Brickbat: What You Don't Know


Credit: Nick Bair / photo on flickr

Six years ago, a Tennessee grand jury indicted pastor David Hoschar on a charge of sexual exploitation of a minor after law enforcement officers testified that someone at his IP address had downloaded child porn. What the officers didn't tell the grand jury is that neither of the computers they seized from his home had any actual child porn on it. Nor did they mention that their own experts concluded that the computers had not been scrubbed. Nor did they tell them that Hoschar's router was not secured so someone else could have downloaded the porn. Prosecutors ultimately dropped the charges. But a federal appeals court has just thrown out Hoschar's lawsuit against the officers saying they have "absolute immunity."

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  1. Absolute immunity my ass.This was false imprisonment and perjury,I’m sure he spent sometime in jail waiting..The king’s men need to be held to account. I’m Tom Cotton approves though,not enough people in prison.

    1. Where’s Danny Glover when you need him to revoke stuff like that?

      1. +1 old guy six shooter

  2. In general, prosecutors and law enforcement officers are interconnected throughout the grand jury process. Hermann Walz, a former prosecutor, current defense attorney, and adjunct at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, described it as series of checks.

    “If they really believed it, then police went to the DA’s office,” Walz said. “That’s a second check. When I was a DA, we were skeptical. We wanted to believe, but we wanted to be the devil’s advocate. The grand jury is really a safeguard.”

    Yeah, no.

  3. Mike Taylor, the district attorney general for the 12th district, which includes Marion County, said he could not remember which staff member worked on the case. He could not comment on the federal lawsuit or the Sixth Circuit Court’s affirmation but discussed the rationale behind absolute immunity.

    “As long as I am engaged in my normal duties on a case, I have absolute immunities for obvious reasons,” he said. “You could never function if every guy accused of murder turned around to sue you.”

    “I mean, I don’t even know how people who suffer consequences for their actions even do it. So glad I don’t have that problem. Makes my job sooooo much easier.”

  4. Still, following a standard is crucial to ensuring that no one is falsely convicted, said Wayne Rich Jr., a former federal prosecutor in Chattanooga with 33 years of experience.

    Rich described his swearing in as a U.S. attorney: “The United States Attorney sat me down and said, ‘You know, you have tremendous power. And in exercising the authority to authorize an arrest warrant or authorize the presentation of an indictment to a grand jury, you need to believe the person is guilty beyond any doubt.

    “‘Because if you believe that person is innocent and he’s arrested or indicted, it can ruin his life.'”

    “But no matter what I do, my life is untouched, right? Phew, thank goodness.”

    1. Having met a couple of Federal Prosecutors in real life…. they can certainly talk that talk when need be. But that is not their true attitude. In my experience they do not view their responsibility in any way that resembles “you need to believe the person is guilty beyond any doubt.”

      Their viewpoint is 100% “what can I sell in a courtroom?” They’ll use the word “prove” instead of “sell”, but that’s what they really mean. They live by the a cowboy bravado that says “I can get a conviction on this scumbag.”

      Sure, if for some reason they felt a level of sympathy for the person – maybe he went to the same law school – they might give him the benefit of the doubt. But other than that, they’ll take a pile of evidence that weighs 90 to 10 against conviction into court, as long as they think they can get most of the 90% excluded. Winning is the only thing that matters. If they have someone that they know for sure is guilty, but they think the evidence is going to be hard to sell in court, then they’ll back off. They don’t like to lose. They are winners! Guilty or innocent is irrelevant. Deserve’s got nothing to do with it. All that matters is what can I sell in court.

      At least that was my experience with a small sample size.

  5. My best friend’s ex-wife makes $95/hr on the laptop. She has been unemployed for 6 months but last month her income with big fat bonus was over $15000 just working on the laptop for a few hours.

    Read more on this site.—————————

    1. Not the article to be advertising your porn career, spambot.

  6. ” But a federal appeals court has just thrown out Hoschar’s lawsuit against the officers saying they have “absolute immunity.”

