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DO I HAVE A CASE?

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On a Monday

I write this on Sunday afternoon from Baltimore. Friday night I traveled to DC for the Washington Wizards basketball game.  The game was so exciting that even the scoreboard operator must have been so effected by the win that he forgot how to spell “Wizards”

Wizards Win

Saturday morning it was on to Baltimore. Peaceful  demonstrations over a man who had been killed two weeks earlier by police, turned to riots. There are still many unanswered questions and even missing security camera footage, according to the Baltimore Sun.  Outside the hotel door I took this picture as I listened to sirens and loud noise.

Baltimore Riot

Last night’s Orioles’ game was interrupted by the public address announcer in the ninth inning. He reportedly advised everyone in the stadium to stay in the stadium while the police outside donned riot gear in an attempt to break up the gathering crowd.

I will be back at the Washington tonight for the Wizards playoff game. These events reminded me that even though I get emotionally involved as a fan, it really is insignificant in the big picture.  Seeing anxiety in the faces of some Baltimore residents at the hotel was a much different emotion than the expressions at the basketball game.

The Butterball Operation

This blog combines a real turkey story with my Thanksgiving blog. First, the “Butterball operation”.

According to the LasVegas Review-Journal, drivers have been regularly violating crosswalk laws. So, the police decided to do something about it. They dressed up as turkeys.

Butterball

These officers assumed that it wouldn’t be difficult for motorist to spot a life-size turkey in the crosswalk. Officers decided to make a last effort of safety because of the amount of fatalities that had occurred at this same intersection.

Apparently, it did get some attention. Still, the officers found that some motorist still ignored giant turkeys in the crosswalk. They were cited and now face $191 fines for failure to stop. Officers hope that the action and the story will have long-term safety effects. No word on whether this turkey safety measure is moving to other crosswalks. Still, a good turkey news story.

DID YOU KNOW that every year the President pardons a turkey. That tradition started with President Abraham Lincoln. Initially, the South viewed Thanksgiving as a “Yankee Holiday” and did not celebrate it until after the Civil War. Thankfully, the South did join in, because they contributed Pecan Pie and sweet potatoes!

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I so enjoy this time of year. I will be back on Monday.

thanks

Case Investigation Puzzle

The  Friday/weekend blog usually takes us to the week’s collection of stuff. I went to the cupboard of accumulated news and ended up elsewhere.

This week I could have written about Governor “Rolex Bob” McDonnell or Tan Mom’s Rehab. Of course, those seemed even more confusing than the Puppy-brother” commercial.  Yes, it is quite the cupboard of stuff.

I did find the “Droopy Pants Robber” as almost blog-worthy. But, how many lines can you write about someone who gets caught because of flashy underwear.

The Queen is getting a raise. (CNN) Her salary increase will be about 5.2%, which means that she will earn the equivalent of about 60 million U.S. dollars. Now that is certainly blog-worthy. Still, that’s all there is to the story and you know by now, I just enjoy the journey of writing!

No, I thought I would finish the blog with a story from inside the office this week. You be the judge.

Briefly on the facts. The prospective client initially called and said that he had been hit by a car, while standing in the middle of the road.  The fact pattern was a bit unclear in the description; so we secured the accident report to see what the police officer had reported.

On the accident report, the officer did not find anyone at fault. He issued no tickets.  He did note that the car had clipped the pedestrian (our prospective client) while the pedestrian was walking and talking on his cell phone.

I don’t think that I need to “toot my own horn” to suggest that something was not adding up.

Toot

(OK, it’s true, I was trying to figure out a way to sneak this picture in the blog!)

We decided to look for the witnesses. We found some, who said that our client was in the middle turning lane. It’s that lane on some roads where cars traveling from either direction can turn left or right.

No one had seen our client on a cell phone and there was no indication that, upon impact, a cell phone landed anywhere in the road. Isn’t that what you would expect?

We are ordering copies of his phone records to further clarify the “cell phone issue”  and compare calls to the time of the accident.

Sometimes, you just have to raise your hand and ask for help!

Frog Fries

Now the strange part. The witnesses that were interviewed claimed that they saw the man get hit when the car swerved in and out of his lane. They rushed to help him. They are black, just like the pedestrian. According to them, the police officer initially came up to them with his gun drawn, as he approached the group surrounding the man on the ground.

The driver  of the car is white. We have been unable to speak to him.

Right now, it is still unclear as to the exact place of where the car hit him. It is uncontradicted that the pedestrian was hit by the car mirror. To date, we have not spoken to the officer, but hope to.

What is certain is that the pedestrian is hurt. We are now representing him. It’s why you have to invest in investigation. Somewhere, the truth can be found.

