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Friday, December 18, 2015

Belated Happy Halloween - Hillary Clinton Cure for Viagra Overdose


A former Hillary Clinton campaign staffer is suspended from practicing law after she was charged with perjury and other crimes.

Democratic Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane was recently arrested for allegedly disclosing confidential information about an investigation to the press.

In reporting on Kane’s suspension Monday by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the mainstream media has glossed over at least one detail: Kane worked for the Clintons.

Why People Hate Lawyers:

Defense: Goforth was meeting a woman at the time of his death

he lawyer for a man accused of killing Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Goforth last month said the slain lawman had a reason to be at a Chevron station that night other than filling up his patrol car.
"My understanding is that he was at this station meeting with this young lady who has been identified as a witness," said Anthony Osso, who is representing Shannon Miles, charged with capital murder in the case. Standing outside his downtown Houston office, Osso said determining why Goforth was at the Chevron is crucial. For the killing to be considered a capital murder in this case, it would need to involve a deputy acting in the "lawful discharge of an official duty," Osso said.

A few bizarre stories

The DA who tackled the accused said the courthouse courtroom is like "being in the Wild West."

"It was just a freak accident."

Judge Who Threatened To 'Beat' Lawyer Removed From Bench
"The egregious conduct demonstrates his present unfitness to remain in office."
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A judge who was captured on video berating and threatening to fight an assistant public defender was ordered removed from the bench Thursday by the Florida Supreme Court.
Brevard County Circuit Judge John Murphy got into an argument last year with now-former assistant public defender Andrew Weinstock over whether a defendant could have a speedy trial. The judge at one point said, "If you want to fight, let's go out back." The two men left the courtroom and Murphy was accused of hitting the man. He denied striking Weinstock.

'IF YOU F--- WITH ME I WILL HAVE YOU KILLED': Florida millionaire imprisoned for molesting two young girls busted hiring hitman to off judge, prosecutor

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Sadler Law Firm LLP Successfully Completes Chapter 11

Below is a letter I received today from Randall Sadler, managing partner of the Sadler Law Firm, LLP in Houston:

Dear Mr. Ellison,

On May 14, 2014 you posted a blog that Sadler Law Firm LLP had filed for Chapter 11 protection.  As with many law firms, the boom and the bust of 2014-2015 was not the reason for the financial difficulties of the firm.  The various sections of the firm experienced too much success too soon and decided, as many lawyers do so often, that they did need to be a part of something so big, that they could take what they had learned, the money they made, the clients they had been handed, and go do their own deal and make more money.  In a matter of 8 months, 5 sections (of 10-15 attorneys) representing a substantial portion of firm business left the firm to open their own firms.   I filed for reorganization instead of dissolution as a matter of integrity, for the benefit of our employees, and to do the best we could to satisfy the claims of our creditors.  On July 9, 2014, the plan of reorganization was approved by creditors and the court.  On September 21, 2015, the bankruptcy court signed a Final Order closing the case.  Since you found it news worthy to post a blog about our bankruptcy, I would appreciate you posting a blog about our success in navigating the reorganization process and our successive emergence from bankruptcy, reorganized and revitalized.
Our practice is concentrated in oil and gas law as it relates to the upstream oil and gas industry and the oil and gas A & D market.  We have downsized our firm 10 attorneys to accommodate the changing environment in those industries as a result of the dramatic downturn in energy prices in the last year.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like additional information.

Best Regards,

Randall K. Sadler
Managing Partner
Certified in Oil, Gas and Mineral Law
By the Texas Board of Legal Specialization
Since December, 1986

Thursday, September 10, 2015

More on Ex-Kerrvert Lawyer Perry Cortese Money Laundering Fraud Case

There's a good article in Law360 about Perry Cortese's alleged fraud schemes that cheated victims out of about $8.8 Million, available here: 

The indictment alleges Cortese and a woman conspired with one Muhammed Naji to wire the proceeds of the criminal scams as part of a transnational criminal organization

Cortese and Ellis were also charged in the Aug. 20 indictment with running multiple other fraudulent schemes. According to the government, the defendants hacked into other individuals’ financial accounts and engaged in an apparent “catfishing” scheme whereby they feigned romantic relationships with users of social networking and dating sites and convinced victims to wire funds.

Mr. Cortese faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years

I checked the federal court's website and it does not appear that he has been released on bond. 

The case in Texas is USA v. Ellis et al., case number 15-mj-00184, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. The case in Florida is USA v. Ellis et al., case number 15-cr-00320, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Gerry Spence - Harmless Blowhard or Dangerous Agitator

Gerry Spence has a new book out to capitalize on the anti-police sentiment in the wake of the shooting death of the "gentle giant" Michael Brown by a Ferguson, MO. police officer. I don't see anything coming out of Spence's propaganda about Darren Goforth, the Harris County deputy who was murdered in cold blood by a black thug who shot him in the back multiple times.
I guess he's trying to make a few bucks by cashing in on the hatred that Obama and his minions have incited.

"Police State:  How America's Cops Get Away With Murder" 

by Gerry Spence  
Famed trial lawyer and founder of the Trial Lawyer's College

Available for purchase now!  

In the wake of America's outrage over police brutality in Ferguson, MO and other cities across America, famed trial lawyer Gerry Spence chronicles a history of police brutality and abuse of power in a number of his key cases over 60 years of practicing law.  

In his 18th book,
Police State", Spence issues a stinging indictment of the American justice system and puts forth a plan to restore liberty and justice for all.

If Hilary Clinton gets elected I'm leaving the country

Friday, September 4, 2015

Federal Indictment of Perry Cortese Unsealed

Perry Don Cortese, a former resident of Kerrville who still has cases in area courts, was indicted in U.S. District Court, Middle Dist. of Florida, Tampa Division, on Aug. 20. The indictment has two counts: wire fraud, and international money laundering conspiracy.
The Government alleges that he conspired with Priscilla Ann Ellis and one Muhammed Naji to defraud lawyers. The scam allegedly worked like this: they created fictitious companies and opened bank accounts. They contacted lawyers under the fake names and asked them to represent them in legal disputes and transactions. Then they told the lawyers that the case had settled, or the "defendants" agreed to settle. Cortese, Ellis and Muhammed allegedly forged cashier's checks, which the lawyers endorsed and deposited into their trust accounts. The lawyers allegedly took their fee, then wire transferred the balance to Cortese et al.

Muhammed has already pled guity, presumably with an agreement to help the Government.

Allegedly, the conspirators attempted to disguise the source and nature of the funds, and wired them overseas.

An alleged sideline was setting up fake identities on dating websites and cheating lonely people with hopes of romance.

