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Change the Legal System?

109Change the Legal System?

Commentary: Right to counsel? It’s stacked against the poor | McClatchy

It turns out there is a gulf between the 1963 promise and the 2013 reality. It turns out one lawyer can be expected to try 400, 500, 600 cases a year. It turns out public defenders are so underfunded and overwhelmed it is not uncommon for a defendant to meet his attorney for the first time in court. It turns out the situation is so dire that in at least one jurisdiction a judge pressed tax attorneys and property lawyers into service in criminal court. It turns out poor people’s justice is to justice as monkey business is to business.

Ask Clarence Jones, who spent over a year in prison just waiting for an attorney — and was still there as the book went to press — on a charge of burglary.

Ask Carol Dee Huneke, a novice lawyer with no experience in criminal law who was hired as a public defender on a Thursday and assigned a case that began Monday. She had never even seen a trial before.

And ask Greg Bright, who spent 27 years in prison on a murder charge he might have easily beaten, writes Houppert, had his court-appointed attorney done even minimal investigation on his behalf. As a later attorney discovered, the single witness the state’s case hinged upon was a mentally-ill heroin addict with a history of hallucinations who physically could not have seen what she claimed she did.

Twenty-seven years. “Make me wanna holler,” indeed.

What is reflected here is not simply incompetence but disdain, contempt for the rights, lives and humanity of the less fortunate. And perhaps your instinct is to look away, secure in the naïve delusion that no one gets arrested unless they’ve “done something.” Truth is, it happens every day.

Commentary: Right to counsel? It’s stacked against the poor | McClatchy

 

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Another White House Sell Out on the Big Banks

Another White House Sell Out on the Big Banks

Shouldn’t bankers be held to the same laws the rest of Americans have to obey? This is a no-brainer except in the Washington beltway where banks are considered the basis of the Republic rather than the modern equivalent of train robbing Western desperados. I don’t understand. Why is no one being prosecuted? I once lied to a judge. I didn’t know it was a lie until later. When I found out, I called him up (I was working for the state and dealt with the judge regularly) and explained and apologized. He reminded me that I could have gone to jail for that. I told I was well aware of it. And yet here, banks who lied to the judge, to the courts of the United States, are simply walking away. Unlike me, they knew they weren’t telling truth and unlike me, they were making enormous sums of money by lying, and they are not apologizing. Do you see anywhere in the agreement that they have to say, “I’m sorry.” I don’t see it.

There is a dual system of justice in this country, one for me and you, and one for the 1%. It’s very sad. We have been told that we live in a nation of laws, not of men. But the fact is we live in a nation of men, where one class is better than another in the eyes of the law.

James Pilant

Robo-Signing Bank Settlement is a Criminal Sell Out | Better Markets

“Let me help a few victims I created by ripping them off and illegally throwing them out of their homes by false court filings that I swore were true.”  That’s what the so-called mortgage settlement talks are really all about:  fraud, perjury and crimes.  That’s what these banks did and that’s what they are trying to buy their way out of.

The settlement discussions are the same: eliminate all or almost all liability for the bank and, most importantly, all bank officers and employees in exchange for a loan forgiveness or modification program.  Think about this:  the banks engaged in a years-long pattern and practice of what can only be described as fraudulent if not criminal conduct that would put anyone else in prison for years if not decades, yet banks get to buy off the cops with some money to help the victims they created.

Robo-Signing Bank Settlement is a Criminal Sell Out | Better Markets

Mortgage Settlement Is Great – For Big Banks

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My Welcome to My New Students in Criminal Justice!

Welcome!

I want to welcome you to this class. I always consider these joint endeavors in which both you and I trying to learn something in a complicated and exciting field.

 

Studying criminal justice is illuminating. It is a difficult field for many reasons. It deals with subjects that may have personally affected us. It deals with injury and death, often with the most unseemly of human actions. It also deals with psychological problems of the most serious and disturbing kind.

