Sunday, July 31, 2022

States arm teachers as new school year approaches

A decade ago, it was extremely rare for everyday school employees to carry guns. Today, after a seemingly endless series of mass shootings, the strategy has become a leading solution promoted by Republicans and gun rights advocates, who say that allowing teachers, principals and superintendents to be armed gives schools a fighting chance in case of attack, according to The New York Times.

At least 29 states allow individuals other than police or security officials to carry guns on school grounds, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. As of 2018, the last year for which statistics were available, federal survey data estimated that 2.6 percent of public schools had armed faculty.

In Florida, more than 1,300 school staff members serve as armed guardians in 45 school districts, out of 74 in the state, according to state officials. The program was created after a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in 2018.

In Texas, at least 402 school districts — about a third in the state — participate in a program that allows designated people, including school staff members, to be armed, according to the Texas Association of School Boards. Another program, which requires more training, is used by a smaller number of districts. Participation in both is up since 2018.

And in the weeks after the Uvalde shooting, lawmakers in Ohio made it easier for teachers and other school employees to carry guns.

The strategy is fiercely opposed by Democrats, police groups, teachers’ unions and gun control advocates, who say that concealed carry programs in schools — far from solving the problem — will only create more risk. Past polling has shown that the vast majority of teachers do not want to be armed.

The law in Ohio has been especially contentious because it requires no more than 24 hours of training, along with eight hours of recertification annually.

“That, to us, is just outrageous,” said Michael Weinman, director of government affairs for the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, the state’s largest law enforcement organization. By comparison, police officers in the state undergo more than 700 hours of training. And school resource officers — police assigned to campuses — must complete an additional 40 hours.

Supporters say 24 hours is enough because while police training includes everything from traffic tickets to legal matters, school employees tightly focus on firearm proficiency and active shooter response. 

Studies on school employees carrying guns have been limited, and research so far has found little evidence that it is effective. There is also little evidence that school resource officers are broadly effective at preventing school shootings, which are statistically rare.

Yet arming school employees is finding appeal — slight majorities among parents and adults in recent polls.

Of the five deadliest school shootings on record, four — in Newtown, Conn., Uvalde, Texas, Parkland, Fla., and Santa Fe, Texas — have happened in the last 10 years.

It was this possibility that brought Mandi and seven other educators to a gun range tucked amid the hayfields and farm roads of Rittman, in northeast Ohio.

Over the course of three days, Mandi practiced shooting, tying a tourniquet and responding to fast-paced active shooter drills. Her presence on the range, firing her pistol under the blazing sun, cut a contrast to the classroom, where she dances to counting songs with 5-year-olds, dollops out shaving cream for sensory activities and wallpapers her classroom with student artwork.

That she was being trained at all spoke to the country’s painful failure to stop mass shootings, and to the heavy responsibilities piled onto teachers — catching students up from the pandemic, handling mental health crises in children, navigating conflicts over the teaching of race and gender and now, for some, defending their schools.

Mandi, in her 40s, arrived at the training with nervous anticipation. She had been a teacher for a dozen years and has children of her own. She wanted to be sure she could carry her gun safely around students. “I get hugs all day long,” she said.

And then there was the prospect of confronting an actual gunman. Could three days of training prepare her for the unthinkable?

The educators had come from Ohio and as far as Oklahoma for a 26-hour course by FASTER Saves Lives, a leading gun training program for school employees. It is run by the Buckeye Firearms Foundation, a Second Amendment organization that works alongside a major gun lobbying group in Ohio. The lobbying group, the Buckeye Firearms Association, supported the new state law for school employees.

Over the past decade, the foundation estimates it has spent more than $1 million training at least 2,600 educators.

Its approach aligns closely with an argument that has become a hallmark of the National Rifle Association and the gun lobby: “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

In this view, teachers are the ultimate “good guys.”

To read more CLICK HERE

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Mangino a guest on Court TV with Judge Ashleigh Willcott

 Watch my interview with Judge Ashleigh Willcott on Court TV.

To watch the interview CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE

Mangino a guest on Crime Stories with Nancy Grace

Listen to Crime Stories with Nancy Grace as I discuss the case of Texas serial killer William Reece.

To listen CLICK HERE

Friday, July 29, 2022

Alabama man executed despite pleas for mercy from victim's family

The 8th Execution of 2022

An Alabama inmate convicted of killing his former girlfriend decades ago was executed on July 28, 2022 despite pleas from the victim’s family to spare his life.

Joe Nathan James Jr. received a lethal injection at a south Alabama prison after the U.S. Supreme Court denied his request for a stay. 

James was convicted and sentenced to death in the 1994 shooting death of Faith Hall, 26, in Birmingham. Hall’s daughters have said they would rather James serve life in prison, but Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said Wednesday that she planned to let the execution proceed. 

Prosecutors said James briefly dated Hall and he became obsessed after she rejected him, stalking and harassing her for months before killing her. On Aug. 15, 1994, after Hall had been out shopping with a friend, James forced his way inside the friend’s apartment, pulled a gun from his waistband and shot Hall three times, according to court documents. 

A Jefferson County jury first convicted James of capital murder in 1996 and voted to recommend the death penalty, which a judge imposed. The conviction was overturned when a state appeals court ruled a judge had wrongly admitted some police reports into evidence. James was retried and again sentenced to death in 1999, when jurors rejected defense claims that he was under emotional duress at the time of the shooting.

