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X- Are You Obsessed with Your Spouses Ex?

Are you Obsessed with your Ex? Worse, Are you Obsessed with your Spouses Ex?

Do you have a character in your book who is obsessive, perhaps suffering from a personality disorder? Or maybe your character is just an insecure person? Perhaps we are discussing your evil villain?

We read articles every day about woman and men, unwilling to let go of their past; they hang on & cling to past relationships. I want to bring awareness to another type of obsession that is just as dangerous, unhealthy and destructive: Obsessed with your partner's ex.

With the advent of the Internet, law enforcement has been inundated with a new kind of bullying and stalking, Internet stalkers and cyber bullies have found an area where they feel safer, because of the illusion of anonymity. Teen bullying has been addressed in many recent blog post and we've all run across articles pertaining to the obsession of an ex, but law enforcement is now dealing with a widespread trend of stalkers whose target is someone the predator considers the competition. Woman (and men) are using social media and anonymity to stalk their partner's ex romantic interest.

10 Signs that you are obsessed with your partner's eX- romantic partner.

First of all, it is normal for humans to be somewhat curious about our partner's past relationships. We want to know what went wrong and it's also completely healthy & normal to occasionally wonder about the ex:

What does he or she look like? Are they prettier or more handsome than I am?  When do you cross the line from normal and healthy curiosity to an obsessed, crazed, insecure stalker?

Read the list of warning signs. How many apply to you or your character? More than a few and you or your character might need to consider seeking help from a trained mental health professional.

1. You think about your partner's ex on a daily basis

2. You know as much or more about this person as his or her friends know

3. You stalk their social media pages: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Blogs etc.

4. You constantly ask you partner about his/her ex

5. You spend hours sifting through old photos of your partner and his/her ex (or just photos of the ex)

6. You pretend to be someone else and comment on his/her blog or website

7. Your obsession is causing problems in your own relationship

8. You conduct your Internet searches, comments, tweets, post, etc. in private or secretly

9. You comprise your own post, tweets, comments or Internet remarks with the object of your obsession in mind (you fantasize about their reaction)

10. You lie about your partner's ex and bash them publicly and/or on the Internet

If two or more of the above listed criteria, ring true, it's time you step back and take inventory of your life and your relationship. If you suffer low self esteem or have a low self image, you can work with a trained mental health professional to build your confidence.

If you recognize yourself in the above criteria and you do nothing then at a minimum you are looking at a short lived romance with your partner. Think about it: Does your obsession with his/her ex cause friction in your relationship ? Does it feel like a marriage/relationship of three? Is your partner inciting your obsessive behavior? Does he/she goad you? If that's the case, perhaps you're in an unhealthy relationship. However, if you have a loving and loyal partner and you still find yourself obsessed with his past, then you need to address the issue. If not, disaster is brewing.

Least case scenario: Your unhealthy obsession ruins what could have been happy and healthy romance

Worst case scenario: Your obsession & stalking will lead to a law suit and/or criminal charges 

I will post letter Y, tonight and yippee ......tomorrow is letter Z
 Let's make a final push, visit twice as manyA to Z blogging challenge post, today & tomorrow.

W- Warrant of Execution

Death Sentence Warrant

Letter W- Warrant: 

For the letter W, I was going to discuss search warrants, but changed my mind and decided to touch on a different warrant, one that we normally, don't hear as much about.

Warrant Of Execution:

In Louisiana, the Code of Criminal Procedure provides that once the Supreme Court of Louisiana affirms a sentence of death, after review on appeal, the court of original jurisdiction (trial court) shall cause to be delivered to the Secretary of The Department of Public Safety and Corrections, a certified copy of the indictment, verdict, sentence and a copy of the judgment affirming the sentence.

The trial court shall also issue a warrant commanding the secretary to cause the execution of the condemned prisoner. The warrant shall specify the date upon which the condemned shall be put to death, which date shall not be less than sixty days nor more than ninety days from the date the warrant is issued. In Louisiana, an execution can only be carried out between the hours of 6 and 9 P.M.

Now, you are probably saying, hold on a prisoner is ever executed that swiftly. And you'd be right. That's what the law states, but then we have something called the appellate process that intervenes. After State appeals are exhausted, the defendant will begin the process in federal court. And, so begins the plethora of last minute appeals.

If any federal or Louisiana court grants a stay of execution, or if the governor of Louisiana grants a reprieve the trial court must reset the date of the execution and the process begin all over again.