 

Please be aware that much of what you have seen on television is rank nonsense to those educated in the field. On television and often in movies, the law is often interpreted incorrectly, serial killers are portrayed as geniuses moving effortless through the population killing at will, and forensic crime solving is portrayed as well funded and almost always successful in finding the perpetrator. We will learn better.

 

Criminal justice in America is executed through thousands of law enforcement agencies in a bewildering set of jurisdictions often governed by contradictory and controversial laws. That it works at all is surprising and that is that it has serious problems a given.

 

You are going to be the future of criminal justice. As professionals, you will advance to become decision and policy makers. The understanding you acquire now may very well change the lives of thousands in the course of your life time.

 

I salute your willingness to engage in this difficult area of study and a lifetime of service to society at large.

 

James Pilant

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Penn State Students Riot on Behalf of Morally Disgraced Coach

A number of students at Penn State have rioted over the firing of legendary football coach, Joe Paterno. I am very disappointed in their behavior. From the grand jury report alone without any other media report, it is obvious that Paterno breached his moral duty by not reporting a cruel act of pedophilia and allowing the culprit to go free and possibly continue his criminal career for nine more years. Apparently some are arguing that since Paterno told his superiors, he had fulfilled his duty!

There was never any doubt in my mind that he and the college president had to be removed. The issues here are not grey, they are not indistinct; we are looking at a clear issue of right and wrong. These rioting Penn State students are making a statement here, that they do not understand the basic responsibilities of a citizen in our society.

From the New York Times

After top Penn State officials announced that they had fired Joe Paterno on Wednesday night, thousands of students stormed the downtown area to display their anger and frustration, chanting the former coach’s name, tearing down light poles and overturning a television news van parked along College Avenue.

Now, let’s hear at least one person’s argument on behalf of the fired coach –

Again, from the New York Times story

“I think the point people are trying to make is the media is responsible for JoePa going down,” said a freshman, Mike Clark, 18, adding that he believed that Mr. Paterno had met his legal and moral responsibilities by telling university authorities about an accusation that Mr. Sandusky assaulted a boy in a university shower in 2002.

Run this phrase from the paragraph above across your mind – “met his legal and moral responsibilities” Say it out loud and see if there is any way you can mean it.

There are those who believe when they have met the very least of their legal responsibilities, their moral duties are also fulfilled. I do not hold to that. My perception is that our moral responsibilities only begin there at the moral minimum of obedience to the law. We have duties to our fellow citizens and our nation. You could add duties to religion and civilization with no argument on my part.

I teach law enforcement courses. One of the principles of American law enforcement is public support. With the public’s active participation, law enforcement is not possible. The police do not cover enough ground that they can know about any worthwhile percentage of crime. So, the bedrock of American law enforcement is the willingness of citizens to provide information and sometime testify in criminal matters. Without that cooperation, we descend into chaos.

Did Joe Paterno violate the law? Here is the relevant portion of Pennsylvania statute in question –

§ 42.42. Suspected child abuse—mandated reporting requirements.

 (a)  General rule. Under 23 Pa.C.S. §  6311 (relating to persons required to report suspected child abuse), licensees who, in the course of the employment, occupation or practice of their profession, come into contact with children shall report or cause a report to be made to the Department of Public Welfare when they have reasonable cause to suspect on the basis of their professional or other training or experience, that a child coming before them in their professional or official capacity is a victim of child abuse.

 (b)  Staff members of public or private agencies, institutions and facilities. Licensees who are staff members of a medical or other public or private institution, school, facility or agency, and who, in the course of their employment, occupation or practice of their profession, come into contact with children shall immediately notify the person in charge of the institution, school facility or agency or the designated agent of the person in charge when they have reasonable cause to suspect on the basis of their professional or other training or experience, that a child coming before them in their professional or official capacity is a victim of child abuse. Upon notification by the licensee, the person in charge or the designated agent shall assume the responsibility and have the legal obligation to report or cause a report to be made …

Now I am definitely no expert in Pennsylvania law and there can be other statutes that may apply that I am unaware of. But based on what I have here I think it is pretty clear that under this disclosure law, Paterno fulfilled the state required minimum by reporting the incident to his superiors. Now be aware, the question as to whether or not a college football coach comes into contact with children so regularly that he has a reporting responsibility is a separate issue.

