July 2009 Archives

Sikeston, Mississippi police lead a couple of "bounty-hunters" who it turns out were neither licensed nor in possession of the right name of their suspects, to the home of David and Jenny Carnell, in the middle of the night. whom they proceed to terrorize at gunpoint.

KFS-TV reports

How would you feel if someone showed up at your house in the middle of the night demanding to come inside?

A Sikeston couple says they were not about to take a chance and open the door especially when the strangers would not identify themselves.

Now that couple wants their story heard that the people at the their door turned out to be bounty hunters from Mississippi.

The couple ended up being the wrong targets.  Now those bounty hunters face charges themselves.

Jeremy McNeill was taken into custody in Arkansas.  Tim Fugate was arrested in Scott County.  The pleaded not guilty to acting without a license in court Wednesday.

"We hear this bam, bam, bam at our back door!" said David Carnell. 

That's how he says the most terrifying night of his life began, with a stranger banging at his door.

Thanks to bibiliophile


Prince William county police bust into Manassas family baptism party, taser and arrest the homeowner, a grandfather, a 55 year old family counselor and Bible study teacher for "public intoxication" in his own backyard, then taser 25 year old pregnant woman in the back when she tries to help him up after being knocked to the ground by taser. She, of course, is then arrested for "assaulting an officer".

Carlos Miller reports

Police in Virginia entered a backyard party filled with children and ended up Tasering a 55-year-old grandfather as well as a pregnant mother.

The man, a family counselor and Bible study teacher, was arrested for public intoxication even though he was in his own backyard the entire time.

Public intoxication in the privacy of his own home.

They were celebrating the baptism of two little boys. The mother of the boys tried helping the man when he fell to the ground after being Tased, but she was Tased herself.

Prince William County Police charged her with assault on a police officer.

Part of the interaction between Rodriguez Sr. and the cops was caught on a home video camera. It doesn't show any combativeness from his part.

Oh yeah, there's one other thing. The family is Hispanic and some didn't speak English. The woman who was arrested, the mother of the kids and the mother of one on its way, is apparently facing deportation because she is being detained by immigration officials.

thanks to jgodsey
Mentally disabled and deaf man brought to jail by Mobile, Alabama police for resisting arrest.

Mobile Press-Register reports

Mobile police used pepper spray and a Taser on a deaf and mentally disabled man Friday after they were unable to get him to come out of a bathroom at a Dollar General store, authorities said.  

After forcibly removing Antonio Love from the bathroom of the Azalea Road store, officers attempted to book the 37-year-old, on charges of resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and failure to obey a police officer, but the magistrate on duty at the jail refused to accept any of those charges.

Love's family members said they had no idea where he was during the time that
police had him in custody. Brodrick Love said the officers dropped his brother
off in the parking lot of their apartment building without saying what happened or why his brother had been missing for six hours.
Tacoma, Washington branch of reformed Students for Democratic Society infiltrated and spied on by at least one, and possibly more, military intelligence operatives.

Democracy Now reports

Newly declassified documents reveal that an active member of Students for a Democratic Society and Port Militarization Resistance in Washington state was actually an informant for the US military. The man everyone knew as "John Jacob" was in fact John Towery, a member of the Force Protection Service at Fort Lewis. The military's role in the spying raises questions about possibly illegal activity. The Posse Comitatus law bars the use of the armed forces for law enforcement inside the United States. The Fort Lewis military base denied our request for an interview. But in a statement to Democracy Now, the base's Public Affairs office publicly acknowledged for the first time that Towery is a military operative. "This could be one of the key revelations of this era," said Eileen Clancy, who has closely tracked government spying on activist organizations.
Seattle Police Dept. advises community "drug watch" groups to call 911 if they see two people sitting idly in a parked car.

Seattle Weekly reports

Ever sit and chat in a parked car? That may warrant a 911 call for suspicious activity. (Look out, area teenagers.) So says a post on neighborhood blog Phinneywood, where a resident recounts witnessing a drug transaction in front of his house. He called the police, who he says told him:

Do call 911 immediately if you see a car with people sitting in it apparently going no where. They are waiting to make a drug connection.