    That’s not good.

    There is a war on cops. One rooted in pure intellectualism. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that any thing or persons granted ‘absolute immunity’ begs for trouble.

  7. Tulpa the White|6.29.12 @ 12:25PM|#|?|filternamelinkcustom

    Yep, but it’s not the cops’ fault for suspecting you of the crime. You were an accessory, if an unwitting one.

    There has to be some deterrent to people helping criminals by their negligence.

  8. Tulpa the White|6.29.12 @ 12:53PM|#|?|filternamelinkcustom

    Either immoral or blissfully unaware of the evils that can be perpetrated with a stolen IP address. Either way, they’ll benefit from a good kick in the pants.

  9. Tulpa the White|6.29.12 @ 1:02PM|#|?|filternamelinkcustom

    Checking the network from outside might have been a gentler thing to do, yes. But they still need to be made aware of the dangers of router promiscuity.

  10. Tulpa the White|6.29.12 @ 12:13PM|#|?|filternamelinkcustom

    Leaving your wifi unsecured so that scumrats can commit internet crimes using it is like leaving your car unlocked so bank robbers can use it as a getaway car. Maybe it’s not illegal, but you shouldn’t be surpised when you’re the suspect and are treated as such.

  11. Tulpa the White|6.29.12 @ 12:46PM|#|?|filternamelinkcustom

    but to raise it to the level of committing a crime simply because it isn’t what you would do

    I’m (a) not for raising it to the level of a crime and (b) not doing it “simply because it isn’t what I would do”. You and tarran have some serious strawman issues. Other than that you hit the nail on the head.

    If you want to be the Mother Teresa of wifi, go for it. Just expect to face consequences when people bite the hand that feeds them with something like this.

    A crime was committed with the aid of their property, and a BASIC means of preventing that abuse was not taken.

    1. You are a sentimental fellow.

    2. I’m not clicking on that link unless you can assure me there’s no Dunphy in it. I have a severe Dunphy allergy.

  12. And how does it get this far – like some people have no idea what an IP address is or how the technology works. It’s like a bank robbery where all they have is the getaway car’s tag number and it’s yours. That’s enough for suspicion – but anybody could have stolen your tag, made a fake tag with your number, stolen your car, used your car. There’s no proof at all there just from the tag number that you robbed the bank.

    But a grand jury only hears what the prosecutor wants them to hear and there’s no obligation to let the jury hear any arguments against an indictment. It’s up to the grand jury to ask questions about what the prosecutor is telling them – but they don’t. And depending on the jurisdiction, the grand jury is stacked and the foreman may well be a cop or related to somebody in the prosecutor’s office.

    The cops are lazy, the prosecutor is not acting in good faith, the grand jury doesn’t understand its role, the judge (quite likely a former prosecutor) knows most defendants are guilty whether or not the cops made a good bust or the prosecutor presented a clean case – and this is what happens. The system is rigged with no actual checks on abuse. The informed jury movement doesn’t go far enough if they’re not keying on grand juries and how they work – that’s the one place regular citizens have a direct voice in how the system operates.

  13. Blah Blah Blah Blah. How many times are we going to come here with our lower case “l” libertarian outrage and say “Wrong! These guys need to be held accountable!” It’s the same old damn thing a dozen times a day here on Reason. Kudos to the court for bringing it out in the open by stating point blank that pigs have “absolute immunity”, no matter their crimes against decent people. This is a fucking fight we will never ever win under any circumstances and I am just sick of it. I’m done.

    1. Buy an AR, ammo, and gold. Learn how to use the AR well. Wait.

      Best use of your time. Fun, too.

  14. saying they have “absolute immunity.”

    It’s just been revoked!

  15. I didn’t think that cops ever had absolute immunity, it is at best qualified immunity.

    This suit however was against the prosecutors who presented the case to the grand jury, they can have absolute immunity for any function/action that was directly related legal prosecution.

    This statement should be corrected in the article.

    BTW, here is a link to the copy of that decision, still being processed likely before publication:

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