Monday, April 28, 2008

Why didn't Biloxi jail fire violent guard Ryan Teale?

Why didn't Biloxi jail fire violent guard Ryan Teale? Because prison guards were taught to cover up wrongdoing.
Anderson Cooper

Justice system in New Orleans: What's wrong with this system?

Anderson Cooper reports on CNN regarding the soaring murder rate in New Orleans:

"Witnesses are either missing or unwilling to cooperate. Last year, nearly half the murder suspects walked free because by law, prosecutors have just 60 days to make their case before a judge. Time is simply running out.

(on camera) What's actively being done at this point to try and repair the justice system so the killing will stop?

NAGIN: Everything. Everything is being done, from more resources, more dollars, more manpower, more police officers. We've got the federal government involved.

KAYE: why then is the number of homicides going up instead of down? Who should be held accountable? Everyone is pointing fingers.

Police blame the district attorney for not prosecuting cases quickly enough. The district attorney blames police for holding onto case files and letting witnesses slip away. And the mayor, he accuses the district attorney of encouraging lawlessness and dropping charges against dangerous criminals.

(voice-over) Like this guy, Michael Anderson, who says he's innocent. District attorney Eddie Jordan just last week dropped five counts of first degree murder against him for the deaths of five teenagers. Jordan's office claimed it couldn't find a key witness. So how did police manage to the next day?

(on camera) Certainly a lot of people are pointing fingers at your office. Who do you think is at fault here?

EDDIE JORDAN, ORLEANS PARISH DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Well, let me say, first of all, that I am not going to take the blame for all the sins of the criminal justice system. Certainly, we have our shortcomings. But we're working on our shortcomings.

When the justice system befriends child molesters
Anderson Cooper

"...You're paying for the criminal justice system. We all are. And you're counting on it to keep you safe and uphold the principles you believe in. The truth is, though, it doesn't always work that way.

Money is wasted. Bad guys go free. Decent people get hurt, and government sometimes gets away with it.

This hour is about holding people accountable.

Tonight, we will look at how a man accused of raping a child could go free, perhaps never to be tried again, because the prosecution could not find him a qualified interpreter. It only took us a few hours on the phone to find one.

And it gets worse. He might not have even needed an interpreter at all. And the evidence of that was plain to see.

We begin tonight with a story that seemed utterly surreal to us when we first learned about it, an accused molester going free because the court couldn't find him a qualified interpreter.

And, the more we investigated, the stranger it got. And the more you hear tonight, the madder you will likely get. How could an accused molester go free?

...GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the man at the center of a legal storm, because of a bizarre technicality that is hard to believe, Mahamu Kanneh, charged with the horrifying crimes of raping and repeatedly molesting a 7-year-old girl and molesting a 1-and-a-half-year-old girl, both relatives of his.

But now the charges against the Liberian immigrant have disappeared.

JOHN MCCARTHY, MONTGOMERY COUNTY PROSECUTOR: We believe that that decision to dismiss these charges was improper.

TUCHMAN: Why were such serious charges dismissed? Because a court clerk was unable to find an interpreter fluent in the rare language known as Vai who could stay through the entire trial. A court-ordered psychiatrist told the judge an interpreter was necessary.

MCCARTHY: The bottom line is that any delays caused by an attempt to find an appropriate and qualified interpreter is not attributable to the prosecution and legally was the responsibility of the courts and should not serve as the basis for dismissing the charges against the defendant.

TUCHMAN: But Judge Katherine Savage disagreed, saying on the bench, "This is one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make in a long time." She cleared the charges because she says the long delay violated Kanneh's constitutional right to a speedy trial.

"Keeping Them Honest," we investigated what went wrong. An estimated 100,000 people in the world speak the West African tribal language of Vai.

The court office in Rockville, Maryland, says it worked hard to find someone anywhere in the country who could be with the suspect during the trial. Over two-and-a-half years, it couldn't successfully do so...

