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Chess Arrest

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The Boston Globe reports that Massachusetts high school teacher and chess coach/organizer Severine Wamala "has been arrested on felony rape and incest charges." Another report adds, "Court records show the previous arrests were on charges including stalking and violating restraining orders." Another says the charges "don't involve his employment." I vaguely recalled his name from scholastic reports here and there; at least two of his kids have had successful scholastic chess careers. Several people who sent this in to me did so because they know Wamala (and/or his kids) and wanted to speak well of him and his work in chess. A cursory web search also turns up positive comments. Let's hope for the best for the family.


I couldn't bear to put a joke in an item of such a tragic nature, but "maybe he's preparing a run for the USCF Board" came to mind.

I've played Wamala OTB before and he was a model gentleman. I hope the charges are false and that his life returns to normal asap.

This is very troubling. I don't know Severine well, but he has always been very friendly with me and seemed like a very good guy. Very sad for his kids.

I hate to seem like I'm concerned with the wrong thing here, but Mr Wamala organizes a series of chess tournaments in the greater Boston area...does anyone know if they will be affected by these events?

I guess I should email MACA and find out...

Hmm, the Northeast Chess events have already been removed from MACA's 'upcoming events' calendar. That's a shame, I was hoping to play in the 10/21-22 'fall getaway'

I wonder if some other local chess organizer can step in and save the tournament series....

I dont wish to add to the above, nor to detract from its seriousness ...

(and in the words of Karl Pilkington I'm not having a go ...)

isnt there something really remarkably strange about calling a kid's chess play a "career"?

A cursory reading of the articles also turns up a short-tempered but affable kind of guy.

30 counts is nothing to sneeze at, however, and they do not take your passport for nothing either, along with the $1Mil bail.

They apparently have some cause for concern here.


Why the cheap shot at the USCF Board?


See Sam Sloane's track record. You'll understand.

I do not believe that he did anything.

I believe Severine when he pled innocent.

We should take up a fund raiser to help Severine out.

Mig you wanted to raise money for chess players. I suggest you use the first money to help Severine. He has given so much to chess. it is now time for us to help him out.

go to the 3rd picture down from the top. that is Jessica Wamala. a good story. this might help some people understand the tragedy.


also dont miss


The man has been arrested multiple times. Cops need to show probable cause to make an arrest. And cops more typically single out black youth with cornrows (b/c prejudice), not high school teachers. So if i had to speculate i would guess he may very well be guilty. This is just a guess, of course, but so is Frank H's assessment. Like Frank H, I am a chess player, true, but moreover i am a US citizen with some level of faith in the justice system. (Though i recognize that racism against blacks is real and well-documented in the justice system.) If he really is guilty, then i would be ashamed to support him just because he plays a game that i also play.

Unless the guy is a personal friend whom you care about, I think a fundraiser would be a bad idea.

It's the part "violating restraining order(s)" that has me wondering about his mindset. An innocent person with an ounce of common sense is going to stay away as far as possible. Also, Patrick is right about the fund raiser.

Sadly, the charges against Severine sound plausible. Mr. Wamala has an older daughter in her 20's that was born in Uganda. One news source quoted an anonymous victim saying that she felt she owed it to him since he had brought her over from Uganda. The Nashua Telegram reports that it was Severine's oldest son, Jacob that called the police when he discovered details of the eldest sister's allegations. It may have all been triggered by revelations that the preying had spread to other women.

I can only pray that the charges against Severine are false and a result of a cataclysmic family argument. But I have had a personal involvement with an incest survivor and the story, and the way it was brought to light, sounds very true.

I know Severine and all his 4 children, as well as his estranged wife. He has always been a gentleman, albeit an eccentric one. His children always seemed evidence of Severine's excellence as a parent... they seem very well-adjusted; able to take chess defeats in stride in spite of their intensity at the game. They are extremely well-behaved, yet seem very advanced in their social skills. You would not expect kids to be so well-adjusted if they had grown up in a household that was so severely dysfuntional as alleged. I hold on to this fact and it gives me some hope that the whole thing is a mistake.

As much as I am dismayed at the possible ruin of Severine's life, I am much more concerned with the well-being of his kids. They are all fine young people and I pray for their survival.

On a much, much, much lesser note, this is very bad news for chess in massachusetts.

One more story, much more in-depth:


Personally I did not like the man; a couple of years ago I asked him a question at a tournament and he snapped at me. At another venue I won some prize money that he said he'd mail but I never got it. I interpreted the " niceness " as a cover for a mean personality. He got the HS job and fast promotions because he is a ----N. Wake up people.

Because he is a ... what?

I can't find his doctorate in electrical engineering from UMass on any dissertation abstract database.

If you count the dashes in Hetman's comment - I think he's trying to spell out HUMAN.

Hope so because otherwise you might misinterpret his comment and Hetman might look like a brain-dead racist basta-d.

"Since 1994, I have not been arrested. I am not going to flee anywhere,"

That statement doesn't help his case much.

I like the judge's words better:

"I don't believe someone with 100 court appearances is a law-abiding citizen. ..."

Hetman's concluding sentence, "Wake up people," sounds like a cleaned-up version of "Wake up white people," a sometime KKK battle-cry. (I learned of this by coincidence around 1990 while listening to a Howard Stern broadcast that poked fun at a state employee in upstate New York who'd recently been exposed in the press as a local Klan or neo-Nazi leader. Stern on that day's show ran over and over again the guy's home answering-machine announcement, which began, "Wake up white people...")

After reading the article that rookseven posted, it doesn't take a chessplayer to fit the pieces together. My question is: How the h--- did he get a job teaching children to begin with?!

I know there's a term in the teaching profession called "passing the lemons," but this goes well beyond that.

From everything I have read about the case posted here and also based upon my several meetings with Mr. Wamala and the interaction he has displayed with his own kids, I have an inclination to believe his claim to innocence. I can easily understand how someone of his upbringing and temperment might cause ill feelings in some of today's youth in their current culture. I cannot say however that I know the man well enough to say he could not do such a thing. I certainly am surprised by the allegations against him and do hope they are not true and his name is cleared and this does not ruin his life. He definitely should have taken extra precautions to not even be in a position where such allegations are even plausible. I have taught chess to minors and i will not give "private" lessons.

You people are being retarded. "We should take up a fund raiser to help Severine out."??
He has 30 charges against him and was turned in by his own son. Unfortunately it seems extremely likely that he is totally guilty.

We are not retarded... just in shock.

For those of us who know him here in Massachusetts this is jaw dropping. We played chess at his tournaments and saw how well adjusted his kids are. He mostly had a positive disposition. I sure hope there's been a mistake.

Sad news for Massachusetts chess even sadder for the entire Wamala family either way. His life ( and those kids) and carreer will never be the same after these allegations.

"I sure hope there's been a mistake."

"His life ( and those kids) and carreer will never be the same after these allegations."

Shock can't explain this much stupidity.

It's too deep for you, the dashes with the N on the end is an organization that is discriminatory towards non members, figure it out. Ever wonder why you never got that promotion?

