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Today is Jury Rights Day

September 5  is Jury Rights Day!

Here is my blog post from last year:

Today’s date, Sept. 5, marks an important historical event in the development of the right to trial by jury. On this day in 1670, William Penn and William Mead were prosecuted in England for “unlawful assembly,” “disturbing the peace,” and “riot.” These “crimes” arose from Penn having preached near Grace Church to a meeting of several hundred Quakers.

It was a peculiar trial in many respects. The court, for example, denied Penn’s request to simply read the indictment. But the trial was most notable for the way in which the court tried to bully the jury. When the jury did not come back with guilty verdicts, but a verdict that simply said “guilty of speaking to an assembly,” the court refused to accept that outcome and ordered the jury to return to their deliberations. When the jury returned with a verdict that acquitted Mead of all charges, the court ordered the jury to prison! Next, the jurors filed a writ of habeas corpus challenging the legality of their imprisonment.

Soon after, an important legal precedent was set for jury independence: jurors cannot be punished for voting their conscience. That’s the story behind “Jury Rights Day.”

Alas, the jury trial has been in a steady decline here in the United States.

We started out strong. Our Constitution says, “the Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment; shall by by Jury.”  And our second president, John Adams, said, “It is not only [the juror’s] right, but his duty … to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.”

But these days, the government pressures many defendants to enter into plea bargains so fewer and fewer cases go to trial. And the government no longer wants jurors to vote their conscience. Indeed, it goes so far as to arrest people for distributing pamphlets that discuss these matters.

We need policies that will once again honor the role that juries play in securing justice.

For a good article, go here.  For a good book, go here.

Some good news from New Hampshire in this area.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 08-31-12

Here are the 12 reports of police misconduct tracked for Friday, August 31, 2012:

  • Sarasota, Florida: An officer is on administrative leave after punching a suspect in the head 10 times and then choking him unconscious during an arrest.
  • Lincoln County, West Virginia: The sheriff pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and was sentenced to one year and one day in prison, two years of supervised release, and given a fine of $5,000. “Today proves that no matter who violates our election law, regardless of party of position, there will be an investigation and those who are guilty will be brought to justice,” said Secretary of State Natalie Tennant.
  • Update: Washington, D.C.: The former D.C. officer who pleaded guilty to charges related to falsifying logs of District speed cameras was sentenced to two years of probation.
  • Terre Haute, Indiana: A police officer is facing drunk driving charges after an off-duty car crash. His blood alcohol content was .22, almost three times the legal limit. He was off-duty when he crashed into another car.
  • Monroe, Washington: A former Washington State Patrol trooper was sentenced Wednesday to a month in jail after pleading guilty to assaulting his wife earlier this year. His wife reported that he pointed a loaded gun at her, and also hit and choked her. He told officers that he did not remember the incident, but that he did not think his wife would lie about it.
  • Grant County, West Virginia: A man reached a settlement in a civil rights suit he filed against a former deputy sheriff he claims raped him following an arrest for driving under the influence.
  • Madison County, Tennessee: A deputy resigned rather than face a disciplinary hearing after he tested positive for marijuana during a random drug screening.
  • Los Angeles, California: At least five LAPD officers are under investigation in the death of a woman who suffocated after an officer stomped on her genital area and others used additional force to take her into custody.
  • Newton, Massachusetts: The police chief has been suspended and faces firing over comments he made to women that were deemed “boorish, disrespectful and insulting.” An independent investigator concluded that he made the derogatory remarks.
  • Weatherford, Oklahoma: Police officers have been accused of making four Southwestern Oklahoma State University students crawl back to an apartment or face arrest for public intoxication. A police captain said that if the allegations are true, the police chief will take the necessary disciplinary actions.
  • Corpus Christi, Texas: An ex-officer was sentenced to more than 13 years in prison for having an improper sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl. Authorities say that he knew that is how old she was when the relationship started.
  • Brazoria, Texas: A deputy was accused of inappropriately touching female drivers he pulled over on traffic stops. He was charged with four counts of official oppression after two women came forward about incident.


