Hazleton trial, Wednesday, March 21
We were not able to send a blogger to Scranton today for the continued proceedings of the Hazleton anti-immigrant trial, but we did touch base with our legal team at the lunch break.
This morning the defense called two Hazleton police officers, Detective Orozco, who heads the recently formed street gang unit, and Detective Zola, the head of the narcotics unit. Both officers emphasized that there is a problem with drugs and gangs in Hazleton.
However, on cross-examination, it became clear that their definition of a gang is two or three people. In addition and most importantly for this case, actual evidence of a connection between gang activity and undocumented immigrants is low. In fact, the overall level of gang activity in the city appears to be relatively low.
And the connection to the ordinances and how they would suppress gang activity is not clear.
The defense also called Jared Lewis, the founder of KnowGangs.com, as an “expert” witness on gang activity. Mr. Lewis offers himself as a gang expert after serving “for a short period of time” as a police officer. He attended college for two years but did not finish and does not have a post-secondary degree. He stated that he gets all of the knowledge he needs from the streets. He has written one article that was not peer-reviewed.
Now, there is nothing wrong with not having a degree. There is an expectation, though, that an expert witness has some type of academic background. As an example, it’s difficult to undertake research without knowledge of research methodology.
In addition, Lewis has no firsthand knowledge of Hazleton, other than driving through town yesterday. The opinions he offered are supposedly based on a phone call he received from Detective Orrosco.
In addition to today’s testimony, Judge Munley did not allow a law professor from Temple University to be admitted as an expert for the defense because the judge found that the professor had nothing to offer that was relevant to the case.
After lunch, Lewis will continue to testify. The defense will also call Michael Cutler, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies and a former INS agent.
Andy in Harrisburg