Saturday, January 29, 2011

We Have Reached the Goal!

Yes, two days before the campaign on The Point, we have passed the $5,000 threshold. Johanna and I are thankful to God and thankful for all of you who have contributed. (If you still wish to contribute, you can do so.)

This will be used to help with the up-front agency fees and the like.

Best wishes to all of you. Thanks!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Our "Point" Fundraising Efforts

At the top of this blog, you see the icon for The Point, which is an effort on our part to raise $5,000 by Monday, January 31, in pursuit of our adoption of a girl from Latvia. If we don't reach our goal, then we receive none of what has been pledged.

This is not part of an on-going campaign. We intend to finance most of the $30,000 needed ourselves, mostly by cutting way back on spending and by my picking up extra work on the side. Nonetheless, we are about $2,400 from our goal and hope that anyone who wishes to pledge will do so.

Thanks.

Harvey Silverglate on Federal Prosecutors and Free Speech

Harvey Silverglate has been one of my mentors for the past decade, and I consider him to be one of the greatest men living today. I see it as a real privilege to be able to ask him questions and to get truly wise answers in return.

Today, he has a wonderful and insightful piece on recent demands by federal prosecutors to have someone sentenced to extra years in prison because he had the temerity to speak out openly against them. In other words, they are demanding that speech be criminalized.

Interestingly, when federal prosecutors make outrageous and dishonest statements, they don't demand imprisonment for themselves. Federal prosecutor Amber Rosen told a federal appeals court that it was just fine for the feds to lie, and that defendants had no right to complain.

"Misstatements happen," she said.

Actually, not. What she meant was this: If prosecutors want to lie or say outrageous things, that is just fine and no one has a right to complain, and the courts should ignore whatever we do, no matter how dishonest or downright evil.

This is more than just "free speech for me, but not for thee." No, what federal prosecutors are telling us is that they get to live by a different set of rules. No lie is too outrageous and no conduct ever should be penalized, as long as prosecutors are the ones engaging in that conduct.

One might notice that President Obama did not cover this point in his SOTUS last night, not that I ever listen to presidential speeches, anyway. The prosecutors know that Obama has their backs.

(Thanks to Siobhan Reynolds for the link)

Monday, January 24, 2011

You Have to Be Wearing the Right Costume to Shoot a Dog

Americans are used to living with the fact that police officers are held to much lower standards of conduct than the rest of us. The blue costume and tin badge really matter -- if one wishes to engage in self-defense.

The standard for regular citizens (or what the police all "mundanes") is this: No matter how deadly a threat you or one of your loved ones may face from someone else, you can be charged with a felony for engaging in self-defense, and especially if that self-defense is carried out via a firearm.

However, if you wear the Blue Costume, then there really is no standard at all. If an officer claims to perceive a threat, then deadly force can be used indiscriminately, even if innocent people -- or their pets -- are killed. As I noted in a recent post about a police killing in Fairfax County, Virginia, an officer who gunned down an unarmed man who engaged in absolutely no provocation received three weeks off from work and pretty much was exonerated by his superiors. That is pretty typical for this country.

In this post, I wish to deal simply with the shooting of dogs and how the rules differ between police and the rest of us. As Will Grigg notes here, a woman in Durham, North Carolina (the august place that gave us the Duke Lacrosse Frame in which police and prosecutors engaged in criminal activity but claim that their actions were legal and moral) is being prosecuted for protecting her child from a vicious dog attack:
Tasheka Beatty should have adopted that approach on January 11 in dealing with an aggressive dog that attacked her two-year-old daughter and threatened her husband. Instead, the Durham, North Carolina resident has been charged with felonious animal cruelty and “discharging a firearm in public.”

“The dog was laying down asleep,” Beatty told a local television station. “My little girl got out of bed and went to the dog and that’s when he grabbed her. That’s what woke me up.” When the dog went after her husband, Beatty grabbed a shotgun. Then, rather than grabbing a shovel, Beatty tried to contact the local animal control department, which didn’t respond to several phone calls. She then took her little girl — who will require reconstructive surgery — to the hospital.

The next morning, frustrated by the predictable ineptitude of the animal control department, Beatty made the critical mistake of calling the police, who very helpfully slapped handcuffs on her wrists and kidnapped her at gunpoint, because that’s just how they roll.
At the same time, we read about an incident in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, in which police shot a family dog because they were "tired" of trying to catch it:
A woman in Fayette County said police used her dog for target practice when she called them for help.

Elizabeth D'Auria said she and her sister found their two-year-old pit bull dead after calling 911 for help.

"There were pieces of the dog here. They didn't leave a note. They didn't leave anything," said D'Auria. "He died on that fence over there because he was trying to get away."

