Lockdowns Don’t Work, including in West Virginia

There was a good article from the Mises Institute, The Evidence Keeps Piling up: Lockdowns Don’t Work, by Ryan McMaken. Here in West Virginia, our it seems that it was our Governor’s proudest life achievement so far, that he “shut down” the state, and then got to create an entire new form of government, which he titled, “The Comeback.” At least while mommy and daddy legislature is still in hiding….. As McMaken noted:

The toll lockdowns have taken on human life and human rights has been incalculable. Increases in child abuse, suicide, and even heart attacks, all appear to be a feature of mandatory stay-at-home orders issued by politicians who now rule by decree without any legislative or democratic due process. And then, of course, there is the economic toll on employment, which will feed negative impacts into the longer term. The economic burden has fallen the most on the young and on working-class families, whose earners are least able to work from home.

These measures also have made a mockery of basic human rights while essentially expropriating private property. Mom-and-pop business owners were told to shut their doors indefinitely or face arrest. The unemployed were told it was now illegal to work for a living if their careers were deemed “nonessential.” Police officers have beaten citizens for not “social distancing” while mothers have been manhandled by cops for attempting to use playground equipment.

https://mises.org/wire/evidence-keeps-piling-lockdowns-dont-work

I’ve been saying, that since West Virginia’s greatest cause of death – one of the worst in the country – is heart disease. Yet our morbidly obese governor obviously doesn’t appreciate that fact. Our usual number of deaths due to heart disease floats just under 5,000. I wonder what it’s going to be this year? We’ll see, but it’s going to be high. This has been the year of the politician and the bureaucrat protecting themselves against the peasants. As McMaken describes, this was planned way in advance, during the Bush Administration, but at the time they viewed the concept of social distancing as “impractical, unnecessary and politically infeasible.” Now we have things like this occurring in a Presidential election:

WARREN, MICHIGAN – SEPTEMBER 09: With his audience of union leadership and journalists socially distanced to reduce the risk posed by coronavirus, Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks in the parking lot outside the United Auto Workers Region 1 offices on September 09, 2020 in Warren, Michigan. Biden is campaigning in Michigan, a state President Donald Trump won in 2016 by less than 11,000 votes, the narrowest margin of victory in state’s presidential election history. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

One of the reasons the Bush bureaucrats decided a lockdown was infeasible is because lockdowns don’t work:

There is more than one reason, but one major reason is that lockdowns have never been shown to be particularly effective. And this lack of success in containment must also be weighed with the very real costs of forced isolation

https://mises.org/wire/evidence-keeps-piling-lockdowns-dont-work

A 2006 paper was published, called “Disease Mitigation Measures in the Control of Pandemic Influenza,” which cal

There are no historical observations or scientific studies that support the confinement by quarantine of groups of possibly infected people for extended periods in order to slow the spread of influenza. A World Health Organization (WHO) Writing Group, after reviewing the literature and considering contemporary international experience, concluded that “forced isolation and quarantine are ineffective and impractical.” Despite this recommendation by experts, mandatory large-scale quarantine continues to be considered as an option by some authorities and government officials.

The interest in quarantine reflects the views and conditions prevalent more than 50 years ago, when much less was known about the epidemiology of infectious diseases and when there was far less international and domestic travel in a less densely populated world. It is difficult to identify circumstances in the past half-century when large-scale quarantine has been effectively used in the control of any disease. The negative consequences of large-scale quarantine are so extreme (forced confinement of sick people with the well; complete restriction of movement of large populations; difficulty in getting critical supplies, medicines, and food to people inside the quarantine zone) that this mitigation measure should be eliminated from serious consideration.

http://www.liebertpub.com/publication.aspx?pub_id=111

But despite the 2006 conclusion, as the paper noted, politicians and bureaucrats don’t necessarily act in the best interests of people, or the nation, but rather in their own personal best interests. They will choose the fork in the road that increases their power – even if it decreases the freedom of the citizenry. That’s the clear explanation surrounding the West Virginia Governor. Clearly he’s adept at acting in his own best interests. He doesn’t pay his taxes. He doesn’t pay his bills. He obtained 24 MILLION DOLLARS IN PPP MONEY for his companies, and so on. Are we to believe that he took control over an entire state government just because he loves us, and he can’t bear to see us suffer? Where was his empathy when he was stiffing regular people and small businesses on his bills? When he said, here in West Virginia, “we’re all in this thing together,” he didn’t mention anything about the fact that the had lawyers and accountants behind the scenes getting him 24 million bucks while the rest of us peasants suffer, did he?

