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Old 05-17-2018, 09:56 PM
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Default My last day in court.

I retired from the FBI in 2016, with 25 years in the bag. All of my cases but one had been resolved.

This is the other one.

FBI: Federal Jury Convicts Navajo Man | Los Alamos Daily Post

I won't go into it too much here. The bad guy confessed, we had DNA, a good victim, and the weapon (a mall-store samurai sword!). He had been convicted of a similar offense in 2002. The sentencing guidelines were so high he opted for the long game - wait in custody for almost 4 years, hoping the victim would die or disappear. Nothing we would offer him would be less than effectively a life sentence for a 53 year old sex offender.

Finally the judge had enough and set it for trial. I made the drive to ABQ, hoping at least for a trip to Ron Peterson's wonderful gun store. No luck there. By the time court ended every day he was closed. My only daughter lives in ABQ, so at least I got to see her.

The victim did not die or disappear. She testified, was subjected to harsh cross examination, but held up. She has serious health issues, and I doubt she'll be around for more than a few months.

The defense did what they could, but they had a tough row to hoe. The jury was out for two hours, which included lunch.

It was bittersweet for me. I've always enjoyed testifying and the trappings of the system in full forward motion. An event that took place between two marginalized people on a remote Indian reservation led to scientists testifying about DNA, evidence people flying in from Quantico to testify on chain of custody issues, SANE nurses being brought in from their new jobs to recall an exam done four years ago, and an old happily retired agent lumbering into the stand again for one last hurrah.

I'm glad we won. He needs to stay in prison. Oddly enough, when I finished testifying the defendant shook my hand and thanked me for treating him fairly.

I've never looked at verdicts as wins or losses. The system works and I accept the outcome, no matter what. But is was nice to go out on a conviction (even two years after I retired.)
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Old 05-17-2018, 10:02 PM
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Great description. Thanks.
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Old 05-17-2018, 10:40 PM
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Default Glad you went out with a bang.....

Not implying that any trial is 'easy', I think they are called trials because of all the misery they cause people involved, including the Jury hoping to gosh they did the right thing.

This has to be about the most straight up trial I've ever heard of. I wish all of them were that way. I had to sit on a jury for hours while an 'alleged' drunk guy's lawyer talked about the breathalyzer and the qualifications of the operator, how little the breathalyzer numbers meant, dyslexia and why he couldn't say the ABCs including showing proof of that condition being that he called DUI DWI. And testimony from his girlfriend that he wasn't acting right because he was tired. I could go on, but that was the most dragged out... I think of trials that go on for WEEKs.
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Old 05-17-2018, 10:40 PM
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Outstanding case and investigation! Thanks for sharing and thank you for your dedicated service. Enjoy your retirement brother...
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Old 05-17-2018, 10:59 PM
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Oddly enough, when I finished testifying the defendant shook my hand and thanked me for treating him fairly.
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Old 05-17-2018, 11:12 PM
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That's gotta feel good.

Cheers on a job complete.
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Old 05-17-2018, 11:35 PM
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Seems like there is always one court case that gets to you..mine was a dead, abused baby. Even convictions can be very, very bitter sweet. Glad to be retired from the job.
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Old 05-17-2018, 11:54 PM
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Good story, thanks much.


while in service I had to 'testify' for a soldier for something fairly minor - Later did court bailiff a number of times, one was for a Master Sergeant that had abused his daughter, his jury of peers, half senior officer / half senior NCO's.

And then court juror, but only chosen once and they made a deal as we walked in.
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Old 05-18-2018, 12:29 AM
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Lots of food for thought there, sigp220.45 and very well told.

I hope you felt a load lift a little when it was done.
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Old 05-18-2018, 12:48 AM
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Four years to bring a relatively slam dunk case to court? That's a bad joke.

Want to hear another? Guy up the street blew away another family member in the street in front of two witnesses. This created a 5+ hour standoff with SWAT while he sat in the back yard deciding whether or not to do us all a favor and blow his own brains out. This was 18+ months ago and I see no sign of it in any NV court.

