Please click on an article or scroll downwards to read this month’s Legal column:
Troy Davis’ Body
By Scott H Greenfield
(A Kavita Media Presentation. Please email comments here.)
Despite the many voices in opposition, Troy Davis was executed by the State of Georgia last night just after 11 P.M., after the Supreme court issued a single sentence order denying a stay. Lawrence Brewer was executed in Texas, though not too many people noticed.
Twitter was abuzz in advance of Davis’ execution because of the doubt surrounding his guilt. Davis’ life ended with as much dignity as he could muster. More dignity than the State of Georgia deserved.
Some have taken note of Troy Davis’ case over the years. Others stumbled upon it yesterday, first learning that he existed and there was an issue with his execution. Some have expressed anger and dismay about the late bloomers, coming to a sudden epiphany that bad things happen in the American criminal justice system. Some twitted their outrage at America’s sudden realization that the death penalty existed.
I begrudge no one for not having dwelled on the system as much as others. If it doesn’t affect you, well, there are other issues on the front burner demanding your attention. We are never at a shortage of fires in need of smother! ing. At least people had the good sense to refocus on this huge fire burning in front of them, if only momentarily. Better late than never. Better at all than not at all.
What does offend me, and offends me horribly, is the voice that never once uttered a squeak over the many years that Troy Davis’ case was pending, or even on the day of his execution, in protest. And yet after the body is cold, suddenly was heard joining in the choir of weepers and hand-wringers as if he was there all along.
Someone who might see the execution of Troy Davis as an opportunity to shore up his bona fides as the friend to the friendless, the hero of the underdog, the savior of the downtrodden, but never found it worthy of mention before because there was no self-promotion to be gained of it. Now that the world is focused on Troy Davis, it’s exploitation value is huge. Suddenly, the body dead and cold, it’s time to speak out?
I am disgusted by the reality that my countrymen still adore the death penalty. I am disgusted that we can put to death a man about whom doubt exists. I am disgusted that there are lawyers who will exploit Troy Davis’ body for their own benefit.
And I am disgusted that most of you don’t care about any of this. To those who do care, who lifted a finger even if it didn’t help, even if was late, even if it changed nothing, at least you tried to matter. The rest of you either don’t matter or worse.
Meanwhile Miami cops protect us from Downs Syndrome
By Scott H Greenfield
(A Kavita Media Presentation. Please email comments here.)
Via Radley Balko, a brave Miami police officer, whose name isn’t revealed by NBC Miami, took down 22-year-old Gilberto Powell. According to the official police report:
And Powell has Down Syndrome.
The report said officers spotted a bulge in Powell’s waist band and when they tried to pat him down, he tried to flee. Police say Powell broke free as officers tried to place him in handcuffs, hitting his forehead on the ground.
Powell hit one of the officers in the chest and continued to struggle until one of the officers "struck [Powell] in the left side of his face with an open hand in an attempt to subdue him," the report said.
After Powell was finally handcuffed and questioned, the officers realized he was "mentally challenged, was not capable of understanding our commands, and that the bulge in his waistband was a colostomy bag," the report said.Shockingly, the story from Powell and eyewitnesses differs from the official account.
[Powell’s family attorney, Phillip] Gold said Powell and other witnesses claim police body slammed him to the ground, bloodying his face and eye and causing contusions to his head. The injury to his eye may still require surgery, Gold said.
Even worse, Gold claims Powell’s colostomy bag was "ripped right off his body."
For anyone with even a slight familiarity with Down Syndrome, the absurdity of the police conduct, and report prepared to justify it, is about as patent as can be.
It would be no stretch for one of the brotherhood to be muttering, "hey, even some kid with Down Syndrome can have a gun in his pants and blow away a cop." After all, the first rule of policing not only demands that cops place their safety above a good beating of a kid with Down Syndrome, but always provides a handy excuse for any violence needed to make certain that a stop initiated by police over the dreaded colostomy bag/pistol (it could happen).
One of the most brutal problems facing people with physical or intellectual disabilities is that they don’t necessarily have the capacity to satisfy the commands of every cop on the street. Deaf people can’t hear, no matter how loudly they are ordered by a cop to do so. Blind people can’t see. Same thing.
And that’s not a reason to beat them, shoot them or harm them. This conflict between the police need for control and the fact that not everyone on the street is a perp, is physically or mentally capable of being a supplicant and not every bulge is a Magnum .45 cannot continue to result in harm to those most vulnerable. This cannot be tolerated.
And why isn’t the cop who did this to Gilberto Powell named?
Snakes on a Plane
By Scott H Greenfield
(A Kavita Media Presentation. Please email comments here.)
