Friday, December 14, 2012

Michigan judge in nude picture scandal under fire for allegedly impregnating witness | Fox News

One of the many reasons that you need a lawyer is that you probably know
little or nothing about the judge in your case. Is he/she trustworthy? Is
he/she biased against certain types of litigants or cases? Is he/she the
type to have an affair with a witness?

You can't just walk into court and expect everyone to behave the way you
think they should behave and abide by your definition of "fair." Court is a
battle. It's confrontational, occasionally heated, and no place for an

Grossmont Students Witness Courtroom Assault By Defendant on Attorney - La Mesa-Mount Helix, CA Patch

- John

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chicago Vows to Fight Concealed Carry Ruling

You have a Constitutional right to keep and bear arms, so says the Supreme
Court. For a city to oppose this is akin to the opposition to school
desegregation 50 years ago. Nevertheless, so pockets are bitterly clinging
to their gun bans and spending taxpayer dollars to fund their fool's errand.

Georgia (especially around Atlanta) has some squirrelly gun laws that
probably violate the Constitution. If you think your rights have been
violated, give us a call.

Pennsylvania judge calls civil asset forfeiture "state-sanctioned theft"

It IS state-sanctioned theft. Most civil forfeiture cases begin with a drug
case. Civil forfeiture cases are entirely separate cases with their own
case numbers, court dates and rules. Sometimes they will have the same
judge and prosecutors, but not always. You can lose your property even if
you win the underlying criminal case. In fact, their doesn't even have to
be an underlying criminal case. The police can take your property even if
they can't prove you did anything wrong.

In this remarkable case from Tennessee, police seized $22,000 from a man
simply because he couldn't prove where it came from. That's outrageous.
Your money is your money. You shouldn't have to prove that you got it
legitimately. Rather, the burden should be upon the government (police) to
prove that you didn't.

If you get involved in a case like this, please don't try to handle it
yourself. There are some deadlines and required filings that will kill your
case if you miss them. Call us. We can help.

Legalized: Oral Sex, Sodomy and Immoral Prosecutions

Monday, December 10, 2012

Thursday, December 6, 2012

U.S. Attorney Jim Letten resigns amid online commenting scandal in his office |

It is troubling to me that the longest-serving US Attorney has been in
the job a mere eleven years. I have had the distinct honor of working
for two different elected prosecutors who had both been in office
longer than that before I joined their offices.

A good prosecutor is an important thing. At the state and local
levels, a good top prosecutor can easily last a decade or more and
often transcend political shifts that eliminate people from other

I wonder if we shouldn't decide that US attorneys get at least X years
regardless of who wins the Presidency 4 years from now.

- John

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Woman Files False Rape Claim Because She 'Didn't Enjoy It'

It's always wrong to falsely accuse anyone of a crime, but something like
rape is especially horrible. At least they were kind enough not to put this
guy's name on the internet. Long before she confessed, though, she probably
enjoyed lots of attention and special treatment as a "victim" of crime that
never happened.

I feel sorry for any man accused of rape. I've tried several rape cases in
my career. I'm always amazed at how closed-minded some potential jurors
are. I've had potential jurors say, "A woman would never lie about being
raped" and they mean it. I don't think they are just trying to get out of
jury service. I sincerely think that they are clinging to this
centuries-old idea that a woman who "admits" a rape is somehow lowering her
own reputation in the community, so a woman would never devalue herself like
that by falsely claiming rape.

That's just not the case anymore. Society accepts premarital sex as normal.
A virgin bride over 18 isn't expected anymore. Therefore, women are now
"free" to falsely accuse men they don't like of rape without lowering their
own standing in the community. Unfortunately, the older idea that a woman
would never do that persists in the minds of many potential jurors. Because
of that, men don't get trials that are as fair and balanced as they should

If you're facing charges like this, call me.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Unconstitutional Roadblocks in Adairsville?

The United States Supreme Court has made clear that randomly stopping innocent people doing nothing wrong is unconstitutional: 
"We have never approved a checkpoint program whose primary purpose was to detect evidence of ordinary criminal wrongdoing. Rather, our checkpoint cases have recognized only limited exceptions to the general rule that a seizure must be accompanied by some measure of individualized suspicion. We suggested in [Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648 (1979)] that we would not credit the "general interest in crime control" as justification for a regime of suspicionless stops. Consistent with this suggestion, each of the checkpoint programs that we have approved was designed primarily to serve purposes closely related to . . . roadway safety."  Strickland v. Georgia, 265 Ga. App. 533 (2004) quoting City of Indianapolis v. Edmond, 531 U.S. 32, 41-42, 121 S.Ct. 447, 148 L.Ed.2d 333 (2000).
But then here comes the Adairsville PD.  From the article:   
Adairsville Police Department established highway safety checkpoints Saturday around the city after several entering auto reports in the areas of Kuhlman and Lawrence streets.  The checkpoints were conducted in an effort to reduce crime and apprehend criminals, according to an APD press release.
 In other words, members of "law enforcement" aren't enforcing the laws they don't like, such as the ones that say roadblocks (or "checkpoints") have to be for a specific purpose related to roadway safety.  Now, everyone in this line of work knows that almost every roadblock is really for the purpose of general crime, not roadway safety.  (That's why these "roadway safety checkpoints" often have a drug dog at the scene.)  But the police are always smart enough to lie and say that they are just out there looking for traffic violations. 

