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Cosby Mistrial: The Right Call

The Judge declared a mistrial in the Bill Cosby trial today. I think it was the right call, given the inconsistencies in the accuser's testimony:

The defense seized on inconsistencies in the version of events Ms. Constand gave when she went to the police the next year, and statements she made later on: She said the assault took place in March 2004, after dinner at a restaurant, then said it occurred earlier, unconnected to the restaurant outing; she said the incident had been the first time she had been alone with Mr. Cosby in his home, then said it was the third time, and that she had rebuffed his sexual advances the first two times; she said she had minimal communication with him after the incident, then acknowledged many contacts.

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Bill Cosby Jury Says They Are Deadlocked

Bill Cosby's jury told the judge today they are deadlocked. He told them to keep deliberating, and gave the Allen (dynamite) charge.

I just heard a recap from CNN's reporter and I can certainly understand why the jury hung. From CNN (no link due to autoplay video):

The jury -- which has deliberated for about 31 hours in all -- is made up of four white women, six white men, one black woman and one black man. They were bused in from Allegheny County near Pittsburgh and have been sequestered in a hotel for the trial.

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Schapelle Corby Goes Home to Australia

12 years after a court in Bali found her guilty of importing 4 kilos of pot into Indonesia, a charge she has always denied, Schapelle Corby is going home.

On October 8, 2004, Schapelle Corby, traveled with her half-brother and two friends from Brisbane, Australia to Bali. They were going on a holiday, to visit their sister Mercedes, who lived in Bali and was turning 30. She checked her boogie board as oversized luggage at the airport in Brisbane. It was not weighed. The flight stopped in Sydney, and then went on to Bali. Going through customs, the bag seemed heavy and police opened it. There was 4.1 kilos of pot inside. Schapelle acknowledged the boogie board and bag were hers. She denied knowing there was pot in it, and had no idea how it got there.

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Anthony Wiener Pleads Guilty

Anthony Weiner pleaded guilty today to transferring obscene material to a minor.

DOJ's press release is here. He pleaded to an Information, before indictment. The parties estimate his guidelines to be 21 to 27 months. He gave up his right to appeal a sentence within that range.

He was released on bond pending sentencing. He also has to forfeit his iPhone.

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El Chapo: The Non-Daughter and Non-Lawyer

How annoying for El Chapo's wife Emma and El Chapo that this young woman keeps showing up at court appearances claiming to be El Chapo's daughter and talking to media about how she misses her dad, when the family says he doesn't recognize her and has never lived with her or spent time with her. Her birth certificate shows someone else as her father. El Chapo has denied he's her father. She's been around a while with her claims, many of which have been proven false. Could she be a daughter of El Chapo? Yes. Could she be one that has spent time with him or anyone in the family and is recognized by him? Unlikely, given the number of El Chapo's close relatives who deny it.

Another person not to give credence to: José Luis González Meza, 73 year old histrionic activist-lawyer from Mexico who attends court appearances gets himself on the media with things like asking Trump to send El Chapo back to Mexico. He does not represent El Chapo. [More...]

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El Chapo Trial Set for April, 2018

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman-Loera returned to court today. A trial date was set for April, 2018. A "Cuercio" hearing was held about a potential conflict of interest due to the federal defenders having briefly represented some of the witnesses against El Chapo. He waived any potential conflict and said he is happy with his federal defenders. His wife, whom he has not been permitted to visit with, was in court.

Yesterday the Judge ruled on his challenge to the conditions of his confinement (the 18 page order is available here).

Essentially, the order upholds the Government's SAMS. One exception is that El Chapo will be allowed to send pre-screened messages to his wife, both about his choice of counsel and any assets from which lawyers can be paid, and about personal matters. The messages will be screened by a variety of agencies, from Homeland Security to the DEA to "firewall counsel" (prosecutors not on the current prosecution team.) [More...]

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Ted Cruz: All Hat, No Cattle, Again

Ted Cruz is hardly the first to propose using forfeited assets from Mexican drug traffickers to pay for a border wall. In February, Rep. James Sensebrenner introduced H.R. 1067: Build up Illegal Line Defenses with Assets Lawfully Lifted Act of 2017, aka the "Build Act." You can read it here. (It's gone nowhere, and Sensenbrenner seems to have pulled his news release on it from his website.)

