Archive for the ‘Justice’ 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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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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Submitted by Charlton (Chuck) Stanley, Weekend Contributor

This piece could easily have been titled, Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis (below, left) discovers the Streisand Effect.

Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis (Official Photo)

Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis
(Official Photo)

The same might be said of Peoria Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard. Sometime in February or early March, the Twitter account @Peoriamayor was created, with a picture and fake bio of Mayor Ardis. On or about March 10, the account was labeled a parody, clarifying that it was not really Jim Ardis’ account. That did not deter Ardis, who appears to be as thin-skinned as any politician we have seen recently. He recruited Police Chief Settingsgaard to track down whoever was behind the parody Twitter account.

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By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor

Zen Dharma Dog Bite Paralegal in Downtown Los Angeles Law Library Legal Research and Writing Law and Motion_fullMany courts have recognized the so-called emergency aid exception to the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against  warrantless searches, but the emergency usually had to involve a natural person. Now the highest court in Massachusetts has extended the doctrine to emergency aid in furtherance of animals. In Jan. 2011, Lynn police were called to the home of Heather Duncan based on neighbors’ reports of two dead dogs lying near her locked fence in her backyard. Two officers from the Lynn Police Department arrived and began to investigate the scene. Climbing a nearby snowbank, the officers saw two motionless dogs and another barking weakly.  No food or water was seen and according to the officers, the dogs appeared malnourished and in immediate distress. After trying  unsuccessfully to reach the homeowner, fire officials were called who promptly cut the fence lock and escorted the police onto the property. Two of the animals were indeed dead and the third was starving.

 Ms. Duncan was charged with three counts of animal cruelty. She defended the case based on her claim that the officers had unreasonably searched without a warrant and the fruit of their search was thus unconstitutional. No warrant, no dogs, no case went the defense.

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By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor

 

Well, will miracles never cease? In a church known for compelling confession from its followers, a remarkable one from its chief advocate came across the wires on Friday. That’s right, after decades of lying, obfuscating, blocking, destroying evidence and covering up in the most un-Christian way, Pope Francis has done what many Catholics hoped his predecessors would have done years ago — apologize AND beg forgiveness. Oh, lots of Popes apologize but it’s always with a condition … a term … a little euphemism about one bad apple not spoiling the great work of the barrel, or that the church’s pedophile problem isn’t really any worse than anybody else’s. (Really, every church has a decades old issue of unmarried priests molesting little boys and girls on an institutional level?) Or that it’s just American culture fueling the problem. (Damn justice seekers reading those beatitudes so literally!)

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

Unless you have been in a coma the last few weeks, you have probably heard of or read about the Hobby Lobby case recently argued in front of the United States Supreme Court.  Hobby Lobby is challenging a section of the Affordable Care Act that requires companies to provide medical insurance for their employees or pay a fine.  The mandate also requires the insurance to include coverage for contraception services.  Services that its owners claim violates their religious beliefs.

“…. the battle for its Christian identity was revived this week when lawyers for the company argued before the Supreme Court that the company should not have to comply with the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate. The issue, says Hobby Lobby co-founder Barbara Green, isn’t that the company wants to meddle with women’s rights to take contraceptive drugs. “We’re not trying to control that,” she said. “We’re just trying to control our participation in it.” ‘ Reader Supported News

Mrs. Green claims they are not trying to control their female employees use of contraceptives, but the network of causes that they are involved with seem to indicate that the Greens want to mix their religious views into everyone else’s business. (more…)

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Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Weekend Contributor

On the YouTube page that includes the following video, political cartoonist Mark Fiore said that it has been “amusing (and maddening) to watch various religious right characters scurry for cover.” He said that when no one was watching what they were doing, “the holier-than-thou set have been visiting Uganda preaching their extreme anti-gay views.” He added that since many people have become aware of and are “appalled” by Uganda’s new anti-gay law—which could mean life imprisonment for homosexuals—“the ‘evangelical’ right-wing preachers are laying low or rewriting history.”

