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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sheriffs that go bad

One of the most powerful positions in Texas is the county sheriff. I've been doing research for a project I'm working on about corrupt lawmen. Some of the stories are as frightening as anything a Hollywood scriptwriter could dream up.

Norman Hooten was the well liked, respected sheriff of Kinney County (Brackettville)when he was arrested in 1994 at a pit bull fight in Bastrop. When the investigators swooped in, Hooten ran off into the woods in the middle of the night. The next day, he told reporters that he thought he was going to a dog show. He didn't explain why he was advertising fighting pit bulls for sale. He was indicted by the feds on other corruption charges, and famous Texas Ranger Joachim Jackson testified as a character witness. Which supports a theory of mine, that the Rangers generally look out for local law enforcement when they get jammed up.

The same year, Kimble County (Junction) Sheriff Hal Bynum and his wife died in a bizarre case officially classified as a murder-suicide. The sheriff claimed he found his wife's naked body outside the pen where they kept a Rottweiler. She had been bound, tortured, and stabbed to death. Although Bynum was the only suspect, the investigators didn't take him into custody or search the house. The next day his body was found at a remote airstrip used by drug planes, dead from a pointblank shotgun blast to the chest. The case was closed without further investigation. The conclusion was that the sheriff murdered his wife in a jealous rage over her affair with a drug pilot, then killed himself.

People in Kimble County won't talk about it.

I googled "sheriff indicted," and here are just a few of the hits I got:

Feds probe drug task force in south Texas
The police officer sons of two south Texas law enforcement chiefs who made fighting corruption the cornerstones of their careers have been taken into custody on suspicion of waylaying drug caches coming across the border from Mexico.

Federal agents investigating several border departments west and south of McAllen arrested Jonathan Treviño, the son of Lupe Treviño, sheriff of Hidalgo County, and Alexis Espinoza, the son of Rodolfo Espinoza, Hidalgo’s police chief, the McAllen Monitor is reporting.

Former sheriff’s captain indicted for sexual assault
An Erath County grand jury has indicted Terrell Dickerson, a former captain with the Erath County Sheriff’s Office, on charges of sexual assault.
The grand jury met Tuesday morning to hear the case before issuing the indictment, according to Hood County District Attorney Rob Christian, who will serve as the special prosecutor.
Dickerson is accused of sexually assaulting a female co-worker inside a closet at the sheriff's department. He is being represented by Stephenville attorney Shay Isham.

Sheriff arrested on sex charge bonds out of jail
SHELBY Co., Ohio (WDTN) - The Shelby County, Ohio Sheriff was arrested after being indicted Sept. 20 by an Auglaize County grand jury.

Dean Kimpel, 57, was arrested Wednesday morning on a charge of sexual battery. The charge carries a penalty of up to 5 years in prison.

The indictment follows allegations by a former Shelby County Sheriff's Deputy Jodi Van Fossen. Van Fossen claimed that on July 24, 2010 Kimpel sexually assaulted her at her home in Auglaize County.

Former Early County Sheriff's investigator indicted
BLAKELY, Ga. -- A former Early County Sheriff's Investigator and the son of Early County Sheriff Jimmie Murkerson, has been indicted in federal court for extortion and lying to FBI agents in connection to purchase of anabolic steroids, court documents show.

#Jarrod (J.D.) Murkerson was released on a $10,000 bond following an initial court appearance Friday in U.S. District Court in Albany. An arraignment has been set for 10 a.m. Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Tommy Langstaff.

McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Indicted On Sexual Assault Charges
A McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy faces federal charges for committing sexual acts to a child under 12 years old.

Gregory Pyle, 37, was arrested last month, but a grand jury indicted him today at the federal courthouse downtown.

SAPD sergeants indicted in wake of bizarre wreck
A former police sergeant accused of being high on cocaine when he was found wearing just boxers and a T-shirt after his city-owned pickup was wrecked on U.S. 281 has been indicted in connection with the incident.
Former Sgt. Joseph Myers, 52, was one of two sergeants charged with tampering with evidence from the Feb. 2 incident.

Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/SAPD-sergeants-indicted-in-wake-of-bizarre-wreck-4132217.php#ixzz2FazsJ8g2

Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/SAPD-sergeants-indicted-in-wake-of-bizarre-wreck-4132217.php#ixzz2FazU5UfU

Monday, December 17, 2012

101 % Texan - The Kerrville Slave Ranch

I think the only writers who could to do justice to the Kerrville Slave Ranch story would be Flannery O'Connor or William Faulkner.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pictures from Kerrville's Colorful Past - Slave Ranch

I've self-published a long article or short book on Amazon Kindle, titled Texas Grotesque: the Texas Slave Ranch - How a Degenerate Ranching Family Got Away With Murder. I'm working on some more true crime tales from deep in the heart of Texas, and when I have enough material will go the traditional publishing route. Meanwhile . . . .

These are some pictures I found in the Kerr County District Clerk's file on the Slave Ranch trial in 1986. Mr. and Mrs. Walter Wesley Ellebracht, Sr. hosted a wedding in their home for one of his foremen and his bride. Everyone was dressed up for the occasion. Wes, Sr. is the one who looks like one of the Walking Dead zombies. The one who looks like a mini-Buddy Holly is Wes, Junior. The skinny redhead is his wife Joyce.

Except for the old man, you wouldn't suspect from looking at them that they were a bunch of sadistic kidnappers (not the groom and bride, I don't even know who they were -they may well have been victims themselves). There's one of Wes yukking it up pointing a rifle at the bride and groom.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Lone Star Grotesque - the True Story of the Texas Slave Ranch - How a Degenerate Ranching Family Got Away With Murder

I've published a short book on Kindle titled Lone Star Grotesque: The True Story of the Texas Slave Ranch How a Degenerate Ranching Family Got Away With Murder, available for purchase on Amazon
From the jacket:
“You’re digging your own graves,” one of the henchmen said. “We don’t bury them,” Junior said. “We burn them.”
A Texas Trial: Tale of Death and Torture” KERRVILLE, Tex., May 29— Two Texas hill country ranchers and one of their workers are accused of kidnapping, enslaving, and torturing hitchhikers on an isolated 3,500 acre ranch in the scenic cedar-and oak-covered hills near here . . . [T]he trial of Walter Wesley Ellebracht Sr., 55 years old, his son, Walter Wesley Ellebracht Jr., 33, and a former ranch worker, Carlton Robert Caldwell, 21, is turning into a ghoulish glimpse of a dark, remote world that seems like the stuff of a low-budget exploitation film.
New York Times, June 1, 1986
Newspapers as far away as Moscow called it the “Texas Slave Ranch case.” This is the true-life account of how famed trial lawyer Richard “Racehorse” Haynes persuaded a West Texas jury to give his kidnapper/torturer/murderer client probation. Out of a dozen indicted, only two ever saw the inside of a prison.

If you have enough money, and the right lawyers, you can get away with murder.

I've always been fascinated at how the criminal justice system really works, compared to how it's supposed to work. More times than we want to admit, the innocent are punished while the guilty go free. Texas has a rich history of cold blooded killers getting away with murder, ably described by criminal defense attorney Bill Neal in his book, Getting Away With Murder on the Texas Frontier: Notorious Killings and Celebrated Trials. Human life could be cheaper than that of a horse on the frontier. If the defendant was a respectable, local rancher, and the deceased an undesirable, a good lawyer could get just about anyone off. The vestiges of this frontier mentality help explain what happened in the Texas Slave Ranch case, where a family of local ranchers and their henchmen enslaved, tortured, and in at least one instance, killed hitchhikers they picked up on the interstate. Out of a dozen indicted, only three went to trial. The patriarch got probation.

This is the first in a planned series of feature length articles about bizarre criminals in Texas, especially in the Hill Country, which is a target rich environment. Genene Jones, the pediatric nurse was continuing her career as a serial killer of babies at the same time as the evens related in this story. At the same time, the sheriff of next door Kimble County, Hal Bynum, and his wife Connie, were involved in some bizarre activities involving drugs and Rottweilers. In 1985, Bynum claimed he came home to the naked, mutilated body next to the dog pen. Although investigators thought he was the number one suspect, they let him go, only to find his body at a remote airstrip used by smugglers two or three days later. In the Slave Ranch case, a demented family of ranchers, led by Walter Wesley
Ellebracht, Sr.,
a “good Christian” father and grandfather, kidnapped, enslaved and tortured men they picked up hitchhiking on Interstate 10 west of San Antonio. At least one victim died, and his body was burned and the ashes scattered to the winds. Walter's borderline retarded son fancied himself an up and coming country and gospel singer-songwriter. He enjoyed tying women up, shocking them with a cattle prod while his wife watched, and raping them. In a real life nightmare version of the Stanley Milgram experiments and the Stockholm syndrome, many of the men the ranchers employed became willing participants in the torture and abuse of other victims.
When it all unraveled, Walter's 82 year old mother hocked the family ranch to hire Richard “Racehorse” Haynes for a million dollars. After a three month trial, the old man got probation, and Junior got a relatively light sentence of 15 years. They got away with murder.

