Saturday, April 03, 2010

Wikipedia Edit Wars, and YFZ (or, why the FLDS is losing)-UPDATED

Popular perception in opinion and political wars, is everything.
The following is an example of subtle vandalism, and evidence that someone is watching, and erasing as we go.
Wikipedia - "On February 10, 2010, Arizona prosecutor Matt Smith agreed not to use any evidence seized from the YFZ raid at the upcoming trial of Warren Jeffs. Jeffs is awaiting trial in Arizona on four counts of being an accomplice to sexual conduct with a minor, charges filed in 2007."
Except, that's not the original edit, and entry. It's been changed.

Those who know how Wikipedia works know that such reference material is largely a "substantiated perception" of an event, not a historical record. Wikipedia becomes very useful in documenting what most people believe, seasoned strongly with what evidence is available, to back that up. Though timely and readily available, Wikipedia is often subject to a sort of vandalism similar to the "unpersoning" mentioned in a previous post on this subject.

The above referenced quote from Wikipedia is a subtle lie. It is also vandalism. I know. I wrote the original edit that stated specifically that Judge Steven Conn ruled YFZ evidence inadmissible and the raid unlawful ("illegal"). While this is an opinion, it is also fact, and it also can be documented from the online record on the case. Someone has come in, and changed the entry to show what FLDS enemies want us to believe about Judge Conn's ruling. They want us to believe that it was a Stipulation on the part of the prosecution, that it wouldn't use YFZ evidence, something Matt Smith tried to pawn off on the defense and Judge Conn, and something Judge Conn scathingly rejected.

It was a Stipulation alright, but to the motion of the defense, that the evidence be suppressed, because the raid was unlawful (read also, "illegal"). Then the equivocation began that because Matt had offered a "Stipulation" before, and because the word "Stipulation" was being used, that it was the same thing. Matt in fact, reversed field, came before the court, and agreed that the defense was right, and the matter on which Judge Conn INSISTED he would rule, was in fact, ruled on. When the defense cries "foul" that the raid was unlawful ("illegal") and demands that the evidence be "suppressed" in the form of a motion, and a Judge who is already dubious about that evidence has in his hand a "Stipulation" from the prosecution, as to that defense motion being valid, and he insists on RULING, it shouldn't come as a surprise, that he does rule.

And Judge Conn DID. GRANTING the motion of the defense. RULING that the evidence was UNLAWFULLY ("ILLEGALLY") obtained and suppressing the evidence.

The way the Wikipedia entry now reads, you'd think Judge Conn agreed to this offer (Stipulation) on the part of the defense.
"COMES NOW, the State of Arizona, by the Mohave County Attorney, and hereby agrees to stipulate to not using any evidence seized from the State of Texas including any materials seized specifically by Texas law enforcement during the April, 2008, search of the 'YFZ Ranch'. The State agrees at this time in order to avoid an Evidentiary Hearing in this case in February, that it will not use any evidence seized by the Texas authorities from the YFZ Ranch in its' case-in-chief, during cross-examination of any called defense witnesses or as rebuttal evidence. IN summary, the State will agree not to use this evidence for any purpose whatsoever in either of the two cases pending against the Defendant, Warren Jeffs. The State believes that this should take care of the pending Evidentiary Hearing and there should be no need to proceed with said hearing at any time.

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED THIS 21st day of January, 2010.

Judge Conn ANGRILY rejected that notion.
"The Court does not know what, if anything, to read into the fact that this offer is being made in the form of a pleading filed with the Court rather than a communication with opposing counsel."
Imagine the preceding "offer" (which Conn labels as being misidentified as a "pleading") had been read and understood in Court. Conn is handing the piece of paper BACK to Smith and saying "What do you want me to do with this nonsense?" He doesn't want an answer, the remark is rhetorical. Conn goes on to say:
"This Court, of course, has no authority to make the parties stipulate to anything."
Interpretation? "Matt, if you didn't want an evidentiary hearing on YFZ evidence, you should have sought out Michael Piccarreta and made a deal with him that he could believe in, not to use the evidence. If he was convinced you were sincere, he wouldn't have bothered to make his motion, but you didn't.

