marble falls's Journal
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Member since: Thu Feb 23, 2012, 04:49 AM
Number of posts: 10,069
Gender: Do not display
Hometown: marble falls, tx
Member since: Thu Feb 23, 2012, 04:49 AM
Number of posts: 10,069
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How Many Ways Can the City of Ferguson Slap You With Court Fees? We Counted
Ferguson city officials pledge to cut back on revenue-boosting court fees and fines—and there are plenty to choose from.
—By Julia Lurie and Katie Rose Quandt
| Fri Sep. 12, 2014 5:30 AM EDT
Over 100 people showed up on Tuesday night at the first Ferguson City Council meeting since Michael Brown's killing, and unreasonable court fees were a major complaint. Ferguson officials proposed scaling back the myriad ways small-time offenders can end up paying big bucks—or worse. Community activists are optimistic about the proposed changes, but as it turns out, imposing punitive court fines on poor residents is a major source of income for a number of St. Louis County municipalities.
How bad is the current system? Say you're a low-income Ferguson resident who's been hit with a municipal fine for rolling through a stop sign, driving without insurance, or neglecting to subscribe to the city's trash collection service. A look at the municipal codes in Ferguson and nearby towns reveals how these fines and fees can quickly stack up.
To start, you might show up on time for your court date, only to find that your hearing is already over. How is that possible? According to a Ferguson court employee who spoke with St. Louis-based legal aid watchdog ArchCity Defenders, the bench routinely starts hearing cases 30 minutes before the appointed time and even locks the doors as early as five minutes after the official hour, hitting defendants who arrive just slightly late with an additional charge of $120-130.
Or you may arrive to find yourself faced with an impossible choice: Skip your court date or leave your children unattended in the parking lot. Non-defendants, such as children, are permitted by law to accompany defendants in the courtroom, but a survey by the presiding judge of the St. Louis County Circuit Court found that 37 percent of local courts don't allow it.
Coming to court has its own pitfalls, but not the ones many people fear. It's a common misconception among Ferguson residents—especially those without attorneys—that if you show up without money to pay your fine, you'll go to jail. In fact, you can't be put behind bars for inability to pay a fine, but you can be sent to jail for failure to appear in court (and accrue a $125 fee). If you miss your court date, the court will likely issue a warrant for your arrest, which comes with a fee of its own:
At this point, you owe your initial fine, plus fines for failure to appear in court and the arrest warrant. Thomas Harvey, executive director of ArchCity Defenders, explains that if you're arrested, your bail will likely equal the sum of these fines. Ferguson Municipal Court is only in session three days a month, so if you can't meet bail, you might sit in jail for days until the next court session—which, you guessed it, will cost you.
Once you finally appear in court and receive your verdict, your IOU is likely to go up again.
Can't pay all at once? No problem! Opt for a payment plan, and come to court once a month with an installment. But if you miss a date, expect another $125 "failure to appear" fine, plus another warrant for your arrest.
Court fines for minor infractions tend to snowball. For example, drivers accumulate points for speeding, rolling through stop signs, or driving without insurance. You can pay to wipe your record, which is pricey. If you can't afford to, and rack up enough points, your license will be suspended and your insurance costs will probably jump. Need to get to work? If you're caught driving with a suspended license, your court fines increase, you gain more points, and your suspension is lengthened. That's how rolling through a stop sign could end up costing you your job, messing up your degree plans, and more.
In a county like St. Louis, which consists of 81 different municipal court systems, it's easy to end up with fines and outstanding warrants in multiple towns. Harvey has seen his clients bounce from jail to jail, and says there's even a local name for this: the "muni-shuffle."
"Every handful of months, there’s some awful thing that happens as a result of someone being arrested on multiple warrants," says Harvey. Last year, a 24-year-old man in Jennings, another city in St. Louis County, hung himself after he couldn't get out of jail for outstanding traffic warrants. "They can't get out, and they know they’re not going to get out," says Harvey. In Ferguson, he explains, residents are caught in cycles of debt that stem from three main infractions: driving without insurance, driving with a suspended license, and driving without registration.