National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 08-30-12

Here are the 8 reports of police misconduct tracked for Thursday, August 30, 2012:

  • Barrington, Rhode Island: An officer pleaded not guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct for allegedly threatening his ex-wife. He was arrested after she called the police on him.
  • King’s County, California: A sheriff’s detective pleaded guilty to charges that stem from a drunken driving arrest. He has been on administrative leave pending the investigation. He was ordered to serve five days in jail, complete a DUI program, and pay fines.
  • Richmond, Virginia: A marine veteran was arrested at his home for anti-government statements and song lyrics posted on his private Facebook page. Secret Service, FBI and Chesterfield County police transported him to a medical facility for a psychiatric evaluation. Mr. Raub won his freedom back when the circuit court judge found his forced detention “so devoid of any factual allegations that it could not be reasonably expected to give rise to a case or controversy.” He is now filing suit against all those involved in his arrest.
  • Isleton, California: A police officer, who was first accused of having sex in his squad car while on duty, has now been accused of selling guns.
  • Los Angeles, California: Two officers were caught on camera body slamming a nurse to the ground twice. The second time, she was in handcuffs. It then shows them fist-bumping after they put her in the back seat. The entire incident occurred when she was pulled over for allegedly talking on her cell phone while driving.
  • Murray County, Tennessee: A deputy who arrested a woman that had brought charges against the Chief Magistrate has been fired. Her attorney said, “I am pleased that it appears this matter is being taken very seriously. All citizens of Murray County should feel relieved that rogue officers are not being allowed to remain on the force.”
  • Pensacola, Florida: An officer has been arrested and charged with insurance fraud. He is currently on suspension stemming from previous disciplinary action.
  • Fort Deposit, Alabama: An officer was sentenced to three years in prison for stealing money from motorists that he stopped on the interstate.


National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 08-29-12

Here are the 9 stories of police misconduct tracked for Wednesday, August 29, 2012:

  • Montgomery, Alabama: A police officer is accused of  stealing funds confiscated in a narcotics arrest, according to the release from the Police Department. A statement from the Montgomery Police Department says they launched an investigation after realizing cash seized in a narcotics case last year had not been returned as ordered by a judge.
  • Boulder, Colorado: A former Boulder County deputy pleaded guilty to felony Internet sexual exploitation of a child. He was accused of using his sheriff’s office-issued computer to carry on sexually explicit online chats with girls as young as 11.
  • Hatboro, PA: A former detective has pleaded guilty to charges he convinced informants to buy him drugs under the guise of an “undercover drug investigation.” John Becker pleaded guilty to charges of theft by unlawful taking or disposition, possession of a controlled substance and official oppression in connection with incidents that occurred.
  • Rockford, MI: A police officer has been charged with sex crimes against a prisoner. “It is alleged that Zieminski engaged in inappropriate sexual contact using force or coercion with a female prisoner who was in his custody at the time,” Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman Maria Miller said in a release.
  • Update: Sacramento, California: A deputy pleaded guilty to dealing firearms without a license. He also agreed to cooperate with the government in investigating and prosecuting other gun traffickers, and is now free without bond.
  • Charleston, South Carolina: Officials sat that Sheriff Al Cannon was arrested on Tuesday on charges of third-degree assault and battery. He allegedly slapped a handcuffed suspect after a high-speed chase.
  • Chalfont, Pennsylvania: A  police officer was not shot by a group of assailants as he claimed, but instead staged the shooting himself, according to authorities. Jon Cousin was lying when he said he was shot in the chest while investigating a suspicious vehicle. He was arrested and charged with misdemeanor counts of making false alarms to agencies of public safety, making false reports to law enforcement, disorderly conduct, official oppression, possession of an instrument of crime and recklessly endangering another person.
  • Update: Fresno, California: A police officer was arrested on suspicion of rape, the County Sheriff’s Office said. He was arrested after a months-long investigation into allegations that he raped a former Reedley police officer when she was incapacitated.
  • New Brunswick, New Jersey: Two Rutgers University students who say police broke into their apartment, beat and handcuffed them and left them in a cold room in their underwear, have settled a federal lawsuit over the incident, a city spokesman said.


Facebook Posts Prompt Feds to Seize Decorated Vet and Haul Him to Mental Hospital

From the Washington Times:

Mr. Raub, 26, a decorated former Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was arrested at his Richmond, Va., home Aug. 16 for anti-government statements and song lyrics posted on his private Facebook page. Secret Service, FBI and Chesterfield County police transported him to John Randolph Medical Facility in Hopewell, Va., for a psychiatric evaluation. Over the objections of attorney and Rutherford Institute President John Whitehead, Mr. Raub was then transferred to the VA Hospital in Salem, Va.

Mr. Raub won his freedom on Aug. 23 when Circuit Court Judge Allan Sharrett found his forced detention “so devoid of any factual allegations that it could not be reasonably expected to give rise to a case or controversy.”

Was there even an arrest warrant?  I expect Raub will win his lawsuit or get a good settlement.  Thing is, it might take years and the taxpayers pay up.  Meanwhile, the persons responsible for this incident are still out there … “working.”

