Tuesday, June 30, 2009
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“The confrontation clause may make the prosecution of criminals more burdensome, but that is equally true of the right to trial by jury and the privilege against self-incrimination,” Justice Scalia wrote for a 5-4 majority in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts. The decision means that crime lab evidence can't be used against a defendant at trial unless the analysts who evaluate the evidence are subject to cross examination. Four dissenting justices said that scientific evidence should be treated differently than, say, statements from witnesses to a crime. They warned that the decision would subject the nation’s criminal justice system to “a crushing burden” and that it means “guilty defendants will go free, on the most technical grounds.”
Jeffrey L. Fisher, a law professor at Stanford who represented Mr. Melendez-Diaz, said perhaps a third of all states follow procedures that comply with Thursday’s decision. What that will mean as a practical matter remains to be seen. Criminal defense lawyers may still stipulate that crime lab reports are accurate, fearing that live testimony will only underscore their clients’ guilt. Others may insist on testimony in the hope that the analyst will be unavailable. Still others will now be able to prove that an analyst’s conclusion was mistaken or inconclusive. In February, the National Academy of Sciences issued a sweeping critique of the nation’s crime labs. It concluded, for instance, that forensic scientists for law enforcement agencies “sometimes face pressure to sacrifice appropriate methodology for the sake of expediency.”
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Back in April, Raby's DNA challenge, which has been going on more than six years, was postponed yet again pending an outside expert's look into Chu's blood-typing work in the original trial.
Chu had found two separate blood types under the victim's fingernails, and they belonged to neither Raby nor the victim. Yet Chu simply listed the results as inconclusive.
The report came in last week. In her conclusion, Patricia P. Hamby, the outside expert, states that Chu's "inconclusive" reporting "is contrary to and not supported by the recorded laboratory test results for the left and right fingernail samples."
According to Raby's lawyer, Sarah Frazier, "She essentially said that he lied about it on the stand."
A witness had provided a partial license plate number, so police decided that the fastest way to get the word out was by posting a message on Twitter seeking the public's help.
Within two hours, police were able to track down the alleged litter bug, a 17-year-old, thanks to a woman who happened to read the Twitter message and noticed a vehicle with a similar license plate number.
The littering incident is the first case that Epping police were able to solve with the help of Twitter, a free social networking Web site that allows users to post brief messages that can then be viewed by anyone.
"It's certainly encouraging to know that folks are following us and are willing to help us out," Sgt. Jason Newman said.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
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What can I find in Spoke?top
Spoke gives you access to over 55 million businesspeople at over 2.3 million companies. You can find individual contributors, managers, directors, and executives at target companies along with the information you need to access them - name, title, phone, address, job history, profiles, community comments and potential business connections. Search Spoke now to start discovering businesspeople.
Where does Spoke get data?Spoke collects and aggregates information about businesses and business contacts from various sources, including:
Publicly available information: Information that is available to the general public, including the Internet.
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Bierfeldt is director of development for the Campaign for Liberty, an outgrowth of the Ron Paul presidential campaign. He was returning from a regional conference March 29 when TSA screeners at Lambert-St. Louis (Missouri) International Airport saw a metal cash box in his carry-on bag. Inside was more than $4,700 dollars in cash -- proceeds from the sale of political merchandise like T-shirts and books.
There are no restrictions on carrying large sums of cash on flights within the United States, but the TSA allegedly took Bierfeldt to a windowless room and, along with other law enforcement agencies, questioned him for almost half an hour about the money.
The American Civil Liberties Union has taken up Bierfeldt's cause and is suing Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, whose department includes the TSA. Their complaint alleges that Bierfeldt was "subjected to harassing interrogation, and unlawfully detained."
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Studies have shown that cameras are less useful than adding more police officers to neighborhoods, improving lighting conditions in parking lots, or holding meetings among officers and citizens to increase public education about how individuals can protect themselves. It is true that footage from video surveillance cameras has been useful for post-crime investigation in some cases. But note that the cameras' usefulness comes after the crime has already been committed -- and that the funds used for that relatively rare benefit could do more to reduce crime if used more efficiently.
Camera surveillance systems also inevitably raise issues of racial profiling and voyeurism. Everyone has heard of the camera operators who zoom in upon women's breasts or police officers who used infrared video surveillance equipment to watch a couple engaged in romantic activity.
The bottom line is: Are cameras worth the cost in terms of money and civil liberties? Cities and states are still wasting limited security budget dollars on camera surveillance systems. In the last five years, the US Department of Homeland Security had handed out about $300 million in grants for camera surveillance systems. These funds could have gone toward hiring more experienced police officers, improving equipment for first-responders so that they can be ready to help in cases of emergency or other such security needs.
Private investigators can use this website to search numerous social networking websites with just one click.
"yoName turns your computer into a private detective. Look for anyone you want. You can even look them up by a username or an email address! If they're on any of the big-time networks like MySpace or Facebook, yoName will find them. Look up friends, family, ex-es. Look up yourself and see if someone's impersonating you. Or just have fun and look up celebrities, even if the first five entries for Paris Hilton are all "male, 39, single, in Madison, Wisconsin".