So what happens to all that cash? In Ferguson, as in thousands of municipalities across the country, it goes toward paying city officials, funding city services, and otherwise keeping the wheels of local government turning. In fact, fines and court fees are the city's second-largest revenue source. Last year, Ferguson issued 3 warrants for every household—25,000 warrants in a city of 21,000 people.
"Ferguson isn't an outlier," says Alexes Harris, sociology professor at University of Washington and author of the upcoming book Pound of Flesh: Monetary Sanctions as Permanent Punishment for Poor People. Similar measures play out in jurisdictions across the country. "All you have to do is show up in court and watch what happens."
The good news is that this week, under pressure from local activists, the Ferguson City Council announced plans to eliminate some of the most punitive fees, including the $125 failure to appear fee and the $50 fee to cancel a warrant. Of course, nothing is set to change elsewhere in St. Louis County. But eliminating some of the most egregious fees in one town, says Harvey, is "huge progress."
Front page image: Jeff Roberson/AP
Posted by marble falls | Wed Dec 10, 2014, 09:50 AM (0 replies)
A Northern California P.E. teacher is charged with abusing a child after trying to force her into a swimming pool during class. The struggle was captured on camera by another student. The incident happened at Edison High in Stockton during P.E. class at the schools pool.
The video shows the teacher, Denny Peterson, trying to drag a 14-year-old girl into the pool back in August.
The teen reportedly did not want to participate get in the pool because she just had her hair done that morning for an evening event.
Peterson was put on paid leave for a month, but then assigned to another Stockton school. He was charged with misdemeanor corporal injury to a child.
The family says they plan to file a lawsuit.
Map My News
Posted by marble falls | Sun Nov 23, 2014, 11:23 AM (9 replies)
Posted by marble falls | Wed Nov 19, 2014, 04:10 PM (6 replies)
‘You’re the type of girl that can get me in trouble’
17 Nov 2014 at 17:35 ET
The federal lawsuit against Jaris Hayden accuses him of ordering the woman into the boiler room of the city jail in October 2013 and ordering her to provide oral sex before forcing himself upon her. Hayden allegedly assaulted the woman even though her boyfriend had posted her bond, telling her, “You’re the type of girl that can get me in trouble” as he released her from her cell. According to the lawsuit, DNA analysis confirmed that pubic hair the woman obtained during the attack belonged to Hayden.
“Law enforcement Officers of the City of Ferguson have been involved in many other acts of violence including the shooting of Michael Brown on Aug. 9, 2014,” the suit states. “On information and belief discovery will produce other acts of violence, all contributing to a pattern and practice of allowing violence and sexual assault on members of the public. The numerous acts of violence against the citizenry by law enforcement of the City of Ferguson constitute a pattern.”
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Hayden was charged on Nov. 5 with two counts of having sexual contact with a prisoner, one count of permitting escape and one count of acceding to corruption by a public servant.
The attack allegedly took place after the woman, identified in the suit as “J.W.,” was arrested by another officer for having an expired license plate and accused of providing a fake name. The lawsuit states that the woman was wearing nursing smocks from her job when Hayden told her, “You smell good” and, “This will teach you a lesson” while booking her into jail.
At one point during her incarceration, J.W. reportedly suffered pain and “discharges.” Hayden contacted EMTs, who left it up to him whether to release her to them for medical care.
“Hayden did not indicate a decision in J.W.’s presence,” the suit states. “Hayden and the EMT’s left the room. J.W. never saw the EMT’s again.”
The lawsuit, as posted online by the Post, can be read at link:
Posted by marble falls | Mon Nov 17, 2014, 11:11 PM (1 replies)
‘He’s blind, dumb*ss’: Cops ditch disabled man in vacant lot to protest videotaping of pot bust Trav
‘He’s blind, dumb*ss’: Cops ditch disabled man in vacant lot to protest videotaping of pot bust
14 Nov 2014 at 07:20 ET
A visually impaired Florida man said police took him to an unfamiliar area and left him there in retaliation after his stepfather recorded cell phone video of a pot bust.
Four plainclothes officers from the Miami-Dade Police department pulled into a dead end street the evening of Aug. 27 and arrested three men they believed had been smoking marijuana, reported WFOR-TV.
