Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Some good news from Phoenix

Carola Jacobson called today to let me know that a court-appointed expert will become involved in the case. According to Carola, "Now more papers have to be filed, the expert will be interviewed by the prosecutor with the next hearing in 30 days being the one where the expert testifies and the attorney will file a motion to dismiss there."

The expert "will testify that the police interviews were tainted, thus false memory was planted into the kids heads and the testimony would not be reliable. The judge granted the motion that the state pays for the expert instead of me and released the funds."

The only reason it has gone this far is because the prosecutor, "Ignoble" Murphy, has insisted on using all of the authority of his office to keep the Big Lie alive. Murphy already has given his reason: he doesn't like to lose cases, and given what I have seen from the Maricopa County prosecutors, the "polestar" of that office is "win at all costs," regardless of guilt or innocence.

These are people who stop at nothing, people who often are more ruthless and more dishonest than those they prosecute. But at least in this situation, a courageous woman has protected her son from people who have no more conscience than a shark that smells blood.

(My apologies for the earlier error.)

Friday, April 22, 2011

The prosecution never rests -- from lying "Early" and often

Whenever there is an opinion piece in the mainstream media about prosecutors doing evil things, there always is the disclaimer: "The majority of prosecutors in this country are ethical and truthful, and we are just dealing with a 'few bad apples' here." Once upon a time, I believed that, too. No longer.

The "tipping point" for me was not simply the Duke Lacrosse Case, but the statements of other prosecutors around the country when the charges still were in play and the story was dominating the talk shows in 2006 and 2007. In particular, Norm Early was especially outrageous.

Early is not a bit player among prosecutors in the USA. While he no longer is a district attorney, for many years he was the elected DA in Denver, Colorado, and was a major player in Democratic politics there. He later served as media director National District Attorneys Association, an organization that serves as “the voice of America’s prosecutors and to support their efforts to protect the rights and safety of the people.”

According to the NDAA's official "mission," the organization professes "to foster and maintain the honor and integrity of the prosecuting attorneys of the United States in both large and small jurisdictions by whatever title such attorneys may be known
." Actually, given Early's conduct as the former face of the organization, perhaps its Official Mission should be "encouraging prosecutors to lie, hide exculpatory evidence, convict innocent people, and get away with it, all while hiding behind the robes of U.S. Supreme Court justices."

If you wish to get a sense of the outrageous conduct of Early in the Duke case, K.C. Johnson's Durham-in-Wonderland blog had an excellent post on the man and his statements that were made while he was a major player for the NDAA. If this guy is typical of prosecutors in the USA, then there is no hope for any of us.

I would urge you to read the post if for no other reason than to understand how these people think and the lies they will tell in order to pursue innocent people. Furthermore, to get a sense of how prosecutors view the rights that Americans have to defend themselves against criminal charges, read what Early had to say about that, too. According to typical prosecutors, we should go directly from accusations to sentencing. Why bother with innocence, since prosecutors tell us there are no innocent people?

For me, the one event that seals my views has been the situation with Carola Jacobson. A prosecutorial office that will engage in the outright murderous assault against a single mother, a good woman who has done nothing to deserve this treatment, is nothing but a den of liars. But, the U.S. Supreme Court says that liars like this are special people who deserve special protection. The SCOTUS, however, does not say how we can be protected against a pack of vicious dogs as make up the Maricopa County District Attorney's office and other prosecutorial offices around the country.

Happy Easter.

Monday, April 18, 2011

"Ignoble" Murphy's cold-blooded attempt to murder Carola Jacobson

Since last fall, I have written several posts about the unwarranted and utterly dishonest prosecution of the son of Carola Jacobson in Phoenix, Arizona. Even now, the case is not over because "Ignoble" Murphy, the Maricopa County prosecutor handling this one, says that he doesn't like to lose, which he actually seems to believe is justification for going after a young man who is innocent of the charges.

Unfortunately, this case has a very tragic side to it: Carola's health. The website set up to help raise money for her tells a story that portrays not only a mother willing to give up her health in order to defend her son, but also tells us something we need to know about modern prosecutorial "ethics." The site says:
Carola was initially diagnosed with stage IIb breast cancer in 2008. After surgery, treatment and a complete change in life style the cancer remained in remission until she was thrown for another loop when her 14-year-old son was arrested in August 2010 on false charges. Doing what mothers do she put her son's interest before her own and stopped ongoing treatment to pay for his legal defense. Despite of clear evidence of his innocence the authorities kept pursuing the case, the legal fees reached astronomical amounts and depleted all of her savings. Then in March 2011 the next shoe dropped when she was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. Tests revealed that this was only the tip of the iceberg and the cancer had spread to her lungs, bones and spine, one tumor causing a compression fracture in her back keeping her bedridden and unable to work. Treatment needs to start as soon as possible but the insurance will only cover a fraction of the cost and payments are due before the treatment starts. (Emphasis added)
By the way, don't think for a second that Murphy and others at the Maricopa County District Attorney's office are unaware of this situation. To people like Murphy, it actually is an advantage, for it gives him the opportunity to try to push Carola's son into a "diversion" program, which is tantamount to a guilty plea.

