Courts

Rembrandts of the Courtroom

by Diane Dimond on July 14, 2014

Charles Manson Nearly Caused a Mistrial

Charles Manson Nearly Caused a Mistrial

Okay, show of hands. How many readers have actually sat inside a courtroom and watched a trial? Having been assigned to cover countless high-profile trials over the years I have to admit I relish it.

I love going to courthouses with their stately facades and imposing corridors. And inside it’s like watching a big vat of human soup. We all get stirred up together in a courthouse. The poor, the middle-class, the rich. People seeking justice, people in big trouble with the law, people whose families are falling apart. The process is fascinating to watch.

Inside courtrooms where the most-watched trials take place there is a group of unsung regulars that I have never written about – professional courtroom artists. Whenever I can I try to get a seat next to one of them. Watching them work is a treat. [click to continue…]

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The Migration Mess of Our Own Making

by Diane Dimond on June 30, 2014

U.S. Satellites See What's Happening on Earth

U.S. Satellites See What’s Happening on Earth

Global Positioning Satellite systems can pinpoint our location no matter where we are in the world and precisely tell us where to turn to get to our destination. U.S. satellites monitor just about anything on earth — from the path of a forest fire to the route of a convoy of trucks. We know for a fact that the National Security Agency has had eyes and ears on just about every phone call and e-mail sent or received, worldwide.

So can someone please explain to me how we apparently missed the substantial exodus of migrants from Central America headed for our southern border? By all reports this mass migration — which has now resulted in a major humanitarian crisis – began last October. Yet the public is only just hearing about it now, after it has reached catastrophic proportions. [click to continue…]

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An Intriguing Plan to Create Urban Peace

by Diane Dimond on May 12, 2014

UrbanPeaceArmsGrasp

PACT  - A Commitment to Positive Change

Ten minutes on the phone with David Lockett and you realize this is a man of high integrity, compassion and vision. After a lengthy conversation with him I came away believing if there was ever a man we should follow in the fight against crime it is David Lockett.  

Lockett’s business background is in the trucking industry. He also developed and has run a program for nearly 20 years which embraces society’s toughest, hard-core juvenile criminals and gives them the tools to turn their lives around. It’s called the PACT LifePlan and Coaching Program and its guiding principle is the idea that if we help young people avoid a lifetime of crime everybody wins. Spend a little time giving a kid some skills and a plan for his or her future and the country gets a law-abiding, contributing taxpayer in return.

In the long run, it’s a lot cheaper than paying for their trip (or trips) through the U.S. justice system. [click to continue…]

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Private Investigators as Heroes of Justice

by Diane Dimond on April 21, 2014

Unsung Heroes – Private Investigators

Time for a word about private investigators.

TV dramas of the past left the impression that the primary reason to hire a P.I. was to tail an unfaithful spouse. There was always the obligatory scene in which a semi-shady looking private detective appeared with a stack of 8 x 10’s as proof of infidelity and slithered away with a check from the not-so-shocked husband or wife.

Certainly, that is one of the services a P.I. can provide but today licensed private detectives are much more valuable than just that.

These days, police departments are too busy, underfunded and under-trained to follow up on every complaint. Corporate espionage, computer hacking, identity theft and missing persons reports abound and it is the ranks of private investigators that often come to the rescue. [click to continue…]

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Pets Help Solve Crimes

by Diane Dimond on April 7, 2014

First Animal DNA Lab in the U.S.

As far as crime laboratories go it is not very impressive looking. And it is not very big, with a permanent staff of just three forensic scientists and a few interns. But the work product that comes out of the Veterinarian Forensic Lab at the University of California at Davis is important and it has changed the way crimes are investigated and prosecuted worldwide.

The lab has been called the “CSI of the four legged world” and it is the nation’s first laboratory dedicated to animal DNA profiling.

