Archive for the ‘Crime & Punishment’ Category

That’s A Spicy Miscarriage-a of a-Justice!

July 30, 2011

A BEAST Reader Opinion

By Mario

Mario, seen here shaking his fist at the

injustice in the case of Amanda Knox

Bonjourno! I’m a-Mario and I’m an Italian-Americano and I do-a the plumbing! But today I’m-a here to tell you about how I’m ashamed of my-a country’s criminal justice system, specifically in the small town of a-Perugia. Perhaps we discuss it over a nice-a pizza pie! Mario knows just the right-a place!

Have a seat-a, Mario’s just going to the bathroom real quick.

So this American girl Amanda Knox-a, she was studying abroad in-a Italy. She got a place-a to live. She got a boyfriend. Goin’ to-a the school. Tryin’ to-a overcome her social awkwardness with-a the studying abroad in my-a country.

For a more-a detailed description of-a the story, you read-a this article in the American Rolling Stone magazine. Mario will-a give you the abbreviated version, much-a like how you can skip-a from World 1-2 to 4-1 by-a using the moving platforms to jump-a to the top of the level.

Amanda Knox, she come a-home from a night at her boyfriend’s. It looks-a like she’s been robbed. She afraid the a-robbers still be there. She panics and finds the first police she-a can. They are the postal police. They are incompetento. They find-a Knox’s roomate, Meredith Kercher, she-a dead. The postal police, they-a probably contaminate the DNA evidence and point the prosecutor/official in charge of the investigation (Same-a person! Makes-a no sense! Inevitably will lead-a to a conflict of interestino!), Giuliano Mignini, in a bad direction.

Mignini, he a small time prosecutor, escaping much scrutiny due to-a his geographically small jurisprudence. And like-a the Satanic Panic/’recovered memories’ craze in-a the 1980s America, he a-sees supernatural, satanic influences everywhere. The criminal justice system is-a no place for a guy like-a him. But what-a you gonna do about it? He’s a made guy.

The prosecution, they-a have no motive. No evidence outside of trace DNA which was-a sloppily collected. Much of their case relies on Knox’s reaction to the-a murder. She kissed-a her boyfriend at one point! And then she do-a the cartwheel and yoga. This-a is what they say reveals her guilt. That’s-a what passes for evidence in a murder trial in my-a country! It make-a Mario more sad than those Americano douches on-a the Jersey Shore television!

The prosecution, they-a take advantage of Knox’s overly trusting nature and her elementary understanding of the-a language to “help her remember” what they-a said happen. She unknowingly signs-a the confession, which is when she-a finally learned she was even a suspect in her-a roommate’s murder!

Meanwhile, an alleged petty thief / informant to the polizia named Rudy Guede, he-a leave the country as soon as the investigation began. He was amicos with the boys who lived downstairs from Knox. He was-a later convicted along with Knox and her-a boyfriend of the murder after having a-changed his story multiple times. The DNA evidence, it-a leads to a version of-a the murder in-a which Guede acted alone. Nathaniel Rich in the-a Rolling Stone USA America article I-a linked to above lays out this version of events-a:

Guede stakes out the cottage after dark. He breaks into the girls’ apartment and makes himself comfortable. He swigs orange juice from a carton he finds in the refrigerator — he had a spicy kebab for dinner — and then uses the bathroom. While he’s on the can, Kercher enters the apartment, locking the door behind her. Guede is trapped. He can’t exit through the window without alerting Kercher, and he can’t use the front door, because you need a key to open the lock from the inside. (Kercher’s keys would be stolen, along with cash, credit cards and phones.) Guede rises from the toilet without flushing, so as not to make a noise. He walks to Kercher’s bedroom. Perhaps he tries to explain himself — “Sorry, the door was open, I let myself in, I’m a friend of Giacomo’s downstairs” — or perhaps she starts screaming before he can speak. He grabs her by the mouth (there were bruises on Kercher’s face) and threatens her with the knife. He assaults her and, realizing that Kercher can identify him, he panics and kills her.

This story has-a many benefits over the prosecution’s. For one, it-a has a motive. The prosecution, they-a say no motive is necessary. Also, it doesn’t involve believing in Satanic influences. If you discount the trace DNA samples, which the forensics experts all say is-a more useless in court than my little brother Luigi is at fixing a running toilet, then it accounts for all-a the facts we know for-a sure in the-a simplest way. That makes it far more-a likely according to Occam’s Razor.

