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Archive for April, 2012

Really? Accused murderer has gun tattooed between eyebrows.

You might want to touch that up with a little make-up before you go before a jury of your peers.

courtesy http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/crime/boynton-beach-teen-suspected-target-of-march-shooting-2324373.html

Boynton Beach teen, suspected target of March shooting, charged with first-degree murder

By Cynthia Roldan and Julius Whigham II

Palm Beach Post Staff Writers

Updated: 9:46 p.m. Thursday, April 26, 2012

Posted: 10:41 a.m. Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A 17-year-old man who was thought to be the intended target when his mother and aunt were shot to death in a home invasion last month has been charged with first-degree murder in a separate case.

Jimmy “Boo Boo” Clemons Jr. had been wanted for questioning since he was last seen shortly after his mother and aunt were killed March 17.

On Tuesday, Boynton Beach police found Clemons and arrested him on charges of burglary, grand theft of a firearm and possession of a firearm by a minor. Early Wednesday, a judge ordered him held in lieu of $5,000 bail and to have no contact with any weapons. He later was released from jail.

On Wednesday night, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office charged Clemons with first-degree murder in the slaying of Valley Alexandre, 22, of Riviera Beach on March 16 in Lantana.

Sheriff’s investigators said Clemons and Alexandre attended a house party in the Lake Worth area on the night of the murder.

Witnesses told investigators Clemons wanted to rob Alexandre because he believed Alexandre had a large amount of illegal narcotics in his possession.

According to the arrest report, Alexandre drove to the 600 block of Ridge Road, just east of Interstate 95 in Lantana, and met with two men who entered the back seat of his car. One man grabbed Alexandre in a headlock and pointed a gun to his head.

A witness who was in the car told investigators he jumped out of the vehicle and later heard several gunshots. The witness identified Clemons as the person who entered the car and assaulted Alexandre with the gun.

Clemons’ arrest Tuesday was the result of a hard decision his father — Jimmy Clemons Sr. — made March 21, four days after the elder Clemons’ wife and her sister were murdered by gunmen armed with high-powered semi¬automatic rifles.

The two sisters — Janice Rahming, 54, and Daphne Clemons, 41 — were in the Clemonses’ living room exchanging beauty tips when gunmen barged into their home and killed them.

Days after the shooting, law-enforcement sources told The Palm Beach Post their killings were likely in retaliation for Alexandre’s March 16 shooting.

On March 21, Clemons Sr. learned that his 9mm Ruger was gone from a drawer at his home. He called his son to ask if he had taken it.

By the time the conversation was over, the younger Clemons confessed to his father he’d taken the gun “for protection when he leaves the house,” according to the probable-cause affidavit. Before leaving his home to tell police of the incident, the elder Clemons said he saw his son put the gun back into the drawer, the affidavit said.

But, he said he chose to tell police anyway because he knew he had to.

“That’s what you gotta do,” Clemons Sr. said Wednesday. “He’s a juvenile. I didn’t have a choice.”

The elder Clemons said he didn’t know why his son felt he needed the gun for protection. When he was interviewed by police, Clemons Sr. said his son has not lived with him for about six months.

Judges, journalists clash over courtroom tweets

By MICHAEL TARM

The Associated Press

CHICAGO — Getting news from a big trial once took days, moving at the speed of a carrier pigeon or an express pony. The telegraph and telephone cut that time dramatically, as did live television broadcasts.

Now comes Twitter with more changes, breaking up courtroom journalism into bite-size reports that take shape as fast as a reporter can tap 140 characters into a smartphone. But the micro-blogging site is increasingly putting reporters on a collision course with judges who fear it could threaten a defendant’s right to a fair trial.

The tension was highlighted recently by a Chicago court’s decision to ban anyone from tweeting or using other social media at the upcoming trial of a man accused of killing Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson’s family. Reporters and their advocates insist the practice is essential to providing a play-by-play for the public as justice unfolds.