A woman cannot be executed if she is pregnant. Did you know that an incompetent person cannot be executed, but he may be given medication to make him competent so that he can then be executed?

The process is a lengthy one and it is physically, mentally, and emotionally draining on all involved parties.

Are you for or against the death penalty? Has your opinion changed in the past 5-10 years? Does your state have the death penalty? If so what is the average amount of time that an inmate lives on death row before he (or she) is executed?

In Louisiana, the process takes a minimum of twelve years and sometimes more than twenty. I prosecuted my first death penalty case in 2000 and the condemned has not even come close to his execution date.

Read this, if you are interested in a more detailed blog post that I wrote, last year, on the death penalty: Death Penalty: Countdown to an Execution.

I have some more gift cards to award. I also have two more winners to announce on Sunday or Monday and I've selected the winner for the Robbery question, which will also be announced Sunday or Monday.

As with all my other post for the 2013 A to Z blogging challenge, this information is provided to you for entertainment purposes only. We are nearing the end and I hope you've found this information helpful in writing your mysteries, suspense, thrillers and other crime fiction.

Motion to Vacate

Vacation: I know what y'all are thinking and hell yes, a vacation would be perfect, but not that kind of "Vacation."

Since we're still making our way through the alphabet, this vacation will fall in with my crimes, criminal law & courtroom procedure for crime fiction writers. 

Vacation: The annulment of a previous judgment or decision, the act of setting aside or canceling.

This motion is usually filed by a party to a lawsuit who lost the suit by default because they failed to appear in court. The mover must show the court that the judgment was issues in error, usually because the moving party was not properly served and was not aware he was expected to appear in court.

You're basically saying, " judge, this is unfair. I wasn't even aware of the suit so I did not have an opportunity to defend against the allegations of wrongdoing ." 

You are asking the judge to vacate  the judgment against you and order a new trial .

Usufruct Interest in Property & Quitclaim Deeds

Usufruct~ Say what? Use of what?

Louisiana estate law has what is called Usufruct & Rights of Inhabitation.

The usufruct of something is similar to what some states call a "Life Estate."

Suppose a man with grown children remarries and wants to to leave his home to his children, but does not want his new wife to be put out on the street, upon his death. He can designate, in his will, that his wife will have the usufruct of the home. What does that mean? It means that upon the wife's death, the family home reverts back to his children. The usufruct, unless otherwise stated, also terminates upon the wife's remarriage.

So how is this different than owning the property, you ask. When a person completely owns property, the ownership gives the owner certain rights, including the right to use and dispose of the property as he or she sees fit. The true owner can sell, destroy, convey, or transfer his rights. 

A usufruct is a right in property, owned by someone else, normally for a specified, limited period of time or until death. A person with a usufruct has the right to use the property, enjoy the fruits of the property, rent the property and collect the rent money, to the exclusion of the real, true or naked owner, but they cannot dispose of the property. They also cannot destroy the property and the person with the usufruct right in property, does not have the right or ownership to will the property to their heirs.

A usufruct is a legal right, granted by one person to another. 

Now, I am heading off letter here, but I received an email from a reader, asking me to explain the legal term, quitclaim deed. Apparently, I mentioned earlier this year, that I would try and cover the quitclaim topic during the A to Z challenge. My apologies and I will now provide a brief answer.

What is a Quitclaim Deed?

More importantly, what right does a person (the character in your book) convey to another, when they sign a quitclaim deed?

Quitclaim deed: Transfers or "quit" any interest in real property. The problem arises when the grantor is not in the title or has only a partial or minimal interest in the property. A quitclaim deed is not a warranty deed and the grantee cannot assume that the grantor has any real interest to convey.

A quitclaim deed is the least protective deed. In a nutshell, a quitclaim deed only conveys whatever rights or interest the grantor has in the property. Quitclaim deeds are often used to transfer property between family members and between parties to a divorce. You will often find one party to the divorce conveying their ownership rights of the marital home via quitclaim deed. This is often as a result of a court order by the judge handling the divorce. Remember, however, the mortgage company is not obligated by this transfer and the lender does not care about the divorce. 

If both parties were originally on the mortgage, the party who assumes ownership via the quitclaim deed normally must refinance the home (not always, the conveying spouse may agree to remain liable on the mortgage.) A big problem arises, when only one party was originally on the mortgage.

