Daily Archives: February 17, 2020

The Supreme Court Tackles Police Shootings, Excessive Force, and the Fourth Amendment – Reason

Posted: February 17, 2020 at 3:49 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court has long recognized that the Fourth Amendment right to be free from "unreasonableseizure" includes the right to be free from unreasonable "seizure of the person," meaning detainment or arrest. What is more, as the Court held in California v. Hodari D. (1991), "the mere grasping or application of physical force with lawful authority, whether or not it succeeded in subduing the arrestee," qualifies as a seizure for Fourth Amendment purposes.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, however, apparently never got the memo. In Torres v. Madrid (2019), that court held that no seizure occurred when officers with the New Mexico State Police shot Roxanne Torres twice in the back, because their bullets did not actually stop her from getting away. According to the 10th Circuit, "an officer's intentional shooting of a suspect does not effect a seizure unless the 'gunshotterminate[s] [the suspect's] movement or otherwise cause[s] the government to have physical control over him.'"

It gets worse. The police shot Torres while she was in her car in the parking lot of her apartment building. The officers were there to arrest somebody else but claimed that they saw Torres acting in a suspicious manner. Torres thought she was being carjacked, later testifying that the officers, who were wearing tactical vests, never identified themselves when they approached her. What she saw were threatening figures standing at her car windows. So she drove away and was shot twice while fleeing for her life. Torres only learned that she had been shot by the cops when she was arrested a day later at the hospital. The excessive force complaint that Torres filed against those officers was killed off by the 10th Circuit's ruling.

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in Torres's case on March 30. She deserves to prevail. There is no question that the officers engaged in the "application of physical forcewhether or not it succeeded in subduing the arrestee." As Torres and her lawyers point out in their brief, when the officers "shot at Ms. Torres with the intent to stop her from leaving and two of the bullets struck her body, she was in that moment seized within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, regardless of what happened next."

Precisely. The 10th Circuit's decision should be overruled.

The Supreme Court Tackles Police Shootings, Excessive Force, and the Fourth Amendment - Reason

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Attorneys for Theresa Bentaas look to suppress DNA evidence in Baby Andrew case – Argus Leader

Posted: at 3:49 pm

Attorneys for a woman charged with murder in a 1981 former cold case involving the death of a babywant to suppress DNA evidence police obtained from her trash, saying doing so violated her rights.

Theresa Rose Bentaas, 58,was chargedwith first- and second-degreemurder in March 2019 after DNA evidence matched her to a baby who in 1981 was foundwrapped in blankets.

Baby John Doe, named Baby Andrew by the anonymous donor who paid for his funeral, was found in what is now 33rd Street and Sycamore Avenue, with the umbilical cord still attached.

Bentaas' privately retainedattorney, Clint Sargent, on Friday filed a motion to suppress DNA extraction, testing, sequencing and profile evidence. He also filed more than 30 pages in briefs supporting the motion.

Theresa Bentaas(Photo: Minnehaha County jail)

Sargent and co-counsel Raleigh Hansman requested the following evidence be excluded from trial, saying it violated her Fourth Amendment rights:

Laboratory reports, interviews of Theresa and her husband Dirk Bentaas andbuccal swabs of Theresa and Dirk Bentaas.

"As a free member of the general public, law enforcement's extraction of Bentaas' DNA from the items pulled from the trash and the subsequent creation of her DNA profile for the testing of Baby Doe case constitutes an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment," Bentaas' attorneys wrote in the brief.

More: Theresa Bentaas posts bond, released from jail

Pulling the trash was lawful under both South Dakota and federal law, but extracting the DNA from the items from that trash pull is a "separate invasion of privacy...that must be considered a separate search under the Fourth Amendment,"the brief states.

If a Fourth Amendment violation is brought up in a case, the defendant must establish a factual connection between the alleged constitutional violation and the challenged evidence.

If Bentaas were to prove the evidence is "fruit of the poisonous tree,"the burden would shift back to the government to show that evidence is untainted.

The brief also states if there wouldn't have been an "illegal search and seizure of Bentaas' DNA," a warrant allowing law enforcement to get swabs from Bentaas or her husband wouldn't have been issued.

The brief goes on to say thatan affidavit in support of a search warrant for Bentaas' buccal swabs didn't showa "fair probability" that evidence of a crime would have been found from Bentaas' buccal swab.

"The decision to seek a search warrant for Bentaas' DNA only after receiving the DNA results from the trash pull items speaks for itself," Sargent writes.

The grave of Baby Andrew John Doe, an infant who was found dead in a ditch in 1981, is shown. Police arrested Theresa Rose Bentaas decades later on Friday, March 8, 2019 after determining through DNA that she was the mother.(Photo: Loren Townsley / Argus Leader)

The brief accuses law enforcement of exaggerating lab results. In January 2019, when Parabon Labs got a DNA match that was possibly "up to a third cousin" in the family tree for Baby Andrew, a detective took the information to put together a basic family tree, according to the brief. The family tree was shared with a Parabon genealogist, who recommended getting follow-up DNA.

Baby Andrew: Theresa Bentaas appears in court, trial date set

"Under the guise of the trash pull, Detective Mertes circumvented the search warrant requirement for DNA and deprived Bentaas of her Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure," Bentaas' attorneys wrote in the brief.

The state's "failure to obtain a search warrant to extract, test and sequence the DNA on the items submitted to the SD Forensic Lab violated Bentaas' Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure," the brief states.

