Justice Thomas Cracks a “Joke”; the Real Joke’s On Us.

January 15, 2013

Justice Thomas Cracks a “Joke”; the Real Joke’s On Us.

Reading the newspapers yesterday you’d think it was a slow news day. But was it really?

Hardly.

While “journalists” chuckled over Justice Thomas’ incoherent ramblings about Yale, did anyone think to discuss the underlying case that SCOTUS was hearing?

Gideon of A Public Defender did. You should read his post right now. Here’s an excerpt:

You know what’s missing in every single one of these articles? A mention of Boyer. Who’s Boyer, you ask? Boyer, of Boyer v. Louisiana [SCOTUSBlog preview; oral argument transcript here]. Boyer, who sat in jail for 5 years facing the death penalty because the State could afford to only pay one of his lawyers – one that wasn’t qualified to represent him in a death penalty case. Boyer, in whose case witnesses died while he was waiting for the political football of indigent defense funding to stop getting punted around from endzone to endzone like it was a Browns vs. Cardinals game. Boyer, whose egregious delay the state of Louisiana seeks to shrug off as not really important and certainly not their fault.

***

You want a story? I’ll give you a story: this is the 50th anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright. That the decision trumpeted the arrival of an era of equal justice for all, but that era has never materialized. That states still woefully underfund indigent defense; that access to justice isn’t equal and that people get screwed. Every. Single. Day. And it’s this Court – Thomas and others – who have the authority to change that, to alter that reality for hundreds of thousands of Americans. Today for all my clients; tomorrow, perhaps for you.

But no. Let’s continue to be cute and write funny stories about what an odd man that Justice Thomas is that he hasn’t asked a question in 6 years and well, was he making fun of Harvard or Yale? Because, really, who gives a fuck about Boyer, right? Stupid Constitution getting in the way, just like Thomas always said.

Priorities.

TL;DR: Thomas mumbles, internet creams itself, Boyer sits in jail, Gideon weeps.

Another step in the Honey Boo Boo-ification of our media. Anything for a joke, right?

Edit: Scott Greenfield beat me to it.


FOP President John McNesby Can’t Stop Saying Stupid Things.

December 7, 2012

[Ed. Aug 1, 2014. So, John, you’ve been pretty silent since this happened.]

FOP President John McNesby Can’t Stop Saying Stupid Things.

Yesterday, I posted about the officers whose testimony was so incredible that the DA didn’t want to call them as witnesses anymore. Veteran attorney Brad Bridge of the Defender Association remarked that the officers were “among the most troubled in the department.”

The officers,

  • Perry Betts;
  • Brian Reynolds;
  • Michael Spicer;
  • Thomas Liciardello;
  • Brian Speiser; and
  • Lt. Robert Otto

were named in several Internal Affairs investigations and civil rights lawsuits alleging the use of excessive force, false arrests, and filing false reports.

Unsurprisingly, the shit has now hit the fan. Yesterday, the District Attorney withdrew charges against two men who’d been charged with drug dealing — all because of the lying liars of the Narcotics Unit.

From today’s Inquirer:

Two men accused of drug dealing had charges against them dropped Thursday after their attorney told a judge that five Philadelphia antinarcotics officers involved in their case had “partnered with drug dealers” in crime.

According to the article, defense attorney Larry Krasner argued to Judge Charles Hayden that:

“There was a group of police officers who essentially partnered with certain drug dealers, and they partnered with those drug dealers to do things that were both illegal and outright crimes.”

The Assistant District Attorney Bret Furbur remarked:

 “[T]he [District Attorney’s] office, my higher-ups, have informed me the case is going to be withdrawn.”

Naturally, it logically follows that the DA realized there was a substantial credibility issue with the narcotics unit officers. Further, it makes sense that when you’re trying get convictions (as ADAs are wont to do), it helps to call witnesses who are believable. Since these officers proved wholly unreliable, why would the DA want to call them as witnesses any longer?

But instead of noting that maybe, just maybe, FOP5 should raise the bar and suggest that their officers take that oath to tell the truth seriously, McNesby points the finger at District Attorney Seth Williams:

“[District Attorney Seth Williams] has no idea how to run the office. He doesn’t know the ramifications of what he’s done. He’s not just gotten these guys transferred, he’s tarnished their careers.”

He must have a variation on Tourette syndrome, where the afflicted impulsively says stupid things all the time. He just can’t help himself! Blaming the DA for FOP5 officer’s poor conduct that renders them incredible — now that’s really incredible.

After I shook my head in disbelief for a few minutes, I decided to put fingers to keyboard and pen this open letter.

