The Seminole County sheriff's office said in a statement that during the sequestration, "Jurors had individual rooms and convened regularly in a suite for meals and to socialize."
The all-female jury of six was sequestered beginning on Friday, June 21, and spent 22 nights at the Marriott in Lake Mary, Fla.
"Jurors watched television and movies, exercised at the hotel fitness center, and spent weekends being visited by family and friends," the sheriff's statement said, noting that jurors could also request visits from members of the religious community. Anyone visiting members of the jury were asked to sign an agreement indicating they would not discuss the case with the jury member.
Most breakfasts and dinners were provided through the hotel. Jurors dined out a couple of times: at Outback Steakhouse in Sanford and at Amigo's in Altamonte Springs. Dinner was also brought in from Giovanni's in Lake Mary. Lunches typically took place at the courthouse with lunch brought in from area restaurants. The group went out for lunch twice, both times to Senior Tequila's in Winter Springs.
"Jurors also enjoyed several evening and weekend excursions to include bowling, shopping at the Volusia Mall, a day and dinner in St. Augustine (to include a visit to the Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum), manicures and pedicures, and watching fireworks on the fourth of July," the sheriff's office reported. "Jurors also went to the movies to see "World War Z" and "The Lone Ranger. All movies viewed were preapproved by the court."
Lawyers and legal experts said that although some of the expenses — such as pedicures — might initially seem luxurious, the cost and the amenities provided were not unreasonable.
"It certainly seems reasonable to me that a woman would desire a bit of personal grooming over 22 days," said Randy Reep, a Florida attorney. "Going to the movies and having basic levels of entertainment — I cannot see Ripley's to be extravagant — seems very reasonable over three weeks."
Reep added, "These women of course are not criminals, yet we took them from their families. While we did not say this then, now it is clear, half of the country is going to very vocally find fault with your dedicated effort. A Bloomin Onion at Outback would not adequately reimburse these women for the bitterness" some will level at them for their jury service.
Elizabeth Parker, a Florida criminal defense attorney and former assistant state prosecutor, said the $33,000 total cost sounds fair.
"When a jury is sequestered for a significant amount of time, like in this case, a judge has to be mindful of how their isolation from the outside world could affect them and could potentially affect their ability to be fair and impartial," Parker said.
"Allowing the woman to get manicures and pedicures or enjoying other activities is important to the mental well-being of these jurors who are in a very stressful situation. Imagine four weeks of being confined to a courtroom all day and a hotel room at night and on the weekend, without any freedom or independence."
Robert Hirschhorn, a jury consultant who was instrumental in helping George Zimmerman's defense team pick an all-female jury, said $33,000 in sequestration fees seemed low to him. The cost was a "small price to pay for the enormity of the task the jurors undertook," Hirschhorn said.
"They left their husbands, their children, their friends, their jobs, they were essentially 'imprisoned' for three weeks," he said of the jurors. "They could not watch what they wanted on TV, listen to the radio, read what they want in the newspaper or surf the Web."
With no court on weekends or holidays, jurors needed things to do, he added.
"Almost every sequestered jury gets some type of field trip to pass the time and distract them from the enormity of the task before them," Hirschhorn said.
Jurors were permitted to go to appointments for personal care if accompanied by deputies.
"All television, internet use, reading materials, mail, and phone calls were screened, monitored and logged by deputies to ensure jurors were not exposed to any trial information, or content related to the criminal justice system," the sheriff's office said. "Jurors were permitted to receive their cellphones once per day to check voice mails and make telephone calls in the presence of a deputy."
Jurors paid for their own personal purchases and appointment costs. The sheriff's office paid for the movie and bowling excursions and the Ripley's admission. Although exact costs are not yet available, the hotel cost was approximately $1,000 daily, and meals were approximately $375 per day. The excursion expenses were approximately $350.
"In total, sequestrations costs were approximately $33,000," the sheriff's office said.
The sheriff's office is still compiling the agency's total costs associated with the trial. Preliminary figures indicate the sheriff's office spent approximately $320,000 on overtime, equipment, and other trial-related expenses.
"This is a way to track all Americans all the time, regardless of whether they're accused of any wrongdoing" — ACLU.
