Monday, May 21, 2012

OK - Lawmakers To Decide On Oklahoma Sex Offender Bill

Original Article

05/21/2012

By Dana Hertneky

OKLAHOMA CITY - Hundreds of sex offenders around the state may soon be removed from the Oklahoma sex offender registry. But some police officers and state lawmakers are trying to make that a little more difficult.

Right now, the Oklahoma Supreme Court is deciding a case that would affect the amount of time all sex offenders convicted before 2007 stay on the list.

And this week, lawmakers are slated to vote on a bill that would require a court order from a judge before they and all other offenders are removed from the registry.

[name withheld] was convicted of lewd or indecent acts to a child. He was supposed to be off the sex offender registry in 2008, but a change in state law in 2007 kept him on.

If the Supreme Court rules that was unconstitutional, he and hundreds of sex offenders would be removed from the sex offender registry.
- It is unconstitutional (ex post facto), and surely, if the Constitution still means anything, the Supreme Court will find it as such?

"One of the most heartbreaking and difficult calls we respond to are sex crimes and they tend to be children more often than not," says Officer Mark Nelson the FOP Legislative Chairman.

Now the FOP is calling for greater oversight before any sex offender is taken off the list.

"We think that's a pretty big decision that needs a court review, " said Sen. David Holt (R ) Oklahoma City who authored the bill.

Senator David Holt says the bill would require a judge to review the case of anyone going off the registry to make sure they fulfilled all their obligations.

"I think this is another law that we pass out there to make people feel warm and fuzzy," argued attorney David Slane who represents 80 offenders who may be removed from the list. Slane says the proposed law is unnecessary.

"Most of these people have been on the sex offender registry for a really long time, they've reported for a very long time. Now they're being told they have to go back to court again," said Slane.

Holt says he realizes that but the seriousness of removing someone from the registry outweighs that burden.

"We need to make sure that they have proven for 15 or 25 years they have been fulfilling their obligations and we think it's safe for them," said Holt.

If a judge rules an offender didn't fulfill his or her the judge would be able to can keep the offender on the list.

The bill passed the senate unanimously.

It's now in a house conference committee.


WV - Comedian Andy Dick agrees to program that if completed fully would erase sex abuse charges

Andy Dick
Original Article

You can watch a related video here. Of course he agrees to it, who wouldn't? But, how many other non-celebrities would get this chance?

05/21/2012

CHARLESTON - Comedian Andy Dick has agreed to enter a pretrial diversion program that, if completed successfully, would absolve him of sex abuse charges arising from a 2010 nightclub incident, authorities said.

Corky Hammers, an assistant prosecutor in West Virginia’s Cabell County, said Monday that the program requires Dick to stay out of legal trouble for the next six months under the agreement. It allows for no drug use and no arrests during that time.

If Dick fails to comply, Hammers says Dick could be tried on felony charges stemming from the club incident in which he was accused of grabbing a bouncer’s crotch and groping and kissing a male patron at a Huntington bar. At the time, Dick was in town for a comedy club performance.

Dick wasn’t present for a status hearing Monday in the county circuit court. His attorney, Marc Williams, didn’t immediately return a phone message.

Hammers said that under the agreement, Dick also could be summoned for random drug screenings and must report to the county prosecutor’s office if he is arrested or has a run-in with police anywhere. He also must remain employed.

Two previous trial dates were postponed.

Hammers said Monday the case isn’t over, adding Dick must comply with the agreement’s terms and conditions. “If he doesn’t do that ... we get to start from scratch and we get to try the case,” Hammers said.

Dick had a long-running stint in the 1990s on NBC’s “NewsRadio.” He briefly had his own program on MTV called “The Andy Dick Show.” He also has had roles in several movies, including “Dude, Where’s My Car?” and “Old School.”


CA - Santa Ana considers tougher sex-offender law

Original Article

05/21/2012

By RON GONZALES

SANTA ANA - The City Council will consider amending its 2006 registered sex offender ordinance to align with Orange County’s 2011 law.

The county ordinance makes it a misdemeanor for registered sex offenders to enter county recreational areas where children regularly gather.

The city’s ordinance prohibits registered child sex offenders from being on or within 300 feet of designated children’s facilities and parks to loiter or observe children.
- Here they say it's about those who've harmed children, but below they say it's for ALL ex-sex offenders, which clearly would make it unconstitutional.

