Archive for the ‘Law’ Category

Time flies.

Friday, November 27th, 2015

Damn. It has been a year since that asshole tried to shoot up the police department and got center-punched for his trouble? Where does the time go?

One year later article from the Statesman, which has some details I either didn’t know or forgot.

Johnson turned protective. Still holding on tightly to the horses’ reins with his left hand, he pressed his chest against one of the garage’s concrete pillars and drew his weapon, the Police Department’s standard-issue Smith & Wesson M&P 40.

The bizarre nature of the incident and his incredible gunshot come up nearly every day. According to a ballistics investigation, the .40-caliber bullet fired from Johnson’s gun traveled 314 feet in less than a second. The bullet nicked the driver’s door frame of McQuilliams’ vehicle and continued tumbling sideways 5 more feet before it hit McQuilliams.

Yes. That was a 100 yard, one-handed shot with an M&P .40.

That was the only shot police fired that night.

It was also the decisive one.

I can’t find it online, and my memory is a little sketchy, but I’m reminded of an “Ayoob Files” from some years ago. Briefly: bad guy armed with a rifle is holding off cops (and kills one dead). Cops are only armed with handguns, and try to take the guy out, but he has them pinned down 80 to 100 yards away. My recollection of Ayoob’s account is that at least one of the responding officers tried making shots at that range with his duty gun; when the bad guy was finally taken down (as I recall, by someone who arrived on scene with a shotgun and hit him with a rifled slug), they found a fairly tight group of bullet holes…just above where the bad guy’s head would have been.

One of Ayoob’s points, which I thought was well taken was: maybe every once in a while you should try taking long range shots with your duty weapon, just so you have some idea of what it can do and where you might need to hold. Then again…

Johnson, 40, loves his unit and his job, a perfect fit for someone who had grown up riding horses on a ranch and practiced shooting with a .22-caliber rifle from his back porch.

…if you grew up shooting off the back porch, maybe you don’t need that advice.

(Also, Massad Ayoob, if you happen to be reading this: this incident, and Sgt. Johnson in particular, might make for a good “Ayoob Files” installment. Just saying.)

A small dose of the unusual for Black Friday.

Friday, November 27th, 2015

Just in case you’re stuck at work, or have decided to stay home and avoid the rush, here’s a couple of things you might find interesting:

1) Lawrence sent me this link the other day: Showmen’s Rest: Chicago’s Clown Graveyard.

The story behind this is that Showman’s Rest is where many of the dead from the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus train disaster were buried.

The Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus train disaster? Yes: on June 22, 1918, the train carrying the members of the circus was rammed by another train whose engineer had fallen asleep. 86 members of the circus were either killed outright or burned to death in the fire that resulted.

2) A retweet from Popehat led me to look up Count Dante, who I was previously unaware of. Count Dante was “The Deadliest Man Alive!” and the founder of the Black Dragon Fighting Society; he advertised heavily in comic books during the 1960s and 1970s.

Count Dante (really John Keehan; he changed his name in 1967 to “Count Jerjer Raphael Danté, explaining the name change by stating that his parents fled Spain during the Spanish Civil War, changed their names, and obscured their noble heritage in order to effectively hide in America.“) was one of Chicago’s leading martial artists during the 1960s.

He and a buddy were arrested in 1965 for trying to blow up a competing dojo. In 1970, he and some friends went to another competing dojo to “settle a beef with a member”: in the process, one man died.

In 1971 the judge in the case dismissed all charges but not before upbraiding both sides: “You’re each as guilty as the other,” Cooley recalls him bellowing.

Count Dante may also have been involved in a 1974 robbery of $4 million. He died in May of 1975 at the age of 36.

Chicago Reader article, “The Life and Death of the Deadliest Man Alive”. The article is tied to a documentary in progress, “The Search for Count Dante”: film website here.

Obit watch and random notes: November 24, 2015.

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

I’ve written previously about Ron Reynolds, a state representative and lawyer who was charged with barratry.

Well, it has been a while. The other seven people who were arrested with Rep. Reynolds took pleas, but Rep. Reynolds went to trial. And…?

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena!

The Fort Bend County Democrat was convicted Friday of five counts of illegally soliciting clients, or misdemeanor barratry. A six-person jury on Monday rejected his plea for probation, and instead sentenced him to 12 months behind bars and a fine of several thousand dollars.

