Saturday, December 17, 2011

How a Bad Cop Evaded Detection in San Diego

How a Bad Cop Evaded Detection
December 15, 2011
by Keegan Kyle
Voice of San Diego

On a dark boulevard in Mission Valley, lined by department stores and spacious condos, the police officer spotted the suspected drunk driver. It was February 2010.

Someone had called police to report the 28-year-old woman. Officer Anthony Arevalos responded. For three years, he'd specialized in arresting drunk drivers for the San Diego Police Department. He measured up their slurred speech, dazed glares, and stumbling steps. A breath test sealed their fates.

And so it was with the woman in Mission Valley. Arevalos arrested her and put her in the back of his cruiser. They headed to the county women's jail, the Las Colinas Detention Facility.

But they didn't drive straight there, the woman later said. According to her story, Arevalos hit the brakes on another dark road, pulled over, and sexually assaulted her in the back seat, where no one could see them. Then he got back behind the wheel and took her the rest of the way to jail.

When the woman told the Police Department what happened, Arevalos was swiftly yanked from patrol. After weeks of investigation, police recommended criminal charges to prosecutors.

Arevalos, a 17-year veteran, had a reputation in the department. He targeted young, attractive female drivers. He arrested women more often than any of his colleagues. He sent lewd photos of women he stopped to fellow officers. He showed off women's driver's licenses like trophies. He had a nickname: "The Las Colinas Transport Unit."

Even Arevalos' supervisor, Sgt. Kevin Friedman, had taken note. "If someone was attractive, he would display it," Friedman would later say.

Yet nothing happened. District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis declined to press charges and the Police Department sent Arevalos back to the same job, back to San Diego's streets. There he stayed until March 2011, when another traffic stop ended his career...

Police had assigned Thornton and Arevalos to the department's traffic division. Arevalos, a married father of two, worked in a special unit patrolling for drunk drivers, a job that offered extra pay and overtime.

Arevalos also got more discretion on the streets. While most patrol officers scurry between radio calls all night, DUI officers are supposed to be proactive, choosing whom they stop, where they stop, and when they stop. They work alone unless another officer provides cover.

Thornton's account isn't the only one. Other officers have testified that Arevalos acted unprofessionally. But his behavior never got him reassigned or fi red.

Those anecdotes from fellow cops concern Samuel Walker, a national expert on police reform. He said the Arevalos case highlights systematic problems with internal oversight at the San Diego Police Department and an inappropriate tolerance for misconduct.

"If he was sending pictures to other officers, they knew about it. They should have done something," Walker said. "I think all of that tells something about the culture within the department, which is very bad."

Police misconduct typically evolves over time, Walker said. Officers start with small infractions, learn what behavior is tolerated and then elevate to larger breaches of policy without reprisal.

Police chief Bill Lansdowne blamed the misconduct spike on officers' stress, the economy, and budget cuts. But his own decisions contributed to lagging oversight, too. Rather than reduce emergency operations like patrol and homicide, Lansdowne chipped away at counseling programs, supervisors, and Internal Affairs.

Some oversight tools disappeared entirely. After Lansdowne became chief in 2003, he dismantled an investigative unit police established in the early 1990s to proactively monitor for misconduct. It conducted stings and undercover surveillance on officers. The unit had more funding and time than Internal Affairs, which got bogged down in routine citizen complaints and clerical tasks.

To some officers, disbanding the investigative unit signaled that Lansdowne thought monitoring for misconduct was a lower priority. Lansdowne defends the shift, saying it saved money and streamlined investigations. Cases of internal misconduct are now handled by specialists of the alleged crime.

Long before the scandal, police recognized a need to strengthen internal oversight. The department created a system to track how often officers use force, respond to traumatic calls, and have complaints filed against them. They wanted to recognize patterns of misbehavior. But the Arevalos case and other recent allegations have shown the $450,000 program wasn't a high priority. It was tossed between managers until it landed on the desk of Sgt. Gary Collins — after the misconduct scandal struck.

"It's one of those things that probably isn't being as utilized as it should be," Collins said in May, "but I'm confident with everything that's going on that it will be."

A Missed Opportunity
Photo by Sam Hodgson
Former San Diego police officer Anthony Arevalos patrolled the Gaslamp Quarter for drunk drivers. Seven women he stopped say he solicited sexual bribes from them.

It was September 2009. The 26-year-old woman had to close shop for the night. She slammed a few drinks with co-workers, locked the Gaslamp Quarter restaurant's doors and got in her car.

A few blocks away, though, the woman made a wrong turn down a one-way street. Arevalos was driving toward her in a marked police car. He flipped on the car's lights and pulled her over.

Arevalos suspected the woman was driving drunk and took her to police headquarters for a breath test. The woman had double the legal limit of alcohol in her system. But Arevalos didn't book her. They drove back to the woman's car.

During that trip back, the woman later said, Arevalos pushed for a sexual favor in exchange for letting her go. She didn't agree to anything, she said, but Arevalos promised to show up at her restaurant and collect his favor soon enough.

The next day, the woman talked to a cop that a friend knew. She told James Clark, a detective, that a downtown cop had wanted a favor in exchange for not arresting her. She didn't know his name or which agency he worked for. She didn't specifically say what favor he wanted, but Clark figured it was something sexual.

"I remember thinking the officer was acting unprofessional, that he was trying to pick up on her," Clark testified.

Clark suggested the woman call Internal Affairs. But he didn't himself. And he didn't tell his supervisors about the conversation. He was off-duty and later testified that the complaint didn't seem important enough to merit investigation.
From Badge to Bars: Anthony Arevalos
Click on the graphic to enlarge.

The woman didn't call Internal Affairs either. She feared she'd be charged with drunk driving in retaliation and was planning to move out of state.

In an interview assistant police chief Boyd Long said it's unclear whether Clark violated department policy by not reporting the woman's complaint. Officers should normally report any allegation, he said, but the conversation could've been confidential.

Internal Affairs didn't learn about the incident until Clark reported it more than a year later, after Arevalos' arrest.

The detective's response is a stark contrast to the officer who received the complaint that ultimately took down Arevalos. That happened in March 2011. A woman called police and complained that an officer had taken her panties in exchange for not arresting her.

The officer who got that call, Kelly Besker, immediately reported the complaint to his supervisor. The woman identified the officer who had pulled her over as "Officer Anthony."

The investigation had begun.

Jury Verdict: Guilty...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Paying for bad cops: Crowe family settles civil rights lawsuit for $7.25 million

...[M]other Cheryl Crowe...told KPBS she believes the Escondido police doesn't regret the coercive interrogations, nor the arrests and jailing of their son and his two high school friends, Josh Treadway and Aaron Houser.
--Voice of San Diego

"They did it with malice. They knew what they were doing," she said. "We were ready to go to trial to prove that. And they never admitted they did anything wrong."

ESCONDIDO: Crowe family settles civil rights lawsuit for $7.25 million
October 21, 2011

Nearly 14 years after Stephanie Crowe was stabbed to death in her Escondido bedroom, her family agreed to a $7.25 million settlement with the cities of Escondido and Oceanside for what one appeals court called "psychologically abusive" interrogations of the slain child's then-teenage brother.

"There is a degree of vindication," said brother Michael Crowe, now 28 and a first-time expectant father.

The settlement, announced Friday morning, draws to a close a federal civil rights lawsuit related to a slaying investigation that grabbed national headlines ---- even spawning a made-for-TV movie ---- and split community opinion about just who killed the 12-year-old honors student in her Escondido home in January 1998.

"We are done, just done," Stephanie's mother, Cheryl Crowe, said Friday. "No amount of money will make them see their errors."

An Escondido police spokesman as well as an Escondido deputy city attorney handling the case did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The municipalities are the final defendants to reach a settlement with the Crowe family, which has long maintained it was victimized ---- and Michael mentally brutalized ---- by police so eager to make an arrest that they wrongly zeroed in on three innocent teenagers instead of a more likely suspect: a mentally ill transient who bizarrely approached their neighbors moments before the child was attacked.

With just 10 days until the trial started, the Crowes agreed to a settlement to be split with their longtime attorney Milt Silverman and then among family members. After years of fighting, fatigue took its toll, as did the family's excitement at a baby on the way.

"We wanted to go to trial so bad," Cheryl Crowe said. "The case is the strongest it has ever been, but we don't want to go anymore. We are just tired and we don't trust what could happen. We don't want to spend another 10 years of our lives with that garbage. ... I'm turning my thoughts to the new baby."

Crowe family attorney Silverman said insurer AIG will pay the settlement; no taxpayer money will be used.

"My clients are happy," Silverman said. "They thanked the courts for giving them justice."

Even though the settlement means the civil rights portion of the case is over, the matter of just who killed Stephanie remains very much alive in the criminal courts. The mentally ill transient convicted of sneaking into the home and killing the child was just this year granted a new trial. The courts are still weighing legal matters in that criminal case.

Stephanie's brother, Michael Crowe, was 14 when police suspected he and his high school freshman friends killed his popular younger sister, stabbing her to death in her bed. After hours of interrogations, the three teens made damning statements; one of them even made an outright confession. But in the years after the slaying, judges in both criminal and civil courts came to determine that the statements had been coerced by police.

The teens' lengthy interrogations were at the center of the civil rights suit the family brought against Escondido police and others, including an Oceanside police detective called in to assist during the questioning.

