started anything.

  9. #9 |  Highway | 

    Well, who has standing to challenge it? It’s one of those situations where the nature of our appeals processes doesn’t cover it. You lose standing to challenge the findings when you’re acquitted, and the government would much rather lose your fine than take any chance that it would be overturned. But even then, it’s not like the courts tend to take normal folks sides on stuff like that. Everyone has to pay the same fines. It can be argued that it’s ‘reasonable’. And when a person goes into court, everyone else is, for all intents and purposes, on the same side: Prosecutor, judge, clerks, cops, legislators, executives…

    But you’ve seen the reasoning coming out of even the US Supreme Court. They can pretty much find a government interest in everything.

  10. #10 |  Achtung Coma Baby | 

    Yeah, I live in Alabama. Last year a man was put to death by lethal injection for the brutal murder of a woman in her home 23 years ago. When he was found guilty 20 years ago, the jury felt that his mental capacity was sufficient enough for him to deserve the death sentence, so they gave him life in prison. On demand from the prosecution in the case, the judge overrided the jury’s decision and gave him death.

  11. #11 |  Achtung Coma Baby | 

    #10

    wasn’t sufficient enough

  12. #12 |  croaker | 

    @7 The Nine Whores in Black have already said you’re not entitled to a jury trial if the sentence is six months or less on that basis already. I could see a similar ruling on “summary” offenses like this.

    Somehow I don’t see the writers of the Constitution agreeing with that, but they’re dead.

  13. #13 |  pegr | 

    The video of the Cali cops jacking up the open carrier: While I agree with the gentleman’s case and perspective, he could certainly make a better case by “remaining silent”. Ah, the exuberance of youth!

  14. #14 |  c andrew | 

    http://www.kctv5.com/story/15087297/woman-resembles-casey-anthony-got-attacked

    Police chased Nalley and arrested her for assault and battery with a deadly weapon. Nalley told police she was “trying to save the children.”

    Now I’m just waiting for Nancy Grace look-alikes to be attacked by goats for looking like trolls.

  15. #15 |  c andrew | 

    BSK,
    I don’t have a case description, but my father told me that someone took a parking ticket into federal appeals. This was in the 1960′s. It was done on the basis of the $20.00 limit in the constitution as the basis for jury trial and the ticket apparently exceeded that amount. The appeals courts ruled against the citizen and apparently the Supreme Court declined to hear the case. The appeals courts did use the idea that it wasn’t important enough in their rulings from what I was told.

    Once again I was just given this information word of mouth and I don’t have any more data than that. And this was about 40 years ago.

  16. #16 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    RE: link from #14 C andrew…

    “Police chased Nalley and arrested her for assault and battery with a deadly weapon. Nalley told police she was “trying to save the children”

    Oh for fuck sake! The American obsession with fame/media hyped court cases is sad.

    Ms. Nalley, get a fucking life!

  17. #17 |  DoubleU | 

    #3 Mr. DNA, thank for letting me know about that Ruko box channel. I rarely have time to watch anymore so I don’t pay attention to new channels. With Netflix raising their rates, I am thinking of canceling. (I can’t tell you the last time I watched a movie streaming or mail delivery)

  18. #18 |  c andrew | 

    croaker,

    Wouldn’t it be nice to have a lottery that targets members of the bench to serve 6 months in jail on a random basis that reflects the percentage of incarceration in the public at large? So every 6 months 5% of all sitting judges get to sit in jail without pay to demonstrate just how “unimportant” it is.

  19. #19 |  Pablo | 

    #12 croaker–exactly. The SCOTUS has a history of pulling stuff out of their asses to justify whatever prosecutors want to do even if it is an affront to the Constitution. Asset forfeiture, DUI checkpoints, “implied consent” for breathalyzer tests, “administrative” license suspensions based on DUI arrests (without a conviction), etc. So it’s no surprise that they decided that the part of the Sixth Amendment that guarantees a jury trial in “all criminal cases” doesnt really mean all criminal cases. After all, spending half a year in jail really isnt a serious matter, right?

  20. #20 |  Mister DNA | 

    @Double U,

    I love my Roku. I can watch Netflix on my XBox360, but I got a Roku primarily for Livestation, which allows you to watch a bunch of News sources (BBC, A Jazeera English, RT, NHK International) streaming to your television. Plus, they have Liberty News Radio, which features William Norman GriggsPro Libertate podcast.

    Also, Roku has Crackle, which has free, uncensored movies – they play an ad every 20 minutes or so, but they have a pretty decent selection.

