Palo Alto School District Objects to Federal Interrogation of Children

kid-questioned-by-police2Palo Alto students are being pulled out of class to be questioned by federal investigators without parental consent, and one school board member said she doesn’t like it.

According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights manual, minors can be interviewed by ORC investigators without parental or guardian consent when the questions are asked of a “general nature” not related to a specific case in which the minor is involved, and there are no records kept on the students identity.

Palo Alto school board Vice President Barb Mitchell told the Post on Sunday that she had an issue with the way the OCR conducted its investigations such as pulling middle school students out of class and interviewing them without notifying the parent.

The district has been the target of several investigations this year, including one involving a Duvenneck Elementary School student that was allegedly bullied by other students because of his disability.

Liat Branoff, assistant to Superintendent Kevin Skelly, said yesterday that the district made requests to have adults or attorneys presence during OCR interviews of students. She said it is typical school district policy to notify parents of such interviews.

Jim Bradshaw, and OCR representative, would not comment on the specific procedure that takes place during a student interview. But he said the OCR first comes to the district office with requests to set up interviews at specific schools, which are handled through Skelly.

According to the ORC, written parental consent is required prior to interviewing a student under 18, except in the case of a “general nature” questions. If a “recipient,” in this case the superintendent, refuses to allow students to be interviewed without parental consent, written consent from the parent is required.

Bringing in the parents

If the OCR feels that the child’s information is critical to the investigation, investigators may invite the parents to attend the interview as observers in an attempt to secure consent. If consent is denied, however, the ORC will not interview the child.

What are the rules if the police want to talk to a student?

According to the school district policy, law enforcement may interview children at school and remove them from class “when appropriate.”

The policy states that Skelly will work with law enforcement agencies in such situations. The principle of the school will request the officer’s identity and legal authority under which the interview is being conducted.

The principal will be present during the interview as an observer, unless the student or police officer objects, according to the policy.

The OCR has three pending open investigations with the Palo Alto school district including the Duvanneck Elementary school probe, another case in which the district allegedly failed to provide an individualized educational program for a disabled student, and a sexual harassment issue at Palo Alto High School.

A previous case involving a Jordan Middle School Student who was said to be discriminated against by a substitute teacher based on racial bias was found to be of no merit by the OCR.

Link by: Palo Alto Free Press; High Court: Age Must Be Considered In Interrogation.

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Outrageous verdict in the Zimmerman case

Trayvon Martin bildeIn light of the outrageous verdict in the Zimmerman case this evening, I have drafted a post script to my original article titled: Open letter to the family of Trayvon Martin and prosecutor Angela Cory.

Over the last several weeks I have had a chance to see many hours of this trial on television and have paid close attention to many of the instant, self-described, legal scholars/commentators on both sides of the issues raised by this trial.

Spoken and unspoken throughout the trial, and the proceedings leading up to the trial, including the media coverage was a palpable racial tension from the start, going back to 2012 when the Sanford Florida police refused to arrest George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin. And then we found, once the long delayed trial began-that the jury that was selected was made up all most exclusively of white folks.

One thing that hit me viscerally as the disbelief of the verdict set in was my commitment to re double my efforts to promote racial justice in a broken criminal injustice system, my long held personal opinion, only magnified 100 fold, as a result of tonight’s verdict and the racially tinged atmosphere that pervaded the criminal proceedings through-out.

Another thought that comes to mind is: How is it that in 2013,in a country that claims to be post racial, (a simplistic notion that I have never given credence to, rejected from the first time I heard the concept, marketed by the media during the post-election celebration, after Obama’s 1st election for president)–that our criminal justice system can still allow for an all-white (maybe one non-white juror)jury…in a case as racially charged from the start, as the one involving Trayvon Martin’s cold blooded murder.

What happened to the requirement that juries represent a cross section of the community, particularly in a case dripping with racial division, controversy and animus.