Yikes! Sounds like a rather loose definition of suspicious activity, a rather low bar to clear for a 911 call, an invitation to all sorts of profiling, and a little like those unconstitutional loitering statutes. So we called SPD to confirm that these are, indeed, their desired instructions.

Thanks to Drug War rant


Little noted Supreme Court ruling from May, cited 500 times in past two months, may, according to constitutional law scholar Anthony Renzo, create a A Law Free Zone for All the King's Men.

The NY Times reports

The most consequential decision of the Supreme Court's last term got only a little attention when it landed in May. And what attention it got was for the wrong reason.

But the lower courts have certainly understood the significance of the decision, Ashcroft v. Iqbal, which makes it much easier for judges to dismiss civil lawsuits right after they are filed. They have cited it more than 500 times in just the last two months.

"Iqbal is the most significant Supreme Court decision in a decade for day-to-day litigation in the federal courts," said Thomas C. Goldstein, an appellate lawyer with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in Washington.

On its face, the Iqbal decision concerned the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. The court ruled that a Muslim man swept up on immigration charges could not sue two Bush administration officials for what he said was the terrible abuse he suffered in detention.

But something much deeper and broader was going on in the decision, something that may unsettle how civil litigation is conducted in the United States. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who dissented from the decision, told a group of federal judges last month that the ruling was both important and dangerous. "In my view," Justice Ginsburg said, "the court's majority messed up the federal rules" governing civil litigation.

For more than half a century, it has been clear that all a plaintiff had to do to start a lawsuit was to file what the rules call "a short and plain statement of the claim" in a document called a complaint. Having filed such a bare-bones complaint, plaintiffs were entitled to force defendants to open their files and submit to questioning under oath.

Thanks to The Raw Story



Wisconsin teen ordered to drive drunk

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Nineteen year old sleeping off a beer buzz in a parking lot after a rock concert is awakened and ordered by state trooper to drive away, where he's promptly arrested by said cop for drunk driving.

FoxNews reports

Travis Peterson, 19, of Dixon, Ill., said even though he told the officer he was drunk and sleeping it off, the trooper ordered him to leave because the lot was being cleared.

Once out of the parking lot, Peterson was arrested for drunken driving. He was subsequently found guilty and ordered to spend 60 days in jail.

Thanks to Lew rockwell.com


Losing key to your own apt. while Black brings on the heat in Cambridge, Mass.

Boston.com reports

Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., one of the nation's pre-eminent African-American scholars, was arrested Thursday afternoon at his home by Cambridge police investigating a possible break-in. The incident raised concerns among some Harvard faculty that Gates was a victim of racial profiling.

Police arrived at Gates' Ware Street home near Harvard Square at 12:44 p.m. to question him. Gates, director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard, had locked himself out of his house and was trying to get inside.

He was booked for disorderly conduct after "exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior," according to the Cambridge police log.

Friends of Gates said he was already in his home when police arrived. He showed his driver's license and Harvard identification card, but was handcuffed and taken into police custody for several hours last Thursday, they said.

Thanks to jgodsey


Officer Albert Lopez follows woman into convenience store after her car was rear-ended by his son, and commence beating her at gunpoint, finally arresting her for "assaulting an officer."

Philly.com reports

WHEN AGNES LAWLESS and three friends were inside a Lukoil convenience store in the Northeast at 3 a.m. last August, they'd all but forgotten the fender-bender in which they'd been involved moments earlier.

There was little damage, and the other driver had left the scene, near Northeast Philadelphia Airport.

What they didn't know was that they'd been rear-ended by the son of a police officer who was on duty, and dad was about to get involved.

Lawless was standing at the counter of the store, at Comly Road and Roosevelt Boulevard, smiling and chatting with the clerk, when she was grabbed from behind and violently pushed back with a police officer's gun in her face.

"He hit me with his left hand, and he had his gun in his right hand," Lawless said. "He pushed his gun into the left side of my neck. It caused a scrape-type bruise on my neck."