A federal trial judge in San Diego dismissed the bulk of the civil rights suit in 2004. But six years later, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals revived the lawsuit, finding that Escondido police violated the civil rights of Crowe and his friends during "hours of grueling, psychologically abusive interrogations."

The federal appeals court found that Crowe and his friends endured "psychological torture" during police questioning. The result was coerced confessions that led to murder charges against "innocent teenagers for a crime they did not commit," the appeals court found.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Escondido's request that it review the appeals court findings.

The settlements with a number of defendants followed.

Cheryl Crowe credited Silverman's tenacity in keeping alive a difficult and complex case that he had taken on contingency more than a decade ago.

"Without Milt, we would never have had a voice inside the court," she said. "He was ready to retire when he took this case. But he kept a promise to my mom that he would see this case to the end."

Cheryl Crowe's mother, Judith Kennedy, died in 2001. It was she who found her granddaughter's lifeless body.

Although Escondido police originally suspected Michael Crowe and his teenage buddies, DNA evidence linked a mentally ill transient to the child's slaying. The case was moved from Escondido police to a cold case detective with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department's homicide unit.

In 2004, the transient, Richard Tuite, now 42, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter for sneaking into the Crowe home and killing the girl while her family slept.

But earlier this year, a federal appeals court overturned Tuite's conviction, finding that the jury should have heard more about the backgrounds of dueling crime scene analysts who offered opposing theories of the slaying.

State prosecutors have asked the federal courts to reconsider the decision to overturn Tuite's conviction. As of Friday, with the courts still weighing the criminal case, Tuite ---- who has schizophrenia ---- remained in custody at the California Medical Facility, a psychiatric institution for the state's male prisoners.

Cheryl Crowe said it scares her that Tuite's conviction was overturned, and she worries about public safety once he is released.

"The thought of Richard Tuite hurting another child is very troubling to me," she said.

Michael Crowe said he agreed to the settlement even though Escondido police do not accept liability for wrongdoing.

"There is not any price that would make what they did right," he said when reached at his home in Oregon. "But in the end, the price was just fair enough for us to accept. ... It's unfortunate, but we came to realize that the police would never admit they were wrong. And that is unfortunate for everyone who lives in that city."

Cheryl Crowe, who has also relocated to Oregon, said one settlement item was non-negotiable: The amount of the settlement had to be made public.

"We refused to settle if it remained confidential," Cheryl Crowe said. "We said, 'No, that is not acceptable.' They know they did something wrong."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

U.S. widens inquiry into abuse at L.A. County jails

U.S. widens inquiry into abuse at L.A. County jails
Sheriff's Department seeks to curtail the extent of subpoenas, which seek data on workers since 2009.
By Robert Faturechi and Jack Leonard
Los Angeles Times
October 15, 2011

Federal authorities have widened their misconduct investigation into the Los Angeles County jail system, demanding internal Sheriff's Department documents detailing deputies' use of force on inmates over several years, as well as other records.

Sheriff's officials balked at the size and scope of the subpoenas when they were served several weeks ago and are negotiating with federal prosecutors to reduce the number of documents they must produce.

A source familiar with the demand said it sought the names of everyone who has worked in the jails since 2009, even janitors, and whether they have been disciplined for misconduct. Federal prosecutors also sought employees' Social Security numbers, dates of birth, home addresses, phone numbers and personal email addresses.

The records demand is the first sign that federal authorities are not simply looking into several individual cases of jail brutality and other misconduct but are taking a broader look at potential wrongdoing by deputies going back years.

"I was caught completely flabbergasted," Sheriff Lee Baca said of the growing federal scrutiny of his jail system, the nation's largest. "It's like your best friend digs up your favorite rose bed."

In an interview with The Times, Baca said the subpoenaed records were so voluminous that even federal investigators "would have had difficulty ferreting through it all." Nevertheless, Baca said, the county has begun collecting the records.

Federal officials declined to comment about the subpoenas or discuss details of the investigation.

Rebecca Lonergan, a USC law professor and former federal prosecutor, said the demand for the records suggests that investigators are looking for witnesses who would be willing to cooperate as they explore whether there might be a pattern and practice of deputy misconduct in the jails.

"The question becomes whether it rises to a supervisory level," said Lonergan, who handled police misconduct cases while supervising the U.S. attorney's public corruption section in Los Angeles. "If so, it may not be just the individual deputies who are culpable. It may be supervisors all the way up to higher-ups in the Sheriff's Department."

The subpoenas come amid renewed scrutiny over the county's jail system, which has been plagued over the last decade by inmate riots, killings, the formation of a gang-like deputies clique, early release of inmates, antiquated facilities and huge legal settlements. Over the last three years, the county has paid $8.4 million to resolve claims of excessive force and failure to care for inmates, a spokeswoman for Supervisor Gloria Molina said.

Last month, The Times reported that the FBI is investigating allegations of inmate beatings and other deputy misconduct. Among the claims under review are those made by an American Civil Liberties Union jail monitor who said she witnessed deputies knock an inmate unconscious and beat him for two minutes at the Twin Towers jail...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Crowe case plaintiff Houser settles lawsuit

Crowe case plaintiff Houser settles lawsuit
J. Harry Jones
Oct. 12, 2011

DOWNTOWN SAN DIEGO — Aaron Houser, one of three teenagers wrongfully accused of murdering Stephanie Crowe in 1998, has settled a lawsuit for an undisclosed amount of money against four Escondido police officers, one Oceanside police officer and a psychologist.

Michael Crowe, the only remaining plaintiff, has not settled, and a trial in federal court is tentatively to begin Oct. 31, although a request to continue the proceeding into November has been made.

Joshua Treadway, the third teen who was arrested, opted out of the lawsuit years ago.

The notice of settlement was filed in U.S. District Court in San Diego on Tuesday.

How much money Houser will receive as a result of the settlement is confidential, lawyers for Houser, the officers, and the city of Escondido say. The San Diego Union-Tribune plans to challenge that assertion with the argument that settlements regarding public employees, represented by attorneys working for city-authorized insurance companies, should be a matter of public record.

Twelve-year old Stephanie Crowe was found stabbed to death in her Escondido home on Jan. 21, 1998. Her older brother Michael, 14 at the time, and his friends, Houser and Treadway, were arrested soon afterward. Following hours of interrogations by Escondido police and an Oceanside police officer called in to help, authorities said that Crowe and Treadway confessed. The courts later said the confessions were coerced.

About a year after the killing, on the eve of the boys’ trial, all charges against them were dropped. DNA testing showed that Stephanie’s blood was on the sweatshirt of a transient who had been in her neighborhood the night of the slaying, acting oddly and banging on doors.

That man, Richard Tuite, was eventually convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to 17 years in prison.

A lawsuit brought by all three boys claiming violation of rights against self-incrimination, false arrest and prosecution was brought soon after, but U.S. District Judge John Rhoades threw out the bulk of the case in 2004 and 2005. Rhoades ruled that while the interrogations were harsh, they could not be considered coerced because they were never used against the youths at a criminal trial.

In 2010, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S., Circuit Court of Appeals revived key portions of the lawsuit, setting the stage for the settlement and trial to come.

The Crowe case has had far reaching implications. District Attorney Paul Pfingst was defeated in 2002 while seeking a third term in office. His challenger, Bonnie Dumanis, aired television ads leading up to the election that featured a picture of Stephanie Crowe as an example of why a new county district attorney was needed.

The case was even made into a 2002 TV move called “The Interrogation of Michael Crowe,” which continues to be shown all these years later.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The collapse of American justice

Sep 24, 2011
The collapse of American justice
Not long ago, we had a low incarceration rate and a system that worked. Then everything started to unravel
By William J. Stuntz

This article is an adapted excerpt from the new book "The Collapse of American Criminal Justice," from Harvard University Press.

Among the great untold stories of our time is this one: the last half of the twentieth century saw America's criminal justice system unravel. Signs of the unraveling are everywhere. The nation's record- shattering prison population has grown out of control. Still more so the African American portion of that prison population: for black males, a term in the nearest penitentiary has become an ordinary life experience, a horrifying truth that wasn't true a mere generation ago. Ordinary life experiences are poor deterrents, one reason why massive levels of criminal punishment coexist with historically high levels of urban violence.

Outside the South, most cities' murder rates are a multiple of the rates in those same cities sixty years ago -- notwithstanding a large drop in violent crime in the 1990s. Within cities, crime is low in safe neighborhoods but remains a huge problem in dangerous ones, and those dangerous neighborhoods are disproportionately poor and black. Last but not least, we have built a justice system that strikes many of its targets as wildly unjust. The feeling has some evidentiary support: criminal litigation regularly makes awful mistakes, as the frequent DNA-based exonerations of convicted defendants illustrate. Evidently, the criminal justice system is doing none of its jobs well: producing justice, avoiding discrimination, protecting those who most need the law's protection, keeping crime in check while maintaining reasonable limits on criminal punishment.

It was not always so. For much of American history -- again, outside the South -- criminal justice institutions punished sparingly, mostly avoided the worst forms of discrimination, controlled crime effectively, and, for the most part, treated those whom the system targets fairly. The justice system was always flawed, and injustices always happened. Nevertheless, one might fairly say that criminal justice worked. It doesn't anymore.