How is that we let things in our criminal injustice system get so far afield, that Florida allows criminal cases to be tried in front of a jury of 6 not 12

People? In  essence, cutting the guts out of the concept of obtaining a truly diverse cross-section of the community on our juries.

Trayvon Martin’s case is just the latest example of thousands of  criminal cases, that are tried in this country every year–that involve black defendants and black victims of crime, where black jurors are still routinely shut out of the process if not entirely, almost so.

It is the time to insist that juries in this country, that are judging black defendants or black victims of violence (like Trayvon Martin)be judged by at least some if not a majority of black jurors.

This is an idea triggered by a provocative proposal written by Law professor and regular legal commentator, Paul Butler in a law journal article: Racially Based Jury Nullification: Black Power in the Criminal Justice System, published in the Yale Law Journal in 1995.

In Paul Butler’s piece on race based jury nullification, he quotes Malcolm X in words that seem most appropriate on this night when, yet again—justice has been denied, denied, yet again, along racial lines.

A night when George Zimmerman was acquitted for the execution of 17 year-old African-American Trayvon Martin, a young man whose crime was going to a 7-11 store to purchase candy/skittles for his younger brother, while walking in the rain wearing his hoodie.

“[T}he time that we’re living in now…is not an era where one who is oppressed is looking toward the oppressor to given him some system or form of logic or reason. What is logic to the oppressor isn’t reason to the oppressed. And what is reason to the oppressor isn’t reason to the oppressed. The black people in this country are beginning to realize that what sounds reasonable to those who exploit us doesn’t sound reasonable to us.

There just has to be a new system of reason and logic devised by us who are at the bottom, if we want to get some results in this struggle that is called: “the Negro revolution.” 

** (Malcolm X, Speech at the Leveret House Forum of March 18, 1964, in The speeches of Malcolm X at Harvard. 131, 133, (Archie Epps ed., 1968)

Now is the time to open up a non-stop dialogue on race and our criminal justice system, as the life and integrity of our country now depends on it.

Each of us is now responsible to make certain that no more Trayvon Martin’s are allowed to be demonized and murdered, without a remedy, by a white supremacist criminal justice system.

Making Mountains Out Of Mole Hills

When it comes to vehicle dwellers, the City of Palo Alto appears to be making mountains out of mole hills.mole hill

At the May 14, 2013 and June 25, 2013 Policy and Services Committee Meetings Police Chief Dennis Burns and Assistant Police Chief Bob Beacom presented statistics on calls for service related to vehicle dwellers to the Committee as justification for a Vehicle Habitation Ordinance.

City staff and the police department appeared to be claiming the number of incidents related to vehicle dwellers were significant and therefore require a Vehicle Habitation Ordinance to resolve those problems.  These numbers have been widely disseminated to the community in an effort to generate support of an ordinance.

However, what has been brought to light or discovered through a California Public Records Request is that on average, over the last three and half years calls related to vehicle dwellers was only 0.000667% of all calls for service.  Based upon these facts, the calls and problems caused by vehicle dwellers when compared to the total number of calls for service and problems caused by all other residents are inconsequential.

Calls for Service City of Palo Alto

 

These statistics prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Vehicle Habitation is not a problem and that an ordinance is not necessary.

We don’t even know if the calls were legitimate or what the final outcome produced.

The City of Palo Alto and the Police Department has refused to provide the details of the 159 calls for service related to vehicle dwellers even though the city has the information available and provides similar information to the media and public on a regular basis.

A second request has been submitted to the city for the details of the 159 calls for service related to vehicle dwellers.  It remains to be seen if the City will comply with the request or perpetuate its secrecy.

Public Records Request and City Stats:

Service Call Data

Offensive news racks vs Keen Footware bike racks which is more eco-friendly?

Palo Alto rarely has qualms about eco-friendly design features, but city officials have told a new downtown store to remove part of a bike rack that bears the name store’s name because it violates a city law against advertising on a public sidewalk.

