Archive for the ‘Testimony’ Category

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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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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260px-capitol_building_full_viewThis morning I will testifying in Congress before the House Judiciary Committee on “The President’s Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws.” The hearing will address areas where President Obama has ordered the delay or nonenforcement of federal laws. While I happen to agree with some of these policies, I have great reservations about this record and its implications for the separation of powers.

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger

The five alleged 9/11 defendants currently being held at Guantanamo Bay where they have been detained since 2006, are currently preparing their defenses for trials that are scheduled for September 2014.  All five defendants have been subjected to what the United States government called enhanced interrogation techniques at CIA black sites even before they got to Gitmo. (more…)

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Submitted by Charlton Stanley (aka Otteray Scribe), Guest Blogger

“If you’ve got ‘em by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.”
- Lyndon Baines Johnson, 36th President of the United States.

Town of Edwards, MSI should have known something was up. I came home from work one day and my wife met me at the door. “Somebody broke into Curtescine’s house and tried to rape her.” Curtescine Lloyd was one of the nurses on the oncology floor at the hospital. Curtescine lived in Edwards MS, a small bedroom community just a few miles west of where we lived.

Shocked, I asked if there was any word on whether she was hurt, and did we need to go to the hospital. My wife responded, “Not exactly.”

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Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

400px-Elizabeth_Loftus-TAM_9-July_2011I’d only planned to write one guest blog this weekend, but this morning on Huffington Post I saw a video from a TED lecture. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TED_%28conference%29  The lecture was from Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Loftus  who has been studying false memories since the 1970’s. She links what she discovered with one of the failings of our Criminal Justice System, with the false memories reported in court. This is an 18 minute lecture but it is well worth your time and bears directly on the topics we discuss here on the Law Blog. I must note that in it she is critical of certain psychotherapy techniques and I am a psychotherapist. Despite my training and profession I believe her critiques are on point and illustrate one of the problems inherent in some psychotherapies. For any readers that are interested in our legal system and who care about its problems, viewing this will represent time well spent.  My technical skills are such that I don’t know how to properly make the video appear in WordPress but if you click on the following link you will be able to see it:     Mystery of Memory 

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

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Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

287px-Sing_SingWe have had a lot of discussions here about the ever growing private prison system in the United States, where our country has become the world leader in imprisoning its citizens. Many blogs have been written discussing our world prison leadership and the fact that it stems from the failed “War on Drugs”, which has tended to focus on people in poverty and/or people of color. The for-profit prison industry has had a growth spurt that can be directly traced to that aspect of the conservative movement that has disparaged government services and at the same time pushed for privatization of government services using the false concept that private industry can do it better and cheaper. It is an ideas that to me seems nonsensical on its face because of the absolute need that private industry turns a profit and in today’s economic scheme that profit has to continually rise as time passes. Business strategy, which by definition, must focus on profit has focused on cutting costs as a means of building profit. Cutting costs then devolves into hiring less skilled workers, cutting down on services provided and in a business like private prisons reducing the quality of care. When ot comes to reduction of services and diminishing of quality of care when it comes to the prison industry, I’m sure that the majority of public opinion would approve of even more draconian measures. After all those convicted of a crime are generally scorned and feared. Muscular fundamentalist philosophy has discarded the Jesus of turn the other cheek into a Jesus of vengeance and so there is even in some circles moral approval of treating prison inmates harshly. There is now a widespread use of solitary confinement as a tool of prison punishment and that confinement has stretched from weeks, too months and too years. We are after all, a society that has a majority of Americans for torture in our post 9/11 era.

In 2008 we saw the opening of a scandal in Pennsylvania where it was discovered that juvenile court judges were sentencing youths to prison for minor offenses because they had received money from sources in the private prison industry. Two judges were convicted in this case and it was seen that many youths were adversely affected and are now suing for unlawful imprisonment. It is this profiting on the imprisonment of youth that I would like to address broadly in this blog. For the most part my reference links will appear at its conclusion. This is a very disturbing problem that I think cuts to the heart of what kind of society we want to live in and I would hope that others find this as disturbing as I do. (more…)

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

iphone_fingerprintThe iPhone 5s allows the user to unlock their device using biometric data, namely their fingerprint. It is more convenient that typing in a simple four digit passcode. Fingerprint readers vary in vulnerability. Some only check ridges and can be fooled by a good photocopy. The iPhone reader uses radio frequency scanning to detect sub-epidermal layers of your skin requiring the owner to be alive and the finger attached. The new fingerprint reader may protect your iPhone from thieves, but what about protecting your personal data from government snooping?

