Saint Judy

Judy Clarke, defense counsel

Judy Clarke, defense counsel

Judy Clarke, criminal defense counsel for the self-confessed “Boston Bomber,” is considered “Saint Judy” by many, myself included.

I got to know Judy years ago as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (“NACDL”).

Judy is against executions because, she says, “A civilized society shouldn’t legalize homicide.”

Most recently, consistent with this objective, she fought valiantly to save the life of Mr. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was 19 at the time of the bombing.

The jury decided to kill Dzhokhar instead.

Those who supported Mr. Tsarnaev’s death said an “eye for an eye.”  Some who lost their limbs might, by that logic, have preferred to rip off Dzhokhar’s young legs.

The jury was hardly reflective of its citizen peers.  A poll of the State of Massachusetts showed only 19 % favored death. The rest favored life in prison.  This was the sentiment in a State that hasn’t allowed executions since 1984.  But the U. S. Justice Department wanted to execute Dzhokhar.  You should understand that every juror in that federal prosecution that voted for death had to confirm in open court that they could vote to execute Dzhokhar if he was found guilty; those potential jurors who couldn’t embrace execution as a sentence were dismissed. Continue reading

Don’t you agree, Brian?

Brian Allman, Democratic nominee for sheriff

Brian Allman, Democratic nominee for sheriff

Brian Allman is on the November ballot as the Democratic nominee for Sheriff.

As the public gets to know a candidate, it questions the background and policies that the candidate supports and hopes to implement once elected.

Brian is no different.

Last Thursday evening at the Democratic Committee meeting at the fire house, many Democratic Committee members had questions for Brian.

This is an ongoing dialogue the Committee conducts to learn what to expect from a candidate.

The occasion for the discussion was that Brian wanted to join the Democratic Committee as a member.

In order to become a committee member, the candidate must be nominated at one meeting (last week), and then the Committee votes approval (or not) at the next monthly meeting (in June).

Several questions at the May meeting had to do with the number of law suits that Brian has filed himself.

Of course, court is how we settle disputes that can’t be settled any other way.

But a large part of any lawyer’s practice is discouraging litigation and encouraging settlement.  And the job of Sheriff is not only to enforce the law but to be a peace officer as well, to calm rather than to disturb troubled waters. Continue reading

Virginia is already there! What about other states?

Mark Herring - "local boy" makes good

Mark Herring – “local boy” makes good

Thank God for the Millennials and all those who are not so young but who are tolerant of difference.

We should also thank “a local boy” who used to sell eggs as a kid door to door on Leesburg’s Canby Road for pennies an egg, who went on to study law, began a small practice in Leesburg, served as counsel to Lovettsville, was elected to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, then elected to the Virginia State Senate and finally elected state wide to become Virginia’s Attorney General.

That’s Mark Herring who decided, as our newly minted Attorney General, that treating same sex marriage differently as a state than other marriages was not equal protection of the law, and, as a result, at his direction, Virginia reversed field in pending litigation and the Courts agreed to recognize same sex marriages.

Last week, Mark sat in the U.S. Supreme Court chamber to hear oral argument on what should be the law of the land – for every state.

Mark came away optimistic that we are going to bend toward equal protection and individual liberty nation-wide. Continue reading

For law enforcement – privacy is inconvenient

ciaDirectorWhatever anyone thinks of former CIA network administrator, Edward Snowden, whether as a whistleblowing champ hero or a hacking chump coward, he raised the consciousness of citizens to the fact that they had very little privacy, that we all remain under constant warrantless NSA surveillance for no good reason while their secret big data haul makes the fictional Orwellian Big Brother a harsh reality.

Many are willing to surrender freedom and privacy for seeming security.

Many say they don’t care if the government is hoovering up every bit of information about them – what do they have to hide?

For all the self-asserting bluster about their individual dignity and independence, many have chosen to escape from the hard-earned freedom defined by our bill of rights to embrace humiliating subjection.

