Prosecutors and Police Must be Held Accountable

The circumstances in the story below mimic the situation for Sean Ellis. As long as prosecutors and police are able to lie and deceive the court with impunity, there will be assaults on the justice system of our country.

Sign the petitions and let belated justice be activated. While Derrick Hamilton has finally won his freedom, many more languish in prisons and punitive, supervision due to overzealous prosecution and racist jurisdictions.

Wrongfully Imprisoned Man Cleared of Murder Conviction

Andrew Keshner, New York Law Journal    | 0 Comments

Derrick Hamilton speaks to the media after his conviction was vacated. Wife Nicole is at left.

Derrick Hamilton speaks to the media after his conviction was vacated. Wife Nicole is at left.

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Derrick Hamilton leaves Brooklyn Criminal Court  after his conviction was vacated Friday, holding daughter Maia, 2. At left are two of his attorneys, Scott Brettschneider and Jonathan Edelstein. Wife Nicole is third from left.

Derrick Hamilton leaves Brooklyn Criminal Court after his conviction was vacated Friday, holding daughter Maia, 2. At left are two of his attorneys, Scott Brettschneider and Jonathan Edelstein. Wife Nicole is third from left.

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Judge Guzman

Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Raymond Guzman

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Derrick Hamilton speaks to the media after his conviction was vacated. Wife Nicole is at left.

Derrick Hamilton speaks to the media after his conviction was vacated. Wife Nicole is at left.

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Derrick Hamilton leaves Brooklyn Criminal Court  after his conviction was vacated Friday, holding daughter Maia, 2. At left are two of his attorneys, Scott Brettschneider and Jonathan Edelstein. Wife Nicole is third from left.

Derrick Hamilton leaves Brooklyn Criminal Court after his conviction was vacated Friday, holding daughter Maia, 2. At left are two of his attorneys, Scott Brettschneider and Jonathan Edelstein. Wife Nicole is third from left.

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A Brooklyn man who said he was framed by a detective, which led to a wrongful murder conviction and more than 20 years of incarceration, has been cleared of the crime after prosecutors deemed the case’s sole witness unreliable.

Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Mark Hale told Supreme Court Justice Raymond Guzman (See Profile) the prosecution could no longer stand by Derrick Hamilton’s conviction for the 1991 shooting.

The lone eyewitness, Jewel Smith, was “as a whole unreliable, incredible, and for the most part untruthful,” said Hale, adding that using her as a witness violated Hamilton’s due process rights.

Hamilton, 49, was paroled from state prison in 2011. Lonnie Soury, a spokesman for Hamilton, said Hamilton would be filing a civil suit against the city.

The vacatur is the latest in a growing list of convictions that District Attorney Kenneth Thompson has deemed unjust. Since Thompson became the borough’s top prosecutor last year, his office has undone 10 convictions and dropped the appeal of a habeas grant to an 11th man.

Embattled detective Louis Scarcella, now retired, worked on four of those cases, including Hamilton’s.

Hamilton said Scarcella coerced the testimony against him but Scarcella denies wrongdoing.

Thompson’s office has never faulted Scarcella during court proceedings to vacate unsound cases and Hale did not mention him Friday.

The office has reviewed about 30 cases. Spokeswoman Lupe Todd said some cases the office chose to stand behind were linked to Scarcella but she did not have the exact figure.

The Conviction Review Unit still has about 100 more cases to review, 70 of which are linked to Scarcella. It is one of the nation’s most ambitious efforts to determine whether old cases were handled properly.

In a statement, Thompson said, “The people of Brooklyn elected me to ensure that justice is done and that is what my decision to vacate Derrick Hamilton’s conviction reflects.” He said his office reviewed the crime scene, as well as medical and scientific evidence before concluding the witness account was unreliable.

Hamilton pressed a number of post-conviction challenges. When the Appellate Division, Second Department, ruled on his latest bid last year, the court recognized a freestanding claim of actual innocence by which defendants could challenge their convictions (NYLJ, Jan. 16, 2014).