Except in Adairsville.
I wish a couple of these people would call and hire me.  We could have some fun up in Adairsville.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

You Are Probably a Child Pornographer

Do you have children? When they were young did they ever run around the house naked?  Did you ever take a picture or video of it to show your spouse?  If so, then you might be a child pornographer. 

Judge Throws Out Case Against "Child Pornographer"

Good job, judge. Now the citizens of that town need to make sure their DA doesn't get re-elected.

In Georgia, pretty much ANY picture of ANY naked child for ANY reason (other than medical) counts as child porn. A teen who sends a single topless picture of herself to a boyfriend via internet or cell phone is committing a felony and can go to prison. People caught up in cases like this get branded "child pornographer" for life even if the charges are dismissed. Georgia's new "Restriction of Records" law (2013) may not help.

If you get caught up in a mess like this guy, call us. We can help.

- John

Thursday, November 29, 2012

How US v. Jones Can Restore Our Faith in the Fourth Amendment

US v. Jones

Jones truly was a landmark case. I hope to see the 4th Amendment restored to its traditional strength, rather than eroded away in favor of police powers.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Shoplifting Suspect Killed

Shoplifting Suspect Killed

It's a fine line between using force to protect property and nab shoplifters and using so much force that it endangers human life. I'm not saying we should tie the hands of businesses, because 99.9% of the time, no one dies. But when someone dies, it gets very expensive for the store.

Yes, we handle these types of cases. Give us a call.


Some Cops Never Learn

Some Cops Never Learn

Man records police. Gets arrested. Gets $25,000 settlement. Same guy records same officers.  Gets arrested again.

Will they ever learn?  Recording the police doing their job in a public place isn't a crime.  In fact, it may enjoy a level of protection in the Constitution.

If you or anyone you know ever gets arrested for recording a police officer in public, call me immediately.

Better yet, use my iPhone App to do the recording so that it is sent to me immediately.

- John

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Public Defender Suspended for Using N-Word | American Renaissance

Public Defender Suspended for Using N-Word | American Renaissance

Public Defender Suspended for Using N-Word

Bill Rankin, David Simpson, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The state’s public defender council voted Friday to place longtime DeKalb County public defender Larry Schneider on administrative leave pending an investigation related to Schneider’s use of a racial slur in a meeting.

The Georgia Public Defender Standards Council cited an unspecified allegation about Schneider’s conduct at a Dec. 7 meeting with council staff. Schneider said in an interview he told a story at the meeting about overhearing a DeKalb judge use a slur shortly before Schneider was appointed public defender in 1984.

The slur was the “n-word,” and Schneider acknowledged he used it .

“I did say the word . . . It was a story quoting a Superior Court judge in 1984 and was to illustrate my familiarity with racial bias in the court system,” Schneider said.

Schneider, who is white, said he told the story while pressing council staff to give him “race and sex data on our clients so that I could analyze them for evidence of racial bias.”

He said he has told the same story in public oral history sessions without incident.

Schneider said he was not informed of the complaint against him until DeKalb Superior Court Judge Mark Anthony Scott, a member of the public defender council, called him Thursday and told him he was offended by the comments.

Scott offered the motion Friday which found probable cause to seek Schneider’s removal. The council’s staff recused itself from the investigation. A special master will be appointed to conduct a hearing and then make a recommendation to the council, which will make a final decision on whether to remove Schneider from office.

- John Steakley
Steakley Law - Stalnaker App Studios

Senate bill rewrite lets feds read your e-mail without warrants | Politics and Law - CNET News

At the risk of sounding paranoid, be careful what you put in emails.
The government watches.

Don't forget the old FBI Carnivore program back in the 1990's, either.

- John

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Friday, November 9, 2012

Proposition 36: California Voters Overwhelmingly Ease Three Strikes law
Proposition 36, crafted by a group of Stanford University law professors in partnership with the New York-based NAACP Legal Defense Fund, will allow only certain hard-core criminals, including murderers, rapists and child molesters, to be put away for life for any third felony offense, while restricting the third strike to a serious or violent felony for everyone else. Forty-five percent of third-strikers are African-American.
I think the "tough on crime" wave hits about every 15-20 years.  People want to get tough on crime because they mistakenly think that the length of a potential prison sentence makes people think twice before committing a crime. (It doesn't.)  What actually happens is that the prisons fill up faster than anyone expected.  When it comes time to pay the bill, taxpayers suddenly look for "alternatives to incarceration" rather than pony up for additional prisons.  We are now in that phase of the cycle, and it will last a decade or so, I would guess. 

