Friday, June 30, 2006

A Pen Pal For Kimball Mason?

Thanks to Grits for Breakfast, via the wretched of the earth, I might have found a pen pal for former Idaho Falls City Prosecutor Kimball Mason. It seems a now-former district attorney in Texas, Richard James Roach, was sentenced on June 26 for charges related to methamphetamine. Apparently, part or all of Roach's source was the evidence collected in cases he was prosecuting. Sound familiar? At the time of sentencing on the state charges, Roach was already serving time on federal charges f0r a firearm violations. Roach now has 18 years to serve on the state charges.

State charges mean state prison. Texas prison, in fact. So, I wonder if Mason and Roach could just skip the pen pal stuff and put in joint requests to be bunk mates in Texas.

A Stiff One For Ex-Judge?

Former Oklahoma state judge Donald Thompson was convicted on June 29 of four counts of indecent exposure. Apparently, Thompson wasn't just exercising his discretion during court proceedings. According to his court reporter, she saw him expose himself several times and traced an unfamiliar "sh-sh" sound during proceedings to the judge. A police officer eventually noticed a penis pump in the courtroom. The conduct was alleged to have occured during four different trials.

The jury didn't recommend the stiffest penalty available. It recommended 1 year jail and $10,000 fine for each count. The offense also requires Thompson to register as a sex offender. Formal sentencing is set for August.

Thompson had also been charged with misuse of a state computer for allegedly keeping explicit photos of himself on his office computer. The probable cause affidavit is available online.

I can't help but think of the scene in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery where Austin is struggling to disclaim association with the penis enlarging pump that was in his property box. I wonder if Thomas will be signing the pump out of evidence when he gets out of jail. And, I hope there weren't any errant "Ya Baby!" comments from the bench during any of these trials.

News link:
Ex-Judge Convicted of Indecent Exposure
Court TV coverage

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Federal Magistrate Grants Odd Request By A.U.S.A.

Here's a feel-good story out of Kentucky: Judge Donates Kidney To Ailing Prosecutor. Federal Magistrate J. Gregory Wehrman donated a kidney to Assistant U.S. Attorney E.J. Walbourn.

The only thing that has me scratching my head on this one is the suggestion that Walbourn may still be able to make limited appearances before Judge Wehrman. At least with Idaho state judges, it would arguably be a violation of the judicial cannons of ethics for Walbourn to continue to appear before Wherman because of the appearance or possibility of bias. However, maybe that wouldn't be a problem if Walbourn is appearing on an uncontested or stipulated matter. In any event, tip of the hat to Judge Wehrman.

On The LIGHTER Side Of Prison Life

WATT the heck! I was doing a bit of lunch time net surfing and came across this article describing how an inmate in Pakistan had an operation to remove a light bulb from his anus. The only effort to illuminate anyone as to how it got there was the guy's story that someone must have drugged him and put it there. Hmmm. Maybe the guy just had another one of those brilliant ideas that went awry - like the one that put him in jail in the first place. Doctors emphasized how important it was to remove the bulb intact, stating that if it broke it could have made matters very complicated. G.E., ya think?

Bog Down In Blawg Town

It has been a couple of weeks since I visited my Blogger dashbord to pop out a post. Work and "honey do-s" have kept me out of sight. But, I see can see a light, yes, light at the end of the tunnel. In other words, the weekend is coming. I really believe that I will be able to spend some quality time at the computer without my wife giving me that Are-you-going-to-spend-your-whole-day-on-that-thing? look. On second thought, maybe that's about 50% belief, 50% hope.

Anyway, I have five drafts of things I intended to put out in June, but haven't got them done. Many required some deeper thought or reflection; others a bit of research before I spouted my mouth off. Either way, I found myself getting bogged down in blawg town. Now I'm faced with a situation where some of the topics are really not all that timely. But, I've decided I'm going to put them out in the blogosphere anyway. Most of the topics are going to . . . suprise, suprise . . . cover my thoughts on issues and questions raised about prosecutors - their behavior, their ethics, their role in the big picture, etc.

By way of preview: I have a response to the post by the wretched of the earth, about an experience with prosecutors who laughed at a defendant that refused to take a deal and, subsequently, faced a crushing sentencing because he insisted on exercising his right to a trial. For Anonymous Law Student, I will finish a blawg piece I started back on June 6 about the Supreme Court's decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos , in which they discussed a deputy prosecutor's first amendment right (or, shall I say, lack thereof). I'll lay out my thoughts and predictions regarding South Carolina's legislation to qualify sex offenders for the death penalty. And, I'll throw out a post on that Duke U mess.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Better Butter, Better TV and Better Prices? What A Riot!

