Sunday, June 16, 2024

Waldoboro Day - Happy Father's Day Shane!

We went to Waldoboro before going to visit Shane at the Maine prison in Warren yesterday afternoon. There was an event going on, Waldoboro Day...taking place at the Miller School where two of my four grandchildren attend. Pete and I have not seen our grandsons or heard their voices in about three years. Their mother is Andrea Picard.

As luck would have it, as we arrived I saw my now 10 year old grandson walking down the street with his mother on their way out of the event. I didn't see his younger brother, but Andrea was pushing a stroller, which I assume the boys' stepbrother was in.

While my husband went to park, I got out of the car, and proceded to jog down the street so we could connect before approaching the main road. As soon as she saw me she began dialing police apparently. She didn't have to do that, as there was a game warden more or less escorting me. He he had been parked at the entrance of the event...and noticed me heading in that direction a bit hurriedly. 

I hollered out to my grandson that his father is in jail... but that he loves him and his brother, and that we love them too. While waiting for Pete to come and get me, I spoke with the game warden, and Andrea simply strolled away. 

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Maine prisoners launch hunger strike

Here's the address for Shane in case anyone wants to write him:

Shane Michaud # 72847
807 Cushing Road, 
Warren, Maine 04864-4600

From the homepage of the Department of Corrections' website under Family and Friends, you can deposit funds for commissary. 

You need the inmate's MDOC # and date of birth. Shane's info is 
MDOC #72847 and D.O.B. 9-24-88.

There are certain rules to follow if you write, like no colored paper. Only blue or black ink, etc... click here for the rules first.  

The rules for visiting are there too. Shane calls me about once a week. He gets a free 5 minute phone call. Why they don't allow prisoners more phone time is... well it's criminal! Hearing from family and friends is important to rehabilitation and to prisoners' morale.

I just found out that some of the inmates began protesting conditions there in Warren on Thursday! By Evan Popp, Maine State Prison residents launch hunger strike over conditions they call solitary confinement

Shane has stated at times he's only allowed out for a very short time each day, due to staff shortages apparently. 

Randall Liberty is the Commissioner at the state prison, and fairly new at that job; however, was previously the warden there. Liberty was a guest on the Maine podcast "Let's Talk About It" 

I might write to him. Criminal defendants who are facing jail time, and those who are already incarcerated while waiting for their "speedy trial" have a constitutional right to have counsel, effective counsel, appointed to them...and Maine is being sued for failing to provide it.

And according to a Portland Press Herald story: ‘It’s incredibly stressful:’ Aroostook defendants say weeks spent without attorneys makes defense impossible. Yeah there are even fewer lawyers there. Maybe that's because in 2008 and 2010 the Maine Supreme Court crushed Husson College in Bangor's hope of educating students to become lawyers. 

It all boils down to the American Bar Association's strict position/policy, whatever: they want professors to be tenured. And Husson stopped giving lifetime appointments to professors long ago. 

Attorney General Aaron Frey said he wasn't familiar with the Maine Supreme Court rulings, when I mentioned it during an interview Jennifer Rooks conducted with him on Maine Calling last Thursday. I was the last caller to speak. 

It will be of little avail to the poeple that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read or so incoherent that they cannot be understood. 

                                                      ~James Madison

Portland Press Herald: ‘It’s incredibly stressful:’ Aroostook defendants say weeks spent without attorneys makes defense impossible

Shane sentenced - 9 years

St. Agatha man involved in 2022 shooting to serve nine years in prison...and 6 years probation. 

The shooting occured at around 5:30 a.m. Do you think they were just waking up? When I discovered the name of the individual who Shane allegedly shot, I googled his name: Justin Steggall. 

Justin L. Steggall, 24, Van Buren: motor vehicle speeding, 30-plus mph over the speed limit, 60 days in jail; failing to stop for an officer, 60 days in jail; driving to endanger, 60 days in jail, license suspended 30 days, $575 fine; operating while license suspended or revoked, prior, 60 days in jail, $500 fine.

Caribou Criminal Docket – February 2022

Justin L. Steggall, 26, Van Buren: Operating after habitual offender revocation, $1,000 fine; six months in jail; violating condition of release, 30 days in jail.

Justin L. Steggall, 26, Van Buren: Violating condition of release, 30 days in jail; permit unlawful use, $150 fine.