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Submitted By: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

Junior_Seau_2Football fans around the nation are feeling the excitement grow as we again approach the NFL Football season. They are avidly watching their favorite team’s pre-season games, checking out the new rookies and preparing for their various fantasy football leagues by analyzing league rosters. NFL Football has become the preferred sport of the country and generates many billions of dollars. It is our budding empire’s version of the gladiator battles in the various Roman Coliseums that were spread across the Empire as a palliative to an enslaved populace. While it is true that the Roman Gladiator battles usually ended only by the death and dismemberment of the “losers”, the news of the physical and mental costs to pro football players has begun to receive more publicity of late. This is due to the realization of the lasting damage done by football head trauma referred to broadly as concussions. As someone who has watched the National Football League for perhaps 60 years the idea of a concussion is one that is intertwined with the sport itself. For much of that time while it was discussed openly by the game announcers, analysts and sports journalists, in truth they all made light of them and players themselves would cheerfully discuss “getting clocked” or “having their bell rung.” The players thus injured who would insist on returning to the game were seen as “real men” and “heroes” for their fortitude. Then too coaches concerned with winning would tell them to “man up” and their teammates opprobrium for them “relaxing” on the sidelines would add peer pressure to continue to play even through their disorientation and head pain.

As the sport grew and outpaced baseball as the nation’s “national pastime,” like the gladiators of old players became heroes with nationwide celebrity. Many noted how some retired players from era’s past seemed to die relatively early in life, especially considering that to play football one must be an excellent physical specimen. As fans we were also aware how many of our heroes’ sustained injuries that in their retirement rendered them somewhat physically disabled for life, but merely made passing note of this reality, rather than feel discomfort at what this violent sport was doing to those who played it for our entertainment. The truth is that football fans and football professionals celebrated the violence of the game, even while shedding “crocodile tears” for player carted off the field with terrible injuries. Coaches and players talked about the exultation one felt when they made a jarring hit upon another player. It was common in interviews for players to talk of the joy they felt “making contact”, a minor euphemism for hitting or being hit with jarring intensity. We are to my way of thinking no more evolved than those Roman Citizens who would excitedly vote “thumbs down” on whether a losing gladiator should receive the killing blow. Our social norms require that we “feel sad” about a terrible injury, but if it occurs to an opposing player and affects our teams prospects, only the most unaware would deny that in the back of their mind they are calculating what this injury will mean. Our consciences are salved by the fact that many football players get paid enormous sums of money for their skills and so from a legal perspective one might say there is an assumption of risk. I want to examine this “assumption of risk” and discuss the implications that it has for NFL, the players and for us the fans. (more…)

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Submitted by Charlton Stanley (Otteray Scribe), guest blogger

Dr. Isaac Ray

Dr. Isaac Ray

The relationship between mental health and the legal system is a turbulent one at best. One major problem is they speak two different languages. For example, insanity is a legal term found nowhere in any psychiatric or psychological diagnostic manual.

There are several key words used commonly by both professions, but which have quite different meanings. The words “validity” and “reliability” are part of the vocabulary of science. To a scientist, the word validity means that a test measures what it claims to measure. When a test is intended to measure depression or anxiety, the user can assume it measures depression and anxiety.

Reliability refers to the repeatability of a test or measurement. If we give the same test to the same subject several times, all the scores will fall within the standard error of measurement 95% of the time.

When an attorney uses the word validity, it means, Binding; possessing legal force or strength; legally sufficient.

The legal interpretation of the word reliability suggests the subject matter is trustworthy, and that one can rely on it. However, when a scientist says something is reliable, it means whatever is being tested will get the same results with every retest, within the Standard Error of Measurement.

An examination of the literature of both professions reminds us of the quip attributed to George Bernard Shaw, “[We] are two peoples divided by a common language.”

