Archives for category: drugs

This 2010 opinion is the denial of habeas petition for a convicted murderer in a drug-related offense.

KEVIN POTTER, Petitioner,
v.
WILLIE SMITH, Respondent.

CASE NO. 2:09-CV-12049

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN,
SOUTHERN DIVISION

2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103088

Decided August 4, 2010, by U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul J. Komives

Petitioner Kevin Potter is a state prisoner, currently confined at the Ionia Maximum Correctional Facility in Ionia, Michigan. On November 11, 2003, petitioner was convicted of conspiracy to commit first degree murder, Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.157a, 750.316, following a jury trial in the Wayne County Circuit Court. On December 9, 2003, he was sentenced to a mandatory term of life imprisonment without parole. Petitioner appealed as of right…

The court quotes the trial evidence from the respondent’s answer (so this is the government version of the facts). Three witnesses refer to a man dressed in black and it seems a neighbor witness Beverly Moore used the description “ninja”:

Scott Klass, an electrician, testified that he heard gunshots on the morning of September 19, 2002 and that he saw a man dressed all in black with a rifle and that he saw a van then come down the street, and the van was similar in style to the picture shown to him by the prosecutor. (TT 11/4/03, pp 61-63). Beverly Moore, who lives across the street from the victim’s family, testified that on the morning in question she saw a van parked in front of the Wright house and she wondered why it was blocking their driveway. (TT 11/5/03, pp 8-9). Ms. Moore heard noises but assumed it was firecrackers, but when she went outside she saw a “ninja” all in black with a gun in his hand. (TT 11/5/03, p 13). Another neighbor, Katherine McFarland, also testified about hearing shots and seeing a man all in black with a big, AK 47 type gun in his hands. (TT 11/5/03, pp 39-40).

The facts of this case also involve cocaine, marijuana, an AK-47, and “fire melted” skin. It seems Potter was dressed in black when he killed Mario Allen, on the steps of Mario’s home as Mario left to appear at his sentencing hearing for a drug related crime (a cocaine sale). It seems Mario’s two co-defendents in the drug sale hired Potter to kill Mario so that Mario wouldn’t show up at the sentencing. Then the co-defendants withdrew guilty pleas and prepared to face trial without Mario’s testimony.

In this instant case, Potter is petitioning the federal government for habeas relief but Magistrate Judge Komives finds no violations of federal law, concluding:

In view of the foregoing, the Court should conclude that the state courts’ resolution of petitioner’s claims did not result in a decision which was contrary to, or which involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law. Accordingly, the Court should deny petitioner’s application for the writ of habeas corpus.

This Magistrate report was adopted by order of District Judge Gerald E. Rosen on September 29, 2010

This is a case of a police raid. Summary judgment is granted on some counts but other counts survive. The police SWAT team is described as ninja-clad and using flash bombs.

FELICIA MARTINEZ, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
TRACEY McCORD, et al., Defendants.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA, SOUTHERN DIVISION
Case No. 1:06-cv-636-WKW [wo]
2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37881

Opinion by: US District Court Judge W. Keith Watkins, decided May 8, 2008:

This case arises out of searches of two mobile homes for methamphetamine, currency, and drug paraphernalia under a Houston County, Alabama search warrant dated January 17, 2006. (Doc. # 84-3.) One of the mobile homes was occupied by Plaintiffs Felicia Martinez (“Martinez”) and her two minor children.

Juvenal is the estranged husband of Martinez.

Methamphetamine, currency, drug paraphernalia, and a handgun were seized at 81 Pitts Drive, and Juvenal Martinez was arrested.

But at the other address:

Martinez and her minor children, ages five and seven, were watching television at 7:00 p.m. when the Daleville Police Tactical Team, also known as the Special Weapons and Tactics (“SWAT”) Team, made an explosive entry into her home, located at 43 Pitts Drive, and secured the premises for the drug task force to conduct the search. (Martinez Decl. P 1; McCord Decl. at 3.) During the initial entry to the home, a “flash-bomb” or other explosive device was thrown through the window, exploding in front of one of the children watching television. (Martinez Decl. P 2.) Officers with masks, assault garb, and drawn weapons entered the mobile home by breaking down a door. (Id. P 4.) Weapons were pointed at Martinez and her minor children, and they were required to lie on the floor face-down and were not permitted to move. (Id. P 5.) Other officers, also unidentified, made a coordinated and simultaneous entry into the other mobile home located nearby [footnotes omitted]