Justin L. Steggall, 26, Van Buren: Unlawful possession of methamphetamine, $400 fine, nine months one day in prison; violating condition of release, 30 days in jail.

So, if he was sentenced and served 9 months, he would have just been released when the shooting occured in November of 2022. He was indicted again, in May of 2023, well after the shooting. 

Grand Jury hands up May indictments 

Justin L. Steggall, 27, Limestone: aggravated operating after habitual offender revocation (three counts), eluding an officer, operating after revocation, criminal speed, driving to endanger and operating an unregistered vehicle.

Disenfranchised? Not ME

Texas appeals court overturns Crystal Mason’s conviction, 5-year sentence for illegal voting

“We are relieved for Ms. Mason, who has waited for too long with uncertainty about whether she would be imprisoned and separated from her family for five years simply for trying to do her civic duty,” said Thomas Buser-Clancy, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Texas. 

Maine and Vermont are the only two states where anyone can vote. Other states prohibit prisoners, or individuals who've been convicted of certain felonies from voting; the total of disenfranchised individuals is 5.85 million.

Maine and Vermont are also the safest...although if you were to factor in corruption by government and local officials, judges, etc., I'm sure Maine would not rank as highly.

Here's a report from the Business Insider: The 20 safest states in the US, ranked

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Investigation into Lewiston mass shooting

Who was Robert Card? Confirmed details on Maine gunman

Governor Mills established an Independent Commission to investigate the Lewiston mass shooting (ICL) last fall after there were apparent failures by law enforcement and other individuals who may have held the key to prevention. 

The Commission held its first public hearing on November 20, 2023 and I attended. I got the opportunity to speak, and took it. The meetings were recorded and are available at the Maine government webpage for the Commission. I come in at around 10:35 a.m.  

The Commission is chaired by Daniel Wathen, a former chief justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. Wathen is from Aroostook County, like me. Easton being his home town, it's just a few miles from where the sun first rises in the United States; depending on the time of year, it's Cadillac Mountain or Mars Hill. 

Even open government laws like the Sunshine Act have some exceptions. And when oversight exists it's often unrushed and/or unproductive, or self-policed by the actual individual complained about, or by those with close ties to them.

When I began to voice my dissatisfaction with certain past decisions made by the Commission members who are former judicial officers of Maine courts, Wathen tried to silence me, saying it was irrelevant. 

The ability to hold judges, lawyers, law enforcement officers, and other government employees accountable for blatant and harmful decisions is relevant to the investigation, and to the work the public expects of the Commission. 

I mentioned the case Kingsbury v. Forbes, which was a 1998 Maine Supreme Court decision, which got there after it was dismissed, maybe with prejudice, in superior court; I can't remember. The dissent (disagreement) in the case was written by Justice Dana, and Justices Roberts and Clifford agreed with it; here's the last of three paragraphs of the dissent. Daniel Wathen, chair of the ICL, was the chief justice then and in the majority decision:  

Kingsbury v. Forbes (1998)

[¶ 11] A pro se party who has complied with the requirements of the rules and reasonably has placed the responsibility for the next step in the proceedings in the hands of the court, in my opinion, has demonstrated the good cause necessary to prevent dismissal pursuant to M.R.Civ.P. 41(b). Holding pro se litigants involved in small claims actions to the technical requirements of Rule 41(b) in circumstances where the court system has failed to fulfill its own responsibilities defeats the goal of providing a litigant-friendly procedure to resolve small claims disputes. I would therefore vacate the judgment of the Superior Court. 

As for Gorman, she's ruled against me and members of my family, violating our rights of due process of the law. You'll find my past posts regarding her by using the search bar in the top left corner of my blog's homepage.

Regarding Rushlau, read this: Former Lincoln County Employee Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit. According to the Bangor Daily News story, Chastity Krah was a victim witness advocate who in 2016 sued multiple individuals including Geoffrey Rushlau, who was then District Attorney for four Maine counties. 

Rushlau forced her to resign in December 2014 under false and misleading pretenses

I believe that between the time the lawsuit was filed and settlements were reached, is when then-governor Paul LePage appointed and the Maine Senate confirmed Rushlau to the District Court in Wiscasset...lucky me. 

Wiscasset District Court is where I had to go to try to defend myself in May of 2022 against false claims of harassment (WISDC-PA-2022-00071) by my son's ex-girlfriend, Andrea Picard. Rushlau granted her a  Protection from Abuse order. 

