Archive for category Justice
Even 15 months after the most horrendous mass killing of children and adults in recent history, the wounds are still fresh…
A year anniversary passed in December….
A Governor appointed Advisory Council is still grappling with the “why of it” in hopes of gaining insight into the prevention of another mass tragedy of its kind.
Guns, mental health, school oversight, and parental responsibility aside, a town grieves daily. But there are signs of renewed hope with a new architectural design for a new school just completed and a Selectwoman who continues to lead with grace and thoughtfulness. Using a delicate balance of completing town business and always keeping those who died in our hearts and minds., Pat Llodra accomplishes her mission to ensure the safety and best interests of her residents.
A MATTER OF PRIVACY
Release of the 911 tapes: “Release of the audio recordings will also allow the public to consider and weigh what improvements, if any, should be made to law enforcement’s response to such incidents,” Superior Court Judge Eliot Prescott said.
Pat Llodra, First Selectwoman of Newtown compared the steady leak of information about the investigation of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School to “Chinese water torture she now believes recordings of 911 calls from the school should be made public.
“Every day, there is something in the media that drags us back to that terrible day,” Llodra said. “I think everything that can be released should be released.” She asked that media “treat us kindly” in December 2013, just three months ago.
Although each and every victim has their own opinion regarding what is appropriate and what they can personally tolerate, in the final analysis, dispatchers were calm and handled the situation as trained. However, this event has opened up a Pandora’s box in that victim’s privacy issues have never been so exposed. Does anyone really want or need to see photographs of dead children and carnage from perpetrator Adam Lanza?
Does the “principles of Free speech” and journalism trump human decency? Should we rein in the Freedom of Information Act in certain circumstances?
Raised Bill 388 of the Connecticut General Assembly-
AN ACT IMPLEMENTING THE RECOMMENDATION OF THE TASK FORCE ON VICTIM PRIVACY AND THE PUBLIC’S RIGHT TO KNOW.
Link to Text of the Bill: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2014/TOB/S/2014SB-00381-R00-SB.htm
This bill seemingly covers all bases in scope with 29 separate provisions stating: “Nothing in the Freedom of Information Act shall be construed to require disclosure of…” in situations in which various documents, files or images, it has been determined that the withholding of such in the public’s interest clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure and such disclosures would constitute an invasion of personal privacy.
Specific provisions added as they relate to crime victims include 27 through 29:
(27) Any record created by a law enforcement agency or other federal, state, or municipal governmental agency consisting of a photograph, film, video or digital or other visual image depicting the body or any portion of the body of a victim of a homicide, to the extent that the disclosure of such record could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, [of the victim or the victim's surviving family members.] provided nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to prohibit the inspection of such a record in accordance with section 2 of this act;
(28) Any record created by a law enforcement agency or other federal, state or municipal governmental agency consisting of an audio recording of an emergency 9-1-1 call or other call for assistance that is made by a member of the public when such call (A) relates to a homicide, and (B) captures, conveys or relates to the impaired physical condition of the caller or another person, to the extent that the disclosure of such record could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, provided nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to prohibit listening to such record in accordance with section 2 of this act;
(29) Any record created by a law enforcement agency or other federal, state or municipal governmental agency consisting of an audio recording that is an operative communication among law enforcement personnel when such communication (A) relates to a homicide, and (B) captures, conveys or relates the impaired physical condition of the caller or another person, to the extent that the disclosure of such record could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, provided nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prohibit listening to such record in accordance with section 2 of this act.
(Bracketed text is recommended for deletion while the remainder of 27-29 was underlined in the Bill, meaning that it is new information to be added). As can be noted, this language covers records, photos, videos created by law enforcement,, depicting a body or a portion thereof, audio recordings that convey information concerning a homicide or the impaired physical conditions of victims, and requests for copies of images and audio recordings, including copying of images in which victim families have submitted a written objection to the image.
The other provisions include “everything but the kitchen sink” such as medical files, trade secrets, financial and commercial, content of real estate appraisals , records between those with privileged relationships, school enrollment records, investigative records, adoptive records, town petitions, educational and mental health records, security manuals, emergency plans, correctional institution material, records from government owned or leased institutions, security system information, Department of Transportation records, parks and recreation minor attendees, etc.
This Bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee as of 3-4-2014 after which a Public Hearing of the Government Administration and Elections Committee was held on 3-10-2014, lasting 5½ hours (inclusive of all bills within that committee.) Link: http://www.ctn.state.ct.us/ctnplayer.asp?odID=10015
The number of entities testifying on behalf and against this bill is listed as follows:
To date, the GAE Committee voted 8 to 6 in favor of the bill. It may pass on to other committees prior to the end of the session on May 7th (a short legislative session this year.)
IN MY OPINION:
The Constitutional rights of freedom of speech and the public’s right to know need to be forever balanced. When respect and human dignity are “thrown out the window” in favor of media ratings than we have sunk to a new low in society. I am not sure when we veered off course in favor of sensationalism and gore. However, I do know that the pendulum needs to swing back. Crime victims need to take control and draw clear boundaries for themselves. This is an area with which we should not have to be concerned. However, we are placed in this position by the sheer number of atrocities occurring. Let’s stop the madness and use some common sense and human decency. Government should not have to legislate human decency! If this legislation is passed by the end of the session, may it serve as a model for other states as well as a cautionary tale regarding journalists’ lack of moral compass.
With that said, an answer to reliving some of the pain of a surviving family’s experience following homicide, is my customized Victim Impact Statement Assistance. Using my skills and experience, I can paint the picture with and for you, such that the court or Board of Pardons and Parole can truly know your family member. It will be a testament of the heart, relieving you of the burden at a most vulnerable time. If I can help you or your family, please contact me.
In the Shadow of Sandy Hook What Should be the Yardstick for Victim’s Privacy?
“No One Stepped Into Their Path”- the Prophecy of Monica Caison and the CUE Center for Missing Persons
“The silence of ignorance can be deafening and therefore we must break it whenever the opportunity is presented.” Donna R. Gore
The book “The Road Less Traveled” has made publishing history, with more than 10 years on The New York Times bestseller list, sales of more than 7 million copies translation into more than 23 languages. It’s been 36 years since its inception into the publishing world. Author M. Scott Peck’s timeless message concerns the nature of loving relationships and helps to distinguish dependency from love; how to become a more sensitive parent; and ultimately how to become one’s own true self. Its opening line is “Life is difficult and the journey to spiritual growth is a long one.” ‘So true…
Although books have their place, I submit to you that no author has made the impact as compared to “the school of hard knocks” on a person-to-person level, touching the flesh, the hearts and souls of humanity than Monica Caison., Founder of the CUE Center for Missing Persons.
Monica is a warrior in tune with the woods, the waterways, the alleys, the streets, ultimately the ramshackle lives of those ho “go missing” for inexplicable and heart wrenching reasons. The truly amazing attributes of the CUE Center for the Missing rest with their founding principles and the lack of judgment. No matter what the circumstance, the Cue Center is there to serve.
Particular phrases come to mind – self sacrifice, going way beyond the extra mile …”colorblindness,” volunteerism at its best, compassion, lots of tough love, strategic coordination, crying and laughing in the same conversation, never leaving a person without a “port in the storm.”” Never say never,” “All things are possible with the right plan of action.”
With an eye toward the future as all good CEOs should have, the organization not only carries on, but thrives with dedication and heart, including new projects on the horizon that will increase visibility and education, changing attitudes and putting the focus where it needs to be… on the victims and their families, as human beings deserving of respect, attention and the full complement of resources afforded everyone.
Offering a wide range of free services, CUE has since helped more than 9,000 families in what is often the most confusing and desperate times of their lives. In addition to providing services for the missing and their families, CUE offers college internships and youth mentoring programs.
CUE is entirely donation funded and staffed by volunteers, including Monica Caison, who takes no salary from the organization.
What was simply a dream, name and purpose, is now a nationally-recognized center that answers hundreds of calls for help each year.
Donations to CUE Center are gratefully accepted at their website: http://ncmissingpersons.org
10th Annual National Missing Persons Conference
The Theme: “Breaking the Silence” Victim No More” speaks to breaking the silence by setting family members free to tell their story, educating, the public, law enforcement, and other agencies who have pre-conceived ideas about what it’s like to be a victim, to make the effort to really know who is missing and to communicate with the people who can provide the most assistance without regard to past history.
There is a liberation that a victim experiences and a sense of community and safeguarding when you first “reveal your painful soul” to an audience who well knows what you have experienced. Rather than “living in a fishbowl,” you feel a sense of relief like never before. I bore witness to this in the new connections made this year at the 10th Annual Conference (always a reunion for repeat attendees).
