Monday, June 30, 2008

Will the last one to leave Detroit please turn out the lights

I used to live there.

I left many many years ago.

Build better cars, build cars with better mileage, stop building SUV's and pick up trucks.

Good luck Detroit, you'll need it.

So will we, the loss of the auto industry or the manufacturing capacity of Detroit and its surrounding area will hurt the country.

Detroit's mood grim as automakers face the brink
By Poornima Gupta

DETROIT (Reuters) - After three decades at work in a GM factory, John Martinez has reached a crossroads.

Martinez, 50, must choose between retiring and making a long and expensive commute across state lines to stay with General Motors Corp. Any future he can imagine is going to be costly and tough.
"My whole family is under stress," he said.

The same can be said of the embattled U.S. auto industry and its recession-hardened hometown, Detroit. GM, once an emblem of U.S. post-war economic might, is being driven to the brink by dwindling sales that are expected to test cash reserves and the nerves of investors in the months ahead.

Crosstown rivals Ford Motor Co and privately held Chrysler LLC face similar pressures. As the automakers weigh their options to ride out the industry's most-trying slump in 25 years, thousands of Detroit families are doing the same.

For many, the choices line up from bad to worse.

With four kids, retirement is not an option for Martinez. But driving more than 100 miles daily between home in the Detroit suburb of Lincoln Park and Toledo, Ohio -- where GM has a job for him -- is going to hurt with gas over $4 a gallon.

Moving from Detroit, one of the markets hit hardest by the ongoing housing slump, could prove impossible.
"I can't probably sell my home for what it's worth," said Martinez. "I will owe more than I sell it for."

When Martinez joined GM in the late 1970s, it controlled 46 percent of the U.S. vehicle market. A union job in the U.S. auto industry was seen as steady work with good wages and rock-solid benefits -- for life.

But last week, GM shares skidded to their lowest level since 1955. The stock had its worst week since trading in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, with Wall Street analysts handicapping when and how it will raise new capital.

GM's sales have dropped 15 percent so far this year, and its share of the U.S. market is down to just 21 percent.

When major automakers report sales for June on Tuesday, there is a chance that GM will be overtaken by Toyota Motor Co as the monthly sales leader, a reversal that points to the popularity of small cars like the Yaris and the abandonment of SUVs and trucks like the Yukon and Silverado.

GM has responded by slashing costs, cutting truck production and slashing its factory work force to less than half of the 118,000 it employed four years ago.

When Martinez joined GM, it was near its peak factory payroll of 468,000 with a new factory in Oklahoma City set to start up. Now it is rolling back, shuttering plants and cutting jobs. On Friday, 17,000 more GM workers took buyouts to leave.

On a combined basis, GM, Ford and Chrysler have cut more than 100,000 factory jobs since sales began to slow in 2006.

For Detroit, the downturn has been brutal. Michigan's jobless rate jumped to a 16-year high of 8.5 percent for May. Detroit led the nation with its home foreclosure rate in 2007.
In nearby Inkster, hometown of Motown's Marvelettes, businesses on either side of the Picture Perfect beauty salon are boarded-up.

Tasha Shaw, the salon owner, is considering giving up too. Sales have dropped 60 percent over the last year as clients in the auto industry been forced to cut back.
"I have never seen it this bad," she said.

Inkster is tied to the fortunes of Ford, headquartered in nearby Dearborn. In the industry's boom days, jobs were plentiful, drawing workers from around the country. Civil rights activist Malcolm X lived in Inkster in the early 1950s and worked briefly in a local Ford plant.
But now, for many left in Inkster, a haircut is no longer an affordable luxury, Shaw said. "They have so many bills. People have lost their cars, homes... It's terrible," she said.

Across town in the suburb of Oak Park, Lauri Kopack's husband, an electrician, has been forced to take a job in West Virginia. He comes home on weekends when he can, but gas is expensive for his Ford F-150 pickup truck.

"There are no jobs here," Kopack said, adding that about 1,400 in her husband's union local are out of work.
"It's tough," she said. "When he comes home, he is like a visitor."

Make Justice blind again

A rare event happened yesterday.

We actually got a little rain at my house.

That must be why I agree with today's editorial in the Express-News.

It behooves us to make Justice blind again.

Biased recruitment policy taints Justice Department
San Antonio Express-News

In a society that has become as politicized as ours, it may be no surprise that discriminatory hiring practices have been uncovered in the Justice Department.

It would be wrong, however, to let cynicism blind us to the damage partisanship can do in an entity that, above all others, should transcend ideology.

The report, prepared by the inspector general of the Justice Department, found that illegal “political” or “ideological” factors were used in an elite program that recruited young lawyers, according to the New York Times.

Department recruiters, the report noted, selected law school graduates with conservative credentials and passed over those with résumés that sounded “liberal.”

While the inspector general is investigating other issues relating to the politicization of the department, the report concluded that the recruitment policies “constituted misconduct and also violated the department’s policies and civil service law that prohibit discrimination in hiring based on political or ideological affiliations.”

Once handled by career officials within the department, political representatives started to take over the recruitment in 2002, a process that accelerated when Alberto Gonzales succeeded John Ashcroft as attorney general, according to the report.

The findings are disturbing, and, if possible, officials responsible should be held accountable.
More than all our others institutions, the judicial system must remain neutral and impartial, untainted by the political motives that drive other departments.

The practice would have been just as reprehensible if a Democratic administration had been carrying it out.

By trying to stack the department with lawyers of similar ideological bents, the political officials insulted the lawyers themselves, for the recruits may have understood a concept that eluded their employers — that justice is blind.

If department officials deprived the country of young, bright legal minds, the country is the poorer for it.

Everyone's looking

Ah yes, the joys of living in a goldfish bowl.

Complaints against two high court justices set to be reviewed
Clay Robison: Express-News

AUSTIN — Ethics complaints against at least two Texas Supreme Court justices — Nathan Hecht and David Medina — aren't going away, at least not yet.

They have been scheduled for review the same day, Aug. 14, by the Texas Ethics Commission.

The 11-month-old complaint against Hecht alleges that a discount he received for personal legal services may have amounted to an illegal political contribution.

The complaint against Medina, filed with the commission in January, alleges he may have violated state law by paying himself nearly $57,000 from his political funds over three years as mileage reimbursement for commuting between Austin and his Houston area home.
(That apparently was the same house that burned down about a year ago, resulting in arson charges against the justice's wife.)

The Ethics Commission won't even publicly acknowledge that the complaints — which could result in fines against the justices — exist. But it notified the complaining party, the judicial watchdog group Texas Watch, of the pending “preliminary review hearings.”

Texas Watch also filed similar travel reimbursement complaints against Hecht for airline flights between Austin and Dallas and against Justice Paul Green for auto mileage between Austin and San Antonio. But the group hasn't been notified of any hearings on those.

Medina's attorney, Terry Yates, said earlier this year that the justice would repay the money to his campaign fund. Hecht and Green have said their trips were for legitimate political purposes.
The complaint against Hecht over legal fees stems from his representation by the Jackson Walker law firm in a dispute with the Commission on Judicial Conduct in 2006. Hecht won the dismissal of a commission order slapping his wrist for promoting President Bush's short-lived nomination of Hecht's friend, Harriet Miers, to the U.S. Supreme Court.

That complaint also has been reviewed by the Travis County district attorney's office, which hasn't had anything to say about it in months.