OK Chesstraveler thinks ....N means LEMON. MORON might fit it too.

Gosh, I never knew there were freemasons in the US. I thought it was a British thing. Assuming of course that Hetman's in the US, and that that's what he means.

Curious to accumulate 100 court appearances in the course of getting one fairly insignificant conviction. Something strange there.

Please, folks, let us not forget that in America we are innocent until proven guilty. This is very important. Also, some people, including the judge who requested $1M bail, cited Severine's 100 previous court appearances. I don't think that these are relevant.

From a post I made to the BCC Weblog: Even though he was in court 100 times, he was only convicted of a single misdemeanor. Heck, I once got an illegitimate speeding ticket that I had to fight(successfully, I might add), and this required me to show up in court four times(!): first for the initial magistrate hearing, the second time in front of a judge who postponed the case, a third time to deliver a motion of more evidence, and finally, for the last time, in front of a judge who found me not guilty! I had to miss work four times to go to court for a lousy speeding ticket. And I was not guilty. Appearances in court, in my opinion, do not matter; it's being convicted that matters.

In Severine's previous court appearances, he had to go to court for charges more complicated than a speeding ticket.

Here's a strained analogy, but it works: It doesn't matter how many times one gets checked during a game of chess; it's ony bad to get checkmated. Going to court is like getting checked. You have to defend yourself. This doesn't mean that you're lost or even have a losing position. It's only the patzer who believes that a check is bad.

Severine is innocent until proven guilty. Let us remember that, and let us follow this case with intelligence and interest.

Howard Goldowsky
Boston, MA

Teachers get promoted if they're Masons? Cool!

"Even though he was in court 100 times, he was only convicted of a single misdemeanor."

That means he has been arrested *dozens* of times since immigrating at age 21-ish. Cops do not regularly arrest a person for nothing. Generally speaking, neither will the State prosecute misdemeanors or family issues (charges are usually dropped in most cases) and this is probably what happened for Wamala many, many times.

I'd guess that in those cases, he probably popped off and perhaps punched/pushed a family member/neighbor/acquaintence without inflicting serious physical injury, a common scenario. Btw, misdemeanor = felony plea-bargained down for first-time offenders. In other words, he did serious damage to property/person at least once.

**Examples of quotes****

he was a model gentleman

he has always been very friendly with me and seemed like a very good guy

Personally I did not like the man

based upon my several meetings with Mr. Wamala and the interaction he has displayed with his own kids, I have an inclination to believe his claim to innocence.


Seriously, what does this man's personal demeanor or friendliness have to do with him being guilty or not?

I hope none of you people are lawyers or judges, b/c if you are, then the justice system in the US is royally screwed up.

haha good one aa


nice "analysis"

"he has always been very friendly with me and seemed like a very good guy"

yes, I said that and stand by it. I don't see how that equates with me saying that he must be innocent. I was expressing my surprise at his arrest, and I think many that know him are surprised.

This is a blog, not a courtroom.

Mr. Goldowsky,

I wouldn't compare life to a chess game, and court appearances as being "in check". I've lived on this planet for 28 years without a single court appearance. Same goes for every member of my immediate family, as well as my close group of friends.

The only possible exception is if those court appearances had something to do with immigration into this country, but by the sounds of it, the answer to that is no.

I have known Severine for a couple years now and he has always been a very nice gentleman. He even helped me learn to become a tournament director. I have always known him to be of good character. He also has run a first class chess organization for many years. I want him to know that the chess community is thinking of him during this difficult time, and that we hope for the best for him and his family.

John F.,

I said that it was a strained analogy, but it works to prove my point: that going to court doesn't mean you're a bad person. Like I said, I was in court four times for a lousy speeding ticket. This doesn't mean that I'm a criminal. To judge a man based on his number of appearances in court is to presume guilt.

Kudos to you and your family, John. Bt just as one can win a chess game without being checked, one can also win a game after being checked multiple times. What I'm trying to say is that being arrested doesn't mean one is guilty. Being in check during a chess game doesn't mean one has a lost position.


On the "over 100 court appearances" ...it was Severine ( and typical of his demeanor) exagerating how many times he went to court to make a point that he wasn't going to be a flight risk ... but in reality it was a matter of 36 times during the early 1990's probably around the time he was separating from his first wife ( not Pamela)

Howard was spot on about the potential irrelevance of the "100 previous court appearances" (acutally 36, as noted by blunderprone). When a man is involved in a contentious divorce, it is very easy to be served with a restraining order. And if the estranged husband calls his wife at the wrong time, that can be a violation and lead to 4 or 5 court appearances just to clear it up. The fact that Severine was eventually awarded custody of his kids from his first marraige is enough evidence that his actions in the early '90s were not deemed violent or aberrant behavior. Unless any of these court apperances were the result of something other than domestic issues, I concur with HG.

But the crime of incest is often committed by otherwise "fine, upstanding members of the community," so, although his previous court appearances should not be held against him, Severine's otherwise good character should not exonerate him. The $1M bail will likely be reduced, but because the alleged crimes, (or most of them) were vs his family, the court first wanted to make sure that the kids were safe, relocated and out of harm's way of potential reprisal.

On a larger issue, we, as a chess community, must address the potential for child abuse at chess events. I can't think of another activity where children and adults so freely mix and compete against each other. Pedophiles (and I am not directing this at Severine, who deserves his day in court) will always seek out those venues where they have easy access to children. I have attended many a World Open where there are hundreds of unattended kids playing adults and then milling around after the games. One year,at a World Open, I had just managed to beat a young girl in a back and forth game. After the game we went to find a table in the skittles room to do a post-mortem, but since it was full, I almost instinctively asked her if she'd like to go over the game in my room... until I realized I was talking to a 14 year old girl and suggested we sit on the floor of the lobby to review the game. I don't think pedophiles would 'squander' that kind of opportunity.

I've heard some scattered cases of pedophila in chess, but don't know of anything in particular. But it certainly sounds like a tragedy in waiting. I think this has to be addressed before it's too late.

I think the million dollar bail is rediculous excessive and discriminatory. the Judge must know he filed for bankruptcy recently. it is extremely difficult to almost impossible to defend oneself when confined to a jail cell.

It seems to me that all of the accusations are verbal and there is no evidence that a crime was committed.

I ask you. what is the evidence that a crime was committed?

I see a lynch mob. I see a witch hunt. but I do not see any evidence. In fact we are not even given a statement of what the supposed crime is suppose to be.

What we are all lacking is an exact statement by the victims of what they alledge happened. In the USA, poor Severine might never find that out until he finally listens to the testimony of the accusers in court. the police are not interested in what happened. they are only interested in prosecuting him and throwing him in jail for the rest of his life. that earns them brownie points on the job. they receive promotions for destroying people's lives.

Justice has no place with the police and prosecutors. they only are interested in conviction. Remember anything and everything you say to a police officer can and will be used against you.

Notice nothing will be used to help you out. the first step in a successful prosecution is to demonize the accused in the newspapers. slash and destroy all the accused. the naive public thinks the police are seeking the truth. nothing could be more absurd.