There is always that person who walks in the door not knowing anything about the CUE, having come as a result of a news story, an advertisement, an electronic link, a personal recommendation. No matter how they arrive, it doesn’t take long to feel the magic of camaraderie and Southern hospitality, regardless from what state members travel.
I am thinking of a woman who may have been tormented for answers concerning her mother who tragically went missing by a combination of forces, an athletic spirit for hiking, an iron will to “do it her way” and worsening dementia. Evidently, this was a lethal combination. Does it make it any less heartbreaking that she was participating in a sport she truly loved? Does it make it worse that her daughter had plans to implement her “plan of action” concerning her mother’s worsening memory next week, when next week never came? I do not know. What I do know is that she spoke publicly, seemingly “blossomed like a flower” and came to her own peaceful conclusion with her former major regrets.
Presentations at CUE Center for Missing Persons Conference
- Raymond Bechard- Author, Producer, Human Rights Advocate and Human Trafficking Expert;
- David Sullivan – Retired Sheriff, Lead Instructor for Ground Search & Rescue;
- Dr. Scott Bonn – Professor of Criminology, Media Expert, Author;
- Sheryl McCollum –Law Enforcement Professional, Director of the Cold Case Investigative Research Institute
- Peter Hyatt- Civil Investigator and Statement Analysis Expert;
- Gaetane Borders - Psychologist, Writer, Public Speaker and President of “Peas in their Pods”
- Elaine Pagliaro- Assistant Executive Director of the Henry C. Lee Forensics Institute, Forensic Scientist and Attorney;
- Karen Beaudin- Author, Advocate for Cold case Units, Public Speaker and Survivor of the Missing;
- Holly Hughes- Former Senior Assistant DA Fulton County GA; & Legal Analyst;
A good ending to an experience is like the icing on a cake or the ribbon on your favorite gift. Monica delivered just that, as she spoke from the heart about the epidemic of runaway teens.
As a group they tend to evolve into people they would otherwise never become, if not for forces beyond their control; sexual assault, rape, drug and alcohol addiction, prostitution escalating to human trafficking, misdemeanor crimes and even felonies in the escape from and the running to something as a means of survival.
Her refrain in telling us many illustrative stories was “No One Stepped into their Path” meaning that no one offered a non-judgmental helping hand to show them a different way, show them their value as a human being with potential and ensure their safety from harm’s way. She seldom took credit as she spoke. Rather, she told of how she was able to peel away the layers, get to the heart of the matter, establish trust and a kernel of understanding, and in the process creating many life long bonds.
It’s like kicking the can down the road. Who will stop and do something about a bad situation rather than make excuses? You can rest assured that Monica Caison and her team will always step into the path when needed!
I, Donna Gore, am the CUE Center State Outreach Coordinator for the State of Connecticut, and I know I will be stepping into the path of many lives in the future!
The Innocence Network is composed of 46 states, and several countries around the world. As of 2010, 29 people were exonerated worldwide.
The First Innocence Project was founded in 1992 as a consequence of the landmark study by the U.S. Department of Justice with the Benjamin Cardoza School of Law, in which it was revealed that incorrect eyewitness identifications were a factor in over 70% of wrongful convictions! Attorneys Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld were the founding members in conjunction with the Cardoza School of Law at Yeshiva University in New York City.
- The New York based Innocence Project is funded as follows: 45% individual donations; 30% from Foundations; 15% via their annual benefit dinner 7% by the Law School and various Corporations.
- The Connecticut Innocence Project-Post Conviction Unit (within the State Office of the Public Defender Services) has a mission to “isolate cases of incarcerated persons who have been convicted of crimes in the State of Connecticut for which they are innocent and seek exoneration. The CIP was started by former Public Defender Gerry Smyth with the assistance of Brian Carlow and Karen Goodrow in the summer of 2005. One had an interest in DNA, the other attorney in wrongful convictions (“a marriage made in heaven”). Pro bono office space was given by the Hartford law firm of McCarter and English, beginning in 2006.
- In 2006, CIP took the Case of James Calvin Tillman, wrongfully convicted of beating, robbing and raping a 26-year-old female. After new DNA evidence proved his innocence conclusively (versus the incorrect eyewitness identification of the victim). Mr. Tillman was released from prison in June 2006 after serving 18.5 years! http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/James_Tillman.php
- Following James Tillman’s exoneration, in May 2007, the State of Connecticut awarded him $5 million dollars for the wrongful conviction.
- In the summer of 2007, the Connecticut Legislature granted funding to the Connecticut Innocence Project to hire four full-time staff, adding another trial attorney and a former police officer-experienced investigator of capital cases to the pre-existing staff.
- In 2009, Miguel Roman’s case was chosen as one of two wrongfully convicted who were exonerated following a prison term of 20+ years! Roman was charged with murder in the brutal beating and strangulation of his pregnant ex-girlfriend. Circumstantial evidence and interrogation-interview in English versus Spanish caused him to give conflicting accounts. DNA analysis of clothing proved the murderer to be another assailant. Roman was freed on December 19, 2008, and his exoneration became official on April 2, 2009, when the murder charge pending against him was dropped. http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/Miguel_Roman.php
- Another successful CIP Case beginning in 2007 and ending in 2009, was that of Kenneth Ireland, falsely accused of sexually assaulting and killing a 30 year old factory worker and mother of four by a severe blow to the head in 1986. Ultimately, two male and one female “witnesses” made false accusations to the police about a confession. Consequently, Mr. Ireland was charged with felony murder, first-degree sexual assault and third-degree burglary. Problems with witnesses dying or never charged, inconsistent fingerprint evidence and lack of admission of evidence by the judge were some of the barriers encountered. In the final analysis, more advanced D\NA evidence ruled out Kenneth Ireland as the murderer. He wrongfully served a prison term of 19 years prior to being released! http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/Kenneth_Ireland.php
- The Volume of Cases with the Connecticut Innocence Project: As of October 2013, CIP was in the process of reviewing over 100 cases for consideration. Criteria for consideration: 1) Some new form of evidence must exist such as DNA or other evidence; 2) The New found evidence must reasonably assist in proving innocence.
Wrongfully convicted are victims, not criminals
Customized Victim Impact Statement Assistance is available for those victims, family, and friends who are facing one of the most stressful times of their lives. For those who have suffered irreparable damage either as a wrongfully convicted person or as a “traditional crime victim,” there is help. There is hope in the form of a personalized manner, custom tailored to your specific needs.
Can you just imagine what the impact of wrongful conviction had on Mr. Tillman, Mr. Roman and Mr. Ireland? I cannot imagine! Although I personally recall only Mr. Tillman’s case, I do not recall specifics of his victim impact statement. Did he work on it for 18.5 years? Did he have the proper assistance? Was he satisfied with his own words during such an emotional event? We do not know!
The Unjustly Convicted Are Not Only Innocent, They are Victims Too!
One of the worse ordeals in the life of a crime victim that has experienced violent crime bar none, is the participation in the trial process. In reality, a very small number of crimes actually make it to trial. For expert information about this process, listen to the episode of Shattered Lives Radio with guest David LaBahn, President/CEO at Association of Prosecuting Attorneys
Definition of Plea Agreement via Findlaw.com
The process whereby a criminal defendant and prosecutor reach a mutually satisfactory disposition of a criminal case, subject to court approval.
Plea bargaining can conclude a criminal case without a trial. When it is successful, plea bargaining results in a plea agreement between the prosecutor and defendant. In this agreement, the defendant agrees to plead guilty without a trial, and, in return, the prosecutor agrees to dismiss certain charges or make favorable sentence recommendations to the court. Plea bargaining is expressly authorized in statutes and in court rules.
Prior to being thrust into the ranks of a crime victim, one usually has anecdotal information about what actually occurs. The passage of time between the offense and trial is truly “a lifetime,” with its many steps and “strategic delays employed by the defense.” However, from the standpoint of “the State,” in order to expedite the process and save money, frequently a plea bargain is sought.
Would crime victims prefer a “cut to the chase” once they are told of the court trial journey? Alternately, do most crime victims insist on their day in court regardless? When I conducted a search, there was little hard data via the internet to ascertain the answer to this question. However, there is quite a bit on the advantages for the defendant to plea bargain (i.e. avoiding or reducing jail time, having the certainty versus risk of a trial, significant reduction of sentences and reduction in the number of charges, reducing hassles and stigma and REDUCTION OF EXPENSE!). In general, I would speculate that all crime victims want to see a perpetrator serve the longest sentence possible however it happens, no ifs, ands or buts!