The good guy won

Apparently its still the wild west out there.

Be careful.

Oh, and yeah, don't bring a knife to a gunfight.

Police say man was shot in bungled carjacking
David Saleh Rauf: Express-News

In what authorities described as a bungled carjacking, a 28-year-old man was shot and critically wounded outside a South Side convenience store late Sunday night.

San Antonio Police Officer Matthew Hollenbeck said the man, whose name was not immediately released, was shot by his would-be victim, in turn becoming the victim himself. He was among a group of people who arrived at the Kwik Trip Food Store at South Flores and East Southcross streets about 11:30 p.m. Half of the group went into the store, and the man, armed with a knife, went into a truck, whose driver was inside the store, Hollenbeck said.

The pickup driver returned to his vehicle, Hollenbeck said, and upon seeing the armed man inside, fired a gun, striking the man in his chest. The man was taken to Wilford Hall Medical Center with injuries Hollenbeck said were deemed life-threatening.

The driver then fired several shots at the car in which the victim had been a passenger, Hollenbeck said, before fleeing the scene. When paramedics and police arrived, both vehicles were gone, the victim left behind.

No other information about the shooting could be learned early this morning.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Police brutality


Just a civil rights violation?

That's all?

Yeah? and what was going through his mind when he body slammed her face first into the tile floor, pray tell me, Counselor?

NY policeman charged after woman body-slammed
The Associated Press

NEW YORK - A police officer who body-slammed an unarmed woman and broke her jaw during a medical call to a suburban restaurant last year was arrested Friday and charged with civil rights violations.

Federal prosecutors said Yonkers officer Wayne Simoes used excessive force when he grabbed the woman by the waist, hoisted her in the air and slammed her, face first, into a tile floor.

The takedown, recorded March 3, 2007, by security cameras, knocked Irma Marquez unconscious and put her in the hospital for four days. At the time, authorities said the officer was trying to keep her from interfering with emergency medical technicians summoned to the restaurant to assist her niece, who had been hit in the head with a bottle.

Simoes, 38, said little Friday during his arraignment. A magistrate released him on bond. His attorney, Andrew Quinn, said Simoes intends to plead not guilty.

"I've also seen the video, and I know what it shows. But what the video doesn't show is the operation of Wayne Simoes' mind at the time of this incident," Quinn said. He said Simoes didn't intend to violate the woman's rights or "cause any type of injury."

Simoes could get years in prison if convicted. The Yonkers Police Department said it had placed him on modified duty pending the outcome of the case.

Despite the nature of Marquez's injuries, which included a broken jaw and bruises over her entire face, law enforcement authorities initially sided with the officer.

Marquez was arrested and charged with obstruction of governmental administration, and an internal inquiry cleared Simoes of any wrongdoing. After the Justice Department informed the city that it was investigating, Yonkers Mayor Phil Amicone held a news conference to praise the department, saying its officers "do their jobs the right way in full accordance with the law."

A Westchester County jury, however, acquitted Marquez of the obstruction charge. Weeks later she sued the police department for $11.3 million.

Marquez's lawyer, Gary Certain, praised the FBI and the U.S. attorney for bringing the civil rights charge, calling it "a major step forward in addressing an alarming pattern of misconduct within the Yonkers Police Department."

He acknowledged that Marquez had been emotionally distraught during the incident out of concern for her injured niece, but said she hadn't interfered with the EMTs and did nothing to provoke a violent attack.

Mini THIS!!


As my daughters would say.


As I would say.

Judge orders TMZ to remove sex tape of actor Verne Troyer
By Harriet Ryan, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer June 28, 2008

A federal judge ordered the gossip site Friday to remove clips of a private sex tape actor Verne Troyer says was stolen from his residence.Troyer, best known for his portrayal of Mini Me in the "Austin Powers" films, filed suit Thursday seeking more than $20 million in damages for posting portions of a tape the actor made with a former girlfriend.

U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez issued a temporary restraining order against TMZ and two other parties allegedly attempting to sell the video after ruling that Troyer "demonstrated a strong likelihood of success" in his suit.

According to court papers, the video of Troyer and former girlfriend Renae Schrider was stolen from the actor's residence in the last few months and "was never intended . . . to be shown to the public."

The judge's order prohibits TMZ, promoter Kevin Blatt and SugarDVD, an online distributor of adult films, from selling or distributing the video.

On Wednesday, TMZ broadcast clips from the video on its television show and posted clips on its website, according the suit. TMZ reported that Blatt, who brokered the sale of Paris Hilton's sex tape, "is entertaining a $100K offer from Sugar- DVD to distribute the video." Representatives for TMZ did not return calls seeking comment. In a message on its website, SugarDVD touted the "existence of one of the most shocking and controversial celebrity sex tapes to date," but said it would release the video only "if Verne gives his consent."

Shut Up!, Hang up! and keep driving

Maybe this will make them stop.

I hope so, for all our sakes.

Tickets soar in N.J. for cell-phone talkers
By Peter Mucha: Inquirer Staff Writer

Dora Maule won't forget her $130 ticket.
And her husband, Jimmie, won't forget his.
"I was on speaker!" she said.
He was over the Delaware River on a bridge.

Yet, like many other motorists, they found out first-hand that New Jersey has gotten serious about reducing the dangerous yet defiant use of handheld phones by drivers.

Tickets have soared eightfold since March 1, when the violation became a primary offense - meaning police no longer needed to see a different violation to pull a driver over.

Text-messaging and using other electronic devices such as BlackBerrys while driving were also banned.

On Tuesday, California will join New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and the District of Columbia in having the nation's strictest cell-phone statutes.

Pennsylvania could follow later this year.

In April, when Dora Maule, 32, of Woodbury, got stopped in Pitman, the officer ignored her claim about having her phone on speaker.
"He didn't care. He was so proud of himself," the special education teacher said. "... He had this grin, like, 'Ha ha, I got you!' "

It's not that she's cavalier about making calls, she said. She actually pulled over to phone the doctor's office - then got put on hold. So she started driving.

Her husband didn't pick up his cell until he was on the Commodore Barry Bridge, heading into Pennsylvania. He got stopped by Delaware River Port Authority police, who, it turns out, spokeswoman Danelle Hunter said, can enforce either state's laws anywhere on their bridges.
"He's mad about the ticket," Dora Maule said. "He was not happy."

At least, no points get added to a driver's record.

Today, the Maules have hands-free sets.
Thousands of Garden State travelers now have similar stories to tell.

In March, April and May, 34,762 cell-related tickets were written - nearly eight times the 4,451 for the same months last year, according to the state Administrative Office of the Courts.
That's about $4 million extra revenue. It's not exactly a windfall, though, since during the 12 months ending last June, the state handed out 5.6 million tickets for moving and parking violations.

Whether certain towns or the state police are cracking down hardest can't easily be determined, because of how the state's records are kept, AOC spokeswoman Tammy Kendig said.
A check for Cherry Hill found 51 tickets issued to drivers for using phones during March, April and May, she said.

Mantua said it issued 10 phone tickets in May, much bigger Deptford only 4.

"I'm pleased that law enforcement is getting out and enforcing this law that will make our roads and highways safer," said Paul Moriarty (D., Gloucester), who sponsored the measure to toughen the law in the state Assembly.

"People have to change their habits," he said. "They have to get those hands-free devices and keep their hands on the wheel."
New Jersey's law does permit handheld-phoning in emergencies or to report a crime, fire or other public danger to authorities.

