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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Justice Department Boosts Activity To Police The Police

Justice Department boosts activity to police the police
The Washington Post by Jerry Markon - September 17, 2011

The Obama administration is ramping up civil rights enforcement against local police nationwide, opening a number of investigations to determine whether officers are guilty of brutality or discrimination against Hispanics and other minorities. In recent months, the Justice Department has begun inquiries into major city police departments such as Portland, Ore., where officers shot several people who had mental health issues, and Seattle, where police were accused of gunning down a homeless Native American woodcarver. The department issued a scathing report earlier this month accusing Puerto Rico police of a “staggering level of crime and corruption.’’ All told, Justice’s Civil Rights Division is conducting 17 probes of police and sheriff departments — the largest number in its 54-year history. The investigations are civil, meaning they will not lead to criminal charges, but can result in court-enforced reforms. The federal effort, part of the administration’s heightened enforcement of civil rights laws, has won praise from advocacy groups and experts on police brutality. “This is long overdue,’’ said Deborah J. Vagins, senior legislative counsel for the ACLU’s Washington legislative office. “The Bush administration beyond dropped the ball. These are some of the most egregious situations, places where we have killings committed by officers.’’

While many localities have welcomed the federal inquiries, others complain they are duplicating the work of civilian review boards, and can end up costing the jurisdictions millions of dollars if monitoring is ordered. Two of the departments under review have resisted, forcing the government to sue to gain access to documents or to interview deputies. Among those is Maricopa County, Ariz., led by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose department is under investigation for allegedly discriminating against Hispanic inmates and motorists. The sheriff’s office in Alamance County, N.C., is still battling the Justice Department in court and has accused it of having political motives. “We have no idea what the allegations are because they won’t tell us,’’ said Randy Jones, a sheriff’s office spokesman. “They need to be upfront and professional, and we haven’t seen that . . . it seems like they’re trying to find something, and there’s nothing there.’’ Justice officials, who have said they are exploring whether Alamance deputies discriminated against Hispanics, say police investigations are a key part of their effort to revitalize the Civil Rights Division. It had suffered a mass exodus of lawyers amid conclusions by internal watchdogs that hiring was politicized in the Bush administration.

Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for civil rights, said the investigations into local police are “really a cornerstone of our work.” He was speaking to reporters about the report on Puerto Rico, which accused officers of widespread brutality, unconstitutional arrests and targeting people of Dominican descent. That followed a Justice Department report in March that said the New Orleans Police Department repeatedly violated constitutional rights by using excessive force, illegally arresting people and targeting black and gay residents. “When police officers cross the line, they need to be held accountable,’’ Perez said. “Criminal prosecutions alone will not change the culture of a department.’’ Experts say it is unclear if police brutality is increasing or just more likely to be exposed, though Justice officials say factors such as the economy and weaknesses in the mental health system are leading to more potentially dangerous encounters with civilians. “There’s no way to measure it,’’ said Samuel Walker, an expert on police accountability at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, who praised the Obama administration’s crackdown as “a simple issue of justice. The victims are almost entirely people of color.’’ The current investigations cite a 1994 federal law that gave the Civil Rights Division the authority to determine whether departments are engaging in a “pattern or practice” of violating constitutional or federal rights. It was enacted after the videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers. The Obama administration also has amped up criminal enforcement. The Civil Rights Division last year filed a record number of criminal cases, 52, against mostly law enforcement officers for allegedly violating constitutional or legal rights “under color of law.’’ There are about 10,000 police departments nationwide. In the civil probes, lawyers in the division’s Special Litigation Section track potential cases through media reports and by consulting with officers, advocacy groups and citizens. Justice Department officials are focusing on large departments and on securing court-enforced changes to guarantee enduring reforms. “We can’t go everywhere there is a civil rights violation,’’ said one Justice official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not an authorized spokesman. “There are too many places with problems.’’ Among the most expansive probes is in Newark, where the Justice Department announced in May it is investigating allegations including excessive force and discriminatory policing. The ACLU had called for a probe and issued a report documenting 407 alleged cases of police misconduct.

