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381 comments

Ready 1...2...3... Rush to judgement. (4, Insightful)

Gudeldar (705128) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551590)

It would be nice to know if there was some evidence besides the accounts of the officer and Watts. If what the officers said is true then he is guilty and if Watts said is true then the officers assaulted him.

at he can keep being a writer in lockup. (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551612)

at he can keep being a writer in lockup.

Re:at he can keep being a writer in lockup. (4, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551774)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Adolf Hitler both wrote some interesting stuff while they were locked up.

Re:at he can keep being a writer in lockup. (2, Funny)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552242)

I'm finding it hard to believe you put both of those guys in the same sentence.

Re:at he can keep being a writer in lockup. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31552112)

<quote>at he can keep being a writer in lockup.</quote>

Parser error at line 1, char 4:
'at he'
    ^

Re:Ready 1...2...3... Rush to judgement. (1)

Manip (656104) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551630)

Indeed. And since we can almost certainly guarantee there is video, the question is will this appear in court or is the camera "damaged?"

Re:Ready 1...2...3... Rush to judgement. (1)

Restil (31903) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552030)

He's already been convicted. The time to present the video has already passed.

-Restil

Re:Ready 1...2...3... Rush to judgement. (4, Informative)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552050)

Jurors watched complete video of the entire incident. In interviews afterwards, they said the border guards acted like assholes, but Watts was guilty of the law as explained to them.

Re:Ready 1...2...3... Rush to judgement. (2, Informative)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552254)

Basically the law says they can treat you any way they like and your only options are to sue them later.

Re:Ready 1...2...3... Rush to judgement. (3, Insightful)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552290)

Within reason, pretty much. If they'd pulled out their guns and shot Watts, they'd be in big trouble. But there's no law that says police have to be polite or even understanding.

Re:Ready 1...2...3... Rush to judgement. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31551632)

The wikipedia article linked to in the summary implies there was a video of the incident.

"A local newspaper, the Port Huron Times-Herald, submitted a FOIA request to US Customs and Border Protection to be given the video recording of the incident. On January 14, 2010, the paper reported that the agency denied the request because "it is an ongoing investigation."[15]"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Watts#Border_incident

Re:Ready 1...2...3... Rush to judgement. (2, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551846)

Great! So as he has been convicted, it is no longer "an ongoing investigation." Now can we see for ourselves what happened and then, if their case is BS, file an appeal?

Re:Ready 1...2...3... Rush to judgement. (3, Interesting)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551670)

Peter Watts describes in much more detail events of the trial and conviction on his blog [rifters.com].

It would be nice to know if there was some evidence besides the accounts of the officer and Watts.

In a previous blog entry Watts mentioned there was video surveillance of the incident that would be used in court, but now he makes no comment on it. Maybe the video wasn't as helpful to him as he first said it would be (or maybe there wasn't any after all).

Re:Ready 1...2...3... Rush to judgement. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31551730)

Well, the way he describes it, he was convicted for failing to comply immediately with the official's order, which is something it seems that he doesn't deny. So the videotape wouldn't have helped with that.

Let's hope that Michigan judges have discretion in sentencing. Chances are they do.

Re:Ready 1...2...3... Rush to judgement. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31551926)

Peter Watts describes in much more detail events of the trial and conviction on his blog [rifters.com].

It would be nice to know if there was some evidence besides the accounts of the officer and Watts.

In a previous blog entry Watts mentioned there was video surveillance of the incident that would be used in court, but now he makes no comment on it. Maybe the video wasn't as helpful to him as he first said it would be (or maybe there wasn't any after all).

The way he shut up about it, seems as if the video showed him being a total ass.

Re:Ready 1...2...3... Rush to judgement. (1, Redundant)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552012)

Jurors watched complete video of the entire incident. In interviews afterwards, they said the border guards acted like assholes, but Watts was guilty of the law as explained to them.

Re:Ready 1...2...3... Rush to judgement. (5, Insightful)

Doctor_Jest (688315) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552108)

That's always the problem in these sorts of things, because there is always going to be more than a "stink" if you scuffle with officers, even if they're being assholes.

I remember one 4th of July night I was stopped by a State Trooper and I immediately was required to step out of the vehicle. If I had been a dick, I probably would've been in jail for a few days. They were looking for a vehicle like mine, and when they found it wasn't mine, I got a "warning" of going over 60. The officer looked in the bed of my truck (it was a Red truck, go figure) and I must've stood on the side of the highway for oh, 20 or so minutes while they conferred and other nonsense. It was bullshit, and they knew it... but other than me having to stand on the side of the road, it was just an inconvenience. (They never asked to search inside the vehicle...)

