Thursday, March 31, 2011

What if you are falsely accused? Part I: What NOT to do

None of us believe that we ever will be falsely accused of a sex crime. After all, we have been brought up to believe that the USA has the best "justice" system in the world, and that police and prosecutors are honest people who never would try to frame an innocent person.

Unfortunately, that is not the case anymore. Police gladly will frame innocent people and prosecutors are all-too-happy to put innocent people on trial or force them to plead out to crimes they didn't commit because they cannot afford to defend themselves. THAT is the reality of law in the USA.

Most likely, the person reading this won't ever be charged in a sexual assault/child molestation case, as prosecutors cannot charge everyone. If you are falsely accused, however, there are a number of things that you should do -- and not do. I will deal with those things in this post.

After you get over the first wave of shock and anger of being falsely accused, you probably just are confused and want this nightmare to go away. You have to understand, however, that the police and the local prosecutors really are not interested in whether or not you actually did the things of which you are accused. That's right; they are not interested. They already have decided you are guilty, and their mission is to spin everything that they find into a way to get you thrown into prison for the rest of your life.

It does not matter if the accusations are a lie. Cops and prosecutors lie all the time and the honest people in that business often are intimidated and threatened by the bad guys. You are going to be dealing with people who don't care if you are innocent or guilty; they already have decided you are guilty, and they don't like to be confused with facts.

So, let us assume that you are accused. What do you do. What do you NOT do?

Don't Talk to the Police

The first thing that you DO NOT do is talk to the police without an attorney present. If you wish to have an expert tell you why, just watch this video by a law school professor telling people NOT to talk to the police.

Yes, you reply, but the police will listen. They will hear your story and then they will realize that the charges are ridiculous and the whole thing will go away. Right.

It is not going to happen. If you sit down with the police, they are not going to try to find out what occurred; no, they are going to try to find a way to twist your statements into an admission of guilt. No matter how much they tell you that they only are trying to help, it is a lie.

As Tonya Craft has told me more than once, charges of child molestation and rape are very different than, say, charges that you robbed a convenience store. Regarding the latter, you can present evidence that you were not there or that the eyewitness has engaged in mistaken identity. (Granted, cops try to find ways to work around alibis in these kinds of cases, too, but if you can prove you were not there, you have a strong case for innocence.)

In charges of child molestation or rape, however, alibis simply don't matter. For example, "judge" brian outhouse actually claimed in court that prosecutors had demonstrated that Tonya Craft molested the daughter of Sandra Lamb at her home -- before she even bought the home and moved into it. Logically, there was no way that Ms. Craft could have been at that place when prosecutors said she was (and entered no evidence at all to show she had been there before she bought the house), but it did not matter.

Why? House and the prosecutors already were of the mindset that they were going to rig a conviction, and had no interest in evidence. That is common in such cases. We have seen it not only in the Craft case, but also all of the other cases covered on this blog, including the one against Michael Rasmussen.

Look what happened when Rasmussen agreed to talk to detectives Young Austin and Kim Selkirk. They wrote down a bunch of notes and claimed that he had "confessed" to everything they had claimed. Given that Selkirk and Austin did not record this supposed momentous "confession" and given that Selkirk's notes conflicted with the state's own "evidence," it is not hard to conclude that Austin and Selkirk are lying.

A friend of mine who was a police officer in Florida for many years told me that all too often, cops reach conclusions first and then try to find "evidence" that fits their theories. A good investigator, he told me, tries to let the evidence lead to a conclusion, not the other way around.

Yet, cops also are under pressure to charge people, to close cases, and to help prosecutors get convictions. The "win at all costs" combined with the fact that the ONLY "evidence" needed in many rape and child molestation cases is an accusation. For example, it was painfully clear in the Duke Lacrosse Case that (1) Crystal Mangum was not raped, and (2) that the three lacrosse players could not have been the "rapists," anyway.

Yet, the charges stayed live for a year even though they had thoroughly been debunked by the attorneys and by outside experts who saw the "evidence" for what it was: a sham. But because of political considerations and because of the feminist ideologies driving the charges, the case very well could have gone to trial and there very well could have been a conviction.