The indictment also claims they hacked into email accounts and fraudulently transferred money.

The maximum sentence is a fine up to $500,000 and/or 20 years in prison, and in the federal system there's no parole.

Cortese has applied for court appointed counsel.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Former Kerrville Lawyer Perry Cortese Indicted in Federal Court in Florida

The Killeen Daily Herald reports that Perry Cortese got busted in what sounds like a Nigerian type scam, with a co-defendant named Muhammed:
"Perry Don Cortese, a Bell County attorney practicing in Little River-Academy, and Priscilla Ann Ellis, a Harker Heights resident and businesswoman, were arrested Monday by the U.S. Marshals Service and placed in a federal facility in Waco.

"Cortese and Ellis were indicted Aug. 20 in the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, on charges of wire fraud and international money laundering, according to federal court documents obtained by the Temple Daily Telegram. The indictment states Cortese and Ellis conspired with each other and with Muhammad Naji and other people to commit wire fraud by using wire communications to defraud lawyers and law firms across the U.S., and obtained funds under false and fraudulent pretenses. The duo allegedly used shell companies with fake names and opened bank accounts in the names of those shell companies at federally insured financial institutions."
I have to give the usual disclaimer here that being indicted doesn't mean someone is guilty, and is presumed innocent, etc. 
I would not be a good juror in a case like this. I get at least 20 of these Nigerian type solicitations every day that get through my scam/spam filter Barracuda. I'd probably be inclined to convict just because I resent the time I waste having to delete them. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Texas Killing Fields - New Book by Kathryn Casey

I've been reading Kathryn Casey's new book, Deliver Us: Three Decades of Murder and Redemption in the Infamous I-45/Texas Killing Fields. Casey is probably the best true crime writer working today, right up there with Ann Rule. Here's a blurb from Amazon.com about the book:
Critically acclaimed author Kathryn Casey delivers a riveting account of the brutal murders of young women in the I-45/Texas Killing Fields.
Over a three-decade span, more than twenty women—many teenagers—died mysteriously in the small towns bordering Interstate 45, a fifty-mile stretch of highway running from Houston to Galveston. The victims were strangled, shot, or savagely beaten. Six met their demise in pairs. They had one thing in common: being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The day she vanished, Colette Wilson waited for her mother after band practice. Best friends Debbie Ackerman and Maria Johnson loved to surf and were last seen hitchhiking. Laura Kate Smither dreamed of becoming a ballerina and disappeared just weeks before her thirteenth birthday.
In this harrowing true crime exposition, award-winning journalist Kathryn Casey tracks these tragic cases, investigates the evidence, interviews the suspects, and pulls back the cloak of secrecy in search of elusive answers.

I lived in Houston from 1982 to 2002, and I remember seeing the billboards with missing girls. I particularly remember when Laura Smither went missing, and when they found her body a few weeks later. She went out for a jog one morning in a nice neighborhood and never came home. I also remember when Jessica Cain disappeared, and her family found her pickup truck parked on the side of the road, with her purse and keys still in it. I can't imagine the pain their families have suffered over the years.

I've never tried to become qualified to try death penalty cases, because I don't want to run the risk of being appointed to defend someone like the evil monsters who killed these girls and women. There are lawyers who can do it, but not me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Kerrville Police Shoot Armed Suspect; New Scandal in Kimble County, Texas?

On late Sunday afternoon (Aug. 15) KPD officers responded to a domestic abuse call. The San Antonio Express news and Kerrville Daily Times report that the suspect, 47 year old Steven B. Norton, "stepped  out onto the front porch of the residence with a rifle and fired a shot in the direction of the officers. All four officers returned fire with their duty weapons and the suspect was struck at least one time." He was flown to a hospital in San Antonio where he died.

If this account is accurate, the shooting was justified. The most recent Supreme Court case on excessive force is instructive. In Plumhoff v. Rickard, 134 S.Ct. 2012 (2014) the Court held
the officers acted reasonably in using deadly force. "A police officer's attempt to terminate a dangerous high-speed car chase that threatens the lives of innocent bystanders does not violate the Fourth Amendment, even when it places the fleeing motorist at risk of serious injury or death.... Rickard's outrageously reckless driving - which lasted more than five minutes, exceeded 100 mph, and included the passing of more than two dozen other motorists - posed a grave public safety risk." The suspect attempted to run over officers.
The officers "did not fire more shots than necessary to end the public safety risk.... If officers are justified in firing at a suspect in order to end a sever threat to public safety, they need not stop shooting until the threat has ended."

I have heard rumblings that a high ranking law enforcement officer in Junction, Texas has been indicted for embezzlement. The local paper there won't touch the story. If someone would contact me anonymously with more details I'd follow up on it.

Hilary Clinton auditions to replace UT Tower:

Or maybe she's trying out her orange pantsuit for prison.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Councilman Gary Stork's Continuing Comedy of Errors; Stupid Country Songs

Gary Stork, Place 3 City of Kerrville Councilman, has a severe case of foot in mouth disease. He has embarrassed himself and the city by accusing his fellow council member Bonnie White of not liking soccer and the little children because she had the temerity to ask questions about the boondoggle where the city was going to pay the Cailloux Foundation's company (for profit or nonprofit? - who knows?) $9 Million for 105 acres and some athletic fields. The city didn't require bids for the improvements, or obtain an independent appraisal of the land. Stork thought it was just fine and dandy.

Stork has made statements in council meetings, and to reporters, that virtually admit that he and his cronies on the council violate the Open Meetings Act. He tried to clean up that mess by writing an open letter to the Daily Times where he just dug the hole deeper, basically stating that council goes into executive session whenever there's any disagreement on an issue.

Today's KDT's editorial page has the latest installment in this farce. In a letter to the editor titled "I confess - I'm the guilty party," Peggy Stork, his wife, takes the blame for her husband's admissions of violating the Open Records Act. She claims that she "usually edits and sometimes rewords" Gary's writings. She continues, "Not having taken any classes in the Open Meetings Act, I wrote the offending sentence about 'discussing and hashing out our differences.'" Poor Gary didn't read the final product, or didn't read it very carefully. So his admission is just a big mistake made by his wife.

Next time a lawyer makes a mistake in a brief, he can just tell the judge, sorry, I didn't read it again after my wife "edited" it for me. Sounds like the dog ate my homework.

Stupid Country Songs and the Morons Who Like Them

If judges would allow it I would submit jury questionaires in every serious case I tried. Last week I attended the State Bar Advanced Criminal Law seminar in San Antonio. All the speakers were excellent and some were great - informative and entertaining. Highlights for me were Justice Michael Kessler of the Court of Criminal Appeals, David Burrows, a DWI guru, and David Hirschhorn, the jury consultant in the George Zimmerman murder trial.

