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This is probably the most worrying issue with this article. It places the blame on two individuals who are characterized as out of control instead of a system that is out of control. The entire system needs to be held accountable and corrected and those highlighted as having benefited their careers through this widespread misconduct should be individually held accountable just like individuals were held accountable at Nuremberg. Participation in a corrupt system and going along with the corruption is acceptable for peons, but not for people are high up in the DoJ as Ortiz and Heynmann. They had the power and discretion to correct the course of the out of control prosecutorial train, but instead chose to proceed full steam ahead.

Ortiz specifically has brought other cases that have made me furious. Check out this one where she is trying to seize a family owned budget motel. There is no complaint whatsoever against the owner, but about once every other year the cops bust some low-level drug deal. The motel is paid-off and owned by the son of the founder and is worth 1.5 million, therefore she saw an easy civil forfeiture target. She is out of control and not helping the people of Massachusetts.


Careful here. Any time you read a story like "government attempts to liquidate real property to fund police department", your first thought should be "that's not the whole story", because (for the most part) that's not how the federal government operates. So, some issues with this story:

* This case is Sonya Rao, not Carmen Ortiz (though once again Ortiz oversees all the cases in her office).

* The hotel is, let's not sugarcoat it, a blighted flophouse. Don't take my word for it; here's TripAdvisor ("ROOMS BY THE HOUR: Hookers, drug addicts, drug dealers, need I say more") complete with picture: http://tinyurl.com/ta-caswell and here's Yelp ("Please don't bring your kids here.") http://tinyurl.com/y-caswell

* The owners of the hotel were warned repeatedly by local law enforcement and an intervention of local hotel owners; specific measures were suggested to minimize the problems at this place and weren't taken; the hotel had no security, and its drug countermeasures consisted of a list of persons not to rent to again.

* The hotel owners made no policy changes after a methamphetamine lab was discovered in one of their rooms.

* The hotel owners made no changes after the dead body of a heroin overdose victim was found in one of their rooms.

* Drug deals weren't simply occurring at the hotel; the Tewskbury PD repeatedly discovered drug dealers operating full-time out of rooms in the hotel.

* The owners of the hotel repeatedly admitted under oath that they had continuing knowledge of drug crimes occurring on their premises, and had no policies to investigate the use of their rooms.

There are places like this all over America and they're all neighborhood blights that need to be shut down (hey, by the way, still think there couldn't possibly be a difference between an apartment and a room up for temporary let on Airbnb?).

If all we're saying is that civil asset forfeiture is the wrong means to shut them down, I'm with you. But this case does not make my blood boil the way it does for you.

You might want to look into how civil forfeiture laws are used in the U.S. Furthermore, if you have such a problem with this property why don't you make an offer to the property owner and buy it? Shutting down someone's business & stealing their property because you don't like it is deeply immoral.

> Furthermore, if you have such a problem with this property why don't you make an offer to the property owner and buy it?

Maybe he pays taxes exactly because he expects that the government would do their job? No one person can buy up every piece-of-shit property and clean it up, that's the whole point of foisting that shit job (and it's certainly a shit job) on the government

I find it troubling that it remains acceptable to steal people's property on the premise that it is "blighted". This is nothing more that social engineering. Using violence to do away with something that you don't like is not morally acceptable.

Using violence to do away with something that you don't like is not morally acceptable.

Um...are you arguing that states are fundamentally immoral?

Because I'm fine with using laws (read: state violence) to do away with things I don't think are morally acceptable, like, murder, rape, child abuse, etc. Really, I'm totally 100% fine with it.

Since when is it a private business owner's responsibility to play law enforcement?

If the police knows a place to be an epicenter of criminal activities, isn't that a great opportunity to do proper police work, and keep the place under surveillance?

>and here's Yelp ("Please don't bring your kids here.")

Despite the possibilty that they may reflect the truth, most of those reviews are obvious snark, written in the style of depilatory creme reviews http://www.amazon.co.uk/review/R231U4ZG0YDNHD/ref=cm_cr_dp_t... ie: not to be taken seriously.

I know that motel. I have friends who live across the street. Those reviews are not snark. The place is an absolute hole, and the owner knows exactly what business he is in. Many locals in town would be pleased to see it shutdown.

I've posted a response and I enjoyed our back-and-forth on this particular topic on the other thread where this case is discussed: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5084791

This was written over a year ago. Do you know the resolution of this case?

Hasn't been resolved yet. Trial was in November, no verdict yet - http://www.lowellsun.com/todaysheadlines/ci_22253534/caswell...

Really not getting the impression that Ortiz was a good soul trappend in a bad system. To the contrary, she seems to be the embodiment of the bad system. To the good souls who are actually trapped alongside her, she's a prime example of the problem they're facing, in that monsters like her are what gets promoted, leaving people who are better than her no choices beyond going along quietly or exiting altogether. I mean, just consider her deputy. When people talk about the bad driving out the good, this is what they mean.

Keep in mind that all federal prosecutors are 100% committed to putting (especially poor and minority) citizens in prison for years for the victimless crimes of drug possession and distribution. This practice has destroyed hundreds of communities and millions of lives. There are no good apples in this barrel. Every federal prosecutor should get some portion of the punishments they're so eager to mete out.

So I take it you have signed affidavits from every federal prosecutor to that effect? And proof that drug possession and distribution are always entirely victimless.

