Coweta County authorities say a 78-year-old grandmother and her two granddaughters and grandson-in-law have been charged with burglarizing a neighbor’s home.
The Newnan Times-Herald reports that 78-year-old Betty Bryant of Sharpsburg and her granddaughters, 29-year-old Amanda Joiner and 22-year-old Lindsay Henry, are charged in the incident. Also charged is Henry’s husband, 26-year-old Roger Alan Henry.
According to Coweta County jail records, Bryant was arrested Thursday and is out on $5,000 bond. Jail records show the other three were arrested earlier in the week and are out on bond.
Bryant declined comment to The Associated Press. Joiner and the Henrys could not be reached for comment.
Sheriff’s Maj. Jimmy Yarbrough says the four were seen taking items from a neighbor’s house while the family wasn’t home. He said items taken include a washing machine and power weed-trimmers.
Mitchell Schnure, 22, of Loveland, ended his life by jumping from northbound bridge that carries Interstate 71stretches over Little Miami River according to Sgt. Tracy Callahan of the Ohio Highway Patrol’s Lebanon post.
Callahan said he attempted to negotiate with Schnure for approximately an hour to come down off the bridge before Schnure jumped at about 3:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon. The situation caused a traffic back up for about an hour in both directions of I-71.
Schnure had left a message for family members of his plan to jump and they contacted authorities, Callahan said.
Schnure’s body was later recovered by the highway patrol.
Approximately six people a year attempt to commit suicide by jumping off the Jeremiah Morrow Bridge, according to the patrol. The structure is the tallest bridge in the state of Ohio.
DAYTON OH Oct 4 2011 — A local doctor Monday said he surrendered his medical license after federal, state and local law enforcement raided his offices in Dayton and Bethel Twp. in Clark County, and his Butler Twp. home.
There were no arrests involving the serving of the three search warrants, but boxes of records were removed in a long-term investigation into prescription drug abuse, money laundering and medical fraud.
Dr. Han M. Yang, 69, said authorities were “off-base” with their allegations.
He did say he had surrendered his license to practice medicine in Ohio and was giving up his practice.
“I have to find an attorney,” he said.
The Ohio Medical Board said Yang has no record of formal action against him.
The board would decide any action, if Yang has voluntarily surrendered his license, at its monthly meeting next week. His license remains active until then.
Officials described the operation as a “pill mill” where patients seek no medical attention and instead purchase prescriptions — generally with cash —for powerful painkillers from doctors.
Clark County Sheriff Gene A. Kelly said patients were lined up outside the Dayton office in the 3200 block of North Main Street when authorities arrived.
“Most of the time, these people pay cash for their prescriptions,” Kelly said.
The joint investigation began two years ago as the state Attorney General’s Office opened a Medicaid fraud case, said Attorney General Mike DeWine, as he stood outside the North Main Street office.
“The message today is, if doctors want to do this, they better leave the state,” DeWine said.
Yang is a 1966 graduate of Yonsei University’s College of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea. He said he had practiced at the North Main Street location since 1976, the same year he became a naturalized citizen. At one point, he also had an office in Enon.
The Dayton Daily News in previous reporting that Montgomery County has a prescription overdose death rate of 23 per 100,000 population annually, twice that of any other urban county in Ohio.
Through June 15, 40 people have died in Montgomery County this year, overdosing on powerful painkillers, according to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office.
Kelly said his department was alerted about a year ago when a woman nine months pregnant attempted to fill a prescription for a powerful painkiller. The pharmacist refused the prescription, alerting authorities.
“These people are not seeking medical attention. They are paying cash for the prescription, getting the drugs and often selling them on the street,” Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer said. “This is a huge quality of life issue.”
In many cases, Plummer said, the prescribing doctor will sell the prescription then bill the federal government for medical services never rendered.
According to DeWine, four Ohioans overdose on drugs every day, many on prescription drugs. Two-thirds of those who overdose on prescription drugs were using drugs for which they had no prescription.
“I have sought out joint investigations with multiple federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. We are bringing the full force of all government agencies to bear,” DeWine said.
