Thursday, July 28, 2011

No good deed goes unpunished: the saga of Ken Buck

Last November, Ken Buck, a prosecutor who ran for a U.S. Senate seat in Colorado, was narrowly defeated. As a Tea Party and Republican candidate, he already was the target of the media, and when it was publicized that he refused to prosecute a particular alleged rape case, you can imagine what the media reaction became.

Mother Jones, the hard-left publication, all-but-declared this refusal was "proof" that Buck was a misogynist. Declared the magazine:
On the campaign trail, Buck has called this a nonstory. But between this, his controversial "high heels" attack ad against a female primary challenger, and his view that abortion should be illegal, even in cases of rape and incest, Buck's been beset by charges of sexism in his race with incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D). The victim says that's at the heart of Buck's non-prosecution of her alleged attacker. "It reflects his stereotypes," she says. "It shows that he's unable to [fulfill] his professional duties without taking his personal biases and stereotypes into consideration."
Other publication, from Salon to the Huffington Post to The Atlantic also followed suit with similar accusation, and the hard-left blogs had a field day. HERE IS A GUY WHO SUPPORTS RAPE!! As these same media outlets spewed forth their rhetoric in the infamous Duke Lacrosse Case, so they gave the open-and-shut opinion which one has come to expect.

Libertarian writer James Bovard once told me that in politics, no one cares about the truth, and I will say that political journalism falls into that category. None of the writers whom I contacted on this story really cared whether or not what they were saying was true. In fact, to all of them, it was true by definition. To put it another way, the facts did not matter because political ideology always trumps the truth, as it is politics and the media that determine truth, anyway.

The syllogism went like this:
  • Ken Buck is running as a conservative Republican
  • All conservative Republicans are misogynists who support rape
  • Therefore, Ken Buck did not pursue a "slam dunk" rape case because of political ideology.
There are two things, however, that would negate this syllogism as well as the tone of the "news" coverage. First, one would have to assume, from reading these journalists and law professors, that Buck's office in Weld County never, ever prosecuted rape cases, or was ideologically reluctant to do so. Yet, there is nothing in the record to show that Weld County prosecutors refused to prosecute rape cases.

The second thing is even more telling and more important, and was unknown to the media: a key investigator in this case, someone who is not associated with the Tea Party or conservative politics and who has helped put many rapists behind bars, strongly believed these accusations to be false. This person's input into the case was not irrelevant, and in my personal dealings with the person, I find nothing but credibility and lots of it.

In other words, Buck took advice from someone who understood the situation much better than did any of the media people or law professors who were using this case to push their own partisan political agendas. The difference is that the particular adviser was looking at the facts, while the others did not care, as facts never do seem to matter to political ideologues.

There is another matter I believe that the media conveniently left out: Ken Buck played an important role in seeking justice after the railroading and wrongful conviction of Tim Masters. (Masters was convicted of the murder of Peggy Hettrick after Fort Collins Det. Jim Broderick lied during the investigation and then lied in court. The two prosecutors, Jolene Blair and Terry Gilmore, later became judges and were voted out of office after Masters' verdict was overturned and he was freed.)

It was Buck who secured the indictment against Broderick, and it is very, very rare that a prosecutor will go after a police officer for lying. Face it, most prosecutors are quite happy to have police lie if the lies can help them secure convictions. My previous post about Lee's Summit, Missouri, is more typical in American "justice." (Unfortunately, Broderick never will come to justice, as a judge has dismissed the charges, claiming that the statute of limitations already had passed.)

Because rape has become a political crime in an overly-politicized society, Ken Buck was punished for not pursuing a case that would have been questionable at best. At the same time, the same media that decided there could be no other reason than misogyny failed to look at anything else in his record to point out that at least he was a prosecutor who believed that those people who often are untouchable also needed to be brought to justice.

As I see it, people like Ken Buck are a rarity in our system, as most prosecutors really don't care if the person on trial actually committed a crime. We also see time and again outfits like Mother Jones and the New York Times feature people who have been wrongly convicted. However, when it comes down to it, these same people really don't care about guilt or innocence at all. They care for nothing but partisan politics and demand that everyone shape their reality according to their worldviews. If innocence fits their political agenda, then it is important, and if false accusations, like those in the Duke case, fit their agenda, then they promote false allegations. And those that fail to bow down will be vilified, and so it was here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Think cops and prosecutors and judges are honest? I give you Lee's Summit, Missouri!

Whenever there is a story about police and prosecutorial misconduct, invariably the writer will make a statement to the effect of "Most cops and prosecutors are honest, as we are talking only about a few bad apples." I hate to say it folks, but the damned barrel is rotten, and there are few good apples left.