When I was in graduate school, a well-known attorney gave an invited lecture to the student body. The speaker made several sweeping generalizations about the mentally ill; all of them displaying a stunning ignorance of facts. Then he turned his venom on those in the mental health professions, referring to mental health professionals scornfully as, “Soul doctors.” I would like to say people like him are rare, but they are not. I have known judges who, quite literally, did not believe in mental illness. We had one of those in our area who, mercifully, retired a few years ago.  People like that remind me of those misogynistic knuckle-draggers who don’t believe there is such a thing as rape.

Now, back to the stormy relationship between the legal system and mental illness.

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

136px-US-FBI-ShadedSealAt a time when recording a conversation is as easy as whipping out a cellphone or iPod, the FBI policy on electronic recording of witness interviews is: “agents may not electronically record confessions or interviews, openly or surreptitiously, unless authorized by the SAC or his or her designee.” Instead FBI agents take notes and later type up a summary report called a form 302. The interview takes place with two FBI agents and the single interviewee. The FBI has eschewed the objective for the subjective.

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Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

220px-Richard_NixonIn 1964, during Barry Goldwater’s race for the White House, a book became a runaway best seller and it was titled “None Dare Call It Treason”. Its’ premise, typical of the thinking of many of that time, was that the United States was being sold out to Communism by its “liberal elites” who were pro-communist and thus wanted the USSR to win the “Cold War”. As the title clearly illustrates the book’s author, John A. Stormer, believed that the “elite” were traitors, liberal of course, who were so powerful that their “treasonous actions” couldn’t be challenged. I remember the popularity of the book at that time and how many who supported Barry Goldwater were believers in the books veracity. Goldwater himself seemed to be echoing Stormer’s theme of rooting out pro Communists in his Convention speech which produced the memorable phrase: “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” It is thus a meme that in many different ways has been played and re-played through our Country’s history by those of a more Conservative persuasion. That meme is that the true American patriots are those who are of Right Wing political persuasion. (more…)

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Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

200px-JMR-Memphis1While I’m not a lawyer, I do write for this legal blog by the invitation of its creator Jonathan Turley. I first arrived on the scene here many years ago because since the age of ten I have had been interested in the nature of the broad spectrum of civil rights issues faced by this country. My interest became an obsession at the age of ten. My parents, who were quite liberal, allowed me to stay up way past my bedtime to watch Ed Murrow bravely attack Sen. Joseph McCarthy for his Communist Witch Hunt, by documenting the anti-constitutional excesses he used to destroy people’s lives and careers. Months later they kept me home from school to watch the Army/McCarthy Hearings which directly led to McCarthy’s downfall. On our twelve inch, black and white TV I watched this famous scene:

“On June 9, 1954, the 30th day of the Army–McCarthy hearings, McCarthy accused Fred Fisher, one of the junior attorneys at Welch’s law firm, of associating while in law school with the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), a group which J. Edgar Hoover sought to have the U.S. Attorney General designate as a Communist front organization. Welch had privately discussed the matter with Fisher and the two agreed Fisher should withdraw from the hearings. Welch dismissed Fisher’s association with the NLG as a youthful indiscretion and attacked McCarthy for naming the young man before a nationwide television audience without prior warning or previous agreement to do so:

“Until this moment, Senator, I think I have never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Fred Fisher is a young man who went to the Harvard Law School and came into my firm and is starting what looks to be a brilliant career with us. Little did I dream you could be so reckless and so cruel as to do an injury to that lad. It is true he is still with Hale and Dorr. It is true that he will continue to be with Hale and Dorr. It is, I regret to say, equally true that I fear he shall always bear a scar needlessly inflicted by you. If it were in my power to forgive you for your reckless cruelty I would do so. I like to think I am a gentle man but your forgiveness will have to come from someone other than me.”

When McCarthy tried to renew his attack, Welch interrupted him:

“Senator, may we not drop this? We know he belonged to the Lawyers Guild. Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

McCarthy tried to ask Welch another question about Fisher, and Welch cut him off:

“Mr. McCarthy, I will not discuss this further with you. You have sat within six feet of me and could have asked me about Fred Fisher. You have seen fit to bring it out. And if there is a God in Heaven it will do neither you nor your cause any good. I will not discuss it further.”

The gallery erupted in applause.”

