Tag: internet

Looking Back to Move Forward…

20140323-142740.jpgSo, as we wait for election results, there’s no better time than now to be reflective.  My blog, The Resident Legal Diva, has recently had its one year anniversary.  Ironically, I took on a 30 day Blogging 101 challenge…because why not? Nothing like a challenge to step up your game! In the next 30 days, you will see a lot of posts from me covering a variety of topics (which remain a mystery to me at this moment)!

The first assignment was to talk about my blog.  Why am I writing publicly instead of writing a personal journal? Who do I hope to connect with? What is the end goal a year from now? And what’s the story behind my tagline?

Whelp, let’s get started.

Why am I writing publicly instead of writing a personal journal? If you’ve been reading my blog you know that I am a prosecutor. (If not, welcome!) I love the law.  The law brings equality; the law brings change; the law brings justice. Often, the media gets it wrong (ratings are king). Often citizens get it wrong (due to just not knowing).  Sometimes the system gets it wrong. Facts and details get lost in the struggle between passion, history, and confusion as to how the system works.  My goal is to educate people about how the system really works, and what goes into the decision making process in cases.  Also, I want people to know what their rights are, and what remedies are available. This can only be done in a public forum.  With the internet reaching more and more people every day, what better way to educate the world?

Who do I hope to connect with? EVERYONE! My blog is not just for legal professionals (who are always welcome by the way). It’s for the students, the curious, the old, the young…anyone who cares about the world we live in and how the law governs us.

What is the end goal a year from now? I hope to have (and continue to have) great dialogues with folks from all walks of life.  My eyes have opened to issues as a result of discussions started on my blog.  I love to teach, but I enjoy learning as well.  The exchange of ideas is the only way our world will get better — it is the way to promote understanding.

And what’s the story behind my tagline? The Resident Legal Diva…I’m your in house legal expert.  And I love the word “Diva”.  I’m on a mission to reclaim the word from the negative connotations that come from reality television.  A Diva is a woman who is well spoken, well put together, and who carries herself with grace and elegance.  Most of all, a Diva is successful from her own intelligence, hard work and merit.  Notice there are no temper tantrums, outbursts, or generally “acting a fool” in that definition. What I described is the definition of a “hot mess”…which does not deserve air time (not on this blog anyway!).  And the rest “My Collection of Thoughts About Real Life and the Law”…is just that.  My thoughts…my opinions…but always open for discussion!

Looking back, the last year of blogging has been fun, uplifting, emotional, and really enlightening.  Here’s to many more!!

M.

Is Getting Your Own Confession A Good Idea?

jamie x

Originally published on theLaw.tv on January 24, 2014  Getting Your Own Confession

A Los Angeles woman has grabbed headlines this week with her viral YouTube video confrontation. In this video, “Jamie X,” as she is calling herself, confronted her high school teacher, who allegedly molested her many years ago. Jamie says the abuse started when she was 12, going on for several years; she is now 28. One of the reasons that Jamie made the call at this point is because she discovered her alleged abuser is now an assistant principal. The YouTube clip shows Jamie calling the teacher on the phone, and asking why the teacher manipulated her and took advantage of her position. The female teacher responded by admitting to her actions, as well as saying that she “regrets” what she did.

The video is very emotionally charged, as well as tragic. But is the video going to be admissible in court? Should Jamie X have done this controversial act?

In most states, you are not allowed to video or tape record another person without their permission. There is an exception is for law enforcement personnel, who can do so with a warrant from a judge. Of course, getting a warrant is not that easy. The police officers have to set forth their case to the judge, showing probable cause, what crimes they hope to solve, and how the target of the surveillance is connected to those crimes. The reason behind this is to prevent an invasion of your privacy. In California, the law is very clear – you cannot tape a private conversation unless both parties to the conversation give permission.

In spite of the law, was it even a good idea? In all likelihood, the video will not come in as evidence at trial. But the video was helpful for several reasons. As a result, Jamie  had evidence to present to the police to jump start an investigation. There is a very liberal statute of limitations on child abuse cases, since by the very nature of the crime, reporting is often delayed. Children are abused while they are young, and as they reach adulthood, they then realize that what happened to them was wrong. Sometimes molestation victims suppress the memories, which come back to them many years later. Manipulation is a big part of a child molester’s plan. At the point of adulthood, they have the strength to tell; they are better able to break the hold of the guilt and mind games of the abuser that held them hostage. However, with the delay comes a loss of evidence. This video gave police a starting point. Hopefully, if the teacher confesses once, she will confess again.

