A Soledad state prison guard accused of agreeing to smuggle drugs and cell phones into the facility in exchange for cash has been reassigned.
Sergio Javier Noguera — an eight-year officer with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation — has been given a position outside the “secure institution” a day after his arrest Tuesday night, said Sgt. Kim Traynhan.
Noguera will remain at his reassigned position at the Salinas Valley State Prison pending the results of the investigation into the allegations, he said. The Salinas man was arrested about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday after he showed up to meet with undercover detectives at Leavesley Road and Highway 101 in Gilroy, according to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office.
The once-mighty California Correctional Peace Officers Association has fallen far.
In 1990 and 1998, the union that represents California’s 31,000 prison officers could rightly lay claim to helping elect Republican Gov. Pete Wilson and Democratic Gov. Gray Davis. They, in turn, helped make California correctional officers the highest-paid in the nation.
That was then, under founding president Don Novey, a savvy, fedora-wearing political operator. Now, under his successor, the tough-talking mustachioed Mike Jimenez, the union struggles.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislators have cut members’ benefits. Union negotiators have stumbled at the bargaining table where they once dominated. And a jury awarded a $12.3 million judgment against the union in a defamation lawsuit last week.
Hoping to regain what it has lost, the union is trying to help elect Democrat Jerry Brown. But if Brown wins Tuesday, there is little reason he should feel obligated to reciprocate. By its own standards, the union’s effort has been weak.
Every interest group cozies up to winners. That will be especially important for public employee unions. But no union had a harder time during the Schwarzenegger years than CCPOA.
The union still spends heavily on politics, $3.3 million this year, a sum that strikes fear in most politicians. But that’s down from the $5.5 million spent in 2008, and $5 million in 2006. Dollars aside, the union’s political effort, once respected, can veer in odd ways.
The union produced a silly web ad demeaning Republican Meg Whitman (Novey backs her) as a bobblehead. Whatever the cost, it was too much. On YouTube, 51,000 people have viewed it, hardly viral in a state of 17 million registered voters.
The one television ad the union produced focuses on Whitman’s hiring and firing of an illegal immigrant housekeeper. The ad isn’t bad. But the impact of a $1.3 million ad buy is negligible in a campaign in which spending will approach $250 million.
Think back to 1998. The union spent $2 million for Davis. The union’s formula was straightforward. CCPOA drew on ties to law enforcement and aired ads aimed at swaying Central Valley moderates who can swing an election.
Cops from Fresno, Stockton and Sacramento looked into the camera and vouched that Davis would be tough on crime, undercutting Dan Lungren, who ran as a law-and-order conservative.
The union’s Whitman housekeeper ad could have been produced by any group from the left. There’s no hint that the spot was funded by people who wear badges and, as their saying goes, “Walk the toughest beat in the state.”
There’s another saying union leaders should study: “Never wound the king.” Definitely, do not embarrass a former Mr. Universe.
The union went out of its way to tweak the body-building governor by displaying billboards of him looking flabby and wearing a way-too-tight swimsuit. Upon winning re-election in 2006, Schwarzenegger saw no reason to bend to the union’s current leaders. Hence, the union operates without a contract.
At Schwarzenegger’s behest, Democratic lawmakers voted earlier this month to curb newly hired prison officers’ pension benefits.
Senate GOP leader Bob Dutton – a Republican who decries Democrats’ out-of-control spending – tried to block pension rollback.
Showing the connection between votes and campaign spending, the ham-fisted union last week spent $215,000 to help Republican Anthony Cannella win a Senate race against Democratic Assemblywoman Anna Caballero in a district that includes Merced.
The district favors Cannella, and the California Chamber of Commerce has spent $1.3 million to elect him. CCPOA’s support may or may not affect the outcome. But it’s sure to annoy Democrats who will retain control of the Legislature.
The latest pratfall came Friday when a federal jury hammered the union, awarding a $12.3 million judgment to former associates who ran an association of guards unions in other states. The verdict was bad, but details that emerged about the union’s operations were even more disturbing.
The union’s net worth has fallen from $16.5 million in 2006 to $4.7 million now, according to testimony. At the same time, the union spends on frills, including $230,000 a year for seats at Sacramento Kings games and other events at Arco Arena.
Plenty of lobby organizations buy Kings tickets. They pass out the ducats to win friends among California’s decision-makers. Not the California Correctional Peace Officers Association. The union’s lobbying reports show that since 2007, it has given seats on only two occasions to legislative staffers.
David Sanders, the union’s general counsel, explained the declining bank account by saying the union has had high costs for “protecting our members” in litigation during the Schwarzenegger administration. He added that the union gives tickets to members, Boy Scouts and Little League teams.
It’s been quite a turn for the worse since 2002, when Davis signed a contract granting members a 37 percent pay raise spread over five years. Whether the union under has hit bottom is not clear.
But the once-powerful organization certainly is viewed as erratic, and it will take more than the election of a new governor to fix that.
(10-27) 17:58 PDT GILROY — A state prison guard has been arrested in a sting in which he allegedly agreed to smuggle drugs and cell phones to inmates in exchange for cash, Santa Clara County sheriff’s officials said Wednesday.
Sergio Javier Noguera, 38, a guard at Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad (Monterey County), was taken into custody about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday after he showed up for a meeting in Gilroy with undercover detectives pretending to be a source of contraband for inmates, said sheriff’s Sgt. Rick Sung.