The State of Connecticut is an “opt in “ state in which you, as the vulnerable victim have to take the initiative to fill out forms, let state agencies know your intentions in writing, and deal with the bureaucracies in addition to the overwhelming task of dealing with all of the other uncontrollable forces that come with victimization. Whereas, in other states, the victim is automatically offered the information and you can chose to “opt out” which, in my opinion, is much less stressful and energy zapping!
PAPERWORK, PAPERWORK, PAPERWORK
In my home state of Connecticut, as in many others, if your case is being considered for a plea agreement, the victim can request a copy of the terms of the agreement between the state and the defendant. A request must be made to the jurisdictional state’s attorney. Although our law does not specify how to make the request, it is advised that it be in written form via certified mail with return receipt. The victim is required to submit a self-addressed stamped postcard for such notifications. The Notice of Intent to Exercise Crime Victim Rights includes many types of notices and requests depending upon your circumstances. This form can be downloaded from the internet or mailed and includes notification regarding plea and sentencing hearings.
Notice of Plea and Sentencing Hearings( State of Connecticut , as an illustration)
Prior to the acceptance of a plea pursuant to a plea agreement and prior to the imposition of a sentence, the prosecutor must advise the crime victim of the date, time and place of the original sentencing hearing or any judicial proceeding concerning the acceptance of a plea pursuant to a plea agreement.
The victim must inform the prosecutor that she or he wishes to make or submit a statement to the court and has complied with a request from such prosecutor to submit a stamped, self-addressed postcard for the purpose of such notification. (C.G.S. §54-91c)
Plea bargains, as stated earlier, are designed to “dispose of cases more efficiently, “”unclog the docket” while weighing the interests of the citizens of the State and finally, the victim’s family. At times, the wishes of each party may coincide. However, more often than not, the victim’s family feels that the sentence imposed is “not just” that they have been short changed, particularly when only a percentage is served and when “good time” is added (if applicable).
For another perspective of the very limited information on crime victims and plea bargains, this report written by legal journalist Robin L. Barton offers a case example and briefly how a couple of other administer, or do not administer victim rights when it comes to plea deals.
Importance of the Victim Impact Statement in court
Whether a plea is struck or a lengthy trial is pursued, there can be no more powerful a moment in your personal association with the criminal justice system than to “have your say.”
Creating the appropriate victim impact statement can be a daunting task for families during one of the most traumatic times in their lives. After the initial loss, the journey through the judicial system can be equally frustrating, time-consuming and emotionally draining, re-traumatizing and bringing grief back to the surface. To best utilize the victims’ right to present a victim impact statement at trial, you must be clear-headed and as objective as possible, which for the crime victim is next to impossible.
I can assist crime victims with a personal and customized Victim Impact Statement and help take some of the burden away from your family at a time when tension and stress are at an all time high. Professionally, but objectively, written to convey your feelings, emotions, and opinions regarding your case for the court record. Contact me early for this invaluable service.
Plea Agreements- Are They Half a Loaf?
San Francisco is famous for earthquakes…. However, it took another horrific event to shake its residents to the core in January, 2001. What happens when you pair a world class marathon runner, who in an instant is physically trapped and literally torn to shreds with the likes of a vicious Presa Canarios attack dogs? Death occurs in the blink of an eye… or in her individual case… a few hours after surgery.
Diane Whipple’s heart must have stopped for all intents and purposes at the very moment when the two animals bolted, tore off her clothes, crushed her larynx and severed her jugular vein in a “head to toe” mauling.
This case, turned out to be the most bizarre, the most grotesques ever told…ever unfolding like layers of an onion. As a member of the gay and lesbian community, Ladyjustice grieved for this athlete, loved partner and resident of this liberal city in California.
Author, Aphrodite Jones did a laudable job in her account of this story in “Red Zone- The Behind the Scenes Story of a San Francisco Dog Mauling.” A free lance writer named David Barry; writing for the Southern Poverty Law Center, did an equally fine job trying to explain the unexplainable in a series of articles, from which this blog is written. Ladyjustice will attempt to “hit the highlights,” expose written light on the bizarre events and relate what little good was derived from the savage death of Diane Whipple.
Diane Whipple (Before) & Bonnie Busch (After)
Diane Whipple was a college Lacrosse coach and marathon runner, 34 years old with a petite frame. Diane lived with her partner, Sharon Smith who was an investment company manager. Diane was described by the male defendant, Robert Noel as “a timid mousey blonde” who “almost had a coronary” when prophetically two weeks earlier, the 140 pound and 115 pound dogs rushed out of the elevator nearly knocking her down and terrifying her!
Ellen McCurtain, a marathon runner wrote a short narrative for www.maraathonandbeyond.com in which another woman incredibly experienced a near fatal attack in Davenport, Iowa. Reportedly,just two days after Diane Whipple was murdered, Bonnie Busch, a national class extreme runner, was attacked by two Rottweilers while running at 6 a.m. The two dogs, weighing 110 and 140 pounds respectively, dragged Bonnie for half a block before a stranger rescued her, fending the dogs off with a shovel. A severed forearm and nerve damage was the outcome along with months of Rehabilitation therapy.
The Crime – “In a Nutshell”
- Attorney’s and married couple Marjorie Knoller & Robert Noel lived in the upscale Pacific Heights neighborhood, sharing space with two killer attack dogs. Marjorie & Robert started out as tax and commercial lawyers… and slipped to the dark side after a progression of events to satisfy their perverse appetites;
- In 1994, Robert and Marjorie Knoller represented a prison guard who was harassed by colleagues after testifying on behalf of brutalized inmates. It was reported that they lost the case …and the prison guard hanged himself;
- Their second case was a bust too… after which they appeared to switch sides when they defended a Pelican Bay guard with ties to the Aryan Brotherhood (White prison gang said to have several hundred in-house members with large concentrations in Texas, Florida and Missouri);
- A witness, Paul Schneider, entered into a bizarre partnership on many levels with the Noel and Knoller; He had a very long rap sheet including a life sentence for attempted murder and robbery;
- Schneider was the unofficial manager of the Aryan Brotherhood at Pelican Bay, effectively ordering killings in and out of Pelican Bay Prison;
- Apparently, both Robert Noel and Marjorie Knoller were unafraid of this prisoner whose nickname was “Cornfield.” For example, he was so heinous in his actions, that he once carried a knife in his rectum into court and stabbed his attorney, whom he disliked. Noel and Knoller were unphased by such behavior, were in fact attracted to him and his penchant for extreme violence…. And went so far as to legally “adopt” this blonde, body building 220 pound prisoner!;
- Their long distance business was comprised of a website, and the purchase and rising of the mammoth dogs to sell for the purpose of attacking others and guarding methamphetamine labs. Robert and Marjorie agreed to take over the care of the vicious dogs named Bane and Hera after another woman named Janet Coumbs could not handle her assignment from the Arian Brothers;
- EMTs and animal control officers who answered the call after Diane was attacked feared for their lives trying to contain and kill the dogs within Whipple’s apartment.
Blaming the Victim
- San Franciscan’s were so shocked and outraged that the trial necessitated a change of venue to Los Angeles;
- Noel and Knoller made another fatal mistake in “blaming the victim;”
- Marjorie expressed no remorse whatsoever. She took no responsibility for her dog’s behaviors. She made disgusting comments like, “If only she had stood still, she’d be alive;” “Bane sniffed her crotch like she (Diane) was a bitch in heat.” “She probably had her period which attracted the dog” or “It was the steroids.”
- Robert and Marjorie claimed that there had been no other incidents – that their dogs “were peaceful;”
- Prosecutor James Hammer produced 30 incident reports of petrifying encounters by other neighbors as well as a veterinarian’s initial warning that, “These animal would be a liability in any household;”
- [Ladyjustice recalls watching this trial on Court TV and remembers the theatrics of Marjorie’s attorney, Nedra Ruiz who “put on a show” crawling on the courtroom floor supposedly re-enacting how Knoller tried to fend off her dogs and “protect Diane Whipple.” Apparently, it didn’t impress the jury. Attorney Ruiz painted a picture of the Knollers as “upstanding citizens who loved their dogs as family members.” [LJ- What a crock!]
What were the factors contributing to the decline into darkness? How and why did these two seemingly well educated formerly upscale people slide so far into violence and perversion? One can only guess and try to put the pieces together regarding their behaviors and comments.