The case here is particularly about the liability for Officers’ McCord [the commander of the Houston County narcotics unit] and Williamson;

At the time of entry into Martinez’s home, McCord was on duty watching the perimeter of the entry at 81 Pitts Drive. (Id.) At that same time, Williamson was waiting in a vehicle down the road. (Williamson Aff. P 9.) After the premises of the mobile homes were secured, Williamson entered the plaintiffs’ residence and searched the kitchen, bedroom, and the laundry room for items pursuant to the warrant, (Williamson Aff. PP 10-12), and McCord entered the residence at 81 Pitts Drive where he spent over two hours searching for evidence and interviewing the individuals found inside. (McCord Decl. at 4-5.) Methamphetamine, currency, drug paraphernalia, and a handgun were seized at 81 Pitts Drive, and Juvenal Martinez was arrested.

McCord then walked the short distance to 43 Pitts Drive. (McCord Decl. at 5.) Although McCord describes his entry of the plaintiffs’ home as merely a “quick walk through” that lasted five to ten minutes, (McCord Decl. at 5), Martinez alleges that McCord and other officers involved in the search “look[ed] in every drawer in every room of her house,” “tore the front off [her] VCR,” and “caused damage to [her] car during the search.” (Martinez Decl. P 7.) Martinez also claims McCord told her that she was going to jail. (Id. P 18.) The actions of McCord and other officers “extremely distressed” Martinez and caused her to worry “that there was something in the explosive device that caused [her children] to sleep.” (Id.)

On July 18, 2006, the plaintiffs filed this action against multiple defendants, some of whom have already been dismissed as parties. In their most recent complaint, the plaintiffs allege eleven counts against McCord and Williamson for unlawful entry, unlawful search and seizure, excessive force under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, conspiracy to violate her civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1985, failure to prevent the violation of her civil rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1986, and six state tort claims. [footnotes omitted]

The Court decides,

due to the lack of discovery, Rule 56(f) prevents the court from reaching a judgment on the motion for summary judgment at this time with respect to Williamson for three of the tort claims.

But,

Despite Rule 56(f), there are two tort claims against Williamson that fail as a matter of law, and further discovery on these claims would be pointless. Count Seven alleges the tort of assault and battery. (Third Am. Compl. PP 95-98.) The complaint states that “the defendants touched Ms. Martinez in rudeness, in anger, or in a hostile manner, by touching her person and pointing a firearm at her head.” (Id. P 95.) Despite lumping all defendants into this claim, earlier in the complaint the plaintiffs admit that Williamson was not part of the initial, violent entry of their home during which time the alleged assault occurred and firearms were drawn. (Id. PP 20-21.) The complaint states that “[f]ollowing the assault on Plaintiffs’ (sic) and their home, the Ninja-clad officers left, to be replaced by . . . Williamson and other, presently unknown, officers.” (Id.) It is clear the assault and battery claim is directed at the officers who initially entered the plaintiffs’ home and not the officers who subsequently searched the home. Because the plaintiffs acknowledge Williamson was not one of the initial officers, and they do not allege that he ever touched the plaintiffs, the assault and battery claim against him fails.

Count Nine asserts a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress (i.e., outrage) against Williamson. However, in Alabama, the tort of outrage is only recognized in three areas: “(1) wrongful conduct within the context of family burials; (2) an insurance agent’s coercing an insured into settling an insurance claim; and (3) egregious sexual harassment.” Stabler v. City of Mobile, 844 So. 2d 555, 560 (Ala. 2002). None of these situations is remotely applicable to the situation at hand, and thus the plaintiffs have not alleged a viable claim of outrage. Therefore, Williamson’s summary judgment motion is due to be granted as to both Count Seven (assault and battery) and Count Nine (outrage).

Those dismisses, other claims survived, including alleged “violations of various constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983: unlawful entry in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, unlawful search and seizure in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, and excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment.” To be decided another day (presumably by settlement negotiations).

This 60th NinjaLaw case is the story of Robert Clifton Dameron.

robert clifton dameron

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
ROBERT CLIFTON DAMERON, Defendant.

CASE NO. 5:06CR00047
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA, HARRISONBURG DIVISION

2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6610; January 30, 2007, Decided

On January 24, 2007, Dameron plead guilty to “unlawfully, knowingly and intentionally distributing or possessing with intent to distribute, or aiding and abetting in the distribution or possession with intent to distribute, 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, a Schedule II narcotic controlled substance, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A) and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2.

