ELEVEN False Rape Claims

A woman in England has been arrested for making false rape allegations for the eleventh time:

Elizabeth Jones, 22, was exposed when CCTV footage disproved her allegation against a man she ‘did not like any more’.  She had made her first false rape claim in 2004 when she was just 13. . . . Between 2005 and 2007 she made another eight allegations which police investigated and dismissed. . . .   In 2009 she was sentenced to a ten-month detention and training order for a similar offense. 

Jones’s latest victim was a boyfriend against whom she made the allegation after the pair had an argument.  Police began an investigation after Jones . . . persuaded a friend to report she had been assaulted.

So not only does she fool the cops, she fools her friends.

She later went to the police station for a medical examination and repeated her allegation. The man was arrested and questioned for nine hours before being released without charge.  Prosecutor Jennie Rickman said he denied rape and detectives later viewed CCTV covering part of the house in which Jones claimed to have been attacked.  The video did not support her story that the man forced himself on her.

So because she screams rape and puts on a show, some poor guy gets arrested, booked, photographed, fingerprinted, and interrogated for nine straight hours.   That's the sort of thing that leads to innocent peple making  false confessions just to get the cops off their back.

What if the CCTV footage hadn't existed?  It wouldn't just be her word against his, because these medical examinations almost always find a way to support the accuser.  It's usually some weasel words like "the medical findings are consistent with the patient's accusations" or are "not inconsistent with sexual assault."  Jurors latch on to that as proof of rape, even when the medical evidence is just as consistent with consensual sex.

I feel sorry for any man accused of rape, because they don't get fair trials. I've tried several rape cases in my career, and I'm always amazed at how closed-minded some potential jurors are. I've had potential jurors say, "A woman would never lie about being raped" and they mean it.  I guess these people have never heard of the Runaway Bride

It's tough for a man accused of rape to get a fair trial.  Men accused of rape or any other sexual offense need to make sure they have an experienced attorney on their side before walking into the courtrom.  

-John

UPDATE:  Here's another example of an innocent man accused of rape because the "victim" didn't want to confess to consensual sex with her friend's boyfriend.

Ashleigh Loder, 25, wasted at least 100 hours of police time by inventing the assaults.  She first told officers she had been attacked by two strangers in an alley before changing her story to say a man she knew had forced her to have sex in her home.

In the UK, there's more aggressive prosecution of false claims than in the US.  Note, though, that this article is written to complain about the prosecution of false claims, not applaud it.


UPDATE II:  To make the double standard worse, we have people like Zerlina Maxwell arguing that any woman claiming rape should be automatically believed.  That's the attitude men are up against in court.

 

Famous False Confession Cases

 

Woman Cries Rape Because She Didn't Enjoy It

 

False Confessions Plague Criminal Justice System With Wrongful Convictions and Wrongful "Guilty" Pleas

 

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Judge Calls Civil Forfeiture "State-Sanctioned Theft"

Judge Calls Civil Forfeiture "State-Sanctioned Theft"

A judge has said out loud what most lawyers already know:  civil forfeiture is legalize theft.

In the forfeiture case, the state wanted to seize Gregory Palazzari’s gas station in State College, Pa., for allegedly being a storage and selling place for cocaine. Palazzari pled guilty to drug trafficking charges, but argued that the gas station should not be forfeited under the law. The government argued Palazarri was not entitled to a hearing in court to present evidence against the forfeiture.

It IS state-sanctioned theft. The photo in this post is an overhead view of a lot full of seized cars.  Most civil forfeiture cases begin with a drug case. Civil forfeiture cases are entirely separate cases with their own case numbers, court dates and rules. Sometimes they will have the same judge and prosecutors, but not always. You can lose your property even if you win the underlying criminal case. In fact, their doesn't even have to be an underlying criminal case. The police can take your property even if they can't prove you did anything wrong.