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Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Weekend Contributor

Scott Lively, the head of Abiding Truth Ministries, is a resident of Springfield, Massachusetts. Lively is a controversial evangelical pastor known for having a homophobic agenda. He “specializes in stirring up anti-gay feeling around the globe.” When he was a young man, Lively said he had a “live and let live” attitude toward gays. Once a liberal, he admits that he was an alcoholic and a drug addict until he “got saved” in 1986. He says that since then his “focus has been to restore a biblical focus with regards to marriage and sexuality.”

Jack Rodolico (Latitude News) says that after coming to Christ, Lively began to view social issues “from God’s perspective”—and his “faith began to fuel the fire of his activism.” According to a report in the National Journal, “Lively became a lawyer, author, and advocate in pursuit of the cause.” In 1992, Lively got involved in Oregon’s Ballot Measure 9. That measure “would have amended the Oregon Constitution to summarily recognize ‘homosexuality, pedophilia, sadism and masochism as abnormal, wrong, unnatural and perverse.’” Rodico reported that Oregon voters denied Lively and his anti-gay colleagues a victory—but only after “an ugly political battle ensued.” Rodico said that the defeat left a lasting impression on Lively.

BALLOT MEASURE 9

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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Idaho State Police Shoulder PatchAccording to Courthouse News an Idaho state trooper arrested and searched a 70-year-old Washington man solely because of his license plate from Colorado, where marijuana is legal, the man claims in a federal lawsuit.

Darien Roseen lives in Washington and has a second home in Colorado. He was driving east on I-84 the morning of Jan. 25, 2013, and had just crossed the Idaho-Oregon Border, when he passed Idaho State Police Trooper Justin Klitch, who was in the median observing eastbound traffic. “Immediately after Mr. Roseen passed his location, Trooper Klitch pulled out from the Interstate median, rapidly accelerating to catch up with Mr. Roseen’s vehicle,” according to the 25-page complaint. Roseen, who is retired from Weyerhauser, says he changed from the right lane to the left, and exited the Interstate to a designated rest area. Klitch followed him to the parking lot, which Roseen says made him “uncomfortable,” though “he did not perceive that he had done anything wrong.”

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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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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

California Senate SealAccording to an article in the Associated Press the California Senate voted Friday to suspend three lawmakers caught up in separate criminal cases after the latest one to be hauled into court refused to step down, the most serious house-cleaning action the chamber has taken in more than a century.

Friday’s 28-1 vote in the 40-member chamber came amid one of the most severe ethical crises in modern times for the Legislature in the nation’s most populous state. Later in the day, Gov. Jerry Brown also called on the three lawmakers to resign.

The resolution prevents Democratic Senators Ron Calderon and Leland Yee, who face federal corruption charges, and Democratic Sen. Rod Wright, who is awaiting sentencing in a voter fraud case, from exercising any power of their office until the criminal cases against them have been resolved. Even so, they will continue receiving their $95,291 annual salaries. Senator Leland Yee was the subject of an article on the Jonathan Turley website HERE

The actions of the California Senate is laudable in many ways, but is this also a sign of a greater or endemic problem in the California legislature and formerly lax oversight of some unsavory dealings of legislators?

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Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Walling Off Warsaw GhettoThere is an interesting article in Deutsche Welle describing the plight of forced laborers interned in Nazi ghettos such as that in Warsaw and other cities. Many of those persons are making pension claims before the German government due to their assertion they were de facto employees of the German government at the time. Eventually the German government, made provisions to facilitate receipts of pension, the bureaucratic process unfortunately led to years delays and denials, with as a consequence either intentionally or unintentionally led to the government having less of a pension liability due to the aging population passing away.
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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw) Weekend Contributor

If the title of this piece shocks you, I apologize.  On second thought, I won’t apologize for asking a legitimate question about a prominent politician who has made his proposals to harm the poor and middle class and give tax cuts to the wealthy his calling card in the conservative movement. Recently, Rep. Ryan made a statement about the people who inhabit the inner city claiming that those residents are less than motivated to work for a living.