Why? Murphy knows that he can push this case as much as he wants, as the "ethics" of Maricopa County are to bleed people whenever possible. In this situation, he figures that sooner or later, Carola will be faced with the awful choice of paying for cancer treatments that will keep her alive, or continue to pay legal fees to keep Murphy from trying to put her son in prison.

It would be one thing if the boy were guilty of these charges, but as Kerwyn and I have demonstrated on numerous occasions in posts on this blog, the entire case is a fraud, and the authorities know it. Thus, we are seeing what I believe is nothing less than an attempted cold-blooded murder of a woman whose only "crime" is defending her child.

What Murphy and Maricopa County authorities are doing is unconscionable. If there are human beings in this country who can go even lower, I would hate to know who they are.

I will add one important thing: Carola did not ask me to write this, and she has not sought the publicity. I write this because I want people to fully understand what is at stake in this case and what the authorities in Phoenix are doing in what I believe as cold-blooded an act as I ever have seen. These really are people who will stop at nothing.

Prosecutors and their unwritten rule: Don't drop a case no matter how bad it might be

On the 27th of this month, Carola Jacobson's son will have a hearing before a Maricopa County juvenile judge who is going to decide what will happen to the young man. As has been covered extensively in this blog, the charges against the young man (now 15) are bogus, and transparently so.

We have seen how the police interviews of the children were beyond tainted, and that the scenario which police and prosecutors claim was in the realm of physical impossibility, unless one is willing to believe that for a few days in a row, a 14-year-old boy could coerce young children (who lived elsewhere and voluntarily came to the house) into an unfinished attic and make them engage in sex play for several hours.

The main reason that the prosecution's account is not believable is that the Maricopa County authorities want us to believe that young children would do those things for hours in a place where temperatures in June would be upwards of 140 degrees. (Remember, this is Phoenix, Arizona, where daytime temperatures in June average well above 100 degrees.)

In other words, it makes no sense at all. I'm sure that the American Academy of Pediatrics might have something to say about prosecutor Noble Murphy's claim that these things MUST have happened because he says it did.

So, what is a prosecutor to do? One would think that most prosecutors would say that if there is no evidence, or if the evidence is hopelessly tainted, then all charges should be dismissed. Think again.

No prosecutor openly will admit this, for obvious reasons, but the policy of most prosecutorial offices in the United States is explained by the nihilistic phrase, "Bleed 'em and plead 'em."

WHY PROSECUTORS HOLD THE ADVANTAGES

When I was a newspaper reporter in Chattanooga more than 30 years ago, I heard the local district attorney in a speech claim that prosecutors face all sorts of unjust barriers in their never-ending fight against crime and criminals. At the time, I believed him, but no longer.

Prosecutors really hold all the cards; all of them. They can bring whatever charges they want against anyone they target because grand juries have become prosecutorial playthings. Once charges are filed, they can keep them on the books even if they have no evidence because they can use them as bargaining material.

Lest you think that perhaps they might be hindered by that thing called a guilty conscience, think again. In the recent Pottawattamie vs. McGhee case heard (but not decided because it was settled after oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court), the defendants, prosecutors from Pottawattamie County, Iowa, contended (and I present their exact words): "There is no freestanding constitutional right not to be framed." (emphasis added)

Not ONE prosecutor in this country made a public statement against that utterly chilling statement. The Obama administration supported it, and every association of prosecutors in the USA publicly agreed. Let me repeat what was said: Prosecutors in the United States claim that they have a right to frame whomever they want, and that no citizen can or should be able to do anything about it.

No, I am sure that prosecutors reading this blog would tell me that is NOT what is what the statement meant, but please don't feed me crap, people. The government will tell you that if a prosecutor engages in outrageous or even criminal framing of a defendant, the government has plenty of options to take against the offender, from bringing criminal charges to hauling the prosecutor before the state bar.

However, government authorities are playing a shell game. Yes, these "remedies" theoretically can be imposed. No, the government won't impose them, no matter how outrageous and outright criminal the conduct of prosecutors.

The one option that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that regular citizens -- including those that are framed -- DON'T have is to be able to sue the prosecutor. (The courts and advocates for prosecutors claim that lawsuits would keep them from "doing their jobs.")