TUCHMAN (on camera): This story strikes high on the outrage meter. But what may be more outrageous involves the question over whether Kanneh needed an interpreter to begin with, because CNN has learned that Kanneh graduated from this Maryland high school back in 2005, one of the best high schools in the state, where, most certainly, you need to know more than Vai to get by.

(voice-over): At Magruder High School, a student is not allowed to get a diploma without passing four years of English. A source in the school says Kanneh did not even find it necessary to take the English-as-a-second-language course that is offered. And there's more.

JEREMY BROWN, NEIGHBOR OF MAHAMU KANNEH: It's right there, number seven.

TUCHMAN: Jeremy Brown currently lives next door to Kanneh.

(on camera): And how long have you lived here?

BROWN: About a year.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): We wanted to talk to Kanneh about his case and his language skills, but nobody was home in apartment seven. So, we asked his neighbor this.

(on camera): Does he speak English?


...TUCHMAN: So, on a scale of one to 10 of English proficiency, what would you say he had?

BROWN: Probably a seven or eight.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): No one, from the judge, to the court clerk, to Kanneh's public defender, would speak to us about the case, because prosecutors have filed an appeal. An appellate court would have the authority to make the charges reappear. But, if the appeal fails, Mahamu Kanneh will not ever go to trial on these charges...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Jury finds Steve Castaneda not guilty; Patrick O'Toole promises to go after Cheryl Cox, Patrick Judd, Pamela Smith...

After the jury came back with a "not guilty" verdicts yesterday in the case of Chula Vista city councilman Steve Castaneda, Prosecutor Patrick O'Toole announced that
"the obligation to tell the truth under oath is one that we're going to fight for."

At last! I filed a complaint long ago about subornation of perjury by Chula Vista Elementary School District board members. It sounds like the D.A. is finally going to do something about it.

The D.A. clearly got sidetracked from this goal when it engaged in the bizarre prosecution of a Steve Castaneda, who was accused of hiding his "intent" to buy a condo while testifying during a grand jury investigation that found no wrongdoing.

Prosecutor Patrick O'Toole said, "It was a case from our end that we thought had to be brought..." It would seem that O'Toole felt obliged to go after the political opponents of the wife of O'Toole's boss, County Supervisor Greg Cox. The problem was that Cheryl Cox herself was actually guilty of perjury crimes, while Steve Castaneda was not.

I've been waiting for a long time to hear someone in Bonnie Dumanis' office say "the obligation to tell the truth under oath is one that we're going to fight for."

I'm pleased to hear that O'Toole is finally going to do something about Chula Vista Elementary School District trustees and administrators who obstructed justice and committed or suborned perjury. The District Attorney received my complaint in 2005.

Here is the story from Fox News:

Councilman Found Not Guilty of Perjury in Condo Charges
Last Update: 4/23/2008

A Chula Vista city councilman accused of lying to the county grand jury regarding his personal interest in an apartment complex that was being converted into condominiums was acquitted Wednesday of six of 10 perjury counts.

Prosecutors will decide later whether to retry Steve Castaneda on the remaining four counts on which jurors deadlocked.

"I'm very happy that I'm vindicated. I'm very happy about the fact that I can now go on with my life," Castaneda told reporters outside the courtroom.

Defense attorney Marc Carlos said jurors gave it their best shot -- deliberating for five days after a two-week trial -- before coming to a decision.

"They've had hundreds of exhibits and thousands of pages of grand jury testimony, and that's as good as they can do and there's nothing there," Carlos told reporters. "I think (District Attorney) Bonnie Dumanis should do the right thing and step up and dismiss the remaining counts. They've spent a lot of money on this case and it's gone nowhere."

Prosecutor Patrick O'Toole said: "It was a difficult case. Everybody knew that going in. It was a case from our end that we thought had to be brought -- that the obligation to tell the truth under oath is one that we're going to fight for."