And for pic o’ day, someone else taking a good look!

meet again

Oregon Troopers Use Facebook

    “In a relationship” is now a new investigative tool in Oregon. (KATU) Oregon State Troopers had stopped a man on Interstate 5, near Lake Osweko. As soon as he passed his ID through the window, the Troopers became skeptical. The picture did not match the driver.  Then, the man said that he did not have documentation for the car because it belonged to his fiance’. More skepticism. The man then gave the Trooper the name of his fiance’. 

     The Trooper then walked back to his patrol car and performed some unique search capability for his Sunday afternoon traffic stop. The trooper decided to pull up the woman’s name on Facebook on the patrol car’s laptop. The woman listed herself as being in a relationship with Kerry Prowse. The original ID did not match the driver but the photo of Kerry Prowse on Facebook did.

     The Trooper then questioned the driver, who finally admitted that he was Prowse; a wanted fugitive from Portland. Prowse was wanted on a parole violation. His arrest resume included an arrest on suspicion of a felon in possession of a firearm, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and unlawful possession of methamphetamine. Prowse was also cited for DUI drugs and misdemeanor driving,  while suspended. Not surprisingly, the Trooper took him back to the station. No word on whether that woman’s Facebook status has now been changed to “still searching”.

      Just like pic o’ day, everyone is now using the computer for everything!

Dog typing

City Attorney Pocket Change?

Do you remember the infamous song, “Pants on the Ground” from American Idol? Well, according to this news story from the Times-Picayune is a charge of “joint on the ground”.

Assistant New Orleans city attorney, Jason Cantrell, was chatting with a police officer while at the Orleans Parish Magistrate Court. All of a sudden, a marijuana cigarette fell out of his pocket and began rolling on the floor. Two police officers looked down at it and then charged him with simple marijuana possession. They called it easy police work.

Once charged, Cantrell resigned his position. His wife happens to be running for a city council seat. She came out with a statement to assure everyone that she was going to continue to run but ask that “the public respect our privacy in this very personal family matter”.

I never understand that statement. You see it with just about every news story. “Man caught stealing cough drops from zoo giraffe. Family asks that the public respect their privacy”.  OK… that might be a bit of fiction right there.

There were plenty of curious comments after the story posted above. Inexplicably, some were attacks on his wife. One said that this should be considered a personal issue but that he should have also used better sense. The poster said, “It’s like bringing an ice cold beer to court. Leave those things at home and have some decency”.  Another poster suggested that this story shows the need that all politicians should regularly be drug tested. Guess we should never let logic get in the way of a good news story!

For pic o’ day, I thought I would post the first one for pumpkin carving. Dog and cat pumpkin carving?

Guilty by a Nose

In horse racing, you regularly hear the expression that the “horse won by a nose”. Have you ever heard of a criminal defendant who tried to get a drug charge dismissed because of a nose? That’s the story of the case styled United States v. Greene.

One morning in March, a state trooper in Roanoke activated his lights to stop a car that was traveling with excessively tinted windows and a partially obscured license plate. The patrol car camera fully documented the traffic stop.

After the car had stopped, the trooper contacted his partner to assist by bringing their drug dog to the scene. During a “free air sniff”, the dog alerted the troopers to the rear passenger panel. A search revealed a duffle bag that contained over a kilogram of cocaine and $7,000. Based on that stop and find, a grand jury indicted the driver for possession with intent to distribute.

The defendant’s attorney initially moved to suppress the drugs and cash from introduction into evidence, based on a challenge of the traffic stop. The Judge ruled against that argument of suppression and determined that the basis for the inital traffic stop was reasonable.

At the next hearing, a second defense attorney now retained, filed a motion to challenge the reliability of the dog. The two troopers testified about the dog’s training, years of experience and his annual certification. In addition, they testified that in field training, the dog had been 100% accurate.

The evidence did show that, in the field, the dog had missed detecting marijuana once and had registered 44 out of 45 in alerting to narcotics. Yes… he missed once.

Based on prior caselaw in the Federal 4th Circuit (US v. Wu), the Court ruled that it was not persuaded by the controlled environment trooper training of the dog; but did believe that the field performance rendered the dog’s reliability within “fair probability”.  That opinion came out on June 28, 2012 which means that the case now proceeds with that evidence.

As a sidenote, I did smell popcorn in the office the other day… but I digress.

For pic o’ day, I thought I’d go with a cat who just got caught:

Have You Seen Oklahoma Man?

 

In a 1939 speech, Winston Churchill addressed a question about the future of Russia’s actions in World War II by saying, “I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”.

This blog subject made me remember that quote. The following is an announcement that has been issued by the Oklahoma Police Department.

 

 

Oklahoma City Police and the Oklahoma State Medical Examiner’s Office are asking for the public’s help identifying a man that died 31 years ago.  On February 18th, 1981, the body of a black male was found in the 100 block of N. Bath in NE Oklahoma City.  His death was not ruled a homicide.  We are simply trying to identify the man.

