Monthly Archives: January 2014

Amanda Knox Guilty in Retrial in Italian Murder Case

Amanda Knox

Amanda Knox

Amanda Knox and her former paramour Rafalle Sollecito were found guilty by the Italian appellate court hearing the retrial of their murder charges. The court essentially reinstated the guilty verdict from the first trial, which had be thrown out on appeal, then sent back for this retrial on second tire review. This verdict will also be appealed. Knox remains out of custody in the United States. If a final judgment is entered, Italy may seek her extradition back to serve the 28 year sentence. Such a judgment is months if not years away, pending the new appellate process. Knox has indicated she will not return voluntarily if ordered back into custody.

Extradition will not be automatic. Italy and other countries often refuse extradition to the United States for murder cases, due to the death penalty here. That won’t be an issue for extradition from the United States, but there are several challenges. The U.S. courts could have a due process concern, as the Italy appellate process resembles a retrial, which generally wouldn’t be permitted under our double jeopardy provision. Such concerns will only come up if the verdict is upheld.

NYC Drops Stop and Frisk Appeal, Settles Case

I heard it first from my friend Jenn Rolnick, one of the plaintiff attorneys on the case, but the formal announcement has been released. Mayor De Blasio has reached an agreement with police reforms, such as amending the training materials used by officers. Police commissioner William Bratton stated, “We will not break the law to enforce the law,” signaling an intention by the police department to follow the restraints of our Constitutional protections. This is a victory for all citizens who oppose unlawful government intrusion, and especially for those minority citizens who have been unfairly targeted by unlawful police practices in NYC.

Medical Marijuana Will be on the Florida Ballot

Marijuana debate

Marijuana debate

The legal challenge to the ballot initiative for legalizing medical marijuana has been denied by the Supreme Court, and Florida voters will  get a chance to allow medical marijuana when they go to the polls later this year. The denial was a blow to Attorney General Pamela Bondi, who raised the challenge to the wording of the ballot initiative. The political side effect is that it may hurt her reelection chances if the marijuana vote draws more democrats to the polls. Governor Rick Scott has also come out against medical marijuana, while his challenger, Charlie Crist is for it. Crist is employed by attorney John Morgan, who is the primary financial backer of medical marijuana. Morgan and his organization poured 4 million dollars into the signature drive, which was successful in garnering the necessary vote to get the measure on the ballot.

This is just the beginning of the campaign: supporters still face an uphill battle to garner the required 60% of the vote for the measure to pass. It will be interesting to see how the candidates incorporate their support or disapproval of the measure during their campaigns.

Criminal Charges Against Yasiel Puig Dropped

Puig Arrest

Puig Arrest

The State Attorney’s Office in Collier County has announced they are not proceeding on the criminal Reckless Driving Charge. He still faces a speeding ticket, which is a civil infraction, for allegedly going 110 in a 70 mph zone on the Alligator Alley. Crimcourts previously declared that charges would not hold up in court, as the state must prove more than speeding to show the willful and wanton element of reckless driving. There is a link to the video of the incident on our earlier post.

Florida Cop Arrested for Burning Child with Hair Dryer #badcops

Cody Marrone Mug Shot

Cody Marrone Mug Shot

I didn’t have time to post this the other day, but a Hernando County corrections deputy was arrested for burning his child with a hair dryer. The burns were intentional because the boy would not let him sleep: it sounds like Cody Marrone has admitted to the allegations. Marrone faces charges of aggravated child abuse and child neglect. #weirdbattery #badcops

Medical Marijuana Gets the Signatures

Is it Medicinal?

Is it Medicinal?

The ballot initiative for medical marijuana has garnered enough signatures to be on the ballot in the upcoming election. It still faces a challenge, as the state Attorney General, Pam Bondi, has filed suit to keep it off the ballot, alleging the language is unclear or misleading. The state Supreme Court has heard argument, and will make a ruling whether the initiative will be on the ballot.

There is some political intrigue, as noted in the linked story above, because democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist works for attorney John Morgan, who has  been the main backer of the medical marijuana movement in Florida. If marijuana is on the ballot, it would probably be a boon to his candidate, Crist. Meanwhile, if Bondi is able to keep the measure off the ballot, that will probably assist she and other Republican candidates, such as incumbent governor Rick Scott. Those factors may play as large a role as anything in the marijuana debate that Florida will encounter this year.

