Given the history of police cover-ups and their unwillingness, too often, to discipline their own, I suggest that civilian participation in such Boards is essential. As Sir Robert Peel pointed out two centuries ago, confidence in and cooperation with the police is essential for their effectiveness.
Excerpts from the Article:
Baltimore’s mayor said Wednesday she will renew a push to add two civilians to police trial boards after a board of three officers ruled that a police van driver violated no policies when a black man was fatally injured inside his van.
The death of Freddie Gray in 2015 a week after he was injured during a police van ride sparked riots and reform efforts in the state capital, but police union opposition has kept civilians off such panels in Baltimore, even as civilians join police in handling complaints in other cities.
“I do think it’s fair to have citizens sitting on the trial board, so we’ll be back in Annapolis asking for the two citizens on the trial board,” Mayor Catherine Pugh said, a day after the officers unanimously found Officer Caesar Goodson not guilty of 21 charges of violating department policies.
In response to the Gray case, Maryland lawmakers changed the law to enable local jurisdictions to put civilians on police trial boards if they choose, but in Baltimore, the reform has stalled in collective bargaining negotiations. The mayor wants the General Assembly to require civilian board membership in the city.
Opponents say these boards have the power to ruin an officer’s career, so the people on them need a professional’s understanding of policing.
Sean Malone, an attorney who represented Goodson and has tried police disciplinary cases as both a prosecutor and defense counsel, said the resistance isn’t so much to civilians being on boards, but to having people on them who don’t have a background in police work.
“You just want educated, fair people who understand the nature of the police work, and if you get that, you’re going to get fair results whichever way it sorts out,” Malone said.
“I don’t think you can trust justice can be served under the current arrangement,” Grandpre said.
From my colleagues at LEAP. Click on this to see how good policing, effective policing, should occur!
3 CORE IDEAS
The goal is preventing crime, not catching criminals. If the police stop crime before it happens, we don’t have to punish citizens or suppress their rights. An effective police department doesn’t have high arrest stats; its community has low crime rates.
The key to preventing crime is earning public support. Every community member must share the responsibility of preventing crime, as if they were all volunteer members of the force. They will only accept this responsibility if the community supports and trusts the police.
The police earn public support by respecting community principles. Winning public approval requires hard work to build reputation: enforcing the laws impartially, hiring officers who represent and understand the community, and using force only as a last resort.
When the Donald says he is getting tough on immigration, this is the kind of outrageous crap we see. This, and the tortuous conditions of ICE “Detention Centers”. READ all about them on this website!
The American Civil Liberties Union is demanding the immediate release of a 10-year-old girl who was removed from the children’s hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas, and taken into custody by Border Patrol agents as she recovered from emergency surgery. The girl, Rosa Maria Hernandez, is undocumented and has cerebral palsy. She has been living in the United States since she was three months old, when her parents moved to the country in order to access better medical care for her.
She was first detained last Tuesday, after an ambulance carrying her to the hospital was stopped at a checkpoint. Agents then waited outside her hospital room until she was discharged, and detained her. Video shows the agents escorting Hernandez into custody as she’s wheeled out of the hospital on a gurney. Her doctors are recommending she be released into the care of her family. We’re joined by Priscila Martinez, who is the Texas immigration coalition coordinator and among those calling for immigration authorities to release the girl back to her family.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, the American Civil Liberties Union is demanding the immediate release of a 10-year-old girl who was removed from the children’s hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas, and taken into custody by Border Patrol agents as she recovered from emergency surgery. The girl, Rosa Maria Hernandez, is undocumented and has cerebral palsy. She has been living in the United States since she was three months old, when her parents moved to the country in order to access better medical care for her. She was first detained last Tuesday, after an ambulance carrying her to the hospital was stopped at a checkpoint. Agents then waited outside of her hospital room until she was discharged, and detained her. Video shows the agents escorting Rosa Maria Hernandez into custody as she’s wheeled out of the hospital on a gurney.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Rosa Maria’s mother, Felipa de la Cruz, speaking to her daughter, who was on the phone from detention. We can barely hear Rosa Maria, as her mother cries.
FELIPA DE LA CRUZ: [translated] Yes, my darling, I want to come and see you, but I can’t come. No, I don’t know if your father can come and take you out. Oh, no, they don’t allow other children inside, because they don’t want you to get sick. If that happened, you may not recover quickly enough to come see me.
AMY GOODMAN: This comes as the former Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency deputy director—that’s the ICE deputy director—under George W. Bush called the girl’s treatment “appalling.” This is Alonzo Peña, speaking to KSAT TV in San Antonio.