    I have the full permission of all the sites participating in Libertydrome, and I’m trying to get The Alonya Show and ReasonTV on board, but they’re really bad about answering emails (Radley, can you help a brother out here?).

  21. #21 |  Marty | 

    Pete and Adam are badasses. They won’t back down from authority, yet they can disagree without being disagreeable. We had the pleasure of meeting these guys when they came through St. Louis. I wouldn’t hesitate to open my home and family to them.

  22. #22 |  Mister DNA | 

    The shocking thing about the Kansas City SWAT story: The SWAT team members are on unpaid leave.

  23. #23 |  Mike | 

    That IS unusual, MisterDNA. The usual song and dance script: Paid leave, internal investigation, all procedures were followed, officers cleared and given back pay (which means double pay as they were on paid leave).

    Maybe unpaid leave because the Feds got involved?

  24. #24 |  Franklin Harris | 

    “Alabama allows judges to override jury sentences in death penalty cases. Study shows that 92 percent of overrides are when judges impose a death sentence over the wishes of a jury.”

    That confirms my long-held suspicion. And it will get worse with the crop of judges elected during the 2010 Obama backlash and the coming 2012 Obama backlash. Alabama can out-Texas Texas on the death penalty, and the Legislature just passed a law to out-Arizona Arizona on immigration. The only thing as bad as 150-odd years of unchecked Democratic rule in this state is one year of unchecked Republican rule.

  25. #25 |  Brooks | 

    I love the Kansas City story. This is what an increasing percentage of our federal law enforcement dollars should be spent on.

  26. #26 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    If the State has the power and the authority to record your every moment, then the State will decide whether you should have access to those recordings solely based on the State’s idea of expedience. Your innocence or guilt will be entirely beside the point.

  27. #27 |  JS | 

    Wow, the FBI arrested a SWAT team? Damn!!! I was reminded of that great line by Inspector Frank Drebond, when he was suspended from the police force, “I cant believe this is happening. Just think, the next time I shoot someone I could actually be arrested.”

  28. #28 |  JS | 

    Some of you who go on those police internet forums should post this story about the FBI sting on the SWAT team there. It would be very healthy if the police found out that they could be busted too. Right now I’m sure they have no idea that they can.

  29. #29 |  Anthony | 

    Hooligan,
    I’m seeing more and more police and government skepticism in the comments of the links here. More please.

  30. #30 |  Highway | 

    I just can’t fathom how stupid and moronic someone like Ms. Nalley must be to completely lose any sense of, well, anything and start crashing other people’s cars. This is someone who is a threat to society. Who is she going to see next? OJ? Hitler? Ted Bundy? She needs serious help, and is honestly a sociopath.

    Although her stupid mindset fits right in with the government, as far as “We need to destroy a thing to save that thing.” Did she think flipping a car was a great idea?

  31. #31 |  JS | 

    Highway “I just can’t fathom how stupid and moronic someone like Ms. Nalley must be to completely lose any sense of, well, anything and start crashing other people’s cars. ”

    Too much Nancy Grace.

  32. #32 |  BamBam | 

    Phoenix Police Arrest Woman for ‘Squeezing and Twisting’ TSA Officer’s Breast

    double standard …

    http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/phoenix-police-arrest-woman-squeezing-twisting-tsa-officers/story?id=14091811

  33. #33 |  Chris Mallory | 

    BSK, Highway,

    It depends on state law. This is one thing that Kentucky actually does right. It is written into state law that “Defendants shall have the right to a jury trial in all criminal prosecutions, including prosecutions for violations of traffic laws… ” KRS 29A.270. This even includes seat belt violations. But with seat belts, they do waive court costs if you plead guilty.

  34. #34 |  Highway | 

    Chris Mallory, that’s exactly the point tho. They’re not doing you some favor to ‘waive’ the court costs if you plead guilty. They’re setting court costs punitively to make sure you plead guilty. So you get a 198 dollar ticket for speeding, but if you try to fight it, you pay 210 dollars in court costs. Even if you win. The money goes to the same place. The benefit to you is ‘maybe’ you don’t have points, or maybe you don’t have increased insurance rates, but if they can say that a fine is punishment, then how can it be argued that you’re not punished either way.

    It doesn’t matter if you were completely innocent of whatever citation or supposed crime. You’re punished either way. And it gets even more odious: If you agree to pay for a state sponsored driving school, they’ll reduce your ticket if you’re ‘guilty’. What great guys! Funneling more money to government cronies.

  35. #35 |  Bernard | 

    Let’s ignore for a moment the argument well-made above that the state won’t make available evidence just for trivial matters like proving that individuals are innocent of a crime the state accuses them of committing.