The state had not filed a response as of Friday.

Up until March 8, 2019, Bentaas was a member of the general public, the brief goes on to say, which gives her greater privacy interest in her DNA.

Baby Andrew's body was exhumed in 2009and sent via FedEx to the University of North Texas, were DNA was extracted. The body was returned to Sioux Falls, where it was buried at St. Michael's Cemetery on Cliff Avenue.

From 2010 to 2018, the DNA profile of Baby Andrew was run through the South Dakota DNA database once per year. No matches were found.

On Jan. 24, 2019,Parabon NanoLabs, Inc. a Virginia company to which Sioux Falls police had sent Baby Andrew's DNA completed a "Genetic Genealogy Report," a lead-generation tool to identify remains by making connections through DNA and genealogy.

A DNA profile found possible family trees, include "what they had found so far was approximately a third cousin which was fairly far out from the direct DNA of this baby," according to the brief.

That report led police to a Sioux Falls couple, Theresa Rose (Josten) Bentaas and Dirk Bentaas.

Police on Feb. 11, 2019, did a trash pull at Bentaas' home. They seized cigarettes and cigarette butts, cotton swabs, Kleenex with hair, hair with yellow cardboard, ear plugs, water bottles, glass bottles, beer cans, beer bottles and dental floss.

Theresa Rose Bentaas, 57, was arrested Friday morning after police determined through DNA that she was the mother of Baby Andrew. Argus Leader

Police obtained a search warrant for buccal swabs from Theresa and Dirk Bentaas.

Female DNAfound on a water bottle, Coors Light can and cigarette butts from the trash pull "could not be excluded as being from the biological mother of Baby (Andrew) Doe." DNA from two different men was also linked to Baby Andrew.

Police interviewed Dirk and Theresa Bentaas later in February 2019. Police did a cheek swab on both. In that interview, Theresa Bentaas said she was "young and stupid" and admitted to being pregnant in 1980-1981.

Test results from the cheek swabs showed "extremely strong evidence" to support the biological relationship between Theresa Bentaas, Dirk Bentaas and Baby Andrew.

Theresa Bentaas was arrested in March 2019. She posted bond and has been out of custody sinceMay 2019. Bond conditions included that she be required to wear a GPS ankle monitor, hand over her passport, check in at her attorney's office once a week and live with a family member.

Bentaas' trial is scheduled for April. Her next court appearance is scheduled in March.

Email reporter Danielle Ferguson at dbferguson@argusleader.com, or follow on Twitter at @DaniFergs.

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Bill Barr Wants Sheriffs to Join His Attacks on State and Local Governments – The Peoples Vanguard of Davis

Posted: at 3:49 pm

Communities should protect immigrants rather than serve Trumps agenda.

By Brian Tashman and Naureen Shah

Attorney General Bill Barr, speaking at the National Sheriffs Association conference in Washington, D.C., encouraged sheriffs to join the Trump administration as it launches a significant escalation in the federal governments efforts to retaliate against cities and states with policies designed to protect immigrant communities.

For Barrs Department of Justice, that escalation includes new lawsuits against states and municipalities with immigrant-protective policies. He also promised to meticulously review the actions of certain district attorneys who are charging individuals with lesser offenses to avoid triggering their deportation. He said they are systematically violating the rule of law, which is ironic, given his decision this week to overrule career prosecutors and recommend a reduced sentence for President Trumps ally Roger Stone.

This comes just as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) suspended Global Entry for all New Yorkers as retribution for allowing undocumented residents to apply for drivers licenses and preventing data-sharing with federal immigration enforcement agencies. The Department is also looking to punish privacy-protecting states that dont give it unfettered access to state-held databases it can use to track immigrants.

Making the speech at a convening of county sheriffs was no accident: Barrs speech is just the latest way the Trump administration has ratcheted up the pressure on sheriffs to collaborate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Already, whenever local law enforcement arrest and book an individual into jail, they submit their name and fingerprints to the FBI, which shares the information with ICE. That evidently isnt enough for Barr, who wants sheriffs to volunteer to perform the federal governments job and do the administrations bidding.

Barr wants sheriffs to help fuel the deportation pipeline by holding people in jail based on ICE requests. But that can violate the Fourth Amendment and local governments have been forced to pay money damages for unlawfully jailing someone under an improper ICE detainer.

There are cases of local law enforcement calling ICE agents after traffic accidents, demanding papers of all passengers in random traffic stops, detaining people for ICE based on suspected immigration status, and providing logistical support for ICE raids. ICE rents bed space in sheriffs jails, and asks sheriffs to let ICE agents interrogate detained people, access reception and processing facilities, computer databases, and documents on release times and dates.

One of the most pernicious forms of ICE-sheriff collaboration is known as 287(g), a voluntary agreement between law enforcement agencies and DHS to deputize some local officers as federal immigration agents. These programs can give deputies the power to screen and interrogate immigrants about their status, access ICE databases, arrest people over suspected immigration violations, and start deportation proceedings.

While Barr praised 287(g) agreements in his speech, they actually harm public safety by creating a chilling effect between local law enforcement and immigrant communities, making people less likely to report crime tips, seek protection or come forward as witnesses.

