Jan 092014
 

Lately, I’ve gotten a slew of hits to this video from Philosophy in Action: Should a man unwilling to be a father have to pay child support? It’s now gotten nearly 5,000 views. Nice!

That’s awesome. Alas, awesome often comes paired with crazy, such as this comment:

Let’s think about this bit — “If a woman steals a mans seed without his consent, does she have a right to live?” — for a moment.

First, I’m pretty sure that a man voluntarily gives his “seed” to a woman in having sex with her. That’s rather the point, in fact.

Second, are we talking death penalty?!? Um, wow.

Finally, here’s a pro-tip: Don’t ever suggest up-front that your audience might think you a sociopath after reading your opinion. It might just prejudice them against you… just a bit.

Doctors and the Police State

 Posted by on 20 December 2013 at 10:00 am  Alcohol/Drugs, Crime, Drug War, Government, Law
Dec 202013
 

This story — Drug Warriors Kidnap and Sexually Assault a Woman After Getting Permission From a Dog — is appalling in its own right:

In a case eerily similar to David Eckert’s humiliating ordeal at the hands of cops in Deming, New Mexico, a federal lawsuit charges U.S. Border Patrol agents with subjecting a U.S. citizen to six hours of degrading and fruitless body cavity searches based on an alleged alert by a drug-sniffing dog.

However, what’s really noteworthy, I think, is the complicity of the doctors and medical staff:

First the agents strip-searched the plaintiff, examining her anus and vagina with a flashlight. Finding nothing, they took her to the University Medical Center of El Paso, where they forced her to take a laxative and produce a bowel movement in their presence. Again they found no evidence of contraband. At this point one of their accomplices, a physician named Christopher Cabanillas, ordered an X-ray, which likewise found nothing suspicious. Then the plaintiff “endured a forced gynecological exam” and rectal probing at the hands of another doctor, Michael Parsa. Still nothing. Finally, Cabanillas ordered a CT scan of the plaintiff’s abdomen and pelvis, which found no sign of illegal drugs. “After the CT scan,” the complaint says, “a CBP [Customs and Border Patrol] agent presented Ms. Doe with a choice: she could either sign a medical consent form, despite the fact that she had not consented, in which case CBP would pay for the cost of the searches; or if she refused to sign the consent form, she would be billed for the cost of the searches.” She refused, and later the hospital sent her a bill for $5,000, apparently the going rate for sexual assault and gratuitous radiological bombardment.

As the article says, this case “illustrates the appalling complicity of doctors in waging the war on drugs, even when it involves utterly unethical participation in dehumanizing pseudomedical procedures performed on involuntary and audibly protesting ‘patients.’”

In my view, civil damages are an insufficient remedy in such cases. Assuming that the doctors and staff knew that the woman did not consent to these warrantless searches, then they are guilty of the crime of sexual assault. They should be arrested and prosecuted for that. Perhaps then doctors would think twice before passively doing whatever government agents demand.

Alas, that seems unlikely. Hopefully, some justice will be served by this civil suit.

Kant’s Philosophy Inspires Crime Spree!

 Posted by on 25 September 2013 at 1:40 pm  Crime, Funny, Kant
Sep 252013
 

Okay, maybe my title is a bit over-the-top… but still, wow: Russian shot in quarrel over Kant’s philosophy:

An argument in southern Russia over philosopher Immanuel Kant, the author of “Critique of Pure Reason,” devolved into pure mayhem when one debater shot the other.

A police spokeswoman in Rostov-on Don, Viktoria Safarova, said two men in their 20s were discussing Kant as they stood in line to buy beer at a small store on Sunday. The discussion deteriorated into a fistfight and one participant pulled out a small nonlethal pistol and fired repeatedly.

The victim was hospitalized with injuries that were not life-threatening. Neither person was identified.

It was not clear which of Kant’s ideas may have triggered the violence.

Again, wow.

Aug 272013
 

Crazy! On August 7th, I interviewed Tom Varik on the complications in the law on gay marriage and spousal privilege… And now it’s in the news! In a capital murder case! How’s that for timely!

Gay couple seeks spousal privilege protection in Kentucky murder trial:

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) – A legal debate over whether one member of a same-sex couple has spousal privilege that would shield her from testifying against her partner is at the heart of a capital murder case in politically conservative Kentucky.