Though various trial-level courts had recognized the claim, the Second Department was the first appellate court in the state to do so.

In Hamilton’s case, Justice Sylvia Hinds-Radix (See Profile) overruled a summary denial of Hamilton’s latest Criminal Procedure Law §440 motion and ordered a hearing.

No hearing occurred because the office’s Conviction Review Unit took the case instead.

On Friday, Guzman granted Hamilton’s motion, joined by the prosecution, to set aside the conviction pursuant to Criminal Procedure Law §440.10(1)(h). The provision permits a vacatur if the “judgment was obtained in violation of a right of the defendant under the constitution of this state or of the United States.”

“That a wrong has been corrected is a tribute to the justice system,” Guzman said from the bench, crediting the defense and prosecution for their work on the matter.

The underlying case arose from the fatal shooting of Nathaniel Cash in Bedford Stuyvesant. At the scene of the shooting, Jewel Smith, who was Cash’s girlfriend, had told a detective that she had not seen the shooter. Hamilton said Scarcella pressured her into changing her story.

Though Hamilton attempted at the time to advance an alibi defense, he said he could not do so because one witness was too ill and another too scared to testify.

Smith, the key prosecution witness, testified Hamilton was the shooter.

After Hamilton’s 1993 conviction, but before sentencing, he moved to throw out the verdict; at the motion hearing, Smith said she had testified falsely based on threats from Scarcella.

Scarcella rejected the claim and the bid was denied.

Hamilton was then given a 25-year to life sentence. In post-conviction litigation, Hamilton, among other things, presented new alibi witnesses.

‘There’s Karma in This Case’

During the Conviction Review Unit’s work, prosecutors heard from alibi witnesses and reviewed medical and ballistics reports to poke holes in Smith’s testimony.

While Smith testified Hamilton shot Cash in the chest, records show he was shot in the back. Likewise, ballistics reports showed two guns were used.

During the proceedings Friday, one of Hamilton’s attorneys, Scott Brettschneider of Kew Gardens said Hamilton “never for one second doubted his own abilities to convince a court of law he was innocent.”

He said Hamilton’s interviews with The New York Times spurred the paper’s review of Scarcella’s cases and brought new attention to them.

“In some way, there’s karma in this case,” said Brettschneider, who was Hamilton’s original appellate attorney.

One of Brettschneider’s co-counsel, Jonathan Edelstein of Edelstein & Grossman, also discussed the case and faulted Scarcella.

But at one point Guzman cut him short.

“Detective Scarcella is not on trial here,” the said, later adding he did not “want to go into aspersions at this time.”

“One day in prison is too much for an innocent man,” Hamilton told reporters outside court. “It’s exhilarating. It’s a grateful day. It’s the world to me.”

Hamilton, wearing a hat displaying the words “Wrongfully Convicted” and holding his two-year-old daughter, said he thought Scarcella should be in jail.

After the proceedings, Scarcella’s attorneys, Joel S. Cohen and Alan Abramson of Abramson & Morak released a statement commending Thompson’s conviction review effort and defending their client. They said it was “noteworthy” that when prosecutors consented to the vacatur, they did “solely” on due process grounds and “explicitly declined to consent on the grounds that Mr. Hamilton was actually innocent.”

Cohen and Abramson said Thompson was clear he found “no evidence” Scarcella “did anything inappropriate while assisting the assigned detective in this case.” They said no judge has issued any finding and no prosecutor has made any statement “to sustain the sensational claims that have appeared in the press that Detective Scarcella contributed to any person’s wrongful conviction.”

During Friday’s proceedings, Robert Grossman of Edelstein & Grossman and Ilya Novofastovsky of Novo Law Firm also appeared for Hamilton.

Assistant District Attorney Tamara Edelstein also appeared for the prosecution.

@|Andrew Keshner can be reached via email or on Twitter @AndrewKeshner. The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Read more: http://www.newyorklawjournal.com/id=1202714635750/Wrongfully-Imprisoned-Man-Cleared-of-Murder-Conviction#ixzz3OWJEOL5I

Economic Disparity leads to Disenfranchment

1-23-14 Poverty_Inequality Release   < (Click  to see the recently released figures).

