Archive for the ‘Criminal law’ Category

We only recently passed the 20,000,000 mark last February but we just hit 21,000,000, according to WordPress. Congratulations everyone. This has been a banner year for the site with a continuing increase in traffic, links on other sites, and new voices on the blog. These milestones are coming faster and they give us a chance to look at the spread of our regular readers and commentators. As always, I want to offer special thanks for our weekend contributors: Mark Esposito, Eliane Magliaro, Mike Appleton, Larry Rafferty, Charlton Stanley and Darren Smith. The increasing traffic on the site is gratifying and reaffirms that there are many people looking for mature and civil debate. Even among the top ten sites, I believe that we offer a unique forum of different views and backgrounds in the discussion of law and politics (and a few quirky items).

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220px-Phil_Ivey_Profile220px-Baccara_PaletteThere is an unfolding scandal involving one of the best known gamblers in the world, Phillip Ivey, Jr. who has been accused of card-cheating in baccarat to the tune of $9.6 million. What is striking to me is how such allegations are treated as civil rather than criminal matters, particularly given the allegations by Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa filed in its federal lawsuit against Ivey in using effectively marked cards. The casino reads like a new script for Ocean’s Thirteen with the use of flawed dice created at a Mexican factory. I could find no reference to the lawsuit (or another lawsuit by the Golden Nugget) on Ivey’s website.

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Respectfully Submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)- Weekend Contributor

We have seen and heard the claims from Donald Rumsfeld and others that the leaked Senate torture report is off base because the enhanced interrogation techniques were not only legal according to the Office of Legal Counsel, but they also produced results.  Putting aside the idea that just because an allegedly illegal act is claimed to have been successful in producing actionable intelligence, does not make it any more legal or illegal, is there a reason why we should listen to the participants who authorized the waterboarding and other torture procedures when they claim that all is well?

Now it seems that Donald Rumsfeld has company.  “In an uncompromising and wide-ranging interview with the Guardian, his first public remarks since he was linked to the program in 2007, James Mitchell was dismissive of a Senate intelligence committee report on CIA torture in which he features, and which is currently at the heart of an intense row between legislators and the agency.

The committee’s report found that the interrogation techniques devised by Mitchell, a retired air force psychologist, were far more brutal than disclosed at the time, and did not yield useful intelligence. These included waterboarding, stress positions, sleep deprivation for days at a time, confinement in a box and being slammed into walls.

But Mitchell, who was reported to have personally waterboarded accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, remains unrepentant. “The people on the ground did the best they could with the way they understood the law at the time,” he said. “You can’t ask someone to put their life on the line and think and make a decision without the benefit of hindsight and then eviscerate them in the press 10 years later.” ‘  Reader Supported News  (more…)

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Cops_camera_arrestThere have been a long list of studies and articles on the problem of false testimony by police officers. Most officers that I have met or represented would not testify falsely. However, there is cultural pressure to hold “the thin blue line” to support other officers. That appears what is occurring in a recent scandal out of Chicago. In a Skokie courthouse, five officers (three from Chicago and two from Glenview) took the stand and lied about what occurred in a drug arrest. What is relatively rare is that the prosecutors appear to be seriously considering criminal charges.

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CBP_BadgeA website has posted an extraordinary video (below) showing not only the abusive treatment of a citizen by border and local police, but highly compelling evidence of a false police report by a driver to cover up his own illegal turn that caused an accident in New York City. The driver, Ted, had installed a Timetec Roadhawk Dashcam out of fear of unlawful traffic stops. It was a fortuitous decision because it would capture what he says was a false charge and abusive treatment by law enforcement officers — following by a false police report. By the way, the postings report this as a Border Police vehicle but it appears a van from the Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

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220px-vial_examples220px-Centre-medical-de-l'institute-pasteurA story this week caught my eye: Paris’ Pasteur Institute has disclosed that it lost thousands of tubes of samples of the deadly Sars coronavirus. I read the story with a mix of astonishment and irritation. As I have previously discussed, I represented Dr. Thomas Butler, a former Texas Tech professor, who was criminally charged after he revealed that a small number of vials containing bubonic plague samples had disappeared — possibly sanitized by accident. Butler self-reported the loss and was immediately the subject of a bizarre FBI investigation by the Bush Administration and former Attorney General John Ashcroft. He was later hit with a series of national security charges and labeled “Dr. Plague” by the media. While the jury rejected virtually all of the national security counts but a minor allegation on shipping (unrelated to the missing vials), the world’s leading expert on plague was still sent to jail. The Pasteur Institute lost 2,349 vials and the French government is correctly treating it as a non-criminal matter.

