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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Troy Davis was not innocent...

Get comfortable because this will likely take a while...

The world was in uproar this past week about the state of Georgia executing a man who had 20+ years to go through what is called "due process" in order to avoid such a fate. Why? Because the presumption was that he was innocent. After all around 9 state witnesses recanted their testimony! It's the state of Georgia where racism runs rampant! Mr. Davis was an Black man from a poor neighborhood--no way was justice equally applied to him!

First, everything happens for a reason. Mr. Davis' case gave us a definitive answer, once and for all, that it is unconstitutional to execute an innocent person in the United States. Perhaps it doesn't make sense that it wasn't unconstitutional before--the thinking before was that it is always better to find the wrong person guilty than to let the guilty one go free--but now it is definitely unconstitutional to execute an innocent person.

We also finally have a way to determine what "innocence" is. It is the burden of the person claiming they are innocent to prove they are (contrast that to the presumption of innocence at the beginning of trial, where it is the state's burden to prove the defendant is guilty). Innocence is not "not guilty." "Not guilty" means the prosecution could not and did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did what is alleged. "Innocence" means matter of factly the defendant simply did not do what was alleged. For example, someone could be not guilty of DUI if the prosecution can't prove that the defendant was ever behind the wheel. The person could be drunker than a sailor on shore leave, but if there is no proof he or she was behind the wheel, they cannot be found guilty of DUI beyond a reasonable doubt. Contrast to someone who is arrested and charged with DUI and has no trace of alcohol or drugs in their system because they never drank or ingested drugs. Perhaps they just exhibited symptoms of impairment for other reasons. That person is innocent.

In Mr. Davis' case, he had the burden of proving that a reasonable juror would not convict him based on the new evidence he had that was not available at trial. If no reasonable juror could possibly convict him, that means he is innocent. He was given an opportunity to have an evidentiary hearing at the federal level (unheard of since federal courts are supposed to give deference to the findings the state courts make in state cases, which Mr. Davis' case was). His evidence? Affidavits of witnesses "recanting." For the record, a "recantation" is a statement in complete reversal of what was originally said. For instance instead of saying "the light was red," one would need to state "the light was NOT red." In Mr. Davis' case, 4 of the "recantations" were not "recantations" at all--they simply changed their story. Oh and blamed it on coercion by the police (more on that shortly). So instead of saying that Mr. Davis DID NOT shoot Officer McPhail, these witnesses simply stated they did not see who did, and that the only reason they said it was Mr. Davis was because the police told them to.

This was a key mistake by Mr. Davis' attorney's. Instead of going for the highest standard possible in innocence cases (clear and convincing evidence of a lack of culpability or guilt, or a mathematical certainty of innocence) they shot for reasonable doubt (which he'd already been convicted under 20 years ago). There was admittedly reasonable doubt from the beginning (the judge who issued the ruling after the habeas corpus hearing even said as much), but the state was able to convince 12 jurors (7 of whom were Black) that there was no doubt that Mr. Davis not only murdered Officer McPhail but that he did so intentionally.

Now about those coercions. Coerced testimony would certainly not have left as murky a picture as Mr. Davis' case. Indeed of the witnesses who claimed they were coerced none of them directly identified Mr. Davis as Mr. McPhail's killer save one--and by the time the habeas corpus hearing rolled around in 2010 she was deceased. Her recantation was not notarized and from what I could tell from the judicial order, was not given as a statement--it was presented to her by Mr. Davis' attorneys and she was asked to sign it. The others testimony--if it was so coerced--left enough to be desired that the state had to call over 30 total witnesses at trial. Why coerce 7-10 people? Why not coerce one good one that can put Mr. Davis at the scene? (The others stated that Mr. Davis was wearing a white shirt, and that the man in the white shirt shot the police officer--but no one ever said Mr. Davis shot the officer. It was left for the jurors to infer).

