Tag Archives: narcotics

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]

Leave a comment

West Virginia Sheriff Candidate Arrested After Repeatedly Overdosing on Heroin

Is That You John Wayne?

That’s one theory (that I just made up) for how the conversation went when West Virginia State Police Cpl. M.D. Gillmore realized who the man reportedly suffering a heroin overdose actually was in an early morning call that he and Trooper M.C. Morgan had been dispatched to.

It turned out that not only was it Berkeley County (WV) Sheriff Candidate and 10 year law enforcement veteran John Wayne Orem, but it was also the second time he had overdosed within a 12 hour period. Although it’s the policy in Berkeley County to send police along with EMS in cases where there is an overdose, in case they survive and need to be arrested, they hadn’t actually been notified of an incident the previous night in which Orem had also OD’ed.

On both occasions, paramedics were forced to administer Narcan, a medication that counteracts the effects of narcotics to Orem to keep him from dying. If  video of that exists it hasn’t been released publicly, but it probably went something like this.

As a result of this second overdose, Potential Sheriff Orem was in fact arrested on possession charges, although there is some dispute between him and pretty much everyone else in West Virginia about what exactly happened.

Via HeraldMailMedia.com:

Orem, 47, of Inwood, W.Va., was arraigned on one misdemeanor count of possession of a controlled substance Tuesday morning by Berkeley County Magistrate Harry L. Snow, records said.

Orem, who was released from custody after posting bail for a $5,000 bond, did not comment about his arrest as he was leaving the Berkeley County Judicial Center other than to say he would release a “clear and concise” statement of what happened later Tuesday.

 “It’s no where, no where close to what it seems like,” Orem said.

No further statements by Orem had been received by Herald-Mail Media as of 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Attention people! The G700 Flashlight is indestructible and the brightest light you have EVER seen. Order yours now at 75% OFF CLICK GRAPHIC NOW!

Attention people! The G700 Flashlight is indestructible and the brightest light you have EVER seen. Order yours now at 75% OFF CLICK GRAPHIC NOW!

Orem was found unresponsive on the bathroom floor of his Harold Drive home Tuesday morning, according to a complaint filed by West Virginia State Police Cpl. M.D. Gillmore.

An EMS official told the trooper that Orem had been administered Narcan, a drug that reverses the effects of narcotics, on Tuesday morning and about 11 p.m., Monday night, during separate responses by medics.

Gillmore said a cotton ball found in a metal spoon, which was located in a bathroom cabinet, later field-tested positive for heroin, records said.

The spoon appeared to have a white substance on it and burn marks on the bottom, records said.

Gillmore said he also recovered a plastic bag which appeared similar to bags commonly used to contain narcotics, in the toilet next to where Orem was laying, records said.

A loose shoelace also was spotted on the bathroom countertop, records said.

As of right now, Orem has made no announcement about whether he will withdraw from the race for sheriff (or sent that “clear and concise” statement) and there is no legal requirement for him to do so. This might probably kinda hurt his campaign a bit, though. (#JusSayin)

State Senator Craig Blair weighed in on the subject, encouraging Orem to drop out and sending thoughts and prayers:

“To me, it’s an indication of how serious the epidemic when a candidate for a law-enforcement office in the second-largest county in the state is addicted to drugs,” Blair said. “We absolutely must address this issue, and we cannot delay. We are losing a generation of West Virginians to this widespread affliction, and our state’s legacy and our youth deserve more. My thoughts and prayers are with John and his family in coming weeks as they deal with getting him the treatment he needs.”

I couldn’t agree more with Sen. Blair that John should get help and that the form of that help should be focused on treatment, rather than punishment, for what is really a mental health issue. However, I think it says a lot about the mindset of law enforcement that a person who is clearly out of control and in need of that help aspired to be the head of the second largest county in the state of Virginia and participate in a system that makes that treatment harder to get (for those not employed in law enforcement) with subjecting oneself to jail or prison time (where drugs are readily available).

I guarantee you that had he been elected prior to his meltdown he wouldn’t have shifted the emphasis of the Berkeley County Sheriff Department’s response to addicts from sending heavily armed men with a tendency to inflict violence to smash their doors down in the middle of the night to that of the medical and psychological treatment that they actually need.

Leave a comment

Gloucester Police Department’s “Angel Program” Sends Drug Addicts To Rehab, Not Prison

The following post was submitted to the CopBlock Network by Isiah Holmes, who has been featured several times previously on Cop Block, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. In this post, Isiah discusses a program recently started by Gloucester Massachusetts Police Chief Leonard Campanello in which, rather than treating drug abuse as a criminal issue, it’s treated as a disease requiring treatment.

