Headsup: The first 8 episodes of the RAI/HBO production "My Brilliant Friend" about a supreme alpha-girl and her "moon" of a best friend airing in 60-plus countries are proving amazingly endearing. So many colorful elements of evolving post WWII Italy on display. Yes, some violence too, but peanuts compared to say New York in that era. A real must-see.

Series US etc systems

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Excellent Series By Doug Poppa On How Weak Systems Failed Las Vegas In Mass Shooting

Posted by Peter Quennell





Please click here.

If that link works for you, you should be seeing in real time as they go online all the media reports of the mass shooting in Las Vegas on October 1st.

Scroll down and see how many (if any) analyze which Vegas police and casino security systems failed all those who died.

Not so many, right? Much (rightly) reported on the victims and much (rightly) on the psychology of the shooter and much (rightly) on the future economy of Vegas and much (rightly) on violent deaths that have happened since elsewhere.

But on the precise weaknesses of the systems that failed the casinos and the cops and Vegas as a whole… not so much.

Part of the problem is that media rarely have the right expertise. Even if they do, it is deliberately made hard in these fields for outsiders to peer within.

We have often remarked on how hard it is for different jurisdictions and whole nations to learn from one another. The apex justice academy in the US, John Jay College, hosted a global conference where the keynote speaker blatantly lied without push-back about the justice system in Italy (see here and here and here)..

Amazingly, only a BALTIMORE newspaper (over 2,000 miles away) so far is carrying a professional’s detailed observations of which systems had gone wrong or fallen short - findings that could matter most in saving future lives.

Doug Poppa has some national fame (see bio at the end of each report below) and has been featured on Inside Edition, A Current Affair, and CBS News’ Street Stories. He told us he offered the series to national media outlets but did not yet hear back.

So media systems are at fault here as well - no great surprise to us.

These are the Poppa reports in the Baltimore Post-Examiner so far. Any more appearing will be added. If you only have time to tread one right now, it was the fifth (“Three weeks after the Las Vegas massacre and what do we know?”) that first caught our eye.

1. Las Vegas Police change timeline of shooting

2. Former Navy Seal: Las Vegas gunman’s room was not a contained situation

3. Las Vegas casinos are in bed with the police

4. Las Vegas Judge orders MGM Resorts International not to destroy evidence

5. Three weeks after the Las Vegas massacre and what do we know?

6. Paddock not first shooter on an MGM Resorts International property

7. Who is in charge of the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay shooting investigation?

8. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police under FBI public corruption probe

9. Why Las Vegas police opened fire in Paddock’s room still a mystery

10. Why trust anything Sheriff Lombardo or MGM Resorts International say

As many newspapers do eventually scroll reports out of sight here are the key parts of the extraordinary 22 October report.

Three weeks after the Las Vegas massacre and what do we know?

By Doug Poppa · October 22, 2017
·
Well, not much except the fact that 58 people are dead and more than 500 injured and domestic terrorist Stephen Paddock was the lone shooter, so we are told.

Paddock murdered 58 people, authorities claim. His act of violence upon the general population was responsible for not only their murders, but for the wounding and all other injuries caused by his actions to over 500 people, police say. As far as I am concerned he committed his crime in Clark County in the State of Nevada. Under the laws of Nevada, he is a domestic terrorist.

I guess it’s more politically correct to call him a mass murderer than a domestic terrorist at least in Las Vegas.

Anything else that we were told at this point is speculation, rumor and in the words of Clark County Sheriff, Joe Lombardo who runs the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, “unverified.”

Instead of giving facts to the public the sheriff decided that he would give us unverified information just to appease the public’s demand for information. He said that himself.

Las Vegas Police found 23 firearms in Paddock’s 32nd floor room at Mandalay Bay. (Police photo)

That was Lombardo’s excuse when he changed the timeline of when Mandalay Bay Security Officer Jesus Campos got shot. At first, Lombardo told us that happened at 9:59 p.m., a full six minutes before he said the gunman, Stephen Paddock, opened fire on the crowd. Then a week later Lombardo changed that timeline and said that Campos got shot around the same time that Paddock opened fire at 10:05 p.m.

That indeed may be true, but although Lombardo said that the police have evidence that can corroborate that, he provided the press with nothing to back up those assertions.

Then we heard when the LVMPD first interviewed Campos after the shooting something was wrong. The FBI had to bring Campos back in to re-interview him because the FBI realized that the original timeline didn’t purport to what Campos told the LVMPD.

Were the investigators that inexperienced that it took two weeks to come up with an entirely new timeline or is there another agenda here?

It doesn’t sound like the LVMPD detectives I worked with during my 20 years in the casino industry.

Was the FBI responsible for correcting one of the worst public relations nightmares in modern law enforcement history?

The FBI is not without criticism here either.

Less than 24 hours after the massacre the FBI told the media that so far there was no connection between Paddock and any group. Wow, that must be the fastest investigation in FBI history, especially when they said they recovered numerous electronic devices that were being analyzed by the FBI laboratory.

The new timeline if true, seems to favor MGM Resorts International, the owners of the Mandalay Bay, whose major worry right now is lawsuits and their bottom line.

They pulled off two publicity stunts by having the two employees who were on the 32nd floor and were shot at, with one being hit, speak on national television. All that did was lead to more questions.

The initial investigation might be nothing more than poor police work, still it should never have taken two weeks to get a definitive timeline.

The national media and local media did a horrible job covering this tragedy as far as the press conferences went.

The media did a poor job of scrutinizing the police radio traffic from Oct. 1, the night of the massacre, or if they did they didn’t raise questions about how the radio traffic contradicted statements made by the LVMPD and MGM Resorts International.

The media focused entirely only on the shooting at the concert venue and the shooter.

There was much more going on that night. Las Vegas was being attacked, at least that’s the what the police initially believed. For hours the police were responding to active shooter incidents all over the Las Vegas strip. That is a story in and of itself. Who was calling all those calls in and why? What’s the status of that investigation or is there one?

Could that have been done to see how the police would respond to active shooters at multiple properties?

Broadcasting every tactical move the police were making that night unencrypted, for all the world to hear was a major mistake. It could have gotten police officers and civilians killed had it been a genuine terrorist attack in Las Vegas. To add insult to injury those recordings are available on the internet for any nut case or terrorist to analyze and study.

Three weeks later we have heard nothing of why a SWAT officer discharged his weapon inside the gunman’s room when we were told that Paddock was already dead when they entered. The Baltimore Post-Examiner was the first to break that story.

Was it an accidental discharge and if so who was injured?

The SWAT officer told the dispatcher after they cleared the room that a SWAT officer discharged his weapon, and there were no other injuries. He also said that they had one suspect down at this point and that was the room they were firing from.  Little things like that bother me, maybe nothing there, but I want answers.

Early on, the police told the media that Paddock was inside the room alone during his stay. There is no video surveillance in the hallway at Mandalay Bay, no video surveillance in the stairwells at Mandalay Bay. The only camera we are told is at the elevator core.

When I was still working in the industry I knew of only five properties that had video surveillance in the halls of the guest rooming areas, MGM Grand, Tropicana, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood and the Stratosphere.

Anyone at any time could have come up or down from the stairwells and entered his room without ever being seen.

The lock interrogation on the door lock would only indicate that a key card was placed into the lock. It cannot tell you who put the key card in the door.

Did forensic analysis of the interior of the room lead the police to believe he was inside alone for his entire stay? And how could that have been completed so fast?

Fingerprints lifted from the room, DNA samples obtained from glasses, dishes, cigarettes, toilet, towels, etc. would be analyzed. But that is also a problem to because there would be fingerprints, and DNA left from prior occupants of the room and the hotel staff.

If Paddock is indeed the only suspect, then there will no criminal case, you can’t prosecute a dead body. The LVMPD should start releasing whatever evidence they have to corroborate the timeline to include all the 911 Communications Center telephone calls and dispatch recordings. We wouldn’t want anything getting deleted or altered.

Release Campos’ written voluntary statement to the police and his recorded interview with police investigators. That would be a good start.

Why did the LVMPD request additional armored vehicles from a private company the night of the shooting?

The Baltimore Post-Examiner was the first to break that story too. Does not the LVMPD have adequate armored vehicles to protect their police officers and the public and if not, why? Is it to protect the image of the city, so it doesn’t appear the police are militarized, after all that wouldn’t be politically correct?

I guess the hell with officer safety. Again, adding insult to injury they broadcasted over the police radio that night for all the world to hear that the LVMPD is short on armored vehicles.

Why is it that not all LVMPD police officers have AR-15 platform type rifles in their vehicles? Some do if they are assigned to special units. Others don’t, and I am told that they must purchase those rifles out of their own pocket. What’s going on here Lombardo? Are you more concerned with running a politically correct police department or one that should have available all the equipment needed?

Purchase additional armored vehicles and store them at each area command in the county so they would be available for a rapid response, to hell with being politically correct.

Initiate Hercules teams as they did in New York City and have them patrolling the strip every day.

If the police need armored vehicles, give it to them. If police officers need rifles and other gear, give it to them.  A rich tourist city like Las Vegas and if the police officers don’t have the equipment they need to keep themselves and the public safe then that is a freaking disgrace.

Why the police waited for over an hour to enter Paddock’s room when they weren’t even sure he was still inside the room, evident by the radio traffic that night, is another question?

Let’s wait for SWAT my ass. Paddock could have been out ready to do more carnage. Nobody knew for sure until they went into the room.

Plenty of things bother me with this case.  Why Paddock brought 23 rifles into the room seems like overkill for a one-man operation.

Why he stopped shooting after only ten minutes and then allegedly shot himself in the head, when he had enough ammunition and armament to hold off the police for hours and or keep firing bothers me.

The leaked crime scene photographs also raise some questions. I want to see the coroner’s report, estimated time of death, gunshot wound, etc. Also, the blood splatter patterns near the body.

Paddock was registered under his own name. Lombardo also changed Paddock’s check-in date more than a week after the shooting. First, Lombardo told us that Paddock checked in on the 28th then revised that to the 25th of September. His girlfriend was added to the registration. Why, if she wasn’t there?

Then the sheriff had the nerve to say that wasn’t breaking news.

I have some breaking news of my own for the sheriff.

Your department is investigating the worst mass shooting in United States history.

If you can foul up something so simple as when someone checked into a hotel room in Las Vegas why should we believe anything.

Here’s another thing that bugged me that night.

I knew well before midnight that Paddock was the suspect who had slaughtered all those people less than two hours before.

Not because I was involved with Paddock, but because the police told me. They even told me where he lived. Yes, they did. They didn’t only just tell me, they broadcasted it for anyone who was listening.

“Control, copy some information. Potential name, related with the suspect.” “Go ahead.” “There was a player’s card that was out on the countertop next to the wallet of the suspect who is 419 [dead]. Break. It is an M Life platinum players card with the name of Marilou Danley. Mary-adam-robert-ida-lincoln-ocean-union. Last name is Danley, david-adam-nora-lincoln-easy-yellow.” “Copy.”

“That radio traffic, what was that last radio traffic?” “It looks like that name I gave you shares an address with the suspect. We can give you that address if you need to send units there.” “OK, go ahead when you’re ready.” “That’s 1372 Babbling Brook Court, and that’s in Mesquite, Nevada. Babbling Brook Court. Send resident officers there.” “Copy, 1372 Babbling Brook Court in Mesquite. Units be advised.” “It’s his driver’s license address as well.”

The police didn’t know that night if the shooter was acting alone, if this was a terrorist attack and there were others involved, specifically since they were responding to calls for active shooters at other Strip properties.

That information should never have come over the radio.

I hope they were at Paddock’s home before this went out over the air. They should have had the guest’s information from hotel registration way before they entered the room and hopefully the house in Mesquite was covered way before the room entry.

Within five minutes of that radio traffic I had Paddock’s name. I went to the Clark County Assessor website, typed in that address, and I had his name, the date he purchased the house and the purchase price.

At least since 9/11, casino owners knew that Las Vegas was a target for a terrorist attack.  We have had threats made against the city. Police and security personnel have known that.

Security directors at all strip properties are members of the Las Vegas Security Chief’s Association, which has monthly meetings where topics concerning terrorism have been discussed.

Security officers from many properties have attended training seminars conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other agencies in active shooter response, suicide bomber response, improvised explosives devices, etc.

Guns, explosives and vehicles and any combination of those are used in terror attacks. You can’t have an active shooter incident without a firearm.

Considering all this, how was it that Paddock had a small arsenal, or as one Metro officer said on 60 Minutes, “it looked like a gun shop in there,” inside room 135 on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay.

People died, and people were wounded because there were no security measures in place that could have prevented Paddock from ever reaching a hotel rooming area with luggage that contained 23 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition and accessories.

That fact cannot be denied.

In 2013, Adam Walker, an intelligence analyst with the Southern Nevada Counter-Terrorism Center was quoted as saying that “…. it’s not a question of ‘if,’ it’s a question of ‘when’ something happens on Las Vegas Boulevard.”

On October 1, 2017 something did happen on Las Vegas Boulevard. We are just being kept from the entire truth.

Posted on 10/25/17 at 10:22 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Justice Systems Comparisons #7: Common Law (US Etc) V. Civil (Italian) On Self-Represented Litigants

Posted by Chimera

One Of Many Self-Help Videos Now Springing Up Online

1. The Series Context

Several posts since my previous one drew attention to an estimated 200,000 or more poor Americans wrongly sitting in prison.

They are there because trial outcomes differ widely according to how much those charged can afford to pay or can handle their defense on their own, and there are pressures (political and economic) to keep the partly privatised prisons full to capacity.

Oh, those who have been slamming Italian justice forgot to tell you that?! 

Italian perps remain MUCH better off, but this post explains progress elsewhere now being made.

Here are my previous six posts. I use the Canadian system as the common law example. But as the posts explain, the US and UK systems are pretty close. 

Click here for post: Justice System Comparisons #1: Had Meredith’s Murder Taken Place In Canada 

Click here for post: Justice System Comparisons #2: Canada’s Tough Penalties For Slander, False Accusations, Perjury 

Click here for post: Justice System Comparisons #3: Bail, Extradition, and More Crimes In Canadian Law 

Click here for post: Justice System Comparisons #4: How Canada And Italy Shape Up Against The US 

Click here for post: Justice Systems Comparisons #5: How Appeals Differ in Italy and Common Law Countries 

Click here for post: Justice Systems Comparisons #6: Common Law (US Etc) V. Civil (Italian) On Double Jeopardy

2. Rights And Protections Of Self Represented Litigants

In 2006, the Canadian Judicial Counsel released their STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES ON SELF REPRESENTED LITIGANTS AND ACCUSED PERSONS.  Here is a direct link to that article.

