The CIA is in a rare confrontation with the Senate Intelligence Committee, a committee widely viewed as a rubber stamp for the intelligence community and headed by Senator Dianne Feinstein. Feinstein has been ridiculed for her defense of the intelligence services, attacks on whistleblowers, and support for the expansion of surveillance operations. Feinstein also helped cover up past intelligence scandals from the torture program to the recent alleged perjury by National Intelligence Chief James Clapper. After dismissing concerns over the surveillance of ordinary citizens, Feinstein is now dealing with surveillance of her own committee and staff. Staff members allege that the CIA violated core constitutional and statutory protections by monitoring their computers in an oversight investigation. The CIA has accused Senate staff members of sneaking out classified documents — documents that the staff say prove that the CIA lied to the Committee in its investigation of the CIA’s secret interrogation and detention program.
Archive for the ‘Criminal law’ Category
Somehow I knew this day would come. Down deep I knew that there would come a time when I had to express sympathy of Justin Bieber. Thanks to the Miami Police and a Florida law that day has come. CBS4 News, the Miami Herald and other media outlets went to court under the state’s open records law to demand videos of Bieber giving a urine sample. This followed Bieber’s arrest after he drag raced a Lamborghini on a residential road in South Beach and admitted to smoking marijuana and taking prescription pain killers. The video showed Bieber urinating and a black box had to be placed over his genitalia by court order of Judge Miami-Dade County Judge William Altfield in the interests of his privacy. What I fail to understand is why the entire video of urinating is not treated as a protected matter for privacy purposes. The demand by these media outfits truly disgusts me but I am more concerned in how this law is being interpreted to publicly release videos of people urinating.
Oklahoma City attorney, Frank Kirk, 70, is looking at a likely disbarment after his arrest in a bizarre discovery in the Oklahoma City Jail. Kirk is accused of smuggling in a sex toy for a female prisoner to use in exchange for his legal representation. He is now charged with possession of contraband and multiple counts of offering to engage in an act of lewdness. What is interesting is that one of the most serious charges is not his sneaking in a vibrator or the sexual acts but the cellphone that he had with him. It is a felony to bring a cellphone into a prison interview room. What is particularly distressing is that this alleged act of depravity is now the basis for proposed changes limiting counsel and expanding searches. This is a case that by any measure is bizarre and grotesque. It does not reflect either the criminal defense bar and makes for a poor basis for rewriting interview policies in my view. Notably, this was a sting operation so the prison was made aware of the violations and audio taped the encounter.
The persecution of homosexuals continues in Nigeria with four young men convicted of homosexual relations and flogged on in open court. The judges and lawyers watched as the men (aged 20 to 22) were laid prostrate on the floor, stripped, and whipped on their buttocks in a demonstration of Sharia justice. The sadomasochistic nature of the punishment appears to have escaped the onlookers. While a crowd outside tried to grab the men to kill them, the court explained that stoning was not needed since the men admitted to homosexual acts previously but said that they were no longer engaging in such relations.
There is a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that captures the often impossible burden placed on convicted felons in seeking new trials after errors or unfair rulings. Tavares Flaggs is a Mississippi man serving a life sentence for murder. His trial featured the discredited medical examiner, Steven Hayne (left) who has been shown to have given flawed or false testimony, including testimony in death penalty cases. Hayne sought a new trial in a post-conviction 28 U.S.C. § 2254 application. The Fifth Circuit denied the motion in three paragraphs that is as short as it is dismissive in considering the underlying issues. The government effectively argued that its witness was so notorious that the defense should have raised his incompetency at trial. It succeeded. The entire decision is below.
Like yearbooks, some mugshots just seem to call out for blind predictions. In the case of Bernard Marsonek, 58, “most likely to have sex with pit bull” would actually seem an option. The Tampa man was arrested after not only being seen having sex with one of his eight large pit bulls, but then refusing to stop when confronted by neighbors.
