More details on the escape last week of Ronald Tackman, the inmate who was able to walk out of jail because he was wearing a suit for trial and was mistaken for a lawyer. After someone left a holding-area door unlocked, Tackman walked out and into an empty courtroom, where he was challenged by a court officer.
"Counselor, what are you doing here?" the officer said. "Which way is out?" Tackman responded. The officer - or, as this report described him, "the hapless guard" - then helpfully showed Tackman the way to the lobby.
Tackman has not been seen since, except briefly by his mom.
Ordinarily - despite what so many of you are probably thinking right now - it is not that difficult to distinguish between lawyers and criminal suspects. Really. But I guess what we learn from this story is that it's mostly because of the suit.
Sources in New York report that (as of Thursday afternoon) authorities are still searching for Ronald Tackman, a 56-year-old man with a long criminal record who escaped from a prisoner holding area in Manhattan Supreme Court (not too far from City Hall and Wall Street) on Wednesday. Tackman was facing trial on second-degree robbery charges when he made his escape, which he accomplished by means of the daring tactic of walking out the door. He was able to do this because someone had left a prisoner holding area unlocked.
Also crucial to Tackman's escape: the suit he had worn for trial.
According to the report, in order to get out of the courthouse Tackman at one point had to pass through a courtroom. As he walked through the room (the report used the word "strolled," so maybe he did that), a court officer noticed him, but apparently mistook him for a lawyer, calling him "counselor." Whether Tackman responded is unclear, but the officer didn't stop him. He then walked out the north entrance, went home, said hi to his mom, changed clothes, and disappeared.
Tackman has served at least three stretches in prison and has made two prior escape attempts. His first one, which involved a fake gun made out of soap, was unsuccessful. The next time he used a pellet gun, and managed to escape (temporarily) from a prison van. This escape, in which he brandished only a three-piece suit, may be his most successful to date. But then he is only the most recent example of somebody using a suit to get away with robbery in that part of town.
Maybe the authorities are just trying to find him so they can get him his hundred-million-dollar bonus.
The conviction of Jose Padilla is more bad news for Michael Vick, already facing charges connected with his participation in a dogfighting operation. This means he needs to be worried about the lawsuit filed in July by Jonathan Lee Riches, which alleges that Vick is involved not only with dogfighting but also with al-Qaeda.
I'm a little late to this story, which was reported in July (not long after it was filed) by the law blog "Above the Law," but it seems to have stayed under the radar until FOX News learned about it recently. Still, it's worth commenting on further.
Riches is currently a guest of FCI (Federal Correctional Institution) Williamsburg, in South Carolina, something I confirmed with the Bureau of Prisons' handy Federal Inmate Locator tool. (You'll want to bookmark that one.) He alleges a laundry list of torts and civil rights violations, as well as the terrorism allegations that have shocked and/or amused the world.
First, Riches alleges that Vick stole two of his pit bulls to use them in dogfighting. Vick craftily damaged the RFID chips that Riches says he installed in the dog collars, in order to keep Riches from tracking them (from prison). Vick used the dogs for fighting on three days in April, and on April 28, their usefulness evidently at an end, Vick "sold [the] dogs on eBay . . . and used the proceeds to purchase missiles from the Iran Government."
Second, he accuses Vick of identity theft. Vick, apparently desperate to scrape together some money for dog food although in the midst of a 10-year, $130 million contract, stole Riches' identity "from [his] coat" and used it to open accounts at PetSmart and Doggie Warehouse.
Third, Vick "violated my copyright laws" by using Riches' copyrighted name (Riches uses the copyright symbol after his name throughout the complaint) on his football uniform as well as his casual clothing. Again showing great cunning, Vick chose to steal the name of a federal inmate "to sell T-shirts, Jonathan Lee Riches mugs, [and] Mr. Riches Hats" rather than trying to profit from his own celebrity.
Finally, the allegations became more shocking in Count Four. "On Feb. 10th, 2007," Riches alleges, Vick "plead alliengence to Al-qaeda." He also subjected Riches to "microwave testing," sold illegal steroids, and, most damningly, "used drugs in school zones."