A recent declassified report, authored in 2009, but released just this past Saturday, said the IGs from five Intelligence and Law Enforcement agencies couldn’t identify any specific ways that the massive surveillance, under the code name, “Stellar Wind,” exposed by Mr. Snowden, thwarted a single possible terrorist attack.

In a law school note, many years ago, I wrote for a law school journal, that the notion of privacy “implies solitude or quiet or ‘social distance,’ no doubt as a reaction to our densely populated, commercial society” and the “concept of control is fundamental to an American definition of privacy.”

Professor Allan Westin described privacy as the “claim of individuals, groups or institutions to determine for themselves when, how, and to what extent information about them is communicated to others.”

In the hallowed chamber of the U.S. Supreme Court, during oral argument, the government made crystal clear its disrespect for everyone’s “right to be let alone” from the government’s intrusion. Continue reading

Justice left behind

Judge Jerry Baxter

Judge Jerry Baxter

There is a case out of Atlanta, prosecuting and sentencing educators like they were made members of a mob syndicate for changing test results to make their schools and students look better so the authorities wouldn’t close the schools or the teachers or educators lose their jobs.

The State Judge, Fulton County Superior Court Judge, Jerry Baxter, handed out twenty-year sentences that real mobsters and murderers don’t get, nor do corrupt bankers, insider traders, or self-dealing politicians.

So what does this recent injustice have to do with anyone outside of Atlanta?

It’s about the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, why it’s not working, and how, in the bargain, Justice got left behind.

David Berliner, a former dean at the School of Ed at Arizona State University, quoted in a recent New Yorker, said that educators were asked to compensate for factors outside their control: “The people who say poverty is no excuse for low performance are now using teacher accountability as an excuse for doing nothing about poverty.”

Some have observed that these educators would normally be considered first time white collar offenders – if they weren’t black.  I believe it is more about defending a corrupt system that doesn’t work, and making these educators the scape goats, so we’ll lose sight of what’s really wrong here – the failed and failing educational construct.

The Atlanta prosecutors said that the children were cheated of an education, by having their scores changed, so the educators could get raises.

Really?  How do you feed instruction to a food hungry student, compensate for a disrupted family or the lack of community roots, in neighborhoods where violence is everywhere and suffered up close and personal?

These educators were fighting against a system that allowed for no excuses if the test scores faltered, including the practice of having students and educators of poorly performing schools seated in the bleachers at games, humiliating and punishing schools and students, rather than helping, and so, teachers were let go, students were sent out of their neighborhoods to other schools, and, the worst, schools were taken over or closed.

Test erasures had become more obvious, year to year, and this is true across the nation.  An investigation of the Atlanta system uncovered 44 schools cheated, and 200 educators.  35 educators were indicted, cuffed, and pictured in perp walks, like they were the Mob’s “Teflon Don,” John Gotti. Continue reading

Horse and buggy

horse01There’s much before our eyes in Western Loudoun that goes unseen, natural treasures, that are wasted because many don’t understand – and we’re the worse for this widespread ignorance.

Several days ago, a young lady asked the following question, “How wide is this path by the river?”

The answer, “Wide enough for a horse and buggy?”

The disbelieving response, “A horse and buggy?,” like a horse and buggy was the most preposterous thing to imagine in Western Loudoun.

Where I live in Lovettsville, we know several neighbors who drive a horse and buggy and one neighbor has the most excellent team of draft horses that pull a high seated stylish wagon.

Ignorance of our local ways puts at risk our livestock, our crops, and the rich and valued history, lurking around almost every turn in our unpaved country roads.

What’s most sad is to misapprehend how much richer is any life lived consciously in the country.  Continue reading

Column attacking trans child published in Purcellville Gazette

The following column was published in the April 11 edition of the Purcellville Gazette after the editor, Kim Weber, was warned that it was riddled with known defamatory falsehoods and endangered a child. Ms. Weber was offered assistance and education by two different individuals in the community with expertise in this area, and failed to respond to those offers. The email from Equality Loudoun is reproduced below.

