Law Used Against Alaskans
Systems Not Currently Held Accountable for Error or Blatant Misconduct
Problem: Statute immunizing prosecutors and State officials from abuse of process and misconduct claims = A.S. 09.50.250 - Claims Against the State or State Employees
- This law directly gives state employees a “green light” to cause harm to Alaska citizens including (assault, battery, false imprisonment, false arrest, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, libel, slander, misrepresentation, deceit, or interference with contract rights) without any fear of being held accountable for those actions.
- Individuals being abused are left with no legal recourse to collect damages, or to draw public attention and awareness to the fact that they - and potentially many others - are victims of abuse.
- Anyone can lie in the judicial system, and no one is held accountable. If a case is thrown out in the appeals court due to the behavior, the individual has already suffered extensive wrongful incarceration.
- The State is actively holding individuals criminally and civilly accountable for actions that it has made its own employees immune to.
- Repeal A.S. 09.50.250
- State employees should be granted access to defense from their employer, but should not be granted immunity to illegal and immoral action against other individuals.
Problem: Statutes of limitations against police, state officials and media resulting in abuse with no accountability
- Example: The statute of limitations for assault by a police officer is 2 years. However, if that assault is in direct connection to ongoing criminal charges against an individual’s friend or family member, that individual’s right to file suit is held hostage until the charges are resolved, and frequently result in an expired right.
- Example: In high-profile criminal cases, media outlets can hold hostage fair reporting of events and case facts in a similar fashion until after cases are resolved, and biased or unfair reporting remains unaddressed.
- Statutes of limitations against state officials and media should be tied to resolutions of relevant cases, not initial actions, to reduce retaliation by officials.
Problem: Prosecutors able to go to media with theories of the case without accountability
- Example: In the Allison case, a reporter for the Frontiersman was given information on a judge’s ruling directly by prosecutors involved, and encouraged to write an article; therefore, highlighting information the judge had ruled to suppress from the courtroom due to police misconduct in the local media.
- Example: The initial article on the Allison case published by the ADN included factually inaccurate information taken directly from police reports. All information found in police reports is assumed to be true by local media, but is frequently full of inaccurate summaries, or blatantly false information about the case. These inaccuracies are frequently carried all the way through prosecution, and advertised to the public through local media.
- Prosecutors are already not supposed to fight their cases in the media, but do so without any fear of accountability or penalty. Hold them accountable.
Constitutional Problem: Alaska Bar Association should never be allowed to take away an individual’s Freedom of Speech
Effect: The Alaska Bar Association states on its website that, “You should be aware that the Bar Association's investigation of a complaint is confidential, and everyone involved in the complaint must maintain this confidentiality. (You may consult with a lawyer during this process, but any other discussion of the investigation can be prosecuted as contempt of court.)”
- This stipulation from the Bar violates an individual’s constitutional right to free speech.
- Individual’s who are aware of the stipulation, and value their right to speak out about abuse, will not report misconduct by attorneys to the Bar, and are left with no legal authority who can investigate and take action to end that abuse.
- Individuals who are not aware of the stipulation may be silenced through contempt of court charges.
- Individuals who report and comply with the stipulation may be tied up in the investigation stage for an undetermined period of time, and may never see true resolution to the issue, and are now disallowed from speaking out about abuse
- Revoke the Alaska Bar Association’s authority to remove an individual’s constitutional right to free speech
- Establish an independent authority that is authorized to review the conduct of the Alaska Bar Association
Problem: Ombudsman cannot investigate claims without direct request of the affected party
- While the standard of requiring individuals to have previously addressed complaints to the agency in question before involvement by the Ombudsman normally makes sense, prisoners are completely at the mercy of DOC employees and too vulnerable to retaliation for the same standard to be reasonable. The Ombudsman has reported in most instances that punishment has been served by prisoners long before an issue can be addressed through the Ombudsman, and damages are frequently irreversible.
- Allow family and other concerned individuals (for inmates who may not have family support) to report abuse of inmates that they witness, and allow the Ombudsman to investigate all reports of inmate abuse
Problem: Police are allowed to lie to everyone
- The ability to lie to any and all individuals without restriction is causing the police as an organization to lose their moral authority among the people.
