Monthly Archives: September 2011

The Hearing

It was just me and a hearing officer, a “member” of the Immigration and Refugee Board.  Decision was “reserved”, meaning the matter will be under consideration until a written decision is issued.

I have no idea what the decision will be.  I would anticipate it will not issue for two months or more.

There is some follow up work I have to do pertaining to some of the relevant issues.  The focus is primarily on whether there is “adequate state protection” in my home country.  Quite understandably, a refugee claim is subject to the objection that your own country is willing and able to address the problems you cite, and you have to demonstrate not only that this isn’t so, but that there is no place within the country to which you can escape.  Put another way, you must avail yourself of any available refuge in your own country before you ask another country.

It might be a sufficient answer to this objection that when you are dealing with public officials who use the processes of the government to carry out and conceal human rights abuses and crimes against humanity; and when the country itself holds that any process or public act by one governmental entity in one jurisdiction is entitled to “full faith and credit” in every other jurisdiction, then if you are a potential target of those officials your only recourse is to leave the country.  Certainly, I think that argument is available here and has been made.  But it never hurts to have more arguments, and there are some.  And there is also a high burden to establish that such a situation can exist in the United States, which is regarded by its allies – including Canada – as being generally incapable of such things.

I could say a lot more but I think it would be imprudent.  I’m going to do the required work as best I can and see what happens, which is more or less what I have been doing for the last seven years.

I did mention at one point that the United States, having been born in violent revolution, may be prone to political excesses; and that Canada, having a different history in that regard, has occasionally served as a check on those excesses in a neighborly way.  So there.  That’s another argument.

In any case, I’m in limbo for now.

 

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Michael Jackson: Another Surreal Story, Post Mortem

See, I thought from the headline that someone had subpoenaed CNN’s “Dr. Drew”, or hired him as an expert in the trial of Michael Jackson’s doctor.

But no, this is a mix & match:  the story is about what is going on in a trial, but the “expert” opinion is coming from a TV personality.

I don’t have a TV or see too much of Dr. Drew, but what I do see I don’t mind.  But I have to say I object to what he’s doing here.  This was a lawyer’s opening statement, not part of the evidence.   If he wants to critique what some expert witness actually says when the field is up his alley, that would be fair.  But this commentary is out of line.

And it’s prejudicing the defendant.

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A Note On The Press

One thing you might wonder about in connection with the whole Sephora Davis matter is:  why wouldn’t the press be all over this?

It’s complicated.  Rochester does have a local newspaper, though it isn’t much.  But they have a reporter, Gary Craig, who generally does a very good job in “investigative reporting” and often writes quite insightful in-depth pieces.  And he writes well, too.

So where was Gary Craig in all this?  I talked to him frequently while it was all going on, but aside from a couple of articles run on the back pages of the paper nothing appeared.  Since aside from this it wasn’t covered locally, nobody else picked up on it either.

You learn as you go along, I guess.  In theory one of the chief functions of the press is to expose official wrongdoing.  The practice, in almost every case, is quite different.  The press relies upon the favor of officials for much of the information that makes the day to day stories they like to run:  fires, crimes, crashes, disasters.  This is their bread and butter.  So the truth is, they cross public officials rarely and reluctantly.  The criterion for when they might on rare occasions is largely mysterious, even to them I think.

Let me paint with a broad brush for a minute, looking back to ancient press history and the US presidency.  The press largely toadied for FDR.  They didn’t particularly like Truman, but they never attacked.  Ike, the quasi military but more political hero of WWII was untouchable during his presidency, so almost no criticism was even heard, other than the affectionate kind where they sometimes implied that he played golf and took it easy too much.  They were utterly star struck by JFK.  Like almost every normal human being, they disliked LBJ, but he sucked up to them in everything he said and did so they left him alone.

Then came Nixon.

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Gotta Love The Photo…

in this article.

The Greek Finance Minister looks like he’s been up for three days being brow-beat by the muscle end of the gangsters banksters.

Of course the Finance Minister must say that Greece will do “whatever it takes” to pay their “debts” to the banksters.  Starve their women and children to death.  Make them homeless first.  Invade another country and loot it.  Lie, kill, cheat and steal.  I think that about covers the downside of “whatever it takes”.

In a debt based monetary system the prospect of default, especially “sovereign” default, is a mortal threat.  The response is bound to be threatened violence, albeit this is vaguely done in these international contexts.

Still, one often hears the term “moral hazard” applied to any proposal for debt forgiveness.  We now confront the moral hazard of refusing to consider debt forgiveness, but no one uses the term.