(Note: The Gloucester Police Department’s new drug program was also discussed by Deo in an earlier post published in August of last year, as well as by Dylan Donnelly in a post published in May of last year. While both the previous posts address the same topic, they were written at different time frames relative to the start of the “Angel Program” and contain different perspectives from each author.)

In The World Anew

“You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world anew.”

No one can deny the profound reservoirs of foresight Albert Einstein surely utilized to conjure those words. In order to evolve our understanding, we must first break the rigid behavioral or ideological loop which has brought us here. No modern SNAFU is more relevant to this phenomenon than the drug war, and its human cost. It’s a war with “soldiers”, aka our police force, who no longer agree with their own method–find them all, arrest them all. In 2015, however, one Massachusetts department found breaking operational standards was worth pulling it’s heroin ravaged community back from the brink.

Massachusetts police drug addictsGloucester Massachusetts, like a growing percentage of the US, has an overwhelming opioid issue. In fact, according to VICE, the first four months of 2015 saw four local overdose deaths by either heroin or prescription drugs. The deaths, coupled with several other overdose victims who survived, compelled the Gloucester Police Department to mix things up a little. Police Chief Leonard Campanello took to Facebook: “Any addict who walks into the police station with the remainder of their drug equipment or drugs and asks for help will not be charged. Instead,” Campanello continues, “we will walk them through the system toward detox and recovery.” Amazingly, the post’s number of shares–32,000 shares–outnumbers Gloucester’s population of 30,000 people.

The Gloucester PD’s trailblazing initiative, launched June 1st 2015, is formally known as the “Angel Program”. Under the program, VICE reports, Campanello’s officers, upon making contact with a consenting addict, will transport the person to nearby Gilbert Hospital. From there, the patient is assigned an “angel”, according to the Gloucester Times, who then walks them through the rehabilitation process. Also, the Gloucester PD maintains a contingent of volunteers who stay with the patient until an angel arrives. The first patient arrived in Campanello’s station a day after the program was launched. Willfully and peacefully, the 31 year old man arrived at Campanello’s doorstep requesting help.

It didn’t take long for word of the program to start mushrooming across the nation. Out of state rehab centers offered anything they could including, VICE reports, scholarships to help pay for transport and treatment. In spite of all this, true success relies on a non-existent level of trust between the addict and the officers. “Someone has to take the first step”, says Campanello, “that’s all we can do.”

Leonard Campanello Gloucester Police Chief2The chief, aware of relations between cops and non-cops, pointed out that they must “show that we are good to our word.” This can’t happen if even dying addicts frown at the idea of surrendering, with or without drugs, inside the walls of a station. Holding true to Albert Einstein’s old quote, Police Chief Campanello insists his officers have “come to consensus as a department that we’re not going to arrest our way out of the addiction problem.” Campanello later went on record, the Gloucester Times reports, pointing out “the important piece to all of this. For law enforcement to extend a helping hand”, says the chief, “and we’ve started to do that.”

Gloucester PD also made an overdose “antidote” available at local pharmacies without a prescription. According to VICE, the nasal spray–Narcon– is capable of instantly stopping even severe overdoses. Gary Langis, Gloucester resident and harm reduction activist since the 80’s, delivers Narcon door-to-door. “I think it’s a good thing that they’re having this conversation”, says Langis, “and looking at drug users as not a criminal thing, but as people that need a little help.” Langis, like many, expresses doubts that a population which police have historically “marginalized and demonized” is going to be willing to trust them. Landis’s fears may prove valid, as Gloucester officers remain obligated to charge users they get off the street, according to VICE.

It would appear, however, that this particular police department, or at least its leader, is willing to move past this status quo. “Your life”, he says, referring to Gloucester’s addicts, CNN reports, “is more meaningful than your death. Don’t be ashamed of your illness. We are not ashamed of you, it’s time…come and get the help.” Following the Gloucester PD’s empathy fueled leap of faith, towns in 17 other states promptly adopted the Angel Program.

A large component to ending the drug war is, indeed, legalizing marijuana. Another, perhaps, vastly more profound component is caring about the people the war hurts, ruins, or kills. We have to care about one another, and America’s current narcotics policy stands as the antithesis to this end. Now, let’s use the momentum from this small victory as a point of encouragement for municipalities elsewhere to get on board with the revolution.

