Pistorius was not mentally ill and could appreciate the wrongfulness of his act

June 30, 2014

Monday, June 30, 2014

Good morning:

CNN is reporting:

According to the findings by an independent panel of doctors, Pistorius did not suffer from a mental defect or mental illness at the “time of the commission of the offense that would have rendered him criminally not responsible of the offenses charged.”

The report added that “Mr. Pistorius was capable of appreciating the wrongfulness of his act.”

In other words, Pistorius does not have a mental illness defense and the trial can proceed.

Game within the Game:

Mental disorder defenses should be raised before trial. Since the defense did not do that, we can reasonably assume that they they thought that they had a much better chance of winning, if they went with the intruder defense. Unfortunately for the defense, however, Nel eviscerated that claim leaving them up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

Defense counsel’s last minute decision to raise the mental heath issue appeared to have been a desperate move to counter the damage that Nel inflicted. It had little chance to succeed. Instead, the defense appears disorganized and desperate.

Now we have to wait and see how the public perceives the decisions by the defense.

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Fred


Wafer: Court denies defense motion to present McBride’s text messages

June 28, 2014

Saturday, June 28, 2013

Good morning:

Wayne County Circuit Judge Dana Hathaway yesterday denied the defense motion seeking the court’s permission to inform the jury about the content of the text messages on Renisha McBride’s cell phone. She denied the motion because their content does not show that she was an aggressive person.

I agree with her decision.

Judge Hathaway also denied the defense motion to introduce a chart into evidence that contains information about police responses to the Dearborn Heights neighborhood during 2013. The defense wanted to inform the jury about those responses to support its argument that Wafer feared death or serious bodily injury because the neighborhood had become more violent.

Unfortunately for the defense, the reasonable response to increased concern about personal safety would have been to remain behind the locked front door and call 911.

Judge Hathaway is going to permit the defense expert, former medical examiner Dr. Werner Spitz, to present expert opinion evidence regarding the general effect of fear on a decision to fire a weapon.

I respectfully disagree with this decision because the general effect of fear on a decision to shoot a gun is beyond the scope of a forensic pathologist’s expertise. Their area of expertise is determining cause of death, not mental processes.

A psychiatrist would be more qualified to address that issue.

Judge Hathaway is not going to permit the defense expert to express an opinion regarding whether Wafer acted reasonably.

Judge Hathaway has not ruled on the defense motion to introduce the photos stored in McBride’s phone. One photo purportedly shows a handgun of some sort. I said before the hearing, the photos should be excluded because they do not indicate that McBride was an aggressive person with a violent disposition.

As the NRA reminds us multiple times every week, possession of a gun does not mean that the person who possesses the gun has a violent disposition.

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Get thee to a revenue stream and grow rich without doing anything

June 27, 2014

Friday, June 27. 2014

Good morning:

With increasingly rare exceptions, modern capitalism is not about building a better mousetrap and selling it for a cheaper price than your competitors. It’s about positioning your business in a revenue stream, charging as much as the market will bear, and systematically eliminating your competitors.

To understand the concept of a revenue stream, think of a vast ocean, such as the Atlantic, and replace the water with money that behaves like water.

Oceans have currents. For example, most people are familiar with the the Gulf Stream that flows north along the east coast of the United States.

Revenue streams are currents composed of money. For example, the United States Government has created a vast revenue stream to conduct the business of war. Other revenue streams created by our government are collecting intelligence and homeland security.

Many corporations have positioned themselves in one or more of those revenue streams by hiring people who have expertise in those areas and using their influence to be awarded no bid, cost plus contracts to carry-out a desired activity.

Aereo, which the SCOTUS smacked down on Wednesday, was a business that inserted itself in the cable TV revenue stream by recording free television broadcasts in a digital format and storing them in a cloud that customers could download and watch over the internet for a fraction of the cost that cable customers pay.

NYET! declared the SCOTUS deeming the interception a copyright infringement, thereby preserving the revenue stream for cable TV.

