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Media Producer Sues LA Police for Abuse Causing MiscarriageBonnie King Salem-News.com
TODAY: The Pitchess Motion Hearing will take place at 1:30 PM in Dept 47, the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center 210 West Temple St. Los Angeles, CA.
(SALEM, Ore.) - Melissa Balin lost her baby. She suffered a miscarriage after being admitted to the LA County Hospital last winter. She had been taken to the emergency room for treatment after the use of force by sheriffs.
She was arrested and assaulted simply for taking part in the Occupy LA rally. She is suing the police for her agonizing loss and the ongoing depression their abuse caused.
Balin had never been arrested before in her life. People know Melissa Balin as a positive force in the world. She is a filmmaker and activism media producer, outgoing and out in front, usually with a video camera on her shoulder. That apparently didn’t sit well with the cops in LA.
Beyond film and documentary work, her packed bio includes her job of producer for Court TV’s Police Officer of the Year Award Show, and her position of board member for the Angela Shelton Foundation (empowering survivors of sexual abuse), and for the Foundation for Orphaned, Abandoned, and Disabled African Children.
All she had to do was associate with the “Occupy LA” movement, and everything changed. She was unconstitutionally arrested three times over a thirty-day period during the 2011 holiday season, changing her life forever.
Priorities of a Confused Court
While the City has yet to begin an investigation into the allegations of police misconduct causing the death of Balin’s unborn child; the City Attorney's office is zealously prosecuting the producer for Misdemeanor charges of Contempt of Court.
This began on November 14, 2011, when Balin attended a trial in the Clara Shortridge Foltz Justice Center. The trial was related to Sovereignty and the defendant was not being allowed his right to represent himself. Balin was brought to court by members of Occupy LA to observe.
Around noon, she attempted to make a public record that the judge was "out of order", with a whisper of a hoarse voice. She identified herself as a member of the media, and though she admits that her conduct in the courtroom may have been improper or unwise, she and witnesses say it was not contemptuous or criminal, and the record will not support a finding that she intended to obstruct the proceedings.
The judge promptly ordered Balin removed from the courtroom, claiming that there was “danger of disrupting the court”, but she was not remanded.
According to Masinter 355 So.2d 1288, the power to jail for contempt is given "on the assumption that it will be judiciously and sparingly employed". Four Sheriffs dragged her from the courtroom and arrested her for contempt of court, even though the judge had only asked for her to be removed.
“For two hours I begged for medical attention receiving worse than no response, at times,” Balin recalls. “Sheriffs came by and stood 50 feet away from the bench I was handcuffed to in the hall, saying, "What's that? I can't hear you!" while I begged hysterically for medical attention.”
Eventually she was taken to the hospital in custody, and while waiting to be x-rayed for their excessive force, it was discovered that she was pregnant.
Melissa Balin was held in LA County Jail without cause and without even a phone call to notify family or legal counsel for more than 53 hours.
Two weeks later, November 30, she attended an Occupy LA event and spoke to the crowd. Her photo was on the cover of the LA Times, and she was again arrested, then hospitalized while in custody for a threatened miscarriage induced by police brutality. The fate of her unborn child was unknown.
Believing that she was safe from further abuse, she attended a peaceful gathering on December 15 where she was to give a press conference on injustice. Instead, she was arrested a third time, just one hour before she was to speak regarding Joe Grumbine's unfair trial in Long Beach. Ironic.
While in custody, awaiting the results of an ultrasound to check on the heart of the fetus, she was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment and kept from medical care for hours while the wardens and police repeatedly scoffed, "What's a pregnant woman doing protesting?"
Melissa Balin has only had the chance to respond to one arrest, as the city attorney is only pressing charges on the first of the three arrests, but they have a year to change their minds and add charges. Balin and her supporters contend that the case should be dismissed in the Interest of Justice.
LA County’s Turn to Face the Music
A Pitchess Motion is a request made by a defendant in a criminal action for access to information in the personnel file of an arresting police officer.
October 10th, 2012, the Honorable Judge Elizabeth Harris will hear Melissa Balin’s Pitchess Motion regarding the actions of at least 13 LACSD deputies, sergeants, and/or lieutenants. The officers continue to actively work at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in spite of current allegations.
"This is the first recorded instance in the 21st century, as provided by the LA County Sheriffs’ Department themselves, of a pregnant American member of the media being kidnapped, tortured, and withheld from medical attention and a phone call for 53 hours, resulting in a miscarriage, after continuing harassment including two more arrests and another in-custody hospitalization over a mere thirty-day period." Balin said.
Professionals in the mental health field believe that Balin's healing from the trauma of her miscarriage will continue to be inhibited by the stress and emotional duress of the trial and could cause Balin worsened Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other long-term debilitating mental illness.
Balin’s substantiated claims have still not yet been investigated by the Office of Investigative Review. Over 300 members of the international press and citizen journalists have signed a petition demanding an investigation based on shocking evidence that indicates Sheriffs may have falsified the arrest of a member of the media, and charges of Contempt of Court to cover up their use of excessive force and violation of the defendant’s First Amendment Rights.
The Pitchess Motion Hearing will take place at 1:30 PM in Department 47 at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center 210 West Temple St. Los Angeles, CA 90012.
Balin has requested to record the proceedings and serve as pool camera for other media outlets; it is unknown if the Judge has made a decision regarding the camera in the courtroom. If the camera is allowed, it will be the first time in ten months of pre-trial hearings.
In the event that Balin’s request to record is denied, she will give a prepared statement to the media prior to the hearing, outside the courthouse at 1:00 PM.
ACLU files suit against LA County Sheriff & District Attorney
According to SFGate, "The suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California on behalf of defense attorney Jeffrey Douglas claims Cooley adopted a policy that had prosecutors withhold certain evidence from suspects that could have helped in their defense.
"[Sheriff]Baca allegedly hid details of deputy assaults on inmates from defense attorneys in cases where the law enforcement officer was the sole or principal prosecution witness."
"Balin's case approaches its NINTH month of Pre-Trial Hearings while LA Sheriffs withhold evidence, defying subpoenas and court orders," SFGate stated. Now, that would be the ELEVENTH month.
Los Angeles City Attorney, Carmen Trutanich, is prosecuting Balin on what appear to be falsified Contempt of Court charges levied to obfuscate and diminish the excessive use of force by Los Angeles County Sheriffs and her following two false arrests within a thirty-day period, resulting in a miscarriage.
Because Balin, refused to "cop a plea" for a crime she did not commit, the City Attorney's office has stated to defense that they are seeking jail time for Balin.
Balin’s supporters around the world have requested that the City Attorney, Carmen Trutanich, drop all charges against filmmaker Melissa Balin in Case #1CA16847-02, asking him not to pursue this "Miscarriage of Justice" any further.
Melissa Balin’s baby would have been born in July.
Bonnie King has been with Salem-News.com since August '04, when she became Publisher. Bonnie has served in a number of positions in the broadcast industry; TV Production Manager at KVWB (Las Vegas WB) and Producer/Director for the TV series "Hot Wheels in Las Vegas", posts as TV Promotion Director for KYMA (NBC), and KFBT (Ind.), Asst. Marketing Director (SUPERSHOPPER MAGAZINE), Director/Co-Host (Coast Entertainment Show), Radio Promotion Director (KBCH/KCRF), and Newspapers In Education/Circulation Sales Manager (STATESMAN JOURNAL NEWSPAPER). Bonnie has a depth of understanding that reaches further than just behind the scenes, and that thoroughness is demonstrated in the perseverance to correctly present each story with the wit and wisdom necessary to compel and captivate viewers.
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