Ineffective Assistance Waivers- No More

New DOJ policy bans waiver of potential ineffective-assistance claims against defense counsel – No More Ineffective Assistance Waivers.

Eric Holder

In a new policy announced Tuesday that is effective immediately, the U.S. Department of Justice says an individual who takes a plea cannot waive a potential ineffective assistance claim against his or her legal counsel by doing so.

That means federal prosecutors can no longer include such waiver language in plea bargain documents and that waivers in earlier documents that have already been signed should not be enforced, the Washington Post (reg. req.) reports. Before this week, 35 of the Justice Department’s 94 U.S. attorney’s offices still used the waiver, the Post reported.

“Everyone in this country who faces criminal legal action deserves the opportunity to make decisions with the assistance of effective legal counsel,” said Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in a DOJ press release. “Under this policy, no defendant will have to forgo their right to able representation in the course of pleading guilty to a crime.”

The American Bar Association urged Holder to do away with the policy last year and commended the DOJ’s decision. “Respect for the integrity of the criminal justice system requires a fair process, conflict-free defense counsel and the proper administration of justice,” ABA President William C. Hubbard said in a statement. “With a high percentage of criminal cases decided by guilty pleas, the routine use of waivers of ineffective assistance of counsel can create a conflict of interest and insulate attorney conduct from judicial review.”

Underage Drinking

How an Underage Drinking charge can affect your record?

In Pennsylvania, a charge of Underage Drinking can be located on a public government database.  When a student is charged with Underage Drinking, the citation and hearing is filed and heard before a Magisterial District Court in Pittsburgh.  Unable to connect to Nvidia The particular docket sheet of the case can be found on the database http://ujsportal.pacourts.us/DocketSheets/MDJ.aspx.

Many of the background search companies upload the database and either provide the information for free on their site or sell it to subscribers.   Now, many of the Internet background search companies upload the entire database from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC), so the company has the records of all persons charged in Pennsylvania before a specific request is made.

Underage Drinking

The minimum penalties for underage drinking are as follows:

• A fine of up to $500 plus court costs.

• A 90-day suspension for the first offense.

• A one (1) year suspension for the second offense.

• A two (2) year suspension for the third and subsequent offenses.

City Charter High School Takes 2nd Place in International Competition – Moscow

City Charter High School

As Solicitor for City Charter High School – Pittsburgh,  I’m proud to attach an article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette regarding the schools “SAGE” team, which finished 2nd in international competition held in Moscow.

The administration and staff at City Charter High School have created an environment and culture that allows the students to fulfill their potential at all levels.

City Charter High School

Adviser Maureen Anderson checks Bryce Johnson’s tie as the City Charter High School’s SEED (Students Encouraging Environmentalism Downtown) team prepares to rehearse its winning presentation for its appearance at the Pittsburgh School Board. The group won second place in the Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship’s (SAGE) worldwide competition in Moscow last summer.

 

By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

As a high school student, Bryce Johnson of Brighton Heights didn’t always see himself as able to help change the world.

But as part of a City Charter High School team that won international recognition, he knows he has.

“We’re making a pretty large impact, and I love it,” Bryce said.

The team, which started an environmental business, came in second among contestants representing 14 countries at the SAGE World Cup competition in Moscow last month, when six members presented. SAGE stands for Students for Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship.

Last week, wearing blue-and-green coordinated competition attire, the team shared its carefully timed 12-minute presentation with the board of the Downtown high school.

The team, which is part of an after-school activity, earned the right to compete by winning the national championship in the social enterprise business category, one of two in the competition.

The students’ business is called SEED — Students Encouraging Environmentalism Downtown. The organization contracts with City High to collect materials for recycling, including old newspapers, other paper, plastic salad containers and various materials at the school.

The students collect from the five floors of the school on Stanwix Street and see that items are in the loading dock area for pickup. The students figure they collect five tons of materials each month. They estimate they have saved 1,600 trees in 2 1/?2 years.

