Haditha Update: Wired Magazine Reports Use of Live Internet Video

Wired is reporting on the use of a live two-way video stream during testimony in the Article 32 investigations of Marines charged with murder in Haditha,Iraq. Wired does a good job of explaining the technology, but falls a bit short on the law. The hearings held for the Marines are all Article 32 investigations not courts-martial. This is a critical distinction for the law.

At an Article 32 investigation, a witness will be produced if her presence is relevant and she is reasonably available. “Reasonably available” is defined as the witness being located within 100 miles from the situs of the investigation and the “significance of the testimony and personal appearance of the witness outweighs the difficulty, expense, delay and effect on military operations of obtaining the witness’ appearance.” R.C.M.405(g)(1)(1)(A). Essentially a witness must be at the hearing unless his commanding officer determines the cost, difficulty, expense, or effect on military operations outweighs the necessity of his presence.

At a court-martial the determination is different. Under United States v. Shabazz, 58 M.J. 585 (N.M.Ct.Crim.App. 1999), remote video testimony was not allowed, as it violated the accused’s rights under the Sixth Amendment. The court in Shabazz noted some of the problems with the Video Teleconference (VTC) testimony. The most notable of the problems was the fact that it appeared that a person was talking to, or coaching, the witness while she was testifying. This also raises questions about whether she may be looking at documents or testifying from her memory. This would all be important if she were testifying in the courtroom. For a witness is, generally, not allowed to testify while referring to a document.

While VTC or other technologies may be useful in the courtroom, their time may not yet be upon us.

yojoe out

Nevada Supreme Court Issues Opinion: Judge Halverson is Back

The Nevada Supreme Court, on 27 July 2007, issued its opinion in Halverson v. Hardcastle. The result: Judge Halverson is back.


Judge Halverson petitioned the court for a writ of quo warranto to challenge the authority of the chief judge, Chief Judge Hardcastle, to take away her criminal caseload, form a committee to evaluate her conduct, and to bar Judge Halverson from entering the courthouse. That is correct, the chief judge had issued an order prohibiting Judge Halverson from entering the courthouse. The Nevada Supreme Court eventually rules that the chief judge exceeded her authority when she banned Judge Halverson from the courthouse, but was within her authority to establish the committee and remove Judge Halverson from the criminal docket.

Judge Halverson brought her own bodyguards, to block the court’s personnel – five bailiffs, a videographers, and a clerk – from entering her chambers. During this attempted entry, Judge Halverson called 911.

For a number of years, Judge Halverson had been a clerk with the Eight Judicial District in Las Vegas, Nevada. For a number of years she had been the clerk for the chief judge. Four days after Chief Judge Hardcastle ascended to her current post, she fired then-clerk Halverson. As she was no longer a clerk Judge Halverson, ran for judge, and won. Actually, she won the second time. The first time she ran against Judge Gerald Hardcastle, now-ex-husband of Chief Judge Hardcastle, and father of their difficult child.

As a result of her loss during her first run, she brought a complaint alleging Chief Judge Hardcastle had impermissible campaigned for her husband. The Standing Committee of Judicial Ethics and Elections Practices agree, and issued an opinion admonishing Chief Judge Hardcastle to not campaign on behalf of her husband.

After Judge Halverson took the bench the real problems started. These are among the complaints against Judge Halverson:

  • Bailiff complains judge makes him massage her feet and back
  • Judge would put staff members under oath and ask them questions
  • Judge put her husband under oath to ask if the house was clean
  • Judge’s mother asked if the bailiff was her “servant”
  • Judge fell asleep during her first criminal trial
  • Judge spoke to criminal juries, outside the presence of accused and counsel for both parties
  • berated lawyers for not contributing to her election fund (she dismisses this on the basis that no lawyers contributed so she could not be discriminating against any individuals)
  • Judge would call staffer “the evil one,” “bitch,” “the elf,” and “the Antichrist”
  • Judge fired her assistant Ileen Spooner, which resulted in a defamation suit against the judge

(Note: these are only allegations, but come from formal complaints and sworn affidavits – as the author does not wish to become a named defendant)

Judge Halverson’s problems do not end at the courthouse. Apparently, she married her current husband while he was on parole, and she was a law clerk. There is also a pending judgment against her for $42,000. Faziola v. La Macchia, aka Halverson, No. A497569 (Dist. Ct. Clark County Nev.). And, the county has been after her to clean her residence, which contained a large amount of trash in the backyard, overgrown weeds and shrubs, a near-collapsed shed, mosquito-ridden slime in the swimming pool, and the porch and two tents pitched on the driveway were choked with empty oxygen bottles.

It is staggering to consider the judicial resources waisted on this matter. And, as for elevating the legal profession, and the esteem of judges, this could not be worse. Wait, with Judge Halverson at the helm of her scooter and back in the courthouse, it could get much, much, worse.