Pennsylvania could follow New Jersey's path, if Rep. Josh Shapiro (D., Montgomery) can find enough backing from fellow lawmakers.

Before the legislative session ends in November, a bill is expected out of the Transportation Committee to ban teenage drivers from using any phones, even hands-free.
If it does, Shapiro said he'd propose an amendment that would cover only handheld phones, but apply to all drivers.

"It's the right thing to do and it's long overdue," he said.

In 2006, more than 1,200 accidents in Pennsylvania involved someone on a handheld cell-phone, he said.

Currently, Pennsylvania is one of six states, including Massachusetts and Illinois, that leave such bans up to municipalities, according to the Governors Highway Safety Assocation.

Only a handful of Pennsylvania towns, including Conshohocken and West Conshohocken, have adopted such ordinances. But Conshohocken probably issued only one cell-phone ticket in the last year, because its violation is a secondary offense, Chief James Dougherty said.

A West Conshohocken official guessed the number there might be about 5 in two years.

Chicago's ban, on the other hand, has resulted in 25,000 tickets over the last three years, according to a Chicago Sun-Times story.

Starting July 1, Washington state will make using a handheld phone while driving a secondary offense. More than a dozen others have bans that apply just to teens.

But are drivers paying attention to these laws?

"I'm seeing more people using hands-free devices, for sure," said Pam Fischer, director of New Jersey's Division of Highway Traffic Safety. "But we're still seeing people who are not obeying the law."

At a Mount Ephraim WaWa, five guys chatting over morning coffee in the parking confessed: Sure, they use handheld phones while driving - while keeping an eye out for police.

"We're sneaks. They haven't caught us yet," said Mike Tovinsky, 49, a Mount Ephraim union insulator and bartender.

"Now the texting is out of hand," he added. "That's ridiculous."

Yet, fellow insulator Jack Driver, 54, of Lindenwold, liked the ban, because too many drivers talk on their phones.

"I honestly do," he said. "It's too distracting. I don't think people realize how distracting it is."
Indeed, drivers having phone conversations are four times as likely to have an accident - even with hands-free devices, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

"You're still distracted," said Fischer, head of New Jersey's safety-promotion agency. "... You stop scanning the road, and you stop scanning the mirrors. You have tunnel vision."

Her advice: Those who choose to call while driving should "do it hands-free" and "make it as quick as possible.""Hang up and get back to driving, which is the only thing that you should be doing when you're behind the wheel."

The exorcism of reason

Wow, I am actually shaking my head in bewilderment. How can the Supreme Court of Texas hold that this may have a chilling effect on the religious beliefs or practices of the particular church.

Would this mean that they would also hold Sharia law would allow men to abuse the female members of a household? Where would this logically stop?

Thank God at least the Court has Wallace Jefferson on the bench writing in dissent.

"Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, in a dissenting opinion, stated that the "sweeping immunity" is inconsistent with U.S. Supreme Court precedent and extends far beyond the Constitution's protections for religious conduct.
"The First Amendment guards religious liberty; it does not sanction intentional abuse in religion's name."

Once again, I am afraid, Texas jurisprudence will make us the laughing stock of the legal community and the butt of comedians' jokes.

Texas high court rules exorcism protected by law
The Associated Press
FORT WORTH, Texas — The Texas Supreme Court on Friday threw out a jury award over injuries a 17-year-old girl suffered in an exorcism conducted by members of her old church, ruling that the case unconstitutionally entangled the court in religious matters.

In a 6-3 decision, the justices found that a lower court erred when it said the Pleasant Glade Assembly of God's First Amendment rights regarding freedom of religion did not prevent the church from being held liable for mental distress triggered by a "hyper-spiritualistic environment."

Laura Schubert testified in 2002 that she was cut and bruised and later experienced hallucinations after the church members' actions in 1996, when she was 17. Schubert said she was pinned to the floor for hours and received carpet burns during the exorcism, the Austin American-Statesman reported. She also said the incident led her to mutilate herself and attempt suicide. She eventually sought psychiatric help.

But the church's attorneys had told jurors that her psychological problems were caused by traumatic events she witnessed with her missionary parents in Africa. The church contended she "freaked out" about following her father's life as a missionary and was acting out to gain attention.

The 2002 trial of the case never touched on the religious aspects, and a Tarrant County jury found the Colleyville church and its members liable for abusing and falsely imprisoning the girl. The jury awarded her $300,000, though the 2nd Court of Appeals in Fort Worth later reduced the verdict to $188,000.

Justice David Medina wrote that finding the church liable "would have an unconstitutional 'chilling effect' by compelling the church to abandon core principles of its religious beliefs."

But Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, in a dissenting opinion, stated that the "sweeping immunity" is inconsistent with U.S. Supreme Court precedent and extends far beyond the Constitution's protections for religious conduct.

"The First Amendment guards religious liberty; it does not sanction intentional abuse in religion's name," Jefferson wrote.

After the 2002 verdict, Pleasant Glade merged with another congregation in Colleyville, a Fort Worth suburb.

A message left for the church's attorney Friday evening was not immediately returned, and calls to two numbers listed in Schubert's name went unanswered.

Friday, June 27, 2008

OJ Redux

I guess it must really suck to be someone who got away with murder.

You know, every cop and prosecutor is after you, you're a target for anyone with aspiration for higher office. they want your head over the mantle; your hide nailed to the wall; after all all you were trying to do is get back some prized possessions at gunpoint.

Wah Wah Wah.

Hope you're found guilty.


Man o' Law

O.J.: Anybody else wouldn't be going to court

LAS VEGAS (AP) - O.J. Simpson says an ambitious Nevada prosecutor is pressing a kidnapping and armed robbery case against him that he says even the alleged victims don't want to pursue.

"If I was anybody else, I wouldn't be going to court," Simpson told a reporter for Fargo, N.D., radio station KFGO who interviewed him late Tuesday at a Fargo cigar bar. Simpson was vacationing in eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota.

"How many trials have you ever heard of where both of the victims say they don't want this guy to go to jail, they don't want to go to court, and you still go to court?" Simpson asked. "It's only me.

"But unfortunately for me," Simpson said, "I got like a bull's eye on my front, dollar sign on my back, you get involved with people who want to be governor and stuff."

Clark County District Attorney David Roger declined comment.

Simpson's lawyer, Yale Galanter, said Thursday that Simpson was venting his frustration about facing trial Sept. 8 in Las Vegas on charges carrying the possibility of prison time.

"I think O.J.'s comments show how totally frustrated he is over this incident that involves family heirlooms that were stolen from him by some very nefarious characters," Galanter said.

Galanter also downplayed Simpson's comments about the prosecutor, saying that he had the "utmost respect" for Roger and another prosecutor in the case, Chris Owens.

"I have no reason to believe their motives in this case have been anything less than ethical and honorable," Galanter said.

Simpson and two co-defendants, Ehrlich and Clarence "C.J." Stewart, have pleaded not guilty to kidnapping, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon charges stemming from allegations they robbed two sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas casino hotel room last


Simpson has denied any guns were involved.

A kidnapping conviction carries the possibility of life in prison with the possibility of parole. An armed robbery conviction would mean mandatory prison time.

Subway sex

Ride the subway get sex.

That ought to increase ridership exponentially.

