Tag Archives: appeal

Kirstin Blaise Lobato Freed After 15 Years in Prison for Las Vegas Murder Prosecutors Knew She Couldn’t Have Committed

Wrongful Murder Conviction Overturned Kirstin Blaise Lobato

In spite of evidence of her innocence, the Clark County DA’s Office did everything they could to prevent Kirstin Blaise Lobato from being freed after over 15 years in prison for a murder she didn’t commit.

After spending her entire adult life in prison for a murder she didn’t commit, a Las Vegas woman has finally been released. Kristin Blaise Lobato spent over 15 years behind bars in spite of evidence that she was over 150 miles away at the time the killing took place. However, she was finally able to walk out of the Clark County Detention Center a free woman for the first time since she was 18 years old on January 3rd.

Meanwhile, even after a judge had declared her innocent and ordered her release, prosecutors with the Clark County District Attorney’s Office refused to acknowledge the improprieties carried out during her trial(s). In fact, they even briefly had plans to force her to spend another year in the county jail for having been caught having sex with another inmate during the time that she was wrongfully imprisoned.

Fortunately, Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez also dismissed that case, instead ruling that the time she had already spent in prison for a crime she didn’t commit was sufficient punishment for that as well and giving her credit for time served. Judge Gonzalez then ordered that Lobato be released from custody immediately.

Note: If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

District Attorney Steve Wolfson and Chief Deputy District Attorney Sandra DiGiacomo have attempted to justify their efforts to keep an innocent woman in prison by contending that the fact she was found guilty at trial by two juries means she is. However, the case against Lobato was very much flawed from the start and those verdicts were more a product of what was kept from the juries than the strength of the evidence actually presented to them.

Kirstin Blaise Lobato Released From Prison

There was virtually no physical evidence tying Lobato to the murder of Duran Bailey, a homeless man who was found beaten to death and castrated in a Downtown Las Vegas dumpster in 2001. The only real justification for her to even be a suspect was a story that she told to several people that she had fended off a rape attempt by cutting her attacker’s penis with a knife.

She had told that story weeks prior to the murder, though, and had identified the location where that incident happened as a different area of town. In spite of that, police investigators characterized her description of stabbing a man attempting to sexually assault her in the groin during an interrogation as a confession of Bailey’s murder.

More importantly, Lobato was positively verified to have been at her parents’ house in Panaca, Nevada, nearly 200 miles from Las Vegas on July 8, when Bailey was murdered. Based on that and other inconsistencies in the physical evidence, experts brought in by her defense attorneys testified that it would have been impossible for her to have carried out the murder.

However, that testimony was suppressed by Judge Valorie Vega during the original trial. Meanwhile, the prosecution was allowed to present a expert witnesses that made the ridiculous claim that flies in Las Vegas act completely different than flies anywhere else in the world do.

In addition, the district attorney’s office actively fought to prevent additional DNA testing on the physical evidence recovered at the scene, even after the Innocence Project offered to pay any costs involved. All previous DNA testing had excluded Lobato and, due to the violent method of Bailey’s death, it’s unlikely the person who murdered him could have done so without leaving their own DNA behind (such evidence from an unknown source was in fact found).

Of course, if Lobato was guilty those tests would more than likely definitively prove she was present at the crime scene. So realistically the district attorneys should have had their own incentive to cooperate with the DNA tests.

Regardless of that, Judge Vega ruled against allowing the testing. Shortly after, Vega chose not to run for reelection following an (unrelated) official reprimand against her by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline. In what’s probably not a coincidence, almost exactly three years after Judge Vega left the bench Kristin Blaise Lobato walked out of the front door of the Clark County Detention Center.

Background on the Case and False Convictions

Not Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson and his underlings at the DA’s office have gone to great lengths to keep someone who was obviously innocent in prison. Not too long ago, I reported on the case of Demarlo Berry, who was falsely convicted of murder based on testimony from a witness that was coached and paid off by detectives from the LVMPD.

Not only were the prosecutors in the case complicit in manufacturing evidence against Berry, they also delayed his release for four years after that witness recanted his testimony and the real murderer had confessed. Then, once they finally realized that they couldn’t prevent his release, they portrayed it as if they were responsible for freeing him.

