Category Archives: Law

West Bend Car Jacking Suspect Caught

From the West Bend police

Update: On Thursday, July 20, 2017 at 11:15 a.m. a Milwaukee Police Officer located the victim’s vehicle, the 2008 Infiniti G35, in the area of S. 12th St. and W. Greenfield Av. At approximately 12:30 p.m. Milwaukee Police Officers found the suspect, Rakeem WOODLEY, hiding in a relative’s house in the same area. West Bend Police responded and took custody of the vehicle and suspect. The vehicle was not damaged and will be returned to the owner after it is processed for evidence. The suspect was arrested for Strong Armed Robbery and Operating a Motor Vehicle without the Owner’s Consent. The suspect is being held at the Washington County Jail.

The West Bend Police Department thanks Milwaukee Police Officers Scott IVERSON and Ryan HEIDEMANN for their cooperation and outstanding work.

Given his history of running and victimizing more people, it seems reasonable for the judge to deny him bail.

 

The Juice is Loose!

In a just world, he would have been executed years ago for killing Nicole and Ron. In our world, we will be inflicted with a media tour to rehabilitate his image.

(CNN)A Nevada parole board granted O.J. Simpson parole on Thursday after the former NFL star apologized for his role in a 2007 armed robbery, said he’d been a model prisoner, and promised that he’d have no conflicts if released.

“I’ve done my time,” he said. “I’ve done it as well and as respectfully as I think anyone can.”
Simpson has served nine years of a nine-to-33-year sentence for an armed robbery and kidnapping in Las Vegas. He is expected to be released as early as October, and said he plans to move to his home in Florida.
[…]
At the same time, he repeatedly deflected taking full responsibility for that Vegas crime and avoided any mention of his infamous 1995 acquittal for the slayings of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.

West Bend Car Jacking Suspect Was Just Released

This is unacceptable.

MILWAUKEE — A convicted carjacker is accused of doing it again — targeting a 75-year-old woman in a grocery store parking lot, just after he was released from custody.

19-year-old Rakeem Woodley is wanted for the carjacking Tuesday morning, July 18th in West Bend. Investigators say he grabbed the keys from the woman’s hand, and took off in her vehicle. It happened at the Piggly Wiggly store near E. Washington and Stockhausen Lane around 7:00 a.m.

It’s not his first time committing this type of crime, investigators say.

Court records show in April of 2016, he committed a similar crime at the Milwaukee Salvation Army on Brown Deer Road — hopping in the backseat of a vehicle, and telling the driver “give me the keys or I’ll blow your head off.”

Woodley was arrested days later, in another stolen vehicle, after fleeing from police. He was sentenced to one year in prison and two years extended supervision. He was given credit for the 285 days he spent behind bars, awaiting his sentence.

It’s only a matter of time until this crook hurts or kills someone – if he hasn’t already. Clearly, our laws or the application of them is inadequate.

Guy Arrested After Reporting Bad Batch of Meth

But the D.A. didn’t want to prosecute?

A La Crosse man was arrested for possessing methamphetamine after he allegedly called police to report buying a bad batch of meth.

Police responded to a call Thursday afternoon and found Kevin Reffruschinni in the parking lot of the Fiesta Mexicana restaurant on Mormon Coulee road.

According to police reports, Reffruschinni, 48, said he was high and didn’t want “the kids” to get a hold of the meth, which he said was in a suitcase stashed near adjacent railroad tracks. Officers found meth in three aluminum foil wrappers in a front pocket of the suitcase.

 Reffruschinni, of 2419 George Place, was arrested on suspicion of possessing meth and bail jumping, although the La Crosse County District Attorney’s office declined to file charges Monday.

Appeals Court Upholds Wisconsin’s Right to Work Law

Excellent!

MADISON, Wis. – Moments ago, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld Wisconsin’s Right-to-Work law in International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139 v. Schimel, affirming the decision of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

Attorney General Brad Schimel hailed the decision.

