A Village Named Tyranny

A Village Named Tyranny

A man in Connecticut has been cleared to continue his suit for being arrested for his response to a ticket:  

U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel in White Plains ruled last week that Willian Barboza's rights were violated when the Fairfield County, Connecticut, resident was arrested on an aggravated-harassment charge three years ago. The New York Civil Liberties Union publicized a transcript of the proceeding Tuesday.
Barboza protested his speeding ticket by writing three curse words on his payment form. He also replaced the village's name, Liberty, with "Tyranny."
The village, 100 miles northwest of New York City, refused to let him pay by mail after one of its clerks, who were all women, told a local judge his profane phrase, which referred to them as "bitches," upset and alarmed them, according to court records. The judge referred Barboza's speeding payment form to a prosecutor and ordered Barboza to appear in court.
When Barboza showed up, the local judge reprimanded him for his comments on the form and told him he would be arrested, Seibel said in her ruling. Barboza was handcuffed and taken away before his release on $200 bail.
Seibel said the arrest violated Barboza's First Amendment rights, and she noted the criminal charge eventually was dismissed on those grounds. She said Barboza's phrase was crude and offensive to some but "did not convey an imminent threat and was made in the context of complaining about government activity."

This is similar to the Amy Barnes case here in Cobb, where she was arrested for voicing her opinion and later received a hefty civil settlement.  What's different is that Mr. Barboza's statements were written and directed not at police but court personnel.  Nevertheless, no matter how crude his response, it is Constitutionally protected.  

But never forget one of the Steakley Golden Rules that just because something is Constitutional, that doesn't make it a good idea.  

Continue reading
6077 Hits

False Allegations, Arrests, Confessions and Convictions

False Allegations, Arrests, Confessions and Convictions

It's not a perfect system.  It is a system of people, and people make mistakes.  So the system is only as good as the people in it.  


False Allegations:  Sometimes the trouble starts when people accuse others of crimes that didn't happen.  It happens frequently, but the damage is greatest when the innocent person is accused of something like rape or child molestation.  An objective investigator can ferret out false allegations, but too often they presume the honesty of the "victim" without question.

  1. Student Arrested In False Sex Assault Report On Campus
  2. Woman Lied About Rape to Get Boyfriend Home from Military (But then they cut her a break.)
  3. Woman Cries Rape Because She Didn't Enjoy It
  4. ELEVEN False Rape Claims
  5. Campus Rape Claims Prove False
  6. Man Beaten To Death After False Rape Allegation.  Apparently, the cheating female didn't want to admit that the sex was consensual.
  7. Student Charged Over False Sexual Assault Accusation. 
  8. Woman Cries Rape Because Man Wouldn't Drive Her Home


False Arrests: False arrests aren't as bad as convictions, but they can be costly for taxpayers too.

  2. New York City Arrests, Prosecutes, Eventually Settles With Legal Knife Owner for $7500 (Note that his public defender told him to plea guilty even though he had committed no crime.
  3. Judge Looks Away While Officer Arrests Woman Accusing Him of Assault
  4. $25,000 For Woman Arrrested For Recording Police
  5. Connecticut Man Sues For Unconstitutional Arrest  because he wrote profanities on his ticket.
  6. Audio Recording Exonerates Uber Driver Falsley Accused Of Rape


False Confessions:  The easiest way to not be tricked into a false confession is to refuse to speak to the police at all.  But unfortunately, police are very good at getting people to talk.  So sometimes, false convictions are based on false confessions.  (Yes, people sometimes really do confess to things they didn't do.)

  1. The 5 Most Controversial False Confessions
  2. Why Do People Confess to Crimes They Didn't Commit?
  3. False Confession Sent An Innocent Man To Prison For 22 Years
  4. Why Do Innocent People Confess?
  5. List of False Confession News
  6. Famous False Confession Cases
  7. False Confessions Plague Criminal Justice System With Wrongful Convictions and Wrongful "Guilty" Pleas


False Convictions:  Here are a few articles I've collected about those who were wrongfully convicted of crimes they didn't commit.

  1.  Wrongly convicted man released from US prison after 39 years
  2. Man in prison 19 years freed after claim recanted
  3. Georgia General Assembly Awards Wrongfully Convicted Man $400,000
  4. The Staggering Number of Wrongful Convictions in America



Continue reading
4902 Hits

Judge Looks Away While Officer Arrests Woman Accusing Him of Assault

I love it when the police want to arrest someone so badly that they just fabricate a law on the spot.  Popular ones include "Obstruction of a Police Officer" when people won't answer the cop's questions or "failing to obey a police officer" when people won't do what the copy wants. 

