Archive for the ·

Appeals

· Category...

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

7 comments

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

Disappearing Adria Sauceda: The Nun, The SNAP, The Law Professor, The President, His Newspaper and the U.N. Defend Torture-Killer Humberto Leal

62 comments

The Nun:

This is rapist and murderer Humberto Leal, mugging for the camera beside one of his many supporters, Sister Germaine Corbin.  Not included in the picture?  Sixteen-year old Adria Sauceda.

Adria can’t mug for cameras with nuns because she’s dead.  Not just dead — gang-raped, then kidnapped, tortured, raped, and beaten to death in the desert, her skull crushed with repeated blows from a 40 pound slab of asphalt, her body violated by a fifteen inch broken stick.

But he looks like such a nice boy.  Look at the nun’s smile.

Nuns minister to murderers and Catholics oppose the death penalty.  And so it should be.

But photos like this have nothing to do with ministering to a soul: this is public relations calculatedly erasing the memory of another soul — Adria Sauceda — disappearing her and placing Leal in her place.  Humberto Leal’s supporters — who include the President — want to turn Leal into a mere victim of America’s “vicious and unfair” justice system.  The only way to do this is to lie about the legal record and erase the evidence of his crime, namely an innocent sixteen-year old girl named Adria.  A shopworn way of scrubbing such human evidence is to plaster airwaves with photos of the killers looking shy and boyish in the presence of beaming nuns.

I have a modest suggestion for avoiding such deceptions in the future: the next time Sister Corbin wants to play Helen Prejean by clasping hands for the cameras with someone like this, she should use her other hand to hold up a picture of the victim.  Then things like facts and what is really at stake will not be buried behind the smiles.

A picture of murder victim Adria Sauceda, held in her parents’ hands

The SNAP:

Shamefully, SNAP, the Survivor Network of Those Abused by Priests, has also come out in Humberto Leal’s defense, because, they claim, he was molested by a priest.  But they don’t stop there: in their eagerness to climb into bed with Leal’s Bernadine Dohrn-connected defense team (see below), SNAP is actually promoting the defense’s risible claims of Leal’s innocence.  Their statement of support completely whitewashes Garcia’s crimes, a stunningly cynical act by a group that claims to exist in order to . . . oh, oppose the official whitewashing of sexual crimes:

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, National Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests [contact info deleted].  We wholeheartedly support efforts to postpone the execution of Humberto Leal, and to try and protect kids from Fr. Federico Fernandez, through both secular and church channels.  We believe it is possible, even likely, that Fernandez could be criminally prosecuted, but only if Catholic and Texas authorities aggressively seek out others who saw, suspected or suffered the priest’s crimes. Delaying Mr. Leal’s execution is just and fair and would help this outreach process.

The whitewashing doesn’t end there.  SNAP uses their website to promote a discredited version of Leal’s “innocence.”  This version has been rejected repeatedly by the courts.  Worse, it intentionally minimizes the circumstances of the murdered girl’s suffering.  Here is SNAP’s version, quoting a wildly inaccurate article by someone named Brandi Grissom, who happens to be an anti-death penalty activist writing as a journalist for an online paper.  I’m quoting extensively here to offer some background, but the last paragraph’s the kicker:

One of [a priest's] alleged victims is Humberto Leal, a death row inmate who in 1995 was convicted of raping and bludgeoning to death a 16-year-old girl. His attorneys this week filed a clemency petition on his behalf. They asked Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to stay his execution and allow him to testify both as a victim and a witness of abuses allegedly perpetrated decades ago by Father Federico Fernandez, who served at St. Clare’s from 1983 to 1988.

Now, others who attended St. Clare’s have been spurred by Mr. Leal’s recent revelations to come forward and report similar abuse. They hope that by telling their stories they can stop the July 7 execution of Mr. Leal, and spur law enforcement to investigate and prosecute Father Fernandez.

The priest, who currently works in a church in Bogotá, Colombia, denies ever abusing anyone.

Church authorities in San Antonio removed him from the parish and sent him to New Mexico for treatment in 1988 after a grand jury indicted him for sexually abusing two other boys. In statements to police, the boys described multiple occasions when Father Fernandez schemed to get them alone and groped them. After the indictment, the boys’ family reached a settlement with the church, and the young men decided not to testify. Charges against Father Fernandez were dropped, and terms of the settlement were sealed.

Even before Father Fernandez arrived at St. Clare’s, he had been accused of sexual misconduct. In 1983, San Antonio police charged him with exposing himself in public, though the charges were eventually dropped. And since Mr. Leal’s revelation, others who attended St. Clare’s have reported similar abuse. . .

As is usually the case in a criminal matter, the facts of what led to Mr. Leal facing execution next month are in dispute — all, that is, except that Adria Sauceda was raped and murdered. Mr. Leal maintains he did not rape the girl and witnesses testified at his trial that she had been gang raped at a party. Witnesses told the authorities that Mr. Leal arrived at the scene and, outraged at what had happened to her, took her away from the party. He admitted that he and Ms. Sauceda physically fought after they left, and that she could have died after he pushed her and she hit her head on a rock. The police found her body about 100 yards from the location of the party.

Hit her head on a rock  . . . as he was rescuing her!  Gee, this Leal guy sounds like he might be innocent, doesn’t he?  And this is SNAP, after all, and they stand beside victims who have had their sexual assaults pushed under rocks, as it were.

Let’s be very, very clear about what SNAP is doing.  They are attempting to deny that Adria Sauceda was raped — again — by Leal as he bludgeoned her to death.  They are using their credibility as a rape victims’ rights organization to say that Leal’s kidnapping and rape of Sauceda may not have occurred.

And this is a rape victims’ rights organization.  Jesus wept, though not just this one time: I’ve seen similar ugliness in other victims’ rights groups hijacked by advocates for offenders.

Regarding the rape, SNAP forgot something.  They forgot the stick.  After the child was taken from the party by Leal, she was raped with a stick.  A jagged stick with screws sticking out of it, to be precise, which, to be even more precise — let’s say discerning — was used on Adria Sauceda while she was still alive.  That’s rape, and SNAP, of all bloody organizations, should know that, rather than quibbling over the number of times a dead girl was violated.  What, are they the only victims who ever matter?  Where is their membership regarding this obscenity?

With this decision to publicly support Leal, and to support him in the way they have chosen, SNAP’s leadership has made itself vulnerable to a common accusation — that they are just left-wing activists using the molestation crisis to attack the growing sexual conservatism of the Catholic Church.  I discount these accusations when they come from people who are themselves busy downplaying the reach of the molestation issue (particularly the cover-ups).  The absurd John Jay “hippies made us do it” “study” is one example of cover-up that discredits its advocates, for example.

But with this swift move by SNAP, such exploitation of victims is full circle now.  As usual, the people left out in the cold are the ones unfortunate enough to have been raped or murdered by one politically protected group or another.

What we’re actually witnessing here is the mundane drumbeat of insinuation, as yet another victims-rights group centrifuges its values and joins its opponents in picking and choosing among victims to support.  In a broader sense, I blame this sort of ethical slippage on the many political satisfactions of “hate crimes” laws, which codify and reward the act of valuing some victims over others.  Once identity politics is larded into sentencing, and activism, it’s easy to throw less politically useful crime victims out with the trash.

Here is the real record of the evidence, from Pro-Death Penalty a serious website that deserves serious attention, especially from those who hold that the death penalty itself is universally insupportable on religious or ethical grounds.  It is especially important for these types of death penalty opponents (I count myself one) to witness the whole truth, to not push away facts, or fall for outrageous claims of innocence, or pose for color glossies with sick sadists, or violate one’s mission statement to defend certain victims by helping bury others.

I encourage you to read the entire story at Pro-Death Penalty, because it catalogs the disturbing censorship by virtually every news agency — and activists at SNAP, among others.  Pro-Death Penalty quotes Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbot.  This passage is long, and painful to read: please remember it as you see the whitewashing of this crime in every media source over the next week:

[A] witness testified that an unidentified male invited him to have intercourse with Adria. The same witness testified that he later observed another man carrying a disoriented Adria to a truck, where he “had his way with her.” Twenty-three-year-old Humberto Leal was also at the party. At some point the intoxicated but conscious victim was placed in Leal’s car. Leal and Adria left together in Leal’s car. About thirty minutes later, Leal’s brother arrived at the party in a car which came to a screeching halt. Leal’s brother was very excited or hysterical. Leal’s brother started yelling to the people left at the party, “What the hell happened!” Leal’s brother was yelling that Leal came home with blood on him saying he had killed a girl. Two of the trial witnesses were present when Leal’s brother made these statements. Shortly thereafter Leal’s brother left in a rush. Several of the party members went looking for Adria in the same area where the party was. They found her nude body lying face-up on a dirt road. They noticed Adria’s head had been bashed in and it was bleeding. Her head was flinching or jerking. These party members called the police. When the police arrived, they saw the nude victim lying on her back. There was a 30 to 40 pound asphalt rock roughly twice the size of Adria’s skull lying partially on Adria’s left arm. Blood was underneath this rock. A smaller rock with blood on it was located near Adria’s right thigh. There was a gaping hole from the corner of Adria’s right eye extending to the center of her head from which blood was oozing. Adria’s head was splattered with blood. There was a bloody and broken stick approximately 14 to 16 inches long with a screw at the end of it protruding from [her body]. Another 4 to 5 inch piece of the stick was lying to the left side of Adria’s skull. The police made a videotape of the crime scene portions of which were admitted into evidence. Later that day, the police questioned Leal. Leal gave two voluntary statements.