Riches decided to shoot for the moon in terms of relief. He would like a TRO to stop Vick from using his copyrighted name, from stealing his dogs, and most importantly, "to stop physically hurting my feelings and dashing my hopes." (Hey, this isn't Barry Bonds we're talking about here. Take it easy.) Riches would also like "63,000,000,000.00 billion dollars," collected from Vick and "backed by gold and silver," delivered by UPS to the front gates of FCI Williamsburg.
Opinion has varied as to whether Riches is demanding 63 billion dollars or 63 billion billion dollars, but I think it has to be the former. 63 billion billion could more easily have been written as "63 quintillion" or 6.3x1019. This is a very large number. For comparison, there are less than a trillion stars in the entire galaxy, less than a quadrillion cells in the human body, and only (!) about one quintillion insects on the Earth. (Somehow it seems less huge when you learn that there are 9 quintillion (263) different ways to fill out your NCAA tournament bracket, but still.) Even at Vick's salary, if I've done this math right, he would have to play ball for hundreds of billions of years to pay a judgment based on the larger number.
So that can't be what Riches is claiming. That would just be stupid.
Like most inmates who do this kind of thing, Jonathan Lee Riches has sued before. And at least some of his prior work is significantly funnier than Riches v. Vick. Exhibit A in that regard is Riches v. Bush et al., a 2006 case filed in the Eastern District of Philadelphia. In that case, the comedy consists mostly of the defendants Riches joined. The link above goes to a 57-page docket entry showing that Riches named everyone from the President of the United States down to Tony Danza (or, up to Tony Danza, depending on your point of view). Also named: Donald Trump, Mike Tyson, Shawn Combs (d/b/a Puff Daddy, d/b/a P. Diddy), Christina Applegate, Pope Benedict XVI, Lambeau Field, the Panama Canal Commission, and "various Buddhist monks."
Given the situation in U.S. prisons today (especially in California), maybe we should take a lesson from the Filipinos. The 1500 inmates at this prison seem happy, well-behaved, and relatively coordinated.
Note: for those of you who had hoped to make it through life without seeing a male prison inmate dressed up as Michael Jackson's date in the music video, I apologize, but stick it out until about 1:06. You'll be glad you did.
I'm off to San Quentin to suggest that the Aryan and Latino gangs reenact "Bad."
A man in Liverpool, England, who was arrested after police responded to a report of a domestic dispute appeared before a judge with bruises on his face, and told the judge that the police had beaten him up. Unfortunately for that claim, the holding cell he had been placed in after his arrest was monitored by a video camera. According to the report, "It was there that he was captured on camera punching his own face."
Please join me now in asking the Lord to cause this video to be posted upon YouTube.
The man's attorney told reporters that his client's "behavior was foolish and he spent 12 hours in custody to reflect on his foolish behavior." The judge fined him about 150 pounds and ordered him to "keep the peace" with his girlfriend for at least the next six months. Presumably his fist and face will be trying to work things out during that time as well.
According to Jeff Meyer, the attorney for Lincoln County, Nebraska, fights among inmates are pretty common even in the small and charming jails that dot our nation's heartland. (He didn't say the bit about the jails of the heartland.) Usually, he says, they are "about someone hogging the newspaper or someone not happy about what's on TV," but it does not seem to be particularly common for assaults to be caused by flatulence.
Brian Bruggeman now faces a January 11 preliminary hearing after an incident involving a fight between Bruggeman and his cellmate, Jesse Dorris. According to the report, Dorris became "fed up with Bruggeman's flatulence" after an instance of said flatulence occurred "in close proximity to Dorris." The two began scuffling and Bruggeman injured Dorris by pushing him into the cell bars. Interestingly, Dorris was not charged although he arguably started the physical portion of the fight. Bruggeman's initial act is evidently the basis for charges against him, specifically "assault by a confined person," which is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Anybody know what the federal sentencing guidelines prescribe for this kind of assault? Just curious.
Sheriff Jerome Kramer said the incident was due in part to overcrowding. The Lincoln County Jail, built in 1933, is designed to hold 23 inmates but has recently held as many as 65. When Bruggeman-style assaults occur, said the sheriff, inmates "just can't get a reprieve from one another."