Police across the USA are using automatic cameras to read and snap digital photos of millions of car license plates to help solve crimes, but in the process stores information on millions of innocent people, the American Civil Liberties Union says in a report out Wednesday.
The digital dragnet mostly collects data that are unrelated to any suspected lawbreaking or known activity of interest to law enforcement. It is a fast-growing trend ripe for misuse and abuse, the ACLU says.
License plate scanners are "in effect, government location tracking systems recording the movements of many millions of innocent Americans in huge databases," said ACLU staff attorney Catherine Crump, the report's lead author. The ACLU says there is little supervision or control over the data that were recorded, usually without motorists realizing their locations have been recorded.
"This is a way to track all Americans all the time, regardless of whether they're accused of any wrongdoing," said Crump, calling the readers "the most widespread location tracking technology you've probably never heard of."
The ACLU report is based on information compiled from Freedom of Information requests a year ago in 38 states and the District of Columbia.
One striking finding is the lack of standardized procedures for dealing with license plate information.
In Minnesota, pop. 5.3 million, the State Patrol purges scanned data after 48 hours and has fewer than 20,000 license-plate readings on file, the ACLU found.
Milpitas, Calif., pop. 68,000, has 4.7 million license-plate scans on file and no policy for erasing them. Police Sgt. Frank Morales says Milpitas, "is a small community, but we attract very many visitors. We have a large mall here, the Great Mall," and that could account for the outsize number of license plate records. "A person who gets his (stolen) car back probably would see (scanners) as a success," he says.
The plate scanners generally are mounted on the rear fender, trunk or roof of police cars and parking enforcement vehicles. Some also are mounted on road signs, toll gates or bridges. They're rarely part of the larger debate on government surveillance, but a 2012 survey by the not-for-profit Police Executive Research Forum found that 71% of police agencies now use them.
Thursday's ACLU findings come just over a month after Americans first learned of a massive National Security Agency electronic surveillance program that, since 2007, has tracked millions of phone records and e-mails. The program was secret until early last month, when disclosed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. He has left the U.S. and faces espionage charges.
And unlike the mountain of mostly anonymous calling data gathered by the NSA, the plate data include a specific location and can be, via a separate police inquiry, correlated to personal data in the state motor vehicle registration records.
Police say the devices are effective at finding stolen vehicles and cutting auto theft rates.
Police also say they've used readers to solve cold cases, including homicides.
The ACLU report says the plate scanning casts a wide net for little gain — that only "a tiny fraction of the license plate scans are flagged as 'hits.' For example, in Maryland, for every million plates read, only 47 (0.005%) were potentially associated with a stolen car or a person wanted for a crime." In one Sacramento shopping mall, private security officers snapped pictures of about 3 million plates in 27 months, identifying 51 stolen vehicles — but that's a success rate of just 0.0017%.
"Yet the documents show that many police departments are storing – for long periods of time – huge numbers of records on scanned plates that do not return 'hits.' For example, police in Jersey City, N.J., recorded 2.1 million plate reads last year. As of August 2012, Grapevine, Texas, had 2 million plate reads stored and Milpitas, Calif., had 4.7 million," the report says.
Police Sgt. Frank Morales said Milpitas, pop. 68,000, "is a small community, but we attract very many visitors. We have a large mall here, the Great Mall," and that could account for the outsize number of license plate records. It's a discount mall situated between two interstate highways and two freeways.
Report: License plate date on millions of innocent motorists kept indefinitely
Civil liberties activists say the data could be used to track innocent drivers' whereabouts and private lives, including where they worship. Even the International Association of Chiefs of Police has said there's a potential for invasion of privacy, as plate readers can snap pictures of a car at a political gathering, psychologist's office, abortion clinic or church and have recommended tight control over use of the data.
In perhaps the most high-profile case, police in New York City used the readers to record license plates of congregants as they arrived to pray at a mosque in Queens.
Part of their appeal for police is that they are efficient and relatively cheap. They can scan plates about eight times more quickly than a cop with a laptop driving down the road, a recent study found.
