Sunday, July 13, 2014

Warrant To Force 17-Year Old To Hospital For Injection Of Privates, For Use In Prosecution Of “Sexting” Case – Was Real, But Police Have Dropped Plans To Use It

The LA Times has followed the story of the warrant in a Manassas, Virginia “sexting” case that spurred an internet fury.  The full story can be read here:

Thankfully, this story brought enough attention to bring this offensive abuse of law enforcement power to a halt. 

The accused was a 17-year old boy.  He had allegedly received a “sexting” SMS message from his 15-year old girlfriend, and sent one himself.  The police received a complaint from the parent of the a girl.  The boy was charged with manufacturing child pornography and possessing child pornography. 

The boy was allegedly told to plea to the charged offense, or face a warrant compelling him to be taken to a hospital, have his genitalia injected to stimulate arousal, to be photographed for use in the trial.  The police had previously photographed the boy’s genitalia.

This is fundamentally wrong for so many reasons, including the following.  First, child-pornography statutes were enacted to remedy a completely-different societal harm than that at issue here.  They are designed to protect children, not harm them.  Second, the Milwaukee Police Department originally issued a statement implying that the warrant did not exist (see  This was a lie disseminated to the public (however, they did not deny getting the warrant, they just stated it would violate their policy to do so).  Third, it makes no sense to create child porn in the name of prosecuting it.  Fourth, an accused should not be subjected to a greater injury than they are alleged of inflicting during an investigation of the offense. 

In sum – this happened.  There was a gross abuse of prosecutorial power.  There was an inquiry into that abuse by the press.  The Manassas City Police then lied to the press and public in a misleading statement denying the existence of the warrant.  Then they were caught.  And this all stemmed from a threat to subject a boy to an insanely traumatic procedure, in an effort to get him to plea to a horrific crime (aimed to guard against conduct that he did not engage in -- a child who exchanges photos of privates with their girlfriend is not a possessor or creator of child pornography).  The plea would have destroyed his life.  And for what purpose?

There will be no ramifications for the officer who sought the warrant, the agency that falsely denied its existence, the prosecutor who used it to threaten the boy to coerce a plea, or the magistrate who signed it.

Note -- on Thursday, July 17, 2014, we discussed this warrant on Wallach-on-Law with Jason Feldman, and a link to that show is here –

Wallach-On-Law Speaks With Bronson James, Who Argued The Riley v. California (Supreme Court Cell-Phone decision)

On Wallach-On-Law, we discussed the Supreme Court decision in Riley v. California, and welcomed Bronson James, the attorney who co-authored the brief submitted in Riley v. California on behalf of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.  The show aired on June 26, the day following this historical decision.  Prior to becoming a lawyer, Mr. James worked as a Data and Technology Privacy Engineer, and continues to consult on issues of data security and privacy.  And continuing our coverage of the crisis at Men's Central Jail in Los Angeles -- whose conditions the Department of Justice has recently called "deplorable" -- we welcomed Darryl Lewis and Robert Pickett, who were incarcerated at Men's Central Jail for 32 months prior to being acquitted at trial.  The story of their arrest is as unfathomable as the conditions of their confinement.  A link to the show is here:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Wallach-On-Law speaks with Don West, a year after the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial related to the death of Trayvon Martin

July 13 marks the one-year anniversary of the verdict in the highly-publicized trial of George Zimmerman, who was charged with the murder of Trayvon Martin.  Don West, along with Mark O’Mara, were George Zimmerman’s attorneys at trial.  Don West joins us today.  Mr. West is a dedicated trial attorney whose career has largely been spent providing services to the indigent community.  He is the former Senior Litigation Counsel for the Federal Defender’s Office and supervisor of its Capital Defense Team. A criminal trial specialist, he has represented those accused of all nature of offenses.  He is a former president of the Central Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, a former director of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and a fellow member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the National Trial Lawyers Top 100.  We will also discuss updates in the Milwaukee Stabbing case, and other criminal matters.

Department of Justice Issues Report On The Incarceration Of Daniel Chong, A 24 Year Old Student, Who Was Forgotten About And Left Unattended In A Cell Without Food, Water, Or A Bathroom For Four And A ½ Days

Daniel Chong was caught up in a drug-sting and determined not to be involved by the arresting authorities.  He was put in a cell, and forgotten about.  He almost died, after spending four days without food, water, or access to a toilet. 

The Department of Justice has released excerpts of a report in relation to their investigation of the incident.  The article, by Randy Balko, captioned “Daniel Chong is the entirely predictable result of dehumanizing drug offenders”, can be read here: and excerpts of the report can be read here:

According to the Washington Post,

The OIG report is infuriating. We often call it the drug war, but we don’t even treat prisoners of war this way.
Four different federal drug agents saw or heard Daniel Chong during the five days he was handcuffed in a holding cell without food or water after a 2012 narcotics sweep, a U.S. Department of Justice report released on Tuesday found.
The agents did nothing because they assumed someone else was responsible for the detainee, and because there was no training for agents on how to track and monitor wards at the Kearny Mesa detention center, the report found.
So Chong wasn’t forgotten. He was ignored. 

The report goes on to discuss how DEA officials attempted to contain the incident.

Lawyers State Prosecutors In Manassas,Obtained Warrant To Force Teen To Be Taken To Hospital, Have Privates Injected To Force Arousal, To Be Photographed For Evidence In Sexting Case

If this wasn’t in the Washington Post, I wouldn’t have given this claim any credibility.  The full article, authored by Tom Jackman and captioned “In ‘sexting’ case Manassas City police want to photograph teen in sexually explicit manner, lawyers say” is here --

According to the Washington Post,  A “Manassas City teenager accused of “sexting” a video to his girlfriend is now facing a search warrant in which Manassas City police and Prince William County prosecutors want to take a photo of his erect penis, possibly forcing the teen to become erect by taking him to a hospital and giving him an injection.”  Per the Post, “The case was set for trial on July 1, where Foster said Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Claiborne Richardson told her that her client must either plead guilty or police would obtain another search warrant “for pictures of his erect penis,” for comparison to the evidence from the teen’s cell phone. Foster asked how that would be accomplished and was told that “we just take him down to the hospital, give him a shot and then take the pictures that we need.””

the Manassas City Police, has since released a statement which can be read here:  The statement claims that a parent complained that a 15 year old girl received pornographic videos via text from a 17 year old boy, despite requests to stop. Per the statement, “It is not the policy of the Manassas City Police or the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office to authorize invasive search procedures of suspects in cases of this nature and no such procedures have been conducted in this case.  Beyond that, neither the Police Department nor the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office discusses evidentiary matters prior to court hearings.”  Notably, however, while the Manassas City Police says it is not their “policy” to authorize invasive searches in these type of cases, they do not deny doing so.  Which implies that the warrant was sought after, and potentially authorized.

I hope that this is untrue.  It makes no sense whatsoever to subject a subject of a crime, during an investigation, to a more traumatic experience than that he or she is accused of inflicting.  If this happened, it was either (a) inhuman; (b) a disturbing effort to force a plea; or (c) both.