Thursday, February 28, 2013

Jodi Arias Trial In Phoenix, Arizona Infotainment in the Spotlight

Phoenix, AZ—The happening place to be is in this lurid and sexually charged murder trial.  Young Jodi Arias is on trial for her life for killing a sometime boyfriend.
There are no eyewitnesses, just too many different versions of the event given by the not too shy accused killer.  Will her deception convict her?  Will her efforts to skew the evidence be her downfall?  Conventional wisdom says, yes.
My 40 plus years as a cop and private eye has taken me down this road so many times before.  I’m here to tell you that when a self-defense killing takes place the frightened, ignorant and confused victims often lie because the feel the need to do so.  Does that mean liars are automatically guilty?  Heavens no!
The other issue was whether Arias over-reacted to the perceived threat of the boyfriend?  Did she act out of the heat of passion?  The lies and cover-up can’t really answer those questions. However juries usually hate liars and punish them all they can.
Prosecutor Juan Martinez can only guess about what happened and why.  He’s having a field day proving Arias lied redundantly.  He wants the jury to send this young woman to Death Row.
Just because Arias lied should she lose the constitutional protection of Reasonable Doubt?  Can a jury somehow understand the panic and fear long enough to forgive Arias for her deception? 
The most difficult problem the Arias defense has is getting over the numerous stab wounds.  The deceased was first shot with a tiny caliber gun.  Even large caliber guns often don’t even slow attackers down.  A wounded human fights just like an animal under the same circumstances.  If the stab wounds are spread out all over the place, even in non-vital areas, that a sign that there was a real heated battle going on.
I say Reasonable Doubt should prevail and without solid evidence otherwise she should go free.
If the killing is somewhat less than justified a First Degree Murder charge is over-kill.  Perhaps this deserves a lesser crime such as manslaughter.  If the jury determines this was a DANGEROUS OFFENSE enhanced draconian prison sentences come into play.  This dangerousness finding is unique to Arizona law and the jury is never told just what that finding would mean.  They are simply asked to blindly vote for it.
I know the so-called true crime court watchers want blood on this one.  I have a name for these people that seemingly don’t have lives, the True Crime Swine.  They want to influence every high profile trial they can. 
I hope the defense has retained a self-defense expert witness or at least a pathologist to explain the ante-mortem wounds and how strong humans really are while severely wounded.
This should not be an easy case for a jury.  They need to understand the dynamics of a frightened young woman under incredible stress along with the will to survive. 
This case is exactly why I hate live broadcasts of trials.  Save the broadcasts until after the verdict are rendered. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Celebrity Security and Special Problems

Three men wearing tough guy black suits, but are they trained or just security theater? 
Los Angeles, CA—As the Oscar Awards are presented the serious side of celebrity security is an important area of concern.  Today many entertainers and security professionals are discussing the dark side of the entertainment business.
As a private investigator I've had to deal with numerous stalking cases involving celebrities in film, television and TV news.  I generally stick to threat assessment, background investigations, management and actual prophylactic contact with the offenders.   Except in special cases I leave the muscle work to others.  
Celebrities are generally admired but sometimes for the wrong reasons by their fans.  When an actor makes the choice to expose their images and personal history for the general public it can pay handsomely.  It also sometimes comes with a price that can be painfully expensive and sometimes frightening. 
The vast majority of fans are sincere and adoring.  Unfortunately there are delusional people who have been medicated rather than institutionalized.  They for the most part simply be a nuisance but in rare extremes mirror the likes of Mark Chapman, John Hinckley, Jr. or others.  Care must be taken to deal with the delusional.
Unarmed and untrained security workers are virtually worthless and can increase rather than decrease any threats.   They can also bring about unnecessary difficult publicity and lawsuits should they mishandle the celebrity’s fans.  Unfortunately the pretenders are the makeup of the lion’s share of the commercial security workers.  You don’t want or need simply a warm body in a security costume or tough guy black suit.
Usually it’s best to hire off duty trained, sworn and armed off duty police officers if possible.  Contacting the local police agencies is the easiest way to accomplish this.  They can provide officer’s seeking to earn extra money. 
Retired cops who are also licensed to perform security functions can be fine too.  Celebrities need to work out graceful and effective escape plans with their security people should something go wrong.  The best muscle the celebrity bodyguard can use is often his tongue to deescalate problems through skillful diplomacy. 
Court restraining orders are difficult because they are limited to jurisdictional geography and require repetitive incidents by stalkers and such.   If there are repeated incidents in the same location it’s a good idea to get them served upon the offender.  The orders are helpful with getting police and prosecutors to take the nefarious conduct seriously.  You must always remember the restraining orders are made of simple paper and no substitution for real security.
As for fan interaction with celebrities it’s a necessary part of promotion.   There are a lot of nice people that pay their hard earned money to see their favorite celebrity doing what they do best.  There are the over-zealous fans that need to be watched but not confused with stalkers.  This is where security diplomacy and the bodyguard’s training should come in to play.  An offended over-zealous fan could become a problem and sometimes an unnecessary distraction for a celebrity. 
If an over-zealous fan or stalker somehow personally contacts a celebrity, the worst possible thing would be to show fear.  That would transfer control away from the celebrity.  The celebrity should remain friendly but firm in communicating that a relationship with the fan is impossible.  That should come with a kindly thank you for their patronage of the celebrity’s work product. 
Troubling incidents are thankfully very rare but reasonable security steps can go a long way to make the experience of public events enjoyable. 
When moving around in public in everyday life celebrities should maintain a low profile.  They will be recognized and often approached by strangers.  For the most part this reality and can be enjoyable.
European celebrities are generally precluded from firearms for self-defense.  That was no help when a man invaded the late Beetle, George Harrison’s home stabbing him with a knife.  
American celebrities can and should have personal defense firearms and the training to use them effectively.  Professional training with firearms is something every actor needs in order to better play the characters when the script calls for them to handle guns.
Using a gun in self-defense in the vast majority of cases simply causes criminals to run away without a shot ever being fired.   It’s the rare case when firing a gun at a criminal becomes necessary.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Germany is Serious About Making Great Films!

