Dr Robert Shomer’s death is a clarion call for law enforcement reform


 

Dr. Robert Shomer was struck and killed by a motorist while crossing a street January 3, 2017

First and foremost, a Kaddish for my friend, colleague, and fellow Jew, Dr. Robert Shomer.  As a Jew Bob always understood and carried out our peoples’ obligation to heal the world, to do Tikkun Olam:

Exalted and hallowed be God’s great name
in the world which God created, according to plan.
May God’s majesty be revealed in the days of our lifetime
and the life of all Israel — speedily, imminently, to which we say Amen.

Blessed be God’s great name to all eternity.

Blessed, praised, honored, exalted, extolled, glorified, adored, and lauded be the name of the Holy Blessed One, beyond all earthly words and songs of blessing, praise, and comfort. To which we say Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us and all Israel, to which we say Amen.

May the One who creates harmony on high, bring peace to us and to all Israel.

To which we say Amen.

Bob and I had many conversations over the years about our moral obligations to do what we do for a living when it came to keeping innocent people from going to prison and insuring that everybody received a fair trial.  I came across an old email exchange about Passover and our commitment to bringing back the Anusim, descendants of forcibly converted Jews, victims of the Spanish Inquisition, into “The Tribe:”

My message:

Depending on the response to this email, I will be conducting (and cooking for) my second annual Passover Seder and Festival of the Anusim on either 4/23 or 4/24. If you are interested in attending, let me know which day is better for you.

For those of you who didn’t attend my first one last year, this is what it’s all about:

My Hebrew name is Boruch Yaadov Moshe Ber Ben Osher Shmuel, which means “The Blessed hand of Moses, Son of Happy Samuel.” The reference to the Bless hand of Moses is out of the book of Exodus, wherein Moses came upon an Egyptian overseer beating a Hebrew slave and with his blessed hand, he smites him in one blow. In other words, I am named for the act of killing an oppressor and liberating a slave.

Also, being the second gringo (and both I and #1were Jewish) to get a degree in Chicano Studies in this state, with a name (and mission like that), I am therefore uniquely qualified to act as “Tlamatini of the Jews.”

As such, I have created a special Festival of the Anusim (the forcibly converted Jews of Spain and Portugal) by which their ancestors can ritually return to our tribe. The theme of the special seder is that the Exodus from Egypt was only one of many and recounts the story of the expulsion of my people from Iberia beginning in 1492.

I am inviting both my Jewish friends and, because the tradition of Passover is to have an open door to all, I am inviting my friends that I think may be interested in the whole event or who simply may want to try my legendary cooking.

There are various signs by which you can get an inkling of whether your Iberian ancestors may have been Jewish. Some of them are:

1. Hispanic names ending with “Z”

2. Your family covered mirrors when somebody died or turned the mirrors towards the wall.

3. Somebody in your family swept the floor with the sweepings to the center of the room instead of to the door; or, they insisted on keeping a broom near the front door.

4. Maintaining a tradition of getting the dead buried very quickly.

5. A family tradition of making or using flour tortillas rather than or along with corn tortillas (flour tortillas were the Sephardic [Iberian Jewish] equivalent of Matzoh, unleavened bread used for Passover).

6. Family members who abhorred pork or other non-kosher foods.

7. Family members who felt an affinity for Jewish food, Jewish people, and other Jewish cultural traditions.

8. Family members who lit candles in Church on Friday or Saturday instead of Sunday.

9. Referring to God as “Dio” instead of “Dios.”

10. Family members who expressed skepticism of Catholic hierarchy and theology while maintaining ostensible Catholic identity.

11. Criticising people for standing while eating or eating in a hurry (relative to the Passover tradition of eating while reclining to avoid the practice of slaves of having to eat hurriedly).

12. Family members who were overly cryptic about family history and genaeology for no apparent reason.

13. Family members with certain Jewish dominated occupations from Iberia, such as people in the jewelry trades.

Anyway, please let me know your desire to attend and what date is best for you.

Shalom, Jan B. Tucker-PI 10143

Bob’s response:

Dear Jan
Thank you very much for the fascinating invite.
As the elders in our family, except for my 96 year old mother-in-law who helped cook up until last year, the happy responsibility of making a Seder on both nights falls to us, so we are not able to join you.
But thank you for your kind offer.
The Festival of Anusim is a great idea and DNA testing is being used, as I am sure you know, to trace Jewish lineage of Hispanics with often surprising results.
RWS

Bob was an internationally recognized expert on eyewitness identification.  For just a few examples of his work:

http://janbtucker.com/blog/2011/01/04/another-dna-exoneration/

For a televised video interview:

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/48-hours-takeaway-presumed-guilty/

https://eyeid.wordpress.com/category/expert-testimony/

In People v McDonald, based on Bob’s testimony, the California Supreme Court made eyewitness expert witness testimony admissible in California:

https://casetext.com/case/people-v-mcdonald-2

Bob’s resume’ was very impressive:

 I am a psychologist licensed in the State of California and the President of Hawthorne Community Medical Group. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with Honors from the University of California at Los Angeles and went on to receive my Doctorate in Psychology from UCLA in 1966.

