Archive for the ‘Criminal Justice System’ Category
This jerk pastor should be arrested for threatening and inciting violence against the President of the United States. A few years time in a federal pen might sober him up.
SMOKING GUN: The Florida pastor who ignited an international furor by threatening to burn a pile of Korans has applied his subtle touch to the 2012 presidential campaign by constructing a gallows from which a likeness of President Barack Obama now hangs in effigy.
The display in the front yard of Terry Jones’s Dove World Outreach Center (DWOC) in Gainesville features a dummy wearing an Obama mask hanging from a yellow noose. Along with an American flag and a rainbow-striped gay pride flag, the scene includes an Uncle Sam dummy and a child’s doll hanging from the right hand of the Obama figure.
Nearby, the words “Obama is Killing America” are printed on a trailer. So, it appears, the creepy Jones is returning the favor.
Despite the small size of his following, Jones has had an outsized impact due to his inflammatory (and shameless) tactics, which included his 2010 threat to burn Korans on the anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks.
The DWOC has been criticized for cult-like rules detailed in an “Academy Rulebook” prepared by Jones’s wife. Fox example, prospective ministers were directed to cut off most contact with family members. “Family occasions like wedding, funerals or Birthdays are no exception to this rule,” students were warned. “No phone calls. Exceptions can be made under certain circumstances but only after receiving permission.”
It will be real interesting to see how well he gets along with his fellow inmates.
NY DAILY NEWS: A former NYPD narcotics detective snared in a corruption scandal testified it was common practice to fabricate drug charges against innocent people to meet arrest quotas.
The bombshell testimony from Stephen Anderson is the first public account of the twisted culture behind the false arrests in the Brooklyn South and Queens narc squads, which led to the arrests of eight cops and a massive shakeup.
Anderson, testifying under a cooperation agreement with prosecutors, was busted for planting cocaine, a practice known as “flaking,” on four men in a Queens bar in 2008 to help out fellow cop Henry Tavarez, whose buy-and-bust activity had been low.
“Tavarez was … was worried about getting sent back [to patrol] and, you know, the supervisors getting on his case,” he recounted at the corruption trial of Brooklyn South narcotics Detective Jason Arbeeny.
“I had decided to give him [Tavarez] the drugs to help him out so that he could say he had a buy,” Anderson testified last week in Brooklyn Supreme Court.
Hey! Because Casey Anthony was acquitted, should we do away juries, the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the Constitution, and let public opinion decide cases?
We could save a lot of money on trials by just letting the media try cases and having Gallup conduct polls to determine verdicts.
Or, trials could be conducted like reality shows, similar to Donald Trump’s ‘The Apprentice.’
But instead of “You’re Fired!” the punch line could be: “You’re Executed!”
In an interview with Joy Behar, the lead prosecutor in the Casey Anthony case Jeff Ashton said “I thought we put on a pretty strong case”; and “I think the evidence was pretty strong.”
Well, gee, that’s not quite good enough, is it — especially when you are trying to put someone to death.
Frankly, a “pretty strong case” and “pretty strong evidence” isn’t even enough to convict someone of a traffic violation.
Just about everyone thinks they know Casey Anthony had something to do with killing her baby.
So 90 percent of America thinks she should have been convicted, of something.
“Caylee deserves justice” is the refrain. “Someone needs to pay for the death of little Caylee.”
But if justice for the victim is the standard for conviction, we would have a 100% conviction rate.
There’s no way to get justice for Caylee. She’s dead. That can never be undone, even if we put the killer to death.
I’m 95 percent certain Casey Anthony had something to do with the death of her child.
But I’m not putting her to death based on “thinking” she did it, or “suspecting” she did it.
And then there’s the question of: “Did what?”
Was this an accident followed by a cover-up that snowballed out of control? Or was this really premeditated first degree murder?
This was not a hung jury. This was not a divided jury. All 12 jurors agreed that the evidence presented was insufficient to convict.