The drama of this distinguished lawyer chastising one of the most powerful men in the United States and silencing his cruelty was one of the defining moments of my life. It spurred a lifelong interest in the Constitution, the Law and the rights of the American People. Today, among other ills, I believe that our American Criminal Justice System is broken. Let me explain why I believe that. (more…)

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One hour ago, our blog passed the 14,000,000 viewer. The fact that we only recently passed the 13,000,000 viewer mark reflects the impressive growth of this blog. Congratulations everyone. Now if we could only get .000001 of those viewers to vote for us on the ABA blog competition we could crush the competition! If you (are any distant relative, incompetent ward, or pet) has not voted, you can vote here and cast your vote today!

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The ABA Journal has released its list of the top 100 legal blogs in the world and we are once again in this august group of blogs. Congratulations to all of our regulars contributors and weekend bloggers. We have previously taken the top spot under the opinion category in the past but the ABA has now eliminated that category. Even more ominous was the decision to put the largest blogs in direct competition under an expanded “News/Analysis” category. This includes the long dominant “Above the Law” site. We would have to punch considerably above our weight to beat “Above the Law,” which is ranking regularly in the top two most visited legal sites in the world. Frankly, it is like a dingy going up against a battleship. However, we have never flinched in the face of superior numbers. So it is time to vote! It takes a very quick registration. Just click here and cast your vote today!

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Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. This is my favorite holiday with all of the essential elements of joy: food, friends, and football. (more…)

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Submitted by: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

I’m a legal resident of Florida and this week I took advantage of early voting. While I’ve been a political activist for most of my life and usually have a good idea of the issues involved in any particular election, this vote brought home to me that I wasn’t as smart and informed in this election as I supposed. This thought occurred to me the night before I voted, when I carefully looked over the sample ballot sent to me by my County Board of Elections. The sample ballot had six pages and the opportunity to vote twenty six separate times. The first seven of the twenty-six votes, were “no brainers” since it started with the Presidency and ended with County Commissioner. I was familiar with each of these elective offices and the issues entailed in each particular race, but that’s where my familiarity with the issues involved in the next nineteen votes ended. The next possible votes were on whether each of three particular State Supreme Court Judges should be allowed to continue their terms? Not knowing these Judges and/or their judicial views how was I to make such a decision? The next vote was also on whether a particular Justice of the Court of Appeals should be retained in office. The final electoral decision was a vote between one of two people for a four year term to the County Soil and Water commission. This was not a party affiliated position, so other than their names, I had no idea who to vote for, or what their particular conservation philosophy entailed.

Needless to say, I went on the web and found out what was going on in the Judges recall. This is the story and its’ Washington Post link: A Koch Brothers-backed campaign is seeking to vote out three Florida Supreme Court justices.

“A loosely organized Internet campaign against the court two years ago has been fortified by the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, founded by billionaire activists Charles and David Koch. And then came the surprise announcement that the Republican Party of Florida had decided to oppose all three justices, an unprecedented move in the nonpartisan vote.

Party leaders said that “collective evidence of judicial activism” showed the jurists to be liberals who are out of touch with the public. Opponents point to the court’s death penalty decisions and a ruling that kept an “Obamacare” referendum off the 2010 ballot. But the justices’ supporters say an effort is underway to pack the court with new appointees and deliver Republicans the only branch of state government they don’t control.”

 While it is true that I had no clue that such a Campaign was going on, in my defense I was out of State for the entire summer and not paying attention to local affairs. This guest blog, however, is not about the Koch’s judicial ploy, but about what followed it on the Florida Ballot. This was the vote on eleven Florida Constitutional Amendments and why I believe that the nationwide movement for voter ballot initiatives is an idea to support democracy, which in practice is anti-democratic in nature. (more…)

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Submitted by: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

One of the main problems with any legal principle is that we humans are so complex in our interactions that even the most hallowed of legal principles are bound to run into conflict with a real life situation that turns it on its end and leaves even the most principled among us at a loss. This is why the timeless practice of training lawyers to be able to argue both sides of a case arose. Even those who are most respectful of our legal system and our Constitution, recognize that with the variety of human situations, sometimes the legal process leads to results that are far short of the mark of what a person might consider to be justice. Recently, while watching a TV real life murder show called “Unusual Suspects” I came across a case, whose resolution, left me confused as to whether the result was correct in a Constitutional sense. The first ten amendments to our Constitution that are known as “The Bill of Rights” are legal principles that I hold sacrosanct. Historically, the founders put them in place to safeguard the people from the tyrannies that often flowed from autocratic systems of government. These were principle that history and experience had taught them were necessary to protect and preserve the freedom of citizens.