Moral of the story: Most cops are okay... but there are dicks and bitches in uniform. Getting frisky with them will do nothing but make more trouble for YOU, and the dipshits in uniform will continue to be dipshits. It's best to handle this from outside the incidents in question, rather than escalating an already asinine situation. I'm not saying that Watts was right or wrong... just the circumstances of "penises with badges" always end in disaster for the victim if they escalate it. *shrug* I don't have a perfect answer for the problem either.

Re:Ready 1...2...3... Rush to judgement. (1)

shogun (657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552326)

Jurors watched complete video of the entire incident. In interviews afterwards, they said the border guards acted like assholes, but Watts was guilty of the law as explained to them.

I assume Jury Nullification wasn't explained to them however.

Re:Ready 1...2...3... Rush to judgement. (2, Informative)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552054)

His blog entry seems to suggest that the question the jury considered was whether his failure to comply with a command was sufficient to warrant his conviction. In other words, the issue wasn't who slugged whom first, because it was conceded that the border guard hit him in the face first. The issue was after that, he failed to comply with the border guard's order promptly and that was what he was convicted for, not for assaulting the border guard, which was disproven in court.

If his account is honest, it seems like something of a travesty of our legal system. If you are punched in the face by a border guard, how can YOU be the one who committed an assault? I still doubt slightly whether his account leaves something out of what went on in court.

Re:Ready 1...2...3... Rush to judgement. (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552390)

His blog entry seems to suggest that the question the jury considered was whether his failure to comply with a command was sufficient to warrant his conviction.

No, the jury was TOLD that his failure to comply with a command was sufficient to warrant his conviction. They were only asked to decide whether or not he was to fail to comply. There ain't no justice.

Re:Ready 1...2...3... Rush to judgement. (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551696)

Yeah, I agree. I really don't know if this is a case of they guy being an idiot or power abuse from the border guards. I need more people than these few to make my decision for me.

Re:Ready 1...2...3... Rush to judgement. (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551902)

If you stop to think about it, you'll be convicted of disobedience. When a thug with a badge asks you to something, avoid rational thought, and simply do, with no thought for your own safety.

Re:Ready 1...2...3... Rush to judgement. (5, Insightful)

Bartab (233395) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551828)

Oddly, a grand jury found reason enough to charge, and a second criminal jury found reason enough to convict.

Only for refusal to comply (4, Informative)

billstewart (78916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552176)

There wasn't really much argument about whether or not Watts immediately and obediently complied with the order - he says he asked them what they were doing and why. It took the jury about four days to decide that the law said that meant he was technically guilty of not complying. The juror who commented on Watts's blog also said that the cops had acted badly in the way they attacked Watts, but that this case was against Watts and not an assault or brutality case against the cops so they had no official judgement about that.

Re:Ready 1...2...3... Rush to judgement. (1)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551898)

Yeah, it'd be great if the article linked to items relevant to the conviction (you know, the primary focus of the article) instead of the preliminary stories that have already been reported many times on /. How about a link to the CBS story reporting the conviction? Isn't that the frickin' title of your story? FAIL SJrX.

Re:Ready 1...2...3... Rush to judgement. (5, Informative)

dolbywan_kenobi (168484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551988)

I am a criminal defense attorney. My experience is that whenever it's the word of the police versus the word of the person accused of a crime, the accused loses. In most jurisdictions in the US, judges and juries tend to believe the cops. Unless the case was tried by a jury in a large metro area with significant minority population ( and the jury is reflective of that), chances are a guilty verdict will result.

the facts of the case (5, Informative)

elbow_spur (749878) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552060)

The following points were established during the trial. http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=1186 [rifters.com]
  • 1. The incident occured as Watts was exiting the US. He was stopped by US border patrol for a random "exit inspection"
  • 2. Watts initially got out of the car and requested an explanation. At that point, one of the border patrol officers told him to get back in the car. He did so
  • 3. An officer named Beaudry rushed over to the scene, got into the car with Watts, struck him in the face and told him to get out.
  • 4. Watts exited the car and Beaudry ordered him to get to the ground.
  • 5. Watts did not comply, but rather demanded an explanation.
  • 6. Beaudry pepper-spayed watts and threatened him with a baton. At that point Watts lay down, was handcuffed, and placed under arrest.

