The mother, her baby and the man

October 25, 2013

When Parrots Go Bad

by Crane-Station for Frog Gravy

Frog Gravy is a nonfiction account of incarceration in Kentucky, in jails and in prison, during 2008 and 2009, and is reconstructed from my notes.

Frog Gravy contains graphic language.

Inmate names are changed, except for nick names that do not reveal identity.

The mother, her baby and the man

McCracken County Jail Cell 107, sometime in February, 2008.

Before my trial, my husband, a retired criminal defense attorney with thirty years of experience, actually tried to help my court-appointed local attorney, who was about as useless as a cat with side pockets.

My husband advised the following:

1. Never ask a question that you do not know the answer to. Each and every question has a reference-at-the-ready in the transcript, wherein the deputy previously testified under oath. He did not quite go so far as to suggest my attorney to say something like, “So. Were you lying then? Or are you lying now?” But it was pretty close.

2. Never allow the witness any wiggle room. Only ask questions that can be answered “yes” or “no.”

Had my lawyer been even marginally competent, and had he any integrity whatsoever, I may not have been given the opportunity to sit in this cell and write this. My husband describes Chris McNeill’s performance as “abysmal.” I believe this is too kind. I believe the man was actually working with and for the prosecution, and at least one Frankfort attorney that I know of does not deny this possibility.

For some reason, I now wear a towel on my head at all times. I have spent hours planning my hat for the Kentucky Derby, still months away, but I will wear jail-issue underpants on my head for the event. Wrapped just right, they look like a white do-rag, and they go quite nicely with the cornrows I am also planning.

I also have a solid plan to obtain an extra pair of socks, and I tell Christie, “Check this out. My sock has a big hole in it, right? So, I ask the guard for new socks, but I wrap the ones with holes into the rest of my laundry. She brings me new socks. I take the elastic threads from the old pair and make them into hair ties. Come to Mama!”

“It won’t work,” says Christie.

“What do you mean it won’t work? This is the rock-solidest plan I’ve ever had. I got this.”

“She’ll take them. She’ll take them home, sew the hole, and bring back the old pair.”

“Who the hell does that shit?”

Sure enough, this is exactly what the guard does. She brings the old, now-sewn socks back. She has a male Class D inmate in tow to do some work in the cell, and they begin a conversation about drug court.

The guard says, “All I know is that drug court is really hard.”

“Drug court sucks,” says the Class D.”I got kicked out. Two of us got five years on one check. I was clean. I am a contractor on the outside. I was called for a UA when I was working in Murray. I told them I’d go to the hospital or the jail in Murray, and give them a urine, and pay for it myself. They refused. they sent me to rehab. The day I was discharged I missed an appointment they never told me about, so they violated me. I’ve got eight years on the shelf.”

“Huh,” I say, adjusting the towel on my head. “Funny. I asked for drug court and they denied me, and just gave me eight years without all the bother. Drug court is a scam though, I agree. They probably did me a favor, denying me drug court. Come to think of it, I should have just killed someone. I’d be doing way less time.”

“So, you took it to trial then,” says the Class D.

“Here it comes,” I say.

“Never take anything to trial in McCracken County,” says the Class D. “Everybody knows that.”

“She didn’t know. Not from here,” Christie offers.

Lea says, “Drug Court’s a buuuunch of bullshit. I got kicked out and now I’m doing a nine-month flop in this hole.”

Down the hall, Harry shouts from his isolation cell, “HELP! Let me OUT! HelpmehelpmehelpmeHELP!”

Sirkka, the 4’8″ 105 lb self-described crack whore is, at times, oddly stuck in infancy, and she asks Lea to rub her legs and burp her like a baby. Lea snaps, “You ain’t no damn baby. You are a grown woman!”

The guard says, to Lea, “Well, I guess McCracken is better than Hickman.”

Lea says, “Fulton’s worse. Ricky’s World.”

“Hickman’s worse,” says the Class D.

“Yeah, Hickman,” says the guard. “It’s a dungeon. My sister was there and they feed you, like hog guts, what’s that called?”

“Chitlins?” I offer.

“Tripe?” says Tina.

“Tripe. That’s it.”

“Is that a gland?” I ask.

“Rub my legs,” says Sirkka to me.

“You need to quit. I’m not a pedophile. Really.”

Lea says, “I never shoulda done drug court.”

Later in the day, I find comfort in writing because I find my friend Tina’s case so upsetting that I do not know what else to do.

As near as I can tell, Tina met a man and moved in with him three weeks later, with her two-year-old son. Over time, the child showed various bruises, but she was unconcerned because “of course he had bruises. he was an active little boy.” At some point, there was a bizarre story about the man doing the Heimlich maneuver on the boy. This resulted in a spleen injury, but it seemed to Tina anyway to be the result of a good-faith effort to prevent the boy from choking.