DeWine said those involved in such enterprises are a small minority of doctors.
“These are doctors who don’t care about their patients and are flooding the state with drugs,” he said.
Source:Dayton Daily News
Philadelphia PA Oct 4 2011 A gunman shot up a West Philadelphia strip bar Sunday, wounding two people, including one of the dancers, possibly after a lap dance gone wrong.
Police responded to La Pearl Lounge, in the 300 block of North 54th Street, about 8:30 p.m. and found a 38-year-old club bouncer shot in his back and a 32-year-old dancer shot in her face.
Both were treated at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and were in stable condition, police said.
“We’re not quite sure what we have going on here yet,” Lt. John Walker of Southwest Detectives said.
The dispute may have been sparked by a dancer jealous that her boyfriend had received a lap dance from another performer, Walker said.
At some point, the argument spilled onto the sidewalk, Walker said. The suspected shooter, who police say they believe had been in the club earlier in the night, complained that someone had slashed his tires.
Walker said that the man left and that someone fitting his description soon returned with a Tec-9 semiautomatic handgun. Patrons and employees rushed for cover as the gunman squeezed off three shots toward the front door then fled.
The bouncer was hit as he tried to run inside. The dancer was standing near the entrance when she was struck. She told police she saw the large gun, then a flash, and felt the bullet. It was not yet clear whom the gunman wanted to shoot or whether the victims were the targets, Walker said.
The shooter was described as a stocky man in his mid-30s, about 5-10, and wearing a burgundy hooded sweatshirt.
Nashville TN Oct 4 2011 DyShieka Whitlow heard the gunshots outside her Nashville home one day last year as she and her little boy tried to sleep. But she never imagined her husband would be dying on their front lawn.
“I was in shock,” she said. “It couldn’t be him.”
Terry Whitlow died Aug. 20, 2010, at the hospital, one of at least 356 people murdered in Tennessee last year.
“Everywhere you look, someone is getting gunned down,” his widow said. “Senseless crime. It’s just sad.”
What DyShieka Whitlow is seeing is reflected in a disturbing trend over the past two years in Tennessee: People were more likely to be victims of a violent gun crime here than in any other state in the nation, according to a Tennessean analysis of FBI statistics. Only Washington, D.C., had a higher rate of gun violence. Tennessee came out worst in the nation in the rate at which its residents are victims of aggravated assaults with a firearm and fifth-worst in robberies.
The federal government defines aggravated assault as an attack that inflicts severe bodily injury and is usually done with a weapon likely to produce death or great bodily harm.
The high rate is difficult to explain. Officials at the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation declined to comment, saying they didn’t collect that data and couldn’t comment on analysis the agency hadn’t performed.
Academia doesn’t offer much help, either.
“You would almost have to go in and look at every individual crime report across the nation,” said Don Green, executive director of the University of Tennessee’s Law Enforcement Innovation Center.
But Green offered three possibilities for the high rate: better police reporting, a large number of gang and drug-related crimes, or perhaps Tennessee’s high rate of gun ownership.
“One thing you could say would be if there are a number of firearms accessible to individuals, then they would be more inclined to use those during a heated argument,” Green said.
The idea reflects a longstanding debate between Second Amendment and gun control advocates. Research has shown some correlation between states with high gun ownership and high gun-related crimes. The Harvard Injury Control Research Center, in particular, has published multiple studies showing that people living in areas with more guns are more at risk of being homicide victims.
The Violence Policy Center, a Washington, D.C.-based research group that advocates for stronger gun control, in 2008 linked Tennessee’s high gun ownership to its high homicide rate. It has also ranked Tennessee high in recent years in black homicides and cases in which women have been killed by men.
However, Second Amendment advocates are quick to point out that just because gun ownership and some violent crimes seem to coincide, it doesn’t mean that one causes the other.
“I don’t really buy that, that Tennessee has a higher crime rate because we have a significant percentage of gun ownership,” said John Harris, a Nashville attorney who serves as the volunteer executive director for the Tennessee Firearms Association. “I don’t know that that’s it. It sounds like potentially a correlation however lacking causation.”
