Monday, November 1, 2010

Why No Accountability? Part I

[Update, Thursday, Nov. 4,10:50 AM]: My apologies for not posting in the past few days. I have been busy with my day job, and I owe some work to attorneys who patiently are waiting and, so far, have been nice about it.

Part II is coming, as well as some other commentary. [End Update]

One of the subjects to which I return time and again is accountability, the holding to account of wrongdoers who engage in criminal or near-criminal activity while supposedly acting under the color or law. For example, during the Tonya Craft trial, prosecutors Chris Arnt and Len Gregor knowingly suborned perjured testimony, then conspired with "judge" Brian Outhouse to make sure that the jury never saw documented proof that the witnesses were lying.

We saw the prosecutors and Det. Tim Deal work together to fabricate a document that did not exist when the trial began that purported to show that Sandra Lamb's daughter had "disclosed" the infamous "hand rape" to Suzi Thorne. Perjury is a felony. Subornation of perjury is a felony. Fabricating documents during a trial is a felony. Witnesses saw all of these things occurring during Tonya's trial, yet the people who committed these crimes, Arnt, Gregor, Thorne, Sandra Lamb, Joal and Sarah Henke, Deal, and Sherry Wilson will not have to face one second of legal scrutiny for what they did.

Likewise, we have seen the same dishonest nonsense in the Jacobson case in which lie after lie has been told, and the police and prosecutors have covered up lies and tried to push lies as the truth. Yet, the perpetrators know that they are safe.

Why? Why the lack of accountability? The answers are institutional in nature. I'd like to say that it is because men like Gregor and Arnt are fundamentally dishonest, and maybe they are. What I know of these people, both are narcissistic bullies, both are competitive, and neither has much of a moral compass.

Yet, that is not enough, although time and again we find that people in authority who do these things tend to be amoral at best and immoral at worst. Now, there are two ways to approach the institutional nature of this issue.

The first would be to say that most people who enter certain institutional settings, like police departments or prosecutors' offices in which they are given immense amounts of authority, do so with good intentions. They "want to make a difference" or want to "do good."

However, the daily realities of the job soon make them jaded. Cops deal with human refuse and people who really do horrible things to others, and prosecutors have to prosecute these folks. And it really is true that the vast majority of people who are arrested and prosecuted are guilty. Yes, guilty.

Unfortunately, the nature of their jobs also makes them jaded, and their view of the world becomes: "I am a hammer, and everyone else is a nail," or "If you are not guilty of this, you certainly are guilty of something else for which you were not caught, so don't tell me you are innocent." Thus, beaten down by the sins of others, these cops and prosecutors move to the lowest level and protect themselves by assuming the worst in everyone else.

For the cop, life becomes a war of occupation. American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan face the terrible reality that as occupiers (for both are wars of occupation), they cannot tell the difference between friend and foe, which also was the case in Vietnam. Thus, everyone has to be treated as the enemy, lest one let down one's guard and the child to whom you are giving candy detonates a bomb that blows up you and your comrades. To make matters worse, a number of young men (and women) who come back from service in Iraq or Afghanistan are finding that police departments will hire them, so they bring the siege mentality with them on the job, going from one war of occupation to another.

There is truth to that example, and I have spoken to plenty of cops and prosecutors who have reached that point. I'm not sure that I would not be right there with them if I were in that same position, and I am very sympathetic to such a point of view. Furthermore, when I read about cases like that in Catoosa County concerning Greg Austin, my first inclination is to agree with the police reports and testimony, even though everything in my brain screams, "Innocent until proven guilty." In other words, I am not automatically inclined to dismiss everything cops and prosecutors say as a lie (even though I often am accused of that very thing).

There is a second institutional viewpoint, and that is that the nature of the work and the lack of accountability will attract people of lower character who self-select into such lines of work. The pay for prosecutors is relatively low compared to what attorneys make in private practice. Some people also go into prosecutorial work in order to get experience in the system before going into private defense work.

Nonetheless, private practice demands that attorneys be accountable to their clients, who can turn them into the state bar or who can tell others, while prosecutors do not have a difficult time piling on charges and drawing guilty pleas from the accused, which is how the vast majority of criminal cases are concluded. Furthermore, there is little or no accountability for prosecutors, including those who lie and are abusive. State bars won't touch them, unless the circumstances are so high-profile that they have to do something or run for cover.

