Saturday, July 5, 2008

VT - A New Call for Jessica's Law in Vermont

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More knee-jerk reactions from the politicians. This man is a murderer who happens to be a sex offender. Not all sex offenders are like this idiot or John Couey, so STOP TREATING THEM AS IF THEY ALL ARE THE SAME!! It's idiots like this who tick me off, they make every RSO's lives hell!!


Brook Bennett's murder has brought back calls for a tougher law against adults who sexually prey on children. More than thirty states -- but not Vermont -- have enacted Jessica's law, setting a 25-year minimum prison sentence for convicted child sex offenders.

The investigation that led to the discovery of Brook Bennett's body did not end this case. State and federal law enforcement officials say there may be additional arrests as the investigation points to an Internet pornography connection. And there's also political fallout. Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie (Contact) (R-Vermont) is calling for enactment of Jessica's Law.

"When a person is sexually assaulted, a minor is sexually assaulted, it's my opinion that they should go to jail for 25 years," Dubie told Channel 3. "That's very simple and that's what Jessica's Law calls for. I'm also asking that we reconsider what the governor proposed last legislative session, and that's civil confinement."

The legislature rejected a proposal by Gov. Jim Douglas (Contact) (R-Vermont) for civil confinement, under which prisoners who fail to complete sex offender treatment can be held past the end of their sentences. House Judiciary committee chairman Bill Lippert (D-Hinesburg) opposed both proposals -- and both died. The Douglas administration says it received an unprecedented number of letters asking for tougher sentencing for child sex offenders following the high profile Mark Hulett case two years ago.

But Attorney General Bill Sorrell (Contact) (D-Vt) says although a 25-year mandatory minimum sounds good, it could actually hurt some sex offender prosecutions. "You can pass a law that says a 25-year minimum if you get convicted of child sexual assault," he said. "That'll mean more trials, more victims that go through trials, and probably result in less convictions because the iffy cases we have right now, where we've got problems, we usually bargain them down."

Dubie and Sorrell disagree on the need for Jessica's Law, but on one point they both agree -- that after the case of Brooke Bennett's death is fully resolved, it will be time for Vermont to conduct a comprehensive review of how the state deals with sex offenders.
- Well for one, stop treating all sex offenders as if they are sick murderers like this man is. Start reading the FACTS on recidivism and listening to the experts. If you were REALLY about justice, then you would do this.

Mad As Hell

So when are all the RSO's in this country going to get MAD AS HELL and fight back? We must fight these unconstitutional laws, not just for us, but for all the other sheeple who sit back and live in their fantasy worlds, while their rights are being eradicated as well. If we all sit back and do nothing, eventually they will come for you and your rights, but it will be too late then! So WAKE UP and act now, before they come for you!

Also see this video

Is it time, time for a new substantive challenge?

Read the article here


Is it time?

Has enough happened to RSOs and their families as the result of sex offender registries to warrant a new challenge on substantive grounds.

If we were to make a list of everything that is happening, nationally, would that be enough to sway the U.S. Supreme court to declare, if not unconstitutional, at least to stop or limit the collateral effects of sex offender registries?

What makes me think it is even possible?

Two cases went to the U.S. Supreme court:


SMITH V. DOE (01-729) 538 U.S. 84 (2003)

Quotes from the Connecticut case:

Justice Souter, with whom Justice Ginsburg joins, concurring.
I join the Court’s opinion and agree with the observation that today’s holding does not foreclose a claim that Connecticut’s dissemination of registry information is actionable on a substantive due process principle. To the extent that libel might be at least a component of such a claim, our reference to Connecticut’s disclaimer, ante, at 3, would not stand in the way of a substantive due process plaintiff. I write separately only to note that a substantive due process claim may not be the only one still open to a test by those in the respondents’ situation.

LA - DOJ sends “regrets” on omitted cite

View the article here | SCOTUSwiki Case Info


The Justice Department has notified the Supreme Court that a legal development on the death penalty in federal law was left out of the Court’s consideration of Kennedy v. Louisiana (07-343). In that decision, on June 25, the Court ruled 5-4 that it is unconstitutional to impose the death penalty for the crime of raping a child.

That opinion basically had two parts. In the first, the Court made a survey of trends in state legislatures, in Congress, and in the courts, leading the Court to conclude that there is a national consensus of opinion against capital punishment for child rape. In the second part, the Court, exercising its own “independent judgment,” concluded that that punishment would not be proportional for that crime.