The other good part about the video is another victim has come forward as a result. While the teacher said on the video that Jamie X was the only victim, another young woman came out today, stating that she had an identical experience with this teacher. The revelation strengthens the case, and can possibly result in multiple charges of child abuse with multiple victims in the same case.

Is it the best idea to get your own confession? No. It is better to speak with local law enforcement and let them do a thorough investigation. You don’t want to taint any potential evidence from your actions, not to mention the possibility putting yourself at risk.

No matter what happens, hopefully Jamie is able to get the closure she so desperately needs.

“Thug Baby” – The Aftermath

school to prison

We we have all heard about (or seen) the now infamous “thug baby” video out of Nebraska. The Omaha Police Association came under fire for posting this video to their website. They say it was a teaching moment…but was it really?

While the toddler was removed from the home, the mother (who is 16), is now in protective custody herself as a result of death threats from the release of the video.

Words, and actions both have consequences. See my article about it on theLaw.tv. Free Speech vs. Responsible Speech

As always, please share your thoughts!

Online Confession Case Ends with 6.5 Years Prison….

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Matthew Cordle, who made headlines with his YouTube confession to DUI manslaughter, received a six and a half year sentence today. He was facing a maximum of eight and a half years.

I originally published this article back on September 16, 2013, but I think it bears repeating.  The original link is at 

http://news.thelaw.tv/2013/09/16/online-confessions-ego-or-guilt/.

Enjoy, and tell me what you think!!

Online Confessions: Ego or Guilt?

This week, an Ohio man was charged with DUI manslaughter by prosecutors.  He had released a video online confessing to killing of a man while driving drunk. This viral-video hit the internet on September 3, 2013, and very quickly became a topic of controversy.

In August, a South Florida man killed his wife, and then posted the pictures of her dead body on Facebook. In his status update, he made reference to her hitting him, and that he hoped others would understand what he did. 

We all heard how the texts and pictures taken in the Stubenville, Ohio rape case helped show what happened to the victim, and resulted in a guilty verdict.

Online confessions are great for a prosecutor. It’s solid evidence, especially when linked to the physical evidence (like DNA, weapons, or fingerprints) and eyewitness testimony to a crime. It’s the defendant, front and center, admitting to his or her actions. As long as the video can be verified as coming from the defendant, whether through his/her social media account or computer (which is relatively simple to do), it is admissible.

Why this rash of confessing on the internet? One part of it is a guilty conscience. There is an old phrase, “loose lips sink ships”. Unless you are a hard core serial killer, the burden of carrying the fact that you took a life is very heavy.  The killer needs to share this burden with someone.  People need to talk…and this always gets them in the end. Many cases solved that way.

Also, there is the fame. In this world of reality television, where folks are being paid to party, fight and bring the drama, the old standards required to become famous have vanished. For instance, the Ohio video confession has hit close to 2 million hits on YouTube.  If it was purely about doing the right thing, why not just go down to the police station, tell the officers on duty what you have done and surrender quietly?  Maybe those who confess in this way think they will make some money with a movie or a book. If so, they are in for a nasty shock…most states have laws prohibiting incarcerated convicted offenders from profiting on their crimes.

Lastly, and not necessarily separate from the above two reasons, maybe the supposed killer wants to get his or her side of the story out. In the South Florida case, it appears from the confession that he may be setting up a defense that he was an abuse victim, and acted out. He may have figured that since he was going to get caught, might as well set up his defense in advance.  Time will tell on this issue. 

Both men have pled not guilty at their first appearance in court, but should not be judged based on this. It is a procedural act that is done by the defense attorney, and does not mean that they will not change their plea later on down the line. 

Online confessions, no matter what the underlying reason, help close cases.  Before, if a killer wanted to confess without going to the police directly, they may tell a friend or family member who may hold the secret for a long time.  Families of the victims may wait years, or may never get closure. This is an example of technology working for good. 

As painful as it is, keep those Internet confessionals coming.