Example: Tom and Susie get married and either Tom owns the home prior to the marriage or Tom is granted a mortgage by the lender in his name only. This can happen for a variety of reasons, but a common one is that Susie's credit would have hurt their loan application. Now, Tom is the sole name on the mortgage and sometimes the deed will be in only Tom's name and sometimes it may wind up in both their names. However, only Tom has a contract with the lender. Tom and Susie divorce and Susie remains in the home and Tom signs a quitclaim deed. Is Tom off the hook?

 No way. 

Susie is unable to refinance the home in her name only (big possibility since Tom viewed her as a credit risk to begin with which is why he obtained the mortgage in his name only). What is Tom's recourse?

If Susie continues to timely pay the mortgage, Tom may opt to do nothing. But, if Tom finds that this arrangement is hurting his chances of obtaining a new loan for a new home, Tom can force a sale of the home unless Susie is able to refinance the home in her name only or pay off the mortgage in full.

Example: Tom & Susie own a home and both their names are on the mortgage and deed, they divorce. Tom remarries and remains in the home. Tom signs a quitclaim deed conveying his interest in the home to his new wife. What does the quitclaim deed transfer to the new wife? 

Only the portion that Tom owns, it does not alter or change Susie's ownership at all.

Example: Change the facts a bit and the home is in Susie's name and her name is the only name on the mortgage. Tom remarries and signs a quitclaim deed conveying one half of his interest to his new wife. What interest has Tom conveyed to his new wife?

That's right, Zero interest. Tom can only convey through quitclaim deed, what ownership rights he has and when he has none, his quitclaim deed conveys exactly that, none.

Hop over to the sign up list for the 2013 A to Z blogging challenge and help those bloggers who still have under fifty (50) or one hundred (100) followers, reach their next big milestone.

See you tomorrow. Wow, are we on the letter V, already?

T- Trace Evidence

What is Trace Evidence?

Connecting a suspect to a crime scene is essential to proving guilt. One method of developing such a link is comparing trace evidence.

The major kinds of trace evidence: The list in not an exhaustive list.

1. Hair
2. Fibers: Questioned fibers can be compared to fibers from a known source, such as carpet fibers
3. Fabric
4. Feathers
5. Minerals
6. Glass
7. Paint
8. Explosives
9. Dust & Dirt
10. Fluids
11. Blood
12. Bite marks
13. Headlamp Filaments
14. Shoe Prints
15. Tool Marks
16. Arson Debris
17. Wounds
18. Questioned documents.
19. Paint

That's all for today. A short post as we are all probably in need of some down time.

Strychnine: Classic & Painful Poisons

Strychnine: An Agonizing Death For Your Fictional Character:

Letter- S of the A to Z Blogging Challenge

Kill her with the slower acting poison, strychnine. 

You must really want your character to suffer...and suffer she will. Picture your character buckling to the floor and corkscrewing in agony while in the final throes of strychnine poisoning. While a popular choice for film and literature, it is not so popular in real life homicides.  One reason it may not be the most attractive real life choice for a killing is the bitter taste.

Strychnine is a colorless, crystalline powder with an extremely bitter taste. In literature, characters most often, swallow the deadly poison, but your victim can be poisoned by skin or eye contact. It can also be inhaled as a dust.

Strychnine attacks the central nervous system within ten to twenty minutes (sometimes longer if taken on a full stomach) and the symptoms are similar to tetanus or lockjaw. Symptoms start with the victim's face and neck becoming stiff, followed by uncontrollable and violent spasms in the arms and legs. The spasms become increasingly worse until the victim is almost continuously in an arched-back position. Think of a gymnast with both her hands and feet on the floor and her back in a high arch. The victim dies from asphyxiation.

Strychnine poisoning is usually fatal, unless the victim receives immediate medical care, before the convulsions and seizures begin.

Strychnine is listed at the highest level of toxicity and is currently used primarily as a rodent poison.

Listed as one of the top ten deadliest poisons in the world.

Agatha Christie once said, "Give me a decent bottle of poison and I'll construct the perfect crime." Read more about Christie's murders by poisons over on A Blog For English Lovers.

I'm sure many of you know this, but the story of Agatha Christie's beginning, goes something like this: Supposedly, during World War 1, a young woman challenged her sister to write a mystery in which the the villain commits an undetectable murder. The writer's response to that challenge was a brilliant and cleverly written piece of fiction that spins the tale of strychnine and murder. That story launched the career of one of the most famous mystery writers of all time. Agatha Christie's novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles was published in 1920 and Christie went on to write more than sixty more, successful mystery novels.

There is altogether too much strychnine about this case - The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha Christie,  1920.

