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Case Update: Frederick Lee Gude’s three murders

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Recently, William Steele wrote to this blog asking about the latest murder conviction involving Frederick Gude, who killed Mr. Steele’s father in southeast Atlanta (my old neighborhood) in 1969.  Gude received a life sentence for that crime but walked out of prison a mere eight years later — eight years for taking a life.  He was sent up again in 1983, got out again, then killed a second time.  For that “voluntary manslaughter,” Gude was sentenced to five years.  He  walked out of prison for a third time in September 2003, then four months later he stabbed his girlfriend to death with an ice pick.  Along the way, he accumulated the usual, heinous, un-prosecuted and under-prosecuted acts of domestic violence, and other serious crimes.  Earlier this year, AJC reporter Steve Visser interviewed Gude’s adult daughter, a Marine Lieutenant Colonel who said this of her father:

“There are some people who shouldn’t walk amongst us” [she said] … “This is his third killing. This is the third one that we know of” … [S]he knew her father as a child – when he wasn’t in prison – but her mother quickly left him behind after he was released from prison the first time. He used to beat her mother and he stabbed at least one relative. Violence, she said, was her father’s defining characteristic.  “Some people kill in the heat of moment,” the Marine said. “For him, every moment is the heat of the moment, if you say something he doesn’t like.”

Frederick Gude: Three-Time Killer

Run-of-the-mill criminals don’t attract elite legal help, but once you’ve accumulated a body count like Mr. Gude’s, and capital punishment is on the table, the suits show up.  For his latest murder defense, Gude secured Atlanta defense attorney Thomas West (on the taxpayer’s dime, undoubtedly).

Thomas West: Not Atticus Finch

Mr. West is one of those defense attorneys who market themselves as civil rights heroes with the assistance of corrupted civil rights groups like the once-storied Southern Christian Leadership Council(SCLC), which long ago stopped doing anything but stealing their donations, accusing each other of stealing, and giving “Drum Major” awards to defense attorneys like West who specialize in returning brute killers back to the communities they victimized before and will victimize again.

For their part, Mr. West and his defense bar peers may fancy themselves modern-day Atticus Finches, but they sure don’t bill in croker-sacks of turnip greens, as the fictional Finch did while helping poor white and black sharecroppers avoid entailment, malnutrition, and lynching.

Today’s defense attorneys deploy sleazy technicalities to help serial predators escape consequences while bleeding taxpayers dry.  Or, as West puts it on his website:

Again and again, the law firm is complimented for the intense attention it pays to each detail of a client’s case, and its willingness to explore every legal angle in order to come up with the best possible outcome for each client.

In client Gude’s case, Thomas West obstructed justice for nine years, at a cost of many hundreds of thousands of dollars to taxpayers (and into his pocket).  Of course, it takes a village to really obstruct justice, and West had help from many quarters, including Superior Court Judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore, who simply didn’t bother to set a trial date as witnesses died and victims hung in limbo.  See here for my previous post on West’s manipulations of the justice system on behalf of Frederick Gude.  That was nearly five years ago, and the case just resolved in 2013.

By holding the justice system hostage with a blizzard of pretrial motions on behalf of Frederick Gude, Thomas West finally succeeded in getting Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard to take capital punishment off the table, as Steve Visser reported last February:

District Attorney Paul Howard, who said Gude’s age persuaded him to drop the death penalty request after Gude turned 69 in July, contended that the lengthy wait not only undermined the case, but also cheated the victim’s family and taxpayers. Two key eye witnesses died while awaiting the trial. By the calculation used by the sheriff’s office, housing Gude cost more than a quarter of a million dollars.

“They have a legitimate question to ask Fulton County about why are you taking so long to dispense justice,” Howard said. “This will make the third person he has killed in our county and he is allowed to sit in jail for nine years. It is unconscionable.”

Also unconscionable?  Thomas West’s vicious remarks belittling the victim of Gude’s latest crime.  West urged the court to go easy on his client, explaining that Gude had done nothing “heinous” because he just stabbed a woman to death with an icepick. Gude’s crime wasn’t a hate crime, you see, because he picked a woman to chop away at forty times (and left her 94-year old aunt locked in a bathroom near the body, where the elderly woman nearly froze to death, but hey, who’s counting?).

Here is West’s explanation for not considering icepick murder + attempted murder heinous:

“We contended it was cruel and unusual to seek the death penalty in a case where you are just accused of killing your girlfriend and not something more heinous. … In the past, the district attorney has not sought the death penalty in these circumstances.”

“Just killing your girlfriend.”  “Not something more heinous.”  Some people’s lives are just more valuable than other people’s lives.  A murder with the right mix of victim and offender will bring out the activists and the mayor marching around all puffed up with candles in little paper cups.  But Gude killed politically insignificant humans using non-heinous icepick torture, so, no heartfelt politician parades for his victims.

Yet despite West’s claim that the murder wasn’t heinous, he acknowledged that the crime scene photos of Gude’s last victim presented some “visual issues” that might have convinced even Fulton County jurors to vote for death.

Visual Issues.  Is there any limit to the degradation this man heaps on innocent victims of crime?

Thomas West was enabled in his serial lies about Frederick Gude’s murders by a criminal justice system that has spent sixty years institutionalizing such lies.  Words like heinous and hate have been warped beyond recognition in the criminal courts.  Unlike criminal investigations and trials in other western nations, our courts have become mechanisms for excluding facts, instead of seeking and weighing them.  Criminal justice is treated like a game, instead of the fullest pursuit of truth.  And so people like Frederick Gude and Thomas West game the system over and over again, with nary a peep from the tens of thousands of law professors and judges who are supposed to address such travesties.

When the justice system is in such institutionalized disarray that a murder trial can be delayed for nine years while attorneys file motions quarreling about how many thrusts of the icepick count as heinous, or a child rape trial can be delayed for more than a decade while Bob Barr and his peers argue about whether a professional fantasy role-player’s pretend illnesses can get him cut loose from the ankle-bracelet that is keeping him from raping more little boys, it’s time to start talking about whether the problem is something other than over-incarceration.

The worst part, besides the denial of justice, is that we actually pay these jerks to make such arguments.

Appallingly, Mr. West now uses his defense of Frederick Lee Gude as an advertising tool, featuring Gude’s case prominently on his website.  Gude will probably start appealing to be released early due to his advanced age any day now, which likely means more money in Thomas West’s pockets.  Nice little justice system we’ve got here.
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If anyone has information about Frederick Gude’s trial or his other crimes, please contact this blog.  Identities must be confirmed but will be kept anonymous.

Seventies Redux: Jim Jones, Rosalyn Carter — A More Innocent Time

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Thanks to Peach Pundit for linking to my logorrhea on healthcare navigation.  One of the fun things about being back in Georgia — as opposed to Florida, with its tedious palm trees, balmy beaches, and light traffic — is having an institutional memory of the political scene.  I spent twenty years in downtown Atlanta.

Once, when I was new to the city, I got off work around 3 a.m. from my job on the docks of the Georgia World Congress Center.  I drove past the Ponce de Leon Krispy Kreme donut shop, which looked way to scary to patronize, and went to an all-night grocery story instead.  In the dairy aisle, there was this wired guy who looked like he was coming from an adult costume party: he had on what  looked like a sort of mini-cape, with giant epaulets and lots of braid.  He had cornered an old woman and was lecturing her on the crucial differences between Jumbo and Large eggs.

Weird, I thought, and crossed the grocery story off my list of places to go to in the middle of the night.

Some time later, I saw the egg man holding a press conference on TV.  He was Atlanta Chief of Police (and future Clayton County Commissioner) Eldrin Bell.

Weird, I thought, and crossed Ponce de Leon off my list of ways to drive home from work.

Before I moved to Atlanta in 1988, the only thing I really knew about Georgia was that Jimmy Carter came from there.  Or, near there.  I’m sorry to say that where I came from, everything south of the Newark existed only vaguely to us.  To people in Poughkeepsie, Carter’s drawl, and Miss Lillian, and Billy all seemed as exotic as The Dukes of Hazard.  My parents, however, had loved the way the Carters walked to the White House on inauguration day, like ordinary people.

But sadly, there are no ordinary people in politics.  This week marks the 35th anniversary of the murder/suicide of some 900 people belonging to the communist cult called Jonestown.  Oh, you didn’t know it was a communist cult?  Did you know a communist killed JFK?  That Sirhan Sirhan, who killed RFK, was a cult hero to the American communist group, The Weather Underground?

Communism was still as common as herpes in the Seventies, something that’s very hard to explain to anyone under sixty today.

The list of politicians who helped Jim Jones create his communist third-world-hellhole-turned-murder-camp is long, weird, and disgraceful.  Jonestown wasn’t just a run-of-the-mill cult — it was a racket for stealing welfare and social security benefits from the vulnerable people lured there with the help of politicians like Harvey Milk, whose culpability is conveniently forgotten by those who wish to turn Milk into a martyr because he was openly gay and murdered in office.

Current California Governor Jerry Brown, Walter Mondale and Rosalyn Carter also hobnobbed with Jones, pre-massacre, and Communist Party member Angela Davis used her position as a professor at UCLA to abet Jones in events that led up to the massacre — something the highly-esteemed Dr. Davis does not include in her definitely for-profit speeches to academic audiences today.

Note the Bill Maher poster (?) behind the dancing soon-to-be mass murderer

The taxpayers of California are currently supporting an entire academic sub-discipline dedicated to Jones:  Alternative Considerations of Jonestown and Peoples Temple, aka Jonestown apologetics, is ironically housed in the Department of Religion at San Diego State University.  Read my essay about the politicians and academicians involved with Jones here:

Mass Murderer Jim Jones: Religious Extremist or Atheist Stalinist?  Answer: What’s Best for the New York Times?

Tonight, Cliff Kincaid will be talking about the communists and the JFK assassination on the America’s Survival Roku channel and the online site Kenney TV — watch here on Roku, or live on the internet at 9:00.  And for evidence about the Soviets’ involvement in the JFK murder, here is Cliff’s article, Why the Communists Killed Kennedy, which references important work by Ion Mihai Pacepa and Humberto Fontova, two experts who are worth reading on this subject and others.

More stomach-churning Seventies nostalgia next week  . . .

 

 

Police Murdered in 2011: How They Served

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Hat Tip to Lou . . .

2011 began with the murder of Deputy Sheriff Suzanne Hopper in Ohio.  January 1, Deputy Hopper was shot while photographing a crime scene.  She left behind a husband and four children.  Another officer was shot but survived.

According to her boss, Sheriff Gene Kelly,

Hopper once went six straight years without calling in sick and often put on charity events for the Special Olympics and other causes . . . Her personnel file is filled with accolades and commendations and always service before self.

By the end of January, four police officers were murdered in Florida during a week in which at least fifteen officers were shot:

[1/24/2011] In just 24 hours, at least 11 officers were shot. The shootings included Sunday attacks at traffic stops in Indiana and Oregon, a Detroit police station shooting that wounded four officers, and a shootout at a Port Orchard, Wash., Wal-Mart that injured two deputies. On Monday morning, two officers were shot dead and a U.S. Marshal was wounded by a gunman in St. Petersburg, Fla.  On Thursday, two Miami-Dade, Fla., detectives were killed by a murder suspect they were trying to arrest.

Sgt. Thomas Batinger, St. Petersburg, Florida “just wanted to serve”

Two years ago, Sgt. Baitinger served as mentor for a student at Gibbs High School. Catherine Smith, the former family and community liaison at Gibbs, said he stood out among the 100 or so mentors who volunteer each year. “Some police officers, you know, seem to have like a hard exterior,” Smith said. “This man was just so nice.”  When the sergeant showed up, usually carrying a McDonald’s bag, the student’s face just glowed. “He loved him,” she said. “When that young man came down and saw the sergeant, oh my goodness, it was like he saw his father.”  His hobbies were golf and poker.

Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz, St. Petersburg, Florida “one of the best people I ever met”

He is survived by his wife, Lorraine, 40, and his children: Caleb, 12; Haylie, 8; and Calen, 5.  He was on his way home after his night shift with his police dog Ace when he responded to a call for backup . . . It was like him to go. Just flip through his personnel file down at the police station. . . The night before he died, Yaslowitz helped his neighbor haul new furniture inside.  “He was a great guy, I’ll tell you,” said [Herbert] Kane, 77. “A great father, too, and a great husband. I never heard him even argue, ever. They were a great family and I’m just sick about it.”

Detective Roger Castillo, Miami-Dade, Florida “passionate about his job”

To the residents of his well-kept Davie street, fallen Miami-Dade police Detective Roger Castillo was the type of neighbor you wanted to have around. He was the dad you’d see on the front lawn, tossing around a football with his boys. The one who brightened up the cul-de-sac with Christmas lights and inflatables. A helping hand if you were struggling with a fix-it job. “If I’m fixing something, if he passes by, he will ask if I need help, do I need to borrow tools?” said Andre Jean-Louis, a real estate broker . . . On Thursday, as the tragedy unfolded in Liberty City, Castillo’s relatives and neighbors monitored the news and hoped he was safe. Slowly, through phone calls and text messages and hesitant knocks on the door, they learned that their friend was gone. “They stole him,” neighbor Lisa Tuffy said. “He made this world a better place.”

Detective Amanda Haworth, Miami-Dade, Florida “just a beautiful person”

Twenty-three years after she joined the Miami-Dade Police Department, Amanda Lynn Haworth, 44, was fatally wounded, along with another detective — both of them members of an elite team that served arrest warrants on violent suspects. Haworth, a single mother and police detective, loved her job, but was most devoted to her 13-year-old son, her stepmother said. “She took him everywhere she went,” said Diane Haworth, 66. She last spoke with her stepdaughter on Monday, she recalled. “She was just so sweet, so very sweet,” her stepmother said . . . she often played baseball with son, Austin, in their backyard, neighbors said. “Her son and her work were everything to her,” said neighbor Bernardo Gonazalez. She was a big fan of the Weston Red Hawks — the team her son played for — and attended all of his games. “She was just a beautiful, beautiful person,” Gonazalez said.

Why were Amanda Haworth and Roger Castillo killed?  Because the justice system failed them.  Not once, but a dozen times.  Because every previous time police risked their lives capturing the thug who murdered them, some lazy judge or overwhelmed prosecutor let him go:

[Johnny] Simms, 22, had been in trouble since he was a teen. Officers first arrested him at 14, for larceny. In all, Simms was arrested 11 times before he was an adult on charges including burglary and auto theft, state records show. He received house arrest in some cases, while others were dropped. His tattoos mirrored his lifestyle: a gun, flames, and the words “savage” and “10-20 Life.” In October 2005 and December 2005, Simms was arrested for separate armed robberies, one with a pistol and the second with a rifle. Prosecutors did not file charges in either case. In 2007, Simms — who also goes by “Sims” — went to state prison for a different 2005 armed robbery and auto theft. He was released in February 2009 on probation. Simms violated his probation when he was again arrested in June 2010, this time for robbery with a deadly weapon and selling cocaine. He pleaded guilty and Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Julio Jimenez sentenced him to one year in prison plus five years’ probation.But Simms served only one month because he had earned credit for time served earlier in a Miami-Dade jail. He was released in September 2010 on five years of court-mandated “administrative probation,” a low-level form of supervision that does not require regular check-ins with authorities. Simms hadn’t been out a month before he was again implicated in a violent act. According to Miami homicide detectives, Simms shot and killed Cornelious Larry, 27, on Oct. 16 in the parking lot of an Overtown apartment complex, 1535 NW First Pl. Miami police say Simms shot Larry to death after the man began yelling and cursing at Simms’ sister. Simms fled on a bicycle. Detectives searched for him for 12 days before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Diane Ward signed an arrest warrant. The charges: first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Simms had been on the lam since.

Yadda, yadda, yadda.  Shoot, rob, burglar, shoot, beat: get off free.  Our highest law enforcement officials in the Department of Justice grandstand about “alternatives to incarceration” and “emptying the prisons.”  Our sensitive academics whine endlessly about America the police state as if thugs like Johnny Simms aren’t getting away with murder after murder, abetted by lousy criminal fetishists festering in courtrooms until good cops end up in caskets.

February

Detective John Falcone

Detective John Falcone, Poughkeepsie, New York.  Wrestled a three-year old from a man repeatedly charged with domestic violence who had hunted down her mother and killed her moments earlier.  Thanks to Detective Falcone’s sacrifice, the infant survived.

Detective Falcone is survived by his parents.

March

Alain Schaberger

Alain Schaberger’s life began in Vietnam and ended when Officer Schaberger responded to a domestic violence call in Brooklyn, where a repeat felon with 28 prior arrests, mostly for robbery and burglary, pushed the young man over a railing to his death.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg referred to Schaberger as a “quiet, gentle soul” who dedicated his life to service.  “Alain knew a lot about grief,” Bloomberg said of the former Naval officer who joined the NYPD in July 2001. “One of his first assignments as a police officer while he was still in the academy in the days after 9/11 was to go to checkpoints around Ground Zero and help the families who came there to cope with their horrific losses. He brought a lot of comfort to those people.”  Addressing Schaberger’s family, including fiancée Shoshone Peguese, Bloomberg said, “I think he would tell you to remember not the last tragic moment of his life, but the many wonderful moments that came before it.”

 

Schaberger was a 10-year NYPD veteran who was born in Vietnam. He came to the U.S. when he was 5 years old with his father – an Army vet who worked as a civilian guard at the U.S. Embassy when Saigon fell in 1975 – and Vietnamese mother.  Raised in East Islip, L.I., Schaberger grew up on tidy block of single-family homes and played basketball at the local public school. . . Schaberger often returned to East Islip to visit with his parents and sister, Tracey, a nurse with two kids, neighbors said.  “It’s tragic. It’s unbelievable,” said neighbor Mitchell Greif. “He was a great guy from a good family. He was always pleasant and polite. His parents are devastated.” Schaberger’s mother – a hairdresser – and father were too distraught to speak with reporters.  “It’s a shame,” said Bill Conley, 59, an electrician who has lived next-door to the Schaberger family for 25 years. “It’s always the good ones that die young.”

April

Jonathan Schmidt

Officer Jonathan Schmidt

A policeman who died in the line of fire trying to save his sergeant’s life has been labelled a hero.  Officer Jonathan Schmidt, from Trumann, Arkansas, shoved his superior out of harms way when a gunman unexpectedly opened fire during a routine arrest.  He was able to return fire on Jerry Lard despite the fact he was shot in the neck and bleeding. The father-of-three then begged for his life. . . Schmidt worked as a night patrolman so he could spend days with his three children.  He had a 12-year-old daughter and sons aged ten and 18 months. Schmidt recently received a commendation for saving an infant’s life by giving the child mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.  Trumann School District Superintendent, Joe Waleszonia said: ‘He wanted to clean up this community. He wanted it to be as safe for the community as it could be.

May

Kenneth Gary Vann

Sergeant Vann was assassinated while stopped at a red light: his patrol car was struck multiple times.  A week later, the killer was caught by police.  He had randomly chosen to kill officer Vann.

Sergeant Kenneth Gary Vann

[During the investigation] Detective Louis Antu, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, said the mood was somber but dedicated at the command post Sunday. Many officers, including Antu and the sheriff, were out of town for the three-day Memorial Day weekend, when they were called back to Bexar County.  “We’re not robots; we’re all taking time to reflect,” said Antu, who joined the Sheriff’s Office with Vann. “But it was a terrible killing, and everybody wants answers. We’re working for the family, to bring them justice.”  Antu said the two men were “kids” when they joined the Sheriff’s Office. Vann was an excellent officer who loved his job and family, Antu said.  Vann was married to sheriff’s Sgt. Yvonne Vann and leaves behind two sons, ages 19 and 15, and a daughter, 25, from a previous marriage, officials said.  Ortiz was at his hunting lease in Rocksprings when he heard about Vann’s death.  “We’re real saddened by the randomness of this incident; there’s really no rhyme or reason,” Ortiz said. “It’s very difficult because we don’t have anything new, but we’re not going to rest until we find the guy who did it.”

June

Kurt Wyman, daughter born the day of his murder.

Deputy Sheriff Kurt Wyman

Whitestown, NY — Fresh out of high school in 2005, Kurt Wyman joined the Marine Corps Reserve. Activated in 2008, he served seven months in Iraq and won the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.  Wyman also became an Oneida County sheriff’s deputy in 2007. He rejoined the sheriff’s office when he returned from overseas. In 2010, he was rookie of the year. He twice was awarded the Sheriff’s Grand Cordon Medal, which recognizes outstanding achievement by a detail of officers.  “His commitment not only to his country but to his county is second to none,” Sheriff Robert Maciol said.  Wyman demonstrated his commitment to the ultimate degree Tuesday. The deputy, 24, was hit by a shotgun blast as he and two other officers tried to take an armed man into custody after a six-hour standoff in the rural town of Augusta. He died after being rushed to St. Elizabeth Medical Center.

Wyman left behind his pregnant wife, Lauren, their 18-month-old son, his parents and a sister.

His wife gave birth after hearing of Wyman’s murder.  That’s June.

July

Officer Brent Long

Officer Long and his canine partner Shadow were shot while serving a felony warrant.

Shadow survived.

A fallen police officer’s K-9 partner is now being honored. Fallen Terre Haute Police Officer Brent Long’s family cut the ribbon on Shadow’s Trail in Terre Haute. Shadow served alongside Officer Long on the force. The trail is beside Brent Long Memorial Way. It’s part of the expansion of the city’s trails and a way to honor the police dog’s service. “They did a good job for our department and to have Brent’s memorial way here and Shadow’s Trail right next to Brent, they’re partners even after Brent’s gone,” Terre Haute Police Chief John Plasse said.

August

Jeremy Henwood, San Diego

Jeremy Henwood, a captain in the Marine Corps Reserves and police officer for the San Diego Police Department, was shot and killed, Aug. 7. He had walked into a fast food restaurant to buy something to eat and also buy a meal for a 10-year-old boy who happened to cross his path. Moments later, while sitting in his patrol car, a man drove up beside him and fired the fatal shot. Henwood was 36.

Officer Henwood, moments before he was shot

Henwood served as an enlisted infantryman before going on to Officer Candidate School to receive his commission with the Marine reserves. The Canadian-born hero became a United States citizen in order to receive his commission with the Marines.  He deployed twice to Iraq, and after his third deployment – this time to Afghanistan as a company commander with Combat Logistics Battalion 2 – Henwood returned to the U.S. in February to continue serving as a police officer with the SDPD.  During the memorial ceremony, Henwood was posthumously promoted to the rank of major.

September

Lt. Joseph Sczcerba

18-year veteran New Castle, Delaware Lt. Joseph Sczcerba was stabbed to death while attempting to subdue a rampaging offender.  Lt. Sczcerba and his wife performed volunteer work at a variety of places.  His service to the community was memorialized by seventy local culinary school students who baked 10,000 cookies in his honor and delivered them to police officers.  6,000 people attended his funeral.