One study found that fewer Latinx residents reported crimes in Frederick County, Maryland after their county sheriff entered a 287(g) agreement. Another survey of immigrants in San Diego County, California showed a huge uptick in the number of people who said they would be unwilling to report crimes they were the victims of or witnessed when told the sheriffs office worked with ICE.

In 2018, voters in North Carolinas two largest counties voted out their two sheriffs who had 287(g) programs, and the newly elected sheriffs cited concerns about community trust and safety as reasons to terminate the agreements.

Sheriffs participating in 287(g) agreements have been notorious for engaging in racial profiling. The Justice Department in 2011 found that while participating in 287(g), Maricopa County, Arizona sheriffs deputies disproportionately stopped Latinx drivers.

In addition, 287(g) agreements cost local sheriff offices time and money. In 2017, Harris County, Texas Sheriff Ed Gonzalez cited the 287(g) programs $675,000 cost to the sheriffs office as a reason to end the agreement.

While Barr wants to pressure sheriffs to join his administrations detention and deportation machine, people can demand better from their sheriff.

In the majority of states, the sheriff is an elected position. Voters can urge candidates to come out against 287(g) and similar policies of collaboration, and press their sheriff to terminate any existing agreements. Its also vital that voters reach out to their state representatives and local officials and urge them to support measures that protect immigrant communities and keep local resources focused on local needs, not the Trump administrations detention and deportation agenda.

State and local governments have the power to reject Trump and Barrs anti-immigrant pressure campaign and continue efforts to protect both public safety and civil rights.

Brian Tashman is a Police Researcher and Strategist with the ACLU; Naureen Shah is Senior Advocacy and Policy Counsel with the ACLU.

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Commentary: Stop the Attempt to Overturn the Peoples’ Choice of Alex Kim – Texas Scorecard

Posted: at 3:48 pm

Dear citizens of Tarrant County,

Imagine that your child was sick, and you decided to take them to the hospital for treatment. Now, imagine that very hospitalinstead of treating your childcalled Child Protective Services (CPS). A judge then rubber-stamps a court order allowing CPS to come into your home and go through all your personal belongings and interrogate your family.

Now, imagine the worst-case scenario: CPS rips your child from your arms and takes them to a foster family without any explanation. It is easy to think that this would never happen to your family, but that is exactly what happened to the Pardo Family with their son Drake. This case did NOT take place in Tarrant County because if it had, it would have never happened in this way. Why? We have a constitutionalist Republican judge sitting on the bench that handles the majority of CPS cases, Judge Alex Kim of the 323rd District Court.

This could be changing

On February 20, at 12:15 p.m. at the Tarrant County Family Law Courthouse, there will be an open hearing. Its goal is to try to take CPS cases from Judge Kims court and distribute them downtown.

America just finished watching the Democrats attempt to usurp our choice for president, a concerted and ongoing effort to undermine President Trump.

Tarrant County faces a similar usurpation of our choice for the 323rd District Court. Judge Alex Kim is the duly elected judge of this court with the purpose of hearing criminal juvenile cases and the lions share of Tarrant Countys CPS cases.

It is no secret that CPS and private groups like CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) are not fans of Judge Kim solely based on agenda, not fact. They fought against him through his candidacy, have continued after Kim took the bench, and have had an organized campaign to remove him from office. Sound familiar?

Judge Kim has transformed the 323rd in just one year on the bench. He has taken the length of CPS cases from an average of 500 days in 2017 to just over 275 days in 2019. That is a 45 percent decrease in the time it takes from the filing of a case to its trial date. This is good for the courts efficiency, the childrens safety, and for CPS workloads. These facts are in direct opposition to the claims that Judge Kim cannot handle the burden of CPS cases in his court. The reason for removing these cases from his court simply doesnt stand up to scrutiny.

So, why the ire from CPS and CASA?

It is simple. Judge Alex Kim follows the law. He will not rubber-stamp CPS removals or home invasions. He requires the legal burden of proof from CPSthis little thing called the Fourth Amendment and hundreds of years of the American justice system.

Judge Kim earned this target on his back when he signed a restraining order saving the life of baby Tinslee, set to be killed by the very hospital from which she was receiving care. Cook Childrens then went on to sue Judge Kim and have him recused from the case. Why? Because he was too pro-life.

Under pressure from CPS, CASA, and Cook Childrens, activist judges in Tarrant County are going after a duly elected judge that not only follows the law but does it efficiently, with the safety of all children in mind.

Judge Kim and the children of Tarrant County need your presence on February 20 at 12:15 p.m. at the Tarrant County Family Law Courthouse, located at 200 E. Weatherford St., Fort Worth, for the hearing. We must send a message to the committee overseeing that hearing that we support Judge Kim and the excellent job he has done on the bench.

The committee is made up of the following judges: Judith Wells, Mollee Westfall, and David Evans. All of the district judges in Tarrant County will have a vote.

Right now, these judges are hiding their heads in the sand and buckling under the pressure of CPS, CASA, and Cook Childrens. They need to be reminded that it was the citizens of Tarrant County that voted for them as well as Judge Kim. We need numbers! We are calling all Tarrant County citizens to action to attend this open meeting in support of Judge Kim and voice our objections to activist judges overturning the election of our beloved judge.

Will you stand for what is right?

Blessings in Liberty,

Joel Starnes

This is a commentary submitted and published with the authors permission. If you wish to submit a commentary to Texas Scorecard, please submit your article to[emailprotected].