News racks obstructing sidewalk. Should there be a city ordinance?
News racks obstructing sidewalk. Should there be a city ordinance?

After it opened its store on 278 University Ave., Keen Footware added three bike shaped racks on the sidewalk along Bryant Street.

Thomas Fehrenbach, the city’s Economic Development Manager said that even though the developer paid to provide racks for the public, the city won’t let them remain as they are because the word “Keen” is prominently displayed on the center of the racks.

“We’ve been working with the owner to try to bring the bike racks into compliance with city laws…To either permanently cover the advertising or remove it, “Fenrenbach said.

Attempts to reach the building’s owner Roxy Rapp, was unsuccessful. Fehrenbach said he got wind of the bike rack violation about a week ago when the racks were installed.

Fehrenbach said that “movable “advertisements, like the folding signs some business put on the sidewalk are allowed with a permit, but fixed advertisements, such as those on the bike racks, aren’t allowed at all under city law.

Typically, Fehrenbach said, businesses that put out a sign without a permit are only reprimanded by the city if someone complains about it. So far, he said, he hadn’t heard anyone complaining about the bike racks.

Missing Keen Footware Advertizing
Missing Keen Footware Advertizing

Fehrenbach said that he had not asked store owners to cover the bike racks with cardboard cutouts to cover the offending advertisement.

“I think it’s a great place for a public amenity like a bike rack,”Fehrenbach said, but if the business doesn’t remove them, the city might be forced to.

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Gas price’s criminally low in Palo Alto

ValeroGas prices were criminally low for some thieves who rigged a gas pump at Valero station so that it would fill up cars for free, police said yesterday.

It happened on July 1 and July 3 in the evening after an attendant has gone home. The last employee leaves at 9 p.m., but the pumps remain on overnight.

Casey Hornback, who works at the gas station at 3972 El Camino Real, said he was told by a witness that on July 1, the thieves stuck a screw driver or knife into the pump in order to get the gas flowing without activating pump’s computer.

Hornbeck said he checked video surveillance footage and saw a similar robbery on July 3. The camera couldn’t pick up the cars’ license plate.

In the July 1 episode, a neighbor at the adjacent Buena Vista Mobile home Park saw a white Chevrolet Tahoe, a purple Dodge Challenger, a white Ford Escape and a silver Buick line up at one of the pumps. Unleaded Plus gas worth a total of $281.81 was stolen.

The witnesses describe two suspects — black men between the ages of 23 and 27. One was 5-feet 6, 150 pounds, wearing blue jeans and a gray T-shirt. The other was 6 feet, 220 pounds wearing dark-colored pants and a white T-shirt.

In the July 3 heist, a dark Chevrolet Malibu, Black Lexus RX 300 and a black Chevrolet Tahoe pulled up to a different pump than the one in the first theft and took mid-grade gas worth a total of $234.08, according to the police.

In that incident, surveillance camera filmed two men. Both of the men were identified as black men about five feet nine inches tall.

One of the men weighted about 170 pounds and was wearing dark pants and a red shirt, the other weighed about 140 pounds and was wearing a white shirt and dark pants, police said.

Hornback said that cameras have now been installed to view all the pumps.

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Menlo Park Police Threaten to Shoot Citizen for Calling Lawyer

The evidence speaks for itself.  Watch Video:

On July 8, 2013 Tony Ciampi was lawfully sitting at Peet’s coffee located next to Safeway in Menlo Park when he witnessed a Menlo Park Police Officer  (Stephen (1)) Neumann make contact with a person sitting in a car approximately 150ft. away.

Mr. Ciampi watched Ofc. Neumann dialoge with the unknown vehicle dweller.

Upon completing his interrogation of the vehicle dweller Officer Neumann made a “bee line” to Mr. Ciampi’s location at  Peet’s coffee.

Ofc. Nuemann then accosted Mr. Ciampi with his “high beam lights” for no apparent reason other than to retaliate against Mr. Ciampi for watching him interrogate a vehicle dweller.