It’s about a power grab – not about saving lives. The evidence shows that lockdowns don’t work. They didn’t work:

Measuring from the start of the year to each state’s point of maximum lockdown—which range from April 5 to April 18—it turns out that lockdowns correlated with a greater spread of the virus. States with longer, stricter lockdowns also had larger Covid outbreaks. The five places with the harshest lockdowns—the District of Columbia, New York, Michigan, New Jersey and Massachusetts—had the heaviest caseloads.

Donald Luskin, The Wall Street Journal

There are other studies, as the Misis Institute listed:

July study published by The Lancet concluded: “The authors identified a negative association between the number of days to any lockdown and the total reported cases per million, where a longer time prior to implementation of any lockdown was associated with a lower number of detected cases per million.”

In April, T.J. Rogers looked at “a simple one-variable correlation of deaths per million and days to shutdown” and found that “The correlation coefficient was 5.5%—so low that the engineers I used to employ would have summarized it as “no correlation” and moved on to find the real cause of the problem. (The trendline sloped downward—states that delayed more tended to have lower death rates—but that’s also a meaningless result due to the low correlation coefficient.)”

In May, Elaine He at Bloomberg showed “there’s little correlation between the severity of a nation’s restrictions and whether it managed to curb excess fatalities.”

In an August 1 study, also published by The Lancet, the authors concluded, “Rapid border closures, full lockdowns, and wide-spread testing were not associated with COVID-19 mortality per million people.”

https://mises.org/wire/evidence-keeps-piling-lockdowns-dont-work

The evidence shows that there was no stopping the activity of the virus, where it was already present. Not even the incredibly-obnoxious virtue-signaling step of redoing your social media profile picture with you wearing a mask, had any positive effect on the pandemic. It was nothing more than political speech. Political speech which politicized a virus. The evidence shows nothing governments did, which had any effect on the virus where it was already present:

In a paper published with the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), authors Andew Atkeson et al.found that covid-19 deaths followed a similar pattern “virtually everywhere in the world” and that “Failing to account for this familiar pattern risks overstating the importance of policy mandated NPIs (non pharmaceutical intervention) for shaping the progression of this deadly pandemic.”

https://mises.org/wire/evidence-keeps-piling-lockdowns-dont-work

So does this weak correlation between lockdowns and effect on COVID justify the tyrannical actions of governors across the United States, and most especially here in West Virginia?

Extraordinary measures require extraordinary evidence. And the burden of proof is on those who seek to use the coercive power of the state to force people into their homes, cripple the economy, and abolish countless basic freedoms for the duration. Have the advocates for lockdowns made their case? It’s hard to see how they have. For one, advocates for lockdowns need to present obvious and overwhelming evidence that lockdowns bring big benefits far in excess of the no-lockdown approach. They have not done so. Moreover, they have not shown that a lack of lockdowns is anywhere near as dangerous as they have claimed in the name of pushing lockdowns to begin with. We can already see what the no-lockdown scenario looks like. It looks like Sweden, and that’s a better outcome than many prolockdown regimes can claim. Governments are nonetheless likely to continue claiming their lockdowns worked. In ancient days, a witch doctor might perform a rain dance on Tuesday and claim credit when it rained on Wednesday. Lockdowns are increasingly looking like the modern equivalent of a rain dance. 

https://mises.org/wire/evidence-keeps-piling-lockdowns-dont-work

That’s what Governor Justice is doing. He’s doing a rain dance for the public. Some thank him for it. Some hate him for it. And all suffer for it. Well, except the (executive branch) politicians and bureaucrats…..

Delegating our Freedom to a Left-Wing University

I watched a little bit of the West Virginia Governor’s daily live press conference. After he finished mumbling, he introduced our “Czar,” Dr. Clay Marsh, who is apparently the person running our State (as a Czar does) this summer, and doing so in the nature of a Far East authoritarian regime. See Singapore. This is being done without any involvement of the “free people” of West Virginia, as our Constitution calls us. Nor our elected representatives.