There are three keys to the system's dysfunction, each of which has deep historical roots but all of which took hold in the last sixty years. First, the rule of law collapsed. To a degree that had not been true in America's past, official discretion rather than legal doctrine or juries' judgments came to define criminal justice outcomes. Second, discrimination against both black suspects and black crime victims grew steadily worse -- oddly, in an age of rising legal protection for civil rights. Today, black drug offenders are punished in great numbers, even as white drug offenders are usually ignored. (As is usually the case with respect to American crime statistics, Latinos fall in between, but generally closer to the white population than to the black one.) At the same time, blacks victimized by violent felonies regularly see violence go unpunished; the story is different in most white neighborhoods. The third trend is the least familiar: a kind of pendulum justice took hold in the twentieth century's second half, as America's justice system first saw a sharp decline in the prison population -- in the midst of a record-setting crime wave -- then saw that population rise steeply. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the United States had one of the most lenient justice systems in the world. By century's end, that justice system was the harshest in the history of democratic government.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Illinois law enforcement raids Harvey police department and seizes untested rape kits

Corrections Officer Charged In Sex Assault Of Child: DNA Evidence Found Among 200 Untested Rape Kits

Huffington Post

A Cook County sheriff's correctional officer has been charged with sexual assault of his 10-year-old step daughter based on DNA results from a rape kit tested ten years after the incident took place.

Robert Buchanan, 45, was interviewed by Harvey detectives in 1997 in connection with the rape of a 10-year-old girl in her home, but was released without charges, NBC Chicago reports. Sexual assault evidence was taken from the victim, but sat untested along with more than 200 rape kits for more than 10 years.

In 2007, the Cook County state's attorney's office, the sheriff's office and the Illinois State Police conducted a raid on the Harvey Police Department, recovering the untested rape kits and reopening the investigations of dozens of sexual assault crimes, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Buchanan, whose DNA was obtained by the State's Attorney's office and found to match evidence collected from the victim, is one of 14 defendants to have charges brought against them in 20 separate cases based on evidence in the recovered rape kits.

“The victims of these sexual assaults were denied justice when their attacks occurred," State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez told NBC. "But we have not forgotten about them.”

In 1997, the victim, who has since moved out of state, reported multiple incidents of sexual assault over seven months in the south suburban Harvey home she shared with Buchanan and her mother, NBC reports. In August of that year, a rape kit was administered at a hospital and submitted to the Harvey Police Department, where Alvarez says it was never tested.

“Clearly for victims of sexual assault, this has been an absolute debacle on the part of the Harvey Police Department,” Alvarez told the Sun-Times.

Buchanan is being held at the Cook County Jail on a charge of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, according to ABC Chicago. He was ordered held Wednesday in lieu of $200,000 bond.

Buchanan was employed as a correctional officer at the time of the incident, but has been on disability leave since November 2010, Steve Patterson, a spokesman for Sheriff Tom Dart, told the Sun-Times. The sheriff's office told NBC they've begun proceedings to "take action" on Buchanan's job.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Freed West Memphis 3: Like kids at Christmas

August 20, 2011
Freed West Memphis 3: Like kids at Christmas
(CBS News)

A lawyer for Damien Echols - one of the so-called West Memphis 3 freed from death row in Arkansas - said his client celebrated his first night of freedom in 18 years.

Steven Braga, the attorney for Damien Echols, told "The Early Show on Saturday Morning" that his client's first night of freedom was "unbelievable."

He described a celebration last night Echols and James Baldwin, shared with supporters in Memphis: "It was as if you could see two little 5-year-old kids at their first Christmas. They were trying food they had never seen before, they were fascinated by a cell phone, more fascinated by an iPhone and then the idea you could take pictures with an iPhone totally blew them away, so they were taking a lot of pictures."

CBS Affiliate WREG reports that the third freed man, Jesse Misskelley, opted to celebrate with family Friday.

Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley were teenagers in 1994 when they were convicted of killing three eight-year-old boys - Steve Branch, Christopher Byers and Michael Moore.

Investigators in this rural community believed that the teenagers (who wore black and listened to heavy metal music) killed the children as part of a satanic ritual. Echols was sentenced to death; Baldwin and Misskelly both got life in prison.

Over the years doubts emerged about their guilt and several celebrities pushed to have them set free, reports "48 Hours" correspondent Erin Moriarty. DNA evidence has been recovered at the scene, none of it linking the accused to the crime.

Baldwin almost turned down the deal that freed him and the others from prison yesterday, but it wasn't just about him. The highly unusual plea agreement meant that his friend Echols - on death row for 17 years - would get his life back.

"Still very much in shock, still overwhelmed," said Echols Friday.

Their freedom comes at a high price: Under the agreement, known as an Alford plea, the men who still say they are innocent had to plead guilty to murder.

"'We'll let you go only if you admit guilt,'" Baldwin described it. "That's not justice, no matter how you look at it.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Katrina bridge shootings: five New Orleans police officers convicted

Bridge shootings: Officer fretted over "weak link"
July 18, 2011

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Months before Sgt. Robert Gisevius was charged with plotting to cover up the shootings of unarmed residents on a New Orleans bridge after Hurricane Katrina, he met a former colleague at a bar and shared his suspicion that someone was leaking information to federal investigators.

Gisevius didn't know that his companion that night, former police detective Jeffrey Lehrmann, was cooperating with the FBI and secretly taping their profanity-laden conversation in November 2009.

"What weak link could sink the ship?" Gisevius asks Lehrmann on the tape, which jurors heard Monday during the federal trial of Gisevius and four other current or former officers. The five defendants are charged in the shootings that killed two people and wounded four others on the Danziger Bridge in September 2005.

In response, Lehrmann mentioned the name of an officer who fired his gun on the bridge but wasn't accused of killing anybody. Gisevius rejected that suggestion, saying the officer's lawyer was still "in all our meetings."

"I don't think he would sink the whole crew," added Gisevius, who later speculates that "somebody in homicide" was the leak.

Police are accused of shooting unarmed, wounded residents on the bridge as they responded to an officer's distress call. Lehrmann and four other New Orleans former officers have pleaded guilty to participating in a cover-up that included a plot to plant a gun, fabricate witnesses and falsify reports to make the shootings appear justified...

August 08, 2011
Five Cops Guilty in Katrina Shootings
Courthouse News

NEW ORLEANS (CN) - A jury on Friday found five New Orleans police officers guilty in the post-Katrina shooting deaths of two unarmed men and the wounding of four others as they tried to cross the Danziger Bridge after Hurricane Katrina. The officers were found not guilty of murder.
The verdicts were the second group of cop convictions stemming from post-Katrina shootings. The Danziger Bridge shooting was widely publicized because of the police cover-up - including planting of a gun - after the shootings - a cover-up that lasted for years.
"We have a lot of work left to do but we are moving in the right direction," U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said after the verdict.
The jury found four officers - Sgt. Kenneth Bowen, Officer Anthony Villavaso, Officer Robert Faulcon and Sgt. Robert Gisevius - all guilty of violating the civil rights of James Brisette. Their actions caused his death, but it was not murder.
The jury found Officer Robert Faulcon guilty of the shooting death of Robert Madison. But again, the jury found that the death did not constitute murder.
The fifth officer convicted was retired Sgt. Arthur "Archie" Kaufman, who was not involved in the shootings but who led the police investigation of them. The jury found Kaufman guilty of every cover-up allegation, from wrongfully accusing innocent civilians of shooting at police to inventing witnesses to planting a gun and fabricating a story about the gun.
The four officers were charged with opening fire on two families on Sept. 4, 2005, as the families fled flooded New Orleans.
One man was killed from each family group. James Brisette, 17, was killed, and four members of the Bartholomew family were wounded.
In the other group, officers shot in the back Ronald Madison, a 40-year-old mentally disabled man, killing him.
According to the indictment, the officers drove onto the east side of the bridge in a Budget rental truck after receiving a call that officers nearby had been shot at. As the officers drove onto the bridge, they opened fire on the Bartholomew family, killing 17-year-old James Brissette, a family friend, and wounding Susan Bartholomew, Leonard Bartholomew III, 17-year-old Lesha Bartholomew and 19-year-old Jose Holmes.
Then the officers drove to the east side of the bridge, where two adult brothers were crossing on foot. "An officer shot Ronald Madison in the back as Madison ran away," according to the indictment.
The indictment added that Officer Bowen, "while acting under color of law, kicked and stomped Madison while Madison was on the ground, alive but mortally wounded."
The officers then arrested Ronald Madison's brother, 49-year-old Lance Madison, and held him for three weeks on charges of attempted murder.
The grand jury indictment, unsealed in July 2010, alleged the officers had "specifically discussed using Hurricane Katrina to excuse failures in the investigation, and thereby to help make any inquiry into the shooting[s] go away."
The indictment came after a 2-year federal investigation of the New Orleans Police Department's actions after the 2005 hurricane.
Other instances of unarmed civilian deaths at the hands of police officers also have resulted in guilty verdicts, including the Sept. 2, 2005 shooting of a man in the New Orleans neighborhood of Algiers; his charred body was later found in his burned car.
Former New Orleans police Lt. Michael Lohman pleaded guilty in February 2009 to his part in the cover-up: allowing a gun to be planted at the scene and writing a series of false reports.
Without giving names, Lohman testified that he had encouraged officers to come up with a story to justify the shootings.
Lohman's confession to conspiracy and cover-up resulted in a flurry of speculation about the officers who worked closely with him.
According to the indictment, the two unnamed officers Lohman mentioned were Bowen and Gisevius.
The indictment said the officers did not collect evidence from the scene for more than a month, and that immediately after the shooting, Arthur Kaufman became the lead investigator responsible for investigation of the shootings.
Between September 2005 and May 2006 Kaufman prepared numerous reports on the shootings. The indictment stated that on Sept. 4, "and again on numerous occasions between then and January 2006, the officers involved in the Danziger Bridge shooting, led by defendants Kaufman, Bowen, and Gisevius, discussed and modified the stories they would tell about what happened on the bridge."...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hypersensitive Cops Use Internet Stalking Law to Punish YouTube Meanie

Hypersensitive Cops Use Internet Stalking Law to Punish YouTube Meanie
Aug 9, 2011
By Derek Lazzaro

In Renton, Wash., chief city prosecutor Shawn Arthur has signed a search warrant demanding that Google Inc., owner of YouTube, reveal the real name of one “Mrfuddlesticks,” a YouTube poster who allegedly committed the crime of “cyberstalking.”

