aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
AP on Julie Amero
Until recently, Julie Amero lived the quiet life of a small-town substitute teacher in eastern Connecticut. She can’t believe that the events of one awful day at work could send her to prison for 40 years.
“I’m scared,” said Amero, a 40-year-old Windham resident with no prior criminal record. “I’m just beside myself for something I didn’t do.”
Amero was convicted in January of exposing students to pornography on her classroom computer.
While prosecutors insist she is guilty, some experts believe that the lewd images were caused by unseen spyware and adware programs, which critics call one of the top scourges of the Internet.
The AP telling rubs me wrong. The headline gets it right, “Tech Experts Question Schoolteacher’s Computer-Porn Conviction.” But the story is couched in objectivity that reads like willful ignorance, bias and manufactured balance to me. I’ve yet to read a tech expert who agrees with the prosecution’s contention that they have proof Amero typed in a porn url and clicked on porn links (this guy comes closest). That the operating system wasn’t patched, there was no firewall and no virus protection, and the people she went to for help did nothing is undisputed.
Amero is likely to get off eventually, but she’s paid a hefty price. In the meantime we have an example of what happens when overaggressive law enforcement is combined with limited computer forensics expertise: Technophobia and sex panic combined in a toxic mixture that finds innocent people guilty. My only hope for something good to come of this is that we may find a Barry Sheck and Peter Neufeld of the computer forensics world. We need computer forensics experts who believe in the presumption of innocence rather than only those who look for - and assume - guilt. This is hardly the first story of its kind and, unfortunately, it’s not likely be the last.
LATER - A plea appended to all of my Amero posts:
WE NEED A COMPUTER FORENSICS INNOCENCE PROJECT; a Barry Sheck and Peter Neufeld of the computer forensics world. We need experts who believe in the presumption of innocence and are willing to spend the time it takes to dig through logs, registry entries and hard drives to find exculpatory material when present. This is hardly the first case of its kind and, unfortunately, it’s not likely be the last. Prosecutors who look for - and presume - guilt do selective searches for data supporting guilt; those accused rarely have the resources to pay computer forensics experts to counter that selective evidence.
Rex Reed on Andy and Edie
Rex Reed reviews “the thin, superficial docudrama” Factory Girl this week in the NY Observer:
[T]he more I see of Edie Sedgwick, the less of a story I think there is to tell. The real saga is about Andy Warhol, and it’s a mystery why nobody has ever bothered to tell it properly and accurately. He was an early postmodern pioneer-and illustrious purveyor-of pretentious porn, but his brain was an empty bedroom. “Sex is so abstract” was his favorite personal talisman to live by. You wouldn’t call him effeminate; he was too zombified for that, looking like his veins throbbed with formaldehyde. He was a voyeur of life, not a participant in it. And Guy Pearce gets it totally, eerily right. You would not believe that this is the same actor who played the rugged cop in L.A. Confidential. With his white albino wig, blemished skin and protective sunglasses, speaking in a dead, moaning voice pitched so low it can only be heard by a garden slug, he is the real Andy Warhol-an anemic leg-puller of the art world, a cold, antiseptic user who exploited and discarded pitiful underdogs of both sexes, and a celebrated vampire celebrity of the eternal New York night, forever looking like he lived on nothing but raw oysters and embalming fluid.
Rex remembers the real Edie - “the Edie Sedgwick I remember hanging around the Warhol Factory was funny, pretty, vulnerable, smart, easily exploited and desperately lost” - and he’s not seeing her in this movie:
Clumsily directed by an amateur named George Hickenlooper, Microsoft Word-ed with five-and-dime psychology by three hack writers of no importance, and edited with a Cuisinart, I doubt if it would have been considered slick or glam-sham enough to hold even Warhol’s interest in the days when he stuck the label of high art on everything that popped out of a Polaroid.
Pay for pictures, not for interviews???
I can’t find anything more on this, but NBC just reported on the Today Show that Anna Nicole’s mother, Vergie Arthur, “was paid $50,000 for pictures when she told her side of the story to ABC News… ABC says it does not pay for interviews.”
Need I point out that what we have here is a distinction without a difference?
It’s smarmy! And they should be called on it. I won’t hold my breath.
NBC’s just as smarmy. They own Access Hollywood and the whole Today Show piece was basically a promotional rehash of an “Access Hollywood exclusive.” No wonder women are abandoning the morning shows in droves.
After quoting Mike at Crime and Federalism - “[Plea bargaining] has turned our system into...a risk-management system. It has turned lawyers into actuaries.” - Windy Pundit offers up some Radical Ideas for Criminal Justice Reform:
Reverse Truth-In-Sentencing - if you don’t serve felony time-a full year-it doesn’t count as a felony.
Performance Pay for Indigent Defense - pay indigent defense lawyers for their performance.
Punishment in Lieu of Exclusion - If a judge rules that a piece of evidence was obtained illegally, allow the prosecutor to immediately indict the responsible police officers for “improper evidence obtainment,” a newly-created crime with a mandatory minimum sentence of, say, 60 days in jail. If the officers are convicted and sentenced before the main criminal case goes to trial-easily done if the prosecutor and the officer have agreed ahead of time that the officer will plead guilty immediately-the illegally obtained evidence is allowed back in.
Limited Incarceration Without Trial - This would allow the worst of the worst to be imprisoned even if the cases against them have technical flaws.
No Miranda Warning - These warnings are deceptive. If you wait until you receive your Miranda warnings to exercise your right to remain silent, you’ve probably already said too much.
Read the whole post and comments. Mark is a software developer, not a lawyer. I’m betting his goal of setting the right incentives for the legal players would warm the heart of Freakonomics’ authors Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt.
Via a Public Defender, adding his own not-so-radical proposal that “all interrogations should be videotaped.”