Yet this was a moral hazard that was quite well known to regular people not so long ago.

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More Power For Prosecutors?

One wonders if we’ll ever reach an upward limit.

From the New York Times, an interesting and topical article about the vanishing trial, the “trial tax”, plea bargaining, judges whose hands are tied leaving them free to play more golf because the executive (prosecutors) and legislatures have all the power.

Lots of good bullet points here:

In 1977, the year Judge Kane was appointed to the bench, the ratio of guilty pleas to criminal trial verdicts in federal district courts was a little more than four to one; by last year, it was almost 32 to one.

Here in Florida, which has greatly toughened sentencing since the 1990s, felony defendants who opt for trial now routinely face the prospect of higher charges that mean prison terms 2, 5, or even 20 times as long as if they had pleaded guilty. In many cases, the process is reversed, and stiffer charges are dismissed in return for a plea.

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How You Know Tom Moran Is Guilty

The short answer is that he was a party Respondent in the Prohibition proceeding begun in May of 2006 and dismissed as “moot” in December of 2006.  The Ashley Baker statement was put in evidence in that proceeding on November 17th, 2006.  After that, no sensible person familiar with the facts and circumstances could have doubted that convicting Sephora Davis and sending her to prison was wrongful, indeed criminal.

The same evidence – the Ashley Baker statement – leaves no doubt whatever that Dana Carson is guilty.

But there is more to it, having to do with Tom Moran’s role, and that also has to do with the Ashley Baker statement.

That statement was taken on January 24, 2004.  What was the situation on that date?  The robbery had occurred about six weeks earlier, at 4 AM on December 9, 2003.  Nine days later, on December 18th, Sephora was questioned by police investigators and by December 22nd, four days after that, the Geneseo Police Department had prepared a statement for her to sign, but she never did.  In the account of events that she was giving – which was false, but was probably the best information she had – she had been driving her car at the time in question at the place in question with two passengers.

Sometime after that – and it’s impossible to say exactly when but it was before January 23, 2004 – Dana Carson made contact with Eric Harder, who identified the actual persons involved in the robbery, including himself.  He also falsely claimed in his January 23, 2004 statement that Sephora had been driving.  Dana Carson knew that this information was false, because he fabricated the Ashley Baker statement the next day, the sole import of which was to corroborate the false claim that Sephora was driving the car.  Since it is unnecessary to fabricate evidence regarding a fact you believe to be true based on other evidence, that means Carson believed that Sephora had not been driving, and the only basis for that belief he would have had at that time was information given to him by Harder.

Tom Moran had been personally involved in the investigation of the robbery from the beginning, having issued a subpoena on December 15th.  The robbery took place on Court Street in Geneseo, a stone’s throw away from the Livingston County courthouse, the seat and center of local law enforcement, where Moran’s own office was located.  It was an affront to the power and dignity of local law enforcement officials and to Moran personally.  Sephora had been offered immunity in December.  That offer had come from Moran himself.

When Sephora refused to cooperate  Moran and the other police officers involved did what they do in that situation – they got mad.  And they decided, as a group, that they were going to get Sephora Davis for crossing them.

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Epilogue

I haven’t described everything that took place over seven years in the Sephora Davis resignation saga, not by a long shot.  I think most of the essentials are there.  I hope what I have put here on the blog is comprehensible to the people who bother to come here and read.

Seven years.  People are wrongfully convicted and sometimes those convictions are undone after 25 years, as in Pottawattamie.  Or after 15 years on death row, as in Connick v. Thompson.  But most of the time they are never undone.  The system doesn’t like to do that, and the vast majority of victims don’t even try.  Or, no one tries for them.

In the most recent example, Troy Davis, people fought the fight for 22 years.  In the end the state executed him anyway.  I think one of the most troublesome things about that case is that even assuming factual guilt as alleged by the state, the death penalty was out of line.  Its imposition had more to do with the status of the victim – a police officer – and the status of the convicted – a black man.  And Georgia, if not the US as a whole,  may yet have to come to terms with that in potentially very unpleasant ways, if only because factual guilt was highly doubtful to begin with.

The most striking thing about the wrongful conviction of Sephora Davis, which admittedly does not include the drama of the death penalty or a lengthy prison term (although 3+ years ain’t nothing and a life term was threatened),  is that the system conceded it was wrongful beforehand and just went ahead and did it anyway.  It was done on an Alford plea.  The powerful and even conclusive evidence that the charges were the product of fabrication and perjury had been presented to a court with jurisdiction to determine the outcome, and in any case was uncontested, but that wound up not mattering.

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