Thursday, April 23, 2015

Land of the Free?

With over 3 million persons incarcerated and that does not include the thousands that are on lifetime probation or have been convicted of gross misdemeanors and are not serving time but have paid millions in fees, those whose property were seized without evidence of a crime committed and the endless persecution of individuals who we just don't like.

The New York Times the other day had a cover story that 1.5 million black men are missing. This is either by incarceration or by early death. These are lives that could have been productive, payed taxes, built communities, businesses and helped families stay off of public assistance, aided in raising children and in turn cost the states less not more by building up rather than taking down.

Then this week the reign of terror never ceases to amaze with the shootings, the deaths and the varying assaults by Police Officers or acting Police in pursuit of supposed crime.

We have the Volunteer Cop who mistook a gun for a taser. (Who will still be vacationing in the Bahamas to unwind after such stress)

The 2nd Cop (who was black) in the Walter Scott shooting.. and what was his role other than stand there apparently.

Fatal Shot in Queens naturally supposedly cause he fired first

Cop not guilty for Manslaughter. Again this seems to be a reflection of how he was charged much like the Menendez/Martin case in Florida where the Prosecutor obscures the charge by downgrading it or muddying it..which they don't if you are a member of the great unwashed.

The death of Freddie Gray by a spinal cord injury that occurred out of camera and apparently by accident, the fault yet undetermined.

Cop free on Bond after another traffic stop gone wrong.

Settlement for man shot in his doorway by Police

Don't Judge! The man's name ironically Shepard, for now he shall not walk.

Hey the kid got in the way of my fists.

Cheesecake photos taken by cop, shame she was dead while doing so.

By the way Chicago has quite the history of police violence so hey what else is new.

Smile, you're on Candid Camera.

Hey it's a dirty job someone has to do it. Good thing he was back he needed to kill some more

But this goes back, way back. Ah the 70s when all this truly began in earnest.

And the exoneration's and judicial overturning sentences are still continuing. The most recent today from the snitch file and of course the misconduct that accompanies it. Well as my mother used to say, hang around with trash long enough you start to smell like it. Maybe that is why Cops and Prosecutors are such fucking douches, they can't disassociate.

This is from Open File... and the last sentence says all I can say about this subject.

Are we the land of the free or it is all just a temporary state of mind?

GA: Murder Conviction Overturned in Classic Abuse of Jailhouse Informant SystemBy alec - April 23, 2015
Open File

In a classic example of the abuse of jailhouse informant testimony, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that the Georgia Supreme Court has overturned the 2007 arson and felony-murder convictions of a Haralson County man.

Justin Chapman was charged with setting a fire at his duplex in Bremen, a fire in which an elderly neighbor died, supposedly in retaliation for his landlady telling him he had to move. The main witness against Chapman was Joseph White, who shared a jail cell with Chapman in the days immediately following his arrest.
At trial, White testified that Chapman had confessed to him about setting the fire. He also testified that he had neither sought nor received any deal for leniency from the prosecutor on the charges he himself was facing.

But as the court’s decision makes abundantly clear, this was a lie. “It is uncontroverted that at the time White testified, several items of favorable evidence in the State’s possession had not been disclosed to the defense.” The first item was a “a video recording of an interview…between White and the district attorney who prosecuted the case” in which they discussed White’s “seeking assistance” with his case.
Such a clear Brady/Giglio violation is depressingly familiar enough, but the prosecutor went still further. White had told him that another man, William Liner, had also been in the jail cell and could corroborate that Chapman had confessed to the arson.

A few days before Chapman’s trial was set to commence, the prosecutor went to interview Liner…Liner told the prosecutor he never heard Chapman confess. In addition, Liner had knowledge that White was actively seeking help with his then-pending charges. In response to these revelations, the prosecutor cancelled the order requiring Liner’s production at trial and Liner never testified. The prosecutor never disclosed Liner’s statements to the defense. Because Liner’s statement’s would have contradicted White’s testimony that Chapman confessed and that other people heard Chapman confess, and would have contradicted White’s testimony that he was not seeking help with his charges, the defense was denied the opportunity to impeach White.
And yet still, this was not enough. Completing a small trifecta of suppression, the prosecutor (unnamed in the opinion), engaged in another sleight-of-hand with important documentary evidence.

White had written a letter to his pastor describing Chapman’s confession, a letter the pastor was to give to the prosecutor. It was accompanied by a cover letter. On the second page of the cover letter, White advised his pastor to “hold off on giving my statement to police. I want to see what’s going on for a few days.” The prosecutor did in fact disclose the letter and the cover letter to the defense during discovery. But he removed the second page.

This evidence [the comment on the second page] contradicted White’s trial testimony that he went to police immediately with details about the arson, as well as undermined his testimony that he was not seeking help from authorities with his own charges.

Trying to cover his tracks, once at trial, the prosecutor “admitted the original document, containing both pages of the cover letter; but he proffered it through the testimony of an investigative officer after White’s trial testimony and after White had been released from his trial subpoena. Defense counsel assumed the document admitted at trial was the same document that had been produced to her via fax and did not closely examine the trial exhibit.”

In sum, then, the state in this case solicited the lies of a jailhouse informant on the stand; suppressed a witness who would have contradicted that informant; and hid documentary evidence that the informant was lying about the sequence of events leading to his testimony.

The court’s decision in this case is a mere seven pages. It contains no broad statements of principal, no high rhetorical condemnation of the prosecutor or the corrupt system of jailhouse informants. In fact, it contains no condemnation at all. Not even a chastisement. It recites the facts, states the Brady standard, and applies it in a more or less mechanical fashion.

The fact that the state of Georgia violated a citizen’s constitutional rights and held him in prison for eight years as a result of a prosecutor’s apparently deliberate effort to cheat him of a fair trial through a broken means of trying suspects is treated as an essentially ministerial matter.
The court here is not unusual in this reticence. When the tiny number of Brady violations that are actually litigated, much less held to be material, are recorded in written decisions, this is most often how they are treated–as part of the system, regrettable perhaps, but ordinary. This is evidenced as much by what courts don’t say as what they do.

In trying to increase accountability for prosecutors, we often highlight the decisions that do contain those broad statements and condemnations because they help sound the alarm about the prosecutorial misconduct that 9th Circuit Judge Kozinski has now famously described as an “epidemic.”

But it is worth remembering just how routine what we discuss here is. The violations are utterly commonplace. The judicial review of them is rare. Decisions in favor of the defendant are rarer still. And even when these come, they are most often couched in language as bland as that used in a case of statutory interpretation. It is but one instance of the larger tyranny of abstraction that runs through the criminal law.

It is the normalcy of all this that must end.

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