 

We as a country are following a dangerous path. By disenfranchising  millions of our citizens, our democracy is in jeopardy. The economic disparity between the 2% of wealthy and the remainder of the country is higher now than it was during the Great Depression. I urge you to consider your financial situation, I’m certain that you are no better off than you were 20 years ago. Employers are paying less and the costs of living continue to rise.

It is time to begin the road to recovery. It will be a challenge with the new Republican Congress, but if we let them know that we are frustrated with the status quo. If they want to be reelected, they better fix it now. We as a nation will benefit, even the rich. We can’t spend money we don’t have.

“Our resources are misspent, our punishments too severe, our sentences too long.” Justice Kennedy

While we continue to support Sean Ellis, a victim of police corruption and prosecutorial misconduct. His mis-imprisonment represents a much larger endemic societal problems. In a recent study from Harvard “The Impact of Jury Race in Criminal Trials” The Quarterly Journal of Economics (2012) 127 (2): 1017-1055. doi: 10.1093/qje/qjs014. The study relied on, upon the impact of jury racial composition on trial outcomes using a data set of felony trials in Florida between 2000 and 2010. Finding that by using a research design that exploits day-to-day variation in the composition of the jury pool to isolate quasi-random variation in the composition of the seated jury, finding evidence that (i) juries formed from all-white jury pools convict black defendants significantly (16 percentage points) more often than white defendants, and (ii) this gap in conviction rates is entirely eliminated when the jury pool includes at least one black member. The impact of jury race is much greater than what a simple correlation of the race of the seated jury and conviction rates would suggest. These findings imply that the application of justice is highly uneven and raise obvious concerns about the fairness of trials in jurisdictions with a small proportion of blacks in the jury pool.

Another immediate implication of the studies findings is that the application of criminal justice in these Florida counties is highly uneven, as a small change in the composition of the jury pool  has a large impact on the conviction rates of black versus white defendants. Simply put, after reviewing the sum of jury statistics, analyzing factors of age race and gender the placing of one black juror in a sitting jury, significantly improves the defense of a black criminal defendant.   

FIGURE II

CENSORSHIP IN AMERICA

Our First Amendment rights are under attack, especially in our schools. This Censorship is a product of racial bias and ignorance. Approved and censored book lists are determined by Laypersons, who admittedly have not even read the texts and books being censored. A perfect example
concerns a body or work presented by the Chronical of Higher Education which highlighted dissertations of five young Ph.D. Candidates in African American Studies, which were banned due to an
article by Schaefer Riley, without bothering to read the essays beyond the titles.

In another incident, the firing of a teacher for asking to organize her class for a fundraiser for Trayvon Martin’s family in Pontiac Michigan. The Sixth Circuit Federal Appellate Court surmised
that the when, a teacher of an upper-level Language Arts class referenced the American Library Association’s “100 most frequently challenged books” and asked her class to create an essay about
censorship. See, EVANS MARSHALL v. BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE TIPP CITY EXEMPTED VILLAGE SCHOOL DISTRICT – See more at:
http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-6th-Circuit/1487889.html#sthash.YnYSkHQb.dpuf
With a minimal of research I found an astounding amount of books, some classics that were banned throughout the country based solely on ignorance of knowledge of those books or texts. Most of
these addressed racial bias and other cultural issues. These censors fail to comprehend that knowledge is what addresses the student to overcome prejudice. Censorship demeans the students and society as a whole. These lists should only include material that is inappropriate due to sexual material. School Boards should not have the power to limit students’education. For more information contact the NCAC

Free Sean Ellis!

New & Fair Trial for Sean K. Ellis

  First full disclosure; I know Sean Ellis, he is a studious man with deep convictions for truth and justice. His honesty and integrity are above reproach. After viewing his record, I am convinced of his innocence. He is a victim of police corruption, lies and deceit I would be grateful if you read the article below and yesterday’s post and when you too are convinced sign the petition, and help as you are able. I shutter to think of the contributions to society Sean may have made if not for dirty cops.

