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Room full of cash

Legislatures all over the country have very little to do.  There is already a law that commands a person to stop at a stop sign, and another that forbids him or her from smoking in a bar.  There are not a lot more laws to be written.  So each year legislatures meet, stare at each other, and then vote to change the law.  Why? Because they can.

There is one group that makes a lot of money from this apparent lunacy: Drug Dealers and Cartels.

We wouldn’t have drug cartels if it weren’t for expensive drugs.  And, we wouldn’t have expensive drugs unless the liability for handling them wasn’t cartoonish.  For example from my neighborhood.:

Wisconsin Man Gets 6 Years For Selling Crack Cocaine

That’s right.  A guy went to prison for 6 years for selling meth, within 1000 feet of a church.

Now I don’t want to sit here an do a comparison of sentences, but I have seen rapists, nine-time DUI drivers, and some negligent homicide (gunshot) get less time.  You may argue that those were poorly sentenced cases and I couldn’t disagree, but my point for this post is this:  Why do we love drug dealers and cartels so much?  Is it the murder by beheading?  The Lincoln Navigators?

When the punishment for selling a drug is so high, that cost gets passed to the consumer (who is addicted) and whom will pay almost any amount of money.  Why we are set on getting large bedroom-sized stacks of one hundred dollar bills into the hands of criminals will always remain a mystery to me.

Law Dude, Ray Flavin, represents drivers that have been charged with DUI in McHenry County Illinois. His law offices are located across the street from the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock.

 

Screenshot from 2014-10-20 09:41:00

If you want a good laugh, follow Taser on twitter.  It’s not that they’re funny. It’s that their twitter account is such a blatant, one-sided view of their products.  Mention Taser in a positive light, and their Twitter will scream it to the world. Ask them about their products electrocuting people suspected of minor violations and, apparently, the account can’t hear you.

Last week some random guy on youtube “liked” a video involving Taser, and tweeted about it:

Of course, nobody says anything positive about Taser without Taser telling the world. So Taser retweeted it.  Because I follow Taser, it popped up in my twitter feed. I loved it. I loved it because it couldn’t have been more perfect.  From the screen capture of a gigantic African American man, shirt off, muscles ripped, knife in hand, to the caption using “cop talk” saying the man was “instantly incapacitated” as opposed to something more mundane like “electro-shocked to hell.” Screenshot from 2014-10-20 09:41:00 I was so impressed by the presentation that I couldn’t resist watching.  Would this giant, scary African American man kill the would-be-cop, or would the cop prevail? Before I could even get to the end I was distracted. This video kept referring to the Taser as a “less-than-lethal option.”  Odd, I thought, because I know they kill people. You know they kill people. By now, even Taser has to know they kill people- hundreds of people. So, I “mentioned” that to the fine twitter folks at Taser:

Much to my excitement, they answered back!

Very interesting, I thought to myself. Taser isn’t saying their product isn’t lethal. They’re saying that they’re just using the language the government uses.  Even if their product has killed hundreds of people they can still market it as “less-than-lethal” or “non-lethal” because the government does. Putting my Philosophy degree to good use for the first time since 1996, though, I decided I needed to weed through the Keep Reading →

Screenshot from 2014-09-09 10:10:38

Somebody needs to explain to me how we got to this point.  What point, you ask? The point where a man is standing on the sidewalk, minding his own business is approached and searched by the cops.

For what? They say a noise complaint.

I don’t buy that. Not even for a minute.  I’d wager your first born that the average police response time to a “noise complaint” in the Brox can be measured with a calendar.  The police have better things to do there.

Even if it were a legit “noise” complaint, there’s zero reason to search. I’ve been at places where the police showed up for noise- most notably a wedding. Nobody got searched.

Yeah, this guy is on parole. I’m not sure it should matter. If it did, why did the prosecutor drop the charges?

The real question isn’t “how did we get here” but “why doesn’t this change”. The answer to either question, of course, is the same: because as shocking as it looks, nobody really cares.

This picture has nothing to do with this post.

There are sometimes in DUI cases where a defense attorney must face two or more DUI prosecutors.

If the judge ignores his or her role as referree, and decides that he or she misses being a prosecutor (because most judges are former prosecutors), as a defense attorney you may be facing two prosecutors. For example:  Your client is a first offender DUI client.  You bargain with the actual state’s attorney for a rescission of the statutory summary suspension in exchange for a guilty plea and supervision (no conviction) on the DUI.  This way your client can avoid the expense of getting a BAIID Device installed in his car (and also save the $250 license reinstatement fee)  This represents a total savings of the cost of the BAIID Device (about $750) plus $250 reinstatement fee, or about a $1,000.  The actual state’s attorney may like this deal because his case may have a number of technical problems that may or may not cause him to lose at trial.  So this negotiation can be a win-win.  However, your judge (who misses being a prosecutor) may decide to reject the negotiation because he or she feels that they would have won the case at trial (doesn’t understand the weaknesses), and therefore you have to negotiate the case with the judge also.  So in effect you have two prosecutors on the case.