Metro workers snagged in sex sting
by Taryn Luntz, The Examiner

WASHINGTON (Map, News) - A Metro station manager and a Metro custodian were arrested on prostitution charges after an undercover transit police investigation found they arranged sexual trysts for money from inside the Dupont Circle Metro station.

At one point the employees used the Metro loudspeaker system to facilitate an illicit sexual arrangement, according to police who arrested the pair last week.

Sharon Waters, a Red Line station manager, told an undercover police officer at the Dupont Circle station June 4 that she could arrange meetings with local prostitutes for him, according to court documents.

The officer returned to the station at 11:45 p.m. June 11 and met with Waters, who told him she was organizing a “sex” party in the Washington area for a $100 cover charge, court records show.

Waters said she also could arrange for another, unidentified Metro station manager to meet the officer for sex, but that she couldn't find her at that time, according to the affidavit.

Waters then used the Metro loudspeaker system to page Pam Goins, a Metro custodian who Waters said would be interested, and the officer and Waters went to the Farragut North Metro station to meet her, according to the documents.

Goins told the officer she would have sex with him for $200, and the two agreed to meet in the officer's hotel room later in the week, after Goins grabbed his crotch and made several references to sexual acts she wanted to perform with him, records show.

Two days later, the officer requested Waters send a prostitute to him at his hotel room at the Washington Hilton, and she dispatched “Maria” and “Keisha,” who said they would engage in a “threesome” with him for $1,000.

When they didn't arrive after two hours, Goins said she would take a break from work and come to his hotel room for sex, according to the documents.

The officer first approached Waters after transit police obtained a flier advertising what appeared to be sex trips to Brazil organized by the “Blossom Express Travel Agency,” with Waters' name listed as the contact.

A copy of the flier obtained by The Examiner shows pictures of two women and advertises a six-night, $1,665 trip to Rio De Janeiro above sexually suggestive text.
Several other fliers advertised similar trips and displayed Waters' e-mail address or cell phone number.

According to the court documents, Waters told the officer at the Dupont Circle station that there would be sex for sale on the trip and showed him a book with pictures of the women who would be available.

Waters has been a Metro employee since 1990 and is currently on administrative leave, Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel said. She earned a base salary of $56,647 in fiscal 2006.

When arrested, police found Goins with $141 worth of stolen merchandise from Victoria’s Secret, including clothes and cosmetics.

Goins, who court records show has a 1993 felony conviction after pleading guilty to a violation of the National Firearms Act, was hired in 2002 and no longer worked for the agency as of Monday, Taubenkibel said. Goins made $33,801 in fiscal 2006.

Waters declined to comment on the charges, and Goins could not be reached for comment.
Transit police said they are investigating the incidents to determine whether there were other employees involved.

Didn't dodge the bullet


Not as fortunate.

Bandera deputy quits over DWI charge

The arrest earlier this month of a Bandera County deputy on a drunken driving charge while he was off-duty in Llano County led him to resign rather than being terminated, Bandera County Sheriff Weldon Tucker said Thursday.

He said David Vaught, who had worked for Bandera County about a year, refused a Breathalyzer test after being stopped for allegedly failing to use a turn signal and rolling through a stop sign after leaving a bar.

Tucker said the deputy who stopped Vaught had been called to the bar on a report of an intoxicated person there, and that Vaught was the subject of that call.

Not High Noon

Now that SCOTUS has made its decision, which I believe is fundamentally a sound one, the question is will the State of Texas amend the concealed handgun bill to allow people to openly carry their weapons?

A recent non-scientific online survey by the San Antonio Express-News is running about 85% in favor of allowing handgun license holders to openly carry.

Justices say governments can't ban but can restrict handguns
Express-News and wire reports

WASHINGTON — A sharply divided Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Constitution protects an individual's right to bear arms, while leaving room for governments to regulate gun ownership.

By 5-4, the court struck down the District of Columbia's strict gun ban as an infringement on fundamental rights. The court's historic ruling interprets the Second Amendment for the first time in nearly 70 years, foreshadowing new challenges to local, state and federal gun laws.

Writing for the court majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said the Constitution doesn't allow an “absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home.”
However, Scalia made clear that the gun right “is not unlimited” and still can be restricted by cities and states.

Scalia didn't spell out the standards for acceptable gun control laws, but he gave some examples of what might be allowed.

For instance, Scalia said Thursday's ruling did not toss out laws barring felons and the mentally ill from owning firearms or measures barring people from carrying the weapons into schools and government buildings.

“Laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms” — such as waiting periods or age restrictions — also may be OK, Scalia wrote.

He suggested that measures prohibiting people from carrying “dangerous and unusual weapons” might also pass constitutional muster.

Scalia was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito.

John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and David Souter dissented.
The last time the high court ruled substantively on the issue of gun rights was in 1939, in a case that involved a requirement that short-barreled rifles and shotguns be registered with federal authorities.

Thursday's ruling, which was hailed by gun rights advocates, could make gun control laws in Chicago, New York and elsewhere more vulnerable to legal challenges.
Chicago has a statute similar to the District of Columbia that requires all firearms be registered with the local police, but doesn't allow for the registration of handguns — effectively banning them.

In his dissenting opinion, Stevens predicted the perimeters of the gun right will be defined in courts.

“The court's announcement ... leaves for future cases the formidable task of defining the scope of permissible regulations,” Stevens wrote.

The ruling was the first time the Supreme Court had explicitly ruled on the question of whether the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear” arms applies to individuals or only to states and militias.

The amendment, ratified in 1791, reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”
The often-strident national debate over gun control has diverged on the question of whether that language means that individuals have the right to own guns or whether that right was limited to members of state militias. Scalia's opinion answered that question squarely in favor of individual ownership.

The dissenting justices, led by Stevens, said the nation's founding fathers never meant the right to preserve individual gun ownership.

“There is no indication that the framers of the amendment intended to enshrine the common law right of self defense in the Constitution,” Stevens wrote for the four-justice minority.

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain said he applauded the decision.
The ruling, he said, “recognizes that gun ownership is a fundamental right — sacred, just as the right to free speech and assembly.”

Presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama had a more cautious view, saying he supported the decision that the Constitution “protects the right of individuals to bear arms.”
But Obama said he also identifies “with the need for crime-ravaged communities to save their children from the violence that plagues our streets through common-sense, effective safety measures.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry issued a statement applauding the ruling.

“Texans have long held that it is a fundamental right of every law-abiding citizen to keep and bear arms,” Perry said. “Affirmation from our country's highest court should unquestionably cement this right for future generations of Texans and Americans.”

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that the right to bear arms was an individual right, not a collective right under the term “militia.”

Dodged a bullet

I had predicted this would happen.

Not because it was Judge Angelini but because of what little evidence I had heard they had.

Judge Angelini's DWI case tossed
By Elizabeth Allen: Express-News

A four-month-old drunken-driving charge against State District Judge Raymond Angelini was dismissed Thursday afternoon because of what a prosecutor deemed insufficient evidence.

Special prosecutor Tony Hackebeil asked County Court-at-Law Judge Michael Mery to dismiss the misdemeanor charge stemming from a Feb. 28 traffic stop against the longtime jurist.
“I’m not going to elaborate on it at this point,” Hackebeil said Thursday afternoon. “Suffice it to say that I filed a motion to dismiss based on insufficient evidence.”

Reacting to the dismissal, the 57-year-old judge said, “I’ve said all along that I was not guilty.”
Still, he said he’s aware residents will perceive the dismissal as a reflection of his authority and position.