Harris pointed to research that shows that handgun permit owners, for example, were less likely to commit crimes than the general population.
As for why else Tennessee might be so high, he pointed to Shelby County, in particular, as a high-crime area that could be skewing the data upward. The FBI gun crime data does not include county- or city-level statistics, making it difficult to determine that.
“Do we have a problem in the state with low socioeconomics?” Harris asked. “Do we have a problem unemployment with some members of the population … that is somehow related to this?”
Green said that there isn’t yet enough information to point to any one factor. He wondered if police departments in Tennessee might be more aggressive in reporting firearms cases than other states. He said there could also be more drug and gang activity, both of which typically involve guns as tools of the trade.
“People who are robbing drug dealers or drug dealers are using firearms to enhance their drug profits,” he said.
Nashville, in particular, has seen a surge in gangs in the past several years. In 2010, for example, it saw a 4 percent jump in its violent crime rate.
It’s unclear what the motive was in the murder of Terry Whitlow. But his widow says that the violence must stop so that another mother won’t have to tell her children about their father’s tragic fate.
“I know it’s going to be heartbreaking for me to even tell them,” she said. “I’ll just have to ask God to show me the way and guide me to taking those steps.”
Highest rates of gun-related crimes
Tennessee had the second-highest per capita rate of gun-related violent crimes in 2010 in the nation, according to newly released federal crime statistics.
State Murders with firearms Robberies with firearms Aggravated assaults with firearms Population Total firearms crimes Gun crimes per 100,000 people*
District of Columbia 99 1,563 606 601,723 2,268 376.9176182
Tennessee 219 4,682 8,231 6,136,858 13,132 213.9857236
Delaware 38 839 824 897,934 1,701 189.4348582
South Carolina 207 2,656 5,274 4,393,517 8,137 185.2047005
Georgia 376 6,192 5,160 7,659,917 11,728 153.1087086
*Illinois and Florida data were incomplete and could not be analyzed
Sampson Ashin, who was employed as a security guard for Arrow Security, was hired to protect the vehicles stored by Bayside Chrysler Jeep Dodge at the racetrack in Elmont, police said.
But the 24-year-old Queens man and a second suspect instead stole the parts off of the vehicles and offered the stolen items for sale on Craigslist, police said.
Ashin and Sunil Singh, 36, also of Queens, were arrested Sunday and charged with four counts each of grand larceny.
They will be arraigned Monday at First District Court in Hempstead.
Spurce: long island press
MCALLEN TX Oct 4 2011 — The U.S. Border Patrol is returning to its roots in the lower Rio Grande Valley, training six wild mustangs to carry agents in mounted patrols.
Most agents were mounted when the Border Patrol began in 1924 to fight illegal alcohol imports from Mexico. Now, officials see them as an ideal complement to motorized patrols along remote, sometimes rugged border terrain, The Monitor of McAllen reported in Sunday’s edition.
The patrol’s Rio Grande Valley Sector adopted the horses from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s wild horse relocation program. The Border Patrol has trained them for riding and on remaining calm when there are loud noises from helicopters, all-terrain vehicles, patrol dogs and gunfire.
Mounted unit supervisor Mary Olivares told The Monitor that the horses “allow the agents to work in areas that are not accessible to other vehicles.”
Furthermore, she said, the horses are stealthier mounts than motorized vehicles and are able to stand still for long periods under cover of brush to allow immigrants or smugglers to approach and situations to develop.
“These animals are very stealthy. Compared to an ATV or an SUV, you can walk right up to a suspect and they won’t hear you coming,” Olivares said.
The horses are not used for pursuits, but their early detection capability allows their agents to call for backup sooner and more effectively, ending many foot chases before they can begin.
“These animals are very alert,” Olivares said. “Out on the field, they may sense a person hiding in the brush when the agent can’t see them, but he will be alerted by the horse’s reaction.”
She said sector officials plan to expand the mounted unit beyond the six mustangs that are initially trained.
