Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Congressman Kelly's family business benefits by legislation he voted against

 A car dealership owned by family members of U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of Butler is the recipient of a nearly $315,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to install enough solar panels to power 25 homes, reported the Erie Times-News.

The grant program was funded by President Joe Biden's Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which Kelly, R-16th Dist., opposed because it was "loaded with bad policy and wasteful spending."

The allocation was listed in a USDA report of quarterly awards from its Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The grant is being used at a Mike Kelly Automotive Group dealership in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, which is located in Fayette County in the congressional district of fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-14th Dist.

The grant allows the dealership to install a 261.9-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system, which is projected to save the family-owned business an estimated $27,300 a year.

To read more CLICK HERE

Sunday, April 28, 2024

The first of Trump's much avoided criminal trials is finally underway in New York City

The former president refers to the four prosecutions he faces as “witch hunts” motivated by partisanship and part of a nefarious scheme to keep him from returning to the White House. opined the editorial board of The New York Times. Donald Trump has repeated this narrative even though the prosecutions have been brought by different prosecutors around the country, and even though different grand juries, each composed of a random selection of regular citizens in different states, handed up indictments that now total 88 felony charges against him.

In the weeks leading up to the start of this trial, Mr. Trump has argued, dishonestly, that the judge and the prosecutor have treated him unfairly, and that it will be impossible for him to get a fair trial in Manhattan because New Yorkers are biased against him. But the opening days of the trial, devoted to jury selection, have already demonstrated the great care and respect with which everyone involved in the trial, except for Mr. Trump, has treated the process. Joshua Steinglass, a member of the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, told potential jurors on Tuesday that the case “has nothing to do with personal politics.”

“We don’t suggest you need to have been living under a rock for the last eight years, or the last 30 years,” he said. “We don’t expect you not to have heard about this, or not to have discussed this case with friends. What we do need is for you to keep an open mind.”

Dozens of potential jurors took those instructions seriously and admitted they could not be impartial. One man was excused from service after telling the judge that it was “going to be hard for me to be impartial,” since many of his family members and friends were Republicans. Justice Juan Merchan, the judge overseeing the trial, excused him, as other potential jurors stepped up. So far, seven jurors have been seated. At least two potential jurors were dismissed by the judge because of social media posts.

If anything, Justice Merchan has exhibited an extra degree of tolerance for Mr. Trump’s strategy of systematically attacking the legitimacy of the courts and court officials through repeated verbal outbursts and countless legal motions and other attempts to delay his trials. In the New York case, Mr. Trump received a short extension last month when federal prosecutors found a tranche of documents that had not been turned over to the defense team. In the week before the start of the trial, he filed three emergency appeals in three days, as The Times reported, including a civil action against the judge, which were quickly rejected by an appeals court.

The fact that he was able to have each of these motions fully considered is evidence of the justice system operating as it should, with deliberation and due process. Especially in criminal prosecutions, courts take the legal rights of litigants very seriously, to ensure that defendants receive fair trials. An appeals court is still considering Mr. Trump’s request to throw out a gag order that prevents him from verbally attacking witnesses, prosecutors or the judge’s family, but it will not delay the trial before the ruling. (Mr. Trump is not prevented from publicly criticizing the judge.)

In the other criminal cases against him, Mr. Trump has also been able to take full advantage of every legal protection available to him as a defendant.

He appealed his federal prosecution related to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol on the grounds that he enjoys absolute immunity for actions he took as president. This argument has been rejected by every judge to consider it. Still, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal later this month, delaying the start of his trial in that case indefinitely, and possibly until after the election. While the Supreme Court weighs his immunity claim, the trial judge in the federal Jan. 6 case, Tanya Chutkan, put the proceedings on hold. In the other federal prosecution, on charges of illegally withholding highly classified national-security documents, Mr. Trump has had numerous favorable rulings from the judge handling that case.

The election-interference case out of Georgia was delayed by an extensive hearing on a possible conflict of interest for the lead prosecutor, Fani Willis, who had been in a romantic relationship with Nathan Wade, an outside prosecutor she hired to lead the case. After taking testimony from a series of witnesses, the judge decided Ms. Willis could remain on the case, but not with Mr. Wade. (Mr. Wade ultimately withdrew.) Mr. Trump appealed that decision, which the Georgia Court of Appeals is now considering.

The ability to file such appeals, successful or not, is essential to how the law functions in the United States. Despite having benefited from its protections, to Mr. Trump, the rule of law is nothing more than an obstacle to be overcome, an instrument of power to use at will.

Mr. Trump’s vision of an American legal system that protects his interests goes beyond his trial, of course, and extends in particular to the Justice Department. He has been explicit about his desire, if elected in November, to bring the Justice Department more fully under his control, to use it to protect his friends and, more important, punish his enemies. As president, Mr. Trump had an unparalleled record of abusing presidential pardons, and if he is re-elected, he appears likely to order the Justice Department to drop the criminal cases against him or to try to pardon himself for potential crimes. To Mr. Trump, independent prosecutors and Justice Department officials are precisely the problem. They will say no to him when he wants to do things that are illegal or unconstitutional, choosing to be faithful to the Constitution rather than to him. This Mr. Trump cannot abide.

Mr. Trump has said he intends to find a prosecutor to “go after” Mr. Biden and his family, suggesting that he intends to pursue prosecution with little regard to evidence or facts. According to The Washington Post, he also wants to investigate figures in his administration whom he perceives as being disloyal to him, including John Kelly, his former chief of staff; William Barr, his former attorney general; and Gen. Mark Milley, the former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (Mr. Trump has separately suggested General Milley should be executed for treason.)

As Mr. Kelly told The Post, “There is no question in my mind he is going to go after people that have turned on him.”

Mr. Trump has also repeatedly said that his prosecution is like no other. In fact, there are numerous examples of politicians, of both parties, who faced prosecution, and in some cases were convicted, during their candidacies. The former Texas governor Rick Perry, a Republican, ran for president in 2016 while under indictment for abuse of power. (Those charges were later dismissed.) Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat of New Jersey, was indicted on federal bribery charges, and may run for re-election as an independent.