October

Derek Kotecki: His loyal canine wouldn’t leave his side after he was shot.  He wanted a “noisy” funeral.

Patrolman Kotecki and K9 Benny
Lower Burrell, PA, Patrolman Derek Kotecki was shot and killed while investigating reports of a wanted man at a local fast food restaurant. The man was wanted for a shooting ten days earlier and for threatening police officers during the previous week.  As Patrolman Kotecki and his canine, Benny, approached, the man suddenly opened fire. Patrolman Kotecki suffered a fatal wound. The subject then fled but was approached by other officers as he attempted to climb a fence behind the restaurant. He was killed during an exchange of shots with the responding officers.  K9 Benny was uninjured but had to be muzzled after refusing to leave Patrolman Kotecki’s side.
Patrolman Kotecki had served with the Lower Burrell Police Department for 18 years. He is survived by his wife and two children.

Officer Thomas Babinsack, one of five people to eulogize Kotecki, said they had talked about the aftermath of such a situation while driving to a memorial service in April 2009 for three Pittsburgh officers gunned down in a SWAT siege.  They discussed whether it was respectful to use their flashing lights and sirens in a funeral procession, and Babinsack said he’s since learned the protocol is to use lights but no sirens — which police vehicles observed on their way to Kotecki’s funeral. But Babinsack said Kotecki wanted something else.  “Tom, I want you to promise me something: If something ever happens to me, I want everybody to know I was here,” Babinsack remembered Kotecki saying. “I want the fire trucks and police and ambulances going with lights on and sirens.”  “He wanted a parade and he’s going to get one,” Babinsack said from the pulpit of the noisy funeral procession that was to follow.

 

November

James L. Capoot: a life lived very well.

Officer James Lowell Capoot, 45, of the Vallejo Police Department was killed in the line of duty on Nov. 17, 2011 in Vallejo, Calif. A loving and devoted father, husband, son, brother, uncle, officer, coach, neighbor and friend, Jim lived a full and extraordinary life.  Born Nov. 2, 1966 in Little Rock, Ark., Jim attended local schools in Little Rock and graduated from John L. McClellan High School in 1985, where he was a distance runner on the cross country and track teams. Jim enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at age 18 and was stationed at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, where he met the love of his life, Jennifer Eileen DeCarlo. The two were married at St. Basil’s Catholic Church in Vallejo on Aug. 29, 1987.  Jim left the Marines in 1989 but remained on Active Reserve through 1993. In 1990, he joined the California Highway Patrol and began his career as a peace officer. And, in 1993, he joined the Vallejo Police Department.  For 19 years, Jim distinguished himself as a Vallejo police officer while endearing himself to the Vallejo community. He served as a motorcycle officer, motorcycle instructor, driving instructor and SWAT officer. He received two Vallejo PD Medals of Courage, one Life-Saving Medal and many other department commendations. And, in 2000, Jim received the Officer of the Year Award.  Jim coached the Vallejo High School varsity girls basketball team and in his second year led the Apaches to a 25-7 record and a Sac-Joaquin Section Division II Championship. Jim left the Apache bench in March 2011 to bring into his home the two children of close friends who were killed in a motorcycle accident in January.

December 20

John David Dryer, tended horses, his son.  Shot during a routine traffic stop.

John David Dryer found his calling as a teenager when he nursed to health a horse that had become entangled in barbed wire.  He turned his grades around, earned his veterinary science degree from Ohio State University, opened his own successful practice — and then became a police officer. . . . At home, Officer Dryer was a doting father to his autistic son, Benjamin. In an interview with the Post-Gazette in 2000 about training bloodhounds, he said his son gave him motivation.  “My son Ben, who is 5, was very sick when he was born. In fact, a couple of times I thought I was going to lose him,” he said. “I think this is why I want to search for missing people, particularly children.”

December 21

Another Tampa Bay Cop in this bloody year: Arnulfo Crispin.

Since Crispin was shot the night of Dec. 18, [Carlos] Cortes and Officer Julio Ruiz have been by his family’s side, offering any assistance they could.  Both officers learned more about their friend and why he always had a big smile on his face.  “His family has been so humble and so giving,” Ruiz said. “They put people and family before themselves.” Cortes agreed.  “It’s a large family and they don’t have that much,” he said. “At one point, they asked my wife and I to come and eat with them. They didn’t have a lot of food, but they made sure we had something to eat. They don’t have much, but what they do have they will give to others.”  That mentality explained a lot about the officer they knew.

Crispin’s parents

Before leaving the family’s house Tuesday night, the officers gave the large family their phone numbers and promised to keep in touch.  Although Crispin can’t be replaced, Ruiz said, the Crispin family has “gained 235 brothers and sisters at the Lakeland Police Department.”

December 29  

Chicago Officer Clifton Lewis: “he took me in as his child”

The off-duty Chicago police officer slain in a West Side convenience store Thursday night had just gotten engaged on Christmas Day, family friends say.  Clifton Lewis, 41, an eight-year veteran assigned to the Austin District’s tactical team, was pronounced dead Thursday at Stroger Hospital, officials said. Two men had walked into the M & M Quick Foods about 8:30 p.m. at 1201 N. Austin Blvd. in the Austin neighborhood, shot the officer, and then grabbed his gun and star and fled, sources said. . . . Lewis . .  has received 81 commendations for his police work, had proposed to his girlfriend, Tamara Tucker, only after asking her 18-year-old son, Keyonta Thomas, for permission. On Christmas morning, Lewis pulled her son aside and asked for her “hand in marriage,” said Thomas, 18.  “I am just at a loss for words,” said Thomas, who said he saw Lewis as a father.  “He was just as a father (to me)… He took me in as his child.”

Addendum: Special Agent John Capano of the ATF was killed yesterday as I was writing this.  He was on his way to pick up prescriptions for his ill, 81-year old father when he encountered an armed robbery at the pharmacy.

James Capano had planned to celebrate New Year’s Eve at his son’s house.  The family is grieving the death of James Capano’s wife of 57 years, Helen Capano, mother of John Capano. She died of cancer on Dec. 18.  James Capano said his son had volunteered to share his explosives expertise with military personnel in Iraq.  “He knew what he was doing, and he was the best one they had,” James Capano proudly said.  A tearful Rep. Peter Kingconsoled the elder Capano on the blood-stained sidewalk outside the pharmacy New Year’s morning.  King’s wife was slain agent’s fourth grade teacher.  “I’ve known John Capano for years,” King said, recalling giving Capano an award for bravery during a four-month tour of Iraq and Afghanistan.  “He had a unique personality, a great personality,” King said. “Everybody loved him.”

James Capano, Agent Capano’s father.  His wife, Agent Capano’s mother, died two weeks ago

Capano was the last officer killed in the line of duty in 2011, bringing the total to 163, 66 of which were gun killings.  Thousands of other police were shot or attacked but survived.
Assassination-style killings — where assailants randomly shoot an officer or lie in wait for unsuspecting targets, are on the rise.  Is cultural anger directed at police — by idiotic Occupy protesters, among others — contributing to an atmosphere in which police are targets?  I think the vast majority of responsibility for the presence of dangerous offenders on our streets lies with the courts and civil rights activists who have succeeded in creating a consequence-free world for criminals.  But every little bit of scapegoating counts.  In 2012, it’s time to start speaking up for cops.

 

Sarah M. Fennell: Denied Justice? ABA and Human Rights Activists: Who Cares?

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Tonya Segars has sent me information about the following potential miscarriage of justice in the death of Sarah M. Fennell.  Please visit their site and sign the petition for more investigation of Sarah’s death.

Sarah M. Fennell

Imagine a world where the ABA and the vast constellation of human and civil rights groups bothered to make noise about victims once in a while.  No, they’re too busy advocating for criminals.

More on Mumia

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From Daniel Flynn:

Pacifica Radio aired Abu-Jamal’s commentaries after National Public Radio rethought an earlier decision to do so. Evergreen State College and Antioch College, among others, hosted the convicted murderer as a commencement speaker via audiotape. A Law & Order episode namedropped Abu-Jamal, with a character noting that the “Philadelphia journalist” was “framed for murder.” Rage Against the Machine played an infamous benefit concert for him.

And today, the Philadelphia Inquirer, which ought to know better, hijacked an editorial “remembering” Daniel Flynn to go off on a wildly inaccurate rant against the death penalty.  How offensive, on an anniversary.  When is enough enough?

Maureen Faulkner is Right: The Fight Against Mumia Will Never Be Over, as Amnesty International Proves with Their Holiday Catalogue

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Maureen Faulkner, widow of Daniel Faulkner, the officer killed by Mumia Abu Jamal 30 years ago tomorrow, has issued a statement about the decision to forego a re-sentencing hearing for Abu Jamal.  Her statement is reproduced below: contrary to some media coverage, she did not agree quietly to the decision to release her husband’s killer from his death sentence.  Instead, she has understandably lost all faith in the justice system, and she does not believe “Mumia” would ever really be executed.

 Maureen Faulkner, 30 years ago.  Still fighting Mumia Abu Jamal and his supporters today.

The Faulkner family has been under continuous attack for three decades by an astonishing cabal of the malicious and the misinformed.  Most in the media are assuming, wrongly, that Mumia’s followers will now drift off to other causes.  There’s no chance of that happening.  Amnesty International announced that appeals were continuing for Mumia.  When Amnesty mentions “international fair trial standards” below, what they mean is that they will continue to try to impose United Nations laws on our country to aid cop-killers.  From the AP:

Amnesty International, which maintains that Abu-Jamal’s trial was “manifestly unfair and failed to meet international fair trial standards,” said the district attorney’s decision [to remove Abu Jamal from death row] does not go far enough. Abu-Jamal still has an appeal pending before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court over the validity of ballistics evidence.

“Amnesty International continues to believe that justice would best be served by granting Mumia Abu-Jamal a new trial,” said Laura Moye, director of the human rights group’s Campaign to Abolish the Death Penalty.

It’s not really about the death penalty.  Once that is abolished, not a single activist will go home.  What do you think they’re going to do: announce that America is now a fair place and quit their jobs?  No, they’ll continue to bleed our justice system dry until they overturn life-without-parole, and then move on every other sentencing rule that keeps killers and rapists off the streets.  We’re in an arms race, and the anti-incarceration activists are winning, not least because we have to subsidize their activism in addition to defending against it.

Meanwhile, the Mumia cultists at Amnesty International issued a press release that calls law enforcement’s support for their fallen colleague “unseemly.”  You’d think they could have been a bit more sensitive on the 30th anniversary of Daniel Faulkner’s murder.  For the holidays, Amnesty’s also selling baby onesies, in case you want to turn your toddler into an advertisement for people who murder police:

 “All Rights for All People.”  How cute.  Except cops, of course.

Here’s a whimsical poster from their gift catalog depicting a police officer clubbing a kid, $8:

And in case your adolescents are feeling too much pride over being American, here’s a tee-shirt for them, and a map that “turns the world upside down to challenge North-South perceptions”:

 Don’t you feel less better now?
~~~

To get a taste of what Maureen Faulkner has gone through, there is a 1999 article written by her posted on the very interesting website, Pro-Death Penalty.  Today, Faulkner posted the following statement on her own website.  It’s damning.  Too bad the media wasn’t interested in giving her space to say it, considering all the space they lavish on Abu Jamal’s claims:

Statement from Maureen Faulkner

After enduring 30 years of emotional and physical hell as I’ve suffered through the appeals process, I am now convinced that when a death sentence is at issue, the judges of the Federal District Courts and the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals simply do as they want, not as the law dictates. Judges Yohn, Scirica, Cowen and Ambro oppose the death penalty, so they shape the law to suit their personal needs. This isn’t just me venting. It’s a fact that’s supported by the numbers. The dirty little secret about the death penalty in Pennsylvania that nobody wants to come to grips with is that since the death penalty was re-instated by the U. S. Supreme Court in 1976, there have been hundreds of death sentences imposed by Pennsylvania juries. Yet, after three decades of trying, not a single one of them– including my husband’s case — has managed to successfully make it through the Federal appeals gauntlet. How is it possible that over the course of three decades all District Attorneys combined have gone 0 for several hundred on their appeals?

The disgusting reality with the death penalty in Pennsylvania is that the fix is in before the hearings even begin, and federal judges, including the 4 dishonest cowards who presided over my husband’s case, are the fixers.

My family and I have endured a three-decade ordeal at the hands of Mumia Abu-Jamal, his attorneys and his supporters; who in many cases never even took the time to educate themselves about the case before lending their names, giving their support and advocating for his freedom. All of this has taken an unimaginable physical, emotional and financial toll on each of us. Over the past few months, we have anguished over the two terrible options we are presented with. Should we choose a new sentencing hearing, it would undoubtedly take months to complete and come at an extreme cost to the citizens of Philadelphia. It will undoubtedly be a venue for every fringe group imaginable. Droves of sleazy Human Rights lawyers will want to weigh in with amicus briefs. The list of character witnesses for Abu-Jamal would be a rouges gallery of the Hate America First crowd, and unlike he did at the 1982 sentencing hearing, this time around he will undoubtedly keep his vile mouth shut and portray the image of “a man filled with soulful humanity” as his former attorney once described him and not the seething animal he was at the 1982 hearing. The damning testimony of several key eyewitness who are now deceased will have to be read to the jury without emotion and the District Attorney will have the unenviable challenge of seating an impartial jury without being duped by even a single person who intends to nullify the death sentence. Should the jury decide on a death sentence again as they should, we would then start the whole decades-long appeals process over again, and we will be forced to repeat the past 30 years as if they never happened.

Given that we would be forced back into the same foul legal system that has failed us for so long and the morally dishonest judges we would undoubtedly be confronted with if there were a new sentencing hearing, we have asked Seth Williams to deny such a hearing and agree to have Mumia Abu-Jamal’s sentence be reduced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

This decision certainly does not mark the end of my journey, nor will I stop fighting to see justice done for my husband. Rest assured I will now fight with every ounce of energy I have to see that Mumia Abu-Jamal receives absolutely no special treatment when he is removed from death row. I will not stand by and see him coddled — as he has been in the past — and I am heartened by the thought that he will finally be taken from the protected cloister he has been living in all these years and begin living among his own kind; the thugs and common criminals that infest our prisons. I will hold any official who attempts to help Abu-Jamal improve his situation publicly and legally accountable for as long as I live.

In closing, I’d like to say that I believe the lowest dimension of hell has been reserved for child molesters and unrepentant murderers like Mumia Abu-Jamal. After 30 years of waiting, the time remaining before Abu-Jamal stands before his ultimate judge doesn’t seem quite so far off as it once did when I was younger. I look forward to that day, so I can finally close the book on this chapter of my life and live with the gratification and assurance that Mumia Abu-Jamal has finally received the punishment he deserves for all eternity.

Thank you.

Maureen Faulkner

Anarchy, Socialism, Freedom, and Running At Night

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Last night, around 8, I went running in my neighborhood.

I had my dog with me.  A cattle dog, well-trained, loping like a wolf, loving the weirdness of being outside after dark.  She’s a night girl like me.  I’d been feeling deeply awful for days — flu, bronchitis, but suddenly the softness of the Florida air, and the warmth of November on the West Coast, and the dark brightness of lights rippling off water stirred some reserve in me and I was off like my lungs hadn’t been hacking up fluids for days, running like a bullet.

If only I had been a bullet.

I hadn’t gone a mile before some s***head in a truck pulled up and asked if I wanted a ride.  What, me and my dog wanted a ride?  Jogging on a sidewalk, we wanted a ride?

I have a hard time explaining this to some people.  I don’t want to whine about men, or the state of the world, but it’s been years since I’ve felt safe enough to run before or after sunrise, which is the only time you can run outside much of the year where I live, and it’s been years since I’ve had a dog who could run at all, and I was being careful by going from house to house to house of people I knew, intentionally — from the folks who own the restaurant, to Yolanda’s, to Nancy’s, past the cop on the corner, to Conrad’s, to Bobby Nell’s, to James and Janelle’s, carefully so I felt some little sense that the night could belong to me and that I wasn’t taking anything that even resembled a risk, but there are crappy people everywhere, and often evidence of prostitution at the end of the road in the morning, and more than once a man pulled up by the waterfront down the street from my house in broad daylight even (how could it matter that much?), and then last night I was just feeling the night air and there he was: stupidity, threat, and unknown quantity pulling up out of the darkness.

So I leaned towards his rolled-down window and said to him in my calmest, most matter-of-fact voice:

“I’m going to cut you with broken glass.”

And he uttered objectionable sexist pejoratives and sped away.  Under the circumstances, what else would he, or I, do?

I’ve always wanted to think that men like that would pause for a moment and just apologize for ruining the black soft asphalt smell, and the exuberance of sensing the stingrays and sharks and dolphins and manatees hovering in the rimming black water, and the ospreys and owls and squirrels hovering in the palmettos — that he might apologize for ruining all that hovering and quivering presence, which is what is really extraordinary about Florida.

But life isn’t like that.  There just isn’t enough of Robert Herrick, seeing:

how amber through the streams
More gently strokes the sight
With some conceal’d delight

And so on.

Screw it.  I’m tired of being afraid.  Last night when I wrote this, this is the part where I expressed anger, and I took the section out, because as someone very wise once told me, someone who was nearly prosecuted for shooting a thug who was pistol-whipping him during an armed robbery as he tried to save his co-worker’s life . . . well, in the spirit of the comment itself I won’t say exactly what he said to me, but it’s true that one should never make a point of literally documenting one’s hand in writing.

Because I want to enjoy the soft beauty of the coastal Florida night.  And I don’t want to upset my dog or frighten the neighbors, nor the manatees, who subsist on nothing harsher than lettuce and young mangrove shoots.

Ecosystems ought to be preserved.  Women ought to be able to run at night.

I’ve had ecosystems on the mind lately, because so many people are trying to tear them down in the name of “rescuing” them.  I’ve been thinking about how ironic it is that the protestors, whether on college campuses or city parks, are all so extremely naive about the ways they are being used by professional protestors — capital-A Anarchists, in every sense of the word — who are hell-bent on tearing down everything around them.  They say they want to tear down “capitalism” but thanks to the Anarchists they’re really starting with attacking laws that are the only thing that stand between us and chaos.

They say they want “freedom of thought” and “freedom to go where they want,” but the very first thing the Occupy Anarchist puppet masters (as distinct from the ubiquitous Occupy puppeteers) did was silence and repress women by demanding that women do nothing about being raped at Occupy sites: thus the very first accomplishment of the Occupy movement has been to make it less possible for women to go where they want to go and experience the very freedom that is supposed to be the movement’s goal.

This is hardly accidental.  I spent enough time on the Left to realize that the world’s worst most sexist creeps gravitate to extreme Leftist politics, and I spent enough time researching social movements of the past to realize that this condition is central to all revolutionary activism, not some aberration merely concurrent with the rise of bell bottoms.

Socialist creeps in the 19th century demanded that women practice free love to demonstrate their commitment to the cause of spreading socialism, just as Bill Ayers demanded the same of some girlfriend in an apartment in the 1960’s to prove her commitment to racial equality.  19th century anarchists like Charles L. Govan insisted that families and familial relations must be destroyed in favor of mutual philandering, the only true freedom to Govan and one given the predictably creepy name of “Voluntary Cooperation.”

Govan (on the left), practicing Voluntary Cooperation at Home Colony in Pierce County, Washington?

Look back to the late 19th Century and what you find there is a bunch of Anarchists saying things about sex and marriage that wouldn’t be out of place in the infamous “campus sex codes” established by feminists today, while simultaneously insinuating themselves in the larger American socialist movement with the explicit aim of using socialism’s tools to tear down capitalism’s house, then socialism’s house, then their own houses just to be consistent, until everyone would just wander around having Voluntary Cooperation with each other while the cows milked themselves.

You know, like the Occupy protestors.

I realized a long time ago that the utopia imagined by Leftists would not be the type of place where I could go running in the moonlight, whereas places created by the types of people who don’t feel the compulsion to make up disturbingly bloodless titles for stuff like “sex” are the ones who can be trusted to create the types of places where women can walk alone when they feel like it.

Behind all the infantile posturing and useful idiocy about to be unleashed on the United States over the next several months is one very ugly truth: these people want to create a world that is very much worse than this one.  And despite the silliness of their visible facade, for the first time in my life I think the activists on the far Left are powerful enough to actually create real destruction.  They have the institutions, having insinuated themselves in NGOs and government bureaucracies and especially throughout academia.  They have the money, much of it from George Soros, which is why I think it’s so important to look at the ways he is trying to dismantle the American legal system by targeting policing, and courts, and elections.

The streets where I run used to be named after socialist heroes because the town I live in was founded as a socialist colony in 1911.  But those people harbored a very real and healthy suspicion of itinerant anarchists who had managed to destroy other small socialist collectives in other states.  So they survived, and evolved, through hard work, vigilance, religious faith, family values, and real voluntary cooperation, not the type that needs to be dictated to you by some bearded, wild-eyed ideologue.  That’s why I can even think about running at night here, now.

It’s a lesson we had all soon better revisit.

In a nutshell: cows don’t milk themselves.

Today Detroit: Tomorrow Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco . . .

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Probation instead of prison = more murders (link broken).

Sort of gives a new meaning to the Department of Justice’s massive push to defund incarceration and subsidize Prisoner Re-Entry instead:

Detroit Police chief: Homicides spike 31%; overall crime down

Mark Hicks/ The Detroit News

Detroit— The Detroit Police Department’s crime figures released Monday for the third quarter show 23 more homicides compared to the same period last year, a 31 percent increase.

The latest crime figures show a nearly 19 percent hike in murders so far over 2010, with 301 homicides citywide through Sunday.

Overall crime is down about 7 percent from July 1 to Sept. 30, Police Chief Ralph Godbee said.

The department is having “a bear of a time getting our arms around” the widespread number of guns in the city, resulting in more violent conflicts, he told residents at the Breithaupt Career & Technical Center on the city’s west side.

Some of the homicides also involved suspects who were on probation for other previous crimes, said Inspector Dwane Blackmon of the homicide unit.

“It’s important to note those who are constantly causing havoc in the community… have been placed on probation,” he said.

Expect more of the same as well-funded activists fight to overturn two- and three-strikes laws and minimum mandatory sentencing, and California prepares mass early releases of prisoners.

Oddly, in Detroit, other types of crime are down.  Or they may simply be being reported or recorded less.  You can’t hide a body as easily as you can overlook other types of incidents.  See here for a related post.

In other Detroit crime news, public bus drivers are still protesting dangerous conditions on the job:

Bus service in Detroit resumed Monday for the first full weekday since more than 100 drivers shut down the system for hours Friday morning, citing concern for their safety. The lack of bus service Friday prevented many Detroiters from making it to work or school on time. . .

Mayor Dave Bing ended the shutdown Friday by promising to use Detroit Police to heighten security, which pleased drivers and riders alike. Drivers were protesting an alleged attack on a colleague Thursday at the Rosa Parks Transit Center in downtown Detroit.

“It’s sad that that had to happen for us to get some attention,” said 20-year DDOT driver Charles Kimbrough. “We need help out here. We need help badly.”

Kimbrough, 44, had Friday off, but he wouldn’t have driven his bus if he had a shift. He stands in solidarity with the other drivers, and the alleged assault Thursday was the tipping point for drivers who feel unsafe because of criminal activity on DDOT buses.

“I know people that have been stabbed, spit on,” he said. “It ain’t nothing new to me.”

Asked how often he feels safe driving, Kimbrough quickly said, “Never.” Riders have put their hands on him, and he’s not allowed to carry a weapon for protection. He keeps the job to support his family.

There’s an easy solution for all of this: impose consequences for crime, instead of literally imprisoning everyone else in the city.  It’s one or the other.

Why No Action in the Murder of Bria Metz? Or, How to Derail Justice by Driving Up Costs

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I heard from the father of Bria Metz yesterday: he said it’s been two years since Bria’s murderer, Aurelio Martinez, confessed to the crime.  Yet Martinez still hasn’t been to trial or been sentenced.

Bria Metz, murdered at 17, her body was abandoned by the side of a highway

Aurelio Martinez, sex offender and child abuser, confessed to killing Bria

The state of Florida also hasn’t gotten around to resolving Martinez’ 2003 felony child abuse and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charges.  Apparently, the authorities are too busy doing other things.

Here is my previous post on the disgraceful record of Florida’s serial failure to keep the public safe from Aurelio Martinez.

So why does it take years to try a case in which the murderer confessed?  The answer lies in the machinations of the defense bar, and the perverse, outsized power they wield over criminal procedure and admission of evidence in our courts.  I don’t use the term perverse lightly — while the Florida Bar grandstands around the state pretending to examine problems of evidence that are either exceedingly isolated incidents or trumped-up claims by professional activists using fake statistics and faked “studies,” real problems that result in real denials of justice fester, unresolved — for many thousands of victims who will never receive justice as a result.

It would be nice if the Bar cared about that.  They don’t.

Here is a record of the docket entries in one of Martinez’ current charges.  Some entries are routine paperwork.  Others represent the types of manipulation that defund the courts.  Remember that most docket entries equal your money being spent in some way, large or small — and 155 docket entries into this murder case, there still hasn’t been a trial, just machinations and delays.

Martinez is also churning attorneys — another behavior designed to postpone trial, and a strategy frequently abetted by the defense attorneys themselves.  Must be nice to have that sort of power over other people’s money — and the administration of justice.

Imagine that you are the parent of a murdered child, forced to witness this drawn-out manipulation of procedural rules.  Bria’s family will likely be enduring this sickening game for the rest of their lives.  In the eyes of our legal system, Aurelio Martinez is the victim now:

Pinellas Case Uniform Case Entitlement Date Filed
CRC0912955CFANO 522009CF012955XXXXNO STATE VS MARTINEZ, 06/23/2009
Type Apr Cal Final Disposition Comp Division
01/30/2012 TRL M
Reset Original Sort Docket Date Docket Entry Defendant
1 11/01/2011 REMOVE FROM: MTN/HRG) A
2 11/01/2011 REMOVE FROM: MTN 110311/0830 AM -M-(REMOVE FROM A
3 10/17/2011 NOTICE RETURNED SERVED A
4 10/12/2011 NOTICE OF TRIAL – 013012 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
5 10/11/2011 REMOVE FROM: TRL 110711/0830 AM -M- A
6 10/11/2011 TRIAL SET: 013012/0830 AM -M- BRING A
7 10/11/2011 ORDER GRANTING: D/MTN TO CONTINUE TRIAL A
8 10/07/2011 NOTICE RETURNED SERVED A
9 10/04/2011 WITNESS SUBPOENA RETURNED A
10 10/04/2011 NOTICE OF HEARING – 110311 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
11 10/03/2011 WITNESS SUBPOENA RETURNED A
12 10/03/2011 NOTICE OF HEARING: 101111/0830 AM – MTN TO CONTINUE A
13 10/03/2011 WITNESS SUBPOENA RETURNED A
14 09/30/2011 WITNESS SUBPOENA RETURNED (2) A
15 09/28/2011 MOTION: TO CONTINUE TRIAL (2ND) A
16 09/27/2011 WITNESS SUBPOENA RETURNED A
17 09/27/2011 SUBPOENA (028) STATE A
18 09/26/2011 WITNESS SUBPOENA RETURNED A
19 09/23/2011 WITNESS SUBPOENA RETURNED A
20 09/22/2011 WITNESS SUBPOENA RETURNED A
21 09/21/2011 WITNESS SUBPOENA RETURNED A
22 09/19/2011 WITNESS SUBPOENA RETURNED (3) A
23 09/01/2011 ACK OF ADDL TANGIBLE EVIDENCE A
24 08/31/2011 NOTICE OF TAKING DEPOSITION (2) A
25 08/19/2011 ACK OF ADDL TANGIBLE EVIDENCE A
26 06/24/2011 NOTICE RETURNED SERVED A
27 06/20/2011 NOTICE OF TRIAL – 110711 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
28 06/17/2011 REMOVE FROM: TRL 082911/0830 AM -M- A
29 06/17/2011 TRIAL SET: 110711/0830 AM -M- A
30 06/17/2011 MOTION WITHDRAWN D/MTN TO COMPEL A
31 06/17/2011 ORDER GRANTING: D/MTN TO CONTINUE TRIAL A
32 06/09/2011 MTN/COMPEL MORE ADEQUATE DISCOVERY A
33 06/09/2011 NOTICE OF HEARING: 061711/0830 AM – MTN/CONTINUE TRIAL & A
34 06/09/2011 MOTION: TO CONTINUE TRIAL A
35 04/28/2011 ATTORNEY APPOINTED: SIMONE LENNON A
36 04/28/2011 REGIONAL COUNSEL WITHDRAWN A
37 04/28/2011 TO CONFLICT (FORSETT HEARING) A
38 04/28/2011 ORDER GRANTING: D/MOTION TO WITHDRAW AS COUNSEL DUE A
39 04/18/2011 NOTICE RETURNED SERVED A
40 04/13/2011 NOTICE OF TRIAL – 082911 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
41 04/12/2011 TRIAL SET: 082911/0830 AM -M- A
42 03/07/2011 NOTICE OF: CANCELLATION OF DEPOSITION 040811 A
43 03/07/2011 NOTICE OF TAKING DEPOSITION A
44 03/02/2011 NOTICE RETURNED SERVED A
45 02/28/2011 NOTICE RETURNED SERVED A
46 02/23/2011 NOTICE OF PRE-TRIAL – 041211 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
47 02/22/2011 PRE-TRIAL HRG SET: 041211/0830 AM -M- A
48 02/22/2011 ORDER DENYING: PROSE/MTN TO DISMISS COUNSEL A
49 02/14/2011 ADDITIONAL LIST OF WITNESSES A
50 02/10/2011 NOTICE RETURNED SERVED A
51 02/08/2011 NOTICE OF TAKING DEPOSITION A
52 02/07/2011 NOTICE OF PRE-TRIAL – 022211 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
53 02/04/2011 REMOVE FROM: TRL 022211/0830 AM -M- A
54 02/04/2011 PRE-TRIAL HRG SET: 022211/0830 AM -M- A
55 02/04/2011 COUNSEL A
56 02/04/2011 HEARING SET: 022211/0830 AM -M- MTN TO DISMISS A
57 02/04/2011 AT 8:30 A
58 02/04/2011 REMOVE FROM MOTION CALENDAR 2/17/11 A
59 02/04/2011 ORDER GRANTING: D/MTN TO CONTINUE TRIAL A
60 02/01/2011 DEFT’S. MOTION: FOR CONTINUANCE OF TRIAL A
61 02/01/2011 HEARING SET: 020411/0830 AM -M- MTN TO CONTINUE A
62 01/28/2011 NOTICE RETURNED SERVED A
63 01/25/2011 NOTICE OF HEARING – 021711 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
64 01/19/2011 PRO SE MOTION: TO DISMISS COUNSEL A
65 01/18/2011 WITNESS SUBPOENA RETURNED (2) A
66 01/13/2011 SUBPOENA (028) STATE A
67 01/04/2011 NOTICE OF TAKING DEPOSITION A
68 12/13/2010 ADDITIONAL LIST OF WITNESSES A
69 12/09/2010 ADDITIONAL LIST OF WITNESSES A
70 11/23/2010 LETTER – COURT TO DEFT ACKNOWLEDGING RECEIPT OF LETTER A
71 11/23/2010 LETTER-DEFT TO COURT: RE: COMPLAINT CONCERNING ATTORNEY A
72 10/22/2010 WITNESS SUBPOENA RETURNED (3) A
73 10/20/2010 WITNESS SUBPOENA RETURNED (3) A
74 10/18/2010 WITNESS SUBPOENA RETURNED A
75 10/13/2010 NOTICE OF TAKING DEPOSITION A
76 10/12/2010 LETTER-DEFT TO CLK: REQT TO DISMISS COUNSEL A
77 10/08/2010 NOTICE RETURNED SERVED A
78 10/04/2010 NOTICE OF TRIAL – 022211 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
79 10/01/2010 TRIAL SET: 022211/0830 AM -M- A
80 09/16/2010 LETTER-DEFT TO CLK: COMPLAINT AGAINST ATTORNEY A
81 09/16/2010 LETTER-DEFT TO COURT: REPRESENTATION A
82 09/02/2010 NOTICE RETURNED SERVED A
83 08/30/2010 NOTICE OF PRE-TRIAL – 100110 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
84 08/27/2010 PRE-TRIAL HRG SET: 100110/0830 AM -M- A
85 08/13/2010 LETTER-DEFT TO CLK: COMPLAINT CONCERNING ATTORNEY A
86 08/03/2010 LETTER-DEFT TO CLK: RE: ATTORNEY A
87 06/23/2010 NOTICE RETURNED SERVED A
88 06/21/2010 NOTICE OF PRE-TRIAL – 082710 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
89 06/18/2010 PRE-TRIAL HRG SET: 082710/0830 AM -M- A
90 06/18/2010 WAIVED RIGHT TO SPEEDY TRIAL (REAFFIRMED) A
91 06/18/2010 ORDER GRANTING: D/MTN TO CONTINUE A
92 05/05/2010 NOTICE RETURNED SERVED A
93 04/30/2010 NOTICE OF PRE-TRIAL – 061810 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
94 04/29/2010 PRE-TRIAL HRG SET: 061810/0830 AM -M- A
95 04/29/2010 WAIVED RIGHT TO SPEEDY TRIAL (REAFFIRMED) A
96 04/29/2010 ORDER GRANTING: D/MTN TO CONTINUE A
97 02/23/2010 NOTICE RETURNED SERVED A
98 02/19/2010 NOTICE OF PRE-TRIAL – 042910 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
99 02/18/2010 PRE-TRIAL HRG SET: 042910/0830 AM -M- BRING A
100 02/18/2010 ORDER GRANTING: D/MTN TO CONTINUE A
Reset Original Sort Docket Date Docket Entry Defendant
1 02/11/2010 REGIONAL COUNSEL APPOINTED A
2 02/11/2010 ORDER WITHDRAW PD DUE TO CONFLICT A
3 02/11/2010 ORDER GRANTING: PD/MTN TO WITHDRAW AS COUNSEL A
4 02/03/2010 NOTICE OF HEARING: 021110/0830 AM A
5 02/03/2010 MOTION TO WITHDRAW PUBLIC DEFENDER & A
6 01/21/2010 NOTICE RETURNED SERVED A
7 01/20/2010 ACK OF ADDL TANGIBLE EVIDENCE A
8 01/15/2010 NOTICE OF PRE-TRIAL – 021810 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
9 01/14/2010 PRE-TRIAL HRG SET: 021810/0830 AM -M- BRING A
10 11/23/2009 NOTICE RETURNED SERVED A
11 11/20/2009 NOTICE OF PRE-TRIAL – 011410 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
12 11/19/2009 PRE-TRIAL HRG SET: 011410/0830 AM -M- BRING A
13 11/19/2009 WAIVED RIGHT TO SPEEDY TRIAL (REAFFIRMED) A
14 11/19/2009 ORDER GRANTING: D/MTN TO CONTINUE A
15 10/12/2009 NOTICE RETURNED SERVED A
16 10/09/2009 NOTICE OF PRE-TRIAL – 111909 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
17 10/08/2009 PRE-TRIAL HRG SET: 111909/0830 AM -M- BRING A
18 10/08/2009 WAIVED RIGHT TO SPEEDY TRIAL A
19 09/09/2009 ACK OF ADDL TANGIBLE EVIDENCE A
20 08/14/2009 NOTICE RETURNED SERVED A
21 08/10/2009 NOTICE OF PRE-TRIAL – 100809 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
22 08/07/2009 PRE-TRIAL HRG SET: 100809/0830 AM -M- A
23 08/07/2009 WAIVED RIGHT TO SPEEDY TRIAL A
24 08/04/2009 ADDITIONAL LIST OF WITNESSES A
25 07/31/2009 DEMAND NOTICE INTENTION TO CLAIM ALIBI A
26 07/31/2009 ANSWER TO DEMAND FOR DISCOVERY A
27 07/22/2009 NOTICE RETURNED SERVED A
28 07/20/2009 NOTICE OF PRE-TRIAL – 080709 COURTROOM: M AT 08:30 A
29 07/17/2009 PRE-TRIAL HRG SET: 080709/0830 AM -M- A
30 07/10/2009 NOTICE OF DEFT QUALIFICATIONS AS A PRR – SERVED A
31 07/10/2009 NOTICE OF ENHANCED PENALTY RET’D SERVED A
32 07/08/2009 CASE REASSIGNED FROM DIV T TO DIV M BY COURT ADMIN 4180 A
33 07/06/2009 DEFT INVOCATION CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS A
34 07/01/2009 NOTICE RETURNED SERVED A
35 06/30/2009 DETERMINATION OF STATUS – INDIGENT A
36 06/30/2009 AFFIDAVIT OF INDIGENT STATUS A
37 06/29/2009 NOTICE OF ARRAIGNMENT – 071709 COURTROOM: M AT 09:00 A
38 06/26/2009 NOTICE OF DEFT QUALIFICATIONS AS A PRR A
39 06/26/2009 NOTICE OF ENHANCED PENALTY A
40 06/23/2009 WRITTEN PLEA NOT GUILTY-PUBLIC DEFENDER A
41 06/23/2009 DEMAND FOR DISCOVERY A
42 06/23/2009 PC FOUND IN POLK COUNTY A
43 06/23/2009 INDIGENT CRIMINAL DEFENSE FEE ASSESSED $ 50 A
44 06/23/2009 PUBLIC DEFENDER APPOINTED (INSOLVENCY) – PROVISIONAL A
45 06/17/2009 CASE TO BE TRANSFERRED TO PINELLAS COUNTY A
46 06/17/2009 MEMO OF SENTENCE/ORDER OF COURT (POLK CTY) A
47 06/17/2009 DEFENDANTS ELECTION OF VENUE A
48 06/03/2009 NOTICE OF HEARING RE ELECTION OF VENUE (POLK CTY) A
49 06/01/2009 DEFENDANTS ELECTION OF VENUE (POLK CTY) A
50 06/01/2009 ORDER FOLLOWING 1ST APPEARANCE (POLK CTY) A
51 06/01/2009 POLK COUNTY ARREST WARRANT A
52 05/27/2009 INFORMATION FILED: (1CT) MURDER IN THE SECOND DEGREE (PBL) A
53 05/12/2009 PINELLAS CTY ARREST AFFIDAVIT A
54 05/07/2009 ARREST WARRANT (POLK CTY) A
55 05/07/2009 COMPLAINT – COMPLAINT AFFIDAVIT SECOND DEG (POLK CTY) A

George Soros: Funding the Pro-Criminal, Anti-Cop Lobby

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Last week I spoke at a conference about George Soros, organized by Cliff Kincaid of America’s Survival.

Interviews with me and the other speakers appear here:

“Soros Files” Videos

I’m also working on a project detailing Soros’ top grantees and what they do with their money.  What does this have to do with crime?  Soros subsidizes virtually every pro-criminal, anti-victim, anti-police action in this country, whether in the courts, the halls of government, or on the streets.  I’ll be writing more about this in weeks to come.  Meanwhile, you can see profiles of his top 25 grantees at the Soros Files Website.

There’s also more about the conference at Grand Old Partisan and New Zeal Blog.

One of the other speakers at the conference was Larry Grathwohl, who risked his life by infiltrating the Weather Underground and working undercover as an informant for the FBI when the Underground was busy carrying out murderous attacks on police and soldiers.  I remember reading Larry’s book about the Weather Underground when I was in high school, at a time when terrorists like Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers were still revered as heroes in the lefty circles in upstate New York where I lived.

Now they’re just revered as heroes at places like Northwestern University, where Dohrn is a professor of law working to cripple our already-hobbled criminal justice system by imposing international “human rights” protocols on our courts.

That sounds crazy, doesn’t it?  I wish it were.

Professor Dohrn, not quite yet sipping eggnog at the Northwestern Law X-mas Party

Larry Grathwohl, infiltrated the Weather Underground before they permanently “Occupied” Academia

Copies of Grathwohl’s book (written in 1976) are still bouncing around on the internet.  He says he’s putting out a new edition soon — I hope so.  Meanwhile, you can find a used copy on Amazon — but there’s literally just a few left.

Another speaker at the conference was Trevor Loudon, who runs the extraordinary KeyWiki site:

KeyWiki is a bipartisan knowledge base focusing primarily on corruption and the covert side of politics in the United States and globally. While particular interest is taken in the left, KeyWiki serves to expose covert politics on both the left and the right of the political spectrum.

Loudon lives in New Zealand, but he knows more about state level-elected officials in America than anyone I’ve met.  Go figure.  Check your own state legislators in the KeyWiki database — you might be surprised.  Loudon is in the U.S. promoting his new book which documents Obama’s political and personal ties to radicals, communists and Marxists who openly seek to overthrow the American government: it’s called Barack Obama and the Enemies Within.  Even ardent Obama supporters ought to be willing to give the evidence a fair hearing.

I was standing next to Larry Grathwohl outside the White House last week, after visiting the (sad, creepy, and malodorous) Occupy D.C., and it dawned on me that Larry’s book was probably the only negative accounting of the Weather Underground that had crossed my path until 2001, when Bill Ayers put his foot in the hornet’s nest with a stunningly offensive interview bemoaning the fact that he “didn’t do more” — didn’t set off more bombs and kill more people . . . an interview that was published in the New York Times on the morning of 9/11 and therefore perhaps the supremely ironic final read of some who perished in the Twin Towers that day.

One person — one book — telling the truth can still change history.

Riots and Street Crime: Many Millions Gone

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I drove up to Atlanta last week and entered through the southeast side, to see the old neighborhood.  It’s been two years since I’ve been in that part of the city.

Atlanta Federal Prison, near my old house

It was a shock to see the deterioration outside the places where young professionals have rehabbed houses or built new ones.  Atlanta seems more fragmented than ever: a few blocks or neighborhoods with coffee shops, bicyclists, upscale breakfast places, landscaping, then miles of blight, where kudzu covers the detritus of abandoned or uncared-for properties.

By the federal prison, there are more abandoned houses and businesses than I saw the last time I drove through.  In Thomasville Heights, where murdered-and-missing children once gained brief attention, until there was no more money for politicians to milk from their deaths, gangs of feral children-of-children-of-children still wander the streets.  It was no place to be a child thirty years ago, and it is no place to be a child today.  How many millions of dollars have been squandered in the interim, to absolutely no effect?

Aaron Wyche, who lived in Thomasville Heights and was found dead nearby, in 1980

[I wrote about one of the unreported victims of Thomasville Heights here.]

Nothing is new except two very posh-looking public health clinics within blocks of each other. The private businesses on this stretch of road, including a grocery, a clothing store, a carwash, and a fast-food restaurant, are now all shuttered or burned out.

In my old neighborhood, the talk is all about installing increasingly ornate and expensive alarm systems, as if technology will outpace the criminal energies of the aimless children from broken homes. While living there, I repeatedly heard the lament that what was needed was more “programs” and “resources” for the “deprived” kids.  I never met anyone who could answer the question “more than what?”

None of these well-intentioned folks knew the sheer quantity and reach of the “services” that already existed, let alone the political infrastructure and clout created by them.  Conversations about expanding “services” always struck me as surreal: the programs support the behaviors that create the need for the programs.  The complaint about lack of resources for the poor is a lie.

Over the twenty years that I lived in Atlanta, gaining firsthand experience in poverty-and-social-justice programs, I cannot recall one conversation where I was able to change the mind of someone who believed that social problems persisted merely because society hadn’t “done enough” to help the underclass.  I could talk myself blue in the face naming programs and resources and community care that was already being funded; I could list the many interventions that had been attempted with this or that 14-year old repeat offender, and the response would inevitably be: “Well, we need to do more.  We don’t do enough for them.”

It’s a form of insanity, conditioned by an educational system that tells middle-class people that they should feel bad for merely existing and having more stuff than the “unfortunate.”  The riots in Britain peeled away a lot of delusions last week, forcing people over there to begin to reconsider the “more” argument, but I don’t see that happening here.  I can’t imagine an American newspaper printing any of the following:

There has been much bewildered talk about ‘feral’ children, and desperate calls upon their parents to keep them in at night and to ask them about any stolen goods they are bringing home. As if there were responsible parents in such homes! We are not merely up against feral children, but feral parents.  Of course these parents know their children are out on the streets. Of course they see them staggering back with what they have looted. But either they are too drunk or drugged or otherwise out of it to care, or else they are helping themselves to the proceeds, too . . . The result of this toxic combination of welfare and non-judgmentalism was an explosion of elective lone parenthood and dysfunctional behaviour transmitted down through the generations at the very bottom of the social heap — creating, in effect, a class apart.

–Melanie Phillips, Daily Mail

[The rioters] are an absolute deadweight upon society, because they contribute nothing yet cost the taxpayer billions. Liberal opinion holds they are victims, because society has failed to provide them with opportunities to develop their potential. Most of us would say this is nonsense. Rather, they are victims of a perverted social ethos, which elevates personal freedom to an absolute, and denies the underclass the discipline — tough love — which alone might enable some of its members to escape from the swamp of dependency in which they live.  Only education — together with politicians, judges, policemen and teachers with the courage to force feral humans to obey rules the rest of us have accepted all our lives — can provide a way forward and a way out for these people.  They are products of a culture which gives them so much unconditionally that they are let off learning how to become human beings. My dogs are better behaved and subscribe to a higher code of values . . . Unless or until those who run Britain introduce incentives for decency and impose penalties for bestiality which are today entirely lacking, there will never be a shortage of young rioters and looters such as those of the past four nights . . .

–Max Hastings, Daily Mail

