font-family: 'Arizonia', cursive; Michael Stichauf - "As I understand it now...'til it changes": March 2015

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Mandatory Trans-vaginal ultrasound debate

As a man, I get apprehensive about writing pieces which deal with women's issues, especially women's reproductive issues. I know there are feelings and experiences, attached to these issues, that I could never begin to understand. That being said, because of my position on these issues, I'm hoping that women won't have a problem with my expressing and espousing these very positions. My goal is to promote, what I feel is, every woman's right to have the decision to do what they want with their own bodies. For too long, the Congress of the United States of America and just about every other politician, male or female, have thought that it's their job to tell a woman just what it is that she is allowed to do with her very own body! In January of this year, our "esteemed" (?!?!) politicians were at it again!

On January 22, 2015, House Republican, Jeff Duncan (R-
Rep. Duncan (R-S.C.)
So.Car.), along with ten other Republican men, introduced a bill which would make it mandatory for women, who are seeking an abortion, to go through an extremely intrusive ultrasound procedure before they would be allowed (?!) to have that abortion. The implications are easy to understand; NO intrusive ultrasound, NO abortion! Here is just another attempt by the Republican party to get another step closer to making abortion impossible for women. Now, Republicans will probably say, "This bill isn't framed to stop women from getting an abortion. Quite the contrary, in fact! The bill is intended to give women the best care possible with the best available equipment." On it's face, that comment would seem to be correct and genuine. The bill does state that the ultrasound must be performed with the best possible technology available. These days, that means the ultrasound must be a trans-vaginal ultrasound. Here's the rub, though; Making these trans-vaginal ultrasounds "mandatory", is bad medicine. As I'll talk about later, the majority of abortion cases never need a transvaginal ultrasound. That is- the majority of them don't. So, if that's the case, why are the Republicans trying to make them mandatory? The Republicans want to cloak the forcing of their moral and religious beliefs on women in language that sounds like they care for the health of the woman seeking the abortion. While I'm sure they don't want to see harm come to these women, they care more about forcing their beliefs on them. Also, o
ne of the consequences of this intrusive procedure is that it raises the cost of the whole abortion process to the point where most middle to lower income women can't afford it. More on that later, also.

Two Different Ultrasound Procedures

In prenatal medical care, there are two different kinds of ultrasound procedures. The most common one is the "topical" ultrasound. The other one is called a "trans-vaginal" ultrasound. 

Trans-Vaginal probe,left - Topical Ultrasound, right

Web MD describes ultrasounds as such;

"A prenatal ultrasound test uses high-frequency sound waves, inaudible to the human ear, that are transmitted through the abdomen via a device called a transducer to look at the inside of the abdomen. With prenatal ultrasound, the echoes are recorded and transformed into video or photographic images of your baby. The ultrasound can be used during pregnancy to show images of the baby, amniotic sac, placenta, and ovaries. Major anatomical abnormalities or birth defects are visible on an ultrasound. An ultrasound is generally performed for all pregnant women around 20 weeks into her pregnancy. During this ultrasound, the doctor will confirm that the placenta is healthy and that your baby is growing properly in the uterus. The baby's heartbeat and movement of its body, arms and legs can also be seen on the ultrasound."

Next, they describe trans-vaginal ultrasound;

"Most prenatal ultrasound procedures are performed topically, or on the surface of the skin, using a gel as a conductive medium to aid in the image quality. However, a transvaginal ultrasound is an alternative procedure in which a tubular probe is inserted into the vaginal canal. This method of ultrasound produces an image quality that is greatly enhanced, but it is not a common prenatal procedure. However, it may be used early in pregnancy to get a clearer view of the uterus or ovaries if a problem is suspected. It may also be used early in pregnancy to determine how far along you are in your pregnancy (gestational age)."

Over the years, ultrasounds have been used as a normal procedure for prenatal care. For years they have been using the "topical" form, meaning on the surface of the skin. Recently, trans-vaginal ultrasounds have been used because the picture they provide doctors and healthcare professionals is, hands-down, a better quality picture. No one doubts that. No one also doubts that, when necessary, a woman will agree to the trans-vaginal ultrasound when their doctor tells them that it is a needed medical procedure (NOT a mandated one), because he/she can't get the image that they need from a topical ultrasound. From the information that I've read, the "necessary need" for a trans-vaginal ultrasound is rather rare, although it is "needed" for some things. 