D'Aurio said she called Uniontown police after someone attempted to break in to her Evans Street home. She said at first the dog chased the person who tried to climb through a window.

"They told my sister that he wasn't trying to bite them and that he growled at them when they tried to put the noose around him, but they couldn't catch him and they were tired of messing with him and they just shot him," D'Aurio said.

D'Aurio said the dog was not being aggressive and thinks that police crossed the line.

"They shot him six times with a pistol and once with a shotgun. They took the dog and we asked them if we could have him back to bury him and they won't give him back to us," said D'Aurio.

Channel 11's Courtney Brennan contacted Uniontown police who did not wish to comment on the story.
Indeed, the only comments from the police will be to justify what they did. (No matter how outrageous their actions, police know that their governments and unions will have their backs.)

I could fill this blog with stories such as these, but I think we understand the larger point. To police, our pets are nothing but target practice, but if one of us kills a dog that is attacking our children, we go to prison. That is the sorry state of affairs that exists in this country, and nothing is on the horizon to change it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Carol Chambers, Once Again

One of the worst prosecutors in the country, Carol Chambers of Colorado, seems hell-bent on challenging Christopher Arnt as the worst and most dishonest prosecutor in the country. Her latest caper is to charge two boys (now 11) with felony arson for a fire they accidentally set last year.

Bill Johnson of the Denver Post puts this into much-needed perspective. (Thanks to Kerwyn for finding this one.)

I'm speaking today to the Panhandle Economics Club in Pensacola, Florida. I'll be back home early tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Is Murder Legal? Yes, if One is Wearing a Badge and a Proper Costume

During his abortive presidential campaign, John Edwards used to speak of "two Americas," although he was dealing with those who were wealthy (like himself, as he built a 28,000 square-foot house for his own use) and those who were not. However, when it comes to law, America is utterly bifurcated.

There are two groups of people. The first group consists of what Will Grigg calls "mundanes," the regular people who either work for private firms or do not have legal and political connections. They not only are subject to laws, but also are fair game when the authorities decide to manipulate laws in order to bring them harm.

The second group includes those who either work in law enforcement or are judges or prosecutors. These people are free to break the law and even commit murder, and get a free ride. The murder of Sal Culosi in Fairfax County, Virginia, on January 24, 2006, is an example of how the police are permitted to murder unarmed people and then lie about the situation.

There is a lesson here, and that is that the USA has passed a point of no return. Police and their unions, along with prosecutors and judges, are so powerful that they cannot be challenged no matter how illegal and egregious their conduct. Because no lawmaker, president, bureaucrat, or U.S. Supreme Court justice is willing to challenge this state of affairs (And why would they, given they are the recipients of its largess?), we are destined for this to be the lot of the USA as long as it exists.

Sal Culosi was an optometrist in Fairfax County, and he and his friends used to make small bets on sports events. A police detective, David Baucum, overheard a conversation between Culosi and his friends and decided to befriend Culosi to see if he could get him to raise the stakes. As Radley Balko explains:
During the next several months he talked Culosi into raising the stakes of what Culosi thought were friendly wagers. Eventually Culosi and Baucum bet more than $2,000 in a single day, enough under Virginia law for police to charge Culosi with running a gambling operation. That's when they brought in the SWAT team.
That's right; a SWAT team. Balko explains what happened next:
On the night of January 24, 2006, Baucum called Culosi and arranged a time to drop by to collect his winnings. When Culosi, barefoot and clad in a T-shirt and jeans, stepped out of his house to meet the man he thought was a friend, the SWAT team moved in. Moments later, Bullock, who had had been on duty since 4 a.m. and hadn't slept in 17 hours, killed him. Culosi's last words: "Dude, what are you doing?"
Culosi was unarmed and had no criminal record. The officer (who claimed a very unlikely scenario of being bumped and accidentally firing the gun) killed him in cold blood (although he was protected by his union and, of course, Fairfax County authorities who covered up the murder).