The arrest report shows officers found a marijuana cigarette on the ground they approached the men.
Officers arrested all three of them as a fourth man recorded the incident on his cell phone.
They released two of the men after they signed tickets promising to appear in court, but the third man – Tannie “T-Man” Burke – was handcuffed and led to the back of an unmarked car, where he had trouble finding the door.
“He’s blind, dumb*ass,” says the man videotaping the arrest. “If you don’t tell him he’s walking to the car, how the hell is he going to know?”
The 21-year-old Burke has been legally blind since birth, the station reported, with no vision at all in his right eye and just a general sense of shapes and lights in his left eye.
He said he’s comfortable getting around his block in the daytime but does not venture far at night.
Burke said officers drove him around the neighborhood for about 20 minutes before dropping him off after dark in a vacant lot in South Dade – about a mile from his home.
Burke told the station that police complained throughout the drive about his stepfather.
“They said, ‘Your stepfather got a lot of mouth — you know we don’t like that,’” he said.
He said he told officers he was blind, but they didn’t seem to care and dropped him off in an area without streetlights or houses after making him sign an arrest form he couldn’t read.
Police had taken his cell phone, so Burke said he started walking home with one foot in the road and the other on the weed-choked curb strip to keep him from straying into traffic.
Eventually, he found a street that was lit and a stranger agreed to help him get home.
“Forty-five minutes to an hour later he comes walking through the door all sweaty up,” said his stepfather, Marvin Armstrong. “I was like, ‘How’d you get out?’”
Burke and his family filed a complaint with the police department, which handed the case over to its internal affairs unit.
Burke told the station he’s never been convicted of a crime, but he has been arrested twice and detained at least a dozen other times.
“I feel they stop me because they see a black man walking down the street,” he said. “I don’t know what to say about it. I just feel bad about it, that’s it.”
Posted by marble falls | Fri Nov 14, 2014, 10:38 AM (38 replies)
For various reasons I've been exposed to a lot of misogyny on DU the last couple of days. What I thought was over reaction by feminists on this site was well founded and if anything under reacted to. I am ashamed of a lot of men who post here. I am sickened by their "humor" over rape particularly. I do know this: if I come across it (and I will because I am looking out for it now) I will fight it and report it and vote to hide if I get called for any jury about it. I have had zero tolerance for racism and now it is zero tolerance for any sort of sexism. No more rolling my eyes, I am fighting against it.
Posted by marble falls | Thu Oct 30, 2014, 11:53 PM (8 replies)
Murder trial for ex-Phoenix officer begins
By JACQUES BILLEAUD
Aug. 5, 2013 3:11 PM EDT
An undated Phoenix Police Dept. booking mug shot shows former Phoenix Police Officer Richard Chrisman
PHOENIX (AP) — Jury selection began Monday for a former Phoenix police officer charged with murder and animal cruelty in the fatal shootings of an unarmed man and his dog during a domestic dispute call.
Authorities say then-Officer Richard Chrisman broke the law in his response to the 2010 call that ended with the death of 29-year-old Daniel Rodriguez at the south Phoenix trailer that Rodriguez shared with his mother. Chrisman disputes that he acted improperly, saying the shooting was justified because Rodriguez had reached for the officer's gun during a tussle that preceded the shooting.
Attorneys are expected to make opening arguments Wednesday.
Rodriguez's mother had called police from a neighbor's trailer because she said her son had damaged property inside their trailer after the two had gotten into an argument on Oct. 5, 2010.
Investigators say that when Rodriguez questioned the officers' right to be inside the trailer, Chrisman drew his pistol, put its muzzle on Rodriguez's temple and said he didn't need a warrant to be there. Chrisman's partner told investigators that there was no threat being made against either officer. Chrisman denies that he put his gun to Rodriguez's temple.
Authorities say Chrisman put his gun back in its holster and tried to grab Rodriguez, leading to a struggle in which both officers tried unsuccessfully to restrain Rodriguez and used their stun guns on Rodriguez, who at one point removed the Taser probes that were on his chest.
Investigators also say Chrisman shot pepper spray into Rodriguez's eyes and drew his pistol a second time and shot Rodriguez's barking dog. Chrisman's partner told investigators that the dog wasn't attacking either officer.