And what makes this-a all much worse is how the system of criminal justice here is-a incapable of a-saying that it has made-a a mistake. They wave-a the hands, and not just in the way we all do when we-a talk-a. The appeals process, it’s-a face-saving mechanism for an incompetent bureaucracy. It looks-a like they want to simply reduce Knox’s sentence instead of admit they were wrong. And the polizia, now they-a attack the forensics experts United States for discrediting their lousy so-a-called evidence.

So-a sad! Mario is ashamed of his country! The-a blog Perugia Shocks follows this-a case closely, so Mario encourages you to keep-a tabs on it there. And her-a defense fund is here. Soon we-a free her! Arrivederci!

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Point / Counterpoint: The Law

July 30, 2011

I Am The Law

by Judge Dredd

After the collapse of the environment and humanity’s sociopolitical structure, lawlessness ran rampant in the few remaining Mega Cities where most human survivors lived. But then a new system of criminal justice emerged. One where elite super-soldiers act as police, jury, and executioners. We call them the Judges. That’s where I come in. I’m a Judge. The name’s Judge Dredd, and I am the law.

I don’t need to hear from some Ivory Tower egg-head about how we need to coddle criminals with fair and impartial trials and presume them innocent. When I see a rotten, good-for-nothing lowlife punk steal an old lady’s purse, I just smash his teeth in with my comically oversized gun from the future. There are no Miranda Rights. No trial. No taxpayer-funded lawyer. Only justice. And that happens to be me. I am the law.

When you’re walking home from work one day and all of a sudden a gang of hooligans jumps from out of nowhere to steal your food pellet rations, who do you go to for help? That’s right, the self-appointed vigilantes running around in ridiculous costumes who call themselves Judges. If you’re lucky you’ll get me/The Law on your side.

There are two types of people in the world: The good, hardworking ones, and the worthless criminals who should be executed immediately. And then there’s guys like me, other Judges. And there are also some people who aren’t exactly good, but get by without causing too much trouble. Then there are convenience store clerks. And there’s that butterfly kid from the Blind Melon video… remember that?

Well, anyway, maybe there are more than two kinds of people in the world. So sue me. It’s not like there’s a law against it, because if I break a law that would mean there is a law against… the law. And that is a paradox which will create a black hole that will swallow up the Universe. And we don’t want that now, do we?

Actually, The Law Is A System Of Rules That A Particular Country Or Community Recognizes As Regulating The Actions Of Its Members And May Enforce By The Imposition Of Penalties.

by Alan Dershowitz

Since the dawn of Western civilization we humans have established systems of law. The goal of pursuing justice should be that the law is universal, which is to say that it applies to everyone equally. Nobody should be above the law. And while some legal systems are named after the rulers who founded them, we must remember that despite Mr. Dredd’s opinion the law is a system and not an individual who happens to work within that system.

Mr. Dredd is a young man with an occupation which requires bursts of adrenaline, and he may feel invulnerable now. But like all other mortals he will age and eventually die. And if he truly is the law, will the law die with him? Will our children and grandchildren be forced into the same kind of chaotic nightmare we all too recently lived through? Will the end of Dredd mean another “Cursed Earth?” Ridiculous. The law will continue with or without Dredd because it is part of our social contract.

But I will go even further here. Not only is Judge Dredd’s opinion wrong on the grounds that no single person can “be the law,” but even if one could truly be the law, Dredd would not be that person. His draconian sentencing and methods of investigation are completely at odds with our modern sensibilities. If he is the law, then we’re talking about the law of Saudi Arabia or North Korea or someplace like that. Even if all of our countryside is a post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland, this is still America, where we give those accused of crimes the opportunity to defend themselves in a court of law.

I hate to speculate, but if I had to guess why Mr. Dredd is taking this unusual stance on legal issues, I would say that like all tyrants throughout history, he has a vested self-interest in equating himself with law and order in the mind of the public. It could be as simple as a matter of him keeping his job in the law and order business.

At worst, he may be pre-emptively introducing Richard Nixon’s famous defense where he declared that a crime is not a crime if the President does it. This would be especially useful if the US Attorney General’s office brings charges against him for obsctructing justice in one way or another. If that’s the case, then having a jury already receptive to the idea that Mr. Dredd’s status as a high-profile Judge absolves him from legal responsibility would be very useful in a courtroom.

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Why cops are usually idiots

July 3, 2011

The answer is in a NY Times archived article from way back in 1999:

A Federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by a man who was barred from the New London police force because he scored too high on an intelligence test.

Nice! We wouldn’t want a smart cop. Only ignorant dipshits need apply, please.

The judge referred to claimed the ruling didn’t violate equal protection under the law because the “No bookreadin’ types” rule applies to any applicants. So as long as any intelligent people are denied an interview for a job as a police officer in New London, CT, that’s “not discrimination.”