‘ “Paul Ryan triggered a firestorm of recrimination this week. Speaking recently on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America radio program, the Wisconsin Republican and self-styled budget wonk linked poverty to “this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work.” ‘ Bill Moyers

It seems obvious to me who Paul Ryan is talking about here. What do you think he is saying here?    Of course, Mr. Ryan tried to walk back from the statements, but how can you unring this bell? (more…)

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by Charlton “Chuck” Stanley, Weekend Contributor

115px-CA_-_Oakland_PoliceThe city of Oakland has entered into an agreed order to pay former Marine and two-tour Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen $4.5 million. This is, as lawyers say, “to make him whole.” Unfortunately, Scott will never be whole again. The night of October 25, 2011 he was shot in the head by a police officer using a shotgun loaded with a “non-lethal” beanbag. Upon being hit, the former Marine went down like a sack of potatoes. His skull was fractured, he was bleeding heavily and his neck was broken.
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By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor

AP090422054982.jpgWell, Captain Phillips hit the small screen at the end of January and the DVD supposedly captures everything good in America. Courageous sea-captain battles ruthless Somali pirates to save crew and cargo bound for parts unknown. Navy sharpshooters end hostage stand-off with might and right. Danish shipping line, Maersk, vindicated for its caution in protecting its freight. All hunky dory!  Hunky, that is , until you start asking why are all those Maersk container ships floating oh so near the coast of East Africa and into harm’s way. Well, a significant number of them are carrying food aid from the U.S. to the nutrition-deprived people on the African continent and getting a hefty above-market price in return.  Still, you must ask, what’s wrong with that — corporate citizen conducting a business that helps people and makes a profit for its shareholders. All’s right with the world, everyone must agree. Not every one.

A new article in Foreign Policy Magazine details the intense fight Maersk Lines is waging in the halls of Congress to scuttle a key feature of this year’s farm bill. That provision would likely feed a conservatively estimated 2-4 million more souls and perhaps up to 10 million. Yet, Maersk and its flotilla of lobbyists is fighting it tooth and nail. To understand why, you have to understand the basis and process of America’s food aid program and acquaint yourself with the history.

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

This session the record is 7-1.  Since October of 2011, the record is 28 wins and 4 losses. That is a record that any team would be proud of and evidence of a significant amount of work and effort to improve its performance on the court.  However, I am not talking about any particular basketball team currently involved in March Madness and the upcoming NCAA Men’s Basketball tourney.

I am talking about the record a team called The United States Chamber of Commerce has in cases it has argued or filed a brief in front of the Supreme Court.  Even Coach K or Coach Izzo would be jealous of that record. (more…)

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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Mary RootIn an outrageous lack of discretion,  some members in the animal control and court system in Havre de Grace, Maryland put 81 year old great grandmother Mary Root through a harrowing ordeal.

Mary Root says her pets somehow got loose from her yard several times. A neighbor took pictures of the dogs running down the street and reported her to Animal Control.
The agency slapped Root with a $7,000 fine or she could spend nearly a year in jail.

“I’m struggling to pay my house taxes. I couldn’t pay it. It’s a different thing when you leave your dogs out and you don’t care. But I do care,” Root said. But when the cancer survivor failed to show up at court on her doctor’s orders, a judge had Root arrested.

She was booked, fingerprinted and issued a striped jumpsuit. She waited to see a judge in a cell without her cancer medication.
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Entreating the Godfather

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Due to the close of the legislative session, the various families in the legislature were not able to agree how to put the Medical Marijuana industry out of business. Bosses at the Liquor Control Board and the two prominent political families worked all session to preserve the state’s business interests in the Recreational Marijuana Racket, with its excessive taxation and protection.

This had the potential to force medical marijuana patients to give up their medical privacy, pay more for their medicine, and force the medical dispensaries out of business. This in the hope of shunting people in to the state sponsored highly taxed recreational marijuana racket. Luckily for now, the bill is dead.
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By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor

Caught By Computer? Scotty Patterson

Caught By Computer? Scottie Patterson

Lucky or just good? That’s what police in Madison, Wisconsin are wondering after crime analyst,  Caleb Klebig, successfully predicted the date and time of Scottie T. Patterson’s, 28, latest and last bank heist. Using data from other similar robberies, Klebig estimated that the then unknown Patterson would hit his next bank on a Wednesday or Thursday between 2 and  7 p.m. He narrowed the field of potential targets to five banks in greater Madison. Police staked out the banks and, sure enough, Patterson arrived right on cue at  2:40 p.m. on Wednesday.  Confronted by the seemingly omniscient detectives while exiting the bank with the loot, Patterson made a break for it but was captured behind a nearby shopping center. (more…)

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

As the son of a fallen Air Force pilot whose remains were never found, I am sensitive to the plight of family members of servicemen and women whose remains may be recoverable, but yet are still not identified.  There are multiple military and defense department agencies who are responsible for locating and identifying the remains of veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam and Cold War missions.