Our “Czar” speaking to his people today during the live cast.

This is a “Czar” by the way – the first one, actually. His name was Ivan the Terrible. He ruthlessly crushed the Russian aristocracy (you know, like the billionaire coal barons) and established autocratic (dictatorship) rule in Russian, which would continue all the way through modern times.

Who is our unelected Czar? He’s the chief health officer at WVU, overseeing their hospitals and medical school. This may provide some context as to why a Red State governor is acting like a Blue State governor, in terms of unconstitutional restrictions on individual liberties. Like most other public universities in 2020, WVU is a bastion of left-wing politics which is far out of line with the conservative West Virginia populace.

Case in point: Just a few days ago at WVU, the Chief of their campus police department was participating in a Zoom meeting – apparently an “online diversity event – and onlookers observed a #thinblueline flag inside his home. Obviously this is a pro-law enforcement flag. My town has one on the official town welcome/goodbye sign, along with the civic groups and church signs. I think people misunderstand what it actually means. But in any event, it has become a symbol of support for police officers. My criticism has always been that it implies that good cops protect the bad ones. But clearly, it means just pro-police to most people. And now the volunteer fire guys and EMS guys have their own versions. There’s probably twenty types now. It’s certainly nothing you would be surprised to find in the home of a police officer, or a bumper sticker, or whatever.

The Chief and the TBL flag.

This guy wasn’t even publicly flying his flag – it was in his house. His house!

Within hours of this TBL flag being spotted in his home, WVU professors were demanding that he be fired, and he was forced (presumably) to issue an apology, which is still now prominently displayed on WVU’s website.

“I am committed to rebuilding that trust beginning today. I am taking the flag down from my office wall,” he concluded.

Literally a screenshot off WVU’s main website. Taken today.

Even after apologizing, WVU professors were still demanding his resignation. WVU’s English Department professor retweeted the apology and commented that “[t]he Blue Lives Matter flag is associated with white supremacy.”

Professor of Biochemical Genetics, Vagner Benedito, was still calling for his resignation.

Professor Benedito continued his comments, as reported by Campus Reform:

“Campus police chief is a position we all should trust. POC will not be trusting his leadership. Moving forward, he must resign to make sure there is inclusions and equality regarding the police actions on campus!” Benedito wrote.

Benedito told Campus Reform that it while it would be “ludicrous” to expect Chedester to remove the flag from his office, he does “expect the police on campus to defend everyone, including minorities,” and believes that Chedesters’ possession of the flag demonstrates his unwillingness to do so. 

“As you already know, that flag was crafted to oppose the Black Lives Matter movement, even though historically police lives have always mattered while black lives have been taken away by systematic police brutality over and over again,” Benedito said.

Benedito added that he did not find Chedester’s apology letter “convincing.”

“If he was indeed ignorant about its meaning, he should not be in a position of so much power for being so much misinformed about the current situation of the country, especially in matters involving the police,” Benedito told Campus Reform.

“To be clear, the diverse community at WVU and allies are demanding the replacement of WVU Chief Police moving forward,” Benedito said.

https://www.campusreform.org/?ID=15266

If it were me, I would have let them fire me, and then I would have sued them for retaliation against my First Amendment rights to freedom of speech. That would be a very clear case, and it would probably do well (Hint, hint). But there’s much more.

This is the same WVU that is promoting the anti-American “1619 Project,” in an attempt to destroy our history, culture, way of life, and Constitution. This is an effort led by left-wing academics and social justice warriors to “reframe” American history. Instead of America’s founding being 1776, they teach now that the date is 1619, when the first African slaves were brought to Virginia.

https://diversity.wvu.edu/resources-and-training

Never mind the inconvenient truth that the Colony of Virginia attempted to make slavery illegal in 1763, but the bill was vetoed by King George III and Parliament (hence the phrase “no taxation without representation”). In fact, the Declaration of Independence included 27 Grievances, the first of which included complaints that England had stopped American colonies from banning or restricting slavery in their colonies, including Virginia.

