Category: Criminal law

“Keep As Much Money As You Can”: Hunter Biden Disclosures Offer New Details On His Chinese Financial Dealings And Associations

There are new disclosures from Hunter Biden’s laptop that offer an added perspective on his dealings with Chinese figures, including Patrick Ho, secretary general of Chinese oil giant CEFC, who was later indicted and has been connected with Chinese intelligence. The emails and pictures relate to the young Chinese assistant supplied to Hunter who makes revealing statements about the fluid expense accounts and level of support given Hunter by the Chinese. I have read through the new messages and I am not clear about the relationship with the young aide who tells him that she still has his dog tags in her New York apartment. However, the new emails include details on how Biden was paid and the fluidity of the accounts established by the Chinese.

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The Justice Department Announces Civil Rights Indictments Against All Four Former Officers In Floyd Death

The Justice Department has secured indictments of  the four former Minneapolis police officers involved in George Floyd’s arrest and death.  The three-count indictment unsealed Friday names Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao.The indictment creates as new front for the officers and a type of insurance for state prosecutors if they fail to convict the three remaining officers (or Derek Chauvin is given a new trial).

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BYOC: Teacher’s Racist Diatribe Highlights Failure To Equip Officers With Body Cameras

For years, I and others have argued for body camera (and police interrogation cameras) to be used in every jurisdiction. Despite the obvious value of such cameras, jurisdictions like Los Angeles County have resisted and still do not have this basic protection for both officers and citizens alike. Likewise, prosecutors in cities like Chicago long opposed the filming of officers by citizens. The recent controversy over a traffic stop in L.A. shows the importance of such body cameras. In the video, an officer pulls over a self-described teacher for using her cellphone while driving and is met with a barrage of racist slurs. The officer was only able to show his side in the encounter because he paid for his own camera. It is absurd that Los Angeles County forces officers to pay for their own cameras to guarantee a record of such encounters.  In LA County, it is bring your own camera (BYOC) or engage in policing at your own risk.

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The Biden Administration Drops Dozens of Charges Against Violent Protesters in Portland

We recently discussed how the plea agreement with a BLM protester (who tried to cut the brake lines on a police vehicle) may indicate a significant shift from the Trump Administration in prosecuting violent protesters.  New figures out of Portland would indicate that there is such a major shift occurring. The Justice Department are dropping 58 of the 97 criminal charges brought after the Portland riots, including assaults on officers.

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Chopped: Will Seattle Officials Now Claim Immunity From Lawsuits After Opposing Such Defenses For Police Officers?

Below is my column in The Hill on the new lawsuit against Seattle for its allowing the establishment of an autonomous zone within the city called CHOP.  According to the compliant, what Mayor Jenny Durkan called “a summer of love” proved instead to be a month of mayhem resulting in deaths, robberies and sexual assaults. Now the city may be relying an immunity defense despite leaders opposing such defenses for individual police officers.

Here is the column:

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Police Groups Ask The University of Minnesota To Investigate Student’s Call To Make Life “Hell” For Officers

Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association and the Law Enforcement Labor Services has taken the unusual (if not unprecedented) step of asking the University of Minnesota to investigate a student for her call to make the lives of campus police a living “hell.” In a video conference captured on video, student Lauren Meyers is caught making the statements in her capacity as Chief Financial Officer of the Minnesota Student Association Executive Board. Continue reading “Police Groups Ask The University of Minnesota To Investigate Student’s Call To Make Life “Hell” For Officers”

BLM Protester Pleads Guilty To Trying To Cut The Brake Lining Of NYPD Van

There is a plea in the case of a Black Lives Matter protester, Jeremy Trapp, 24, who tried to cut the brake line of a New York Police Department van last year because he wanted to hurt police. What is most interesting is that the vehicle crime was handed in the federal and not the state system. Moreover, the case may indicate a move away from the more severe charges used under the Trump Justice Department in such cases.

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Why Didn’t The FBI Agents Take Hard Drives In Seizing Giuliani’s Electronic Devices?

I have been a long critic of Rudy Giuliani going back years, including interviews and press conferences that I have condemned for making unsupported statements (as well as comments inimical to his client’s interest). However, Giuliani may have a valid point.  The Biden Administration sent FBI agents to raid his home and other lawyers to seize “electronic devices.” According to Giuliani, this included computers and cell phones containing electronic files. However, the agents reportedly refused to take hard drives that Giuliani said contained material related to Hunter Biden, the son of our President. If the warrant did call for the seizure of computer and electronic devices, that makes no sense at all, particularly in accepting the word of the target of the search as to the contents of the devices.  As a defense attorney, I often question the scope of seizures in such searches as excessive or overly broad. I have never run into a search where agents refused to take evidence that is ordinarily defined within the scope of the warrant. We have yet to see the warrant itself but this is a curious omission given the seizure of computers.

