02 September 2011

Friday Follies...
We're in the midst of a mini-heatwave here in the Summit City, with temps heading towards the century mark (Summer's last gasp?), so do be warned that there WILL be a heat and air-quality advisory today including free rides with CITILINK.
Stay inside if you can, and stay hydrated if you cannot.
*** Now, onto some more "stuff" regarding the mistrial of Andre Washington.
Here's the latest (verbatim) from our local paper (along with *my* running comments):
(( Published: September 2, 2011 3:00 a.m.
Drama, accusations disrupt court - Judge chides prosecutors but keeps murder charge; family infuriated
Rebecca S. Green The Journal Gazette
FORT WAYNE – A court hearing exploded Thursday after the county’s elected prosecutor argued with a defense attorney over allegations of misconduct, the police department’s work was called into question and an angry family wished damnation on a judge (TNB).
The hour-long, emotion-laden and drama-filled hearing drew dozens – mostly attorneys – to the courtroom alongside the families of an accused murderer and the victim.
They were there to hear whether Allen Superior Court Judge John Surbeck would dismiss the murder and robbery charges against 20-year-old Andre Washington, who is accused of shooting to death 32-year-old Ian Crace in November 2009.
After a pair of prosecutorial errors (OOPS!) brought the murder case to an end Wednesday with a mistrial, Surbeck entertained arguments Thursday about whether he should dismiss the case if he found the prosecutors’ behavior had been intentional or negligent. A dismissal would have resulted in Washington’s release from custody (that's just what we need, ANOTHER felon back on the streets), something his family clearly anticipated.
After the hearing’s dramatic ending, which created a mistrial in an unrelated case because of the disturbance, it appeared the relationships between the police and prosecutors and between prosecutors and defense attorneys might have been damaged (that can't be good for anyone).
But by the end of the day Thursday, those involved promised to work together and expressed hope that the relationships, necessary for the courts to work, would heal.
Along with Deangelo Bennett, Washington is accused of the murder and robbery of Crace, a deliveryman for Vito’s Pizza called to deliver an order to a home in the 2800 block of Schele Drive on the night of Nov. 29, 2009.
Not long after Washington’s trial got under way Tuesday, it was revealed that deputy prosecutors Tom Chaille and Christine Neilson never told defense attorneys Michelle Kraus and William Lebrato that the timestamp on security camera footage was off by an hour.
The mistake was attributed to the McCormick Place apartments’ information technology staff’s failure to switch the cameras back from daylight saving time (yet NO ONE made the connection and CAUGHT the error).
Surbeck cautioned the prosecutors and called a recess in the trial to allow Kraus and Lebrato time to re-interview witnesses, and the trial resumed again Wednesday morning.
During testimony Wednesday, it was revealed that a ballistics report, which eliminated a potential murder weapon – and, to the defense, an alternate theory of the crime – had also not been turned over to the defense (another "OOPS" moment).
Surbeck granted a request for a mistrial and scheduled Thursday’s hearing. Under local rules governing court procedure, prosecutors share information freely with defense attorneys to allow them to better advocate for their clients (it helps when plea-bargaining for lighter sentencing).
At Thursday’s hearing, Surbeck described a "downward spiral" in the way prosecutors and the defense attorneys work together of late.
Kraus made an impassioned plea for the dismissal, arguing that the two incidents in the Washington case were recent examples in an ongoing problem defense attorneys have had in getting information from the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office (I'm sure if someone digs around, they'll find a lot more).
"We are constantly finding ourselves, at the last minute, handed things that help us defend our clients," Kraus said. "Mr. Washington has been denied fundamental fairness" (I guess FAIRNESS for Ian Crace doesn't matter, hmm?) .
"At some point, enough is enough. Justice will not prevail if we retry him," Kraus said. "Please dismiss the case."
Richards vehemently defended her office (she has to if she wants to keep her job) and the attorneys handling Washington’s prosecution.
"I’m not going to tell you we didn’t make mistakes because we did," Richards told Surbeck.
She said while the mistakes in the Washington case were solely those of her office (as usual), it has become increasingly difficult lately to get timely information from police agencies on developments in specific cases (and pass that buck while you're at it).