“I know there’s a lot of people that believe things like that, and there’s nothing I can do about it,” Angelini said. “I had nothing to do with what (Hackebeil’s) decision was. I didn’t talk to him.”
“If I had anything to do with it,” he continued, “I wouldn’t have even been arrested.”

In fact, authorities took greater pains in this case, said Jay Norton, an attorney who handles DWI cases and has acted as a special prosecutor.

“Because of the public perception (of special treatment) and because of who he is — and in fairness to him — a complete investigation was done,” he said.

Hackebeil said he decided to request a dismissal after reviewing evidence provided by authorities and details offered by defense lawyers.

Andrew Del Cueto, who represents Angelini, said his report to the prosecutor includes information that questions the credibility of one of the arresting officers.

According to a police report, Angelini was taken into custody about 10 p.m. that February night after a police officer noticed his Mercedes-Benz swerving along the 13000 block of Jones Maltsberger Road, near McAllister Park.

The judge, the report said, almost caused a wreck when he changed lanes without signaling.
Angelini had red eyes, slurred speech and was having trouble standing, the report said, adding that the judge initially denied drinking that night before saying he’d had “maybe three drinks.” Angelini performed field sobriety tests but refused a breath test.

But the image painted in the report of a jurist suspected of intoxication was sharply contrasted with a video recording taken about an hour later at the Police Department, said Del Cueto, which reportedly depicted a lucid man.

“So there’s no way he can be stumbling, staggering, falling over drunk in the field and then look perfectly sober in the video room,” he said. “It can’t be tainted by me or by Hackebeil or the cops. It is what it is.”

The video hasn’t been released.

Norton, who has viewed the video, agreed.

“He clearly is not intoxicated on that video,” Norton said. “If this had gone to trial, it would have been a not-guilty.”

After Angelini’s arrest, District Attorney Susan Reed filed a motion to recuse her office from prosecuting his case, citing years spent as colleagues on the bench as well as other connections that created a conflict of interest for the office. Reed and Angelini also both are Republicans.
Reed requested a prosecutor from the Texas attorney general’s office hear the case rather than appointing an area attorney with prosecution experience, which is routinely done in similar situations.

Mery appointed Hackebeil, noting at the time that the Medina County district attorney was not seeking re-election, thus removing at least some political pressure.

Reed didn’t return phone calls Thursday afternoon.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Reversed and remanded

Okay, mistakes happen.

He gets a do-over, and possibly a higher sentence.

He wins but ultimately may lose.

Man's sex assault conviction overturned

The 4th Court of Appeals on Wednesday overturned the sexual assault conviction of Jose Geraldo Castaneda-Lerma, setting aside a 15-year sentence handed down by a Kimble County jury.

The court cited discrepancies in the allegations contained in the indictment and the charge given to trial jurors by 198th District Court Judge Karl Prohl.

The appellate judges said the deviations made it impossible to tell whether jurors found proof to substantiate the allegation in the indictment that the defendant knew that his victim was ‘incapable either of appraising the nature of the (sexual assault) or of resisting it,' or simply found, as prosecutors said during closing arguments, that establishing that he used force was sufficient to convict.

District Attorney Ron Sutton didn't rule out appealing Wednesday's decision, but said, ‘There will be no problem retrying him and convicting him again because this was a severely retarded girl who was brutally raped.'

Impersonating an officer

This can be a potentially dangerous situation.

Use caution.

Phony police officer pulls over a real one

San Antonio police are searching for a man suspected of impersonating a police officer.

Authorities said a man driving a black Ford Crown Victoria with emergency lights embedded in the grille recently pulled over an off-duty San Antonio police officer.

The driver fled after the officer pulled out his badge to identify himself.

Sandy Gutierrez, an SAPD spokeswoman, said police have not heard of any other incidents involving this man, but authorities are urging the public to contact police with any information about him.

“We have a lot of stealth vehicles with decals and SAPD logos,” Gutierrez said. “This vehicle did not have decals or logos.”

Anyone unsure while being pulled over by an unmarked vehicle is urged to stop at a busy area near other people.

“If you feel uncomfortable and are not certain this is a real police officer, motion to the officer that you are aware he's pulling you over but you're going to go to a well-lit or congested area, and he's going to be OK with that,” Gutierrez said.

Don't Taze me Bro! XXI

Whatever it takes.

Tasers successful in controlling Bexar County Jail inmates
Selena Hernandez: KENS 5 Eyewitness News

Bexar County Jail guards are always at risk of encountering physically aggressive and potentially dangerous scenarios when faced with non-compliant inmates.

"They have to use their tactics to try and restrain them. It could last sometimes up to an hour," Corporal Jaclyn Davidson said.

But now, guards are armed with more than just backup. Twelve Tasers in the hands of SERT sergeants are changing the way bad behavior is battled behind bars.

"You don't have to be physically confrontational. You don't have to put yourself at risk or the safety of the inmate either," Deputy Wendell Busby said.

Tasers have only been in use for a little over a year at the jail, but administrators say they're so pleased with them, they want more.

By all appearances, the device is making a difference in jail.

"A lot of the inmates are walking by, they'll look at the Taser and move away," Busby said.

Guards have used their Tasers three different times, twice in the booking process.

On the Job Training

Good for these guys.

They are not even full Deputies yet and they are serving the community and protecting us.

Congratulations on a job well done. Man o' Law salutes you all.

Sheriff's cadets stop rape, arrest man

A group of Bexar County Sheriff's Office cadets training near Woodlawn Lake on Wednesday stopped a sexual assault in progress at a public restroom, authorities said.

The cadets were on a routine training exercise at a West Side park when they heard a loud scream coming from inside a restroom, Deputy Ino Badillo said.

The scream was from a woman being raped by a man who had abducted her from the nearby Lincoln Courts apartments, Badillo said. The cadets stopped the attack and arrested the man, he said.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Do it for the kids

Very sad.

Thank you for doing this and go forth and do it some more.

345 arrested, kids rescued in prostitution busts

WASHINGTON (AP) - Hundreds of people have been arrested and 21 children rescued in what the FBI is calling a five-day roundup of networks of pimps who force children into prostitution.
The Justice Department says it targeted 16 cities as part of its "Operation Cross Country" that caps off five years of similar stings nationwide.

Many of the children forced into prostitution are either runaways or what authorities call "thrown-aways" - kids whose families have shunned them. Officials say they are preyed upon by organized networks of pimps who lure them in with shelter or drugs, then often beat, starve or otherwise abuse them until the children agree to work the streets.

"We together have no higher calling than to protect our children and to safeguard their innocence," FBI Director Robert Mueller said Wednesday. "Yet the sex trafficking of children remains one of the most violent and unforgivable crimes in this country."

In all, authorities arrested 345 people - including 290 adult prostitutes - during the operation that ended this week. Since 2003, 308 pimps and hookers have been convicted in state and federal courts of forcing youngsters into prostitution, and 433 child victims have been rescued, Mueller said.

The cities targeted in this week's sting are: Atlanta; Boston; Dallas; Detroit; Houston; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Miami; Montgomery County, Md.; Oakland, Calif.; Phoenix; Reno, Nev.; Sacramento, Calif.; Tampa; Toledo, Ohio and Washington.

The problem of child prostitution has taken on a new urgency in recent years with the growth of online networks where pimps advertise the youngsters to clients. The FBI generally investigates child prostitution cases that cross state lines.