- Individuals will not feel obligated to behave morally in return, and over time learn to automatically distrust information provided by police.
- Investigators have an unchecked ability to suppress evidence at the level of investigation by not pursuing lines of questioning that conflict with their theory of the case, or blatantly lying about evidence which has been found that conflicts with their theory
- Most shocking and damaging of all, lying about information has the effect of contaminating witnesses who do not understand that police are allowed to lie, who will then be used later at trial and often parrot incorrect information they have been intentionally fed by police
- This ability to lie is not only used against suspects, but frequently also used to divide and conquer families and eliminate social support before trial
- Police should be required to maintain the moral high ground and serve as a moral authority. They should be required to ALWAYS provide honest information to both suspects and the general public.
- Police should also not be allowed to separate and interrogate family members alone after times of family hardship and trauma.
- There seems to be an extreme and unscientific bias among police that they will obtain the most accurate information immediately after tragedy, when individuals are often at their most mentally and emotionally unstable. This bias needs to be challenged directly, and corrected with appropriate training on the psychological effects of trauma.
Problem: Police and medical examiners should not be beholden to the DA
- In theory, these organizations are separate. In practice, police work to gather information needed by DA’s during the investigation stage, and often ignore evidence that does not support a theory that would result in conviction.
- Employee performance and department funding should never be tied to conviction rate, or it encourages conviction at the expense of justice
Problem: No forensics standards in Alaska
- The majority of criminal cases today rely on forensic evidence against the accused. However, without sound - and regularly reviewed and updated - standards for forensic evidence collection, testing, and storage the inferences that can be correctly drawn from such evidence is questionable at best
- Prosecutors have the ability to claim such evidence is irrefutable in court, which is often untrue but accepted as truth from jurors who ignorantly believe that the state has technology available like they see on TV dramas such as CSI
- In trial, the state is not held accountable for poorly conducted autopsies and tests, and the questionable evidence gathered is allowed to be used before the jury, even if the errors are challenged
- Individuals are regularly convicted based on flawed or questionable physical evidence
- Alaska should develop a comprehensive set of forensics standards against which all regularly conducted forensic investigations (DNA tests, autopsies, drug tests, etc.) should be compared
- Errors or contamination of tests should be required to be boldly stated on all resulting documentation
- An Independent authority should house evidence who does not have a vested interest in conviction or dismissal (similar to the Ombudsman?), and individuals other than police should be allowed to submit evidence for consideration
- Each fact presented in an autopsy report should have samples, photos, slides, or evidence of other kinds to prove its existence beyond the word of the medical examiner
- Thorne Instruction in courts should be amended to require the State to be held accountable for mishandling remains, and remove the faulty assumption that evidence is not destroyed when the body is released to the family
- Every family needs to be afforded the right to an independent autopsy
- State should be held accountable for failure to create or produce performance records of medical examiners
- Every defendant needs right to DNA tests in cases where DNA evidence could be material
Problem: No current requirement for documents that are in error at ANY and ALL stages and levels of investigation, trial, sentencing or beyond to be corrected
- Without reasonable timelines for correcting error after notice of inaccuracy, or penalty for the choice to leave documentation uncorrected, courts and authorities have no motivation to correct their mistakes and frequently communicate that errors CANNOT be corrected after the fact
- Individuals who make errors often fear personal liability, and will avoid drawing attention to inaccuracies by filing official corrections even if the inaccuracies were from honest mistakes
- Example: In the Allison case, there is a recording of a Parole Officer who explained to family that an extreme inaccuracy in the Presentence Report (PSR) he developed would not be corrected because “that could cause some problems for [him]” and “[he] could be liable.”
- Faulty documentation leads to faulty information being passed on to later stages, and assumed to be true by parties who become involved in those stages. The direct result is action taken against suspects/defendants/convicts which are based on incorrect information.