Remember this part: it is important, in the context of President Obama’s defense of Leal.  Yes, that President Obama.

In Leal’s first statement he said he was with Adria in his car when she began hitting him and the steering wheel causing him to hit a curb. Leal attempted to calm her down but Adria leaped from Leal’s car and ran away. Leal claimed he sat in his car and waited about ten or fifteen minutes to see if Adria would return and when she did not he went home. After giving this statement, Leal was informed that his brother had also given a statement. Leal then gave another statement. In this statement, Leal claimed he followed Adria when she got out of his car and ran away. Leal claimed Adria attacked him. Leal pushed her and she fell to the ground. When she did not get up Leal attempted to wake her but could not. He then looked at her nose and saw bubbles. Leal stated he got scared, went home, prayed on the side of his mom’s bed and told family members what had happened, claiming it was just an accident. After giving this statement an officer gave Leal a ride home. The police searched Leal’s house. The police seized a blouse which contained several blood stains, hair and fibers. This blouse was later identified as belonging to Adria. The police also seized Leal’s clothing from the night before. Leal was arrested later that afternoon at his home. Leal’s car was also impounded. The police conducted Luminol tests of the passenger door to determine whether any blood was evident. Blood stains were discovered on the passenger door and seat. Detectives testified that the blood stains were streaked in a downward motion, indicating that the blood had been wiped off.  There was insufficient residue to conduct a blood typing of the stains on the vehicle. Other DNA evidence was found on the underwear Leal was wearing that night. That evidence consisted of blood as well as bodily fluid. The DNA test did not preclude Adria’s blood type from the evidence tested. Dr. DiMaio, the medical examiner who performed the autopsy, testified about Adria’s injuries and cause of death. DiMaio testified that even though Adria was intoxicated when she received her injuries, she would have been aware of what was happening to her. In addition to Adria’s massive head injuries, DiMaio testified about injuries Adria received to her chest and shoulder which were consistent with having been inflicted by the stick found in Adria’s vagina. DiMaio also testified about the defensive wounds Adria received to her hands trying to protect herself from some object. DiMaio also testified Adria was alive when the stick was placed in her vagina. Adria’s neck also contained injuries consistent with manual strangulation. DiMaio testified Adria received some of her injuries while standing up. Adria received her head injuries while lying flat. The injuries to Adria’s head were due to blows from the front. These injuries were inconsistent with a fall. Adria’s head injuries were consistent with Adria lying on the ground with somebody standing over her striking her. DiMaio testified the large rock could have delivered the injuries to Adria’s head. Based on the injuries to Adria’s head, DiMaio testified Adria would had to have been struck with the rock two or three times. DiMaio testified Adria died from blunt force trauma injuries to the head. DiMaio could not say for certain that the rock caused the injuries. He testified Adria was beaten about the face with a blunt object or more than one object which could have been the rock or something else. On cross-examination, DiMaio testified that one blow from the rock could have caused Adria’s death. DiMaio also testified about bite marks he found on Adria’s left cheek, the right side of her neck and the left side of her chest. Another witness compared the bite marks on Adria’s chest and neck with dental impressions of Leal’s teeth. They matched. The State’s indictment charged that Leal killed Sauceda while in the course of and attempting either to kidnap her or to commit aggravated sexual assault. Leal was convicted and, after a separate punishment phase, sentenced to death.

Nice work, SNAP.

The Law Professor:

Meanwhile, in the courts, the whitewashing of Adria Sauceda’s murder continues, cradled in the hands of experts trained in such ugly arts.

Humberto Leal’s defense attorney, Sandra L. Babcock, of the terrorist-sheltering law school at Northwestern University, has an interesting vitae.  Ms. Babcock’s research interest is imposing international law on the American justice system, a hobby she practices with her colleague, terrorist-cum-law-professor Bernadine Dohrn.  In 2008, Babcock and Dohrn worked “tirelessly” together to get Chicago’s city council to pass a resolution signing on to the U.N. Convention for the Rights of the Child.  Of course, such things always sound nice.

In 2003, along with the A.C.L.U., The Jimmy Carter Center, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the Open Society Institute, Sandra Babcock, Bernadine Dorhn, and Van Jones (he’s listed as “invited”) participated in an A.C.L.U. sponsored conference called Human Rights at Home: International Law in U.S. Courts (program here). The purpose of the conference was to find ways to insinuate international (read: United Nations) laws and resolutions in American legal arenas, as Sandra Babcock is attempting to do to free her client, Humberto Leal.  From the conference program:

The conference will familiarize lawyers and advocates with international human rights treaties, laws and organizing strategies that can strengthen domestic social justice work by:
* Ensuring U.S. accountability for violating international human rights principles in additional to domestic constitutional ones
* Providing new, affirmative protections for workers, poor people, immigrants, and victims of discrimination
* Linking multiple issues to address problems that intersect race, gender, and poverty
* Connecting local advocacy to global struggles

As per her academic research and this movement, Babcock is now claiming that the police failed to inform Leal of his right to Mexican consular support when he was arrested.  Allegedly, this failure violated the rules of the International Court of Justice at the Hague: Leal, as a “Mexican national,” should have simply been able to call “his” embassy and the entire mess — the body, the rock, the stick, the bloody clothes, et. al. could be whisked away like some New Guinean ambassador’s parking tickets.

But there’s one little problem: Humberto Leal has lived in the United States, apparently illegally, since he was two.  Talk about wanting it both ways: Leal was an American until the moment he murdered Adria Sauceda.  That changed in the brief space between bashing in a young girl’s head and wiping down the doors of his car.  Now he’s a “Mexican national,” a term everyone from the President to the New York Times to “human rights” organizations (Leal’s rights, not Sauceda’s) is using with no irony and no explanation, as they lobby to cloak a killer in layers of special privileges while simultaneously lobbying to prevent police from inquiring about immigration status.

Get it?  The police will have to determine if someone is a foreign citizen in order to offer them consular rights, but they’ll also be forbidden to ask if someone is a foreign citizen in the interest of not discriminating against illegal immigrants, a lovely Catch 22 dreamed up by academics.  This cliff we’re careening towards is permanent demotion of Americans’ legal rights on their own soil.  If President Obama, his friend Bernadine Dohrn, and Jimmy Carter get their way, the police are going to find their hands tied in ten different ways, and our criminal justice system will soon be utterly subservient to whatever the hell they dream up at the U.N.

Expect more Humberto Leals.

Why isn’t the president of Mexico (or, say, America) calling for justice for Adria Sauceda?  Is that so difficult to conceive?

In an excellent article in American Thinker, David Paulin writes:

In Mexico, ordinary citizens can expect little from their country’s criminal justice system; it’s not a place where they can count on receiving justice.  So it is surprising that Mexicans on death row in the U.S. can expect so much from their government.  Americans, moreover, have always fared badly when caught in Mexico’s criminal justice system; it’s one of the risks of going to Mexico, and international law does not seem to offer additional guarantees of safety to visitors going there.  Yet in this case and others, Mexico presents itself as a paragon of virtue, committed to the lofty ideals of international law that Texas and other U.S. states are ignoring.

In 2004, Mexico sent its top legal talent to the International Court of Justice in The Hague — and complained about 51 of its citizens being on death rows in various U.S. states; none, they complained, had been advised that their government was prepared to offer them top lawyers for their defense.

That Hague court ruled that the U.S. was indeed bound by the treaty — prompting President George W. Bush to ask the states to apply it and review cases involving Mexican citizens awaiting death sentences.  However, Gov. Perry was unimpressed.  He refused to grant a stay-of-execution for Jose Medellin, 33, an illegal immigrant from Mexico found guilty in the 1993 rape-strangulation of two teenage Houston girls, Jennifer Ertman and Elizabeth Peña.  Instead, Medellin was executed, despite having never been informed that Mexico was ready to provide him with a great lawyer.

