Category: General Criminal Justice

Saturday Links

Saturday, November 17th, 2012
  • Whether you support abortion rights, oppose abortion rights, or are somewhere in between, there’s one position on which we can all join together in agreement: Tennessee Rep. Scott DesJarlais is an asshole.
  • Virginia man exonerated of rape after accuser admits to a detective that she lied. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is still blocking the man’s release, claiming the judge didn’t have jurisdiction to exonerate him. Remember, following procedure to the letter is only important when you’re trying to exonerate someone. When you’re trying to convict them, straying from the rules is just “harmless error.”
  • Good article looking at how and why conservatives joined the prison reform movement.
  • Spokane police officer who beat a mentally disabled man to death after falsely accusing him of stealing from an ATM . . . gets a four year prison sentence. Otto Zehm’s last words: “All I wanted was a Snickers bar.”
  • TSA detains, jails a man for wearing a “weird watch” and having “unusually large boots.”
  • Headline of the day.
  • Runner-up.
  • Step 1: Take advantage of nepotism to get elected to Congress. Step 2: Be corrupt. Step 3: Go into a deep depression when you’re caught for being corrupt. Step 4: Offer to resign, but only on the condition that you get disability pay because of the depression you’ve suffered after you got caught being corrupt.

Morning Links

Thursday, November 15th, 2012
  • I'm overcompensating.Your drug war at work: St. Paul, Minnesota cops stomp a man’s head, then fire a flash grenade at his disabled mother curing a cocaine raid. She suffered third-degree burns. They found three grams of pot and a legal handgun. Taxpayers, not the cops, will pay the two a $400,000 settlement.
  • Man attempts to become the walking embodiment of New York Times trend stories.
  • LDS elders get swept up in a SWAT raid while at the home of two drug suspects they were counseling.
  • Last night, Reason’s Nick Gillespie debate former DEA administrator Asa Hutchinson on drug legalization. You can watch here.
  • The federal courts continue to shield even egregious prosecutorial misconduct from any real accountability. Smart lawyerly people: I haven’t read the 11th Circuit opinion yet, but given that absolute immunity is judge-made law, wouldn’t the Hyde Amendment, which is statutory law, take priority in this case?
  • Headline of the day.
  • Striking photos from the Munich subway system.
  • Naomi Klein: People who oppose corporate welfare are just shilling for corporations. Or something like that.
  • The photo is from a series of raids on backyard marijuana gardens in Santa Rosa, California. Best line from the article: “O’Leary, the sheriff’s lieutenant, said the show of force by authorities and their tactics were deliberate, selected in part because there is a heavy gang presence and lots of children in the neighborhood.” Ah, so there are children nearby. Well then let’s make the raids as volatile as possible!

Is America Getting Less Punitive?

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Over at Huffington Post, I look at that question in light of recent election results.

The article is almost optimistic. Longtime readers may find that confusing. But I promise, I really did write it.

Morning Links

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012
  • More evidence that the public is nearing a tipping point in the war on drugs.
  • This will surprise all of you. The Omaha police union is defending the officer who tackled a man out walking his dog, then shot the dog.
  • Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the fact that City Hall reporters illegally recorded journalists without their permission is “much ado about nothing.”
  • America! F*ck yeah!
  • This New York Times review of Guy Fieri’s restaurant is burning up the Internet at the moment. On the one hand, it kind of makes me want to try the place. On the other hand, I’m not putting anything called “Donkey Sauce” into my mouth.
  • Headline of the day.
  • “He’ll push to loosen marijuana penalties, legalize undocumented immigrants and pursue a less aggressive American foreign policy.” Guess who?
  • Man uses garden hose to spray fire at neighbor’s house. Police tell him to stop. He does. But when firefighters don’t arrive minutes later, he gets frustrated and starts spraying the fire again. So they Tase him.
  • Finally, via Gawker:

It Isn’t a Crime When the Government Does It

Monday, November 12th, 2012

So remember when Chicago police were arresting people for recording them, and charging them with crimes punishable by 10 or more years in prison? Remember the woman who was arrested and charged because she attempted to record Chicago PD internal affairs police browbeating her when she tried to report a sexual assault by a Chicago cop? Remember all that stuff we heard from Chicago PD and Cook County DA Anita Alvarez’s office about protecting privacy?