Likewise, police departments are great places for people who enjoy bullying others and who want to "kick ass." The power one has not only to brutalize others but to be able to lie with impunity on a witness stand has to appeal to certain people who might enjoy having such a station in life.

Yet, so far, I have given some institutional reasons why certain kinds of people might self-select into the positions of police officer and prosecutor. The large issue is why there is little accountability for people who are employed in such positions. My next post will give my own reasons for why this is the case.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh, and how the bright light shines on Phil's kid again.

http://www.wrcbtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=13419599

Doc Ellis said...

re the Austin story: I gotta wonder why these children who allegedly called for help when the mother of one of them flushed keys down a toilet got Mr Austin. Where was the mother when all this was going on? Why were they stranded? WTF???

re today's essay. I think the cops and prostituters are mostly skanks. I don't care if they started out as skanks or if they became skanks through their experiences. They had choices on how they would behave and chose to behave as skanks.

Thank you for writing this.

Kerwyn said...

As a SANE/ER nurse, I agree wholeheartedly with your comments Bill. I am cynical, completely down to my toes, cynical.

I went into my profession with the glorious intent to save lives, succor the needy and bring compassion. After so many years of seeing "patients" who make every claim in the book in order to get drugs, "patients" who can't pay (welfare you know) who are sporting better jewelry than I can afford, fancy nail jobs, Iphones and the latest in hairstyles, "patients" that waste my time with petty complaints (attention seekers), "rape" victims who are not but would love to make some mans life a living nightmare, rape victims who are not but got caught cheating, rape victims who are not but are underage and the boyfriend is 18 (his life is over), women (mostly, but sometimes men) claiming their child has been molested so that they can get it all during a divorce......

The list is far to long, the above is a quick sampling.

What I have to do, every day, is grab my cynicism and shove it in a dark box and lock it down. I have to walk in the door of that exam room with nothing more in my head, than to do the best I can for whomever is inside regardless of my personal beliefs. That means, even tho I truly believe they are trying to manipulate and/or lie to me, I still go through ALL the steps before I make a judgement call. I do not allow myself to cut corners, even if I believe they are lying and I want to..badly. They are wasting my time and energy when I could be using it to care for the guy two rooms down who is having a heart attack.

These people take my care away from those who actually need it and it will and has caused me to become seriously jaded.

But, as a professional, I shove all that aside. I must, because all it takes is ONE TIME that I blow someone off because of that jaded attitude and I will destroy lives. I refuse as a person, to have such a jaded outlook that I would rush to judgement and cause such harm.

It is not the fact that I would be sued blind if I did such a thing, nor is it the fact I would never work in my field again if I were to do such a thing. It is instead my own personal sense of honor that refuses to give in to the cynicism that has claimed so many in my profession.

And I struggle with it daily....

Anonymous said...

The Austin story is very confusing. I'm still a believer in innocent until proven guilty, but 2 different counties in a very short period of time, sounds a bit odd.

I agree with Doc though. Where was the mother who supposedly flushed the keys? If she abandoned the kids, why wasn't she arrested? It's all very strange. Sounds like the guy might have a few issues and needs to stay away from teenage girls. If they are "bleeding him dry", then he needs to just walk away. But it will be interesting to see where this case goes in both counties. It's all just very mind-boggling.

UGA Mom

William L. Anderson said...

Kerwyn is correct. In my own work, I am not always dealing with students who are prepared not just for class but also for college itself. Yet, my job is not to "fix" them, but rather to do what I am supposed to do.

As I will emphasize in the next post, I believe that more and more, we are seeing bullies and dishonest people self-selecting into those lines of work for which they know they will not be held accountable. Seeing Len Gregor's behavior, for example, tells me that from the start, he has this strong desire to push around people and to dominate others. Defense attorneys generally cannot do that.

Furthermore, Gregor's legal skills definitely are behind the curve, so as a prosecutor, he can use force rather than follow the law, since men like "judge" brian outhouse don't believe in the law, either and let the Len Gregors of the world run wild.

Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve said...