In Suffolk County, N.Y., investigators are probing whether police failed to respond to 911 calls from Hispanics and other non-English speakers. The probe in Portland, launched in June, focuses on allegations of excessive force, especially against people with mental health issues. Last month, the department announced it would investigate whether Los Angles County sheriff’s deputies in two cities conspired with housing officials to discriminate against black families with low-income housing vouchers. Steve Whitmore, a spokesman for the county sheriff’s department, said Justice lawyers did not consult with an independent review board probing similar allegations. He said Sheriff Leroy D. Baca would cooperate, yet questioned whether another investigation is needed “when you have several lawyers of oversight already and budgets are extraordinarily tight.’’ Xochitl Hinojosa, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said the department “strongly supports civilian oversight and internal mechanisms to independently investigate and remedy constitutional violations.’’ She added that in cases “where internal review or civilian oversight has failed to identify and correct a problem, a civil rights investigation may be necessary.” Robert McNeilly, who was police chief in Pittsburgh during a five-year court-approved monitoring period after a Justice Department probe, said “there is some unnecessary alarm about these investigations.’’ “There is no doubt it was an enormous help because dramatic change happened so quickly,’’ said McNeilly, whose former department was accused of excessive force and other violations and released from monitoring in 2002. “It changed the culture of the entire organization,’’ he said. “We became more accountable.’’

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Female Cop Busted In Tryst with Inmate

Female officer busted in Rikers tryst with inmate
The New York Daily News by Joe Kemp - September 21, 2011

A female city correction officer was busted for having sex with a Rikers Island inmate, authorities announced Tuesday. Andrea Buchanan, 30, of Queens, was assigned to the Eric M. Taylor Center, where she had the tryst with a male inmate last month, authorities said. The six-year vet was arrested and hit with charges that include sexual misconduct, forcible touching and official misconduct, officials said. She was suspended without pay from her $76,488-a-year job. "City correction officers should know that inappropriate contact with an inmate jeopardizes their career, and exposes them to arrest and prosecution," said Rose Gill Hearn, commissioner of the city Department of Investigation.

Monday, September 19, 2011

NYPD Cop In Corruption Probe Attempts Suicide

NYPD officer in corruption probe attempts suicide
The Digital Journal by Pierre Waithe - September 17, 2011

A off-duty NYPD officer jumped onto subway tracks in the Bronx and touched the third rail in a failed suicide bid early Wednesday morning. The officer was one of several dozen being investigated by a grand jury in relation to a ticket fixing scandal. New York City police officer Robert McGee, 62, made a suicide attempt shortly before 5 a.m. on Wednesday morning when he jumped onto the train tracks and grabbed the third rail on the No. 1 subway line at the 238th Street station in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. Shortly after his failed electrocution attempt, an officer found McGee at the station with a burned hand. He was taken to North Central Bronx Hospital where he is reportedly in stable condition. McGee's concerned wife, who made the initial 911 call that lead to his discover by police at the train station, described her husband to emergency dispatchers as "suicidal." McGee was supposedly despondent over having to take the stand last week and testify before a grand jury in a corruption probe over the widespread ticket-fixing scandal that has implicated hundreds of officers. He became even more distraught over the possibility he might have to testify against other officers at trial. Police superiors had stripped McGee of his firearm and placed him on modified duty because of fears he may harm himself. McGee is a 30 year veteran of the NYPD and a popular Police Benevolent Association (PBA) delegate for officers working in the 43rd precinct in the Bronx. In a statement to the New York Post, PBA Bronx trustee Joe Anthony further said, "He's our most senior delegate and very respected. He's under a lot of pressure from the job." The PBA is a organization that provides labor and legal counsel to NYPD officers. McGee had also tried to retire from the NYPD recently but was barred from doing so because he was under investigation.

