Archive for February 13th, 2013

by jhwygirl

SB196 was heard on second reading today on the floor of the senate, having passed state senate judiciary on a 9-3 vote.

In a nutshell, the bill prohibits the use of drones by the government unless a warrant is issued or some other judicial process takes place. It also prohibits the use of information illegally obtained through the use of drones.

The bill, proposed by Glendive’s Sen. Matthew Rosendale, a Republican, received bipartisan support, passing second reading 29-19.

All of Missoula’s senators supported the bill – – except for Sue Malek – See her NO vote?

Who knew the Rattlesnake, East Missoula, Bonner and Clinton people were fine with warrantless government drones?

Crazy, huh?

by jhwygirl

A little over two weeks ago, Missoulian reporter Keila Szpaller brought us the story that the city of Missoula has wrongfully arrested and even jailed people on illegal warrants issued over the past 10 years.

That’s a pretty big deal – and you have to assume she didn’t get much love from anyone in the city for looking into to wrongful arrests. The issue stems in a large part from illegal warrants.

There’s also been the mistaken identity thing – and this past weekend, the Missoulian detailed just that in the arrest of a man 30 years older than the man they should have been arresting.

Which says something about the arresting officers, does it not? I mean – imagine trying to tell them they’ve got the wrong person and they’re not even looking over their paperwork? Good lord!

I know a lot of people don’t give a crap about stuff like this. I’ve been told – when discussing the death penalty and the possibility of killing an innocent person – that “well, they were doing something wrong if they were arrested,” as if the people that get wrongfully arrested somehow had it coming to them. Even if they aren’t guilty of the crime for which the state is putting them to death.

I was very disturbed by Keila’s story. I witnessed a situation just as she writes of last year….and while I considered then and even try now to write something about it, I know it is not in anyone’s best interests that I do it here. Which I why I have much respect for Ms. Spzaller for having written that article. She didn’t make any friends and I highly doubt anyone was overly helpful as she dug for information.

So for me there were layers of disturbing to that story. Aside from the somewhat personal connection to the topic, as a citizen of Missoula it’s pretty disturbing to know that civil rights violations are going on with people being jailed unlawfully. Understanding the lack of places to turn to for assistance makes it even worse. Small towns tend to protect themselves.

What I also found disturbing was the attitudes expressed by city officials concerning such illegal arrest warrants. Spzaller starts off her story with this statement:

City officials say the incidents are rare and that Municipal Court has revised its procedures so it no longer issues bad warrants. The matter is a concern, said Judge Kathleen Jenks, but she knows of only a couple of people wrongfully detained on the invalid warrants.

“Really, there aren’t that many people getting picked up on old, illegal warrants,” Jenks said.

I don’t know who the city officials are that she refers to, but “rare” incidents of illegal arrest are – I’m sorry – a pretty big friggin’ deal.

Now, it’s clear from the article that new Judge Jenks has taken steps to try and keep these illegal arrests from continuing, but to acknowledge “only a couple of people” have been illegally arrested and to be quoted saying that “there aren’t that many people” being arrested on illegal warrants seems a bit flippant to me.

Szpaller speaks with deputy city attorney Carrie Garber:

In the worst-case scenario, a person is arrested on the weekend and remains in custody for two days because they can’t bail out, Garber said. The illegal warrants affect the people who are least able to pay a $50 or $200 bond; many people may not even know their arrest was improper, she said.

Garber said the practice took place for years, and she would not be surprised to find that “hundreds” of people went to jail because of it. When Judge Marie Andersen worked in the court, she started the practice of reviewing files before signing warrants, Garber said.

Garber said she tried unsuccessfully to encourage Louden to change the procedure, and she’s pleased Judge Jenks has done so.

In a worst-case scenario??? The practice took place for years?? She would not be surprised to find hundreds went to jail on illegal arrest warrants?? Louden didn’t give a shit??

Gerber’s boss, apparently, wasn’t giving a crap.

One quote that has really stuck in my craw since reading it back on January 27th, and it was one that came from long time city attorney Jim Nugent:

He isn’t aware of any recent arrests, and no one has sued the city over the matter, Nugent said. People may seek legal recourse if they believe their rights have been violated, but they must show they’ve been harmed, he said.

“They’d have to show damages,” Nugent said. “I don’t think a lot of money would be at issue because what’s their damages?”

“Because what’s their damages?”??? That quote there hearkens back to the conversation I relay above on the death penalty. These illegal arrests don’t mean much because..at some point the person had done something wrong so it doesn’t matter?

They don’t mean anything because these people that we’re arresting illegally don’t have the means to come back and sue us and even if they did, they don’t make a lot of money so whatever damages they incur would be minor?

They don’t mean anything because no one is going to believe them?

If you haven’t read Keila’s article, please do. It’s a worthy read.

Good newspaper writing, at it’s best – serving the public’s best interests, even when it isn’t easy.

by lizard

When Obama hit the predictable line last night about the state of our union being stronger, the clapping was anemic, as if to emphasize that strength is not something many associate with the state of our country right now.

While the president unrolled his political platitudes to the worthless group of politicians that populate Capitol Hill, the alleged homicidal rampage of ex-LAPD officer, Christopher Dorner, was coming to an end in a cabin in Big Bear Lake, California.

There’s a good article up at Jacobin this morning that’s worth reading, and it ends with this:

The police will celebrate, the chorus will quiet, the lives of his victims mourned. It is unlikely that the fire that burned away Dorner will burn away any illusion: this is unfortunate, and disturbing. His allegations will be dismissed as the rantings of a lunatic, things will return to normal. Until the fire, next time.

And there will be a next time, because the problems Dorner described are not just the rantings of a lunatic.

As I was watching MSNBC coverage of Dorner’s last stand, Chris Matthews casually dismissed Dorner’s claim of continued institutional racism with the LAPD, saying (and I’m paraphrasing here) that those problems were decades ago. Matthews also indicated that no one has supported Dorner’s claims.

Not surprisingly, Chris Matthews is simply wrong.

Just ask Wayne K. Guillary, an active LAPD Sgt. who tried to reach out to Dorner. Guillary had this to say:

… There’s still much work to be done … Some may say that nothing has changed with the leadership in the LAPD. … Trust me I have been in the fight with the organization regarding social and racial injustice within the LAPD. Currently, I am the only out spoken African American within the organization that possesses the moral courage to confront and ask questions unflinchingly about race, racism and discrimination in the LAPD. Yet still, I have paid a humiliating price inside the LAPD for preserving and believing in the importance of “I have a Dream.”

Or you could ask Joe Jones, a former LAPD officer who also confirmed that his personal experiences were similar to the ones Dorner described.

“The 1st thing I would say to [Dorner] is, I feel your pains!,” Joe Jones wrote in his manifesto, circulated Tuesday by hacker group Anonymous and posted to Jones’ Facebook. “But you are going about this the wrong way. To take innocent lives could never be the answer to anything. I say this as a Man who experienced the same pain, betrayal, anger, suffering, litigation and agony that you did in many ways.”

It takes incredible courage for these two men to come forward. I don’t think I’m overstating it when I say they are putting their lives at risk doing so.

Will Guillary and Jones and their experiences be dismissed? Probably. But we do so at our collective peril.




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