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Prisoner at center of ‘KopBusters’ campaign may soon be freed

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The woman at the epicenter of a Texas filmmaker’s crusade against allegedly corrupt police may soon be freed thanks to a federal judge’s decision to vacate her sentence.

Yolanda Madden, who was jailed in 2005 after being convicted of possession of and intent to distribute narcotics, was the reason that Barry Cooper came to Odessa, Texas last December. After being hired to embarrass the local police by Yolanda’s father Raymond, Cooper set up a fake marijuana grow house and baited officers to stage an illegal raid. When they did, police were confronted by an empty house and lots of cameras, with a hand-written poster explaining they had become part of a new reality show called “KopBusters”.

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For Yolanda, the stunt was just the beginning of efforts to secure her freedom. Cooper and Madden’s father insist Odessa officers planted the narcotics she was jailed for.

At a Thursday evidentiary hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Junell granted a motion to “vacate, set aside, or correct” Yolanda’s sentence, effectively guaranteeing a new trial and possibly her freedom, according to CBS 7 in Odessa.

Madden has previously lost an appeal before the fifth circuit court. That decision is available here. [PDF link]

“We have proof that neither one of the cops were at where they said they were,” Raymond Madden told the CBS affiliate.

Cooper, a long-time drug officer who turned against prohibition and became an activist, claims Madden’s arresting officers were his former partners.

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“The lead investigator, Officer Greg Traveland, claimed he took a verbal confession from Yolanda at the police station when he was actually miles away booking informant, Keith Phillips, into jail,” Cooper wrote on his Web site.

Cooper and Madden’s attorneys allege that to cover his tracks, Traveland then altered Phillips’ booking paperwork to make it appear that a now-deceased officer had brought the man in.

“I know it’s been hard on her to be away from her family but we’re looking forward to getting her smiles and her hugs,” Madden’s grandmother told CBS.

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Cooper, who recently helped officers from Combine, Texas arrest a former police chief accused of soliciting minors, said he plans more high-profile stings soon.

This video was broadcast by CBS 7 in Odessa on Dec. 11, 2009.

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This video was broadcast by CBS 7 in Odessa on Nov. 25, 2009.

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Arkansas church vows to continue services: ‘Jesus died with COVID-19 so that you didn’t have to bear it’

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An Arkansas church intends to hold church services despite recommendations from state officials to limit gatherings as part of the fight against the coronavirus.

Awaken Church, in Jonesboro, vowed in a Facebook post to continue holding services in defiance of a Health Department directive banning gatherings of 10 or more, and after churches in other parts of the country were the source of community outbreaks, reported Newsweek.

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2020 Election

Trump’s path to re-election ‘smashed to splinters’ as his only achievement is swallowed up by the pandemic: report

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In a piece for Politico, Ben White writes that Donald Trump was going into November's election with only one achievement under his belt -- a healthy economy -- and now he has nothing left to run if he wants to be re-elected.

With all of the gains made in the stock market long gone due to the coronavirus pandemic and the collapse of oil prices, White claims that the president's campaign strategy lies in tatters.

"The fundamental pillars of Donald Trump’s presidency — a hot economy, strong job growth and a rocking stock market — are all being smashed to splinters by the ravaging coronavirus, which has shuttered much of the nation and now officially ended a streak of 113 months of job gains dating back to the end of the Great Recession a decade ago," he wrote before noting the explosion of unemployment claims -- over ten million so far -- that has the country reeling.

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Strong signs that judges will increasingly decide how 2020 elections are run during the coronavirus pandemic

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The jaw-dropping conclusion of a federal court hearing on April 1 about Wisconsin’s statewide elections on April 7 was no April Fools’ joke. U.S. District Judge William Conley said the state’s Democratic governor and Republican-led legislature had failed to put their citizenry’s health first by not postponing the statewide election in a pandemic.

“There’s a hurricane coming!” Conley fumed from the bench, interrupting Douglas M. Poland, a lawyer representing the Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans, League of Women Voters of Wisconsin and four citizens who sued the state. “You can’t even give me a case where a federal judge stopped a state from stupidly holding an election when most of the voters were not going to go to the polls because there’s a hurricane coming!”

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