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“I Don’t Like Barriers”: New York Woman’s Podcast Could Be Weighed In Trial Of Killing Of NYPD Officer

An arrest in the death of NYPD officer Anastasio Tsakos could raise some challenging evidentiary questions in the trial of Jessica Beauvais, 32. Before Beauvais ran over Tsakos, she posted a podcast that not only showed her drinking but signing off with “F**K Police.” The admissibility of that podcast evidence is likely to be the subject of a motion by the defense before any trial. Continue reading ““I Don’t Like Barriers”: New York Woman’s Podcast Could Be Weighed In Trial Of Killing Of NYPD Officer”

The Difficult Realities Of Lethal Force

Below is my column in the Hill on the spate of recent police shootings and the resulting calls for reforms and criminal charges.  Two new incidents have occurred in the last week and both raise serious questions that must be answered on the use of lethal force.  In North Carolina, Andrew Brown Jr., 42, was shot and killed during execution of an arrest warrant. He was reportedly shot in the back while trying to flee but no gun was found. In Virginia, Isaiah Brown, 32, was shot more than six times by a deputy who appears to have thought that a cellphone was a gun.  The officers had previously given Brown a ride home and they were later called back to the home due to a disagreement. The tape shows Brown saying that he was going to kill his brother with a gun, but Brown told the 911 operator that he did not have a gun. These and the prior cases capture the dangerously uncertain and chaotic context of such cases.  Both Brown cases raise serious questions that need to be answered on the use of lethal force.

Here is the column:

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Portland Mayor Condemns Anarchists But Stops Short Of Condemning Antifa

Rose City Antifa (Portland, Oregon)

Last year, I testified in the Senate on Antifa and the growing anti-free speech movement in the United States. I specifically disagreed with the statement of House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler that Antifa (and its involvement in violent protests) is a “myth.”  What was most striking about that hearing was the refusal of Democratic members to condemn Antifa’s activities or recognize the scope of anarchist violence even as riots raged in Portland, Oregon and other cities. Indeed, Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, famously walked out of that hearing after Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, challenged her to condemn Antifa and leftist violence. Continue reading “Portland Mayor Condemns Anarchists But Stops Short Of Condemning Antifa”

Suspect Who Dragged NYPD Officer Was Previously Released Pending Trial For Attempted Murder

The recently released video of a NYPD officer being dragged by a fleeing suspect took an even more controversial turn when it was disclosed that the suspect was out on bond despite being charged with attempted murder. Takim Newson’s earlier release by a judge is baffling given the alleged crime and Newson’s prior criminal record. Continue reading “Suspect Who Dragged NYPD Officer Was Previously Released Pending Trial For Attempted Murder”

Columbus Shooting Sparks Protests Despite Videotape Showing Knife Attack

The shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant, 16, in Columbus, Ohio has sparked protests despite the police releasing a videotape that appeared to show Bryant moving to stab another girl.  The incident has strikingly similar legal issues to the shooting of Adam Toledo in Chicago.  The parents of Bryant insist that she dropped the knife just before being shot, the same situation raised in the Toledo shooting.  The videotape does appear to satisfy the standard for the use of lethal force under Tennessee v. Garner and other case law. Continue reading “Columbus Shooting Sparks Protests Despite Videotape Showing Knife Attack”

The Chauvin Appeal: How The Comments Of The Court and The Prosecutors Could Raise Challenges Going Forward

Below is my column in The Hill on two issues that arose on the final day of the trial of Derek Chauvin that could now feature prominently in any appeal. There will likely be an array of conventional appellate issues from the elements of the murder counts to the sufficiency of the evidence. Obviously, any appeal will wait until after sentencing, which will take many weeks. However, two issues were highlighted on the final day which could play a role in the appeal even if the odds are against Chauvin. The first on the denial of a venue change and the sequestering of the jury is very difficult make work on appeal. However, there are strong arguments to be made in this case.  I believe Judge Cahill should have granted the venue change and also sequestered this jury. It is not clear if the court polled the jury on trial coverage, particularly after the inflammatory remarks of Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Cal.). However, there are credible grounds for challenging how this jury may have been influenced by the saturation of coverage of the trial as well as rioting in the area.

Here is the column:

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Pelosi Refuses To Criticize Waters Despite Court Denouncing Her Remarks For Undermining The Chauvin Trial

The fallout over the comments of Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Cal.)  continued as Democrats were asked to condemn her call for protesters to stay in the streets and get more confrontational. I recently wrote a column on how Waters had become the best possible witness for Donald Trump in her own lawsuit against him. Waters was denounced by Judge Peter Cahill for undermining not just any conviction in the trial of Derek Chauvin but the court itself in seeking to carry out its constitutional function. It would seem a simple matter for responsible people to condemn Waters’ inflammatory remarks but Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Cal.) defended her and refused to criticize the comments.  Earlier this year, Pelosi condemned Trump for criminal incitement and pushed through his impeachment for using similar words on Jan. 6th.  Waters was also defended on CNN where media figures supported her call for protesters to stay in the streets and get “more confrontational.” Continue reading “Pelosi Refuses To Criticize Waters Despite Court Denouncing Her Remarks For Undermining The Chauvin Trial”

Res ipsa loquitur – The thing itself speaks