Subverting drug war propaganda

February 16, 2011

Pete Guthier at his Drug War Rant blog has some good examples of how to take those “Above the Influence” messages the ONDCP and other send out and turn them against themselves. Here’s the starting point:

And from there you can do something like this:

Or this:


Dallas preacher steals Christmas

December 28, 2010

Sandra McGriff is this pastor who, it looks like got busted for burglary. I say it looks that way because the police records say that the person arrested was named Kathy Robinson, but McGriff’s brother-in-law Weldon claims it was her. So either it’s McGriff and she was carrying someone else’s ID or this is all some holiday prank gone horribly wrong. Or right.

She also said that McGriff had called her to talk about an hour before the burglary was reported. During that conversation, Agnew told McGriff she was away from home visiting her daughter.

PROTIP: Don’t do this. If you’re going to rob someone, find out when they’ll be away from home using their status on the Facesbooks.

After McGriff was treated for the injured arm, officers struggled to arrest her. She slipped out of one set of handcuffs and resisted being restrained.
She slipped a second set of handcuffs off while waiting in a police car, and kicked and tried to scratch officers as they again restrained her.

PROTIP: DO do this if you are arrested, if only for the sake of awesomeness.

Essentially this woman is being charged for taking too many shortcuts in her job. If you want to take your parishoners’ belongings (yeah, the person she robbed went to her church, which is called the Church of the Living God), you have to convince them to give them to you by “tithing.”

Jeremy Marks

December 14, 2010

Jeremy Marks is a Los Angeles high school special education student who’s been caught up in the criminal justice system. Originally he was offered to plead guilty on charges which would land him 7 years in a prison, and more recently he’s been offered a plea deal which included “attempted lynching” and would cost him just under 3 years in prison. He has been in jail for the past 7 months awaiting his day in court as his family is too poor to afford the bail set.

Here’s what happened: Marks was at a bus stop outside of a McDonald’s when a school police officer confronted another student for smoking. Based on the police report, eyewitnesses reports, and sworn testimonies (outlined in an write-up in the LA Weekly, which weirdly enough seems to be the only major news organization covering this), the cop seems to have lost her shit and smashed the kid’s head into a window until it broke. The window, that is.

Here’s part of the testimony of Los Angeles Unified School District campus police officer Erin Robles:

It was getting very, very wild.

OK, hold it right there. What do you think of when you think of something “very, very wild?” I have a few ideas, but describing them would probably violate some of WordPress’ Terms of Service. Anyway, here’s what immediately follows from the above quote:

There was screaming, people were walking behind me.

Forget about the screaming for now. People were walking behind her? That’s the second thing she remembers in order to back up her claim about it being “very, very wild?” Also, I hate to be the one to break it to officer Robles, but there are people walking behind her all the time.

Next, we get to the explanation of the screaming.

There were individuals trying to reach for my O.C. spray that had fallen on the ground. I was screaming for help on my radio.

Did you catch that?

There was screaming

Really? Why was there screaming?

I was screaming

Well that explains it. That’s why you always have to watch for the use of passive tense. People usually use it when they don’t want to identify the subject of the sentence, in this case the fact that it was her screaming instead of there just being screaming by nobody in particular.

Here’s how an eyewitness described the situation to the LA Weekly:

She slammed the student into a wall, threw him on the ground, took out her pepper spray, slammed him into the bus, broke the window out of the bus with his head, sprayed him in the face and slammed him into the bus some more.

Now’s probably a good time to note that the student in question is not Jeremy Marks. Marks was in the area, and he and a few others took out their cell phones to record video of the assault. Here is one of them and here is another. Marks was essentially arrested for recording the incident and for allegedly yelling “kick her ass!” though if you read the LA Weekly article that second claim sounds pretty dubious. The lynching charge comes from an odd definition of lynching which includes means trying to “incite a riot during an attempt to free a suspect from police custody.”

Even if Marks did call for a police ass-kicking, I don’t really see how you get from that to inciting a riot. And even if we grant the LAUSD cops that much, there would already have to be an attempt to free the suspect from police custody going on in order for that to apply to this weird lynching law, and that just doesn’t seem to be the case based on the evidence. The kids watching the altercation are just laughing and talking shit. There’s no escape attempt for the “incitement to riot” to be during.

This is just a case of an overzealous police officer with a corrupt department determined to use this kid as a scapegoat. And it’s fucking his life up for no real reason at all.

UPDATE: An engineer at Google heard about this story on reddit and has paid Marks’ bail.