The authorities were not content with having gunned down an unarmed man. Not surprisingly, they bullied the Culosi family, lied, covered up the truth, and generally did what the authorities always do when confronted with wrongdoing. Writes Balko:
In the months that followed, Baucum continued his investigation, badgering Culosi's grieving friends and relatives after pulling their names and numbers from the cell phone he was carrying and a computer taken from his home the night he was killed. Steve Gulley, Culosi's brother-in-law, told The Washington Post the following April that Baucum called him and menacingly asked, "How much are you into Sal for?" Scott Lunceford, a lifelong friend of Culosi's, told the Post Baucum called him and accused him of being a gambler. The calls, Gulley told the paper, smacked of intimidation aimed at discouraging a lawsuit.
Fairfax County came up with a contrived rationalization, but private investigators came up with an explanation that discredited what then-Fairfax County Police Chief David Rohrer was claiming. Balko writes:
The Culosis were dubious. They believed (Deval) Bullock mistook the cell phone their son was holding the night he was shot for a gun. They hired their own investigators, who determined, based on the department's own measurements of the crime scene, that when Bullock pulled the trigger he was away from his vehicle and much closer to Culosi than he had claimed. Using the recorded locations of shell casings, police vehicles, and Culosi's body, they produced computer animations showing that the incident could not have happened in the manner described by Chief Rohrer's report.
Bullock received a three-week unpaid vacation and the authorities refused to indict him. Balko notes that when private individuals (not wearing costume and badge) in Virginia kill unarmed people, even accidentally, they go to prison:
...the same month that Bullock killed Culosi, a 19-year-old man in neighboring Prince William County was charged with involuntary manslaughter after a gun he was showing to a friend accidentally discharged and killed the friend. And just a week before (Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert) Horan cleared Bullock, a youth in Chesapeake, Virginia, was convicted on the same charge for accidentally firing a gun from the backseat of a car, killing the driver.
Federal authorities cleared the Fairfax Police of any wrongdoing, so the Culosi family was left with filing a federal lawsuit. This month, it finally was settled for $2 million, although the only person left to sue was Bullock himself, and his fees were covered by his union and the county.

I suspect that the county would have tried to stick to its original story, but when federal Judge Leonie Brinkema ruled that the Culosi family experts would be permitted to testify, the lawyers for Bullock would have had to present a scenario that was so dishonest and implausible that even a government-friendly Northern Virginia federal jury might have seen through the lies. So, the authorities settled, but admitted to no wrongdoing.

While at least the Culosi family has money to show for their efforts (although I suspect the lawyers will get most of it), nothing will change. The authorities still will be sending SWAT teams to deal with situations that are inherently non-violent (until the authorities themselves make them violent), and police will lie, and prosecutors will continue to cover up evidence.

Ludwig von Mises, a towering figure in economics, once wrote that he started out to be a reformer, but, instead, became a "historian of decline." Likewise, I once hoped that there could be reform in the justice system, and that someone, somewhere in authority would have a conscience.

I no longer believe that is the case. All I can do is to point out what is happening, try to help people who are falsely charged, and let God sort out the rest.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Protecting the Worst Among Us: How the U.S. Supreme Court Rewards Prosecutorial Misconduct

Camille Tilley, the mother of wrongfully-convicted Courtney Bisbee, sent me the link to a stunning article that has appeared in the Los Angeles Times about how the U.S. Supreme Court protects prosecutors who lie and deliberatly hide exculpatory evidence. If you want to know why people like Chris Arnt and Len Gregor are willing to lie openly in court, hide evidence, suborn perjury, and fabricate documents during a trial, this article lays it out for you.

Perhaps the most chilling paragraph in this excellent story is found here:
Last year, the court heard the case of two Iowa prosecutors who were sued for framing two black teenagers for the murder of a security guard even though witnesses had pointed to a suspect who was white. In asking for the claim to be tossed out, the Iowa prosecutors asserted "there is no freestanding constitutional right not to be framed." (Emphasis mine)
I want readers to sit back and contemplate what the Iowa prosecutors are saying: Because the U.S. Constitution does not explicitly say that prosecutors are not to frame innocent people, therefore, prosecutors are permitted to do so. (However, I suspect that many of those people would claim that even though the Constitution does not specifically say that women have an untrammeled "right" to an abortion, nonetheless the Constitution guarantees that "right.")

While the argument these people used was extreme, nonetheless I believe that it reflects the mentality of prosecutors around the country. Because they know that they won't face any legal consequences for their misdeeds, they feel free to do whatever they want, even if they know they are lying.

Furthermore, keep in mind that the consequences of prosecutorial misconduct are horrific. People are wrongfully sent to prison. Families are destroyed. People are executed for crimes they did not commit.

This sorry state of affairs continues because the Law-and-Order Conservatives believe that prosecutors should be able to conduct their operations without any worries at all, and that no one should be permitted to impede their actions, even if they are pursuing innocent people. Furthermore, the same people who believe that a business should be destroyed because an employee acted wrongfully refuse to hold that same standard to the agents of the state. The LAT article notes:
The high court has taken a dim view of suing prosecutors, and in Thompson's case, the court's conservatives led by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. questioned whether the district attorney's office should be held responsible for the misdeeds of a few prosecutors. (Emphasis mine)
Would Alito hold to that same standard if Wal-Mart were being sued? I doubt it, and his words send a very clear message to prosecutors everywhere: Lie, lie, and lie some more. The Supreme Court has your backs.