There's due process and gaming the system with delays, and I bet I know which applies in both cases.
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Old 05-18-2018, 08:22 AM
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Four years to bring a relatively slam dunk case to court? That's a bad joke.
The prosecution has 90 days to bring a case to trial after indictment under the Speedy Trial act. All of the delays in this one came from the defense. Judges tend to grant defense delays, but even they have limits.
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Old 05-18-2018, 08:28 AM
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All the good violent and sex offense federal case law comes from Indian Country . . .
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Old 05-18-2018, 08:40 AM
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Great story, with a positive outcome. Was the FBI involved because the crime occurred on the Rez?
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Old 05-18-2018, 09:32 AM
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Four years to bring a relatively slam dunk case to court? That's a bad joke.
Our ADAs used to explain that although the case was 'perfect', when we had lesser felonies, and or relatively youthful or relatively first time (say first dozen times) through the system defendants; it was more 'cost effective' to plea bargain. Rare was the case I worked that actually went to a trial.
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Old 05-18-2018, 09:53 AM
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Nice thoughtful post that conveys the realities of the criminal justice system . I think the term you are looking for is pathos. Life is hard cruel and very sad sometimes. I look at the worn chairs in the courtrooms and on the jury chairs and think how many people have come through here, how many lives have been effected, how many cases with their genesis here in "MY" courtroom have made it up to SCOTUS and had a profound effect of the justice system (yes there have been several). Each starts on a dusty reservation, a town street, some innocuous place and before it's over it can affect the world. Life is funny that way......
BTW Fried Catfish fillets and courtbouillion for lunch today at the town lunch eatery with apple cobbler for dessert
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Old 05-18-2018, 09:56 AM
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Default Good on ya!

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Originally Posted by sigp220.45 View Post
...

I've never looked at verdicts as wins or losses. The system works and I accept the outcome, no matter what. But is was nice to go out on a conviction (even two years after I retired.)
(emphasis added)

Though our paths have never crossed, in person, I know you're a good man. Your work will be remembered.

Your philosophy re: verdicts is what I tried to impart to my students...cannot control what we cannot control.

Enjoy your retirement! You earned it.

Be safe.

PS:

Expect I will be back in LA, CA, for a long ongoing...seemingly never ending... case sometime soon. Travel on government dime is a pleasure.
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Old 05-18-2018, 02:34 PM
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One of the few nuggets I retain from Constitutional Law Class was a comment by the instructor about how many transformational SCOTUS decisions are in cases involving bottom of the bucket citizens.
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Old 05-18-2018, 05:12 PM
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To whit the scum whose name is attached to the warning we have all memorized.
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Old 05-18-2018, 05:32 PM
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When I retired there were few important criminal cases pending so I had very little to do with the courts on criminal matters. But there was a BOZO who assaulted his live-in girlfriend, then cold-cocked his uncle who tried to intervene, then when I got there the wrestling match left me with a dislocated shoulder and elbow and him in handcuffs. During processing at county jail BOZO got a little bit rambunctious, kicked his way through an office door, then head-butted me in the face, breaking my nose and fracturing a couple of teeth.

BOZO proceeded to plead guilty to charges of assault, domestic violence, and assault on a peace officer, then was sentenced to 4 years in prison. During those 4 years he entertained himself by filing hand-written pro-se lawsuits against me, my department, and anyone else he could think of suing. I spent 4 years appearing for depositions and trial dates before the case was adjudicated in my favor.

No compensation. No travel allowances. No witness fees. Just drop everything every time I was served with more papers requiring me to jump through another set of hoops.

By the way, it can be a little bit difficult to get a mortgage or finance a new car while you have a multi-million dollar lawsuit pending against you.

I think everyone sees the larger picture here, so RANT OVER.
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Old 05-18-2018, 06:58 PM
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Quote:
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Seems like there is always one court case that gets to you..mine was a dead, abused baby. Even convictions can be very, very bitter sweet. Glad to be retired from the job.
Mine is a gang member who drove at above our open road speeds in an urban area, lost control and went off the road into a river while intoxicated on a summer Sunday afternoon.

A four year old child and her mother drowned.

Two Manslaughter convictions before the committal hearing as I prepared the file to a defended hearing stage from the start.
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Old 05-19-2018, 07:11 PM
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I like to make fun of the Feds just, well, because I can. But I gotta give you guys your props. Nobody prepares a case like the FBI and a good Assistant U.S. Attorney.
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Old 05-19-2018, 07:26 PM
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I read stories like these and I can't help but feel that our justice system is seriously flawed...the concept as originally designed to protect the innocent from abuses has morphed into the guilty getting the breaks and the innocents getting delayed justice, if ever they do. I'm not faulting anyone here...obviously your stories reflect the struggles you've had, and even the suffering you'd endured to try to achieve justice for those who need and deserve it. It just seems like something is seriously wrong...when someone is convicted and sentenced to death, and it takes 20 years to (possibly) carry out the sentence...when their victim(s) didn't have the luxury of continued life.

Sorry for the rant...as my stepdad used to say when I'd say something wasn't fair: A fair is something you take your kids to, it's not life.
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Old 05-19-2018, 10:08 PM
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"My last day in court".