The execution began a few minutes after 9 p.m. CDT following a nearly three-hour delay that the state did not immediately explain. James did not open his eyes or any show visible movements before the execution began. He did not move or speak when the warden asked if he had any final words. His breathing slowed until it was not visible and he was pronounced dead at 9:27 p.m.

Hall’s two daughters, who were 3 and 6 when their mother was killed, had said recently that they would rather James serve life in prison. The family members not attend the execution. 

 “Today is a tragic day for our family. We are having to relive the hurt that this caused us many years ago,” the statement issued through state Rep. Juandalynn Givan’s office read. Givan was a friend of Hall’s. 

“We hoped the state wouldn’t take a life simply because a life was taken and we have forgiven Mr. Joe Nathan James Jr. for his atrocities toward our family. … We pray that God allows us to find healing after today and that one day our criminal justice system will listen to the cries of families like ours even if it goes against what the state wishes,” the family’s statement read. 

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said she would not intervene. In a statement Thursday night, Ivey said she deeply considers the feelings of the victim’s family and loved ones, but “must always fulfill our responsibility to the law, to public safety and to justice.”

“Faith Hall, the victim of repetitive harassment, serious threats and ultimately, cold-blooded murder, was taken from this earth far too soon at the hands of Joe Nathan James, Jr. Now, after two convictions, a unanimous jury decision and nearly three decades on death row, Mr. James has been executed for capital murder, and justice has been served for Faith Hall.

She said the execution sends an,” unmistakable message was sent that Alabama stands with victims of domestic violence.” 

James acted as his own attorney in his bid to stop his execution, mailing handwritten lawsuits and appeal notices to the courts from death row. A lawyer filed the latest appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court on his behalf Wednesday. But the request for a stay was rejected about 30 minutes before the execution was set to begin. 

James asked justices for a stay, noting the opposition of Hall’s family and arguing that Alabama did not give inmates adequate notice of their right to select an alternate execution method. He also argued that Ivey’s refusal violates religious freedom laws because the Koran and the Bible “place the concept of forgiveness paramount in this situation.”

The state argued that James waited too late to begin trying to postpone his execution and “should not be rewarded for his transparent attempt to game the system.”

To read more CLICK HERE

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Five gun manufactures earned $1.7 billion on AR-15 style weapons

The five leading manufacturers of assault rifles in the United States have brought in a combined total of at least $1.7 billion in revenue from AR-15-style weapons over the past decade as gun violence across the country has surged, according to an investigative report the panel presented at a recent the hearing, reported The New York Times.

“I cannot even imagine what those innocent children had to go through,” Mr. Daniel said. But he avoided answering whether he felt any personal responsibility, saying, “These murders are local problems that have to be solved locally.”

The findings underscored how the gun industry has thrived by making and selling weapons of war, specifically targeting and playing to the insecurities of young men, while some have made thinly veiled references to white supremacist groups.

The committee opened its investigation of the gun manufacturing industry in May after the Uvalde massacre, which killed 19 elementary school students and two teachers, and a racist mass shooting in a Buffalo supermarket that killed 10 people.

The panel requested that the country’s top five gun manufacturers share information on their sales and marketing strategies, as well as any efforts they make to track safety data related to their products.

“The business practices of these gun manufacturers are deeply disturbing, exploitative and reckless,” Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York and the chairwoman of the committee, said in a statement. “We found that none of these companies bothers to keep track of the death and destruction caused by their products.”

The hearing came weeks after President Biden signed into law the first substantial gun safety bill in decades, the product of a bipartisan compromise that beefed up background checks for gun buyers under the age of 21. Yet more sweeping measures, such as a ban on assault weapons, have gone nowhere amid solid opposition by Republicans.

The House was expected to vote on such a ban in the coming weeks, but the bill has no chance of passage in the evenly divided Senate. The vote had originally been expected on Friday but was delayed as House Democrats haggled among themselves over whether to tie it to a broader public safety bill that would increase funding for the police, according to a person familiar with the plans.

To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

The gun industry’s modern marketing created mass shooters

Ryan Busse the author of Gunfight: My Battle Against the Industry That Radicalized America, writes in The Atlantic:

Americans are rightly anguished by gun violence and the question of what’s motivating the young men who have committed a succession of horrific mass murders. We seem to be fumbling around for answers: Is it racism and radicalization, or untreated mental illness, or toxic video games, or too-easy access to guns? All of these may be parts of the problem, but equally none of them makes complete sense outside of the larger context: The gun industry’s modern marketing effort did not just arm these shooters; in a very real sense, it created them.

This is something I know a bit about, as someone who spent a quarter century in the business. Over my years as a rising executive with a successful gun manufacturer, I became more and more disturbed by the sort of firearms the industry was selling, how it was selling them, and to whom. Next week, I am testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform at a hearing that, in the words of its chair, Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, “will examine the role of gun manufacturers in flooding our communities with weapons of war and fueling America’s gun violence crisis.”

When I got my first job in the gun industry, in 1995, the marketing centered on hunting, target shooting, and responsible self-defense. Many advertisements evoked a love of craftsmanship and the outdoors, and some, like this 1995 Ruger ad, even directly addressed its customers as “responsible citizens”—a tagline the company dropped from its advertising in 2007.