Noguera believed he would be paid $2,500 to smuggle in an ounce of methamphetamine, an ounce of heroin, 3 1/2 ounces of marijuana and four cell phones, authorities said.
The investigation began in April, when an informant told detectives that Noguera had been providing drugs and cell phones to inmates at the prison, which employs 946 guards and houses about 3,700 minimum- and maximum-security inmates.
Noguera is being held in lieu of $130,000 bail on drug-related counts, Sung said.
Noguera has been a guard at the prison for eight years. If he is released on bail, he will be reassigned to another position outside the prison while the investigation continues, said Sgt. Kim Traynham, a prison spokesman.
Source: SF Gate
Labour and the left
Oct 27th 2010, 14:41 by B.E.
ON FRIDAY the Wall Street Journal provided a wonderful bit of irony: despite the howls of indignation from the Democrats over private campaign spending, it turns out that the biggest sugar daddy is the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), a public-sector labour union that spends almost all of its cash for the Democrats. AFSCME accounts for roughly 30% of spending from pro-Democratic groups. A piece from US News and World Report points out that, in total, “Big Labour” is spending more private cash than the Chamber of Commerce and American Crossroads (Karl Rove’s outfit) combined.
Since the WSJ article most of the commentary has involved arguments over possible Democratic hypocrisy (pro, con), but that debate misses the point. The Democrats are electorally beholden to union support, and this often leads to bad policy.
In an essay in National Affairs previously flagged by Schumpeter, Daniel DiSalvo notes some of the negative consequences of this symbiotic relationship. He focuses on public-sector unions, which have grown while membership in their private-sector counterparts has flagged. Last year there were more public-sector employees (7.9m) than private-sector workers (7.4m) in unions—the first time this has happened. And public-sector unions have a distinct advantage over private ones. “Through their extensive political activity,” says Mr DiSalvo, “these government-workers’ unions help elect the very politicians who will act as ‘management’ in their contract negotiations—in effect handpicking those who will sit across the bargaining table from them, in a way that workers in a private corporation (like, say, American Airlines or the Washington Post Company) cannot.” And the public-sector managers sitting across the table don’t have the same worries as private-sector bosses, who must answer to profit-driven overlords. The lack of competition in government services produces little pressure on management or unions to come up with the most efficient work agreement. As a result, public-sector unions have become accustomed to getting what they want.
Mr DiSalvo offers up the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) as a case study in how public-sector unions make the system work for them, at the expense of good policy.
Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, the CCPOA lobbied the state government to increase California’s prison facilities—since more prisons would obviously mean more jobs for corrections officers. And between 1980 and 2000, the Golden State constructed 22 new prisons for adults (before 1980, California had only 12 such facilities). The CCPOA also pushed for the 1994 “three strikes” sentencing law, which imposed stiff penalties on repeat offenders. The prison population exploded—and, as intended, the new prisoners required more guards. The CCPOA has been no less successful in increasing members’ compensation: In 2006, the average union member made $70,000 a year, and more than $100,000 with overtime. Corrections officers can also retire with 90% of their salaries as early as age 50. Today, an amazing 11% of the state budget—more than what is spent on higher education—goes to the penal system. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger now proposes privatizing portions of the prison system to escape the unions’ grip—though his proposal has so far met with predictable (union supported) political opposition.
Elsewhere the story is the same. Overgenerous contracts, promising lavish pensions, benefits and early retirement, have put states in dire fiscal straits. Mr DiSalvo cites Joshua Rauh, a professor at Northwestern University, who predicts that the pension funds of seven states—Connecticut, Indiana, New Jersey, Hawaii, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Illinois—will go broke by the end of fiscal year 2020.
And yet in a state like New Jersey, Chris Christie, the governor, has been villainised by the local teachers’ union for proposing a one-year pay freeze on instructors and suggesting that they make some contribution to their health-insurance plan. (As Mr DiSalvo notes, currently 88% of New Jersey public-school teachers pay nothing toward their insurance premiums. Not a bad deal.) Mr Christie, who has won acclaim in conservative circles for his actions, has also sought to limit political contributions from state-workers’ unions and scrapped a commuter rail project, citing rising worker costs among other things (local unions are now trying to save the project).
The Obama administration has been more generous. Amid savage private-sector job cuts, one-third of the funds from the 2009 stimulus bill went to state and local governments, mainly to rescue public-sector employees. An executive order last spring strongly encouraged government agencies to use construction companies with unionised workforces for any federal construction project over $25m. That followed three other union-friendly orders. In his bail-out of Chrysler and GM unions won some special favours. And Mr Obama imposed tariffs on imports of Chinese tyres at a union’s request.
So the president has done little to change his party’s relationship with organised labour. And that is because the Democrats, more so than ever perhaps, are dependent on union support. On top of the hefty financial backing the unions are providing, a recent Pew study showed that, unlike independents, unions are holding firm in their support for the Democrats. But the favourability rating of unions has fallen sharply in recent years, especially among independents (dropping from 54% in 2007 to 38% this year), and the public’s appetite for smaller, more efficient government has grown quite large. Bad policy is turning into bad politics, which may finally compel the Democrats to change the tenor of their dealings with the unions at both the state and federal level. Unions, facing alternatives like Mr Christie, might also be more amenable to compromise. Or perhaps this all just so much wishful thinking.
Regardless, as Mr DiSalvo notes, even the recent state efforts to cut union pensions and limit benefits “deal only with the symptoms of the looming state fiscal crisis—not with its underlying causes.” It may take a state default before the very existence of public-sector unions is debated more vigorously.