I would like to say that a free society cannot withstand this kind of assault, but Americans long ago threw away their freedoms. Instead, we have a surveillance-police state that empowers some of the worst people among us.

Last May, a Catoosa County jury acquitted Tonya Craft of child molestation charges, and jurors even remarked afterward that Chris Arnt had openly lied to them during closing arguments. We witnessed Joal and Sarah Henke committing perjury, unqualified prosecution witnesses testifying, the fabrication of documents, and more perjury from Sandra Lamb and Sherri Wilson.

In other words, in order to bring criminal charges against Ms. Craft, Arnt and Len Gregor committed crimes, and helped others commit crimes along the way. Jurors and others in the courtroom witnessed criminal behavior, yet not one person who lied and broke the law faced any sanctions.

Arnt, Gregor, Tim Deal, and "judge" brian outhouse are still on the job. No one who lied faced any punishment, and no one will be punished for what they did.

Why? They knew that they were perfectly secure in their lawbreaking because the authorities will not do anything about it. For that matter, the authorities WERE the lawbreakers. Let me put it another way, one that perhaps puts all of this into perspective:

Lawbreaking by government authorities is legal because it is the "Law of the Land." The U.S. Supreme Court has said so.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Lenore Skenazy, Common Sense, and Modern American Hysteria

The United States once was a country known for entrepreneurship, bravado, and at least some common sense and a deep sense of justice. Today, the USA is a land of people who are subservient to bureaucrats, openly jealous of anything good that happens to others, and wallowing in fear of just about everything.

Lenore Skenazy, the woman who became famous because she permitted her nine-year-old son to ride alone on the New York Subway in the middle of the day, has an opinion piece in today's Wall Street Journal that exposes the hysteria that exists whenever a male is near children. She begins the article:
Last week, the lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, Timothy Murray, noticed smoke coming out of a minivan in his hometown of Worcester. He raced over and pulled out two small children, moments before the van's tire exploded into flames. At which point, according to the AP account, the kids' grandmother, who had been driving, nearly punched our hero in the face.

Why?

Mr. Murray said she told him she thought he might be a kidnapper.

And so it goes these days, when almost any man who has anything to do with a child can find himself suspected of being a creep. I call it "Worst-First" thinking: Gripped by pedophile panic, we jump to the very worst, even least likely, conclusion first. Then we congratulate ourselves for being so vigilant.
And it is not just in the USA. Her blog deals with incidents of hysteria in Canada and New Zealand, and the British also have weighed in, as she explains here:
Given the level of distrust, is it any wonder that, as the London Telegraph reported last month, the British Musicians' Union warned its members they are no longer to touch a child's fingers, even to position them correctly on the keys? Or that a public pool in Sydney, Australia last fall prohibited boys from changing in the same locker room as the men? (According to the Daily Telegraph in Sydney, the men demanded this, fearing false accusations.)

What's really ironic about all this emphasis on perverts is that it's making us think like them. Remember the story that broke right before Christmas? The FBI warned law-enforcement agencies that the new Video Barbie could be used to make kiddie porn. The warning was not intended for the public but it leaked out. TV news celebrated the joy of the season by telling parents that any man nice enough to play dolls with their daughters could really be videotaping "under their little skirts!" as one Fox News reporter said.
This has been a godsend for prosecutors, police, and CPS workers who have taken this media-driven hysteria and used it to pursue false prosecutions and throw innocent people into prison. Not surprisingly, juries mostly have been compliant, willing to swallow the kind of nonsense that our forebears would have rejected out-of-hand as, well, nonsense.

The Tonya Craft case was an exception, as mostly males are accused, but nonetheless, the same kind of mentality that has driven thousands of false accusations against men was in play here. We should not be surprised that LMJC DA Buzz Franklin has made "child molestation" prosecutions front-and-center during his reign of terror, and for a long time, the strategy worked.

There would be an accusation made in connection with a child custody case, crooked investigators like Tim "The Fabricator" Deal would help push things along, and the Children's Advocacy Center would supply the "experts" who would make fantastic claims in court. This was a scam, and a scam that I contend has been understood by the principals such as Chris Arnt, "judge" brian outhouse, Len Gregor, Franklin, Deal, and CAC goons like Holly Kittle, Stacey Long, and Suzi Thorne.

Unfortunately, the scam has worked, and even when the supposed molested children often would recant post-conviction, the courts were deaf. The tag team got its wrongful conviction, the media treated them as heroes, and the wrongly convicted could rot in Hell, for all they cared.