The NYPD's Ticket-Fixing Scandal

The NYPD ticket-fixing scandal involves by some accounts as many as 400 NYPD officers who are alleged to have fixed traffic tickets as favors to family and friends and even some celebrities. Other officers may have accepted bribes to fix traffic tickets. Tickets were allegedly fixed by NYPD officers through the intentional loss of paperwork or by missing court dates. Because a ticket is considered an official municipal government document, altering it in anyway is illegal. Prosecutors with the Bronx District Attorney's Office (DA) and detectives from the NYPD's Internal Affairs division first launched their investigation into the ticket-fixing scandal last year. The probe began with a few police precincts in the Bronx and has only expanded since then. Investigators believe the scandal may date as far back as 2008. Though the corruption probe is largely centered in the Bronx and is being spearheaded by the DA's office in that borough, hundreds of NYPD officers from throughout the city's five boroughs are said to be targets of the probe. Allegations of NYPD officers fixing tickets for friends, family and the well-connected or accepting bribes to make tickets disappear have ignited a media frenzy locally. The scandal has also caused significant damage in regards to the public's trust in the NYPD and faith in it's integrity. NYPD corruption has not been seen at such a high level since the 90's. McGee was one of the officers targeted by the probe and was forced to testify by the DA's office before a grand jury last week about at least a dozen tickets he had fixed. While McGee testified with immunity and is not expected to face criminal charges over his ticket fixing, he was distraught at the prospect of taking the witness stand against fellow officers at a trial, according to The New York Times. The grand jury panel is reportedly set to vote on charges and judgement against the officers could be forthcoming within a few weeks. Charges that NYPD officers ensnared in the probe could possibly face include, bribery or misconduct charges which could result in prison sentences. Though hundreds of officers have been targeted by the probe, about a few dozen are considered to be the worst of the worst and could possibly be facing prison time. Many officers may also face departmental-based penalties which could range anywhere from loss of vacation days, loss of sick leave, being docked in pay, or transfer to an undesirable duty within the NYPD. Some officers may even face termination of employment with the NYPD.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

September: The Month of Retrials

September: the month of retrials
The Journal News - Completely Legal Blog - by Rebecca Baker - September 7, 2011

Now that Labor Day has come and gone, the courts are back in full swing with a host of new cases … and some more familiar ones. Not one, not two, but three defendants are being retried this month in Westchester County courts, and jury selection for all three starts this week. That means the line to get into the courthouse is going to be very, very long, so if you’re called for jury duty or have an appointment at 111 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., arrive early or be prepared to wait.

Here are the three defendants:

1. James Pileggi- The former Eastchester police officer is charged with second-degree manslaughter for the Nov. 3, 2009, shooting death of a friend. Westchester County Judge Barbara Zambelli declared a mistrial after the jury was stuck at 10 to 2 for conviction after four days of delibertation. Jurors never even got to discussing two lesser charges that the judge allowed them to consider: criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment. Pileggi, 31, shot and killed his friend, Andre Everett, 27, with the Glock 26 in Everett’s driveway on Albert Place in New Rochelle. He testified that he unintentionally shot Everett while taking the gun apart to show him its laser device. Pileggi said he thought the gun was empty. Prosecutors contend he’d never fully examined the weapon before pulling the trigger and therefore was criminally reckless.

2. Selwyn Days- This is Day’s fourth trial and second retrial in the murders of an Eastchester millionaire and his home health aide. Jurors were stuck at 9-3 in favor of acquittal. Days, 46, has been incarcerated for 10 years, since confessing on video to killing 79-year-old Archie Harris and 35-year-old Betty Ramcharan, who were found stabbed to death in Harris’ home Nov. 21, 1996. Days had said he went to Harris’ home to confront him about sexual abuse allegations made by Days’ mother, who had been Harris’ aide before Ramcharan. Days said that, after Harris cursed, used a racial slur and swung a small bat at him, he grabbed him by the neck and beat him. Days said he then grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed Harris, then turned on Ramcharan when she stumbled on the scene. Days claims the confession was coerced; no physical evidence linked Days to the slayings, and several alibi witnesses said he was in North Carolina at the time of the killings. Prosecutors insist that the witnesses fabricated their stories at the behest of Days’ mother, Stella, who had worked for Harris before Ramcharan. His first trial ended with a hung jury; he was convicted at a second trial in 2004, but a judge threw out the verdict in 2009 after a wrongful-conviction hearing.

3. Mildred Didio- A Manhattan attorney who was one of eight people charged in a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud that stripped homes from families in Croton-on-Hudson, Yorktown, Cortlandt and Mount Vernon; and swindled two mortgage lenders out of $1.4 million. According to prosecutors, the group found their victims through notices of public auction or foreclosure. They reached out to the cash-strapped homeowners and gained their trust, saying they could transfer the deed to an investor, who would hold the title for 12 to 24 months so they could save money and reclaim their home. But once the “investor” took title, phony checks were presented to the lenders for much higher amounts than what the straw buyer paid for the home. Those checks allowed the group’s members to get inflated mortgages, which they used to pay off the original mortgage and keep the remainder for themselves. Didio is accused of representing the straw buyers or acting as a settlement agent for the lenders. Six others were convicted for their roles in the scheme; one was acquitted.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pill Probe Cop Accused of Ticket Fixing

