Thursday, July 31, 2008

Did Anthony Hopkins Stash His Wife Arletha In a Freezer?

Forgiveness. What does it mean? Is it enough to preach the concept? Can salvation occur only through belief or do actions really count? Anthony Hopkins, 37, is a preacher. Recently he was removed by authorities from a revival service in Jackson, Alabama, as he preached "forgiveness." Out of courtesy, police apparently waited until most of the prayers were concluded before they busted the "Rev" as he is referred to by friends and neighbors.

What are the allegations? Hopkins has been charged with murder and incest.The incest charge relates to an allegation of sexual abuse made by a relative. The murder charge arises from the discovery of a woman's body believed to be Hopkin's wife. The body was found in Hopkin's freezer. Hopkin's wife Arletha was a mother of eight (six of them Hopkin's children.) Although no one apparently reported her missing, Arletha had not been seen for about three years.
Apparently, Beverly Jackson (pastor of the Inspirational Tabernacle Church of God in Christ) told reporters that Hopkins claimed that he was a single parent and that his wife had died in childbirth. The results of forensic tests to determine the cause of Arletha's death are not yet known so theoretically that could be true. (Legal Pub cautions, that until there is conclusive evidence to the contrary, it remains possible that Arletha died from causes other than murder.)
Anthony Hopkins is being held in a Mobile County jail awaiting a bond hearing and appointment of an attorney. The children range in age from 3 to 19. At this point, the children have been placed into protective custody by the Department of Human Resources.
Keep in mind, all suspects are to be presumed innocent until otherwise proven guilty.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Female Soldiers Dying Outside the Line of Fire

Edgar Patino is accused of killing Spc. Megan Lynn Touma. Megan, 23, was found dead in a hotel near Fort Bragg. Megan was seven-months pregnant at the time. She was a five-year veteran of the Army. She was stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina at the time of her death. Touma and Patino had previously been stationed together in Germany. Supposedly Patino proposed to Touma in Germany prior to Touma learning that Patino was still married. (This allegation remains unverified and should be considered a rumor at this point in time.)

Touma is the second female soldier from Fort Bragg to die suspiciously. Army 2nd Lt. Holley Wimunc was killed in early July. Her apartment was burned on July 10 and her body found nearby. Her husband, Marine Cpl. John Wimunc was charged with arson and first degree murder. Another Marine, Lance Cpl. Kyle Alden, was charged with arson and felony accessory after the fact to first-degree murder.

Keep in mind that all suspects are innocent unless otherwise proven guilty. Allegations are not necessarily facts. Stay tuned on these stories as they are subject to change.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Jim David Adkisson Discharges Shotgun During Children's Musical In Church. But Why?

It is dangerous to always have to be right. For that matter, it is dangerous to be too far left or right on any subject matter. Take a case in point. Jim David Adkisson supposedly told police that all liberals should be killed. He also apparently admitted killing Linda Kraeger, 61 and Greg McKendry, 60. McKendry, an usher, tried to shield others from the 12 gauge shotgun. Also wounded were Joe Barnhart, Jack Barnhart and Betty Barnhart.

So who is this man? Adkisson is a 58 year old who lived in Powell, Tennessee. Adkisson was having difficulty finding employment. The man apparently had a degree in mechanical engineering yet last worked in 2006 as a truck driver. Adkisson apparently had been divorced from his fourth wife for several years. In 2000 he had allegedly threatened his wife Liza. However, other than two driving under the influence of alcohol charges, Adkisson appears to have no criminal record.

So, what set this man off? Adkisson had recently been notified that his food stamp allotment was about to be reduced by the the state. So, perhaps it was out of desperate frustration, that Adkisson walked into a church's sanctuary during a children's musical performance of Annie and opened fire with a shotgun. Was it hatred? Adkisson wasn't a member of the church, but if convicted of first degree murder, he will become a member of the incarcerated murder's club. While incarcerated, he may have trouble finding others who share the believe that liberals should be killed because they are ruining the country. Ironically, Adkisson apparently believed that Democrats had tied our country's hands in the war on terror. Yet, he himself apparently inflicted terror on innocent adults and children.

Adkisson note reflected hatred for gays and what he called the liberal movement. The church in question welcomed gays as part of its outreach and welcoming programs. The church's web site reflects that the church has worked for social change -- including desegregation, women's rights and gay rights.

Adkisson once was a member of 101st Airborne Division. His service began in 1974. He was released from active duty in 1977 and discharged in 1980. He served as a helicopter repairman. Neighbors described Adkisson as a nice guy. His landlord described him as a good tenant. Now he is a tenant of the local jail with a $1 million dollar bail.

Legal Pub Cautions that all suspects are innocent until proven guilty!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Iowa Revisits Art v. Profanity Issue in Judge Timothy O'Grady's Court Room

During a week when reunions are a common theme, Legal Pub revisits the controversial topic of art v. pornography. Recently, a small town in the State of Iowa has become a focal point in the controversy. Iowa's state's public indecent law prohibits strip clubs but allows nude dancing at "art centers." In the town of Hamburg, population 1,200, District Judge Timothy O'Grady entertained oral arguments in July of 2008 involving an art center which has nude models. The case is currently under advisement.

