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courthouse court house

Unless it’s a traffic ticket where you don’t have much to lose, it’s just not a good idea to represent yourself.  This point is made over and over by cases like this. As reported by Courthouse News Service:

On trial for mail and wire fraud, fallen real estate mogul Luke Brugnara [who is representing himself] blamed his treatment at the Alameda County jail for his bizarre behavior in court and demanded that U.S. District Judge Alsup allow this explanation to be given to the jury.

“If I were in the jury box, I’d think this guy is nuts,” Brugnara said, launching into a rant about how he has not been allowed to shower or shave for five days and that deputies are trying to prevent him from preparing for trial by repeatedly throwing his legal papers into garbage bags.

Brugnara also spent this past weekend on suicide watch in Santa Rita jail, where he claims to have been thrown naked into a cell caked with feces for 30 hours. Since the incident, he has taken to calling the deputies his “North Vietnamese captors.”

“I haven’t showered, haven’t shaved. That’s why I’m acting crazy,” he told the judge.

What are the charges?

… allegedly conning a New York art dealer out of $11 million in fine art including a missing Edgar Degas sculpture …

The trial sounds, well, interesting, and challenging.

[Brugnara]  has consistently bullied witnesses, argued with the U.S. attorneys and generally turned the court into a lurid spectacle for nearly two weeks.

“You’re trying to turn this trial into the biggest train wreck you can,” Alsup said Tuesday.

Alsup, who seems to fully believe that Brugnara is deliberately hanging himself in order to get the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn his inevitable conviction, has so far added 295 days to Brugnara’s sentence for summary contempt – earning 111 of those days for calling U.S. District Attorney Robin Harris a “Nazi” in court on Tuesday.

“You’re racking up a lot of time in this case. You deserve more,” Alsup said.

“She’s worse than a Nazi in my opinion,” Brugnara said. “And you don’t care about me; none of you care about me. It’s not fair. You’ve orchestrated this whole case and because you don’t like the way I communicate, you’re punishing me.”

“I’m not going to try to argue with you on the falsehoods in your speech. You got away earlier with saying Ms. Harris dresses like she’s in North Korea,” Alsup fired back.

On Wednesday, Brugnara fought with Alsup over the contempt sentences. “If you hate me that much, why don’t you just recuse yourself? Say, ‘I fucking hate you’ and recuse yourself.”

Harris asked Alsup to keep Brugnara from bringing up the summary contempt orders in front of the jury.

“You think that will do any good?” Alsup asked wearily.

Brugnara interjected, “Can you just hand Ms. Harris your robe? Because she’s trying to direct the court.”

You get the idea. And the judge’s displeasure with Mr. Brugnara began before the trial.

The judge is still steaming from Brugnara’s defiance of a furlough order that allowed him to meet with his former court-appointed attorney, Erik Babcock, at the San Francisco Federal Building. Brugnara walked out of the building after a meeting with Babcock on February 5 and spent six days on the lam before being apprehended by the FBI.

At a hearing after Wednesday’s proceedings, Alsup addressed the only defense Brugnara has for that escape, U.S. Supreme Court case United States vs. Bailey.

Under Bailey, duress or necessity can be used as a defense to an escape charge. Brugnara claims that he was dying of malnourishment in the Glenn Dyer jail in Oakland and fully intended to return for his trial, originally scheduled to begin Feb. 26.

Although The Juice is not a criminal lawyer, he feels confident saying “good luck with that one.” You’ll find the source here.

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help

Who would have thought anything of importance would happen because of an online comment? Well, it did! As reported by arstechnica.com (from a Highlands County Sheriff’s Office press release):

A Florida woman used the comments section of a Pizza Hut order made from her smartphone on Monday afternoon to alert authorities that she and her children were being held hostage. When police responded to her message, arriving at the location, she and her children were quickly released, unharmed, and the kidnapper was arrested.

According to a Highlands County Sheriff’s Office press release, Cheryl Treadway, a woman from Avon Park, about 85 miles southeast of Tampa, had been arguing most of the day with her boyfriend, Ethan Nickerson, who carried “a large knife.”