The former president is singular in one respect: As much as he accuses others of warping the justice system, he is the one who consistently demeans and disparages the role of the courts and the exercise of due process. The leaders of the Republican Party, echoing the views of Mr. Trump’s fervent base of followers, have fallen in line behind him, indicating that they will continue to support his candidacy even if he is a convicted felon.

To read more CLICK HERE

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Trump criminal trial: Week two wrap up of porn star/hush money trial

 The second week of Donald Trump’s Manhattan criminal trial was dominated by four days of testimony by David Pecker, the former publisher of The National Enquirer, who detailed his efforts to safeguard Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, reported The New York Times.

Mr. Pecker, a longtime associate of the former president, talked at length about a “catch and kill” scheme that he said he had entered into with Mr. Trump and his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, during a 2015 meeting at Trump Tower. The publisher said he would purchase the rights to unsavory stories he had no intention of running.

His testimony also teed up the story of Stormy Daniels, a porn star who claims to have had sex with Mr. Trump in 2006 and received a hush-money payment in the days before the 2016 election, a deal at the center of the case.

Mr. Trump is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in an effort to conceal the payment. If convicted, he could face four years in prison. Mr. Trump has pleaded not guilty and denied that he had sex with Ms. Daniels.

The week also brought more accusations that Mr. Trump had violated a gag order prohibiting him from attacking witnesses, prosecutors and jurors. Justice Juan M. Merchan has not ruled on the prosecution’s request to hold Mr. Trump in contempt, and said he would hold another hearing next Thursday to address allegations of new violations.

Here’s what happened during the second week, and eighth day, of Mr. Trump’s trial:

Opening statements displayed dueling strategies.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers presented dueling portraits of Mr. Trump’s actions.

Prosecutors sketched a secret scheme to influence the 2016 election. They said Mr. Trump directed men in his inner circle to suppress negative stories about him and then agreed to cover up the payment to Ms. Daniels after taking the White House. 

A former tabloid titan opened the case.

Mr. Pecker testified that he was the “eyes and ears” of the Trump campaign, keeping a lookout for unflattering stories.

He detailed a deal with a former doorman of a Manhattan building managed by the Trump Organization who said that Mr. Trump had fathered a child out of wedlock. Despite the story being false, Mr. Pecker said the tabloid paid him $30,000 to prevent embarrassment.

Mr. Pecker also spoke about a deal with Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump, an allegation that he denies. Ms. McDougal was paid $150,000, but Mr. Pecker said he had no intention of publishing anything about the affair.

After two payouts, Mr. Pecker said he had been unwilling to buy a third story: Ms. Daniels’s account of a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump.

How the tabloid sausage was made.

During their cross-examination of Mr. Pecker, Mr. Trump’s lawyers set out to show that such deals were “standard operating procedure” in the tabloid business, and that only about half of all stories purchased made it to print.

One of the defendant’s lawyers, Emil Bove, pushed Mr. Pecker about the real purpose of the deal with Ms. McDougal, whether her top priority was money and whether the agreement had other benefits for her. Mr. Pecker conceded that dozens of articles were published under her name.

But Mr. Pecker later testified that the agreement’s real purpose had been to bury the story of the affair.

Trump continued to speak out.

Mr. Trump has been subdued compared with his appearances at civil trials in Manhattan, where he was known to mutter loudly and twice stormed out.

But occasionally his frustration was apparent. He once shook his head vigorously as Mr. Pecker testified.

When he left the courtroom, Trump lashed out at the case against him, veering into territory potentially prohibited by Justice Merchan’s gag order. 

Next week may offer more drama, if fewer days.

Friday ended with few fireworks. Mr. Trump’s former executive assistant, Rhona Graff, testified briefly, identifying entries from the Trump Organization’s computer system that contained contact information for Ms. McDougal and Ms. Daniels.

Prosecutors also called Gary Farro, a banker who helped Mr. Cohen open an account that he used for the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels. Mr. Farro’s testimony is expected to continue next week.

It is not clear who will testify after Mr. Farro, but the weeks ahead could include Mr. Cohen, Ms. Daniels and Hope Hicks, Mr. Trump’s former White House communications director.

Monday is an off day for the court, as is Wednesday. Mr. Trump will use the midweek break to campaign in Wisconsin and Michigan, two battleground states in this year’s election. He is the presumptive Republican nominee.

To read more CLICK HERE  

Friday, April 26, 2024

The 'weapons effect': The lethal combination of guns and aggressive driving

Road rage shootings are on the rise across the United States as drivers increasingly turn to firearms to vent their frustrations — with often tragic consequences,  reported The Trace.

Between 2014 and 2023, the number of people shot in road rage incidents surged more than 400 percent, from 92 to 481, according to a Trace analysis of data from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive. All told, angry drivers shot 3,095 people over that decade, or nearly one every day. One in four of those people — 777 — were killed.

Law enforcement agencies do not release statistics on road rage shootings as a specific category of crime. But GVA tracks incidents in which someone in a car fires at a driver or passenger in another vehicle or brandishes a gun in a threatening manner. The close of 2023 marked the collection of 10 full years of data, and although not all gun-related road rage incidents make the news or are reported to police, GVA provides the most comprehensive picture of gun violence on the nation’s roads and highways. 

Since 2014, gun-involved road rage incidents have more than doubled, and the number of victims killed or injured has increased more than fivefold, the data shows. When we looked specifically at shootings — incidents in which either a victim or suspect was shot — the increase is even more consistent. The number of road rage shootings tracked by GVA increased by an average of 23 percent each year over the past decade. 

Someone was shot in a road rage incident on average every 18 hours in 2023, up from once every four days in 2014.

These shootings are happening in almost every corner of the country. Many are prompted by collisions or motorists cutting each other off in traffic, while the motivations for others aren’t always clear. 