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor
The Fifth Amendment protects all United States citizens by guaranteeing us all the right of due process of law. The Fifth Amendment is meant to ensure that the government has to at least prove to a court that a citizen is guilty of any crime that he or she is charged with.
“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Cornell Law
Without the Fifth Amendment, the government could grab any citizen off the street and proceed to jail them or execute them without a trial of any kind where the accused could mount a defense to the government’s charges. It seems that the Obama Administration is once again in the process of deciding whether it will unilaterally execute an American citizen believed to living in Pakistan. Or at least, preparing us for a kill decision that they have already made. (more…)
By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor
Bespectacled Juan Maeso led a fairly mundane life as an anesthetist in the Spanish coastal town of Valencia. All that changed in 2007 when Maeso was convicted of serial murder. A morphine addict, Maeso had been skimming the painkiller meant for his patients and then using the same compromised needle to inject them. Over a decade, 275 patients contracted hepatitis-c (HCV) and four of them died from complications from the disease. A Spanish court sentenced Maeso to 1,933 years in prison but the sentence pales in interest to how the murderous soporifist was finally caught.
A fascinating article in the journal Nature details the laboratory hunt for the killer with all the twists and turns of an Arthur Conan Doyle story. Led by researchers at the University of Valencia, the work involved analyzing and categorizing 4200 viral sequences to backtrack to Maeso’s particular strain of hepatitis-c. The process known as phylogenetic forensics has been successfully used to track down the origins of such infamous cases as the 2009 anthrax-laced heroine scare in Europe and the case of Bruce Ivins, a microbiologist at the US Army Medical Research Institute, strongly suspected of sending anthrax tainted letters to Senators in 2001. Ivins committed suicide before charges were placed.
The death of Pastor Jamie Coots, a third-generation snake handler and religious leader of the, w Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name church in Middlesboro, Ky., has renewed concerns over the practice and the need to criminalize such conduct. However, criminalization triggers a serious question of free exercise so long as the animals are not being abused or children allowed to handle poisonous snakes.
Larry Davis can be excused if he is a tad confused. Austin police pulled him over for running a red light. As we have seen before (and discussed in this column), police often use pretextual reasons to conduct drug or alcohol stops. In this case, police asked Davis to take a voluntary breath test and he consented and blew a 0.0. He also agreed to a blood sample and was later cleared of seven types of drugs. Negative on everything, but he was arrested and spent the night in jail under a bizarre “take-no-chances” policy which seems to boil down to “arrest them all and let God sort them out.” (more…)
We have been following the continuing abuse of citizens who are detained or arrested for filming police in public. (For prior columns, click here and here). Despite consistent rulings upholding the right of citizens to film police in public, these abuses continue. The latest case comes from Baltimore, Maryland. Maryland has been previously cited in abuses by police in this area as we discussed. In this case, the officer summed up too many such cases by telling the witness simply “you have not rights.” That simplifies things wonderfully for police and citizens alike.
The crackdown on free speech continues among our Arab allies. This week, Dubai arrested four people for posting insults about companions of Prophet Mohammed on Instagram. Since the companions of Prophet Mohammed are revered by Sunni Muslims, the insults are particularly sensitive in the country with tensions between a majority of Shiites and a Sunni monarchy.
There is a controversial shooting in South Carolina this week after York County deputy, Terrence Knox, shot Bobby Canipe, 70, during a routine traffic stop when Canipe reached for his cane. Knox said that he thought it was a rifle and his department is calling him justified in the shooting. Canipe (left) is a disabled Vietnam veteran.
In Bloomfield, New Jersey DJ Marcus Jeter, 30, was charged with eluding police, assault and other crimes based on the sworn reports of two Bloomfield police officers. The officers accused him of fleeing a scene and then assaulting them after they were called to his home with his girlfriend. It was all a lie but multiple officers joined in framing Jeter. The problem was a police dash came video that prosecutors never bothered to review despite his denials. It was once again the media that did the due diligence and presented the evidence to the prosecutors who dropped the charges. Prosecutors however claim that the fault rests with the police.