The recommendation of Magistrate Judge B. Waugh Crigler, January 30, 2007, was that “the court accept the defendant’s plea of guilty to Count One and adjudge him guilty of that offense”. And “sentencing hearing hereby [was] scheduled for May 24, 2007 at 9:30 a.m. before the presiding District Judge in Harrisonburg.”

The defendant was informed that the maximum statutory penalty provided by law for the offense with which he is charged, in the case of Count One, is life imprisonment, a fine of $ 4,000,000, and a period of supervised release. The defendant was further informed that Count One has a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years imprisonment.

The sentence was 120 months (10 years, see this later habeas petition) but his obituary states “Robert Clifton Dameron, 37, of Afton, passed away on Saturday, January 28, 2012.” The obit doesn’t say how he died. It does note “He was preceded in death by his stepfather, Jerry Dameron.” Jerry’s obit from Spetember 15, 2011 states he died, age 61, at a hospital but again no cause of death is stated. This death is particularly relevant because the defendant’s ninja motorcycle was purchased by and registered to the stepfather.

THE GOVERNMENT’S EVIDENCE

The defendant waived his right to have the government’s Factual Summary read in open court and had no objection to the Summary. The Factual Summary having been filed in open court, the evidence presented therein regarding the offense charged is as follows:

On October 26, 2005, a Waynesboro police officer observed a black Ninja motorcycle speeding (55 mph in 35 mph zone). The officer pursued motorcycle with emergency lights flashing. The motorcycle accelerated and attempted to flee. A pursuit ensued. The motorcycle became boxed in by another car at an intersection. The officer ordered the driver (Dameron) off the bike at gun point. The defendant’s drivers licence [sic] was suspended and he was an habitual offender. The defendant said the motorcycle was registered to his father. The police officer notified the defendant that he was under arrest for eluding, reckless driving and being a habitual offender. As the officer examined the motorcycle, he noticed a pouch attached to the gas tank. Visible through a clear plastic window was registration and insurance information. The officer unzipped the pouch to get the information, and saw a drug smoking device containing residue. A further search of pouch revealed 526.64 grams of a substance containing methamphetamine, digital scales, packing material, 29.27 grams of cocaine and 28.8 grams of marijuana. The Officer also recovered $ 2,561.00 on the defendant’s person. The defendant’s stepfather testified before the grand jury that he purchased the motorcycle for the defendant, but kept the motorcycle registered in his (the step-father’s) name, at the defendant’s request. Stephanie Dumont, who lived with the defendant, testified before the Grand Jury that no one, other than the defendant, drove the motorcycle. The defendant’s brother, Scotty Dameron, testified before the Grand Jury that the defendant was the only person to use the motorcycle, except on one occasion. Two additional witnesses testified before the Grand Jury that they had purchased methamphetamine from the defendant in the past year. The methamphetamine was sent to the DEA lab and tested positive for methamphetamine, weighing 526.64 grams.

The defendant was subsequently arrested on May 21, 2006. A Nelson County Sheriff observed the defendant operating his motorcycle (the same motorcycle as on October 26, 2005) in a reckless manner, with the front tire coming off the pavement. The Officer pursued the defendant with his lights flashing. The defendant disappeared into a side street. Dispatch advised the officer that a citizen (a retired State trooper) had called in and said the motorcycle and driver were hiding behind a house near the street. The officer went to the house and found the defendant standing next to the motorcycle. The officer patted the defendant down and asked if there was anything in his pants that would stick or cut him. The defendant said no. The officer then located a hypodermic needle in the defendant’s pocket. Officers also recovered a black pouch strapped to the motorcycle. Inside, the pouch, officers recovered several hypodermic needles and a few grams of a detectable amount of methamphetamine. On the way to jail, the defendant slipped out of his handcuffs, and tried to get out of the patrol car. He was unsuccessful.

FINDINGS OF FACT

Based on the evidence presented at the plea hearing, the undersigned now submits the following formal findings of fact, conclusions and recommendations:

1. The defendant is fully competent and capable of entering an informed plea;

2. The defendant is aware of the nature of the charges and the consequences of his plea;

3. The defendant knowingly and voluntarily entered a plea of guilty to Count One of the Indictment; and

4. The evidence presents an independent basis in fact containing each of the essential elements of the offense to which the defendant is pleading guilty.