At no point did Watts engage in a physical confrontation with the CBP officers. Upon cross-examination the "choking" accusation and the "aggressive stance" accusations were shown to have been fabricated.
The conviction stemmed solely from point #5 Here are a couple of post-trial juror statements. One was posted on Watts own site. The other was posted as a comment to the Port Huron report on the verdict; see
http://www.thetimesherald.com/article/20100319/NEWS01/3190308/Jury-remains-out-in-Watts-trial?plckFindCommentKey=CommentKey:e3d49247-c265-47a6-9721-5713e32cc7ed [thetimesherald.com]



As a member of the jury that convicted Mr. Watts today, I have a few comments to make. The jury’s task was not to decide who we liked better. The job of the jury was to decide whether Mr. Watts “obstructed/resisted” the custom officials. Assault was not one of the charges. What it boiled down to was Mr. Watts did not follow the instructions of the customs agents. Period. He was not violent, he was not intimidating, he was not stopping them from searching his car. He did, however, refuse to follow the commands by his non compliance. He’s not a bad man by any stretch of the imagination. The customs agents escalted the situation with sarcasm and miscommunication. Unfortunately, we were not asked to convict those agents with a crime, although, in my opinion, they did commit offenses against Mr. Watts. Two wrongs don’t make a right, so we had to follow the instructions as set forth to us by the judge.



Peter,

I believe your description of the trial and deliberations is more accurate than you could know. As a non-conformist and “libertarian” (who has had some experiences not unlike yours) I was not comfortable with my vote, but felt deep inside that it was consistent with the oath we took as jurors. I believe nearly all the jurors searched for a legitimate reason to vote differently. In the end it came down to the question “Was the law broken?”. While I would much rather have a beer and discussion with you than Officer B. I never the less felt obligated to vote my conscience. I also believe most, if not all, the jurors sincerely hope that you are handled with a great degree of leniency, we, unfortunately have no say in that matter.

Re:the facts of the case (5, Insightful)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552120)

That's pathetic. Regardless of the letter of the law, if the guy didn't do anything that should amount to criminal behavior, and his behavior was reactive - a response to being unjustly assaulted - then the jury failed utterly to do its job. If the law is being applied unjustly or unfairly in a case, as it seems to have been here (the assault was committed by an officer, not by the defendant), then jury nullification is a justifiable, and in fact morally obligatory, response.

Re:the facts of the case (1)

Ryyuajnin (862754) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552188)

FYI: Assault is not attacking someone, thats battery. Assault is installing fear, the perception of possibly being attacked. thats why you'll never hear about someone being assaulted in their sleep; attacked, maybe, but not assaulted.

Re:the facts of the case (0)

trurl7 (663880) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552266)

You are pathetic.

Truly. "We couldn't do anything". "It wasn't our fault".

No, you're right. It wasn't your fault that the DA structured the case so that the man WOULD be convicted. They didn't bring up any of those pesky unprovable charges, so they got a "letter of the law" technicality.

I'm just curious - did the thought of simply voting "not guilty" not cross your mind. How about jury nullification? How about simply being a dick to the DAs who were defending the border guards?

Was following the letter of the precious law worth a potential 2-year jail sentence for a man who is not bad "by any stretch of the imagination"?

Nice job. Go home and tell your kids what a hero you were for "following the law".

Not convicted of assault, only refusal to comply (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552142)

One of the jurors in the case commented on Watt's blog that he wasn't convicted of assault, just refusal to comply with the officer's orders. It wasn't clear whether he was also convicted of obstruction, I think not. The juror also commented that he thought the officers acted criminally in their treatment of Watts, but that wasn't part of this court case so they came to no official conclusions.

panem et circenses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31551592)

Meh, we make fun of how the unwashed masses adore their idols, yet we are the same. Or are we? Someone write something slashdot-worthy, a meta piece about this human fallibility perhaps?

yey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31551602)

'Suspect appeared angry. We then sprayed him. Because of the tumultous situation we cannot guarantee that this was the exact sequence of events.'

Re:yey (3, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551664)

He was told to get back into his car. This is SOP. He refused.

This is the same procedure Canadian police use during a traffic stop. When you're pulled over, you're supposed to wait in your car. If you get out, you are told to get back into your vehicle. If you refuse, you have disobeyed a lawful order, end of story.