The school pays more than $7,000 a year for their services. Of its annual income, more than half goes to scholarships to the school’s SAGE students, 37.5 percent to business and competition expenses and 10 percent for charitable donations and other expenses. Last year, SAGE distributed more than $4,500 in scholarships.

To go to Moscow, the group relied on about $20,000 in donations, including foundation and business support.

“It was a remarkable experience, given the state of global politics,” said Maureen Anderson, a City High teacher who, along with teacher Ted Zatezalo, went to Moscow with the students.

“It was without borders and barriers,” she said, noting competitors included students from Russia and Ukraine.

The team earned the honor to compete in Moscow by winning the national competition in May at the University of Pittsburgh. Last year, it also took first place in the nationals in Cincinnati, but the team ended up not going to the international competition in Nigeria because of safety concerns after a State Department travel warning stemming from an unstable political climate.

DeVaughn Davis, a senior from the North Side, was one of three current team members who would have gone to Nigeria. He said missing the competition only made him more determined to win this time.

At the competition, the students — some of whom hadn’t been out of the country before or even taken an airplane trip — made friends from around the world, some of whom they still contact on Facebook. They particularly got to know the Irish team, which ended up placing first with a business with water-saving devices.

Sam Richardson, a junior from Friendship, said she had never thought she’d leave the state, let alone the continent.

“It was pretty eye-opening to me,” said Bryce, who said he met some “awesome people.”

Santina Beneditti, a junior from Banksville, said, ”The best thing I learned was seeing the different cultures.“

Morgan Crist, a senior from Sarver, said she is “super, super proud” of having helped to form a business, something the group had ‘‘no idea“ about how to do beforehand.

Logan O’Hara, a sophomore from Brookline, said the competition has inspired him to want to continue building the business and develop leadership skills.

The team is working on developing a new product, likely related to energy conservation. And it is hoping to compete in South Korea next year.

City High’s SAGE group includes about 30 students and a wider array of activities than the business alone. It has made donations to various organizations, including collaborating with students in Burkina Faso, a small West African country, and contributing to charities ranging from Tree Pittsburgh to Heifer International. Members also have helped to clean up city parks and volunteer in community activities.

 

Pittsburgh – Lyft & Uber get a much deserved win

PUC approves emergency applications for Lyft, Uber to operate in Allegheny County

July 24, 2014 10:52 AM

By Kim Lyons / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission this morning approved emergency applications for ride-share companies Lyft and Uber to operate in Allegheny County.

The vote by the five commissioners was unanimous.

The agency’s Bureau of Technical Utility Services recommended approving the applications, even though the PUC’s Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement had previously recommended denial.

A panel of administrative law judges with the PUC issued a cease-and-desist order for both companies July 1, but neither was deterred. Despite proposed fines of $1,000 per day and citations and fines against individual drivers, the companies have continued to operate.

Both companies have formal applications to begin experimental service in Pennsylvania which are still pending.

5 Freaky things to do with your girlfriend

5 Freaky things to do with your girlfriend

If you’re currently seeing someone, then you almost certainly wish to know steps to make the relationship as long lasting as possible – maybe even permanently. Romantic relationships are fun and fascinating, but the scope of them can be terrifying. That is why people are constantly looking for tips on how to make their marriage last or steps to make their union stronger.

And, of course, you’ve heard about the most common piece of advice: communicate. Be genuine with one another. Support the other person through heavy and thin. Venture out and do more than simply visit a movie theatre and get dinner. Experience new things collectively. Hook up more. Cuddle a whole lot.
Those of you who are single or in a relationship would wonder what things he or she would do to their partner. Here are 5 freaky things to do with your beloved girlfriend!

1.Do Sexy Dances.

One of the freaky things that some lovers do is ‘sexy’ dances. The issue with that one would be that the dances are sometimes less often so sexy. And there’s also rare occasions where they are not even considered dancing.
They’re similar to spontaneous bodily activities or “spasms”. But, hey, if your girlfriend thinks it’s hot then that is all that counts, right?