The cases aren't easy to convict.

In April 2006, for example, charges against a Nevada man resulted in a hung jury after his 14-year-old victim refused to testify against him. Months later, however, a second jury found Juan Rico Doss of Reno, Nev., guilty of forcing two girls - ages 14 and 16 - to sell sex in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco and Oakland.

A University of Pennsylvania study estimates nearly 300,000 children in the United States are at risk of being sexually exploited for commercial uses - "most of them runaways or thrown-aways," said Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
"These kids are victims. This is 21st century slavery," Allen said. "They lack the ability to walk away."

The Magic Bus


"Brothel bus" makes last stop in Miami Beach

MIAMI (Reuters) - A "brothel bus" that detectives said cruised Miami Beach offering lap dances and drinks has taken its last ride, police said on Wednesday.

Riders were offered oral sex for $100, according to Miami Beach police who impounded the limousine bus and arrested its operator early on Sunday.

The sleek black bus cruised the South Beach neighborhood popular among tourists and club-goers, offering rides and unlimited drinks for $40.

Aboard, undercover detectives said they found a fully stocked bar and several young women who stripped down to reveal G-strings stuffed with cash and offered to perform sex acts.

Suspected operator Christine Morteh, 29, was arrested on charges of offering to commit prostitution, transportation for the purpose of prostitution and operating a business without a license. She was released from jail on $5,000 bond.

Employees and customers also were charged as part of a citywide prostitution crackdown that resulted in 75 arrests.

Smile and wave at the cameras

She feels the need...

The need for speed!


Loop 101
cameras nab ‘habitual speeder’

Mike Sakal, Tribune

A 24-year-old woman who was clocked speeding by Loop 101 photo enforcement cameras 22 times in less than two months was arrested and placed in jail.

Jennifer Bitton, of Las Vegas, described by authorities as a "habitual speeder," was arrested by Department of Public Safety officers at her parents' home in north Scottsdale on Friday and booked into the Scottsdale City Jail on suspicion of two counts of criminal speeding, reckless driving and one count of endangerment, DPS announced Tuesday.

Bitton told officers she "didn't know cameras were there." She was flashed 22 times in a 45-day period beginning in mid-May. The fastest speed she was clocked at in her Ford Mustang was 92 mph, according to the agency.

If convicted of the criminal speeding, Bitton would face mandatory jail time and have to pay several thousand dollars in fines for all the tickets, according to Bart Graves, spokesman for DPS.
Although Bitton holds the record for being flashed by the cameras DPS began overseeing the photo enforcement program in July 2007, she does not come close to another driver.

From March 2, 2006, to July 31, 2006, Francesca Cisneros of Chandler, then 32, threw away more than 70 speeding notifications she received on Loop 101 in Scottsdale in her Honda Civic. At the time of her arrest, she told police she said she didn't think anything would happen to her if she threw away the tickets.

In a plea agreement reached Oct. 23, 2006, Cisneros had to pay $10,022 in fines and spend five days in jail.

"Photo enforcement exists to help slow people down, thereby ensuring the safety of everyone on the road. Sadly, some drivers have no regard for the safety of others as they continue to recklessly speed," said Roger Vanderpool, DPS director, in a written statement.

Supremes rule on child rape

I didn't think the Supremes would uphold the death penalty for children rapists.

You must shoot them if you catch them in the act.

I'm just kidding. Give them due process, then kill them.

What? I'm just sayin'

Court bans death penalty for child rape
By MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court declared Wednesday that executions are too severe a punishment for raping children, despite the "years of long anguish" for victims, in a ruling that restricts the death penalty to murder and crimes against the state.

The court's 5-4 decision struck down a Louisiana law that allows capital punishment for people convicted of raping children under 12. It spares the only people in the U.S. under sentence of death for that crime — two Louisiana men convicted of raping girls 5 and 8.

The ruling also invalidates laws on the books in five other states that allowed executions for child rape that does not result in the death of the victim.

However devastating the crime to children, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in his majority opinion, "the death penalty is not a proportional punishment for the rape of a child." His four liberal colleagues joined him, while the four more conservative justices dissented.

There has not been an execution in the United States for a crime that did not also involve the death of the victim in 44 years, a factor that weighed in Kennedy's decision.

Rape and other crimes "may be as devastating in their harm, as here, but 'in terms of moral depravity and of the injury to the person and to the public,' they cannot be compared to murder in their 'severity and irrevocability,'" Kennedy said, quoting from earlier decisions.

The victim in the case decided Wednesday was an 8-year-old girl raped by her stepfather at their home in Harvey, La., outside New Orleans.

Angry Louisianans who backed the law said the court was out of touch.
"The opinion reads more like an out-of-control legislative debate than a constitutional analysis," said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican. "One thing is clear: The five members of the court who issued the opinion do not share the same 'standards of decency' as the people of Louisiana."

The decision resonated in the presidential campaign, too, where Democrat Barack Obama objected to it. Obama said there should be no blanket prohibition of the death penalty for the rape of children if states want to apply it in those cases.

With the court already on record this term reaffirming the constitutionality of capital punishment in a case dealing with lethal injection, Kennedy dwelt at length on the need to limit the death penalty to the most heinous killings.

The decision allows death sentences to continue to be imposed for crimes such as treason, espionage and terrorism, which Kennedy labeled as crimes against the state.
The Supreme Court banned executions for rape in 1977 in a case in which the victim was an adult woman.

Forty-four states prohibit the death penalty for any kind of rape, and five states besides Louisiana have allowed it for child rapists — Georgia, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.

The court struggled over how to apply standards laid out in decisions barring executions for the mentally retarded and people younger than 18 when they committed murder. In those cases, the court cited trends in the states away from capital punishment.

In this case, proponents of the Louisiana law said the trend was toward the death penalty, a point mentioned by Justice Samuel Alito in his dissent.

"The harm that is caused to the victims and to society at large by the worst child rapists is grave," Alito wrote. "It is the judgment of the Louisiana lawmakers and those in an increasing number of other states that these harms justify the death penalty."

But Kennedy said the absence of any recent executions for rape and the small number of states that allow it demonstrate "there is a national consensus against capital punishment for the crime of child rape."

It ain't your Goodyear blimp

High oil prices even affects catching drug smugglers!

Even more reason to drill more, now.

Blimp joins anti-smuggling patrols off Florida
By Jane Sutton MIAMI (Reuters)

MIAMI (Reuters) - With oil prices rising sky-high, the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard will test a helium-filled blimp to see if it can supplement the fuel-hungry aircraft that search the Florida Straits for smugglers and boats in distress.

The Navy is leasing a Skyship 600, about the size of a Boeing 747, for the six-week test mission between Florida's southern coast and Cuba, Coast Guard Lt. Matthew Moorlag said on Tuesday.

The manned ship is held aloft by nonflammable helium and propelled by two Porsche 930 engines that consume 10 to 12 gallons of regular gasoline per hour.

"It's considered a very green machine," said George Spyrou, president of Airship Management Services Inc, which owns and operates the blimp. "A regular jet uses more fuel to travel from the gate to the taxiway than we would to fly for a whole week."

The airship has a bathroom and can stay aloft up to 52 hours without refueling but the surveillance flights off Florida will be limited to about eight hours to guard against crew fatigue, Spyrou said.

