Top News Story! "Niggerhead!"
Posted: October 2, 2011 12:06 PM PDT
Updated: October 4, 2011 12:30 PM PDT
Texas -- "Niggerhead" is ranch on the Brazos River in West Texas that was first leased by Texas Gov. Rick Perry's father Ray, a cotton farmer and county commissioner, in 1983. When the Texas Governor's family began using the ranch in his home state there was already a sign bearing the name "Niggerhead" at the entrance. Gov. Perry took friends, supporters, and politicians to the 1,070-acre retreat where he hosted turkey and wild hog shoots between 1983 and 2006. Gov. Perry added his own name to the lease for two periods, the first in 1997 and 1998, and then from 2004 to 2007, when he was Governor.
Gov. Perry now faces questions over how quickly he removed the sign, which was emblazoned on a large flat rock. The media spoke to seven people who remembered seeing the sign standing at the gate at various times in the 1980s and 1990s. One former ranch worker told the media it was still there in 2008.
The name "Niggerhead" was applied to various landmarks in the United States which were later renamed. In the 1960s Lady Bird Johnson, wife of President Lyndon Johnson, led a campaign to change the offensive name of a mountain in Texas, which became "Coloured Mountain."
June 21, 2011
After an 18 month investigation the Brevard County Sheriff's Office in Florida announced it has solved a murder case in which a man was wrongly imprisoned for nearly three decades. James Dvorak was found dead more than 30 years ago on Cordova Beach in Central Florida. For 27 of those years William Dillon maintained his innocence as he sat behind bars doing time for Dvorak's murder. "Based on the information we have, the DNA evidence, some witness statements and some other information all appearances are [Dillon] was not involved in the beating death of Mr. Dvorak," Brevard County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Lt. Todd Goodyear said.
The DNA testing of evidence that helped gain Dillon's release from prison in 2008 also helped lead the sheriff's office to four new suspects. The suspects have not been charged but the case has been handed over to the prosecutor’s office.
"It's a little bit different to put your suspects out before you arrest them," Goodyear said. He says with the focus off of Dillon the sheriff's office hopes to find more witnesses to "fill in some of the blanks."
Although Dillon says he is "extremely glad" that the sheriff's office found out who committed the crime, he still has a heavy heart. "It hurts me down deep in my soul," Dillon said, "because I have been dealing with this for 30 years." Dillon says he spent 27 years wrongly imprisoned writing songs.
Goodyear says over those 30 years investigative tools have changed. "We have the advantage of one thing they didn't," Goodyear said. "Science. And that has been very helpful in this." As the sheriff's office continues to investigate those they say are responsible for Dvorak's death, the man who was originally convicted of the crime is still trying to rebuild his life.
Dillon plans to do this by using the songs he wrote while wrongly incarcerated. On August 16, 2011 Dillon's CD "Black Robes and Lawyers" will be released. The title song starts off with Dillon saying, "I was arrested for murder on August 26, 1981, for a crime I didn't commit."
Arroyo Grande Klan!
March 30, 2011
Arroyo Grande, California (WCJB) -- First, an 11-foot wooden cross was stolen from Saint John's Lutheran Church in Arroyo Grande, California. Then, weeks later, the cross was discovered set aflame in the middle of the night outside the bedroom window of a 19-year-old woman of mixed race. Now authorities are investigating the case as a theft, arson and hate crime, police said Tuesday. The burning cross was erected in a neighbor's large front yard adjacent to the house rented by the woman and her mother. The mystery of who stole the cross and set it afire has deeply disturbed the small coastal town of Arroyo Grande, located midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. It sits in the heart of a wine region, just 47 miles northwest of the vineyards depicted in the movie "Sideways."
Police Chief Steven Annibali said Tuesday that a cross-burning is unheard of for his community of 17,000, and that only three hate crimes have been reported in his town the past 15 years, mostly for uttering slurs. That figure is the lowest for San Luis Obispo County, he said. With a picturesque mountain backdrop and only about 5.5 square miles in size, Arroyo Grande calls itself "the gem" of the central California coast. Authorities have announced a $3,500 reward in the case and even established a "Justice for All in Arroyo Grande" fund-raiser to raise that amount.
