Prosecution – Criminal Justice Online http://criminaljustice-online.com/ Fri, 30 Sep 2022 22:31:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.3 https://criminaljustice-online.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/icon.png Prosecution – Criminal Justice Online http://criminaljustice-online.com/ 32 32 Baltimore District Attorney Adam Lane Chaudry accused of abusing his powers to stalk his ex-partners https://criminaljustice-online.com/baltimore-district-attorney-adam-lane-chaudry-accused-of-abusing-his-powers-to-stalk-his-ex-partners/ Fri, 30 Sep 2022 22:14:19 +0000 https://criminaljustice-online.com/baltimore-district-attorney-adam-lane-chaudry-accused-of-abusing-his-powers-to-stalk-his-ex-partners/ A former Baltimore prosecutor faces federal charges for allegedly abusing his powers to obtain phone records, driver’s license photos and other information from former romantic partners and their friends as part of a harassment scheme, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland announced Friday. Adam Lane Chaudry, 43, of Baltimore, was indicted by a federal grand […]]]>

A former Baltimore prosecutor faces federal charges for allegedly abusing his powers to obtain phone records, driver’s license photos and other information from former romantic partners and their friends as part of a harassment scheme, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland announced Friday.

Adam Lane Chaudry, 43, of Baltimore, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Thursday on 10 counts of fraud in connection with issuing subpoenas to obtain confidential documents, which he has sometimes claimed to need under a “special investigation” by the City of Baltimore Circuit Court, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

None of the five victims were witnesses or targets of an investigation by the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office, the US Attorney’s Office said.

When reached by phone, Chaudry said he would forward a reporter’s phone number to his attorney to respond to the allegations. The attorney, Patrick R. Seidel, did not call or respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon. The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment.

Chaudry, who worked as an assistant district attorney in Baltimore between 2009 and June 2021, has handled homicide cases for his past six years. Maryland court records show he worked on hundreds of criminal prosecutions during that time.

Chaudry faces another 88-count indictment in Baltimore City Circuit Court which charges him with theft, office misconduct, stalking, harassment and extortion, among other charges. Most of those charges, which were announced in November, relate to the same alleged conduct covered in the federal case.

The federal indictment alleges Chaudry was romantically involved with one victim between 2005 and 2018 and a second between 2017 and 2020. The other three alleged victims are friends of the first romantic partner and volunteered with that person .

Between 2019 and 2021, Chaudry had 33 subpoenas issued for the phone records of the first romantic partner and he had access to the data, according to the federal indictment. The indictment alleges the subpoenas contained no case number and read: “The information sought in this subpoena is relevant and essential to a legitimate law enforcement investigation.”

Similar language was used in his other subpoenas.

Chaudry also asked an investigator from the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office to provide the first romantic partner’s home address, motor vehicle administration records and a photo of the driver’s license, according to the deed. federal indictment. The information has been provided.

While living with the second victim in 2019, Chaudry asked an investigator from the district attorney’s office to seek the name of a relative of the victim who had served time in a Maryland detention center, according to the act. federal indictment. Chaudry also reportedly asked for – and received – the parent’s phone number and address.

Chaudry then subpoenaed jail calls between the second romantic partner and the parent, and the parent’s visitor logs to the jail, according to the federal indictment. Chaudry also allegedly requested 911 calls from the second romantic partner using his email address at the district attorney’s office.

Additionally, Chaudry requested information from a hotel about the first romantic partner and his friend’s stays using his email from the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office, according to the federal indictment. The hotel manager provided information about the stay of the first love partner.

Chaudry also issued numerous subpoenas for the phone records of the first romantic partner’s friends, according to the federal indictment. In all, Chaudry reportedly requested 65 subpoenas for phone records.

Chaudry faces a maximum of 10 years in prison for each count in the federal case. He faces a five-year increase per count related to the stalking allegations.

The Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office did not respond to requests for comment.

No date has been set for Chaudry in federal court. He is next due to appear in state court on October 4.

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Colorado prosecutors take steps to even the scales of justice https://criminaljustice-online.com/colorado-prosecutors-take-steps-to-even-the-scales-of-justice/ Thu, 29 Sep 2022 01:45:00 +0000 https://criminaljustice-online.com/colorado-prosecutors-take-steps-to-even-the-scales-of-justice/ For the first time, Colorado prosecutors are giving the public a window into their work. They have posted data dashboards online to show metrics such as the racial and ethnic makeup of the people they are prosecuting and how long a person is waiting for their day in court. Alexis King, district attorney for Jefferson […]]]>

For the first time, Colorado prosecutors are giving the public a window into their work. They have posted data dashboards online to show metrics such as the racial and ethnic makeup of the people they are prosecuting and how long a person is waiting for their day in court.

Alexis King, district attorney for Jefferson and Gilpin counties, said she has long wanted to measure bias in her office, especially given the number of files on her desk with Latino surnames.

“I didn’t know how to quantify it, how to recognize any impact, or how to start a conversation to resolve the disparities,” King said at a recent press conference in Denver.