The President and His Newspaper

In order to really disappear Adria Sauceda, fully and truly, you need more than bunches of law professors and activists: you need the media.  The New York Times does not disappoint.  The Times gawkingly refers to Humberto Leal merely as a “Mexican citizen,” as if he wandered over the border one day and ended up smashing a girl’s head in with a rock, his decades of residency in the U.S. tacitly denied.  As they put it:

Mr. Leal, a Mexican citizen, was not immediately informed of his right, under an international treaty signed by the United States, to seek assistance “without delay” from Mexican consular officials in navigating a confusing foreign legal system.  Such help might have been crucial for someone like Mr. Leal who, his lawyers say, had few resources and a limited understanding of his plight.

Poor guy: maybe he didn’t speak English and got lost looking for directions back to the embassy.

Or, maybe people like Northwestern University Law Professor Sandra Babcock have just gotten so used to lying, of not being challenged by the paper of record that they simply don’t expect to be called on even the most astonishing deceptions.  Babcock’s statement is a cringing embarrassment for the Times and Northwestern Law School (which, as Bernadine Dohrn’s employer, admittedly short circuited their ability to blush decades ago).

But Babcock’s Times quote goes beyond lying.  It is direct, false accusation of everyone involved in the Leal conviction, from the police who arrived at the murderer’s house to the U.S. Court of Appeal for the 5th Circuit, which, David Paulin writes, strongly affirmed Leal’s guilt.

Luckily for Ms. Babcock, her accommodating and incurious pals at the Times do not cite the appeals record.  Nor do they interview anyone who might disagree with her fable of “foreigner” Leal’s Bread-and-Chocolate disorientation with the country where he has lived since he was in diapers.  The word of one academician who grotesquely fibbed her way through two previous paragraphs apparently trumps our entire appellate legal system:

“This was an eminently defendable case, and I don’t think it would have been a capital case if he’d had decent trial counsel” from the start, said Sandra L. Babcock, a Northwestern University law professor representing Mr. Leal on behalf of the Mexican government.

Contrast this with the brief summary of Leal’s appeals compiled by John G. Winder.  Brief, but too long to list here.  Would it be too much for the Times to acknowledge that Leal has had at least 45 different hearings and appeals?

Maybe the Times is just practicing for the time when decisions about American justice are being made in the Netherlands, or 760 United Nations Plaza. In any case, reporter Brian Knowlton blithely allows a passel of activists to insist, one after the other, that Leal’s defense was insufficient, without once mentioning those 45 hearings.

Reading Times articles like this one does have its advantages.  It is amazing, the things you can learn when observing activists in their own natural surroundings.  Mexico’s justice system may be incapable of staunching the flow of blood on their own streets, but they’re spending millions of dollars defending outsourced child rapists and murderers from the vagaries of American jurisprudence:

Early assistance in murder cases also matters, said Noah Feldman [continuing the 'poor Humberto' meme], a Harvard law professor: [sic] Prosecutors know that seeking the death penalty is a long, difficult, expensive process, and they carefully weigh their chances. Knowing that the accused will be well represented could tip the balance away from seeking death, he said.

With that sort of idea in mind, Mexico in 1999 created an ambitious legal assistance program to aid its citizens in capital cases. The program’s director, Gregory Kuykendall, now heads a team of 32 lawyers; in the year ending in May, Mexico spent $3.5 million on the program, according to the Sunlight Foundation, which focuses on government accountability.

Richard Dieter, executive director of the private Death Penalty Information Center, said Mexico’s active legal support had probably contributed to a decline in death penalty cases in Texas. “I think part of it is just better representation,” he said. “Mexico gives advice to other countries about how to do this.”

So if you want to come to America to rape and murder young women, either tomorrow or some time in 2028, it’s best to get Mexican citizenship first.

However, also according to the Times, the U.S. is not far behind Mexico in preparing the ground, as it were, for the future transition to governance by the United Federation of Planets:

The State Department has held hundreds of training sessions across the country to familiarize federal, state and local law-enforcement officials with the Vienna treaty and has issued a 144-page booklet outlining the requirements, with translations in 20 languages, including Creole and Cambodian.

Written, of course, by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the same “private” organization paid a pretty taxpayer dime to decide and then tell us stuff like why it is that some crimes are called hate crimes and some crimes are just bashing in a young girl’s head while raping her with a stick.  It’s not how laws are written and passed by elected legislative bodies, you see.  What really matters is the opinion of experts like law professors, Eric Holder, the IACP, the United Nations, and the Hague.

At the end of this dark, long road to dismantling the American Justice System, there lies — what?  The District Court of the United Nations Human Rights Council?  The fact that President Obama has joined forces with the United Nations to side with Humberto Leal and against our own courts is terrifying. In the wake of the Casey Anthony verdict, it has also gone unnoticed.  Justice for Adria Sauceda and Caylee Anthony?  Not in this America.

Rodney Alcala’s Criminal Appeals: Is Alcala Smart, Or Is The System Stupid?

1 comment

Much is being made about Rodney Alcala’s allegedly superior intelligence. I don’t buy it any more than I buy it when defense attorneys wave a piece of paper in the courtroom and claim their client is mentally challenged and thus deserves a break.  It’s just theater.  Alcala’s a haircut with cheekbones: his IQ, whatever it might be, matters far less than the pro-offender sentiments of the era when he was first tried, and re-tried.

It certainly didn’t take a rocket scientist to play the California criminal justice system for a fool back in the 1970′s.  Unfortunately, in many ways, the same is still true.

Here are ten specific breaks the system gave Alcala, breaks that either enabled him to add to his body count or torment the families of his victims.  Such breaks weren’t reserved for serial killers with MENSA memberships, which is why places like L.A. were so fatal for all sorts of women.

How fatal?  Seven, or fifty, or even 100 women and girls, depending on how much evidence Alcala provides and the police uncover with the massive public appeal for assistance now underway.  Again, I have to ask: why weren’t these pictures distributed to the public decades ago?  Why were families forced to sit in limbo while authorities had hundreds of photos linking a known sadistic rapist and murderer to scores of unidentified women and girls?  I’m sure the police, given adequate resources, would have worked these cases.  But we’ve never given police adequate resources.  We still don’t charge even serious offenders with the totality of their known crimes.

Still it’s a tribute to reformers that some (though not all) of these fatal justice system errors would not occur today.

#1: Judicial Leniency, Indeterminate Sentencing Sets a Killer Free, 1971

Rodney Alcala was 25 in 1968, when he was caught in the act of raping and beating an eight-year old child to death.  That’s a chilling number, 25.  Kidnapping from a public place, the brutality of the rape, the extreme violence — all are hallmarks of an experienced, brazen killer who had escalated his behavior long before that crime.  If Alcala conformed to typical patterns (and there’s no reason to believe he did not), he probably started sexually victimizing girls and women around the time he reached puberty, a full decade before he attacked “Tali S.”  That’s potentially a lot of unnoticed crimes:

His first known attack was in 1968, when he abducted a second-grade girl walking to school in Hollywood, using a pipe to badly bash her head and then raping her — only to be caught red-handed because a Good Samaritan spotted him luring the child and called police. When LAPD officers demanded he open the door of his Hollywood apartment on De Longpre Avenue, Alcala fled out the back. Inside, police found the barely-alive, raped little girl on Alcala’s floor. It took LAPD three years to catch the fugitive Alcala, living under the name John Berger in New Hampshire — where the glib and charming child rapist had been hired, disturbingly, as a counselor at an arts-and-drama camp for teenagers.

Attempted murder, plus kidnapping, plus rape of a child, plus absconding.  Seems like he’d never see the light of day again.  Unfortunately, for future victims at least, pro-offender psychologists and other activists had so infiltrated the criminal justice system in California that the horror of Alcala’s crime was ignored by the courts.  From the moment he appeared in some California judge’s courtroom, he ceased to be a (failed) killer and child rapist.  He became a client and recipient of social services, a victim needing guidance, rehabilitation, “education,” and counseling.  It’s a soul-sickening travesty, one that deserves more exposure:

When Alcala was caught hiding out under the assumed name Berger on the East Coast [in 1971], a conviction for brutally raping a child in California was not a guarantee of a long prison sentence. California’s state government of that era had embraced a philosophy that the state could successfully treat rapists and murderers through education and psychotherapy.  The hallmark of the philosophy was “indeterminate sentencing,” under which judges left open the number of prison years to be served by a violent felon, and parole boards later determined when the offender had been reformed. Rapists and murderers — including Alcala — went free after very short stints. He served a scant 34 months for viciously raping the 8-year-old, who is known in official documents only as “Tali” . . . Deeply controversial, “indeterminate sentencing” was ended by then-governor Jerry Brown. But by that time, Alcala was free. . . . Retired LAPD Detective Steve Hodel, who investigated Alcala’s rape of Tali, recalls, “My impression was that it was his first sex crime, and we got him early — and society is relatively safe now. I had no idea in two years [he would be out] and continue his reign of terror and horror. I expected he was put away and society was safe. … It is such a tragedy that so much more came after that.”