“We’re troubled by this ban,” said Ed Yohnka, Chicago spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union. Tweeting and social media are “merely the 21st century version of what reporters have always done — gather information and disseminate it.”

Judges, he said, should embrace Twitter as a way to shed light on the judicial process, which, for many Americans, remains shrouded in mysterious ritual.

The judge in the Illinois case fears that feverish tweeting on smartphones could distract jurors and witnesses when testimony begins April 23.

“Tweeting takes away from the dignity of a courtroom,” said Irv Miller, media liaison for Cook County Judge Charles Burns. “The judge doesn’t want the trial to turn into a circus.”

Burns is allowing reporters to bring cellphones and to send e-mails periodically, a notable concession in a state that has only recently announced it will begin experimenting with cameras in court and where cellphones are often barred from courtrooms altogether.

There’s also an overflow courtroom where reporters can tweet freely. But there will be no audio or video of proceedings in the room, just live transcripts scrolling across a screen.

The issue extends beyond journalists to jurors, whose tweets have raised issues of their own across the country.

Last year, the Arkansas Supreme Court threw out a death row inmate’s murder conviction after one juror tweeted during proceedings and another slept. Juror Randy Franco’s tweets ranged from the philosophical to the mundane. One read, “The coffee sucks here.” Less than an hour before the jury returned with a verdict, he tweeted, “It’s all over.”

There’s little gray area regarding jurors tweeting. The Arkansas trial judge had warned jurors, “Don’t Twitter anybody” about the case. Burns was similarly explicit during jury selection in Chicago.

But there’s no consensus among either state or federal judges about the propriety of in-court tweets, so individual judges are often left to craft their own rules.

For instance, the judge in the child sexual abuse case of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky has allowed reporters to tweet from pretrial hearings but not to transmit verbatim accounts or to take photographs. Judge John Cleland hasn’t indicated whether he will change that policy for the June trial.

In some ways, Judge Burns has gone further than others.

To ensure his ban is respected, he’s assigned a member of the sheriff’s department to track reporters’ Twitter accounts while court is in session. To get accreditation to cover the trial, reporters had to disclose their Twitter handles.

If there appears to be a tweet from inside the courtroom, Penny Mateck will report it to the judge. “He’ll decide what action to take,” she said. Penalties could include contempt-of-court sanctions.

Peter Scheer, director of the California-based First Amendment Coalition, said having a sheriff’s employee monitor tweets makes him uneasy, but it doesn’t seem to violate anyone’s rights because most Twitter feeds are already open for anyone to see.

Still, some observers are puzzled why e-mails would be OK, but tweets are out of order.

The judge, Miller explained, believes that having reporters constantly hunched over their phones pecking out tweets is more disruptive than sending an email every 10 or 15 minutes.

“We have been dealing with this issue of tweeting in court a lot these days — but this is an approach I have never heard of before. It’s weird,” said Lucy Dalglish, director of the Virginia-based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

She wondered if there wasn’t a greater risk of inaccuracies when reporters at the scene e-mailed colleagues at news bureaus, who then put their own interpretation on emailed text and published it on websites or their own Twitter accounts.

Radio journalist Jennifer Fuller is equally perplexed.

“We’ve been taking notes in courts for years,” said Fuller, president of the Illinois News Broadcasters Association. “If a dozen reporters put their heads down to start writing at the same time, couldn’t you say that’s as disruptive as tweeting?”

It’s not just Twitter’s potential to distract. Other judges worry that tweets about evidence could pop up uninvited on jurors’ cellphones, possibly tainting the panel.

In their request for a new trial, attorneys for Texas financier R. Allen Stanford, who was convicted of fraud last month, argued that tweeting by reporters distracted jurors and created other risks. The federal judge denied the request without explanation.

And a Kansas judge last week declared a mistrial after a Topeka Capital-Journal reporter tweeted a photo that included the grainy profile of a juror hearing a murder case. The judge had permitted camera phones in court but said no photos were to be taken of jurors.