I am not really very sorry for the elite liberal Londoners who have suddenly discovered what millions of others have lived with for decades. The mass criminality in the big cities is merely a speeded-up and concentrated version of life on most large [public housing] estates – fear, intimidation, cruelty, injustice, savagery towards the vulnerable and the  different, a cold sneer turned towards any plea for pity, the awful realisation that when you call for help from the authorities, none  will come.  Just look and see how many shops are protected with steel shutters, how many homes have bars on their windows. This is not new.  As the polluted flood (it is not a tide; it will not go back down again) of spite, greed and violence washes on to their very doorsteps, well-off and influential Left-wingers at last meet the filthy thing they have created, and which they ignored when it did not affect them personally.  No doubt they will find ways to save themselves. But they will not save the country. Because even now they will not admit that all their ideas are wrong, and that the policies of the past 50 years – the policies they love – have been a terrible mistake . . .

–Peter Hitchens, Daily Mail

Thank goodness for the internet, because without it, discussion of the British riots — and the “flash mob” beatings and mini-riots and toxic everyday criminality here in America — would be filtered through the sensitivities of the mainstream media, which is to say that views critical of the criminals perpetrating the violence, and the social policies enabling them, would be utterly suppressed.

I feel for my former neighbors, good people all, trying to protect their houses and loved ones with ever-more intricate alarm systems, burglar bars, reinforced doors, dogs, and guns.  But in the end, all the preparedness in the world will not protect them.  You can make your home a prison, or make sure the criminals live in one.

Taking Pretty Pictures of Anthony Sowell’s Brain: The Real Reason The Justice System’s Broke

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Anthony Sowell has been convicted of murdering eleven women and trying to kill three more.

Now that his defense team has finished lying about the evidence during the trial phase, they will now move on to lying during sentencing.

Trial lying:

Sowell’s attorneys anchored their defense on the argument that prosecutors had no hard evidence — no DNA, no fingerprints, no eyewitnesses — linking Sowell to the women’s deaths.

That would be, no hard evidence except for the bodies of the eleven women found dismembered and scattered throughout his house.  And blood from the victims on his sheets.  And so on.  Why does anyone tolerate this sort of behavior from the defense bar?

But there’s more.

Sentencing hearing lying:

Sowell’s attorneys, John Parker and Rufus Sims, have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on experts to build a case against executing Sowell.

That would be, hundreds of thousands of your dollars.

In the upcoming penalty phase, jurors might hear from neuroscientists who have interviewed Sowell at length or analyzed scans of his brain for insights into his disposition. A military expert is expected to testify about Sowell’s career as an officer and electrician in the U.S. Marine Corp.

Ah yes, the academic-driven “brain scan” racket.  Suddenly phrenology’s in fashion again.

But let’s not leave out the rest of the gravy train:

And nearly $150,000 has been paid to a social researcher, charged with the task of scouring the globe for witnesses who can testify about how Sowell became the man he is. That could include family members, former teachers or mentors who could humanize Sowell and explain what might have gone wrong in his developmental years.

The sole trajectory of criminal justice over the past half-century has been a deliberative shifting of responsibility for crime away from the offender and onto the rest of us.  Why are we paying someone to “scour the globe” for people who can “humanize” Sowell?  Why aren’t we spending that money scouring the globe making sure he didn’t discard any other dismembered bits of “non-evidentiary” female skulls and torsos for his defense attorneys to deny?  In one of the more sordid chapters of Sowell’s sordid trial, the AP withdrew a story about the eleven women’s bodies found in his home because the headline referred to Sowell as a “rapist” instead of an “attempted rapist.”  This is pointillistic, fetishistic sensitivity to a mass murderer, built on the irrelevant fiction that his 1989 conviction for rape and kidnapping wasn’t really rape and kidnapping because of a plea deal he cut to gain reduced charges.

There is no limit to the degradation of innocents in our courts today.  Why do we tolerate it?

And why do we subsidize it? I’m sure some public defense attorney charged by the hour to demand that the AP Stalinistically cleanse its headline of the undisputed fact that the woman kidnapped and tortured by Sowell in 1989 was penetrated by him, thus making it “rape” instead of “attempted rape.”

Well, at least all those systematic rapes and murders and dismemberings weren’t hate crimes.  That would have been really bad.

Mumia Abu-Jamal and Marty Hittleman: California Teachers Endorse a Cop Killer, Get Caught, Blame Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

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Question: What’s worse than a teacher’s union voting to support a cold-blooded cop killer? Answer: A teacher’s union voting to support a cold-blooded cop killer, then making up all sorts of lame excuses to the cop’s widow before hanging up on her, then running to their membership to tell an entirely different story to justify their behavior . . . by pointing fingers at  Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who, according to the California Federation of Teachers union, is forcing teachers 2000 miles away support a cop killer.

Marty Hittelman, President, California Federation of Teachers

You can’t see it in this photo, but his pants are on fire.

Two weeks ago, Kyle Olson at the site Big Government broke the troubling story about the California Teacher’s Union renewing their support for convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.  Three decades ago, Abu-Jamal gunned down police officer Daniel Faulkner.  Although the courts have permitted Abu-Jamal scores of reviews, the conviction unambiguously stands.  For background on the Mumia case and factual information and myth debunking rarely reported anymore, go to DanielFaulkner.com, the website run by Faulkner’s widow.

Support for Mumia goes way back in academic circles. In 1995, 1998, and 2000, academics took out full-page pro-Mumia ads in the New York Times. Which academics?  All the usual suspects, including Frances Fox-Pivens, whose prominence in this and other causes gives the lie to her current complaint that she was merely an anonymous scholar toiling in the stacks until Glen Beck made her a household name.  Along with Pivens, academicians who put their names in the Times on the pro-cop-killing side of the ledger include: Howard Zinn (of course), Henry Louis Gates (of course), Cornel West, Noam Chomsky, Jonathan Kozol, Angela Davis, Toni Morrison, Herbert Aptheker, Peter Matthiessen, Patricia J. Williams and Sonia Sanchez (of course, of course, of course, of course).

And hundreds more.  The California Teacher’s Union has long been pro-Mumia — in certain like-minded circles, mind you.  But now that the internet is helping get this news to the public, and thus less sympathetic audiences, the union is crying foul . . . about people actually finding out about their prima facie public act of supporting Mumia.

Weird.  Isn’t the point of voting for a resolution or taking out an ad in a newspaper getting attention?  Apparently not for the CFT.  It’s one thing to grandstand in an echo chamber; it’s something quite different to have your controversial actions blazoned in the hard light of day.  And so, union president Marty Hittelman has been flailing around, accusing journalists of participating in some conspiracy against him for merely reporting on the CFT’s public policy platform.

Maureen Faulkner

Hittelman also lashed out at Daniel Faulkner’s widow, a pretty stupid move considering her proven (and tragically well-worn) capacity to defend herself.  Maureen Faulkner, a hero of mine, pulled no punches in her encounter with Hittelman last week:

Thursday, I called and spoke with Marty Hittelman, president of the California Federation of Teachers, to inquire if I had the facts straight regarding its endorsement of the murderer of my husband.

During my brief conversation with Mr. Hittelman, I calmly asked him if he knew what happened the night my husband was murdered. He replied that he did not know and “he has not read any of the transcripts” yet, he believes “Abu-Mumia deserves a third trial.”

He told me that the resolution (by the teachers) only took one minute and he had not personally voted on it. I responded that it may have only taken one minute but the continuing trials, appeals and propaganda have resulted in many years of emotional distress for me and my family. He replied, “I’m sure it has.”

He also said this wasn’t supposed to get out into the press, asking, How did you find out about this?” I replied that I found out through the newspapers and told him, “You have no idea what victims go through when they lose a loved one to murder.” At this point, Hittelman hung up on me!

“How did you find out about this?”  What a buffoon.  You’d think Hittelman would have learned a few things since his last media wipeout, when he infamously compared the charter school movement to “lynch mobs,” then dug that hole even deeper by defending his choice of words using even less choice words.  Here is Hittelman quoted in Intercepts blog:

What’s a lynch mob? It’s when a bunch of angry citizens get together and without any study they decide to lynch somebody. And in this case (the measure), they’re going to lynch their school. If you want to call them a lynch mob, you can, but basically what they’re doing is lynching the school and all the teachers who will be fired and all the kids who will have to go to a different school.

Let me see if I can illustrate Hittelman’s thought processes:

school choice  =  lynch mob

media coverage = right-wing conspiracy

defending a cop-killer = educator union job

But, there’s more. The excellent Intercepts blog observes that Hittelman has long been deeply involved in pro-Mumia activities for at least a decade.  So he was feigning ignorance when he told Maureen Faulkner he knew little about the case.  From Intercepts:

It’s curious that Hittelman would claim to have not read “any of the transcripts” since he figures prominently in a May 2000 press release by the Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal attempting to raise funds for newspaper ads (like this one that appeared in the New York Times) advocating for a new trial. He was also a signatory to the ad. Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal [which] still exists, and Hittelman’s name still appears on the organization’s “list of supporters.”

Hittelman’s behavior places educators in California in a very difficult place.  If they don’t do something about their union president, his actions will continue to represent them.  Imagine being a student whose parent or sibling was killed by some violent thug like Mumia, knowing that the teacher sitting in the front of your classroom is officially supporting the release of a killer.  Imagine being a cop’s kid walking into a school where every single teacher is supporting people who kill cops.  That’s currently every classroom in California, a new definition of culture war.

The deception gets worse. Marty Hittleman downplayed the significance of the Mumia resolution when he spoke with Maureen Faulkner, but he took a very different stance when explaining the pro-Mumia resolution to teachers themselves.  On the CFT website, the official line on the Mumia resolution is that it is crucial for union members to support the resolution because any criticism of the union’s action on Mumia is part of a concerted attack on unions by people like Dick Cheney.  Yes, Dick Cheney is part of the conspiracy:

A few weeks after the CFT convention, a conservative activist noticed that among the CFT resolutions—posted on our website—was one supporting a new trial for Mumia Abu Jamal, a man convicted nearly three decades ago of killing a police officer in Philadelphia.  This resolution was shared with a right wing “news” website founded by Dick Cheney, which promptly created an uproar in the conservative media machine . . .

The CFT reiterates that they believe Mumia didn’t receive a fair trial, despite Hittelman’s claim that he had not even reviewed the record of the case:

The CFT does not believe he received a fair trial, and everyone who is accused of a crime deserves a fair trial.

Any criticism of anything the unions do is an attack on all workers:

Unions were built through solidarity. We would not have the 8 hour day or minimum wage laws or the weekend if working people hadn’t stood in solidarity with one another, across the country, and with other groups of citizens concerned about democratic rights—much like what is occurring today in Wisconsin and other Midwestern states where workers’ collective bargaining rights are under attack by billionaires and their right wing politician friends. If due process rights are violated anywhere it is a concern of citizens in a democracy everywhere.

You see, according to Marty Hittelman, teachers ARE Mumia.  The union is equating educators with a cop-killer, and also saying that’s a noble thing.  Demonstrations of such feelings reveal the deep pathology of the pro-criminal left, and the existence of a critical mass of people in academia who fantasize constantly about being oppressed by “lynch mobs” of  “evil Americans.”  Part of the fantasy is believing that killers in prison are the only real victims, and that crime victims are hateful mobs, and that cops are violent liars who deserve it when they get shot.

So how do California police feel about the California teachers supporting a cop-killer? Brotherhood may run deep among unions, but not so deep that police are going to overlook the CFT resolution.  So Hittelman goes on a hysterical offensive, arguing that the real issue isn’t his union’s support for Mumia but the nefarious actions of Monopoly-piece bankers and other assorted fat cats who are trying to use the teachers’ Mumia platform to drive a wedge in worker’s solidarity:

For weeks in Wisconsin, teachers and police stood side by side with other unionists and their friends in the community in demonstrations, marches, and the occupation [sic] of the Capitol in Madison, protesting the outrageous anti-worker attack . . . The story about the CFT resolution, and the way it was spun, is part of a strategy to undermine the solidarity of public sector workers, especially police and teachers.  It is also yet another attempt to distract the public from the central story of our historical moment:  the crashing of our economy by the wealthy and their Wall Street banks; their continuing successful efforts to fight paying their fair share of taxes to support the public education and services everyone needs . . .

So you see, being critical of California teachers for supporting a cop killer is oppression.  Meanwhile, according to Daniel Flynn, the (national) Fraternal Order of Police is pretty unhappy with the (national) Federation of Teachers over the California union’s actions:

On April 14, FOP National President Chuck Canterbury issued a scathing letter to American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.  In part, it read:

I cannot understand why the CFT, which like us represents rank-and-file employees, would support a murderer.  In fact, Abu-Jamal’s victim was a rank-and-file law enforcement officer and a member of F.O.P. Local Lodge #5 in Philadelphia.  I can only assume that the membership did so out of ignorance of the facts or that they were misled by this killer’s propaganda machine.  I want to set the record straight and would respectively, yet urgently, request that you and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) publicly reject this repugnant resolution.

According to Flynn, the Federation of Teachers isn’t budging, and there are now plans to pass a national resolution supporting Mumia.  Soon, teachers in every state may be throwing their support behind a brutal, unrepentant cop-killer.  And they should be taken at their word when they do it, like everyone who makes this choice, no matter if they try to weasel out of it in settings where such attitudes are inconvenient.

Serial Killer Bobby Joe Long: Why Florida Courts (And Those In Other States) Are Really Out Of Money

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This is Bobbie Joe Long:

Serial Killer Bobbie Joe Long

Bobby Joe Long raped scores of women in the Tampa Bay area and murdered as many as 11 and possibly more.  He confessed to multiple murders and there are mountains of evidence, including a victim who escaped and left personal items in his bedroom to prove she had been there.  Bobby Joe Long has been behind bars since 1984.  27 years later, we’re still paying for his legal games.  How many millions of dollars has he cost us in all that time?

He is the real reason why the entire Florida Court system is in danger of shutting down for lack of money.

Sure, there are other reasons.  There’s these guys . . .

Hon. Paul Hawkes, FL Rep. Marti Coley(R), Hon. Brad Thomas

Appellate Judges Paul Hawkes and Brad Thomas, who went on a wild spending spree with 48 million taxpayer dollars to build what is being dubbed the Taj Mahal of courthouses, complete with mahagony-lined private suites for . . . Paul Hawkes and Brad Thomas.  Yes, they are wearing cunning hardhats with their names engraved on them.

Florida’s “Taj Mahal” Appeals Court

There’s also cash flow problems due to another real estate boondoggle, the foreclosure crisis.  The State Bar says they will run out of operating funds very, very, very soon.  And what happens then?

“The courts are running out of money, and if we run out of money, we cannot keep our doors open,” said 10th Circuit Judge John Laurent, chair of the Trial Courts Budget Commission.  “It’s important we keep the doors open. One reason is access to justice, and one is public safety. I don’t think we could go for several months without a court system. No, that’s not an experiment we want to participate in.”

Access to justice and public safety: good things.

But the real problem with funding our justice system is the limitless resources and vast latitude given to any criminal who ever gets convicted of anything.  If they get convicted, that is.  According to a group of researchers who put together a list of every time Bobbie Joe Long skinned his knee or bumped his nose, his first rape charge came in 1971, when he was only 18 (a juvenile record might be sealed).  Before that he shot his dog to death through her vagina, but, whatever.  The girl wasn’t believed.  Nor apparently was his wife, a few years later.  Nor was the next rape victim who dared to put herself through reporting him in 1981, only to see him receive probation for lesser charges, then demand a retrial, receive one from some compassionate judge, and walk free, acquitted that time.  Then there was the twelve-year old girl he tried to abuse while in police custody (he got two days for that crime).  There was the hospital job where he was fired for sexual abuse of the patients, but nothing else was done.  He was hired by several other hospitals after that. Then in 1984, a gunpoint abduction charge that was reduced, astonishingly, to a fine to pay for the damage to the woman’s vehicle (which she had crashed in order to escape him).

When you read through a record like this, it’s hard to see the criminal justice system as anything other than a sort of playground for inhuman psychopaths, with defense attorneys and judges standing on the sidelines virtually encouraging the Bobbie Joe Longs of the world to go out and kill again.  I find it very hard to believe that, with the exception of the police, any of the public servants who came into contact with Long in all those years felt the least bit motivated to get him off the streets.  He did everything short of walking into a police station and confessing to raping and murdering women, and then he finally even did that, and then the location of the game changed slightly, but the courts kept playing with him and encouraging him, and they continue to do so today.

Meanwhile, what percentage of his victims received so much as one day in court to address the vicious rape and attempted murder they barely survived, or the murder of someone they loved?  How many serious violent crimes, even murders, attributed to Long were carelessly shelved without a second thought?

The reality of our criminal justice system is this:  we could spend ten times as much as we do today and 75% of crime victims still wouldn’t see their cases addressed by the system.  Liberals care only about criminals, and, increasingly, conservatives care only about cutting costs.  And liberals control the judiciary, and conservatives control the purse strings, especially in Florida.  The math isn’t hard to do.

In 1970, when Bobbie Joe Long was just beginning his violent career, Milton Eisenhower, one of the most respected criminologists in the United States, complained that of the 10 million serious crimes committed annually in the United States, only one-and-a-half percent resulted in even temporary incarceration of anyone.  Those numbers are probably better today.  But the people we trust to keep us safe have grown worse: they’re no Milton S. Eisenhower, who actually believed the justice system should protect the innocent and punish the guilty.  Bobbie Joe Long will have many more taxpayer-subsidized days in court, probably in the Taj Mahal, which is essentially a playground for him and his peers.

The War on Cops: Blame the Courts, Not the Police.

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It is not yet August, and 94 police officers have been killed in the line of duty this year, 87 by the mid-year mark (June 30), and seven more in July.  That’s an increase of 43% since 2009.  But another fact emerging from the statistics is even more chilling: gun killings of officers have more than doubled in the last twenty-four months, rising 22% in 2008 – 2009, and a staggering 41% in 2009 – 2010.

That is an increase of 63% in just two years.

Those numbers are only fatalities.  Attempted murders — including nonfatal gunshots, stabbings, attacks with vehicles, and other aggravated assaults — aren’t counted.  In Tampa Bay, where I live, four police officers were actually shot last month, in two separate incidents in the last week of June.  Two officers survived serious gunshot wounds.  Two others, David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab, did not.  Kocab’s wife, Sara, who was nine months pregnant with their first child when her husband was gunned down, delivered a stillborn baby a few days ago.

Then she got up the next day and went from the hospital to court to face her husband’s killer:

Profile in Courage: Sara Kocab (on the right) in Court

Over the weekend, Chicago buried the third cop ambushed in that city in recent weeks. Also over the weekend, a policeman was shot dead in Detroit, bringing the year’s total there to three.  Warnings have appeared in the Chicago media alleging that more cops will be targeted.  This is especially troubling because all the recently murdered officers were felled in surprise attacks.

Just days after [Michael] Bailey’s death, there is a new warning. The police department has acknowledged that both District 3 and District 6 in Chatham, near Officer Bailey’s home, have received phone call threats against its officers. Text messages containing the gist of the threat and a warning have been circulating among officers there.  “More police officers will be shot&gang bangers in the area are passing the word&every night they will be ambushing police in the Chatham area. Please pass along this info and please be safe,” reads one of the text messages.

Imagine the response if “gang bangers” were targeting anyone other than police.  We have come to expect this and even accept it.  The nation’s top Justice Department official, Eric Holder, has said nothing about the slaughter of cops (he is, after all, a man with a history of pushing clemency for cop killers).  The President, who singled out individual police for public excoriation, somehow can’t seem to find the time to recognize these officers’ sacrifices, even when the murdered police hailed from his own hometown and lived lives steeped in the community volunteerism the President claims to value.

Other than covering crime scenes and funerals, the media has remained almost entirely silent about the war on cops — except when they’re pointing fingers at the police.  But what’s really driving this war?  Even the most cursory survey of cop killings offers a single, extremely obvious answer: courtroom-bred, free-range, grudge-bearing recidivism.  A culture of excessively lenient sentencing emboldens thugs and is papered over by opinion-makers who wouldn’t dream of criticizing the sentencing judges or even the “gang bangers” themselves.

After all, newspaper columnists and reporters wouldn’t want to lose their all-important insider status.  Invitations dry up when you ask the wrong questions, and who wants to blame poor youth when there’s a cop, any cop at all, to finger?

So, at best, you get schizophrenic reporting, like this seemingly promising article by the Chicago Sun-Times.   The reporters flirt with a few facts but end up defaulting to a blame the cops mantra:

This is the story of why they won’t stop shooting in Chicago.  It’s told by the wounded, the accused and the officers [not so much by the officers] who were on the street during a weekend in April 2008 when 40 people were shot, seven fatally.  Two years later, the grim reality is this: Nearly all of the shooters from that weekend have escaped charges. “You don’t go to jail for shooting people,” says Dontae Gamble, who took six bullets that weekend, only to see his alleged shooter walk free.  “That’s why m————- think they can get back on the streets and kill again. You feel me?”

OK, Dontae, so there are no consequences for shooting people.  Who do we blame for this?

So far, not one accused shooter has been convicted of pulling the trigger during those deadly 59 hours from April 18-20 of that year, a Chicago Sun-Times investigation has found.  Only one suspected triggerman — a convicted armed robber caught with the AK-47 he allegedly used to blow away his boss — is in jail awaiting trial.

And why is that?  Why does it take two+ years to bring an accused killer to trial?  Might there be something wrong with the courts?

Oh goodness, no.  That couldn’t be. Or if there were, reporters couldn’t possibly investigate, because then they might not get invited to boozy lunches with important lawyers and politicians and judges.

It must be the police’s fault.  Cue, curtain left:

The Chicago Police Department’s batting average for catching shooters has fallen to an alarmingly low level. Detectives cleared 18 percent of the 1,812 non-fatal shootings last year. They were slightly better in catching killers — 30 percent of murders were cleared in 2009.  But here’s the catch: When police “clear” a case, that doesn’t always mean a suspect got convicted — or even charged.  Sometimes police seek charges against a suspect, but the state’s attorney won’t prosecute without more evidence. Other times, the shooter is dead, or the victim refuses to testify after identifying the shooter. Cops call those “exceptional” clearances.

Except . . . it’s not “cops” who make up this lingo, or this accounting system, or these statistics.  It’s not as if your front-line street cop wakes up in the morning and says, hey, here’s how I’m gonna enforce the law today.  Police brass and other political appointees, D.A.s, judges: they’re the ones who make the decisions.

But the Sun-Times reporters make it sound as if the only people with any agency, or any responsibility, in the entire justice system are the street cops.

This is the way the vast majority of reporters report crime: they simply don’t bother to look behind things like failed clearance numbers and ask why it’s so hard to satisfy the current status quo for removing known, armed, violent, recidivist felons from the streets.

They don’t bother to ask why evidence that would have sufficed for a conviction twenty years ago isn’t good enough today, or why prosecutors don’t try to bring every charge possible against known, dangerous offenders.  Reporters certainly don’t go to the guy in the black robe and ask why that convicted armed robber who “blew away his boss” with an AK-47 was out on the streets in the first place.

That type of question is considered off-limits, whereas no question about even the greenest police recruit is off-limits.

How many times do judges even have to say no-comment?  You don’t have to not comment if you don’t get asked anything in the first place.

Better to just criticize police.

The Sun-Times story continues with one “gang banger” shooting another “gang banger” who claims he’s too afraid to testify but isn’t too afraid to try to get money out of the government’s victim compensation fund.  Next, the reporter spends an inordinate amount of time following the victim around town as he pontificates against the police while bragging that he has forgiven (and refused to testify against) the thug who shot him.  After recovering from his wounds (doubtlessly on the public dime), then wasting months of police and courtroom resources, Willie Brown changed his testimony but suffered no consequences:

‘I could be Willie the Rat, but I don’t care about s— like that,” Willie Brown said while rolling a joint near Sheridan and Wilson in the Uptown neighborhood.  Brown is 28. He lives in a run-down high-rise and walks with a limp because he got shot in the leg.  He said he was a bad kid, a teenage Vice Lord and stickup man who did prison time for robbing a corner store with a toy pistol in 2003 while high on weed and angel dust. He had the munchies that day and was looking to steal “wam wams and zoom zooms” — prison talk for snacks — when a police officer saw the gun poking from Brown’s waistband and arrested him. He was paroled in 2007.

Did the reporter even bother to check Brown’s real record?  His arrest record?  Just took his word for it?

On April 18, 2008, Brown took a bullet in his upper right thigh outside 1012 W. Sunnyside. He was the 10th person to get shot on that bloody April 2008 weekend.  “That was a horrific moment,” Brown said.  He says he saw the guy who shot him.  Heck, he even talked to the alleged shooter, Darnell Robinson.  Brown was on his way to buy beer about 11:30 p.m. that Friday when Robinson and his brother stopped him in the street.  Robinson supposedly asked, “What is you?” — street slang for “What gang are you in?”  Brown said he told them about his past Vice Lords affiliation.  Robinson said he was in the “Taliban” before he started shooting, according to Brown.

Nice.  Every Chicago cop’s spouse knows that this is what their husband or wife is walking into, every day.

Police arrested Robinson, who was 31 at the time and had been behind bars for residential burglary and selling drugs. Brown identified Robinson as the shooter, and the case headed for a trial.  Robinson, who claimed he was innocent in jailhouse interviews with the Sun-Times, sat in Cook County jail for 13 months until prosecutors had to let him go because Brown changed his story several times.  Why did Brown’s story change? Because “my momma told me to,” he said.  “I did it so he could go home. I’m not no stool pigeon,” Brown said, recounting his story while scarfing down McNuggets at a McDonald’s in Uptown.  “I don’t have anything against him — it’s like he never shot me. I wouldn’t want to see the m———– sitting in jail because that [jail] is hell. I spared that dude. That’s all I did. I did it for my mom.”

How touching.  Our tax dollars support this behavior from beginning, to middle, to violent, bloody end.  This is how cops and other innocent people end up getting shot on the streets.  How about interviewing the judge or parole board officer who let Robinson go free the last time?  Brown?  How about reviewing their real records, step by expensive, bloody step through the courts?

But at least Brown screwed the system “for his mom.”  I wonder if Hallmark makes cards for that.

Brown said he sometimes bumps into Robinson on the street.  “I talked to the guy. He said he was sorry. I said, ‘Forget about it. Don’t worry about it.’ . . . I feel like I should have forgiven [him] for they know not what they do. He needs to be happy and thank God like I did. Everybody should go by that code.”  And in that moment — as Brown talked about forgiveness as his brand of nonviolent street justice — Robinson walked into the McDonald’s with two friends.  “There he is. That’s him right there!” Brown said.  The accused shooter and the victim awkwardly shook hands and hugged — each assuring the other, “We cool.”  Robinson nervously asked if reporters at the table were police officers. Robinson said repeatedly that he didn’t shoot Brown, but he wouldn’t talk more about it unless he was paid $30. Then he disappeared down Wilson Avenue, heading east toward the lake.  Brown said he and Robinson have a simple understanding: “Don’t f— with me. I won’t f— with you.”

Yes, until the next time.  Why didn’t the prosecutor go ahead with the trial anyway?  The public is sick of this.  Or throw Brown in jail alongside Robinson, for lying and changing his story, for false accusations?  How about making Brown pay for his hospital bills if he won’t cooperate with the prosecution?  Would anything short of zero tolerance guarantee that either of these felonious buffoons will live to old age, or at least not kill anyone besides themselves?  And: “forgiveness [is] his brand of nonviolent street justice”???

Among all the prayers this tableau summons, one can only pray that the reporter was attempting irony.

The newspaper article ends with another drug dealer (this one shot, self-admittedly, in a “deal gone bad”) who complains that the cops didn’t do a good enough job investigating his case (though it is a judge who dismisses the charges).  Funny how even the worst thugs know which side of the bread is buttered and kiss up to judges.

So, in the final analysis, courtroom failures don’t exist and the police are responsible for snitching, for the culture of no-snitching, for the lack of evidence, for the rejection of evidence, for being too tough, for being too weak, for responding to crimes, for not responding . . . for merely existing while some thug sits in McDonald’s stuffing his face, pontificating his views on police performance at a reporter who is hopefully just pretending to hang on his every word:

[Repeat felon and shooting victim Dontae] Gamble also said authorities should have done a better job of investigating, putting together a stronger case and getting their facts straight since a judge might not believe a guy like him.

This would be laughable if police weren’t dying.

It’s too bad the Sun-Times reporters spent all their time eliciting opinions from people like Dontae Gamble and Willie Brown instead of focusing on the one striking fact buried amidst all the street-gang high-fives and sentimentalist clap-trap, because this fact explains entirely why police are dying on Chicago’s streets and elsewhere.  It should have been the starting point for the article they should have written:

Shooting victims in Chicago are almost as likely to have a long rap sheet as the shooters. In 2008, 72 percent of murder victims and 91 percent of accused killers had arrest histories, according to police statistics.

Long rap sheets.  Recidivists all.  If 91% of accused killers in Chicago have long arrest histories, it is not the police who are to blame for their presence on the streets: it is the courts and corrections systems that repeatedly cut them breaks and cut them loose.  The recent killer of two police in Tampa had a long rap sheet, as did the man who shot the two other officers who survived, as did the man who shot another Tampa cop last year, as did all the known cop killers in Chicago, and Detroit, and in Oakland and Seattle and L.A.  And so on and on and on.

