Archive for the ‘Law’ Category

What does it take…

Friday, December 19th, 2014

…to lose your job as a cop?

If you’re the police chief in Phoenix, the answer is “insubordination”. Specifically, calling a press conference and demanding a new contract after the city manager said “Don’t DO that!” seems to be a sure way to get yourself terminated.

If you’re with the Austin Police Department, the answer is “running your mouth to a reporter”. Technically, Andrew Pietrowski “retired”, but it seems like his retirement was just ahead of “being canned by Art Acevedo”.

“Now, stop and think about this. I don’t care who you are. You think about the women’s movement today, [women say] ‘Oh, we want to go [into] combat,’ and then, ‘We want equal pay, and we want this.’ You want to go fight in combat and sit in a foxhole? You go right ahead, but a man can’t hit you in public here? Bulls–t! You act like a whore, you get treated like one!”

The way I read this, it wasn’t like Pietrowski was asked for his opinion; he just walked up to a reporter who was there for another reason and started spouting off.

The Taste of Schadenfreude.

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

From the Austin Chronicle‘s runoff endorsements for District 8:

In October, when we endorsed Scruggs, we noted his bulldog efforts to create a Demo­cratic outpost in Circle C, his attention to thorny issues like global warming and gun control, and his affable leadership style.

Ed Scruggs was also one of the people who lobbied the Travis County Commissioners not to renew the contract for gun shows at the Expo Center.

How did that work out for you, Ed?

ed

Oooooooh. Not so well.

By way of Overlawyered, here’s an Orange County Register article on the Costa Mesa PI case, which I wrote about a few days ago.

I was not aware that the law firm had shut down; that’s a good first start, but nothing in the article indicates that any of the lawyers involved have been forced to surrender their licenses.

Even after the phony DUI report, as the union attempted to distance itself form its former law firm – Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir – and the P.I.’s records show that money continued to flow from the union to the law firm to investigators.
The affidavit shows that even after the union said it fired its law firm, after word of the DUI setup got out, the union continued to pay its elevated retainer rate of $4,500 per quarter to the firm as late as January 2013. Lanzillo and Impola were paid by the law firm through January, as well.

Another thing I’m curious about: why does the Costa Mesa Police Department continue to exist? At this point, given that the department is clearly out of control to the point where they’re threatening politicians, wouldn’t it be better to disband them, fire everyone, and let the county sheriff’s department patrol Costa Mesa until they can build a new department from the ground up?

(Of course, this being California, many of the crooked cops from Costa Mesa will probably end up with jobs in the sheriff’s department or other cities in the area.)

Bad boys and losers: December 12, 2014.

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Woohoo!

Two private investigators accused of tailing an Orange County councilman with a GPS device and setting up another by calling in a false drunk driving report were charged Thursday with false imprisonment and conspiracy to commit a crime, the district attorney’s office said.

The PIs were working for a law firm that represented “more than 120 public safety unions”, including the Costa Mesa Police Association. I’m hoping that they roll, and that this ends with jail sentences and disbarment.

Philadelphia is currently 2-19. However, that might not be bad enough:

In two games on Friday, the four bottom-feeders of the [Atlantic] division will face off. The 4-20 Knicks will face the 7-13 Celtics, and the 2-19 76ers will face the 8-12 Nets. The good news is that the four teams, which enter with a combined record of 21-64, will by default improve their combined winning percentage. The bad news is that fans will be asked to watch games in which one could argue that no one is trying to win.

Has the NYPD been fabricating gun cases?

Each gun was found in a plastic bag or a handkerchief, with no traces of the suspect’s fingerprints. Prosecutors and the police did not mention a confidential informer until months after the arrests. None of the informers have come forward, even when defense lawyers and judges have requested they appear in court.

But what would be their motivation?

… a group of officers invents criminal informers, and may be motivated to make false arrests to help satisfy department goals or quotas. They also question whether the police are collecting the $1,000 rewards offered to informers from Operation Gun Stop, especially in cases where the informers never materialize.

NYPD officers faking information to collect money from Operation Gun Stop? That’s unheard of!

TMQ Watch: December 9, 2014.