Companies such as the European American Armory, an importer of cheap, mostly Eastern European guns, that used cheesy ads—like this one from 2008—to sell imported guns were a rarity. Little did I realize that those tacky exceptions were the gun industry’s future.

Those ads, designed to appeal to young men who knew no better, were the starting point for marketing that would create a new customer base and change our country forever.

This transformation received its first boost in the mid-aughts when President George W. Bush allowed the assault-weapons ban to sunset and then signed a bill that gave broad protection from liability to gunmakers. Combined, those moves reduced the social stigma and potential legal penalties for edgy marketing of military-style rifles. Over time, larger, more mainstream gunmakers began to experiment with marketing messages previously relegated to the disfavored fringe of the business.

Young men were the target. They had disposable income, a long customer life, and a readily exploited fascination with guns. The push to access these new customers took off in 2010 when the AR-15 maker Bushmaster launched its “Man Card” advertising campaign.

The ads, which ran in several gun-industry publications, on websites, and in Maxim magazine, were controversial and gained national attention. More important, they showed the rest of the industry the power of an appeal based on masculinity to the 18–35 male demographic, at a time when images from America’s foreign wars were airing constantly on the evening news.

“The Bushmaster Man Card declares and confirms that you are a Man’s Man, the last of a dying breed, with all the rights and privileges duly afforded,” the ad copy read. If you’re hearing there, in “dying breed,” an anticipatory echo of the “Great Replacement” theory that inspired the alleged killer in May’s mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, you’re not mistaken: The conclusion that this type of marketing has contributed to creating today’s radical violent extremists is inescapable.

Another echo: One of the guns used by the Buffalo shooter was a Bushmaster XM-15. Of course, the great majority of people who own this rifle have never done anything illegal with it, but one other exception is notorious. On December 14, 2012, a troubled young man from Newtown, Connecticut, used an XM-15 rifle to kill 20 children and six staff at Sandy Hook Elementary. Bushmaster ended its “Man Card” campaign soon after the Sandy Hook massacre, but other gun manufacturers had taken notice of the company’s sales success.

Smith & Wesson was a more mainstream, traditional brand that chose to take a chance on marketing weapons nearly identical to those carried by soldiers and cops, which could legally be sold to the general public with minor modifications. Hence the name of its M&P15, essentially the same rifle it supplied to its military and police customers. With behind-the-scenes urging by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the main industry trade association, Smith & Wesson added Sport to its branding of the rifle—relying on the social acceptability of hunting and target practice to launder the lethality of the gun.

To read more CLICK HERE

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Fines, fees used to fund criminal justice too take a toll on poor

While the nation’s imprisoned population has declined since peaking in 2009, incarceration levels still remain extraordinarily high, reports the USA Today.

Continued efforts to lower incarceration rates will stall unless we address the role that revenue plays in the daily operation of police departments, courts, jails and prisons across the country. So much of these entities’ time and effort goes into generating revenue that the goals of pursuing justice and improving public safety often get pushed to the side.

A new Brennan Center for Justice report delves into the interlocking economic incentives that underpin our justice system. Many of these practices rely on a simple calculus: More people in the justice system means more dollars for agencies, governments and contracted for-profit firms

Some of the revenue streams flow straight out of the pockets of the people who are ticketed, searched, arrested, jailed, tried and sent to jail or prison, while others arise from a growing trade in bed space at correctional and detention facilities.

Michael Brown brought attention to Ferguson, Missouri

A 2020 study found that when a municipality increased the percentage of its revenue coming from law enforcement fines, fees and forfeitures, that rise was associated with statistically significant decreases in clearance rates (the ratio of arrests to reported crimes) for both violent and property crimes.

That is an unacceptable trade-off. It’s time for the government agencies involved in the criminal justice system at all levels to examine the revenue-generating parts of their work and its true costs, alongside the budget holes they are meant to fill.

In the face of shrinking state or federal monetary aideroded property and sales tax bases, and public distaste for tax increases, the pressure to bring in revenue has been intense, to put it mildly. Even so, every program, every policy that now privileges revenue over safety and justice can be realigned. The solutions to these problems exist. They just need people of courage to apply them.

The killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, drew national attention to user-funded justice – the city had pushed the police department and the courts to maximize funding potential of fines and fees. 

In fiscal years 2010 and 2011, about 12% of Ferguson's general fund revenue came from fines and fees. By fiscal year 2015, the city was budgeting for 23% of its revenues to come from fines and fees.

Civil asset forfeiture no longer hits just drug kingpins

Civil asset forfeiture, too, has metastasized into a major revenue source, going well beyond its onetime purpose of targeting drug kingpins. Law enforcement agencies seize and retain peoples’ cash, vehicleshomes and other items on a suspicion of their connection to an offense without having to prove the connection.

Take Minnesota’s Metro Gang Strike Force. An investigation revealed that its members were stopping and searching people who were clearly not involved in gang activity, and then taking or buying seized items for personal use – like televisions, tools, appliances and jet skis.

Law enforcement agencies have also been earning revenue from bed space. Some counties offer open beds in local jails to state or federal authorities whose own facilities are overcrowded, such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Marshals. Counties can arrange for the federal government to pay them to maintain a “guaranteed minimum” number of beds in their facilities. Some expand their facilities or build new ones to serve this market. Or they can act as intermediaries between federal agencies and for-profit firms, agreeing to house federal detainees and then subcontracting with a company that puts those people in their facilities. 

