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News in Brief

AL: Gabel Taylor was shot and killed on July 18, 1996, after winning a bible knowledge contest. Taylor and his killer were comparing their knowledge of the bible. When Taylor won his opponent became angry, left, returned with a gun and shot him.

CA: On August 13, 1996, 27 prisoners were injured in a brawl between 70 black and Hispanic detainees in the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic. No cause was given for the disturbance.

CA: On June 17, 1996, at 4:30 PM a fight between 40 prisoners broke out at the minimum security Salinas Valley State Prison. Several prisoners suffered minor injuries. No cause was given for the fight.

CA: On August 12, 1996, police arrested James Ferris, a Chino prisoner serving a life sentence for murder, and charged him in the bludgeoning death of Ostark Youth Training School counselor Ineasie Baker, whose body was found in a landfill. Police claim Ferris killed Baker in the prison, then dumped the body in the garbage where it was then taken from the prison to the landfill.

CA: On July 15, 1996, federal judge George King sentenced former INS guard Paina Moeai to 21 months in prison for assaulting an INS detainee who had escaped from the INS San Pedro Detention Center. Upon recapturing the escapee, who faced deportation to Cuba, Moeai beat the detainee on two occasions, causing a concussion and bruises. Moeai was convicted of violating a prisoner's civil rights. Judge King said Moeai's conduct "calls into question the whole system of justice."

MA: In August, 1996, Laurence Fordham, a Boston business lawyer, was disciplined by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court for charging a client $50,000 to defend him against a drunk driving charge. Fordham said he is being punished for working too hard, claiming he spent 227 hours preparing the defense of Timothy Clark, who won an acquittal.

NC: The state is preparing to spend $75 million in 1997 renting prison space in county jails and out of state prisons in order to house state prisoners.

NJ: On May 31, 1996, former Somerset County prosecutor Nicholas Bissell was convicted of 30 federal criminal charges, among them: fraud, perjury, obstruction of justice, abusing the power of his office and conspiring to defraud the IRS. His wife Barbara was convicted on 13 counts. The charges stem from the Bissells skimming $146,000 from a service station they owned, without the knowledge of their business partners. Witnesses testified that Bissell threatened to plant cocaine in a gas supplier's car. Bissell was also suspended from the practice of law by the state supreme court.

OH: On August 2, 1996, former Ohio state prison guards Edward Andrade and James Hess were indicted on multiple counts of sexual assault and battery arising from their molestation of female prisoners at the Columbus Medical Center, a DOC hospital.

TX: In June, 1996, DEA chemist Anne Castillo was suspended after being confronted and admitting filing false reports. Castillo reported results on drug evidence without conducting any of the required tests. She simply fabricated test results. Consequently, hundreds of federal drug cases in a seven state area may be affected.

WA: Clark County district court judge Randall Fritzler was censured by the Commission on Judicial Conduct on August 12, 1996, for having a consentual sexual relationship with a court secretary. Both were married, but not to each other. The commission said the relationship violated three canons on judicial conduct: that judges uphold the judiciary's integrity and independence; avoid impropriety and carry out their duties diligently and impartially. The secretary was married to a Vancouver attorney who often appeared before Fritzler.

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