Wow, we're nearing the end of the month. I can't believe it. I know I've slacked off lately, on visiting other blogs, especially new blogs (blogs new to me). Let's all make a big final push this week and visit as many other blogs as possible, in the A to Z blogging challenge.

Robbery- For Crime Fiction Writers

Robbery is one of the most confusing & misunderstood criminal offenses:

Robbery is often confused with the somewhat similar criminal offense: Burglary

Before I explain the difference, I should tell you the elements of the criminal offense, robbery.
{Keep in mind that criminal elements and definitions, vary from state to state.}

Simple Robbery: 
(1) The taking of anything of value
(2) Belonging to another
(3) From the person of another
(4) Or that is in the immediate control of the other
(5) By use of force or intimidation {but, not armed with a dangerous weapon.}

The crime is enhanced to Second Degree Robbery, when the offender inflicts serious bodily injury. It is further enhanced to First Degree Robbery, when the offender leads the victim to reasonably believe he is armed with a dangerous weapon; and the offense is enhanced to an Armed Robbery, when the offender, in fact, has a dangerous weapon.

There is one additional enhancement, which is actually an additional criminal offense: When the dangerous weapon used in the commission of an armed robbery is a firearm, the offender shall be imprisoned at hard labor for an additional five years (the five years is not subject to probation, parole of suspension of sentence} & shall be served consecutively to the sentence imposed for the armed robbery.

Simple robbery carries up to seven years, with or without hard labor and the penalty for each enhanced robbery carries a stiffer penalty, up to Armed Robbery which is punishable by imprisonment, at hard labor, without the benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence, for not less than ten years, nor more than ninety-nine years.

Without going into too much detail of each and every element of a burglary, here are the main distinctions between robbery and burglary:

A robbery requires the taking of something of value from another. A burglary is the unauthorized entering of a dwelling, car, boat or other structure, with the intent to commit a theft or felony, therein.

Do you recognize any of the important distinctions?

Unlawfully entering another person's home, car, or boat: Burglary, but not robbery.

Breaking into someones home with the intent to steal money: Burglary, but not robbery

Unlawfully entering someones home {without their permission}, but not breaking a window or lock, entering through an unlocked door, with the intent to rape the home's occupant: Burglary, not robbery.

It doesn't matter that the door is unlocked, it is an unlawful entry. The intent to commit a rape is the intent to commit a felony, therefore, a burglary. For a burglary to occur, it is irrelevant that the offender does not actually commit the theft or felony therein; the only requirement is the intent to commit a theft or felony, therein.

Robbery requires the actual taking of something of value, from another, belonging to another. So a man approaches a woman in a shopping mall parking lot, unarmed and demands that she give him her watch and shopping bags (I intentionally did not say purse, because purse snatching is a separate and distinct crime).The woman is frightened by the man and his size and obvious ability to harm her so she hands it over. This is a robbery.

The man knocks her to to the ground and stomps on her, leaving her unconscious~ this is a second degree robbery. 

The man has his hand inside of his sweatshirt-hoodie and is pointing something at her though his clothing, but the woman is unable to determine what it is. It could be a gun or could be his cell phone or merely his finger. So long as the victim is led to reasonably believe that the man is armed, it doesn't matter if he is actually armed. This is First degree robbery.


 If the man actually has a weapon, it is an armed robbery. 

Robbery requires, actual taking, so an unsuccessful attempt to take is an attempted robbery.

Today's Crime Fiction Play Along:

(1) Zoe needs to use the bathroom & she is locked out of her house. She's been drinking beer all day and is about to pee in her pants. She notices that her neighbor's door is unlocked, so she enters and relieves herself, while setting off the silent alarm. The police arrive and arrest Zoe. What crime is Zoe guilty of?

(a) Burglary
(b) Robbery
(c) All of the above
(d) None of the above

(2) Zach approaches a woman as she is getting into her car in a parking garage. Zach demands her money and tells her he will rape and kill her if she does not give it to him. He snatches her necklace from her neck and runs away. What crime has Zach committed?

(a) Armed Robbery
(b) Burglary
(c) Simple robbery
(d) First Degree Robbery

(3) Same fact pattern as above, except, in this scenario, Zach tell the woman that he is armed with a knife.

(a) Armed Robbery
(b) Simple Robbery
(c) First Degree Robbery
(d) Second Degree Robbery

(4) Zoe knocks her ex-boyfriend to the ground and takes the iPhone that he has in his pocket. Zoe is arrested, but the police learn the she is actually the true and rightful owner of the iPhone. What crime is Zoe guilty of?