~~~

The media may have dropped the ball on the war on cops, but thanks to the internet there are other sources of information from police themselves and police-turned-bloggers.  This article, by Dave Smith at PoliceOne blog is worth a thousand afternoons with the likes of Dontae Gamble.  And this column, by Chicago Sun Times columnist Michael Sneed, counters several ill-times, ham-handed screeds by Sneed’s anti-cop colleagues at the paper.

Two Tampa-Area Police Dead, Two Others Wounded: It’s Time for a Citizen’s Review Panel . . . of the Courts

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The Tampa Bay area is reeling from four police shootings, two fatal, two non-fatal only because the officers were wearing bullet-proof vests.

This morning, Tampa officers Jeffrey Kocab and David Curtis were killed at a traffic stop.  David Curtis was the father of four young children.  He worked the overnight shift so he could spend more time with his children.  Jeffrey Kocab was about to become a father: he leaves behind a wife who is nine months pregnant.

Jeffrey Kocab                          David Curtis

Even in death, David Curtis is continuing to serve.  His organs are being harvested today to save the lives of people he never met.  In the next few weeks, Jeffrey Kocab’s wife will bury her young husband and give birth to his child.

~~~

Of course, the person being sought in these murders has a long record and should have been in prison:

Police said they are looking for Dontae Rashawn Morris, 24, and Cortnee’ Nicole Brantley, 22, but have not named them as suspects.  Morris was released from state prison in April after serving two years on a drug conviction in Hillsborough County, records show.  In October 2005, he was arrested by Tampa police on charges of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated battery with a firearm and robbery. He was found not guilty.

Morris spend nine months in prison, starting in 2004, for several cocaine charges.  Upon release, he was quickly re-arrested and charged with murder, aggravated battery with a firearm, and robbery.  Some judge or jury acquitted him.  Why, I wonder.  Surely, with multiple gun charges, and an attempted murder, there was evidence.  Police did manage to put him away again after the murder acquittal — on yet more drug charges accumulated over two years.  He went back to prison in 2008 and got out two months ago.

Why didn’t the murder charges stick in 2005?  Why wasn’t Morris’ cumulative — and accumulating — record considered in sentencing him?  Now two police are dead, and while it is premature to draw any conclusions, I hope the question gets asked: What happened in the courts that enabled a repeat offender, a violent gun felon, a man charged with a previous murder, to be walking the streets of Tampa last night?

[The] incident began about 2:15 a.m. when [Officer David] Curtis pulled over the Toyota, which was missing a tag, near 50th Street and 23rd Avenue, police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said. The passenger was wanted on a misdemeanor warrant out of Jacksonville for a worthless check, so Curtis called for backup and Kocab came to the scene.  Both officers were shot in the head at close range as they approached the passenger side of the Toyota. . .

Somebody in the courts, or the prosecutor’s office, or the city council, or the state legislature, needs to step up and announce a top-to bottom review of the choices made that put this killer back on the streets, not once, not twice, but three times (not counting the inevitable juvenile record).  People crawl all over themselves to create citizen review boards whenever a police officer makes any kind of mistake.  Why shouldn’t the same be done with our courts, especially when officers get killed, but also whenever someone else gets killed by a predator who should have been in prison?

Meanwhile, in Lakeland, an hour outside Tampa, two other policemen are alive today thanks only to their bulletproof vests.

Deputy Paul Fairbanks

Deputy Michael Braswell

Deputies Paul Fairbanks and Mike Braswell were shot multiple times after stopping Matthew Tutt, who is described as a “21-year old . . . with a long criminal history.”  Another repeat offender who should have been in prison.  He was killed by police at the scene, but his presence on the streets that night ought to be the subject of another citizen’s review.  The fact that, by the grace of God, the officers were saved by their vests doesn’t change the fact that Tutt tried to murder them:

Tutt fired seven times, according to the sheriff’s office. Three of those bullets hit 58-year-old Deputy Paul Fairbanks III — in the stomach, left wrist and left elbow, Judd said. Deputy Mike Braswell, 32, was hit in the right hand, twice on the chest and once in the right thigh.

Ironically, there will probably be a review of the officers’ actions in shooting Tutt.  But there will be no review of the court’s decision to allow Tutt to be out on the streets, armed and dangerous, when he might have been in prison instead.  So long as we challenge and micromanage police actions while handing out free passes to the rest of the justice system, it’s the police who will continue to suffer and die.

The Green Mile Syndrome: David Lee Powell Was Not Innocent. His Victims Are Not Hateful.

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Someone claiming to be cop-killer David Powell’s cousin has written me, accusing Powell’s victims and the justice system of various sins.  Unsupported allegations like these too often pass for debate over the death penalty in the mainstream media.  Therefore, it’s worth a look, though the slurs Powell’s cousin tosses at the victims ought to just be trash canned.  See here and here for my previous posts on Powell.

The writer, John Struve, makes several assertions about minutiae of the appeals process — assertions that should be taken with a very large grain of salt, for he offers no proof.  It’s not as if the courts didn’t revisit these cases in detail: that is why it took 30 years to execute Powell.  It’s not as if Struve lacks access to the court documents.  But he feels no need to back up his claims, and in this, the media has unfortunately trained him to need no proof as he says everything and anything about the case against Powell.

For, while a technical error or defense-biased evidentiary rules can blow a strong case for the prosecution, the defense suffers no consequences for repetitively and flagrantly lying.  Many activists and defense lawyers feel that such lies are an honorable act — a sort of noble rot that produces the always-desired outcome of avoiding consequences for crime.

If Mr. Struve would like to send actual documentation backing up any of his assertions here, I’ll post it.  But his claims sound like the type made loudly and repetitively — in cases like Troy Davis’ in Georgia — that lazy reporters reprint without looking into the original court records, or the prosecution arguments, or the trail of appeals.

John Struve’s letter:

You are all so short sighted. The fact still remains that the dying Ralph Ablanedo, when asked who did this, said, ” a girl” and “That damn girl.”

Powell’s female accomplice was the driver.  Powell opened fire not once, but twice on officers.  Ablenado’s dying words are being misrepresented, which is an awful thing to do.

Several officers testified at Sheila’s parole hearing in 1982 stating that she was a future danger to society and that she did all the shooting and threw the grenade. Unfortunately, this information was not released to us, the family, until 2002, and the prosecutors at that time thought it would be easier to get the death penalty for a man than a woman. He had already exhausted all of his appeals by this time.

Actually, the female accomplice testified that Powell thrust a grenade at her, but she wasn’t able to deploy it right.  I’m sure the officers testified that the she should never get out of prison.  I would be very surprised if they testified that she “did all the shooting.”  Struve appears to be accusing these police of lying in their original testimony in the Powell trial — a serious allegation.  Defamation of character is actionable.

Incidentally, if this case were tried today, changes in the law would make it easier to hold all offenders responsible for a crime in which someone is murdered.

Now a human being that had definite reasonable doubt of guilt has been murdered.

Not true.

Just like Cameron Todd Willingham.

The Powell case has nothing to do with the Willingham case.  The Willingham case, in which a man was executed for setting the fire which killed his three small children, is another cause celebré, thanks to wildly biased and strangely querulous reporting in the New Yorker.

Why is it that New Yorker editors seem to thrill at watching predators prey on the great unwashed?

Meanwhile, back in the real world, forensic scientists are revisiting the Willingham case.  But cherry-picked claims about the fire itself, which constitutes the much-publicized defense, ignores other forensic evidence and the actual testimony that put Willingham behind bars (and you can buy expert witnesses to say anything — they charge by the act, as do many professionals).

I’m not going to bother to link to anything regarding Willingham.  The local news reporting, read in total, explains the controversy.  Virtually everything else should be read with a highly critical eye.  Embarrassingly, even Wikipedia places the word “alleged” before prosecution testimony that passed courtroom muster while allowing defense testimony which failed to pass muster to be stated as fact.  Pretty unprofessional of them, but that’s typical of reporting in these cases.

It’s death by a thousand cuts for the truth. Back to John Struve:

I am 33 years old, so my cousin David had been in jail my entire life.

Officer Ablenado has been dead for the last 33 years of his sons’ lives.  Shame on Struve for attempting to insert himself into that tragedy.

Once it came to a point where justice had failed due to officer and political vengeance

Again, defamation?

that caused the truth to be buried, we realized that we needed to embrace that David was guilty of this single act.

And then there was the auto theft, petty theft, stockpiling weapons, drug dealing, over 100 bad checks — yeah, he was a boy scout carrying hand grenades and automatic rifles around in a car, serially ripping off innocent people by the scores.  Come on.

Maybe not the one who pulled the trigger, but definitely responsible as the law of parties would suggest. He took that responsibility, although up to his murder, always stated that he has no recollection of what happened that dreadfully fateful night. All we wanted was for his life to be spared. Please read his story at letdavidlive.org before jumping on the “eye for an eye” human written testament of justice bandwagon dated over 2000 years ago.

Crying “vengeance” is offensive.  Struve doesn’t know these people.

If killing 100 evil people means that even 1 is innocent, then that indicates that the entire system is dysfunctional. Just think if it were you or someone you loved that was truly innocent. Now, my only hope is that the Willingham and David’s cases serve as martyrs to help us move from the 18th century into the new world where people actually think instead of seek blood for blood. Since David was put to death, then you should

See, we are all vengeful.  Bloodthirsty.  If I had a dime for every time some bloated defense attorney wannabe accused me of wanting innocent people to suffer . . . I still wouldn’t have enough money to buy enough earplugs.

all believe that Officer Leonardo Quintana should be held to the same standards. [?]   The unredacted Key Point report specifically states that his reckless tactics were what caused the police sanctioned murder of a defenseless individual, Nathaniel Sanders III. And unlike David, he had a history of reported violations prior to committing his murder. I used to be a huge proponent of the death penalty, but as I go through life, as I probably would have felt during the Spanish Inquisition, I question the tactics that we, as a society, use to punish individuals for acts of behavior “outside” that of what is considered the norm.

Behavior “outside” that of what is considered to norm? Is Struve equating blowing away an innocent public servant and trying to murder several others (whom Powell shot at, and missed) with, say, changing radio stations or hairstyles?

My brother is a Texas State Trooper. If he were killed in the line of duty or otherwise, I would not want the death penalty for the accused. If he were to murder someone on the taxpayer’s dime or not, I would not want him to receive the death penalty. Now we mourn. Next we move forward with our efforts to abolish the death penalty 1st in Texas, then in the entire United States. NOTE: What do you do when it is later found out that someone WE executed is found to be innocent? Go to their grave and pour some Mickey’s on it?

Nice.  Struve places his feelings above the officer’s family’s, makes himself the center of attention, accuses the real victims of heinous, animalistic rage, defames scores of police officers, and then accuses society of failing to live up to his standards of morality.  So much of this activism is a sickness, parading around as morality.

I wonder if this John Struve is the same person who sent me an anonymous e-mail celebrating the recent murder of Chicago Officer Thomas Wortham?  The sentiment sounds similar.

I welcome any suggestions for identifying anonymous e-mails.

~~~

You don’t have to support the death penalty (I don’t) to be disgusted by what passes for activism and reporting on death row cases.  An enormous, fact-free myth system has been built up around allegations that innocent men fill our prisons and molder nobly on death row.  This “Green Mile” syndrome, indulged by politicians and priests and professors — and more journalists than you could shake a forest of redwoods at — well, it has consequences.  It abuses the real victims, because they are falsely accused of everything from ransacking the justice system to being simply evil.

Careless reporting gives careless people free reign.

Consider the Troy Davis case. It has also become a cause celebré.  The Atlanta Journal Constitution has reported ceaselessly on the activism for Davis and editorially advocated for him.  Yet, nowhere in their reporting (unless there are articles that have never appeared on-line) have they bothered to mention the subject of forensic evidence withheld by the original trial court on a technicality, evidence that strongly supports Davis’ guilt.  Nor have they addressed the case made by prosecutors who were (quite unusually) freed up to discuss evidence against Davis after the Supreme Court made an unusual decision to revisit that evidence.

Nor have they mentioned efforts by Davis’ lawyers to keep physical evidence from being considered as the case gets revisited, thanks to the Supreme Court’s actions.  No, you couldn’t possibly trust the public with information about the real issues at stake in the Davis case, and other death row appeals.  Atlanta readers — by far the largest audience of Davis supporters — know nothing of any of this, unless they read Savannah papers:

Black shorts evidence:  After months of wrangling over evidence and legal issues, attorneys for the state’s attorney general’s office last week asked permission to submit Georgia Bureau of Investigation reports concerning “blood examination on pair of black shorts recovered from (Davis’) mother’s home on Aug. 19, 1989.”  They also asked to submit a report of DNA typing of the item.  Davis’ lawyers cried foul, urging Moore not to allow the evidence which they called “untimely” and “of questionable probative value.”  They argued it would “clearly prejudice” (Davis’) ability to rebut the contents of the report.  The jury hearing Davis’ 1991 trial never heard about the shorts after Chatham County Superior Court Judge James W. Head barred them from evidence because of what he found was police coercion of Davis’ mother, Virginia Davis, when she arrived near her Sylvester Drive home Aug. 19, 1989.  Police seized the shorts from a dryer while searching for the murder weapon.

And this must-read from the Chatham County D.A., published last year in the Savannah Morning News:

Chatham County’s district attorney explains why he’s not concerned that an innocent man may be put to death.

Many people are concerned that an innocent man is about to be put to death. I know this, and I understand it. I am not likewise concerned, however, and I want to explain why.

The only information the public has had in the 17 years since Troy Davis’ conviction has been generated by people ideologically opposed to the death penalty, regardless of the guilt or innocence of the accused.

While they have shouted, we have been silent. The canons of legal ethics prohibit a lawyer – prosecutor and defense counsel alike – from commenting publicly, or engineering public comments, on the issue of guilt or innocence in a pending criminal case.

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled, the case is over, and I can try to tell our side.

First , Davis’ advocates have insisted that there was no physical evidence in the case. This is not true.

Crime lab tests proved that the shell casings recovered from the shooting of Michael Cooper at a party earlier in the evening were fired from the same weapon as the casings recovered from the scene of Officer Mark MacPhail’s murder. Davis was convicted of shooting Cooper.

And, while it isn’t physical evidence, consider the “testimony” of Officer MacPhail himself: When he comes to the rescue of a homeless man being harassed and pistol-whipped, the officer ran past Sylvester Coles on his way to catch Davis. This makes Davis the only one of those two with a motive to shoot Officer MacPhail. Yet Davis’ lawyers argue to condemn Coles for shooting MacPhail. Why would he?

In fact, Davis’ advocates are eager to condemn Coles based on evidence far weaker than their characterization of the evidence against Davis. Where is their sense of fairness? This is the same Sylvester Coles who promptly presented himself to police, and who was advised by counsel to tell all that he knew – with his lawyer not even present. Which he did. No lawyer who even faintly suspects a client of criminal conduct would let him talk to the police without counsel.

Second , they claim that seven of nine witnesses have recanted their trial testimony. This is not believable.

To be sure, they’ve produced affidavits; a few handwritten and apparently voluntarily and spontaneous, except for concluding with “further the affiant sayeth not.” Who wrote that stuff? The lawyers, perhaps?

The law is understandably skeptical of post-trial “newly-discovered evidence.”

Such evidence as these affidavits might, for example, be paid for, or coerced, or the product of fading memory.

If every verdict could be set aside by the casual acceptance of a witness’s changing his mind or suggesting uncertainty, decades after the event, it is easy to see how many cases would have to be tried at least twice (perhaps ad infinitum).

Thus the law sets strict standards for such “newly discovered” evidence.

For example, it cannot be for a lack of diligence that the new evidence was not discovered sooner, and the defendant is expected to present that evidence at the earliest possible time.

Yet these affidavits were not offered in a motion for new trial until eight days before the first scheduled execution in 2008 seventeen years after Davis’ conviction. If this affidavit evidence was so compelling, why didn’t they rush to seek a new trial in 2003 when they had most of the affidavits they now rely upon? Or collect those affidavits earlier?

