Patterico's Pontifications


Legal Help Wanted (Updated)

Filed under: Law — DRJ @ 8:39 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

A Chicago Marine needs some legal advice and BlackFive has the story:

“This ought to make your blood boil. And this Marine should receive a commendation for not kicking the living crap out of the guy…seriously.

Marine Sgt Mike McNulty is on activation orders to Iraq (second tour). On December 1st, 2007, Mike went to visit a friend in Chicago before deploying to say goodbye. In order to get to his friend’s residence, and keep in mind that Chicago is a myriad of diagonal and one-way streets, the front entrance (right way) to the one-way street was blocked. Mike, being a Marine, overcame and adapted by driving around the block to the other end of the street and backing up all the way to his friend’s place.

While saying goodbye, at about 11am, he noticed a man leaning up against his car. Mike left his friend’s apartment and caught the man keying his car on multiple sides.

After caught in the process, the man told Mike, “you think you can do whatever you want with Department of Defense license plates and tags”. (In Illinois you can purchase veteran, Marine, or medal plates. Mike has Illinois Marine Corps license plates.) During the exchange, he made additional anti-military comments.

Mike called the Chicago police and had the man arrested. A citation against the man was issued for misdemeanor criminal damage to private property.

The police report (and I have copies if needed) states:

‘Victim related to P/O that as he walked back to his vehicle, he observed the offender leaning up against his vehicle and rubbed/dragged his left arm and hand across the passenger side. As offender walked away from victim’s vehicle, victim observed a scratch along the rear trunk and passenger’s door area where offender dragged his arm and hand over. Victim and witness stopped offender and confronted him. Victim has military plates and decals on his vehicle and offender made anti war and military comments to victim. Upon P/O’s arrival to scene, offender denied scratch victim’s vehicle, but did admit to rubbing past it. Victim at this time did not sign complaint, because he is leaving tour for military duty. Offender said they accused him of scratching the car because he is Jewish. Offender’s statements/responses to P/O’s questions unreasonable.’

As it turns out, the man is Chicago lawyer Jay R. Grodner, who owns a law firm in the city and has offices in the suburbs.

After sending the car to the body shop, it was determined there is $2400 in damage, making this a felony. Mike went to court Friday morning to collect the damages against Mr. Grodner and file felony charges. Though the damages are over $300 (the amount which determines felony or misdemeanor) Grodner offered Mike to pay his deductible, $100, and have Mike’s insurance pay for it.

The Illinois States Attorneys tried to coerce Mike into accepting the offer. Appalled, Mike said he wanted this to be a felony. The state told Mike that it was not worth pursuing felony damage against Grodner because they don’t have the time. In addition, the state prosecutors told him that he would never it ‘would be difficult to recover the damages’ from Grodner because he is a lawyer.

Instead, the State asked Mike if he would accept probation for Grodner. Mike accepted, probation was offered to Grodner, and Grodner declined the offer, saying within ear shot of Mike, “I’m not going to make it easy on this kid”. Mike’s next court date is tomorrow, Monday, December 31st, to pursue misdemeanor charges against Grodner.

Mike’s leave is over on January 2nd when he reports to Camp Pendleton before heading to Iraq. Jay Grodner knows this and is going to file for a continuance until Mike is gone and cannot appear in court.

By account of the Illinois State’s Attorneys, Grodner is likely to get away with defacing Mike’s car with no penalty because, 1) Mike is about to deploy to Iraq and will not be available to appear in court, and 2) Grodner is a lawyer and can get out of this very easily.

So, does anyone have any ideas about how to proceed? All peaceful and rational ideas are welcomed. We are contacting the media about this, too.

Please pass this story on to anyone you know that might be able to help. Contact me if you have any information or ideas.


Any ideas?

UPDATE 1/1/2008: See Christoph’s comment regarding what happened at Sgt. McNulty’s court hearing yesterday.


