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



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How A Marietta Lawyer Blew Open a GM Scandal

"Although attorneys are often justly lampooned, litigation has been more effective at shaping responsible business practices than government. It’s why trucks beep when they back up and farm machinery comes equipped with safety guards, why asbestos no longer poisons homes, schools and workplaces, and fast-food restaurants, aware of their super-sized liability, convinced meat packagers to clean up processing plants. When juries speak, Corporate America listens."






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Georgia Taxpayers Cough Up $700,000 For Police Mischief

Georgia taxpayers will be shelling out almost three-quarters of a million dollars for the wrongful arrests (malicious prosecution) of some Morrow restaurant workers, reports the Fulton Daily Report. And it's not the first time that this officer has cost the taxpayers to open their wallets:

The city of Morrow has paid $700,000 to settle a malicious prosecution suit stemming from a midnight police raid during which a restaurant manager and her fiancé, an attorney, were handcuffed and jailed for nearly three days after being charged with nearly two dozen code violations.

The citations were all eventually dismissed but the raid, part of an alleged "campaign of harassment" against Cheerleaders Sports Café, was successful: The club never reopened following the arrests.

The settlement, reached late last year, was the last of three involving a now-departed police detective whose flawed arrests cost the city's insurer at least $950,000. One of the other two cases settled for $250,000, and another case—in which the insurer represented the officer, not the city—settled confidentially.

Police generally enjoy something called "qualified immunity" which means they are personally immune from most suits.  When they have to pay, it's not the police officers themselves that pay up; it's the taxpayer.  Thus, police have little personal incentive to behave.  They have "no skin in the game," to put it another way.  Some sort of limited liability for wrongdoing - even if capped at a single year's salary - would probably work to reduce problems like this case and save taxpayers millions of dollars.

At least one federal circuit has stepped in the right direction.

More mischief:

Cops Raid Home; Find Fruit





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Sex Offender Registers His Registerers

A convicted sex offender forced to join a sex offender registry is fighting back by creating his own registry, reports the Washington Post:

If nothing else, Dennis Sobin is not your typical ex-con.

At first glance, he looks like the model returning citizen: After serving more than a decade in prison, Sobin, 70, returned to the District, started a gallery for prison art and ran for mayor. 

His nonprofit organizations have received grants from George Soros’s Open Society Institute and the National Endowment for the Arts and, in 2010, he appeared on the cover of the Washington City Paper .

But Sobin is also sex offender. A former pornographer who’s appeared on “The Sally Jesse Raphael Show” and “Geraldo,” Sobin was convicted of sexual performance using a minor in 1992 in Florida.

So, every 90 days, Sobin must report to D.C.’s Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA), and his photo appears on D.C.’s public registry.

Sobin thinks it’s unfair. So, for his latest act, Sobin has decided to protest his treatment by creating his own online data base and registering the people who monitor him at the sex offender registry.

Now, in an unusual case that will be heard on Tuesday, a D.C. Superior Court judge will decide whether a court employee can file a civil protection order to prevent Sobin from posting her photo on his anti-registry registry, www.idiotsregistry.info , and distributing her photograph on fliers.

“Here at www.IdiotsRegistry.info you will find the names of politicians and public figures who have encouraged the creation of, or have refused to denounce, government registration websites that target citizens for harassment,” Sobin’s site reads. “In the tradition of Nazi registration of Jews and Gypsies and the Salem lists of alleged witches, modern government registries are unfair and un-American.”

So basically Sobin is calling out the government employees and naming names.  Bad names. 

“Face of Evil: ‘Registry Specialist’ Stephanie Gray shoots icy stare,” Sobin posted under a photo of Gray. “Gray requested and received a transfer due to the guilt she felt in her loathsome job.”

Gray sued. 

“He writes derogatory information about me,” Gray wrote in her request for a protection order. “I have been move[d] from the Sex Offender Registry and he continues to trash the bldg. where I am with pictures he has taken of me without me knowing.”

I fail to see the problem.  As far back as the founding of this country, the Founding Fathers disparaged the hell out of each other.  A quick internet search will reveal the legendary back-and-forth between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.  ("A mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father," the Adams campaign wrote of Jefferson.)

I'm sure Ms. Gray loves her cushy government job, but as a public servant in the public eye, her activities are more open to public scrutiny than a person in non-government employment.  If we can't use the First Amendment to call out public employees, what good is it?