The city’s new law, if approved Monday, would also take aim at registered sex offenders, banning their presence inside parks and specified facilities, and would make the offense a misdemeanor.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and Chief of Staff Susan Kang Schroeder plan to attend the council's meeting, their office said.

The county ordinance, proposed by Rackauckas and Supervisor Shawn Nelson, was approved by county supervisors April 5, 2011. Between May 2011 and April 2012, the cities of Westminster, Irvine, La Habra, Los Alamitos, Huntington Beach, Yorba Linda, Laguna Hills, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, Costa Mesa, and Seal Beach passed similar ordinances, the district attorney’s office said, and other cities are currently in the process of developing a similar ordinance.

The council meets at 6 p.m. Monday at the Police Community Room, 60 Civic Center Plaza. Call 714-647-6520.
- And everyone who this will affect should attend this meeting.


OH - Former officer (David Krego) sentenced for child porn images


CA - Trial postponed for former officer (Daniel Dana) accused of sexual assault


KY - Former trooper (Michael Fred Pennington) convicted of using gun while soliciting sex during drug crime

Original Article

I see nothing about charging him with a sex crime and placing him on the sex offender registry for life like everyone else who has done what he has done.

05/21/2012

By Bill Estep

A former state trooper accused of using his gun while soliciting a woman for sex during a drug crime has been convicted.

A jury in federal court in London convicted Michael Fred Pennington Friday, but documents confirming the verdict were not available on the court Web site until Monday.

Pennington, 35, will face at least five years in prison on the gun charge.

He also pleaded guilty to two drug charges in the case. He faces up to 10 years in prison on each, charge according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey.

The incident that led to Pennington's conviction happened last September.

A Corbin woman said that when Pennington came to her home with a social worker as part of an investigation, the trooper found pain pills that she abused.

Pennington said he would ignore the evidence of a drug crime if she would have sex with him, 28-year-old Regina West testified last week.

Pennington wanted to return to her home early the next morning, while her husband was at work.

At her sister's urging, West told state police about the solicitation. State police installed hidden video equipment at her house and two officers hid in a back room to wait for Pennington.

When Pennington came back and repeated his request that West perform oral sex on him, officers emerged and disarmed him.

Pennington, who had been a trooper 10 years, resigned.

He was charged in federal court this year with possessing and distributing drugs. The charges related to pills he took from West, but planned to give back as part of his sexual solicitation.

Police found the pills in Pennington's cruiser after catching him at West's house.

Pennington also was charged with using his 40-caliber Glock pistol in furtherance of a drug crime. That charged was based on an argument that Pennington's gun helped him intimidate West into going along with his request for sex.

Pennington pleaded guilty on the drug charges but fought the gun charge, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence.

Pennington is to be sentenced September 6.

"This case illustrates that the Kentucky State Police continues to react quickly regarding allegations of misconduct involving an employee," Rodney Brewer, Kentucky State Police commissioner, said in a statement issued through Harvey's office.

"Although this is a rare occurrence, it underscores the public oath we have taken to protect the citizens of the Commonwealth from all criminals," Brewer said.


NC - Prisoners at federal complex challenge extended confinement for sex crimes

Original Article

05/21/2012

By Anne Blythe

Sex-crime convicts are held beyond their release dates after the government determines they could still be dangerous

The high walls surrounding the Federal Correctional Complex at Butner leave no doubt that it’s a prison.

But for dozens of men held behind those walls, there is a growing question of whether they should be prisoners.

They have served their time and now are being imprisoned not for what they did, but what they might do. They are sex offenders being held – sometimes for years – under a recent federal law that allows the detention of those deemed so dangerous the government will not risk their release even when their sentence is complete.

Now, with the bulk of the detainees being held at Butner, federal courts in North Carolina are trying to sort out who should remain in and who should be released from this legal limbo.

Lawyers for the detainees say the extended captivity reflects a law that applies a different and unfair standard to sex offenders. They also say many detainees do not meet the level of threat the 6-year-old law requires for indefinite detention.

The law doesn’t seem fair to me,” said Raleigh attorney John Keating Wiles, who has represented several of the men. “Traditionally, we don’t take away people’s liberty because they might commit a crime.”

The U.S. Department of Justice has sought to extend the confinement of at least 136 sex offenders since 2006, but almost half the attempts have been rejected by the courts or dropped by the government.

Of the men being held for hearings, some, indeed, have criminal histories and behavioral offenses inside prison that raise questions about their release into the community.