Prosecutors now have to check with police on all of their cases more frequently than they used to (technology should make it FASTER and more comprehensive), as opposed to having the officers forward information immediately, Richards said.
"This is a system that doesn’t have enough money or enough people. We’ve been addressing these issues," Richards said. "To give (Kraus) what she wants, you have to find two really good prosecutors acted dishonestly. … People make mistakes. I will do my absolute best to make sure this doesn’t happen again."
After hearing their arguments, Surbeck declined to dismiss the case against Washington but told the prosecutors that what happened in the case was wrong (good call for once).
"My opinion is that the way we do this has been deteriorating," Surbeck said. "It is clear to me these lawyers violated the working rules. I’m not talking ‘fancy terms’; … very simply, respected counsel had an obligation."
After Surbeck announced his ruling, Washington’s family became extremely emotional (wild animal syndrome - happens with ghetto toads all the time). One woman called the judge the devil, saying he was going to go to hell for his ruling (and the judge will probably see YOUR WHOLE FAMILY there, I'd wager). The group refused repeated orders by the bailiffs to leave quietly (no respect for procedure OR authority...typical) and carried on with chants and shouts throughout the entire building for about 10 more minutes (they ALL should have gotten the "bum's rush" out of the damn building at that point by police) .
Their disturbance was so great that it upset potential jurors (like I will not become next week) being interviewed in another courtroom, causing Allen Superior Court Judge Wendy Davis to declare a mistrial in the case (see how the system works, now? their behavior caused a 2nd mistrial) .
Washington sat there, shaking his head. At one point, he said it wasn’t fair and that he wanted to attend college (they have a "college" for HIS kind...called PRISON).
In an interview Thursday afternoon, Richards said she is trying to address the issues she has had with local law enforcement, particularly the Fort Wayne Police Department, and how supplemental reports are forwarded to the prosecutor’s office.
But she again stressed that the mistake in Washington’s case was her office’s alone (at least she's NOT "losing" court records like the fomer prosecutor, Bob Gevers used to frequently do, causing a lot of cases to get tossed. He's now a DEFENSE ATTORNEY...whatta laugh).
"This is our mistake, absolutely," she said (then why cast aspersions at the FWPD?).
Fort Wayne Police Chief Rusty York said Thursday afternoon he had spoken with Richards after the hearing and was confident his officers did their job in the case.
"We work together as a team," York said. "We are always open to criticism and comments from the prosecutor’s office. It’s a two-way street."
He acknowledged Richards’ comments would likely hurt the rank-and-file officers who work closely with the prosecutors on these cases (cops hate to see a good case tossed because the DA screwed up).
"They’ll continue their professional relationship because we all have to work together to get the job done," York said.
Surbeck said he believed all the relationships damaged by the statements made Thursday would recover, though probably not entirely. He said he hopes that the close working relationship with the prosecutors and the public defenders can continue.
"I’m satisfied that … in spite of the fact we get along and violate the ‘technical’ rules, a little more justice is done, rather than less," he said.
(( *AHEM* ))
I'm really curious to see how this turns out, and for a lot of reasons.
Moving on...
*** Did you know that FORT WAYNE is the 15TH BEST DRIVING CITY?
Well, it's #1 in INDIANA...
(( *rolls eyes* ))
Wonder who was smoking what when THIS study was made?
Here's the link to the source article:
There is a PDF file in case you want to see all the cities in the study.
And it's a decent read (...if a bit fictitious, imho...then again, I like a good novel once in a while...lol).
I've driven (and ridden) a LOT of miles in quite a few towns and cities in America and even in other countries.
I grew up learning to drive IN PHLLY...(SOUTH Philly to be exact...plenty of one way streets and narrow streets to keep one on their toes).
Passed my driver's test the FIRST time...and in a friend's car to boot.
Now the Schuylkill Expressway (Rt 76), other wise known affectionately as the SUREKILL CRAWLWAY, I confess, IS pretty bad.
One numbnut can tie the damn thing up for (literally) HOURS.
But parts of the highway system of L.A. are horrendous...I mean it's not so much driving FAST as FLYING LOW, if you get my drift.
NYC has it's OWN "unique" system for moving people....SLOWLY...LOL.
As long as you know the number streets and which DIRECTION they go (one way hell again), you can get around fairly well...maybe...at 0300 hours.