Studies have shown that the presence of a gun can impel some people to act more aggressively. 

“Although guns don’t directly cause violence, they dramatically increase the likelihood that any situation involving conflict will be lethal,” Brad Bushman, an Ohio State University communications professor who researches aggression and violence, told The Trace in 2022, when we first examined guns and road rage. “Imagine you’re in a car and somebody cuts you off. If there’s no gun in your car, maybe you flip them off. And if there’s a gun in your car, maybe you shoot them.”

Bushman and his team authored an oft-cited 2017 study that examined this phenomenon, dubbed the “weapons effect,” in drivers. The researchers assembled a group of drivers and placed either a black Airsoft gun or a tennis racket next to them in the passenger seat. They found that people sitting next to the replica gun were more likely to engage in aggressive driving behaviors like tailgating and speeding.

Bushman said there’s a body of research dating back more than 80 years showing that aggression is fueled by frustration. “Frustration means somebody blocks your goal,” Bushman said. “When you’re in a car, you have a definite goal — to get from point A to point B as fast as you can. Anything that interferes or blocks that goal can increase the likelihood that you’ll behave aggressively.”

To read more CLICK HERE

Thursday, April 25, 2024

SCOTUS readies for argument on Trump's immunity claim

The United States Supreme Court will hear Trump v U.S. arguments today. A high court ruling will determine whether former president Donald Trump is entitled to immunity from federal prosecution or if he can be tried on criminal charges for his conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.  

To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Mangino joins Julie Grant on Court TV

Watch my interview with Julie Grant on Court TV to discuss the case of Leilani Simon accused of murdering her son Quinton.

To watch the interview CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE

Creators: The Ethical Failings of Atticus Finch

Matthew T. Mangino
April 22, 2024

On Christmas day 1962, Universal Pictures released the film “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The movie was based on Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name. The film adaptation earned Gregory Peck an Academy Award.

The story takes place during the Depression in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama. The narrator’s father, Atticus Finch, a lawyer and state legislator, is appointed to represent Tom Robinson, a Black man accused of raping a white woman.

Many scholars have studied the implications of Lee’s work. “To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of the most-read literary works in American history with over 30 million copies sold. The book has been cited for its influence on the civil rights movement, and the character of Atticus Finch has been lauded as the model father, as well as possessing the integrity and temperament for which all lawyers should aspire.

However, at times, Atticus Finch did not display the “ethics” worthy of a trial lawyer or the “integrity” of an officer of the court.

In the courtroom, Finch was cross-examining the alleged rape victim Mayella Ewell. In the middle of questioning Mayella, Finch grabs an empty drinking glass from a table and tells the defendant Tom Robinson to stand up. He throws the glass to Tom who catches it with right hand. Tom tosses it back and Finch says, “Now catch it with your left hand.” Robinson, not yet sworn as a witness, answers, “I can’t use my left arm, Mr. Finch.” A crucial revelation for the defense.

This should have resulted in a mistrial – it didn’t because the all-white, all-male jury already knew the trial’s outcome, and so did the prosecution. Having the defendant offer testimony unsworn is certainly an ethical transgression, something no competent lawyer would do or even consider.

While we remember Finch as a heroic figure who stood up to racism and tried to save the life of a Black man in a racist Southern town, Finch tolerated racism and even made excuses for it.

More than a decade ago, Malcolm Gladwell wrote about Finch in the New Yorker. Gladwell laments that Atticus Finch lauded the “character” of racists in Maycomb.

Gladwell examined Finch’s thoughts about Walter Cunningham, a Maycomb man who attempted to lynch Tom Robinson, “Cunningham, Finch tells his daughter, is ‘basically a good man,’ who ‘just has his blind spots along with the rest of us.'”

Finally, after Robinson is convicted, and later killed while trying to escape, Robert Ewell, Mayella’s father, attacks Finch’s children while walking home one evening from a school function. Spoiler alert: Finch’s neighbor Boo Radley, a shy, introverted recluse rescues the children and carries Finch’s injured son home.

It turns out Ewell was dead. He had been stabbed with his own knife. Sheriff Heck Tate comes to Finch’s home, and although initially reluctant, Finch agrees with Sheriff Tate not to bring Boo Radley into the spotlight of an inquiry or trial. “Let the dead bury the dead” says the sheriff. He tells Finch, “Bob Ewell fell on his knife.” Finch is complicit in the cover-up of a homicide.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” examines a number of significant issues (race, gender, poverty, domestic violence, courage, and cowardice) through the lens of a rural Southern criminal justice system. The story also reveals the challenges that face all of us when trying to be consistent with our values and beliefs. Even a revered character like Atticus Finch struggled with right and wrong.

The book and the film are timeless classics. Every critical reading or viewing provides new insight into the layered characters and, more importantly, into the struggle to understand what Lee had in mind when she brought this drama to life nearly 65 years ago.

Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. His book “The Executioner’s Toll, 2010” was released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him at www.mattmangino.com

To read more CLICK HERE

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

What happens if Donald Trump is elected from prison?

According to The New York Times, “We’re so far removed from anything that’s ever happened,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, a constitutional law expert at the University of California, Berkeley. “It’s just guessing.”

Legally, Mr. Trump would remain eligible to be president even if he were imprisoned. The Constitution says nothing to the contrary. “I don’t think that the framers ever thought we were going to be in this situation,” Professor Levinson said.

In practice, the election of an incarcerated president would create a legal crisis that would almost certainly need to be resolved by the courts.

In theory, Mr. Trump could be stripped of his authority under the 25th Amendment, which provides a process to transfer authority to the vice president if the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” But that would require the vice president and a majority of the cabinet to declare Mr. Trump unable to fulfill his duties, a remote prospect given that these would be loyalists appointed by Mr. Trump himself.