One of the jurors says it made her “sick to my stomach” to acquit Casey, but she had no choice but to acquit based on what the state presented. To convict someone of a crime, the case must be proved “beyond any reasonable doubt,” meaning “to the exclusion of all other reasonable scenarios” that fit the facts presented, and “to a moral certitude.”
I agree with Ashton. He put on a “pretty strong case.” The circumstantial evidence he presented was also “pretty strong.”
But the defense’s closing argument plausibly challenged every piece of forensic evidence presented by the prosecution and proposed plausible alternative scenarios.
I did not have to agree with what the defense put forward. All I had to think was: “Yeah, there’s a 10% chance that’s true.”
The problems are:
1) We have no cause of death
2) We don’t know where Caylee died
3) No DNA evidence
4) No witnesses
5) No murder weapon
6) No direct evidence connecting Casey to the death of Caylee
7) No plausible motive.
8) No evidence that Casey was a bad mom
9) Lots of evidence Casey loved Caylee and was a good mom
So because almost everyone suspects Casey is guilty of something (but isn’t quite sure of what), should we now throw out the jury system?
Should we replace the jury system and get rid of the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the Constitution and replace all this with verdict by public opinion, like on American Idol?
Perhaps people could tweet in their vote and we could have verdicts that way.
The strongest evidence the prosecution put forward was the duct tape.
A big problem there was that the duct tape was just barely connected to the skull.
Perhaps the duct tape was used to wrap up the body after the death. Perhaps the duct tape was used to keep the child quiet while Casey partied and the child died by accident. Perhaps someone other than Casey applied the duct tape.
The other big piece of evidence was Casey not reporting her missing child for 31 days and her non-stop partying during that period.
Well, if the child died because of negligence, Casey might have gone into panic mode and tried to make the accident look like a murder. Or if her father George was somehow involved, perhaps he told her he’d take care of everything.
Again, who really knows?
No one really knows what happened to Caylee or how it happened.
Even the prosecution admits this.
So should we put Casey to death anyway . . . because most people “think” she’s guilty, of something?
I think she’s guilty of something. I just have no idea what.
Was it premeditated first degree murder? Was it negligent homicide or just some horrible accident she and her father George tried to cover up?
We don’t know. And we’ll never know.
I do know it makes zero sense for Casey to have intentionally murdered Caylee — however bad this circumstantial evidence looks (at first glance).
By all accounts, Casey was a good mom who loved her daughter. Had she wanted her freedom, all she had to do was leave Caylee with George and Cindy Anthony, who were happy to have Caylee around.
She could have left Caylee at George and Cindy’s and run away, leaving a note saying: “I just can’t handle being a mom.”
And that would have been the end of it. Casey would have her freedom.
If all Casey wanted was her freedom, does it make any sense that she would commit capital murder and face death or life in prison?
When I listened to Jose Baez’s opening statements implicating Casey’s father George Anthony and the meter man Roy Kronk as possible culprits in this case, I too thought this far-fetched. He also said Casey had been sexually molested by her father George and her brother Lee.
Baez’s case wasn’t helped when the judge would not allow much of this evidence into the trial. Baez looked like he was just throwing out a lot of wild allegations to get his client off.
But now Casey’s ex-finance Jesse Grund has stepped forward to say her brother Lee did attempt to have sex with Casey. He also says Cindy Anthony was very abusive toward Casey. Nor did he have anything good to say about George Anthony.
In an interview with Dr. Drew, Grund portrayed Casey as growing up in an abusive, dysfunctional home where she appears to have been the victim of sexual molestation (or attempted sexual molestation) by her brother Lee.
What does this have to do with Casey’s guilt or innocence?
Nothing — except that it may explain her pattern of habitual lying.
It’s well documented that children who grow up in abusive families often become habitual liars. They reflexively lie to protect themselves. They lie when they don’t have to lie. They lie when the truth would serve them better. They believe its safer, more often than not, to lie in answer to every question. That’s their reflexive defense mechanism.
