Showing posts with label Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement. Show all posts

Feb 14, 2014

Unnamed Parties Ask Wisc Supreme Court to Stop DAs' Probe of Scott Walker/GOP Groups

The Republican Party-aligned special interests pumping $ millions into Wisconsin elections really, really do not want law enforcement to investigate possible criminality on their part.

Mary Spicuzza reports that a "pair of unnamed petitioners filed an original action with the state Supreme Court, meaning they are trying to send the matter directly to the high court instead of starting in lower courts and advancing through appeals."

The petition seeks to stop the John Doe probe looking into $10s of millions of GOP-aligned money that is being investigated after reasonable suspicion was presented to a judge that crimes have been committed.

The probe is being conducted under Wisconsin's John Doe statute, Wisconsin statute 968.26, and represents a threat to the Republican Party's project of injecting $ millions into the political system to consolidate their political power.

This action follows  a complaint in federal court filed by some of the same lawyers who drafted the Supreme Court petition, contending First and Fourteenth Amendment violations by John Doe investigators and prosecutors, including the presiding judge.

The two legal actions precede the release of 1,000s of e-mails next week by former top Scott Walker aide, Kelly Rindfleisch, convicted of a felony while employed in Walker's office.

Republicans fear the e-mail release could torpedo any presidential aspirations Scott Walker may be harboring, and labored to stop the release of the e-mails that may also pose a threat to his reelection as governor in November.

"The records in question include emails from Rindfleisch's personal computer and private email account, affidavits supporting John Doe search warrants, and a transcript of a secret hearing on search warrants issued the day before Walker was elected governor in 2010," notes Dan Bice.

Feb 12, 2014

Look for Dismissal of Club for Growth Complaint Against Law Enforcement Probe into GOP Groups

Scott Walker posed at Operation Freedom
event. Walker's personal aides stole
from this fund meant for veterans. [Note to
Scott Walker: You really want this shot on
a TV spot when you run again for office?]
Update: Wisconsin politico Xoff makes another point for likely dismissal or withdrawal: "So the Club for Growth is now suing in federal court to try to stop a John Doe investigation into whether it and other conservative groups illegally coordinated their activity with Scott Walker's campaign. They could get more than they bargained for if the now-secret Doe material is used in court to defend the Milwaukee DA's office. Interesting that there are five county DAs involved but they are only suing John Chisholm's office. Also interesting that two of the five DAs are Republicans, so it makes the claim that this is some partisan witch hunt a little hard to believe. These are bully tactics by right-wingers who think they have enough money to do whatever they want. Hope they're wrong."

Hey, Eric O'Keefe and Club for Growth, don't get so upset at us because Scott Walker appointed crooks who embezzled from veterans, and then tried to stonewall the investigation into Operation Freedom, money purportedly to be used to honor veterans and their families; not to be promptly embezzled by Scott Walker's longtime aide, Tim Russell.

Reading the complaint filed in federal court against the Wisconsin John Doe judge, prosecutors and investigators one can see that the complaint's specific items amount to little more than whining that the Club for Growth and Republicans are roundly disliked in Wisconsin, so they should be immune from the law enforcement tool known as the John Doe probe.

The heavily redacted complaint reads that District Attorney John Chisholm is a Democrat; Dean Nickel is a Democrat; and so on is a Democrat [no mention is made of the two Republican District Attorneys also conducting the probe) and Scott Walker is intensely unpopular, therefore investigating under Wisconsin's John Doe statute, Wisconsin statute 968.26, is an unconstitutional infringement of the Club for Growth and Eric O'Keefe's First and Fourteenth Amendment freedoms.

The arguments are a joke.

The complaint also asserts that the investigation into Scott Walker's Operation Freedom that found more instances of criminality that led to other criminal convictions and the probe's broadening "exponentially," [the Club for Growth really should look up that word as it does not apply here and federal court is not the forum for hyperbole], even "breathtakingly broad."

That's pretty broad, but it should be noted the John Doe probe gathered evidence and testimony that led to six people being criminally convicted with no claims of innocence on their part.

No argument is made that the John Doe statute has been procedurally implemented in an unsound manner, other the unsupported political assertion that the "Milwaukee County Attorney's [sic] Office Is Biased Against Walker and the Budget Repair Bill (of 2011)."

The complaint is more a long op-ed screed than a complaint in federal court.

Look for the complaint to get tossed even by the like of Federalist Society hack, Rudoph Randa.

And by the way, if evidence and testimony point to possible criminality and lead to new directions as probes do, under the supervision of the presiding judge the law enforcement entity in the John Doe probe can expand the scope of the investigation.

