Entries categorized "Scalia's New Police Professionalism"

Corrupt Cops and Prosecutors Lose Lawsuit Against John Grisham

A bunch of corrupt and/or incompetent police and prosecutors had an innocent man sent to prison to rot for over a decade.  John Grisham wrote a book about the police and prosecutors.  What do you suppose happened?

Did Scalia's new police professionals reflect on how they sent an innocent man to prison?  Did they seek to improve police procedures in light of their glaring error?  Hah!

Instead, they sued for intentional infliction of emotional distress.  You see, Grisham's book hurt their feelings.  To a bunch of narcissists, their hurt feelings matter more than the harm they cause others.  It's so bizarre to the few of us who are healthy.  To a narcissist, other people are props in their plays.  What happens to other people is only interesting insofar as it relates to the main event - who is always the narcissist.

Some dude went to prison for a decade, and instead of agonizing over their corruption and incompetence, they niggled over a narcissistic injury.  That's exactly how we'd expect them to behave.  It's good to see the bad guys lose again:

In 1988, Ronald Williamson and Dennis Fritz were wrongly convicted of the rape and murder of Debra Sue Carter. Both men were later exonerated after spending over a decade in jail. Their painful story caught the attention of renowned legal-fiction author John Grisham, who wrote a book about Williamson appropriately titled The Innocent Man. Fritz also wrote a book, Journey Toward Justice, detailing the horror of his years of unjust confinement.

Each of the plaintiffs in this case—Oklahoma District Attorney William Peterson; former Shawnee police officer Gary Rogers; and former Oklahoma state criminologist Melvin Hett—played a role in the investigation or prosecution and conviction of Williamson and Fritz. Neither The Innocent Man nor Journey Toward Justice paints the plaintiffs in a positive light.

Following the release of these books, plaintiffs filed suit in Oklahoma district court seeking relief for defamation, false light invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and civil conspiracy. They named Grisham, Fritz, anti-death penalty advocate Barry Scheck, and author Robert Mayer—along with their respective publishers—as defendants. The district court dismissed the suit for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Exercising jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we affirm.


Scalia's New Police Professionals Go "Rodney King" on Sick Motorist

Krout v. Sawdy, No. 08-2781 (8th Cir. Oct. 6, 2009) (here):  

Once [the motorist] was on the ground and no longer resisting, several patrons and employees of the Waffle House witnessed two officers assault him. Harriet Stone witnessed one officer knee Rylee in the lower back four to six times while he was not moving, and saw another officer punch Rylee five or six times in the mid-back area. Jeff Munhall saw one officer knee Rylee in the back while a second officer punched him in the head area – again while Rylee did not move or resist. At one point, Munhall saw the officer who was kneeing Rylee walk away, only to return moments later and continue kicking and hitting Rylee. Darlene Shoptaw, another Waffle House witness, saw one officer drop down on Rylee three or four times with his knees from a standing position, while the other officer struck him with his fist near the head area. She also saw “several” other police officers standing around, not doing or saying anything to stop the officers who were assaulting Rylee. Like Shoptaw, Crystal Jones saw one officer punch Rylee in the back while a second officer fell on him with his knees from a standing position “at least three or four times.” According to Jones, “between six and eight” total officers were there while the knee drops occurred.

Slip op. at *5.  The man died.  "The cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries with complications; the principal factor was a neck fracture and spinal cord injury."  Id. at *8.  The man had initially resisted arrest after becoming ill, and thus losing touch with reality.

The police officers who beat a handcuffed man for five minutes were referred to the United State Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division for prosecution.  I haven't been able to locate any media results announcing a prosecution.  I also ran a PACER Criminal search for "Lee Goemmer," "Todd Winesburg," "Keith Spears," "Terry Cobb," and "Bobby Stevens."  No indictments.

Based on my research, it appears that the police officers who beat a man to death did were never criminally charged.  If I am wrong, please correct me in the comments.  Even I am not jaded enough to believe that five officers whom eyewitnesses watched beat a man to death, escaped criminal charges.