The Heart of the Debate

The Conservatives

The issue at the heart of this debate is the unnecessary mandating of trans-vaginal ultrasounds by the "state". It calls to mind the "Big Brother" image that our state and federal governments have been pushing on us for decades now! Slowly but surely, government has decided that they know what's best for our citizenry. With the appointments of certain judges to the supreme court, the chances that laws which end up governing the human body and what we can do with our own bodies, are not likely to be overturned! We are entering a dangerous period in "Democratic" governing if "we", as citizens of the United States, won't stand-up and tell our government that we won't allow them to dictate what kind of control we have over our bodies. Without sounding like some "fringe nut-job" we aren't a far cry away from, for example, our government, fearing that our population may be expanding at too great a rate, to start to propose "population control" laws such as the "one child law" that Communist China had enacted in 1979 and still exists today! Now, I don't believe we have a population problem but it's an example of what governments are capable of doing once they think that they've got their citizens in the palm of their hand. I understand that this kind of thinking is extreme but with the legislation that the Republicans have suggested here, it is a slippery slope that we find ourselves on. Don't forget, it was only twelve to thirteen years ago when "Dubya" (our previous, "Grand Leader") enacted the current laws that were initially supposed to be used ONLY for spying on terrorists. Now we've come to realize that those very laws are being used to spy on our own people. I'm sure no one thought that domestic spying would be allowed to flourish, AGAIN, in our country after the fiasco that was uncovered by the Church Committee of the 70s. Ladies and gentlemen, once your government takes something away from you, you will NEVER get it back! These "spying" laws and the

infringements on our civil rights that we were told were only to last as long as the war on terror existed, will never be reversed! We have permanently lost some of our freedom and we've laid down and let the government do it to us! My point to this little digression is that if we let the Republicans get away with deciding that it's their right to tell women what they can and cannot do with their body, that slippery slope we find ourselves on now, turns to a sheet of ice! 

Some Insights and Consequences on the Bill

The Republican sponsored bill mandates that abortion clinics must have their patient view an ultrasound of their baby, as well as listen to the baby's heartbeat, prior to allowing her to have the abortion. It also stipulates that the ultrasound must be performed with the best possible technology available. Hence, the trans-vaginal ultrasound mandate. Trans-vaginal ultrasounds are much better
Fetal Ultrasound
quality procedures than the topical kind. Next, this all must occur 24 hours prior to the abortion and it must be performed by the very same doctor who is performing the abortion, requiring the doctor to be at the clinic two days in a row. 

Using the language, "the ultrasound must be performed with the best possible technology available" is rather disingenuous. While it promotes an air of making sure the woman gets the best possible treatment devices available, making the Republicans look good, it's really an underhanded way of forcing a woman to undergo a procedure that is very intrusive and uncomfortable, in order for the Republicans to force their morals and beliefs upon the women of our society. The Republicans believe that forcing a woman to see and hear their baby's heartbeat will make them reconsider their choice of having an abortion. To date, there still isn't conclusive data that this approach will force a woman to decide not to have the abortion. Some doctors have actually said that in some cases, it has strengthened a woman's resolve to continue with the abortion. Still, an approach such as this is a reprehensible act for what used to be a distinguished American political party. 

$431.00 California Welfare Check

Another consequence to this legislation will be the rise in the cost of an abortion. Having the procedure the day before the abortion, by the same doctor doing the abortion, forces the doctor to be at the clinic two days in a row which drives up the cost to the woman seeking the abortion. Usually the procedure itself is performed by a technician who is capable of doing the procedure, which doesn't force the doctor to be at the clinic when it is administered. Another way that the cost is driven up is by the mere fact that in most cases, a trans-vaginal ultrasound is never needed in prenatal care prior to an abortion. With the average cost of an abortion running between $5oo - $1000, the cost can quickly jump to $750 - $1250. That's more than some poverty level women make in a month, requiring them to take the money from some other area of their expenses, like food or rent. Government and insurance companies have been complaining for years about the rise in the cost of health care and here the government goes and automatically drives up the cost for an abortion with the mandating of this procedure. Nevermind that it's all because of their hidden moral agenda directed at the women of America, it's bad medicine!