Despite being unoriginal, Ted Cruz' "El Chapo Act" will not get a border wall built, even in the unlikely event it passes Congress.

First, El Chapo is facing a criminal, not civil forfeiture. Before anything can be criminally forfeited, a criminal conviction is required. Unless El Chapo pleads guilty (and why would he since he's likely to get the same life sentence handed down last month to Alfredo Beltran-Leyva who also pleaded guilty) a conviction will take a year or two or more. If he loses and appeals, the conviction and judgment aren't final until the appeals are over. No money could be distributed or spent before then.

Second, there isn't any evidence El Chapo has money or property in the U.S. If his assets are in Mexico, the U.S. can't get its hands on it without Mexico's agreement. There's a treaty on the topic.

Why would Mexico agree to let the U.S. have El Chapo's assets to be used for a border wall when it doesn't want a wall? [More...]

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Hector Beltran-Levya: Protection Against Extradition (For Now)

The Beltran-Leyvas have been at war with El Chapo and the Sinaloa Cartel since 2008 when Alfredo Beltran-Leyva was arrested and his brother Arturo (the leader of their group) blamed El Chapo. Arturo was gunned down by police in 2009. Another brother Carlos was arrested in 2010. Alfredo was extradited to the District of Columbia in 2014, where in 2016, he pleaded guilty without a plea agreement. Last week, he was sentenced to life in prison.

The last remaining brother is Hector Beltran-Leyva. He was arrested at a restaurant in San Miguel Allende in 2014. Although he has many cases opened against him in Mexico (29 according to some reports), a court favorably ruled on a U.S. request for his extradition in August, 2016. He is charged in the District of Colombia (separately from his brother) and the Eastern District of New York. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) approved the extradition on September 26, 2016. Not surprisingly, Hector appealed.

Yesterday, an appeals court in Mexico granted Hector protection against the extradition order and sent the case back to the trial court. Why? [More...]

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"Mike the Situation" Charged With New Federal Tax Crimes

Mike Sorrentino, aka "Mike the Situation", who played himself on the MTV reality show Jersey Shore, and his brother Marc were indicted for tax crimes in 2014 in New Jersey. Today, a Superseding Indictment was returned charging him and his brother with additional crimes.

From the DOJ Press Release which notes that an Indictment is just an accusation: [More...]

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Convicted Bridgegate Defendants Sentenced to Prison

As New Jersey Governor Chris Christie re-emerged on the national stage yesterday as part of Trump's new heroin task force, his former aide, Bridget Kelley, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for her part in Bridgegate.

A former top official of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and a former member of Gov. Christopher J. Christie’s senior staff were sentenced today to prison terms for their roles in a scheme to punish the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, by misusing Port Authority resources to cause traffic problems in the borough, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.

William E. Baroni Jr., 45, former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, was sentenced to 24 months in prison and Bridget Anne Kelly, 44, former deputy chief of staff to Gov. Christie, to 18 months. On Nov. 4, 2016, Baroni and Kelly were each convicted following a six-week trial before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton on all seven counts with which they had been charged in an indictment returned May 1, 2015, by a federal grand jury. Judge Wigenton imposed the sentences today in Newark federal court.

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Samsung CEO Jailed in South Korea Corruption Probe

Jay Y. Lee, is the CEO of Samsung. His family is the wealthiest in South Korea. He has a net worth of $6.2 billion and ordinarily lives in a $4 million Seoul mansion. Yesterday he was arrested for "questioning" in a big corruption scandal in South Korea that already resulted in the impeachment of President, Park Geun-Hye. According to Reuters:

[He has been put in a ]71 square foot detention cell with a toilet in the corner behind a partition. He has no shower, only a wash-stand. Bed is a mattress on the floor.

....Meals will be served on plastic trays slid through a small square window in the cell door. Lee is required to wash his own tray. Inside the cell, he can watch TV between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., but only a single channel with recorded programs broadcast by the justice ministry.

