Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Internal investigation? What internal investigation?

In 2015, the family of Darryl Mount, Jr., filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Saratoga Springs, NY, then Public Safety commissioner Christian Mathiesen and seven police officers, including the police chief, Gregory Veitch.

In August 2013 Mr. Mount was running from the police in downtown Saratoga Springs when police approached him after seeing him assault his girlfriend outside of a bar. He ended up at the bottom of a 19 foot scaffold with injuries that would prove to be fatal. He was taken to the hospital in a coma from which he never awoke.

Chief Veitch and Mr. Mathiesen denied there was any validity to the family's claims that the injuries had been inflicted by the police. In fact, Chief Veitch told the public that the department's own internal investigation concluded that there had been no police misconduct.

So far the tale is unremarkable. A black man dies in an encounter with the police. The police conduct an internal investigation. No one crosses the thin blue line and the officers in question are cleared. The DA's office is put on notice that the ball's in their court now.

The only problem is, there was never an internal police investigation conducted to determine whether there were any acts of police misconduct that night. There was a police investigation conducted - to determine whether Mr. Mount should be charged with attempted assault, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

We know there was no internal investigation conducted into the incident because Chief Veitch admitted that he lied to the press in a sworn deposition taken pursuant to the wrongful death suit. The lawsuit also turned up an e-mail in which Chief Veitch said it was important to give he public the impression that the police department was concerned with the allegations - even though they weren't.

When asked why he didn't conduct an investigation, Chief Veitch claimed it was because no one had alleged any incident of police misconduct. That is, except for family members at the hospital who made the allegations to Det. Tim Sicko. Det. Sicko, in turn, relayed the allegations to Chief Veitch.

Chief Veitch, despite his department's own General Order Section 25, failed to conduct an internal affairs review within 45 days of the allegations. Famed forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht reviewed the medical records, X-rays and photographs and came to the conclusion that Mr. Mount's injuries were more consistent with being beaten than falling from a scaffold. The forensic medical examiner used by local police, Dr. Michael Sikirica, issued a report supporting the police department's claims of no misconduct after reviewing statements from various witnesses and medical records - he never reviewed the photographs of Mr. Mount's injuries nor the actual X-rays or CAT scans.

This case illustrates why some type of external review board is necessary for investigating allegations of police misconduct. Any such board must have subpoena power to compel the production of witnesses and documents. The system in Saratoga Springs didn't fail. It did exactly what it was supposed to do - provide cover for the police. Only this time we got a peak behind the curtain.

h/t Scott Greenfield

Friday, August 24, 2018

Death, prayers and hypocrisy

After every school shooting the Republicans, the wingnuts and gun freaks yell from the tops of the tallest buildings that now is not the time for politics. They tell us that we should wait until the grieving parents have buried their children before we begin any policy discussions. They will argue about the definition of an assault rifle. They will ask what specific new law do you propose. They will argue that we don't need new laws, we just need to enforce the laws that are already on the books.

Then the politicians offer their worthless thoughts and prayers before cashing the latest check they received from the NRA.

Then something else hits the news cycle and everyone moves on to the next crisis.

After every mass shooting the Republicans, the wingnuts and the gun freaks yell from the tops of the tallest buildings that now is not the time for politics. They tell us we should wait until the grieving families have buried their loved ones before we can begin any policy discussions. They will argue about the definition of an assault rifle. They will ask what specific new law do you propose. They will argue that we don't need new laws, we just need to enforce the laws that are already on the books.

Then the politicians offer their worthless thoughts and prayers before cashing the latest check they received from the NRA.

And nothing ever happens because we, as a nation, have said that we're okay with mass shootings and that the deaths of school children are no big deal because we really, really, really want to be able to play with our guns.

But after a white middle-class girl from Iowa is found dead and a person here without our government's possession confesses to the murder, now is the time for the Republicans, the wingnuts and racists of all stripes to use this girl's murder to score political points in efforts to restrict immigration from non-white non-Europeans.

Now is the time to wave the bloody flag of a white girl killed by a dark-skinned man to incite hatred and fear in support of a president's racist policies.

Let's forget that the vast majority of murders and other violent crimes are committed by people who were born in this country. Let's forget about the fact that the government long turned a blind eye on illegal immigration because industries needed a cheap work force that would do jobs that citizens didn't want.