The "Males Know Best "Club
House Republican Leadership
People in general get resentful when their decisions about their own health care are taken out of their hands. What makes this so egregious is the fact that these male-chauvinist Republicans are so arrogant as to think that they, and only they, know what's right for a women to be doing with her health care and her body! Don't forget, this "males know best" attitude is what started the women's movement in the first place and for the Republicans to be proposing a bill such as this, at this particular time, is just another instance of their blind hubris and arrogance. They act as if they have no clue that they've already lost women in America! 

Medical Rape

Women and women's groups are referring to this as "medical rape" and I can see why they feel that way. Just so we understand- rape; "the crime... of forcing another person to have sexual intercourse... against their will" (Oxford Dictionaries). Although many consider this example as extreme, it's certainly understandable why it's being used. Obviously, the operative phrase here is, "against their will". This legislation is being proposed by congress and eleven men who are trying to enact it, "against the will of women". There hasn't been a single woman representative, Republican or Democrat, willing to sign on as a sponsor and that's a very telling piece of information. Why is it that a bill that is put forth as legislation, which will end up governing the bodies of women, doesn't have a single woman sponsoring it? It's because it's an archaic proposal which has no place on our law books! Archaic because it harkens back to the bad old "paternalistic" attitudes of our U.S. Congress and their condescending view of women. It is against the will of women! It is also considered "medical rape" because, in a more literal manner, the mandating of a trans-vaginal ultrasound without a woman's consent is the forcing of a probe, into the vagina of a woman, without her consent; i.e., "the forcing of another person to have sexual intercourse... against their will"! Now, I know there will be people saying that this is just too extreme of an example but, is it really? Let's face it folks, women are fighting a bill that could amount to turning back the clock forty years in the history of women's medicine. I'm not sure that anything is too extreme for this fight!

There is Hope

I do have some bright news, though! The outrage has begun over this legislation. Women are not willing to let a congress go back to their old-time, paternalistic, arrogant ways. It's not just women, though. There are many groups willing to get involved because this particular legislation could stand as a sort of precedent for the congress to pass laws governing the bodies of women and men. Action has already begun and one group is circulating a petition to send to congress to get them to drop the "forced ultrasound bill". Ultraviolet is a "community of people from all walks of life mobilized to fight sexism and expand women’s rights, from politics and government to media and pop culture." If you are as outraged as others are over this legislation, you can go to this website to sign their petition; "Tell congress to drop the forced ultrasound bill"

Let's all get behind this campaign to end the proposal of this particular bill. Even if the "medical rape" example is too extreme for you, the fact that there are numerous other reasons that make this bill unacceptable should be enough for you to make sure it shouldn't even see the light of day. When this particular medical procedure is needed, let it be because a doctor is requesting it because there is a medical need for his request. When this procedure is needed, let's make sure it's because a doctor says it's needed, because the doctor explains the legitimate reason as to why it's needed! When this is done in the confines of a doctor's office or clinic, with a woman knowing she has the right to refuse, it's a whole different situation. Under those circumstances, most women would agree to the procedure... or maybe most women wouldn't agree to the situation. Either way, a woman would have a choice in the matter. That's the way it should be. That's the way women have been demanding that it should be! Women have fought for this respect for a long time now and they deserve it! Yet, when politicians make a trans-vaginal ultrasound mandatory, and in this case all the sponsors are men, they trigger memories of decades of arrogance and disdain which women suffered under from the medical profession and politicians alike. Again, women would have someone other than themselves telling them what they can and can not do with their bodies. It's been just over forty years now since the legalization of abortion, enough time for almost two generations of women to have control of their bodies when it comes to abortion and their health care. Let's not set "Women's Heath Care" back to the old days when men, not women, were in charge of a woman's body.