Previously, sector officials leased horses, not allowing riders to bond with their mounts.
Now, agents assigned to the horses will form lifelong bonds with the animals, training and caring for their mounts and allowing agent and horse to form partnerships and read each other’s nonverbal signals.
That alerts the agent when the horse is injured or senses danger, Olivares said.
Chicago IL Oct 4 2011 Two of the first five houses immediately west of George Leland Elementary School are vacant, and the boarded-up home next to Sherman Carter’s has long served as a haven for dogfighters and drug dealers, he said.
Carter, 68, said this brick two-story home in the Austin neighborhood — its wooden porch sagging, its front gates held together by a chain — is more than just a “filthy eyesore,” because it sits along the route children walk to school.
I know it endangers them,” Carter said.
Aiming to bolster student safety and hold banks accountable for foreclosures and vacant properties, City Council members and the Chicago Teachers Union are pushing a measure that would force owners of large numbers of houses to post security guards at empty homes they own near schools or face fines of up to $1,000 per violation.
Supporters of the ordinance to be introduced Wednesday say it would protect students while forcing lenders to accept accountability for risky loans that led to a wave of foreclosures.
The lack of safe passage for many Chicago Public Schools students, which came dramatically to light with the 2009 beating death of Derrion Albert near Fenger High School, stops children from coming to school and prevents them from learning, said Bonita Robinson, a teacher who retired before this school year.
“These are brilliant children in these areas,” said Robinson, on the street with Carter in Austin, waving her hand around the neighborhood in which she taught for 39 years. “But they don’t have the supports built in.”
Citing foreclosures on more than 10,500 homes in 2010, the ordinance would compel owners of five or more buildings in the city to post a daytime guard at any vacant building within 1,000 yards of a public school. The ordinance would also call for night guards at all vacant building.
The ordinance, championed by council members Deborah Graham, 29th, and Robert Fioretti. 2nd, calls for fines of $1,000 for each violation within 1,000 yards of a school. The legislation says fines wouldn’t apply to buildings “secured by methods approved by the commissioner of buildings,” though those methods aren’t specified.
The ordinance defines “owner” as an entity “owning, maintaining, operating, collecting rents for, or having any legal or equitable interest in any building, including a mortgagee or its assignee or agent.”
The proposal is similar, Fioretti said, to one that failed to gain traction last year, but he added that he is optimistic the measure can pass.
CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll said school administrators had not reviewed the ordinance as of Sunday.
She noted that school district is putting about $10 million this year toward the Safe Passage program, which aims to protect students on the path to school. She also cited an initiative, piloted at Fenger, to expand security camera systems to 14 more schools. Reported crimes in schools have dropped 22 percent over the last two years, she said.
“Providing safe passage for our students to and from school is a top priority for CPS,” she said in an email.
It’s also a priority to teachers who want to “defend and protect” the communities they teach in,” said Jackson Potter, of the teachers union.
Standing near the Austin elementary school, Fioretti said the ordinance would assign responsibility to banks for vacant homes that can serve as crime magnets.
“The kids, when they pass by these places, all kinds of things can happen to them,” he said, just after supporters of the ordinance walked the block, chanting along with a megaphone-wielding leader. “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out.”
The house next to Carter’s has been vacant for more than three years, Carter said. He and other neighbors hounded police about it, occasionally cleaning up the premises themselves until a few days ago, when a crew came to work on the property, he said.
Carter and his neighbors would occasionally go into the building and find pit bulls, some living, some dead, he said, while drug dealers used the house as a base. He doesn’t know who owns the house, Carter said.
Bonita Robinson, the teacher, recalled going to students’ homes to bring them to class. Students who don’t feel safe on the street are less likely to show up, she said. And students who worry for their safety can’t focus on their studies, she said, standing in front of a house with its doors and windows covered in plywood.
“This is tied in with academics,” she said.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle cuts jobs, furloughs workers, gives bodyguards raises www.privateofficer.com
Chicago IL Oct 4 2011 Even as Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle cuts jobs, furloughs workers and talks about closing county facilities to deal with a budget crunch, she’s given pay raises to her three bodyguards, all who have been on the job for less than a year.
