Fairfax County Police Officers Ryan Lazisky and Chris Crawford have announced plans to marry in New York State. According to a release from the station, Lazisky and Crawford, were on assignment at the Springfield Mall when they met and fell in love.
Police Chief Rhorererer-er said he was pleased to hear about the pending marriage and added “Let me make this analogy about my Gay officers and marriage. If a tree falls in the florist, where would you bury the survivors.? I think that about says it all.”
The chief also said that he would be giving the officers a plaque and an award because “I put in a couple hundred grand for plaques and an awards in the budget, cause you know, it ain’t my money, so why not? Hell I don’t live in Fairfax County”
The couple said that after their vows they would be living outside of Fairfax County as well.
The Fairfax County Police Officer Jeffrey Hand Award for Creative Income Production. Fairfax County Police. Police Brutality
Milwaukee WI cop sentenced to 28 days jail for stealing the identity of a 7yr-old boy to purchase a Mercedez Benz  bit.ly/zLx7dr
New York NY cop pleads guilty to 4 conspiracy counts involving smuggling of guns, cigarettes and slot machines  on.wsj.com/xPwdfV
Chatham-Kent ON cop sentenced to probation for resisting arrest while arrested on B&E and assault charges  bit.ly/wQD3HM
West Terre Haute IN cop arrested on felony theft charges for allegedly using city gas card for personal purchases  bit.ly/AoMIua
Philadelphia PA cop gets probation & fine in plea deal for insurance fraud by falsely reporting his car was stolen.  bit.ly/zFmwIG
Pensylvania state trooper tells DA he let truck driver in fatal crash go w/minor violation just so he could retire  bit.ly/x9xVz4
The Fairfax County Police officer Walter R. Fasci/ Sean McGlone award for sober living. Fairfax County Police. Police brutality
•2 New Orleans LA cops are the subject of a federal investigation on insurance fraud allegations involving a report about a stolen car and subsequent cover up.  bit.ly/yuVM5A
Miami Co OH deputy faces 7 counts of using deception to obtain prescription pain medication  bit.ly/xd3Mja
•San Antonio TX police lieutenant, 3 sergeants and 2 officers are being investigated for their alleged attempt to cover up a fellow cop’s DUI crash in his police cruiser bit.ly/xB84Mq
•New Orleans LA cop arrested on hit & run charges after investigation into alleged DUI cruiser crash  bit.ly/z7GxkD
•Douglas Co MO deputy convicted of conspiracy to steal drugs from evidence and distribute narcotics, marijuana, and other stuff.  bit.ly/y4TNAJ
This week’s candidates for the Brian Sonnenberg Peaceful Resolution to Conflict Center Award. Fairfax County Police. police brutality
Kendall Co IL deputy investigated for yelling at a man’s pregnant wife because he felt she was holding up the checkou line at WalMart, he then allegedly pulled a gun on that man when they got into an altercation over it.  bit.ly/wpywwD
Luzerne Co PA deputy charged w/terroristic threats & harassment against former
domestic partner in bar incident  http://bit.ly/xnlVtg
•Ontario Provincial police officer has been charged with assault causing bodily harm in an unspecified off duty incident.  bit.ly/wNtGNg
•Mahoning Co OH deputy agrees to retire after an investigation into unspecified misconduct discovered during a polygraph  bit.ly/w4dsIu
•Lee Co FL deputy suspended 4 days for using badge to intimidate a property owner’s agent as he was inspecting an apartment that the officer’s girlfriend was being evicted from.  newspr.es/yvy7Q0
Fairfax County Police Officer Amanda Perry award for Safe Driving. Fairfax County Police. Police brutality
Saginaw MI settles suit for $15k to man left injured after cop hit his vehicle in intersection  bit.ly/ADHWjK
Bradford Co FL deputy who worked as a school cop has been charged with having unlawful sex with a minor after he was fired for domestic violence and child neglect recently.  bit.ly/yR3FyD
Cincinnati OH cop who refused to give a statement to investigators about why he shot an unarmed man to death is now the subject of a lawsuit over that shooting incident.  http://t.co/kZwq26Yn
2 Mason OH cops are the subject of a lawsuit claiming that they continued to repeatedly taser, kick, and beat a man with batons after he was rendered incapacitated when they tasered him and he fractured his skull as he landed face-first on the pavement. They claim they kept tasering and beating him because he wouldn’t put his hands behind his back… until they realized he couldn’t. He died afterward.  http://bit.ly/wSDoXV
Vermont settles suit for $190k to the family of a woman who died after laying in the snow overnight after troopers went to the wrong address after a relative called asking for a welfare check the day before.  bfpne.ws/A5w2qg
Fairfax County Police Officer Larry A. Jackson award for false arrest. Fairfax County Police. Police brutality
