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Posts Tagged ‘criminal’

Prosecutorial Misconduct-A Right According to Some Prosecutors

“Prosecutorial Misconduct-A Right According To Some Prosecutors” by John F. Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator.

My last post was about prosecutorial misconduct and was based on an article by Radley Balco, who writes “The Watch” for the Washington Post. Here’s a followup by the same writer that validates the wording of the title of this post.

When a judge calls a prosecutor on the carpet for misconduct and that prosecutor accuses the judge of bias and asks him to recuse himself from criminal cases in her jurisdiction, something is seriously wrong. Prosecutorial misconduct should be a felony punishable by disbarment and jail time. Bust a few of these arrogant slimeballs and put them in prison with people they’ve convicted and we might see a revival of the quaint concepts of ethics and morality in the criminal justice system.

Here is an article on the topic in The Post and Courier, a Charleston, SC newspaper.

Kudos to South Carolina Supreme Court Justice Donald Beatty; and shame on Solicitor Scarlett Wilson.

 

Are Drug Dogs Unreliable? Yes!

“Are Drug Dogs Unreliable? Yes!” by John F Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator.

The Washington Post just published an article that says that the science on the subject indicates “that drug dogs have disturbingly high rates of ‘false alerts’, sometimes with error rates well above 50 percent”. The article indicates that drug dogs can be deliberately or inadvertently influenced by their handlers. If this is true, the validity of evidence developed from the use of these dogs is questionable, at best. This should be the subject of a lot of discussion in the criminal justice system, especially in the criminal defense sector.

Check these links and others (in the article) collected by Radley Balco, the author of the above noted Washington Post article.

“The Mind of a Police Dog”

“NHP Troopers Sue…”

“Police Dog Named “Bono”…”

“Illinois State Police Drug Dogs…”

Tribune analysis: Drug-sniffing dogs…

“Handler beliefs affect…”

 

 

Prosecutor to be Jailed for Sending an Innocent Man to Jail?

“Prosecutor to be Jailed for Sending an Innocent Man to Jail?” by John F Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator

The Blog headline, “For the First Time Ever, a Prosecutor Will Go to Jail for Wrongfully Convicting an Innocent Man” by Mark Godsey, should astound the general public; but it shouldn’t cause the same reaction among people who work in the criminal justice field or those who have been harmed by prosecutorial and/or police misconduct.

This isn’t the first case where an innocent person has gone to jail under similar conditions. If this is the first prosecutor to be held accountable, it is potentially revolutionary. Prosecutors are now on notice. It’s way past due. I predict (and hope) that we’ll see more of these cases, now that the ice has been broken.

 

Zimmerman: Guilty or Innocent?

“Zimmerman: Guilty or Innocent?” by John F Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator.

I don’t claim to know the answer to the question. It’s obvious that the public, aided and abetted by the media, has already made up its collective mind. ZIMMERMAN IS GUILTY AS CHARGED! This was the opinion of the general public even before the trial started. Add to this the general opinion of the masses that an accused person is guilty because the person was arrested and charged.

Wow! Think of all the tax dollars that could be saved if we just substituted the media, leading the masses to popular “opinion”, for the legal system.

But, hold on a minute. Our legal system is based on the practical assertion and principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty. I guess the media and the masses don’t get it. Here’s a Facebook post you might want to read just to get some perspective on cases like this where a defendant is claiming self defense to justify a homicide. And remember that “homicide” is a morally and legally neutral term. Its meaning is too narrow for making decisions about how to treat the act and its results. Homicide can be “justified”, as in the case of legitimate self defense, or “unjustified”, as in the case of premeditated murder.

 

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?

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

The Gun Violence Fantasies of Seattle Mayor

The Gun Violence Fantasies of Seattle Mayor by John F Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator

Mayor McGinn persists in trying to stem gun violence by trying to create a Seattle Parks gun ban in spite of courts rejecting the idea as contrary to state law. The courts are correct; so the mayor and the city attorney will go to the state legislature to try to get them to give cities the right to make their own gun control laws. My prediction? It won’t happen.

“A park is no place for a gun,” says the mayor. This simple minded statement shows that either the mayor is incredibly ignorant regarding human behavior or extremely cynical in offering up feel-good but ineffective laws to please the gun control crowd. I’m sure that will get him some votes in the next election; but if he were to get what he wants, it would have absolutely no impact on gun violence in Seattle.

The problem with this effort and the sentiment behind it is the irrationality of expecting that thugs with guns are going to be deterred by unenforceable laws. Does the mayor have a budget for fencing and gating all the parks in Seattle and then setting up a TSA style “security” system at the gates to detect weapons?

The thugs with guns who actually pose a threat to people in parks and everywhere else in the city will continue to carry and act as predators. Those who have State concealed carry licenses will continue to carry. Stalemate!

Legally armed citizens aren’t the problem. The mayor needs to concentrate on dealing with criminals through the efforts of the community groups and social service agencies trying to get at the root causes that turn innocent children into armed thugs. He also needs to do more to support the police whose job it is to deal with the consequences of parents, communities and society-at-large failing to prevent children from choosing lives of violent crime.

 

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Forensic Science Meeting 2012

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers – Forensic Science Meeting 2012 will be held in Las Vegas on March 23rd to March 24th at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. For more information please see their website.

