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November 24, 2017, 08:52:57 am
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Author Topic: How a Tulsa Neighbor Dispute Becomes International News  (Read 2658 times)
cynical
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« Reply #15 on: August 20, 2016, 07:10:52 pm »

I'll try.

Remember that hindsight is always 20-20. Compared to most of their peers, TPD officers are well-educated and well-trained, but they are still caught in the heat of the moment and have to make decisions based on incomplete and contradictory information, decisions that the rest of us can disassemble and analyze at our leisure after the fact. This is technical, and as usual, long-winded.

First, Majors had already been in custody on a felony charge of A&B with a deadly weapon from the earlier incident involving Khalid's mother. His bond was subsequently reduced over the objections of the DA's office but was later increased. Majors was out on bond. A protective order had previously been entered and was the basis of earlier charges against Majors. Note that witnesses endorsed on a Complaint and Information in a criminal case are also protected from threats and harassment by statute. Nothing in the call Khalid made that day indicated that he or his family had at that time been threatened, though because of past events they no doubt had reasonable concerns about what could happen. As it turns out, those concerns may have interfered.

According to the timeline and article published in today's Tulsa World, Khalid reported to the dispatcher that Majors had assaulted his (Majors') own husband and had fired a gun in his own house, neither of which amounted to a violation of the Jabaris' protective order against Majors nor a felony offense. Then, when the dispatcher asked if he wanted to speak to an officer, Khalid declined, wanting to remain anonymous. However understandable that was, it prevented a more effective response by the police because not only do the statutes provide that an officer can arrest someone without a warrant for a misdemeanor only if the crime is committed in the officer's presence, an arrest warrant can not be obtained based on an anonymous report. An exception to the rule that warrantless arrests on misdemeanor charges can be made only if the crime was committed in the officer's presence exists for violations of protective orders, but based on today's article, it doesn't appear that in his phone call Khalid reported any action by Majors against him or a member of the Jabara family, so the general rule still holds. Based on the information Khalid provided to the dispatcher, no arrest could be made unless Majors did something in the officer's presence.

The mental health law might have been of more help, though merely being "imbalanced" isn't grounds for emergency detention. An officer can take a person into emergency custody if he or she meets the definition of a "Person requiring treatment."  43A O.S. Sec. 103.13.a. defines a person requiring treatment as follows:

"Person requiring treatment" means a person who because of his or her mental illness or drug or alcohol dependency:

(1) poses a substantial risk of immediate physical harm to self as manifested by evidence or serious threats of or attempts at suicide or other significant self-inflicted bodily harm,

(2) poses a substantial risk of immediate physical harm to another person or persons as manifested by evidence of violent behavior directed toward another person or persons,

(3) has placed another person or persons in a reasonable fear of violent behavior directed towards such person or persons or serious physical harm to them as manifested by serious and immediate threats,

(4) is in a condition of severe deterioration such that, without immediate intervention, there exists a substantial risk that severe impairment or injury will result to the person, or

(5) poses a substantial risk of immediate serious physical injury to self or death as manifested by evidence that the person is unable to provide for and is not providing for his or her basic physical needs.

Given Majors' history of threats and an actual felony assault, a police officer would have been justified in taking him into emergency custody under the 2nd and 3rd subsections above. Law enforcement is reluctant to do that because they get stuck with the detainee through a pre-screening process that takes time. The fact that criminal charges were already pending is also a disincentive to commence mental health proceedings that are essentially civil in nature. Hindsight tells us that this option, being the only one available, should have been tried.

CF or Cynical or some lawyer, can you respond? I agree, its a feeling of helplessness when you know the guy is imbalanced, has made threats, has a restraining order and still, nothing seems to stop him.
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Breadburner
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« Reply #16 on: August 20, 2016, 09:03:08 pm »

Should have been in jail...This is all on the judge...There are people in jail (prison)  for violations of protective orders that did a lot less than this...
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Conan71
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« Reply #17 on: August 20, 2016, 10:23:54 pm »

Cynical, wouldn’t a shot fired in the city limits, or at least a report of be enough basis for a search warrant?  It sounds like Schmauss, Majors’ husband was just as afraid of this guy as the Jabaras were.

Bill LaFortune is going to have to live with this on his conscience.  He was the judge who allowed Majors to walk.  After spending a few hours reading what little any of us can access on OSCN, I cannot imagine any scenario that a rational judge could have allowed him to bond out.  His felony warrant for jumping bond from California shows up there.  That would indicate that a district court in Oklahoma likely has better access to public records than we do and he would have been aware of his previous behavior in California. Turns out, the California case seems to be due to similar behavior.

