Tennessee Prisoner Rendition: Jason White

In April 2019, we wrote about Jason White, who was framed for a pound of meth by Bartlett detectives and ADA Chris Scruggs, recipient of our first Hammer Award for over-zealous prosecution.  White was, until recently, serving 60 years at the West Tennessee State Penitentiary in Lauderdale County.

White was spirited out of state Monday May 20th in a carefully planned operation.

Continue reading “Tennessee Prisoner Rendition: Jason White”

Bazelon’s book “Charged”: Call to Action

Updated 5/17/2019:  We took the appendix of this book and showed how it could be a questionnaire that a hypothetical selection committee could put to candidates to gauge how committed they are to prosecutorial reform. 

Prosecutors wield extraordinary power in the criminal legal system. How they exercise their power can be the difference between fairness and inequality, justice and corruption, and a community with faith in its justice system or one that feels betrayed by it.”

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Emily Bazelon photo – Nina Subin

We don’t usually do book reviews, but Emily Bazelon’s book “Charged.  The new movement to transform American prosecution and end mass incarceration” is a phenomenon we can’t ignore.   It is a textbook and a case study of how to replace Amy Weirich.

Local DAs are the officials with the most influence over mass incarceration.

We previously reported on the Fair Punishment Project’s report “The Recidivists: New Report on Rates of Prosecutorial Misconduct“.   One of the four DAs profiled in the book was Amy Weirich, with an account of six of her cases which had been reversed by appeals courts.   Weirich was nailed for repeat Brady violations and due process violations.    Amy Weirich was, in 2017, fast becoming the poster child for prosecutorial misconduct.

weirich_testifies“Charged” confirms Amy Weirich as the most corrupt champion of mass incarceration in the country.   The book is structured as two case histories, one of Amy’s persecution of Nuora Jackson for murdering her mother, and the other following a young Black man, pseudonymously named Kevin, as he wends its way through a diversion program in the Brooklyn office of DA Eric Gonzales, who has slashed mass incarceration since his election.

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Nuora Jackson

This is the most complete account of the Nuora Jackson case, and Weirich doubles down on vicious and illegal tactics throughout the case.   Jackson eventually took an alford plea after the Tennessee Supreme Court vacated her conviction.   Weirich did not have the grace to release Nuora on bail, and, rather than releasing her after ten years, forced her to accept a plea deal to avoid further incarceration.   Bazelon forged a close relationship with Nuora Jackson and paints an intimate portrait of a soul in Amy’s hell.

In the midst of alternating through six chapters each on Kevin and Nuora’s cases, Bazelon adds organizational chapters.

KimFoxx
Kim Foxx, Chicago DA

Chapter 5 is an account of a national movement to replace bad prosecutors with reformist DAs.   Groups such as the Illinois Safety and Justice PAC, funded by George Soros, helped Kim Foxx get elected in Chicago.  The Civic Participation Action Fund, the ACLU campaign for Smart Justice, the Open Society Foundation, Texas Organizing Project and others supported fourteen DA reform candidates in 2016-2018.   Most of them won. Even the Koch brothers supported DA reform on the basis of waste.  It is a bipartisan issue.

Chapter 8 is a survey of the new reformist DAs, including Kim Foxx in Chicago, Eric Gonzales in Brooklyn, Mark Dupree in Kansas City, Larry Krasner in Philadelphia, Tori Verber Salazar in San Joaquin Co, CA, Aramis Ayala in Orlando and many others.   Organizations like NYC Court Watch and Fair and Just Prosecution weighed in.   We have a court watch in Memphis now.

The final chapter is a survey of the issues faced by some of the new reform prosecutors and how they were tackled.   It’s a troubleshooting guide for reform DAs.

Possibly the most valuable resource in the book is the appendix, a list of 21 principles for Twenty First Century Prosecutors, grouped under the objectives of reducing mass incarceration and increasing fairness in the system.  This is a great starting point for a questionnaire for new DA candidates.

charged-book-emily-bazelon-1This book is a gift to criminal justice advocated in Memphis.   It contains a motivational story, potential national sources of support, accounts of the pioneer reform DAs who are already elected and helpful organizational principles.

Amy Weirich is the Public Enemy Number One for national reform advocates, who are well funded.

— concluded —

Earley Story gets NPDF and Steve Cohen support.

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Earley Story

Jailer Deputy Earley Story, who is fighting in court to overturn his twenty-year-old fraudulent conviction for concocted pot sales, appeared in court today, March 21st 2019.   His motion for summary judgement was rejected.

We covered his previous court appearance at the end of this post, which detailed the arguments on this motion.

Mr. Story’s next court date is April 5th, when his motion for judge Chris Craft to recuse himself will be heard.