And Kerwyn, it is your sense of honor that separates you from the vermin that infest the LMJC. That's what makes you a professional seeking the truth rather than an agent of the state hellbent on getting a conviction and using shortcuts plus perjured testimony when necessary.

The facts of the cases you work may haunt you at night but you can at least sleep w/a clear conscience. However, the wolves of the LMJC have no conscience so I'm sure they sleep well too. Keep up the daily struggle. You are winning.

Lookout Spy said...

Walker County Criminal Jury Trial Docket NOV 8, 2010: STATE OF GEORGIA v. JOHN CRAWFORD STANFIELD

Stanfield, among others is charged with child molestation. Actually about one in 10 defendants are charged with some sort of felony child crime. How does one "sexually exploit a minor" 35 times in one day?

I'm sure there is evil in the world, but of 210 jury trials, in Walker County alone, there are 111 charges involving child molestation or statutory rape, etc. Seems skewed to me. This happens monthly, in the LMJC, all four courts.

William L. Anderson said...

Whoa! I had NO idea it was that bad! Unbelievable. Looks as though this blog has more work to do.

Anonymous said...

The reason this happens in the LMJC.is because they are getting by it, No one to answer too. The Judges the Connellys, the Gregors the Stacie Longs. And every one in between these Crooks. But untill we knock their feet out from under them, they will continue as they are. There must be something we can do. Thank you Mr Anderson for another great blog. Keep them coming.

liberranter said...

"Self-selection" in the government legal professions (i.e., prosecutors, judges, and the cops who are their enforcers/bodyguards) is indeed the rule. While the system does see the occasional law-abiding idealist slip through the filters, they seldom ever last very long. If their "colleagues" don't chew them up and spit them out or devour them alive for holding themselves and other accountable, for respecting and acting in accordance with the law, or generally behaving like the "public servants" they are supposed to be, then the political establishment will run roughshod over them and destroy them. Remember: politicians love to posture about being "tough on crime," and that usually involves targeting unpopular and powerless elements of society and using "the law" and the courts as a bludgeon rather than an instrument of justice. People unfortunate enough to fall into this demographic group (which, given our national state of economic collapse, is getting bigger and bigger) are precisely the type of people that any, honest, law-abiding, conscientious "public servant" would be going to the ends of the earth to protect. Of course doing so would put them on a collision course with the political classes.

Again, there is no hope in a political solution...

Anonymous said...

Who do we need to vote for Barns or Deal. They both are crooks,which
of the two evils.. I need to know.

Anonymous said...

anon 5:16:

Neither. There's a Libertarian candidate on the ballot-Monds.

Anonymous said...

O.K. Thanks.

Lame said...

Dr Anderson's comment about college students reminds me of a conversation I overheard between a friend and one of his students while I was sitting in the graduate reading room at FSU's history department. The girl came into his office, which was next to the reading room--he was a student TA.

"Why did you give me a D on my report?"

He gave her a long list of things she did wrong, bad references, bad grammar, bad this and that. Then she said, "But my dad thinks it deserves an A."

Another time, one of my professors read to the class from two writing samples: one was an excerpt from a term paper he had just graded and the other was from a letter he had used as a source for his book that was written in 1860 by a person with only a 5th grade education. The 140 years sample was far and away better written.

David Mitchell, a British comedian and frequent guest on a show Mock the Week, made a joke on that show about the continual lowering of standards in education: "In 100 years time, everyone will be lounging around, wearing their Oxford doctoral robes, saying, 'Me clever, you clever.'"

Anonymous said...

Voting tomorrow! LMJC Ballots say "TO SUCCEED Judge Wood or Van Pelt". SUCCEED MEANS
THEY FOLLOWING AFTER CURRENT JUDGE AND ARE THE NEXT JUDGES. DO NOT MARK
NEXT TO THE NAMES OF THE JUDGES YOU WANT REMOVED! (To Succeed Ralph Van
Pelt, Jr.)(To Succeed Jon Bolling Wood) CHECKING NEXT THEM MEANS YOU
...WANT THEM TO BE RETAINED! The incu...mbent,
in politics, is the existing holder of a political office. THESE ARE
THE INCUMBENTS WITH NO ONE CHALLENGING. IF THEY DON'T GET ENOUGH VOTES
THE GOVERNOR HAS TO APPOINT NEW JUDGES.
http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1567065184#!/pages/VOTE-NO-TO-RETAIN-LOOKOUT-MOUNTAIN-JUDICIAL-CIRCUIT-JUDGES-GEORGIA/138026049560201

Anonymous said...