Each of the now-“recanting” witnesses was closely questioned at trial by lawyers representing Davis, specifically on the question whether they were in any way pressured or coerced by police in giving their statements or testimony. All denied it.

And while an 80 percent recantation rate – the first in the history of the world ? – may seem to some as overwhelmingly persuasive, to others of us it invites a suggestion of uncanny coincidence, making it very difficult to believe.

Third , they claim that their “newly discovered evidence” (i.e., the recantations) hasn’t been adequately considered by the courts. This is not true.

The affidavits, in various combinations, had already been reviewed by 29 judges in seven different types of review, over the course of 17 years, before Tuesday’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The state Parole Board halted the execution in 2007, saying they wouldn’t allow a possibly innocent man to be executed. Then, after more than a year of reviewing all of the evidence on both sides, and hearing from every witness Davis’ lawyers presented – including Davis – they refused to grant clemency.

The trial was fair. Davis was represented by superbly skilled criminal defense lawyers. He was convicted by a fair jury (seven black and five white). The post conviction stridency we’ve seen has been much about the death penalty and little about Troy Davis.

The jury found that Davis, after shooting another man earlier in the evening, murdered a police officer who came to the rescue of a homeless man Davis had beaten. Mark MacPhail had never even drawn his weapon.

A more complete discussion of these – and other – points can be found at Chathamcounty.org/vwap/html [link gone]
Spencer Lawton Jr. is Chatham County District Attorney.

Why would the AJC be so coy, essentially misleading an audience of millions on crucial elements of physical evidence in a controversial case?  Because what they are doing is not reporting: it is advocating for Davis.  Ditto Davis supporters like the Pope, Bob Barr, Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu — none of whom, I’m sure, bothered to reach out to Officer MacPhail’s family.

As I’ve said before, oppose the death penalty on grounds of universal ethics, or opposition to state-administered death, but when you make a faux hero out of a murderous, worthless criminal like Troy Davis, you are doing so at the cost of the humanity and dignity of the real victims.

Slain Officer Mark Allen MacPhail’s Children

Officer Mark Allen MacPhail’s Website

David Lee Powell Executed: “Restorative Justice” Activist Sissy Farenthold Blames The Victims for Not Appreciating Him Enough

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Texas executed David Lee Powell yesterday for the murder of police officer Ralph Ablanedo.

Ablanedo’s family has been waiting for Powell’s appeals to end for 32 years.  They have endured a lifetime of watching Powell be cast as some type of especially sensitive, peace-loving man as he manipulated the legal system — a spectacle they were forced to subsidize with their taxes.

David Lee Powell

They have also endured a lifetime of name-calling, rage, and accusation directed at them by Powell’s “peace-loving” supporters, including the editorial staff at the Austin Statesman, which disgraced itself last week by misrepresenting the family’s public statements in an editorial.

The Statesman was a little more careful in its news coverage of the execution.  For instance, they quoted entire sentences from the victims:

Afterward, Bruce Mills, a former Austin officer who was Ablanedo’s friend and later married his widow, said it felt as if a weight had been lifted.  “Relief would be the word to describe it,” Mills said. “No more hearings. No more appeals.”

But then the Statesman ran another editorial accusing the Mills/Ablenado family of “rage and revenge.”  The author of that op-ed, Francis “Sissy” Tarlton Farenthold, claims to represent the “Restorative Justice” movement — one presumes that is why she feels entitled to levy hateful, false accusations against crime victims.

You know, in the name of dignity and love.

Actually, she probably is speaking for the RJ movement: Restorative Justice was long ago hijacked by criminal’s rights activists who have taken resources, including federal tax dollars, designated for victim services and directed them against victims who believe the proper outcome for crimes like murder is incarceration.  It’s a shameful legacy, one that the original founders of Restorative Justice should be a whole lot more forthcoming about opposing.

Sissy Farenthold, who says Powell “brought the world to her”

Because what the movement has become is a parody, a cruel parody in which victims are scolded, bullied, and policed by “spiritual counselors” (many just academicians and activists) whose allegiance lies with the people who have victimized them — when the victims aren’t simply being ignored.  Ms. Farenthold, for one example, is associated with the anti-victim, pro-offender ACLU.  Now she claims to be speaking for crime victims?  In many places, Restorative Justice is just a front-name used by other activists groups to gain federal grant money they then use to attack the criminal justice system in general and incarceration in particular.

Although the movement was started by a group of well-intentioned pastoral workers, Restorative Justice is currently just another arm of the radical prisoner’s rights movement, fronted by useful idiots on and off the federal payroll.

“Useful idiot” is a good term to describe Farenthold’s op-ed. Like so much of this type of thing, she seems more interested in promoting herself as a special observer than actually practicing the virtues she loudly trumpets.  What sort of person feels comfortable imposing herself into a strangers’ intense pain at the loss of a loved one and claiming to know what they are thinking?  What sort of person claims such insight into other people’s souls, leveling ugly words at them like “rage” and “revenge” and “retribution”?

Even worse, Farenthold actually scolds the Ablanedo/Mills family for not being welcoming enough of David Lee Powell’s magical efforts at healing them.  I can’t believe the Statesman felt that this was appropriate for publication:

Restorative justice calls for Powell to be spared so that he can continue to address the needs and concerns of the Ablanedo family . . .

Address the needs and concerns of the Ablanedo family?  What is this, The Green Mile?  For the record, Powell didn’t apologize to his victims until his legal team decided it would be a good step . . . very recently.  Yet Ms. Sissy (her nickname, not mine), the ACLU activist, has a different story (she also downplays the “throwing a live hand grenade at officers” thing, observing that the pin wasn’t pulled):

Powell has demonstrated his remorse and humanity by living a redemptive life for three decades. He has taught illiterate inmates how to read, write and improve their lives. He had no history of violence before his crime and none in his 32 years on death row. And he has expressed his deep remorse to Ablanedo’s family.

Well, actually not.  And there are plenty of grade school teachers who teach people how to read without, you know, blowing them away with machine guns.

If you oppose the death penalty, oppose the death penalty, but stop pretending manipulative thugs like David Lee Powell are special humanity mascots.  Because taking an innocent man’s life should not be weighed against (allegedly) prepping people for the SATs.

Because it’s degrading. And “degrading” isn’t the same thing as “restorative,” unless what you’re seeking to restore is the special hell Powell and his supporters put the Ablenado/Mills family through with their three decades of legal antics.

The editorial is really just sick stuff, coming from an attention-seeking old woman:

Why do I want this convicted killer not to be put to death? As a legislator, lawyer and human rights campaigner, I have been opposed to capital punishment all my life. For decades, I fought without knowing anyone on death row. Then, 20 years ago, I met Powell.

I, I, I, me, me, me.  Like so much death row activism, attention-seekers glom onto other people’s tragedies to make themselves feel important.  They claim to have superior knowledge of murderers’ souls to enhance their own sense of superiority.  That pretty well describes the motley anti-death penalty activists you see publicly protesting.  And that would be just their own character burdens, until the media gives them a platform to lash out at the victims, and lash out they do, despite all their high-and-mighty rhetoric about love and respect and valuing life.

Which one of these photographs really reeks of “vengefulness”:

This one?

Officers gathering to support the Ablenado/Mills Family

Or this one?

Anti-Death Penalty Activist Frances Morey Crudely Attacking Powell’s Victims

Al Franken’s Latest Rape Joke: Chatigny Advances

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Robert Chatigny, whose controversial advocacy for serial killer Michael Ross may have inspired Obama to nominate him to the Circuit Court, advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote.  I wrote here about the reasons why I think Obama would nominate someone like Chatigny:

Obama Shows Contempt for Victims

Chatigny’s supporters, especially Senator Amy Klobuchar, have argued that singling out the Michael Ross case misrepresents the judge’s overall record.  To the contrary, I think his treatment of Ross typifies his approach to criminal law.  Chatigny opposes minimum mandatory sentencing and registration for sex offenders.  He repeatedly delivered minimum or less-than-minimum sentences to men convicted of various sex crimes.  In opinions, he expressed sympathy for all sorts of excuses made by offenders.  He is a judge who has gone out of his way to practice leniency for sex offenders throughout his career.

And before he was a judge, he represented Woody Allen.  You can’t make this stuff up.  So why would the president choose Chatigny over other candidates?  From the Washington Times:

Judge Chatigny has a weird record of empathy for those accused of sexual crimes involving children. It started when he served as co-counsel for director Woody Allen in 1993-94 when Mr. Allen filed a complaint against a prosecutor for discussing in public the potential charges against the moviemaker for reportedly abusing a minor stepchild. Mr. Allen and Mr. Chatigny lost both administrative proceedings in the case.  In another case, the U.S. Supreme Court eventually reversed Judge Chatigny, unanimously, when the judge tried to rule against one aspect of his state’s version of a Megan’s Law sex-offender registry. In 12 child-pornography cases, Judge Chatigny imposed a sentence either at or more lenient than the recommended minimum – with most downward departures involving sentences less than half as long. And in an outrageous case of judicial abuse, Judge Chatigny threatened to take away an attorney’s law license if the lawyer failed to appeal the death sentence of an eight-time murderer of girls and young women. The judge claimed the killer’s “sexual sadism” was a mental disorder that made the murderer himself a victim.

This and other defense attorney ilk is thick on the ground in Washington these days.  During the Chatigny hearings, Sen. Patrick Leahy incontinently ranted about innocent men (purportedly) being rescued from near-death on death row.  Not only is this subject irrelevant to the Michael Ross case, but anti-incarceration activists have wildly exaggerated the prevalence of actual wrongful conviction and misrepresented the majority of cases in which convicts are released from death row.  It may be surprising to hear it, given the strong presumptions to the contrary by people like senators and anchormen and pretty much everyone else, but activists have not, to date, produce evidence that even one person has been wrongfully executed in the U.S. since 1972 (some would set the date far earlier, but the possibility of evaluating the two dozen cases identified by activists spanning 1900 – 1972 are slim).

Between 1972 and 2010, however, there were 700,000  murders in the U.S.

Virtually no one is released from death row because anyone thought they were innocent; they are re-sentenced to serve life or other prison terms because of clemency or reversals in some element of their convictions (disputes over mitigating factors, technicalities, court errors).  These cases then get cynically misrepresented by activists as innocence cases.  Wrongful conviction for capitol crime, while of course tragic, is nearly non-existent, and when it happens, the system works.

By carelessly repeating utter lies about our prisons being stuffed with innocent men, Leahy contributes to an atmosphere in which judges like Chatigny justify their dangerous biases against incarceration for anyone, no matter their crime.  To talk about wrongful convictions in a hearing that is supposed to be addressing the refusal to enforce unambiguously rightful conviction is just exploitative.  But nobody dares to call upon people like Leahy to provide facts.

Just to be clear about what happened: the Democrats, who claim the mantle of women’s rights, voted for a judge with a reputation for going particularly easy on sex criminals, a man who called a serial killer’s sexual compulsions a “mitigating factor” for the murders of young girls, and who now calls his advocacy for this killer “a learning experience” but also says he’d do it again.  The Republicans, who stand accused of neglecting women’s rights, all voted against Chatigny (Feinstein, in a real show of courage, simply declined to vote).

Voting For Chatigny:

  • Patrick Leahy
  • Russ Feingold
  • Arlen Spector
  • Chuck Schumer
  • Dick Durbin
  • Benjamin L. Cardin
  • Sheldon Whitehouse
  • Amy Klobuchar
  • Ted Kaufman
  • Al Franken

Voting Against:

  • Jeff Sessions
  • Orrin Hatch
  • Chuck Grassley
  • Jon Kyl
  • Lindsey Graham
  • John Cornyn
  • Tom Coburn

Remember Al Franken’s first rape joke, in this never-run skit about Andy Rooney for Saturday Night Live?

“And ‘I give the pills to Lesley Stahl. Then when Lesley’s passed out, I take her to the closet and rape her.’ Or ‘That’s why you never see Lesley until February.’ Or, ‘When she passes out I put her in various positions and take pictures of her.”

Here is the N.O.W.’s response to the controversy over that one:

[T]he Franken campaign distributed a statement in his defense from Shannon Drury, president of Minnesota’s chapter of the National Organization of Women.  “Now [the skit] is being used as an excuse to label him a misogynist. Nothing could be further from the truth,” Drury wrote Tuesday. “In fact, Al Franken will be a senator who will work tirelessly in support of women’s issues. After meeting with Al personally, I find his honesty and openness refreshing, his intelligence and perseverance inspiring.”

Who says feminists can’t take a joke? Or make one?  The N.O.W. is staying silent on the Chatigny nomination, of course.   Thank goodness we have principled feminists like Tom Coburn, Jeff Sessions, Orrin Hatch, and Lindsey Graham to speak for women in the Senate.  I really mean that.

Meanwhile, the conservative Concerned Women for America are protesting Chatigny’s nomination.  Click on the link in the Penny Nance article below for troubling footage of the Senate nomination hearings:

Brutal Rapists and Serial Killers Find an Advocate in Obama’s Latest Pick

Do you ever wonder WHO those insane judges are that believe sexual predators are only sick and should thus not be given maximum sentences?  I think those judges are unfit to rule.  However, President Obama apparently wants to give one a promotion.

Michael Ross, in a documentary on serial killers, describes how he tied up 14-year-old Leslie Shelley, put her in the trunk of his car, and “took the other girl, April Bernaise [also 14] out and I raped her, and killed her, and I put her in the front seat.”  He said he killed eight girls, ages 14-25, and if he wasn’t caught, he’d still be killing.

It was of this man that Robert Chatigny, a U.S. District Judge in Connecticut, said: “[Michael Ross] never should have been convicted.  Or if convicted, he never should have been sentenced to death.”  Then Chatigny fought to stop Mr. Ross’ execution — twice — and was both times overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Robert Chatigny is President Obama’s latest nominee to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, a lifetime appointment spot and can be a stepping stone to the Supreme Court. . .

Chatigny was grilled by Republican Senators recently in his Judiciary Committee hearing.  Only one Democrat Senator showed up, and she asked no hard questions of the rapist defender.  Here’s a shocking video from the hearing, interspersed with an interview from Michael Ross himself on how he killed and raped his victims.

June 1st, 2010 by Penny Nance

Police Killings are a National Emergency: Why No National Leadership?

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These are unbearably dangerous times for police, and their families. In the last week, in two different tragedies, older officers witnessed the murder of their police officer sons, one in Chicago, one in West Memphis.  The second officer killed in the Memphis shooting was the son and grandson of police officers as well.

Chicago:

Thomas Wortham IV, two-time Iraq War veteran, Chicago police officer, and community activist, was gunned down by four men outside his father’s house in a robbery attempt.  His father, retired police officer Thomas Wortham, managed to kill one of the assailants and wound another, but his son, shot in the head in front of his father’s house, did not survive.

The younger Wortham had driven to his parent’s home to show them pictures he had taken at the annual memorial service for slain police officers in Washington the previous week.  Next year, he will be among those memorialized there.

In an interview published in the Chicago Tribune the week before he was killed, Wortham spoke out about rising crime in Chicago.  Unlike naysayers who excuse such violence, downplay it, or try to exploit it for political gain, he was taking the threat seriously:

Chicago Tribune: Chatham residents fondly remember the fierce competition at Cole Park that at times drew some of the best local talent for pickup games.  The park, tucked among the neighborhood’s tidy streets, was also a place for local kids to shoot hoops — and maybe dream of one day being that good.  Then on a spring evening last month, a gunman fired into a crowd of teens playing on the court, wounding two young men. One was hit in the calf and hip; the other in the neck.  It was the second shooting on the courts in four weeks. By that night, the basketball rims at the celebrated courts had been disabled with locks or taken down altogether, on orders of Ald. Freddrenna Lyle, 6th, who said it was simply too unsafe to play there. The loss of the courts has disappointed many residents who say kids need a place to play. At the same time, the shootings illustrate a deeper concern in Chatham — how this neighborhood that prides itself on its middle-class values will stem brewing violence.  “It’s starting to feel like it’s expected in this community,” Tom Wortham, 30, president of the Cole Park advisory council whose grandfather built a home across from the park 50 years ago, said of the violence. “When people think of the South Side of Chicago, they think violence. In Chatham, that’s not what we see. It’s happened, and we’re going to fix it, so it doesn’t happen again.”

Chicago Officer Thomas Wortham IV, speaking out against gang violence a week before his death

Wortham is the second police officer gunned down from Chicago’s Englewood Precinct in a year: last June, Officer Alejandro “Alex” Valadez, 27, was assassinated by two gang members who were free on “felony probation” for earlier violent crimes.  Wortham’s killers, too, were on probation from earlier gun crimes.

Like Officer Wortham, Officer Valadez was from a police family: his surviving brother, sister, and girlfriend are all police officers.  Why are we sacrificing our nation’s best families — by pandering to the worst?

Chicago Officer Alejandro Valadez, murdered June 1, 2009

Also in Chicago, police cars are being set on fire, and officers’ houses are being burglarized.

Memphis:

Two police officers in Memphis were murdered by a father and his sixteen year old son: the father was an anti-government-and-bank activist who, like the killers in Chicago, had been granted leniency for an earlier gun crime.  One of the murdered officers was the son of West Memphis Police Chief Bob Paudert, who rushed to the scene:

The bloodiest day for area law enforcement officials began with routine-sounding radio broadcasts that West Memphis Police Chief Bob Paudert and his wife heard from their car.  One was from their son, Sgt. Brandon Paudert, reporting that he was providing backup for a traffic stop on Interstate 40.  Moments later, however, came a chilling transmission: “Officer down.”  The elder Paudert rushed to the scene to find his 39-year-old son, a seven-year veteran with the West Memphis force, lying dead on the pavement, shot in the head and neck, still gripping his service weapon.

Sgt. Brandon Paudert and Officer Bill Evans were both young fathers.  Officer Evans’ father and grandfather had been police officers.  Their killer had a long history of criminal charges . . .

Since 1983, [Jerry] Kane was arrested or cited six times in Clark County, Ohio, on charges ranging from passing bad checks to criminal trespass, drunken driving and driving with expired tags.  Kane was charged with felonious assault in 2004 after allegedly shooting a 13-year-old boy in Springfield with a “handgun-style BB gun.”

. . . and increasing confrontations with the police:

Sheriff Gene Kelly in Clark County, Ohio, said he issued a warning to law enforcement about Kane in July 2004, after Kane said a judge tried to “enslave” him when he was sentenced to six days of community service for driving with an expired license plate and no seat belt. Kane claimed he was a “free man” and asked for $100,000 per day in gold or silver, Kelly said.  “After listening to this man for almost 30 minutes, I feel that he is expecting and prepared for confrontations with any law enforcement officer that may come in contact with him,” Kelly wrote in his warning to officers.  Kelly told The Associated Press on Friday that he had been “very concerned about a potential confrontation and about his resentment of authority.”

Sgt. Brandon Paudert and Officer Bill Evans, murdered in cold blood in West Memphis

Seattle, Oakland:

Seattle and Oakland police forces are still recovering from two sets of quadruple murders of police officers by two different child rapists who had, of course, been granted serial leniency from the courts, previously threatened police, and received support from high places, even after they killed the innocent officers.

fallen

Seattle Police Sergeant Mark Renninger and Officers Tina Griswold, Ronald Owens, and Greg Richards, murdered by Maurice Clemmons six months ago.  Clemmons had been granted leniency and made into a cause celebré by then-Arkansas Governor, now Fox News Anchor Mike Huckabee, who refuses to apologize for his special treatment of Clemmons.

4up

Sergeants Ervin Romans, Daniel Sakai, Mark Dunakin, and Officer John Hege, murdered in Oakland in March, 2009 by Lovelle Mixon, who was celebrated by activists from Oakland’s deeply anti-cop political culture — after the killings.

Detroit:

And in Detroit, five police officers were shot, one fatally at the beginning of this month.  The death toll easily could have been higher.  Veteran Police Officer Brian Huff leaves behind a wife and ten-year old son.  “The world has lost a wonderful man we can’t replace,” said one family friend.

Officer Brian Huff: four other officers were injured.

Officer Huff’s killer, like all the others, should have been behind bars, and he had committed acts of violence against officers in the past.  Here is a lengthy and staggering yet still incomplete list of his confrontations with police.  There is no way he should have been on the streets:

Gibson was charged in November with being a felon in possession of a firearm and a carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, according to police sources. The charge stems from a Nov. 13 arrest, during which officers conducting an investigation into a shooting patted Gibson down and allegedly found a gun . . . Gibson was released on bond.  Gibson was listed as failing to appear in March for a hearing.  In addition, he has been listed as an absconder from probation since 2008 in another case.  It is unclear why Gibson was given bond while classified as an absconder in that earlier case . . . Gibson served time in prison under the name James Everet, Michigan Department of Corrections records show. He remains on parole after pleading guilty to attempting to disarm a peace officer and possession of cocaine in October 2007.  He previously pleaded to two charges of third-degree fleeing and eluding police stemming from a 2005 arrest . . .  Last Nov. 13, Detroit Police were investigating a shooting when they spotted Gibson, whose features apparently matched the shooting suspect, walking along E. Jefferson. The police approached, patted him down and felt a gun. They said he then broke free and began to run. Once caught, Gibson struggled before finally being subdued and arrested on weapons charges, documents show. Gibson was charged in the case and released on bond.  In another incident, just after midnight on March 26, 2007, two Detroit cops were monitoring a Marathon gas station where there had been trouble at E. 7 Mile Road and Joann. Documents show that the police saw Gibson and another man walking nearby.  When the cops stopped to investigate, Gibson took off running south on Joann, zigzagging, according to documents. One of the officers ordered Gibson to stop and confronted him. Documents say Gibson resisted, shouting, “F— you! You all ain’t taking me to jail, get off me.” He swung twice at the cop with a closed fist.