Look at the plain language of the John Doe statute:

968.26 John Doe proceeding.
(1) If a district attorney requests a judge to convene a proceeding to determine whether a crime has been committed in the court's jurisdiction, the judge shall convene a proceeding described under sub. (3) and shall subpoena and examine any witnesses the district attorney identifies. ...

Feb 11, 2014

Club for Growth Wants to Kill John Doe Probe in Complaint before Federalist Society Judge

From left to right: Felon Tim Russell, Scott Walker
and Felon Brian Pierick, Four other Walker associates
were convicted in a Wisconsin John Doe probe (2010-13).
Update III: Prediction that the Randa rules against the criminal class of Republicans now holding sway in Wisconsin was confirmed April 8, 2014. (Marley. MJS)

Update II: Today, it was reported that due to Randa's ruling a proposed settlement to rape and molestation victims announced today, "would be by far the smallest sexual abuse settlement in any Catholic Church bankruptcy of this size filed to date." Nice job, Rudolph Randa, you protected sexual predators and screwed their vicitms.

Update: Reader notes Federalist Society Judge Rudolph T. Randa made news by fronting for the Milwaukee child-molesting set in ruling for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in a bankruptcy case in July 2013, insulating $50 million in the process, and failed to disclose his connection to the archdiocese. See also Judge Randa Is Asked by Creditors of Archdiocese to Leave Case (Goodstein. NYT).

When is a law and its implementation by law enforcement unconstitutional?

When it's used to determine if and when crimes have been committed by Republicans, who now-a-days see themselves as above and beyond the reach of Wisconsin statutes, aka the law.

So contends Wisconsin Club for Growth (WCG) and WCG's Eric O'Keefe who evidently do not like Wisconsin's John Doe statute, Wisconsin statute 968.26, and call for its implementation and perhaps its existence to be stuck down as unconstitutional in a complaint filed in federal court this week.

WCG is hoping Senior U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa will agree.

Randa is a judicial rightwinger who as recently as February 21, 2013 was listed as an advisor to the rightest Milwaukee Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Studies.

The Federalist Society advocates a roll back of civil rights, reproductive choice, and civil liberties under the rubric of what they claim is a valid approach of textual originalism to constitutional interpretation. (See Richard Posner for a scathing review of this "gotcha jurisprudence.")

Randa is the judge who sent an innocent Georgia Thompson to prison, a ludicrous affair later overturned in an extraordinary decision in oral arguments before a panel of the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Randa is listed along with other activist rightwingers as Federalist Society Members, including the following:  Ken Starr, Theodore Olson, Edwin Meese, Robert Bork, Antonin Scalia, Alex Kozinski, Ann Coulter, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Randy Barnett, Samuel Alito, Troy Eid, Hugo Teufel III, Charles Fried, Richard Allen Epstein, Priscilla Owen, Spencer Abraham, Edith Brown Clement, Rudolph T. Randa, William H. Pryor, Jr., Diane S. Sykes, David M. McIntosh, Maura D. Corrigan, C. Boyden Gray, John Sitilides, David Schizer, Jeff Ballabon, Roger Pilon, Nilda Pedrosa, Charlie Korsmo, Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz, Stephen Bainbridge, Michael I. Krauss, Holly Coors, Don Wagner, Steven G. Calabresi.

The Wisconsin John Doe statute is a law enforcement tool used to determine the existence of criminality when for example conflicts of interests, stonewalling (as in John Doe One that found multiple felonies and misdemeanors in Scott Walker tenure of Milwaukee County Executive), practical difficulties and concern for the good name of innocent citizens mandate launching a John Doe probe after approval by a judge, administered by district attorneys, their agents and a supervising judge.

But the Wisconsin Club for Growth and other Wisconsin rightwingers object again today.

They continuously blasted the first John Doe probe that netted six criminal convictions of Scott Walker appointees, top staff members, and associates. No retractions from the rightwing exist about their smears of John Doe jurists and no claims of innocence exist on record from any of Walker's allies.

Now, WCG and O'Keefe have filed a complaint in federal court contending First and Fourteenth Amendment violations by John Doe investigators and prosecutors, including the presiding judge.

The complaint offers a bizarre history of Scott Walker's tenure and essentially a political editorial that WCG does not like progressives. The complaint also references the federal Citizens United decision as part of its argument that the probe is unconstitutional.

As noted by Jason Stein and Patrick Marley of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the named "defendants in Monday's suit are Reserve Judge Gregory A. Peterson, who is overseeing the investigation; special prosecutor Francis Schmitz; Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm; Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf; Assistant District Attorney David Robles; and investigator Dean Nickel."

Attorney Marcus J. Berghahn offers an instructive research memo on Wisconsin's John Doe statute in which he writes in part:
 Unlike normal criminal proceedings, which can be initiated if there is probable cause to believe a person has violated the law, John Doe proceedings help law enforcement develop the evidence necessary to establish the very existence of probable cause.