Dear John:

I think you might find that the officers’ “tarnished careers” is the result that they’re 1) lying under oath; 2) the DA’s office realizes they’re lying under oath; 3) they’re constantly being sued under §1983 for civil rights violations; and 4) they’re all the subject of several IAB investigations.

Oh, John, reputations are important. When you have a reputation for being a dirty cop who does whatever he can to get a conviction, well, that kind of taint is difficult to remove. But these reputations don’t just appear out of thin air — they’re earned and well-deserved.

And when an officer’s reputation is such that even the DA doesn’t believe them anymore — well, that’s it’s not the DA’s fault. In fact, I’m pretty certain that DA Williams knows exactly what he’s doing by refusing to use them. He should be commended by refusing to rely on officers with combustible pants.

Maybe — just maybe — this will teach other officers out there a lesson. When you swear to tell the truth and the whole truth, you do it. When you swear an oath to preserve and uphold the law and our constitution, you do it.

Sure, I understand that you’re the president of FOP5, and since it’s an elected position you have a reputation to upkeep among the members. But your reputation with the citizenry, at this point, is nil. And you’re not helping the public perception of the PPD as working to protect their own first, the public second.

When you rush to defend even the worst of the police force, you tarnish the best of FOP5 as well.

So next time you point your finger at the DA for refusing to call dirty cops to the stand, think about where blame really lies.

Or just keep saying stupid things; you seem to excel at that.

In the meantime, Mr. Williams, keep doing the right thing.

[Ed. — Defense attorney Michael Coard, in his article “The 4 Most Annoying White People in Philadelphia” has the following to say about Mr. McNesby, which made me chuckle:

He wants all criminals jailed forever. So who’s gonna wear the blue uniforms, drive the white cars and beat the black people up when the good cops’ shifts end?]


Six narcotics police transferred because even the DA doesn’t believe their testimony.

December 6, 2012

Six narcotics police transferred because even the DA doesn’t believe their testimony.

File the following statement by FOP president John Mc Nesby under “irony” or “taste of own medicine”:

John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, said that the transfers were based on “unfounded accusations” by the District Attorney’s Office and that the allegations should have been investigated first.

“When you’ve got an aggressive group of officers, you’re going to have people who aren’t happy,” McNesby said. “These guys took a lot of guns off the streets, took a lot of drugs off the streets. They did a lot of good work for the city.

Right, John. Because the “good work” they do means that they should be able to run roughshod over the rights of the citizens of the city. Enforcing “the law” is paramount — everyone else be dammed. Truth, Justice, and the American Way? Those are for some big blue boy scout in tights.

Besides, it’s not like they ever threatened anyone’s life while in the line of duty, right?

When the officers caught up to him, Conolly said, he got out of the car with hands raised, but [the officers] threw him to the ground and choked, kicked, and punched him as he yelled for help. [Officer] Liciardello, he said, put a gun to the back of [Connolly’s] head and told him, “We are the cops. If you don’t shut up, I will put a . . . bullet in your head.”

The article finishes with this gem:

McNesby has maintained the innocence of those officers.”It’s a sad day,” he said, “when you have the criminals in the city dictating where cops are going to be working.”

No, John. It’s a sad day when police feel and act like they’re above the law they’re sworn to uphold. And last I checked, it was the District Attorney’s Office that didn’t want to call these officers any longer because they’re lying liars:

According to multiple sources, the District Attorney’s Office recently informed Ramsey that prosecutors no longer wanted to call the officers to testify in drug cases. Those sources said the District Attorney’s Office had determined that the officers’ credibility was too badly damaged.

By the way, these are the officers who are no longer credible:
Transferred to the center city district:
  • Perry Betts
  • Brian Reynolds
  • Michael Spicer
  • Thomas Liciardello
  • Brian Speiser were transferred to Center City districts or the traffic unit.

Transferred to South Detectives:

  • Lt. Robert Otto

Want to be Pulled Over? Sign up for Philadelphia’s S.A.V.E Program.

December 4, 2012
You have rights. These books say so.

You have rights. These books say so.
They are precious. Don’t sign them away.

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

These wise words attributed to founder Benjamin Franklin are too often lost on many today who figure “Well, I’m not doing anything wrong, so why shouldn’t I just agree to let police do whatever they want?”

And I thought on Franklin’s words today, after I learned about this little program here in Philadelphia called S.A.V.E. — a too-cute acronym for Stolen Auto Verification Effort. Let me explain this program to you. No, better yet, I’ll let the police explain it to you:

All Districts in the city still do the S.A.V.E. (Stolen Auto Verification Effort) program….

The SAVE program is a decal you put on your automobile that basically states that you don’t normally drive your vehicle late at night (between 12am and 6am). By putting this decal on your vehicle you are stating that you would like that vehicle to be pulled over if it is seen operating during those hours to ensure that the vehicle isn’t stolen.

