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Meet the most prolific bail bondsman in Northern Virginia

Westlake Legal Group bounty-hunter-dave-gambale Meet the most prolific bail bondsman in Northern Virginia Profiles News & Updates Justice freedom bail bonds Finances Economy dave gambale Culture Features Culture cultural features criminal justice bounty hunter bail bondsman
Dave Gambale (Photo by Robert Merhaut)

Everybody loves freedom. That’s the catchy slogan emblazoned on the company car, a colorful Toyota SUV that the bounty hunters from Freedom Bail Bonding drive down to Florida to hunt down fugitives who jump bail. The cash bail industry is known for its fetching catchphrases, things like “in jail, we bail” and “you ring, we spring.” But “everybody loves freedom” seems a bit more universal in its appeal, a testament to truth, justice and the American way.

“We went to Georgia a couple of months ago and grabbed a guy,” says Dave Gambale, founder of Freedom Bail Bonding. “We used our gas and our time. We brought him back, and it didn’t cost the taxpayers anything.”

Freedom Bail Bonding pretty much owns the market in Fairfax County. For now. But that might change, with November’s local election shaking things up. Back in June, longtime incumbent Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Morrogh lost the Democratic primary to progressive challenger Steve Descano. In addition to running on a platform that includes eliminating the death penalty and not prosecuting marijuana possession, he ran on ending the cash bail system in Fairfax County.

“Having our prosecutors not ask for cash bond really does move the needle,” says Descano, who defeated independent candidate Jonathan Fahey in the general election in November. “We’ve seen that in Richmond and Charlottesville, where commonwealth’s attorneys have already started to implement this.”

Bail bondsmen in Virginia are kind of like a cross between a privatized sheriff’s office and a rouge insurance agent. They show up to the courthouse each Monday morning and sit through long dockets where all the people arrested over the weekend are processed. Because they get a 10% cut for every bail bond, they’re looking for judges to require a bond of $2,000 or more. Most bail bondsmen won’t bother with a transaction that earns less than $200.

This post originally appeared in our December 2019 issue. For similar profiles on NoVA residents, subscribe to our weekly newsletter. 

“If you have a warrant out of Fairfax County because you failed to appear but you live in Baltimore, Fairfax County is not going to go to Baltimore to get you,” says Gambale. “Someday, if you ever get pulled over or if you’re ever somewhere drunk and they run your name … ‘Oh wait a minute, you’ve got a warrant.’ That could take years.”

Critics say the system puts a price on justice, criminalizing poverty and separating poor people from their families and their jobs. Take, for example, a case where a judge sets a $5,000 bail. Wealthy people can typically pay the full amount and don’t need the services of the bondsman. Most people who find themselves behind bars don’t have easy access to cash. They can’t afford the $5,000 bail, money they would get back if they show up to court. But they probably can pay the $500 fee to the bail bondsman, money the bondsman gets to pocket.

“Think about what that does to somebody who can’t afford $5,000, to give $500 that they’re never going to get back for their freedom,” says Descano. “It pushes them more toward the line of poverty, which is going to push them more toward recidivism.”

Spending time with Gambale at the Fairfax County courthouse is kind of like watching a shadow branch of government in action. Strolling through the corridors of justice, judges ask him about his health and defense attorneys make small talk about the weather. Outside most courtrooms are tables and chairs where Gambale’s legion of employees have set up makeshift offices. Inside the courtrooms, they sit in the back with a list of defendants working the arraignment docket.

“They are selling security and buying risk,” says Richard Kelsey, former assistant dean at the George Mason School of Law. “They’re trying to pick up customers.”

Westlake Legal Group bounty-hunter-team-in-blue Meet the most prolific bail bondsman in Northern Virginia Profiles News & Updates Justice freedom bail bonds Finances Economy dave gambale Culture Features Culture cultural features criminal justice bounty hunter bail bondsman
Dave Gambale (center) and his team are based in NoVA, but have apprehended people all over the country.(Photo by Robert Merhaut)

The appearance of the bail bondsman in Fairfax courtrooms is so ubiquitous, it’s difficult to imagine how the system might work without them. But it is possible. Courthouses across the country are slowly shedding themselves of the practice, outlawing the business one docket at a time. Even in places that still allow bail bonding, some courts don’t give insurance salesmen free reign to walk through the courthouse like loan sharks looking for chum.

“In Fairfax, the bondsman can go into the courtroom and work the arraignment like a job,” says Vernon King, who runs a bail bonding company in Hanover. “Down here, that stuff doesn’t happen. We’re not allowed to do that.”

Fortunately for Freedom Bail Bonding, it has a secret weapon: Dave Gambale. He’s a man who seems larger than life, a character out of a movie that crosses Dog the Bounty Hunter with Judge Judy. He can be loud and obnoxious, aggressive and demanding, insulting and crude. Catch him at a reflective moment, though, and he can be thoughtful and even delicate. A native of Massachusetts, he still has a distinct North Shore accent that places him somewhere between Boston and New Hampshire.

“He’s Italian, so he’s a storyteller,” says King, a longtime friend. “And he’s a former Marine Corps drill instructor, so he’s tough, but he has a heart of gold. That dude would do anything for anybody on this planet if he could.”

Dave Gambale owns the bail bonding industry in Northern Virginia. There are other people who work the arraignment hearings. But there’s only one Freedom Bail Bonding, a massive operation that has five offices throughout the region and works in more than a dozen jurisdictions. Gambale started working for a bail bondsman in Prince William shortly after separating from the Marines, although a few weeks into the job he realized what it would take to start his own business. So, he drove to Florida and talked his way into a direct contract with the insurance company that helped finance his employer.

“They trusted me,” says Gambale with a smile. “I’m a visionary.”

The history of bail stretches hundreds of years, a time before prosecutors were even involved. Most crimes were private affairs, pitting one party against another. People who had been wronged were in court seeking money, not justice. Even murder cases could be settled by a fine paid to the victim’s family. Defendants were detained until a family member or friend provided a guarantee that the accused would show up in court. It wasn’t a perfect system, of course, and as early as the 1840s some were seeking reform.