The latest outrage comes from Lee's Summit, Missouri, and I had to find out about this not from the American media, but from Russia's RT network. (Disclaimer: I have been interviewed on RT three times, and consider it a much more reliable source of news than any mainstream news outlet in the USA.)

As you read this story, your blood pressure will go up, and as you read the comments on this account from people who actually knew the police and prosecutorial characters, your blood will boil even more.

The story goes as such. Ted White, who lived in Lee's Summit, had a wife (then on her third marriage) who was having an affair with a cop, Richard McKinley. In order to get her husband out of the way, Tina White claimed that her husband was sexually abusing their children and the lead detective was none other than...McKinley.

The authorities from the police to the prosecutors, Jill A. Kanatzar (whose husband now is a judge) and Jennifer Mettler knew about the affair, but withheld it from the defense. White was convicted and only later did he find out what had happened, but not before being in prison for five years. Here is one account, which is absolutely shocking:
Prior to [the detective's] January 1999 deposition, the prosecutor told Richard that he would need to answer questions about the affair truthfully. The prosecutor said he would cough to signal to Richard when he needed to disclose the affair in response to a question. Richard was asked if he had any personal interest in the case, during a deposition, and he stated he did not. The prosecutor did not signal him to say otherwise. Consequently, White never learned of Richard and Tina's affair before his first criminal trial. (Emphasis mine)
Recently, White won a $16 million judgment from Lee's Summit, although McKinley still is employed as a detective, and never faced any consequences for lying under oath and framing an innocent man. (There was also a huge monetary reward for McKinley, as White's wife was able to grab more than $600,000 in the divorce settlement because her husband was convicted of a crime. McKinley got to cash in and the entire Missouri legal establishment looked the other way.)

As for Kanatzar, she is employed with a high-rolling law firm in Kansas City appropriately named Dollar. Like the ex-wife of the man that Kanatzar helped to frame, she also was able to cash in on wrongdoing. And with her husband being a judge, she knows she never has to worry about facing any legal troubles no matter what she does.

By the way, none of the felons in this case -- and there were several -- even lost a dime, much less had to face any legal consequences. If you want to see a picture of government "justice" in the United States of America, I give you this case. This is not an exception; it is the rule.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Wall Street Journal and federal criminal law

Those of us who believe that federal criminal law is itself a crime are not surprised by this recent article in the Wall Street Journal. Federal authorities have eviscerated the old mens rea provision of criminal law -- that the person in question intended to commit a crime -- and replace it with, frankly, legal terror.

I had a similar piece in Regulation last year. Watching these vicious animals called federal prosecutors is very difficult if one has even a shred of humanity. Prosecutors can charge and convict anyone of their choosing, and they love to see people as nothing more than prey to be hunted down and destroyed. THAT is the American legal system, and there is none other.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More on the Brad Cooper railroad

There are a couple of websites, including a blog, dedicated to the railroading of Brad Cooper. Before I list them, however, I want to direct readers to comments left on the Cooper blog. They are an eye-opener, and confirm what I have known for years about the utter dishonesty and criminal behavior of North Carolina prosecutors:
I'm closely connected to the BC murder trial, from the prosecution side. I can honestly say the following:

1. The reason why the prosecution took so long with its case was to wear down the jury so that they would be too exhausted to really pay attention.

2. A portion of the prosecution does not think he did it but were directed to win this case at all cost in order to save face for the police department.

3. The google maps defense didn't stand a chance. The prosecution understood that, in today's climate, jurors, especially black jurors, are likely to believe in setups by the police department. This counter-evidence didn't have a chance of getting admitted.

4. In jury selection the defense had a lot of people they liked but the prosecution asked questions about if they could participate in a "extensively lengthy trial" and this forced those that the defense liked to step down. Had the defense not excused the ones they did the jury would have had 0 men and would have been a mixture of poor black women and very wealthy white women.

5. The defense's expert who was on the witness list and had spent thousands of dollars and countless hours trying to find the same evidence as the prosecution's expert couldn't find the google maps. He was under contract with Raleigh Police Department on some other cases and was told if he was to present said non-evidence as exculpatory then he would lose his livelihood.
If what this person has said is true, then a number of people associated with "law enforcement, the D.A.'s office, and the North Carolina judiciary should be looking down the barrels of the law. Instead, the real murderer is free and so are a host of other criminals in blue costumes and the prosecutor's uniform.

The blog is Justice for Brad Cooper, and the website is Justice for Brad. Because both of these are impressive sites, I am going to feature portions of them from time to time, as well as make commentary on my own.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Is this another Craft/McMartin case?

The headlines are quite familiar to those of us who have been in this country post-Mondale Act: "Molestation investigation shuts down _______ school." (Of course, it always seems to be a private school, as I don't recall the government going after government schools or daycare centers.)