The man was the boy’s caretaker while Tina was at work. One morning in August she went to work at 6AM and received a call at 10 AM, that the man had called 911. He initially reported that he was wrestling with the baby and there was an accident.

The baby was flown to Vanderbilt (the nearest Level One trauma center), where he was later declared brain dead, with “global” brain injury, a broken neck, a bruised intestine and a damaged spleen. He was removed from life support and became an organ donor.

The man later admitted to the murder, and claimed that he himself was a “sociopath.”

Tina, who was at work that day, is charged with complicity to commit murder.

I become close friends with Tina, here and later in prison. I know her as an artist, a deeply religious and spiritual woman with a sense of humor and capacity for love and caring. She was not only crushed by the violent death of her son, but now she is forever marked as a violent criminal. Exhausted and grief-stricken, she often resorts to balling herself up in the corner of the shower, to moan and cry. For court appearances, the jail staff chains her onto the same chain gang as her son’s confessed murderer, and when she returns to the cell in tears, we console her.

Tina’s public defender, who is useless, allows the Commonwealth to threaten her with 60 years if she does not take a plea. Tina tells me one day, “I can’t fight them. I am done. I am out done.” She takes a plea for seven years on lesser charges, and she will serve 85% of that.


Peace, peace

October 24, 2013

Boiling Frog

"Boiling Frog" by Donkey Hotey on flickr

Peace, peace

by Crane-Station
Author’s note: Frog Gravy is a depiction of daily life during incarceration in Kentucky, in 2008 and 2009, first in jails and then in prison, and is reconstructed from my notes.

This post is from prison.

Names have been changed, except for the teacher’s name and the name Columbus Dorsey in this post. My nickname in prison was Bird Lady.

Frog Gravy contains graphic language.

PeWee (pronounced Pee Wee) Valley Women’s Penitentiary near Louisville, KY, 5-4-09

Last night, officers woke three Ridgeview inmates at 2 AM, ordered them to pack their belongings, and then shipped them to Otter Creek, the privately owned prison in Appalachia, Pike County, eastern Kentucky. Inmates are loaded and transported like slaughter cows in the middle of the night. This way, families have no advance notice.

Two of the women were enrolled in college courses on scholarship, and were one exam shy of course completion.

Rhonda was my classmate in Horticulture. I had tutored Ashley, who had never completed the tenth grade, through perfect squares and complex polynomials in Algebra.

Fearful that I may be in the next Otter Creek shipment, I decide to walk to school in the morning to see if I am still enrolled.

As I leave the dorm, Rochelle says, “Bird Lady. Your birds is waitin’ on you.”

“I know. Thank you,” I say.

Twenty-five pairs of black liquid eyes watch my every move. They recognize my face, hat or no hat, pony tail or not., and they follow me and only me. Fussing and chirping, they dive-fly in front of me, reading my kindness for the weakness that it always is.

I toss them some bread when the officer is not looking. Read the rest of this entry »


Monsanto Spends Millions to Kill GMO Labeling Initiative I-522 in WA State

October 24, 2013

Monsanto Spends Millions to Kill GMO Labeling Initiative I-522 in WA State
by Crane-Station

Voters are already mailing in ballots for food labeling initiative I-522 in Washington State, where large food corporations have set a state record, contributing 17.1 million dollars, to defeat the truth-in-labeling initiative. A ‘Yes’ vote supports labeling of foods to reflect that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are in food where genetic enginnering was utitized. The ballot summary states:

This measure would require foods produced entirely or partly with genetic engineering, as defined, to be labeled as genetically engineered when offered for retail sale in Washington, beginning in July 2015. The labeling requirement would apply generally to raw agricultural commodities, processed foods, and seeds and seed stock, with some exceptions, but would not require that specific genetically-engineered ingredients be identified. The measure would authorize state enforcement and civil penalties, and allow private enforcement actions.

The ballot is significant in Washington State because, as it explains: “Agriculture is Washington’s number one employer and wheat is Washington’s number two export crop, second only to goods and services produced by the Boeing company, and ahead of Microsoft, which ranks third. Preserving the identity, quality, and reliability of Washington’s agricultural products is of prime importance to our state’s fiscal health.”

Shameless and arrogant agribusiness behemoth Monsanto leads the way in donations to defeat the initiative (ie. election buying), not even bothering, in an oddly honest way, to hide its 4.8 million dollar donation to an effort that would in essence allow dishonesty in food labeling.

Other large companies in the Big Food Lobby like General Mills, Inc. ($598,819), PepsiCo, Inc.($1,620,899), Kellogg Company ($221,852), Nestlé USA, Inc. ($1,052,743) and ConAgra Foods ($285,281), aka Big Junk Foods, slithered around in secret meetings, laundering money and hiding donor disclosure until Washington’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit against ‘junk food lobby’ Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), forcing them to disclose their identities and donation amounts. The disclosure was published on October 18.