You can probably see where I came up with the title for this series, Lone Star Grotesque, with a tip of my hat to Sherwood Anderson for Winesburg, Ohio.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Who you gonna call when the zombies come?

The Jan. 2013 issue of Soldier of Fortune magazine has a feature article by former Navy Seal Matt Bracken that should get the bowels of the anti-gun crowd in an uproar. Titled When the Music Stops: How American’s Cities May Explode in Violence - The Surburban Armed Vigilante Response, he describes a nightmare scenario where law and order breaks down, and flash mobs of what he calls Minority Urban Youth go on rampages. Bracken describes some of the ways law abiding people could protect themselves, using tactics that our veterans have learned in Iraq and Afghanistan. For example, the sniper ambush: the new tactic of choice. Teams of snipers would have preplanned ambush sites and escape routes. After shooting enough of the rioters to dissuade their friends to flee, the sniper teams would disappear. Now, Bracken is a novelist, and maybe article is a clever ploy to publicize his books, Enemies Foreign & Domestic, and Castigo Bay. If you think this is fantasy, remember what happened during the Rodney King riots when the Koreans armed with AR’s prevented the looters from burning their shopping centers. I am puzzled by all the movies, tv series, and books about zombies and vampires. The best explanation is probably that people are afraid that society is going to collapse and the police and the government won’t be there to help.

What's Wrong With Williamson County?

Murder charges dismissed against man who spent more than year in Williamson County jail Round Rock — After spending 427 days behind bars, and just one week before his murder trial was scheduled to begin, a former University of Texas basketball player walked out of the Williamson County Jail on Friday when prosecutors dropped a murder charge against him. One of Fairs’ attorneys, Jeremiah Williams, said there were “multiple items of evidence, including DNA and fingerprints, which had yet to undergo forensic testing by law enforcement.” Williams said he discovered that some evidence hadn’t been tested after he made a request for the complete file on Fairs from law enforcement and in July received 4,500 pages, 25 DVDs, reports and photographs. After studying the file he found out there were fingerprints from the scene that didn’t match the fingerprints of Fairs and also blood that hadn’t been identified, Williams said. “During the course of preparing for trial, the

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Government Surveillance of Innocent Citizens; A Local Victory on Fourth Amendment

Did you know that every email you've ever sent or received is stored in government computers? The National Security Agency records them all, using devices called "Naris." NSA has a big complex in San Antonio, one in San Francisco and one on the East Coast to collect all emails. I'm sure they do the same for text messages. If the government ever decides to target you - like it did Gen. Petreaus for not falling on his sword over the Libyan fiasco - they can retrieve all your emails, text messages and so on and crucify you. How do you like the idea of Obama having that kind of power? 'Everyone in US under virtual surveillance' - NSA whistleblower The FBI records the emails of nearly all US citizens, including members of congress, according to NSA whistleblower William Binney. In an interview with RT, he warned that the government can use this information against anyone. Binney, one of the best mathematicians and code breakers in the history of the National Security Agency, resigned in 2001. He claimed he no longer wanted to be associated with alleged violations of the Constitution, such as how the FBI engages in widespread and pervasive surveillance through powerful devices called 'Naris.' This year, Binney received the Callaway award, an annual prize that recognizes those who champion constitutional rights and American values at great risk to their personal or professional lives. On a brighter note, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the conviction of a Kerrville woman for possession of methamphetamine, holding that the deputies violated her Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure. Patrick O'Fiel was her trial lawyer, and Pat MaGuire, both court appointed, did the appeal. Anyone who thinks that court appointed lawyers won't fight for their clients should read the article in today's Kerrville Daily Times. Great work, gentlemen.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Texas Slave Ranch; Modern Day Slave Trade; Madeleine McCann

I'm fascinated by the Texas Slave Ranch case, from the 1980's, where a family of Kerr County ranchers picked up hitchhikers, held them captive and forced them to work as slaves. Walter Wesley Ellebracht, Sr. and his son Junior could have stepped out of the movie Deliverance. The son's wife was just as depraved. They got their kicks beating, shocking, and otherwise tormenting their prisoners. Junior tied at least one woman to a bed and shocked her with a cattle prod while his wife Joyce watched. When it all unravelled, after a three month trial starring Richard Racehorse Haynes, a Kerr Co. jury gave the old man probation, the son 15 years, of which he served less than five, and one of the foreman 15 years. Joyce never went to trial. Two very prominent lawyers were indicted for evidence tampering (they removed evidence from the murder scene before the investigators found them) and their case disappeared from the district clerk's office. One question that I keep asking is how such a thing could happen in modern day Texas. The shocking thing is, human trafficking and slavery is still practiced. As Faulkner said, the past isn't dead; it isn't even past. Here are just two examples: From thd 07/12/12 The Independent, by Manuel Barcia, The slavery happening on our doorsteps is a collective problem The slavery happening on our doorsteps is a collective problem The slavery happening on our doorsteps is a collective problem Back in September 2011 a police raid on a travellers’ site in Bedfordshire uncovered a story that left many of us perplexed. It was revealed that a well-organised operation to turn rough-sleepers into modern-day slaves had been taking place. At the time, and according to the Thames Reach charity, more than 20 eastern and central European immigrants had ran away from similar gangs and contacted them searching for help and shelter. The Bedfordshire gang in particular seems to have run a profitable business. Once the homeless victims were picked up and promised jobs and good money, they were kidnapped – literally – and forced to live a life of servitude, isolated from the rest of the world, separated from their families and friends, thrown into crammed accommodations, and ordered to do hazardous and backbreaking jobs for the rest of their lives. The fact that all this was going on for years under the gaze of Bedfordshire police is difficult to digest, but in all fairness blaming the police would be a very easy route in this case. Bedfordshire residents who hired the services of these men must have come across their enslaved workers repeatedly during this time, and yet, somehow they failed to make enough noise about it to attract the attention of the authorities. Fellow travellers who might have been aware of this situation also failed to come forward and denounce what was going on, although one can guess than fear may have stopped them from doing so. The second piece is an update on the the mystery of a four year old girl who vanished from her parents' hotel room in Portugal while they were at dinner (pretty reckless parenting): New Report Finds Madeleine McCann Could Be Alive—And Living as Someone Else’s Daughter One theory is that the child was sold to a ring of pedophiles operating out of Morroco. And from The Sun: 30 kids lost in Portugal since Maddie went missing For an age progression photo, go to Findmadelaine.com I am not a member of any church or adherent to any organized religion. The one that comes closest to making sense is Zen Buddhism, when stripped to its basics, and it's pretty close to Greek stoicism. Once I got old enough to reason, I couldn't get past the problem the philosophers and theologians call theodicy - if God is all good and all powerful, how can such horrendous things happen to innocent children. I do believe that evil is a real force. And you never know where you'll encounter it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Texas Slave Ranch Case - Getting Away With Murder

I'm putting the finishing touches on a long piece about the Texas Slave Ranch case, with the working title: Lone Star Grotesque: The True Story of the Texas Slave Ranch How a Degenerate Ranching Family Got Away With Murder The case featured some of the most famous criminal defense lawyers in the nation, including Richard "Racehorse" Haynes and Dan Cogdell. This excerpt is from the introduction: Chapter 1 - “Something in the Water” When Joe Davis moved from Austin to Kerrville, he had worked in law enforcement for twenty years. He was one of the youngest state troopers to ever wear the Cinco Peso badge of a Texas Ranger. Davis had fought outlaws from Houston to El Paso, from Amarillo to the Rio Grande. and put away bank robbers, murderers, serial killers, and drug dealers. He was there when a heroin kingpin named Fred Carrasco tried to shoot his way out of the Walls Unit during the deadliest prison riot in Texas history. So, Davis was looking forward to a slower pace in Kerrville, a bucolic town of 20,000 on the banks of the Guadalupe River, in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. It’s Norman Rockwell country, with a population over 70 percent white, Republican, and born again Christian. But, like all towns, it has its shadow side, and Kerrville’s may be darker than most. The Kerrville State Hospital, on a hill overlooking the river, houses some of the most violent, deranged killers in the state. It’s most infamous resident, Andrea Yates, cooked breakfast for her husband and saw him off to work, then calmly and methodically drowned her five children, one by one, in the bathtub. The county has always had an active drug subculture. Two of the original members of the 13th Floor Elevators, the original psychedelic acid rock band, grew up there, and later the whole band hid out from the law on a ranch outside of town. Drug addicts come from all over the country for treatment in the many rehab centers and halfway houses, and stay for the pleasant climate and scenery. There are dealers to supply those who relapse with any drug that can be found in the big city. Still, on the surface, it’s a quiet, peaceful little town, and Davis looked forward to a slower pace when he moved there in 1980. Later, Henry Ligon, the Ranger he replaced, ribbed him that when he left everything was under control, but when Davis took over, the bottom fell out. Davis would later say, when asked why such a beautiful, seemingly normal place had so many bizarre crimes, “There must be something in the water.” He hadn’t even settled into his new office before the Genene Jones case exploded into the national headlines. Jones a pediatric nurse, came from San Antonio to work for the first woman pediatrician in town. The clinic hadn’t been open a week before healthy babies started having life threatening seizures. One of them, a little girl, died after being alone with Jones for a few minutes. Davis and the local district attorney gathered the evidence that resulted in a murder conviction and life sentence. Their investigation revealed that Jones had already murdered scores of babies and young children in the San Antonio charity hospital, before she landed in Kerrville. Davis hadn’t rested up from the Jones trial before he was pulled into another bizarre murder investigation, that would that would be called in newspapers around the world, the Texas Slave Ranch case. By Richard L. Ellison Published by Hill Country Satori, Ltd. 500 Main Street Kerrville, Texas 78028 First Kindle Original Edition, 2012 Copyright 2012 by Richard L. Ellison All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced in any form, in whole or in part (beyond that copying permitted by U.S. Copyright Law, Section 107, “fair use” in teaching or research, Section 108, certain library copying, or in published media by reviewers in limited excerpts), without written permission from the publisher.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wag the Dog, Dr. Strangelove, and the Petreaus Debacle