Mr. Ciampi reached for his cell phone to call attorney to which Ofc. Neumann began to unholster his hand-gun.  Mr. Ciampi felt threatened and in fear of his life due to Ofc. Neumann’s actions.

Based upon the actions taken by Ofc. Neumann, Ofc. Neumann would have been justified in shooting Mr. Ciampi for attempting to call an attorney to help end Ofc. Neumann’s harassing behavior.

It should be noted that had the Palo Alto Police not edited and falsified the audio/video recordings in the March 15, 2008 incident it would have been much more similar to the above incident, (police officers lying about non-existent ordinance).

Notice how Ofc. Neumann attempted to justify a detainment by falsely accusing Mr. Ciampi of being under the influence of drugs.  Ofc. Neumann initiates contact by blinding Mr. Ciampi with his lights and then refuses to stop when requested to do so by Mr. Ciampi and Ofc. Neumann is wondering why Mr. Ciampi would be agitated.  Throw in there the threat of unholstering his fire-arm and most law abiding citizens would become agitated at such disrespectful and violent behavior.

(1)  Unsure about first name but goes with publicized last name.

July 13th Palo Alto Forum on Homeless Bill of Rights and Vehicle Dwelling

Homeless Bill of RightsWestern Regional Advocacy Project

Mission

WRAP was created to expose and eliminate the root causes of civil and human rights abuses of people experiencing poverty and homelessness in our communities.

Goals

  • Unite local social justice organizations into a movement that is inclusive and shares power with all members of the community.
  • Hold the federal government responsible for restoring affordable housing funding and protecting poor and homeless people’s rights.
  • Develop effective and socially just solutions to all barriers that prevent the ending of homelessness.
  • Ensure the policies and priorities of local, state and federal governments are grounded in the common truths of poor and homeless people.

Community Discussion hosted by:  Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (Peninsula branch), Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto Action Council & The Peninsula Peace and Justice Center.

  • Update on Local Homeless Issues
  • STRATEGY SESSION:  How Can We STOP a Ban on Vehicle Dwelling in Palo Alto

Paul Boden of the Western Regional Advocacy Project will talk with us about their; Without Housing Report and update us on the Homeless Bill of Rights pending in the California Assembly.

  • Update on Local Homeless Issues
  • STRATEGY SESSION:  How Can We STOP a Ban on Vehicle Dwelling in Palo Alto Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto Saturday July 13th, 2pm 505 East Charleston Road,  Palo Alto  CA For more info contact: Lois Salo……… Lsa1o@aol.com

Cubberley Shelter, Editorial by Dave Price

Jay Thorwaldson “It’s long past time to ban ‘vehicle dwelling’”

For some it’s no longer a walk in the park anymore

We have been disturbed by recent reports of homeless individuals being accosted from park benches and while lying or sleeping on the grass being asked to produce identification by officers of the Palo Alto Police department at Elinor Cogswell Plaza.

In fact, the actions of the PAPD appear to be captured by community journalist Tony Ciampi.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IHtZpCEe_8

The homeless emerge to be the only ones affected or selected group targeted by the PAPD. Of course, we believe all city parks are for the enjoyment of everyone and to here of such reports are indeed alarming.

Only the homeless questioned

As of recent, the city of Palo Alto is moving forward with a citywide ban on the homeless preventing them from sleeping in their vehicles on city streets.  Were wondering if the PAPD is gearing up or engaging in training exercises as a prelude of what’s to come.

Consensual contact with the police is one thing but to be detained, questioned and then asked to produce your identification for no apparent reason may come close to violating ones constitutional rights under the 4th Amendment.

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Whether or not these officers have or had probable cause to accost and demand identification during questioning remains to be seen.

No longer a walk in the park anymore

We can’t imagine anyone enjoying Palo Alto city parks having to be disturbed while on break or with their families or the homeless enjoying a game of chess or otherwise being faced with unnecessary infringement to peace and liberty.

