As you may have seen, trial got underway in New York City for producer Harvey Weinstein, charged with several sexual offenses in one of the landmark cases of the #metoo movement. Today, Mr. Weinstein was excoriated by the judge for using his cell phone in court, in spite of the judge’s strict rule against it, and repeated orders not to do so. His poor attorneys end up apologizing to the judge for their client’s behavior, only for the judge to “snarl” at them as well. Apparently, they had made Weinstein turn over his cellphone earlier, but he had multiple additional cell phones and continued to access them in court. He’s literally pulling tricks to confound his own attorneys as they were trying to keep him out of trouble. The judge threatened to revoke his bond for disobeying the order, which he would have been in his power to do.
Weinstein picked a particularly bad day to disobey the judge, because new charges had been filed against him in California, and the prosecution on this case was already arguing to the court for his bond to be revoked. I think the State shot itself in the foot suggesting that they had not been in contact with the Los Angeles prosecution when the indictment was conveniently unveiled to coincide with the start of his New York trial… and that the L.A. prosecutor indicated that they certainly had been in contact with the New York D.A. The defense asked for a continuance and the judge smartly resolved everything to avoid conflict: denying the request for continuance, denying the request to revoke bail on the New York case, and ultimately setting identical bail on the California case so the court can get down to the business of conducting the trial at hand, which is expected to last around two months.
Harvey Weinstein being assisted to court
The challenge for Weinstein’s lawyers, beyond the legal challenge of defending him from the charges, will be to rein in his behavior so he doesn’t end up shooting himself in the foot. He started showing up to court with a walker, and when commentators suggested he was trying to garner sympathy, he had an extensive interview with Page Six without consulting his attorney. He’s trying to win in the court of public opinion while his attorneys are trying to win in actual court, where the potential penalty is life in prison. He has already gone through multiple prior attorneys, before settling on this team.
The predatory rape charges included in the New York case create a huge challenge for Weinstein’s defense team as they allow the state to introduce evidence of other offenses. This includes offenses that were not charged and that may not have been brought up until after the statute of limitations, and none for which Mr. Weinstein has admitted or been convicted of. He categorically denies all charges, and says that any sexual contact was consensual. However, the State being able to bring in a string of additional accusers presents a damning fact pattern and suggestion of guilt that will be difficult for the defense to overcome, particularly coupled with some potentially humiliating evidence. Compare the case against Bill Cosby, who’s first trial ended in a hung jury. During the second trial, the court permitted evidence from additional accusers and the jury in that case convicted Cosby. On the other hand, the charges only came about after a very public campaign creating political pressure for the prosecutors to bring charges, and one of the lead NYPD investigators was prevented from testifying due to suggestions of witness coaching and withholding evidence. The case will be a hard-fought battle for the next eight weeks. The attorneys have their work cut out for them, but at least they are being well paid.
Posted in California, Criminal Law, New York
Tagged bill cosby, california, harvey weinstein, los angeles, new york city, rape, sexcrime, similar fact evidence, trial
Former NFL player Kellen Winslow is on trial in California for a dozen charges related to alleged sexual assaults, lewd conduct, and indecent exposure: he faces up to life in prison. The first of five accusers testified yesterday, and it did not go well for the prosecution. The victim’s credibility was attacked thoroughly on the stand: her testimony was “shaking and baffling” according to USA Today and she was “caught in a web of lies and contradiction” according to Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel. Wetzel reports that her story changed while she was on the stand, contradicted her prior testimony, and only her word can overcome Winslow’s claim that the encounter was consensual. The state has four more alleged victims with several different claims. It will be hard for Winslow to overcome that many allegations presented to the same jury, but the outcome is far from a forgone conclusion.
Los Angeles had their first successful prosecution of DUI on a scooter. And not like a Vespa, but one of those little motorized scooters. It sounds like California has a law written similar to Florida’s that prohibits operating any VEHICLE under the influence. Nicholas Kauffroath plead to one count of DUI, and another count of hit and run, after he struck an elderly gentleman and sped off on his scooter. I’ve seen DUIs on bikes, and even a motorized cooler, so keep that in mind that you don’t drink and drive/ride/roll!
Cincinnati.com went long on Tim Nolan, the former judge (and attorney, school board member, and Trump activist) who has pled guilty to charges of human trafficking. Go check out the full article by Scott Wartman. In sum, the former judge- who had prided himself of being tough on crime, turned out to be a criminal. He has pled guilty to 21 counts of human trafficking going back to 2004, and will be sentenced Thursday for what will probably amount to a life sentence (20 years). He took advantage of young women, many living in his properties, often using drugs or physical force or the threat of eviction to induce them for sex.