I find it utterly repulsive that the same folks who put off talking about gun issues while the bodies are still warm have no problem using the death of Mollie Tibbetts for political purposes. By now, however, hypocrisy on the right shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

When all else fails, purge the voter rolls

One thing about the Trump era is that Republicans don't have to even pretend they aren't racial motives behind more restrictive voting laws and procedures.

The latest example is in southern Georgia. Randolph County is 61% black - double the statewide average. The Randolph County Board of Supervisors voted last week to close down 75% of the polling stations in Randolph County.

The Board will argue that they are making the move for financial reasons but that excuse doesn't hold any water because the real effect is to close as many polling stations in the black sections of the county as possible in order to aid Republican office seekers. If it costs more than the county wishes to pay to keep the stations open there is a perfectly fair solution -- raise the filing fee for running for office.

With the US Supreme Court's gutting of the Voting Rights Act, white Republicans have been knocking each other down to see who can pass the more restrictive voting laws and who can make it more difficult for the poor and minorities to vote. And the reason is clear -- as I've pointed out before, the old white power structure knows that due to demographic changes, its days of holding power are limited and they are doing everything they can to prolong the inevitable.

As white America showed that it is not afraid to vote for an outwardly racist candidate for president, these moves are to be expected. Those who vote Republican are supporting these efforts whether they wish to admit it or not. It would appear that no Republican candidate running for office has the guts to challenge the overt bigotry of Donald Trump and his administration. Their silence is affirmation of their support.

And, lest you think these shenanigans are used only in the Deep South, it's going on in Houston, too.  Residents of the Third Ward, a mostly black area of Houston just east of downtown, received letters from the County's voter registrar, Ann Harris Bennett, informing them that they had but 30 days to return a letter confirming their address to her office in order to avoid being removed from the voter rolls. The letters were sent out to folks who hadn't moved and who had been living at their current address for years.

“If you do not respond at all to this notice, your registration will be canceled if you have not confirmed your address either by completing the response form or confirming your address when voting before November 30 following the second general election for state and county officers that occurs after the date the confirmation notice is mailed.”

The letters were the result of challenges made by Republicans to voters in predominately minority parts of Houston. You see, Republican candidates will win the majority of votes in the suburbs since most of the residents moved away from Houston to get away from darker skinned folks. But elections in Harris County center on the turnout within the city limits of Houston. If there is a large turnout in the city, it will cancel out the Republican voters in the suburbs. And Republicans are anticipating that will be the case come November.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Goodbye, Aretha

In memory of Aretha Franklin, here's a couple of tunes guaranteed to make you happy today. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

A senseless death in the Harris County Jail

Debora Ann Lyons is the second inmate in the Harris County Jail to commit suicide in the last month. Ms. Lyons, who was taken into custody on July 22, 2018, hung herself on Tuesday night.

Ms. Lyons was arrested on misdemeanor theft charge. However, based upon her prior convictions, she was charged with a felony. Now, as an aside, I understand why the legislature allows prosecutors to enhance some offenses based upon prior convictions. The theory being that if you've been in trouble once or twice for the same offense the punishment needs to be a bit more severe. But, this doesn't work out so well on petty thefts.

I've had a client before who was charged with shoplifting toiletries from a drug store. What he did warranted no more than a Class B charge. But, since he had multiple theft convictions in the past, that little misdemeanor theft ended up landing him in district court with a felony charge. And I don't care how tough on crime you are, charging someone with felony theft over less than $100 worth of toiletries doesn't serve anyone's interests. Prison should be reserved for those who have done heinous crimes, sending someone to prison for petty theft is a waste of resources.

On the date she was charged, bail was set at $1,500. Ms. Lyons didn't have that kind of money -- but because the felony courts still rely on a piece of paper to determine how to set bond, that number was written down on a piece of paper without regard to Ms. Lyons' ability to pay.

Sound familiar?

It should.

This is the system which 14 Republican misdemeanor judges in Harris County are fighting to keep in place. Thus far they have spent over $6 million of taxpayer's money to defend a cash bail system that is unconstitutional. If US District Judge Lee Rosenthal's order applied to the district courts, Ms. Lyons would have been eligible for release on a PR bond within 48 hours of her arrest. Instead she sat in jail for nearly a month before she took her life.

The ultimate irony, of course, is that she was granted a PR bond on Wednesday -- the day after she hung herself.