The Fifth Amendment became famous in the 40’s and 50’s when it was invoked at congressional hearings striving to root out “communists”. People in the glaring spotlight of Congressional Hearings, sworn under oath, would be forced to invoke the Fifth Amendment to assert their right not to incriminate themselves. What was unfortunate about these “witch-hunts” was that according to legal procedure, if the person under oath answered any kind of question it was deemed that their Fifth Amendment Rights had been forfeited, since any answer, no matter how innocuous could be considered to have opened up a line of questioning. Thus if one was asked to discuss where they worked they would have to invoke the “Fifth”, or otherwise be opened to questions on who they worked with. The result of this was that by exercising their Constitutional Rights, these witnesses were made to seem guilty of hiding something, merely by asserting their right to remain silent. People’s careers were destroyed having been guilty of nothing more than associating with people who believed in a different economic system, that wasn’t inherently illegal. As the title indicates I’m writing about another aspect of the Fifth Amendment and the result of a particular murder case that left me intellectually and emotionally conflicted. (more…)

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence Rafferty (rafflaw)- Guest Blogger

I have written in the past about corporations dodging taxes, but this latest story out of Washington takes the cake. Susan Ford, an executive with Corning, Inc. testified recently at a House Ways and Means committee meeting and made the following claim.  “American manufacturers are at a distinct disadvantage to competitors headquartered in other countries. Specifically, foreign manufacturers uniformly face a lower corporate tax rate than U.S. manufacturers, and virtually all operate under territorial systems which encourage investment both abroad and at home.” Think Progress  That is a very strong statement coming from Ms. Ford.  What is really interesting is that her claim that foreign companies face a lower corporate tax rate would be important issue,  if it only was true! (more…)

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Submitted by: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

At this point, to be honest, all of the back and forth regarding “evidence” in the Zimmerman Case that has occurred here over a number of threads has been mere speculation that misses the salient issues raised by this case. The real (admissible) evidence will be presented at the trial and a hopefully an unbiased jury will make its decisions. The issues that we need to discuss from my perspective are:

1. Did the Sanford Police make a mistake in releasing Zimmerman rather quickly and allowing him to retain his gun, which was potential evidence?

2. Was there undue outside influence used upon the police to end their investigation quickly?

 3. Is there a degree of probability that in many Stand Your Ground venues, had the victim been white and the protagonist of color, that the protagonist would have been immediately arrested?

4. What are the purposes of a business oriented lobbying group, like ALEC, in getting “Stand Your Ground” Laws passed?

5. Is this once again an instance where a media circus has poisoned the ability to have a fair trial? (more…)

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MK 269

 

Respectfully submitted by Lawrence Rafferty (rafflaw)-Guest Blogger

I know what you may be thinking.  Just what is that title all about?  It is not the serial number of the C-124 picture here.  It is an address of sorts, but you can’t find it on Google maps or with your GPS system.  It also represents a destination, of sorts, for myself and my family.  It took over 61 years to get this address and on last Monday, March 26th, 2012, my family took possession of this address for the first time. (more…)

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Submitted by: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

A recurring meme used in American society by leaders and politicians is that certain acts must be done to “Defend Our Freedoms”. The use of this meme has occurred repeatedly in our history as a justification for certain governmental actions, particularly in defense of war. In some cases like our Revolution, or World War II its usage has been right on point, in others like Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan it’s been used as untruthful propaganda. On national and local levels the meme has also had a mixed history. It has been used to persecute radicals, as a States Rights justification of “Jim Crow” and post 9/11 to enact “security” legislation that many of us think actually diminishes freedom in the name of saving it. (more…)

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Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

This week Huffpost ran an article titled:“IBM’s Role in the Holocaust — What the New Documents Reveal”, written by Edwin Black. The article was a followup to Mr. Black’s book “IBM and the Holocaust” published in 2001. As Mr. Black puts it justifying this particular article:

“Newly-released documents expose more explicitly the details of IBM‘s pivotal role in the Holocaust — all six phases: identification, expulsion from society, confiscation, ghettoization, deportation, and even extermination. Moreover, the documents portray with crystal clarity the personal involvement and micro-management of IBM president Thomas J. Watson in the company’s co-planning and co-organizing of Hitler’s campaign to destroy the Jews.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/edwin-black/ibm-holocaust_b_1301691.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009