I want to know the nature of the accusations. do the accusers claim that Severine gave them a hug and they feel now years later that it was inappropriate. the accusers frequently think the police will seek the truth. but they dont seek the truth. they destroy the accused. not the original intention or idea of the accusers.

there is so much injustice in America. Mostly fostered by judgemental people who are so quick to condemn. that is what the police state lives off of. if the public is busy condemning their friends then they have no time to condemn their police and government.

The federal government has everyone busy condemning the arabs so they dont look at their own government.

Learn to put judgment aside and seek the truth. You can only seek the truth by putting judgment aside. those busy with judgment can never find the truth.

I am very glad to see that there are people who know Severine who are willing to support him. to say he is a good person. to hope he is innocent. to hope this will all go away.

I am sad to see there are people who do not know Severine who are so quick to condemn.

I will take a strong stand and say, I am neutral. I dont know enough. but I want concrete answers to the truth. not mass hysteria, witch hunts and lynch mobs. I hope he is innocent just as I hope that no person ever would commit any of these crimes on any person. I hope this type of crime will go away. that no one would ever do such a thing.

But I am a realist. I know some people do this type of thing. and they must be stopped from doing it again. but first let us seek the truth without prejudice and pre judgment.

Frank H wrote:

"I see a lynch mob. I see a witch hunt, but I do not see any evidence..."

I see possibly two accusers from his own family. I see a son who called the police on his father. I see the police and prosecutor moving quickly and strongly to protect the children. As I said, the 1M$ bail may well be reduced, AFTER the children are relocated and safe. Given that the charges are coming from Severine's own family, it would hardly make sense to let him get bailed out and return home within 24 hours of being 'turned in' by his family.

I also see a pattern that is disturbing, and any police profiler would see at least that and more and conclude that the charges are, at the very least, credible. For every person charged for incest, there are possibly another 9 perpetrators that are never charged. Often the initial family victim of incest is an oldest daughter who has submitted for so long, that she feels complicitous and feels that it is her fault. Often the initial victim continues to submit in order to protect younger siblings from being preyed upon. If, in this case, she becomes aware that that 'unwritten agreement' was violated, and the incest has spread to other siblings, then, and only then, does the victim feel compelled to come forward. From reading the accounts in the Nashua Telegram report about an argument breaking out between the two sisters, that(revelation) could have been what transpired.

It is all speculation, but the charges seem credible. I've been to countless hours of counseling for spouses and friends of incest survivors. It doesn't make me an expert, but it certainly helps me understand the dynamic at work, and as someone who knew the family well, the charges, as I have stated before, seem very plausible. It's no shock that the DA arrived at the same conclusion.

Frank H,

In an earlier post you said and I quote:

"I do not believe that he did anything."

"I believe Severine when he pled innocent."

"We should take up a fund raiser to help Severine out."

How in the hell does that translate as being "neutral"? For all the articulated pontification, you kind of remind me of tommy.

I have been following this story closely and am quite surprised. I have known Severin Wamala indirectly for two years. His own children and the Lowell H.S. team have competed against my students from California at the national level. I have been impressed by the program that he has put together.

I just saw Jacob and Jessica Wamala at the US Open last month. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. How could such major events break within one month? These allegations date back not weeks but rather years.

For the record:

"Records obtained by The Sun, however, show that Wamala had been arraigned 13 times between 1990 and 1993 on 36 domestic and misdemeanor charges in courts throughout the state." One count resulted in a misdemeanor conviction for assault and battery in 1993. "All of the other 35 charges were either dismissed, or Wamala was found not guilty."

Lowell Sun Online http://www.lowellsun.com/fastsearchresults/ci_4343365

BlunderProne's claim of 36 court appearances is actually the number of charges filed. As mentioned previously in this thread, most charges will correlate to multiple court appearances. "Hundreds" of court appearances seems to indeed be likely.

In Wamala's defense, all but one case was dismissed. It seems strange to me that 35 out of 36 allegations did not result in a conviction. Has this man been targetted by law enforcement for some reason? Have people made false claims against him in the past? Certainly there is smoke, but where is the fire? In summary, these statistics make me skeptical of the current charges--at least until I hear more evidence.

No matter whether the charges are true, this is a very sad case. Either there was inappropriate sexual behavior or someone has so much hatred to frame an innocent man. I'm not sure which one is worse. After all, there are children involved. More than one life has already been ruined.

Michael Aigner

"In Wamala's defense, all but one case was dismissed."

I've worked in the legal system so have some relevant experience. In a simple domestic assault and battery case the accused is almost always guilty -- the cops arrive, someone's visibly been assaulted as evidenced by marks, cuts or swelling, and the identity of the guilt party not in dispute.

However, the family member who calls the cops typically declines to press charges once things have cooled down, sometimes in order not to legally injure a family member (e.g., in Wamala's case, conviction on an assault charge means the automatic loss of his teaching position and possible permanent relegation to low-paying, marginal blue collar work -- no-one wants to hire a violent felon and so his life is destroyed), sometimes because they have reconciled.

Howard Goldowsky wrote, "Please, folks, let us not forget that in America we are innocent until proven guilty. This is very important."

Yes, it's important enough to get ir right. (Sorry for going off on what may be a tangent, but this is a pet peeve of mine.)

First, that only holds in a court of law. We are not being the least bit "un-American" if we look at what's been reported and come to the conclusion that he is likely guilty. (We are being foolish, however, if we think we have all the facts simply from reading a couple of newspaper stories and are unwilling to reevaluate in light of further evidence.)

Second, it's not that someone accused of a crime IS innocent until proved guilty; it's that he's PRESUMED innocent. Right now, before any trial, he is either innocent or guilty and we don't know which it is.


I agree with your comments on the 'presumption' of innocence.

Also, the outcome of a trial does not 'prove' guilt or innocence. Many times the guilty are acquitted, or the innocent are convicted.

We can formulate our own legitimate continuing suspicions of OJ, for example, despite the trial verdict.


I see your point.


Being from NH, I know him too, so I prefer to stay anonymous.

I would like to make a few points.

First to SH: In NH, as is happening in more and more states, once a domestic violence call is made and an arrest has been made, the state is the complaining party and prosecutes, and the original reporting party can not drop the since they are not the complainant. At that point, only the state can decide to drop the charges. Massachusetts is the same from everything I could find.

Second, also to SH, who said that a misdemeanor equals a plea-bargained felony: That clearly doesn't not seem to be the case with the old charges. The newspapers were pretty clear that all the charges were true misdemeanors. To me, number of charges (How often do you see a whole list of charges filed with the “Let’s see what sticks” attitude?) doesn’t mean as much as the number of incidents/altercations, but the 13 arrests referenced here are quite significant.

Third, to Frank H and his lynch mob theory: Surely his son didn’t level his allegations, and then 5 minutes later the police arrest him. They probably talked to the daughter and the other young women to ensure probable cause, then they had to put that in front of a judge, who issued a warrant. It wasn’t willy nilly. I do agree that $1M bail is excessive, since the primary point of bail is to ensure a defendant returns to face justice, not to punish.

