Sunday, December 7, 2008

Cops get schooled on entrapment in Fourth Amendment sting

I've long thought that too many civil liberties advocates (myself included) are reactive -- forever chasing the last horrendous abuse, only to be blind-sided by the next one. What we need are more pro-freedom advocates who are confrontational and take the battle to the authorities. Of course, that would probably require somebody with a bankroll to spend on good deeds, or else some way to make such confrontations into a commercial opportunity so they're self-financing. Sort of like what ex-cop Barry Cooper did when he set a trap for Odessa, Texas, police and filmed the results for his online reality show, KopBusters.

According to Cooper's Website:

KopBusters rented a house in Odessa, Texas and began growing two small Christmas trees under a grow light similar to those used for growing marijuana. When faced with a suspected marijuana grow, the police usually use illegal FLIR cameras and/or lie on the search warrant affidavit claiming they have probable cause to raid the house. Instead of conducting a proper investigation which usually leads to no probable cause, the Kops lie on the affidavit claiming a confidential informant saw the plants and/or the police could smell marijuana coming from the suspected house.

The trap was set and less than 24 hours later, the Odessa narcotics unit raided the house only to find KopBuster's attorney waiting under a system of complex gadgetry and spy cameras that streamed online to the KopBuster's secret mobile office nearby.

Cooper and company were hired by Raymond Madden, the father of Yolanda Madden, an Odessa woman convicted in 2005 of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Yolanda's supporters say a key witness in the case admitted in court to planting the drugs -- but that she was convicted anyway and sent to prison.

Local CBS news coverage of Yolanda Madden, Cooper and the raid here:

Cooper is a former Texas cop and drug warrior who turned against prohibition after seeing the consequences of arrests for non-violent, consensual acts on the people he brought in. "This war on people is a failed policy. We have more prisoners of this war in jail then ever before yet even the DEA admits we have more potent drugs and a larger supply of drugs available than ever before."

He's become an able self-promoter who makes money selling videos that teach people how to go about their lives, including growing, using and selling marijuana, without raising police interest. That's opened him up for some criticism, but it also means he may well be among the people best-positioned and most strongly motivated to keep setting traps for cops who cut corners and violate constitutional rights. After all, he stands to make money selling videos of the abuses.

Wow, civil liberties activism as a profit-making enterprise. I love it.

It will be interesting to see how the Odessa police react to the trap into which they walked. I suppose they could try to press criminal charges of some sort, but if Cooper and company are telling the truth, all they did was engage in perfectly legal activity and wait for the police to misinterpret the situation, probably through the use of illegal search techniques backed by fraudulent claims made to secure a warrant. Under the circumstances, any attempts at retaliation are just going to dig a deeper hole for the local authorities.

Hat tip to Radley Balko for first covering this case.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

After 2 1/2 yrs of trying to get someone to listen to Mr. Madden the truth is going to come out. If police did nothing wrong they have nothing to fear from citizens, and if they have done wrong then the only thing they need to fear is the truth. The Blue Code of Silence has one objective "HIDE THE TRUTH" from the "citizens. CNN is interviewing Mr. Madden.

December 30, 2008 1:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Odessa Police Department may investigate posting on the Odessa American Online.

December 30, 2008 9:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Depositions on officers involved in this case were postponed.
The depositions now will be done just a few days before her 2255 hearing.

March 21, 2009 12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Judge: Chavez can pursue law license again
Comments 29 | Recommend 13
May 28, 2009 - 1:21 PM
About eight years after being released from federal prison, former local attorney Jose Antonio "Tony" Chavez was told Thursday that he can once again try to earn a license to practice law in Texas.

Before returning to legal practice with his two sons, however, Chavez will have to take and pass the Texas bar exam to regain his license.

During the hearing, at least 20 witnesses were present to testify to Odessa District Court Judge John Smith about Chavez's commendable personal character and professional legal aptitude, especially since his 16-month stint in prison for being an "accessory after the fact" to a drug ring that stretched from Odessa down to Chihuahua, Mexico.

Arguing against Chavez's return to practicing law at the hearing was Paul Homburg, an attorney with the State Bar of Texas' Committee for Lawyer Discipline, who argued that despite Chavez's regional esteem in Odessa, few people outside the area who don't know him would be as comfortable with his return to the profession.

To lawyers across the state, Homburg argued, an individual who is known to have helped facilitate the sale of drugs and yet still returns to practicing law could cast a shadow on the entire profession.

"People who don't know you," he asked Chavez on the stand, "how are you going to justify that to them?"

"The mechanism was in place. I didn't put it there," Chavez responded, adding that he legally had grounds to return to practicing law - which witnesses claimed he had done for the disenfranchised poor and those who can't speak English.

Before ruling in Chavez's favor, Smith acknowledged that many outsiders might see the decision as a form of cronyism since he and Chavez know each other, but he said that personal relationships were not behind his decision.