In 1995, Sean K. Ellis was convicted of the 1993 murder of Boston Police Det. John Mulligan at his third trial. However, after two previous hung juries. Sean has maintained his innocence since his arrest.

A retrial for Sean is NOW being considered in Suffolk Superior Court, Boston, MA. Each grounds for his new trial request has been submitted by Rosemary Scapicchio, his defense attorney.
*Exculpatory evidence of 3rd party suspects was withheld by prosecutors and police.
*Two investigators of the murder – Dets. Kenneth Acerra & Walter Robinson – had a conflict of interest as co-venturers with the victim in an ongoing scheme of drug-dealer robberies.
*These two corrupt cops (felons & perjurers) brought forward the SOLE WITNESS to identify Sean – a niece of Acerra’s girlfriend who ID’d Sean from photos – but FIRST SELECTED SOMEONE ELSE, and only chose Sean after a private chat with Dets. Acerra & Robinson.
We, the undersigned, being age 18 & over, urge the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office to:
1. Stop opposing Sean K. Ellis’s Motion for a New Trial.
2. Acknowledge that Sean did not get a fair trial.
3. Join the defense in requesting a new trial.
Other Reasons Sean’s Case Mandates a Retrial:
⊙ The City of Boston settled 7 lawsuits against Mulligan for citizens brutality and false arrest.
⊙ About 150 tips were maliciously ignored during this high profile investigation regarding the true murderer of Mulligan.
⊙ Sean’s defense uncovered FBI reports that confirm Mulligan was shaking down drug dealers and prostitutes, extorting merchants for bogus protection, and demanding sexual favors in return for dropped charges.
⊙ Person and or persons clearly had a contract/s out on Mulligan’s life.
⊙ The prosecuting attorneys and police department can not continue to state that Mulligan was randomly shot for his gun while on duty.
⊙ Mulligan participated in a Commonwealth Avenue drug dealer robbery with Dets. Acerra & Robinson 3 weeks prior to his murder.
⊙ Mulligan’s fellow conspirators Dets. Acerra & Robinson had several reasons to plot and cover up who Mulligan’s real killer was. This is also why Mulligan’s cell phone was initially missing from the crime scene for about 5 days. Det. Acerra is the Det who advised other Dets to research Mulligan’s truck for his phone. Coincidentally, it finally appeared but all prior telephone numbers, voicemails, and other information was wiped out of Mulligan’s cell phone.
⊙ Sean K. Ellis is innocent. He had no prior record before this incident. Sean was clearly at the wrong place and at the wrong time.
IMPORTANT LINKS:
Please visit: https://www.justiceforseanellis.com for more research regarding Sean’s case.
Please visit: https://www.dotnews.com for updates on Sean’s Retrial Motion Hearings. One report titled “Ellis Case Update: Hearing on evidence dispute to be continued which posted on September 4, 2014 after Sean’s hearing in August.
Please Visit: http://www.dotnews.com/2014/hearings-resume-ellis-bid-fourth-trial, November 17, 18, and 19 hearing updates

Massachusettes Rule of Criminal Procedure 30(b)

Sean Ellis

Nov. 26, 2014

Sean Ellis

The status of convicted killer Sean Ellis’s motion for a new trial, which is based on his contention that during his trial in 1995 prosecutors did not, as required, turn over to his defense counsel exculpatory information about third-party suspects, is approaching a watershed moment.

In their bid to allow the thrice-tried Ellis a fourth opportunity to rebut the prosecution in the case of the gangland-style murder of Boston Police Det. John Mulligan, Ellis and his attorney, Rosemary Scapicchio, are also asking Superior Court Judge Carol S. Ball to consider whether new evidence uncovered after his conviction would have caused the jurors who sent him to prison to return a different verdict.

