Heroes

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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Learn to Respect Each Other’s Opinions

by Diane Dimond on July 7, 2014

Are We Really an Independent Nation?

Are We Really Independent Thinkers?

Another 4th of July holiday has come and gone and every year I try to think past the BBQ’s and beer and ponder the origin of Independence Day.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

That is, of course, the most famous line from the Declaration of Independence approved by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.

We learned that quote as school kids but these days it seems out of touch with where we are as a nation, doesn’t it? [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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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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The 40th Anniversary of ‘The Year of Fear’

by Diane Dimond on March 31, 2014

They Command Our Fascination

There is no subject that brings in more reader reaction than when I write about serial killers. The answer to why we are so fascinated by these multiple murderers is mercurial depending on who you ask.

Dr. Scott Bonn, a professor of criminology at Drew University says, “Serial Killers seem to be for adults what monster movies are for children. It’s exciting -– it’s arousing,” to learn about their exploits.

Dr. Casey Jordan, a criminologist, behavioral analyst, and attorney in private practice says we are captivated by stories about serial killers because, “We wonder to what extent they are just like us.”

I would take it one step further and say we are riveted to details about serial killers because we wonder if we might ever reach a point where we could do what they do. [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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Remembering The Dick Tracy of Wichita

by Diane Dimond on February 17, 2014

Ken Landwehr circa 1978

This is a story about a cop’s cop. A hometown kid who devoted his life to keeping his community safe, a man who took on the duty no one should have to do – to minister to the murdered and help seek justice for their families.

This column is dedicated to the late Lt. Ken Landwehr, Commander of the homicide unit of the Wichita, Kansas Police Department because he epitomizes the determination, integrity and ingenuity that all great detectives possess. His deeds will live on in the annuals of America’s crime and justice history.

Landwehr was the son of an aircraft worker and a homemaker. He was an Eagle Scout as a boy and devoured books about the investigations of the legendary Sherlock Holmes. He attended Bishop Carroll Catholic High School where he played tricks on the nuns and was no stranger to occasional bouts of brawling and drinking. [click to continue…]

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Kids and Guns and Public Safety

by Diane Dimond on January 27, 2014

In Homes With Guns, Teach Kids Gun Safety!

Uncle Jim used to herd a group of us kids into the car on a sunny Saturday morning and head to an isolated area outside town. His son, little Jim, my two cousins Sandy and Terry and I were full of anticipation.

We were going target shooting – with a real gun – guided every step of the way in gun safety by Uncle Jim. I was about ten or eleven years old, the oldest kid in the group.

“Always keep a gun pointed toward the ground until you are ready to shoot,” Uncle Jim would say as he set up soda cans on a fence post about 20 yards away. “Never, ever point a gun toward another person.”

There on the southwest mesa outside Albuquerque we would wait patiently until it was our turn to handle the pistol. Uncle Jim would stand right behind us and guide the gun into our hands, showing us the proper technique of cradling the hands around the bottom of the gun while placing an index finger on the trigger. Then he’d take a step back as we raised our arms and tell us to shoot when we were ready. [click to continue…]

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Crime and Justice Issues On The Public’s Radar

by Diane Dimond on January 20, 2014

 

Crime Stories on Top of List

Last year’s tally is now in and the news story that garnered the most searches on the internet was … (can I get a drum roll, please?) …. A crime story!

Before I get to the winner, may I just say that life as a crime and justice columnist is sometimes a lonely one. I don’t think there’s another writer in America who – week in and week out – concentrates only on issues surrounding our justice system.

I’m fascinated by the topic but, sometimes, I wonder how many of you readers are. Sure, I get mail from many of you, and I truly appreciate it, but now I have some real statistics to back up the idea that Americans are, indeed, interested in following crime and justice stories. [click to continue…]

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Death On-The-Job Dips For Cops

by Diane Dimond on January 6, 2014

Deputy Wyatt Earp circa mid 1800′s

Not since the days when Wyatt Earp worked the Wild West wearing a badge and a gun has there been such good news for law enforcement.

The number of federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officers in the U.S. who died in the line of duty last year dropped to a total of 111. Think about that. In the whole United States of America we lost only 111 officers during 2013. That’s the lowest number since 1959.

The most encouraging news in the latest report from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) is seen in the death-by-gun category. At a time when there is so much worry about rampant gun deaths only 33 officers, nationwide, lost their lives in the line of duty due to a firearm fatality. The number would have been even lower had it not been for a former Los Angeles cop named Christopher Dorner who went on a shooting spree last February and killed four people, including three L.A. police officers. [click to continue…]

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