“Is this state of law in harmony with the enlightened spirit of the age?” asked Virginia Governor William Smith in his 1846 annual message to the General Assembly. “I think not.”

The reform he was seeking would make the bond a lien on property. That way the courts could step in and embarrass the people who vouched for the bail jumpers by seizing their property. For the governor, it was a way to respond to the increasing problem of bail jumpers. In so many cases, he said in his annual message, “The apparent debtor is on the highway in search of a western home.” The governor’s reform turned out to be a quick fix for a problem that became more pronounced after the Civil War.

The modern bail bonding industry was created in the Wild West, where violence and aggression were anonymous. There were no family or friends to vouch for all the defendants sitting in jails after the bloody saloon fight. And they certainly couldn’t put up any property as a lien. So what was the solution? This is where two California bartenders step into history and change the face of the criminal justice system in America.

Peter and Thomas McDonough were brothers who worked at their father’s saloon in San Francisco, conveniently located near the Hall of Justice. It must have been a rough place because the clientele was always getting locked up for something, which hurt business. So they made a habit of putting up bail money. It started as a way to prevent losses, but they eventually realized it was a way to make money. After a while, the “Old Lady of Kearny Street” abandoned alcohol and specialized in bail bonds.

A 1937 report on police misconduct called the operation a “fountainhead of corruption.” A 1941 article in Time magazine declared the McDonough bail bondsmen “without a doubt, the most notorious business house in San Francisco.” It might have been a racket. But it was a racket that made a lot of money, and by the 1940s the bail bonding industry had spread to almost every courthouse in America. It was a system that was designed for profit, though, not public safety. Congress responded by passing the Bail Reform Act in 1966, giving judges more autonomy.

“Since 1966, the problems of crimes committed by persons released on bail have become acute,” said Republican Congressman Dick Poff of Roanoke. “The safety and security of the property and of the people of the American community are at stake.”

That appeal to law and order was successful across Virginia, an arch-conservative state still clinging to its Confederate roots and responding to desegregation with massive resistance. Congressman Poff also got to use the issue to bolster his reputation as an anti-Communist crusader, creating new penalties for bail jumpers after a high-profile case involving several leaders of the American Communist Party jumping bail after being arrested by the feds.

“The $80,000 bond posted by the Communist Party meant nothing to the Reds as compared with the value of their trained henchmen,” the congressman said at the time.

It was a system designed for private gain rather than public safety, and judges felt like they were in a vice. Either they set bail that encouraged the services of the bail bondsman or they risked allowing more crime. Many judges believed the Virginia criminal code didn’t give them much authority anyway, which led to a reform effort in the 1970s. Democratic Delegate Theodore Morrison of Newport News proposed a bill that would give Virginia judges clear authority to release defendants by means other than bail bonds pending their trials.

“Hopefully the changes will mean more individual consideration and fewer hardships for normally reliable persons who may or may not be proven guilty of a crime once they go to court,” explained Morrison.

Critics say one of the major problems with the cash bail system is that bounty hunting encourages bad behavior. Bail bondsmen can get away with stuff police would never dream of, like busting into people’s houses without a warrant. They can cross state lines without extradition procedures. And it’s an industry known for its roguishness. A bail bondsman in Kansas was recently accused of attempting to coerce women into having sex in lieu of bail, and a bondsman in Louisiana was found guilty of bribing judges with bottles of Absolut vodka and lap dances.

Because the line between public safety and private enterprise is blurry, confusion can be dangerous. Take, for example, a high-profile case from the early 1990s in Virginia Beach. The bail bondsman tracked down a woman he was searching for and found her at the home of a boyfriend. But when he broke into the boyfriend’s house, he was confronted by the boyfriend and his baseball bat. The bail bondsman shot the boyfriend and fled, leading to a case that started many people rethinking a system that privatizes a traditional role of Virginia sheriffs.

These days, the concept of cash bail is under attack. Groups that have condemned the system include the American Bar Association, the National Association of Counties, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National District Attorneys Association. Kentucky was the first state to ban commercial bail bonding and bounty hunting. Oregon followed suit in 1978, and the District of Columbia hasn’t allowed bail bondsmen since 1992.

Westlake Legal Group steve-descano-in-green-shirt Meet the most prolific bail bondsman in Northern Virginia Profiles News & Updates Justice freedom bail bonds Finances Economy dave gambale Culture Features Culture cultural features criminal justice bounty hunter bail bondsman
Steve Descano will be sworn in as the commonwealth’s attorney in January. (Photo by Robert Merhaut)

“Take a look at DC. They haven’t had bail for decades,” says Descano. “With something as simple as phone calls and text messages, they have a higher rate of appearance for hearings than nationwide.”

The alternative to cash bail is pretrial services. That’s the government-run program that sends text messages to people who have court dates, a group of people that includes many who don’t have great scheduling habits. They are just as likely to forget about their court date as they are a doctor’s appointment or PTA meeting. The bail bond industry views the phenomenon of pretrial services as competition, squeezing out their cut.

“Pretrial is not really accountability,” says Gambale. “They’re letting people out on pretrial that have immigration detainers. How are you going to supervise someone who is at Farmville in federal custody?”

People who work in the bail bonds industry like to think of themselves as doing the people’s work for free, a force of privateers serving the public on the cheap. Yes, they make money doing it, although they prefer matching blue shirts to the slick business suits preferred by the courthouse ring. It’s like privatized justice, saving the taxpayers their hard-earned money.

“Do you believe that your tax dollars should be used for criminals to be released from jail for free?” asks Joey Tropea, vice president of Freedom Bail Bonding. “These new judges, like the prosecutor who’s new, came in saying they don’t believe in cash bail and they’re going to let them out. Then their guys weren’t showing up to court and they said, ‘Oh I guess I better start putting cash bail on them.’ The judges are starting to see it.”