We have sent an email to Lieutenant Zach Perron Manager, Investigative Services Division seeking his comment. Lieutenant Zack Perron is also department head of social media and chief Public Information Officer.

Freedom Is An Illusion

Would you be celebrating freedom, would you feel that America stands for freedom if you were sitting in prison for a crime you did not commit knowing that prosecutors used falsified evidence to put you there and that the Attorney General knew what the prosecutors have done but refused to reveal the truth, refused to allow you to be judged by the truth and refused to hold the prosecutor accountable for using falsified evidence?

Today we celebrate our Freedom.  Freedom from who; freedom from what; freedom from an oppressive, unjust and dictatorial founding fathers government.  We could enumerate dozens of despotic and persecutory acts committed by the British upon the American Colonists which would validate the Colonists creation of a new government accountable to the people justified.

To help ensure that this new government could no longer commit acts against the well being of its citizens, our Founding Fathers had the foresight to establish the 1st Amendment guaranteeing Freedom of Speech, the right of any person to openly and publicly criticize the actions of the government without fear being persecuted for doing so.

It goes without saying that should our government repeal this right through the enactment of new Constitutional Amendments and new laws we would agree that we would have no reason to celebrate our freedom today.

Suppose under the prescriptions of these new laws violators would be subjected to imprisonment for making statements critical of the government proved beyond a reasonable doubt.  Under these new laws a citizen is found guilty of violating these new laws even violating these very laws during his trial in protest of the very laws of which he is being tried for and subsequently convicted of.

Now suppose a citizen is convicted and imprisoned for a crime he did not commit despite the fact that the prosecutors, the accusers, know or should have known that the person is innocent.

The former conviction was obtained through the proper administration of justice which revealed the truth during the trial and the latter conviction was obtained fraudulently, that is by the prosecution presenting false and erroneous evidence to secure a conviction.

Logic would dictate that the latter is a more egregious loss of freedom than the former, yet are national response to the two indicates the opposite.

Despite the former person being convicted by the truth and the proper administration of justice, if a person were tried and convicted for simply speaking his mind regarding the actions of the government there would be a national protest against such acts led by thousands of journalists that no government could withstand.  If we would demonstrate such contempt for a lack of one freedom, how come we don’t show the same fervor and zeal for the lack of freedom of the other?

As we enjoy the fireworks, hot dogs and ice-cream while celebrating Mandelaour own freedom today, there are many who are languishing in prison convicted of a crime they did not commit, who are not free and that we could just as easily be in a cell with them proving that we are not as free as we would like to believe.  (1)

If you were a prosecutor, entrusted with the power of the government to send people to prison based upon the information you present to a judge and jury, so long as no witnesses provided false testimony, could you ever convict an innocent person of a crime if you did not want to?

If it’s impossible for you to convict innocent people of crimes it stands to reason that your integrity should apply to all current prosecutors, for prosecutors are just like you, human beings, U.S. citizens whose job happens to be to enforce the laws fairly and equally upon all of us .

What is impossible for you should also be impossible for prosecutors, yet every year thousands of citizens are convicted of crimes they have not committed, thus prosecutors must not be like you in not wanting to convict innocent citizens crimes.

It is not a matter of ability; it is a matter of want to.  If prosecutors do not want to convict innocent people then they wouldn’t.

There is not enough space in this article to elaborate about the various psychologies that represent the plethora of personalitiesscales cheated regarding wrongful convictions, however there is one core practice that plays a very large role in wrongful convictions which is common to most prosecutors, it is the practice of suppressing evidence that is beneficial to the defense.  It is not the only cause but it is a biggie in which most other improper tactics stem from.

Why do prosecutors suppress evidence, they suppress evidence because they are not obligated by the law to produce the truth, prosecutors are only obligated to put on a case to compete against the defense in our “adversarial system” of justice.  In its most basic sense it is the competitive nature that takes over to the detriment of the rule of law and a sense of universal justice.