Andrea Fleckenstein at Villa Aurora
Pacific Palisades, CA—High upon a scenic ocean view bluff here is a fabulous villa that was a refuge for Jewish artists that fled from the horror of Adolph Hitler and National Socialism during that terrible war. 
Today, decades later Villa Aurora is an epicenter for resident German artists of various disciplines including filmmakers.   There are a lot of special events held here like the one I attended today with my dear and beautiful friend Andrea Fleckenstein who is again visiting from Berlin. 
This was a terrific pre-Oscar Award party honoring actors, producers, and directors who are currently nominated for that coveted little gold statuette.   It was nothing short of terrific to meet so many talented and classy German film industry people all in one place. 
I have a pet German film project of my own and what a great place it was to network with people serious about making quality films.

The German government supports filmmakers with generous grants simply because it keeps filmmakers employed and at the same time pumps tax money back to the government. 
You can expect to see more German made films in English as this great nation competes with Hollywood for theater seats and DVD sales. 

This marvoulous event was hosted by Oliver Mahadt.  Mahrdt is the USA and Canada Representative of German Films.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Take a Short Ride with Carice van Houten in Las Vegas!

Las Vegas, NV-While attending this years SHOT Show I took my inexpensive Panasonic Lumix digital camera and shot some video out the window.  I added a little music courtesy of my favorite actress Carice van Houten for the mood. Trust me she will put you in the mood!
100 Years From Today is an old song from the 1930’s that was used in the great Paul Verhoeven film, Black Book.  Van Houten is the undisputed star of that great 2006 movie based on World War Two reality. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Christopher Dorner Rampage Showcases the Total Failure of Gun Bans

Los Angeles, CA—When guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns.  That well-worn saying has never been better demonstrated by disgraced and fired LAPD officer Chris Dorner.  In a dumbfounding paradox Dorner was an advocate of Obama and the failed gun ban Democratic Party dogma.  Of course Dorner apparently wanted to make sure his future victims would be disarmed.
Dorner had quite a cache of weapons already banned under California and federal laws. He had at least two firearm silencers. He had several banned M-4 platform rifles.  He also had banned gas grenades.  Most of his handguns had magazine capacities well over the California 10 round limit.  He had numerous already banned magazines for his rifles and pistols.
Local and federal gun laws were violated by Dorner not to mention his murdering four and the maiming of his other victims. Dorner went to war with the cops.   In at least two regrettable cases cops went to war with unarmed innocent civilians using those banned firearms!  Okay the bans did not apply to the cops.
The proposed Obama/Feinstein gun bans or the so-called universal background check legislation would have had zero impact on Dorner or his deadly crime rampage.  By the way, where did Dorner get those banned silencers and gas grenades? 
With our incredible technology breakthroughs of 3-D printers and computer driven CNC machines manufacturing firearms has never been earlier.  The master machinist skills needed to make quality firearms is a thing of the past. Ammunition magazines are a snap to make.  I guess our politicians want to have booming underground gunmakers make handsome profits.   
In conclusion gun laws and gun bans only impact law-abiding people.  Controlling guns does not work any better than controlling narcotic drugs. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