In his 2004 book The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy and the End of the Republic,Chalmers Johnson warned that the military, CIA and the rest of the national security apparatus were bankrupting the country and stripping away Americans' civil rights, and making us new enemies all over the world. He could have been writing about David Petreaus when he described generals with huge retinues acting like proconsuls and potentates, thinking they are entitled to live like Roman emperors. I feel a little foolish that I believed the hype about Petreaus being a great soldier/scholar and presidential material. Alas, the emperor has no clothes. See, for example, The Petraeus Saga: Epitaph for a Four Star by Col. DOUGLAS MACGREGOR, Ret. His dingbat girlfriend may have let the cat out of the bag that the CIA was running a detention center in Benghazi. The press and the power elite that runs this country created Petreaus as a sort of Wizard of Oz, and when he wouldn't fall on his sword for Obama, they threw him under the bus. If a screen writer wanted to write a farce on the fiasco that is our national security state, how could she do anything that competed with reality? David Petraeus: A US war hero? After a scandalous affair brought him down, we ask how successful the retired general's military strategies have been. William Ward, Four Star General, Demoted For Lavish Spending, Ordered To Repay $82,000 WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has demoted the former head of U.S. Africa Command who was accused of spending thousands of dollars on lavish travel and other unauthorized expenses, a senior U.S. official said Tuesday. Panetta stripped Gen. William "Kip" Ward of a star, which means that he will now retire as a three-star lieutenant general despite arguments from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff against the demotion. Ward also has been ordered to repay the government $82,000. . . . .The spokesman, Chris Garrett, added that, "While General Ward is not perfect he has always been guided by his faith in God and the belief that there is no greater honor as a patriot than to lead those who choose to serve our nation in the armed forces." Retiring as a three-star will cost Ward about $30,000 a year in retirement pay – giving him close to $208,802 a year rather than the $236,650 he would get as a four-star. Jill Kelley, Woman Who Sparked Petraeus Scandal, Ran Questionable Charity WASHINGTON -- Tampa, Fla., socialite and military hostess Jill Kelley, one of the women at the center of the ever-expanding scandal that brought down former CIA Director David Petraeus, founded a questionable charity for cancer patients with her surgeon husband, Scott Kelley. Based out of the couple's mansion, the Doctor Kelley Cancer Foundation claimed on its tax forms that it "shall be operated exclusively to conduct cancer research and to grant wishes to terminally ill adult cancer patients." From the records, it appears that the charity fell far short of its mission. While the origins of the seed money used to start the charity in 2007 are unclear, financial records reviewed by The Huffington Post reveal that the group spent all of its money not on research, but on parties, entertainment, travel and attorney fees. . . . Chicago 'Code Of Silence' Trial Verdict: Court Rules Against City CHICAGO — Chicago police adhere to a code of silence protecting fellow officers, a federal jury ruled Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by a female bartender whose videotaped beating by a drunken off-duty officer went viral online. Jurors awarded $850,000 in damages to the bartender, Karolina Obrycka, who was beaten in February 2007 after she refused to keep serving Anthony Abbate, who was off-duty and admittedly drunk at the time. Surveillance video of the hulking Abbate pushing Obrycka to the ground behind the bar at Jesse's Shortstop Inn, then repeatedly punching and kicking her. Lackland Air Force Base Sex Scandal Report Cites 'Abuse Of Power' Amid Petraeus, Allen Probe A U.S. military shaken by the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus and the investigation of its top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, announced Wednesday that one of the largest sex scandals in its history has widened, enveloping at least eight commanders and nearly 50 possible victims. The Air Force released its report on the scandal at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, where members of the Air Force go through basic training. Investigations of at least 25 military training instructors have led to charges against 11, and have resulted in five convictions, from rape to inappropriate relationships with recruits. Two commanding officers have been removed, and Air Force Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr., commander of Air Education and Training Command, said at a press conference Wednesday that six more have received "disciplinary action." Fox 19 anchor back on the air after suspension for calling Rachel Maddow an 'angry young man' on Facebook Tricia Macke, an Ohio news anchor for Fox 19, was suspended over disparaging comments she made about the MSNBC host on her personal Facebook page. "I am sorry," Macke wrote to one such fan. "I should have said antagonistic." Former ICE Chief Who Fought Child Porn Gets 70 Mos. For Having It WEST PALM BEACH (CBSMiami) – The former chief of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Miami was sentenced Friday afternoon after he pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges. Anthony Mangione, 52, was sentenced to 70 months – just under six years – in prison by U.S. District Judge Kenneth Mara in West Palm Beach.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Crazy Chicago Judge Reelected, Military Perverts, Pakistani Lawyers Gone Wild

Chicago, Chicago !! Cynthia Brim, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Previously Deemed 'Legally Insane,' Reelected A Cook County Circuit Court judge was handily reelected Tuesday a matter of hours before she was due to appear in court for allegedly assaulting a deputy sheriff this spring, an attack her attorney previously blamed on the fact that the judge was "legally insane" at the time. Judge Cynthia Brim appeared in court Wednesday and told the Chicago Tribune she was "just happy the people voted me back in" after her status hearing. Brim, 54, received slightly more than 60 percent of yes votes required for retention in the Tuesday election, according to the Chicago Sun-Times -- despite allegedly pushing a deputy sheriff and throwing keys near a Daley Center security checkpoint in March. One day prior to that attack, she allegedly "launched into a tirade" that lasted 45 minutes during a traffic court call and was forced to leave the courtroom. The new Pakistani ‘gangsters’: Lawyers LAHORE, Pakistan — The young police inspector came to court to present evidence in a beating case. He left with his head and lip bloodied and his uniform torn — assaulted, he said, by a gang of black-suited assailants. The notorious lawyers of Lahore had struck again, police and witnesses said. It was chalked up as yet another episode of violence by lawyers that has become common here in this seat of justice in eastern Pakistan, where cases from throughout Punjab province are heard. In a nation where the rule of law is already fragile on many levels, police officials, judges, litigants and witnesses say they have become increasingly fearful of marauding lawyers in their trademark black pants, coats and ties. “If police officers don’t submit to their pressure, they abuse and beat them,” said Sadaqat Ullah, the 28-year-old police investigator who alleged that a group of lawyers pummeled him in late September because he refused to share a confidential hospital report with an attorney in the original assault case. “They behave like gangsters.” Lawyers make final arguments in Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair's Article 32 hearing Lawyers made their final arguments Thursday in a hearing that could help decide the fate of Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Allen Sinclair. The closing arguments in Sinclair's Article 32 investigation took just under an hour, after four days of testimony at Fort Bragg. The investigating officer, Maj. Gen. Perry Wiggins, will now work on a report that will recommend a next step. Lt. Gen. Daniel Allyn, commander of the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, will then decide whether the case goes before a general court-martial. That's the outcome that prosecutors pushed for after laying out their case against Sinclair, who is the former deputy commanding general for support for the 82nd Airborne Division. Sinclair, 50, faces a litany of charges, including forcible sodomy, wrongful sexual contact, maltreatment of subordinates and fraud. He's accused of having a three-year affair with a captain, forcing her to perform sex acts on two occasions and coercing lower-ranked soldiers to send him nude photos. "Gen. Sinclair has engaged in a deliberate, degrading course of conduct where he targets his subordinates to satisfy his abhorrent desires," said a prosecutor, Lt. Col. William Helixon. 2 soldiers in Texas charged in child porn case SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Two Texas soldiers who once dated are facing child pornography charges in the alleged recorded molestation of a 3-year-old boy. Investigators in San Antonio say Sgt. Wade Allen Perkins and Sgt. Kimberly Epperson have a detention hearing Thursday. Both were arrested Tuesday as part of an investigation involving the military, local officials and the FBI. Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/texas/article/2-soldiers-in-Texas-charged-in-child-porn-case-3977169.php#ixzz2C0yLWZhk

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Did God Send Hurricane Sandy to Help Obama?