Federal appeals court loves making death threats to corporations

August 26, 2010

Hey, guess what everybody? It’s totally legal to make death threats to corporations now.

So there’s this guy from Arizona named Kurt William Havelock who was really mad at the Super Bowl. So, as one does in such situations, he decided to mail out a manifesto to media outlets detailing the reasons he has for shooting people at the 2008 Super Bowl in Glendale, AZ. From Wired’s Threat Level blog:

“It will be swift and bloody,” he wrote media outlets in packages mailed a half hour before he got cold feet and abandoned his plan. “I will sacrifice your children upon the altar of your excess.”

Later in court he argued that he was disgruntled after being denied a permit to serve alcohol. And I can relate because the last time I got to a convenience store at 3:07 AM and the clerk told me it was too late to buy alcohol, I started screaming about how my retribution would be swift and bloody, and that I would sacrifice the children of everyone in the store upon the altar of their excesses, too. It’s kind of eerie, actually, because we used pretty much the same unhinged threats verbatim.

But now when the clerk gets scared and calls the police, I’ll be able to use legal precedent to defend myself. And so will you, reader. The key is to make sure you don’t threaten anyone specifically. You have to target your blind, misguided rage onto a bland corporate entity. Thanks to Mr. Havelock and his overturned convictions, if you do this then you’re legally in the clear. So let’s all celebrate by making death threats at corporations.

This is so Canadian

July 27, 2010

This has all the trappings of those lame “Black guys are like… and white guys are like…” jokes, except that it’s more like “Americans get drunk and shoot at each other, but Canadians get drunk and call 911 demanding that the police get their local hockey team back.” From the Winnipeg Free Press:

“He began the conversation by saying he wanted the Jets back. He was quite upset about it,” a justice source told the Free Press on Wednesday…
The final straw came when the man began insulting the 911 operator, eventually calling her a crude name. She warned him that his number had been traced and police were being sent out to arrest him.
“If you’re coming to get me, can you bring me some smokes,” was his reply.

And you know what? I bet those police did bring that guy his cigarettes.

Mother who murdered her daughter gets 3 years probation

July 15, 2010

See this classy lady?

Well, she killed her daughter by strangling her with a scarf, was found guilty, and sentenced to only three years of probation. Just to clarify, that means that she’s not even going to prison. For murder.

I looked around for mitigating circumstances, but this is really the closest thing to that available:

Magomadova had claimed her daughter, who was a rebellious teen who had been in trouble with the law and had run away from home, attacked her while they argued over whether Aminat would make a court appearance that day.

But LoVecchio said the evidence didn’t support the accused’s contention she had to use her scarf to defend herself from a deadly attack.

So the best that made it through the Canadian legal system for the side of the defense in this case was that she was a rebellious teen who had been in trouble with the law.

There’s definitely no implications of this being religiously motivated, but it might be worth noting that this woman’s actions are pretty much in line with the Bible:

If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:
Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;
And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.
And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

So we’ve gone from killing rebellious offspring being the official punishment to it being a kind of sort of crime. I mean, I guess maybe she should get probation for killing her kid. That’s progress.

Criminals of the week

July 4, 2010

Prosecute BP stickers available for free

June 24, 2010

Here is the link, but all you need to do is send a self-addressed stamped legal sized envelope to:

Sticker Robot / Prosecute
PO Box 1189
Woodacre, CA 94973-1189

Criminals of the week

June 24, 2010

Criminals of the week

May 7, 2010

  • “And as I was flinging the poo all over her yard – it felt really good, and I just kept doing it.” (link)
  • “He knows better. I mean, he’s probably made arrests for assault and battery. He knows what the laws are.” (link)
  • “A GRENADA man with two severed human heads in a bucket walked into a precinct station and presented his haul to horrified police.” (link)
  • Female ninja arrested for shooting blow darts at people from her car. (link)
  • “One man in a crew suspected of carrying dynamite-like explosives around Buford told investigators the devices were meant for “play” and to blow stuff up in his backyard, according to testimony Thursday.” (link)

Criminals of the week

April 29, 2010

Criminals of the week

April 20, 2010

  • George Washington had a very overdue library book, $300,000 fine. (link)
  • Two convicts escaped prison by dressing up as sheep. (link)
  • Man loses his driver’s license after driving drunk in a toy Barbie car. (link)
  • Jeremy Scahill: Blackwater indictments are like Al Capone going down for tax evasion. (link)
  • New Hampshire’s liquor commissioner charged with DWI. (link)
  • Former head of Bensalem, PA SVU charged with sexual assault. (link)