Last week, the judge presiding over George Zimmerman’s trial for the alleged murder of Trayvon Martin revoked Zimmerman’s bond because he failed to disclose $200,000 donated to him through a website. Earlier today, his legal team released a statement claiming that Zimmerman should be allowed to post a new bond because “in all other regards, Mr. Zimmerman has been forthright and cooperative.” The statement also suggests that part of the blame for Zimmerman’s misstatements rests on the many activists who worked to ensure that Zimmerman’s guilt or innocence would be evaluated by a court of law:
The audio recordings of Mr. Zimmerman’s phone conversations while in jail make it clear that Mr. Zimmerman knew a significant sum had been raised by his original fundraising website. We feel the failure to disclose these funds was caused by fear, mistrust, and confusion. The gravity of this mistake has been distinctly illustrated, and Mr. Zimmerman understands that this mistake has undermined his credibility, which he will have to work to repair.
At the point of the bond hearing, Mr. Zimmerman had been driven from his home and neighborhood, could not go to work, his wife could not go back to a finish her nursing degree, his mother and father had been driven from their home, and he had been thrust into the national spotlight as a racist murderer by factions acting with their own agendas. None of those allegations have been supported by the discovery released to date, yet the hatred continues.
Zimmerman was originally released on a $150,000 bond. It’s not clear yet whether the judge will allow him to pay a higher bond in the wake of his misstatements to the court.
The Republican controlled Tennessee House has passed a bill that would criminalize harming an embryo, which is a group of cells that eventually forms into a fetus. Republicans say House Bill 3517 is meant to clarify an existing law that allows the prosecution of those who harm any fetus. But opponents of the bill claim that it could criminalize women who lose a pregnancy via natural miscarriage.
The Tennessean reports that Democratic Rep. Jeanne Richardson predicted that the bill could lead to the criminal prosecution of women who naturally miscarry, which according to the National Institutes of Health, around 50% of all fertilized eggs terminate naturally before reaching full term, and during the embryonic stage the rate of natural termination is higher.
‘Fetus’ is a term most often used after eight weeks of pregnancy. Before that, the term ‘embryo’ is used. By passing this bill, Republicans are trying to mandate that embryos can be victims of crime, which would basically define embryos as persons from the moment of conception. It’s a sneaky way to pass a personhood law. And since abortion is the unnatural termination of an embryo or fetus, the legislation could be used to prosecute women and doctors for murder. This bill IS an anti-abortion law that could scare women from getting an abortion and scare doctors from performing an abortion, even if an abortion is medically necessary. Women who are raped could also face prosecution for getting an abortion. But ultimately, this bill could give any law enforcement official the power to pursue criminal charges against women who naturally miscarry. And considering that many Republicans think miscarriage is murder, it’s not that far-fetched. Last February, Georgia Republican Bobby Franklin introduced a bill that would require investigations of natural miscarriages. If a miscarriage was found to be unnatural, a women could get the death penalty. That’s the direction Tennessee may be heading. So, if you are a woman who has a miscarriage and your nosy anti-abortion neighbor finds out and tells authorities, a conservative prosecutor who wants to score political points could invade your privacy and put you through a rigorous investigation to see if the miscarriage was indeed natural or not and could even have you arrested on the charge of murder because of the ambiguous nature of the bill’s language.
Tennessee Republicans have already tried to mandate that the names and information of doctors who provide abortions be publicized. That law would have outed not only the doctors, but the women they serve as well. Clearly, Tennessee Republicans are seeking to be the most anti-abortion conservative state in the nation. This is yet another shot fired by Republicans in their war against women.
I suppose most people are adjusting to the fact that those very conservative 5-4 decisions on the United States Supreme Court will continue until one of two things happen: a) a conservative retires and the current president appoints a liberal or moderate to that seat or b) Scalia, Thomas or some other rogue Justice is impeached.
John Thompson (pictured) was convicted of a 1984 armed robbery, and later of murder. He spent 18 years in prison, including 14 years on death row. Problem: the prosecutors who sent him to jail withheld some evidence—including eyewitness reports describing a perpetrator who looked nothing like Thompson, and a blood test that proved Thompson’s innocence.
So, after all those years, after facing seven execution warrants, when Thompson finally managed to get himself freed from prison after new trials, Thompson sued the New Orleans district attorney for not training his prosecutors to, you know, not send innocent people away for decades. He won a $14 million judgment from a jury. That was appealed, all the way to the Supreme Court. And yesterday, voila: John Thompson gets nothing. From the NYT:
Justice Scalia, in a concurrence joined by Justice Alito, said the misconduct in the case was the work of a single “miscreant prosecutor,” Gerry Deegan, who suppressed evidence “he believed to be exculpatory, in an effort to railroad Thompson.” No amount of training, Justice Scalia wrote, would have countered such willful wrongdoing.
In her dissent, Justice Ginsburg wrote that “no fewer than five prosecutors” were complicit in a violation of Mr. Thompson’s constitutional rights. “They kept from him, year upon year, evidence vital to his defense.”
Here in America, all bad outcomes which reflect poorly on the current power structure are the result of a handful of Bad Apples. And you can’t hold the people in charge accountable for the work of A Few Bad Apples. This principle applies to ill-conceived wars gone wrong, greed-induced collapse of financial systems, profit-driven corporate environmental destruction, and willful miscarriages of justice. And any future unforeseen disasters, to be determined at a later date.
During the intense public battle with public employee unions last month, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) received an intriguing email from an admirer claiming to be a deputy prosecutor from Indiana. The email suggested that Walker should fake an attack on himself, in order to create sympathy for his cause and damage the reputation of the unions. The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism has the email:
The e-mail was signed by “Carlos F. Lam.” WCIJ did some digging and discovered that indeed, there is a Carlos F. Lam who is a GOP public official in Indiana. He is a deputy prosecutor in Johnson County, Indiana — which is the same area the e-mail was sent from, according to its IP information. Lam also has a history of anti-union comments online: he’s written that Indiana is “an unsustainable public worker gravy train bubble.” In another, he said “unions & companies that feed at the gov’t trough will fight tooth & nail against anything that un-feathers their nests.”
WCIJ contacted Lam and asked him if the Hotmail address on the email belongs to him. Lam confirmed that it does — but categorically denied sending the email. “I am flabbergasted and would never advocate for something like this, and would like everyone to be sure that that’s just not me,” he said, after being read the email. He said he plans to file a police report about the matter this week.
Oddly, the email was sent on the very same day that another Indiana law enforcement official tweeted out violent plans for the protests. Jeffrey Cox, a deputy attorney general for the state, tweeted that police should “use live ammunition” against the protestors. He was fired the next day – but for now, Lam’s boss is backing him. “He didn’t send it,” he told WCIJ.