In some circumstances you could have three prosecutors on the case.  Imagine the scenario featured above, but in this case you as a defense attorney have negotiated the case with a municipal attorney.  Also in this case imagine that the county state’s attorney is one of those “tough on DUI” types.  He got elected because he felt that the “tough on DUI” slogan that he used for his campaign was why he is in office and he likes his job so he decides to “help” municipal attorneys by threatening to pull their prosecuting authority if they do DUI negotiations that he doesn’t like.  So as a defense attorney you end up negotiating with the municipal prosecutor, the state’s attorney and then the judge.

But don’t lose heart.  This all works out very well for you because when these guys don’t want to do the deal you end up taking the case to trial and because there essentially wasn’t a deal that you could recommend to your client, it’s like trying a case with no downside.  You weren’t going to take the “tough on DUI” deal, so if you lose at trial it the prosecutor’s fault.  And, as luck would have it you will win about 95% of these case because as it turns out there was a reason that the first prosecutor should have cut a deal with you.

Welcome to the wacky world of “tough on DUI” prosecution.

Law Dude, Ray Flavin, represents drivers that have been charged with DUI in McHenry County Illinois. His law offices are located across the street from the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock.

Edward Snowden

So secret executive orders are in the news again today.  I have to say that we can all thank Edward Snowden for that.  I have heard many politicians and some rich people say that he is no hero, but they are idiots, so there’s that.

The NSA when questioned about how the security state might get out of hand had this to say:

 

 “NSA officials have defended the legal power, which they say is limited by “extensive and multi-layered” oversight and protects people in the U.S. and around the globe.”

Read more: http://thehill.com/policy/technology/216392-dems-protest-secret-spying-law#ixzz3CCK9YFfO

However, these were the same people who gave the oversight for Edward Snowden, so there’s that.

When anyone takes some brave action in their career you will have those people who immediately say, “I was just going to do that.”  I filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the county last month and three other attorneys said that they were going to to that, but they just didn’t get to it.  It takes a lot of guts to spend the time necessary to file a big lawsuit, and it takes a lot of worrying about the thousands of details.  I am sure it is like that with Edward Snowden.  I don’t know a lot of people who would risk the career ending implications just for what they thought was right.

And if you noticed, his actions worked to make society better in accidental ways too.  Not only did he reveal that the NSA was reading out emails, he also showed that the NSA doesn’t watch the store by not having in place the systems to catch someone like him.  But for me what he did will always be brave.

Law Dude, Ray Flavin, represents drivers that have been charged with DUI in McHenry County Illinois. His law offices are located across the street from the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock.

 

 

 

Judges, you gotta love ‘em … or not.

There were two incidents last week in my neck of the woods that I found interesting that involved judges.  First, a judge assisted the bailiff in taking a hat from someone in court, and second, another judge declared that the state SHALL NOT make any offers to my client because he made the ridiculous request of asking for a jury trial.

With respect to the first incident, I got to court late (which is very rare for me, because I like to get to court do my business and leave), and while I was standing in a line of attorneys waiting to be heard by the judge, the bailiff yelled at someone to take his hat off. After the incident I was told this was the second time that the person came into court with his hat on.

Now I don’t know where the whole, you must remove your hat in court thing came from.  While some might tell you that it is a show of disrespect to wear your hat in a courtroom, I can think of a lot of other ways to more effectively show your disrespect of the court.  And, having a rule that you must remove your hat in court lest you show some disrespect of the court strikes me as a typical dumb rule like we have in today’s society.  This rule for example doesn’t stop those who want to show disrespect, and it catches people who forget they have a hat on.  Further it gives the bailiff an opportunity to bark at someone for wearing a hat in front of everyone assembled in the courtroom, thereby proving that he has some sort of authority over that space (which I had no luck finding in either the US Constitution or the Illinois Compiled Statutes).  I mean, I don’t want to be too cute here, I know that the court security officer is there to protect the judge from attack, to arrest or jail someone on the order of a judge, and to keep order in the courtroom … but it seems to me that yelling at a guy because he forgot to take off his hat is just an exercise in showing everyone that I can yell at some one and act mad (with impunity and a gun).

So that’s the set up.  Guy walks into court with his hat on for the second time (demonstrating that he forgot about the hat) but somehow showing grave disrespect to the court.  So the guy sits down and takes off his hat, and looks appropriately embarrassed because he got yelled at by the bailiff.  (Just like in elementary school, except for we are not in school).  The situation is over, except for now the judge wants to participate in this showing that they can yell at someone to everyone present.  The judge yells, “Sir, come up here.”  Then, “Give the Bailiff your hat!”

Mission Accomplished:  I can yell therefore I have authority.

Item #2

So I was entering my appearance on a case in front a judge.  I requested a police report, anything that they might use at trial and asked for a jury trial date.  The judge then commanded the state’s attorney to make no offers to my client because we had asked for a jury trial.  It seemed odd.  I ask for jury trials in felony cases routinely and no judge has ever commanded that the State make no offers to my client.

Doesn’t matter, the offers from the State in that courtroom I probably wouldn’t recommend my client accept anyway.

Just another day in paradise.

Here’s a youtube video of a person appearing in court with what appears to be a colonial three corner hat, I am pretty sure they didn’t ask him to remove it because he is a little out there, so to speak.

 

Law Dude, Ray Flavin, represents drivers that have been charged with DUI in McHenry County Illinois. His law offices are located across the street from the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock.

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