- Robert Noel was 60 years old and Marjorie Knoll was 46. However, Knoller looked the older – matronly, plain and unattractive;
- The Aryan Brothers expert speculated that Marjorie “just fell in love with Schneider.” Robert was also attracted by Schneider’s extreme violence and machismo, unlike his own former lifestyle;
- Pelican guard, Keith Whitley saw the change in Noel and the distractions, as when Whitley would call Noel about a case and… “all he would talk about was how big Bane’s (dog) balls were, and how he was fixated on the dog’s penis and erections;”
- Robert Noel even encouraged his wife’s attraction with Aryan Brother’s “adopted son” Paul Cornfield” Schneider.”[Ladyjustice – QUESTION What the hell was the judge thinking who was overseeing and approving this “adoption”? If the judge had only taken the time to research what was going on… Diane Whipple might be alive today! ‘Sound familiar?]
- There was evidence of literature and killer dog training techniques in the apartment;
- Attorney ethics and monitoring of their “son” appeared to have never existed, as evidenced by Schneider and seven others being charged with racketeering in the attempted murders of 24 people spanning 15 years. These charges were in addition to the violation of prison rules disallowing inmates managing unapproved businesses.
As writer David Barry put it so starkly,… “For three years, Noel and Knoller flirted with the violent codes, along with the explosively repressed sexuality of gang prison life. Little by little, they abandoned the trappings of middle class professional life, taking up the work and attitudes of the Aryan Brotherhood instead.”
Investigators discovered topless photos of Marjorie in Paul Schneider’s cell, erotic letters to him from both Robert and Marjorie… as well as bestiality- photos of Knoller and the dogs having sex.
Depravity has no boundaries, apparently!
Postscript: In the interim, the only small measure in Diane Whipple’s memory, is a California legislative bill “holding caretakers criminally responsible for the actions of their animals.”www.dogbite.com sources reported that California still has no law that defines second degree murder in the specific context when it is “canine inflicted.”
In September 2008, a San Francisco Superior Court judge sentenced Knoller to 15 years to life in prison after she re-instated a second degree murder conviction against Knoller. Previously, it was thrown out in 2002 by the original trial judge, when Marjorie was sentenced to four years in prison for involuntary manslaughter and released on parole in 2004. Her husband, Robert Noel was also convicted previously of involuntary manslaughter and released in September 2003.
Crime: The Domino Effect
The domino effect causes a sequence of reactions where a reactive product or by-product causes additional reactions to take place. It typically refers to a linked sequence of events where the time between successive events is relatively small.
And so it goes… when crime occurs… the dominoes fall…
Where did the Victim Impact Statement Begin?
Paying homage to the person credited with giving the first official victim impact statement.
Doris Gwendolyn Tate (January 16, 1924 – July 10, 1992) was an advocate for the rights of crime victims following the murder of her daughter, actress Sharon Tate. She worked to raise public awareness about the United States corrections system and was influential in the amendment of California laws relating to the victims of violent crime.
Doris Tate was born in Houston Texas, and mother of three daughters. In 1969, Sharon, was at the beginning of a film career, and married to film director Roman Polanski. Eight months pregnant with their first child, Tate and four others were murdered at the Polanski’s’ rented Beverly Hills home in a case that was sensationalized throughout the world.
All four were found guilty of the murders and sentenced to death, along with Lesley Van Houten, who had not participated in the murder of the Tate victims, but had participated in the murder of a Los Angeles couple the following night.
The death sentences were overturned before they could be applied. when the State of California temporarily abolished the death penalty.
For more than a decade after the murders, Doris Tate battled depression and unable to discuss her daughter’s death.
The Turning Point:
In 1982, Doris was told that Leslie Van Houten had obtained 900 signatures supporting her quest to achieve parole. Tate mounted a public campaign against Van Houten, winning the support of the National Enquirer, which printed coupons for people to sign and send to Doris With more than 350,000 signatures, Tate demonstrated that a considerable number of people opposed Van Houten’s parole, which was denied.
She later became an active member of the Victim Offender Reconciliation and Justice for Homicide Victims groups. She founded COVER, the Coalition on Victim’s Equal Rights, and served on the California State Advisory Committee on Correctional Services as a victims’ representative.
She was part of a group that worked toward the passage of Proposition 8, the Victim’s Rights Bill, which was passed in 1982. It allowed the presentation of victim impact statements during the sentencing of violent attackers.
Tate became the first Californian to make such a statement after the law was passed, when she spoke at the parole hearing of one of her daughter’s killers.
In 1984 she ran for the California State Assembly as an advocate for victim’s rights. Though unsuccessful,, she continued to campaign for changes to existing laws, and was involved in the passage of Proposition 89, which allowed the governor of the state to overturn decisions made by the Board of Prison Terms.
Tate’s assessment of Manson, Watson, Atkins, Krenwinkel and Van Houten concluded that their crimes were so vicious as to warrant execution. While addressing Charles Watson at his 1984 parole hearing, she said,
“What mercy, sir, did you show my daughter when she was begging for her life? What mercy did you show my daughter when she said, “Give me two weeks to have my baby and then you can kill me?
When will Sharon come up for parole? Will these seven victims and possibly more walk out of their graves if you get paroled? You cannot be trusted”. She confronted Watson again at his 1990 parole hearing. The Doris Tate Crime Victim’s Bureau
Explaining the Overall Impact of Victim Impact Statement
You want to convey the journey and the overall toll it has taken from many perspectives-emotionally, psychologically, physically, financially, your outlook on life currently and projecting into the future, your wishes regarding the disposition of the perpetrator, and changes to the system which negatively impacted and/or re-victimized you or alternately, your satisfaction with how you were treated.
Familiarizing the deciding body with the victim
It is imperative that you provide a complete portrayal of your loved one both visually and narratively, as this may be your sole opportunity for several years (several years up until the point of your initial court or parole appearance or several years until you obtain another opportunity!) Talk about who your loved one was beyond the crime; their assets, talents, what they contributed to the family and to others and their aspirations for the future that were taken away.
Expressing Fear for Your Personal Safety
This is one of your Constitutional rights, currently in 33 states and under the Federal Statute – Crime Victim’s Right’s Act enacted in October 2004: The right to be reasonably protected.
Example- State of Connecticut Constitution Article XXIX – Rights of Victims of Crime
In all criminal prosecutions, a victim, as the general assembly may define by law, shall have the following rights:
- The right to be treated with fairness and respect throughout the criminal justice process;
- The right to timely disposition of the case following arrest of the accused, provided no right of the accused is abridged;
- The right to be reasonably protected from the accused throughout the criminal justice process;
- The right to notification of court proceedings;
- The right to attend the trial and all other court proceedings the accused has the right to attend, unless such person is to testify and the court determines that such person’s testimony would be materially affected if such person hears other testimony;
- The right to communicate with the prosecution;
- The right to object to or support any plea agreement entered into by the accused and the prosecution and to make a statement to the court prior to the acceptance by the court of the plea of guilty or nolo contendere by the accused (i.e. A plea made by the defendant in a criminal action that is substantially but not technically an admission of guilt and subjects the defendant to punishment but permits denial of the alleged facts in other proceedings.);
- The right to make a statement to the court at sentencing;
- The right to restitution which shall be enforceable in the same manner as any other cause of action or as otherwise provided by law;
- The right to information about the arrest, conviction, sentence, imprisonment and release of the accused.
Restitution is payment by the offender to the victim to cover some or all of the costs associated with a crime. It is ordered by a judge and usually paid through the Court Support Services Division, or other entity within your state…To request restitution in a criminal court case, contact the State’s Attorney Office or the OVS victim services advocate, located in the court where the criminal case will be prosecuted.
Social Security Administration
Victims or their family members may be eligible for survivor benefits, Medicare, and other social security benefits. For more information, please call the Social Security Administration (SSA) toll-free at 800-772-1213, TTD: 800-325-0778, or visit the Social Security Administration website.
Workers’ Compensation Commission
Available to employees through their employers, workers’ compensation provides wage replacement benefits and medical treatment for injuries that occurred in the workplace or on company property. For more information, call the Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) toll-free, in Connecticut only, 800-223-9675 or visit the Worker’s Compensation Commission website.
“Revenge” Emotional Release
Whether you call it “revenge” or “emotional release” or “venting,” there is some latitude given here…as opposed to the criminal court process in which a poker face must be maintained with no emotion allowed whatsoever or you will be banished from the court… It is normal to have emotion and to show your sorrow and anger….
Adding Information to the Criminal Proceeding
Parole/Pardons Board You may have relevant information pertaining to the defendant for the court or parole/pardons board which can influence the ultimate length or provisions of sentencing. It is important that this information be shared and part of the record. [Ladyjustice- As per Atty. M. Cruz, crime victims are not given the opportunity to provide a victim impact statement during civil trials because the attorney represents the interests of the victim directly in civil proceedings (and could argue for damages on their behalf )… WHEREAS in a criminal trial, prosecutors represent the interests of the State and not the victims directly].