Geneva Case, 49, does not want to testify in a Louisville court against her partner, Bobbie Jo Clary, 37, who is accused of beating George Murphy, 64, to death with a hammer in 2011 and then stealing his van. Prosecutors say Case must testify because of her value as a witness, since she heard Clary admit to the slaying and also saw blood on the interior of the victim’s van after the killing.

Clary says Murphy used a hammer to sexually assault her, and she defended herself by hitting him over the head. Clary is also charged with tampering with evidence to cover up the crime. If convicted, Clary could face the death penalty.

Under Kentucky law, a person cannot be called to testify against his or her spouse. Most states have a similar type of law. But Kentucky is not among the 13 states that have legalized gay marriage. In 2004, it amended the state constitution to define marriage as being a union between a man and a woman.

Susan Sommer, an attorney for Lambda Legal, a national legal organization for the protection of gay rights, said she was not familiar with the details of the Kentucky case, but Lambda believes gay couples should have the same legal protections as other married people.

“Spousal privilege is one part of the tremendous bundle of protections for a committed couple that come automatically with marriage,” Sommer said.

Case and Clary were joined in a civil union in 2004 in Vermont. Vermont first allowed civil unions in 2000, but did not legalize same-sex marriage until 2009.

“Kentucky’s marital privilege law does not give Ms. Case the right not to testify in a murder trial,” said Stacy Greive, assistant commonwealth attorney for Jefferson County. “And the reason marital privilege does not apply to Ms. Case in her relationship with the defendant is because it is our opinion and our belief that they do not have a marriage that is recognized under Kentucky law.”

Greive argues that not only is the union not recognized in Kentucky, but the couple has not presented proof they have a valid marriage under Vermont law. “They have a civil union, if you look at Vermont’s statutes, they distinguish between civil unions and marriage,” she said.

The article has more details. If you’ve not heard my interview with Tom Varik on “Gay Marriage and Spousal Privilege,” take a listen!

For more details, check out the episode’s archive page.

Best Crime Story of the Decade

 Posted by on 25 July 2013 at 2:00 pm  Crime, Funny, Love/Sex, Self-Defense
Jul 252013
 

This story just keeps getting better as you read: Man acquitted in romantic bear-spray squabble:

A San Francisco man was acquitted Thursday of breaking into his ex-fiancee’s house and assaulting her new lover before getting sprayed with bear mace by a shirtless neighbor. Jurors deliberated for just three hours before finding Christoper Hall, 31, innocent of the two felonies.

The “chaotic and confusing” night began on March 25 when Hall broke off his plans to marry his 34-year-old fiancee, said Deputy Public Defender Phoenix Streets. The two had met in a hacky-sack circle in early February and announced plans to marry just two weeks later, Streets said. But the relationship quickly turned tumultuous, Streets said, and the pair broke up on March 25.

Hall took his few possessions and moved out of his fiancee’s home and into a tree at Mclaren Park. But as Hall climbed the tree and attempted to sleep that first night, he became cold and returned home, Streets said. Hall’s former lover was not there, so Hall “curled up under a tarp under the woman’s backyard bushes,” Streets said.

Around 10 p.m., the woman, who had been at the movies with a “new male friend,” returned home. The man “happened to be a former U.S. Marine with extensive combat training,” Streets said. As the woman and her new friend talked in the kitchen, they heard noises outside and decided to investigate. The woman armed herself with a knife while the friend grabbed a frying pan, Streets said.

As the pair approached Hall, he looked up and began yelling and running after them, Streets said. “As the woman closed and locked the door in Hall’s face, his hand went through the window pane,” Streets said. Hall opened the door and grabbed the Marine, demanding to know who he was. The pair fell backward and scuffled for 90-seconds, Streets said. The Marine eventually put Hall in a headlock and encouraged him “to take deep breaths and relax,” Streets said.

During the fight, the woman fled and told a neighbor that Hall was going to kill the Marine, Streets said. The neighbor “ran out of his house shirtless and armed with an aerosol can of bear repellant,” Streets said. The group hauled Hall outside, and he kicked the door, prompting the neighbor to open the door and spray Hall in the face with bear mace, Streets said. Hall then picked up a rock and hurled it at the door before fleeing the scene, Streets said. He was arrested several hours later.

Streets said that jurors did not convict Hall because they did not find Hall’s ex-fiancee to be a credible witness. The Marine also suffered no apparent injuries, Streets said. “There was no doubt Mr. Hall had a terrible night, but this case was grossly overcharged,” Streets said. “You cannot commit a burglary if you have the right to be in a building. Mr. Hall had paid rent, made improvements to the house and still had some of his belongings inside.”