Identity Theft, with Fries

Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 8:19 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

An 18-year-old Wendy’s worker in suburban Chicago has been charged in a sophisticated identify theft scam:

“A woman who worked at a suburban Wendy’s fast food restaurant has been charged in a credit card scam. She is accused of dirty dealing when customers used credit cards to pay for food. Investigators said she swiped the card, and a whole lot more.

As CBS 2 West Suburban Bureau Chief Mike Puccinelli reports, authorities say the thefts happened in late September and early October when 18-year-old Tina Swopes was working the drive-up window at the Plainfield Wendy’s at 134th Street and South Route 59.

“We have seven victims that we know of,” said Jim Caliendo of the Plainfield Police Department. Swopes now faces seven counts of identity theft. Caliendo says it was a sophisticated theft operation the likes of which he’s never seen in his 17 years on the force.”

Swopes used a hand-held credit card reading device she kept in her pocket to scan the cards and then later make purchases:

“She had the credit card shimming device in her pocket,” he said. What Swopes had in her pocket was a credit card reading device. They’re available on the Internet for less than $100 in many cases. Police say Swopes would take orders and swipe cards through the restaurant’s credit card reader. Then she’d swipe it through her own credit card reader. After that police say she’d go home and allegedly hook her reader up to her laptop to access the numbers.

“She would download the information in a computer and she would download that information on a dummy credit card where she would make purchases with that credit card,” Caliendo said.”

The police believe Swopes obtained information from 40-50 patrons and have asked victims to come forward. Wendy’s stated it was cooperating with the police and that Ms. Swopes is no longer an employee. (That wasn’t a hard call.)

In an unrelated but not surprising article given this story, identity theft is at an all-time high.


Video Shows Bhutto may have been Killed by Assassin’s Gun

Filed under: International,Terrorism — DRJ @ 7:39 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

New video suggests Benazir Bhutto may have been shot by the black-suited gunman in sunglasses:

This contradicts the repeated claims by the Pakistani government that Bhutto was not shot but instead fractured her skull on the sunroof lever as a result of the suicide bombing. In one sense, it’s not a meaningful distinction. The combination of the gunman and suicide bomber in such close proximity to Bhutto’s vehicle made it more likely she would be assassinated. Nevertheless, photos show the bomb did not breach the vehicle and I’ve read that the other people in the vehicle survived. Thus, had the gunman not been successful, Bhutto might well have survived the bombing.

Of course, there are other more conspiracy-minded theories: What if the gunman and the suicide bomber were not working together? Instead, the gunman who assassinated Bhutto may have been the target of the suicide bomber. This would eliminate the possibility of talking to the assassin and make it harder to ascertain his motivations and determine who supported him. This scenario also suggests that the people behind the assassination were as interested in hiding their involvement as they were in killing Bhutto.

Overall, this is similar to the murder of Ahmad Shah Massoud in Afghanistan on September 9, 2001. Massoud’s al Qaeda and Taliban-linked assassins also used subterfuge to get near him and then to detonate a suicide bomb, either on their persons or in a camera. Like the Bhutto assassination, the timing of that assassination was designed to kill an important leader and to inflict great political damage.

H/T LittleGreenFootballs.


Bhutto’s Son will Succeed Her as Head of PPP

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 2:03 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Sounding more like a monarchy than a political party, the Pakistan People’s Party has announced that Benazir Bhutto’s 19-year-old son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will succeed her as head of the PPP:

“The teeenage son of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto will succeed her as the leader of the country’s largest democratic party, Pakistan People’s Party, the party announced today.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, 19, assumed not just a new political position, but also a new name to include his mother’s last name, a reminder of his tie to the political dynasty that began with his grandfather. He is now the leader — at least nominally — of the largest political party in this turbulent nuclear nation.

The televised news conference held in the Bhuttos’ ancestral home of Naudero, Larkana, was a bizarre and unprecedented spectacle to secure the future of Pakistan’s most prominent political dynasty. When it was announced that the 19-year-old would be the party’s new leader, the crowd erupted in cheers, chanting, “Long live Bhutto.”