What makes the case even more interesting is that a 17-year-old niece of Sheriff Steven MacDonald removed her clothing at "Shotgun Geniez" in Hamburg. Owner Clarence Judy was subsequently charged with violating Iowa's indecent exposure law. The defense argues that state law prohibiting nudity does not apply to a "theater, concert hall, art center, museum, or similar establishments" devoted to the arts. Since dance is an art, like sculptures or paintings, it is protected. Clarence's club is arguably a place where people can exercise their artistic tendencies and literally perform argues Clarence Judy's lawyer, Michael Murphy. Is it art? Murphy says the club has a gallery selling collectible posters and other art. The club provided customers with sketch pads. (Does it encourage freehand expression of ones talents?)
Fremont County Attorney Margaret Johnson, strongly disagrees that this club is engaged in protected activity. She argues that this is a case involving a naked, underage girl. Clarence Judy counters that you have to be 18 to be in the club. He claims that the 17 year old sneaked into the establishment.

The prosecution argues that the exceptions to the state law was intended to allow movies to have brief nudity and to allow art galleries the freedom to display paintings or sculptures involving nudes. A 1998 case involving the Southern Comfort Free Theatre for the Performing Arts in Davenport, Iowa declared nude dancing to be "art." But Judge O'Grady will not be bound by that case as precedent. He will decide the current case on the facts and his interpretation of the law. Regardless of how Judge O'Grady rules, the case will probably end up in the Iowa Supreme Court because a definitive high court ruling would give guidance to clubs throughout the state. In a day and age when murder investigations have become too common place, it is not surprising that so many of the male Legal Eagles offered to go to Iowa to investigate these clubs.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bubba May Have Shot The Juke Box; But Keith Walendowski Blasted His Lawn Mower ~by Legal Pub

Yesterday we shared the passing of Randy Pausch. LINK For the friends and family that kept Legal Pub as one of the top sources as to Randy's accomplishments and struggle against pancreatic cancer, thank you. Today we bring you the levity out of Milwaukee that Randy would have advocated. Keith Walendowski is a 56 year old man who may have a point despite making a mistake. He got upset that his lawn mower would not start, so he shot it. No one was hurt, the lawn mower was not hospitalized, and it did not file charges. Yet Keith finds himself charged with felony possession of a short-barreled shotgun (or perhaps a rifle.) Furthermore, Keith is charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct while armed. At first blush, a misdemeanor may be in order, but a felony?
Pleadings reveal Walendowski was upset because his Lawn Boy wouldn't start. So he blasted it. Who has not had such a thought cross their mind when a machine frustrates its owner? Who among us has not hit a malfunctioning machine with our hand or tool? Explained Walendowski, "I can do that, it's my lawn mower and my yard so I can shoot it if I want." Apparently not.

Here is the worst part of the story. Who complained? A woman who lives at Walendowski's residence reported the incident to police. Why? She apparently was intoxicated. As a result of her drunken judgment and Walendowski's apparent temper tantrum, Keith may be fined up to $11,000 and imprisoned for more than six years if convicted. That is a heck of a penalty for one moment of bad judgment associated with machine rage.
Now before Legal Pub is inundated with emails about being too soft on crime, consider the following: One, possessing illegal firearms is never to be condoned. Yet how short the barrel was is not known. Furthermore, it is not clear Keith knew the barrel was too short. Do you know the minimum length of a barrel in your state? Second, Keith apparently does not have a criminal record that has been made public. Thus, a felony charge seems harsh. Third, does the crime require mens rea (intent?) From Keith's comments to the press, it is clear he did not intend to violate any law. While ignorance may not be an excuse, in this case it is pretty clear that Keith felt this was his property and he should be able to do with it what he pleases as long as he does not hurt any one else. Keep in mind. It's Keith's yard, Keith' mower and no one was endangered by his actions.
More facts need to be discovered. However, if Keith does not have a prior record, a felony conviction seems excessive. Probation and anger management may be in order, but abuse of a machine should not be treated the same as abuse of a person or animal in our limited view peering into the window of Wisconsin justice. Have a great weekend and remember, treat your machines well. It is hot out there and they deserve our love and affection.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Did Demetris McCoy and Vanswan Polty Not Only Violate the Law of the State, But Also Violate the Laws of Common Sense?

Children are our future. We must treat them well and let them lead the way to a brighter future. This future does not include clouding our youth's vision with marijuana before they can ride a two wheeler. Demetris McCoy, 18, was convicted and sentenced for encouraging his two and four year old nephews to smoke marijuana. Even more incredibly stupid is the fact that he did so on video. Demetris McCoy has been sentenced to 8 years in prison based on two charges of injury to a child/causing bodily injury. McCoy has also agreed to testify against his co-defendant, Vanswan Polty, age 19.

Just how idiotic were these two young men? The video captures one teen lighting a marijuana cigarette in the 2-year-old's mouth. The toddler is then told to pass it to his brother. Drug tests revealed both marijuana and cocaine in the toddlers. The mother, who was sleeping at the time, was not arrested. Since this incident, the children have been placed in foster care.

Jail time? McCoy also pleaded guilty to two burglary charges. His eight-year sentences for those offenses will served at the same time. Vanswan Polty is charged with two counts of injury to a child, three charges of burglary and one charge of failing to identify himself to a police. Polty remains in jail pending trial.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Does Aaron Mohanlal Serve As An Example of A Break Down In The System?

