Appelman

Student Suspended For Wearing “Welcome to the Gun Show” Shirt

Tuesday, 1. April 2014

Welcome to the Gun Show shirtWe’ve heard stories where children have been suspended from school for making weapons out of Poptarts and with their fingers, but the latest story simply takes the cake.

A Maple Grove student was suspended from school for three days for wearing a t-shirt that had the word “gun” written on it.

Jeffery Warner, 17, didn’t give a second thought to his attire Monday morning when he put on his new “Welcome to the Gun Show” t-shirt. The shirt, which has been recreated above, refers to Warner’s biceps as the “guns.” A few of Warner’s friends got a chuckle when they saw their friend donning the orange shirt, but they never expected what would happen next.

“Between third and fourth period I got a call down to the office on the loudspeaker,” said Warner. “I never get in trouble, so I figured it was about Prom or something.”

When Warner arrived in the office, he was greeted by the principal and the district superintendent. He said that’s when he began to worry.

“I started running every scenario through my head, but for the life of me I couldn’t think of anything I did wrong,” said Warner.

“You’re Suspended”

Warner was led to a conference room where he was asked if he knew why he was there. He said he hadn’t the faintest idea, and that’s when the principal handed him the Maple Grove student conduct policy.

“He had highlighted the weapon policy, but it still didn’t dawn on me, even after I read the section that said guns of all kind are forbidden,” said Warner. “I told him I didn’t have a weapon, and he pointed at my chest and said, ‘I’m looking at it right now!’”

Once Warner came to the conclusion that the principal was talking about his shirt, he offered to go home and change. The principal said that it was too late.

“We wouldn’t let a kid who brought a knife to school go home and return without the knife, so why would we let Warner do the same?” said Principal Roy Kafest. “We felt that it was only fair to punish him the same way we’d punish anyone else who brought a weapon to school.”

Superintendent Don Belivettei echoed Kafest’s sentiments.

“Zero tolerance means just that,” said Belivettei. “Keeping our students safe is our top priority.”

Principal Kafest declined further comment, saying he was late for a meeting with a freshman who wrote the word “luger” on a history paper about World War II.

Warner said he planned to hire Appelman Law Firm to challenge the matter in court.

Related source: StockGraphicDesigns

Officer Sucker Punches Innocent Girl During Riot

Monday, 31. March 2014

An Arizona police officer was caught on video sucker punching a seemingly innocent girl who was trying to cross the street during a student riot that occurred after the University of Arizona lost to Wisconsin in the Elite Eight.

Although details of the incident are still emerging, what we see on camera paints a pretty clear picture of unnecessary force on an innocent individual. You can see the incident in question below.

 


 

The punch occurs about 20 seconds into the video as the woman emerges on the right side of the screen. It appears that she has something in her left hand, possibly a phone or a drink, but she’s clearly not acting out of line. The cop enters from the right and slugs her, knocking her headfirst onto a concrete bench.

The crowd of shocked onlookers began yelling at the cop, as one man screamed, “What did you do that for?” Thankfully the woman didn’t suffer any major injuries, and some friends helped her to her feet. While the woman was able to escape with only bumps and bruises, the officer may not be so lucky.

“The officer in the video is clearly a bully who was looking to use the cover of the riot to rough someone up,” said Criminal Defense Attorney Mel Welch. “Instead of finding someone in clear violation of the law, he sought out a small woman and decided to attack her without warning. This is a disgusting case of police behavior and hopefully this video will bring him to justice. This officer is a civil suit waiting to happen, and the taxpayers of Tucson shouldn’t be forced to foot that bill.”

Related source: The Blaze

Cancer Patient Arrested For Failing to Pay $5 Dog Renewal Fee

Thursday, 27. March 2014

Dog JailWe can assure you, this isn’t the same story we wrote last week about the 84-year-old cancer patient who was arrested because her dogs got loose. This is simply another case of authorities ignoring common sense to pursue the letter of the law.

Earlier this week, 41-year-old Ann Musser was placed in handcuffs and taken to the Hampshire County House of Correction because officers uncovered she had a warrant out for her arrest. What was her heinous crime, you might ask? Failing to pay a $5 dog renewal fee enforced by the city of Holyoke, Massachusetts.