5:16, here is the problem. I would love to see Monds win, but he has no hope. A vote for him is essentially a vote for Deal. I'm a Libertarian and generally vote for that candidate or republican. I can not with a good heart or mind vote for Nathan Deal. He has been a huge problem for GA for 20 years & it's time for him to go. Many of my friends, who are republicans, feel the same way. They tend to want to argue with me because I'm an "L", but this time, they are actually voting for Barnes. I would not consider him the "lesser of 2 evils". His biggest mark came when he pushed to change the state flag. Something I was not happy about at all, but other than that, he was actually good for GA. Forget the mudslinging and negative ads & research. You have until 7 p.m. tonight to cast your ballot. As I said, I would LOVE to see Monds win, but outside of the Atlanta area, he has zero chance. Even if he received the "NO Deal" votes, he will still only end up with about 3%. Sad, sad, sad. So I will do something with a heavy heart, but a sharp mind & vote for Barnes.

I know we are supposed to be getting all of the Dems we can out of office....blah, blah, blah. Well, the republicans are having a field day with this. The rest of my ballot will be Libertarian & write ins. Also, you can go to the Secretary of state page, http://www.sos.ga.gov/mvp/ to look up a sample ballot for your district. We have several amendments on there & they need to be researched before you vote.

I agree with the person above about Monds, but sadly, it's a situation where his votes will better Deal's chances & Deal is bringing ethics charges with him. He won't answer any questions regarding them either. Plus, he has had 20 years to help GA & has done nothing but hurt us. If you ask him about the Craft trial, he will agree with the prosecution.

Also agree with 1:43, do not push the button to retain Van Pelt or Wood. Remember, you can write in also. But please, do not mark their names.

Hope the info was helpful.

Anonymous said...

I saw on the News where Summer son was in trouble again. It's sad but he knows how we feel,But his son is Guilty. How do you think he would feel knowing his son was innocent, I know my son is innocent
but lie after lie landed him in prison,You would think he would be
fair, And not hold up for all these crooks. The Judges Prosecutors and all the rest. Be a man and do what is right. Tell the truth and punish the ones that lie
hold them responsible for their actions. Do you think it will ever happen.

Trish said...

If you do nothing else today, get out and VOTE!!!!!!!!

Doc Ellis said...

A quote from Lysander Spooner on anonymous voting:

“These voters, having given their votes in secret have put it out of your power to designate your principals individually. You have no legal knowledge as to who voted for you. And being unable to designate your principals individually, you have no right to say that you have any principals. And having no right to say that you have any principals, you are mere usurpers, making laws and enforcing them upon your own authority alone. A secret ballot makes a secret government; and a secret government is nothing else than a government by conspiracy. And a government by conspiracy is the only government we now have. You say that “every voter exercises a public trust.” Who appointed him to that trust? Nobody. He simply usurped the power; he never accepted the trust. And because he usurped the power, he dares exercise it only in secret. Not one of all the voters who helped to place you in power would have dared to do so if he had known that he was to be held personally responsible for the acts of those for whom he voted.”

Lame said...

http://www.prlog.org/11042379-fraud-and-perjury-used-by-state-of-georgia-in-attempt-to-convict-tonya-craft-exposed.html

PRLog (Press Release) – Nov 02, 2010 – Georgia Prosecutors tried to imprison Tonya Craft for a four hundred eighty year prison term, and they used fraud and perjury to do it. Now - for the first time - Tonya’s lead defense attorney Dr. Demosthenes Lorandos will show the public the fraudulently created documents and the perjury the Georgia Prosecutors relied on to get their conviction.


He will be speaking at the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers annual seminar entitled “Confronting the Mob Mentality - Defending Sexual Assault Cases” on Thursday, November 4th at the Marriott Savannah Riverfront Hotel in Savannah, Georgia.

Trish said...