“Education and psychotherapy.”  For raping and trying to kill a little girl.  It is important to understand that these highly educated “experts” were not simply trying to grope towards to some psychological discoveries that would only be discovered later.

Knowledge that murder is bad, for example, pre-dates 1971.

As I’ve written previously, I believe Alcala would have received a more severe sentence if he had just bludgeoned the little girl, instead of raping her and bludgeoning her.  I suspect the rape actually acted as a mitigating factor, turning him into a victim in the eyes of the people empowered to run our courts.  For when a prison psychiatrist found him “considerably improved” and ready for release less than three years after being convicted of attempted murder and child rape, that psychiatrist was undoubtedly referring to the fad psycho-sexual therapies in use at the time — and still being promoted by many academicians and practitioners today.  Like Dr. Richard Rappaport, Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, UCSD Medical School, San Diego, who testified in Alcala’s most recent trial that Alcala should not be held responsible for serial sex murder because he just can’t help enjoying . . . sexual murder.

#2: Parole Board Leniency, 1974

It takes two to tango: a judge who refuses to hold a sick predator responsible for his crime by giving him an indeterminate sentence, and then a parole board that decides the “rehabilitation’s taken.”  Who served on that parole board in 1974, the one that decided to cut Alcala loose?  I’d love to see the transcript.  If anyone would send it to me, I’ll post it.  This wasn’t some gray-area first offense.  I wonder why the media hasn’t sought out these people and asked them why they let Alcala go.  As public servants, the parole board members should feel obliged to revisit such a devastating error.  A year’s worth of such decisions would make interesting reading — and yet one more interesting corrective to mythic beliefs that our country is too harsh on criminals.

#3: Prosecutorial/Judicial Leniency, Not Believing a Victim, Failure to Punish Recidivism, 1974

After the parole board cut him loose, it took Alcala two months to get caught with another child.  Two months.  Or, possibly, less:

In 1974, two months after he got out of state prison, Alcala was found at Bolsa Chica State Beach with a 13-year-old girl who claimed he’d kidnapped her. He was convicted only of violating parole and giving pot to a minor, however . . .

A convicted, violent, child rapist is found with a 13-year old girl who tells police she has been kidnapped.  What happens next?  Somebody doesn’t believe the child.  Who?  The judge?  The prosecutor?

#4: Parole Leniency, 1977

Alcala served another short sentence, and was apparently declared “re-reformed.”  Then a parole officer cut him some breaks.  It makes you wonder: was there anyone, anywhere in California’s criminal justice system, outside police themselves, who harbored a negative attitude towards violent offenders?

[T]wo years later, upon his second release from prison, the law went easy on Alcala again. His parole officer in Los Angeles permitted Alcala, though a registered child rapist and known flight risk, to jaunt off to New York City to visit relatives. NYPD cold-case investigators now believe that one week after arriving in Manhattan, Alcala killed the Ciro’s nightclub heiress Ellen Hover, burying her on the vast Rockefeller Estate in ritzy Westchester County.Orange County Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy, who hopes during the current trial to put Alcala permanently on death row for Samsoe’s 1979 murder and the slayings of four women in the Los Angeles area, says: “The ’70s in California was insane as far as treatment of sexual predators. Rodney Alcala is a poster boy for this. It is a total comedy of outrageous stupidity.”

#5:  Social Leniency, 1977 – 1979: The Polanski Effect

It really does take a village.  Between the time Rodney Alcala was released from prison on his second child offense charge, and when he was captured after the murder of 12-year old Robin Samsoe, it seems that nobody he encountered (outside the police) felt it was right to judge him for — oh, little transgressions like trying to murder a young child he was raping, or being a suspect in several other murders, or being investigated in the Hillside strangler cases, or ending up on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list.  Surely, FBI agents and other detectives approached Alcala’s co-workers and employers when he was being investigated for these crimes; surely his family and friends and professional acquaintances knew about the rape and beating of the 8-year old child.

So why did the L.A. Times choose to hire him anyway?  Why didn’t his supervisors there act on the knowledge that he was circulating his home-made child porn to co-workers?  Why did the Dating Game producers allow a child-rapist on their show?  Why did Alcala have such success in high-end social circles, in the art world, and with celebrities such as Roman Polanski?  Well, that one’s pretty easy to answer.

Was Alcala’s social success, in fact, based on his status as a “sexual outlaw,” being “persecuted by the pigs”?  Such was the argot in newsrooms and art circles, after all.  Funny how all the people who knew him then are so tight-lipped now: it sounds as if he really got around, between slaughtering young women:

1977  Ellen Hover, Jill Barcomb (18), Georgia Wixted (27)

1978  Charlotte Lamb (32), Monique H. (15), Jill Parenteau (21).  And more to come.

#6: Yet More Judicial Leniency, and Help From Mom, 1979

Another kidnapping and rape, another lost chance to get Alcala behind bars.  The police catch ‘em and the courts let ‘em go, leaving two more girls dead.  This type of behavior from the bench, sadly, continues today:

Alcala’s alleged reign of terror might have been halted in early 1979, when a 15-year-old hitchhiker called police from a motel in Riverside County to report she had just escaped from a kidnapper and rapist. Although Riverside police quickly charged Alcala with kidnapping and rape, a judge set his bail at just $10,000, paid by his mother. While free, police say, Alcala killed 21-year-old computer keypunch operator [Jill] Parenteau five months later in her Burbank apartment. The killer cut himself climbing through her window, and prosecutors now say Alcala’s rare blood type has been matched to the blood remnants.  Six days after Parenteau’s slaying, Robin Samsoe disappeared, a child-snatching that sent fear rippling through safe, quiet Southern California communities. Samsoe’s friend Bridget told police the two swimsuit-clad girls were approached that day by a photographer who asked if he could take their pictures. The man was scared off by a suspicious neighbor, but shortly after that, Bridget lent Samsoe her yellow bicycle so that Samsoe could make it to ballet class. Samsoe was never seen again.  Detectives circulated a sketch of the mysterious photographer to the media, and a parole officer recognized his parolee Alcala. Twelve days after she vanished, on July 2, 1979, Samsoe’s skeletal remains were found by U.S. Forestry Service rangers. Alcala was arrested on July 24 at his mother’s house in Monterey Park.

#7:  Criminal Appeals, 1984

Alcala was found guilty of murdering Robin Samsoe in 1980 and was sentenced to death.  But that verdict was overturned in 1984 by the California Supreme Court.  The court found that the jury had been “unduly prejudiced” when prosecutors introduced information about about the rape and attempted murder of the 8-year old child in 1968.

Evidence of prior crimes is sometimes admissible at certain times, so long as the priors are materially similar to to crime being tried.  For instance, is raping and trying to murder an 8-year old girl at all similar to raping and murdering a 12-year old girl?  There’s a four-year difference in the ages of the victims there, and a higher success component on the whole “murder” thing.  I’m sure, however, that the California Supreme Court could not have overturned Alcala’s death sentence on such a frivolous distinction.  It must have been some other frivolous distinction.

#8: Criminal Appeals, 2001

This time, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals got a piece of the action.  They decided that, because one witness’ testimony from a previous trial was read from the stand without the witness being in the room, the entire second trial, which doubtlessly cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of taxpayer dollars to re-try, simply had to be tossed out because of this.

What’s the matter with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals?  Richard Posner says they’re just too large for their own good, with too many different justices thinking together, and he’s got a well-known large brain that thinks in perfect unison with itself.  Me, with my quotidian little intellect, I think they just never saw a serial killer appeal they couldn’t bleed for, since they don’t have to, like, literally bleed, like the victims.  Not a very elegant argument, I know, but maybe it would pass muster before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

#9: Alcala’s Exclusive Access to the Courts, 1979 – 2010

With his denim pantsuit aesthetic and not-very-bright courtroom performances, Alcala doesn’t really present as a brain trust.  But he doesn’t need to be one.  And defendant can tie up the courts — and further devastate victim’s families — with frivolous lawsuits and endless appeals designed to catch certain activist judges’ eyes:

Alcala has spent his time behind bars penning You, the Jury, a 1994 book in which he claims his innocence and points to a different suspect; suing the California prisons for a slip-and-fall claim and for failing to provide him a low-fat diet; and, according to prosecutors, complaining about a law that required he and other death-row inmates to submit DNA mouth swabs for comparison by police against unsolved crimes. Alcala is still as cocky as ever — bold enough to represent himself in the trial for his life, now unfolding in Orange County. And why not? He has a talent for mining legal technicalities and has repeatedly enjoyed success with appellate judges.