After being contacted by the child’s family’s attorney and others, Ms. Weber pulled the column from the Purcellville Gazette website. However, the same personally identifying information (redacted here) appears in the print edition of the paper, now distributed all over western Loudoun.

The column was also published earlier on a local political blog, “The Bull Elephant,” by Republican activist Jeanine Martin. It was sent to her by Delegate David LaRock (and initially falsely attributed to him). We do not link to it here because it also contains the personal information endangering the child. The comments to that blog post follow at the end.

The removal of the online article by Ms. Weber constitutes acknowledgement of her poor judgment in publishing it. Unfortunately, she is unable to retract the print edition that has been distributed to, by the Gazette’s own estimation, “over 40,000 readers.” Other measures will be required to address the damage done by this entirely avoidable error in judgment.

Contact information:

Publisher & Editor-In-Chief: Kim Pregartner-Weber
Editor@PurcellvilleGazette.com.
Phone: 540.431.8507

Mailing Address:
PO Box 65
Purcellville, VA 20134

Physical Address:
130 North 21st Street
Purcellville, VA 20132

Email from Equality Loudoun, (April 7, 2015):

Dear Kim,

I suspect that Mr. Markert submitted a version of this defamatory garbage for publication in your newspaper. It was brought to my attention by a Republican candidate who found it appalling. My hope is that it has already been rejected as unsuitable for a responsible publication, and that is why it has now been published on a blog (although he has used your paper as his credential).

In America, we do not punish an entire category of person because the ignorance of others leads them to fear that a member of that category might theoretically do something wrong. This is a child. She has been publicly called by members of the Stafford community “it,” a “freak on a leash,” and other similar terms implying that she is not human. This child and her family now have to fear for her safety because of the behavior of people like Charles Markert. Here is just a brief list of the outright falsehoods contained in his disgusting smear job, in which he repeatedly slurs her by referring to her as “he” and “a boy”:

“Transgenderism” is not a word.

The condition of being a transgender person, i.e., having a medical intersex condition that results in the wrong gender assignment at birth, is NOT “classified as a mental disorder.”

[Name redacted] is a girl, not a boy. She has been diagnosed by a medical team with expertise in this condition. This is not a matter of “wanting” to “self-identify as a girl” any more than for any other girl, and is not subject to others’ opinion or so-called “disagreement.”

There is nothing “experimental” about school policies that acknowledge the medical reality of students like [Name redacted]. There are jurisdictions that have had such policies in place for years.

Kevin Jennings is not a member of “NAMBLA.” That one sounds legally actionable and should alone be grounds for rejection. I will be contacting Mr. Jennings shortly.

Gender identity (neurological gender) has absolutely nothing to do with sex, sexuality, pornography, or sexual misconduct by anyone.

There has never been an instance of a trans person “violating the privacy” of or posing a threat to anyone else in a public restroom. There has similarly never been an instance of a man or a boy falsely claiming to be a trans woman or girl in order to gain access to a female restroom, another common lie deployed by the Charles Markerts of the world. To the contrary, it is trans people who are frequently the victims of harassment and violence at the hands of people who are misinformed and frightened by hit pieces such as this.

The lies in this piece are the equivalent of lies about racial and religious minorities from an earlier era that I know you and any other responsible publisher would instantly recognize as outside the boundaries of legitimate debate and unprintable. Trans kids are at a tremendously elevated risk for suicide because exactly this kind of defamation convinces them that things will never get better. Leelah Alcorn committed suicide because her parents were influenced by misinformation like this. Google her. There are trans children attending Loudoun schools and they don’t deserve to be subjected to this. What they need is protection from such people and to have the adults around them educated. I would be happy to work with you on this.

I’m still waiting to hear from you about that meeting. I won’t have my community abused.