Sometimes, the system breaks down. Don't get me wrong, for over 200 years our system of justice has demonstrated it is second to none. But every once in a while, something just does not seem right. For example, Aaron Mohanlal, a South Florida middle school art teacher, apparently forced a boy to have sex in a classroom supply closet, yet he has not had any prison time. (Mohanlal is out on bond.)
Allegedly, Aaron Mohanlal would allegedly sometimes take the seventh grade boy to his home for sex. To keep the boy quiet, Mohanlal supposedly bought the 13-year-old a cell phone. When the teacher was arrested, hidden video allegedly shows the teacher attempting to destroy threatening letters. A Broward County jury convicted Mohanlal of 13 counts, including child abuse, molestation and lewd battery. Mohanlal was sentenced him to 43 years. Nevertheless, a year later, Mohanlal is still out on bond while his case is on appeal pursuant to the order of Broward Circuit Judge Marc Gold.
According to CNN, while out of jail on bond Mohanlal has been allowed to work a construction job. (He resigned from teaching in 2005 after his arrest. ) While Mohanlal's address is on the state's sex offender registry, that is little counselation to the victim and his family.
Mohanlal's appellate attorney is Tom Odom. His client currently enjoys the right to live, work, travel and attend church in South Florida. Mohanlal only restrictions appear to be a GPS device, registration as a sex offender and the surrendering of his passport. Mohanlal also cannot contact the boy or his family. Mohanlal posted $610,000 bond according to legal documents.

Post-conviction bonds are rare. However, they are sometimes granted if there was a procedural error during trial. No such procedural errors are known, but anything is possible. In the absence of a conviction for murder or sexual battery, Florida defendants without prior felonies are eligible for post-conviction bond. It just is very rare that it be granted without a suspected procedural error. (Mohanal was convicted of second- and third-degree felonies.)

Does it seem like a break down in the system? Yes. He has already been convicted. Barring a procedural error likely to warrant reversal, Mohanlal ought to be a guest of the Florida penal system in our view.
Update 7-25-08: Think Legal Pub is not well read? Guess again. One can't help that between CNN and Legal Pub, the word of justice gets out. Yesterday, the Broward County prosecutor filed a motion to reconsider the $610,000 bond. If granted, Mohanlal will be brought back into custody.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Legal Pub Cautions Not to Rush To Judgment Concerning Casey Anthony Update 7-5-11 Verdict! Not Guilty of Murder...

Two year-old Caylee Marie Anthony (pictured in the photograph to the left courtesy of ABC) has been missing for a month. Was she murdered? Legal Pub has delayed covering this story and cautions others not to rush to judgment. While Caylee's mom, Casey Anthony may face charges of lying to investigators, she may be trying to protect someone or perhaps she is in a state of denial as a result of psychological trauma. Furthermore, there is the possibility that she is innocent. Circuit Court Judge Stan Strickland set bond for Casey at $500,000. The bond seems extreme and appears to be a reaction to cadaver dogs indicating the probable presence of human decomposition in Anthony's yard and car. (Legal Pub again cautions that such evidence is not always right and even if it turns out to be true, that does not mean Casey murdered her daughter. The child could have died as a result of an accident. Another possibility is that Casey is covering for someone else) Judge Strictland recently stated that, "...the truth and Ms. Anthony are strangers." Even if true, that does not mean Casey murdered her daughter.

What are the charges against Casey? To date, Casey is only charged with child neglect, making false official statements and obstructing a criminal investigation. While it sounds bad for Casey, not all the facts are known and Caylee's grandmother apparently still has hope that her grand daughter will turn up alive.

So why is Casey a person of interest? First, apparently she did not report the girl missing until last week. Second, deputies allegedly smelled decomposition in her trunk. Third, a cadaver-trained German Shepherd apparently detected the smell of human remains in her yard and in her trunk. Fourth, authorities claim there was a stain, dirt and possibly a piece of Caylee's hair in the trunk.

So what did Casey allegedly lie about? It is some times hard to know in these cases where the deception begins and ends. Casey's car was towed from a check-cashing business where it had been parked for days. Casey and Caylee lived with Caylee's grandparents. Apparently Casey and Caylee were away from the home for several days before Caylee was reported missing. Casey erroneously claimed to authorities that she worked at an amusement park. Further investigation leads authorities to believe that she was unemployed. Casey claims that the child had a babysitter. Authorities believe the alleged baby sitter is fictional.

Jose Baez is representing Casey. He requested $10,000 as a reasonable bond given Casey's family's financial situation. Technically, given the current charges, Baez appears to be correct. She is not a proven flight risk and she is not yet charged with a capital offense. More importantly, if Caylee is alive, she has a right to be able to help find her. And, if Casey is trying to protect someone else who was responsible for the crime, it gives Casey the opportunity to do the right thing and turn the person in to authorities.

Legal Eagles, keep watching this one. Something just doesn't seem right on this one. Jose, work hard and discover the truth. To date, the truth is unknown. For the rest of us, let's reserve judgment until all the evidence becomes known and give Casey the benefit of our Constitution and the presumption that she is innocent until otherwise proven guilty.

Update 8-28-08: Casey is out of jail on $50,000 bond. A Tennessee lab has issued a preliminary report that the air samplings in Casey's trunk are consistent with human remains. The prosecution has apparently given Casey until Tuesday of next week to accept a plea agreement for limited immunity or to face additional charges. Keep in mind, Casey is presumed innocent until otherwise proven.

Update 9-12-08: Formal charges have been filed for theft, three counts of fraudulent use of personal identification, three counts of forgery of a check, and three counts of uttering a forged check. Charges arise from $300 in stolen checks from one of Anthony's friends, Amy Huizenga. According to Huizenga, Anthony stole and wrote three of her checks without her permission while Huizenga was in Puerto Rico.