Like Skenazy, I believe that the results have been tragic, and she notes one situation in which the consequences were deadly:
In England in 2006, BBC News reported the story of a bricklayer who spotted a toddler at the side of the road. As he later testified at a hearing, he didn't stop to help for fear he'd be accused of trying to abduct her. You know: A man driving around with a little girl in his car? She ended up at a pond and drowned.

We think we're protecting our kids by treating all men as potential predators. But that's not a society that's safe. Just sick.
I could not agree more. That is the world that the Arnts, Gregors, and Franklins want us to have: a sick society where people live in fear of being falsely accused so that others can pretend they are society's saviors when, in reality, they are nothing but destroyers.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Appearance on Judge Napolitano's Show Wednesday

I'll be going to New York today (via Amtrak) and will be gone until Friday night, so posting is likely to be spotty at best. I'm attending a conference in the city, and I'll have a report on that later.

On Wednesday night, January 12, I am scheduled to appear on Judge Andrew Napolitano's show, "Freedom Watch," on the Fox Business Channel. We tape between 4:30 and 6, and the show comes on at 8 p.m.

Hope everyone has a great week!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Some Reflections on the Arizona Shootings

By any stretch, the killing of six people, including a federal judge and a nine-year-old girl, along with the severe wounding of Rep. Gabby Giffords, is an outrage. Unfortunately, the pundits of the media, not to mention some irresponsible and opportunistic people in Congress, have no respect either for the dead or the living.

As I see it, we live in a society that is so hopelessly politicized that whenever something like this happens, intelligent discourse is almost impossible. For example, Paul Krugman, Jane Fonda, and Keith Olbermann have blamed Sarah Palin. Why? Because last year Palin had a blog which had target marks on states where she believed Democratic members of Congress were vulnerable.

Don't you get it? She had a "target," which then drove the shooter to do what he did. Well, given the fact that Jared Lee Loughner, the shooter, was known to be a person of the Left, and he tended to lean toward "luminaries" like Marx and Hitler, I find it a stretch to believe that all along with was Sarah Palin directing his murderous rampage.

Yet, a Nobel Prize winner like Paul Krugman has no problem. Is he engaging in logic that is shaped like a pretzel? Yes, but that's Krugman: always trying to get his hateful, incendiary rhetoric out there while accusing others of engaging in hateful, incendiary rhetoric.

Meanwhile, Radley Balko tries to make sense of the whole thing, but he keeps running into people who seek political advantage. One member of Congress claims that the shootings are proof that he and other lawmakers should not have to go through the same TSA lines that regular travelers must endure.

Balko also notes that governments at all levels in this country kill and abuse innocent people on a regular basis. Those who followed Tonya Craft's trial on this blog know all about how governments abuse innocent people -- and no one in government is held to account for the abuse.

Unfortunately, we are going to have to endure the incendiary rhetoric for a while. That is the price one pays for living in a country that is hopelessly politicized.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Our family's pursuit of another adoption

In my brief bio sketch on this blog, I note that three of my children are adopted from overseas. My two sons are Ethiopians (now age 15) and my 11-year-old daughter is from Guatemala. I also have an adult daughter who is married and has two young children.

For several years, my wife and I have wanted to adopt another girl who is Sasha's age, but our earlier efforts to adopt through the U.S. foster care system were unsuccessful. (I could say a lot about our experience with that system, but let me just say that it gave us an education in the U.S. childcare bureaucracy, and it both was eye-opening and very unpleasant.)

Last year, we concluded that perhaps God wanted our family to remain as it was, but neither my wife nor I had lost the desire to add one more child. We recently met an 11-year-old orphan from Latvia, Dace (pronounced "Dot-say") who is up for adoption, and after much prayer and deliberation, we have decided to pursue her adoption.

Neither of us have come to this decision lightly, and we have done so only after a lot of prayer and deliberation. This adoption will require that we raise a lot of money, and that we really cut back on discretionary spending. I'll have to work harder than ever, but I believe with all my heart that it is the right thing to do.

You will see that I have placed the link to our website on this blog and in this post. If you feel led to visit our adoption blog, please do. As you can see, we also have a place for people to donate to this project, should they feel led to do so.

I will post updates from time to time. In the meantime, I ask that you pray for our efforts, as this is something we never can accomplish on our own. Thank you.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Roger Roots on The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure

Roger Roots, who has both a law degree and a Ph.D., has written what I believe to be one of the most insightful and important articles on federal criminal law that I have read in a long time. The article, which appears on Lew Rockwell's site (January 4), lays out just how federal authorities stack the deck -- and call it law.

