Leniency for a Drug-Dealing Judge

by Will

Will Grigg’s Liberty Minute

November 26, 2013

Utahresident Virginia Ward cried as she was sentenced to 90 days in jail – and three years of probation -- for drug trafficking. It could have gone much worse for her. Ward, who had become addicted to the potent prescription painkiller Oxycodone, had originally faced two 15-year prison sentences for her role in a multistate smuggling operation.

It wasn’t until Ward’s sentencing hearing that she learned that the prosecution had reduced its sentencing recommendation to six months. The judge cut that already lenient sentence in half. The department of probation and parole had recommended against jail time.

When Ward reports to jail today, she will serve her term outside ofSaltLakeCounty, in order to avoid other inmates she had imprisoned. Until earlier this year, Ward was a sitting judge, in which role she sentenced lesser offenders to longer terms than the one she will serve.

Meanwhile, a fellowUtahresident named Weldon Angelos is serving 55 years – in principle, a life sentence – for selling about 24 ounces of marijuana to a police informant. Federal prosecutors piled on the charges to punish Angelos for refusing a plea bargain that would have imposed a 16-year prison sentence.

In our system, leniency is reserved for the powerful and corrupt.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

Off-Duty Cops Shake Down Drivers for DNA

by Will

Will Grigg’s Liberty Minute

November 25, 2013

Customers at shopping malls are sometimes cornered by clipboard-toting researchers conducting surveys of various kinds. Busy shoppers who don’t have a few minutes to spare can decline – politely, if possible, brusquely, if necessary.

What if the researchers were uniformed police officers, and their intention were not merely to ask questions, but rather to collect DNA samples through mouth swabs and blood draws? And what if the unwilling participants were drivers, rather than shoppers? These are not hypothetical questions: Police in Ft. Worth, Texas erected a roadblock on a busy street on November 15, herding drivers into a parking lot where they were asked to undergo mouth swabs or blood draws as part of a survey conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Although the exercise was described as “voluntary,” drivers were not allowed to proceed through the roadblock. Those who surrendered DNA samples were paid a tiny amount for their trouble. Those who refused were compelled to undergo Breathalyzer tests.

The officers who conducted this patently unconstitutional roadblock were off-duty. They had been hired directly by the federal agency, and the Police Chief claims that he is investigating the matter. The officers who took part should be fired and prosecuted for multiple counts of unlawful detention.


Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free.

Counter-Insurgency Warfare in Boise?

by Will

Liberty Minute November 22 2013

Like many other police chiefs and sheriffs nation-wide, Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson has procured a combat-grade armored vehicle for his department – because the Pentagon is giving them away for free.

Boise is one of several Idaho cities – including minuscule Preston, which is practically free of crime – whose police departments have obtained Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected Vehicles, or MRAPs, which were designed for combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Chief Masterson insists that Boise residents who are alarmed over the prospect of police militarization are focusing on what he calls “the symbolism of a free vehicle.” The MRAP, he contends, is necessary to protect his officers – whom he calls “peacekeepers” – from “high-caliber bullets and bombs” in what he calls “an increasingly violent society.”

This claim isn’t statistically plausible. Boise’s crime rate is roughly two-thirds the national average for cities of its size, and has fallen every year since 2000. Masterson contends that although Boise “hasn’t made national news for murder and mayhem,” his department should up-armor itself, just in case. Besides, he says, there are people in the city who may “intend to harm our government and its most visible forms of authority.”

Chief Masterson’s counter-insurgency mindset is more dangerous than the combat-grade vehicle provided by the Pentagon.

 

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

Revere the Constitution -- Yet Repeal the Second Amendment?

by Will

Liberty Minute November 21 2013

Professor Mary Penrose of the Texas A&M University School of Law claims that she is “extremely passionate about” the U.S. Constitution – except for that vexatious Second Amendment, which she says proves that the document is  archaic and badly in need of drastic revision.

During a symposium on gun control and the Second Amendment at the University of Connecticut School of Law in Hartford, Professor Penrose insisted that the Second Amendment should be repealed. Despite her professed devotion to the Constitution, Penrose said that it is odd that Americans cling to what she described as a document “driven by 18th Century concerns” – such as the “fear of a standing army,” which is what she describes as the primary motivation behind the Second Amendment.

Insisting that gun violence must be addressed through “drastic measures,” she says the Second Amendment should be repealed and replaced by a “states’ rights” model that will allow states to decide whether personal firearms ownership should be restricted.

The right to armed self-defense would exist even if the Second Amendment did not. Nothing in the Constitution authorizes the federal government to impose on that right – and any government that would disarm the citizenry is eminently worthy of being overthrown.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

When Cops are Sore Losers, Innocent People Get Hurt

by Will

Liberty Minute November 20, 2013

A California Highway Patrol officer avenged a courtroom loss by stealing three years of an innocent man’s  life.

In January 2007, CHP Officer Mark Magrann stopped a driver who was traveling at more than 100 miles per hour. The driver, who had a United Kingdom driver’s license, disappeared. At a trial six months later, Magrann claimed he was “98 percent sure” that Kendell Wilkinson was the driver. Wilkinson produced a driver’s license documenting that he was not the speeder, and was acquitted.

Magrann, offended by what he called Wilkinson’s “arrogance,” obtained a search warrant for the man’s home, determined to find the UK driver’s license. The search proved fruitless – but the officer and his comrades didn’t relent. They persuaded the Orange County DA to charge Wilkinson with perjury. In the second trial, Wilkinson was able to prove that he wasn’t in California on the date of the incident, and that the driver was actually a distant relative. But Magrann brow-beat a credulous jury into believing that Wilkinson must be guilty because of previous traffic tickets on his record. He was sentenced to 45 days in jail and three years’ probation.