One of the officers wounded while coming to Huff’s aid spoke out recently on the “life in prison” charges and “no bond status” now, finally, filed against Gibson.  Too little, too late:

“It does help,” Officer Brian Glover, who suffered a knee injury trying to help Huff, said Tuesday of the charges against Gibson. “But it doesn’t change the fact that he should have never been on the street in the first place.”  Glover, who said he’s barely sleeping at night since the shooting, added that “the Prosecutor’s Office has been pointing fingers at, ‘There’s not enough beds in the jail.’ But when someone has such a long history of gun charges, there is a bed for them.”

~~~

Anti-cop rhetoric greases the skids of serial lenience towards even the worst, most violent offenders, and police everywhere are paying the price for the anti-cop rhetoric surfacing in political speech and political activism across the political spectrum these days.  This anti-cop drumbeat is always the same, whether it comes from the White House or a fringe anti-government website, from libertarian hysterics on the right or criminal rights activists on the left.

The consequences are the same, too, despite the slickest efforts of exploitation artists like Mark Potok, who only speak out on certain instances of murderous anti-cop rage, those that serve some ulterior political, or fund-raising motive — and then spend the rest of their time and substantial resources attacking law enforcement.  Potok is an extreme case, but there is no shortage of elected officials and political pundits eager to blame police for the violence directed against them or remain silent when careless words escalate into another officer’s funeral (or hog the spotlight and act out unconscionably, as Chicago Mayor Richard Daley did in the wake of Wortham’s death).

Where is the sane, sober, respectful, national leadership on behalf of police officers?

One month before their own son, police officer Thomas Wortham IV, was killed, Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell interviewed Wortham’s parents at an anti-violence rally near their home.  The purpose of the rally was to re-direct funds from Chicago’s failed Olympic bid to provide resources for the police:

“The main thing is we need security and more supervision,” said [Thomas] Wortham [Sr.], who has lived across the street from the park for 20 years.  “The Park District hasn’t recognized that there has been an influx of people visiting this park. On any given night, you might have 100 people in the park watching basketball. This is the only neutral park between 71st and 95th Street.”  Before the three [other] people were shot, Wortham’s wife, Carolyn, said there hadn’t been a shooting in the park in the 20 years the couple have lived in their home.  “All we want to do is to preserve the quality of life that we had as children,” she said.

President Obama could create a sea change in attitudes towards police by recognizing Wortham’s service and sacrifice.  But he seems to have remained silent on the young officer’s tragic death, even though it occurred in a neighborhood near where he once raised his own children, even though Wortham’s commitment to community activism exemplifies so much of the President’s own rhetoric on service.

Why doesn’t he make Thomas Wortham IV a household name?

Riots and Reporters

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Recently, the death of former L.A.P.D. chief Daryl Gates inspired a smattering of recollections of the Rodney King riots, in which 53 people died.  That loss of life, which included horrific murders of good samaritans trying to save others, is largely forgotten in favor of a narrative that exculpates — even celebrates — the rioters, while blaming police for both causing the violence and failing to quell it once it started.

In other words, the police were guilty because they used too much force against King after he weaponized his car, but they were also guilty because they didn’t use enough force against the rioters, though they would have been just as guilty had they used more force to stop the rioters.  The police are guilty no matter what they do, not just in America, but everywhere.  And in this strange rubric of culpability, they are deemed more guilty when the crime rate increases but also more guilty when the crime rate decreases.

Conversely, rioters are rarely held responsible for the crimes they commit, which may be why they often look so happy hurling bricks through store windows, while the policemen look so grim.  Riots are holidays from even small amounts of social responsibility for people who carry that burden lightly enough to begin with, and the worst violence is usually committed by criminal hangers-on just looking for any excuse to break things and steal and beat people while posing for the cameras.

In 1992, this dynamic had ugly consequences in Atlanta. The Rodney King riots in Atlanta were a weird, wannabe event, a manufactured spectacle, though the violence was real.  Looking back, I can’t avoid a creeping suspicion that the riots got as bad as they did in Atlanta because CNN is headquartered in the area where they occurred.  CNN reporters often illustrate their stories by taking their cameras to the streets below their studios: anyone familiar with the area will recognize the CNN food court in footage from countless stories on countless subjects.  CNN “man on the street” interviews are often something quite a bit more specific, as in: “the man on Forsyth Street between Luckie Street and MLK, in downtown Atlanta at lunchtime.”

So after the riots broke out in L.A., CNN did what they always do and went looking for footage in downtown Atlanta just beneath their studios (any other news network would do the same).  What ensued was strange mini-riots in which youths were obviously acting out for the cameras.

You can’t deny the excitement of news reporters when they’re jostling for position in a big national story like that one.  Is it fair to say that they egged the rioters on?  I’m not sure I would go quite that far.  But I do remember this: uninvolved people got off the streets pretty quickly, leaving little pockets of rioters fighting little pockets of police, being shadowed by little pockets of the media, all in the shadows of the CNN headquarters.  In L.A., it was far too dangerous to report from many portions of the city: police helicopters were actually taking fire over populated areas.  In Atlanta, the street scene arose symbiotically with the television cameras.

And the losers, as usual, were the police.  As Jack Dunphy writes in an interesting article here, Daryl Gates’ recent death has become yet another occasion for the media to single him out for blame for the damage done to Los Angeles by the rioters.  The way I remember it in Atlanta, the police were exasperated hall monitors trying to keep gangs of young men from doing more damage to downtown businesses and innocent pedestrians while the reporters aimed their cameras at the policemen, hoping one of them would make a wrong move, and the story would explode.

No Answers Yet in Mr. X Case. Lots of Questions.

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The print news coverage of the Michael Harvey trial continues to skirt important questions:

  • Why did the Fulton County (Atlanta) D.A.’s office fail to act for at least three years once DNA evidence linked Harvey to the brutal 1994 murder of Valerie Payton? According to news reports, they identified Harvey’s DNA in 2005 and arrested him in 2008.
  • And why didn’t the G.B.I. make the link between the Harvey’s DNA and Valerie Payton’s rape kit back in 2002 or 2003, at the latest, when they were supposed to have entered his sample into the state database for which they’re responsible?

Meanwhile the AJC’s coverage is even more confusing today than it was a few days ago:

Harvey was released from the Georgia prison system in 2007 after serving two years on an aggravated assault conviction. He also was imprisoned four other times since 1980 for crimes such as aggravated assault with intent to rape, burglary and car theft.  Police arrested him in 2008 in connection with Payton’s death.  His DNA was linked to the crime in 2005, the Fulton District Attorney’s Office said Monday.

OK, don’t ask the D.A. to explain himself about the three-year gap between the DNA match and the murder charges.

But do explain this: how could Harvey have been in the “Georgia prison system” in 2007 when that isn’t recorded in the Georgia Bureau of Corrections database?  The database reports a different record, and they, at least, unlike Fulton County, keep coherent records and behave as if the people who are paying their salaries have a right to know what they are doing:

STATE OF GEORGIA – INCARCERATION HISTORY
INCARCERATION BEGIN INCARCERATION END
02/04/2003 06/14/2003
05/12/1998 09/16/1999
02/04/1985 11/01/1985
10/23/1980 11/02/1984

Maybe Harvey was in the county jail.  But that is Fulton County jail, not the “Georgia prison system.”  The paper seems to be saying (without saying too clearly) that there are these other aggravated assault charges for which he was imprisoned in 2007 (for how long is also unclear).  But he never got sent up to the state system for them.  So, at most, that must have been a sentence of a year or less, which would have placed Harvey in a courtroom in Fulton County after his DNA was linked to a heinous murder, and the D.A. should have known about the match.  Yet that evidence wasn’t, apparently, even brought up in court, or else (one must hope) he wouldn’t have been released in 2007, right?

Also, wouldn’t recidivism sentencing have kicked in by then, murder charges (so bizarrely) notwithstanding?  We do have laws about getting popped for several violent offenses in a row, and they should have applied to Harvey, with his prior kidnapping conviction (His attempted rape conviction presents an interesting quandary: rape counts, but does attempted rape?  It should: why reward failure to complete the crime?).  So in addition to all the other apparently squandered chances to do something about Harvey’s ties to a murder, was the 2007 aggravated assault yet another situation in which some Fulton County Judge didn’t bother to enforce Georgia’s laws? Is it another situation in which Fulton County’s D.A. utterly failed to bother to investigate the criminal history of the defendant and ask the judge for appropriate sentencing?

Why did yet another person with a long history of serious violent and felony property crime (not to mention a DNA link in a bloody murder) stroll into court some time between 2003 and 2007 for another violent crime and get sentenced, apparently, to some brief stint in county jail, if that is indeed what happened?  Where is the curiosity about any of this?  It’s pretty clear it happens every day.

And I still wonder whether Harvey’s multiple aggravated assault charges aren’t actually pled-down sex crimes.

How overwhelmed is Fulton’s criminal justice system? Who is responsible for taking three years to get around to charging Michael Harvey with murder after the belated DNA match, for this?

Payton had over 50 carvings on her body when she was found, and a photo of her 8-year-old son was placed on her stomach, Ross said during opening arguments. Handwritten on the back of the photo were the words, “I’M BACK ATLANTA, MR. X,” written in a block style with all capital letters, Ross said.

There seems to be an insinuation (again, not a very clear one) either in the AJC coverage or coming from the D.A. himself that the reason all of this unfolded so slowly is because Michael Harvey isn’t suspected in any of the other unsolved murders of prostitutes that were so thick on the ground in the 1990’s.

You know, that he was merely the suspect in one heinous murder.

Is the D.A.’s office so swamped (or distracted) that murders are taking decades to process while the murderers are left on the streets to commit more crimes?  For, in reality, Harvey’s DNA should have been taken and compared to outstanding rape-and-murder kits back in 1996, when he was convicted for rape, or in 1999, before he was released, or right away in 2002, when he was re-incarcerated.  There were the beginnings of a good DNA database before 1999, and the first people who were entered into it were people with sex offense convictions, like Harvey.  By 1999, when he was released, that database should have been functional enough to check at least the outstanding rape/murder cases in the state, like Valerie Payton’s death, against the DNA of convicted sex criminals, if it mattered enough to anyone.

Which, apparently, it didn’t.

Or was Payton’s rape kit one of the many left stockpiled on a shelf somewhere in the Atlanta Police Department while Bill Campbell mouthpiece and Chief of Police Beverley Harvard, no friend of rape victims, jetted around the country picking up awards and running political interference for her boss, the soon-to-be convicted mayor?

Harvard presided distractedly over some of the most bloody years on Atlanta’s streets.  Thanks to such official neglect, multiple opportunities to get sexual predators off the streets were simply squandered.  Was the Valerie Payton murder another one?  Was another raped and murdered mother just not important enough?

Or was it the GBI that screwed up? Were they the ones sitting on Valerie Payton’s rape kit?  Michael Harvey’s DNA sample?  You have to really wonder what’s going on, when the spokesperson for the agency is busy telling the public not to worry about all the sex offenders they’ve lost track of but can’t be bothered to explain whether or not his agency is responsible for delays in processing these DNA samples during the time that a murder suspect with a long record of violent crime was still in state custody.

If GBI spokesman John Bankhead or Fulton County D.A. Paul Howard ever came forward and said, Look, we just don’t have enough resources to even pay appropriate attention to murder cases, they would receive resounding support from the public.  But instead, it seems that both men are refusing to explain what went wrong in this investigation.  And they are enabled in flying under the radar by many things, including a Clerk of Court system that behaves as if the public is not entitled to know what’s going on in their courts.

A clever ninth grader could create a database system for sharing court outcomes with the public, using nothing more than his lunch money for implementation, but, sadly, there are no clever ninth graders working at the Clerk of Court’s office.  So long as an uninformed public continues re-electing political cronies to the head offices of the Clerk (and the print media remains silent on that and other well-known, substandard practices), that situation will not change for Atlanta.

Why is there no political push for sunshine in the courts? Neighborhood advocates have worked to great effect with the police to make streets safer, but those efforts are ultimately wasted if similar scrutiny is not applied to the court system, which is directly responsible for repeatedly releasing both violent and property offenders.

This is why full disclosure and frank discussion of the criminal history of offenders like Michael Harvey is so important, and why it is so unsettling that the D.A. is not being forthcoming with that information.  Here is a known alleged killer, and it seems that nobody acted with appropriate speed to restrain him.  Two, or five, or eight years ago, it would have been far easier to try Harvey for this murder.  Fourteen years ago, when he was tried for another rape and should have had his DNA tested, it would have been easier still.

Now, it seems like an afterthought.  And everybody involved seems to be covering each others’ mistakes.  This is justice on the cheap.  We’ve all been accepting utter neglect of most criminal behavior for so long that it doesn’t even seem noteworthy that an accused killer has been walking the streets all this time, in plain view.

Rwanda and Columbine: The Politics of Forced Reconciliation

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Occasionally, in response to something I write, I receive an e-mail advising me that, for the good of my soul, I had better stop judging criminals (or criticizing, or even joking about them) and train myself to vigilantly “forgive” them instead.  For example:

Life is too short to walk around with this kind of hate inside. Anger and bitterness is a poison that destroys the pot it is kept in.

There is more at work here than anonymous sanctimony and poor grammar.  There is presumption: presumption that forgiveness does not exist unless it is broadcast like a cheap pop song; presumption that crime victims as a group must be regulated and policed, that they are the dangerous creatures, more dangerous than the offenders who committed crimes against them.

Why is it that people who incontinently think only the best of criminals leap to believe the worst about people who are victimized?  I suppose the simple answer is that they must, in order to justify their choices.  Victims must be distrusted, lest people feel restrained from showering trust and affection on offenders.

Crime must be disappeared in order to legitimate sentimental feelings towards the criminal.

The Ur-text of such sentimental pathology surely is the film Dead Man Walking.  In order to promote herself as an extremely special harvester of extremely hardened souls, Sister Helen Prejean ran roughshod over quite a few facts and suffering innocents, both in her real life and through her artistic collaboration with the vile Susan Sarandon, who’s never met an unrepentant murderer she couldn’t love, lust for, or name her unborn baby after.

Such exercises have little to do with the exercise of actual forgiveness, which is perfectly capable of existing without the interventions of activist nuns, United Nations reconciliation committees, or federal grant-subsidized “restorative justice” professionals.

~~~

In fact, I know a great many crime victims, and exactly none of them are burning up on the inside because they cannot escape the carping furies in their souls (Aeschylus was such a hack).

On the other hand, crime victims do burn understandably hot over never getting their day in court, or not seeing their offender held accountable, or watching him walk free to offend again.  In other words, it isn’t feelings of vengeance that drive crime victims crazy: it’s denial of justice.

Yet that message doesn’t register with the reconciliation professionals.  They are too busy finding ways to level moral distinctions between offenders and victims, if not tip the scales completely.  The “restorative justice” movement itself started out as a program to push offenders to take responsibility for their crimes and make amends — but like many similar programs, it quickly devolved into mere advocacy for inmates.  Scratch the surface of most reconciliation programs and you will find nothing more than anti-incarceration activists deflecting resources that are supposed to aid crime victims.

~~~

Reconciliation and forgiveness are nice words. Closure is a lovely, if overused concept.  But we have turned these words into burdens we hang around the necks of people on the receiving end of crime.  And this has been done in order to benefit criminals in ways that may not really benefit them at all.

~~~

I recently read two interesting books that confront, in vastly different settings, the politics of forgiveness.  Columbine, by Dave Cullen, examines the 1999 Colorado massacre by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold; The Antelope’s Strategy, by Jean Hatzfeld, is an account of the government-and-NGO-enforced reconciliation of Tutsi survivors with Hutu murderers a decade after the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Although rural Rwanda and suburban Columbine are vastly different places, I came away from these books with an eerie sense that the Colorado and Rwandan murderers were speaking in a single voice.  Eric Harris, sitting in his basement in Colorado taping messages about the slaughter he’s about to commit, sounds chillingly like the leaders of the Hutu killing parties as they recount their daily forays to catch and kill the Tutsis who had escaped the killing of the previous day.  There is the same degree of nihilistic, cheerful premeditation and ambitions of slaughter.   Both Cullen and Hatzfeld seem aware that “root cause” theories, forensic psychology, and even their own considerable powers of explanation can only take them so far in explaining any of these killers’ deepest motives.

Evil, which is frequently overlooked in discussions of crime, is given its due.  So is not knowing — not being able to make sense, after a point.

Columbine was marketed as a corrective to media misrepresentations, but even so, I was surprised by the vast differences between the Columbine story as it played out in the national press and the story Dave Cullen uncovers.  Of course, I knew about the mythology that sprang up around victim Cassie Bernall: reporters had already eagerly discounted that pro-Christian-faith story, as Cullen shows.  But it appears that they were far less cautious with their own favored narratives (secular faith systems, one might say).

It was bullying, the media breathlessly reported, that drove Harris and Klebold to kill, and the victims they targeted were none other than the stereotypical high school bullies who taunted them for being different. Columbine, according to many members of the press, was yet more proof of the terrible consequences of picking on people, and not respecting differences, and the horrors of “jock culture,” and feeling alienated in high school, and so on.  This tale, encouraged by “anti-bullying” professionals, took on a life of its own, and few in the media bothered to question the presumptions underlying it.

But it was not true, not only because the killers were not relentlessly bullied, but because the crime they tried to carry out would have killed many hundreds of random students and rescue workers, had the detonators worked in the bombs they set.  The shootings were random, also, as Cullen proves through an excruciating march through crime scene evidence.

Yet in the interest of promoting a narrative that spread blame to “everyone” for the murders, and additionally laid special blame on jock-types (an acceptable bias), the press played down the story of the bombs and largely invented the story about revenge against specific targets.

These misrepresentations were hardly random.  The victims were tarred with culpability; Harris and Klebold were unburdened of it.  Even though the “bullying” story was a complete fabrication, anti-bullying “tolerance” activists received a massive payday from the $3.8 million dollar fund set up to compensate victims, a payday several times larger than the largest payouts given to the most critically wounded students or the families of the dead.  Some students with lesser injuries didn’t even receive enough money to cover their medical costs, while tolerance trainers raked in the cash for a “crime of bullying” that didn’t really happen and wouldn’t rise to the level of a misdemeanor crime if it had.

So although Harris and Klebold were not victims of bullying, their non-existent suffering was thus “reimbursed” at a far higher rate than the real suffering they inflicted on any of their victims.  And that is an important untold story of Columbine, though, strangely, after going to great lengths to decimate the false “bullying” narrative, Dave Cullen doesn’t question the use of victim funds to perpetuate the bullying story.

What did this payday to “tolerance trainers” actually purchase?  Most likely, to tell the surviving students — and their families, and the families of the dead, and the community at large — that they were all responsible for the social alienation that culminated in the loss of their loved ones.  By paying for tolerance programs, authorities were essentially pleading guilty, on behalf of others, to the crime of intolerance.  Intolerance towards whom?

People who are “different.”  People who feel victimized by society.  Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold?  Who else?

What might a sane, fact-based response to Columbine look like? It certainly wouldn’t include paying people a dime to sensitize innocent survivors to minor social offenses that didn’t occur in the first place.  Money would have been better spent examining the actual warning signs displayed by the killers, Eric Harris in particular.  Harris was a textbook psychopath who had accumulated a long rap sheet — or would have, had multiple reports of violent threats, stalking, and explosives-based vandalism, in addition to car theft charges, been taken seriously. Instead, probation and classroom records show that he easily adopted the stance of a remorseful and prison-scarred youth (after just a few hours in jail), even earning admiration from one teacher because he’d “learned so much” from the enriching experience of being arrested.