ALONZO PEÑA: Just not necessary to do that. I mean, this—she could have been given a notice to appear. You know, here she’s just getting out of the hospital, having surgery, and they’re going to put her in a detention facility. It’s just not right. … Those agents should be out on the line, stopping drugs, stopping gang members, protecting our national security, not doing this to a 10-year-old girl who’s just come out of surgery and has other medical issues.
AMY GOODMAN: Rosa’s doctors are recommending she be released into the care of her family. But instead she was released into the detention facility.
PRISCILA MARTINEZ: Well, thank you for having me. Yes, so, she was actually going, at 2 a.m. on Tuesday morning, with her cousin, Aurora Cantu, through checkpoint in the—the freeway checkpoint in Laredo, Texas. And she went to the Corpus Christi hospital for this emergency surgery that she needed. The emergency surgery happened at 9 a.m. And the whole time, from the checkpoint forward, the Border Patrol were at their bedpost. They had to keep her in sight. They kept saying, “We have to keep her in sight.” If she was going to get an X-ray, she needed to be in their sight. If she was going to the surgery, she needed to be in sight. They weren’t—they didn’t allow the family to have a closed room. They didn’t allow the family to have a private conversation. It wasn’t until the next day, when the lawyer arrived, that they were able to have a private conversation. And then they were able to talk to the hospital lawyers and figure out a solution.
At first, they wanted—Border Patrol wanted to just straight take her without an ambulance, wanted to put [her] in [their] car. And even the lawyer told us that one of the Border Patrol wanted to be in the back of the ambulance with the girl, with his gun. And she had to beg the Border Patrol to go to the front, so that the girl wouldn’t have to see a man, a stranger, with this gun, in the—sit next to her in this way. So then she was taken, after many negotiations with the hospital, with Border Patrol and with the lawyer. She was actually—she was taken to the detention facility in San Antonio. And that’s where she is currently right now.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Priscila, during this time, were her parents at all notified by Border Patrol of the situation, and her given the chance to be able to, in one way or other, defend herself, have a lawyer, somehow go to court to stop this?
PRISCILA MARTINEZ: Right. So, that’s the part that gets tricky, because we were—so, Aurora was really the one telling us everything, and she was telling us what was happening, and she was talking to Felipa. Felipa was the one talking to press and trying to get—trying to figure out what was going on. And we, in the meantime, were trying to figure out—through working with elected officials, trying to figure out really who—who was in custody, who was in charge, who was the person that made this decision to follow this girl. We called—you know, we had Congressman Castro call Border Patrol directly. They said they weren’t in charge of the situation. They called ICE, and they said they also weren’t in charge. So we really couldn’t figure out who was in—who was the one, the decision maker. And we know that the decision came from the top. We just—we still, to this day, don’t know who decided to follow this girl and continue to be there for the several days that she was in the hospital.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, let’s be very clear. When you talk about her being stopped at a checkpoint, this wasn’t coming over the border, although even if it was—
PRISCILA MARTINEZ: No.
AMY GOODMAN: —this is inexcusable.
PRISCILA MARTINEZ: No.
AMY GOODMAN: In Texas, there are many checkpoints when you drive around. Rosa, who is a 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy, with a mind of a 5-year-old, has been in this country since she was three months old. She was just driving—her family was just driving her in Texas to get to the hospital for her surgery.
PRISCILA MARTINEZ: Right. And we’ve these cases many times. We’ve seen more and more that Border Patrol is following people through the checkpoint, and they’re following them all the way to the hospital. This isn’t an isolated case. There have been many cases before. And now we’re finding out more. The hospital staff, even in their orders of being able to take someone in emergency surgery, they push to the last minute, because they know that they’re risking someone’s status, someone’s immigration status. And so, they also, in their—in the way that they’re recommending people to get their healthcare services, they are basing that decision on whether—how emergency—how much they need it versus, you know, them risking going to a detention center afterwards, too. So it’s been a really difficult decision and a really difficult situation for a lot of families all across the border.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And what are the legal remedies that hospital personnel have in this situation? Does a doctor have a right to tell—to tell Border Patrol agents, “No, you can’t be—you can’t be coming into this hospital room or seizing one of my patients”?
PRISCILA MARTINEZ: Right, yeah. So, if it’s a private hospital, they absolutely have the right to not let Border Patrol in. Border Patrol uses intimidation to get in, to do what they want, to continue to follow their procedures and their orders. But Border Patrol or any type of enforcement does not have to be in the hospital, if it’s a private hospital.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to play an outgoing voice message from ICE’s community relations officer, Norma Lacy, who says the agency is not involved in Rosa Maria’s detention.
NORMA LACY: If you are calling regarding Rosa Maria’s case, please be advised that ICE is not a part of this case. We have not been involved, and have been trying to set the record straight. If you would like to look up an article in Newsweek, we have published a correction. You need to call Border Patrol. They were the ones, the agency in Laredo, that was involved.