Officer in pill probe at Westchester Airport also accused of ticket fixing
The Journal News by Jonathan Bandler - September 15, 2011

Authorities are investigating whether an officer being probed in an oxycodone distribution case also was paid to fix traffic tickets at Westchester County Airport. Officer Michael T. Brady, 36, a Thornwood resident and grandnephew of the late Westchester County Board of Legislators Chairman Edward Brady, was assigned to the airport and is alleged to have been paid off to protect a man who traveled through there regularly with painkillers and drug proceeds he transported between Florida and Connecticut. Brady was taken into custody Monday while visiting relatives in Florida, one of 20 people arrested in the case on drug conspiracy charges brought by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Connecticut. Others include three Transportation Security Administration officers — one of whom, Brigitte Jones, worked at the county airport; a Florida state trooper; and two Westchester livery drivers, Sami Naber and Manny Babe. The case broke in April when the dealer was arrested in a Stamford, Conn., hotel with 6,000 oxycodone pills and began cooperating with authorities. The man, identified in the complaint only as "cooperating witness 1," took 65 flights between Florida and New York from November to April. He met Naber at the county airport last year and began using him to drive him and the drugs to Connecticut and rent cars that Naber, Babe and a Florida driver would use to bring the drugs from Florida, it is alleged. According to the criminal complaint, Naber introduced the dealer to Brady — telling him the officer had helped Naber and other drivers "to dispose of traffic tickets in exchange for a fee." The association apparently paid off for the dealer, who told authorities that late last year or early this year he was stopped by TSA officers at the county airport while carrying about $100,000. Brady intervened and got the security officers to stop their questioning and let the dealer go, according to the complaint. The dealer told authorities that he had paid Brady about $20,000 over several months. Westchester Public Safety Commissioner George Longworth would not discuss the specific allegation of ticket-fixing but said that all the circumstances of Brady's involvement in the case are being reviewed and that "operational changes (at the airport) are forthcoming." Brady worked for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection police for three years before joining the county police department 11 years ago. He was released on $750,000 bond after appearing before a magistrate in Florida. Brady's wife filed for divorce last year and the divorce was finalized last month, court records show. The couple lived in Mount Kisco for several years before moving to Thornwood in 2008.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Airport Security Officers Charged in Drug Case

Airport Security Officers Charged in Drug Case
The New York Times by Kristin Hussey - September 13, 2011

STAMFORD, Conn. — Three Transportation Security Administration officers have been charged with accepting bribes to let couriers smuggle painkillers and cash undetected through security checkpoints at airports in New York and Florida, federal prosecutors said Tuesday. The officers, one stationed at Westchester County Airport and two others at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, were responsible for screening passengers and carry-on bags for commercial airline flights between the two airports. The officers — Brigitte Jones, 48, of the Bronx; Christopher Allen, 45, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.; and John Best, 30, of Port St. Lucie, Fla. — were each charged with conspiring to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute oxycodone. Officer Jones’s lawyer, William Bloss, said that he anticipated a not-guilty plea, but that he had not yet been able to review the evidence in the case. Efforts to reach lawyers for Officer Best on Tuesday night were not successful. Prosecutors said they did not know who was representing Officer Allen. The federal officers were among 20 people who were arrested, most on Monday and Tuesday, after a five-month investigation. Prosecutors say couriers carried thousands of pain pills from Florida to Connecticut, where they were sold for a higher price, and then returned to Florida with large amounts of cash. Two other law enforcement officers — Michael T. Brady, 36, a Westchester County police officer; and Justin Kolves, 28, a Florida state trooper — were also arrested and charged with the same offenses as the T.S.A. officers. Prosecutors say that between November 2010 and April 2011, the security officers allowed drug couriers to carry the strong prescription narcotic oxycodone and large amounts of cash onto dozens of commercial airline flights between Westchester County and West Palm Beach and that the officers accepted cash and gift cards as bribes. The officers were paid about $500 each time they let someone through the checkpoint for a flight, prosecutors said. On each trip, the drug couriers carried 6,000 to 8,000 pills. David B. Fein, the United States attorney for Connecticut, called the accusations unsettling, given the importance of T.S.A. officers’ screening responsibilities. “In these times, no one needs to be reminded about how dangerous it is when officers who have sworn to uphold the law accept money to ‘look the other way,’ ” he said in a statement. On one occasion, a witness wearing a police wire sought advice from Officer Jones about how best to smuggle a handgun through security and coordinated with her to make sure Officer Jones could guide him through the screening checkpoint at the Westchester airport, in Harrison, N.Y., according to a prosecutor’s affidavit used to obtain arrest warrants. The three agents under arrest are no longer performing security operations, said a spokesman for the security agency, Greg Soule. But he would not say whether the agents have been suspended or are still being paid, citing the continuing investigation. In a statement, the T.S.A. said it “holds its security officers to the highest professional and ethical standards and has a zero-tolerance policy for criminal activity in the workplace.” Prosecutors said that Officer Brady, a Westchester County police officer stationed at the airport in Harrison, accepted bribes totaling $20,000 in the case. On one trip from Harrison, Officer Brady, 36, of Thornwood, N.Y., an 11-year veteran of the force, ordered T.S.A. officials to stop questioning a man about $100,000 in cash he was carrying, according to the prosecutor’s affidavit. He has suspended been without pay. A phone message left at his home on Tuesday night was not returned.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Cheating on State Police Promotion Tests Alleged