Musser’s tale is similar to Mary Root’s story, as both women have had other things on their minds. Like Root, Musser had been recently diagnosed with cancer, and she was looking forward to an upcoming surgery. She said the failure to pay the fee was an oversight.

“Your priorities are a little different when you are fighting death,” said her husband, Ozzie Ercan. “It’s easy to lose track of how important those little pieces of paper are.”

Tried To Pay It

The city of Holyoke is unique in that it requires all dog owners to pay a $5 annual fee to renew their dog license. After Musser missed the initial deadline, she was mailed a letter saying she needed to pay the fee and a $25 late fee within 21 days or the matter would be handed over to the court. She again failed to pay the fine, and a warrant was issued for her arrest. She later paid the $30 total fee, but that didn’t clear her arrest warrant.

Musser tried to go to court to settle the matter, but she left before she could complete the process because she felt her health was in danger. See, Musser was at a stage of cancer treatment that leaves her neutropenic, meaning her body’s ability to fight off infection is weakened. The longer she’s exposed to airborne viruses, the more likely she is to develop a serious or deadly complication. Her doctors advised against being in crowds, but it was unavoidable at the courthouse. Despite telling the clerks and bailiffs about her condition, she had to wait just like everyone else. Eventually, after more than three hours in court, Musser left without settling her warrant.

“I knew I was taking a risk, but I had paid my fee and the late fee,” she said. “I didn’t know what else to do, so I left, knowing that it could come back to bite me – and it did.”

Taken Downtown

The warrant finally came to fruition one night when Musser’s husband was driving home. Ercan had forgotten his wallet, and he was pulled over in his driveway by a police officer. The officer was kind enough to let Ercan go inside and get his wallet, but since the vehicle was in his wife’s name, he asked to see her license as well. When he ran her name, the arrest warrant surfaced.

“They came back and said ‘We’re going to have to arrest you,’” she said.

Musser’s husband tried to tell the officer about his wife’s condition, but his pleas fell on deaf ears.

“They said, ‘There’s nothing we can do. Sorry, we’re going to have to arrest you,’” said Musser.

Although her husband was able to bail her out within five hours, Musser was exposed to some potentially deadly conditions inside her cell.

“I was literally barefoot in a cement cell for an hour and a half. They gave me a blanket that may have been clean, but I didn’t know who used it. There was a mattress, but it had some stuff on it, so I didn’t want to sit on it. And the glass wall had all these finger smears, and it looked like someone spit on the window and it dried there,” she said. “I didn’t want to touch anything.”

Musser later went to court and had the warrant removed from the system. She said the city can rest easy knowing there’s one less ‘criminal’ on the streets.

“Holyoke is safe again,” she mused.

Related source: MassLive.com

Police Classifying Public Surveillance Equipment As “Trade Secret”

Wednesday, 26. March 2014

Trade SecretAs we made mention earlier this month, police in Florida have been using cell phone tracking technology known as a “stingray” to track the movements of public citizens in a clear violation of due process. Freedom of Information request from national organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union have fallen on deaf ears as those in power declare the technology a “trade secret,” meaning they don’t have to release information to the public. 

“We usually see this kind of response in the national security area,” said ACLU staff attorney Nathan Freed Wessler. “From a state police agency, it’s particularly indefensible.

While the end result of stingray technology may net the perpetrator in some cases, there is an expectation of due process that is being ignored. Just like authorities can’t search your home without consent or a warrant, so too should the expectation of privacy be upheld when it comes to cell phone technology.

How Surveillance Works

Although it’s uncertain exactly how many times the rights of ordinary citizens have been infringed upon, the ACLU did uncover some information about how the stingray device works.

Once enabled, the stingray tricks cell phones in the area into thinking the machine is actually a cell phone tower. Once the phone sends a ping to the tower, authorities can triangulate the position of the phone and track it to an exact location. The problem is two fold:

  • Police are essentially searching a person’s private communications without their consent; and
  • Many innocent citizens unknowingly have their information collected by the stingray as it collects data from all phones within range.

Mel Welch, a criminal trial attorney with Appelman Law Firm, said the allegations of spy tactics should not be taken lightly.

“This is an interesting story about how new law enforcement tactics are being used to spy on individuals; some of whom are suspected of criminal activity, others are simply folks with nothing to hide,” said Welch. “Past Supreme Court decisions have always been wary of giving authorities full power to obtain information through technological means that they would not legitimately be able to obtain through other means without violating a person’s fourth amendment rights against unreasonable searches. If police want to continue on their reckless, and potentially lawless ways, all they are doing is opening up a huge avenue for dismissals and retrials.”