Your information could be the determining factor in whether the defendant stays in prison or not. Ladyjustice attended a parole hearing several years ago on behalf of a victim’s family in New Haven, in which following the presentation of the parent’s victim impact statements, the perpetrator was given an additional 10 year sentence!! This also occurred with a friend’s case whose brother was murdered California! You may think that the outcome is always pre-determined… BUT there are those instances in which you CAN effect significant change…
Educating Judicial Officials Regarding Victim’s Constitutional Rights:
It is more the exception than the rule that the victim’s rights are known, acknowledged and enforced in whichever arena …. You have to be your own advocate and educate others, obtain an attorney who has expertise in crime victim rights. Even when you “have your ducks in arrow” you probably will have to fight for those rights as you encounter resistance. NEVER ASSUME THEY KNOW AND WILL ENFORCE! My personal experience is a prime example.
A Forum to Express Forgiveness
(In a small percentage of cases) Whether we collectively or individually agree, regardless of the heinous acts of violence resulting in maiming or taking of a life(s), there are those victims who have the capacity to forgive …even murderers because of their strong religious beliefs. I say you may have a straight shot to heaven for this more than generous act.
Issues Relating to Victim Impact Statements
In the Intervening Years
Hypothetically, a perpetrator is sentenced to 25 to 50 years. Are they actually going to serve all of that time? The answer is “No.” In very general terms, it’s usually the mandatory minimum, perhaps 80% of the sentence in combination with other factors such as” earned good time,” depending on the state and whether determinant sentencing or indeterminate sentencing was ”the yardstick” at the time; whether there were mistakes made in the prosecution and potential issues for appeal and the fact that now the rules have changed.So, law enforcement should never make promises to families about the perp “never getting out.”
What should the family do to prepare in those intervening years? What they should do and what they are able to do are two different matters….
Large proportions of victims put “it“ away in the corner of their minds and don’t want to think about it until and unless they have to. Those of us who are in “the business” of victim advocacy are different, as we have a different personal investment and reasons for staying involved. Those victims who chose not to stay engaged and seemingly “move on with their lives” until the boom drops, they get the call or letter and the dominoes begin to fall.
A likely scenario is that they suddenly panic, or are steadfast in their anger and resentment, “Why should I change anything in my life when he is the criminal, not me?”
This is a normal “self preservation type reaction. They are fearful and angry of the impact for which they have no control. They feel that they are not responsible to do anything for they never asked for this to occur. This is all true, however, it is cliché.
A Few Suggestions:
- If you cannot or choose not to be involved with what will occur in the intervening years, you must not live “in a dream world,” thinking it’s over for good.
- Accept the possibility that you may have won the battle, but not the war….
- Be vigilant…. You do not have to immerse yourself in crime victim issued daily…. But you must have a working knowledge of the process, your case and the potential for it to “rise up out of the ashes” again
- Hire an attorney who is skilled regarding crime victim issues or seek out pro bono legal
- Services in your state: http://apps.americanbar.org/legalservices/probono/directory.html http://www.probono.net/about/
- Seek out your local victim advocate and get to know that person on a first name basis and call when needed
- Chose another family representative who is better suited to represent the family for notifications and “being the ‘go to” person;
- Keep track of your feelings over time in a personal notebook or journal in the event that your presence is significantly needed to provide an impact statement at a hearing
- If you are provided alternatives for housing for your health and safety…. Take them….
- Although you are not the criminal…. You should not pay the ultimate e price with your life… for then the perpetrator has won again! This is not easy or easily said,.. However, life is not fair many times and we have to do this for our own healing.
Should I or Should I Not Attend a Sentencing or Hearing?
According to Michelle S. Cruz, Attorney and Crime Victim Advocate, time has not been a true friend to victims when it comes to misinformation by prosecutors and other judicial persons providing advice. Even in November 2013, their attitude is cavalier on this matter, frequently telling victims,(regardless of the type of case, ”Oh, you don’t have to bother…It’s no big deal…)
How many times have we heard that one and then it turned out to be a significant event. Whether for expediency or laziness, victims need to decide if they should be there as part of their rights and never be told “It’s not as big deal.” Information is power. Your option is always to have your assigned victim advocate or your private attorney appear on your behalf and report directly what transpired.
How Far We’ve Come:
Judges and juries care about what you have been through. It hasn’t always been that way.
Victim advocate Jo Kolanda describes a sentencing hearing she attended in the 1970’s:
“I went to court for the sentencing of a defendant who had been convicted of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. With me were the mom and dad of the young woman he killed. The offender’s parents, friends, and pastor told the court what a wonderful guy he was. The victim’s parents asked the assistant district attorney to ask the judge if they could tell the court about their daughter. The judge said they could not because . “It would be inflammatory.” Then he added that….. “He couldn’t understand why this simple traffic case was cluttering up his court calendar in the first place.”
[Reference: Janice Harris Lord, ACSW-LMSW/LPC For Mothers Against Drunk Driving Copyright © 2003 Mothers Against Drunk Driving, James Rowland, founder of the Victim Impact Statement; Anne Seymour of Justice Solutions in Washington, D.C et.al]
Key Federal Victims’ Rights Legislation
1974 Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act
1980 Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act
1982 Victim and Witness Protection Act
1982 Missing Children’s Act
1984 Victims of crime act
1984 Justice Assistance Act
1984 Missing Children’s Assistance Act
1984 Family Violence Prevention and Services Act
1985 Children’s Justice Act
1988 Drunk Driving Prevention Act
1990 Hate Crime Statistics Act
1990 Victims of Child Abuse Act
1990 Victims’ Rights and Restitution Act
1990 National Child Search Assistance Act
1992 Battered Women’s Testimony Act
1993 Child Sexual Abuse Registry Act
1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act
1994 Violence against Women act
1996 Community Notification Act (“Megan’s Law”)
1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act
1996 Mandatory Victims’ Restitution Act
1997 Victims’ Rights Clarification Act
1998 Crime Victims with Disabilities Awareness Act
1998 Identity Theft and Deterrence Act
2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act
2001 Air Transportation Safety and System Stabiliza-
tion Act (established September 11th Victim Compensation Fund)
2003 PROTECT Act (“Amber Alert” law)
2003 Prison Rape Elimination Act
2003 Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act
2004 Justice for all act including Title I The Scott Campbell, Stephanie Roper, Wendy Preston,
Louarna Gillis, and Nila Lynn Crime Victims’ Rights Act
2006 Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act
2010 Tribal Law and Order Act
Victim Impact Statements: A Piece of Justice
- Victim Impact Statement Assistance with Donna R. Gore (imaginepublicity.com)
- Victim impact statements provide ‘balanced view’ (itv.com)
- VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT (Example) (deborahjmonroe.wordpress.com)
- LadyJustice Speaks to Connecticut Law Class (imaginepublicity.com)
- Justice, Reform and Humanity Thy Name is Jennifer Bishop Jenkins… (donnagore.com)
“On the Road Again…” Tribute to Former “Tours” and the 2013 CUE Center for the Missing “Road to Remember Tour”
Historically, there have been many tours that forged the economic growth of our country, paved the way for change and sought to bring a sense of relief from everyday troubles…. And then there’s the “Road to Remember Tour,” created by Monica Caison and her colleagues nine years ago at the Cue Center for the Missing in North Carolina, who take honor, respect and remembrance of the missing to a whole new level….
Joint this writer on a historical retrospective of “the tours” from cattle herders, to entertainers…to the vastly important crime victim advocates who do a most honorable and necessary task.
We’ve “saved the best for last” Read and enjoy through the end… And…. please do SUPPORT Monica’s Tour for the missing….going on now! [**Note: Ladyjustice gives her opinion of the value of the CUE Center and their Annual Conference too!
HISTORY: “The Tour” Cattle Herding
- Long-distance cattle driving was traditional in Mexico, California and Texas, The Spaniards had established the ranching industry in the New World, and began driving herds northward from Mexico beginning in the 1540s.
- As early as 1836, ranchers in Texas began to drive cattle along a “Beef Trail” to New Orleans. In the 1840s, cattle drives expanded northward into Missouri. In the early years of the Civil War Texans drove cattle into the Confederate states for the use of the Confederate Army. In October, 1862 a Union naval patrol on the southern Mississippi River captured 1,500 head of Longhorns which had been destined for Confederate military posts in Louisiana.
- The first large-scale effort to drive cattle from Texas to the nearest railhead for shipment to Chicago occurred in 1866, when many Texas ranchers banded together to drive their cattle to the closest point that railroad tracks reached, which at that time was Sedalia, Missouri .
The Chisholm Trail was the most important route for cattle drives leading north from the vicinity of Ft. Worth, Texas, across Indian Territory (Oklahoma) to the railhead at Abilene.