Fourth, until last year I had never ever been in court until my divorce. My ex filed 2 restraining orders that were both dropped on her testimony alone (I didn’t even testify) as unwarranted. Anyone can be dragged into court under the right circumstances, even if they do not deserve to be there. It just takes a bitter spouse, a bogus lawsuit, or even a bad cop with an attitude who thinks you looked at him wrong during a traffic stop. I know someone to whom this scenario happened, and although it didn't result in arrest, it was close. He is a strange type, but very respectful and extremely honest.

Lastly, very often predators are the more affable people you could ever meet since that enables them to get close to their victims.

We all naturally want people we know, or in this case, have a common bond with to be innocent. I hate to say it, but the fact of reality is that a vast majority of people charged with a crime don’t beat the rap because they are guilty. Guilty or innocent, at least this is not the type of case that will have an ambiguous result. With a daughter and several other complainants, his guilt or innocence will be pretty clear, so for now we just wait.

I know nothing about Wamala's personal life.

He has been a strong advocate of chess in the Boston area as both an organizer and player. A very active tournament player with impeccable manners, demeanor and support for the local tourney scene.

His 3 chess-playing children are very well-mannered and have improved over the years, showing great promise.

Frankly, in my 18 years as a chess player (and until recently the last 12 in Boston where I saw Wamala frequently, I've seen my share of weirdos, pedophiles and people who just aren't right -- circulating on the fringes of the chess scene well within reach of children and young women.

Nothing I ever saw of Wamala would lead me to conlude there was anything but a nice guy with great enthusaism for the game.

I hope the charges are without merit.

I clipped this from a news article.

The Boston Globe reports Wamala told police he gave the alleged victims "special hugs" and extra affection but never was involved in sexual activity with them.

Something about this statement has the "ring" of truth. He probably should not have been giving "special hugs" but then the innocent are often naive.

I can guess that it might be possible that Severine gave a hug in which he had no personal sexual arousal, but the younger female might have felt some. Meantime, Severine thinks what he is doing is good and the girl later thinks what he is doing is not so good. and everything blows out of control because they never talk to each other about it. the son runs off and gets the police involved. a big mistake. the son should have talked to the father first. Now it is too late. Everyone's life is being destroyed. And the police will not allow the son to talk to the father. the father is not allowed to talk to anyone.

I also hope the charges are without merit. that has 2 huge benefits.

1) that Severine is innocent.
2) that none of the girls were abused.

Certainly it is much better if the girls were never abused.

"Special hugs"? Sounds creepy to me.

"I can guess that it might be possible that Severine gave a hug in which he had no personal sexual arousal, but the younger female might have felt some."? Sounds even creepier.

Approximately 1 year ago I play SW in the 3rd round of the New England Open 1 day and having faced an underhanded opening ( Qh4 in the Scotch) received a worse position.When SW began slamming pieces down with an insidious grin my resolve and skill took over and having moved his rook to allow a mate in 2, SW picked up the rook again and moved another piece staving off mate. After my initial shock and subsequent protest (over a violation of rule 10B of the Official Rules of Chess, 5th edition) a shouting match ensued in which I yelled to SW " You are a tournament director for God's sake!" trying to shame him into honesty. Alas it was his word against mine (no other witnesses) and the game continued which I eventually won anyway.
So what does this incident have to do with SW's current charges and state of affairs?
Well, I will leave the interpretation of that correlation to the reader......

"A man that will take back a move at chess will pick a pocket." Or worse.

Shoot a fox?

There’s something very American about some of the posts about being presumed innocent and indeed this whole shemozzle. As far as one can tell (over here we remember the events surrounding the Louise Woodward trial with amazement) you have this notion that there’s nothing wrong with witnesses selling their stories in the papers beforehand, for example, or indeed signing deals with the papers to tell their stories afterwards with the fee dependent upon a conviction, or of jury members selling their stories afterwards. Over here, and I suspect in most countries, these things are unthinkable, but I remember seeing a US lawyer mount a passionate defence of them on TV as being part of a democratic and open system.

In the UK though the sort of reports posted here would already have had the defence lawyers screaming (with inevitable success, I imagine) that a fair trial was no longer possible, and the editors in grave danger of a jail sentence.

Always worth remembering when the rest of the world thinks you’re crazy.

Domestic violence cases by the way, here too it is true in principle that only the police can drop the charges, but in practice if the victim changes her mind and her story you can’t get a conviction anyway. Political efforts are made from time to time to change this, unsuccessfully.

I generally think the modern fuss about paedophilia does more harm than good, but we have had a couple of high-profile chess cases here. A well-known junior coach who I think might even have held some sort of national coaching post was jailed a few years ago, and I personally witnessed the junior national team coach (and former British Champion) indulging in some rather inappropriate behaviour with some now-GMs at an international junior team event some years ago. He too found himself under investigation by the police and had to go on the run, where he still is as far as I know.

Rdh, I doubt that any prospective jurors in Wamala's case read this blog. Let's all hope that a fair trial will occur.

They don't read this blog, but they might read the Boston Globe. I don't see any prospect at all of what UK lawyers would consider a fair trial, but then no, literally no, trial in the US is a fair trial by European standards.

In case anyone has actually made it this far:

Please don't give up yet on the three-day getaway tournaments. The next getaway tournament was scheduled for October 20-22, 2006. There ARE efforts underway to make the tournament happen.

Please check the Massachusetts Chess Association web site (www.masschess.org) for details. There will be information there as soon as anything is available.


Does the crime of "seditious libel" (i.e. libel against the state) still exist in the UK?

While in journalism school in 1980 in California I was taught that it did still exist then, and that editors could (in theory) be jailed for it -- just like in the Soviet Union at the time.

I don't know whether any British editor ever was charged with seditious libel during the post-WWII era. But as you pointed out, editors frequently were (and apparently still are) jailed for disclosing various personal "secrets" about individuals that someone in the criminal justice system thought were better left unsaid.

Perhaps you could enlighten us conviction-happy Americans, as to the safeguards that prevent prosecutors and government officials in your very human-rights-conscious country from availaing themselves of a similar means of redress (i.e. tossing an offending editor in jail) if perchance something is published before (or during) trial, that they felt was prejudicial against the PROSECUTION? Or are UK prosecutors too upstanding to ever do anything worthy of a media expose? (Oh yeah, "In the Name of the Father." Never mind.)

(kinda like the guys on the cheating threads here who argued that GMs are too upstanding to ever cheat at chess for money, it's only we amateur fish who stoop to that)

RDH, I am not sure if your point with regards to Louise Woodward is just that we should have not pre-trial coverage of any case, but she was found guilty. I don't know what they showed on tv over there, but here, you had a young woman who was given the care of a baby who ended up dead. She admitted she shook the baby. All that was in question was how hard and when.

She was just damn lucky to have a screwed up judge who gave her time served since she should still be in prison.

