Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Around the Blogs, Wednesday, January 24, 2007

More from Sex Crimes Blog on the case of Matt Bandy, that AZ teen who got nailed on child porn charges after a virus deposited pictures on his computer. The case ended up so weak that they ended up getting him to plead guilty to showing a Playboy to a minor. I'm not making that up. (The potential liability of, oh, say, 100 million males in this country caused that loud thumping sound you just heard.) The outrageousness, though, isn't limited to this ridiculousness. The story details the insanity, and Sex Crimes spells out some of the lunatic restrictions put on the boy. Please go read. This isn't even Alice in Wonderland. But here are a few more quotes that need noting:

Power corrupts. The ability to arrest and imprison another human being is an immense power that is held in bounds by principles based on common sense and common decency. The principles allow an accused to defend himself: for example, the right to confront witnesses.

The extraordinary reduction in Matt’s charges hinged on a forensic analysis of his computer. Exculpatory forensics revealed that the nine images were probably downloaded without his knowledge onto his hard drive by a virus. Viruses with this capability are alarmingly common and can invisibly infect an operating system when someone clicks on an email attachment or the ‘wrong’ (not necessarily adult) website.
Last year, during the height of the
Mocbot worm, an estimated 265,000 computers were infected daily.
Matt’s attorney vigorously sought to have forensic analysis performed on the computer, which was in possession of the police. With equal vigor, the District Attorney’s office (called the County Attorney’s office in Arizona) blocked access even though the defense had a legal right to examine evidence.

The "sex offender terms" were finally lifted by court order. When Prosecutor Daniel Strange reiterated the child pornography charges, the judge admonished, "I’ll just note for the record, as you were negotiating the plea agreement here, the reason why this agreement took place is because you couldn’t prove the things you just alleged now."
Why was the boy pursued so zealously? Jeanne calls it "a witch hunt" fueled by two factors: Thomas campaigned for office on a promise of being tough on sex offenders; and, he needs a high conviction rate in that area.
The real answer, however, may be the one Matt’s attorney reportedly received when he asked the County Attorney’s office, "Why are you doing this?"
According to Jeanne, he answered,
"Because we can."

Because we can. Like when we asked the DA state rep in OK just how were we supposed to pay for the "reform" the prosecutors were pursuing and she said, "That's not our problem."

From now on, please don’t admonish me when I talk about some prosecutors as being “bad.” Too many of them are like this guy and the Duke lacrosse prosecutor and they tarnish all the good ones out there who temper ambition and self-righteousness with a sense of the true public good. Here’s another example, another case of virus deposits, this time on a teacher's computer, also from Sex Crimes, only less egregious because what happened to Matt Bandy is on a par with the prosecutions of the day care workers in the '80s:

Detective Mark Lounsbury, a computer crimes officer at the Norwich Police Department testified as an expert witness for the prosecution. He maintained that Amero was intentionally surfing for pornography while her seventh grade class busied itself with language arts.

Lounsbury told the court that Amero musts have "physically clicked" on pornographic links during class time in order to unleash the pornographic pictures. However, he admitted under cross-examination that the prosecution never even checked the computer for malware.

When you've been delegated by God to do His work, things like evidence and verification just get in the way. My walls just have too many fist holes in them any more. . . . And check Real Cost of Prisons for a couple of interesting stories, one about PA completely ignoring the experience of its WV neighbors we discussed the other day and going bigger time into methodone treatment and one on some of the creative things TX (!!) is considering to make headway in dealing with offenders and stopping recidivism, including home nurses to work with lower-income mothers and a program on entrepreneurism (will drug dealers be teaching it??). TX started much of the hole we're in now and shouted for everyone to help them dig. I hope that now that it's wanting to fill the hole up, we'll also pay attention.

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