In this remarkable case from Tennessee, police seized $22,000 from a man simply because he couldn't prove where it came from. That's outrageous. Your money is your money. You shouldn't have to prove that you got it legitimately. Rather, the burden should be upon the government (police) to prove that you didn't.

If you get involved in a case like this, please don't try to handle it yourself. There are some deadlines and required filings that will kill your case if you miss them. Call us. We can help.

 

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Wireless Telephone Tapping

Wireless Telephone Tapping

In many criminal cases the police use "tapped" cellular telephone data to help build their case.  Unfortunately, this can sometime be done even without a warrant. 

"[T]he Senate voted to grant blanket immunity to companies like AT&T, which conspired with the NSA to monitor American digital conversations without government oversight after 9/11. Today's vote continues that immunity, and provides further carte blanche for the American intelligence-gathering apparatus. Phone calls, texts, and emails are all fair game—and a judge doesn't have to give the OK, so long as it's in the name of counterterrorism. Which is a very easy guise.

Read more here.

Compare this to the FBI's Carnivore program from the late 1990's. 

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Supreme Court Skeptical About DNA Collection

Supreme Court Skeptical About DNA Collection

There is no big DNA database containing the DNA sequence of every American.  What little DNA database their is was mostly collected from convicts and parolees.  So while police may collect an unknown DNA sample from a crime scene, they often can't link it to any specific person, unless that specific person has already committed a crime and is already in the database. 

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SWAT For All

SWAT For All

Over at the National Review Online, Deroy Murdock suggests that the real "gun control" we need is control of government guns:

Overarmed federal officials increasingly employ military tactics as a first resort in routine law enforcement. From food-safety cases to mundane financial matters, battle-ready public employees are turning America into the United States of SWAT.

Read the whole thing for some examples of SWAT Gone Wild. 

And of course, no discussion of SWAT and drug raids would be complete without Lindy's "No-Knock Raid" (NSFW or kids):

More:

City of Paragould Proposes Suspicionless Stops By Armed SWAT Agents

S.W.A.T.ting

 

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Arrests Made In Police Corruption Probe

The AJC is reporting that the feds are out and about rounding up officers in a federal corruption probe:

Federal prosecutors announced multiple arrests in a police corruption case today.

United States Attorney Sally Yates, at a 2 p.m. press conference, said 10 current or former law enforcement officers were arrested along with five civilians.

The officers were from the following agencies: DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office (2), DeKalb County Police Department (2), Forest Park (2), Atlanta Police Department (1), Stone Mountain (1), MARTA (1), and 1 federal contract worker.

Names and specific charges were not immediately released.

That's 10 so far, which seems small for a federal corruption case.  Then again, the roundup may not yet be over.  Every one of these guys is going to need a good criminal defense attorney. 

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Why Police Lie In Court

Why Police Lie In Court

In an interesting article in the New York Times, writer Michelle Alexander lays out examples of police lying under oath and to prosecutors about the circumstances (and legality) of arrests, even for small offenses.  What starts out sounding like another tired story about race and class offers up a much more compelling reason why police may not always tell the truth:  Money.

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Drug Dog's Nose is Good Enough

Drug Dog's Nose is Good Enough

One of the biggest abuses of power I regularly see is in the use of "drug dogs."  Police use a drug dog's "alert" to allow them to search places they normally can't legally search.  That's all well and good if the dog is reliable, but in this story we read about a drug dog that is right only 26% of the time!  That means that roughly three out of every four times the dog alerts, an innocent person is subjected to an illegal search.

But that's not legal is it?  Surely the courts wouldn't allow a dog that's wrong 75% of the time to be an excuse to ignore the Constitution?  Think again:

The nose of a drug-sniffing police dog is not so sharp, but it's good enough to support cocaine charges against Herbert Green.

. . .

Green's lawyer had argued that Bono's track record — drugs were found just 22 times out of 85 "alerts" by the dog — was so poor that police lacked probable cause to search Green's SUV.

. . . 