Attorney Jason Bohn is facing a particularly challenging case. First, the victim was beaten and strangled to death. Second, he is the defendant and the victim was his girlfriend and Danielle Thomas, 27, was killed in their New York City apartment. Bohn, 35, has come up with a novel defense: “intermittent explosive disorder.”
We often look at police controversies in cases of abuse or other violations by officers. We occasionally have opportunities however to witness what officers face in their daily jobs as well as officers who saw admirable restraint. This is one such case. Most of us would respond more aggressively to Mr. Larry A. Green Jr., 28, spitting in our mouths. Police officers often have to show restraint that exceeds the personal discipline of most people. The video is below.
We have another case of a police officer threatening a citizen after falsely telling him that filming a police officer in public is a crime. What adds to this particularly case is that Massachusetts state police trooper Kenneth Harold is also now accused of giving false testimony under questioning by driver. We have been following the continuing abuse of citizens who are detained or arrested for filming police in public. (For prior columns, click here and here). Despite consistent rulings upholding the right of citizens to film police in public, these abuses continue.
We recently discussed the incredible decision by the Dallas Police Chief that officers will no longer be allowed to give their accounts of shootings for the first 48 hours after officers were found to have lied in past cases. They will now be allowed to get their accounts straight before going on the record. Two Brooklyn officers are probably wishing that such a rule might apply to non-lethal controversies. Officers Christopher Oliver and Shazad Shigri are accused of sideswiping a parked SUV owned by Robert Jackson, 31, and then charging him with the accident — after looking around for any security cameras that would contradict them. They missed one.
One of the lowest points in U.S. and Israeli relations came in 1997 when Samuel Sheinbein, an American teenager, savagely murdered another teenager as practice for a later planned murder. He then fled to Israel and as a Jew claimed the right to become a citizen (and thus avoid extradition). He is now dead after grabbing a gun and shooting several guards before being gunned down himself in Haron Prison. The irony is that he was close to the point where he would ask for release from prison.
The Chicago police have bagged a desperado in my home city. A 13-year-old boy was arrested for allegedly hitting a Chicago police officer with a snowball. The boy insists that he was not actually the one in the crowd who threw the snowball and that it actually hit the car not the officer who was sitting in it. The main question is why such an act, even if it hit the officer, warranted an arrest for the serious offense of aggravated battery (not simply battery) to a peace officer.
Submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor
This past week, thousands of emails from within Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker’s inner circle were released as part of an appeal by his former Deputy Chief of Staff, Kelly Rindfleisch. Ms. Rindfleisch is appealing her conviction on illegal campaign activities during the 2010 Lt. Governor’s race.
“Kelly Rindfleisch was convicted of illegal campaign activity for working on the 2010 lieutenant governor’s campaign of then-Rep. Brett Davis while serving as Walker’s deputy chief of staff during his time as Milwaukee county executive. In Wisconsin, it is illegal for public employees to work on campaigns while on the clock and being paid to administer state services.
Prosecutors found that Rindfleisch traded more than 3,000 emails with Walker campaign staffers, most of which were sent on county time from a secret email system in Walker’s office. Davis, who was Walker’s favored candidate, lost the race but was later appointed by the governor as head of Wisconsin’s Medicaid program.
Rindfleisch was sentenced in 2012 to six months in jail, but her sentence has been stayed as she appeals. She unsuccessfully requested to keep her emails secret while attempting to have her conviction overturned.” Readersupportednews
Ms. Rindfleisch and five other Walker employees were convicted on various illegal campaign activity charges and the emails that were released this week laid bare the mentality of the Walker associates and their actions to work on political campaigns while being paid as state workers. It is a bit amazing that Governor Walker has remained untouched by the prosecutors even though many of these emails that detail not only illegal campaign activities, but some alarming racist and sexist comments, were also sent to him. (more…)
People in Austin were outraged recently when Amanda Jo Stephen was arrested for jaywalking – a crime that ultimately required four officers and left Stephen sitting cuffed and crying on the ground in front of onlookers. The video is below. However, it was the response of Austin police chief Art Acevedo made this even more bizarre and disturbing.