Failure number two by Mr. Davis' legal team was putting only the people Mr. Davis knew on the stand during his evidentiary hearing. In other words, he had two witnesses who "recanted" both of which were ready and able to testify--yet were not called. (Even Mr. Coles, the other person present that night and allegedly was the "real" killer was not put on the stand). Only their affidavits were presented. Affidavits cannot be challenged and as a result they aren't given much weight in court. People he knows however are easily discredited as biased. Why not call the woman who supposedly saw the whole thing from across the street who Mr. Davis didn't know? If she was willing to recant her statement (she changed it from "Mr. Davis was the one wearing the white shirt" and "The man in the white shirt shot the officer" to "I did not see Mr. Davis shoot the officer"), then why not put her on the stand to be challenged? If anyone could have swung the evidence in Mr. Davis' favor it was this woman. Instead she sat on the bench--literally outside the courtroom.

It should be noted that Mr. Davis is not dead today because of some imbalance in due process toward people of color. Surely people of color represent a disproportionate amount of inmates generally and death row specifically. This likely has a lot to do with socio economic circumstances--but the bottom line is if you're doing dumb shit and get caught you're going to jail. Regardless if Mr. Davis shot Officer McPhail or not, he was going to jail for a long time for felony murder anyway--he was a party to the felony that led to the killing of someone. The crime can be imputed to him since he was a participant. The death penalty is reserved for the most culpable killers and Mr. Davis was determined to be the one most culpable in the killing of Officer McPhail. End of story.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fat White women are ruining our nation.


Sorry, I just got a little carried away. I was late to my job this morning, because there was a stream of mostly large white women causing traffic jam at the Target on my route to work. I looked around for Pimpalicious, because wherever large white women are found, he is most likely to be lurking about. When I got to my job, I realized that some co workers were missing. I inquired why, figuring that Target Pharmacy had some new drug that could cure Cancer, or treat Autism. Turns out what they had was black and white zig zag scarves.

I was immediately saddened by this and then slightly angered. It does not take much to anger me these days, because I look around and see Obama on TV talking about this, that, and the other in regards to how his plan will help the economy. I hear this bleak news, and Obama’s message of hope and fantasy, and find it in stark contrasts to what I am seeing every day. Mossoni,(sp?) an Italian (?) designer has recently teamed with Target to provide knitted dresses and shirts ranging from 40-60 dollars. I understand that this designer became famous by selling black and white scarves for 200-300 bucks a pop. The lines outside of Target seemed huge considering that it wasn’t black Friday, and the clothes were not on any kind of sale.

The message that politicians out and consumers communicate back is one that does not sync up. I refuse to believe that people’s hopes are buoyed by Obama’s empty words. Americans are not that fickle. Perhaps these shopping sprees or erratic consumer spending are people who save up for months to buy these scarves, but I doubt it. Until this kind of spending goes away, there will be no reason for congress to think they have to act to address budget concerns. I mean, how can people go around and talk about a depression, when people are jumping out of bed to buy 60 dollar scarves. Reports recently came out saying that 49% of Americans are living under the poverty line of $22,113 for a family of four with 2 kids, or $11,344 for a single adult younger than 65. I find it hard to believe that a family will spend half a direly needed paycheck to purchase a single 200 dollar scarf, or even a 60 dollar one for that matter. Until this conflicting consumer behavior pattern is addressed, things will only get worse. I have a suggestion…….Germans!

Americans need to look to the Germans, YES, the Germans for clues as to how to get out of this oppressive economic situation. The Germans started saving YEARS ago, and practiced frugality. This was done when the economy was prosperous. Now that the economy is bad, and European countries are in danger of going out of business like Borders or Circuit City, Germany is still practicing frugality and economic restraint. In Fact, Germany may be the only country to survive from the EU and its horrible decision to accept the Euro as standard currency. Germany joined in the fun and good times, but kept being responsible. As well. I am not saying let’s do away with 200 dollar scarves and such, I am saying let’s be responsible in how we pay for that scarf. We do not need another credit bubble bursting like housing did.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Katt Williams Just fucked up big time

Last week, comedian Katt Williams made news when he attacked a Hispanic comedy club patron and told him to "Go back to Mexico."  Right about here, I will begin to lose my shit.  I will then recover, and calm down.  I understand that Katt Williams was trying to be funny, but his attempts were lame.  As was the response of the victim to Williams.  I just wish, I FUCKING WISH it had been me getting attacked.  I would have responded thusly.  Bear in mind I would most likely be mean just to get laughs.