All these people may not be held accountable here on earth, but they will be held accountable by a much higher authority!!!

Kerwyn said...

It is the day after the elections...

I sat at dawn this morning with a memoir in my hands. It was written in 1897 by a man who had been born in West Virginia in 1819. His grandfather had fought in the Revolutionary War. In this small book, he detailed his life and amazingly enough, his politics. As I read the chapter covering his memories and views of the presidential elections for the year 1860, I found with some amusement, the rhetoric has changed little in over 100 years. The only caveat being, they were more civilized and measured in their speech. Icy disdain yes, but rather than the hate filled, lie filled, crazy claim filled rhetoric we see today, it was fact filled and passion filled.

We have been treated to the "elect me and I will undo all the wrong you perceive to have happened (insert said wrong here). Not one person I listened to from any state had a plan. No goal and no agenda other than "elect me". I heard more hate speak than I heard facts, I heard more supposed dirty secrets, than I heard "here is the plan I have", and I heard more made up drivel than I could shovel with a D handle (old farming term there).

In my politics, as in my professional life, I require facts, truth and proof. I didn't get that. I got "it's Obama's fault for "insert every blessed reason you can come up with here", so elect me. Apparently, the people of this country do not understand the concept of the 3 branches of government. If they did, they would understand that Obama actually has very little control over the day to day operation of this country. That rests in the hands of the House and Senate. I guess the folks who wanted to be elected counted on the fact that people don't understand this.

So as I sit here at dawn, reading this memory of the 1860 campaign, I realize not much has changed in our county except personal accountability. Back then, according to my ever so great Uncle, people did not want the government to intrude in their lives, thank you very much. They liked being completely self sufficient, they didn't NEED government money to live and didn't want the government to bother them.
Now all I hear is "someone" (being the government) should do something about "it". Instead of being personally accountable, instead of being honest and honorable, instead of standing up and saying, "yup, I did that", we have become a nation of finger pointers. It is always "someone else's" fault, it is always "someone else's" responsibility and it is always "someone else's" job.

When do WE as the people of this country make it our responsibility, our fault and our job to make right?

Anonymous said...

Kerwyn, thank you! Could not have said it better myself.

To add another thing, instead of people listening to the babble on the commercials or the pundits (don't get me started on those people), why don't people use a very powerful tool (internet) we have now to research candidates, amendments & referendums? I can not tell you how many posts I read last night & so far today from people saying, "did you get our message? If you don't get the job done, we're voting you out!" Really??? Is that really how these people voted? No it wasn't & I know this because I know the people & know why they voted straight tickets. If people truly felt this way, there might be a handful of people who were ever re-elected to any office in the last 100 years.

You are exactly right Kerwyn. That is the biggest difference. The hate & fear mongering that goes on does not even touch what our true government is based upon. Saddest part, the structure of government isn't being taught in our schools anymore, so all of the children of the people who don't understand it, will in turn not understand it.

I'm a history buff & was always fascinated by our government & how it worked, or should I say how it is suppose to work. Sad can not express what I have felt for many years regarding our "system".

Nothing "changed" yesterday except some red & blue. As I told quite a few people, let's talk in 6, 8 or 12 months & see what has "changed". Some said, "that's not enough time". My response, "isn't that the amount of time that was given to the current President?" Trust me, I'm not a fan of Obama & some of his doings. But show me a President any of us could stand behind 100%.

The 2 party system must go. I'm not part of either, so my voice is more limited.

Anonymous said...

Alright Georgia! You have managed to elect yourself one heck of a governor in the way of Deal. Nevermind all of the chatter about ethics violations. Sheesh... Some people are just gluttons for punishment.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Anderson, Where are you? I am having withdrawals..

Anonymous said...

People want things to change, and then go and vote the worst guy ever
for governor. What is the matter with you guys...

Anonymous said...

AND not only is Deal governor but both judges from the LMJC were left in office. Yay for VanPelt and Woods! At this rate, Brian House will be Attorney General in no time!

KC Sprayberry said...