The problem is that the one remedy that an individual citizen might have to rectify a grievous wrong is the lawsuit. All of the other vaunted remedies must be launched by the government itself. In other words, the government is given the power and the authority to discipline...the government.

Lawsuits can be brought by citizens and can be decided by juries consisting of citizens. Government disciplinary actions, on the other hand, are launched by the very people who stand to be harmed if their cohorts are disciplined.

Don't kid yourselves. Yes, prosecutors in North Carolina were happy to see Mike Nifong get thrown to the sharks of disbarment after his execrable conduct in the Duke Lacrosse Case, but they also knew that Nifong's disbarment potentially made all of them just a little more vulnerable to the same treatment, should they get out of line. Thus, they made a big show out of disbarring Nifong, but then made sure that other prosecutors in the state that lied and broke the law would not have to face the same fate. Nifong's disbarment actually protected the other miscreants employed by the State of North Carolina as prosecutors.

If anyone were to question their conduct, they could reply: "What do you mean saying prosecutors get away with bad acts? Mike Nifong got disbarred! What further proof do you need to know that the authorities stand ready to discipline anyone in our profession who does wrong?"

As for criminal charges, they rarely are brought and juries are loathe to convict wayward prosecutors, no matter how outrageous their conduct. Call it a belief in law-and-order, but the record stands, as no American jury ever has convicted a prosecutor of criminal misconduct.

When I spoke to a representative of the Georgia State Bar last year about the conduct of Christopher Arnt and Len Gregor in the Tonya Craft case, she told me that she believed that the prosecutors were "just doing their jobs." She then said to me, "She was acquitted, wasn't she?" as though that made everything just fine.

My response to her was: "Yes, after spending more than a million dollars to debunk charges that transparently were false and never should have been brought in the first place."

In the Duke Lacrosse Case, the three families spent close to five million dollars to defend their sons against charges that from the start were laughingly false. (The accuser, Crystal Gail Mangum, now has graduated from lying and prostitution to murder. This is the woman that Durham and Duke University held up as a near-saint.)

To put it another way, if prosecutors want to bleed someone to death, they can do it because, well, they can do it. The vast majority of people cannot afford the kind of defense needed to fight false charges, and prosecutors know it. And because they actually believe that they have a "right" to frame innocent people, and that nothing will happen to them if they do, you can bet that the profession attracts the very kind of people that one does not want to see in a courtroom in the first place.

This brings us back full circle to the case involving Carola Jacobson and her son, which I will cover in my next post. Why does "Ignoble" Murphy continue to insist that he wants to prosecutor this case? He claims it is because he "has not lost a case in seven years." In other words, it is nothing but a game to him.

However, the situation -- not that anyone in Maricopa County government would care -- is that Carola Jacobson is very, very ill, and that she had to give up cancer treatments in order to pay her son's legal bills. This situation deserves more attention, as do other cases which I will be covering soon enough.

Friday, April 15, 2011

In praise of strong-willed women who seek justice

A year ago today, Tonya Craft was on trial for her life, falsely accused of child molestation, with the "justice" machinery of the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit attempting to railroad her by falsifying evidence and outright lying. Tonya, however, was able to fight back, and in the end she prevailed, as "judge" brian outhouse's attempts to rig the trial (with cooperative efforts from prosecutors Chris "Facebook-Cruisemaster" Arnt and Len "The Man" Gregor) failed.

(Even after using questionable means to secure a jury, the fact was that the prosecution really believed that the Catoosa County jurors were stupid and venal and would think that they would believe every lie told to them. It never occurred to them that the jurors might be interested in the truth, not what Sandra Lamb and her rich daddy wanted them to believe.)

In the past year, much of this blog has been dedicated to dealing with cases of false accusation, including that of Tonya, but also similar situations elsewhere in this country. While each case is different, I have found one constant: the presence of strong-willed women who know how to fight back.

Tonya is strong-willed, stubborn, and a stickler for the truth. Carola Jacobson is strong-willed, stubborn, and a stickler for the truth. Becky Rasmussen is strong-willed, stubborn, and a stickler for the truth. Kerwyn is strong-willed, stubborn, and a stickler for the truth.

These women have made a difference, even though only one has been on trial, that being Tonya. The others have played supporting roles, and I can tell you that in each situation, the women have made a difference.

Kerwyn, of course, has not just supported the families going through the hell of false accusations. She also has supported me and kept me on an even keel and has always been the voice in my ear saying, "We get it right, period."

(By the way, Kerwyn does not automatically assume that the accused are innocent. If she comes to that conclusion, she comes to it because she understands the facts behind each case and can go with not only her instincts and intuition, but also her knowledge of how these cases actually work.)

