Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dad's Gone Wild Or Justifiable Parenting?

It is becoming increasingly more difficult to be a dad. Sometimes doing the right thing is not as clear as perhaps it was a few years ago. We know that a parent can go to far in protecting their child. LINK. A more recent example, a San Jose, California police officer is under investigation after he allegedly handcuffed the 15-year-old boyfriend of his 14 year-old stepdaughter because he allegedly had sex with her. The father was off-duty when he appeared at the teenager's home in full uniform. "A cop's daughter is not somebody you mess around with," the officer allegedly told the teen. (So far apparently a true statement.) Next he allegedly said, "the district attorney will probably file charges." (Apparently not a true statement due to the closeness in age of the alleged perpetrator and the alleged victim. However, both teens may be cited for underage sex according to Mercury News. So, perhaps still true.)

After removing the handcuffs, the officer admitted to the boy's parents that he just wanted to scare the youth. Apparently the incident was recorded by cell phone. San Jose Mercury News.
Attorney Terry Bowman, told local reporters that his client was doing the boy's parents a favor so he "doesn't continue to go down the wrong path." Apparently the boy's parents disagree since they reported the incident to internal affairs. The officer has been put on administrative leave pending the investigation.

Tony Boskovich, an attorney representing the boy's family, questioned, "What right does he have to use his uniform, his gun, his handcuffs if all he is is a dad?" http://www.msnbc.msn.com/. Probably none, Tony. But query, just what is a father to do when he feels his child is being victimized? Certainly not to beat the teen like might have happened in past generations. Nor can a dad apparently use threatening words as illustrated below with James Jones' mistake.

James Jones was the father who went onto a school bus and threatened to hurt the school bullies that were harassing his special needs daughter. After the incident was caught on video, school officials contacted the law enforcement. Jones was arrested. Jones apologized for his actions and admitted it was the wrong thing to do. But this father snapped because, "My daughter is not going to be hazed and beat up and touched on like what they've done, okay." Jones' attorney, Sadiki Alexander, said the father of two was simply trying to protect his child. Jones later went on t.v. and advocated that a better way to handle the problem would have been to work with the school authorities to stop the harassment. While police investigate the alleged 7th grade bullies, are they free to scare them straight or must it be all fluff and pampering?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Real Life Murder Mysteries V. Novels

On a recent auto trip I had occasion to listen to an audiotape reading of "To Kill A Mocking Bird" which is classified as one of the best books of all time. It caused me to ponder whether real life murder mysteries such as April Tinsley, Haleigh Cummings, and Caylee Anthony are simply not entertaining enough for some folks. Apparently in a search to avoid boredom, some readers apparently turn to murder mystery novels. First as a law student and then as a lawyer required to consume large volumes of verbose briefs and legal submissions, it is easy to appreciate the need to be efficient in selecting what to read in one's leisure. To help aid readers in efficiently finding some good books, Law Enforcement Schools has an article entitled "10 Good Murder Mysteries to get Your Hands On." The list can be found at this LINK.
Please feel free to share other novels that you recommend in the comments. As the first donation to the list, I suggest reading the murder story described in the "Good Book" pictured above!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A New Criminal Defense Of Caffeine Induced Insanity?

Play the insanity card! Play the race card! But play the caffeine intoxication card? Now I've seen everything. Woody Will Smith, a 33 year-old Kentucky man, is on trial for murder. Woody, a father of two, is accused of murdering his wife, Amanda, in 2009. His defense? He was so jacked up on caffeine (coffee, diet pills and energy drinks) that he was too insane to have consciously, intentionally strangled his wife. Smith claims he was delusional from chronic insomnia and fear that his wife would leave him.

Defense expert Dr. Robert Noelker indicates that the defendant dropped his children off at school "in a daze." Dr. Noelker opines: "It is my opinion that this disorder was the direct result of psychosis due to severe insomnia." Associated Press.

The American Psychiatric Association classifies a caffeine overdose as an excess of 300 milligrams -- around nine cans of Coke, four Red Bulls or three Starbucks tazo chai lattes. Mayo Clinic's. Smith allegedly consumed 400 mg of caffeine on the day of the murder. However, the state claims that blood tests do not support the defense. This is not much different than Dan White's claims that a junk food consumption was evidence of his depression which was to blame for his 1978 assassination of California politician Harvey Milk. (See HBO movie.) In 2009 Daniel Noble blamed a caffeine high in successfully defending a claim that he intentionally ran down several pedestrians in his car

Can a caffeine high lead to temporary insanity? While I have not asked him, I suspect that toxicologists like Richard Church would opine that one is more likely to vomit than become a homicidal maniac from an extra cup of coffee or two.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Judge Thomas Porteous Jr. Faces Impeachment In the Senate

Judges are not beyond scrutiny. Nor are they beyond making mistake. They are suppose to be beyond corruption and lying under oath. Today, the U.S. Senate begins the impeachment trial of federal judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr. The judge is accused of corruption, accepting kick backs and lying about his past to the Senate and FBI regarding his nomination. Some say the judge is getting screwed. Others say he is not. Keep in mind, this is the first impeachment trial since President Bill Clinton's trial in 1999. (And we all know how that one turned out.. oral sex is not sex.)