In the meeting, I mention how Andrea imprisoned me: restrained my movement by leaving her children with me when I hadn't agreed to supervise and couldn't reach her for days. Shane wasn't always able to care for them when he lived with us due to his drug use. I could've applied for a protection order against her, but didn't. She later moved to Waldoboro with her new boyfriend, whose parents live nearby; and she has kept Pete and I from our grandsons for almost three years now. 

Andrea had also placed a PFA on Shane, who is now incarcerated after an altercation of some sort with Justin Steggall. I'll write about that in another post; this one is already too long.

My four grandchildren in 2020, when we took them to Aroostook County to visit my relatives, and hers! 

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Shocking Announcement

Sergeant criticized for handling of Robert Card prior to mass shooting running against sheriff.

Parents convicted of involuntary manslaughter

There's some eerily similar facts in the Crumbley case, to the Maine mass shooting last fall in Lewiston. Ethan Crumbley's mother and father were charged with involuntary manslaughter in Oakland County, Michigan, and convicted in February and March, 2024:

From an NBC news story about the Crumbleys by Eric Ortiz and Corky Siemaszko

While neither James nor Jennifer Crumbley knew their son Ethan was plotting a deadly attack at his high school, they both failed in their legal responsibilities to help prevent it.

Here's what the Commission investigating the mass shooting in Lewiston last fall in which 18 people were killed, stated in it's 30 page Initial Interim Report a few days ago. 

The Commission is unanimous in finding that in September 2023, the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office (hereinafter SCSO) had sufficient probable cause to take Robert Card Jr. into protective custody under Maine’s Yellow Flag1 law and to remove his firearms and that the SCSO had probable cause to believe that Mr. Card posed a likelihood of serious harm. 

When public safety officials who we're paying to protect us fail in their duties... to be continued.

Monday, March 18, 2024

Kentucky ruling favors felons

From Judge dismisses gun charge against convicted felon; ruled as unconstitutional (WAVE, 3/15/24) by Natalia Martinez:

Prohibiting a convicted felon from possessing a gun is unconstitutional, according to a Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge’s ruling

Martinez reports the defendant, Jecory Frazier, "has been in and out of custody on a number of cases." 

The problem is many people are being released from jails and prisons though they are dangerous, despite they might not ever have been labeled a "felon." Without the proper supports to make changes in their environments when released, some revert to their former life of crime.

On the other hand many people who've committed non-violent crimes which have been classified as felonies, have been stripped of their gun rights. If you are a marijuana user you must report that on question 21 f of the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' form 4473; and if you admit it, I believe your application would be denied. 

The federal "Firearms Transaction Record" as revised in August of 2023 is 7 pages, including about 4 pages of disclosures and explanations. 


2018 Maine settlement involved "more than a dozen police officers and prosecutors."

From the Portland Press Herald story

Former Gouldsboro resident Vladek Filler already reached a $375,000 settlement against more than a dozen police officers and prosecutors.

If you can't access that story because you don't have a subscription to the Portland Maine newspaper, here's a link to Filler's story at the National Registry of Exonerations.

And a summary at the website for WABI 5

In 2011, I blogged about this, and tried to help. You can use the search bar; use the keywords Filler petition.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

A Jab at the Bar

Abraham Lincoln was a self-taught lawyer. How ironic, that The Maine Supreme Judicial Court - if Lincoln was alive today - would not allow him to practice law in Maine. States that do allow students to practice law, who've graduate from non-ABA-accredited schools, limit the cases they can litigate. An article at the Cleveland State University, tells what some of the pros and cons are:  

The short-term benefits of attending unaccredited law schools are outweighed by the realities of the legal profession. The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBEX) found that 23 states and territories required completion of ABA-accredited law degrees for bar exam eligibility. Graduates of non-ABA accredited law schools limit where they can practice law from the start.

It's not like an individual is going to behave in a more ethical manner if he graduates from an ABA-accredited school than one who hasn't.

I was reading some of the decisions by The Maine Board of Bar Examiners today. One applicant, who wanted to practice law in Maine, had fraudulently married a man in 2010 so that he could stay in the United States: immigration fraud. She divorced him in 2013 so she could marry her boyfriend. I had to laugh when I read the following in the Board's decision on May 23, 2023 decision denying certification: 

When asked at hearing whether it was accurate to describe herself as being fully cooperative with police in light of her removal of the handcuffs, Ms. McGonagle testified that it would have been uncooperative if police had specifically told her not to remove the handcuffs. 