An attorney for the alleged victim and her mother has criticized the police investigation. "The family is trying to go about daily business, but they have ongoing concerns about their security and the direction of the investigation," said the family attorney. "For example, if there are known racist elements in the community, it is not clear that the police are looking at these groups. It appears that it would be a logical starting point for an investigation, if there are known racist groups in the community. The first problem is that the police initially treated this as a prank and may have lost the opportunity to conduct an effective investigation," the family attorney said.
Arroyo Grande police have not released the name of the 19-year-old woman, citing confidentiality provisions under California hate-crime laws. Annibali, the police chief, said his agency moved quickly over the weekend following the cross burning, which occurred on a Friday, and is now working with the FBI, the California Department of Justice, San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's investigators and the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department. His agency is also working with the Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP, he said.
"It's funny that he would even say that because we have a very good relationship with the victim and the mother from the start," Annibali said about the family's attorney. "Like with most crimes, you look at who would want to do this, and have you been involved in any activities that would lead someone to do this, or do you know somebody who would," the police chief said. "I'm very comfortable that we handled this appropriately," he continued. "We have been given access to any resources that the FBI has. And for a local agency like this, it's unprecedented." Annibali said police never called the cross-burning a "prank," saying that word was misattributed by local media. Agencies are now pursuing several leads, and he believes the cross-burning isn't the work of an organized hate group, he said. "We feel right now that it's people who are local. We don't think it's an organized group or anything like that. It's bloggers who want to raise that issue," the chief said. "There's no active hate groups in Arroyo Grande, none that we're aware of. We're working with the FBI, so we're pretty confident."
Arroyo Grande police submitted physical evidence from the cross-burning scene to an independent crime lab for forensic analysis, authorities said. Authorities are also analyzing an "accelerant" used on the cross, Annibali said. In an interview at her home, the mother said she and her daughter looked out their window after midnight March 18 and were horrified by the sight of a burning cross just 12 feet from their house. "We were just blindsided. My daughter does not have a beef with anyone. We were both terrified. My daughter had a friend over and we looked out the window and there it was, a huge burning cross," the mother said. "We are just trying to maintain normalcy. We would like to see whoever did this caught," the mother said. She added that her daughter "is doing better now -- I bought her a puppy. She can give some love instead of all that hate and anger."
The cross was stolen from the grounds of Saint John's Lutheran Church between February 5 and March 5, police said. The exact date is uncertain because church members weren't aware of the theft for a month, police said. The cross is ceremonial and wasn't an architectural fixture on the church, police said. At 12:30 a.m. on March 18, local police and firefighters were called about the cross-burning. By the time they arrived, they found large pieces of charred wood in the wet grass, still burning with about 5 inches of flame, police said.
Randy Ouimette, pastor of the church where the cross was stolen, said he was disturbed that "a cross which is revered and gives hope was used to put fear into this family and disgust into the community." "First, the cross in Roman times became this symbol of crucifixion, punishment and awful death. Then it became the symbol of resurrection, renewal, the symbol of Jesus Christ of reconciliation, peace and hope. Now to see it used as a symbol of hate, intolerance and rejection is a misuse and desecration," Ouimette said. The cross, which was hollow and made of different types of wood, had been used in a local production of "Jesus Christ Superstar" in the community theater, Ouimette said. It was often brought to the beach on Easter mornings and adorned with bright flowers, Ouimette said. Many in the community are outraged at the incident. The Rev. Stephanie Raphael, president of the San Luis Obispo County Ministerial Association, said the group's 35 religious leaders representing Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and others, signed a letter to the local newspaper condemning the incident.
"Catching someone is less important to me as people coming to grips with the fact that we do not live up to all the ideals of our democracy here in America," Raphael said. "Even in a wonderful place like Arroyo Grande, bad things happen. I think that that is why some people in Arroyo Grande had such a hard time dealing with this: They did not think a cross-burning could happen in their city," she said. "But I think the good thing is that people are talking about this, discussing this, people of all faiths engaging in dialogue about what happened. I think that is very healthy." The police chief described his community as "one of the best secret places in California to be." "It's not what I would describe as a heavily multicultural community. It's heavily white, but we do have a number of other cultures represented in the community," Annibali said.
Warren Jeff Wins Appeal!
July 27, 2010 - 12:49 PDT SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH
SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed the convictions of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs (pictured left) and ordered a new trial, saying a jury received incorrect instructions before considering his role in the 2001 nuptials of a 14-year-old girl to her 19-year-old cousin. Jeffs, 54, was convicted in 2007 of two counts of first-degree felony rape as an accomplice. He is serving two consecutive terms of five years to life in the Utah State Prison. A telephone call seeking comment from the Washington County attorney's office and the Utah attorney was not immediately returned Tuesday. Jeffs' lawyers scheduled a news conference later Tuesday.