While I think that the writer for the Sacramento Bee in this story at least tries to give another side to the story in writing about the McMartin case, although she does not give full justice to how bad those accusations were and why they were bogus. As I read her article, however, I cannot help but wonder just how bad this investigation really is and I cannot help but wonder if we have another Craft/McMartin situation.

Before explaining my position, however, I cannot help but note that it was also a McClatchy-owned newspaper (like the Bee), the Raleigh News & Observer, that jump-started the false accusations in the Duke Lacrosse Case, as the newspaper published one false story after another. (The N&O even distributed the infamous "wanted" poster of the lacrosse players with a Sunday edition, thereby lending credence to what was found to be an utterly dishonest investigation.) One hopes that McClatchy has learned a lesson about rushing to judgment, but given that most journalists are anxious to jump off the cliff whenever police and prosecutors tell them to do so, I'm not confident that ANY mainstream paper can handle such a story.

Here are some excerpts from the story, and I will explain afterward why my b.s. detectors are on full alert:
Officials shut down a private Citrus Heights elementary school Monday and suspended its license pending a sweeping investigation into allegations that its principal molested children over the past 15 years.
And:
In its complaint, the Social Services Department alleges that Adams, whom students referred to as "Mr. Bob," touched female pupils on their chests and vaginal areas, touched their bodies under their shirts and down their pants, and "secluded" female children under a computer desk and lay with them on a mat in his office.

The complaint also names office administrator Cynthia Higgins, alleging that she failed to report the principal's behavior after receiving complaints. It says a volunteer, Irma Mertens, saw Robert Adams touch a girl's buttocks after inserting his hand under her swimsuit and told Higgins about it.
OK, now I have some questions:
  • How does something like this go on for 15 years and NO ONE report it? No one else witnessed the kind of behavior that we see? Sorry, people, but child molesters don't just do this in complete anonymity for 15 years without people getting suspicious, especially in an open setting like a school.
  • What are the cirumstances under which Mertens made the claim? For example, Sandra Lamb and Sherri Wilson wanted to "get back" at Tonya Craft, and had the means to do it through Chris Arnt, who had hoped to be able to ride a "big case" to a higher political office. Did Mertens actually see this? Was she on the "outs" with Adams or someone else? The article does not say, but I would be quite interested to know some of the background.
  • How is it that parents would rave about the school for years? Would they have been THAT blind? Would not have kids and parents have been talking?
  • Did he allegedly go after both boys and girls, for if that is the claim, then we know it HAS to be suspect, as real child molesters go for one or the other. (Yes, I know, the Usual Trolls will claim that Adams is that one-percent exception. Yeah, everyone accused ALWAYS falls into that one-percent category, which is interesting, since one-percent means one out of a hundred, not everyone.)
One has to understand that I have no confidence at all in the police and social services to handle these cases. What happened in the LMJC in Tonya Craft's case happens all over the country. Given the current political climate, it is very, very rare for government police, government prosecutors, and government social workers actually to do their job and conduct honest investigations.

Believe me, the police and prosecutors in Citrus Heights already have made up their minds, and now the social services interviewers are going to try to manipulate the children they interview in order to obtain the results that they want to get. I will GUARANTEE that this will NOT be an investigation carried out by honest brokers. Honest brokers no longer exist in any sizable numbers in the various U.S. government systems of "justice."

People familiar with the Craft case, or, for that matter, Brad Cooper's case, already know the drill. Police and prosecutors begin with a conclusion, and then they manipulate the "evidence" in order to prove that one really can easily drive square pegs into round holes.

Don't forget that it was the State of California that touched off the whole modern Molestation Witch Hunts, first with Ed Jaegels in Bakersfield, California, and then the McMartin Case. Janet Reno in Miami joined in the chase later, and it was off to the races from there.

This would not be possible, except that judges often are in on the fix, as they were in the Craft and Cooper cases. I hope that things are different in this one, but right now, I have the sickening feeling that everyone is going to jump off the same cliff once again.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Newest Outrage in Arizona

It looks as though the situation involving false charges against the son of Carola Jacobson is not over, even though it should have ended months ago. Carola has sent me an email with the latest prosecutorial/government outrage from a state (Arizona) that seems to lead the country in being outrageous:
As I think you know the judge ordered that the state has to pay for our expert, well, she has not been paid due to "budget cuts". The prosecutor does not want to dismiss until she has interviewed the expert and not surprisingly the expert will not talk to the prosecutor until she has been paid. So I guess we are moving forward with a trial date at the end of September. They seem to have enough money to persue a b.s. case but can't pay for the expert which was ordered to be paid for by the state by the judge. Doesn't that leave you scratching your head???
This kind of Catch-22 is not unusual for people who have dealt with the courts in this country, and Maricopa County is especially bad. Notice that the prosecutor is not even trying to do any research on this case or is trying to apply even basic common sense.