"Mr. Chavez has paid his dues for the crime he has committed," Smith said, later adding that Chavez is a "good" and "solid" citizen whose family he knows and personally respects.

"I know the Chavez family," Smith said. "I know the Chavez boys, and I know the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree."

Also addressed during Thursday's hearing were several other legal charges Chavez has faced since he was released from prison, all of which were dropped.

In 2004 and again in 2008, Chavez was arrested on DWI charges, the latter one being a felony due to a person under the age of 15 being in the car.

Both charges were dropped, however, during preliminary Department of Public Safety hearings when it was ruled that there had not been enough probable cause for police to pull Chavez over.

In both cases, he said he was "nowhere near" exceeding the legal blood-alcohol limit.

Additionally in the past eight years, accusations of fraud and property tax violations involving Chavez have surfaced, only to all later be dropped or resolved.

Chavez said he intends to take the bar exam in July if registration is still open, but he most likely will have to wait until February.

"It hasn't sunk in yet," he said after the ruling, tears in his eyes. "I'm relieved and thankful."

Just how far does corruption go in Odessa?

May 30, 2009 1:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the html version of the file
Google automatically generates html versions of documents as we crawl the web.
Page 1
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTWESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXASMIDLAND-ODESSA/PECOS DIVISIONUSA))Dkt. No.: [Dkt. No.:]v.))[Defendant's Name:])STANDING ORDER OF REFERRAL OF FELONY GUILTY PLEAS ANDDESIGNATION TO HEAR AND DETERMINE CRIMINAL PRETRIALDISCOVERY AND SCHEDULING MATTERS TO THE MAGISTRATE JUDGEIN CASES ASSIGNED TO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE ROBERT JUNELLPursuant to Title 28 United States Code § 636(b)(3), a United States Magistrate Judge maybe assigned such additional duties as are not inconsistent with the Constitution and laws of theUnited States. Such additional duties include the administration of a felony guilty plea allocutionpursuant to FED.R.CRIM.P. 11 upon consent of the Defendant and subject to final approval andsentencing by the District Judge. See United States v. Williams, 23 F.3d 629 (2d Cir. 1994).IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that felony FED.R.CRIM.P. 11guilty plea allocations in cases assigned to U. S. District Judge Robert Junell in the Midland-Odessa and Pecos Divisions of the Western District of Texas, shall be referred to the United StatesMagistrate Judge pursuant to Title 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(3) upon the consent of the Defendant andsubject to the control, final approval, and imposition of sentence by the District Court.In the event that the Defendant consents to the guilty plea allocution before the U. S.Magistrate Judge, the Court strongly urges the parties to complete plea negotiations and theguilty plea allocution at least five (5) days prior to the scheduled jury selection and trial date.IT IS FURTHER ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that upon the administration of a guiltyplea allocution pursuant to this Order, the United States Magistrate judge shall file appropriateproposed findings of fact and recommendations.ITISTHEREFOREORDEREDANDADJUDGEDthat"true pleas" onfelonyrevocationproceedings, including both supervised release and probation revocation matters in cases assignedto United States District Judge Robert Junell in the Midland-Odessa and Pecos Divisions of theWestern District of Texas shall be referred to the United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to Title28 U.S.C. 636(b)(3) upon the request of defense counsel and subject to the control, final approval,and imposition of modification or revocation of sentence by the District Judge. In the event theDefendants enters a "true plea" on such a matter, the Magistrate Judge shall follow the routineprocedure for guilty pleas by filing a report and recommendation with the District Judge.
Page 2
2Pursuant to Title 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A), a United States Magistrate Judge may bedesignated to hear and determine anypretrial matter pending, save and except for certain limitationsset forth in that subsection. Such additional duties include the entry of pretrial discovery andschedulingorders which will expedite the manner in which the exchange of discoverymaterials andthe scheduling of time constraints for pretrial matters can be accomplished.IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the entry of pretrial discoveryand scheduling orders are assigned to the United States Magistrate Judge for the Midland-Odessaand Pecos Divisions for all criminal matters pending before the undersigned.SO ORDERED AND ADJUDGED this 12th day of March, 2003.ROBERT JUNELLUNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Standing on the Truth.
Truth will prevail.

June 1, 2009 10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An evidentiary hearing has been set for 10 a.m. Nov. 24 in the case of Yolanda Madden, who was convicted in 2006 and sentenced to 6 1/2 years in federal prison for possession with intent to distribute, according to the Midland federal district clerk’s office.

Madden’s father, Raymond Madden, said his daughter’s attorneys intend to show that Odessa police perjured themselves and falsified documents in her criminal case. Raymond Madden says his daughter was framed by police, who planted methamphetamine on her.

“That’s all we want,” he said. “We want a new trial.”

Raymond Madden said he plans to go to Washington, D.C., on Oct. 1 to discuss the case with federal justice department officials.

September 20, 2009 9:18 PM  

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