Keep hope alive, glad to here that Ken Ballou is making an effort to keep the Getaway tradition going.

I have known Severine for over 4 years he always seemed like a decent guy and a great dad. I hope this is all a misunderstanding, it is a family matter I think the courts should stay out of it.

Before we pile on, I think we need to wait until all the facts are in. I am pretty surprised at all the media attention this incident has gotten, it was in USA Today not to mention the front page of the Boston Globe plus it was the lead story on the 6 o'clock news shows. The one million dollars bail sounds rather excessive hopefully this will be reduced at some point.

Hey orange "glad to here"? maybe you meant "glad to hear", I'm with you I think Ken Ballou deserves a "special hug" for keeping the Getaway going.

What's RDH trying to say? That British justice is a model of justice and honesty? Not full of drunken judges and lying policemen?

Most people think their legal system is the fairest, their soldiers the bravest, their blitz players the most talented, etc. but it's all silly nationalism.

What Brits do hate, though, as AA mentioned, is to have their own fine and noble native-born criminals jailed by nasty Americans. The performance about those Natwest guys is another case in point.

Jon Jacobs, In the Name of the Father was of course fiction and propaganda at that, but you knew that. And contempt of court means printing material prejudicial to a fair trial in either direction; the distinction you make doesn’t exist. Actually, editors are seldom if ever jailed, although in my view they should be. For example, we had a famous case (the Vardens Road murder) where two sisters were convicted of killing a man who was suggested to be the ex-lover of one of them. The Sun, a national newspaper, had printed a picture of the woman kissing the victim. In fact this had been taken at the victim’s wedding when he was standing in line and kissing every woman who came past, and apart from being cleverly cut so that this was not apparent had in addition been touched up to make it appear like a mouth-to-mouth kiss as opposed to the usual kiss on the cheek. The sisters were freed by the Court of Appeal on the grounds of this picture (among other grounds). In my opinion nothing less than a jail sentence for the editor would have met the case.

Seditious libel still exists as a crime, sure. It basically requires incitement to rebellion, though. Is it not a crime in the US to call for the violent overthrow of the President, then, possibly accompanied by a spot of flag-burning? That’s something for you to be proud of, if so.

You seem to imagine by the way that prosecutors and judges are government officials. This is mistaken.

UK lawyers have always believed that it is better that a thousand guilty men go free than that a single innocent man be convicted. In fact further, we have always believed that to be axiomatic and that no civilised justice system could hold otherwise. As your post exemplifies, the same view does not prevail in the US. As I said, it’s handy for you to recall that we and most other justice systems think yours is crazy, just as it’s handy for us to remember that there is another view passionately and sincerely held by decent lawyers.

AA - on the Louise Woodward case, you didn’t just have what we would consider massively prejudicial pre-trial publicity, but if I remember correctly you also had jurors selling their story afterwards. And – my memory is vague and I can hardly believe this to be true – but is it also the case that jurors’ names are made freely available there? I didn’t have any point about the verdict, indeed I don’t even remember it, but I certainly wouldn’t be so crass as to comment on either it or the sentence without having heard the evidence.

To be fair, I think what we dislike about the Natwest people is the fact that we have signed the agreement under which they are being extradited, whereas the US has refused to sign a reciprocal agreement. I would be interested to hear your defence of the President’s actions in that matter, if you want to discuss it, but to be frank I don’t think you’ve picked the best example you could have done. Some people here may not like it but we are extraditing these people. If the circumstances were reversed, the US wouldn’t be.

Obviously British justice is not perfect. All legal systems have drunken judges and lying policemen. That’s why we would consider it important not to add to the mix emotional pre-trial press reports containing the usual journalistic cocktail of outright errors, blatantly prejudiced comment dressed up as semi-facts, and all the rest of it. It’s not a question of nationalism: as I said I found the US lawyer’s belief in his system illuminating. He was willing to defend things I found shocking on a principled level, rather than retaliating by saying that the fictional British justice system is nasty to fictional Irish terrorists. (incidentally Jon Jacobs could hardly conform more accurately to a stereotype we have of Americans than by his reference to this film above).

RDH, 2 comments. 1) I don't care if jurors sell their stories after the trial since that didn't affect a trial that is over. I do have a big problem with the occasional story about a potential witness who is shopping their story before the trial, but this actually always helps the accused since it always calls into question their credibility. 2) Frankly in almost 45 years on this planet as an avid newspaper reader, I can not recall any case in the US like the picture incident with them kissing at a wedding, or the recent Prince Harry feeling up the cute girl years ago incident in any respected paper. We do have our tabloids, but there is a very wide separation in their credibility (they really have zero except with the very few) so we have no confusion here. It seems like the line gets blurred some in the UK with your papers. Again, I don't live there, but your papers often seem out of control, but please don't assume that everywhere is like that.

I agree: our tabloids are beneath contempt. Although what little I’ve seen of the National Enquirer isn’t too clever either. And I remember being rather shocked in Denmark 25 years ago to see that their equivalent of the Sun featured ads for prostitutes (at least assuming my loose translation of ‘cocktailmassage’ is correct).

But I’m not really talking about tabloid excesses. I assume the Boston Globe is a respectable paper, yet this wholesale publication of a defendant’s previous convictions, and indeed not only convictions but accusations which were not proven, is shocking to UK eyes. Is this really admissible in a US court? If it isn’t admissible I find it strange to see it allowed to be published before trial.

Jurors being allowed to sell their stories – it is naïve to imagine this does not (or cannot) affect the trial. There are many ways in which the possibility of this affects the trial. For one thing, the price alters depending upon the verdict. For another, it is reasonable to suppose that a juror who is holding out against the conviction of an unpopular defendant may be affected by the prospect of the other eleven (or nine, if 10-2 will do) selling their stories and identifying him or her as the one who held out and stopped Mr Alleged Paedophile from getting convicted, let’s say. I’m sure one could produce other scenarios.

Witnesses selling their stories pre-trial doesn’t always help the defence. They may, for example, say things which would not be admissible in court but which now find themselves in the public domain. Or the Louise Woodward case, for example, featured the mother weeping on TV for days at a time pre-trial. That doesn’t affect her credibility much, but it does affect attitudes, including jurors’ attitudes.


Birmingham Six
Guildford Four
Maguire Seven

You can dig deeper than the movies and still think these are examples of a corrupt justice system.

They're examples of wrongful convictions twenty years ago, to be sure. I don't know about a corrupt justice system. Lots of justice systems find their values warped in the face of terrorist campaigns. You want me to mention G********o?

re: Fluffy

"he has always been very friendly with me and seemed like a very good guy"

yes, I said that and stand by it. I don't see how that equates with me saying that he must be innocent. I was expressing my surprise at his arrest, and I think many that know him are surprised.

This is a blog, not a courtroom.


The fact that you expressed surprise at his arrest b/c he seemed a good guy tells me enough about your biases. Why would it be surprising that a nice guy did something bad?

You sound kind of naive.

