Tuesday, December 2, 2008

CA - Polanski requests dismissal of sex charge

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Lawyers say new documentary reveals ‘misconduct’ in director's case

LOS ANGELES - Lawyers for Roman Polanski, a fugitive for 30 years in a notorious sex case involving a 13-year-old girl, filed a request Tuesday to dismiss the charge against him because of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct.

The motion alleges that a documentary about the filmmaker released this year revealed “a pattern of misconduct and improper communications” between the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office and the judge in Polanski’s case.

“This case serves as a classic example of how our justice system can be abused, and defendants’ rights trampled, by an unholy alliance between courts and criminal prosecutors,” said a statement from attorneys Chad Hummel and Brad Dalton. Dalton is the son of attorney Doug Dalton, who represented Polanski in the original case.

The Polish-born Polanski, 75, has been living in self-imposed exile in France since fleeing the United States in 1978 after pleading guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles.

He was initially indicted on six felony counts and faced up to life in prison. Instead, he pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor and five other counts were dismissed.

Polanski, who had already been incarcerated for a psychological diagnosis for 42 days, skipped sentencing that would have sent him back to prison, and fled to France. The judge issued a warrant for his arrest that is still in effect.

The maximum sentence was 50 years, although prosecutors had said at the time that the typical sentence was 16 months to three years in prison.

Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for District Attorney Steve Cooley, said her office had not been served with the motion and heard about it only through media reports. She said the office could not take a position until they see the legal papers.

“We’re looking forward to seeing Mr. Polanski in Los Angeles to litigate it,” she said.

A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Jan. 21 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Polanski, the director of “Chinatown” and “Rosemary’s Baby,” has continued to direct films while in exile, including the 2002 Holocaust drama “The Pianist,” for which he won the best-director Academy Award.

Woman in case wants charge dropped
The woman with whom Polanski admitted having sex has said that she wants the charge dropped and that Polanski should be allowed to return to the United States.

The case was a sensation when it broke. Polanski, the widower of Manson family murder victim Sharon Tate, was arrested for having sex with the girl, whom he had hired as a model for a photo shoot. He was accused of giving her Quaaludes and champagne, taking her into a hot tub nude, and having sex with her.

The new effort to wipe out the charge comes after an HBO documentary, “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired,” in which the man who prosecuted Polanski, retired Deputy District Attorney Roger Gunson, said that if he had been in Polanski’s position, he also would have fled the country.

The documentary also portrayed the late Superior Court Judge Laurence J. Rittenband as a publicity hound who held news conferences and engaged in extrajudicial meetings about the case.

In a legal brief, the attorneys quoted heavily from the documentary, citing statements by former Deputy District Attorney David Wells in which he acknowledged advising the judge on how to sentence the film director, even though he was not assigned to the case.

The lawyers said that Wells’ recommendation to send Polanski away for a diagnostic study was illegal without Polanski’s lawyers present. They said Wells also inflamed the judge by showing him photos depicting Polanski with girls at an Oktoberfest party in Germany while he was awaiting sentencing. They said the photos were misrepresented.

“As the result of DDA Wells’ illegal ... communications, Mr. Polanski has been subject to a punishment that has spanned the course of over 30 years,” the motion stated, noting he has been deprived of opportunities to work on films outside France.

The lawyers said the now-43-year-old victim, who never wanted Polanski to go to prison, should have the final say. They said the law requires the courts to consider a victim’s wishes.

The woman’s “wishes have remained unchanged, and this court has the discretion to finally conclude this case without any further harm” to the victim or her family, the motion stated.

PA - New identification technology used by police criticized for being potentially invasive

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Since 1991, law enforcement has worked to develop more and more comprehensive listings of sex offenders not only to aid its investigations but also to protect citizens. After the initial success of Minnesota's Sex Offender Registration Act, the nation as a whole has worked to continuously improve a detailed, national registry of sex offenders, most notably as of late with the Adam Walsh Child Protection Act. This series of legislation has benefited not only law enforcement agencies, but also various individuals and organizations, ranging from Boy Scout troops to daycare centers, in their attempts to screen out convicted offenders.

While the benefits of the creation of a national database have been undeniably beneficial in many ways, detractors point out that not all the results have been positive.
- So what are these "benefits?"  I'd love to hear them!

Criticisms range from the creation of legal situations involving double jeopardy to the negative psychological effects on the offenders themselves, and have garnered much attention from civil rights groups. Such groups, especially the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), have recently been concerned with the recent, localized implementation of a new method of tracking sex offenders: iris scanning.

Quick, relatively simple, although yet unproven and legally unconfirmed, iris scanning technology has been recently developed by BI2 Technologies in Plymouth, Ma., enabling law enforcement agencies to scan the eyes of convicted sex offenders and place those images in a database that would potentially be nationally available.