Harvey Pratt with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has come up with a reconstruction of what this man may have looked like.  Anyone with information should contact the medical examiner’s office 405-239-7141.”

I find this announcement fascinating. There seems to be no real explanation for the announcement. Why now? The Police admit that it was not a homicide. Plus, why would they recreate something like this? Seriously… what is this? I know, it’ s styrofoam and hair made from old polyester pants. Are they trying to be funny with the police T-shirt? I guess my blog is a big question mark today.

This makes you wonder why someone is getting serious about this now… after 31 years. So, for pic o’ day I couldn’t decide whether to go with questioning skills of notice

 

Or, has anyone seen a lost cat who might be in disguise?

 

Where’s the Brownie Evidence?

I know that police get criticized for hanging out at the donut shops. The following involves police officers who had different eats on the mind.   This story comes from the “these aren’t your mother’s brownies” file.

Police went to an apartment complex after someone had called to report that they smelled drugs. When the police got there, they also found brownies and quizzed the occupants on “let me guess what’s in these”. The three police officers then proceeded to eat some of the brownies.

The occupants then complained that the police had eaten “their pot brownies”. The policemen probably could have denied as “their word against a bunch of 19-year-olds”. However, after eating the brownies, the police went back to their car computers and posted messages that included the following:

“So high. Spaced out : h i g h”. Another policeman typed, “So high, good munchies”.  The reply was, “Everything should be open when we get done”.  They obviously were not thinking or they would have remembered that the department keeps all messages that are typed between police cars.

The drug possession charges against the teenagers still stand. The police officers potentially face charges of destroying (eating) evidence. I guess it takes “Protect and Serve” to a different level; Didn’t protect the evidence; Served each other the brownies.   Instead, they should have said, “Put down the brownies and step away from the tray.”

And now, Pic o’ day.

“Leave Me Alone”

     My store distractions include Staples and Office Max. I like to wander the aisles to see the new stuff in office products. That includes new things for the cubicle.

     Since the invention of the cubicle, there have been inventions for the cubicle, to create more privacy. Those include cubicle curtains and cubicle screens. Most workplaces don’t allow those. It kinda defeats the open door policy.

     The above cubicle invention did grab my attention. It’s like a police crime scene divider. Apparently, you can get all kind of messages that include “Gone to lunch”; the obligatory “please do not disturb” that you see above’ and even “gone on vacation”.

     I saw a news story of a Utah man that was basically trying to put up a divider between him and the police, that were chasing him. He just wanted them to stop chasing him, so he called the 911 dispatcher.

     Police initially thought that they were on a routine traffic stop. A driver went through radar at about 15 miles above the speed limit. When they put the siren on, they soon learned that he had no intention of stopping.

     A short time later, the dispatcher reported to the deputy that she had just received a call from the man who had said, “he was not going to stop, and to leave him alone”.

     Deputies put up some tire spikes down the road,  ahead of the driver. Just before going over the spikes, he agreed to stop and was taken into custody. He said that he was just having problems with his girlfriend “and was having a bad morning”.

     I guess we can put up ignore or “leave me alone” signs. It just doesn’t mean that they always work. Especially when we see the flashing lights in the rear view mirror.

     And now some mustard and ketchup for pic o’ day.       

 

Freedom in/of Public for Public

     A few days ago, I did a blog on the Freedom of Information Act. This follow-up blog relates to the freedom of you to personally get information, when in the public. Even when taping police officers.

      I found this article from Gizmoto.com which does a good job summarizing the Glik case involving the bystander who filmed the police, while they were arresting another individual.

     The police then arrested the bystander/cameraman for his taping. I guess police are a bit edgy about being taped. Remember  the video of the Rodney King arrest? Well, the Court said that you can, and do have the absolute freedom to tape, when you are in a public place.

     The short version is that cameras in public, have freedom to video the public. Everyone with a Smart phone, is recognized by the Court as  having a “Freedom to tape phone” . If you want a bit of the legalese, then here are the quoted words of the Court’s opinion:

“[I]s there a constitutionally protected right to videotape police carrying out their duties in public? Basic First Amendment principles, along with case law from this and other circuits, answer that question unambiguously in the affirmative.”
“Glik filmed the defendant police officers in the Boston Common, the oldest city park in the United States and the apotheosis of a public forum. In such traditional public spaces, the rights of the state to limit the exercise of First Amendment activity are ‘sharply circumscribed.'”
“[A] citizen’s right to film government officials, including law enforcement officers, in the discharge of their duties in a public space is a basic, vital, and well-established liberty safeguarded by the First Amendment.”
“Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting ‘the free discussion of governmental affairs.’

Now pic o’ day to help muscle up!

 

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