Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Law Office of William Cooke, LLC

Criminal defense attorney Maryland
I started out my legal career working as an Assistant State's Attorney in Baltimore City, prosecuting cases. After doing that for nearly four years, I decided to switch things up and join the other side. For nearly 10 years, I worked as an Assistant Public Defender in Anne Arundel County. Both jobs were challenging, in different ways. Both were also great jobs, in different ways. I especially enjoyed being a public defender where I had the opportunity to help people directly, without having to worry about getting paid.

Despite this, after much thought and reflection over the years, I came to the conclusion that I would be at my best in private practice. After investigating the practicalities of this and setting aside enough money to keep me afloat for a while, I resigned as a public defender and set up my office here in Annapolis.

Annapolis lawyer William Cooke
My focus is on criminal law, but I will take other cases. If I don't think I can help you, I can refer you to an attorney who can. While I am based in Annapolis, I am willing to take cases anywhere in the State of Maryland. The website for my firm is at http://www.williamcookelaw.com. My phone number is 410-905-2185. Please leave a message if I do not pick up. The initial consultation is free. My office is located at 150 South Street, Suite 207, Annapolis MD 21401. I do not recommend just stopping by without setting an appointment as I expect to be in court, and thus out of the office, often. I am happy to setup a weekend and evening appointments, if necessary. There is plenty of street parking around South Street, although you may need to walk a few feet.

Please give me a call or send me an email if you or a loved one has any sort of legal problem. 

Baltimore Barristers Update

Last year, I wrote a blog post about how I was the guest co-host on the Baltimore Barristers, a radio show on 1300 am in CBS Radio in Baltimore. Alex Bush, one of the regular co-hosts, is a friend of mine. Alex came up with the idea for this radio show and got it on the air. When his co-host was unavailable one night, I was asked to fill in.

I must have done a decent enough job, because when Alex's co-host decided to leave the show, I was asked to take his place. I was on the radio almost every Tuesday night discussing politics and the law with Alex and our guests.

We recorded our last show on election night. Both Alex and I have moved onto to other pursuits, but might team up again in the future.

You can listen to all of the episodes, which are now saved forever as podcasts at the Baltimore Barristers website.

I felt the highlight of the show as when we got to interview Ron Paul last October.

William Cooke, Ron Paul, Alex Bush at Gettysburg
I'm wearing the t-shirt from the Annapolis Cigar Company

I really admire Dr. Paul and it was great to meet and talk with him. At 81 years old he has plenty of energy. After meeting with us he spoke at Gettysburg College for over an hour and then spent about an hour taking photos with students. He was on his feet the entire time.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Annapolis Podcast Update

Back in late 2015, I wrote about my interview with the Annapolis Podcast. The host, Scott MacMullan, asked me about a column that I had recently written for a local paper titled, Heroin Arrests Won't Solve Drug Problem. I argued against the drug war.

Not long after that, Scott interviewed Anne Arundel County State's Attorney Wes Adams. Scott invoked my name in one of the questions, but Adams did not respond to any of my points directly.

It is worth noting that over the last year or two, the Annapolis City Police and the Anne Arundel County Police have held several press conferences to announce their various successes in bringing down heroin drug rings. Regardless, it still seems to be freely available. And in 2016, the City of Annapolis had more murders than in all of recorded history.

This was entirely predictable. In fact, I said as much would happen to friends over the last couple years. This was not some original thought. It has been well established that increased drug enforcement increases violent crime. As one study put it:
The association between increased drug law enforcement funding and increased drug market violence may seem paradoxical. However, in many of the studies reviewed here, experts delineated certain causative mechanisms that may explain this association. Specifically, research has shown that by removing key players from the lucrative illegal drug market, drug law enforcement has the perverse effect of creating new financial opportunities for other individuals to fill this vacuum by entering the market. - Werb, D., et al. Effect of drug law enforcement on drug market violence: A systematic review. International Journal of Drug Policy (2011), doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2011.02.002
Will anyone listen or care? Or will people just continue to demand more drug arrests and reward the politicians who agree with them? Will we continue to waste taxpayer dollars enforcing unjust laws while simultaneously destroying our own community? For alternatives, people should consider what groups like Law Enforcement Against Prohibition have to say.