Some of this evidence is contained in Boston Police Department documents that defense lawyers unsuccessfully tried to access on several occasions, beginning in 1994. Judge Ball ordered their release to Scapicchio last August.

Ellis was 19 at the time of the crime and has served 21 years of his sentence of life without parole while continuing to maintain his innocence.

Previous coverage: Dorchester man seeks new trial citing withheld evidence in BPD detective’s murder

In the latest chapter of the long-running case, Ball presided over three days of testimony early last week wherein Scapicchio and Suffolk County Chief of Homicide Edmund Zabin interrogated Ellis’s trial lawyers, Norman Zalkind and David Duncan; Sgt. Det. Daniel Keeler, who was a member of the Boston Police investigative team; and retired District Court Judge Phyllis Broker, who was the chief prosecutor during Ellis’s three trials, the first two of which resulted in hung juries.

The judge is expected to hear one more witness, on Dec. 10, before taking the case under advisement.

Scapicchio claims that prosecutors failed to turn over to the defense un-redacted police reports of telephone hotline tips, some half dozen of which named specific individuals with motive and intent to murder Mulligan, and also a tip conveyed by task force Detective George Foley that a fellow Boston officer, Ray Armstead, Sr., had plotted to kill Mulligan out of anger over advances the detective made to his 14-year-old daughter. Foley’s tip was given no credence by Sgt. Det. Keeler, who testified that he questioned Foley and, because of his “deteriorating condition,” recommended that he be stripped of his gun and badge and sent for a 30-day psychiatric evaluation.

Zalkind and Duncan each testified that they had received no information from prosecutors about third-party suspects. Having now reviewed the tips, they characterized them as “spectacular” and “sensational” and said they “absolutely” would have followed them up by filing for further discovery and sending out an investigator. “This [case] was a cause celebre,” Zalkind said, recalling the high tensions in the city around Mulligan’s murder. Of Foley’s information, he observed, “This would have been huge publicity: One cop killing another?”

The state continues to maintain that all tips in question were turned over to defense counsel. Judge Broker testified by video that, although she had no memory of delivering specific documents as the prosecutor, her handwritten circle around the Foley report number, in particular, indicated she’d done so, in accordance with her unwavering policy of “when in doubt, give it out.”

Yet, Zalkind testified, “They fought me tooth and nail” over discovery information, and in a sharp exchange, Scapicchio reminded Broker that she had opposed every defense motion for further discovery.

At issue was evidence from police investigations showing that Mulligan had a personal and business relationship with Police Detectives Kenneth Acerra and Walter Robinson, who in an unrelated case involving drugs, later pleaded guilty to some 40 federal counts of perjury and armed robbery. Among the material sought by the Ellis defense were departmental records on Acerra and Robinson and information regarding Mulligan’s purchase of four private cell phones shared by him, Acerra, and another detective, John Brazil.

Reading aloud Broker’s characterizations of the defense requests for information about these officers as containing “vague, speculative assertions” with “no materiality,” and a quest for “carte blanche production of documents,” Scapicchio asked Broker pointedly: “So this, then, was not part of your policy, ‘When in doubt give it out”? Broker replied she did not have the requested documents in her possession, and “I’m not doing that without a court order…I was of the opinion they weren’t entitled to it.”

Scapicchio says she believes that the admissions after Ellis’s 1995 trial by Mulligan murder investigators Acerra, Robinson, and Brazil to falsifying search warrants and committing a string of Boston drug dealer robberies over a several-year period would have influenced Ellis’s jury verdicts in earlier trials had they been linked to newly uncovered reports of Mulligan’s collusion with the men. She has offered into evidence federal grand jury testimony that three weeks before his murder, Mulligan assisted Acerra and Robinson in robbing two apartments leased by Boston drug dealer Robert Martin; and a report by a 1993 Boston Police Anti-Corruption Unit investigation into charges that Mulligan and Robinson robbed two drug dealers at gunpoint in Brighton in 1991.

A federal investigation resulted in Acerra and Robinson’s convictions in 1998; Brazil turned evidence on his colleagues and escaped charges.