He admitted he got out of the car, and didn't get back in it when he was told to, instead trying to see what the police were doing when they were searching hit trunk (a legal search, btw). So he was also interfering with a police search.

The guy's a jerk and gives Canadians a bad name. If he had done this in Canada, he'd still have ended up in court, so what's the big deal? Oh, right - AMERIKA BAD!

I make enough "In Soviet Amerika" jokes, but in that case, it simply doesn't apply. Peter Watts has only Peter Watts to blame.

Re:yey (3, Insightful)

rpresser (610529) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551746)

The evil part, which you have glossed over, is that disobeying a lawful order (which he did, stipulated) should NOT equate to felony assault (which is what he was accused and convicted of). That it does, at least in Michigan, is a woeful misstep in legislation and jurisprudence, and a shameful blot on the soul of every American, including me.

Re:yey (3, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551944)

The CBC story is wrong - Watts was NOT convicted of assault.

Robert B. Marks wrote:Posted 2010/03/20
at 12:50 AM ET

Well, a bit of perspective here...

First of all, some jurors have weighed in on Watts' case on some blogs here and there (including Watts' own). Watts was convicted of failing to obey a lawful order - he wasn't convicted of assault. Now, the jurors themselves said that the guard in question overreacted and failed to communicate properly. They also said that two wrongs don't make a right.

Second, that statute about lawful orders is there for a reason. Most of the people who try to cross the border are law-abiding folk. Some, however, are packing, and dangerous, and while a slight hesitation to get out of a car is usually just somebody not quite understanding, there are times when it's somebody taking the safety off a gun. The law empowers officers to move quickly in a case like that - and sometimes they make mistakes, and sometimes they abuse it. But, it is an empowerment that can save lives in certain situations.

Third, as the comments from the jurors and Watts' own account on his blog state, the assault aspect was blown out of the water. So, there is still the sentencing phase to come, and it could very well be that Watts is sentenced to time already served, or a minor slap on the wrist, and the matter is done. The trial is not over yet.

Finally, even if the judge turns out to be unreasonable in the sentencing phase, there is the right to appeal, which is there specifically to prevent miscarriages of justice. There may even be an opportunity for Watts to pursue civil damages against the guard who assaulted him.

So, this isn't a case of authority going unchecked, or a massive civil rights scandal - it's a tragic case with an overreaction from a border guard and a failure by Watts to obey a guard's order. And the process is not over yet.

So don't worry, this isn't a blot on your soul, and as a Canadian I can say we still love you all, and hope for the best for you, and apologize for Mr. Watts being a self-righteous jerk who feels he can give less deference to American police than he'd have to show to Canadian police and then whine about "mistreatment" because of the possible bad optics.

Courtesy begats courtesy. It doesn't cost anything to be polite, especially when you're a guest in another country.

Re:yey (4, Insightful)

Will Sargent (2751) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551832)

He was told to get back into his car after the officer had just punched him in the face.

It doesn't surprise me that he'd be confused and disoriented, or that he'd be slow to comply. Try punching someone in the face some time. It hurts.

The really sad bit is that under these laws, you could not only punch someone in the face, you could pepper spray them, kick them in the nuts while they were down, and then tell them you wanted them to stand up and empty out your pockets. Don't do it because you're screaming and in pain, or trying to run away? You're committing a crime.

Re:yey (0, Troll)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551958)

No, he was told to get back in his car, twice. He refused. At that point, they tried to arrest him, he got into his car (too late Chuckles), yadda yadda yadda.

He was given two chances to comply. It was only when they went to cuff him that he "obeyed." And the story is wrong - he was not convicted of assault, just disobeying a lawful order.

Re:yey (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31552244)

>No, he was told to get back in his car, twice. He refused. At that point, they tried to arrest him, he got into his car (too late Chuckles), yadda yadda yadda.

For fuck's sake, for the last time, you fucking idiot astroturfer, no.

He went back into the car when told to. Another officer then ran to the car, opened the door of the car, punched Watts repeatedly in the face, and dragged Watts out of the car. What he did not comply with is lie down on the ground after being beaten up like that.

Re:yey (1)

Bartab (233395) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552000)

He was told to get back into his car after the officer had just punched him in the face.

I can't even imagine where this timeline of events was created. Probably in your head. It doesn't appear in any credible news source.

Re:yey (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31552114)

>He was told to get back into his car after the officer had just punched him in the face.