Best regards,
David Weintraub
Equality Loudoun

Column by Charles Markert as published in the Purcellville Gazette, April 11 2015, with personal identifying information about the child redacted:

It’s Just Common Sense: Virginia Schools Set To Make a Transgender Policy Change

By Charles D. Markert.

Virginia Schools are poised to make a transgender policy change without even consulting parents. Before you yield to that impulse to write this off, think again. It is too important not to have an opinion. In Virginia, and all across America, promoters of the homosexual agenda claim to be opposing bullying, discrimination, intolerance, inequality, and abuse of individual rights, but in reality they are guilty of all the above.

Every once in a while though they push too far too fast and some brave people say no. That recently happened in [Name of school redacted] in nearby Stafford County, Virginia, when a [grade redacted] boy, [Name redacted], decided “he” wanted to “self-identify as a girl” and was allowed to dress as a girl in class, including make-up, jewelry, and high heels: excessive for any [redacted] grader. The school came up with a plan to allow him to use two different single restrooms in the school. But for those who want transgenderism to be accepted and embraced by everyone as normal that was discriminatory, so the school granted [Name redacted] access to the same bathroom the girls use.

In this case and many others, the discrimination is flipped around and targeted against other students who said they disagreed. At least one female student who disagreed with the new school policy was told she could use the girls bathroom after everyone else to accommodate her discomfort with this new policy. The young girls who disagreed with the special treatment of [Name redacted] which compromised their privacy, got a dose of what happens when clear thinking collides with the politically correct thinking on the meaning of tolerance, discrimination, and individual rights. They became the targets of discrimination for not embracing the gender biased policy formed to coddle kids whose behavior is classified in psychiatric journals as a mental disorder.

Fortunately Stafford parents spoke out and the policy was quickly reversed.

Closer to home, the Fairfax County School Board intends to make a similar move in the next few weeks. Unless parents speak out against this social experiment the nonsense will come to Fairfax schools and perhaps Loudoun will be next? The pretense for this social experiment is to provide protection for kids from bullying, but it ignores the fact that current school policies and Virginia laws already prohibit all forms of bullying.

Many schools are encouraging children to embrace and even indulge in behavior that is counter to their individual beliefs and those of their families. This is part of a broad conspiracy which violates individual rights in the name of tolerance. Across the country more and more schools are teaching children very inappropriate and explicit information about sex, and at very young ages. There has been a massive push by groups like the Gay Lesbian Straight Educational Network to push homosexuality into our schools. In Fact, one of the leading members of GLSEN, Kevin Jennings, the safe school czar appointed by Obama, has all but admitted a need to infiltrate our schools by saying that one of the biggest challenges the gay movement faces is recruiting young people to the movement. They were able to infiltrate by using words like homophobia, or using AIDS education as a cover. Parents need to wake up and speak out to demand that we keep education the focus of schools and not promoting sexuality that many find offensive for good reason. Parents do not send kids to school to be exposed to these bizarre distractions and potentially dangerous experiments. Unless parents speak, out these policies will come to Fairfax schools and then Loudoun schools. What value do we put on the safety and wellbeing of our children? If you choose not to speak up, our children will pay the price.

Stay vigilant my friends.

Comments to Purcellville Gazette column as of 2:00 pm, April 11:

Discussion

11 Responses to “It’s Just Common Sense: Virginia Schools Set To Make a Transgender Policy Change”

Mr. Markert -This child (whose name you had no right printing) doesn’t “want” to be a girl or didn’t decide to be a girl, she IS a girl. Being transgender is medical not psychological. Gender is not the same thing as sexuality. Next time please do proper research before you print an article. And yes, we will stay vigilant.

Posted by Gail Boone | April 11, 2015, 1:52 pm
Reply to this comment

Absolutely true. However, it is the Editor/Publisher of this newspaper who is responsible for fact-checking and rejecting submissions that do not merit publication. As pointed out below, Kim Weber was provided with corrections to the factually inaccurate nonsense in this piece. She is the one who will ultimately be held accountable for publishing a combination of known defamatory falsehoods and personally identifying information about a minor child. This was a profoundly irresponsible act that was entirely avoidable.