AMY GOODMAN: So, the question is: Who has responsibility here? We also heard the former deputy director of ICE, not in charge anymore, but he was under George W. Bush. He actually broke down, and he said, “This is unacceptable.” I believe his own son died in the hospital that Rosa had her operation in.
PRISCILA MARTINEZ: Right, yeah. So we continue to see this, that Border Patrol is taking no actual responsibility for this. They filed, supposedly, an NTA, notice to appear, but—they gave it to the hospital, but they did not give it to the lawyer. And even to this day, we still have not seen this notice to appear. So we’re a little bit confused as to who—again, who has responsibility for this.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And what steps, what legal steps, are you taking now in terms of—I mean, is it possible to file a habeas corpus or have a judge rule on this matter?
PRISCILA MARTINEZ: Yeah, so I think that’s what we’re trying to figure out, because it is a little bit tricky. We don’t know who is actually responsible. And so I think that the—her lawyers, her immigration lawyers, because they have not gotten the notice to appear, they can’t move forward with the legal process. I know ACLU is kind of working on really saying that “Today is the day. If you do not release her, we will sue you for this.” And I think that that’s something that they—you know, that they were working on all yesterday. And so, you know, I don’t know what’s to come. I hope the best, and I really hope that, you know, we’ll get some really good news soon, and she’ll be released back to her family.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, these stories are unbelievable. We recently reported on a nurse in Utah who was stopping the police from coming in to pull blood from an unconscious patient. She was dragged out and arrested for stopping the police officer. Ultimately, though, interestingly, the police officer was fired for his actions. And then, in March, we looked at the shocking case of an asylum seeker from El Salvador who was detained as she battled a brain tumor. Sara Beltran Hernandez was shackled at her hands and wrists, removed from the hospital, taken back to the Prairieland Detention Center near Dallas. This is her lawyer, Fatma Marouf.
FATMA MAROUF: After I went to the hospital to try to understand what was happening, and subsequently talked to people within the Department of Homeland Security, as well as within the hospital, we were told that she would be moved to a hospital in Dallas. And then, suddenly, the next day, she was taken back.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Fatma Marouf, the lawyer for the woman taken out of the hospital with a brain tumor. How common, Priscila Martinez, is this?
PRISCILA MARTINEZ: So, I think we’ve seen a lot more reports of Border Patrol following people all the way to a hospital. I had a case of an older woman. She was 65 years old. And she had a brain tumor, and she needed an operation in San Antonio. And her U.S. citizen children were not allowed to go into the room and see her, their own mother, after she had the surgery, and they—because Border Patrol was staying outside. Now, I just learned about this case now, and there’s been more cases that are coming forward, because we see more and more of the situation where Border Patrol follows people who are sick, and they treat them like criminals, and they have no accountability whatsoever.
So, this is our first step into creating that accountability and to showing—and to showing the community that this is unacceptable and we’re not—we’re not going to accept this. And, you know, we’re really empowering the community to speak out and to say something, so that we can hold them accountable for their actions.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Priscila Martinez, you’re speaking to us from Texas, the state that is now infamous for SB 4, the legislation that would empower the state officials to arrest public municipal leaders or even police chiefs who refuse to cooperate with ICE and with Border Patrol. I’m wondering your sense of how—where Texas is headed, because I know this right now is being challenged still in court appeals—where you think Texas is headed on this issue of the treating of the undocumented.
PRISCILA MARTINEZ: Right. And I think it’s really—it’s been hard for Texas communities, immigrant communities, because they’ve been hit sometimes at every level, at the local, state and federal level, you know, especially our folks out in Houston, where they were hit not only by SB 4, but also by Harvey and not even being able to qualify for FEMA assistance. And so, it’s been really challenging for families here.
However, we’ve seen that there’s more and more communities that are empowered, that are coming out. We’re training our communities to know their rights. We’re training them to feel empowered, that just because a police officer asks you for your immigration status, you do not have to answer. And we’re empowering them to organize and to fight back. And this is, you know, [inaudible] that we’re looking to—forward to seeing that expand in Texas to kind of really build the story of how communities are standing up and fighting back.
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Priscila, can you talk about where Rosa Maria is right now and the fact that her surgeon says she still needs follow-up medical care, saying she should be with her family? Talk about this situation, before we go.
PRISCILA MARTINEZ: Right, yeah. So, Rosa Maria has a very—she’s right now at the detention center. She is being told by her mom that she needs to be there to recover from the surgery, and as soon as she’s recovered, you know, she can come home. And I think that that—that’s the way that they’re kind of framing it.