Prosecutor Zabin sought to downplay Mulligan’s complicity with Acerra and Robinson, pointing out that the dead man’s name does not appear on any of Acerra, Robinson, or Brazil’s 1992 or 1993 search warrants, which suggests that the detective may well have believed the 1993 Martin bust resulted from a legitimate search warrant. Zabin also noted that the tip about the 1991 Brighton robbery was given anonymously by a person who declined to assist the investigation further.

Zalkind dismissed that reasoning, calling Mulligan a “rampant criminal” with a “big reputation…the most likely person in the world who’d be involved with Robinson in a crime.” He characterized the Martin robbery disclosure as “the most important of all the material I’ve read,” saying, “If I’d had this in my examination of Robinson in trial, I don’t think we’d be here today.”

Acerra and Robinson were both subpoenaed for the hearings, but did not appear, exercising through their attorneys their rights against self-incrimination.

Scapicchio argues that the criminal ties between Mulligan, Acerra, and Robinson created a conflict of interest for the detectives as investigators and cites two specific actions she alleges they crafted to deflect discovery of their drug robberies.

First, Acerra brought forward eyewitness Rosa Sanchez – the 19-year-old niece of his live-in girlfriend – who claimed she shopped at the Roslindale Walgreens just prior to Mulligan’s murder outside the store and saw Sean Ellis peering into the windows of the detective’s Ford Explorer, which was parked in the fire lane as he slept. Mulligan was shot dead in the vehicle within the hour.

Sanchez was the only witness to identify Ellis, yet she first selected another man’s photo from the police array. Outside the homicide office, she had a private conversation with Acerra and Robinson in Acerra’s car, and moments later she was ushered back into the building by the two detectives. Shown the unchanged array a second time, Sanchez pointed to Ellis’s photo immediately.

Ellis’s trial lawyers motioned to exclude the ID on the grounds Sanchez was coached to identify Ellis by the detective she called “Uncle Kenny.” Testifying under oath, Acerra disavowed a close relationship with Sanchez, saying he saw her only occasionally at family events and didn’t even know her married name. Yet Scapicchio has uncovered a federal subpoena to American Airlines requesting information about two trips Acerra took with Rosa Sanchez and her mother to the Dominican Republic, one of them in October 1994, two months before Acerra’s motion-hearing testimony.

Scapicchio also questioned Acerra’s discovery of Mulligan’s missing cell phone in his SUV several days after the murder – after crime scene technicians had not found it at the scene, and police had declared the phone missing. Several days later, Acerra initiated another search of the vehicle and found the phone in the vehicle’s center compartment between the front seats. The police report stated the phone was there all along, but “no one knew anyone was looking for it.”

Scapicchio alleges that Mulligan’s phone had been “wiped clean” of all phone numbers to remove incriminating evidence and questioned Broker about her asking that Acerra be questioned under oath about the phone when she was prosecuting the case. Broker said she had no memory of this, but did recall asking Boston Police to remove Acerra from the task force. She denied it was due to the cell phone incident and chalked it up to Acerra’s “incompetence.”

Noting that Acerra’s removal by the judge was bitterly opposed by Detective Union President Tommy Montgomery, who wrote to District Attorney Ralph Martin 2d insisting that Acerra be reinstated and that Broker be fired, Scapicchio asked the onetime prosecutor about the Montgomery letter. “I don’t know why the letter was sent,” Broker answered, although she admitted the tone of communications between her and Boston Police was “not good.” (The Boston Globe reported at the time that at a “hastily called meeting” between Broker and Police Commissioner William J. Bratton, an agreement was reached that Broker could stay on if she stopped questioning Acerra and Robinson.
“It was a very difficult time,” Broker said. “A police officer was
killed … my boss [DA Martin] was standing for election … there were strained relations between my office and the Boston Police Department … and all of those things together created the perfect storm.”