Update 10-3-08: Police previously labeled Anthony -- who authorities said didn't report the 3-year-old child's disappearance until mid-July -- a "person of interest." Casey Anthony has now been officially named as a "suspect."

Update 10-14-08: A Florida grand jury issued a sealed murder indictment in the disappearance of Caylee. An attorney for Casey Anthony said she would turn herself in to authorities if charged.

Update 10-22-08: Attorney, Terence Lenamon, has joined the Casey defense team. You may recall that Terence represented Harrel Franklin Braddy.

Update 12-11-08: Despite numerous alleged sightings of Caylee, the news took a grim turn this morning. Around 9:30 a.m. a utility worker notified authorities that he believes that he discovered the body of a young child. CNN affiliate WFTV reported that the utility worker, a meter reader, picked up a bag at the site and a skull fell out. This is bad news for those of us who hope Caylee is still alive.

Update 12-22-08: The remains have been confirmed by DNA evidence to be Caylee. Duct tape with the skull had hair strands which may be used for analyzing what chemicals Caylee was exposed to. In the mean time, the defense team is questioning why the utility worker who reported a bag called three times and why the Sheriffs department did not do a better job following up on the lead.

Update 4-14-09: Florida state attorney's office announced it will seek the death penalty against Casey Anthony. She is charged with first-degree murder. Trial is set for October. The state previously indicated that it would not ask for the death penalty. There is a question whether Jose Baez can stay on the case because he is
not certified by the court to defend
capital punishment cases. Letter of intent (pdf) In the interim,
the defense is attempting to subpoena phone records from key witnesses in the case.

Update 4-12-10: As 24 year old Casey Anthony sits in jail awaiting trial for homicide, does her jail time conduct get her convicted or establish an insanity defense? Main stream media has reported that the prosecution has secured letters between Casey Anthony and Robyn Adams, another inmate, at a Florida jail which may harm Casey's chance of an acquittal. While the 258 pages of letters do not contain a confession, they do make Casey look bad. But could that be a good thing for the defense? Anthony wrote letters containing negative remarks about her family and about her former boyfriend, Jesse Grund. According to Casey, she was relieved when DNA tests proved he wasn't Caylee's father.

But how did this communication between inmates occur? Anthony is incarcerated at the Orange County Jail under a protective-custody status. This status prohibiting her from directly communicating with other inmates.
This would include a ban on all note passing. The assumption is that a county corrections officer may have helped the women communicate. Orange Circuit Judge Stan Strickland initially delayed publicizing the letters until Anthony's lawyers had time to read them.

In a surprising move, Anthony's lead defense attorney, Jose Baez, said he was not concerned with the letters. One has to wonder why? Do they support the contention that the death was an accidental overdose? If Caylee had used chemicals (possibly chloroform) to sedate Caylee in the past, then is it possible Anthony gave her too much this time? Since intent to kill is an element of the crime, this may set up the possibility of a conviction of a lesser crime than homicide. At this point, that might be considered a great victory for Ms. Anthony.

Update 5-11-10: More bad news for Anthony. Judge Belvin Perry Jr. has ruled that Casey Anthony will face the death penalty. The judge rejected defense arguments that capital punishment was sexist and unduly harsh. The judge also rejected defense arguments that prosecutors were seeking the death penalty in order to bankrupt Anthony's defense.

Update 3-9-11: This week Judge Perry entertained many pretrial motions which may impact the trial. One major issue is whether the prosecution may use Casey Anthony's statements. Casey Anthony's lawyer, Cheney Mason, wants to exclude statements Casey gave to police back in mid-July 2008. They also want to keep statements she gave her parents and brother while she was in jail out of evidence. Defense attorney Cheney Mason argues that the statements can't be used because Casey was never read her Miranda rights.

Apparently, Casey was handcuffed, placed in the back of a patrol vehicle and questioned by police while being driven around all without ever being told she had the right to be quiet and ask for a lawyer. If true, this may be a major mistake by the police. It is hard to argue that Casey was not "in custody" throughout this interview. "She was never informed that she had the right to leave or terminate questioning," argued Mason. Articulate prosecutor, Linda Drane Burdick, emphasized that law enforcement's initial involvement that night was "to help her and her family find her daughter. That's what they were there for. That's what they were doing there." She also argued that a "temporary detention" is "not an arrest."

Judge Perry has the rulings under advisement. The trial is expected to start in May of 2011.

Update 5-10-11: Prospective Casey Anthony jurors are being dismissed one by one inside the Pinellas County courthouse near Tampa, Fla. It may be days before jury selection can be finalized.
Update 5-11-11: Jury selection was again delayed after approximately 50 potential jurors were dismissed for talking about the case in the jury room. One of the potential jurors was apparently on the witness list. WFTV believes the witness was a St. Petersburg woman named Patricia Young. Young was apparently singled out by Judge Belvin Perry as both a witness and potential juror.
Update 5-19-11: After 10 days, 14 potential jurors have been selected. It is getting harder and harder to envision this young lady getting the fair, impartial trial guaranteed by the Constitution.
Update 5-25-11: Jose Baez drops a bombshell in opening statement. He claims Casey's father was watching the child when she accidentally drowned in the pool. He also said Casey is a liar because she was molested by her dad as a child. George, denies any such conduct!
Update 5-31-11: Cindy Anthony testified during the sixth day of testimony concerning the 911 call. Casey had just told her that her 2-year-old granddaughter, Caylee, had been missing for 31 days. There were lots of tears shed in the court room.
Update 6-13-11: Chief Medical Examiner for Orange/Osceola Counties, Dr. Jan Garavaglia, testified that Caylee's death was a homicide. She did not; however, testify as to what was the cause of death. CBS.
Update 6-24-11: Dr. Spitz Woerner, pathologist testified a few days ago that the autopsy was "shoddy" because they did not open the skull. Cindy Anthony testified yesterday that she did the computer searches on chloroform but not those involving snapping a neck.