The top-paid member of Preckwinkle’s three-man security detail, Delwin Gadlen — a former Chicago cop who started with the county last Jan. 5 — saw his yearly salary raised on July 7 to $100,260, up from $90,290. He made about $75,000 a year with the Chicago Police Department before moving to the county payroll, records show.
Gadlen, who also was an unpaid volunteer for Preckwinkle’s successful campaign for county board president, says he was picked for Preckwinkle’s detail because of his experience in law enforcement and his master’s degree.
Preckwinkle spokeswoman Jessey Neves says political considerations were “not a determining factor” in hiring Gadlen and the other two members of the detail.
She says the raises Preckwinkle gave her bodyguards are appropriate because the detail’s “original salaries were based on a plan of [a four-member] security detail. We have, instead, remained at three individuals. Therefore, each individual is working longer hours than anticipated.”
Neves adds: “None of the security detail will be eligible for overtime.”
During the election campaign, Gadlen served as a driver “on his own time” for Preckwinkle, according to Neves.
Preckwinkle, a former Chicago City Council member, was elected last November. As county board president, she has “the right to recommend individuals for her security detail,” Neves says.
Typically, bodyguards for the county board president have been picked from the Cook County sheriff’s office, and they’ve gotten a pay raise when they move to the higher-profile job.
Gadlen and another Preckwinkle bodyguard, Kelvin Pope, came from outside county government. As a result, their salaries — and the pay raises given to them and the third member of the detail, Keith McLendon, after less than a year on the job — have added about $200,000 to the county payroll.
Pope previously was a University of Chicago police officer. His county salary is now $82,130, up from $75,077 before the raises went through in July.
McLendon was a correctional officer for the sheriff’s office, making $49,202, before joining Preckwinkle’s detail last Jan. 7. He saw his pay go up to $59,090 when he joined her staff and then, with the July raises, to $75,077.
Since joining Preckwinkle’s detail, all three bodyguards have gone through sheriff’s office training for that role, according to sheriff’s spokesman Steve Patterson.
Even with the raises, Preckwinkle’s security team costs taxpayers less than that of her predecessor as county board president, Todd Stroger, whom she defeated in last year’s Democratic primary. Stroger had as many as five officers in his bodyguard detail at one point, according to Patterson.
Salaries for Stroger’s security team in 2010 totaled about $310,000. Preckwinkle’s office projects that total salaries for her detail this year will be about $260,000, even with Gadlen making about $2,900 more than Stroger’s highest-paid security officer made.
Preckwinkle “maintains a comparatively modest security detail” that is “the responsible size given her long hours,” says Neves.
Cook County government is facing a budget deficit that’s now projected at $315 million. To deal with that, Preckwinkle has laid off 357 county workers and worked out a deal with organized labor for most of the 23,000-employee county workforce to take off 10 unpaid furlough days. But the county is still about $5 million short of Preckwinkle’s goal to cut $50 million this year.
Most other elected county officials don’t have bodyguards. Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown has one “driver/security person,” according to a spokeswoman for her office. State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has a security detail, but a spokeswoman won’t say how many bodyguards it includes. Doing without any bodyguards: Sheriff Tom Dart, Recorder of Deeds Gene Moore, Assessor Joe Berrios and Clerk David Orr.
Source:Chicago Sun Times
MEMPHIS, Tenn. Oct 4 2011 (AP) — Memphis authorities have made more arrests due to violence on Beale Street, a week after six people were shot outside a nightclub.
According to The Commercial Appeal, 10 people were arrested after several fights on Beale Street early Sunday morning that injured security personnel at a nightclub and three police officers.
Two officers were treated for injuries to their hands and wrists after detaining one person, while another was headbutted by a man involved in a fight at Club 152, according to police reports.
Authorities said a security guard was punched and another was bitten by a woman involved in a separate fight at the nightclub.
Five people were arrested for fighting, and five others were arrested for refusing to leave Beale Street.