Bono "may not be a model of canine accuracy," Conrad wrote in an opinion filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Roanoke.

. . .

At a hearing earlier this month, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashley Neese defended the performance of the German shepherd.

In some cases where nothing was found after an alert by Bono, police later determined that drugs had been in the vehicle earlier, likely leaving an odor the dog was trained to detect, Neese said.

Taking those cases into account, Conrad found that Bono's accuracy rate was at least 50 percent.

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Civil Forfeiture: Guilty Until Proven Innocent?

Civil Forfeiture:  Guilty Until Proven Innocent?

I've been involved in many cases that include a civil forfeiture aspect, both as a prosecutor and a defense attorney.  Put simply, civil forfeiture is where the police seize property because they think it has been used in a crime.  The onus is on the owner of the property to prove their innocence or else the property is forfeited (turned over) to the government.  As found in Reason magazine:

Under civil forfeiture, police can seize property from people who are never convicted—much less charged with—a crime. Unlike criminal forfeiture, where the government must prove property was used in the commission of crime, civil forfeiture law presumes an owner’s guilt.

Civil forfeiture is a national problem. Law enforcement agencies seize millions of dollars worth of property each year with little or no due process for owners. In all but six states property owners are considered guilty until proven innocent. State law typically allows law enforcement to keep most or all of the proceeds from forfeiture—an enormous incentive to police for profit.

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Fake DUI Cases?

Fake DUI Cases?

Not everyone arrested and accused of something is guilty, even when the arresting officer is a decorated rising star.  Cops are human and make mistakes.  Sometimes they error on the side of arrest and "let the lawyers figure it out."  And then sometimes they are purposefully falsifying the whole thing:

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FBI Applicant Admits to Child Porn

Apparently, some people don't understand the "Investigation" part of "Federal Bureau of INVESTIGATION." 

Meet Dominick Pelletier.  While being interviewed for a job with the FBI, he admitted that he had child pornography on his home computer.  Not only did he not get hired, he would up with 80 months to serve in a federal prison without parole.  The dry opening of the Court of Appeals opinion is priceless: 

Federal investigative agents will tell you that some cases are hard to solve. Some cases require years of effort—chasing down false leads and reigning in flighty witnesses. Others require painstaking scientific analysis, or weeks of poring over financial records for a hidden clue. And some cases are never solved at all—the right witness never comes forward, the right lead never pans out, or the right clue never turns up.

This is not one of those cases. The defendant, Dominick Pelletier, admitted during a job interview with the FBI that he had pornographic pictures of children on his home computer. Instead of joining the FBI’s vaunted ranks, Pelletier was indicted for one count of possession of child pornography. After the district court denied two of his motions to suppress, Pelletier entered a conditional guilty plea and reserved the right to appeal the denial of the suppression motions. Finding no error, we affirm.

The lesson here is:  if you have child porn on your computer, don't tell anyone.  And especially don't tell the FBI.

-John

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Famous False Confession Cases

I've written elsewhere in the blog about false confessions, but most people don't realize there are some very famous cases involving false confessions, including the Lindbergh Baby, the Black Dahlia, the "Central Park Jogger" cases from the 1980's, and Atlanta's own John Mark Carr

Police are trained in getting people to talk.  Sometimes, they do their job too well, getting people to confess to things they didn't do.  Most people think of torture and physical abuse when they think about making someone admit to a crime they didn't commit, but police tactics can be much more subtle.

Using techniques as subtle as where they sit you in the room to more cliche techniques like "Good Cop / Bad Cop", police can often pressure people into talking.  "Pressure" may not even be the best word, as the initial attempt is usually to make the subject feel very comfortable and safe talking to the officer.

But how do the police give people the information the people need to sound guilty?  Police can, accidentally or intentionally, "seed" or "plant" facts and information into the conversation that the target picks up as their own information.  If it is a case that has been in the news, it's not hard to gleen facts or fill in blanks to make a story seem like it's coming from someone who was there for the crime.

