Phillip Seymour Hoffman

Thoughts about a genius and his addiction-

I have always believed the mark of a great artist is the ability to make the observer uncomfortable. Hoffman’s performance in Boogie Nights was a perfect example, brilliant in its conveyance of the character. I was truly saddened upon the news that his addiction to heroin took his life. No one will know why he went back, only he knew. It is one of the strange ways of this life, to ease the chaos, to hide, to succumb to weakness in the face of the truth? No one knows, but what a loss.

Thomas Brandstrader

He did what he was trained to do….

Chicago Detective charged in fatal off-duty shooting

By Stacy St. Clair and Jeremy Gorner

Tribune reporters 9:31 a.m. CST, November 25, 2013

In a rare move, Cook County prosecutors charged a Chicago police detective with involuntary manslaughter today for an off-duty shooting in which he killed an unarmed woman.

Detective Dante Servin, 40, becomes only the second officer since 1997 to be charged in connection with a shooting. He was also charged with reckless discharge of a firearm and reckless conduct, and  is expected in bond court later today.

Servin, who joined the department in 1994, has cooperated with investigators and met with prosecutors at his home in January to walk them through his version of events, his criminal defense attorney Thomas Brandstrader said.

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Jeffrey Martinson To Be Freed, Murder Case Dismissed, After 9 Years In Prison

From the Huffington Post :

PHOENIX (AP) — A judge has dismissed a murder case and ordered the release of the defendant — an Arizona man convicted in the 2004 death of his 5-year-old son — after finding misconduct by prosecutors.

Maricopa County Superior Court Sally Duncan issued her ruling on Tuesday in the case against Jeffrey Martinson. As part of her decision, she said Martinson cannot be retried.

The judge ordered Martinson to be released on Nov. 26 after he spent nine years in prison. Prosecutors hope to keep him behind bars with an appeal.

“The court is mindful of what is at stake in this case. The allegations against the defendant are very serious,” Duncan wrote, adding that the “scope and extent of the misconduct in this case leaves the court with no alternative but to dismiss the case with prejudice.”

Martinson, 47, was accused of giving a drug overdose to his son then attempting suicide. Lab tests showed the child had toxic levels of a muscle relaxer in his system. Martinson was involved in a custody dispute with the boy’s mother at the time. He has maintained his innocence.



A Permanent Slump?


Spend any time around monetary officials and one word you’ll hear a lot is “normalization.” Most though not all such officials accept that now is no time to be tightfisted, that for the time being credit must be easy and interest rates low. Still, the men in dark suits look forward eagerly to the day when they can go back to their usual job, snatching away the punch bowl whenever the party gets going.

But what if the world we’ve been living in for the past five years is the new normal? What if depression-like conditions are on track to persist, not for another year or two, but for decades?

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This is a good idea….

Switzerland’s Proposal to Pay People for Being Alive

By Annie Lowrey 

This fall, a truck dumped eight million coins outside the Parliament building in Bern, one for every Swiss citizen. It was a publicity stunt for advocates of an audacious social policy that just might become reality in the tiny, rich country. Along with the coins, activists delivered 125,000 signatures — enough to trigger a Swiss public referendum, this time on providing a monthly income to every citizen, no strings attached. Every month, every Swiss person would receive a check from the government, no matter how rich or poor, how hardworking or lazy, how old or young. Poverty would disappear. Economists, needless to say, are sharply divided on what would reappear in its place — and whether such a basic-income scheme might have some appeal for other, less socialist countries too.

The proposal is, in part, the brainchild of a German-born artist named Enno Schmidt, a leader in the basic-income movement. He knows it sounds a bit crazy. He thought the same when someone first described the policy to him, too. “I tell people not to think about it for others, but think about it for themselves,” Schmidt told me. “What would you do if you had that income? What if you were taking care of a child or an elderly person?” Schmidt said that the basic income would provide some dignity and security to the poor, especially Europe’s underemployed and unemployed. It would also, he said, help unleash creativity and entrepreneurialism: Switzerland’s workers would feel empowered to work the way they wanted to, rather than the way they had to just to get by. He even went so far as to compare it to a civil rights movement, like women’s suffrage or ending slavery.

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Annie Lowrey is an economics reporter for The Times. Adam Davidson is off this week.

The wrong decision may come with too high a price…..

By R. Wayne Richter, Esq., Attorney – Special to THELAW.TV

A Connecticut judge last week ordered a new trial for Michael Skakel, the nephew of Robert and Ethel Kennedy. Skakel was convicted in 2002 of the murder of his 15-year-old neighbor, Martha Moxley. The reason? The judge, in his written opinion, stated that Michael Skakel had a “constitutionally deficient” defense. In other words, the judge found Skakel’s trial lawyer to be inadequate.

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to the assistance of a lawyer in all criminal prosecutions. The U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted that amendment to include the right to an effective lawyer. Skakel’s current lawyers argued that his trial lawyer, Mickey Sherman, was inadequate, among other reasons, by failing to explore an alibi defense, failing to effectively cross examine witnesses against Skakel, and by presenting an ineffective closing argument devoid of the term reasonable doubt, the degree of proof required in criminal cases.

The cost of an ineffective lawyer is not simply measured in attorney’s fees, although an article in The New York Times reports that Mickey Sherman billed Skakel over $1.2 million in attorney’s fees. Perhaps, more costly to Skakel was the over ten years he spent in prison for a conviction that may have been the result of his inadequate defense. That is a decade apart from friends and family and the associated life events of birthdays, graduations, and the like. It is the loss of your name and reputation. It is the loss of your freedom.

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