Unlike usual fingerprinting identification, this type of identification provides dozens more unique points of identification that cannot change over time or be altered in any way, including Lasik surgery.
- That is what they said about finger prints.

Several sheriffs' offices in Massachusetts, New Mexico, California, and other areas have already invested in this type of technology and are beginning to build up their own databases to be integrated with those currently in existence. Established laws have already created widely accessible databases with extensive amounts of information on registered offenders. In Pennsylvania, registered sex offenders' names, photos, and addresses can be found by anyone with access to the internet at _____. The convicted persons can be searched for by their names or simply by the geographic area they live in.

While the Web site publishes a disclaimer that the information is only to be used for "community safety purposes" and not for intimidation or harassment, objectors claim that making this information so readily available poses more problems, especially the "unconstitutional" addition of punishment via public shame.
- But that is exactly what the public is using the registry for, that has been shown to be true in many cases.  The registry, in some cases, has become a hit list, which some can be seen here.

Organizations like the ACLU are quick to point out that these concerns could only be aggravated by the addition of a database of iris scans. They suggest that police could potentially use the iris scanning technology to quickly access individuals' information, then decide how to proceed in various situations based on knowledge of past criminal records.

Quick to point out the potential for parallels between our law enforcement agencies and those depicted in Steven Spielberg's 2002 film "Minority Report," critics of iris scanning are wary of the many ways in which such technology could be abused to the detriment of convicted criminals and ordinary citizens alike.

As such technology is adopted more widely, the question of how much individual privacy Americans are willing to give up in favor of open information rises to the forefront, as it seems to with nearly all recently-developed security measures.

IA - Iowa Sex Offenders May Get a Break

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Iowa law makers are facing a deadline in updating the current sex offender law to match a stricter federal one.

And, if the state doesn't comply... Iowa could loose up to a half a million dollars in federal funding.
- So they could lose half a million dollars, but it would cost tax payers well over 1 million to implement the law.  So they will actually be gaining money.  But, they won't tell you the truth, either.

In early January state lawmakers will reconvene and decide if they want to remove the state's existing 2,000 foot rule which sets limits as to where sex offenders can live.

"The biggest thing is the 2,000 foot rule is a feel good thing that really serves no enforcement purpose." Says Lt. Brad Carlson with the Woodbury Co. Sheriff's Department.

Currently the distance keeps offenders from living near schools and child care centers. But officials say it's nearly impossible to enforce.

"It really provides no security because a person who lives in the next state over can be here in 15 minutes to a half hour and be in the places that we're really trying to protect." Adds Lt. Carlson.
- Like I've said a thousand times, a buffer zone is nothing more than forced exile, and does nothing to protect anyone.  It could be 50 or 100 miles, but if a person really wanted to harm someone, they will, regardless of any residency restriction.  It's just a placebo to make you feel like the laws are working.

The Residency Sex Offender Law is structured in such a way that it limits where an offender can sleep.

An although well intended... Iowa law makers feel the law needs improvement.

"We're concerned where sex offenders are when they are awake. And we think looking at converting the residency restriction to a loitering restriction would maybe be a little bit more on target to the concerns we have about sex predators." Says Ia. Legislative Liaison Ross Loder.
- Even if you make them loitering laws, are you going to have some policeman sitting in these areas and asking everyone "may I see your papers please?"  It still is more feel-good legislation which will not work.

Removal of the 2,000 foot rule would require more supervision from law enforcement.
- And with the 2,000 foot rule, you force offenders way out into the country, making it more costly for gas and time, for the police and parole/probation officers to have to drive real far to visit the offenders, thus wasting more tax payer money.

"we do, do the follow-ups to those when we receive them. And also we do monitor based on cooperation with those other agencies because they can be criminally charged and placed back into jail and that might actually violate their probation and place them back in confinement." Said Lt. Marti Reilly with the Sioux City Police Department.

However, some Iowa residents feel the change would make it more difficult to protect children... And want the 2,000 foot rule to stay.
- Well, the public is not getting the real facts, or even listening to them.  So if they want 2,000 foot zones, is a person magically safe if the person lives 2,001 feet a way from you?  No, again it's just something to make you "feel" better, when it does nothing to protect anyone.

"When we can't protect them from areas that could be potential dangers I think we'd fail on the job as a provider if we didn't know where they were." Said Director of ABC Child Care, Bev Sinclair.
- Well, if you'd read the statistics and studies, you would know that 90% or more of all sexual crimes occur in the victims own home, or close family, so pushing them out into the country will just make it harder for them to report abuse, if and when it occurs.  And due to those statistics, you should be watching your own family, since they are more likely to be sexually abusing someone in the family.

If Iowa doesn't comply with the federal provisions the state could lose up to $450,000 for law enforcement activities.
- Ok, and it costs well over $1 million to enforce the laws, so they would be SAVING money by NOT implementing the laws.