This officer comes out with a good one:  "making false allegations toward a police officer" and then arrests her for accusing him of doing something wrong.  One would think that a sitting judge watching it happen might remind the officer that no such crime exists, but instead the judge just turns her head while a woman is arrested for something that isn't a crime.

Full story here.

Continue reading
4842 Hits

Ochocino Gets Thirty Days for a Butt Slap

Ochocino Gets Thirty Days for a Butt Slap

Former NFL start Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson accidentally earned himself 30 days of incarceration when he raised the ire of a Broward County judge by congratulating his attorney with a pat on the butt:

Johnson on Monday accepted a plea deal for violation of probation. The charge stemmed from his domestic battery conviction last year.

The plea deal he accepted extended his probation until Dec. 21.

"You better thank your lawyer. He did a great job for you," Broward Circuit Court Judge Kathleen McHugh told Johnson after he accepted the plea deal.

Johnson then slapped his attorney, Adam Swickle, on the butt. The courtroom erupted in laughter, but McHugh said she didn't think Johnson was taking his case seriously and rejected the plea deal.

The case was recalled, and after Johnson pleaded guilty to violation of probation, McHugh sentenced him. His probation was also extended to Dec. 21 and he must perform 25 hours of community service, two of the same terms included in the plea deal she rejected.

During his probation, Johnson must attend counseling twice a week.

Johnson apologized several times to McHugh, saying he didn't intend to disrespect her or the court.

Johnson worked in a sport where men routinely slap each other on the butt as a sign of congratulations.  Johnson's lawyer was a man.  He didn't seem offended.  Nevertheless, the judge was.  And that's all that matters.   

Continue reading
5165 Hits

$25,000 For Woman Arrrested For Recording Police

$25,000 For Woman Arrrested For Recording Police

In another installment of "Will They Never Learn?" the taxpayers of Salisbury, NC, have had to shell out money to an innocent woman wrongfully arrested for the completely legal act of recording the police in a public place: 

The case began in 2009 when Felicia Gibson maintained that Salisbury Police Officer Mark Hunter had no right to come into her house and arrest her as she watched an unrelated traffic stop take place in front of her house.

After two days of testimony Judge Beth Dixon ruled that Gibson was guilty in that she had interfered with Officer Hunter's ability to do his job in dealing with the traffic stop. Gibson had posted a video of the incident on YouTube.

. . .

The incident happened with a traffic stop near 819 W. Fisher St. The traffic stop was the end of a chase in which drugs and gun were found and two suspects ran from police.

At one point, Officer Mark Hunter notices people standing on the porch of Gibson's home, including Felicia Gibson, her father, and a neighbor, and orders them inside.

Hunter then arrested Gibson, charging her with resisting arrest and obstructing an officer.

In court during the original trial, Gibson's lawyer argued that only 10 seconds elapsed from Hunter's command for her to get in the house, and for him to cross the 40 feet from the street and arrest her.

The attorney said her constitutional rights were violated and that Gibson has a right to stand on her own front porch and watch police officers doing their jobs.

Agreed.  The settlement is a little small, but nevertheless it proves the point that arresting people for filming police in a public place is not a good idea for the police.

I have only one gripe, though:  I think any settlement should include mandatory re-training of the officers with required reading of A Due Process Right To Record the Police followed by a test on the subject.

Acknowledgments to Carlos Miller of Photography Is Not A Crime for alerting me to this.

If you have an iPhone, my iPhone app will allow you to record the police and send it to me before the police have a chance to snatch your phone and delete it.  Check it out. 

For Georgia cases, see Smith v. City of Cumming, 212 F.3d 1332 (11th Cir. 2000).

Don't miss a single post! To be alerted when a new blog post appears (about every other day or so), click on "Subscribe to Blog" near the top of this page.


Continue reading
9774 Hits

Mistrial for Cop Accused of Recording Judge in Maryland

This is outrageous.  Not only should it not be a crime for this officer to record his warrant applications, it should be REQUIRED that warrant applications be recorded for later review by higher courts.  I hope they never convict this officer of anything.

For Georgia cases, see Smith v. City of Cumming, 212 F.3d 1332 (11th Cir. 2000).

Continue reading
5337 Hits

Judge Investigated For Pre-Signing Warrants

Typically following an arrest, a police officer finds a judge who signs a document called an "arrest warrant" which creates the ability for the government to hold the accused pending further action. This guy was apparently signing blank warrants and letting the police fill them in later.

Read the full story from the Atlanta Journal-Constitutionhttp://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/judge-investigated-for-pre-signing-warrants-1/nRBbD/




Continue reading
5000 Hits