Reporter Ann Marie Bush hadn’t realized one juror was in view, Publisher Gregg Ireland said, adding that the company “regrets the error and loss of the court’s time.”

Journalists understand judges’ concerns, Dalglish said. But the better solution is for courts to do what they have done for decades — tell jurors not to follow news on their case, including by switching off their Twitter feeds.

One obstacle to reaching a consensus is that no one can agree on just what Twitter is or does. Some judges say it’s broadcasting, like TV, which is banned from courtrooms in some states. Fuller says tweets are more like notes that get shared.

Because Twitter has become the medium through which some consumers get most of their news, it’s all the more urgent for judges and journalists to come to an accommodation, Fuller said.

And her association’s policy on tweeting in court?

“We don’t have one yet,” she said. “We’re working at it. Finding a middle ground will take time.”

___

Associated Press Writer Mark Scolforo in Harrisburg, Pa., contributed to this report.

Another Monday, another win for a client.

Another client success story for a second Monday in a row.

Today I appeared in court representing M.B. who was charged with violating his felony probation for failing two drug tests and failing to pay as directed.  The probation department petitioned the Court to revoke client’s first offender treatment and send him to a probation detention center for several months.

Despite the fact that in the 14 months M.B. had been on probation he had never made a payment to the probation officer towards his fines and fees, the judge only sentenced M.B. to an additional four days in jail.  M.B. will be home by the weekend!

-Eric C. Crawford
Attorney at Law

Really? Prosecutor arrested in large-scale marijuana ring.

MarijuanaCourtesy NJ.com at http://www.nj.com/jjournal-news/index.ssf/2012/04/north_bergen_prosecutor_arrest.html

North Bergen prosecutor arrested on charges of participation in large-scale marijuana ring

Michaelangelo Conte/The Jersey Journal

A North Bergen municipal prosecutor has been arrested on charges he played a role in a large scale marijuana distribution network that shipped as much as 1,000 pounds of high-grade pot to the area from Northern California, officials said.

North Bergen Municipal Prosecutor Marcanton Macri, 44, of Edgewater, was remanded to Bergen County jail Friday after being charged with money laundering and financial facilitation, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli announced.

“North Bergen had no knowledge of any of Mr. Macri’s alleged activities and he will be suspended without pay immediately,” North Bergen spokesman Phil Swibinski told The Jersey Journal yesterday.

Macri’s law practice, Sokolich & Macri, is based in Fort Lee and his partner is Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich.

The two-month investigation centered on Matthew Martin, 43, and Danny Saleh, 34, both of Edgewater, who police say were making bi-monthly, one- to two-day trips to a California area known in the drug world as the Emerald Triangle, Molinelli said.

Once in the area known for pot growing, the pair allegedly purchased pot and used a number of post offices north of San Francisco to mail it back to associates in Linden, Rahway, Edgewater and Brooklyn, Molinelli said.

Boxes most recently sent from California were intercepted and found to contain about 100 pounds of suspected marijuana with a street value of $400,000, Molinelli said, adding that both men were arrested.

During the investigation Martin and Saleh allegedly used the services of Anthony Alberga, 22, of New Milford, an assistant bank manager “in a local bank,” Molinelli said.

Police say Martin and Saleh met often with Alberga to exchange lower denomination currency for $100 bills in order to reduce the weight and bulk of the money they transported through an airport on trips to California, reports said.

“It has also been learned that the relationship between Martin and Saleh with Alberga was facilitated through Macri,” the press release states.

The probe resulted in the seizure of $250,000 in cash, a Lamborghini, Rolls Royce, Maserati, Mercedes Benz, Audi R8, Range Rover, and Infiniti, as well as two ounces of suspected cocaine, six guns and more pot, Molinelli said. Martin and Saleh each paid about $5,000 per month in rent for their Edgewater homes, Molinelli said.

Several others were also arrested and additional suspects are being sought as part of the probe that is being conducted with the help of several law enforcement agencies, Molinelli said.