But she’s already getting a little bit—we could hear it in her voice, according to her mother, that she’s already starting to feel a little, you know, less happier than usual. She doesn’t have her usual tone that she usually has. And her mom is able to tell that. Even when I was with her and she made the phone call to her mom, you know, Rosa Maria has a—she’s been in hospitals, in and out, so many times because of different other medical difficulties, that she kind of hides, you know, feeling like—when she doesn’t feel well. And her is able to tell that right away, and the detention center won’t. And so, it’s been really challenging having her there, because her mom knows her so well, that it’s hard to know really how she’s doing.
And she’s due for a doctor’s appointment on November 2nd. We’re hoping—we’re building actions on November 1st to ask ICE, and we’re asking, you know, to have her released immediately, so that she can go to her doctor’s appointment on November 2nd.
AMY GOODMAN: And finally, why can’t her mother visit? I mean, they came to this country—what?—10 years ago?
PRISCILA MARTINEZ: Right, right.
AMY GOODMAN: Rosa Maria came here when she was three months old—she’s now 10—with cerebral palsy?
PRISCILA MARTINEZ: Right. Her mom can’t visit her, because she’s undocumented. And her—she would have to cross the checkpoint again to see her daughter in San Antonio, where she’s being held. And so she cannot see her, because that would put her immediately into deportation proceedings.
AMY GOODMAN: And again, crossing the checkpoint, that’s within the United States. The family lives—
PRISCILA MARTINEZ: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: —in the United States. There are just a number of checkpoints, for people to understand outside of Texas, in Texas when you drive around.
Pro Bono/Pro Se Law Group – Richard Posner at the Helm! Ken Abraham Consulting on the Project. Final name: Team Posner Law Group
UPDATE: 11/19/17 EVERYONE – Both Dick (Posner, that is) and I are swamped with requests for Team Posner Law Group to take people’s cases. WE ARE NOT READY YET. The “horse got ahead of the cart” with news stories about the new venture. HOLD ONTO your request until about two weeks after the Holidays. By then we should have staff, systems, etc. in place to respond appropriately!
AS OF 11/14/17 – This is so much work on top of all else!! But we ARE making it happen! Big meeting in Chicago on the 17th, which I cannot attend, but I was asked to be there. Dick and I get along grrrrreat! It should be finalized and ready to go within a month or two at the most … office, staff, systems, etc. Dick and I email each other and talk to each other several times a week; hectic, but moving along!
The official name is Team Posner Law Group, and it gets more exciting every day! Going to be huge!
Update as of 10/29/17: The name has been changed to Team Posner ProBono/ProSe Law Group, [Inc. or LLC – to be determined within 2 weeks.] That change 1. lets people know who founded the firm, which is only right, and which gets folks’ attention at once … at least those in the legal world … for any good lawyer has heard of Judge Richard Posner, 2. States our purpose, and 3. Tells you immediately that it is a law group.
Many “loose ends” and details remain as we conclude the formative stage of this venture [of course, we always will be improving! 🙂 ], but Richard Posner, less than two months after leaving the Bench, is well on his way to transforming the legal world!
This could be huge! Huge, huge, huge! 🙂
I am thrilled to say that a new law firm is being formed to represent people who cannot afford an attorney. Pro Bono/Pro Se Law Group is the tentative name, and it will be headquartered in Chicago. Dick Posner will begin working on it in earnest tomorrow. Hundreds of “primo” attorneys (I expect thousands) all across America will work part-time for the new firm, representing those who cannot afford counsel, in a broad array of areas of the law.
Ever since I tracked down retired Judge Richard Posner,*we have been emailing each other and we talk at least every other day, exchanging ideas about the new firm. Finally, after 5 years of “doing what I do”, I have stumbled into the right person! Richard Posner is known, respected, and admired by all familiar with the law.
PRESS RELEASE – Pro Bono/Pro Se Law Group – Richard Posner at the Helm! Ken Abraham Consulting on the Project 10/18/17
Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE is pleased to announce that its founder, Kenneth Abraham, former Delaware Deputy Attorney General, and former inmate, is serving as a consultant to a new law firm being started by retired federal judge, Richard Posner. Team Posner ProBono/ProSe Law Group, a nationwide firm, will provide assistance free of charge to pro se’s who have potentially meritorious legal claims but cannot afford to hire lawyers. The chairman of the new company is Richard A. Posner, who recently retired after 35 years as a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, during which time he published more than 3300 judicial opinions. Before becoming a judge, he was a law professor at the University of Chicago Law School, with a long history of active participation in litigation and in scholarly activity focused on economic analysis of law. He is a member of the New York State Bar and the author of 66 books and countless articles and blog posts.
