Daily Archives: October 18, 2009

Justice Department plan – ensure prosecutors play by rules with evidence

This interesting bit of well-duh news comes from the National Law Journal via How Appealing – a blog linked by Will Bardwell on the all-grown-up version of his blog (gosh I miss Elvis).

Under fire for its handling of the criminal case against former Sen. Ted Stevens, the Justice Department last week outlined a plan to ensure prosecutors play by the rules when dealing with evidence. But some criminal defense lawyers and judges say the reforms don’t go far enough.

On Oct. 13, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer traveled to Seattle to address of panel of lawyers and judges who are considering a change to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure that would place more stringent requirements on prosecutors to disclose case information to defense lawyers.

Breuer pitched what he called a “comprehensive approach” to reform — a plan that includes mandatory annual discovery training for all prosecutors and the creation of a new position at Main Justice that will focus on discovery issues. Breuer also said the Justice Department would agree to put existing case law and federal statutes involving information sharing into one rule in the criminal procedure books — making the rule a one-stop shop for disclosure obligations.

But Breuer said the department would fight any effort to require prosecutors to turn over all favorable information to the defense.

The idea of having federal prosecutors throw you a surprise party in court has absolutely no relationship to the concept of justice.  Mr. Breuer doesn’t seem to get that point or several others.

He also played down criticism that prosecutor misconduct is widespread, saying there’s no evidence of that. Continue reading

A Slabbed Sandwich: Homeless First by Katrina and then by Chinese Drywall. State Farm plays the bad taste in the middle.

Does anyone else remember Jim Brown’s last column? We may need to print it out and distribute it. Once again State Farm hoses an elderly lady who also has the misfortune of being a policyholder. Rebecca Mowbray has the story for the Times Picayune which is chock full of hidden ironies (h/t Editilla):

After Hurricane Katrina dropped three trees on the roof of her home in Folsom, Lucille Bourdon built a new home in Covington and moved in December 2006.

Since then, her air conditioning has failed several times, her hot water tank split, her water faucets have developed strange pockmarks, her mirrors and silverware have turned black, and she constantly feels fatigued. In August, Bourdon figured out that her new home is filled with Chinese drywall.

Like most Chinese drywall victims, Bourdon filed a claim on her homeowners insurance without success. Her insurer, State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., sent an inspector to thoroughly document the damage, then denied the claim.

“My insurance won’t take care of it,” said Bourdon, 79, who is now living in a trailer on her property until she figures out how to fix her home. “They say they don’t cover pollution. We can’t get any help from anybody.” Continue reading

Editilla on Hope a Dope

Irreverently insightful and, at times, just so damn funny I laughed aloud, Editillia does us proud.

We were all set to see our Hope Vote validated this past 8/29 Anniversary, but His O’ner blew our Holy Day in The City The Corps Forgot to go on vacation after only 6 months on the job and play golf at a Rich People’s Place. Thus we saw the ‘Hope’ first begin to uncoil.

Then we heard about the White House trip to the Gulf, a 3 Hour Tinkle-Stop Tour, to check on the status of Hurricane Katrina recovery by A) Not going to Mississippi where Katrina actually hit, causing total devastation, and B) Going to New Orleans where Katrina did not hit and did not cause our total devastation –thence we saw the ‘A’ -hidden behind his back, a foreign object.

Then the Big Show finally arrives amidst obvious disregard and Presidential hubris that we should all be so grateful the president took the time to come and blow smoke up our asses and use our wounded city to Campaign for his Health Care/Economic Thingy.

Butt, it wasn’t until His O’ner opened his mouth and out came the Wise Blood channeling Elmer Gantry (as a Yankee might think we southerners behave in “N’Awlins”) that Editilla saw the scene completed, saw the ‘Dope’. That is when I saw His O’ner “just getting started” on his wind-up to whip us with Hope’A’Dope. Continue reading

Recuse in the Scruggs news

A coincidence, perhaps? Northern district Judge Shannon Aycock (Wilson v Scruggs) and southern district Judge Sul Ozerden (Young v Scruggs) each recused from a case involving Dick Scruggs in Orders dated October 15, 2009.

Wilson v Scruggs was filed in federal court in North Mississippi and assigned to Judge Neil Biggers.  Shortly after Scruggs’ co-defendant Steve Patterson filed his Motion to Dismiss, Judge Biggers recused and the case was reassigned to Judge Shannon Aycock.

However, Judge Aycock filed a Waiver of Judicial Disqualification with the Clerk:

Unless a waiver is obtained from all parties and all counsel, Judge Aycock intends to disqualify in this proceeding because of these circumstances:

Judge Aycock’s Courtroom Deputy, Ginger McDaniel Sullivan, worked as a
paralegal with the Wm. Roberts Wilson, Jr. P.A., law firm in Jackson, Mississippi, from June 2001 to February 2005. In that position, Sullivan worked under the direction of William Roberts Wilson, Jr., Charles M. Merkel, III, and Roberts Wilson, Jr. During her employment, Sullivan was familiar with and worked on issues in the lawsuit Wilson vs. Scruggs, et al, First Judicial District of Hinds County Circuit Court. This litigation was pending when she began her employment and was not resolved as of the date she left the firm…

If a waiver is not received from all parties and all counsel, this Notice and any responses will be kept under seal by the clerk and not shown to the judge, nor will the judge be informed of the identity of any party or lawyer who declined to waive the disqualification. If the disqualification is not waived, the case will be reassigned to another judge.

Apparently waivers were not received from all parties as Judge Aycock recused and issued a related Order dated October 15, 2009. Continue reading