If a district attorney requests a judge to convene a proceeding to determine whether a crime has been committed in the court's jurisdiction, the judge shall convene a proceeding," says Wisconsin's John Doe statute. ...

(T)he proceedings are also designed to protect innocent citizens from the fallout of frivolous prosecutions. [See State ex rel. Reimann v. Cir. Ct., 214 Wis. 2d 605, 621, 571 N.W.2d 385, 390 (1997)]

As the Wisconsin Supreme Court stated in 1889: 'When [the John Doe] statute was first enacted the common-law practice was for the magistrate to issue the warrant on a complaint of mere suspicion, and he was protected in doing so. This was found to be a very unsafe practice. Many arrests were made on groundless suspicion, when the accused were innocent of the crime and there was no testimony whatever against them. This statute was made to protect citizens from arrest and imprisonment on frivolous and groundless suspicion." [State ex rel. Long v. Keyes, 75 Wis. 288, 294-95, 44 N.W. 13, 15 (1889).]
The complaint, if not dismissed, will offer a test on whether Randa wants to go out as a jurist committed to the rule of law or a rightwing hack posing as an impartial judge.

My own reading here is that the complaint is a distraction and stalling tactic meant to buy time for Scott Walker's reelection bid in November.

On February 19, many papers and e-mails concerning the criminal conviction of former Walker aide, Kelly Rindfleisch (aka Multiple Kelly), will become public.

Rindfleisch is another Walker aide convicted in the last John Doe probe, but the resulting political embarrassment of criminality in Walker's office will not be decreased by stalling the current John Doe probe, though the mounds of information coming from Scott Walker's former office will offer a nice introduction to the country of who Scott Walker is.

As for the current John Doe, since when do federal judges get to declare law enforcement investigations unconstitutional just because the subject matter involves possible criminality by Republicans?

I would not bet on a favorable ruling on this complaint for the criminal class of Republicans now holding sway in Wisconsin.

Too much of a stink would result, and the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit is not exactly staffed by dummies, Diane Sykes notwithstanding.

Jan 16, 2014

Scott Walker and One Marine

Disposable Humans - Eugene Higgens
Update: Readers wishing to help this Marine can follow this link.

"I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice."
- Abraham Lincoln, address in Washington D.C., 1865

Eric Pizer is a decorated combat Marine (2000-2004) from southwestern Wisconsin, He chose the Marines out of idealism and a commitment to serve.

Now, Pizer lives in Madison. After completing an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice he wants to serve with the Madison Police Department, back home from two tours in Iraq, safe with his wife and two kids.

Pizer's dedication to his unit in combat—a commitment honed to degree most of us will never attain—makes Pizer an ideal candidate to join the Madison Police.

Two obstacles stand in Pizer's way: Grant County (Wisconsin) District Attorney Lisa Riniker and Asst DA Anthony Pozorski (to be candid, rogue jurists and hopeless dolts ) and Gov. Scott Walker.

This is because Pizer, two days after his return from to Boscobel, Wisconsin, was ludicrously charged with criminal assault one evening, and was then represented by an attorney who should have proven that Pizer lawfully engaged in crime prevention. Poor attorneys are common; and so are obtuse district attorneys. 

Eric Pizers are rare.

Here's a summary from Pardon Eric Pizer:
Two days after his return from Iraq, Eric was on leave back in Wisconsin and he and two friends from high school went to Boscobel (Wisconsin) to visit the cousin of one of the friends. Together they went to a local bar to play pool. One of the friends became friendly with a woman the cousin knew and she returned with them to the cousin’s house to play cards. The woman’s husband and a friend of his then appeared at the house shortly after midnight and he and his friend aggressively threatened Eric and his friend. When they would not stop the aggressive behavior and the husband suddenly approached Eric from the side, Eric reacted and struck him once, breaking his nose.

That is the size of the felony "crime" that now prevents Pizer from serving as Madison Police Officer.

Pizer needs a pardon from Scott Walker, or a stipulation from the Grant County District Atty vacating this felony to which Pizer's past attorney foolishly advised a no contest plea.

The problem with Scott Walker is his bizarre and stubborn refusal to grant pardons—inexplicable; though the five Wisconsin governors prior to Walker issued more than 800 pardons combined.

Only Scott Walker has the power to to grant pardons.

Wisconsin Constitution [Article 5, (Section 6)] Pardoning power - "The governor shall have power to grant reprieves, commutations and pardons, after conviction, for all offenses, except treason and cases of impeachment, upon such conditions and with such restrictions and limitations as he may think proper ... He shall annually communicate to the legislature each case of reprieve, commutation or pardon granted, stating the name of the convict, the crime of which he was convicted, the sentence and its date, and the date of the commutation, pardon or reprieve, with his reasons for granting the same."