Consulting in his new venture is Kenneth Abraham of Delaware—very experienced, a former lawyer, an excellent consultant for less experienced lawyers and for pro se’s. A leading expert on prisoner abuse in the United States, Mr. Abraham will be consulting by phone and email with lawyers who represent or are interested in representing prisoner pro se’s (about half of all pro se’s involved in litigation are prison inmates) in court, but who have limited experience with prison abuse —though such abuse is rampant.
Additionally, Mr. Abraham will educate other lawyers on a very valuable tool, and often the ONLY likelihood, of getting out of prison those who should not be there: Clemency/Commutation Applications for cases with merit … the actually innocent and many who have been hammered with “this makes no sense” unfairly long sentences. And Pardons for those who need one to progress in life.
Says Mr. Abraham: “We make a pretty good team: He, a lifelong intellectual, scholar, law professor, economist and judge, and yours truly, who has “been in the trenches”, worked with, lived with, played with, committed crimes with (when on drugs), mentored, and otherwise associated with a wide variety of folks, from homeless addicts to Chief Justices of the Supreme Court of Delaware. I bring some new perspectives to the issues.”
I am delighted to say that they will be hiring me as a consultant, and that I have gotten Dick interested in Prison Abuse and the outrages committed by CPS workers, and these are just two of the issues to be tackled by the firm.
We make a pretty good team: He, a lifelong intellectual, scholar, law professor, economist and judge, and yours truly, who has “been in the trenches”, worked with, lived with, played with, committed crimes with (when on drugs), mentored, and otherwise associated with a wide variety of folks, from homeless addicts to Chief Justices of the Supreme Court of Delaware. I bring some new perspectives to the issues.
He will be emailing me any time now the new book he is just finishing, in which he graciously has mentioned me and referred people to me and to this website.
Below is one of my most recent emails to Mr. Posner, written in response to one he sent me:
I suggest “Pro Bono/Pro Se Law Group”, simply to make it clear at a glance for the uneducated that it is a law firm.
I don’t think I have the time nor the expertise to travel and teach as much as you indicate here. I am, however, a phone call away. My hope and expectation is that you will attract lawyers with some experience in prison related cases, and the caliber of attorneys who readily can learn what they need to know, if they are new to these issues, with some guidance from me. It’s not “rocket science”. I suggest you suggest that my article Culture of Cover Up be required reading for any attorney new to prison issues!
You might say I do hope to educate other lawyers on a very valuable tool, and often the ONLY likelihood, of getting out of prison those who should not be there: Clemency/Commutation Applications for cases with merit … the actually innocent and many who have been hammered with “this makes no sense” unfairly long sentences! And Pardons for those who need one to progress in life. I certainly am willing to travel to do that once or twice a year. I am thinking perhaps free for members of the firm, and charge a fee – to go to Pro Bono/Pro Se Law Group – for other participants!
Please DO take out “and can travel anywhere”. And instead of the line about symposiums just say that I will consult by phone and email as needed.
Call any time to discuss.
I’ll keep you posted.
10/19/17 Here is the Article in the Delaware State News – Prisoner rights advocate joins forces with retired federal judge.
The BEST way to get the word out about issues is a Letter to the Editor – Click on Articles and then scroll to “Go in Depth” and click on Letters to the Editor” for hundreds of examples and easy instructions.
But the ANOTHER GREAT WAY to also attract eyeballs and the press, is a PRESS RELEASE. When I had my fast-growing businesses I sent one out every 3 months and got millions of dollars of “free advertising” … that’s what it amounts to! “We just hired so and so” or “We are now the exclusive Printer for X company” or “RecycleSaurous campaign Takes Off!”.
You get the email address for media outlets in your area … Newspapers, Radio, TV, and you email the PRESS RELEASE to yourself with bcc to all of the outlets!
YOU might do one like:
Joni Jumison has set up an organization to help free her wrongly convicted son. It is crystal clear he was wrongly convicted. To help or for further information, contact Joni Jumison at The Free Johnny Jumison Group at .. phone, email and mailing address.
YOUR signature block.
They may or may not use it, and they might contact you to do an article or report about it!
Here are two I sent out recently:
PRESS RELEASE – RALLY for JUSTICE – on 10/7/17
Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE (CCJ) is hosting a peaceful, quiet Rally for JUSTICE on The Green, Dover, DE on Saturday, 10/7/17, from 10 AM to 1 PM. All are welcomed. The Green is where our forefathers assembled to create this nation, a nation with a great criminal justice system. But that system has been severely damaged during the past 40 years. Join us, to improve your country and restore justice and fairness to the system. This is a NOT a political event. It is about justice and fairness. Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen will “kick it off” with his remarks at 9 AM. We have several other featured speakers, and you can make YOUR voice heard! Bring a hand held sign to promote your organization or cause!
