Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Kansas City Chief: "Off With Their Heads!"

What do you do when an arrestee says they're sick and need medical attention?

It seems that Kansas City officers observed a woman affixing a fake temporary tag to her car and initiated an inquiry. The woman was evasive for reasons that later became obvious, as inquiry resulted in the arrest of the pregnant woman on city charges, motor vehicle offenses, and outstanding warrants for a variety of minor offenses.

The arrestee told the officers she was pregnant, bleeding, and wanted to go to a hospital. These requests were ignored-perhaps because it appeared that the woman had recently been grocery shopping, and perhaps because it appeared that the woman was dissembling and evasive-lying to them, to put it bluntly.

She was lodged in jail for ten hours until sent to a hospital where she miscarried the next day. The arrestee filed a personal injury/wrongful death lawsuit, and the chief has recommended the officers be fired.

Watch the video. You won't see anything very different than a thousand other traffic stops in a thousand other towns that result in arrests because the driver is concealing information that allows officers to do their jobs. The female officer's conduct is less than deferential. So what? Are three careers to be sacrificed for the sake of appeasement, and what does this do for the confidence of officers in their leadership? I don't know, but it can't be good.

So. What do you do? You make it part of your paperwork trail, is what you do. You cover your butt. Either get the person evaluated by paramedics at the scene if they're available, transport the arrestee to the emergency room, or advise the receiving facility that they may have a medical issue on their hands, and get it dealt with.

News From Europe

The BBC reports that charges have been lodged by the International Criminal Court against Sudan's Humanitarian Affairs Minister, one Ahmed Haroun, who has been accused of war crimes for his conduct in the shameful and obscene spectacle in Darfur province these past four years.

Mr. Haroun says he does not feel guilty (they never do, do they?) because he acted legally and in accordance with the general interest. Haroun was well known around Darfur as the man who armed and bankrolled the Janjaweed, armed Arab militias who are determined to reeducate the mass of Darfur peasants by the old traditional methods of rape, mass murder, and drumhead trials and executions.

With all due respect to the ICC, at the glacial pace things move there, Mr. Haroun will be another charcoal briquet in hell before they ever get around to putting his sorry ass in cuffs.

What the ICC needs is some judges who know how to clear a docket and be a scourge to malefactors like Judge Isaac Parker of the District of Arkansas-then maybe we'd take them seriously here.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Multiple Images of Pornography: Single Offense?

State v. Muhlenbruch No. o5-2028 (Iowa Feb. 23, 2007)

Muhlenbruch was charged with ten counts of violation of Iowa Code sec. 728.12(3) (sexual exploitaiton of a minor) for possession of a single computer that had multiple images of child pornography.

Muhlenbruch moved for an adjudication of law points, arguing that possession of one computer is one offense, and the district court granted his motion. The State appealed.

The state argued that "other print or visual medium" in the statute should be expansively defined to include individual images contained within a single computer.

The Court disagreed, holding that in the absence of any clear guidance from the legislature, if the statute is ambiguous it must be construed in favor of the accused.

As a novice computer geek (no thanks to you, Microsoft), even I can see holes in this opinion big enough to drive a truck through, because the Court's notion of 'what is a computer' is about fifteen years out of date.

A computer is a box with a power supply, a processor, random access memory (RAM), a means to display information in some cases, and some means of data storage and recovery (hard disk drive, floppy or tape if you want to go prehistory). What if the offender has (as is common) a portable hard disk drive on which images are stored and retrieved? What if the offender has multiple hard drives inside the 'box'? What if the offender stores his images on a hosting service and retrieves them from time to time? What if the offender thinks he deleted the files, but they were recovered by the use of commonly available data recovery software?

The takehome's clear for law enforcement and prosecutors: we're going to have to get a lot smarter about this subject if we intend to take people to task for this affectation. That means developing cutting edge knowledge of personal computing technology, or hiring the services of forensic computer analysis experts to develop the means necessary to adequately punish these offenses.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Pot County Confidential; Having the White Stuff

It's reported that Jeff TeKippe, one time assistant county attorney in Pottawatamie County was arrested for felonious misconduct in office, second degree theft, and possession of controlled substances Friday. This is related to the disappearance or mishandling of narcotics in evidence in criminal trials. The investigation is ongoing.

Is it too early to send in my resume?

Friday, February 09, 2007

Old Folks Behaving Badly

The Guardian reports that a French appellate court ruled that 78 year old anarchist Pierre Pinoncelli did not have to pay damages in a case of vandalism concerning a Duchamp sculpture "fountain" valued in the millions-that happened to be a porcelain urinal.

Pinoncelli is alleged to have whacked the sculpture with a hammer and scrawled "Dada" on it. The lower court said that he didn't have to pay the $18,600 for repairs and $260,000 for depreciation because the Pompidou Center, the gallery hosting the exhibit of Duchamp's work didn't own the sculpture.

Mr. Pinoncelli is no stranger to the ....ahem.....appliance, however. In 1993, he was arrested for taking a leak in the sculpture and cut off his finger as an expression of solidarity with a French politician being held hostage by Colombian guerrilla fighters at the time

For those of you who are interested in the art history view of the....ahem....porcelain product that is the subject of the controversy, look no further than here.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

From the Big Suprises Department

As expected, a Storm Lake jury quickly convicted Sessions Harper in the atrocious sexual assault and murder by arson of a Fort Dodge woman last year. The jury was out for three hours, which raised the question in some folks' minds "What took them so blamed long? Was it the free lunch?"

As we reported recently, there is an interesting issue that will be presented on appeal that sets this case apart from more pedestrian sordid crimes, and that is the validity of the dying declarations of the victim, one Holly Michael. Look for the appeal in about two years.

Be it remembered, Harper was on the sex offender registry. Let us fervently hope that we are done with him; the air will breathe a little freer.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Another Reason Why It's Called "Pot" County? UPDATE

It was reported today that Jeff TeKippe, an assistant Pottawattamie County prosecutor was abruptly fired from the county attorney's office because of some alleged mishandling of evidence in a drug case. Matt Wilber, county attorney said he'd have no comment beyond the fact that TeKippe was suspended on February 1 and fired Tuesday last, and that the DCI was on the case.

It is passing strange that TeKippe and Wilber were competitors for the Republican nomination for county attorney and that TeKippe lost in the primary and in the general election.

In contested county attorney races in our fair state, all the adherents of the ancien regime are expected to fall on their swords, and the fastest way to get fired is to get up in public and say "I'm thinking of running against you in the primary, boss."

Stay tuned....this has political overtones.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Memo to Court: A Man's Got To Know His Limitations

State v. Erdman, No. 04-1661 (Iowa Feb. 2, 2007).

Erdman was charged with forgery and bonded out in Story County. Jailed in Marion County, Erdman could not appear and the district associate court ordered her bond forfeited in the amount of $26,500.

The bail bondsmen filed an appeal, alleging that an associate district court could not enter judgment in an amount exceeding $10,000. The trial court refused the bail bondsmen.

The Supreme Court reversed and vacated, holding that district associate courts are limited in their subject matter jurisdiction to forfeiting bonds of less than $10,000.