Las Vegas police have released the video below of a hit-and-run at a gasoline station that left an elderly man injured. The crime occurred on February 6th at an Arco station on West Flamingo around noon when a white male in a hoodie also hit the man. When the victim turns toward the car, the driver then speeds up and knocks him over.
We have previously discussed Stand-Your-Ground laws and common misconceptions that arose during the George Zimmerman trial. That controversy is back this week in Alabama after Judge James Roberts Jr. cited Alabama’s stand-your-ground law in dismissing a civil lawsuit by a former college student who was injured in a fight with a sorority sister. The lawsuit has drawn particular attention in the state because the sorority sister, Kristen Saban (left), is the daughter of University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban.
There is finally justice for San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow who was left brain damaged and permanently disabled after a vicious attack by these two men: Louie Sanchez, 31, and Marvin Norwood. Both Dodgers fans pleaded guilty to the attack and received eight and four years respectively for their crimes. Given the injury to Stow, however, I am left divided on whether the punishment is sufficiently long.
There is an interesting case before the California Supreme Court on the liability of hosts for guests at parties where a cover-charge is required. California law immunizes hosts who serve alcohol to intoxicated guests, but these parties involve payment that creates an ambiguity in the scope of the state law. The case involves Jessica Manosa, who was 20 years old when she hosted a party at her parents’ rental home and charged $3 to $5 to strangers. One of those guests proceeded to drink too much and ran over another guest, Andrew Ennabe (left), the Cal State Fullerton student.
Christopher Roupe, 17, was a ROTC student at at Woodland High School in Georgia who dreamed of serving his country in the Marines. That dream came to an end when he answered a knock on the door of his trailer home. He found himself face-to-face with Euharlee police officers who promptly shot him to death. An officer said that she saw a weapon in his hand. It turned out to be a Wii controller.
Police have finally arrested the “Catch Me If You Can” motorcyclist who taunted police with the video below showing him dangerously speeding through traffic at more than 100 miles per hour. He is Alberto Rodriguez, 26, who has (surprise) a criminal record and a demonstrated lack of judgment and self-preservation.
We have another highly disturbing case involving a police officer who abused and arrested a citizen for recording an encounter. I have previously written about the first amendment right to videotape officers. The courts have consistently upheld this right despite efforts of prosecutors like Anita Alvarez in Cook County to put citizens in jail for such recording. However, police officers continued to misrepresent the law and seize cameras or threaten citizens with arrest. In a cellphone recording (available here), Florida mother Brandy Berning is roughed up and arrested by Broward Sheriff Deputy William O’Brien after he tries to seize her cellphone as evidence of the crime of recording him.
Rep. Gail Finney, a Democrat from Wichita, has created a bit of a stir in Kansas with new legislation that would allow parents, teachers and caregivers to spank children hard enough to leave redness or bruising. While most parents assume that they already have such authority, Finney is worried that physical punishment and restraint is increasingly being viewed as a form of abuse. It raises an interesting question of whether societal standards have changed to the point that the old-time spanking is now a questionable practice from a legal perspective. Notably, the bill would actually limit the number and kind of spanks allowed to parents.
Remember former Chicago Representative Mel Reynolds? If you recall, he resigned from his congressional seat in 1995 after he was convicted of 12 counts of statutory rape, obstruction of justice and solicitation of child pornography. Well, he is back in the news after an arrest in Zimbabwe. You guessed it. He is charged with allegedly possessing pornographic material and violating immigration laws.