Why do religious people think good things come from whatever god they worship but not the bad? Consider: Romney probably would have won if the storm Sandy hadn't hit the Northeast. Liberals like Chris Matthews are praising God for intervening to help Obama. What about the millions still without power and the thousands who lost everything? Here's an ironic story: NY man who lost leg in crucifix mishap sues church NEWBURGH, N.Y. (AP) — A trial has been scheduled for early next year in the lawsuit filed against an upstate New York church by a man whose leg had to be amputated after a 600-pound crucifix fell on him. Attorney Kevin Kitson of White Plains tells The Associated Press that the case of his client, David Jimenez (hih-MAN'-ez ), is scheduled for trial in January in an Orange County court. Kitson says Jimenez prayed to the crucifix outside St. Patrick's Church in Newburgh after his wife was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. When she recovered, he showed his thanks by volunteering to clean the cross. In May 2010, the crucifix fell on him, crushing his right leg. It was later amputated. He's suing the church for $3 million.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

2 top Texas judges on ballot fighting ethics fines Two of Texas’ top judges have been able to put off paying huge ethics fines for more than two years, and neither case stands to be resolved before Election Day when both are on the ballot for new six-year terms. The $100,000 fine in 2010 against Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller, and the $29,000 fine levied against state Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht in 2008 rank among the largest in state history. San Antonio Cops Suspended for Attempted Cover-Up of Drunken Cop, His Wrecked Truck, and the Porn and "Sexual Device" Inside A trio of San Antonio cops have been suspended and several more are under investigation for their roles in the cover-up of a police sergeant's allegedly drunken wreck of a city-owned truck. According to internal police disciplinary documents released to WOAI, the cops also removed alcohol, pornography, and a "sexual device" from the crashed vehicle. Woman fighting to clear name in 1994 sex assault is paroled GATESVILLE — When she hugged her mom, Anna Vasquez knew it was real. She was free. Released on parole Friday after serving 12½ years of a 15-year sentence, Vasquez is one of four San Antonio women fighting to clear their names after they were convicted of sexually assaulting two young girls in a bizarre case that even spurred talk of Satanism. The younger of the two accusers, now 25, has recanted, saying no assault occurred. Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/Woman-fighting-for-exoneration-released-on-parole-4003817.php#ixzz2BAKZEqWs After 13 years in prison, ex-cop may be innocent Child rape conviction sent him to prison in 1999. For the past 13 years, retired San Antonio Police Officer Frank Navarijo, 73, has sat in prison — serving a 20-year sentence after being convicted of repeatedly raping a 5-year-oldfemale relative. Friday, his accuser recanted. For now, Navarijo remains in Bexar County Jail. Teen who made false rape report offered support s community leaders mobilize support for a Yates High School student who admitted she lied about being sexually assaulted last week, Houston police have not ruled out the possibility of criminal charges against the teen.The 15-year-old girl told police that a man abducted her on Noah Street near Cyrill Park on the way home from school, dragged her into an abandoned house and sexually assaulted her. She provided a detailed description of man, as well as other information. Another Maverick County official charged in bribery probe FBI agents arrested a former Maverick County employee Friday, the latest in a string of corruption allegations made by federal authorities against officials in the border county. A grand jury this week indicted Alejandra Garcia, 26, whose job included issuing checks to county contractors, on one count of accepting bribes. Prosecutors allege that she took bribes from multiple contractors to dole out thousands of dollars from Department of Homeland Security Operation Stonegarden grants used for border protection. Liberals let Obama get away with un-American actions The president's deplorable record on privacy and kill lists is an affront to our values. Liberals just shrug it off Let us stipulate, as lawyers like to say, that President Obama has a deplorable record on civil liberties, one that threatens long-term damage to the country’s constitutional culture. Why, then, has his base of support not been eroded decisively? Why have so many on the left fallen silent, after railing against George W. Bush’s rights violations, as Obama has prolonged and codified most of the same practices? And why have so few on the right, riding a groundswell of resentment toward big government, failed to resent the biggest governmental intrusions into personal privacy since the FBI’s domestic spying during the Cold War? State asks feds to probe deadly helicopter shooting BROWNSVILLE - Texas state police on Friday asked federal agents to review the deaths of two Guatemalan immigrants, killed last week when a state trooper on a helicopter opened fire on a smuggling vehicle near La Joya. The Texas Rangers will hand over their investigation to federal agents upon completion, according to Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw. McCraw said he asked the FBI and Justice Department to conduct an independent investigation into the Oct. 25 shooting. The two killed were among a group of nine Guatemalan immigrants in the truck, suspected of being in the country illegally and being smuggled through the Rio Grande Valley. DPS officials said they believed the truck was smuggling drugs and the trooper shot at the vehicle to disable it. Settlement for wrongful imprisonment settles little After six years of fighting, George Rodriguez finally got a promise Friday that he'll get paid by the city that wronged him. But it isn't nearly enough. The 52-year-old was exonerated by DNA evidence in 2004 after serving 17 years behind bars for the 1987 kidnapping and rape of a 14-year-old girl. It was faulty evidence from the Houston Police Department crime lab that put him there.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Very good article on game wardens' right to search: OUTDOORS: MIKE LEGGETT Leggett: Game wardens’ powers shrouded in mystery There’s more than a little mystery and misinformation about Texas game wardens and the legal powers they have. Can they detain you? Can they search you? Your truck? How about your hunting lodge? Listen to stories in the field or around a camp fire, and you might think they can do anything they want. The truth is that almost all of the time game wardens have no magical powers to detain, search and question hunters or anybody else. They have no more right than any other law enforcement officer to stop you on a public road and search your truck or the people in it. They should, the law says, have probable cause to believe that a violation of the law has taken place before they execute a stop, and they should request, and obtain, your permission to search your truck. Otherwise, they need a search warrant. After 13 years in prison, ex-cop may be innocent By Craig Kapitan For the past 13 years, retired San Antonio Police Officer Frank Navarijo, 73, has sat in prison — a convicted child molester serving a 20-year sentence for the repeated rape of a 5-year-oldfemale relative. Friday, his accuser recanted. For now, Navarijo remains in the Bexar County Jail. Appellate attorney Michael Gross also submitted to the court affidavits from three jurors who said the decision to convict Navarijo was a close one. Had the accuser taken the stance she does now, they would have voted for acquittal, each said. THURSDAY, NOV 1, 2012 03:11 PM CDT Ex-Penn State president charged in Sandusky case Graham Spanier was charged Thursday with a "conspiracy of silence" over child sex abuse complaints BY ASSOCIATED PRESS HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Former Penn State President Graham Spanier was charged Thursday with hushing up child sex abuse complaints against Jerry Sandusky, taking the allegations of a “conspiracy of silence” to the highest level of the university and marking another chapter in the dramatic downfall of a once-renowned administrator. Prosecutors also added counts against two of Spanier’s former underlings, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, who were already charged with lying to the grand jury that investigated the former Penn State assistant football coach. “This was not a mistake by these men. This was not an oversight. It was not misjudgment on their part,” said state Attorney General Linda Kelly. “This was a conspiracy of silence by top officials to actively conceal the truth.” Marijuana prohibition hanging by a thread It's only a matter of time before the federal government capitalizes on the multi-billion dollar industry BY DOUG FINE, ALTERNET On the producer/farmer end, sometimes law enforcement budgets are actually dependent on seizing Americans’ property. California U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner unilaterally “awarded” Stanislaus County law enforcers $154,875 following one 2011 raid. Federal law doesn’t even mandate property return if charges are never filed. This is why former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper says, “the drug war’s most serious collateral damage has been to undermine the role of civilian law enforcement in our free society.” Without question, the economic data show that cannabis should immediately be put to work for the American economy. That’s what, in the end, makes it a top-tier-important issue at a time of debt crisis, currency crisis and Middle East dictator crisis: not only are the enforcement billions better spent elsewhere, but revenues from the cannabis plant economy itself will impart billions into our economy every year. Ex-S.A. official goes on trial over $16,000 farewell party By Craig Kapitan When Jeanetta Tinsley's predecessor retired from San Antonio's Office of Grants Monitoring and Administration in 2009, one of the first tasks she took on as new department director was to plan a going-away party. But as the taxpayer-funded soiree grew to include a band, a bartender, valet parking, an ice sculpture and an overall price tag of more than $16,000, her actions went from managerial to criminal, prosecutors said Thursday as testimony began in her felony trial. Tinsley, 43, could face up to two years in a state jail facility if jurors in 399th state District Court find her guilty of misapplication of fiduciary property. Williamson County deputy makes record drug bust on I-35 GEORGETOWN — A Williamson County Sheriff’s deputy seized a record amount of crystal methamphetamine during a routine traffic stop this week, authorities announced Thursday. The deputy found 91 pounds of crystal methamphetamine — the largest such seizure for Williamson County, officials said — wrapped in 30 bundles and also discovered 28 pounds of marijuana wrapped in one large brick in the back seat of a 2006 Chevrolet Tahoe on Wednesday, said Sgt. John Foster, a spokesman for the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office. The driver of the vehicle, Heriberto Madrid, 29, of Laredo, is in federal custody on drug trafficking charges, Foster said. Settlement reached for man falsely imprisoned A Houston man who successfully sued the city of Houston in 2009 after he spent 17 years in prison wrongfully convicted of kidnapping and rape is expected to get the money he is owed, his attorney confirmed Thursday. George Rodriguez, who was freed in 2004 after an appeals court ruled he was convicted on faulty scientific evidence, won a $5 million verdict after showing chronic problems at HPD's long-troubled crime lab. Rodriguez's attorney, Barry Scheck of the New York-based Innocence Project, said the case spawned the report that detailed the systemic failures at the Houston Police Department Crime Lab. "The Rodriguez case was the case that led to the Bromwich report and the cleaning up of the HPD crime lab," Scheck said Thursday. "It's very important to George and his attorneys that nothing like this happen to anyone ever again."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cadillac Ranch Owner Sued for Sexual Assault; Man Loses Eye in Strip Club Melee