So he fulfilled his legal requirement based on a very simple layman’s interpretation of the law of the State of Pennsylvania. But did he fulfill his moral responsibility?

Let’s just make that second question as simple as possible? –

Do you call the police when you have discovered someone was anally assaulting a small boy in the locker room of your team?

If you can truthfully answer that with a “no,” I guess you have reason to riot.

James Pilant

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Free Trade, What a Joke

Beat the Press has a wonderful comment which I print in full below –

Why can’t the NYT just call the trade agreements being sent to the senate “trade” agreements? Why does it feel the need to mislead readers in the headline and several times in the article itself by calling them “free trade” agreements?

These deals do not free all trade. There will still be plenty of protectionist barriers left in place that will make it difficult for doctors, lawyers and other professionals from these countries from working in the United States. Furthermore the deals actually increase protectionism in the areas of patents and copyrights, which is one of their main purposes.

Presumably the NYT approves of these deals which is why it blesses them as “free trade” agreements, but this sort of editorializing should be left to the opinion pages.

He’s absolutely right. Our wonderful corporate press has decided that we must be led by the nose to eat our oatmeal and swallow another free trade deal. The United States will insist that these nations observe our patent and copyright laws however ridiculous they have bccome and in return American corporations will move jobs and money to their countries to escape American law.

Now, if you’re thinking about this, you might say “James, they want to move somewhere with more American law but at the same time with a lot less American law?” Exactly. You see our giant corporate sleaze operation wants other nations to have to protect their intellectual property interests while using them to evade American environmental and labor law.

Some doctrinal looney decided that free trade is always a good thing, and since our media, government and corporate leadership tend to act as a group of not very smart but greedy second graders, we’re going to get shafted again.

James Pilant

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House panel approves bill forcing ISPs to log users’ web history (via THE INTERNET POST)

Yes, it’s all true. I went and checked to make sure there was no exaggeration here because this is so scary. Well, there it is, a congressional attempt to clobber all privacy on the internet and create huge databases of personal information that can be used against American citizens. I don’t think my web history is anybody’s business but mine and I bet you feel the same way.

James Pilant

House panel approves bill forcing ISPs to log users’ web history This has actually precious little to do with finding pedophiles, and everything to do with spying on everyone using the net. Lawmakers are about to push the American people under a bus with this legislation, and into the dark abyss of Code Napoleon Law, where everyone was considered guilty until proven innocent. First and 4th Amendment to the Constitution, rest … Read More

via THE INTERNET POST

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Typical academic consideration of police lying (via Allcoppedout’s Blog)

Typical academic consideration of police lying (via Allcoppedout’s Blog)

Here we discuss police lying and the legal fictions that figure so much in the language and practice of criminal justice. I like this paragraph –

My own belief is we are scared of transparency, partly because all our cupboards hide skeletons. When the ‘red witch’ placed at the heart of the hacking scandal admitted she knew her organization had paid police officers, this was seen as a blunder and admission of ‘criminality’. This is not the right approach and seems to be putting people we want to tell the truth in the same position as the police officer having to ‘game’ in the legal system.

I agree we do not value the truth so much as we value playing some strange kind of game designed to elude responsibility and honor.