These are of course pretty serious charges being made about one of the world’s most famous companies and about its founder. While I will present the nature of these charges and the specificity of the author’s alleged proof in the piece, it really is not my focus to condemn IBM one way or another, or even to vouch for the truth of the article. I will provide a link that offers a different perspective on these charges and will leave it to you the reader to decide what you think of them. My real purpose here is to discuss the necessary amorality of Corporations and what effect that amorality has upon nations and people. (more…)

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By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Cardinal Bevilacqua Whom Prosecutors Deemed An "Unindicted Co-Conspirator" Testified Before the Grand Jury 10 Times

For the first time, law enforcement officials are taking aim at not just child abusing priests but those who enabled the crimes by covering up. And what a cesspool they’ve uncovered.  Monsignor William Lynn, on trial in Philadelphia on charges of conspiracy and child endangerment has filed a novel motion seeking to dismiss all charges. Lynn alleges that Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, a long-time pillar in the American Catholic Church, destroyed a memorandum written by Lynn’s superior detailing the abuse and the priests who perpetrated it.

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Submitted by: Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

Do you wonder how American politics has gotten so crazy in the last five decades? As someone who has lived through them as an adult I have often been amazed by our evolving political scene. This week the PBS documentary series “The American Experience” focused on the life and the two terms of Bill Clinton. It was a typical PBS historical documentary in that it made sure to present all sides of the issues and of course it dealt with “Whitewater”, Monica Lewinsky and the Impeachment proceedings. While we all lived through this bizarre political period in the 90’s, time and personal matters no doubt has dimmed its memory for most of us who were not directly involved. What fascinated me about this four hour documentary was that even in its non-partisan fairness, it delved into the massive effort made to discredit Bill Clinton begun from even before the inception of his first term. Though he won his election fairly, Republican’s and Conservatives never accepted his legitimacy as a duly elected President. It was this perceived “illegitimacy” that undermined his efforts as President and was the focus of constant attacks from his enemies. I’m not writing this as someone who felt that Bill Clinton was a great President and there were many concessions he made like “Welfare Reform” and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” that I still hold against him. My question is that given his legitimate electoral mandate, did he ever get a chance to actually put his programs into effect and be President?

Bill Clinton entered his Presidency at the end of the first Iraq War. His inaugural speech talked of healing and bi-partisanship, as he would work together with Republicans to create a bridge to the Twenty First Century. The country was in a recession, partly caused by the excesses of military overspending by Reagan and G.H.W. Bush and by their tax cuts for the wealthy. There was a shrinking middle class due to the outsourcing of our manufacturing base and also because the Reagan Social Security “Reform” was actually a massive, regressive tax raise on those of middle income. The Reagan and G.H.W. Bush years burdened the Country with massive budget deficits and in Clinton’s first years the clamoring of the Republicans, Wall Street and the “Chattering Classes” for “Deficit Reduction” was at a fever pitch. We had also seen an illegal involvement in trying to topple the government of Nicaragua, despite a strong Congressional ban and its’ direct perpetrators falling on their swords to protect President Reagan and Vice President Bush. The din of budget deficits was so loud, with predictions so dire, that this newly elected President, with no Washington experience, was forced to accept the specious merits of this argument. Forgotten of course was that it was these selfsame groups, had blithely ignored rising deficits during the twelve years past of Republican governance. Perhaps, in my re-visiting what you already probably knew, a sense of Deja’ Vu might be occurring when thinking of American politics and political issues today? (more…)

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Below is my testimony this morning before the full House Judiciary Committee on the constitutionality of the recent recess appointments by President Obama. I also wrote a column this morning on that same subject.

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Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Here’s a great legal war-story from U.S. District Court Judge Alan Johnson (via lawhaha.com) that needs no commentary:

“A very-veteran criminal defendant was about to be tried in federal court in Wyoming on bank fraud charges. The allegation was that, while in the county lockup on an unrelated stolen-vehicle charge, he had used the jail phone to call a local bank and, posing as a prominent wealthy individual, persuaded the bank to deliver a cashier’s check for $10,000 to the jail for the ostensible purpose of bonding out the man’s “nephew” (the nephew’s name, of course, being the defendant’s own).
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Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Forty-three year old belly- dancer, Dorothy McGurk, has learned just how expensive internet dancing can be. Receiving $850.00 in monthly alimony due to a disability, the Staten Island resident was hauled before a county judge by her husband, Brian McGurk, who caught her dancing act on her blog and who now claims his ex-wife’s disability has actually “slip-sided away.”  

