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Archive for ‘Criminal Justice System’

Supreme Court Flunks Test On Privacy Rights

“Supreme Court Flunks Test on Privacy Rights” by John F. Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator.

Privacy rights were on trial; and The Supreme Court ruled by a 5-4 decision that police don’t need a search warrant to take your DNA by use of a mouth swab. What’s next? Fecal and urine samples? Blood draws? Sperm samples? If they get away with that, they can expand the program to requiring the same sampling for people getting driver’s licenses and registering to vote. Think about how many criminals they could find if they did house-to-house searches. Think about how safe that would make you feel.

 

Can the Drug War Be Nullified By Jury Nullification?

Can the Drug War Be Nullified By Jury Nullification? by John F Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator

The Drug War is a total failure. What started out and continues as a way to target minorities for discriminatory police attention has become one of the biggest domestic and foreign policy failures in our history. One set of beneficiaries of this domestic and foreign “war” are the police officers, the prosecutors and the judges who are paid drug-war-subsidized salaries. The only other beneficiaries are the cartels and gangs that were formed to take full advantage of this controlled, high value market. The gun-toting gangs and the shootings on our streets are the bloody pay-off we get along with the tax bill we pay to support this deadly boondoggle. We continue to pay for years for each conviction, resulting in the largest per-capita prison population on the planet. Don’t you just love getting so much value for your hard earned tax dollars?

When legislators pass bad criminal laws and police, prosecutors and judges continue the charade by enforcing the bad law via the criminal justice system, the public has few options to stop the ongoing tragedy.

The root of the problem is bad law; so going after the law makers is one route to take. But this is very slow and subject to the usual political BS. Washington and Colorado have recently passed laws legalizing limited pot sales, possession and use. The Feds will probably try to coerce the states to counter the voters’ will. We do not have to sit still for that.

There is a tool we have as citizens that is little known and seldom invoked that might break the back of the Drug War. It’s not a total solution; and it has some potential negative side-effects to consider. But it might speed up the process of converting the “war” into the medical/mental health issue it actually is.

[At this point I feel the need to state that I am not a lawyer and am not giving legal advice. I am a citizen and voter and have a right to speak out. The law belongs to the people, not the lawyers.]

What I propose is a minor rebellion. What if no court of law, federal, state or local, could get a jury to convict a person technically (under Federal law) guilty of limited drug sales, possession or use in the States of Washington and Colorado? What if this rebellion spread across all 50 States? See my earlier post on jury nullification and think about it.

Of course, the legislators who pass irrational, illogical, unenforceable laws and the police, prosecutors and judges who get paid to enforce these laws don’t want the public to be fully informed about such a subversive concept. So get informed and spread the word. If we can cripple the courts on these cases and, at the same time, pressure the law makers to eliminate the laws and funding underlying the war, we can have success in years, rather than generations.

What do you think?

 

 

Bite Mark Analysis Fair Basis For Criminal Conviction?

Bite Mark Analysis Fair Basis For Criminal Conviction? by: John F Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator.  

A forensic dentistry methodology known as bite mark analysis came up in the news today. The story is about a former Akron, Ohio, police captain who has spent 14 years in prison for allegedly murdering his wife. It appears that bite mark analysis was the sole evidence supporting the charges against him. The Ohio Innocence Project is working to get him exonerated.

The story raises an obvious question in my mind. How can evidence derived from a very controversial forensics methodology be used to convict a person of a crime with no other evidence to support the charges? It seems to me that the the controversial nature of the methodology should raise the “reasonable doubt” question in our innocent-until-proven-guilty criminal justice system.

Until the controversy is resolved, no one should be convicted solely on bite mark analysis.

http://science.howstuffworks.com/forensic-dentistry4.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forensic_dentistry#Bite_mark_analysis

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-12-25/news/ct-met-bitemark-lawsuit-20111225_1_bite-mark-evidence-wrongful-convictions-dna-evidence

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090916123515.htm

 

 

McGinn’s Oxymoron: Common Sense Gun Control Laws in Seattle

“McGinn’s Oxymoron: Common Sense Gun Control Laws in Seattle” by John F. Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator.