In another case, Fred Steese was issued a pardon last month in order to clear his record of a murder he was falsely convicted of and spent twenty-one years in prison for after he was beaten and coerced into confessing. Prosecutors also hid evidence that definitively proved he was in another state at the time and photo lineup results that pointed to his innocence.

Instead of releasing him after he was declared “actually innocent” by a judge, they threatened to refile the charges and drag out the process coercing Steese into accepting a plea deal for second degree murder to ensure he wouldn’t have to stay in prison for years while fighting those new charges.

Numerous other convictions in Clark County have been overturned recently, including several death penalty cases, due to racial discrimination by prosecutors during jury selection. Obviously, for Wolfson and his prosecutors the important issue isn’t guilt or innocence, but rather simply whether they can get a conviction, even if it they know it’s a false conviction.

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Severe Flaws in “Justice System” Highlighted by Disciplinary Hearing of Former Wake County NC Prosecutor

Wake County Prosecutor Colleen Janssen Corruption

Deliberate misconduct by prosecutor Colleen Janssen led to two men being falsely convicted, but she essentially received no discipline for it.

The following post was shared with Nevada Cop Block by Lynne Blanchard, via the NVCopBlock.org Submissions Page. This is a repost from Blanchard’s own blog, “Stop Wrongful Convictions,” which was originally published under the title “Disciplinary Outcome of Former Wake County Prosecutor Highlights Severe Flaws in Our Justice System.

Along with the submission, Blanchard stated:

I mostly cover wrongful conviction cases which usually contain some level of police corruption/misconduct, but I like to expose all official misconduct.

Thanks,
Lynne

March, 2017

This week, former Wake County prosecutor, Colleen Janssen learned the outcome of the disciplinary hearing to review the level of her misconduct in a criminal case. Though she deliberately withheld critical evidence from the defense and manipulated others to go along with her scheme to hide exculpatory evidence, she did not even lose her law license for a day. Instead, Judge Donald Stephens ruled that she could not practice law with a government agency for a period of two years. This means she can be begin working as a prosecutor again in two years and do private practice until that time. What a punishment for maliciously prosecuting two men — who landed in prison for over two years until her actions were discovered!

I will describe Janssen’s egregious actions in detail, but she was not the only one who participated in the willful act to hide exculpatory information from the defense. She actually had a lot of help from other public officials — which should place all Wake County cases under scrutiny. How often does this type of thing happen? Why is no one held accountable? Why are these people above the law?

2016

Colleen Janssen was asked to resign from her position with the Wake County District Attorney’s office in June, 2016 following the revelation that she withheld critical information in an armed robbery case against Bashiri Sandy and Henry Supris in the fall of 2014. It was an obvious and deliberate Brady violation that prevented the accused from receiving a fair trial. The North Carolina Court of Appeal agreed and reversed the convictions of Sandy and Supris. District Attorney, Lorrin Freeman later dropped the charges against them.

They withheld evidence — the fact that Janssen’s star witness, Marcus Smith was a drug dealer — was the foundation of the entire defense case. This fact supported the story of the accused to such a degree that there could have been no trial without it.

Background

Sandy and Supris told police that they confronted Smith to collect money or drugs because Smith had been shorting them on marijuana purchases. Smith gave them money and jewelry, and then gunshots were exchanged. Smith shot Sandy in the leg. Smith sustained a gunshot wound to the arm. It is unclear who fired that shot, but it is not relevant to this article.

Smith told police that he was a victim of an armed robbery. The State accepted his story, ignoring the statements by Sandy and Supris — that it was a confrontation about a drug deal.

Sandy told Raleigh Police that Smith was a big-time drug dealer. That resulted in police requesting permission from a judge to place a GPS device on Smith’s car.

Smith’s Impending Charges

Janssen continued building her case against Sandy and Supris despite knowledge that Raleigh police were pursuing her “victim” (star witness) in the “armed robbery” case. In the summer of 2013, Janssen contacted detective Battle via a private email address and asked to meet with him. She asked him to hold off on arresting Smith until after her trial because she allegedly didn’t want to “spook” her witness. Never mind that the impending arrest of the witness/drug dealer should have negated the whole need for any trial since it supported the defendants’ stories, not the state’s case.