Florida, Listen – Up

We now have more than 1.5 million felons living in Florida. That’s 10 percent of the adult population who have to check the “convicted felon” box on an employment application, give up gun ownership and forgo other rights and benefits for life. Most of the convictions in Florida consist of 3rd. degree felonies. Many of these crimes are simple violations, possession of marijuana, minor gambling violations and such. These “crimes” should be shifted to civil violations or misdemeanors. For many that felony on their records means that Florida taxpayers will subsidize them for years if not their entire lives.
And for what, the violations were not violent. These violations often lead to probation, which is often violated by technical mistakes, like missing an appointment or inability to pay the officer for the month. Now, these otherwise productive citizens are incarcerated. While 95% of prisoners are released to the public, these people often arrive as damaged goods. And that felony on their records, means many jobs and careers are no longer available to them. In the words of Dan McCarthy, a former prosecutor and writer,  “It’s time for Florida to look at crime and punishment from a different angle. Incarcerate those who are dangerous and commit violent offenses. But let’s rethink prison sentences for the least severe third degree felonies in Florida law.”

Energy Drinks Part II

Energy drinks alter heart function, study shows

Last updated: 2 December 2013 at 8am PST 199 Like1.5k
Energy drinks have become a multi-billion dollar industry that continues to grow, yet regulation of this enterprise remains largely unchecked. Now, a new study shows that healthy adults who consume energy drinks have “significantly increased” heart contraction rates an hour later.

There have been many studies, most of them aimed at the mixing of alcohol with energy drinks and the effects on children. The sheer size of the market is an indicator of the  popularity of these drinks.The research was recently presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).The study authors, including Dr. Jonas Dörner from the University of Bonn, Germany, note that although the largest consumers of energy drinks have traditionally been teens and young adults, people from all demographics have begun to consume such drinks in recent years.”Until now, we haven’t known exactly what effect these energy drinks have on the function of the heart,” says Dr. Dörner.Meanwhile, a 2013 report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration revealed that from 2007 to 2011 in the US, energy drink-related emergency department visits doubled, climbing from 10,068 to 20,783.The researchers note that most of these cases occurred in patients between the ages of 18 and 25, but this was followed by patients aged 26 to 39.

Dr. Dörner talks about the contents of these drinks:”Usually energy drinks contain taurine and caffeine as their main pharmacological ingredients. The amount of caffeine is up to three times higher than in other caffeinated beverages like coffee or cola.”

He adds that side effects associated with consuming a large amount of caffeine include a rapid heart rate, palpitations, rise in blood pressure and even seizures or death.

Energy drinks prompted increased strain in left ventricleA batch of cans viewed from the top
Energy drinks were shown to increase peak strain and peak systolic strain rates in the heart’s left ventricle, according to the latest study.
For their recent study, which is currently ongoing, the researchers measured the effect of energy drinks on heart function using cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).Study participants consist of 15 healthy men and three healthy women, with an average age of 27.5 years.The team took cardiac MRIs of the participants both before and 1 hour after they consumed an energy drink, which contained 400 mg/100 ml taurine and 32 mg/100 ml caffeine.Results show that compared with the images taken before the participants consumed the energy drinks, the post-beverage MRIs showed that they had increased peak strain and peak systolic strain rates in the heart’s left ventricle.The researchers note that the left ventricle receives oxygenated blood from the lungs, which it then pumps to the aorta for distribution to the rest of the body.Though the team observed this significant change, they say they do not yet know whether it impacts daily activities or athletic performance.
”We need additional studies to understand this mechanism and to determine how long the effect of the energy drink lasts,” says Dr. Dörner. Contractility changes could trigger arrhythmias.

The team notes that they did not find any major differences in heart rate, blood pressure or the amount of blood pumped from the left ventricle after the participants consumed the energy drink.However, Dr. Dörner says their results show that consuming energy drinks does have a “short-term impact on cardiac contractility.”The researchers say further studies are needed to assess the long-term effects of energy drink consumption, as well as any effects these drinks have on people with heart disease.Despite the lack of knowledge about long-term risks, the team recommends that children and people with cardiac arrhythmias refrain from consuming energy drinks, as contractility changes could trigger arrhythmias.A popular drink on the nightclub scene mixes energy drinks with alcohol, and Dr. Dörner warns that additional studies are needed to analyze the risks posed by such combinations.Medical News Today recently reported that a compound in energy drinks raises heart risks via gut bacteria.    Written by Marie Ellis

Energy Drinks, Dangerous?