Update 7-5-11:
Casey Anthony has been found not guilty of murdering her 2-year-old daughter Caylee. The jury declined to convict her of either first degree murder or manslaughter. Casey Anthony was found guilty of four counts of providing false information to law enforcement. Attorney Jose Baez, held Casey Anthony's hand as she cried while the verdict was read. Casey's parents, Cindy and George Anthony, left the courtroom as Judge Belvin Perry read further instructions to the jury. Casey was fingerprinted in the courtroom for her conviction of providing false information to law enforcement. Casey will be sentenced on the guilty counts on Thursday morning. Prosecutor Jeff Ashton, entered the courtroom to roaring applause. He left hanging his head.

At the beginning, Legal Pub cautioned not to rush to judgment. The reason for the early warning was because cases must be decided on evidence, not sympathy, prejudice or innuendo. Jeff Ashton chose to prove that Casey Anthony was a liar and a party animal. He chose to make her look like a bad person. Well he proved his point by winning the battles. Unfortunately, he lost sight of what it takes to prove murder. In hindsight, many commentators will admit that he should never have tried to prove first degree murder. Most believe Caylee's death was an accident. Subsequent coverup, probably. Murder? Not likely.

Update 7-15-11: Casey Anthony will be released on Sunday. Her attorneys are appealing the four lieing to police convictions. In the mean time, a woman who looks like Casey Anthony was unfairly attacked. LINK. It is time for the foolishness to end. Let it go, the prosecutors failed to prove their case. It happens.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Marion Jones Sentence Should Not Be Commmuted For Her Own Good ~ by Legal Pub

Former Olympic track star, Marion Jones, has requested President Bush to commute her six-month prison sentence. She was sentenced to six months for denying under oath that she used performance-enhancing drugs and a cheque-fraud scam. Jones admitted last October that she had lied in November of 2003 about using performance-enhancing drugs. Perhaps more concerning, Jones also admitted that she fibbed when she denied knowing that Tim Montgomery, the father of her son, had been involved in a scheme to cash stolen or forged checks. Commutation of a sentence reduces time served. It is not a pardon which would actually remove the conviction. Her application will be reviewed by the Justice Department, which will make a recommendation to President Bush.
Jone's (pictured above courtesy of the A.P.) achievement of winning three gold and two bronze medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics has been forever tainted. Losing the medals and being disgraced in public is punishment enough for the steroid denial. The cheque -fraud scam; however, may be another story. Jones has been in a Fort Worth, Texas federal prison since March 7. An early release becomes less significant as her projected September release date approaches. Upon her release, Jones must also do 800 hours of community service during the two year period after her release.

Perhaps some fatherly advice is in order. Do your time. Accept your punishment as appropriate for your mistake. An early release is of little positive significance and will only adds to a mountain of negative publicity. Start down a straight path and the American people will likely forgive you for lying about drug use and for trying to protect your former lover. Fail to accept responsibility, and a further downward spiral is likely. The choice is yours. Many of us will be pulling for you to make the right decision.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Did Polygraph Test Costs Lt. Major Garvin His Job? ~by Surfer Dude

So, surfing on the right coast can be hit and miss. During bad times, surfers may have occasion to grab a coffee and rub elbows with the locals finest. Daytona Beach, despite all of its spring time tourism is relatively quiet in the summer months in large thanks to local authorities. How are the cops repaid? Lt. Major Garvin, a 15 year veteran of the Daytona Police Department has been accused of demanding free coffee and tea from a Starbucks. The accusation is that if he did not get such freebies, store employees would receive slower emergency response times. (Could he merely have meant that without caffeine he might accidentally sleep through an emergency call? Now wait, I am serious. I know if I had to work a hoot owl shift, my response time might be delayed without caffeine.) Any way, Garvin is accused of visiting a local Starbucks as many as six times a night. He allegedly cut in front of paying customers and demanded free drinks. (I seriously doubt that a single customer complained. Nevertheless, Lt. Major Garvin was apparently fired because of the accusations.)

According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Garvin recently supposedly failed a polygraph test that he insisted on taking. (Officer, now do you realize why defense attorneys never recommend polygraphs? I say supposedly because I believe such tests are subjective and unreliable. LINK)
Before you all accuse me of turning into an establishment guy (nothing could be further from the truth) I just don't think it is right that this cop get fired for expecting privileges that cops typically get all over the country. Ever hear of job perks? Well, not me because I don't work, but if I did...
(Legal Pub edit: As always, keep in mind Officer Garvin is presumed to be innocent until otherwise proven.)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Bad Day for Crane Industry ~by Legal Pub

In a recent wrongful death case, the surviving husband had a back ground in the crane industry. As plaintiff's case came crumbling to the ground, an actual Mobile crane came crashing down in Houston at an oil refinery. Four workers were killed seven others injured. The massive crane was forty stories tall. It apparently fell on top of a smaller, yellow crane. Three of the injured were apparently treated and released. Two of the injured were flown to Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. Two other injured people were taken by an ambulance to a local hospital.