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Bloomberg: The Democrat Who Treated Minorities as Inherently Criminal – The American Prospect

Posted: at 3:48 pm

Theres a sad, unfunny because its too true, New Yorker cartoon by Paul Noth that has circulated steadily since it was published in 2016. In it, two sheep are looking at a campaign-style billboard of a wolf, with the slogan, I am going to eat you. One sheep says to another, He tells it like it is.

The cartoon gets to a weird duality about President Donald Trump. On one hand, hes a liar: News organizations tracking his false claims reached a count of 15,413 by the end of last year. On the other, Trump can be uncomfortably truthful, as when he admitted to NBC Newss Lester Holt that he fired James Comey from the FBI because of the Russia investigation, or when he recently began firing government officials because they testified against him in his impeachment trial.

But the billboard also makes me think of Michael Bloomberg, whose 2020 campaign for president is getting renewed attention.

This week, audio clips surfaced in which the former New York City mayor essentially called minority neighborhoods crime-ridden and the young men who live in them criminals, and lamented the loss of the racist policy of redlining, which prevented African Americans from buying homes and building wealth until a 1968 law banned the practice. As I watched the clips spread and people respond to them, I felt like the rest of America was becoming acquainted with the Bloomberg Ive long known.

Lawyers and officers used to joke that these defendants were arrested for POP, which meantpissing off police.

My first job out of college was as an investigator for the Civilian Complaint Review Board, an independent mayoral agency that investigates complaints of police misconduct. I worked there from 2002 to 2004, the first two years of Bloombergs tenure as mayor. It was the beginning of the heyday of stop-and-frisk, the practice that was found unconstitutional in 2013. In that case, the federal judge found that the New York Police Department used indirect racial profiling to stop black and Latino New Yorkers who wouldnt have been stopped if they were white. Bloomberg defended the practice as late as last year, until he began apologizing for it in November.

The New York Civil Liberties Union has shown that the citys police have stopped and questioned people more than 5 million times since 2002: at the height of stop-and-frisk in 2011, about 685,000 people, overwhelmingly black and Latino, were stopped. The NYCLU survey found that 90 percent of those stopped were completely innocent. Another analysis, by the Center for Constitutional Rights, found that while whites were stopped less often than blacks or Latinos, stops of white suspects were more likely to result in the seizure of a weapon, probably because they were more often based on truly suspicious behaviorthat is, actual probable cause.

In 2012, The New York Times conducted a series of interviews with people about what it felt like to live under stop-and-frisk. These pervasive and abusive stops led to arrests of people even when the frisks turned up nothing. In one interview with the Times, a young man named Tyquan said that, if he demanded to know why hed been stopped, the officers would respond, If youre going to talk back, were going to take you in. If youre going to ask questions, were going to take you in. He said he was stopped four or five times a month because he was often with friends, outside. If youre with a lot of people, youre a suspect automatically, he said. Eventually he felt that the only way he could get away from cops was to stay home. Which sounds a lot like being in prison.

The CCRB cases I remember the most, and still think about, are these stop-and-frisk cases, and similar ones in which police officers stopped someone, overwhelmingly a young black man in a Brooklyn or Queens neighborhood, on the slimmest pretext. Sometimes, these men were chatting with their friends on the sidewalk, and an officer told them to move along because they were blocking pedestrian traffic, even when that traffic didnt exist. At other times, the cops stopped and searched men who were standing and chatting too near a car, on the unfounded assumption they might be stealing it.

The worst involved those with kids. Someone on my investigative team had a case once in which a boy, I believe he was 13, was stopped inside his own apartment building and asked for identification. He was on his way to visit a friend in his own building. The stop was an allowed practice. Police officers had permission to patrol inside apartment buildings owned by the New York City Housing Authority, or any other privately owned building where the landlords invited them in. Which made it hard for this kid to simply visit a friend without a run-in with police. Ive thought about him a lot over the years, and the ways his encounters with abusive authority may have shaped and changed the trajectory of his life.

On other occasions, I visited housing authority buildings and gone to the surveillance rooms that NYPD officers used to monitor residents. There were public spaces in these building complexes, courtyards and dilapidated playgrounds. But if anyone lingered too long, they were shooed away by police. What was the point, then, of the public spaces? What does it mean to have a home where the police can stop you any time?

For thousands of black and Latino New Yorkers, all this led to an oppressive feeling of living in a police state, of being constantly watched. Stop-and-frisk did lead to some arrests. Often, the charges were a constellation of such misdemeanors as disorderly conduct and resisting arrest; lawyers and officers used to joke that these defendants were arrested for POP, which meant

pissing off police. Whether guilty or not, any arrest traps the defendant in the complicated, time-consuming world of court hearings and trials. Often, just the accusation of wrongdoing is enough to lose a job or a home in public housing. Any arrest can lead to a downward spiral thats hard to get out of.

What frustrated me most was that we could never do anything about these cases. The CCRB was tasked with investigating officers who had violated police procedure. But officers who stopped-and-questioned young people of color, and sometimes put them in jail, werent violating procedure. That was the procedure. Thats what Bloomberg admitted in the audio clip of the Aspen Institute question-and-answer session that surfaced this week.