Final ballots will be cast in Washington on November 5. Ballot initiative I-522 is similar to California’s Proposition 37, which was narrowly rejected by voters last year. Given the fierce battle that is unfolding in Washington and the amount of money that large companies are pumping into what amounts to a propaganda campaign that one might associate with a different era, some Washington voters fear that the truth-in-labeling initiative in Washington will fail as well.

The bottom line is, Monsanto and its supporters who supply our food do not want to be honest with the consumer, nor do they want the consumer to make informed decisions, for fear that informed decisions will decrease profit. Without even getting into discussions about why, for example, Monsanto’s scientists failed to foresee that weeds would become resistant to their best-selling miracle weed-killer RoundUp, we can surely agree that from a philosophical view, we have a basic right to know whether or not the food we put into our mouths has been produced through a process of genetic modification.

The ballot initiative does not ask, “Do you think Monsanto has done a pretty good job of convincing you that it is not Pure Evil this time around, or do you still want to shower and check for your wallet every time you see their name?”

The initiative states, in pertinent part:

Read the rest of this entry »


13-year-old shot and killed by Santa Rosa sheriff’s deputies

October 23, 2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Good afternoon again:

More bad news, this time from the Bay Area.

Yesterday, Santa Rosa Sheriff’s deputies shot and killed a 13-year-old boy who was walking down the street carrying a plastic replica of an assault weapon.

He is the third person to have been shot by police in the Bay Area during the past 24 hours.

The boy’s name is Andy Lopez.

File under “situation crazy, getting crazier.”

(H/T to Ace Mayo for posting the link to the story.)


We must end bullying in our schools

October 22, 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

 

Good morning:

(H/T to ay2z for the link to the video)

Time to recognize that bullying is a national problem and should no longer be tolerated.

A little over a year ago, Melinda Coleman was forced to move her family out of Maryville, Missouri after her 14-year old daughter was sexually assaulted by a popular 17-year-old boy who is a member of an influential family. After the boy was arrested and charged, she was fired without explanation and her daughter was subjected to a campaign of vicious and relentless hatred that forced the family to move . Charges against the boy were dropped without explanation and the family’s empty home was burned to the ground. The daughter has twice attempted suicide since the assault.

Last month 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick jumped to her death from a tower at an abandoned cement plant in Polk County, Florida after being subjected to a campaign of vicious and relentless hatred by two jealous girls and their friends.

Although little is known regarding what prompted the shooting yesterday at the middle school in Sparks, Nevada, one student who knew the shooter has identified retaliation for bullying as a possible motive. CNN reports:

“He was really a nice kid,” schoolmate Amaya Newton said. “He would make you smile when you were having bad day.”

But for whatever reason, the boy, whom authorities have not identified, took his parents’ handgun to school, a federal law enforcement source said.

“I believe it was because I saw him getting bullied a couple of times, and I think he took out his bullying,” Amaya said.

Bullying is not confined to immature teenagers who believe it’s cool to be cruel. Crane and I have been subjected to bullying because we dared to seek justice for Trayvon Martin and I am certain that what we have been subjected to pales in comparison to what Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin have endured.

We understand how a victim of bullying can be driven to suicide or to lash out with a gun.

A person has to be self-confident and comfortable in their own skin to resist the urge to strike back at the haters. For some, suicide becomes the only way to find peace.

 

No doubt some people will react to this latest school shooting by blaming the shooter’s parents for not securing the gun. Others will argue for effective gun control. Still others will insist that the solution to school shootings is more guns.

The arguments are well known to us, but none of them are working because the shootings continue and nothing is changing.

CNN has the nationwide tally on school shootings since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Last week, a student at an Austin, Texas, high school killed himself in front of other students.

In August, a student at a high school in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, shot and wounded another student in the neck.

Another shooting took place at an Atlanta middle school in January, though no one was hit.

That same month, a California high school student wounded two people, one seriously.

The Nevada shooting comes almost a year after a gunman killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, igniting nationwide debate over gun violence and school safety.

I believe we need to look beneath the surface to identify why students take guns to school, and if we do that, I believe we will find that bullying is a significant cause.

We may not be able to change the law to realize effective gun control in our lifetimes, but we ought to be able to significantly reduce bullying.

 


Egregious Public Defender Misconduct

October 20, 2013

by Crane-Station

Several publishers I queried for Frog Gravy asked about the details of my legal case. How do you get convicted of a DUI without drugs or alcohol in the blood? How do you get convicted of possession, when 3 officers search you, your car and belongings for 1.25 hours by the side of the road and found no contraband? For the past year, I have investigated my own public defender’s case file, and have made some shocking discoveries. This is the first of at least ten things I found. I will post the others separately. I always assumed prosecutors were dirty. I never dreamed that one who is a public defender, and ‘Advocate’ for the indigent and underserved, could be so disgusting, as to go to any lengths possible, to ensure maximum harm to a client, resorting even, to criminal activity.

