Wednesday, June 11, 2008

CA - 9th Circuit Chief Judge Posted Sexually Explicit Materials Online

View the article here | Another Article Here

06/12/2008

Updated: The chief judge of the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, who is currently presiding over a high-profile obscenity trial in Los Angeles, has reportedly posted sexually explicit images on a personal website.

Judge Alex Kozinski, 57, acknowledged in a Tuesday-evening interview with the Los Angeles Times that he had posted images and videos including "a photo of naked women on all fours painted to look like cows and a video of a half-dressed man cavorting with a sexually aroused farm animal. Some of the material was inappropriate, he conceded, although he defended other sexually explicit content as 'funny.' " Other images on the site earlier this week reportedly included masturbation, public sex and a step-by-step pictorial of a woman shaving her pubic hair.

However, Kozinski said he hadn't realized the website could be accessed by the public, the newspaper writes, and he blocked the site from the public after his interview with the Times yesterday. The judge also said he hadn't used court computers in connection with the site and that he had uploaded some of the images accidentally and intended to delete them.

Responding to an ABAJournal.com request for comment, Cathy Catterson, the circuit and court of appeals executive for the 9th Circuit, provided the following statement:

"With regard to the article in today's Los Angeles Times, the computer server is maintained by one of the judge's sons. It is not government property. All family members use it. Pictures, documents, other items of personal and family interest are stored on it. After the story broke, one of the judge's sons contacted him to say he had uploaded much of the items referenced in the story. The server and its contents are a private matter. It was not meant to be accessible by others and the judge had no idea it was. Had he known, he would have been more careful of its contents."

Although the Times apparently was able to access the site, http://alex.kozinski.com, "only those who knew to type in the name of a subdirectory could see the content on the site," the newspaper writes, "which also included some of Kozinski's essays and legal writings as well as music files and personal photos."

As part of a standard rotation among federal appellate judges in the 9th Circuit, who occasionally hear federal district court cases, Kozinski was randomly assigned to preside over the ongoing obscenity trial of Ira Isaacs.

Asked by the Times whether the news of his own postings should require him to step down from hearing the Isaacs trial, Kozinski declined to comment.

However, the judge should recuse himself, law professor Stephen Gillers of New York University tells the newspaper, because "the public can reasonably question his objectivity" concerning the obscenity case.

An Associated Press article says Kozinski told trial attorneys in the Isaacs case, without the jury present, that he had no comment on the merits of the Times story but would consider any recusal motion they might make. "I'm very sorry I didn't know about this before the jury was sworn," the judge reportedly told the lawyers.

Attorney Roger Jon Diamond, who represents Isaacs, told Kozinski he opposes removing him from the case. Prosecutor Kenneth Whitted said the government will consider its options and provide its position on the recusal question tomorrow.


GA - Chief: Child porn allegations against cop were covered up

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06/11/2008

Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington announced Wednesday that he is disciplining three employees, including the internal affairs commander, for their roles in covering up a sex crimes investigation involving one of their spouses.

Pennington said the employees could be fired, and that the highest-ranking officer, Maj. Cerelyn "C.J." Davis, has already been demoted to lieutenant and removed from her post as commander of the Office of Professional Standards.

The other employees are Sgt. Tonya Crane and senior crime analyst Randolph Ory. Crane is married to Terrill Marion "T.C." Crane, who was indicted in November 2007 on federal charges of producing child pornography involving him and young girls. Ory is a close friend and former roommate of T.C. Crane.

"These allegations were disturbing in nature and a serious concern for the Atlanta Police Department," Pennington said. "Any behavior associated with these alleged acts will not be tolerated, and I will act swiftly to enforce the law, even amongst our own."

Crane has been on administrative leave since her husband's arrest. The two others are still working; Davis has been assigned to the Communications Section, which includes 911 dispatchers. Their discipline could come in the next 10 days, after an administrative hearing, Pennington said.

Pennington said he asked the city's Law Department to investigate how some of his officers mishandled the investigation into T.C. Crane. The Office of Professional Standards normally would handle allegations involving police officers, but its commander, Davis, has been implicated.

The probe began in January, and city investigators interviewed more than 30 current and former police officers.

Davis, while a lieutenant in charge of the Intelligence Unit, ordered two detectives in 2004 to stop looking into Crane's alleged crimes, according to documents in the investigative report.

One of the detectives, Bobby Render, told city investigators that, when he asked Davis how to proceed with the Crane case, she told him to "cut it" and "made a hand gesture in front of her neck," documents show.

Davis denied doing so, but failed a lie-detector test, which she tried to foil by clenching her teeth — an attempt to alter her measurable vocal output, according to police records.