Rebalance the scales of justice   

While it is easy to agree that governments should not be extracting money from the most vulnerable, nor that agencies be rewarded for securing overly harsh punishments, the primary challenge to reform is that these financial motivations – and their budgetary effects – have become persistent and self-reinforcing. Nevertheless, we can rebalance the scales of justice, and we must. 

For example, policymakers can push back against the growing market in bed space and take steps to reduce correctional and detention populations safely. At the same time, where housing deficits still exist, negotiations and contracting should be subjected to increased transparency and accountability.

Lawmakers can also choose to eliminate civil asset forfeiture. Alternatively, states can redirect forfeiture proceeds away from law enforcement.

Legislatures can eliminate all fees, with outstanding debts automatically forgiven.

To realign our priorities, Congress, state legislatures, local governments and law enforcement agencies must work together to diminish the lure of existing financial incentives for agencies and municipalities that are often stretched too thin. The justice system should be funded equitably by taxpayers, all of whom are served by it – not primarily by the community’s poorest, most marginalized members.

To read more CLICK HERE

Monday, July 25, 2022

Mangino appears on Law and Crime Network

Watch my appearances on Law and Crime Network discussing the Kevin Eastman trial and the Nikolas Cruz death penalty trial.

To see the interview CLICK HERE

To see the interview CLICK HERE 

To see the interview CLICK HERE

The enormous health care costs of non-fatal firearm injuries

On one level, it's almost impossible to put a dollar figure on lives shattered by gun violence or to try to measure the pain of having a loved one killed or seriously injured, reports NPR.

But researchers of two new studies using federal health care and hospital data underscore that the repercussions from firearm deaths and injuries are deeper, wider and far costlier than previously known.

In a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Dr. Zirui Song and colleagues found a four-fold increase in health care spending as a direct result of a non-fatal firearm injury.

Dr. Song, an Associate Professor of Health Care Policy and Medicine at Harvard Medical School, also charts a substantial increase in other health disorders that undermine a person's health and well-being.

"In the first year after a non-fatal firearm injury, survivors experienced a 40% increase in physical pain or other forms of pain syndromes; a 50% increase in psychiatric disorders; and an 85% increase in substance use disorders," Dr. Song says, while on break from his rounds at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he practices internal medicine. He adds more research is needed as to exactly why those addiction numbers and other disorders go up so dramatically.

And those effects aren't just on those injured by bullets. The study shows family members of survivors, too, can carry massive physical and mental burdens.

"Family members on average, including parents, siblings and children, experienced a 12% increase in psychiatric disorders," he says.

The study is based largely on health care claims data, not hospital survey or discharge data. Dr. Song says that allows for a more detailed look at spending than previous studies based on other types of data. 

"There is really an undercurrent of forgotten survivors whose own health and economic conditions are affected quite profoundly, even though they were lucky enough to survive," he tells NPR.

And the financial burden for this fallout is mostly landing on the shoulders of taxpayers and employees: Dr. Song's study shows 96% of the increase in health care spending on firearm injuries is shouldered by Medicare and U.S. employers.

"In direct costs alone, it's $2.5 billion in health care spending in the first year after non-fatal firearm injuries," he says. "This number is much larger if you include indirect costs of lost wages or productivity." 

A study out this week by Everytown for Gun Safety delves into that larger picture and looks at a wide range of direct and indirect costs from all gun violence in America, fatal as well as gun injuries.

"This epidemic is costing our nation $557 billion annually," says Sarah Burd-Sharps, research director at the gun control advocacy group. "Looking at the economic consequence offers a wider lens for understanding just how extensive — and expensive — this crisis is."

The $557 billion figure seems astonishing. But the group says it looks at myriad direct costs associated with gun violence. Researcher Burd-Sharps notes the figures include immediate costs of a shooting, such as the police response, investigations and ambulance services all the way to the long-term health care costs. The analysis also includes estimates for a victims' lost earnings, costs incurred by the criminal justice system, the price of mental health care and more.

"Whenever you're costing these kind of injuries, you have to take into consideration that quality of life amount, which is admittedly quite large," she says.

In fact, Burd-Sharps believes the true annual figure is even higher than the estimate in the report that society loses some $1.34 billion every day for pain and suffering related to all victims of gun violence.

"This is honestly a very conservative estimate," she says. "It covers directly measurable costs. It doesn't cover things like the trauma of children who don't want to return their school. The impact on businesses or on property, you know, values and taxes. It doesn't cover any of those wider reverberations." 

Burd-Sharps is scheduled to testify before two Congressional committees this week on the economic impact of gun violence.

She says she'll tell lawmakers the group is grateful for their recent federal actions on guns, which included incentives for states to pass "red flag'' laws, which temporarily remove a weapon from a person deemed dangerous, and expanded background checks for those between of the ages of 18 and 21 who wish to buy a gun.

But Burd-Sharps says she'll also tell the Congress members that "much more is needed to fight this epidemic."

To read more CLICK HERE

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Mangino on WFMJ-TV21 Weekend Today

Watch my interview on WFMJ-TV21 Weekend Today discussing the most recent Jan. 6 Committee hearing.

To watch the interview CLICK HERE scroll over to "Local Attorney"

Seditious conspiracy is two or more people agreeing to “oppose by force” the government’s authority

Former assistant attorney general Harry Litman writes in the Los Angeles Times:

The criticism of the Department of Justice continues to grow: Detractors see the department as too far behind the Jan. 6 committee. They want to know why Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland and the Justice Department have yet to come forward with a serious criminal charge against Donald Trump.