And that's, "As I understand it now... 'til it changes".
Thanks for reading.
Michael K. Stichauf.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

NSA and Snowden activity have changed our online and telephone habits

I’ve just read a terrific article written by Suzanne Nossel from CNN. It's called, "After Snowden, we're self-censoring and we don't care". She discusses how the NSA and the Snowden affair have already changed the way that the public and writers have curbed what they discuss on the phone and what they put out over social media. After you read the article, I want to discuss the implications of the NSA and Snowden’s actions with everyone.

I don’t have an opinion on the actions of Mr. Snowden. I see pros and cons in the whole affair. What does bother me is the effect that it seems to have on the public and the press.

I agree with Ms. Nossel that Snowden probably had no idea that the fall-out, from his actions, was going to be this bad. Maybe he figured, naively, that it would get the administration to change their tactics in their intelligence gathering. To be sure, no one can read his mind. What we can discuss are the after effects and how they have changed people’s actions.

Angela Merkel
Nonetheless, there have been International repercussions that have embarrassed the United States. With the discovery that Heads of State, Angela Merkel for one, were having their cell phones gleaned for information, the International community has come to realize that a lot of this was done under the guise of mining for terrorism information. Because of these revelations, the United Nations has started an investigation into the U.S.’s actions. Yet, with the fact that we run the United Nations, NOTHING OF SUBSTANCE WILL EVER COME OF THIS INVESTIGATION.

Going into the time when Mr. Snowden revealed all his information, we all know that a good many of us were concerned over just what it was that the “G” was collecting and from whom they were collecting it. As the years went by, small “bits” of information were getting out that “Islamic fundamentalists” weren’t the only people the N.S.A. was “bugging” for information.  Initially, I think just about everyone was “on-board” with the new legislation that was enacted in order to fight the “War on Terror”. Yes, the A.C.L.U. was against the legislation, but that’s what they do. Believe me; we all should be glad that that is what they do. We need somebody to act as the “devil’s advocate” for things such as this. What most of us didn’t think about though, was the fact that once the “G” takes something away, WE NEVER GET IT BACK! NEVER! As much as we came to accept these laws, and as much as we figured that they were here for a while, I don’t think a lot of us understood that they weren’t coming off the books. Slowly but surely, Americans started to change what they said on the phone and what they posted on their favorite social networking sites. Most of us never even realized that it was happening. Over time, this “surveillance” has changed the way U.S. citizens express themselves! As the saying goes, “doing something for seven days makes it a habit” and most of us now don’t even realize that we “self-monitor” what we put out to even our closest friends. It’s automatic now.

According to a PEW RESEARCH survey, about half of Americans support the NSA programs of surveillance! Many people in favor of these programs seize on a survey like this to point to the fact that the American public is behind the NSA on this topic. What they forget is the fact that, if half the public supports these programs, the OTHER HALF DOESN’T SUPPORT THEM! Many of us realize that the information that is needed in this “War” could be seized with the same laws that we had in place BEFORE 9/11. This includes the “F.I.S.A.” law, which has been in effect since 1979. What we need to understand is the fact that over the last 15-20 years, the public has given up on trying to fight the Government. We’ve become complacent when it comes to issues that oppress us, the stealing of our Civil Rights. As Ms. Nossel so beautifully writes, ‘Some Americans' relative nonchalance toward the government prying into e-mails and calls we long thought were private may stem in part from knowing that we have already ceded so much of our privacy voluntarily. Social media, online shopping, and simple browsing have become semi-public acts. It's hard to know who can see what, and worrying about it can stand in the way of buying a birthday present, posting a great photo or getting your taxes done.’(under-lining added) And she’s right. But, just because I’ve decided to relinquish my right to privacy, doing something that I enjoy, doesn’t mean that I should accept the Government taking those same rights away because they want to keep tabs on every Tom, Dick and Jane that they chose! Furthermore, the chance that any average Joe will ever find
FISA's Ramifications
out whether they were denied something, anything, because of what they’ve tweeted or posted to a social networking site are nil. We were lucky that the Church commission was able to uncover the information that the F.B.I. was keeping on people they considered radicals. Believe me; the government will NEVER make that mistake again.