Due to the post’s length, you may wish to read it in parts. Rest assured, 10 or 12 equally horrendous examples will follow.

Background: Basic Case Summary

1. My true name is Rachel Ahmann Leatherman.

2. On or about June 26, 2006, I was arrested and charged in McCracken County with possession of cocaine (crack), tampering with evidence and DUI.

3. Private counsel represented me for a Preliminary Hearing and a Suppression Hearing. I obtained transcripts of these hearings, and ordered additional official transcripts that included a Grand Jury hearing transcript, and a 911 call transcript.

4. The trial court appointed attorney Chris McNeill [McNeill], Director of the Department of Public Advocacy to represent me after finding me indigent. McNeill represented me through the trial and beyond, which included a period of time from conviction through final sentencing, until Julia Pearson in Frankfort’s DPA office assumed appellate representation duties.

5. My trial began on January 22, 2008 and ended on January 23, 2008. I was convicted by a jury of all three charges. In March, 2008, I was sentenced to eight years in prison.

6. I appealed the convictions. All were affirmed in a published opinion by the Court of Appeals.

7. The Supreme Court of Kentucky denied review on 2/15/2012. The United States Supreme Court denied cert on or about 10/15/2012.

8. Sometime after the United States Supreme Court denied cert, I requested by FOIA some materials related to my case, including McNeill’s case file. I reviewed the materials in the late fall of 2012 and for the next several months, and I continue to review the materials today.

9. My Bar complaint is against Chris McNeill [McNeill].

10. McNeill heads the DPA office in Paducah. He has several Western Kentucky counties under his purview as a public advocate as well. He also has a main role in Drug Court. McNeill has been given awards recently, from the KBA, namely, where the KBA, in 2012, awarded McNeill with a “Professionalism and Excellence Award.” He was also given a trial award in 2012.
http://dpa.ky.gov/NR/rdonlyres/A4E59688-A807-4914-BAC3-3FB616475BD6/0/2012AnnualReportDraftFINAL090612REDUCED.pdf

11. The Commonwealth appointed James Harris [Harris] to prosecute my case sometime after my hearing on suppression in November, 2006. My understanding is that Harris works part time for the Commonwealth and maintains an outside office and legal practice in Paducah.

12. I believe that McNeill acted unethically and violated the Professional Code of Conduct that states:
KENTUCKY BAR ASSOCIATION
RULES OF THE SUPREME COURT OF KENTUCKY
PRACTICE OF LAW
SCR 3.130(8.4) Misconduct
It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:
(a) violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assist or induce
another to do so, or do so through the acts of another;
(b) commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or
fitness as a lawyer in other respects;
(c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;
(e) knowingly assist a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of applicable Rules of
Judicial Conduct or other law.
HISTORY; Amended by Order 2009-05, eff. 7-15-09; adopted by Order 89-1, eff. 1-1-90

I.
McNeill filed an ex-parte post-trial, secret agreed “supplementary order” without my knowledge or consent, and without motion, hearing or response from me, denying my pre-trial suppression motion.
The agreed order set aside suppression hearing testimony and substituted it with trial testimony and additional false statements of material fact. The order was devastating.

In reality, Harris wrote the order and faxed it to McNeill on September 27, 2007, four months before the trial, and four months before trial testimony had yet occurred.

McNeill concealed that he had the order prior to trial and still denies that he knew anything about it until he received a copy of it. In addition, McNeill refused to take corrective action, ignoring multiple written requests.

The agreed order, that accurately ‘predicted’ trial testimony four months prior to trial, is quoted verbatim in the published Court of Appeals opinion affirming my convictions. In addition, there are significant changes, from the faxed proposed order to the actual order, and from the first to the second, to the third (post trial) orders that must be carefully compared to the actual 911 call, the 911 dispatch recordings and all pre-trial under-oath testimony, because these changes indicate and reflect a deliberate effort to 1) suborn perjury pursuant to specific suppression issues at trial and 2) remove, delete, alter or otherwise hide from the record, both testimonial as well as recorded evidence in a criminal trial, essentially disappearing any and all evidence and testimony that supported my defense in any way.

The events surrounding the post-trial order are:
1. The trial took place on January 22, and 23, 2008. On January 23, 2008, after the jury convicted me on all charges and recommended an 8-year sentence, the trial court judge, Hon. Craig Clymer, ordered me into custody in the McCracken County Jail, where I began to serve my sentence, and also began to make plans to appeal all convictions. McNeill continued to represent me in the interim.