Hirschorn is a big proponent of jury questionaires and has samples that lawyers can use as models. Right now I frankly don't remember if he has this question or not: What is your favorite kind of music, and who are your three favorite musicians? If someone answered modern country, and named almost any of the big names, I would probably strike them as too stupid to serve on a jury. They all seem to hate their crappy jobs, be high school dropouts, and live for Friday night so they can get drunk and race their pickups to the river for a big ol' bonfire where the girls all have sweet, fine a--- that they shake (or in the vernacular, their "sugar shakers" or "money makers"). On the way to work this morning I heard a buffoon singing about "getting drunk on a plane." Here are a few selections of lyrics from some top ten country songs:

Brad Paisley
Crushing It

Every week has a weekend
By this time Friday night
I'll be done with my third can of cold Bud Light
And I'll be crushin' it
Yeah, I'll be crushin' it

Every week has a weekend
By this time Friday night
If you want a margarita
I'll get tequila and ice
And I'll be crushin' it
With a cold one in my other hand
And I'll be crushin' it

When I'm finished with my can
I can stomp it with my boot
Punch it with my fist
Smash it on my forehead
Yeah, I got this
I'll be crushin' it

I figured this out in college walking past them Gothic columns
That I was gonna probably wind up somewhere near the bottom
I was never gonna be the best or brightest guy around
But like the great George freaking Strait, I'm the king of gettin' unwound

Kick the Dust Up - Luke Bryan

That sun up high goes down
And then it's on, come on, girl, kick it on back
Z71 like a Cadillac

We go way out where
There ain't nobody
We turn this cornfield
Into a party
Pedal to the floorboard
Eight up in a four door
Burnin up a back road song
Park it and we pile out
Baby, watch your step now
Better have your boots on
Kick the dust up
Back it on up
Fill your cup up
Let's tear it up up
And kick the dust up
Got me a jar full of clear
And I got that music for your ear
And it's like knock knock knock goes the diesel
If you really wanna see the beautiful people

And here's a new trend, gay and lesbian country music (Ol' Hank must be spinning in his grave!)

Little Big Town - Girl Crush Lyrics
I got a girl crush
Hate to admit it but
I got a heart rush
Ain't slowing down
I got it real bad
Want everything she has
That smile and that midnight laugh
She's giving you now
I don't get no sleep
I don't get no peace
Thinking about her
Under your bed sheets
The way that she's whispering
The way that she's pulling you in
Lord knows I've tried,
I can't get her off my mind

And his life's goal is to buy a boat and a pickup to pull it:
Chris Janson - Buy Me A Boat Lyrics 
They call me redneck, white trash and blue collar
But I could change all that if I had a couple million dollars
I keep hearing that money is the root of all evil
And you can’t fit a camel through the eye of a needle
I’m sure that’s probably true,
But it still sounds pretty cool

‘Cause it could buy me a boat, it could buy me a truck to pull it
It could buy me a Yeti 110 iced down with some silver bullets
Yeah, I know what they say, money can't buy everything
Well, maybe so
But it can buy me a boat
Yeah, and I know what they say,
Money can’t buy everything
Well, maybe so,
But it could buy me a boat

And all you parents of teenage girls would love to have this drunkard pick up your daughter:
Hell of a Night
All we need is a July hot Saturday night
A couple cans on cool and the needle on full and a countryside
Yeah, a hot little playlist of your favorite songs
And when I get you climbing up in the cab of this truck
Yeah you know it's on, know it's on

Show you a side of these two lanes you've never seen
Heatin' it up behind the high beams
Oooh, baby you and me, just runnin' down crazy
Flyin' high, living careless, on the edge of wild and reckless
Hold on tight, I'm 'bout to show you one hell of a night

Anything Goes - Florida Georgia Line

Lime on the rim of that dixie silver
Smokin' up a faded out 4x4
Girls headin off to the river, yeah
Victoria's Secret aint a secret no more
I brought the songs and you brought the party
Only one way to do it up right
Everybody goes where eveybody knows
That anything goes on a Friday night
Get your party right, it's a Friday night
Get your party right, it's a Friday night

Well baby you ain't nothin' but a masterpiece
Swayin' and sippin' that Dos Equis
Losin' yourself in the big loud beat, nothin' but heat (come on)

I'd like to see what the jury consultants say about taste in music and jurors. I would imagine that someone who liked jazz or classical music would be fairly intelligent and open to hearing the evidence and following the law. Jurors who liked the traditional country music - Haggard, Willie, Hank, and some of the current troubadours like Jason Isbell and Ray Wylie Hubbard, would probably have some compassion for injured people.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Fantasy Industrial Complex

I have often wondered why American culture is obsessed with meaningless trivialities - the supposed discrimination against transvestites, transsexuals, cross dressers, and so on. You would think there are millions of them, and many more millions of persecuted homosexuals, and that blacks have made no progress at all in the last 50 years. It's okay for the media to criticize Caucasians for their unfair "white privilege," or to call Republicans "old white men." "Black lives matter," but a young white woman walking in San Francisco with her father gets shot in the back by an illegal alien and it barely gets a mention.

Meanwhile, we're all supposed to be fascinated by the marital ups and downs of Beyonce, Brad and Angelina/Jennifer, Ben and Jennifer, and of course Bruce call me Caitlyn Jenner. Meanwhile, Obama just gave Iran the green light to build nukes and missiles to launch them, and is probably a Muslim and undoubtedly is a Marxist.

I found an article by author Ben Fountain, based on a talk he gave to cadets at the Air Force Academy that I think explains this sorry state of affairs. He calls it the Fantasy Industrial Complex. I quote it here, but encourage you to read the whole article. 