Now that's the kind of response I'd expect from a lawyer, and I might even hire her... and fire the police officer who didn't properly apply the handcuffs. 

The Board is sympathetic to those who have remorse and who have changed their ways. Apparently, the reason the Board denied McGonagle's application for a Certificate of Qualification on May 12, 2023:  

At every turn since 2010, Ms. McGonagle chose deception over candor. 

Despite her past, she'd been hired to work as a law clerk in Superior Court of York County, for two justices. When interviewed for the position in 2020 she wasn't asked about her past evidently. And in the summer of 2021 Allison took the Bar exam and passed it. 

Being of good moral character a supposed necessity to practice law in Maine, Allison appealed the Board's decision; she did that within days of getting their decision. Efficiency is a good skill for an attorney to have.

On August 31 a hearing was held, and on September 25, 2023 Justice Joseph Jabar remanded the case to the Board for issuance of a Certificate of Qualification! Surely having the two justices she clerked for, Mulhern and Douglas, testify on her behalf influenced the decision by the Maine Supreme Court justice.

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

The Elusive Safety Committee - Lewiston, Maine

The Commission investigating the Lewiston Maine mass shooting (ICL) met again on March 4. I attended and listened to the stories of victims who survived, and family members and friends of those who didn't. They want answers, so something like this doesn't happen again...and solutions.

I've been trying to find out the status of the safety committee which Mayor Sheline formed last fall, before the mass shooting. Just before the committee was formed there was an incident at the library which is located downtown, near City Hall. 

I want to participate in the meetings. Nobody has returned my phone calls, despite that I've left messages a few times.

The mayor was at the March 4 ICL meeting. Before it got underway, he walked over to where I had just sat. I gave him a business card for my cleaning business, PJM Cleaning; and I wrote the name of this blog on the back. I told him that I've had some interactions with Lewiston police lately...and some were not good. I couldn't go into details. 

After the meeting, which lasted from 9 am until 1 pm, I walked around the room asking who I should contact about the going-ons of the Safety Committee. A man pointed to Brian O'Malley. He's the Deputy City Administrator for Lewiston, and the man said, a former police chief of Lewiston. 

I approached O'Malley, tried to speak with him about the safety committee, and offered my card; but he would not take it, and couldn't get away fast enough. It appears that the public didn't want law enforcement involved, but they were later included. It doesn't matter because they aren't holding any meetings anyway. 

Lewiston police union president speaks out against mayor's advisory committee

Under new City Council, Lewiston staff to serve on mayor’s community safety committee

Lewiston officials say public library is secure after employee assaul

Monday, March 4, 2024

"Speedy Trial" Act

The 131st Maine Legislature

Legislative Document LD 1771 - An Act Regarding Speedy Trials

From the Summary of the bill:

This bill establishes time limits for the commencement of a defendant's criminal trial and provides remedies for when the time limits have been violated.

The Legal Director for the ACLU of Maine, Carol Garvan, supports the bill. Ten other individuals gave testimony to the Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary, on May 10, 2023. You can read those here.

The only person who was neither for or against the bill was Andrea Mancuso, Public Policy Director of the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence (MCEDV). And I agree with her. You can read her testimony here.

Passing the bill isn't going to guarantee that the constitutional rights of indigent criminal defendants don't get violated. There's been a lack of private attorneys willing to take on such cases in Maine for many years. A public defender's office was finally funded, and opened late in 2023; I learned about 
The Capital Region Public Defender's Office at Maine Public's website.

However, constitutional rights are being violated in other ways, such as flawed police arrests and investigations, prosecutors and attorneys holding back exculpatory evidence, plea bargains made under duress (all of them are actually), and uneducated, uninformed and/or dishonest jurors convicting defendants. 

The entire justice system needs overhauling. Rules are different depending on a person's wealth! Yes cash bail discriminates against the poor. Here are a few interesting reads about bail and bail reform:

And violations of due process of the law certainly exist in small claims cases and civil trials as well as in criminal cases and trials.

While I think the current crisis needs a solution, I don't agree the solution is to just set the accused free without the possibility of ever being tried for the alleged crime. If you scroll to the bottom of LD 1771, you'll see that's the proposed remedy.

§1493. Remedy for noncompliance with time limit

If a trial does not commence within the time established by statute, the case shall be dismissed with prejudice.