I have found something else about each of these women, and the others whom I have not mentioned, but have been pillars of strength: they are not petty and vindictive. Look at how Tonya has handled the aftermath of her own case, including the custody battle.

She could be trying to destroy Joal and Sarah Henke, both of whom were willing to commit perjury both in Georgia and Tennessee in order to go after Tonya. Joal committed fraud in a federal home loan application, and a number of people have gone to prison for the same thing. (So far, federal and state authorities in Chattanooga are not interested, and that is fine with me, although it does tell me that they have a rather selective view of justice.)

Instead, Tonya has been as gracious as anyone could be, given what she experienced. Likewise, I have seen gracious acts from Carola and Becky.

Pettiness is not strength, and vindictiveness is not a virtue. None of these women claim to be perfect, and all have their faults -- and they would be the first to tell you they have faults and weaknesses.

I have come to understand something important about each of these women: they may have fears, but when it comes to doing right, they are fearless. And because there are so many people in authority out there who are hellbent on doing wrong, we need more women like Tonya, Carola, Becky, and Kerwyn. Lots more.

*******************************

Of course, there also are women like Crystal Mangum, the false accuser in the Duke Lacrosse Case. Mangum has graduated from prostitution and lying to murder. K.C. Johnson covers the latest news of the saga of Crystal.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

On hiatus for a few days

Work beckons and I am in the weeds again. I'll get back to the blog when I can see over the top of my desk.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Chanticleer sings Herbert Howells' "Here is the Little Door"


This is stunningly beautiful. Here is the text, which the great Herbert Howells put to SATB in 1918:

Here is the little door.
Lift up the latch; O lift!
We need not wander more,
but enter with our gift.
A gift of finest Gold,
Gold that was never bought nor sold;
Myrrh to be strewn about his bed;
Incense in clouds about his head;
all for the Child who stirs not in his sleep,
but Holy slumber holds with ass and sheep.

Bend low about his bed: for each he has a gift!
See how his eyes awake--lift up your hands! O lift!
For Gold he gives a keen-edged sword (defend with it thy little Lord)!
For incense, smoke of battle red.
Myrrh for the honoured happy dead.
Gifts for his children, terrible and sweet,
Touched by such tiny hands and oh! such tiny feet.


The text was composed by Frances Chesterton, wife of G.K. Chesterton.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A truly heroic public defender

I received this email recently, and am publishing it with some changes, as suggested by the author. It is the story of a public defender who tore up a prosecutor's false accusation case. This attorney now is in private practice.

In May of 1997 my ex-wife made a false allegation of child sexual abuse to Child Protective Services. I went through nine months of hell. I was earning $28,000 a year at the time so my only choice for legal counsel was to accept the services of a public defender. The PD, a fairly young woman named Camille Neider was full of integrity and very hard-working. In January of 1998 she came to the preliminary hearing with two three-inch-thick binders full of documents she had subpoened. She had key passages highlighted and had put tabs on the key pages. She was calm and brilliant. After a few minutes it became apparent that this woman was working a miracle. She questioned my ex-wife and two of my sons. At some points it seemed the judge was about to fall off his chair in astonishment. After about an hour and 20 minutes (most of the time being taken up by Ms. Neider), the judge said he wanted to see the prosecutor and the defender in his chamber. They emerged about 20 minutes later. The judge announced he was taking the case under advisement and would let all parties know within 30 days whether or not the court would proceed to a full hearing.

Then Ms. Neider took me into a separate room where I met with her and her legal intern. She said, "Now I'm going to tell you what really went on in the judge's chamber." She said that the prosecutor said, "There's no way in hell I'm going to prosecute this case." The judge replied, "Don't worry, I wouldn't let you...Like this woman is going to convince a jury that her son isn't lying?! I don't think so."

Ms. Neider told me that they had to come up with a diversion. I asked what she meant. She said the judge had to help the prosecutor "cover his ass." “How so?” I asked. She explained that in these days of "so much hysteria" over child abuse allegations it could destroy the prosecutor's career if he comes to be viewed as not being willing to prosecute a case of alleged child abuse.

Two days later the prosecutor dropped the charges on his own (without a diversion having been worked out). The next day the judge dismissed the case entirely.

I started the process of having my record expunged with all the relevant agencies (city police, county sheriff's office, state office of criminal investigations (whatever it's called), and the FBI). I also called the Office of Administrative hearings and told them I wanted CPS's "substantiation" expunged. The head guy there told me it was too late...I had missed some deadline. I said that the case had just been dismissed a few days ago and asked if he would have allowed me to appeal the substantiation while the case was still pending. He said, "Good point" and eventually scheduled a hearing with the agent from CPS who had substantiated against me, and himself, and me.