After a chaotic struggle, Lawless was arrested and charged with assaulting the officer.

Thanks to Eraser Girl
UK government set to require all children's authors visiting schools to enter their names (at their own expense) in the nation's pedophile suspect database.

Carnal Nation reports

In a stunningly misguided program implemented by the British government, all children's book authors who visit schools must register with a national database intended to protect children from pedophiles, and they must pay a fee to do so. Beginning October 12, 2009, the Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) will require that all adults who work with children, including authors such as J.K. Rowling and Philip Pullman if they make special visits to schools, will be required to register with the database for a fee of £64 ($105).

The Independent reports that as a result, several well-known authors will boycott schools in protest of the requirement. Philip Pullman, Anne Fine, Anthony Horowitz, Michael Morpurgo, and Quentin Blake have all publicly stated that they object to having their names listed in the database. Pullman, author of the popular fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials, called the policy "corrosive and poisonous to every kind of healthy social interaction." He eloquently adds, "This reinforces the culture of suspicion, fear and mistrust that underlies a great deal of present-day society. It teaches children that they should regard every adult as a potential murderer or rapist." Anne Fine, the former Children's Laureate for the U.K. and author of over 50 children's books, labelled the requirement "government idiocy." "When it [the VBS] becomes essential, I shall continue to work only in foreign schools, where sanity prevails," she said. "The whole idea of vetting an adult who visits many schools, but each only for a day, and then always in the presence of other adults, is deeply offensive. Our children will become further impoverished by this tiresome and ill-considered scheme, and yet another gulf will be created between young people and the rest of society."


In order to counter the pernicious threat of, who knows, perhaps coolers of beer, Boulder's rangers and police warn that all bags are subject to search, warrants be damned.

Boing Boing reports

When I was in Boulder, CO last week I went for a walk in a city-owned "greenbelt" hiking trail. I saw this sign that read, "All bags and coolers subject to search. City of Boulder Rangers and Police Officers will be patrolling this area."

Are the police allowed to search your bags in a public park without a warrant? (I saw no police officers or rangers while hiking that day; in fact I saw no other hikers either.)

thanks to jgodsey
With language so broad it could include nearly any activity that protests, or conspires to protest, the practices (financial, labor or environmental) of any company, from McDonalds to Wal Mart to Chanel, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, as Rachel Meeropol explains below, is an innocent sounding law that could wield a broad brush over civil liberties.

Alternet reports

You may not have heard of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, because the very first prosecution under the 2006 law is currently underway in San Jose, California. In the case, USA v. Buddenberg, four animal rights activists are accused of chanting, making leaflets and writing with chalk on the sidewalk in front of a senior bio-researcher's house, as well as using the internet to research the company whose actions they planned to protest. Under the AETA, they are charged with acts of animal enterprise terrorism.

The AETA classifies a person who "intentionally damages or causes the loss of any real or personal property" or "intentionally places a person in reasonable fear of" death or serious bodily injury as terrorists when they act for the "purpose of damaging or interfering with an animal enterprise." It imposes penalties accordingly. At first blush, this may not sound so bad. But a closer look exposes serious problems: the AETA can be read to reach so many different types of protests and people, and it is written in language so vague, it is impossible for someone to know whether their actions might be covered under the AETA, and thus great swaths of protected speech are in danger of being silenced by the law.

To understand the fundamental threat to free speech, the First Amendment and the right to protest that the AETA poses, it might help to unpack the words "Animal Enterprise," "Terrorism," and "Act."

Under the law, an animal enterprise includes any business that deals in animal research or uses or sells animal products. This could be read as anything from a lab conducting medical research on monkeys to a gas station that sells beef jerky.



Crivitz, Wisconsin police come onto ex-Marine's property and  pull down flag flown in "distress" to protest local government.

Alternet reports

Every freshman who's ever taken a class in civics and government knows that there's no point in having free speech if it only protects popular expression. Apparently, those tasked with enforcing the law in one Wisconsin town aren't aware of that rather simple axiom.

Hours before a Fourth of July parade, four police officers went to Vito Congine's property and removed the flag under the advice of Marinette County District Attorney Allen Brey.