Who owned the crane? Deep South Crane & Rigging apparently owned or leased the crane. It was 300 feet tall with a 400-foot boom. It is considered one of the largest mobile cranes. Deep South spokeswoman Margaret Landry indicated that they are investigating "to determine the root cause, correct it and ensure that this type of tragedy does not occur again." Crane safety has become a popular topic of discussion in recent months. An alarming number of crane-related accidents have happened in Florida, Miami, New York, and Las Vegas. In fact, two crane accidents have happened in New York since March. Nine people died.

Who is the culprit? One senior citizen suggested to Legal Pub that it was terrorism. Most suggest it is not. According to the A.P. cities and states have wildly varying rules governing construction cranes. Some have no regulations at all. Those without regulation rely on federal guidelines 40 years old. Texas has no state or local regulations. In 2005 to 2006 they apparently had 26 crane-related fatalities. The crane was delivered in pieces and assembled at the refinery last month. East Texas Crane Academy certified crane operators for Lyondell. Cameras mounted around the plant may reveal footage documenting the mechanism of failure.

What about OSHA? OSHA requires cranes to undergo annual inspections. Federal law requires inspection records be kept, but they are not submitted to any reviewing body.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Susan Atkins (Sadie Mae Glutz) Deserves No Special Mercy - by Legal Eagle 3

While Legal Pub is away trying yet another jury trial, the reins of control were turned over to me for a day. So, let's look at Susan Atkins latest appeal for leniency. Atkins is terminally ill. Spare me if I am not sympathetic. She was a follower of Charles Manson who was convicted in the murder of actress Sharon Tate. Atkins appeal for a mercy release was denied yesterday. Am I being too harsh? Atkins is 60 years old. She has brain cancer. (Perhaps this explains her criminal behavior way back when?) Atkins has also lost a leg to amputation. Atkins petitioned for release on the premises that she has less than six months to live.
Eric P. Lampel is Atkins attorney.

For those who can remember, Atkins nickname among Manson followers was Sadie Mae Glutz. Four individuals and Atkins were convicted in connection with five deaths. Should she pass in prison. No. Let her pass in the prison hospital. It will be a more merciful death then the victims of the Manson crimes received.

Update 9-28-09: Susan Atkins recently died. She allegedly murdered Roman Polanski's wife. Polanski was recently arrested in connection with a conviction for having sex with a 13 year old back in 1977.
Oh how time flies.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Do Snakes in Religious Ceremonies Violate the Prohibition Involving Separation of Church and State? ~by Viper

"Snakes on a Plane" was a popular movie. But apparently Gregory James Coot, a pastor, has had some success with "Snakes in Religious Ceremonies. " For those waiting for a movie to come out, you might want to catch the preview on the evening news coming out of Frankfort Kentucky. To be fair, Gregory James Coot was among 10 people charged by wildlife officers for allegedly violating the laws against venomous snake trade.

Supposedly, more than 100 snakes were confiscated in an undercover sting. The majority were apparently taken from Coot's home. Reportedly, Coot's collection included 42 copperheads, 11 timber rattlesnakes, three cottonmouth water moccasins, and a pair of cobras. But is this an example of the Constitutional principal of separation of Church and State? Where does freedom of religion begin and where does it end? Since the beginning of time, snakes have played a role in some fundamentalist churches based on Bible verses saying true believers can take up serpents without being harmed. The problem for Coots is that the practice is illegal in Kentucky.

Coots is not a kid. He is a 36 year old pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name in Middlesboro. This is the same church where a woman apparently died after being bitten by a rattlesnake during a service in 1995. Ironically, her husband died in 1998 by a snake bite in Alabama.
So what are the charges? Charging information contains allegations of buying, selling and possessing illegal reptiles.

So what happens to the snakes? The reptiles are apparently now in the possession of the Kentucky Reptile Zoo.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Christian Phillips Unjustly Accused of Illegal Bakers Dozen? ~by Legal Pub

Some kids just can't win. It is bad enough being a teenager and being punished for the mistakes you actually made. Poor Christian Phillips has apparently wrongfully accused of delivering LSD-laced cookies to a dozen police stations. Lab results confirm that no drugs were present in any of the cookies. Phillips, 18, had been held in jail on $75,000 bond based on a charge of tampering with a consumer product. Lake Worth Police have dropped the charges against Phillips.

How did this mess get started? Christian was arrested Tuesday after police officers apparently thought the container smelled like marijuana . Preliminary tests apparently erroneously detected LSD. Christian Phillips had delivered the cookies on June 27 as part of his community service program.

Did anyone eat the cookies? Apparently four officers ate cookies and their were no reports of sickness or testing positive for drugs.
Was it a huge rush to judgment as Glenn Phillips (Christian's Dad) suggests? Rumor has it that some one may have been smoking marijuana while the baking was being done. Phillips has consistently denied contaminating the cookies. Ironically, Phillips was apparently giving the cookies to police as part of a Mothers Against Drunk Driving community service project.

What is to become of Phillips? He is free. Charges have all been dropped. Phillips graduated from high school in May and plans to attend college.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Was Divorce a Pain in the Neck For Sandeela Kanwal? by A.W.