Em, no, that is incorrect. After being repeatedly struck in the face, he was told to lie down, and when he asked what is going on (and presumably why he was just beaten up by the border guard), maced. He was convicted of failing to comply with the order to lie down after being beaten up without any kind of prelude or communication prior to the beating. Not assault.

Re:yey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31551858)

If you refuse, you have disobeyed a lawful order, end of story.

Lawful order, schmawful order. Pigs is pigs no matter the country.

Re:yey (0, Redundant)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551970)

He was stopped - legally. He got out of the car. He was told to get back into the car, which is standard procedure for police even in his home town. H refused. He was told a second time, and again didn't comply. So the officer went to arrest him, and THEN he gets back in his car. Sorry, too late!

Ontario cops would have the right to do the same thing.

Also, the story is wrong - he was not convicted of assault, just disobeying a lawful order.

Re:yey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31551974)

as for the system, violence is justified

Re:yey (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31552014)

Who the hell modded this bullshit up? None of what you said has anything to do with what happened. I'm sick of border guard astroturfers like you evrywhere this comes up.
He was beaten and then told to lie on the ground, not get back in his car. When he asked what's going on, _after being beaten up_, maced. He was convicted for not complying with the order to lie down after being beaten, not assault.

Re:yey (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552164)

No, he was convicted on the original order to get INTO his car. BTW, contrary to the article, he was not convicted of assault.

Re:yey (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552218)

He was told to get back into his car. This is SOP.

As an Australian this doesn't make sense to me. If a cop here told me to get in my car I would assume I was good to go, which doesn't appear to be the case here.

Quite understandable (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31551606)

American border guards are self-important scum-bags, guarding the gates of the dying empire.

Don't worry. Soon nobody will want to go to America.

Re:Quite understandable (2, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551620)

American border guards are self-important scum-bags, guarding the gates of the dying empire.

Canadian guards will grow the same way when everybody tries to leave the dying empire.
     

Re:Quite understandable (1)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551700)

Canadian guards will grow the same way when everybody tries to leave the dying empire.

Like the Canadian border guards who murdered the Polish immigrant in Vancouver?

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2007/11/14/bc-taservideo.html [www.cbc.ca]
http://www.canada.com/theprovince/news/story.html?id=264ccebb-1696-44e7-9474-ff5a06f63db4 [canada.com]
http://www.nationalpost.com/most-popular/story.html?id=1332958 [nationalpost.com]

Re:Quite understandable (1)

Rarzipace (1055746) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551900)

Not border guards, but RCMP officers, a.k.a. Mounties. They're our federal police, and they've been having and getting into some trouble lately, and giving themselves a pretty bad image. Dziekanski's case is just one high-profile example.

Re:Quite understandable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31552116)

It was the RCMP who murdered the traveller; the border guards and customs and immigration officials just worked to upset him.

Re:Quite understandable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31552214)

RCMP, not border guards.

Re:Quite understandable (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551692)

I already don't want to ever enter the US - I even have reservations about flying over it on my way to Cuba. Canadian here.

Soon nobody will want to go to America (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31551712)

Chinese debt collectors. They will want to come.

Insightful? (3, Insightful)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551750)

You all should be ashamed of yourselves for modding up hateful comments.

Re:Insightful? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31551830)

You all should be ashamed of yourselves for modding up hateful comments.

I agree. Not to mention that fact that the U.S. will have to fall a long, long way before people from the real armpits that Planet Earth has to offer stop trying to get in here any way they can (I could name one in particular, but then I'd be accused of being a bigot.)

The attitude of the original poster ("Soon nobody will want to come to America") is just wishful thinking at best, truly ignorant at worst. I know a number of immigrants who hail from, shall we say, less-enlightened countries (one described the country of his birth as a "typical Communist hellhole") and there's no way you would ever get them to go back. America is still the Land of Opportunity to them: it's all relative you know.

Re:Quite understandable (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31551780)

American border guards are self-important scum-bags, guarding the gates of the dying empire.

Don't worry. Soon nobody will want to go to America.

Because you are an idiot...you have no idea what you are talking about! Everyone hates AMerica until their ass gets invaded or they need our money...

Re:Quite understandable (1, Offtopic)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551836)

Everyone hates AMerica until their ass gets invaded

Yes, Iraq and Afghanistan used to hate America, but now they love you!

or they need our money

Uh, what money? How many trillion are you in debt now?