I’ve heard this murder called a hate crime, an example of why we need more gun control, and every other explanation possible other than the one that really screams out: Vernon Majors suffers from a severe and dangerous mental illness but no one wants to deal with it or prevent this from happening because they are worried about the rights of the mentally ill.  All indications with Majors point to something like this eventually happening.  If running over Mrs. Jabara and leaving her for dead was not indication enough, what was?

What judge in their right mind would allow a $60,000 bond for someone to be let out of jail only to move right back next door to the victim he was accused of trying to kill in the first place?  LaFortune needs to be removed from the bench.  This shows one of two things: either a terribly poor lack of judgement, if LaFortune knew the facts or he simply did not bother to review the case files on the previous assault as well as this guy’s history in California in the first place.
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dbacksfan 2.0
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« Reply #18 on: August 20, 2016, 11:24:48 pm »


What judge in their right mind would allow a $60,000 bond for someone to be let out of jail only to move right back next door to the victim he was accused of trying to kill in the first place?  LaFortune needs to be removed from the bench.  This shows one of two things: either a terribly poor lack of judgement, if LaFortune knew the facts or he simply did not bother to review the case files on the previous assault as well as this guy’s history in California in the first place.


I am under the impression that if his bond jumping and other cases in California had been adjudicated, that they can't be taken into consideration for any future case? I remember serving jury duty in Tulsa County in the 90's that a previous arrest and conviction on an unrelated matter was not allowed as evidence for the case that was being tried. It was a civil case, and one attorney was trying to show a pattern of behavior, and the judge would not allow it. Does this also apply here as to why he was given a chance to bail/bond out?

I have my thoughts on LaFortune after dealing with him in family court 20 some years ago, and most of it I can't say in public, but suffice it to say, I never voted to retain him when I lived there.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2016, 11:28:23 pm by dbacksfan 2.0 » Logged
AquaMan
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« Reply #19 on: August 21, 2016, 08:22:05 am »

Thank you Cynical for the explanation. Pretty complicated stuff for an officer to have to sort out on site. One can understand their hesitance to arrest, but the judge screwed up. He underestimated the situation and the violent nature of the guy.

Why on earth would his husband who already feared for his own safety and the sanity of this guy bond him out?
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onward...through the fog
cynical
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« Reply #20 on: August 21, 2016, 10:01:07 am »

This is one reason I've always been frustrated with the system. We in the U.S. have very complicated rules about arrests, search and seizure (does anyone know what "exigent circumstances" means and how to apply it?  When is time sufficient to get a warrant?), and questioning of suspects, so complicated that justices of the SOCUS disagree about what they are and how they apply in specific situations. We require law officers, who often have only a high school education plus the mandatory CLEET hours, to get it right, lest the exclusionary rule, hated by law enforcement everywhere, gut a case in which they "know" that the defendant is guilty. Many years ago I had a conversation with Chuck Jordan when he was a patrol officer about the exclusionary rule. He felt that the right to bring a civil action for deprivation of constitutional rights was sufficient to remedy the problem without letting bad guys off the hook. He didn't understand the arcane rule of "qualified immunity," that kills most civil rights cases at the very beginning. So we have a criminal procedure culture with gaps everywhere. But we always know after the fact what should have been done, though we often disagree about what we know.

The TPD at least requires its officers to have a bachelor's degree and to complete an academy training program much more complete than basic
CLEET certification.

Thank you Cynical for the explanation. Pretty complicated stuff for an officer to have to sort out on site. One can understand their hesitance to arrest, but the judge screwed up. He underestimated the situation and the violent nature of the guy.

Why on earth would his husband who already feared for his own safety and the sanity of this guy bond him out?
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cynical
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« Reply #21 on: August 21, 2016, 10:04:21 am »

Punishment for felony charges in Oklahoma are enhanced if the crime was committed after former conviction of a felony ("AFCF"). The former conviction has to have been imposed within ten years before the commission of the new offense. There's also a limitation when the out-of-state felony would not be a felony under Oklahoma law. I don't recall the specifics off hand and don't want to do the research.

I am under the impression that if his bond jumping and other cases in California had been adjudicated, that they can't be taken into consideration for any future case? I remember serving jury duty in Tulsa County in the 90's that a previous arrest and conviction on an unrelated matter was not allowed as evidence for the case that was being tried. It was a civil case, and one attorney was trying to show a pattern of behavior, and the judge would not allow it. Does this also apply here as to why he was given a chance to bail/bond out?

I have my thoughts on LaFortune after dealing with him in family court 20 some years ago, and most of it I can't say in public, but suffice it to say, I never voted to retain him when I lived there.
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dbacksfan 2.0
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« Reply #22 on: August 21, 2016, 10:10:44 am »

Punishment for felony charges in Oklahoma are enhanced if the crime was committed after former conviction of a felony ("AFCF"). The former conviction has to have been imposed within ten years before the commission of the new offense. There's also a limitation when the out-of-state felony would not be a felony under Oklahoma law. I don't recall the specifics off hand and don't want to do the research.