Another scuffle between Chrisman and Rodriguez began when Rodriguez said he wanted to leave on his bicycle. At some point, Chrisman drew his pistol again and shot Rodriguez in the chest from about two to three feet away. Rodriguez fell to the ground and was later pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.
The case, to a large degree, boils down to conflicting accounts from Chrisman and his partner, Officer Sergio Virgillo — the only two people, besides Rodriguez, inside the trailer to witness the escalating confrontation.
Virgillo told investigators that he never saw a weapon in Rodriguez's hands and that there was no threat that required deadly force. Chrisman's attorney has said Virgillo had exhausted all options for controlling Rodriguez before he fired the shots and that Virgillo abandoned Chrisman and walked out of the trailer.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, whose office is prosecuting the case, declined to say whether there was other evidence beyond the two officers' accounts to back up their contention that Chrisman committed a crime.
Chrisman had pleaded not guilty to second degree murder, aggravated assault and animal cruelty charges. The nine-year veteran of the Phoenix Police Department was fired about five months after Rodriguez's death.
Defense attorneys had complained earlier in the case that an account of the shooting that was filed into court records didn't contain any information to their client.
"We look forward to having the trial start and having a chance to tell our side of the story," said Chrisman's attorney, Craig Mehrens.
Associated Press writer Brian Skoloff contributed to this report.
Posted by marble falls | Tue Oct 28, 2014, 10:16 AM (0 replies)
‘Do You Know Who the F*ck I Am?’ FL Cop Pulls over the Wrong Guy…
by Josh Feldman | 7:38 pm, July 15th, 2014 video
A Miami cop pulled someone over last month on a routine traffic stop, but the ensuing mess resulted in an internal investigation because it turns out the man this police officer pulled over was actually a higher-ranking officer in the same police department. Officer Marcel Jackson pulled over Lieutenant David Ramras and things got intense really quickly.
In a video captured on Jackson’s GoPro camera, you can see them fighting and Jackson forcing Ramras to the ground. Other officers nearby run up to break the two of them up. Ramras angrily shouts, “Do you know who the fuck I am?” He then tells Jackson who he is.
Needless to say, things haven’t turned out well for either of them. Jackson was relieved with pay, and Ramras has been reassigned. There is currently an investigation underway into the matter.
Watch the video of the incident here:
Posted by marble falls | Fri Oct 17, 2014, 10:48 AM (10 replies)
More Americans Killed By Police Than By Terrorists: With Crime Down, Why Is Police Aggression Up?
We're safer than ever. So why are we seeing an ever increasing militarization of policing?
March 20, 2014 |
This article first appeared at WhoWhatWhy.
You might not know it from watching TV news, but FBI statistics show that crime in the U.S.—including violent crime—has been trending steadily downward for years, falling 19% between 1987 and 2011. The job of being a police officer has become safer too, as the number of police killed by gunfire plunged to 33 last year, down 50% from 2012, to its lowest level since, wait for it, 1887, a time when the population was 75% lower than it is today.
Given the good news on crime, what are we to make of a report by the Justice Policy Institute, a not-for-profit justice reform group, showing that state and local spending on police has soared from $40 billion in 1982 to more than $100 billion in 2012. Adding in federal spending on law enforcement, including the FBI, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Drug Enforcement Agency and much of the Homeland Security Department budget, as well as federal grants to state and local law enforcement more than doubles that total. A lot of that money is simply pay and benefits. The federal Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that the ranks of state and local law enforcement personnel alone swelled from 603,000 to 794,000 between 1992 and 2010. That’s about two-thirds as many men and women as the entire active-duty US military.
What these statistics make clear is that policing in America is ramping up even as the crime rate is falling.
To the advocates of militarized policing, this just proves that more and better-armed cops are the answer to keeping the peace. But former corrections officer Ted Kirkpatrick, like many experts in the field, warns against jumping to this conclusion: “Police will of course say crime is down because of them,” he tells WhoWhatWhy, “but they have a vested interest in saying that.”