Soldiers on the Fault Line: War, Rhetoric, and Reality

Are we stupid? As Norman Mailer once said, “Stupidity is the American disease,” but I would argue it’s not that simple.
This country has done far too many fine and brilliant things to ascribe the disaster of Iraq to plain stupidity. I would approach it from a different direction and argue that our culture is stupid, and while that doesn’t necessarily make us stupid in the literal sense, it does make us numb. By “culture” I’m talking about the 24-7 force- feed of movies, music, television, Internet, youtubes, youporns, cell phones, iPods, iPads, sports of all kinds at all hours, right-wing news, left-wing news, celebrity news, texts, tweets, emails, and all the rest of it, and that’s even before we get into the numbing effects of the huge array of pharmaceuticals available to us, legal or otherwise.
Cadets, I think this avalanche of electronica, entertainment, and media needs a name, so let me suggest that we call it the Fantasy Industrial Complex.
When you boil it down, it’s pretty clear that the Fantasy Industrial Complex is mostly someone trying to sell us something-a product, a political agenda, a lifestyle, an alleged means to a more beautiful version of ourselves. Or what may be even worse, it’s selling us, our vital statistics in terms of purchasing power and preference, so that we can be targeted by marketers with ever more finely calibrated accuracy.
Thanks to the Fantasy Industrial Complex, I think there’s a strong argument to be made that we often don’t know what’s real anymore. To a signficant extent, our lives take place in the realm of fantasy, triviality, and materialism, and our senses and mental capacity become numbed as a result.
Well, what’s wrong with being numb; with being comfortably numb, as the song says. What’s wrong with being the functional equivalent of fat and happy, of cruising along in the prolonged adolescence that seems to be the ideal human condition as rendered by the Fantasy Industry? Nothing, maybe, until reality comes along and slaps us in the face: the death of someone close to us, say, or serious illness, or extreme emotional suffering-trouble in our marriage, trouble with children, failed relationships, failure or frustration in our work, or a collective trauma such as we experienced on 9-11, 2001. In other words, the hard stuff of life as it’s actually lived.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Houston Media Darling Slammed for Brady Violations; Video of Kerrville Cop Slamming Woman Face Down Onto Concrete

From Grits for Breakfast:

Cold Justice: Years-old Brady violations by TV prosecutor revealed in habeas proceeding

Big news on the Brady front featuring Texas' premier legal TV star, from the Houston Chronicle:
A Beaumont judge who decided that David Mark Temple deserves a new trial in the 1999 slaying of his pregnant wife cited 36 instances of prosecutorial misconduct in his ruling, most of which are tied to legendary former Harris County prosecutor Kelly Siegler.

Because evidence that could have helped his defense was withheld — before, during and after Temple's 2007 trial — attorneys for the Katy man showed that he was denied a fair trial, according to the ruling by state District Judge Larry Gist.

A Kerrville cop slammed a young woman with her hands cuffed behind her back face down on the concrete last November, breaking her jaw in four places and knocking out six teeth. You can see the video on WOIA, the NBC affiliate in San Antonio. 
Patrick O'Fiel and I have sued the officer in federal court in San Antonio for violating 42 USC 1983.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Poseur Green Beret Mayor Jack Pratt and City Council Screw Kerrville Again

I think all the members of the Kerrville City Council except Bonnie White think the citizens are idiots. They rushed through a $9MM certificate of obligation to buy 105 acres of land from a Cailloux Foundation subsidiary, who was to build a sports complex off Holdsworth Drive. When I wrote an open letter to the mayor and other members pointing out the obvious fact that the contract was illegal for failure to require competitive bids, and to obtain an independent appraisal, and told them they needed to get an opinion from the Attorney General, council backed down. They - or more accurately, city attorney Mike Hayes and city manager Todd Parton huddled with Cailloux's Ben Modisett and rewrote the deal as a "gift" to the city.

When Bonnie White protested that Parton and Hayes withdrew the city's request for the AG opinion, and charged off and redid the deal without being asked or authorized by council, the reaction was to tell her to mind her own business - as if being educated and active in a multimillion project isn't something a council member shouldn't do.

The Daily Times today quotes council member Gary Stork basically telling Bonnie White to be quiet and mind her own business. He also said that Hayes and Parton were regularly emailing and talking to council members to get this deal done - do I see an Open Meeting Act violation here?

Mayor Jack Pratt - the poseur manqué badass Army Green Beret (who actually was a personnel clerk - what vets call a REMF) - after the back room deal was already done - said the real reason for the project was to give the little children a place to play baseball where the evil drug dealers couldn't get to them. Like we don't already have places for the children to play. I don't know what it is about Kerrville that its voters elect a fraud like Pratt.

There's also a high level city employee with his office on the second floor of the new city hall and a six figure plus income  whose house is not registered on the tax rolls, so it's a safe bet he doesn't pay any taxes. Which is apropos of this crowd that seems to think they are royalty, and we, the peasants are here to support them.

What Pratt and his flunkies have done is to get the city $9 Million under false pretenses, that Kerrville residents are on the hook for.

Peasants arise - it's time to get out the pitchforks!!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Kerrville City Attorney Wrote in March, 2015 that Cailloux Sports Field Deal Required Competitive Bids

I attended the City Council meeting Tuesday evening when they voted to issue a $9 million certificate of obligation (bond) to build a sports complex we don't need. There has been a lot of controversy over the deal, where the city will buy a 125 acre tract south of Holdsworth Dr. from what appears to be a for profit company, Cailloux Foundation Properties, LLC, a Texas limited liability company, and have  Cailloux build athletic fields, bleachers, restrooms, etc. Total cost: $9 Million. It is impossible to tell from the contract how much is for the land, and how much for the construction. The city will not get competitive bids on the construction, or an independent appraisal on the land, as required by Local Govt. Code. It is a flagrant disregard for the law.

As reported by the Kerrville Daily Times, after I restated my concerns at Tuesday’s council meeting, Jack Pratt, mayor and imaginary Vietnam vet/Green Beret, responded, “We respect your opinion, but we’ve had four other lawyers who say the opposite.”
Mike Hayes also said Tuesday he is confident the contract of sale is legal.
“To suggest that I would put a contract in place or draft a contract because I’m on the second floor of City Hall is an insult to my ability, my training and my ethics, and I resent that,” Hayes said.

Well, that is exactly what Mr. Hayes has done. I have obtained documents from the city which include this jewel, an email he wrote to Ben Modisett at Cailloux:
"Because municipal funds are involved, my analysis so far indicates we need some form of public bidding via ch. 252, Local Govt Code...."

What is it with Kerrville? The citizens claim to be conservative, Republican, God fearing people, but they allow the community to be led and represented by a fraud who claims he was a Special Forces (Green Beret) soldier who did four or five tours in Vietnam, when he was a personnel clerk, and the closest he got to the action was an air-conditioned office in Saigon - for six weeks!

This is the kind of corruption that is commonplace in some of the border counties in South Texas. It's shocking that it happens here, with such an educated electorate.

My friends from other cities and states ask me what in the hell is wrong with Kerrville.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Some real combat vets opinions of Kerrville Mayor Jack Pratt

Here's what they have to say at This Ain't Hell But You Can See It From Here about Kerrville's own poseur war hero:

MrBill sends us a link to the San Antonio Express News that tells the story of Jack Pratt, Junior, the mayor of Kerrville who won his office proclaiming that he was 4-tour Vietnam Special Forces veteran. He started telling that tale more than three years ago. Folks started wondering about it recently, and so they got a FOIA:

His military records indicate he spent nearly eight years in the Army but just seven weeks in Vietnam as a personnel supervisor before leaving the service as a staff sergeant in 1971.

