Author Archives: mtc9393

John O’Brien and Vicious Prosecutors

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Merry Commonmas!

IMG_2294For most of Modern History we’ve explicitly labeled our dates to the birth of Christ. We had two letters to designate years: if we talked about Homer we would say he was born around 8th – 9th century B.C.”  or about the Abyssinian Heresy we might read the date as “about A.D. 316.”

B.C. stood for “before Christ” and A.D. stood for “anno domini,” Latin for the “year of the Lord.”

Then at some time over the past ½ century some people became offended with what was represented by those symbols. They changed the designation to BCE and CE. According to Wikipedia this has become popularize in the West by publishers wishing to emphasize secularism and/or sensitivity to non-Christians.”  Strange, no one seems to want to be sensitive to the Christians.

BCE stands for before common era and CE for common era.

As best I can tell the term common era means nothing. I can’t figure out what was not common about the time before the birth of Christ which His birth changed and turned things into a common time. His birth was the landmark date that changed the way people in the West believed in God. It was the Christians who began to mark their calendar from that date. To suggest it had something to do with commonness is to pretend otherwise.

At the Worcester Museum a few years back there was an exhibit using the CE and BCE dates. I asked a man who was responsible for the exhibit what the letters stood for. He said “Christian Era” and “before the Christian Era.” His answer to why BC and AD were not used was that it just wasn’t done anymore.

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Say it ain’t so: Suge Knight an FBI Informant?

Suge KnightHat tip to Dave:  You think keeping Whitey Bulger as an informant was evil; how about having Death Row Records co-founder Suge Knight as one. That’s what Lloyd “Ta-Ta” Lake is suggesting.

Suge Knight was before a Los Angeles judge on Friday. He was held on 25 million dollars bail. He allegedly fainted after hearing that amount. It’s hard to figure what he was expecting being charged with murder. But maybe like Stevie Flemmi who after being arrested wanted to speak to some FBI agents who he thought would help him out; so we have to wonder if Suge Knight was expecting the FBI to operate in the back ground as it likes to do and come into court like his white knight to put him back on the street. It was not so much the high amount of the bail that knocked him for a loop; it seems perhaps it was the shock that the FBI didn’t come through as it always had in the past if Llyod is right.

As you know much of what Whitey did especially in his line of murder was done in secret. It was not until John “You Can’t Rat-on-a-Rat” Martorano started spilling his guts that we learned of Whitey’s predilection for murder; but with Suge Knight the situation is totally different. He was out front and about in all of his criminal activities. If Lloyd is right then his handler was a mighty powerful figure and all the FBI on the West Coast must have been covering for him.

The prosecutor told the judge about preparing the 300 page document on sentencing: “when I wrote this, I was appalled . . . he basically is above the law.”  Sound familiar.

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Netanyahu’s True Colors:

netanyahusWhen times are tough people are forced to tell the truth. The little game Netanyahu has been playing over the years has come a cropper. The other day when he faced an election that seemed to destroy his Putin-like desire of leading his country for the rest of his life the true Netanyahu surfaced. It was an ugly display; yet even in its ugliness many want to say it isn’t the true Netanyahu. They want us to believe beneath the bulbous body is something different.

Netanyahu is 65, Putin is 62, both have lived during the same historical period. Each has dealt with American presidents and their State Departments that are delusional when it comes to understanding their countries. President Bush saw good in Putin and Netanyahu; President Obama sought a reset in relations with both as if we were wrong. They were unable to accept the duplicity of these men and pretended that though they were doing opposite of their words, their words and not their actions mattered. They’ve seen both men use their armed forces to invade neighboring countries. They experienced both are versed in the art of deny the naked and apparent truth and expecting others to if not believe them, at least not to call them out on their lies.

Netanyahu who has lusted for war with Iran came to America at the request of the Republican Party to speak to Congress urging such. His appearance prompted 47 U.S. Senators to write a letter contrary to our American custom to a foreign leader seeking to undermine our president. Netanyahu all along has been playing a duplicitous game saying one thing and doing another without paying any consequences for his treachery. Rather than that he’s feted and lionized by the Republicans and others in America’s Congress.

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March Madness and Other Sunday Thoughts

2015 01 02_1102For the first time that I can remember I have not watched one game of the March Madness tournament. It came up upon me suddenly even though one entity that runs the bracket picks kept emailing me to remind me I had yet to join in. I have to think my loss of interest in it was not sudden. For the past several years it has been diminishing. One reason I’m sure of is that the team I liked to follow Boston College has turned in a performance in basketball that is just awful over the past few years.

Another one is the one-and-out or two-and-through type of college basketball that has become the norm. The young kids play for a year or two and go off to join some professional team for big bucks. I can’t blame them; they have the talent and will have a long life so it’s best to try to ensure one won’t end up on the dole. Unfortunately they are surrounded by  a multitude of wolves willing to relieve them of their money and the end result is they are deprived of both money and education.

I’ve read that Kentucky is expected to win it all this year. It should. Its coach guarantees his players they won’t be bothered by any academic courses and they can continue their ignorance throughout their lives because they are such good athletes they can leave after a year or two but if things don’t work out in life for them they can always look back upon hoisting the trophy for Kentucky even though none has a relationship to Kentucky and never will have after they leave.

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Hernandez Evidence Lessons

Iphone pictures imported May 1, 2014 458Trials are conducted according to certain rules. One of the rules relates to what evidence can come before a fact finder who is either a judge or a jury. So I’ll talk about the rules as they relate to a jury. Although they are the same as the rules under which a judge operates it is presumed a judge who sits on a case knows the rules of evidence and if inadmissible evidence came in before him then he would not have considered it in making his ruling..

The rules relating to evidence are relatively simple for the most part. Any evidence to be heard by a jury by a jury must be relevant and material (which pretty much is the same thing) to the issue being tried and must be reliable or trustworthy. A person can testify as to what he knows from firsthand experience as for example what he saw happen; the person if not an expert cannot testify to a conclusion from his observations. A simple example is a witness cannot say a car was speeding down the road since that’s conclusory; the witness, if a driver, can estimate the speed of the car. It is up to the jury to decide if that amounted to speeding.

There are other rules that prevent the trial lawyer who presents the witness from testifying through the witness which is called asking leading questions. A lawyer can’t ask his witness “did you see Mr. Red using a .45 caliber pistol shoot Mr. Blue?” He can ask “what did you see Mr. Red do?”

It sounds relatively simple and it is. But lawyers being lawyer like to complicate simple matters. Have you tried to buy a house recently? When I bought my first house it involved about three or four pieces of paper, a deed, a note and a one or two page mortgage; now it amounts to many thousands of pages that do the same thing as the papers I used.

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A Mandatory Minimum Spat:

It’s reportedthat the Suffolk DA Dan Conley had a spat with the Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court Ralph Gants over the issue of mandatory minimum sentences.  I have to side with Conley and that’s not because our names sound the same; nor, because I was an assistant DA for so many years. I do so for the simple reason that the need for mandatory minimum sentences came about because the members of the legislature who make our laws looked at the way the judges were sentencing criminals and decided they were not doing their jobs properly.

Justice Gants who by the way was the one who cleared Billy Bulger of any criminal involvement in the 75 State Street matter when he worked as an assistant U.S. attorney when Jerry O’Sullivan was acting U.S. attorney is reported to have said: As long as prosecutors, rather than judges, hold the cards that determine sentences, we will not have individualized, evidence-based sentences.”

That is so wrong that I do not know where to begin. Let me start with what Conley is reported to have said:  “Prosecutors who are making decisions on what sentences to bring and what charges to bring has driven down crime to unprecedented levels. It’s part of prosecutors’ toolbox, and I don’t know how anyone can argue with it.” That is true that taking much of the sentencing decision out of the hands of the judges and leaving it in the hands of the DA, an elected official accountable to the public, is the way a system should function and how it has always functioned.

We have always had mandatory minimum sentences for murder. I don’t think that Justice Gants is proposing the judges be permitted to ignore them and come up with “individualized, evidence-based sentences.”  If not for murders, why should they be allowed to do it for other crimes?

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Something’s Rotten in the Aaron Hernandez Case?

justice criesI wrote recently about the prosecutors in Hernandez case appealing a couple of evidentiary rulings by Judge Garsh to the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC). Justice Cordy who heard the appeal upheld Garsh. He may not have agreed with her but he knew that he was not at the trial and that it is difficult at best to try to evaluate a judge’s rulings in a piece meal manner. He was aware that tradition teaches that trial judges have wide discretion when it comes to evidentiary rulings. He also knew that to do otherwise than to deny such an appeal would be opening the door to others who might not like a trial judge’s rulings on evidence during a trial. This would result in bringing the trial system to a halt if a lawyer during a trial could run up to SJC every time he felt aggrieved by an evidentiary ruling.

That’s why it has become custom for appeal courts not to decide anything relating to a trial until the trial is over and the record complete. It can then review what happened in the context of the whole trial. If error is made, it can remedy it at that time.

The only problem with that is if the Commonwealth loses, that is if the defendant is found not guilty, then the case ends. The Commonwealth has no right of appeal. That is why the Hernandez case prosecutors took the highly unusual step of appealing evidentiary rulings by Judge Garsh which seem to them to be throwing the case for Hernandez.

I can only imagine their frustration that caused them to do something totally out of precedent. They had to know they would receive short shrift at the SJC. They also had to know that if things continue like they are, that if Judge Garsh keeps preventing them from showing evidence that they believe leads to a conclusion of defendant Hernandez’s guilt which they were relying on to show the jury, then Hernandez will walk.

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The Gardner Heist and FBI Lies: Part 2

Gardner - at racesStephen Kurkjian has written a book on the heist. In an article he gave a run down on the matter.  His story seems to revolve, like the FBI’s, around the idea that some loosely connected Mafia types like Robert V. Gentile had something to do with it. The FBI was trying to squeeze Gentile in 2012 (22 years after the theft). Those agents had information from someone in prison looking for a deal that Gentile had something to do with the robbery. How is it the FBI always seems to be like Monte Hall forever making deals?

These agents couldn’t get it through their heads that had Gentile known about the theft he’d had given up the information rather than go to prison as would any of the East Coast gangsters. He kept saying he knew nothing. He even said he wished he did know something about it because his family could use the five million dollar reward.

Despite everything in the world pointing to his ignorance of the heist, the FBI kept pressing on. Strangely it was able to get a warrant to search Gentile’s house 22 years after the heist. I guess on the federal side they never heard of staleness. On the state side the Hernandez judge found six weeks was too long a time to assume the defendant kept possession of the .45 caliber pistol he professed to own.

Gardner VermeerThe FBI lie occurred two years ago when the FBI SAC in Boston Richard S. DesLauriers announced that they had a high degree of confidence they knew who did the heist. I wrote about this before. I noted at the time in 2013 that when DesLauriers was saying this that the FBI agent in charge of the investigation had no idea who was involved.

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The Garner Heist and FBI Lies: Part 1

Gardner VermeerToday, March 18, 2015, marks the 25th anniversary of the art theft at the Gardner Museum in Boston. Even though the FBI told us a couple of years ago it knew who did it in truth it had no clue. Its futile guess probably had the real culprits rolling in laughter if they are still with us.

The problem with the FBI investigation is it got off on the wrong track and has been chugging away on it until the present time. It figured the heist was carried out by local hoodlums. It started by looking at Whitey, Myles Connor, and other local guys including some associated with an auto repair shop in Dorchester. Those latter were involved in dealing drugs and hot cars but really had nothing to do with art work.

The first and most obvious clue the FBI missed in going after the usual suspects was that this was not a usual art museum robbery. I figured that out. There was also one person in the FBI who also did. Lynne Richardson, who manages the FBI’s National Stolen Art File, is reported to believe the Gardner theft as unique in modern American history, because it involved planning, disguises, and deception. She is quoted as saying: ”This is the way they rob museums in Europe, not the United States, ‘so (the paintings) could be right there or way across the ocean.” 

Gardner - RembrandtThe selection of items stolen pointed to an involvement of someone with a certain sophistication in art as well as the suggestion that most of the stolen items were picked out prior to the theft.  13 pieces were stolen from three different areas. In the blue room on the first floor a small painting, Edouard Manet’s Chez Tortoni which was in a room among many others.

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