The purpose of this article is to examine the efforts of just one of those agencies.  The Joint Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command, or J-PAC, is an example of an agency that is crucial to both locating and identifying remains, but because of bureaucratic constraints, outdated methods and the possible stubbornness of its scientific head, has produced very little results at a very expensive cost to the taxpayers. (more…)

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Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Text MessagingIn two precedent setting rulings, the Washington Supreme Court expanded the privacy expectation of text messages on both statutory and unlawful search and seizure grounds.

Washington’s Supreme Court Ruled on February 27th the people have a right to privacy in text messages even if the person cannot be certain someone is reading them the court held. In State v. Jonathan Nicholas Roden the defendant asked the court to decide whether Washington’s privacy act protects text messages intercepted by a detective who possessed the intended recipient’s cell phone after a warrantless seizure. In State v. Hinton the court held that a text message conversation was a “Private Affair” protected from warrantless searches as enacted in Article I Section 7 of the Washington Constitution.
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JoshMillerArkansasSubmitted by Elaine Magliaro, Weekend Contributor

Last week, I wrote a post about Josh Miller (Not All Needy People Are As Deserving As Others), a young Republican state legislator from Heber Springs, Arkansas. Miller, who was paralyzed more than a decade ago in a catastrophic car accident, has been able to live a productive life due to the medical benefits he has received from both Medicare and Medicaid. Yet, this young state senator has spoken out against Medicaid expansion in Arkansas. Some of us find his stance on this issue to be hypocritical.

This past Tuesday, lawmakers in Arkansas voted to continue allowing the state “to use Medicaid dollars to buy private health-care insurance for poorer residents, overcoming resistance from some Republicans who said the program amounted to an endorsement of the Affordable Care Act.” According to the Wall Street Journal, Arkansas became the first state “to offer a ‘private option’ to extend coverage to lower-income residents…” Supporters of the program saw the private option “as a way to accept federal dollars and cut the number of uninsured residents without enlarging Medicaid.”

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Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend ContributorEastside Catholic Church Logo

Mark Zmuda announced he is suing Eastside Catholic school and the Seattle Archdioceses for wrongful termination after he legally married his male partner. The case stems from his employment as vice-principal to the school was satisfactory for years and that after he announced he had married his male partner, he was given an ultimatum to divorce his spouse or his employment with the school would be terminated. Mark refused to divorce and was fired.

Employment Attorney, Jeffrey Needle, stated the case is likely to go to the appellate courts and potential the state supreme court for its precedent setting nature. The church counters Mark’s claim, proffering its status as a religious organization which holds tenets that bar gay marriage. However, a recent state supreme court decision might prove difficult for the church to support that position.
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Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Weekend Contributor

Mark Fiore said he was thankful that Governor Jan Brewer vetoed Arizona’s “religious freedom” bill last week. If the bill became law, Fiore said, it “would’ve given people carte blanche to discriminate against gay people (and others, for that matter).” Fiore also said what he found most baffling about the whole thing was the existence of a state legislature that would pass such a bill.

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Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

California Assembly SealPrompted by public outcry into Los Angeles area Centinela Valley School District’s extreme 2013 Superintendent compensation of $633,000.00 that included a $910,000.00 mortgage at half market rate and a million dollar fully funded whole life insurance policy California Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, who chairs the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on education Finance, said Assembly Bill 2710 would ensure greater transparency and accountability, in part by requiring all local school districts to post the employment contracts of their superintendents online.
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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…)

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By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor

maeso-hepatitis-valencia_thumbBespectacled 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.

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JoshMillerArkansasSubmitted by Elaine Magliaro, Weekend Contributor

Meet Josh Miller. He’s a young Republican state legislator from Heber Springs, Arkansas. He took office in 2013. Miller also manages a rental property business. More than a decade ago, he was paralyzed when he broke his neck in a catastrophic car accident. Fortunately, Miller hasn’t been confined to an unproductive life because of his accident and subsequent paralysis.