On the campaign trail, candidates for commonwealth’s attorney can talk all they want about ending the cash bail system. And once they are elected, they will make a recommendation in every prosecution. But it’s not really their call. Judges in Virginia have the final say. And even in places where elected prosecutors have ditched cash bail, judges sometimes still step in and call for the services of a bail bondsman. In Alexandria, Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter no longer requests cash bail, although he says judges at the city courthouse still use the old system anyway.

“I think in very, very rare circumstances a cash bond might help ensure that somebody appears in court,” says Porter. “But in those cases I’m thinking about very complex white-collar cases. It could conceivably help ensure that somebody appears in court if they think, ‘Hey, if I don’t go to court I could be forfeiting ten grand or fifteen grand.’”

Ultimately, Porter says, the entire idea behind cash bail is flawed because it runs counter to human nature. He says criminals are not motivated by how much money they might lose if they commit a crime. When Porter issued a press release announcing a “new cash bail policy” in January of this year, he explained the decision was driven by a commitment to “safeguarding the due process rights of citizens,” adding that a “robust, well-funded pretrial supervision program” would be needed to support the new policy. Now, almost a year later, he says the old system relied on flawed assumptions about the primacy of cash to human behavior.

“I don’t think that’s the way it works,” says Porter. “I don’t think people say to themselves, ‘You know, I might commit another crime. But if I do, I might be forfeiting $300 in cash because of the bond I put up.’”

Just how robust does that pretrial funding need to be? This is where people in the bail bonds industry like to stake their claim, saying their industry could save the taxpayer untold amounts of money that could be used for roads or bridges. When asked about that argument, Descano described it as “misguided.” He noted that the cost of keeping an inmate in the Fairfax County jail is $225 a day, adding that the criminal justice system has a bad habit of stripping people of their jobs, their apartments and their kids.

“So you are pushing somebody potentially into more crime down the road, which means, of course, less safety for the community,” says Descano. “That means that person is going to continue to recycle into the system potentially for years and years.”

It’s an issue that featured prominently on the campaign trail this year, when Descano was hitting the longtime incumbent hard on the issue. The election happened against a backdrop of a larger criminal justice reform movement. A collective known as National Bail Out now work to help women in 35 cities escape jail. Concerns about widespread incarceration are leading people to find ways the justice system can be less punitive, perhaps even more helpful. Prosecutors all over the country are running on these kinds of platforms and winning, creating a sense that the old-fashioned system that thrived for years was on its way out.

Descano was not alone. In neighboring Arlington, the commonwealth’s attorney primary election featured a similar dynamic: longtime incumbent ousted by progressive challenger running on criminal justice reform. They will join Richmond and Charlottesville as major jurisdictions where the elected prosecutor is carrying out what many voters consider to be their mandate: ending the cash bail system. Not everybody shares that view, though. After losing the primary, Ray Morrogh endorsed the independent candidate challenging Descano on the November ballot, federal prosecutor Jonathan Fahey.

“He embodies all the values that make for a good prosecutor and person: honesty, integrity, humility, knowledge and experience,” said Morrogh in a written statement announcing the endorsement in September. “These are the values that are essential to keep Fairfax County one of the safest counties in our nation for its size.”

Descano says Morrogh was bitter and disappointed at losing the election, adding that his election is a mandate from voters to move quickly on criminal justice reform. On the campaign trail, he said Morrogh’s values didn’t align with the values of the Democratic primary. And winning the Democratic primary in Fairfax County is basically the same thing as getting elected, so it was an instance where movement on the issue will soon usher in a new day at the courthouse.

“These are appendages of a legal system from hundreds of years ago that are not empirically supported,” says Descano. “There’s no correlation between cash bond and safety, and there’s no correlation between cash bond and actually showing up to court.”

Gambale predicts a crime wave, unless judges see the error in all this and continue perpetuating a system of bounty hunters serving as Virginia’s privatized sheriff’s office. Meanwhile, he’s keeping his options open. Four years ago, Freedom Bail Bonding was limited to the DC region—Fairfax, Arlington, Alexandria, Loudoun and Prince William counties. But he says he saw this train coming down the tracks and expanded his empire to jurisdictions where the criminal justice reform effort hasn’t yet caught on, places like Winchester and Fredericksburg.

“I’m in West Virginia, too,” says Gambale. “Just got licensed out there.”

For now, he says, he’ll chase the industry where it exists. But he’s also looking at expanding into new parts of the industry, security companies that use GPS tracking devices to track defendants and bracelets that can monitor skin to alert judges to drunk drivers violating parole. He calls the new company Knights Armor Security Training, a venture that seems like something out of a novel by Philip K. Dick.

“If the court orders them to stay away from this residence or this person’s work, then we would put a perimeter around the person’s residence or work,” says Gambale. “If they break the perimeter, then they violate the order of the judge.”

In the future, judges might not order secured bonds at all. These devices can be imposed as a condition of bond, cutting out the need of a bail bondsman to track down a fugitive. It’s an industry that’s still evolving, though, and some of the technology needs work. For example, Gambale says, the GPS devices don’t really monitor the skin for alcohol and vice versa. When asked why one device doesn’t exist that does both, Gambale immediately sees dollar signs.

“Wanna make ’em?” he asks, deadpan. “Me and you can go into partners.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

WATCH: Johnson on the attack – his ‘immediate takeaway’ is that people should ‘serve the term of their sentence’

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Benedict Rogers: Do I condemn those hurling molotov cocktails or attacking policemen in Hong Kong? No. But I understand them.

Benedict Rogers is co-founder and Chair of Hong Kong Watch and co-founder and deputy chair of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission

Last Sunday afternoon, within the space of two hours, two friends of mine and I worked together and between us managed to persuade Britain’s former Foreign Secretary, former Speaker of the House of Commons, former leader of the Green Party, former Liberal Party Chief Whip and former Metropolitan police chief to speak out, urgently, for Hong Kong. The next day a North Korean refugee friend organised a statement by North Korean escapees in solidarity with Hong Kong. Specifically, we moved fast to try to put pressure on Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, to avert a Tiananmen-style massacre in Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University.

