Articles Posted in Breaking News

FACTS

This story got my attention. Ricky Weinberger was recently arrested on Miami Beach for allegedly making a bunch of “harassing” telephone calls to law enforcement. Apparently, he also posted lots of threats against police on the bulletin board of an on line police themed web site. Most troubling for law enforcement is what they found at his small apartment when they arrested him. Weinberger had stockpiled 16 weapons, which allegedly included six assault rifles, along with 4500 rounds of ammunition. Police believe this was a catastrophe waiting to happen.

Judge Mindy Glazer held Weinberger with no bond. He has three other pending criminal cases that were made against him over the past year. His attorney attempted to secure his freedom by arguing that his both his speech and weapons possession were constitutionally protected. That argument failed.

INTRODUCTION

It was an eerie feeling. As I walked into Terminal 2 of the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood Airport, just days after the horrific shooting, I was consumed with emotion. It hit me that I was in “The room where it happened.” (Yes, even when describing something dark and emotional, “Hamilton” references still flow out of me) There was an overwhelming presence of media and law enforcement both inside and outside of the terminal. I was headed to Minneapolis for an appearance in federal criminal court. My return flight on Delta Airlines into Fort Lauderdale was the exact one the shooter had taken just days earlier. This case still consumes me. I find myself frequently discussing it with friends and colleagues. I’ve chosen to write this article because I’ve found from my discussions that there’s a lot of misinformation concerning this case. Also, there are many wondering what will likely happen to the shooter, Esteban Santiago. To best be of service in this article, I’ve attempted to answer the most common questions that I believe are on the minds of most people at this time.

QUESTIONS

PROBLEM

Each year, approximately 450,000 Americans are held in jail every day because they don’t have enough money to bond out. It’s been called a “wealth-based detention scheme.” Many have had enough of this unfair system which detains poor folks even for non violent misdemeanor offenses. Many judges often set bail that they know people cannot afford as a way to keep them incarcerated. Former attorney general Eric Holder has chosen to support the cause. He believes the pretrial detention system is unconstitutional. He recently argued that judges must set bail that people can actually afford, while continuing to deny bail for those who are a danger to the community and/or a flight risk. While Holder’s focus is primarily on Maryland criminal courts, the problem exists throughout the criminal system in almost every U.S. city.

A 2014 state commission alleged that two-thirds of the inmate population is made up of pretrial detainees. 68 percent of those were stuck in jail solely because they couldn’t afford to pay for their bail. By singling out poor people and engaging in this practice, judges are violating the 14th Amendment’s due process and equal protection clauses.

Remember the show “Happy Days?” The Fonz could never say one particular word. Even when he knew he made a mistake he couldn’t admit that he was “wrong.” He’d attempt to say it: “I was wroooo…” He never could quite enunciate the word clearly. For some reason, Fonzie had some internal blockage with saying the word “wrong.”

Ryan Lochte, apparently, doesn’t have a problem saying that word but, like Fonzie, he does have a problem saying another word.

During his recent interview with Matt Lauer, Lochte admitted that he was wrong and that the incident at the Rio gas station was his fault. However, neither in his press release that he posted on Twitter nor in his Matt Lauer interview did he ever admit that he “lied.” Rather, in his release, he wrote that he needed to be “more careful and candid” in how he described the events. To Matt Lauer, he stated “I over-exaggerated that story.” Well, yeah, that he did too. However, he just couldn’t come out and say he lied, even though that’s what he did. He told several lies. For example, he never had a gun pressed to his forehead and cocked like he initially stated. He never faced armed assailants flashing police badges, like he alleged. Those were LIES!

INTRODUCTION

On March 30, 1981, as former President Ronald Reagan left the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington D.C., John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate the president. Hinckley drew his revolver and fired six rounds, injuring President Reagan and three other individuals. Roughly a year after the assassination attempt, Hinckley, who faced 13 criminal charges, was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was committed to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, a federally operated psychiatric facility in Washington D.C. Today, 35 years after that fateful day Hinckley decided to pull the trigger, a federal judge ruled that he shall be released from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital to live with his mother in her home as early as August 5th. Many of the questions that members of the “Court of Public Opinion” are asking includes, “How could he possibly be released? Why isn’t he serving a life sentence? How was he ever initially found not guilty by reason of insanity?”