The case was weird, not only because of Nolan’s political ties. At one point there were allegations he paid a witness, with whom he had had a relationship, but whose daughter was one of his victims. There was talk that he might blame mental illness, or his brain tumor, for his behavior, but ultimately decided to enter a guilty plea. He reportedly had a disdain for lawyers… which in itself suggests his contempt for the rule of law and due process, but is particularly galling for a lawyer himself.
Be sure to check out the article on cincinnati.com.
Frmr. Atty. Matthew Muller
Matthew Muller was admitted to practice law in California in 2011 after graduating Harvard Law. A decorated former Marine, he could have accomplished anything with his life, and now he is facing life behind bars. Muller pled guilty on Thursday to a kidnapping and ransom plot, and his attorney is concerned that he could be sentenced to life in prison. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors agreed to recommend no more than 40 years in prison, but the ultimate sentence will be up to the judge.
When Denise Huskins and her boyfriend Aaron Quinn reported that they had been kidnapped, investigators did not believe them, and developed a theory that the report was a hoax. That was finally shot down when Muller was caught in another home invasion/attempted robbery and discovery the trappings of this offense. He had demanded $17,000 in ransom payments that he never collected, and Ms. Huskins was ultimately dropped off safely at her family home.
Huskins and Quinn have filed a lawsuit against the Vallejo police department for their mishandling of the case, and claim that they had to move our of town after the department’s allegations of a bogus kidnapping. Police doubted Ms. Huskins because they thought she didn’t act like a kidnapping victim: going as far to require Mr. Quinn to provide DNA samples. The whole case is crazy: I look forward to seeing it on ’48 Hours’ or even in a movie.
Posted in California, Criminal Law, Police
Tagged Aaron Quinn, badcops, badlawyer, california, Denise Huskins, hoax, kidnapping, Matthew Muller, vallejo
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
CNN did a decent story on an issue we have covered several times on Crimcourts. It’s worth checking out, be sure to check the video for the setup, in addition to the text story. The guys featured were legally carrying money for poker, and the cops grabbed it all. The Justice Department has been stepping back from participating in these civil asset forfeitures. There is a private company running seminars teaching cops how to do this… officers are literally planning to come up with ways to seize citizen property: that’s scary.
Thanks for sharing, Michael.
Jill and Kent Easter
You might remember Jill and Kent Easter, a pair of married attorneys (and she a part-time novelist), who were charged with planting drugs in the vehicle of a rival PTA volunteer. Jill plead guilty, and was sentenced to jail, and Kent took his case to trial. Kent’s first trial ended in a hung jury, with Kent claiming that he was pushed around by his controlling wife, and that he didn’t know that drugs were planted in the vehicle. It went back to trial in September, amid revelations that Jill was cheating on Kent with a firefighter, and Kent was convicted the second time around. He was sentenced to six months in jail, a couple months more than Jill got, thanks to her plea deal.
ABC News decided to dig deep, and did a whole 20/20 feature on the case just last week. It’s worth checking out, as well.
Neck tattoos never work. We see them all the time in the courtroom, and all the time they are worn by people on the wrong side of the bar- Defendants. This guy, Andrew Chapman has a neck tattoo that takes the cake. Perhaps the state is trying to introduce it to the jury as an admission of guilt. The court will almost certainly have to do something to cover it up: the prejudicial effect will clearly trouble the jury, regardless of the evidence in the case: he’s facing an actual murder charge. They should do something about the teardrop, too. A filled in teardrop is known to be a notch for having killed someone. Of course, it’s better than the guy that got convicted because he tattooed a murder scene on himself!
I did have a client who’s neck tattoo worked in her favor. The cop said the suspect had a tattoo that said “RED”. My client had a neck tattoo, but it very clearly said “DION”. I introduced my client’s neck into evidence, and she was found not guilty!
- California kitty, named Khat, puts 3 in Hospital
Kaht the Cat
We covered Lux, the Oregon kitty with a “history of violence” that cornered an entire family in a bedroom, charging them as they desperately called 911. Now, a California cat has attacked his family, and sent them to the hospital. Unlike the last attack, this cat apparently did not have a history of violence. It sounds like the wounds were superficial, hopefully everyone is recovering, but this is another reminder to beware the feline menace. #felinemenace
Somebody call Jackson Galaxy!
via Gawker: http://gawker.com/three-hospitalized-after-pet-cat-named-khat-attacks-fam-1564715168?utm_source=recirculation&utm_medium=recirculation&utm_campaign=fridayPM