Articles Posted in Articles of Interest

Last September, surveillance video captured PJ Nilaja Patterson’s savage and fatal attack on an iguana. While Florida law allows people to kill the invasive species in a quick and humane manner, Patterson’s half-hour attack left the iguana with a lacerated liver, a broken pelvis, and internal bleeding.

Patterson was charged with animal cruelty, but said he only beat the iguana after it bit him in the arm. Patterson’s attorney attempted to use the “stand your ground” defense, but Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Dana Gillen rejected this defense and ruled today that Patterson must stand trial on a felony animal cruelty charge

Adopted 16 years ago, Florida’s “stand your ground law” states, “A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

On May 27, a St. Johns County Grand Jury indicted 14-year-old Aiden Fucci on first-degree murder charges for the stabbing death of 13-year-old Tristyn Bailey. Fucci was initially charged with second-degree murder, but the charges were upgraded to first-degree murder due to the nature of the crime. This indictment automatically moves his case to adult court.

Bailey’s family reported her missing in the early hours of May 9. Her body was later found that day in a wooded area near her house. Bailey sustained a total of 114 stab wounds, with at least 49 defensive wounds to her head, hands, and arms.

Fucci was immediately called into questioning by police and taken into custody on May 10. The arrest warrant shows that friends of Fucci told investigators that he made multiple statements indicating he intended to kill someone by taking them into the woods and stabbing them. DNA evidence was also found connecting Bailey to Fucci, including her DNA on some of his clothing.

(Thanks to Elizabeth Chailosky for her work on this post)

HYPOTHETICAL

You see your teenager being arrested by police. You approach police who tell you to get away. You feel thoroughly scared and helpless. With the Derek Chauvin trial still fresh in your mind, you pull out your phone and begin recording officers. The officers see you standing across the street recording them. They shout, “Stop recording us or we will arrest you!” You continue to record believing that you have a legal right to do so. Even though you’re keeping your distance and not interfering with the officers in any way, you are stripped of your liberty and charged with obstruction. This arrest must be an unlawful, right?

INTRODUCTION

As you’ve likely heard, President Trump has alleged that the 2020 election was stolen from him and was filled with fraud. As you’ve also likely heard, Trump has filed a number of lawsuits in an attempt to overturn the election. Many are wondering whether Trump will be successful. The straight answer: Trump and his legal team have three hurdles they must overcome, and each one seems insurmountable.

1. Evidence

WHAT HAPPPENED

Recently, a man boarded a Jet Blue flight from New York City’s Kennedy Airport bound for Palm Beach, Florida. Prior to boarding he had been tested for the coronavirus and was awaiting test results. He failed to disclose that information to anyone from the airline. While on the flight, the man learned that he tested positive for the deadly virus. The crew and 114 passengers were stuck on the tarmac for hours awaiting instructions from health officials. Jet Blue has permanently banned the passenger from all of their future flights, indicating that the passenger, “…put their “crewmembers, customers, and federal and local officials in an unsettling situation that could have easily been avoided.” The coronavirus positive patient is currently in isolation at this time.

Many have been wondering whether the passenger should face criminal charges for his actions. Law enforcement are reportedly looking into that issue right now. What do you think?

neonbrand-AOJGuIJkoBc-unsplash-300x200Among the various changes and laws affecting Florida next week, the minimum wage will be seeing a bump. Florida is among the eight states that will automatically increase these rates on New Year’s Day, which is calculated by taking into account the annual cost of living calculations.

Per the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (FDEO), which calculates the annual adjustments, the increase will result in an increase of 1.12 percent, which is roughly a dime, or about $8.56 an hour beginning next year, up from the existing $8.46 hourly.

Tipped employees have a current rate of $5.44 hourly which will change slightly to $5.54 an hour, according to the FDEO.

computer-1591018_1280-300x196With close friends and family, borrowing their belongings such as an item of clothing or perhaps a video game or two is common. However, if the relationship goes south for whatever reason, the person whose items were borrowed may accuse the borrower of stealing their belongings.