So this happened . . .

[A] court filing in a wrongful death lawsuit against the city raised questions about whether a city spokeswoman had recorded Tribune reporters without their consent as they conducted a phone interview with Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy in October 2011.

And in separate incidents this past September, city spokespeople twice recorded a Tribune reporter as he conducted phone interviews with a top city official involved in Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s controversial speed camera program. The spokespeople acknowledged that they independently recorded the interviews without asking the reporter for consent.

Gerould Kern, senior vice president and editor of the Tribune, declined to comment Friday about the recordings. Instead, he cited the letter sent by Tribune Co. attorney Karen Flax to Patton, demanding that city officials cease recording Tribune reporters without consent. The letter also asked that the city preserve copies of all recorded conversations and turn them over to the Tribune.

In its response Saturday, the city said it was unclear whether there would be any tapes to turn over. While City Hall acknowledged the two improper September recordings, it insisted they were mistakes.

“What we have told city employees is that our position is that you follow the law,” City Law Department spokesman Roderick Drew said Friday. “And when this issue was brought to the city’s attention, we reminded employees to continue following the law.”

If you work for the government and you violate a the law in order to record journalists who cover the government, you get a gentle “reminder.” If you’re someone like Michael Allison, Tiawanda Moore, or Christopher Drew and you violate a bad law in order to expose government abuse, you get arrested, cuffed, jailed, and charged with felonies.

Seems about right.

Morning Links

Friday, November 9th, 2012

I’ve been neglecting you. But just think, in the spring you’ll have your own portable collection of groin-punching, blood-pressure raising stories to pull down off your bookshelf—any time you like!

I do have some thoughts about the election. I just don’t have time to put them into a more substantive post at the moment. And they’re more about the various ballot measures than the election itself. Summary: I think that for the most part, there’s lots of reason for optimism in Tuesday night’s results. Even on the GOP side, the one Republican senator who managed to win a competitive Senate seat this week was Jeff Flake, a devoted fiscal conservative and principled advocate for limited government who also happens to be pro-immigration, pro-internet gambling, favors ending the sanctions with Cuba, and who generally avoids the culture wars. He’s a huge improvement over his predecessor. And he won in a state filled with Latinos and rock-ribbed conservatives. He’s a template for the rest of the party.

On to the links:

  • Cop tries to kill dog during drug raid, shoots fellow cop instead.
  • “The Permanent Militarization of America.”
  • In Colorado, legalization of marijuana got more votes than Obama.
  • Carlos Miller wins again. And how he’s suing the cops who deleted the video depicting his illegal arrest. You’d think Miami police would know to just leave him the hell alone.
  • North Korean court rules that the country’s military can torture dissidents with impunity.
  • A new front in the war on vegetable gardens. Don’t know about you, but if these stories ending up pitting the militant locavores and anti-obesity paternalists in an epic battle with the petty zoning tyrants . . . I’m making popcorn.
  • Hey, remember when super PACs were going to destroy American democracy? Not so much. Of course, when the anti-Citizens United crowd would say things like “this will destroy American democracy,” they actually meant, “this will help the candidates I don’t like!” Which means that if and when the GOP ever gets its act together (more likely: when they Democrats inevitably overplay their hand), we’ll be back to blaming money in politics for election results again.

New at HuffPost: SCOTUS Goes to the Dogs

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

I have a piece up at Huffington Post looking at this week’s drug dog cases heard by the Supreme Court.