Stop-and-frisk is a policy that led directly to the mass incarceration of black and brown men and women, one that has decimated communities and separated children from their parents. It is family separation by another name, happening on a slow, daily schedule in many American cities instead of in crowded facilities at the border. Bloomberg did not invent this policy, but he was a champion of it; in power he enacted it. The police practices under Bloombergs NYPD harmed people. One of the most heartbreaking stories was that of Kalief Browder, who was held at Rikers Island for three years without a trial, where he was abused and depressed. He committed suicide in 2015.

The Bloomberg administrations violations of the Fourth Amendment rights of New Yorkers are no less serious than Trumps unconstitutional practices. If the images of young Latino immigrants in cages at the border trouble you, there is no reason to vote for Bloomberg. If Trumps dismantling of any sense of justice in this country troubles you, there is no reason to vote for Bloomberg. Bloomberg treated communities of color as inherently criminal, and that broke families apart and traumatized children.

Ultimately, most of Bloombergs shortcomings as mayor stem from his philosophical and governing commitment to policies that perpetuate racial inequities. Stop-and-frisk was the most obvious, but as mayor he also failed to stem the loss of affordable housing in the city, and presided over one of the most segregated school districts in the country.

But unless there have been radical changes in the way Bloomberg thinks about power, Im not sure the practical effect of his administration would be dramatically different from a Trump administration for many minority communities.

Bloomberg has risen in some polls recently, as in my home state of Arkansas, where he leads the Democratic field by 1 percentage point. Hes spent advertising money here and visited, focusing on issues like climate change. This has filled a vacuum: voters know almost nothing else about him, and no other candidates have a similar presence in the state. He touts his technocratic performance as (a Republican, then an independent, and fundamentally conservative) mayor of a large city as a beacon of hope, a mid-way choice for people who dont like Trump but who fear the Democrats are moving too far left. Anyone is better than Trump, the thinking goes, and we shouldnt nitpick little differences between candidates who promise to oust him. I have many Bloomberg-curious friends.

A Bloomberg candidacy would appease people most upset about the obviousness of Trumps racism, the way he wields it with uncomfortable candor, the unseemliness of it. But unless there have been radical changes in the way Bloomberg thinks about power, Im not sure the practical effect of his administration would be dramatically different from a Trump administration for many minority communities.

Electing Bloomberg is simply putting the wolf back in sheeps clothing. Should he become the Democrats nominee, it would show too many people learned the wrong lessons from Trumps years: It would put a veneer of respectability back over the deep, structural problems this country has. Those problems would still be there, destroying families and building pressure on many Americans, waiting to erupt.

Bloomberg has better positions on some issues, like gun control and climate change. As a billionaire philanthropist, he has campaigned for action on these causes; that is the role he should continue playing. On stop-and-frisk, he needs not just to apologize but to atone, and he needs to do that regardless of his campaign. The Democratic field is wide and varied. Bloomberg should stay out of it, where he belongs.

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Was Robert Kraft Convicted After His Arrest Last Year? – Sportscasting

Posted: at 3:48 pm

The two charges against New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft stemming from a crackdown on prostitution in Florida remain unresolved nearly a year after his arrest.

While its unusual for misdemeanor prosecutions to remain active for such a long period of time, the case involving Kraft, whose team has won six Super Bowls since 2002, has been complicated by the notoriety of the circumstances and questions with constitutional implications over privacy concerns.

Police in Jupiter, Florida, announced on Feb. 22, 2019, that Robert Kraft was being charged with two misdemeanor counts of soliciting day spa employees to commit prostitution. He was one of numerous customers charged as part of a crackdown on human trafficking.

Investigators suspected that the business operators were forcing employees to perform sex acts on customers. It was revealed that Kraft, who has owned the New England Patriots since 1994, and 24 other defendants had been captured on video by cameras that police placed inside the Orchids of Asia Day Spa.

Less than a month later, the defendants were offered a plea dealthat would expunge their records in return for 100 hours of community service,$5,000 fines for each count, and attendance in a class focused on the dangersof prostitution. The defendants would also have to acknowledge that they wouldhave been found guilty in a trial on the charges.

Instead of taking the deal, Kraft entered a not guilty plea. His legal team sought to suppress the video evidence on the grounds that the cameras were illegally installed by police, who purportedly called to the spa to investigate a bomb threat. They also asked that the court bar the videos from being released to the public.

If Robert Kraft, who has owned the New England Patriots throughout the enormously successful Bill Belichick and Tom Brady era, makes a plea deal or his case is ultimately heard in court and results in a guilty verdict, the New England Patriots owner could be sentenced to a maximum of 120 days in jail.

What the NFL will choose to do is uncertain. Commissioner Roger Goodell announced in May 2019 that the National Football League will take no disciplinary action against Kraft until the court case is resolved.

Robert Krafts lawyers were successful in getting the videos thrown out of court and in preventing their release to the media. Palm Beach County Judge Leonard Hanser ruled that Jupiter police failed to minimize the instances in which videotaped activities were not related to crimes.

Prosecutors filed their appeal on Oct. 1, 2019, to get the videos restored as evidence. The appeal in the Kraft case and three others is now in the hands of 4th District Court of Appealin West Palm Beach. Legal experts say its a classic privacy dispute related to the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

Theprosecution, which contends Kraft has no legal standing to make a FourthAmendment argument on behalf of spa customers who were videotaped but did notengage in illegal activities, and the defense have filed briefs with theappeals court and have requested the opportunity to make oral arguments.

Ifthe court approves, the oral arguments would be heard no sooner than early thissummer. The appeals court ruling would follow, which could trigger more roundsof appeals before a jury trial could commence in the Kraft case.