Re:Quite understandable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31551918)

Everyone hates AMerica until their ass gets invaded

Yes, Iraq and Afghanistan used to hate America, but now they love you!

or they need our money

Uh, what money? How many trillion are you in debt now?

Boo-hoo! Another whiney Brit. I'll bet your grandmother loved the American GIs who traded her cigarettes and Hershey Bars.

But Obama's president!!!!! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31551636)

I thought unicorns were supposed to dance out everyone's asses now that Bushitler is gone.

First draft... (5, Funny)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551640)

He will be sentenced April 26th

The sentence will be sent to his editor May 5.
They'll have it proofread and the final edit will be done June 7.
Armed truck drivers will deliver the sentence to Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Borders locations on an undisclosed date.
The sentence will go on sale August 11.

Please, no spoilers before the release date.

don't f**k with the police! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31551644)

whilst people should not be unreasonably searched leaving a country (after all, who cares?) attempting to strangle a police officer is a serious offence! (the evidence would not be in his favour; there are cameras everywhere at border patrol)

Re:don't f**k with the police! (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551934)

Not sure why you got moderated up, because the court threw out the accusation that he attempted to strangle the officer. The guards' testimony was demolished on cross examination as inconsistent and the only thing that the prosecutor had at the end was that, after the guard had punched him in the face several times (an event which the prosecution did not dispute), he did not immediately comply with an instruction to lie on the ground.

Events like this that make life difficult for the majority of police officers, who actually want to do a good job and protect people from criminals. They undermine the public faith in the police and in the judicial system. If you can be convicted of not following police instructions after they have assaulted you, then why on earth would you ever go near the police, let alone cooperate with them? Whichever legislator thought up that particular law deserves jail time.

2vs1 (1)

sckirklan (1412015) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551646)

How is he simply guilty because he was 1 and they were 2. This isn't the only time I've seen this. American law seems to favor everything in majority of he said she said and 2 vs 1, 2 wins even if 2 perjure.

Whatt? (5, Funny)

angiasaa (758006) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551648)

So when someone said "Watts the problem",
He said "I'm certainly not!"

That kind of attitude with the police can earn you a can of pepper-spray!
Also, that kind of attitude in court could certainly earn you some jail-time!

Re:Whatt? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31551814)

That kind of attitude with me will earn you a punch in the face too. But only policeman can do that legaly. This show how screwed the law is.

Re:Whatt? (1)

angiasaa (758006) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552096)

I'd probably laugh it off.. However, the point of my comment was to bring into focus exactly what you pointed out. The law is not screwed in this case. It's common sense that has'nt prevailed.

It makes more sense to see it from the victims perspective before bring the harassments in. The law may say "blah" but the upholders of that very same law are unfortunately permitted to choose their own interpretation of what the word of law really means.

It's sad but heck, if I know what someone can do and if I can avoid walking into a wall of nails, I will do what it takes to avoid doing it.

If Watts was innocent in his position, it does'nt make him free of "stupid". :)

Wait a minute... (1, Insightful)

Skidborg (1585365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551650)

With all those hundreds of video cameras tracking your every move at the border, why isn't there some definite evidence showing up here?

Re:Wait a minute... (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551790)

The cameras only see what the operators want them to see. I don't think (unedited) video evidence will be shown if the border guards were messing with him and provoked a physical confrontation. On the other hand, if he just jumped out of his car and dove on one of them, it would probably already be uploaded to youtube with the word terrorist in the title.

Re:Wait a minute... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551860)

With all those hundreds of video cameras tracking your every move at the border, why isn't there some definite evidence showing up here?

Because they're the new special "smartcams" that have been deployed all along the border. They only record when law enforcement looks good.

Re:Wait a minute... (2, Informative)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551966)

The jurors watched complete video of the entire encounter, and then found Watts guilty.

They also said that the border guards acted like assholes, but given the law and Watts's actions, they had to find him guilty.

One more reason out of hundreds (1)

Chicken_Kickers (1062164) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552322)

One more reason out of hundreds to not go to the US of A, land of the free. I am compiling a list of reasons on why I should never go visit the US. This is just another entry on to the list: asshole paranoid-xenophobic-megalomaniac border officials. I come from Malaysia. My country borders Thailand's volatile southern regions. We have military checkpoints, military road blocks, army bases and soldiers with heavy weapons in APC's patrolling the Malaysia-Thai border. On the side of the Thai border, there are massacres, bombings, shootings and assassinations. Yet, I am treated with professional courtesy while crossing the border to Thailand by Malaysian and Thai Customs officers and back again. Same thing when I cross over to Singapore. This Peter Watts case shows how paranoid and "trigger happy" the US government and people have become, no doubt due to their government's shoot first, cowboy sheriff mentality.