Edward Locke, Jr. of Bella Villa: Profiling Scalia's New Police Professional

In Hudson v. Michigan, Justice Antonin Scalia argued that the exclusionary rule was unnecessary because of "[a]nother development over the past half-century that deters civil-rights violations," namely, "the increasing professionalism of police forces, including a new emphasis on internal police discipline."  The good folks of Bella Villa, Missouri missed that memo.

Edward Locke, Jr. is the police chief in a small Missouri town.  He recently had a close call with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. A split panel (2-1) allowed him to escape liability in a case where:

Chief Locke thrust his knee between [Diane's] legs, and while Diane was still leaning on the hood of the patrol car, Chief Locke began to paw and stroke her, beginning at Diane’s waist and moving down to her buttocks. Diane testified Chief Locke was “rubbing down [her] butt onto and around [her] inner/outer thighs, [and then] around the front.” Diane could hear Michael and Walkmaster yelling, but she told them, “I’ll take care of it. It will be okay.” Diane claims Chief Locke then slid his hands under her sweater and began “working his hands up from [her] waist up to [her] sides towards [her] breasts.”

Cook v. City of Bella, No. 08-2712 (8th Cir. Oct. 2, 2009). (This post explains why the Eighth Circuit should rehear Cook en banc.)  Cook v. City of Bella was not Chief Locke’s first run-in with the Eighth Circuit.  A couple of months before Cook, Locke was sued for sexual misconduct involving another woman:

At the police station, Locke interviewed Schmidt regarding her identity. This process included the completion of a booking sheet with information about the arrest and Schmidt’s identification. The booking sheet included a section for listing “scars/marks/tattoos/deformities.” In response to Locke’s inquiry about whether she had any scars, marks, tattoos or deformities, Schmidt indicated that she had a butterfly tattoo. The tattoo is approximately two inches long and is located approximately two inches from Schmidt’s hipbone. The tattoo was hidden by her clothing at the time ofher booking.

After Schmidt described her tattoo to Locke, he requested that she take a picture of the tattoo. When she asked why he needed a picture, he told her that it was for identification purposes. Locke provided Schmidt with a Polaroid camera and asked her to go into the bathroom to take a picture of the tattoo. When she returned with a photograph of her tattoo, Locke examined the picture and stated that it was not good enough. Locke indicated that he would need to take a better picture. Pursuant to Locke’s request, Schmidt unbuttoned her jeans partway and folded theminwards to permit him to take a photograph. He again rejected this photograph asbeing incomplete or otherwise unacceptable. To permit Locke to take an acceptable photograph, Schmidt further unbuttoned her jeans and folded them inwards again.Locke took a second photograph, which he apparently found to be acceptable.

Schmidt v. City of Bella Villa, 557 F.3d 564 (8th Cir. 2009). Does anyone want to bet where that second picture ended up – in the police file, or in Locke’s “stash”?  Locke is one busy police professional.

In Copeland v. Locke, No. 07-CV-2089 (E.D.Mo. 2009) (which is pending before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals!), Locke allegedly beat up and harassed a female motorist.  I've uploaded the Complaint from Copeland v. Locke here.

Someone within the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals must be wondering what is going on in Bella Villa.  Why hasn't the Department of Justice opened an investigation?  Why hasn't the city fired Locke?  

While the Eighth Circuit wonders what is wrong with Locke, I'm going to wonder how much more misconduct the Eighth Circuit is going to give Locke a pass on.  Some might suggest that the Eighth Circuit gave a bad man a pass because that is what the law required.  That argument lacks persuasive power since Schmidt was questionable under the law; and Cook is dead wrong as a matter of law.  


Scalia's New Police Professionalism: Two Counter-Memes

In Hudson v. Michigan, Justice Antonin Scalia argued that the exclusionary rule was unnecessary because of "[a]nother development over the past half-century that deters civil-rights violations," namely, "the increasing professionalism of police forces, including a new emphasis on internal police discipline."  Scalia wanted to start a meme: Police officers do not require judicial scrutiny because they are professionals.  There is a new police professionalism that did not exist decades ago.

Is Justice Scalia empirically correct?  Or does he just make stuff up?  Some of us think the latter, and thus two counter-memes have emerged.