The point of this citation of the Wisconsin Constitution is to alert readers to an injustice, and get folks to act.

Eric Pizer wants to serve and protect with the Madison Police, we need him.
I think Eric Pizer is wrongfully convicted and in any event deserves justice, specifically a pardon.

Back in the 19th century, in England no less, correcting an injustice inflicted by the judiciary was seen as a moral imperative:

"There is no safe path for judges to tread but to ascertain the law to the best of their ability and to declare it according to their judgment; and if in any case the law appears to be too severe on individuals, to leave it to the Sovereign to exercise that prerogative of mercy which the Constitution has intrusted to the hands of the fittest to dispense it."
- 14 Q.B.D 273 (1884)
The "prerogative of mercy," don't turn away from this one, Governor Walker.

Dec 20, 2013

Wrongfully Convicted: Innocent Green Bay Cop Was Prosecuted by Felon, Joe Paulus

Green Bay ex-cop, John Maloney was
wrongfully prosecuted by a Wisconsin DA
who later was convicted on federal corruption
and bribery charges. Maloney still is incarcerated
after 12 outside experts unequivocally said
there was no crime, and after former DA
Paulus admitted Paulus fixed 22 crimes and civil
violations for money in a blatant corruption of office.

John Maloney - Deplorable Lack of Evidence That Convicted and Imprisoned an Innocent Man for Life

Here's a quick overview taken from John Maloney's site.

Corrupt prosecutors and Wisconsin DoJ investigators tried to claim that a respected Green Bay police officer killed his wife by pouring a bottle of vodka in front of where his alcoholic wife (diagnosed at the Mayo Clinic with Arnold-Chiari Malformation (ACM)) who had a bad drug problem was found dead in 1998.

No evidence, no problem.

Not when the prosecution is corrupt and criminal—DoJ investigators Kim Skorlinski, Greg Eggum; and former Winnebago District Attorney and convicted felon, Joe Paulus (whereabouts unknown), and his former second chair, Vince Biskupic (resigned after misconduct), twisted facts and portrayed sex insinuating through the trial there was something evil at every turn in this rightwing community.

There was, in fact, no murder and no arson.

Mrs. Maloney died of an overdose of alcohol (and likely many of he drugs she favored) and the fire started when she dropped her lit cigarette (as she often did) into the sofa cushion as she lost consciousness.

John Zakowski was Brown County DA at the time Sandy Maloney died, and he appointed his good buddy and future felon, Joe Paulus, as special prosecutor.

Yeah, Joe Paulus, with his zealous commitment to truth, is unshakable.

Zaworski is now a Brown County judge who worked with Attorney General Van Hollen in 2011 on the expansion of the state's election fraud task force, a GOP obsession that claims massive felony crimes though not one case of in-person voter fraud has been prosecuted out of tens of millions of votes casts in Wisconsin.

It never occurred to these people—Paulus, Van Hollen, Biskupic, Zaworski, and DoJ former investigators, Skorlinski and Eggum—that convicting and incarcerating an innocent man is a crime, an imprecation against humanity.
Mayo Clinic diagnosed Arnold-Chiari Malformation (ACM) - See more at: wife was found dead.

Over a dozen outside experts unequivocally say no
Over a dozen outside experts unequivocally said there was no crime in the John Maloney case, but the trial and appellate attorney did not mention these facts.

"Flawed forensics may have played a part in the conviction of former Green Bay police officer John Maloney, who is serving a life sentence for the fatal 1998 fire that killed his estranged wife, Sandra. The state alleged Maloney, a fire investigator for the Green Bay Police Department, set the blaze by pouring vodka on the floor in front of the couch where his wife was found," notes Dee Hall, (Wisconsin State Journal; May 18, 2011)

After Maloney's conviction, James Munger, a prominent fire investigator and former Alabama deputy state fire marshal, tried to re-create the scenario using the same type of carpeting. But it didn't work: Vodka is mostly water, and it failed to ignite for more than a few seconds.

A criminal defendant enjoys the presumption of innocence. The prosecution must prove its allegations at trial beyond a reasonable doubt.

Not in Winnebago County. Not in Brown County.

John Maloney, a veteran cop in Green Bay never thought he could become the target of the justice system in which he placed so much faith. When his estranged, addicted wife, Sandy, was found dead in her fire-damaged home, John learned how swiftly he could be convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Fire investigator Munger said the case against Officer Maloney is based on "junk science."

You want to know how junk science kills innocents when no rigor is used to convict an innocent man? Read David Grann's Trial by Fire. The state of Texas killed an innocent man, and bragged about it.

Junk science, that's the standard we use against police when corrupt prosecutors conspire, that would be Winnebago County DA Joe Paulus and his loyal deputy, Vince Biskupic.