In addition to the podcast interviews with me and the State's Attorney, Scott MacMullan also did other interviews that should be of interest to the legal community. I have linked to them below:

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Wayne's New World. Wayne Simmons goes to prison, but refuses to admit guilt.

Wayne Simmons, the Annapolis resident and occasional topic of this blog, reported to prison last month. Simmons claimed that he had spent 27 years in the CIA, but according to Federal prosecutors, this was all a lie. Simmons, they asserted, was nothing but a con man. Simmons pleaded guilty to various counts of fraud and illegal possession of a firearm.

Last July, Simmons was sentenced by a Federal judge in Alexandria, Virginia, to 33 months in prison. He was given a later turn in date in September. With credit for his time spent in pre-trial detention, including house arrest, Simmons, according the Federal Bureau of Prisons, has an estimated release date of January 8, 2019. In the Federal system, there is no parole, but there is the ability to reduce your sentence by up to 15% through good behavior.

Simmons is currently serving his time at FCI Schuylkill, a Federal prison in Pennsylvania, north of Harrisburg. According to Wikipedia, one of the high profile inmates at the prison is Betim Kaziu, an Islamic terrorist who is serving a 27 year sentence for conspiracy to murder. Knowing Wayne, for everyone's benefit, I hope the prison officials keep them apart.

It is interesting to note that despite his guilty plea, Wayne is still holding onto his assertion that he really worked for the government. A retired admiral and two generals signed an op-ed to The Washington Times where they asserted that Wayne was wrongly accused. In their piece titled Wayne Simmons and a miscarriage of justice, they stated that they looked through Wayne's “Operations Files” and that they proved that he was really an undercover agent. Strangely they argued that "the judge was denied" this "relevant information", even though Wayne himself could have provided it to the court at sentencing.

I reached out to Wayne via text message before he went to prison. In his texts he stated, among other things, that, "there is so much more to these political, phony charges. Soon, all will be revealed!" 

I had read all of the documents filed with the court in his case, including a brief where he mentioned safe houses in the area that he allegedly used for missions. I had researched the previous owners of the houses, including one guy named Rudolf Troost, who owned the house when Wayne said he was using it. I texted to Wayne, "One of many things that stood out was the safe house in Silver Spring. It was owned by Rudolf Troost at the time. He was an Estonian Lutheran minister. Seems like the type of guy who could be involved with CIA." Wayne responded only by writing, "We called him Rudy!"

Wayne also asked for help getting the above linked op-ed published. I directed him to a local paper, although they decided not to publish it. When The Washington Times published the article, Wayne texted me the link. I wrote back and asked him why he didn't put his files online for people to see. He responded, "Impossible! Too sensitive! Intel committee has them!" Of course, with the US government saying he is a fraud, they surely couldn't turn around the prosecute him for disclosing classified information. They have asserted so many times that it is all fiction. And if it really was classified information, do the retired generals and admiral who looked at his file still have security clearances? Does Wayne have the security clearance to even retain his files? People have gone to prison for these types of things (unless they have the last name Clinton). And if he had this information, why not share it with the judge who could look at it? 

Of course, the Federal government has a very easy answer to those questions. Wayne, they assert, is making this all up.

Finally, my last message to Wayne wished him well and good luck. He responded with, "Sincere thanks!!" I do have to wonder if Wayne ever read my previous blog posts that were very critical of him or saw my Facebook posts where I pretended to be him. I wonder if he has a sense of humor about that or whether or not I am on his kill list after he gets released. I guess time will tell!