Pratt, 73, denied that he embellished his resume but declined to provide documents to substantiate his claimed achievements.

“I’m not going to help you with any of this because you’re trying to crucify me,” he said last week. “I don’t need to confirm my personal history.”

National Personnel Records Center documents say Pratt was a radio operator in Germany in 1964, a personnel sergeant in Thailand from 1967 to 1969 and in Vietnam from May 25 to July 15, 1971.

Pratt blames politics for the sudden scrutiny – but you know, if I was running for office and one of the reasons I was telling voters that they should vote for me is because of my military service, I’d have documentation in my pocket – and I’d make sure the NPRC has everything correct. The last thing I’d do is drag this thing out.

But, Jack Pratt appears to be nothing more than another Flemron Dickey – it looks like he has also embellished his education credentials and his work experience, as well as his career as a personal clerk that morphed into a Special Forces killer dude and seven weeks became four years. By the way, Kerrville, speaking from experience, the first thing the phonies do is blame the military’s record-keeping. The second thing they do is blame politics (or some other haters) for the sudden scrutiny. They never provide documentation to exonerate themselves (so you look like you’re on a witch hunt). They always keep digging hoping you’ll get tired of beating a dead horse before they get tired of digging.


Why do the voters in Kerrville, who claim to be so patriotic and love the real combat vets, allow a phony like this to represent their town as mayor?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Kerrville Railroad Commision rams through $9M bond issue for Cailloux athletic complex

I call it the Railroad Commission because they railroaded a fraudulent ordinance through by misrepresenting the nature and legality of the contract that is would fund.
The City Council voted 3-1 last night (Bonnie White dissenting) to issue $9,000,0000 in debt obligations, supposedly to acquire an athletic field in some supposedly undetermined location. Mayor Jack Pratt struggled comically to claim that the debt has nothing to do with the contract the city signed to buy 105 acres south of Holdsworth Dr. for $9,000,000. Under the contract, the seller, Cailloux Foundation Properties, LLC, a Texas limited liability company, would construct baseball fields, buildings and so on. But Pratt claimed the bond deal was "not tied to any specific contract," and the approved funds could be used to build a a project "anywhere by anybody."

When Bonnie White moved to postpone voting on the bond until the city gets an opinion from the Attorney General on the contract's legality, Pratt shut down any debate, claiming that the bond issue had nothing to do with the Cailloux deal.

I commented on the illegality of the whole deal - the contract violates the Local Govt. Code requirements that a city obtain competitive bids for any construction contract, and obtain an independent appraisal on the land. Pratt admitted that he approved the contract without first getting an independent appraisal. When I pressed him on it, he got very defensive, about like he does when his claims to be a badass Special Forces operator who did five tours in Vietnam, when he was in fact a personnel clerk. He made these claims to get elected, which raises the possibility that he violated the Stolen Valor Act by profiting from his false claims. See Kerrville mayor accused of inflating his Vietnam service record.

He even made the wall of shame at This Ain't Hell but You Can See it From Here:

Pratt claimed that the appraisal paid for by Cailloux was an independent appraisal. When challenged, he said, "Mr. Ellison, I'm going to give you this answer. You have threatened to sue the city, and I'm not going to answer that question because of possible legal proceedings." It reminded me of a criminal suspect taking the fifth.

The silver lining, if there is one, is that the mayor and council members publicly stated on the record that they will not spend any of the money until they get the AG's opinion. Even so, they have committed the city to a huge liability, which may well limit its ability to borrow for projects that are necessary or at least beneficial to the city, something that might bring in some good jobs and increase the tax base.

One more interesting item - Councilman Gary Stork commented that before the meeting that Mike Hayes, the city attorney, had been emailing council members about the bond issue. Does this violate the  Open Meetings Act? 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

City Bond Boondoggle - Kerrville gets snookered

The Kerrville City Council is voting tonight to approve issuing bonds that will commit the taxpayers to $9,000,000 in debt, to buy 105 acres of raw land from Cailloux Foundation Properties, LLC, a Texas limited liability company, on which Cailloux will build soccer and baseball fields and associated improvements. This comes to $86,124 per acre, for land that Cailloux's own appraiser values at $16,561 per acre.

Below is an open letter that I have sent to Mayor Pratt and the council members:

Attorney at Law
Broadway Bank Bldg.
500 Main St. Suite J
Kerrville, Texas 78028
Phone: (830) 792-5601
Facsimile: (830) 792-5602

Board Certified in Civil Trial Law                                          E-Mail: rellison@richellison.com and Personal Injury Trial Law,
and Criminal Law
Texas Board of Legal Specialization

June 9, 2015
Kerrville Mayor Jack Pratt
Councilman Stephen P. Fine
Councilwoman Bonnie White
Councilman Gary Stork
Councilman Gene Allen
701 Main St.
Kerrville, TX 78028

Re:       Contract of Sale Between Cailloux Foundation Properties, LLC and City of Kerrville, Texas (Youth Athletic Complex)

Dear Mayor Pratt and Council Members:

I have obtained Todd Parton’s letter asking Senator Fraser to request an opinion from the Attorney General on the legality of the no-bid land purchase/construction contract. I have also obtained the appraisal report by Valbridge Property Advisors dated April 29, 2015.

I have discovered a new problem with this whole deal. Local Government Code § 252.051 provides “A municipality may not purchase property wholly or partly with bond proceeds until the municipality obtains an independent appraisal of the property’s market value.” Has the City complied with this law? I will return to this issue in a moment.

Mr. Parton represents to Sen. Fraser and the OAG that the City’s contract is with the Cailloux Foundation, a “local nonprofit foundation.” This is not accurate. The contract is with “Cailloux Foundation Properties, LLC, a Texas limited liability company.”

Furthermore, Mr. Parton’s letter confirms what we already knew – this is a construction contract, not a contract to purchase land. There is an attempted sleight of hand, to compare this to a contract to buy land with an existing building on it. However, the letter admits that the contract is for “both the acquisition of land and the building of the complex.” The letter is replete with references to “newly constructed improvements,” “construction work,” and so on.

Mayor Jack Pratt et al.
June 9, 2015
Page 2

To return to the issue of the lack of an independent appraisal, which is required by Govt. Code § 252.051, it appears that the City is relying on an appraisal paid for by the seller. I also question whether any of you have even seen the appraisal report, and if so, how you concluded this was a good deal for the city. The appraisal was made for “Mr. Ben Modisett, Cailloux Foundation.” It states “The Cailloux Foundation is the client in this assignment. The Foundation and any assigns are the sole intended user of the appraisal and report. The intended use is for charitable contributions.” In other words, the appraiser disclaims that anyone except its client can rely on its report. Further, how is this a charitable contribution when the City is paying $9,000,000?