Jeffs is head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The group, based on the Utah-Arizona state line, practices polygamy in marriages arranged by church leaders. Jeffs performed the religious marriage of Elissa Wall and Allen Steed in a Caliente, Nev., motel and later counseled Wall to be obedient and give her "mind, body and soul" to her husband in an effort to make an unhappy marriage work. During the trial and later in her book, "Stolen Innocence," Wall said she objected to the marriage and was forced into sexual relations with her husband. Corrupt Justice™ does not typically name victims of alleged sexual assault, but Wall has frequently spoken publicly about the case.
In its ruling Tuesday, the court agreed with defense attorneys who argued that jurors should not have been told to decide whether Wall's marital relations were consensual based on Jeffs' actions and his role as her religious leader. That essentially equates Jeffs with Steed — the person who allegedly has had nonconsensual sex. Justices said prosecutors were wrong to make that leap. "Only after there is a determination that an offense has been committed can the law impose liability on another party who 'solicited, request, commanded, encouraged or intentionally aided' in the commission of that offense," the court's opinion states. Steed was charged with rape the day after Jeffs' September 2007 conviction, but the case has languished and it's unclear how it might now proceed.
Under state law, the parties in the case now have 14 days to ask for a rehearing of the case before the Utah Supreme Court. The ruling from the high court comes as Washington County authorities investigate allegations that Wall may have lied about her medical records that were used in the trial. County Attorney Brock Belnap launched an investigation in February after he was told by a third party that Wall's "medical records had all been created in one day to make it look like she had seen a caretaker on several different occasions." The status of that investigation was unclear Tuesday. Wall's attorney told the media he had no comment ahead of a news conference he planned for Tuesday afternoon.
An extradition hearing for Jeffs was canceled after the Supreme Court's ruling was released. Jeffs had been scheduled to appear in Utah's 3rd District Court on Tuesday so a judge could ask him to sign a warrant seeking his extradition to Texas to face criminal charges there. Texas authorities used family records gathered during a 2008 raid on a church ranch near Eldorado to charge Jeffs with bigamy, sexual assault of a child and aggravated assault. The charges allege marriages between Jeffs and girls ages 17 and 15 in 2005. In an e-mail last week, the defense attorney for Jeffs said he intends to oppose extradition. It's expected that Texas authorities will have to start a new proceeding to continue efforts to extradite Jeffs.
June 14, 2010
(UC Irvine Chancellor Michael V. Drake (Uncle Tom pictured left) addressed a gathering of more than 600 members of the county's Jewish community, who expressed concern about what they perceived as anti-Semitic activity on campus, much of it involving Muslim students.) The Muslim Student Union at UC Irvine should be suspended for one year for its involvement in repeated disruptions of a February speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, according to a disciplinary report released by the university. The Muslim Student Union has appealed the recommendation. The speech about U.S.-Israeli relations was interrupted 10 times by students who got up and yelled out things like, "Michael Oren, propagating murder is not an expression of free speech."
(UC Berkeley Law Professor John Yoo authorized the torture and killing of the Arab (Muslim) pictured left, at Abu Grahib prison. Professor Yoo is still employed by the UC Regents (without suspension or reprimand).) Eleven UC Irvine and UC Riverside students were arrested and cited for disturbing a public event, but none have been charged. The student group maintained that the disruptions were done by individuals and not organized by their group, but the report cited internal Muslim Student Union e-mails and meeting agendas that indicated they planned a disturbance. The group's attorney Reem Salahi emphasized that a suspension has not yet been implemented but was still disheartened by the report’s recommendations. “It’s collective punishment,” she said. “You have an entire Muslim student body that’s being punished for the actions of a few."
C.J. Note: The University of California is owned and operated by Jews!
December 2, 2009
San Leandro, CA (WCJB) -- A former San Leandro police officer has been convicted of false imprisonment for groping two women while he was on duty, his attorney said on December 2, 2009. Former Officer Greg Cannedy, 45, who retired from the department (with pension) in 2007, entered no-contest pleas to two counts of false imprisonment - one a felony, the other a misdemeanor - said his attorney. Judge Kevin Murphy of Alameda County Superior Court sentenced Cannedy two months ago to 18 months of formal probation and six months of home detention while under electronic monitoring, his attorney said. Full Story coming to Corrupt Justice soon!