Amarillo's 'Cadillac Ranch' owner accused of sexual abuse of young men, boys Amarillo millionaire Stanley Marsh 3 is accused of paying young men thousands of dollars for Viagra-enhanced sexual favors in two recent civil lawsuits filed by a Houston lawyer. Marsh, 74, is perhaps best known as owner of the Cadillac Ranch, an Amarillo field where 10 brightly painted Cadillacs are sticking out of the ground, tail up. . . . Attorney Anthony Buzbee filed the lawsuits Oct. 23 and Monday in Potter County on behalf of anonymous plaintiffs referred to as John Doe and John Doe No. 2. . . . . My first job out of law school was with the Underwood Wilson firm, where Kelly Utsinger is a partner. Very good firm and Kelly's a first class lawyer. Tony Buzbee is a heavy weight. His website cover page states his motto: Just Win. It says: Tony Buzbee is a former Recon Marine officer. His mettle has been tested time and again through some of the most demanding training in the armed services, and due to his involvement in the some of the most intense Marine operations in various countries. Buzbee didn't just survive or endure as a Marine officer, he excelled. In the Marine Corps, officers are taught to lead from the front, to do more with less, to work smart, to hit fast and exploit weaknesses, and to be creative. Tony Buzbee, and the firm he has built, use these same principles and attitudes in the practice of law. Victoria Perez, Exotic Dancer, Half-Blinds Strip Club Patron with High-Heeled Shoe, Police Say A stripper was jailed and a man might lose his left eye after a huge Friday night melee at southeast Austin gentlemen's club Hot Bodies. According to KXAN, Austin police responded to a call about a dressing room fight involving no fewer than 17 of the dancers -- that's what is known as a binder of strippers. When they arrived, they found a man clasping both of his hands to his left eye. He told police he had been hit in the face by the spike-heel of a flung shoe. (The man had to be hospitalized, and might lose the use of his eye.) . . . . I see a personal injury lawsuit coming. The strip club owner will no doubt claim the stripper who threw the shoe was an independent contractor. Editorial: Policing Texas prosecutors Dallas Morning News It’s not just Michael Morton’s lawyers who are making a complaint that the man who prosecuted him obliterated legal and professional obligations along the way. Now comes the disciplinary arm of the State Bar of Texas to level potentially career-ending allegations against former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson, who put Morton away for nearly 25 years in a bogus prosecution for his wife’s murder. There’s poetic justice to the fact that Anderson must answer the bar’s petition in the same courthouse where he pinned the murder rap on Morton, allegedly while hiding exculpatory evidence that Morton was entitled to under the Constitution.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Bandera Follies; Pervert Michigan Judge

Bandera County attorney to settle misconduct suit Settlement terms have been reached in a suit against County Attorney John Payne, accused of abusing his post to benefit a private practice client whose minor son was accused of raping a young girl. Payne, who denied the misconduct allegations and called the suit politically motivated, will pay $2,500 to the girl and her mother, according to court filings that indicate the settlement may be finalized Nov. 19. The suit continues against three juveniles and the father of one, who was previously represented by Payne in an unrelated civil matter. Bandera County deputies complained to District Attorney Bruce Curry last fall that Payne had used his county post to obtain details about the case and advised the man not let his son be interviewed by investigators. The special prosecutor, Jerry Phillips, said Friday that he expected to file a juvenile petition next week against at least one suspect. Payne was defeated in his bid for a second term by fellow Republican Janna Lindig, who is unopposed Nov. 6. Neither Payne nor his attorney could be reached Friday. The girl's mother filed a complaint with the state bar against Payne, said Steve Schaefer, the woman's lawyer. “They are pursuing it,” he said Friday. Detroit judge who sent photo upsetting to bailiff's husband censured DETROIT -- Third Circuit Court Judge Wade McCree sent a naked picture of himself to a female court bailiff. Apparently she didn't mind, but her husband did, so he gave it to us and we gave it to you and now the Michigan Supreme Court has given it back to Judge McCree, publicly censuring him Wednesday for judicial misconduct. . . . udge McCree wouldn't come out of his chambers for an interview, but here are a few of the court's findings. During an interview with yours truly, McCree "conducted himself in a flippant manner and did not give the interview the seriousness he should have. As a result, he brought shame and obloquy to the judiciary. For example, when discussing the digital image of himself, he said, 'There is no shame in my game.'" Police Prepare ‘Arrest Strategy’ as BBC Sexual Abuse Case Grows LONDON — The number of people who said they were sexually assaulted by Jimmy Savile, one of Britain’s most popular television hosts, expanded to 300 from 200 in just the last week, and other people may have acted with him, the Scotland Yard officer heading the investigation said Thursday.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Boy Scout Perverts; OJ Simpson Wants New Trial

Boy Scout Perversion Files Nevada judge to hear evidence in O.J. Simpson bid for new trial LAS VEGAS — A Nevada judge agreed Friday to reopen the armed robbery and kidnapping case against former football star O.J. Simpson to determine if the former football star was so badly represented by his lawyers that he should be freed from prison and get another trial. Simpson claims Galanter advised him that the plan to confront the two memorabilia dealers was legally permissible as long as no one trespassed on private property and no physical force was used. Simpson wanted to testify at trial, but “Galanter advised Simpson that he should not testify because the state could not prove its case,” Palm’s appeal says, “and Galanter prevented Grasso from fully advising Simpson to the contrary.” Simpson also claims he was never advised that the Clark County district attorney offered a pretrial deal that could have gotten Simpson two to five years in prison for pleading guilty to robbery. Palm says Simpson would have taken the offer.

CPS Scandal in Abilene - Police Investigating Evidence Tampering Allegations

Abilene police investigating Child Protective Services BY BETSY BLANEY The Associated Press Police in Texas say they have executed search warrants at the local office of the state child protection agency and a supervisor's home and car after the death of a 22-month-old girl whose mother claimed her military husband's deployment overseas left her too stressed to care for their three children. Abilene Police Chief Stan Standridge said in an e-mailed statement Tuesday that the department had probable cause to suggest that documents and other evidence existed to support allegations of evidence tampering. . . . Tamryn Klapheke suffered dehydration and malnutrition from a lack of basic care over a period of time, according to the preliminary autopsy report from the Tarrant County medical examiner's office in Fort Worth. After her arrest, her mother claimed she was too stressed by her husband's deployment to care for their three young children. Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/10/16/4340672/abilene-police-investigating-child.html#storylink=cpy

Saturday, October 20, 2012

San Antonio Lawyers Guilty of Defrauding Client

Fraud suit against lawyers nets $867,000 By Guillermo Contreras A Bexar County jury on Monday awarded a woman more than $867,000 in her lawsuit against two attorneys, including one who once served on a board that takes up complaints against lawyers. Jurors found attorney Oscar C. Gonzalez, his law firm and former lawyer Eric Turton committed malice, fraud and theft by misappropriating $75,000 from the settlement of a client, Isabel Sloan. Part of the verdict hammered Gonzalez and his firm for gross negligence and false, misleading and deceptive acts and practices. Judge Sharon Keller Loses Houston's Judicial Preference Poll to Keith Hampton Sharon Keller, the controversial head of the state's highest criminal court, has been outpolled by her opponent in this year's Houston Bar Association judicial-preference poll released today. So that means the Dallas-area judge, who garnered worldwide scorn for dismissing a death-row appeal because it was filed minutes late, is in danger of losing a seat on the CCA, where she's been for almost two decades?