In case you didn’t know, the slave trade was a major component of the British economy throughout the 18th century, as well as in the early 19th century. England didn’t even abolish slavery until the 1840s, which I’m sure was wholly unrelated to the reality that the market no longer existed for the most part, due to the loss of many of their colonies in the New World.

Even well known historians are pissed about this.

Over the last few months, a number of respected historians in America have had very critical comments about the New York Times endeavor. Jarrett Stepman, author of The War on History: The Conspiracy to Rewrite America’s Past, has collected the opinions of these historians.

Allen Guelzo is a renowned historian and professor at Gettysburg College. He called the 1619 Project an example of bad history wrapped in destructive ideology. He added that it amounted to a “conspiracy theory” that is attempting to “tarnish capitalism.”

Gordon Wood is a well-known historian of the American Revolution. I have a number of his books on my shelf. He has criticized the 1619 Project in a number of interviews. He said he was surprised that the New York Times could be “so wrong in so many ways.” He is also concerned that the material is “going out into the schools with the authority of the New York Times behind it.” He fears it will “color the views of all these youngsters who will receive the message of the 1619 Project.”

James McPherson is another respected historian. He observed that the project “left most of the history out” and was appalled that it was put together by “people who did not have a good knowledge of the subject.”

The 1619 Project, by Kerby Anderson, Point of View, https://pointofview.net/viewpoints/1619-project/

But this is what WVU is pushing/teaching. Oh, there’s more. Straight off of WVU’s website:

If it isn’t clear to you that WVU is knee deep in left-wing politics and social engineering, there’s a lot more out there on the topic if you care to look. Heck, take a look at the political donations made by WVU employees since the early 90s. Almost all to Democrats.

Let’s look specifically at the WVU Health Sciences, the WVU Medical School and the WVU Health Sciences Center, who’s guiding our feeble leader at the moment:

Again, this is from 1990 to the present. Look at how politically engaged they are. And look who they support. Look who they don’t support. Do you still think there’s no politics involved here? Do you think our Governor even knows he’s being controlled by left-wing academia? And by extension we are being controlled. I suppose the term, “Czar,” isn’t necessarily subtle irony.

Putnam County W. Va. Search Video Update No. 2

Here’s a quick update video I did for Youtube on the Dustin Elswick case – the case where the drug task force was caught on video searching his house by hidden cameras.

Update on the Putnam Search Video Case

I’ll be in federal court tomorrow, Monday, February 3, for a pretrial hearing in the other Putnam County case with a video, and will potentially be meeting with additional witnesses afterwards, if there’s time.  If you have information, please let me know.

A few days back I had to trim the video in order to take out the local TV coverage of the task force guys, where they’re walking around the trailer park, banging on doors, etc. They claimed copyright on the footage and threatened to sick their lawyers on me.  So I just took that part down.  But I assume that you can find it on their site if you look for it. At some point, I’m sure it will be evidence of record anyways.

Since the original video was uploaded, the Putnam County Sheriff has ordered an internal investigation. Right now we’re awaiting the results of that investigation, and also proceeding with our own.

PUTNAM-COUNTY-SHERIFF-STATEMENT

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I have personally met with investigators, and have provided them whatever they wanted out of my file.  I also made my client and an eyewitness available to them for questioning.  I also have received yet another video showing them inside an individual’s home, and I have also provided that to the investigators – with the individual’s consent, of course. Numerous other people have contacted us in regards to other situations involving this same group of guys, and I’m still in the process of speaking to them all.

Here are a few more photos which address important aspects of the situation. Here’s where the Putnam County Special Enforcement Unit cut the lock on my client’s gate at the end of driveway, before driving towards the house in a white truck, and what appears to be two black Ford Explorer unmarked police cruisers.

Here’s where the police officers climbed through the window to get inside the house.  They pushed in a window unit air condition. It was actually one of those indoor ACs, but it still requires a window unit for exhaust and drainage. This photos were taken immediately following the search.

Here’s where they yanked the surveillance camera cord. It’s of the type that has two plugs. One of the plugs was pulled out, and the other was ripped in half, leaving the connector still in place.