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Bloomberg Said What About Guns and Crime? – America’s 1st Freedom

Posted: at 3:48 pm

Photo: Gage Skidmorecourtesy Flickr underCreative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0

Clips from a 2015 speech Michael Bloomberg gave at the Aspen Institute should be playing on mainstream news channels just as often as Bloombergs campaign ads.

95 percent of your murdersmurderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take the description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all the cops, Bloomberg said. They are male, minorities, 16to 25. Thats true in New York. Thats true in virtually every city. And the way you get the guns out of the kids hands is to throw them up against the walland frisk them.

Bloomberg also said, And then they start Oh, I dont want to get caught, so they dont bring the gun. They still have a gun, but they leave it at home.

Such is the tough New York talk Bloomberg uses in safe spaces like Aspen.

If you can stop them from getting murdered, I would argue everything else you do is less important, Bloomberg said. And thats a good point, but it comes with a deceptive premise he expects us to buy into. Bloomberg, you see, often argued that the stop-and-frisk policy New York City used while he was mayor was necessary, and there is little doubt it saved lives in New York Citys toughest neighborhoods. But the thing is, when you take away one constitutional rightin this case, our Second Amendment right to keep and bear armsyou end up in a position in which you need to diminish another constitutional rightin this case, the Fourth Amendment right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizuresin order to keep people safe.

Bloombergs associates knew what he said at the Aspen Institute wasnt politically correct; as a result, after he gave the speech, representatives for Bloombergs team actually asked the Aspen Institute not to let people hear or see the video footage,according to the Aspen Times.

Bloomberg might be the $61 billion man, but buying an election in a free society still means controlling your image. In this case, however, the audio leaked out.

As this just isnt a position todays Democrats favor, just before Bloomberg entered the race for president last November he tried to sidestep his record. I cant change history. Today, I want you to know that I realize back then I was wrong, and I am sorry, said Bloomberg, referring to the stop-and-frisk policy hed bragged about just a few years before.

To put this in context, Bloomberg, when he was mayor of New York City, tried to be one of the common folk by riding the subway to work (in this case, City Hall), but, regardless, its a safe bet that he was never stopped and friskedmayors, especially those with security details, just dont get that treatment.

It is also a safe bet that he never needed a self-defense gun, as security details are paid to handle all that.

Now Bloomberg is running for president. If he somehow wins the presidency, the first thing hed like to do is disarm every average American citizen. He mistrusts the individual American so much that he doesnt even think the everyday hero named Jack Wilson, a concealed-carry permit holder and member of the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas, who stopped a murderer, should have the right to carry a self-defense gun.

Its the job of law enforcement to have guns and to decide when to shoot. You just do not want the average citizen carrying a gun in a crowded place, said Bloomberg just after Wilson had saved lives in that church.

Presidential races are filled with hyperbole and pageantry, but its revealing things like these statements from Bloomberg that build or destroy candidacies.

Bloomberg Said What About Guns and Crime? - America's 1st Freedom

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Mountain View to pay $350K in settlement over forced sexual assault exam of 5-year-old – Mountain View Voice

Posted: at 3:48 pm

A Mountain View couple that sued the city after their young daughter was forced to undergo an invasive sexual assault exam last year has agreed to a $600,000 settlement, according to recent court filings.

Under the agreement, filed with a federal court judge on Feb. 7, the city of Mountain View has agreed to pay the bulk of the costs -- $350,000 -- while Santa Clara County will pay $200,000. A third defendant, private ambulance company American Medical Response (AMR), has also agreed to pay $50,000 for its involvement in the incident.

The civil suit alleges that Mountain View Police Department officers had conducted an "unlawful and unfounded" sexual assault examination on a 5-year-old child in January last year. Three officers came to the family's house on Jan. 28, 2019, and demanded that the girl be examined by a paramedic to see if she had been the victim of sexual abuse.

The child had injured her pubic area three days prior when she fell at a trampoline park, but had since healed, according to the civil complaint. Earlier that day, a staff member at Landels Elementary overheard the girl saying that her vagina had bled or was bleeding, and reported the information to either Child Protective Services (CPS) or law enforcement.

The suit alleges that officers should have recognized the innocuous nature of the injury, but instead they presented the parents with an ultimatum: have a paramedic come to the house to inspect the girl's genitals or drive her to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center for a formal examination.

The suit states that the parents -- Danielle and Douglas Lother -- tried multiple times to offer alternatives, including a trip to a physician to verify the injury was not serious and was healing. Danielle Lother also offered to put officers in contact with witnesses who could corroborate the story that the girl injured herself at a trampoline park.

The parents were reportedly forced to hold down their daughter during the exam the girl was kicking and screaming while a female paramedic examined the child. After two minutes, the paramedic concluded there was nothing apparently wrong with the child's genitals.

A few weeks after the incident, the family filed a claim stating that Mountain View officers, the Santa Clara County social worker and the paramedic all acted improperly, turning an innocent injury into a traumatic event. The claim sought $1 million for severe emotional distress, past and future medical treatment and punitive damages.

The family's attorney, Robert Powell, later filed a federal lawsuit in September alleging that the city, the county and AMR had acted together to violate the family's privacy and due process rights as well as Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable seizure. It also alleges the defendant's actions amounted to negligence, battery and false imprisonment.