His company in Greenwich, Connecticut, has a contract for a little under $1 million for the test. It will supply two pilots to float the ship at an altitude of 1,500 to 3,000 feet while a crewman operates the radar and other scanning equipment.

Navy and Coast Guard technicians on the ground in Key West, Florida, will monitor the data and direct other vessels where they're needed to chase drug or people smugglers or perform rescues.
"Basically it provides that eye in the sky for us so we can see who's out there," Moorlag said.

The blimp can travel at about 57 mph (91 kph) and can fly in the same weather conditions as other aircraft. Unlike a helicopter, it does not vibrate, so it might provide a smoother platform for some monitoring instruments, Moorlag said.

Ad-covered blimps are a familiar sight over stadiums. Air Management Services' blimps also flew over the Athens and Atlanta Olympic Games, providing a platform for aerial filming and helping security officials keep an eye on the crowds.

The Air Force has long used stationary blimps, all called "Fat Albert," in the lower Florida Keys to relay U.S. government, anti-communist broadcasts to Cuba and assist in coastal surveillance, but those are tethered to the ground.

"This is different because it's mobile," Moorlag said. "We can move it into an area we'd like to concentrate on."

Way to go

I didn't know we had a "U.S. Police" force.

Apparently some think we do.

Whoever did this; good job!

US police bust notorious Latino gang

US officials on Tuesday cracked-down on the violent MS-13 gang, arresting 26 people for a range of crimes committed in three US states and the Central American nation of El Salvador.

"Early this morning, federal, state, and local law enforcement officials here in North Carolina began executing arrest warrants against 26 alleged members of the gang La Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13," US Attorney General Michael Mukasey said.
The defendants face a variety of charges stemming from crimes committed between 2003 and June 2008 including four murders, narcotics distribution, robberies, illegal firearms possession, extortion, assault, intimidating witnesses and obstruction of justice, the Department of Justice said in a statement.
The arrests followed the unsealing of a 55-count indictment from a federal grand jury in Charlotte, he said.
A gang leader directed many of the activities from his prison cell in El Salvador, where he received money wired by gang members, the statement said.
"Criminal gangs such as MS-13 increasingly recognize no borders, which means that international cooperation is more important today than it ever was before," Mukasey said, thanking the government of El Salvador for its role in the bust.

"Thankfully, that collaboration is on full display in our relationship with the government of El Salvador," he said.

MS-13 is an extremely violent gang that originated in El Salvador and operates there and in Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico and throughout the United States, Mukasey said.

"Today's indictment is merely the latest sign of the gang's reach, and it shows the breadth and seriousness of the crimes that MS-13 members are alleged to have committed," he said.

Many of the defendants were in the United States illegally, and two were additionally charged with re-entering the country unlawfully after having been deported, the DOJ statement said.

They always (mostly) find their man

The long, patient arm of the law prevailed.

Chicago drug suspect is nabbed

FBI agents in San Antonio have arrested a man wanted since 2003 on federal drug charges in the Chicago area.

Daniel Mata, 29, was taken into custody around 6:30 p.m. Monday in the 7100 block of Sandy Point Drive, according to FBI spokesman Erik Vasys.
Mata was living at the home with his wife and two children. Two firearms were recovered, Vasys said.

Mata, a convicted felon, was wanted in Montgomery, Ill., in connection with a drug operation in which he was suspected of receiving marijuana through Federal Express deliveries from Harlingen, Vasys said.

He said Mata's file shows he is a reported member of the Latin Kings gang in Illinois. Mata is awaiting extradition

A just decision

We always said that you give a jury the option to give life without the possibility of parole they will take it.

Whether the defendant truly was mentally retarded or not, they will take it. However they will use it justifiably where, as here, they believed the defendant was not the shooter.

Man gets life in retired Edison teacher's fatal shooting

By Elizabeth Allen: Express-News

A jury spared Jonathan Depue's life Tuesday, opting to send him to prison for life without parole for the shooting death of retired Edison High School teacher Aleta Rhodes.

Jurors found Depue, 24, guilty of capital murder last week in the Sept. 29, 2006, burglary that turned to murder when Rhodes walked into her house during a burglary and was shot in the head.

In the punishment phase, defense lawyers argued that Depue has mental retardation and by law can't be executed.

But prosecutor Melisa Skinner had noted that nobody said Depue had mental retardation until he was on trial for capital murder. She showed evidence that he'd spent his jail time researching in the law library and selling drawings to other inmates.
“Not only can he read, he reads law books,” Skinner said.

Jurors weren't convinced Depue had mental retardation. They also thought he was a continuing threat to society. But they weren't convinced Depue was the triggerman in the slaying, a crucial issue that ultimately saved his life.

“The jury found that he did not actually kill Aleta Rhodes, and that when she was killed, that he did not anticipate” her slaying, defense lawyer Joel Perez said after speaking with jurors.

Jurors did believe that Jonathan Depue was involved in the killing and burglary. He left physical evidence: a palm print on a TV in the house.

Depue, his older brother Eric Depue and their cousin Ruben Daniel Montoya all were charged with capital murder. Two other men are still under investigation in the crime.

Eric Depue cut a deal with the state not to seek the death penalty against him, and he has not been sentenced. He testified that he just was the driver that night and that after the burglary, his brother simply said: “I just shot.”

Eric Depue blamed the crime on his brother, testifying that Jonathan Depue emerged from Rhodes' home carrying a gun.

During the punishment phase, he said Montoya told him of another burglary that fall, in which Jonathan Depue had allegedly raped a woman with a gun. Depue was not charged with that crime. Montoya refused to testify and still faces trial.

“Again, the state prances out Eric Depue so he can save his own hide,” defense lawyer Ray Fuchs said.

Jonathan Depue's mother, Maria Gutierrez, testified that Eric Depue was the dishonest one. He always took advantage of his little brother, she said, from ripping off Jonathan in baseball card trades when they were small to bullying him along with their stepfather after Eric Depue got out of prison.

After 227th District Judge Philip Kazen had sentenced Jonathan Depue, Gutierrez and other family members sat silently in the courtroom, not wanting to discuss the case. But Gutierrez said she still knows Eric Depue lied.

“My son (Eric) sold his soul to the devil,” she said.

Unfortunately, she said, the jury believed him.

But they didn't, defense lawyer Perez said.
“The jury did not place a lot of credibility on Eric's testimony,” he said.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

More stress and less filling


Less time to get to graduation, get that JD and not get that job in the overfilled market for lawyers.

Northwestern University to Launch Two-Year J.D. Program
No other highly ranked law school offers a five-semester, two-year program
Leigh JonesThe National Law Journal

Northwestern University School of Law plans to launch a two-year juris doctor program in 2009, becoming the first among top law schools to offer an accelerated course of study.
Starting in May, the law school expects 40 students to begin the program, which will enable them to obtain a law degree in five semesters within two calendar years, instead of the usual three-year, six-semester program.

Northwestern hopes to entice students who might go to other schools to attend its shorter program and to recruit students who decide against law school because of the three-year duration, said David Van Zandt, Northwestern's dean. "I don't see a pedagogical reason for three years of law school," he said.

No other highly ranked law school offers a five-semester, two-year program. In 2005, the University of Dayton School of Law announced its plan a few months after the American Bar Association changed the rule that required students to take six semesters of instruction to graduate with a juris doctor degree. At least one other school, Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles, offers a six-semester, two-calendar year J.D. program.