It’s accredited by the prestigious American Society of Crime Lab Directors because the VFL conducts animal-related forensic tests as rigorously as any lab dealing with human DNA. [click to continue…]

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A Whistleblower’s Worst Nightmare

by Diane Dimond on March 24, 2014

Michael Winston – Still Paying the Price

Justice is supposed to be blind. But what happens when it turns out to be blind, deaf and dumb?

Sadly, there is not enough space here to tell you the entire 7-year saga of whistleblower Michael Winston but the bottom line is this: He got royally screwed by the California judicial system.

Winston, 62, is a mild-mannered Ph D. and a veteran leadership executive who has held top jobs at elite corporations like McDonnell Douglas, Motorola and Merrill Lynch. After taking time off to nurse his ailing parents Winston was recruited by Countrywide Financial to help polish their corporate image. He was quickly promoted – twice – and had a team of 200 employees.

It’s almost unheard of for a top-tier executive turning whistleblower but that’s what Winston became after he [click to continue…]

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Why The Erosion of Public Trust? Here’s Why

by Diane Dimond on January 13, 2014

Why Aren’t Bad Bankers Held Liable Too?

If you robbed a bank and got caught you would go to jail, right?

If you waited in the getaway car while your cohort robbed the bank you would go to jail as an accomplice, right? Of course you would.  That’s what the law mandates. 

So how come, after a bank stands mute as customers are robbed, do they get “deferred prosecution?”

I ask these questions after this week’s decision by the feds to merely fine JPMorgan Chase for failing to report their very real suspicions about mega-fraudster Bernard Madoff. No criminal charges, no one is held responsible and faces jail time – just $2.5 billion in fines and penalties for an organization, that experts say, will likely make as much as $23 billion in profit this year.

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A Crime and Justice Wish List for 2014

by Diane Dimond on December 30, 2013

 

Tops on the List : Tolerance

Tops on my Crime and Justice Wish List this year is the sincere hope that America finds a way to become a better functioning and more tolerant country.

I wish for the lethargy of the electorate and the deterioration of trust and respect – in our government and in each other – to magically evaporate. 

It is a tall order, I know. We live in an ugly era of perpetual backbiting that serves no real purpose but to distract us from finding solutions to very real problems.

Democrats routinely ridicule Republicans and vice versa. Various ethnic groups point to those who are different and declare their problems are the other groups fault; both heterosexuals and homosexuals complain their lifestyle is under attack; the unemployed and under-employed label business people and corporations as greedy devils without acknowledging they are the very entities providing the most jobs. Our children grow up hearing our viciousness toward one another and are likely to continue the corrosive tradition of intolerance.  [click to continue…]

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DNA and Death Row

by Diane Dimond on November 25, 2013

Spending Justice System Money More Wisely

In this time of economic strain anyone who doesn’t look at ways to cut their personal or business budget is just not being responsible. Same goes for the justice system.

For nearly two decades lawyers working with death row inmates have spent countless hours, court time and multiple tens of millions of dollars fighting for access to DNA testing. These attorneys work right up until execution time to win court orders for DNA tests on crime scene evidence or DNA of the condemned prisoner him or herself.

I could never figure out why so much time and money was spent fighting a condemned person’s last chance to establish their innocence. Don’t we want to make sure we’re executing the right person? Now that DNA technology has become so advanced isn’t that one extra step the necessary and honorable thing to do? [click to continue…]

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Jurors Urge Another Look At Their Verdict

by Diane Dimond on November 11, 2013

19 Years in Prison for Stealing a Necklace?

Sometimes the justice system just doesn’t work.

The prosecutor could be more interested in winning than finding the truth. The defense attorney might be inexperienced and botch things. Maybe the judge makes rulings that keep crucial evidence from the jury.

Was the trial of 19-year-old Tyra Patterson of Dayton, Ohio one of those flawed cases?

Six of the jurors who sat in judgment of Tyra now say if they knew back then what they know now they likely would not have found her guilty of aggravated robbery and murder.

But, you decide. [click to continue…]

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