Why did I spend my Sunday afternoon and evening trying to prevent a crackdown on a group of students who had been throwing Molotov cocktails and bricks in the street? And why did a cross-party group of British dignitaries come together so swiftly to call for restraint?

There are five very simple reasons: because I lived in Hong Kong for the first five years after the handover at the beginning of my working life, and as a result I love Hong Kong; because I am a human rights activist and believe passionately in the universal values of freedom and human dignity for everyone, everywhere; because I am British, and I have an old-fashioned belief in Britain’s moral and legal responsibilities; because I have experienced the threat of the Chinese regime’s attempts to silence me, albeit to a tiny degree by comparison with what Hong Kongers face, denying me entry, sending threatening letters to me, my neighbours and my mother, and trying to influence Members of Parliament and my particular political party against me and I refuse to be silenced or to allow China to threaten our own freedoms; and because I am human, and I believe we have a responsibility to each other when human life – and humanity – is at stake.

Now, a cynic might say well human lives are at risk all over the world – are you going to defend them all? In principle, yes – I would wish to. Of course in practice, though, one has to pick one’s fights. I pick mine based on a few factors.

Firstly, a personal connection, knowledge, experience is one factor. I don’t want to talk about contexts I know nothing about. I do know about Hong Kong, and other parts of Asia, from years working, living in and visiting. I have friends, people I have met, people who message me appealing for help, and that adds to my connection.

Secondly, who else is speaking out? If it is a cause celebre, then I am happy to support morally and move on. My guiding motto is to be a “voice for the voiceless”. Five years ago, I felt that almost no one – in Britain at least – was speaking out for Hong Kong apart from the last Governor, Chris Patten, and so I began to speak out. For that reason, I founded Hong Kong Watch, because few others were speaking. Today, I am pleased that there are other voices – but we need to maintain and strengthen that momentum.

Thirdly, I am driven by a sense of specific responsibility. There is a general responsibility that I believe every decent, civilized democracy has, to speak up for and defend the universal values of human rights. But in the case of Hong Kong, Britain itself has a very specific moral and legal responsibility.

Moral, because of our history together. Legal, because of our obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, an international treaty valid at least until 2047. And we have a particular responsibility to holders of British National Overseas (BNO) passports, to whom we should extend protection and offer sanctuary. We should also work with other nations, including the Commonwealth, to help all Hong Kongers who may need to flee for their lives. And the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary need to speak out personally, publicly, urgently.

And, fourthly, I believe we have a particular responsibility to defend human life and human freedom in situations where it is most threatened – cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity – and in places where it has until recently existed and been respected and thus represents a frontline of freedom. Hong Kong is today’s frontline of freedom, and if it falls, the threat to our own freedoms comes closer.

Do I condone those throwing Molotov cocktails or attacking policemen? I do not. And we have to be clear about that. On that level, I condemned the rioters in London in 2011 for looting, burning and violence and there is no way I could condone similar actions by Hong Kongers, no matter how much I support their cause.

However, there are two differences. First, the police started the violence in Hong Kong right at the start of the protest movement. The protesters were peaceful, yet they were met with teargas, pepper-spray, batons, rubber bullets and flying beanbags day after day, week after week. Is it any wonder that a minority of them, however unwisely, began to concoct firebombs and catapults in return? The demonstrators called for dialogue, were met with batons, and so some of them felt so desperate that they turned to violence. The reaction is not right, but it must be understandable. And while the protesters’ actions cannot be justified, they must be understood.

Do the kids who have been protesting in Hong Kong want to fight with the police? No. But they do want to defend their way of life, their basic freedoms, their human rights, all of which they see as increasingly threatened by Xi Jinping’s brutal regime. Beijing’s announcement overruling a Hong Kong court’s decision against the ban on face masks is the latest alarming threat to Hong Kong’s rule of law.

That is why the international community must act – not to defend Molotov cocktail throwers, but to insist that the crisis in Hong Kong can only be resolved if there is a de-escalation of violence, a meaningful dialogue, positive steps towards political reform in the city leading to a system based on universal suffrage giving people a say in how they are governed, and an independent inquiry into police brutality with powers to hold those responsible for abuses accountable. Only then can there be any hope for Hong Kong. If these demands continue to be unheeded, Hong Kong is dead.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

The full list of 22 Bills from today’s Queen’s Speech

This morning Her Majesty unveiled the Government’s programme/election offer (delete as applicable). On top of several white papers and other announcements were 22 concrete pieces of legislation. These are:

Brexit

  • The EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill: This will give legal effect to the Prime Minister’s deal, should he manage to win a Meaningful Vote on it.
  • Agriculture Bill: This will create a seven-year period for British farmers to transition away from the current EU subsidies regime, the Common Agricultural Policy.
  • Fisheries Bill: A new system of licences for foreign vessels in UK territorial waters, and a new regime of controls on British fishermen to replace the EU system.
  • Trade Bill: Allows for existing trade deals to be ‘carried over’ if the Government can secure agreement to that effect with the country concerned.
  • Immigration and Social Security Co-Ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill: End to freedom of movement between the EU and the UK; paves way for new points-based system for assessing immigration applications; sets December 2020 deadline for EU nationals applying to stay.

Prison and Sentencing

  • Sentencing Bill: Moves the typical release point from halfway through a prisoners’ sentence to two-thirds of the way; expands reasons judges can issue ‘whole-life’ sentences; and introduces tougher sentences for violent and sexual offenders.
  • Foreign National Offenders Bill: Will substantially increase sentences for foreign offenders who have breached a deportation order to return to the UK.
  • Prisoners (Disclosure of Information About Victims) Bill: Also known as ‘Sarah’s Law’, this will make it easier to deny parole to murderers and child abusers who refuse to identify their victims.