Kind of a strange feelin ....IIRC.
WTG..
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Old 05-19-2018, 10:34 PM
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. . . During those 4 years he entertained himself by filing hand-written pro-se lawsuits against me, my department, and anyone else he could think of suing. I spent 4 years appearing for depositions and trial dates before the case was adjudicated in my favor. . . .
In the business, we call those "Big Chief Tablet Motions," generally inscribed with a #2 pencil . . .
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Old 05-20-2018, 01:53 AM
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Having spent about 6 years working across the river from 2 reservations. I can say without hesitation that Indian Reservations are like a whole nother country (And I guess they are, sort of) and almost a whole different planet! I always thought that the guys and gals that worked the res. (FBI, BIA, Tribal and Local LEOs that worked inside the Res) had about as tough a job as could be had in law enforcement.
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Old 05-20-2018, 09:46 AM
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BTW, for those who may be seeking closure about Miranda/Escodrobo, back in the early 1980's Miranda was found dead of multiple gunshot wounds in Mexico. He'd fled across the Rio Grande to escape a drug bust in the US. I don't recall after all this time any speculation about what side of the river he acquired the GSWs.

The wheels of justice grind slow....................

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Old 05-20-2018, 11:08 AM
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When I applied to the MA State Police in my "yutte", I started out with 5,000 applicants with their goal to be 10 classes of 50 run through the academy. The drop out rate at the academy was 50% so their hope was to add 250 new state troopers.

I was appointed to the fourth class but a few months later received a letter from the state thanking me for my efforts and suggesting that I try again at some later date. Apparently they ran 2 classes through the academy and then the Governor pulled the funding. Not sure why I didn't try out for the local PD after that, perhaps a little disgusted with the system.

By now, if still alive, I'd be sitting in a boat fishing and collecting about 80% of my pay. But NO, I decided to be a self employed contractor instead.
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Old 05-20-2018, 05:15 PM
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Strangely enough, the vast majority of lawyers never see the inside of a courtroom through their entire career. I suspect that's true for many law enforcement officers as well. I always had a lot of respect for the officers I saw often in my courtroom - they were the true tip of the spear. As for myself, I never could see the point of being a lawyer if I wasn't in court. So, I averaged 2-3 days each week in court during the first nineteen years of my career, mostly federal courts. Then I spent virtually every working day for the next 20+ years in a courtroom. It was very strange to sit there on my last day and realize that it really was my last day. It has been 16 months now and, while it took some adjustment, I haven't really missed it. The last several of my cases that were appealed were all affirmed, including a murder and various drug and sex offender cases. The last one concluded just a few months ago. That was a nice way to end it. So to SIG220.45 and all the other LEO's who spent time in the courtroom helping the system work, from one who wasn't always the easiest guy in the room to get along with, congratulations and my respect for a job well done.
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Old 05-20-2018, 08:20 PM
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Nice job, congratulations. I tried my best not to be upset if I “lost” a case but one that bothered me was an assault on a police officer (me) where the defendant was aquitted. The judge told me that since I was a cop I should expect to be assaulted, and besides I “won” fight. Even the other defense attorneys in court could not believe it. While it did not happend often when the bad guy attacks me, unprovoked, I expect a conviction.
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Old 05-20-2018, 10:39 PM
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BTW, for those who may be seeking closure about Miranda/Escodrobo, back in the early 1980's Miranda was found dead of multiple gunshot wounds in Mexico. He'd fled across the Rio Grande to escape a drug bust in the US. I don't recall after all this time any speculation about what side of the river he acquired the GSWs.

The wheels of justice grind slow....................
Totally inaccurate. Stabbed in a bar fight in Phoenix in the mid 70's . . .
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Old 05-21-2018, 01:31 AM
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I got called to testify in a BS civil case 12 years after the incident occurred. One of the lawyers in the case tried to bribe me and after I mentioned it in court the case was thrown out and the lawyer was disbarred.
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Old 05-21-2018, 02:34 AM
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Thanks for sharing this with us, Sig...from your posts, it sounds like you are enjoying your really well deserved retirement.

Good work.

Best Regards, Les
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Old 05-21-2018, 09:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muss Muggins View Post
Totally inaccurate. Stabbed in a bar fight in Phoenix in the mid 70's . . .
Da..rn, you mean the news media lied-or got the wrong guy? (Or the memory isn't what it used to be?) But, all things considered, same result. Thanks for the update.

Last edited by WR Moore; 05-21-2018 at 09:38 AM.
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