Judge: "Kids 4 Cash!"
Attorneys for jailed former Luzerne County Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. (pictured left) filed notice Wednesday that, as expected, they would appeal his conviction and 28-year sentence. In related documents, the attorneys revealed Ciavarella - who earned a $158,813 salary in his last year on the bench - is virtually broke. Ciavarella, 61, had less than $300 in cash at the time of his sentencing, less than $200 in his prison account and his state pension contributions are frozen and subject to forfeiture, according to the documents, filed in an attempt to avoid paying court fees. Ciavarella's attorneys, who said they have not been paid for any of their work on the case, did not pay the $450 filing fee on the appeal documents. Ciavarella owns no stocks, bonds or real estate and his automobile is "virtually valueless on the market," according to the documents.
The Jupiter, Fla., condominium used by Ciavarella, former Judge Michael T. Conahan and their cohorts, is owned through a shell corporation, the Pinnacle Group, and is in foreclosure, according to Palm Beach County, Fla., court records.
U.S. District Judge Edwin M. Kosik sentenced Ciavarella Aug. 11, 2011 to 28 years in prison. Kosik ordered him to pay $1.17 million in restitution and said he must forfeit a $997,600 finder's fee he received from the developer of a for-profit juvenile detention center.
Ciavarella's attorneys, who pledged to appeal just after his conviction in February on 12 of 39 felony counts for his role in a scheme to pocket $2.8 million in payoffs from the developer and co-owner of the center, PA Child Care.
The attorneys were required under federal law by law to file a notice of appeal within 14 days of his sentencing, but were not required to provide specific grounds.
One attorney said after Ciavarella's sentencing last week their appeal would focus on:
- The calculation and length of Ciavarella's sentence.
- Kosik's rulings preventing Ciavarella's attorneys from confronting the former co-owner of the detention center, Robert J. Powell, with allegations he misappropriated company funds.
- Kosik's ruling barring the defense from mention a statement in which a prosecutor said the developer, Robert K. Mericle, did not believe the finder's fee was a kickback.
- Letters made public the day before sentencing in which Kosik said he agreed with Luzerne County residents angered by Ciavarella's original plea agreement and 87-month prison sentence.
- Kosik's refusal to remove himself from the case despite repeated requests, including after he rejected Ciavarella's initial plea agreement, after he reviewed pre-sentence reports from federal probation officials, and after he made statements to a reporter in July 2009 questioning whether Ciavarella had a "quid pro quo" agreement with the co-owner of the detention center.
Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr.
February 20, 2011
Two former county judges, Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella Jr. (pictured left) were accused of taking millions of dollars in kickbacks to send juveniles to private detention facilities.
A federal jury Friday found former Luzerne County Court Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. guilty of racketeering in one of the nation's worst judicial scandals, a crime in which prosecutors said the former judge used children "as pawns to enrich himself."
In convicting Ciavarella of racketeering, the jury agreed with prosecutors that he and another corrupt judge had taken an illegal payment of nearly $1 million from a juvenile detention center's builder and then hidden the money.
The panel of six men and six women also found Ciavarella guilty of "honest services mail fraud" and of being a tax cheat for failing to list that money and more on his annual public financial-disclosure forms and on four years of tax returns. In addition, they found him guilty of conspiring to launder money.
The former judge had just exited the courthouse where he had been found guilty of racketeering and money laundering in a so-called "kids for cash" incarceration scheme. A woman suddenly exploded with rage. "Do you remember my son? Do you remember my son?" she screamed. "He was an all-star wrestler and he's gone! He shot himself in the heart!"
Her voice gave me chills. On her face was an odd mix of sadness, pain and pure rage.
"What happened to her?" I wanted to know. "Why is she so upset with that man?"
Then the entire wretched story rolled out. The mom was Sandy Fonzo. Her son took his own life after that man, Judge Mark Ciavarella, had sentenced Fonzo's 17-year-old son, Edward Kenzakowski, to six months in a Pennsylvania detention center for possession of drug paraphernalia.