Judge Ken Anderson Sued by SBOT for Hiding Evidence in Michael Morton Case

State Bar files ethics suit against Morton prosecutor A State Bar of Texas disciplinary commission has filed a lawsuit accusing former Williamson County District Attorney Ken Anderson of violating his duty as a lawyer by intentionally withholding favorable evidence from Michael Morton, who served almost 25 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. If the allegations are found to be true after an as-yet unscheduled civil trial, Anderson — now a state district judge in Georgetown — faces punishments that could include a public reprimand, disbarment or the loss of his law license for a set amount of time. . . . According to the State Bar lawsuit, Anderson’s actions violated five rules governing the conduct of lawyers, including standards requiring prosecutors to disclose favorable evidence and lawyers not to “engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice.” The lawsuit said Anderson failed to disclose two written transcripts of a conversation between police and Christine Morton’s mother, Rita Kirkpatrick, who said the Mortons’ 3-year-old son had indicated he witnessed the attack and said his father was not home at the time. Kirkpatrick also told police that she no longer believed their theory that Morton was the killer, though she later became convinced of his guilt. Other undisclosed evidence, the lawsuit said, included: • Reports of a suspicious man in a green van who was seen parking in the wooded area behind the Morton house on several occasions. • A report that Christine Morton’s credit card might have been used after her death in San Antonio. • A report that a check made out to Christine Morton had been cashed after her death. . . . _____________________________________________________________________________________________ Anderson is now a state district judge in Williamson County. This is a big deal, because it is highly unusual for the Bar to go after prosecutors for ethics violations. The Supreme Court gave prosecutors a pass for institutional abuse in Connick v. Thompson, 563 U.S. ___ (2011) when it overturned a $14 million award by a lower court in a 5-4 decision split along ideological and partisan lines, with all five Republican appointed conservatives in the majority. The minority dissent observes that, as a matter of fact, Thompson was the victim of much more pervasive misconduct by the District Attorney's office than a single Brady violation. The Supreme Court found for the appellant, Harry Connick, Sr., and ruled that the prosecutor's office is not liable. The Innocent Man, Part One This month's Texas Monthly cover story is "An Innocent Man," by Pamela Colloff. It begins: On August 13, 1986, Michael Morton came home from work to discover that his wife had been brutally murdered in their bed. His nightmare had only begun. . . . . Scout abuse files release sparks public interest PORTLAND, Ore. — The online release of files showing the Boy Scouts of America’s cover-up of decades of sexual abuse has created interest among Americans who want to know who the alleged abusers are and whether people who molested them as Scouts are in the files. The 14,500 pages of Scout files, from 1959-1985, were posted Thursday on the website of Kelly Clark, the Portland attorney who used the files as evidence in a 2010 lawsuit he won against the Scouts. The website got more than 200,000 hits within the first few hours of the files’ posting, crashing the site. Read more: Scout abuse files release sparks public interest - Washington Times http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/oct/19/scout-abuse-files-release-sparks-public-interest/#ixzz29qroJUpL

Monday, October 15, 2012

Money Bail Serves No Purpose in a Fair, Effective Justice System

Money Bail Serves No Purpose in a Fair, Effective Justice System New analysis shows using money to decide release while awaiting trial unfairly impacts low-income communities, should be replaced with practices that better protect public safety and reduce social and taxpayer costs. WASHINGTON, DC – A national report released today by the Justice Policy Institute (JPI) shows that money bail is a failed policy that does not protect public safety, discriminates against those without financial means, and causes huge costs to taxpayers and those who are unnecessarily jailed while awaiting their day in court. According to Bail Fail: Why the U.S. Should End the Practice of Money for Bail, “Current policies and practices around money bail are among the primary drivers of growth in our jail populations. On any given day, 60 percent of the people in U.S. jails are not convicted but are being held as they await the resolution of their charge. This time in detention hinders them from taking care of their families, jobs and communities while overcrowding jails and creating unsustainable budgets.” The report is the first in a three-part series of analysis on bail, for-profit bail bonding and the community impacts slated for release throughout the month of September. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said last year that taxpayers spend over $9 billion in jail costs alone to keep people in pretrial detention. Meanwhile, people who are held in jail while awaiting a court date may lose their job and housing. Their children and families may suffer from not having that person in the home taking care of his or her responsibilities. People who are jailed while awaiting trial are also more likely to be found guilty and go to prison than their counterparts who are free. This is for a variety of reasons, including the impact of enduring harsh jail conditions, reduced access to defense attorneys, inability to maintain the types of social and personal responsibilities, and the reality that showing up in shackles and a jail jumpsuit creates an impression of guilt on judges and juries. “Our constitution and laws are supposed to protect the presumption of innocence,” said Dr. Melissa Neal, author of Bail Fail and senior research associate at JPI. “Yet thousands of people are held in jails before trial because they don’t have access to money for bail. This is a waste of taxpayer money and it causes tremendous collateral consequences to those being unnecessarily incarcerated.” The report shows how the average bail amount for people who are detained has more than doubled from $39,800 in 1992 to $89,900 in 2006. This is despite evidence that higher bail amounts are not related to more public safety and that people who are unable to afford money bail are often a lower risk of dangerousness or failure to appear in court – the two legal justifications to incarcerate someone pretrial – than those who can make bail. “The disproportionality in our country’s incarceration rate starts at the jailhouse door,” noted Tracy Velázquez, executive director of JPI. “African American residents are at least five times as likely to be in jail as white residents. That some are released pretrial because they have money while others who can’t afford bail stay in jail means that economic disparities lead to justice disparities. It’s time we stop this moving walkway to prison.” Bail Fail points to pretrial service (PTS) agencies, in particular, as effective in protecting public safety, ensuring people appear in court, reducing jail populations and their costs, as well as, leveling the playing field so that all people, regardless of income, have their rights protected. By using validated risk assessment instruments, PTS agencies can determine if a person is high, medium or low risk for dangerousness or failing to appear in court. They also can provide appropriate services that increase a person’s likelihood of pretrial success, including supervision and monitoring, referrals to drug treatment, and referrals to social service agencies to address other issues a person may be facing. The report notes that Washington, D.C., through effective use of its Pretrial Services Agency, has successfully moved away from money bail. In D.C., 80 percent of people charged with an offense are released on nonfinancial bail options to await resolution of their charge while 15 percent are kept in pretrial detention. Only 5 percent are released using some form of financial bail, but there is no use of for-profit bail bondsmen services. The Pretrial Services Agency has reported that 88 percent successfully complete the pretrial process by appearing in court and not being rearrested. “As a society, we pay a lot of money and expend many resources to maintain the current pretrial justice system as it is.” added Dr. Neal. “But the most disturbing aspect of this problem is that the people making the policies and procedures can usually afford to pay their way out of jail if they are arrested. Meanwhile, people of low-incomes, who are the majority of people interfacing with the justice system, are forced to face the pretrial justice system and all of its harsh, unfair reality. We should recognize how the pretrial justice system is driving the incarceration problem of America and commit to making meaningful, helpful changes.” Recommendations made in Bail Fail include the following: 1.) Eliminate money bail. While eliminating the use of money bail may be challenging, it is possible to begin taking steps in this direction through the following: Ban the use of for-profit commercial bail bonding companies. Four states have banned the involvement of for-profit, private citizen businesses in the judicial process: Kentucky, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Oregon. Around the U.S., various jurisdictions have chosen to ban bail bondsmen even if their state has not, such as Broward County, Texas, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 2.) Amend the Bail Reform Act and policies to comply with the Equal Protection Clause. Current practices allow for people to be treated differently within the criminal justice system on account of their financial status. Elimination of money bail is an important step toward eliminating disparities in pretrial outcomes due to financial status. 3.) Include the voices of all involved parties to ensure that reforms to the pretrial process are meaningful and effective. As victims and their advocates provide a unique and critical understanding of the harm done and potential harm that could be done, it is important to build them into the pretrial release decision making process. 4.) Expand community education programs, such as the Neighborhood Defendant Rights programs, that inform people in the community about how to navigate the pretrial process. The confusing and inherently coercive pretrial process is challenging even for those with adequate financial resources and educational background. Understanding the process, legal rights, and what to expect could help people navigate this part of the case process more successfully. 5.) Use citations and summons to reduce the number of people being arrested and processed through jails. This is one solution to our jail overcrowding problem as police officers can more easily dispense citations while on the streets without needing to transport individuals to a booking facility. 6.) Use standardized, validated risk assessments to determine who to release and how to release. Validated risk assessments are gaining popularity as judges look for more objective ways to conduct the pretrial process and many states can now provide models for how to implement this practice. 7.) Implement measures of pretrial detention and release services to evaluate current programming and better inform pretrial reform efforts. In order to better understand the impact of pretrial detention and how the U.S. is performing compared to other nations, national data on pretrial detention should be gathered from jails and prisons that hold people who are going through the pretrial process. 8.) For-profit bail bonding businesses should be required to report on pretrial outcome measures such as rates of forfeiture and failures to appear. For-profit bail bonding companies are responsible for the release of millions of defendants each year. At this time, there is little regulation or oversight over this crucial aspect of public safety. Only when for-profit bail bonding companies are required to report on indicators of pretrial performance and outcomes will policymakers be able to make educated decisions around the use of bail and bail bonding as opposed to non-financial release options. 9.) Utilize pretrial supervision agencies. Pretrial services can assist both law enforcement and judicial officers to promote citations and appropriate bail determinations by providing risk assessment and fact-finding services. 10.) Use court notifications. Through personally manned or computerized programs, reminding people about upcoming hearings has proven to reduce failure-to-appear rates. 11.) Better utilize technology to improve pretrial processes. Pretrial reform is a daunting task for cities and counties operating on a stringent budget. Software is now available allowing modeling of communities and interventions so that jurisdictions can test changes to their systems and estimate outcomes before actually instituting changes. In addition to releasing three reports on the bail industry, JPI is will host several events including conference calls and panel discussions for the media and general public. For more information and to read Bail Fail: Why the U.S. Should End the Practice of Money for Bail, CLICK HERE. For additional information, please contact Zerline Hughes at 202.558.7974 x308 / 202.320.1029 or zhughes@justicepolicy.org. For a more JPI reports on the criminal justice systems, please visit our website at www.justicepolicy.org. The Justice Policy Institute, based in Washington, DC, is working to reduce the use of incarceration and the justice system and promote policies that improve the well-being of all people and communities. For more information, please visit www.justicepolicy.org.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Mafia, Chicagoland, Harry Truman and SCOTUS JUSTICE TOM CLARK