Officer Adam Tavss shot and killed two alleged crime suspects in South Beach, Miami, in two seperate cases over four days last month. In both cases shootings were justified with the claim that suspects were armed, though in neither case were weapons actually found on the victims . Now audio clips are surfacing which show police knew Husien Shehada, one of the victims, was unarmed. 

Carlos Miller at NBC Miami reports

n the moments after a Miami Beach police officer shot and killed his unarmed brother last month, Samer Shehada's cell phone inexplicably began recording a series of audio clips.

The first one is the most chilling, revealing Samer's blood-curdling pleas for his brother as police try to place him in custody.

His brother, Husien, was laying motionless on the sidewalk after having been shot at least twice by Officer Adam Tavss - who shot and killed another man four days later.

"Please make him move ... Husien! Husien!"

"That's my brother!"

"Why did you all shoot him?"

Sirens are wailing as police tell Samer to "get in the car! ... get your ass in the car! .... Get the f*ck back!"

In another clip, after Samer has been placed in the back of a squad car, a conversation, apparently between two officers, can be heard.

"You sure it was the same dude?"

"We didn't find anything."

Then Samer says, "We ain't got nothing on us, man. We was just walking the street, man."

John Contini, attorney for the Shehada family, says this clip proves that police were lying when they said the brothers were carrying a wooden coat hanger and a green beer bottle to give the impression that they were packing weapons. Or at least lying when they said Husien was carrying something.

Just over a week ago, police released a second video that shows one of the Shehada brothers apparently had something under his shirt as well as audio clips of the 911 calls of people reporting a man with a machine gun. It appears to have been a coat hanger. Contini acknowledges it was Samer.

Contini says the audio recordings on Samer's cell phone were a freak accident because there was no way Shehada could have purposely reached into his pocket to begin recording in the madness that ensued, which can be clearly heard on the audio.

Contini sent a total of 26 audio clips, each about 90 seconds. Samer can be heard crying, praying and pleading in several of the clips, but the most telling are the clips posted on the left side, which were apparently recorded at 4:17 a.m. and 4:27 a.m.

The Shehada brothers came down from Virginia with their girlfriends on vacation. Husien was killed after a day of shopping and visiting sites and a night of clubbing.

Contini is also representing the family of the second man shot by police four days later, Lawrence McCoy, who was killed after he had allegedly carjacked a taxi.

Police initially said McCoy was killed after he opened fire on police, but police now say there was no gun on him after the shooting. They also say they recovered a gun in the waters off the MacArthur Causeway, which is where he was killed.

Contini said McCoy was shot nine times with the autopsy showing mostly defensive wounds.

"He was shot in the back, in the forearms, in the armpits, in the face," Contini said. "Those are all defensive wounds as if someone is cowering in a defensive position."


Thanks to Eraser Girl


"Imagine being in jail, and you receive a letter from your mother. It says: "Dear Son..." It goes on for a paragraph, and then the rest of it is a big, gaping hole, where prison censors have cut--with scissors--biblical passages that your mom thought you might find comforting during your incarceration. The big hole is followed by: "Love, Mom."

The ACLU blog reports

This actually happened to an inmate in Virginia's Rappahannock Regional Jail, where jail policy mandates that officials censor biblical passages from letters written to detainees. Today, the ACLU and ACLU of Virginia sent a letter to Rappahannock's superintendent, Joseph Higgs, Jr., asking him to end this policy, as it violates both detainees' and letter-writers' First Amendment rights.

Daniel Mach, Director of Litigation for the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, said in a statement today: "It is essential that jail officials abide by the law and the requirements of the U.S. Constitution. People do not lose their right to religious worship simply because they are incarcerated."

Despite the fact that a jury found Ward Churchill's firing from the Univ. of Colorado was unjust and politically motivated Judge Larry Naves finds the university Board of Regents, due to its "quasi-judicial immunity" from accountability, need not reinstate nor reimburse him.

Inside Higher Ed reports

The University of Colorado won just about everything it wanted, and Ward Churchill lost just about everything he wanted, in a ruling Tuesday by a state judge in Colorado.