Kirkpatrick has the credentials and training to look beyond statistics and simplistic answers to the underlying social forces at work here. In addition to his years of law enforcement experience, he is a homicide expert in the Department of Clinical Sociology at the University of New Hampshire, and Co-Director of the university’s Justiceworks program, a think-tank specializing in law enforcement and justice issues.
“When something goes sour, like an increase in crime,” Kirkpatrick says, “everyone looks for a way to explain why. Yet when things go well, like this long-term fall in the crime rate, nobody bothers to look at why.”
Surprising Reasons for Drop in Crime Rate
Militarized “pro-active” policing may have had some effect on the drop in crimes in the US. But Kirkpatrick says, “I don’t think it’s the big thing.” Crime is down even in many cities where police forces have been cut for budget reasons, and experts agree that the decline in crime began before the militarization of policing really started to take off.
Other factors likely play a bigger role. One is increased immigration since, contrary to common belief, communities with greater numbers of immigrant families show the biggest drops in crime thanks to those families’ “stronger social fabric.” Another factor is an aging population—older people commit fewer violent crimes.
One might assume that the militarization of American law enforcement began after the national trauma of 9/11. But, in fact, its roots go back decades earlier, when media stories in the 1970s created the impression that the nation was awash in illegal drugs.
A big part of the problem, she says, is that these days “officer safety” is given primacy over “protect and serve.” A case in point: a South Carolina sheriff’s deputy in February shot and seriously injured a 70-year-old man at a traffic stop when the man tried to retrieve his cane from the back of his pick-up truck. The Sheriff’s Department said the deputy acted “appropriately,” as he had “a legitimate fear” that the cane might have been a long rifle.
In another recent example, New York City police shot and injured an unarmed man who was acting “erratically” in Times Square. The officers were exonerated, while the man they shot was charged with causing injury to several bystanders—who were hit by the police officers’ stray bullets.
In fact, while being a police officer has been getting less dangerous, killings committed by police have been rising despite the drop in police who are killed.
The numbers are eye opening. The Justice Department, which keeps all kinds of statistics on violent crime, does not tally up individuals killed annually by police. But by combing public news reports and other sources, the Justice Policy Institute has estimated that police officers in the U.S. killed 587 people in 2012 alone. Over the course of a decade, they’ve tallied more than 5,000 people in the U.S. during that period—far more than the number of people who lost their lives in acts officially classified as terrorism in roughly the same span.
The many instances of deadly police violence captured on video give a visceral reality to these statistics. They show police beating and sometimes needlessly shooting citizens—even those with their hands up or armed only with a knife or stick while standing too far from responding officers to pose a threat.
In some jurisdictions, police have responded to these damaging videos by routinely confiscating bystanders’ cell phones and threatening witnesses with arrest, even though federal courts have consistently held that citizens have a right to photograph and videotape officers engaged in police actions.
“I’m not sure that spending money on more police, on Kevlar suits and on things like armored vehicles is the most efficient thing to do,” says UNH’s Kirkpatrick. “It might be better to spend it on Big Brother/Big Sister-type programs and other kinds of services for kids. The trouble is, we generally implement public policy based on sentiment, not logic or statistics, and thanks to the 24-hour news cycle and its really quite dramatic reports on crimes, the average Joe or Jane thinks that things have gone nuts.”
Dave Lindorff is an award-winning investigative reporter and author of the blog, This Can't Be Happening. A regular columnist for CounterPunch, he also writes frequently for Extra! and Salon, as well as for Businessweek, The Nation and Treasury & Risk Magazine.
Posted by marble falls | Sat Oct 4, 2014, 09:03 AM (18 replies)
It starts at 2:15
Florida police officer has place been on paid administrative leave after cell phone video showed him using a Taser to stun a 62-year-old African-American woman in the back as she was walking away.
Viola Young, 62, approaches Officer Mahan to ask about one of the men who was being detained. Mahan advises her to stay back, and tries to grab her arm. After she turns and walks away, the officer pulls out his Taser and fires it into her back.
Young falls face down onto the pavement.
She was taken into custody on charges of resisting an officer without violence. Young was released on Wednesday.
Posted by marble falls | Wed Oct 1, 2014, 02:05 PM (14 replies)