Moral of the story: Pay to Play and don’t mess with the big boys.

Aereo’s idea is a good one, but they are going to have to pay fees to the broadcasters to capture their broadcasts and make them available over the internet.

Yes, internet users are a revenue stream.


We need to abolish the use of peremptory challenges in jury trials

June 26, 2014

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Good morning:

The SCOTUS prohibited the use of peremptory challenges, for which no reason must be given, to systematically exclude blacks from juries in criminal trials of black defendants in Batson v. Kentucky.

Batson permits the use of peremptory challenges to exclude blacks from juries so long as the party challenging the juror has a race neutral reason for asserting the challenge.

The Batson rule applies to all cases, whether criminal or civil, and it has been extended to prohibit the use of peremptory challenges to systematically exclude jurors based on gender or religious affiliation.

Unfortunately, a smart lawyer usually can come up with a race neutral “reason” to exclude a black juror, however unlikely, to pass judicial scrutiny.

The reverse side of that racial injustice is the acquittal by all white juries of guilty white defendants who murdered black victims.

We saw that in the Zimmerman trial.

Justice Thurgood Marshall realized games were being played in the aftermath of Batson. He wanted to solve the problem by getting rid of peremptory challenges.

Until recently I disagreed.

I quit practicing law ten years ago and it has taken me this long to finally change my mind and acknowledge that Justice Marshall was right.

We should not be excluding anyone from serving on a jury without a valid reason. By eliminating peremptory challenges, we would be requiring lawyers to present a convincing case for disqualifying a juror, convincing in the sense that opposing counsel would have an opportunity to rehabilitate a challenged juror.

This is how courts handle challenges for cause. Unless unopposed, each challenge for cause becomes a mini trial decided by the judge after each side gets an opportunity to question the challenged juror.

By forcing lawyers to support a challenge with an evidence based reason, instead of a hunch or a prejudice, we would do no more than subject them to the same standard to which we routinely hold police officers when they arrest a suspect. Such a rule would only improve our system of justice.

If you appreciate what we do, please make a donation.

Thank you,

Fred


Theodore Wafer pretrial motions hearing continues tomorrow

June 25, 2014

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Good evening:

Many thanks to all for your birthday wishes.

Here’s hoping all of our lives improve and we start to see some justice coming out of our courts.

The pretrial motions hearing continues tomorrow in the Theodore Wafer case. The judge will be taking up the defense motions to slime Renisha McBride and introduce evidence about the alleged changing character of the neighborhood.

I have written recently about these motions and the Wafer case in general in the following articles:

Theodore Wafer did not fear death or serious injury when he killed Renisha McBride

Defense seeks permission to slime dead victim in Theodore Wafer case

The evidence the defense seeks to introduce is not admissible. Let’s see if the judge agrees with me.

I hope the hearing will be televised and live streamed, but it wasn’t last week.

I believe it will start at 9 am EDT.

Unfortunately, Crane and I have doctor’s appointments that will cause us to miss the hearing. After we return home and figure out what happened, I will put up a post discussing it.

Don’t forget that Oscar Pistorius will be back in court in Pretoria, South Africa on Monday morning, June 30th.

Pretoria is 6 hours ahead of New York, so the hearing will start at 3:30 am EDT, assuming a 9:30 am start in Pretoria.

I will put up a post this weekend updating everyone.

Until tomorrow then.

Fred


Ebola Virus Disease a Crisis in West Africa

June 25, 2014

by Crane-Station

According to a report published in Business Insider on Monday titled, “Current Ebola Outbreak Is Now The Worst In History And ‘Totally Out Of Control’,” Doctors Without Borders’s Bart Janssens told the Associated Press that the current epidemic in Guinea is “now in a second wave” and that it is “totally out of control.” The World Health Organization (WHO) held a meeting on Monday, and posted information on the WHO website:

Ebola virus disease, West Africa – update

Disease Outbreak News
22 June 2014

Guinea

Between 16 and 18 June 2014, a total of 3 new cases and 3 deaths were reported from Gueckedou (3 cases and 0 death), Telimele (0 case and 2 deaths), and Boffa (0 cases and 1 death). This brings the cumulative number of cases and deaths reported from Guinea to 390 (258 confirmed, 88 probable, and 44 suspected) and 267 deaths.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Highlights

-June 16, 2014, the Guinea Ministry of Health announced a total of 398 suspect and confirmed cases of Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF), including 264 fatal cases.