So that’s a plausible explanation for all Casey’s lies — lies that often made no sense.
Is any of this true?
But it’s reasonable doubt. It’s a plausible alternative scenario.
Furthermore, Roy Kronk’s son says Kronk lied in the trial.
Kronk’s son Brandon Sparks says Kronk told him he had found Caylee’s remains in Nov. 2008 – several weeks before Kronk reported his finding to the police. Sparks says Kronk told him he was going to become rich and famous as a result of finding Casey’s remains.
Baez posited the theory that Kronk moved the remains and kept them at his home before deciding what to do to cash in on the finding. He then returned them to the site, or near the original site, and then reported the finding to the police. Brandon Sparks’ testimony seems to support the defense theory. The prosecution admits the remains were moved, but says by animals or water flow, or something.
Perhaps it was Kronk who murdered Caylee. At least that seemed to be the suggestion coming from Baez.
Kronk sure looks like a really creepy guy. His estranged son sure hates him and thinks he’s a really bad dude.
The problem the jury had was there were just too many questions, no real hard proof — just a lot of conjecture and theories proposed by the prosecution that seem plausible, that make sense, but don’t quite add up to proof.
All we really have is a dead body and no smoking gun, really no hard evidence at all.
Incredibly, we had a prosecution that wanted to put this young mother to death based on this evidence, or lack thereof.
I’m a death penalty skeptic to begin with. The government doesn’t do such a good job of delivering the mail or running car companies or balancing budgets. Why would I think this same government is doing a flawless job of sentencing people to death?
So far, 274 convictions in America have been overturned by DNA evidence, not available at the time of trial. Seventeen of these people had been sentenced to death before DNA proved their innocence and led to their release.
That’s how reliable the criminal justice system is.
Casey Anthony could easily be on death row right now, based on little more than speculation due to her odd behavior. Imagine if Casey had to rely on an overworked public defender.
Most people can’t afford to pay $500 or $1,000 per hour for a top-level criminal defense. Remember, the state was spending millions of taxpayer dollars to convict Casey of first degree murder. The state was sparing no expense.
Imagine if the brilliant and tireless Jose Baez had not stepped forward to volunteer most of his firm’s time. Casey managed to pay him and his team a grand total of $90,000 for three years of non-stop work, a period when he focused on little else but this case.
Had Baez not stepped forward to defend Casey (for almost no money), Casey would likely be on death row right now.
Thank God for Jose Baez. And thank God we had 12 jurors who listened carefully to Judge Belvin Perry’s instructions that the standard to convict is “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Given this standard, the jury had no choice but to acquit.
So, what do I think happened?
Well, I have no idea . . . and I followed this case quite closely.
My guess is Casey used chloroform to put Caylee to sleep so she could go and party.
Perhaps she used the duct tape to keep her baby quiet in case she woke up.
When she returned to the car from her partying, Caylee was dead, by accident. Too much chloroform, or something. So she had to dispose of the body.
Maybe that’s when the duct tape came into play — when Casey had to wrap up the body.
So that would probably qualify as aggravated manslaughter.
That would be my guess. If the prosecution had argued that, they might have gotten their conviction.
The big problem was going for the death penalty.
The prosecution also pointed out to the jury that child abuse by the mother that accidentally causes the death of a child, if that act of child abuse could reasonably be thought to lead to grave harm or death to the child, also constitutes first degree murder under Florida law. Hence, possibly also death in this case.
Hard to believe that’s true, but that’s what the prosecution argued. And that’s what Florida law seems to say.
The jury clearly did not believe Casey committed first degree murder.
To show how determined the prosecution was to kill Casey Anthony, here’s the text of their child abuse charge:
“CASEY MARIE ANTHONY, between the 15th day of June, 2008 and the 16th day of July, 2008, in said County and State, did knowingly and willfully, in violation of Florida Statute 827.03(2) cause great bodily harm, permanent disfigurement or permanent disability to CAYLEE MARIE ANTHONY, a child under 18 years of age, by intentionally inflicting physical injury upon CAYLEE MARIE ANTHONY, or by intentionally committing an act or actively encouraging another person to commit an act which could reasonably be expected to result in physical injury to CAYLEE MARIE ANTHONY.”