Since demanding the lump sum settlement of $1 million last year, Powell told the Voice that he left it up to the city, the county and AMR to fight among themselves over who had the most culpability. But he said it was pretty clear from the start that the police department was primarily responsible for the way the incident unfolded.

"No one thought for apparently a moment that, 'Hey, this is wrong. This is way overboard,'" he said.

When asked about the settlement amount, Powell said he believes the family could have been awarded more money if it went to a jury trial, but that his clients did not want to go through the stress of reliving the incident in a prolonged court battle.

"It was really, really causing a lot of emotional turmoil for the family and so we settled it, I think, considerably lower than what might have been awarded by a jury," he said. "There's a value to resolution."

Representatives from Santa Clara County did not immediately respond to requests for comment. City spokeswoman Shonda Ranson said the City Council is scheduled for a closed session discussion of the case on Feb. 25, and could not comment further.

After deductions and fees, roughly $438,000 of the settlement will be awarded to the parents, $80,000 will be given to the girl who underwent the exam and $40,000 will go to her sibling, who was interrogated during the incident. The money awarded to the children will be placed in separate secured accounts. Powell will receive $40,000 of the total settlement, plus $1,415 in counsel costs.

Powell, who has been handling CPS-related cases since the 1990s, said the incidents typically involve a child protective services agency and a law enforcement agency. This case was somewhat of an anomaly in that an ambulance company was involved and shared in the settlement agreement, he said. Despite the sizable cost of the incident, Powell said he isn't optimistic it will change the practices of anyone involved going forward.

"I have been handling these kinds of cases for around 23 years and I am back suing the same counties for the second, third and fourth time. In the case of Los Angeles County, I'm back suing them for the fifth, sixth or seventh time," Powell said. "Case after case after case of alarming stupidity, alarming abuse of power."

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Mountain View to pay $350K in settlement over forced sexual assault exam of 5-year-old - Mountain View Voice

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NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Numbers Up 22 Percent in 2019 – The Root

Posted: at 3:48 pm

Photo: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez (Getty Images)

The controversial stop-and-frisk policy of the New York Police Department has spent a great deal time in the news lately as former NYC Mayor Michael Bloombergwho is currently running for presidenthas been repeatedly called to task for the policy he supported up until recently.

Bloomberg did an about-face on the policy back in November, as the New York Times then noted:

Ahead of a potential Democratic presidential run, former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York on Sunday reversed his longstanding support of the aggressive stop-and-frisk policing strategy that he pursued for a decade and that led to the disproportionate stopping of black and Latino people across the city.

I was wrong, Mr. Bloomberg declared. And I am sorry.

The speech, Mr. Bloombergs first since he re-emerged as a possible presidential candidate, was a remarkable concession by a 77-year-old billionaire not known for self-doubt: that a pillar of his 12-year mayoralty was a mistake that he now regrets. It was also, in some ways, a last word on an era of aggressive policing in New York City that began a generation ago under former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani though the fallout on neighborhoods is still felt to this day.

The emphasis in the last part of that quote is my own. Regardless of how Bloomberg is now trying to clean up his image and divorce himself from stop-and-frisk, the controversial policy is still in place within the NYPD, and even worse, the number of stop-and-frisks jumped up by 22 percent in 2019, according to a report released by the department Friday.

There were 13,459 stop-and-frisks reported in 2019, and that is 2,451 more than the 11,008 reported in 2018or a jump of 22 percent.

It is important to note that these are the number of incidents reported and may not be an actual representation of how many times stop-and-frisk has actually happened, because as a means of trying to downplay the rise in numbers, the New York Daily News reports the NYPD said the 2019 increase is unlikely to be a true increase in stops, but rather more accurate and complete reportinginferring that the lower stop numbers in previous years may be inaccurate.

In a statement, the NYPD said: The Department has enhanced its auditing and compliance metrics as well as developed training to address stops and proper reporting. The result is a better understanding of a very complex area of law, correction of common misunderstandings and better reporting.

Isnt that reassuring?

OK, maybe not.

Chris Dunn, legal director for the NYCLU, told the Daily News that underreporting of the number of stop-and-frisks by the NYPD has been an ongoing fear.

While increased stops would be worrisome, our bigger concern is that large numbers of stops simply are not being reported by officers, Dunn told the outlet. In truth, tens of thousands more New Yorkers may be the victims of stop-and-frisk than these figures suggest.

Still, the numbers are much lower than the 694,482 stop-and-frisks that were conducted in 2011, when use of the practice was at its peak, and still lower than the 191,851 stops that happened in 2013the same year federal Judge Shira A. Scheindlin ruled that stop-and-frisk was unconstitutional, violated the Fourth Amendment rights of New Yorkers, and was racially discriminatorya violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourth Amendment.

That the practice still continues is disheartening. That it is negatively impacting black and brown populations is a fact.

That it needs to stop is gospel.

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NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Numbers Up 22 Percent in 2019 - The Root

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People leave molecular wakes that may give away their secrets – The Economist

Posted: at 3:48 pm

Feb 13th 2020

GENES CAN tell tales about you, from who your ancestors were to how likely you are to develop a range of diseases. And it seems probable that in the future they will tell more: your personality type, perhaps, or your intelligence. For these reasons, many countries have laws limiting what use employers and insurance companies can make of such information. America, for example, has the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which makes it illegal for health insurers and employers to use genetic information to discriminate against customers and employees.