I recently obtained the latest edition of West’s Criminal Code and Rules, the book containing the rules you need to know if you are ever accused of a federal criminal offense. The book is updated every year, and each new edition supersedes the prior edition. It gets worse every year.

The West’s edition now runs to more than 1600 pages, with abridgments and supplements. In addition to the Rules of Criminal Procedure, the book contains selected federal criminal statutes, the Federal Rules of Evidence, the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, and the Rules of the Supreme Court of the United States. On virtually every page are mechanisms to hurt, humiliate, control and enslave people to the government’s will – all presented within a framework of procedural rules.

In theory, these rules provide an accused with avenues to defend himself. But one can judge a scheme of procedural rules by its fruits, and the codification, growth and expansion of the Federal Rules of Procedure (of which most state procedural codes are virtual copies), have produced the world’s highest incarceration rate – and probably the highest incarceration rate ever registered in any society in human history. Even more significantly, the Federal Criminal Code and its procedural rules and guidelines have almost eliminated criminal trials in many jurisdictions, because most defendants are unable to defend themselves effectively under the rules and simply plead guilty. Such is the lopsided nature of the Federal Rules that they produce untold mountains of printed accusations and claims against individual Americans, while facilitating no more than a few sentences (generally at sentencing hearings) in rebuttal in most cases.

Footnotes are found on virtually every page of the Federal Rules, tracing dates of amendments and the steady progression of punishments over time. In general, Congress has ratcheted up sentences, expanded the limitation periods in statutes of limitations, expanded rewards for those who cooperate with the government, and limited or eliminated avenues for people to challenge government accusations and court judgments. One is hard pressed to find crimes described in the book as misdemeanors, even if they were misdemeanors long ago. Today, most federal crimes are felonies, and conviction brings more or less automatic prison time.
He continues:
The book seems to provide dozens of separate laws exposing unwary Americans to federal prison for simply filling out paperwork wrong. (Note that these provisions are almost never applied to people in government, who regularly fill out paperwork incorrectly.) There are provisions subjecting Americans to life in prison for cocaine possession. There are open-ended provisions which may (or may not) criminalize pouring a cup of coffee on the ground (and thus violating the Clean Water Act) or accidentally catching certain breeds of fish from the oceans. It remains only for a savvy prosecutor to fill in the blanks and add to the list of crimes that Congress may (or may not) have created.

Few people are aware that the Federal Rules (not just of criminal procedure but of civil procedure, appellate procedure, bankruptcy procedure and Supreme Court procedure) are riddled with provisions that grant more time to the government to file and respond to pleadings and briefs, greater privileges of appearance, and greater ease of prosecuting and defending litigation than individuals in the private sector. The governing advisory committees that produce these rules of procedure have offered no explanation for these filing requirement disparities.
In other words, what he describes is a stacked deck masquerading as law. This has been going on for some time, but it now is getting worse. Unfortunately, most Americans don't know -- and don't care -- about what is going on.

This is partly due to the fact that Americans for years have been told that the law favors criminals and is not tough enough to deal with wrongdoers. Writes Roots:
When neoconservatives gripe that federal courts coddle defendants (or would coddle "terrorists"), they are depicting a fictional court system that exists only in their imaginations. In practice, the federal courts overwhelmingly favor the government, and the rules of procedure are loaded with tricks and traps for the poor and the unwary. Anyone who faces the federal government in court knows that these "protections" are elusive, far-fetched, and in some cases illusionary.

Most so-called defense lawyers shiver in fear at the thought of trying to actually "defend" a client from a federal prosecution. Most begin their "defense" by seeking a plea bargain.
Roots also presents this article from New York Magazine, which goes into detail about why criminal defense lawyers are leaving the field, as it is too discouraging for anyone with a conscience. Roots ends with this warning:
What makes the Federal Criminal Code truly despicable is its disguise as a code of fair and equal procedural protections. Indeed, this deception makes West’s Federal Criminal Code and Rules worthy of inclusion among other infamously cruel books of human history. It deserves a place on the shelves next to the Communist Manifesto, Mein Kampf, and Keynes’ General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money. The Federal Criminal Code documents the advancement of coordinated, systematic scheme of state tyrannical control – with a procedural overlay.

Monday, January 3, 2011

And the Winner Is...Christopher Arnt!

When Radley Balko opened voting for the Worst Prosecutor of 2010, it seems that he assembled an all-star cast. There was the Great Andrew Thomas of Maricopa County, the man who almost became Arizona's attorney general, save the wisdom of about 850 Republican voters who kept him from receiving the party's nomination and an almost sure-fire win in November.

However, Thomas is out of work right now and he and two of his former underlings, Lisa Aubuchon and Rachel Alexander, are now candidates for disbarment. That means that these cretins and liars are likely to get at least a little bit of what is coming to them.