It appears that the Justice Department message to the Court had to do only with the first part of that calculation — the survey of laws and official actions. Even though the United States government was not a party in the case, and did not join in as an amicus, the Department accepted responsibility for the omission of a citation to a 2006 act of Congress that provided a death sentence for rape of a child, when the prosecution occurred in the military criminal justice system.

The Department statement on Wednesday said: “We regret that the Department didn’t catch the 2006 law when the case of Kennedy v. Louisiana was briefed. It’s true that the parties to the case missed it, but it’s our responsibility. Yesterday, shortly after hearing of the [2006] law, we advised the Clerk’s office at the Supreme Court.”

The notice to the Court Clerk was by telephone, not by a formal filing, according to Justice Department spokesman Erik Ablin. The statement went on to say that “Only parties to a case may petition for rehearing. If a petition for rehearing is filed, the Department will review the petition and consider what steps are appropriate, including possibly seeking leave of the Court to provide our views on the petition for rehearing.”

The statement concluded: “Although no one has been sentenced to death for child rape under the law, we note with regard to the continued constitutionality of the law that the Supreme Court has not resolved the question of whether its Eighth Amendment jurisprudence applies with equal force in the context of military capital punishment. Cf. Loving v. United States, 517 U.S. 748, 755 (1996).”

In Justice Kennedy’s opinion for the Court in the Louisiana case last month, he wrote in the survey section that “as for federal law, Congress in the Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994 expanded the number of federal crimes for which the death penalty is a permissible sentence, including certain nonhomicide offenses; but it did not do the same for child rape or abuse. See 108 Stat. 1972 (codified as amended in scattered sections of 18 USC). Under 18 USC 2245, an offender is death eligible only when the sexual abuse or exploitation results in the victim’s death.”

Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., who wrote for the four dissenters, challenged the significance of the majority’s conclusion that the absence of such a sentence in federal law. Alito wrote that, “due to the territorial limits of the relevant federal statutes, very few rape cases, not to mention child-rape cases, are prosecuted in federal court…Congress’ failure to enact a death penalty statute for this tiny set of cases is hardly evidence of Congress’ assessment of our society;s values.”

The Justice Department statement seems to indicate — as is commonly assumed — that the Court would not alter its decision in Kennedy v. Louisiana unless it first received and then granted a rehearing petition. To grant such a rehearing, one of the Justices in the majority must switch sides and there must then be a majority to reexamine the ruling.

Louisisna officials have not yet filed a rehearing petition, and counsel for the Louisisna inmate, Patrick Kennedy, are most unlikely to do so.

The lack of a citation to the 2006 federal law first came into public view on a military law blog, CAAFlog. Another military law expert apparently saw it, and notified The New York Times. That other expert, Eugene Fidell, is the husband of a Times reporter, Linda Greenhouse, who then filed a story in the newspaper on Wednesday. (Ms Greenhouse reported Wednesday to a legal blog, Lawbeat, how she learned of the actual origin of her story — from her husband.)

The high visibility of The Times report got the attention of White House reporters, who asked about it at a briefing Wednesday, and of the Justice Department, which responded with the statement confessing its regrets and assuming responsibility.

Since the omission of a precedent applied only to half of the Supreme Court’s rationale (and not to the broader half, saying that the death penalty would now be reserved for crimes in which the victim dies), and since it was an omission by lawyers in their pleadings, the chances that the Court would change the result in the Louisiana case seem unlikely.

It also might be a question, if rehearing were sought, whether the state of Louisiana’s lawyers had defaulted, procedurally, in failing to cite the federal law in 2006 in their briefs in the case, and thus could not raise it now.

The Court is sometimes a stickler on such matters, as it was earlier in the just-past Term when it allowed the state of Texas to move forward toward executing a Mexican national because of a procedural flaw — one that even President Bush and the World Court had suggested should be overlooked (Medellin v. Texas, 06-984).

The Court also ruled a year ago, in Bowles v. Russell (06-5306), that it had no authority to grant any relief to a criminal defendant who filed an appeal three days late, even though the defense lawyer obtained the extra three days through a mistake by a federal trial judge.

Confronting our inner vigilante (Part 2)

View the article here | Part 1

Part 2

Posted on July 1, 2008 by Russ Wellen

Is taking justice into your own hands ever justified?