- Example: In the Allison case, the trial judge ruled at sentencing that she found the lengthy list of inaccuracies in the PSR to be “immaterial” and she didn’t “believe that anyone in the future will care” so she ruled that the changes would not be made
- The ability to communicate inaccurately documented information needs to be part of family, witness, and victim’s rights
Problem: Official lists like sex offender registry “unable” to be corrected
- Individuals penalized for appearing on lists they should never have been placed on
- The state should never maintain lists of this nature that cannot be swiftly and permanently corrected
Problem: The trial judge is the only short-term authority who can rule for a mistrial before a case is brought up for appeal
- If the cause of the mistrial is a direct ruling, or action, by the trial judge the request for mistrial will be denied by default
- Appeals take 1-5 years on average before being reviewed, even minimally, by a court of appeals
- Individuals serve lengthy prison sentences for many charges which are overturned later and re-tried or dismissed entirely
- An immediate basic review process should be available after trial, including time expectations based upon the “right to a speedy trial,” which look for obvious appeal points that would result in overturning a conviction. Cases with obvious appeal issues should be prioritized for rapid consideration.
- Example: If information spoken by the state’s primary witness in the case is wrong - proven through documentation - it should be a mistrial
- The judge or attorney rendering the second opinion should not be a local judge, to remove bias from local court processes and acceptable behavior
Problem: COMMON DA/police tactic is failure to notify of formal charges and upcoming hearings sufficiently in advance of requirement to attend
- Example: In the Allison case, charges were initially dropped and then Clayton was reindicted months later. Fortunately, defense attorneys notified Clayton of the indictment and his need to attend (even though they were not officially his attorneys at the time). The police officer assigned to deliver the notice presented it to Mr. and Mrs. Allison at the courthouse, 15 minutes before the hearing began. He explained that he had been “too busy” to deliver the murder indictment earlier.
- Failure to appear in court can be penalized with additional bail and/or third-party restrictions placed on the individual prior to trial
- Disallow penalties against the accused unless it can be demonstrated that individuals were appropriately notified and is it reasonable to assume they knew
- Example: a certified letter is not evidence of someone’s knowledge unless a signed receipt was returned
Court Precedent Changing Laws Over Time To Be Abusive to Defendants and Families, Resulting In Higher Rates of Conviction and Incarceration
Problem: Families not permitted rights/protections and being denied “right to an attorney”
- Families are often drawn into conflict with police, prosecutors, OCS employees, and other individuals involved in criminal cases. They are regularly misrepresented, threatened, or outright accused of wrongdoing, but never officially charged in a court of law.
- Because they are not considered defendants, they are denied either the right to an attorney (unless they can afford one independently) and the right to speak out against false accusations and misrepresentation in court
- In some cases, obtaining a conviction successfully is dependant upon proving these individuals as ‘biased’ or ‘untruthful’ in their testimony, and prosecutors will paint this picture for juries without any evidence
- Family, friends, and supportive community members of the accused are publicly slandered, libeled, and defamed with no legal recourse to pursue accountability of prosecutors
- An authority needs to be established which a family and other individuals can go to in order to show additional case evidence which could lead to dismissal of a case
- Needs to be an independent party involved who evaluates new evidence and determines whether or not to intervene and dismiss a case, and is NOT associated with the DA or police in ANY fashion
- Professionals involved in the review of cases (medical, OCS, etc.) should not work for the State, but should serve as independent arbiters
- Prosecutors should be held criminally and civilly accountable for making accusations, which cannot be supported by case evidence or court documentation, against individuals who are not defendants
- Individuals who are not on trial, but who are accused of wrongdoing on official court record should be afforded the right to an attorney regardless of ability to pay
- Ability to attack family exists long before the court case exists (begins at hospital, during investigation, etc) and this bias should be allowed to be addressed at trial, regardless of the potential to be “emotionally charged” information for the jury
- Example: In the Allison case, the pediatric ICU doctor demonstrated extreme sexism and obvious bias that Clayton was at fault; resulting in clear actions against Clayton and the family. The judge ruled at trial that Ms. Allison was not allowed to testify about these events, despite the fact that the Pediatric ICU doctor was a primary State witness.
Problem: Hearsay laws being used against defendants
- Hearsay laws were originally developed to prevent defendants from being convicted based on witnesses who simply heard information through a second- or third-party; however, in today’s courts they have been changed over time to prevent defense attorneys from asking investigators/police about statements made by the defendant about the events that occurred.