6E008E60-B176-4F50-B66E-B4508BDC83F3

How do we know it wasn’t already like that? Remember the part of the video where the guy in the SWAT outfit was walking across the bridge? (5:41 in the video) When he gets to the end of the bridge, it freezes. That’s this actual camera. And the point at which it freezes is when the damage occurs to the camera. I originally thought that camera had survived.  But no, that one was actually severed, and you see the moment it was severed.

Here’s the guy walking across the bridge:

Screen Shot 2020-02-02 at 4.16.40 PM

And here’s the exact moment that camera was disabled:

Screen Shot 2020-02-02 at 4.16.08 PM

As for what their defense is at this point, I don’t know.  But self-proclaimed “Bailiff” of the Putnam Sheriff’s Department did confront me on social media and try to set me straight on the facts, and the law. He implied that the officers entered with the landlord’s consent. The only problem with that is, a landlord cannot authorize law enforcement to search their tenant’s residence. That’s Fourth Amendment 101, which is why a search warrant is still required even to search the hotel room of an overnight guest (minus a ticking time bomb or something) They can’t just ask the hotel manager for permission to search. A warrant is still required. Secondly, the landlord was questioned very early on, and denied knowing anything about it. That may have been a lie.  But if it was, then they can point fingers at each other when it comes time to be placed under oath. But it still won’t be a defense to an illegal search by law enforcement.

As for a criminal investigation, I have no knowledge of any agency investigating them criminally.  That doesn’t mean it’s not happening. But nobody has notified myself, nor my client, of there being one. That’s why I believe it’s important to share this information with the public. In the end, the citizens should be informed of what their government is doing. Or not doing.

WV prison guard stops our client at gunpoint in Doddridge County, WV

Check out this new case. Police officer impersonation incident by a WV Division of Corrections CO / Parole officer. We met with investigators already, who were extremely concerned about what they saw here….

If you have any information, please contact us.

Putnam County Creepy Task Force Search Video

Just in case you haven’t seen this making the rounds yet, I uploaded this to Youtube. It’s too big for this site, and I’m done hosting videos directly to Facebook, because they censor everything these days.  The video is pretty self-explanatory.  We will be filing a federal lawsuit.  If you know something, or you have a video of your own, or a similar incident, please let us know.

Update on the Sizemore “search and seizure” civil rights case

Here’s an interesting, and academic (for Constitution nerds), update on the Sizemore federal civil rights lawsuit, which had been in the news recently.

This is the one where the drug “task force” had found heroin in the client’s home, but the case was dismissed after a federal judge found that the officers had made numerous false statements to the magistrate in order to get the search warrant.  This is also actually the case I last posted about, since I haven’t been posting much on here lately.

Should the fact that officers were found to have made false statements under oath to get a fraudulent warrant, have been allowed to go away quietly since drugs were actually found, or should something have been done about it?  The news media wasn’t happy about it, necessarily, but I elected to do something – heroin or no heroin.  And here’s why:

Either “equal justice under the law,” etched into the walls of the Supreme Court, is just decoration, or it actually is enforced and put into practice.

Here is the response brief we just filed to some of the defendants’ motion to dismiss.  I really enjoyed writing this one, because it was as if I were back in my old baseball days, and being a kid who was bigger than most, the pitcher gave me an underhand slow pitch, just begging me to hit it out of the park.  Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t think so.  I really look forward to reading the outcome of this one.  I don’t think it’s going to turn out like they had hoped . . . .

 

Here is the motion to dismiss the defendants filed:

 

Here is the original Complaint itself:

 

West Virginia State Police and asset forfeiture in the news this weekend. The ugly truth.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail had an article this weekend on a New Jersey couple who were pulled over by a West Virginia State Trooper on their way to a casino.  They had $10,000.00 with them.  The state trooper took all but $2.00 and sent them on their way.  He also took their cell phone (presumably to search it for evidence of a crime, such as drug dealing).

This highlights what is perhaps the ugliest, most unconstitutional, most nazi-ish, thuggish, and un-American behavior engaged-in by the government at the present time: asset forfeiture.  This is the way it works.  You get pulled over for a traffic offense.  You have cash on you, or in the vehicle.  The officer seizes the cash, because they consider the cash itself to constitute evidence of being a drug dealer.  They don’t have to charge you criminally whatsoever.  They then serve you with a notice that, if you want to redeem your cash, you have to contact the court and the prosecuting attorney, and formally claim the cash.  In so doing, the process implies that have to explain to the court, and the prosecutor, where you obtained the money, etc.  The theory is, that drug dealers are not going to claim the money.  The the law enforcement agency gets to keep it, and the prosecutor’s office gets 10%.  Talk about a conflict of interest . . . .