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1369987959_USAIDOur government has long seemed to be descending into a type of Orwellian universe of double speak. The Libyan War was not a war but a “time-limited, scope-limited military action” under Obama. Torture of detainees was not torture but “enhanced interrogation” under Bush. Now it appears open bribery of foreign officials is not bribery but “incentives” to implement policies favorable to their own people. Congressional members are moving to address what is being called a “slush fund” with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) where millions are paid to political figures in foreign countries. We have previously discussed such payments by the CIA to the openly corrupt Afghanistan government, including suitcases of cash to President Helmit Karzai. What is most interesting is that an act that is a federal crime for citizens doing business abroad can be not only legal but an official program by government officials. It appears that in the handshake shown on the USAID seal, there is often a sawbuck or two in the palm.

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gavel2Erie-County-SealErie County District Attorney’s Special Victim’s Bureau Chief Roseanne Johnson appeared recently in court with an alarming report. She told the judge in the midst of jury selection for a rape trial that she had a statement to read from Assistant District Attorney Kristi Ahlstrom. Ahlstrom informed that court that the defendant, William Payne, 48, had tried to kill her by running her over in the street. Johnson denounced the attack as an effort to intimidate the prosecutors who were in the jury selection process for the rape trial. A mistrial was declared. The problem is that Payne was not in the car and a video tape of the street contradicts the account of Ahlstrom. Yet, the trial was halted, Payne was held in jail for seven days pending investigation, and there is no indication of any discipline for the prosecutor.

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ccc5Dallas attorney James Lee Bright faced a dilemma: he had to appear in court but he recovering from knee surgery with a large leg brace and an ice machine attached to his leg to stop swelling. He could not fit his pants over the hardware so he wore a shirt, tie, jacket, and shorts. That did not go over well with Judge Etta Mullin (left) who refused to hear his motion to dismiss a weapons charge for a client because he was wearing shorts. It was a rather unsympathetic and inflexible decision but it was not the first for this particular judge. However, it is the mounting criticism of Mullin that raises the question of why the Democratic party has pushed for her reelection and why the state bar has not investigated allegations of injudicious conduct.

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bully-2-e1397330995935article-2603196-1D0E0E1500000578-133_634x819We have previously discussed the use of shaming punishments by judges around the country — a practice that I have previously denounced in columns and blog postings. I discussed a new case this week on BBC involving Edmond Aviv, 62, in South Euclid, Ohio. Aviv pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge. Aviv, 62, had been feuding with his neighbor for 15 years, particularly over the smell of her dryer vent when she did laundry. He retaliated by hookup up kerosene to a fan to blow the smell on to the property of Sandra Prugh. Municipal Court Judge Gayle Williams-Byers (left) decided to impose her own brand of justice and ordered him to demean himself in public and wear a signing reading “I AM A BULLY! I pick on children that are disabled, and I am intolerant of those that are different from myself. My actions do not reflect an appreciation for the diverse South Euclid community that I live in.” For those of us who view this type of novel or shaming punishment to be unprofessional and abusive, it is Judge Williams-Byers who is in serious need for corrective measures. Indeed, many view judges who entertain the public with shaming sentences to be the ultimate bullies.