Even more troubling, using the seller’s own appraisal values, it is obvious that the City is grossly overpaying. Valbridge appraised the land in two sections, as follows:
304.12 ac. - $4,410,000          $14,502 per acre
70.65 ac. - $1,170,000             $16,561   per acre

The Contract of Sale requires the City to pay $9,000,000 for 104.5 acres, which comes to $86,124 per acre. ($9,000,000/ 105 ac). If it paid the appraisal value of $16,561 per acre, that would come to $1,738,905. The City is paying $7,610,095 more than the appraised value. Why? Is this difference the cost of the construction?

Mr. Parton told Zeke MacCormack at the San Antonio Express that he would recommend the council members approve the $9,000,000 certificate of obligation at tonight’s meeting, without waiting for the Attorney General’s opinion. What is the rush? Why has there been no due diligence? Would you spend your own money without getting an independent appraisal? Would you pay five times market value for land? 

Sincerely yours,

                                                                                    /S/ Richard L. Ellison

Cc:       Brenda Craig, City Secretary
            Mark Armstrong, KDT
            Zeke MacCormack


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Kerrville Daily Times does its job - more on Green Beret Wannabe Mayor Jack Pratt

The front page headline of the Memorial Day weekend edition of Kerrville Daily Times is "Questions remain over Pratt's military service record; mayor says mudslinging is politically motivated."

Hill Country Veterans Center director Alan Hill, a Vietnam vet, is quoted: "He personally told me three times he was a Green Beret with four tours in Vietnam.... He never was at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, for the Special Forces training; he never went to airborne school, which he would of had to go to get accepted in the Special Forces. But now he is saying he was attached to or on a temporary duty assignment with the special forces. Does he have those orders?"

Pratt did not return phone messages from the KDT reporters Victoria Aldrich and Caitlin Clark.

Here's what they have to say at "This ain't hell but you can see it from here" :

Pratt blames politics for the sudden scrutiny – but you know, if I was running for office and one of the reasons I was telling voters that they should vote for me is because of my military service, I’d have documentation in my pocket – and I’d make sure the NPRC has everything correct. The last thing I’d do is drag this thing out.
It looks like he has also embellished his education credentials and his work experience, as well as his career as a personal clerk that morphed into a Special Forces killer dude and seven weeks became four years. By the way, Kerrville, speaking from experience, the first thing the phonies do is blame the military’s record-keeping. The second thing they do is blame politics (or some other haters) for the sudden scrutiny. They never provide documentation to exonerate themselves (so you look like you’re on a witch hunt). They always keep digging hoping you’ll get tired of beating a dead horse before they get tired of digging.
Our friends at Special Forces Poser Patrol have his records

A real veteran whose records had been screwed up would show you the documents right now to exonerate him – a phony will tell you that an ex-wife burned them, or that a flood a few years back washed them away. An honorable phony (there are a few) would admit that they lied and apologize right now.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Another Secret Squirrel in Kerrville - Mayor Jack Pratt

Another Secret Squirrel in Kerrville?
Kerrville mayor accused of inflating his Vietnam service record

From San Antonio Express News (Zeke MacCormack)
Alan Hill, director of the Hill Country Veterans Center, says Kerrville Mayor Jack Pratt twice told him that Pratt had served four tours in Vietnam with the Green Berets, claims not supported by Pratt's military records. "He's a wannabe" special forces member. Hill said of Pratt, who denies embellishing his resume.
His military records indicate he spent nearly eight years in the Army but just seven weeks in Vietnam as a personnel supervisor before leaving the service as a staff sergeant in 1971.

Pratt claims to have a masters in business administration from the University of Hawaii. Officials there say they have no record of him attending its Shidler College of Business.
National Personnel Records Center documents say Pratt was a radio operator in Germany in 1964, a personnel sergeant in Thailand from 1967 to 1969 and in Vietnam from May 25 to July 15, 1971.

The mayor owes the community an explanation, City Councilman Gene Allen said, calling the inconsistencies “alarming.”
Pratt spoke of mutiple tours in Vietnam with U.S. Special Forces in a candidate forum that year, Paul Wampler recalled, noting, “There was considerable talk and skepticism in town at the time about Mr. Pratt's claims.”

When I caught Herbert C. Williamson III lying about being a heroic chopper pilot in Vietnam, I sent the  information to the publishers of the website This Ain't Hell But You Can See It From Here. They labeled Herb the Secret Squirrel. These blowhards that are so eager to describe their exploits as Seals, Green Berets, Delta Force and so on are suddenly all hush hush when they get caught, claiming their activities an status are classified. Well, if that's true, why have they been running their mouths about it? 

Monday, May 11, 2015

New Deputy U.S. Attorney General for Civil Rights - Vanita Gupta

Vanita Gupta Is Setting The Tone For Obama's Civil Rights Division
From Huffington Post
This is a very good article about the lawyer who heads the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. I have not personally met Ms. Gupta but I have talked with her many times and corresponded about the asset forfeiture racket in Texas, especially during the Ron Sutton regime in the Hill Country. I see that she headed the investigation into the Ferguson, MO. police department, and she is interested in the militarization of police departments.

Maybe she will take a look at some of the police brutality in our fair Hill Country.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Life is hard, but it's harder if you're stupid

Great Quotes About Crime and the Justice System
I've been reading the classic crime novel by George V. Higgins, 'The Friends of Eddie Coyle.' It has some of the best dialogue in any fiction. Here are my favorite two examples:

One criminal to another: 'This life's hard, but it's harder if you're stupid.'

And this exchange between an old defense lawyer to a federal prosecutor discussing how the system grinds on and nothing really changes:

'And in another year or so,' Clark said, 'he'll be in again, here or someplace else, and I'll be talking to some other bastard, or maybe even you again, and we'll try another one and he'll go away again. Is there any end to this shit? Does anything ever change in this racket? '
'Hey Foss, the prosecutor said, taking Clark by the arm, 'of course it changes. Don't take it so hard. Some of us die, the rest of us get older, new guys come along, old guys disappear. It changes every day.'
'It's hard to notice, though,' Clark said.
'It is, the prosecutor said, 'it certainly is.'

And the wheel goes round and round.

