Police in Altamonte Springs, Florida, got a hot tip about a possible gambling operation going on, and began an investigation. What they found was a bunch of grannies playing Mahjong, aka Mah-Jongg, in their condominium clubhouse. This is not a crime, as Florida has a specific provision allowing penny-ante games at home, and that law has a specific provision that includes condominium common-areas in the permissible playing area. There is a catch that these games cannot be advertised in any way, so the condo had to take down the fliers reminding everyone, but otherwise the games may go on.
This may be of little comfort to the senior citizens of Muncie, Indiana who had to stop playing for cash in their Euchre games earlier this year. That goes for any Florida Euchre players as well, as Euchre is not one of the permissible games under the penny-ante gambling exception in Florida.
The penny-ante games that are permitted in Florida are poker, pinochle, bridge, rummy, canasta, hearts, dominoes, or mahjong (mah-jongg, in the Florida statutes). The pot cannot exceed $10, there cannot be any entry fees (nor a rake), and no advertising. Sorry Euchre players.
The Euchre story: https://crimcourts.wordpress.com/2015/07/22/indiana-gaming-commission-cracks-down-on-euchre-game-at-a-senior-center/
Surveillance of Darth Vader’s most recent robbery attempt
Darth Vader committed another robbery, this time in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Vader can be seen on surveillance videos at an 8 ’til Late convenience store, where he walked in, pulled out a gun, and demanded money.
Jacob Mercer mug shot
This is where it gets amazing: apparently the force was not strong with this Vader. One of the clerks in the store threw a wine glass at him, striking him in the face. Vader ran out, only to be captured a short time later. Judging by the suspect’s mug shot, the clerk seems to have struck him square in the face. Why didn’t he use the force?
This is the second time Vader has struck this year, that I’m aware of. As I pointed out last time, still not as classy as the Point Break guys. But, programming note… they are releasing a new Point Break remake next month, a week after Star Wars – The Force is Highly Anticipated. Doesn’t look as classy as the first one, though…
Point Break (2015)
Crystal Sweigart, who has been charged with running a prostitution ring in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, has a rather novel defense to the prostitution charges. She admits that she was giving unlicensed massages (which is a crime, itself), but says that the sexual contact that occurred afterward was merely fun between friends after work. She said, “Anything that happened when the massage stopped becomes two consenting adults having fun,” Sweigart said. “What I’m complaining about is (police) labeling it as [prostitution].”
Legally that would be a defense to the prostitution charge. However, the fact that the patrons gave her additional money when the sex acts occurred belies the fact that it was merely fun. It sounds like sexual contact in exchange for money. She admits that it’s incriminating: “Did I refuse the money? No,” Sweigart said. “Should I have or would it have looked better on me if I didn’t? Probably.” Two men have also been charged for patronizing prostitutes. Beware the happy ending…
Gov. Rick Scott
Rick Scott has requested $8.5 million to increase the FDLE budget to try to address the backlog of untested DNA kits in Florida evidence lockers. And he’s not the first to bring this matter to attention, Attorney General Pam Bondi has also pushed to get the backlog of DNA kits tested. This has been front page-level news for weeks now, and it’s time to get something done to pursue our most violent offenders. I applaud Governor Scott for moving this funding request forward and urge anyone involved to get it done quickly.
The concern is real: I had a client that was recently the victim of an attempted murder. A violent criminal fired into his bedroom window, and his girlfriend was gravely injured. Fortunately she is recuperating, but only after multiple surgeries and weeks in a wheelchair. I spoke to the Detective handling the case, who has a good idea of who did it, and will have a strong case, once the DNA evidence is tested. It has been submitted, but it has now been sitting for months in the DNA backlog. That means a violent madman with a gun is still running around at large because the FDLE hasn’t gotten around to testing the DNA evidence that was collected. That’s unacceptable. Meanwhile, the jail is full of non-violent offenders who can’t afford to bond out. It’s time to get our priorities straight.