How does borrowing differ from theft? Theft means a person intended to commit a criminal act. If, for example, a person simply forgot they had the item in their possession and never returned it, a prosecutor may not be able to bring up a theft charge.

Prosecutors may have trouble proving that the borrower’s intention was indeed to steal an item rather than borrowing it. Even if a person quietly kept the item with the hopes its original owner would forget about it, for example, chances may be slim that a court of law would accept “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the intention was to steal.

I didn’t believe it until I read about it in several different media reports. A six year old Florida girl was arrested and charged with battery. Apparently she threw a temper tantrum in class, resulting in law enforcement being summonded. They handcuffed her, transported her to the juvenile detention center (fancy name for “kid jail”) and then she was fingerprinted. As if that wasn’t enough humiliation, they also had her mugshot taken.

What country are we living in? Who in their right mind would ever order this to occur? The answer to “Who would do this?” is… Officer Dennis Turner, from the Orlando Police Department. Fortunately, we are now hearing that he broke protocol by not contacting his commander. I say, “Fortunately,” because I’d hate to think that this is the standard operating procedure in that jurisdiction. I would lose sleep knowing that this is the norm.

For what it’s worth, the child’s grandmother alleges that the girl suffers from sleep apnea and hasn’t been sleeping much lately. She believes the child’s behavior resulted from sleep depravation. Additionally, I’ve seen plenty of photos and video showing the size of the six year old child. She’s tiny. Think about the smallest Huxtable kid or grandkid. Yeah, that’s about right.

OVERVIEW

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past several months, you now know about the extremely controversial plea deal that Jeffrey Epstein was afforded. He received 13 months in county jail, had to register as a sex offender, and was ordered to pay restitution to his numerous victims. Many are outraged at the result, finding it way too lenient. Whether you think that was a fair outcome likely hinges on whether you believe what former Labor Secretary/Former U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta said during his recent press conference, held just days before he resigned from Trump’s cabinet. If you believe him, then you subscribe to the notion that it was the best deal prosecutors could get under challenging circumstances and that both he, the career prosecutors who also worked on the case, and law enforcement agents, all acted in good faith in order to obtain for the victims the best possible resolution they could negotiate. If you believe Acosta, then you factor into the equation the things that he mentioned, like how the Government’s case wasn’t a slam dunk and that the climate for these types of cases was very different both in and out of court in 2008 than it is now. If you don’t believe Acosta, then you think something very different. Many have even gone as far as to suggest that Acosta intentionally tanked his case for personal benefit.

Whether Acosta was being honest and/or whether prosecutors did the right thing back then is not the focus of this article. There’s already plenty of those articles out there. You’re free to feel how you’d like. I have no agenda. What I want to focus on is what will most likely happen as a result of this uproar. One thing is for sure, there will be significant changes in the criminal arena as a result of the Epstein case controversy.

As you’ve likely heard by now, all charges against former Empire Star Jussie Smollett were dropped by Cook County prosecutors in a Chicago criminal courtroom yesterday. You’ve probably heard the facts, however, just in case, here’s an article from yesterday to get you caught up to speed: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/26/arts/television/jussie-smollett-charges-dropped.html

I want to discuss what we learned today and why I am feeling pissed, angered, livid, upset and/or frustrated. During an interview with First Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Joseph Magats, who lead the investigation, he said “I do not believe he (Smollett) is innocent.” In explaining why they dropped charges, Magats said, “Based on all the facts and circumstances, based on his life and criminal background. I mean, we defer and do alternative prosecutions. In the last two years, we’ve done 5,700 other felony cases.” What he didn’t say was that they had any problems with proving their case. So why the heck did Smollett get the deal of the century?

To Mr. Magats, I passionately state in response, “THIS ISN’T YOUR TYPICAL CASE, MR. MAGATS!!!!!! There is nothing typical or average or ordinary about this case Mr. Magats!!!! MR. MAGATS, THE CHARGES IN THIS CASE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DROPPED!!!!!!! YOU SCREWED UP, SIR!!!”

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