“The decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirms what we have argued since this law was enacted in 2015, that Right-to-Work is constitutional. The Constitution does not protect a union’s right to take money from non-union members and I’m proud to have defended the rule of law in Wisconsin.”

Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules on Open Meetings

Excellent! There seems to be a trend of school boards trying to do more and more in the dark. We need to be vigilant about pushing that trend back.

MADISON – The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday ruled Appleton school officials violated the open meetings law when they reviewed a freshman reading class behind closed doors.

The unanimous decision by Justice Michael Gableman reversed two lower court rulings. The case now returns to Waupaca Circuit Court for further proceedings.

SCOTUS protects free speech

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. Here you go:

With the rush of news lately about Obamacare, Brexit, Trump and everything else happening in our world, one can be forgiven for missing that the Supreme Court of the United States rendered what may prove to be one of its most important decisions protecting the free speech rights of Americans. The background of the case stretches back into decades of American progressive culture.

For decades, many American liberals who preach fidelity to the 1st Amendment and free speech have been carving out more and more speech as unworthy of such protection. In the past, the answer to offensive speech was more speech. Americans were certainly free to say nasty things and express abhorrent thoughts, and other Americans would respond with contrary speech. Such debate is an underpinning of a free society.

Liberals in America have been slowly eroding that robust intellectual ethos by decreeing that some speech is so offensive that the speaker must not be allowed to say it or face severe penalties if they do. This anti-free speech attitude has manifested in our American culture in the form of safe spaces, trigger words, speech codes and the like. On many college campuses and other liberal institutions, the price for saying something that does not please the ruling regime — from Marquette University to ESPN — is ostracism, reprimand, and expulsion.

It was in this intolerant culture that Barack Obama and many his fellow travelers were incubated and they brought it with them when Obama became our president. It was just that sort of intolerance that seeped into the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

The USPTO has a very simple purpose. It to register the unique intellectual property of individual Americans. The USPTO is not responsible for enforcing trademarks or copyrights. It is merely an office that evaluates a trademark or invention to determine if it is unique, and if it is, to register it in an official government record. If a person has a trademark or copyright that they think is being violated, then that person must file a civil suit in federal or state court to have the court enforce it.

Under the Obama Administration, the USPTO tried to stretch its mission to not just register unique trademarks,but to enforce a liberal speech code on them and prohibit trademarks that they did not like. Under the auspices of a “disparagement clause,” the USPTO had taken to denying trademarks that would normally qualify, but were deemed “offensive” to some real or mythical constituency.

Such were the rubrics that a band called “The Slants” confronted when trying to register the name of their band. The USPTO denied their application for a trademark because the word “slant” is considered a derogatory term for Asians. The Slants are a group of Asian-Americans who are determined to reclaim anti-Asian stereotypes, so they filed suit against the USPTO to have their name protected. The end result was the Supreme Court ruling of last week in the case of Matal v. Tam.

In a unanimous 8-0 decision, the Supreme Court utterly repudiated the USPTOs position. In a clear, uncompromising ruling supported by the entire spectrum of judicial philosophies on the court, Justice Alito said that “Speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful; but the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express ‘the thought that we hate.’” Indeed. There was a time when all Americans believed that.

The Supreme Court’s ruling has drawn a line across which government entities may not cross. This has implications across our nation in government offices, public universities, and every other area where our government has been firmly pushing the 1st Amendment into a small, controlled, “safe space.” Moving forward, every effort by public institutions to restrict and control speech must be measured against this ruling. Many of them will find themselves failing to meet its standard and Americans must hold them to account.

SCOTUS Takes Up Religious Freedom Case

Excellent. Let’s hope that the court reaffirms our religious liberties.

Washington (CNN)The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a religious liberty case concerning a Colorado cake artist who refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding reception, claiming that to do so violated his religious liberty under the Constitution.

The Court will take up the case, Masterpiece v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in its next term, which starts in October.