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

For reasons we’re not clear on, Lawrence has been giving us a little bit of grief recently about why we continue to write the TMQ Watch. Frankly, we’ve been wondering that ourselves, and the best answer we can come up with is: “Got to. This America, man.”

But it does give us a little bit of pleasure to be able to cross the streams this week:

After the jump, this week’s TMQ…

(more…)

Obit watch: December 10, 2014.

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Dollree Mapp.

You may remember Ms. Mapp from the landmark court case, Mapp v. Ohio, in which the Supreme Court extended the exclusionary rule to the states.

I noted previously that Ms. Mapp apparently led a hard but interesting life:

Even though Ms. Mapp’s name is etched in legal history, she had lived quietly in recent years, and besides a brief notice on a funeral home website, it took more than a month for her death to be reported. She was believed to be 90 or 91 when she died on Oct. 31, in or near Conyers, Ga.

Her conviction in the Ohio case was overturned. She later moved to New York, where she was convicted of narcotics possession:

…she pursued a series of appeals, claiming that the search warrant used in her arrest had been wrongly issued and that the police had targeted her because of her role in Mapp v. Ohio.
The drugs seized in the case were found at an apartment that Mr. Lyons apparently rented from Ms. Mapp. She lived several miles away. The police searched her home and found rent receipts that prosecutors argued established her as having aided and abetted Mr. Lyons. The officer who had applied for the warrant to search Ms. Mapp’s home was later dismissed from the police force after he was determined to have accepted about $3,500 from a narcotics dealer.

She served 19 years in prison before the governor commuted her sentence.

Steve Adler.

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

We have our first response on the Art Acevedo question, from the Steve Adler campaign.

Since I didn’t state I would be publishing the replies here in my original email, I don’t feel comfortable doing so now. But I can summarize: as you might have guessed, it was the usual politician glurge.

  • The City Council doesn’t hire or fire the police chief, the city manager does. (Perhaps so, Steve, but if the city council says they want the chief gone, I’m pretty sure the city manager takes notice.)
  • Police officers need to be held accountable. (Also, apple pie and motherhood are good things.)
  • “…we need to work diligently to improvement relations between them and the public”.
  • Gratuitous Ferguson reference.
  • Steve Adler has spent much of his life fighting discrimination as a civil rights lawyer yadda yadda yadda.

Not very satisfying.

Random notes: December 9, 2014.

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

I’ve emailed the two candidates in my Austin council district and the two that are running for mayor, inquiring about their positions on Art Acevedo. So far, I have not received an answer from any of them.

As a Libertarian, I am generally opposed to foreign military intervention, absent a direct threat to the United States. I am not convinced that it is our job to impose democracy on foreign countries.

However, if we are going to overthrow a totalitarian regime and bring about democracy, can we start here?

Obit watch: Ernest Brace. He was a civilian pilot working for the CIA in Vietnam; in 1965 he was captured by the enemy and spent nearly eight years in North Vietnamese prisons. John McCain was in the cell next to him.

I sent this to Weer’d for the “Gun Death” files, but it seems worthy of note here: Japanese “Black Widow”.

According to the police and news media reports, Mr. Kakehi was just one of six outwardly healthy elderly men who died abruptly over the last eight years after marrying or starting romantic relationships with Ms. Kakehi.

Anyone want to guess what she didn’t use to (allegedly) kill these men? Anyone? Bueller?

Also among the dead: Nathaniel Branden, “writer Ayn Rand’s former devotee, lover and intellectual heir”. I know this is a few days old, but I’ve been waiting for an obituary to be published in a reputable source that I’m willing to link to. (Edited to add: NYT obit.)

Jonathan Yardley has retired from the WP. His last piece was published this past weekend.

I wanted to make note of his retirement here because I liked Yardley’s writing very much. In particular, he was responsible for one of my favorite things ever done by a book critic: “Second Reading”, where he went back and reconsidered books he’d previously read. And he wasn’t a snob: he’d go back and re-read a classic like “Gatsby”, but he also covered Hunter S. Thompson, John D. MacDonald, Josephine Tey, and Charles Willeford. There is a very good book, Second Reading, that collects about half of these columns; the other half are available in various places on the web, or you can search the WP website. (I think the Post’s tagging of Yardley’s columns is a bit inconsistent, though.)