So if she was guilty of this, this also qualifies as first degree murder, according to the prosecution’s argument, and would qualify for the death penalty.
So not calling the police, dancing while Caylee was missing, none of that counts here. None of that was even in the prosecution’s list of crimes Casey may have committed.
The prosecutors were going for broke — first degree murder and death for Casey, nothing less.
The jury clearly did not like what the prosecution was trying to do, and did not buy it.
The problem with this case is not the jury. The problem is with the prosecution, for over-charging Casey.
This has become a huge problem with the criminal justice system in America. The government almost always over-charges.
The government’s strategy with over-charging is to so terrorize the defendant about what might happen if the case goes to trial that the defendant just agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge. So, instead of getting 30 years in prison, the defendant gets three years in prison, essentially as a reward for not forcing the state to go to trial and prove its case.
The problem with this is, sometimes (perhaps often; we don’t know) the defendant is innocent.
The defendant accepts the conviction on the lesser charge rather than move forward with the expense and risk trial and conviction on the absurd charge. So the defendant’s right to due process under the law is erased by the state’s over-charging tactic to terrorize the defendant into pleading guilty to a lesser charge.
How is this any different than forcing a confession out of someone by pointing a loaded gun at someone’s head and saying, “Sign this confession or I’ll pull the trigger”?
There’s really no moral difference. The practice of intentionally over-charging defendants should be outlawed.
But, for some reason, Jeff Ashton and his team of over-zealous prosecutors were unable to terrorize Casey Anthony into accepting a guilty plea on a lesser charge — perhaps because Casey really didn’t do it.
Perhaps she was protecting her father George. Who knows?
George certainly told many provable lies in this case. He clearly knew a lot more than he was telling us on the stand in court. A lot of fishy behavior going on in that family — that Baez tried to get into, but Judge Perry kept ruling out of including as evidence in the case.
Baez, though, was able to hint at enough dysfunction and lying on the part of George and Cindy Anthony, and on the part of meter reader Kronk, to cast enough suspicion on the state’s case — hence, reasonable doubt.
Now for a word about all the partying after the death of Caylee.
If Casey knew Caylee was dead due to some horrific accident that snowballed out of control and that she tried to cover up (perhaps with the help of her father George), why wouldn’t she try to get on with her life?
The prosecution told us that the hallmark of liars is to pretend nothing is wrong, to go on with life as usual.
Well, we know Casey is a liar. She was convicted of four counts of that. What we don’t fully know is exactly what she was lying about.
It’s also possible Casey knew she was probably going to be arrested and would go to jail very soon, possibly for a very long time, even if not on capital murder. So might as well party and live life until the boom is lowered.
The big mistake people make is thinking trials are about justice and a search for truth.
That’s not really what trials are about. The search for truth is what the investigation phase is about. Justice is supposed to be what the penalty phase is about.
Trials are about testing the state’s evidence and protecting the rights of the accused. The question in a trial is: Can the state prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, to a moral certitude, excluding all other reasonable scenarios and possibilities?
The burden of proof is on the prosecution, not the defense. The defense doesn’t have to prove anything.
Look to other countries if you want to find more accurate systems of justice.
China, no doubt, has a more accurate system of justice.
A place like China is more interested in convicting the criminal than protecting the rights of the accused. No doubt, fewer criminals get away with their crimes in places like China — though, no doubt, more innocent people are convicted as well in China. Justice is swift in a place like China.
We’ve opted for erring in favor or protecting the rights of the accused here in America.
In America, we believe it’s better for 100 guilty people to go free than for one innocent person to be wrongly convicted — especially in a death penalty case.
I like our system.