Already offenders must register themselves on an online public registry.

And if state law makers remove the 2,000 foot rule...

Offenders would have to register themselves for an additional 5 years.
- So you are adding additional punishment to them?  That is unconstitutional!

WV - Mercer County Woman Sentenced on Sex Charges

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_____ will spend a month in jail.

PRINCETON - It's a month behind bars for a Princeton mother convicted of sexually abusing a teen boy.

In Mercer County court this afternoon, _____ was sentenced to two one-to-five year prison terms. But both were suspended.

Instead, she'll spend the next 30 days in jail.

She'll be on probation for five years and will have to register as a sex offender for the next ten years. Investigators say _____ had a relationship with a teen boy while serving as a church group chaperone.

She pleaded guilty in November to two counts of first degree sexual abuse.

FL - Young boy found walking down Fort Myers street

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A pedestrian found a young boy walking down Prospect Avenue in Fort Myers on Monday morning and now deputies are investigating why the boy was there and who is to blame.

At 6:45 a.m., Jimmy Robinson, 42, said he got off the bus at Palm Beach Boulevard and Prospect Avenue and began walking south on Prospect Avenue when he noticed a small child standing in the middle of the street, according to a report. The boy didn’t answer him and since Robinson is a registered sex offender and didn’t want to get in trouble, he called 911.

When deputies arrived, they started going door to door and a passerby pointed deputies in the direction of the boy’s house.

When deputies and the boy got to his house, they knocked and no one answered. The boy opened the front door and deputies announced their presence. They found two people asleep inside, who told deputies to leave.

Two other people walked from a neighboring house to talk with deputies. Dwayne Simmons, 23, told deputies that his girlfriend, whose name isn’t being released, is the child’s mother. He told them he usually watches the child, but that when he saw his girlfriend’s car at the house, he assumed she wasn’t going to work Monday and would care for the child. Deputies tried reaching the woman on her cell phone, but were unsuccessful.

Deputies contacted the Florida Department of Children & Families, which is conducting an investigation.

ND - Drew Wrigley attacks child exploitation

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It's good they are doing this, but using bogus numbers to scare people is wrong. See the link below to see where that 50,000 number came from, thin air basically! They don't tell you, most are from other kids.


Fargo (WDAY TV) - U.S. State’s Attorney Drew Wrigley unveiled his latest campaign today to stop internet luring, child pornography and child trafficking on the web through public service announcements. It’s part of Project Safe Childhood.

The ads target parents and children to tell them about the possible dangers of chatting online. Wrigley says at any given moment, 50,000 people are looking to exploit children on the web. And 14 percent of students are looking to meet someone they don’t know.

He says this is a very real threat to a child’s safety. Wrigley says knowing what your child is looking at on the computer and how they can properly navigate the web is important for parents.

Initiatives like this have helped prosecutors double the amount of PSC cases prosecuted in North Dakota in the last year.

AL - Sex offender laws need revision

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Wow, the truth for once!  Very well done article!


We are tired of tiptoeing around the taboo subject of sex offenders. The media and politicians have pushed this subject at the public for their own selfish agendas so much that the general public is terrified of the words "sex offender."

Not every man labeled sex offender is a child molester, or a predator, or a repeat offender, or even a danger to anyone. Many of these men are actually victims of laws based on fear and ignorance created by media sensation.

Fear and ignorance are a dangerous combination that often produce unjust results. There are a variety of circumstances that can label a man a sex offender, some very minor in comparison to others. In many of these cases, the punishment does not fit the crime.

There is no crueler punishment than labeling someone a sex offender. This is a lifetime sentence.

The attorney general and the Alabama legislators who make the laws are so far removed from the process they have no idea of the consequences of being labeled a sex offender. Marriages are dissolved, children are humiliated and families are destroyed unnecessarily. They cannot have any kind of a normal life because uninformed people are always pointing a finger at them.

Remove this cruel label from those who do not deserve it. Separate the true sex offenders from those who are not a danger to anyone. Sex offender laws need reform.

How the legislatures can help registered sex offenders comply with the law(s)

Since many sex offenders are clueless as to what laws are in effect and what they can and cannot do, why can't those who have Internet access, sign up for something, kind of like the general public can do, so they know when a RSO moves into their neighborhood.

This would help alert offenders to any new laws changed, and keep them up to date on the new laws which affect them.

Also, to help them find a place to stay, why can't the zoning software that the sheriff's use, be put online or some document created so we know where we can and cannot move to?

Anything to help us comply with the law...

Does that make sense? It sure would help a lot. I get a lot of emails from users who view my blog, on these issues, and they are always asking if I know of all the laws which affect them, and what they can and cannot do, but it's hard to tell them. All I can do is point them to their state legislature web site, but many people do not know how to search for stuff, and they are lost.