God bless you, Mr. Yardley. May you enjoy your retirement. And if you’re reading this and happen to find someone whose work you enjoy as much as MacDonald’s, would you drop me a line?

We could fly a helicopter, nothing left to talk about.

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Hey, speaking of Chief Acevedo and the Austin Police Department, were you saying to yourself, “Self, I wonder if the APD got any of that sweet military surplus gear, like snow pants and snow shoes?”

The answer? $2,170,190.24 worth. Including a helicopter.

apd

Also, 13 “RIFLE,7.62 MILLIMETER”. Not that I’m complaining; I own one, so why shouldn’t the APD?

Also, this is just the Austin Police Department. The Austin Community College Police Department, which is a separate entity, got some stuff too. Nothing flashy, though. The Bastrop PD got $93,180.88 worth, including 10 “RIFLE,5.56 MILLIMETER”. The Buda PD numbers look a little odd: they are reported as getting 13 “RIFLE,5.56 MILLIMETER” with a total value of $1,560 (that’s $120 per rifle; you can’t even buy a Mosin-Nagant for $120 these days) and 3 “PISTOL,CALIBER .45,AUTOMATIC” valued at $176.13 (that’s $58.71 per; I’ll buy .45 automatic pistols at $58.71 all damn day. As long as they have a serviceable frame, I don’t care if they fire out of the box; they can be gunsmithed into working guns. It’d be a good learning experience.)

One more: the Lakeway PD got 30 of those “PISTOL,CALIBER .45,AUTOMATIC” (same price per as above) and two “RIFLE,7.62 MILLIMETER” ($138 per) for a total of $2,037.30.

And why does the Leander PD need a “MINE RESISTANT VEHICLE”?

If you’re wondering about your own municipal police department or other law enforcement agency, here’s the database I drew all this from (scroll to the bottom to search).

Hattip: Popehat on the Twitter.

(Subject line hattip.)

Art (Acevedo), damn it! watch. (#Q of a series)

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Lawrence sent me a link this morning with the subject “Just go to town on this”. I see that several other folks have already.

Here’s the Statesman version:

Acevedo asked the public to be alert and to keep their eyes peeled for people who are known to be well armed and espouse extremist beliefs.
“And that’s why it’s important for us as Americans to know our neighbors, know our families — tell somebody,” he said. “If you know somebody that is acting with a lot of hatred towards any particular group — especially if it’s somebody you know is a gun enthusiast or is armed with these type of firearms and they’re showing any kind of propensity for hatred — it doesn’t mean we’re going to take them to jail, but we might want to vet these people.”

Mmmmmmmhmmmm. I could point out that anyone who purchases their firearm from a licensed dealer (roughly 80% to 90% of transactions) has already been “vetted”. I could point out that Larry Steven McQuilliams also set several fires, and that a plastic container of gasoline can be more devastating than any assault weapon. I could ask what Chief Art means by a “propensity for hatred”, or how many officers he’s going to assign to vetting people. (Here’s a hint, Chief: you’re probably going to want to start by vetting every single employee of Dell. That may be a slight exaggeration, but when I worked there, pretty much everyone in Enterprise Technical Support owned serious firepower of one sort or another.) Or I could just quote Greg Campbell:

Our civil rights are not to blame for violence and we should not feel compelled to inform on our neighbors like a modern day Stasi.

If I really felt mean, I’d point out that you’re probably in more danger from the Austin PD than any “extremist”, especially if you’re black.

But let me single out one thing I haven’t seen anybody else jump on:

And on Monday at the same press conference, he urged for people to consider supporting laws that would make illegal “straw purchasers” that help put guns into the hands of criminals.

Wow. Just…wow. Dear Chief Acevedo:

“Straw purchases” are already illegal, you fucking moron.

Perhaps if you bought your own ammunition, you would have seen one of these posters at your local gun shop. Or WalMart. Or Academy. Or maybe you could listen to NPR.

But apparently our chief does none of these things.

The city council runoff elections are a few days away. I’m going to make a point of asking the candidates in my district if they support keeping Chief Acevedo in his position. And I plan to vote appropriately.