It is very rare in these kinds of cases that police and prosecutors will look at evidence that does not fit a profile that says you are guilty. That is just the way it is. Don't talk to the police; they only will use your words against you.

Don't Assume the People in the System will be Fair

Americans like to believe that this is a country where fairness and justice reign. That is nonsense, but most people don't discover just how bad things are until they are charged with something they did not do. The American courts will go overboard to convict the innocent, and once there is a conviction, it is almost impossible to have it overturned, as the courts love "finality."

As I noted in a previous post, the immunity that government players have in the justice system also provides perverse incentives for them to lie. After all, prosecutors don't get raises and promotions for "seeking justice." They get raises and promotions for winning.

Chris Arnt believed that he could ride a conviction against Tonya Craft to much higher political office. Despite the fact that he lied in court, suborned perjury, and broke the law with impunity, he still is employed as a prosecutor, going after other people who allegedly have broken the law.

In other words, Arnt paid no legal price for his actions. Whether or not he ever can be elected to public office after his show of dishonesty depends upon how much garbage voters in North Georgia are willing to swallow.

Even though the police will accuse you of "not cooperating," you MUST invoke your Constitutional rights at this point. Trust me when I tell you that neither police nor prosecutors care about your rights and will violate them with impunity if they think they can get away with it.

You have to be responsible to protect yourself, and that means invoking your rights. Don't talk to the police, period.

In Part II, I will write about choosing an attorney. In Part III, I will point out resources you can use to help defend yourself.

NOTE: Good news from North Carolina. A federal judge has ruled that the lawsuits filed by various Duke lacrosse players against Duke University, Durham, and Mike Nifong can proceed. If Duke and Durham lose on appeal, I suspect that the defendants will settle quickly with the plaintiffs.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How far should prosecutorial immunity go? Apprently, SCOTUS believes into infinity. Or, Liability for Thee, but not for Me!

Because this blog deals with prosecutorial misconduct, the issue of immunity is front-and-center. Years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruled that judges and prosecutors have absolute immunity from civil action, which means that for the most part, they are not liable for pursuing wrongful convictions.

Because the various state bars are very, very reluctant to discipline prosecutors, the typical prosecutor knows he or she pretty much is invulnerable. Yes, they can be criminally prosecuted, but no prosecutor in the history of this country ever has been convicted of criminal malfeasance for conduct in the "line of duty," even though it has been obvious that at least in some cases, the criminal behavior was deliberate and cold. Thus, armed with that knowledge, a prosecutor knows that he or she does not operate with the same set of personal restrictions that hold back the worst behavior in other occupations.

The SCOTUS ruled in the Imbler v. Pachtman case (1976) that district attorneys or prosecutors were found to have full immunity from civil suits resulting from their government duties. Unlike the qualified immunity that was given to many public officials, the justices reasoned that while a wrongly-charged defendant would not be able to seek legal satisfaction against a prosecutor who engaged in outrageous conduct, nonetheless the immunity would better fit a broad "social good" as the court saw it.

Obviously, the court opened a huge can of worms, as it basically said that as long as a prosecutor can claim he or she was doing something within the scope of prosecutorial duties, then that person cannot be sued, even if he or she deliberately withheld evidence. Furthermore, the SCOTUS declared that
alternative sanctions to civil lawsuits against prosecutors were available to deter a prosecutor’s malicious and dishonest behavior. Indeed, the availability of bringing criminal charges against a prosecutor, as well as the availability of professional discipline by bar associations, would “not leave the public powerless.” “These checks,” said the Court, “undermine the argument that the imposition of civil liability is the only way to insure that prosecutors are mindful of the constitutional rights of persons accused of crime.”
People who saw that decision as overreaching had some hope in a case Pottawattamie County v. McGhee in which prosecutors clearly framed innocent people for a murder. In fact, prosecutors claimed in their defense the following outrageous statement: there is no constitutional "right not to be framed.” That's right; prosecutors were claiming that even if they framed someone, that was OK, as the Constitution does not forbid it.