Believe or not, it has been 25 years since Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a death fatwa for Salman Rushdie — promising paradise and reward to anyone who killed the author simply because he wrote a book with what was viewed as blasphemous to Islam. For civil libertarians, it was a defining moment where Islam was pitted against the most basic and cherished values of free speech. The world was shocked by the decision even from the radical Iranian government. However, we have not heard much of the fatwa in years. Just to prove that the Islamic clerics remain as fanatical and anti-speech as they were in 1989, senior cleric Ahmad Khatami renewed the call to kill Rushdie and declared that the “historical fatwa” is “as fresh as ever.” What is clear is that, while the world views the fatwa as an example of religious extremism and insanity, the Islamic cleric remain proud of the death order as a pure expression of Islamic law and values.
by Charlton Stanley, Weekend Contributor
The Hawthorne, CA Police Department has a history of assaultive behavior toward the public. The department’s activities have been reported on this blog before. In one incident, Hawthorne officers Tasered an autistic child, then when his parents complained, they returned and arrested him a week later. Last year, the same Hawthorne Police arrested a man for videotaping them in a public space, then shot his dog when it ran to his side.
About a year ago, Jonathan Meister, a deaf man, was loading his car with some personal belongings, including his snowboarding equipment. There had been several robberies in the area recently. A neighbor yelled at him, but Meister, being deaf, did not hear the call-out, so the neighbor called the police. When the police arrived, the officers watched Meister as he carried some items into his car. When Meister saw the officers, he sat his boxes down and walked toward them, trying to use American Sign Language to let them know he is deaf.
By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor
Somewhere out there Mildred Loving must be smiling and wondering how things could change so much since 1967. You might recall Ms. Loving as the African-American and Virginia resident who had the audacity to marry a white man and then procreate in the Virginia of the 1960s. Charged with violating Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, an anti-miscegenation law which criminalized marriages between members of different races, the case was heard in Hanover Courthouse, where liberty’s most eloquent spokesman, Patrick Henry, once argued the famous Parson’s Case. Circuit Court Judge Leon Bazile, whose portrait still hangs in the hallway of the new courthouse, sentenced the couple to one year in prison suspended upon the condition they would leave their home state. In doing so, he announced to the world that Virginia would not step so quickly away from its historical racism:
Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.
by Charlton “Chuck” Stanley, Weekend Contributor
This morning, I had been working on another topic when my cell phone rang one time. I looked at the number on the caller ID, which came from 216-206-xxxx. I looked up the number on a internet reverse lookup service. The call “originated” in Euclid, OH. Except it didn’t. If I had called that number back, my call would have been re-directed to an offshore number, most likely in a Caribbean country.
So far, in the past week, I have received at least a half-dozen such calls. I did not think to write all the numbers down before deleting them from my phone.
By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
Utah Legislator Greg Hughes is proposing a law he believes will address successfully some of the DUI incidents that happen within the state. The proposal is in the working stage and has been under several revisions but in essence the device would be installed in bars under incentives from the state so that bar patrons may use the device to test their sobriety levels so that they may make informed choices on whether to drive or not. The measure includes an immunity from civil and criminal liability on bar owners if a customer’s breath alcohol level is high and the customer drives away and the data would not be available to law enforcement to provide a hesitation free attraction.
While the goal of the device is certainly laudable, could the devices be counter productive as indicated by experience with law enforcement breath test devices and their shortcomings?
International Humanist And Ethical Union Publishes Comprehensive Global Report On Athiest and Non-Religious Rights
Posted in Constitutional Law, Criminal law, Free Speech, International, Justice, Politics, Religion, Society, tagged Athiesm, Discrimination, Germany, Humanists, Iceland, Ireland, Laws of Nations, Liberty, Niger, non-religious, Religious Freedom, World Reports on 1, February 15, 2014 | 10 Comments »
Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
While many, primarily Islamic, countries have received much press regarding flagrant abuses of religious and non-religious persons or views, seven of which have death penalty offenses for crimes such as apostasy, the true impact for most of the worlds citizens are not as stark but can be often a suffer a form of punishment, repression and imprisonment of some kind for their beliefs.
