Archive for the ‘Justice System’ Category

Cobb County GA, throbbing nexus of conservatism

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Just back from visiting the in-laws, and this is the latest from their part of the world. 16-year-old driver turning left on a green light, misjudged, his mama who was riding shotgun died.

They were going to his orthodontist appointment.

So if your heart is not already clenching in agony at this sad little story…the Cobb County Police Levitra Online charged the boy with negligent homicide.

Yep. That’s what they did. To the credit of Cobb residents, there has been pretty much an outpouring of outrage. (Although my brother-in-law said one anonymous commenter typed, “The law is the law.”)

Hug your babies, y’all. Even your big babies. Because you never know, tomorrow they might be charged with your murder.

Another descent into salacity

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

I suppose I mean salaciousness, but I like salacity better. Anyway. Mobile is yet again plunged into can’t-look-away horror at the alleged local sex freaks in high places. Steve Giardini, who in addition to working closely with the freaking Child Advocacy Center was actually the head prosecutor on the Spankin’ Judge Hermie case, was just indicted on child porn charges. This has all been coming on for some time, apparently—they raided his house back in April, but didn’t file charges until now. Why? No one knows...etc.

The charges are the usual grab bag of skeeviness involving an FBI agent posing online as a fifteen-year-old girl. But what made me even more uneasy than the idea that THIS MONSTER COULD BE AFTER OUR PRECIOUS CHILDREN was the fact Cialis Online that the FBI dude not only sent 3 1/2 months worth of fake IMs or whatever, he actually talked to Giardini on the phone, using “a device to disguise his voice to appear to be a teenage girl.” Kinda puts you in mind of Minority Report.

Speaking of movies, we happened to be watching a Hepburn/Tracy movie called Without Love the other night. Tracy, spurned by his first love, has said goodbye to romance forever, or so he thinks, and bitterly explains why [at 7:15].  “And the last time I saw her,” he tells Miss Hepburn, “she was wearing a white evening gown, with her curls piled on top of her head, looking about sixteen.”

Boy. They just don’t write ‘em like that any more, do they.

Big News Day

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Unfortunately, I’ll  be out of commission most of it.

President Obama has chosen Judge Sonia Sotomayor as his Supreme Court nominee to replace the retiring David Souter.  She’s been on the bench since 1992, and the White House notes that she has more judicial experience than any currently serving Justice had at the time of nomination.  I’m sure that won’t stop some right-wingers from claiming she’s an affirmative action nominee.

The California Supreme Court is expected to issue its ruling on Proposition 8 around noon Central time today.  Deeky at Shakesville notes that the Court is likely to uphold the marriage ban but confirm the legality of the marriages that took place before it passed, and he says the opinion will be posted here.

I’ll be checking in later.  Have at it in comments.

Feds Drop Corruption Charges Against Ted Stevens

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

You may recall that former Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska was convicted the week before the 2008 elections but still came close to being re-elected to his seventh full term.  Now the Justice Department is dropping the charges:

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Prichard Inmate Dies from Beating

Monday, September 8th, 2008

An inmate from the Prichard City Jail died yesterday after being beaten up by another inmate.  Died.  Of massive brain injury.  He was incarcerated because of unpaid fines related to parking tickets and misdemeanor arrests.  He was mentally ill.  He was 42, and he died with his mother at his side, watching her child slip away from her.

The beating took place on August 31, following a dispute over changing the channel on the jail TV.  The attacker was first charged with second degree assault, but that charge was later reduced to third degree.

Take a minute to absorb this.  Something is very wrong here.  I don’t know about you, but I feel sick.

AL Supreme Court Delays Arthur Execution

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

The state Supreme Court has again delayed the execution of Thomas Arthur, who was convicted of the 1982 contract killing of Troy Wicker Jr. The decision came in the wake of dueling affidavits, one from another inmate confessing to the crime and another from the victim’s wife, who put out the contract, swearing Arthur was the killer.

Initially, Judy Wicker said an intruder raped her and killed her husband. She had injuries consistent with her story, and investigators collected a rape kit along with other evidence. Nonetheless, she was accused of having her husband killed for insurance money, convicted of murder, and given a life sentence. Only later did she accuse Arthur, with whom she was having an affair at the time of the murder. In exchange for her testimony, prosecutors recommended parole, and she was released from prison after 10 years. Arthur, who has admitted to a previous murder, has always denied this one. (For some background on the case, see here and here.)

Arthur’s lawyers have been pushing for some time now to have DNA tests run on the rape kit, contending that the results could indicate that another person was present at the time of the murder. OTOH, if the DNA is a match for Arthur, it would certainly bolster the case against him. Prosecutors have refused to run the tests, and the governor has refused to order them to do so (there’s some dispute as to whether or not he has that authority). Today, we find out that the state has lost the evidence in question, so, unless someone finds it — or perhaps “finds” it — the testing will never happen.

I’m curious. Just how long has the state known the rape kit was missing? Yes, this case is 26 years old. Evidence could have been misplaced or discarded long before the tests were requested. But given the high profile coverage over the past year or so, I’d think someone would have checked on it before now. So was it lost in the sands of time, or did it disappear recently?

And if it does turn up, would the state just run the damn tests already?

