Denver DA Stretches Logic with No Charges in Cheerleader Stretching Incident.

Something about the Denver DA’s decision not to file charges in the case of Denver East High cheerleaders being forced into the splits stretches credulity. Last summer, a disturbing phone video hit social media and then news channels showing a high school coach, helped by team members, forcing young women in obvious pain down into a split position. One athlete, 13-year old Ally Wakefield was in obvious agony, and cried out “please stop” nine times. The forced stretching tore ligaments and muscle tissue. She required medical treatment and months of physical therapy. This disturbing 30-second video shows her ordeal.

 

 

A parent’s letter of complaint to Denver Public Schools took months to prompt DPS to investigate. Only after news stations got involved did officials take action against several involved parties. Five East High and DPS employees, including one of the district’s lawyers, were placed on leave. Ultimately, the coach was fired, and East High’s principal and athletic director resigned. Three ousters and administrative disciple of a district lawyer raise obvious and still unanswered questions about the chain of events and the far reaching ripple effects.

The Denver Police Department and DA’s office opened an investigation last August. On Saturday, October 14, the DA’s office released a statement on its website that no charges would be filed.  If Friday night is the traditional dumping ground for releasing embarrassing political stories, Saturday must really be the hoped for graveyard of bad news. DA Beth McCann’s full statement announced:

The video of the incident involving the injured student that has been widely disseminated is painful to watch. However, after a very thorough and careful review of all of the evidence gathered in the investigation and the statements of many members of the cheerleading squad, I have concluded that the evidence does not support the filing of criminal charges. In order to prove a charge of criminal behavior, the case must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

 

There are differing opinions regarding the use of this technique of cheerleading training. While I believe the technique should not be used, that is not the standard of proof for a criminal case. Most of the cheerleading squad participated in the technique that day, and there are differing accounts of the circumstances.

 

The individual involved should not be a coach in high school sports and he no longer is. The principal and athletic director of the school have retired and resigned. The message should be clear that this type of technique has no place in high school cheerleading coaching. The bad judgment of the coach, however, does not constitute a prosecutable crime.

Several things are remarkable about the statement. First, it asserts that use of the technique in the video is subject to opinion and debate. However, she asserts, the man who committed the acts should not be a coach, and now, she reassures, he’s not. Two other jobs also were ended for good measure. These sound like dire consequences for something that ostensibly is debatable.

DA McCann allows in her own view the stretching technique was inappropriate, but then asserts that that is not the legal standard, which is, that evidence must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. That is an illogical connection. First, despite McCann’s reference to “differing accounts, the evidence of what happened is irrefutable. It was witnessed by millions. Second, the patent unreasonableness of what happened in the gym that day is evidenced by public outrage and three terminations. Further, it’s unclear what differing opinions McCann might have received, but if prosecutors want expert opinion on the reasonableness of the actions, they can consult NFL cheerleader Bria Petty who says this is awful and in all her years in the sport, she has never seen anything close to it. Or they can consult Dr. David Jewison, a team physician for several Division I college sport teams, who says it is absolutely wrong and inappropriate.

Finally, if the DA’s office wants to trifle with something as technical and irrelevant as the applicable law, they should peruse Colorado’s statutory definition of assault, which occurs when “a person knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person.”

This disturbing case raises several questions that need answers from DPS and the the Denver DA. Why were the athletic director and the principal implicated in the supposedly isolated bad judgment of a coach? How did a district lawyer fall under suspicion and scrutiny? Why is the video evidence of what happened and an athlete’s documented injury insufficient to charge a case and take it to a jury?

 

Stay Armed My Friends, Especially Against Intellectual Muggings

New York Times columnist Brett Stephens, long of the Wall Street Journal, appeals: “Repeal the Second Amendment.” The Federalist’s David Harsanyi answers: “Come and get them, Brett Stephens.”

This is a fantastic clash. Stephens makes a seemingly plausible case for sweeping gun control here. Harsanyi demolishes it here.

Harsanyi shows why it’s always good to carry solid ammunition. You never know where you might be mugged, by whom.

Las Vegas and When Angry Emojis Turn Sad

So far there are 50 reported dead and hundreds injured. Sometimes when words fail, or an expression of emotion suffices, I will click on one of the emoticons on a friend’s post to express “happy” or “angry” or “sad.” It means someone saw their expression, and responded with his feeling about the subject.That’s what I often do regarding horrible events.
 
For some time, my reaction to news of an atrocity has been “angry.” How could someone do that to other people? This is ugly and outrageous. I want to express the resolve of defense, of resistance, of opposition. But, as the heedless coldness keeps spreading  around us, keeps taking more lives, my feeling is sliding toward sad. There isn’t just this bad guy or that to shake a fist at. There is a sick society.
 