 F*ck The Police, She Said

The Bird is Free Speech



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Alpharetta Pol Beats DUI

An Alpharetta official has beaten a DUI, reports the AJC

An Alpharetta city councilman has been acquitted on charges he drove drunk with his son in his car.
Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik was the only reporter in the courtroom Friday when Judge Patsy Porter handed down her decision. 
She ruled the officer who arrested Michael Cross didn’t have probable cause because he didn’t witness Cross driving erratically and because he detained Cross first, then asked questions later.

But here is the important part: 

Martin said Cross refused to take a breath test or submit to a state-issued blood test, but that he believed Cross’ “manifestations” were consistent with someone driving under the influence.

The government does everything it can to convince you and me to take these tests, even threatening to suspend our driver's license when we don't.  But when a cop, or attorney, or politician get accused of DUI, they usually refuse the tests.  So should you.

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Do Homeless People Have The Same 2nd Amendment Rights As Homeowners?

Do Homeless People Have The Same 2nd Amendment Rights As Homeowners?

Recent 2nd Amendment cases have focused on citizens' right to keep firearms in their homes.  But what if you don't have a home?  Do you still have 2nd Amendment rights?

If you don't have a home, you still have your other rights (free speech, free expression, free press, religion, etc), but what about firearms?  Does the 2nd Amendment apply to a person or to that person's residence?  Is the 2nd Amendment limited only to those citizens wealthy enough to own a home?  Why should homeless people be denied the Constitutional right to defend themselves as is enjoyed by homeowners?

A Boston case may answer the question: 


So there are two questions here.  First, does the Second Amendment cover stun guns?  Most people think of firearms when they think of the Second Amendment, but the Amendment says "arms" not "firearms."  That means the Amendment covers all sorts of arms, possibly including stun guns.

The second issue is whether a right to keep "arms" in your "home" confers to homeless people the right to keep arms on their person (since they have no home). 

Noticeably absent here is the ACLU.  They claim to be the defender of the Bill of Rights and are frequent advocates for the homeless, but when it comes to the Second Amendment, the ACLU wants to pretend it doesn't exist.  Why?

Considering how the Supreme Court has dodged the issue of Second Amendment jurisprudence for almost a century, it's an exciting time for court watchers.  A 200+ year old right is being defined as we go. 

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Can Pregnant Georgia Teens Marry Without Parental Consent?

Can Pregnant Georgia Teens Marry Without Parental Consent?

At least once per month I have to explain to someone that pregnant teens in Georgia can NOT get married without parental consent.  They seem shocked.  They cite all the other people who have told them otherwise.  Maybe they have a friend whose parents did or maybe an aunt or uncle who did.  So why can't they?

The answer is Lisa Lynette Clark, pictured above.  In 2005, Ms. Clark became pregnant at 37 by her 15-year-old boyfriend.  After becoming pregnant, she and the father of her child got married using the "pregnancy exception" in Georgia law which allowed pregnant teens (or teen parents) to get married without parental consent.  The mother of the 15-year-old was livid.  It made national news

It also got the attention of Georgia lawmakers.  House Bill 847 from 2006 removed the "pregnancy exception" from Georgia law that had allowed Clark and her teen lover to marry.  In other words, being pregnant or having a child no longer allows teens to marry without parental consent as it once did.

So, Georgia teens, maybe Mom & Dad got married this way, maybe your aunt and uncle did, maybe your older sibling or cousin got married this way before 2006.  But it can't be done now.  Parental consent is still required for a minor to marry, pregnant or not. 

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Online Mugshots, Removal, and Georgia HB 150

Online Mugshots, Removal, and Georgia HB 150

One doesn't have to look very long on places like Avvo.com to find someone asking about removing a mugshot from public view on the internet.  There are dozens - if not more - mugshot websites that collect mugshots, names and charges from the various county jail websites all around the country and repost them.  Once reposted, the websites wait for someone to contact them asking the picture to be removed.  The websites will remove them, for a fee, but nothing prevents another website from opening up tomorrow and republishing the same picture. 