Prosecutors want to win.  On another level it has to do with personal or societal prejudices which motivate prosecutors to suppress and or manipulate evidence to their own benefit enabling them to violate the Constitutions free from a convicting conscience.

Additionally there is the camaraderie within law enforcement, a bond that creates an inherent conflict of interest preventing colleagues from holding one other accountable when their actions violate the law, (a police officer destroying evidence or providing perjurious testimony), sometimes referred to as the, “blue wall of silence” which extends from small town beat cops to police chiefs of major cities to County DAs, to federal prosecutors and to Attorney Generals and all the way up to judges to which many have graduated to their position through the departments of justice.

How else can you explain the U.S Supreme Court decision in Connick v. Thompson which grants prosecutors the right to violate the U.S. Constitution regardless of how egregious the act or the magnitude of harm caused to the innocent.  (2)

Proof is in the pudding

According to Professor Marvin Zalman’s study, 5,000 to 10,000 people are wrongfully convicted each year in the United States.   (3)

Of the 1,159 exonerations documented by The National Registry of Exonerations 516 wrongful convictions were due in part to official misconduct by the police, prosecutors and government agents. (4)

140 Death Row inmates have been exonerated since 1973.  If you had a million dollars at your disposal to reveal the truth, do you think you would accidentally produce a lie to send someone to death for a crime they did not commit.  (5)

In addition to the National Registry, there have been 300 exonerations documented by the Innocent Project.  The heart wrenching stories can be found here.   (6)

In California it is against the law for police officers to suppress and or destroy evidence, PC 135, or to falsify the evidence of a crime scene, PC 141(b).

A survey was sent out to 80 high ranking law enforcement officials, 20 police chiefs, 130 Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorneys, 10 County District Attorneys, 40 California State Prosecutors, 10 U.S. Prosecutors 6 State Attorney Generals asking if police officer who have suppressed evidence or destroyed evidence or falsified evidence pursuant to PC 135 and 141(b), have they violated the law?  (7)

Not one of the 295 high ranking officials from the justice system were willing to go on record stating that fellow officers should be held accountable for violating the law.

Notable among them who refused state that they would hold culpable officers accountable: L.A. DA Jackie Lacy; L.A. Police Chief Charlie Beck; S.F. DA George Gascon; S.F. Police Chief Greg Suhr; Palo Alto Police Chief Dennis Burns, Santa Clara DA Jeff Rosen, Attorney General Kamala Harris and Sutter County DA Carl Adams who is President of the California District Attorney’s Association.

DA Adams responded to the request by declining to go on record because he assumed to know the future before the future happened by falsely asserting that the information provided from the survey would not be used for anything.

The adversarial system of justice is a game with two opponents in which one opponent can cheat to win with impunity.

Prosecutors and cops are allowed to cheat to win because they are not only a competitor in the game, but they are also the referee who enforces the rules on the competitors, on themselves.  Unfortunately prosecutors and cops don’t apply the rules to themselves when they cheat to win.  That is a conflict of interest which results in the wrong competitor winning when he/she shouldn’t.

That sums up the fundamental flaw with the justice system.  One competitor enforces the rules while the other does not.  If the game is to be fair then both competitors need to abide by the rules which cannot be accomplished if only one is in charge of enforcing the rules.

There is a simple solution to the problem, provide citizen oversight Freedom demands truthand accountability of our public servants, the prosecutors and law enforcement agents by establishing Public Integrity Units that are completely segregated from prosecutor and law enforcement agencies and staffed with conflict free citizens providing those citizens with all of same powers of District Attorneys and Bureau of Investigations yet whose sole purpose is to investigate and prosecute law enforcement agents, cops and prosecutors for violating the Constitutions and the laws.

Prosecutors and law enforcement agents become defensive and hostile to such suggestions of transparency and accountability.  And why is that, that’s because prosecutors and cops sit in a position of power which they use to insulate themselves from being held accountable falsely claiming to the public that they are capable of doing it themselves.  However, the facts and history show this not to be true.