The problem is that Mrfuddlesticks has done nothing wrong. What he, or she, has done is exercise the constitutionally protected right to free speech. The alleged crime was making eight cartoon videos—political parodies—that were critical of the City of Renton Police Department. It should be pointed out that the cartoons never mention any of the complainants in the search warrant by name, and that the cyberstalking law was designed to protect children and the victims of real harassment—not overzealous police officers.

The cartoons allege or parody a wide spectrum of misbehavior ranging from drunkenness, to general incompetence, to sexual harassment, to improper sexual relationships with suspects, to stealing evidence. The videos are a bit rude—offensive even. And as an apparent result, a Renton police officer swore under oath that three of his colleagues had become the victims of the new crime of cyberstalking, because, according to the warrant, there was language in the videos that was “meant to embarrass and emotionally torment the victim[s] of the comments.”

Boohoo. Cry me a river.

Since when has it been illegal to make “comments” about police officers and other public employees? Well, if you believe the police, since March 24, 2004.

In 2004 the Washington Legislature enacted RCW 9.61.260, a law that states: “A person is guilty of cyberstalking if he or she, with intent to harass, intimidate, torment, or embarrass any other person, and under circumstances not constituting telephone harassment, makes an electronic communication to such other person or a third party ... using any lewd, lascivious, indecent, or obscene words, images, or language, or suggesting the commission of any lewd or lascivious act.”

In other words, if you go online and “torment” or “embarrass” anyone with any “indecent” or “lewd” words, images or language, you could theoretically go to prison in the state of Washington.

As a lawyer, I am confident in asserting that this law clearly violates the United States Constitution. Indeed, most first-year law students could write an essay about why this law is unconstitutional—far too broad and vague to be enforceable, at least as applied to political speech...


Run Mr Fuddlesticks Run
Oct. 7, 2011

And now the Renton Police Department has shredded the very public documents that could have proved or disproved their case, rather than producing the documents to the media under public disclosure.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

ATF official apologizes for mistakes in gun probe

ATF official apologizes for mistakes in gun probe
By PETE YOST, Associated Press
July 26, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — An official of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has apologized and told Congress he shares responsibility for mistakes in carrying out a controversial law enforcement operation in Arizona that resulted in high-powered weapons flowing into Mexico.

William McMahon, the head of ATF's western region, testified Tuesday that the agency had good intentions when it launched Operation Fast and Furious in 2009. But McMahon says that looking back, there are things ATF would have done differently.

McMahon, the highest-ranking ATF official to testify publicly about the operation, says he failed to keep close enough track of the investigation in Arizona. Fast and Furious focused on several Phoenix area gun shops and sought to develop cases against gunrunning ring leaders who had eluded previous tactics.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sexual abuse lies keep man in prison; courts refuse to hold new trial

Charles Farrar passed a polygraph and turned down a plea bargain, convinced he'd be acquitted at his 2002 trial. His earliest parole date is 77 years away.

Sacha Bruce, now 26, recanted her testimony shortly after Farrar's trial — and was attacked by prosecutors.

Sexual abuse lies keep man in prison; courts refuse to hold new trial
By Alan Prendergast
Denver Westword News
Jul 20 2011

They took away the children eleven years ago. They took away the family photos just the other day — 212 glossy images of kids now grown, of smiling grandchildren he's never seen or held.

Charles Farrar kept the pictures in his cell in the Sterling Correctional Facility, a collection that expanded with every letter, every precious word from his far-flung tribe. He's never made a secret of them. But men convicted of terrible crimes aren't allowed to have certain kinds of photos in their possession. So when a recent shakedown turned up a snapshot of his youngest grandson having his diaper changed, the kid just lying there exposed — well, that was the end of the pictures.

That's what happens when you're condemned to a mountain of time. Piece by piece, inch by inch, they take it all away. Your freedom. Your memories. Your ties to anything human.

But Farrar isn't a man who gives up easily. He's filed a lawsuit over the seizure of his "contraband" family album. The dispute has already cost him his clean disciplinary record, his job in the prison upholstery operation, and his place in an honor pod reserved for the best-behaved inmates in Sterling.

Farrar doesn't care. The pictures mean that much to him.

"Hope has been snatched from me so many times," he says. "They put me in here for life. Family is basically what has kept me going. The biggest reason I don't do away with myself is my kids. I want to make sure they're doing okay."

Family may be what keeps Farrar going, but it's also what put him behind bars. In 2002 an Arapahoe County jury found the former bakery worker guilty of multiple counts of sexual assault on a child after hearing the horrific story told by his oldest stepdaughter, Sacha. She testified that Farrar, often assisted by her own mother, had subjected her to more than a hundred instances of molestation, rape and sexual abuse from the age of eleven until she was fifteen. Judge John P. Leopold sentenced Farrar to 145 years to life — the kind of time usually reserved for serial killers, terrorists or Bernie Madoff.

Like many convicted sex offenders, Farrar has always maintained his innocence. Unlike most of them, he doesn't bother to hide the nature of his conviction, even though child molesters can expect brutal treatment from other prisoners. But what truly sets his case apart is the degree to which family members continue to support him, insisting that he couldn't possibly have done such a thing. And his staunchest defender for the past eight years has been the one person, other than Farrar and his co-defendant, who knows what really happened: his alleged victim.

Shortly after Farrar's trial, prosecutors dropped similar charges against Sacha's mother, Debbie, because Sacha refused to testify against her. A few months later, after Sacha turned eighteen, she went back to court and told a very different story.

She said that she'd lied, that she'd fabricated the allegations against Debbie and Charles so she could live with her grandparents in Oklahoma. That she'd made fools out of the cops, the social workers, the prosecutors, who not only swallowed her preposterous tale, but coached her on how to tell it better on the stand. And when she tried to call the whole thing off, two caseworkers and a prosecutor pressured her into sticking to her story and ignored her assertions that it wasn't true.

"I ultimately testified against my stepfather at his trial because I was scared by threats of being placed in a mental institution," she wrote in an affidavit submitted in court. "I have had trouble sleeping since I made these allegations. When I do sleep, I have nightmares about ruining innocent lives."

Sacha's explosive claims triggered a series of hearings before Judge Leopold. Prosecutors and social workers took the stand to deny any misconduct; relatives testified that they'd expressed doubts about Sacha's story to officials but had been told to keep quiet. If it had been a different sort of crime at issue, in any county other than Arapahoe — which has a formidable reputation for aggressively pursuing child sexual-assault cases — the new evidence might have made Farrar a free man. Instead, the case has become a long, tortuous gauntlet of legal wrangles and appeals, and Farrar remains in his cell.

In America's holy war on sex offenders, it's a matter of gospel to believe the children — no matter how improbable the claims, how inadequate the investigation, how suspect the credibility of the alleged victim. The children must be believed. Unless, of course, they change their story to something nobody wants to hear.

"This is a terrifying case," says attorney Mark Walta, who's worked on Farrar's appeals since 2003. "The prosecution's entire case was staked to this woman's credibility. But when you're dealing with someone who is more or less a pathological liar, you don't know where the truth starts and ends."

"It's crazy," says Craig Truman, the veteran criminal defense attorney who represented Farrar at trial. "I just find it amazing that some judge somewhere didn't say that without this girl, there's no evidence and he deserves a new trial."...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Trial: Bullets at Katrina shooting match police weapons

In testimony last week, officer Michael Hunter, who has pleaded guilty to a role in the shooting, said Bowen at one point leaned over the concrete barrier and held his gun low while spraying five civilians with bullets.

Trial: Bullets at Katrina shooting match police weapons
By Kathy Finn
Jul 13, 2011

Bullets taken from victims of a fatal police shooting during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and from the scene match guns used by three of the police officers involved, a ballistics expert said on Wednesday.

Patrick Lane told a New Orleans jury that his analysis showed with "reasonable scientific certainty" that at least one of the bullets removed from the body of 17-year-old James Brissette matched the rifle fired by Sergeant Kenneth Bowen.

Other bullets or shell casings taken from the scene matched guns fired by officers Robert Faulcon and Anthony Villavaso, the Louisiana State Police ballistics specialist said.

Bowen, Faulcon and Villavaso are on trial in federal court alongside Sergeant Robert Gisevius over the fatal shootings of Brissette and 40-year-old Ronald Madison days after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Four other people were seriously wounded in the incident.

A fifth officer, Sergeant Arthur Kaufman, is charged with covering up the crimes through false reports, a planted gun and made-up witnesses.