District Attorney and his Deputy DA, Vince Biskupic are a piece of work—Winnebago County DA Joe Paulus (who served as DA from 1988 to 2002, until Paulus lost reelection and was convicted on federal charges of misconduct in public office and conspiracy to obstruct justice), and Deputy DA Vince Biskupic: "Winnebago County District Attorney Joe Paulus was convicted and served six years in federal prison after admitting to state and federal charges that he fixed 22 criminal and traffic cases in exchange for bribes," notes Jennifer K. Woldt in the Oshkosh Northwestern, July 13, 2013.

No one, and I mean no one in Oshkosh believes that number of malicious and corrupt prosecutions stops at 22.

But writer Woldt's piece cited above does not even focus on Paulus, its subject is Paulus' Deputy DA Vince Biskupic, and his cases are being overturned as innocent people are finally being ordered freed after the Paulus-Biskupic prosecutions are examined.

Biskupic came from the same pit of slime as Paulus, using jailhouse informers, incentivized testimony, withholding exculpatory evidence, and conspiring with Paulus to convict innocents in exchange for money.

Paulus, according to a October 2008 report: "With credit for good behavior, the former Winnebago County district attorney is expected to be released from a federal prison camp in Pensacola, Fla. on Nov. 15. He was sentenced to 58 months in his 2004 bribery case. Paulus was convicted of taking $48,000 in kickbacks from a defense attorney in exchange for reducing charges in 22 cases. ... Paulus still must serve a 2-year sentence on state charges of obstruction of justice and misconduct in office."

Paulus' lackey, Biskupic, today is a member of the Wisconsin Bar in good standing, working out of an office in Appleton.

Let's hope
John Maloney gets a new trial because that trial would be a slamdunk.

On April 22, 1999 John Maloney was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years

Sandra Maloney died the night before the final hearing of the divorce petition her husband.
For some unknown reason -- a real suicide attempt, or a call for help --
Sandy strung up an electrical extension cord like a noose in her basement
From the Case Files:

Sandra Maloney died the night before the final hearing of the divorce petition her husband, John, had filed.  She had lost custody of her children and could only see them in a public place, under supervision of a third party.  Her boyfriend had broken up with her because of her drinking, and he wouldn't even take her calls.  Her days consisted of drinking, smoking cigarettes and, when she could get them, taking prescription medications like clonazepam.  Sandy wrote suicide notes and left them around the house.  She also left cigarettes to burn on furniture and counter tops, even when an ashtray was adjacent.  For some unknown reason -- a real suicide attempt, or a call for help -- Sandy strung up an electrical extension cord like a noose in her basement. 

Eager to turn Sandy's death into murder and the fire into arson -- and to convict a cop of both crimes -- the Wisconsin Dept. of Justice criminal investigators, Kim Skorlinski and Greg Eggum, and then prosecutor Joe Paulus and his second chair, Vince Biskupic, twisted facts and injected sex at every turn.

According to them, Tracy was about to leave John -- with whom she had just signed a one-year lease on a rental house -- because his divorce was taking too long.  So during the same 30-minute "window of opportunity" when John was building bunk beds, he drove to Sandy's house, forced his way in, argued with her about showing up for the divorce hearing, hit her, strangled her, then took off her shirt and placed it in the clothes hamper in the basement.  Then John lit and power smoked a pack of cigarettes, leaving them to burn down all over the house, poured 80-proof vodka on a towel, laid one end on the sofa where Sandy's body was located and set the other end on fire.  After all that, he locked the storm door from the outside with a key he disposed of somewhere along the line, and arrived home before anyone missed him.

Tracy became the prosecution's best helper, especially after Joe Paulus told her it was going to be John or her, and he didn't care which one he convicted.  She starred in hour after hour after hour of hidden videotaping, in Green Bay, Madison and, finally, Las Vegas. And once John was charged, it was confirmed that the secret tapes were studded with a flow of expletives and slightly off-camera sex acts between the two.

The public in general and the jury in particular ate up the scandal-sheet spin.  Jurors watched intently, trying to figure out when they were doing "it" and what exactly they were doing when they did "it."  Joe Paulus was so persuasive that he convinced jurors that they saw things that simply were not on the video.

And where was the great defense attorney, Gerald Boyle, during all this?  There was more than enough evidence that no crimes had occurred in the first place, but no one heard about that from him.  Forensic experts cost too much, and he was "desperate for money" back then, so he didn't hire any.  He prosecuted Tracy,  And tried to cut a movie deal, but that was actually for himself, for the money.  And when John was convicted, Gerald Boyle filed the appeal, thus framing the issues.

What Gerald Boyle didn't let slip by failing to preserve at trial, he waived in the appeal. 