Houston TX police are being investigated for detaining people without charge and racking a shotgun as a threat of force while they were responding to a noise complaint at a Free Thinkers conspiracy group’s party, all of which was captured on multiple cellphone cameras.  bit.ly/zgvGXW
Detroit MI police are being sued over the practice of issuing questionable tickets for driving through or living in areas they claim are known for prostitution or drug crimes  bit.ly/xVaREp
The officer Christian Chamberlain Award for “Fuck you, I’ll get away with it anyway” Fairfax County police . Police brutality
Minneapolis MN police are being sued claiming 2 cops killed a mentally ill man with excessive tasering & positional asphyxia from holding him down on the ground with a knee in his back for an extended period of time.  bit.ly/xHm4tu
•Roanoke Co VA cop is under investigation for allegedly pulling a man over in an unmarked cruiser and assaulting him in front of his kids.  bit.ly/ydraIX
•Albuquerque NM cop is under investigation over his use of force and abusive language that was shown on a YouTube cell video  bit.ly/xnCiMm
•Merrillville IL sued by doctor claiming a cop twisted his arm & arrested him for questioning why he gave him a parking ticket in a hospital parking lot when he parked close to the door due to an emergency.  bit.ly/yN4g4h
Henderson NV is settling a lawsuit for $158k to a man who was repeatedly kicked in the head by a cop when he was yanked from his car after stopped for erratic driving while he was suffering from diabetic shock. Officers can be heard on the dashcam talking about being worried that it was caught on video.  bit.ly/wauaUc
Indian River Co FL deputy has been fired after dashcam video, above, contradicted his report in an excessive force incident where the deputy pulled over and repeatedly tasered a cuffed suspect in the back of his cruiser because he was being loud and obnoxious.  bit.ly/wGIEL3
•Pittsburgh PA plans to offer $75k to absolve the city in the Jordan Miles beating case. The lawsuit will continue against police department for the officers who brutally beat him when they claimed they mistook a 2 litre soda bottle in his pocket for a gun.  bit.ly/x5iW7A
•2 Prince George’s Co MD cops are under investigation after video contradicted their report about a shooting incident.  cbsloc.al/yWSuvC
New Brunswick community residents protested Tuesday at the corner of Seaman Street and Remsen Avenue against recent police shootings, supporting the existing concerns with local police brutality.
A crowd of about 70 protestors walked through the streets of New Brunswick after the New Brunswick Police Department’s involvement in the recent shooting of 19-year-old city resident Victor Rodriquez.
Rodriguez had fired a gun on Seaman Street near Remsen Avenue at 6:14 p.m. on Jan. 31, when New Brunswick officers on routine patrol shot him. The shot left him injured and possibly paralyzed.
Rodriguez’s relatives said the two shots he fired were blanks.
Andrea Rodriguez, Victor Rodriguez’s aunt, said she wants the police to start taking care of the local citizens instead of increasing brutality toward city residents.
“We want them to stop shooting our people,” she said. “We want them to work for the community, protect the community and not hurt the people living here. That’s what we are looking to get out of this.”
Debra Key, a New Brunswick resident, said the message of the protest focused on the deteriorating relationship between the NBPD and the local citizens.
“I’m here for justice for Barry Deloatch and for Victor Rodriguez. The police are plaguing our streets as we — all the people in the community — are trying to live,” Key said.
Barry Deloatch, a 47-year-old New Brunswick resident, was shot and killed during a Sept. 22 altercation involving two New Brunswick police officers, Daniel Mazan and Brad Berdel, in an alleyway near Throop Avenue and Handy Street.
During the time of the incident, Mazan’s attorney Lawrence Bitterman said in a statement that Deloatch was armed with a two-by-four piece of lumber allegedly used to attack Mazan, when Berdel shot Deloatch.
The New Brunswick Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association Local 23 and 23A issued a statement last week stating the officers used justified force during the incident.
The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office is currently investigating both shootings. A grand jury is expected to begin hearing the Deloatch case next month.
Normon Gordon, New Brunswick resident, said further steps should be taken to educate against the violence that is affecting the city.
“The streets belong to the mayor and to the police — we have no rights down here,” Gordon said. “We need to tell these little young kids trying to be [gang members] to stop that nonsense and stay with the positive.”