C'est un cas intéressant, si le pénis lui était impliqué alors était plus qu'une étreinte spéciale, naturellement les échecs ont des références sexuelles telles que la forme de l'évêque ou la promotion du gage.

J'ai connu Ken Ballou pendant beaucoup d'années, il avais l'habitude de vivre dans un fourgon vers le bas à côté du fleuve quand il était un jeune homme, son chien employé pour jouer avec mon chien, chaque novembre où nous voyagerions au Maine aux cerfs communs de chasse, un an nous avons mis en sac un mâle de 10 points, il étais si grand il était difficile de le fixer sur le toit de ma voiture, Ken m'a laissé emprunter un couple des cordes bungy qu'il a eues dans son sac à dos.

Ich habe Severine Wamala für viele Jahre gekannt, war ich überrascht, zu hören, daß er soviel Geld für das Gehen zu den Schachturnieren ausgab, die er sind, hatte Bankrott gemacht und lebte in einem Packwagen unten durch den Fluß, schätze ich, er das Wahrheit wehn erklärte, das er mir erklärte, daß er Geld auf den Schachturnieren verlor er organisierte, gab er die meisten des Geldes für das Zahlen aus Preisen aus und er gab den Rest des Geldes für das Zahlen von von Ken Ballou aus, also sollten wir feststellen, daß materieller Gewinn nicht seine Absicht war.

Ci sono molti giocatori di scacchi che sono avvocati penso che uno di loro dovrebbe difendere Severine Wamala in questo caso. La conduttura è chiaramente non colpevole lui che sta provanda nella corte dell'opinione pubblica ed è errato. Come può qualcosa così buona essere così difettoso? Gli scacchi sono la sua passione là sono sin in quanto. Ha promosso il suo pegno per allineare otto ed ha una nuova regina là è crimine in quanto. Mantenga la speranza viva.

Ci sono molti giocatori di scacchi che sono avvocati penso che uno di loro dovrebbe difendere Severine Wamala in questo caso. La conduttura è chiaramente non colpevole lui che sta provanda nella corte dell'opinione pubblica ed è errato. Come può qualcosa così buona essere così difettoso? Gli scacchi sono la sua passione là sono sin in quanto. Ha promosso il suo pegno per allineare otto ed ha una nuova regina là è crimine in quanto. Mantenga la speranza viva.

No I could not be convicted by a jury of my peers

Still crazy after all these years...

The man is innocent, one million dollars bail is an outrage. A man shows affection for a child and recieves this kind of treatment, let this man go free.

The entry with the 9/14 .......n should be removed by a moderator, in context it suggests racism and leaving it on the blog is offensive.

Looks like RDH needs a lesson in the history of his own country. "In the Name of the Father" is fiction???

Here's what a simple Google search brought up (http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/in_the_name_of_the_father/about.php)

"At the time of the Guildford Four's sentencing (on October 22, 1975), presiding judge Sir John Donaldson stated that he regretted they had not been charged with treason, for then he could have sentenced them to death.

"There were more than 100 discrepancies in the Guildford Four's confessions.

"Gerry Conlon (i.e. the real-life victim of British "justice" played by Daniel Day-Lewis in the movie) lives in London. Upon his release from prison, he, along with Gareth Pierce and Sarah Conlon, campaigned to clear Guiseppe Conlon's name. Guiseppe Conlon is buried in Milltown Cemetary, Belfast.

"Paddy Armstrong returned to Ireland.

"Carole Richardson lives in England. She is married with one child.

"Paul Hill married Courtney Kennedy, daughter of Robert Kennedy. They live in New York.

"Three ex-detectives on the case were acquitted of conspiring to pervert the course of justice after their trial on May 19, 1993.

"The IRA men who admitted they were responsible for the Guilford pub bombing have never been charged with the offense. They remain in British prisons."

Now, I'm sure some details were changed in the movie. But RDH, you're either one real ignorant bloke about your own country, or else you are pretty damn cynical for referring to the entire plot as being about a "fictional British justice system (that) is nasty to fictional Irish terrorists."

It looks like you were hoping that on the one hand, the non-UK readers of this blog will take your meaning literally and assume it was "just a movie" that wasn't about actual people and events; but on the other hand figuring that when challenged you can wiggle out by saying, "Well, obviously I meant it was a (partially) FICTIONALIZED ACCOUNT of actual events."

Jon Jacobs

Don't be ridiculous. Of course the Guildford Four events happened, as I acknowledged lower down in the thread. But they didn't happen in the way depicted in the film.

I'm afraid it hadn't occurred to me that anyone could be so ignorant as not to know that the film was based on real events. Apart from anything else, if I recall it correctly (and frankly it was so dull that I found myself falling asleep, so I may not have done), it says so in the film.

There's a whole genre of these films, which no doubt play very well at IRA fundraising parades in Boston. The Wind that Shakes the Barley is the latest. They resemble WW2 war action flicks; the Irish are all lovely bhoys with dreaming eyes and the Brits range from the upperclass sadist speaking in clipped tones to the violent lower-class bullyboy. For some reason no-one ever bothers to make films about the IRA murdering children.


The National Enquirer is a pure tabloid, but here that is taken with a grain of salt, and no one except the most moronic here really reads it for more than entertainment value, and we know that it is not to be believed unless backed up by real newspapers. I have always gotten the impression that your tabloids blur the line by trying to put in some real news too to gain credibility (1/2 tabloid, 1/2 real paper?). To be honest, I really don't know though.

As far as jurors selling their stories, again I have never heard of this happening until after the trial is over and you have a result, which would mean that the defendant got a fair trial. I don't believe that most are there with the main thought of selling their story after, and it probably occurs to them once approached by agents later. Even after the fact, this behavior, which I agree should be outlawed but is protected by our First Amendment (free speech), can only help the defendant on appeal. From time to time, I have seen a witness in a major trial, like the trial against Kobe Bryant, where the "victim" was shopping her story BEFORE the trial. Well, this was reported and was killing her credibility so it never got to trial for various reasons.

As far as pre-trial release of information, you have a point. The judge probably should have issued a gag order in that case. In either case, we do have plenty of jurors who can truthfully say they do not read the newspaper or watch the news (and they are asked about their views and prior knowledge) since there is no shortage of morons in the world. I also do believe that you can find people who can legitimately put aside what they have seen and base their judgment on only what they have seen in court. I like to think that I am one.

The UK may not have liked the trial but every country gets to determine its own rules. I don't think there was any doubt that she killed a baby, so please don't feel like she got shafted. She is so damn lucky to be free since she should have been in jail for 25 to life under Mass law. She is still a convicted murderer.

I think you’re mistaken about the convicted murderer bit, or at least I suppose she was at one point convicted of second degree murder, but it was overturned. She was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, in the end. See

If I might say so, possibly your misrecollection is testimony to the emotional effect exerted by the press coverage, and illustrates in its small way the power of these things?

