Wednesday, September 15, 2004

New Blog to Check Out

Check out the new blog Catastrophic Victory (named not only after Bush's phrase "catastrophic success" in the war in Iraq, but also after Bush's victory over Al Gore, and, for that matter, about the North's victory in the Civil War, which has given us our present political alignment).

There's a cool post on the state of the Axis of Evil, almost 3 years after Bush's speech. Here's an excerpt:

All in all, it's good to see that the axis of evil is alive and well, perhaps
even prospering. Sure, Hussein's gone now, but Bush actually called Iraq the
axis of evil, and by all signs, Iraq seems to be more evil than ever. Our troops
die there at rate of a couple per day, terrorists have begun using it as a new
Afghanistan, as if our failures there didn't make the new Afghanistan almost as
hospitable as the old one. I'm sure that the neo-cons who have run our foreign
policy by political theory rather than political reality are thrilled with the
rhetoric, unfortunately, the rest of this country will be struggling with the
reality long after the neo-cons are a bad memory.

Check out the site, it's worth a read.

MSNBC - Stewart to start jail term as soon as possible

MSNBC - Stewart to start jail term as soon as possible

I'm all about admitting errors when I'm wrong, and I was wrong on this one. I really thought she'd never see a day in the clink, but, as Reagan said about arms for hostages, the facts have proved me wrong (of course, Reagan wasn't making a prediction at the time). She is continuing with her appeal, and I actually think that she has good issues for her appeal.

I've often thought, if I could be safe and financially secure, that a few months in prison wouldn't be that bad - catch up on the reading, have some alone time, you know, some people, good and bad, have found it a cathartic experience. People like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Adolph Hitler and others had time in jail to develop their thoughts and think in prison in a way that they never would have if they were dealing with life's daily give and take. Of course, our world has been made better and worse by that time away, I'd like to think I'd make it better.

Maybe that's what Martha's thinking, it's time to have some alone time. Let's face it, in a woman's minimum security prison, she's not going to face much, if any, danger. She'll probably be able to pay off people to keep her safe as well. Maybe she'll end up all the better by this time away.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Los Angeles Times: L.A. Police Captain Gets Probation

This from Saturday's LA Times, how this stuff goes by without a peep from the public is beyond me: Los Angeles Times: L.A. Police Captain Gets Probation

I've said it before, and I'll probably say it to my grave. If you want to commit a crime and get away with it, put on a police uniform, because it gives you virtual immunity. I've handled a couple of these counterfeit cases before, and I remember how they worked. The industry would investigate the case, they'd tell the DA what to do, they'd tell the court what to do, and everyone would do exactly what they asked for. Most of the small-time people (like people who run clothes stalls at swap meets and things of the like) would not face much jail, but they certainly never got misdemeanors out of the cases.

Regardless, one of the essential calculations has been missed. Is the fact that a person is law enforcement a basis for a lower sentence or a greater one? I think that if they used their law enforcement position to further the crime, it should be a reason for more, not less, punishment. However, it appears as if it is routinely a basis to give people a pass. It just goes to show that there are two classes of citizen, most of us grunts, and those in blue who can do whatever they want. This is how a society slouches towards autocracy.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Idiotic Gang "Expert" Opinions

I know I've written on this borderline criminal notion of police gang "experts" who will say just about anything to make a defendant to look bad, making stuff up wholesale under the guise of "expertise." I've probably bored quite a few of you with this. Well, I have a case going now that is going to blow the top off of this at some point. A few months ago a DA elicited gang testimony in a shooting case I have, coming up with some absurd theory of retaliation against a snitch where 2 gang rivals collaborated to punish this snitch, who was from my client's gang (BTW - It is highly doubtful that my client is a gang member, but I'll just accept the cop's absurd premise for the sake of showing how absurd it is. However, no reasonable doubt can exist that the co-defendant is from a rival gang to my client and the victim's gang). I always thought the theory was idiotic, and I think I exposed much of the theory as bogus.

Well, fast forward a couple of months, and what do I get dumped on me? Multiple CDs of wiretaps, wiretap motions with affidavits by detectives and reports on the wiretap results. Furthermore, I got recordings of jail visits of people related to the case (none of them for my client). What do these show? They show pretty obviously that the "theory" and "expertise" testified about by the detectives was simply put - absurd. They show that a much more reasonable explanation shows what happened, one that no expertise was really needed for, about what rivals shot this victim. Unfortunately, they cannot fit that into some nice little package to also pin it on my client.