(Photo credit: AFP)
Source: The Economist
Breaking News: Charges against death-row inmate Anthony Graves was just dropped. According to Kelly Siegler, a prosecutor hired to re-try Graves: “After months of investigation…after looking under every rock we could find, we found not one piece of credible evidence that links Anthony Graves to the commission of this capital murder.”
Few accused California Govs. Ronald Reagan or George Deukmejian of being “soft on crime.” But in today’s political climate, who knows? During Reagan’s tenure, the number of prisoners per 100,000 Californians was 121; during Deukmejian’s tenure, it was 230.
Last year, it was 436. Not surprisingly, keeping a much greater proportion of the state’s population behind bars has severely strained the state budget. The state faces an increasingly aged prison population, as lawmakers have created longer and longer sentences and reduced the ability of prisoners to shave off time for good behavior.
This state has a prison population problem and is under a federal court order to reduce it. The next governor and attorney general will inherit that task.
But you won’t hear the candidates making proposals for reversing prison population trends. Driven by fear of the “soft on crime” label, caution is the order of the day.
Republican Meg Whitman has said the prison system “is in dire need of expansion.” She would build more prisons, look at privatization and send some prisoners to other states. She opposes an independent sentencing commission to create a framework for the state’s more than 1,000 sentencing laws. She supports the “three strikes” law and “truth-in-sentencing” (or “determinate sentencing”) laws.
Democrat Jerry Brown signed the law in 1976 eliminating indeterminate sentencing but says it has led to more recidivism. He would revise the current “determinate sentencing” law – mandatory minimum sentences, enhanced penalties for certain crimes – to provide incentives for good behavior. He is against turning prisons over to profit-making corporations. He supports the “three strikes” law. As attorney general, Brown has fought efforts by the federal court to reach a negotiated settlement with the state on reducing population in California’s overcrowded prisons.
Attorney general’s race
Cooley and Harris have worked together in the past on reforming the state’s “three strikes” law, but they don’t consider it a priority today because they believe local prosecutors have set appropriate policies for applying the law.
Harris has ideas for dealing with prisoners at the end of their sentences – giving those in the last 12 months of their sentences intensive re-entry programming while they are still behind bars, followed by another 12 months of out-of-custody programming with the same team. The aim is to reduce recidivism.
Neither has shown interest in a sentencing commission.
Californians deserve better.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2004 accurately diagnosed the problem: “Our prison population now is more than 167,000 people and still growing year after year. If we imprisoned people at 1994 rates, we’d have 145,000 prisoners. That is a doable goal. Our sentencing rules have doubled the number of aging prisoners in just 10 years. We’ve now got more than 16,000 prisoners over the age of 50. We’re going to turn the tide of increased prison population. We’re going to show that California can reduce crime and downsize our prison system.”
That goal proved elusive in the climate of fear-mongering. Which candidate has the courage to take on that task anew after the Nov. 2 election?
He had no weapon and committed no violent act, yet he’s charged with killing his friend. Constantino Diaz-Duran on the controversial law that could send a Florida teen away for 50 years.
On Tuesday, September 21, school in Polk County, Florida, had been in session for less than a month, but already, William Murphy and his three friends were itching to cut class.
So Murphy, 16, Otilio Rubio, 15, and two other boys headed over to the home of Jose Oyola-Aponte looking to get into some trouble. Murphy’s father had warned his son not to hang out with Rubio, who had a juvie rap sheet dating back to age 10. But the boys were childhood friends, and when Murphy—who spent his elementary and middle-school years in private schools—enrolled at the public high school, the two started hanging out again.
Oyola-Aponte, a 37-year-old light technician at nearby Walt Disney World, was in bed with his wife at 11:45 a.m. when the four kids arrived at his house. What unfolded over the next few minutes would end with Rubio dead and Murphy charged with his murder—though Murphy didn’t kill Rubio, a fact that is undisputed by defense and prosecution alike.
According to the arrest report filed by Polk County Detective Ivan Navarro, Oyola-Aponte and his wife were were jolted awake by the sound of a hammer smashing through their bedroom window. Oyola-Aponte pulled his wife toward him, and grabbed a .40 caliber semi-automatic Glock handgun from his nightstand. He walked to the foot of the bed, took aim at the young burglars at his window, and fired two shots. One got Rubio in the head. The other hit Murphy in the stomach. The two other teens who were with them fled the scene unwounded, while Murphy stumbled a couple of blocks to a friend’s house for help.
The two who fled were apprehended. Murphy was treated for his wound and soon recovered. But Rubio lay in critical condition for two days at Lakeland Regional Medical Center before finally dying. His death, and the convergence of two Florida laws, would lead to an outcome William Murphy likely never anticipated: He was charged with Rubio’s murder.
Florida state law allows homeowners to shoot a person who tries to break into their home. Florida law also lets prosecutors apply murder charges to anyone involved in a felony that results in a death. After Rubio died in his hospital bed, Murphy, who was unarmed and never inside the house, was charged as an adult with second-degree murder under this second law. Oyola-Aponte’s right to self-defense under the first law was undisputed, so he faced no charges on the shooting (though he was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to sell when deputies found the substance in his bedroom).