As a consumer of 3-4 energy drinks a day, I was a bit taken back by the language of the three Senators, asking the producers of these drinks and the 5 Hour Supplements concerning the safety of their products. The following was copied from A2R, a legal support company and its premise is towards Attorneys and those of us in the field:

Energy Drinks: Caffeine Litigation On The
Horizon?
By Giovanni Ciavarra, Innovative Science Solutions, LLC
Late last week, three lawmakers (Senator Durbin, Senator Blumenthal, and Congressman Markey) sent letters to
more than a dozen manufacturers of caffeinated energy drinks, as a follow up to letters sent by the lawmakers
to the FTC, and FDA. The letters pose a series of questions requesting information on a variety of issues
including:
• A request for the milligram quantity of caffeine (from all ingredient sources) in the entire package
• Data to support marketing claims: “What ingredients, aside from caffeine, impact advertising and
marketing claims made by your product(s)? … Please provide data and documentation to support your
answer.”
• Do you believe your product(s) is a conventional food product or dietary supplement? (Notably,
requirements for ingredients, reporting of adverse events, and labeling differ depending whether the
product is positioned as a beverage or as a supplement).
• Data to support safety in children/teens: “Has your company performed any studies to determine
whether your product(s) is safe for consumption by children and teens?”
Letters were issued to major marketers of these products including: Monster Beverage, Rockstar, Red Bull and
Living Essentials (distributor of 5-Hour Energy), PepsiCo (Amp), Coca-Cola (NOS), Dr. Pepper Snapple (Venom
Energy).
As reported in a previous ISS posting, the FDA has started examining the safety of energy drinks after reports of
deaths and injuries potentially associated with the products.
Further, these recent letters dovetail a federal report issued last week by the Drug Abuse Warning Network
(DAWN).
The report found that the number of emergency department visits involving energy drinks doubled from 10,068
in 2007 to 20,783 in 2011. Interestingly, when emergency department visits involving energy drink combinations
were examined by drug type, pharmaceuticals were commonly combined with energy drinks (27% of visits), with
9% of these involving central nervous stimulants like Ritalin. Energy drinks in combination with alcohol were
involved in 13% of energy drink-related ED visits, and illicit drugs were implicated in 10% of energy drink-related
ED visits.
In response, Monster Beverage Corp. raised concern with the study stating: the “report on so-called energy
drink-related emergency department visits is highly misleading and does not support any conclusion that energy Using Science to Prevail in Your Case or Controversy
110
drinks are unsafe for consumers.” The primary rebuttal was built on the view that a substantial number of the
emergency visits were confounded by other factors such as existing illnesses, use of pharmaceuticals, illicit
drugs, and alcohol. Monster also made the sobering point that “leading brands of coffeehouse-brewed coffee
typically contain more than 20 mg of caffeine per ounce, which means a medium 16-ounce coffeehouse coffee
contains at least 320 mg of caffeine” and “Monster energy products generally contain approximately 10 mg of
caffeine per ounce from all sources.”
Clearly, this story is in its infancy (for example, other public officials, including the city attorney of San Francisco,
have also begun inquiries into energy drink claims), but as always, a careful evaluation of the evidence will be
critical to distinguish and understand the factors that are important and those that are incidental.
Should the issue of caffeine toxicity become adjudicated in the courts, this leads to the interesting issue
of specific causation – that is, an evaluation of whether it can be demonstrated that the exposure caused the
adverse event or disease state in a specific individual.
As is usually the case, there is more to this story than meets the eye, and with energy drinks, there are many
aspects to this controversy that science can help settle.

See Part 2 tomorrow

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