Popular Posts

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.