Orange County prosecutor Matt Murphy likens Alcala to a video game villain that keeps coming to life and says that the appellate courts have hit restart on this real-life murderous villain’s rampage through the system. The families of the victims as well as those close to the investigation criticize the decisions as misguided political statements by justices who opposed the death penalty and ignored the facts of the case. For Murphy, who tried the latest Samsoe case, each decision to overturn stripped away more evidence from his arsenal against Alcala. And for Robin Samsoe’s family, the legal setbacks have altered the course of their lives, ripping through like aftershock upon aftershock following a devastating earthquake. . . Samsoe’s mother [Maryanne Connelly] spoke eloquently about the hardships she has endured in the 31 years since her daughter’s murder, waiting for justice that never came. . . Meanwhile, her daughter’s killer has spent most of his life in prison, and has perfected the art of working the system to his advantage, filing lawsuit upon lawsuit when he felt his rights were violated while in custody – such as a civil suit against an investigator who did not respond to a request for discovery within 10 days. In fact, a contempt case against the Orange County Jail is still pending. . . Connelly wonders where her rights were, while the man who killed her daughter became comfortably institutionalized. This inequity has become the rallying cry of all the victims’ families, as well as victim’s rights advocates, who say the system has coddled a vicious killer while failing victims’ loved ones.

If the victims’ families had the same rights as Alcala, they could sue him for mental cruelty.  Where such a trial could be held is a difficult question, because his co-defendant would be the justice system itself.

#10: Turning the Courtroom into His Last Killing Field, 2010, and Beyond

“He was blowing kisses at me across the courtroom, and I thought I was going to lose my mind,” Connely said. “And I thought I was going to go crazy, you know. And I reached into my purse and I was going to grab it, you know, and I thought, ‘I can’t do this.’”

That’s Marianne Connelly, speaking recently about Alcala’s 1980 trial for the murder of her daughter: back then, she once brought a gun to the courtroom to shoot Alcala.  I doubt anyone would have blamed her then, and they certainly wouldn’t blame her now, after thirty more years of sitting in courtrooms watching Alcala toy with her, and other victims, for fun.

Where was the judge while Alcala was blowing kisses at his victim’s mother?  Did that judge feel his hands were tied, thanks to our perverse appeals system?  Or did he simply not care?  Why did he allow the defendant to behave that way?

This unique, public humiliation and torture of crime victims is one thing that has not changed in 30 years.  From the most recent trial:

Robin’s brother Tim Samsoe, 44, said the worst thing was watching Alcala perk up in court every time he got the chance to see old photographs of his alleged victims.  “You see the gleam in his eye,” said Samsoe. “He’s enjoying this again.”

According to prosecutors, Alcala always enjoyed torturing his victims:

[Orange County Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt] Murphy told the packed courtroom that Alcala took his time terrorizing his victims by choking them with his bare hands, waiting for them to wake up at least once, then strangling them again — sometimes using shoelaces or panty hose. “It is a staggeringly horrific way to die,” exclaimed Murphy. “There is ample evidence the women put up some resistance….He gets off on it. It was fun.”  Once they were dead, Alcala allegedly [he has since been found guilty] would then pose their bodies.

Now the only victims he has access to are the relatives of the women and children he killed:

Robert Samsoe, who was 13 when his little sister was slain, tells L.A. Weekly, “I don’t have any faith in the system. Some people, they are just afforded all the chances in the world. Alcala has cost the state of California more than any other person because of his lawsuits. And they treat him like a king. Everybody is walking on pins and needles around him.

Alcala dragged out his latest trial for weeks, representing himself, attacking victims, rambling on and enjoying himself.  If this judge felt he simply had no power to prevent such behavior, he should now take steps to do something about the warped system of which he is a part.  When is enough enough?

At the trial’s close, Alcala forced family members to listen to a recording of Alice’s Restaurant, a move that nearly drove one columnist to violence.  Frank Mickadeit, of the OC Register, wondered how family members could hold themselves back:

To make the family and jurors listen to somebody, even Guthrie, sing: “I wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and guts and veins in my teeth”? I guarantee you, that made nobody in the room think about how horrible Alcala’s death might be, as was apparently his intent. . . In all the years I’ve covered trials, I’ve never once wanted to personally wreak vengeance on a defendant. I can dissociate along with the hardest of professionals. But at Minute 50 on Tuesday, Murphy got me to go to that unprofessional place, where the father, brother and uncle lives.  I think it might have been one young woman’s morgue-photo – a head that was missing a third of its face because Alcala had bashed it away with a rock.  I stared hard at the back of Alcala’s tan sports coat, where the collar met the unruly mass of gray curls that cascades down his back (Arlo-like, if you must know), and I thought hard about that 15 feet between me and that thin neck. A cat-like leap, a bound, a forearm-lock, a snap – he’d never see me coming. The burly deputy sheriff between us would, though, so there was no chance even if I had indulged my momentary fantasy.  I looked to my left. Immediately across the aisle from me was Robert Samsoe, Robin‘s brother – roughly my age and size. He was wearing jeans, penny loafers and white socks, and I could see his right foot tapping nervously during these last 10 minutes of Murphy’s closing. The photo of another victim, her lower lip torn away, flashed up. Murphy hadn’t even begun recounting Robin’s death yet. . . Mercifully, there are no morgue photos of Robin, at least not in the sense that there are of the other murder victims. When they found Robin, just a skull was left – albeit a disfigured one from where Alcala had bashed in her teeth.  Robert Samsoe didn’t leap out of his chair and break Rodney Alcala’s neck, as part of me would have like to have seen.

Of course he didn’t.  The victims figured out long ago that they are not actually people, with human rights, including the right to dignity, in the eyes of the law.  The only person in that courtroom whose rights were being protected was Rodney Alcala.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Criminal Appeals: Why Was Serial Rapist Ali Reza Nejad Out on Bond?

no comments

The good news: U.S. Marshals in Houston caught violent serial rapist Ali Reza Nejad after he slipped off his ankle monitor and fled Georgia upon hearing that the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously reaffirmed his conviction and 35-year sentence last week.

Nejad, Before and After Dye Job

The bad news? Violent serial rapist Ali Reza Nejad was allowed to stroll out of prison after being convicted of two rapes, while his case worked its way through the ridiculous and expensive appeals process in Georgia’s horribly overburdened courts.

More bad news? We all paid for Nejad to play Georgia’s horribly overburdened court system from the comfort of his own home.  Then we paid to track him down again after he fled.  Why on earth didn’t anybody in a position of authority bother to think through the potential effect of the Supreme Court’s negative ruling on this crazy serial rapists’ state of mind and go pick him up, or at least put him under constant surveillance, before he found out that he was heading back to prison for the rest of his adult life?