There is Tanya Treadway, recently featured on this blog for her vicious attack on the free speech rights of Siobhan Reynolds, and the Wicked Witch of Kansas happens to lead in Radley's voting right now. Treadway has discovered some usefulness of keeping federal grand jury proceedings secret, which is amazing in itself, since federal prosecutors are notorious for leaking such information -- when it suits their purposes of keeping defendants from being able to receive a fair trial. Yes, for federal prosecutors, it is, "Heads I win, tails you lose."

The list has other villains such as Jim Hood of Mississippi and Carol Chambers of Colorado. (Don't get Kerwyn started on the misdeeds of Chambers, as the phone lines are likely to melt between your ear and her phone's mouthpiece, given the fire that is coming your way!)

A favorite of mine is Delores Carr, the district attorney of Santa Clara County, California. Carr ran on a platform condemning the "win at all costs" mentality of prosecutors -- and then proceeded to engage in "win at all costs" conduct while in office. Radley definitely has her number, given her bio.

However, even with these Towering Giants of Evil, I believe that Christopher Arnt, the ADA of the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit who headlined the efforts of the State of Georgia to wrongfully convict and imprison Tonya Craft on bogus child molestation charges, is most deserving of the Worst Prosecutor of 2010 Award.

(I have suggested to Radley that he rename it the Michael Nifong Award, or just The Nifong after the disgraced former DA of Durham County, North Carolina, who engaged in lies and perverted misconduct in his effort to convict three Duke University lacrosse player of rape nearly five years ago. As I see it, if anyone is worthy of The Nifong, it is Arnt, or should I say, "Facebook-Cruisemaster" Arnt.)

It is impossible to list all of Arnt's prosecutorial sins in this brief space, but I do wish to remind readers that Arnt was a one-man crime wave as he teamed with Len "The Man, The Racist, The Misogynist" Gregor and "judge" brian outhouse to try to railroad Ms. Craft into prison. In order to pull off this Herculean effort, Arnt engaged in numerous acts of misconduct, including:
  • Knowingly seeking false charges against Ms. Craft and Eric Echols.
  • Lying to jurors during closing arguments.
  • Breaking a number of rules of conduct for prosecutors as set by the Georgia State Bar. (Not that anyone at the state bar gives a damn, given that one of the so-called investigators told me that she had no problem with Arnt's lies, and that he was just "doing his job." Doing the job on innocent people is more like it.)
  • Openly and knowingly suborning perjured testimony, including perjury from both Joal and Sarah Henke, Sandra Lamb, Suzi Thorne, Jerry McDonald, and Sherri Wilson.
  • Fighting admission of exculpatory evidence and calling respected expert witnesses for the defense "liars" and "whores of the court."
  • Participating in a scheme to fabricate a document during the trial in order to cover a huge hole in the prosecution witnesses' testimony.
  • Arranged for prosecution witnesses and their friends to have their own special room in which they were permitted to bring laptops, cellphones, food, water, and reading materials into the courthouse, as well as avoid any security checks. Everyone else was forced to go through security and leave everything in their cars.
  • Continually disrupted the court proceedings (with permission from his "boy," "judge" brian outhouse) by engaging in "Animal House" behavior.
These only are a few of the reasons as to why I believe Christopher "Facebook-Cruisemaster" Arnt deserves The Nifong. Now, readers have to remember that Arnt hoped to ride Tonya's "conviction" all the way to high state office in Georgia. (His first step was to win the District Attorney's election in 2012 after the coming retirement of Buzz Franklin. Something tells me that the guy is going to have a hard time winning an election for dogcatcher.)

Given that Arnt's political dreams are gone -- and if the guy ever runs for any office, you can bet some people are going to give him some unwanted publicity -- perhaps he can strive to win The Nifong. As I see it, this is the best this guy can do.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

“Progressive” Journalists and State Power

At the end of the movie “Animal House,” a band tries unsuccessfully to march through a brick wall at the end of an alley. This is supposed to be a scene which reflects the absolute absurdity of the film, but it also unwittingly presents a picture of the modern “Progressive” mindset: the state can do anything as long as it has enough authority.

Such actions, of course, reflect Einstein’s alleged definition of insanity (repeat an action over and over again while expecting different results), yet that irony is lost at the present time, especially in the world of modern journalism. People are forever diagnosing the mainstream media as either having a “liberal” bias or engaging in coverage that lacks “objectivity.” The answer to such issues, unfortunately, seems to be to engage in more insanity. Let me explain.