Tony Vega, a New Brunswick resident, said that, like most people who were present the night of the shooting, Tuesday’s protestors believe police used an unnecessary amount of force — a problem that was not prevalent in the past.
“I was here when it went down and it was overkill. It was a bad situation,” he said. “We want the cops to be more neighborhood-oriented, like back in the day when cops would come around and say hello to people around the community.”
Key said the community has a duty to take their voices downtown to receive justice for what was done to Rodriguez and Deloatch.
Fahiym Torres, a community organizer, said the recent series of events unified the community, bonding local citizens together to try and solve the injustice they believe has been brought upon them.
“After the Barry Deloatch incident and now this unfortunate situation, we wanted to show that it wasn’t just about one race, but something concerning the entire city and community,” Torres said.
The protestors were not trying to further hurt the relationship between the police and the local citizens, but wanted to raise awareness about many of the city’s social problems, Torres said.
“This is not a police-bashing thing. This is for people to know that they cannot ridicule, pull over, shoot or commit any [forms of] corruption,” he said.
Torres said the protestors would remain persistent in achieving their goals of fighting social injustice.
“We have to stop the violence. We are here to fight corrupt policemen, we are here to fight a corrupt system,” he said. “Once something happens, whether once or 10 times in a row, you have to keep doing it and making your voice heard.”
MARTINEZ -- A federal prosecutor told a judge Tuesday that she plans to file additional criminal charges against a former Danville police officer indicted in connection with a scheme to set up men for drunken-driving arrests.
U.S. Assistant Attorney Hartley West would not comment on the nature of the charges pending against Stephen Tanabe but said she plans to file them before Tanabe's next federal court date March 20. Tanabe's criminal case stems from a probe into allegations of rampant corruption involving an elite Contra Costa County vice squad.
Tanabe has pleaded not guilty to a December federal indictment that charges him with two counts of extortion, one count of aiding and abetting in extortion and one count of conspiracy to extort -- all "under color of official right" by abusing his position as a police officer.
He denies allegations that former private investigator Christopher Butler paid him in drugs and guns to make DUI arrests on men whose spouses were seeking leverage in divorce and child-custody cases. Butler, Tanabe, former Central Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team commander Norman Wielsch and former San Ramon officer Louis Lombardi also are being prosecuted in Contra Costa County as part of the police corruption scandal that started with Wielsch and Butler's arrests one year ago.
Lombardi was taken into federal custody last month after admitting to nine felonies and misdemeanors in the first conviction to result
Fatal police shooting of unarmed teen Ramarley Graham conjures Amadou Diallo shooting; galvanizes a community
Killing of African immigrant in 1999 in Bronx spurred protests, vigils
Outside the Wakefield home of Ramarley Graham, family and friends silently tend to the growing memorial to the unarmed teen shot dead by police last week.
More than 100 candles and bouquets of flowers filled the sidewalk Monday. Posters reading “I love you Ramarley,” and a handful of photographs of the 18-year old hang from the gate.
There are other posters too, ones that read “Stop Police Brutality” and “Stop Killing Our Youths,” that echo a community’s calls for justice reminiscent of the Amadou Diallo shooting in the Bronx 13 years ago.
“Anytime you end up having an unarmed person, particularly someone of color, who gets shot and killed by police, it brings back all of the old stories,” said State Assemblyman Carl Heastie.
Diallo died in a hail of police bullets at his Soundview home on Feb. 4, 1999. After mistaking Diallo’s wallet for a gun, four officers fired 41 times, hitting the 23-year old Guinean immigrant 19 times.
Graham was shot in the bathroom of his house on E. 229th St., last Thursday after cops had chased him in mistaken belief he had a gun.
In both cases the cops were white.
The two shootings are eerily similar, said Borough President Rubén Díaz, Jr. Back in 1999, he was among hundreds of people arrested outside Police Headquarters while protesting the Diallo shooting. At the time, Diaz was a state assemblyman.
“What you get in instances like this,” he said, “is a certain segment of the population who feel like this could happen to anyone of them, who feel they can identify with the family.”
In the days following the shooting, there have been several rallies, a town hall meeting and candlelight vigils.
But while protestors in the Diallo case were labeled “rabble rousers,” Díaz said, the response to Graham’s shooting has been markedly different.
“The difference is that here the police officers involved have been taken off the streets, there’s an immediate internal affairs investigation subsequent to Mr. Graham’s death, and we have an immediate meeting with police, elected officials, community leaders and family members,” he said.