William Murphy (Photo: Polk County Sheriff’s Office)
The two boys who were with Rubio and Murphy also pleaded guilty to burglary and second-degree murder for the death of their friend. But they were charged as minors, and were sentenced last week to a minimum of nine months at a juvenile facility, where they could stay, at most, until they turn 21. Murphy, on the other hand, faces up to 50 years in prison, according to Chip Thullbery, a spokesman for the Florida 10th Judicial Circuit’s State Attorney’s Office.
The felony murder doctrine, explains Paul H. Robinson, professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, punishes as murder all deaths caused in the course of a felony—even if the killing is accidental—and applies murder liability not only to the person causing the death, but to all accomplices in the underlying felony. In this case, the actions of the person causing the death, Oyola-Aponte, were lawful because he was defending himself from burglars entering his home.
“That’s a risk that a person who commits a crime with others undertakes; if one of their cohorts gets killed, then they’re responsible.”
According to Murphy’s family and local news reports, this was the teen’s first run-in with the law. The arrest report filed by Detective Navarro claims that, after being read his Miranda rights, Murphy confessed to using a hammer to shatter Oyola-Aponte’s window. It was this escalated level of participation that got him the adult charge while his friends were charged as juveniles.
New Hell Hole News #26
October 18th, 2010
This is in reference to Mary Fischer’s articles posted on the ScotusBlog “Texas Death Row DNA Case”, which can be found in the “Death Row News” section, “Hank’s case in the media” paragraph of the website: http://www.hankskinner.org
Dear Mary, again. I wrote the foregoing long before its posted date and was going to send it to you much earlier but the unit went on lockdown at an inopportune time and I had no stamps to write my wife so she could give it to you.
Now I’ve read your first two articles and I must say, I was quietly impressed – compare yours to Michael Graczyk’s (A.P.) crap. Whoo! That man makes me ill.
Jeff Blackburn and I have a long (yet fairly decent) history. I really think a lot of him, although I rarely tell him that. He knows me so well because he’s just like me! But keeping his law license keeps him on check, in the courts, before judges. I practice “guerilla law”. Ha/Ha Like Che Guevara, I play to win.
Yes, I am sometimes abrasive. Sometimes downright rude and ornery. I’m confrontational and I love heated argument or debate. To me, it’s like crying, (which I am also not hesitant to do if circumstances and emotion warrant it); it’s a form of soulful emotional purge. That’s what makes us human and distinguishes us from lower animals, like bears or dogs: the ability to emote and express. Language, although it can be ugly, is generally a beautiful gift from God. But I disdain people who abuse it, and lie, or hide behind words, who are fake, who use words deceitfully, underhandedly and falsely, to mislead others. Quite literally, people in Texas are trying to use words in a wrong way, to kill me.
As to your first two stories:
About my stay: Doug did not “yell excitedly” into the phone. Doug would never do that. First, this thing had worn him out. He and the associated counsel on my team had been in Huntsville 3 days without sleep, working on my appeals and had to answer a very irrational and out-of-time opposition filing from the A.G. So they were just so tired and worn out.
Secondly, Douglas Robinson is the coolest customer you ever met, so aloof and understated, so deep with his few chosen words, that in 13 years of his representation I can recall verbatim almost every conversation we’ve ever had. I often tease him that he unnerves me because he has the demeanor of an undertaker I once worked for and that I once owned a marine iguana that was more emotive than he is. Doug is just a guy who lets his actions speak for themselves. But he is also a great and very dedicated lawyer. I love him dearly and I’m fortunate to have him.
He certainly did say those words, but they came tiredly and very coolly. No exclamation point. Ha/Ha.
No, I’m not hopeful again. I still think I am ultimately going to die. 17 years ago this evidence probably would have proved my innocence. DNA degrades over time, so it may be impossible to get a probative result out of it, now. Who knows.
The funny thing about Lynn Switzer’s I’m “gaming the system” argument is that, at any time during the last 17 years the State could have tested this evidence and been done with it, one way or the other. As I pointed out to Switzer in my letter 01.27.10, all three of her predecessors in office have stated publicly, on the records (look at the exhibits with the letter!) that this evidence is “important” and needs to be tested.
“Prosecutors” (who now say) I “should’ve tested the evidence at trial but chose not to” are liars! If that were solely true, then what was the post conviction DNA testing statute enacted for? (VACCP TX CH 64) CH 64 wasn’t even yet a law when I went to trial! It was made for cases like mine. You see, when you examine what Switzer says with an exacting, factual logic, it is most readily apparent that what they argue is both ridiculously hollow and inanely circular. They are solely the exact cause of what they complain of.
As to Switzer’s short answer likely being “procedure” as to why she won’t allow testing of the evidence, that belies her duty (her sworn duty!) as a prosecutor. Code of Criminal Procedure article 2.01 “duty of district attorneys” clearly states that they shall not hide or secret evidence of the innocent nor win convictions at any cost, but do all that is necessary to see that true justice prevails. That means exonerating the innocent. As to her “full and fair trial” arguments, the jury never got to hear Andrea Reed’s truthful testimony (in her 1997 recantation) nor the current exculpatory evidence, so how can my trial possibly have been “full or fair”?! Once again, viewed logically, Switzer’s arguments and excuses, as I said, are baseless, meritless, hollow and redundantly circular. The jurors themselves have recently been interviewed and shown exculpatory evidence. They now say the evidence needs to be tested. Well and knowing what they know now, likely would not have convicted me. (see “Texas jurors reconsider verdict” by Medill Innocence Project on my website)
One more thing about Switzer, your asking about my sitting down to talk to her and what would I say? You’re reading it now. She could not answer on the facts. She has no viable answer, which is why she keeps hiding behind these private attorneys she hired at the taxpayers expense. But more than that, as my letter to her, the proof I sent, the offers I made, clearly prove, she is not the least interested in justice at all, but would (and almost did!) sacrifice the life of an innocent man for political expediency – she is little different from Pontius Pilate, who washed his hands and sealed Jesus’ fate. In 2000 years, we’ve learned nothing, as a society. Why on earth would I want to sit down and talk to someone like Lynn Switzer? For what? She’s a murderer in the making.