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250px-al_sharpton_by_david_shankbone136px-US-FBI-ShadedSealMSNBC host Al Sharpton has long been controversial from his involvement in the Tawana Brawley scandal to questions raised about his pressing companies to give “love offerings” and associations to his legal problems. Nevertheless, his position at MSNBC is viewed as secure while President Obama continues to honor him at official White House meetings and public events, including an event three days ago. This teflon reputation with liberals appears to be holding even after news reports surfaced that Sharpton was an FBI snitch and an associate accused him of seeking to cash in on the drug trade before he became a national figure. Sharpton has been somewhat guarded in answering detailed questions about the stories about his wearing a wire in meetings with the mob, but recently confirmed that he “cooperated” with the FBI. He proved testy with 60 Minutes in refusing to acknowledge that he was an informant. According to reports, the FBI designated Sharpton as “Confidential Informant No. 7″ and used him with a bugged briefcase to incriminate mob figures in discussions of criminal enterprises. Sharpton insisted “I’m not a rat, I’m a cat.” He certainly has nine lives given the range of his past scandals. The mayor of New York and other Democratic leaders lined up to praise Sharpton in the aftermath of the story.

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article-2601346-1CFD0D8E00000578-461_634x457As many have been discussing, the rampant crime in Brazil has led many to avoid the country as tourists and many others to criticize the selection of Rio de Janeiro for the next summer Olympics, the Soccer World Cup, and other huge venues. The local media was covering the growing crime wave in interviewing this woman . . . who was promptly mugged on television as if to bring home the point.

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kanawha-county-prosecutor-mark-plantsPreviously, our contributor Charlton Stanley wrote about Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants in a controversial foreclosure matter. Now, Plants is back in the news as the subject of a criminal case as opposed to the charging prosecutor. Plants is charged with beating his son with a belt and leaving a considerable bruise. He is claiming a constitutional right to such beatings as a parental choice on discipline.

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poison_sign_lWe have long discussed the plight of young girls in Muslim nations who have been handed over as child brides in arranged marriages. Wasila Umaru, 14, however, decided not to go quietly into a marriage with a 35-year-old man. She made a meal for the groom and three friends and poisoned them all to death.

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220px-Airplane_seat_belt_1getbild.phpThere was an extraordinary moment on a Swedish flight this week taking off from Frösön airport in northern Sweden. The government was deporting Ghader Ghalamere back to his native Iran. A man on the flight stood up to tell the passengers about the deportation and told them not to fasten their seat belts to stop the flight. The passengers did precisely that and the flight could not take off in an extraordinary act of peaceful protest.

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Lapd_badgeA new report concludes that Los Angeles police officers have widely tampered with voice recording equipment to block monitoring of their actions on duty. Officers have been tearing off the antennas of their cruisers to prevent transmitting signals. Yet, there is not a single reported case of a single officer been disciplined, let alone fired. Indeed, none will be investigated.

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article-2599165-1CEA7EA000000578-754_306x423220px-Vance_McAllister,_Official_Portrait,_113th_CongressThis week, U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister was faced with the scandalous release of a security video to his kissing his married aide, Melissa Anne Hixon Peacock, at his office in Louisiana. That would normally be the stuff of scandal, but it is even worse when you are married and ran as a religious conservative. McAllister went public with an apology to everyone (except personally to Peacock’s husband who is now divorcing his wife). He asked forgiveness but is now demanding an investigation to potentially jail whoever revealed his conduct: a curious path for a self-proclaimed redemptive sinner.

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RAYNAL-PAUL-240x300220px-11.6%22_MacBook_Air_(1)We have another example of the power of the Internet in fighting crime. After Ahryun Moon, 29, had her laptop stolen in Joy’s Place, a San Francisco coffee shop, the security video was placed on YouTube. Sure enough, someone spotted the women in the video still wearing the same distinct outfit. She is Pawl Raynal, 32, and fittingly enough was arrested in another Bay Area coffee shop.

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Guillory2013200px-Rooster_portrait2Sen. Elbert Guillory (R., Opelousas) appears to like poultry pugilism. Chicken boxing, that is. Guillory left a number of his colleagues scratching their heads when he raised the distinction between cockfighting and “chicken boxing,” the latter involving chickens wearing little gloves as opposed to razors to fight.

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article-0-1CC4CE2700000578-597_306x423article-0-1CC4CE2200000578-659_306x423There is a disturbing case out of Northern Virginia where Braulio Castillo, the CEO of a computer company, is accused of beating his wife and then hanging her from the ceiling to make it look like a suicide. Castillo has been under investigation by Congress over $500 million in contracts secured through a special service-disabled veteran status law.