– Isiah Holmes

Leave a comment

Update: Idaho Police Continue to Pursue Punitive Prosecution of Cop Blocker Matthew Townsend

As has been reported previously on CopBlock.org, Mathew Townsend is facing a felony charge in Idaho for posting on Facebook about a case he was facing in which he was arrested while legally protesting on public property. That original arrest has been described as a “contempt of cop” charge.

Via the original post here on CopBlock.org:

Cop Blocker Matthew Townsend was engaged in a one-man protest on a sidewalk in Meridian, Idaho when he was accosted by Meridian Police employee Richard Broadbank who accused him of “blocking traffic.” When his attempts to get Matthew to agree with him and submit or incriminate himself failed, Broadbank resorted to saying “well, I saw you…” [blocking traffic.]

At this point, Matthew told officer Broadbank “then charge me.” and pushed the crosswalk button, and proceeded to cross. Broadbank was silent for a moment, and when Matthew was halfway across he began to shout that he’s not done with him yet. Matthew was then arrested for “resisting and obstructing,” simply for exercising his rights.

The subsequent charge, for which Townsend could potentially serve five years in prison, essentially amounts to a defiant statement that he intends to fight back against the first charge and publicly expose the specious nature of the arrest. Instead of recognizing that and dismissing the charges the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office has gone out of their way to push forward with these charges, even going so far as to find a judge willing to issue a warrant for Townsend’s arrest after the charge was initially rejected by District Judge James Cawthon.

William N. Grigg writing at “Pro Libertate” compares Mathew Townsends case to Soviet persecutions under Stalin:

On the eve of his hearing, Townsend published a Facebook post in which he promised to mount a “shame campaign” against his kidnapper and any public officials who collaborated in that outrage unless the meritless charge was dismissed.

“The State has 3 options,” wrote Townsend. It could “drop the charges and leave me alone” – which is the course of action honest and decent people would select; “Endure my non-violent retaliation (do you want to be the focus of my rage?),” or “Kill me and deal with those that know, love, and care about me. Make your choice.”

To the extent that a “threat” was involved in Townsend’s post, it was his recognition, and clear description, of the fact that everything done in the name of the “State” carries an implied or overt threat of lethal violence against those who do not submit. Rather than threatening violence against anybody, Townsend was underscoring the fact that the State and its agents were threatening him.

In an act of intellectual inversion worthy of the East German Stasi, the Meridian Police Department filed a felony “witness intimidation” complaint against Townsend in the hope of being able to arrest him at the hearing on the misdemeanor “resist and obstruct” charge. District Judge James Cawthon, displaying sobriety and honesty all but unknown to those in his occupation, rejected the prosecution’s request that Townsend be taken into custody, ruling that nothing in his Facebook post constituted a threat of violence against anyone.

Displaying a now-familiar alloy of pettiness and viciousness, the Meridian Police Department and the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office went judge-shopping, and through an ex parte hearing obtained an arrest warrant that resulted in an after-dark raid on his home by the Ada County Sheriff’s Office on a Friday night.

The clear intention was to arrange for him to spend the weekend in jail, which – given that Townsend, unlike his tormentors, is gainfully employed in the productive sector – would have likely caused him to lose his job.

Bail was arranged and Townsend remains employed, which means that he is able to deal with at least some of the accumulating legal expenses that have resulted from this protracted exercise in official persecution.

Townsend’s legal costs thus far amount to nearly $10,000, and that figure will climb dramatically while implacable tormentors have the luxury of spending money extracted from the legitimate earnings of better people. He has already endured severe punishment without being convicted of an offense.

The conduct of trial Judge Lynn Norton thus far suggests that she is not only a partisan of the prosecution, but – as we shall see – is actually helping it frame its case in order to manipulate the jury into ignoring the lack of evidence regarding the key element of the offense.

In order to convict Townsend of “witness intimidation,” the prosecution would have to prove that he attempted to prevent Brockbank from testifying “freely, fully and truthfully” in any court proceeding arising from the resisting and obstructing charge. That requirement is the last of nine elements of the charge of “witness intimidation” specified in the Idaho Criminal Jury Instructions dealing with that offense.

In his motion to dismiss that felony charge, Townsend’s defense attorney, Aaron Tribble, pointed out that the only evidence provided by the prosecution of witness intimidation was the Facebook post, and that statement was utterly devoid of “any mention of testimony by Officer Brockbank.”

“There needs to be some evidence linking Mr. Townsend’s comments to Brockbank’s potential testimony,” Tribble continued. “The State has nothing to offer.”