He was then sentenced to 120 months and habeas petition denied February 18, 2010. And now he’s dead; just five years after the guilty plea and 10 year sentence. I really wonder how he died, and was he still in federal prison?

This defendant’s name is Ninja Palms. She admitted her part in a conspiracy to manufacture and distribute crack cocaine and plead guilty but then balked at sentencing and claimed she didn’t understand the plea. Here, the Court denies her petition for habeas relief.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
NINJA PALMS, Defendant.

No. 05 c 374
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS, EASTERN DIVISION
2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88657

Opinion by Judge Wayne R. Andersen, decided November 29, 2006

This case is before the court on Ninja Palms‘ (“Palms”) petition for writ of habeas corpus. Palms is asking the court to vacate, set aside, or correct her sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. For the following reasons, the petition is denied. Id.
BACKGROUND

Beginning in 1994 and continuing until March 2002, Palms contributed in a drug conspiracy to manufacture and distribute crack cocaine. As part of the conspiracy, co-defendants, Troy Lawrence (“Lawrence”) and Cameron Wilson (“Wilson”), delivered kilograms of powder cocaine to Palms’ apartment. Lawrence cooked the powder cocaine into crack cocaine and broke it into small pieces. Palms, Lawrence, Wilson, Levert Griffin, and Montel Goings would then place the small pieces of crack cocaine into individual bags, seal them, and then store them in Palms’ apartment until they were sold. Palms admitted in her plea agreement that she delivered crack cocaine packages to the “shift runners” at a drug spot which was within 1,000 feet of the Gavin Elementary School in Chicago Heights, Illinois. Palms also admitted in her plea agreement that she occasionally accompanied Lawrence during the purchases of the cocaine purchases, and, in exchange for Palms’ help, Lawrence promised to pay her rent plus a weekly salary. However, Palms states she sometimes did not receive the weekly salary.

On July 16, 2002, Palms was charged with: (1) conspiring to posses with intent to distribute; and (2) distributing powder and crack cocaine within 1,000 feet of an elementary school, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b) and 21 U.S.C. § 860(a). Represented by court-appointed counsel and pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 846 and 18 U.S.C. § 2, on November 26, 2002 Palms pled guilty to Count I of the indictment.

Then

On July 8, 2004, Palms was sentenced to 112 months imprisonment. On January 20, 2005, Palms filed the instant petition to vacate, set aside, or correct her sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. As support for her petition, Palms raises the constitutional arguments of ineffective assistance of trial counsel and that she involuntarily pled guilty and now asks this court to examine both claims.

But

Palms affirmed her understanding of this portion of the plea agreement at the plea hearing. (11/26/02 Plea Hearing at 11.) She offers no support in her petition to show that her attorney improperly advised her regarding her right to collaterally attack her sentence. In fact, Palms’ affirmative response at the plea hearing supports the conclusion that she knowingly waived her right to collaterally attack her sentence.

The claims of ineffective assistant do not satisfy analysis under first prong of Strickland.

Ninja Palms’ petition for writ of habeas corpus to vacate, set aside, or correct her sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is denied.

This case involved multiple search warrants executed simultaneously, particularly a no-knock entry with alleged excessive force. This is another case of law enforcement being described as ninja because of their SWAT clothing.

DUANE TOLLIVER, et al., PLAINTIFFS
vs.
BAXTER COUNTY, ARKANSAS, et al., DEFENDANTS

CASE NO. 05-3036
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS, HARRISON DIVISION
2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52976

Filed July 18, 2006, Opinion by US District Judge Jimm Larry Hendren,

Plaintiffs allege that defendants violated their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights in various ways in connection with the execution of a search warrant on the business and residence of plaintiffs Duane and Donna Tolliver.

Continuing,

Plaintiff Archer was sitting at a desk in the garage of Alternators Plus when the warrant was executed. According to Archer, a law enforcement officer dressed in a “ninja suit” entered the business, pointed a gun at him and screamed for him to get on the floor. Archer later identified this officer as Deputy Grayham. According to Archer, four or five officers pulled him to the floor and one of the officers handcuffed him. After about 15 or 20 minutes, officers set Archer up in a chair but his handcuffs were not removed until approximately 15 to 30 minutes later.

And,

Officers found no contraband at the Tollivers’ business or residence and no charges were filed against any of the named plaintiffs, with the exception of Mungle.