Police and Prevention

  • Police Protections Bill: A new test for police drivers to help protect them in the event of injuries during chases; new protections for Special Constables; Home Office to report annually on the Police Covenant.
  • Serious Violence Bill: This will create new obligations for councils, social services, schools, healthcare services, and more to share information in order to ‘prevent serious violence’.
  • Extradition (Provisional Arrest) Bill: Intended to give police powers to arrest foreign criminals without waiting for a UK warrant if target is subject to an Interpol ‘red notice’ and from an approved country.
  • Domestic Abuse Bill: Will prevent cross-examination of accusers by alleged perpetrators; create a statutory definition of domestic abuse; and accusers will be assumed to qualify for special measures in court.

Finance:

  • Financial Services Bill: Simplifies process for overseas funds being sold in the UK and allows for long-term access to British markets for Gibraltar-based firms.
  • Pension Schemes Bill: Plans for new ‘collective’ workplace pension schemes; companies will be compelled to join new ‘pensions dashboard’ programme; and new controls about transferring pension.
  • Employment (Allocation of Tips) Bill: Restaurants will be forced to hand over tips to staff and share pooled tips fairly, and a new Code of Practice will be introduced.

Animals and Environment:

  • Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill: Maximum sentence for animal cruelty to rise from six months to five years; legal statement that animals are sentient; duty on government to take animal welfare into account when forming policy.
  • Environment Bill: Charges on single-use plastics; new Office for Environmental Protection, which can take Government to court; new powers for councils to tackle air pollution; and more.

Other:

  • Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill: Will make divorce easier by removing the ability of one party to contest separation, introduces 20-week timeline for divorce proceedings.
  • Health Service Safety Investigations Bill: Will create a new body to investigate NHS incidents, leaks from which will be banned; local bodies will receive new guidance on medical investigations; and more.
  • Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill: According to the Government, this aims to roll out “gigabit capable broadband across the UK to achieve nationwide coverage as soon as possible”.
  • Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill: Gives police more powers to ground drones and investigate crimes where a drone has been employed.
  • Private International Law (Implementation of Agreements) Bill: Tackles problems relating to disputes over children which cross national borders, enables inter-governmental cooperation on family cases.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Pelosi: C’mon, let’s pass some laws that would let the president be indicted

Westlake Legal Group p-2 Pelosi: C’mon, let’s pass some laws that would let the president be indicted Trump The Blog separation of powers President pelosi mueller law Justice indict executive doj

This is ridiculous but it’s also the logical conclusion to Pelosi’s extreme aversion to impeachment. What could be nicer for a House Speaker who doesn’t want to risk an impeachment backlash at the polls than handing off the responsibility for ousting the president to the Department of Justice? Let federal prosecutors decide what to do! Leave Democrats alone to chatter amiably about climate change and what not.

That was the whole charm of the Mueller investigation from a Democratic perspective, no? Granted, the House remained charged with taking any formal action against the president, but that action would have been much safer politically if it had had the former endorsement of Robert Mueller. “We’re only doing what the Special Counsel recommended,” Pelosi would have said if Mueller had forthrightly accused Trump of a crime. Instead Mueller punted the obstruction issue back to her and her caucus, essentially telling Democrats, “You decide.” Without Mueller’s support as cover, Nancy ran away.

Now she wants to *force* the DOJ to handle future presidential misconduct by passing a law that would allow them to indict their own boss.

“I do think that we will have to pass some laws that will have clarity for future presidents. [A] president should be indicted, if he’s committed a wrongdoing — any president. There is nothing anyplace that says the president should not be indicted,” Pelosi told All Things Considered host Ari Shapiro and NPR congressional correspondent Susan Davis on Friday. “That’s something cooked up by the president’s lawyers. That’s what that is. But so that people will feel ‘OK, well, if he — if he does something wrong, [he] should be able to be indicted.’”

The California Democrat said that while it is Justice Department protocol not to pursue any charges against an incumbent — the reason former special counsel Robert Mueller said he couldn’t charge President Trump with a crime no matter the outcome of his report — that should be changed.

“The Founders could never suspect that a president would be so abusive of the Constitution of the United States, that the separation of powers would be irrelevant to him and that he would continue, any president would continue, to withhold facts from the Congress, which are part of the constitutional right of inquiry,” Pelosi said.

It goes without saying that you couldn’t get a law permitting indictment of the president through Congress now. I doubt you could get it through Congress even after Trump is gone: There may be enough separation-of-powers sticklers in the Senate GOP that they’d vote against such a thing on principle, notwithstanding the appeal of letting them farm out wrenching questions about presidential misconduct to the Justice Department instead of addressing it themselves. A more interesting question is what would happen if Democrats regained total control of government next year and nuked the filibuster, allowing them to pass whatever they liked. Could they get a bill like this enacted into law, or would the new Democratic president decide at the last moment that maybe this isn’t such a hot idea and refuse to sign it?

Even if he or she did sign it, Democrats would need to contend with SCOTUS. I doubt even John Roberts would join liberals to uphold a law that purported to upend Article II by making the president, in whom all executive power is ultimately vested, chargeable by his own subordinates at the DOJ. What would prevent the president from simply firing a U.S. Attorney who sought to indict him and replacing him with a crony? Failing that, how would the new law reckon with the president’s constitutional power to issue pardons, presumably including a pardon of himself? The DOJ indicts the president, the president says, “Nope, pardoned.” Then what?

The impeachment power is vested in Congress because Congress, like the president himself, is accountable to the people. The sort of law Pelosi’s imagining would end that accountability, allowing a bunch of unelected lawyers and 12 randos who survived the voir dire process at trial to effectively undo the results of a national election in which more than 100 million Americans voted. It’s preposterous.

The best outcome she could hope for realistically is that the Court would allow an indictment to stand but would require the DOJ to delay prosecution until the president had left office. In that case, though, you’d have the commander-in-chief operating under a cloud of formal legal suspicion potentially for years, undermining his legitimacy even though he might eventually be acquitted at trial. Plus, if the president can’t be tried until he leaves office, we might as well preserve the current system in which he can’t be indicted until he leaves office either.