No, the modern American prosecutor is told to hold onto a case and never assume innocence, no matter how ridiculous the evidence. The idea is to use the powers of the office to string out people, and then "bleed 'em and plead 'em," as prosecutors like to say.

I hope that people reading this will not be silent. I'm going to do what I can to publicize this latest outrage.

Apologies for no post

Sorry that I have not posted in a week. This has been a very busy time, both with dealing with the arrival of Sintija (who will be with us for the next four weeks), and working on deadlines for papers and articles.

I just had an academic paper accepted in which I critique the response of the Duke University administration according to an organizational "crisis" model to see how Brodhead and company did. Yeah, they did badly. I know everyone is shocked. More on the paper later.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Update on our adoption of Sintija

This past weekend, we drove to New York City to get Sintija, who is staying with us for five weeks this summer. This is part of a hosting program that is separate from the adoption process, but plays a part in the process, no less.

Our hope is that there will be a good relationship established (and we already are off to a good start, even if she speaks no English) this summer so when (Lord willing) we are assigned to her and travel to Latvia in the fall, that things will go well. This process with Latvia is long and costly and requires three trips to the country, but so far we have managed to get to this point.

After arriving home last night, Sintija slept until about 10 this morning and was greeted by our two dogs, Teddy (the one in the picture) and Spanky. We are happy to report that this first meeting was successful!

Again, this is a long process, but I can tell readers already that we really like Sintija. She is tall for her age (12, turning 13 in October) and is a prettier girl than what we had seen in the original picture. She seems to have a wonderful, mischievous personality, shy, but at the same time ready to be part of our family. She does not yet know we are trying to adopt her, and may not know until the fall.

So, pray for us that this will turn out to be a wonderful time. Thanks to all of you who have supported us.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Bradley Cooper and the case narrative

On July 12, 2008, Nancy Cooper, a middle-class wife and mother of two young children living in Cary, North Carolina, was declared missing. Two days later, her body was found in Wake County and the affluent community (where many people are employed in high-paying jobs at the Research Triangle or at the nearby University of North Carolina) was stunned.

The police investigation almost immediately centered on Nancy's husband, Brad. In their investigation, police found that the couple, which had moved to Cary from Canada, was on the verge of divorcing. This was not going to be an amicable divorce, from what people who knew the couple were saying, and in these kinds of cases, the estranged spouse almost always is going to be the prime suspect.

Almost immediately, police locked in on Brad Cooper, and at that point, to be honest, they decided that he would be the one they would investigate. Pat Bazemore, Cary's chief of police, declared that it was "not a random crime," which meant that whoever killed Nancy Cooper meant to kill her. What is important to remember is that from that point on, the police would interpret ALL information as pointing to Brad's guilt, rather than trying to use the information they found as a roadmap to finding a suspect. (He was arrested in October of that year and charged with Nancy's murder.)

This hardly is unusual with police these days, and this is one of the biggest criticisms that defense attorneys and people like Radley Balko (one of the most accurate and important journalistic commentators on the law today) have of police investigations. All too often, police decide beforehand who is guilty and then tailor their investigation toward proving what they already believe to be true.

To put it mildly, this is a recipe for disaster, and it is the single worst cause of innocent people being framed. What starts out as a flawed investigation ultimately turns into police putting together a house of dishonest cards, and that is what happened in the Brad Cooper case.

Police and prosecutors claimed that Bradley strangled his wife to death the night of July 11, put her body into the trunk of the car, drove her to the place where he had found in a Google search, and dumped her there. Brad, on the other hand, claimed that she had gone out jogging that morning and had called him on her cellphone at about 6:40 a.m.

Obviously, if she was out jogging and calling her husband instead of lying dead in a drainage ditch, the police/prosecution narrative made no sense and there was a killer on the loose. Making matters worse for the law enforcement narrative, a number of people told police that they had seen her jogging that morning. Obviously, there would be a huge collision course between competing streams of "evidence."

As readers know, houses of cards fall apart, and this one did, too. However, when prosecutors AND judges decide that they are going to do their best to prop up a bad case, then it really does not matter whether or not the charges have a foundation. If a jury goes along with what the judge and prosecutors want, then the defendant is doomed, and innocence means nothing.