OK. Let's say you're at the club and you're flirting with this total stud (and he is way out of your league, by the way), and, boom, you score digits. The problem is, genius, that the next day they're still in the pocket when you toss your jeans in the wash. You remember his name, but he's not in the book.
Or let's say you and all your friends were gonna totally hang out after graduation and here it is, two years later, and everyone's either away at college or too busy and you have to pull out the yearbook to even remember your best friend's nickname."
Here is a list of the social websites they search:
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
They do post in other states so a quick search for merchandise in nearby states may be useful.
EFF is a donor-funded nonprofit and depends on your support to continue successfully defending your digital rights. Litigation is particularly expensive; because two-thirds of our budget comes from individual donors, every contribution is critical to helping EFF fight —and win—more cases."
Monday, June 15, 2009
Lt. Don Hutson said, "Not sure if he was unfamiliar with what this business was, that it's mountaineering gear and that type of thing."
Friday, June 12, 2009
The couple was found in a car matching the witness description near the construction site and identified as Mackey and a man from whom the district court prohibited her from contacting. Prosecutor Karl Durand said the no-contact order was issued May 29 after Mackey assaulted and bloodied the man with a telephone in a city hotel room.
McCain asked Mackey if she knew she was not supposed to be in contact with the man and she replied, “Yes but they had worked it out,” according to the officer’s report. Because police were unable to get a print copy of the restraining order, Mackey was not arrested at the scene, said Durand. “When we were in the port-o-potty, we weren’t doing anything nasty,” Mackey told Judge Sawako Gardner. “I just had surgery and I was holding onto him. No one wants to fall into a port-o-potty.”
Monday, June 8, 2009
In eight of the nine accidents during that time, which killed 137 people, pilots had a history of failing two or more "check rides," tests by federal or airline inspectors of pilots' ability to fly and respond to emergencies. In the lone case in which pilots didn't have multiple failures since becoming licensed, the co-pilot was fired after the non-fatal crash for falsifying his job application. Failing a single check during a career means little, but failing multiple times "really sends up the red flags," said Patrick Veillette, a corporate jet pilot who has written extensively on safety issues.
The NTSB has voiced concern about a loophole in a law requiring airlines to check pilots' records when hiring. The 1996 Pilot Records Improvement Act orders airlines to check pilot records from previous employers, but that does not cover failures that occurred while a pilot was in flight school.
The EPA requires states to have plans aimed at addressing the interstate transport of ozone pollution, the primary component of smog, and fine particles or soot, but WildEarth Guardians claims New Mexico, California and a handful of other Western states do not have such plans.
"EPA is two years late in fulfilling its mandatory duty to prepare federal good neighbor plans protecting the public from interstate soot and smog," according to the lawsuit filed Friday in federal court in San Francisco.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Florida's prison system is embroiled in a lawsuit filed by an ousted vendor on a major contract that accuses the state of illegally favoring a competitor.
MHM says the prison system began ''secret'' and ''closed-door'' talks with CMS more than two weeks before MHM and another vendor learned that their proposals were rejected. The department said the state has agreed to pay CMS $70 per inmate per month, in the first year of the contract, but with a $2.50 increase in each of four successive years. CMS would have a 30-day grace period to fix contract violations before the state could impose fines, which MHM called highly irregular. MHM is represented by Christopher Kise, who served as a legal advisor to Gov. Charlie Crist and was solicitor general when Crist was attorney general. The firm also has enlisted Brian Ballard, a prominent lobbyist with close ties to Crist
"The department's secret negotiations, violation of its own internal procedures, flaunting of the state's procurement process and inexplicable insistence on wasting $5-million in public funds does nothing but diminish public confidence in the department's expenditure of state funds,'' Kise argues in court papers.
In jail, Dodson went on a hunger strike and chose to exercise his right to remain silent. When finally asked to provide fingerprints and a mugshot, Sam complied but refused to give his legal name which is not required by state law. Despite having confirmed Sam's legal name through other sources, Judge Burke demanded that Sam personally submit his legal name or be held without trial indefinitely, a clear violation of federal and state law.
Burke's demands as of April 30th were as follows:
"Should the defendant decide he is willing to provide true and accurate identifying information about himself — the kind of information any other defendant is expected to provide — and is willing to accept the conditions of bail, the court will schedule a video arraignment as soon as possible thereafter. Until then the court is unwilling to schedule a trial date. While the prospect of the defendant’s indefinite confinement is distasteful, the court reiterates, however, that the defendant holds the key to his release."
Dodson's legal defense, Ivy Walker, had been working on different strategies to persuade the state to back down on its promise of indefinite incarceration without trial. After 53 days of incarceration and having dozens of filings of writs of habeas corpus denied, Walker notified the Keene City Council as well as other key bureaucrats that they would be personally held liable for the deprivation of Dodson's legal rights under federal law (42 USC 1983). Two days later, a trial date was finally set.