More likely, Mr. Trump could sue to be released on the basis that his imprisonment was preventing him from fulfilling his constitutional obligations as president. Such a case would probably focus on the separation of powers, with Mr. Trump’s lawyers arguing that keeping a duly elected president in prison would be an infringement by the judicial branch on the operations of the executive branch.

On the federal charges only, he could also try to pardon himself — or to commute his sentence, leaving his conviction in place but ending his imprisonment. Either action would be an extraordinary assertion of presidential power, and the Supreme Court would be the final arbiter of whether a “self pardon” was constitutional.

Or President Biden, on his way out the door, could pardon Mr. Trump on the basis that “the people have spoken and I need to pardon him so he can govern,” Professor Chemerinsky said.

But that wouldn’t apply to the New York or Georgia cases, because the president does not have pardon power for state charges.

To read more CLICK HERE

Monday, April 22, 2024

Trump trial underway: First former president to be tried for a crime

 Prosecutors in the first criminal trial of an American president began laying out their case for a jury of 12 New Yorkers on Monday, saying Donald J. Trump engaged in a conspiracy to cover up a sex scandal in order to get elected president in 2016, reported The New York Times.

The first witness called was the tabloid publisher David Pecker, whom prosecutors described as one member of a three-man plot to conceal damaging stories — including a porn star’s account of a sexual tryst — as Mr. Trump mounted his bid for the presidency.

Mr. Pecker was on the stand for only a few minutes in the afternoon before court adjourned for the day. He described how his publication, The National Enquirer, paid for stories, a practice he called “checkbook journalism.” He is expected to return to the stand on Tuesday.

Matthew Colangelo, one of the prosecutors for the Manhattan district attorney’s office, told the jury in his opening statement that the case was about “a criminal conspiracy and a coverup,” describing how Mr. Trump, his longtime counsel Michael D. Cohen, and Mr. Pecker engaged in a strategy to “catch and kill” negative stories.

The lead lawyer for Mr. Trump, Todd Blanche, insisted in his opening statement that the former president had done nothing wrong. “President Trump is innocent,” he told the jury. “President Trump did not commit any crimes.”

To read more CLICK HERE

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Murders, rapes and robberies down in NYC--random assaults on the rise

Just before noon last Saturday, a 9-year-old girl was with her mother at Grand Central Terminal when a man strode up to the child and, without warning, punched her in the face, according to the police, reported The New York Times.

The child, dizzy and in pain, was taken to the hospital. Jean Carlos Zarzuela, 30, a man who had been staying in a homeless shelter in East Harlem, was quickly arrested and charged with assault in the third degree, harassment and endangering the welfare of a child.

It was the second time in nine days that Mr. Zarzuela had randomly attacked someone at the terminal, the police said. On April 4, they said, he punched a 56-year-old woman in the face, causing her nose to bleed and her left eye to swell shut.

And it was among a number of recent assaults that have unnerved New Yorkers, who have seen a rash of attacks reported on the streets and on the subway.

Police leaders and Mayor Eric Adams have trumpeted sharp decreases in the number of murders, rapes, robberies and burglaries since 2022, when crime rates began to fall in the city following a surge of violence during the coronavirus pandemic. Most major crimes remain at a higher level than they were in 2019, but officials said the trend was a promising sign that the city is rebounding.

Still, assaults continue to vex police and city leaders. Felony assaults, a major crime category defined as an attack where a dangerous weapon is used or a serious injury results, are up in recent years. So are misdemeanor assaults, such as the one at Grand Central, in which a victim is punched, kicked or hit but no weapon is used.

In 2023, there were just under 28,000 felony assaults in New York City, an increase of about 1,650 from 2022. And the number is rising in 2024: The police reported 7,419 felony assaults through April 14, a slight increase from the same time last year. The number of misdemeanor assaults was up 7 percent through April 14 compared with last year.

“They’re almost impulsive acts,” said Kenneth Corey, former chief of the department. “Those are very, very difficult to police because of the very unpredictable nature of the action. It’s not the type of crime that the police can strategically deploy against.”

And it is their seeming randomness that unsettles New Yorkers, he said.

“Your chances of being a victim of a shooting in New York are very small,” Mr. Corey said. 

But the number of assaults in the city is far higher than the number of murders or shootings. And even in a city of more than 8 million people, the possibility of being suddenly attacked without provocation has also begun to feel too real, he said — regardless of statistics.

“That’s not perception. That’s their reality,” Mr. Corey said. “That things are not as safe as they used to be.”

What is an assault?

Under New York law, misdemeanor assault is fairly simple: It is defined as intentionally striking another person, causing injury.

But an assault rises to the level of a felony when a dangerous or deadly weapon is used or when the injury is so serious that a person was at a substantial risk of death, is disfigured, is expected to experience long-term health problems or hurts or loses an organ during the attack.

A person can also be charged with a felony for striking public employees such as police officers or paramedics, even if a weapon is not used. Criminal justice specialists noted that the number of felony assaults began to rise after the State Legislature began classifying more public employees as victims of felony assault if they were struck.

Like other crimes in the city, the number of felony assaults has fluctuated over the past 20 years, falling to its lowest level in 2008, when the city recorded 16,284 such assaults. Amid some minor fluctuations, the number of misdemeanor assaults fell from 57,304 in 2000 to 33,400 in 2020. But that figure increased by 32 percent to 44,151 last year.

Officials noted some promising signs on the subway system, where about 1,000 police officers recently began patrolling and 1,000 members of the National Guard and the State Police were deployed after a surge in crime. Felony and misdemeanor assaults on the transit system both fell last month and are about the same through April 14 compared with last year, according to transit bureau figures.

What is driving the numbers?

It is unknown how many assaults in the city are truly random, according to the police, who say it is difficult to track the number of unprovoked attacks because investigators often learn later that the victim knew the perpetrator.

The police classify felony assaults under several different categories including domestic violence, attacks on the police, attacks on people over 65 and shootings. The remainder of the victims fall under the category of “other.”

Domestic violence incidents made up more than 40 percent of the felony assaults in 2023, according to the police.