- Cattle drives were a tricky balance between speed and the weight of the cattle. While cattle could be driven as far as 25 miles in a single day, they would lose so much weight that they would be hard to sell when they reached the end of the trail. On average, a herd could maintain a healthy weight moving about 15 miles per day. At that pace, it would take as long as two months to travel from a home ranch to a railhead.
- To herd the cattle, a crew of at least 10 cowboys was needed, with three horses per cowboy. Cowboys worked in shifts to watch the cattle 24 hours a day, herding them in the proper direction in the daytime and watching them at night to prevent stampedes and deter theft.
- The typical drive comprised 1,500–2,500 head of cattle. The “outfit “consisted of a boss, ten to fifteen hands, each of whom had a string of from five to ten horses; a horse wrangler who handled the horses and a cook who drove the chuck wagon. The wagon carried bedrolls and tents – a luxury. The men drove and grazed the cattle most of the day, herding them by relays at night. Wages were about $ 40 a month, paid when the herds were sold. [Monica Caison takes no salary.]
- Smaller cattle drives continued at least into the 1940s, as ranchers, prior to the development of the cattle truck and stockyards for transport to packing plants.
HISTORY: “The Tour” of Circus Life
- The circus came to the United States on April 3, 1793. John Bill Rickets, an English equestrian rider, used a ring and added acrobats, a rope walker and a clown to his equestrian act.
- Initially, entrepreneurs put individual wild animals on display and charged admission. As time went on, exhibitors began adding more animals to their shows. By the early 1820s there were 30+ traveling menageries touring the eastern US. It wasn’t until the late 1830s that promoters figured out a way to combine the menagerie with the circus.
- Eventually, menageries began using equestrians and clowns to present performances in circus rings, so the distinction between circus and menagerie gradually faded. They traveled at night in wagon trains over country roads often a foot deep in mud, covering only two or three miles an hour. These were the so-called mud shows. The longest distance they could cover was 10 or 15 miles. A hostler rode ahead of the wagons to find the shortest route and to “rail” every fork and crossroad by taking a rail from a farmer’s fence and placing it across the road that was not to be taken so that the wagons would avoid making a wrong turn.
- An advance agent “ballyhooed” the show, arriving on horseback about a week ahead of it. On circus day, a clown would come into town a couple of hours before the circus enticing the townspeople with acrobatics, clown antics and jokes followed by the arrival of the wagons. The regular members of the troupe split the profits, with each expected to perform several jobs. Owners seldom paid salaries.
- Circus “roustabouts” are people who “get sweaty and they’re proud to do so.” They dismantle the show and build it up again in the next town their jobs consisted of the physical act of carrying the “big top” and rigging to the empty lot for set-up, called, “the haul.”
- Joshua Purdy Brown, a native of Somers, New York, put up the first circus tent in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1825. [The CUE Center is located in Wilmington, North Carolina.] The perfect innovation was the simple idea of a canvas tent that was easily portable, yet kept both rain and blazing sun off performers and spectators.
- The 1850s ushered in the golden age of the circus. By 1852, about 30 circuses were touring the US. The decade of the 1850s represents golden age of the river, an era when river traveling in general and showboats in particular were at their height. Charles W. Rogers built the first circus showboat, called the Floating Palace, for $42,000.
- Circuses could also choose which towns to play. Previously, a show was limited by how far its baggage stock horses could walk overnight. Many times this meant having to stop in towns that gave only limited patronage. As time evolved, trains carried circuses to towns hundreds of miles away, offering performers a good night’s sleep. Though P.T. Barnum took credit for it, it was William Cameron Coup’s [one of the co-founders of the Barnum & Bailey Circus]. idea to design a special circus train.
And Who Could Forget….Willie Nelson and Family Old Farts and Jackass Tour….On The Road Again…
- The Old Farts and Jackass tour began in Durham, NC on January 18th, 2013 at the Durham Performing Arts Center. On Saturday night, Willie Nelson and family performed in Bowling Green, KY at the Performing Arts Center before heading south to the Tabernacle in Atlanta.
- After the annual bacon and egg luncheon, the Presidential Inaugural Swearing Ceremony took center stage. Willie stepped forward and placed his hand on the Bible. The Joint Congressional Committee spoke of the logistics of presenting such a presidential event in an old church and security concerns plaguing the event from the beginning.
- Fast forward to today… in October 2013, Willie is 80+ years old, [born April 29, 1933] and just keeps on rollin’…. LJ counted 30 tour dates from October 15th through the end of the year… Whew! http://willienelson.com/tour/
AND NOW… the 10th “On the Road to Remember Tour”
In the Beginning…
The CUE CENTER Annual Tour was created to generate new interest in cold cases of missing people across our nation. The inspiration came in 2004 from the case of North Carolina college student Leah Roberts, who went on a cross-country trip of self-exploration. Her wrecked and abandoned vehicle was found. However Leah is still missing to this day… Leah’s case went cold and interest faded until CUE volunteers began a grueling 14-day trip to retrace her route informing the media of her case and all those who were missing along the path of the tour. In the years to follow, interest was strong to keep hope alive for other families across the country who requested help and who supported the concept and vision of the tour. (http://ncmissingpersons.org)
Each year the tour covers a different route. This year the following states are featured: North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama offering the opportunity for all families with missing loved ones, or those who advocate for them, to participate.
2013 marks the TENTH YEAR for the CUE Center for Missing Persons ANNUAL On the Road to Remember Tour spanning thousands of miles across the United States to bring awareness to missing persons and unsolved cases, many which have never been featured in media.
Anyone can volunteer to sponsor a rally stop in their community held in various venues including public parks, churches, schools, law enforcement departments or any location in which media can partake. It is vital that the media ha the opportunity to provide information about the missing persons represented at each rally stop. Each stops lasts about an hour with Founder of the CUE Center, Monica Caison, other CUE CENTER representatives and family who assist in obtaining media coverage of their event,
Examples of creative past events: balloon/butterfly/lantern releases, candlelight vigils, prayer circles, safety events, guest speakers and any variation of events to draw public attention, and needed CLUES from the public! RESULTS: In 2008, this event assisted in solving a cold case of twenty eight years!
It Takes A Village! Monica’s philosophy is that all investigations require the efforts of the public, volunteers and the media working in collaboration on cases involving missing children and adults, it is only when such collaborative efforts take place, that cold and inactive cases have the best chance to finally be resolved and bring resolution for families.
For daily updates on the current tour see posts from Monica at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/CUE-Center-For-Missing-Persons/136501784957?sk=app_57675755167
To Donate: PO Box 12714 Wilmington, NC 28405
(910) 343-1131 / (910) 232-1687
Insanity as a defense whether “temporary” or “permanent due to chronic mental illness” is never palatable to crime victims. On the one hand, we know intellectually that mental illness is a result of chemical or structural abnormalities in the brain and therefore, is “not their fault.” On the other hand, on an emotional level, mental illness is often viewed by crime victims as “an excuse for inexcusable criminal behavior.”
There are reams and reams of history going back to the 1800s , including the pioneering social welfare work of Dorothea Dix, supplanting squalid care of the mentally ill with the preferred “asylum care” of her era. However, such is not the focus of this blog.
Ladyjustice would rather focus on some interesting, baffling and bewildering insanity cases of yesteryear…and a law or two as a consequence of insanity.
However, in case the following examples aren’t palatable, consider listening to this classic YouTube video by Paul Simon as a precursor….and listen to it again as a “chaser” to the “bitter pill of insanity.”
- Insane- Really!
Richard Lawrence (Acquitted, 1835)
Richard Lawrence was an unemployed house painter in his 30s who fired two pistols at U.S. President Andrew Jackson as Jackson walked through the Capitol Rotunda during a funeral procession. Both pistols misfired, and Lawrence was quickly apprehended. He was the first person charged with the attempted assassination of a U.S. president.
Lawrence apparently suffered from delusions of persecution, believing that he was heir to the British throne and believed that Jackson conspired to keep him from receiving a fortune with which he could return to England and claim his seat. He also believed that Jackson had killed his father.
At his one-day trial, Lawrence repeatedly interrupted the proceedings, loudly proclaiming that he was “the King of England and Rome.” The jury acquitted him by reason of insanity after only five minutes of deliberation. Richard Lawrence spent the rest of his life (26 years)… in an asylum.
- Insanely Jealous!
Daniel Sickles (Acquitted, 1859)
In 1859, U.S. Congressman Daniel Sickles was charged with murder after he shot and killed U.S. District Attorney Phillip Barton Key in broad daylight, within full view of the White House.