The other funny thing about this, in these capital cases, prosecutors hire a psychiatrist called “Dr Death” who rotely testifies that the defendant suffers “anti-social personality disorder”, is a “sociopath”, “psychopath”, “super predator” or worse. They say the marked things about such people are their only emotional responses are based in aggression, anger or, ruthless manipulation; they don’t learn from their mistakes, are suffused with greed related solely to their own well being and have no qualms at all about sacrificing an innocent victim in order to further their own goals. Ta-da! I give you John Mann, Harold Comer, Randy Stubblefield, Rick Roach and most currently, Lynn Switzer!
As to Kenneth Rosenstein, Alaska assistant attorney general and his inane comment “the answer lies in the procedure”, he is typical of latter day “ultra-conservative” republicans who exalt procedure over substantive law and facts. It’s insane! What he’s actually saying is, as long as you dot the Is and cross the Ts, it’s perfectly fine to kill an innocent person. En toto, his “strong advice” to me and my attorneys eats shit. Be sure you tell him all I’ve said here, please.
Our arguments are not emotional at all. They’re 100% on the evidence. Isn’t it funny how the opposition spins all this subterfugal crap, but has never once responded to the facts and evidence we allege?!! It’s because they have no response! What we argue and present is 100% on the money and true! Why can’t you see this, Mary dearest? Is it not apparent to your discerning eye that you’re being “hoodwinked, boondoggled and hornswaggled”* by these officious state buffoons? (* that’s ol’ Foghorn leghorn’s words! I love that rooster! Bugs Bunny – Road Runner hour loony ‘toons and merry melodies!) Ha/Ha.
While you were quoting Lynn Switzer’s public statement, why did you not quote my response to it in either New Hell Hole News #24 or #25? She lies! The lies are blatant, obvious and openly contradicted by the legal and public record!
As I said – how can I be “gaming the system” when it is Lynn Switzer who has an obligation to test this evidence but for years has absolutely refused to do so? No, Lynn Switzer does not believe her own words. She knows they’re lies designed only to protect her and conceal the truth of my innocence from the public. As Jeff Blackburn eloquently stated: “We have a deeply institutionalized culture and the most backward courts in the country that protect the government from criticism (or any real exposure of corruption and wrongdoing!) or fault at all costs”. That is exactly what has been going on in my case all these years and I have never heard it more aptly or succinctly stated than that. Yay, Jeff!
As to Jeff’s comments about my attitude and my views and how I act, he’s 100% correct. He and my other attorneys have often told me I should be more amiable. It’s just hard to do. I’m a child of the sixties – I’m an old hippie and I’m anti-establishment to the max. I’ve been wrongly and falsely convicted by people I have zero respect for, who have just continued to smile at the cameras and lie on me for 17 years! It is impossible for me to just sit idly by and accept that.
Once again, irony: any cop will tell you that the first test they use in interrogation of a suspect is confrontational accusation. They expect an innocent one to become somewhat enraged and upset if they’re falsely accused, and adamant about their innocence. I didn’t learn this until after I’d been in here for years, reading true crime books, police interrogation manuals and statements of cops on their methodology. The books of the famous FBI profilers, Robert Ressler and John Douglas “Mindhunter”. The guys who actually developed these techniques and have taught them in police schools for decades, yet have only recently revealed them to the public.
Over the years, one of the ways I’ve kept my sanity, is to read the books. It’s a great comfort to me to know that the grandmasters of the FBI Forensic Sciences Academy and the Behavioral Sciences section all profile the anticipated actions of an innocent person to behave exactly the ways I do.
Jeff says I defy conventional thinking of how an innocent person should act – yes, the public’s perception. But, all these cops, prosecutors and state officials know differently, as described above; that I act exactly as they expect an innocent person would – yet they still want to kill me. Just to silence me. They fear me, because they know I’m probably innocent and they fear that too. The scandal and public distrust my exoneration would cause. That’s what this is really all about from the State’s perspective: keeping the cat in the bag; hiding the lies, concealing the truth; damage control. Chernobyl is covered over with concrete, lead and steel too. But it’s deadly brew festers still on the surface of the earth; infecting thousands, polluting the land, air and water. Texas likewise may yet succeed in covering this up and killing me, but underneath the pervasive rot in its legal system remains.
Thank you for getting Roy Greenwood’s comment on testing. It’s nice to know he had the guts to confirm what I told you about Comer’s duty to DNA test pretrial when I demanded it. Roy says: “if he can be believed” about me telling Comer to test. Well, Comer admitted it at the 2005 evidentiary hearing and my pretrial letters to Comer are part of that record.
Like I keep telling you, I’m telling the truth and everything I say is 100% backed up by the facts, evidence, and the public/media/legal records of the case.