2.You lick one another.

When you initially started going out, you were worried lay a finger on each other. But you dived over those worries and touched. You then hugged. And you smooched. To finish, you made out with her. Also right now you are mutually in a long-term romantic relationship, you’ve even licked each other. Yup, such as a duo of pups, couples exactly would lick one another. There is absolutely no controlled explanation for this completely strange thing; instead, it’s just something we feel compelled to do.

You may see your girlfriend, realize you love her and realize once again how hot she is, and both of you might just like licking each other. Hey, it’s both amusing, gross and naughty. All at exactly the identical time! how to make her cum to arouse her sexual fantasies.

3. You check each other’s hair and moles and other physical features.

If you’ve ever before inspected your partner’s butt for infection or anything else, you may be in an LTR. (Additionally, you may need some space as well as your spouse should probably go to a genuine doctor.) I love to do what I call “inspection” on my girl’s face, where I help her to take out pimples.

4. You groom one another.

Gone will be the days of expending hours correctly prepping yourselves before a day. Perchance you shave her legs, or possibly the man helps disperse sunscreen on his girlfriend’s back again (and provides you an instant skin cancer verification while he’s at it). We realize it gets much more serious than that, so we’re just heading to leave our illustrations on the less gross aspect for now.

5. Weird Dog or Cat Names

Couples will often have two collections of pet nicknames: the “normal” ones they use in public areas, and the weird ones they use in private. The general public pet labels are ones such as “baby,” “babe” and “honey.” The strange ones can be considered a range of odd labels that only they understand. After seeing for a while, an odd dog or cat name can be created that has nothing in connection with your partner’s real name. It may well not even be considered a variant of their nickname either. When said in private, these brands are normal, however when one of you truly message or calls the other by the unusual dog or cat name while away in public areas, it will surely turn minds and increase eyebrows.

When outsiders here these unusual pet names, they’ll either burst out laughing or have that “WTF?” look on the face. Sometimes, it’s much easier to just clean them off rather than trying to describe where in fact the name comes from. The real meanings behind odd pet names are occasionally better maintained under wraps.

Drug Overdose Bill Passes

Drug Overdose Immunity Bill Passes Pa. Senate

Finally drug users who overdose have a fighting chance to live.  It was almost a given that if a person overdosed with another drug user that they would not receive medical attention for fear of prosecution.  Now, that fear and jeopardy is gone.  With the passage of this Drug Overdose Immunity Bill, many lives will be saved.

Drug Overdose

 

Pennsylvania State Senators unanimously passed a bill to offer immunity to drug users who call 911 when someone is having an overdose.

The Pa. Senate voted 50-0 to pass Senate Bill 1164, known as a Good Samaritan drug overdose law, during their session in Harrisburg, Pa. on Tuesday.

The bill, would amend the state’s controlled substance law, to offer drug users immunity from prosecution for certain drug crimes when they call for help when a person they are with experiences a drug overdose. To receive immunity, a person must call 911, give authorities identifying information about themselves and stay with the overdosing person until help arrives. The bill’s writers say the law is written in a way that would ensure drug dealers would not be given immunity.

The law was introduced by Pa. State Senator Dominic Pileggi (R-9th), who serves parts of Chester and Delaware Counties, after he was approached by Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan.

Hogan says prosecutors wouldn’t typically prosecute a Good Samaritan in a case where they got help for an overdosing person, but believes people don’t realize that. So, he says, getting law on the books would help alleviate that.

Lynne Massi, a drug abuse advocate, says such a law could have saved the life of her nephew, David Massi. The 27-year-old was left brain dead after an overdose at a friend’s apartment in 2012. Lynne and her family believe David’s friends did not call for help because they were using drugs and were afraid of being arrested.

Several other states already have such immunity laws – including New Jersey, Delaware and New York. Pa.’s legislation has also gotten the stamp of approval from the ACLU of Pennsylvania.