2. I told McNeill (through my husband), who had not represented me at the pretrial suppression hearing, that I wanted to appeal the convictions. The judge had issued an order denying suppression prior to trial, on January 18, 2008, that set aside a previous order, that was issued January 11, 2007.

3. I wished to appeal Judge Clymer’s denial of my motion to suppress evidence because his findings of fact were not supported by the testimony of the arresting officer, who was the only witness who testified at the suppression hearing, and the conclusions of law were also unsupported by the officer’s testimony.

4. On several occasions, my husband and I explained why we believed the trial court committed reversible error when it denied my motion to suppress. My husband provided written copies of all communications to McNeill. (McNeill spoke only to my husband, Fred Leatherman. He rarely spoke to me, let alone inform me of anything, directly.)The copies of my husband’s letters are in the case file. We told McNeill the following (see #5, for what we told McNeill, regarding my plans to appeal):

5. The arresting officer’s testimony raised three legal issues for the court to decide.

a. Pursuant to United States v. Hensley, 469 U.S. 221 (1985), did the arresting officer have a reasonable suspicion to justify an investigatory stop of my vehicle based on the caller’s 911 call in which the caller said,

i. “There’s this lady talking to my neighbor in my neighbor’s yard and writing stuff down in a book and she had mentioned something about heroin and all that stuff.” When the dispatcher asked what I was writing in a notebook, the caller said he did not know.

ii. The dispatcher then told the officer that a woman in a neighborhood was “asking about 218A.” 218 A is a KRS statute.

iii. In Hensley the SCOTUS held that the trial court’s decision regarding reasonable suspicion must be based on what the caller said (not what the dispatcher said) and the caller’s statement in my case was insufficient to support a reasonable suspicion that I had committed a crime, was committing a crime, or was about to commit a crime.

iv. Judge Clymer had ignored Hensley, which is directly on point and binding authority on all state and federal courts in the nation.

b. In the alternative, did the arresting officer have a reasonable suspicion to justify an investigatory stop of my vehicle based on my driving? The officer testified that my driving was appropriate, saying that it did not draw his attention as to weaving, and that “speed wasn’t a factor,” during his testimony at the pretrial hearing.

c. Finally, did the arresting officer stop me or did I voluntarily initiate a citizen-police contact in which case the protection of the Fourth Amendment did not apply? Judge Clymer made findings and conclusions that the encounter was voluntary because the officer did not stop me. He claimed, in the January 18, 2008 order denying suppression, “The officer did not conduct a stop of the vehicle.” I disagreed, based on the officer’s testimony at suppression, the dispatch CAD sheet, and the dispatch audio communications, the verbal codes used in the dispatch audio communications, the dispatch time stamps, the in-dash cam videotape, and the officer’s uniform citation, and narrative, as well as his grand jury testimony.

i. In the suppression hearing and in previous hearings, the arresting officer repeatedly testified that he “stopped” me, or pulled me over, or “fell in behind” me and stopped me, or that he stopped me based upon a call, or that he “located the vehicle and stopped it.” The in-dash video shows me slowing to a stop in the emergency lane with my right turn signal on. The dash cam clearly shows that the officer’s flashing lights are on. In addition to his testimony that the officer stopped me based upon a call in all hearings prior to trial, both his written uniform citation as well as his written narrative report state that he stopped my vehicle (“I fell in behind the vehicle and stopped it.”) Also, on the dispatch tape, the officer states to dispatch, using call codes ‘stop and pickup’ and he tells dispatch, “We’re going inbound. I got her in front of me now. Pickup (at Cairo Road) and stop. I’m sorry, yeah, pickup.” He told dispatch he was stopping me and picking me up, before he ever spoke to me. The officer obviously stopped me. The court’s findings of fact regarding the stop were false, and the conclusions of law were also false.

ii. In addition to what he said to dispatch about the “stop and pickup” and when he said it, the officer never testified that I pulled over and stopped before he activated his emergency lights, and then he pulled in behind me and stopped, in any hearing or document, prior to trial, including the suppression hearing.

iii. The in-dash video camera videotape was given to the court to consider, at the suppression hearing. I had supplemented the record with both the 911 call tape and 911 call official transcript and the dispatch (including CAD call sheet) transcript (and tape), prior to January 18, 2008, when the court issued its second order denying suppression.

iv. Also, the blood test toxicology results for alcohol and drug content of my blood, were given to the court to consider at suppression. There was no alcohol (0.00), and there were “no drugs detected,” in my blood. Four roadside PBT tests were administered and recorded on the tape, and those indicated no alcohol.

v. Also at suppression, the officer admitted that other than a roadside HGN, he had no reason to suspect impaired driving. The officer admitted that a 1.25 hour search of me, my car, and my belongings, my pockets, my breasts, my crotch and my shoes was “thorough,” and that no contraband was found. The officer conceded that he would not arrest for a DUI based on HGN alone. The officer also conceded that “glassy eyes” could be due to any number of things. Nonetheless, he arrested me.

vi. Also, the tape shows the officer improperly administering the HGN, with me facing the strobing (flashing) lights, holding the pen too close and swiping it too quickly, all departures from NHTSA procedure.

d. Although nothing is a certainty on appeal, I believed the trial court’s order denying my motion to suppress evidence would not withstand appellate review and I so informed McNeill.