This is the largest effort of its kind in the country, and the ultimate goal is for offices like King’s – which have never had access to this data before – to identify the patterns and work to fix them. In this field, data is everything.

According to King’s First Judicial District data dashboard, his office declined to prosecute 14% of cases involving Hispanic defendants. This prosecution rate is similar to cases involving white defendants.

There are, however, caveats to the data. For one thing, it doesn’t include population demographics, which proponents say provides important context. The overall Hispanic population of Jefferson and Gilpin counties is 15% and less than 1%, respectively. This means that the prosecution rate for Hispanics reflects major disparities.

There are also data collection issues. The notes the Dashboard’s website, “Data for Hispanic defendants is likely inaccurate due to data collection difficulties.” Indeed, Hispanic defendants are often undercounted and identified as white, King’s office said.

Officials emphasize that the goal of the data dashboards in their initial phase is to start a conversation and give people a better idea of ​​who is entering Colorado’s criminal justice system.

“One of the most important things is to track the disparities we see. And I say that as a data person,” said Seleeke Flingai, senior researcher at the Vera Institute of Justice. The independent think tank focuses on ways to improve the justice system.

“Knowing the problem from a data perspective can help inform any slew of policies coming out of the community,” he said.

Prior to the data dashboards, the Vera Institute was already working with Boulder County. Researchers analyzed thousands of cases between 2013 and 2019 and found that blacks and Hispanics were more likely to face charges, convictions and incarceration than whites. Meanwhile, homeless people accounted for a disproportionate number of cases. Flingai said it’s not unique to Boulder County.

“I think it’s a combination of a lack of housing options, supportive housing for people, and I think a general desire to kind of hide the issues in our society,” he said. . “And so the criminal justice system, unfortunately, has played a major role in that across the country.”

Boulder County District Attorney Michael Doughtery welcomes the review. He chose to work with the Vera Institute, he said, and he volunteered to be a pilot district for the data dashboards project.

“Rather than just saying, ‘It’s not our fault, we have the hand that was dealt to us,’ I think we have a responsibility and an obligation to do our best to identify racial inequities in the justice system and then to root them out,” Doughtery told KUNC.

An example is how Dougherty the office deals with adult diversion. This is an area where there are strong racial disparities. Diversion rates are 69% for white defendants, 19% for Hispanics, and 4% for black residents.

The disparity is less pronounced among juvenile cases with 63% of white cases and 30% of Hispanic cases diverted. So the Boulder DA is pushing — or diverting more young people of color — into other programs to keep them out of detention centers.

“So what we’ve realized is that we should have the same screening method for minors and adults,” he said, “because what we do with adult cases, it is that our approximately 40 prosecutors use their own discretion to determine whether a case is appropriate for embezzlement or not”.

In other words, with 40 prosecutors, you’ll likely have 40 different approaches and philosophies, Dougherty said.

Dougherty holds weekly town hall meetings so people can ask questions about the data displayed on the dashboards. Raising public awareness is one of the researchers’ intentions for this project.

“What we really pushed was for each office to look at their data and do some interpretation and critical thinking,” said Laura Gase from the Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab at the University of Denver, the lead group working on data dashboards.

She hopes the data prompts questions like, “Is this where we want to be in terms of layoff rates?” Is this where we want to be with regard to sentencing for criminal offences? »

Numbers for a new era

In Fort Collins, District Attorney Gordon McLaughlin is also focused on engaging the community with this data — and how he can use it to reduce disparities and keep people out of the justice system.

“One of the reasons I came to this office is to try to figure out what’s most effective and to understand that the traditional thoughts of, you know, throwing people in jail isn’t necessarily the most effective way,” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin has already started making changes based on what he learned from the data dashboards. One thing that strikes him is how long people have been waiting for answers on their cases.

“Most jurisdictions, including us, found when we looked at the graph of our data set, going back to 2017, that cases were taking longer and longer to resolve,” he said.

The result is delayed justice for victims, delayed accountability for defendants, and a longer delay before they are connected to the resources they need.

McLaughlin dug deeper into these new numbers and brainstorming solutions. One area of ​​focus is when he makes misdemeanor offers to defendants accused of crimes.

“Are we making this tort offer one month after the start of the case or nine months after the start of this case? And if it is nine months, what was the cause of this delay?

Prosecutors McLaughlin and Dougherty are Democrats who are quick to recognize the social justice component of their work. They both said the killing of George Floyd was a watershed moment. This has compounded the lack of public confidence in the justice system and intensified community demands for transparency. The search for this data is directly related to this.

But the new dashboards are a bipartisan effort.

In one of the fastest growing areas in the state, Weld County Attorney Michael Rourke said his office lacked the resources to participate in the pilot phase. But the Republican is on board for the next one, which researchers will begin soon. District attorneys are responsible for selecting the categories of data they release, and Rourke already has some data points in mind.

“I think one of the most important things the community would want to know, based on my interactions with my community, is how are we doing racially, implicitly biased, of an external bias?” Rourke said.