Why do so many hate? What is producing this inhuman behavior? What can be done? Certainly there is place for anger, and it will be felt. But at some point, you have to look around at your fellow man and wonder with Gordon Lightfoot where the love of God goes. Not that it’s God’s fault, but where does the love go? Where does the darkness come from?

On the Rogue Cop and the Reasonable Nurse, Salt Lake City is Making the Bleeding Worse

So far, Salt Lake City’s response to the rogue cop, Jeff Payne, who manhandled Alex Wubbles, the professional and respectful nurse who refused him access to take the blood of an unconscious accident victim raises more questions than it answers.The questions are serious and go to the competence and integrity of the Police Department.
 
Salt Lake Mayor Jackie Biskupski and Police Chief Mike Brown gave puzzling and unsatisfactory explanations at their Friday press conference. Biskuski said she did not want  “an entire police department to be painted in a bad light due to the actions of one individual. Clearly we believe the actions of this individual were not justified.” But, in fact this episode does paint the entire department in a bad light, starting with the explanation offered by Chief Brown, who stated:
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To date, we have suspended the officer from the blood draw program. We have already replaced our blood draw policy with a new policy. All remaining officers on the blood draw program have reviewed, and are operating under the new policy and protocol.
.The Chief’s statement raises at least the following questions:
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Whether the arrest was lawful or not, the nurse was calm and professional. The cop escalated the situation with a sudden outburst of temper and force in a hospital ER room. Why was that not grounds for immediate suspension? What possible justification could any “investigation” uncover for his brutish behavior?
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Removing Detective Payne from the blood-draw program seems like the merest of administrative wrist slaps. What assurance do Salt Lake residents have that Payne will not be in a position to abuse his authority in other ways? (Under mounting public pressure, Salt Lake City Police Department later announced that Payne has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation).
 
Payne spoke by phone or radio with his commanding officer, a lieutenant at the station who instructed Payne to arrest Wubbels if she did not allow him to draw blood. If Payne’s action was improper, so was the lieutenant’s direction. What accountability does he have? What consequences might he face?
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Nurse Wubbels was on the phone with a hospital official who advised Payne “he was making a big mistake.” Wubbels further rehearsed to Payne the terms of an “agreement” between the hospital and the Department: Blood may only be withdrawn with a warrant, or with the person’s consent, or if the person is under arrest. Why were these communications not a very serious check on Payne and the lieutenant to make further inquiry before slapping cuffs on an on-duty nurse?
 
Is there a Memorandum of Understanding between the hospital and the Department on this issue? Did Wubbels accurately summarize its terms, demonstrating knowledge of the blood draw rules superior to the Department’s trained phlebotomist?
 
Announcing that the blood draw policy was immediately changed is problematic and raises further questions. Did the lieutenant’s orders, and Payne’s arrest comply with the policy, or did they violate it? If they complied, then the policy itself was seriously flawed. Is it reasonable to single out Payne for disapproval and sanction for obeying a direct order consistent with Department policy? What about the Department’s responsibility to have sound materials and training?
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If they violated the policy, then what problems or errors it required amending? What changes were made? Will the department publicly release the former and revised versions of the policy? Will there be review or accountability for the authors of the policy? Or for the officials or City legal staff who approved the policy?
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What training programs and review protocols does the Department have in place to ensure that officer knowledge and written policies and manuals reflect current legal and Constitutional standards?
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Before public outrage forced Payne’s suspension, who made the decision to leave him on active duty, with removal from on-the-job phlebotomy as the only current consequence? This incident obviously touched a sensitive nerve for the viewing public, but appears initially to have triggered a lesser reaction with the brass. How can the public be confident that the Salt Lake City Police Department is mindful of and protective of the rights of all citizens?
 
 

Violence is Anti-hate and Peaceful is Far Right–The Washington Post Gets in Touch With Its Inner Orwell.

There was more Leftist violence in Berkeley yesterday. But the media is doing its best to blur and control the narrative. According to the Washington Post, black-clad Antifa members, armed with sticks and shields are really “anti-hate” protesters, who jumped barriers and attacked a “peaceful” “far right” rally while Berkeley police largely stood aside. 
 
Read the article and see if you can figure out how Antifa earns the moniker “anti-hate” or what makes the admittedly peaceful marchers who got attacked “far right.” Maybe it’s that their march was to say “No to Marxism.” Shriek. Apparently, in Berkeley and the editorial offices of the Washington Post, that position makes them Aryan skinheads. But, at least the Post admitted they were peaceful and the violence started when the Antifa “anti-hate” protesters went on the attack.
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Other media joined in the obfuscation, calling Antifa–which rejects capitalism and advocates communism–an “anarchist” group. It’s not clear how activists who want the government to control property, production, and distribution can be considered anarchists, unless all anarchist means these days is people who want to blow up American constitutional government and replace it with their utopian vision of government. Orwell should charge posthumous royalties.