Assaults on the police made up a little more than 8 percent of felony assaults. Shooting victims made up about 4 percent of the cases, while the number of assaults on people more than 65 years old was up nearly 8 percent.

Assaults on public safety officials have risen as the number of arrests has also increased. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority saw a jump in the number of attacks on its police officers and workers — from 23 assaults in 2019 to 65 in 2023. The assaults often happened when officers were stopping people from evading fares, an M.T.A. spokesman said.

“The increase on assaults on police officers isn’t surprising,” Mr. Corey said. Suspects, especially those arrested in cases of violent crimes, “are going to fight when they’re arrested.”

The persistence of domestic violence incidents as a driver of felony assaults is another troubling trend, and one that often leads to tragedy, said Nathaniel M. Fields, chief executive of the Urban Resource Institute. He pointed to an annual report commissioned the city, which analyzed domestic violence deaths from 2010 to 2022. In that time period, there were 420 cases in which someone was killed by an intimate partner. In 39 percent of those cases, the police had documented a domestic incident before the death, according to the study.

Maureen Curtis, the vice president of the criminal justice program at Safe Horizon, said she believed that there was not the same sense of urgency around domestic violence as for crimes that are more visible or are more likely to make headlines.

“As a society, we still don’t value domestic violence the way we do the other crimes,” she said. “People still don’t see it impacting them.”

What can be done to reduce assaults?

On Monday, Mayor Adams announced a plan to help find permanent housing for domestic violence victims living in city shelters with their children.

The plan, part of a $43 million effort to push gender equity programs in the city that would concentrate on women of color and people in the L.G.B.T.Q. community, would start with 100 families, he said.

The city’s study found that Black women were more than twice as likely to be victims of domestic violence homicides as any other racial or ethnic group.

The mayor’s plan is a good start, Ms. Curtis said.

Lack of permanent housing often leads victims of domestic violence to return to abusive partners, she said. “We still need to find more affordable housing for the thousands of survivors in New York City,” she said.

Mr. Fields said higher salaries and better working conditions for social workers who help domestic violence victims were also necessary. In March, Mayor Adams announced an agreement with the city’s human services workers that will give them a 9 percent raise over the next three years.

Addressing the city’s growing struggle with those with mental health problems is also critical, according to law enforcement officials.

On Wednesday, Kaz Daughtry, the deputy commissioner of operations, said the department would be deploying a squad of police officers with degrees or experience in clinical psychology and social work to the subways to identify people in crisis and connect them with services.

In an opinion piece for The New York Times, Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, called on Gov. Kathy Hochul and the Legislature to “make good on their earlier support for significant investments in mental health care — especially for New Yorkers who have been struggling, posing potential dangers to themselves and others.”

It was a call echoed by the police during a briefing with reporters this past week, where Joseph Kenny, the chief of detectives, described a series of “unprovoked attacks” in the precincts covering southern Manhattan.

Many of the perpetrators were homeless, he said.

“The majority of them,” Chief Kenny said, “seem like they need some kind of help with mental illness.”

To read more CLICK HERE

Mangino provides legal analysis for WFMJ-TV21

 To watch the interview CLICK HERE

Friday, April 19, 2024

Mangino discusses Chad Daybell trial on Court TV

Watch my interview with Julie Grant on COURT TV discussing the Chad Daybell capital murder trial.

To watch the interview CLICK HERE and HERE and HERE

Thursday, April 18, 2024

The impeachment trial that wasn't--Senate dismisses first impeachment of a sitting Cabinet secretary

The U.S. Senate voted  to dismiss two articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, which allege he mismanaged an influx of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, reported the Washington Post. 

The impeachment trial came to a close a little more than three hours after it started, following a GOP senator’s move to quickly quash an offer for limited debate and the creation of an impeachment committee, marking a rapid close to the first impeachment of a sitting Cabinet secretary.

A spokesperson for Mayorkas released a statement highlighting the dismissal of the charges as further indication that “there was no evidence or Constitutional grounds to justify impeachment.”

Senators, voting 51 to 48 along party lines, found the first article charging Mayorkas with “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” to be unconstitutional. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) voted present.

Senators voted again along party lines — 51 to 49 — to find the second article charging Mayorkas with “breach of public trust” also to be unconstitutional. This time, Murkowski sided with her party. The trial came to a conclusion before the House impeachment managers could present their arguments.

After the trial ended, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) scolded his Democratic colleagues for setting a “very unfortunate precedent” by not following the directions of the House. “This is a day that’s not a proud day in the history of the Senate,” McConnell said to applause from other Republicans.

Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) retorted that Democrats were obligated to set a precedent that impeachment “never be used to settle policy disagreements.”

Shortly after opening the trial, Schumer offered Republicans a period of debate time and the opportunity to form a committee on the matter — a move that was sharply rejected by Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.). Schumer swiftly responded with a point of order to declare the first article unconstitutional, prompting the first of several procedural objections by Republicans that followed.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) called for a closed session. Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) motioned to adjourn the Senate until April 30. And McConnell called to reject the point of order made by Schumer. Each objection made by Republicans, who are in a relatively powerless position in the minority, failed.

Some senators appeared bored at their small desks as Republicans made one procedural point after another, forcing a series of unsuccessful votes to delay the trial and other matters. At times, Republicans attempted to deliver extended remarks on the Senate floor, blaming Mayorkas and Democrats for the record-breaking levels of migration at the southern U.S. border.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) repeatedly interceded as her GOP colleagues tried to make their points of order into political statements, interrupting Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) as he described the border crisis in a lengthy introduction to another failed procedural vote.

Two House impeachment managers, who watched the proceedings from the back row, filed out of the chamber before senators were done tossing out the second impeachment charge. Republicans argued that the body had set a precedent that the Senate can effectively ignore a House impeachment vote.

After indicating last week that he planned to vote with Democrats to dismiss the trial, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) ultimately voted with Republicans in what may have been the trial’s only minor surprise.