Unfortunately, the case was settled before the Supremes could rule on it. However, they gave what I hold to be a partial answer in Connick v. Thompson, declaring that the DA's office of New Orleans Parish could not be held liable for failure of its prosecutors to turn over exculpatory evidence. In other words, the SCOTUS ruled that violation of the Brady Rule inferred no particular responsibility upon the people who were responsible for violating it.

Keep in mind that most readers of this post are not prosecutors, nor are public officials. That means that the laws regarding liability are imposed differently upon them than upon those who are sworn to uphold the law and who hold special powers in bringing people to trial. The people with greater responsibility have less liability than everyone else.

If that seems to be an outrage, that is because it IS an outrage. What SCOTUS has done once again is to declare that prosecutors are a special class of people who, de facto, do not have to obey the law. And, guess what? There are lots of prosecutors who take advantage of that privilege and, surprise, surprise, violate the law with impunity.

The Rule of Law is supposed to mean just that: rule of law. A nation that has Rule of People Who Do Whatever They Want cannot survive as a decent society.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The False Accusation Industry and Why I Write about It

For the most part, this blog deals with individuals who have been falsely accused of sex crimes. Its genesis comes long before blogging even existed, with the starting point being a PBS Frontline broadcast of the the Little Rascals case in North Carolina.

As I watched the series, I realized that there was no way -- no way -- that the charges could be true, yet so many people seemed inclined to believe them. People went to prison only to have convictions overturned; lives were ruined, and it became obvious that if the authorities wanted to convict someone on the basis of, frankly, coached testimony from children, it was not difficult to do so.

For whatever reasons, I came to see these kinds of cases as a symbol of what American "justice" was becoming, and as more and more cases, like that in Wenatchee, came about, I realized that when it comes to these kinds of accusations, the authorities seem to lose all sanity and the ability to reason. Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal picked up on the subject and wrote a number of columns and editorials excoriating police, prosecutors, and judges for going along with the scam, winning a Pulitzer Prize and writing an excellent book, No Crueler Tyrannies.

At the time, I had no forum to stand up for people falsely accused, but my opportunity finally came when Lew Rockwell gave me near carte blanche on his blog in the infamous Duke Lacrosse Case of 2006-07. In response, over the next year, I would write nearly 70 articles on his blog about the case, the lies being told by prosecutor Mike Nifong, and the misconduct of the Duke University faculty and administration.

The Duke case was a watershed for me, as I came to understand that the Progressive institutions in this country are built and primed for false accusations in sexually-charged situations. The problem, as I came to see it, was not "overzealousness," "mistaken identity," or even "insanity" or "misunderstandings."

No, the problem is systematic and it is built into the very laws passed supposedly to protect "victims" of these crimes. The formula for tyranny came about innocuously and innocently enough; Congress passed laws to aid local law enforcement in order to stop sexual crimes against children and women. The formula, whether it was contained in the Mondale Act of 1974 (and subsequent such acts) or the Violence Against Women Act, went as such:
  • The nation faced a "crisis," whether it was children being abused or women being the victims of rape and other violence;
  • The federal government would provide financial and other assistance to state and local governments in exchange for those entities aggressively pursuing those kinds of charges.
In order to successfully prosecute such cases, however, the feds also made states change the rules of evidence to make the job easier for prosecutors. For example, if a woman claims to any "first responder" that she has been raped or sexually assaulted, by law she MUST have a medical "rape" exam by a qualified medical professional and have a forensic interview. In other words, the authorities are to assume that the original accusation is true, no matter how off base it might seem.

The same is true regarding any claim of child molestation, "inappropriate" touching, or anything of the sort, and the charges MUST be investigated as though they were true. Furthermore, in the case of children, the various federally-created (and often funded) agencies like Child Protective Services and the Children's Advocacy Center become involved in the investigations and the interviews with children.