National Police Defense Foundation support

The NPDF, which has supported Earley Story since 1997 when he was first prosecuted, has asked Congressman Steve Cohen to request an FBI investigation, on the basis that Mr. Story’s civil rights have been violated.   Read more in Sharon Rondeau’s The Post and Email blog.   An FBI inquiry is needed.

Support Group

MemphisTruth.org is sponsoring a new group, for victims of prosecutorial misconduct.   The first meeting is scheduled for Saturday 23rd.   Contact us for details.   This is an activist group which seeks to document abuses in the criminal justice system.   These are people who know, at first hand, how corruption operates in our courts.

Authorization of Agency: Initial analysis

In our most recent post, we revealed the extent of MPD’s Authorization of Agency (AoA) program, inspired by Memphis Shelby County Crime Commission (MSCCC).

We did some preliminary analysis of the data and there are updated spreadsheets (CSV, ODS, XLSX).  The update includes some address corrections and the addition of a business category field.

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Analysis of AoAs by race

We saw the racial disparity in the initial AoA post.  The profiling nature of the scheme, with seven times (84.9% vs 12.3%) the number of Black versus white victims of AoA is confirmed.

 

 

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Analysis of AoAs by year

We broke down AoAs by the year the initial AoA was signed.   2018 is low because only half a year of data was collected.   Years 211 through 2016 are incomplete because we asked in our FOIA for all AoAs between December 1st 216 and July 9th 2018.  All precincts but one simply sent all their AoA data rather than selecting the data range we asked for.   In addition, we noted many AoAs which were signed on a given date and had additional lines added over the same signature and date later.  We have not quantified this factor as of yet but we think it will skew a couple of percent of the dates earlier.

Adj_AoA_year
AoAs by year adjusted for undercount in 2016 and earlier, and for the 2018 half year

We adjusted the yearly graph by doubling up the 2018 number to estimate a full year, and we added 15% to 2016 and earlier to account for the number of AoAs missing in our sample.

The graphs look similar.  From small beginnings in 2011, the scheme grew to about 240 in 2014, then took a big jump to 665 in 2016 and plateaued out to around 600 each in 2017-2018.

We need to look for the impetus behind the 2014 and 2016 bumps.   Most likely, some form of marketing or promotional assets were assigned to the program to cause these bumps.  We’ll also submit another ORR to obtain the missing data.

AoA_by_cat

We created a new field in the spreadsheet for business category and ran this report.  The biggest category is apartment, which also includes mobile home parks, condos, retirement communities and townhouses.

The dominance of this sector may be the result of “Operation Safeway” which had a focus on apartment managers.   The majority of these had a just a few AoAs, but complexes like Greenbrier with 48 AoAs and a dozen or so with double digits stand out.    Clearly a number of apartment managements embraced the scheme enthusiastically.

The retail sector is largely a handful of AoAs in each store.   All branches of chain stores are included.   Three chains of dollar stores (Family Dollar, Dollar General, and Dollar Tree) had a total of 38 AoAs, which probably reflects the dollar stores’ well known skimping on security staff.   Other chains with large numbers includes Walgreens with 24 and Kroger with 17.   Otherwise, few retailers had more than three or four per location.

We think that, like with the apartment sector, that the heavy retail users had an internal policy to use AoA while the light users were probably recruited by police.

The food sector includes all vendors of prepared food and alcohol by the drink.   The chains with most branches are the biggest offenders, and CiCi’s Pizza in Poplar Plaza’s 17 AoAs were associated with a well-publicized disturbance at the venue.    We know that Operation Safeway targeted food establishments in certain areas, but we think that most of the rest may have been instigated by MPD, including the CiCi’s incident.

The hotel/motel sector includes hotels, motels and boarding houses, has a few stand-outs, probably related to prostitution.  The manufacturing sector, though small, is dominated by Smith and Nephew who initiated 85 of the 100 AoAs.  This is an anomaly which probably reflects a decision in management to use MPD as part of its security apparatus.

The gas sector looks very much like retail, and when you eliminate the effect of supplier chains like Shell or Exxon, not much stands out.

Public facilities include the downtown MATA terminus, with 24 AoAs and three at the Zoo.   We talked about the Zoo political blacklist in the original AoA post.  We dispute the legality of public entities barring members of the public.

Churches banned 37 people.  It sounds unchristian to us to put people in the system.   Even worse, schools had 35 AoAs, and we cannot envision a world where young people can be legally barred from education, or even where a school would involve the police in its disciplinary process.

Summary

We see some high-frequency users of AoA.  These AoAs are probably due to business policy and may have been influenced by Operation Safeway in some way.   The vast majority of AoAs have the potential of being instigated by police, including a handful where we know the case history.

We will follow up with additional analysis, including enriching the data and sampling some case histories to determine the marketing initiatives that shape the AoA usage curves.

–concluded–

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ACLU lawsuit data: answered questions.

Memphis City and the ACLU have, in the last week, released a huge trove of documents relating to the A-list lawsuit.