Mayor McGinn wants “common sense” gun control laws in Seattle. And he wants to define the term. Common sense should focus on root causes, not empty, feel good measures that create the illusion of  safety in the city. He should listen to Danny Westneat, a columnist for the Seattle Times.

Common sense is enforcing the laws on the books. Common sense is focusing on the criminals, in this case, gangs, not legal gun owners and inanimate objects.

Instead of going to Olympia demanding that Seattle be allowed to draft its own, stricter gun-control rules, he might want to consider demanding that the Legislature pass laws that make the punishment for illegal gun possession and crimes committed while in possession of a gun much more severe than they are. Punishment should be mandatory. Plea bargaining should be strictly limited or eliminated entirely for gun crimes.

It’s time for the police to be allowed to declare war on gangs; and it’s time for severe minimum sentencing for illegal gun possession and use.

But I don’t expect our short-timer Major to do anything that makes “common sense”.

 

Privatized Prisons, Corruption Guaranteed?

“Privatized Prisons, Corruption Guaranteed?” by John F. Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator.

American prisons already put us in the #1 position in the world for percentage of our population incarcerated (There’s a whole rant I’ll not pursue here and now). The corporate prison industry apparently sees the potential for big returns in the privatization of what has always been a function of the public, criminal justice system.

With ROI being the guiding principle of corporate existence, it is inevitable that corruption will be part of the deal when state and local governments farm out the People’s business to the Corporate Prison Industrial Complex.

How many public institutions can you name that the profit motive has corrupted or is in the process of corrupting? Let me start.

The Presidency

Congress

The Supreme Court

The health care system

Education

Public parks

National defense

…(Feel free to add to the list)

 

The Death Penalty – Anachronistic State Sponsored Violence

The Death Penalty – Anachronistic State Sponsored Violence by: John F. Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator.

The death penalty is still on the books in 33 states plus Federal and U. S. Military cases. Former Whatcom County Superior Court Judge David Nichols says “In my 20 years on the bench, I came to recognize the death penalty as inherently unfair, arbitrary, costly and ineffective”.

The reasons for wrongful convictions are inherent in a flawed and inhumane legal system.

 

How many wrongfully convicted people do we have to read about in the news before we open our eyes to the immorality of capital punishment? How many wrongfully convicted people have already been executed or are now on death row? How can a nation claiming the high and mighty principles and morality we espouse be so complacent while the State kills innocent people in our names? A moral nation? Certainly not!

 

Prosecutorial Intimidation Subverts Criminal Justice System

Prosecutorial Intimidation Subverts Criminal Justice System by John F Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator.

An opinion piece in a recent New York Times SundayReview raises an issue that goes to the heart of the criminal justice system as it plays out in our current society. It asks where the justice is in a system that coerces most people accused of crime into accepting plea deals over jury trials.

According to the author, over 90% of criminal cases are never heard by juries. That means that over 90% of the accused cede their constitutional rights to trial by jury to accept plea deals. These plea deals are often portrayed by prosecutors as easy ways out of facing far more onerous outcomes if the accused insists on trial by jury. That means that the peoples’ power to determine the facts of all these cases and to decide the fate of the accused has been taken away by a system more interested in incarceration than justice.

I would also ask where the justice is in a system that replaces due process and the presumption of innocence with what amounts to backroom kangaroo courts run by prosecutors. Prosecutors represent the State. The power to determine guilt beyond a reasonable doubt belongs to the people.

The author also points out that the court system would collapse if everyone accused of crime insisted on jury trials. There wouldn’t be enough money and judges to handle the flood of trials that would result.

Maybe that’s what we need to open people’s eyes to a system of “justice” that fills prisons with minor offenders who could be better dealt with in community based programs.

The US has about 5% of the world’s population and almost 25% of the world’s prisoners. We also have a growing corporate prison industry that thrives on incarcerating as many people as possible and keeping them in lock up while they profit at the taxpayers expense.

This whole situation smells.

See my blog post about jury nullification, another way for the people to exercise their rights as citizen jurors to correct injustice.

 

 

 

 
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