 

Trump’s Arpaio Pardon–the Right Call; Here’s Why.

President Trump’s pardon of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was reasonable and appropriate. In short, it was a political resolution to a political standoff. It was the last card in a clash instigated by the political policies of the prior US Administration, the political policies of an Arizona Sheriff, the political overreach of federal trial judges, and the trump card of a new president whose policies aligned with the sheriff rather than the prior administration.
 
Before I try to break all that down, let me acknowledge that the instant eruption of hot argument over the pardon is mostly detached from the facts that make up the story. Rather, it simply reflects a clash of two narratives. A) Vigorous border enforcement good; Obama administration weak; Arpaio a brave soldier; Presidential pardon good. vs. B) Vigorous border enforcement racist and xenophobic; Arpaio racist; Disobeys lawful court order; Lock him up.
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First, and to be revisited later, Arpaio was not convicted by a jury of violating any law. He was sanctioned by a judge for disobeying the judge’s order. Those circumstances dispose of much normal due process, and essentially make the judge, judge, jury, and executioner. The bigger issue is that Trump critics believe this action just confirms his alleged racism and lawlessness, and are rushing to make it the next impeachment level frenzy. Let me also disclaim that I am writing this on the fly, working from recollection, and will need to go back to document and substantiate with links and possibly submit for outside publishing.
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The merits here are more nuanced than the clashing narratives admit. Arpaio went out of retirement from law enforcement in 1992 to run for sheriff precisely to address what Maricopa perceived as a problem of rampant crime and lax border enforcement. President Obama’s record on immigration is complex and debated. Some, including Obama and his defenders when it’s convenient, cite a high level of deportations. However, if accurate, those numbers reflect not border security, but a focus on illegal immigrants who have violated criminal laws. The border itself, critics charge, became increasingly porous and in places in Texas and Arizona, a virtual lawless no man’s land and sometimes warzone.
 
The federal government has legal authority over immigration policy and enforcement. But, two complications come into play here. First, the policy and its enforcement should reflect the statutory law of the land, and not purely the whims of the current administration. Many in Arizona believed they were being neglected and sacrificed to the administration’s desire not to police and interdict border crossers.
 
Second, state and local law enforcement cannot establish or execute immigration policy, but, they have had the long recognized authority, when they come into contact with people illegally present in the US, to detain the people and hold them for apprehension by federal authorities. Arpaio was an enthusiast of this practice. The Obama administration was not an enthusiast of retrieving all the detainees Arpaio wanted it to claim. Among other related issues, it became something of a festering debate between Arizona and the United States, Arizona’s position being: “Enforce the damn law!” and the Administration’s position being: “We are the law.” Recall the spectacle of the faceoff between Obama and Governor Jan Brewer at the airport. Some of the coverage embarrassed the administration. Most of it was designed to embarrass Arizona and to demonize Arpaio.
 
In 2007, I believe, Arpaio had improperly detained for eight hours a Mexican immigrant who actually held a valid travel visa. The immigrant sued Arpaio for civil rights violations. The Obama administration intervened in the lawsuit and basically tried to tie Arpaio’s hands. Claiming absolute authority over immigration policy, the administration argued, and the judge bought, that Arizona had no authority detain people simply because of their illegal presence in Arizona. The administration asked for and the judge entered an order barring Arpaio from detaining illegal immigrants and trying to present them to ICE to take into custody.
 
This was essentially a lawless order constituting an “Arpaio Exception.” Any other police or sheriff department in the land could, when contacting an illegal immigrant in the course of ordinary law enforcement, whether traffic, domestic, or criminal, hold that person and notify the feds. But now, not Joe.
 
Arpaio’s Department said: “That’s nuts. We’re going to keep doing it.” And announced to the public they were going to keep doing it. And so, the clash between the sheriff and the feds continued for a number of years. Obama’s DOJ sought and obtained a finding of civil contempt against Arpaio. Arpio pressed on. Obama’s DOJ sought a criminal contempt citation. The first judge referred the matter for hearing to a different judge. In typically slimy political mode, DOJ brought the criminal complaint weeks before Arpaio’s run for reelection in 2016. Trial to a judge, not a jury, was in late October. Arpaio was convicted and lost reelection in early November. Trump won election the same day, in part running for strong border enforcement and against Obama’s immigration policies. The proceedings continued till the present and the 85 year old Arpaio was about to be sentenced, until Trump yesterday pardoned him.
 
People can and will think what they want about Arpaio and about Trump. As for the disposition of this case, I believe it was the right political outcome of a thoroughly political clash and that Arpaio does not belong in jail.
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