There are a number of things that did not make sense in this prosecution, led by Assistant District Attorney Howard J. Cummings and ADAs Boz Zellinger and Amy Fitzhugh, and as I will point out in future posts, it is clear that the police, prosecutors, and the judge decided to find a way to deal with the red flags of the investigation. They include:
  • Police destruction of the cell-phone data in Nancy Cooper's cellphone. Police claim it was accidental, but the defense was able to raise some important questions about it. By destroying the material and not notifying the defense for nine months about it, one gets the sense that something more than just carelessness is at work.
  • The Google search of the area where Nancy Cooper's body was discovered was found on Brad Cooper's computer, and jurors said afterward that this was the key piece of evidence that led them to convict Cooper. The defense had an expert who was going to testify that this particular bit of "evidence" had been planted, but Judge Paul Gessner, an ex-cop and prosecutor whose rulings and demeanor clearly favored the prosecution (a reminder of "judge" brian out-house in the Tonya Craft trial), declared that the expert could not testify because, in Gessner's words, he was "not qualified." Thus, the jurors were not permitted to hear contrary evidence, and future posts not only will go into the expert's findings, but also will take a hard look to see whether he was unqualified or not;
  • The witnesses who claimed to have seen Nancy Cooper that morning jogging. Since more than a dozen people made that claim, one would think that the police and prosecution would have been interested in their story. Think again. Police and prosecutors clearly did not want to have their narrative distracted and ignored these witnesses.
There is more to the trial and investigation (or the lack of an investigation), and I will cover it over time. I end this post with a timeline prepared for me by one of Brad's supporters:

• On Friday evening, July 11th, 2008, Brad, Nancy and their two daughters attended a neighborhood barbecue. Brad took the children home at approximately 8PM while Nancy stayed at the party until approximately midnight.

• At approximately 4AM, Brad woke up to his younger daughter (just under age 2) crying for a bottle of milk. He was trying to calm her down and shortly after, Nancy woke up too. They were trying to wean her off the bottles of milk so they were trying to find other ways to calm her down, plus they were out of milk.

• The two of them started some laundry and it was typical for this family to be awake early in the morning since Nancy often went running early in the morning. Finally, shortly after 6AM, Brad decided to go to the Harris Teeter to buy some milk.

• He returned home with the milk and Nancy gave their daughter the bottle and they realized they were out of laundry detergent so Brad went back to the store to buy some. The store was approximately 2 miles from the home. While en route to the store, Nancy called Brad and asked him to also pick up some green juice for their older daughter. This phone call was received at 6:40 AM, just before Brad is seen entering the Harris Teeter Supermarket.

• Brad returned home and took his daughter upstairs to the home office so she could finish her bottle while he got some work done. He heard Nancy leave to go jogging at approximately 7AM.

• Brad received phone calls from two of Nancy’s friends that morning and he told them that he thought she may have gone jogging with a friend, Carey Clarke but that she hadn’t returned yet.

• Brad had made plans to play tennis the prior evening with a friend for 9:30AM. When Nancy hadn’t returned home by then he called his friend, Mike Hiller to cancel.

• As it got later, Brad became worried and called Nancy’s friend, Jessica Adam to see if she had Carey Clarke’s phone number. She didn’t. Brad told Jessica he was going to put the girls in the car and drive around to look for Nancy.

• At 2:15PM, Jessica Adam called police. Attached is the audio of the phone call: http://www.wral.com/news/local/audio/3250012/

• In the phone call, Jessica implicated that Brad may have had something to do with Nancy’s disappearance.

• Over the next 2 days, police questioned Brad repeatedly and he fully cooperated with them. They also had police follow him and claimed it was to protect him, yet they didn’t put a police trail on the children.

• Nancy’s body was found in the evening of July 14th in a drainage pond in a new construction area 3 miles from the Cooper home. The autopsy report would later indicate that she was strangled.

• Police took possession of the Cooper home on July 15th as part of the investigation.

• On July 16th, Nancy’s parents filed for temporary custody of the children and the judge granted them custody.

• In early October, Brad agreed to undergo a custody deposition in order to regain custody of his children. It was 7 hours long and was more of an interrogation than a deposition. Very specific questions about the events leading up to and following Nancy’s disappearance were asked. It was evident the police supplied questions to the custody attorney.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Casey Anthony verdict: the jury was right and Nasty Nancy (as always) is wrong

Nancy Grace is livid. She had been shilling for months for a conviction of Casey Anthony for allegedly murdering her two-year-old daughter, Caylee, and now the jury has acquitted Anthony of murder charges. What's a gal like Nasty Nancy to do?

Perhaps the first thing that Nasty Nancy should do is to read the laws of this country, and learn the standards that supposedly exist for conviction. Even though Nasty Nancy's standards for conviction are simple -- an accusation automatically means one is guilty -- the legal standard actually is "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."

(One must remember that Nasty Nancy during the Duke Lacrosse Case, in which she automatically declared the lacrosse players guilty of gang rape, actually tried to claim that the legal presumption of innocence was a creation of Hitler's Germany. I'm serious.)

