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Reminder – What To Do If You Are Accused of a Crime

What to do if you are accused of a crime

It is imperative that you get legal counsel immediately. The Miranda warning is read to you for a reason and you should heed what it says. Regardless of what has been told to you there is no reason that you should give up the rights that our forefathers put in America’s Bill of Rights. There is no circumstances that would force you to waive your rights.

If asked whether or not a police agent or other law enforcement agent can search your house, office, or possession it is your right to talk with an attorney.  Do not take the police officer’s word about what is okay or not okay for you to do or say.

Call an attorney immediately, if you cannot call an attorney ask someone to call one for you.
Remember even if you cannot afford an attorney the state should provide you with one, but you have to ask for one.

These are some suggestions that you should remember of you are a suspect in a crime.

  1. Ask for your attorney immediately and state that you cannot answer any questions until you talked with your attorney.
  2. If you cannot afford an attorney ask that one be appointed immediately and do not answer any questions until you have talked with that attorney.
  3. Do not answer any questions until your attorney is present with you.
  4. Follow your attorney’s advice.

TCR – Video Games and Behavioral Issues

The Crime Report Blog has some very interesting articles revolving around criminal justice system.

November 19, 2013 06:00:43 am

Time spent playing video games is not a reliable predictor of childhood behavioral issues, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Glasgow, in Scotland.

Researchers used data from Britain’s enormous Millennium Cohort study to examine how time watching television and playing video games might affect social development in children between the ages of five and seven. The Cohort study is a longitudinal survey following the lives of 19,000 babies born in 2000 and 2001.

The mothers of about 11,000 children reported daily television and or video game hours at age five.

Watching television for at least three hours a day correlated with a slight (0.13 point) increase in behavioral issues, compared with those who watched under an hour, but video games were not associated with any difference in behavior.

“No associations were found between either type of screen time and emotional symptoms, hyperactivity/inattention, peer relationship problems or prosocial behavior,” researchers wrote.

Read the full study HERE.

NYT-After N.S.A. Disclosures, Yahoo Moves to Encrypt Internal Traffic

NOVEMBER 18, 2013, 11:41 PM


Thanks to the revelations of Edward Snowden, technology companies are feverishly enabling new security features in an effort to assure users, particularly abroad, that they are doing everything possible to secure their data from hackers and the National Security Agency.

On Monday, Yahoo’s chief executive, Marissa Mayer, said Yahoo had plans to add extra levels of security to the company’s business operation.

“As you know, there have been a number of reports over the last six months about the U.S. government secretly accessing user data without the knowledge of tech companies, including Yahoo,” Ms. Mayer wrote. “I want to reiterate what we have said the past: Yahoo has never given access to our data centers to the NSA or any other government agency. Ever.”

Both Yahoo and Google secure their data centers with full-time security details and state-of-the-art heat sensors, video cameras and, even in some cases, iris scanning technology. When servers at Google pass their prime, employees bludgeon them with steel pistons and put them through industrial shredders before recycling them, to ensure no data is left behind.

But that data flows from center to center on fiber optic cables owned by Internet backbone providers — and that, Google executives believe, is where intelligence agencies are tapping them.

Even before Mr. Snowden began releasing classified materials to journalists last June, Google grew suspicious that outsiders could tap its traffic between data centers and began encrypting that traffic. After the Snowden revelations, Google said it was accelerating those efforts.

On Monday, Ms. Mayer said Yahoo now planned to follow suit and encrypt the user traffic flowing between its data centers in 2014. “As we have said before, we will continue to evaluate how we can protect our users’ privacy and their data,” Ms. Mayer said.

NYT- Latest Release of Documents on N.S.A. Includes 2004 Ruling on Email Surveillance

The New York Times

November 18, 2013

By  and 

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration released hundreds of pages of newly declassified documents related to National Security Agency surveillance late Monday, including an 87-page ruling in which the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court first approved a program to systematically track Americans’ emails during the Bush administration.

“The raw volume of the proposed collection is enormous,” wrote Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who was then the chief judge on the secret surveillance court. The government censored the date of her ruling in the publicly released document, and many sections — including a description of what she had been told about terrorism threats — were heavily redacted.

The ruling was among a trove of documents that were declassified and made public by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in response to Freedom of Information Act lawsuits, including those by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Freedom Foundation.