This isn't Davis' first disciplinary issue. A 22-year veteran, she and dozens of other officers got in trouble for their roles escorting celebrities through Atlanta traffic during the 2003 NBA All-Star Game, when they were supposed to be on regular duty.

Pennington promoted her to major in February 2006.

Crane will be disciplined for destroying several photographs of her husband when she was tipped off to the investigation by an unidentified Atlanta police employee in 2003, according to documents.

A lie detector exam indicated that she was lying when she claimed to not have taken photographs of her husband having sex with juvenile girls, the police reports show. In some of the photos, girls were holding an Atlanta police-issued handgun and what appeared to be an Atlanta police hat.

Crane also had to take a drug test because the FBI found a small bag of marijuana in a vase in the couple's home. She passed.

Ory, a 23-year civilian employee, has been friends with T.C. Crane since 1985. He admitted to police that he allowed Crane to bring a girl to his home, where Crane had sex with her, and once went on a road trip during which Crane had sex with two girls. When Crane was arrested, Ory turned over a box of sexually explicit photos allegedly of Crane and young girls.


NC - 'Jessica's Law' passes NC Senate

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06/11/2008

A bill requiring mandatory sentences for people who commit some sex crimes against children is one step closer to passing the North Carolina General Assembly.

The Senate approved the measure unanimously Wednesday. It creates new crimes against someone who commits rape or other sexual offenses against a child under 13.

The judge would be required to sentence the criminal to 25 years or life in prison without parole. Released offenders would have to be electronically monitored for life.

The legislation is named for Jessica Lunsford, a former Gaston County resident who was kidnapped, raped and buried alive by a convicted sex offender in Florida in 2005.

The bill now returns to the House, which approved a version last year and must decide whether to accept the Senate's changes.


Sex offender law challenges grow

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This is the first I've heard about FEDERAL challenges, see the last paragraph with links.

06/12/2008

The creation of complex sex offender registration systems and increasingly stringent limits on where offenders may live has spawned hundreds of legal challenges in state and federal courts throughout the nation.

The actions range from how long electronic tracking devices must be worn to whether juvenile records must be part of public registrations.

Challenges to the new laws—often hastily passed in the wake of a brutal crime—generally center on battles over who must comply, making retroactivity and prospective treatment crucial.

Takings claims under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution also weigh heavily when a sex offender is forced from a long-time home by newly imposed bans on living near playgrounds or video arcades.

So far, 20 states have laws restricting where sex offenders can live, and hundreds of cities have their own limits, according to Wayne Logan, a criminal law professor at Florida State University College of Law in Tallahassee.

The most common laws banish offenders from zones within 2,000 feet of schools and parks.

The Georgia Supreme Court recently struck down a residency restriction on Fifth Amendment grounds, but upheld a portion that barred sex offenders from working in the restricted zones, Logan said. Mann v. Georgia Dept. of Corrections (Summary of opinions), 282 Ga. 754 (2007).

The California Supreme Court must choose from a raft of theories on how to apply a 2006 voter-approved residency law prospectively. So far, the plaintiffs, the state attorney general, local district attorneys, the governor and state prison officials have all weighed in with different positions. In re E.J. habeas corpus, No. S156933 (Calif.).

Ohio's legal meltdown

But it is Ohio that finds itself in the midst of a legal meltdown because of a shift in sex offender registration law. Ohio rushed to switch from a long-standing state offender registration program to the 2006 federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act registration system.

More than 26,000 people, including juveniles, were reclassified as sex offenders and ordered to register for a public list for up to 25 years. This spawned a federal class action challenge over timing of public notification, and a limited restraining order issued in Doe v. Dann, No. 8-cv-220PAG (N.D. Ohio). Also, thousands of individual state challenges to reclassifications are pending.

Many of those reclassified are indigent or in prison. Local counties won't pick up the tab for lawyers in what is considered a civil dispute, said Jay Macke, who leads the efforts for the Ohio Public Defenders Office.

On May 9, a Cuyahoga County judge found that the Adam Walsh Act's retroactive reclassification violated both the Ohio Constitution's retroactivity clause and ex post facto protections. Evans v. Ohio, No. cv-08-646797. Several other appeals are pending, but ultimately the issue will go to the Ohio Supreme Court, the judge said.

The Adam Walsh Act, among other things, creates a national sex offender registry. It also restricts where an offender may live and allows civil psychiatric commitment of offenders.
- No it doesn't restrict where an offender may live, clearly this person doesn't know what they are talking about. Click the link above to view the actual bill.