So, even though this case was filed in district court as a felony, I still would like to hear one of the Republican misdemeanor judges defend the old system. It's the old system that killed Ms. Lyons. The last time I checked, the penalty for theft in Texas wasn't death.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the 14 Republican misdemeanor judges who are fighting bail reform are all white. If you know anything about Harris County you also know that the vast majority of the people affected by bail reform aren't white. Racism, you see, plays real well out in the suburbs where the Republicans pick up most of their votes. And for all the talk you will hear from those judges, they aren't fighting bail reform to protect the public -- they are fighting it because the old system gave the state coercive power over minority defendants who couldn't afford to post bond. They were forced to plead guilty in order to get out of jail.

And, if they happened to get in trouble later, those convictions came back to bite them in the ass as their new cases were enhanced.

Ms. Lyons died because Harris County is doing everything it can to preserve a coercive system to force the poor to plead guilty regardless of the facts of their cases so they can get on with their lives.

In case you've forgotten the names of the judges who are fighting to preserve an unconstitutional system, here they are again:

  • Paula Goodhart, County Criminal Court at Law No. 1
  • Bill Harmon, County Criminal Court at Law No. 2
  • Natalie Fleming, County Criminal Court at Law No. 3
  • John Clinton, County Criminal Court at Law No. 4
  • Margaret Harris, County Criminal Court at Law No. 5
  • Larry Standley, County Criminal Court at Law No. 6
  • Pam Derbyshire, County Criminal Court at Law No. 7
  • Jay Karahan, County Criminal Court at Law No. 8
  • Analia Wilkerson, County Criminal Court at Law No. 9
  • Dan Spjut, County Criminal Court at Law No. 10
  • Diane Bull, County Criminal Court at Law No. 11
  • Robin Brown, County Criminal Court at Law No. 12
  • Don Smyth, County Criminal Court at Law No. 13
  • Jean Spradling, County Criminal Court at Law No. 15

The next time you see any of these judges, ask them why they are defending an unconstitutional cash bail system. Ask them why they are opposed to bail being set in a timely matter based upon the defendant's ability to pay. Ask them why they are wasting your tax dollars fighting bail reform.

Ask them why they haven't joined Judge Darrell Jordan and Judge Mike Fields on the other side of the coin.

Debora Ann Lyons was no angel. But she was someone's daughter. She was someone's mother. She had a family and she had friends. And she damn well didn't deserve to die in the Harris County Jail.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

A death in Nebraska and a governor out for bloodlust

Just how badly does Pete Ricketts want to kill people?

Enough that the Nebraska governor and his father spent $300,000 of their own money for a petition drive to put the death penalty on the ballot in 2018 after the state legislature voted to abolish it in May of 2015 (they even overrode the governor's veto).

Bound and determined to kill people, the governor vowed to execute as many inmates as possible before the deadline and even to kill inmates in defiance of the new law. It does seem a bit odd for a governor who swore to uphold the laws of the state tell all who will listen that he will ignore the law if he doesn't like it.

Currently Nebraska has ten inmates on death row and hasn't carried out an execution since 1997. So why on earth is Gov. Ricketts so hung up on the death penalty?

It certainly has nothing to do with deterrence or punishment or anything else to do with the criminal (in)justice system. There hasn't been an execution carried out in 20 years -- there doesn't appear to be any groundswell of support for killing inmates.

Until today, that is. Carey Dean Moore was executed this morning. He is the first inmate to be executed using a lethal cocktail containing fentanyl.

The execution was carried out when a panel of three federal judges denied drug maker Fresenius Kabi's request for a stay due to their concerns that Nebraska acquired the drugs for the execution (two of which were Fresenius Kabi believes were drugs they made) through back channels.

While Fresenius Kabi has not taken a stand on the death penalty, they only sell to suppliers who sign an agreement not to sell to federal or state correctional facilities. Nebraska has refused to release the name of the supplier who only agreed to sell the state one dose of the drugs.

For proponents of the death penalty such as Gov. Ricketts, it isn't about strapping an inmate to a gurney and injecting him with poison. It's about control. It's about having the power to make a life-or-death decision.