Want to talk about kneeling, the flag, the anthem , protest? Come here to talk about it. After all, it is the failure of our criminal justice system which sparked the first such protest. Want to talk about DACA? Want to talk about Mandatory Minimum Sentences? Come Join us! We expect hundreds of people.
To learn more about this rally, contact Ken Abraham at email@example.com ; 302-423-4067
Come join us on The Green In Dover, from 9 A M to 1 P M to show your concern for the need for meaningful, positive, common sense criminal justice reform! https://www.facebook.com/images/emoji.php/v9/f4c/1/16/1f642.png:)
Any ????, give me a call.
PRESS RELEASE 10/7/17 – Executive Director of NARSOL To Speak in Delaware!
Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE has just received confirmation that the Executive Director of NARSOL To Speak in Delaware! Ms. Brenda Jones, the Executive Director of a relatively new national organization, NARSOL – National Advocates for Rational Sex Offender Laws- will be one of the Featured Speakers at our Rally for JUSTICE on Saturday, the 7th. She is travelling from Washington D C to be here and will speak at 10:30.
https://narsol.org/ See their website.
She is most welcomed indeed! I have long seen that many of our sex offender laws and restrictions make NO sense whatsoever!
Come join us on The Green In Dover, from 9 A M to 1 P M to show your concern for the need for meaningful, positive, common sense criminal justice reform!
For further information contact Ken Abraham at firstname.lastname@example.org or 302-423-4067.
Thanks to Cindy Rook of our FB group for sending me this one. Ask to JOIN Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE on FB! 🙂
This excellent video explains the causes and some of the solutions. This judge says that in his career he had over 200 trials. In my 10 year career in law I had over 55. This is because these days 95% to 97% of all felony cases end in a plea! READ Rush to Sentence – A Major, Awful Consequence of our “War on Drugs”!
Thousands of wrongful convictions attest to the extreme dysfunction of our justice system.
Watch the video:
The ABCs of fair trials: language in the juvenile justice system – a Key Competence, or Hidden Disability – kra
Prison is no place for kids! This excellent article cautions us that a surprisingly high number of juveniles have language disorders, and this, of course, affects their understanding and their treatment in the criminal justice system. “Research in the Netherlands has brought to light that 90% of the juveniles have a language disorder of some kind, and 76.7%, have a severe language disorder. These findings are consistent with linguistic research of delinquent youth in England, where the percentage of language disorders was 73.3%”.
Excerpts from the Article:
For people to exercise their rights, they need to first understand them. This is particularly true for minors and people with language deficiencies. In this post, Mai Fleetwood-Bird, a lecturer and researcher at the department of health law of the Erasmus School of Law (Rotterdam), illustrates the language challenges within the juvenile justice system and offers some recommendations to improve fair trial safeguards for minors. Mai has been working as a speech and language therapist for 20 years in the Rotterdam area, including with young people with speech and language difficulties in primary care.
Research in recent years in the United States, England and Australia around language skills of young offenders has demonstrated that a large percentage of juveniles in the criminal justice system have a significant, and earlier undiagnosed severe language disorder. Evidence is accumulating that language competences are being identified as a ‘key-competence’. 
Research in the Netherlands has brought to light that 90% of the juveniles have a language disorder of some kind, and 76.7%, have a severe language disorder. These findings are consistent with linguistic research of delinquent youth in England, where the percentage of language disorders was 73.3%. 
The language problems of these young people can be seen as an ‘invisible disability’ within the juvenile justice system. The fact that a young person who comes into contact with criminal law may have undetected severe language problems has wide implications for the juvenile justice system, particularly when fair trial principles are at stake, such as the right to remain silent, access to justice and the right to be heard. These problems should be taken into account at all stages of the criminal proceedings.
Article 12 CRC (the Right to be heard) is essential for the juvenile who has come into contact with the judicial system and extends to every professional in the chain during the entire proceedings. For the police this means that the suspect is entitled to express his version of the facts of the case. The juvenile must, therefore, be informed from the start of the proceedings what his rights are, and what they contain.
A major risk of undiagnosed language problems  is that under pressure – for example during questioning – this person will probably give a ‘one-word-sentence’ answer, will not be accurate and will give vague answers. Juveniles develop (consciously or unconsciously) ways to cover up their language problems, for example, by repeating words or phrases used by the interviewer, by giving stereotyped answers, or affirmative answers to yes/no questions, even if they do not understand the question and by using short stop words like “thing”, “uuum”, “dunno”, “maybe”. This is accompanied by poor eye contact and an occasional shrug. 
One possible consequence of these language problems is that the interviewer wrongly assumes that this behaviour arises from social or emotional factors (e.g. avoidance behaviour, rudeness or refusal to cooperate with the interviewer) and not from an underlying language problem. This misinterpretation may compel the interviewer to ask longer and more persistent questions, leading to even less clear answers as a result. 