Accused of Buying Sex Shop to Launder Money

A suspended Connecticut Roman Catholic priest who authorities say dealt pounds of methamphetamine and bought a sex shop intending to launder his drug money will spend another three years in prison after being sentenced on Thursday.
Federal investigators said Wallin had associates in California send him methamphetamine beginning in late 2008 or early 2009. By 2011, Wallin's partners were sending him one to three pounds of meth a month and Wallin was running the drug operation out of his apartment in Waterbury, investigators said.
Wallin also bought the "Land of Oz & Dorothy's Place" adult video and sex toy shop in North Haven and apparently intended to launder drug proceeds that totaled in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, federal agents said in court documents.

Rivers, who has since returned to Michigan, fell victim to civil asset forfeiture, a legal tool that has been criticized as a violation of due process and a contradiction of the idea that criminal defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Asset forfeiture allows police to seize property they suspect is related to criminal activity, without even charging its owner with a crime. The charges are filed against the property itself -- including cash, jewelry, cars and houses -- which can then be sold, with part of the proceeds flowing back to the department that made the seizure.

“We don’t have to prove that the person is guilty,” Sean Waite, the agent in charge at the DEA's Albuquerque's office, told the Journal. “It’s that the money is presumed to be guilty.”

Thanks to a new, cheapo way of manufacturing meth, labs are sprouting up in motels around the country—and blowing up next to unwitting guests.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Sleazy and Colorful Side of Personal Injury Law

I know some really good personal injury trial lawyers in San Antonio, who never seem to get hired on the big personal injury cases in the Eagle Ford oil field. There are dozens of catastrophic injury and death cases every year. Could it be that runners are getting to the victims and channeling them to a few sleazy lawyers willing to pay cash up front, which, by the way, is a felony?

Here's a case on point from today's San Antonio Express:
Lawyers’ case runner ordered to stay in jail

A federal magistrate judge in San Antonio has ordered Elpidio “Pete” Gongora Jr., 46, detained pretrial because he is a flight risk.

"After he got a visit from the FBI and IRS in January, the so-called “case runner” kept soliciting cases for lawyers in San Antonio and spending clients’ settlement money on himself, the agent testified. And he expanded, forging relations with lawyers in Austin, Albuquerque, New Mexico and Little Rock, Arkansas, FBI agent Carol Mace said.
The hearing also gave a glimpse into the seedy world of personal injury practice — where chiropractors, body shops and others collude with lawyers to solicit clients. Solicitation by lawyers, directly or indirectly, is known as “baratry” and is illegal in Texas, but rarely prosecuted.

Gongora ran the San Antonio law offices of Ronald Ray Higgins, Charles “Ken” Harrell and Patrick E. Clarke.

He paid the lawyers a “flat fee” of $5,000 to $6,000 a month, and in exchange he was allowed to track down clients and settle cases on their behalf with no supervision, agent Mace testified. Some client names came from accident reports, tow truck drivers, insurance companies, a body shop Gongora owned and an entity he ran through relatives called Elite Rehabilitation Services, Mace said.

In other cases, Gongora bought lists of people involved in accidents from others for $1,400 to $1,500.

Gongora is charged with tax evasion and bankruptcy fraud stemming from what investigators believe was a series of thefts — adding up to more than $1 million — from proceeds collected as lawsuit settlements or earmarked for doctors and therapists who treated the plaintiffs involved. He allegedly lived a lavish lifestyle, spending money on exotic cars, high-end homes, $28,000 on Spurs tickets and $26,000 on his daughter’s quinceañera at the Club at Sonterra (which he allegedly disguised as expenses for an immigration seminar).

Help Wanted: Looking for Drivers
I had dinner with my wife in San Antonio at La Fonda Saturday night. In the parking lot across the street I saw some really classy cars decorated with dummies of accident victims:

I'm looking to hire good drivers for my new fleet of cars advertising my personal injury practice. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Holding Rogue Cops Accountable - 42 U.S.C. 1983

Police arrest a man acting bizarrely and load him, shackled at the ankles and wrist, into a police van. When they arrive at the station, he  is unconscious, his neck broken. A few days later he dies.

A cop arrests a woman for DWI and handcuffs her wrists behind her back. When she is uncooperative and supposedly resists, he slams her face down, breaking her jaw and shattering several teeth. 

What, if anything, can the victim or his family do? Do the police get a free ride? 

The answer is - No. Individual police may be sued under a federal statute, found at 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983, titled “Civil Action for Deprivation of Rights.” It’s sometimes called the Ku Klux Klan Act, because Congress enacted it after the Civil War to stop lynchings, beatings and other crimes against blacks. 

The Statute: 
The pertinent text is here:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress . . . . 

The statute allows recovery for actual damages, punitive damages, attorneys fees and costs. 

In the two cases above, the officers violated the suspects’ Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. 

What must Plaintiff prove? 

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals pattern jury instructions states what the plaintiff must prove:

Plaintiff claims Defendant violated the Fourth Amendment by using excessive force in making the arrest on [date]. The Constitution prohibits the use of unreasonable or excessive force while making an arrest, even when the arrest is otherwise proper. To prevail on a Fourth Amendment excessive-force claim, Plaintiff must prove the following by a preponderance of the evidence:

  1. an injury; that the injury resulted directly from the use of force that was excessive to the need; and
  2. 3. that the excessiveness of the force was objectively unreasonable.26
  3. To determine whether the force used was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment, you must carefully balance the nature and quality of the intrusion on Plaintiff’s right to be protected from excessive force against the government's right to use some degree of physical coercion or threat of coercion to make an arrest. Not every push or shove, even if it may later seem unnecessary in hindsight, violates the Fourth Amendment. In deciding this issue, you must pay careful attention to the facts and circumstances, including the severity of the crime at issue, whether [Plaintiff posed an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others, and whether [he/she] was actively resisting or attempting to evade arrest.
  4. Finally, the reasonableness of a particular use of force is based on what a reasonable officer would do under the circumstances and not on this defendant's state of mind. You must decide whether a reasonable officer on the scene would view the force as reasonable, without the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. This inquiry must take into account the fact that police officers are sometimes forced to make split-second judgments—in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving—about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.
How do you collect a judgment against and individual officer?
The city or county won't be liable for an individual cop's actions. Getting a judgment against them is a whole other subject, and generally requires a systematic pattern of abuse. However, most cities and counties are insured, and their officers are additional insureds under the liability policies. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Cops and Soldiers Gone Wild

Video shows Round Rock cop knocking DWI female suspect out
A man took cell phone video showing a Texas police officer trying to arrest a drunk woman. After resisting, the cop slams the woman on the ground knocking her out. In front of her six year old daughter.
I wasn't able to link to the story but you can see the video at USA Today's website. What is it with some of these Texas cops? Are they too pansy to handle a woman suspect without knocking her out? I have a similar case against a Kerrville cop, that is probably worse - my client had her hands cuffed behind her back when the cop slammed her face first into the concrete, breaking her jaw in two places.