Among some of those well intentioned principles are:

(a) Self-represented persons should not be denied relief on the basis of a minor or easily rectified deficiency in their case.

(b) Judges should ensure that procedural and evidentiary rules are not used to unjustly hinder the legal interests of self-represented persons.

(c) Judges and court administrators should do whatever is possible to provide a fair and impartial process and prevent an unfair disadvantage to self-represented persons.

(d) Judges, the courts and other participants in the justice system have a responsibility to promote access to the justice system for all persons on an equal basis, regardless of representation.

The Alberta Court of Appeal (May 2, 2016) allowed the appeal.

Now, the Supreme Court of Canada has endorsed the document and from this point, all Judges/Justices/JP will be obligated to follow it when one or more parties before them is self-represented.

Pintea v. Johns, 2017 SCC 23 (CanLII)

Pintea v. Johns

Valentin Pintea v. Dale Johns, et al.

In laymen’s terms, the gross imbalance between represented/unrepresented litigants will shrink.

The Courts will now be obligated to go the extra mile to ensure that the proceedings are done fairly, and in the overall interests of justice.  The ruling goes even further than what may be expected.

“Judges have a responsibility to inquire whether self-represented persons are aware of their procedural options, and to direct them to available information if they are not. Depending on the circumstances and nature of the case, judges may explain the relevant law in the case and its implications, before the self-represented person makes critical choices.”

So Canada, and to a degree the United States, is trending towards self representation.

Litigants already represent themselves in small claims court, family court, traffic, landlord/tenant disputes, and occasionally in criminal court.

To be fair though, routine self-representation in criminal court is a long ways off.  However, the pattern seems to be moving away from using lawyers, which many people believe to be expensive and largely ineffectual.

Also noteworthy is that in the Canadian Provinces of Ontario and British Columbia, paralegals are becoming more common as an alternative to lawyers. 

Again, the price involved deters most people from hiring lawyers.  Why pay 10 times as much for the same service?  Why pay for a lawyer when many farm their work out to paralegals? Other Provinces have something similar, as do many U.S. States.

Ontario: How Can a Paralegal Help?

British Columbia Paralegal Assoc

3. A Final Thought

Justice should be available to everyone, not just those who can dig deep for a lawyer.  The options of lower cost legal help, and the new requirements of Judges to ensure fairness, will likely go a long way to seeing this happen.

Posted on 08/26/17 at 10:25 PM by ChimeraClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Netflixhoax 19(c): Yet More On A Genuine, Huge Justice Problem In The US Dishonest Netflix Ignored

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters

Netflix enabled Knox to sustain her myth of how awful Italian prison life was for her.

First, do notice that Netflix ignored that Knox was in prison for three of her four years quite validly for a felony conviction: her attempt (sustained over several weeks) to try to frame Patrick for Meredith’s murder.

Even now, she still owes Patrick damages of around $100,000 irrevocably confirmed by the Supreme Court. Netflix ignored that also.

Second, do notice that Netflix ignored that that Knox quite provably made up a lot about her prison stay in Capanne and how she was actually treated.

In this post challenging all those claims, we observed that Knox did not have a single witness confirming her accounts.

In fact both the US Embassy which monitored her and the Italian MP Rocco Girlanda who “monitored” her confirmed her treatment was kindly, and her lawyers confirmed that she never ever asked that a complaint be filed. 

And third, not only is no Italian prison the hellhole that Netflix watchers were led to believe. Though there has been temporary overcrowding due to immigrant crime, they are in general among the most humane prisons anywhere on the planet.

That post 18 months ago drew upon a New York Times report. Today the New York Times posts an editorial which shows the gap in humanity between Italian and American prisons is actually deliberately worsening. 

Another contrast in Italy’s favor, ignored of course by Netflix.

Criminal justice officials across the country are struggling to break the recidivism cycle in which prisoners are released only to land right back behind bars. These prisoners are among the most poorly educated people in the country, and that fact holds the key to a solution. Decades of research has shown that inmates who participate in prison education programs — even if they fail to earn degrees — are far more likely to stay out of prison once they are freed.

That prison education programs are highly cost effective is confirmed by a 2013 RAND Corporation study that covered 30 years of prison education research. Among other things, the study found that every dollar spent on prison education translated into savings of $4 to $5 on imprisonment costs down the line.

Other studies suggest that prisons with education programs have fewer violent incidents, making it easier for officials to keep order, and that the children of people who complete college are more likely to do so themselves, disrupting the typical pattern of poverty and incarceration.

Findings like these have persuaded corrections officials in both Democratic and Republican states to embrace education as a cost-effective way of cutting recidivism. But Republican legislators in New York — which spends about $60,000 per inmate per year — remain mired in know-nothingism and argue that spending public money on inmates insults taxpayers. They have steadfastly resisted Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s common-sense proposal for making a modest investment in prison education programs that have already proved highly successful on a small scale in New York’s prisons.

The Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., stepped into the void left by the Legislature when he agreed l to pay for Governor Cuomo’s prison education plan with more than $7 million in criminal forfeiture money secured from banks. Lauding what he described as a public safety measure, Mr. Vance said, “It makes no sense to send someone to prison with no pathway for them to succeed.”

The goal of the program is to expand the number of inmates taking college courses to about 3,500 across much of the system from 1,000. The curriculum will be broad, covering science, math, philosophy, the social sciences and art. Among the schools that will participate are Cornell University, New York University, Mercy College and Bard College, which has run a highly regarded program since 2001. The recidivism rate is 4 percent for inmates who participate in the program and a mere 2 percent for those who earn degrees in prison, compared with about 40 percent for the New York State prison system as a whole.

Prison education programs were largely dismantled during the “tough on crime” 1990s, when Congress stripped inmates of the right to get the federal Pell grants that were used to pay tuition. The decision bankrupted many prison education programs across the country and left private donors and foundations to foot the bill for those that survived.

Despite limited and unreliable funding, these programs have more than proved their value. New York lawmakers who continue to block funding for them are putting ideology ahead of the public interest.

Posted on 08/16/17 at 11:58 AM by The TJMK Main PostersClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Justice systemsItalian systemUS etc systemsHoaxers: media groupsThe Netflix hoax
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Friday, August 11, 2017

Netflixhoax 19(b): More On A Genuine, Huge Justice Problem In The US Dishonest Netflix Ignored

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters



Is the US actually worse than North Korea of all places? In one respect yes.

Our first post a couple of weeks ago on false incarcerations concluded this way: 

The American prison population is proportionally six times the Italian prison population (why did Netflix omit that?). Mental illness among that population is rife, and few inmates have above average IQs.

Election-driven prosecutors plea-bargaining with threats may have wrongly put many of them there. Maybe 10 per cent.

That is over 200,000 Americans in the wrong place. Funny how Netflix (and the FOA fanatics) forgot to tell us about that.

“Over 200,000” could in fact be a considerable UNDER estimate. An estimated 177,624 innocent Americans pleaded guilty in one year (2013) alone.

Here is The New York Times on this subject this past Tuesday.

By Marc Morje Howard

The American criminal justice system is exceptional, in the worst way possible: It combines exceptionally coercive plea bargaining, exceptionally long sentences, exceptionally brutal prison conditions and exceptionally difficult obstacles to societal re-entry.

This punitiveness makes us stand out as uniquely inhumane in comparison with other industrialized countries…. There’s widespread agreement that current practices are unsustainable.

The United States is home to 5 percent of the world’s population, yet has 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. The grim reality of American justice is that there are 2.3 million people behind bars, five million on parole or probation, 20 million with felony convictions and over 70 million with a criminal record.

Though mafia-tool Netflix ignored them all in its crazed rush to defame the Italian system, every day in the US new reports on this world-beating iniquity are being televised or published.

Why does it happen? In large part because THERE IS PROFIT IN IT. Profits for private prisons and bail-sharks. 

The video at top is a trailer for a new documentary just being released: A Deal With The Devil Devil’ Takes On Unjust Bail System

By Susie Madrak

A plea deal is an arrangement to resolve a case without going to trial. This is an option most often taken by those who cannot afford bail and want to go home instead of wait days, months, even years locked up in jail. An estimated 177,624 innocent Americans pleaded guilty in 2013 alone. Does this sound like a just system to you?

The money bail system is broken: private companies achieve exorbitant profits by scavenging off of communities (primarily of color) living in poverty. Low-income Americans are sitting in jails for days, months, and even years for the most minor of infractions simply because they can’t afford to pay high bond amounts. The reality is that the majority of people in jails – over 70% - are there for one simple reason: their income status. This is both morally and legally wrong.

And from now until August 21, 2017, Brave New Films will be campaigning to #EndMoneyBail this summer in the state of California.

Premiere events around the state are scheduled in key legislative districts, with audiences ranging from Bay Area activists and advocates to Los Angeles poets and politicians. Social media launches will coincide each week, with new videos from Brave New Films and other partners in the California Bail Coalition. People who can’t attend premiere events and screenings can host their own in-home events with all of our films before they’re released publicly and everybody should call their Assembly members demanding they #EndMoneyBail this summer.

This three-part series continues here.

Posted on 08/11/17 at 12:21 PM by The TJMK Main PostersClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Justice systemsItalian systemUS etc systemsHoaxers: media groupsThe Netflix hoax
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Friday, July 21, 2017

Netflixhoax 19(a): Omitted The Vital Context Of A Genuine, Huge Justice Problem In The US

Posted by The TJMK Main Posters


1. Series Overview

The 18 past posts can be read here. In the light of the Netflix report’s nomination for a major award we resume. Full speed ahead.

2. Italian Justice: What Netflix Left Out

In the United States outrage is, well, all the rage… A clear Netflix intent was to horrify and outrage viewers about the Italian justice system itself.

Read the numerous reviews and thousands of comments that imply the system is dangerous and corrupt. Including the very common “I would never send my kid to college there” and “I will never risk traveling there” and “we should boycott Italian goods”. 

Show it as it really is - an extremely fair system from the perps’ point of view that allows ZERO wrongful convictions at the end of the day - and the whole Netflix thesis falls apart.

In Post 6 we described the almost unique carefulness of the Italian system.

How prosecutors can explain their case only in court. How the system allows perps two automatic appeals. How appeals often feature new juries - which never get to hear the full prosecution case.

How the same defense teams get to argue in court all the way up to the Supreme Court while the trial prosecution gets to present its full case just the once.

How the REAL justice system requires that many judgments should be written out at costly length. How prison time is almost never served for sentences under three years.

How most of the prisons are very nice and all perps receive mental treatment if prescribed, and taught a trade so they dont have to commit new crimes to pay their way when out.

The plea-bargain possibility does not exist in the uniquely open and transparent Italian system at all. No furtive shortcuts. No extreme pressure on suspected perps.

Judges, prosectors and especially police must go the extra mile, often over many years, to ever finally win a case.

3. American Justice: What Netflix Left Out

Netflix left out A LOT. See the numerous for-comparison posts here.

Sadly judges and lawyers in the American system can be among the eagerly gullible about both the Italian system and their own.

But there ARE American judges and lawyers who FULLY understand the Italian system and wish some of that could be applied in the US.

In the video at top Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz is quoted as saying this.

“We treat poor people and minority people much worse in the United States by our criminal justice system than they do in Italy, so we really have no standing to tell other countries that their system is unfair.

And based on [the evidence against Knox], in America, if she were not an attractive young woman — if she were an ordinary person — charged on the basis of this evidence, she would be convicted and would be serving life imprisonment, or even worse, the death penalty in the United States.”

In the United States pervasive plea-bargaining is making juries obsolete.

Trial by jury has become so rare in modern American criminal jurisprudence that the chance of being convicted at trial is little more than one in one hundred.

That doesn’t mean that people are not getting convicted. They are—in record number. America’s prisons are literally filled to capacity.

In today’s criminal justice system, convictions come by agreement. The tradition of being tried by one’s peers, established centuries ago and affirmed by the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has all but disappeared.

The plea bargain has made jury trials obsolete.

The GOOD aspect is that it can get convictions fast. That is the BAD aspect too.

Very few cases end in acquittal - vastly fewer than in Italy. Tough sentences and even the death penalty are often used as a threat.

“We now have an incredible concentration of power in the hands of prosecutors,” said Richard E. Myers II, a former assistant United States attorney who is now an associate professor of law at the University of North Carolina. He said that so much influence now resides with prosecutors that “in the wrong hands, the criminal justice system can be held hostage.

In effect judges and juries are being sidelined and defense lawyers are faced with strong odds.

A case in Pennsylvania has suddenly put such plea-bargaining in the national news - not because the accused perp didnt do it, but actually because the threat of death penalty was said to have been too lightly used.

In so swiftly wrapping up the case, which transfixed the Philadelphia region, the district attorney of Bucks County, Matthew D. Weintraub, faced questions about whether he had made the right call in taking the most severe punishment for horrible crimes off the table.

Experts in death penalty law said the agreement was especially notable for its speed. But the father of one of the young men found dead said on Monday that family members of all of the victims supported it.

There was no judicial review. Oh and he was mentally deranged.

The American prison population is proportionally six times the Italian prison population (why did Netflix omit that?). Mental illness among that population is rife, and few inmates have above average IQs.

Election-driven prosecutors plea-bargaining with threats may have wrongly put many of them there. Maybe 10 per cent.

That is over 200,000 Americans in the wrong place. Funny how Netflix forgot to tell us about that.

This three-part series continues here.

Posted on 07/21/17 at 10:00 PM by The TJMK Main PostersClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Justice systemsItalian systemUS etc systemsHoaxers: media groupsThe Netflix hoax
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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Justice Systems Comparisons #6: Common Law (US Etc) V. Civil (Italian) On Double Jeopardy

Posted by Chimera



Palazzo Giustizia above in Reggio Calabria, below in Naples

1. The Series Context

You’d think there’d be lots of comparisons at national level between the two great justice systems of the world. But really there are not.

The dishonest Knox and Sollecito PR often uses disparities between the Italian and US/UK systems to confuse, and to try to make the excellent Italian system look bad. 

The common-law lawyers from the US and UK who post here on Italy sometimes say they have to study quite a bit to get things straight. UK lawyer James Raper’s excellent book translates some of the key concepts that can be confused as he did here.

These are my previous five posts. I use the Canadian system as the common law example. But as the posts explain, the US and UK systems are pretty close. 