Posted by David Weintraub | April 11, 2015, 2:01 pm
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To the author of this piece ~ Quoting this: “… whose behavior is classified in psychiatric journals as a mental disorder….” ~ uhm, no, actually, it is NOT. That diagnostic categorization was removed from the DSM-5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, most recent/current edition).by the APA in 2012. If one is going to attempt to provide proof of their position, one should be able to do so with actual facts. If, by “scientific journals” you are referencing publications that support conversion therapy, those are being discredited as harmful, religiously-biased materials that do not have any real science backing them up. As a professional counselor, I find your misrepresentation of the “facts” quite disturbing.

Being transgender is not a disease, disorder, nor a fabrication. It is not sinful, either. Being a theologian and scholar of spiritual and religious scriptures/texts, I have yet to locate ANY passages that declare such a thing. Oh yes, and equating gender identity with sexuality and sexual orientation is simply wrong; they are not at all the same thing; they are separate facets of our beings. Transgender people, unless they actually identify such, are not gay people. They are not driven by depraved urges. Their sexuality is not the motive for changing their bodies ~ aligning with their actual gender identity so as to live the fullest, most authentic life that they can, IS. To harbor neurotic, paranoid thoughts about some imaginary “gay (or trans) agenda” (really??!) and to suspect any and every trans person of being a pervert is a sadly fear-driven perspective that perpetuates hatred, ignorance, divisiveness, and violence.

Anyone who wants to wage a war of “values” over this, claiming to be be in the right and holding the moral “high ground” because their “values” justify cultivating fear, resentment, and aggression towards a whole segment of the population (be it the gay and/or transgender population)… sorry, but i think that there is a failure there to understand what “righteousness” truly is.

Fear-mongering and manipulation under the guise of “protection” ~ claiming to be the victim while being an oppressor ~ are we, as humans, and as a society, STILL playing these games? How sad.

Posted by Adam Lodestone | April 11, 2015, 12:58 pm
Reply to this comment

Beautifully said, Adam Lodestone. Thank you.

Posted by Alison Boissonnas | April 11, 2015, 1:47 pm
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James Randle
Arlington

I find this article well-intentioned, but ultimately wrong. Science is coming to show what many cultures have understood or hundreds of years: that gender identity and biological sex are not linked 1-to-1.

Most people will never encounter a dissonance between their outer sex and their gender; this is called being cisgender.

For some others, the gender a person feels they are (current thinking suggests this is a combination of brain chemistry and psychology) and their outward sex do not match; there are variations, but in general this is called being transgender.

It does credit to this phenomena, this very real human experience, that even at a young age individuals can identify as trans. Perceiving society’s model for “male” and “female,” and having the self-awareness to express for themselves where in the mix they belong, transgender people should be supported.

For perspective’s sake, the cultures that accept the reality of transgederism include the oh-so-liberal Islamic Republic of Iran. In our own homeland, Native Americans have been aware of non-binary sexuality and transgederism for a very long time – longer, I might add, than we have been a country.

I don’t think ad-hominem attacks are helpful in advancing discussions like this one, so I will refrain from labeling the author with unflattering words. However, I will say this: I find the opinion he has expressed and the policy recommendations he advocates to be despicable.

Virginia can do better.

Posted by James Michael Randle | April 11, 2015, 12:21 pm
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I’m fairly certain that this “newspaper” doesn’t have a fact checker. First and foremost, the fact that so much fear-mongering and blatantly inaccurate reporting is even published is irresponsible beyond words. You are talking about a CHILD with a MEDICAL DIAGNOSIS, there is no reasonable explanation for printing this garbage other than to engender fear from people unwilling to educate themselves. If you really want to protect children, protect all of them. Do some research and try publishing some facts rather than this…whatever it is. Transgender kids are just like every other kid, they go in the bathroom to GO TO THE BATHROOM. I don’t know what this guy is doing in there but noone I know goes sightseeing in a restroom.