Rereading that, I’d forgotten some of the little things that so staggered us at the time. Allowing in the entirely unconnected fact that she used fake ID to visit a nightclub, for example. Or the sinister connotation given to ‘popped the baby on the bed’ – any UK English speaker will tell you this means no more than ‘put on the bed’; the connotation is if anything that the putting will be for a short time, not that it was done sharply. To be fair the latter is the sort of dishonest theatricality that occurs in any adversarial system. The former however is simply wrong to our eyes.

I also think you’re mistaken about the proposition that ‘there is no doubt’ she ‘killed a baby’, for several reasons. First of all, to my mind ‘kill’ connotes intention rather than negligence, whereas involuntary manslaughter means that intention was found to be absent. Secondly, the defence expert witnesses who testified that what they saw was consistent with injuries inflicted earlier during the time the baby was in the care of the parents presumably wouldn’t agree with you. Thirdly, I’m a lawyer and I’ve seen and done a number of trials, and the notion that ‘there is no doubt’ about any contested fact just because the judge or jury thought it was so is not one I accept.

You’re right of course that if you go to the US you play by US rules when you get tried. Shafted – maybe not. It opened many British eyes to the fact that US rules are markedly less accused-friendly than a trial here, that’s for sure.

UK tabloids – perhaps. I seem to recall some articles in the National Enquirer about the JoBeth Benet case (is that her name? The murdered child beauty queen) which purported to be serious comment and weren’t much to be proud of. And of course one never knows what the credulous are making of things. But on the whole I agree.

I disagree that a trial is fair where jurors know they or others may be able to sell their stories afterwards, for the two reasons I gave.

So how does jury selection work then? I know it’s a huge thing over there – each side gets so many challenges, I know. But would you be automatically disqualified if you admitted you’d seen news coverage of the case? Surely not. Seems bizarre to me if so – how on earth did you get a jury for OJ Simpson?

Witnesses selling stories beforehand – well of course the Louise Woodward mother did, big time. The jury seems still to have believed her. But even if they’re allowed to sell afterwards, then it has an effect. You’re only going to be allowed to print the story if there’s a conviction, so an acquittal is going to ruin the market with all the implications of that. I doubt it helps the accused on appeal either – assuming your appeal system is like ours it’s not a straight retrial; you need to show some error of law or procedure in the first trial (or new evidence which couldn’t have been brought forward the first time), so witness credibility isn’t a factor. If the First Amendment really protects witnesses and jurors selling their stories, by the way, how come the parents in the Woodward case were able to obtain an (otiose, by the look of it) order preventing Louise W from doing so? Or doesn’t the FA apply to non-citizens?

that was an interesting question posed by someone above.

why did not the son and daughter and the wife confront Severine. Why did they not talk to each other before calling the police.

I think it shows the dysfunctionality of the entire American way of life.

A question of a fair trial.

there are no fair trials in American anymore. Everything is toward conviction of everyone. After all the only good person is me. everyone else is a sinner. that is the American way of life.

the American great and glorious leader "Lock 'em up Bush" is the idol of all do gooders of society.

To be honest, I know the difference between 2nd degree murder and manslaughter, and to me shaking a baby to death should be considered murder in every case. Maybe you prefer the term "convicted killer" which fits in either case?

Even by your own reference, she was a conviced murder. The fact that a jerk-off judge reduced it the next day was just a travesty of justice. No sentence in her case was ever overturned. Reduced and overturned are 2 very different things.

I tend to believe you are defending her as a fellow Brit, the way some people here are naturally defending a fellow chessplayer. She is still a convicted killer to this day.


Before the Irish cases were mentioned you came up with this somewhat flawed gem:

"UK lawyers have always believed that it is better that a thousand guilty men go free than that a single innocent man be convicted."

You also use 'UK somewhat too loosely, the legal systems of Scotland and England are quite different. A search for 'English justice' comes up with quotes like this from the Guardian:

"English justice at its worst - profligate, out of control, insanely expensive, outrageously lengthy, and suffused with the kind of courtroom behaviour that we used to boast was absent from our system."

While on your superior English system, try to justify the 'split bar' to the American readers of this blog. A solicitor (a type of lawyer) talks to a client (accused, for example), the solicitor then explains things to a barrister (a type of lawyer) who transmits a garbled version of the information to a judge and jury. The solicitor cannot address the court, and the client cannot talk to the barrister.

How many injustices have resulted from this fee-padding exercise in legal self-interest?

AA; it’s obvious you haven’t read the judgments or anything else about the Woodward case. The baby was not ‘shaken to death’: he died from a single skull fracture. The question was whether that was, or could have been, old as opposed to recent.

I’m not defending Woodward particularly; I’m not fool enough to think I know what truly happened, unlike many commentators on both sides. What I am saying – it shouldn’t really be a terribly controversial point – is that many procedural features of the trial were shocking to UK observers, and that we are already seeing some of those repeated in the Wamala case.

When you say ‘a jerk-off judge reduced it the next day’, of course – you do know that the prosecution appealed and that their appeal was rejected by a unanimous 7-0 verdict? So that makes eight jerk-off judges to none. You will also recall that two jurors came out after the trial and said that they had been relieved when the judge reduced the conviction to manslaughter (a verdict which for procedural reasons had not been available to them), and that initially six out of the twelve jurors had voted for acquittal altogether. So the people who actually heard the evidence don’t seem to have shared your view.

I don’t know quite what it is about this case that makes so many people (on both sides – you’re no worse than the ‘Louise Woodward is innocent’ clowns) spout utter bilge about it without bothering to find out any of the facts.

Fff, I didn’t actually come up with that gem myself, it was a jurist called Blackstone in (I think) the eighteenth century, although in fairness I think he said ten (or possibly a hundred) rather than a thousand. And you are right of course about UK/England/Scotland, although not significantly so: the procedural features which distinguish the UK criminal justice system from the US are common to English and Scottish courts.

I don’t understand your point though. Miscarriages of justice are inevitable in any system – I could name you a good dozen more besides the cases you listed – but they don’t necessarily affect the philosophical basis of the system. My ‘flawed gem’ represents the ideal the UK system strives for: I don’t think the same could be said of the US system, which instead is underpinned by your maniac belief in the Constitution and the right to unrestricted free speech, openness and so on.

I recognise your Guardian quote. It referred to a civil case, not a criminal. The Guardian is a paper which specialises in bashing every aspect of Britain and in particular the legal system (all papers in Britain hate the legal system because it restrains them from printing the libels they would like to, but the Guardian also hates it just because it is associated with the establishment, which they dislike). I doubt whether they are right in thinking that the case in question was particularly long or expensive – any idea how long the Enron litigation has so far taken in the US, for example, or what the fees on both sides were? And they’re certainly not right in thinking the behaviour by counsel was particularly special either.

As to the ‘split bar’ (we would say ‘split profession’; the bar is one-half of the split), you are labouring under some misapprehensions: solicitors can and do obtain rights of audience, and clients speak freely to their barristers. If you know so little about the system it would probably be better not to refer to it in the derogatory terms you do.