I Don’t Like the Looks of This

Early one recent morning, I boarded a subway on the 1 line, which runs north and south on the west side of Manhattan, at about 6 a.m. A wiry guy in his mid-twenties a couple of inches shorter than me, who was supported by a crutch, bent over a seated woman wearing ear plugs. “Can you hear me?” he asked.

I didn’t like the looks of this. (Note the vigilante speak.) Musicians play in hopes of donation on the subway or people solicit for the homeless. But not many individuals outright panhandle. Not only does coming up with cost of a ride itself require an hour or two of panhandling, but, though few and far between, transit police make it clear the practice won’t be tolerated.

However occasional, the subway panhandler tends to be as well-mannered as those in the rest of Manhattan. When rejected though, you can often hear an edge in their voice when they say, “Thank you have a good day.”

Meanwhile, his injury apparently less than severe, the panhandler with the crutch moved along without too much difficulty. When he asked a man reading a book for money, he was met with a forceful “no.” Perhaps resentful of not only the denial, but its vehemence, the panhandler tapped on the man’s book.

In retrospect, the lack of compunctions exhibited by a guy with a crutch who’s somewhat on the scrawny size about intimidating passengers suggests that he seldom meets with serious resistance. But he made this rider uncomfortable.

“Cut that out,” I yelled (or something to that effect). “Stop bothering the passengers.”

The panhandler, supported by his crutch, stepped over to me. Objective number one — distracting him from the other passengers — achieved. Again, I got into another vicious argument complete with swearing, to which I seldom stoop. When he attempted to get in my face, I shouted, “Step away from me. Don’t touch me.”

Like in the animal world, that if you make more noise than your foe, you can often neutralize him. I assumed that, because he was homeless, he wasn’t carrying a handgun. But I couldn’t rule out a knife.

Nor, once again, did I have a good answer for that inevitable question: “What are you gonna do about it?”

The altercation had reached its turning point: Back down or escalate? I came up with something about getting help at the next stop, but continued to shout at him to keep him from thinking he had the upper hand.

Then he said something like: “I could kill you and I wouldn’t care. At least I’d know where my next meal is coming from.”

As the absurdity of a situation like this kick in, my anger tends to dissolve. Worse, I now felt sorry for him.

In response, I said, “You can kill me if you want, but leave the other people alone.”

I was at a loss what to do next. The doors finally opened — at 34th Street: This had all happened in the space of one stop. Even though I could easily walk the rest of the way to work, I didn’t want to get off the train because it might look like backing down.

But he exited, turned at looked at me. Before the door closed, I said with some facetiousness, “Have a nice day.” He spit at me.

Looking back, this situation was a prime candidate for leaving well enough alone. The panhandler probably would have moved on from the reader he was bothering. My actions, in fact, only increased their chances of becoming collateral damage.

Confronting our inner vigilante (Part 1)

View the article here | Part 2

Part 1

Posted on June 30, 2008 by Russ Wellen

Is taking justice into your own hands ever justified?

If you’re not from New York, the name Bernard Goetz may not ring a bell. The expression “subway vigilante” might though.

In 1984, four young men surrounded Goetz, a geekish electronics repairman, in a New York subway car. They wielded no weapons, but one of them demanded $5.

Goetz, who had been mugged once before, interpreted the exorbitance of the figure, as well as their threatening posture, as the prelude to another mugging.

He rose, pulled out his .38 special, and without waiting to see if the young men backed off, emptied all five rounds into them, paralyzing one. Convicted of only illegal gun possession, Goetz got off with six months of jail, a fine, and community service. After the verdict was announced, jurors asked for his autograph.

The status of hero accorded him by many New Yorkers was a function of how weary they, as well as urban dwellers nationwide, were of living in the grip of crime. Goetz’s disproportionate use of force not only sent a message, it foreshadowed Rudolph Giuliani’s two mayoral terms, which were characterized by a heavy-handed crackdown on crime.

Some vigilantes seek to head crime off at the pass. Perhaps that describes the thought process of the Seattle woman who recently welcomed a child molester into her neighborhood with a baseball-bat beating. More often, they avenge crimes that they think go unpunished. Like as not, that’s because their victims, as with the Ku Klux Klan, are innocent. Once they take the law into their own hands and deliberate on the fate of others, they’re guilty of conspiracy — if only, in the case of an individual, with one’s inner demons.