All Pelosi’s after here, pitifully, is a way to pawn off her constitutional responsibility onto another actor. The most one can say in defense of her argument is that the total prostration of Senate Republicans before Trump has made impeachment and removal effectively impossible, which means for the moment there’s no way to hold the president accountable for potential abuses of power. That’s ultimately a problem for the electorate, though, not the DOJ. If a meaningful percentage of the country is willing to give a president from their party carte blanche on anything he does, the DOJ — and the Constitution — can’t save us.

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Maggie Haberman Admits the Times Had Bombshell Info that Nuked Blasey Ford’s Accusation Against Kavanaugh

Westlake Legal Group Kavanaugh-4 Maggie Haberman Admits the Times Had Bombshell Info that Nuked Blasey Ford’s Accusation Against Kavanaugh The New York Times Supreme Court Politics Omitted media bias maggie haberman Justice Front Page Stories Front Page Featured Story Exculpatory Evidence democrats Debra Ramirez corrupt christine blasey ford Buried the Lede Brett Kavanaugh book bombshell

The would be hit on Justice Kavanaugh over at The New York Times continues to implode without haste. We’ve already seen them make corrections after omitting key details about a supposed witness. They also reported an allegation without bothering to note that the alleged victim doesn’t even have memory of it happening. In other words, they ran a rehash of discredited accusations from Debra Ramirez while tacking on an even less credible, third hand claim from Bill Clinton’s former lawyer.

Seems legit.

Now, we are starting to find out just how biased the Times was being in their reporting of this story. CBS News went on record late last night with a major revelation that further destroys Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh. Note that Mollie Hemingway put this in her book way back in July as well. She deserves the primary credit.

That’s pretty big news as it turns Ford’s claim on its head. Not only did her “witness” not recall the incident, she didn’t feel it was believable. Worse, Ford’s allies stepped in to try to pressure her to change her story to help complete the take down of Kavanaugh.

Ford, her lawyers, and the Democrats who facilitated the smear were acting with no regards for truth or ethics. They had one goal and that was to blow up Kavanaugh’s nomination. It’s troubling to think of just how close they claim to succeeding.

But here’s the kicker. After CBS reported that, the Times’ Maggie Haberman decided to jump on Twitter and snark that they had the information too.

Well, ok then Maggie. Why wasn’t it reported?

Even though the information was in the book itself, which the article in question was based on, the “reporters” minimized it and presented a different picture anyway.

To summarize, the Times had information that Ford’s account was essentially nuked and discredited. Instead of running that as the lead story delved from this garbage book, they reran old allegations and included a new one which lacked any credibility at all, to the point where even the alleged victim has no recollection of it.

“Journalism.”

Are we supposed to believe that was just an honest editorial decision? Come on. The authors of this book were so partisan, so wrapped up in their own narrative that they did everything they could to frame things in a way to hurt Kavanaugh. It just so happens that they did such an awful job at it that their claims fell apart within hours.

The Times has no credibility left. I’m tired of some on the right insisting we can’t just dump these outlets wholesale. What have they done to earn anyone’s trust at this point? Let this also be a reminder of just how far the left and their enablers in the media are willing to go to take down Republican interests. There are no lines they won’t cross and this was just a preview of what we are going to see in 2020. You can bet they’ve got a whole (new) dossier cooked up to run against Trump and the press will be right there to dutifully regurgitate the talking points without questioning their validity.

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News Breaks that Andrew McCabe Will Be Charged By the DOJ and the Flop Sweat Builds

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Color me surprised. It looks like the DOJ has finally decided to hold someone accountable for what went on during the Hillary-Trump investigative fiasco.

Former FBI Assistant Director and current CNN talking head, Andrew McCabe, failed to convince the DOJ not to move forward with prosecution against him after a last ditch effort to change their minds. This report is coming via Fox News. The Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross, who’s been killer on this beat, also confirms this story is accurate.

U.S. Attorney Jessie Liu has recommended moving forward with charges against Andrew McCabe, Fox News has learned, as the Justice Department rejects a last-ditch appeal from the former top FBI official.

McCabe — the former deputy and acting director of the FBI — appealed the decision of the U.S. attorney for Washington all the way up to Jeffrey Rosen, the deputy attorney general, but he rejected that request, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The potential charges relate to DOJ inspector general findings against him regarding misleading statements concerning a Hillary Clinton-related investigation.

A source close to McCabe’s legal team said they received an email from the Department of Justice which said, “The Department rejected your appeal of the United States Attorney’s Office’s decision in this matter. Any further inquiries should be directed to the United States Attorney’s Office.”

This comes in response to the Inspector General finding that McCabe had lacked candor (i.e. lied) to the FBI multiple times involving leaks to the press.

There’s also the factor of McCabe suing the FBI last month that plays into this. Perhaps McCabe’s arrogance wrote a check his butt can’t cash? Trying to sue when he was clearly fired for just cause likely only emboldened the U.S. Attorney to press forward with prosecution.

We can’t mention McCabe without talking about CNN either. Despite the IG report and all the facts known about McCabe, CNN hired him on as an “analyst” last month in a widely mocked move. Is there any wonder that network is cratering in the ratings and has lost all credibly?

Drink the schadenfreude in.

This is the beginnings of what justice looks like. After every single Trump lackey who looked at an FBI agent the wrong way was charged during the Mueller saga, it would have been untenable for the DOJ to then look the other way at their own committing the same crime.

While this certainly won’t gain back the trust these institutions have lost, it’s a start in the process. Bill Barr is doing things the right way and if the indicators we are seeing tell the story, he’s not done yet. More prosecutions are coming.

There’s going to be a lot of new flop sweat building among people who thought they were in the clear.