    Even if all bad faith is assumed away in light of the new police professionalism we hear so much about the idea of a surveillance state is severely limited in practical terms by the will of anyone to actually surveil.

    In raw terms the more video footage there is the less likely anyone is to watch it and actually notice wrongdoing. The chances of footage proving anyone innocent are even smaller, because you would need to be able to demonstrate that they were somewhere else for a sufficient window that an overzealous prosecutor couldn’t even create doubt about their innocence. Even if a person could remember their exact whereabouts in a public location that would still likely involve the police going through many hours of footage to try to destroy a case which their friends in the prosecutors office had put together.

    The ‘it doesn’t work very well’ argument is a much more powerful reason not to spend billions putting together a surveillance state, because ‘tough on crime’ and ‘if you’ve got nothing to hide you’ve got nothing to fear’ are, like many fundamentally stupid ideas, surprisingly difficult to change peoples’ mind on.

  36. #36 |  Chris Mallory | 

    Highway,
    Re read what I wrote. They only waive court cost for the $25 seat belt violation. With other violations and trials, you only pay court costs if you lose. If you win, you walk out without paying anything.

    The argument you were making above is that a person does not have the right to a jury trial for violations. In Kentucky, you do.

  37. #37 |  DocHoliday916 | 

    Kansas City SWAT, three members busted. Innocent until proven guilty obviously. I doubt seriously whether the rest of the tax subsidized work force wearing badges and guns and will sit up and take notice. Then again, it only takes one domino to fall the rest of the stack. Let the trial begin!

  38. #38 |  jmcross | 

    Didja notice what the squat team was looking for? A goddam xbox. They raided a home and did an alleged $6000 damage to it ($4000 pocketed not included) over a stolen video game. Btw, does an xbox even fit inside a coffee can? Just curious.

  39. #39 |  BSK | 

    “Btw, does an xbox even fit inside a coffee can? Just curious.”

    No, not it doesn’t. Not even the new, slimline versions. Unless it is an industrial sized coffee can. Was it Juan Valdez’s house?

  40. #40 |  Ted S. | 

    @ #39:

    The real Juan Valdez probably grew coca. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  41. #41 |  DarkEFang | 

    How much is an Xbox? $50? Since when do police even investigate burglaries? In most places, if you can’t tell them the name and address of who stole your stuff, they just take a report and send an inventory to the local pawn shops.

  42. #42 |  Windy | 

    DarkEFang, an Xbox costs from $200 to $500 depending on the system, you might be able to find one for less during a “special offer” or second hand.

    As for police investigating burglaries, sometimes they don’t even bother trying to get any fingerprints, in case the burglar was convicted before, and sometimes they tell the victim to take the information to the local pawn shops instead of the cops sending a list around to all of them.

    That is what they did when my son’s home was burglarized, the two Deputy Sheriffs who showed up did very little investigation, didn’t even have a fingerprint kit in their toolbox, and told my son to call the pawnshops, himself. The only items he got returned to him were two registered guns, one showed up at a pawnshop in the next county a few months later, and the other was confiscated during a crime investigation in CA (1000 miles away) three years later, the CA cops kept it for another year as evidence, after informing my son it was free and he could claim it and have it shipped back to him, some “error” was made and it was “melted down” instead. My son was furious, but there was nothing he could do about it.

  43. #43 |  Windy | 

    I guess I phrased that badly because he didn’t actually get the second gun back, but at least he know what happened to it.

  44. #44 |  croaker | 

    @41 If cops are this useless, why are we taxpayers shelling out for them?

  45. #45 |  Mike | 

    Because if we don’t, we go to jail for tax evasion.

  46. #46 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    #42 Windy:

    In this case, it sounds like the responding deputies were pretty much report takers and that’s it. To be fair, in some instances there is not much they can do, particularly from a forensics stand point. The amount of forensic evidence left behind often depends on the kind of activity the suspect is engaged in at the scene or how long they were there. In the case of a home burglary, however, I am really suprised they did not at least check for latent prints, at least near the point of entry/exit. Please tell me they at least took some photographs for documentation!

    The fact that they told your son to contact the pawn shops himself is pretty disappointing. Generally a police detective will check pawn sheets to try to find possible stolen items during a follow-up investigation. I checked pawn sheets myself once as a police intern and it was not too complicated.

    If reponding officers/deputies are just going to be report takers, perhaps people/families/businesses need to utilize private detectives much as they do lawyers. Do research, find a reputable PI and contact him/her as necessary. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and I think that the detective function of law enforcement should be completely distinct from the patrol function. Actually, it could be largely privatized. Let me explain.