Judge Larry J. Naves ruled that the University of Colorado Board of Regents had "quasi-judicial immunity" when it voted to fire Churchill from his tenured position teaching ethnic studies, after faculty panels found that he had committed multiple instances of research misconduct. Naves vacated an April ruling by a jury in the case that found that Churchill had been inappropriately fired. Based on that ruling, Naves could have ordered Churchill reinstated or ordered Colorado to pay him -- issues that would have been moot given that Naves vacated the jury's decision. But Naves went on and said that, even based on the jury's findings, Churchill was not entitled to his job back, or to any money
Thanks to Jonathan Turley
Not yet recognizing online as a "legitimate" channel for journalism, NJ judge rules bloggers and presumably other illegimate journalists.

Mediapost reports

All states except one, Wyoming, have some form of a shield law that allows journalists to protect their confidential sources. Many were passed before the Internet era, but some state courts have recently said the policies apply to bloggers as well as to mainstream media, provided the bloggers are engaged in newsgathering and dissemination.

But a judge in New Jersey has just made the questionable decision that blogger Shellee Hale isn't covered by that state's reporter's shield law, which allows journalists to protect their confidential sources.

The judge ruled that Hale shouldn't be considered a journalist because she hadn't shown she was affiliated with a "legitimate" media outlet, according to Law.com.


Just what's needed, more secrecy. A law designed to protect multi-billion dollar investment banks like Goldman Sachs from public scrutiny, in the form of nosy bloggers, of its program trading activities.

Matt Taibbi reports

This is complicated stuff (for people with no financial background, like me, it's nightmarish) and I have a longer thing about this coming out later. But the essence of this story is that Tyler Durden over at Zero Hedge has, for months, been complaining that Goldman has been manipulating the NYSE, in particular manipulating program trading in somewhat the same way (although perhaps not to the same extent) that they manipulated the commodities markets. In order to make his case -- and his theory has gained a lot of acceptance, to the point where Goldman had to respond to the allegations publicly -- he has been analyzing data the NYSE releases on program trading every week.

So what happened this week? The NYSE announced that it will no longer be releasing its weekly program trading data. This is quiet obviously a move designed to make it even more impossible to track what's going on in the NYSE and shield, in particular, Goldman Sachs. Let's hope there's a public uproar about this; Zero Hedge posted contact info for NYSE officials, and has urged readers to petition the exchange to restore the old rules in the name of transparency.


Principal at California high school confiscates 300 copies of student publication due to its venerable Old English font, which he believes evokes images of gang tattoos.

The Orange County Register reports

Few people have seen the eye-catching magazine cover designed by students at Orange High School, with its stark image of a man's back tattooed with the title - "OHS Pulp" - in Old English script.

That's because almost every copy of the student magazine is locked away in the office of Principal SK Johnson. He confiscated the magazine after deciding the tattoo on the cover was "gang-looking" and an article inside was inappropriate.

His action has drawn protest not just from the students who put together the magazine, but also from student-press advocates across the country. They say Johnson took a big step over a legal line drawn clearly by California's constitution.

"It was not an easy decision," Johnson said. "But we have an image of our school that I want to uphold. I don't think that (cover) was promoting what we want to promote at our school."

Thanks to the Natl. Coalition on Censorship


Account of Shreveport resident Robert Baillio, who got pulled over for having two pro-gun bumper stickers on the back of his truck -- and had his licensed gun confiscated.
According to Cedric Glover, mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana, his cops "have a power that [. . .] the President of these Unites States does not have": His cops can take away your rights.


And would you like to guess which rights he has in mind?


Just ask Shreveport resident Robert Baillio, who got pulled over for having two pro-gun bumper stickers on the back of his truck -- and had his gun confiscated.


While the officer who pulled him over says Baillio failed to use his turn signal, the only questions he had for Baillio concerned guns: Whether he had a gun, where the gun was, and if he was a member of the NRA. No requests for a driver's licence, proof of insurance, or vehicle registration -- and no discussion of a turn signal.


