Saturday, August 30, 2014

American Justice and Star Chamber Proceedings. It’s Time to Reform or Scrap The Grand Jury System!

Dr. Roland Frisler, the late President of The People's Court of Germany
Phoenix, AZ—I have my own personal quote about the American justice system.  “If justice happens it’s usually by accident and for all the wrong reasons.”  After 40 years inside the system this is how I view the reality of Criminal Justice.
Pictured above is Dr. Roland Frisler, the late President of The People’s Court of Germany.  He’s an example of pretend justice somewhat similar to what we did in our own infamous Salem Witch Trials. 
The Star Chamber was an English court of law that sat at the royal Palace of Westminster from the late 15th century until 1641.  They were set up as a secret court for dealing with “special people” that they could not convict in the other courts. 
Judicial tyranny always develops anywhere that people take freedom and fairness for granted.  
Arizona has a thriving Death Row.  Some are there because they deserve it and others are there as a result of absolute tyranny.  Innocents will perish along with the guilty.
Our need for retribution and revenge seems to always outgun our sense of fairness and justice.  A simple arrest and TV news story is enough proof for most people these days.
We’ve seem to have forgotten that we fought many wars in this young nation to insure liberty, freedom and fair trials.  Our cemeteries our filled with young men and women that gave their lives so we’d not have Star Chamber Justice in America. 
Debra Milke,  the young Phoenix mother who was condemned to the gas chamber is first in my mind when it comes a judicial horror story.  Milke was held in solitary confinement for nearly 24 years waiting to be put to death under color of law even though she was innocent.  Milke was sentenced to death because on the lies of a serial perjurer that just happened to be a cop. 
In thousands of less notable cases lives and families were destroyed by our evil and corrupt judicial system.  People are wrongly accused, tried and bankrupted even when they are ultimately acquitted.
At the state and local level prosecutors use and abuse the Grand Jury system to force trials without actual Probable Cause. 
A Grand Jury True Bill or Indictment is considered a legal finding of Probable Cause that a crime occurred and that the accused probably committed it.  
The most mind-numbing part of the Grand Jury system is that defense lawyers are not allowed to participate in the proceedings or even be present.  What happens in the Grand Jury Room is always a closely protected secret.
Prosecutors are free to either soft pedal a case preventing a deserved Indictment or to simply railroad anyone they wish.  By the way prosecutors enjoy legal immunity for their misconduct! 
The fact is that there is a somewhat cynical saying by lawyers, “Any prosecutor worth his salt can indict a ham sandwich.”  This is by no means an exaggeration. 
A Grand Jury consists of 23 people and at least 12 must agree on any Indictment or True Bill.
The Grand Jury has immense powers of investigation.  They can subpoena any person or document they wish for examination.  Prosecutors can’t prevent this but the people chosen for the Grand Jury are too ignorant or timid to do their sworn duty! 
The problem is the Grand Jurors are led through the cases by prosecutors that always steer them away from doing the things they were empowered to do! 
If a defense attorney were allowed to be present in these proceedings he or she would ask them to use their power to investigate and bring in the evidence and witnesses.  Disallowing defense lawyers is where fairness fails.
Rather then hear from witness that the Grad Jurors are free to cross-examine they simply allow prosecutors to put a cop or two before them to tell us what they remember that the real witnesses told them!  Of course the cops nearly always only remember the things the prosecutor wants to hear.
If the Grand Jury really investigated these cases there would be far fewer indictments and false convictions.  Instead prosecutors play a game of keeping the Grand Jury in the dark as they indict anyone they wish.
If you’re accused in an indictment of a crime of course you may still be acquitted at trial.  The problem is by the time you are tried in the one to three years later you will be bankrupted, fired from your job, divorced and homeless. 
Except in Florida there is no government compensation for your legal fees or bail. 
The cure?  Eliminate the Grand Jury and use Preliminary Hearings as a sort of a mini-trial.  Allow the defense attorneys to subpoena documents an hear the actual witnesses testify under oath. 
If we are to retain the Grand Jury system, defense lawyers must be allowed to participate as an equal to the prosecutor. 
Secret Courts and our present Grand Jury system are un-American and just plain wrong.

Friday, August 29, 2014

My Music Copyright Infringement Dilemma is Troubling, There Must be a Solution!