SCOTUS Allows Part of Travel Ban to Go Into Effect

Boy… there’s a lot of SCOTUS news happening at the moment. Now there’s this:

The justices granted parts of his administration’s emergency request to put the March 6 executive order into effect immediately while the legal battle continues.

The court said that the travel ban is in effect “with respect to foreign nationals who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

The court also said it would allow a 120-day ban on all refugees entering the United States to go into effect on the same grounds.

Three of the court’s conservatives said they would have granted Trump’s request in full, including Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch.

While I think it is important that this issue be resolved by the courts to reaffirm the President’s authority in these matters, I am left wondering why the ban is still necessary. Remember that this was supposed to be a temporary ban while the administration firmed up its vetting procedures for foreigners traveling to the U.S. Those new vetting procedures should be in place now, thus rendering the temporary travel ban moot. If those procedures aren’t ready and in place, why not? That was, after all, the long-term goal.

Kennedy to Retire?

We seem to get this scuttlebutt every year. With Trump in the White House, the media establishment is in full panic over even the whiff of another SCOTUS retirement. Trump’s past pick was solid, so I’m hopeful that the rumors are true.

(CNN)The final week of the Supreme Court session opens Monday, and with it comes rampant speculation that Justice Anthony Kennedy may call it quits.

If Kennedy does announce his retirement, it would almost certainly ensure not only a clear rightward swing in the Court but would also cement a major part of Donald Trump’s legacy barely five months into his first term.

Philando Castile Shooting Dashcam Video

Now that the trial is complete, the have released the dashcam video. You can view it here.

My opinion that the jury got the decision right stands. This is a case where details matter. When you see the incident unfold, it is a normal traffic stop and nobody seems particularly agitated. Then Castile says this:

dashcam

After that, the officer tells him not to reach for it. While the video does not show what’s happening inside the car, everyone agrees that Castile was reaching for something. The officer repeats his order to not reach for it. Castile keeps reaching. The officer opens fire.

While Castile did not tell the officer he had a firearm in an aggressive way, he said it and then began reaching for something. That was the fatal mistake. The officer has to react based on his actions – not on what he said. The evidence is that Castile said he had a gun and then began reaching. It was a horrible, tragic mistake. It is also a mistake that one wonders if it might have been avoided had Castile not been high on pot at the time.

Officer Acquitted In Killing of Philando Castile

This case is very troubling.

The jury of 12, including two black people, had to sort through the competing narratives. Both prosecutors and defense lawyers said the video footage supported their version of events.

At Officer Yanez’s trial, in this small courtroom in downtown St. Paul, defense lawyers made repeated mention of Mr. Castile’s and Ms. Reynolds’s use of marijuana. The drug was found in Mr. Castile’s car after the shooting, and Mr. Gray said that Mr. Castile had been under the influence of marijuana and delayed in his reactions at the time of the shooting.

“We’re not saying that Philando Castile was going to shoot Officer Yanez,” Mr. Gray said. “What we’re saying is that he did not follow orders. He was stoned.”

But Mr. Paulsen, the prosecutor, said that version of events was contradicted by video. He said footage showed that Mr. Castile was driving normally, pulled over quickly and was alert and courteous when talking to Officer Yanez. He accused the defense of blaming the victim.

“He offered no resistance,” Mr. Paulsen said of Mr. Castile. “He made no threats. He didn’t even complain about being stopped for such a minor offense.”

In the end, I think the jury got it right. While I think a preponderance of the evidence points to wrongdoing on the part of the officer, there isn’t enough evidence to meet the threshold of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The details really matter in this case.

First, Castile properly declared that he had a gun in the vehicle. He did it calmly, but he did not specify that he had a concealed carry permit. Such a declaration does indicate that he was not trying to be deceptive, but it also puts the officer on edge.

I have been pulled over more than once when carrying a firearm. I was instructed to behave in a way that was as non-threatening as possible. I turn on the dome light and keep my hands on the steering wheel. When the officer asks for my ID, I present it with my concealed carry license. At this point, the officer usually asks if I am carrying and where the firearm is. Then we go about our business. I had one officer in Texas once ask me to surrender my firearm for the duration of the stop, which I did. He returned it at the end of the process and we were both on our way. At no point do I ever utter the words, “I have a gun.” Even when said nicely and calmly, such a declaration has ominous overtones. That being said, Castile’s action was ill-advised, but shouldn’t have gotten him killed.