Thanks cynical it does answer my question/thought. No need to deep research it.

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cynical
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« Reply #23 on: August 21, 2016, 10:12:35 am »

It would have taken time and more problematically would have involved a confidential informant (Khalid) with whom the officer had no prior experience and therefore couldn't claim was reliable. Search warrants are issued on probable cause. Probable cause can be based on a confidential informant's information only when there is a track record of the informant providing reliable information in the past. You'll see such things constantly in drug busts because the same officers are working all of the drug investigations and have ongoing relationships with the informants. As many times as you read about the police fudging the facts, allow them to get search warrants by reciting that they had heard from an anonymous source that shots were fired without more, and none of us are safe. No one in this case apparently went on the record until it was too late.

Cynical, wouldn’t a shot fired in the city limits, or at least a report of be enough basis for a search warrant?  It sounds like Schmauss, Majors’ husband was just as afraid of this guy as the Jabaras were.
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patric
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« Reply #24 on: August 21, 2016, 12:33:08 pm »


Thanks for nothing Vashta....It's unfortunate a piece of smile moved here from California 4 years ago to continue his racist hate....But you don't have the balls to comment on that....Because of your own spam fest against the cops....

Hey thin-skin, I was the one who posted the links, and I did so without judgement or comment. 
The result has been a civil, necessary and informative discussion (with one exception).

The point being, Im as aghast as anyone else as to not only how "the system" failed this badly, but how far and wide the implications are.
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Conan71
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« Reply #25 on: August 21, 2016, 06:23:15 pm »

It would have taken time and more problematically would have involved a confidential informant (Khalid) with whom the officer had no prior experience and therefore couldn't claim was reliable. Search warrants are issued on probable cause. Probable cause can be based on a confidential informant's information only when there is a track record of the informant providing reliable information in the past. You'll see such things constantly in drug busts because the same officers are working all of the drug investigations and have ongoing relationships with the informants. As many times as you read about the police fudging the facts, allow them to get search warrants by reciting that they had heard from an anonymous source that shots were fired without more, and none of us are safe. No one in this case apparently went on the record until it was too late.


Okay, a couple of thoughts here.  Had Schmauss phoned in the shot fired to the TPD there would have been probable cause since he was the co-occupant of the house, right?  Sounds like a wasted opportunity calling Khalid instead of the TPD.

If a neighbor had heard a gunshot inside the home and reported it, does that not rise to probable cause for the police to make sure no one was injured?

I suspect Schmauss must suffer from Stockholm Syndrome or something similar.  He sounded like a kindly old man who just wanted companionship or thought he could help others.  Unfortunately, he would almost certainly have had to be the person who put up bond money to get Majors out of the stir.  In doing so, he put his own life as well as that of his neighbor at risk. 

If you look at the Assessor’s web site, Schmauss and Majors QC’d the deed to their home back and forth a few times, I suspect hiding assets for one reason or another. 

To Dback: I can see where a case from another jurisdiction may not be considered during an actual jury trial, but in a bond hearing, it’s simply the judge, prosecution and defense.  If Oklahoma law would not allow felony convictions in other states to be considered when refusing or setting bond, perhaps that law needs to be revisited.

There is one immutable truth here: If Vernon Majors were still in the DL Moss, Khalid Jabara would not have been shot to death by him.  Bill LaFortune had the ultimate say on Vernon Majors being released. 

Is it possible for a recall petition for a District Judge?  LaFortune clearly screwed up here.  He wasn’t a stellar prosecutor nor mayor.  I’m seeing a pattern.
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cynical
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« Reply #26 on: August 21, 2016, 07:43:53 pm »

I'll repeat. No one went on the record with the police about shots fired. The police will respond, but if they don't witness anything and no one is willing to give a statement, their hands are tied. No named informant, no search warrant, unless the confidential informant has a history of providing reliable information.

Also, there is no recall provided under Oklahoma election law. Public officials can be removed from office for various kinds of misconduct by a court after a grand jury report calls for removal from office. There is a trial. Judges can be removed for cause by the Court on the Judiciary. I guarantee that your disagreement with LaFortune's judgment does not rise to the level required for removal from office. He stands for re-election at some point. That is when he can be removed.


If a neighbor had heard a gunshot inside the home and reported it, does that not rise to probable cause for the police to make sure no one was injured?

* * *

Is it possible for a recall petition for a District Judge?  LaFortune clearly screwed up here.  He wasn’t a stellar prosecutor nor mayor.  I’m seeing a pattern.
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Conan71
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« Reply #27 on: August 21, 2016, 08:27:39 pm »

I'll repeat. No one went on the record with the police about shots fired. The police will respond, but if they don't witness anything and no one is willing to give a statement, their hands are tied. No named informant, no search warrant, unless the confidential informant has a history of providing reliable information.