Well done madam! Here’s a link to the article, and a link to the press release.

(Psst! Legal Juice is brought you by, well, The Juice, who is a personal injury lawyer practicing in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia. He will not be quitting his day job, which includes handling bicycle, pedestrian, and automobile accidents, to bring you more Juice.)

 

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boy

Anyone over the age of, oh, maybe 6, knows that sometimes kids say things that aren’t true for a variety of reasons. A Kansas City mom took her 6-year-old son at his word, and she ran with it. The Juice is here to tell you, that was a HUGE mistake. As reported by KCTV:

An angry mother confronted her son’s teacher and hit her in the face, jerked her hair and rammed her head against a file cabinet, according to a Kansas City Police Department report.

Bam! That teacher must have done something really awful to the boy right? Here’s how it started.

The teacher told police that Baker entered her classroom “and wanted to talk to her about what her son stated (the teacher) did to him in class earlier today.”

The teacher said if she wanted to speak with her and the principal that she would need to return on Friday. She said the woman was demanding and headed to the principal’s office where she reportedly created the scene before returning to the teacher’s class. The woman said she was upset over something that the teacher had done to her son earlier in the day.

Uh-oh.

“You better not touch my kid again,” Baker yelled to the teacher, according to the police report. The mother was reportedly upset about a scratch on her 6-year-old son’s neck that she claimed the teacher inflicted. The child had been disciplined earlier in the day.

So what did mom do?

The woman ran behind the teacher’s desk and “struck her in the face with an open fist 5 to 10 times as she held” the teacher’s arm down to her side, the report says. She then grabbed the teacher “by her hair and picked her up out of the chair and struck her head against a file cabinet two times.” She then fled from the classroom.

Shazam! Oh, and about that scratch …

District officials said Friday night that the boy’s father brought the boy to school Friday, and that the boy recanted his story. The district said the boy admitted the teacher had not hurt or scratched him.

Um. Er. Uh. Well … sorry? My bad? Ms. Baker is in a lot of trouble. You can read more (a little) here.

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rage mad anger angry

When you think of road rage, you think about aggressive driving, or maybe even someone pulling a weapon, right? But this? You would not think of this. Ever. Per BeeNews.com (New York):

Police responded to a road rage incident on Union Road. Reportedly, two motorists were spitting on each other after following each other around town.

The Juice can think of worse ways to settle disputes.

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tea bag

No offense to all of The Juice’s white Mercedes-Benz-driving readers out there, but, given the headline, is it any surprise that the perp drove away in a white Mercedes-Benz? Out of the 62nd Precinct (Bensonhurst—Bath Beach) via brooklynpaper.com:

A disgruntled customer battered a cashier with a box of Lipton Iced Tea at a New Utrecht Avenue supermarket after she refused to ring up his purchases on Feb. 10, police stated.

The victim told cops she closed the line at her register at the store between 81st and 84th streets at 5:30 pm and told the would-be patron that she would be unable to check him out.

The entitled shopper pitched a fit and began cursing and screaming at the worker, then pulled out the box of tea and hit the worker in the face with it repeatedly, cops said. The crazed caffeine consumer then ran out of the store, jumped into his white Mercedes-Benz, and sped away, police said.

You poor dear! Oh the humanity!

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beard

This case certainly highlights how different cultures can be. As reported at arabtimesonline.com, in Kuwait City …

The Undersecretary of the Interior Ministry Lieutenant-General Suleiman Al-Fahd has ordered the detention of a police officer in the rank of Major for growing his beard without permission, reports Al-Rai daily quoting knowledgeable security sources. The source said Al-Fahd has also warned a lieutenant-colonel for the same reason and has issued strict instructions that disciplinary action will be taken against those who violate the laws especially if they grow beards more than 1.5 centimeters long.

Maybe he thought they wouldn’t notice? He measured wrong?

(Legal Juice is brought you by, well, The Juice, who is a personal injury lawyer practicing in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia. He will not be quitting his day job, which includes handling bicycle and automobile accidents, to bring you more Juice.)