These gloomy observations miss at least one crucial point: There is a gap in the committee’s development of the Jan. 6 evidence for the most serious yet fitting charge against Trump. And it seems likely that only the Justice Department can fill it.

First, remember that the Justice Department may be much further along than we know; its work initially is always largely opaque. And the department has also had its hands full dealing with hundreds of on-the-ground rioters, as well as investigating false elector schemes and other possible crimes connected to the 2020 election and committed by figures in the former president’s inner circle.

It’s also important to bear in mind the fundamentally different tasks of the department and the committee. The House hearings aim to present a general narrative of Team Trump’s attempt to undo President Biden’s victory, along with the facts to back it up. The Justice Department, on the other hand, needs to develop a legal case consisting of admissible evidence proving criminal guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and if possible beyond Republican cavil as well.

What crime exactly? Here’s another important difference between the department’s task and Congress’. The committee’s work has given rise to a sort of parlor game of “name that Trump crime” among commentators, everything from manslaughter to destruction of federal property. That won’t cut it for the Justice Department.

Even assuming that the department could prove any number of offenses on the part of Trump, Garland would not take the unprecedented step of prosecuting a former president unless the charge involved a grave crime against the U.S. Most likely, that charge would be seditious conspiracy. It’s the most serious of any leveled so far against those involved in the insurrection attempt, and for most Americans, it captures the fundamental evil that Trump has wrought.

In the federal criminal code, seditious conspiracy is defined, in part, as two or more people agreeing to “oppose by force” the government’s authority or agreeing “by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States.” It doesn’t matter if they succeed; the crime is in the agreement.

Since Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony in the June 28 hearing, Trump has looked to be a moving force, if not the moving force, in the deadly melee at the U.S. Capitol. Before we heard Hutchinson‘s descriptions of the president’s words and deeds leading up to the riots, we might have concluded that the source of the violence was confined to mob spontaneity and the machinations of domestic terrorists and militia leaders.

But no more. And yet, although with Hutchinson’s account, and that of other witnesses, the committee has presented ample, even voluminous, evidence of Trump’s role in the events of Jan. 6, to date it has produced only circumstantial evidence of the all-important element of an agreement between Trump and a co-conspirator.

The “will be wild” Trump tweet inviting his followers to Washington; Stephen K. Bannon’s declaration that “all hell” would “break loose” on Jan. 6; and Rudolph W. Giuliani’s statement to Hutchinson on Jan. 2 that Jan. 6 would be wild, seconded by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, all speak to the likelihood but not the certainty that Trump conspired with one or more persons to “prevent, hinder or delay” Congress’ certification of the election.

It’s theoretically possible to prove a case of seditious conspiracy based on circumstantial evidence, but we can be sure that won’t be enough for the prosecution of a former president. Absent a major new revelation from the committee, we must rely on the Justice Department to supply the critical agreement element.

The traditional, and most effective, way for prosecutors to nail a charge against someone like Trump would be to leverage the cooperation of an alleged co-conspirator — in this case, a Giuliani, Bannon or Meadows, perhaps — with a promise of immunity. The department has that kind of power; a congressional committee does not.

Within its brief, the Jan. 6 House Select Committee has done a splendid job. It has given the country a fighting chance at having an official chronicle of the many schemes that together make up Trump’s sinister undertakings between the 2020 election and its certification in Congress.

But it will take more than a simple handoff of the committee’s findings to the Justice Department to set up a successful prosecution of Trump and his cronies.

The Justice Department’s critics are wrong to conclude that Garland’s work has been done for him in Congress, much less to upbraid him for not having already brought charges against the former president. Garland deserves the presumption that, as promised, he is going after insurrectionists “at all levels,” and that the department will do the heavy lifting to induce a loyalist to turn on the former president.

Unless and until Garland succeeds, Trump, by virtue of the committee’s outstanding work, may stand guilty in the public’s mind and in the judgment of history, but there’s no holding him criminally accountable in a court of law.

To read more CLICK HERE


Saturday, July 23, 2022

Mangino Appears on Law and Crime Daily

Watch my interview on Law and Crime Daily with Brian Buckmire and Terri Austin talking about Amber Heard's appeal, Thomas Lane's sentence and Nikolas Cruz's death penalty trial.


Mangino a guest on Law and Crime Network's Sidebar

 Listen to my interview on the Law and Crime Network podcast Sidebar with Jesse Weber discussing the arrest of Rapper Kodak Black.

To listen CLICK HERE 

Friday, July 22, 2022

Mangino talks law and order on Court TV

I joined Michael Ayala on Court TV to talk about Nikolas Cruz's death penalty trial and other leading cases of the day.


Thursday, July 21, 2022

Panel calls for ending data dumps without a search warrant

A new law is needed to stop state, local and federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies from surveilling wide swathes of the U.S. population without a warrant, said panelists during a recent federal hearing, according to Government Technology.

The Fourth Amendment’s privacy protections require law enforcement to obtain a warrant before searching individuals’ personal records — and this definition should include their digital footprints, said Brett Tolman, executive director of Right on Crime, a group that advocates for “conservative criminal justice solutions.” Such requirements ought to prevent law enforcement from gathering extensive data collections on broad populations without first establishing probable cause, he said.