Cheating on DPS exams alleged
The Clarion Ledger - August 29, 2011

An internal investigation of the state Department of Public Safety is seeking to determine if troopers cheated on promotions tests - and who, if anybody, helped. Promotions tests were given for the positions of master sergeant, lieutenant and captain earlier this month. Internal Affairs officials have begun to administer polygraphs to some of those who took the tests, according to troopers. Gov. Haley Barbour said Monday the allegations arose late last week. "The results of all the exams have been thrown out, and anyone involved in any improprieties will be severely punished," he said. He could not say how many troopers might be involved. "I would simply be guessing," he said. It's bad news for a department already reeling from bad news. On Friday, James Smith, a 17-year Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol employee, was convicted of fixing tickets and falsifying commercial driver's license records. Another former employee, Joseph Rigsby, faces trial this week on similar charges. In November, Bill Maxey resigned as director of fleet for the patrol after coming under scrutiny for reportedly using his state car for personal travel. The Clarion-Ledger reported that records showed Maxey used his state-owned SUV to make out-of-state, weekend trips to Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Tennessee. Maxey, who has sold tailor-made suits, had no law enforcement background before taking the $66,000-a-year job. The promotions tests investigation is continuing, and DPS spokesman Jon Kalahar said further details will be released later. "We will make the full results of that investigation known as soon as it's completed," he said. One area Internal Affairs is scrutinizing is whether copies were leaked when officials emailed the tests to the command staff for review. Several troopers said it was common knowledge the tests were emailed. Jackson lawyer Shane Langston, whose law firm handles employment law cases, said emailing promotions tests blows his mind. "That's like emailing the ACT test exam to public school teachers, and saying to them, 'Now don't show it to your students.'" Former Jackson Police Chief and law enforcement consultant Robert Johnson
called emailing promotions tests "highly unusual. There's a reason that no confidential information is sent out on email."

In 2009, Michael Berthay, then-assistant commissioner of public safety, began to institute changes that transferred the administration of Highway Patrol promotions tests to an outside agency, the state Personnel Board along with troopers from neighboring states. "We were one of the last states to change," said Berthay, who retired in June 2010. The patrol since has reverted to handling those promotions tests internally. Berthay praised those who work at the Highway Patrol as having a "high sense of integrity, but I think the integrity comes into question when the administration allows the promotions tests to be published on the World Wide Web, whether it's email or some other way." Instead of polygraphing troopers, the investigation should "look at the person in the administration that would allow a test to be emailed out," he said. Sending out an email means anybody in the world can possibly get a copy of the exam, he said. "Who knows? The Afghan police could be studying for this test." Bobby Reed, past president of the Mississippi State Troopers Association, said Monday's allegations are nothing new. Years ago, administrators shared old tests as "study guides" with troopers they wanted to promote, he said. "It's the same song, second verse." He said he preferred the old system where "at least they'd look you in the eye and say, 'Old so-and-so is getting the job because he's politically connected.'" He shared the story of a favored trooper that administrators wanted to promote. "Only problem was he was dumber than a rock," he said. Realizing this, the administrators waited until two positions came open at once and announced they would select from the troopers who scored in the top six, he said. "The dumb guy couldn't even get in the top six," Reed recalled. "He came in at number seven." Administrators decided to promote someone already in the top six, enabling the favored trooper to move up into the top six and get the promotion, he said. "It was politics at its best."

