Chuck Turner remains a convicted felon
A federal appeals court today upheld former City Councilor Chuck Turner's conviction for attempted extortion and perjury.
Turner had sought a new trial on the extortion charge - related to a $1,000 payment from a Roxbury businessman. Although Turner did not appeal his three perjury convictions, he argued his overall three-year prison sentence - only six months less than former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, who pleaded guilty to more charges - was based on vindictiveness by prosecutors over his pre-sentencing allegations of racism.
In its ruling today, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston said the perjury helped bolster the government's case that Turner was guilty of accepting a bribe, by showing he had something to hide. It ruled Turner got a fair trial, that the judge did not err in instructions to the jury and that the sentence could have been even higher than it was.
A key issue was $1,000 in marked bills "cooperating witness" Ron Wilburn gave Turner as part of his bid to obtain a liquor license for a proposed Roxbury supper club. Turner initially agreed to call for a council hearing on possible racism in how city liquor licenses were doled out - then canceled his request after hearing Wilburn was working with state Sen. Diannne Wilkerson to get a license approved by the legislature.
At the August 3 meeting, Wilburn repeatedly said that the $1,000 payment was an expression of his "gratitude" to Turner. On appeal, Turner uses these statements to argue that the $1,000 was merely a gratuity and that there was insufficient evidence that Turner agreed to perform ongoing official acts for Wilburn. There is strong evidence to the contrary, and the jury's verdict was amply supported.
On the vindictiveness charge, the court said:
The government's sentencing memorandum argued that Turner's out-of-court statements that his prosecution was racially motivated showed that he had not accepted responsibility, and the memorandum also referred to his perjury.
In addition, the district court explicitly stated that it had declined to consider Turner's public statements in coming to its sentencing decision, stating that it was not "likely to attach any significance one way or the other with respect to the question of Mr. Turner's assertions about the source of the prosecution . . . it is not weighing in the balance." The court based its sentence on Turner's offense conduct and his perjurious testimony and sentenced him within the guidelines. In discussing the basis for its sentence, the court gave a long and thoughtful analysis of Turner's conduct and the sentencing factors and concluded that a guidelines sentence of three years was appropriate. Turner has not shown prosecutorial vindictiveness in the government's sentencing recommendation. And the court made an independent sentencing decision based on the guidelines. Given the facts as found by the jury, the sentence was reasonable.
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Is still trying to blame the white man for his crime.
So, this this tool now going to have
to reimburse the government for the time and taxpayer's money that was totally wasted hearing this appeal?
Missing link: Pokaski and Miller
Guess the FBI wasn't curious about this part, or did Wilburn ever try to express "gratitude" to Pokaski?
Not just any attorney named Steven Miller
The Steven Miller, partner in McDermott, Quilty & Miller, the go-to law firm for anybody who wants to get a liquor license in Boston. Pokaski figured kind of prominently in the original FBI affidavit on Wilkerson.
They must have some really nice stationery
If that's all it took to change the licensing board's verdict. So ironic, in a way- turns out the licensing process was corrupt after all, just not racist like Turner was led to believe. Wilburn's bribe, apparently laundered through Miller, was just as good as any white business owner's in the end. Or maybe Pokaski and Miller were just "friends"- but that's sort of corrupt, too, isn't it? Seems licensing should be decided on the merits, right? So much bothers me about this still.
The economics of liquor licensing
Artificial scarcity creates irresistible opportunities for corruption to enter the system. Gee, who woulda ever predicted that?
Not to mention the politics of an appeals system
that's based on the premise of "oh, what if we made a mistake in finding the person guilty" without requiring any exculpatory evidence to actually prove the person convicted didn't commit the crime.
Once a person has been found guilty of a crime, the burden of proof in an appeal should be on that person to prove their innocence with exculpatory evidence, and not by using legal semantics like "I didn't like the judge's instructions to the jury"; "I don't like the fact my objections in the original trial were overruled by the judge"; "the foreperson of the jury was picking their nose during closing arguments", etc., etc., ."
Or the ever popular "I hired an lawyer that didn't win the case for me, so he was obviously incompetent. Gimme a new trial."
Yes, I know Turner lost the appeal. What is shameful is that he was able to appeal the conviction in the first place with such flimsy arguments.
That's not how reasonable doubt works
If the system makes a mistake and an innocent man is called guilty, it's still the system that has to prove its case in light of whatever aspect that the defendant wants to question. Otherwise, the innocent man is stuck proving the negative ("I didn't kill my wife!"). You can't prove negatives, but the state was required to prove the positive ("He killed his wife.") within reasonable doubt.
Look at it this way. Someone could claim that you and I are the same person in real life and that you just use 2 names to carry fake discussions in the comments here. They claim that you and I never simultaneously posted a comment from each account at the exact same time. Everyone else, after hearing that claim might decide it's a strong enough argument for them to believe it to be true.
Are you now required to figure out who I really am and come and take a picture side-by-side with me just to exonerate yourself as not faking discussions by having two accounts? Or is it reasonable just to ask the group to reconsider once you found out that the accuser didn't even look through all 4 years of archived comments to see if we did or didn't simultaneously post something before? (See, the thing is, who knows? Maybe we never did post simultaneously and their point still stands however poor it is as proof...but they shouldn't be allowed to just lie about having looked, right?)