Click here for post:  Justice System Comparisons #1: Had Meredith’s Murder Taken Place In Canada 

Click here for post:  Justice System Comparisons #2: Canada’s Tough Penalties For Slander, False Accusations, Perjury 

Click here for post:  Justice System Comparisons #3: Bail, Extradition, and More Crimes In Canadian Law 

Click here for post:  Justice System Comparisons #4: How Canada And Italy Shape Up Against The USJustice System Comparisons #4: How Canada And Italy Shape Up Against The US 

Click here for post:  Justice Systems Comparisons #5: How Appeals Differ in Italy and Common Law Countries 

2. Double Jeopardy

Much angry noise has been made about the October 2011 “acquittal” of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito by the Hellmann appeal court in the murder of Meredith Kercher.  The claim was been made that an acquittal at trial means that under American law, it would be “double jeopardy” and hence, illegal, under American law.

While the “appellate trial” differs considerably from appeals in Common Law countries, it is still an appeal.  Portions of the case can be reopened, but the Trial Court’s original findings are the starting point.  It is not meant to be a “new trial”, nor to re-try the case.

“If” an Appeals Court releases a defendant, it is not double jeopardy, as it is not a Trial Court.  They do not try the case, but rather examine it for errors.  Further if a 1st level appeal releases someone, the prosecution can still seek a higher level of appeal.

Read Harvard Law School’s Alan Dershowitz here.

3. Legal Outcomes 2007-09

  • November 6, 2007—AK and RS were charged for rape and murder of MK, alongside PL, whom Knox has accused as the actual killer

  • November 9, 2007—AK/RS faced Judge Claudia Matteini, to see if they could be released conditionally (their 1st Court hearing), and to get a brief assessment of the Prosecution case.  While FoAK crow about there being no bail in Italy, this hearing seems eerily similar to a bail hearing.

  • November 30, 2007—AK/RS challenged Judge Matteini’s decisions (their 2nd Court hearing), and Judge Massimo Ricciarelli presided over a 3 Judge panel which confirmed the detention, but with Rudy Guede as the 3rd person, as opposed to PL.

  • April 1, 2008—AK/RS tried to get released again (their 3rd Court hearing on the matter), and the 5 Judge Cassation panel headed by Judge Torquato Gemelli denied the request, and even the lesser request of house arrest

  • September/October 2008—Pretrial (and Guede’s short form trial) presided over by Judge Paolo Micheli.  Judge Micheli convicted RG, and sent AK/RS to trial.

  • December 2009—AK and RS were convicted at trial by the Court of Judge Giancarlo Massei.


4. Legal Outcomes 2010-15

In 2010 AK/RS then chose to APPEAL those convictions and filed such an appeal.

  • October 2011—AK/RS were “acquitted” of murder by the Appellate Court headed by Hellmann and Zanetti, though the Calunnia conviction was upheld.

The Prosecution then filed a SECONDARY APPEAL to the Court of Cassation

  • March 2013—AK/RS had their “acquittal” by H/Z annulled, while the calunnia conviction was upheld, with aggravating factors added back on.

AK/RS chose to file ANOTHER APPEAL of the 2009 Trial Conviction, this time it went to Florence.  Not a new trial, but another appeal.  Knox didn’t show up.

  • January 2014—AK/RS had their 2009 conviction “confirmed” by the Court of Judge Nencini, with a small sentence increase for AK.

AK/RS then filed a SECONDARY APPEAL to the Court of Cassation.  The 5th Chambers took the case.

  • March 2015—AK/RS had their convictions thrown out by the panel of Bruno/Marasca.  However, the report released in September 2015 didn’t actually say they were innocent.  in fact, the report placed AK at the crime scene, and RS probably so.  The Court found both had lied repeatedly.


5. These Damning Posts Relate

Click here for post:  The Knox Interrogation Hoax #13: The First Two Opportunities Knox Flunked: Matteini & Ricciarelli

Click here for post:  Tape ‘puts Knox at Meredith murder scene’

Click here for post:  The Knox Interrogation Hoax #14: The Third Opportunity Knox Flunked: The Mignini Interview

Click here for post:  The Knox Interrogation Hoax #15: Dr Mignini’s Account Of Formal Warning Session Ending 5:45 AM

Click here for post:  The Knox Interrogation Hoax #16: The Fourth Opportunity Knox Flunked: The Supreme Court

Click here for post:  The Knox Interrogation Hoax #18: The Final Pre-Trial Opportunities Which Knox Flunked

6. Two Constitutions Compared

(A) U.S. Constitution, 5th Amendment

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.


(B) Canada Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Part 11(h)

11. Any person charged with an offence has the right…. (h) if finally acquitted of the offence, not to be tried for it again and, if finally found guilty and punished for the offence, not to be tried or punished for it again;....

Notes: Both the U.S and Canadian Justice systems prohibit a person from being punished twice for the same offence.  The main distinction is the word “finally” in the Canadian system.  In the American system, an acquittal is the end of the matter, barring some obscene act, such as bribing a judge.  Is the Canadian system, an acquittal “may” be appealed in extremely limited cases, such as gross misconduct, or clearly inappropriate handling by the Trial Court.

7. Standard for Review

(A) U.S. Appeals

Click here for post:  Definitions: legal concepts for appeal

Matters of Fact—May be challenged if the they are reviewed in a clearly erroneous manner

Matters of Law—Must be considered “de novo” as if there was no finding before

Matters of Discretion—Judges are given wide discretion and it is usually accepted, unless there are clear errors, or the conclusion is illogical


(B) Canadian Appeals

The standard is set by Housen v. Nikolaisen

Click here for post:  Housen v. Nikolaisen Supreme Court Judgment

Factual Findings—These are typically “given deference”, unless the Appellant can show “overriding, palpable error”.

Legal Findings—The Standard is whether the law was “correctly” applied.

In layman’s terms, Appeals Courts “defer” to the Trial Court on the fact findings.  They assume that the Trial Court is in a better position to see and to examine the case.  They will not interfere unless there is a clear, and provable error that effected the outcome.  Surprisingly, it is a much higher standard than challenging the law.

Notes: In both US and Canadian appeals, the Courts tend to accept factual findings unless there is very clearly an error.  Both also tend to view potential legal matters as needing to be consistently applied.  Both Courts also tend to accept the Trial Court’s discretionary decisions unless something is obviously off.  Although the language used varies, the standards quite similar.

8. Cases of “Double Jeopardy”

(A) “Double Jeopardy” U.S.A.

Harry Aleman

This involved a man who was “acquitted” in a murder case.  However, it was later found that the trial judge, Frank Wilson had been bribed to the tune of $10,000, and that the trial had been rigged.  Prosecutors appealed, successfully, that since the case had been pre-arranged, the defendant had never been in jeopardy, and hence there was no “double jeopardy”.  Eventually this was confirmed by the US Supreme Court.

Click here for post:  Wikipedia: Harry Aleman

Click here for post:  Aleman v Cook County

Click here for post:  Man Faces 2d Trial on Murder Charge

Click here for post:  Exception To Double Jeopardy


(B) CANADA

Most of the cases which involved an acquittal being appealed were cases of sexual assault where the Trial Judge grossly mishandled the manner

Here is a particularly harsh appeal review:

Click here for post:  Reasons for judgment:  underage sexual attacker

Some media reports on the topic

Click here for post:  Crown appealing sex assault acquittal of taxi driver

Click here for post:  Judge asked complainant why she couldn’t just keep knees together

Click here for post:  Chief judge launches review of Edmonton judge

Click here for post:  Third Alberta judge faces review

Click here for post:  4 Alberta judges under scrutiny

Note: To a degree, this is comparing apples and oranges.  The US case of Harry Aleman was a case where a defendant literally “bought” a murder acquittal for a mere $10,000.  The Canadian cases listed were ones where the Trial Judge was grossly incompetent, and either unable or unwilling to handle a sexual assault case properly.  However, in both sets of circumstances, justice is not served at the trial court level, so it has to be “redone”.

Note: Also, in the cases of mistrials, re-trials of defendants are often permitted, depending on the circumstances.

9. How This Compares to Italy

(Some additional input from knowledgeable people appreciated)

1. The trial (the one and only trial), took place throughout 2009—the Massei Court—and it was to try the facts, and to hear testimony.

2. The 1st level appeal, an appellate trial (requested by AK/RS) was to determine if any major errors had been committed that would have changed the outcome.  And, unlike in the Common Law, the Defense could reopen portions of the case.

3. The 2nd level appeal—to the Court of Cassation—is to determine if there were any serious legal errors, or if the Lower Court rulings were based on illogical or contradictory thoughts.  It is not to retry the case, or rehear the evidence.

4. The “Appellate Trial” doesn’t exist in the Common Law systems, rather there is a clear distinction between “trial” and “appeal”.  Italy allows this step in a benefit to Defendants which would not otherwise be available.

5. Another benefit for Italian Defendants: those 2 appeals are available upon request.  Under the Canadian/US laws, defendants can immediately file notice of appeal on the 1st instance, though it can be dismissed before the hearing.  For 2nd level appeals, leave is required (“leave” is legalese for “permission”), which is difficult to get.

6. Acquittals in Italian Courts can be overturned if it was based on clear errors in law, or illogical conclusions, just as Canadian cases can.  That is what happened with the Hellmann ruling.

7. Acquittals in Italian Courts can be overturned if there was clear misconduct or illegal action which altered the outcome.

10. Footnote

The Italian appeal standard seems to be closer to the Canadian model.  The American system (so far) requires blatant criminal behaviour, not just incompetence.


Posted on 07/13/17 at 02:22 PM by ChimeraClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Thursday, August 25, 2016

The West Memphis Three: Another Instance Where A Strong Pro-Guilt Case Is Being Garbled For Profit

Posted by The Machine



Above: Still under a cloud: Jessie Misskelley, Jason Baldwin, and Damien Echols

1. Overview of the series

In my last post on how media hype can badly tangle crime cases, I examined Sarah Koenig’s biased coverage of the Adnan Syed case for the Serial podcasts and her flawed approach to assessing the evidence against him.

In this post, I will analyse a critically acclaimed documentary about another alleged miscarriage of justice: West of Memphis and associated media hype.

The Peter Jackson documentary claims three men known as the West Memphis Three (the WM3) were wrongly convicted as child killers and points the finger at another man.

2. West Memphis 3 background

In May 1993, three eight-year-old boys - Steve Branch, Christopher Byers and Michael Moore - were found dead in a ditch in West Memphis in the US state of Arkansas. There is a crimescene video at the bottom here.

They had been stripped and bound. Steve Branch and Michael Moore had drowned and Christopher Byers had bled to death after his genitals had been mutilated and partially removed.

Three teenagers - Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley - were arrested following a tip that Echols had been seen covered in mud the evening the boys disappeared and Misskelley gave a confession.

The WM3 were convicted of murder in 1994 (see the judge and courthouse below) and sent to prison.

However, they were freed in August 2011 after taking an Alford plea. This is a deal which allowed them to maintain their innocence while agreeing prosecutors had enough evidence to convict them.



Above: the three 8-year-old victims

3. The media campaigns

There have been high-profile campaigns to free the WM3 and cast doubt on their convictions. HBO Television made three films about the case: Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, Paradise Lost 2 Revelations and Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory. CBS News produced a documentary about the case entitled A Cry for Innocence.

A number of celebrities and musicians supported the WM3, including Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam, James Hetfield from Metallica, Henry Rollins, actor Johnny Depp, Natalie Mains from The Dixie Chicks, and film director Peter Jackson.  Do any of these celebrities put forward a compelling case for innocence?

In a word - no.

Johnny Depp and Henry Rollins basically say they could relate to Damian Echols.

“I immediately related to Damien and what he went through growing up. He comes from a small town from Arkansas. I come from a relatively small town in Kentucky. I can remember being kind of looked upon as a freak or, you know, different because I didn’t dress like everybody else. So I can empathize with being judged by how you look as opposed to who you are.” (Johnny Depp, A Cry for Innocence, CBS News).

“Damien liked to hang out alone and wrote he was depressed. Hello! He liked to listen to weird music. Check! He was a wise ass in the face of law enforcement. Are you kidding? It could have been me.” (Henry Rollins, West of Memphis)

.

After reading some of the comments in the media about the WM3 case, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Damien Echols was only a suspect because he wore black, listened to Metallica and read Stephen King books.

This comment by Guardian journalist Emma John is a typical comment by the supporters of the WM3

“At their subsequent trial, evidence introduced by the prosecution included the fact that Echols wore Metallica T-shirts and read Stephen King novels”

Several documentaries angled to exonerate the three have been widely promoted on HBO and Netflix including this one.



Above: one of the documentaries

Emma John and countless other journalists, as well as the producers of Paradise Lost and West of Memphis, completely ignore Echols’ startling mental health records - Exhibit 500 - that show he was a seriously disturbed and violent individual.

He was sent to a mental health hospital on three separate occasions. He threatened a number of people with violence and on occasion attacked others. For example, he threatened to kill his parents and to eat his father alive and he admitted trying to “claw the eyes of out” of a student. According to a report, Echols sucked the blood from the wound of one of the boys in Arkansas Juvenile Detention Center.

Damien Echols’ lawyers presented his mental health records as evidence in the sentencing phase of his trial, presumably to convince the jury he was mentally ill and not fully responsible for his actions, in order to spare him from the death penalty.

4. The West of Memphis production


West of Memphis
is available to watch on the streaming for-pay movie site Netflix. Netflix flatly states that the West Memphis Three are innocent.

“They spent 18 years in prison for a crime they didn’t commit—and the real killer is still out there.”

There’s no legal basis for such an unequivocal claim. The WM3 accepted the court’s judgement of guilt. They were not acquitted by a jury or exonerated by the Supreme Court of the United States.

West of Memphis doesn’t provide any credible exculpatory evidence to support Netflix’s categorial assertion that the WM3 are innocent. No-one should expect this to be the case because if there had been any exculpatory evidence, it would have been presented in court.

A couple of the prosecution’s witnesses recanted their testimony, but that doesn’t mean the entire case against the WM3 collapses. In the Perugia case Judge Massei didn’t find two of the prosecution’s witnesses to be credible, but he and the other judges still found Knox and Sollecito guilty of Meredith Kercher’s murder. 

The Telegraph and Empire gave West of Memphis five stars out of five. The Guardian gave it four stars. Does the documentary deserve such high ratings from these mainstream media organisations?


If you compare West of Memphis to Andrea Vogt’s documentary about the Meredith Kercher case is Amanda Knox Guilty? (which is the gold standard for true crime documentaries because it’s balanced and factually accurate) you have to conclude that it’s light years away from being anywhere near as good as Andrea Vogt’s documentary.