“People are very upset and rightfully so. What we need here is a full investigation and for the family to feel like they’re being treated with respect and getting justice.”
Bronx Community Board 12 Chairman Rev. Richard Gorman echoed the borough president’s call for a swift investigation.
“I think a lot of the anger and concern in the community has to do with the fact that we don’t have all the facts yet,” he said.
Gorman added that the shooting also brings to the forefront the community’s ongoing policing problems.
Drug sales have been long been a problem along the White Plains Road commercial strip and for the last 15 years Gorman has been calling for more police patrols.
“This (shooting) only highlights the traditional problem we’ve had in terms of police and the lack of adequately trained police personnel to deal with the problem,” he said.
“Maybe they should listen a little more to the people and things like this wouldn’t happen
PHOENIX -- Several supervisors and detectives with the Phoenix Police Department are under investigation for their actions at a holiday party in December.
Chief Joe Yahner held a news conference on Tuesday afternoon to announce that an internal investigation has been going on since December.
According to Chief Yahner, that's when members of the Phoenix Police Department had a holiday party at a private residence.
Officials say, at that party, a Power Point presentation was given recapping the detectives' work in the previous year.
The presentation lasted about a half-hour, and included images of crime scenes and victims' bodies were shown.
Two supervisors and four detectives from the violent crimes bureau have been put on paid administrative leave.
There are concerns that the presentation could compromise some investigations and that images shown at the party could end up on the Internet.
Chief Yahner calls it "unprofessional conduct" and says he is "extremely disappointed."
The professional standards bureau is investigating.
It is possible some of the supervisors or detectives could be charged criminally.
The Maricopa County Attorney's office is reviewing the case.
CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — Former Wildwood police Sgt. David Romeo, who was convicted of official misconduct, remains free on bail, but the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office argued Tuesday that his bail should
be rescinded following the dismissal of his appeal.
“Now, 21 months later, he has no appeal because the appeal has been dismissed,” Assistant Prosecutor Vincent Molitor said of the appeal filed after Romeo was sentenced. “He can’t be on bail pending an appeal when there’s no appeal pending.”
Two years ago this week, jury selection began in Romeo’s official misconduct trial, and on March 8, 2010, a jury found him guilty of the second-degree crime after he kicked two suspects. Then, on May 21 of that year, Superior Court Judge Raymond Batten sentenced Romeo to five years in state prison, but he allowed Romeo to remain free on his own recognizance while Romeo’s attorney pursued an appeal in hopes of winning a new trial.
Recently, however, the appeal was dismissed because the state Attorney General’s Office, which is handling the appeal, argued that the record on the case was incomplete.
Standing before Batten on Tuesday, Hackensack-based attorney Kevin G. Roe, representing Romeo, argued that the Attorney General’s Office was referring to court transcripts of testimony by a witness who played no actual part in the trial and was not relevant to the appeal.
“The record is complete,” Roe said.
Roe said he filed a motion Saturday asking the appellate division to reconsider the dismissal.
But Molitor, noting Romeo was not in the courtroom Tuesday, said he should not receive special treatment.
“I think this court should no longer give (Romeo) the benefit of the doubt,” he said.
A spokeswoman with the Attorney General’s Office said Tuesday afternoon that the office declined to comment on the case.
Batten said he would not make a decision Tuesday and instead set another court date in March for the matter to give the appellate division time to take action.
During the trial, Romeo told jurors that he kicked two car burglary suspects, Gilbert Haege and Louis McCullough, because he saw a weapon — a Leatherman multipurpose tool — lying on the ground between them July 24, 2007.
Three of Romeo’s fellow Wildwood police officers, however, testified that there was no weapon on the ground, and that the men had been subdued when Romeo kicked them.
“I saw the knife on the ground. It was a threat. I had to get the knife,” Romeo told the jury.
During the sentencing hearing, Batten said he found Romeo’s testimony unbelievable.
“The defendant’s conduct was excessive in force used and it was premeditated,” Batten said.
But Batten also chose not to sentence Romeo to a five-year mandatory minimum term of imprisonment without parole as provided for by state law for public officials convicted of second-degree crimes.
So, if Romeo is ultimately unsuccessful in his appeal, he would be sent to prison for five years, but would be eligible for parole after serving slightly more than one year.
Romeo joined the department in 1994 and his last day with the city was May 21, 2010. He was suspended without pay in August 2007.