That hearing took a full morning in May or June of 1998. In that meeting the CPS agent admitted that she had substantiated against me in violation of state regulations (she had substantiated after speaking with only one person: my ex-wife). The administrator asked her why she did that. Her answer: pressure from the police. (And yes, I had foolishly trusted the police and met with an officer without having a lawyer present...and boy do they twist things!) In November 1998 I got a letter from the Office of Administrative Hearings. They had completed their investigation and ordered CPS to unsubstantiate the prior substantiation (from May 1997) (there is no mechanism in our state law to expunge a substantiation). In May of 1999 I got a letter from CPS saying that they had changed the original report from "substantiated" to "unsubstantiated".

I'm leaving out many, many details of the severe anguish the false allegations caused me. Unfortunately the damage to my six children was also very real, especially to two of them. My ex-wife had put these two (who were also my most troubled son and daughter) in counseling with a "therapist" who believed in the recovery of repressed memories. (In one of the subpoened documents containing the therapist's notes to himself he stated that he "supported my son" by telling him that all his troubles came from "the fact" that his father had molested him! Of course, he would have gotten that idea from my ex.) In the hearing my son answered Ms. Neider as noted here.

Ms. Neider: How certain were you at the time the report was first made, that your father had molested you?
Son: Not very certain [or something to that effect]
Ms. Neider: How certain are you NOW that your father molested you?
Son: Completely certain [or something to that effect]
[I still have a complete 160-page transcript from that hearing.]

My son and I eventually reconciled—though he was troubled for years. Then it seemed he was making good progress from the time he was 19 (2000) until the day he committed suicide (early January 2009). I believe that a child who thinks he or she was molested suffers just as much psychological damage as a child who was molested.

My troubled daughter is now 25. She has just taken the initiative during the last 3 weeks to reconcile with me. She didn't know me well due to the fact that my wife left me when my daughter was 7 years old. To keep peace with her mother my daughter was more or less required to hate me. One year ago I feared she'd die prematurely due to the heavy burdens that she carried. She's made some miraculous changes in her life since then—including marrying a man who seems to truly love her. She and her husband have moved to another state and are therefore also away from the influence of her, dare I say, vindictive mother.

Of course, there's a lot more to this story. I can't say how grateful that I am for the good people who helped me (and my children) along the way. I would say that my state’s judicial system is as screwed up as that of any other state, but I recognize that I was fortunate enough (blessed enough) to have dealt with some very honest, intelligent, dedicated, and kind-hearted professionals who made the difference between justice having been met (for a large part—though not entirely, of course) and my possibly having gone to prison for 15 years for a crime that I didn't do and that in fact never happened at all.

Your work is important in alerting Americans to the plight of corrupt laws and, worse than that, corrupt officials. I do not doubt that many innocent persons are unjustly imprisoned. What amazing stories will come out and what fitting punishments and rewards will be handed out come judgment day!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

This is important: Carola needs our help!

Carola Jacobson has been a rock in the defense of her son, and I am proud to be her friend. However, she is seriously ill with breast cancer and friends have established a website to help raise funds for her.

It is utterly outrageous that a woman is forced to spend all that she has for legal help in a case that is a farce and a lie. The "justice" system of Maricopa County, Arizona, has done everything it could to destroy her life and the lives of her children. Now it wants to destroy her health by continuing to place her under huge amounts of stress.

While we cannot force the authorities of Maricopa County to do what is right, at least we can give to help Carola get the cancer treatment she needs. So, if you have the opportunity, please give what you can!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What if you are falsely accused? Part II: Choosing legal help

In the first part of this series, I pointed out that if the authorities falsely accuse you of a sex-related crime (or anything else), you should NEVER talk to the police. The police are not interested in finding out what happened; they are interested in finding a way to get you thrown into prison, whether or not you did anything wrong.

This post gives advice on choosing an attorney, which other than deciding not to talk to the police is the most important decision you will make. Many an innocent person has been railroaded into prison because of bad legal representation, and people who have been acquitted of these kinds of charges will tell you that their choice of attorney really mattered.

The vast majority of people who are falsely accused never have been in trouble with the law before and, thus, are not exactly on a first-name basis with criminal defense attorneys. They often take the first name out of the phone book, or get the name of an attorney from someone else, or a website in which the lawyer promises to be the Second Coming of F. Lee Bailey or Johnny Cochran.

I have been personally involved in four of these kinds of cases and each time the defendant has had to fire his or her original counsel, which means thousands of dollars thrown down the drain. I have seen attorneys attempt to sell out their clients, refuse to look at exculpatory material, and tell their clients to do nothing and let them do all the work. (And then they proceed to do the minimum amount of work until the defendant is in a huge hole.)