Ironically enough you see politicians like Gov. Ricketts try to justify their support of the death penalty with the bible. His position is at odds with Pope Francis who called the death penalty an attack on the dignity of the person. All of the governor's arguments (as well as all of the protestant supporters in the US) are based on the Old Testament. Sure, he will tell you he's pro-life and for the criminalization of abortion without once questioning the consistency of his beliefs.

But that's because it's not about what's supposedly written in a book that has been translated from multiple languages over the centuries and then edited to have a more "modern" appeal. That's just a rationalization.

So tell us, Gov. Ricketts, why the fuck is it so important for Nebraska to kill people?

Monday, August 13, 2018

Former judge sanctioned for jailing a rape victim

On December 8, 2014, Jenny Doe (her real name may be found in court records but I choose not to publish it), was called to testify in the rape trial of Keith Hendricks in the 176th District Court in Harris County. Mr. Hendricks was on trial for raping Jane Doe.

While on the stand testifying at trial, Ms. Doe had a mental breakdown (she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder). Fearing that his witness wouldn't show up to testify again, the prosecutor, Nicolas Socias, asked the judge, Stacy Bond, to issue an attachment and to order Ms. Doe taken into custody.

The judge set her bond at $10,000. That's right, Jenny hadn't been charged with a crime yet she was being held behind bars because she couldn't post a $10,000 bond.

Ms. Doe was first taken to the hospital to be checked out -- she was then booked into the Harris County Jail. Making matters even worse, someone at the jail fucked up and entered that she was charged with felony sexual assault. Because no one at the jail knew she was being held as a witness, she was placed in the general population. While in jail she got into at least one fight with an inmate. She was later charged with assaulting a guard, though that case was later dismissed.

Jenny was not called back to the stand until January 11, 2015. Let that just sink in for a bit. Here we have the victim of a sexual assault who was taken into custody and held against her will for over a month because she had a mental breakdown on the stand. And even though she testified on the 11th, she was held for an additional three days before being released.

Texas law does permit the court to order a witness taken into custody if the state issuing the subpoena has reason to believe that a witness residing in the county is on the verge of moving out of the county or if an out-of-county witness failed to appear when subpoenaed.

Neither of those conditions were met in this case. Jenny resided outside Harris County and appeared without being subpoenaed. Mr. Socias might have been worried about her not coming back to testify after her breakdown -- but that didn't justify his request to have her attached. It certainly didn't warrant her being held in jail for over a month.

Now Stacy Bond, who is running for the bench in the 185th, has been sanctioned with a public admonition for violating the Code of Judicial Conduct.

Ms. Bond's excuse is she was mistaken in signing a badly worded application for a bench warrant. The application would have been filled out by the prosecutor, Mr. Socias.

You would think that the least the judge could have done was read the application before signing off on it. Actually you would think the judge might have consulted Section 24 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure to see whether the action was warranted. At the very least you would have expected a judge to show just the slightest bit of compassion to a witness who was having a very bad day. But, hell, once you decide to treat those accused of crime as garbage, it's not a far walk to treat everyone like that.

Ms. Bond is running as a Republican in the upcoming election. I'm sure that many Republican voters in the suburbs don't give a flying fuck what Ms. Bond did on the bench in the past. The only criterion for their vote is that the candidate have an "R" after their name.

This is the problem with electing judges. No one outside the courthouse knows who the candidates are. No one outside the courthouse has any idea what type of attorney or judge a candidate is. No one outside the courthouse knows what goes on behind the scenes. And this is why we end up with some judges in Texas who aren't capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time.

(Yes, Galveston County, I'm talking about the mindless wingnuts on the mainland who voted straight-ticket Republican and ushered in the strange world of Christopher Dupuy, the single most unqualified person I've ever seen on the bench.)

Of course appointing judges brings about an entirely different set of problems that can be just as bad as electing them.

Ms. Bond doesn't deserve to sit on the bench anymore. I just hope this public reprimand resonates with voters in the 'burbs when they go to cast their ballots in November.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Sotomayor's scathing rebuke

Yesterday afternoon the US Supreme Court decided that the 8th Amendment is merely a useless appendage and denied Billy Ray Irick's request for a stay of execution.

But Justice Sonia Sotomayor wasn't having any of it. In her dissent she pointed out all of the problems with using midazolam as the first drug in a lethal cocktail. She wrote that the drug will cause Mr. Irick to feel the sensation of drowning, suffocating and being burned alive. She referred to the testimony given in Tennessee's recent trial over the legality of the three drug cocktail. She pointed out that once the paralytic takes effect, no one will know whether or not Mr. Irick is suffering because he will be unable to move and unable to speak.