As the device costs drop, said Crump, "Even small-town police departments have it within their budget to buy one." The cost of storing data has also dropped she said, so police can store images "not just for days but for weeks or months or even years." Eventually, she said, agencies could share the data to build a detailed travel profile "of all Americans simply because they chose to drive a car."
Over the past few years, federal anti-terrorism funding also has helped more police agencies get them. Police in New Castle County, Del., used a $200,000 federal grant to purchase 10 cameras that they've mounted on vehicles, said police spokesman Cpl. John Weglarz. "For us it's an effective tool. It's one of those things that we've obviously researched and we feel (that) as long as our officers are using it within proper guidelines and within the policy, it acts as an effective tool."
He said his agency keeps the license data for one year and said any officer misusing the data "would be subjected to a disciplinary action."
He said drivers shouldn't be concerned about privacy breaches. "We use (the data) within the proper channels and … it gets stored for a year and that's it," he said.
That's the policy there, but the ACLU says that in 45 states there are no laws on how long police can keep the records.
"More and more cameras, longer retention periods, and widespread sharing allow law enforcement agents to assemble the individual puzzle pieces of where we have been over time into a single, high-resolution image of our lives," the report says.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that police need a court order to attach a GPS tracker to a suspect's car, but ACLU says the USA's growing network of license readers could someday allow police to do the same thing without a warrant as they tie together individual snapshots of innocent drivers' cars.
Police say that drivers have no expectation of privacy on a public streets.
Privacy activists see it less clear-cut.
"There's a difference between walking down a public sidewalk and being observed, vs. walking down the next sidewalk and being observed, and walking down the next sidewalk and being observed, and walking down another sidewalk and being observed, and walking down the sidewalk next week and being observed," says Amie Stepanovich, lawyer at the Electronic Privacy Information Center and director of the group's domestic surveillance project.
"The prevalent use of automatic plate readers is a threat to privacy. They can be used to track the location of individuals. And there are no laws governing the retention of the information," she says. "This is an issue we've been following for quite some time. We've had quite a few inquiries," she says.
Mobile readers don't discriminate between public and private settings. In one case, a San Leandro, Calif., man got police to hand over all the photos of his Toyota Tercel for the past two years and found that they were photographing him almost weekly, according to The Wall Street Journal. One snapshot captured him and his two daughters getting out of a car in their driveway.
In another case, the Minneapolis Star Tribune found last August that Mayor R.T. Rybak's city-owned cars were photographed 41 times by license readers over the course of a year.
Last summer, the ACLU filed nearly 600 Freedom of Information Act requests in 38 states and Washington, asking federal, state and local agencies how they use the readers. The 26,000 pages of documents produced by the agencies that responded – about half – include training materials, internal memos and policy statements.
The civil liberty organization has more than a dozen recommendations for government use of license plate scanner systems and the data collected, including:
•Police must have reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred before examining the data.
•Unless there are legitimate reasons to retain records, they should be deleted within days or weeks at most.
•People should be able to find out if their cars' location history is in a law enforcement database.
Ariel Castro, 53, has been jailed since his arrest on May 6 shortly after the women escaped to freedom.
For the most part, Castro responded to the judge's questions with one-word answers as he faced charges that included 512 counts of kidnapping and 446 counts of rape.
Judge Pamela Barker repeatedly told him to raise his head and keep his eyes open so "I make sure that you are listening to me and understanding what I'm saying, OK?"
"I'm trying," said Castro, who in past court appearances had kept his head down and his chin tucked on his chest.
The judge continued his bond at $8 million.
One of his attorneys, Craig Weintraub, declined later to discuss Castro's courtroom demeanour. "I'm not going to comment on that," he said.
Castro is accused of repeatedly restraining the women, sometimes chaining them to a pole in a basement, to a bedroom heater or inside a van. The charges say one of the women tried to escape and he assaulted her with a vacuum cord around her neck.
The charges returned Friday by a grand jury against Castro expanded on a 329-count indictment filed earlier that covered only part of the time frame of the alleged crimes. He previously pleaded not guilty to that indictment.
Besides kidnapping and rape, the new 977-count indictment also charges him with seven counts of gross sexual imposition, six counts of felonious assault, three counts of child endangerment and one count of possessing criminal tools.