More about Miller from the Arkansas Times:

Miller, 33, was on an alcohol-fueled drive with a friend about 11 years ago (he can’t remember who was driving) when their pickup plunged off a ravine near Choctaw. He was rescued, but suffered a broken neck and was paralyzed. Miller was uninsured. What young, fit man needs health insurance, he thought then. (He had some reason to know better. Not long before, he’d broken his hand in a fight and had to refuse the recommended surgery to fix the injuries properly because he was uninsured.)

Months of hospitalization and rehabilitation followed, including a long stretch in intensive care at St. Vincent Infirmary. There was a $1 million bill. Medicaid paid most of it. Miller was placed on disability and checks began. In time, between Medicaid and Medicare, all his health costs were covered by the federal government. For that reason, he need not be among the 82 Arkansas legislators (61 percent of the body) who enjoy heavily subsidized and comprehensive state employee health insurance.

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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…)

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by Charlton Stanley, Weekend Contributor

Hawthorne CA Police DepartmentThe 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.

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

Is there anything more fundamental to a democracy or democratic republic then the ability of its citizens to vote for their representatives at every level of government?  The privilege or as many state, the right to vote is essential for citizens to control who is running the local and state and national governments and controlling what direction they want their community and country to go in.

As I write this article, there are groups and indeed, national political parties attempting to restrict the right to vote and restrict the early voting opportunities and attempting to restrict the ability of registered citizens to vote at all.  In the past few national elections, we all witnessed the horror stories of people waiting for hours in line to vote on election day.  Instead of increasing early voting days and installing additional voting machines in crowded precincts, just the opposite seems to be happening.  (more…)

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Submitted By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

FHP Stops MHP officerMany are aware of the incident in October of 2011 when the Florida Highway Patrol stopped a speeding Miami Police Department vehicle operating without emergency equipment, weaving through traffic and reaching speeds up to 120 MPH. The MPD officer driving claimed to be late for an off-duty assignment at an area school. The police officer was eventually fired by Miami PD. Dash-cam video was uploaded to Youtube and witnessed by many. The incident also made national headlines. The Miami PD officer involved had no emergent or law enforcement justification for driving at this speed and doing so without emergency lighting is considered hazardous. Dash-cam video quotes the trooper as saying one of the reasons for her concern was that a day prior a police vehicle was stolen and was involved in a tragic incident.

Now the Florida Highway Patrol Trooper, Donna Jane Watts, has filed a civil suit against several officers and police agencies alleging her driver license information had been unlawfully accessed and that she had been subjected to harassment by other law enforcement officers due the incident involving the Miami Police Department officer.
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By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor

Mildred_Richard_Loving_1967Somewhere 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.

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Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Humanist EmblemWhile 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.
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220px-Houston_Gun_Show_at_the_George_R__Brown_Convention_Center

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…)

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By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor

Forensic-Science-S_2132330bA 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.

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National Record Center St Louisby Charlton “Chuck” Stanley, Weekend Contributor

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.

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400px-Rahm_Emanuel,_official_photo_portrait_color

Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)–Weekend Contributor

In the years since the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War began, there have been some sizeable protests and demonstrations, but not quite to the level seen during the Vietnam War.  We have seen several significant protests during various economic and political summits and conventions in the United States and around the world, but they have been met with severe police crackdowns.  The Occupy Movement is one example of a long-term protest that on more than one occasion suffered through severe police restrictions and in some cases, brutal police tactics.

In response to the 9/11 attacks, the United States passed so-called anti-terror legislation that many claim have usurped and restricted personal liberties.  However, several  states also jumped on that bandwagon and passed their own anti-terror legislation. The State of Illinois is one of the states that passed its own anti-terror legislation and the use of that legislation prior to the NATO Summit meetings held in Chicago on May 20 and 21st, in 2012 is currently being litigated right now in Chicago in a criminal case brought against 3 protestors known as the NATO 3 under the Illinois anti-terror statute. (more…)

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By Charlton Stanley, Weekend Contributor

NSA logo smallLast Sunday, former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden was interviewed for the German television network ARD.  The interview was big news in Germany and much of the world in both print and broadcast media. However, the interview appears to have been blocked intentionally by US government authorities. In fact, the media in the US appears to have gone to ‘radio silence’ about it. It has been posted on YouTube several times, but is taken down almost immediately.  The video site Vimeo has it embedded, but as I write this, Vimeo is under a DDoS attack.  LiveLeak also has it, and that video is embedded in this report by Jay Syrmopoulos for  Ben Swann’s news page.