(a) Armed Robbery
(b) Simple Robbery
(c) First Degree Robbery
(d) None of the above

Play along! Winner receives a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

How many blogs have you visited so far, in the 2013 A to Z Blogging Challenge?

Q- Motion to Quash & Quid Pro Quo

A Motion To Quash  & Quid Pro Quo:

A motion to quash is a motion to vacate, annul, or void, especially through judicial action. There are many reasons to file a motion to quash and as many things that need quashing.

Motion to quash a subpoena
Motion to quash an indictment
Motion to quash the make up of the grand jury

Notice I said, Motion to Quash~not Motion to Squash. I often hear people mistakenly referring to this motion as a motion to squash.

Quid Pro Quo: Latin term for what for what or something for something.

Here I am playing catch up again on the weekend.  I did not get around to playing any additional crime fiction games and as you can see my post for the letter "Q" is a day late. So I was going to choose a random commenter as the recipient of one of the $25 Amazon Gift Cards, but as I reviewed my comments,  I decided to bestow this gift  on someone who has faithfully read and commented on each and every one of my 2013 A to Z blogging challenge post.

Congratulations, Chuck, from Apocalypse Now. If you are not already following Chuck's blog, you should. He writes some amazing, off the wall post and even throws in some really cool, quirky and detailed stats & colored charts. They're a must see.

CompileBox - Your Website Information Compiled!

CompileBox - Your Website Information Compiled!

Prisons: Top 10-The Best, The Worst & The Most Unusual

Prisons: Top 10- The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, The Wacky & The Thriller Dancing Prison:

10. San Pedro Prison, LePaz Bolivia: Imagine a prison with no guards, no police and where the prisoners establish their own rules.  Inmates must purchase their cells, so the rich live in luxury (well as far as luxury goes in La Paz- in prison), and the poor in the ghetto cells. Inmates must work and the prison has stores and restaurants. Take a look for yourself. This is a short (little over a minute) you tube video clip.

Once you pass through the security gates, any resemblance to a normal prison disappears. Children are permitted to live in the prison, whole families may reside on the inside. There are schools, on the inside, for children to attend. If that doesn't blow your mind, take a stroll through the market stalls, dine at a restaurant {Okay, not a 4 star,'s prison, after all.} Want your hair cut, or a mani/pedi? Head over to the hair salon. There is even a hotel for guest. No guards, not metal bars, no weapons.  There is a small catch. As the saying goes: Nothing is free, freedom has it's price. And the San Pedro Prison is no exception. The inside of San Pedro Prison resembles the streets of Bolivia's poorest neighborhoods. Inmates must pay for their own cells,  so most have to work, inside the prison.

"If you have money you live like a king."  According to the fun & quirky website: Odee, Money buys posh private cell accommodations with their own bathrooms and kitchens. In the poorer section of the prison, inmates must still pay for their cell, but it is a small, shared cell.

San Pedro is also rumored to be a large producer of cocaine base.

What do yo think? Is this the way to go? Would it serve as a deterrent in America if we starting making criminals pay for the cost of their government ordered, mandatory residences?

9. Beauty Prison: If the above prison has a beauty shop, El Beun woman's prison in Bogota, Columbia is known for hosting their own inmate beauty pageants. "There she is...Ms. America..." I wonder how the inmates, who are incarcerated for drugs, murder and a host of other crimes, do on the final question portion of the pageant. You know the moral-do good question. "How would you save the world," or "How can we fight world hunger." or better yet, "Ms. Contestant, gives us your view on how we can fight the war on drugs?" Yea! That's the question I want to ask the beauties in their skimpy outfits and extravagant headdresses.

8. Highest Suicide Rate: La Sante Prison, Paris France:
Once home to Panamanian Dictator Manuel Noriega, La Sante prison, has the highest suicide rate in the world. The 23- hour- a -day lockdown in cells with an average temperature of one hundred degrees, is considered a contributing factor in the number of inmate suicides.

7. Angola Bound- Louisiana State Prison. The worst of the worst. If you are interested in reading more about Angola Prison, check out my earlier post and watch a clip of Aaron Neville singing "Angola Bound."

6. San Quentin State Prison- California~~~~ Holy shit! Look at the inmates locked in their cells. This would be enough to make me to consider suicide. San Quentin is known as a gang affiliated prison, in fact not being a member of a gang is extremely dangerous.