Under Northwestern's two-year plan, students would participate in on-campus interviews for summer associate jobs after just one semester of courses, compared with three-year students who interview for those jobs after their first year of classes.

"It's tricky," said Lee Miller, co-chief executive of DLA Piper. Miller participated in focus groups that worked with the law school to develop its Plan 2008.

"Sure, it would be better to have more grades, but law firms have got to roll with the punches," he said.

Some 95 percent of Northwestern's three-year students have at least one year of post-college work experience prior to attending law school. All of the students in the two-year program would have at least two years of full-time work experience before they begin.

The law school's larger initiative calls for students in the accelerated program and eventually those in the traditional program to take two new courses. One course would cover quantitative analysis, such as accounting, finance and statistics, and would focus on practice dynamics, including project management. The other course would address decision-making designed to improve students' ability to understand the clients' strategies.

Britney does good

Well, I'm glad she is making progress towards sanity and mental health.

Hope all will be good for her children.

Court Orders 'Change' in Britney's Visitation with Sons
By Ken Lee

A Los Angeles court ordered a "change" in Britney Spears's visitation arrangement with her two sons, a court rep said Tuesday after a hearing attended by the pop singer and her ex, Kevin Federline.

The new terms were not revealed, but reports the court determined Spears is ready for overnight visitations. Superior Court spokesman Allan Parachini said the closed-door hearing, in which Spears's parenting coach answered questions from the court, went well for the pop star.

"There was a change in [Spears's] visitation status that was ordered," he said. "Britney's demeanor in court was businesslike. I think any judge is pleased to see progress being made by parties in a case."

Another hearing was set for July 15.

The naked ape

This is a clear case of naked aggression!

Naked man causes ‘disturbance’ in business then attacks police car

Springfield, Missouri-A man is in custody after deputies say he walked nude into a Greene County business, fled, then attacked a pursuing deputy’s patrol car, according to a news release.

The 30-year-old man, who was not identified, could face charges of second-degree robbery, assault on a law enforcement officer and felony property damage for the incident.

According to the release, the naked man walked into a business at 4220 West Willard Road shortly after 9 a.m. this morning, “causing a disturbance.”

The man fled when officers were called, but was located a short time later on a nearby Ozark Greenways trail. By the time a deputy found the man, he had put on a pair of shorts, said Greene County Chief Deputy Jim Arnott.

On the deputy, the man began to attack his patrol car, the release said, “then began assaulting a citizen while trying to forcibly take his vehicle in the parking area of the walking trail.”“He was really wired,” said Arnott. “He attacked the hood of the patrol car, then tried to break the window in on the patrol car.” The deputy used a Taser to subdue the man, who is believed to have been under the influence of an hallucinogenic drug.

Deputies have forwarded the case to the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office.

Keep your hands to yourself

Gee and I thought she sounded like a fun date.

Girl who grabbed officer's groin jailed without bail
By Elizabeth Dinan

PORTSMOUTH — An aspiring model convicted of grabbing a trooper’s genitals while being booked for driving while intoxicated is in jail without bail for violating probation a second time this year.

Taryn McCarthy, 22, of 529 Union St., is scheduled to be video-arraigned Monday on a charge of probation violation alleging she failed a Breathalyzer test in spite of a court order to abstain from alcohol. In a report to the District Court, probation officer Heather Ross said McCarthy has been monitored by an electronic bracelet since her release from jail for a January probation violation conviction and during a recent unannounced visit, blew a .26 on a Breathalyzer test.

In January, McCarthy was sentenced to a month in jail for probation violation after the court found she tested positive for marijuana during a random urine test and was found by Ross at the Brazo bar.

McCarthy pleaded guilty in June 2007 to aggravated driving while intoxicated and two counts of simple assault. The pleas were her admission to driving on Route 1 at 3:20 a.m. New Year’s Day 2007, before being stopped by troopers who administered Breathalyzer tests measuring her blood alcohol concentration at .16.

During the administration of two breath tests, McCarthy told Trooper Nicholas Cyr she would punch him in the face, then threw a punch striking another trooper. McCarthy also admitted to grabbing Cyr in the genital area while reading a police form and after being told not to touch him.

For one assault charge, she was sentenced to six months in the Rockingham County House of Corrections, with all but three days suspended pending her good behavior for two years. For the second simple assault plea, she was given a six-month jail sentence, with all of it suspended pending two years of good behavior. For the aggravated driving while intoxicated conviction, McCarthy was fined $750 and lost her license to drive for 18 months.

She was also court-ordered to write letters of apology to the two arresting troopers and be under the supervision of a probation officer for two years. The suspended jail sentences can be imposed if she is found guilty of the recent probation violation charge.

Holy Smokes!


Figuratively speaking of course.

God accused of selling cocaine near Tampa church

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Police say a man named God was arrested near a Tampa church for selling cocaine. Authorities began investigating God Lucky Howard in April, and he was arrested on Saturday.

Police say he sold the cocaine to undercover detectives in his neighborhood. When officers searched his home, they reported finding another 22 grams of cocaine and a scale.

Jail records show Howard was charged with several counts drug possession and distribution, which include increased charges for being within 1,000 feet of a church, a school and public housing.

He was being held on a bond of $86,500.

Smile! You're on candid camera

You'd think he would put two plus two together by now.

ie. If it looks too easy its because it is.

Thief caught on camera for third time

A thief has been caught on CCTV stealing a sat nav from an undercover police car for the third time.

James Milsom, 21, was filmed breaking into the covert vehicle, just six weeks after he was released from prison for stealing a sat nav from another unmarked police car.

It was the third time he had been caught in identical operations in just four months.

Footage revealed that it took him just six seconds to smash the window and grab the sat nav from a vehicle in Bristol before escaping in daylight.

But his face was caught on camera as he leant through the window, giving police a clear image of their suspect.

Avon and Somerset police came up with the 'covert capture' vehicles, which contain hidden cameras the size of a pinhead, after a spate of high-value thefts from cars.

Superintendent Ian Wylie said: "Some of the photographs we have got from the cars have been excellent images.

"There is no doubt who the thief is and what they are doing. When faced with such evidence there is no other way to go than 'guilty'."

The cars are now parked around the crime hotspots of Bristol in an attempt to catch the most prolific offenders.

Milsom has been jailed for 14 weeks by Bristol magistrates.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The long and the short of it

Dare I say it?

Yes, I shall.

She'll probably receive a short sentence.

What? I'm just sayin'

Alleged Teen Prostitute's Pimp In NYC Court Monday
By Ninad Shah and Lee Kushnir

NEW YORK (CBS) ― A dwarf charged with prostituting an underage runaway will appear in Kings County Supreme Court on Monday.

Jacqueline Green, a.k.a. 'Shorty,' due to her 3 foot 9 inch height, is charged with promoting prostitution and child endangerment for allegedly pimping a 15-year-old that ran away from a troubled home.

According to published reports, Green is accused of using her Bedford-Stuyvesant apartment as a sex pad for clients who paid $250 per half-hour for intercourse, and $100 per half-hour of oral sex.

Clients were found using Craigslist.

Green, 26, pleaded not guilty to all charges. The teenage girl was returned to her family. It is not clear how the two met.

Neighbors at Green's Brooklyn housing project were not surprised by the arrest, where she was described as a "hustler," and a "player."

Reginald Forden told the Post, "I didn't know she was a pimp, but I'm not surprised."