In reality, the law provides that in order to keep the currency which was seized from the citizens, the State, pursuant to W. Va. Code § 60A-7-703(a)(6) (1988), is required to demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that there is a substantial connection between the property seized and an illegal drug transaction.  This finding is in addition to the initial finding of probable cause that an illegal act under the drug law has occurred. See Syllabus Point 4 of State v. Forty-Three Thousand Dollars, No. 31224 (W. Va. 11/26/2003) (W. Va. 2003).

Only after the State has filed a civil forfeiture petition, and met its’ burden of proof by a preponderance is the citizen required to prove how he/she/they came into ownership of the currency. Id. at 6.

In the case of the couple in the Gazette article, Dimities Patlias and  Tonya Smith, they got nowhere until they contacted the media.  The reporter, Jake Zuckerman, started making some phone calls, including to the prosecuting attorney, and voila, their money was returned in full.  Now the couple is rightly pissed off, and much of the public is learning about this un-American scheme for the first time.

The Prosecuting Attorney of Jefferson County, who returned the money is a good guy.  Kudos to him for doing the right thing after looking into it.  I actually had an asset forfeiture case with him previously, and he returned the money in that case as well.  I also represented some of his family members in a real estate related jury trial, which we won, thankfully.  This is a problem in a national scale.  This occurs everywhere, and is practiced by the federal government as well.

Summersville Speed Trap/Scam on Route 19 in West Virginia Claims an Innocent Disabled Man

UPDATE 8/20/18:  Our FaceBook post on the topic.

UPDATE 8/17/18: I obtained the Criminal Complaint from the incident.  It is indeed signed by both the sheriff’s deputy who was the arresting officer, as well as the Summersville PD officer.  It’s not a notarization, but it is a signature.  While it doesn’t make sense as to why they did it that way, that process would be legal.  The following is the full text of the narrative, which is sworn under oath as the probable cause basis for the arrest:

ON THE ABOVE DATE IN SUMMERSVILLE NICHOLAS COUNTY, WV, I CONDUCTED A TRAFFIC STOP ON A MAROON CHEVY COLORADO BEARING WV REG. XXXXXX FOR NO BRAKE LIGHTS.  THE DRIVER WAS IDENTIFIED AS JEFFREY JONES.  WHILE SPEAKING TO THE DRIVER I OBSERVED HIM TO BE DISORIENTED, DROWSINESS, CONFUSED, BLOOD SHOT EYES, AND HE DID HAVE SLURRED SPEECH.  MY FIRST OBSERVATION HE WAS SWEATING PROFUSELY AND DID HAVE HIS HEAT ON IN HIS TRUCK. HE WAS ALSO FUMBLING HIS ITEMS AND DROPPING MONEY OUT OF HIS WALLET.  I PERFORMED THE HGN TEST ON JEFFREY AND WHILE ADMINISTERING THIS TEST HE DID SHOW IMPAIRMENT. JEFFREY WAS TAKEN TO SRMC FOR A BLOOD DRAW.  WHILE UNDER MIRANDA, JEFFREY DID ADMIT THAT HIS BROTHER KENNY HAD GIVEN HIM A PILL THAT HIS WIFE TAKES FOR ARTHRITIS AND PAIN. A DRE EVALUATION WAS DONE ON JEFFREY. THE INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS COMPLAINT IS BASED ON THIS OFFICERS INVESTIGATION.

According to Mr. Jones’ brother, they picked his truck up later that same day/night at the local impound for the exorbitant sum of $350.00, and it was driven home, with a vehicle following behind.  The brake lights worked just fine.  The narrative included no allegations of improper driving.  That means, the only basis for the stop was for a improper equipment violation which didn’t exist.  In other words, it appears to be a lie.  Without improper driving, what other information did this deputy have to want to stop Mr. Jones?  The only information he had was the color of Mr. Jones’ skin.  This is unfortunate, but not unheard of.  The same basis was used to stop my client Antonio Tolliver.  That state trooper is now a former state trooper.