Divorce tears families apart. Plain and simple. It does not matter if you are rich or poor. It does not matter the color of your skin. While divorce can be devastating, it should be survivable. Unless of course you have a dad like Chaudhry Rashid, then all bets are off. Rashid is a 54 year old father accused of killing his daughter, Sandeela Kanwal. Sandeela was found dead in her suburban Atlanta home with bruising possibly from strangling. Rashid appeared in court Tuesday and through an interpreter was charged with murder. Rashid is represented by attorney Tammi Long. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 24.
Officers found Kanwal dead in an upstairs bedroom of the family's suburban Atlanta home early Sunday, according the Clayton County police report.
Read the police report (PDF)
What possible motive existed for a killing? Apparently, Sandeela Kanwal had recently married in Pakistan. It was an arranged marriage with the husband living in Chicago. Despite the marriage, Kanwal remained living at her father's home near Atlanta. According to police, Sandeela did not want to be married to the man from Chicago. According to police reports, this created conflict between Sandeela and her father.

Girls, being married to a jerk or someone you don't love can be a real pain in the neck. But if you got family members who may fly off the handle, it may be better to live with a pain in the neck then die by strangulation.

Legal Pub Note: All suspects, including Chaudhry Rashid are innocent until proven guilty.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Electric Chair Too Cruel of Punishment For John Lotter So Are Hanging or Lethal Injection a Better Option? ~by Legal Pub

Nebraska used to sentence killers to death by electrocution. A recent February 2008 Supreme Court decision declared death by electrocution to be cruel and unusual punishment. So where does that leave death row inmate John Lotter who was sentenced to death in the electric chair over 10 years ago? the fate of Lotter and nine other men apparently is hanging in limbo.

You may recall that Lotter was convicted of a 1993 triple murder that served as idea for the movie,"Boys Don't Cry." Lotter was convicted of killing Brandon Teena, Lisa Lambert and Phillip DeVine. Supposedly, Lotter and another man had raped Brandon Teena (a transexual.) According to the prosecution, Lotter then later killed Brandon and the others.

Currently, Nebraska's only means of execution (electrocution) has been declared cruel and unusual punishment. Can a convict sentenced to die in the electric chair be executed by lethal injection? Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning apparently believes that they can.
Not surprisingly, Attorneys for the Nebraska Commission on Public Advocacy disagree.

To date, Nebraska's governor, Dave Heineman, hasn't proposed an alternative to electrocution.
In April, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld lethal injection in Kentucky. Other possible but less likely options would include firing squad, hanging and the gas chamber.
The governor has the power to call state senators back for a special session to try to change the law this year. Heineman said that wasn't likely.

Lotter believes lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment. He will not stipulate to a new method of execution. Lotter also continues to proclaim that he is innocent. He apparently claims that Tom Nissen admitted last year to committing the murders alone. Lotter's request for a new trial was denied but is being appealed to Nebraska's Supreme Court.

If death is death, why should it matter whether lethal injection should be used instead of the electric chair?
Update 2-16-10: To comment or update this article further, send comments to and we will post them accordingly.
Update 5-12-10: For those wanting to learn more about the electric chair, you may want to visit: "20 Criminals Executed in The Chair" found at

Friday, July 4, 2008

Viacom Inc.'s Recent Victory Over Google Threatens Freedom of Readers of the Internet?

Google needs to continue to stand up for privacy rights of internet rulers and appeal a recent ruling concerning YouTube.

What ruling? U.S. District Judge Louis L. Stanton recently issued an order which authorizes Plaintiff's in a civil suit (Viacom Inc. and other copyright holders) full access to the YouTube logs. In this suit, Viacom is suing Google Inc. for one billion dollars in damages as they allege that Google has used the Internet to "wilfully infringe" copyrights on Viacom shows such as Sponge Bob and Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with John Stewart."

Why does Viacom Inc. and others want the data? Plaintiffs claim that they needed the data to show that their copyright-protected videos are more heavily watched than amateur clips.

Translation: they want to prove damages and translate that into a monetary award.

What will be produced? The data will include information just short of a user's real name and e-mail address. It will include such information as IP number and location.

What was Googles position? Lawyers for Google Inc., which owns YouTube, argued that the amount of data ordered to be produced (12 terabytes of data) is equivalent to 12 million books. Such a discovery request is unduely burdensome, time consuming, expensive and an invasion of privacy. (Hey Legal Eagles, why should Google Inc not enjoy the same freedoms as the mainstream press? Readers of newspapers and magazines are proprietary interests generally free from discovery so why should Google not have the same rights?)

What is in the database? The database typically includes information on when each video gets played. This information allows a calculation of how often a clip is viewed. Attached to each entry is each viewer's login ID and the IP address (Internet Protocol) for each viewer's computer. (For all practical purposes, this is the equivalent of an individual's name, address, rank and serial number. More information than John McCain gave up as a prisoner of war.)

What was Judge Stanton thinking? The judge decided that plaintiffs had a legitimate need for the information. He decided that this legitimate need outweighed any speculative privacy concern.

Was there any good news in the ruling? Not for viewers of YouTube or readers on the Internet. For Google, the judge did reject the plaintiff's request for Google's proprietary source code. The source code powers the Internet's best search engine. Its algorithms are the back bone of the publicly traded Google. The source code was not ordered to be produced because there was no evidence that Google manipulated its search algorithms to treat copyright-infringing videos differently from noncopyright material.

Besides money, what do the Plaintiff's want?

Viacom apparently claims it does not really want the readers identity information other than to prove its case as to the frequency that its copyright material is viewed. Besides a billion dollars in damages, Viacom apparently wants to dissolve the immunity protection that service providers have when they merely host content submitted by their users. But Google correctly argues that supplying the requested information gives a roadmap to an individual's identity. (Google has a blog entry that says an IP address alone can not really identify an individual user, but most feel that is not correct.)