In addition, if you found the evidence suspect, why did you go to Texas to look at it, and confuse the issue? Judge Conn again:
"The defense motion was filed more than a year ago."
This is critical, because it identifies for us, the reader, WHICH motion it is, of the defense, to which Conn is referring. Matt Smith initially fought that motion to suppress, made on September 3rd, 2008. There were no other motions made about the evidence, as Conn indicates, "more than a year ago."
"The Court would have hoped that if an agreement were going to be reached eliminating the necessity of a hearing on the motion such agreement could have been reached a long time ago. The Court has had the impression that the State was not exactly sure what their position was as to evidence seized in the Texas search."
Translation? "You're wasting my time Matt, and you don't look like you know what you're doing." Conn goes on to rip into the State of Arizona for wasting the valuable time of the Court:
"The Court has set aside a week on its calendar to resolve this issue."
Conn restates to Matt (who already knows this, so it is a LECTURE), what the purpose of an evidentiary hearing IS, a "Trial of the Evidence."
"The Court intends to conduct the evidentiary hearing as it would a jury trial, clearing its calendar and devoting its daily calendar to this hearing until it is completed."
(You haven't just inconvenienced ME (Judge Conn) Matt, and this Court, but everyone who has business before it.)
"The Court has already made dozens of scheduling decisions in other cases, many involving parties who wanted to schedule trials or other hearings as soon as possible, based on the assumption that the week of February 16, 2010, was unavailable for scheduling purposes."
Now the more subtle "codespeak." What Conn says here is; "Matt, if you're going to agree to the motion of the defense, or if the defense withdraws it's motion, I'll cancel the hearing. Otherwise, it's on like Donkey Kong bub."
"(If) the Court is advised unequivocally that this hearing is unnecessary, it will assume that it is going as scheduled. It is much easier to cancel a hearing at the last moment than to try to reschedule it. However, the Court hopes that the parties will have enough respect for the Court's scheduling concerns that if this hearing is going to be vacated upon mutual consent the Court will be so advised as soon as possible."
Conn is being superficially polite as well, since it is not Michael Piccarreta that is causing the problem, but Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith.

Now the stage is properly set. For Conn to back off, and accept the "Stipulation" offered that he ridicules brutally above, he would have to make an embarrassing about face. He just said "Like HELL" to Smith's piece of paper, that he derisively dismisses as a "offering."

Why the sudden offer of a "Stipulation" by Matt Smith? Piccarreta was plunging ahead full speed, issuing subpoenas to Sheriff David Doran (Texas), Texas Ranger Brooks Long (Texas), Deputy Allen Pashano (of Arizona), and Probation Officer Bill Loader (Arizona), two days before.

It has been derisively snorted that subpoenas to Texas LE would be ignored and worthless, but this is what both Texas and Arizona have been trying to avoid. If Doran and Long don't show up to go under oath, the motion to suppress will carry. If they do, it was widely speculated that they would being in an awkward position, having a lot to answer for under oath. A real danger to both men and to all the YFZ cases.

It is thus believed on both sides of the YFZ controversy, that the Texas witnesses (Doran and Long) would not show up. If they did, the FLDS would have a virtual gold mine to work with. They're not coming, (I speculate and the opposition agrees) so at the moment the subpoenas were issued, Arizona loses the evidentiary hearing, and it's all over. The "offering" that Conn refers to was a desperate last ditch ploy on the part of a brave Matt Smith, who is willing to make himself look foolish for Texas in front of a Court in which he must appear again, and again. In front of a Judge he does not wish to convince, that he, Matt Smith, is foolish.