In what is really a toothless attempt to look like they are doing something, the Georgia legislature passed a mugshot removal act, House Bill 150.  HB 150 purports to require removal of mugshots for free, upon request, for people who fall into certain categories:

(i) Access to his or her case or charges was restricted pursuant to Code Section 35-3-37;
(ii) Prior to indictment, accusation, or other charging instrument, his or her case was never referred for further prosecution to the proper prosecuting attorney by the arresting law enforcement agency and the offense against such individual was closed by the arresting law enforcement agency;
(iii) Prior to indictment, accusation, or other charging instrument, the statute of limitations expired;
(iv) Prior to indictment, accusation, or other charging instrument, his or her case was referred to the prosecuting attorney but was later dismissed;
(v) Prior to indictment, accusation, or other charging instrument, the grand jury returned two no bills;
(vi) After indictment or accusation, all charges were dismissed or nolle prossed;
(vii) After indictment or accusation, the individual pleaded guilty to or was found guilty of possession of a narcotic drug, marijuana, or stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic drug and was sentenced in accordance with the provisions of Code Section 16-13-2, and the individual successfully completed the terms and conditions of his or her probation; or
(viii) The individual was acquitted of all of the charges by a judge or jury.

Note that O.J. Simpson would qualify for removal under the Georgia law following his acquittal for murder, and the removal would be from the view of ALL viewers, not just Georgia viewers.  Since when does any state have the authority to decide what the other 49 states can see on the internet?

Here's the first problem with HB 150:  most of these companies aren't in Georgia and many aren't even in the United States.  So what you have is a Georgia company trying to tell an out-of-state company what they can and can't publish to people inside and outside of Georgia.  It would be like Georgia trying to censor the New York Times website from viewers in Kansas. 

Speaking of the NYT, they recently covered the issue themselves:

The trick is balancing the desire to guard individual reputations with the news media’s right to publish. Journalists put booking photographs in the same category as records of house sales, school safety records and restaurant health inspections — public information that they would like complete latitude to publish, even if the motives of some publishers appear loathsome.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press favors unfettered access to the images, no matter how obscure the arrestee and no matter the ultimate disposition of the case. Even laws that force sites to delete images of the exonerated, the committee maintains, are a step in the wrong direction.

“It’s an effort to deny history,” says Mr. Caramanica, the committee director. “I think it’s better if journalists and the public, not the government, are the arbiters of what the public gets to see.”

Another problem is that the mugshots are TRUE.  The people really were arrested and charged.  The mugshot websites aren't saying they were convicted (and some of them weren't), but there's no disputing that the arrest happened. 

Mugshot websites are able to do what they do only because Georgia sheriffs post pictures of arrestees online BEFORE they are convicted.  By the time the charges are dismissed, the mugshot websites have already scooped up the mugshot.  If Georgia wants to bring this practice to a halt, they need to limit the abilities of the Sheriffs to post mugshots before conviction.

I suggest you don't waste your money paying for one of the 80+ mugshot sites to remove your mugshot, because it's just going to pop up on another one tomorrow.

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Former Atlanta Braves Outfielder Otis Nixon Arrested - Again

Former Atlanta Braves Outfielder Otis Nixon Arrested - Again

Yahoo News reports that former Atlanta Braves outfielder Otis Nixon has been arrested for drugs in Cherokee County:

Nixon was pulled over just after midnight Saturday after another driver called police to report a Dodge Ram truck weaving all over the road, according to an incident report from the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office. The 54-year-old remained in jail Monday afternoon on $11,880 bond.

Officers found a pipe for smoking crack cocaine in Nixon's pants pocket and found a suspected crack rock in the driver's seat, the report says. They later found another pipe and more suspected crack rocks in the floor board of the driver's side, as well as other paraphernalia.

A sheriff's deputy arrested Nixon on charges of possession of cocaine and possession of a drug-related object. It wasn't immediately clear Monday whether Nixon had a lawyer.

Nixon told officers he was driving a friend home and didn't believe he was weaving. He told the sheriff's deputy that the substance officers found in the car was crack cocaine but said the pipes and drugs belonged to his son and that he had been planning to get rid of the pipe.

Officers conducted field sobriety tests and determined Nixon wasn't under the influence of crack cocaine or alcohol.

During my tenure as a Gwinnett County Assistant District Attorney, I prosecuted Mr. Nixon for an Aggravated Assault charge at a low-rent Gwinnett hotel, which I recall as stemming from a dispute over crack cocaine.

