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…]
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…]
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…]
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…]
Traitor or Patriot?
As any member of organized crime will tell you it is best to, “Keep your enemies close to you.”
Why no one in the Obama Administration has latched on to that concept while contemplating the Edward Snowden NSA scandal is beyond me.
Snowden is, of course, the former National Security Agency computer analyst who fled the country with about 1.7 million classified documents proving that America has been involved in a worldwide and massive telephone and internet surveillance campaign.
Snowden has released some 200,000 documents so far and the world has learned that the U.S routinely scoops up the phone data and internet traffic of countless millions of Americans who are not suspected of any crime. There are separate U.S. spying programs operating abroad with such tremendous reach that they have even targeted the personal cell phones and e-mails of heads of state. Two of the victims, Brazilian President Dilma Roussef and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel have asked the United Nations Human Rights Counsel to investigate America’s actions. [click to continue…]
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…]
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…]
Where Justice Should Prevail
There is something special about a courtroom — sacrosanct, almost.
In the hushed quiet there is the inevitable not-too-comfortable spectator seating that discourages people from becoming too relaxed.
There is the official bar that separates onlookers from the lawyers – a bar which civilians are not allowed to cross.
There are bailiffs to keep the peace. And, of course, there is the elevated bench upon which the honorable judge sits in his or her ceremonial black robes. When it gets down to it, this is their stage, they run the show. Respect for judges is a cornerstone of our judicial system.
But what happens when the judge acts erratically or even criminally? Who judges the judge? [click to continue…]
MSgt Foster on Left, Sgt Ralph Stanton on Right
For this Band of Brothers the Vietnam War never ended. Forty years after the fighting stopped they continue their struggle to be recognized as part of the unenviable group poisoned by the deadly herbicide Agent Orange.
These men who dedicated years to the U.S. military were stationed at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. In the mid-60’s it was an important stop-over on the way to warzones in Southeast Asia. B-52 bombing missions targeting the Viet Cong – with names like Operation Arc Light and Operation Linebacker II — were launched from Andersen. Two years after the conflict the base became a way-stop for more than 100-thousand Vietnamese refugees seeking a new life in America.
Andersen AFB was a well-oiled machine thanks to the dedicated soldiers stationed there. Two of those men – Master Sargent LeRoy Foster and Sargent Ralph Stanton – found each other late in life and began to compare their multitude of similar health problems. [click to continue…]