Posted by Tristan Linquist | April 11, 2015, 12:20 pm
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This has nothing to do with “common sense;” it is a matter of law. Refusing a student who self-identifies as female to use the girl’s restroom is a violation under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 which “protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities which receive Federal financial assistance….” Recent guidance from the US Department of Education has confirmed that such includes transgender students… and legally always has. A student CANNOT be required to use a private restroom either, though a child may be given the OPTION to do so.

If we put any value on the “safety and wellbeing of our children,” that includes ALL children.

Posted by PFLAG of Winchester and the Lower Shenandoah Valley | April 11, 2015, 11:56 am
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While we recognize that this is an “opinion” piece, we are tremendously concerned that virtually every sentence in this article is wrong factually, morally, ethically, and/or legally.

Posted by PFLAG of Winchester and the Lower Shenandoah Valley | April 11, 2015, 12:20 pm
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Please spell “optional” correctly following “Leave a Reply”.

Posted by Kimberly LaFave | April 11, 2015, 11:42 am
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Statistics and facts were provided to the Purcellville Gazette, and it chose to ignore them and instead run this defamatory and inaccurate article. No examples of transgender people attacking others in bathrooms exist in the United States. None. What is true is that transgender people are the most discriminated against, most assaulted, and most murdered identifiable group on the planet.

The Purcellville Gazette has decided that facts don’t matter and that spreading baseless hate speech does. I once had a Scout ask me how the Nazi’s turned so many people against the Jews when the case against them was so fantastic and crazy…here is an example of how it was done.

Connie Rice Leesburg, Virginia

Posted by Connie Rice | April 11, 2015, 11:38 am
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Exactly right, Connie. I agree completely.

Posted by Katie Neville | April 11, 2015, 11:53 am
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Comments to the same column, published on the blog “The Bull Elephant” on April 5, 2015 (as of April 13, 5:30 pm the post is still online with the personal information intact.):

9 Comments
The Bull Elephant

Join the discussion…

bleufishcat • 6 days ago
Wanting to use the loo in privacy isn’t bullying. How come the trans kid isn’t seen as the bully for pushing his way into the girls bathroom? ONE kid parts the sea?! Come on!


Liz • 6 days ago
Thanks to Susan Stimpson, who is running against Speaker Bill Howell, for bringing this issue into the spotlight. Bill Howell seems to have taken a lot of money from Equality VA, which is promoting this kind of thing. Voters need to know more about their candidates and what their actions when it comes to issues like these. #weknowbill #wearenotimpressed


David Dickinson • 6 days ago
30 miles to the north, a couple of free-range parents found themselves being interviewed by the police and threatened by Child Protective Services for letting their kids walk a mile home from a museum.
But here we have a couple of parents who are abusing their own child by pushing their deluded concepts onto this poor 4th grader. Here is a clear case where CPS needs to get involved and save this kid from further harm. Instead, we are having an absurd public debate.


Matt Leeds • 6 days ago
I’m another day closer to my head exploding. The more I hear about what is promulgated and goes on in the public schools, the closer I come to believing I’ve been transported back to 1st Century Rome and the rule of Caligula. There will be no doubt if a horse makes it onto the ballot for school board. 20 years ago, I didn’t like what was going on in the Fairfax County public schools and decided my children would be home schooled; a prescient decision. What happened to schools teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic? Now it’s degeneracy, cross dressing, and perversion. Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, I think we’ve done you proud.


lisalake • 6 days ago
Some one tell Virginia that when a tranny dies and/or gets DNA tested to identify the body… they will still be the gender they were born with.


Catherine Stone McNickle • 6 days ago
I hope the LC School Board is researching what the current policy is on this issue, and starting discussions on whether or not the policy needs to be revisited.