In March, the House of Representatives voted unanimously to impeach Porteous. Porteous is the nation's 15th federal judge to be impeached. Porteous is accused of "intentionally made material false statements and representations under penalty of perjury, engaged in a corrupt kickback scheme, solicited and accepted unlawful gifts, and intentionally misled the Senate during his confirmation proceedings." According to U. S. Rep Adam Schiff, the House investigation "... found that Judge Porteous participated in a pattern of corrupt conduct for years."

Previously, Porteous' lawyer Richard W. Westling said the Justice Department had decided not to prosecute because it did not have credible evidence. The House, however, has decided otherwise. No criminal charges are pending. Among the issues the Senate must address is whether the judge failed to recuse himself from a case he was involved in and whether he made false and misleading statements, including concealing debts and gambling losses.

Porteous, 63, has not been on the bench since he was suspended with pay in the fall of 2008.Impeachment of judges is not unprecedented. Last year, Judge Samuel B. Kent of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas resigned after being impeached on charges of sexual assault, obstructing and impeding an official proceeding and making false and misleading statements. The Senate, sitting as a court of impeachment, dismissed the articles.
In 1989, Judge Walter L. Nixon of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi was impeached on charges of perjury before a federal grand jury. The Senate convicted him and removed him from office. What will happen to Porteous? Presumably justice and not a new definition for "failing to tell the truth."
9-23-10 Update: It is hard not to love Kate. She is always very complimentary of Legal Pub articles and the comments. Here is Kate's recent comment along with a links to some interesting opinions on Judge Porteous, Jr.
"Hi Legal Pub guys, I just saw your post about Judge Thomas Porteous’ Senate impeachment trial. I agree with you in that corrupt conduct should not be tolerated in office if the general public ever hopes to get a fair trial. Thanks for pointing out his debts and gambling losses--I hadn’t heard that, and it seems that not too many people are talking that up in the media. I wonder how much his personal life was affecting his ability to do his federal job. I wanted to share a video with you from Newsy.com that I thought you might find relevant to your post. It takes a look at much of the recent coverage from multiple sources regarding the Porteous case. However, it also raises the question about whether the trial is just the Senate’s attempt to save face because of their previous knowledge of the allegations, or if it’s true purpose is to serve justice: LINK.
I think that you and your readers will find this very relevant and hope you might consider embedding this video in your blog. Thanks so much for your time. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments."
Update 12-8-10: U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr. was found guilty on four articles of impeachment by the U.S. Senate. He was thereby removed from his lifetime appointment to the federal bench in Louisiana. Impeachment also denies him the right to recieve a federal pension. Porteous, 63, is the eighth judge in American history to be removed from office by the Senate.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Peterson's Remains Identified!

Headlines streamed across the prompter that Peterson's body had been positively identified. An instant, but incorrect thought, was that it was the body of Stacy Peterson. But it wasn't. It was Patricia Peterson, a 24 year old Mesa woman, who went missing nearly four years ago. Patricia Peterson is believed to be one of more than 500 victims in a series of unsolved highway serial murders.Patricia disappeared in November 2006 after being seen hitchhiking at a truck stop in Tulsa, Okla. In 2009, skeletal remains were found along I-40 near Lupton, Ariz.The victim had no identification and was listed as a "Jane Doe." The medical examiner concluded that the woman had been beaten to death. KPHO News

Only last month was a positive identification made by DNA. No suspects or people of interest have been named.The FBI has taken over the investigation into Peterson's homicide. The Oklahoma Bureau of Investigation suspected murdered women's bodies were being dumped along the Interstate 40 corridor in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and Mississippi during the past 30 years. Not even the radical Drew Peterson haters can try to blame Drew for those cases...
Update 9-13-10: Drew Peterson coverage can be found at: http://legalpublication.blogspot.com/2008/05/legal-pub-is-firm-believer-in-our.html

Friday, September 3, 2010

Crime Does Not Pay! ~Legal Eagle 7

Todd Jensen has written an article about ten criminals who can't be all that bright. It is a good read at: http://www.forensiccolleges.net/blog/2010/10-criminals-dumber-than-the-crime/

A favorite story involves Jeff Rarey. For those of you with Alzheimer's disease or simply experiencing a senior moment, Rarey is the 54 year old genius who told security at Indianapolis Airport that he had “a big bomb in his belly.” Rarey was not referring to a real bomb. He was joking about a Cinnabon and pizza he had eaten. But unlike the staff of Legal Pub, Indianapolis security didn’t think it was too funny. Jeff Rarey was arrested on a charge of false reporting. We all hope you enjoy the link.