-Affected districts include Conakry, Guéckédou, Macenta, Kissidougou, Dabola, Djingaraye, Télimélé, Boffa, Dubreka, and Kouroussa (see map).
254 cases across Guinea have been confirmed by laboratory testing to be positive for Ebola virus infection.

-In Guinea’s capital city, Conakry, 68 suspect cases have been reported to meet the clinical definition for EHF, including 33 fatal cases.
June 17, 2014, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation of Sierra Leone reported a cumulative total of 97 clinical cases of EHF (including 92 laboratory confirmations) and 49 fatal cases according to WHO.

-June 16, 2014, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Liberia reported a cumulative total of 33 suspect and confirmed EHF cases, including 24 reported fatalities and 18 laboratory confirmations.

-Genetic analysis of the virus indicates that it is closely related (97% identical) to variants of Ebola virus (species Zaire ebolavirus) identified earlier in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Gabon (Baize et al. 2014External Web Site Icon).

-The Guinean Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation of Sierra Leone, and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Liberia are working with national and international partners to investigate and respond to the outbreak.

Ebola virus disease (EVD) or Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is a virus that has no known cure, but education remains important, as does the provision of care to patients that do become infected. Also, standard precautions are critical and require supplies. For the health care workers in the field to ensure their own protection, increased precautions and equipment are also necessary. In addition, there are only a few laboratories in the world that are equipped to handle and perform research on Ebola.

The virus was first reported in the Congo in 1976, and is considered to have come from fruit bats initially. Ebola is associated with very high death rate (up to 90 percent). Ebola Virus is named after the Ebola River, where the first outbreak occurred in the Congo.

Photographs on flickr, creative commons:

Ebola in West Africa by European Commission

Ebola in Guinea, a Doctors Without Borders worker in protective clothing, by European Commission.

Guardian on Monday:

global development
West Africa Ebola epidemic is ‘out of control’
MSF warns that doctors are struggling to contain second wave of disease in region amid poor monitoring and communication
• Tackling the Ebola epidemic in west Africa: immediate medical action is not enough

Unrelated:

Last Wednesday, two of the three Decorah Eagles, D-18 and D-19 fledged, and the third, D-20, fledged on June 20.

Unfortunately, a short time later, two of the juveniles, in separate incidents were found down. D-20, the youngest, was weak and hungry. RRP believes it is a female. They fed her, re-released her, and the eagle father then located her. The second eagle was found in a creek, and the vet determined by x-ray and exam, that there is a humerus fracture on the wing. The Decorah Eagle Juvenile is at Save Our Avian Resources (SOAR), a rescue in Iowa, where surgery is planned to pin the fracture.

~Update on the Decorah Juvenile Eagle: June 23, 2014~

From Kay Neumann, Executive Director, SOAR

“X-ray shows oblique humerus fracture about an inch from the shoulder joint. Dr. Dirks will do surgery on Wednesday to pin. Will get plenty of food and fluids in him/her between now and surgery”

[The humerus is the large bone between the coracoid (shoulder) and the radius and ulna (elbow)]

There are two sites to visit for updates on the Decorah Eagles:

Decorah Eagles on Facebook

SOAR on Facebook


Open Thread Birthday

June 24, 2014

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Good morning:

I was born 67 years ago today in Karachi during Partition. My father was a Foreign Service Officer working for the State Department.

I’ve lived in Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador and the United States.

I am bilingual.

I am posting an open thread today and please wish our good friend Colin Black a happy birthday.