But agencies repeatedly skip getting permission to collect data themselves and instead purchase it from data brokers — essentially, a loophole, said panelist Bob Goodlatte, senior policy adviser for the nonpartisan advocacy group Project for Privacy and Surveillance Accountability.

“Agencies ranging from the Defense Intelligence Agency to the IRS to, likely, the FBI and CIA as well, are buying the personal data of millions of Americans they would otherwise have to get a warrant to obtain,” said Goodlatte.

Brokers sell vast data compilations that may include details like job histories, home addresses, voting records and more, and data broker LexisNexis alone contracts with more than 1,300 state and local law enforcement agencies, said Sarah Lamdan, law professor at The City University of New York School of Law.

Such practices can open the door to privacy invasions and wrongful arrests.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) summarized calls to ban law enforcement from making such purchases:

“This is essentially the meta technological equivalent of saying that, if the government can't enter your home without a search warrant, they can't pay somebody who breaks into your home or otherwise gains access through some kind of duplicity [like] saying that they're a carpenter.”


Panelists and House representatives from both parties said that government purchasing collections and analyses of resident data without first establishing probable cause is unjustifiably invasive and enables governments to subject particular demographic groups and political parties for oversurveillance and arrest.

“It invites abuse, in particular, the targeting of people or groups based on race, religion or political activity,” said Elizabeth Goitein, senior director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program.

The discussion took place against the backdrop of the Dobbs decision, which has sparked fears that states criminalizing abortion might seek out anyone considering the procedure by collecting data from residents’ web searches, period apps and cellphone geolocation information. And warrantless data tracking and collection can affect people across all ideological and political divides, Goodlatte said, noting government could just as readily monitor people visiting gun stores.

Police data purchases raise concerns in the courtroom, too, according to Rebecca Wexler, an assistant professor of law and co-director of the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology. Current practices can tip the scales against criminal justice defendants. That’s in part because law enforcement and defense often get less insight into any potentially game-changing flaws and biases in third-party gathered data, causing them to miss context that could invalidate evidence.


Many panelists recommended passing a federal privacy law restricting how and when private firms collect all this personal data in the first place. But that’s a larger task, and legislators should also push a quicker, targeted fix: passing the Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act, panelists said. That measure would compel government to follow the spirit of existing rules, closing loopholes and updating policies to better reflect modern realities.

The act would bar law enforcement and intelligence agencies from buying customer and subscriber records or information collected illegally. And if agencies nonetheless violate this rule, they’d be forbidden to use that information as evidence in court or other proceedings.

The act also limits government’s ability to force companies to hand over such data. It says that if governments would - under current law - need a court order to get certain records from an electronic communications or remote computing services provider, then they’d also need a court order to get such records from a third party. That means officers who fail to get a judge’s approval to compel a telecom to share records could not just turn around and force that information out of a data broker the telecom sold the records to — unless officers first get a judge’s go-ahead.

“The government cannot obtain records from companies like Facebook and Google without a court order. Why should data brokers be treated any differently?” Goodlatte said.


Goodlatte said there’s nothing necessarily wrong with agencies gathering personal data on suspects, so long as they follow the rules and show probable cause first. The process of seeking a warrant forces agencies to justify why they want the data, which helps catch situations in which unconscious or conscious prejudices — not genuine need — drive the quest for data on a particular group, Goitein said.

Speakers like Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) also worried about the kind of data government can get through warrants. He cited a 2019 incident in which Gainesville, Fla., police used a warrant to make Google share data about all devices near the site of a break-in. This led them to wrongfully suspect a resident, because Google had tracked his phone passing by the house on his regular biking route.


Criminal defense attorneys have the right to see evidence the other side has collected that could exculpate the defendant. For example, defendants ought to know if quality control errors make the data unreliable and if the software used to collect the data is skewed by bias or other issues, Wexler said. Government also generally cannot present illegally obtained evidence, and Wexler said defendants should learn if data was gathered “in violation of a privacy statue, or through breach of contract or through unlawful hacking,” she said.

But police buying information from data brokers are unlikely to know its limits or how it was gathered.

“When law enforcement purchases data from intermediaries, or uses private biometric databases, or licenses surveillance software from private companies, the officers can stay ignorant of flaws in the data,” Wexler said.

Defendants cannot discover such context through cross-examining police, if officers simply don’t know anything about their data brokers’ practices. Another hurdle: Firms are unlikely to voluntarily share information about their product, and defendants have limited abilities to compel them to through subpoenas, Wexler said. Some surveillance technology vendors also only sell to law enforcement, which blocks criminal defense from purchasing copies of the tools to test them for accuracy.

Evening out the playing field between prosecution and defense could require policies strengthening criminal defense’s subpoena powers, Wexler said.


Laws crafted in the technological climate of the 1970s state that residents cannot expect to keep information private if they share it “voluntarily” — such as personal details shared with a bank when opening an account. But panelists say the interpretation of “voluntary” needs updating to match today’s realities.

Many personal data collected on people isn’t something they’re really giving up voluntarily, in an age when fully participating in society requires driving on roads with license plate readers and using cellphones that tightly track users, Lamdan said.

Plus, users of app and other digital services may not be able to give truly informed consent about data sharing. Company policies can be misleading, and customers who knowingly share information with a particular company have no control over whether and to whom that company then resells the data, Goitein said.