Anon 8:05 - don't blame us. We tried the write-in vote. However, if you take note of teh GA election commission office tally results, you'll see van Pelt claiming a win with 9286 of 9286 votes, 100% and Wood with 9166 of 9166, again 100% - but at least 120 people have chimed in on another site about writing in candidates they wanted in the jobs. Hmmm? Something smells rotten here. We're filing complaints, some of us later than most since there was a DSL meltdown here in LaFayette tonight (just got back up) but with Deal as governor (don't blame everyone for that either, we tried) imagine the judges we'll have instead of those we know. Certainly will be an interesting term coming up. I can already feel the pinch on my wallet as taxes go up.

Lame said...

I've got to disagree somewhat about the hate and lies in the 1860 election. It may be that you did not see such lies and hate in that particular memoir, especially as it was from a West Virginia, an area that stayed loyal to the Union--for the most part. But, while conducting research for my master's thesis, I came across many newspaper articles, published sermons (especially from Baptist churches--I read one memoir which discussed being disfelowshiped from his baptist church after the war for saying that he was glad the North won, because he never really liked slavery), the political speeches, et cetera, and they were filled with hate, especially towards Lincoln. I read some of the most vile language, much of it directed at the north, well before secession, but Lincoln was treated as though he were the devil incarnate. I believe that Lincoln was the target of far more hate speech than Obama has, or even will be.

Kerwyn said...

Lame,

I was not clear. My Great Great Uncle was referring to speeches he heard made by Lincoln and Douglas. Another of my ever so great uncles was a state senator from Illinois at the time and wrote a very impassioned letter to the United States senate. He was a republican and very much wanted the south left alone, he was not a slave owner.

In the memoir, he does talk about the "unmannerly dialog being put forth by those who wish our country divided by hate" and pointed out that in Missouri, gangs of "unruly criminals" (who were paid by politicians) were preventing "folks from doing their duty". They were being stopped by armed men from voting!

Lame,

I my comments were directed at the rhetoric coming out of the candidates themselves, not the other radical idiots we have to contend with as well.

Lame said...

Gotcha Kerwyn,

I didn't think you were misunderstanding anything, just that you maybe were reading something that didn't have multiple perspectives--which isn't a bad thing, one perspective is just that, one perspective, and it's looking at many of them that we develope general consensus ideas. I mean, look at the Florida Secession Convention. One person's account is different from another person's account, depending upon where in the state the person was from, and what their notions about the issue were going into the convention. And, even then, people could say one thing and believe something slightly different. For example, I recently found that George T. Ward, the leading person who argued against secession argued upon philosophical/patriotic grounds, but what likely motivated him more than anything else was the fact that if Florida seceeded, he'd lose a huge amount of money in a contract he had to supply material to a New England-based naval stores company.

You are right, though, in that the politicians, well most of them, tempered their speech. But, no more or less than today. But, keep in mind, as well, that back then, even MORE than today, the newspapers were voices of political parties/interests. It was really the Hearsts and other major media magnates who developed the concept of unbiased reporting about political topics. But, even then, they got so powerful that they became their own politcal interest, and began to make their own political news. It's kind of back to the major news organizations being behind one side or the other, but it's nowhere near like what we had in the first 80 or so years of this country--with one newspaper accusing one candidate of having an affair with his slave girl and another newspaper accusing the opposing candidate of having committed some crime; back and forth between the newspapers (becuas back then, the candidates themselves didn't campaign, it was the newspapers that slung the mud for them).

Anonymous said...

KC, I'm late in reading your response. I too wonder how they received 100% of the votes when I know at least 40 people who did not mark or wrote in. Fishy as usual.

As for Nathan Deal, you can bet that he did not receive a vote from me! I fought hard against him & because of the "get the dems out" approach, he was elected. We are in for trouble his whole term. I literally was ready to put the house on the market & move across the state line. My friends who are teachers were absolutely sickened by it. Of course, they were also regretful of ever voting Barnes out due to the pay freeze. They did finally see that he was looking ahead & knew the economy was going to hell in a handbasket under W. In return, they recieved pay cuts, furloughs & job loss.

My prayer now is that the people of GA pay close attention & be ready to start the impeachment process as soon as the first shoe drops. Actually, befor it even hits the floor.

KC, what can we do about the Van Pelt & Wood thing? We know it's pure bunk, so where do we start?

UGA Mom