I strongly oppose the lynch mob mentality we saw from Nancy Grace and much of the media in this case.
Guilty or not, it’s my view that Casey Anthony is not an evil person. She clearly has some serious issues and problems. She’s certainly misguided, but not evil — not in the sense that John Wayne Gasey, Ted Bundy and people like that are truly evil.
In Casey’s case, something spun badly out of control. There was not one shred of evidence presented in this trial that she was an abusive mom, or a bad mom. All evidence showed that she was a mom who loved her child.
Mothers who love their children usually don’t kill them on purpose, unless they’re just crazy. If she’s crazy or if she just snapped and killed Caylee, the death penalty should not apply here either.
The death penalty (if we have it at all) is supposed to be reserved for the worst of the worst in our society — serial killers like John Wayne Gasey, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, the Green River Killer, the Zodiac killer, and people like that who kill just for the fun of it.
For the prosecution to treat little Casey Anthony as in the same moral category as John Wayne Gasey is just insane . . . even if she was guilty of what the prosecution was accusing her of, which is in doubt.
The jury, wisely, saw that. And the jury likely decided to punish Jeff Ashton and the prosecution for their blood-thirsty over-charging.
Glad to hear Jeff Ashton is retiring from the state prosecutor’s office this week. He doesn’t belong anywhere near the criminal justice system. Prosecutors should want justice that’s proportionate to the crime.
But convicting Casey of negligent homicide would not be as big a feather in his cap as a death penalty conviction.
Death penalty convictions in high-profile cases are what land you the big fees when you move into private practice.
Ashton is the one who decided to sensationalize this case. During the months and even years leading up to the trial, Ashton is the one who released all those inflammatory videos and photos of Casey partying and getting a tatoo during those 31 days after Caylee’s death.
Ashton did everything he could to use the media to prejudice this case and tilt it against Casey before the trial began, before Casey had a chance to put on her case.
Is this really how an officer of the court should behave?
Jeff Ashton should be investigated by the Florida bar for gross prosecutorial abuse.
He should be held in contempt of court for snickering and laughing throughout Jose Baez’s closing argument — in a freaking death penalty case, no less.
What a disgrace Jeff Ashton is to law and justice.
Watch The Laughing Prosecutor
QUESTION: The court says he’s a “domestic terrorist” for undermining public confidence in the official U.S. currency by creating his own currency. But what does that make Obama, Congress and the Fed who are constantly undermining confidence in the dollar with their actions?
And why is this terrorism? Maybe it’s counterfeiting, fraud (or something), but it’s not terrorism — unless every crime is now going to be categorized as terrorism. Besides, why can’t we make our own currency? As long as you’re up front about what you’re doing and people accept it, why is this any different than creating casino chips?
CITIZEN-TIMES: Bernard von NotHaus was convicted Friday at the conclusion of an eight-day trial in U.S. District Court in Statesville. The jury deliberated less than two hours, according to the Department of Justice.
Charges remain pending against William Kevin Innes, an Asheville man who authorities said recruited merchants in Western North Carolina willing to accept the “barter” currency, according to court records. Innes was indicted along with von NotHaus in 2009.
“Attempts to undermine the legitimate currency of this country are simply a unique form of domestic terrorism,” U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins said. “While these forms of anti-government activities do not involve violence, they are every bit as insidious and represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country.”
Barney Brown was sentenced to life in prison at the age of 14 for a rape and robbery he did not commit. He was in prison for 38 years because they lost the records showing he had been acquitted at the age of 14.
There’s something desperately wrong with our criminal justice system.
Wrong convictions and wrong incarcerations are happening way too often. They shouldn’t happen ever. When you consider that the jury pool is made of of the same people who elected Obama in a landslide, you can see how and why mistakes are so often made. How many millions of dollars in damages should Barney Brown be awarded for this travesty?
17 of the 138 on this list were exonerated by DNA evidence that was not available at the time of their conviction.
Average time between being sentenced to death and exoneration: 9.8 years.