Timeline and Attorney Gerald Boyle

It the same time Joe Paulus and the DCI investigators were building a timeline to support their theory that John had a window of opportunity in which he could have killed Sandy and set fire to her house, another timeline was building in the background.  It was a simple and deeply disturbing timeline that no judge or jury would review. It supports a reasonable and legitimate inference that the special prosecutor, Tracy’s attorney and John’s attorney conspired to frame John Maloney for Sandy’s death.

  •   May 2, 1998:  Tracy retains Steve Kohn to represent her regarding Sandy’s death.
  •  May 8, 1998:  At Tracy’s insistence and on her lawyer’s recommendation, John phones Gerald Boyle, Kohn's former boss, and retains Boyle to represent him regarding Sandy’s death.
  •  May 16, 1998:  John, along with Tracy, meets in person with his lawyer and pays a retainer. Tracy’s behavior is bizarre.  Boyle says Tracy is the one person John can trust.
  • June 2, 1998:  Paulus and Kohn have sketched out a “use immunity” agreement in exchange for Tracy’s “cooperation”; Paulus gives S/A Skorlinski a list of Tracy’s records to be turned over by the IRS.
  • June 8, 1998:  Tracy’s “use immunity” agreement is formalized, and she agrees to participate in one party “surveillance” taping to elicit a confession from John.
And why would John's own lawyer throw his client under a bus?  Money.

In 1997, Gerald Boyle borrowed $400,000 at high interest from a venture capitalist to finance a high profile case that he won at trial but lost on appeal.  By 1998, paying off the loan had become a huge problem.  Boyle later testified that, during this time, he was "desperate for money."

Joe Paulus, already a Republican golden boy for his extreme conservative views, believed that getting the state's first conviction of a police officer for first degree murder would enhance his chance for appointment as U.S. Attorney.

From 1998 through 2000--roughly the same time period that Gerald Boyle represented John--Joe Paulus took bribes to fix criminal cases prosecuted by his office.  The bribes totaled $50,000.

Paulus lost the Republican primary for re-election in 2002, after it was revealed that he participated in sexual hijinks in his office, during office hours.

When Paulus couldn't find another job, Gerald Boyle took him in as a partner, renaming the practice "Boyle, Boyle and Paulus," and specifically telling the Maloney family, at a press conference, "Go to hell."

In 2004, Joe Paulus was charged in federal court with taking bribes to fix cases and evading taxes.  He was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison.  The State of Wisconsin conducted its own investigation, gave Paulus immunity from prosecution in exchange for "honest answers" to its questions and limited his jail exposure to 18 months, which he served in the federal system.

The Maloney case is one of 22 cases identified by local prosecutors as potential wrongful convictions.  The record of the state's investigation is sealed, and no action has been taken in those 22 cases.  Paulus never publicly disclosed what he did with the money.

On Vodka

Independent experts have reviewed this case, pro bono, and agree that there was no murder, no arson.  But none of the real evidence has been heard by any court.

A 2006 series by reporter Dee Hall of the Wisconsin State Journal took a closer look at the scientific foundation for the state's claim that the Maloney fire was arson -- a claim the state has vigorously refused to re-examine.  - See more at:
Independent experts have reviewed this case, pro bono, and agree that there was no murder, no arson.  But none of the real evidence has been heard by any court.

A 2006 series by reporter Dee Hall of the Wisconsin State Journal took a closer look at the scientific foundation for the state's claim that the Maloney fire was arson -- a claim the state [under a Wisconsin GOP attorney general) has vigorously refused to re-examine.
Independent experts have reviewed this case, pro bono, and agree that there was no murder, no arson.  But none of the real evidence has been heard by any court.

A 2006 series by reporter Dee Hall of the Wisconsin State Journal took a closer look at the scientific foundation for the state's claim that the Maloney fire was arson -- a claim the state has vigorously refused to re-examine.  - See more at:

Jan 23, 2013

Christian Stork: Aaron Swartz' Prosecutors Employ Outrageous Bullying Tactics as SOP

Update III: From Bradley Manning to Aaron Swartz -- The Government's Inhumane Persecution of Brave Truth Tellers

Update II: Anonymous Takes Over Sentencing Commission Website

Update: "In my view, the Aaron Swartz prosecution is very typical of the Justice Department's policy of going after people in such a big way that the point is not necessarily to prosecute them, but it is to destroy them personally." See John Kiriakou Hopes Aaron Swartz's Death Sparks Discussion of Prosecutorial Overreach.

Christian Stork has a great follow-up on the Aaron Swartz suicide following the crusade against him by the local US attorney's office.

The US attorney in question, Carmen Ortiz, likely is no fan of Robert H. Jackson, who warned against this type of abuse of process by US attorneys in a famous address in 1940.