Like other DAs and researchers, Rourke said shedding light on potential disparities is just the first step — the first in many when it comes to working toward a truly blind justice system.

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Crime and punishment: Highest number of domestic violence murders, prosecutor says https://criminaljustice-online.com/crime-and-punishment-highest-number-of-domestic-violence-murders-prosecutor-says/ Tue, 27 Sep 2022 01:39:23 +0000 https://criminaljustice-online.com/crime-and-punishment-highest-number-of-domestic-violence-murders-prosecutor-says/ They don’t always make the headlines, but every Friday in King County Court, those convicted of crimes hear their sentences and KIRO Newsradio tells you the story. Sentences last week included a convicted killer, a bank robber and a man convicted of multiple pharmacy robberies. Crime and punishment: Man convicted for involvement in 2019 Licton […]]]>

They don’t always make the headlines, but every Friday in King County Court, those convicted of crimes hear their sentences and KIRO Newsradio tells you the story.

Sentences last week included a convicted killer, a bank robber and a man convicted of multiple pharmacy robberies.

Crime and punishment: Man convicted for involvement in 2019 Licton Springs murder

Case 1: Joseph Gongora

Joseph Gongora was convicted of murdering his girlfriend in 2020. He was sentenced to around 18 years behind bars in what McNerthney says is a particularly tragic case.

“As of September 2020, he was living with his girlfriend Crystal Rohre,” McNerthney said. “They had moved here from Texas. He was in his thirties and worked in retail. Things seemed fine at first. They had been dating since 2013.”

McNerthney says Gongora’s behavior started to change at some point. “As his lawyer told the court, things went downhill when Gongora started having paranoid delusions, believing that people were tormenting him and patting him with electronic devices.”

McNerthney says Gongora started behaving erratically. “He made an unexpected trip to Texas the month before the murder, where his family said he was not bathing and was disheveled, and he worried his mother and other relatives,” he said. -he adds.

Gongora was later diagnosed with unspecified schizophrenia.

Prosecutors said when Gongora returned to Seattle, he continued to have delusions. During one such frenzy, he grabbed a gun the couple kept in the apartment and shot Rohre twice, killing her.

Rohre’s murder marked an increase in domestic violence killings in King County. McNerthney says the DA’s office assessed the numbers over the past 25 years. “The domestic violence murders are tracked by David Martin, arguably the best DV prosecutor in the state. He obtained data from the medical examiner’s office dating back to 1997 and, for the first time in King County history, looked at deaths to show the true number of DV cases – not just traditional DV homicides, but also intimate partner violence, suicides, DV-related deaths, and shootings involving officers in domestic violence incidents,” McNerthney recalled. “What this shows is that King County had relatively low numbers in 2018 and again in 2019,” he said.

But once COVID hit, the numbers soared.

“Crystal Rohre’s death was one of the cases that led to the most domestic violence-related murders – 30 of them – in a single year in King County,” McNerthney said. “Certainly the pandemic lockdown has had an impact on that total number.”

Gongora had no criminal history until his mental health deteriorated – this murder was his first known crime. For this reason, the statewide range set by lawmakers — even while guilty of the charge — is 123 to 220 months (which is roughly 10 to 18 years).

During his sentencing for the murder of Rohre on Friday, the judge decided to send Gongora to prison for a period close to the maximum allowed. McNerthney says the judge sentenced Gongora to 216 months behind bars, or exactly 18 years. According to McNerthney, “the judge also ordered evaluations for alcoholism and drug addiction, as these were factors in his life.”

Case 2: Mohammad Ahmed

“People hear about these cases on the news from time to time, but it’s rare to hear what happens next,” McNerthney explained. “King County prosecutors are getting convictions like in this case,” he added, referring to Mohamud Ahmed, who was convicted of multiple armed robberies at a pharmacy.

“He was looking for what we typically see stolen from drugstore thefts — painkillers,” McNerthney said.

Ahmed was armed with a handgun he was not allowed to have when he robbed pharmacies in February 2021.

“It was traumatic for the people who worked at the pharmacy. As you can imagine, armed robberies can turn deadly very quickly. This one didn’t, but the trauma of some of those employees is still there,” he added.

Seattle Police and the King County Sheriff’s Department investigated and helped secure the convictions against Ahmed on two first-degree robbery charges and one first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm charge.

“He was sentenced to 77 months in total — about six and a half years — which is within statewide sentencing guidelines established by state lawmakers,” McNerthney said.

The judge also ordered him to get an assessment for drug and alcohol abuse – and there is a court order to follow any recommendations that come out of that assessment.

A co-defendant pleaded guilty earlier this year and is now also enrolled in treatment, admitting he suffers from a significant drug addiction.

Case 3: Alek’s Bridges

The next case will likely help deter anyone who has ever considered robbing a bank.

“People have this idea that if you rob a bank, you’ll get away with huge loot like the bandits of 100 years ago. Maybe it’s also because of Hollywood bandit — longtime North West residents will remember him and the bank robbery spree he went on in the 1990s — because he robbed millions of banks,” McNerthney said.

