Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Fun and Games in Michigan: False Accusations and No Nonsense Judges

It shouldn't matter but because people often jump to conclusions based on misunderstanding or disliking an argument I would like to point out that I do know people who have been sexually assaulted or molested. It's a horrible crime, almost as bad as murder. As we recently noted the seriousness of sexual assault shouldn't be minimized. But in a time where people are judging movies by what crimes their directors were acquitted of or trying to decide if a Presidential candidate assaulted women, it is important to remember that although we don't like to admit it, some women really do lie about sexual assault. There is debate as to how frequently this occurs. Most reputable studies suggest that only a small percentage of accusations are ever proven to be false. Just because some women lie doesn't mean most women do. In this recent story Leiha Artman lied about being raped and kidnapped. The lie was evidently detected before someone was arrested, charged and convicted. So from what I can tell right now no unfortunate soul who "fit the description" was hauled into court based on Artman's lies. Contrary to the current zeitgeist, women are just as capable of immoral behavior as men are. Just because someone makes a charge doesn't mean that the charge is true. If someone denies a charge or vigorously defends himself we can't assume his actions indicate hatred of women or promotion of rape. Our justice system hinges on the idea that the burden of proof is on the person making the accusation. No one is entitled to be believed automatically without evidence. There are all sorts of reasons someone would lie about being the victim of a horrible crime. To reach the truth it's imperative that the hypothesis that a crime was committed be challenged, tested, poked and prodded. Nothing is perfect. There will be some guilty people who go free and some innocent people who go to jail or prison. In some cases we'll never know what happened. And beyond reasonable doubt doesn't mean beyond all doubt. But ideally our system is designed to minimize the number of innocent people who are convicted. I am glad that in this case the criminal is going to jail. If anything I think her sentence is too light. She could have gotten six years. I definitely would want to give her a sentence that would impress upon her the wrongness of her actions.

A mother has been jailed for making up an elaborate kidnap story claiming she was abducted and raped by four black men. Leiha Artman from Muskegon, Michigan, claimed she was abducted when the men stopped to ask her for directions while she stood in the driveway of her home in March.

The 25-year-old said they threw her in the trunk of their car, beat and sexually assaulted her. During the two days she was missing, her boyfriend received photographs of her in which she appeared gagged, bound and bleeding from the head. She was sentenced to one year behind bars on Wednesday after admitting to one count of making a false report of a felony.

Artman has a 2014 conviction for resisting and opposing a police officer, as well as a felony breaking and entering a building conviction in 2007 when she was a juvenile. She also was sentenced in June to two days in jail and 12 months probation for financial transaction device fraud.
Artman was sentenced in Oceana County in February 2015 for larceny less than $200 and agreed to testify against a co-defendant in return for the dismissal of a breaking and entering a building, the Oceana County Press reported
Fortunately I have not had reason to spend much time in courtrooms. However I have noticed that judges as a group can be very possessive of what they call "their courtrooms". Technically that courtroom belongs to the people but society has given judges a tremendous amount of leeway to regulate behavior in the courtroom. Getting into an argument with someone who can send you to jail or prison just because he or she doesn't like your looks or attitude isn't very smart. Jacob Larsen, an accused stalker and definite big mouth, forgot that needlessly irritating a judge when you are in his court, is a sub-optimum choice.

JACKSON, MI – Clearly growing agitated, Jackson County Circuit Judge John McBain threw off his robe and helped tackle to the ground a defiant man during a hearing on a personal protection order violation.

"Tase his ass right now," the judge shouted as he rushed toward Jacob Larson, who had been talking back to the judge and blamed his alleged stalking behavior on the woman he was pursuing. McBain had ordered the man to spend three days in jail, a period that quickly jumped to 93 days as Larson continued to aggravate the judge during the December hearing.

The resulting takedown was a rare instance of a judge using physical force, one Jackson County Chief Circuit Judge Thomas Wilson said was allowable. "A judge has the power to take whatever action is necessary to maintain order in the courtroom," he said and noted circuit court judges have arresting powers.
Wilson had seen the court recording of the hearing, but there is no review process for such incidents, he said. When McBain's court officer went to take Larson into custody, he resisted. McBain said he was "hand fighting" the officer, Jared Schultz, then a deputized law clerk. Larson would not cooperate, tensed up and made a fist as though he was trying to fight, said Schultz, now working for the state Court of Appeals. McBain noted that he "pretty clearly and unequivocally" warned Larson to avoid contact with the woman.
"She's instigating it," Larson replied and talked about pictures she posted wearing a lot of makeup and with her "hair done and all that stuff, the full nine." He repeatedly made statements about how she would not directly tell him to leave her alone.
Speaking of sexual crimes, let's not forget that this nonsense all could have been avoided in the first place if Larson had stopped contacting his stalking victim either when she asked or when the judge told him to do so. If someone asks you to stop talking to them or sending them emails or calling them or bothering them then you should probably do that. But some people always want to do things the hard way. So it goes. A hard head makes a soft behind.

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