The transfer was named in Benazir Bhutto’s Will. Bilawal is not expected to be the Party’s candidate for Prime Minister:

“Benazir Bhutto, the slain former Pakistani prime minister, names her 19-year-old son Bilawal as her successor and the new leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party in her will, and her husband Asif Ali Zardari is expected to act as a kind of regent to him until he comes of age, a close family friend who has read the will told NEWSWEEK on Saturday.

Neither Bilawal nor Zardari, however, is expected to be named as the prime ministerial candidate of the PPP, the friend said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. That honor will go to a senior official, although it is not believed to be Amin Fahim, the vice chairman of the party who served as interim leader during Bhutto’s eight-year exile.”

Bilawal is a first-year student at Oxford. He will follow his mother as head of the PPP, just as she succeeded her father as leader-in-exile of the Party he created:

“Bilawal, who enrolled as a student at Oxford University only this year, is scheduled to read the will himself at a party gathering on Sunday. There is little doubt that he will be accepted by the party rank and file; the PPP has been an all-family affair in Pakistan’s dynastic politics since Benazir Bhutto’s father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, founded it 40 years ago. Bhutto had given herself the title of “chairperson for life” and her only previous public signal as to who she wanted her political heir to be occurred when she sent Bilawal to register to vote for the first time earlier this year.”

In related news, Pakistani election officials will decide tomorrow whether to go forward with the January 8 election. Rioting destroyed polling places and voter registration rolls in 11 districts, and there were security fears in other locations.

The US State Department encouraged Pakistan to go forward with the elections or to name a specific date for elections to be held.


Timothy McVeigh Speaks

Filed under: Terrorism — DRJ @ 12:58 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Stephen Jones, the lead attorney representing Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh, has donated his defense papers to the University of Texas:

Timothy McVeigh sometimes laughed, joked around and appeared to show little remorse as he described for his attorneys his 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, recently discovered defense documents show. Asked in one defense interview whether he was single, he said: “Yes. Any bachelorettes out there?” Another time, he “roared with laughter,” according to the documents. He also said he hoped he would be acquitted and that his trial would embarrass the federal government.

The defense documents were donated to the University of Texas by his lead trial attorney, Stephen Jones of Enid. They include a 246-page transcript of McVeigh’s confidential statement made to Jones in September 1995. The existence of the documents came to light recently.

He once griped that prison guards withheld his Playboy magazine “for two days straight,” the documents show. “Tim was especially anxious to see it because it contains a story about him,” an attorney wrote. “Tim said that the … story in Playboy ‘made me look manly.’

McVeigh showed little or no remorse:

“His attorneys noted in one document he expressed no remorse. His attorneys wrote: “He stated that his conscious mind knew that the people killed in the Oklahoma City bombing had families, that the children killed had mothers, and he fully realizes the consequences of his actions, but he was able to ‘turn it off’ in order to perform his mission. “He stated that the normal emotions and feelings were there inside him, but he was able to cover them up in order to carry out the bombing.”

He is quoted in another defense document, though, as saying, “I know it’s terrible to lose a child, especially (for) a mother. … I empathize with pain. It’s not that I’m callous. Everyone has feelings.”

I can’t imagine a more difficult case or client than these defense counsel faced with McVeigh:

“The documents show McVeigh considered pleading guilty if it would “save” his co-conspirator, Terry Nichols. He was told it would not. He also considered an insanity defense that would claim “McVeigh did not believe it was wrong because he believed he was at war, a war initiated by the government.”

In one of the first interviews, in May 1995, he told his attorneys that he already had received fan mail, including one marriage proposal and $10 in cash.

He told his attorneys he did not know his target, the Murrah Building, had a day care center but that probably would not have deterred him. He said he told friends, Michael and Lori Fortier, that he was aware children may be among the victims.”

McVeigh’s goal was to wake up Americans to the danger posed by their government:

McVeigh also told his attorneys he was disappointed in the reaction to the attack, that he had not woken up Americans.