Friday, September 2, 2011

Contables Seek Federal Court Assistance Over Corruption Retaliation

Dallas County constables ask federal judge to stop job cuts they see as retaliation against whistleblowers
The Dallas News by Stephanie Collins - August 30, 2011

A group of Dallas County constables were in federal court Tuesday to ask a judge to stop county commissioners from eliminating more than 30 positions from their staffs. Constables Ben Adamcik, Jim Gilliand, Beth Villarreal and Roy Williams Jr. are seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent the cuts. They say the jobs are being eliminated as retaliation connected to a whistleblower investigation into potential misconduct by Commissioner John Wiley Price, former Constable Jaime Cortes and Constable Derick Evans. But county officials say the positions are being cut because of budget issues and that some of the duties will are being shifted to the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department. “If [the constables] want to run for commissioner, they can,” said Dolena Westergard, assistant district attorney for Dallas County. “But at this point they’re just constables, and their opinions are of no value.” U.S. District Judge Royal Ferguson granted the constables a hearing on Sept. 29 and 30 for a preliminary injunction so that witnesses can testify on the issue. “This raises serious concern that decisions are being made to retaliate against people exercising their 14th Amendment rights,” the judge said. “There has to be strong proof that we’re talking about retaliation.” The proposal was on the commissioners’ agenda for Tuesday morning, but the court delayed its vote until the judge rules on the matter. WFAA-TV (Channel 8) contributed to this report. STEPHANIE COLLINS Staff Writer -

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Onlooker Had the Right to Videotape Arrest, Circuit Rules

Onlooker Had the Right to Videotape Arrest, Circuit Rules
The New York Law Journal by Zoe Tillman - September 1, 2011

BOSTON, MA - Videotaping police in the course of their duties is "unambiguously" a free speech right protected under the First Amendment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has held in a recent decision. The appeals court, in an opinion released Friday, rejected the argument that officers who arrested such videographers should be granted immunity against litigation. The underlying case involves a Massachusetts lawyer, Simon Glik, who sued the city of Boston and three local police officers alleging violations of his First and Fourth amendment rights after he was arrested for filming police activity with his cellphone. Mr. Glik was walking past Boston Common in 2007 when he spotted three officers making an arrest. The officers saw Mr. Glik filming the arrest using his cell phone and placed him under arrest, later charging him with violating the Massachusetts Wiretap Act, disturbing the peace and aiding in the escape of a prisoner. The case was eventually dropped, and Mr. Glik filed suit. The city of Boston and the police officers moved to dismiss the case, arguing they were entitled to immunity because there was no clear First Amendment right to videotape police using a cell phone. They also argued that they did not violate Mr. Glik's Fourth Amendment right because they had reason to believe he had violated the state's wiretap law. Judge William Young of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts denied the motion to dismiss, prompting an immediate appeal by the city of Boston and the officers. Circuit Judges Kermit Lipez, Jeffrey Howard and Juan Torruella heard oral arguments on June 8. The appellate judges found that Mr. Glik was well within the bounds of the First Amendment by filming government officials carrying out their duties in a public space. Private individuals, like members of the press, should be given wide berth to gather information on public officials, the panel wrote. "Changes in technology and society have made the lines between private citizen and journalist exceedingly difficult to draw," the circuit said in Glik v. Cunnifee, 10-1764. "The proliferation of electronic devices with video-recording capability means that many of our images of current events come from bystanders with a ready cell phone." On the Fourth Amendment claim, the panel agreed with Judge Young's finding that the police had no reason at the time to believe Mr. Glik was secretly recording them in violation of the state's wiretap law. Police admitted that they knew Mr. Glik was using his phone to capture the arrest when they confronted him, the panel noted. The police claimed they thought Mr. Glik was only taking pictures, as opposed to a video and audio recording, but the appeals court found that "a straightforward reading of the statute and case law cannot support the suggestion that a recording made with a device known to record audio and held in plain view is 'secret.'" Mr. Glik's attorney, David Milton of the Boston-based Law Offices of Howard Friedman, said Tuesday that the ruling was a "resounding victory for the First Amendment." "In strong language, the court affirmed that the right to videotape police officers and other public officials is protected by the First Amendment and is an essential tool of democracy," he said. A representative in Boston's Office of Corporation Counsel did not immediately return a request for comment. Zoe Tillman, a reporter for The National Law Journal, an affiliate publication, can be contacted at