It a great deal of time for Tribble to research and compose a legal memorandum in support of his motion to dismiss the charge. It took him a little more than ten minutes to summarize his most important arguments during a January 8th hearing before Judge Norton.

It took twenty seconds for Ada County District Attorney James Vogt to make his case for Norton to dismiss Tribble’s motion. Vogt didn’t achieve this through incisive reasoning scintillating eloquence, but rather by simply asking Norton to dismiss the motion without bothering to present an argument on behalf of the request.

The gravamen of Tribble’s argument was that the “evidence” assembled by the prosecution, which had just recently been made available through discovery, amounted to the single Facebook post. Since the evidence assembled doesn’t cover the most critical element of the offense, there is no logical, legal, or ethical reason to proceed with the trial.

Like most functionaries of her kind, however, Judge Norton defines her role in terms of facilitating prosecution, rather than administering justice – and Vogt knew how to capitalize on that inclination.

Here is a verbatim transcript of Vogt’s “argument” in the January 8 hearing on the motion to dismiss:

Soviet State of Idaho“Your honor, with respect to the missing element, I would just point to the fact that there has already been a finding of probable cause by the Magistrate, Judge Gardunia. Mr. Tribble can point to nothing in the record that can contradict that, so I don’t think there’s really much else to argue about with respect to that.”

That finding of “probable cause” occurred in April, months prior to the closing of discovery in this case, which didn’t occur until last December. The Ada County DA’s office, using a familiar prosecution tactic, didn’t finish discovery until after a critical deadline had passed for the defense to file motions before Judge Norton. Despite the fact that no new evidence of a crime was developed, and the existing evidence is inadequate to justify a prosecution, Norton promptly threw out Townsend’s motion to dismiss.

This isn’t to say that she didn’t consider that motion; indeed, there’s reason to believe that she examined it carefully in order to act as a coach and a consultant for the prosecution. If Norton honestly found Tribble’s arguments unconvincing, she needed only say as much and reject his motion. Instead, she presented a detailed discussion of ways the prosecution could overcome the fact that Townsend never threatened Brockbank or even mentioned his testimony.

“One thing that I would want to note is that Mr. Tribble does seem to argue that there must be direct evidence to support an element,” Norton commented during the hearing. Evidence can be direct or circumstantial” for intent to intimidate, she insisted, and “the law does not differentiate between direct evidence and circumstantial evidence.”

The only “circumstantial” evidence of “intimidation” would consist of speculation, inference, and imputed motives. As the official who would rule on admissibility, Norton has indicated that she intends to give the prosecution as much latitude as it may need to make a “circumstantial” case for an offense that — by statute and precedent — requires direct evidence in order to sustain a conviction.

“The jury can consider circumstantial evidence, looking at all of the evidence as a whole and not just looking at one particular statement,” Norton declared.

While the prosecution will apparently be permitted to impute “intent” to Townsend on the basis of things he didn’t say, write, or do, Norton insisted that the defendant’s actual words are not definitive evidence of his intent.

“Just because in this particular case there was a note in that particular Facebook post where he referred to – as almost as a caveat referring to `’non-violent’ – that doesn’t mean that that’s binding on a jury to actually decide that’s what his intent was, any more than an assault is remediated just because as the person pulls the gun away from somebody’s head they say `just kidding,’” Norton asserted, reciting an argument made by the prosecution during last April’s probable cause hearing.

The tortured analogy between pointing a gun at a terrified person’s head and writing a nasty note on Facebook offers decisive proof that both the prosecution and Judge Norton know this case is without merit: Under Idaho case law, Townsend could not be convicted of witness intimidation if he had pointed a gun at Brockbank – as long as there was no direct evidence that this was done to prevent him from testifying “freely, fully, and truthfully.”

In 2011, the Idaho Court of Appeals overturned a witness intimidation conviction in which relatives of a man facing a narcotics charge, acting on the suspect’s direct request, invaded the home of a potential witness and held her at gunpoint.

Saying that he was acting on behalf of “Michael” – that is, Michael O’Neill, the jailed defendant – one of the invaders told witness Sarah Phelps, “You’re f***ed; you’re going down,” as he thrust a .45 caliber handgun in her face.

The Appeals Court recognized that because there was no direct evidence that this violent crime was committed for the purpose of “affecting future testimony,” as opposed to “retaliation,” it did not meet every element of the offense called witness intimidation.