In a statement issued after the trial closed, Romney said that while he did not believe the charges against Mayorkas met the Constitution’s bar for impeachment, he “voted against the Schumer points of order because it was important to engage in some level of debate.”

“It was a mistake for Senate Democrats to set a new precedent of disposing of the Articles of Impeachment without any evaluation whatsoever,” Romney added.

Even the most politically vulnerable Democrats held the party line, voting unanimously to reject both charges and bring the trial to a close amid criticisms that House Republicans were abusing a constitutional tool to settle what amounted to policy differences.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), a vulnerable lawmaker up for reelection in a red state key to the GOP’s plan to win control of the upper chamber, ultimately voted with his party to dismiss the charges. But he called on the Biden administration to “do more to keep Montana and our country safe” in a post-trial statement.

“Montanans want real solutions that secure the border, not partisan games from D.C. politicians,” Tester said. “I agree with my Republican colleagues who have said this exercise is a distraction that fails to make our country safer.”

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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Trump's First of 4 Criminal Trials Gets Underway

Matthew T. Mangino
April 15, 2024

As you are reading this, Judge Juan M. Merchan's Manhattan courtroom should be bustling with activity as an unprecedented criminal trial gets underway.

For the first time in American history, a former president of the United States is sitting as a defendant in a criminal trial. Not to mention this defendant is currently leading in the polls to be elected president for a second time, in 2024.

The facts are straightforward. Donald Trump was running for president in 2016. As Election Day loomed, Trump sought to silence a former porn star, Stormy Daniels, from publicly revealing their affair.

An alleged scheme was hatched to have Trump's "fixer," attorney Michael Cohen, pay Daniels $130,000 in hush money and then be reimbursed through phantom legal fees.

As a result, Trump now faces 34 felony charges of falsifying records brought by Alvin Bragg, Manhattan's first Black district attorney. Falsifying records is actually a misdemeanor in New York, but Bragg has alleged the conduct is a felony when falsifying business records for the purpose of concealing or committing another crime.

The district attorney alleges Trump falsified the records to conceal the affair in order to win a national election.

Trump's trial, like all criminal trials before a jury, will begin with jury selection. The jury selection process, known as "voir dire," is crucial, especially in an extremely high-profile case where nearly every person in the pool of potential jurors has an opinion about the defendant.

Each of the potential jurors summoned to the Manhattan Courthouse will have completed a juror questionnaire. Those questionnaires will be closely scrutinized. Lawyers for both sides will know the jurors' names. They will know their education level, marital status, line of employment and their thoughts on police, investigators and the court system. The lawyers will also scour potential jurors' social media accounts, as well as their voter registration and voting histories.

The selection process will be a bit different in this case. With our polarized political process, voter registration will be a legitimate point of inquiry. Whether you voted in the last two presidential elections may be appropriate as well.

The requirement to sit as a juror in a given case is whether one can be fair and impartial. It doesn't matter if a potential juror has heard of the case, or the other criminal cases pending against Trump with the special federal prosecutor or the state of Georgia. The question is simply whether a potential juror can set aside what they read, heard or discussed with others and be fair and impartial.

According to The New York Times, it appears that the potential juror pool may not be favorable to Trump. Seventy percent of Manhattan's 1.1 million registered voters are Democrats. He lost overwhelmingly in his hometown in 2016 and 2020. Juries and judges in Manhattan have already found Trump liable for committing sexual abuse and defamation, to the tune of $83 million, and for fraudulently inflating his assets to obtain financing, making him liable for an additional $453 million.

Jury selection is expected to last one to two weeks. Starting Monday, prosecutors and lawyers for Trump will seek to reduce potentially hundreds of people to 12 jurors and six alternates.

Once a jury is empaneled, the sparks will begin to fly. The State of New York intends to call Cohen. He will testify that Trump directed him to make the payment to Daniels. She is also expected to be a key witness.

Trump's lawyers are likely to go after Cohen on the witness stand by, as NBC News suggested, "painting him as a liar who loathes the former president and whose testimony shouldn't be believed."

Daniels' former attorney Keith Davidson is likely to testify about his negotiations over the hush money payment. However, a more formidable witness for the prosecution may be former White House communications director Hope Hicks — who prosecutors have said was involved in phone calls between Trump and Cohen and may corroborate the testimony of Cohen.

The excitement over the trial may be tempered a bit by the fact that it will not be televised — New York law does not permit cameras in the courtroom.

Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. His book "The Executioner's Toll, 2010" was released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him at www.mattmangino.com and follow him on Twitter @MatthewTMangino.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Mangino talks with WFMJ-TV21 about Trump's first day of trial in Manhattan criminal court

Watch my interview with Lindsay McCoy on WFMJ-TV21 discussing what to expect as Donald Trump's porn star hush-money trial gets under way in Manhattan.

To watch the interview CLICK HERE

Monday, April 15, 2024

Mr. Trump Goes to Trial

 The first sitting or former President to be tried for a crime

Donald Trump arrived at a Manhattan court today for a historic criminal trial stemming from a hush-money payment to a porn star that could keep him in court for weeks and complicate his bid to win back the White House, according to Reuters.

Trump, 77, is the first former U.S. president to face a criminal trial. He is required to attend the trial in Manhattan, which could last through May. Jury selection is expected to take about a week, followed by witness testimony.

Police stood guard in front of the courthouse amid a maze of barricades ahead of the trial's 9:30 a.m. (1330 GMT) start, and helicopters shadowed the motorcade of black SUVs that ferried Trump from his Trump Tower apartment.

A handful of protesters, gathered in the plaza across the street, carried hand-painted signs reading “LOSER” and “convict Trump already.”

Though the case is regarded by some legal experts as the least consequential of the four criminal prosecutions he faces, it is the only one guaranteed to go to trial before the Nov. 5 election.

To read more CLICK HERE

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Mangino talks with Law and Crime Network about Diddy's problems

Watch  my detailed  interview with Sierra Gillespie on Law and Crime Network discussing the growing problems for Sean Diddy Combs.