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bunny

It’s just a bunny, right? Wrong, as Elizabeth Johnson, a junior at Gateway High School in Kissimmee, Florida learned. Her crime? She wore sweat pants with a Playboy bunny and the word “Playboy.” The time? Two days of detention! From a UPI article, here are the highlights:

Elizabeth Johnson, a junior at Gateway High School, said a dean approached her at school and instructed her to change out of her black Playboy sweat pants, which she did. She was forced to stay for an hour after school for two days, the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel reported Tuesday.

Johnson said there was nothing inappropriate about her attire, despite Playboy’s connection to soft-core pornography.

“The bunny is just a logo,” she said. “There’s nothing objectionable about that.”

“They’re black sweats,” Johnson said. “They are thick, cotton, exercise pants… I was dressed tastefully.”

The school district’s dress code does not bar students from wearing any specific clothing brands, but allows officials to ban clothing with “offensive, suggestive, or indecent” messages or images.

Hugh Hefner must be loving it – giving the Playboy brand some juice with the youngsters.

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football stadium

If you’re having success running the ball, you keep running the ball until the opposing team counters it by, say, putting more men in the box. (Yes, The Juice likes football.) But in life, going back to something that worked is not always a good idea, especially in the world of crime. Just ask this gent. As reported by The New Hampshire Union Leader:

A Plymouth man was arrested for allegedly committing two armed robberies at the same location about six weeks apart, police said Saturday.

Yup. He did.

Jason Crosby, 32, was arrested in Plymouth late Friday on two counts of armed robbery. Bail was set at $100,000, and he is slated for arraignment Monday in 9th Circuit Court in Nashua.

Crosby is accused of robbing Haffner’s Kick Stop at 215 Lowell Road on July 7 at 10:37 p.m. and again on Friday at 3:06 a.m., police said.

In the first robbery, Crosby displayed a small black semi-automatic handgun and demanded money from the clerk, authorities said. The second time, the suspect claimed to have had a weapon and again demanded money, police said.

You’ll find the source (and a mug shot) here.

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football

Old folks like The Juice, especially (and almost exclusively) men, often quote from Animal House. As Dean Wormer said: “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life …” If you could have seen her mug shot (it’s been removed) you would have seen that “fat” doesn’t apply. “Drunk” definitely does. As for “stupid,” judge for yourself. Per The Orlando Sentinel:

An Oviedo Police Department officer who was assisting with security before UCF’s [University of Central Florida] first football game of the season against University of Akron got several reports of a woman urinating inside Parking Garage H.

Uh-oh.

When he went to check it out, he found Kristine Johnson of Sarasota naked from the waist down. She is not a UCF student, university officials said.

If you think she went along quietly …

When police commanded her to pull her shorts back on, she complied, her arrest report said. But throughout the rest of the encounter, police say, Johnson resisted arrest by pushing officers away, picking fights with strangers and yelling and cursing repeatedly.

When she was arrested, officials say, she spit on the doors and walls of her holding cell and cursed and yelled at officers.

Well, someone needs to learn some manners! The charges?

She faces multiple charges, including exposure of sexual organs, disorderly conduct and battery on a law enforcement officer.

Oh, and one more thing. She was banned from UCF! Here’s the source.

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license plate tag

It’s unclear how these gents aroused the suspicion of the cops, but they did. A plate check later and, well, the rest is history. As reported in the police blotter of The Highline Times:

According to the Burien Police department, two men were arrested after police spotted them waiting outside a uniform retailer in Tukwila. The incident took place on Friday, April 10, when two Burien Police Department detectives arrived at a police uniform retailer off highway 99 in Tukwila and spotted two men acting suspiciously outside of the store. The detectives ran a check on the license plate numbers of the Jeep the two men were sitting in and discovered that it was a stolen vehicle. When two additional officers from the King County Sheriff’s Department arrived to visit the uniform retailer, the Burien detectives decided to confront the men in the Jeep. The two men were arrested without incident for possession of a stolen vehicle but it is unclear why the men were waiting outside of the police uniform retailer.

Doh!

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