The bill now moves onto the Pa. House where Sen. Pileggi is confident it will pass. He hopes the legislation will become law by the Spring of 2014.

Supreme Court limits cellphone searches after arrests

Cellphone Searches are not necessarily constitutional.

Cellphone Searches

 

WASHINGTON — In a strong defense of digital age privacy, a unanimous Supreme Court today ruled that police may not generally search the cellphones of people they arrest without first getting search warrants.

Cellphones are powerful devices unlike anything else police may find on someone they arrest, Chief Justice John Roberts said for the court. Because the phones contain so much information, police must get a warrant before looking through them, Justice Roberts said.

“Modern cellphones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans the privacies of life,” Justice Roberts said.

The court chose not to extend earlier rulings that allow police to empty a suspect’s pockets and examine whatever they find to ensure officers’ safety and prevent the destruction of evidence.

The Obama administration and the state of California, defending the cellphone searches, said cellphones should have no greater protection from a search than anything else police find.

But the defendants in these cases, backed by civil libertarians, librarians and news media groups, argued that cellphones, especially smartphones, are increasingly powerful computers that can store troves of sensitive personal information.

In the cases decided today, one defendant carried a smartphone, while the other carried an older flip phone.

Justice Roberts said the comparison to packages of cigarettes and other items that were at issue in the earlier cases is not apt.

A ride on horseback and a flight to the moon both “are ways of getting from Point A to Point B, but little else justifies lumping them together,” he said.

Authorities concerned about the destruction of evidence can take steps to prevent the remote erasure of a phone’s contents or the activation of encryption, Justice Roberts said.

One exception to the warrant requirement left open by the decision is a case in which officers reasonably fear for their safety or the lives of others.

The two cases arose following arrests in San Diego and Boston.

In San Diego, police found indications of gang membership when they looked through defendant David Leon Riley’s Samsung smartphone. Prosecutors used video and photographs found on the smartphone to persuade a jury to convict Riley of attempted murder and other charges. California courts rejected Riley’s efforts to throw out the evidence and upheld the convictions.

The court ordered the California Supreme Court to take a new look at Riley’s case.

In Boston, a federal appeals court ruled that police must have a warrant before searching arrestees’ cellphones.

Police arrested Brima Wurie on suspicion of selling crack cocaine, checked the call log on his flip phone and used that information to determine where he lived. When they searched Wurie’s home and had a warrant, they found crack, marijuana, a gun and ammunition. The evidence was enough to produce a conviction and a prison term of more than 20 years.

The appeals court ruled for Wurie, but left in place a drug conviction for selling cocaine near a school that did not depend on the tainted evidence. That conviction also carried a 20-year sentence. The administration appealed the court ruling because it wants to preserve the warrantless searches following arrest.

The justices upheld that ruling.

 

 

Distracted Driving

Don’t underestimate Distracted Driving.  For those of you who have children driving or about to drive, take a look at this.  For those of you who have been driving for years, maybe its time to reevaluate how we set examples for others.

Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. These types of distractions include:

  •     Texting
  •     Using a cell phone or smartphone
  •     Eating and drinking
  •     Talking to passengers
  •     Grooming
  •     Reading, including maps
  •     Using a navigation system
  •     Watching a video
  •     Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player

The number of people killed in distraction-affected crashes decreased slightly from 3,360 in 2011 to 3,328 in 2012. An estimated 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, this was a nine percent increase from the estimated 387,000 people injured in 2011.

10% of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted.

Drivers in their 20s make up 27 percent of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes. 

At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, a number that has held steady since 2010.

Engaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times.

Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.

Headset cell phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use.

A quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive. 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving.

NHTSA

 

Juvenile Lifers and the Supreme Court

Juvenile lifers in Pennsylvania lose appeal to high court

Juvenile Lifers

 Steve Townsend, who represents Christina, who has never had a single misconduct during his nearly 39 years of incarceration with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, was again disappointed in the decision not to take the case Monday.