Goetz himself, like Clint Eastwood in his “Dirty Harry” movies and Charles Bronson in the “Death Wish” series, may have been looking for trouble, as a subway employee who witnessed the shooting testified. But, if spontaneous and proportional to the crime, the vigilante act, as opposed to the practice, is not a crime. In fact, there’s no shortage of situations which call for taking the law into one’s hands.

Due to budget shortfalls or decisions about the allocation of manpower or, law enforcement is often nowhere to be found where it’s most needed — like in the subway, where citizens are sitting ducks. Besides being devoid of transit police, a train is only staffed by two workers. Meanwhile, at subway stops, station clerks are being phased out in favor of ticket-dispensing machines. The cherry on top of our subway helplessness, though, is that, since it’s underground, it’s a cell phone dead zone.

Like stocks and bonds, there may be an inverse relationship between crime and the ever-increasing price of a subway ride. But there’s still the occasional small-time thief who’s willing to subsidize a ride in hopes of a big pay-off. In fact, if you ride the subways long enough, you’ll either run into or observe trouble.

If confronted by someone who’s armed, most people have the good sense to hand over their money. If, instead, he or she is hassling a woman or trying to pick a fight with a man, both potential victims and onlookers are likely to ignore the situation. Either they’re paralyzed, or they simply seek to avoid stirring up a hornets’ nest.

But a small minority –- there’s one in every crowd (or maybe just every borough) –- for whom the fear of injury is overridden by a fear of how they’ll feel if they don’t stand up to a thug.

NY - Buffalo Police Officer Arraigned on Sex Charges

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A suspended Buffalo Police Officer faces felony sex charges.

Prosecutors say Monte Montalvo sexually assaulted a 19-year-old college student in December 2007. Wednesday, he pleaded not guilty in State Supreme Court to a charge of criminal sexual act in the third degree, a felony.

Montalvo is suspended from the force with pay and remains free on his own recognizance. Judge William Boller also issued an order of protection on behalf of the victim.

Officer Montalvo faces a maximum sentence of 1 1/3 to four years in prison if convicted. He's due back in court later this month.

TX - Former sheriff enters perjury plea

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VICTORIA — Former Victoria County Sheriff Michael L. Ratcliff has pleaded guilty to aggravated perjury, admitting he lied to a grand jury about having sex with a man who accused him of sexual assault.

Ratcliff entered the guilty plea Thursday. As part of the proposed plea agreement, an aggravated sexual assault charge involving an alleged assault on a then-teenage boy will be dismissed. A judge is expected to rule on the plea agreement next month.
- Of course it will, the "Good Ole' Boys" always get the breaks.

Ratcliff, 50, was indicted in October. He was accused of offering the boy a swap of sexual favors for a nicer cell in the hospital wing when the boy was an inmate. Ratcliff told the grand jury that he didn't make unwanted or sexual advances toward his accuser.

The Victoria Advocate reported in its Friday editions that court records did not say when the sex that Ratcliff lied about happened.

Ratcliff's attorney, George Filley III, said the former sheriff and his accuser had an "ongoing sexual relationship for years."

District Attorney Pro Tem Terry McDonald said the guilty plea equaled justice.
- No, I think equal treatment is justice. He should be treated as if his was a normal citizen who would have done this. If the average citizen would've had sex with a teen, like it's said he did, then they would be in prison and on the sex offender registry, yet he gets a deal, so I don't think that is justice.

"In a trial, it would have been a swearing match between (the accuser) and Ratcliff," McDonald said after the hearing. "Ratcliff confessed to a felony."

McDonald said he offered the plea since the primary charge — aggravated sexual assault — was suspected of happening in 1997 and there is no physical evidence.

The now-25-year-old man who accused Ratcliff of sexual assault was in the courtroom for Ratcliff's plea. He said he was disappointed in the plea agreement, which he told the newspaper he wasn't consulted on.
- Of course not. He's a cop, or was.

The man said he was told a plea would avoid prolonged court proceedings, which may have made him look worse or humiliate him.

"I'm not humiliated because of something someone else did," he told the newspaper.

"It further goes to show the good ol' boy system in Victoria," he said.
- Amen! And this occurs in the entire country...

The accuser is currently in a correctional facility for violating his probation on a drug charge. He was on furlough from the center to attend Thursday's proceedings, the newspaper reported.