When it comes to storytelling, language research has detected more reasons for concern. Juveniles with a severe language problem are much less able to tell a chronological story. This means that they find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to telling ‘their story’, a crucial skill during interrogation and during the interactions in the courtroom. They leave out important details or fail to provide full information on the facts. In addition, the absent, or diminished, ability of the suspect to engage in ‘conversational repair’  might lead to misunderstandings. If the interviewer is unaware of the underlying language problem, parts of the story might be misunderstood, not believed, or will never surface in the first place. 
This knowledge is not only important to the police officer and the professionals in court but also to the lawyer of the young suspect. After all, part of the defence strategy of the accused is based on the story provided.
By providing for early identification mechanisms, the State will honour the positive obligations and the ‘special protection measures’ resulting from international, European and national standards, and the rights of the juvenile suspects with severe language problems will enjoy greater safeguards.
Here’s the problem: Prisoners are not believed by most people. Some are hard-core, self-centered creeps who will do or say anything to get out of prison. Couple these two facts with the revelation that a payment has been promised or made for information provided, or early release guaranteed, or leniency at sentencing, or any other consideration, and it is easy to argue that nobody should believe what the inmate has to say. The dilemma is that in many instances, the inmate has true, valid, important information.
This article is a good discussion of measures being used/considered to ensure that the truth reaches jurors’ ears.
Excerpts from the Article:
Nobody likes a snitch, but never have so many people been doing so much about it. Legislatures around the country, from Texas to Montana to New York, are considering and passing bills to better regulate the use of compensated criminal witnesses. As the New York Times Editorial Board complained just a couple of months ago, “[m]any prosecutors are far too willing to present testimony from people they would never trust under ordinary circumstances.”
Apparently state lawmakers agree. Almost all of the legislation requires better tracking and disclosure. It has become an article of common sense that if the government is going to pay its criminal witnesses for evidence and testimony, it should have to keep track of them, their histories and those rewards—and disclose that information to the defense.
Texas has been a leader in this regard, passing comprehensive new requirements in July. Such reforms are driven first and foremost by the fear of wrongful conviction: Compensated witnesses hoping to gain their own freedom obviously have strong incentives to lie.
Better tracking and disclosure also strengthen the integrity of the adversarial system. While Supreme Court cases like Brady v. Maryland and Giglio v. U.S. already require prosecutorial disclosure, constitutional rules have turned out to be relatively weak guarantees that the defense will get salient information about informants in their cases. These new state laws are an important effort to level the adversarial playing field and improve its accuracy as well as its integrity.
Lots of states are going further, however. They are rethinking not just what the government should disclose about its informants but under what circumstances it should be permitted to use them at all. Many states are trying to get the bench more involved, requiring pretrial reliability hearings in which judges act as gatekeepers to evaluate informant reliability before those informants get in front of a jury.
These procedures are like the Daubert hearings currently used to screen experts and they have the same rationale: Informants, like experts, are paid and controlled by one side, hard to cross examine, and often exert undue influence on lay juries. Both Washington and Montana considered exemplary legislation that would require reliability hearings in all cases.
Some legislators have worked on limiting the benefits that informants can receive, or, in death penalty cases, banning them altogether. Other states have taken a different tack, recognizing that unreliability is just one of many challenges raised by the creation and use of informants.
North Dakota’s Andrew’s Law is named after a college student killed after being pressured into becoming an informant by a local drug task force. For example, parents around the country were shocked to learn that some college campus police pressure students into becoming informants. The coercion of young people and other vulnerable targets became headline national news several years ago when 23-year-old Rachel Hoffman became an informant to work off a minor drug charge in Tallahassee, Florida. She was killed during a dangerous sting operation, and her death led to the passage of Rachel’s Law which required Florida police to come up with stronger informant guidelines.
At least eight states—California, Illinois, Mississippi, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and Washington—considered these sorts of new rules in 2017. Some of the bills passed, some didn’t—often legislation like this takes a couple of years to become law—but they all reflect a deepened awareness of the informant challenge and the legislative commitment to better regulate it.
Here are some highlights:
Montana’s Senate Bill 249 introduced comprehensive legislation that would require, among other things, electronic recording of informant statements, greater prosecutorial disclosure, pretrial reliability hearings, and cautionary jury instructions.
Washington recently considered two bills. One from 2016 would have required pretrial reliability hearings in all informant cases. The other would have required enhanced prosecutorial disclosure. Barry Scheck, founder and director of the Innocence Project, wrote that the Washington legislation was a “key advance” and that it represented an opportunity to “ensure that the strongest protections are in place for the innocent.”
This wave of new reform has been a long time coming.