“At some point in time, they’re going to have to address the issue,” Mr. Townsend said.

“For Cristina, I don’t think it’s over. His appeal isn’t final so there’s still light at the end of the tunnel.”

The rejection is a blow to advocates for as many as 500 inmates across the commonwealth who were sentenced to mandatory life terms before they turned 18, as well as to as many as 2,000 others across the country who were watching to see what might happen if the Supreme Court had heard arguments on Cunningham v. Pennsylvania.

Still, hope remains among attorneys and academics watching the issue, as they believe the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately will have to decide the issue.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/breaking/2014/06/09/U-S-Supreme-Court/stories/201406090167#ixzz34EbEKXxc

Homewood Shooting Justified

The Homewood shooting is justified under state and federal review of self defense law.  Mr. Zappala is correct.  Research is consistent and unanimous when it comes to action v. reaction time. This is why I cannot understand why they are pushing so hard on my client, who was robbed in the high crime area of Homewood.  People are shot in the back often due to the reaction of trained officers and security guards.  It takes our brains approximately 2 seconds to disengage once we feel that our life is in jeopardy.

Take a look at Mr. Carter’s case.  Click HERE

By Steven C. Townsend

DA says officer was justified in fatal shooting in Homewood

 

 

 

By Liz Navratil / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 

A Pittsburgh police officer was justified under state law to open fire when he killed a man fleeing from police in April, the Allegheny County district attorney said today.

 

Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said he has turned the file of materials compiled during the investigation into the April 21 death of Adrian Williams, 29, over to the US Attorney’s Office for a review at the federal level.

 

Mr. Zappala said two officers from the city’s Zone 5 station were patrolling on Hamilton Avenue in Homewood when they spotted a gun inside a Chevy Malibu belonging to a woman who had some sort of relationship with Williams.

District attorney: Police officer justified in shooting

 

A Pittsburgh police officer was justified in killing a man who was fleeing from police in April, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said today in a news conference. (Video by Nate Guidry; 6/4/2014)

 

About 3 a.m., officers spotted Williams get into the car and activated their lights and sirens, signaling him to stop, Mr. Zappala said,

 

He said Williams sped away and the attempt to stop Williams became a “priority call” because a gun was involved. He said that meant all available officers joined the chase, and that some hit speeds in excess of 80 mph while trying to arrest Williams.

 

The car Williams was driving crashed in Wilkinsburg. Williams got out of the car, took the gun and ran behind some houses while two officers chased him, Mr. Zappala said. He said Zone 5 Officer Christopher Kertis ran in front of the houses, parallel to Williams, and the pair encountered each other when Williams got ready to turn the corner.

 

“I think he was surprised that the officer was there right away,” Mr. Zappala said of Williams.

 

He said Williams fell when he ran past some debris and Officer Kertis yelled twice for him to drop his weapon, according to audio and video of the shooting and interviews with officers who responded.

 

“The gun came up at the car, at the police,” Mr. Zappala said. Less than two seconds elapsed before Officer Kertis fired twice, hitting Williams, he said.

 

He said Williams threw the weapon and Officer Kertis fired four more times.

 

About five seconds elapsed between the time that Williams emerged from behind the houses and the time that Officer Kertis stopped firing, Mr. Zappala said. He said that research studies indicated the average reaction time for a human is 1.8 seconds and he thought that might factor into why Officer Kertis shot Williams after he dropped the gun.

 

“I think it’s reaction time,” Mr. Zappala said when asked why the officer might have fired shots after Williams threw the gun.

 

Mr. Zappala said Section 508 of Pennsylvania state law allows officers to use force when someone is committing a felony — such as fleeing and eluding — and possesses a weapon. He emphasized that state law on self-defense for officers hinges more on whether someone they are seeking possesses a weapon than on how the suspect used it.

 

“I have to look at what the officer saw,” Mr. Zappala said.