6. Sometime after my trial in 2008, while I was in jail awaiting sentencing, and after I had explained (through my husband) to McNeill both my intent to appeal as well as the legal and factual reasoning behind the suppression issue, I received in the mail a bewildering and unexpected new “supplementary” order from the court denying suppression. The order was dated January 28th, which was five days after the jury found me guilty.

7. The new, post-trial order was on a different basis and grounds than the pre-trial suppression order. The new order set aside everything that had been offered at suppression, and substituted it with trial testimony and other false statements that matched no testimony at any time. The trial testimony was a completely new and different (opposite) story, with new, added and different facts, and the trial testimony favored the Commonwealth completely.

8. The post-trial order eliminated Finding of Fact 1, which was a verbatim recitation of what the caller told the 911 operator, and replaced it with the arresting officer’s testimony at the trial that materially contradicted his testimony at the suppression hearing. With the exception of my driving that the officer witnessed, what the caller said in the call, was the only relevant information to consider in determining whether the he had a reasonable suspicion to pull me over, in the first place.

9. But in the new order, what the caller said was eliminated. In the new order, my driving had changed, from appropriate to “unusual, disturbing and suspicious.” The words “unusual,” disturbing,” “unusually” and “suspicious” are repeated over and over in the new ‘supplementary’ post-trial order. The words are repeated so often that they attract attention.

10. Although I had official court reporter transcripts with me during the trial of the arresting officer’s testimony at the suppression hearing, grand jury, and preliminary hearings available for McNeill to use in cross examining the arresting officer regarding his numerous prior inconsistent statements under oath, McNeill refused to use them to confront the new trial story.

11. Also, my husband provided McNeill with a list of 127 questions, regarding the officer’s changing stories in the previous hearings. McNeill refused to attack the arresting officer’s yet-again changed testimony at the trial. McNeill allowed the officer to testify to a new story at trial. The new story was new in ways that it coincidentally changed on certain specific issues that might arise on appeal.

12. The new story at trial changed on certain specific issues that my husband had addressed with McNeill, verbally, and in writing. My husband believed he was communicating with McNeill in confidence. Had my husband known that McNeill was betraying confidence, he would never have spoken to McNeill, nor would he have emailed McNeill. McNeill did not have consent and permission to share these communications. Nonetheless, I believe he betrayed my confidence, through my husband, continuously and intentionally.

13. Since the supplementary post-trial order relied on trial testimony, with added never-before-heard facts and since the post-trial order was to my extreme detriment, for appealing the suppression order issued prior to trial, I asked McNeill why this happened. He told me the trial court had acted alone (sua sponte), and that he had no idea why it had done such a thing.

14. However, the order states in the introduction that the court issued the order per defense specific request to consider additional information. This statement is false.

15. Despite many requests from me and my husband that McNeill file a motion to strike the supplementary order, however, he never did. He thus also allowed the court to believe I had insisted on the detrimental order.

16. Imagine my surprise when I discovered a copy of the supplementary order, containing materially different trial testimony, in McNeill’s case file, after I served a lengthy sentence. The order, with new and different trial testimony, was faxed to McNeill from Harris, and dated September 27, 2007, four months before my trial. At that time, the order, with testimony from a trial that was yet-to-occur, was unsigned. In addition, a memorandum accompanied the order.

17. McNeill not only knew about the order before Judge Clymer signed it, he knew about it four months before the witnesses testified at the trial. The order, which at one point McNeill labeled “work copy” in his own handwriting, was faxed to him from Harris on September 27, 2007, at 3:38 PM.

18. Incidentally, the order remained on Harris’s formatted letterhead in the record; the court signed the order after the trial without re-formatting it or re-typing it onto the court’s usual formatted letterhead. Since the order was misrepresented as an agreed order in a nonconsensual ex pare setting with the court after the conclusion of my criminal trial, the court did no re-format to the court’s usual letterhead, likely because the order did not originate with the court, nor was it typed on the court’s computer terminal.

19. One of the trial witnesses was the arresting officer who repeatedly contradicted his previous testimony under oath and his written reports, as well as the direct evidence in the recorded dispatch tapes. As I said previously, McNeill refused to cross examine the officer about those prior inconsistent statements and now I believe I know why he refused. McNeill knew well in advance that the story would be changed yet again, at trial.