- If an individual chooses to maintain their right not to speak at trial (for any number of reasons other than guilt), this law now prevents the defense from ever presenting an accurate representation of a defendant’s original story
- Rewrite the hearsay laws to prevent them from placing restrictions on defendant’s statements
Problem: Court precedent in combination with current Miranda Rights language in Alaska law is leading police to plan interrogations that nullify the requirement to read an individual their Miranda Rights; therefore, ensuring their statements are unprotected in court
- Individuals not considered “in police custody” are not afforded Miranda Rights - even if they are the primary suspect in a case. Therefore, police are planning interrogations conducted in people’s homes, and asking them to repeat self-incriminating and coerced statements in front of family and friends, so that those statements cannot be challenged in later in court - even if evidence of police misconduct in obtaining those statements is found.
- Family who hear these statements are held to their validity, and accused of perjury later, even if they personally believe the statements to be coerced and untrue.
- Individuals are being convicted based on statements which may be false, due to coercive tactics, because testimony that is not protected by Miranda cannot be challenged.
- Alaska’s Miranda requirements need to be rewritten to account for this new police tactic
Problem: Court precedent being set by trial judges is increasingly requiring that equal footing and consideration be given to the State and Defendants in the interest of being “balanced”
- Not constitutional - An individual's rights have always been intended to supercede the rights of their accuser
- Inherently unequal footing - A prosecutor and a defense attorney do not face the same cost of losing their case
- Loss of Case Vs. Loss of Life
- Suppression punishment rendered moot later in trial. Evidence which was suppressed before trial - often as punishment for the way the evidence was obtained or handled - can be completely reversed if the trial judge tries to account for the inherent “unfair” ability to question on that evidence.
- Example: The trial judge in the Allison case suppressed defendant's statements due to that fact that they were found to be coerced. Later in trial, the judge refused to rule that these statements could not be brought out if they were in contradiction to family member representation of the defendant’s character - which implies that the coerced statements would have to be considered valid. Coerced statements cannot be considered reliable in their validity.
- Court precedent needs to be examined to realign evidence laws with original goals to protect the life and wellbeing of the innocent accused
Problem: Court allowed to preclude a defense witnesses based on their belief that the defendant is innocent
- Example: In the Allison case, the trial judge ruled that an expert witness would not be allowed to testify in trial, not based on the validity of his opinion or expertise, but because it was “too obvious” that he believed Clayton was innocent and the jury would be witness to that opinion
- Courts that restrict evidence based on its ability to make a defendant “appear innocent” are systematically ruling out the potential for reasonable doubt and setting up individuals for conviction instead of assuring a fair trial
- Remove the court’s ability to preclude or limit witnesses (expert or character) based on their belief that a defendant is innocent
- Remove the court’s ability to limit the number of character witnesses for a defendant
Problem: Current definition of “reasonable doubt” presented to juries does not align with the ultimate cost of their ruling
- Jurors are told that “Reasonable Doubt” equates to something you would feel confident in deciding for a major life decision like “buying a house”. This IN NO WAY aligns with the complete loss of life that can result from a conviction.
- Prosecutors explain to jurors that “of course you will have doubt!” as if this is acceptable even in a finding of guilt
- Jurors are specifically shielded from knowing the sentencing standards for the charges they are determining guilt for. While designed to shield them from an emotional decision, this restriction actually serves to blind them to the cost they are inflicting upon the individual and reduce their inhibitions to impose a guilty verdict.
- Individuals are found guilty in situations where jurors were pressured to make decisions so they could return to their normal lives, and sometimes serve life-sentences based on questionable decisions.
- Redefine pattern jury instruction language to better align with the known lifetime ramifications of even short-term incarceration
Problem: Medical evidence, including family history, can currently be banned from appearing in a courtroom by judges with no medical background
- Cases that rely upon medical evidence are directly contaminated by excluding relevant information in advance of review by a jury
- Example: In the Allison case, the trial judge ruled that because the defense did not have an expert qualified to diagnose Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) available to testify, testimony that Jocelynn’s mother has an EDS Type 3 diagnosis (relevant family medical history regardless of diagnosis) would be banned from the courtroom even by medical professionals because it could “confuse” the jury (or introduce reasonable doubt)
- Prevent judges from ever banning factual evidence, such as family medical history, from the courtroom - regardless of expert availability
Problem: Witnesses being suppressed by threats to take away their children.