While there is no shortage of discussion about the pleasures of being a supporting actor in the TSA’s airport security theatre, it pales in comparison to the lawlessness of airplanes, as Shoshona Hebshi found out. Via Ken at Popehat:
. . . a perfectly innocent woman being hauled off a flight, handcuffed, jailed, strip-searched, and grilled for hours — because some fucking ninny on the plane thought she and the two dark-skinned people sitting next to her were “suspicious”, and because “better safe than sorry” has become a higher value to law enforcement than probable cause or reasonable suspicion or due process or common freaking sense, and because we’re too cowed as a people to say anything about it.At her blog, Stories from the Heartland, the tone of utter confusion is clear. As her plane landed, was moved to a "secure" location and boarded by machine gun wielding police, there was bizarre curiosity and trepidation, reflected as she twitted what was happening around her. And then things took a turn into the Twilight Zone:
After being held incommunicado, strip searched just to make sure she wasn’t wearing a bomb and subsequently questioned by the FBI, What had she done to give rise to being the target of such federal attention?
My last tweet:
Majorly armed cops coming aboard
Someone shouted for us to place our hands on the seats in front of us, heads down. The cops ran down the aisle, stopped at my row and yelled at the three of us to get up. “Can I bring my phone?” I asked, of course. What a cliffhanger for my Twitter followers! No, one of the cops said, grabbing my arm a little harder than I would have liked. He slapped metal cuffs on my wrists and pushed me off the plane. The three of us, two Indian men living in the Detroit metro area, and me, a half-Arab, half-Jewish housewife living in suburban Ohio, were being detained.
The cops brought us to a parked squad car next to the plane, had us spread our legs and arms. Mine asked me if I was wearing any explosives. “No,” I said, holding my tongue to not let out a snarky response. I wasn’t sure what I could and could not say, and all that came out was “What’s going on?”
They asked if I knew the two men sitting next to me, and if I noticed them getting up during the flight or doing anything I would consider suspicious.
To put it more bluntly, someone on the plane, carefully watching other passengers for conduct that violated heartland sensibilities, decided that the passengers in row 12 were up to something because they went to the bathroom. Two were Indian, and Shoshona was, well, a bit darker than most in Des Moines.
I told them no, and couldn’t remember how many times the men had gotten up, though I was sure they had both gone to the bathroom in succession at some point during the flight.
Again, I asked what was going on, and the man said judging from their line of questioning that I could probably guess, but that someone on the plane had reported that the three of us in row 12 were conducting suspicious activity.
What is the likelihood that two Indian men who didn’t know each other and a dark-skinned woman of Arab/Jewish heritage would be on the same flight from Denver to Detroit? Was that suspicion enough?People are strange, seeing the possibility of bad things by bad people with different color skin. Is it normal or not. Is it coincidence or part of a scheme to take over a plane by going to the bathroom. Who knows? But someone on that plane wasn’t about to let these odd-looking people go unchecked. And the American government, despite the likelihood of having someone, somewhere, fully capable of realizing that some overly sensitive nutjob who saw potential evil in the skin tone and bathroom habits of the passengers of row 12 was completely off the wall, was nonetheless happy to provide the muscle, just to be sure. This could go down in the books as another potential terrorist act thwarted by the brilliance ! and dedication of our government. A government spokesman explains:
FBI Detroit spokeswoman Sandra Berchtold said ultimately authorities determined there was no real threat.
"Due to the anniversary of Sept. 11, all precautions were taken, and any slight inconsistency was taken seriously," Berchtold said. "The public would rather us err on the side of caution than not.
Maybe. Or maybe the public would rather you not seize, strip and interrogate people because they went to the bathroom in a fashion that troubled someone from Des Moines. Or maybe they expect the forces of law enforcement to demonstrate some modicum of intelligence, and not leap at every nutjob’s suspicions.Or maybe it’s just because the three passengers in row 12 had darker skin than others.And so Shoshona Hebshi, a believer in law and order and public safety, was sacrificed on the alter of better safe than sorry because someone on a plane thought it odd.
For almost 25 years, Scott H. Greenfield has represented clients charged with crimes or the targets of investigations in state and federal courts across the United States. Scott has been awarded an AV rating, the highest possible, from Martindale Hubbell, and is recognized in “Who’s Who” in the world, America and American Law. He has served as a legal expert and analyst for television news shows from “60 Minutes” to “20/20”, and ABC, NBC, CBS, BBC, Court TV and Fox.
Scott’s cases have been the subject of a book, magazine articles and television shows. Scott is regarded as one of a handful of top criminal defense lawyers who excels in both trial work and appeals. His written work is considered some of the best in the nation, often writing Op-Eds, Amicus briefs and Editor Letters for Bar Associations and other well known lawyers. Scott is a lawyer’s lawyer, representing other attorneys, their family members and even judges when they find themselves in a jam. More info: www.blog.simplejustice.us
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these columns are solely those of the writers/interviewees and do not necessarily represent those of the editor/publisher.