“The reality is that the banks have changed to prepare for the threat, and although they rarely say how much money was taken, you can find out by looking at the sentencing documents. The fact is you rarely get any other thing than a crime when you rob a bank,” he added.

And these days it’s hardly worth the risk, as evidenced by the case of Alek Bridges, who was convicted of robbing a Kirkland bank.

“When Bridges robbed the Kirkland bank, he walked away with $985,” McNerthney said.

“He also left with a GPS tracker and threw away his gloves which helped investigators track his DNA through the CODIS law enforcement database. Bridges has made bad previous decisions – he was convicted of assault and unlawful possession of firearms and of trying to evade the police, so his DNA was already in the database that tracks the known criminals,” McNerthney explained.

Based on his previous convictions, he had an offender score of 3, putting his sentencing range set by state lawmakers between 13 and 17 months, with the judge sentencing him to 13 months.

Follow Hanna Scott on Twitter or email him here.

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Parks death inquest goes to prosecutor | New https://criminaljustice-online.com/parks-death-inquest-goes-to-prosecutor-new/ Sat, 24 Sep 2022 06:00:00 +0000 https://criminaljustice-online.com/parks-death-inquest-goes-to-prosecutor-new/ JONESBORO — The investigation into the July 17 death of Jonesboro Police Officer Vincent Parks has been assigned to the Pulaski County District Attorney’s Office, according to state Rep. Fran Cavenaugh, R-Walnut Ridge. Parks died on the first day of the police training academy at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock after participating in physical […]]]>

JONESBORO — The investigation into the July 17 death of Jonesboro Police Officer Vincent Parks has been assigned to the Pulaski County District Attorney’s Office, according to state Rep. Fran Cavenaugh, R-Walnut Ridge.

Parks died on the first day of the police training academy at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock after participating in physical activity.

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Prosecutor says deadly force not justified in Penn Borough shooting https://criminaljustice-online.com/prosecutor-says-deadly-force-not-justified-in-penn-borough-shooting/ Thu, 22 Sep 2022 04:07:20 +0000 https://criminaljustice-online.com/prosecutor-says-deadly-force-not-justified-in-penn-borough-shooting/ Sept. 22 – A Penn Borough man told a Westmoreland County jury on Wednesday that he was shot in the chest by his landlord last summer. Nathan Booher, 26, said he was unarmed on August 28, 2021 when he entered the house he had lived in for the previous three years with his mother’s boyfriend […]]]>

Sept. 22 – A Penn Borough man told a Westmoreland County jury on Wednesday that he was shot in the chest by his landlord last summer.

Nathan Booher, 26, said he was unarmed on August 28, 2021 when he entered the house he had lived in for the previous three years with his mother’s boyfriend and he was shot after refusing to leave the residence.

Michael Keslar, 45, of Penn Borough, is on trial for attempted murder, two counts of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment.

“I don’t remember what Mike Keslar said, but he pulled out a gun and fired warning shots as I stood by the front door,” Booher said during the premiere. day of the trial before Judge Tim Krieger of the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas.

Booher testified that he paid Keslar $200 every two weeks to live in the house.

The prosecution argues there is no justification for Keslar to use lethal force, according to Assistant District Attorney Jackie Knupp.

Tim Andrews, Keslar’s defense attorney, told jurors his client acted in self-defense and believed Booher intended to harm him after the two men fought earlier in at night while drinking at the Penn Rod and Gun Club.

Booher testified that he was originally armed when he and Keslar went to the bar to witness a shooting earlier in the day, but had no weapon when he was shot.

He said he complied with Keslar’s request later that day to give him the gun as the pair continued to drink at the club before a disagreement between the men ended the evening .

Booher told jurors he drove to his mother’s home several blocks away, asked for her gun, and when she refused, he punched through a window of her vehicle.

“I remember being angry that night,” Booher said. He later told jurors, “I went back to Michael Keslar’s, sat outside and tried to calm myself down.”

Prosecutors say Booher’s mother sent a series of text messages to Keslar about the altercation that included an allegation that her son intended to kill her boyfriend.

Booher testified that he typed in a code on an electronic keypad, to enter the front door of the house and was greeted by a Keslar armed with a gun.

Booher was hospitalized for 41 days after the shooting and underwent multiple surgeries, he testified.

The trial will continue on Thursday.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Rich by email at rcholodofsky@triblive.com or via Twitter.

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Inmate confessed to killing 4 St. Louis area women in 1990 https://criminaljustice-online.com/inmate-confessed-to-killing-4-st-louis-area-women-in-1990/ Tue, 20 Sep 2022 13:21:00 +0000 https://criminaljustice-online.com/inmate-confessed-to-killing-4-st-louis-area-women-in-1990/ CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) — A murderer sentenced to life for killing a man in 1995 has confessed to strangling four women five years earlier, St. Louis-area prosecutors said Monday. Gary Muehlberg, a 73-year-old inmate at Potosi Correctional Center in southeast Missouri, confessed to the 1990 murders after O’Fallon Police Detective Jodi Weber reopened the case […]]]>

CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) — A murderer sentenced to life for killing a man in 1995 has confessed to strangling four women five years earlier, St. Louis-area prosecutors said Monday.