Random notes: December 3, 2014.

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

It is official: University of Alabama-Birmingham is shutting down the football program.

On the one hand, I feel a little sorry for the players and staff who are getting jammed up, especially since there’s a lot of speculation that the regents (including Bear Bryant’s son) have been out to screw UAB and the football program. On the other hand, I really want to see more schools shut down their football programs. If the NFL wants a minor league, let them start their own, instead of riding on the backs of universities. On the gripping hand:

UAB is also cutting its bowling and rifle programs.

They cut the rifle program?! Philistines! (“Don’t shoot my sacred cow!”)

This could turn into something interesting:

Criminal investigators with the U.S. Coast Guard are probing an elite group of Los Angeles firefighters at the city’s port to determine whether federal licensing records were falsified for crew members assigned to large fireboats, The Times has learned.

Well. Well well well. Well.

Monday, December 1st, 2014

As the threat of federal charges looms over eight former Fort Worth police officers accused in a traffic ticket scandal, a Tarrant County prosecutor revealed that state charges were dropped this year because evidence shows the city was using an illegal quota system.

….

The quota accusation was first raised in 2010 by an attorney for some of the fired officers when they appealed their terminations.
Lt. Paul Henderson, then [Police Chief Jeff] Halstead’s chief of staff, dismissed that accusation, saying, “The Fort Worth Police Department does not have ticket quotas.”
Henderson was later fired after his arrest on suspicion of DWI.

“There was never even an effort, however, to explain the supposed difference between ‘you write four tickets an hour or you don’t work STEP’ and a ‘quota,’ ” the attorneys wrote in their motion. “The illegal activity was, therefore, not only illegal and ongoing, there was a concerted, albeit sophomoric, effort on the part of the police department to disguise the illegal activity and to cover it up.”

In El Paso, 18 police officers were indicted in recent years after an investigation into similar reports that officers falsified documents to gain overtime pay through a state Transportation Department grant program.


Houston also had their own overtime scandal
, but I’m unclear if it also involved state grant money.

Hattip: Grits for Breakfast.

Here’s another one from over the weekend that also made my jaw drop:

In a shocking action, Judge Morrison C. England Jr. ordered the recusal of every federal judge in the Eastern District of California. (Emphasis added – DB)

What happened? Briefly, Sierra Pacific Industries and some other companies have been fighting the Justice Department for several years. Justice accused the defendants of causing a forest fire, and managed to get 22,500 acres of land transferred to the government, along with $55 million in payments over five years. Sierra Pacific and the other defendants argued that they didn’t start the fire, and that Justice…

“…presented false evidence to the Defendants and the Court; advanced arguments to the Court premised on that false evidence; or, for which material evidence had been withheld, and obtaining court rulings based thereon; prepared key Moonlight Fire investigators for depositions, and allowed them to repeatedly give false testimony about the most important aspects of their investigation; and failed to disclose the facts and circumstances associated with the Moonlight Fire lead investigator’s direct financial interest in the outcome of the investigation arising from an illegal bank account that has since been exposed and terminated.”

Hattip: Overlawyered.

Ripped from the police blotter.

Friday, November 28th, 2014

This is still a breaking news story, so details are sketchy. I note it here because…well, it is strange, and there may be some lessons to draw from it. Also, I’m not sure how much coverage it will get outside of Austin.

Early this morning (around 2 AM), somebody started driving around downtown Austin shooting at buildings. According to the Statesman, he shot at the Mexican consulate, the Federal courthouse, and APD headquarters.

He did not injure or kill anyone, as far as is currently known. The shooter was confronted at or near APD headquarters by the police and killed. There are rumors that he may have had an explosive device in his vehicle, and possibly one on his person, but these rumors are not confirmed.

Don’t know what to say about this, beyond: trouble can happen anywhere, and where and when you least expect it. I’ll add updates if I see anything substantial.

Edited to add: more from the HouChron, which claims “more than 100 rounds” were fired, and that the gunman tried to torch the Mexican Consulate.

I threw together a quick and dirty Google map, just to illustrate (for the benefit of my out of town readers) the locations in question.