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Archive for the ‘Law Enforcement Abuses’ Category
Interesting free web browser that has several security features that help ensure privacy and eliminate the trail that shows where you’ve been and what you’ve been looking at on the web.
Given the government’s recent practice of searching laptop computers during customs screening, this might offer a degree of protection against federal agents who prefer to harass people for their web viewing habits rather than keeping the country safe from oh, you know, terrorists and shit.
Government motto: “We don’t need no stinkin’ reasonable suspicion.”
As I blogged about a few days ago, police in Pennsylvania have a habit of arresting people for using language in public that the state disapproves of.
The ACLU of PA filed a lawsuit against the state for what is apparently a very common activity on the part of cops who have issued 750 citations for profanity over a one year period.
“Police should be focused on protecting public safety, not enforcing manners,” said Marieke Tuthill, a legal fellow with the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “It may not be polite to swear at someone, but it’s certainly not a crime.”
Hereis what I find most disturbing:
The ACLU said that it has successfully defended about a dozen profanity-users, including one woman who was issued a citation after she was caught swearing — at her clogged toilet.
Government continues to violate people’s free speech rights ‘because they can‘. From the state’s perspective, there really is no down side. So, the case gets thrown out. So what?
What the court needs to do is impose a penalty against the actual people involved in this harassment. If a cop had to put up with the same inconvenience and hassle that he is imposing on those he’s citing for a non-crime, it would stop in a hurry. Unfortunately, cops are mostly immune from any penalty for harassment of citizens.
The ACLU, on behalf of Lona Scarpa, 35, filed a lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday against the state police, which charged her with disorderly conduct in October 2008. She was acquitted of the summary offense in January 2009.
According to the lawsuit, Scarpa and her friend were walking on Railroad Street, Mocanaqua, when a man on a motorcycle swerved close to her and shouted an insult on Oct. 9, 2008. Scarpa yelled back, calling the biker an “a******” three times, the lawsuit says.
Naturally, although the whole focus of the story centers on what the woman said, the news report censors the actual word. Americans are so used to being shielded from even the most mild distress that they don’t even blink at this kind of absurdity.
The suit says Edwards told Scarpa that if he cited the motorcyclist, he would have to issue her a citation because the motorcyclist claimed she yelled the obscenity three times.
Scarpa received the citation in the mail, hired an attorney and was found not guilty of disorderly conduct.
This, of course, goes back to the philosophy that the First Amendment has exceptions and those exceptions now encompass the mere expression of anger. That this doesn’t trigger outrage on the part of the public is stunning, but the fact that law enforcement, which is sworn to uphold the Constitution actually sees no conflict in what they are doing here.
Is this a freak case? Apparently not.
The ACLU submitted a Right-to-Know request for disorderly conduct citations issued by state police from September 2008 to September 2009.
Troopers issued more than 770 disorderly conduct citations in that span that did not meet the legal definition of obscenity, the ACLU says.
I’m pretty certain it is quite common for law enforcement to treat foul language as disorderly conduct. People who think government respects free speech except in extreme circumstances are not paying attention.
Carlos Alfredo Simon-Timmerman was arrested for possession of child pornography. The only problem was that it wasn’t child pornography and any cop or prosecutor with a double-digit IQ should have known that. Unfortunately, anti-sex crusaders have never been known for their intellectual prowess.
The child porn that Simon-Timmerman had in his possession was a video called “Little Lupe the Innocent; Don’t Be Fooled By Her Baby Face.” The movie stared noted film actress Lupe Fuentes.
Despite the fact that it would have been a simple matter to verify the age of the porn star, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jenifer Yois Hernandez-Vega proceeded to prosecute Simon-Timmerman based solely on the fact that the star looks under age. Yep, that’s correct. Prosecutor Hernandez-Vega apparently thinks that a guess based on nothing more than appearance trumps the actual fact of her age.
Reading through the story, it’s patently clear that the prosecutor was not the slightest bit interested in justice or the innocence of her target. She was totally vested in a conviction despite any facts and enthusiastically embarked on a crusade to destroy the life of Carlos Alfredo Simon-Timmerman using her powers as an agent of the government.
Rather than issuing a subpoena to verify the age of Ms. Lupes, AUSA Jenifer Yois Hernandez-Vega demanded that the adult porn actress personally appear in court. Ms. Lupes had to fly from Venezula to testify in Puerto Rico.
After hearing testimony and examining her passport, the trial court ordered the prosecutor to dismiss the charges.
Anyone with even a hint of humility would have questioned whether they exceeded their authority and backed off in order to avoid embarrassing themselves and their office, but federal prosecutor Hernandez-Vega persisted far beyond the limits of credibility to the point of malicious harassment, if not an outright assault disguised as due process.
And the ending is the saddest part of the:
Although the innocent man spent two months in jail before being able to make bail, Jenifer Yois Hernandez-Vega will not even be given a reprimand. She’ll continue in her unethical ways, and there’s nothing anyone will do to stop her.