Gary Muehlberg, a 73-year-old inmate at Potosi Correctional Center in southeast Missouri, confessed to the 1990 murders after O’Fallon Police Detective Jodi Weber reopened the case cold and linked one of the murders to Muehlberg through DNA testing, authorities said. during a press conference.

Prosecutors in Lincoln, St. Charles and St. Louis counties, where the victims’ bodies were found, announced four new counts of first-degree murder against Muehlberg for the murders of Robyn Mihan, Brenda Pruitt, Donna Reitmeyer and Sandy Little.

“It may have taken a while, but your family member has not been forgotten,” St. Charles County District Attorney Tim Lohmar told relatives of the victims who attended the conference call. hurry.

Lohmar said all of the murders had ties to an area in southern St. Louis that was known at the time for prostitution, but he declined to elaborate. He said authorities have not determined a motive for the killings.

Muehlberg was sentenced to life in prison in 1995 for the murder of Kenneth Atchison. Lohmar said Muehlberg killed Atchison in an argument over money.

The body of one of the victims was found in O’Fallon, prompting Weber to reopen the case in 2008. She began trying to find a DNA sample match. Finally, this spring, DNA evidence linked Muehlberg to Mihan.

“Unbelievable!” Weber said when asked about her reaction to the DNA match.

Prosecutors then began talking to Muehlberg and agreed not to pursue the death penalty in exchange for his cooperation, which led to his eventual confession, Lohmar said.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Muehlberg wrote a letter to Weber in August expressing remorse for the murders.

“I have to live with my past – the good and the bad. No more running,” he wrote.

St. Louis County District Attorney Wesley Bell said authorities are continuing to investigate to see if Muehlberg may have committed other crimes.

“There are at least some indications that suggest this,” Lincoln County District Attorney Mike Wood said.

Dawn McIntosh, daughter of Donna Reitmeyer, said she was delighted to learn of the charges.

“Because I don’t think she rested in peace knowing he was still there,” McIntosh said of her mother. “So I’m glad he was caught.”

Saundra Kuehnle, now 75, recalled her daughter Robyn having three dimples and a smile that lit up the room. Mihan was only 18 when she died.

“I had harassed the police and detectives forever, on and off, over the years,” Kuehnle said. “A long time to wait, but all in God’s time.”

To report a correction or typo, please email digitalnews@ky3.com

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Jacob Zuma’s private lawsuit against a journalist puts… https://criminaljustice-online.com/jacob-zumas-private-lawsuit-against-a-journalist-puts/ Sun, 18 Sep 2022 20:59:20 +0000 https://criminaljustice-online.com/jacob-zumas-private-lawsuit-against-a-journalist-puts/ It was the evening of May 9, 2007. I received a call from the editor of The star. A journalist had been assigned to report on the petition to the Constitutional Court by the former Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, Billy Masetlha, against President Thabo Mbeki. Masetlha alleged that Mbeki had illegally suspended […]]]>

It was the evening of May 9, 2007. I received a call from the editor of The star. A journalist had been assigned to report on the petition to the Constitutional Court by the former Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, Billy Masetlha, against President Thabo Mbeki. Masetlha alleged that Mbeki had illegally suspended and then removed him from his post. The court was due to hear arguments the next day.

The problem for the journalist was that the heads of argument (the legal summaries of the parties to their case) were not available for download on the Constitutional Court’s website, as was usually the case. And when the reporter called the Constitutional Court Registrar’s office for copies earlier today, the Registrar said he was told the arguments could not be disclosed because they contained information which, if they were made public, would harm national security. When the journalist approached Masetlha’s lawyers to obtain the documents, they also refused, given the position taken by the clerk.

We worked through the night to file an urgent application in the Constitutional Court the next morning when the Masetlha case was due to be heard. The court granted immediate access to the pleadings and required litigants to justify why any other records filed in the case should not be made available to the public (most of the documents were eventually made public). And the journalist reported that day on the Masetlha case, guided by the arguments she had successfully obtained and the pleadings in court.

This reporter was Karyn Maughan, now accused number two in a private criminal prosecution brought by former President Jacob Zuma.

Maughan is a specialist journalist – reporting on important court cases, developments in the justice system and legal issues. There are only a few such specialists in South Africa – and when they report on high-profile court cases – like Masetlha’s or the state prosecution of Zuma for alleged corruption – their currency, their tools of the trade are the court documents that set the parameters of the legal dispute and which, in some legal cases, contain each party’s evidence. Access to these documents helps legal journalists understand the litigation so that, in addition to observing the case in court, they can report and provide accurate analysis in an appropriate context.