Visits are limited to 30 minutes a day, through glass. (His lawyers may visit longer.) The reason for holding him in solitary was to keep him from discussing the case with other detainees. Prosecutors had 10 days to charge him, although they could have asked for an extension.

Last month a judge said there was no reason to detain him pending the investigation (before he was charged.) Prosecutors were very disappointed. They say they now have more evidence, and yesterday, a judge agreed, approving his arrest warrant.

The prison sounds awful (and not much different from those with special housing units in the U.S. holding high profile suspected criminals (like El Chapo).

He has not yet been charged with a crime. [More...]

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Gun Buyer in San Bernardino Shooting Pleads Guilty

Enrique Marquez, Jr., 25, the one time next door neighbor of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his straw purchase of two rifles he bought for Farook in 2012, which Farook then used during the 2015 San Bernardino shootings.

He also pleaded guilty to providing material support for terrorists, which carries a possible sentence of up to 25 years. But the charge wasn't about the San Bernardino shootings -- it was related to two unconsummated attacks he planned with "Rizwan" in 2012. It sounds like but for him agreeing to multiple FBI interviews, the FBI would never learned of them.

According to the plea agreement, available here, see pages 16 to 23, Marquez was not involved in the San Bernardino shootings, didn't know they were going to happen and was at work when they did happen. He had no contact with Farook after the shooting attack and before the police shootout.

In 2011 and 2012 he conspired with "Rizwan" (as the government now calls him) Farook to attack their school, Riverside City College (RCC) and commuter traffic on the 91 Freeway. While he and "Rizwan" prepped for the attacks in various ways, the attacks never happened and he disassociated from "Rizwan" and the plot in 2012.

So three years later, "Rizwan" uses the rifles to kill people, and Marquez pleads guilty to providing material support to terrorists in a planned attack years earlier that he abandoned and which never occurred. [More...]

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"El Chapo" Press Conference in Brooklyn

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is quite the rock star -- to the female inmates at MCC New York who repeatedly chanted out his name as he arrived in their midst.

The press conference this morning began with typical government hyperbole:

“In short, he is a man who has known no other life than one of crime, violence, death and destruction.”

The truth is that he is also a husband, father, and son who is loved by his mother, wife and children. He is someone who is respected, not just feared, in his part of Mexico.

Did the prosecutor mention when discussing that his "associates dug a tunnel from a home a mile away directly into his shower" that it would not have been possible but for corrupt jail and political officials, many of whom are now locked up? Without the corruption among Mexico's police, politicians and army, there would no cartels as vast as those that exist in Mexico. The drug lords are but a part of the equation.

The Government filed a 56 page brief in support of detention pending trial (no bail.) It's filled with photos of boats that big loads of drugs were seized from. [More...]

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Obama Commutes Chelsea Manning Sentence (And 200 Plus More)

President Obama has commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning. Manning will only have to serve four more months --She will be freed May 17.

Manning was one of 273 people granted clemency or pardons today, according to the White House.

His totals: 1,385 grants of clemency and 212 pardons.

With today’s 209 grants of commutation, the President has now commuted the sentences of 1,385 individuals – the most grants of commutation issued by any President in this nation’s history. President Obama’s 1,385 commutation grants – which includes 504 life sentences – is also more than the total number of commutations issued by the past 12 presidents combined. And with today’s 64 pardons, the President has now granted a total of 212 pardons.

That's what you call change. Thank you, President Obama. [More...]

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Charles Manson Hospitalized

Charles Manson, now 82, was taken to the hospital today from prison for undisclosed reasons. There are unconfirmed reports he suffers from some kind of gastro-intestinal issue. The prison says he is alive.

Manson's prison, Corcoran, has previously been found to have inadequate health care. The report is here. According to the spokeswoman for the Receiver for California Correctional Health Care Services:

The California State Prison, Corcoran, has medical facilities to treat inmates requiring urgent or emergency care as well as in-patient hospital stays.

“In general, inmates are sent to outside hospitals if they need surgical services, emergency care, or diagnostic services of an acute nature,” said Joyce Hayhoe, a spokeswoman for the federal receiver who controls prison medical care. “These services are not provided in state prison facilities.”

California's medical rules for prisons are here.

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