Raleigh Police complicit in misconduct

Officer Battle agreed to delay Smith’s arrest. Since police had been watching Smith, they learned the location of his stash house. Upon discovery of this information, Battle gave Janssen a “heads-up” about the probable cause and search warrant of Smith’s drug house. He clearly informed her that Smith would not be named in the search warrant and he would wait until he left the premise to search the property, thus avoiding the need to arrest Smith at that time, since it could jeopardize Janssen’s case! Never mind that taxpayers trust that police will make the appropriate arrests at the time of the known crimes! In fact, over five-hundred pounds of marijuana were found in the stash house. Battle’s cooperation gave Janssen the ability to conceal the fact that her star witness was a drug king-pin at trial!

Impending Federal Charges

Due to the amount of drugs found, this became a federal case. Laurence Cameron with the U.S. Attorney’s office would be handling the case. He became aware of the fact that Raleigh police held off on making the arrest per Janssen’s request. As a former assistant D.A. with Wake County himself, he knew Janssen and contacted her to discuss the status of Smith’s impending charges. According to Cameron, Janssen did not want to hear anything about it. Deliberate denial would prevent her from violating discovery rules, and she was fine with that. Prior to that particular call, she had in fact asked Cameron not to arrest Smith until after her trial.

Cameron was concerned enough that he got his supervisor, the U.S. Attorney involved. John Bruce contacted Howard Cummings — Wake County’s First Assistant District Attorney and Janssen’s supervisor. He informed Cummings that he had received information that Raleigh Police were holding off on making an arrest at Janssen’s request. Cummings told Bruce he would “take care of it.”

ADA Cummings testified at the disciplinary hearing that he had a discussion with Janssen and that she informed him that the search of the stash house yielded nothing that could be traced back to Smith, and that his name was not on a single search warrant. That was the end of it. Cummings testified that nothing was discoverable. It’s likely Cummings and Janssen believed the truth would never be revealed . . . and it wouldn’t have been if not for the federal case. It’s extremely bothersome that Cummings was willing to look the other way, despite being contacted by the US Attorney and informed that a fellow ADA deliberately told police to hold off on an arrest. Why did he allow the trial to proceed? Why didn’t he intervene? It is the “win at all cost” mentality of so many prosecutors. Truth doesn’t matter.

Trial of Sandy and Supris

Judicial Misconduct

Just weeks before the trial was scheduled to begin, Detective Battle sent Judge Ridgeway an application for a GPS monitor on Marcus Smith in connection to his drug trafficking, and he signed it. It was also sealed. Since Ridgeway was the trial judge, he became aware of information that impeached the state’s star witness — the mere fact that the witness was being investigated for drug trafficking. This placed the judge in a difficult predicament and also further lessened the defendants’ right to a fair trial.

From the appeal document (pg. 29-30):

On October 21, 2014, one week before trial, Judge Ridgeway considered Raleigh Police Department narcotics detective J.A. Battle’s application to surreptitiously place and monitor a G.P.S. tracking device on a car used by Marcus Smith and belonging to his live-in girlfriend. The application stated that a confidential informant alleged Smith “sells large quantities of marijuana,” and that “the most recent report was made in April 2013 when robbery suspect Barshiri Sandy told the police Marcus Smith was a known drug dealer with over 1 million dollars in product in a stash house. On this basis, Detective Battle stated, “It is believed that a GPS unit attached to Marcus Smith’s vehicle will provide relevant information regarding where Mr. Smith stores illegal drugs.”

In fact, the GPS tracking authorization had already enabled Detective Battle to locate and seize 150 pounds of marijuana from Smith’s “stash house” in August of 2014. Marcus Smith himself had been seen at the stash house before the seizure. On the basis of Detective Battle’s affidavit, Judge Ridgeway signed the authorization, finding there was “probable cause to believe that . . . the placement, monitoring of and records obtained from the electronic tracking device are relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation. Judge Ridgeway also ordered the application and order to be placed under seal.

None of the information was provided to the defense. The judge should have either unsealed the record OR recused himself from the case. He did neither and presided over the trial.

Prosecutorial Misconduct

The star witness perjured himself as he testified that he hadn’t sold drugs since 2005. The prosecutor knew it. The defense suspected he was lying but had no proof, even though it existed. The judge also knew the witness was lying.