The fact is that I generally support decriminalisation, and that I acknowledge the fact that prosecution tends to treat those of lesser socioeconomic standing (such as the poor and those belonging to minorities) badly. But blanket statements generally don't help. Especially those calling for the blanket punishment of a wide ranging group of people whom are most likely doing that which they feel is right (never attribute to malice what can adequately attributed to ignorance).

Edit: Accidentally a word (The fact that -> The fact is that)

...blanket statements generally don't help.

Okay, so sue me. How would you have phrased that sentence?

Hahaha. I don't agree with the sentiments you've expressed, so I have no eloquence to contribute on their behalf. While the rejoinder you offer to what you term a blanket statement is a series of blanket statements, that is but the first layer of silliness here. The invocation of Hanlon's Razor on behalf of federal prosecutors is if anything more incoherent than the amusing snippet I quoted. Does a prosecutor live today who could utter that maxim with a straight face? The burdens you would impose (affidavits? proof... of a tautology?) function to obfuscate rather than illuminate. If you desire mellifluity I suggest you take a deep look into your soul.

> Participation in a corrupt system and going along with the corruption is acceptable for peons, but not for people are high up in the DoJ as Ortiz and Heynmann.

I agree. They should have everything possible bad happen to them. Both to ruin their lives -- which is what they deserve -- and to make them an example for others.

Mother Theresa once said that when she looked upon the many she could do nothing, but when she focused on the one, she could do something.

The same applies here. Someone needs to be held accountable. Change needs to start somewhere.

I'm not sure Mother Theresa is a good example for anything, but regarding the general argument you are making here:

There is a huge difference between helping one person (decreasing the general suffering by a tiny but attainable amount) and making one person an example (hoping this changes the status quo somehow).

I don't think anyone wants to make Ortiz an "example".

Ortiz literally did not do her job. She over-prosecuted a case, apparently for personal advancement and DoJ-vendetta seeking, that was worth no more than a misdemeanor at best.

Sure, it's a problem that "the system" allowed her to do so. But it's also a problem that she abused the system, destroyed a life, shows no remorse, and will likely continue to abuse the system if not removed from office.

Totally agree. At the very least, she should fired, but definitely not in the name of revenge and not to make an example, but because she didn't do her job. Making an example of someone implies over prosecuting someone in order to discourage others. In some industries, certain acts bar you from working in that industry again forever. Lawyers can be disbarred. Doctors and other licensed professionals can lose their license to practice. The same should happen to any and every prosecutor that abuses their power for personal gain. Removing people for violating the responsibilities entrusted to them isn't "making an example", but simply removing any and all that shouldn't be practicing in a certain professional area because they don't adhere to the ethical standards of their position.

However, an investigation is merited to determine if Ortiz and Heynmann were willfully negligant in applying their tactics. The same way we hold other individuals accountable for harm caused by bullying, she may merit the same. My gut tells me that an investigation and possible trial would exonerate her of any criminal wrongdoing (unless some other over-zealous prosecutor treated her as she treated Aaron), but would leave her open to a civil lawsuit, which she probably deserves

The system didn't just allow her to do it, it encouraged her to do it. And not just her, but probably many others in positions like hers.

apparently for personal advancement and DoJ-vendetta seeking

What's the evidence for that?

I was referring to her strategy, and how she learned to make positive change.

Mother Theresa let people die slow, horrible and unnecessary deaths. You should never use that person as a good example for anything really. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_Teresa#Criticism

> Mother Theresa let people die slow, horrible and unnecessary deaths

Instead to, err... dispacht them quick and efficiently?

Instead of treating their illness and making them not die.

Of course, well, but we are missing the point here.

To care for all indian citizens and to treat its health problems (if possible) was not the duty of this woman.

It is the duty of the indian government. The duty of the Republic of India and of all the hindi people.

Yes, I agree that having a team of volunteers "cleaning the streets" and hiding ugly pictures is very "convenient" and is not solving the real problem here: that this man, woman or child will die in a street and the government will not cares about this, probably because this human is tagged as "low chast" and "less human than me".

To charge a single NGO with the whole health system of more than a 1,2 millions of people seems not fair. Even if this NGO receives money for trying to help poor people.

I don't want to speak for this NGO, but I think that the game here is probably more about educate the hindi people that this situation is not right, than to save today a relatively few lives just to see how they die tomorrow victims of a unfair structure that tags people as first class, second class,... disposable. And, yes, you need some money to maintain this structure. The Mother Teresa NGO don't need to open hospitals, the Red Cross do this, Medicus mundi do this.

We should not blame a single woman for not doing the work of a system that rejects to treat and save a human people that can be saved. We should blame either the indian government, or if you prefer, the whole (lack of) humanity for this.

I think you misunderstood me. I did not mean to blame her for things she did not do in such a big sense, I meant her actions of neglect and letting people suffer who were her direct patients.

Errata: of course are "more than 1200 millions" instead "more than 1.2 millions of people"

Huh... That seems to have been removed!

Link to a random version that has it. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Mother_Teresa&... and then the 5th paragraph onwards.

Someone needs to be held accountable. Ortiz is someone. Therefore...

What, you have someone else in mind? Or maybe she's just an innocent victim here, a well-meaning prosecutor working for justice, who just had the bad luck to lay charges against a popular but suicidal trouble maker and is now being scapegoated?

Oritz is not just someone. Oritz is who had control over the matters and held the decision power in the matter. She's not a random bystander.

Accountable for what exactly?

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