Mayor Bloomberg and “Gun Violence”

When a reporter asked New York  Mayor Michael Bloomberg whether the police had acted appropriately by shooting an armed murder suspect, he angrily replied, “Let me ask you this Miss, if somebody pointed a gun at you and you had a gun in your pocket, what would you do? I think that answers the question.”   Bloomberg makes (indirectly)  an important point.  The phrase “gun violence” gets tossed around quite a bit, but there’s a problem–the expression blurs the distinction between the use of a gun for self-defense and the use of a gun to commit a crime, such as theft, rape, and murder.

Mayor Bloomberg regularly advocates gun control measures, but according to his statements to the reporter yesterday, he’ll support your right to use a gun in self-defense, but, curiously,  put you in jail should  “you have a gun in your pocket.”   Hmm.

For more on civilians using guns to protect themselves and others, go here.

National Police Misconduct NewsFeed Daily Recap 08-28-12

Here are the 12 reports of police misconduct tracked for Tuesday, August 28, 2012:

  • Sorrento, Louisiana: The police department is under investigation for possible criminal activities by one or more of its officers. The allegations include misuse of public vehicles and equipment, and using public gasoline for private vehicles, among other things.
  • Riverside, California: An officer shot a family’s dog to death. An officer told the family that the dog was shot through a gate because officers needed to get into the backyard two doors away from the suspects house. “His only crime was barking and protecting his property,” said the homeowner. “That’s why you get a dog.”
  • Bronx, New York: A dirt bike passenger is suing the police for $20 Million dollars. The driver was killed when a police car hit the already crashed bike. The defense attorney called the police version of events an “outright fabrication” and demanded that cops release video surveillance footage of the accident, which he said police have confiscated. “There’s no transparency,” he said. He also called for a grand jury to determine whether the officers’ actions were “criminal in nature.”
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: A detention officer faces aggravated assault charges for excessive force against an inmate. “Our system of checks and balances worked, even though the inmate never reported the incident.…This type of behavior by any employee is not and will never be tolerated. This is totally contrary to their training and the professionalism and character we require of our employees,” said the Sheriff.
  • Hobbs, New Mexico: An officer, Roberto Rangel, was arrested for driving while intoxicated. Rangel asked officers, “have you ever heard of professional courtesies?” when they stopped him . They told him Rangel he should not be asking for that kind of favor being a law enforcement officer. “Our response is that driving while intoxicated is not tolerated no matter who you are.” Rangel had a loaded gun and alcohol in the car with him.
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin: A union organizer filed a complaint with the County Sheriff’s office against a deputy who she said snatched her cellphone out of her hand while she was videotaping him during a confrontation.
  • Edgefield, South Carolina: A deputy was arrested for driving a golf cart drunk. He was charged with a DUI and operating an uninsured vehicle.
  • Huntington, West Virginia: A man was arrested and charged with obstruction after he was recording police officers. He has filed a federal lawsuit against the city and three police officers, seeking an undisclosed amount of money and a First Amendment policy regarding the rights of citizens during encounters with police. His attorney Courtney Craig says they intend to let the tape speak for itself and let the chips fall where they may with the jury.
  • Carpentersville, Illinois: A man filed a civil lawsuit against the village and its police department, claiming he was battered and racially mistreated during a traffic stop. According to the lawsuit, the man was asked to exit his vehicle by an officer and was then shoved in the chest, punched twice in the face, kneed, and struck in the back of the head. The counts against the officer include civil-rights violations, false arrest and imprisonment, physical abuse, unlawful search and deprivation of liberty, excessive force, civil conspiracy, and assault and battery, among others.
  • Bronx, New York: Police, who had a search warrant, had found a gun in an apartment complex. They then searched a different apartment, on a different floor, and arrested the mother and her son who lived there for criminal possession of a weapon, even though they didn’t find one. Several months after the arrest, the charges were dropped. The mother filed suit for false arrest and imprisonment, negligent training of police officers, property damage, and malicious prosecution.
  • Los Angeles, California: A banking executive has filed a lawsuit for $50 million against the LAPD. He says he was badly beaten and then illegally detained.
  • Charleston, South Caroline: An officer fatally shot and killed the mayor last year. A Charleston attorney has filed suit against the officer on the mayor’s behalf. Records from the state’s Criminal Justice Academy reveals the officer’s character had been in question with several law enforcement agencies with which he had been previously employed. He’s worked for seven agencies in the last 11 years.


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