Another point that Ms. Nossel makes is this; she writes, ‘When the Snowden story first broke, Obama claimed that the newly exposed programs had foiled 50 terrorist plots. After reading through a classified list of the thwarted assaults, Sen. Patrick Leahy called the figure "plainly wrong.”  In the few cases where details have been released, journalists and intelligence experts have argued that the evidence gathered through surveillance could have been obtained in other ways, or wasn't crucial.’ This again goes to the point that all the information that we need to fight this “War” can easily be done with the laws that were in place at the time of 9/11. What needed to be done was to put to an end the rivalries and the childish bickering that was occurring between the different intelligence agencies that were tasked with collecting this information. There were even rivalries between different F.B.I. offices that were thwarting the sharing of information that could have stopped this attack BEFORE it even took wings! A great example of this is the story of an agent in one of the western offices who sent a memo to a department head about certain men of “Arab” decent who were taking flying lessons. One of these men was so bold as to tell his instructor that he only wanted to learn how to take-off and fly the plane. He didn’t NEED TO KNOW HOW TO LAND THE PLANE!! Well, the instructor thought that something wasn’t right about this guy and he called the F.B.I. After 9/11, it came to light that this memo was left on the dept. head’s desk and never sent to the people that it needed to be sent to. All we needed was a re-vamping of the way all the info was collected and sent to the right people.

Let’s now discuss what these “surveillance” issues have done to writers and journalists. Many journalists have admitted to turning down assignments because they might be subjects that are too sensitive. They are afraid that something that they write about might be gathered in by the N.S.A. and they may be the subject of some kind of investigation. Now, many of us might say, “They are writers; they’re protected by the rights of the press.” Let me remind you of one of the tactics used by the police or any other agency that has the ability to take away your freedom, for weeks at a time, before you see a judge. They know that people don’t like to be inconvenienced. Therefore, these agencies threaten to arrest (even if they know you are innocent) anyone doing OR writing anything that they don’t like. With the fact that there is often no bail on any kind of “terrorism” charge, it could be weeks before that individual would see a judge who MIGHT throw the case out but most likely will be told NOT to do that AND not to impose a bond so that the person stays behind bars! Who, but some of the most incredible people of our time (Rosa Parks, M.L.K.), are willing to have their freedom taken from them like that. Believe me, it will and probably has happened. Journalists are the most important people in our society when it comes to keeping the “G” honest. When things like this are threatened, nobody is safe.

We know that most journalists have stronger constitutions (character) than the average person because exposing wrongdoing is what they’ve chosen as a career path. There are tons of examples, over the years, where the courts have protected the journalist from individuals or institutions wanting to curb their right to “free speech” or from having to expose their sources. Unfortunately, over the last 12 years or so, journalists have had these protections slowly vanish. The dangers of these new attacks on the press are starting to show. There are now subjects that some journalists simply refuse to examine. Who knows what the outcome will be, over time, as we “forget” about these situations that normally would have been exposed because of our unique protection of speech.

During the 2008 and 2012 elections, I honestly thought that electing another “old white guy” wasn’t going to change the culture of deceit that had become the Government of the United States. I also honestly thought that electing Obama would go a long way towards changing THAT culture of deceit. Boy, was I wrong! I simply FORGOT about ALL THE OTHER “OLD WHITE GUYS”, in the congress, THAT WEREN’T GOING TO ALLOW THAT CHANGE to happen! What I find so repulsive is the fact that, when you think about it, OUR government has lumped US in with the likes of IRAN, NORTH KOREA and the TERRORISTS! The citizens of the United States have their phones tapped and their social network sites monitored just like the Taliban! Because of our INITIAL sense of patriotism, we’ve slowly allowed our government, OUR GOVERNMENT, to highjack our rights. Rights, which we’ll never get back again. So much for, “Government of the people, by the people, for the people...”

And that’s, “As I understand it now... ‘til it changes”. Let me know what you think.

Thank you, Michael K. Stichauf

How Crooked "Coppers" Get Around the Inconveniences of Probable Cause, Search Warrants and that Other Inconvenience... THE LAW!

Every day we hear stories about how another “copper” (my term for a corrupt & crooked cop) has been caught and arrested because of malfeasance. I just read another story about a Baltimore copper violating ANOTHER individual’s civil rights. Let’s discuss just what it is that these “Scumbags” do to get around these, oh-so-inconvenient laws. First, though, I’m going to let you read excerpts from the latest story that I’ve just read.