Also,

Four other search warrants were executed simultaneously with the one at issue. Mike Tolliver, Plaintiff Duane Tolliver’s brother, was arrested, charged, and ultimately convicted of methamphetamine manufacturing as a result of items seized during the execution of these warrants.

The Court found that the no-knock entry and uses of forces were not excessive under the circumstances. Therefore,

plaintiffs’ claims should be DISMISSED, with prejudice, in their entirety and the Court will so order

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA -against- STEVEN CAMACHO and JAIME RODRIGUEZ, Defendants.
S12 94 Cr. 313 (CSH)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
163 F. Supp. 2d 287

Decided – October 1, 2001

The opinion of the court is written by Charles S. Haight, Jr.:

Camacho and Rodriguez were indicted on racketeering charges on May 25, 1994, along with multiple other defendants as part of the federal prosecution of members of the C&C gang, which operated in the Bronx. Early in the case, the government agreed to try Camacho and Rodriguez separately from the others, and accordingly they were severed from the primary case. After securing guilty pleas from numerous defendants and agreeing to additional severances, the government initially proceeded to trial against Angel Padilla, one of the founders of the C & C gang, and Ivan Rodriguez, the man accused of killing the other founder, Juan Calderon. Both Padilla and Ivan Rodriguez were convicted in May of 1995.

Camacho and Jaime Rodriguez were later tried pursuant to a superseding indictment dated February 12, 1996. They were charged at trial with conspiracy to murder Hector Ocasio, the murders of Hector Ocasio and Gilberto Garcia, and the attempted murder of Luis Garcia, all in aid of the C&C racketeering enterprise, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959; they were also charged with a related firearms offense in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924. A jury trial commenced on June 3, 1996. The government advanced the following theory of how the murders and attempted murder took place: After Calderon was killed, Padilla told the members of his security force to keep a low profile and brought in a new head of security, Hector Ocasio, who hired new security members. Soon, Padilla and several longtime members of his security force, including James Albizu, Joey Pillot, Trumont Williams, and Gregory Cherry, 1 began to distrust Ocasio. Ocasio had reduced weekly salaries and then cut several security members from the payroll. He also had given local drug dealers permission to shoot Williams and Cherry. Albizu conceived of a plan to murder Ocasio, and he discussed his plan with Pillot, Williams, and Cherry. He also discussed his plan with Camacho and Rodriguez, who together used to pay C&C “rent” to sell drugs in the gang’s neighborhood and were friendly with Albizu. In late December of 1992, Albizu, Williams, Cherry, Camacho, Rodriguez, and a cousin of Rodriguez’s agreed to meet to kill Ocasio, but the plan fell through when Cherry failed to appear.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – Footnotes – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
1 The members of the C&C gang were frequently referred to at trial by their nicknames: Albizu–“Pito,” Pillot–“Joey,” Williams–“Tree,” and Cherry–“G” or “Ninja.” Camacho and Rodriguez were sometimes referred to respectively as “Spanky” and “Jay”; two other indicated defendants appear to have the same nicknames (James Rodriguez–“Spanky” and James Boggio–“Jay”).

One issue in this case is credibility of testimony from Cherry (aka Ninja):

The case at bar is complicated by the fact that the admissibility of Cherry’s declarations must be viewed in the context of defendants’ motion for a new trial under Rule 33. Casamento and the other Rule 804(b)(3) decisions previously discussed all arose out of trial judges’ evidentiary rulings during trials from which convicted defendants took appeals. In other words, the only question before the courts of appeal was whether, during the trial, the trial judge correctly applied Rule 804(b)(3) in admitting inculpatory out-of-court declarations or excluding exculpatory ones. In this Rule 33 context, the “newly discovered evidence must be of a sort that could, if believed, change the verdict”; and, in making that determination, “the trial court has broad discretion to decide Rule 33 motions based upon its evaluation of the proof produced,” Gambino, 59 F.3d at 364.

While I am aware of no case discussing the interaction between evidentiary Rule 804(b)(3) and procedural Rule 33, I think that the expanded focus of the present inquiry makes it at least arguable that I may consider the credibility of Thomas as a witness: not to determine the admissibility of Cherry’s declarations, but rather to evaluate the likely effect of Thomas’s testimony upon the jury at a new trial.

I do not decide the point now, and will hear argument from counsel concerning it. But I entertain no doubt that the prudent course is to develop a full record during the evidentiary hearing. That means that the government may cross-examine Thomas fully as to whether or not in fact Cherry made the statements Thomas ascribes to him. The government may also offer extrinsic evidence (if it has any) bearing upon that question of fact.