The right to publish articles based on court documents is a fundamental principle of media freedom. This is why, 15 years ago, The star took urgent steps to appear before the Constitutional Court to obtain the documents of the Masetlha case. This is why, in 2015, the Supreme Court of Appeals stated, in one of the leading open court cases, that “the guiding principle…must be that all court records are, by default , public documents that are open to public scrutiny at all times”. And that’s why, when Zuma asked for the resumption of his criminal trial to be postponed until 2021, Maughan wanted access to court documents that would inform the public about why Zuma was advocating for the postponement, and the state’s response.

Learn more in Daily Maverick: “Zuma’s strategy designed to crush lawsuits – but SA’s robust legal system will prevail

According to Adrian Basson, editor-in-chief of News24 (who published Maughan’s story on the postponement), the day before the court was scheduled to hear the postponement application, Maughan asked attorney Andrew Breitenbach SC, representing the state in the application, if any documents court cases had been filed. He gave him an unsigned copy of the affidavit from attorney Billy Downer SC (the lead prosecutor in Zuma’s indictment) on the condition that she only report it once it has been filed in court. She complied. The next day, Basson says, Breitenbach sent Maughan a copy of Zuma’s affidavit, which was then filed in court. Both affidavits – Downer and Zuma – included a letter from a medical professional (a military medical services brigadier general) giving a medical reason for Zuma’s request for surrender. Maugan and News24 publishes an article about the adjournment and the Brigadier General’s letter two hours later.

by Jacob Zuma private prosecution by Billy Downer and Karyn Maughan concerns the disclosure in a news report of a medical letter. (Photo: Thuli Dlamini)

Fast forward a little over a year. Zuma now has filed a private suit Downer (accused number one) and Maughan regarding the disclosure in the news report of the Brigadier-General’s letter. Our Private Prosecutions Act says this: if the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) declines to prosecute, a private prosecution may be brought by anyone who demonstrates a “substantial and particular interest” arising from “certain damages that he has individually suffered” as a result of the commission of a crime. And such a lawsuit cannot be brought for an ulterior purpose; it would be an abuse of process.

Learn more in Daily Maverick: ‘Zuma thumbs his nose at press freedom and justice system as he drags top journalist to court’

Zuma has filed a criminal complaint against Downer and “everyone else” in connection with the disclosure of the letter. The NPA refused to prosecute, so Zuma is now doing it himself. His argument is that the harm he has suffered as a result of the disclosure is that his “right to privacy, dignity and a fair trial has been harmed”.

But what did Maughan do wrong? The indictment alleges that she violated section 41(6)(b) of the National Prosecuting Authority Act.

This provision prohibits anyone from disclosing “any book or document” in the possession of the NPA without the authorization of the National Director of Public Prosecutions. Now, while the Zuma and Downer affidavits (and Brigadier General’s attached letter) are “documents” in the possession of the NPA, once they are filed in court, they become public records. Thus, the provision cannot apply to the disclosure of documents once they are filed in court. And Maughan’s story on the medical letter was published after the documents were filed in court.

What about Maughan’s receipt of Downer’s affidavit before it was filed? This cannot be caught by Article 41(6)(b), because it prohibits disclosure not possession of NPA documents. Zuma’s charge against Maughan in this regard is that she was an accomplice: she “facilitated, aided and/or abetted” Downer in disclosing the letter and thereby aided or abetted him in committing a crime.


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Yet all Maughan did was ask for the court documents, which were provided to him voluntarily. Additionally, she agreed that they would not be published until they were filed in court. It seems a quantum leap from that to claim she aided and abetted a criminal offense. She did what legal reporters do every day: they ask lawyers and others for court documents. She should not face criminal consequences for doing her job. And Zuma’s alleged “harm” from the disclosure is, in my view, also grossly exaggerated – the disclosure of the letter could not have affected the fairness of his criminal trial because the letter had already been disclosed to the court by the parties themselves. And for similar reasons, there could be no breach of Zuma’s privacy by Maughan’s disclosure.

Flagrant action

In my opinion, what makes this lawsuit by the former president egregious – even more so than the litany of unsuccessful civil libel suits he filed against the media many years ago – is that he This is a criminal case, where the state has already refused to prosecute. Additionally, Zuma could have claimed confidentiality for the medical letter when he filed his request for deferral – but he did not. And Judge Piet Koen (who is presiding over the corruption case against Zuma) has already dealt with the disclosure of medical letter in the context of Zuma’s unsuccessful argument that Downer should be removed from the case, claiming that the disclosure did not violate Zuma’s right to privacy.

In this context, bringing a private prosecution against a journalist doing his job creates a chilling effect on other journalists. After all, if Maughan is found guilty, she could face a 15-year prison sentence.

That’s why this is a case that should send shivers down the spine of our Democrats.

It is not just Maughan but media freedom itself that Zuma is putting on trial. DM

Dr Dario Milo is a partner at Webber Wentzel, Visiting Assistant Professor of Law at the University of the Witwatersrand and a member of the High Level Legal Expert Group on Media Freedom chaired by Lord Neuberger.