Really? Man Uses Physics to Fight $400 Traffic Ticket

Courtesy NBC: http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/UCSD-Physicist-400-Traffic-Ticket-147450815.html

Man Uses Physics to Fight $400 Traffic Ticket

Dmitri Krioukov used his knowledge of angular and linear motion in a very unique way to fight a pricey traffic ticket

A UCSD physicist used his knowledge and a little creativity to get himself out of a $400 traffic ticket.

Dmirti Krioukov was issued a traffic ticket for failing to completely stop at a stop sign. Instead of paying the ticket or going to traffic school, the physicist fought the citation by writing a four-page paper explaining how the ticket he was given defies physics.

Using his knowledge of angular and linear motion, Krioukov prepared a paper for the judge in his case and was able to argue – and prove – his innocence.

The paper explained how what the officer “thought” he saw, he didn’t really see, according to the laws of physics.

“Therefore my argument in the court went as follows: that what he saw would be easily confused by the angle of speed of this hypothetical object that failed to stop at the stop sign. And therefore, what he saw did not properly reflect reality, which was completely different,” said Krioukov.

Before others try the “physics defense” in before a judge, Krioukov warned that it took a perfect combination of events for his argument to legitimately hold up.

By the way, when asked if he really did stop at the stop sign, the physicist stuck to his argument.

“Of course I did,” he said with a smile.

AJC.com – Deal signs welfare drug-testing mandate

Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC)COURTESY AJC at http://www.ajc.com/news/georgia-government/deal-signs-welfare-drug-1418822.html

Deal signs welfare drug-testing mandate

By Kristina Torres

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

12:58 p.m. Monday, April 16, 2012

Gov. Nathan Deal on Monday signed off on Georgia’s proposal to drug-test parents who seek welfare, pushing the state towards a legal confrontation with opponents over the new law’s fairness.

Deal signed House Bill 861 without ceremony or immediate comment. The Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights said earlier this month it was preparing a lawsuit if the state moved ahead with the mandate. The American Civil Liberties Union also had issues with the bill.

The new law requires parents who apply for the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to pay for and pass a drug test that would cost at least $17. TANF provides temporary financial help to low-income families with children. Passing the drug test once would be a condition of eligibility to receive benefits.

Opponents argue that drug testing of welfare recipients violates the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches. Supporters believe it will save the state money and promote personal responsibility.

The bill received final passage March 29, supported by a solid Republican majority on the last day of this year’s legislative session. Their approval came despite an ongoing legal challenge in Florida against a similar measure.

 

Good Win in Gwinnett State Court!

Police Stop Blue LightsThe best way to start a week is with a win in court on Monday, which happened for Eric Crawford and his client P.D. in the Gwinnett County State Court.

Background: P.D. pulled his vehicle into a shopping center around midnight on December 02, 2010.  He was waiting to meet a friend so he could follow that friend back to his house, as he was unfamiliar with the area.  Two police officers approach, and P.D. gets out of his car and throws his hands up, smiling, saying “I didn’t do it!”  The officers, who apparently left their standard issue sense of humor back at the station, ordered him back into his car.  The encounter eventually leads to the officers finding a bag of marijuana outside P.D.’s car, tackling him to the ground, and arresting him on felony charges.

The first order of business was to get the felony drug charge dismissed, which the DA’s office did on June 8, 2011.  When the case was formally charged in State Court, I filed a motion to suppress, alleging that the police illegally detained and searched P.D. from the initial encounter.

On April 9, 2012, a hearing on the motion was held before Judge Iannazzone.  After hearing evidence from the two officers and arguments from counsel for the State and the accused, the judge found that when the police ordered P.D. back into the car he was illegally detained, moving this from a consensual police-citizen encounter to a detention which required a reasonable, articulable suspicion, something the police officer did not and could not articulate.

This is a great victory for P.D., who has since moved to another state and has a great job.

-Eric C. Crawford
Attorney at Law