Contact Trudi Gilfillian:
By Dan MacLeod
A former cop now a gun runner is facing more than five years in prison now that he’s pleaded guilty to bootlegging more than $1 million in stolen goods.
William Masso, a 68th Precinct officer arrested in October along with four other active and retired Bay Ridge cops, tearfully pleaded guilty to four counts of conspiracy in Manhattan federal court on Monday. He automatically lost his job, will receive prison time, and be forced to pay a $50,000 fine when he comes back to court for sentencing on June 15, federal prosecutors said.
Masso is still facing 20 years, but the plea deal hammered out on Monday ensures that the actual punishment could be reduced to just five or six years on his sentencing date, according to published reports.
“William Masso brought dishonor and disrepute to his fellow officers and was willing to endanger others for his own personal gain,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “With today’s guilty plea, the NYPD, which is the finest police force in the world, is one step closer to putting this sorry episode behind it.”
Masso’s lawyer, Ron Fischetti, told reporters outside court that his client was a “broken man” who allowed a small transgression to get out of hand.
“He was trying to buy a house for his family and he started [running] cigarettes. It just got bigger and bigger,” Fischetti explained. “He got sucked in and just ran and ran and ran. His family is just absolutely crushed.”
Feds arrested Masso and his crew last October following a two-year investigation that culminated in a sting operation.
Prosecutors claim the gang imported $1 million worth of cigarettes, slot machines and a wide variety of firearms, including M-16 rifles, 16 handguns and a shotgun.
The investigation began in 2009, when an undercover informant learned about Masso’s bootlegging activities and began recording conversations with the cop.
On one tape, Masso, 48, told the stoolie that his cop buddies could provide protection for anyone smuggling untaxed cigarettes into the state.
“Whatever he wants we can get — one guy 7-foot tall, with muscles out to here,” Masso said in one recording. “We got that. You want a guy who beat the [bejesus] out of somebody who bothers him, we got that. We got cops with vests and guns.”
Sources told Brooklyn Daily in October that Masso — cousin to Genovese crime-family capo Alphonse “Allie Shades” Malangone — was attracted to the gritty glamour of the mafia lifestyle.
“Masso was always a wannabe wise guy,” said one police source.
The feds busted the cops after the informant asked Masso’s crew, which included 68th Precinct Police Officers Eddie Goris and John Mahoney, as well as retired 68th Precinct Police Officers Joseph Trischitta, Marco Venezia and Richard Melnik, to buy a cache of firearms — which the FBI rendered inoperable — and transport them to New York.
Once the job was completed, the FBI swooped in and arrested the five officers — which some in Bay Ridge considered neighborhood heroes.
Trischitta and Venezia, who worked in the 68th Precinct’s Community Affairs office, had been lauded several times during their careers in Bay Ridge. Venezia even received a commendation from state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge), a former cop himself, when the community affairs cop retired in 2010.
Golden later said that he regretted honoring Venezia.
Ten days after Santa Maria Police Officer Albert Covarrubias, Junior, was fatally shot by another officer, the police chief shared new details of the investigation that led up to the shooting.
Speaking before a heated city council meeting full of citizens and Covarrubias' relatives carrying signs demanding the chief be fired, Chief Danny Macagni described the day and a half investigation of Covarrubias on allegations of sexual misconduct with a teenage girl.
The chief said Tuesday night his department first received a tip on Thursday, January 26th, that a 17-year-old girl told an acquaintance Covarrubias gave her some gifts.
Detectives spent the next day trying to track down the teen, said Chief Macagni, to investigate the relationship.
They finally found her that Friday night as Officer Covarrubias was working at a DUI checkpoint in Santa Maria.
"After hours of interviewing her in the presence of her parents, she finally divulged a whole lot more than a minor relationship," the chief told a hushed crowd.
The chief said the girl eventually shared information with SMPD detectives about having a sexual relationship with the 29-year-old officer who got married just three weeks earlier.
That information prompted investigators to listen in as the teen called Covarrubias at work early Saturday morning as he was finishing up his shift at a DUI checkpoint.
"The call was a fifteen minute call during which time that officer admitted to the allegations, admitted his relationship with this 17-year-old high school student and then he became very concerned, almost threatening , telling her not to tell anyone. And he insisted she not divulge that he was involved because he said I am not going to prison,"said the chief.
Chief Macagni said the situation left his investigators no choice but to arrest Covarrubias for his safety and that of the public.
"The intent was arrest him but to also save his life," said the chief.