There is much, however, that genes cannot reveal. They are blind to what you eat, how you exercise, how safe the place you live in is, how you unwind at the end of the day and which god you worship. Just as well, you might think, considering how easy it is to obtain samples of DNA from saliva, sweat or hair, and how cheap it is becoming to analyse such samples. But it is not just DNA that people scatter to the wind as they go about their business. They shed a whole range of other chemicals as well, in their breath, their urine, their faeces and their sweat. Collectively, and somewhat inaccurately, these molecules are referred to as metabolites. Some truly are the products of metabolic activity within peoples bodies. Others are substances an individual has come into contact with, or consumed or inhaled. All, though, carry information of one sort or another.

Until recently this did not matter much, for two reasons. One was that, in practice, taking samples for analysis required either voluntary collaboration or legal duress. It could not be done clandestinely. The other was that interpreting the complicated patterns of metabolites is hard. But both of these obstacles are now being overcome.

The most common way of analysing metabolite content is gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. This technique sorts molecules by their weight, producing a pattern of peaks that correspond to different substances. But the same weight can be shared by many molecules, so the results may be ambiguous. Nor, even if a molecule can be identified unambiguously, is its wider significance always obvious to a particular investigator.

There are, however, a lot of information sources out there, in the form of publicly available metabolite databases. And last year a team led by Pieter Dorrestein of University of California, San Diego, invented a way, which they call a metabolite search engine, of linking them up so that a sample can be compared simultaneously with the contents of all of them.

The databases themselves are getting better, too. According to Dr Dorrestein, researchers in the field were able, as recently as four years ago, to identify only 2% of the metabolites found in samples. Today, that has increased to 6% and is climbing quickly. It is reasonable, he says, to assume that in another four years we will be able to annotate 20% of the molecular signatures that we encounter, based on the advances that are being made.

Another area of progress is the type, size and state of preservation of samples that can be interrogated. No longer are blood, urine or breath required. Sweat, tears, saliva and even dental plaque will do. A study just published by Feliciano Priego-Capote at University of Cordoba, in Spain, for example, shows it is possible to extract much meaningful information from even a dried-up drop of sweatindeed, Dr Priego-Capote is able to find in dried sweat substances that are undetectable at the moment in fresh perspiration.

Such information can reveal a lot. Your god? Regular exposure to burning incense, and thus frequent visits to a church that uses it, will be detectable from the chemicals in the smoke. Not a Christian? Kosher and halal diets are detectable by the absence of metabolites from certain foodstuffs those diets forbid. Your out-of-office activities? Habits like drinking, smoking and narcotic use are visible as numerous chemicalsnot merely the active pharmaceuticals which produce the relevant high or low. Your exercise levels? These are flagged up by lower than normal levels of things like leucine, glycerol and phenylalanine. Your local environment? Breathing in polluted air has a marked impact on the profile of your metabolites. Your general health? Illnesses ranging from Parkinsons disease (altered levels of tyrosine and tryptophan) to diabetes (sugars and sphingomyelin) leave abundant metabolic traces. The day is coming soon, observes Cecil Lewis, a molecular anthropologist at University of Oklahoma, who is studying the matter, when it will be possible to swab a persons desk, steering wheel or phone and determine a wide range of incredibly private things about them.

In contrast with DNA, the use to which knowledge of metabolites might be put has little legal restriction. Dr Lewis, and others like him, worry about the consequences of this. At the moment, sampling for alcohol or illegal drug use, say, has to be overt, because it involves a blood, urine or breath test. That is true regardless of who is collecting the sample, whether it be the police or an employer. This also keeps purposes clear. A firm might feel it has the right to test employees for drug use, and the law might support that. But techniques like Dr Priego-Capotes make it easier, as Dr Lewis observes, to sample clandestinely, and bring a temptation to push back the boundaries of what is being searched for. They would, for example, allow companies to detect, if they chose to look, such private matters as whether an employee was taking antidepressants.

Metabolite data, even the sort obtained openly, will also be of interest to medical-insurance companies, who may insist on the provision of samples as a condition of the provision of cover. They, too, might take an interest in matters of diet and exercise, penalising those who do not conform to prescribed healthy regimes.

The police may be tempted to push the boundaries as well. The fourth amendment to Americas constitution protects against unwarranted searches and seizure of evidence. This means it is hard to force someone to give a sample. But if obtaining such merely requires taking a swab of a surface in a public placeperhaps a keyboard someone has just usedthe amendment is unlikely to apply.

That is not necessarily wrong, if it means more criminals are caught and convicted. But it needs to be thought about carefully, because many metabolites are sticky. Cocaine is a case in point. Studies have shown that as many as two-thirds of the dollar bills in circulation in America carry traces of this substance, which might thus end up on the fingertips of the innocent, as well as the guilty.

Perversely, this might even help someone who really had taken the drug. The law in many jurisdictions permits employers to fire employees for unlawful conduct, even if it happens outside the workplace. But as Michelle Terry of WKS Law in Los Angeles, observes, given how sticky research has shown cocaine metabolites to be, it is hard to guess how the courts would rule if someone lost their job for testing positive, yet claimed never knowingly to have touched the stuff.

This article appeared in the Science and technology section of the print edition under the headline "Shed-loads of chemicals"

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People leave molecular wakes that may give away their secrets - The Economist

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