Los Angeles, CA—Like most of my blog visitors I love music.  I have my favorites from Gershwin to The Doors.  The artists that have entertained me deserve all of the reward for their work.  Every musical recording is a labor involving numerous people that worked so hard to create.
The music industry exists because of intellectual property rights.  Without these rights so many of the hits we enjoy everyday may never have pleased our ears.
My video host YouTube has settled most copyright issues with the use of music within the USA.  Advertising and iTunes links have solved many of the problems.
There was also a surprising discovery made by the copyright holders in the form of increased sales when a video featuring their products was popular legitimate sales of the music increased too.  Old forgotten hits suddenly were reanimated into moneymaking popularity once again!
As many of my visitors know I’m into the camera drone technology.  My drones shoot amazing video but the natural sound is the annoying sound of the whirling rotors and motors.  I must replace the soundtrack with music or a voiceover.  Music is the obvious choice. 
There is lots of copyright free music out there but most of it sucks in a big way.  Of course I want to use my favorite material. The problem is that my videos are blocked out in Europe because of unresolved copyright issues.
I want so much to share some great music that matches the videos.  I’d be willing to pay a reasonable fee for the privilege to have these videos seen worldwide. 
I have many friends in Germany, Switzerland and The Netherlands where I can’t share these videos. 
I will give you two examples.
While I was in Carmel By The Sea I sent my drone up over the beach for the soundtrack I used my favorite actress on the planet.  She  is a multi-talented Dutch lady, Carice van Houten.  She sang this classic 1930’s American song in her terrific film, Black Book called 100 Years From Today. 
Late this summer I was asked to shot a scene in the Palmdale desert for a film for my film director friend, Pablo Lewin.  The film is in post production right now and I’m not sure what Pablo has in mind for the soundtrack covering my shot.
Pablo gave me permission to show this scene on YouTube and I immediately knew the music I wanted to use!  It’s from the film Baghdad Café but is sung by Patti LuPone and is called, Calling You.   How perfect it was! 
There has to be a way to solve this problem. 
Needless to say my European friends will not be able to see these.  
 Carmel By The Sea
The Palmdale Desert Scene:


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Suddenly I Love Miley Cyrus!


Los Angeles, CA—At the 2014 MTV VMA Award Show Miley Cyrus showed that she has a special side. 
Miley brought a somewhat troubled 22 year-old homeless fellow to the Awards show.  The lad, Jesse Helt accepted Miley’s award on her behalf reading from a prepared note.  
It turns out Helt’s wanted on some minor misdemeanor charges in Oregon typically associated with homeless and troubled kids. 
I can’t imagine an incredibly wealthy young lady making a rescue of a potentially salvageable young man.  I hope she follows through to get him educated, productive and self-sufficient. 
I also hope Miley get’s Helt a lawyer and help him get his Oregon troubles behind him.
Miley is taking a risk for sure with Helt.  He could embarrass her and actually damage her career. 
On the other hand growing up as a dirt poor Chicago kid I can really appreciate Helt’s troubled life.  I was drafted for the Viet Nam war luckily avoiding combat.  Upon discharge I was a cop at 22, but I had a little luck and somehow avoided Helt’s difficulties. It was not easy!
Just because I escaped a criminal record and spent nine years as a struggling part-time college student does not mean I could not have hit the pavement hard just like Helt.  
I’d rather been in some college dorm and later gotten help through medical school then being a cop and later private eye.  Or perhaps I could have musical or other show business education so I too could entertain like Miley. 
It never happened to me.  Now, I’m living vicariously through Jesse Helt.  I hope he appreciates Miley’s efforts and makes her really proud.  The odds are against it but only time will tell.  This should be a dream come true for Helt.
Helt can now succeed beyond his wildest dreams and I’m truly happy to see Helt’s incredible opportunity. 
As for Miley Cirus, suddenly I love her for looking out for the less fortunate people in our world and trying to make a difference.  Miley is one brave lady.  I pray for the very best of both of them.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Major Paradox Of The Bankrupt African-American Culture of Violence