The international Humanist and Ethical Union published a broad and comprehensive study of world governments listing laws, social constraints, and customs of government for nearly each nation. The study provides a deep insight into how even subtle restrictions on atheists and subscribers to differing religions or non-religions can have a chilling effect on the expressions of their citizens and it is often this subtlety that can become a form of suppression of dissent in surprising areas.
There is a creepy but provocative issue raised by an advertisement in Barcelona, Spain this month. The posters offered “abuse-free child pornography” that asked viewers to “Send us naked photos of when you were a child. For child pornography without abuse. +18 Yes to Pedophilia. No to Abuse.” The posters were later taken down, but they raise a challenging (if admittedly unsettling) legal question. If people are turning over pictures of themselves as children (without any prior abuse or sexual acts depicted), does it still constitute child pornography? Update: The articles on this story reported that the posters were displayed by JCDeaux, an advertising firm. However, I have communicated with a representative of the company who has stated that it had no role in the posters and “JCDecaux is investigating this unauthorized insertion of the poster in our bus shelter in Barcelona. We removed the poster as soon as we were made aware of it.”
Even as a former resident of New Orleans who truly loves the city, I have been a long critic of Nagin who I met a number of times through the years. I was mystified and irritated by the failure of the voters to toss out Nagin from office after his shameful performance during the Katrina disaster. Nagin was widely ridiculed for his virtual absence during the disaster as he stayed in his hotel room overlooking the city. Moreover, the national media fawned over the young, handsome mayor even as he made unhinged comments and pranced around like a prima donna. In the meantime, Nagin set out to profit from the disaster both politically and personally. Nevertheless, the voters of New Orleans reelected one of the worst mayors in the country as they sought federal funding for disaster relief. He is now a convicted belong after a jury found him guilty on 20 of 21 federal corruption counts, including bribery. It is one of the least surprising legal stories of the decade. His conviction should cause some in the Democratic party, in the media, and particularly among the voters of New Orleans to consider their own complicity in enabling this corrupt, narcissistic politician.
We recently discussed the decision by the Los Angeles district attorney not to charge officers who shot up a vehicle of an innocent man because they were acting in “an atmosphere of fear and extreme anticipation.”Officers were on edge in the search for cop-killer Christopher Dorner (right). We now have a decision in the shooting that proceeded the McGee case where eight Los Angeles police officers fired over 100 times. Margie Carranza, then 47, was cut by flying glass while her then 71-year-old mother, Emma Hernandez was shot in the back. You guessed it. No one will be fired or even suspended.
Woody Allen continues to be a virtual fountain of interesting criminal and civil cases. Over the weekend, Allen responded to an op-ed in the New York Times in which his adopted daughter, Dylan, 28, who accused him again of sexual abuse. In Allen’s responsive op-ed, he again denies the allegations and blames an overzealous prosecutor. While unnamed, it could only former Litchfield State’s Attorney Frank Maco. Now Maco is suggesting that he may now sue Allen for defamation.
Sometimes one has to acknowledge the possibility that there is a God . . . with a wicked sense of humor. In Iraq, a commander at a terrorist camp was teaching a class on suicide bombings with a belt packed with explosives. There is now an opening on the faculty after the instructor accidentally blew himself up with his suicidal students. It was a case of Publish
or And Perish.
Northern Virginia is reeling from the murder of a beloved music teacher, Ruthanne Lodato, 59, in her Alexandria home. I have a connection to the victim. We lived in Alexandria before moving to McLean and Ruthanne led the music class for three of my four children. It was a wonderful music class called Music Together Alexandria at the Del Ray United Methodist Church for toddlers. While I only knew her through the class years when my children were toddlers, Ruthanne was a wonderfully warm and giving person. We are all devastated by the news and the community has rallied around the effort to find the man shown in police sketches.
Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor
On February 7th, 2014, the sad reports were compiled from the deadly day before. On Thursday, February 6th, at least 24 people were shot and 14 of them were killed. Two of the dead were small children. The shootings and killings were from cities and towns all across the country. A 17 month old girl was accidentally shot by her 3 year old brother in North Carolina.
A 13-year-old was accidentally shot and killed while playing with a shotgun in the state of Washington. In Seattle, Washington, a man was shot and killed by a fellow tenant. A man in his 30′s was shot several times and critically wounded in Owasso, Oklahoma. A 18 year man was shot and killed at his uncle’s home in South Carolina. These and others were all wounded or killed by gunfire on February 6th, 2014. Just one sad day out of many. (more…)
By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor
A 2009 report by the National Research Council (NRC) passed quietly into the night (except in legal and forensic circles) while barely garnering more than a ripple in the public’s psyche. It should have been a tidal wave given news last December that a 48-year-old New Jersey man, Gerard Henderson, who spent 19 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, was done in by faulty crime lab work. Henderson was convicted largely on “bite mark” evidence. Bite mark evidence is a process used to exam indentations and anomalies on a victim’s body and ostensibly made by human teeth which are then matched to a defendant’s dentures in an effort to prove that he/she was the perpetrator of the crime. Convicted in 1995, Henderson proved that state testing of the bite marks on the back of 19-year-old victim, Monica Reyes, was deeply flawed and conducted without sufficient safeguards to insure its reliability.
Independent forensic scientists working for Project Innocence could not reproduce findings by the state crime lab which is the gold standard for scientific verifiability. Henderson became one of the more than two dozen people wrongfully convicted of rape or murder since 2000 as a direct result of flawed bite mark evidence analysis all duly attested to as accurate by the local crime lab.
Last week, I reported on the deliberate misfiling, destruction, and throwing away files at the Records Center in St. Louis. Although an audit showed several employees were outside normal limits for error rates, only two were serious enough to warrant charges.
As I described in the earlier story last week, one of the men, 28-year-old Lonnie Halkmon, entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of destruction of government records. Halkmon was sentenced to forty hours of community service and two years probation. He could have gotten up to six months in jail on that charge.
Engram was responsible for the destruction of more than a thousand records. He destroyed some of them, threw 241 away in the woods near the Center, and took others home with him where he tossed them in the trash.
By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor
Teen idol and Canadian citizen Justin Bieber just entered the consciousness of serious adults but it wasn’t for his singing or making their teenage daughters swoon. No, Justin set the world ablaze due to a pot smoke-filled airline cabin and a felony arrest for egging a neighbor’s house. And lest you think the American Congress has better things to do than follow the shenanigans of today’s latest pop star, think again. At least one senator has called for his deportation and an on-line petition to jump-start that process has gathered 100,000 signatures.
Members of Congress are shocked, shocked this week. No this Claude Rains moment was not over the hundreds of billions spent on unpopular wars or the creeping economy or the evisceration of civil liberties in America. No, that stuff is just fine. What had members struggling in front of reporters to avoid being sick in the halls of Congress was Edward Snowden. Yes, it is the latest classified hearing and the latest unclassified outrage to convince Americans that it is Snowden that they must fear despite polls saying that Americans fear their own government as much or more than terrorism. Thus, House Armed Services Committee members left the meeting and called again for Snowden to be captured and thrown in prison for life, if not executed. I previously wrote a column that a strong argument could be made for a presidential pardon, but the renewed effort to turn public opinion likely reflects a growing international view of Snowden as a whistleblower.
Clyde Ray Spencer, a former motorcycle patrolman, was secured a $9 million damage award from a federal jury after spending nearly two decades in jail on a fabricated case. The jury found that two of his colleagues at the police department fabricated evidence and possibly coached witnesses to convict him of sexually abusing his two children. Retired Clark County Police police Sgt. Michael Davidson and retired Detective Sharon Krause have been accused of the most serious violations in the case.