Reinhardt Reganbacker lll • 5 days ago
Please don’t give these people the platform they so desperately are seeking.

However, do not forget to give me the platform I am seeking!


Disappointed In LaRock • 6 days ago
Does Mr. LaRock have any citations or is this just HIS religion speaking?

“They became the targets of discrimination for not embracing the gender biased policy formed to coddle kids whose behavior is classified in psychiatric journals as a mental disorder.”

The Bulletproof Monk -> Disappointed In LaRock • 6 days ago
It is most definitely a mental disorder. Case in point is a man who became a woman, but found it didn’t make him any happier…so he turned around and sued the doctor for not talking him out of it. They ain’t playin with a full deck.

Both websites have been captured, and screenshots are available on request.

Law and disorder

lawDisorder

We have law and disorder in Loudoun County because of our Loudoun County Commonwealth Attorney and our Sheriff.

Our county slogan is, “We byde our time.”  Well, we’re finished “byding” our time.

A popular long-running criminal justice show, “Law and Order,” begins every episode, saying, that: “In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate and equally important groups, the police who investigate crime, and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders,” and then the intro concludes, “these are their stories.”

Well, we’ve got a sad story to tell in Loudoun County.

Our Commonwealth Attorney, Jim Plowman, prosecuted a black man for felonies when three Deputy Sheriffs violated the Ashburn resident’s constitutional right to be left alone.

More than that, this crack law enforcement duo, of Jim and Sheriff Mike Chapman, still can’t figure out, after 1 ½ years, who and how one or more Deputies allegedly embezzled more than $200,000 from the Sheriff’s Office.  At the least, that was awkward!

Only days ago, the Commonwealth Attorney, Jim Plowman, dissed his law enforcement “partner,” Sheriff Mike Chapman. Continue reading

The privacy snatchers

privacyImageYou may not have known that you had a Big Brother in Virginia watching you but Virginia State Police have had automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) that not only take pictures of license plates at the rate of 900 hundred a minute, no matter if it’s day or night, rainy or not, with devices that operate just fine when the police vehicle is traveling at 140 miles an hour while passing or closing.

These devices identify your vehicle, where it is, and when it’s there.  You may think that’s terrific.  But not when you consider that these devices are surveilling citizens suspected of nothing, when there’s no active criminal case, no suspect, no hint of a stolen car, no drug buy in progress.

Still, the police hoover up megabytes of data, and store it until they feel compelled to scrutinize what we may have done, with whom and when.

The First Amendment guarantees the right to associate with whomever you wish without any interference from the state that might “chill” this association.

Based on earlier FOIA requests, we know the State Police has employed these automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) to know who attended political rallies for President Obama and for Vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.  That’s no proper police function.  Rather, it’s a “police state” function. Continue reading

Equal Justice? Not Yet!

UVA Student, Martese Johnson, beaten

UVA Student, Martese Johnson, beaten

We beat up a black student in Virginia – an honor student.

We hung a black man in Mississippi – his feet floating 2-3 feet off the ground.

And we’ve got a local Leesburg councilman from Loudoun County who doesn’t see the point of a diversity commission because Jesus freed the slaves and Jesus would have told us to create such a diversity commission if we really needed one.  (Listen to what he said - https://youtu.be/Texh0_bjvLk )

Well we need more than a commission in America – and a lot smarter thinking public officials than our local councilman.

Sure, it rubs some people wrong to say “we” – you and I – beat up or hung someone.  But our society’s sins of omission make us all responsible for these vile acts in Virginia and Mississippi and in Staten Island in New York and elsewhere, symptomatic of this nation’s historically “uneasy” association with slavery and discrimination, re-emerging more visibly and offensively in recent days.

The failure to act makes us all accomplices after the fact.  John Donne once wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself” because we are “involved in mankind.”  Another way to put it is – a bad man is a good man’s problem – and we have our work cut out for us these days. Continue reading