Also, there is no recall provided under Oklahoma election law. Public officials can be removed from office for various kinds of misconduct by a court after a grand jury report calls for removal from office. There is a trial. Judges can be removed for cause by the Court on the Judiciary. I guarantee that your disagreement with LaFortune's judgment does not rise to the level required for removal from office. He stands for re-election at some point. That is when he can be removed.


Cynical, thank you for your reply. Sorry if I missed something in your original post regarding a shots fired call.  Perhaps no one in this case went on record on the shot fired. My question was in regards to if a neighbor of or occupant of the home where the shot was fired said there was a shot fired, I was wondering if that would give enough probable cause (i.e. going into hypothetical, not this particular situation if you will indulge me.) for intervention.

There were probably people after Eric Harris was killed saying there was no reason or no way Stanley Glanz would be removed from office as a result.  Glanz had nothing to do with the killing, but we finally got a glimpse of how sloppy his management and judgement had become as a public servant who had become really removed from the aspect of public safety.  He had obviously begun to take his position as a trusted public official for granted.

I believe there’s a case to say the same thing about Bill LaFortune.

Perhaps a grand jury investigation might expose LaFortune to some much-needed self-examinination that would lead him to step down.  No matter how you slice it, Vernon Majors being in the position of being able to murder his neighbor was ultimately LaFortune’s call.  I hope this doesn’t die a slow death in the national media as a "hate crime" when the reason Khalid Jabara is dead is far more complicated than this and actually does begin in front of Judge LaFortune’s bench.
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cynical
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« Reply #28 on: August 21, 2016, 09:33:56 pm »

Conan, you're missing a couple of points that may be hard to pick out of all of the verbiage I tend to scatter around.

1. Without shots being fired in the presence of the officer or someone who heard the shots being willing to sign a statement to that effect, there will be no arrest, warrantless or otherwise, and no search, warrantless or otherwise. The reason they go out on calls like that is to see what's happening. If everything is quiet by that time and no one wants to sign a statement about what happened, they turn around and go back to the office. We really don't want the police breaking down doors based on an anonymous phone call, do we?

2. The procedures for removing a judge are fundamentally different than those for removing a sheriff. The in the Eric Harris case, the grand jury found cause to bring an ouster accusation based on specific instances of misconduct by the sheriff that transcended any disagreements about what happened to Eric Harris. There are specific grounds listed in the statutes governing ousters.

For judges, the grounds for removal are stated in the Constitution, Art. 7A, Sec. 1. Cause for removal from office shall be: Gross neglect of duty; corruption in office; habitual drunkenness; commission while in office of any offense involving moral turpitude; gross partiality in office; oppression in office; or other grounds as may be specified hereafter by the legislature.

The legislature has not added any grounds to those provided in Art. 7A, Sec.1. None of the grounds given in this section cover LaFortune's decision to reduce and then alter increase the bail for Majors. Gross neglect of duty doesn't mean making decisions that in hindsight look wrong. It covers things like failing to show up, or showing up and spending all of one's time viewing computer porn rather than trying and deciding cases. You get the idea. I have known judges who fell far behind in deciding cases they had taken "under advisement." Very far behind at times. They weren't removed from office, but were given a nudge by the presiding judge in the district. Judges make decisions. I've known some of those decisions to result in terrible tragedy and were controversial because of that, but they were made in good faith based on the judge's view of the evidence in the case.

Cynical, thank you for your reply. Sorry if I missed something in your original post regarding a shots fired call.  Perhaps no one in this case went on record on the shot fired. My question was in regards to if a neighbor of or occupant of the home where the shot was fired said there was a shot fired, I was wondering if that would give enough probable cause (i.e. going into hypothetical, not this particular situation if you will indulge me.) for intervention.

There were probably people after Eric Harris was killed saying there was no reason or no way Stanley Glanz would be removed from office as a result.  Glanz had nothing to do with the killing, but we finally got a glimpse of how sloppy his management and judgement had become as a public servant who had become really removed from the aspect of public safety.  He had obviously begun to take his position as a trusted public official for granted.

I believe there’s a case to say the same thing about Bill LaFortune.

Perhaps a grand jury investigation might expose LaFortune to some much-needed self-examinination that would lead him to step down.  No matter how you slice it, Vernon Majors being in the position of being able to murder his neighbor was ultimately LaFortune’s call.  I hope this doesn’t die a slow death in the national media as a "hate crime" when the reason Khalid Jabara is dead is far more complicated than this and actually does begin in front of Judge LaFortune’s bench.
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« Reply #29 on: August 22, 2016, 07:04:03 am »

Cynical,  thanks for all the information.  It's still very frustrating, but I appreciate you taking the time to explain the situation at length. 
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