The act also compels states to enact similar laws by mid-2009 or face loss of federal law enforcement funds. For states that quickly adopt the law, there is promise of a 10 percent bonus on federal funds.

The financial incentives amount to an “imaginary carrot and an imaginary stick,” Macke said. Ohio received no reward for acting early, and now it appears that the money will be slashed from the budget anyway, he said.

Most courts have permitted laws restricting where sex offenders may live, according to Corey Yung, an assistant professor of criminal law at The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, who has written extensively on sex offender law. Battles now center on whom they apply to and under what conditions.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals approved residency restriction laws in Arkansas and Iowa, but the Iowa law was so onerous that most sex offenders were forced to live in cars, cemeteries or abandoned houses. Once homeless, they stopped registering. This prompted the Iowa County Attorneys Association and Iowa sheriffs in 2007 to petition the legislature to repeal the law as “counterproductive.” The legislature refused.

“Legislators did such a good job of selling the idea that the restrictions on residency was a safety measure, people have the false idea it provides safety and politicians fear going against that,” said Corwin Ritchie, of the Iowa County Attorneys Association.

Florida had 60 cities in one year adopt restrictions and in 2005 some banned sex offenders from public hurricane shelters, forcing them to go to local prisons during storms.

A lot of these people are becoming homeless—it is becoming a real problem where they can live,” said Ronald Chapman, a criminal defense lawyer of West Palm Beach, Fla.'s Chapman Law Firm. Registration now includes putting the sex law violation on the driver's license.

California's voter-approved law also has conflicts with a sweeping legislative reform of sex offender residence limits that the state Supreme Court will have to sort out.

The voters' version, Proposition 83, bars sex criminals from living within 2,000 feet of a park or school, and offenders who complete prison terms must also wear global positioning devices for the rest of their lives.

In two federal court challenges to the same state initiative, one held the California residence restrictions could not be applied to a prisoner released before the law's passage. Doe v. Schwarzenegger, No. C06-2521LKK (E.D. Calif.). The other held that it did not apply to a sex offender who served 12 years' probation before the act's adoption. Doe v. Schwarzenegger, No. C06-6968JSW (N.D. Calif.).

But those federal rulings are not binding on the state court, said Janet Neeley, deputy attorney general in charge of the sex offender registry in California.

“Nothing is cleared up,” she said. “There are no California cases published on the point, and we don't even know who the law applies to,” she said. So far the law has not been enforced because of the questions about who is covered under the “prospective” application. The initiative also failed to create a misdemeanor crime for violation, Neeley said. “There is no way to punish anyone, unless they are violating parole or probation.”

And the Adam Walsh Act faces federal constitutional challenges. Two federal circuit courts, the 4th Circuit and the 11th Circuit, are now considering whether Congress violated the Constitution's commerce clause in passing the Adam Walsh Act because challengers allege it has no nexus with interstate commerce. U.S. v. Comstock, No. 06-hc-2195BR, and U.S. v. Powers, 07-cr-221KRS.


TN - Second man indicted on inmate sex charges

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06/11/2008

A man who was fired from the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office in May has been criminally charged with sexual contact with an inmate.

Santiago Alcantara, 37, who gave a 245 Raintree Drive address, was booked Monday into the Montgomery County Jail and charged with sexual contact with an inmate. His bond was set at $10,000, and he bonded out the same day.

According to a one-count indictment handed down in the June term of the grand jury, Alcantara had sexual contact with a female inmate on April 28.

Following an investigation, he was fired from the Sheriff's Office after reports he had sexual contact with an inmate, officials said. Alcantara was the first person fired from the Sheriff's Office in the past month for those reasons. He is the second one to be indicted on the charges.

Kevin Vance, 30, a former sheriff's employee, was indicted last week by the grand jury. Having sexual contact with an inmate is a Class E felony and carries a one- to six-year sentence, according to Tennessee Law.


WA - Sex offender registration laws have become a back door to extending prison terms

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06/11/2008

Rapist won't be sent back to live under bridge

After completing a 90-day state sentence, he faces new charges of failing to register as a sex offender.

SNOHOMISH -- The high-risk sex offender who was ordered to sleep under a bridge in Snohomish before he fled the state likely will have a place for stay for some time: behind bars.

David J. Torrence is in Shelton at a state prison serving out a 90-day sentence for violating parole conditions, officials said Tuesday.

When he completes his sentence next month, he'll be headed back to Snohomish County.

State Department of Corrections officials say Torrence will go directly to the county jail to answer a new charge of failing to register as a sex offender.

If a judge lowers the $100,000 bail or if Torrence, 44, is able to post bond, there's one place he won't be going.

"It definitely won't be that bridge," said Chad Lewis, a corrections department spokesman.