Prior to receiving my Doctorate, I had been awarded a U.S. Public Health Fellowship, and upon receiving my Doctorate, I was offered several faculty appointments, including positions at Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Texas. I accepted a position at Harvard University and was appointed to the faculty with concurrent appointments in the Departments of Psychology, Social Relations, and General Education. Prior to receiving my Doctorate, and since, I have had several original experimental studies accepted for publication in the psychological journals.

I served on the faculty at Harvard University for five years, during which time I received additional grants and awards from, among others, the National Science Foundation, The National Institutes of Mental Health, The Department of Defense, the Advanced Research Projects Administration, and Harvard University.

In 1971, I was appointed to the faculty of the Claremont Colleges. While at the Colleges, I received additional grants and awards for research projects from various governmental funding sources as well as from the Claremont Colleges.

At Harvard, the Claremont Colleges, and UCLA, I originated and taught courses in many areas of psychology including those dealing with observation, perception, memory, recall, the effects of stress, and other factors such as cross-racial issues which are relevant to the accuracy of eyewitness identification.

For five years, I served as a screening psychologist for a police department, and since 1974 I have consulted with attorneys, and testified as an expert witness in eyewitness identification in over 250 Superior and Federal court criminal trials in numerous states. I have addressed Bar Associations throughout the West Coast including the California State Bar Association, and the California Trial Lawyers Association; and have worked with attorneys on several post conviction appeals.

In the case of People v. MacDonald (1984) 37 Cal.3d 351, 208 Cal.Rptr. 236, 690 P.2d 709, 46 A.L.R.4th 1011, the California Supreme Court unanimously held that it was error for the trial court to have excluded Dr. Shomer’s testimony because “when eyewitness identification of the defendant is a key element of the prosecution’s case but is not substantially corroborated by evidence giving it independent reliability, and the defendant offers qualified expert testimony on specific psychological factors shown by the record that could have affected the accuracy of the identification but are not likely to be fully known to or understood by the jury, it will ordinarily be error to exclude that testimony.”

In 2013, then Los Angeles Mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti, Kevin James, Wendy Greuel, and Jan Perry–the top four–were hosted in Dr. Shomer’s home for interview by the Same Page/Misma Pagina Coalition endorsement committee.  Bob gave each of them a demonstration of why the existing LAPD policies for conducting eyewitness identification procedures were unscientific, incompetent, and racist in their effects regardless of intent.  Eric Garcetti, who won the election, promised to look into the issue and to get back to Dr, Shomer about it.  Since neither of us heard anything in the last four years from him and with Garcetti now up for re-election, just days ago I sent Garcetti and City Attorney Mike Feuer the following California Public Records Act request seeking copies of:

Any communications between the Office of the Mayor and/or the Office of the City Attorney and the Los Angeles Police Dept. concerning eyewitness identification procedures including but not limited any writings concerning Eyewitness Evidence: A Guide for Law Enforcement authored by the Technical Working Group for Eyewitness Evidence and Published by the National Institute of Justice, October 1999 and/or the Majority Report on Eyewitness Identification Procedures of the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice.

Unfortunately Bob did not live to see whether or not the Mayor will follow through on his commitment.  Black, Brown and Asian lives matter and people should not go to prison when up to date scientific procedures that Bob advocated could prevent false prosecutions and convictions.

A particularly poignant comment on this blog from a fellow Expert Witness/Private Investigator:

So sorry and pissed that we, the defense, lost his brilliance in our battle against the filthy lying ‘redcoat’ govt. scum.
 
Worked with Dr. Shomer on many cases, sat in and learned from him watching his brilliant testimony. He helped me and I’m forever grateful to him.

One important aspect of our work together was to attack the racial disparities in false convictions resulting from cross-racial eyewitness identifications.  To this end we taught a Seminar on Eyewitness Identification Procedures and Police Misconduct at the 2005 California State Conference, NAACP.  We also taught joint seminars on the subject for the California Association of Licensed Investigators, and co-authored an article for CALI’s journal:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Jan Tucker

The Detectives Diary is an innovative tool combining Private Investigation and Journalism. In 1984, Steve Harvey's Los Angeles Times "Around the Southland" Column entitled Jan Tucker's program of providing low-cost "Opposition Research" services to indigent and working class candidates for public office, "Take Cover: Hired Mudslinger Rides into Town." A 1996 Los Angeles Times article by Henry Chu carried a sub-headline identifying Tucker as a "P.R. Guru." In November 2012, Tucker became Criminal Justice Columnist for Counter Punch Magazine and a commentator for Black Talk Radio. As a private investigator since 1979 and a former First Vice President of Newspaper Guild Local 69, Tucker takes these skills to a new level in the pages of the Detectives Diary with insightful and unique exposures and analysis of history and current events. State Director--California League of Latinos And Chicanos, Former seven term Chairman of the Board of the California Association of Licensed Investigators, Co-President San Fernando Valley/Northeast Los Angeles Chapter-National Organization for Women, former National Commissioner for Civil Rights-League of United Latin American Citizens, former Second Vice President-Inglewood-South Bay Branch-National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, former founding Vice President-Armenian American Action Committee, former First Vice President, Newspaper Guild Local 69 (AFL-CIO, CLC, CWA), Board member, Alameda Corridor Jobs Coalition, Community Advisory Board member--USC-Keck School of Medicine Alzheimer's Disease Research Project
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