5. Maricopa County Jail, Phoenix Arizona~ Hold up. This is a county jail, not a prison and the living condition are so intolerable that in 2008 and again in 2010, a U.S. District Judge ruled the prison conditions: unconstitutional. One part of the jail is called tent city. Tent city is outdoors and the heat index has been measured as high as 165 degrees.

All inmates are required to wear pink undergarments. Say what?

4. Tadmor Prison, Syria: In 1980, Syrian President Hafez-al-Asaad ordered the massacre of between 500 and 800 Tadmor Prison inmates. Clean up, after the massacre, took two weeks. The prison was known for severe beatings and hangings without cause.The prison was closed after President Hafez-al-Assaad's death in 2001.

3. Can prison be Thrilling? That might be a stretch, but at the Cebu Prison in the Philippines, inmates and a professional choreographer, practice and rehearse hours each day for their production of Michael Jackson's Thriller.

Dancing is a form of rehabilitation for the inmates. If you watch just one of my video clips, you gotta see this one.

2. Australian Prison, Justice Center Leoben~ Austria's 5 Star Prison. Listen to these staggering statistics. America has a higher crime rate, than Austria, for virtually every crime including, murder and drug offenses. Austria trumps the U.S. in just one crime category. Why is the burglary rate in Austria an elephantine 40% higher than in the U.S.? Take a look at the photos below and you'll see why. You can't get a hotel like this for free. Down on your luck and need a luxurious place to hang for a you cell now.

Indoor soccer, anyone?

 A gym, without the monthly fee...ah, but I bet they get you with the lengthy contract. It could be for years.

Inmate's cell. Nicer than my first apartment. Hell, nicer than many of the places I've lived.

and...of course, the romantic, honeymoon suite, a/k/a prisoner's conjugal quarters. It comes with fresh flowers and all. I wonder if they serve champagne & strawberries?

1. Family Friendly Prison- Aranjuez, Spain.

Toddlers Behind Bars: This Spanish Prison, offers family cells for couples with children

I didn't cover many of the well know, famous prisons such as Alcatraz, because I figured that most of you are already familiar with them. I tried to hit some of the most extraordinary.

Overdosing on Kratom:

Overdosing on OTC (Over the Counter) or Herbal Remedies:

While overdosing, technically, is not a crime, I wanted to use today's letter "O", to address the rising use of trendy drugs that are technically legal to purchase in the U.S. In fact many of the these drugs can be purchased at gas stations, head shops and other stores that cater to buyers searching for "paraphernalia", commonly used in connection with other drugs.

First there was a drug called bath salts, yup, that's what I said. And ladies, I'm not talking about the those luxuries that we pamper ourselves with while soaking in a hot bath. "Bath Salts" is the the label that once described a legal, synthetic drug. It has since been outlawed in most states. There are other synthetic drugs and herbal drugs, available to anyone who wants them, but the one I want to raise awareness about is called, Kratom. Have any of you heard or read about Kratom?

Kratom, unlike bath salts, is all natural. Then again, didn't cocaine derive from a natural growing leaf or plant? Same for THC. Kratom is indigenous to Southeast Asia, and apparently has been around for centuries. I'm just becoming aware of it, because of an incident that occurred where I live. A teen recently overdosed on Kratom.

Proponents of the leaf, argue that it's a safe alternative to Oxycodone and that it is actually beneficial in weening addicts from heroine. In small doses, it's purported to give the user an energy boost and in larger doses, it creates a mellow effect. Kratom is also a sedative as it acts on the opioid receptors. Proponents of the drug also claim that it works as a relatively safe pain killer and makes users feel strong, confident, active and optimistic. It also claims to work as an anti depressant and to relieve anxiety.

Here is what one website, claims about the herbal extract Kratom , from Thailand.

"Kratom is one of the mightiest tools you can ask for when it comes down to keeping body and mind synchronized, to keep both of them fit under the abrasions of modern life, and especially to bring them back to form once fatigue, pain, depression and loneliness have set in."

"It has multiple functions," said the site, which sells kratom leaves, powder and extracts, as "a strong and reliable herbal painkiller, to relive depression and as a social and professional enhancer to intensify communication skills and induce higher motivation."

Wow! That's a mouthful. So what is kratom: wonder drug or danger knocking of the doors of death? If it's so amazing and can heal and has all the answers to major medical maladies, why haven't the U.S, money hungry, pharmaceutical companies jumped on the medical miracle bandwagon?

The biggest problem I have with the claims is this: While kratom is legal in the United States, if it is truly safe, why then is it illegal in Thailand, where the leaf is grown?