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Report: Christine Blasey Ford’s father told Brett Kavanaugh’s father he was glad he was confirmed

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What a scoop this is from Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino. How on earth did it not leak sooner? Kavanaugh’s allies would have had an intense interest in putting it out there in the immediate aftermath of his confirmation hearings, to help vindicate the new justice before he took his seat on the Court.

Also: Is there anyone close to Blasey Ford who thinks her motives were entirely pure in accusing Kavanaugh? Her own lawyer admitted earlier this year that “part of what motivated Christine” to come forward was making sure people knew Kavanaugh was a foul character in case he ended up taking “a scalpel to Roe v. Wade.”

We’re never going to hear from Ralph Blasey on this, I assume, but I’d pay money to watch that interview.

Within days of Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, a fascinating encounter took place. Brett Kavanaugh’s father was approached by Ford’s father at the golf club where they are both members.

Ralph Blasey, Ford’s father, went out of his way to offer to Ed Kavanaugh his support of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, according to multiple people familiar with the conversation that took place at Burning Tree Club in Bethesda, Maryland. “I’m glad Brett was confirmed,” Ralph Blasey told Ed Kavanaugh, shaking his hand. Blasey added that the ordeal had been tough for both families.

The encounter immediately caused a stir at the close-knit private golf club as staff and members shared the news. The conversation between the two men echoed a letter that Blasey had previously sent to the elder Kavanaugh. Neither man returned requests for comment about the exchanges.

It’s true that Kavanaugh’s and Ford’s fathers belong to the same golf club. WaPo reported that a year ago in a newly interesting piece about the fact that Blasey Ford had received vocal support from her husband’s relatives in accusing Kavanaugh — but, curiously, not from her own blood relatives. When WaPo finally got her father on the phone, he was terse:

Reached by phone on Tuesday, Ford’s father, Ralph Blasey Jr., offered a brief endorsement of his daughter. “I think all of the Blasey family would support her. I think her record stands for itself. Her schooling, her jobs and so on,” he said before hanging up. Moments later, after picking up the phone a second time, he added: “I think any father would have love for his daughter.”

Conspicuously missing is him saying, “Of course I believe her.” WaPo went on to note that the Blaseys are Republicans, but then so are some of Christine’s in-laws and they had no difficulty vouching for her. It doesn’t sound as though Blasey Ford is estranged from her mother and father either. Although her husband acknowledged that she “didn’t always get along with her parents because of differing political views,” the paper claimed that she maintains a “meaningful relationship with her family back east” and brings her sons to Washington every summer.

Assuming the story about her father congratulating Kavanaugh’s father is true, what could possibly explain it except Ralph Blasey doubting Christine’s allegations for whatever reason? Granted, two big cheeses at the local tony country club might normally be expected to keep the peace in a case of conflict, but most conflicts don’t involve … your own daughter’s attempted rape by your friend’s Supreme-Court-nominee son. If Blasey felt awkward (to put it mildly) about coexisting with Kavanaugh in their social circles, he could have simply avoided him. “I’m glad Brett was confirmed” is a terrible betrayal of his daughter unless he has reason to believe his daughter is lying and was trying to cure a terrible injustice.

Again, how did we not hear this sooner?

Update: This was being whispered about during the Ford/Kavanaugh saga. Others heard of it but apparently not until now were multiple sources willing to confirm it.

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Notorious RBG to Dems: Court-packing is a bad idea

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Is there a Democrat anywhere who’s more likely to influence progressive opinion on this subject than Ginsburg? Maybe Obama, but he’d be attacked as weak for opposing Court-packing considering that the proposal is aimed at righting the alleged wrong done by Mitch McConnell in roadblocking Merrick Garland’s nomination. O would be siding with the GOP on a policy matter triggered by his own supposed victimization by them. And besides, thanks to Biden, the left is more skeptical of Obama today than it’s been at any point since early in the 2008 primaries. O’s dim view of Court-packing now wouldn’t have the sort of talismanic effect it might have had five years ago when he was still in office.

Due to her authority as a member of the Court and her iconic status as the dean of the liberal wing and a feminist trailblazer, literally no one’s opinion is apt to carry as much weight in lefty thinking as Ginsburg’s.

Which is not to say it’s apt to carry *much* weight. They seem pretty hyped to add a few justices when next they control the presidency and the Senate, if only for the visceral pleasure of avenging Garland.

But let’s be real. Once they’re in a position to confirm their own Supreme Court nominees again, how much of the appetite for Court-packing will remain? They’re starving right now because it’s been nearly 10 years since a Democrat joined the Court and around 50 years since they’ve had a reliable Democratic majority. Once Schumer and a Dem president are in charge and they can start filling vacancies again without needing to worry about a Republican filibuster, they’ll be (mostly) sated. Even if they wanted to accelerate a new Democratic SCOTUS majority by packing the Court, they’d need to shatter two separate taboos to do it — increasing the number of justices from nine, of course, but also ending the legislative filibuster so that a simple Dem majority in the Senate could join with the House in amending the statute that sets the number of justices. Either one of those moves in isolation would be thermonuclear politically. In tandem they’d be like an asteroid hitting the Earth.

And imagine what the polling would be like. Republicans would oppose it unanimously, independents would likely oppose it on balance, and Dems would support it but with a substantial minority expressing misgivings. Result: A solid majority of the public against the idea. A Rasmussen poll from earlier this year confirmed that guesswork, in fact:

As Fix The Court notes, a recent Rasmussen poll finds that only 27 percent of respondents favor adding justices to the Supreme Court — and presumably the lower courts — while 55 percent opposed. Meanwhile, in the same poll, 54 percent of respondents support a term limits proposal. Even Justice Breyer is on board with an 18-year term limit.