In some cases, though, it is unclear whether the problems are deviant sexual compulsions or broader mental impairments and illness compounded by drug and alcohol abuse.

By law, a federal judge must rule on whether a detainee is too dangerous to be released.

In the Eastern District of North Carolina, a visiting judge from Michigan has been brought in and several district judges have been assigned to help clear a backlog of cases that stacked up in the first four years after the law was passed.

Many cases were stalled by the lawsuit brought on behalf of Comstock, one of the first to be detained as sexually dangerous after serving time for receiving child pornography.

In 2011, a year after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the government had that authority, a federal court ruled on the merits of classifying Comstock as sexually dangerous, and found he did not qualify for commitment

Eric J. Brignac, a federal public defender who has been involved with many of the cases in the state’s Eastern District, said the commitment procedure has highlighted a societal challenge.

It’s that tension between liberty and security,” Brignac said.

Expecting bad behavior

Though North Carolina has no such law, 20 states have procedures in place for committing sexually violent predators. Many sexual assault cases are tried in state courts and those offenders are not in the federal prison system.

Of those in the federal system, there are many whose crimes were committed on Native American reservations, which are federal property.

Each case essentially becomes a battle of the experts, with the government presenting doctors, psychologists and mental health analysts to bolster its claims. The defense brings in experts who offer their own assessments. It is up to a judge to sort through the different opinions and evidence.

[name withheld], 37, has been incarcerated since he was 21. On Jan. 3, Senior U.S. District Judge W. Earl Britt declared him “sexually dangerous” and ordered him committed.

[name withheld], who pleaded guilty in Montana federal court in 1996 to two counts of aggravated sexual assault by force, has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, an anti-social personality disorder, depression, a dependence on alcohol and marijuana and lingering effects of fetal alcohol syndrome.

He was arrested for raping a 66-year-old disabled man after entering his home through an unlocked door and later that day entering a woman’s home and sexually assaulting her by grabbing her crotch, according to court documents. The woman was able to grab a hammer and force him out of her home. Though [name withheld] entered guilty pleas, he claims to have no recollection of the incidents.

That capped a series of sexual assaults that were tried in a tribal court. In 1993, he was involuntarily committed for alcohol treatment.

Prosecutors contend that [name withheld] was cited for sexual misconduct during his federal incarceration. Court records show a marked decline in his misconduct after changes to his medication regimen in November 2009.

During a bench trial late last year, physicians for the government argued that [name withheld] might have difficulty staying on prescribed medications and difficulty controlling his urges if he were outside a highly structured environment such as Butner.

Because [name withheld] has been unable to control his behavior even in the most supervised setting, the court concludes that he will have serious difficulty in refraining from sexually violent conduct if released,” Britt stated in his order.

A life of alcohol

[name withheld], 38, was born in Santa Fe, N.M., but spent his early childhood years at his father’s home in White River, Ariz., on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. His aunt raised him until his parents divorced when he was 5 years old. Then he and his siblings moved with his mother to the Jicarilla Apache Indian Reservation in northern New Mexico. But his mother had problems with alcohol abuse, according to court documents, and when he was 8, the courts placed him in a dormitory where he lived until he was 18.

After that, he moved back and forth between the two reservations of his earlier years, staying with his aunt in Arizona and his mother in New Mexico.

[name withheld] was first convicted in 1994 for an offense in July 1993 that involved a 17-year-old girl who had been drinking with him.

[name withheld] accepted responsibility and wrote in a statement at the time that he might have misunderstood the girl when she asked their male friend to leave them alone. “I do not recall what else happened after that and until I awoke, alone, in the area where we had all been drinking.”

When later asked about the 1993 Arizona events, he was reported as saying the woman was lying, that he only talked with her, then went to his cousin’s house to drink and stayed there all night.

After his release from his four-year sentence in the New Mexico case, [name withheld] was in and out of trouble with the law for not attending substance abuse counseling and failing to notify the right people of changes in his residence. He was arrested in 1998 and released to the custody of his girlfriend at the time.

It was that girlfriend, though, who was at the root of the sexual offense that landed him back in federal prison. In a 2001 conviction based on his time with her in 1998, she stated that he moved into her place without permission, and they lived together for four months.

During that time, according to court records, he beat her with his feet and fists and sexually abused her, becoming rougher and rougher after she told him to stop hurting her.