Colleen Janssen was brazen enough to discredit the defense’s attempts to show that Smith was a drug dealer. This was her statement during closing arguments:

There has been absolutely no evidence from the witness stand outside of the defendants’ testimony that this has anything to do with drugs. Nothing that the police found, nothing that Marcus said. The defendants are the only people who’ve been talking about drugs, outside of that small amount of marijuana that Detective Grimaldi found in the garage and that was photographed and you saw. That small baggie of marijuana. From that, the defense wants to make you believe that Marcus Smith is apparently this drug kingpin. If that is the case, that apparently may . . . apparently that’s their position, but please think about whether or not you’ve heard any evidence from the witness stand that would support that contention or whether you just heard it from the lawyers.

The jury found them guilty. The prosecutor’s unethical behavior is absolutely appalling.

Appeal

The appellate attorney representing Sandy and Supris became aware of Smith’s federal case and also received a copy of a letter that described how Raleigh Police delayed the arrest of Smith at the request of Colleen Janssen. When attorney Paul Green contacted Janssen to try to determine the source of the information, she delayed getting back to him for several weeks. At that point Green contacted Howard Cummings who refused to speak to him about the matter, even though he needed to confirm or deny the allegation about Janssen for his client. Janssen finally informed Green that she had no notes or emails from any such meeting with Detective Battle.

Green did his own research. He reached out to Smith’s attorney and was given the content of the private emails between Janssen and Detective Battle. Days later, Janssen “found” her private emails, likely knowing that Green would end up getting them eventually. She emailed them to Green and he filed a MAR (motion for appropriate relief) citing prosecutorial misconduct and Brady violations. The Court of Appeals ended up overturning the convictions of Sandy and Supris and the Wake County district attorney had no choice but to address the matter. Janssen was placed on paid leave and eventually asked to resign. The disciplinary investigation followed.

Disciplinary Hearing

Jansen blamed her negligent behavior on the fact that her father had been kidnapped six months prior by an imprisoned gang member she had prosecuted. You can read about that here. Luckily her father was rescued by the FBI and he is fine; however, it is rather pathetic that she used her father’s ordeal as an excuse for her behavior in this case. Evidently it worked, thus the almost non-existent punishment. At a minimum she should have lost her law license and since her deliberate malicious prosecution led to two (very likely) innocent men being sent to prison, she should have faced prison time, but that is never the case. Prosecutors are routinely able to get away with destroying lives with little (or no) consequence.

Jansen testified that she made mistakes, and that she never made the connection that the drug arrest was significant to her case, even though she knew it was certainly crucial to the defense case. I don’t believe her. It was no mistake.

She talked about how she would have never willfully done harm to “the office.” Who cares about the reputation of the office when people are paying a huge price for her actions — prison time.

As well, so many Wake County officials testified on her behalf about how she was so honest, hard-working, etc. Namely, former District Attorney, Colin Willoughby (who fought against Greg Taylor’s innocence claims, Judge Becky Holt (who did a poor job with the Jason Young case, Judge Gessner (you can learn more about his unethical tactics in the Brad Cooper case). They all came to her defense, even knowing how deceitful she was. That’s the reality of our “justice” system.

How many more cases like this exist? How much information has been withheld from defendants? Why is there a mentality to WIN, rather than seeking the truth? Why are public officials (who are paid with our tax dollars) never held accountable for their misconduct? My hope is that the public will become more aware of cases like this.

You can watch the disciplinary hearing here.

– Lynne Blanchard
Wrongful Conviction Advocate
Contact: [email protected]

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San Antonio Cop Caught Trying to Feed Shit Sandwich to Homeless Man Fired (Again) for 2nd Feces Related Incident

In November, I posted about San Antonio Police Officer Mathew Luckhurst who had tried to feed a sandwich filled with dog poop to a homeless man:

Luckhurst had bragged to another cop that he had placed feces inside bread and put it in a styrofoam container next to a sleeping homeless man, hoping he would eat it. That unnamed officer fortunately had some decency and told Officer Luckhurst to go back and throw the shit sandwich away. He then reported the incident to the San Antonio Police Dept.’s Internal Affairs Bureau in July.

Subsequently, the suspension was recommended by both a civilian review board and a review board comprising sworn officers. in October. After a meeting with Officer Luckhurst, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus upheld the suspension. Earlier today, both he and San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor released statements regarding Luckhurst’s behavior.