Sarcatic, embittered, and unhelpful people will point to an example of police misconduct, saying: "Scalia's new professionalism!  Sha!  As if!"  See, e.g., this blog.

Civilized folks have started another counter-meme.  Scott Greenfield likes to say, "But For Video."  As an in-the-trenches lawyer, he sees judges credit incredible police testimony.  In criminal courts, judges accept a police officer's testimony as Gospel.  If a police offier testifies that up is down, then down is also up.  

But for the video contradicting a police officer's testimony, the judge would have believed the police officer.  Even to my tin ear, that has a nice sound to it.

Greenfield's meme is almost poetic:

But For the Video
A Judge Would Have 
Believed the Police Officer.
Another innocent man in jail.

Be sure to check out Greenfield's latest "But for Video" post.  Also, read Injustice Anywhere.  

Philadelphia Police Officer Caught on Tape Assaulting Woman

Alberto Lopez Sr. assaulted a woman. He then arrested her for assaulting a police officer.  At a preliminary hearing, he lied under oath.  The victim of police misconduct was ordered to stand trial.  Then this videotape surfaced.  

Philadelphia police officers asked the gas station owner to delete it.  He refused.  The woman was vindicated.  Philadelphia's legal system, however, remains under indictment.

Officer Lopez Sr. is still carrying a badge and gun.  Although he perjured himself, the District Attorney's office has declined to prosecute him.  Lopez Sr. remains armed and dangerous.  

The police officers who "asked" the gas station owner to delete the video also remain at large.  They have not and will not be prosecuted for obstruction of justice.  They have not and will not be punished by the Internal Affairs Department for committing police misconduct.

Here is the amazing video:

You may read more here.


Denver Police Star in Police Brutality Video: Are Judges Watching?

If you counsel criminal clients for even a week, you will hear two things repeatedly.  One is that, "The cops stole my drug money."  Two is that, "The cops beat me up.  I never resisted arrest."

It's easy to brush off these claims at first.  Clients say all sorts of implausible things.  But when you've heard the same descriptions over and over, you start to believe that there might be some truth to what you're hearing.

Unfortunately, judges do not have this perspective.  In a resisting arrest case, they will always side with the police.  Always.  Judges simply cannot comprehend that police would beat a person up for no reason, lie about it, and then charge the guy with resisting arrest.  Yet videos are appearing all over YouTube showing police behaving badly.  The most recent video (via) comes from Denver:

The Denver District Attorney's office has dropped its case against a man who was facing three years in prison for assault, after 9Wants to Know obtained and showed prosecutors a videotape of the man's arrest.

On the video, which was shot outside Coors Field on the home opener of the Colorado Rockies game on April 4, undercover Denver Police detectives hit, kick and choke John Heaney.

"They both unloaded on me and I started seeing stars and the whole thing was just bam, bam, bam after that," said Heaney. "Someone had a chokehold and they were all on top of me and I couldn't breathe and I thought I was going to die."

After three detectives had Heaney facedown on the ground with his hands behind his back, the video shows undercover Det. Michael Cordova pull Heaney's hair, lift up his head and slam it into the ground, breaking two of his teeth on the cement.

Heaney was charged with second-degree assault on a police officer and criminal mischief after one of the officer's sunglasses were broken during the arrest. The officers claim Heaney rode his bicycle through a red light at 20th and Blake Streets and then punched Cordova in the nose.

You can watch the video below:

Are judges watching these videos?  How many more videos will they need to see?


Salvatore Rivieri's History of Violence

Salvatore Rivieri is a police officer with the Baltimore Police Department.  He was put on paid administrative leave in February, after he was caught on video assaulting a 14-year old. 

Maybe that 14-year old was a disrespectful punk who deserved to be taught to show some respect?  That's a pretty revolting worldview, but it's one many people like Justice Antonin Scalia have.  Fair enough; let's move on.

What did the artist in this video do to deserve Officer Rivieri's wrath?

How many other people have Officer Rivieri abused throughout his 17-year career?  How many of those outbursts were not caught on video?