The producers haven’t made a balanced and objective documentary that lets the audience make up their own minds. As with all documentaries about people who have been convicted of murders they allegedly didn’t commit, the cherrypicked story is told primarily from the defence point of view.

This isn’t surprising - Damian Echols and his wife were two of the producers.

I strongly suspect this is also the reason why most of the evidence that led to the convictions of the WM3 is completely ignored. When I found this out, I felt that the producers had been sly and dishonest. Their commitment is clearly to the WM3 - and not the truth. 

If you want to have an informed opinion on the WM3 and to understand why they were convicted, you need to read the official court documents and witness statements, and then consider all the pieces of evidence as a whole.

When you research the case for yourself, you will discover that Damian Echols didn’t become a suspect because he wore black, was different, and a bit of an outsider.

When he was questioned in connection with the murder of the three boys, he failed a polygraph test.

A ten question polygraph test was formulated and three polygraph charts were conducted. The test contained the following relevant questions:

Q.#3. At any time wednesday or wednesday night, were you in robin hood hills? “No”

Q.#5. Were you present when those boys were killed? “No”

Q.#7. Did you kill any of those three boys? “No”

Q.#9. Do you know who killed those three boys? “No”

Q.#10.do you suspect anyone of having killed those three boys? “No”

It is the opinion of this polygraph examiner that this subject recorded significant responses indicative of deception when he answered the above listed relevant questions in the manner noted.

Conclusion: deception indicated.

By reading the official court documents, you will also discover that Echols knew specific details about the crime.

“Detective Bryn Ridge testified that Echols said he understood the victims had been mutilated, with one being cut up more than the others, and that they had drowned. Ridge testified that when Echols made the statement, the fact that Christopher Byers had been mutilated more than the other two victims was not known by the public. The jury could have reasonably concluded that Echols would not have known this fact unless he were involved in some manner.

“Echols took the witness stand, and his testimony contained additional evidence of guilt. When asked about his statement that one victim was mutilated more than the others, he said he learned the fact from newspaper accounts. His attorney showed him the newspaper articles about the murders. On cross-examination, Echols admitted that the articles did not mention one victim being mutilated more than the others, and he admitted that he did not read such a fact in a newspaper.”

(Damien Wayne ECHOLS and Charles Jason Baldwin v. STATE of Arkansas,Supreme Court of Arkansas)



Above: Judge (now State Senator) David Burnett

The police obtained further corroboration that Damian Echols had been involved in the murder of Steve Branch, Michael Moore and Chris Byers when his friend Jessie Misskelley told them that he, Echols and Jason Baldwin had attacked and killed the boys.

“On June 3, or almost one month after the murders, Detective Mike Allen asked Jessie Lloyd Misskelley, Jr., about the murders. Misskelley was not a suspect at the time, but Echols was, and it was thought that Misskelley might give some valuable information about Echols. Detective Allen had been told all three engaged in cult-like activities. Misskelley made two statements to the detective that implicated Echols and Baldwin, as well as himself. The statements can be found in Misskelley v. State, 323 Ark. 449, 459-61, 915 S.W.2d 702, 707-08 (1996).”

(Damien Wayne ECHOLS and Charles Jason Baldwin v. STATE of Arkansas,Supreme Court of Arkansas).

It should be noted that Jessie Misskelley repeatedly claimed that he, Echols and Baldwin had killed the boys before and after he was convicted. On one occasion, he confessed despite being warned not to by his lawyer.

This should trouble anyone who believes the WM3 are innocent because Misskelley wasn’t threatened or promised any deal by the investigators.

He may have a low IQ, but he wasn’t hallucinating when he made these confessions. In short, they were voluntary statements made over a significant period of time - from 3 June 1993 to 17 February 1994.

Furthermore, Misskelley also knew specific details about the crime. He told the police that Christopher Byers had been castrated in an interview on 3 June 1993.

RIDGES: Cutting him in the face. Alright, another boy was cut I understand.  Where was he cut at?

JESSIE: At the bottom

RIDGE: On his bottom? Was he faced down and he was cutting on him, or

JESSIE: He was

GITCHELL: Now you’re talking about bottom, do you mean right here?

JESSIE: Yes

GITCHELL: In his groin area?

JESSIE: Yes

GITCHELL: Okay

RIDGE: Do you know what his penis is?

JESSIE: Yeah, that’s where he was cut at.

RIDGE: That’s where he was cut.

GITCHELL: Which boy was that?

JESSIE: That one right there.

GITCHELL: You’re talking about the Byers boy again?

JESSIE: Yes

GITCHELL: Okay

RIDGE: Are you sure that he was the one that was cut?

JESSIE: That’s the one that I seen them cutting on.

RIDGE: Alright, you know what a penis is?

JESSIE: Yeah

RIDGE: Alright, is that where he was cutting?

JESSIE: That’s where I seen them going down at, and he was on his back. I seen them going down right there real close to his penis and stuff and I saw some blood and that’s when I took off.

Jessie Misskelley’s claim that Christopher Byers was castrated was corroborated by the autopsy report.

“The skin of the penis, scrotal sac and testes were missing. There was a large gaping defect measuring 2 3/4 inch by 1 1/2 inch. The shaft of the penis was present and measured 2 inches in length. The gaping defect was surrounded by multiple and extensive irregular punctate gouging type injuries measuring from 1/8 inch to 3/4 inch and had a depth of penetration of 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch.”

In West of Memphis, it’s claimed that turtles might be responsible for the missing genitals. I found this theory to be fanciful to say the least.

According to the medical examiner, Chris Byers bled to death because his genitals had been mutilated and partially removed. I believe Jessie Miskelley that this happened before he was thrown into the ditch.



Above: the courthouse about 100 miles north of West Memphis

In the same interview, Jessie Misskelley told the police officers that one of the boys was cut in his face.

RIDGE: Okay, now when this is going on, when this is taking place, you saw somebody with a knife. Who had a knife?

JESSIE: Jason

RIDGE: Jason had a knife, what did he cut with the knife. What did you see him cut or who did you see him cut?

JESSIE: I saw him cut one of the little boys

RIDGE: Alright, where did he cut him at?

JESSIE: He was cutting him in the face.

Prosecutor John Fogleman highlighted the fact that Jessie Misskelley knew facts that nobody else knew in his closing argument. He pointed out that Misskelley knew one of the boys had been cut in the fact and that this specific detail wasn’t mentioned in any of the newspapers.

Nothing in there [the newspapers] about a boy being cut in the face. Said they were beat up real bad, but nothing, nothing in there about somebody being cut in the face. He [Jessie Misskelley] says, “Yes, one of them was cut in the face.”

Jessie Misskelley also claimed that Damian Echols grabbed one of the boys by the ear and that the ear was discoloured as a result.

MISSKELLEY: He [Damian Echols] grabbed one of’m by the ear, I don’t know which one, he grabbed on of’m by the ear trying to pull his ear off or something. He grabbed’m pretty tight. It turned kind of red.

This was also corroborated by the autopsy report for Chris Byers. According to the report, he suffered injuries to his right ear:

“Head Injuries:

The right ear was abraded and contused. The inferior aspect of the right ear showed multiple linear abrasions measuring 1/2 inch to 1 1/4 inch.”

When you find out the three boys were stripped and two of them had injuries to their genitals, it’s natural to assume there must have been a sexual motive. Jessie Misskelley told the police that Damian Echols and Jason Baldwin sexually assaulted two of the boys.

JESSIE: Then they [Damian Echols and Jason Baldwin] tied them up, tied their hands up, they started screwing them and stuff, cutting them and stuff, and I saw it and turned around and looked, and then I took off running, I went home, then they called me and asked me, how come I didn’t stay, I told them, I just couldn’t.

John Fogleman also drew the jury’s attention to the fact that Jessie Misskelley knew that two of the boys had been sexually assaulted - something that was also corroborated by the autopsy reports. Chris Byers and Steve Branch had injuries to their genitals.

Finally, in talking about the boys being sexually abused, Inspector Gitchell says, “So they both did it to all three of the boys?” Jessie: “Just them two as far as I know.”



Above: bridge west from Memphis; crime scene is just one mile ahead

According to Lisa Sakevicius - a criminalist from the state lab - the three victims were tied with three different knots.

Her testimony would seem to rule out that the three boys were killed by a single attacker and indicate there were three attackers.

Jessie Misskelley didn’t just confess to the police. According to his friend Buddy Lucas, Misskelley also confessed to him.

Lucas - so we sit there, sit there, and I said, he said man me jason and damien we went walking last night in the town of west memphis, I said why didn’t you all come by and get me? we will we uh, we were in a hurry and everything go up there and come back home. I said alright I understand (inaudible) now since I found out I’m kinda glad he didn’t come by and get me

Ridge - okay, what did he tell you he do?

Lucas - we…. he told me that uh, that he got in a fight, that’s what he told me at first

Ridge - okay

Lucas - I said damien and jason they helped you? He said um-yea and everything so I said well did you all hurt anybody? And he said yea, I didn’t think it was those 8 year old kids or anything, so I turn around and come to found out that jason he was with jason and damien when they sacrificed them little kids. I was come and tell you all

Ridge - he tells you he’s in some trouble?

Lucas - uh-huh

Ridge - and what did he tell you he was in trouble over?

Lucas - that he really, he said um, we hurt, uh…. uh we hurt a couple of boys, that jason and damien killed

Ridge - okay

Lucas - couple, I said was you involved? He said yea, I said what did you do? I finally got it talked out of him what did he do, he said I hit uh, a couple in the back of the head

Ridge - okay, and

Lucas - and everything to keep them from running and everything

Ridge - and that’s what he told you?

Lucas - yes sir

Two witnesses claimed that Damian Echols admitted he had killing the three boys.

Twelve-year-old Christy VanVickle testified that she heard Echols say he “killed the three boys.” Fifteen-year-old Jackie Medford testified that she heard Echols say, “I killed the three little boys and before I turn myself in, I’m going to kill two more, and I already have one of them picked out.”

The testimony of these two independent witnesses was direct evidence of the statement by Echols. These witnesses were cross-examined by Echols counsel, and it was the jury’s province to weigh their credibility.

(Damien Wayne ECHOLS and Charles Jason Baldwin v. STATE of Arkansas,Supreme Court of Arkansas).




5. Alternative perp Terry Hobbs

The producers of West of Memphis make a case for Terry Hobbs - the stepfather of Steve Branch - being the killer and that his friend David Jacoby was a possible accomplice. However, Hamish McKenzie points out in an article for The Atlantic that the filmmakers are guilty of hypocrisy.

“But the rave reviews miss a dangerous hypocrisy at the heart of the film, which was paid for and produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, and directed by Amy Berg. In their quest to clear the names of the “West Memphis Three"—Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley, Jr. who were teenagers when they were convicted for the 1993 killings—the filmmakers decide that they have found the actual murderer: Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of one of the murdered boys. And in publicly making the case against him, they perpetrate a similar sort of injustice to the one they originally set out to correct: relying on questionable evidence to prosecute in the court of public opinion.”

The producers of West of Memphis point the finger at Hobbs because he has a history of domestic violence, he gave inconistent alibis and they think two hairs found at the crime scene implicate him and his friend Jacoby. However, Thomas Fedor, one of the defence experts, called the hairs weak evidence.

“The two hairs that I know about – the one that could have in fact come from Mr. Hobbs and the one that could have in fact come from David Jacoby – constitute what I call weak evidence. Because there are other people it could have come from and there isn’t any way to really prove our selection of possible sources for that hair.

I don’t think – my personal opinion – I don’t think that that hair evidence would be enough to convict Mr. Hobbs or Mr. Jacoby or anyone that would be in a similar situation because it’s simply not strong enough.

The percentages I gave of people who could be the source of those hairs are 1.5% of the population in the respect to one hair and 7% in respect to the other hair. That’s not particularly strong evidence and especially in the context of what most people are accustomed to with DNA testing.” (Thomas Fedor, Forensic Serologist).


6. Some conclusions

Concluding the WM3 are innocent on the basis of watching West of Memphis would be like concluding Amanda Knox is innocent after reading Waiting to Be Heard. The documentary is clearly biased and one-sided.

The producers did not address most of the evidence that led to the convictions of the WM3 let alone refute it. This is not surprising when you consider the fact that Damian Echols is one of the producers.

The defence lawyers assessed the evidence and recommended that their clients accept a court judgement of guilt. Surely if there was no credible evidence against the WM3 they would have opted for a new trial. If they had been found not guilty, they would have been able to sue the state for millions of dollars.

The supposedly exculpatory evidence was that some DNA was recovered from the crime scene was not attributable to any of the victims or the WM3. Since it is not known to whom that DNA belongs, one cannot say what that person’s role, if any, was and whether the evidence would help the defendants.




Above: from freeway, crime scene is by a creek within trees in left background

7. Valuable Sources

Click: ‘West Memphis Three’ freed after 18 years in prison

Click: Damien Echols: Statements and Polygraph Reports (May 9-10, 1993)

Click: Supreme Court of Arkansas

Click: Closing Argument of John Fogleman

Click: Damien Echols - mental health records - Exhibit 500

Click: Peter Jackson’s West of Memphis: the tale of three wronged men

Click: Damien Echols: how I survived death row

Click: West Memphis Three Facts

Click: The Unsettling Recklessness of Peter Jackson’s ‘West of Memphis’

Click: Misskelley v. State

Click: Statement of Jessie L. Misskelley, Jr. (June 3, 1993 at 2:44 P.M.)

Click: Statement of Jessie Misskelley, Jr. February 17, 1994

Click: Autopsy report for Steven Branch

Click: Autopsy report for Chris Byers

Click: Autopsy report for Michael Moore

Click: Lisa Sakevicius’s testimony

Click: A Skeptic’s Guide To The West Memphis Three Documentaries

Click: Is Amanda Knox Guilty?


[Below: The crime scene about 1 mile west of Memphis - warning, images of the murdered boys are included]

Posted on 08/25/16 at 12:32 AM by The MachineClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Tuesday, August 09, 2016

So Where Would YOU Want To Go On Trial? In Italy Or In The U.S.?

Posted by Peter Quennell





One reason so many still follow Meredith’s case is because justice has not yet been SEEN to be done.

Maybe 9 out of 10 Italians think this.

Over the years the Italian justice system has become immensely tilted against prosecutors and victims at trial. Right now it is one of the toughest - or if you like, most lenient - anywhere in the world.

Read for example Nicki and Commissario Montalbano for two among our numerous posts on this. 

We have still not seen even ONE American lawyer claim that after the first trial in 2009 which found RS and AK guilty that there were strong grounds for an appeal.