James Pilant

Police lying is not best described as a “dirty little secret.”‘ For instance, police lying is no “dirtier” than the prosecutor’s encouragement or conscious use of tailored testimony2 or knowing suppression of Brady material;3 it is no more hypocritical than the wink and nod of judges who regularly pass on incredible police testimony4 and no more insincere than the demagogic politicians who decry criminality in our communities, but will not legisl … Read More

via Allcoppedout’s Blog

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Turns of events (via Sujato’s Blog)

Turns of events (via Sujato’s Blog)

Religions other than Christian struggle with equality for women and other societal changes.

Read these two paragraphs from the larger article below –

What exactly is going on here? The governing principles of Wat Pa Pong remain as they have ever been: discrimination against women and submission to the authority of the Ajahns. Since the majority of devotees reject these principles, they have been kept secret as far as possible; however this is no longer possible. The only way to ensure survival is to gain absolute power over the considerable wealth and property invested in the monasteries.

We shouldn’t be surprised. The Ajahns have been telling us these things for years. Equality, democracy, rights: according to the clear, often repeated, and explicit teachings of senior Wat Pa Pong Ajahns, these things are alien, ‘Western’ values irrelevant to the Dhamma and of no value for liberation. What we are now seeing is simply these principles put into practice.

(I’m letting the article speak for itself. The religious issues here are of major importance and my knowledge is not deep enough to do careful analysis.) JP

It’s now a year and a half since Ajahn Brahm and Bodhinyana monastery were excommunicated from their monastic circle, Wat Pa Pong, for disobeying orders by ordaining women in accordance with the Buddha’s teachings. Has anything got better? Short answer: not so you’d notice. Long answer: Ajahn Brahm has been in discussions with some of the WPP Ajahns overseas, trying to arrange a forgiveness ceremony, to let go and move ahead. He is clear that nei … Read More

via Sujato’s Blog

Terry Jones Needs to be Committed (via Off the Top o' My Head)

I don’t know if Terry Jones is insane or not. I don’t know if he should be committed for a long period of time. However, I do know that his conduct merits temporary custody and a mental exam by a professional. There certainly seems to me enough evidence of deviate behavior to merit such custody.

Even if he were found sane, the fact that he was examined would convey to the Muslim world how strange we find his behavior.

People in other nations find our willingness to allow virtually anyone to have their own church to be bizarre and a good number believe Christianity is a top-down organization with some kind of control. Churches in the United States cover the spectrum from the sublime to the bizarre. People in nations with more unified religions do not get this.

I’ve never been anywhere but the United States and sometimes, I find it bizarre. “That’s a church!,” I’ll think to myself while watching people handle snakes or preach that the bible is a self help handbook on how to get rich. How much more do the adherents of Islam find behavior here odd?

Let’s do something about Terry Jones.

James Pilant

Please read the post from Off the Top o’ My Head. He is more eloquent than I.

Terry Jones is coming to Dearborn, Michigan to celebrate Adolph Hitler’s Birthday on April 22, 2011, but his mental instability is indicated by the fact that he is two days off. Hitler was born on April 20, 1869. Jones plans to demonstrate against Islam and is hoping for a large turnout of like-minded religious nutcases. Just as Timothy McVeigh hoped to incite racial conflict and blew up the Murrah Federal Building as a means to that end, Jones w … Read More

via Off the Top o My Head

New York Finally Investigating its Horrid Foreclosure Mills (via The Law Office of Avram E. Frisch LLC Blog)

This is a succinct account of what passes for the practice of law in one of those machine shop like law firms that the banks find so enticing. They save the banks literally billions of dollars by avoiding doing any but the most basic requirements of the law.

I appreciate this gentleman’s willingness to share his frustration online. Thanks!

James Pilant

According to today’s New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/09/business/09foreclose.html?_r=1, the New York attorney general is now investigating the worst foreclosure mill firm in the state, The Law Office of Steven J. Baum. I have had the privilege of facing Mr. Baum’s “law firm” on quite a few occasions, and it is some experience. The firm files 40% of all foreclosures in New York, but has only 70 lawyers on staff. They send per dorm la … Read More

via The Law Office of Avram E. Frisch LLC Blog

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