    I believe that people could be licensed as detectives pretty much like attorneys are licensed. Patrol officers could respond to render aid, secure the scene and make arrests if applicable. People could then call their detective of choice for a follow-up investigation. In criminal matters, these detectives would have temporary police authority (they would need to be “peace officer qualified” by states, and certified by courts to engage in certain investigations, such as homicide) for specific cases, not general police authority. Mostly they would be seeking information, until the point where they witness a crime in progress or apply for a warrant to make an arrest. In instances where people don’t have a detective preference, or cannot afford a detective, once could be provided, just as public defenders are.

    This is just an idea, so I would appreciate feedback. The advantages to this system would be to give victims more of a choice, and to limit the state monopoly on force that is a significant concern for radical libertarians.

  47. #47 |  PogueMahone | 

    I live in Texas. Last year I was “caught” speeding on a highway feeder road. It was an obvious trap as the police were waiting just out of sight while cars were going highway speeds exiting onto the feeder road. Anyhoo…

    Here in TX one is allowed to fight the charge via trial by jury and I had every intention on fighting it, however – in a mass arraignment, the judge was very clear on what we would have to go through.

    Paraphrasing, he said “You show up here on your trial date, wait around all day and MAYBE your case will be called, or more likely it will be postponed and you’ll have to do it again. And if your case is called, we’ll call the police officer and if he can’t make it, we’ll postpone and you’ll have to do it all over again.”

    So he basically said that if you want to fight your ticket, then go ahead but be prepared to waste several days of your life and you might get lucky. Or, pay your fine today and go on with your life.

    I’m not a habitual speeder, so the only time they’ll “catch” me is in situations like the one I described.
    I’m also a working man who would never have the luxury of wasting several days in vain.
    So the following day after the arraignment, I bought a $400 radar detector. Again, I don’t typically speed – but I want to know where those f*ckers are if at all possible.

    Cheers.

  48. #48 |  JS | 

    croaker “@41 If cops are this useless, why are we taxpayers shelling out for them?”

    Because most Americans are cowards who think that the police are protecting them.

  49. #49 |  Picador | 

    Regarding the KC SWAT story:

    I recently had the dubious pleasure of spending some time with a member of the KC law enforcement community. Very nice guy, family man. Serves in the Army Reserves (as do many member of the KC law enforcement community, it seems, lending a paramilitary attitude to even the non-SWAT sections). He told some “hilarious” stories about the common practice, whenever a cell phone is confiscated for any reason, of browsing through the photos and videos and sending anything amusing or risque to yourself and your buddies. He also told stories about the revenge killings his buddies had performed in the line of duty. I’m not exaggerating.

    I came away with the impression that the KCPD needs to be dismantled, indicted, and rebuilt from scratch with all new personnel. The corruption appears to be pervasive.

  50. #50 |  Cyto | 

    #47 | PogueMahone |

    Your description pretty much exactly matches my experience. One thing that I’ve learned about this system is that paying an attorney to represent you magically removes these obstacles. These courts normally take all of the attorney-represented cases first. The DA will also normally offer plea deals to the attorneys they are used to dealing with that are not available to others – like “faulty equipment” instead of “speeding”. Just pay the fine.

    Just one more example that government will be perverted to protect and feed industries that are associated with the government.

  51. #51 |  Juice | 

    BSK,

    It’s easy.

    If conviction makes them money, then the burden is on the defendant.

    If the conviction costs them money, then the burden in on the prosecution.

  52. #52 |  DarkEFang | 

    #42 Windy –

    “DarkEFang, an Xbox costs from $200 to $500 depending on the system, you might be able to find one for less during a “special offer” or second hand.”

    That’s what an Xbox 360 costs. The story says Xbox.

  53. #53 |  DarkEFang | 

    #44 Croaker –

    “@41 If cops are this useless, why are we taxpayers shelling out for them?”

    What with all the major crimes, like people possessing half an ounce of marijuana and paying for sex, there aren’t resources for anything else.

  54. #54 |  TGGP | 

    The SF cameras are in public places. You could also have witnesses in public places. As both the article and Balko himself have noted, camera footage is a lot more reliable than eye-witness testimony. The reform that’s needed is for camera footage to be freely accessible online without having to make any request. Maybe they could bill you for it to avoid taking up too much resources, but that would be an ideal situation.

  55. #55 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    TGGP – Read _The Transparent Society_ by David Brin.

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