Tag Archives: Courts

Media Sensationalism

What’s the problem with the splashy headlines and “experienced” legal analysis offered by our 24/7 media news cycle? How is it that Casey Anthony could be acquitted when talking heads and lawyers convicted her in the media?

Bombastic repetition of speculation and suspicion is no substitute for facts and evidence. After initial media reports, I suggest that the bombardment of the public with an unrelenting media campaign failed Caylee. The full-court-press media coverage created unrealistic expectations for jurors that the actual evidence and prosecutors could not match.

Jurors selected after consideration by both parties sit in a room and watch. They observe the attorneys, they carefully consider the witnesses and their testimony. Real people can differentiate between sonorous rhetoric and evidence. If you ask jurors whether a person should lose their life based on a circumstantial case, make sure your evidence is enough to make real people, regular folks comfortable with that choice. Lawyers tend to acquire tunnel vision.

Take it from one of the trial jurors…

One of the jurors in the Anthony case, Elizabeth Ford, told ABC News that the 51-year-old Grace was not fit for television.

“I think a lot of things she says fuel the fire and they’re based on nothing,” Ford said. “I’m obviously against making decisions based on just speculation and opinion.”

The media spectacle will live on after the spotlights shift to the next “criminal.” Casey Anthony is now marked. She will have trouble finding employment. She will be ostracized by family, former friends and the public. Regardless of how you feel about the trial, Casey Anthony may have avoided the death penalty, she did not avoid a life sentence to being a pariah. So, perhaps the media did win.



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Parental Responsibility

Parents jailed in school truancy crackdown

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A DeKalb County crackdown on school truancy has begun with the jailing of nine parents.

The parents were arrested Tuesday and appeared in jail uniforms Wednesday morning before Chief Recorders Court Judge R. Joy Walker to have bonds set.

Solicitor General Robert James said Tuesday’s sweep by representatives of his office, the district attorney, sheriff’s office and county police began as an effort to arrest 59 people who have not complied with earlier orders to get their children to school regularly or to participate in diversion programs.

“If children are not in school, teachers cannot teach,” James said.

Parents can be charged with educational neglect when a child has more than five unexcused absences in a school year. James said his office offers a diversion program for parents of children who exceed the limit and typically does not take a parent to court until there are at least 12 unexcused absences.

He said most of the parents who now face arrest have children who have missed 40 to 50 days of school.

James recently offered parents facing educational neglect charges two “amnesty days” to meet with authorities and avoid arrest. He said 39 parents responded to that offer.

Someone expects parents to take responsibility for their children. The HORROR! What next? Being required to talk to the children, too. 


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Wasteful Lawsuits: Felled by the Holy Spirit

Hmm…this guy needs a reality check! Churches are really the wrong targets. They don’t have deep pockets. Juries won’t feel more sympathy for an injured guy than for a church. And insurance companies really don’t pay off bad lawsuits.


Man moved by spirit of God sues church over injury

Associated Press
Published on: 07/10/08


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A man says he was so consumed by the spirit of God that he fell and hit his head while worshipping.

Now he wants Lakewind Church to pay $2.5 million for medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.

Matt Lincoln says he is suing after the church’s insurance company denied his claim for medical bills.

The 57-year-old has had two surgeries since the June 2007 injury but still feels pain in his back and legs.

He says he was asking God to have “a real experience” while praying.

Lincoln says he has fallen from the force of the spirit before but has always been caught by someone.

Lawyers for the church say other congregants saw him on the floor laughing after his fall. They say he failed to look out for his own safety.

as reported at ajc.com

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Bad Negotiation Tactics…

Ladies, this tactic will land you in jail, NOT with any satisfaction.

As reported in the Athens Banner Herald:

Story updated at 10:36 PM on Wednesday, May 7, 2008

An Athens woman used a gun Tuesday to make a one-sided settlement with her estranged husband, Athens-Clarke police said.

Ben Russell, 59, of Nicholson, agreed to meet his wife about 11 a.m. at her home on Honeytree Drive to exchange marital property, police said, but Patsy Ann Russell pulled a gun and wouldn’t let her husband leave until 1:45 p.m.