"Any prosecutor who risks his day-to-day professional name for fair dealing to build up statistics of success has a perverted sense of practical values, as well as defects of character. Whether one seeks promotion to a judgeship, as many prosecutors rightly do, or whether he returns to private practice, he can have no better asset than to have his profession recognize that his attitude toward those who feel his power has been dispassionate, reasonable and just," said Attorney General Robert H. Jackson, April 1, 1940.

Ortiz is a politically ambitious hack; using the power of office with no apparent conception for the consequences other than her own advancement.

Jan 17, 2013

Holding Prosecutors Accountable in Killing of Aaron Swartz

Update: US Atty Ortiz issues statement. Turley: "the statement is at best misleading and at worse intentionally deceptive."

"There's a reason former Senator Russ Feingold is a college professor whereas former Senator Chris Dodd is now a multi-millionaire. There's a reason DOJ officials do not go after bankers who illegally foreclose, and then get jobs as partners in white collar criminal defense. There's a reason no one has been held accountable for decisions leading to the financial crisis, or the war in Iraq." - Matt Stoller
When prosecutors become overzelaous careerists or corrupt partisans, injustice follows. Most prosecutors are careerists or corrupt partisans.

In Wisconsin, who can forget Bush-Cheney-Rove's US Attorney Steven Biskupic and his reign of terror against innocent defendants?

Well, most everyone.

Our country buries corruption, especially in the judicial branch of govenment where ignorance pervades the American political culture.

Now, we have a moment that can shake the political system.

After being literally 'hounded' to death by the US Attorney's office, 26-year-old Aaron Swartz' suicide should spell the end of the careers of prosecutors—Masachusetts' U.S. attorney Carmen Ortiz and assistant US attorney Stephen Heymann—who are guilty of killing this brilliant young man who worked for free to better our society. But let's be clear: The US government killed Aaron Swartz.

And this death ought to shine a light on what is routine: Use of the prosecutors' office for political retribution and careerism, justice be damned. "The more savage the penalties prosecutors can threaten, the more likely the defendant (guilty or innocent) is to speed things along by pleading guilty and accepting a light penalty," writes Clive Crook in The Atlantic.

Notes Scott Horton in Harper's Magazine. "A petition has now been launched requesting that President Obama remove U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz over her actions in the Swartz case."

There is in this tragic injustice a window for some manner of reflection, and some measure of reform on the what prosecutors are doing to our families.

Ortiz and assistant US attorney Heymann, for their part, should be banned from the legal profession and face disgrace.

Writes Glenn Greenwald:

 [I]t is imperative that there be serious investigations about what took place here and meaningful consequences for this prosecutorial abuse, at least including firing. It is equally crucial that there be reform of the criminal laws and practices that enable this to take place in so many other cases and contexts. ...

This is not just prosecutorial abuse. It's broader than that. It's all part and parcel of the exploitation of law and the justice system to entrench those in power and shield themselves from meaningful dissent and challenge by making everyone petrified of the consequences of doing anything other than meekly submitting to the status quo. As another of Swartz's friends, Matt Stoller, wrote in an equally compelling essay:

What killed him was corruption. Corruption isn't just people profiting from betraying the public interest. It's also people being punished for upholding the public interest. In our institutions of power, when you do the right thing and challenge abusive power, you end up destroying a job prospect, an economic opportunity, a political or social connection, or an opportunity for media. Or if you are truly dangerous and brilliantly subversive, as Aaron was, you are bankrupted and destroyed. There's a reason whistleblowers get fired. There's a reason Bradley Manning is in jail. There's a reason the only CIA official who has gone to jail for torture is the person – John Kiriakou - who told the world it was going on. There's a reason those who destroyed the financial system 'dine at the White House', as Lawrence Lessig put it.

There's a reason former Senator Russ Feingold is a college professor whereas former Senator Chris Dodd is now a multi-millionaire. There's a reason DOJ officials do not go after bankers who illegally foreclose, and then get jobs as partners in white collar criminal defense. There's a reason no one has been held accountable for decisions leading to the financial crisis, or the war in Iraq.

This reason is the modern ethic in American society that defines success as climbing up the ladder, consequences be damned. Corrupt self-interest, when it goes systemwide, demands that it protect rentiers from people like Aaron, that it intimidate, co-opt, humiliate, fire, destroy, and/or bankrupt those who stand for justice.
In most of what I've written and spoken about over the past several years, this is probably the overarching point: the abuse of state power, the systematic violation of civil liberties, is about creating a Climate of Fear, one that is geared toward entrenching the power and position of elites by intimidating the rest of society from meaningful challenges and dissent. There is a particular overzealousness when it comes to internet activism because the internet is one of the few weapons - perhaps the only one - that can be effectively harnessed to galvanize movements and challenge the prevailing order. That's why so much effort is devoted to destroying the ability to use it anonymously - the Surveillance State - and why there is so much effort to punishing as virtual Terrorists anyone like Swartz who uses it for political activism or dissent.