But grieving victims who asked how the two killers could plan a massacre and stockpile and stage multiple weapons and guns without detection found themselves on the wrong side of a grief industry — and intertwined anti-bullying industry — that insisted that questions like these were simply the wrong questions to ask.  It is practically impossible, in the current atmosphere, to blame crime solely on the offenders.  Everyone else is expected to ritualistically absorb some portion of blame — or stand accused of failing to heal, find closure, or audibly forgive.

~~~

But what happens when the scale of the crime is so large that many people are responsible, so many that imposing justice is practically impossible?  In 1994, more than half a million ethnic Tutsi were systematically slaughtered by Hutu militias in Rwanda, a genocide that spared only 300,000 Tutsi in a country of nearly 7 million.  In 2003 the surviving Tutsi learned that the government would be releasing tens of thousands of Hutu being held for the murders.  Already forced to live alongside Hutu who had failed to stop the killings, or even participated in them, Tutsi survivors would now be pressured to participate in tribunals designed to “reconcile” victims with many of the killers who had led the genocide.  Imprisoned Hutu who willingly confessed (often to extremely minor parts of their activities) were allowed to return home to live alongside the people they had tried to kill and whose family members they succeeded in killing.

At the heart of the prison releases was a demographic argument: Rwanda needed imprisoned farmers to return to work, and Hutu women and children needed their men to sustain family life.  But the releases also reflected another demographic reality: in an overwhelmingly Hutu nation, the government was more than willing to push the Tutsi genocide into the past.

Tutsi were already experiencing the nearly unbearable difficulty of living alongside people who had tried to kill them and had raped and murdered most members of their families.  Survivors spend months fleeing from armed men who hunted them repeatedly, day after day, and returned home in the evenings to loot, feast, and rest for the next day’s hunt: entire villages preyed on their former, and future, neighbors.  Given the scale of the attacks and their small numbers, Tutsi who survived the genocide had long-ago settled for symbolic justice and uneasy promises of safety.

But now, forced “reconciliation” was literally supplanting what little justice had actually been delivered.  Few of the Tutsi who speak in The Antelope Strategy harbored any illusions about the effects of pardoning mass numbers of killers.  They can hardly afford wishful talk about “closure.”  They live in fear that reconciliation will embolden the Hutu and, ironically, inflame anti-Tutsi sentiment, leading to outbreaks of violence.

Antelope Strategy is, in part, an extraordinary exploration of the limits of rehabilitation and forgiveness:

Claudine Kayitesi: “In the courts injustice gobbles up justice.  Obviously, not every killer deserves execution — but still, some of them, after all.  Those who burned babies alive, who cut and cut till their arms ached, who led expeditions of a thousand hunters — those should really have disappeared from our lives.  The state has decided to save them.  If someone had asked for my opinion?  I would have sent the propagandists and the major leaders to the firing squad.  That wasn’t done; foreigners exerted influence, and the authorities proved flexible to favor national reconciliation.  For us, it becomes impossible to relieve our grief, even with full bellies.  Basically, justice is not worrying about the feelings of survivors.”

Berthe Mwanankabandi: “What’s the use of looking for mitigating circumstances for people who butchered day after day after day and even on Sundays with their machetes?  What can you mitigate?  The number of victims?  The method of hacking?  The killers’ laughter?  Delivering justice would mean killing the killers.  But that would be like another genocide, and would bring chaos.  Killing or punishing the guilty in some suitable way: impossible.  Pardoning them: unthinkable.  Being just is inhuman. . . This is not a human justice, it’s a politics of justice.  We can only regret that they never show either sincerity or sorrow.”

Innocent Rwililiza: “The other Tutsi, from the diaspora [who fled to refugee camps], make sure the survivors never take revenge. . . The diaspora Tutsi don’t forget anything — either the terror of their flight, or the wretchedness of of exile, or the massacres of their families.  They are neither traitors nor ingrates.  But it suits them to present the genocide as a kind of human catastrophe, a dreadful accident of history, in a way requiring formidable efforts of cooperation to repair the damage.  They invented the policy of reconciliation because seven out of ten Rwandans are Hutus.  It’s a terrible thing, after a genocide: a demographic majority that snatched up the machete.  Reconciliation would be a sharing of trust.  The politics of reconciliation, that’s the equitable division of distrust.”

Usually, western legal philosophy focuses only on the ethical limitations of punishment, not the ethical limitations of mercy.  The Tutsi who speak in the book are not universally negative, but they cannot afford to be naive.  It is not just in places like Rwanda that we are too quick to forgive murderers:

Francine Niyitegeka:  “With age, the scars are healing from my skin. . . But although I am relieved, I am never at peace.  Deep down, I , too, feel oppressed by walking behind the fate that was set for me.  Someone who saw herself in muddy detail as a corpse in the papyrus lying among all the others, comparing herself to all those dead, always feels distressed.  By what?  I cannot say; I don’t know how to express it even to myself.  If her spirit has accepted her end, if she has at some point understood that she will not survive, such a person has seen an emptiness in her heart of hearts that she will never forget.  The truth is, if she has lost her soul even for a moment, then it’s a tricky thing for her to find a life again.”

Columbine Dave Cullen (2009, Hatchette Book Group)

The Antelope’s Strategy: Living in Rwanda After the Genocide Jean Hatzfeld (2007, Farrar Straus and Giroux)

Real Recidivism: The Numbers Aren’t Good

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Whenever some academician tells the media that this program or that program has “reduced recidivism,” or that “this group of offenders aren’t likely to commit more crimes” there are three questions you should always ask:

  • how long were the offenders tracked after they got out of prison?
  • how were offenders selected for (or excluded from) study?
  • who paid the academician?

I have an especially hard time trusting studies that are designed to test one specific program or sentencing initiative.  Such studies are usually designed by people who have a vested interest in proving the program a success — either the program directors themselves or some professor or consulting firm hired to evaluate their outcomes.

It’s sort of like telling a bunch of ambitious eleventh graders to grade their own performance on the SAT’s . . . based on effort.

Unfortunately, there is no graveyard where skewed studies go to die: they live on in debates about recidivism, sentencing, and crime.  This is how myths like “sex offenders almost never re-offend” seep out into the conventional wisdom.

How do you cook the books on recidivism? You follow tiny pools of offenders.  You pick offenders who have already shown initiative by enrolling in a program or being admitted into one — self-selecting, ideal participants.  You use partial information: convictions instead of arrests; post-plea sentencing instead of pre-pleaded charges.  Mostly, you follow offenders for very short periods of time after they are released, like, down the street to the first stoplight.

When you don’t do these things, this is what the headline looks like:

Recidivism rate worse than statistics indicate, Memphis-area study finds

20 years of research discovers 81 percent of former inmates end up back behind bars

Yikes.

Jeff Smith had been free of drugs for four years. Two of those years were during a stay at the Shelby County Correction Center and two were while working at the Salvation Army after his release from jail.

It was at the Salvation Army that Smith, 54, says he felt “a sense of purpose for the first time in years.” He was doing what he says he loves best — working as a carpenter and furniture refinisher. And he counseled other former inmates to try to keep them from repeating their mistakes.

Smith wishes he had followed his own advice. “I was tempted by the devil, and I failed,” he says. Carpentry, counseling and church services at the Salvation Army weren’t enough to break the “revolving-door” cycle that means, like Smith, up to 94 percent of former inmates will be rearrested and up to 81 percent will wind up behind bars again.

94% re-arrest rate.  This is from a 20-year study that recorded every re-arrest and re-conviction, avoiding the “partial information” scheme.  The study itself was conducted by people who have a program of their own to promote: they claim that their moral reconation therapy (MRT) resulted in a 25% decrease in recidivism:

About 94 percent of inmates receiving only standard counseling had been rearrested and 82 percent of them wound up back behind bars.  Of those receiving MRT therapy, 81 percent had been rearrested and 61 percent again wound up behind bars. It was reduction of about 25 percent from the group that did not receive MRT therapy.

Well, OK.  It’s not that I think that there’s no such thing as rehabilitation.  Consequences and 12-steps and therapy do work.  But I’d need to know a lot more about their selection process to buy the 25% claim.

Besides, when anti-incarceration activists claim that we save X amount of money by not incarcerating someone, that’s just untrue.  Most offenders receive significant social service dollars — housing, medical, food stamps — when they are out of prison as well, not to mention the price of policing them and the costs that arise every time they commit an additional crime, which 94% of them apparently will do.  Offenders who return to abusing substances when they get out of prison are particularly costly as their health deteriorates and their habits drag down the families and neighborhoods around them.  Innocent bystanders and misinformed taxpayers pay the tab either way.

Without acknowledging these costs, statements like this are, frankly, meaningless:

[T]he cost of housing an inmate like Smith is more than $24,000 a year, so cutting total costs by 25 percent would mean a huge savings.

Yet public policy debates rise and fall on questionable claims like these. The media needs to do a much better job of skeptically approaching all research claims.  After all, if there is reliable research showing that everything policymakers have been believing is not only wrong, but staggeringly wrong, the debate needs to be re-calibrated:

Tennessee Department of Correction studies show recidivism rates of about 51 percent over a three-year period, and national studies show recidivism averages of roughly 65 percent over three years. But [Dr. Greg] Little and [Dr. Kenneth] Robinson say the numbers keep going up over time, and the numbers are higher because most studies don’t count re-incarcerations that took place in other states or in courts other than the original case. For instance, an inmate released on state probation or parole is seldom counted as a recidivist if later jailed for a federal crime.

There is a very large difference between 51% recidivism and 94% recidivism.  You don’t need to throw out the rehabilitation baby with the research bathwater just because the research bathwater is hopelessly dirty, but you should wash the baby in clean water.


Robert Chatigny: By Nominating Him, Obama Shows Extreme Contempt For Victims

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Barack Obama is arguably the most offender-friendly, victim-loathing president the country has ever seen.  His judicial and political philosophies are reflexively anti-incarceration.  His political career suggests a particularly disturbing pattern of disrespect for victims of sex crime.

In the Illinois state senate, Obama was the only senator who refused to support a bill allowing victims of sexual assault to have certain court records sealed.  The bill was intended to protect victims from having their sex lives and other extremely personal information (medical and gynecological records) splayed out in the public record for all to see after a trial had ended.  The legislation was written to protect the dignity of women who had been victimized by rapists, and then re-victimized in the courtroom at the hands of sleazy defense attorneys.

The vote for the bill was 58 – 0.  Obama alone abstained from voting, though he was present.

So, while Obama was far from the only liberal in the Illinois state senate, he was the only liberal in the Illinois state senate who believed that a victim of rape has no right to conceal from the public, for example, the fact that she contracted a venereal disease or was impregnated by her attacker.

And, as he had done so many times before, Obama didn’t even display the courage of his convictions by openly voting against the bill.  He voted, merely, “present,” so his opposition to the law would be easier to conceal in subsequent elections.

It would have been far less contemptuous to simply vote “no.”  Then, at least, victims would know precisely what the young senator and constitutional law professor thought of their dignity.  Abstaining from voting sent a stone-cold message — that Obama considered any consideration of the privacy rights of raped women to be quite a few rungs lower than his future political ambition.

It is important to understand that this vote against victims’ rights was no isolated case in the president’s history, as we are reminded today, when news broke that Obama was nominating U.S. District Court Judge Robert Chatigny for the Court of Appeals.

Chatigny is far from the only liberal judge sitting on the bench, but he is the only liberal sitting judge who became so enamored of a sexual serial killer that he denounced the state for deigning to prosecute, let alone convict, the killer.

Michael Ross started raping at an early age, and he had raped and murdered at least eight young women by the time he was caught.  Although there was no question of his guilt, from the moment Ross entered the legal system, he attracted vocal, activist supporters.  This is, sadly, not unusual: raping and slaughtering eight innocent women is, in some circles, quite a draw.  Records from Ross’ trial and appeal barely focus on the young women: they are the usual intricate inquiry into Ross’ feelings, Ross’ rights, Ross’ mood on death row, Ross’ childhood, Ross’ dating disappointments, ad infinitum.

Oh, and the hurt feelings of one hired defense psychologist, who believed he was being dissed by a trial judge.

The system disappears the victims, then the courtroom disappears the victims, then the appeals process disappears the victims, so by the time activists like Robert Chatigny set out to rehabilitate vicious torturers like Michael Ross, there’s no need to haul out metaphysical barrels of lye to dissolve what’s left of his crimes.  That had already been done, with an efficiency that would make an Argentinian death squad spill tears of shame all over the helicopter tarmac.

Judge Chatigny looked at Michael Ross and saw, not a killer, but someone who was suffering from “sexual sadism” and thus should not be held responsible for his actions.  The judge presented a sort of a twinkie defense on Ross’ behalf, the twinkie being Ross’ compulsive inability to stop torturing women.  Ross had been posturing the same defense from death row for two decades: in the killer’s mind, and the judge’s mind, he was the victim of a cruel mother, world, impulse disorder, judiciary, counsel, jury, and insufficiently plumped procedural protections.  But especially, he was a victim of this faux sadism syndrome, the existence of which, in Chatigny’s mind, supercedes the fatal outcome of Ross’ crimes and delegitimates the state’s prosecution of him.

Fox News reports:

[Chatigny] repeatedly stuck up for Ross, saying he suffered from “this affliction, this terrible disease” and suggesting Ross “may be the least culpable, the least, of the people on death row.”  “Looking at the record in a light most favorable to Mr. Ross, he never should have been convicted,” Chatigny said [emphasis added].  “Or if convicted, he never should have been sentenced to death because his sexual sadism, which was found by every single person who looked at him, is clearly a mitigating factor.”

He never should have been convicted?  Really, really enjoying torturing and killing women is a mitigating factor?  This is the mindset Obama chooses to elevate?

Michael Ross: Not a Victim

The legal strategy crafted by Michael Ross and his supporters was to present Ross as a helpless victim deserving of empathy, instead of a vicious killer meriting punishment.  This is not merely a favored strategy of anti-incarceration activism: it is perhaps the most cherished “ethical practice” of the Left.

It is also only effective if the victims’ lives and suffering are simultaneously erased — buried, and forgotten.  Killers can only be elevated if the memory of their victims is systematically denied.  That is what Judge Robert Chatigny did to Ross’ victims in 2005 and what Obama is doing to them now.

I don’t believe for a moment that Obama nominated Chatigny to the higher bench despite the judge’s horrific transgressions in the Michael Ross case: I believe he nominated Chatigny because of those transgressions.  That would be entirely in keeping with the legal and political worldview Obama has endorsed throughout his career.  And, yes, this is extremely disturbing.

Chatigny’s other claim to fame is opposing sex offender registries.  If this administration gets its way, will sex offender registries become a thing of the past?

Here are the names of Ross’ known victims (their photos are here). Little girls, some of them.  All dead, now.  Too bad Eric Holder doesn’t call them victims of hate crime.  If he did, the president would not have nominated the man who set out to liberate, and valorize, their killer:

Dzung Ngoc Tu, 25, a Cornell University student, killed May 12, 1981. Paula Perrera, 16, of Wallkill, N.Y., killed in March, 1982. Tammy Williams, 17, of Brooklyn, killed Jan. 5, 1982. Debra Smith Taylor, 23, of Griswold, killed June 15, 1982. Robin Stavinksy, 19, of Norwich, killed November, 1983. April Brunias, 14, of Griswold, killed April 22, 1984. Leslie Shelley, 14, of Griswold, killed April 22, 1984. Wendy Baribeault, 17, of Griswold, killed June 13, 1984.

Barack Obama should reach out to every one of these families and apologize.

~~~

Senators Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman are supporting Judge Chatigny’s appointment.  Call the Senators’ offices and urge them to withdraw their support.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy suspended hearings on Chatigny’s appointment when prosecutors from Connecticut sent him a letter outlining the Ross scandal.  Call and encourage Leahy to take the prosecutor’s concerns seriously.

Senator Jeff Sessions is vocally opposing the nomination.  Thank the Senator for taking a stand.

Media (Un)Ethics: Using the Anniversary of Jessica Lunsford’s Murder to Advocate For Sex Offenders

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Last week marked the fifth anniversary of Jessica Lunsford’s murder. Nine-year old Lunsford was kidnapped, raped, and buried alive by her neighbor, a convicted sex offender.

You would think the anniversary of Lunsford’s horrific murder would give rise to thoughts about our failure to protect her and other victims of violent recidivists.  You would think reporters would cover stories about early release of sexual predators, lax sentencing of sexual predators, and failure to punish sexual predators.  You would think that, but you would be wrong.  In Florida’s “prestige” media, the St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald,  Lunsford’s death is treated as a cautionary tale — not cautioning against the fatal practice of going easy on child rapists, mind you, but scorning those who are trying to prevent similar crimes from happening again.

The problem, according to John Frank of the SPTimes, is not that John Couey was free to kill Jessica five years ago: the problem is that public, thoughtless brutes that we are, reacted to the murder of Jessica by lowering our opinion of sex offenders:

The brutal killing of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford, which happened five years ago today, fueled the creation of a boogeyman in Florida politics: the sex offender.

Never mind that the “boogeyman” in this case and countless others was not an imaginary threat but a real one, thus not technically a boogeyman at all.  This is the breathless first sentence of a breathless denunciation of any and all efforts to keep track of sex offenders, from stricter sentencing, to registration laws, to living restrictions, to simply not feeling warm and fuzzy enough towards that convicted child molester who wants to lead your son’s scout troop.

I say “denunciation” instead of “reporting” because reporting signifies a veneer of objectivity.  At least the Times refrained from attacking Jessica’s father, Mark Lunsford, this time.   That must have been hard for them, for attacking Mark Lunsford over everything from his educational background to the type of car he drives has become a sort of newsroom sport among Times staffers.

I wrote about Lunsford-bashing here and here.

Lunsford has been unforgivably smeared, and now the anniversary his daughter’s death is being used to slyly advocate for rapists and killers under the guise of “reporting.”  If only the St. Petersburg Times had an institute for journalistic ethics or something: maybe they could visit it and learn to reign in such ugly behavior.  Instead, because Mark Lunsford is a crime victim advocate, rather than an advocate for criminals like the man who murdered his daughter, he’s fair game to the so-called reporters who hound his every move.

Quote of the Day: “Getting Into Prison Is Not Easy”

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Milwaukee’s Chief of Police says what needs to be said, and what nobody else is saying, about the nation-wide push to release state prisoners before their sentences are served:

“Getting into prison is not easy,” Milwaukee Police Chief Edward A. Flynn said in an interview. “You’ve got to get locked up and convicted a lot of times before we get you prison space. We’re looking at a class of offenders that have already demonstrated a history of reoffending, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.”

Unless you actually murder someone as a first offense, virtually every offender serving prison time is a person who has already failed at one or more “second chances.”  How will they behave this time around?  Expect criminologists to cook up statistics purporting pristine conduct by all.  It won’t be true, but expect it anyway.

Read the rest of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article here.

When Politicians Gain Support Because They Break the Law: Ray Sansom and Kevin White

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Rogue’s Gallery:

Republican State Representative Ray Sansom

Democratic County Commissioner Kevin White

When elected officials break the law, they break the law for all of us. They represent us, after all, so their actions in public office reflect the people who elected them.

Unfortunately, some constituents actually seem to relish the role of co-defendant to wrongdoing.  Witness Tampa-area County Commissioner Kevin White, who appears to be enjoying increased support because he was found guilty of sexual harassment of an employee, a sleazy move that cost taxpayers $450,000.

White’s campaign for re-election is based less on his legislative record than on the argument that he is the victim of a witch-hunt because he was found guilty of something.  Financial beneficiaries of the generous taxpayer-funded social programs that dot his district are lining up to tell reporters that nobody can possible ever know what happened between White and his accuser, even though a court determined that, in fact, we do know beyond a reasonable doubt, which is why the councilman’s skin-crawling behavior with a very young woman is costing the rest of us 450 big ones.

This nobody can ever possible know the truth or what lies in the hearts of men or if anyone is every truly really guilty of anything nonsense is precisely why Kevin White needs to be held responsible for his actions.  Sure, it is costing taxpayers more money to sue him to try to recoup the expenses caused by his behavior, but not suing him would be more expensive: it would send the message that you can get away with committing crime so long as you complain loudly afterward that you are the victim, not the perpetrator.

Meanwhile, Florida state representative and former House Speaker Ray Sansom has been pulling a Kevin White (or is it Kevin White pulling a Ray Sansom?) in the Florida state capitol, where a cabal of hold-out Republican bigwigs have been behaving precisely like Kevin White apologists by rallying around the disgraced politician, who funneled big sums of taxpayer cash to a pal in the community college system in return for an unadvertised, six-figure, no-show job at the college.

For months after Sansom’s dealing became public, Republican Party officials worked behind the scenes and before the cameras to dissuade the legislature from taking action on Sansom, claiming it would be too expensive, or needlessly divisive, or just plain mean to do so.  When Sansom resigned suddenly from the House yesterday, Republican Representative Bill Galvano told the media “We are his colleagues, and that makes it heart-wrenching.”

Why heart-wrenching?  Why not call the crime disgusting?  As a former educator in Florida’s community college system, where I took home about $7 an hour with no benefits and no job security to teach a full load of classes to equally hard-working students (who were also subsidizing Sansom with their tuition), I think I speak for many thousands of teachers and students when I say:

What a thief.

The attempted-kid-glove handling of Sansom is particularly troubling because of his ties to U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio, who is running as a political reformer against current Governor and Senate candidate Charlie Crist.  Pretty high stakes, indeed.  National stakes.  If Rubio won’t talk about his dealings with Sansom, after he appointed him as his own budget chief, then how can voters trust him to stand for honest government?  If Rubio won’t harshly condemn this type of theft from the taxpayers, then why should anyone believe he is going to reform anything?

Worst of all, when we excuse criminal acts by elected officials, we are sending a message to other criminals that their behavior is acceptable.  Imagine if Ray Sansom stole a car instead of finangling a shockingly obvious kickback.  What would Marco Rubio say then?  What can anyone say to the car thieves when nests of political operatives are busy trying to help their colleagues (and themselves) avoid full legal inquiries?

When you let this type of corruption go unchecked, here is the government ethics you get, courtesy of Kevin White supporters at a fundraising event held for White at the famous Columbia Restaurant in Tampa last week:

A jury last August found White had made unwanted sexual advances to former aide Alyssa Ogden then fired her when she rebuffed him. White has maintained his innocence. The jury ordered that he pay Ogden $75,000.  A year earlier, White had to pay a fine of $9,500 to the Florida Elections Commission for using campaign funds to buy tailor-made suits and ties.  Those missteps, however, didn’t dim the enthusiasm of the crowd that lined up Wednesday for the Columbia’s renowned Paella a la Valencia and swayed to a light jazz and blues combo. Longtime friend Bob Vallee called White a “good person” who was unfairly accused by a young woman who wanted money.  “You’ve got to realize, there are two sides to every story,” Vallee said. “The mistake Kevin made was in firing her. If he hadn’t of fired her, she wouldn’t have done anything.”

Wow, thanks for clearing that up, Bob.  In other words, if you’re going to break the law, you’d better keep diverting taxpayer funds to your mark, in case she decides to squeal.  There’s a heaping helping of political ethics.  And, note to the Columbia Restaurant: that’s the last time I pay a dime for your rice and beans.  Lie down with dogs, and you deserved to be tarred by the same brush.

“I don’t know if [Kevin White] did what they say he did, but overall I think he’s been a good politician,” said supporter Linda Wilcox, who is making a first-time run for the county commission in another race.  “I think he’ll be a better commissioner because through all this adversity, he still did his job,” said another supporter, Fred Hayes.

Get it?  White is a better man for having tried to wriggle out of paying the bill he ran up for sexually harassing an employee.  It was a learning experience. Heck, if he’d of done it a few more times, Ray Sansom could buy him a college degree.

Update on Marcus Wellons, and the Eternal Appeals Machine

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Funny how the details turn out to be so very different from what the media — not to mention many on the Supreme Court — made of them:

Jury Regrets Racy Candy That Fed Killer’s Appeal

Now will anybody other than the local newspaper revisit the case?

Witless Commentary

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I’ve received many thoughtful, if critical, comments lately, including a few from people who tell me they are offenders.

But I have also been hearing more frequently from people who write to protest that I am not meeting the minimum daily requirement of gratuitous empathy for criminals.

To the latter, let me say, from the bottom of my allegedly chilly vascular system: you’re going to have to look elsewhere for that.  There are countless places on-line to find like-minded bleeding hearts with whom to commiserate over the specialness of homeless sex offenders, or gun criminals’ contributions to society, or to discuss that great poem written by Death Row Childkiller, if that’s the type of thing you’re looking for.

This blog ain’t one of them.

Actually, I don’t believe for a moment that the types who feel moved to castigate me for not loving predators enough really care about them all that much themselves.  I think they care mainly about trumpeting their sensitivity towards people they label “downtrodden,” an exhibitionism that carries not only its own smug rewards, but warm approbation from certain institutions — universities, media circles, portions of the legal profession.

Second only to the trumpeting, there’s the carping, preferably at soft targets like this blog.  “Soft” because it is safer, after all, to try to police the feelings of some blogger than to broadcast one’s positive emotions directly to the above-mentioned downtrodden.  For, while it is unlikely that I will do anything more threatening than report you to the bar association for your anonymous attacks on my character, actual predators, apprised of the proximity of a soft underbelly, might do far worse.

The enthusiastic belief that it is morally wrong to judge offenders in any way seems to truck with other predictable stances: anti-police, anti-authority, Maileresque rebelliousness.  Sadly, anti-authority does not imply anti-authoritarian: it’s almost comical, how an intense desire to police others inevitably seems to percolate through the veins of people who otherwise vocally revile policing.

Or rather, it would be comical, in the case below, if only the underlying subject weren’t so grim.  The following letter writer accuses me of mental illness on the grounds that I deigned to express mild outrage over a judge releasing a cold-blooded killer to await his next trial, a favor the killer then repaid by shooting an innocent woman and beating her infant against a wall “like a baseball bat.”

Whoever wrote this should seek counseling for your unresolved anger issues. Life is too short to walk around with this kind of hate inside. Anger and bitterness is a poison that destroys the pot it is kept in.

Well, thank you, “Scott,” whoever you are.  I will certainly monitor the integrity of my pot, if you promise to work on subject-verb agreement.  But I have to ask: did you also use that fine rhetorical talent to draft a letter to the killer, similarly chiding him for his unresolved anger issues?  Or is merely criticizing a fatal judicial mishap simply that much worse, in your worldview, than slaughtering an innocent shop clerk over a ten dollar t-shirt, shooting a woman in the chest, and battering an infant’s head to a pulp?

Or making excuses for the same?

I’m not 100% certain that the writer of this letter is a defense attorney.   I’m just 98% sure.  In either case, the point is this: when you become hysterical at criticism of powerful people who carelessly let a predator loose to attack more innocents, you’re not on the side of justice.  Or righteousness. Or angels.  Or freedom fighters.

Or even naifs.