It seems civil law trumps church secrets – and it’s about time

For many centuries, the Catholic Church maintained that its clergy and religious (i.e. monks, nuns, brothers and sisters in religious orders) could not be tried in civil or criminal courts, but had to be dealt with by the Church itself.  That continued until the Reformation, and even after it in some countries.  The Church considered herself to be above most aspects of criminal and civil law.  In some ways, it appears to still hold that belief – witness, for example, the refusal by many bishops to refer clergy child sex abuse cases to the civil authorities for prosecution. Part of that

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Some crime certainly seems to pay

It seems that the Vancouver housing market has been floating on top of a huge pool of drug money. The stately $17-million mansion owned by a suspected fentanyl importer is at the end of a gated driveway on one of the priciest streets in Shaughnessy, Vancouver’s most exclusive neighbourhood. A block away is a $22-million gabled manor that police have linked to a high-stakes gambler and property developer with suspected ties to the Chinese police services. Both mansions appear on a list of more than $1-billion worth of Vancouver-area property transactions in 2016 that a confidential police intelligence study has linked

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When criminals turn technology against the police

Here’s an interesting twist on criminals and cellphones. Police believe Juelle L. Grant, 24, of Willow Avenue, may have been the driver of a vehicle involved in an Oct. 23 drive-by shooting on Van Vranken Avenue, near Lang Street, so they obtained her phone, according to police allegations filed in court. No one was injured in the shooting. After police took her iPhone X, telling her it was considered evidence, “she did remotely wipe” the device, according to police. “The defendant was aware of the intentions of the police department at the conclusion of the interview with her,” according to court

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The Whitey Bulger murder: looking bad for the Bureau of Prisons

I’m sure readers are aware of the murder of 89-year-old convict Whitey Bulger at a Federal high-security penitentiary in West Virginia.  That was bad enough, and his death has highlighted some serious errors in the way the prison handled his admission.  (You’ll recall that I was a chaplain at a Federal high-security penitentiary, and know how these things should be done.  From what I’ve read, they were not handled correctly at all.) Now comes new information that – if true – makes the Bureau of Prisons look even more guilty of serious errors in handling the late Mr. Bulger. Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger’s medical classification was suddenly and

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The Whitey Bulger murder: looking bad for the Bureau of Prisons

I’m sure readers are aware of the murder of 89-year-old convict Whitey Bulger at a Federal high-security penitentiary in West Virginia.  That was bad enough, and his death has highlighted some serious errors in the way the prison handled his admission.  (You’ll recall that I was a chaplain at a Federal high-security penitentiary, and know how these things should be done.  From what I’ve read, they were not handled correctly at all.) Now comes new information that – if true – makes the Bureau of Prisons look even more guilty of serious errors in handling the late Mr. Bulger. Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger’s medical classification was suddenly and

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3M gets a legal slap on the wrist – but still makes millions

If this report doesn’t infuriate you, it should! A contractor has agreed to pay $9.1 million to the U.S. government for selling defective earplugs issued to thousands of servicemembers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003 to 2015. Known as “selective attenuation earplugs,” 3M’s Combat Arms earplugs would “loosen in the wearers ear, imperceptibly to the wearer and even trained audiologists visually observing a wearer, thereby permitting damaging sounds to enter the ear canal by traveling around outside of the earplug,” according to the whistleblower lawsuit complaint, which was settled Thursday. . . . The earplugs were originally manufactured by Aearo Technologies,

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Not just a moral or public relations crisis, but a criminal crisis

I didn’t write more yesterday about the latest child sex abuse scandal – “scandal”:  what a pathetically inadequate word! – to hit the Catholic Church.  The reality was too stomach-churning for me – or anyone in his or her right mind – to face.  Nevertheless, I’ve returned to reading more of the Pennsylvania report, and other people’s views and comments on it.  I think there’s an aspect of this situation that isn’t being properly addressed. The Catholic Church is already trying to “spin” this as a public relations crisis rather than anything more.  Efforts are being made to minimize the damage

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Sometimes the police can’t win for losing

Calibre Press posted this video a few days ago. In an accompanying article, the author pointed out: Only one person should be talking to the witnesses and taking information—confidential information, as it is—from the victims. That person in this case, Officer Bartynski. No one else should inject themselves into the investigation. This is too much, it seems, for Rev. David Bullock. . . . I’m not going to detail everything Reverend Bullock said over the course of the video. But what I will say is that this is a sad state of affairs we’re in. Elites criticize peace officers with impunity.

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Prison reform and the US justice system

I note that there’s a push to get a prison reform bill through Congress by the end of the year.  I’ll be the first to applaud if they can produce a workable solution to the present problems in the prison system:  but I think they’re starting from the wrong end.  The problem isn’t so much prisons as what happens to criminals before they get there.  I’ve written at some length about it in my memoir of prison chaplaincy. For those who haven’t read the book, here are a few important points (out of many) for consideration. First, the present justice system does almost

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Quote of the day

Courtesy of Miguel at the Gun Free Zone: Chief Judge Sol Wachtler … said district attorneys now have so much influence on grand juries that “by and large” they could get them to “indict a ham sandwich.” . . . Given the unprecedented latitude [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller seems to have in his prosecutorial discretion, that Trump wasn’t indicted means that either Mueller is a secret Trump backer or Trump is less culpable than the average ham sandwich in DC. Oh, that’s priceless . . . Peter

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