The UK-based The Guardian today covered the story, as has Esquire magazine and Citylab.  Our local crowdsourcers have only begun to dig in the paperwork, and we are certain that the material will fuel our researches for years to come, but a few vital facts have emerged.

Geofeedia replacement social media “collator”  NC4.

surveillance13n-2-webProbably one of the most significant finding to date is the identification of the Geofeedia replacement.   The ACLU had been after this product as the social media spy tool of choice until the social media powerhouses cut off its data feed in October 2016.  The new replacement is NC4, which was revealed in the new a-list documents, we think for the first time.  All we can find is this PRnewswire piece which was probably paid for by NC4.com as part of its PR aimed at local LE departments.

This alone means that we are already seeing dividends from the ACLU case, before it is even heard.

Activist counter-intel successes.

TN-Rolling-Block-Party-Fedex_tennesseean
Rolling Block Party at Fedex:  4/23/2018 Keedran on the car.

 

Almost as interesting, which squares with what we already knew from our previous blog about CCC’s counter-intel operations, is the fact that LE responses have been repeatedly been triggered by fake news planted by people close to CCC.   Our blog uses Open Record information to document how fake news about an attempt on the Bridge escalated all the way to the top of State LE and to FBI.   That incident appears to have escalated police response to protests, including the arrest of protesters on April 3rd by a snatch squad from the MPD Multi-Agency Gang Unit’s OCU (Organized Crime Unit).   It was a pre-emption intended to abort a 6:30 bogus Bridge occupation.   The OCU is all over the ACLU documents.      The take-away from this is that information gleaned by MPD and TBI’s CIU from social media is even less reliable than the average social media fake news.

LE bites on fake intel, misses the real information.

Bruce_Kramer
Bruce Kramer, longtime ACLU attorney

Also revealed, something we also suspected from our blog:  Not only is State LE liable to fly off the handle and escalate fake news to the top levels of local, State and Federal LE, but they have been doing a very poor job of eliciting the real intel they seek.

Our CCC story reveals that the unknown operational security measures CCC used to safely transmit the real April 3rd itinerary are working.  The unadvertised first stop of the Rolling Block Party arrived at FedEx to find no police presence, and the police made the scene in a time span appropriate to a 911 dispatch.   So, not only is the police intel gathering catching all the fake news, it is missing the real intel they are after.

Here’s the Daily Kos‘ Gary Moore on the April 3 arrests.

MPD gets vindictive from intel defeat.

mlk50_popoFrustration at being totally confounded by this poorly financed, rag-tag group of activists may have led to Keedran Frankin‘s July 6th arrest, and the planting of evidence in his car.  This arrest was allegedly in a traffic stop done by OCU, which is not exactly their beat.

Limitations of MPD’s social media spying.

The strange story of “Bob Smith’s” bogus social media account is also revealed.   We had feared that MPD’s Real Time Crime Center had the ability to penetrate the end-to-end encryption used by Facebook.   However, it appears that MPD was only able to view private data on Facebook to which their fake account, Bob Smith, had ‘friended’ itself.   All the information in the earliest document released by the city suggests that only activists friended by Bob Smith could be accessed by MPD.   In particular, Facebook Private Messages and secret groups which did not include Bob Smith were safe from spying.

We say this with a caveat: private Facebook stuff could be revealed via NSA decryption or by the issuance of a FICA court order, which does not require much in the way of probable cause.   As far as I know, CCC used different means to organize the Rolling Block Party, and I don’t want to know what it was.   CCC keeps ahead of LE spying by eternal vigilance and strict operational security.

BobSmith
Photo: Facebook

I was personally targeted by Bob Smith and the information used to smear me, as searches for “Fergus” and “Nolan” separately will reveal.   In particular, my arrest on Memorial Day 2016 was presented to be because I advocated lawbreaking due to entrapment by Bob Smith as a deliberate act by MPD, which I know to be untrue.   In addition, the story of my uncovering the A-list which I documented in this first party  eye witness account is smeared by a bogus allegation of a fanciful meeting I was supposed to have with a County employee, who is standing for election this week.    I promised I would not out this person until after the election, but this MPD cover story did not surface until after my A-list story needed to be discredited, and is at variance with my contemporary eye witness account.   My story did not change.  Theirs did.

2015-10-fusioncenter-616x369In other news: Office of Homeland Security identified.

At MemphisTruth.org, we have been looking for the MPD’s Office of Homeland Security.   It turns out to be two officers, Sergeant Tim Reynolds, promoted this April but identified in the documents as Detective, Sergeant and Lieutenant, and as Police Officer II in the current City salaries list.   Also Sgt. Edwin Cornwell.

The Office of Homeland Security is part of MPD Special Operations, housed in the Special Operations division, which also houses the Real Time Crime Center which does most of MPD’s electronic spookery.

The ACLU papers will give and give.