There is no financial, logical, legal or ethical argument to prohibit citizen oversight of prosecutors and the police, thus the refusal of the justice system to subject itself to invasive public scrutiny demonstrates that it wants to hide its activities from the very public it claims to serve.

If you are not doing anything wrong then there is nothing to hide.  Hence the justice system conducts its affairs in a manner that it knows the public would not approve of, a manner which results in wrongful convictions and therefore refuses to allow someone other than itself to hold itself accountable.

“A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.”  John F. Kennedy

The Founding Fathers of our nation despised the British for monopolizing the mechanisms and powers of government refusing to provide any legitimate participation by the governed.  The result was the creation of a New Nation in which the mechanisms and powers of government were to be shared among all citizens.

What is the test of a true American Patriot?  A true American Patriot is a person who has an aversion to possessing control of others and who wants to share the powers of the government with as many minute mancitizens as possible.  The fact that law enforcement officials and prosecutors from one end of the country to the other resist and refuse to share the power they have with the citizens whom they serve proves beyond a reasonable doubt that they are the impostures of pretended patriotism that George Washington warned us about.

We as a society do not tolerate cheating in grade school, high school or college often subjecting cheaters to suspension and expulsion.  We as a society condemn cheaters in amateur and professional sports subjecting violators of the rules to extreme discipline and ostracism.  We as a society punish cheaters in business to criminal remedies.  If we as a society will not allow cheaters to prosper or exist in every venue of conceivable, why do we allow cheaters to exist and prosper in the justice system where the consequences are significantly more damaging to the underpinnings of society.

Contrary to common belief, according to the United States Supreme Court and Justice System in Herrera v. Collins, 506 U.S. 390 (1993), it is not a violation of the Constitution to imprison and or execute innocent citizens.  (8)

The fireworks; the Star Spangled Banner; the hot dogs and ice-cream are just an illusion or more precisely a diversion to what truly is.

“As citizens, we must always be on guard for the terrors of a justice system run amok by those who are charged with legal authority, yet show no fidelity to the Constitution or the notion of justice underlying it.”  Judge James E. Rogan
“The dignity and stability of government in all its branches, the morals of the people, and every blessing of society depend so much upon an upright and skillful administration of justice.”   John Adams

 

SOURCES:

(1)  Example Cases:

One:  Michael Morton freed after spending 25 years in prison being wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife because the DA withheld evidence.

     A, B, C

Two:   Ryan Ferguson serving 40 years for a murder he did not commit, wrongfully convicted by false testimony and false misidentification.

      A, B, C

Three:  Rick Walker wrongfully convicted

     A, B

Four:  Central Park Five

     A, B

Five:  Joshua Kezer wrongfully convicted

     A

(2)  Connick v. Thompson

     A, B, C, D

(3)  Professor Marvin Zalman’s study

     A, B

(4)  The National Registry of Exonerations

     A, B

(5)  Death Penalty Information Center

     A

(6)  Innocent Project

     A

(7) Survey

     A

(8)  Herrera v. Collins

     A, B

(9)  A case study of corrupt justice system

     A

(10)  Complicity of Judges 

     A

(11)  Justice Denied

     A

(12)  EXTRA

Eyewitness misidentification is a leading cause of wrongful convictions, however any prosecutor who wants to reveal the truth to obtain justice will weed out the false witnesses nor rely solely on eyewitness testimony, for to do so would still constitute deliberate negligence.  Snitches seeking favors; coerced false confessions; and faulty forensics all fall in the lap of prosecutors when used to seek a conviction rather than the truth.