Residents Want Police Force Disbanded After Cop Shoots Neighbor

Elgin, Ore., Residents Want Police Force Disbanded After Cop Shoots Neighbor
The Seattle Daily Weekly by Curtis Cartier - August 29, 2011

​In the aftermath of the John T. Williams shooting, Seattleites voiced outrage in many ways, some calling for charges against the officer who shot him, others calling for a residents' oversight board to monitor the police, and others calling for SPD Chief John Diaz to resign. Compare that reaction to the town of Elgin, Ore., where a similarly suspect police shooting has made the residents there call for much more drastic action. Specifically, many of them want the entire police department abolished.

The AP reports: . . . the incident has so angered residents that many are demanding the small police department be disbanded, even as other communities across the country struggle to maintain police forces amid budget cuts. "It was murder," said John Thibodeau, 78, who retired to Elgin from Reno, Nev., 27 years ago. "I absolutely think they need to go."

The "murder" Thibodeau speaks of is the death of Richard "Dickie" Shafer. Shafer was recently killed by Ofc. Eric Kilpatrick, who had responded to a domestic disturbance call and found Shafer and his wife fighting. According to Shafer's wife, her husband had a loaded AR-15 assault rifle that he told the officer about, then asked if he could unload it and put it in his truck. The officer supposedly agreed, but while Shafer was emptying the magazine, Kilpatrick became agitated and Tased Shafer, then shot him in the chest. Shafer's wife says her husband was never aggressive with the weapon. The police department says Shafer pointed the gun at the officer. Ofc. Kilpatrick, as it turns out, has been complained about by residents before for apparently acting nervous and always keeping his hand on his gun. So now residents are left to decide whether to keep the police force at all or to contract with the county sheriff's department instead. No doubt there were a few people in Seattle who would have liked to have made a similar decision after the John T. Williams case.

Cop's Lawyer Wants More Time for New Trial

Officer's attorney asks for more time to file for new trial
The Tulsa World by Omer Gillham - August 31, 2011

Grand jury investigates police corruption: Read all of the stories, view a timeline and read key documents. Citing jury confusion and unfair testimony, an attorney for convicted Tulsa police Officer Jeff Henderson has asked for additional time to file for a new trial for his client. Robert Wyatt IV filed a motion Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Tulsa, asking for a 30-day extension to file for a new trial or acquittal. Typically, attorneys file for a new trial within 14 days of a conviction, Wyatt’s filing states. Henderson, 38, was found guilty Aug. 24 on two counts of civil rights violations and six counts of perjury. He was acquitted on 45 counts of civil rights violations, drug crimes, witness tampering and suborning perjury. Officer Bill Yelton, 50, his co-defendant, was acquitted on all eight counts against him. The charges included civil rights violations, witness tampering, suborning perjury and retaliation against a government witness. Without the extension, Henderson would be required to file a motion for acquittal or for a new trial by Sept. 7, Wyatt wrote. He asked U.S. District Judge Bruce Black to extend the deadline to Oct. 7. Special prosecutors do not oppose the request for additional time, Wyatt’s motion states. Citing a Tulsa World article, Wyatt noted that one jury expressed confusion over several guilty verdicts related to the case of Ronald Crawford. Crawford was charged in January 2009 with a weapons charge based on a search warrant involving Henderson. Prosecutors presented evidence and testimony showing that Crawford was in Texas during the time when Henderson said he observed him in Tulsa. The juror, who asked to remain anonymous, was interviewed by the World shortly after the verdict was rendered. She stated that she reconsidered her voted on several perjury counts for Henderson after the jury requested clarification from the judge on how motions are to be considered separately or together. However, the voting tally had already been taken on the counts in question, records show. When asked by the judge before the verdict was read in open court, all the jurors said they agreed with the verdict, the World has reported. Wyatt stated that prosecutors presented erroneous or unfair information in regard to cell-tower data and the location of Henderson’s phone on the day that Crawford’s home was under surveillance, Wyatt wrote. An FBI agent testified that Henderson’s cell phone was not in Crawford’s vicinity on the day of the surveillance. Wyatt wrote: “The testimony of the final witness on rebuttal left an unfair impression that Jeff Henderson was not at the residence on South Phoenix on January 5 and 6 when he claimed to be conducting surveillance. It is now believed that based on the limited cell tower data produced by the rebuttal witness that the FBI agent could not state with any degree of certainty that Mr. Henderson was not located” in the 3600 block of South Phoenix Avenue on the dates and times as shown in the phone records.