During the trial of Casey Anthony, the prosecution managed to establish what people already knew:
  • The skeletal remains found were those of Caylee and there was duct tape sticking to her skull;
  • Casey lied to the police about a number of things;
  • Casey denied murdering her daughter;
  • Casey was not a person of the highest character.
Some of those things are damning indictments if a woman applies for the Mother of the Year Award or is trying to be a role model to young women. I would hope that none of my daughters turns out to be like Casey Anthony.

However, having a bad character does not mean one is a murderer. If that were so, then Washington, D.C., would be the murder capital of the world. (Come to think of it, not long ago, D.C. WAS the murder capital of the world, and it is true that bad character abounds in that city. Nonetheless, my original point stands.)

Seizing on the duct tape, prosecutors then claimed that Casey smothered her child with it in order to get rid of her so that she could be a Big Party Animal. The problem was that they had no idea if the child were smothered with duct tape or not, none. They were engaging in conjecture, and any jury that takes its job seriously is not going to convict on the basis of a pretty loose conjecture.

Now, had Casey's DNA been found on the duct tape, that might have demonstrated a connection to the prosecution's narrative, but, alas, they found nothing of the sort. What they had was a little girl's skeletal remains and a mother of less-than-savory character.

In the end, the jury did convict Casey Anthony of the obvious: she lied to the police. The crimes are misdemeanors, and the maximum she could get if the sentences for each of the four counts are run consecutively is four years, and she already has been jailed for three. Thus, whatever time she will spend in jail almost is over.

I predict that in the coming days, Nasty Nancy will be hounding the jurors and doing everything but demanding that lynch mobs burn down the jurors' houses. Certainly, the Usual Suspects in the media will denounce what they see as a wrongful acquittal.

Along with Nasty Nancy, Andrea Peyser at the New York Post, a writer who always seems to believe that anyone accused is guilty, and that no trial ever is necessary, already is on the "O.J. Verdict" bandwagon. Her column is the "How DARE a jury disagree with my views!" screed that I would expect from her. Peyser really does seem to believe -- and I have read her columns for years -- that an accusation is the same as proof of guilt, and that there is no need for a trial when she already has been judge and jury.

Yet, what I see is a jury that did its job. Prosecutors and Nasty Nancy and company demanded that jurors engage in speculation, and the jurors refused to do that, and I applaud them for their integrity. Maybe Casey Anthony did murder her daughter, but the prosecution never proved it, and jurors are supposed to acquit when that happens. And it happened.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Nifong Times

Other than the Durham Herald-Sun, no newspaper in the country disgraced itself in the Duke Lacrosse Case more than did the New York Times. This is a paper that claimed an obvious deus ex machina report written by a police sergeant who took no notes in the case was a vital piece of evidence. (One would guess the report was "evidence" in a crime if one understands that the Durham Police Department helped fabricate the charges and had its officers lie to grand jurors, and prepare false documents, which actually is criminal behavior.)

This is a paper that claimed that police had discovered what would amount to a "magic towel" that would wipe away the DNA of one person and keep another. This is a paper whose reporters, columnists, and editors seemed to believe that Political Correctness means that one can suspend the laws of time and space when left-wing "values" are at stake.

After the Duke case imploded and left egg all over the faces of NYT staffers, there was a promise by media people in general and the folks at the NYT in particular to "do better" the next time. That was a lie, a huge lie, as the very institutional nature of modern American journalism simply does not permit reflection, only reaction, and the reaction is done by people whose tunnel vision worldviews only make things worse.

Along came the rape and sexual assault allegations against former International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn and -- Guess what? -- the NYT and other newspapers and media outlets run over the same cliff that they did in the Duke case, from the early rush to judgment and the usual platitudes about power and poverty to the media frenzy at the "perp walk." As in the Duke case, when the facts came out, the NYT once again looked to be a ridiculous rag.

So, what does the paper do? It puts out pro-prosecution propaganda. Yes, it was the PROSECUTION that found the discrepancies in the accuser's statements. And, on the editorial page of July 5, columnist Joe Nocera put out every ridiculous platitude that one could imagine in praising D.A. Cyrus Vance, Jr.

Before looking at the guy's ridiculous column, I remind readers of the recent column by Eric Margolis, a writer and thinker I respect much more than Nocera. Margolis reminds his readers that the revelations by the prosecution were not done in the name of "doing the right thing," but rather because the defense was about to lay out the facts, and the prosecutors didn't want to be shown up:
It is unprecedented for prosecutors to discredit their own star witness. The city’s red-faced DA, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., probably did so because of rumors that the defense, which had assigned a number of crack investigators to check into the maid’s background, was about to go public with the embarrassing information.
(Interestingly, I had said the same thing in my previous column on this sorry case.)