She also referred to the absurdity of the Glossip decision's holding that the condemned inmate must not only present evidence that the state's selected method of execution is cruel but must also propose an alternative method to killing himself.

But she saved the best for last:

In refusing to grant Irick a stay, the Court today turns a blind eye to a proven likelihood that the State of Tennessee is on the verge of inflicting several minutes of torturous pain on an inmate in its custody, while shrouding him behind a veneer of paralysis. I cannot in good conscience join this "rush to execute" without first seeking every assurance that our precedent permits such a result. If the law permits this execution to go forward in spite of the horrific final minutes that Irick may well experience, then we have stopped being a civilized nation and accepted barbarism. I dissent.

Unfortunately I think we long ago accepted barbarism in this country.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Torture in Tennessee

Today the state of Tennessee is set to murder inmate Billy Ray Irick using a lethal injection cocktail using midazolam, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride.

Midazolam is a sedative that will supposedly  render Mr. Irick unconscious. Vecuronium bromide is a paralytic that would prevent Mr. Irick from making any movements. Potassium chloride is the drug that will stop Mr. Irick's heart - and leave him dead on the gurney.

The question, however, is whether or not midazolam is an effective sedative for purposes of executing inmates. As has been seen in botched executions in Florida, Ohio, Arizona and Oklahoma, midazolam has led to excruciating pain for inmates and even aborted executions.

In 2013 William Happ was executed in Florida using midazolam. Witness accounts state that he remained conscious longer than usual and made more body movements after losing consciousness than normal.

In 2014 Dennis McGuire was executed in Ohio using midazolam. After being administered the drug, Mr. McGuire clenched his fists, gasped and struggled to breathe.

That same year Clayton Lockett died in Oklahoma after being administered midazolam. The drugs didn't kill him and the execution was called off abruptly in midstream. Mr. Lockett then died of cardiac arrest that night.

Still later that year Joseph Wood was executed in Arizona using midazolam. It took over two hours for Mr. Wood to die and one reporter said that Mr. Wood gasped for air more than 640 times.

There is no proof that midazolam is the appropriate drug for use in killing inmates. Inmates awaiting execution in Tennessee filed suit against the state arguing that the lethal cocktail would violate their 8th Amendment right to protection from cruel and unusual punishment. The argument is that the paralytic will render the inmate incapable of letting anyone know he is undergoing extreme pain during the process. For those watching from the gallery there would be no way to know if anything was going awry in the process.

During the court proceedings a pathologist called by the plaintiff's testified that he reviewed autopsies on 32 inmates who were executed. In 27 of those cases, the pathologist performing the autopsy found signs of pulmonary edema meaning the inmates had suffered respiratory distress during the executions.

The court in Tennessee, however, denied the plaintiffs' request for relief on the grounds that while they may or may not have proven that the new drug protocol was cruel or unusual, they didn't provide the state with a viable alternative to kill themselves.

That's right. The U.S. Supreme Court held in Glossip v. Gross, if you're challenging the constitutionality of a drug protocol for executions, you have to give the state an alternative method of taking your life.

Now we can sidestep the absurdity of that test for purposes of this argument. If a state wishes to carry out executions, that state must come up with a protocol for killing inmates that doesn't run afoul of the 8th Amendment. If evidence is brought forth that the protocol in question amounted to torture, then it's the state's responsibility to draw up a new protocol. To place the burden on those awaiting execution to draw up a protocol for their own death is about as Kafkaesque as you can get.

It's also a cop out from a court that doesn't want to dirty its hands in death penalty litigation. I know that many folks out there couldn't care less about whether an inmate suffers during an execution because they are focused on the pain and suffering he or she caused by killing someone else. To them I would point out that the purpose of our criminal (in)justice system isn't to obtain revenge. The purpose is to rehabilitate as many folks as we can and release them back into society to become productive citizens - those who can't be rehabilitated are then kept behind bars so they can't harm anyone else.

In many cases of death row inmates we are also talking about men who did stupid and/or despicable things when they were in their 20's and who have sat behind bars, in isolation, for two decades or more. To believe that they are the same people now that they were when the committed their crimes is pure fantasy.