New Bieber Video Does Not Look Like a Race

Footage of Bieber's Car

Footage of Bieber’s Car

Decide for yourself, but this video shared by CNN does not appear to be a “contest of speed” as described in the police report. This could be BEFORE the alleged drag race occurred, though the cops already appear to be on their tails. The video is time stamped 4:09 a.m., and the police indicate the race occurred at 4:11, though time stamps are not always accurate. According to the cop, this would have to be after, because he indicates the officer who spotted the race had to make a U-Turn and catch up. On the full video from CBS Miami, you can see the cop passes a car and appears to be trying to catch up to the Bieber-led group. But if he was pursuing a race, why aren’t his lights on?

This could be a moot discussion, as Bieber has not been charged with racing at this time, and the cops could initiate a stop base on speed, even if there is no racing involved. Still, it adds a wrinkle. Also, in looking at the times, the cop claims to make his arrest at 4:13, just 2 minutes after the race. That’s pretty fast to find the car, pull Bieber out, and for Bieber to resist him. We know he skipped intermiate steps, like asking Bieber for a license, but the timeline is definitely questionable.

UPDATE (of sorts): In case you didn’t see my earlier post, with a link to the police report, you can read that here:

Don’t Play with your Winkie at McDonald’s

Mr. Burns, he is not

Mr. Burns, he is not

An elderly local man was arrested for allegedly masturbating in a Bonita Springs McDonald’s parking lot. To add to the weirdness, he claims he was homeless, but was sitting in a Mercedes, looking at porn on a small laptop. He told the cops they were invading his privacy. Mr. Toner, you do not have an expectation of privacy sitting in a car in a public parking lot waving your willie for anyone to see.

High season continues the elderly menace in Southwest Florida #swfl

What Did Bieber Blow?

Justin Bieber Mug Shot

Justin Bieber Mug Shot

Pop star Justin Bieber was arrested in Miami the other day and charged with DUI, Resisting an Officer, and Driving on an Expired License. These are all criminal charges in Florida, albeit misdemeanors. There was evidence of racing, which is also a criminal charge, though he has not been charged with racing at this time. Racing charges are notoriously hard to prove. Gawker has obtained the police report, and you can read it online (warning, lots of F-bombs).

Possibly Bieber's Expired DL, unverified

Possibly Bieber’s Expired DL, unverified

Something that jumped out on the police report is that the officer indicates he asked Bieber to submit to a breath test, and that Bieber agreed to do so. However, he did not include the results of the breath test on the probable cause affidavit obtained by Gawker. That’s odd. It’s not required to be in there, but you’d think if he had an unlawful breath alcohol level, that the officer would want to include that. Bieber then apparently submitted to a drug screen, which generally doesn’t reveal results until it comes back from the lab (if they had done merely a presumptive field test, it would not be admissible in court in Florida). I want to know what Bieber blew on the breathalyzer test: this DUI may not be going anywhere. The resisting is kind of thin, especially since the DUI arrest is pretty thin. The officer did not do field sobriety exercises until AFTER he had charged Bieber.

There has been some debate whether Bieber would be deported if, which is unlikely, even if convicted. However, deportation could become a problem if he is charged and convicted with a felony for the criminal mischief/vandalism charge he has been investigated for in California. That sounds silly: his neighbor’s house was egged. But the neighbor is claiming thousands of dollars in damage, which could make it a serious charge.

Normally, I follow these things, but it’s Bieber, and it’s silly, so I’m not going to make that promise this time.

UPDATE: MTV is reporting Bieber only blew .011 and .014, below the legal limit for DUI. Note, Florida has an administrave policy requiring a driving suspension for those under 21 if they have BAC (Breath Alcohol Content) greater than .02, which Bieber did not. Unless there is something on the drug screen, the state will probably not file on the DUI charge.

No Charges in LCSO Shooting

Last June, Lee deputy Chris Meyer shot a woman during a service call. He was cleared today by the State Attorney’s Office, who found that he acted legally in defense of himself or others. The testimony convinced the prosecutors that Deputy Meyer was justified, in that Donna Weaver threatened deputies with a firearm, and refused to cooperate with orders to stand down.