There is also the issue of proper dosing.  All of the sites that I researched, recommend different amounts of kratom and it comes in powder, leaf and capsule . When the FDA and the DEA do not regulate or monitor a drug, there is no possible way for users to know how the herb or chemical will react with other prescription and non prescription medications, that the user takes.

U.S. emergency rooms are seeing a staggering trend of people of all ages seeking urgent care as a result of the ingestion of kratom. E.R. doctors are treating patients for withdraw symptoms, not unlike heroin withdraw, when they stop using kratom. Kratom is currently under scrutiny by the DEA, but unlike "bath salts" and "spice", it remains legal in the U.S.

Kratom is the third most commonly used illegal drug in Thailand and in a number of countries in Europe.

Have any of you heard of kratom? What about bath salts(the drug) or spice? What's your take on the legality of such a potent drug?

Congratulations to Dawn Hamsher, the winner of a $25 Amazon gift card, for  the most creative fictional murder and motive.

I'm giving away two more $25 gift card this week, so tune in on Friday and Saturday for a chance to win.

N- In the News: Nude Photos- Better Not Text Them

Today's Letter is N- In the News

I ran across some disturbing information and thought I would have to wait until it was time for my letter T post, for texting or S, for sexting, but I believe I can squeeze it in under the letter N- for Nude Photos.
Not the way to get your ex back. Jilted teen learns the hard way

So you're girlfriend breaks up with you and breaks your heart. You're pining after her and she's not taking your calls. What should you do?

(a) Nothing- Get over it, you're only 17.
(b) Follow her around like a sick puppy professing your love
(c) Stalk her
(d) Remember the naked photo that you took of her and concoct a brilliant plan to get her back. Text said nude photo of your 15 your old ex-girlfriend to her mom and threaten to publish the naked photo on the internet if mom refuses to let her talk to you.

The answer is not letter D- Not if you don't want to go to jail.

This one is far worse. A man discovered a naked photo of his girlfriend's daughter and he sent the photo to forty of the girl's friends, from her contact list. His defense: "To teach her a lesson."

The culprit will have lots of time to learn his own lesson. He is currently in custody and facing several child pornography charges. Never text nude photos.

This nude photo story is enough to make you cringe: Teens using nude photos to blackmail other teens. This one is not any better, Teens Use Nude Photos to Blackmail Girls.

I am a mother of teen girls and the reason I initially joined Facebook was to monitor their online activity. Well, teens being as techno savvy as they are, ditched Facebook for Instagram. I read a news article about an iPhone app that teens are using, primarily for sexting and sharing nude photos. It is called Snapchat.

How many of you parents out there are concerned about the amount of texting our kids do? What about their social media presence? Facebook? Instagram? Do you monitor your teens internet use and if so what method or methods to you use?

Now hop over to the A to Z blogging challenge, sign up list and visit more bloggers.

In a rush to get this post published and I'm still reading all of your motive/murder/crime scenarios and a few mentioned stopping back by, so I will announce the winner on Wednesday. Stop back by, tomorrow I will have another crime caper with the chance to win another $25 Amazon gift card.

Motives for Murder & Other Crimes

It's Monday & What Better Way to Begin: What is your motive for murder, uh-em, I mean, what is your character's motive for her crime?

Is there a perfect crime?
What is it?

Let me begin by stating that in many jurisdictions, including Louisiana, motive is not an element of the charged crime. What that means is that the prosecutor is never required to prove to the jury, what the accused's motive was for committing the crime. Having said that, it has been my experience that while a jury is told that they cannot and may not require the prosecution to prove a motive: The jury still expects it. We all do. . We all want to know why a person does what they do. This of course, carries over into our novels. We all know how important it is for us to show our readers what motivates our characters. It's human nature.

There are many different types of motives for various crimes. I will focus today on the common motives for murder.

There are three major factors that law enforcement look at when investigating a crime or a suspect:

Means, Motive & Opportunity:

Modus Operandi, which is the Latin phrase for M.O. Method of operation. This is better known as the habits or traits or signature of a particular criminal.


Cover up- another crime

Frame- to frame someone else for a crime
Mental Illness
Protecting someone else from being convicted of a crime
Self Defense
Serial Killer

I am sure that there are other motives, but those are the one that come to mind.

So, how can you win today's $25 Amazon e-gift card? It's simple, really. In the comment section, use one of the listed motives or one of you own that you come up with and briefly describe a fictional scenario, using your chosen motive for murder or any other crime. The most clever (and in choosing the most clever- one of many deciding factors will be the likelihood of your fictional character getting away with or stumping the detectives on the case), motive/crime scenario wins  $25 Amazon Gift Card.