A written statement from him in his court file again makes reference to his alcohol abuse problems and his girlfriend’s reaction: “I was able to stay sober sometimes, but other times, when I drank (she) did not want to be with me and that made me upset. On the date of this incident, I was drinking and she told me to leave. I got angry and forced her to have sex with me. She became pregnant as a result. For a while after that, we lived together and I helped her with the baby.”

But the families got involved, telling him the child was not his, that an old boyfriend was the father, a statement that angered him.

The worst part of this case is that because of my conduct, I will not have a relationship with my son,” [name withheld] wrote. “I will be in prison for a long time and he will grow up without a father.”

In October 2007, six months before his scheduled release, [name withheld] was transferred to Butner. Thirteen days before his release date, the government began proceedings to classify Groshay as “sexually dangerous.”

In a court document submitted in November, Raleigh attorney Wiles argued that [name withheld] suffers from alcoholism, but the government had not proven dangerousness “sufficient to justify commitment by clear and convincing evidence.”

[name withheld] awaits a ruling.


CA - National study tracks number of people falsely convicted of crime

Original Article

I would like to see the study, but the reporter doesn't provide any link to it, so we can only assume what she is saying is true, and I don't like to take anyone's word for it. I can only assume this is the study (PDF) that they are referring to.

05/21/2012

By Tracey Kaplan

A new national report on the number of people falsely convicted of a serious crime reveals a baffling statistic about the Bay Area -- 10 people have been exonerated in Santa Clara County since 1989, while none have in Alameda County.

Does that mean Alameda County, with a higher crime rate, has never thrown the wrong person in prison, or at least hasn't admitted it?

Probably not, according to the report released Sunday by the National Registry of Exonerations. The authors, who teach at Midwestern law schools, say the registry is a work in progress, and they're asking the public to report any unlisted exonerations via an interactive database.

"One of the reasons we set up this registry is to beat the bushes for cases," said Samuel Gross, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School and editor of the registry.

Even so, the study already has found that since 2000, exonerations have averaged 52 a year nationwide -- one a week.

The study defines an exoneration as when a defendant who was convicted of a crime was later relieved of all legal consequences of that conviction through a decision by a prosecutor, a governor or a court after new evidence of innocence was discovered.

David Angel, director of the conviction integrity unit of the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office, said it's useful to look at the big picture the registry has begun to outline.

So far, the registry lists more than 885 cases since 1989, when the first exoneration using DNA evidence occurred. DNA helped resolve 40 percent of the cases in the study.

At least 1,170 other convicted defendants were cleared in 13 "group exonerations" after scandals in Los Angeles and elsewhere revealed police had deliberately framed innocent people, mostly for drug and gun crimes.

"This study confirms that the overwhelming number of convictions are accurate and just -- but they are not always," Angel said of the study, which notes that 2.3 million people are in prison in the United States. "We all know there are problems with the system, so if you want to improve it, you need good information."

To boost the reliability of eyewitness identifications -- a major cause of wrongful convictions -- every police department in Santa Clara County recently started videotaping or recording most witnesses as they pick out a suspect from photos or a live lineup.

Gross said he believes more exonerations have come to light in Santa Clara County than in Alameda County and the rest of the Bay Area for two main reasons: the presence of the Northern California Innocence Project (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) at Santa Clara University's law school and a vigilant press that has exposed overzealous prosecution and misconduct.

San Mateo, Contra Costa and Monterey counties each had one case. Twenty have turned up so far in Los Angeles County. Kern County, with 20 exonerations, is a special case, Gross said. From 1984 through 1986, at least 30 defendants were convicted of child sex abuse and related charges and sentenced to long prison terms in a series of interrelated cases. In most of these exonerations, the children who had testified that they had been abused recanted their stories.

Several factors contributed to false convictions in homicides, rapes, robberies and other crimes, including perjury or false accusation (51 percent), mistaken eyewitness identification (43 percent), official misconduct (42 percent), false or misleading forensic evidence (24 percent) and false confession (16 percent).

The numbers add up to more than 100 percent because multiple factors are frequently involved.

Defense lawyers also were clearly at fault in at least 104 cases, the study found. But the authors believe many more of the exonerated defendants would not have been convicted in the first place if their lawyers had done good work.

Gerald Uelmen, a former federal prosecutor who teaches at the Santa Clara University School of Law, said the report shows little progress has been made since he was executive director of the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, which examined ways to guard against wrongful convictions.

"The bottom line is we are not doing much better in protecting the innocent," he said, "despite all the evidence uncovered in the past 10 years of wrongful convictions."