In the US, back in 2009, full prison terms would have been begun.

And in fact virtually nothing at the 2009 trial was challenged in the appeal. But the defenses subversively organized to get Civil Judge Hellmann instead of Criminal Judge Chiari to preside, and in 2011 a farcical “not guilty” outcome was the result.

Then there was a THIRD jury trial, in 2013-14, which (as so often in Italy) threw out the not guilty outcome of the previous appeal trial.

And finally, in 2015, due to more subversive defense machinations with a little mafia help, the final Supreme Court appeal was assigned to the FIFTH Chambers, for the first murder appeal that Chambers has ever heard.

A second farcical “not guilty” outcome was the result.

Say what you like about the American system, there is not remotely any parallel in its judicial history to all of that.  Quite the opposite in fact. We have had various posts pointing to an increasingly hard line in the US.

This is one not necessarily sought or appreciated by prosecutors or judges, who usually like trials and want to see juries of peers call the final shots.

It is actually being imposed by Federal and State politicians, many of whom were prosecutors themselves. Bizarre jury outcomes as at the OJ Simpson and Casey Anthony trials contributed somewhat to this trend.

One result is a trend the exact opposite of Italy’s - the increasing elimination of juries and even of trials altogether. The New York Times explains.

The criminal trial ended more than two and a half years ago, but Judge Jesse M. Furman can still vividly recall the case. It stands out, not because of the defendant or the subject matter, but because of its rarity: In his four-plus years on the bench in Federal District Court in Manhattan, it was his only criminal jury trial…

The Southern District held only 50 criminal jury trials last year, the lowest since 2004, according to data provided by the court. The pace remains slow this year.

In 2005, records show, there were more than double the number of trials: 106. And decades ago, legal experts said, the numbers were much higher.

“It’s hugely disappointing,” said Judge Jed S. Rakoff, a 20-year veteran of the Manhattan federal bench. “A trial is the one place where the system really gets tested. Everything else is done behind closed doors.”

Legal experts attribute the decline primarily to the advent of the congressional sentencing guidelines and the increased use of mandatory minimum sentences, which transferred power to prosecutors, and discouraged defendants from going to trial, where, if convicted, they might face harsher sentences.

In 1997, according to federal courts data nationwide, 3,200 of 63,000 federal defendants were convicted in jury trials; in 2015, there were only 1,650 jury convictions, out of 81,000 defendants.

Former Judge John Gleeson, who in March stepped down from the federal bench in Brooklyn to enter private practice, noted in a 2013 court opinion that 81 percent of federal convictions in 1980 were the product of guilty pleas; in one recent year, the figure was 97 percent.

Judge Gleeson wrote that because most pleas are negotiated before a prosecutor prepares a case for trial, the “thin presentation” of evidence needed for indictment “is hardly ever subjected to closer scrutiny by prosecutors, defense counsel, judges or juries.”

“The entire system loses an edge,” he added, “and I have no doubt that the quality of justice in our courthouses has suffered as a result.”

The article lists a number of resulting ill effects. Will the Knox apologists be up in arms? Dont hold your breath.

Posted on 08/09/16 at 06:52 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Artificially Controversial Adnan Syed Case Adds To Tilt Against Victims Worldwide

Posted by The Machine



Victim Hae Min Lee; bottom, podcaster Sarah Koenig basking in celebrity

1. The Media Overview

Doug Preston, John Douglas, Steve Moore and Bruce Fischer are by no means the only crackpots in America perpetrating innocence fraud.

Their main distinction was to perpetrate it in English against a victim and a police and court system of other countries, using ignorance and smears and a largely complicit American media to trample hard truths in the case.

But innocence fraud is still a tiny industry in Italy as compared with the godzilla it is becoming in America - often with politically vulnerable judges and usually with naive do-gooders in compliance. 

2. The Adnan Syed/Hae Min Lee serial podcast

Much of the public seems to have developed an insatiable appetite for documentaries about people who have been convicted of murders they allegedly didn’t commit. Faux TV documentaries title American Girl, Italian Nightmare, Paradise Lost, West of Memphis, and Making of a Murderer, have all been watched by millions of people.

Podcasts are another way of reaching them. Wikipedia defines a podcast as “a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or portable media player, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically.”

High school student Hae Min Lee was the victim in this 1999 Baltimore murder case and her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed was convicted in 2000 of her murder and is serving a life sentence plus 30 years. 

The serial podcast about the Adnan Syed/Hae Min Lee case has been downloaded over 80 million times now. According to Apple, it’s the fastest podcast to reach five million downloads and streams in the history of iTunes.

In the light of public sentiment inflamed by it a retrial has been ordered, a ruling which Maryland’s attorney general will now seek to overturn.

Why was this serial podcast so popular?

Natasha Vargas-Cooper and Ken Silverstein made the following observation about the success of Serial in an article about the case for The Intercept:

“The reality is that ‘Serial’ only worked if it could demonstrate that there were serious doubts about the fairness of Syed’s trial and conviction. If he were guilty, there was no story. The storytelling device was to amplify claims that favored Syed’s defense and contrast that with a watered-down version of the state’s case”

TV producers and podcast makers know full well that an innocent person being railroaded by corrupt or incompetent cops is a far more melodramatic story than a run-of-the-mill domestic violence murder.

Paul Ciolino admitted in a question and answer session about the Meredith Kercher case at Seattle University that CBS News didn’t care whether someone was innocent. The only thing they care about is the story.

“I work for CBS News. I want to tell you one thing about CBS. We don’t care if you did it. We don’t care if you’re innocent. We like a story. We want to do a story. That’s all we care about.”

CBS News produced one of the most biased and factually inaccurate documentaries about the Meredith Kercher case “American Girl, Italian Nightmare”.

The CBS documentary is an archetypal example of innocence fraud. The story is told primarily from the defence point of view, incriminating pieces of evidence are ignored and the programme contains a number of significant factual errors.

3. Faults by podcast creator Sarah Koenig

The Serial is another example of innocence fraud. Sarah Koenig, the executive producer and host of Serial, tries to be partial and objective, but fails miserably.

Instead of maintaining a professional distance from Adnan Syed, she becomes emotionally attached to him, and it’s clear she desperately wants to believe he’s innocent.

She can barely hide her disappointment when she finds out things that show Syed in a bad light. Her comments that Syed doesn’t seem like a killer are just crass. She comes across as an unwordly academic who has been sheltered from the real world in her ivory tower. 

She says she doesn’t buy the motive put forward by the prosecution i.e. Adnan Syed couldn’t deal with being dumped by Hae Min Lee and it erupted in violence.

In reality, people kill other people for the most banal and trivial reasons. She doesn’t seem to understand that there are seven billion on the planet and not everyone shares her logic and morals. There have been a number of high-profile murder cases where seemingly normal people have committed horrific and senseless murders with little or no motive.

And motive is not a required element in any common law jurisdiction.

She adopts a piecemeal cherrypicking approach to the evidence and analyses each piece of evidence in isolation from the other pieces of evidence. If there’s an alternative innocent explanation not matter how far-fetched it is, she wrongly assumes it nullifies that particular piece of evidence.

It’s no surprise she concludes there isn’t enough evidence to convict Adnan Syed of murder: “It’s not enough, to me, to send anyone to prison for life.”

She doesn’t understand the concept and application of the “beyond a reasonable doubt standard” and that all the pieces of evidence have to be considered wholly, not separately - by a jury actually present to size up all witnesses.

According to the Supreme Court of the United States in Victor. Nebraska (92-8894), 511 U.S. 1 (1994):

“…absolute or mathematical certainty is not required.”

“You may be convinced of the truth of a fact beyond a
reasonable doubt and yet be fully aware that possibly you may be mistaken.”

You put all the pieces of evidence together to see whether a picture of guilt emerges.

According to the Supreme Court of Canada in Stewart v. The Queen, [1977] 2 SCR 748:

“It may be, and such is often the case, that the facts proven by the Crown, examined separately have not a very strong probative value; but all the facts put in evidence have to be considered each one in relation to the whole, and it is all of them taken together, that may constitute a proper basis for a conviction.”






4. Main facts of the case against Adnan Syed

The key pieces of evidence in the case were the testimony of his friend Jay Wilds and the mobile phone records which destroyed Adnan Syed’s initial alibi that he was at the mosque on the evening of 13 January 1999 - the day Hae Min Lee disappeared- and corroborated Wilds’ claims that he and Adnan were in Leakin Park that evening.

This is significant because Hae Min Lee’s body was found in Leakin Park. There’s no question that Jay Wilds had inside knowledge about the murder - he led the police to Hae Min Lee’s car. He confessed to being an accessory to murder after the fact.

On 13 January 1999, Hae Min Lee was supposed to pick up her cousin from the Campfield Early Learning Center after school and take her home. She must have been abducted by her killer whilst on the way to the kindergarten.

This means the window of opportunity for her killer to abduct her was extremely narrow. It takes approximately 11 minutes to drive the 3.8 miles from Woodlawn High School to the kindergarten. 

Jay Wilds told the police that Adnan Syed’s plan was to get a lift with Hae Min Lee. Becky and Krista, who were friends with Hae and Syed, claim they heard him asking Hae for a lift on 13 January 1999. Scott Adcock, a police officer, testified that Syed had told him he had asked Hae for a lift that day.

Syed would later deny that he had asked Hae for a lift. Adnan Syed had lent Wilds his mobile phone and car that day. However, it should be pointed out that it wasn’t the first time that Syed had done this.

Kevin Urick, one of the prosecutors, acknowledged in his interview with The Intercept that the two key pieces of evidence - the mobile records and Jay Wilds’ testimony - are of weaker probative value when considered separately, but pointed out that when you put them together, they are strong pieces of evidence.

“Jay’s testimony by itself, would that have been proof beyond a reasonable doubt?” Urick asked rhetorically. “Probably not. Cellphone evidence by itself? Probably not.”

But, he said, when you put together cellphone records and Jay’s testimony, “they corroborate and feed off each other–it’s a very strong evidentiary case.”

He also pointed out that the mobile phone records destroyed Adnan Syed’s alibi that he was at the mosque on the evening of 13 January 1999. From The Intercept:

“Yes. Early on in the Syed case, the defense sent us a disclosure of about eighty names stating that these were witnesses that were going to testify that Syed was at the mosque because it was Ramadan. He was praying all evening and that’s where he was [Intercept ed’s. note: We have corrected this in the introduction].

If they called those eighty witnesses, they would’ve obviously been testifying falsely, because the cellphone records in conjunction with all the evidence we gathered about the cellphone towers, who made the calls, who received them, place him everywhere but at the mosque.

The best defense an attorney can put on is the defense the client is telling them. But attorneys still are not supposed to put on fabricated evidence. And that would’ve been fabricated evidence. And I think once Gutierrez recognized that fact, she did not put it on.”

Adnan Syed chose not to testify at both his trials. If he had, Kevin Urick would have asked him a pertinent question.

“And my very last question would be, what is your explanation for why you either received or made a call from Leakin Park the evening that Hae Min Lee disappeared, the very park that her body was found in five weeks later?”

The mobile phone records also showed there was a call from his mobile phone to his friend Nisha’s landline at 3:32pm on the day Hae disappeared. This is significant because Jay Wilds didn’t know Nisha and Adnan Syed claims he didn’t have his phone at this time as Jay Wilds had it. The phone call lasted more than two minutes.

Sarah Koening speculates that the Nisha call could have been a “butt dial”.

Dana Chivvis, one of the “Serial” producers, puts the pieces of evidence together in episode 12 and seems to have serious reservations about Adnan Syed’s innocence.

“Adnan has always said it was his idea to loan Jay the car because he wanted to get Stefanie a birthday present right. So that’s pretty crappy luck that you loaned this guy who ends up pointing the finger at you for the murder that you loaned him your car and cell phone the day you ex-girlfriend goes missing. The next thing is that it seems pretty clear to me that Adnan asked Hae for a ride after school because we’ve got at least two of their friends saying they overheard him ask for a ride from Hae.

Adnan himself tells the cop that day he asked Hae for a ride. And In Jay’s first interview with the detectives, he says to them Adnan’s plan was to get in Hae’s car by telling her that his car was broken down and asking her for a ride. Then the next piece of bad luck is the Nisha call. I mean even if the Nisha call could potentially be a butt dial… in the realm of possibility maybe it was a butt dial, but what are the chances? Like that sucks for for you that your phone butt dialled the girl that only you know and would call on this day your ex-girlfriend goes missing that you happen to loan your car and phone out to the guy who ends up pointing the finger at you. That sucks.

And the last thing that I think really sucks for him if he’s innocent is that Jay’s story and the cell phone records match up from about 6 o’clock to about 8 o’clock which is when Jay is saying that you’re burying the body and that’s the time of day when you have no memory of where you were…But you Adnan you don’t really remember where you were that evening and that blank spot in your memory that’s the window of time when Jay’s story actually does seem to be corroborated by the cell phone records.”

It’s important to put the evidence that Dana Chivvis outlines into the wider context of Adnan Syed and Hae Min Lee’s deteriorating relationship.

In November 1998, two months before Hae Min Lee was murdered, she wrote a break-up note to Syed telling him to move on, accept her decision to end their relationship, and to “hate me if you will.” On the back of the note Adnan Syed wrote: “I’m going to kill.”

Is it a coincidence that two months later that Hae Min Lee was killed?

Is it a coincidence that Adnan Syed can remember very little about this day even though it wasn’t an ordinary day because the police called him to tell that Hae was missing and asked him if he knew where she was?

Ann Brocklehurst wrote a blog article criticising Sarah Koenig for consistently minimising the warning signs of intimate partner violence and noted that she overlooked that fact that Hae had asked a teacher, Hope Schab, to help her hide from Syed.




5. Doubts Sarah Koenig tries to raise

Sarah Koenig seems to think that Asia McClain is a credible witness - she claims she saw Adan Syed in the library that afternoon. However, Kevin Urick points out why the judge in the post-conviction trial didn’t take her claim seriously.

“I think the judge in the post-conviction trial does a very good job of pointing out that in the letters to Syed, she is very vague and indifferent about what she’s doing. The difficulty comes from Syed. In all his statements about his whereabouts the day of the case he says that he was at the school from 2:15pm to 3:30pm.

He never once, in any statement, at any time, made any reference about being in the public library. His defense was that he was at the school from 2:30 to 3:30. So [Asia McClain’s] reporting seeing him at the public library contradicts what he says he was doing.”

Kevin Urick also stated that Asia McClain told him she was being put under a lot of pressure from Adnan Syed’s family.