Users are also often told their data is “anonymous,” but this veil of privacy can easily be broken when data brokers purchase the records and combine them with other details, said Lamdan. And even customers who try to opt out cannot escape companies creating profiles on them through information gleaned from friends, families and associates’ online activities.

The Supreme Court appeared to give a nod to some of these concerns in a 2018 ruling that said police need warrants to seize certain cellphone records that reveal their locations. The court felt phone owners ought to trust that their personal movements are private and that they weren’t actively choosing to share this data.

To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Philadelphia on pace to surpass 2021 record homicide total

Philadelphia has reached a grim milestone, and could surpass the homicide toll of 2021 if things continue, reported WHYY-FM.

The city’s 300th homicide victim is an 18-year-old shot in West Philadelphia. Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner admitted seeing the death toll hit 300 was “frustrating.”

“It is traumatic, not just for those directly affected, but for everybody who lives in the city, everybody who is indirectly affected,” he said. “We are all locally suffering through what is savage, heartbreaking, tragic. I mean, the fact that there are so many young people involved, and involved on both ends of the gun, is particularly heartbreaking.”

Krasner admits city residents are upset with the climbing homicide rate, which could exceed last year’s grim record of 562 killings.

“I do understand why people who are frightened and people who are concerned about their public safety rightly are frustrated with city leaders. But having said that, I don’t think it’s fair to say that our police commissioner is doing nothing. I think our police commissioner is doing a lot, and I think our police commissioner is doing a lot with our office after she came up with some ideas and we came up with some ideas, and we will continue to do that.”

At this time last year, the homicide number was at 304 killings. This year’s death rate is just 1% below 2021’s record setting pace.

Krasner said a good sign is that money is being spent on forensics, with $5 million in additional funding added in the most recent city budget. But that money is only a start. He said the city needs closer to $50 million to update labs and other tools forensic scientists need to solve hundreds of murders.

To read more CLICK HERE


Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Amazon gave police doorbell video footage without owners’ permission

Amazon handed Ring video doorbell footage to police without owners’ permission at least 11 times so far this year — a figure that highlights the unfettered access the company is giving police to doorsteps across the country, reported Politico.

The revelation came in a letter Amazon sent to Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) on July 1 after the lawmaker questioned the video doorbell’s surveillance practices in June. Markey released the letter to the public on Wednesday.

Ring, which Amazon bought in 2018, has repeatedly said that police can’t view recordings unless clips are posted publicly or shared directly with police, though that doesn’t apply to police subpoenas and emergency requests. While the company’s policy has said this information can be shared without a user’s consent, this letter is the first time the company has confirmed that it has handed over this information.

It’s a data point that is likely to only heighten Congressional scrutiny of the tech giant, which lawmakers have already upbraided over its privacy practices, after its facial recognition service Rekognition falsely associated 28 members of Congress with criminal mugshots in 2018 and how its Echo Dot Kids Edition protected children’s privacy.

The company is also facing antitrust concerns over its dominance across online retail, and its treatment of the third-party sellers that use its platform.

Ring doorbells, in particular, raise privacy concerns because of their popularity, Amazon’s agreements with police, and Amazon’s growing technological capabilities. In 2020, Ring responded to a letter from five senators and revealed that four employees improperly accessed Ring video data.

Amazon currently has agreements to let 2,161 police departments across the country use an app called Neighbors where users post Ring camera footage and leave comments. Police can use the app to send alerts and request videos.

Amazon said in the letter it shares footage with police without a warrant under emergency circumstances involving imminent danger of death or serious physical harm. The company said it decides whether the requests meet its standards of an emergency.

“It’s simply untrue that Ring gives anyone unfettered access to customer data or video,” Ring said in a statement following this article’s publication, stressing that it provides police with this access when it believes there is “danger of death or serious physical injury to any person, such as a kidnapping or an attempted murder.”

Ring spokesperson Brendan Daley also said that the company also doesn’t require consent when it shares footage to police with warrants, though it does notify the owners.

Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president of public policy, wrote in the letter to Markey that each of the 11 times it shared video without the consent of the device’s owner, it was because “Ring made a good-faith determination that there was an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to a person requiring disclosure of information without delay.”

Amazon didn’t provide any details about when or where these 11 incidents took place.

To read more CLICK HERE

Monday, July 18, 2022

Prison population in Virginia has declined dramatically in the last decade

In the last decade, the prison population in Virginia has declined about 10 percent. That's according to numbers from the U.S. Department of Justice, reported WTVP-FM.

Sean Weneta at the ACLU says a number of factors are at work behind that decline.

"Crime has been on the decline, and fewer people are getting arrested. We've also seen some prosecutors being more willing to divert people to community interventions.”

In the same time that Virginia's prison population declined 10 percent, the national average was a 25 percent decline. So Virginia is well behind states that are leading the trend, like Connecticut, New Jersey, California and New York. The prison population in those states declined 30 percent or more.

Brad Haywood at Justice Forward Virginia says that's because of Virginia's longtime resistance to criminal-justice reform.

"When other states were focused on getting rid of mandatory minimums and making sentences less reflexively retributive, Virginia was doing the exact opposite. We've added mandatory minimums. We've made it easier to overcharge people, and made it easier for courts and prosecutors to recommend extreme sentences."