Side notes:

1. During the summer, I was contacted by a sitting Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge who decades ago had worked as an Assistant State's Attorney also in Anne Arundel County. He was recounting to me how he was supervising the prosecution of Wayne back in the late 80s for drunk driving. In this particular case, Wayne was found asleep at the wheel of his parked car. It was a hung jury and the case eventually settled. There was a question as to whether or not he could be convicted of DUI because he wasn't driving. This judge indicated that during breaks in the trial that he spoke to with Wayne and still remembered him. He said Wayne said nothing about being in the CIA. He did mention his previous time, albeit brief, in the NFL in the late 70s and commented on the alleged steroid use by many of the players back then. People are always reaching out to me with Wayne stories.

2. With Wayne safely in prison, I was curious about his house. According to Federal prosecutors, he stopped paying his mortgage, on his multi-million dollar home, in 2009. He was also not paying his taxes. I don't know how he pulled this off, but Wayne was able to live in his home until he went to prison. The rest of us must be idiots for paying our bills.

The property is located at 1828 Woods Road in Annapolis. This is in an exclusive private area of town.

The first thing that you see upon driving in is a sign that states, "Warning Private Drive. Area Patrolled by Rottweilers."

Other signs on the fence noted that visual surveillance was being used to protect the property. As you can see, Wayne had a pretty nice house. When he gets out, Wayne should give lectures on how to succeed without paying your bills.


Wayne Simmons Annapolis home


Wayne Simmons Annapolis home

I would guess with Wayne now out of the house, the bank will be able to take the property back and put it on the market. Maybe I should make an offer for it. I will probably be able to make the first few payments and then just live in it for free for several years.

See related:

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Maryland Flag and Where to Buy the Crossland Banner

Crossland bannerIf you walk or drive around Maryland, you will see people proudly displaying the State flag on themselves, their cars, and their homes. While many State flags are boring, usually just a seal on a blue background, Maryland's flag is unique and aesthetically appealing. However, many are unaware of the history behind the flag.

The Maryland flag is the only State flag to contain English heraldic banners. The top left and bottom right of the flag are inspired by Lord Baltimore's coat of arms. George Calvert, considered the founder of Maryland which he envisioned as a home for English Catholics seeking refuge, was the first Lord Baltimore. According to Clayton Colman Hall in The Lords Baltimore and the Maryland Palatinate:

Lord Baltimore
Calvert Family Arms
George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore . . . was born at or near Kiplin in Yorkshire, England, about 1580. The exact date of his birth has not been ascertained. His father was Leonard Calvert, a country
gentleman, who lived in the valley of the Swale in Yorkshire, and whose wife, the mother of George Calvert, was Alicia Crossland, a lady of gentle birth, belonging to a family of the same neighborhood.

The origin of the Calvert family has never been successfully traced. There were Calverts in Yorkshire as early as the fourteenth century, and it has been generally assumed that the family was of Flemish origin. In the exemplification of arms issued in 1622 by Richard St. George, Norroy King of Arms, the original of which is now preserved in the collection of the Maryland Historical Society, it is stated on the authority of Verstegan, antiquary and philologist, that "Sir George is descended of a noble and ancient family of that surname in the earldom of Flanders, where they have lived long in great honor." The fact of the Flemish origin is probably true, but the date of the migration of Calvert's ancestors to England is unknown, and the means of tracing the genealogy to the Flemish family apparently did not exist; for instead of confirming to Sir George the coat of arms belonging to that family, as would probably have been the case if the identity had been satisfactorily established, the bearing of another coat, of different device, but composed of the same tinctures, was approved, with the crest pertaining to the Flemish family added.
The same author also wrote in The Great Seal of Maryland:
According to the commentators upon heraldry the six vertical pieces (or pales), into which the Calvert shield is divided would represent palings or palisades, and constitute the heraldic symbol of a stockade or fortification, which would be appropriate to one who had fortified a town or successfully stormed a hostile fort. The diagonal band, or bend, was held to represent either a sword-belt or a scaling-ladder. Taken in connection with the pales the latter meaning would more naturally be ascribed to it.
The suggestion is that at some point in history, probably in Flanders, at least someone in the Calvert family was successful in storming a hostile fort and was rewarded with this coat of arms.