I’ve also written about Kelly Thomas, who was beaten to death by the Fullerton PD. The city (meaning local taxpayers) is going to pay out $4.9 million to his family, in settlement of their wrongful death lawsuit.

Obit watch: noted elsewhere, but I did want to mention the passing of Ken Johnson, former player for the Houston Astros (and the Colt .45s, their predecessor), and the only pitcher ever to “complete a nine-inning game without yielding a hit and still manage to lose it.”

(Oddly enough, there’s a good explanation of how this happened in the FARK discussion thread.)

Also among the dead: Adele Mailer, Norman’s ex-wife and the woman he stabbed in a drunken rage.

Some guests recalled that the point of no return came when she told her husband that he was not as good as Dostoyevsky.


Thursday, November 12th, 2015

I wasn’t blogging the trial, nor was I following it very closely, but this is just too good to pass up:

Vincent Asaro, who was charged with helping plan the 1978 Lufthansa robbery at Kennedy International Airport along with other acts of racketeering and extortion that spanned much of his 80 years, was acquitted on all counts on Thursday.

That’s right. Aquitted.

But the jury rejected the prosecution’s case, dealing a stunning blow to the United States attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York.

Heh. Heh. Heh.

(You may remember the Lufthansa robbery from such movies as “Goodfellas”.)

Edited to add 11/13:

Flanked by his lawyers, Elizabeth Macedonio and Diane Ferrone, he fielded a flurry of questions from reporters, who asked what he was going to do (“play some paddleball”), where he was heading (“to have a good meal and see my family”) and what he was going to eat (“anything but a bologna sandwich”). Indeed, he appeared delighted by the commotion his acquittal had created. “John Gotti didn’t get this much attention,” he said of the Gambino boss, who was notoriously hard to convict.

I’m just going to leave this here…

Obit watch and other random notes: November 11, 2015.

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

Helmut Schmidt, former chancellor of West Germany.

Allen Toussaint, noted New Orleans musician.

In 1964, trumpet maestro Al Hirt covered Toussaint’s jaunty instrumental “Java,” which became a No. 1 hit. In 1965, Mr. Toussaint’s “Whipped Cream” not only became the title track on a Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass album, it later became the bachelorettes theme of the television game show “The Dating Game.”

Vito J. Lopez, former New York assemblyman who resigned due to a sexual harassment scandal.

Non-obit, but interesting:

The police in Northern Ireland arrested a 66-year-old man on Tuesday in connection with Bloody Sunday, the infamous massacre of unarmed civilian marchers by British soldiers in Londonderry on Jan. 30, 1972. It was the first time anyone has been arrested in the massacre, for which the British government formally apologized in 2010.

The individual is not named, but is described as a “former lance corporal”.

“Former fugitive fish smuggler pleads guilty, prosecutors say”. Somebody at the LAT was having a bit of fun…

Second day coverage of the Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow trial. Doesn’t seem like much here: one of “Shrimp Boy”‘s confederates claims he ordered a hit, but he never explicitly said anything beyond “take care of this”.

The patrol reached a small bridge over a canal and was approached by men on motorcycles coming from the opposite direction — possibly members of the Taliban. They began crossing the bridge but stopped partway and retreated in the opposite direction. The suicide bomber appeared on foot to the left of the patrol after coming out of a building. Groberg ran at him and threw him to the ground with the help of another soldier, Sgt. Andrew Mahoney, who would later receive the Silver Star for his valor.

Where do we get such men?

Well. Well well well. Well.

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

More from the HouChron on the “person of interest” in the Judge Kocurek case.


  • He was scheduled to go before the judge in December: prosecutors were looking to revoke his probation from a previous fraud case.
  • He’s been charged with a murder from May of this year.
  • He “has a long arrest record in Harris County but few convictions, court records show.”

Quick random notes: November 10, 2015.

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

Mike Thomas out as athletic director at Illinois.

The Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow trial stated yesterday.

On one occasion, Hasib said, Chow told an agent, who clandestinely tape-recorded his comments, “I don’t commit crimes myself, but I know a lot of people who do.”

More from the LAT.

My mother was complaining last night that the authorities were being awfully close-mouthed about the shooting of Judge Kocurek. I figured they were playing things close to the vest because the investigation was ongoing.