To watch the interview CLICK  HERE

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Mangino discusses Delphi murders on "Who Killed . . . ?"

Listen to my interview with Bill Huffman on his "Who Killed . . . ?" podcast discussing the Delphi murders.

To listen to the interview CLICK HERE

Mangino discusses Crumbleys' sentencing on Court TV

Watch my interview with Julie Grant on Court TV discussing the Crumbleys' sentencing for their role in Oxford school shooting.

To watch the interview CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE

Friday, April 12, 2024

Conservative judicial activist rejects Senate subpoena in SCOTUS gifts inquiry

The Senate Judiciary Committee sent a subpoena to conservative judicial activist Leonard Leo as part of a months-long inquiry into undisclosed gifts to Supreme Court justices and he promptly rejected it, calling the move “politically motivated,” reported the Washington Post.

“I am not capitulating to his lawless support of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and the left’s dark money effort to silence and cancel political opposition,” Leo said of Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the committee’s chairman, in a statement to The Washington Post.

The committee voted along party lines on Nov. 30 to subpoena Leo and Texas billionaire Harlan Crow following reports that Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito accepted — and did not disclose — free luxury travel and gifts from Crow, Leo and conservative donor Robin Arkley II.

Crow did not receive a subpoena Thursday, his spokesman Michael Zona told The Post.

In a statement to The Post, Durbin said sending a subpoena to Leo was a necessary step.

“Since July 2023, Leonard Leo has responded to the legitimate oversight requests of the Senate Judiciary Committee with a blanket refusal to cooperate,” Durbin said. “His outright defiance left the Committee with no other choice but to move forward with compulsory process. For that reason, I have issued a subpoena to Mr. Leo.”

“Mr. Leo has played a central role in the ethics crisis plaguing the Supreme Court and, unlike the other recipients of information requests in this matter, he has done nothing but stonewall the Committee. This subpoena is a direct result of Mr. Leo’s own actions and choices,” Durbin continued.

The committee did not respond when asked for comment on why only Leo received a subpoena. And when asked why so much time elapsed between the vote and Leo’s subpoena being sent, Durbin’s office declined to expand on his original statement.

To read more CLICK HERE


Thursday, April 11, 2024

Mangino talks with Nancy Grace about body parts case in Milwaukee

Watch my interview with Nancy Grace on Crime Stories with Nancy Grace on Merit St. Media discussing the disappearance of Sade Robinson and the body parts found in and around Milwaukee.

To watch the episode CLICK HERE

What might a jury look like for Trump's up coming New York criminal trial

 On April 15, several hundred New Yorkers will file into a Manhattan courtroom to be scrutinized by prosecutors and defense attorneys, probed and prodded for signs that they could sway — or stymie — the first criminal trial of a former American president.

Lawyers representing the State of New York and Donald J. Trump will help select the 12 people who will decide the former president’s fate, according to The New York Times.

The lawyers will try to divine unspoken political biases, opinions about law enforcement and other hidden agendas. The potential jurors, who could face public anger and threats if they are chosen, will be asked about their education, occupations, families and news sources.

The questions will drill slowly deeper: Potential jurors, all from one of the state’s most liberal counties, will be asked to reveal whether they volunteered for or against Mr. Trump. Perhaps most critically, they will be asked whether their feelings would interfere with their ability to be fair.

Seating the members of the jury and several alternates could take two weeks or more, and the choices may be as pivotal as any evidence presented in court.

“It’s the most important part,” said Arthur Aidala, a defense attorney whose firm has had many high-profile clients, including Rudy Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s former lawyer. “And the hardest part too.”

Mr. Trump faces several trials, but other cases are mired in delays. The 12 jurors in Manhattan who will decide whether he falsified business records to hide an affair with a porn star will bear unblinking scrutiny.

For conservatives, the trial is a chance to expose what they see as an abuse of prosecutorial power and a plot led by Democrats to derail Mr. Trump. For liberals, it could be the only test of the judicial system’s power over the former president before the election this fall.

The stakes of jury selection are particularly high for Mr. Trump’s team, which is aware of the former president’s poor standing among many in New York County — Manhattan, as most people know it — which overwhelmingly voted for President Biden in 2020.

Mr. Trump’s legal team sees the case as winnable, although some believe a full acquittal is less likely than the prospect of finding jurors willing to cause a mistrial by holding out against a unanimous guilty verdict, according to two people with direct knowledge of the discussions.

Two lawsuits. E. Jean Carroll, a writer who says Donald Trump raped her in the mid 1990s, filed two separate lawsuits against the former president. Here’s what to know:

Who is E. Jean Carroll and what does she claim? Carroll is a journalist and onetime advice columnist for Elle magazine. She wrote about the alleged assault in a 2019 memoir, claiming that Trump had attacked her in the dressing room of a department store. The account was the most serious of several sexual misconduct allegations women have made against Trump, all of which he has denied.

How did Trump respond to her claims? After Carroll’s account appeared as an excerpt of her book in New York magazine, Trump emphatically denied her accusations, saying that she was “totally lying,” that the assault had never occurred and that he could not have raped her because she was not his “type.”

On what grounds did Carroll sue Trump for rape? In 2022, New York passed a law giving adult sexual assault victims a one-time opportunity to file civil cases, even if the statute of limitations has long expired. Carroll subsequently filed a lawsuit, accusing Trump of rape and seeking damages. On May 9, a jury found Trump liable for the sexual abuse and defamation of Carroll and awarded her $5 million in damages.

Why did she also sue him for defamation? In 2019, Carroll filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump in New York for making disparaging comments and branding her a liar after the publication of her memoir. Carroll  sought additional damages in response to Trump’s insults after she won her rape lawsuit. The trial in that case ended on Jan. 26 with a Manhattan jury ordering Trump to pay $83.3 million to Carroll.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers want a jury that includes younger Black men and white working-class men, particularly public employees like police officers, firefighters and sanitation workers. Those who have had bad experiences with the legal system will also be prized by the defense, which has cast the case as politically motivated.