This story is courtesy of "" from Nov. 06, 2013. Special to the Chronicle by Houston based investigative journalist Clarence Walker, this is Part 8 in his continuing series of stories about prosecutorial misconduct and police corruption in the drug war.

In an unusual recent case, the US 4th Circuit Appeals Court overturned a conviction in a crack cocaine case despite the defendant having pled guilty. The case involving Baltimore drug dealer Cortez Leon Fisher was not overturned because the plea agreement was coerced or not voluntary- the usual standard- but because it was based on the lies of a corrupt police officer.

The case -- but not this tale -- began with an October 29, 2007 raid on Fisher's home executed by Baltimore police officer and DEA drug task force member Mark Lunsford. The search turned up crack cocaine and a loaded weapon. To avoid a decades-long stretch behind bars, Fisher copped a plea to one count of possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Federal District Court Judge Frederick Motz then sentenced Fisher to 10 years in federal prison.

Fisher subsequently appealed to overturn his plea agreement after Lunsford was indicted on theft and perjury charges involving his use of bogus informants to falsely arrest and rip off drug dealers. In July 2010, the crooked cop got 20 months in federal prison for his crimes.

Lunsford's arrest and conviction uncovered a pattern of fabricating evidence to enrich police officers and selected informants, who received payments in cases in which they had not provided information. Reward money was fraudulently awarded to undeserving informants, and the proceeds were split between Lunsford and the snitches.

But it gets worse. Lunsford also had a long history with Fisher and some of his family members whom he had previously arrested on drug charges, some of which had been dismissed. In this light, Lunsford's pursuit of Fisher takes on the appearance of a personal vendetta.

Unquestionably if the defendant had known of Lunsford's misconduct he would have filed a motion to suppress, and the motion may well have been successful," Motz wrote in denying the appeal. Nevertheless, "the defendant does not deny he was in possession of a firearm (as he admitted under oath during his Rule 11).Under these circumstances, I cannot find that a failure to allow defendant to withdraw his guilty plea would result in a 'miscarriage of justice.'"

Fisher appealed that decision to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. In his appeal, Fisher wrote that Lunsford "set me up and arrested me unlawfully." The informant in the case, Fisher said in the appeal, "never gave Lunsford information concerning drug activities at Fisher's home." Citing prior arrests of Fisher by Lunsford years ago, the appeal went on to say that after Lunsford arrested Fisher in 2007 in the current case, "the officer returned to my apartment later, stole a safe containing all my jewelry specifically numerous diamonds with blue and red design, including a diamond watch."
The 4th Circuit overturned the trial judge. The key question for the court was whether a police officer's misrepresentations of facts invalidated a guilty plea under the due process clause. The court noted that in order to invalidate a plea, the defendant must show that egregious impermissible conduct preceded the entry of the plea and that the misconduct influenced the defendant's decision to plead guilty.
While one member of the three-judge panel voted to dismiss Fisher's appeal, arguing that "natural reaction of extreme distaste to Lunsford's criminal act does not instantaneously transform Fisher's guilty plea into some form of due process violation that permits him now to withdraw his plea," his was a dissenting opinion.

Judges James Wynn and Henry Floyd disagreed. Lunsford's lies influenced Fisher to cop a plea and his perjury "undermined the entire proceedings, thus rendering the defendant's pleas involuntary, and violated his due process rights," they wrote. "A plea based on law enforcement fraud is invalid even if the person is guilty," the court held in its ruling in the case.