Hall was facing seven years in state prison for the felonies. He was found guilty of misdemeanor vandalism.

My favorite bit — and admittedly, it’s a hard choice — is when the guy moves out of his house and into a tree. Oh hippies, I love you so much.

Jul 192013
 

I’ve been wondering about the conviction of Marissa Alexander in Florida, as she got 20 years in what seemed from the headlines like a matter of self-defense. However, this article — No, Marissa Alexander’s Conviction Was Not a “Reverse Trayvon Martin” Case in Florida — strongly suggests that her actions were aggressive, not defensive.

It begins:

In the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal on second-degree murder and manslaughter charges, many media outlets have focused their attention on Marissa Alexander, an African-American woman in Florida who unsuccessfully asserted a so-called “Stand Your Ground” defense in 2011 and is now serving a prison sentence of 20 years on multiple accounts of aggravated assault with a firearm. Although those media outlets, and many local politicians like U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.), have suggested that Marissa Alexander got a raw deal compared to George Zimmerman, who was acquitted, the actual facts in the two cases bear little resemblance.

At first glance, the two cases share many superficial similarities. Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, claimed self-defense after fatally shooting a young African-American man who had punched him several times. After firing what she says was a warning shot near the head of her abusive husband, Alexander claimed she was only trying to protect herself from another attack. In both cases, controversial state prosecutor Angela Corey led the charge against the gun owners who claimed self defense. And in both cases, professional race hustlers rushed to television cameras to claim that race was a primary factor preventing justice from being served.

“Why did Marissa Alexander get a 20-year sentence despite invoking ‘Stand Your Ground’?” MSNBC asked shortly after the Zimmerman verdict of not guilty was announced..

“For Black People and Women, Very Little Ground Left to Stand On,” a Gawker headline blared on Sunday afternoon.

“When Marissa Alexander was charged with firing a gun in front of her allegedly abusive husband, she tried to use Florida’s Stand Your Ground law as a defense — just like George Zimmerman,” BuzzFeed wrote in 2012. “But for her it didn’t work. Now some are asking if her case is a ‘reverse Trayvon’ situation.”

A closer examination of the facts in Marissa Alexander’s case, however, reveals why a judge rejected Alexander’s pre-trial “Stand Your Ground” defense — a specific defense under Florida law that George Zimmerman never asserted — and why a jury eventually convicted her on multiple charges, resulting in a mandatory prison sentence of at least 20 years. If Alexander’s case suggests a failure of the legal system to mete out appropriate justice, then the problem lies with Florida’s mandatory minimum sentencing requirements, not with the state’s self-defense laws.

Here’s the critical bit of analysis:

First, although she had ample opportunity to exercise non-lethal options when she claimed to believe her life was at risk — exiting through the front door, back door, or garage — Alexander chose to remain in the home. She later claimed that the garage door was broken, eliminating her ability to leave when she initially entered the garage, but officers found no evidence to suggest that it was not working.

Second, Alexander’s claim that she fired only a warning shot, as opposed to firing at Gray and merely missing, also rings somewhat hollow. Her claim that she fired a warning shot, instead of a shot at center mass to stop the aggressor’s attack, suggests that she did not believe that deadly force was actually necessary.

Third, the fact that Alexander never called the police after the incident also suggests that she did not reasonably fear for her life. A victim of a near fatal attack would almost certainly alert authorities so that they might apprehend the attacker.

Fourth, the fact that Alexander voluntarily returned to Gray’s home repeatedly after the incident — against explicit court orders which Alexander promised to obey — also suggests that she may not have actually feared for her life when she fired at Gray.

Fifth, and finally, Alexander’s behavior before and after her arrest in December of 2010 — while she was still awaiting trial for the previous incident — also calls into question whether she actually believed the use of deadly force was necessary to defend herself from Gray in August of 2010. Alexander never called police (in both the August and December encounters, it was Gray or his children who contacted the police) and initially lied about even being present at Gray’s home.

Given Alexander’s behavior and interactions with Gray in the months following her initial arrest, it is not difficult to see why both a judge and a jury may have been skeptical of her claim that the use of deadly force was reasonable and that no other options were available.

Interested? Go read the whole article!