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ows_139692579398037There is a truly horrific case out of Minnesota after David J. Gherity, 60, was arrested for setting his girlfriend on fire in his condominium. What struck me as odd was that he was not charged with attempted murder as opposed to assault in the attack. However, Gheirty’s lawyer says that there is a videotape of Gherity at work at the time of the crime that will vindicate his client.

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250px-Michael_Hayden,_CIA_official_portrait225px-dianne_feinstein_official_senate_photoFormer CIA and National Security Agency director Michael Hayden has long been the face and voice of the growing security state within the United States. While many of his representations have been challenged, he continues (like Dick Cheney) to create his own reality to justify powers viewed as authoritarian and unlawful. Now, with the approaching release of a comprehensive report on the torture program, Hayden is out in the press denying the findings of the report that torture did not result in any meaningful new intelligence and that the CIA tortured people who were already cooperating with conventional (and legal) interrogations. Hayden took to the airways to champion torture by attacking the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D, Cal.) and said that she was just being “emotional” and should not be involved in such a serious debate.

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200px-thumbnailThe politics over illegal immigration has radically changed as both parties see the issue as key to attracting the hispanic vote in the next election. A measure of that change was evident on Sunday when Former Florida governor Jeb Bush said Sunday that many who illegally come to the United States do so out of an “act of love” for their families while Democrats are pushing to stopping deportations all together.

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220px-Rahm_Emanuel,_official_photo_portrait_colorRespectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw) Weekend Contributor

I guess you don’t have to be from Chicago or Illinois to know who Rahm Emanuel is.  The current Mayor of the City of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel is the former chief of staff to President Obama and a former Congressman. He is also a former investment banker.  It has been alleged that this former investment banker has been crying poor since he entered office and proposing that city workers must pay more into their pension funds and get less pay and benefits.

“If you’ve read the financial news out of Chicago the last few weeks, you’ve probably heard that the city faces a major pension shortfall, supposedly because police officers, firefighters, teachers and other public workers are selfishly bleeding the city dry.

You’ve also probably heard that the only way investment banker-turned-mayor Rahm Emanuel can deal with the seemingly dire situation is to slash his public workers’ retirement benefits and to jack up property taxes on those who aren’t politically connected enough to have secured themselves special exemptions.” Pandodaily  (more…)

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thumb_at_computer_silloetteEngland flagI must be missing something. English prosecutors are heralding the sentencing of Mohammed Khalid Jamil as a “landmark case” in their campaign against computer fraud. Jamil ran an international conspiracy to defraud people of millions in a Microsoft scam. However, he received just a four-month sentence and that sentence was promptly suspended. As for the fine, he was told to pay £5,665. How exactly is that a landmark?

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040114_otr_conti2_640If the police are correct, Colin Chisholm III, 62, and Andrea Chisholm, 54, just may be the most outrageous welfare frauds in history. The Chisholms lived on a $1.2 million yacht when they were not in one of their expensive homes. However, they still collected more than $160,000 in state welfare benefits. They each face one count of welfare fraud. They also portrayed themselves as Lord Colin A.J. & Lady Chisholm of Struy.

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Angela-Timmons-300x290Angela Timmons, 54, an employee at Virginia College in South Carolina, appears to have carried out an April Fools’ Day prank that few in her family will soon forget. Timmons, 54, send an email to her daughter that there was a gunman on the loose at the school and the daughter called police — triggering a massive response. It was a stupid prank. However, the range of charges against Timmons is a bit disconcerting.

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screen_shot_2014-03-25_at_00.03.31.siThe Albuquerque police have long been criticized for a high rate of shootings and the increasing militarization of their operations. This month, many have joined in that criticism after the release of a videotape of police shooting a homeless camper, James Boyd, in the foothills outside of the city.