Cop v. Drug Dealer
Baltimore police officer Mark Lunsford despised drug dealer Cortez Fisher. Their adversarial history stretches years to when Lunsford rode patrol near Baltimore's notorious Murphy Homes Project, where Fisher and his brother called "Midget" sold drugs, according to court documents.
In a search warrant affidavit dated October 29, 2007, Lunsford wrote that he received reliable information from a snitch that Fisher was selling drugs out of his house. Then, based on that false report, Lunsford claimed he personally saw Fisher sell drugs from his car. It was all a lie.
Court records filed in Fisher's case include a redacted FBI document dated October 23, 2009, where Lunsford admits that he fabricated source information in Fisher's and numerous other narcotics cases that sent citizens to prison. Lunsford told FBI agent that, fully aware of Fisher's involvement in the drug trade, he had lied when he said the informant he had named in the affidavit was the source of his information about Fisher.
Fisher may well have had a career as a drug dealer, but as the 4th Circuit noted, "even the guilty can suffer a miscarriage of justice."
Cortez Fisher remains imprisoned as he awaits word on what prosecutors will do. In the worst case, he will stay there until 2017. Meanwhile, the crooked cop whose perjurious information led to Fisher's arrest and subsequent plea bargain is a free man, not on parole, and not in the clutches of the criminal justice system.
For the guy from the mean streets of Baltimore, there is nothing left to do except to start over -- again.
"They took everything I had," he explained.

As you can see, this copper had no qualms about doing whatever he wanted to do in order to arrest and convict Mr. Fisher. Most cops start their careers realizing that, if they want to arrest the people they know are guilty, they SIMPLY CAN’T ABIDE BY THE LAW. A police officer is taught that to stop someone, the officer must have probable cause. Probable cause is a very “pliable” law. Although it is found in the Fourth Amendment coppers have, for decades, shaded this concept to suit their needs of getting a stop and an arrest. An individual can be stopped for such “credible” things as; a traffic violation, an officer seeing an individual make a hand to hand exchange of drugs and money (NOT to be confused with one individual handing another money because they are lending it to them BUT our wonderful coppers use that as “probable cause” because even though there wasn’t the actual sight of drugs, they simply say there was!) or being seen running from a car that has just had it’s alarm set off. These are all legitimate reasons for stopping someone. Here comes the shady stuff. According to one of my sources, a BIG and favorite excuse for probable cause is someone acting in a suspicious manner. My source tells me that after some time in the field a cop realizes that he’d almost never make an arrest without shading these “probable cause” examples. As far as I’m concerned, the minute a “police officer” does this, he becomes a “scumbag copper”. If you take a few minutes and look at different people who are out and about, you can usually find someone who you can say might be considered “suspicious” or is acting in a “suspicious manner”. The conditions that need to be met for “probable cause” are very pliable! Suspiciousness, my source says, is every dirty copper’s favorite probable cause excuse. He goes on to say that after a while, the copper won’t even consider probable cause. Yes, he knows he’ll need to present it in court but he has plenty of time (weeks usually) to invent something! So, when he arrests someone who knows they haven’t done anything wrong, and they want to know what his probable cause is, the copper’s response is a smack in the face and a kick between the legs. You don’t get smart with a dirty copper! That’s right; asking the rational question, “What’s your reason for stopping me?” is getting smart to a dirty copper!

I'd like to take some time. now, to discuss the actions and decisions of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. Fisher's appeal was initially rejected by his original trial judge, Judge Motz. That's normal, 99% of judges won't admit they've made a mistake. He next appealed to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ended up overturning his conviction. Whatr I found disturbing, though, was the fact that the decision to overturn his conviction was NOT unanimous! Yes, he did win 2-1 and you take what you can get but it seems to ne that this appeal was a no-brainer. To have one judge say, "natural reaction of extreme distaste to Lunsford's (the copper) criminal act does not instantaneously transform Fisher's guilty plea into some form of due process violation that permits him now to withdraw his plea" just blows my mind. In layman's terms, the gist of all our civil rights rests on the fact that they are there, in the first place, to protect everyone from any form of misconduct whatsoever! For this judge to say that, however distasteful the copper's ILLEGAL act was, it really doesn't matter when all is said and done, is a disgrace! A complete and utter disgrace!  Thank God we don’t allow one judge to make these monumental decisions and make no mistake, they are monumental. In the future, this decision will be referenced by another lawyer who is fighting for the freedom of his client. The fact that this decision will affect all other similar cases, make it monumental. Judges Wynn and Floyd, the remaining two judges summed up the reversal this way, "A plea based on law enforcement fraud is invalid even if the person is guilty". I added the emphasis at the end of this quote because this is the most important part of the ruling, as far as I’m concerned. I realize that this particular doctrine is controversial. There are people out there who believe in things such as, “The ends justify the means”. Applying that phrase to this ruling means that because this man is guilty, it doesn’t matter that ILLEGAL “means” were used to convict him. That’s just not how our justice system is setup to work. The fact that the “Bill of Rights” were the first amendments to our Constitution automatically make a person’s “Civil Rights” the MOST important factor in our justice system, overriding anything else (new laws, etc.) that may be enacted. When a decision is to be made such as this one, everything else becomes subordinate to civil rights! Consequently, the fact that this man was guilty means nothing if his civil rights are violated.   