ANALYSIS

INTRODUCTION


The highest court in the land is currently deciding a case that can have an enormous impact on Driving Under The Influence (DUI) cases in Florida and twelve other states. Each of those thirteen states makes it a misdemeanor criminal offense to refuse to blow into a breath machine while under arrest for DUI. The Court is reviewing whether it is unconstitutional to charge someone with a crime for refusing to blow. In their discussions concerning this case, it appears that the Court is looking at DUI breath cases as a whole and wondering whether police should have to first secure a warrant to begin with before requiring someone to blow into the machine.

ANALYSIS

This isn’t an article about whether the two men featured in the documentary, ‘Making a Murderer’ are guilty or innocent. While I do have strong feelings concerning the handling of the criminal cases of both Steven Avery and his Nephew Brendan Dassey, I would prefer to focus on something different. In this article, I’m choosing to focus on something very positive that came from the documentary.

One thing that the documentary featured was how Steven Avery was convicted of rape, in spite of his innocence. Examples of these miscarriages of justice happen too frequently and often fail to get the media attention that they deserve. How often? Well, in a report just released, a record breaking number of convicted felons were exonerated in 2015. Most were serving significant prison time for crimes that they had nothing to do with.

According to the report, created by the National Registry of Exonerations at the University of Michigan Law School, 149 people were exonerated last year. Each one served an average of 15 years in prison prior to being released. Of the 149 who were falsely accused, 54 were serving time for murders that they didn’t commit. Five of those exonerated were on death row, awaiting their date with the death chamber.

In a ruling handed down yesterday, The Supreme Court provided hope to many prison inmates who were sentenced as teenagers to mandatory life in prison without parole. They will now be given the opportunity to argue why they should be released from incarceration.

The decision, made by the highest court in the land, expanded a 2012 ruling that made it unconstitutional to incarcerate juveniles for life without the possibility of parole. The ruling must now be applied retroactively, providing relief to approximately 1,200 to 1,500 inmates. Justice Kennedy, who wrote the latest opinion, indicated that those inmates should be given the opportunity to argue for parole at their re-sentencing hearings.

The 2012 case was brought by Henry Montgomery, who as a teen was sentenced to life without parole in Louisiana in 1963. He was 17 years old when he shot and killed a law enforcement officer. Now 69, Montgomery believes that he rehabilitated himself in prison and deserves to be considered for parole. The Louisiana Supreme Court ruled against him, however, the Supreme Court ruled in his favor, declaring that the 2012 ruling is retroactive.

In response to the escalating rates of teen suicide, school shootings and cyber-bullying, Wisconsin has passed an ordinance imposing fines on parents of kids who bully. It’s not a criminal charge. Rather, it’s a civil ordinance which permits a fine of $124 against parents whose kids repeat bullying behavior after being warned of their conduct. The Wisconsin police chief said that he’s in favor of the new ordinance because it puts pressure on the parents, the ones whose job it is to raise the kids. He doesn’t believe it’s the teacher’s obligation to prevent kids from bullying. He explains that teachers’ energy should be limited to the challenging task of teaching our kids.

The way that this ordinance will be enforced is as follows. First, police will identify those kids who have engaged in repeated bullying within a 90 day period. The parents will be notified and asked to work with law enforcement to correct the behavior. If the bullying persists, then their parents may be fined.

The analogy made by the police chief is that it’s like if a kid breaks something, their parent would be held responsible for it. He wants to see parents taking responsibility for their kid’s behavior. School principals seem to be embracing the ordinance.

THE FACTS

36-year-old mother Qumotria Kennedy was recently a passenger in a vehicle that was pulled over after the driver allegedly didn’t come to a complete stop at a stop sign. Though Kennedy wasn’t doing anything wrong, police demanded her I.D. and learned that she had a warrant for her arrest out of Biloxi, Mississippi for failing to pay $400 in court fines. The fines were for traffic tickets that she failed to pay in 2013. Back then she told her probation officer that she was too poor to pay the fines and also, didn’t have any way to secure the funds from anyone. Ms. Kennedy worked in downtown Biloxi as a baseball field cleaner. She was earning less than 9 grand annually. For a single person, that is significantly under the poverty level. It’s important to note that Ms. Kennedy supports her two dependent children.

In spite of pleading poverty to her probation officer, Ms. Kennedy was warned that if she didn’t come up with the full amount of all the fines that she owed, in addition to the $40 monthly probation fee, she would be arrested. True to her word, the probation officer sought a warrant to arrest Ms. Kennedy once it was clear that the court fines and fees weren’t being paid.