Enter Nocera. After giving the typical NYT view of the case, he declares:
For the life of me, though, I can’t see what Vance did wrong. Quite the contrary. The woman alleged rape, for crying out loud, which was backed up by physical (and other) evidence. She had no criminal record. Her employer vouched for her. The quick decision to indict made a lot of sense, both for legal and practical reasons. Then, as the victim’s credibility crumbled, Vance didn’t try to pretend that he still had a slam dunk, something far too many prosecutors do. He acknowledged the problems.

Lévy, himself a member of the French elite, seems particularly incensed that Vance wouldn’t automatically give Strauss-Kahn a pass, given his extraordinary social status. Especially since his accuser had no status at all.

But that is exactly why Vance should be applauded: a woman with no power made a credible accusation against a man with enormous power. He acted without fear or favor. To have done otherwise would have been to violate everything we believe in this country about no one being above the law.
For starters, the prosecutors lied about the strength of their case. What they had was a woman who was a good actor, and who had engaged in sex with DSK. Hey, if a politician were to be charged with rape for every sexual escapade, then Ted Kennedy would have died in prison.

But Nocera doesn't stop there. No, channeling what the NYT crowd was saying about the Duke case, he declares:
As for Strauss-Kahn’s humiliation, clearly something very bad happened in that hotel room. Quite possibly a crime was committed. Strauss-Kahn’s sordid sexual history makes it likely that he was the instigator. If the worst he suffers is a perp walk, a few days in Rikers Island and some nasty headlines, one’s heart ought not bleed. Ah, yes, and he had to resign as the chief of an institution where sexual harassment was allegedly rampant, thanks, in part, to a culture he helped perpetuate. Gee, isn’t that awful?
What is Nocera saying? He is declaring that because DSK was wealthy, there was nothing wrong in bringing false charges against him. Where have we heard that before? Try reading the NYT columnists on the Duke case, and you will see the similarities in thinking.

The real problem is that facts no longer matter at the NYT, only ideology. It was ideology that gave the NYT license to help Rudy Giuliani commit felony after felony in his pursuit of Wall Street figures and the pursuit of ideology that permitted the NYT to give a free pass to the brutal predations of Elliot Spitzer, a.k.a., Client #9.

Like the Bourbons of France, the journalists at the NYT learn nothing -- and they forget nothing.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The false accusation case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn collapses

To the surprise of no one who has done even a smidgen of due diligence in the sexual assault case against former International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the New York Times and other news outlets are reporting that the whole thing is falling apart because the accuser has been spinning more stories than did Crystal Mangum of Duke Lacrosse case fame. His release on his own recognizance (after originally being held on $5 million bond) is the last step before this case officially is trashed, I believe.

Shortly after Strauss-Kahn's arrest, Kerwyn and I were discussing the case and as she laid out the facts, it was pretty obvious that from the start, the police and, more important, the Manhattan district attorney's office, were telling Mike Nifongesque lies. Remember that he supposedly left the hotel immediately after the attempted rape, being in such a rush that he left his cellphone behind in an attempt to quickly get out of the country?

It turns out that he checked out of the hotel in an orderly fashion, went to the airport, and then called the hotel to see if they could deliver his cellphone to him. None of his actions seemed to be those of a man desperately trying to leave the USA, although given the state of "law enforcement" in this country, I can't blame him for wanting to get the heck out of this place.

Even those lies from the police and prosecutors aside, it gets even better, much better. However, we first must travel down a short memory lane, courtesy of our friends at the Grey Lady, who always are outraged, OUTRAGED at the mere accusation of sexual assault or sexual harassment. Let us look at the various statements coming from the DA's office right after the arrest (this is significant because of what the NYT NOW is claiming about Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, Jr., and his underlings):
Artie McConnell, assistant district attorney, at Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s arraignment in Criminal Court on May 16:

“The victim provided very powerful details consistent with violent sexual assault committed by the defendant, which establishes all the necessary elements of the crime he is charged with.”

“She made outcries to multiple witnesses immediately after the incident, both to hotel staff and law enforcement. She was then taken to the hospital and was given a full sexual assault forensic examination. The observations and findings during that exam corroborate her accounts.”

Mr. McConnell at a bail hearing on May 19:

“The complainant in this case has offered a compelling and unwavering story about what occurred in the defendant’s room. She made immediate outcries to multiple witnesses, both to hotel staff and to police.”