He gave his attorneys a cartoon of a flock of chickens armed with pitchforks and clubs. The flock is stopped at the door of a farmer’s house. The lead chicken said: “Again? Why is it that the revolution always gets this far and then everyone just chickens out?”

McVeigh wrote underneath the cartoon, “Reflections of my life ….”

This link to McVeigh’s confidential statement made to his attorney paints McVeigh as a remorseless terrorist. (He describes the bombing beginning at page 188.) He justified his acts because the government “drew first blood” in the Waco/Branch Davidian incident, and he was particularly upset that the FBI raised its flag at the compound while there were “charred babies” still inside.

McVeigh also maintained that his only assistance came from Terry Nichols, although defense counsel Jones doubted that. McVeigh failed a lie detector test on that point but he stated that if there had been more conspirators, there would have also been more bombings.


Badger 6 Year in Review

Filed under: Blogging Matters,War — Patterico @ 11:06 am

Badger 6 has posted his Year in Review here.

Bhutto Told British that Musharraf’s Allies were Out to Kill Her

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 10:37 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

First came word of Benazir Bhutto’s email to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer complaining about her security and holding Musharraf responsible in the event of her death. Now the UK’s Daily Mail reports that Bhutto also contacted the British government expressing concern that three senior allies of President Musharraf were out to kill her:

Benazir Bhutto claimed three senior allies of Pakistan’s president General Musharraf were out to kill her in a secret email to Foreign Secretary David Miliband written weeks before her death. Astonishingly, one of them is a leading intelligence officer who was officially responsible for protecting Miss Bhutto from an assassination.

The second is a prominent Pakistani figure, one of whose family members was allegedly murdered by a militant group run by Miss Bhutto’s brother. The third is a well-known chief minister in Pakistan who is a long-standing opponent of Miss Bhutto.”

The Daily Mail article declined to publish the names, perhaps due to the constraints of British libel law, but it provided enough detail that I suspect it would make be easy for people who follow Pakistani politics to identify them. Bhutto apparently made her security concerns known to the British government in September:

“Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Pakistan’s former High Commissioner to the UK and a British-based adviser to Miss Bhutto, said: “She sent an email to the Foreign Office before she returned to Pakistan naming certain people. “In the email, she said, ‘The following persons are planning to murder me and if any harm comes to me they should be held responsible.'”

Miss Bhutto wrote her prophetic email to Mr Miliband in September, shortly after she met him to discuss her return to Pakistan. She named the same three individuals in a letter to General Musharraf in October.”

The article concluded with an allegation that the British government did not take Bhutto’s concerns seriously:

“A senior source said: “She knew the risk she was taking when she decided to go back but also took the precaution of informing the British Government of the names of those she thought presented the biggest danger to her.

“She hoped Mr Miliband would use his influence with General Musharraf to remove certain people from positions where they were able to plot against her. She gave the same names to General Musharraf but she knew there was only a limited possibility of any action being taken.

“She had to rely on Mr Musharraf and countries such as Britain and America, who supported her return and have close connections with Mr Musharraf’s government, to take her concerns seriously. “Events have shown she was right to be worried. If any of the three people she named turn out to have been involved in this assassination, there will be serious repercussions.”

The Mail on Sunday has also learned that after an earlier attempt to assassinate her in October, the Foreign Office told Miss Bhutto to stop making wild allegations against Musharraf – or face greater danger.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “Miss Bhutto had a series of meetings with the Foreign Secretary and other officials. She raised her concerns about particular people and we raised them in turn with the authorities in Pakistan and asked them to put in place more strict security measures to protect her.”

The article also reprinted photos of one of the suspected killers, a man dressed a black suit wearing sunglasses and pointing a gun. Other sources printed a photo of a second man in white who was standing near the first and who reportedly detonated a suicide bomb.

I assume Bhutto also wrote the Bush Administration about Musharraf and her security concerns but I’m not sure what anyone could do. For some time, Pakistan has been and is terrorism’s heart of darkness.


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