Yes, you’re reading that right. It is literally a sign to the police that says “Please pull me over”. Read the rest of this entry »


Will You Be My Friend? — Young Lawyer Edition.

November 20, 2012

“No.”

People hate lawyers. That’s the trope at least.

The fact of the matter is, though, that at some point in your legal career, someone will hate you. And their hate will run so deep that they have to tell others just how much you’re a terrible shark/shyster/scumbag/bottomfeeder.

Now, back in the days before the series of tubes, it took a while for these whisper-down-the-lane rumors to be spread about town. But now, in the age of the internet, no one knows you’re a dog. And even internet dogs can type mean things.

There recently appeared in this blog’s comments a scathing rebuke of our firm by a person whose real name, IP address, email address, and Facebook account, I will mercifully redact. Note: I have never represented this person, nor have I ever met them, as far as I know.

Image

While looking up a local bar’s phone number, I noticed an identical negative review on the Google Places page for my firm. There was a different (::cough:: fictitious ::cough) name used, but the similarities are striking:

Image

In all fairness, his dog wanted custody over his bitch’s puppies, and I don’t do family law.

Webber Calvan? Really? That’s not even a good fake name. “Maxx Hornball,” now, that would have been funny.

But thanks to the wonders of the internet and my powerful investigative skills, I’ve determined that attempted-blog-commenter a.k.a non-client reviewer “Webber Calvan” is the friend of an opposing party in a case where I’m counsel. Swell.

Note: This is the second time I’ve had non-parties to litigation personally attack me or my firm’s online reputation. I presume that it will continue to happen from time to time.

When I first read the comment on my blog — which was never actually posted to it because we moderate all comments — I simply laughed it off. Then I saw it was posted on my former Google Places page, and I thought a bit more about whether to respond. What better platform than Twitter to take a quick poll?

Image

Popehat offered sage advice: “The negative review is self-evidently stupid. Hellfire likely to generate Streisand Effect. Prudence, not grace.”

So here’s my prudent response: That old saying “you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs” — the legal equivalent of that is “you can’t do a good job as a lawyer without pissing some people off.”

Young lawyers, you will find that you make enemies as you continue in your legal careers. One day it might be a judge. Another day, it might be the prosecutor. Some days, you might irritate some person who thinks it’s a bright idea to try to write negative reviews about you on the internet.

You know what? Lawyers make friends on the weekends.

So, Mr/Ms “Weber Calvan,” to use the words of a wise French statesman:

I don’t want to talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal food trough wiper! I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!


Breaking Bad Star Stopped and Frisked by LAPD at Gunpoint.

June 15, 2012

Breaking Bad Star Stopped and Frisked by LAPD at Gunpoint.

Reasonable suspicion that he was smuggling meth in his buckets of batter? Le sigh. 


Occupy Philly Wells Fargo 14 – Guilty of Defiant Trespass & Conspiracy

June 14, 2012

I am beyond disappointed with the verdict in Commonwealth v. Wells Fargo 14, where the defendants were found guilty of Defiant Trespass and Conspiracy to Commit Defiant Trespass.

For those of you who were lucky enough to sit on and see the trial, you understand when I say that the testimony in the case was some of the most moving words I’ve heard in a long time. These guys have passion, fire, and a resolve to fight injustice that I see rarely these days. I am honored to have helped represent them alongside some of the finest civil rights and defense attorneys in the city.

I’m glad that this case was so integral and important to protect the safety of the citizens of Philadelphia that the DA took the time to get the charges right in their press release.

In case it gets corrected in the meantime, here’s the full text below:

Guilty Verdicts for “Occupy Wells Fargo” defendants

By 

June 13, 2012,  Commonwealth v. “Occupy Wells Fargo” defendants: Gina Apuzzo, Michael Blas, Anthony Abata, Larry Swetman, Alan Sable, Keil Troisi, Aaron Troisi, Dustin Slaughter, Willard Johnson, Justin Audia, Justin Murphy and Adam Hill were all found guilty of Disorderly Conduct and Conspiracy charges today. On November 18, 2011, a large group of protesters gathered at the 17th and Market Street branch of Wells Fargo Bank. These 12 protesters entered the bank lobby, sat down, linked arms, chanted and kept customers from accessing the bank. Despite being allowed to protest for over an hour, these individuals refused to leave, requiring multiple police officers to separate and detain them, all as the crowd chanted “shame” at the officers. The Honorable Marsha Niefield fined all twelve defendants each $500. This case was successfully prosecuted by Stacy Hughes of the Central Division Bureau.

I understand the appeal was filed this morning. I can’t wait.