Much of it will be familiar if you’ve read this site over the last year or so. But I also consider whether the lack of any real criminal defense experience among any of the current justices may affect they way they consider these kinds of cases

(Hint: I think it does. And not in a good way.)

Morning Links

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Afternoon Links

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Blogging will continue to be light over the next few weeks. I’m in the homestretch of finishing up by book manuscript.

Morning Links

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

The More Things Change . . .

Friday, October 19th, 2012

In this week’s issue of Huffington, they’ve published an updated version of my March article on Terrance Huff, drug dog searches, and asset forfeiture.

If you aren’t familiar, Huffington is the tablet magazine spinoff of Huffington Post, focusing on long-form journalism. If you have a tablet computer, I’d encourage you to check it out. One of the main complaints I hear about the Huffington Post site is its clutter and busyness. The magazine is very clean. No ads, no extras.

Anyway, while researching my book I recently came across the passage below from The New York Times Magazine. It has almost on-the-nose relevance to the issues at play in Huff’s case.

See if you can guess when it was published. Answer in the comments.

 

 . . . a number of judges [have begun] questioning police testimony that relie[s] on such legal passwords as “in plain sight” and “furtive gesture.”

“The difficulty arises,” New York Criminal Court Judge Irving Younger wrote last year, “when one stands back from the particular case and looks at a series of cases. It then becomes apparent that policemen are committing perjury at least in some of them, and perhaps in nearly all of them . . . Spend a few hours in the New York City Criminal Court nowadays, and you will hear case after case in which a policeman testifies that the defendant dropped the narcotics on the ground, whereupon the policeman arrested him. Usually the very language of the testimony is identical from one case to another. This is known among defense lawyers and prosecutors as “dropsey” testimony. The judge has no reason to disbelieve it in any particular case, and of course the judge must decide each case on its own evidence, without regard to the testimony in other cases. Surely, though, not in every case was the defendant unlucky enough to drop his narcotics at the feed of the policeman. It follows that in in at least some of these cases the police are lying.”

In California, where many drug arrests are made during highway patrols, Judge Stanley Mosk of the State Supreme Court recently questioned the police reliance on furtive gestures in justifying arrests.

“The furtive gesture,” Mosk wrote, “has on occasion been little short of subterfuge in order to conduct a search on the basis of mere suspicion or intuition.” In so doing, he said, policy imply guilty significance to gestures that are no more illegal than reaching for one’s driver’s license or turning off a car radio.

Late Morning Links

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Morning Links

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Stop and Frisk

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

This video includes a surreptitious recording of a stop and frisk in New York. It also includes interviews with NYPD cops who say that what you’re hearing isn’t atypical.

The phrase “police state” is overused. But if you can’t merely walk on the sidewalk in your own neighborhood without enduring this kind of harassment on a regular basis, I don’t know of any term that’s more appropriate.

More information on the video here.

 

Journalism

Monday, October 8th, 2012

This St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist appears to be upset that some people are criticizing his local law enforcement professionals for possibly profiling, making illegal traffic stops, and performing illegal searches—all in an effort to seize property from low level drug offenders.

You’d think a journalist would see a possible story here—an opportunity to do some reporting. Maybe he could actually look into Terrance Huff’s allegations instead of mocking them. Maybe he could use his column to see if these sorts of stops have happened to other people. Maybe, you know, at least pretend that he’s holding his local public officials accountable. Maybe he could investigate why a cop with a history like Michael Reichert’s is still on the police force. Maybe look into how these drug dogs are actually used, and whether their “alerts” should really be enough to justify a police officer rummaging through personal belongings.

Maybe that’s asking too much of Pat Gauen. But if he takes his job as a journalist seriously, you’d think he’d do some reporting. Instead, he wrote a column about something he saw on TV, then gave his local public officials a forum to slag a guy whose rights may have been violated.

And here I thought it was we Internet journalists who just sit in our basements opining about stuff, while the newspaper generation goes out and does all the real reporting.