As I noted at the time, although it was reported that he had been fired, that was really a bit of a technicality because he actually has been “indefinitely suspended.” In reality, the intention is probably just to buy a little time until the publicity quiets down and then have the local police union play bad cop and file a dispute that ends up getting him his job back.

However, yesterday some new information emerged showing that this was not the only time that Officer Luckhurst’s feces fetish has gotten him into hot water with the SAPD. In fact, he seems to have been building on that as his go to prop for workplace pranks. And this time he even enlisted a sidekick.

Via MySanAntonio.com:

In June, just a month after the incident with the sandwich, police say Luckhurst defecated in the women’s bathroom stall at SAPD’s Bike Patrol Office and spread a brown substance with the consistency of tapioca on the toilet seat, giving the appearance that there was feces on the seat.

Officer Steve Albart was also involved in the prank, according to the records. He was originally given an indefinite suspension, but Chief William McManus reduced it to 30 days without pay. Albart finished serving that suspension Jan. 19.
Unlike Officer Albart, Luckhurst’s suspension was not reduced and he received a second indefinite suspension. So, now Officer Luckhurst has been “fired” twice (although he’s apparently still officially on the roster and in the process of appealing both suspensions). Expect him back out there protecting and serving (shit) at some point in the near future.
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“Beatrice 6,” Seek to Garnish Wages, Seize Property of Officers Involved in False Murder Convictions

In November, one of six people falsely imprisoned for murder filed motions to have the wages garnished and liens placed on the property of the deputies involved in the investigation. James Dean, along with five others dubbed the “Beatrice 6” had spent as long as 20 years in prison when they were convicted of the rape and murder of Lincoln resident Helen Wilson. After DNA testing revealed that someone else had committed the crime they were released and subsequently were awarded a total judgement of $28.1 million in a federal lawsuit.

James Dean, one of the six people wrongfully convicted in the 1985 rape and murder of 68-year old Helen Wilson in her downtown Beatrice apartment, last week asked the court to garnish wages of former Deputy Burdette Searcey and Reserve Deputy Wayne Price.

Dean also asked the U.S. Marshal’s Service to seize property belonging to Searcey, who launched the 1989 cold-case investigation into Wilson’s death, and Price, a psychologist who treated some of the six and also acted as one of their jailers.

deputy-searcy-beatrice-6The amount of the award was partly based on the “reckless nature” of the investigation, as well as the amount of time the six had spent in prison. In addition to ruling against Gage County, the jurors found Deputy Burt Searcey and reserve deputy Dr. Wayne Price personally responsible for the manufacturing of evidence used to convict them. Deputy Searcy led the investigation, which started out as an unsolved cold case.  Dr. Price, a psychologist, had acted as a mental health counselor for several of the falsely convicted prior to acting as an adviser to the Gage County Sheriff’s Office and sitting in on interrogations. That dual role was ruled to be a conflict of interest that should have prompted him to recuse himself from any involvement in the case.

That ruling of personal responsibility by the two officers means, unlike in most lawsuits involving police officers, that they are required to pay from their own personal finances their portion of the judgement. Officials from Gage County have appealed the ruling, stating that they do not have the resources to pay such a high amount. They previously had attempted to secure a loan from the state government, which was denied by Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson. Raising property taxes and declaring bankruptcy are other options the county has looked into in order to pay the judgement, which is triple the county’s yearly budget.

dr-wayne-price-beatrice-6Although the size of the judgement makes it unlikely that they will ever collect it in full, Dean’s move to file for wage garnishment and liens against Searcy and Price’s personal property, effectively means any income or property they have now or gain through future earnings beyond basic living requirements would be seized. In effect, they would both be impoverished for the rest of their life unless they somehow came up with the money to pay off their portion of the balance of the judgement.

Pending a ruling by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on the appeal by Gage County, U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf issued a stay on the garnishments for 90 days. In the meantime, Judge Kopf required that Deputy Searcy and Dr. Price not make any sort of financial transactions during that 90 day period. He also rejected a request from the county to issue a stay on their portion of the ruling.

The federal judge did order Searcey and Price to abide by affidavits they submitted to the court indicating they would not “sell, assign, transfer, convey, mortgage, or otherwise dispose of or encumber any interest in real or personal property” without the court’s permission.