Philip Key was the son of Francis Scott Key, the author of The Star Spangled Banner. Philip had an ongoing notorious and conspicuous affair with Sickle’s wife.
During Sickle’s sensational and highly publicized trial, his attorney argued that “he committed the murder in a state of temporary insanity, brought on by the enraging knowledge that Key was sleeping with his wife.”
The all-male jury accepted this argument, subsequently acquitting Sickles.
He later served as a major-general in the Civil War, and received a Congressional Medal of Honor for his service having lost his leg at the Battle of Gettysburg.
[Ladyjustice: We “forgive and forget” as long as we serve admirably in battle??]
- Presidential Insanity
John Schrank (Institutionalized for Life, 1912)
New York bartender, John Schrank shot President Teddy Roosevelt at close range while the former president was campaigning for a second term in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As luck would have it, the bullet hit Roosevelt in the chest, piercing a metal eyeglasses case and a 50-page copy of the campaign speech he was carrying in his suit pocket.
Defying his doctor’s orders, Roosevelt insisted on delivering the speech as scheduled before going to the hospital! Further evaluation revealed that the bullet had lodged at a depth of three inches inside the wall of his chest, but without damage to vital organs. When President Roosevelt died several years later the infamous bullet remained in his chest!
John Schrank, wannabe assassin, was immediately arrested. At the time of the shooting, he offered no reason for the attempted assassination. However, later accounts reported that he apparently suffered from delusions, saying that “William McKinley had appeared to him in a dream and told him to kill Roosevelt.”
Doctors determined Schrank was insane, after which a judge sentenced him to life in an asylum for the insane.
- Insane…and in love with Jodie Foster!
John Hinckley (Acquitted, 1982)
In 1981, John Hinckley Jr. shot U.S. President Ronald Reagan, a secret service agent, a Washington police officer, and Reagan’s press secretary, James Brady. Hinckley claimed that he was trying to impress the actress Jodie Foster, with whom he was infatuated. In what was arguably the most influential insanity-defense case of the century, a jury acquitted him of 13 assault, murder, and weapons counts, finding him not guilty by reason of insanity. He was committed to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital for the criminally insane in Washington, D.C., where he remains today.
After the Hinckley verdict, there was an immediate public outcry against what many perceived to be a loophole in the justice system allowing an obviously guilty man to escape punishment. There were widespread calls for the abolishment, or substantial revision of the legal criteria for insanity.
Reportedly, more than 30 states changed their laws as a consequence of this historic event to make it more difficult for defendants to succeed in substantiating an insanity defense. Congress responded by passing the Insanity Defense Reform Act, which tightened federal standards.
[Ladyjustice- See related information below]
Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984
The Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984, signed into law on October 12, 1984, was the first comprehensive Federal legislation governing the insanity defense and the disposition of individuals suffering from a mental disease or defect who are involved in the criminal justice system. The more significant provisions were that the legislation accomplished the following:
- Significantly modified the standard for insanity previously applied in the Federal courts;
- Placed the burden of proof on the defendant to establish the defense by clear and convincing evidence;
- Limited the scope of expert testimony on ultimate legal issues;
- Eliminated the defense of diminished capacity;
- Created a special verdict of “not guilty only by reason of insanity,” which triggers a commitment proceeding; and
- Provided for Federal commitment of persons should they become insane after having been found guilty at trial…or deemed insane while serving a Federal prison sentence.
- Insane Cannibal!
Jeffrey Dahmer (Convicted, 1992)
In 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer was convicted of the murder of 15 young men, whose mutilated, cannibalized bodies were found in his Milwaukee apartment. Dahmer reportedly had sex with the corpses. He also attempted to perform crude lobotomies on others while they were still alive. As part of his sick rituals, Dahmer stored body parts in his refrigerator to be eaten later.
During his trial, he admitted to the 15 killings. However, his plea was not guilty by reason of insanity. This plea was rejected. The jury subsequently found Dahmer to be legally sane at the time of the murders. He was sentenced to 15 consecutive life sentences without chance of parole!
The Dahmer conviction was reputed to be “the death of the insanity defense”, similar to the Hinckley acquittal. The public and the legal community felt that if such a clearly deranged killer could not be found legally insane, it seemed highly unlikely that the defense of guilty by reason of insanity would ever be successful in a high-profile case involving a violent crime.
Dahmer was killed in prison by another inmate in 1994.
[Ladyjustice: Prison justice!]
- Insane and Pushed Under a Subway Train!
Andrew Goldstein (Convicted, 2000)
Andrew Goldstein was a diagnosed schizophrenic who had been released from psychiatric hospital just weeks before he killed 32-year-old Kendra Webdale.
Kendra was murdered as a result of Goldstein pushing her in front of a New York subway train in January 1999. Goldstein had a history of delusions was diagnosed as schizophrenic in 1989, following an incident in which he forcibly pushed his mother
In December 1992, Goldstein had committed himself to a state psychiatric hospital in New York. Although he displayed extremely delusional and violent behavior while in the hospital, he was transferred to a group home after eight months.
By 1996, he was living on his own in New York. Over the next three years, he would frequently went to emergency rooms, acting delusional and asking for help.
In November 1999, Goldstein again committed himself, this time to a hospital in Harlem. He told intake personnel that he wanted to be hospitalized because of “severe schizophrenia.” Hospital records from his stay describe him as “thought-disordered,” “delusional,” and “psychotic.” However, after less than a month, and just days after hospital records noted that he “remained delusional,” Goldstein was released from the hospital with a referral for out-patient therapy. Three weeks later, he pushed Kendra Webdale under the train!
[Ladyjustice: The system failed miserably and is in part responsible for Kendra’s murder!]
Goldstein’s first trial ended in a mistrial after the jury was deadlocked. A second jury rejected Goldstein’s insanity defense plea and convicted him of second-degree murder, just 90 minutes after beginning deliberation. He was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
In response to the Goldstein case, the New York legislature enacted and “outpatient commitment” statute — known as
“Kendra’s Law” — which authorizes courts to force mentally ill people living in the community to take medication. Kendra’s Law permitted for court orders to be obtained for non- medication compliant individuals to receive and accept outpatient treatment for their mental illnesses. The Law also authorizes the petitioning of designated individuals in the court system, on behalf of the mentally ill client, for Assisted Outpatient Treatment or to be temporarily hospitalized for up to 72 hours.
The Law is aimed specifically toward those persons who are:
1) 18 years or older,
2) Have a history of non-compliance with mental health treatment leading to two or more hospitalizations or periods in a forensic or mental health unit of a prison within 36 months prior to the filing of a petition,
3) Have committed one or more acts of serious violence toward self or others within the past 48 months,
4) Such persons are unlikely to participate voluntarily in recommended psychiatric treatment, and
5) Such persons are likely to suffer relapse that can result in serious physical harm to oneself or others without treatment (Mental Health Association in NY State, Inc., 1999).
The Law would allow family, roommates, qualified psychiatrists, directors of psychiatric hospitals, and local mental health officials to petition the courts for treatment for mentally ill men and women who may not function safely in the community without supervision.
In this way, both the public and the mentally ill are offered new and higher levels of personal safety. The services that would be targeted by the courts are case management, individual and group therapy, supervised living situations, alcohol and substance abuse counseling, testing for the presence of drugs or alcohol, and educational and vocational services (http://www.state.ny.us/governor/press/year99/may1999/ ). The array of outpatient services encouraged by this Law, if used correctly, will expand the capabilities of the state’s mental health system.
Promising Results… But the Fight Continues for Permanency (May 2010 & April 2012
Make Kendra’s Law Permanent
By E. FULLER TORREY
Published: May 31, 2010
ELEVEN years ago, when the New York Legislature passed Kendra’s Law, few could have foretold what a resounding success it would be. At the time lawmakers were searching for a useful response to the tragic death of 32-year-old Kendra Webdale, who was pushed in front of a subway train in Manhattan by a stranger who had untreated schizophrenia.
The law, initially intended for a trial period of five years, permits state judges to order closely monitored outpatient treatment for a small subset of seriously mentally ill people who have records of failing to take medication, and who have consequently been rehospitalized or jailed or have exhibited violent behavior.
In 2005, Kendra’s Law was extended for another five years. In all, more than 8,000 people have been treated under its provisions, and the results have been striking.
A 2005 study of more than 2,700 people to whom the law was applied found that, after treatment, the rate of homelessness in the population fell by 74 percent, the number who needed to be rehospitalized dropped by 77 percent and the number arrested fell by 83 percent. And a study published this year found that people receiving treatment under Kendra’s Law were only one-fourth as likely to commit violent acts, had a reduced risk of suicide and were functioning better socially than members of a control group.