Feminist Teacher Facing Criminal Charges After Run-In With Pro-Life Teen

Tuesday, 25. March 2014

Feminist fightA women’s studies professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara has been charged with grand theft, battery and vandalism after getting into an altercation with a pro-life teen.

The incident, which was captured on cell phone video, showcases what can happen when people with strong opposing beliefs run into one another. According to the criminal complaint, 16-year-old Thrin Short, her 21-year-old sister and a group of pro-life advocates were preaching their message in a “free speech zone” on the UCSB campus on March 4. Short said she was sharing her pro-life message when Mireille Miller-Young, a professor at the university, approached the group and began disseminating her opposing view.

“Before she grabbed the sign, she was mocking me and talking over me in front of the students, saying that she was twice as old as me and had three degrees, so they should listen to her and not me,” Short said in an email to Fox News.“Then she started the chant with the students about ‘tear down the sign.’ When that died out, she grabbed the sign.”

Video Evidence

The cell phone video begins after Miller-Young and others have taken Short’s pro-life poster. Short follows the group into an elevator, where a minor physical alternation appears to take place.

 


 

Short later described the incident.

“I explained how I had been trying to keep the elevator door open with my foot, because I thought the police would be there any second, and that’s when she pushed and grabbed me,” Short’s email continued. “She then got off the elevator and tried to pull me away from the elevator doors so the others could get away with the sign.”

Short said she suffered scratches on both of her wrists as a result of the confrontation.

Miller-Young declined to comment on the incident, other than to say it was her “moral right” to act the way she did. A student in Miller-Young’s Women of Color class told reporters that “[Miller-Young is] pregnant, so she’s very sensitive to horrifying images [that were displayed].” It’s uncertain exactly what was on the poster that Short created.

Miller-Young has hired an attorney, and the UCSB said they planned to review all the evidence before making a decision in regards to Miller-Young’s employment at the university.

Related source: Fox News, Jonathanturley.org

Birthday Boy Arrested For Talking

Monday, 24. March 2014

Arrested for talkingA Michigan man was arrested on his birthday on felony charges of resisting and obstructing police officers and a misdemeanor charge of disturbing the peace for talking longer than the three minutes he was allotted at a town meeting. 

Mark A. Adams, 59, was taken into custody for violating the Bridgeport Township law that sets a three-minute time limit for people making public comments at town meetings. According to the report, Adams continued to speak even after officials told him to stop talking.

“He was asked to wrap it up by the township supervisor and he refused and continued to talk over him,” said Bridgeport Township Manager Rose Licht. “Several times the supervisor asked him to take a seat and he refused and the police department asked him to have a seat and took him out of the building.”

Series of Problems

The birthday boy was adamant to be heard on what he called “Taliban” style actions conducted by Bridgeport Township officials and government leaders. Adams provided anyone who would listen with a four-page document citing various infractions conducted by government officials, such as police harassment, corruption, hate crimes, trespassing, tax fraud and Freedom of Information Act violations.

Licht said Adams was escorted out two other times in the past but was not arrested.

“It’s a long-time dispute,” Licht said. “If he would have wrapped it up, he would have been fine.”

Bridgeport Township Chief of Police Dave Duffett declined to discuss the case other than to say the prosecutor was reviewing all the evidence. If convicted on the felony charge, Adams could face up to two years in prison.

Adams is currently free on bond. His preliminary hearing has been scheduled for April 11.

Mel Welch comments

Look, we’ve all ran into a similar person at some point in our lives; the student who won’t stop asking the professor questions that don’t pertain to the lecture, or the person who decides the best time to catch up with their favorite grocer is when the line is three people deep.

These people may be annoying, but are their actions criminal? The letter of the law appears to show that Mr. Adams was indeed in violation of a municipal code, but a felony charge seems over the top. Two years in prison for talking for an extra few seconds? The punishment certainly doesn’t fit the crime.

Related source: MLive.com

The March Madness DUI Bracket

Thursday, 20. March 2014

March Madness tips off later today, and millions of people around the world are scrambling to fill out their brackets. What’s great about filling out a bracket is that everyone has their own unique way of making picks. Some people put hours of research into each matchup, while others simply choose the team with the coolest mascot.