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Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Author’s note: This is my third submission about events of historical significance following pieces about George Washington and The Boston Tea Party. It is quite lengthy and for that I apologize, but the story and the people involved are both larger-than-life and fascinating. I hope you enjoy reading  this history as much as I do writing about it.

Clutching the mahogany bannister of his elegant  home located in the Shockoe neighborhood of Richmond’s River District, the old man haltingly descended the steps. Sweating profusely, and  doubling up in pain, he could not even summon the energy to cry out. Almost falling numerous times, the  ‘father of American  jurisprudence,”  finally reached the kitchen only to find his freed-slave housekeeper, Lydia Broadnax, and her son, Michael Brown, writhing in distress and afflicted with the same intestinal ailment. Hours later when one of the triumvirate of Richmond’s elite medical establishment would arrive, the Judge would purposefully sit-up in his bed to declare, “I am murdered.” It was May 25, 1806. Fourteen agonizing days and numerous repetitions of the charge later, that prediction would come true.

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Thomas Drummond is a resourceful fellow. Driving in the unfamiliar wilds of southeastern Missouri, Drummond spun out on icy roads and ended up in culvert. In his last-”ditch” effort to notify someone of his plight, he texted his girlfriend about the accident around 2:00 a.m., but, in a curious omission, forgot to tell her the location.  Two hours later, a soused (0.148 BAC) Drummond was found by the highway patrol and promptly arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

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Defense Exhibit A -Serena Kozakura

We’ve seen on this blog how lack of girth can be a “Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free” card for some folks. Can the “Bust Defense” to crimes be far behind? Well, it’s here now—just a tad east. Tokyo pinup model, Serena Kozakura, won her 2008 criminal case using her 44′s. No violence involved, just a little physics to prove that she was unable to fit through a hole. Seems our buxom lassie was charged with breaking into the home of an ex-boyfriend to confront the man about seeing another woman. When the hole in the man’s “kicked-in” door was measured it was determined that  Kozakura’s 44 inch bust would not fit the space. The trial court convicted her anyway rejecting the OJ “if it doesn’t fit ….” defense, but an appeals court reversed.

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It is that time of the year for our annual blawgletting — the ABA top blog competition. We have once again been selected as one of the top 100 legal blogs (of over 3000) and nominated for the IMHO (opinion) category and it is time to release our minions upon the field of blog battle. Vote here to defend our way of life and the future of the planet.

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Actor Will Smith plays a fictional fighter pilot confronted by an alien UFO capable of fending off nuclear weapons and disabling large parts of the U.S. arsenal in the 1996 blockbuster film, Independence Day. Wild science fiction? Not according to seven former US Air Force officers who held a press conference in Washington, D.C. at the National Press Club to discuss UFO encounters. According to the airmen stationed at different bases throughout the Country, all witnessed UFO’s and some even experienced loss of use of nuclear weapons under their care. One airman described red orbs disabling nuclear weapons for two days.

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Best wishes to everyone celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah. To paraphrase Tiny Tim, “And God bless us, everyone . . . even Legal Satyricon.” (more…)

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250px-Ijn_surgeonIt comes to all of us with age. As hairlines recede and waistlines expand, cosmetic surgery becomes more attractive. While this blog is just around 2 years old, in human-to-blog years that is almost middle aged. In the last few weeks, various regulars have suggested that the site needs work to handle the large number of visitors and entries. This is an attempt to see what you would like to do with the site. I view this site as belonging to all of the regulars and I would like to solicit your thoughts on changes that you would like to see from different cosmetic touches to different structure. This entry will also allow discussion of those things (not people) that you least like.
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300px-uscgc_taneyFurther entries on Sunday will be delayed due to my deployment on the Cutter U.S.S. Taney (USCGC Taney (WPG/WHEC-37)).
My two eldest sons and I are scheduled to sleep over on the Taney on Saturday night. Men going off to sea on a warship is nothing new, but not since the Fighting Sullivan brothers has one family decided to serve in the same ship.