It’s hard to imagine a stronger argument for making the law permanent. And yet, as it comes up for renewal this month, the state Office of Mental Health is recommending only a five-year extension. Why the hesitation? Apparently, the Office of Mental Health is ambivalent about its star performer. In its latest five-year Statewide Comprehensive Plan for Mental Health Services, Kendra’s Law is not even mentioned, and the program it supports — assisted outpatient treatment — is referred to briefly only twice.
Perhaps state mental health officials are responding to critics who consider the law politically incorrect because it mandates psychiatric treatment by court order, supposedly violating the patients’ freedom to choose or forego treatment. But these are people whose illness interferes with their ability to understand that they are sick and need medication. They do not have the choice to live freely and comfortably, but only to be homeless, in jail or in a psychiatric hospital.
The people who could be treated under Kendra’s Law account for only one in 10 seriously ill psychiatric patients. But when these people are untreated, they also make up one-third of the homeless population, and at least 16 percent of the jail and prison population. These people are ubiquitous in city parks, public libraries and train stations. And a small percentage becomes dangerous, even homicidal.
The law has been a model of success, not only in New York but also in 44 other states that now have similar laws (including, most recently, New Jersey and Maine). Unfortunately, these laws are too rarely used. California, for example, has passed an equivalent to Kendra’s Law known as Laura’s Law, but has not enforced it. If it had, it might have prevented 36-year-old John Patrick Bedell from wandering the country last March, taking orders from his psychotic brain, despite his family’s frantic attempts to get treatment for him. Mr. Bedell ultimately shot two security guards at the Pentagon, and was shot and killed by the officers he injured.
Kendra’s Law saves lives. By keeping patients on medication, it also saves money that might otherwise be spent on rehospitalization, prosecution and incarceration. New York should take lasting advantage of both benefits by making the law permanent.
[E. Fuller Torrey, the founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center, is the author of “The Insanity Offense: How America’s Failure to Treat the Seriously Mentally Ill Endangers Its Citizens.”]
Update April 2012
Patricia Webdale, 70, said too many non-medicated mentally ill people remain on the streets, and it’s time to close the loopholes in the landmark 1999 mental health law named for her daughter.
“People are still falling through the cracks,” she told the Daily News.
Kendra’s Law allows the courts to forcibly administer treatments to dangerously disturbed individuals.
Hale had stopped taking his medications after his release from prison.
The law was adopted by state lawmakers after Kendra Webdale, a struggling New York City screenwriter, was pushed to her death in front of a subway car in 1999 by a schizophrenic named Andrew Goldstein.
Since the law’s passage, Patricia Webdale has continually lobbied the Legislature to make it permanent — it must be renewed every five years — and to close what critics say are glaring loopholes.
Sen. Catharine Young (R-Cattaraugus County) and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther (D-Sullivan County) have proposed a bill to strengthen the law.
It would force officials to review expiring treatment orders to see if they need to be renewed, and require the state prison system to notify local officials when mentally ill inmates are released.
Webdale blamed Ortiz, chairman of the Assembly’s Mental Health Committee, for bowing to pressure from advocates for the mentally ill and blocking the Young/Gunther bill.
“I have gone head to head with Ortiz and his office, and at times he has seemed extremely, genuinely supportive,” Webdale said.
“And then the tune would change.”
Ortiz said there has never been a consensus among lawmakers to support strengthening the law.
Following the stabbing of Loor, it will be reviewed.
“I will bring all the parties together and then we will take it from there,” Ortiz said.”
Ladyjustice: ‘Like I said… Listen to Paul Simon on YouTube… At least he’s palatable DRG
- Is an insanity defense a constitutional right? (sentencing.typepad.com)
- Fort Worth man accused in fatal stabbing found not guilty by reason of insanity (star-telegram.com)
- Mental Illness, The Insanity Plea, and Civil Commitment Essay (criminologyjust.blogspot.com)
- Crimes and Media (jw8393.wordpress.com)
He receives the call… He knows only the basics and starts assembling his team and creates a strategic plan in his head… He makes his calls while a protocol begins; ‘establishes a safe place of operations and they begin the process of behind the scenes team preparation to save lives under the influence of a crazed, criminal or crusading personality who is “at the end of their rope.” ‘Question is…. is that rope long enough to penetrate the psyche of the perpetrator? Is there room for negotiation with this one? Can Derek Gaunt establish a “window of hope” for hostages and their families?
Volatile: Likely to shift quickly and unpredictably; unstable; explosive.
Negotiation: is a dialogue between two or more people or parties, to produce an agreement upon courses of action, to bargain for individual or collective advantage. Negotiation is a process where each party involved in negotiating tries to gain an advantage for themselves by the end of the process.
Negotiation occurs in business, non-profit organizations, government branches, legal proceedings, among nations and in personal situations such as marriage, divorce, parenting, and everyday life and….. HOSTAGE SITUATIONS [Last item added by Ladyjustice]
Example: “Dog Day Afternoon “Trailer, 1975, Starring Actor Al Pacino; (Based on a TRUE Story…)
(Following the radio podcast, return to this clip to identify elements discussed)
The ”Shattered Lives” Radio team ventured down such a road with Derek Gaunt for a fascinating hour of learning about the art and science of negotiation of the most important type…when lives hang in the balance! Join us…We guarantee you’ll be wiser and better prepared for having listened…
- Introduction to our guest;
- An introduction to Black Swan Negotiations Consulting Firm;
- A 93+ % success rate in hostage negotiation!
- Myth of a sole hostage negotiator – an analogy to a military sniper’s job…;
- A Coach; a scribe; a situation board person; a team leader; other negotiators managing intelligence, a supervisor, an incident commander….
- Delilah asks about similarities in all hostages cases?
- “Crazy, Criminal, Crusader” Categories…What’s it all about?
- Respect and Empathy – the importance of viewing the world through their eyes…
- “The ultimate compliance professionals”-difference between corporate and hostage orientations;
- Which personality is the most difficult to establish a rapport?
- Instrumental and Expressive criminals explained…; Scenarios A or B;
- Delilah votes for the most difficult scenario…
- “Aha moment…”
- Ladyjustice challenges the “correct answer;”
- Why does a person take a hostage when the police are present?
- A discussion of suffering multiple losses, losing control… if I can’t have you….”
- Ladyjustice asks about negotiation across the board… in every situation; “Getting someone on the phone; I’ve got a shot;”
- Derek explains how he communicates with other team members during the acute situation;
- Do and don’t’s if you are taken hostage…
- The importance of slowing things down…. the critical time;
- Why is it so important to get them on the phone quickly- verbal containment?
- It’s a crime scene… The importance of observation….
- ***When we come in “Face down on the ground” as soon as we hit the door – the physical logistics…
- The clock’s ticking 2 to 3 minutes…. 30 to 60 minutes;
- What do you do… The case of Antoinette Tuffs: Averting tragedy:
- Asking what happened – “Dumping their bucket…”
- Ladyjustice asks about a hostage taker showing compassion…or making demands…;
- “A guy on the bridge that was threatening to jump…” scenario;
- “Swomie”-Suicide with other motivation explained;
- The importance of consistency…
- The aftermath of the hostage situation…;
- A protocol of critical incident stress de-briefing;
- Testifying in court – re-victimization; flashbacks and the role of victim advocates;
- Delilah asks about Derek’s personal de-briefing;
- The story of six negotiators witnessing a deadly force incident at the same time… More aftermath;
- Ladyjustice asks about the role of technology versus one to one communication;
- Geography and jurisdiction issues;
- “Derek’s singular message” to our audience…”
Questions for the Audience…..
- What are the qualifications needed for a hostage negotiation expert?
- What are the factors influencing business and hostage negotiation? How are they related?
- What do the other behind the scenes team members do in a hostage negotiation?
- What is the primary similarity among cases?
- What technique is needed to establish empathy and rapport in order to influence behavior?
- What are the challenges in changing behaviors?
- Why is the instinct for self-preservation and the emotional attachment so important?
- What are the reasons for taking a hostage…. suffering loss?
- What can we do on the prevention side?
- What are techniques to utilize in order to survive when taken hostage?
- What does containment involve?
- How are your observations used later?
- As a victim, does Derek advise negotiating for your own release?
- How do you frame the discussion to begin to establish a rapport?
- How does bargaining work?
- What’s the significance of small concessions in a hostage negotiation?
- How are the hostages treated after release?
- How are the family members of hostages and family of the perpetrators dealt with?
- What’s the “curveball” technology creates nowadays?
- What was Derek’s important takeaway message?
The comments expressed on this website or on the broadcasts of Shattered Lives do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of the hosts, producers, or other guests.