The civilians had been walking on the Danziger Bridge in eastern New Orleans as a dozen officers responded to an alert that police were under fire in that area. When the police arrived, they began firing without warning, witnesses said.

One group of civilians took cover in a walkway behind a concrete barrier while others ran to the opposite end of the bridge.

A number of witnesses have said that police, including homicide investigator Kaufman, collected no evidence from the scene. Many, including police officers, have also testified that none of the civilians had weapons.

Lane testified that shell casings found later at the bridge matched two AK-47 rifles, a Glock .40-caliber handgun and a shotgun used by officers that day.

In later testimony, the pathologist who performed an autopsy on Brissette said several bullets had entered and exited his body, then reentered at another point. Dr. Dana Troxclair said some wounds could have come from bullets ricocheting off a hard surface, such as concrete.

She said that given the angle of the bullets, the gun would have had to be low to the ground when fired.

In testimony last week, officer Michael Hunter, who has pleaded guilty to a role in the shooting, said Bowen at one point leaned over the concrete barrier and held his gun low while spraying five civilians with bullets.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Cory Maye To Be Released From Prison

Cory Maye To Be Released From Prison
Radly Balko
Huffington Post

MONTICELLO, Miss. -- After 10 years of incarceration, and seven years after a jury sentenced him to die, 30-year-old Cory Maye will soon be going home. Mississippi Circuit Court Judge Prentiss Harrell signed a plea agreement Friday morning in which Maye pled guilty to manslaughter for the 2001 death of Prentiss, Mississippi, police officer Ron Jones, Jr.

Per the agreement, Harrell then sentenced Maye to 10 years in prison, time he has now already served. Maye will be taken to Rankin County, Mississippi, for processing and some procedural work. He is expected to be released within days.

Maye's story, a haunting tale about race, the rural south, the excesses of the drug war, the inequities of the criminal justice system and a father's instincts to protect his daughter, caught fire across the Internet and the then-emerging blogging world when I first posted the details on my own blog in late 2006.

Shortly after midnight on December 26, 2001, Maye, then 21, was drifting off to sleep in his Prentiss duplex as the television blared in the background. Hours earlier, he had put his 18-month-old-daughter to sleep. He was soon awoken by the sounds of armed men attempting to break into his home. In the confusion, he fired three bullets from the handgun he kept in his nightstand.

As he'd later testify in court, Maye realized within seconds that he'd just shot a cop. A team of police officers from the area had received a tip from an informant -- later revealed to be a racist drug addict -- that there was a drug dealer living in the small yellow duplex on Mary Street. It now seems clear that the police were after Jamie Smith, who lived on the other side of the duplex, not Maye or his live-in girlfriend Chenteal Longino. Neither Maye nor Longino had a criminal record. Their names weren't on the search warrants.

Maye would later testify that as soon as he realized the armed men in his home were police, he surrendered and put up his hands. There were three bullets still left in his gun. But Maye had just shot a cop. And not just any cop. He shot Officer Ron Jones, Jr., the son of Prentiss Police Chief Ron Jones, Sr. Maye is black; Jones was white. And this was Jefferson Davis County, a part of Mississippi still divided by tense relations between races. Maye was arrested and charged with capital murder, the intentional killing of a police officer.

After a long series of delays, Maye was finally tried in 2004 in Marion County, Mississippi. Maye's family shied away from retaining Bob Evans, the Prentiss public defender, a decision they'd later come to regret. Instead, they pooled their money and hired Ronda Cooper, an attorney in Jackson who made a number of critical mistakes during Maye's trial. There were other problems with Maye's trial as well, including testimony from Mississippi medical examiner Steven Hayne, who performed the autopsy on Jones. I'd later report on a number of questions about Hayne's workload and credibility as an expert witness. He eventually resigned from the National Association of Medical Examiners and was barred from doing any more autopsies for Mississippi prosecutors.

In early 2007, after reading about Hayne's case on a number of blogs, attorneys from the D.C. law firm Covington & Burling agreed to represent Maye pro bono. Maye's family also went back to public defender and defense attorney Bob Evans. (Evans would later be fired as Prentiss public defender for his decision to represent Maye.) In the fall of 2007, at a hearing in Poplarville, Mississippi, Judge Michael Eubanks threw out Maye's death sentence, finding that he had received inadequate defense counsel during the sentencing portion of his trial. Maye was to be taken off Parchman Penitentiary's Death Row. Eubanks resentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

In November 2009, the Mississippi State Court of Appeals granted Maye a new trial, finding that he should have been permitted to move his trial back to Jefferson Davis County after his attorney mistakenly asked for a change of venue. In 2010, the Mississippi State Supreme Court upheld the order for the new trial, but on the grounds that Maye should have been permitted to offer the defense that he was defending his daughter on the night of the raid.

Strauss-Kahn Is Released as Problems revealed in prosecutor's office

Strauss-Kahn Case Adds to Doubts on Prosecutor
July 2, 2011

Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, seemed preoccupied when he sat down with two reporters last Monday. He already knew what the world would soon learn: his marquee prosecution, the sexual assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was falling apart. Privately, his aides had told him they had discovered grave problems with the accuser’s credibility.

As the interview began, but before Mr. Vance was asked a question, he offered an unsolicited defense — not just of the Strauss-Kahn case, but of his overall stewardship. “Ultimately,” he said, “the success of a D.A.’s office, and of a D.A., is measured not in individual cases, but over time.”

“The cases you don’t read about,” he added, “define what the job of a D.A. really is.”

But that job has grown increasingly tumultuous. Since Mr. Vance took over 18 months ago, morale in some parts of the office has begun to sag, in part because of his firing of some prosecutors. Relations with one of the office’s key partners, the Police Department, have grown tense at times, with the agencies competing over many issues, including control of anticrime initiatives, officials on both sides say.

Mr. Vance’s predecessor, Robert M. Morgenthau, who became the pre-eminent district attorney in the country while holding the post for 35 years, was once a close ally of Mr. Vance’s, providing crucial support for his election in 2009. Mr. Vance worked for Mr. Morgenthau in the 1980s.

Now, Mr. Morgenthau, 91, rarely speaks to Mr. Vance.

Mr. Morgenthau has apparently become displeased with Mr. Vance’s management style and his revamping of the staff that Mr. Morgenthau put together, according to people who know both men well.

Mr. Vance’s supporters attribute the criticism of his tenure to people who are unsettled by his efforts to reinvigorate and modernize an office that his supporters say had stagnated under Mr. Morgenthau. They pointed out that only after Mr. Vance became district attorney were prosecutors given smartphones.

Still, the second-guessing of Mr. Vance’s leadership has intensified in the wake of a string of courtroom losses that culminated in the startling events last week, when prosecutors revealed their concerns about the honesty of the hotel housekeeper who accused Mr. Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault in May.

Even a member of the finance committee for Mr. Vance’s 2009 campaign, Gerald L. Shargel, a Manhattan defense lawyer, questioned how the case had been handled.

“What’s most curious is hearing the line prosecutors saying early on that they had a strong case, a very strong case,” Mr. Shargel said. “Obviously, they hadn’t looked very hard. I have enormous respect for Cy as a prosecutor, but this is like a series of bad dreams.”

A judge in Manhattan freed Mr. Strauss-Kahn from house arrest on Friday, and the case against him appeared to be collapsing.

In the weeks before that, Mr. Vance’s office failed to win rape convictions against two New York police officers accused of sexually assaulting a drunken woman (the officers were found guilty of lesser charges). And the most significant terrorism charges were dropped against two men accused of planning attacks against synagogues in the city, though serious counts remain.

Some of the most pointed complaints about Mr. Vance are emanating from the district attorney’s office itself, according to numerous interviews with prosecutors and other officials. They spoke on the condition that their names not be used, saying they feared reprisals.

Several said they worried that cases were often pursued with an excessive focus on whether they would generate publicity. Some said Mr. Vance had taken away the discretion of midlevel prosecutors, sometimes to the detriment of cases.

Those two issues, some prosecutors said, contributed to the difficulties in the case against Mr. Strauss-Kahn, the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund who had been considered a leading contender for the French presidency.

After Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s arrest, the district attorney’s office faced the question of whether to ask a judge to keep him in custody.

To do so, the office had to obtain an indictment within five days. The alternative was to agree to a bail package so that prosecutors could take their time investigating the case before deciding whether to indict, according to four people briefed on the matter.

In the end, Mr. Vance chose a quick indictment, drawing criticism that he had moved before he knew of the accuser’s background.

Prosecutors have said in court that they decided to seek the indictment and to keep Mr. Strauss-Kahn in custody to avoid the possibility of Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s fleeing the country.

The case also unfolded as a rift had already developed between Mr. Vance and the chief of the office’s sex crimes unit, Lisa Friel. She stepped down last week under circumstances that were not entirely clear. It did not appear that her decision was directly related to the Strauss-Kahn case.

Early on, Mr. Vance took the case away from the sex crimes unit and gave it to two other experienced assistant district attorneys...

Strauss-Kahn Is Released as Case Teeters
New York Times
July 1, 2011

Dominique Strauss-Kahn was released from house arrest on Friday as the sexual assault case against him moved one step closer to dismissal after prosecutors told a Manhattan judge that they had serious problems with the case.