Gallery

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Guantánamo prosecutor who advocated the use of torture Testimony withdrawn from USS Cole bombing case https://criminaljustice-online.com/guantanamo-prosecutor-who-advocated-the-use-of-torture-testimony-withdrawn-from-uss-cole-bombing-case/ Sat, 17 Sep 2022 03:52:00 +0000 https://criminaljustice-online.com/guantanamo-prosecutor-who-advocated-the-use-of-torture-testimony-withdrawn-from-uss-cole-bombing-case/ A second military commission prosecutor who had advocated the use of testimonies obtained through torture against defendants in the death penalty trial of Guantanamo inmates charged with the October 2000 bombing USS Cole (pictured) in waters off the coast of Yemen was removed from the case. Mark A.Millerthe lead prosecutor in the Cole case, was […]]]>

A second military commission prosecutor who had advocated the use of testimonies obtained through torture against defendants in the death penalty trial of Guantanamo inmates charged with the October 2000 bombing USS Cole (pictured) in waters off the coast of Yemen was removed from the case.

Mark A.Millerthe lead prosecutor in the Cole case, was not present at a status conference scheduled for September 14, 2022 and defense attorneys for the five men charged in the bombing said they were told that Navy Rear Adm. Aaron C. Roughthe Attorney General of the Military Commissions had removed him from the case.

International human rights treaties prohibit the use of torture evidence and the Biden administration has said it will not use statements obtained from a defendant through torture in that defendant’s trial. . In a brief filed January 31, 2022 in connection with the prosecution of the accused Cole Brain Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the Justice Department reversed Guantánamo’s previous policy and said, “The government recognizes that torture is heinous and illegal, and unequivocally adheres to standards of humane treatment for all detainees.” … [T]The government will not seek admission at any stage of the proceedings of any of the petitioner’s statements while in CIA custody.

Nonetheless, in May 2022, Miller sought to use statements against Nashiri that had been obtained from another detainee, Ahmed Muhammed Haza al-Darbi, after US soldiers in Afghanistan, as reported by the New York Timeshad kept him “hooded and naked, deprived of sleep, [and] used as an ashtray,” and made him clean up “a foul spill of human waste and diesel fuel with his bare hands.” Miller said the interrogation tactics were “unpleasant” and “shouldn’t have been done” but did not constitute torture. He also argued that even though the evidence was obtained through torture, it was nonetheless legally admissible because using it against Nashiri did not constitute self-incrimination.

Citing orders from the military command, Rugh, who was appointed chief prosecutor in June 2022, declined to answer questions from the New York Times about his decision.

Miller is the second top commission prosecutor whose departure was linked to his support for the presentation of evidence obtained through torture. After clashing with Biden administration officials over whether to use statements obtained through torture from Guantánamo detainees, Army Brigadier General Mark S. Martins, the former Guantánamo’s chief military commission prosecutor, abruptly submitted documents on July 7, 2021, notifying his early retirement.

Nashiri presented hundreds of pages of documents indicating that CIA agents subjected him to years of “physical, psychological and sexual torture” during interrogations at so-called “black sites”. Evidence includes that Nashiri was subjected to waterboarding, forced sodomy, starvation, rectal force-feeding, sleep deprivation, being placed in a coffin-sized box for a total of 11 days and in a box the size of an office safe for 29 hours, and being threatened with a gun and an electric drill while suspended, naked and in chains, from the ceiling of a cell in a black site that a CIA agent described as “the closest thing he’s seen to a dungeon”.

Seventeen American sailors aboard the Cole were killed and dozens more were injured in the bombing. Nashiri was arraigned in November 2011, but the case has dragged on in pretrial proceedings for more than a decade, including litigation over the government’s refusal to release information about interrogations at secret sites. The case was also slowed by changes in court personnel.

In September 2018, Air Force Colonel Shelley Schools announced her retirement, just a month after she was named the third judge to preside over the case. In April 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned more than two years of pretrial rulings, including more than 450 written orders in the case due to a conflict of interests not disclosed by former military commission judge, Air Force Col. Vance Spath. Spath had retired after months of frustration with developments in the Nashiri case following the resignation of Nashiri’s entire civil defense team in October 2017 in protest at the government’s illegal wiretapping of their legal meetings.

The procedure was also halted for almost a year and a half due to the pandemic.

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Charge rests in Orlando guardian trial https://criminaljustice-online.com/charge-rests-in-orlando-guardian-trial/ Thu, 15 Sep 2022 13:57:46 +0000 https://criminaljustice-online.com/charge-rests-in-orlando-guardian-trial/ Prosecutors closed their case Thursday morning at the Tampa trial for Rebecca Fierle, the former Orlando guardian charged with abuse and neglect in the 2019 death of an incapacitated client. Jurors will now hear defense witnesses at trial. Fierle, 53, is charged with aggravated abuse and neglect of an older or disabled adult in the […]]]>

Prosecutors closed their case Thursday morning at the Tampa trial for Rebecca Fierle, the former Orlando guardian charged with abuse and neglect in the 2019 death of an incapacitated client.