- Individuals who are involved with criminal cases, and stand in support of defendants, often have the Office of Children’s Services (OCS) threaten to revoke parental rights and remove children from their custody
- This threat removes social support from defendants and frequently discourages witnesses from cooperating with defense counsel, or alters their testimony at trial
- Children are taken away from loving parents and placed into foster care as retaliation, resulting in extreme emotional trauma across entire families, and sometimes are never returned to parents. Foster children are frequently subjected to secondary abuse after placement.
- Create protective legislation that prevents retaliation against individuals by using their children as hostages
Problem: Prosecutors should not be allowed to prosecute based on multiple theories of the case
- Presenting multiple theories of a case prevents defense attorneys from crafting an appropriate defense
- Multiple theories of the case open a defendant up to conviction based on conflicting juror beliefs on what happened
- Jurors are required to submit a verdict, and not challenged on their decision of actual events that took place, preventing a solid basis for appropriate sentencing
- Prosecutors are able to argue worst-case scenarios at sentencing - as if the verdict proves the worst-case in every aspect of the case - regardless of the fact that this was not established by jurors
- Individuals are sentenced on the worst-case scenario, and serve longer prison sentences without just cause
- Prevent prosecutors from arguing multiple theories simultaneously. They either believe they know what happened, or they don’t know beyond a reasonable doubt by default.
- Require jurors to agree on the specific criminal acts the defendant is being convicted of.
Policies of State Systems Causing Widespread Harm To Communities
Problem: Psychological needs of family members and individuals other than “victims” disregarded
- Police, prosecutors, and other parties have developed a bias that “the ends justify the means” and ignore the psychological effects of practices like: lying to families about evidence; abusive interrogation practices; asking parents and family to “reenact” child deaths; forcing children to testify on abuse; etc.
- These practices cause long-term psychological trauma which can lead to other social issues like: substance abuse; mental illness; suicide; homicide; etc.
- These practices also lead to inaccurate information being gathered from mentally and emotionally unstable “witnesses” who are then held to those statements at court regardless of the validity of their initial statements
- Convictions are obtained based on this obviously unreliable source of information
- Wrongful conviction and incarceration compound the psychological and physical trauma of the accused, friends, family, and other community members
- Police officers need a DO NO HARM oath similar to that required of doctors, and should be held accountable for intentionally inflicted harm
- Police officers need adequate and appropriate psychological training to challenge the extreme bias that truthful information somehow comes from emotional instability
- Revoke the removal of protected communications in child and domestic violence cases, which prevent community members from accessing adequate psychological, spiritual and physical care
- Needs to be a statewide “Compassion Initiative” dealing with these critical issues
Problem: Action taken against defendants with only a single individual’s accusation of wrongdoing
- Example: Young man just acquitted of rape in Palmer after serving 2 years on 1 young girl’s word
- Example: Military case dropped after accusation determined to be unfounded, but picked up later to be prosecuted by the state
- Imbalance makes it too easy for someone to ruin a life with a mere accusation, and face no personal accountability for the resulting damage
Problem: Plea bargains causing individuals to spend lengthy terms in prison without being proven guilty in a court of law
- The rampant legal disadvantages being inflicted upon defendants at trial, in combination with prosecution motivation to “save time,” have led to a rampant issuance of plea bargains
- Defendants are pressured into by prosecutors and defense attorneys alike for all cases, because it saves time for prosecutors and reduces the likelihood for extreme sentencing against the individual if they lose at trial
- Innocent individuals are frequently accepting plea bargains for reduced sentences and the ability to return home to their families
- Individuals are still required to serve time agreed upon even if proven innocent through evidence at a later date, and lose all rights to appeal
- It is not made clear to defendants that they are NOT binding on the State (in agreements for sentences) while they are binding on the defendant for guilt.
- Current structure reverses level of responsibility for real actions; ensuring extreme, lengthy sentences for individuals who fight to maintain their innocence, and short-term sentences for individuals who freely admit guilt
- Completely reform, if not abolish, plea bargains
Constitutional Problem: Absurd bail and third-party requirements causing individuals to spend lengthy terms in prison without being proven guilty in a court of law. Bail and third-party restrictions were originally intended to discourage or prevent the accused from fleeing, and were only supposed to be imposed when there was a significant and demonstrable flight risk. Now they are being imposed routinely, as a matter of course, and are instead based on the severity of the charges.