The numbers from the Justice Department end in 2020, so they do not reflect criminal justice reforms Democrats were able to pass when they were in power. Add to that efforts to reduce the prison population during the pandemic, and that could mean an even steeper decline in Virginia’s incarceration rates in the future.

To read more CLICK HERE

Sunday, July 17, 2022

New algorithm can predict unfair criminal sentences

A new set of algorithms, created by members of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), Idaho Justice Project and the University of Pennsylvania, aims to assess the likelihood of defendants being mistreated in court, reports Government Technology, according to The Crime Report. The tool considers details that ought to be immaterial to the ruling — such as the judge’s and defendant’s gender and race — and then predicts how likely the judge is to award an unusually long sentence.

The predictions can suggest when socio-demographic details may sway judgments, resulting in especially punitive treatments. The algorithms’ designers say it’s the first to consider a defendant’s perspective. In a recent report, the group also suggested that potentially wronged defendants could use the second algorithm — the one assessing the likelihood that bias played a role — to argue for reducing sentences that may have been unfair. However, like other predictive algorithms, the tool draws on historical data, which could limit how accurately it can reflect today’s landscape.

Go read more CLICK HERE

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Felony murder could mean life in prison

Felony murder is on the books in a number of states. It is an arcane legal concept that broadens the crime of murder to include those who set into motion a series of events that lead to a person’s death, regardless of their intent. The legal doctrine can be traced back to Elizabethan England, but was abolished in the United Kingdom decades ago, and no longer exists in other common law countries.

Currently, there are 13 states that accept a proximate theory of felony murder – meaning that a person can be liable for a “foreseeable” death, even if the victim was killed by an outside party, such as a police officer, according to The Gothamist. For instance, New York and Pennsylvania share that distinction with states like Texas, Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

The legal framework has resulted in convictions widely seen as draconian. In 2004, a Florida teenager who lent his car to a group of friends who later murdered a woman was sentenced to life in prison. More recently, a pregnant woman in Alabama was charged in the death of her own fetus, after police said she started the fight that led to her being shot in the stomach.

In recent years, support for the doctrine has shown signs of weakening. It was deemed “barbaric” by the Supreme Court of California, which scaled back its own law in 2019, following a similar decision in Massachusetts. Both Illinois and Colorado have since amended their felony murder laws as part of criminal justice reforms passed in the wake of George Floyd’s 2020 murder by a police officer.

That has left New York as one of four blue states – with New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – that still has the law on the books, according to Guyora Binder, a law professor at SUNY Buffalo and the author of the book Felony Murder.

“Most states have an agency rule that would prevent Jagger Freeman from being guilty for a friendly fire killing by a police officer,” Binder said. “New York has the most expansive version of the law.”

Research suggests the charge is wielded disproportionately against Black defendants. Of the 649 people convicted of felony murder in New York over the last two decades, 83% have been Black or Latino, according to data provided to Gothamist by the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services.

In New York City, the numbers are even more skewed: Since 2002, 92% of all defendants charged with felony murder in the five boroughs have been Black or Latino.

To read more CLICK HERE

Friday, July 15, 2022

Rep. Kelly staff member involved in 2020 false electors scheme

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania concluded an internal review into his office's potential involvement in the false elector scheme with few answers — finding only that staff members did not know about his former chief of staff's "reported actions," reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"To date, our current chief of staff has not found staff members to have prior knowledge of Mr. Stroia’s reported actions," Kelly's press secretary Matt Knoedler said, referencing Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson's claims that former Kelly chief of staff Matt Stroia had a call with Johnson's team on Jan. 6 about giving them false elector paperwork from Wisconsin and Michigan.

"Further, Mr. Kelly is unaware of Mr. Stroia’s reported actions. We have closed the internal review," Knoedler added. 

The conclusion of the three-week internal probe offered little information about Kelly's alleged involvement in passing false elector documents to Johnson's team in the hours before Congress was set to certify Joe Biden's 2020 election victory on Jan. 6, 2021.

Johnson's office told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Wednesday that Johnson chief of staff Sean Riley had a two-minute phone call with Stroia, who was Kelly's chief of staff at the time, at 11:58 a.m. on Jan. 6 "about how Kelly's office could get us the electors because they had it."

Kelly has repeatedly denied involvement in the effort.

When asked by the Journal Sentinel if the investigation found that Stroia had contact with Johnson's office, Knoedler responded: "I cannot speak to the actions of Mr. Stroia as reported."

To read more CLICK HERE

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Federal court rules First Amendment confirms right to film police

A federal appeals court based in Denver has agreed with six of the nation’s other 12 appeals courts that the First Amendment guarantee of free speech gives people the right to film police as they do their work in public, reported The Associated Press.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday in the case of a YouTube journalist and blogger who claimed that a suburban Denver officer blocked him from recording a 2019 traffic stop. Citing decisions from the other courts, the 10th Circuit said the right to record police was clearly established at the time and reinstated the lawsuit of the blogger, Abade Irizarry.

A lower court had said the right wasn't clearly established at the time, preventing the officer from being sued. U.S. government lawyers intervened in the appeal to support the public’s right to record police.

The court oversees four western and two midwestern states — Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah — as well as parts of Yellowstone National Park that lie in Idaho and Montana.

The ruling comes after Arizona’s Republican governor last week signed a law that went the opposite direction, making it illegal in Arizona to knowingly video police officers 8 feet (2.5 meters) or closer without an officer’s permission.

To read more CLICK HERE