Mr. Nixon was very pleasant and friendly in court.  He was respectful and conducted himself with humble decorum, gladly signing autographs for a few court personnel.  He appeared then to be a good person dealing with a very bad drug addiction, and he knew it. 

But that was then and this is now.  I wish him well.

TMZ has the story.

AJC has the story.

MDJ has the story.

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Private Property, Fines, and Security Guards

Private Property, Fines, and Security Guards

If you or I were to grab another human being against their will, handcuff them, drive them across town, and throw them into a cage, we would be charged with Kidnapping and face serious prison time.  When a police officer does the very same thing, he's just doing his job.  It's called an "arrest."

What's the difference?  The difference is that the police officer is P.O.S.T. (Police Officer Standards & Training) certified.  They are essentially a legal arm of the State of Georgia. These officers spend what probably seems like an eternity in Forsyth, Georgia (the city, not the county) earning the authority the State will give them.  Only the State of Georgia can grant these powers to officers.  No other governing body can do so. 

Regardless of where officers work, their authority comes not from their employer but from the State itself.  So when you get pulled over by an officer of the City of Somewhere, Georgia, that officer has the authority to do so not because the City of Somewhere says so, but because the State of Georgia says so.  The City of Somewhere is just his employer.  Being P.O.S.T. certified means that officers can do many of the things that would land the rest of us behind bars. 

Unfortunately, there are people an organizations out there who think they can play cop.  WSBTV Channel 2 has found a local homeowners association (HOA) that thinks they can outfit security guards with uniforms and flashing lights and write people tickets for infractions.  Their claim, of course, is that it's private property and they can do what they want: 

They use lights, sirens, and even write traffic tickets, but they aren't real police officers. Channel 2 producers went undercover to catch the activity on video.

"If I was to stop a motor vehicle with lights in my car, I would be on my way to jail," said resident T.J. Ward.

Ward believes the security officers are impersonating real ones. He has been a certified police officer for 40 years.

"A private individual can't make a traffic stop and security officers are private individuals. The only person that can stop a motor vehicle is a law enforcement officer," said Ward.

Ward got pulled over a few years ago, which launched a heated exchange with his HOA. In a letter, the neighborhood's property manager wrote in part, "The decision by individuals to stop for security personnel is purely voluntary, given their understanding of homeowner responsibility to comply with all rules promulgated by the association."

Good for Mr. Ward!  Your local shopping mall security guards can't start issuing speeding tickets to shoppers.  Your bank can't hold you hostage until you pay your mortgage.  Your credit union can't hold your child hostage until you pay your car note.  Your doctor can't cut off your finger for not paying your bill.  A private HOA can't fine you for offending their rules.  Would parking in front of the sign pictured above give the landowner the right to shoot you?  Of course not.  All the signs in the world does not make an illegal act into a legal one.

This HOA is flirting with disaster.  Some smart lawyer is going to spank them the first time one of these security guards goes too far when someone doesn't stop and the "cop" chases the person into an accident where someone gets hurt or killed. 

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Top Six Tips To Understanding Lawyers & Clients

Top Six Tips To Understanding Lawyers & Clients

My former law professor Pam Reeves of Knoxville wrote this piece about how clients and their lawyers can best work together to get the most out of the attorney-client relationship. It's a great article and over a decade old, but also timeless:

A Few Tips To Help You Understand Lawyers, by Pam Reeves

I am convinced that if Dickens were writing "A Christmas Carol" today, Scrooge's character would be a lawyer. No other occupation seems to bring out the bad jokes or the "bah humbug" attitude as quickly. Lawyers have long since resigned themselves to the sad fact that they seldom are loved. However, I am convinced that lawyers are poorly regarded because people often don't understand the role of the lawyer within the legal system. Here are a few tips which may help you appreciate your lawyer.