He previously was charged with two counts of aggravated murder related to one act, charges alleging that he purposely caused the unlawful termination of the pregnancy of one of the women.
Castro is scheduled for trial on Aug. 5, a date that could be delayed if the defence requests more preparation time. His legal team has hinted Castro would plead guilty if the death penalty was off the table.
Weintraub said after the arraignment that he didn't expect a trial postponement.
"We have a trial date of Aug. 5, so either we're going to have a plea or we're going to trial Aug. 5," he said.
The prosecution has said it would be ready for that date.
Amanda Berry, Gina Dejesus and Michelle Knight disappeared separately between 2002 and 2004, when they were 14, 16 and 20 years old. Each said they had accepted a ride from Castro, who remained friends with Dejesus' family and even attended vigils over the years marking her disappearance.
Berry has a 6-year-old daughter fathered by Castro, authorities said.
The Associated Press does not usually identify people who may be victims of sexual assault, but the names of the three women were widely circulated after they disappeared, and the women appeared on a video last week to thank the public for its support.
The cost of a college education in the United States has skyrocketed over the past 15-20 years, and more and more of our young adults are starting their lives drowning in student loan debt. Instead of helping American citizens, President Obama has decided to send $20M of our tax dollars to Indonesia to help their citizens get Masters degrees.
Worst of all, these Indonesian students will be attending United States’ universities, so they will be graduating with the same credentials as our citizens. They’ll have an advantage because they’ll be willing to work for less salary than their American counterparts, because they don’t have thousands of dollars in student loans to pay back.
In other words, our tax dollars are now working against us, and for Muslim people in Indonesia.
Is this what you would spend our tax dollars on?
SAPELE— SEVEN Itsekiri communities affected in the July 2, 2013 unprovoked attack and arson by a band of Ijaw youths in Delta State, have given the Federal, Delta State and Warri North Local Governments a 30-day ultimatum to fish out the criminals or they would carry out reprisal on Ijaw suburbs in the area.
The seven Olero satellite communities at an emergency meeting in Sapele to deliberate on the mayhem unleashed on them by an Ijaw militia, Egbema Radical Group, ERG, further threatened to blow up oil installations in Niger Delta region, including the Chevron Nigeria Limited manifold in Olero creek if their ultimatum was not heeded.
They said that the killing no fewer than 12 Itsekiri and burning of seven communities should not be taken as a trivial matter.
The communities also requested the council, state and Federal Governments to take steps to rehabilitate displaced persons in the affected villages and rebuild their burnt houses without further delay, if government wants peace in the region.
Representatives of the affected villages: Mr. Orighomisan Omatsuli (Jakpa Community); Mr. Augustine Dorsu, Aja-Amitan community; Mr. Tony Oweghoro, Ebrohimi community; Mr. Taye Olekowe, Gbokoda community; Mr. Godfrey Ofeyinor, Tebu community; Mr. Augustine Fuludu Obaghoro community; Mr. David Akpere, Udo community and chairman, Olero satellite communities, Mr. Victor Awowo told Vanguard that they were ready for a showdown with the Ijaw militants.
They added that relief materials should be sent by the different tiers of government to the displaced people without further delay.
The communities accused Joint military Task Force, JTF, Operation Pulo shield of being insensitive, callous and negligent to the plight of Itsekiri people, who were killed during the crisis and insisted that the JTF men stationed in Olero creek and Chevron manifold facility, could have averted the carnage, if they wanted.
The people also condemned the attitude of the soldiers on duty around the Ajide Lagos Junction, where JTF has a house boat and two gun boats, saying “these soldiers would have averted the killing of five people in Eghoro community, which is just about 40 yards away from where the soldiers‘ two gun boats were stationed.
“It is the usual attitude of the soldiers to resume duty at the Olero creek Chevron manifold as well as the Lagos Ajide Junction every 5pm and close by 6am the following day, but on the day of the killings, the soldiers resumed much later and closed much earlier, thus not having the opportunity to avert the mayhem.
“We have no other option than to take laws into our hands with actions of several and mightier consequences on oil installations that will attract attention of the three tiers of government if our demands are not met.”