What does that mean?  If the State/Prosecutor can’t prove that the vehicle had no brake lights, in light of testimony and evidence from Mr. Jones’ family and friends that the car’s brake lights worked just fine, the stop will have been illegal.  Under the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine, everything that happened subsequently, is inadmissible in court.  Even assuming the blood draw was legal, which is a big “if,” and the supposed statement about the pill for arthritis and pain was legal, they cannot be used against Mr. Jones.  The arrest, and everything which happened afterwards,  is unconstitutional and illegal.

So he’s driving perfectly normal, gets pulled over for an equipment violation which doesn’t exist, gets put through field sobriety tests and supposedly fails.  So why at that point didn’t they give him a breathalyzer?  Instead they call Deputy Junk Science to arrive, who took a class on recognizing people who had taken prescription drugs?  Then forcibly taken to a hospital and forcibly withdraw blood from his body? He was driving normally, and wasn’t bothering anyone.  The only thing he did wrong was drive into a notorious speed trap, where officers are itching to pull over someone who looks like they’re coming down from one of the rust belt cities with a load of heroin.  Which brings us back to racial profiling.  It would be interesting to look at some of the other cases of stops on Route 19 in Summersville over the past few years.


Yesterday, WVVA ran a story about Jeffrey Jones, a man local to Greenbrier County, who had an unfortunate encounter with the police in Summersville, West Virginia – a place with the reputation as a well known speed trap extortion racket.  As a disclaimer, I don’t represent him in any way, but I do know the man since he works at my local Kroger.  He is the nicest guy, always smiling, and always helpful.  Everyone loves him.  What other grocery store employee has customers that take photos such as these?

 

These photos speak for themselves, which were posted on the WVVA website.  From the article:

SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. (WVVA) Jeffrey Jones of Lewisburg is no stranger to hard knocks. As a child, he battled Spinal Meningitis, a condition that left him 90 percent deaf and with one leg longer than the other.

“Growing up, I had Meningitis. Everyone always thought I was stupid because I couldn’t hear. And because I was the smallest in the class, everyone picked on me.”

Despite the physical limitations, Jones said he never misses at day of work keeping track of the carts at the Ronceverte Kroger; the same place where his family said he was hit by a car a couple years ago and broke a hip.

“He stops and checks on everyone everywhere he goes,” said his friend Brianna Barkley. “There’s not a person that’s a stranger. He spreads happiness and friendship to everyone he sees.”

That job may be in jeopardy after Jones said he was unlawfully stopped by a Nicholas County Sheriff’s deputy on Sunday, August 5th, for a broken brake light. He was arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI).

Then there was a phone call from a local legislator, to the Attorney General’s Office on his behalf:

Through his work at Kroger over the years, Jones has made friends from all walks of life, including Greenbrier County Del. Jeff Campbell, (D) 42nd Dist., who on Tuesday, personally requested the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office for an investigation.

“I would like to see the charges dismissed. I would like to see the $350 he spent to get his truck out of impound reimbursed. I think his wages should be reimbursed. And I’d like to see an apology.”

Oops.  So the Summersville Chief of Police contacts the news station and makes a stunning denial:

UPDATE: Summersville Police Chief John Nowak said Thursday his officers did not participate in the arrest of Jeffrey Jones on Sunday, August 5th.

Although Patrolman R.L. McClung with the Summersville Police Dept. signed both pages of the criminal complaint, the chief said the officer merely notarized the document for the arresting officer, Deputy J.D. Ellison with the Nicholas County Sheriff’s Dept.

Ok, say what?  Your officer “notarized” a criminal complaint?  Here is a sample Criminal Complaint, which is actually a form provided by the West Virginia Supreme Court, from a recent case of mine (which resulted in a large settlement and an officer being fired):

ExampleCriminalComplaint

As you can see, there is no signature block for a “notarization.”  Criminal Complaints, which are standardized forms meant to comply with state and federal constitutional requirements applicable to the process of putting a person temporarily behind bars, are signed by the “Complainant,” who is almost always a sworn law enforcement officer.