The author also commented that:
It has been suggested that the pales and bend of the Calvert arms represented the warp and woof of a woven fabric, or a loom traversed by a shuttle, in allusion to the Flemish industry of weaving. But this theory appears to be as difficult of substantiation as some of the less prosaic interpretations derived from the mediaeval heralds.
buy a Crossland Banner Flag
The bottom right and top left part of the flag is referred to as the Crossland Banner. It was the coat of arms of Alicia Crossland or Crosland, the mother of George Calvert. Again the same author cited above wrote:
The Crossland arms present a cross upon a quarterly field. The relation between name and arms is sufficiently obvious. A quarterly field was said to represent a shield broken in battle, indicating that its budding cross depicted upon these arms was said to represent the budding virtues of a youthful champion. The Crossland arms are generally described as bearing a fiery cross, the ends of which are open and expanded like the upper half of a fleur-de-lis. This form differs but little in appearance from the cross bottony, and was described as representing in their full flower and development those virtues which the latter indicated as being in their bud and promise.
Cecilius Calvert, George Calvert's son and the 2nd Lord Baltimore, put these two symbols together in 1648. According to the author of Maryland, Its Resources, Industries and Agricultural Condition, 1893
The new seal bore on one side the Calvert arms, quartered with those of Crossland, Alicia Crossland having been the wife of Leonard Calvert, Cecilius' grandfather. On this seal, which is the same as the present great seal of the State, the first and fourth quarterings are: for Calvert, six pales or vertical bars, alternately gold and black, crossed by a diagonal stripe or "bend" in which the colors are reversed. The second and third quarterings are: for Crossland a quartered field of red and white, charged with a Greek (or equal-limbed) cross of the form called "botonny" or "budded;" the limbs terminating in a trefoil. This cross is " counterchanged," as it is termed, that is, it is red on the white part of the field and white on the red.
During the Civil War, Maryland was divided between those who wished to remain in the Union and those who wished to join the Confederacy. The division did not just divide friends and families, but also the State Seal itself.

Union troops decided to march under the Black and Gold of Lord Baltimore's arms. Confederate units adopted the Crossland Banner as their flag. It is not clear to my why this decision was made.

Crossland Banner
Howard County Flag
It is interesting to point out that the Crossland Banner has not attracted the negative attention that other Confederate flags have. I believe that this is because the design was created centuries before the Civil War and should not even be considered a Confederate flag, on its own. Rather it was just one symbol that Confederates in Maryland adopted. Hate groups have not used the Crossland Banner, thankfully. Flying the Crossland is not seen as controversial as it has such a rich history and has a prominent place on our State flag. Indeed, ultra-liberal Howard County, uses the Crossland Banner on their county flag.

After the war, as a sign of unity, the State seal was put back together and the State officially adopted its current flag in 1904.

Kensington Day of the Book
Used both at a book festival recently
I was curious if one could buy the Lord Baltimore's Arms and Crossland Banner separately anywhere. I went to a local flag shop that sold me both flags, but at a very high price. The Baltimore flag was in the $30s and the Crossland Banner was in the $50s, for just one flag.

I looked online and found the Lord Baltimore flag on Amazon for just over $26. But I could not find a Crossland Banner flag.

So rather than complain about it, I invested a good amount of money, had 1000 of them made, and mailed them to Amazon. If you look on the top right side of this blog, you will see a link to buy one for $14.99. Or you can just click here.

The flags were manufactured in China. My preference would have been for a local manufacturer, but I could not find one who could do the job and allow me to sell them at a reasonable price and still make a small profit. People may complain about China, but the people over there need to make a living too. Trade is generally beneficial anyway.

So please buy a few flags, for yourself, family, and friends. If they sell, I hope to expand and sell some more hard to find Maryland flags.