Second, it seems clear that Castile was stoned. That, in and of itself, is also no reason to shoot him, but it would make his behavior unusual. If he was moving erratically, speaking oddly, and reached for something, it would not be unreasonable for the officer to read malicious intent in Castile’s behavior – especially when the officer was already suspicious that Castile might have just committed a robbery.

Third, the officer could have been much clearer with his instructions. When Castile informed him that he was armed, the officer could have queried him about it more. And if the officer already thought that Castile might be a threat, he should have clearly instructed him to remain completely still.

In the end, it looks like a series of poor decisions and misinterpreted actions led to the officer killing Castile. It should not have happened, but I lean toward thinking that the jury got it right. I suspect that a civil suit will have different results.

SCOTUS Upholds 1st Amendment

Excellent.

“The disparagement clause violates the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his opinion for the court. Contrary to the Government’s contention, trademarks are private, not government speech.”

Now it is time for other government bodies (looking at you, public universities) to end their prohibitive practices that ban certain words and phrases.

SCOTUS Issues Stay in Redistricting Case

Excellent. Our State AG is pleased.

MADISON, Wis. – By a vote of 5-4, the Supreme Court of the United States this morning granted Attorney General Brad D. Schimel’s application for a stay in the redistricting case, Gill v. Whitford. Earlier today, the Court agreed to hear the case, which is expected to be scheduled for oral argument during the term starting in October 2017.

The stay prevents implementation of the three-judge panel’s ruling, which would have required the Wisconsin Legislature to redraw district maps in the coming months.

Attorney General Brad Schimel released the following statement in response.

”The stay is particularly important because it preserves the Legislature’s time, effort, and resources while this case is pending. In our stay application, I argued that requiring the Legislature to re-draw district maps this year would have been a waste of resources. I also argued that it was likely that the lower court’s decision would be eventually overturned. I am pleased that the Court granted our request on this important issue.”

SCOTUS to Rule on Wisconsin District Lines

It’s interesting how the reporter in this story frames the story.

The U.S. Supreme Court could announce as soon as Monday how it’s handling a landmark legal fight over Wisconsin’s gerrymandered political map, which has helped lock in legislative majorities for the GOP since it took power in 2011.

The key legal question: Can a set of political districts be so stacked toward one party that it violates the Constitution?

Until the court speaks, that is unsettled law.

But while the law is uncertain, the politics are quite clear.

Legislative boundaries like Wisconsin’s present a stark civics question:

How meaningful are elections when control of the legislature in a competitive state is largely predetermined by the way the districts are drawn?

One might also ask, “how meaningful are elections when the party that is elected to control the legislature is stripped of the power to draw districts as they have done for the last 150 years?”

I guess we’ll see.

Justice Gableman Will Not Run for Reelection

Thank you for your service, Justice Gableman.

Conservative Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman announced Thursday he will not seek re-election next year, saying he is “more hopeful than ever in the triumph of the rule of law in Wisconsin.”

Gableman’s statement did not explicitly address whether he will fill out the rest of his term, which ends in August 2018. But a spokesman said it was his understanding that Gableman plans to complete his term.

The justice said in the statement he trusts “the people of Wisconsin will elect a successor who is similarly committed to the rule of law.”

Gableman said he ran nine years ago believing that “judges ought to apply the law rather than make it.”

“In decisions large and small, I have fulfilled my promises and put my judicial philosophy into practice,” Gableman said in the statement.

Vikings Slasher Pleads No Contest

It does beg the question… if the case had gone to trial, would a jury of Packers fans have convicted him?

A Madison man pleaded no contest Monday to misdemeanor battery and disorderly conduct charges for slashing the face of a Stoughton man who was trying to defend his inflatable Minnesota Vikings lawn decoration from vandalism.