The Criminal Complaint notes that the complainant must be present in person before the Magistrate, who will authorize the arrest and subsequent incarceration, assuming the Magistrate believes probable cause exists based on the sworn written testimony/explanation offered by the Complainant/Police Officer.

In my 12 years of experience practicing law around the State of West Virginia, I have never heard of a police officer “notarizing” the Criminal Complaint of another police officer.  And being a civil rights lawyer, I have examined probably thousands of Criminal Complaints.  It would be understandable for one officer to draft and sign the complaint where there were multiple officers involved.  They don’t all have to sign their name to the complaint.  But I’ve never heard of another officer, from an entirely different agency, who wasn’t even present at the incident/arrest, to apply under oath for the signature of the Magistrate, which is effectively an arrest warrant.  That would be hearsay, and would not establish probable cause.  No competent Magistrate would sign such a Criminal Complaint.  The only exception would be, if the Magistrate did not know because that fact was concealed.

I’m not posting Mr. Jones’ Criminal Complaint, but somebody has some explaining to do in Summersville.  I wonder how many other arrests/tickets given by the county sheriff’s department were actually signed by a city police officer in Summersville, given their reputation as a well known speed trap extortion operation?  Hmmm.  Like all the old ways in West Virginia, it all comes down to money.  Maybe when the legislature finishes cleaning up the Supreme Court mess, they can come follow this money trail in Summersville.  I’m sure he isn’t the only victim – just one innocent enough to have people stand behind him.

Our new mission: South Carolina man wrongfully imprisoned for murder from 1977 through 2016

We are pleased to have been hired to represent a man named James McClurkin.  James was convicted of murder in 1977.  In late 2016, law enforcement appeared at his parole hearing and testified that the old murder case was reopened, and that James was innocent.  James was released.  He was 63 years old, and had been in South Carolina prisons since the age of 18.

IMG_6230.JPEG

South Carolina is one of the states which does not provide compensation to innocent people who are wrongfully imprisoned and then later exonerated.  Hopefully that legislation can soon be enacted in South Carolina.  But until that happens, we are working hard to compensate Mr. McClurkin for the terrible injustice which occurred in his case.

Here are some of the media accounts of his release from prison:

Chester man paroled after 39 years for crime he denies. Were wrong men convicted?

Judge says Chester men must go to S.C. Supreme Court to seek exoneration for murder

‘I am free’: Chester man in prison 43 years goes home, still hoping to be exonerated

‘The air. It smells different. Like freedom.’ Man freed after 39 years in prison for murder police now say he didn’t commit

The sheriff said he didn’t do it and he was released from prison but stigma impossible to shake.

James McClurkin and his co-defendant were convicted of the 1973 murder of laundromat attendant Claude Killian.  James, and his co-defendant Ray Charles Degraffenreid, both African Americans, were convicted under the brutal 1970’s Chester County, South Carolina justice system, which involved, among other things, a presiding trial judge who was known for using the “N word” while on the bench.

The real murderer actually confessed in 1992, which was corroborated by the fact that he was convicted of a similar murder, and by the fact that he had no alibi on the night of the murder.  However, the justice system once again failed James, and he was sent back to prison for another 25 years. Now law enforcement reopened the case, and have concluded that the real murderer was telling the truth.  How did this occur?  Well, among other issues, the mother of the real murderer was apparently the maid of the prosecutor who prosecuted James and Ray Degraffenreid.

This sounds like a novel, but it’s not.  It’s real, and it was only uncovered because a courageous new sheriff was willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt, and double check an old case.  Follow along as we jump into this case and work to reverse the wheels of justice.

IF YOU LIVE IN SOUTH CAROLINA, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR POLITICIANS AND EXPRESS YOUR SUPPORT IN PLACING THESE CASES BEFORE THE GOVERNOR OF SOUTH CAROLINA.  BOTH JAMES MCCLURKIN AND RAY CHARLES DEGRAFFENREID SHOULD BE PARDONED BY THE GOVERNOR OF SOUTH CAROLINA.

You can donate in order to assist with James McClurkin’s living expenses through the following site:

https://www.youcaring.com/jamesmcclurkin-815274