The most obvious justification for the system is that advocacy is a specialist skill which it makes sense to buy in. It is to some extent a matter of form rather than substance; US firms too have advocacy specialists and people who do the preparatory work, which coincides roughly with the division of labour here. As to ‘fee-padding’, I would be interested if you have any evidence to show that defending a criminal case here is more expensive than in other countries – say the US. Do you?

For the last time, I did not say the UK system is superior. My point was precisely that it’s good for all of us to recognise that what we think is normal others think shocking. In particular, those who are raking over the coals of Mr Wamala’s court history in the early 1990’s should recognise that in most countries they would be regarded not as discussing a factor relevant to his guilt or innocence of the present charges, but as already having taken an impermissible step towards deciding that.

Actually, rereading that first paragraph, I’ve put it badly. I should have said it wasn’t a pure shaken baby case; the prosecution did of course allege that there was shaking, but the unusual feature as compared to the several shaken baby cases since was that there was a significant skull fracture as well.

I note incidentally (back on the topic of this blog) that the great Sam Sloan thought fit to comment in extenso on the Woodward case in his website. Evidently his own nanny kidnapped his baby ‘and has gotten away with it thus far’, although from what I recall of the story this is a slightly contentious description of events.

Rdh, Your facts are wrong. First, it was the defense that contended it was one blow. Experts testified that the baby was shaken, and apparently, that was accepted as the truth by the jury since they convicted her. My ex-wife accidentally dropped our 4-month old daughter from chest height to a hard linoleum floor and while she had a concussion and skull fracture too, but she never came close to dying. You think “popping” a kid on a bed will kill one? That is naïve. That baby was shaken to death, and it seems that the jury accepted that testimony, or she would have been found not guilty. Brits don’t like to hear the testimony against her? Second, the prosecutors did appeal, and lost 4-3, but that is not unusual for an appeals court to not overrule a judge’s prerogative, so that really means nothing. There has to be a legal error for them to overrule, and being a moron judge unfortunately doesn’t make it an error. It doesn’t make him any less of a jerk-off. He had the right (4-3), but I contend he should never have exercised it. Louise Woodward lost her appeal to have the decision thrown out 7-0, which is where you got that number. Go read your Wikipedia source again, since that is where I took this information from.

So as far as spouting facts, you need to get them right more than I do it seems. She is still a convicted killer.

P.S. Since Sam Sloan seems like a wacko, that you call him “great” calls into question your sanity. Choose your idols with more care.

Fff, I am afraid that like Wikipedia you are making a common mistake about the case. The prosecution appealed against both the reduction of the conviction and against the 279-day sentence. The former appeal was rejected 7-0, as was the defence’s appeal against conviction. It was the latter, the appeal against the sentence, that was rejected 4-3. Here is a link to the state Supreme Court judgment.


Wikipedia is wrong about this, as you can see from the judgment. You can also see that the appeal court could have overruled the judge if they had considered that he didn’t have the right to overrule, or if they had considered he had abused his discretion, so it wasn’t just an argument about whether he had the right.

I don’t understand your distinction about shaking. Everyone accepted that there was a fractured skull and that this was a significant cause of death. The prosecution alleged that there was evidence of shaking as well: they said that there must have been both prolonged shaking and slamming against a hard object.

Of course I don’t think popping a child on a bed will kill it. What’s your point?

As to thinking the judge was a moron and the jury wonderful, I’ve already pointed out that two jury members came out afterwards: one said they were relieved at the judge’s decision and the other thought that the jury would have reached the same conclusion if it had been open to them. They were the only two to comment publicly as far as I’m aware. These were people who had heard the evidence, unlike you and me, but if you are sure they were wrong, then I won’t try to convince you.

You might be interested to look up the case of Manjit Basuti, which was decided at about the same time. MB being black (or black-ish), naturally the case didn’t receive such press attention, neither there nor here. MB was another Brit convicted in the US of murdering a child in her custody, this time on the eye-witness evidence of an illegal immigrant employee of MB’s who testified she had seen MB bashing the child’s head deliberately on the floor. (MB said the child had fallen off a climbing frame.) After a long campaign it eventually emerged that this immigrant had originally given a rather different statement, and that her recollection had changed around the time that the state had granted her immunity from deportation in return for her testimony. MB cut a deal with the prosecution shortly before her appeal was heard in which she too was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, sentenced to eight years (coincidentally also about the time she had spent in prison) and released and deported forthwith. So there you go, you can have two convicted British killers to foam at the mouth about for the price of one.

As for the great Sam, they do say Americans don’t understand irony. Now I see what they mean.

OK, you pointed out something I didn't realize: There were technically 3 appeals. So it was 7-0 against overruling a judge's discretion (no surprise at all); 7-0 to not overturn her conviction (no surprise at all here either); and 4-3 to not re-sentence (could have gone either way).

I never said the judge technically abused his discretion, but he let a killer walk. I have a big problem with any judge who does that and it is dead wrong. Unfortunately, the SJC had no choice but to rule the way they did since they are bound by the law. It is very akin to the instant replay in the NFL: You need conclusive evidence or the ruling on the field stands.

My point about popping the baby on the bed is that the baby didn't all of a sudden come down with fatal injuries from just tossing him on the bed. The baby was in her care, and all of a sudden he had fatal injuries.

Juries don't decide charges or sentences, so I really don't care what they said after...they convicted her all the same. That judge let a killer go, and yet, you continue to defend her treatment. She belongs in jail for 25 to life as per the law for her original conviction. You can not possibly tell me that 279 days in jail for killing a baby was just?

I'll bet the house that the Derderian brothers are: fill in the blanks.

Hetman: Not going to get the deal they thought they had worked out? :)

When I heard the story about Severine, I laughed my balls off.


Doktor Wamala gab sein Recht zu einer wahrscheinlichen Ursache hörend, dieser prophezeit gut nicht für den guten Doktor, ich haben, Severine Wamala für viele Jahre zu kennen, die wir normalerweise Rotwildjagd in Maine jeder November gehen, letztes Jahr auf er einen Dollar mit 10 Punkten einsackte, wir 5 bungy Schnüre benötigten, ihn auf dem Dach von minivan seinem zu sichern.

I'm late on this and this might not be read. I had to remark. Mr. Wamala is deceptive - he exaggerates through falsehoods and feels best when diminishing others. Of particular use is to note how he interacts with women - he can't seem to summon "eye to eye" with them, seeing women as lesser than he. He also fancies himself a "former professor" at UMass. Truth: he was a teaching assistant while in grad school, like most of us. He is inauthentic and behaves in a creepy way with women. I too look forward to the justice system finding a decision. But I want to contriute that I can VERY EASILY see these accusations to be true, in accordance with the character I've unfortunately seen show through here and there. God bless his poor kids, who deserve better.

All speculative comments based on hindsight.

How come you didn't warn someone ahead of time since you saw all these signs?

"He is inauthentic and behaves in a creepy way with women."

"He can't summon eye-to-eye with them..."

You would have done better keeping these comments to yourself.

Hey Daaim, I DID warn people to stay away fro this guy. Women especially. FYI he was found guilty. See ya in 40 years Severin!

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on September 14, 2006 12:39 AM.

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