Katt Williams (KW)
Jokey Jokemaker (JJ)

KW:  Are you Mexican?
JJ: Yep
KW:  Why don;t you go back to Mexico?
JJ:  I was born in Chicago you girly-mouthed bitch!
KW:  You Mexicans always pledge allegiance to Mexico
JJ:  How is that any different than watching only BET?
KW: How can you live in a country and pledge allegiance to another.
JJ:  Where the fuck were you in the 90's?  Too many perms must have fried your brain.  Remember all the black people with Africa pendants on?  The dashiki's, the blow outs, the Black Power movements?  Where the fuck were you all talking about, Brooklyn?  But you're gonna bust my balls because i got my hometown on the windshield of my Chevy Silverado?  Get the fuck outta here with that shit.
KW:  You need to go back to landscaping jobs
JJ:  Only if you go back to picking cotton.  You see how hateful that shit sounds?  You were not funny before this tirade, and you are less funny now good sir.  You suck donkey balls.
KW:  Don't talk like that to sons of slaves.
JJ:  You came after me, telling me to go back to Mexico, and now you're all scared about what I have to say?   You ready?  Here I go:  Katt, I am sorry.  I am sorry that you thought you were going to come here and bust my balls, and come out a hero.  That shit will not happen, and you will be lucky if I don't catch you in the parking lot and fuck you up.  I get you.  You are a short, funny-looking fuck with bad hair and a nasal voice.  You might be the funniest fuck on your block, but the world ain't your block.  Welcome to the jungle baby.  You might think that you have won some type of victory here, by getting a few racists to cheer you for attacking me, but you would be wrong to think this is more than a few drunks trying to gang up on a minority.  By minority, I mean me, one of the few pisas in the room who think you are a decent comic and willing to pay 30 bucks to see your ass.  It doesn't ,matter how i made the 30 bucks, landscaping, selling raspas, or corn, or whatever.  I came to have a good time.  Now it seems I will have to entertain myself by busting you're sorry ass. 
You black people have had it bad, what with the racism, rap music, crack, the slavery issues, I mean shit, you guys were basically carry on luggage for European settlers.  "Oh honey, we packed for America?  Tickets? Check, Wallet? Check. Shit loads of slaves to work our fields, and pick our cotton?  Oh no, Lets stop by the slavery store and pickup a few dozen, as some are bound to die and get thrown overboard." 

My point is, every race has good things about it, and bad things in its past.  For you to make blanket accusations about the Hispanic race is like me saying that rap music ruined your once-proud race.  Crack decimates ghettos, Democrats keep you in small neighborhoods where you kill all the honor students, and then they get your vote by promising to make things better for you.  Anyone can look at another group and make comments like yours, but one should first look inwards to see what can be said about one's self.  So to you Mr Williams, I say this.  I will wait on your punk ass in the parking lot, and if you and me to go back to Mexico, you will have to make me. 

PS. Crack decimates ghettos, rap music ruined your once proud race, and Democrats keep you caged and fed with lies and false promises. 

What really happened is this:  An apology came out of the Katt Williams camp, which he asserts was not genuine.  (His explanation of its origins: "A lot of stuff has been happening to a lot of black celebrities in the world. We just deal with it, thank Jesus, and keep on going.")

He does, however, provide some of the context the mysterious apology suggested, explaining that his comments were in response to the heckler's assertion that "all of this [Phoenix] is still Mexico."
"Black people worked too hard to become Americans . . . Don't come here talking to sons of slaves," he says, insisting that his remarks were directed at that individual only.
Asked questions including whether he was out of line to say, "We were slaves. Y'all just work like that at the landscaper," Williams tells Holmes that the brand of comedy he sells means he is "not allowed" to apologize for the remarks, explaining that he only regrets "the fact that the word 'anti-Mexican' is being said to a black guy in America."
 The reasoning behind Williams' defense of his comments leaves a lot to be desired. First, the idea that the history of slavery in this country somehow gives African Americans immunity from criticism when we offend other ethnic groups doesn't add up. At all. Second, we're not convinced that bigoted statements about Mexican-Americans generally are made any better because they were directed at one individual. Finally, if you don't want to apologize, that's up to you. But give us a break -- don't say you're "not allowed" to. Clearly, you do whatever you want.

But at least Williams' willingness to explain the intention behind his remarks and his, "I meant what I said; take me or leave me" attitude represent a refreshing change from the trite and meaningless apologies we normally hear when celebrities and politicians slip up and show their true colors.