Whether you’re in Ferguson, MO, Chicago, IL or Sanford, FL The Bankrupt African-American culture of Violence lacks any signs of simple humanity. 
Last year it was Travon Martin, this year it’s Michael Brown, two local thugs that were elevated to the sainthood of civil rights heroes by a bunch disingenuous phonies.
They were both shot and killed by non-African-Americans.  One was Hispanic and the other White.
White people will never get the benefit of the doubt should they kill a Black in self-defense. 
When Martin and Brown were killed the African-American race baiters did not wait for the bodies to cool before they duped the willing media into turning these justifiable homicides into senseless Hate Crimes. 
In fairness Martin and Brown were unarmed but both thugs were stronger than their killers.  Both thugs assaulted their victims before they were killed.  
Self-defense laws allow the use of deadly force when there is reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm such as a broken bone or permanent disfigurement.
Professional race baiters such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson always swing into action with their incendiary allegations and hate.  The media knows their ratings will skyrocket when they showcase these stories and sensationalize them accordingly.
And now for the paradox!  Many of our major cities have higher shooting and killing rates than many foreign war zones. 
It’s no secret that today in America Blacks murder Whites more often that when Whites murder Blacks.  When the victims are White the media doesn’t seem to care no matter how vicious or exceptionally cruel the crimes may be. 
Chicago’s summers are never without obscene body counts at the Cook County Morgue.  The victims are nearly all Black as are their killers.  Incredibly too often the victims are tender aged and innocent children.
When Blacks murder innocent little Black children, there is hardly a press mention.  If there is media coverage, it’s only about sadness.  You never hear any demands for justice.  The troublemaking race baiters are nowhere to be seen.  The Obama Whitehouse and Justice Department simply does not care and no investigations are commenced.
There are never any civil disturbances, riots or looting when some Black thug murders an innocent Black child. 
Martin and Brown’s names will be remembered as civil rights heroes but the innocent little Black murdered children are forgotten even before they’re buried.
Any culture that venerates thugs over their own innocent tender-aged children is beyond bankrupt.  It’s downright appalling and sub-human.  






Friday, August 22, 2014

Tom Zebra, Anti-Police Hero or Troublemaker?




Tom Zebra, Citizen Journalist/provocateur
Los Angeles, CA—If you’re a cop in or near the City of Angels, Tom Zebra may just get in your face and under your skin. 
In the age of the cell phone camera explosion came body cams and the ever-popular GoPros. 
With the new technology police have been placed under the intrusive and unblinking eyes of millions of cameras.  A large percentage of them are in the hands of genuine antagonists like Zebra . 
The next generation of police monitoring devices is here in the form of multi-rotor camera drones.  They can be quietly deployed over any police action.  They can record video of anything taking place in plain view under the skies.   
Cops have been understandably hostile to these cameras and nationwide thousands of bogus arrests have been made of people recording them.  Cops have confiscated cell phones, cameras and their media storage cards.  Cops felt they should have a right to privacy but the courts have spoken.  They have no such right. 
Lawmakers at local levels have been sympathetic to the cop’s concerns and have unsucessfully tried to make end runs around the law that would inhibit or end the public’s rights to record police.
There is yet another side to the police/camera issues and that’s the amazing fact that the captured videos vindicate the cops well over 99% of the time.  Slowly cops are beginning to realize that these cameras and much more objective than the people using them!
Targeting cops from both land and now the air is Tom Zebra.  Zebra is a citizen journalist/provocateur.  He points his cameras where they are not wanted in various police matters. 
Zabra garnered additional cop hostility by flying his camera drone over a walled-in police parking lot.  The cops came out and actually threatened to arrest Zebra for trespassing even though he never set for inside the police parking area.  Zebra got his video and wasted no time posting it on YouTube. 
Police recently San Pedro Port police arrested Zebra and confiscated his drone as evidence.  Ironically Zebra was not photographing police, but a U.S. Naval vessel that the public was invited to both visit and photograph. Zebra’s crime was the apparent violation of a L.A. park’s ordinance. 
The little known existing law banned the use of remote controlled model aircraft in parks, beaches, horse trials or any place not specifically designated for them.  
I’m convinced that the law was drafted to target noisy fixed wing aircraft that frightened horses posed a danger because of their speed.
One of my legal experts believes that Zebra has a first Amendment right to use his drone camera despite the L.A. Parks ordinance.  Zebra has a right to take photos.  My expert said that collecting the legislative history of the remote control ban showing it was never intended to cover the much quieter and slower moving multi-rotor camera drones would help Zebra in court.
In the meantime to the cop's chagrin Zebra’s not grounded, he apparently obtained a new drone and is back in business. 
Last but not least, are the thousands of people nationwide that have camera drones.   They are holding their breaths, waiting for lawmakers and the FAA determine the future this new and exciting industry. 
The majority of the camera drone operators I talk with are hostile to Zebra and his militancy.  They say he’s going to ruin it for everyone.  I say that idea is dead wrong.  If anything Zebra is making it better by taking the lead in challenging government tyranny. 
Someone will have to test bad laws or unreasonable enforcement.  Frankly I’d rather stand behind Zebra rather than in front of him in that regard.  We can only learn what are rights really are by the Tom Zebra’s of our world willing to test the system.
 



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The City of Phoenix is Making War on Camera Drone Pilots!


Will they be able to jail drone pilot Paul Huebl now?  
Phoenix, AZ—Two members of the City Council here are proposing an anti-drone ordinance that will make a criminal out of anyone using a drone within the city.

