Author Archives: Gideon

Another CT town will put cameras on its school buses

Apparently this is a thing. School buses are now mounting cameras on their outside to capture the license plates of cars that do not stop for the school bus.

Fine, but if you get a ticket, remember to read up on the law. For instance, revisit my post from 2008 in which I informed you that you don’t have to stop for a school bus that’s on the other side of a divided road.

Knockout bill KOs logic, advances in legislature

swing-and-a-miss

Listen, if you’re going to propose a bill that criminalizes a “trend” in assaultive behavior and you want to single out juveniles for especially harsh treatment, you better have a more concrete response than this:

Verrengia said it was difficult to determine how many of the attacks have occurred when he was asked Monday if there was any evidence suggesting that a large number have been committed by 16- or 17-year-old offenders.

“I tried to wrap my arms around it, I tried to get statistics, but it’s very difficult to do so by virtue of the present reporting requirements by various law enforcement agencies,” he said. “. . . I think if you were to ask [victims] how many assaults have there been throughout the state of Connecticut, they would say, ‘One too many.’”

You know why he couldn’t “get statistics”? Why he tried to wrap his arms of justice around this issue and failed? I mean, if the ‘knockout game’ is such a big problem that you need to specifically legislate against it in ass-backwards ways, shouldn’t the statistics be abundant? Shouldn’t there be data flowing out your rear hole?

A DuPont heir update and a reminder that the media generally sucks at criminal justice reporting

Remember two weeks ago when you were outraged like never before that the rich, pedophilic, no-good trust fund bastard Robert H. Richards IV, aka “the DuPont heir” got away with no jail time because he “wouldn’t fare well in jail” according to some liberal activist judge in Delaware? Remember that you were so angry that he was rich and therefore got special treatment and you wanted to burn him instead of burning down the system that encourages such disparities?

Now, do you also remember that generally speaking the media is god-awful at reporting on criminal justice?

So, when the former meets the latter, who do you think you got fooled into fake outrage? You. That’s right. You got suckered. Again.

Even judicial opinions spin their facts (updated)

[Update below] What, really, is a fact? The word, which seemingly should have one simple definition, in fact does not.  For example, in science, a “fact” is an observation that has been repeatedly confirmed and for all practical purposes is accepted as “true.” In law, on the other hand, a “fact” is what 6 people say it is. In other words, it’s not a validation of what actually happened, but what reasonably could have happened. A fact is also determined based on a rather narrow, limited universe: some things aren’t taken into account and conclusions are made by ignoring other, contradictory events.

One example of this is if you read any appellate court opinion by a Connecticut court written in the last decade or so, almost all of them will have a recitation of the “facts” that begins with the following sentence:

The jury could reasonably have found the following facts

Invariably, this recitation is skewed toward the interpretation of those “facts” that supports the court’s eventual decision. If you need to uphold a questionable stop of a car on the road, highlight the helpful police officer’s testimony while downplaying or even ignoring frame-by-frame video evidence.

Two days ago I wrote a post about a juror who demonstrated that she believed the defendant to be guilty even before the presentation of evidence and who was “bullied” into stating that she could be fair despite those prejudicial beliefs. At the time i wrote the post I didn’t read the opinion. A helpful commenter has provided a link to the opinion. It perfectly illustrates the point I’m making here. First, let’s remember from my post that the transcript revealed that the juror made several assertions that she would not be able to be fair:

The prosecutor then asked the juror: “You haven’t heard any evidence. How would you vote?”  Juror 112 responded, “I would have to vote guilty.”

The judge asked if she could return a verdict of not guilty if the government couldn’t prove it’s case beyond a reasonable doubt.

“I don’t think I would be able to,” the juror replied.

The prosecutor tried again: “Let me ask you this flat-out. Let’s say the victim takes the stand [and] you flat-out don’t believe her. In fact, you think she’s lying. You look at her [and conclude] ‘I don’t believe a word coming out of her mouth.’ Are you going to convict this man anyway?”

Juror 112 responded before the first witness in the case had been called, “That depends. I still feel he was at fault.”

So let’s go take a look at the opinion. Find the Control and F keys on your keyboard. You’re going to need them. In the opinion, the judge explains that the trial court, before the evidence, explained to the panel that the case involved allegations of a lewd act upon a child, a lewd act upon a child under age 14, and several counts of forcible rape involving two victims, plus an allegation that defendant committed the rape offenses against more than one victim. At the time jury selection occurred, both the prosecution and the defense questioned the jurors including Juror 112, who did not indicate any problem with judging the case fairly.