- John Steakley
Steakley Law - Stalnaker App Studios

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Fourth Amendment Goes to the Dogs

Chemerinsky: The Fourth Amendment Goes to the Dogs - News - ABA Journal

The unregulated use of "drug dogs" to allow police to search in situations where they would normally not have the right to search has grown more and more abused in the past decades.  I am hoping that the Supreme Court will clamp down on this end-run around the US Constitution, but I have my doubts. 

Chermerinsky writes: 
There have been only three prior Supreme Court cases concerning the use of such dogs and both arose in very different contexts. In United States v. Place, the court in 1983 rejected a Fourth Amendment objection to the use of a drug sniffing dog used for a piece of luggage in an airport. When Place’s behavior in the airport raised suspicion, the police took his suitcase and had a dog sniff it. The dog signaled the presence of drugs, the suitcase was opened, and cocaine was found.

The Supreme Court rejected a Fourth Amendment challenge and held that the use of the drug sniffing dog was not a search. The court stressed that the luggage was in a public place and that the use of the drug sniffing dog was less intrusive than opening the suitcase and exposing non-contraband to view. In language that might be relevant in Jardines, the court said: “Thus, the manner in which information is obtained through this investigative technique is much less intrusive than a typical search. Moreover, the sniff discloses only the presence or absence of narcotics, a contraband item.”

In 2000’s City of Indianapolis v. Edmond, the court held that it violated the Fourth Amendment for the police to create a checkpoint at which they stopped cars to have a drug sniffing dog detect the presence of drugs. The court explained: “We have never approved a checkpoint program whose primary purpose was to detect evidence of ordinary criminal wrongdoing.” Although the court found the checkpoint to violate the Fourth Amendment, it also said, relying on Place, that the use of the dogs was not a search because there was no entry into the car and was not designed to reveal any information other than the presence of illegal drugs.

Finally, in Illinois v. Caballes, the court ruled in 2005 that a sniff by a drug detection dog of the exterior of a vehicle during the course of a lawful traffic stop did not constitute a Fourth Amendment search. The court once more emphasized that there was no infringement of the reasonable expectation of privacy in the use of such dogs to reveal only the presence of contraband.

As always, if you find your property or automobile being subjected to a "search" by a drug dog, pull out your cellular telephone and record it.  Then email me the recording before the police find and destroy it.  My iPhone app (link below) can help you with this.

- John Steakley
Steakley Law - Stalnaker App Studios

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Thomas Quick: the Swedish Serial Killer Who Never Was

Many people assume, or presume, that no one would ever confess to a serious
crime, let alone a string of them. That's not so. History is full of
people who have been convicted of crimes they did not commit even though
they confessed to committing them. A false confession not only takes up a
prison bed with an innocent person, it halts the investigation that may have
resulted in the actual offender being identified. Juries should always be
suspicious when asked to convict someone on a "confession" alone.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

N.J. assemblyman views video of his own disputed traffic stop

I am constantly amazed when a police officer trumps up charges and
then forgets to erase the video recording. But what if he had? This
is a good example of why citizens should use their cell phones to
record their encounters with police. I've co-authored a law review
article on the right to do so, and my iPhone app includes a function
making it quick and easy to do so.

- John

Define "Suspicious"

Police find body in burning wheelchair

How is a body in a burning wheelchair in a wooded area NOT suspicious?

- John Steakley
Steakley Law - Stalnaker App Studios

Friday, October 19, 2012

This Is Why We Shouldn't Over-Punish Non-Murders

Woodard gets life for killing two DeKalb officers

This Dekalb County criminal case about the murder of two police officers highlights a problem of some "get tough on crime" policies. Why?  Because Woodward was facing life without parole merely for the possession of a firearm. Rather than get caught with a gun, he opted to end the lives of two men just doing their jobs.  After all, he probably though, if he gets caught for murder he will still go to prison for life and he might not get caught at all!  In other words, the over-punishment of the gun crime to the same level as murder means that Woodward basically got to kill the cops for free. He's no worse off than he would have been had he not killed the cops. So what's his incentive to not kill?  Nothing. 

A similar paradox happens in child sex cases. We as a society have raised the punishments on child sex offender cases so high that now the child molester might as well kill his victim and any witnesses.  It greatly reduces his chances of getting caught and the punishment for murder is about the same as child molestation.  So why NOT kill them?

Punishments such as death and life without parole should be reserved for the ultimate crime of murder. All other crimes should be punished less.  Otherwise, we just create a perverse incentive to kill witnesses. 

- John Steakley
Steakley Law - Stalnaker App Studios