Prosecutors acknowledged that there were significant credibility issues with the hotel housekeeper who accused Mr. Strauss-Kahn of trying to rape her in May. In a brief hearing at State Supreme Court in Manhattan, prosecutors did not oppose his release; the judge then freed Mr. Str on his own recognizance.

The development represented a stunning reversal in a case that reshaped the French political landscape and sparked debate about morals, the treatment of women and the American justice system. The case could also alter the political fortunes of Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, who is just a year and a half into his tenure and was facing his most highly publicized case to date.

Mr. Strauss-Kahn, 62, was considered a strong contender for the French presidency before being accused of sexually assaulting the housekeeper who went to clean his luxury suite at the Sofitel New York. After his arrest, Mr. Strauss-Kahn resigned his position as managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

From Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s first court appearance on May 16, Mr. Vance’s office expressed extreme confidence in its case. At that hearing, an assistant district attorney said that “the victim provided very powerful details consistent with violent sexual assault committed by the defendant.”

At another court appearance three days later, prosecutors said the victim “offered a compelling and unwavering story” and that the proof against Mr. Strauss-Kahn was “continuing to grow every day.”

Those accounts varied greatly from what prosecutors revealed on Friday, acknowledging publicly for the first time that the case was not as strong as they initially suggested. In a letter sent to Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers and filed with Justice Michael J. Obus on Friday, prosecutors outlined some of what they had discovered about Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s accuser.

Prosecutors disclosed that the woman had admitted lying in her application for asylum from Guinea; according to the letter, she “fabricated the statement with the assistance of a male who provided her with a cassette recording” that she memorized. She also admitted that her claim that she had been the victim of a gang rape in Guinea was also a lie.

The woman also admitted to the prosecutors that she had misrepresented her income to qualify for her housing, and had declared a friend’s child — in addition to her own daughter — as a dependent on tax returns to increase her tax refund.

Questions are sure to be raised about how swiftly and vigorously prosecutors proceeded with the case, as many in France questioned whether there was a rush to judgment with Mr. Strauss-Kahn.

While prosecutors have not yet dismissed the case, Mr. Strauss-Kahn will now be able to move about the country more freely; although prosecutors will retain his passport, most of his restrictive bail conditions have been lifted. Under those conditions, he was required to stay in a Lower Manhattan town house under armed guard and wearing an ankle monitor. He could only leave for certain reasons and had to notify prosecutors when he left.

Although forensic tests found unambiguous evidence of a sexual encounter between Mr. Strauss-Kahn and the woman, prosecutors now do not believe much of what the accuser has told them about the circumstances or about herself.

Since her initial allegation on May 14, the accuser has repeatedly lied, one of the law enforcement officials said.

According to the two officials, the woman had a phone conversation with an incarcerated man within a day of her encounter with Mr. Strauss-Kahn in which she discussed the possible benefits of pursuing the charges against him. The conversation was recorded.

That man, the investigators learned, had been arrested on charges of possessing 400 pounds of marijuana. He is among a number of individuals who made multiple cash deposits, totaling around $100,000, into the woman’s bank account over the last two years. The deposits were made in Arizona, Georgia, New York and Pennsylvania.

The investigators also learned that she was paying hundreds of dollars every month in phone charges to five companies. The woman had insisted she had only one phone and said she knew nothing about the deposits except that they were made by a man she described as her fiancé and his friends...

Matt Flegenheimer and Colin Moynihan contributed reporting.

Friday, June 24, 2011

SDPD Urged Charging Cop, But Sent Him Back to Patrol When Bonnie Dumanis refused to charge him

A woman told police in February 2010 that San Diego police officer Anthony Arevalos sexually assaulted her while transporting her to jail. Police recommended charges but prosecutors declined to pursue them in court. So police sent Arevalos back to work.

Police had acknowledged the woman’s complaint and said it had not resulted in charges. But it wasn’t publicly known that they recommended charges against one of their own and prosecutors declined to pursue them.

How police responded to the complaint raises more questions about internal oversight following the largest scandal for the San Diego Police Department under Chief Bill Lansdowne. At least five women say they were solicited for sexual favors or sexually assaulted by Arevalos after investigators dismissed the 2010 complaint.

SDPD Urged Charging Cop, But Sent Him Back to Patrol
June 23, 2011
by Keegan Kyle

Sitting in court this week, former San Diego police officer Anthony Arevalos watched woman after woman accuse him of sexually assaulting them, soliciting bribes and falsely imprisoning them.

But the woman who first complained of being sexually assaulted by Arevalos was not among them. Police investigated her complaint in February last year. They recommended prosecutors with the District Attorney's Office bring charges against one of their own.

And the case stopped there.

The District Attorney's Office declined to press charges, three SDPD sources told, and the Police Department sent Arevalos back to the streets where he worked as a traffic cop patrolling for drunk drivers — a post in which he arrested women more often than any of his peers...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Should filming the police get you arrested?

Jun 21, 2011
Should filming the police get you arrested?
A newly released video shows a woman being taken into custody for taping cops while standing on her own property
By David Sirota

Last month, I wrote a column on how police departments across the country are simultaneously employing ever-more sophisticated surveillance techniques while trying to criminalize the act of recording police officers in public spaces. This latter effort comes -- not coincidentally -- at a time when police forces are facing potential federal investigations into police brutality.

To get a sense of just how far some police departments seem willing to go to prevent citizens from exercising their civil right to record public spaces, watch this recently released video of a Rochester woman who appears to be getting arrested for video taping police from her own front lawn. (Note: The police officer in the video refers to an earlier exchange, so there may be another aspect to this story.)

For more details on the situation surrounding the Rochester arrest, go here. Needless to say, the event epitomizes the situation -- and shows how the use of police powers in this way is one major part of a larger campaign to criminalize free speech.

June 21, 2011
Rochester Police Arrest Woman For Videotaping Them From Her Front Yard
By Carlos Miller

A woman was arrested for videotaping police from her front yard in Rochester, New York.

Emily Good, 28, was recording a traffic stop where police had a man handcuffed on May 12th. The video was uploaded to Blip TV today.

The cop who arrested her has been identified as Mario Masic, according to the Rochester Indy Media.

A man named Mario Masic who happens to be a police officer in western New York also runs a business called Harvest Moon Malamutes.


Mario Masic apparrently treats dogs better than he does camera-toting citizens

You can friend him on Facebook here. Or you can email him through his business email address at

The video, which has since gone viral, shows Masic hassling Good with absurd notions after he notices her recording.

“I don’t feel safe with you standing behind me, so I’m going to ask you to go into your house,”

“You seem very anti-police … due to what you said to me before you started taping me.”

It is not clear what Good said before she started recording, but if she said anything threatening, they would have arrested her at that moment.

She ended up getting handcuffed and taken away after she refused to walk into her house, even though she was clearly on her own property.

A friend or relative ended up taking the camera and we see her being led away.

Neighbors who witnessed the interaction confirmed she had done nothing wrong.

Meanwhile, the man they had originally handcuffed was released.

Mickey H. Osterreicher, attorney for the National Press Photographers Association, fired off a letter to Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard demanding that Good's charges be dropped.

Sheppard told Osterreicher and the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper that he has ordered an investigation, which normally is police talk for sweeping it under the carpet until the media attention dies down.

Police Illegally Trespass and Arrest Woman in Her Front Lawn for Recording Traffic Stop: An Eyewitness Report

Ryan Acuff
13 May 2011

At 9:50pm Thursday May 12, 2011 officer Mario Masic illegally trespassed and arrested a woman in her front lawn while she unobtrusively recorded a suspicious traffic stop in front of her house.
The Illegal Detention and Search of a Young Black Male

On Thursday night I was at my friend's house when at about 9:45pm my friend and I saw flashing lights in front of the house. We both went outside to see what the commotion was about and we found two police cars blocking the street as they were performing a traffic stop. Later on a third police car pulled up making a total of four officers on the scene. The person pulled over was a young black male. It was unclear why the man was originally pulled over but one of the officers interrogated the man and accused him of possessing drugs. Not satisfied with the man's answers, the police took the man out of his car, handcuffed and put him in the back of a police car. After the man was detained, the police officers searched his car and found no drugs. The officers then released the man and said he was free to go. As the man drove away about 9:55pm he didn't appear to receive a ticket.

The Illegal Trespass and Arrest Of a Woman Recording Incident

As soon my friend and I came out to observe the police activity in front of the house located in the 19th Ward my friend began to record the events with her IPhone. While the police were searching and detaining the driver of the car one of the officers noticed that my friend was recording the whole incident. He began to question her with an aggressive tone claiming he felt unsafe with her “standing behind him”. Interestingly, at no point was his back turned to us, so presumably he was upset that she was observing and taping. My friend responded that she had the right to observe. The officer responded that she did not have the right to observe from the sidewalk. My friend immediately moved back into her grass before the sidewalk. Then the officer ordered us both inside the house. The woman calmly noted that she had the right to be on her own property and the right to observe the police activity unobstructed. The officer commented that he thought she was “anti-police” and approached the woman stating “are you seriously not going to obey my order?” As the officer trespassed on to the property in a threatening manner, we began to walk toward the house. As we approached the porch, the officer said, “I'm just going to arrest you” and came onto the property to arrest the woman. She was put into a police car and taken away at about 9:55pm. According to the arrested woman, after the arrest the four police met in the parking lot of Wilson High School around the corner and had a conference for about an hour about how to deal with the case. A Sargent came over and gave them advice about how to write up the report that would minimize their wrong doing.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ramona teen sues sheriff's deputies for assault, battery

Ramona teen sues sheriff's deputies for assault, battery
June 17, 2011

A 17-year-old Ramona boy has filed a $1 million lawsuit in federa court against San Diego County sheriff's deputies who he says beat and wrongfully arrested him in December 2009.