Since there’s no wrong way to fill out a bracket, we thought it would be interesting to see how the bracket would look if we made our picks based on a unique set of rules that pertained to our industry – Criminal Law. Since a lot of our cases involve DUI charges, and because DWI statistics are relatively easy to obtain, we decided to fill out a bracket by picking the team that resides in the state with the higher number of DUIs per capita.

**Note** In the event the schools play in the same state, the school that was ranked higher on the 2010 Most Dangerous Colleges list advanced.

Behold, the March Madness DUI Bracket:

Appelman Law Firm DUI Bracket

Fun Facts About the Bracket

  • Although a #1 seed has never beaten a #16 seed in the actual tournament, Cal Poly knocked of Wichita State in this bracket.
  • In a matchup of DUI per capita powerhouses, the University of Nebraska met Creighton (also located in Nebraska) in Round 2, but Creighton snuck by on account that they are ranked as the #286 most dangerous campus. The University of Nebraska came in at #340.
  • Nebraska had 0.74 DUI arrests per capita, which is the fifth highest in the nation. If Creighton had faced any teams from Wyoming (1.26), Alaska (0.77), Idaho (0.75), or South Dakota (0.75), they would have lost, but no teams from those four states made the field of 64.

Related source: IBM.com

Could Criminals Soon Face 1,000-Year Prison Sentences?

Wednesday, 19. March 2014

Elderly CriminalYou may have heard about some extreme cases where judges have sentenced criminals to 100 or more years in prison, but many of these criminals will die before serving the duration of their sentence. That all could change in the near future as some biotech scientists say we may soon have the ability to keep people alive for 1,000 years, meaning sentences could extend into the hundreds or thousands of years. 

“Some crimes are so bad they require a really long period of punishment, and a lot of people seem to get out of that punishment by dying,” said Oxford University scientist Dr. Rebecca Roache. She added that in some particularly heinous crimes, the prison sentences are “laughably inadequate.”

One specific child abuse case struck a nerve with Dr. Roache. She detailed the story of Magdelena Luczak and Mariusk Krezolek, who beat, starved, tortured and murdered Luczak’s four-year-old son. Dr. Roache said the pair, who received a 30-year sentence for their crimes, will receive far better treatment than Luczak’s child.

“They will, for example, be fed and watered, housed in clean cells, allowed access to a toilet and washing facilities, allowed out of their cells for exercise and recreation,” said Dr. Roache.

Extending Sentences

The technology to extend criminal sentences is a two-pronged approach. The first avenue scientists are pursuing involves anti-aging research. Scientists have long been looking at extending lifespans through injections or supplements, and they feel that they are on the edge of a breakthrough. If the technology soon becomes available, even if it only adds a few years onto the median lifespan, it would ensure some criminal spend more time behind bars.

The second approach scientists are researching is a little more controversial. Some believe that influencing the perception of time is a way to artificially lengthen prison sentences. Dr. Roache noted that there are already several drugs available that distort a person’s sense of time, and she added that science might not be too far away from developing a pill that makes a prisoner feel like they are serving a 1,000-year sentence.

Despite her curiousity into the science, Dr. Roache notes the arguments against psychoactive medication.

“Of course, there is a widely held view that any amount of tinkering with a person’s brain is unacceptably invasive.” she said. ‘But you might not need to interfere with the brain directly.”

Mel Welch comments

While I think Dr. Roache is being overly optimistic about how close the science community is to extending lifespans into the thousands of years, I simply cannot get on board with this plan.

The idea of keeping someone alive to extend his or her sentence seems like a huge waste of taxpayer money. Is it really worth it to keep someone alive, someone who likely has limited or little control over their bodily actions at this point in their life (is a 150-year-old really going to be moving about his cell?) just so he doesn’t die, with the taxpayers footing the bill?

And the point about drugging a prisoner to alter their mind is just too abusurd to comment on. Do we really want to play judge, jury, doctor and god with someone’s life?

Related sources: Dailymail.co.uk, Aeon, Blog.practicalethics.ox.ac.uk

Great-Grandmother Jailed For Puppy Violation

Tuesday, 18. March 2014

Grandma jailAn 81-year-old great-grandmother was recently forced to spend two nights in jail after she couldn’t afford to pay a $7,000 fine she received for being unable to contain her dogs.

Mary Magdalene Root, the senior citizen at the center of the case, is fighting an uphill battle to keep her dogs and stay out of jail. The whole ordeal began over a year ago when Root left her house to run some errands. Before leaving, Root placed her two dogs in her yard, but the pups were able to break free of the restraints and wandered down the street.

According to her neighbors, the dogs continued to escape the yard when Root would leave the house, but instead of helping the 81-year-old cancer survivor come up with a plan to contain her dogs when she left the house, they simply took pictures of the loose dogs and called Animal Control.

Animal Control slapped Root with a $7,000 fine. Failure to pay meant the elderly woman could spend up to a year in jail. When it came time for her court appearance, Root was a no-show, but only because her doctor advised her not to go on a count of her failing health.

Ruling With An Iron Fist

Root’s defense attorneys asked the judge for leniency, as the senior citizen had no criminal history and was in poor health. However, the judge decided to make an example out of Root, and she ordered her arrested, placed her bail at $2,500, and ordered that her dogs could not remain on the property.

“She gave me the works. I feel like I’m a criminal, but yet I don’t feel like I’ve done anything,” Root said of the judge.

Root couldn’t afford to make bail, so she was held in jail for two days.

“I’m struggling to pay my house taxes,” said Root. “I couldn’t pay it.”

Thankfully for Root, a Good Samaritan stepped forward and paid the bond on the third day.

“There are very nice people out there,” said Root. “But then there are some people who are so struck on the strictness of the law. I don’t know whether maybe that needs to be looked at,” Root said.

Ordeal Not Over

Despite being released from jail, Root’s ordeal is far from over. She can’t return to the home she’s lived in for the last 44 years if she wants to keep her dogs. It wasn’t specified where Root has taken temporary shelter, but she said she has no intention of giving up her dogs.

“I love them,” she said “They keep me company and I love them.”

Mel Welch comments

Another example of the disconnectedness of those who purport to fulfill and uphold the letter of the law, while ignoring the presumption of innocence this woman has in the face of allegations. A woman’s two small dogs got out a couple of times, and maybe committed the awful imposition of crapping in a neighbor’s yard – that is worth $7000 and the displacement of a great-grandmother from her home?!

It must take that many years for common sense to take hold – or maybe one must give it up altogether to lord power over others.

Related source: CBS

Teen DUI Likelihood Increases If They Have Ridden With Impaired Driver

Monday, 17. March 2014

Teen Drunk DrivingA new study revealed that teens are more likely to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol if they’ve ridden in a car with an impaired driver. 

Not surprisingly, the more often a teen reported riding in a car with an impaired driver, the more likely they were to drive under the influence.

“When you experience (riding with an impaired driver), it’s a normalizing experience,” said Bruce Simons-Morton, a senior investigator with the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and author of the study. “It sort of suggests that that’s just how people do it, so it’s OK when (you) start driving to drive while intoxicated.”

Collecting Data

For their study, researchers tracked 2,500 10th grade students over the course of three years until they completed 12th grade. Students were given a yearly survey that asked how many times during the past year they had rode in a vehicle with a driver who had been drinking or consumed illegal drugs. The study did not ask whether the driver was a parent or a friend.

After analyzing the data, researchers discovered:

  • 10th graders who reported riding in a car with an impaired driver were “many times more likely” to report driving under the influence as a 12th grader compared to students who said they had never ridden with an impaired driver.
  • Teens who got their license in 10th or 11th grade were twice as likely to report driving while impaired in 12th grade compared to students who obtained their license in 12th grade.
  • Riding in a car with an impaired driver was a much better indicator of the likelihood a student would drive under the influence as a senior than the age at which a student obtained his or her license.

Simons-Morton said the most eye-opening statistic occurred when they compared DUI likelihood for students who regularly rode in the car with an impaired driver to those who had never ridden with an impaired driver.

“But if you reported exposure to riding with an intoxicated driver at all three surveys, you were 120 times more likely than those who had never been exposed,” said Simons-Morton.

He concluded by saying riding in a car with an impaired driver is very dangerous, and teens should do their best to set a good example for their friends.

“Nearly half of fatalities and serious injuries in alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes occur to passengers, so it should be noted that the risks associated with driving while intoxicated is not just to drivers,” said Simons-Morton. “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.”

Related source: USA Today


 

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