NACDL & CACJ’s 5th Annual Forensic Science Seminar will be a two-day event in the City of Lights—Las Vegas! In the modern world, you need to know and understand the forensic sciences in order to effectively represent your clients. Attend this one-of-a-kind CLE seminar and leave with a better yevo understanding of forensic evidence and technology to use in the arsenal of tools to win your next case. If it involves forensic evidence or technology in a criminal case, it will be covered at this one-of-a-kind seminar.

This year’s seminar topics include:

-The Amanda Knox Case: What Role Did DNA Transfer and Contamination Issues Play?
-Fighting the Prosecution’s “Fantasy of Forensics”
-State of NC v. Gregory: A Case Study
-Mental Defenses
-Cognitive Interview Techniques, Signs of Deception, and Forensic Artistry
-Bloodspatter Evidence for Lawyers
-Working with Forensic Experts
-Trends and Tips in Computer Forensics Discovery Prerequisites
-Forensic Evidence in Sexual Assault Cases
-The Science of Eyewitness Identification
-Burning Down the House: Defending Accusations of Arson
-Pharmacology for Lawyers
-The Role of the Forensic Pathologist in the Criminal Justice System
-DNA: From Basics to Advanced

 

Guns, Violence and Society – Causes

Guns, Violence and Society – Causes by John F Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator

I think we already know at least some of the causes of violence in our society; but we’re too diverted and divided to look closely at the problem and take it on.

Aside from a limited number of cases where brain damage, drugs (Phencyclidine or PCP, et al.), or psychosis (schizophrenia, paranoia, et al.) contribute to violent behavior, most people, including researchers, believe that violent behavior arises from conditions that might be labeled as environmental. While the scientific community seems unwilling to say that they know the exact causes of violence in society, or in the case of any individual violent person, they do acknowledge a number of conditions or factors that appear to make individual violence more likely. They also point out that sometimes these factors show a “which came first” complexity.

It’s a nature versus nurture question. We are all born with the potential for violence. However, civilizing factors make most of us much less violent than that potential. I believe that most of us can be brought to violence by certain situations or conditions that threaten the life and safety of ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities.

The factors cited that contribute to, if not cause, violent behavior are numerous and often interrelated. It is clear that some people survive the adverse influence of these same factors and never act out violently. The following is only illustrative and is not an exhaustive treatment of the subject.

Causes within the family

Being born into a dysfunctional family, including some combination of

    poor or nonexistent parenting
    intra-family violence
    drug abuse
    unemployment and poverty

Causes within the larger society

Being raised in a society

    that glorifies violence and distorts its true nature and consequences
    that feeds us violence as entertainment
    that engages in a violent domestic war, labeled The Drug War, which enables violent gang culture and police corruption
    that engages in perpetual war against domestic and foreign terrorists as a substitute for The Cold War, in order to feed the Military Industrial Complex at the expense of our warriors, our domestic needs, and our economy
    that has turned our prisons into advanced training bases that fail to rehabilitate while enabling the incarcerated to learn more criminal skills.

 

Mock Juries for Mock Trials

Mock Juries for Mock Trials by John F. Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator.

Serve on mock juries for mock trials; and no one has to go to jail.

Whether or not you have ever been on a jury, if you wish to have some experience and education on the matter, you might try what my wife and I have done and thoroughly enjoyed on a summer weekend for each of the last two years. We plan on doing it again next summer.

We act as jurors in mock civil and criminal trials argued by practicing lawyers in front of practicing judges.

The National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) trains practicing lawyers to be more effective trial lawyers.

A bit about NITA from their website at http://www.nita.org/:

“NITA’s Mission Statement

“NITA, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is a dedicated team of professors, judges and practicing lawyers who believe that skilled and ethical advocacy is a critical component of legal professionalism and all systems of dispute resolution that seek justice.

“NITA’s mission is to:

* Promote justice through effective and ethical advocacy;
* Train and mentor lawyers to be competent and ethical advocates in pursuit of justice; and
* Develop and teach trial advocacy skills to support and promote the effective and fair administration of justice.

“NITA’s Mission Statement defines NITA and articulates its Mission. We will fulfill our Mission through NITA’s Goals and Objectives to be carried out through a Strategic Plan outlining NITA’s programs and publications.

“NITA Long-Range Goals and Objectives

“NITA’s Goals and Objectives are to:

* Enable and encourage lawyers to become effective, ethical and professional advocates.
* Create and promote the highest quality professional and ethical advocacy training and educational materials.
* Support and assist the Judicial System in providing the important, effective administration and resolution of disputes.
* Encourage, support and assist advocacy training for and dedication to public service.”

You can participate for both days or either day. If you do both days, you hear a civil case on one day and a criminal case on the other.

You sit in court, listen to the arguments, select a jury foreman, weigh the evidence and present your verdict to the court.

One thing that happens in these mock trials that doesn’t happen in real life is the post-trial discussion involving the judge, the attorneys and the jurors. The trial experience and the post-trial discussion provide an incredibly educational and entertaining way to spend a day or two.

They give you a small stipend and a box lunch each day. You meet and spend the day with some really nice people.

Go to the NITA website at http://www.nita.org/and explore.

Find out where the programs entitled “Building Trial Skills” are being held and contact them about your interest in participating as a juror in the mock trials. If they haven’t already filled the juror pool, volunteer. I believe you will find the experience (plus the stipend and the lunch) to be well worth your time.

 
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© 2012 HSI Investigations, A Seattle Private Investigator