There is no place in civilized society for this barbarism.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Fighting for injustice

Once again the Republican misdemeanor judges in Harris County have their panties in a wad. And, once again, it has to do with a federal judge telling them that the little bail bond scheme they followed for years is unconstitutional and must be changed.

The judges are upset because US District Judge Lee Rosenthal's revised order will force the county to release certain non-violent offenders within a certain time period. The judges claim this will endanger the public's safety.

Bullshit. What it will do is remove the coercive power the state had on criminal defendants to force them to plead guilty to crimes they didn't commit.

The way Harris County operated for years was to follow a bail bond schedule that didn't take the defendant's financial circumstances into effect when setting bail. The only things that mattered were the type of offense and whether the defendant had any prior convictions. Bond was set automatically by a piece of paper and thousands of folks were held in custody until they resolved their cases -- usually by pleading guilty in a mass plea for time served or some other token sentence.

Prosecutors got their convictions. Judges got cases off their dockets. And since those accused of criminal acts don't have an effective lobby - no one gave a fuck.

Anyone who has spent any time in this racket knows that it is a hell of a lot easier to fight one's case if one is not behind bars. When you're behind bars you're not working, not earning money, not seeing your family and all you can do is think about how many more days this hell is going to last.

When you're out on bond you can work and earn money. You sleep in your own bed. You see your friends and family. You can speak with you attorney face to face without a thick sheet of plexiglass between you. You're also not under the pressure to resolve the case quickly because you are able to resume your normal life.

And the misdemeanor judges in Harris County hate this. They hate the fact that defendants out on bond are able to fight their cases. They hate the fact that the state doesn't have the same coercive hold on them as they do on the defendants in the jumpsuits.

Well, let's be straight about one thing. It's unfair to lump all of the misdemeanor judges into the same pile. Darrell Jordan, a Democrat, and Michael Fields, a Republican, aren't part of the ongoing lawsuit. I don't think it's a coincidence that they are the only two black judges on the misdemeanor bench in Harris County.

Most of the defendants in the misdemeanor courts are black and Latino. These are the folks that conservative white voters in the suburbs have been taught to hate. As anyone who understands Harris County politics knows, Republican candidates rely on those suburban voters to get elected because they don't have a chance within the Houston city limits.

The judges who continue to spend our tax money to defend an unconstitutional bail bond system are spreading fear and hatred among their suburban supporters in a desperate measure to build up some sort of support for Republican candidates in what could very easily be a bloodbath for the wingnuts.

The Republican judges (minus Judge Fields) are furiously blowing on their dog whistles. And they are doing it, not to maintain public safety, but to maintain a criminal (in)justice system that targets the poor and those with dark skin.

And for those keeping tabs, the current bill for fighting the lawsuit is $6.6 million. How's that for financial responsibility?

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

We're not gonna take it

You might remember the name Darryl Fulton from an earlier blog post about his return to his grounds keeping job for the Chicago White Sox after being exonerated of a murder for which he spent over two decades behind bars.

Adding insult to injury, on two separate occasions, Chase Bank in Chicago refused to accept his deposit of a check for $169,876.00 paid to him by the State of Illinois for taking 23 years of his life.

The first time he tried to deposit the check, the bank refused to accept it because it hadn't been endorsed by his attorney -- even though the only payee on the check was Mr. Fulton. The second time he tried to deposit the check the bank refused to accept it because Mr. Fulton had signed the check over the attorney's name. The bank did say it could deposit the check into the lawyer's account, however.

While acknowledging that the check should have been accepted and deposited the first time Mr. Fulton presented it, bank officials refused to say whether or not the color of Mr. Fulton's skin had anything to do with the bank's reluctance to accept the check.

According to Mr. Fulton's attorney, the bank never offered to accept the check for deposit.

So it's not enough that Mr. Fulton was held in custody during the pendency of his case because he couldn't bond out. It's not enough that prosecutors obtained a conviction after not conducting DNA testing on an item because it didn't fit in the police narrative. It's not enough that the state fought tooth and nail to prevent the evidence from being tested, all in the name of honoring the jury's (wrong) verdict. Now he can't even deposit the meager check he received from the state to compensate him for his lost life.

One can only wonder whether Chase makes white executives go through such hoops in order to deposit a large check. Or is that experience reserved for black men with large checks to deposit?