As reported by KIFI in Idaho Falls:

85 Idaho inmates housed in a Texas jail are on lockdown after a non-violent protest Saturday morning. The inmates refused to return to their cells inside the building after completing recreation time outdoors at the Newton County Correction Center.The protest lasted for over seven hours.They demanded butter for rolls, more television channels and cheaper commissary prices. The warden said preliminary information indicates the prisoners were plaining their demonstration since arriving at the facility to protest their out-of-state transfer.Currently, there are over 400 Idaho inmates housed at the center.Offenders are being sent out of state because Idaho's prisons are full, and have been for several years.The Idaho Department of Corrections estimates 1,400 Idaho offenders will be incarcerated out of state by the year 2010.

In my "own private Idaho," I would like to see the Department of Correction and the Commission of Pardons and Parole issue a joint letter to all out-of-state prisoners that says the following: (1) all prisoners involved in the incident in Texas will have their parole eligibility dates moved back a minimum of two years, (2) all prisoners involved in the incident in Texas will be denied parole and will be required to "top their time out" if they are engaged in any further disobedient or riotous behavior, (3) any other out-of-state prisoners involved in any similar incidents will have their parole eligibility dates moved back, and (4) any additional prison time to be served will be served at an out-of-state prison. Prison isn't supposed to be vacation with room service. It's punishment. It makes me think even harder about Article VII of the Bill of No Rights I posted last week.

Arbitrary and Capricious recently posted a blawg entitled ID: Idaho inmates, Texas abuse, describing an allegation that at least one Idaho inmate had been handcuffed, beaten, and maced at the same Texas facility this last spring. Director Thomas Beauclair and an Idaho delegation flew down to Texas to investigate the incident. That is at least some indication that Idaho authorities take matters of safety and propert treatment of inmates seriously. The inmate involved stated in a letter to his sister that the treatment stopped once the Texas warden was notified and intervened. This emphasizes the fact that inmates should address concerns through proper channels. If the prison employees abused the inmates in a manner that warrants criminal charges, the investigation should be referred to the appropriate prosecution authority. If abuse occurs again, Idaho needs to consider moving the inmates to a different facility.

This latest act of defiance does not appear to be in response to the prior beating allegation. The prior problem also doesn't legitimize being petty about such things as more butter, more channels and cheaper commissary.

I do not feel sympathy for the inmates that get shipped to other states. I believe that when they decided to engage in criminal behavior, they were simultaneously giving up their right to choose what their living arrangements were going to be and for how long. I think it is incredibly unfortunate that Idaho is shipping inmates out of state. I understand that affects families, people who did not commit the crimes. And, it affects prosecutors too. I was recently informed by IDOC that I would have to pay $3,000 to $4,000 in order to get a prisoner back from Minnesota to testify in a robbery trial. But, like many things, being shipped out of state is something that inmates should have given some consideration to before they decided to engage in the criminal behavior that put them in prison. It is no secret that Idaho ships inmates out of state. It has been happening for years. Would-be criminals need to prepare for it. Out-of-state prisoners need to accept it.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Detroit 911 Dispatchers Charged

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has announced the filing of charges against Sharon Nichols and Terri Sutton. The two were dispatchers in Detroit on February 20, 2006, when Robert Turner, 5 years old, called 911 to report that his mother had collapsed and needed help. The boy was told tht he shouldn't play on the phone and was told he could get in trouble with the cops if he didn't stop. The boy called back 4 hours later. This time an officer was dispatched . . . but, not to assist to his mother. Rather, the dispatcher sent the officer officer to discipline the child and inform the mother that her son was making prank 911 calls. The mother passed away as a result of her medical condition. A civil suit was filed alleging that the mother would have lived had emergency personnel been dispatched in a timely fashion. Nichols received a five day suspension. Sutton received a three day suspension. Both have now returned to work.

The charges are for wilful Neglect of Duty, a misdemeanor. The maximum possible punishment for the offense is one year in jail. Audio files of the 911 calls, transcripts of the calls and a recitation of the criminal statute are available at the web site for the Detroit Free Press. There is also an article available online from the Detroit News.

I am going to be keeping an eye on this one mainly to see how the matter is handled by the prosecutor and the city. On the one hand you have the City administration's attitude about the matter, reflected in the fact that the dispatchers each received a suspension for less than a week and are back doing the same job. That would also seem to imply that the City administration does not believe that the dispatchers present an ongoing risk to the community if put back to work in the same positions. The actions of the CityAdministration may also reflect problems with the case against the dispatchers that the administration believes are more significant than the prosecutor does. However, it hard to make any definitive assessments about the City's handling of the matter. Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings has declined to comment because the matter is still subject to an ongoing internal investigation. Apparently, the disciplinary action is not final and may be modified depending one what information is uncovered by the investigation.

On the other hand, the prosecutor seems to believe the actions or inaction of the dispatchers are signifacant enough to warrant criminal charges. According to the prosecutor, "Neither operator treated this as an emergency." The prosecutor refused to comment on whether the two should have been fired. But, he did state that, "They should not be taking 911 calls."

As a prosecutor, these types of cases are always present a mine field of problems. It will be interesting to see how this case is handled to control damage between the city police department and the prosecutor's office.

Other news links:

Boys Ignored 911 Call Lead To Charges

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