In a motion filed with the court earlier this week, Jennifer Tomka, one of the team of private-practice attorneys representing Gage County, asked that a stay on the execution of judgment against Searcey, Price and the county be considered by the court.

 Tomka said the federal court could issue stays that protect the status quo for the county while the appeal is under consideration by the appeals court.

Kopf rejected those requests by the county.

Although he said it was unrelated to the ruling, Deputy Searcey retired from the sheriff’s office in November. Dr. Price is still a part of the department, although his current role was described as “limited” by Sheriff Millard “Gus” Gustafson.

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San Antonio Police Officer Matthew Luckhurst Fired for Trying to Feed Shit Sandwich to Homeless Man

Officer Matthew Luckhurst of the San Antonio Police Department has been placed on indefinite suspension as the result of an incident in May. Luckhurst had bragged to another cop that he had placed feces inside bread and put it in a styrofoam container next to a sleeping homeless man, hoping he would eat it. That unnamed officer fortunately had some decency and told Officer Luckhurst to go back and throw the shit sandwich away. He then reported the incident to the San Antonio Police Dept.’s Internal Affairs Bureau in July.

Subsequently, the suspension was recommended by both a civilian review board and a review board comprising sworn officers. in October. After a meeting with Officer Luckhurst, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus upheld the suspension. Earlier today, both he and San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor released statements regarding Luckhurst’s behavior.

Via KVUE.com, the local ABC affiliate:

“This was a vile and disgusting act that violates our guiding principles of “treating all with integrity, compassion, fairness and respect’,” said Chief McManus. “The fact that his fellow officers were so disgusted with his actions that they reported him to Internal Affairs demonstrates that this type of behavior will never be tolerated.”

Mayor Ivy Taylor also released a statement Friday regarding the incident. “Firing this officer was the right thing to do,” Mayor Taylor said. “His actions were a betrayal of every value we have in our community, and he is not representative of our great police force.”

It’s not entirely clear from the news reports of the “indefinite suspension” equates to an actual firing or if that is still in the process of happening. According to MySanAntonio.com, Officer Luckhurst is planning to appeal the suspension/firing. Although Luckhurst declined to comment to the media, his lawyer, Ben Sifuentes, it was all just a joke that “spiraled out of control.”

Homeless people are frequently the targets of bullying and police are often some of the biggest bullies around. The stigma attached to being homeless and the criminalization of  homelessness are huge issues within most, if not all, cities throughout the country. Having worked with Food Not Bombs Las Vegas and personally witnessed the abusive manner that a good majority of police officers behave toward homeless people, I have very little doubt that it happened, even though he likely did consider it a joke. (And it certainly did spiral out of control for him.)

I also don’t have a lot of doubt that he will win his appeal and be reinstated. When you have free rein to murder people, trying to serve someone a shit sandwich is small potatoes. And if all else fails, he can always just move to the next police department over and continue as if nothing ever happened.

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Family Whose Dog Was Murdered by Hartford Police Awarded $202,000; Liens Placed on Cops’ Houses

Last week, a federal jury ruled in favor of a father and daughter whose dog was shot by Hartford police during an illegal search of their property and awarded them $202,000. That award included $32,000 in punitive damages, which the two officers involved are personally responsible for splitting. As a result of that, the judge in the case placed liens on both officers’ houses to ensure they pay.

In addition, the lawyer for the dog’s owners, Glen and “K” Harris, stated that he intends to pursue as much as $640,000 in additional legal fees against the city. The case dragged on for ten years after the incident in which Sgt. Johnmichael O’Hare and Sgt. Anthony Pia shot the St. Bernard belonging to the Harris family while in the process of conducting a search in an attempt to find guns a gang affiliated informant had claimed were in their yard. No guns were found and they had not gotten a warrant for the search.

Via the Hartford Courant:

The case provided a stark look back at a time when the city was threatened with being overwhelmed by a spike in violence caused by warring drug gangs on the north side. The police department had created a new unit to defuse the problem, and officers were under pressure to find and seize illegal caches of weapons.

On Dec. 20, 2006, the gun crackdown ended up at Harris’ home at 297 Enfield St. That morning, O’Hare had been involved in a high-speed pursuit of a suspected stolen car that culminated in a frantic foot chase, over fences and across backyards, in pursuit of the driver.