One easily can spot the bias for assuming guilt in such situations. In the Duke Case, Tara Levicy, a hardcore feminist who was seeking her certification to be a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE), was involved in the investigation and ultimately fabricated material and lied to the police in an attempt to frame the three defendants. It is clear that Levicy was not interested in the facts, but rather promoting her "women never lie about rape" ideology that is common among many (but certainly not all) feminists.

In Tonya Craft's case, we saw not only just how the Children's Advocacy Center "interviewers" acted unprofessionally while testifying (giggling, shrugging their shoulders, rolling their eyes, and sighing out loud). Even a cursory look at the transcripts of their interviews with the child accusers demonstrates just how they broke every rule of forensic interviewing, yet were treated by the court as "experts" in investigating "child molestation."

Combined with the federal money that comes to states and localities for pursuing such accusations, as well as the built-in bias that comes into the way the authorities are to pursue such cases, it is no wonder that people are easily railroaded into prison even if they are innocent.

There are other factors at work, too. First, defending oneself is an expensive proposition, and very few people have six figures of spare change needed to have the kind of legal representation that will effectively deal with false allegations. Second, the authorities are spending other people's money and have nothing of their own at stake, which means that the odds are against the person falsely accused.

Third, the media often jumps on the "Guilty!" bandwagon early. There is the use of the mug shot, which exists ONLY to make someone look guilty. Second, because media sources usually are concentrated in the government sector, prosecutors and police are first in line to undermine the defendant's case, and most reporters (but not all) gladly go along with the scam.

To me, this not only is wrong, but it is immoral and has no place in a free society. (Of course, ours no longer is a "free society," but we like to pretend that it is.) People who are falsely accused -- and it is not difficult to see that many of those charged with the "crimes" I have mentioned -- are demonized unfairly in the media and have a huge battle to fight just to win their freedom. I believe that fighting for the rights of the accused is a battle worth fighting, especially since the so-called gatekeepers of our rights -- the news media -- for the most part have decided that helping to deny the rights of the accused is more fun and more profitable.

In future posts, I will cover things one should do if falsely accused, and I will write on things that one might do in order to avoid false accusations, at least in some circumstances.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

No moral hazard here! Not at all! Carol Chambers (again)

One of the reasons that the Law of Unintended Consequences rears its head time and again is because people in authority often institute new policies or changes in existing policies that contain perverse incentives that entice people to act in a way that is contrary to what the authorities supposedly intended. In economics, we call such situations, "moral hazard."

As I have written before, American prosecutors, both state and federal, generally face no consequences for illegal, immoral, and unethical behavior, and this situation tends to create two effects:
  • Prosecutors are more likely to employ a "win at all costs" strategy, including knowingly prosecuting innocent people, because there are rewards for winning, while there are no negative consequences if the prosecutor is caught;
  • There will be a "Gresham's Law" effect over time in which the dishonest and unethical prosecutors will "drive out" the honest people, so that prosecutors will tend to be bad or incompetent lawyers who could not make it on the outside, but who enjoy bullying and getting away with wrongdoing.
For all of the ballyhoo about Michael Nifong being disbarred over his nefarious role in the Duke Lacrosse Case, he was a notable exception even though his conduct was not unusual in prosecutorial circles. Nifong's error was giving 70 interviews in which he clearly made up things as he went along, driving the publicity of the case in apparent hopes that the public outrage against the Duke players would be so great that there would be no possibility that any of them could receive a fair trial and, thus, would plead out or be convicted in a kangaroo court trial in Durham, North Carolina, one of the most left-wing cities in the country, and where guilt automatically was assumed because of the racial aspects of the case.

His strategy almost worked, but the North Carolina State Bar intervened during the case, something that almost never happens. Nifong had to remove himself from the case and after North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper led a real investigation (as opposed to the dishonest "sham" investigation conducted by Nifong and the Durham Police Department), the charges were dismissed and Cooper declared that the players were "innocent."