Stupid Criminal of the Week

 Posted by on 16 July 2013 at 10:00 am  Crime, Funny
Jul 162013
 

BWHAHAHAHA! Fugitive Matthew Oliver caught after commenting on his own wanted picture on Pasco Sheriff’s Office Facebook page:

A New Port Richey man who saw his wanted picture on a Pasco County Sheriff’s Office “Fugitive of the Day” Facebook post Wednesday morning decided to defend his innocence on the post through a series of comments.

Claiming he was in a hospital during a robbery in which he was named a suspect, Matthew Oliver’s anger was apparent based on his comments — which included he was set up by a “crack head” and blamed the sheriff’s office for “slandering his name.”

“Matthew Oliver if you would like to discuss your active warrant, please call the Fugitive Warrants Unit at 813-235-6064,” replied Pasco Fugitive Warrants a couple of hours later.

Instead of calling the sheriff’s office, Oliver continued to detail his alibi, writing he was “cut during an MMA fight, got MRSA” and was hospitalized for two months during the robbery in question.

You can go read his comments here. Really!

However… Matthew has some stiff competition for the prize of “stupid criminal of the week,” given this case: Fraud suspect pays for court-ordered fingerprints with stolen credit card.

I love stupid criminals.

The Plight of a Good Samaritan

 Posted by on 27 May 2013 at 2:00 pm  Benevolence, Crime
May 272013
 

This story is just amazing: Good Samaritan faces fines for stolen car.

Basically, a good samaritan stopped to help a man from his just-wrecked car. That man then told the good samaritan that his kids were in the back — and by the time the good samaritan realized that was a lie, the just-rescued man stole the good samaritan’s car!

To add insult to injury, the thief has been racking up parking tickets, and the City of Denver was demanding that the good samaritan pay those fines, because his report on the vehicle theft was lost. That looks to be sorted now, thanks to some help from 9News.

What an awful mess for a good guy — Jesus Rivera — who was just trying to be helpful to a fellow human being in distress!

Thankfully, that’s not how benevolence usually works out… and that’s why Mr. Rivera says that he’d stop again to help someone from an accident.

Hero Gives Damn Funny Interview

 Posted by on 13 May 2013 at 2:00 pm  Crime, Funny
May 132013
 

Charles Ramsey Rescues Three Women, Gives Greatest Interview in the History of Television:

He’s colorful throughout, but the end put me in stitches! (Of course, I’m so mostly glad that those three women were able to escape that monster. More details about the horrifying case are here.)

The Lone Juror

 Posted by on 22 April 2013 at 10:00 am  Crime, Law, Racism
Apr 222013
 

This is an amazing story of a lone juror who refused to convict a black man of rape based on flimsy evidence, despite pressure by the prosecutor. The actual rapist confessed to the crime a few months later. (I’ve left the spelling and grammatical errors as is.)

In 1994 I was called to be a jury in a rape case. A black man had supposedly attacked a young woman in a park, and raped her. He was apprehended by the police only hours later and faced up to 30 years in jail (including aggravated assault). I received the letter one morning and immediately was angry at it as it would waste much of my time in the coming months. However, I have a strong sense of honor, and felt it was my duty.

The interview was kind of weird. After the first questions by the judge, both parties went to ask questions about me and my opinions. First, the defendant had a public defendant who asked me almost no questions (for those not familiar with the law, with a jury trial, both parties select jury members according to strict rules). The prosecutor was very direct and, in my mind, completely unethical. He asked me some VERY direct questions. It went something like this:

PROSECUTION: Hello sir Glad to see you here. In your mind, do you think the defendant is guilty or not? ME: Uhhhh… I don’t know, I didn’t hear all the case details… PROSECUTION: Yes, but considering he was arrested by the police and they have a whole file on him… ME: I will wait to see the whole file on him.

At this point, I understood something. If I acted like I was racist, surely would they dismiss me from being part of the jury!! I thought about it for a second, thought about the month of underpaid work I’d saved, and decided it was worth a shot.

PROSECUTION: Consider the defendant. Do you think his ‘situation’ make him more likely to commit this crime? ME: Huhh… I don’t know… PROSECUTION: A poor woman was viciously attacked, beat and raped. I think we can both agree it was a horrible crime? ME: Yes, absolutely. PROSECUTION: She described the man exactly as he is standing there. He was arrested and interrogated by the police. Do you agree this man might have committed this crime? ME: Yes, I do. PROSECUTION: What is your view on black people? ME(lies): Not particularly dislike them, but not particularly like them. PROSECUTION: Explain? ME(lies): They are human and they have a right to live, but I don’t see them exactly like us.