Many of the documents have historic significance, showing how Bush administration surveillance programs that were initially conducted without court oversight and outside statutory authorization were brought under the authority of the surveillance court and subjected to oversight rules. The documents also included reports to Congress, training slides and regulations issued under President Obama.

The Bush administration temporarily shut down its bulk collection of email logs after Justice Department lawyers raised legal concerns in March 2004. Judge Kollar-Kotelly declared the collection lawful in July 2004, according to documents leaked by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor.

The email metadata — information like the identities of senders and recipients and the and the dates of messages, but not the content — was used in searches of unknown associates of terrorism suspects. The Obama administration has said it shut down the email metadata program in 2011 for “operational and resource” reasons.

Several other court documents released on Monday indicated that the program had difficulties with collecting Internet communications beyond the scope of what the court had authorized. Redactions made it difficult to understand the specifics of the problems, but an accompanying statement offered more details. At one point, it said, the government had shut down the program for several months “because of the significance and complexity of these incidents.”

The New York Times reported in 2009 that the N.S.A. had intercepted private email messages and phone calls of Americans on a scale that went beyond broad legal limits. A statement released on Monday said that an excess collection problem in 2009 was the result of “longstanding compliance issues associated with N.S.A.’s electronic communications and telephony bulk metadata collection programs” and that the N.S.A. “recognized that its compliance and oversight structure had not kept pace with its operational momentum.”

In a statement, James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, said that with the new releases, nearly 2,000 pages about surveillance matters had been declassified since President Obama instructed him in June to “make public as much information as possible about certain sensitive programs while being mindful of the need to protect sensitive classified intelligence activities and national security.”

“Release of these documents reflects the executive branch’s continued commitment to making information about this intelligence collection program publicly available when appropriate and consistent with the national security of the United States,” he said.

The trove also included the Bush administration’s 2006 application for initial approval by the surveillance court to collect bulk logs of all domestic phone calls under a provision of the Patriot Act that allows the collection of business records deemed “relevant” to an investigation, another program it had previously undertaken unilaterally. The call record program is still active.

“Here, the government’s interest is the most compelling imaginable: the defense of the nation in wartime from attacks that may take thousands of lives,” said the Justice Department brief, which was signed by Alberto Gonzales, who was then attorney general. “On the other side of the ledger, the intrusion is minimal” into privacy concerns because the calling logs did not include any content of communications.

The documents show that as early as 2006, an inspector general review recommended tighter controls over the bulk telephone metadata program to reduce the risk that they would violate the limits on the collection of data. In 2009, the court would sharply rebuke the N.S.A. for violating its own procedures and misleading the nation’s intelligence court about how it used the telephone call logs.

Jameel Jaffer, a senior lawyer with the A.C.L.U., argued that the release of the documents demonstrated what he argued were structural problems with the surveillance court, which decides major issues.

“This a reminder a lot of the most important and far-reaching decision of the past decade was issued by this court, which meets in secret and hears only from the government and doesn’t publish its decisions,” Mr. Jaffer said.

The full scope and details of any revelations in the documents were not immediately clear because of the large volume of materials and the late hour at which they became available. It appeared likely to take days for journalists, privacy advocates and other close watchers of surveillance policy issues to finish scouring the trove.

Alabama Judges Retain the Right to Override Juries in Capital Sentencing

The New York Times


November 18, 2013

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday turned down a challenge to an unusual Alabama capital-sentencing practice that has sent 95 defendants to death row despite jury determinations calling for life sentences.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined for the most part by Justice Stephen G. Breyer, issued a 17-page dissent of the court’s refusal to hear the case. Alabama now stands alone, she said, in routinely allowing judges to override determinations from capital juries calling for leniency.

The case, Woodward v. Alabama, No. 13-5380, concerned Mario D. Woodward, who was convicted of killing Keith Houts, a police officer. By an 8-to-4 vote, the jury recommended a life sentence without the possibility of parole. The trial judge rejected the recommendation and condemned Mr. Woodward to death.

Alabama law allows judges to override jury recommendations in either direction: from life to death or from death to life. But Alabama judges have overridden recommendations of life 95 times and of death just nine times.