The Court also decided to “deny defendants’ request for a grant of judicial immunity for Gregory Cherry to testify.”

This is not the first time Judge Haight had the opportunity publish the word “ninja” in the federal record. Recall NinjaLaw post about “Burger King Kids Club with Mutant Ninja Turtles” in which Judge Haight used the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to support the holding that concepts and ideas of multi-ethnicity cannot be copyrighted.

Alejandro Reyes was convicted of drug related offenses and filed petition for habeas relief alleging that evidence of statements made to police were admitted without proper notice and in violation of Miranda rights. The Court held that statements of pedigree information (“such as the defendant’s name, address, height, weight, age, eye color, and date of birth”) do not require notice or Miranda protections.

ALEJANDRO REYES, Petitioner,
v. DAVID MILLER, Superintendent, Respondent.
98-CV-199H
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
1999 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12157

Decided – June 23, 1999

Opinion by Judge Carol Heckman:

Detective Grisanti searched another bedroom that was located on the left hand side of a dining room. Inside the bedroom was a statute of a ninja turtle. Detective Grisanti opened the top of the ninja turtle and found sixty-seven bags of heroin. The bags of heroin were wrapped in ten packages. Detective Grisanti testified that the heroin was packaged for sale. He also testified that the street value of the heroin was twenty dollars per bag.

For you math whizzes that’s about $1340 worth of heroin stuffed into a “statue of a ninja turtle”.

Plus “Approximately twenty-two ounces of crack cocaine were found in the bedroom” and “a loaded .38 caliber revolver inside a pocket of a coat that was hanging in the closet”.

The Court denies the petition finding no constitutional violations. But note, two defendants were arrested at the scene and they were tried together but only one was convicted. Is it because of the one’s statement admitting that he lived there? Was he then convicted based largely on his pedigree information while the other defendant was merely found at the scene.

This case joins a growing list of “Ninja Turtle” cases but the first that involves drugs. Previously I had been making a distinction between cases actually about involving Teenage Mutant characters and cases where they seem to be mentioned for no real reason. The case seems more like the latter because the Court did not need to mention the type of statue container. Courts seem to just like to mention the Ninja Turtles whenever possible.

Previous NinjaLaw cases about Ninja Turtles:

First mention of TMNT in Federal Courts
Sun Dun v Coca Cola – August 15, 1991

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles again – Retromutagen Ooze
Monarch v. Ritam – June 12, 1992

Ninja Turtles and Hollywood’s Horizontal Conspiracy
El Cajon v. AMC – October 23, 1992

First mention of Ninja Turtles in F.Ct. where it’s actually about them
Mirage Studios v. Weng et.al. – April 29, 1994

Burger King Kids Club with Mutant Ninja Turtles – multi-ethnic path to Glee and Celebrity Apprentice
CK Company v. Burger King – September 29, 1994

Ninja Turtles again, this time with FASA’s BattleTech, ExoSquad, RoboTech and Playmates
Fasa v. Playmates – June 19, 1995
(WITH POWER RANGERS)

Spam vs Spa’am with Splinter from TMNT and Pumbaa from Lion King
Hormel Foods v. Jim Henson Productions – September 22, 1995

Ring Pops not utilitarian so trademark protects after patent expired
Topps Company v. Verburg – December 12, 1996

Ninja Turtles as euphemism for Prison Response Team
Clark v. Westchester County – April 30, 1998

In a 1998 opinion about suppression of statements made to police officers while in police custody after requesting an attorney. The Court decided that defendant’s statements made to police were admissible.

US v Thornton
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, v. ERVIN JUNIUS THORNTON II, Defendant.
CRIMINAL NO. 97-50021-01
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN, SOUTHERN DIVISION
17 F. Supp. 2d 686

Decided – September 1, 1998

Opinion by Honorable Paul V. Gadola:

Defendant Ervin Junius Thornton II has filed a motion to suppress his alleged out of court statements made to a law enforcement officer. Defendant argues that these statements should be suppressed at trial due to a violation of his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights. On July 23, 24 and August 18, 1998, this Court held an evidentiary hearing on defendant’s motion to suppress. For the reasons set forth below, this Court will deny defendant’s motion to suppress out of court statements.