The BBC reports this week that an inmate in England is suing the country's Prison Service for negligence after he fell off the top bunk in his cell, sustaining a "bad gash to the head." This may or may not have been inspired by the case I reported on last week of the US college student who filed a similar lawsuit. Normally, you'd expect people to be "inspired" by cases that are successful, but maybe this guy has a new theory.
The inmate, who was said to be at a jail in Oxfordshire at Bullingdon near Bicester, which really narrows it down for me, described his lawsuit in a letter to Inside Time, a "prisoners' magazine" that someone at the BBC apparently subscribes to. According to the letter, like the US college student, the inmate had fallen after rolling over in his sleep, and said that the bunk bed was to blame. The top bunks were "an accident waiting to happen," he said, and suggested that everybody should be sleeping at ground level.
The Prison Service responded that it was "trying to meet the needs of prisoners who felt unsafe sleeping on the top bunk," which is probably unlikely, and that "prisoners who sleep in bunk beds have been advised for some time on how to use them safely and are encouraged to report any concerns to prison staff," which is probably untrue.
All right, you scum, welcome to your first day at Bullington near Bicester in Oxfordshire. Follow the rules and you won't get in any trouble. No fighting, no stabbing, no raping, or I'll break your bloody skulls. Also, please take time to review the pamphlet that you were given about how to use your bunk beds and please do report any concerns or fears you may have about your bunk by filling out one of these cards for our suggestion box. Thank you so very much.
The Prison Service spokesman said that it had denied liability and that accommodating prisoners who wanted to sleep at ground level would not always be possible.
Saddam Hussein's trial continued on Tuesday, sort of. Some witnesses have given testimony about the former regime's criminal practices, but mostly Saddam yells at people.
On Tuesday, he spent some time yelling at the judge, as he often does. This is not a great strategy in America, but Saddam seems to be making some headway with it. Tuesday's exchange also included some insight into Saddam's definition of "terrorism."
Saddam: "Are you deliberately hauling defendants before the trial when they are exhausted?"
Amin: "No, this is not deliberate. We have a number of plaintiffs who are already present, so tomorrow we will finish with a number of them and then the court will adjourn."
Saddam: "This is your business, but I want to clarify to you that" [sound is cut for several seconds, then resumes]. "We have spent . . . days in this shirt. There is no underwear, no chance to take a shower and no chance to smoke a cigarette if some do smoke, no chance for one to walk a couple of steps outside the small room. This is terrorism."
Saddam, get with the program. These days we could hook your nads up to a car battery and it wouldn't even be "torture," according to some people, let alone "terrorism." So I'm fairly certain that not letting you wear underwear probably does not qualify.
Heather is 28 years old, with light brown hair and pretty blue-gray eyes. She is 5'4" and weighs 125 pounds. She likes motorcycles, fast cars, and crystal meth.
Tasha is a Virgo. She's warm-hearted, passionate, and sincere. She did make one "bad choice" as a teen, but hopes you will be able to see past that one premeditated murder and love her for who she really is.
These are two of the women who were sued this week by Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon. Nixon sued Tasha and 32 other prisoners, seeking to recover almost $300,000 that they have apparently received from "pen pals" they met through personal ads posted on websites. For those of you who may be interested in corresponding, two of the listed sites are writeaprisoner.com and pamperedprisoner.com. (Who hasn't asked themselves, "I want to write a prisoner, but I just don't know where to find the address of a convicted pen pal who's right for me"? Well, that problem has now been solved.)
The AG points out that it has cost the state about $2.7 million so far to keep the women incarcerated, and a state law allows the government to take prisoner assets to help pay for those costs. "Missouri prisons are intended as institutions to punish criminals and protect society," Nixon said, "not as places of business at taxpayers' expense." A local defense attorney, on the other hand, said that the ads were legal and doing no harm. He argued that the state should be "encouraging contact with the outside world and [allowing the women to] work toward having people to support [them] when [they] get out," rather than taking their money. The article did not say whether this attorney was representing any of the women involved, and given the number of brackets I had to use to make that sentence even close to grammatical, maybe he should not be.
Heather writes, "Hello gentlemen," which is already unlikely, and says she is "in search of a man who can rescue this captive angel. If you want to get to know me," she continues, "I'm just a letter away and looking forward to hearing from you [and sampling your meth]."
Officials said the web sites also carry ads by male inmates, but that they don't make any money.