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260px-capitol_building_full_viewThis week, I testified again in opposition to the current legislation to create a new form of non-state voting member in the House of Representative for the District of Columbia. The hearing before the House Judiciary hearing was quite lively and it appears that the bill has the votes to pass. My testimony is linked below.

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225px-official_portrait_of_barack_obamaWashington is electric this morning. It is morning in America as literally billions around the world celebrate the Inauguration of our 44th President.
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eurocuptrophy80mm2008Well, the results are in and weeks of defamatory attacks on our opposing bloggers and the unrestrained use of the politics of personal destruction have paid off: the Turley blog was voted the Number One law professor blog and legal theory blog in the annual survey of the American Bar Association’s survey. Earlier, it was selected as one of the top 100 legal blogs overall. That is not bad for a blog that is only roughly a year old and it is entirely due to our regulars at the cyber bar we called the Turley blog. Your overindulgence, obsessive compulsiveness, and general lack of restraint have made us what we are today, a group of dysfunctional miscreants. But we are now the Number One dysfunctional miscreants in our category. Well done Team Turley (if I may be so bold). Not to overplay the victory, but this is the first key step to total blogosphere domination and eventual control of the time space continuum.

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0060-0610-2512-5632Happy New Year to everyone on the Turley blog. This has been an extraordinary first year of the blog which is approaching two million hits annually. The success of the blog is due largely to our regulars who continue to make this one of the smartest and most fun blogs on the web. Even with the invasion by trolls and a few uncivil moments, the blog has remained a special forum for intelligent, civil, and often witty discourse. Our impressive monthly growth (and the obvious irritation of trolls) is a testament to the fact that there remains many people who want to engage in such dialogue. 2008 was our first full year in operation and I am very grateful for the contributions of all of the regulars on this blog.

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Given the Second Circuit’s overturning of the New York terrorism convictions, the testimony below before Congress may offer a broader understanding of the poor performance of the Bush Administration in this area.
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A Georgia military contractor, Pyrotechnic Specialties Inc. or PSI, is accused of a conspiracy to defraud the government and to sell defective stun (or “flashbang”) grenades to the military and both state and federal law enforcement officials. Not only were three FBI agents injured, but PSI is accused to luring federal officials with gifts at stripper joints and other perks. Officials are now facing charges of conspiracy, money laundering, mail fraud and defrauding the government. (more…)

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Today, I testified in the House Judiciary Committee (Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security), on the new proposed changes to the rules governing federal restitution. They are quite extreme. (more…)

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President Bush waited until Saturday to veto the ban on waterboarding, hoping to diminish press and congressional attention. He had nothing to fear. Both democrats and republicans have already guaranteed that Bush will not be held accountable for the torture program. After effectively decriminalizing torture, the objections heard from Democrats should be met with a healthy degree of scorn. (more…)

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The current legislation to give the District of Columbia a vote in the House of Representatives has no shortage of passion behind it. Indeed, after testifying repeatedly that this legislation is unconstitutional, I have felt my share of that passion turned to anger. It has been an ironic position for me, because I strongly believe that District residents should be allowed to vote in Congress and I have many close friends on the other side of this debate. Indeed, I supported greater (and permanent) representation — as opposed to his partial representation plan. To that end, I have published a lengthy law review article below explaining why I believe that the law is flawed and why there are better option for the city. (more…)

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With states and citizens objecting, the Congress and the Bush Administration have moved ahead to require a national identification card — abandoning decades of opposition to such a system on civil liberties grounds. I testified against this proposal when it was first made in the immediate aftermath of the 9-11 attacks. What is truly remarkable is that the REAL ID has become little more than an excuse to do something that the Bush Administration has been trying to do for years: create interlocking databases on citizens. (more…)

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Given my testimony today in the House Judiciary Committee on prison reform and older prisoners, I thought this previous column may be of interest.  (more…)

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What is most striking about the current disaster presented by the Jefferson ruling is that it was entirely unnecessary. For my prior testimony on the Jefferson raid, click here.

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January 20, 2006
This is the opening statement from the hearing immediately after the disclosure of the NSA program. (more…)

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The testimony below concerns the new controversy of the status of tobacco as a product in the U.S. (more…)

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