No, he was not (1)

kithrup (778358) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551782)

He was convicted of obstruction -- because after getting out of the car in which he was repeatedly assaulted (that is, struck in the face by the officer), he did not immediately drop to the ground when ordered to do so.

"Convicted of assault" is very misleading (5, Informative)

Hortensia Patel (101296) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551816)

From Watts' own blog [rifters.com]:

Here at the Sarnia Best Western I don't have the actual statute in front of me but it includes a lengthy grab-bag of actions, things like "assault", "resist", "impede", "threaten", "obstruct" -- hell, "contradict" might be in there for all I know. And under "obstruct" is "failure to comply with a lawful order", and it's explicitly stated that violence on the part of the perp is not necessary for a conviction. Basically, everything from asking "Why?" right up to chain-saw attack falls under the same charge. And it's all a felony.

Making Light put it more caustically [nielsenhayden.com]:

Peter Watts has been found guilty of being assaulted by a border guard. The actual charge was obstructing a border officer. The other charges were refuted in court, but there remained the fact that Watts, having just been punched twice in the head, did not immediately drop to the ground when ordered to do so, instead asking what the problem was. Apparently, this is a felony.

Re:"Convicted of assault" is very misleading (3, Informative)

Bartab (233395) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551968)

Both the blogs are biased, uninformative, and basically uninteresting.

Furthermore, the source chosen for the slashdot posting seems to have been searched for and specifically chosen so as to be the least informative and lacking in interest. A better one is at Toronto Star [thestar.com]

Among the information in that paper is a statement by Watts that the trial was fair, and a direct contradiction to "Making Light's" timeline of events.

Re:"Convicted of assault" is very misleading (2, Insightful)

Hortensia Patel (101296) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552140)

Watts' blog is biased, uninformative, and basically uninteresting, so... you link instead to the Toronto Star quoting that same blog, and quote the quote of that blog just for good measure?

At least the Star's description - resisting and obstructing, not assault - is an improvement on the Slashdot one.

The ML post, I'll grant, was exaggerating a little for the sake of snark.

Re:"Convicted of assault" is very misleading (2, Interesting)

Random Data (538955) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552216)

Perhaps you should go back to the grandparent and the parent, and read Watts' own words. He states that he has no problem with the trial, judge, defense, prosecutor, jury or even the guards conduct in court. It's the law itself in this case, which says that if you don't immediately comply with a command you are guilty of assaulting a police officer. That's what he's been convicted of, and although not happy he claims he will abide by the court's decision. It might be interesting to grab the transcript. Watts claims that the jury asked if non-compliance was sufficient to convict. That sounds to me like they weren't entirely happy about having to find him guilty, but followed the law as written. Non-compliance in this case is asking "what's the problem?", instead of immediately lying down after being hit in the face. I understand that there is video evidence of this, but until the FOIA request from the media is resubmitted and the footage obtained, that'll be something only those directly involved can comment on.

Re:"Convicted of assault" is very misleading (1)

Cederic (9623) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552024)

So surely there's an appeal possible around a plea of self-defence, and indeed remarkable constraint in not putting the border guard's head through his car window?

the problem... (3, Insightful)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551840)

is twofold:

1. what he was found guilty of is that of obstructing the border guard from doing his job. and that part of the law is so vague, that simply asking what the problem is can be seen as obstruction.

2. the jury was not there to consider the guard behavior, but about point 1.

so in essence, watts was screwed from the moment his car got stopped while leaving USA (yep, he had gotten in just fine, it was while going back to canada that the trouble started).

Re:the problem... (3, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551904)

I visited the US with my then girlfriend in 1997. We applied for visas at the US consulate in Melbourne, Australia. We had such a bad experience at the consulate that I am sure it would have ended as badly as this if we had been in the US at the time.

But then we entered the US at Newark and departed at Los Angeles and had no problems at all. The officials we interacted with were very polite and professional. I think its just the luck of the draw.