“Asia contacted me before the post-conviction hearing, she got my number and called me and expressed to me a great deal of concern about whether or not she would have to testify at the post-conviction hearing. She told me she was under a lot of pressure from Adnan’s family and to get them off her back she wrote him a couple letters.

The implication was she was trying to appease them and she didn’t want to have to stick by it at that time. And I testified to that when I appeared in the post-conviction hearing.”

Sarah Koenig also seems to think that Jay Wilds’ testimony shouldn’t have been used to convict Adnan Syed because he gave conflicting accounts. Kevin Urick explained why these inconsistencies don’t discredit him as a witness.

“Like I said, people who are engaged in criminal activity, it’s like peeling an onion. The initial thing they say is, ‘I don’t know a thing about this.’ And then ‘Well, I sort of saw this.’ You get different stories as you go along. This is the real world. We don’t pick our witnesses, we have to put them on as they are. There were a lot of inconsistencies throughout Jay’s prior statements. Almost all of them involve what we would call collateral facts.

“A material fact is something directly related to the question of guilt or innocence. A material fact would have been, ‘I was with Adnan,’ and then you’ve got the cellphone corroborating that material fact. A collateral fact would be, We were at Joe’s Sub Shop,’ but then you find out actually they were at the auto repair store. That’s a collateral fact. It’s not necessarily material to the question of guilt or innocence. So, many of the material facts were corroborated through the cellphone records including being in Leakin Park.”

Sarah Koenig is not the only person who thinks Jay Wilds’ testimony shouldn’t have been used to convict Adnan Syed.

Civil lawyer Richard Dwyer says doesn’t believe Adnan Syed and thinks he might be guilty, but he states he shouldn’t have been convicted because Jay Wilds gave conflicting statements and the timeline wasn’t proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

There seems to be a widespread misconception that the prosecution must be able to prove with absolute certainty each and every element of a second-by-second comprehensive timeline and that witness testimony must be discounted if there are any contradictions. 

The bottom line is the jury found Jay Wilds to be a credible witness and found Adnan Syed guilty of murder.

6. Some Conclusions

A biased and one-sided 12-part documentary presented by a partisan journalist doesn’t supercede a criminal trial where the jurors get to hear the defence and prosecution present their cases and watch witnesses being cross-examined in court.

Justice shouldn’t be a like a reality TV show where the public gets to decide whether someone convicted of murder should be allowed leave the big house. However, there’s no doubt that these types of documentaries do influence legal proceedings. A judge has recently ruled that Adnan Syed will be given another trial.

We can expect Adnan Syed’s supporters and a number of media organisations will try to influence the legal proceedings before and during the new trial. This couldn’t happen in the UK because of the sub judice rules which prevents the media from commenting on a case until a verdict is reached in order to prevent the jury from being swayed.

The Guardian recently published an article entitled “Adnan Syed is innocent. Now find Hae Min Lee’s real killer”, which was written by Adnan Syed’s chief advocate Rabia Chaudry. I hope the mainstream media provide balanced and factually accurate reports on the case - something they didn’t do when covering the Meredith Kercher case.

Journalists and the public should remember that a miscarriage of justices are not just cases where innocent people have been convicted of crimes they didn’t commit. They include cases where people have literally got away with murder. I can’t think of one documentary about such a case.

7. The reactions of Hae Min Lee’s family

Hae Min Lee’s family sat through the trials along with the juries and have no doubts that Adnan Syed killed her.

“It remains hard to see so many run to defend someone who committed a horrible crime, who destroyed our family, who refuses to accept responsibility, when so few are willing to speak up for Hae.”

Unlike Sarah Koenig or any of the 80 million people who downloaded the Serial podcasts, they actually attended every day of both trials, heard the arguments put forward from the defence and prosecution and saw the witnesses being cross-examined on the stand.

“unlike those who learn about this case on the internet, we sat and watched every day of both trials – so many witnesses, so much evidence”.




Some Of The Main Sources

One: Serial Season One

Two: EXCLUSIVE: PROSECUTOR IN ‘SERIAL’ CASE GOES ON THE RECORD

Three: EXCLUSIVE: SERIAL PROSECUTOR DEFENDS GUILTY VERDICT IN ADNAN SYED CASE, PART II.

Four: Serial podcast rehabilitated a schoolgirl’s murderer, so where’s the feminist outrage?

Five: Serial case: victim’s family offers rare statement before hearing resumes

Six: Adnan Syed is innocent. Now find Hae Min Lee’s real killer

Seven: Syed Of ‘Serial’ Podcast Given Retrial

Eight: Serial Podcast Locations

Nine: ‘Serial’ takes the stand: How a podcast became a character in its own narrative

Ten: Serial Finale—Why I Don’t Believe Adnan Syed

 

Posted on 07/27/16 at 07:46 AM by The MachineClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Italian Justice: Describing A Fine System And How To Improve It

Posted by Machiavelli (Yummi)

[Revered prosecutor Paolo Borsellino was assassinated 1992 with probable political connivance]

Trashing Of Justice System Gets Worse

Does this Reuters report capture Italian justice correctly?

We linked to it on 30 June and it seemed to have some key points missing. For example it omits, as English-language reports tend to:

    (1) that the system as originally designed strove above all to be fair,

    (2) that crime rates in Italy are low and murder rates lower and levels of incarceration and recidivism tiny by European standards.

    (3) that the police and justice system remain more popular and trusted than other institutions in Italy.

More On The Hard Facts

If we look at the facts, we could say that while it is true that Italian Justice System is somewhat dysfunctional as far as prosecuting white collar crimes and corruption - that is, politicians like Verdini - in fact if we read carefully, the precise reasons are:

    (1) It’s not the system itself but some of the laws, designed by politicians precisely in order to protect themselves, against the demands of the judiciaries;

    (2) The system is slow because, among other things, there are these unreasonable guarantees in favour of defence rights, which entail the right to series of appeals even on minor charges; besides making trials too long this also leads to a multiplication in the number of trials and of lawyers that embark on time-buying strategies and technicalities;

    (3) The main problems are the short statutes of limitations, which are designed in synergy with the aforementioned features. I would add another legal aspect:

    (4) The lack of an aggressive anti-corruption law; in Italy, judiciaries are basically prevented not only to effectively try corruption charges but also to even investigate them, because the law binds their hands; they are heavily restricted in their possibility to collect evidence, such as searching homes or wiretapping phone calls; they can do this only under certain limited conditions and only for just a few types of crimes.

    (5) Moreover, there are the political reasons: magistrates are under threat by the political system. The problem, here, is not the judiciary but the political system that has been trying to curb the independence of the judiciary for 25 years by various means, including laws and expedients, so that in fact there is an infiltration and an influence, as we know, and there is a chilling effect on magistrates that may have reasons to prosecute powerful people but naturally prefer to avoid problems.


A very important thing to point out: it is not true that all of the judicial system requires some big “reform” - in fact, it requires only modest reforms, and reforms not of the judiciary but to just to the criminal law, would suffice.

Such modifications should include reform of the statute of limitations, and better anti-corruption law that provide prosecutors with investigation tools.

As for the procedure code, a cut to the number of charges that can be appealed. And in the penal code, a cut to the number of irrelevant charges that need to be tried by criminal courts (which could be settled elsewhere) leading to the notorious overloading of the system.

One small, peripheral “reform” dealing with the political issue, could be simply a law that prevents judges from political activity in order to advance their career in the judiciary.

We saw the classical example of Fifth Chambers Judge Gennaro Marasca: a politician who came back working in the justice system after spending years exchanging political favours and getting involved in financial scandals as the minister of budget in his administration, and then was legally allowed to exploit his previous political career and make it count in his resume as if it was a judicial career, so he got onto the Supreme Court. 

But the big problem in Italy, as Judge Piercamillo Davigo has put it, is not the Judicial system. It’s society. The problem is that no system actually works if the members of the society do not intend to make it work, if there is a lack of political ethics.

And also, there is no system or group that, in the long run, is not affected by the problems of the society it belongs to. When there is a regime, part of the judiciary always follows suit, because they don’t have real alternatives, individuals must comply with the system they are part of.

If a society is politically corrupt, part of the judiciary will become politically corrupt as a consequence, they have no alternative and it’s unavoidable.  There is no law or reform itself that can change personal behaviours alone, we do not live under constant surveillance: an internalization of values is needed, the behaviour of citizens and people in power needs to be ethical, in order to have efficient justice.

As for the Five Star movement: I wouldn’t call it “pro-justice-reform”, as we can see, there is not really a political debate in Italy or in the Party about the need for any big reform, it’s attention to just some laws that are needed, among them that anti-corruption law.

The Five-Star movement has an anti-corruption stance and an anti-establishment stance. But rather than pro-reform, they are pro-justice, and generally pro-magistrates. This means they tend to side with the positions of judiciaries against the demands of the traditional political forces.

Judge Piercamillo Davigo is Director of Criminal Chambers II and the Penalties Joint Section at the Court of Cassation . Since April 2016 he has also been president of the National Magistrates Association (CSM).  He is an idol of the Five Star movement’s voters - albeit he does not have a political position.

On a practical level this could be seen as if the Five Star movement would like to see more criminals in jail and the prosecutors prosecuting more, while the Democrats and their allies and the other traditional parties would like the power of justice to be limited (they are the ones who designed the “inefficient” features of the system to their advantage, after all). 

Once again, the problems of inefficiency etc, in Italy does not come from the judicial system; they come from the political system. It’s the political system that has become inefficient, stuck and unstabile. There has been a lack of dynamic democracy for decades. Once the political establishment of Italy was related to mafia in many areas and there is still a murky system of power.

The “inefficiency” of the judicial system is only a mirror of this problem, that is the effect of the political establishment trying to take control of the system, or to block it or hinder it when control fails.

Both the political powers and organized crime have long also employed other methods when the previous failed, such as ad personam attacks against specific magistrates.

Former prosecutor Luigi De Magistris - the mayor of Naples - is an example of the political powers striking back against a magistrate who investigated them: they managed to ruin his career with the help of other complacent judges who waged war against him, and forced him out of the judiciary.

But they did not blow his popularity: the people supported him and he was elected mayor, antagonizing the national political powers.

It’s important to point out that what happened to Dr Mignini is exactly the same: he was prosecuted for alleged non-existent abuses because he disturbed powerful circles with “destabilizing” investigations into the Narducci case, then all charges were dropped, and the investigation proved illegitimate, but they managed to block the investigation on the Narducci case and hindered his career somewhat.

Other judges were less lucky: Paolo Borsellino for example was killed with the probable help of the Italian state. Many others died also.

Posted on 07/10/16 at 12:56 PM by Machiavelli (Yummi)Click here & then top left for all my posts;
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Monday, June 20, 2016

How The Italian “Justice Tortoise” Is The Likely Winner Compared To For Example the US System

Posted by Peter Quennell



American prosecutor & jury - puzzle now over what system will make them share all evidence


Look around you.

The things you do to make a living. The running of your house and your garden. The education and general development of your children. The restaurants and metro railways and bus services. The police and military and football teams - and grand opera!

All are purposeful systems.

Purposeful systems have created all we have ever built on this planet - all wealth, all structures, all machines, all culture.  Typically any educated adult has within them at least 200 significant systems AKA their skill-set: cooking a meal, riding a bicycle, driving a car, using a computer, playing basketball.

You probably dont have a manual for each of them but each time you exercise a skill you probably follow the same hard-learned steps each time you want the benefit obtained previously.

One of the world’s great problems now - starkly seen in the British argument over its future in Europe, and in slow growth in the Arab world (the world’s slowest), and in China’s economy slowing and in anyone without a college degree likely to be worse off going forward - is that we are locked into whole huge arrays of these systems at various levels (family, corporate, city, country, region) that are archaic and mostly quite wrong for our needs going forward.

And few are sure which of all of them add any real value. We are flying blind on a mammoth scale.

With regard to the US as the main economic locomotive, in the 90s two very significant things happened. The East Asia economies really rocketed - because they adopted good systems pioneered by Japan, which itself had started out with many invented in America.

And for a while at least, many Americans really began to “see” systems, and corporations started a huge push toward quality control. You can see one outcome in today’s automobile ads - cars largely sell on their reliability. Their drive systems and safety systems are what sells cars now.

Latest thinking which we often touch on here is that tweaking of any systems anywhere has a short half-life, and after that the only way to get any better is to totally replace them.  Go down the road and start over. Jump to the next level through complete reinvention.

After WWII Germany and Japan and Italy of necessity all did that and for most of the time since they really benefited.

But right now, most systems in most countries are archaic and nobody - at least no political leader or candidate - seems to be able to arrive at the vision and technique vital to jumping to the next level. That in fact should really be done mostly bottom-up, with national politicians playing quite a minor role.

“Path dependencies” like the myriad systems of the common market, many very old now, are today at least as deadly to our long-term future as any aliens from other planets.

Italy is working to try to update its justice system right now and we will report on that shortly. At least in theory, it has one of the easiest tasks in the world, because post WWII its legal system was redesigned from the ground up. It had already junked bad aspects, some going back centuries.

Italy already has some of the world’s smartest juries - jury service is compulsory, so smart people cannot dodge them. And the system already has some other very positive things going for it.

Mainly what is needed is some weeding. And such reforms are made easier in Italy because (1) judges and prosecutors all follow career paths and so they are not politically competing with one another;  and (2) there is the Council of Magistrates (CSM) which can be very progressive in the reforms it pushes at its level.

Overarching reform in the United States is way way more difficult because power is so diffused in the political system and the political system is so vast, and so split by ideologies, and there is no CSM.

Here is an editorial in the New York Times about curbing the massive damage being done by over-zealous prosecutors - something already taken care of in the Italian system, despite the busload of idiots claiming otherwise.

And here is a blog post calling the New York Times editorial a convoluted crackpot of a column and saying the Times should get real. At least in that way, reform aint ever going to happen.

Hop on a plane, guys. Go to Italy, and learn something. 

Posted on 06/20/16 at 10:39 AM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Justice systemsItalian systemUS etc systemsThe wider contextsItalian contextN America context
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Monday, April 25, 2016

Another Effective Innovation By New York Police Is Being Duplicated By Others

Posted by Peter Quennell



Police horses, up to a dozen stroked and photographed each evening in the Times Square area


In national US news any innovation of the New York police gets a lot of coverage.

Those crowd-calming police horses seen nightly in the Times Square area go way back, and their presence was never reduced back when some other cities did so - often to their later regret.

There is endemic pressure (especially after 9/11) to keep the city as safe as possible.