In April, Torrence was released from prison with no place to stay. He was ordered to sleep under a bridge along U.S. 2 at the east side of Snohomish. He triggered a nationwide manhunt after he cut off a GPS tracking device and disappeared.

On May 2, Torrence was charged in Snohomish County Superior Court with failure to register as a sex offender, a felony. If convicted, he could face another two years in prison.

"I hope the new charges bring some new time for him. I think he deserves it," said Sabrina, the woman Torrence was convicted in 1995 of raping. She asked that her last name not be used.

"I would like the harshest sentence possible," she said.

She said she would prefer that the man not return to Snoho­mish County. State law requires that sex offenders be returned to the county where the offense occurred, although there are some exceptions.

The case highlights how sex offender registration laws have become a back door to extending prison terms, said John LaFond, a retired law professor in Tacoma and author of "Preventing Sexual Violence, How Society Should Cope with Sex Offenders."

"This guy could be dangerous, but registration isn't going to make anyone safe," he said.

Research studies don't indicate a clear connection between registration and a decrease in recidivism, LaFond said.

Because he is homeless, unemployed and a flight risk, Torrence likely will stay in the county jail until he stands trial on the new charge.

Once he is released, state officials said they have a new plan to keep an eye on him. Lewis said he'll be supervised by officials in Everett, be outfitted with a GPS tracking device and be given geographic restrictions prohibiting him from going near the woman he's accused of raping. Case workers already are looking for a place for him to stay, off the streets, Lewis said.

"Hopefully they keep closer tabs on him," Sabrina said.

LaFond said a better way to manage sex offenders such as Torrence is to evaluate their risk of recommitting sex crimes. Close supervision, lie detector tests and therapy groups may be more effective than requiring people to register with police, he said.

"The key issue here is, is he sexually dangerous?" LaFond said. "Failure to register doesn't tell us very much."

In 1995, Torrence pleaded guilty to second-degree rape. He was accused of grabbing a 16-year-old Snohomish County girl off Fifth Avenue near Casino Road. He threatened to shoot her and then sexually assaulted her, according to court records.

Torrence was sentenced to more than seven years in prison. Since completing that sentence, he's been arrested several more times and has received multiple convictions for failure to register as a sex offender.
- Several more times for what? Why not tell people? Instead you leave it open for people to assume it was other sex crimes, which I'm willing to bet it wasn't. He committed one crime and did his time, so he should be free to live and do whatever he wants, and if he commits another crime, then he gets locked up for a much longer time.

On April 20, Torrence completed a year's sentence for failing to check in with police. State corrections officials were unable to find a place for him to stay. Homeless shelters and hotels refused him and he told officials he wasn't interested in staying with relatives.

Officials said they had no choice but to order Torrence to sleep under a bridge. It turned out the bridge was about 5 miles from the home of the woman Torrence raped.

Three days after being released, Torrence allegedly cut off a GPS tracking device and ran.

A few weeks later, on May 9, Torrence turned himself in to authorities in Arkansas. Officials believe he went there to hide at his mother's home.

By the end of May, he was back behind bars in Washington.

On Monday, Torrence was found guilty in a corrections hearing of escaping from community custody, leaving the state, destruction of state property, failing to register as a sex offender with the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office and failing to comply with curfew requirements, Lewis said.

The state ordered Torrence to serve an additional 90 days, the maximum sentence allowed for breaking the conditions of his release. The term is retroactive to when he surrendered to authorities in early May.

For all the fear and headaches Torrence caused by escaping, the sentence hardly seems to fit, Sabrina said.

"It's a joke, I think," she said.

Reporter Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437 or jholtz@heraldnet.com.


CA - Bee employee pleads no contest to possession of child pornography charges

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Notice this man was NOT a sex offender! Now, simply because he was not on duty and not filming above the waist, he's now a sex offender.. THIS WORLD HAS GONE TOTALLY MAD!!!! Think about this the next time you are at a beach, sporting event or other outing!!!

06/10/2008

WOODLAND -- A Sacramento Bee employee pleaded no contest Tuesday to possession of child pornography and invasion of privacy.

Gilbert Chan, a veteran business reporter, was caught by University of California, Davis, police on Feb. 3 while surreptitiously videotaping a youth cheerleading competition on campus, Deputy District Rob Gorman told a judge in Yolo Superior Court. Chan was not on duty at the time of the incident, and remains on administrative leave from the paper.