Okay my clever, blogger, fictional criminals, put your minds to work and get busy creating your crime. Remember, to win, you must connect your crime to your chosen motive for the crime. Winners be announced on Tuesday.

I also need your help in another matter. You may or may not be aware, that D.L. Hammons is hosting his own blogging challenge within the 2013 A to Z blogging Challenge.

Today's recipient of the Blog Blitz is Erin Funk, who has been blogging for less than a year and has under fifty followers. Please take a minute and pop over to Erin's blog and help us blitz her with comments and new followers. Come on, that's the way you do it: Show your blogging hospitality. I'm counting on you.

Limine- Motion in Limine

Motion in Limine

Before I begin my already late post. I invite all of you to hop over and read Erin Funk's Blog. Please leave her a comment and please become her follower. She is Monday's recipient of Don Hammons' Blog Blitz, which is a really cool blogging challenge within the A to Z challenge. Help us blitz Erin's blog, please.

"In Limine" is a Latin phrase which means "at the threshold".

Today's Letter is "L"- Limine

A motion in limine (pronounced- in lemon-ee), not (in- lime-un-ee), is a pretrial motion filed by either side which asks the judge to exclude or include certain pieces of evidence or specific testimony at the trial. The motion is made prior to the trial, to prevent the evidence from ever "crossing the threshold " or ever entering the door. A motion in limine is filed and argued prior to the trial and outside the presence of the jury, because, if the motion to exclude is made during the trial and the jury is able to hear the evidence or even if the jury only hears the question, the case will be infected...the jury tainted.

A motion in limine is usually made long before the trial, often before the jury pool has been selected or brought to the courtroom. The government and defense will usually have a certain day or days, set aside, prior to the trial for the sole purpose of arguing the motions in limine. The judge may rule on the motion at the conclusion of the hearing or he may take the matter under advisement, in which case he will normally have his law clerk research the issues and read the briefs that the parties have submitted. Once the judge issues his ruling, one side (the losing side) will make a formal objection to the court's ruling, on the record. This is mandatory, if the losing side wishes to preserve their right to appeal the trial court's ruling.

An experienced, skilled trial attorney recognizes the benefit of utilizing a motion in limine, early in the process.  The jury (and often the public) is only exposed to the battle that occurs in the courtroom, during the actual trial.  However, a trial lawyer's success in winning their own motions in limine and in defeating opposing counsel's motions in limine, gives them a winning edge, long before the trial commences. One side, in a single motion can cripple their opponent's strategy by eviscerating essential elements of their defense; eliminating crucial testimony; disposing of red herrings or allowing or excluding controversial evidence, testimony or argument. The prudent and skilled trial attorney who wins the majority of their motions in limine, in essence, begins the trial with a winning edge. The opponent has an uphill battle, before the trial even begins.

A motion in limine can also be made during the trial.

What are some examples of a motion in limine

The defense might file a motion asking the judge to prohibit the government from bringing up evidence of other-prior bad acts, that the defendant has been accused of committing.

The state might ask the judge to rule before the trial begins that defendant, not permitted to carry multiple bibles into the courtroom.

The defense might file a motion in limine asking the judge to prohibit the government from mentioning that the accused belongs to a gang, as it would be improper character evidence.

Motions in limine are not reserved, solely for evidentiary purposes:

The defense may file a motion in limine requesting the judge to order that his client be dressed in street clothes and that the jury never see the accused in handcuffs, prison uniform or shackles.

It is not uncommon for one or both sides to file a motion in limine requesting the judge to adjourn court each day "at a reasonable time" This can really piss off a judge, but I have joined opposing counsel in this motion in limine, when a particular judge is known to go well into the night, past 8:00 PM.

When certain defense attorneys have previously tried cases against me, some have filed motions in limine requesting the judge order me not to use certain hypothetical scenarios in my voir dire.

Below are two clips from you tube, by two different attorneys. The first is from a Florida attorney, J. Kevin Hayslett , whom I know and respect.

The second clip is longer, and is presented by Professor Wes Porter.

Overly broad motions in limine are usually rejected because they seek to have the judge exclude too many possible scenarios. Often the judge, in this instance, will reserve his ruling on the motion in limine, until the issues arise during the trial.

Now hop over to the sign up list and read some more 2013 A to Z blogging challenge, entries.


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