The innocence movement warned us for years that criminal informants are a leading cause of wrongful conviction. In Orange County, California, a multi-year ongoing jailhouse snitch scandal has derailed numerous homicide and gang cases and triggered a federal investigation.
Almost every week brings a new media story about an informant case gone awry. Criminal informants have historically been secretive and under-regulated; today, this problematic law enforcement practice is getting its much-deserved day in the sun.
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This is a far bigger problem than most people realize.
Excerpts from the Article:
CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen weighs in on this week’s 60 Minutes report “The False Confession Capital.” Our 60 Minutes piece this Sunday on false confessions and the Chicago Police Department offers telling detail about two cases in which the truth became another victim of crime and criminal justice. I was struck by many parts of the sad stories that correspondent Byron Pitts — and producers Ira Rosen, Gabrielle Schonder and Matthew Danowski — told, but kept coming back to the one question everyone asks when they hear about these sorts of cases: Why do people falsely confess to crimes they didn’t commit?
One of these people, Terrill Swift, tells Bryon: “I thought I was going home,” after the journalist asks why Swift had signed a false confession in a 1991 rape and murder case. “Come on now,” Byron pushes back. “You had to know if you admitted to raping and killing a woman, you weren’t going home to mama.” To which Swift — who was incarcerated for 15 years for crimes there is no evidence he committed — answers: “I had no understanding of that, none.”
I also have no understanding of that. So I asked Maurice Possley, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning investigative journalist who has covered crime and justice for decades, to help explain why so many people, especially so many teenagers, sign their lives away. “Put a kid in a locked room for 10-20 hours and they want their mama and will say just about anything to get out of there,” Possley says. “But instead of going home, they go straight to jail.”
Possley now works with the National Registry of Exonerations, which serves as a national repository for information about exonnerations like the ones Byron highlighted on 60 Minutes. Possley has seen and reported on a lot of these sorts of cases, both in Chicago and elsewhere around the country. “People confess to crimes they don’t commit because they fear the death penalty, because they are mentally ill or they are intellectually handicapped,” Possley told me. “They confess because police are smarter and forceful and believe they are extracting the truth, even if the facts belie the confession.”
Not all these cases are out of Chicago, of course, and not every false confession case involves a young person. But the growing awareness of the problem caused by these cases — the wrongful imprisonment, the fact that the real killer goes free, etc — is having a national impact on the criminal justice system.
Indeed, one person who very likely understands with great clarity the nature of these false confession cases is none other than Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, the author of the majority opinion in Roper v. Simmons, the 2005 case that outlawed capital punishment for juvenile offenders–that is, for young men and women who murdered before they turned 18. Justice Kennedy offered “three general differences between juveniles under 18 and adults” to justify a national ban on capital punishment for young murderers. One such difference?
“[J]uveniles are more vulnerable or susceptible to negative influences and outside pressures, including peer pressure,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “This is explained in part by the prevailing circumstance that juveniles have less control, or less experience with control, over their own environment (citations omitted).”
All three categories, the Justice concluded, justified the recognition that juveniles have a “diminished culpability” when it comes to determining the punishment for their crimes.
Another step backwards. No surprise, but you would think the “law and order” president would want cops to obey the law. Trump is disaster for criminal justice reform.
On the same day as the acquittal of Jason Stockley, a white St. Louis police officer who shot a black man during a high-speed chase in 2011, the Department Of Justice has announced that they are essentially abandoning the Collaborative Reform Initiative, an Obama-era program that was aimed at revamping community relations with police departments.
The program, which was tasked with investigating local police departments and issuing public reports about their failings, was administered by the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). While the program overlapped with some of the work done by the Department’s civil rights division, it was an attempt to address issues arising from the multiple shootings by local police of unarmed civilians in the past few years as well as the increasing militarization of local police forces who have received surplus military equipment from the federal government to supplement their arms caches. While the Obama Administration moved to stop the distribution of this type of surplus gear in its last months in office, Attorney General Jeff Sessions resumed the shipments last month as part of his move to put the Justice Department solidly on the side of local law enforcement. While the Obama Administration moved to stop the distribution of this type of surplus gear in its last months in office, Attorney General Jeff Sessions resumed the shipments last month as part of his move to put the Justice Department solidly on the side of local law enforcement.
According to The Washington Post, Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the move “a course correction to ensure that resources go to agencies that require assistance rather than expensive wide-ranging investigative assessments that go beyond the scope of technical assistance and support.” Critics of the Attorney General fear that the action is another step backwards for the rights of citizens who have been unfairly targeted by police simply because of their skin color or ethnicity.
With the removal of close scrutiny by federal officials, local police will have one less barrier to prevent the potential for abuse of power. Let’s hope that oversight by state and local governments will be powerful enough to replace the lack of a strong federal role in keeping local police behaving according to the standards we all should expect from them.
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