April 17, 1987 |
Remember the great crackdown? On Feb. 19, U.S. Attorney General Ed Meese charged into Philadelphia, walked along 8th and Butler Streets with Mayor Goode, and declared before blazing TV lights that a great victory had been won in the war against drugs He was here to announce one of the biggest drug "sweeps" in the city's history, a 12-month police effort that netted from 800 to 1,000 arrests, and seemed to hold out to the besieged residents of...
September 2, 2010 |
Philadelphia suffers from the highest per-capita fugitive rate in the country, with 47,000 defendants on the streets having skipped bail, as The Inquirer reported last year. There is a cheap, practical way to deal with this problem that has not been widely discussed: The city's judges should try in absentia all defendants who are freed on bail and deliberately fail to appear in court. Most of the defendants who have thumbed their noses at the system figured that, rather than appear, testify, and face cross-examination, they had better odds of beating the rap if they simply didn't show up. Despite Philadelphia's abysmal conviction rate, they were right.
March 16, 1989 |
Eugene Milano, who was to go on trial for murder yesterday with Nicodemo Scarfo and seven others, has said he wants to cooperate with authorities, law enforcement officials said yesterday. As a result, the Scarfo trial was postponed at least until today, and defense attorneys said the defection might lead them to ask for selection of a new jury - meaning an additional delay. Milano apparently telephoned authorities from prison on Tuesday. Scarfo, the other co-defendants and the defense attorneys - including Milano's own attorney - learned of his decision yesterday just minutes before opening statements were to begin in Common Pleas Court.
April 8, 1986 |
Testimony in the murder trial of two Mount Airy men has lived up to the prosecutor's early billing that the evidence would be unusual and often hard to believe. A Mount Holly, N.J., jury considering murder charges against Dwayne Wright, 21, and James Clausell, 22, both of Temple Road near Upsal Street, has heard that: Edward Atwood, 37, of Willingboro, N.J., was ordered killed in 1984 because he filed a minor complaint against a neighbor for not cleaning up his dog's mess.
December 14, 2010 |
Witness intimidation has pervaded the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court trial of two men charged with a racially tinged double murder in the Tacony section in 2007. Now, a brother of one of the defendants has been arrested in connection with the intimidation. Michael Drummond, 24, allegedly threatened a witness last week in the hallway of the city's Criminal Justice Center. Charged Saturday, he remains in custody, with bail set at $250,000, pending a Dec. 29 hearing. Gerald Drummond, 26, and Robert McDowell, 28, both white, face possible death sentences if convicted of first-degree murder in the July 13, 2007, slayings of Damien Holloway, 27, a black landscaper, and his friend and worker Timothy Clark, 15, who was white.
March 2, 2012
The welcome decision by the Philadelphia courts to dramatically boost the fees paid to lawyers appointed to represent indigent defendants facing the death penalty strikes a long-overdue blow for justice. As long as Pennsylvania maintains what Supreme Court Justice Harold Andrew Blackmun famously called "the machinery of death," the state cannot afford to scrimp on fairness. Yet, for decades, the legal representation provided the poor in capital cases has been called into question by the courts themselves.
September 19, 1995 |
Consider for a moment how the mighty have fallen. Reputed crime boss John Stanfa, who is supposed to wield such power over gangland slayings, a multimillion-dollar illegal gambling empire, and other illicit activities, can't get a razor in jail. His acting underboss, Frank Martines, sporting six days of growth on his face, can't get clean underwear. Nor can the other six mob guys on trial get basic toiletries or towels to take a shower. Martines' lawyer, Brian McMonagle, called it "cruel and unusual punishment" yesterday before U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter, who is hearing the federal murder-racketeering trial.
July 30, 1990 |
The defense and prosecution flip-flopped last week, when one of the defendants accused of killing Port Richmond teenager Sean Daily took the witness stand and became what one law enforcement observer called "a prosecutor's dream. " The damage wasn't in what James "Bebe" Martinez said about himself and the six other defendants so much as what his presence on the stand allowed Assistant District Attorney Michael McGovern to say about the slaying of Daily. McGovern was able to recapitulate three weeks of evidence he had presented earlier.
January 12, 1989 |
The scene was the Montgomery County Courthouse, but it could have been a Perry Mason rerun. An Upper Merion Township man was waiting Tuesday in the hallway of the courthouse in Norristown to testify on his cousin's behalf in a rape trial when the teary-eyed complaining witness, 34, saw him and identified him as the second man who raped her. "She just walked over to me, pointed to him and said, 'That's the other guy,' " said state Trooper Robert...
October 5, 1989 |
In a speech laced with emotion and indignation, the man who headed the elite police drug unit called Five Squad portrayed himself yesterday as an aggressive foe of drug dealers and denied ever stealing money seized during police raids. "I was a captain in the Philadelphia Police Department. I would never do anything to disgrace my name," declared John Wilson at the start of his 20- minute address to a U.S. District Court jury. "I always did the right thing. " His statement - sandwiched between opening addresses by co-defendants James Cattalo and Richard Jumper - came on the first day of their racketeering retrial.