If prosecutors seek the truth instead of a conviction the information obtained form the above sources will not manipulate the outcome of the trial nor harm justice.  For example the case of Nicole Harris is one in which prosecutors knowingly used a false confession to obtain a wrongful conviction:

[A prosecutor has spent a lot of time and resources to build a solid murder case against suspect “A.”  It comes to the prosecutor’s attention that there is a piece of evidence that has blood on it.  The prosecutor refuses to test the blood to determine whose blood it is because if the blood belongs to someone other than the victim or suspect “A” the case built against suspect “A” falls apart.  Rather than risk the loss of his time and resources put into developing his current case and instead of revealing the truth the prosecutor chooses not to use the evidence falsely claiming to the defense that it does not exist to ensure the success of his own case.  It just so happens that the blood did not belong to suspect “A” but to the true perpetrator of the crime, yet suspect “A” gets convicted by the prosecutor based upon the factual evidence presented to the judge and jury.]

“The moment a person forms a theory, his imagination sees in every object only the traits which favor that theory.”  Thomas Jefferson

Palo Alto was No.1 in disability retirements

Dave Price - Editor and Co-Founder of The Daily Post
Dave Price – Editor and Co-Founder of The Daily Post

Something is out of whack when Palo Alto has nearly twice the rate of police and firefighters getting disability pensions than other cities in Santa Clara County.

Nobody would disagree that police and firefighters do dangerous jobs and deserve to be compensated when they are injured at work or become ill because of their jobs.

But there’s is a powerful incentive for retiring officers to falsify claims they’re disabled: they can get at least half of their pension tax free.

And a provision in the law: (Labor Code Section 4850) allows Public Safety employees to get a year off the job with pay (tax free) when they discover they have a disability disease or injury.

The abuse of disability pensions by public safety workers came to light in 2004 when the Sacramento Bee reported that 80% of senior CHP officers “discovered” they had a disabling injury about a year before retiring.

Most of the disabilities involved back pain, knee pain, irritable bowel syndrome, and the like — injuries that are hard for doctors to document.

The doctor has to rely on the patient’s word. So these top CHP officials would go on disability for their last year and then retire at age 50. After retirement, they would find a new job but continue to collect their partially tax-free pension.

And pensions at the CHP, like most law enforcement agencies, can range up to 90% of their officers final year’s pay for a retiree with 30 years of service.

Irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome

Palo Alto’s alarming high rate of disability pensions accidentally was brought to light on Thursday by the Santa Clara County civil grand jury. The grand jury is a group of citizens commissioned by the court to investigate government activities.

This county’s civil grand jury rarely investigate anything in Palo Alto.  It’s focus is usually on San Jose.

Earlier this year, the grand jurors decided to open investigation after the San Jose City Auditor raised concerns about that city’s 30% rate of disability retirements among police and firefighters.

In order to put San Jose figures into context, the grand jury surveyed 16 law enforcement and fire agencies in the County and unexpectedly found that Palo Alto was No 1 in disability retirements at 51%. The next closest was Gilroy at 43%.

The average of cities with both fire and police employees was 30%. So a grand jury report that was supposed to focus on San Jose’s problems ended up identifying what’s going wrong in Palo Alto.

Palo Alto Assistant HR director Sandra Blanche, in an interview with a post reporter on Friday, took issue with 51% figure, saying it should be 49% because the grand jury survey counted one parking enforcement officer who went out on disability as a police officer. But still, 49%, Palo Alto leads the county.

Strain from lifting patients

Blanch said it’s not surprising Palo Alto has a high disability rate since it is the only city in the county that provides paramedic services through the fire department meaning firefighters strain their backs and shoulders lifting patients.

Back and shoulder injuries top the list of disabilities claim, followed by neck and knee injuries. Two Palo Alto safety officers got disability pensions for heart conditions.

Now that the grand jury report has been released, we’re told that Palo Alto’s police and fire chiefs are going to work on a plan to reduce these numbers.

Too bad the city wasn’t addressing this problem earlier. How did this get out of hand? Where there any attempts to challenge questionable requests for disability questions?

City Council members should demand answers. And even if there is no abuse, council should push for policies that would reduce disability retirements because that would mean fewer police and firefighters are getting injured on the job.

The Daily Post Today
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