Fred


George Zimmerman has a new scam UPDATED BELOW

June 23, 2014

Monday, June 23, 2014

Good morning:

George Zimmerman has a new scam. He has written a 10-page book and he is self-publishing it on Amazon.

The title is Tips on Being an Effective Neighborhood Watch.

As most of you know, Amazon features excerpts from the books they sell. To read the excerpt, click on the book cover and the book opens . . .

To a disclaimer from Zimmerman that says, in part,

Not everyone will agree with the statements herein, which may or may not be factual, but in some ways may prove to be helpful.

More useless bullshit from George Zimmerman.

UPDDATE

This book probably is a parody, but I am not going to spend any money to find out.

The book is classified as humor/parody and the publisher is Redrum House, which is murder spelled backwards.

It was published on April 2nd, which is suspiciously close to April Fool’s Day.

If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can read it for free and let us know.

Parody or not, I am not going to link to anything with his name on it.

(h/t to Thrace, Malisha and Crane for tipping me off)


Theodore Wafer did not fear death or serious injury when he killed Renisha McBride

June 22, 2014

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Good afternoon:

Theodore Wafer did not fear imminent death or serious injury on November 2, 2013 when he opened his locked front door and shot 19-year-old Renisha McBride in the face through a locked screen door with a 12 gauge shotgun, killing her.

She was alone and unarmed.

She had collided with a parked car about a half mile from his house approximately 3 hours earlier and left the scene of the accident before police arrived. No one knows where she was or what she was doing until she started knocking on Wafer’s door around 4:30 am.

Witnesses who saw her at the scene of the accident, described her as dazed and bleeding from an apparent head injury.

The Detroit Free Press reports:

McBride’s blood alcohol level was 0.218%, and marijuana was detected in her system, according to the toxicology report released today by the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Wafer is charged with second degree murder. He claims self-defense. The trial, which is expected to last three weeks, is scheduled to start July 21st.

Wafer is white and McBride is black.

Police officers who investigated the crime scene at Theodore Wafer’s residence neglected to seize the screen door, which is one of the most important items of evidence in the case. Fortunately, they photographed it before leaving the scene and returned later to recover it.

The Voice of Detroit explains how that happened:

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy had to order the Dearborn Heights police, who first released Wafer without charges, to do a more thorough investigation of the case. They did a second crime scene review Nov. 11, during which they discovered a key piece of evidence, the perforated front door screen, in Wafer’s basement.

The exact condition of the screen door is important because the racist right-wing-hate-machine has been spreading a false story over the internet that McBride was ripping the screen door off its hinges when Wafer opened the inner door and shot her in the face, killing her, to prevent her from breaking into his house.

Here’s the police officer’s report describing the condition of the screen door when he arrived at Wafer’s residence in response to Wafer’s 911 call:

Northern most West side door was locked and no obvious sign of tampering to that door (partially collapsed wooden steps leading up to door).

The front entry door was open (no signs of prying, kicking or tampering) and the front screen door was closed/locked. The front screen was popped out with a tear in the screen (Cpl. Zawacki had photographed that upon arrival).

On the carpet near front door lay a Mossberg Model 500A 12 ga. pistol grip pump shotgun, black in color. I unlocked screen door while ME took photograph of shotgun through screen door. ID for Renisha Marie McBride on her person. TOT DHPD at scene. I popped screen back in place (held in loosely by one screwed in tab at the top and rested in the channel at the bottom of storm door) so Cpl Zawacki could photograph it in place with a tape measure, as shotgun blast could have blown screen out of place.

[Emphasis supplied]

Here’s the photograph of the screen door displaying the rip caused by the shotgun blast.

As everyone can plainly see from the officer’s report and the photograph, the door frame was intact, closed and locked when the officers arrived.

Furthermore, here’s a photograph of the inner door and front porch. A peephole is visible in the expected position and a white globe-style porch light is visible above and to the right of the door.

I believe we can reasonably assume that Wafer would have turned on the light, unless it was on, and looked through the peep hole before he opened the door.