And why was he allowed out of prison to await appeal on frivolous grounds, anyway?  All rapists are dangerous criminals, but this guy qualifies as central-casting-woman-loathing-sexual-sadist-armed-with-a-gun-escalating-and-stalking-prostitutes-dangerous.

~~~

Criminal Appeals

Nejad appealed his conviction on two grounds: the perennial ineffectual counsel claim, and his lawyer’s insistence that there is some gray area in defining a gun as a deadly weapon.  None of this was about whether Nejad did, indeed, pull guns on women and rape them: it’s just meaningless technicalities piled one on top of another until the courts can’t function or somebody slips up and lets a serial rapist like this back onto the streets.

(I can’t link directly to the pdf files for the Georgia Appeals Court decision that led to Najad being wrongfully released or the Georgia Supreme Court decision that reversed the overturning of his trial verdict and sent him back to prison, but you can access the pdf files by typing Najad v. State.)

As to the first claim, famous-defense-attorney-type Brian Steel, who has been practicing criminal law in the courts and on front pages in Georgia for a very long time, insisted that he had both completely and repeatedly lost the capacity to function as even an ordinary lawyer, let alone a really famous one, throughout the entire trial.

An Appeals Court judge devastatingly called Steel out on this fiction and expressed concern that what the lawyer might be trying to do was perpetrate fraud.  It’s worth reading this and pondering the court’s suggestion that defense attorneys are knowingly front-loading their representation of clients with errors in order to get them off later, when there’s no other expectation of acquittal.  Ugly stuff:

SMITH, Presiding Judge, concurring specially.
I concur fully in the majority opinion, but write separately to point out an area
of increasing concern in claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. Trial counsel’s
testimony in this case demonstrates a worrisome trend with serious implications for
the bar
and the administration of justice.
Taking the record on appeal at face value, we are presented with several
possible and equally questionable explanations for trial counsel’s testimony at the
hearing on the motion for new trial. Trial counsel may, despite his many years of
experience, simply have been unaware of the well-established rule of law governing
a defendant’s right to testify. Or he may have in fact so instructed his client in order
to provide a ready-made reversible error on appeal in the event of a conviction. Or
he may have testified untruthfully at the hearing on the motion for new trial in order
to provide his former client with a basis for reversal of his conviction.
None of these possibilities, which are by no means exhaustive, reflects well
upon trial counsel. Whether he is so incompetent as to call into question his ability to continue in this area of practice, or whether he has conducted himself in such a manner as to perpetrate a fraud upon the court, is not for us to say.
But we view any of these possibilities with alarm. The trial court was similarly concerned, asking trial counsel, “Don’t you think you have some responsibility to the system?”  Typically, trial counsel in such situations testify primarily to the factual details of their conduct and decisions, and admit errors only with reluctance and with due regard for their professionalism and pride in their work. The developing trend of emphatically and even eagerly testifying to one’s own incompetence or misconduct is dangerous to the administration of justice, particularly if it is allowed to continue without any consequences for the testifying trial counsel.

There are no consequences, no matter what the defense bar does, or lies about doing.  That’s why we have so many rapists and murderers walking the streets.  Beginning, middle, and end.  We’re all at their mercy, in a system they have been jerry-rigging for half a century.

The Georgia Supreme Court, in an unanimous decision, reversed the appeals court on the determination of incompetent counsel.  They observed that nobody has a positive duty to continually inform a defendant that he may, in fact, testify.

They also reversed the appeals court’s ruling that the jury should have been asked to decide whether holding a pellet gun to someone’s head is assault with a deadly weapon.  It’s extremely settled law that wielding a gun, even a pellet gun, that way is assault per se with a deadly weapon.  I’m surprised that appeals court agreed with Nejad’s lawyer on this matter.  Here is the Supreme Court:

During the jury instructions concerning the two counts charging Nejad
with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, the trial court informed the jury
that the crime is committed when the accused, with a deadly weapon, places
another person in reasonable apprehension of immediately receiving a violent
injury.
The trial court then told the jury that “A pellet gun in the shape of an
automatic weapon is per se a deadly weapon.” The Court of Appeals ruled it
was error to give the “per se” charge, reasoning that a pellet gun is not a per se
deadly weapon and it was for the jury to resolve whether the manner and means
by which it was used made it a deadly weapon. Nejad v. State, supra, 296 Ga.
App. 163 (2).  A firearm is a deadly weapon as a matter of law. Wyman v. State, 278 Ga.
339 (4) (602 SE2d 619) (2004). A firearm pointed at a victim and reasonably
appearing to the assault victim to be loaded is a deadly weapon as a matter of
law, regardless of whether it is loaded and, under such a circumstance, the trial
court does not err when it takes the issue of “deadliness” from the jury.

So there you have it. Ali Nejad picks up prostitutes, rapes them at gunpoint, and does the same to so many women that word gets around on the streets.  The police catch him, being excruciatingly cautious to protect his rights in the process; the courts try him, being excruciatingly cautious to protect his rights in the process; the case is decided by jurors being excruciatingly cautious to protect his rights in the process — and then the moment he is convicted, the free-for-all game-playing begins.

From the moment jurors return a guilty verdict, everything’s perpetually up for grabs, at our expense.  As the manipulations by the defense bar grow more and more extreme, judges and prosecutors can only protest impotently.  We’ve designed a system in which defense attorneys can say anything, do anything, cost the rest of us anything, intentionally throw a trial, intentionally bankrupt the courts — but they cannot be held responsible for this conduct.

I predict that the only people who will be blamed for the Nejad debacle are the people who would have kept him in prison in the first place: the officers tasked with monitoring him after a judge let him go free to await the outcome of the appeals process.  They don’t deserve any blame.  They caught Nejad, twice now.  It’s the rest of the system that has failed to keep the public safe.


Update on Marcus Wellons, and the Eternal Appeals Machine

no comments

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?

Marcus Wellons’ Criminal Appeals

4 comments

Most people, even those generally opposed to incarceration, would agree that raping and killing the 15-year old girl who lives next door is the type of crime that ought to land a perpetrator behind bars for life.  Add to that crime the complications of torture, and a demonstrable lack of remorse, and the best outcome would seem to be literal banishment from the public mind.

But Marcus Wellons was all over the news this week.  The killer is “elated” that the Supreme Court agreed with him that the behavior of jurors after the trial merits even more scrutiny — that is, scrutiny yet again, for Wellons has levied accusations against them many times in the past, and other courts already rejected those other claims.

This time, Wellons, sinking what could easily be be his hundreth quarter into the one-armed bandit of capital appeals, has hit a little jackpot.  The victim is still dead.  She has been dead for 20 years.  Nobody doubts that it was Wellons who raped and killed her.  None of this is about the crime itself: none of those nine judges sitting on the highest court spent one moment considering the rape and murder of India Roberts.  Her death is besides the point.

It is the process that is obscene.

~~~

So the jurors, who were dragged from their ordinary lives to perform the task of judging Wellons’ heinous crimes seventeen years ago, will now be dragged from their lives and scrutinized once again.  A majority in the Supreme Court agreed that (extremely tasteless) gag gifts given by the jurors to the judge after the trial and sentencing concluded somehow derailed the “dignity and respect” of the judicial process to such a degree that action must be taken.

Since the Supreme Court has now placed itself in the business of micromanaging the free speech of former jurors, it’s worth asking: how dignified is the judicial process, anyway?

Where is the dignity in a system that allows the defense to block and withhold evidence, treating jurors like children, ostensibly because they can’t be trusted to evaluate the quality of evidence on their own?  What is so “respectful” about a system in which a dead victim and the entire matter of innocence or guilt may be reduced to a footnote throughout a mind-bogglingly expensive, twenty-year rehashing of minutiae from the trial?

~~~

The post-trial candy controversy is only the latest of Wellons’ appeals.  I encourage you to read through this 1995 disposition of other appeals.  It includes 37 separate claims.  None have anything much to do with the rape and murder, except to dispute that Wellons tortured his victim in the act of raping and strangling her.  Several of the arguments for overturning Wellons’ sentence are based merely on words used by the prosecutor to describe the victim.  Wellons appealed on the grounds that the prosecutor referred to his dead victim as a “little girl.”  He also objected to the act of mentioning of the victim’s lost life opportunities; to the prosecutor saying that the young woman did not deserve to die, and to stating the victim’s age in court.

Again, what, precisely, is “dignified and respectful” about a system that permits a convicted murderer to spend taxpayer dollars to object to someone saying his victim didn’t deserve to die?

Here are a few more of Wellons’ failed, taxpayer-subsidized appeals:

  • Objection to the state cross-examining character witnesses Wellons placed on the stand.
  • Objection to presenting evidence seized at the scene of the crime, though probable cause was established, and the actual tenant of the apartment gave police written and verbal permission to search it.
  • Objection to permitting the trial court to let jurors see a videotape of the crime scene.

And so on.  See a lengthy description of the crime and the appeal court’s findings here.

~~~

For the past twenty years, Marcus Wellons has apparently not deviated from his belief that he is the victim of an unfair system that should have “understood” him, not punished him.  He expresses these beliefs in his writing and in the singles ads he places with a ministry group that posts such ads on the internet.

“Be a good listener,” In His Grip Ministry counsels potential prisoner pen-pals, “keep confidential what you are told . . . be prepared for romantic overtures.”  Also, “don’t ask why an inmate is incarcerated” or “send photos except for group photos,” the latter, presumably, because some of the people you meet when you start sending mash notes to murderers might not be as taken with the spirit as IHGM might wish.

And may be released again.

Here is Wellons’ IHMG ad:

Favorite Verse:  Isaiah 40:28-29, 31

I am Marcus Wellons, 50 years old (at this writing) a Christian.  I love to read the Bible, history, & autobiographies.  I’m very open and honest, sincere, loyal and a good listener.  I studied business administration and counseling in college and graduate school.  I have a 26 year old daughter, Tynecia.  We are very close.  I have been blessed with a ministry inside called “Life Row Ministries.”  I like helping and serving others.  I’m from Miami, FL where I grew up.  Then I spent 3 years in the military – two of those years were in Germany.  I am bi-lingual in Spanish.  I love literature.  Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky are two favorites.  I love sports, to exercise, and to meet new friends.  If you are interested in sharing life’s experiences and supporting each other through  good and bad times, please contact me.

In another ad, by another ministry called Lamp of Hope, Wellons describes his crime only as his “first time in prison.”  “I can assure you I’ll be just as much a blessing to your life as you can be to mine,” he writes.  There is nothing illegal about trolling for extremely disturbed women on the internet, of course.  Lamp of Hope claims to be in the business of “supporting victims’ families by promoting healing and reconciliation.”  They also offer hot chats about sunsets and kittens with men who raped and murdered multiple victims, if that’s your thing.

