TeeJaw Blog

This Has To Stop

Posted in Government and Politics by TeeJaw on Saturday, December 11, 2010, 9: 17 AM

When the police beating of Rodney King occurred on March 19, 1991 it was coincidental that a man with a video camera caught it on tape from a distance.  Police were not even aware they were being video taped.  These days nearly every cell phone has video capability and nearly everyone has a cell phone.  Violent and unlawful police behavior is now likely to be captured on video by witnesses to the incident.  I believe the great majority of police are dedicated to protecting the citizens they serve, literally and routinely putting  their lives on the line .  But some of their more thin-skinned brothers and sisters in blue are showing how much they hate this development, and a few police departments and prosecutors are showing they will go to great lengths to cover up their bad behavior and avoid embarrassment, even if it means resorting to thuggish, police-state tactics to frighten and deter witnesses from recording them.

The case of Jeremy Marks, an 18-year old high school student in Los Angeles presents a familiar story.  On May 10 of this year a poorly trained and possibly psychologically unfit female police officer of the LAUSD [Los Angeles Unified School District] campus police overreacted to a very minor incident of a 15-year old smoking at a bus stop, turning it into a major incident of excessive force and brutality.  Jeremy Marks made a video of the incident with his cell phone.  Now he is being threatened with 7 years in prison.  He has been charged with numerous felonies, none of which will likely stand up to scrutiny in a jury trial.

His bail has been set high, beyond the reach of his working class family’s resources, and Marks has sat in jail since his arrest on May 11th.  The purpose of all this is to get Marks to plead guilty to lesser charges and exonerate the out-of-control police officer and her department from any wrong doing.  It will probably end as these things usually do in Los Angeles.  Marks will sit in jail for a long time and eventually be acquitted of all charges by a jury, unless the LAUSD first reaches a confidential settlement with his family in which they will be paid several hundred thousand dollars in exchange for their future silence about the matter.  Of course, by that time Jeremy Marks will have spent well over a year in jail.

This sort of abuse of power is pure evil.  It has to stop.  The LA Weekly has more here.  This short excerpt explains the current situation, but do read the whole thing.  There are links in the story to the videos made by witnesses with their cell phones.

On Dec. 2, Jeremy Marks, a Verdugo Hills High School special education student, was offered a new plea offer by the L.A. County District Attorney: If he pled guilty to charges of obstructing an officer, resisting arrest, criminal threats and “attempted lynching,” he’d serve only 32 months in prison.

That actually was an improvement from the previous offer made to the young, black high schooler — seven years in prison.

The D.A. then handed Angela Berry-Jacoby, Mark’s lawyer, a stack of 130 documents, and the message within those thick files was clear: She says District Attorney Steve Cooley’s prosecution team plans to try to discredit Marks, and several other Verdugo Hills High School students on the witness stand, by dragging out misbehavior incidents from their school records over the years.

Marks, 18, has been sitting in Peter Pitchess Detention Center, a tough adult jail, since May 10. Bail was set at $155,000, which his working-class parents can’t pay to free their son for Christmas. His mother is a part-time clerk at a city swimming pool, his father is a lab tech.

The first thing to understand is that Jeremy Marks touched no one during his “attempted lynching” of LAUSD campus police officer Erin Robles.

The second is that Marks’ weapon was the camera in his cell phone.

The third is that Officer Robles’ own actions helped turn an exceedingly minor wrongdoing — a student smoking at a bus stop — into a state prison case.

The threat by the D.A. to use high school disciplinary records to discredit witnesses’ testimony is posturing.  In a trial any such attempt would run into the Rules of Evidence which permit the introduction only of reputation evidence and actual felony convictions to impeach witnesses.  Specific incidents of misconduct that did not result in conviction may be admitted only if they relate to the witness’s propensity for truthfulness.  There is a high relevance standard for such prior incidents and they must clearly demonstrate that the witness is loose with the truth.   A prior incident of lying under oath, if clearly established or admitted, is an example that would meet that standard.  Even felony convictions that are old or not related to truthfulness are sometimes excluded.

More stories of alleged police misconduct:

Chief Dolan Not Addressing Minneapolis Police Misconduct Problems Says Review Board — This is a story about how citizens are not convinced police internal affairs diligently investigates allegations of police misconduct.  The police may have a different opinion.  As a lawyer I am always amazed when non-lawyers claim the disciplinary section of the BAR is not doing its job with complaints about lawyers, when in reality that august body of selfless servants are the closest thing to the Star Chamber that exists in modern times.

Scandal Roils Tula Police; Planted Evidence, Stolen Drugs, False Informants Star in Probe; Convicts Freed — This one looks pretty bad.  When convicts have served long prison terms and then have their convictions overturned by the court upon a finding they were convicted with planted evidence,  I tend to believe the allegations.  [subscription may be required for online viewing; Wall Street Journal, December 10, 2010, Page A3]

Pottawattamie County v. McGhee — Two men served 25 years in prison on false evidence presented by prosecutors.  They did it knowingly.  The case is about whether prosecutors should continue to enjoy absolute immunity.  They should not.  It’s a free pass for outrageous behavior.  No one else has that deal, not the police, not anybody.  [The case against the county was settled for $12 million, before the U.S. Supreme Court could rule on prosecutorial immunity.  The Court will be another chance this term in Connick v. Thompson, a Louisiana death penalty case.]


One Response

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  1. Terry Wagar said, on Wednesday, January 5, 2011, 11: 23 AM at 11:23 AM

    I was being poisoned by my family! my wife Joan Wagar was having an affair with a man named Eric Carlson at East Port Walmart and they decided they wanted me dead!

    They both have relatives in law enforcement and those relatives gave them permission to poison me to death and those officers covered it up at the hospital!

    I caught them all on a audio recorder admitting to this murder conspiracy and they were framing me for their crimes as well, and you can tell by listening to it that they had a lot of fun molesting children and giving me blame behind my back!

    I was very ill at the time, stuck at home, too ill to go anywhere and my family pretended nothing’s wrong while my wife poisoned me!

    everyone in my family knew of my wife’s affair, they knew Eric Carlson was almost a twin to me, and they all kept it a secret from me while my wife poisoned me and Eric Carlson framed me, my family knew they were doing this to me!

    I was surrounded by people that conspired with my wife to pretend nothing’s wrong and those relatives in law enforcement just covered it up at the hospital!

    I was a plasma donor and everyone in the family knew it and they did not care that my wife Joan Wagar was guilty even when I found her hidden poison in the fucking kitchen!

    I am badly crippled from being poisoned and I am currently being blackmailed at the threat of death by these people in law enforcement and by family members while they continue to harm others!

    They already confessed to the murder of a missing runaway, last name Hunter, I caught them admitting to that on a audio recorder, I don’t remember the first name but I secured that audio!

    In 2008 they murdered Donna Minor, Joan Wagar’s mother, while Eric Carlson’s brother who is in law enforcement were above my apartment and they were trying to hide it!

    They later bragged on a audio death threat they will kill more if I don’t do what they want and that I will “See it!” if I don’t!

    Ever since I caught them on a audio recorder they brag on audio recordings!

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