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200px-Jonathan_Pollard660px-flag_of_israelsvgThe Obama Administration is reportedly close to an extraordinary deal to get Israel back to the negotiations table: it is going to release Israeli spy, Jonathan Pollard. One could question why Israel needs any inducement to negotiate with the Palestinians for its own peace and more importantly why the U.S. is willing to free spies to get two other governments to negotiate. Notably, for years, Israel denied that Pollard was their spy — considered by many as compounding the dishonesty of spying on your closest ally. It was not until 1999 – over ten years later — that Israel admitted to the U.S. that he was their spy and that, while the U.S. was giving (and continued to give) billions in aid to Israel, it was maintaining spies in our government. Pollard’s release is rumored to be part of a release of prisoners from Israeli prisons to jump start a new round of negotiations.

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250px-MRE_20071124As the United States continues to grapple with openly corrupt officials and businesses in Afghanistan and Iraq who have stolen billions in aid, the notoriously corrupt Ukrainian system appears eager to outdo their counterparts. The poster boy of Ukrainian corruption is Vladimir Belonog who has been openly selling meals ready to eat (MREs) that were shipping only days before to the country to support its besieged military. Belonog is selling the MREs with the U.S. markings still on them and the warning “U.S. Government Property, commercial resale is unlawful.” What is most remarkable is that he has not been arrested after selling the aid in plain view of the government. Diplomats and experts have described Ukraine under Presidents Kuchma and Yushchenko as a virtual kleptocracy, or government of thieves.

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CIAsenate_large_sealWe previously discussed how CIA officials were accused of trying to intimidate Senate staffers working on an investigation into allegations of torture and lies by the agency officials. Now the details of that still classified report have been leaked to the media. For the Senate Intelligence Committee (long accused of being a rubber stamp for intelligence agencies), the report is quite damning. The Senate found a pattern of misinformation knowingly released by the CIA to convince the public that its torture program yielded valuable intelligence — and new forms of torture that have never been previously confirmed. What is most striking however is what is not in the report: a recommendation for criminal prosecution. Indeed, consistent with its past approach to intelligence abuses, the Committee does not recommend any action be taken against a single CIA official.

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1396212401000-wildc5-6ehdlb201ybix4mc8ky-original-1A Delaware Superior Court judge, Jan Jurden, is under fire after sending a wealthy heir to the DuPont fortune to treatment rather than prison because Robert H. Richards IV would “not fare well” in prison after being convicted of raping his 3-year-old daughter. [A review of the record shows the concern raised about not faring well in prison but it is not clear how stated this concern. The Judge did express concern over the lack of jail time, though it is not clear why the Judge approved the sentence]

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SatelliteNot that long ago, we discussed a case where an elderly couple was pulled over by Tennessee police because they had Buckeye leaf decal as Ohio State football fans — including a leaf image that police mistook for a marijuana leaf. They were told to be more careful in showing such images in the future. It seems that the entire state of Colorado could receive the same treatment after Darien Roseen, 70, was stopped when he was returning from a baby shower. He says he was searched because he had a Colorado plate. Since the state recently legalized marijuana, Idaho State Trooper Justin Klitch allegedly stopped his car in what is being called a case of “license plate profiling.” He is now suing over the stop and search.

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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Speed Trap Warning SignAn Oklahoma citizen took his small town’s police department to federal court, claiming police clamped down on him when he put a sign on the curb warning of a speed trap ahead.

James Goad, of Meeker, Oklahoma, says the harassment that followed his action amounted to a violation of his First Amendment right to freedom of speech. In the suit against the Meeker Police Department and Police Chief Sam Byrd, Goad claims police arrested him and violated his civil rights to get back at him for his sign stunt.

“Mr. Goad was exercising his constitutional right to free speech when he posted the speed trap warning sign on the property,” Goad’s attorney, Jack Dawson, wrote.

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President_Barack_Obama150px-OHCHR_logoThe United Nation’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has issued a report slamming the United States on torture and surveillance — the last international condemnation of the United States that is now viewed by many as a threat to civil liberties and international law. This follows international reports condemning the Obama Administration for its attacks on the free press and Internet freedoms. The demand for action on torture revives one of the greatest failures of the Obama Administration when the President, shown after taking office, assured CIA employees that no one would be investigated or prosecuted for torture despite the existence of international treaties obligating us to carry out such prosecutions. The President has admitted (as is clear from domestic and international rulings) that water boarding is torture. What is fascinating is that those who continue to defend this Administration dismiss the criticisms of respected international public interest groups, award-winning journalists, and even United Nations organizations in such condemnations. It is part of what has become a blind loyalty for an iconic president over long-standing principles. As noted by a widening array of organizations and experts, Obama has proven a perfect nightmare for civil liberties — once a core and defining area for Democrats and liberals alike.

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photo_youngmilleryoungincident2 We recently discussed the controversy surrounding a confrontation between Thrin Short, 16, and her sister Joan, 21, and Feminist Studies Associate Professor Mireille Miller-Young. Miller-Young has now been charged with criminal conduct including Theft of Person; Battery; and Vandalism. However, even that charge does not appear to have prompted an express and clear statement from the University denouncing Miller-Young or calling for the review of her academic position. To the contrary, in the first statement from the university, Michael D. Young, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, appears to spend more time alluding to the victims as the problem than addressing the allegedly criminal abuse by a member of the faculty. The letter below contains a series of backhanded references to those engaging in free speech demonstrations on campus. The problem it would seem is not Miller-Young as much as these troublesome “outsiders” and “evangelical types” who come to “create discord” and “promote personal causes and agendas.” In the end, you are not sure if Miller-Young was the culprit or a victim in these alleged criminal acts. While there are good sentiments expressed in this letter, I can understand why the pro-life community would view this letter as basically saying “please don’t beat the protests no matter how much they may deserve it.”

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I have previously discussed my views about Nancy Grace and her genre of legal commentary. (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). This week Grace is being mocked for another controversial appearance on Good Morning America where she shouts “porn” repeatedly in an interview on the the Oscar Pistorius murder trial. She was appearing with ABC legal analyst Dan Abrams and appears upset that neither the anchor nor Abrams want to talk about porn as opposed to the developments in the case.

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-e7e7901c5b6b9359There is an interesting lawsuit out of Flint Township, Michigan over the arrest of John David McMorris who was arrested for a concealed weapon on Christmas Eve. McMorris, 21, was walking alongside a road when he was stopped by a Flint Township police officer. The officer arrested him for concealing a handgun. It is legal to openly carry a handgun. However, the video below shows the gun clearly in the open and McMorris even turned with his hands up to show the officer his .40-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol on his hip.

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01senator-leland-yee.thumbnailCalifornia State Senator Leland Yee has been charged in a bizarre series of crimes including a conspiracy to traffic weapons after a series of videotaped meetings with an FBI informant. It was a curious position for any elected official to be in but particularly curious for a senator who authored gun control legislation.

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cowenGeorge Mason University Professor Tyler Cowen‘s lecture on vigilantes got a bit too real this week when a man ran into his Law and Literature class and pepper sprayed him. Cowen reportedly ran into the hall with the intruder in pursuit but an off-duty officer (who happened to be in a class) caught the culprit.

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carmenlynnfischergarciaCarmen Lynn Fischer Garcia, a Phoenix defense attorney, has pleaded guilty and received a three year prison sentence for crimes that seem to come right out of an episode of “Sons of Anarchy” or “Breaking Bad.” Fischer admitted to helping a gang move money and served as a conduit for passing information between jailed and street members. She admitted to be a “ruca” or female associate to the gang and assisting Angel Garcia from December 2007 to July 2013 in moving money and transmitting messages from prison. She marry Garcia in July 2011, though the FBI insisted that Garcia was feigning affection.

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article-2587307-1C83AE0C00000578-610_634x380We have yet another example of how we have criminalized our schools and society with the arrest of a mother at the Walnut Groves Elementary School in Missouri. Niakea Williams was responding to an emergency call that her boy with Asperger’s syndrome was having a panic attack. She ran straight to his room to comfort and calm him . . . she was then promptly arrested for failing to check in at the front office.