Well. Well well well. Well.

Austin police said Monday night that it is aware of the arrest in Houston of a person of interest in Kocurek’s shooting and that the person is being detained on unrelated charges, but declined to comment any further citing the ongoing investigation.

Note from the police blotter…

Sunday, November 8th, 2015

I’m sorry I didn’t make note of this yesterday, but I was running from sunrise to midnight: first, hanging out with family at WurstFest, then diiner with friends and hanging out watching creepy stuff.

(Seriouly. I like to think I have a high tolerance for creepy, but Island of Lost Souls got under my skin. I may have more to say about this later, but I do commend the Criterion blu-ray to your attention.)

Anyway, this is kind of a local story, but it may have broader implications: somebody tried to kill a local judge late Friday night.

The judge in question, Julie Kocurek, is a district judge and is heavily involved with criminal prosecutions:

… it was Kocurek who, in July, unsealed the 75-page search warrant affidavit that for the first time linked former Austin police officer VonTrey Clark to the conspiracy to kill Samantha Dean, an Austin-area crime victims counselor shot to death in February.

I’m not saying it was Clark or his buddies that were behind this, but the speculation is that this was some form of retaliation, and not just a robbery gone bad. She was with other people, and:

When she returned home, a bag of trash or a garbage can had been placed in front of the security gate into her driveway, requiring the driver of her car to stop the vehicle to remove it.

Judge Kocurek is currently in stable condition, according to reports. We hope she makes a full recovery, and we’ll be watching this story with great interest.

Random notes: November 1, 2015.

Sunday, November 1st, 2015

In case anyone was wondering, the hand surgery went about as well as I expected: in that, I lived through it and didn’t die on the table from a bad reaction to the anesthesia or something else. My left hand is still wrapped tightly, but I’m approaching maybe 1 1/3 hand functionality. At this point, I’m off painkillers and it really doesn’t bother me: the itching is more disturbing than anything else.


I’d managed to avoid breaking any bones or surgery requiring more than a local anesthetic for over 50 years. So much for that record.

I think what bothers me the most was the loss of continuity of consciousness, if that makes any sense. What I mean: one moment, they’re telling me that they’re going to put a sedative in my IV line. Next thing I know, they’re telling me the surgery is over and I’m okay. It just feels…weird, for reasons I can’t articulate. It’s not like going to sleep: it feels more like a gap during which I stopped processing memories. I need to think through this some more.


I haven’t seen this covered elsewhere yet, and I’d really like to see coverage in someplace I trust more than the WP, but: the FBI is switching back to the 9mm, and away from the .40.

The new 9mm round — known to gun aficionados as the 147 grain Speer Gold Dot G2 — is significantly more effective than what FBI agents carried into the field in 1986. According to Cook, the bullet has been rigorously tested and has received high marks in the FBI’s most important category for bullet selection: penetration.

This also means new pistols for the FBI, and that’s going to be a windfall for somebody. It also won’t shock me to see the current administration attempting to use the procurement process to advance their political goals…

“We are on a completely different program,” one senior HRT operator said, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the team’s arsenal.


Well, it’s official now…

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

…VonTrey Clark has officially been indicted on capital murder charges.

Obit watch: October 20, 2015.

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

Irwin Schiff, noted tax protester.

In essence, Mr. Schiff argued that the Constitution had established that the value of the dollar was based on a certain amount of gold or silver, and that after the so-called gold standard was phased out, starting during the Depression, citizens no longer earned dollars, or income.

His second basic argument was that since all information in a tax return can be used against the taxpayer in a criminal proceeding, filling out a return — he called it a “tax confession” — violated the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.

Mr. Schiff was serving a 14-year prison sentence when he died.

Pat Woodell, aka “Bobbie Jo Bradley” of “Petticoat Junction”.

Obit watch: October 14, 2015.

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

Robert Leuci.

I don’t think he ever reached the level of fame Frank Serpico did, but he was part of the same NYPD anti-corruption movement.

Of the 70 men assigned to the Special Investigating Unit of the Narcotics Division from 1968 to 1971, 52 were indicted as a result of evidence gathered by Mr. Leuci. Two committed suicide with their service revolvers. Two others, both 42, died of heart attacks after they were indicted. One went insane.