From that sustained effort at systems improvement, other American police forces, some very besieged at the moment, attempt to learn something.

New York police both themselves innovate and also adopt good ideas from elsewhere - not least from the brave, popular and effective police forces of Italy.

We posted in January 2013 on New York’s adoption of an Italian approach to policing.

One approach which seems a natural for Italy with all of its art is proving successful in New York now.

Described in the NY Times today is this ongoing exercise in staring at artworks. The point being to sharpen the perceptions of investigators, and to put them all on the same page objectively.

To teach people how to notice details they might otherwise miss, Amy E. Herman, an expert in visual perception, likes to take them to museums and get them to look at the art. Recently she escorted a group of New York City police officers to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and asked them to describe some of the things they saw.

They did their best. “This seems to be a painting of some males with horses,” one officer said of Rosa Bonheur’s mid-19th-century work “The Horse Fair,” a scene of semi-chaos as horses are driven to market. He tried to abide by Ms. Herman’s admonishment to avoid words like “obviously.” “It appears to be daytime, and the horses appear to be traveling from left to right.”

Another pair of officers tackled Picasso’s 1905 “At the Lapin Agile,” which depicts a wilted-looking couple sitting at a French bar after what might have been a long night out. “They appear to have had an altercation,” one observed. The other said, “The male and female look like they’re together, but the male looks like he’ll be sleeping on the couch.”

The officers asked that their names not be used because they were not authorized to speak to reporters. They said that they did not know much about art — their jobs allow little opportunity for recreational museumgoing — and Ms. Herman said she preferred it that way.

“I’ve had people say, ‘I hate art,’ and I say, ‘That’s not relevant,’” she said. “This is not a class about Pollock versus Picasso. I’m not teaching you about art today; I’m using art as a new set of data, to help you clear the slate and use the skills you use on the job. My goal when you walk out the door is that you’re thinking differently about the job.”

A painting has many functions. It’s a cultural artifact, an aesthetic object, an insight into a time and a place, a piece of commerce. To Ms. Herman, it’s also an invaluable repository of visual detail that can help shed light on, say, how to approach a murder scene. “It’s extremely evocative and perfect for critical inquiry,” she said in an interview. “What am I seeing here? How do I attach a narrative to it?”

One of the processes:

Before unleashing the officers in the galleries, she talked to them in a classroom in the Met’s basement. She put up a slide of “Mrs. John Winthrop,” a 1773 portrait by John Singleton Copley. The painting, showing a woman sitting at a table holding little pieces of fruit, is considered a masterpiece of fine detail — the intricacy of the lace trim on the lady’s gown, the rich decorations on her hat. But there’s a detail that’s so obvious, or maybe so seemingly irrelevant, that most people fail to mention it in their description.

“Everyone sees that this is a woman with fruit, and 80 percent miss the mahogany table,” she said. (They also miss the woman’s reflection in the veneer.)

Ms. Herman also displayed a pair of slides featuring reclining nudes: Goya’s “The Nude Maja” (1797-1800) and Lucian Freud’s 1995 “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping,” who is very fat. Ms. Herman asked the group to compare the pictures. “Most cops, when I ask this question, say it shows someone before and after marriage,” she said.

Several officers raised their hands.

“Uh, the woman at the bottom is more generously proportioned,” one said.

“She is morbidly obese,” said another.

“Right!” Ms. Herman said. “Don’t make poor word choices. Think about every word in your communication.”

Ms. Herman, who has a new book out, “Visual Intelligence: Sharpen Your Perception, Change Your Life,” came to her vocation in a roundabout way. She worked first as a lawyer, did not like it, took a job in the development office at the Brooklyn Museum and then moved to the Frick Collection. Earning a master’s degree in art history at night at Hunter College, she eventually became head of the Frick’s education department.

There, inspired by a program in which Yale medical students studied works of art to better observe their patients, she helped devise a similar program for the Frick. Eventually she moved beyond medicine. She has been offering the courses full time as her own business since 2011; her clients include federal and local law enforcement agencies across the country, as well as medical students and business executives.

Also successful elsewhere:

Steve Dye, chief of police at the Grand Prairie Police Department in Texas, brought in Ms. Herman recently to talk to a group of officers from the region. He said her presentation was invaluable in showing the officers how to better observe and document their findings accurately and free from bias.

“Some of the works of art she showed us, we wouldn’t notice the finer details,” he said. “And we’re supposed to be professional observers.”

When forced to deconstruct paintings in group settings, people from different professions tend to respond differently.

For cops it’s a natural.

“The law enforcement community is much more forthcoming,” Ms. Herman said. “Cops will outtalk you every time. Doctors and medical students are much more inhibited. They don’t want to be wrong, and they never want to show that they are ignorant about anything.”

The New York Police Department is one of Ms. Herman’s most important clients. She tailors her presentations to her audiences, and they are on the regular training curriculum at the detective bureau and the training bureau at the Police Academy; other divisions use her services from time to time. In general, her program is voluntary rather than mandatory.

“Amy reminds officers to explore outside the box,” said Police Officer Heather Totoro, who added that the program helped officers in training because of its “uniqueness and power.”

“She taps into officers’ unique sixth sense, teaching them to tell her what they see, not what they think.”

Law enforcement officials tend to view the works through the lens of the job: Who has done what to whom? Where is the perp?

“Sometimes they’ll say, ‘We have an E.D.P. here’ — an emotionally disturbed person,” Ms. Herman said. Once she showed some officers El Greco’s “The Purification of the Temple,” which depicts Jesus expelling the traders and money-changers amid turmoil and mayhem.

“One cop said, ‘I’d collar the guy in pink’” — that would be Jesus — ‘“because it’s clear that he’s causing all the trouble.’”

Among the works she finds most interesting as a learning tool is Vermeer’s exquisitely ambiguous “Mistress and Maid,” a 1666-7 portrait of a lady seated at a table, handing over (or being handed) a mysterious piece of paper. “There are so many different narratives,” she said. “The analysts come away asking more questions than answers — ‘Who’s asking the question? Who’s doing the talking? Who’s listening?’ The cops will say, ‘It’s a servant asking for the day off.’”

She also likes “House of Fire,” a 1981 painting by James Rosenquist that has three absurdist parts: an upside-down bag of groceries, a bucket under a window shade, and a group of aggressively thrusting lipsticks. “It’s really conducive to good dialogue,” she said. “How many times do officers have to make order out of chaos? So many times in our work we come across things that don’t have a coherent narrative.”

The officers in the class seemed impressed, both by Ms. Herman and by their grand surroundings.

One officer said that she had learned “how to sit down with colleagues and deal with the fact that you can perceive things so differently from each other.” It was her first trip to the Met, or indeed to any art museum.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “It’s very Thomas Crown-ish, isn’t it?”

Below: the Vermeer painting referred to, in the Frick Museum in New York

Posted on 04/25/16 at 04:52 PM by Peter QuennellClick here & then top left for all my posts;
Right-column links: Justice systemsUS etc systemsThe officially involvedPolice and CSIThe wider contextsN America context
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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Justice Systems Comparisons #5: How Appeals Differ in Italy and Common Law Countries

Posted by Chimera




1 Series And Post Overview

Meredith’s case generated enormous amounts of legal confusion and false statements around the world.

This was particularly so in the United States, and some of the confusions were by American lawyers.  We have Curt Knox and the now-defunct Marriott-Gogerty PR firm in part to thank for that. But also part of the misunderstanding comes from the differences in the Italian criminal procedures v.s. the US procedures which derive from English Common Law.

Of course, Knox/Mellas/Marriott have had a vested interested in ensuring that these differences are not made clear. Although it has antecedents in Roman law and French law, Common Law emerged distinctively in England back in 1215 when King John was made to sign the Magna Carta codifying a number of popular rights and of course reducing the king’s powers.

Note: I write this based on my experience in Appellate Court in Ontario (I’m Canadian).  However, the process is similar throughout Canadian Provinces (with minor variations), and I imagine throughout UK and US.  If anyone in other countries has some insight or experience to share, please do so.

Previously in this series: Part #1: An Overview. Part #2: Public Mischief and Perjury. Part #3: Bail, Extradition & Other Crimes. And Part #4: Canada and the U.S.A. (Part 1).

2. The Appeals Process in Common Law Countries

TERMINOLOGY:
  • Appellant—The Party that initiates the Appeal, regardless of who was who at the trial
  • Respondent—The Party that receives the Appeal, again, regardless of who was who at the trial
  • Cross Appeal—The Respondent has the right to launch their own, think of it as a counter appeal
  • Leave to Appeal—Permission to appeal, in some cases it must be granted
  • Proof of Service—Means filing an Affidavit of Service (Form 16-B), with the Appellate Court
  • Back Cover—is a back page put in all submissions (Form 4C)

The decision is handed down by the Court.  For minor criminal matters it is a Bench Trial (trial by Judge alone); for major crimes the Defendant has a choice of a Judge alone or Jury Trial.  In criminal cases, even though the Jury may vote to convict, the Judge will impose the sentence—for every crime except 2nd degree murder, the jury votes on that.  Afterwards ....

Option 1: If leave is needed, it must be granted in order to file.  This is usually for (a) 2nd level appeals; (b) To get Court Orders put in hold; (c) To Appeal prior to a final decision [Rule 62.01]

Option 2: If leave is ‘‘NOT’’ required, then just file notice.

Within the time limit—usually 30 days from the Lower Court ruling—serve a Notice of Appeal (Form 61-A), and file with the Appeal Court.  [Rule 61.04]

If the Appellant intends to submit evidence, then the Appellant’s Certificate Respecting Evidence (Form 61-C) must be served on the other side then filed with the Court.  This is actually optional.  [Rule 61.05]

[15 days after Notice of Appeal] If the Respondent intends to cross appeal, as in launch their own challenge, then Notice of Cross Appeal (Form 61-E) must be served then filed with the Court.  [Rule 61.07]

[15 days after Notice of Appeal] If the Respondent has their own evidence to submit, then the Respondent’s Certificate Respecting Evidence (Form 61-D) must be served then filed with the Court.

[30 days after Notice of Appeal] If a transcript is required, a Certificate of Ordering (proof a transcript has been ordered) must be filed with the Appellate Court [Rule 61.05(5)]

Option 1: If no transcript is required—Appellant must file appeal books within 30 days of Notice of Appeal

Option 2: If a transcript ‘‘is’’ required—Appellant must file appeal books within 60 days of Transcript being completed

In either case, the Appellant must include a Certificate of Perfection

[60 days after Certificate of Perfection Filed] Respondent must submit all books (and cross appeal if one was filed) to the Appellant and the Court

BOOKS TO BE SUBMITTED

[Rule 61.09] and [Rule 61.12] (by Both Sides):

(Mandatory) Appeal Book and Compendium—a collection of various documents and decisions related to the case   [Rule 61.10(1)]

(Mandatory) Factum—this is your ‘‘legal arguments’‘, and usually restricted in length, unless permission given   [Rule 61.11(1)]

(Optional) Exhibit Book—If there was some evidence that the Appellate Court should consider, it gets included here   [Rule 61.10.1]

(Optional) Transcript—If there was reversible error at trial, or in another hearing, it gets sent.  It can be stand alone, or included in the exhibit book

(Optional) Book of Authorities—If there is an error of law, a collection of decisions, a case book, is sent

Note: Factum and Compendium are required by both Appellant and Respondent.  The others may be included, depending on the type of appeal being argued

Note: There is flexibility with the formatting of the Authorities book, and the timing.  It may be sent much later, and cases just downloaded from the internet.

Note: The Appellate Courts are even strict about the colours of the book covers.  They are

  • (Buff)—Appellant’s Appeal Book and Compendium, Appellant’s Exhibit Book
  • (White)—Appellant’s Factum, Appellant’s Book of Authorities
  • (Buff)—Respondent’s Compendium, Respondent’s Exhibit Book
  • (Green)—Respondent’s Factum, Book of Authorities
  • (Red)—Transcript of Evidence
  • (Blue)—Motions filed in the matter
BEFORE THE APPEAL IS HEARD:

While everyone is entitled to ‘‘file’’ an appeal, there is no guarantee the appeal will actually be ‘‘heard’‘.  If the appeal is truly without merit, it will be thrown out before it is fully heard.

One such option (at least in Ontario), is to invoke Rule 2.1.01(6) and ask that the Appeal be dismissed, or grounds it is frivolous, vexing, or an abuse of process.

https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/900194

AT THE ACTUAL APPEAL:

Depending on the Court, it may be a single Judge, a Panel of 3, a Panel of 5, or a Panel of 9 Judges.  These are actual Judges, with years of experience.  In the Provincial High Courts (Ontario Court of Appeals, BC Court of Appeals, Alberta Court of Appeals ....) it is usually 3 Judges who will hear the case.  The Supreme Courts (at least of Canada and the U.S.) are composed of 9 Judges.

The Appeal (and any Cross-Appeal) is restricted to the points raised in the Notice of Appeal/Cross Appeal.  Nothing else may be argued.

The Appellant goes first, explaining what was wrong with the trial, with references to various books.  The Judge (or panel of Judges) may interrupt at any time.

The Respondent goes second, countering the Appellant.  Again, the Judges may interrupt at any time.

The Appellant gets a rebuttal, not a rehash, but to refute anything the Respondent said, or to being in new points.

The Judge (or Panel) may immediately rule, but more likely will reserve its decision, and rule later.

The parties themselves do not address the Court (except for those self-representing), and no witnesses are called.

If (in criminal appeals), the Defendant does not show up, an arrest warrant would be issued, and the appeal likely dismissed out of hand.

With rare exceptions, an appeal hearing takes only a few hours.  Not weeks or months.

POSSIBLE OUTCOMES:

(1) The Appellate Court ‘‘corrects’’ the Lower Court ruling

(2) The Appellate Court ‘‘sends back down’’ the case to the Lower Court, with specific instructions

(3) The Appellate Court dismisses the Appeal

The Appellate Court has wide discretion in how long they make their ruling.  It could be a single sentence confirming the Trial Court, or up to dozens of pages explaining a decision for either side.

USEFUL LINKS:

https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/900194
http://ontariocourtforms.on.ca/en/rules-of-civil-procedure-forms/
https://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/courts/divisional/Guide_to_Appeals_in_Divisional_Court_EN.html
http://www.ontariocourts.ca/coa/en/info/howto.htm

3. Contrast This with Criminal Appellate Trials in Italy

The Jury (composed of 2 Judges and 6 Lay Judges) hands down a verdict, and a sentence to go with it.  By Contrast, in Common Law, a Defendant may be convicted but not sentenced for several months.