The sentence seemed excessive to everyone because, according to Kenzakowski's mother, it was his first offense. And usually in such cases, especially teenagers, it is presumed the judge will be lenient in his ruling. But Judge Ciavarella was anything but lenient. And Fonzo says her son never recovered from the ordeal and eventually took his own life.
As fate would have it, the feds in Pennsylvania became suspicious of similar rulings by Ciavarella and launched an investigation. Ciavarella was found guilty of accepting nearly $1 million in kickbacks for sending thousands of teens to a juvenile facility owned by some of his friends.
The jurors acquitted Ciavarella of extortion and bribery in connection with $1.9 million that prosecutors said the judges extracted from the builder and owner of two juvenile-detention centers, including lurid allegations that Ciavarella shared in FedEx boxes stuffed with tens of thousands of dollars in cash.
Convicted on 12 of the 39 counts he faced, Ciavarella faces a minimum sentence of 13 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines.
Ciavarella was expressionless when the jury read its verdict. Pale and almost meek during his trial, though known as "Mr. Zero Tolerance" when he presided over Juvenile Court, he was released to await sentencing.
As he left the courtroom, Ciavarella said the verdict was something of a vindication. He "never took a dime to send a kid anywhere," he asserted.
The 'cash for kids' scandal," is the phrase that came to epitomize the case since Ciavarella and Luzerne County's former president judge, Michael T. Conahan, were indicted two years ago.
U.S. Attorney Peter Smith, the top federal prosecutor in the region, rejected the defense view. "I find it interesting that a man just convicted of racketeering would consider this a victory," Smith said. "I'd like to know what he'd consider a defeat."
Lourdes Rosado, associate director of the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia, which played a key role in bringing the scandal to light, also dismissed the defense claims.
"We are immensely gratified to see this day come and see that justice has been done," Rosado said.
Judge Michael Conahan
July 24, 2010
Former Luzerne County judge Michael Conahan pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to racketeering conspiracy, acknowledging under oath that he illegally used his power as president judge to get “kickback gratuity.” Conahan, 58, and his former fellow judge Mark Ciavarella received the kickbacks to “improperly reward” them for “favorable treatment” in their official actions related to the construction of two privately owned juvenile detention centers, according to a “statement of offense conduct” presented by prosecutors during the guilty plea hearing.
The statement gives several examples of actions Conahan took as president judge to benefit the centers, which were owned by PA Child Care LLC and Western PA Child Care LLC:
• Signing a placement guarantee agreement in January 2002 promising an “absolute and unconditional” payment from the court to rent PA Child Care’s Pittston Township center for $1.3 million annually. Former PA Child Care co-owner Robert Powell, who was also charged as part of the scheme, used this agreement to obtain financing to build the detention center.
• Removing funding from the county’s 2003 budget for the county-owned juvenile detention center on River Street, essentially closing the facility.
• Sealing a trade secrets lawsuit filed by PA Child Care against former county controller Steve Flood and two state welfare officials in December 2004 over release of an audit critical of the county’s leasing of the Pittston Township facility. This “made it more difficult” for auditors and the public to learn about potential problems with the facility’s operation.
In all, Conahan and Ciavarella accepted more than $2.6 million from Powell and center builder Robert Mericle, who was also charged as part of the probe.
“The trial evidence would have shown that, in order to hide the fact that they received money from Mericle and Powell, Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella, among other acts, caused some of that money to be wire transferred to persons or business entities other than themselves,” the statement said.
Conahan, a Hazleton native who now lives in Wright Township, signed the statement of offense on Thursday, acknowledging that he agreed with the information and believes the government would have proven its case at trial.
U.S. District Judge Edwin Kosik, who presided over Friday’s hearing, asked Conahan point blank if the statement of offense was accurate.
“Yes your honor, it’s substantially correct,” said Conahan, who stared ahead or at his paperwork during the proceeding, displaying no outward emotion.
His attorney, Philip Gelso, declined comment.
Conahan faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and up to three years of supervised release.
Federal prosecutors will recommend a reduced sentence if he demonstrates “acceptance of responsibility,” U.S. Attorney William Houser said in court.
Restitution, if any, would be determined by the court at a later date. Houser said Conahan and federal prosecutors have not reached an agreement on an amount.
A sentencing date was not scheduled.
Kosik told Conahan that the court hasn’t the “slightest idea” of the appropriate sentence because the federal probation office must still assess Conahan and the case.
The racketeering conspiracy charge stems from a 48-count indictment against Conahan and Ciavarella that had been filed in September.