USC: The Best Team in the History of College Football

According to Stanford‘s new coach Jim Harbaugh, the Men of Troy are,

“There is no question in my mind that USC is the best team in the
country and may be the best team in the history of college football

Coach Carroll was happy but demurred. The Trojans are the unanimous preseason pick to win the Pac-10, for a 5th year in a row. The Trojans picked #1 in the nation by Rivals, Scout, Athlon, and Phil Steele, after finishing #2 in recruiting in 2007.

Fight On!


Loss of JaMarcus Russell Will Not Stop LSU Dominace of SEC

The Tigers must replace the overall first pick in the NFL draft, JaMarcus Russel, their offensive coordinator, and get a new mascot. No problem.

At quarterback they will have Matt Flynn, with Ryan Perrilloux as the backup. They will have the help of Early Doucet and Jacob Hester. Gary Crowton is the new offensive coordinator. Mike IV is the new mascot. All supported by a defense that is outstanding, some say the best in the nation, led by Glenn Dorsey.

Although Rivals.com has them 3rd preseason, this is a joke. West Virginia ahead of LSU, no way. It is true that the Mountaineers have an easier schedule, but that should not derail LSU for the game we have been waiting for with the Trojans of USC. The biggest test for LSU will be on October 6 when they play Florida. The other game to watch is the match up with the Tide on November 3, where they will face their old head coach Nick Saban.

The only thing that can stop the Tigers is Snoop Dogg if he takes out Les Miles.

Fight On!


Nick, we though you were “not going to be the Alabama coach.”

Laser to be Developed for Use by United States Army: Destroys Rockets, Artillery Shells, and Mortar Rounds

The laser is to be mounted on the HEMTT and will be capable of destroying rockets, artillery shells, and mortar rounds.

Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT)

Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT)

The initial contract has been awarded to the Boeing Company to develop a control system for a solid-state laser to be mounted on the HEMTT. The control system, known as a rugged beam control system (BCS), will used to accurately point the laser beam on an enemy target, be it a rocket, shell, or mortar round. The Army has chosen a solid-state laser over the chemical laser because the former is lighter and does not require the constant supply of chemical fuels.

Boeing is one of several companies building an airborne laser weapon (ABL) to be used by the military. The ABL uses a chemical oxygen iodine laser mounted in the nose of a modified 747, patrolling at high altitudes, to track enemy missiles during the boost phase and fire a burst to destroy the missile over the launch site.

Both of these systems fall under the High Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator (HEL TD) Phase I, which seeks to demonstrate that mobile, solid-state laser can be an effective counter to enemy projectiles. The program will eventually transform into a full-fledged Army acquisition program.

yojoe out

“You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have trucks with frickin‘ laser beams attached to their heads! Now evidently my cycloptic colleague informs me that that cannot be done. Ah, would you remind me what I pay you people for, honestly? Throw me a bone here!What do we have?”

Dr. Evil

Supreme Court or YouTube: Scott v. Harris

Scott v. Harris, 127 S.Ct. 1769 (2007), involves a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against a state police officer. Harris was involved in a high-speed chaise, during which he was being chased by the police. Deputy Scott pulled Harris over by hitting the rear of his car, known as Pursuit Intervention Technique, attempting to get him to come to a stop. Harris lost control, crashed, and thereafter found his limbs inoperative.

Harris sued Deputy Scott on the theory that hitting the back of his vehicle was excessive force resulting in an unreasonable search under the Forth Amendment. The 11th circuit held that Deputy Scott was not entitled to immunity, because the law was sufficiently clear at the time to give reasonable law enforcement authorities fair notice that ramming a vehicle under the circumstances of this case was unlawful.

The Supreme Court found that the threshold question of whether Deputy Scott violated the Fourth Amendment was resolved, in large part, by the video from the patrol car taken during the chase. The Court determined that Deputy Scott’s actions were reasonable to terminate the dangerous high-speed chase, which threatened the lives of innocent bystanders. Deputy Scott’s actions did not violate the Fourth Amendment even when it placed the fleeing driver at risk of injury or death.

Justice Stevens authors a dissenting opinion, in which he call into question the driving prowess of this fellow justices,

Had they [the justices] learned to drive when most high-speed driving took place on two-lane roads rather than on superhigh-ways—when split-second judgments about the risk of passing a slow-poke in the face of oncoming traffic were routine—they might well have reacted to the videotape more dispassionately

It leaves one wondering how Justice Stevens drives.

Here is the YouTube connection. On the Supreme Court’s website there are links to pdf. versions of the Court opinions, and in the Scott case there is a link to the video. (Scott is #37). It looks just like a clip from a Fox program on deadly police chases. What will the future hold for electronic evidence? Will the Supreme Court, or any other court, begin to post pictures of victims, video of the trial, or forensic results?


Home Supreme Court Seal

UCLA Assistant Coach = Burglary Suspect

Eric Scott, an assistant coach for FUCLA UCLA was arrested on suspicion of residential burglary. After posting $50,000 bail, he was released from the Norwalk station. Scott had played for the Bruins from 1995-1997.

Fight On!