L.A. TV News Coverage of Christopher Dorner Manhunt was Beyond Lousy

Los Angeles, CA—Fired LAPD cop Christopher Dorner was on a rampage but the TV news coverage was limited to chasing official police information officers around to tell the story.  Frankly that just didn’t cut it. 
The police agencies involved could be counted upon to only release self-serving information and nearly always that information is far less than candid.  Additionally the information is always meticulously influenced by the political slant of the persons appointing the police chiefs.
What are the reporters and producers supposed to do?  They need to let their least experienced or capable people chase the worthless public information officers.  The real reporters and producers need to scour public records and find people to interview that could shed important light on the story.  Litigation records of the players involved would have revealed lots of names that deserve follow up interviews.  They could have broadcast a much better and in depth profile of Christopher Dorner but did not. 
When the standoff at the Big Bear area cabin was in progress TV news showed stale video and the anchors began a redundant line of babble throwing out those overused terms of inane police jargon.  Rather than summon experts to interview that could intelligently explain the probable efforts at hostage negotiation and SWAT tactics the news directors chose to let their anchors look really ignorant and downright foolish. 
The use by police of tear gas and volatile CS gas and the resulting fire was easily predictable.  Did the officers who were using the gas releasing devices anticipate the fire?  The answer of course is yes!  But the fire was a surprise to the news anchors and they did not have a clue that the fire was intentional except after later reviewing captured police scanner traffic.
Was setting fire to the cabin justifiable under the circumstances?  The answer would be yes as long as there is no reason to believe that there was an innocent hostage in the cabin.  Remember the raiding cops were under fire and since Dorner refused commands to surrender and that did not end his resistance.  Setting fire to the cabin with CS canisters was reasonable and justifiable to end the deadly barricade situation. 
There was only one reasonable thing to do with our TV screens and that was to turn down the ridicules anchor chatter and wait out the siege. In recent years TV news has deteriorated at every level.  Viewers have become news refugees seeking their information elsewhere particularly on the Internet.  TV news personalities are not an acceptable replacement for real news.   They are exactly what’s wrong with today’s TV news!

Live TV news to breaking events has never been so pathetic in a major TV market. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tyrannical Chicago Officials Persecute a Cautious Gun Owner

Chicago, IL—A well respected University of Illinois cancer researcher, Kathleen Loviscek, 55 was reasonably concerned about the strangers who were renovating her home.  She did not have viable options but to bring her lawfully purchased and unloaded gun to work so it would not fall into wrong hands.  For example, she could not simply entrust a neighbor with her gun without running afoul of Chicago’s draconian gun laws.
Police treated Lovisicek like a dangerous terrorist, knowing she had no criminal record and a legitimate Firearms Identification Card.  She was charged with felony Unlawful Use of a Weapon and jailed overnight.  She was hauled before a fascist Cook County judge who set bail at $25,000.00.

Bail is for two purposes; one to insure the accused will appear in court and to protect the public.  This woman had strong ties to the community and no criminal history.  Nobody was ever endangered so letting her out on her promise to appear was more than adequate.  The bail was purely punitive and unreasonable.

Loviscik was charged with the same statute that was recently struck down as Unconstitutional by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.  The court gave the State of Illinois 180 days to rewrite the law. 
There is now a huge legal paradox that defies explanation.  Remember, the law was declared unconstitutional!  I guess it’s like being pregnant, either you are or are not!  Nothing will make an unconstitutional law a proper vehicle for just punishment.  I see no choice but for the State’s Attorney to dismiss the charge and return Loviscik’s gun to her.
There are no questions that the unloaded gun was ever somehow part of some threat, or was brandished or even placed where it could be stolen and improperly used.
The only question remaining is the university’s employee discipline action against Loviscek.  Since the school is government run they can’t infringe on anyone’s right to keep and bear arms.  They’d be best advised to take no action against Lovisick. 
As for this entire episode it spells out only too well the unintended consequences of zero tolerance policies.  This was nothing less than an act of government tyranny.

Update:  I have needed, special and important information for Livisick's lawyer and hope to hear from him or her soon.  Click on the, Hire Me link on the right for my contact information.  

As of March 8th no lawyer has filed a notice of appearance on this case.  Her first court appearance is set for March 19, 2013 @9:00 AM in room 101 at 2600 S. California Ave, Chicago, IL.  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Christopher Dorner is Now Dead According to LAPD Officials

Angelus Oaks, CA—6:40 PM--Fired LAPD cop Christopher Dorner stayed inside a cabin here after a shootout.  Dorner’s remains were fond in the burning cabin and the circumstances are about to be the subject of a press conference being given by San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department.   
Indications are that Dorner took his own life.

Breaking News! Armageddon at Big Bear with Christopher Dorner

Angelus Oaks, CA—Fired LAPD cop Christopher Dorner reportedly broke into a local mountain cabin and tied up two adults taking their vehicle.  One of the hostages broke lose and called police.  Dorner was contacted by police and got into a shootout. Now police are reporting that two San Bernardino cops were wounded in a shootout.
Police believe that Dorner is trapped in a cabin and a massive response at nearby Seven Oaks Mountain Cabins.  There is the possibility that he did escape the area but police claim they have sealed off the area. 
Now the waiting game begins along with the usual telephone negotiations.  How will this ordeal end?  We will have to wait and see.  

Update 3:40 PM L.A. time:  So far in today's standoff one cop was killed and three more have been wounded trying to capture Dorner.