Why did he open the door, if he feared imminent death or serious bodily injury?

Why did he claim the gun went off by accident, if he feared imminent death or serious bodily injury?

This is our 1099th post. If you appreciate what we do, please make a donation.

Thank you,

Fred


Detroit raises cost of water as it shuts off water and sewage to 3,000 customers per month

June 21, 2014

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Good afternoon:

Shocking news from Detroit: Common Dreams is reporting that on Tuesday the Detroit City Council approved an 8.7% increase in the cost of water. This is the latest increase in a series of increases during the past decade that raised the cost of water by 119%.

This rate hike follows an announcement in March by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department that it would start turning off water for accounts that are past due. According to a late May Director’s Report from the DWSD, there were “44,273 shut-off notices sent to customers in April 2014” alone, resulting in “3,025 shut-offs for nonpayment, and additional collections of $400,000.”

The Detroit Free Press reports:

The average Detroit resident currently pays $64.99 per month for water and sewer charges, according to the department’s presentation at a public hearing last week. The rate hike will increase the average monthly bill, effective July 1, to $70.67 — an 8.7% increase.

/snip/

The plan to increase rates comes as the water department faces public criticism for its efforts to shut off water service for delinquent customers.

The water department announced in March it was resuming efforts to shut off water service to more than 150,000 delinquent customers in order to collect about $118 million in outstanding bills. The department said it would target customers whose bills are more than two months late and would shut off about 3,000 customers a week.

Residents are having difficulty paying their monthly water bills because 14.5% of the population is unemployed, 40% of the population is living below the poverty line, and residential property owners have been devastated by the forfeiture crisis.

Common Dreams reports that residents are especially upset about the threat to shut off water and sewage because,

“When delinquent corporate water lines are still running without collection of funds, it demonstrates a level of intentional disparity that devalues the lives of the people struggling financially,” said Lila Cabbil, President Emeritus of the Rosa Parks Institute, which is part of the People’s Water Board. “Where is our compassion? Where is our humanity?”

The Metro Times describes the situation,

As we reported this week, the department will continue to cut service to roughly 3,000 delinquent customers per week who owe at least $150 to try recouping some $118 million in outstanding fees. The department has said upwards of 80,000 households are behind on their bill. According to DWSD representatives, they cut service to 7,056 residential and commercial accounts in April and May, which is “reaping great benefits with the department” — about $400,000.

That shouldn’t be how the department tries to generate revenue, says Maude Barlow, chairman of the Food & Water Watch Board and founder of Blue Planet Project.

“By denying water service to thousands, Detroit is violating the human right to water,” Barlow says in a statement this week. “After decades of policies that put businesses and profits ahead of the public good, the city now has a major crisis on its hands. It is shocking and abominable that anyone would be subjected to these conditions.”

Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, who was appointed to power by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder in March 2013, wants to privatize the water company. He does not appear to be the least bit interested in pursuing a humanitarian approach.

The future is bleak for thousands of people who face the inevitable shut-off and cannot afford to move.

Rebuffed at home, organizations concerned about the growing humanitarian crisis have turned to the United Nations for assistance claiming that Detroit is violating a basic human right to clean water.

Here’s Common Dreams,

The Submission to the Special Rapporteur was released Wednesday by the Detroit People’s Water Board, the Blue Planet Project, the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization and Food & Water Watch.

It calls for the “state of Michigan and U.S. government to respect the human right to water and sanitation” and for shut-offs to be halted, services restored, and water to be made accessible and affordable.

Never in my wildest paranoid nightmares did I envision people in a major urban center in the United States forced to drink unclean water and defecate in the streets.

Yet, after eliminating people’s jobs and stealing their homes, the rich are now determined to flog the poor by denying them clean water and sewage.

Do they not realize that feces in the street promotes disease and disease cannot be contained. Sooner or later they will reap the whirlwind caused by their evil greed and when at long last their wasted bodies are laid to rest, people will rejoice and dance on their graves.

BTW, the shameful mainstream media is ignoring this story.

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