In an interview with The Atlantic, Radley Balko pointedly noted that Nifong's fate was an exception and a huge exception to the rule. The usual occurrence, even when prosecutors clearly have lied and engaged in illegal conduct, is for nothing to happen. The Tonya Craft case is proof that dishonesty pays, even when the defendant is acquitted, as none of the wrongdoers faced any punishment, despite the fact that the judge (if we can call brian outhouse a "judge"), the prosecutors, and the police literally conspired to fabricate a document DURING the trial that they hoped would fill a huge hole in the case. That is outright criminal conspiracy, and a representative of the Georgia State Bar told me that she was fine with it, so we can see that the Georgia authorities have no interest at all in reining in criminal behavior on behalf of Georgia prosecutors.

Carol Chambers

This brings me to the latest revelation from the office of Colorado's most unethical prosecutor, Carol Chambers. If ever there were a "win at all costs" prosecutor, it is Chambers, who has set up a bonus schedule in her office that reeks of moral hazard.

The Denver Post reports:
Eighteenth Judicial District Attorney Carol Chambers has created an unusual incentive for her felony prosecutors, paying them bonuses if they achieve a predetermined standard for conviction rates at trial.

The threshold for an assistant district attorney to earn the average $1,100 reward: Participate in at least five trials during the year, with 70 percent of them ending in a felony conviction. Plea bargains or mistrials don't count.
Granted, the bonus money is not that much, which tells me that her office is full of people who have spent six figures in pursuit of a law degree but then earn the pay of a manager at a fast-food restaurant. In other words, most of them probably are sub-standard lawyers who are likely to manipulate the system for their own benefit. They win cases not because of their legal talents, but rather because the rules are overwhelmingly stacked in their favor.

While it is true that the conviction rate in Chambers' district is comparable to what it is elsewhere in Colorado, nonetheless the perverse incentives are there and Chambers seems to be encouraging unethical behavior. What else can explain her decision to charge a 10-year-old with felony arson in a situation that openly and clearly did not warrant such charges?

(To find other examples of prosecutorial misconduct from Chambers, this blog has more information. To quote a jury foreman in one of Chambers' cases, this one ending in acquittal:
“In the DA’s office’s agenda to prosecute so overzealously, it seems that the facts of a case aren’t really an objective,” says Chris Cashbaugh, foreman of the jury that cleared Ruth Tsehaye at trial.
There is much more from Chambers' record that demonstrates to me that she is an out-of-control prosecutor, someone who is fundamentally dishonest, but who gives a "law-and-order" front to the conservative Republicans in her district.)

As for paying prosecutors for winning convictions, Chambers creates the worst kind of moral hazard. On the one side, even if her prosecutors are caught lying and breaking the law, they face no penalties because no one will discipline them. On the other side, if they win, they get money.

There is a reason that Radley Balko nominated Chambers for the "Worst Prosecutor of 2010" in his blog. Yet, the real problem is that Chambers never has to pay a price for her dishonesty and abuse of the law and of innocent people.

If authorities in the USA were willing to do their jobs and to enforce the laws of the land as they claim to be doing, this blog would not exist, or it would cover other subjects. Instead, because prosecutors are permitted to be lawbreakers, someone has to speak out, and that is what I am doing.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Catching Up on Work

My apologies for not posting so far this week. I'm catching up on a lot of work that was neglected during my two trips, and will post after I have completed some grading and lesson preparation.

Friday, March 18, 2011

My Appearance on Judge Napolitano's Show Thursday

Here is the link to my appearance on Judge Andrew Napolitano's "Freedom Watch" show last night. My thanks to the makeup team at Fox Business News! I'm not sure exactly where I appear, but I really am on there!

I have added a link that has just my appearance.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Still On the Road

Sorry I have not posted anything this week. I'm on the road again Monday, as Habtamu and I will travel from my parents' place here in Chattanooga and drive home. On Tuesday afternoon, I drive to New York City for another conference.

Yes, I'm tired.

I will be doing a post soon on a prosecutor who did the right thing, and for whom the adage "No good deed goes unpunished" was certainly true.

Monday, March 7, 2011

On the Road This Week

I am attending a conference in Auburn, Alabama, this week, the Austrian Scholars Conference at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, so my posting will be a bit more sporadic. (Actually, I am trying to finish a paper I will present on Saturday, which is why I am going to be in hibernation at the beginning of the week.)