Under an agreement with prosecutors, Chan pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of invasion of privacy. Under a no-contest plea, a defendant does not admit guilt, but the effect is substantively the same. He also pleaded no contest to a felony charge of possession of child pornography. The tape focused on the buttocks and other parts of clothed cheerleaders. The cheerleaders were under 18.
- So now, when you are at the beach or something, you better film above the waste!!!! Now, watch all the news organizations reporting sporting events, see what they film. Also Fox news and the others. See if they get slammed for possession of child porn!!!!

The felony charge will be dropped if Chan completes probation on the misdemeanor count, Gorman said. One of the requirements is that Chan stay away from events where cheerleaders perform, the prosecutor said.

Under the agreement, Chan does not have to register as a sex offender unless he fails to complete probation. If Chan fails to complete probation, the felony plea will be entered and Chan will be required to register as a sex offender for life, Gorman said.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 25.


OK - Nursing Home for Sex Offenders

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Read what eAdvocate says about this, here. Also see this document (PDF), and this one (PDF). Keep an eye on the eAdvocate item above, more coming soon. This is nothing but a concentration camp he is proposing and signed into law!! HEIL HITLER!!!

06/10/2008

It's an emotional day for Wes Bledsoe.

He says, "This is the greatest day of my life."

It's been his crusade for eight years. Tuesday morning, Governor Brad Henry (Contact) signed House Bill 2704 into law.

Governor Henry says, "The primary thing that it does is to facilitate the building of a long term care facility. It's specifically designed for sex offenders."

KSBI-TV has been following this story. We showed you the wealth of documentation Bledsoe compiled. He claims to have uncovered almost 60 murders, rapes and assaults committed by sex offenders while living in long-term care facilities.

"Today, Oklahoma is obeying God's word and standing for those who can no longer protect themselves," says Bledsoe.
- And yet you are excluding sex offenders. I don't think so. You are using God's word in your own personal way, and that is not good.

It's meant to help those such as 36-year-old Chelsea Goss of Norman. At one time, she was living in a nursing home with a sex offender.

Deb DeWitt, Chelsea's mother, says, "The sex offender was an employee rather than a resident, in this particular instance. It's terrifying."

But now Chelsea and other Oklahomans should soon be better protected.

"We're going to represent so many things to every other state and hopefully, they'll follow," says DeWitt.

It's Bledsoe's hope as well that this will have an impact across the nation.

"This is the first step of many steps we need to take down that path," says Bledsoe. "Today, we celebrate and tomorrow we go back to work."

Officials say right now there are between 30 and 60 sex offenders living in nursing homes.

As for that long term care facility for sex offenders, no word yet on when it will be built.


PA - Sex offender rules' efficacy questioned

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06/11/2008

Critics say residency restrictions don't prevent future offenses. Easton officials to vote today.

EASTON - It makes perfect sense. Who wants a registered sex offender living anywhere near an elementary school?

"It seems to be a no-brainer: 'Let's have these offenders not live close to kids,'" said Diane Moyer with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape. "It's just not that easy."

As city council considers an ordinance prohibiting where registered sex offenders and predators can live, victim advocates and even a group of prosecuting attorneys argue residency restrictions do little but prevent offenders from getting the help they desperately need.

City council will meet 6 tonight to vote on prohibiting sex offenders and predators from living within 1,000 feet of any school, park, playground, church or child care facility.

Moyer, who is also a member of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, said she can empathize with a community looking to do whatever it can to protect its children. Probation officials certainly wouldn't want a recently paroled sex offender living next door to a day care, she said.

But as residency restrictions become more prevalent, offenders will find themselves living in more rural areas with less law enforcement, fewer treatment resources and the isolation that increases the chances of recidivism, Moyer said.

"You want to make their lives as manageable and accountable as possible," she said.

Keeping tabs on offenders

Several victim advocates, including Moyer, recount stories of paroled sex offenders in Florida, which has a statewide residency prohibition, moving to a bridge underpass because of limited housing options.

"What you most don't want to do is to have a recently released sex offender associating with other offenders," Moyer said. "It just seems to fly in the face of what we know about sex offenders."

City council tabled the proposal two weeks ago to allow for further research. Councilman Ken Brown, the bill's sponsor, said he plans to bring the measure back for a vote after changing the distance from 2,500 feet to 1,000 feet.

The proposal remains otherwise unchanged. When asked about concerns raised by advocacy groups, Brown said no measure would be "100 percent bulletproof," but it would serve a purpose if it prevents even one offender from preying on a child.
- Oh give me a break... All this for ONE offender? These laws won't and aren't working, and the grandstanding has to stop. Use you damn brains people!!! Listen to the experts who have a lot more experience than any politicians who sits in his "holier than thou" office all day, passing insane and stupid laws, so they look better to the public, instead of doing something that works!!! Well, that is typical politics!!


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