One thing you failed to mention about the jacket found next to Twila’s body is that the forensic criminalist who viewed the evidence, Max Courtney, stated that the cuffs and forearms of the sleeves of that jacket contained medium velocity (blood) impact spatter and that jacket was likely worn by the assailant. Only Twila had wounds that would result in medium velocity impact spatter (M. V. I. S.) ergo, whoever wore that jacket killed her. It’s a man’s X-LG 44-46! I wear a med 38-40. It’s six full sizes too big for me!
The last thing I’d like to address (for the 10,000th time) is the lie that I was found at Andrea’s “hiding in a closet” Ha/Ha. It’s kind of funny in a way – on the one hand they say I’m this full blown murderous psychopath, but on the other I’m so fearful I’m “cowering and hiding in a closet” – we knew it was the law pulling up. If I’m a killer, why didn’t I take Andrea and her kids hostage and have a standoff?
It’s because neither of those things were true. I wasn’t cowering or hiding. Michael Graczyk of the A. P. is a ghoul, a wannabe cop and an outright liar. When the law drove up, Andrea led me into the front bedroom in the dark and told me “stay here until I see what they want.” In reality Andrea’s kids were in the back bedroom and she wanted me in the opposite end of the trailer as far from them as possible because it was well known that the stupid sheriff, Randy Stubblefield, was trigger happy and she figured they’d shoot me.
There was a mattress on the floor of this cramped bedroom and the closet, about 5 ft wide but only 2 ½ ft deep, had a ton of clothes hanging in it and no doors on it. When the cops rushed in the room and flipped on the lights with their guns drawn, and I heard hammers cocking, I was blinded and I staggered backwards and fell backwards against the clothes. My heels caught against the edge of the mattress and my butt against the wall, my knees hyperflexed and I couldn’t get up. But I was in plain sight at all times and held my hands out so they could see I was not armed. Knowing they were going to kill me, I turned my face toward the clothes so I wouldn’t have to see my death coming.
At trial, John Mann made up out of thin air this “hiding in the closet” lie to try to imply guilt, when he rhetorically asked “why would he hide if he’s not guilty?” to the public and a jury. It was John Mann’s circus and he was head ringmaster. In 2004, Randy Stubblefield was deposed for the federal hearing and forced to admit I was never “hiding” nor attempting to. Unscrupulous, lying pieces of shit like Michael Graczyk (A.P.) and Allan Turner of the Houston Chronicle to this day continue to perpetuate that lie and others.
From Graczyk’s 10/10/2010 story * which was picked up by various papers around the country: some of his other lies, below. This story was retaliatory because, a few weeks back he and I got into it over another of his lies – where he falsely stated I “had two victims’ blood ‘splattered’ all over” me.
That’s an obvious lie. Only Twila had wounds (blunt force trauma) that resulted in any spatter at all. The blood of Scooter was only a contact stain which the State’s blood experts conceded was consistent with my actual innocence. Randy’s blood was not on me.
Back in December last year, after I publicly called Graczyk a ghoul and chastized him for lying on me about the cell phone mess (see my NHHN & TDCJ’s documentation attached to my letter to a wired magazine reporter on my website), Graczyk began courting me and trying to turn me. I met with him and told him the truth. I provided a foot tall stack of documentation to prove all I said. He took photos of me and gave me copies – trying to manipulate me and coax me to confess: “wasn’t it at least possible you did it? You don’t remember, do you?” Ha/Ha. When I recited the evidence and facts that prove I didn’t do it, he was forced to grudgingly agree with me. But he couldn’t resist lying so I called him on it, cut off his requests for interviews and wrote him a letter detailing his lies a couple of weeks ago and I told him when this evidence gets tested and they prove my innocence, I’m going to hire lawyers to sue him for all his lies.
I’ve long accused Graczyk of being a wannabe cop and a ghoul. He says I’m an asshole. Maybe I am, but I’m a truthful one, and I can pass a polygraph on anything I say and he’s just a liar, contradicted by the facts, evidence, the record itself and previous media stories. Here’s some more of Graczyk’s lies from his 10.10.10 story:
- Graczyk says I’m a former convicted car thief and parole violator. I was convicted of unauthorized use, not theft, aka joyriding. I was not a parole violator. In fact I had, 8 months prior to the murders, successfully completed and discharged 5 ½ years of super-intensive supervision parole, U.A’d twice a week. I have a certificate of discharge from the State of Texas which attests my successful completion of that parole and which is entered as evidence in the court record of my case. Incidentally, I am the only parolee of that time in Region VII, Panhandle & West TX, to have completed my parole successfully. Not only that, but unscrupulous parole supervisors tried not once, but seven (7) separate times to violate my parole on charges later proven false. That’s Texas for you! Also, in previous stories, Craczyk referred to me as a “former paralegal”. That’s closer to the truth, I’m still a paralegal. So you can see that now he’s just pissed and trying to disparage my character and defame me.
I’ve already addressed the “game the system” comments. The State, through its own agents, are solely responsible for the delays they complain of. They are “the system”. They’re the ones gaming the public and blaming it on me.
- I’ve already addressed, infra, what the DNA testing could prove.
- We’re not claiming as in the Alaska – S. Ct. Osborne case that I have any general substantive due process right to DNA testing. We’re claiming an as-applied law challenge that the State and Switzer arbitrarily and capriciously denied me access to the evidence and violated my due process rights. I’ve carefully explained all this to Graczyk more than once. So he’s either dense or intentionally siding with the State’s abject misrepresentation of the case and its attendent issues in the S. Ct.