Explaining:

According to [police lieutenant] Koger’s testimony, Thornton’s statement included the following assertions: that he had been paid $ 10,000 by Jewell Lamont Allen and Tederick Jones for the murder of David Strickland; that the reason for the murder was that Strickland had been indicted and Jewell Lamont Allen was afraid he would talk; that the weapon he used was a nine-millimeter and that Tederick Jones (“Teddy”) conducted surveillance during the murders; that the clothing he wore was a black “ninja-outfit;” that he was involved in drug trafficking; and that he had purchased drugs from Allen.

And:

Defendant further revealed that the weapon he used was a 9 millimeter handgun and that Tederick Jones (“Teddy”) conducted surveillance during the murders. He further admitted he was involved in drug trafficking and that he had purchased drugs from Allen, as well as that the clothing he had used was a black ninja outfit.

What is a black ninja outfit? Is it difference than a black outfit? And should it be hyphenated or not? This Opinion writes it both ways (“ninja outfit” and “ninja-outfit” and it doesn’t really explain what makes the outfit ninja, except that it was used in surreptitious surveillance during a murder-for-hire and related to drug dealing (marijuana and cocaine). The court also can’t decide how to write the gun’s description, “9 millimeter” or “nine-millimeter”. But as with “ninja face masks“, “black ninja hood“, and “ninja pants“, I wonder what is actually being conveyed by this adjective except conclusions of criminal behavior.

Meanwhile, the defendant, Thornton, was convicted at trial and lost his subsequent appeals (See 99-1275). The Supreme Court also denied cert in 2000 (531 U.S. 1179), and a recent 2006 motion for relief of judgment based on claims that evidence should have been suppressed at trial was denied for being untimely and without merit (Thornton v USA, 97-50021).

NinjaLaw blog is primarily briefing “ninja” in Federal Court opinions but today a brief report of some ninja news.

First, Ninja Squirrels spotted in Florida:
ninja squirrels

Across the country, Reuters reports, “Ninjas Rob Medical Marijuana Deliveryman in California” :

The masked ninjas confronted the deliveryman outside an apartment building in West Covina, Calif., about 20 miles east of Los Angeles, KNX radio reports. The ninjas used white batons called tong fa to intimidate the deliveryman, who dropped his bag of marijuana and cash and ran off, police said.

The ninja robbers remain on the loose.

tonfa

Meanwhile on the other side of the world, there are “ninja” but don’t dare call them “assassins” – “Iran suspends Reuters over female ninjas headline”:

Officials in Tehran have suspended the bureau of the international news agency Reuters after one of its headlines described Iranian female ninjas as assassins.

Iran’s ministry of culture and Islamic guidance has also asked all Reuters’s 11 staff in Tehran to hand back their press accreditations and stop working for the agency.

Acknowledging its error, Reuters reported that its headline “Thousands of female Ninjas train as Iran’s assassins” had been corrected to read “Three thousand women Ninjas train in Iran”.

The BBC writes on the Iran-Reuters-Ninja story:

The BBC’s James Reynolds, who himself reports from London, says the few journalists who are still allowed to work in the country [Iran] now find that a single word out of place can cost them their credentials.

And once again Ninja Squirrels:
ninja squirrels

On March 9, 1992, a District Court in Texas decided the case of US v. One 1984 Kawasaki Ninja Motorcycle. The case is about assets seized by the government as part of a drug related offense.

1984 kawasaki ninja

Before the Court is Petitioner United States of America’s motion, filed on November 4, 1991, entitled Motion for an Order of Interlocutory Sale And For Substitution of the Res. This motion concerns specifically the Respondent 1984 Kawasaki Ninja Motorcycle, [among other property]

The issue:

various motions and pleadings present two main issues for determination:

(1) whether the United States may summarily sell the seized items; and,

(2) the proper procedure to be applied in seeking and performing such a summary sale.

The Court concludes:

In summation, the United States may proceed under the Supplemental Rules and 28 U.S.C. sections 2001-2004 in judicial forfeiture proceedings to the extent that such rules and laws are not inconsistent with the relevant portions of the Drug Control Act.

After reviewing all of the pleadings in the file, the Court is of the opinion that the Respondent Vehicles should be sold by the United States Marshal or any other person authorized to do so pursuant to Rule E(9)(c) of the Supplemental Rules and 28 U.S.C. section 2004.

This case also involved US Customs rules and Supplemental Rules for Certain Admiralty and Maritime Claims creating confusion over what could be sold but the Court ultimately ordered that the vehicles could be sold at auction for a price no less than 2/3rd of appraised value.