Last week, six people had to be hospitalized following a shooting behind Club Crave on Beale Street.
The officer involved, who was working as contracted security at Hy-Vee, 1975 National Blvd., noticed the juvenile subject enter the store carrying a large bag, followed by two other subjects. The officer watched her place three bottles of alcohol into the bag and walk out of the store as the other two subjects purchased a bottle of juice.
The officer followed the subject out of the store, yelled for her to stop and placed her in handcuffs. As he went to approach the other two subjects, the juvenile slipped out of one of the handcuffs and began to flee.
The officer managed to catch her, and the subsequent struggle resulted in the officer sustaining multiple bite injuries on his arms. The two other subjects fled the scene.
The juvenile was transported to the Mary Davis Home.
The charges against her include retail theft, aggravated battery of a peace officer, resisting a peace officer and illegal consumption and possession of alcohol by a minor.
Washington County TN Oct 4 2011 A nursing home patient is facing a slew of charges after police say he stole a car with a child inside Sunday morning.
Steven K. Thornburg, 47, of Chuckey, Tenn., has been charged with grand larceny, abduction and eluding law enforcement following the incident, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, and more charges are pending.
According to the sheriff’s office, it began at the Greendale Home for the Aged in Washington County, where a man had stopped to pick up a patient to bring to church.
In the moments he left his vehicle unattended with his 9-year-old son inside, another nursing home patient allegedly took off in the vehicle, which was next spotted on West Main Street in Abingdon.
By then, the boy had been dropped off by the driver.
Law enforcement officers from the town, county and Virginia State Police pursued the vehicle onto Interstate 81 in a chase that reached 100 miles per hour.
The Sullivan County, Tenn., Sheriff’s Office and Tennessee Highway Patrol picked up the chase at the state line, with Washington County, Tenn., deputies and Kingsport police also assisting in the incident; the vehicle was finally stopped in Tennessee.
Thornburg was taken to a hospital for observation and is being held in the Sullivan County Jail awaiting extradition to Virginia.
Birmingham AL Oct 4 2011 Holy Smoke LLC in Alabama has serviced only two clients since launching in July, but founders Thad Holmes and Clem Parnell said they have seen an increase in interest as word spreads.
‘It’s about celebrating life,’ Holmes, a 16-year state conservation officer, said on Friday. ‘We know how strange it sounds to people who aren’t comfortable around guns, but for those who are, it’s not weird at all.’
‘People take ashes and spread them across lakes or forests or throw them in rivers, and nobody thinks twice about that. This is no different,’ said Holmes.
For a starting cost of $850 a pound of ash fills about 250 shotgun shells but rifle or pistol cartridges can also be used.
The pair have mostly received inquiries from members of law enforcement, fire departments and the military who wish to have their service honored in this unique way when they die.
But others have requested the service for their pets, particularly bird dogs, Holmes said.
Joyce Harrison of Spanish Fort, Alabama, said she understood why some people might recoil at the concept. But she wishes the option had been available seven years ago when her husband of 42 years died of cancer.
‘Toward the end he wasn’t able to spend as much time hunting as he liked, but he took off any time he felt strong enough to get through, and he always came home so relaxed and at peace with everything,’ she said. ‘This would have been perfect for him.’
NAPLES, FL Oct 4 2011- A hospital patient was arrested for allegedly discharging a fire extinguisher into the face of a nurse and a security officer at Naples Community Hospital early Monday morning.
According to Naples Police reports, a hospital security officer was called to help deal with unruly patient Daniel Wetzal.
Wetzal removed the fire extinguisher from the wall of his room and discharged it into the security officer’s face and at a nurse in the room.
The nurse and security officer subdued Wezal.
Wetzal was arrested for battery on a health car worker and security officer.
Green Bay WI Oct 4 2011 Thousands of Packer fans were still standing in long lines outside Lambeau Field and eventually missed the kickoff because of security measures implemented for the very first time Sunday. The new screening process is similar to a TSA hand-held wand inspection at an airport.