20. Two of the trial witnesses were police officers who assisted the arresting officer at the scene of the investigatory stop and arrest. Neither of them had prepared written reports regarding the incident or testified about it until the trial, 18 months later and four months after the supplementary order accurately ‘predicted’ their testimony.

21. The first statement in the supplementary order, authored by Harris, is false. It reads, “The defendant has requested the Court to consider additional information and evidence supplementing the record in this case, based upon which the Court makes the following supplemental Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law in denying defendant’s motion to suppress:” I made no such request. Not only was I in jail without a telephone card, I would never purposefully request something harmful, let alone devastating. (my italics)

22. Further, the order’s quoted trial testimony language contains many of the testimonial words of Harris, who introduced them for the first time at trial, in the form of his narratives and leading questions that had not been met with any objection from McNeill. Before that, the words of Harris, “unusual, disturbing and suspicious,” for example, had never been uttered by any witness in any hearing or witness document, in any court setting, prior to trial.

23. Harris testified at trial without being under oath and without being subject to cross examination, because McNeill allowed it, by refusing to object and preserve the record.

24. There was no hearing, no hearing proposal, no motion, no request for a motion, no request for a response from me, and the jail staff had not escorted me to Court. There was nothing pending with the court; the trial record was complete. I only received a letter after the trial, in the mail. I did not know about, nor did I agree to, anything whatsoever in the agreed order.

25. Since McNeill had adopted the position throughout the entire case pendency not to talk to me, but to use my husband as a middle person, I called my husband, who would in turn inform McNeill. It was in this manner that I requested that McNeill both preserve the record by objecting to the bizarre ‘supplementary’ order, and to move the court to strike the agreed order based on a ‘defense request’ from the record.

26. McNeill refused to take any action whatsoever to object to the post-trial order, despite both me and my husband, in the form of me on the phone to my husband, and in writing from my husband to McNeill, requesting that he do something.

For example, on 3/4/2008 and in McNeill’s case file, stamped pages 182, 183 and 184, my husband wrote to McNeill:
“Finally, please don’t forget to point out that the defense didn’t request the supplementary order.”

There are numerous other such pointed written requests, over the period between January and March, 2008, that constitute begging McNeill to perform one reasonable, basic and requested lawyer duty in my best interest in this matter. He refused.

29. McNeill answered the repeated requests with inaction and unanswered letters.

30. The post-trial supplementary order reflects an interaction between me (through counsel) and the court that never occurred.

31. The order is silent reflecting default agreement, as to any Commonwealth response to my nonexistent request that the court reconsider suppression again. Ironically, the only passive action in the fictitious order is the Commonwealth’s lack of response, in a nonconsensual agreed order, authored by none other than Harris.

32. I believe it is unethical for a public defender to present a fraudulent and detrimental agreed order with the prosecutor, denying pretrial suppression, to the trial court after trial in a secret ex parte setting for court signing, and then lie to the client, and refuse to take corrective action, when someone’s liberty and future is at stake.

33. There is now a 26-page published opinion affirming my conviction that bases the affirmation regarding suppression on the language and guidance of the fraudulent “supplementary” order. It is as if a 2006 pre-trial suppression hearing never took place. It was as if the other pre-trial hearings never even occurred. It was as if the 911 call and the 911 dispatch exchange never happened. It was as if a new and different case was presented at trial.

34. On pages 10, 11, 12 in the published opinion, the post-trial ‘agreed order’ is recited, verbatim.

RENDERED: JANUARY 21, 2011; 10:00 A.M.
TO BE PUBLISHED
Commonwealth of Kentucky
Court of Appeals
NO. 2008-CA-000849-MR
RACHEL LEATHERMAN APPELLANT
APPEAL FROM MCCRACKEN CIRCUIT COURT
v. HONORABLE CRAIG Z. CLYMER, JUDGE
ACTION NO. 06-CR-00408
COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY APPELLEE

35. The post-trial supplementary order was not an isolated incident. It was part of a pattern of deliberate acts, betrayal of trust and confidence, and outright lying. For example, McNeill assured me over and over “not to worry,” because the notice of appeal had been “filed” because he had “tendered” the notice of appeal on April 2, 2008. He failed to mention the fee, and had my husband not looked up the statute and paid the fee at the last minute (on April 30, 2008 with borrowed money), my appeal would have been dismissed outright.

to be continued


Government shutdown crisis continues without a solution

October 16, 2013

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Good morning:

I have been up all night composing this article about the failure of our Congress to increase our government’s debt limit. I conclude that the so-called financial crisis is not a real crisis and the Tea Party Republicans are financial terrorists generally committed to destroying our government and specifically committed to destroying Obamacare by blocking efforts to increase the deficit to fund it.

