by Matt Clarke
The federal child pornography case against a California doctor was dismissed after the judge excluded all the evidence seized from his home because an FBI agent lied on the affidavit supporting the search warrant for his home, falsely claiming technicians working on the doctor’s computer had discovered child pornography.
Oncologist Dr. Mark Rettenmaier brought a computer to the Geek Squad at Best Buy for repair. It was sent to the company’s central repair facility in Kentucky. There, technicians discovered a photo of a naked girl in the unallocated space of the computer’s hard drive. The photo did not depict a sex act or show the approximately 9-year-old girl’s genitalia. The technicians had an agreement with the FBI office in Louisville in which they were paid each time they tipped the FBI to child pornography on computers they repaired, so they reported the photo.
FBI Special Agent Cynthia Kayle prepared an affidavit for a search warrant of Rettenmaier’s home falsely stating that the image found was child pornography, and not mentioning that it was found in the unallocated space or that the FBI paid the Geek Squad technicians who reported it. Unallocated space is where portions of deleted ...
by Matthew Clarke
The term “junk science” does not quite cover the revolution in our understanding of the diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome. Medical experts now know that their belief in how to diagnose a clear sign of child abuse based upon a determination of shaken baby syndrome was mistaken. This new understanding may cast doubt on hundreds of murder, assault, and child abuse convictions.
In the 1970s, pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Norman Guthkelch advanced the hypothesis that babies showing a certain pattern of injuries had been violently shaken. He thought he was on solid scientific footing. He adamantly believed that such babies—especially those with the so-call “triad” of brain swelling, together with bleeding on the brain’s surface and behind the retinas—were victims of abuse even if there were no outward signs of injury. “Shaken baby syndrome” soon became a medical consensus. In court, it was accepted as a scientific fact and used to convict hundreds of defendants.
However, over the past two decades, newer scientific research has proven that accidents, diseases, and genetic conditions can cause the damning triad and other symptoms associated with shaken baby syndrome. This has undermined faith in the credibility of a shaken baby syndrome diagnosis ...
by Matt Clarke
“Broken windows” policing has not been linked to a reduction in serious crime, but it has been linked to an increase in police lying. “Broken windows” policing is based on the belief that aggressive police enforcement of minor criminal violations—such as trespassing, possession of marijuana, or using public transportation without paying—causes a decrease in serious crimes.
To show an increase in enforcement, the arrest rate has to go up, so police officers are told to arrest more citizens. Some are even given daily quotas of arrests to make. A 2016 report by the NYPD’s Office of Inspector General found “no empirical evidence demonstrating a clear and direct link between an increase in summons and misdemeanor arrest activity and a related drop in felony crime.” Nonetheless, “broken windows” policing remains NYPD policy.
A vigilant officer might simply pay more attention to what is going on and pursue even the most minor of offenders. However, this would not ensure that the officer made the necessary quota of arrests.
The lazy and more common approach used by police under the “broken windows” policy is simply to lie. If you stop someone, frisk that person, and find an illegal knife ...
by Matt Clarke
An Ohio police officer who resigns under a cloud of pending disciplinary action or who is fired may not have reached the end of a law enforcement career. In some Ohio towns, employment as a police officer in another department is just down the road.
WCPO Cincinnati collected disciplinary records from 40 police departments in the Tri-State area and discovered that police officers who resign rather than face severe disciplinary action or termination are being hired by other police departments. Often the new department is lax on checking prior employment history and does not know about the previous disciplinary issues. Unfortunately, some of the officers continue the same practices that forced them out of their previous jobs.