WTF did he expect? (0, Troll)

voodoo cheesecake (1071228) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551864)

FTFA: "Jones said that the officers ordered Watts back into the vehicle, and when he refused, they tried to handcuff him. He said a scuffle ensued in which Watts choked one of the officers, and an officer used pepper spray to subdue him." Gee, I don't really see how this is a big deal. He was pissed off that they searched his car - what else did he expect at a border crossing? Did he try to contact someone in the Canadian government because something wasn't right? No! Sounds like he was being an asshole for getting searched - duh! Being pissed off in front of border guards anywhere in the world draws attention and you leave yourself open for whatever.

My Obligatory Anarcho-Capitalist Rant... (0)

AlexLibman (785653) | more than 4 years ago | (#31551870)

In a rational society, border guards would be convicted of an assault on him!

The "border" between Vermont and Québec is no different than the border between your property and your neighbor's, except that your ownership of your land is based on the Natural Right to property that stems from the fact that specific human action brought that land into the human economy, and you either are the person who took that action (the original homesteader) or you've acquired that land through a chain of (hopefully) voluntary exchanges. The government's claim over land is not based on empirical economic facts (evolutionary pragmatism being the only axiom of free market capitalism), the government's claims come from nothing more than the barrel of a gun!

And shame on that jury for being 12 nitpicked butt-kissers who've never heard of the right (and their obligation) to Jury Nullification [wikipedia.org]. They're not there as legal scholars or cheerleaders for the judge, they're there as the final check and balance on the legal system that supersedes the authority of law itself! I hope each of those jurors gets pulled over and arrested for untermenschen ohne papieren due to a bizarre case of bureaucratic /*FAIL*/. No man has the right to detain another outside the detainer's property and without evidence that the detainee might have initiated aggression. And this government doesn't have any more a right to stop people on the "borders" (which it doesn't actually own) than the Nazi thugs had the right to do the same on the streets of Berlin!

Re:My Obligatory Anarcho-Capitalist Rant... (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552034)

Juries are human computers. They aren't supposed to weigh the evidence in any larger context. Similarly, when Peter Watts was asked to comply, he thought instead of reacting.

Having experienced US justice... (2, Interesting)

YankDownUnder (872956) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552338)

I obviously grew up and spent most of my life in the US. Michigan is where I hail from. Being from a "poorer" stock than most middle-of-the-road Americans, I saw and experienced a completely different side of the justice system - starting with the police. I have, MANY times, been in a situation where I was assaulted by police, abused, jailed - for literally nothing. I also know from family experience - both my grandfathers were Detroit policemen, several of my uncles were police, marshalls and Feds - that there was at that time (from the 70's) and onwards a "fascist" and "paramilitary" mentality within the multitude of "law enforcement" agencies. Whether or not Mr. Watts is innocent or guilty, no one seems to want to point to the fact that millions (yes, millions) of people on a day to day basis are abused by law enforcement, given unfair trials with uncaring legal support, and have no means by which to be compensated. There are many that are within the penal system that should not be there at all - jailed for menial crimes and/or charges and these people have really no means by which to fight back. As far as the respectability of "the officers on duty", I would start with questioning their personal attitudes. I'm more than well familiar with that particular "border crossing" as well as the "border crossing" in Detroit - for the tunnel and the bridge. Neither of these places is hostile - it's Canada for God's sake - so there's definitely more to the picture than meets the eye.

With the way juries and persecutors are (3, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552366)

If a cop socks you in the face for no reason, and decides to bring you up on charges for "resisting a police officer", you'll be convicted on the grounds that your face impeded the free movement of the cop's fist. (and no, I'm not exaggerating).

Any juror who won't essentially agree to convict will be dismissed during voir dire.

Travesty (1)

trurl7 (663880) | more than 4 years ago | (#31552414)

This case is a pathetic travesty of justice. The border guards could have raped him, his wife, shot his kids, and as long as they had previously "instructed" him to comply, and he acted exactly as he had in reality, he STILL would be in the same position as he is today. And, more absurdly, the jury would still have been able to use the "well, he didn't follow instructions, so, as the law was explained to us, he was guilty". This is a sick collusion between members of the justice system. No judge wants to prosecute the police or any law enforcement officer. This is what's happening here.

This case sticks. The border cops who knew they are untouchable, the DA who is pushed this, the judge who 'instructed' the jury, the whole bloody lot of them stink. And the jurors who went along with it, the 'peers' who were the man's final line of defense let him down. They are moral cowards.

This stinks.

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