- My bloody handprints found in the house? He fails to tell you it’s my blood, as I fell on glass getting out of there and cut my hand. More importantly, the D.A. lied and said the cut on my hand is a self-inflicted wound where I supposedly stabbed one of the sons. Yet my blood is not on any of the murder weapons. Why? I never touched them. But Graczyk conveniently forgets to mention any of this crucial evidence in his little story, huh. Wonder why?
- Mike Graczyk also conveniently forgot to tell you that I wasn’t even wearing my clothes when the murders occurred and I was passed out on the couch. My clothes were draped across the furniture where I’d removed them and hanging 18” or less from where Twila was bludgeoned to death.
- The defense blood spatter expert Graczyk quotes as “acknowledging the stains on my clothes were inconsistent with someone merely laying on the sofa”, was never told the information, in the above stated paragraph – that I wasn’t wearing the clothes at that time – and that the oldest son, mortally wounded and bleeding, got me up and out of the house while I fell all over the place, getting more blood on my clothes. The stains tested were only contact stains. My sell-out Judas of a trial lawyer never told our expert any of these facts!
- The testing of items we want, the knife was found in a trashbag bearing fully articulated bloody handprints of an unknown individual that does not match me and the hairs clutched “in my girlfriend Twila’s dead hands belong to an unknown male individual whose DNA does not match mine at three separate loci.
- Trial lawyer Comer never said he feared additional DNA testing would be inculpatory towards me until after John Mann, then D.A., selectively tested certain items in 2000 and then falsely claimed the results “pointed to” me, in the media.
- “Prosecutors say there’s ample evidence to prove guilt” and “no evidence to conclusively prove innocence”. Well of course that’s what they’d say because they fear the results of the tests proving my innocence. However, instead of merely allowing them to sling around the descriptive terms “ample” and “overwhelming evidence of guilt”, why doesn’t someone put them to the test to show and detail all this “ample and overwhelming evidence of guilt”? I’ll tell you why, because it doesn’t exist! Without Andrea Reed’s lies, today there is not a single shred of credible evidence that will show that I committed any of these murders, much less all 3 of them. I did not do it!
- It’s not “Skinner and his lawyers who point to Donnell” as the killer but the State’s star witness, Howard Mitchell, who told D.A.’s investigator, Bill McMinn, that he believed Donnell did it and gave credible evidence to back it up. My sell-out trial attorney Comer never investigated it.
I could go on and on here for 10 or 20 more pages, but I’ve said it all before in previous NHHN posts so I won’t keep harping on it. Dig a hole, Michael Graczyk. Legally speaking, you are one day gonna lay in it, I guarantee you that. To all of you haters, other lying idiots, flotsam and jetsam of the world who prowl the internet looking for some issue to beat up on, get a life! Ha/Ha.
999143 Polunsky Unit
H W Hank Skinner
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston TX 77351-8580
For those of you who use JPay to write to Hank, don’t forget to always include your postal address and your e-mail address after your signature, so Hank can reply to you. For those who would like to use JPay to write to Hank (www.jpay.com) don’t forget to enter the TDC number as an 8-digit number: 00999143.
* Death row inmate seeks high court OK for DNA tests
By MICHAEL GRACZYK (AP) – Oct 10, 2010
LIVINGSTON, Texas — An ex-con sent to Texas’ death row for three murders and spared from execution earlier this year by the U.S. Supreme Court is set to take his case before the high court, which may decide whether his attorneys can test items for DNA he claims could prove his innocence.
Hank Skinner was convicted of pummeling his girlfriend with a pickax handle and stabbing her two sons on New Year’s Eve in 1993 in their Texas Panhandle home. DNA evidence at his trial showed blood on his clothing from that night was his and from at least two of the victims.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday on whether prison inmates may use a federal civil rights law to get DNA testing that was not performed before their conviction. Prosecutors in Skinner’s case have refused to make some evidence available for DNA testing, including knives from the scene and a jacket next to one of the bodies.
The arguments come seven months after the Supreme Court spared Skinner just an hour before he was to go to the death chamber. Justices said then they wanted to postpone his execution until they decided whether to review his case.
“The relief Mr. Skinner seeks is simple and limited: the opportunity to obtain access to physical evidence for the purpose of conducting DNA testing,” Rob Owen, a University of Texas law professor and Skinner’s lead attorney, said in a brief to the high court.
Gray County District Attorney Lynn Switzer has refused to surrender the items and lower courts agreed with her, saying Texas law already gave Skinner “plenty of opportunity” to show additional testing could prove his innocence.
Skinner, a former convicted car thief and parole violator, was trying to “game the system,” Switzer said.
Prosecutors have said there’s no evidence to conclusively prove Skinner wasn’t the killer and that ample evidence exists to show he is guilty. They also contend new DNA testing “would not affirmatively prove anything.”
“They’re fixing to kill me for something I didn’t do,” Skinner, 48, said last December from a tiny visiting cage outside death row as his execution date neared.
To head off the scheduled March execution, his legal team renewed its appeals seeking release of evidence for new DNA testing.
Since the Supreme Court justices agreed to look at the case, the high court ruled in a DNA-related case from Alaska that convicts have no constitutional right to test genetic evidence to try to show their innocence. The court said it would not second-guess states or force them routinely to look again at criminal convictions.
Attorneys for Switzer, citing that case, argued in court briefs that Skinner’s lawyers hoped to get federal district courts involved in “second-guessing the decisions of state courts” under state DNA statutes. They also noted his trial lawyer chose not to test items Skinner now wants access to, and that using the civil rights law was an improper attempt to circumvent other appeals already refused.