WCPO found that some departments fail to do even the most basic of background checks. That’s what happened when the New Miami Police Department hired Joe Redmond, who avoided criminal charges by resigning his post as a Colerain Township police sergeant after he improperly used Ohio’s Law Enforcement Automated Data System (“LEADS”) to access information about his then-fiancée and a man who was dating one of his co-workers with whom he was also involved. That was criminal unauthorized use of ...
by Matt Clarke
In 1931, a commission to investigate Prohibition-era corruption appointed by President Hoover issued the Wickersham Report. The report criticized the so-called Third Degree, which was the standard police interrogation technique of the time and involved beating a suspect until he or she confessed, then lying about the beating in court (though regular observers of today’s criminal justice system know that the Third Degree has not disappeared completely).lthough you may never have heard the term “Reid Technique” of police interrogation, you have likely seen it in action in televised police dramas. Using this technique, police lock suspects into claustrophobic rooms, then bully, cajole, and lie to them until they confess. During some interrogations, police feed the suspect information about the crime known only to the perpetrator and police then use its presence in the confession to “prove” its validity. Critics say the Reid Technique increases the chances of a false confession. Recently, a leading company in the training of law enforcement announced it would no longer teach the Reid Technique, replacing it with non-confrontational methods of interrogation in its training programs.
The Report was popularized in a widely read book that shocked the public. Soon, juries began ...
by Matt Clarke
With little opposition from either party, the Texas Legislature passed HB 3391, authorizing the creation of the nation’s first public safety employees treatment courts. The courts will allow police, firefighters, prison and jail guards, and emergency medical services employees facing charges to defer criminal prosecution by entering a treatment program. Program fees will be up to $1,000, and those who complete it will have their criminal charges dismissed. Participants will neither face criminal punishment nor have a criminal record.
Public safety employees will be able to enter the program regardless of what kind of felony or misdemeanor offense with which they are charged. The only requirements are that the current or former public safety employee have “suffered from a brain injury, mental illness, or mental disorder that occurred during or resulted from the defendant’s duties as a public safety employee and affected the criminal conduct at issue” and “participation in the program was likely to achieve the objective of ensuring public safety through rehabilitation.”
The law requires: that the defendant be provided with legal counsel before volunteering for the program; an individualized treatment plan, and an opportunity to withdraw from the program at any point ...
by Matt Clarke
The family of an intoxicated man abandoned by Delaware County, Ohio, sheriff’s deputies at a Taco Bell before he wandered onto a highway and was fatally struck by a vehicle has settled a lawsuit against the county and several sheriff’s department officials for $300,000.
After several ...
by Matt Clarke
Wisconsin has a huge backlog of untested rape kits. In 2017, state Attorney General Brad Schimel estimated there were more than 6,300 untested rape kits. The number of rape kits involving allegations of child sexual abuse was 2,441 as of late 2017. A little under half of them involved children younger than 10.
According to published data, 62 percent of the rape kits involving child victims and 70 percent of the 3,300 rape kits involving adult victims are scheduled for testing in 2018. Private forensic labs are to undertake most of the testing.
Schimel vigorously objects to the term “backlog.” He said most of the kits were not tested because law enforcement chose not to test them. The reasons they might choose not to submit a rape kit include the victim refusing to consent to having the kit tested, or the evidence the kit could provide is unnecessary because prosecutors already have a conviction, overwhelming evidence that the sexual activity occurred, or they believe no crime occurred. However, in applications for federal grants to pay for crime lab work submitted in 2014 and 2015, Schimel repeatedly referred to the untested evidence as a ...
by Matt Clarke
On September 27, 2017, the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas held that a judge must issue a jury charge on self-defense in a prosecution for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon even if the defendant’s version of events supporting self-defense is weak, contradicted, or not credible.
Cesar Alejandro Gamino was with his girlfriend walking to his parked truck at about 1:30 a.m. in downtown Fort Worth, Texas. As they passed three men sitting on a street corner, one made a lewd remark. A verbal confrontation ensued. Gamino walked to his truck, pulled out a firearm, and pointed it at the men. Two off-duty police officers working as private security nearby heard Gamino shout, “I got something for you” as he brandished the weapon.
Gamino was convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. At trial, he testified the men had threatened to “grab [his girlfriend’s] ass,” “F her if they wanted to,” and “kick [his] ass.” The threats and the fact that he is disabled made him believe that he and his girlfriend were in danger when one of the men stood up and approached him. He said he pulled the ...