Americas aversion to “unreasonable searches and seizures” goes back prior to the Revolution. In fact, this grievance was one of the major causes of our decision to declare our independence. One of the major causes! We were tired of the King’s army busting into the homes of our citizens, whether they were members of “The Sons of Liberty” or just plain old “Joes”. “The Sons of Liberty” were America’s version of what we refer to nowadays as “terrorists”. This group formed as a result of the King’s institution of the “Stamp Act” as well as other oppressive acts. They were thought to have burned down the homes of the British civil servants who governed in America at the King’s pleasure. The British army never had “just cause” or even the slightest hint of propriety when they “came a callin’ and a bustin’ in”. These particular instances formed the basis of the “probable cause” and the “unreasonable searches and seizures” clause in the fourth amendment. As far as I’m concerned, and I’m sure a lot more Americans will agree, this amendment is the most important one. Knowing that I’m secure in my home and property are the basis for a safe and secure life. Knowing that as long as I’m doing what’s right, I can be assured that I’m safe in my home without someone busting in under the pretense of legality, is a must for a civilized citizenry. Yet, when coppers lie about informants in order to get search warrants that trust begins to erode. Soon enough, people stop trusting coppers, AS WELL AS POLICE OFFICERS (the good ones). When you read this story, you see that, not only did this copper lie to arrest Mr. Fisher; he lied in order to get into his home to steal his safe and other items of value.

One thought in closing. Remember, if you can, back to when two bank robbers, dressed in body armor, robbed a bank in Los Angeles. When they were leaving, the police showed up and the robbers, who were loaded “for bear”, decided it was time to shoot it out with the police. The bad guys shot policemen, civilians, even cars when they got in their way. I remember coming away from that news footage with two feelings. The first was a feeling of pride and appreciation that the police officers, who were paid to “serve and protect”, did just that. Those police officers protected the injured civilians as well as their own wounded officers. The other feeling that I came away with was this feeling, after trying to put myself in the shoes of those citizens, of utter hopelessness and despair! Imagine being one of those civies, who was laying there injured and helpless, and you know in your heart that the people who were hired to protect you were NOT ABLE TO PROTECT YOU because they too were injured and hurt! There’s this almost indescribable feeling of UTTER HOPELESSNESS when you realize that the world has suddenly been turned upside-down. No longer are you safe from that nut with an AK-47! Well, that’s the same kind of feeling that I get when I read these stories of dirty coppers. Let’s face it, when we KNOW we’ve done something wrong and we’re arrested, legitimately, there’s a certain acceptance of our fate. However, when we haven’t done anything wrong, and we’re wrongly arrested and/or convicted, that’s basically the same feeling of hopelessness and despair that we get when we realize that there is nothing in place anymore to protect us from these illegal arrests. Now, I know that Mr. Fisher was actually caught with the drugs and the gun. I also know that there are people out there who believe that those facts right there justify whatever acts, however illegal, are used to arrest and convict Mr. Fisher. In America folks, that’s just not the way it’s supposed to be and that’s as old as the constitution and as solid as our country! Unfortunately, there are coppers out there who have found ways around that constitution and we need to shed the light of day on the “scumbags” or it’s just gonna get worse and that feeling of hopelessness and despair will pervade every mile of this beautiful country and that just can’t happen. Like the article says, ‘Fisher may well have had a career as a drug dealer, but as the 4th Circuit noted, "even the guilty can suffer a miscarriage of justice." ‘. As far as I’m concerned, if there’s only justice for the innocent and NO JUSTICE for the guilty, we have no right calling ourselves a civilized society!

And that's, "As I understand it now... 'til it changes".
Thanks for reading,
Michael K. Stichauf.