The law and prosecutorial power should not be abused to crush and destroy those who commit the "crime" of engaging in activism and dissent against the acts of elites. Nobody contests the propriety of charging Swartz with some crime for what he did. Civil disobedience is supposed to have consequences. The issue is that he was punished completely out of proportion to what he did, for ends that have nothing to do with the proper administration of justice. That has consequences far beyond his case, and simply cannot be tolerated.

Jan 14, 2013

U.S. Atty Drives Brilliant Net Freedom Activist to Suicide

Update II: See Freedom to Connect: Aaron Swartz (1986-2013) on Victory to Save Open Internet; Fight Online Censors; and

Update: An Open Letter to Aaron Swartz's Prosecutor: 'His Supporters Find You Guilty.'

'This sort of unrestrained prosecutorial abuse is, unfortunately, far from uncommon. It usually destroys people without attention or notice'

Here we have yet another example of a U.S. attorney, Carmen Ortiz, playing with the power of this office with the all the thought of a loose cannon.

Now, Aaron Swartz is dead.

One crime in which both major American political parties do share equal blame is the indiscriminate use of the prosecutor's office (local and national) in creating what Glenn C. Loury terms the current American prison system which has become "a leviathan unmatched in human history."

Some years ago, back in the Bush-Cheney years, a UW-Madison professor told me most US attorneys and district attorneys ought to be sentenced to reading the great American jurist, Robert H. Jackson, and his work on prosecutorial discretion.

Here is the petition to President Obama to remove United States District Attorney Carmen Ortiz from office for overreach in the case of Aaron Swartz.

Ortiz, United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, threw the book at Swartz for downloading academic articles from a for-profit outfit called JSTOR ["an online publishing company that digitizes and distributes scholarly articles written by academics and then sells them," (Greenwald)]. That's it.

Swartz was an authorized user of JSTOR because he was a Harvard fellow.

JSTOR asked the US atty's office not to prosecute.

So, in rides U.S. attorney Carmen Ortiz anyway with a ridiculous indictment against a former prodigy intent on helping the world.

"For Aaron Swartz, the act of sharing was a 'moral imperative.' In his Guerilla Open Access Manifesto, released to the Web in July 2008, he specifically targeted the 'world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage,' which he said 'is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations.' Swartz called for those with access to such knowledge to make it available to others,' writes Andrew Leonard in Salon.

Glenn Greenwald has more details on the repulsive affair.

But in July 2011, Swartz was arrested for allegedly targeting JSTOR, the online publishing company that digitizes and distributes scholarly articles written by academics and then sells them, often at a high price, to subscribers. As Maria Bustillos detailed, none of the money goes to the actual writers (usually professors) who wrote the scholarly articles - they are usually not paid for writing them - but instead goes to the publishers.

This system offended Swartz (and many other free-data activists) for two reasons: it charged large fees for access to these articles but did not compensate the authors, and worse, it ensured that huge numbers of people are denied access to the scholarship produced by America's colleges and universities. The indictment filed against Swartz alleged that he used his access as a Harvard fellow to the JSTOR system to download millions of articles with the intent to distribute them online for free; when he was detected and his access was cut off, the indictment claims he then trespassed into an MIT computer-wiring closet in order to physically download the data directly onto his laptop.

Swartz never distributed any of these downloaded articles. He never intended to profit even a single penny from anything he did, and never did profit in any way. He had every right to download the articles as an authorized JSTOR user; at worst, he intended to violate the company's "terms of service" by making the articles available to the public. Once arrested, he returned all copies of everything he downloaded and vowed not to use them. JSTOR told federal prosecutors that it had no intent to see him prosecuted, though MIT remained ambiguous about its wishes.

But federal prosecutors ignored the wishes of the alleged "victims". Led by a federal prosecutor in Boston notorious for her overzealous prosecutions, the DOJ threw the book at him, charging Swartz with multiple felonies which carried a total sentence of several decades in prison and $1 million in fines. ...

I always found it genuinely inspiring to watch Swartz exude this courage and commitment at such a young age. His death had better prompt some serious examination of the DOJ's behavior - both in his case and its warped administration of justice generally. But his death will also hopefully strengthen the inspirational effects of thinking about and understanding the extraordinary acts he undertook in his short life. ... From the official statement of Swartz's family: "Aaron's death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach. Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts US Attorney's office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney's office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims. Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron and its own community's most cherished principles."

This sort of unrestrained prosecutorial abuse is, unfortunately, far from uncommon. It usually destroys people without attention or notice. Let's hope - and work to ensure that - the attention generated by Swartz's case prompts some movement toward accountability and reform.