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13 May, 2011

Dozens of ex-prisoners in line for payouts after British Supreme Court ruling on compensation for miscarriages of justice

The man jailed for eight years then acquitted of the murder of Jill Dando is in line for a huge compensation payout following a court ruling last night. Barry George could be handed up to £500,000 after judges lowered the bar for what qualifies as a miscarriage of justice.

The Supreme Court ruled, by the narrowest of margins, that some acquitted in court are entitled to compensation even if they cannot prove their innocence beyond reasonable doubt. But judges warned the ruling would lead to some guilty people landing taxpayer-funded payouts.

Currently, anyone who overturns their conviction must have been ‘shown conclusively to be innocent’ before compensation is considered. Yesterday, five Supreme Court justices, including the President of the Court, Lord Phillips, ruled this definition was too narrow.

In future, applicants will have to show that the evidence on which they were cleared was so compelling that no conviction could ‘possibly be based upon it’. In his ruling, Lord Phillips said: ‘This test will not guarantee that all those who are entitled to compensation are, in fact, innocent. ‘It will, however, ensure that when innocent defendants are convicted on evidence which is subsequently discredited, they are not precluded from obtaining compensation because they cannot prove innocence beyond reasonable doubt.’

But in a dissenting judgement, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, argued it was right only the ‘truly innocent’ should be compensated. ‘In my judgement nothing less will do, and no alternative or half-way house or compromise solution consistent with this clear statutory provision is available,’ he said.

Lord Brown, who also disagreed with the majority ruling, declared himself ‘troubled’ by the outcome. He added that the Justice Secretary, who rules on compensation, may be forced to write cheques for people he knows to be guilty on the basis of inadmissible intercept or intelligence material.

The case was brought by two men convicted of murdering RUC officer Patrick McNulty in Derry in 1977. Raymond McCartney and Eamonn MacDermott, both from Northern Ireland, were freed after evidence suggested confessions had been beaten out of them. They are now in line for payouts worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Mr McCartney, who was also wrongly convicted of another murder a week later, spent 17 years in prison. He was the IRA’s officer commanding in the Maze and spent 53 days on hunger strike.

Mr George spent eight years behind bars after he was convicted in 2001. At his first trial, the prosecution case hinged on a speck of microscopic firearms residue that was later said to be worthless as evidence.

His conviction was quashed on appeal in 2007 and in 2008 he was acquitted following a retrial during which a series of women gave evidence about how he ‘terrified’ and ‘intimidated’ them in the street.

Police are still investigating the murder of Miss Dando, 37, who was shot in the head in April 1999.

A spokesman for Mr George’s solicitor Wells Burcombe said: ‘In light of the Supreme Court decision, he will now ask the Justice Minister to consider afresh his compensation application.’

Last night officials at the Ministry of Justice insisted the ruling would result in ‘very few’ cases. They welcomed the decision by the judges to unanimously reject an appeal by former aircraft engineer Andrew Adams, who spent 14 years in jail before his conviction for murder was ruled unsafe.

The Court of Appeal said he had been denied a fair trial because his lawyers were incompetent, but it was not clear-cut that he would have been cleared by a jury.

Original report here

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12 May, 2011

Trial of John Kurtz, Facing 6 Years in Prison for Videotaping Police

The Facts:

Just before 2 AM on January 1st, 2011 John Kurtz left a Private Party on Orange Avenue and Church Street, Downtown Orlando to investigate some apparent police activity on Church Street.

Kurtz approached the scene and videotaped the incident, which included the use of tasers, a violent take down, and a pepper spraying AFTER the suspect was subdued and in handcuffs.

Officer Adam Gruler repeatedly told Kurtz to go away and turn off the camera. When Kurtz informed Gruler that he knew his rights and wasn’t going anywhere, Gruler violently took Kurtz to the ground and arrested him.

After multiple attempts to deny Kurtz bond, relentless efforts by Kurtz’s friends, family, attorney and other privately contracted help, Kurtz was finally released from Orange County Jail after a full 7 days behind bars.

Kurtz’s Video Camera with the evidence on it that would easily clear or condemn him of these charges mysteriously went missing. It was not in Kurtz’s personal effects when he was released from jail, nor was it entered into evidence. It is unknown what happened to Kurtz’s camera. However, at best it reflects negligence on the Orlando Police Department for failure to secure evidence; at worst it shows absolute corruption and evidence tampering.

John Kurtz is a peaceful person who adheres and promotes the non aggression principle. Kurtz is known by his friends as a pacifist who is much more likely to turn the other cheek, than to retaliate with violence.

The Evidence:

- The evidence against Kurtz is nothing more than the word of a few Police officers.