Believe me, it is MUCH better to have good counsel at the start, as opposed to having to fire the attorney mid-way through the case and then begin afresh with a new lawyer. So, how do you do it, and, more important, how do you afford it?

The first thing to remember is that your attorney needs to be someone who has at least some experience with these kinds of cases. As Tonya Craft has told me more than once, these cases are very different than any other kind of criminal charge. The public is much more likely to believe the charges, and the courts have been willing to accept "evidence" that is not evidence at all. Furthermore, as Tonya saw, more often than not, the judge may very well act like a member of the prosecution team. (I will say that "judge" brian outhouse's conduct during the trial was on the extreme side, but a lot of people who have been wrongfully convicted in these kinds of cases had trials in which the judges were hostile to them throughout the proceedings.)

The second thing is that the attorney you choose needs to be amenable to the belief that you are innocent of the charges. Criminal defense attorneys usually represent guilty people, and like everyone else, they become jaded over time dealing with liars, crooks, thieves, rapists, and murderers. Many times, they don't like their clients, would not want to meet them in a dark alley, and believe that they are guilty as sin, but still do their professional duty and represent them as they should.

It is very rare that a criminal defense attorney has an innocent client and all-too-often, that lawyer fails to recognize his or her client's innocence and immediately tries to find a way to plead out the accused. If you are innocent and want to fight the charges, and your attorney is suggesting that you plead out, fire that attorney immediately. Don't wait for him or her to have a change of heart. An attorney who will want to plead you out is an attorney who does not care about you, your innocence, or doing what is right.

No, if you want to prevail, you have to get a lawyer who believes in you and your innocence. You need to get a lawyer who will take a hard look at exculpatory evidence, and who will be open to receiving material from you. For example, Tonya had very good attorneys, but she also played a major role in her defense, poring over material, putting together timelines, and unearthing exculpatory material. You have to be willing to do the same, and if your attorney wants you to sit back and be passive, be active instead and say, "You're fired."

I have seen one case in which the attorney lied to his client and read NO material on the case before the bond hearing and then had no argument at all, which meant the client remained in jail. There is another case in which the attorney clearly did not know anything about how child molestation cases worked and never even raised a question about some very untenable claims the prosecution was making. And on and on.

Believe me, it does not take much for a lawyer to sell out his or her client, pocket the money, while you spend the rest of your life in prison for something that never happened. This sad event happens more time than you ever can imagine, and the attorney will not shed a tear as you are dragged away to hell on earth.

So, how do you choose an attorney? The first thing you have to do is to find out whether or not he or she is familiar with cases such as yours involving false accusation. If so, then you need to find out if the counsel is willing to fight for you. Keep in mind that you are employing the attorney, not the other way around.

Second, see if there is a personal connect. Can you work with this person? Does this attorney have references that you can call? Has he or she been able to get other falsely-accused people acquitted?

Third, do NOT hire someone who is part of the "courthouse crowd," especially of the courthouse where you will be tried. Tonya's first attorney, a local lawyer in Catoosa County, immediately tried to get her to plead out. There was no way that he was going to be willing to antagonize Chris Arnt, and he was all-too-happy to sell Tonya down the river.

A local member of the "good ole boy" crowd will not fight for you, for that means taking on the local "justice" apparatus and doing battle with his drinking and lunch buddies. That will not work.

There is a hazard in hiring someone from out-of-town, and that is the fact that the judge and others might be hostile to him or her simply because of the out-of-town label. During Tonya's trial, "judge" brian outhouse was openly hostile to her counsel, and both Len "The Man" Gregor and Chris "Facebook-Cruisemaster" Arnt many times during the proceedings reminded jurors that they counsel was not local, which I guess they thought would inflame the jurors to vote "guilty." (It turns out that the jurors were not the in-bred hicks that Arnt, Gregor, and outhouse thought they would be. The only in-bred hicks in the building were those employed by Catoosa County and the State of Georgia.)

Then there is the cost. You have to remember this simple fact when you are falsely accused: your life as you have known it is over. Over. Forget your career, your job, your friends, your church, and maybe even your family. People who shook your hand now will turn away; you are likely to be fired, or at least suspended from your job, and even if you are acquitted, a sizable group of people will claim that you "got off on a technicality" and really are a child molester or a rapist. (In modern America, unfortunately, "innocence" has become nothing more than a "legal technicality.")

Most of us don't have $50-$60 thousand of spare change lying around, so that is going to mean you will have to be created in your spending. One of the reasons that prosecutors love false accusation cases is that the defendants generally are not wealthy, yet are forced to pay for the legal counsel while the taxpayers (including you) finance the prosecution. Just this financial disconnect alone is a huge reason that thousands of people are wrongfully-convicted in American courts today.