Then it starts getting messy:

Transgender 16-yo, transferred without charges to adult female prison, or maybe male

Since former Supreme Court justice Joette Katz has taken over the beleaguered Department of Children and Families (DCF), some weird ass shit has been going on over there. The latest is this really outrageous transfer of a transgender 16-year old male who identifies as female to an adult correctional facility.

It’s not like she’s actually arrested for anything, though. The Courant reports:

In this case, the youth was arrested at a juvenile facility in Needham, Mass., in late January for an assault on a staff member — but the criminal charge was not pursued by prosecutors in Massachusetts. No criminal charges are pending against the youth.

The police report in Massachusetts said that the assault resulted in ”apparent minor injuries” to the staff member, said [Assistant Public Defender] Connolly, who reviewed the report.

However, the incident report prepared by staff at Meadowridge Academy in Needham, does describe a violent outburst by the youth, who was upset, insubordinate and attempting to walk off campus when confronted by two staff members.

So? 16 year olds act out. There are no charges. The most galling part is that this is the very child that Commissioner Katz used as an example in her pitch for a locked detention facility:

On Feb. 14, Katz, while lobbying to open a secure treatment facility for girls in Middletown, brought up this youth’s story in testimony before the legislature’s appropriations committee. Katz didn’t name the youth, but said that a staff member was blinded and had her jaw broken in the assault. Katz said this youth would be appropriate for the locked program, which was the subject of opposition from advocates and some lawmakers. The allocation of $2.5 million was approved and the unit is now open on the campus of the former Riverview Hospital in Middletown.

A state source said that the blindness to which Katz referred was temporary, and that the worker’s sight has returned.

Advocates for children are questioning Katz’s decision to use the youth’s story to make her case for DCF’s locked treatment program, while pushing for the youth to be transferred out of DCF care and into an adult prison. DCF’s request for the transfer was filed in court on Feb. 4.

So now this child goes to the adult female prison – the only female prison, pending an evaluation. At which point, they might decide to send her to a men’s prison. Because, you know, that’s even better for this troubled kid.

This should come as no surprise, though, to people who follow the state juvenile and adult prison system. They’re quick to shove the problem off to someone else and the last thing you get in our locked facilities – be it for juveniles or adults – is the mental health treatment that so many desperately need.

Seeing is disbelieving: in spite of video edition

cafe-wall-line-illusion

This is not a trick question: what do you think has superior recall of the facts – your memory or a video of the incident?

No prizes for guessing correctly. But despite that, 5 judges in the State of Indiana went with their imaginations discretion in ruling [PDF] that a car had actually swerved into oncoming traffic despite the fact that it had not, and thus a police officer was justified in pulling the driver over for the horrifying crime of having a BAC level of 0.09.

Around 1:00 a.m. on October 15, 2011, Deputy Casey Claeys of the Elkhart County   Sheriff’s Department was following another vehicle down County Road 4. Deputy Claeys later   testified he saw the vehicle “drive off the right side, which was the south side of the road, twice.”

Okay, so that’s what the cop says. What does the video say?

[T]he trial court stated it “reviewed the video on approximately ten occasions and cannot conclude from the video that the defendant’s vehicle actually left the roadway . . . but it does show the vehicle veering on two occasions onto the white fog line.”

Are you laughing or crying? I can’t tell. I’m doing both. So the video doesn’t support the proposition that the car left the roadway. Remember the officer said that it had veered off the road. Veered. Off. The. Road. Meanwhile the video shows that maybe it touched the white line.

So how do you reconcile that? Magic and the power of being a judge:

The trial court noted, however, that it was “quite possible that the officer’s actual visual observation of the defendant’s vehicle was superior to the video camera in his car.”

Got it? The officer’s memory is that much better than a video recording of the event.

This is important because if the car hadn’t actually left the roadway or god forbid, veered across a line for a second, the officer wouldn’t have any reasonable suspicion to make a traffic stop, which led to the arrest.

They need some reason – a traffic violation, say – to pull you over. Then when they notice you making ‘furtive movements’ and describe your eyes as ‘glassy’, they can arrest you for being drunk.

But this? This really just obviates the need for recording, because if the video can be superseded by an obviously biased officer’s “recollection” of the incident, then they can claim that their recollection is that you were driving with your windows down, AK-47s blasting into the air while screaming “fuck tha police” and taking exaggerated swigs of Crystal while simultaneously pissing on a photo of George Washington and wiping your ass with the American flag.

That scenario is just about as absurd as what the judges ruled in this case.

But no, you keep believing in the system.

Update: Scott wrote about this earlier in the week.

Wednesday is link dump day

i-work-for-the-government

So much to read, so little time to write. So you get links that I didn’t have time to turn into posts.