Interestingly, Wells claims to be concerned for the victims of other offenders, just not his own.  His own victim, apparently, is far too valuable to his efforts to be removed from death row to dignify her with some of his cell block-renowned empathy:

I forgo all table games, yard call, and frivolous conversations such as joking, playing, and laughing. My conversations are more of a serious nature. I send back all my food trays instead of giving them away to comrades. When the officers ask why, I politely remind them, “I don’t eat on execution days.”  I explain respectfully that when their comrades pass on, they observe it by attending the funeral and wearing black tapes on their badges. Since I can’t attend the funeral of those who were executed, this is my way of showing respect.  I spend the time praying not only for my comrade, but also for the victim’s family and friends and the powers that be. The reason I observe executions in this way is that I’m grieving. . .

Extraordinary, isn’t it? The highest court in the land sat around last week trying to decide if a convicted rapist and murderer should get another chance at freedom because innocent jurors made a tasteless joke two decades ago.  Meanwhile, the killer is permitted to impugn the innocence of his victim in order to try to get free, and we have to pay for the lawyers to argue such a heinous untruth and the judges to hear it in a court of law.

Remember, Marcus Wellons is a Murderer. You Are Paying for his Latest Appeal. And That’s Not Funny.

1 comment

A slim majority of the Supreme Court has granted convicted rapist and murderer Marcus Wellons another chance to keep appealing his case.  Because the appeal is based on a bizarrely distasteful incident, it has attracted media attention.

Whereas a run-of-the-mill appeal by someone who merely tortured, raped and murdered a high school girl wouldn’t merit any attention at all:

Something strange happened during the 1993 murder trial of Marcus Wellons. Outwardly, the Supreme Court observed Tuesday, the trial “looked typical.” But “there were unusual events going on behind the scenes.”  For example: The Georgia judge in the case spoke outside court to jurors who had gathered at a local restaurant.  And after Wellons was convicted and sentenced to die, jurors presented the female judge with a gift of “chocolate shaped as male genitalia,” as the Supreme Court recounted it.  If that were not enough, they gave the bailiff a chocolate gift “shaped as female breasts.”

Justice Samuel Alito, dissenting from the majority opinion to send the case back to a lower court to be reconsidered, called the jurors’ gifts “troubling,” “strange and tasteless.”  On that, anyone could agree.  Why would jurors do such a thing?

Though it hasn’t been widely reported, Wellons’ attorney is actually arguing that the gag gifts are “evidence of the jury’s racial bias” against Wellons.  In other words, she is saying that the chocolate genitalia represents Wellons.  So what do the chocolate breasts represent?  The 15-year old victim?  Would jurors be that racist?  That callous towards a dead young girl?

Or were they, perhaps, merely blowing off steam after a long trial and sentencing?  Remember, the jurors had just been subjected to horrifying evidence of cruelty, endless legal posturing (while their lives were put on hold for weeks or months), and then the netherworld of post-conviction testimony, in which a parade of character witnesses and hacks for hire wax poetic on the defendant’s qualities, spinning fairy tales out of pig’s ears.

I don’t wish to excuse the jurors’ extremely bad taste, but could anyone emerge from such an experience without getting a bit punch-drunk?  Could a civilian witness the clown-car pile-up of criminal procedure and walk away feeling merely refreshed?

Well, that hardly matters now.  File it in the same trash-bin that holds the facts of the actual crime, and the defendant’s actual guilt, which nobody is questioning: Marcus Wellons has been appealing the minutiae of this case for twenty years now on your dime, and he’s going to continue doing the same, also on your dime, for the next five, or ten, or twenty years, as his violent actions and his victim’s life both fade from memory.

And that is the really distasteful joke.

Tomorrow: Lack of Remorse, Parade of Appeals

Criminal Apologetics and Bizarre Technicalities in St. Pete: Blaming Cops for Criminal Acts

2 comments

I didn’t have to look far to find today’s dreadful example of the media blaming anyone except criminals for criminal acts.  In the St. Pete Times today, Howard Troxler, a normally reasonable man, wanders far down an ugly path by questioning the recent conviction of a knife-wielding repeat offender on two grounds: the purported reputation of the officer who confronted him, and some trumped-up technicality about types of knives that should be considered weapons.

Troxler apparently feels that police officer Joe Ardolino is permanently tarnished because, in 2003, he was involved in a car chase (of a violent, prolific offender) that ended in the suspect’s death.  Never mind that Ardolino was cleared in the incident, as he should have been: once charged, always guilty, at least when it comes to the police.  Troxler crosses a troubling line when he impugns the officer in the subsequent murder of a fellow officer:

Ardolino was the deputy who made news in 2003 for a chasing a traffic violator through the Lacoochee area of Pasco County until the driver crashed into a palm tree and died. The resulting racial tension contributed, a month later, to the mistaken-revenge murder of Sheriff’s Lt. Bo Harrison.

Joe Ardolino is in no way responsible for the murder of Lt. Bo Harrison.  Ardolino was chasing a suspect; the suspect crashed his car and died; the suspect’s family swarmed the scene, practically started a riot, and accused the police of killing him.  Later, Lt. Harrison was assassinated outside a nightclub.  Calling it a “mistaken revenge murder” is unbelievably inappropriate.  When someone aims a semi-automatic at an officer’s head and pulls the trigger, where does “mistake” enter in, no matter what the defense argues in court?  The killer is responsible for murdering the officer.  Full stop.

After Reed crashed his car, Ardolino tried to revive the suspect while being threatened by a hostile crowd; he was cleared of wrongdoing, and yet, in the eyes of the St. Pete Times, he still must be guilty of something.  Here are some details from the 2003 incident:

[Michael] Reed’s family members said he leaves behind a girlfriend and a 11/2-year-old daughter, Mykeia. Friends said he was quiet and liked to visit Rumors nightclub.

The suspect’s family said he was “quiet.”  His criminal record, of course, tells a different story:

Records from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement show Reed was arrested at least eight times since 1994 on charges ranging from vehicle theft to burglary to cocaine possession with intent to sell. In 1996, when he was 17, he was one of two men who took part in the early morning robbery of R & J Foods that left three people hospitalized with gunshot wounds. A judge sentenced him to 41/2 years in prison in connection with the incident.

[And, once again, we have a criminal who might still be alive if a judge had taken seriously an armed robbery that left three people shot.]  Anyway, this is what Ardolino was doing as the suspect’s family threatened him:

The scene of the crash had turned tense as 75 to 100 people yelled threats, profanity, and racial insults at deputies, according to the Sheriff’s Office. . .

Reed had been hurled through the front windshield of his white Chevrolet and was hanging off the car’s hood. His left ankle was hooked on the car’s antenna. Ardolino put a handcuff on Reed’s left hand. After checking Reed for breathing and pulse and finding none, Ardolino began giving Reed chest compressions. After several compressions, Reed began trying to breathe.

Ardolino checked again for a pulse and found one. He unhooked Reed’s leg and laid him on the ground beside the car.

“I then heard Mr. Reed’s breathing become labored,” Ardolino’s report said. “His teeth were tightly clenched together, and he was sucking air through his teeth.”

Ardolino pried Reed’s mouth open and tilted his head so that fluid could drain from his mouth.

“He then continued to breathe while I held his mouth open,” Ardolino wrote.

The crash happened at 6:22 p.m. Ardolino arrived at the scene one minute later, and the chief of Tri-Community Volunteer Fire, Mike Morgan, arrived at 6:27 p.m., according to sheriff’s spokesman Powers.

Ardolino reported that when fire rescue arrived, he briefed an unspecified paramedic on Reed’s condition.

“He took over administering aid,” Ardolino wrote.

This is called a police officer doing his job in the face of extreme danger.  Witnesses said the officer was being intimidated and was outnumbered.  This is called a sacrifice.  Cops are put into dangerous situations all the time; they are forced to deal with dangerous people all of the time; they are investigated and accused and interrogated constantly, and yet they still show up and do their jobs: that’s the curiosity of it.

So, four years later, Ardolino gets called to a dangerous domestic violence scene.  The offender, Steven Miholics, who had already been to prison for child abuse (as I’ve said, you have to do a lot to a child to end up in prison), kicked his way into a house.  He armed himself with a knife.  His terrorized family managed to call the police.  Ardolino showed up and confronted the man, who lunged at him.  Ardolino shot him.  Miholics survived, was prosecuted, and was sentenced to 15 years.  As he should have been.  Now he wants that reduced to a one-year sentence because the knife he was holding was dull, and Troxler thinks he has a point.

Picture the scene of the domestic violence call, the knife, the split-second decision the officer must make.  Here is what Troxler thinks of it:

On appeal, Miholics’ new lawyer raised the issues both of allowing the deputy’s testimony and whether Miholics could have been legally convicted of a “deadly weapon” assault in the first place.  State law had been changed in 2006 to exempt a “blunt-bladed table knife” from the definition of a weapon. For Miholics, this could have meant the difference between a year in jail and 15 years in prison . . . This man Miholics has struck out in every way — his record, his choice to wield a knife and spatula as he met the Pasco deputies, his decision to fire his lawyer at a crucial juncture. I do not think many people will feel sympathy for him. And yet, as I said, these twists are worth noting.