The prosecution party seemed satisfied of the answers. Keep in mind this was in front of the judge and at this point I was 100% sure I would be dismissed, with a “RACIST” tag over my head forever.

Not at all.

I was informed a bit later, to my great surprise, that I would be part of the jury. If I could describe the case in one word, it would be: “long”. It was terribly long. Hours and hours passed, hours became days and days became weeks. Then, each parties had its final hearing. To my surprise, the public defendant was doing a very decent job in front of the prosecution party.

Then, we went inside, all 12 of us, to discuss.

I had made my mind close to the end of the trial. He was not guilty. There was definitely not enough evidence to convict him. The woman had given (a really tearful) testimony but admitted she couldn’t identify him. The police, after a few questions, had to admit they had no prior file of this man. An expert psychiatrist, hired by the defense, said the man was “happily married with childrens and unlikely to commit that kind of crime. But what really helped me make my mind was when the police admitted they had no DNA evidence at all (which was kind of new at the time). However, the police had a signed confession (which I supposed coerced) and the women had identified a mark the defendant had on the bottom of the neck. Also, he had no alibis and was, to his admission, “walking around at the time”. Finally, a witness supposedly saw a man running away with the same clothes as the defendant.

The jury hearing looked like it would last less than an hour. By the 45-minutes mark, most jury member had made their minds: he was guilty. By the 1h15 mark, all jury members decided he was guilty.

Except for me.

I still wasn’t convinced. I told them I would say he was not guilty. Everyone sighed. “For christ-sake this is the 5th time we vote, I think it’s time we decide already”. We kept talking, and one jury member even got mad: “ARE YOU SAYING THE 11 OF US ARE WRONG? Look at us, there are women and men alike here. This guy IS guilty.” One even told me I was a “nigger-defendant” which made me doubt of the composition of the jury.

The day ended and we all went home.

I spent the night without sleeping. In the morning, I was even more sure: he was not guilty. And then came the second day, long as hell. A fat man became seriously mad and asked to get out (which he couldn’t). I could feel, at the end of the day, that they were all mad at me.

Then came the third day and the 1235235th vote. Again, we failed to reach consensus. They all guessed who voted not guilty. Then, one man flipped out.

MAN: Look out son. I don’t know what your freaking problem is… We have his confession. The woman identified him. A FREAKING WITNESS SAW HIM! What the fuck do you need? ME: I am not convinced by any of the evidence.

Then, things became weirder. The prosecution attorney came to talk to me. To my surprise, he was very kind to me.

PROSECUTION: Hey sir,I heard you thought the defendant was not guilty? ME: WHAT??? Sir, this is supposed to be confidential! PROSECUTION: And it will. Behind us. Sir, I just want to tell this: twenty police officers worked on it. Twenty. I wouldn’t take a man to trial without the absolute proof he is guilty. ME: Thanks… I will consider it…

But I already made up my mind. Fourth day passed and at this point no one was talking. At the end of the fifth day, the judge made us all appear in front of us. Every jury member was looking at me.

JUDGE: Has the jury reached a verdict? CHIEF JURY: No, your honor. JUDGE (really surprised): Do you need more time to reach a verdict? CHIEF JURY: No, your honor. JUDGE: You… You don’t think you can reach a verdict? CHIEFT JURY: No, your honor.

Everyone in the audience sighed. Not one second I put my head down. After a couple of days, a hung jury verdict was given. And everything was to be started again. My life took a turn to the worst, I was bullied, intimidated in my life. My car was frequently arrested by patrolling police officers for no reason. I started to think about moving out.

Two months later, before the new trial began, a man confessed to the crime at a police station. He was also black, although looked nothing like the first man, even in terms of weight/height. He gave a crying confession to which he admitted everything. Then, he gave details that were kept private (not shared with any outsider) and that he could in no way know unless he was the perpretator of the crime. He said he followed the long trial, and was tortured thinking about everything that happened. When the woman saw him, she immediately said it was him, and I had the feeling police told her it was the first black man who did it.

Later on he was convicted, served a prison time, and was released after many years. Sorry to make this so long. AMA.

I’m floored that this guy was selected for the jury despite expressing racist sentiments. I’m even more floored that the prosecutor attempted to pressure him into changing his vote during deliberations. Surely, that’s waaaay out-of-bounds, right?

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha