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Archive for January 27th, 2017

Weekend Series on Crime History: FDR Gives FBI’s J. Edgar The Green Light

Parker: Supreme Court Strengthens Qualified Immunity for Law Enforcement Officers’ Use of Deadly Force

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office. He is the author of the book “Carving Out the Rule of Law: The History of the United States Attorney’s Office in Eastern Michigan 1815–2008″.

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

It was a tough year for law enforcement officers. Line of duty deaths, especially intentional killings of police, were up dramatically. Several categories of violent crime, including homicides, rose significantly after two decades of steady decline in crime statistics. Recruitment of new officers is becoming difficult, and officers confronting deadly situations are justifiably wary about the public (and media) second-guessing life or death decisions that had to be made under pressure within seconds.

Heather MacDonald, in her recent book The War On Cops, blames these developments on an anti-law enforcement movement led by groups like Black Lives Matter, accentuated by media attention, and facilitated by the policies of the Obama Administration. Whether you buy all of her conclusions, she does make a persuasive case that the current atmosphere in some segments of the public about law enforcement has resulted in officers being less aggressive in discretionary policing and that is a factor in a new crime wave, especially in the nation’s cities.

Into this troubling and dangerous situation, a potential boost in law enforcement confidence came this month from an unlikely source, a per curiam opinion by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Per curiam (Latin: by the Court) decisions are judgments by appellate courts as a whole in which no particular judge or Justice is identified as the author. In the Supreme Court per curiam opinions are almost always unanimous and usually represent brief rulings on non-controversial subjects. They tend to be short. They seldom set an important precedent or alter the rule of law.

But there are exceptions. In 1972 the per curiam opinion by the Court in Furman v. Georgia turned capital punishment upside down when it struck down every death penalty law and practice in the country as arbitrary and capricious under the 8th Amendment. It took four years for the states to re-institute death penalty statutes and, in many ways, the case began to diminish the role of the supreme penalty which continues to this day.

Bush v. Gore

In Bush v. Gore (2000) the Court issued a per curiam opinion in one of the most controversial cases in the Court’s history. The Court upheld the razor-thin Florida vote which gave the presidency to George Bush by a single electoral vote over Al Gore. The 5-4 vote followed party lines with the Republican appointed Justices in the majority, but the ruling was brief and unauthored.  Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz called it the “single most corrupt decision in Supreme Court history,” but others thought it was a profile in courage which preserved the republic.

new_mexico_state_police

Earlier this month the Court decided another per curiam opinion which has gotten much less attention but which could have profound implications, especially to law enforcement officers on the front line. White v. Pauly was an appeal from a civil ruling by a federal district court against New Mexico State Police Officer Ray White, who had shot and killed Samuel Pauley in a police confrontation outside of Santa Fe.

Witnesses had called 911 to report Pauley as a drunk driver. Two police officers went to his residence where he lived with his brother Daniel Pauly in a secluded area to talk with Pauly. They ordered him to open the door.  It was asserted in the complaint that the brothers had not heard the officers identify themselves. The Paulys got their firearms.

A few minutes after the initial confrontation, Officer White arrived at the scene outside of the Pauly residence. The Paulys yelled that they had guns and Daniel fired two shotgun blasts outside the back door. Samuel stuck his handgun outside a window in the front of the house and pointed it in the officers’ direction. All three of the officers took cover, White behind a stone wall. One of the initial two officers fired his gun at Pauly and missed. Officer White fired and killed Samuel Pauly.

Read more »

Insane Clown Posse, Fans to Protest Group’s FBI Label As a Gang

Insane Clown Posse

Insane Clown Posse

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The rap duo Insane Clown Posse and their fans plan to protest the group’s FBI classification as a gang in Washington D.C. in September.

“As many of you are no doubt personally aware, the FBI’s inclusion of Juggalos as a ‘gang’ has resulted in hundreds if not thousands of people subjected to various forms of discrimination, harassment, and profiling simply for identifying as a Juggalo,” the group wrote in an online manifesto, the New York Daily News reports.

“Over the past five years, our legal team has heard testimonies and reports from Juggalos all over the nation who have lost custody of their children, been fired from jobs, denied access into the armed forces, and the most common consequence — being officially labeled as a gang member by law enforcement agencies for wearing Juggalo related clothing or brandishing one or more Juggalo tattoos.”

The FBI classified the group’s fans as a “loosely organized hybrid gang” in 2011.

“Juggalos utilize the symbol of a man running with hatchet, called the ‘Hatchetman,’ have their own hand signs, slang, an anthem, and a pledge of allegiance to the ICP and their ideas,” the report read. “The Juggalos follow the groups teachings which are imbedded in their lyrics, movies, album covers and websites.”

Seattle Councilwoman Wants FBI, ATF Cameras Removed Because of Trump

Portland Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, via Wikipedia.

Portland Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, via Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Seattle councilwoman wants the FBI and ATF to remove cameras on city utility poles because of concerns with the Trump administration.

“I think it is totally unacceptable for the city of Seattle to be complicit in federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies surveilling Seattle’s public spaces,” Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant said, reports Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “As a sanctuary city, we should not be filming our general population and we certainly should not be sending that data to law enforcement agencies now being run by the Trump administration.”

The comments come after a U.S. District Court judge ruled last week that the city has no authority to release information about the cameras through public records requests.

Sewant is backing a proposal to require a warrant or council approval to erect cameras on the city’s utility poles.

Border Patrol Chief Steps Down After Trump Reveals Wall Plan

Border Patrol chief, Mark Morgan

Border Patrol chief, Mark Morgan

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Border Patrol chief stepped down Thursday after President Trump signed executive orders increasing border security.

It remains unclear whether Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan resigned voluntarily or under pressure, CNN reports. 

Morgan’s departure comes at a tense time as Trump looks to build a wall and increase boots on the ground near the border.

CBP Acting-Commissioner Kevin McAleenan thanked Morgan for his service in a written statement.

“I want to thank Mark Morgan for his unwavering dedication to our border security mission, and recognize his life-long career in service to the nation,” McAleenan said. “Mark Morgan’s career spans more than 31 years of faithful service to the nation, including service in the U.S. Marine Corps, as a local deputy sheriff and police officer, 20 years in the FBI, as Assistant Commissioner of CBP’s Office of Internal Affairs, and, finally, as Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol. I wish him every success in the future.”

Trump’s executive orders involving border protection must still be approved by Congress because of funding needs.

Austin Murder Suspect Arrested on Charges of 1983 Murder

Robert Francis Van Wisse

Robert Francis Van Wisse

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

More than 20 years after he was charged with murdering University of Texas student Laurie Stout in 1983, Robert Francis Van Wisse surrendered to officials at the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday.

Wise was added to the FBI’s Most Wanted list in December.

“If he committed a brutal murder like this in 1983, he is very, very able to commit a murder again,” FBI Special Agent Christopher Combs said when the agency put him on the list last month, with a $100,000 reward, UPI reports

Stout was a 22-year-old mother and late-night janitor who was sexually assaulted and then killed in a men’s restroom at an office building in Austin.

Van Wisse wasn’t charged until 1996 because of “outdated methods of DNA analysis and mismanaged records.”

Van Wisse is in custody at the Travis County Jail in Texas.

Border Patrol Agent Assaulted, Nearly Stabbed by Undocumented Immigrant

border patrol helicopterBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An undocumented immigrant assaulted and nearly stabbed a Border Patrol agent near Tucson on Tuesday night.

The attack happened as the Border and Air and Marine Operations were responding to a report of roughly 10 migrants walking in the desert, the Arizona Republic reports.

Using a helicopter as a guide, agents located the group.

When an agent tried to stop a fleeing migrant, he was nearly stabbed when the man pulled out a knife. The agent’s handheld radio was stabbed, potentially saving him.

The co-pilot of a helicopter helped subdue and arrest the man.

The agent wasn’t seriously injured.

Other Stories of Interest