Siegelman Case on TV

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

Set your TiVos, VCRs, or eyeballs to see follow-up coverage of the Siegelman case on “60 Minutes” (CBS, tonight at 6:00 CDT) and “Verdict with Dan Abrams” (MSNBC, tomorrow night at 8:00 CDT).

I don’t subscribe to the theory that former Gov. Don Siegelman was as pure as a newly-shorn lamb. (After all, what successful politician is? Even the best of them are forced into compromises and alliances that make the idealist in me scream “foul!”) But there is much about this case that stinks to high heaven, and as I’ve said here many times before, the Bush administration has only itself to blame when the Justice Department comes under suspicion of political prosecution.

From the 11th Circuit Court ruling that ordered Siegelman’s release pending appeal:

“After thorough review of this complex and protracted record, we conclude Siegelman has satisfied the criteria set out in the statute, and has specifically met his burden of showing that his appeal raises substantial questions of law or fact [emphasis mine],” the judges wrote.

In the interest of justice, those questions must be addressed. (Yeah, even justice for Richard Scrushy, who is not a favorite of mine. IMO, the prosecution was smart to try Siegelman and Scrushy together; public anger over Scrushy’s HealthSouth acquittal almost certainly fueled a “get him any way we can” feeling.) In the interest of restoring confidence in our justice system, Congress must continue to investigate the apparent subversion of the Bush Justice Department.

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If you want to keep Congress focused on this investigation, contact House Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers and Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy. Send your feedback to “60 Minutes”. And if you’d like to contribute to Gov. Siegelman’s defense fund, use this address:

Siegelman Legal Defense Fund
P.O. Box 430116
Birmingham, AL 35243

Case in Point

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

A Georgia man was freed from prison yesterday after DNA tests proved he was not guilty of a 27-year-old rape. John Jerome White was convicted on the basis of the victim’s eyewitness testimony and sentenced to life in prison. He was paroled in 1990, but two subsequent convictions, one for drugs and one for robbery, resulted in his return to prison to serve the rest of the life sentence. Tests on hairs collected from the crime scene — tests that weren’t available in 1980 — implicate another man, one who has a previous rape conviction. Unfortunately, the victim, who was 74 at the time of the attack, didn’t live to see the right person brought to justice.

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No-Brainer

Monday, December 10th, 2007

Last week the US Supreme Court stayed the execution of Thomas Arthur pending its ruling on several cases challenging execution by lethal injection. The Birmingham News points out that this delay gives Gov. Riley yet another opportunity to order testing of DNA evidence in the case, something Riley has so far — and inexplicably — refused to do.

Arthur was convicted of the 1982 contract killing of Troy Wicker, at least in part based on the testimony of Wicker’s wife, Judy, with whom he was having an affair.

Judy Wicker was accused of paying Arthur to kill her husband for the life insurance. At first, she blamed the crime on an intruder who she claimed also raped her. She had injuries consistent with that story, and semen was present and collected along with other evidence.

Even so, she was convicted of the murder, and she was sentenced to life in prison. When prosecutors agreed to recommend parole, Judy Wicker changed her story and testified against Arthur. She got out of prison after 10 years. The prosecutor who recommended parole earlier had been a private attorney representing Mrs. Wicker.

The DNA evidence collected at the time was not tested because the technology wasn’t available. Now it is. Why not test it? Here’s what I said back in October:

…Thomas Arthur is not a nice person. He’s not an upstanding citizen. He had a prior murder conviction. He shot (but thankfully did not kill) a prison guard during an escape attempt before his final conviction. He shouldn’t get out of prison. But if he didn’t kill Troy Wicker, he shouldn’t die for it.

And if we, as citizens of this country, won’t demand that DNA evidence be evaluated before we carry out the ultimate penalty, well, that doesn’t speak too well of us as a society. “Kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out” may be good campaign strategy, but it’s a terrible way to run a justice system.

Even Troy Wicker’s sister has joined the chorus requesting DNA tests. She wants to be sure. Gov. Riley, give her what she wants. Remember your slogan for Amendment One? Once again, it’s time to “Do the Right Thing”.

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Click here to contact Gov. Riley and ask him to order DNA tests in the Thomas Arthur case.

Asst. US Attorney Commits Suicide

Saturday, October 6th, 2007

John D. R. Atchison, a Florida Assistant US Attorney, succeeded in his second attempt to commit suicide yesterday. He was being held in a Michigan federal prison on three felony counts, including a charge of crossing state lines with the intent to have sex with a person under the age of twelve — in his case, a fictional five year old girl (I posted about his arrest here).

Atchison, 53, was arrested last month at Detroit Metropolitan Airport after weeks of Internet conversations between the prosecutor and a detective posing as the mother of a 5-year-old girl, authorities have said.

He was carrying presents for the girl, including a doll and hoop earrings, and also had sexual materials, including petroleum jelly.

After his arrest Atchison was placed on suicide watch, but it was lifted at the request of the defense, after Atchison assured a U.S. magistrate he wouldn’t harm himself.

Two days later, Atchison used a sheet in his Sanilac County jail cell to try to hang himself around 4 a.m. Another inmate yelled out to jailers, who kept Atchison from hurting himself, according to Sanilac County Sheriff Virgil Strickler. Atchison was later moved to the Milan prison.

If he was guilty as charged, he was one sick and twisted man. Still, his family and friends are grieving today, and I am sorry for them.

H/T, Natalie in comments to the earlier post