O’Hare caught the driver, but not before being injured in the chase. He was ordered by a supervisor to report to a hospital for treatment. En route to the hospital, (defense lawyer Thomas) Gerarde said O’Hare and Pia were diverted to Harris’ home.

Another officer had just arrested a gang member who was found to possess dozens of bags of heroin. The gang member wanted to make a deal. If the police helped him get a break with the prosecutors, he would direct them to two guns that he said were hidden in an abandoned car in Harris’ fenced-in property.

Gerarde said O’Hare and Pia raced to 297 Enfield. They walked inside the fence, found no abandoned car and prepared to leave. He said they did not know that, on the other side of the house, Harris’ daughter, identified in court as K, had just returned home from school and had let one of her two St. Bernards out the back door.

K testified that the dog, named Seven and her favorite, suddenly looked up and tore away toward the front of the house.

At the front of the house, Gerarde said, O’Hare and Pia spotted a big dog charging and broke into a “full sprint” to get away. He said O’Hare heard the dog growling and snapping at his heels and turned to command it to stop. When the dog didn’t, Gerarde said, O’Hare shot twice.

K, in the meantime, said she was running toward the front yard on the other side of the house when she heard the two shots. When she got there, she testified that she saw the dog lying on its side and and yelled, “No. Don’t shoot.”

She said O’Hare shot the dog a third time, in the head, then turned to her and said, “I’m sorry, Miss, your dog is not going to make it.”

In the original 2008 trial, a jury ruled against the Harris’ after the judge ruled that no warrant was necessary. However, they appealed the case and won with the verdict being thrown out and a new trial ordered. The jury ruled in their favor this time in large part because the search was considered illegal absent a warrant.

Lawyers for the City of Hartford had stated in court that they will not be paying the remainder of the judgement because the city isn’t required to indemnify police officers implicated in illegal searches. It’s not clear if that means the city will try to force the officers to pay the entire amount and/or any future judgements. Some legal experts have stated that this was simply a bluff by the city in hopes of reducing any damages awarded after it became obvious they would lose.

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Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Who Sent Dick Pics to Dispatcher Denied Reinstatement

(Note: The image above is an artist’s representation of what those photos may have looked like and possibly might not actually be completely and factually accurate.)

Nevada Highway Patrol Sergeant Kenneth Twiddy went looking for love in the wrong place in 2008 and now he has been rejected again during an employment termination appeal. Twiddy’s 2011 firing for sending dick pics to an unnamed NHP police dispatcher has just been upheld by Nevada State Hearing Officer Paul Lychuk.

Former Sergeant Twiddy’s defense was that the dispatcher didn’t object to the photos at the time he sent them and had even reciprocated by sending nude photos to him. (And that it was cold in the room when he took the pics.)

However, the fact that he was considered a supervisor above her and because his creepy actions represented “egregious conduct” while on duty, his dismissal was upheld.

Via the Las Vegas Review Journal:

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Twiddy’s dismissal had initially been upheld in a 2011 hearing officer decision, but the case was reheard after a Nevada Supreme Court ruling requiring a reassessment over whether the agency had met the burden of proof in dismissing the officer.He and his attorney argued in the hearings that the matter had been blown out of proportion and that the dispatcher receiving the photos via her private cellphone did not object because she had sent him nude photos of herself.

Twiddy also cited his 14-year exemplary record with the Nevada Highway Patrol.

But Lychuk found that the agency had met its burden of proof in terminating Twiddy and reaffirmed the 2011 date of his firing.

There was ample evidence that Twiddy was an officer in a supervisory position whose actions and conduct should have been above reproach, he said.

“Twiddy made a conscious, voluntary decision to engage in egregious conduct while on duty on several occasions,” Lychuk said in the decision.

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Ninth Circuit Court Rules Concealed Carrying of Firearms Not Protected by Second Amendment

Earlier today, a California appeals court upheld the state’s law that imposes permits and restrictions on the carrying of a concealed weapon in public. The Ninth Circuit Court, located in San Francisco, overruled a previous decision in “Peruta v. County of San Diego” by three members of the court that California’s requirement for citizens to show “good cause” in order to qualify for a concealed-carry permit violates the right to bear arms protected under the Second Amendment of the US Constitution.