During that time, the woman forced her husband – a self-employed insurance salesman – to call his girlfriend and fire her as his employee, police said.

“Then he had to agree to sell his girlfriend’s car and put the proceeds into the children’s trust fund,” Athens-Clarke police Capt. Clarence Holeman said. “That’s when she allowed him to leave.”

Ben Russell went to police headquarters on Lexington Road to make a complaint, and officers arrested Patsy Russell, also 59, on charges of aggravated assault and false imprisonment, police said.

Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on 050808

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Filed under Crime and Punishment, Georgia, News, The South

Prosecution Underway?

Finally, it appears the terrorist prosecutions of folks at Gitmo will be going forward. Salim Hamdan will go on trial June 2. But wait, today, Hamdan refused to participate in a pretrial hearing and so did his lawyers. This left the prosecutor Lt. Col. William Britt a little confused.

How can these attorneys represent a client but not participate in the hearings? Got me. That’s the job even if the client is being hardheaded, you’ve got to represent them and be accountable to the court.

Good Luck, Lt. Col. Britt, seems like perhaps you’ll have another delay.

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Religion vs. Crime

When Texas officials entered the property of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, America cheered. The search warrant for the properly signed and sealed, no doubt, with memories of the Waco standoff some years ago in mind. They searched for a girl who they believed called law enforcement to report sexual abuse to a female under the age of 16 years. On its face, all of this is acceptable.

Now, in the wake of the raid, no girl matching the description given by the caller can be found. ACLU and other activist groups are questioning the seizure and separation of hundreds of children from the families that they know and love.

The questions that should be asked by everyone (who loves the rights that we as Americans were born with and are acknowledged by the Bill of Rights) are: (1) is the investigation of the crime alleged in the search warrant complete? (2) were any of the children seized the victims of obvious, provable child abuse? (3) do any of the men of the compound actually hold multiple marriage certificates in any of the 50 states? (4) are these children under threat of harm if returned to their “families”? Those are the only questions.

(1) For what crime can these people be prosecuted if no one can establish the abuse of teenage girls? Whether or not you BELIEVE that teenage girls are being abused, the State must provide proof, evidence that would establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. DNA tests take time, unlike CSI where tests are completed in 2 hours or less, under normal circumstances these will take months. Presumably, the DNA testing in this case will be expedited. That will still be several weeks of work. The facts and circumstances of an on-going investigation are not subject to open records laws (nor should they be). The answer to this question lies solely with law enforcement and the courts.

(2) Obvious abuse of children? Presumably, we would have heard about any actual abuse other than that involved with the investigation. But, oftentimes juvenile court proceedings are closed to the public to protect the children. We do know that no warrants have been taken for abuse of child at this time. But that too could be under investigation.

(3) From the reports I have heard and reviewed, the polygamist men generally only have one “legal” marriage, meaning one marriage recognized under the laws of a state entity. The other “marriages” are not legal marriages, or recognized by state laws. If this is actually the case, then the men have a wife and mistresses and children whom they presumably support. Having sex outside of a legal marriage may actually be listed as a crime (it is still on the books in Georgia) but if these men and women are prosecuted for that crime then prosecutors will have courthouse full of people to be prosecuted. Everyone, not just these members of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints , who has sex outside of their marriage would have to be prosecuted. Do anyone really want that? These folks can NOT be treated differently because of their religious beliefs even when I think their religion is baseless and downright denigrating to women and children.

(4) Threat of harm to children if returned? This question is one of those intangibles. Predicting the future. But, the general health of the children at the time of their coming into Texas’s custody would be a good place to start.

At what point can the government stop a specific religious activity? When that activity violates the laws of the state or country. Warren Jeffs continues to endure that lesson. But the government cannot put an entire religious group out of business simply based on a belief that crimes are being committed. I hurt for the teenage girls in that group. But, these girls must reveal the inner workings of this church and the crimes committed, without that we will continue to watch and wonder.

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