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President_Barack_Obama220px-Nytimes_hqI recently wrote a column on the wholesale attack on press freedoms under President Obama that parallel his attack on other civil liberties and privacy principles (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). I testified on the erosion of press freedom under President George W. Bush but the assault on the free press has worsened under President Obama while Democratic members and supporters remain conspicuously silent. Reporters have not been so silent or reticent and have repeatedly tried to educate citizens of the danger to press freedoms under this President. Now one of the most respected journalists in the country, New York Times reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner Jim Risen, has declared that the Obama Administration is the greatest threat to a free press in a generation.

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CO_-_Denver_Police_Badge220px-Beretta90TWOThe Denver Police Chief is promising extra training and a review on the use of new flashlight equipped guns after a series of cases where officers fired a round while trying to find the switch for the light. This accident-waiting-to-happen technology could spawn a series of lawsuits for both negligence in the officers the Department as well as product liability claims.

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609px-Coat_of_arms_of_Kenya.svgKenya’s parliament has passed a law intended to codify the existing customary law allowing for multiple spouses. However, the legislators went further and removed a provision that would give the existing spouse or spouses the right to veto a marriage. After female legislators stormed out of the session in protest, MP Junet Mohammed explained “When you marry an African woman, she must know the second one is on the way, and a third wife… this is Africa.”

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Betty Bootlegger

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

With many states grappling with the need for tax revenue and the otherwise laudable effort to curtail cigarette smoking among their citizens, laws of supply and demand are beginning to having unexpected consequences to some. Rises in taxation of cigarettes with prices in one location as high as $15.00 per pack, the majority of cigarettes consumed by smokers there are now bootleg. According to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, nearly $5 billion in revenue in 2010 was lost because of smuggling. But this figure is very likely to rise dramatically since many states since enacted even higher levels of taxation.

The situation has formed a fertile ground for illegal cigarette trafficking and there have been inroads into organized crime. Sources of illegal cigarettes have been neighboring states where tax rates are lower, Native American reservations, and even foreign sources of the same brand names, often from Vietnam, Thailand, and Eastern Europe. Wholesale illegal supply chains are becoming increasingly significant. While cigarettes are otherwise available, albeit at a higher price, these states are beginning to see a softer form of prohibition. But there is also a very dark side to smoking bootleg cigarettes. Illegal cigarette trafficking has been used as a vehicle to channel money to foreign terrorist organizations. Are the benefits worth the costs inherited from high taxations?
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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Honolulu Police Department ShieldIn what is proffered to be helpful in the combat of prostitution and the underlying organized crime that often promotes this, members of the Honolulu, Hawaii police department have requested legislative authority to engage in sexual relations with prostitutes in order to further infiltrate the illegal profession.

This was an amendment to a bill that would expand the enforcement and prosecution of sex industry players that has passed the state House and is coming before a Senate committee.

Authorities say they need the legal protection to catch lawbreakers in the act, and strict internal controls prohibit misconduct. But is this a novel idea to break up the sex traffic industry or one that may lead to exploitation of its vulnerable members?
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milleryoungincident2 We recently discussed the controversy surrounding a confrontation between Thrin Short, 16, and her sister Joan, 21, and Feminist Studies Associate Professor Mireille Miller-Young. Miller-Young has now been charged with criminal conduct including Theft of Person; Battery; and Vandalism. All are misdemeanors.

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dog20n-1-webThere is a bizarre case out of Tampa where Candace Patricia Hauser is facing one charge of aggravated cruelty to animals . Brenda Hines, 31, brought her Mastiff, Nadia, to Hauser’s house to see if she could help deliver puppies. Nadia was able to delivered (with help) the first 12 puppies but had trouble on the last two. Hauser proceeded to do a canine Caesarian and cut open Nadia to deliver the final two puppies. She then used standard, non-surgical glue to close the wound. This was all done without anesthesia and Nadia died.

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KS_-_Highway_Patrol_BadgeWichita_PoliceThe Kansas House Standing Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice has introduced an extraordinary bill that would allow citizens to be criminally charged if they bring abuse or misconduct charges against police officers are that later dismissed by the police department. They would be subject to a felony charge for perjury in such cases — a clear threat that will chill anyone considering such a charge in the future.

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