Via the New York Times:

The 7-to-4 ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, overturned a decision by a three-judge panel of the same court and was a setback for gun advocates. The California law requires applicants to demonstrate “good cause” for carrying a weapon, like working in a job with a security threat — a restriction sharply attacked by gun advocates as violating the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

“Based on the overwhelming consensus of historical sources, we conclude that the protection of the Second Amendment — whatever the scope of that protection may be — simply does not extend to the carrying of concealed firearms in public by members of the general public,” the court said in a ruling written by Judge William A. Fletcher.

The case was brought by gun owners who were denied permits in Yolo and San Diego Counties. The plaintiffs did not immediately say whether they planned to appeal to the United States Supreme Court.

“This is a huge decision,” said Adam Winkler, a professor of constitutional law at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law. “This is a major victory for gun control advocates. “

Gun control advocates are hailing this as a giant win, while gun rights advocates and strict Constitutionalists are calling it a major infringement on the rights of citizens to defend themselves. In fact, this is even being characterized as one battle in the next war over the potential regulation of gun ownership and use.

Jonathan E. Lowy of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence said, “Probably the most important battleground of the Second Amendment has been whether there is a right to carry guns outside the home, and if there is, to what extent can states and localities regulate that right.”

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City of Carmel Indiana Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Illegal Ticket Scheme

The links for this post were shared with the Cop Block Network, via an anonymous submission to the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. The person submitting it did include this comment with the submission:

“Carmel blows.”

That’s obviously an opinion based statement, but I personally don’t have any quantifiable reason to doubt its validity. So that is something you’ll need to research for yourself.

Illegal Revenue Generation

The story stems from the City of Carmel Indiana’s use of an invalid city ordinance to issue as many as 8,000 tickets for the express purpose of generating revenue. The validity of the Carmel Road Pirate’s scam was originally exposed by a citizen who fought their own citation. Interestingly enough though, the issue that seemingly makes it invalid is based on the fact the city didn’t share the ransom money they collected from drivers with the county and state and instead “pocketed the cash.”

According to Fox59.com:

Rather than distribute the money collected by traffic fines with the county and states as required in many cases–the lawsuit accuses Carmel of pocketing the cash in some scenarios.

“It violates state law, it violates civil rights and they are abusing they’re (sic) authority,” said attorney Ed Bielski of Bielski Law LLC.

Bielski is the Indianapolis attorney behind the federal class action lawsuit filed against the City of Carmel.

“What they did is they took state code and they hijacked it and pretended it was theirs and kept the money. That’s inappropriate,” said Bielski.

The lawsuit argues that Carmel adopted the existing Indiana state law for traffic violations and is wrongfully writing tickets under Carmel’s §8-­2 ordinance.

“You can’t duplicate state law. They are doing something directly contrary to state law,” said Bielski.

Bielski says he is in the early discovery phase of his class action lawsuit but he has reason to believe Carmel is using this ordinance for financial gain.

“In life usually your answer is follow the money. When you pay a ticket you expect the money is going to go where it’s supposed to go. You don’t expect them to pocket it,” said Bielski.

The GodFatherSo the basic gist of the lawsuit is that the city passed an ordinance that duplicated a state law allowing them to write tickets that rang their cash register instead of going into the governor’s slush fund. Being that the statement comes from the lawyer bringing the suit, it might just be a legal argument and not based on any sort of actual reality outside of a courtroom, but Bielski’s stated complaint is an interesting one.

He states that it’s wrong for the city to pass such a law because, “When you pay a ticket you expect the money is going to go where it’s supposed to go. You don’t expect them to pocket it.” What he’s essentially saying is that the wrong thief ended up with the bag of loot. As if the victim of a mugging cares which gang shakes him down as he’s heading back from the neighborhood Quickie Mart.

In fact, the man who originally contested the ordinance lays it out even more clearly:

“This is a very simple issue. Carmel violated state law to try to usurp the state’s authority and divert these funds to Carmel, and that’s the only issue at play here,” (Jason) Maraman said.

Obviously, the overall potential effect of having as many as 8,000 people getting their stolen money back is a good (and rare) thing. However, going forward this just means that the City of Carmel’s crew is going to have to cut the Hamilton County Capo in on the take before kissing the Godfather of Indiana’s ring. Nothing of substance will change for the people they will continue shaking down in the process.

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