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Posts Tagged ‘police’

Do Prosecutors Cheat?

“Do prosecutors Cheat?” by John F Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator.

Do prosecutors cheat? The short answer is yes.

Sometimes prosecutors cheat. Sometimes police cheat. Sometimes judges cheat. Sometimes defense attorneys and defense investigators cheat. Sometimes jurors cheat. When any players in the game of criminal justice cheat, the whole system fails. It fails the defendant and society, as a whole.

This article in “The Atlantic”, by Andrew Cohen and dated March 4, 2014, tells the story of a prosecutor who admitted the prosecution’s failure in a specific case. This sort of cheating happens all the time; but how often do we see the prosecution or any other players in the process own up to their failures? Laura Duffy did the honorable thing. Kudos to her; and heads up to any criminal justice system players who might play fast and loose with the law.

 

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…”

 

 

Police and Prosecutorial Misconduct-Another Reason to Kill Capital Punishment

Police and Prosecutorial Misconduct-Another Reason to Kill Capital Punishment by John F Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator.

Even if you believe that capital punishment is a moral act, this example of police and prosecutorial misconduct should cause you to question its application. This one is from New York; but it happens all over the country.

 

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.

 

Seattle Police Department Finally Free

“Seattle Police Finally Free” by John F Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator.

Now that Mayor McGinn is on the way out, the Seattle Police Department has been freed up to deal with the bad boys and girls hanging out and causing serious trouble in Westlake Park. With the lame and irrelevant excuse that we can’t criminalize being poor and homeless, the SPD was constrained from dealing with the criminal and anti-social behavior that’s been causing problems for downtown businesses and visitors. I guess McGinn forgot the admonition “Love the child (person); hate the behavior”. It’s about time!

 

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?

 

 

A Seattle Shootout: Some Lessons for Citizens, the Police and Mayor McGinn

“A Seattle Shootout: Some Lessons for Citizens, the Police and Mayor McGinn” by John F Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator.

The shootout

At about noon on a Saturday in July, my wife and I were standing, talking, on the SE corner of an intersection in the business district of a popular Seattle neighborhood. We were with friends and were on our way to a day of fun at a festival in the International District. We had stopped at a coffee shop so our friends could go inside to get coffees-to-go. It was a beautiful morning with lots of people out strolling and going in and out of restaurants and shops.

My attention was attracted to yelling coming from the north side of the cross-street we were on, mid-block and east of our position. I looked to see a stocky black male, 30-something, in a green shirt, yelling while facing west towards our location on the arterial street. I couldn’t make out what he was saying; but his voice had an angry tone.

While making these observations, I became aware of a 30-something, tall, slim black male and a short, slender black female crossing from a restaurant on the NE corner of the intersection, toward a point just east of us on the cross-street. These two people were obviously together and would have been unremarkable but for three things. One: She was paying a lot of attention to the yelling man up the street and seemed to be reluctant to follow the man she was with. Two: He gave a couple of sharp and abrupt hand signals to her, indicating that she should come along with him and quit lagging behind. Three: When he made these gestures, he pulled up his gray t-shirt and exposed what appeared to be a gun tucked in his dark colored pants. The view I had was so brief in duration that I couldn’t be sure I had seen a gun. She continued to hold back as he headed east on the sidewalk, moving closer to the yelling man. When she finally speeded up to catch up with her companion, I turned my attention back to my wife. Then the shooting started.

I pulled my wife to me and took cover behind a metal utility pole. Simultaneously, our friends came out of the coffee shop. I ordered them and the people at the tables in front of the shop to get down and stay down. Thankfully, they complied.

The shooting lasted only seconds. When it stopped, I looked east up the street and saw the woman who had been with the guy in the gray t-shirt coming out of a hairdressing salon behind the coffee shop. I saw a black SUV leaving the scene headed east. People flooded out onto the street. The woman headed east and away from me; I followed her.

When the police started to flood into the area, I directed the attention of one officer to the woman, an associate of one of the shooters and a material witness. When I tried to explain why he should talk to her, he asked me if I was a cop. When I told him no, he said “Then be quiet”. Not wanting to risk arrest for interfering, I stood and waited, listening to her lie about not being involved. I expected him to next turn to me. Instead he turned and walked away. A second attempt to get the same officer’s attention resulted in another rebuff when he directed another officer to talk to me. At that point all I could tell this officer was that the woman had already left the scene but that she had been in the salon and the folks in there might be able to ID her. Having done all I could, I rejoined my wife and friends. We went on to have a great day.

I was left angry and frustrated by the way I was treated by the officer who rebuffed me twice, allowing a material witness to leave a crime scene, unidentified. Rather than forgetting the matter, I sought out a meeting. I wanted to talk to the officer, his boss and the watch commander for the unit involved. The watch commander set up a meeting at the precinct.

Without going into the details, I’ve got to say that I left the meeting pleased that we had been able to talk openly about the situation. They listened actively and attentively to my concerns and were able to explain to my satisfaction how officers responding to such situations can be, or can appear to be, a bit rude. The safety of the public and the responding officers and securing the scene of the crime takes precedence over everything else.

They also informed me that the woman had been ID’d by the folks in the salon and that she and the shooters were gang associated.

The lessons for the public? Chill; it’s not about you. Oh, and get out of the line of fire.

Don’t expect polite and respectful behavior from police officers at active crime scenes, especially when the crime is violent and the scene is still chaotic. They are under a lot of pressure and are trying their best to re-establish safety and order.

Do demand answers when you have not been treated with respect; but do it after the situation is over.

When the shooting starts, don’t stand up and gawk. Don’t move closer to the action. Take cover or escape safely. Stay out of the fight unless it comes to you. Then fight as if your life depended on it, because it might.

For those who legally carry concealed firearms, the situation I describe did not warrant drawing a weapon. None of us standing or crouching behind cover on the corner were being directly threatened. We were within range of the bullets being fired; so cover and/or escape were our best defense.

Lessons for the police? Lighten up.

Command and control doesn’t require rudeness. Polite but firm will work for most otherwise good citizens who want nothing more than to help you do your job, if they can.

Unnecessary use of authority can be a barrier to getting the cooperation and information from the public necessary to do your work. Use your authority only as much as you have to in getting the job done.

Lessons for Mayor McGinn? It’s the gangs, not the guns.

Rather than trying to constrain our Second Amendment rights, strictly enforce existing gun laws. They are more than adequate, if enforced.

Aggressively go after the gangs that are the cause of the vast majority of gun violence in Seattle. And to help you accomplish that…

Go to Olympia and ask legislators to introduce mandatory, minimum sentences for those convicted of crimes where guns are used in crime or where persons committing violent and non-violent crimes are found possessing guns.

There should be no compromise with violent felons who endanger the public as well as each other. Ask the legislature to change the law to disallow plea bargaining on gun charges associated with any other felonies.

 

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”.

 

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.

 
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