Accordingly, Baillio told the officer the truth, which led the police officer to search his car without permission and confiscate his gun.


However, not only does Louisiana law allow resident to drive with loaded weapons in their vehicles, but Mr. Baillio possessed a concealed carry license!


What does such behavior demonstrate, other than transparent political profiling -- going so far as to use the infamous Department of Homeland Security report on "Americans of a rightwing persuasion" as a how-to guidebook, no less?


Mr. Baillio made no secret of his political affiliations: An American flag centers a wide flourish of pro-freedom stickers and decals on his back windshield.


In fact, when Baillio asked the officer if everyone he pulls over gets the same treatment, the officer said no and pointed to the back of his truck.

Thanks to Rabbit


Many modern (and ancient) narratives, art and musical works have been based on creative riffs on, appropriations and transformations of aspects of previous works. Such apparently was the idea of Frederick Colting in a novel titled  60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye,imagining what a 76 year old Holden Caulfield, called Mr. C in the book, might have become, six decades after the events portrayed  in Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. But, unless we buy the UK edition, we in the US will never know because, according to a US district court judge, copyright now means the right to control all imaginative appropriations of as book's characters and themes.

The NY Times reports

In a victory for the reclusive writer J. D. Salinger, a federal judge on Wednesday indefinitely banned publication in the United States of a new book by a Swedish author that contains a 76-year-old version of Holden Caulfield, the protagonist of "The Catcher in the Rye."

The judge, Deborah A. Batts, of United States District Court in Manhattan, had granted a 10-day temporary restraining order last month against the author, Fredrik Colting, who wrote the new novel under the pen name J. D. California.

In a 37-page ruling, Judge Batts issued a preliminary injunction -- indefinitely banning the publication, advertising or distribution of the book in this country -- after considering the merits of the case. The book has been published in Britain.

"I am pretty blown away by the judge's decision," Mr. Colting said in an e-mail message after the ruling. "Call me an ignorant Swede, but the last thing I thought possible in the U.S. was that you banned books." Mr. Colting and his lawyer, Edward H. Rosenthal, said they would appeal. The decision means that "members of the public are deprived of the chance to read the book and decide for themselves whether it adds to their understanding of Salinger and his work," Mr. Rosenthal said.

In a copyright infringement lawsuit filed June 1, lawyers for Mr. Salinger contended that the new work was derivative of "Catcher" and Holden Caulfield, and infringed on Mr. Salinger's copyright.

The work by Mr. Colting, 33, centers on a 76-year-old "Mr. C," the creation of a writer named Mr. Salinger. Although the name Holden Caulfield does not appear in the book, Mr. C is clearly Holden, one of the best-known adolescent figures in American fiction, aged 60 years.

(The similarities between the characters were not much in dispute. As Judge Batts wrote in her ruling, "Both narratives are told from the first-person point of view of a sarcastic, often uncouth protagonist who relies heavily on slang, euphemisms and colloquialisms, makes constant digression and asides, refers to readers in the second person, constantly assures the reader that he is being honest and that he is giving them the truth.")

Mr. Colting's lawyers argued, among other things, that the new novel, titled "60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye," did not violate copyright laws because it amounted to a critical parody that had the effect of transforming the original work.






24 year old tackled to ground and beaten for asking why he was being ordered out of car.

The Washington Post reports


Prince George's County police are reviewing the actions of an officer who arrested a motorist on charges of slugging and tackling him during a traffic stop in Hyattsville. A police video of the encounter last year shows the officer yanking the man out of his car, slugging him twice and tackling him.


"Step out of the car now, or I'll have you out of the car," Cpl. Steven Jackson says after the motorist does not comply with three rapid-fire demands to exit the car.

"You yelling, but you have to give me a reason to step out of the car," Shawn M. Leake, 24, replies.

Jackson opens the driver's side door and pulls Leake out of the car. Almost immediately, Jackson makes a fist and slugs Leake in the face, then quickly slugs him again in the face, the video shows. Leake does not hit or appear to try to punch Jackson.

Thanks to Raw Story



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