“The victim was given a complete and expert forensic examination and the findings from that examination are consistent with her account. The Crime Scene Unit processed the hotel room and the scene, and while those scientific tests have not been completed, the preliminary indications are that forensic evidence that supports the victim’s version of events may be found.”
Of course, what sexual assault claim would be complete without the editorial page angst that came from the opinion folks at the NYT? Here is Maureen Dowd, who never seems to be without a stupid and poorly-informed opinion:
In the wake of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn scandal, as more Frenchwomen venture sexual harassment charges against elite men, the capital of seduction is reeling at the abrupt shift from can-can to can’t-can’t. Le Canard Enchaîné, a satirical weekly, still argues that “News always stops at the bedroom door,” but many French seem ready to bid adieu to the maxim.

As Libération editor Nicolas Demorand wrote in an editorial: “Now that voices have been freed, and the ceiling of glass and shame has been bashed in, other scandals may now arise.”

After long scorning American Puritanism and political correctness on gender issues, the French are shocked to find themselves in a very American debate about the male exploitation/seduction of women, and the nature of consent.
Just as the NYT immediately jumped to the conclusion that Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and David Evans had raped Crystal Mangum, writers at the paper quickly assumed that the Strauss-Kahn accuser was telling the unvarnished truth. The letters that the paper saw fit to publish were full of the rush to judgment. This piece by Linda Martin Alcoff, a philosophy professor in New York, was pretty typical of the mindset of the NYT crowd.

In other words, it was assume guilt first and always believe the prosecutors, especially when they are prominent Democrats like Vance who have political ambitions. But, as in the Duke case, truth has carved a bit of a wedge in the NYT's narrative:
The sexual assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn is on the verge of collapse as investigators have uncovered major holes in the credibility of the housekeeper who charged that he attacked her in his Manhattan hotel suite in May, according to two well-placed law enforcement officials.

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

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

Senior prosecutors met with lawyers for Mr. Strauss-Kahn on Thursday and provided details about their findings, and the parties are discussing whether to dismiss the felony charges. Among the discoveries, one of the officials said, are issues involving the asylum application of the 32-year-old housekeeper, who is Guinean, and possible links to people involved in criminal activities, including drug dealing and money laundering.
I have no doubt that the story that police and prosecutors fed the media -- that this large, naked man jumped from the bathroom and forced this poor, African immigrant to give him oral sex -- is utterly false. First, keep in mind that she is from Guinea, and is a French speaker. Second, I suspect that the encounter not only was mutual, but she planned it in advance, and most likely with some of the people with whom she is associated.

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

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

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

In addition, one of the officials said, she told investigators that her application for asylum included mention of a previous rape, but there was no such account in the application. She also told them that she had been subjected to genital mutilation, but her account to the investigators differed from what was contained in the asylum application.
I smell a setup from the beginning, one that even a semi-competent investigator would have found. However, given that the original investigation was done by the New York police and the DA's office, competency really is not in the job description; however, being able to act in an ideological manner that fits with the mentality at the NYT IS part of the job.

Nonetheless, the NYT continues to protect Vance and his crew, declaring:
In recent weeks, Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers, Benjamin Brafman and William W. Taylor III, have made it clear that they would make the credibility of the woman a focus of their case. In a May 25 letter, they said they had uncovered information that would “gravely undermine the credibility” of the accuser.

Still, it was the prosecutor’s investigators who found the information about the woman. (Emphasis mine)
Right. It seems that no one at the NYT has managed to deal with what is obvious: If government investigators had found this damning evidence on their own, then why were Vance and company continuing to claim that the accuser was truthful and that they had a strong case? In other words, if their investigators found out these things, either one of two things happened, neither of which would reflect well on NY authorities.

The first would be that investigators told them what they had found, but Vance's charges continued to spout the same narrative, hoping that their rhetoric would overcome any problems. In other words, they knew the truth but lied.

The second would be that the investigators withheld information and gave it to their superiors only long after they had found out the truth, leaving Vance and the other prosecutors in the dark. This one makes no sense, which means that if what the NYT is saying is true, then Vance and those prosecutors involved with the case should be disbarred at the very least for knowingly making false statements in a very high-profile case.

There is a third possibility, and that is that the private investigators for the Strauss-Kahn defense did their own work and presented the facts to the Manhattan DA and warned them that if they did not act, the defense would make sure that the material would be leaked in a very unceremonious way. Any way one slices this material, however, it is clear that Vance and his employees have a lot of explaining to do.

Don't expect the mainstream media to ask those questions. Vance and the editorial staff at the NYT are joined at the ideological and political hip and the paper will do everything it can do to protect him. Likewise, the fact that Strauss-Kahn over the years has had the reputation of acting as, well, one might expect from someone who is known to be sexually-boorish, I doubt that too many mainstream reporters are going to invite the rage of the Maureen Dowds.

Nonetheless, we see yet another example of the Government-Media Alliance making false accusations, bringing false charges, and then ending up with egg on some collective faces. This is not the last time we will see this sorry scenario, and I only can feel for the next person who is caught in the crosshairs.