Michael Piccarreta then draws up another Stipulation. This is also critical. The previous "Stipulation" filed in the form of a "pleading" before the Court, scathingly dismissed by Judge Conn as an "offering" with which he did not know what to do is off the table. THIS "Stipulation" is crafted by Warren Jeffs' attorneys, and says quite simply that Matt Smith now unconditionally surrender, and stipulate to Warren's motion of September 3rd, 2008. The motion to suppress.
"Plaintiff, State of Arizona, by and through its attorney, Matthew J. Smith, and defendant, Warren Jeffs, by and through his attorneys, Michael L. Piccarreta and Richard A. Wright, stipulate as follows:

1. That defendant's motion to suppress evidence obtained in the search that occurred at property belonging to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS) near El Dorado, Texas (YFZ Ranch) beginning on April 3, 2008, and continuing thereafter is granted.

2. That evidence obtained thereby is suppressed and the State agrees that it will not use any evidence obtained as a result of the search of the YFZ Ranch, directly or indirectly, in his case-in-chief, during cross-examination of any called defense witnesses, as rebuttal evidence, or for any purpose whatsoever.

3. That, in light of the foregoing, the hearing on Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence Obtained in Unlawful Searches of FLDS Property, currently set for February 17 and 18, 2010, is hereby vacated."
This "Stipulation" is WRITTEN by Jeffs' Law Firm, specifically states the raid to be "Unlawful." It was signed first by Jeffs' attorneys and in essence, pushed across the table to Matt Smith who signed it in a surrender as unconditional as that of Japan on V-J Day.

On page 26 of the Original Motion, it says this:

"For the foregoing reasons, the defendant, Warren Jeffs, by and through his counsel undersigned, hereby respectfully requests this Court to issue its order suppressing all the evidence obtained, directly or indirectly, as a result of the unlawful searches of FLDS church property in Eldorado, Texas.

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED this 2nd day of September, 2008."

The only person now, who can stop the raid being ruled unlawful, is Judge Conn, and he doesn't:
"The parties have filed a Stipulation, and good cause appearing, the Court signs the Stipulation and adopts the terms thereof."
The terms are that of the defense, and involve granting the motion to Suppress (above), and suppressing the Evidence, obtained in an unlawful search, never to be used in any way directly or indirectly.

And so history is marred, vandalized if you will. If you read the altered Wikipedia entry, you'd think Matt Smith just "agreed" not to use the evidence, as he offered, and was rudely rejected by the Court.

The Evidence was SUPPRESSED in Arizona. The raid was agreed to be UNLAWFUL by Arizona. That has sweeping future implications for that same evidence, and it's use already in convictions obtained in Texas. That fact was part of the original entry on YFZ at Wikipedia, and now the lie is promulgated that Matt Smith simply "isn't going to use it," promoting other various causes such as "Warren is guilty as sin and Arizona doesn't need the evidence from YFZ to prove it."

You can find a similar acknowledgment at the Texas Blog "Grits for Breakfast," that clearly recognizes exactly the same thing, spelled out above.

So why does this mean the FLDS are losing? Because when popular perception is wholly distorted on the raid, it is simply easier for Judges to ignore the law, and rule in a way that makes the populace happy.

The populace believes that the FLDS convicted are bad men, is forgetting about Rozita and doesn't know that once you get outside of Walther's courtroom, the evidence used so far in FLDS convictions, has been thrown out.

When it gets to the appeal, Judges, who are supposedly not political, will find it all too tempting to be, political. When that happens, no one will care. They have already forgotten. Wikipedia is important, because it shows that someone with an ax to grind has a vested interest in making sure that the truth stays forgotten.

That's because "they" believe it will influence the final outcome, and they are right.

UPDATE: I attempted to edit the Wikipedia page on YFZ, but the edit lasted about 5 minutes, and was "corrected" back to the misleading entry. The edit had cites linking to the Mohave County Courts site, documenting with exactly quoted language from the motions, what had in fact occurred.

The dates are still wrong, the implication of the article is still that Matt Smith "Agreed" not to use the evidence from YFZ, despite the fact that he gave up, laid down, and allowed it to be ruled inadmissible (suppressed).

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