During the attempt to arrest Covarrubias, the chief said Covarrubias resisted and fired his gun before another officer shot him. That officer, Matt Kline, was also Covarrubias' best friend and had worked with him that night on the DUI traffic assignment.
Before the public meeting, the city council went into a closed-door session with their legal counsel to discuss lawsuits they expect to be filed against the city by Officer Covarrubias' family.
Between the private meetings with their attorney, the city council heard from a long list of citizens calling for the firing of Chief Macagni.
Some were critical over the shooting of Officer Covarrubias. Others criticized prior incidents under the chief's leadership. Several citizens also spoke in support of the chief.
Other speakers Tuesday night included current and former officers who criticized Chief Macagni's leadership of the SMPD.
The Mayor has been silent on the investigation of the officer-involved shooting ten days ago. On Tuesday night, Mayor Larry Lavagnino broke his silence saying the shooting was "one of the worst tragedies in our city's history."
City Manager Rick Haydon told the City Council an outside auditor has been hired to review police department policies and practices.
At the same time, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff deputies are investigating the shooting of Officer Covarrubias. The results of that investigation will be presented to the Santa Barbara District Attorney, Joyce Dudley, who will decide if the shooting was a lawful use of deadly force.
Police misconduct records and more to be off-limits under two new bills
Despite the obligatory squawks from lawmakers about the need for transparency in government, few of their actions are quite as transparent as their efforts to shield internal bureaucratic processes from outside scrutiny. For a demonstration of this principle in action, look no further than two bills currently creeping through the state legislature that would close investigative records previously accessible to the lowly public -- including records dealing with police misconduct and the disciplinary process.
House Bill 1062, sponsored by Colorado Springs state representative Mark Barker, is billed as offering "minimum employment protections for Colorado peace officers," including the right to engage in political activities when not in duty or on uniform. Fine and dandy, but as this account in the Denver Post notes, one provision of the bill would make all materials used in any disciplinary hearing confidential -- a red flag to the Colorado Press Association, since such evidence of police misconduct now often finds its way to other agencies and thus to the public.
Another measure, House Bill 1036, sponsored by Rep. Jim Kerr of Littleton, seeks to "clarify" what investigative records can be withheld from the public under Colorado open records laws. Actually, it extends the exclusion invoked by law enforcement with regard to ongoing criminal investigations and seeks to apply it to "civil and administrative" investigations as well. This all comes about because a court ordered the release of records dealing with appraisers under investigation for allegedly bogus work, and Colorado Attorney General John Suthers would like to see such probes become as closely guarded as homicide investigations.
Both measures would greatly weaken press and watchdog groups' ability to examine what's really going on in law enforcement and the justice system -- an ability that's already been greatly eroded in this state in recent years. The ACLU has had to go to court close to a dozen times to get the Denver Police Department to cough up citizen complaint records racked up by its most unruly cops; it's won the battle repeatedly, but that could change with new legislation.
During a recent visit to the Westword office, new Denver Manager of Safety Alex Martinez told staffers and editors that he favored keeping disciplinary records under seal with the rest of an officer's personnel file, releasing only a summary of results when a proceeding led to substantive action, such as termination. This, he explained, was necessary to preserve the integrity of the internal process.
That's certainly a defensible position. But it would sound a little less ominous if Martinez had not been for years a member of the gang in robes at the Colorado Supreme Court that has effectively thwarted public access to many Colorado court records. Thanks to the directives of the Supremes, such records must be reviewed by clerks, who are charged with determining if a file contains personal or financial data that should be expunged before releasing it -- and who can charge a fee for this time-consuming service. Divorce cases, sexual assault cases, and many other types of cases are now close to being off-limits in some jurisdiction, even though there doesn't seem to be any real evidence that people were using the information in court files for identity theft or some other criminal purpose.
But, hey, it's all done to protect the public, right? In 2008, Jean Stewart, then the judge of Denver's probate court, issued a judicial fiat sealing all files of conservatorships and guardianships involving "protected persons" -- because, well, those people need to be protected from the public. Yet given the long-running controversies in Stewart's court over plundered estates, conservators who waste assets, and exploited "protected persons" -- see this grim report on the problem statewide by the Office of the State Auditor -- who truly benefits from sealing these records? Stewart retired last year, but the order remains in place.
The same goes for such sticky issues as prison health care, violence and sex harassment in state agencies, and social service investigations. It's a privacy issue. It's a personnel issue. It's none of the public's business.
Government keeps expanding, and matters that are the public's business keep shrinking. There's something transparently wrong about that.