Yesterday we reported on the Lee County Schools driver’s education instructor who was arrested for DUI after an accident. I declined to reprint his name or photograph, and expressed concern that he’d lose his job and livelihood over the incident. The News-Press did some follow up on the story, and reports today that while he will no longer be teaching driver’s ed, the teacher will not be fired for a first-offense DUI charge. Also, good job News-Press and reporter Melissa Montoya for getting the details!
A California Deputy Attorney General was arrested a few weeks ago in a courtroom for carrying on an argument. Court was in recess, so it was not before the judge, but, um… how does this bailiff justify arresting the attorney? The attorney arrested, Jennie Kelly, has her own attorney now, who is alleging the Bailiff committed a battery. They may have a pretty good case.
The California Attorney General’s Office is a Law Enforcement agency- Ms. Kelly is a deputy of the chief law enforcement officer of the state, and she was acting in her official duty representing the state, though it was a civil matter. This may have been the worst attempt to pull rank in law enforcement history…
A Lee County man, who is a driving instructor at Riverdale High School, was arrested for DUI after driving his car into a ditch. Deputies indicate his alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.
His picture’s online… but I’m not gonna post it. I started this article thinking ‘how funny’… but it’s really just sad. You can click through if you want the details. He’s probably going to lose his job over this, and his life will be basically over, which is a pretty harsh collateral consequence for a first-time misdemeanor.
The Google autonomous vehicle was recently pulled over driving in California. Not for bad driving so much… it was driving too slowly. Google has capped their vehicle at 25 MPH while they test it. No ticket was given; the officer was apparently concerned that something may be wrong, and reminded the Google operator (who was in the passenger seat) to be careful so as not to obstruct other traffic. The Google cars have done very well, most of the accidents they’ve been involved with were getting rear-ended by other vehicles not expecting such a cautious driver.
As to my headline question, “Who gets the ticket”… I don’t know the answer to that. California has drawn up a set of laws specifically to deal with driver-less cars, and the testing of them, so I suspect there is a provision to cite the operator, if it becomes necessary. In theory, having computers control the cars should all but eliminate many driving infractions, like speeding. I welcome our Google overlords, as long as I still get to drive for fun sometimes…
Twitter photo claimed credit by: https://twitter.com/zandr
The Supreme Court
Yesterday the Supreme Court heard oral argument on a case involving juror discrimination. The argument is that the government deliberately discriminates jurors by race; generally striking black jurors from the trials of black defendants. The case before the court is exemplar of the pattern: Georgia v. Timothy Foster. At his murder trial, every black juror was dismissed by the prosecutors. There were 5 potential black jurors on the panel from which his jury was selected, and all were struck with peremptory challenges by the prosecutor. He was convicted and sentenced to death.
However, the Foster case is unique, because over the court of the case winding its way through the appellate system, the prosecutor’s notes were obtained and included in the record. The notes offer substantial evidence that race was the determining factor in striking those jurors, though race neutral reasons were provided to satisfy the minimal legal threshold.
The notes makes this the perfect case to challenge the current procedure, which only requires the prosecutor to state a legally sufficient race-neutral reason when requested by the opposing party, known as a Batson challenge. In practice, the vast majority of Batson challenges are initiated by defense attorneys, almost always after prosecutors strike minority jurors. It remains to be seen what the court will do with the case, but some watchers noted that several justices seemed unhappy with the apparently discriminatory result of the peremptory challenges in the Foster case. Whether the overturn the Batson case and the longstanding peremptory procedure remains to be seen.
If you’re curious, I’d recommend the long article on the subject that the Daily Beast ran a few weeks ago…
Baby Gator in Cape Coral
A couple of unnamed Cape residents saw a baby Alligator wandering in an intersection on Halloween night, and decided to rescue the little guy. It’s clearly a baby, as it is only a foot long, and still has its baby spots, which fade after a few years. The Samaritans scooped up the little guy, only to be stopped by CCPD before they could find a safe place to release it. It’s a crime to possess an Alligator in Florida! Fortunately, Officer Pinkham was sympathetic, and called in FWC to safely relocate the little guy, without charging the Samaritans. Yay, rescued gator!
If you see a Gator in distress, or being a threat or nuisance, it is incumbent to call FWC, at 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286).
Alligator Warning Sign