As long as the public blindly encourages an aggressive steamroller approach to law enforcement, where career building completely overshadows even the pretense of justice, this kind of behavior on the part of prosecutors will continue. The American public has gone from erring on the side of innocence to wholesale incarceration and “letting god sort them out”.
Welcome to the Sex Hysteria Hall of Shame, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jenifer Yois Hernandez-Vega.
From the Cap Times in Madison Wisconsin:
James W. Smith is a criminal, but he has never been convicted of a sex crime. Yet type his name on the state’s sex offender registry and you’ll find his picture.
Yeah, well he was probably thinking about committing a sex crime, right?
In 2000, Smith forced a 17-year-old male to drive around with him in the Green Bay area to settle a drug debt. Smith was also 17 at the time.
So how did he get on the sex offender registry? Apparently he was originally charged with taking a hostage, which is not included on the sex offender registry, but pleaded to the lesser crime of false imprisonment which required him to register as a sex offender. Apparently Wisconsin considers false imprisonment a sex offense while takinig a hostage isn’t.
When Smith didn’t register as a sex offender (after all, he isn’t a sex offender), he got another year in prison.
Kalfka would smile at the Wisconsin justice system. There is no room for common sense when it comes to sex crimes (or non-sex crimes, as the case may be).
Phrenology was a 19th century pseudoscience that was used to determine a person’s character by examining the shape of their skull. Phrenology was thought by many to be a means by which a “criminal mind” could be identified. Phrenology was thrown in the dustbin by the end of the 19th century.
A new form of phrenology is making the headlines these days. Authorities are suggesting that on-line child predators might be identifiable by their typing technique. According to telegraph.co.uk:
Researchers believe technology could be used to determine a computer typist’s age, sex and culture within 10 keystrokes by monitoring their speed and rhythm.
Emphasis is mine. Ok, I’ll give you a moment to pick your jaw up off the floor, take a deep breath, and recovver your composure…
Mr Butler, who heads Newcastle University’s Cybercrime and Computer Security department, said: ”Roy’s research has the potential to be a fantastic tool to aid intelligence gathering for crime fighting agencies, in particular serious and organised crime and for those tracking down paedophiles.
”If children are talking to each other on Windows Live or MSN Messenger, we are looking at ways of providing the chat room moderators with the technology to be able to see whether an adult is on there by the way they type.”
Detecting the difference between the typing of an adult and a child might be plausible, right? But it gets worse:
He said: ”As part of a sexual offences prevention order, courts currently have the power to ban a sex offender from using a computer.”
”With this technology the courts could force the offender to provide an example of their typing as a way of ensuring they don’t use a computer.”
What is striking is the perspective by government that computer and internet access is still a purely recreational activity and that you can ban someone from using them like you can demand that someone stay sober or stay out of strip clubs. It’s indicative of an almost complete disconnect from reality. We are fast approaching the point at which computer access will be as vital to life as transportation.
In any case, the idea that they will use typing characteristics almost as if they were a fingerprint is disturbing, to say the least. Forensics is a haven for junk science and technology thought to be nearly infallible in the past is regularly uncovered as being far less reliable (but only after a lot of people are sent to prison).
Well, one out of two ain’t bad, right?
In many states, property seizures have become a significant revenue source. The theory is that property can be seized if it was used in the commission of crime, but seizures often occur where no crime took place. In Detroit for example…
As The News reported, in one instance, a Red Cross employee picking up a co-worker outside a Detroit bank had her vehicle grabbed by police because the co-worker had made eye contact with passing motorists, and so the cops assumed she was a prostitute.
Maybe I’m being overly critical, but if a cop thinks that eye contact with passing vehicles constitutes reason to suspect someone of prostitution, then he ought to be fired and have his face pasted on the front page of the newspaper over a caption that simply says: Idiot!
Officers admitted to The News that they had seized vehicles even when they were certain no crime had taken place.
I guess I’m old fashioned, because I would call that robbery, but since it’s cops taking the property and those cops are backed up by the power of the city government, it can’t be robbery, right? I mean if it were robbery, then that would imply that the city is operating kind of a big racket where they can screw people over with impunity. Surely that just isn’t possible in “the land of the free”….
But, really it’s not robbery, because the owner can get it back. They just have to pay a bunch of money and hire a lawyer and shit. Hardly any inconvenience at all, right?
Well, this has been going on for some time and cities have become quite addicted to that cash flow. What makes this particular article interesting, of course, is that a couple of sate lawmakers want to change things:
Fortunately, two Michigan lawmakers recognize the real abuses of civil seizures. State Rep. Gabe Leland, D-Detroit, has introduced a bill that would require police to charge an individual with a crime when property is seized, or return the property without cost.
I guess it remains to be seen whether the new law, assuming it passes, results in fewer seizures or more charges being filed.
And, yes. I did see the first line of the article which says: “Fighting prostitution and drug trafficking in our communities is a vital enterprise”. The author is clearly confused, because neither one of those is a vital enterprise. They are both essentially a jobs program for law enforcement.