The public is more narrowly divided on impeaching Trump than they are on Court-packing and yet Pelosi so fears the backlash impeachment might generate for centrist Dems in purple districts that she won’t go near it. Imagine lefties trying to convince her to blow up the Supreme Court, knowing that the election of a Democratic president would be likely to turbo-charge Republican turnout for the following midterm elections anyway. If they want to pack the Court, their first step would necessarily have to be replacing Pelosi as Speaker with a progressive firebrand. And then, when they’re done with that, they’d need to convince the new Dem president that it’s worth triggering a mammoth Republican electoral backlash to add two new justices to the Court, knowing that GOPers would surely use the precedent to add two more of their own just as soon as they’re back in power. How is it worth it?

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“Patently deficient”: Federal judge blocks DOJ lawyers from withdrawing from case involving census citizenship question

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How much of a mess has the White House made of this census dispute? So much that the Justice Department lawyers who’ve been handling the case for months are now trying to walk away from it en masse…

…and the courts won’t let them. It’s a federal judge who’s insisting for the moment that Trump’s A-team at the DOJ remain on the job, arguing his side.

At least until they give him a good reason why they shouldn’t. Can they? From today’s order denying the lawyers’ motion to withdraw:

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Let’s back up. The DOJ initially convinced SCOTUS to take up the question of whether a citizenship question could be placed on the census in part by noting that time was of the essence. The census, supposedly, had to be at the printers by June 30. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case and issued its verdict two weeks ago: Although the executive has power to add questions to the census, wrote John Roberts, it’s … pretty obvious that they’ve been lying about why they want the citizenship question added to it. The public needs clarity on that and the administration’s stated reasoning, that they need citizenship info to enforce the Voting Rights Act, simply isn’t supported by the evidence.

So the White House was thwarted unless and until it could provide a more credible explanation for wanting the citizenship question included — but since the deadline for printing the census was almost here, it seemed like there’d be no time to reconsider the matter. And so, inevitably, the DOJ announced on July 2 that the citizenship question would be dropped. Then Trump got to talking to his friends, who urged him to fight on, and he declared the next day — in a tweet — that the question wouldn’t be dropped after all, that the DOJ would fight on. And what about the June 30 deadline? Well, maybe the deadline wasn’t such a hard and fast deadline after all. Even though believing that it was helped convince SCOTUS to hear this appeal.

A federal judge in Maryland held a phone conference with the DOJ’s lawyers on July 3, after Trump’s tweet, to try to get a straight answer as to whether they were dropping the case or fighting on. The lawyers seemed as confused as the judge by the state of play:

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All they had was a tweet. “This is a very fluid situation,” said Gardner later in the call, with no small amount of understatement. A source told the WSJ that “Nobody has any f***ing idea” what Trump wanted them to do.

Then came the next newsflash this past Sunday: The entire team of DOJ lawyers working on this case was planning to withdraw from it, a move which the NYT described as “all but unprecedented in legal battles.” Even stranger, the DOJ offered no explanation for the change. They didn’t offer one to the court either, per today’s order. You can’t just walk away without a good reason, said the judge, especially when you’ve spent months insisting that there’s a deadline here and time is of the essence in resolving the matter.

Why would the entire “federal programs” seek to drop the case like a hot potato? Maybe, said the Times, it’s because they feel the administration’s told so many lies — about its reasoning for wanting the question on the census, about the supposedly hard-and-fast deadline for the census, etc — that it’d be unethical for them to continue. That is, maybe they believe there’s no way to go forward here without either lying to the court or admitting that previous representations to the court were lies.

[The motion to withdraw] strongly suggested that the department’s career lawyers had decided to quit a case that at the least seemed to lack a legal basis, and at most left them defending statements that could well turn out to be untrue.

“There is no reason they would be taken off that case unless they saw what was coming down the road and said, ‘I won’t sign my name to that,’” Justin Levitt, a former senior official in the Justice Department under President Barack Obama, said on Sunday…

Lawyers who had been working on the case apparently concluded that they faced three problems. They had told the Supreme Court that they were up against a strict deadline of June 30 for printing the census forms, and there were difficulties in finding a new justification for the question that would not seem invented out of whole cloth. They may have also concluded that there was no way to move speedily enough to restore the question in any event, given that constitutional and statutory frameworks seem to require a lengthy administrative process before new questions may be added to the census.

If they objected to continuing on with the case due to ethical reasons, it makes sense that they wouldn’t want to state that in their motion to withdraw and risk embarrassing Trump and the department. But the federal judge who issued today’s order has called their bluff. Either they have to get back to work or they have to openly admit their ethical misgivings about what they’re being asked to do, which will be an unholy PR clusterfark for the White House and the DOJ. What are they going to do?

To give you a sense of just how messy this has gotten, read this story about the many times federal officials have contradicted their own stated reasoning for wanting to add the citizenship question to the census. Remember, it’s supposed to be about the Voting Rights Act, but figures like Ken Cuccinelli have admitted at times that the information might be used in immigration enforcement. And Trump himself admitted just a few days ago that it might be used for redistricting, perhaps to try to exclude illegals from the count in apportioning House districts. My takeaway from John Roberts’s opinion in the SCOTUS ruling was that he was straining for ways to give Trump the green light to do this but, as a matter of basic judicial integrity, couldn’t allow the administration to lie baldfaced to the Court about what its motives were. Now you have the president all but confessing that the Voting Rights Act rationale wasn’t the real reason for asking about citizenship on the census. If this case comes back to SCOTUS, Roberts may feel obliged to rule against Trump purely because it would embarrass the Court at this point to reward the administration with a win after lying so brazenly.

Trump may “win” anyway, though, if not in court than by making enough of a fuss about this that some illegals will refuse to answer the census questionnaire, leading to an undercount of the population in blue districts with large illegal populations. He might still win in court too, with POTUS reportedly considering an executive order to include the question on the census and begin printing. Again, though, that would operate as a sort of middle finger to SCOTUS, ignoring Roberts’s demand for a clearer rationale for including the question and ordering the government to proceed with it anyway on Trump’s say-so. If SCOTUS tries to stop him, then we’re in constitutional crisis territory. But first, we wait to see what the DOJ will do about today’s “get back to work” order.

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