“These twists are worth noting”?  Oh, don’t be shy.  By the lights of newspaper columnists, no offender should ever stop appealing any verdict, no matter the evidence, no matter the cost, no matter the ludicrousness of the grounds, no matter the disruption and danger and suffering of the victim.

Prisons should just be big bingo halls where every offender gets endless bites at the apple until they scamper out the door.

“Twists are worth noting”?  Justice be damned, more like.  Does Troxler believe that a police officer confronting a man with a violent record, at a very chaotic home invasion-domestic violence scene, should pause and say:

“Hey, wait a minute, that might be a blunt-bladed knife.  If I shoot the guy trying to stab me with it, I could get into trouble because some defense attorneys convinced the State of Florida to exclude blunt-bladed knives from the legal category of “deadly weapons.”  So since I can’t quite see from here how sharp that knife is in that crazed aggressor’s hand, I’ll just try to back out of the kitchen without getting killed so I can stay on the safe side with the courts.”

This is what we’re asking of officers, among a thousand other stupid, dangerous things.

Also stupid?  Suggesting that somebody who terrorizes his family, invades a house, and lunges at a cop with a knife should only get one year in prison.

Troxler manages to squeeze an impressive amount of responsibility-deflection into one column:

  • He brings up officially discredited claims against Officer Ardolino from 2003 to question his credibility in the 2007 case, rather than blaming Reed for his own criminal acts back then and the crowd for threatening the officer as he tried to save the offender’s life.
  • He claims that the judge should not have let Miholic represent himself (something Miholic had a right to do, and chose freely), suggesting that Miholic was incapable of bringing the defense that the officer “overreacted” to Miholic’s knife because its blade was dull (Here Troxler chomps at the bit to re-try the case on grounds that don’t even apply because there was no question that the shooting was justified — does no condemnation of police ever satisfy the appetite to condemn police?  Ever?).  Amazing.  And sloppy.
  • He blames the prosecutor and judge for the “deadly weapons” charge, rather than blaming Miholic for lunging at an officer with a knife.
  • He points a finger at Officer Ardolino for Lt. Bo Harrison’s murder, rather than blaming the murderer.  That’s disgraceful.

Quite a list.  Here are the people Troxler doesn’t hold accountable:

  • criminals who shoot people in robberies and flee from police
  • people who wrongfully accuse officers and threaten their safety
  • people who kills cops
  • people who lunge at cops with knives

Detect a pattern?

Tragically, the justice system reinforces this deflection of responsibility every time they permit defendants to make absurd arguments about things like the relative dullness of their knives.  Every cop responding to a call for help has to remember that the courts are stacked against them in this way, and a thousand others.

Imagine a world where, instead of advocating for the release of people like Miholic, Howard Troxler writes columns advocating for the legislature to change that dangerous and wrong-headed “blunt-bladed table knife” law.  No?  I didn’t think so.

That Perception Thing

no comments

The release of the FBI’s semi-annual report on crime has provided Atlanta’s pathologically tone-deaf Mayor and the Chief-of-Police-In-Absentia with another opportunity to shower contempt on every citizen of the city.  What else could inspire the Mayor to repeat the words, “the city is ‘safer now than it has been in decades’,” given her knowledge of public feelings on her attitude?

Apparently, according to City Hall, a slight drop in the still unacceptable high rates of some crime in some areas, a rise in crime rates in other areas, and a sharp rise in property crime rates is cause to break out the bubbly.

How much of this drop in crime in some areas of the city can be attributed to heroic, time-consuming, and expensive efforts by neighborhood groups and individuals?  How much higher (than the 7.6% increase) would the property crime rate climb if people weren’t bankrupting themselves paying for alarm systems, burglar bars, security cameras, guns, and off-duty cops to patrol their neighborhoods?

Should the burden of preventing crime fall so heavily on residents who already pay the city to protect them?

Chief Pennington, bizarrely, has refused to comment on the FBI report.  Does the guy even show up for work anymore?  Why has the City Council caved to demands by the usual activists to re-re-re-investigate city cops in shooting incidents (after the appropriate authorities, and the FBI, the courts, and everybody else already investigated/prosecuted/sentenced the officers involved), but they seem utterly incurious about Pennington’s performance, not to mention grotesquely timid on the subject of denying injured cops their medical benefits?

Can we get one public statement from the Chief in exchange for the latest kangaroo court for cops who put their lives on the line?

Chief of Police is a political gig. Some chiefs manage to rise above the politics — in places other than Atlanta.  The national organization representing police executives is a political organization, too, which explains why the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum comes down on the side of pooh-pooing that Real Clear Politics report ranking Atlanta as the second-most dangerous large city nationwide, by population:

The ranking, compiled by the Web site Real Clear Politics, was derived by dividing the total crimes detailed in the FBI’s report by city population. Atlanta’s per-capita crime rate measured at 16 percent.

“Determining whether a city is safe or not is not as easy as that,” said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, which has representatives from law enforcement agencies nationwide.

“That’s a very simplistic approach.”

All due respect to Wexler, what would be a “less simplistic” way of determining the prevalence of crime?  Criminologists, of course, have many answers to this question.  Unfortunately, their answers involve using very complicated number-crunching, statistic-discombobulating, and hide-the-peanut tomfoolery to achieve one overweening goal:

to deny the problem of crime

What is harder to deny is this:

  • 1.4 million violent crimes,
  • 10 million property crimes,
  • 17,000 murders
  • and nearly 100,000 rapes is a tidal wave of suffering, violence, fear and wasted lives.

The irascible Randall Cobb, one of those community activists who probably clocks ungodly volunteer hours trying to do the job the Mayor and Chief are paid to do, had this to say:

“Franklin and [Atlanta Chief of Police Richard] Pennington have been trying to get us to drink the Kool-Aid for 12 months now,” said Randall Cobb, safety chairman for the Midtown Neighborhood Association. “The biggest thing they’re doing is refusing to take responsibility for crime in this city.”

Amen.

Tomorrow: two crimes I did not report…

A Fall From A Tree, And Then Rape

1 comment

Michael Ledford’s attorneys want the jury to believe that Ledford is not responsible for murder and rape — is not responsible for any of the rapes he committed — because he once fell out of a tree.

If they believe that he is utterly incapable of controlling himself, and that he must rape and kill, then where were they when he was released from prison?  Why didn’t these experts — or rather their peers, somebody from the cohort of prison psychiatrists — make the case that Ledford should have been committed to an institution upon release from prison?  For surely he has not fallen out of another tree since his release: he has not changed.  If he was that dangerous and that crazy a few years ago, why did nobody do anything then?

They did nothing, the prison psychiatrists, the parole officers, the lawyers, because they do not believe in incarceration.  They did nothing, the forensic psychiatrists, because too many of them view their role as freeing people from prison, not keeping them there.

The only time these people hoist themselves out of their own self-righteous fogs of misplaced empathy and acknowledge that their “clientele” are, indeed, dangerous and prone to rape and kill again, is after one of them has been caught raping and killing and thus faces the chair.

Then they admit what they have know all along: the people they force on the rest of us, through a catalog of defense tricks, including the mess they’ve made of determining culpability at sentencing — are very, very dangerous.

I admit I have a difficult time writing about this.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll calm down.  It reminds me too much of the psychiatric passes given to my own rapist, a violent, terrifying, serial predator who, I was told, got time knocked off one sentence for being mentally slow, then somehow miraculously stopped being slow in prison and obtained — of all things — a “psychology degree,” which got more time knocked off his sentence.  Many are the hands that contributed to that release.

Which enabled him to go back to sexually torturing elderly women all the sooner, and if there was any real content to his prison “degree” (which I doubt), it merely provided him with pointers for busking up the horror-show.  Frankly, I didn’t find him slow at all.  I found him methodical and very good at his craft.  I found him impulsive — and details of his prior record bore this out — but also perfectly capable of exercising control.  Crazy?  Sure.  As crazy as he wanted to be.

Then again, I don’t have one of those psychology degrees.

So it is difficult for me to watch a spectacle like the Ledford sentencing without wishing to track down the cawling idiot — a graduate student or a professor, no doubt, in need of a beard trim and some source of self-esteem not connected to identifying with society’s predators — who got all titillated trotting over to the prison and pretending to teach my rapist “psychology,” so he could get out of prison early.

This leaves me wondering what pointers Ledford picked up on his own journey through the system.  What did he learn to say, to position himself as a victim in the eyes of the parole officers and psychiatrists and defense lawyers who helped him minimize his last sentence and avoid re-incarceration while he violated parole repeatedly, all the while gaining confidence that no consequence would accrue because no consequence did accrue.

And then he killed Jennifer Ewing.