[90 days after sentence] The Trial Court hands down a ‘‘Motivation Report’’ explaining in great detail the decision.  In serious cases, this may be hundreds of pages.

[45 days after Motivation Report] The ‘‘Losing Side’’ files an appeal with an Appellate Court

Even if the appeal grounds are extremely weak, the Appeal can still go ahead.

The Appellate Trial is then scheduled.  Like the Trial Courts, it is a panel of 2 Judges and 6 lay Judges.  Although it functions as a trial, it is not meant to be a ‘‘re-start’‘, but rather a ‘‘continuation’’ of the earlier proceedings.

The Judges decide how much (if any) of the evidence submitted by the Prosecution and Defence will be heard.  If the Prosecution has thoroughly proven its case at trial, there may be no need to submit any new evidence.  In the case of AK/RS, Prosecutors Mignini/Comodi had overwhelmingly convinced Judge Massei (2009) of guilt.

http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/C443/

The Defendants may address the Court (Spontaneous Declarations), or they may agree to actual questioning (Cross Examination).  In this case, AK/RS gave several speeches at the Hellmann Appeal (2011), but neither agreed to actually be questioned.  At the Nencini Appeal (2013/2014) RS gave speeches but again refused to be questioned.  AK didn’t show up at all.

To be fair, the reason AK/RS may have refused questioning at the Hellmann or Nencini appeals may have been due to the trainwreck with Judge Massei

http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/italy_shrugs_why_the_defendants_testimony_seems_to_have_been_a_real_fl
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/this_testimony_does_not_seem_to_have_gained_much_traction_here_in_ital

Neither AK nor RS were obligated to attend the Florence Appeal in 2013/2014, but they should have.  It is rude and contemptuous to skip out of the Court deciding your future.  AK hit the media circuit claiming to be afraid, while also arguing that she couldn’t afford to go back (despite a $3.8 million book deal).  RS showed up sometimes, but it interfered with his suntanning abroad.

http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/questions_for_knox_how_do_you_explain
http://truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/multiple_ways_in_which_amanda_knoxs_email/
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/The_Nencini_Email_Why_This_May_Be

Although new evidence may be submitted, there are still restrictions about bringing in expert testimony, as it should properly be done at the trial level.  Cassation (2013), was highly critical the Judge Hellmann let Conti and Vecchiotti appear.  This is to say nothing of their actual reports.

http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/the_hellmann_zanetti_appeal_courts_dna_consultancy_looks_even_worse

Both the Prosecution and Defence are then able to make a Summation of facts for the Appellate Court to consider.

What needs to be said is that the goal is not to ‘‘prove all over again’‘, but to determine if there were sufficient errors, and/or sufficient new evidence to overturn the trial verdict.

A verdict is handed down, either confirming or overturning the Trial Court ruling.  The Appellate Court of Hellmann/Zanetti (2011) overturned the Massei Trial Conviction (2009), while the Appellate Court of Nencini (2014) confirmed Massei’s original ruling, but with a small sentence increase.

The actual Appellate Trial may take place over several months.  With Judge Hellmann (2011) it was 20 sessions that took nearly a year, and with Judge Nencini (2014) it was 10 sessions, which took 4 months.

(90 days after verdict) The Appellate Court must submit their own Motivation Report, which will be scrutinized

4. Other TJMK Posts Of Relevance

http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/first_italian_criticisms_of_the_hellmann_verdict_statement_now_startin
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/dissecting_the_hellmann_report_1
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/dissecting_the_hellmann_report_2_how_judges_zanetti_and_hellman_tilted_
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/reasonable_doubt_in_italian_law
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/weighing_the_ten_points
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/Perugias_excellent_umbria24_posts_details
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/appeal_session_1_more_results_
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/appeal_session_3_sollecito_in_court_with_family_lawyer
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/appeal_session_9_sollecito_team_concludes_prosecutor_crini_rebutts_def
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/what_we_might_read_into_sollecito_lawyer_giulia_bongiornos_final_arguments
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/defense_dirty_tricks_did_we_just_see
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/highlights_of_the_nencini_report_1_the_attention_directed1

5. Some Final Thoughts

The ‘‘Appellate Trial’’ as known in Italy, does not have an equivalent in the Common Law Countries.  To be fair though, the Italian Supreme Court hearings (Corti di Cassazione) do resemble Common Law appeals in that they are fairly short hearings restricted to arguing various points of law.

The goal of the ‘‘Appellate Trial’’ is to give the Defendants a huge amount of rights (including re-opening the case) not afforded in Common Law Countries.  Even after going through a full trial, it is an opportunity to re-examine much of the case.

The ‘‘jury’’ of Appellate Trials not the ‘‘Panel of Judges’’ that many would think out here.

http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/rogue_juror_genny_ballerini_a_sure_sign_oggi_sees_its_conviction

The option to testify (and especially to give Spontaneous Declarations) in an Appeal is unheard of in Common Law Appeals.

However, both in Italy and in the Common Law, it is illegal to make false accusations or to sabotage the Court process.  AK doesn’t seem to have learned.

Weak appeals in the Common Law would be thrown out at the preliminary stages, in Italy the burden seems to be much lower.

The Trial and Appellate Trial Courts in Italy seem to go much more into detail about why they make their rulings.

While it is normal to have a Common Law Appeal in just 1 day, the decision may be reserved for months.  Contrast this with an Italian Appellate Trial, which takes place over months, but the verdict is handed down at the end.

This article is not meant to knock Italy in any way.  There are valid reasons for how things are done.  But without living in both regions, or having lots of exposure to both, few would know about these differences.

*****

Author’s Note: Pardon my lopsided detail when it comes to describing the process in Canada, as opposed to Italy.  If someone would like to come up with a more detailed version for Italian Appeals, it would go nicely.

Posted on 04/17/16 at 05:38 PM by ChimeraClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Case Of Russell Williams: What a ‘‘Set-Up’’ Police Interview Really Looks Like

Posted by Chimera

Russell Williams’s “Compressed” Interview 2 Hours 40 Minutes Long

1. Post Overview

This contrast’s Knox’s claimed trick “interrogation” and “confession” with one known to be real.

Russell Williams, unbelievably, was a Colonel in the Canadian Air Force, and the Commanding Officer at Trenton Air Force Base.

(From Wikipedia) From July 2009 to his arrest in February 2010, he commanded CFB Trenton, a hub for air transport operations in Canada and abroad and the country’s largest and busiest military airbase. Williams was also a decorated military pilot who had flown Canadian Forces VIP aircraft for dignitaries such as Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, and the Governor General and Prime Minister of Canada.


2. Williams First Association With Crimes

It is early February 2010. Ontario Provincial Police are investigating 4 incidents in a region of Southern Ontario, believing they are connected.  They are, 2 unsolved sexual assaults, the sexual assault and murder a military flight commander, Marie-France Comeau, and the January 28 disappearance of a woman named Jessica Lloyd.

While Lloyd’s disappearance was still ongoing, a witness came forward and reported seeing an SUV-type vehicle nearby.  Police follow up and find tire tracks in that location.  They then go about trying to match those tracks to a particular vehicle.  Roadchecks are set up along various roads.

Williams gets caught in the checkpoint, and the police notice that the tires on his Nissan Pathfinder are identical to those tracks near Jessica Lloyd’s home.  Williams is let go, but under 24 hour surveillance at that point.

3. Narrative Of Williams Interview

It is Sunday, February 7, 2010. Williams is called into police headquarters to answer questions.  He arrives at 3pm, and stunningly, he is wearing the same boots he wore to Jessica Lloyd’s house.  Either moronic, or bold.

The interview starts off casually, though Williams is asked for evidence to prove he is not involved: DNA, fingerprints, and bootprints. 

Watch the video above, Williams is in shock when the topic of bootprints comes up.  At 6pm Det-Sergeant Smyth drops the bombshell:

(1) tire tracks near Jessica Lloyd’s home are from his vehicle;

(2) those are his bootprints behind her house;

(3) the DNA is about to be matched;

(4) the homes are being searched, and the vehicle seized.

Williams realizes at this point that he has been tricked, that it was a setup all along.

Confession “To Spare His Wife”

Williams did come clean about 5 hours into the interrogation.  The reason: to spare his wife the added trauma and humiliation of the police tearing the homes apart.

He rationalized that if he simply told the police where to find evidence, they would take it and go.  At that point, it was about all he could do.

(from Wikipedia) On October 21, 2010, Williams was sentenced to two life sentences for first-degree murder, two 10-year sentences for other sexual assaults, two 10-year sentences for forcible confinement, and 82 one-year sentences for breaking and entering, all to be served concurrently.

Civil Courts Follow-up

Williams’ wife, Mary Harriman did take control of the couple’s multiple properties in Ontario.  She sought a divorce, which has dragged on for years, and did try to get the proceedings banned from publication.

The problem, according to the victims and the families is that this transfer from him to her amounts to FRAUDULENT CONVEYANCE.

In plain English, the allegations are that Williams transferred everything to his wife in order to avoid having it seized by lawsuits.  Williams claimed he sold it (cheaply) to his wife since he was serving a life sentence and not likely to ever need it again.

Ms. Harriman is now also being forced to testify about the true nature of their marriage for civil matters.  The argument being advanced is that she either knew what was going on, and could not be that oblivious—in light of the shear volume of trophies Williams kept.

Wife of serial killer Russell Williams loses court battle

OPP detective used ‘Reid technique’ to get Russell Williams to confess

World’s Greatest Police Interrogator: Detective Jim Smyth

4. The Narrative Of Knox’s Interview

Knox showed up unexpectedly at the Questura the evening of November 5, 2007.  Sollecito had been called in—alone— to clear up inconsistencies in his stories.

Knox went anyway, and remained even when told to leave.  She was told by Inspector Ficarra that if she really wanted to help, she could put together a list of possible suspects who may have visited the house.  She agreed.

Sollecito, when shown proof in his phone records that contradicted his story, threw Knox under the bus.  He claimed that AK went out alone, he stayed inside and used the computer, and that Knox came back several hours later.  RS claims AK asked him to lie, and that he didn’t think of the inconsistencies at the time.

Knox, on the other hand, thought that RS had actually accused her of murder, not just pulled her alibi.  AK is shocked, and fakes a crying fit. 

She then responds by throwing—someone else completely—under the bus.  Not Sollecito.  Not Guede.

Of course once it turns out that PL is completely innocent, police and prosecutors don’t believe anything she says at this point.

The Knox Interrogation Hoax

#1 Overview Of The Series - The Two Version of the 5-6 Nov 2007 Events

#2 Trial Testimony From Rita Ficcara On Realities 5-6 Nov

#3 More Defense Pussyfooting Toward Rita Ficcara, Key Witness

#4 More Hard Realities From Rita Ficcara, More Nervousness From Defense

#5 Key Witness Monica Napoleoni Confirms Knox Self-Imploded 5-6 Nov

#6 Sollecito Transcript & Actions Further Damage Knox Version

#7 Full Testimony Of Witness Lorena Zugarini To Knox Conniption 5-6 Nov

#8 Testimony Of Interpreter Donnino And Central Police Officer Giobbi

#9 Officer Moscatelli’s Recap/Summary Session With Sollecito 5-6 Nov

5. Contrasts And Similarities

1-A The Williams case above is a clear instance of police luring in a suspect under the pretense of a ‘‘background interview’‘.  The Ontario Provincial Police spent days trying to put together a profile and work up a method of questioning such a suspect.  And it took Det. Sergeant Jim Smyth just 3 hours to get Williams to crack.

1-B Knox, on the other hand, showed up uninvited to the police station, most likely to keep RS on a short leash.  She not only wasn’t invited, but was told to leave.  She cracked when RS revoked her alibi.

2-A Williams says his main motivation in confessing was to spare his wife extra humiliation, and destruction to the houses.

2-B Knox, on the other hand, threw a totally innocent person, Lumumba, to the wolves.  She also has no qualms about protracting the publicity, and milking her ‘‘celebrity’‘.

3-A Williams wore the same boots to the police station

3-B Sollecito brought his knife to the police station, and had similar shoes to Guede

4-A Williams was nailed by his bootprints

4-B Knox was cast under suspicion by a shoeprint, and bare footprints nailed both AK and RS

5-A Williams wife illegally profited by taking the property in order to stave off having it seized

5-B AK and RS illegally profited by having other people (Kuhlman and Gumbel) write blood money books for them.

6. Analysis Of Williams Interview

This excellent analysis is one hour long.

 

 

Posted on 03/17/16 at 11:00 PM by ChimeraClick here & then top left for all my posts;
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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Italy Fights For Justice For A Murdered Student As The UK Government Never Did

Posted by Peter Quennell

Above: a minute’s silence in the Italian parliament for Giulio Regeni an Italian student found slain in Cairo a few days ago.

Hundreds of mourners have gathered in a village in northern Italy for the funeral of Giulio Regeni, a Cambridge PhD student found tortured and dead in a ditch on the outskirts of Cairo last week.

Flags were flying at half-mast in Fiumicello, where villagers offered spare rooms and couches for the 28-year-old’s friends and family, as the diplomatic fallout from his death continued in Rome.

The Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, warned Egypt that the health of the relationship between the two countries rested on the quality of the investigation into Regeni’s killing.

Compare with how the UK government reacted after Meredith died. Basically it looked the other way. Many in Italian justice were amazed at how totally disinterested the UK government was in the case in all the years since Meredith’s death.

The US government sprang into action to help Knox and to make sure she was treated right, though there was no proof the Italians would do anything but. They found her a Rome lawyer with good English (Carlos Dalla Vedova) and monitored all her court sessions and her four years in Capanne.

This came at a probable cost of over half a million dollars. And that is just the public support. Nobody ever said “the Federal budget cannot stand this”.

The extent of the British government in pushing justice for Meredith and her family? Exactly zero over the years.

Nothing was ever paid toward the legal costs or the very high travel costs of the Kercher family to be in court as the family finances ran into the ground. Nobody from the Foreign Office in London or the UK Embassy in Rome observed in court except in Florence, just the once.

Appalling pro-Knox Italy-bashing in the UK media based on highly inaccurate accounts was never tamped down - presumably because the Foreign Office was itself in the dark, and did not have a clue what was going on.

The ugly message this sent to the world?  If you are going to be a student in foreign trouble, be an American or Italian. Not a Brit.

However, years after four-year-old Madeleine McCann disappeared in Portugal, the UK government is spending heavily to right a possible wrong there.  Back in 2007 Meredith’s case and Madeleine’s case began just a few weeks apart.

Maybe to right a possible wrong in Italy, the UK government could do likewise here.



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