In a recent column, Glenn Greenwald decries what he sees as a “merger” of journalists and the state, and I agree with his sentiments wholeheartedly. Greenwald is one of the few journalists out there who is not a shill for particular politicians or the Democratic Party, despite the fact that his political views definitely are left-of-center.

Yet, for all of his excellent insights, I’m afraid that even the great Greenwald is missing the bigger picture. The problem is not misplaced priorities on behalf of journalists or the fact that most media outlets are owned by corporations (which most Progressives confuse with free markets). The problem is that modern journalism is a relic of the Progressive Era when state power merged with the press to promote “American” interests. Progressivism itself – of both the “liberal” and “conservative” viewpoints – is the problem.

Most Americans believe that the significant “revolution” in our nation’s history occurred from 1775 to 1781, yet the republic that emerged following the colonial war with Great Britain no longer exists and has not existed for at least a century. We may shoot fireworks on July 4, but the document we supposedly celebrate – the Declaration of Independence – is nothing more than parchment under glass and is more irrelevant to our present lives than the old “constitution” of the former Soviet Union.

The United States as we know it was shaped first by what most people call the Civil War and second by the Progressive Era of the late 1800s and early 1900s. If there is a year when the constitutional American republic died absolutely, it would be 1913. (Thomas DiLorenzo refers to the passing of the Constitutional amendments to authorize both the income tax and direct election of U.S. Senators as the “Revolution of 1913.” Congress also authorized the Federal Reserve System in that year.)

However, the process leading to the permanent establishment of the Leviathan State was begun long before 1913, which codified the movement that already existed. Every “Progressive’s” favorite Republican President, Theodore Roosevelt, already had put into motion the process in which Congress ceded its powers of lawmaking to the executive branch, something that continues apace today.

In his utterly statist Losing the News, Alex S. Jones decries the loss of daily newspapers and suggests that what he calls the “watchdog of government” be “rescued” by government itself through subsidies and government regulation, and does so without any irony whatsoever. Yes, he calls for a “watchdog of government” to be tied financially to the state, a relationship that he claims will increase the “objectivity” of the press, a view that makes sense only if one falls into the “Progressive” camp.

It is hard to fathom the utter nonsense of Jones’ proposition, yet Jones is typical of most mainstream journalists today. As a former newspaper reporter, I can attest to the desire by journalists to have “access” to those in political power and to be advocates for a certain politician or political points of view. If there is a constant theme among mainstream journalists, it is that state control of our lives must increase.

If one reads a typical newspaper or watches a news show on television, this point almost is impossible to miss. Look at all of the journalists who worked in the executive branch of the federal or even state governments. (Relatively few former legislators become journalists, as lobbying is a more lucrative career. The vast number of journalists who had government titles worked either directly for an elected official – i.e. Chris Matthews – or had a high-profile position as a political appointee for a regulatory agency.)

This is not unlike the “revolving door” between government regulators and the firms they help regulate or between U.S. Department of Justice antitrust division attorneys and high-paying private firms that specialize in antitrust litigation and defense. The relationships are more than just symbolic, however; they highlight the real merger between modern corporate journalism and the state.

Greenwald’s concerns deal specifically with the WikiLeaks release of classified U.S. Government documents, but the problem is much broader than just whether or not one thinks Julian Assange is a hero or a criminal. Furthermore, the problem is not that many journalistic outlets are owned by private corporations. Instead, the problem with modern journalism is that most journalists are little more than foot soldiers for state power, and they demand (and receive) special privileges from the authorities.

In Losing the News, Jones (who was an editorial supervisor of mine more than 30 years ago) is openly disdainful of blogs and the “citizen journalism” that has erupted on the Internet. Instead, he holds to the academic/state view that “journalists” should be credentialed, and that First Amendment protection should be afforded only those who fall into that proper category.

One would think that his would be a minority view, but it is not. As they have done with the rest of the Constitution, Progressives have re-interpreted the First Amendment as offering protection only to those people who have proper journalistic credentials and who are employed by official media outlets. Thus, as Greenwald points out, many of them can argue that Assange really is not a journalist, so he does not enjoy the same protections as did the New York Times after it published the Pentagon Papers.

Read newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post, or watch Fox News or MSNBC, and you will see what I mean. Journalists employed for all of these entities (with the exceptions of Judge Andrew Napolitano and John Stossel on the Fox Business Channel) tend to believe that “progress” occurs only with the advancement of state power over the lives of individuals.

That is why you will see uncritical support from these outlets of the Transportation Security Administration’s utterly-invasive “security” measures, or why the NYT has been a consistent shill for high income tax rates. Such things are the logical end of a Progressive ideology that claims freedom advances only with the advancement of state power (in the hands of the correct and properly-credentialed people, of course.)