There has been only one Supreme Court justice from Texas. Thomas Campbell "Tom C." Clark (September 23, 1899 – June 13, 1977) was United States Attorney General from 1945 to 1949 and an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (1949–1967). He did some good things. For example, he wrote the majority opinion in Mapp v. Ohio where the Court held that evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment should be excluded. However, there is considerable evidence that he was as crooked as they come. He was corrupted by the Chicago "Outfit," the successors to the Al Capone gang. I'm reading Gus Russo's book "The Outfit: the Role of Chicago's Underworld in the Shaping of Modern America." I recommend it to anyone interested in organized crime, law and politics. I knew a little about Joseph Kennedy being a bootlegger and the role the Mafia played in winning (or stealing) the election for JFK, but I had no idea how close the Kennedy's were to the Mafia. Even more interesting is the story of how the mob sponsored Harry Truman from being a ward boss/county judge in Missouri all the way to getting him appointed VP and winning the presidential election. Truman was a product of the Kansas City Pendergast political machine, which was a subsidiary of the Outfit. According to Russo, the Chicago mob also helped Tom C. Clark get appointed as the AG, in exchange for cash payoffs, swinging elections for Truman, and promising Clark a seat on the Supreme Court. In exchange, Clark shut down the FBI's task force investigating the mafia, and got several top hoods early parole. .................................... Speaking of Chicago, I'm halfway through the second season of Boss, starring Kelsey Grammeras the ruthless mayor of Chicago. His character Tom Caincould have stepped out of MacBeth or King Lear. Someone should do a similar series about LBJ. .................................... To my great chagrin, I voted for Obama in the last election. I, like millions of others, discounted the facts - his total lack of experience, his radicalism (terrorist Bill Ayers, socialist Saul Alinsky, racist radical preacher Jeremiah Wright, his wife "for the first time in my life I'm proud of America," growing up in a Moslem country and having a Moslem name). "Before he set out to deceive others, he went to great pains to deceive himself." To refer to another television show, I really wonder if he is a sleeper like Sgt. Brady in Homeland. I think a lot of us subconsciously believed we could atone for the supposed collective guilt of slavery and racism. Obama is a product of the Chicagoland political machine and the worst elements of the Democratic Party. He demeans our country when he bows to dictators and America haters, and does his world apology tours. The debacle in Libya is a taste of worse to come if he's reelected. I'm also concerned that he will shut down the oil and gas industry for spurious environmental reasons, which would devastate Texas. .................................................... In response to a comment a reader posted on this blog, I haven't written anything about local politics in a while because there's been nothing (that I know of) newsworthy to write about. I'm not going to write negative things about people just for the fun of it. If someone has something to say, it's easy to start a blog on Google's Blogger.com.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Ashlyn Treadway Memorial Fund

The Houston Press reports this heartbreaking story: Child Abuse and Forensic Services, a Beaumont-based non-profit, has created the Ashlyn Tilea Treadway Educational Fund, in honor of a sexual abuse survivor who was killed in a car accident last August. Treadway was just 23. "We first wrote about the abuse Ashlyn, her younger sister Brea, and two other girls suffered at the hands of Treadway's uncle, Beaumont cardiologist Jeff Klem, in 2007. . . . Klem was the pride and joy of Treadway's grandfather, Lonnie Charles "Buck" Treadway, Pentecostal pastor of New Life Tabernacle Church. After the girls accused Klem of molesting them, Buck Treadway sided with his son-in-law, calling Ashlyn and the others whores and liars . . . . Klem pleaded guilty in Jefferson and Harris counties to injury to a child, which spared him from having to register as a sex offender. Prosecutors in both counties seemed to take a soft approach to their cases; maybe because Klem had the funds to hire Dick DeGuerin for his Jefferson County case. In Beaumont, Klem was allowed to serve his jail time on the weekends." If the perp had been a welder or a 17 year old kid from a family without wealth or connections he would have gone to prison for 20 years and register as a sex offender. Deputy, detention officers fired in sex probe at county jail A widening sexual misconduct investigation at the Harris County Jail has led to five additional firings, including a supervising deputy, Sheriff Adrian Garcia said Friday. The firings include four civilian detention officers and take to six the number of employees who have been fired in the investigation that began in August 2011, Garcia said. Earlier this year, another deputy was indicted in the case, then fired. The allegations involve sexual misconduct between jail staff and other employees as well as between jailers and inmates. The supervisor was fired for overlooking what was happening at the jail, Garcia said. Garcia said another deputy resigned during the internal affairs investigation while another supervisor chose to retire. Twice-arrested firefighter told he's getting boot A San Antonio firefighter who recently was arrested for the second time has been issued a termination notice. Brian Jones, 30, was arrested Sept. 25 on suspicion of burglarizing an ex-girlfriend's home. Jones' latest arrest came when he was found hiding in the attic at his wife's home in the 21000 block of Andrews Garden.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hey, Can You Spare a Couple of Xanax Bars?

National Inventory of the Collateral Consequences of Conviction, or how a minor drug offense can ruin your life. Collateral consequences are the bad things that happen to a person convicted of a crime, in addition to the criminal penalties themselves (direct consequences). If you are charged with a crime, before you plead guilty you owe it to yourself to know what effect a conviction may have on your employment, eligibility to enter the military, obtain financial aid for college, obtain or keep a professional license, have a hunting license, own a firearm, register as a sex offender, and so on. The ABA prepared this interactive website at the direction of Congress. ____________________________________________________________________________________
Hey, Can You Loan Me a Xanax Bar? Did you know that if you give a friend a xanax bar, diet pill, adderall pill, or prescription sleeping pill you've just committed the felony crime of distributing a controlled substance and could go to prison and be fined up to $10,000? If you accept money or anything of value, the offense level goes up (longer sentence). Police departments across the nation, including Kerrville, use snitches to set up their friends. They even sign written "confidential informant" contracts. Say Mary Smith gets busted for a little cocaine. If she'll rat on her friends, her charges go away. So, Mary calls her friend Suzy and says she has a big exam and has to pull an all-nighter, could you sell me a few adderall. The police officers tell Mary to ask Suzy to meet her outside the campus bookstore. Guess what - now they can enhance the charge to delivery in a drug free zone, which kicks the offense to the next highest level. Of course all the telephone calls are recorded, and Mary will be wearing a wire when she meets Suzy. Another trick the police use is to set the meet in or near a city or state park, or within 1,000 feet of a playground or school. Once they bust Suzy, then it's her turn to be a snitch. I've noticed another disturbing trend. A boy and girl have consensual sex, the girl's parents find out and can't believe their little angel would do something so vile, the girl cries rape or claims she was so drunk she couldn't defend herself. The law almost always takes the girl's side, the boy gets charged with sexual assault, expelled from school, and depending on his age (under 17 is still a minor) can get sent to reform school or prison. Meanwhile, there are con-men running all around the Hill Country lying, cheating and stealing with impunity. I reported one of them who committed perjury in a deposition by claiming he was a "highly decorated Vietnam vet" who was awarded the Bronze Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, and Purple Heart flying helicopters, when the truth is that he was in the National Guard and never left the US. But it doesn't involve drugs, so the police and prosecutors here don't care.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Uniform Doesn't Guarantee Trustworthiness