  1. Lawyers have ethical responsibilities which may prevent them from doing everything you might wish them to do. Yes, I've heard all the jokes about lawyers and ethics or the lack thereof, but lawyers really can't always ask vindictive questions or let you testify to something just to get it off your chest. Clients frequently want revenge. Courts exist to provide justice, not revenge. Even though we are your lawyers, we are still officers of the court.
  2. Lawyers have different styles and approaches. It is important to feel comfortable with the lawyer who is handling your case. If your personality styles do not match, chances are good that you will not be happy, even if the lawyer is doing an excellent job on your case. Many times an insurance company may provide your lawyer, and you may not have a choice. If there are problems, discuss your concerns. If you can't resolve the situation, suggest that another member of the firm might be better. If you really can't communicate, speak to the insurance adjuster who is handling the file.
  3. Lawyers aren't cheap - at least the good ones aren't - but don't be shy about discussing financial arrangements. Find out what it costs, when it's going to cost and why. Find out if your lawyer bills in tenths or quarters of an hour. Ask for a written contract detailing the fee agreement. If the lawyer charges a retainer, find out if the retainer is nonrefundable. Lawyers often charge flat amounts or nonrefundable retainers. That may seem harsh, but an attorney who takes a case must reserve enough time to competently handle the case and that attorney also forfeits the possibility of representing any other party involved in the case.
  4. Avoid calling your lawyer every single day. People involved in the legal system are often insecure and need information. Lawyers want to help, but it is better if you call occasionally with a list of questions rather than become the person who causes the receptionist to roll her eyes and head immediately to voice mail. You are being charged by the minute for these questions, so don't be surprised when you get a bill for hand-holding.
  5. Lawyers don't make the facts or the law. If you have a strong case, lawyers can do wonders but, unfortunately, not all clients have winning cases. Ask your attorney for a realistic appraisal of your case. Consider a realistic resolution, even if it's not everything you hoped for.
  6. Always tell your lawyer the truth. Nothing is worse than getting halfway through a case and finding out that the client has not been honest. President Clinton's lawyers can tell you that's a fact.

Finally, let me just say that most lawyers really aren't villains. Lawyers do more work for free than almost any profession. We also sponsor public education projects like the Mock Trial competition. If you eliminated all the lawyers from nonprofit groups around town, you'd find that alot of the best volunteers would be gone. So on behalf of lawyers everywhere, let me ask that for your new year's resolution, think twice before repeating another bad lawyer joke.

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Georgia General Assembly Awards Wrongfully Convicted Man $400,000

The Georgia Legislature has quietly awared wrongfully convicted Lathan Rydell Word a total of $400,000 for his eleven years spent in prison for a crime he didn't commit:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED AND ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GEORGIA that the Department of Administrative Services is authorized and directed to pay the sum of $400,000.00 to Mr. Lathan Rydell Word as compensation as provided above. Said sum shall be paid from funds appropriated to or available to the Department of Administrative Services and shall be in full and complete satisfaction of all claims against the state arising out of said occurrence. Said sum shall not be subject to state income taxes and shall be paid in the form of an annuity over a 20 year period with an initial lump sum payment of $100,000.00 and monthly payments thereafter. None of the funds provided by this resolution shall be used to pay attorney's fees if such fees are calculated on a contingency fee basis.

Mr. Word was wrongfully convicted of an Armed Robbery and sentenced to fifteen years in prison just as he was about to join the USMC.  After winning a new trial, he refused to plea guilty to time served and demanded a new trial, in which he was acquitted. 

I wish these things would get more publicity.  Out of a jury pool of 50, I will typically get at least 5 people willing to admit that they think anyone in court charged with a crime must be guilty of something.  They naively believe that there are filters in place to prevent innocent people from getting to trial, and that their job as jurors is little more than to rubber-stamp the indictment.  It is that sort of thinking that costs taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars down the line with the innocent person finally wins their freedom.  Jurors ARE the filter, and more of them need to realize it.

Note how the bill prohibits any of the award from being used to pay attorney fees.  By doing so, the legislature protects itself.  By prohibiting attorney fees, the legislation eliminates the financial incentive for attorneys to take these kinds of cases, which reduces the number of times the legislature has to deal with it, and makes it more difficult for people like Mr. Word to get the legal assistance he needs. 

The entire bill, including details about Mr. Word's case, can be found here.

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Public Buses in Athens Quietly Adding Microphones to Record Passenger Conversations


Do you ride a public bus in Athens? If you do, watch what you say. Big Brother is watching and listening to you:

The systems use cables or WiFi to pair audio conversations with camera images in order to produce synchronous recordings. Audio and video can be monitored in real-time, but are also stored onboard in blackbox-like devices, generally for 30 days, for later retrieval. Four to six cameras with mics are generally installed throughout a bus, including one near the driver and one on the exterior of the bus.  