Ramona lawyer Julie M. Kiehne-Lamkin filed the civil suit in federal court on behalf of the teen, according to court records. Deputies were served with the lawsuit on Monday.

The lawsuit seeks damages for civil rights violations, assault and battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It names several sheriff's deputies, the Sheriff's Department, and the county as defendants.

Lt. Julie Sutton, commander of the Ramona Sheriff's Substation, said Tuesday she was aware of the lawsuit. She declined to comment further on the matter, citing department policy against discussing personnel and legal matters.

Kiehne-Lamkin declined Wednesday to comment on the specifics of the case, and said she advised her client against speaking to the media. She said the defendants have until July 5 to respond to the complaint.

According to court records, the teen ---- who is identified in court records as J.K.G. because of federal protections for juveniles ---- was approached by Ramona sheriff's Deputy Thomas Seiver at about 8:10 p.m. Dec. 29, 2009, as he skateboarded in the 1100 block of Main Street.

Seiver stopped J.K.G. because the deputy was investigating reports of a suspicious person tampering with vehicles in the parking lot of Mi Ranchito restaurant, 1028 Main St., according to the records.

Seiver searched the young man, confiscated his cell phone, and then punched the teen in the face twice, according to the court records. The court records say Seiver then choked the teen, threw him to the ground, and "grinded (his) face onto the parking lot pavement."

A video apparently taken shortly after J.K.G. was released to his mother on Dec. 29, 2009, was available Wednesday on

In the video, there are numerous cuts and abrasions on the teen's forehead and nose, and his nose, lips and one of his eyes appears swollen.

According to the records, J.K.G. did not resist Seiver, run from him, or make any attempt to hurt or threaten him.

Another deputy arrived and helped put the bleeding teenager into the back of a patrol vehicle, according to the records.

The deputies took the teen back to Mi Ranchito restaurant where they found no evidence that the young man had tampered with vehicles, according to the court records.

The teen was reportedly booked into the Ramona Sheriff's Substation then released to his mother, according to court records.

Though J.K.G. was bleeding and in pain, the deputies never offered him medical care, the records say.

The lawsuit accuses several deputies of working together to lie about the incident in their official reports.

The teenager was charged with resisting arrest and battery on a peace officer, according to the court records. A judge examined evidence and witnesses at a hearing in juvenile court on June 11, 2010, and dismissed all charges.

Kiehne-Lamkin said she filed a claim with the county that sought damages on her client's behalf, but it was rejected without investigation.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Police Quietly Disbanded Anticorruption Unit

If a prostitute ever offered sexual favors to avoid arrest, officers used to consider that she might have be placed there as part of a sting by the anticorruption unit...But what's diminished over the years, several said, is the culture of self-policing that prevents misconduct altogether.

Police Quietly Disbanded Anticorruption Unit
May 13, 2011
by Keegan Kyle
Voice of San Diego

Shortly after Bill Lansdowne became police chief in 2003 he quietly disbanded an anticorruption unit assigned with proactively investigating the kind of criminal allegations that have recently stained the department's public image.

On Wednesday, police announced charging one of their own with kidnapping and raping a 34-year-old woman while on duty. The officer, Daniel Dana, 26, is no longer employed by the department and was the 10th officer accused of serious or criminal misconduct in recent months.

A decade ago, a case like Dana's would have been investigated by a seven-person anticorruption unit that specifically focused on allegations of criminal misconduct. The unit had more funding and time to investigate internal misconduct than other units, and the officers often used undercover or surveillance operations to proactively monitor their colleagues for wrongdoing.

Undercover operations involved planting money in squad cars or the pockets of suspects to check that police would properly impound it, for example. If a prostitute ever offered sexual favors to avoid arrest, officers used to consider that she might have be placed there as part of a sting by the anticorruption unit.

To maintain a level of investigative secrecy from the rest of the department, the anticorruption unit even rented its own office in Old Town for about $2,000 a month, according to City Council meeting minutes. Most special units operate out of the department's headquarters in the East Village.

Police created the team in the early 1990s with much fanfare, but after Lansdowne became chief in 2003, it disappeared without public notice. Like other specialized units and task forces that the SDPD has pulled out of under Lansdowne, the move shifted resources internally to prioritize reactive functions like patrol rather than preventive efforts.

With the anticorruption unit gone, police reassigned the job of investigating criminal misconduct to teams specialized in the alleged crimes. Because Dana's case involves an alleged rape, for example, it's now being investigated by the Sex Crimes Unit.

Paul Cooper, Lansdowne's legal and policy advisor, cited two reasons for disbanding the unit. Mainly, he said, Lansdowne felt all crimes — regardless of any affiliation with the department — should be investigated by specialists. The anticorruption unit was staffed by generalists, or investigators with a wide knowledge of many types of crimes. Lansdowne argued that specialists were more efficient.

And second, Cooper said, the move saved the cash-crunched department rent and other funding. It already had the Internal Affairs Unit to investigate violations of department policy.

"We've been under constraint financially since he got here," Cooper said of Lansdowne.

Among current and former police officers interviewed about the anticorruption unit, none said its dissolution appears to have negatively impacted the quality of investigations once serious allegations like those against Dana arise. But what's diminished over the years, several said, is the culture of self-policing that prevents misconduct altogether.

Three current officers spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing concern about possible reprisals for being critical of Lansdowne's decisions, and because they were directed from the top down to not speak with reporters unless authorized by the department's media relations staff. Questions about the anticorruption team, officially called the Professional Standards Unit, were directed by other officers to Cooper and Executive Assistant Police Chief David Ramirez, Lansdowne's No. 2.

Separately, the three officers said disbanding the anticorruption unit had signaled internally that monitoring for misconduct was a lower priority under Lansdowne and became one of numerous factors contributing to a culture that provides greater room for bad behavior to fester.

"That is what started this whole ball of actions," one officer said, referring to the spike in allegations. "They've gotten out of control."

Former Police Chief Bob Burgreen created the anticorruption unit around the time of the Rodney King incident in Los Angeles and a spur of public outcry for more oversight of law enforcement.
It added investigative teeth to the Internal Affairs Unit, which had the broad responsibility of reviewing all potential violations of department policy.

The new team, officially called the Professional Standards Unit, was staffed by veteran investigators while the Internal Affairs Unit typically got newly promoted investigative officers. If any complaint was too complex for the Internal Affairs Unit to handle within its limited time constraints, the Professional Standards Unit took over.

The Internal Affairs Unit, which continues today, is also a reactive operation. While the Professional Standards Unit would seek out and monitor for police misconduct, the Internal Affairs Unit only responds to complaints. If no one complains, police don't investigate.

David Kennedy, who studies crime prevention and policy at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said anticorruption units like the one San Diego had are rare nationwide. Most law enforcement agencies only respond to complaints through internal affairs, but very few address misconduct proactively using tools like undercover agents or surveillance.

"That's a very strong impact on the culture of the organization," Kennedy said. "Culture here matters more than anything else. When the tone of an agency is we don't put up with it, you're going to have a pretty high degree of self-policing."

At the time police announced the Professional Standards Unit they said it would also provide ethics training since officers didn't receive any after the academy. But police today don't recall that ever happening. Its main focus was investigations.

On Tuesday, Lansdowne announced a plan to address the recent spike in misconduct allegations that appear unparalleled to any period after the 1990s spike that spurred the anticorruption unit. Ten officers have been accused of various crimes, including drunken driving, assault, stalking and rape. Five have been formally charged in court. Dana, the officer accused of rape, appeared in court today for the first time and pleaded not guilty.

In response to the series, Lansdowne said that the department would add three or four officers to the Internal Affairs Unit, review internal policies, create a confidential hotline and boost ethics training for lower-ranking supervisors.

In a story published by the Union-Tribune on Friday, Mayor Jerry Sanders endorsed the plan and said he continues to fully support Lansdowne as the city's police chief. He described the rash of incidents as an embarrassment and echoed Lansdowne's assertion that it was correlated to stress among officers.

"Usually you would anticipate somebody who hasn't been on very long because you don't know them as well," Sanders told the Union-Tribune. "But when you get officers with 14, 15, 17, 20 years doing stuff like this, that's very concerning."

However, Cooper said Lansdowne's decision to boost staffing for internal affairs does not signal any retraction about eliminating the anticorruption unit years ago. Despite the recent spike in serious allegations, the police chief continues to support the system he created.

If the department had felt there was a need to proactively monitor its officers like the anticorruption unit did, Cooper said, it could have still done that with other specialized units in the department. But he declined to say whether the need now exists to do those types of operations.

Cooper disagreed with sentiment that losing the anticorruption unit has contributed to more misconduct. He called the anticorruption unit's dissolution unrelated and said officers are still deterred from misconduct by the prospect of losing their jobs or going to prison.

It's not an anticorruption team that deters bad behavior, Cooper said. "It's the criminal justice system."

Still, that even some officers in the department have tied the anticorruption unit with the recent wave of serious allegations resonated with Samuel Walker, a nationally renowned expert on police accountability policies.