So what do I do now? I believe that there was outrageous government conduct - the DA elicited opinions that contradicted evidence that she had which would tend to exonerate my client. The DA did this with knowledge (constructive or actual - constructive knowledge means that the DA should've known, in this case the DA's boss actually filed the wiretap motions months before this DA elicited these opinions, and the investigator in this case worked on those wiretaps) that contrary information existed to show the information was false. Furthermore, the DA withheld exonerating information from me at the preliminary hearing, a violation of my client's constitutional rights (some people still think that stuff matters, although those people are becoming an ever smaller minority). Finally, it just violates honesty and fair play to present what the prosecutor knows to be a false theory. I guess in the DA's defense, perhaps the prosecutor could be so hard-headed, dishonest or mean spirited to still believe in the theory that harms my client but is unsupported by any actual evidence as opposed to the contrary theory which exonerates my client and is supported by mounds of evidence. But at least this should be turned over before they presented their contrary theory.

I'll keep people updated on this case. Could it be that I actually have 2 completely innocent people in just a year that I'm representing in gang shootings? These almost never happen, how could that be?

Oh, I forgot to mention, the DA is the same one I had on my other "innocent" client case.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

More Kobe Thoughts

I think I've written about this before, but why was Kobe ever charged in a case like this in the first place? Let's face it, clearly the girl went to his room willingly, probably with the intent of doing something sexual (why else would she go up there, for an autograph?). She first told the police that she never told him no, only to later mention that she did say no. When the police first spoke with her they never noticed the tiny mark on her cheek that they noticed the next day. They had evidence that she had been with at least one other man in the time around the incident, perhaps afterwards (let's face it, someone is not going to have sex with someone shortly after being raped unless they're really twisted, at least that would be my impression being a guy). Finally, they knew about her history of mental problems, including attempted suicides.

Now, people contend that celebrities get favorable treatment at the hands of the criminal justice system, and frequently that's the case. However, I've also found that excessive publicity about a case harms a defendant, and that can be the case for celebrities as well. Sure, OJ capitalized on his celebrity to get an NG, but I would bet that Michael Jackson's celebrity is probably hurting him right now, as everyone knows about him, and it's far easier to slime someone in the press when they are already frequently in the news. Also, is there anyone who thinks that the DA would've sought death in the Scott Peterson case had his case not received so much publicity?

In the Kobe case, I think his celebrity harmed him. This was a weak case, no matter how you look at it, from the very start. Yet, the Sheriff took the exceptional step of arresting him so quickly when he didn't have to. He very possibly did that because Kobe was such a big named person. Then, while the DA thought about whether to file the case, I'm sure he had to consider what would happen to the county if they didn't file on Kobe. Kobe would probably have a great wrongful arrest case against the Sheriff. However, his wrongful arrest case would probably go away if the DA files a criminal case on him and a judge determines that there was probable cause to go to trial based on the preliminary hearing. Therefore, tiny Eagle County could face a ruinous lawsuit from Kobe that could be preveted just by filing on him. I think from that day forward, the DA was thinking about how he could get out of this case cleanly. Certainly the prelim showed how weak the case was, and it just never got any stronger from then on.

Contrary to the press reports, the rulings of the judge against the DA were no big surprise. Consider:
1) The DA had problems with the DNA that they originally sought and tested. They caused all of the problems with the DNA and chain of custody, almost looking like they were throwing the case right there. There's no chance a judge is going to keep out DNA at the behest of the DA when it was tested by the DA's crime lab at the DA's request. This is hardly a surprising blow.

2) Rape Shield - The judge never ruled that rape shield was unconstitutional, or that the defense was not restricted by rape shield. Rape shield has a specific exception to allow for evidence of other sexual partners to explain injuries. The DA sought to bring evidence that the girl had injuries, and that they were caused by Kobe. It's simply black letter law that Kobe's defense is allowed to rebut that evidence with proof of other sexual partners. How the press can call this some kind of a surprising victory for the defense is beyond me. That was clearly going to be admitted from day one.

3) Complaining wit's mental problems - The judge actually kept most of this out, which I think was an error. Let's face it, the fact that someone accusing you of misreading their response to your sexual advances has mental problems should obviously be admitted. This is a charge of interpretation of words, body language and things of the like. She claims she didn't want to have sex, he claims she did. If he had to understand what she was thinking, feeling and saying when this happens, shouldn't the fact that she expresses herself in such bizarre manners in other cases be admitted here? The judge indicated he would keep much of that out. This, I think, was a big victory for the prosecution.

In closing, I think that this case was never likely to go to trial, it was just not a strong case, and the fact that it was brought at all was in many respects likely a factor of Kobe's celebrity and money, at the very least, because the complaining witness may have seen dollar signs from the start. The fact that it didn't go to trial did not surprise me in the slightest.