Polls have shown that voters who haven’t graduated from college tend to favor Republicans. So prosecutors, conversely, will probably be looking for more educated voters from Democratic neighborhoods, fishing for those who consume news from sources like MSNBC, known for its outspoken liberal hosts, and who are fond of late-night comedians like Stephen Colbert, who hosted a presidential panel with Mr. Biden on March 28.

Each potential juror will answer a uniform set of questions, and lawyers can ask follow-ups. Some queries may be designed to uncover biases against — or allegiances to — Mr. Trump, such as whether jurors have any feelings or opinions about how he is being treated in this case, or whether they believe a former president can be criminally charged in state court.

Each side will be able to remove a limited number of jurors without explanation, a so-called peremptory challenge. They can also ask for jurors to be removed “for cause” by providing specific reasons they believe a juror cannot be fair and impartial.

Those disqualifications are critical.

“It’s always most important to know who your worst jurors are going to be,” said Renato Stabile, an attorney who does jury consulting. “It’s jury deselection, not jury selection. Because you can only control who you are getting rid of.”

Unlike most trials, where many potential jurors are loath to serve, some may be actively trying to get seated in this case. Michael Farkas, a defense attorney, said that those who seem to be angling for the jury “are the people who are most likely to have a partisan agenda.”

Some may not be completely forthcoming.

“Getting 12 jurors you think you actually know is difficult enough in a regular case,” said Mr. Farkas. “In a case like this, both parties can pretty much rest assured that they are going to have people on the jury that aren’t being completely honest about how they feel.”

Mr. Aidala was blunter about potential jurors.

“They lie,” he said, adding, “People want to be on that jury because they think they’re going to write a book or they’re going to be on ‘20/20’ or ‘48 Hours’ or one of those things.”

Prosecutors are aware of the perils of trying famous defendants, and Mr. Trump is globally famous.

“People know who he is,” said Joshua Steinglass, a senior trial counsel with Mr. Bragg’s office, at a Feb. 15 hearing on jury selection. “They’re going to have an opinion one way or the other. They can like him or dislike him. They can still be fair jurors so long as that is not going to affect their abilities to fairly judge the evidence.”

In Justice Juan M. Merchan’s decision issued last week expanding a gag order on Mr. Trump, he suggested that the former president’s fame could influence deliberations.

“The conventional ‘David vs. Goliath’ roles are no longer in play as demonstrated by the singular power defendant’s words have on countless others,” the justice wrote.

Justice Merchan could wield significant influence. In courtrooms, jurors often look to judges for guidance. By repeatedly attacking Justice Merchan, Mr. Trump could risk punishment, and jurors could find themselves sympathetic to the judge trying to contain him.

The case itself is relatively straightforward: Mr. Trump faces nearly three dozen felony counts of falsifying business records related to a hush-money payment made to Stormy Daniels, a porn actress, to buy her silence in the waning days of the 2016 presidential campaign.

At first blush, Mr. Trump’s jury pool appears to be unfriendly: 70 percent of Manhattan’s 1.1 million registered voters are Democrats. Many know the defendant well, since he once called New York his home and made his name in its tabloid newspapers. Juries and judges in Manhattan have already found Mr. Trump liable for committing sexual abusedefaming his accuser and, most recently, for wildly inflating his net worth to obtain better loan terms.

Valerie Hans, a professor of law at Cornell University who has studied jury behavior, said that pretrial publicity typically favored prosecutors, but that dynamic could be altered by Mr. Trump’s divisive behavior.

“Trump has not ceded the pretrial publicity to the prosecution in this case at all,” said Ms. Hans, noting that Mr. Trump had repeatedly referred to case as a “witch hunt,” a view that his supporters echo.

“It can help shape how people look at the evidence that’s presented at trial from the very start,” she said, adding, “People are more likely to agree with things they have heard many times before.”

Mr. Trump seems well aware of the public relations battle he is waging in his hometown. The presumptive Republican nominee, who faces three other indictments, has repeatedly called for a crackdown on crime. He recently attended the wake of a slain New York City police officer, where he said that the country needed to “get back to law and order.”

He has attacked Justice Merchan again and again and said the justice system is rigged against him.

The judge has moved to defend the citizens who may decide the former president’s fate. New York State does not allow juries to operate in full anonymity, but in early March Justice Merchan ordered prospective jurors’ identities to be shielded from the public, while effectively barring Mr. Trump from exposing them. The former president will not have access even to their addresses.

Lawyers for both sides, however, will know the jurors’ names. They will scour potential jurors’ social media accounts as well as their voter registration and voting histories, which will show whether they voted but not for whom.

Earlier this year, the federal jurors who found Mr. Trump liable for defaming the writer E. Jean Carroll and ordered him to pay her $83.3 million were completely anonymous. Judge Lewis A. Kaplan encouraged them to stay that way.

“My advice to you is that you never disclose that you were on this jury,” Judge Kaplan told them at the end of the trial. “And I won’t say anything more about it.”

Jurors in the criminal trial will also be subject to an intense media spotlight, with scores of reporters packing the courtroom and a constant barrage of commentary from social media and traditional news outlets.

And, of course, they will have to reckon with Mr. Trump, who will sit in the court for weeks just feet away from them. In the defamation trial, he was fixated on the jurors from the moment they walked into the courtroom. He pivoted to study them as they answered biographical questions and frequently talked to his lawyers.

But his participation may have been a double-edged sword. For prospective jurors, it provided their first glimpse of Mr. Trump’s pique at being a defendant.

Judge Kaplan read a summary of the case to them, including the established finding that Mr. Trump had sexually assaulted Ms. Carroll. Later, Judge Kaplan asked the prospective jurors whether any believed that the court system was treating the former president unfairly.

Mr. Trump raised his hand.

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