Florida and Delaware also allow overrides, but they are subject to strict standards. No one has been sentenced to death in Florida as a result of a judicial override since 1999, and no one is on death row in Delaware as a consequence of an override.

“What could explain Alabama judges’ distinctive proclivity for imposing death sentences in cases where a jury has already rejected that penalty?” Justice Sotomayor asked. “There is no evidence that criminal activity is more heinous in Alabama than in other states or that Alabama juries are particularly lenient.”

“The only answer that is supported by empirical evidence,” she wrote, “is one that, in my view, casts a cloud of illegitimacy over the criminal justice system: Alabama judges, who are elected in partisan proceedings, appear to have succumbed to electoral pressures.” She cited a study showing that overrides are more common in election years.

The Supreme Court upheld Alabama’s capital-sentencing system in 1995. In a dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens said politics had cast a cloud over the state’s judicial system. “Alabama trial judges face partisan election every six years,” he wrote. “The danger that they will bend to political pressures when pronouncing sentence in highly publicized capital cases is the same danger confronted by judges beholden to King George III.”

The Impact Of What We Do Has on Our Children

One night last week, I had to get some money for one of my boys for a school the next morning.  When I looked in my wallet I was a dollar short of what he needed.  Instead of going to the ATM late at night I went scrounging for change. I found one of the gold color dollar coins that you get from the Post Office.

I gave my son the dollar bills and the dollar coin.  His kidding response was “Why are you giving me prison money?”  It took me a second to remember why he called it that.  I use to go to the federal prisons to visit clients more frequently than I do now,  if you changed a $5.00 bill, the machine would only give you the $1 coins.  So when I would come home that would be the kids would get when they needed money.

My youngest son shocked me when at 7 or 8 he asked about people’s rights.  My oldest asked about forensic blood analysis, when he was very young, I assume after hearing me talk about a Capital Murder case I had at the time.  Not sure he understood my explanation, but it was an interesting discussion.

The biggest impact my choice of profession has had on my sons, is the understanding that people have rights that have to be protected even if the person is not likable and that you have to question authority.  The later one has come back to haunt me a few times but it is still a good trait for them to have as they grow up.

It would be interesting to hear other people’s stories about the impact their job has had on their children.

The injustice of Ken Anderson’s 10-day sentence is blood boiling

Updated: 08 November 2013 10:55 PM

GEORGETOWN — A former Texas prosecutor charged over a wrongful murder conviction agreed to a 10-day jail sentence Friday, accepting the punishment in front of the innocent man he helped put in prison for nearly 25 years.

Ken Anderson also will be disbarred and must serve 500 hours of community service as part of a sweeping deal that was expected to end all criminal and civil cases against the embattled ex-district attorney.

Anderson, 61, never spoke in his return to the same Williamson County courthouse where he served as a state judge for 11 years before resigning in September.

Sitting behind Anderson in the gallery was Michael Morton, who was released from prison in 2011 after DNA evidence showed he didn’t beat his wife to death in 1986.

“It’s a good day,” said Morton, surrounded by his lawyers and family members. “I said the only thing that I wanted, as a baseline, is Ken Anderson to be off the bench and no longer practicing law — and both of those things have happened, and more.”

Anderson entered a plea of no contest to contempt of court. The charge stemmed from 1987, when Anderson, then the Williamson County district attorney, was asked by a judge whether he had anything to offer that was favorable to Morton’s defense. He said no.

But among the evidence Morton’s attorneys claim was kept from them were statements from Morton’s 3-year-old son, who witnessed the murder and said his father wasn’t responsible. There were also interviews with neighbors who said they saw another man near the Morton home before the slaying.

Anderson must report to Williamson County Jail by Dec. 2. Morton’s attorneys said that Anderson could serve as few as four days.

Anderson has previously apologized to Morton for what he called failures in the system but has said he believes there was no misconduct.

Morton’s attorneys announced afterward that there will be an audit of all cases handled by Anderson to look for other instances of misconduct. The audit will initially focus on people still serving jail time.

Morton was a regular presence at the Texas Capitol this spring and helped push through the Michael Morton Act, which helps compel prosecutors to share files with defense attorneys that can help defendants’ cases.

Texas leads the nation in prisoners set free by DNA testing — 117 in the last 25 years.

The Associated Press, Austin American-Statesman