"It's extremely significant that officers appear to have a commitment to accountability and they want this unit and they see problems developing when it was disbanded," Walker said. "It's really almost unthinkable in most police departments that officers would want and would value that kind of a unit."

In most agencies, Walker said, police officers would perceive the unit as an operation that's simply out to get them and reject its presence.

"Things just don't happen out of the blue," Walker said. "Officers tend to slide into misconduct."

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Homeless advocate awarded $4,000 in arrest case

This jury obviously thought that the cop used too much force, but it didn't want to say so.

Homeless advocate awarded $4,000 in arrest case
By Kristina Davis
May 2, 2011

A jury on Monday found that a San Diego police officer used unreasonable force and was negligent during a 2009 sidewalk encounter that left a longtime homeless advocate injured.

The jury awarded $2,925 for medical costs to activist John David Ross, known as the “Water Man,” and another $1,000 for physical pain and emotional suffering.

The verdict read in San Diego Superior Court went in favor of Officer Daniel McLaughlin on several other points, finding that his conduct was lawful, that he didn’t assault Ross, and that he acted in good faith when he detained Ross in the East Village.

The mixed verdict seemed to please both the officer, a 12-year veteran of the force, and Ross, best known for handing out bottled water to the homeless.

“I’m very happy with the verdict,” McLaughlin said after the verdict was read. “I was found not to be at fault almost completely.”

Outside of the courtroom, Ross shook McLaughlin’s hand, to which the officer replied, “See you out there.”

Ross said later that he has no ill will toward the officer and hopes to continue to work with the Police Department on homeless issues.

“I’m elated. I’m very happy,” Ross said. “It sends a message to our city in general that we must use tolerance, justice and restraint and not ID and profile people due to circumstances. You should treat people in La Jolla and Point Loma the same as you treat people in the inner city.”

Ross, who was 74 at the time, claimed in his lawsuit that he was distributing water from the back of his vehicle on March 15, 2009, when McLaughlin pulled up and told the crowd to disperse. The officer then threw one of the homeless men, Myron Hill, against a wall, Ross testified.

When Ross asked what was happening, the officer twisted Ross’ arm and tossed him to the ground.

Ross said he suffered a concussion and exacerbated an old injury to his right shoulder.

Another man, Marvin Britton, crossed 17th Street to help Ross and was also shoved by the officer, according to the lawsuit.

The jury, which took two days to deliberate on the weeklong trial, found that McLaughlin did not use unreasonable force against Hill and Britton and that he was within his rights as a police officer to detain both.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

SD City College’s Suspected Killer Remains A Fugitive Six Months Later

SD City College’s Suspected Killer Remains A Fugitive Six Months Later
By Amita Sharma
March 23, 2011

It has been more than six months since San Diego City College student Diana Gonzalez was found murdered inside a campus bathroom but investigators are no closer to catching her suspected killer.

Police believe Armando Gabriel Perez fled to Mexico shortly after he murdered Gonzalez. Despite help from Mexican authorities, Perez has remained elusive. There are published reports in Mexico that Perez is working as an assassin for the Sinaloa drug cartel. San Diego City College Professor Larissa Dorman, who has acted as an advocate for Gonzalez’s family, said the news – if true – is alarming.

“It makes it even more scary for the family, who are devastated not only for the loss of their daughter but for the loss of their lives and the likelihood of them having any kind of closure now seems like a farther-away possibility," Dorman said.

A spokesman for District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis says catching Perez is a high priority for the office. Gonzalez was killed days after the D.A.’s office declined to prosecute Perez for allegedly kidnapping and choking her.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Cop Nearly Doors Cyclist, Then Chases And Arrests Her

Cop Nearly Doors Cyclist, Then Chases And Arrests Her
By John Del Signore
April 6, 2011

On Monday, cyclist message boards lit up with outrage over the story of a woman who was arrested after supposedly running a red light on her bicycle on Amsterdam Avenue. But it turns out the truth is actually more outrageous: Christina Thede, the cyclist in question, tells us she didn't run a red light at all. Her crime? Criticizing a plainclothes cop who nearly doored her.

Thede, a 28-year-old theater technician on the Upper West Side, tells us she was biking home on Sunday around 6 p.m. when the driver's side door of a double parked black car popped open suddenly on Amsterdam between 76th and 77th Streets. "I had to brake so abruptly that a delivery biker behind me ran into me," says Thede. "I had a verbal exchange with the driver in which I told him to watch what he was doing." Then she rode on, but soon realized that the guy had gotten back into his car and was zooming up behind her. She still had no idea this man was an officer of the law, and the situation devolved from there:

He was driving after me and I was scared. He kept slowing down alongside me, so I cut all the way over to the left lane. But he angrily skidded to a stop in front of me, pulling his car perpendicular to traffic in the left lane. Then I got off my bike and tried to walk my bike onto the sidewalk because I wasn't going to run out into traffic. That's when he grabbed the back of my bike and started pulling it.

He didn't say he was a cop and I thought, 'This guy's crazy, he's attacking me!' I screamed for help and he started restraining my arms and holding me so I couldn't move. People on the street stopped and started asking him what he was doing. I did not hear him say he was a police officer or see any indication he was a police officer, so I was terrified. Then an NYPD squad car arrived and my initial thought was that they were going to save me from this guy; I figured the bystanders had called 911.

But instead of handcuffing her assailant, they slapped the cuffs on Thede, and that's when she realized that it was a policeman who had chased her. "I asked one of the police officers who was telling me to calm down if this guy and the passenger in his car were really cops," Thede recalls. "And she confirmed that they were from the Central Park precinct. I overheard a bystander say, 'I think she ran a red light.' But that's not true. He was hotheaded and couldn't take someone telling him what he did was wrong so he needed to come after me and teach me a lesson."

Thede was charged with reckless operation of a bicycle and disorderly conduct, and spent about an hour at the local precinct station house. During that time, the cop who arrested her, one "Sgt. Santiago" according to the summons, tried to justify the arrest. Thede says, "He told me that when I went around the door of his car to continue, that that was reckless because I was going into traffic. He maintained that I wasn't allowed to swerve around. But I came to a complete stop, exchanged words with him, then rode around his still-opened door. He said he arrested me because he was concerned for his safety."

We're waiting to hear back from the NYPD on this, but Thede's lawyer believes the tickets will be dismissed, and she tells us she's considering suing the city.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Willfully ignoring entire trial record, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas reduce constitutional question to a single misdeed by a single bad actor

Cruel but Not Unusual
Clarence Thomas writes one of the meanest Supreme Court decisions ever.
By Dahlia LithwickPosted
April 1, 2011

In 1985, John Thompson was convicted of murder in Louisiana. Having already been convicted in a separate armed robbery case, he opted not to testify on his own behalf in his murder trial. He was sentenced to death and spent 18 years in prison—14 of them isolated on death row—and watched as seven executions were planned for him. Several weeks before an execution scheduled for May 1999, Thompson's private investigators learned that prosecutors had failed to turn over evidence that would have cleared him at his robbery trial. This evidence included the fact that the main informant against him had received a reward from the victim's family, that the eyewitness identification done at the time described someone who looked nothing like him, and that a blood sample taken from the crime scene did not match Thompson's blood type.

In 1963, in Brady v. Maryland, the Supreme Court held that prosecutors must turn over to the defense any evidence that would tend to prove a defendant's innocence. Failure to do so is a violation of the defendant's constitutional rights. Yet the four prosecutors in Thompson's case managed to keep secret the fact that they had hidden exculpatory evidence for 20 years. Were it not for Thompson's investigators, he would have been executed for a murder he did not commit.

Both of Thompson's convictions were overturned. When he was retried on the murder charges, a jury acquitted him after 35 minutes. He sued the former Louisiana district attorney for Orleans Parish, Harry Connick Sr. (yes, his dad) for failing to train his prosecutors about their legal obligation to turn over exculpatory evidence to the defense. A jury awarded Thompson $14 million for this civil rights violation, one for every year he spent wrongfully incarcerated. The district court judge added another $1 million in attorneys' fees. A panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the verdict. An equally divided 5th Circuit, sitting en banc, affirmed again.

But this week, writing on behalf of the five conservatives on the Supreme Court and in his first majority opinion of the term, Justice Clarence Thomas tossed out the verdict, finding that the district attorney can't be responsible for the single act of a lone prosecutor. The Thomas opinion is an extraordinary piece of workmanship, matched only by Justice Antonin Scalia's concurring opinion, in which he takes a few extra whacks at Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dissent. (Ginsburg was so bothered by the majority decision that she read her dissent from the bench for the first time this term.) Both Thomas and Scalia have produced what can only be described as a master class in human apathy. Their disregard for the facts of Thompson's thrashed life and near-death emerges as a moral flat line. Scalia opens his concurrence with a swipe at Ginsburg's "lengthy excavation of the trial record" and states that "the question presented for our review is whether a municipality is liable for a single Brady violation by one of its prosecutors." But only by willfully ignoring that entire trial record can he and Thomas reduce the entire constitutional question to a single misdeed by a single bad actor.

Both parties to this case have long agreed that an injustice had been done. Connick himself conceded that there had been a Brady violation, yet Scalia finds none. Everyone else concedes that egregious mistakes were made. Scalia struggles to rehabilitate them all.

One of the reasons the truth came to light after 20 years is that Gerry Deegan, a junior assistant D.A. on the Thompson case, confessed as he lay dying of cancer that he had withheld the crime lab test results and removed a blood sample from the evidence room...