The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Monday night suspended Justice Seamus McCaffery, who last week publicly apologized for exchanging hundreds of sexually explicit emails with state attorney general staffers, reports the Lehigh Valley Morning Call. The court said it was suspending McCaffery with pay to "protect and preserve the integrity" of the state's judicial system and called on the independent Judicial Conduct Board to complete an investigation in 30 days.
McCaffery, of Philadelphia, has called the email scandal a "cooked-up controversy" that is part of a "vindictive pattern of attacks" on him by Chief Justice Ron Castille. In his opinion Monday, Castille suggested that McCaffery displays "pathological symptoms [that] describe a sociopath" who blames others for his "transgressions." The Morning Call on Oct. 2 disclosed McCaffery's role in an email porn scandal that has gripped Pennsylvania. Castille described the 234 sexually explicit emails he reviewed as "highly demeaning portrayals of … women, elderly persons and uniformed school girls."
Americans are "too celebratory" about gains in civil rights, legal advocate Bryan Stevenson tells Terry Gross on NPR's "Fresh Air." He says the U.S. criminal justice system is rife with racial prejudice that demands diligent attention. Stevenson, executive director of the Montgomery, Ala.-based Equal Justice Initiative, helped exonerate Walter McMillian, a black man who was wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to death in Alabama. Stevenson is the author of a new memoir, "Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.'
He tells Gross, "We're too celebratory of civil rights these days. We have these 50th anniversaries and everyone is happy and everybody is celebrating. Nobody is talking about the hardship. It's almost as if the civil rights movement was this three-day event: On Day 1, Rosa Parks didn't give up her seat on the bus. On Day 2, [the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.] led a march on Washington. And on the third day, we signed all of these laws. And if you think about that history in that way, you minimize the trauma, the damage, the divides that were created. You can't segregate and humiliate people decade after decade without creating long-lasting injuries."
U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman has dismissed a lawsuit brought by 100 Seattle police officers seeking to block the new federally mandated use-of-force policies for officers in that city, reports the Seattle Times. She wrote that the new policies seem reasonable "to avoid a pattern or practice of excessive use of force” by police. The officers contended the policies are overly restrictive, violating their constitutional right to self-defense and use of their guns while putting them and the public in danger.
City attorneys argued the officers had resorted to “reckless hyperbole,” misstating policies that allow for flexibility and reasonable judgment. Pechman, who heard oral arguments Oct. 9 on motions to dismiss the suit, said the officers’ arguments were unfounded in both case law and the Constitution. The new policies, which went into effect Jan. 1, were adopted as part of a 2012 federal consent decree to curtail excessive force and biased policing.
All 11 state prison facilities in New Mexico were locked down Monday as part of a hunt for contraband, reports the Albuquerque Journal. Prison officials said staff members would search every inmate and housing unit for illegal items and review the conditions of buildings.
Officials say inmates and their families have tried in recent months to smuggle Suboxone, a drug that treats opiate addiction, into prisons using various methods, such as on the back of stamps or in children’s coloring books. Officials said inmates use the drug or sell it to other prisoners. The lockdown will be lifted once all facilities have been inspected, officials said. All visits were canceled until the lockdown ends.
Cincinnati’s police reform after a deadly police shooting and riots in 2001 has lessons for Ferguson and St. Louis, reports St. Louis Public Radio. Here is what the Cincinnati reformers say: Police reform will take a long time – many years, not many months. A Justice Department investigation, such as the one under way in Ferguson, is necessary but not sufficient to bring about lasting reform. The Justice Department goes away after five years. An enforceable court order will be necessary to make sure changes are implemented. A new policing strategy is also needed to bring the police and community together. The reforms should include transparency when police shoot civilians, an early warning system to identify troubled officers, new policies minimizing use of force, a civilian review board and video and audio on police cars and officers.
The use of force by the Cincinnati police department has decreased to 22 incidents in 2013 from 145 incidents in 2002 when the collaborative agreement was implemented. The essentials include court enforced agreement; transparency, an early warning system of police who get many complaints or repeatedly violate policies; citizen complaint authority at a citizen board with investigative and subpoena powers; problem-oriented policing to determine specific crime problems instead of just reacting to the police radio; a mental health response team; new policies on the use of force and foot chases; and v ideo cameras on police cruisers, body microphones on officers.
The number of federal investigations into college handling of sexual violence reports jumped 50 percent in the past six...
Authorities said today they had discovered the bodies of three more women in Gary, In., after the weekend confession by a 43-year-old man who told police he had killed "several" women in northwest Indiana, reports USA Today. The Lake County coroner's office said the women were were found in two different locations. The coroner called the three new deaths all homicides, with one victim strangled and unspecified injuries for the other two women.
Police in Hammond, In., were led to the man, who has not yet been formally charged and authorities aren't naming, after finding the body of Afrika Hardy, 19, at a motel there on Friday. She had been strangled, Hammond's mayor, Thomas McDermott Jr., described the suspect on his Facebook page as an "admitted serial killer" and "convicted sexual offender." McDermott also wrote that the suspect told police of the location of another victim, and that he admitted "to a couple of homicides in Hammond back in 94 or 95."
A new database of New Yorkers deemed too mentally unstable to carry firearms has grown to 34,500 names, a figure that has raised concerns among mental health advocates that too many people have been categorized as dangerous, the New York Times reports. The database, established after the 2012 mass shooting in Newtown, Ct., is the result of the Safe Act. It is an expansive package of gun control measures pushed through by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The law compels licensed mental health professionals in New York to report to the authorities any patient “likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to self or others.”
The number of entries in the database highlights the difficulty of the balancing act between public safety and the right to bear arms when it comes to people with mental health issues. “That seems extraordinarily high to me,” said Sam Tsemberis, a former director of New York City’s involuntary hospitalization program for homeless and dangerous people. “Assumed dangerousness is a far cry from actual dangerousness.” Similar laws in other states have been questioned by gun rights proponents, who worry that people who posed no threat would have their rights infringed. Mental health advocates have also argued that the laws unnecessarily stigmatized people with mental illnesses. Even if just one dangerous person had a gun taken away, “that’s a good thing,” said Brian Malte of the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police use a secretive surveillance system that collects information from cellphones and wireless...
Facebook wants assurances from the Drug Enforcement Administration that it's not operating any more fake profile pages in investigations, the Associated Press reports. Facebook's chief security officer, Joe Sullivan, told DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart that law enforcement agencies need to follow the same rules about being truthful on Facebook as civilian users. Those rules include a ban on lying about who you are.
The letter responded a New York woman's federal lawsuit contending that a DEA agent created a fake online persona using her name and photographs stored on her cellphone. "Facebook has long made clear that law enforcement authorities are subject to these policies," Sullivan wrote. "We regard DEA's conduct to be a knowing and serious breach of Facebook's terms and policies." The Justice Department said that fake profile pages "is not a widespread practice among our federal law enforcement agencies."