Mr. Snowden spoke candidly in a thirty-minute English language interview with the reporter from ARD.

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By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor

Mary-Willingham-UNCUniversity of North Carolina  clinical instructor and academic advisor Mary Willingham got a reprieve of sorts last week. UNC Chancellor Carol Folt admitted for the first time to the school’s board of trustees that the university had “failed students for years” by offering bogus classes, forging professors’ names and changing grades to keep athletes eligible. Jettisoning the party line that 2012′s scandal in the African and Afro-American Studies Department which resulted in an indictment against a UNC professor for fraud was merely an isolated instance, Folt said “We also accept the fact that there was a failure in academic oversight for years that permitted this to continue.This, too, was wrong. And it has undermined our integrity and our reputation.”

Ya think?

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By Charlton Stanley, Weekend Contributor

National Record Center St LouisThe National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis County, MO is the repository of millions of personnel, health, and medical records of discharged and deceased veterans of all services during the 20th century. Records from before WWI are kept in Washington, DC. The Center also stores and maintains the records of dependents and other persons treated at medical facilities owned and operated by the US military.

Or at least it’s supposed to.

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By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor

Clementia with her sister goddess, Justice

Clementia with her sister goddess, Justice

Julius Cæsar built a temple to her memory and commissioned statuary depicting the Roman conqueror strolling amiably hand-in-hand with the goddess.  Augustus cited her name in pardoning Cinna for plotting an assassination attempt to install  himself as ruler of Rome. Legend has it that Augustus’ wife, Livia, reminded the emperor that violent retribution against his enemies had not deterred their incessant murderous plotting and thus a new tactic was warranted. It must have worked well as Cinna went on the next year to be named consul and reportedly  left all his possessions to Augustus in his will. The act of mercy also earned  the Roman strongman an undying reputation among the people as the “good emperor.” For citizens of the ancient Italian city-state, Clementia was the ugly goddess murdered for being too rotund and not fitting the Olympian image of health and vigor. She was something else as well — the embodiment of mercy, restraint, forbearance and  humanity. What we still call today the virtue of clemency.

I read Thursday that the USDOJ had decided to ask for the death penalty in its case against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the alleged

The Alleged Bomber

The Alleged Bomber

Boston Marathon bomber. Tsarnaev is charged with one of the most horrific acts of wanton brutality ever committed on American soil when he and his brother loaded two backpacks full of shrapnel and high explosives and placed them behind the  appendages of kids and adults watching the Boston City Marathon on Tax Day, 2013. Killing three and horribly wounding 260 in callous savagery few could match, the now 20-year-old’s record of mayhem and senseless violence has resulted in a capital charge of premeditated murder by means of terrorism.

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Submitted by Darren Smith: Weekend Contributor

BreadMaricopa County Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now placing inmates suspected of desecration of flags posted inside county jails on a bread and water meal plan for two of the meals each day. Sheriff Arpaio states:

“These inmates have destroyed the American flag that was placed in their cells. Tearing them, writing on them, stepping on them, throwing them in the toilet, trash or wherever they feel,” Arpaio said in a statement. “It’s a disgrace to those who have fought for our country.”

Is this a fitting punishment for 21st Century American Corrections?
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Submitted by Darren Smith, Guest Contributor

Washington Legislative BuildingThe Washington State House of Representatives have crafted House Bill 2272 titled “The Fourth Amendment protection act” with the purported purpose of protecting state citizens from unwarranted collection of data that is provided to various agencies of the United States government without a search warrant. The act includes provisions that allow for a citizen to be arrested for complying with the U.S. government and sanctions local agencies and employees with even harsher penalties. One has to wonder which is a greater threat to individual liberty, the actions of the federal agencies targeted or this potential state law.
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755px-Jamie_Dimon,_CEO_of_JPMorgan_Chase

Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty-Weekend Blogger

In the past we have discussed the allegedly illegal and fraudulent practices of the Big Banks that helped bring the economy into Recession, but until now, we have not seen such a blatant example of how it pays for Big Banks to break the rules and get ahead at the same time.  As you may recall, JP Morgan Chase Bank recently agreed to a $13 Billion dollar settlement with the Justice Department for allegedly defrauding customers.  That sounds like a big number, but that was only part of the total fines and penalties JP Morgan Chase was liable to pay in 2013 due to its less than honorable business practices.