Cities that have installed the systems or have taken steps to procure them include San Francisco, California; Eugene, Oregon; Traverse City, Michigan; Columbus, Ohio; Baltimore Maryland; Hartford, Connecticut; and Athens, Georgia.

 The Katz case from the 1960’s held that a person has a “reasonable expectation of privacy” even in a public telephone booth. (Yes, telephones used to be in booths, kids.) I wonder whether a court would hold a similar expectation of privacy in a public bus. Let’s say two people are sitting in the back of an otherwise empty bus discussing their campaign plans to run against a local Chief of Police. Can the local Chief listen in on their plans?

UPDATE:  As Andrew Fleischman reports, there are problems with recording public buses.

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Exciting change for Undocumented immigrant process

According to a recent CNN article, USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Service) has announced a welcome change as to how immigration petitions for undocumented immigrants are handled.

Currently, undocumented immigrants who filed petitions are not eligible to adjust status to permanent resident in the United States, and are forced to return to their native country to apply for an immigrant visa.This process could take up to a year, and families in this situation also faced the real possibility that if the immigrant visa application is denied, the undocumented immigrant would not be allowed to re-enter the US for up to 10 years. 

The new rule that will take effect allows undocumented immigrants to apply for the immigrant visa while remaining in the US, and if the visa is approved, the immigrant would still have to leave the US to finish up the process, but the separation time would be greatly reduced.

There are some limitations with this new rule so far.  The new rule only applies to undocumented immigrants who are immediate relatives (spouses, parents, children) of US citizens, but it still represents an exciting change that keeps families together while their case is pending.  If you have a family member in this situation, please call us



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Statistics Show that Criminals Target Each Other

Criminals target each other, trend shows.

Since the US murder rate is such a hot topic right now, let's remember that a vast majority of intentional homicides are between people who know each other and people who have criminal records. This is one of
the best reasons to avoid hanging out in the "wrong crowd" as we'll as avoiding BEing the "wrong crowd."

This is why I would often prefer to go to trial on a murder case than a DUI. With murders, there is almost always a history between the deceased and the accused. Often, but not always, they are mutually
engaged in some activity and having a dispute that they can't solve through the legal system. (One can't sue another for failing to pay for drugs, for example.)  Maybe the deceased initiated the conflict. Maybe the defendant acted in self-defense.

I often wonder how many fewer murders there would be from legalizing drugs. Buy/sell drugs on the courthouse steps. If there is a dispute over price or quantity, call the police. If it's not a police matter, file suit.

As always, if you find yourself on the wrong side of the criminal justice system, call us.


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Bail Set For Cobb Man Charged With Domestic Terrorism

WSTV reports that bail has been set for Bradley Clark, who is in trouble because

police found bizarre social media postings where Clark devoted himself to advocating the total destruction of the human race, with posts like, "We all deserve to die," and "People should just die."

I understand why police would be concerned, but I'm not sure from what the article contains that any crime has been committed.  It isn't a crime to have a bad attitude and to express yourself.   It's a crime to specifically threaten an identifiable person or identifiable group of people with the purpose of terrorizing them, but just saying you hate the world and everyone in it isn't a crime.  If that's a crime, there are lots of teenagers who are going to get arrested. 

Also, there's no crime called "Domestic Terrorism" in Georgia.  The closest thing is "Terroristic Threats and Acts". 

Section 16-11-37 of the Georgia Code reads: 

§ 16-11-37. Terroristic threats and acts; penalties 

(a) A person commits the offense of a terroristic threat when he or she threatens to commit any crime of violence, to release any hazardous substance, as such term is defined in Code Section 12-8-92, or to burn or damage property with the purpose of terrorizing another or of causing the evacuation of a building, place of assembly, or facility of public transportation or otherwise causing serious public inconvenience or in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror or inconvenience. No person shall be convicted under this subsection on the uncorroborated testimony of the party to whom the threat is communicated.

(b) A person commits the offense of a terroristic act when:

(1) He or she uses a burning or flaming cross or other burning or flaming symbol or flambeau with the intent to terrorize another or another's household;

(2) While not in the commission of a lawful act, he or she shoots at or throws an object at a conveyance which is being operated or which is occupied by pa

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AJC: Fulton County jail will get working cell locks

After years of stalling, the Fulton County Commission voted just before the holidays to go $5 million in debt to replace more than 1,300 substandard locks at the Fulton County Jail. 

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