I just finished re-reading Truman Capote's classic In Cold Blood, a classic which is considered the first nonfiction book to use the techniques of high quality fiction - vivid description, characterization, dialogue and so on. It is a chilling account of two ex-cons who slaughtered an entire family in Kansas in 1959. The motive was robbery, their haul was less than $50. The thug who pulled the trigger and cut the father's throat was Perry Smith. Before he became a serious criminal and convict, Smith server in the Army and was awarded the Bronze Star for service in Korea. While Smith and his partner were on death row, they were accompanied by two soldiers who went AWOL and went on a cross-country rape and murder spree before getting busted in Kansas. The point being, wearing a uniform or even being a combat vet doesn't guarantee someone is a stellar citizen. Here's a roundup of news stories that further illustrate the point: US general charged with adultery, other sex crimes FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) — An Army brigadier general who served five combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan has been charged with forcible sodomy, multiple counts of adultery and having inappropriate relationships with several female subordinates, two U.S. defense officials said Wednesday. The defense officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to provide details on the case. Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair faces possible courts martial on charges that include forced sex, wrongful sexual conduct, violating an order, possessing pornography and alcohol while deployed, and misusing a government travel charge card and filing fraudulent claims. Texas executes ex-Army recruiter after 3 reprieves By MICHAEL GRACZYK, Associated Press HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — A former Army recruiter failed to win a fourth reprieve from the U.S. Supreme Court and was executed Tuesday evening in Texas for participating in the shooting death of a woman he and a buddy met 10 years ago at a bar. Cleve Foster was pronounced dead at 6:43 p.m. CDT, 25 minutes after his lethal injection began and two hours after the high court refused to postpone his punishment. Three times last year the justices stopped his scheduled punishment, once when he was moments from being led to the death chamber. His attorneys argued he was innocent of the 2002 slaying of Nyaneur Pal, a 30-year-old immigrant from Sudan. They also said he had deficient legal help at his trial and in early stages of his appeals and argued his case deserved a closer look. Foster, 48, also was charged but never tried for the rape-slaying a few months earlier of another woman in Fort Worth, Rachel Urnosky. 5th instructor in Lackland Air Force Base sex scandal sentenced SAN ANTONIO - A fifth Air Force training instructor charged in the sex scandal at Lackland Air Force Base was sentenced late Monday afternoon. Staff Sgt. Jason Manko began his court martial Monday in a Lackland military courtroom. Manko pleaded guilty to violating Article 92. He is accused of sexual misconduct and trying to start a relationship with a recruit at the Air Force's headquarters for basic training. He was sentenced to 45 days confinement, a reduction of rank to Airman First Class, a forfeiture of $500 pay per month for three months and hard labor for 30 days without confinement (restricted to Lackland AFB). The news shocked Canada last February. Colonel Russell Williams was the commander of the country's largest Air Force base, the pilot entrusted to fly Canadian dignitaries around the globe. And he'd just been accused of being a serial murderer, rapist and panty burglar... He was caught after police identified tire tracks from his truck near a murder scene. But as the story unfolded, Canadians were treated to the unhappy truth that one of their top military men was a Grade A sadist and pervert.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Positive Stereotypes - Wearing a Uniform Doesn't Make a Hero

Many trial lawyers believe that a trial is won in voir dire, before the jury is ever seated. We use stereotypes - younger people,, blacks and Jews are better for defendants, older, white, Republicans are better for the prosecution. If it's a personal injury case, the same demographics apply. We classify potential jurors by their occupations - engineers, accountants, medical professionals are good defense lawyers; factory workers and other blue collar types are better for the plaintiff. What about military service? Some believe that enlisted personnel are good defense jurors in criminal cases and plaintiff's jurors in personal injury cases. We apply stereotypes to the parties in the trial too. For example, if a defendant is a current member of the military or a vet, he starts out with goodwill from many jurors. We all need to consider that anyone, no matter the race, occupation, religion, or gender, can be a criminal. Here are a few examples: Timothy Hennis, a master sergeant in the Army, raped a young woman then brutally murdered her and two of her children in Fayetteville, NC in 1985. He was acquitted in his first murder trial in state court. In 2006, a cold case detective at the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office took new interest in the case. He found a vaginal swab that had been taken from Kathryn Eastburn's body that contained semen from the man who'd raped her. The detective sent it to a crime lab for DNA testing -- a forensic technique that was not available at the time of the earlier trials . . . . The military jury rejected the defense's arguments, and in April 2010, found Hennis guilty on three specifications of premeditated murder. Hennis is now on death row at an Army facility in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., while his lawyers plan his appeal. The case could eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court. Iraq case where 3 soldiers raped and murdered young girl US soldier admits killing family after raping girl In 1986, three enlisted men with the fabled 101st Airborne Screaming Eagles were left unsupervised for extended periods, drank and smoked opium on duty, and progressed to rape and murder. 'An American soldier yesterday pleaded guilty to the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the killing of three members of her family in a village near Baghdad in March in one of the most brutal examples of attacks on civilians in Iraq. The soldier, Specialist James Barker, also agreed to testify against three other accused soldiers. He agreed to the plea in return for a guarantee that he would not face the death penalty, his lawyers said. The murders took place on March 12 in Mahmoudiya, 20 miles south of Baghdad. Prosecutors allege that five soldiers stationed at a checkpoint there raped the girl, Abeer Qassim al-Janabi, then burned her body to hide the evidence, and killed her father, mother and six-year-old sister. The ringleader, Private Steven Green, was discharged from the army in May for a "personality disorder" before the crime came to light. He is being tried as a civilian in a federal court in Kentucky, and has pleaded not guilty to charges including murder and sexual assault." Col. Russell Williams, Canadian Air Force base commander, pleads guilty to 88 crimes against women "In a case that has shocked Canada, the former commander of the country's largest Air Force base pleaded guilty Monday to a horrific spree of crimes that included the torture and strangulation of two women, two sexual assaults and dozens of voyeuristic break-ins." Williams was so highly regarded he was selected to fly the Queen around when she visited Canada. Hasan's beard may delay trial past holiday season Arraigned more than two years ago, Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan charged with killing 13 people and wounding 32 others, never has entered a plea. . . . With over a million active duty military personnel, logic dictates that some will be bad apples.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

More on Cleaveland TX gang rape case; Crooked Telemarketers; Did Israel Get Away With Murder?

Some in Texas town still disagree over sex assault CLEVELAND, Texas (AP) — The abandoned mobile home where an 11-year-old girl was sexually assaulted had become a symbolic reminder of a horrific crime that brewed racial tensions in this Southeast Texas community.... Prosecutors say the girl was sexually assaulted on at least five occasions from mid-September through early December of 2010, at the mobile home and elsewhere. Some in Cleveland, located about 45 miles northwest of Houston, have suggested the girl was partly responsible because of her appearance, sparking widespread condemnation. Some also believe the arrests were racially motivated; all of the suspects are black, while the girl is Hispanic....Caroline King, who lives down the street, insisted Friday that people still "don't know the facts of the case" and said authorities were just "harassing people" by knocking on doors in the town of about 7,700 people as they searched for McGowen. "It's not as bad as what they are saying. Nobody tied (the girl) up," said King, 59....Some suggested early on that the girl was partly responsible because they say she wore makeup, looked older than her age and wasn't properly supervised by her parents. Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/article/Some-in-Texas-town-still-disagree-over-sex-assault-3833546.php#ixzz25H4qFJgT Gritsforbreakfast.com has a good article about the scam where telemarketers call and ask for donations for a charity that provides money to the families of state troopers who die in the line of duty. Assets from scam trooper charity placed in receivership. From a Texas AG press release: The State’s enforcement action named the THPM, the Texas Highway Patrol Association (THPA), THPA Services, Inc. and several senior officials as defendants. Court documents filed by the State show that the defendants claimed to provide death benefits to slain law officers’ families and fund scholarships for state troopers’ family members. However, state investigators found that few survivors actually received any financial assistance, and many of the purported scholarship funds were awarded to children of THPM’s board members. After the State filed its enforcement action, the court approved a receiver to take possession of the defendants’ assets and real property. Under the agreement, the defendants’ property will be liquidated and the proceeds will be allocated to surviving family members who never received the $10,000 benefit they were promised. Remaining proceeds will be donated to the Texas Department of Public Safety Foundation and the Department of Public Safety Historical Museum and Research Foundation, which will use these funds to fulfill donors’ original intent. The settlement also imposes civil penalties of more than $2 million. The settlement also prohibits the individual defendants – Kenneth Lane Denton, Timothy Tierney and Steven Jenkins – from any future involvement with non-profit or for-profit organizations related to law enforcement. Defendant Ruben Villalva Jr. and other former board members were also ordered to comply with similar restrictions....... No Justice for Rachel Corrie "Twenty-three-year-old Rachel Corrie traveled to Gaza at the height of the second intifada intending to initiate a sister city project between Olympia, Washington, her home town, and Rafah as part of her senior-year project at Evergreen College. After a two-day seminar in the offices of the International Solidarity Movement in the West Bank, she continued on to Rafah to join ISM members, who were demonstrating against the Israeli military’s massive demolitions of houses on the Egyptian border. Less than two months after her arrival, on March 16, 2003, Corrie was crushed to death by a Caterpillar D9R Israeli military bulldozer....." In 1967, Israeli warplanes bombed and strafed a US Navy ship in international waters. Israel claimed it was an "accident," but the attack lasted 45 minutes and the planes were so close our sailors could see the faces of the pilots. Several of our men were killed. Our government covered it up. You can read about it in The Attack on the Liberty: The Untold Story of Israel's Deadly 1967 Assault on a U.S. Spy Ship, by James Scott.