The verdict was eventually reversed on the grounds of double jeopardy – but only after a lengthy, expensive, and unwarranted ordeal.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

"Officer Friendly" Opens Fire on a Minivan Full of Kids

by Will

Liberty Minute November 19, 2013

Rihanna Ferrell, who was driving a minivan in the company of her five children, was stopped by a New Mexico State Police trooper for violating the speed limit. After the officer returned to his car, Ferrell drove away for a short distance, then stopped again. When the officer attempted to arrest her, the oldest of her children — her 14-year-old son — came to his mother’s aid when an armed stranger violently laid hands on her.

Several other officers arrived and laid siege to the family’s vehicle, breaking windows and terrorizing the children. Ferrell took off again, prompting one of the officers to fire several shots into the rear of the vehicle. Following an extremely dangerous chase, Ferrell eventually pulled over and surrendered. She has been charged with child abuse. The officer who shot her vehicle should be charged with attempted criminal homicide.

The actions of the mother may be considered intemperate and irresponsible. However, the behavior of the police in this episode was close kindred to that of occupation forces in Iraq who would often fire indiscriminately into vehicles that refused to stop at checkpoints. Nothing Ferrell did justified the use of deadly force that put her children at risk.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free.

Recall -- and Prosecute -- Ada County's Criminal Sheriff

by Will

Liberty Minute November 18 2013

Last May 21, Idaho State Legislator Mark Patterson sent a letter to Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney demanding information on the sheriff’s potentially illegal lobbying efforts against a gun rights bill he opposed. The following day Raney sent Patterson a letter revoking his concealed carry license, claiming that Patterson had lied on his application by failing to disclose a withheld judgment on a felony charge nearly 40 years ago.

A withheld judgment is not a conviction, and once a term of probation ends the charge is expunged from the record. An applicant who has a withheld judgment is eligible to receive a concealed carry license, and is not legally required to disclose the matter in any case.

Patterson was accused of serious crimes four decades ago, but he was acquitted. Now 61 years old, Patterson is a successful businessman and a devoted family man.

Raney’s revocation of Patterson’s permit was clearly retaliatory. He disclosed confidential information obtained through an FBI background check to the Idaho Statesman newspaper – which is illegal.

Ada County cannot have a sheriff who behaves like a commissar. Gary Raney must be recalled from office and prosecuted for his crimes.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

Turning the National Guard into an Engine of Subversion?

by Will

Liberty Minute November 15 2013

Following a recent Supreme Court decision that supposedly legitimized the novel institution called homosexual marriage, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel issued a directive extending marriage benefits to individuals identified as same-sex spouses of National Guard soldiers.

Most states still do not recognize the validity of so-called same-sex marriages. However, only six states – Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia – have refused to implement the Pentagon directive. Officials in those states maintain that extending benefits to same-sex couples is impermissible under state laws, which apply to their respective National Guard units.

As Dr. Allan Carlson of the Howard Center points out, the United States military could be considered the single greatest source of cultural subversion in American society. It is, in his phrase, "an engine of social change," including radical alterations of conventional mores and the structure of the traditional family.

Although the National Guard is still considered a select state militia, it has been fully subsumed into the federal military, and nearly all of its funding comes from Washington.  This means that the Guard, rather than defending states against federal encroachments, could be used as a weapon against the states by radical social engineers.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

Jury Nullification vs. The Prison Industry

by Will

Liberty Minute November 14 2013

America’s prison industry has reached another thoroughly regrettable milestone.

Commentator Saki Knafo observes: “If sitting in a prison cell was a job, it would be one of the most common jobs in the United States. In 2012, there were some 1,570,000 inmates in state and federal prisons in the U.S., according to data from the Justice Department. By contrast, there were about 1,530,000 engineers in America last year, 815,000 construction workers, and 1 million high school teachers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

This comparison omits those who are in county jails, as well as on probation and parole. Once these groups are included, the total, as of 2009, swells to an estimated 7.1 million Americans – one out of every 31 people living in this country.

The most significant factor abetting the growth of the prison population is the so-called war on drugs. It is also quite common for prosecutors to pursue punishment for trivial infractions – such as the recent case of Texas resident Jory Enck, who was arrested and jailed for an overdue library book.

Perhaps the only thing that can arrest the growth of the prison industry would be fully informed juries who understand, and exercise, their authority to nullify the application of unjust laws.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

Political Racketeering in New Jersey

by Will

Liberty Minute November 13 2013

Mark Halper and his 14 children once ran a dairy farm on 75 acres outside of Piscataway, New Jersey.

In 1999, a clique of local political officials and well-connected business interests staged a brazen land grab in the name of “eminent domain.” The town issued a “taking” in 2004, which led to the family being driven off their farm.

One member of that clique, David D’Amiano, approached Halper in 2005 and tried to extract a $40,000 bribe in exchange for using his influence with then-Governor James McGreevey to increase the amount paid for the farm. Halper recorded the conversation, which was used as evidence by then-US Attorney Chris Christie. D’Amiano was a major fundraiser for McGreevey, and his trial and conviction helped bring down the incumbent governor – and propel Christie into the governor’s mansion.

The amount paid to the Halper family – which has spent millions in legal fees -- was a fraction of what the land was worth. After being seized the property was used as a dumping ground. Cleaning it up will cost at least $1.5 million. Halper says that the family has been abandoned by  Christie, who used them as one of many rungs on his political ladder as he climbs to the White House.

Let us take back the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. 

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