This might mean a second mortgage, selling your house and anything else you own, cashing in on your pension, or whatever it takes. If you cannot afford an attorney, that means that you will be assigned a public defender, who is NOT going to be competent if you go to trial. Furthermore, the public defender will be a product of the "courthouse crowd," which means it is likely he or she will ignore exculpatory information and offer you up as a sacrifice to the prosecutors.

I have a friend who was convicted in federal court in what truly was a smarmy action by the feds. First, the feds seized her property, depriving her of being able to pay a lawyer, with the government assigning her counsel that demanded she plead out. My friend, who believed she was innocent, insisted on going to trial, so her court-appointed lawyers undermined her, refused to present exculpatory evidence during the trial, and let a jerk of a prosecutor win a conviction.

[Note]: Someone has commented on the board that where he or she works, the public defenders are more aggressive in their cases than are the regularly-paid attorneys, and that my earlier statement then negates the truthfulness everything I ever have posted. First, it is not my point to defame PDs. Many of them are overworked, underpaid, and face serious odds.

Second, I have listed the experiences I have witnessed, which means that I have not seen personally a situation in which public defenders are effective in dealing with the prosecution. The problem is NOT that public defenders are callous or craven, per se, but rather that the deck is stacked against them. They often have to dig into their own funds, as the payment they receive from the state is woeful, and they face constraints that prosecutors don't face.

Third, if they really go after the prosecution's case aggressively, they are liable to be victims of prosecutorial retaliation. That is the cold, hard reality of the world of the public defender, and I think where I made my error was in making it seem as though the PD always INTENDS to sell out the client.

The PD has a difficult job. In cases where I have been involved, at least on the periphery, the PD has wanted to plead out the defendant. One case especially bothered me, as the attorneys had in their possession a document that clearly contradicted what one of the prosecution's star witnesses was claiming. My friend, an attorney herself, showed that document to her public defenders, and they blew it off. During the trial, they literally presented NOTHING to contradict the prosecution's case, even though they had available material. Not surprisingly, she was convicted.

True, one case does not determine a trend. It is my contention, however, that in the kinds of cases we see here, unless a PD has experience with wrongful-accusation charges, it is better to have counsel that does have experience and that is likely to hold you really are innocent.

Again, let me emphasize that I am not dissing PDs or their work. They labor against constraints that are terribly unfair and that make theirs an uphill battle. That is the reality of their situation.[End Note]

You want to get a lawyer who believes you are innocent and understands the nature of these kinds of cases. Anything less than that will land you in prison for the rest of your life.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Jerry Sandusky Case: What are the appropriate questions?

With false accusations of sex-related crimes running rampant in our country, it often becomes difficult to ascertain what the truth might be when someone makes an accusation that might be credible -- or could be a lie. It becomes even more difficult when the person accused is well-known and admired.

The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is reporting that a grand jury there is looking into allegations that Jerry Sandusky, the legendary assistant coach who worked with Joe Paterno at Penn State until retirement in 1999, sexually assaulted a 15-year-old boy. Here is what was said on the Huffington Post today:
Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State defensive coordinator known for his charitable work helping at-risk children, is being investigated by a state grand jury on allegations he indecently assaulted a teenage boy, a newspaper reported.

Sandusky has not been charged. A grand jury examines accusations to determine if evidence warrants filing charges.

A message left by The Associated Press at a number listed for Sandusky in State College was not immediately returned. His lawyer, Joseph Amendola, said in a statement that Sandusky maintained his innocence and was disappointed the newspaper published a story "prior to any determination by the Attorney General's Office that he did anything inappropriate at all."

"While Jerry has been aware of an ongoing investigation by the Attorney General's Office for many months dating back to 2009, he has steadfastly maintained his innocence throughout this ordeal," Amendola said.

The Patriot-News in Harrisburg reported Thursday that it spoke to five anonymous sources with knowledge of the case who say a grand jury has been meeting in Harrisburg for 18 months to hear allegations made by a 15-year-old boy in 2009.

The paper reported the teen told authorities that there was inappropriate contact over a four-year period.
The Patriot-News also reported this:
Two months ago, state police at Rockview in Centre County began calling witnesses to a May 1998 report by Penn State University police detailing an earlier allegation of inappropriate contact against Sandusky by another boy.

According to several sources, that boy, who was 12 at the time, alleged he and Sandusky were showering in the football building on Penn State’s campus when the incident took place.

The boy’s mother told The Patriot-News she was specifically instructed by state police at Rockview not to speak with a reporter. Her name is being withheld by The Patriot-News to protect the identity of her son.

No charges were ever filed against Sandusky.