- The evidence defending Kurtz includes multiple third party eye witnesses and video evidence from the street camera on Church Street. All who show Officer Gruler as the aggressor, and Kurtz simply video taping.

About Officer Gruler:

- Officer Adam Gruler was named by the Orlando Sentinel as a ‘Hunter’ and one of the top Taser users on the force. Gruler is notorious in the poverty stricken area of Orlando known as Parramore for taserings, verbal abuse, violence and questionable conduct. – Gruler’s Internal Affairs profile includes dozens of civilian complaints.

- Officer Adam Gruler is the same out-of-control cop who was recently caught on video unlawfully arresting a local Orlando News photographer!

About John Kurtz:

- Kurtz is known locally for not only his work with OrlandoCopwatch.Com, but also for a variety of civil disobedience and street theater, geared at pointing out the injustice and absurdity of some of the laws and ordinances in Orlando.

- Kurtz made national headlines when he refused to comply with a city ordinance in Orlando banning the feeding of the homeless within 2 miles of City Hall, Kurtz and others repeatedly held food sharings at City Hall.

- Kurtz is an active Jurors Rights activist who spends many mornings at the Orange county Court House informing Jurors of their rights.

- Kurtz has been a political activist as well, formerly a Precinct Chair for the Orange County Republican Executive Committee, and currently a District Coordinator with the Florida Campaign for Liberty, Kurtz has spent countless hours campaigning for local candidates and lobbying politicians for fiscally conservative and socially liberal practices.

- Kurtz has been a successful Real Estate Broker for 6 Years in Central Florida, and considers friends, family and liberty the most important things in his life.

John Kurtz stands Trial. Facing a maximum sentence of 6 years in Prison on the allegations of battery on a LEO, Obstruction of a Police officer, and resisting arrest without violence, Kurtz adamantly proclaims his innocence and that he is a political target because of his involvement with and other activism

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here

11 May, 2011

Corrupt British Chief Constable gets off with a warning

A chief constable who helped a family member jump the queue to apply for a job in his force narrowly escaped the sack yesterday.

Grahame Maxwell, 50, was also accused of trying to ‘discredit’ the misconduct investigation for nepotism that was launched against him and his deputy, Adam Briggs.

Assistant Chief Constable Sue Cross was among several senior North Yorkshire officers praised for their ‘integrity’ and ‘courage’ in standing up to the two police chiefs and challenging their actions.

The affair began in February last year when up to 500,000 phone calls were made to a hotline in response to a recruitment drive for 60 to 70 jobs. The system was ‘overwhelmed’ and most applicants were unable to get through.

Mr Maxwell agreed to allow a member of staff to ring a relative of Mr Briggs – referred to as Ms A – who wanted to apply for a job but had not been able to get through to complete the initial stage of the application process.

Challenged by Miss Cross, Mr Maxwell defended the move, said a report published yesterday by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Instead of backing down, she told her boss she would report the matter to the police authority if he failed to do so.

The IPCC said Mr Maxwell reported the help given to Ms A to police authority chiefs, but failed to mention he had helped a male member of his extended family in a similar way. The man, identified only as Mr B, also wanted a constable’s job and had failed to get through on the hotline.

Mr Maxwell rang the family member himself and completed the vetting questionnaire. Mr B was not entitled to a ‘call back’, said the IPCC.

Eight days after the police authority was informed about Ms A, Mr Maxwell came clean about helping Mr B. The chief constable went to see the force solicitor and allegedly described himself as an ‘a***hole’.

North Yorkshire Police convened a disciplinary hearing, held in private at a secret location, which heard evidence from the IPCC report. Mr Maxwell, who earns £133,000 a year, admitted the sackable offence.

He said he had ‘behaved in a manner apt to bring discredit upon, and undermine public confidence in, the police service’. Yesterday he was given a final written warning for gross misconduct.

Nicholas Long, a commissioner at the IPCC, said Mr Maxwell had shown an ‘unacceptable attitude’ which ‘seriously undermined’ his reputation. He added: ‘The IPCC at various stages has been accused of dis-proportionality.

‘We have been challenged by some senior policing figures and our investigators’ abilities were questioned by the chief constable in an unacceptable attempt to discredit the investigation.’

Mr Briggs, 49, who earned £109,000 a year, was found to have breached the code of conduct and was given ‘management advice’. He was allowed to retire on a full pension after 31 years’ service.

A statement from Mr Maxwell’s law firm Kingsley Napley said: ‘He is sincerely sorry and saddened that a very difficult week resulted in errors of judgement, but continues to lead the North Yorkshire Police and wishes only to focus on doing his best for the force in his position as its chief constable.’

Mr Maxwell, married with one son, became North Yorkshire’s chief constable in 2007, joining from South Yorkshire Police.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here

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