Switzer has the backing of attorneys general from nearly two dozen states, who filed a brief on her behalf.
“He seeks a judge-crafted remedy that he hopes will be more favorable to him,” the attorneys general’s brief said.
Similarly, the National District Attorneys Association urged the justices to reject Skinner’s argument, saying a ruling favorable to him would undermine state law, expand federal jurisdiction over state matters and delay resolution of capital cases.
At his trial in 1995, Skinner’s jury heard evidence he was in the house where his girlfriend, Twila Jean Busby, 40, and her two sons, Elwin “Scooter” Caler, 22, and Randy Busby, 20, were killed. Besides the blood on his clothing, Skinner’s bloody hand prints were found in the house.
Skinner doesn’t deny being in the home at the time of the slayings, but insisted he couldn’t have killed them because he was passed out from a mix of vodka and codeine.
Skinner explained that Caler, who had several stab wounds, likely bled on him while trying to roust Skinner from his drunken stupor. And he said he was lying on a couch just a few feet from where Twila Busby was bludgeoned, likely accounting for her blood.
Police were summoned when Caler staggered to the front porch of a neighbor’s home. Officers followed a 3 1/2-block-long blood trail to the trailer of a woman Skinner knew. He was found there hiding in a closet.
A defense blood-spatter witness at Skinner’s trial acknowledged stains on Skinner’s clothing were inconsistent with someone merely laying on a sofa.
Skinner’s lawyers want DNA testing on vaginal swabs taken from Busby at the time of her autopsy, fingernail clippings, a knife from the porch of Busby’s house and a second knife found in a plastic bag in the house, a towel with the second knife and a jacket next to Busby’s body.
Skinner’s trial attorney testified at an evidentiary hearing he didn’t seek testing of the items Skinner’s appeals lawyers now want because he feared the tests would be more damaging to the case.
Skinner and his lawyers point to Twila Busby’s now deceased uncle, Robert Donnell, as the possible killer, contending he was a “hot-tempered ex-con” who became more violent when he drank. Donnell and Busby were seen at a New Year’s Eve party the evening of the slayings but she returned home early after Donnell’s crude remarks and unwanted passes, Skinner’s lawyers have said.
Incapacitated from drugs and booze, Skinner didn’t go to the party.
Texas has executed 16 inmates so far this year.
Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press.
A federal jury hammered the state’s correctional officers union on Friday, awarding $10 million in punitive damages in a defamation case.
The damages come on top of $2.3 million in actual damages awarded against the California Correctional Peace Officers Association in the same case Monday.
The Bee learned of the punitive damages award after U.S. District Court had closed. Plaintiff attorney Daniel Baxter confirmed the details.
CCPOA officials did not return calls for comment about the award or the possibility of appeal. It’s unclear how the judgment could affect the powerful union’s leadership and political activity. The union has failed to negotiate a contract with the Schwarzenegger administration for four years and lost its recent battle to stop pension changes inspired by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The jury’s decision caps a 3-year-old lawsuit against CCPOA and Auburn-based Corrections USA that claimed union President Mike Jimenez and other officials breached contracts and spread lies about Brian Dawe and two co-plaintiffs.
Dawe is a founder and former executive director/treasurer of Corrections USA, a coalition of individual prison officers and prison officer unions from around the country.
CCPOA was a member. It eventually took over the coalition’s board and ousted Dawe, who had started “investigating improprieties” in the coalition’s California bank account, according to court records.
Dawe said the unjust firing and false remarks to justify it breached a contract, damaged his reputation and devastated his livelihood.
The jury returned to Judge Lawrence Karlton‘s courtroom Friday to consider punitive damages and got a rare public glimpse into the union’s financial books:
• CCPOA’s net worth has fallen from $16.55 million in 2006 to about $4.7 million now. Jeff Nicolaysen, chief financial officer, said increased legal costs brought on by furlough litigation and higher costs for individual member representation, attrition and members who refuse to pay dues have cut into assets.
• CCPOA dues total $30 million annually. The union’s annual budget roughly matches its income.
• CCPOA has budgeted $11 million for pay and benefits for between 86 and 92 employees this year.
• The union owns two homes in Natomas for which it paid “about $300,000 each,” Nicolaysen said. Union executives Perry Speth and Chuck Helton live in the homes.
• The union rents a Natomas apartment for Jimenez assistant Juan Vasquez. The amount of the rent was not disclosed in testimony.
They contained the personal information, Social Security numbers, criminal history, psych evaluations, behavior reports and even details about the personal relationships of eight CMC inmates.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation immediately launched an investigation into the data breach, as ,ost of this information is protected under the Privacy Act.
CMC workers are required to shred records before disposing of them, so the leak was also treated as a possible violation of internal policy.
The Department eventually established that those particular files were given to a local attorney named Peter Ferguson.
Ferguson represented or had to represent the prisoners at their parole hearings before the California Board of Prison Terms.
When contacted, the lawyer said that his wife cleaned the car recently and probably threw them out accidentally.
However, this doesn’t explain why he failed to notice that such important documents were missing. According to the California State Bar code, attorneys have the duty to protect the confidence and secrets of their clients.
Ensuring the secure disposal of confidential files by shredding or other means is extremely important, but unfortunately, even government institutions sometimes fail to do it properly.
According to a 2009 report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), who’s workers inspected trash dumpsters at several IRS offices, the service failed to properly protect taxpayer information.