However, I will get back to posting as soon as I can.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Abusing Michael Rasmussen: His Treatment in Charles County

As was already noted, Michael Rasmussen's trial in the alleged (and I mean alleged) sexual molestation of his adult daughter Apryl was postponed until May 16. However, that was not the real story in court on Monday. No, the real story was the unmistakable fact that the Charles County prosecution is pulling out all stops and committing what clearly are human rights violations against Mr. Rasmussen.

Folks, it is getting ugly, really ugly, and it is time that someone publicly exposed this evil on behalf of prosecutor Tiffany L. Rodenberger, for it now is absolutely clear that she intends to win at all costs and stop at nothing. She may not have any evidence, but she is going to try to win by other crooked means.

Charles County held Mr. Rasmussen in solitary confinement for the past week. During that time, he was not permitted to shower, he was forced to wear ALL of the same clothing, including his orange jumpsuit and underwear, he was not permitted to shave or have his haircut. Nor was he permitted to have any visitors. That was bad enough, but what Rodenberger did next is even worse.

Monday was supposed to be the day when they chose the jury, so Rodenberger had the guards drag Mr. Rasmussen INTO THE COURTROOM in the condition I described above, jumpsuit and all. During that week, his wife, Becky, was not permitted to bring him clean clothes during his incarceration in the Charles County lockup, and think about how anyone would look after spending a week in solitary without even a chance to wash up.

As one might expect, Mr. Rasmussen looked just awful, and that was Rodenberger's intention. (Becky brought clean clothes to the courtroom, but the prosecution would not permit Mr. Rasmussen to put them on.) She wanted the jury to see a smelly, dirty, unkempt man who was in near-shock after a week of this maltreatment so the jurors immediately would picture him as a filthy and guilty man.

This was and is an outrage. Fortunately, because the trial was postponed, Mr. Rasmussen did not have to face a jury in that awful condition, but at least we know now beyond a doubt that Tiffany Rodenberger has no conscience at all.

There is much more that this case holds in store, and as I noted earlier, the more I find out, the angrier I become. Like the Tonya Craft case that fell apart as the prosecution paraded one liar after another in front of the jury, apparently clueless as to what was happening, this one clearly is contrived on behalf of police and prosecutors who long ago abandoned the truth.

Well, in this trial, we have another prosecutor who apparently channels both Chris Arnt and Len Gregor, and the one saving grace is that the trial judge is not the Second Coming of "judge" brian outhouse. It is my fervent hope that she will not permit the shenanigans that Rodenberger is going to try to pull.

Here is the problem. In order to present her case in front of a judge and jury, Rodenberger is going to have to depend upon testimony that almost surely will contain perjury. As Kerywn has noted in an earlier comment, there a huge holes in the prosecution's case, and Rodenberger knows it.

Thus, as I see it, the only way she can present this case will be to suborn perjury, and that still is a crime in Maryland. (Not that anyone in authority really cares, and prosecutors in Maryland run wild as they do in every other state.) The testimony from Apryl is not going to match what she had claimed in earlier forensic interviews, and one only can imagine what Kim Selkirk and Det. Young Austin are going to say under oath.

Rodenberger is not exactly the Second Coming of Leon Jaworski, but I guarantee you she can recognize the difference between truthful and dishonest testimony. She also is aware of the weakness of her case.

Therefore, she resorts to one of the slimiest things I ever have seen a prosecutor do in a courtroom: physically abuse a prisoner and then have him dragged into court all disheveled and dirty just to prejudice the jurors. There could have been no other reason to mistreat another human being in this way.

Note: Mr. Rasmussen is back at the Prince Georges County lockup, has his own cell, is now permitted to shower, and has clean clothes, and can have visitors.

By the way, the PG County charges are even more ludicrous and dishonest than what we see in Charles County. I intend to do my best to expose this human rights abuse that is taking place in Maryland, and that means debunking this one accuser at a time.