Conahan signed a plea agreement in April that called for him to plead guilty to racketeering conspiracy in exchange for all other charges being dropped. Ciavarella, who was juvenile court judge during the period in question, has not reached a similar deal and is preparing for trial.
Conahan’s placement agreement to use the detention center was never executed and wasn’t legal because it lacked approval from county commissioners. His decision as president judge to stop funding staff at the county-owned facility forced the county to use PA Child Care’s Pittston Township center.
Former commissioners Todd Vonderheid and Greg Skrepenak opted to enter into a controversial $58 million, 20-year lease of the Pittston Township facility, but subsequent commissioners got out of that lease in 2008, citing its burden on the county budget.
Powell, who is no longer an owner of the detention centers, pleaded guilty last year for failing to report the alleged illegal activity of Conahan and Ciavarella. He is awaiting sentencing.
Mericle has agreed to plead guilty to charges he concealed a crime committed by Conahan and Ciavarella, and he also awaits sentencing.
The statement of offense presented in court Friday details several examples of attempts by Conahan and Ciavarella to conceal money they received from Mericle and Powell, including:
• $610,000 from a bank account controlled by Mericle electronically transferred to an attorney trust account to be held for Conahan and Ciavarella.
• $220,000 from Powell’s business, Vision Holdings Inc., electronically transferred to Pinnacle Group of Jupiter LLC, a company controlled by Conahan and Ciavarella but “nominally owned” by their spouses. Pinnacle was linked to a condominium in Jupiter, Fla., for personal use by the two former judges.
• $1.15 million from an account controlled by Mericle to Pinnacle.
• An unspecified amount of money transferred to Beverage Marketing of PA, another company controlled by Conahan.
Conahan and Ciavarella directed false entries to be made in Pinnacle books and records to hide payments, including falsely characterizing some of the money as rental income, the statement said.
Judge Michael Toole
December 2, 2009
ALLENTOWN, Pa. (WCJB) -- A third county judge in northeastern Pennsylvania has been charged with corruption on the bench, becoming the latest public servant to be caught up in a widening federal probe that has snared 20 people since January. Luzerne County Judge Michael Toole, 49, will plead guilty to fraud and tax charges and resign from his post, according to court documents filed Wednesday in federal court in Scranton.
Prosecutors said Toole "corruptly abused" his position by concealing his financial relationship with an attorney who appeared before him in court in an insurance case. Toole, elected in 2003, faces a maximum sentence of 23 years in prison and a $350,000 fine. Toole's attorney declined comment. President Judge Chester Muroski immediately removed Toole from his judicial responsibilities, leaving just seven judges on the bench out of a normal complement of 10.
"Clearly this action deals a severe blow to our already shorthanded Luzerne County Court," Muroski said in a statement. "I have spoken with my remaining colleagues and while we are all extremely disappointed with these recent developments, we are, once again, committed to making a total effort to maintain the business and function of the Luzerne County Court.
In the latest case, prosecutors said Toole (pictured left) accepted the free use of a New Jersey beach house from a plaintiffs' attorney whose client was before Toole in an uninsured motorist case. Toole appointed an arbitrator sought by the attorney without telling the other side of their arrangement. Federal prosecutors said in court papers that "the appointment was corrupt, deceptive, and biased and was made in a manner that undermined the fairness and integrity of the arbitration process." The attorney is not named in court papers. Toole was also charged with failing to report $30,000 in income on his 2006 tax return. Wednesday's charges were not unexpected. It became public knowledge months ago that Toole was under investigation. He abruptly cleared his court schedule in mid-November, telling Muroski he would be taking an extended vacation. Before his election as judge, Toole was a law partner with Ciavarella.
