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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Federal Court Rules for More Cover-Ups

News Agencies Lose Bid to Access Police Report
The New York Law Journal by Daniel Wise  -  August 10, 2011

Two news organizations cannot have access to an internal Nassau County Police Department report that had been turned over in discovery in a civil rights damages action that has since been settled, a federal judge in Central Islip has ruled. The 712-page report, prepared by the department's internal affairs unit, examined the department's handing of complaints of domestic violence from a woman who was subsequently murdered by her boyfriend. In November, the report was turned over in discovery in a lawsuit, Dorsett v. County of Nassau, 10-cv-1258, brought by the mother of the slain woman.  When the mother's lawyer, Frederick K. Brewington, announced that he would hold a news conference releasing the contents of the report, the county's lawyers sought and were granted a protective order barring the public dissemination of the report. Newsday and News 12, a Long Island cable channel, had also opposed the request for a protective order from Magistrate Judge A. Kathleen Tomlinson (NYLJ, Jan. 19). The three filed objections to the protective order with Eastern District Judge Arthur D. Spatt. Since then the case has been settled under confidential terms.  Newsday and News 12, however, both pursued their claims that the protective order be lifted. They argued that granting the order, after the document had been handed over in discovery, was the equivalent of a gag order, which could not withstand First Amendment scrutiny. Judge Spatt rejected the argument. "Unlike a gag order which places general restrictions on speech," he wrote, "the present protective order only precludes the dissemination of the [report] as received through discovery."  Nassau County Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey has publicly stated that the report found that seven officers, including a patrol supervisor, had failed to protect Jo'Anna Bird who was murdered despite repeated pleas for help. Mr. Brewington said he may ask Judge Spatt to reconsider his order so "this important information can be released to the public."


Right to Know by Peter Kohler
December 7, 2010- This week a federal magistrate will weigh arguments over whether you have a right to know the facts behind the failures of Nassau police officers to protect Jo’Anna Bird from the man who murdered her. The facts are contained in an investigation ordered by Nassau Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey. The report said eight officers failed to properly investigate a series of protective orders that Leonardo Valdez-Cruz had violated days before he killed Bird. Mulvey refused to release the report.  Last week, Fred Brewington, who represents Bird’s family in a civil suit against Nassau County, said he would release the report—without naming the officers involved.  But Nassau County objected, persuading a federal magistrate to prevent Brewington from doing so until lawyers could argue the issue. Lawyers for News 12 and Newsday have filed papers supporting the release.

There are two key questions:  Is there is systematic failure in the way Nassau police enforce the law? The Bird family’s lawsuit says so, arguing that the county fails to properly train its officers, ignores their failures to enforce laws, and condones inaccurate and deceptive police reports.  Equally important: Does the public have a right to know whether this report sheds light on such a failed system?  So is lax law enforcement an isolated problem in Nassau County? Or is it a systemic failure running from top to bottom in the police department, demanding not only further investigations—this time by outsiders—but, perhaps, a shakeup up of the police department, from top to bottom.  The public has a right to know.



Seven Nassau officers, including a patrol supervisor, face disciplinary action after an internal review found they did not properly investigate at least four domestic violence visits to Jo'Anna Bird's mother's home just days before, police say, Bird's former boyfriend killed her.  Nassau police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey said he was "deeply disappointed" in the actions of the officers, whom he declined to identify. But he also called their actions "an isolated, unfortunate occurrence" based on the preliminary results of a survey of responses to domestic violence calls.  Fred Brewington, an attorney who represents Bird's relatives, praised the police department for trying to discipline the officers but added, "Unfortunately, this not only was a bad set of actions by police officers but served as a death sentence for Jo'Anna Bird."  Mulvey said the officers fell short in key areas: They didn't identify witnesses and people at the scene, and they didn't generate comprehensive paperwork to document the visits.  "It appears as though they failed to assess the situation fully and do a thorough and comprehensive preliminary examination at the scene," Mulvey said in an interview at police headquarters in Mineola.  Bird, a 24-year-old New Cassel mother, was stabbed to death in her home on Grand Boulevard on March 19.  Two of the officers, who responded to the Westbury home of Sharon Dorsett - Bird's mother - as many as three times on March 15, have been reassigned to nonpatrol jobs, and the other four officers involved in the March 17 visit have been transferred, as was the patrol supervisor who oversaw the officers who responded on March 15.  James Carver of the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association, which represents the officers except for the supervisor, said: "None of the actions that these police officers took were responsible for the death of this woman."  Mulvey also said he is using the incident and subsequent Internal Affairs investigation to install new procedures to enhance a domestic incident policy that he said is the model for the state.  Effective immediately, he said, all domestic violence calls that do not result in an arrest or in a report must be entered into an officer's data terminal located in their patrol cars, and the incident must also be reported to a supervisor.  Mulvey said he did not know whether the officers who visited Dorsett's Bond Street home were aware of the order of protection against Bird's ex-boyfriend, Leonardo Valdez-Cruz, when they responded to calls on March 15 and March 17. So, Mulvey said he could not say whether the officers should have arrested Valdez-Cruz when they visited Dorsett's home, or whether Bird would be alive if the officers had acted properly.  Mulvey said he was saddened by the results of the weeks-long Internal Affairs investigation, sparked by the Bird family's claims that police did not take seriously the threats on Bird's life in the days before she died and even on the day she was killed.  According to Nassau police policy, "Protection is accomplished by making arrests when laws are violated. . . . Our policy is to arrest when there is reasonable cause to believe that an offense has been committed or that an order of protection has been violated."  There is nothing in the law requiring an arrest when officers arrive at a scene involving an order of protection, a Nassau law enforcement source said. If there's no sign of violence and the victim is not interested in prosecution, officers may focus on making sure the victim is safe and avoid needlessly escalating the situation, the source said.  Mindy Perlmutter, of the Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence in Hempstead, said that even without arrests, documentation helps when a woman seeks an order of protection or reports that one has been violated. She pointed to New York's statewide computer system that allows law enforcement officials to track orders of protection for women like Bird. New York's domestic violence registry contains detailed information on orders of protection that have been issued.  Madeline Seifer, director of Hofstra University's marriage and family therapy clinic, said police are the "line of defense" for domestic abuse victims who have received orders of protection. "In general, they need to follow through and make a report every time they visit a residence," she said. "Otherwise, the order of protection is useless."


Anonymous said...

It's all about protecting corrupt friends and financial supporters. Our judiciary has BIG problems.

Anonymous said...

Stay away from Long Island courts- federal and state- the courts have been for sale there for a long, long time. If you have to, just move.

Anonymous said...

In NY the corruption and cover-up moves from the Police up through the NY Courts. It's rotten from the top on down.

Anonymous said...

This should be an interesting story to follow. This is just their first taste of fraud in the legal profession.

Students file suit against New York Law School claiming 'systemic, onoing fraud'

"Now the students have become the litigators.
Graduates of New York Law School filed a class action lawsuit against their alma mater, claiming they were duped into enrolling with false promises of practically guaranteed high-paying legal jobs."

Read more:

Anonymous said...

I can't stop laughing, see how dumb half these lawyers are, yeah, spend over 100,000 and you can make all kinds of money, they just didn't tell them you have to become a member of the CBC
corrupt bastards club!
cash only!

Anonymous said...

Cover up, cover up & cover up don't let the people know what's going on less they realize that it's all a scam, a big fraud and then the game would be up.

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