According to sources close to the investigation, the boy told police in 1998 that Sandusky had showered with him in a locker room of the Lasch Building — home to the football program — during a tour. The boy claimed Sandusky washed his body during the shower, sources said.

As part of the May 1998 investigation, police had the boy’s mother call Sandusky to her State College home and confront him while they hid in another room, according to sources.

Another boy, now an adult in the armed forces, was named as a witness in the 1998 Penn State police report and has been contacted by state police, his wife confirmed.
All of this sounds quite damning, yet as one who is familiar with how the police work in such cases, this information might provide real evidence that Sandusky is a child molester -- or it could be absolutely meaningless. Unfortunately, as I read some of the comments made by readers of the articles, it seems that they have seen absolute proof of his guilt.

Let me explain a parallel case, that being the charges against Michael Rasmussen. Like Sandusky, Michael has more than one person making accusations. However, as one looks closely at who is accusing Michael and the context of those accusations, one finds that there absolutely is no evidence except what three people are claiming.

Furthermore, as one examines EACH of the accusations, it is not hard to see that they are questionable, and when the case comes to trial, we will find that the prosecution's "slam dunk" witnesses are going to be stumbling over a lot of facts that will be put in front of them. As I see it, the fact that there are multiple accusers in the end will make the case even weaker as the defense exposes the contacts between them. For example, Apryl has claimed that she had not had any contact with Scott Monroe, another accuser.

However, it will not be difficult for the defense to establish that there was contact and planning between them. When that happens, the defense also will have demonstrated that Apryl committed a felony by making false statements and then lying on top of them. (Prosecutors already have told Apryl that this will be an easy case, and that she will only be on the stand for a short time. So, they have lied to her as well. This should be interesting.)

Likewise, there were multiple accusers in the Tonya Craft case, and they crashed and burned, especially when it became obvious that they had been coached, and when Sandra Lamb's daughter actually recited lines from the movies in which she acted. So, I cannot say that two accusers against Sandusky actually means anything.

I do find it interesting, however, that the police are doing what seems to be a careful investigation, unlike what we saw with Tonya Craft, the Jacobson child, Michael Rasmussen, and James Combs. In those cases, the police decided on the front end that the accused were guilty and that their job was to find a way to hammer square pegs of evidence into the round holes of truth.

It is obvious to me that the police are being careful because if they are seen trying to railroad someone as prominent as Jerry Sandusky, then they are going to be scrutinized in every other sex-assault case they have investigated. Likewise, prosecutors will come under the kind of scrutiny that the press and others rarely give them if they are seen to try to fabricate evidence against one of the most respected sports figures in Pennsylvania.

Now, I cannot say in this post that Jerry Sandusky is guilty of anything. In the accusation from more than a decade ago, police tried to trick him into making a self-incriminating statement, and their scheme fell apart. (That is why I say that just because someone accused him of sexual assault more than 10 years ago might very well mean absolutely nothing.)

Nor can I say I believe the guy is innocent. I don't know, and right now I have no idea about what the investigation is doing, what people are saying, and if there is evidence beyond the "he said, he said" nature of this case. If a number of other young men come forward and make similar claims -- claims, I might add, that could be demonstrated to be credible -- then things might become much more difficult for Sandusky.

Here is the problem in a nutshell: the law permits sexual-assault-molestation cases to go to trial simply on the word of an accuser. No physical evidence is necessary. (I don't know the details of Pennsylvania law, but when the federal government became involved in this area through the Mondale Act, one of the provisions was that states change their law to eliminate the need for physical evidence or anything else besides an accuser's words. I suspect that Pennsylvania has fallen into line.)

I'm extremely wary of cases that are built upon someone's accusation, and especially someone who would stand to gain money (should a jury convict) through a lawsuit. I would be curious to know if any of the accusing parties have approached Sandusky or the organization he represents to demand money. Maybe that has not happened, but in other cases, we do find money to be a powerful motivator.

I know nothing about Sandusky's attorney, Joseph Amendola. He might be an excellent attorney, someone who is well-versed in these kinds of cases, or he might be a friend who has handled other matters for Sandusky and has been called upon for this case as well. The important thing here is that if Amendola is NOT experienced in dealing with sexual assault accusation cases, or if he is not familiar with the reasons that such cases are very, very different from other kinds of criminal cases, then Sandusky could be in serious trouble, even if he is innocent.

Jerry Sandusky's fame and reputation have served as a check upon the authorities in Pennsylvania to throw together a slipshod case in hopes of scoring a quick and easy victory. Nonetheless, here is a man whose reputation forever is stained, and if he is innocent and the accusations false, may those who accused him be forced to pay dearly. If the accusers are telling the truth, then I would hope the law would deal properly with him. We shall see.