Archives Judge E. Curtissa Cofield
January 29, 2009
Connecticut - (WCJB) About 10:45 p.m. on Oct. 9, 2008, Superior Court Judge E. Curtissa Cofield, 60 (pictured left) was driving through a highway construction zone on Route 2 in Glastonbury when her car sideswiped a parked state police cruiser occupied by Trooper Michael Kowal. Prosecutor John Whalen said that the judge's eyes were bloodshot and that she smelled of alcohol. Urine samples showed her blood alcohol content was 0.16 percent at 1 a.m. on Oct. 10, 2008 and 0.17 percent at 2:04 a.m., he said — twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
Cofield was originally appointed in 1991 as the state's first black female judge after Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. nominated her and legislators confirmed her. She was last renominated by Gov. M. Jodi Rell and approved by lawmakers in 2007. Her current term expires on June 6, 2015. Repeatedly using vulgar and racial insults, Cofield argued with a police officer — addressing him as "Negro trooper" at one point — who was trying to process her on a charge of drunken driving in Glastonbury last October, a police video released shows. Cofield also is heard twice on the video using the racial term "nigger." The state's Judicial Review Council released the video after it found cause to pursue five judicial misconduct charges against her, several of them based on what was termed disparaging, demeaning or "racially inappropriate" language. The council has scheduled a hearing Feb. 9, 2009 to determine whether Cofield violated the judicial code of conduct and, if so, what action to take against her.
The video shows an uncooperative Cofield continually interrupting state police Sgt. Dwight Washington, who was asking a series of questions while processing her on the DUI charge at the Glastonbury police headquarters. At 2:17 a.m. on Oct. 10, nearly two hours into the booking at headquarters, Cofield is seated at a desk and calls her husband on her cellphone. Washington, who like Cofield is black, is standing about 3 feet away. Her end of the conversation, in part, is: "I don't need a ride home. ... I'm a criminal. ... What? What? ... Well, they got the head nigger in charge and he … Which one, the head nigger in charge? … Washington. OK. That's H-N-I-G...." Then she hands the phone to Washington, who talks to her husband about getting the car off the highway. Washington asks, "Do you guys have Triple-A?" Hearing that, Cofield interjects: "Oh, no. We don't. We're ghetto Negroes. We don't have Triple-A."
Earlier, when asked if she was injured, Cofield replied: "Yeah, I am. I'm humiliated by your f-----g attitude." Asked if she was ill, Cofield replied, "I'm sick of being treated like a freaking Negro from the 'hood," and added: "Write it down, write it. Did you hear what I just said?" Asked what her illness was, Cofield said: "Negro-itis." "Do you need to take any medication now?" Washington asked. "Yeah, I need to take anti-Negro, ummm ..." When he asked what she weighed, Cofield replied: "Why don't you look at me, tell what you think?" Asked how much alcohol she had had that day, Cofield replied: "I had no alcohol to drink, Mr. Washington."
Cofield often talked over Washington as he tried to question her, saying again and again that she needed to go to the bathroom. Washington politely insisted that she answer the questions first, and said that she could get to the bathroom sooner if she did so. "That's your interpretation, but we'll see what they say in court, won't we, Mr. Washington?" she said. Washington asked if she was willing to take an intoxication test. She replied: "Mr. Negro Washington. I need to go to the bathroom, and then I will take the test." "It's Sgt. Washington," he replied, adding, "Don't disrespect me, and I won't disrespect you." At another moment, after she had given a urine sample, Cofield asked Washington: "Do you have a reading on my urine test, Negro trooper?" When asked to sign a form that she understood her rights, Cofield said, "I'm not signing anything, because when it comes down to the bottom line, who's smarter — me or you? We'll figure it out, won't we?" Asked if she took any drugs, Cofield responded: "Oh, yeah, I'm a crack addict. Do I look like that to you?" Then she directed her attention to the first state trooper on the scene of her accident and asked him, "Can you tell me why you came first, and then you had to bring him [Washington]? Is it because you had to make this valid by bringing a Negro?"
State legislators had been hoping to view the video, and now will be able to do so and consider whatever decision the Judicial Review Council makes. Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven, co-chairman of the legislative judicial committee, has said that lawmakers could theoretically seek Cofield's removal. He said he believes that the council "will consider whether to recommend that she be removed as a judge. ... I think in many ways the ball is in Judge Cofield's court to convince them that she deserves to remain on the bench. I think if any legislator, any judge, any prosecutor, any police officer, did the exact same thing ... they probably would end up losing their job."
Cofield apologized Dec. 8, 2008 at Superior Court in Manchester for sideswiping a state police car with her BMW, and was accepted into an alcohol education program. If she successfully completes the program, the charges — driving under the influence and failure to drive in the proper lane — will be dismissed.
Cofield charged with drunken driving and videotaped using racial slurs while arguing with police officers was suspended without pay Monday, February 9, 2009, for eight months by a judicial review panel.
See: Martin Jenkins, Corrupt Judge ("Uncle Tom")