Of course, Sarah Phelps was a mere Mundane, rather than a swaggering, armor-clad dispenser of State-sanctioned violence. During the probable cause hearing in the Townsend case last April, Brockbank strode into the courtroom infull battle array for the purpose of testifying that he is an incontinentcoward who had been frightened and intimidated by Townsend’s Facebook post. In his defense, I don’t believe that Brockbank committed perjury.

The purpose of prosecuting Matthew Townsend is not merely to enforce a “safe space” for delicate creatures like Richard Brockbank; it is to demonstrate the weight of the insubstantial entity called the “State.”

During the Great Purge of the Soviet Communist Party, the Soviet forebears of the personalities employed by the Ada County DA’s Office ran across a particularly recalcitrant Old Bolshevik named Kamenev who simply refused to confess – just as Townsend had refused to concede Brockbank’s claim that he had been jaywalking.

Offended by the Muscovite’s impudent assertions of innocence, Vyshinsky’s understudies could have treated him to a “Lubyanka breakfast” — a cigarette and a bullet to the back of the head. But without a confession, the exercise would have been sterile: The entire point was to extract a confession, and to display the broken defendant to the public as proof that the state was both infallible and pitiless. This wouldn’t be accomplished by executing a man who defiantly insisted on his innocence.

Seeking guidance in dealing with the recalcitrant suspect, NKVD official named Mironov sought an audience with Stalin, who listened intently. After the troublesome case had been described in detail, Stalin sat in quiet thought for a moment before asking an unexpected question.

“Do you know how much our state weighs, with all the factories, machines, the army, with all the armaments and the navy?” Stalin inquired. “Think it over and tell me.”

Perhaps believing that Stalin was telling a joke – and the Dear Leader was, of course, renowned for his sense of humor – Mironov reacted with a nervous chuckle.

“I am asking you, how much does all that weigh?” Stalin repeated, his eyes narrowing as he emphasized every syllable.

Sweating and stammering, Mironov replied, “Nobody can know that, Yosif Vissarionovich. It is in the realm of astronomical figures.”

“Well, can one man withstand the pressure of an astronomical weight?” Stalin prompted the thoroughly intimidated underling.

“No,” Mironov answered weakly, no doubt cringing in anticipation of what was to come.

“Now, then,” Stalin concluded in a tone of voice that could freeze magma, fixing the NKVD operative with a malicious glare, “don’t tell me any more that Kamenev, or this or that prisoner, is able to withstand that pressure. Don’t come report to me until you have in your briefcase the confession of Kamanev!”

Meridian, Idaho in 2016 obviously isn’t Moscow, Russia circa 1936 – at least in terms of the extent and pervasiveness of government-imposed injustice. The fact that Stalinesque abuse isn’t commonplace doesn’t make single-serving Stalinism any less abhorrent.

In his Facebook post, Townsend pointedly identified “the State” as the entity seeking to put him in a cage, and expressed contemptuous and entirely commendable defiance toward that malignant entity. The Meridian Police Department, the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office, and Judge Norton are display same mindset exhibited by Stalin: They are using officially sanctioned violence to crush a political dissident, for the greater glory of the murderous abstraction they serve.

Embedded below is a video from a protest held by supporters of Matthew Townsend in March of 2015.  Townsend’s trial is currently set to start on January 19th of 2016.

Leave a comment

Trevon Cole Killed by LVMPD’s Bryant Yant During Drug Raid

Bryan Yant, a Las Vegas police officer has been given a paid vacation after murdering Trevon Cole, an unarmed man, during a drug raid.

The police have tried to justify the slaying claiming that the victim made “a furtive movement.”

“It was during the course of a warrant and as you all know, narcotics warrants are all high-risk warrants,” Capt. Patrick Neville of Metro’s Robbery-Homicide Bureau said Friday night.

Trevon Cole

Trevon Cole

What Captain Neville failed to mention is that the only reason “narcotics” warrants are “high-risk” is that police typically enforce them by dressing up like the Gestapo, breaking into homes without warning in the middle of the night, throwing deadly grenades, pointing guns at anything with a pulse, and verbally and physically abusing anyone who happens to be inside. Maybe if the trigger-happy sociopaths who conduct these sorts of raids thought up less reckless ways to enforce the law or, better yet, stopped arresting people for victimless crimes, they wouldn’t have to keep making up lame excuses for murdering people.

Don’t expect any justice in this case because the officer responsible has murdered someone else in the past and gotten away with it.

Read the full story here.

This was originally posted at CopBlock.org

4 Comments