I followed events all day yesterday expecting Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell would reach an agreement late yesterday or today and the Senate would pass a bill substantially consistent with that agreement.

That did not happen because the House Republicans decided to meet and resume their effort to reach an agreement, an act that Reid and McConnell interpreted as a rejection of their efforts. Therefore, they decided to stop their effort.

The 271 House Republicans spent most of the day attempting to reach an agreement but ultimately could not agree to any of the bills under consideration. They finally gave up and cancelled a scheduled vote.

The New York Times described what happened.

By Tuesday afternoon, House Republican leaders were back with a new proposal to fund the government through Dec. 15, extend the debt ceiling into February and deprive not only lawmakers but all their staff members of employer assistance to buy their health care. By extending that provision to staff members, Republican leaders hoped to appeal to its far-right flank, but it angered more moderate Republicans and was not enough for the conservative hard core.

Complicating the speaker’s task, Heritage Action, the conservative Heritage Foundation’s political arm, which wields great influence with the most conservative elements of the Republican Party, opposed the plan.

“I think there’s always hope there can be a final package I can vote on, but this is not the one,” said Representative Ted Yoho, Republican of Florida, as he and two other Tea Party conservatives left the speaker’s office.

The major stumbling point preventing the Republicans from agreeing on a proposal was a disagreement regarding whether lawmakers and their staff members should pay the full cost of their health insurance premiums, unlike most workers at American companies, and how to restrict the administration from using flexibility to extend the debt limit beyond a fixed deadline.

Of course, this disagreement actually has nothing to do with the crisis, which is about raising the $16.7 trillion government debt limit. According to the Treasury Department, the federal government has approximately $35 billion in cash on hand and “expects to run out of “extraordinary measures” to keep on paying all of the government’s bills on Thursday, at which point outgoing payments might exceed that cash, plus any revenues, on any day going forward.”

After the House Republicans abandoned their effort to agree on a proposal, Harry Reid and Mitch McDonnell resumed their effort to agree on a bill to present to the Senate for a vote. A spokesperson for majority leader Reid announced that he was optimistic that he and Senator McConnell would soon reach an agreement. That has not happened as of 6 am, Central Daylight Time.

According to the National Journal,

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Senators were discussing a deal that would fund the government until January 15 and raise the debt limit until February 7. It would also create a bicameral conference to come to a long-term tax and spending plan, with a report due by December 13. The proposal would only touch Obamacare at the margins: tightening income-verification standards for people who receive subsidies and a possible one-year delay of the reinsurance tax, which is paid by employers.

Assuming they do reach an agreement and the Senate passes it, the House must still approve it.

Unless many of the Republicans in the House vote for the Senate bill, there is no way that the House will pass it.

I believe the goal of the Tea Party Republicans is to shut down the federal government indefinitely. I do not believe they are negotiating in good faith and I predict Thursday will come and go without an agreement to raise the debt limit. According to Mother Jones, for example, Tea Party Republicans were pushing to add an anti-abortion birth-control provision to the debt ceiling deal. The provision would permit all private sector employers who pay for employee health insurance to refuse to cover the cost of birth control.

Injecting a contentious irrelevant issue at the last minute into a bitter debate on increasing the debt ceiling to avoid forcing the government to default on its financial obligations only serves to derail legitimate debate. I consider it to be an act of financial terrorism.

Assuming the Congress fails to pass a bill increasing the debt limit, President Obama should end the shutdown, order all federal employees back to work, and direct the Treasury to pay all of its financial obligations when they come due. This would include issuing checks to government employees with full backpay.

The United States does not have to borrow money because it issues its own currency and the dollar is the world’s preferred currency. Issuing new currency does not require printing new money. It can be accomplished by the Federal Reserve throwing a few switches to credit the Treasury.

In fact, the debt-limit statute is unnecessary and should be abolished. With the exception of Denmark, the United States is the only nation in the world with such a statute. There is a good reason why other nations do not have such a statute.

Nations create budgets for each fiscal year and when they do, they consider national debt as well as the amount budgeted. When our Congress passes a budget, it should be presumed to have authorized paying for everything in the budget. That is the procedure followed by every other nation, except Denmark.

Put another way, the Congress should not be permitted to shut down the federal government because it refuses to increase the nation’s debt to fund the federal budget that it passed. For example, Congress should not be permitted to use the debt limit statute to prevent funding Obamacare, a program that Congress considered and approved.

That is why the Congress has routinely approved every request to increase the national debt for many years with the notable exception of the Republicans once during the Clinton administration and again during the Obama administration.

It is long past time to call-out the Tea Party Republicans for what they are: a group of financial terrorists committed to destroying our national government.


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