Let me disclose that I own and operate two camera drones like the one above and plan to use them in pursuit if gathering images and video for news. 
The proposed law requires that “written permission” be obtained in advance from anyone that might be photographed by a drone.  That would for example include some gardener mowing grass who might be photographed whether he is readily identifiable or not.  They are not talking about just close up pictures but any picture.
There is plenty of existing law that protects people’s privacy where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy.  That is inside a home or structure of some type.  That’s why millions of ordinary surveillance cameras are everywhere in America today. 
Singer and entertainer Barbara Streisand sued a photographer that dared to publish a photograph of her Malibu, CA beachfront home he shot from a helicopter for $10 million.  Needless to say despite the best lawyers her case failed and the photographer actually collected from her instead. 

Then there is the U.S. Supreme Court case, Florida v. Riley, 488 U.S. 445 (1989).  
Meaningless exemptions are made in the proposed law for artists and news people but that opens a Pandora’s Box to define what that might mean. 
Many would say I should not qualify for media exemption as a blogger!  Who or what is an artist? What if some cop decides your “art work” sucks and can get a jury to agree that you’re no artist? Sheriff Joe’s Tent City awaits your confinement!
In fairness to the two councilmen behind this mess somehow were under the mistaken impression that existing privacy laws did not cover aerial photography. 
They also need to recognize that any other criminal mischief involving a drone is already covered.  An aide gave me an example where she suggested that a drone could be used as a look out or to case property to be burglarized.  She was dead wrong.
In every state a drone put to such use would be considered a burglary tool bringing forth an additional felony charge in addition to the original burglary complaint.
There are also stalking laws that prevent criminals from using any means to victimize people.  The use of a drone by a stalker would surly bring maximum punishment in any court.
Obviously those doing the same thing with Google Earth, helicopters or fixed wing aircraft can take all the pictures of people they want in Phoenix.  After all these days we love double standard justice in America! 
The draft ordinance is subject to debate and public comment.  I suspect that anything that actually passes may be a lot different than the current proposal. 
Perhaps an E-Mail or phone call to the Mayor or members of the Phoenix City Council might get their needed attention https://www.phoenix.gov/mayorcouncil
Below is the proposed ordinance:
DRAFT Unmanned Aircraft Regulations
Definitions

1.  Unmanned Aircraft System (“UAS”) means an unmanned aircraft vehicle, drone, remotely piloted vehicles, or remotely piloted aircraft that does not carry a human operator.
Offenses:
1.  A person commits an offense if the person uses an unmanned aircraft to photograph, film, audiotape, or otherwise record an individual or individuals acting on private property without the expressed, written consent of the property owner and the individuals included in the recording.
a.  An offense under this section is a Class 1 misdemeanor
b.  It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the person destroyed all photographs, films, audiotapes, and other records:
                                            i.     As soon as the person had knowledge that the image was captured in violation of this section;
                                         ii.     Without disclosing, displaying, or distributing the image to a third party;
                                      iii.     The recordings did not include
1.  Children; or
2.  Sexual acts or nudity.
2.  A person commits an offense if the person makes a recording in violation of Section 1 and discloses, displays, distributes, sells, or otherwise uses that image
a.  An offense under this section is a Class 1 misdemeanor
b.  Each image a person discloses, displays, distributes, or sells under this section is a separate offense
3.  A person commits an offense if he outfits an unmanned aircraft system with a weapon and flies that unmanned aircraft over the private property of another individual or entity without expressed, written permission
a.  An offense under this section is a Class 1 misdemeanor
Nonapplicability
1. It is lawful to use an unmanned aircraft within the City of Phoenix to photograph, film, audiotape, or otherwise record an individual or individuals acting on private property
a. if the recording is captured for the purpose of mapping;
b. if the recording is captured by the City or Phoenix or an individual or entity under contract with the City of Phoenix for the purposes of resource management;
c. if the recording is made for the operation and maintenance of utilities or telecommunication facilities for the purpose of maintaining the reliability and integrity of the utility or telecommunication system or to determine if repairs to the system are necessary;
d. if law enforcement is using the unmanned aircraft system to execute a valid search warrant;
e. if law enforcement is acting under circumstances in which an exception to the warrant requirement is applicable;
f. if law enforcement is using the unmanned aircraft system to document a crime scene where a felony offense has been committed; or
g. if law enforcement is conducting a search for a missing or abducted person.
h. if the recording is made over several private residences for an artistic or journalistic purpose and no individuals captured on the recording are personally identifiable

Will I have to challenge this here?