False confessions lead to false guilty pleas.  Of the people exonorated by DNA, some of them pled guilty!  Why plea to a crime they know they didn't commit?  Often it is to avoid the death penalty or a lifetime in prison (as opposed to decades). 

The points to take from this are that just because someone confesses doesn't mean they are guilty.  Just because they plea guilty doesn't mean they are.  All this trouble starts with people talking to the police on their own without a lawyer present, so NEVER DO IT.

 

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The Sad Case of Lester Eugene Siler

The Sad Case of Lester Eugene Siler

Before I moved to Georgia in 2001, I was an Assistant District Attorney General in the Eighth Judicial District of Tennessee.  It is a sprawling 5-county district in two different time zones, but most of my work was in the largest county of Campbell.  When I say "large", I'm talking about maybe 45,000 people, or about 1/15th the size of Cobb County or Gwinnett County, and 1/20th the size of Fulton County of Dekalb County.  Everyone knows everyone else, pretty much.  There's one main high school, one Wal-Mart, one McDonalds.  You can't go to either without seeing someone you know.  So when I became a prosecutor, I already knew many of the cops and had gone to school with many of them. 

Not long after leaving the office five years later, news broke that five officers had been arrested for torturing a local small-time drug dealer named Lester Siler.  I didn't think much of it until I leared that there was a recording.  Apparently, Siler's wife had hidden a recorder when she saw the police approaching the house.  What happened next was awful and heartbreaking.  They threatened and mistreated Siler in order to get him to sign a form consenting to the search of his house, but in the recording you can already hear them beginning to search.

The police would later be arrested and prosecuted federally.  Most or all served prison time.  When I read the transcript of them torture and threaten a guy to sign a document consenting to a search of his house, I wonder in how many more "consent" searches and "voluntary" confessions that were actually the result of torture came across my desk? I have no idea.

Except for Siler's wife recording the event, no one would know about it.  I wouldn't be writing about Lester Siler and you wouldn't be reading about him.  It would be just another drug case where the police claim that the homeowner consented to a search of his home and signed a document saying so.    Even if Siler said otherwise, no one would have believed him.

If you have contact with the police in Georgia, record it.  It can't hurt, and it may help.

John

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City of Paragould Proposes Suspicionless Stops By Armed SWAT Agents

Someone had better talk some sense into this guy before he bankrupts the city with wrongful arrest lawsuits

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Some Cops Never Learn

Some Cops Never Learn

Man records police. Gets arrested. Gets $25,000 settlement. Same guy records same officers.  Gets arrested again.

Will they ever learn?  Recording the police doing their job in a public place isn't a crime.  In fact, it may enjoy a level of protection in the Constitution.  Check here for a recent article on the subject by me and a former law professor.
 
If you or anyone you know ever gets arrested for recording a police officer in public, call me immediately.

Better yet, use my iPhone App to do the recording so that it is sent to me immediately.

- John Steakley
 
Steakley Law - Stalnaker App Studios
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Former D.C. cop admits falsifying radar-camera testing records (Washington Times)

Former D.C. cop admits falsifying radar-camera testing records - Washington Times

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Cop Fired for Planting Dope Under Orders

Cop Fired for Planting Dope Under Orders

Just because someone gets arrested for having drugs in their car doesn't mean they had drugs in their car. 

Police Street Crimes Unit investigator Tim White is out of a job for swiping grass from an evidence locker and planting it at a residence to beef up the grounds for a search warrant application. Even more interesting, he says he did so on orders from a supervisor.

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St. Paul Cops Shoot Dog in Wrong-Door Raid, Force Handcuffed Kids to Sit Near the Corpse

<a href="http://reason.com/blog/2012/08/10/st-paul-cops-shoot-dog-in-wrong-door-rai">St. Paul Cops Shoot Dog in Wrong-Door Raid, Force Handcuffed Kids to Sit Near the Corpse</a>

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