“The enhanced security measures will continue but we’ll be better at what we do,” Green Bay Police Chief Jim Arts said apologetically. “But fortunately they (fans) didn’t miss any scoring and fortunately it was a win.”
In addition to the poor planning by officials, a late arriving crowd from Milwaukee contributed to the backup. Jason Wied, VP of Administration/General Council, admits they’ve never dealt with delays this severe. He reminds fans in the future “as early as they can get there, the better it is.”
The new security protocol is a directive of the National Football League. It is response to an incident that occurred at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. last month, where a South Carolina man was arrested after allegedly using an illegal Taser during a fight with other fans during the Cowboys-Jets game.
Source:wisconsin radio network
Belmont University School of Law hires former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales www.privateofficer.com
Nashville TN Oct 4 2011 Belmont University School of Law has hired former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
Gonzales is a big score for the fledgling law school, which opened its doors this fall. No other law school in the country boasts a former U.S. attorney general on its full-time faculty, Belmont says.
But the hiring also comes with political baggage. Gonzales, as White House counsel, authored the 2002 memo that essentially green-lighted the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation” techniques such as waterboarding.
The university announced the hire Monday. Gonzales, who also served as chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court, will serve as the Doyle Rogers Distinguished Chair of Law. He starts work Jan. 2.
Announcing the appointment, College of Law Dean Jeff Kinsler ran through Gonzales’ lengthy resume — he spent years as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer; served as counsel to the president, justice of the Texas Supreme Court and Texas secretary of state; and has spent the past few years operating a consulting and mediation practice and teaching part time at Texas Tech University.
“The insight and experience Alberto Gonzales acquired … have helped Judge Gonzales develop into an outstanding professor,” Kinsler said in a statement. “We are incredibly fortunate that he has decided to join our charter faculty.”
In an interview with the student newspaper, Gonzales said he was drawn to the job partly because it was a chance to help shape a brand-new law school and partly because one of his sons is a Belmont student.
“I welcome the opportunity to be associated with the Belmont College of Law, and I look forward to working with an outstanding charter faculty to develop tomorrow’s leaders in the bar, the Nashville community and beyond,” Gonzales said in a statement.
The Belmont School of Law is a work in progress. The first law school class, 132 students, enrolled this fall, before the school had been accredited or the law school building was even built. The 71,000-square-foot Randall and Sadie Baskin Center is expected to be completed by summer 2012. The law school is scheduled to be reviewed for accreditation next year.
As Tennessee’s newest law school — and the first to open in the Nashville area in a century — Belmont could use some publicity, and the news of Gonzales’ hire made headlines across the country.
As White House counsel, Gonzales was an architect of the Bush administration’s war on terror. In a 2002 memo, without consulting the military or state department, he authorized the use of “enhanced interrogation” techniques such as waterboarding.
Belmont Provost Thomas Burns acknowledged that Gonzales could be a polarizing figure, but, “while holding one of the highest offices in the nation, it’s to be expected that Judge Gonzales would be the subject of some controversy.”
“However,” Burns added in an emailed statement, “he is also the subject of countless awards and commendations as both an attorney and public servant. He brings an unmatched wealth of experience and knowledge to Belmont’s College of Law and our students, and we are proud to have him join our faculty.”
Nashville civil rights attorney Jerry Gonzalez has a unique perspective on waterboarding, having gone through it in military Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape training.
“It was terrible. Anyone who says it is not torture has clearly never been waterboarded,” said Gonzalez, who said he “resisted and resisted” as instructors poured bucket after bucket of water over his cloth-covered face. By the end, “I was ready to give them my mother’s address and send them after her.”
But having Gonzales teach at Belmont “is no big deal,” Gonzalez said. It provides good name recognition for the university, he said, and law school students are so focused on the basics that it’s highly unlikely that issues such as torture will ever arise.
“Most of the classes students are taking are pretty basic,” Gonzalez said. “If a student did ask, ‘Professor, what about torture?’ most law school teachers use the Socratic method, so they’d come right back at them: ‘What do you think about torture?’ And (the class would) debate that among themselves and then move on to another topic.”