What more remains to be done? Google has an outstanding request to depose comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert of Viacom's Comedy Central. Google has not yet decided if it is to appeal.

What do you think? Judge Stanton's ruling appears contrary to a 1988 federal law barring the disclosure of specific video materials that subscribers request or obtain. It appears that the Judge has discounted constitutional free-speech rights, including a right to read or view materials anonymously. In many cases, an IP can provide a road map to identifying information such as a last name and a location. While Viacom may not really want the users" identity, the ruling may set bad precedent. Google has previously been ordered to turn over web addresses in a pornography investigation/prosecution. To extend such discovery in civil litigation may pour further fuel on to the civil litigation that threatens this great country.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Nicholas Sheley Charged With Killing Ronald Randall and Suspected of Killing a Total of Eight People? -by J.T. Update 11-27-08

Nicholas Sheley, 28, is in my observation, an animal, if the allegations against him are true. Sheley is accused of beating eight people to death in Missouri and Illinois. Today he appeared in Madison County court in Edwardsville, Illinois. Nicholas Sheley appeared appropriately dressed in what appeared to be a tailor fitted orange jail jumpsuit. Those getting a glimpse of Sheley thought that it was like he was made for his clothing.

Sheley was arrested Tuesday in Granite City, east of St. Louis, Missouri. He was initially held in Granite City on $10 million bail. Watch Sheley being transferred »
Sheley was the top dog at the Granite City jail. (Of course, he was the only dog since he was the sole inmate.) For our legal eagles, the pleadings can be found here: criminal complaint (PDF)

So why might he have done it? Other than being an animal, his violence could be related to his suspected methamphetamine abuse. Or it could just be he wanted to add to his resume which includes a history of arrests and resisting arrest. Ironically, Sheley's apparently gave up without a fight when police arrested him outside a Granite City bar Tuesday night. Sheley is charged with the murder of an elderly man in Whiteside County, Illinois. Sheley faces another charge from Galesburg, Illinois for first-degree murder of, Ronald Randall, a 65-year-old man. Nicholas Sheley appears to be a suspected in six other killings, including that of a child. Six victims in Illinois, two in Missouri. The vicitims all appear to have died from blunt trauma to the head. Sheley apparently has a history of armed violence and resisting arrest.

Sheley also suspected in the death of an Arkansas couple in Festus, Missouri. The couple was in town for a graduation. Sheley is not believed to have had a prior relationship with the couple. Allegedly, Sheley's ex-wife has told authorities that Seley stated, that "... he has more killing to do." I think it unlikely, unless he plans to do his killing in the fashion field, where jail house orange is the current rage.
Update 11-27-08: Follow the link and Katfish has some excellent coverage and has posted the latest motions and orders. KATFISH LINK
Update 11-5-09: Katfish informs us that Nicholas Sheley, the 30 year old Sterling, IL man accused of a June 2008 two-state killing spree, will face trials (to be held in several locations) for the alleged killing spree in the Illinois Department of Corrections. On Friday, October 30, Knox County Circuit Court Judge Stephen Mathers sentenced Sheley to seven years in prison stemming from an incident at the Knox County Jail in April. Sheley was convicted on 3 counts of Aggravated Assault, 1 count of Aggravated Battery and Criminal Damage to Government Property. (Sheley broke apart a metal chair and threw the legs at police and correctional officers.) Sheley also allegedly punched one of them. For full coverage, read KATFISH.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Texting While Driving May Be A Greater Epidemic Then Drunk Driving Or Teachers Sleeping With Students

It is an epidemic. It may be the end of commuting as we know it today. Inflated gas prices? No. Texting! According to Time Magazine, a Nationwide Insurance survey found that 18% of cell phone owners text and drive at the same time! The drivers surveyed were between the ages of 16 and 30. This is the texting generation. YouTube has videos of drivers texting. There are about 600 members of a Facebook group called "I Text Message People While Driving And I Haven't Crashed Yet!" (These cavalier posters are facilitating a civil suit against them when they do crash.)

Texting while driving has been a likely factor in fatal accidents in more than 20 states in 2008. Alaska, Washington, New Jersey, Minnesota and the District of Columbia have laws prohibiting texting while driving. Louisiana's law is expected to be signed by the Governor any day.

But do the laws work? Texting bans are hard to police. Texting is often done with the phone held on drivers' laps. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that North Carolina's cell-phone ban for drivers under 18 did not work. So why expect a texting ban to be followed? In North Carolina, it was thought that cell phone use actually increased or stayed the same after the ban. 100 cell-phone violations were issued in North Carolina to teens in 2007 . Because publicity of the evils of texting and driving may work. After fatal crashes in New York involving text messaging, the public is starting to ask their state officials to do something about it. Perhaps public awareness can become a deterrent.

Education always seems helpful, but with some teachers having affairs with students, perhaps that would create an even greater distraction. But the teacher- student problems in Tampa are a discussion for another day.

Experts on the subject do not think teachers sleeping with students is an epidemic but reporting of such crimes is on the rise. From the smiles on the faces of some of the 17 year old victims, one may suspect that reporting of the crime has become a method of bragging in some cases.
Update 7-29-09: Texting increases the risk of an accident by over 20 times!

Update 5-14-11: As of 7-1-11, Indiana joins the other 32 states that have banned texting while driving. Cal, Conn, Md, N.J., NY, Ore, Wash. D.C. and the Virgin Islands prohibit all cell phone use while driving. Keep in mind, all states punish distracted driving. Be careful!