Jurors will now hear defense witnesses at trial.

Fierle, 53, is charged with aggravated abuse and neglect of an older or disabled adult in the case of Steven Stryker, 75, whose death sparked a statewide scandal in the guardianship system from Florida.

Fierle, who pleaded not guilty, denied any wrongdoing in the past.

Authorities say Fierle signed a ‘do not resuscitate’ order on Stryker’s behalf against his will and ordered medical staff at a Tampa hospital to plug his feeding tube so he could be discharged to a hospital. assisted living center, despite warnings that he could choke and die.

Stryker aspirated and died five days after the tube was plugged.

A Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation found that Fierle left St. Joseph personnel unable to take lifesaving action due to the DNR order. Jurors, however, did not hear about the order after a judge ruled to exclude him from the trial.

Before prosecutors rested, Circuit Judge Samantha Ward heard arguments from Fierle’s lawyers about why she should be acquitted. Defense attorney Warren Lindsey says Fierle went to ‘herculean lengths’ to place Stryker in a facility, which was difficult because of his feeding tube and registration as a sex offender for lewd exhibition .

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“There was no indication that she intended to harm him,” Lindsey said. “…She was coping with a very difficult situation as best she could.”

Despite Stryker’s death certificate citing aspiration as the cause of death, no autopsy was performed on Stryker, Lindsey said. The attorney also said there was “no evidence” presented that Stryker had choked on food or liquid.

Prosecutors argued Fierle knew the plan to plug Stryker’s tube so he could move to an assisted living facility was a ‘failed plan’ because she had done it once before and Stryker immediately returned to the hospital.

Ward denied the judgment of acquittal.

Stryker’s death has led to multiple investigations into Fierle, who has resigned from his position as court-appointed caretaker for hundreds of disabled people in more than a dozen counties. She was accused of abusing DNRs, ignoring her wards’ wishes, double billing and having conflicts of interest.

Investigators and news outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel, uncovered widespread flaws in Florida’s guardianship system, prompting lawmakers to pass reforms in 2020. Under the law signed by the Governor Ron DeSantis, guardians must obtain court approval before signing DNRs on behalf of unfit clients.

mcordeiro@orlandosentinel.com

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Police transfer opposition leader Lee’s alleged corruption case to prosecution https://criminaljustice-online.com/police-transfer-opposition-leader-lees-alleged-corruption-case-to-prosecution/ Tue, 13 Sep 2022 04:50:49 +0000 https://criminaljustice-online.com/police-transfer-opposition-leader-lees-alleged-corruption-case-to-prosecution/ SUWON, South Korea, Sept. 13 (Yonhap) — Police have concluded their new investigation into third-party bribery allegations by opposition leader Lee Jae-myung over a corporate donation to a football club years ago and transferred the case to the prosecution with a notice of indictment on Tuesday. The Gyeonggi Nambu provincial police agency has re-examined allegations […]]]>

SUWON, South Korea, Sept. 13 (Yonhap) — Police have concluded their new investigation into third-party bribery allegations by opposition leader Lee Jae-myung over a corporate donation to a football club years ago and transferred the case to the prosecution with a notice of indictment on Tuesday.

The Gyeonggi Nambu provincial police agency has re-examined allegations that the city of Seongnam, just south of Seoul, attracted large corporate donations to a municipal soccer club in the mid-2010s, when the president of the main opposition party, the Democratic Party (DP), was to serve as his mayor.

The police agency reportedly told the prosecution that a third-party bribery charge can be brought against Lee in connection with donations totaling 5.5 billion won ($4 million) made between 2014 and 2016 by Doosan Engineering. & Construction Co. to the then-managed Seongnam FC. Spoken.

Lee is suspected of changing the city’s use for a 9,900 square meter section of land owned by Doosan in Bundang district from a hospital to a business in return for the company’s donation provided on behalf of the advertising expenses. Thanks to the rezoning, Doosan would have made huge profits, as the value of its Bundang property would have skyrocketed from 7 billion won to around 1 trillion won.

The police agency added that a Seongnam city government official and a former Doosan Engineering CEO surnamed Lee can also be charged with third-party bribery.

Seongnam City has also received large donations for Seongnam FC from five other entities, including internet portal giant Naver Corp. and Nonghyup Bank.

Following an initial investigation into the matter, however, the Bundang Police Station decided in September last year to exonerate Lee from third-party bribery charges involving the six donors and Seongnam FC due to what he called a lack of evidence.

But the prosecution asked the police to reconsider the case in February this year, and the Gyeonggi police agency carried it out. The law enforcement agency still cleared Lee of third-party corruption suspicions related to the five donors, excluding Doosan.

The latest police decision came after prosecutors indicted Lee last week over allegations he violated election law by making false statements about two land development projects in Seongnam during his presidential campaign this year. last.

Lee ran for president as the DP candidate, but was narrowly defeated by People Power Party candidate Yoon Suk-yeol. Lee was elected as the new DP chairman last month.

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