Jacob A. Justice, 22, faces up to 15 months in jail on each of the battery convictions and up to six months for the disorderly conduct conviction when he is sentenced at a later date by Circuit Judge Nicholas McNamara.

Justice was arrested on Oct. 9 after he fought with Vikings fan David Moschel in the yard of Moschel’s home in the 700 block of South Van Buren Street in Stoughton. According to a criminal complaint, Moschel said he caught Justice cutting a hole in the large, inflated figure, and when he confronted Justice a fight ensued. Moschel received eight cuts, mostly to his face and head, requiring 67 stitches and eight staples, the complaint states.

593f140ae5aec-image

Jury Rules Against Retired Teachers

Good. This is an important case.

WEST BEND –  A lawyer for 90 retired Germantown teachers asked a jury Monday to award them more than $9 million in damages from their former employer, who the retirees say took their affordable long-term care insurance in a political power play after passage of Wisconsin’s Act 10 law.

The district’s attorney urged jurors to reject liability under all three of the plaintiffs’ theories. “They ignored it (a warning that the insurance plan could terminate) and now they want to blame the school district,” Kevin Pollard said.

The lawyers’ closing arguments came after a weeklong trial, but it took the jury just an afternoon to decide the district owed nothing to the retirees.

Basically, here’s the deal… nearly 20 years ago, the Germantown school district agreed to give the employees long-term care insurance. As part of that, employees who retired were allowed to continue to purchase the same insurance at the same rate as current employees. After Act 10 empowered the school board, they revised their benefits package and eliminated the long-term care insurance option, thus also eliminating it for retirees. The insurance company, WEA Trust, would allow the retirees to maintain their insurance if they paid all of the premiums up front – about $35k – but many of the retirees couldn’t afford it continue the coverage.

The retirees’ argument was essentially that once a benefit was granted, the school board and taxpayers were obligated to continue that benefit for all time. Obviously, if the retirees were successful in their argument, it would severely limit the ability of school boards to make adjustments to benefit packages over time to manage costs and expectations. Such a ruling would have also hurt future employees because it would have discouraged school boards from ever offering additional benefits. After all, would you want to offer a creative new benefit if you knew that it would obligate the taxpayers to pay that benefit for eternity? Also, if a benefit granted can never be rescinded, school boards would have a hard time replacing one benefit with another one that the employees want more.

Thankfully, the jury had some common sense.

AGs Sue Trump

While the suit is clearly grandstanding and another symptom of Democrats trying to overturn an election that they lost, I’m interested in seeing the case progress. The first question I wonder is whether or not these Attorneys General have standing?

The state of Maryland and the District of Columbia plan to sue President Trump on Monday, alleging that he has violated the Constitution by accepting foreign money through his business empire, according to a person familiar with the plans.

The attorneys general of Maryland and D.C., both Democrats, have scheduled a news conference for noon ET in Washington.

The suit, to be filed in federal court in Maryland, will allege that Trump has violated the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, which prohibits the president from accepting payments from foreign governments without the consent of Congress, according to the person.

Leaker Charged

Good.

(CNN)The Justice Department announced charges Monday against a federal contractor with Top Secret security clearance, after she allegedly leaked classified information to an online media outlet.

Reality Leigh Winner, 25, a contractor with Pluribus International Corporation in Georgia, is accused of “removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet,” according to a federal complaint.
CNN is told by sources that the document Winner allegedly leaked is the same one used as the basis for the article published Monday by The Intercept, detailing a classified National Security Agency memo. The NSA report, dated May 5, provides details of a 2016 Russian military intelligence cyberattack on a US voting software supplier, though there is no evidence that any votes were affected by the hack.
I don’t care if it’s a first offense. I don’t care what her motives were. This was classified information and she knew the rules. We must throw the book at her. This is a time when the prosecution is not only about punishing this perpetrator, but about sending a stern message to other potential leakers that we take our national secrets seriously and the punishment for leaking them is severe.