- Individuals being assigned abusive bail requirements are being forced to spend lengthy terms in prisons without exercising their right to a fair trial; costing the individual’s livelihood and increased state spending
- Example: $100,000 cash-only bail requirement for an individual with no criminal background, no eye-witness or video evidence of guilt, and an annual income of $30,000
- The median bail amount nationally for felony violent offenses is $22,000. However, seeing $100,000 bail amounts, and higher, is not uncommon to the Alaskan experience.
- Money being generated by the court system through bail has led to abuse of the system which ignores individual rights. This abuse is disproportionately experienced by the poor who have less resources to meet bail requirements with.
- “Dissatisfaction with the bail process stems from several factors. First, many defendants - in some studies over 90 percent of pretrial detainees - are practically indigent and cannot afford bail. Second, money is a weak incentive for appearance in court in many cases, because the people who can afford bail are the ones most likely to appear at trial without the threat of its forfeiture. Perhaps the most disquieting factor is that human freedom can be had for a price. Imprisoning people merely because they are too poor to pay for their release seems antithetical to our cultural ideals and our concept of justice.”
- Individuals who can afford bail, frequently cannot find an individual willing or able to serve on third-party. Officials assigning third-party requirements have no real concept of the commitment being required of the voluntary third-party individual, and the resulting lifestyle restrictions.
- Third-party assigned to defendants across the board, often regardless of charges or circumstance, when other states do not impose such a requirement in addition to bail.
- Completely reform, if not abolish, third-party restrictions except in cases where individuals have previously fled
- Completely reform bail amounts
- Return money to defendants (or family) who are able to demonstrate that there was no basis for flight risk established
Problem: Juries are no longer able to fulfill the purpose they were intended for in the modern age when restricted by historical law and precedent
- Judicial system cannot currently cope with current level of juror access to information online
- Cell phones in jury boxes
- Google searches upon returning home
- Newspaper at courthouse front door
- Juries for murder convictions should be sequestered, but murder trials last for weeks at a time
- No accountability at ALL
- No fear of perjury if lying before the court about exposure to additional information
- Specifically shielded from information about the ramifications to the individual’s life if sentence is imposed
- Juries protected from “emotional response,” but therefore are not allowed to rule on “matters of prejudice” when hearing witness testimony
- Prosecutors have the ability to throw out everyone with an education by default, and often reduce jury pools down to the least educated when able
- Juries are not sufficiently educated on the law or critical science of complex forensically-based cases
- May need to be a standing medical jury which needs to be able to hear both sides before a case is brought to a grand jury.
- Prosecution experts should not be able to serve on standing medical jury
- Perspectives on medical jury should be balanced on controversial issues like Shaken Baby Syndrome. If the science does not support a theory of injury beyond a reasonable doubt, an individual should not be able to be convicted on that theory beyond a reasonable doubt.
- May need to be a standing medical jury which needs to be able to hear both sides before a case is brought to a grand jury.
- Attorneys are specifically prohibited from interacting with jurors in ANY way (even to say good morning) but judges are allowed to swap recipes, bring coffee, and buddy-up to jurors. Therefore, if a trial judge demonstrates obvious bias against a defendant or witness, jurors are more likely to align with the judge’s bias.
- Jury of Peers is no longer real
- No perspective on “reasonable expectations” for the individual when jurors have no similarity to the defendant
- Problems with “indoctrination” into biases of their profession
- Needs to be some kind of acknowledgement that the young can be easily swayed by other jurors
- Needs to be acknowledgement of other factors that affect acuity (Advanced age, medications, etc.)
- Juries which are contaminated are not being pulled
- Questions asked about hearing information “outside of court” could go without lying even if additional information was heard in the jury room after being passed along by contaminated jurors
- Example: In the Allison case, one juror was allowed who had eaten at the home of the main prosecution witness. Another potential juror, brought up newspaper coverage of the case from years prior on their smart phone and began reading the information to other potential jurors - the potential jury pool was never thrown out despite this information being on court record.
Problem: The court makes money off of individuals trapped within the system, and so do other parties involved. This has created profit for the courts, and these profits contaminate decisions that should be based on fairness and justice.
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