It may surprise you that after agreeing to the $13 Billion settlement and having to pay other large fines, the CEO of Chase is getting a big raise. An $8.5 Million dollar raise! (more…)

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By Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor

11860837

The Eager To Oblige William Marotta Must Be Wondering If It’s Oz or Kansas

William Marotta is proving Groucho Marx right.  “It isn’t necessary to have relatives in Kansas City* in order to be unhappy, ” Marx quipped in a letter. The classic comedienne may have just been on to something as Marotta has been ordered by a Kansas court to pay support for a child he fathered in Topeka as part of a private artificial insemination contract.

Even though Marotta signed the  contract waiving any legal rights to the child, Shawnee County District Court Judge Mary Mattivi said he must still pay support because the artificial insemination was performed without the involvement of a licensed Kansas physician. The story began– as so many strange ones do  –with an ad on Craig’s List in March 2009 seeking donated sperm. (Wonder if it was in the “free” section?). The authors of the ad were a lesbian couple in Topeka who desperately wanted a child and needed a donor of genetic material.

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By Darren Smith, Weekend Blogger

Congressional SealRecently, several high ranking members of the U.S. Congress have made public statements voicing proffering NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden might have had assistance from a foreign power, namely Russia. The announcements have been contemporaneous with President Obama’s speech about the NSA and reforms he proposes. While it has not been proven decisively if Edward has or has not one has to wonder what the intentions of such announcements by Congress are and if these announcements are consistent with others who have been alleged to be acting at the behest of foreign powers and if this is more propaganda than standard counter-intelligence practices.
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By Mike Appleton, Weekend Blogger

In 1882 a man named John Kirchbaum submitted a patent application for a device which, when properly attached to a coffin, permitted the presumed deceased person to communicate to those on the surface that the burial had been premature. That someone would consider the erroneous pronouncement of death sufficiently common to support a market for such products strikes one as peculiar today, but the fear of possibly being buried alive was genuine in the 18th and 19th centuries. Until quite recently, after all, a determination of death was made solely by observation. Was the subject breathing? Did he have a heart beat? Under the common law, death was in fact defined as the irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions.

But in the 20th century two revolutions in medical technology changed attitudes and definitions. The first was the invention of the mechanical ventilator, originally intended to help patients breathe during surgery. The second was the development of anti-rejection drugs and their impact on the science of organ transplantation. The medical community quickly came to realize that continuing to provide oxygen to a deceased person greatly improved the viability of organs needed for transplant purposes. These advances created an obvious ethical and legal dilemma. A living person may agree to donate a kidney to save another’s life because we have two of them. However, other vital organs may only be removed upon the donor’s death. And if respiration is maintained to preserve organs after the donor has “died,” what has happened to our traditional definition of death? How can a person be deemed deceased if his or her breathing is being mechanically maintained?

The answer to the dilemma was the concept of “brain death,” the irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain. In 1968 a study committee at the Harvard Medical School created a set of guidelines indicative of what was termed “irreversible coma”: the persistence over a period of 24 hours of a set of conditions including absence of spontaneous breathing or movement, fixed and dilated pupils, unresponsiveness and the absence of reflexes. Twelve years later the National Conference of Commissioners of Uniform State Laws proposed the Uniform Determination of Death Act, which defines death as either “(1) irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions, or (2) irreversible cessation of all functions of the entire brain, including the brain stem.”

The Uniform Determination of Death Act was approved by the AMA in the fall of 1980 and by the ABA early the following year. Since then it has been adopted by 37 states and the District of Columbia. Of the remaining states that have not formally adopted the UDDA, most have incorporated its definition of brain death into their statutes. It is clearly the prevailing law on the issue in this country.

And that brings us to the case of Marlise Munoz.

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