Former Cop Back in Court

Martinez Back In Court Seeking Charges To Be Dropped
News 9, Oklahoma by Adrianna Iwasinski - August 31, 2011

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A former Oklahoma City police officer who had several charges against him dropped last week was back in court Wednesday. Maurice Martinez now only faces 12 of the 37 counts he originally was charged with, and his attorney is trying to get the judge to throw out the rest, saying they are baseless accusations. Most of the charges involve sex crimes against children--those children being some of Martinez's adopted and foster sons. Martinez strode into court to face the judge on the amended charges and to see if he would dismiss any of the other charges. His attorney is also trying to get the judge to consider their request for a bond to be set, now that most of the counts against Martinez have been dropped. "It is very frustrating for my client to be sitting in jail when we know these young men are willing to come to court and testify that nothing happened," said David Slane, one of Maurice Martinez's attorneys. Martinez is accused of sexually abusing four of his adopted sons and is a former foster parent of the year. One foster son testified he witnessed the sexual abuse of one of those adopted sons. But the original accuser has recanted his story both on video and in court saying he made it up and that it never happened. His family continues to stand behind him. "He is innocent of all the charges," said Lisa Leeper, Martinez's older sister. "We stand by him and continue to stand by him. I hope the judge decides to grant him bail and ultimately throw out the rest of the charges." A bond hearing has been set for Sept. 19th.


More Than 20 Counts Against OKC Police Officer Accused of Molestation Dropped
News 9, Oklahoma by Adrianna Iwasinski - August 23, 2011

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Judge has ruled to drop more than 20 of the counts against former police officer Maurice Martinez, after the defense hammered away at much of the testimonies and evidence that were seized at the Martinez's home. On Tuesday, Martinez appeared to be much more confident and in better spirits as he walked into the court room. His family was also in court to show supports. Prosecutors have called a sex crime detective and two computer forensic experts to the Oklahoma City Police Department to talk about the graphics found on an I-phone and computer that were seized at the Martinez's home. But the defense team was calling into question whether the search warrant issued for that phone was even legal, since certain details were left off of the warrant. The defense also had plans to call its own set of witnesses, but it was denied by the judge. Those witnesses were going to be several of the adopted sons who were going to testify that Martinez did not molest them and nothing ever happened the way it was reported. "This should be a search for the truth," said David Slane, Martinez's attorney. "It shouldn't be not calling victims, never heard the police not call the victim in my 20 years I've never heard it." Despite the fact that judge has dropped more than 22 of the counts against Martinez, the judge has bond Martinez over for trial, So he will face at least one sexual crime against children count, one child pornography possession count, as well as one abuse of a care taker count. In light of the numerous charges being dropped, the defense says it plans to file a motion to have Martinez's bond reconsidered.


Foster Child Of OKC Police Officer Accused Of Molestation Testifies
News 9, Oklahoma by Adrianna Iwasinski - August 22, 2011

UPDATE: OKLAHOMA CITY -- One of Maurice Martinez's former foster children took the stand at Monday morning's preliminary hearing. Martinez is the former Oklahoma City police officer who was also awarded a foster parent of the year award. He stands accused of molesting more than one of his adopted sons, and he faces more than 30 felony counts. During Monday's preliminary hearing, 22 year old Shadow Michael Billings told the court Martinez was like a father to him and that he provided the best foster home he'd ever had. But he did testify he witnessed Martinez performing oral sex on one of his adopted sons and that Martinez would often sleep naked with that teenage boy. Billings also testified Martinez would offer the boys massages and often cuddled with many of the boys and sometimes touched at looked at him and the other boys inappropriately. Billings admitted in court that Martinez had also touched him inappropriately. He admitted to be nervous in court and tried to avoid eye contact with Martinez. Martinez watched his former foster son intently and wrote several notes to his attorney during the hearing. "Mr. Martinez cannot believe what was happening in the court room, he cannot believe the lies that were been told," said David Slane, Martinez's attorney. "I think he's angry, I think he's frustrated, and one of the notes that he gave to me was ‘where in the world would this come from?'" Assistant District Attorney who was handling this case refused to comment at this time, but just before the court let out, News 9 was told that the adopted son who initially made the allegations against Martinez and prompted the police investigation now denies anything has ever happened to him.