DEA Head Takes the Fall for Sex Parties
The head of the Drug Enforcement Agency, Michele Leonhart, is expected to resign in the wake of a scandal involving agents using government money to hire prostitutes at a party in Colombia. The agents also spent money renting undercover apartments, which were also used for parties with prostitutes.

FBI admits flaws in hair analysis over decades
The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.

Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country’s largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence.

Sex, Drugs, and Dead Soldiers
As American military operations have ramped up across Africa, reaching a record 674 missions in 2014, reports of excessive drinking, sex with prostitutes, drug use, sexual assaults, and other forms of violence by AFRICOM personnel have escalated, even though many of them have been kept under wraps for weeks or months, sometimes even for years.
In recent years, allegations of widespread sex crimes have dogged the U.S. military.  A Pentagon survey estimated that 26,000 members of the armed forces were sexually assaulted in 2012, though just one in 10 of those victims reported the assaults.  In 2013, the number of personnel reporting such incidents jumped by 50 percent to 5,518 and last year reached nearly 6,000.  Given the gross underreporting of sexual assaults, it’s impossible to know how many of these crimes involved AFRICOM personnel, but documents examined by TomDispatch suggests a problem does indeed exist.

In August 2011, for example, a Marine with Joint Enabling Capabilities Command assigned to AFRICOM was staying at a hotel in Germany, the site of the command’s headquarters.  He began making random room-to-room calls that were eventually traced.  According to court martial documents examined by TomDispatch, the recipient of one of them said the “subject matter of the phone call essentially dealt with a solicitation for a sexual tryst.”

About a week after he began making the calls, the Marine, who had previously been a consultant for the CIA, began chatting up a boy in the hotel lounge.  After learning that the youngster was 14 years old, “the conversation turned to oral sex with men and the appellant asked [the teen] if he had ever been interested in oral sex with men.  He also told [the teen] that if the appellant or any of his male friends were aroused, they would have oral sex with one another,” according to legal documents.  The boy attempted to change the subject, but the Marine moved closer to him, began “rubbing his [own] crotch area through his shorts,” and continued to talk to him “in graphic detail about sexual matters and techniques” before the youngster left the lounge.  The Marine was later court-martialed for his actions and convicted of making a false official statement, as well as "engaging in indecent liberty with a child" -- that is, engaging in an act meant to arouse or gratify sexual desire while in a child’s presence.

Officials Investigating After U.S. Marshal Rips Phone From Hands Of Recording Bystander

The video was uploaded to YouTube on April 19 in South Gate, California, within Los Angeles County. In the clip, recorded from a building across the street, a bystander appears to be filming and talking to uniformed officials responding to a report of a biker gang meeting. A man wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying a weapon then grabs her phone, slamming it to the ground before kicking it down the street.

Man Beaten By Deputies After Horseback Chase Settles For $650,000
A California man will receive $650,000 in a settlement after police beat him following a chase in which he tried to elude officers on horseback. Pusok fell to the ground after a deputy shot him with a Taser. A video recorded by a news helicopter then shows officers punching and kicking him dozens of times over roughly two minutes. Pusok was taken to a hospital, and two officers were also treated for minor injuries, the LA Times reports.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

More Cops and Blacks Stories

6 Baltimore police officers suspended in Freddie Gray case
Man injured during arrest in west Baltimore dies
Freddie Gray, 25, was critically injured after his arrest April 12. He died early Sunday morning at Shock Trauma. According to the family's lawyer, Gray suffered a severe spinal cord injury.
What was his crime?
According to a police charging document obtained by the WBAL-TV 11 News I-Team on Monday, officers arrested Gray on a west Baltimore street because he "fled unprovoked upon noting police presence in the neighborhood."
"The officers made eye contact, he ran, and the officers pursued," Batts said.
Officers chased Gray down the street and caught him.
"The officer then noticed a knife clipped to the inside of his pants pocket. The defendant was arrested without force or incident," according to the charging document.
The officer then writes in the charging document that Gray suffered a medical emergency during transport but it doesn't say how, where or when.

Broken Taillight Policing
When cops stop black drivers for minor traffic violations, it’s often a pretext for something more sinister. Jamelle Bouie

From sociologists Charles R. Epp, Steven Maynard-Moody, and Donald Haider-Markel in their massive study of traffic stops in the Kansas City metropolitan area, Pulled Over: How Police Stops Define Race and Citizenship. The authors identify two kinds of stops: traffic safety and investigatory. In the former, drivers are stopped for clearly breaking traffic laws, from speeding to driving under the influence. These stops are straightforward. Officers explain the offense, follow a procedure, and issue a ticket.

There are racial disparities in police stops—blacks are stopped twice as often as whites—but they aren’t related to traffic safety offenses, in which cops exercise a little less discretion and violations are equal within groups. Where we see a difference—even after we adjust for driving time (on average, blacks drive more and longer than whites)—is in investigatory stops. In these, drivers are stopped for exceedingly minor violations—driving too slowly, malfunctioning lights, failure to signal—which are used as pretext for investigations of the driver and the vehicle. Sanctioned by courts and institutionalized in most police departments, investigatory stops are aimed at “suspicious” drivers and meant to stop crime, not traffic offenses. And as the authors note, “virtually all of the wide racial disparity in the likelihood of being stopped is concentrated in one category of stops: discretionary stops for minor violations of the law.”

Here’s how one black man described his experience:

I was driving a ’79 Cadillac Seville, white, that I was fixing up. You know, I’d been working on restoring it, you know, it was looking pretty good. I had really taken it down to test it out. So he pulled me over and he said, you know, regular procedure “driver’s license and registration” and whatever. And he said that I was going 67 in a 65 mile-per-hour zone, or something like a couple miles over the speed limit, that is the reason why stopped me. And I said, “Well, my speedometer said 65.” He said, “Well, because you got bigger tires and stuff like that on the car, the car is traveling a lot … it travels a lot faster.” I think he said then that whatever the speedometer is saying, you are going faster. And he stopped me for that and while he stopped me he was talking to me and he looked in there and I had a cell phone, I had a car phone sitting in there. And then he said, “Do you have any kind of drugs or guns in the car?” And I said, “No.” He said, “Do you mind if I search the car?” and I told him, “No, I don’t mind.” …
So he told me to go on the front of the car and put your hands on the front of the car … [H]e looked around and everything, and when he got through he came back and he didn’t find anything, and he came back and said, “The reason why we checked your car is we’ve been having problems with people trafficking drugs up and down the highway.” So that was that.