The topper comes along the BELTWAY around Washington, D.C (and deservedly so).
People merging in and out, from left AND right, and God help if you want to get the hell OFF of the damn thing...
You might have to make a loop or two before that can be accomplished with a modicum of safety.
Those native to the area have less trouble (aggression DOES have it's place on the highway, it seems).
So, one would think that Fort Wayne, Indiana might fare a bit better all around...and it should, provisionally-speaking.
We DO have our assortment of assholes who never pay the hell attention to things like STOP SIGNS, or RED LIGHTS.
The police radio has it's share of accidents on air, that's for sure, and they're not ALL along I-469, trust me.
We have people that somehow secure a license, and that apparently means (to them) that they can do anything with 2000+lbs of metal plastic and rubber they choose to.
Both Wifey and myself have had our share of "near-misses", and I'm okay with that (considering my penchant to pursue justice in a more "immediate sense"), but although I can certainly understand the NEED to keep one's head on a damn swivel while driving in Philly, given the size of THIS city, I shouldn't have to as much, right?
Although there are fewer people on the streets, roads and highways HERE, they are in fact, MORE prone to that bad behavior we see a lot more of in much larger cities...and that's disturbing.
Coldwater and Coliseum is a clusterf*ck in the making...been that way for years, too.
Guess that's what happens when you OVER-DEVELOP one area to the exclusion of others...no REAL "balance" in traffic flow.
My street down in the ghettohood actually has a lot more people that toss traffic rules out the damn window, and drive recklessly and with a cell-phone glued to their f$cking primate ear, than when I lived off of the major artery to the Tacony-Palmyra bridge (also a truck route). And given that most everyone ELSE (here) prefers the STREETS, instead of those wonderful "taxpayer-sponsored" PAVEMENTS to walk upon, it only exacerbates the problem.
And my street is a bloody RESIDENTIAL area!
(when it's not a damn dragstrip that isn't regularly patrolled to CATCH these morons)
Now, I'm sure this study is well-intended, but we ALL know what the "road to hell" is paved with (pun intended), right?
Still, given the relative EASE with which people who have no business driving can secure a license (and maybe insurance...for a time anyway), it's little wonder we have the issues we now face, with traffic flow, road construction (usually widening), resurfacing, and the like.
And THAT is intended to make things BETTER.
I'd have to say that Fort wayne is a LOT better than many cities I've have the (dis) pleasure to drive in, but it might be a tad high on the list for my liking.
Yet this city COULD be a lot more "user-friendly" when it comes to traffic flow in high-number areas like uptown, or even downtown.
Damn shame the city planners didn't see this coming decades ago...
*** Lastly, this is Labor day weekend, and that means getting toether with friends and family...and driving along those street and highways of the 15th best city FOR driving.
Be careful out there, and watch out for the other person, because you can bet they're NOT watching out for you.
Take your time, and plan your route...your destination will STILL be there if you arrive 10 minutes later...it honestly will.
Enjoy the day off...you working stiffs certainly EARNED it...God knows!
We'll see you back here on Monday, good Lord willing.
Have a great weekend.
Be well, make a difference to someone today, and as always...
Stay SAFE out there, America.


CWMartin said...

As I read the JG article, I KNEW what I was going to see here. To paraphrase what I've said before, if Cap'n Crunch ran against Karen Richards next time, if it were up to me the court would be awash in cereal.

Bob G. said...

And probably be a LOT tastier to boot...!
(at least easier to stomach)
I hear 'ya, my friend.

Thanks for stopping onm by todayu and commenting.
Have yourselves a safe weekend up there.
(you too, Scrappy)

Diane said...

Seeing Philly in your remarks, reminded me of a video I had seen, that was off of myfoxphilly - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qR6HJrZUtU Evidently it's starting to go to trial.

Bob G. said...

That is SOME video.
And I know that bus route.
(Rt 47, runs north on 7th st , south on 8th st.)

Typical behavior from these animals.
Urban TERRORSSIM at work here.

I say fry the lot of them...
(and be done with it)
That WAS attempted MURDER.

Yep, the police cannot be everywhere, and many don't prefer the "badlands" (N. Philly)...been that way for decades.
But WHERE is the outcry from the BLACK COMMUNITY, I wonder?

The silence speaks VOLUMES.

Thanks for the video link...and for taking time to stop on by today.

Stay safe down there.