- August 2011 - "An Eye for an Eye", "Dog as witness" and "There’s no explanation for this" - By Scott H Greenfield
- December 2010 - "Obama’s First Pardons" and "Are all murderers mentally ill?" - By Scott H Greenfield
- October 2010 - "A First Step in Addressing Bullying" - By Scott H Greenfield
- June 2010 - "A Christian Burial, Redux" - By Scott H Greenfield
- April/May 2010 - "Fear of Autism", "Supreme Court: No Experience Necessary", "Shahzad and the Slippery Slope" - By Scott H Greenfield
- February 2010 - "250 And Counting" - By Scott H Greenfield; "No Secrets Between Friends" - By Scott H Greenfield; "New FTC Guidelines for Bloggers and other New Media Outlets" - By Matt Welsh
- January 2010 - "Haiti: No Call For Lawyers" - By Scott H Greenfield; "Be Sure Your Donations Go To Haiti" - By Scott H Greenfield
- November-December 2009 - "Sentenced to the Bench" - By Scott H Greenfield; "Remy Meets his Fate" - By Scott H Greenfield
- October 2009 - "Schools Have Rules, Learning Disabled Edition" - By Scott H Greenfield; "Juror Duty" - By Scott H Greenfield
- September 2009 - "We Never Figure Things Out First" - By Scott H Greenfield; "The Death of A Preacher" - By Scott H Greenfield; "The Legality of Czars" - By Matt Welsh
- August 2009 - "Cambridge PD Sergeant Saves President From Crash"; "Beer Delivery for Obama"; "Symbolism, Substance and the Future" - By Scott H Greenfield
- July 2009 - "Dear Sir, Please Help Me" - By Scott H Greenfield; "Compromise, and Other Bad Ideas" - By Scott H Greenfield; "Blogger Battery raises questions about Free Speech" - By Matt Welsh
- June 2009 - "So You Think You Can Judge" - By Scott H Greenfield; "Was It The Cop Or The Taser?" - By Scott H Greenfield; "Catcher in the Rye Copyright Lawsuit" - By Matt Welsh
- May 2009 - ""Judging Empathy: Is It Just the Five Percenters?" - By Scott H Greenfield; "Troy Davis: Bowing to the Streamlined Apple" - By Scott H Greenfield
- April 2009 - "Troy Davis: Bowing to the Streamlined Apple" by Scott H Greenfield
- February 2009 - "Some Inside Thoughts on Madoff" by Scott H Greenfield
- January 2009 - "The Right to Shoot, the Duty to Help" - By Scott H Greenfield; "California Supreme Court may overturn Proposition 8" - By Matt Welsh
- November/December 2008 - "They Started to Fight When the Money Got Tight..." - By Scott H Greenfield; "Will There Be a Place for a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Washington?" - By Scott Greenfield; "The distinction between spirituality and religion as seen in the law" - By Matt Welsh
- October 2008 - Matt Welsh: "Obscenity Vs. Art"
- August 2008 - Matt Welsh: "The Law on Cloning"
- June 2008 - Matt Welsh: "California Supreme Court holds that gay couples have a legal right to marry"
- May 2008 - Matt Welsh: "Fetal Homicide Laws" and SAALT’s Guide: "What You Need to Become a US Citizen"
- April 2008 - Matt Welsh: "Supreme Court Limits Bush’s Foreign Affairs Power"
- March 2008 - Matt Welsh: "Lawmakers Consider US Apology for Slavery"
- February 2008 - Matt Welsh: "The Law on Torture"
- January 2008 - Matt Welsh: "How to Settle International Trade Law Disputes"
- December 2007 - Matt Welsh: "Harry Potter Encyclopedia May Violate Copyright"
- November 2007 - Matt Welsh: "A $1 Billion Lawsuit Against YouTube"
- October 2007 - Matt Welsh: "Podcasting Law"
- September 2007 - Matt Welsh: "Legal Issues Facing Gay Couples and How to Protect their Rights"
- August 2007 - Matt Welsh: "I Give you my Word..."
- July 2007 - Matt Welsh: "Enforcing Your 4th Amendment Civil Rights against Police Officers"
- June 2007 - Matt Welsh: "Blogger Law"
- May 2007 - Matt Welsh: "Freedom of Speech: A double-edged sword."
- April 2007 - Matt Welsh: "Copyright: A Legal Monopoly on Creativity?"
- March 2007 - Kavita Chhibber profiles law enforcement officer J.D. Smith
- February 2007 - Sheetal Desai: "ADA Compliance for Small Businesses"
- January 2007 - Sheetal Desai: "Is your company violating software licenses?"
- December 2006 - Kavita Chhibber profiles Sabrina Nishat Nizam
- November 2006 - Kavita Chhibber profiles Ashoo Sharma
- October 2006 - Sheetal Desai: "Tough Situations: Customers who don’t Pay"
- September 2006 - Charan Sandhu Profile by Kavita Chhibber; Sheetal Desai: "Landlords and Tenants: A Bittersweet Relationship, Pt. II"
- August 2006 - Sheetal Desai: "Landlords and Tenants: A Bittersweet Relationship, Pt. I"
- July 2006 - A Profile of Attorney Sonjui Kumar by Kavita Chhibber
- June 2006 - A Profile of Attorney Sheetal R. Desai by Kavita Chhibber and Sheetal’s article "Avoid Getting Sued: Practical Knowledge for the Small Business"
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