Tag Archives: Police

How Should the Texas Supreme Court Have Ruled?

The Texas Supreme Court ruled that the State (whatever incarnation-police or children services) had no right to seize all of those children from the polygamist ranch. This evening a lower court judge refused to sign an agreement reached between attorneys for the illegally seized children and parents and the State because she wanted to add conditions. The State essentially kidnapped these children regardless of the religious beliefs of the parents. The Texas Supreme Court ruled that the STATE had no right to take these children.

As mentioned in an earlier blog, if the State had probable cause to believe that a crime had been committed committed or the children were in immediate danger, then the State acted properly. But the Texas Supreme Court RULED that the children who were the subject of the appeal heard by that court were taken or seized illegally. Children are not property (although many modern parents treat them as such) the Texas lower court should return these children.

The Judicial System in every state and in the Federal government set standards and guidelines that MUST be followed. We all live in a society which is governed by agreement-we agree to be governed and most of our population accept and uphold that agreement. In this instance the government OVERSTEPPED that agreement. The government violated that agreement because the individuals-parents of the children-believe in some extremist form of Mormonism.

This entry is not an endorsement of this polygamist sect. The rights that belong to these extremists are also the rights of ALL AMERICAN citizens. If we continue to encourage this errant judge and these State officials based on suspicions (not proof) that bad things happen to children in this sect, then we encourage the State and government officials everywhere to seize first and ask questions later when someone deviates from what GOVERNMENT considers a norm of society. Consider YOUR RIGHTS, YOUR HOME, YOUR PROPERTY. Should the government be permitted to enter your home and remove your children because you worship trees and refuse to eat red meat? NO. The Texas Supreme Court ruled that the State illegally removed these children without EVIDENCE of an immediate threat of harm to the children. Why are the children STILL in state custody?

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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

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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Forced DNA Samples: Privacy vs. Safety

Federal Agencies with arrest powers have decided to take DNA samples from every individual arrested. According the on-line article, the rule is being published in the Federal Register for a thirty day comment period.

See http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080416/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/dna_collection

What would this new rule mean? Any person arrested by a federal agent will have a DNA swab taken and placed in CODIS (the National DNA registry). Supporters cite to the expansion of law enforcement in crime solving. What about civil rights? What about privacy rights?

To substantiate an arrest, an officer must only provide a Magistrate with probable cause to believe the person committed the crime. That, ladies and gentlemen, is not proof that the suspect committed the crime, just probable cause to believe the suspect committed the crime. Only after an acquittal or dismissal of the charges would the person be able to request destruction of the DNA sample taken. This request, like all other matters Federal, would be required to filter through the Federal Bureaucracy.

Does the Federal Government have a right to the DNA of every individual residing in this country? No. Does the Federal Government have a right to the DNA of every person arrested? No. A Senior Judge who passed away several years ago once told me that when he first started practicing law he advised clients to refuse fingerprinting. At the time that seemed so foreign to me. Fingerprinting is a way to track individuals and is commonly used. But there was a time when it wasn’t.

Does the minimal invasion of the mouth with a cotton swab create trauma for the suspect? No. Should that person be required to give up a genetic fingerprint because an officer made an arrest? Absolutely not. Once we as citizens give up our privacy rights in favor of some perceived security concern, we will no longer be free.

DNA samples in a database will not prevent crime. DNA samples in a database may aid in the capture of criminals, but it will NOT prevent crime. Do not fall into the security trap. Stand up for your privacy rights.

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Cruel

Circumstances call on law enforcement officers to execute many life changing duties. Informing family members of the untimely death of a loved one is the most dreaded duty. In some cases, these officers are required to withhold information from the public and from family members in order to protect the details of a case. But to withhold, for two years, the death of a child from the parents is cruel.

As reported by Foxnews.com:

New Jersey Detective Waited Two Years to Inform Parents Their Missing Daughter Was Dead

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

TRENTON, N.J. — Authorities are disciplining a Trenton police detective who waited more than two years to tell the family of a missing woman that she was dead.

Detective Edgar Rios is charged with 28 departmental violations and has been removed from the homicide unit.

The city’s Officer of the Year for 2007 has said he waited to disclose Amber Ramsey’s death because he wanted to make sure forensic evidence checked out. But Police Director Joseph Santiago says there’s no evidence that was the case.

Rios’ administrative charges include failure to follow leads and failure to document his work. Two of his supervisors, including his brother, have also been transferred.

Ramsey was reported missing in February 2006 and her body was found, along with a coat that contained ID, seven months later.

Her parents were not notified until last month. She apparently died of a drug overdose.

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