All posts in Police and Feds

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.

swat team

Here’s some jumbled up thoughts for you this Labor Day Weekend


Labor Day in the United States is a holiday to celebrate the American Labor movement.  As it turns out my great Aunts were part of the Great Sit Down Strike of 1937, so that explains a bit of my lefty leanings.  Many people will spend Labor Day with their local police departments after a DUI arrest, it turns out that in our area it is much more likely that you will spend time with the Bull Valley Police Department (statistically) than other departments for reasons I don’t understand.

Which brings me to a topic that I don’t often see written about, except here.  Are the police, and the justice system more hassle than they are worth?  I know, radical concept.  Let’s see if I can walk you through it and see what you think.

Police Departments were first formed in London, as an alternative to the military being the police.  The thought was, when the military came into ‘take care of a problem” back in those days, you could usually count their effectiveness with dead bodies and severed limbs of rioters or gang members.  Because that was thought to be a bit uncivilized they invented police departments.  Police would wear blue rather than military red to try to distinguish themselves from the police.  It is interesting that the police of today now try to look MORE like the military.

But what do the police departments accomplish?  Well, they make us wear seatbelts, stop at stop signs and slow down out driving.  They keep us safe, except of course for the times when they are the problem:

Here’s a video clip of the police harassing someone because that’s what the police do.

Nobody ever asks do we have too many police.  Our local budget for the police at the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office is 29 million dollars.  And the 400 or more Sheriff’s Deputies do not include the 27 other entities that have law enforcement officers in our county.  In our county if you call the police they come.  Sometimes they come 5 or 10 at a time.  It is not really a matter of having too few officers.

But, do they really help?  Let’s talk about the average case, not the extreme case.  The average cop interaction with the police is a seat belt ticket.  What was accomplished?  I was safer?  What did it cost me?  $65-$320 depending on which court costs were added. Where would we be without seatbelt/speeding/stop sign tickets?  Arguably richer, but what was gained by having the police stop me?

Let’s look at the extreme case.  Without the police we could imagine that there would be gangs who stopped cars on the highway and take $500 payments from them to allow them on their way.  Compare that with roadside safety checks. A municipality will collect a $500 administrative fee (using the police) if a persons license is suspended because at some point they didn’t have insurance. This payment is taken regardless of whether the person knew about the suspension.  Do the $500 payments being taken from the driver differ, from the point of the driver?  In either case he is out the $500 bucks.

Lastly, while it’s hard for a whitey like me to explain, without police there would be fewer “persons of color” expected by the police to “Respect Ma Authority.”  And fewer things for the people of Ferguson to protest or riot against.

If we didn’t have police would the world be all that different?  The answer is of course yes.  The landlords and the rich corporations wouldn’t have an essentially free force to remove people from their property, they would have to hire their own thugs, and you could argue they would be more brutal.

I hope everyone has a great Labor Day.  I wonder when we will have a Police Day?

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. He is one of those lawyers.

How $500 ended the world

The City of McHenry has vowed to use $150,000 to prosecute (take to trial) DUI cases this year. (THIS IS A BRAND NEW IDEA THIS YEAR). This seems like it might be silly for several reasons:

1.  The number of DUIs that The City of McHenry, Illiinois has written has gone down for the last five years EVERY YEAR

2013:  63 DUI arrests,

2012  91 DUI Arrrests;

2011  97 DUI Arrests;

2009 144 DUI Arrests.

Why exactly would you want to spend more money prosecutiing FEWER DUI charges?

2.  The City has just changed attorneys representing the City in DUI cases.  Are the newer attorneys more expensive?

I wonder if it costs more to take a DUI case to trial, or to negotiate it?  I wonder if the attorney who has the contract with The City of McHenry makes more money if the case goes to trial?

I wonder if there is a little moral hazard paying an attorney more for taking DUI cases to trial.  I wonder if there is even more problems with announcing that you are going to spend $150,000 on DUIs … when there are fewer DUIs.

When do you think someone will suggest that maybe we should save some money and lower the number of police patrols because there are fewer DUIs out there?

My guess would be never.

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. He is one of those lawyers.

Road side body cavity search

I was looking at videos on YouTube and I searched How to Beat a Bull Valley DUI.  I like to look at the latest DUI attorney advertising, just to see what is being said out there.  And Bull Valley is very near the city where my office is located in Woodstock, IL.

It occurred to me that the general public might not understand a basic fact of the law of Illinois (or insert your state here).  When a person “beats” a DUI, it doesn’t mean that they weren’t driving under the influence.  Recently one of my clients was pulled over because a “white car” had left the scene of a disturbance.  They stopped her car (because it was white) and discovered that she was figuratively drunk out of her mind.  But the police officers did not have a valid reason to stop the car.  (I don’t believe I have to explain to you here that police officers can’t pull over cars just because they are white).  So the municipality dismissed the case on the date we had the case set for hearing.

However, when I look at these … “We can “beat” the DUI sites” they really fail to mention what happens if the police officer had a good reason to stop the car.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with taking a case to trial and putting the state to its evidence (provided that you don’t have to pay a “trial tax*”).  A local high volume attorney took two such cases to trial and lost thus the drivers received convictions (that the judges later changed) for first time DUI cases.  When a driver gets a conviction in Illinois their license gets revoked.  So I am pretty sure the tensions ran high at the high volume place until the judge relented and changed his mind about convicting the drivers who chose to go to trial on their DUI cases.

But how many DUIs can be beat?  I know from time to time our local state’s attorney loses his mind and insists that there be “no deals” in DUI cases.  Of course he ends up losing a lot of cases when he does that.  He begins to rethink that “no deals” position just as the newspaper discovers that the state’s attorney seemingly can’t win any DUI cases.  It is during those times when many DUI cases are sent to trial that it is exposed how many DUI cases would fail at trial.  And it turns out that a surprising number do fail at trial when taken to trial.

But the question that I a most interested in, because I am a lawyer, how many DUI case results are changed by a lawyer?  If you ask the lawyers the answer is all of them.  However, if that is true, “Then, Why do we run a DUI system that is so gamey, that it matters what attorney you choose?”  And, “Why do we allow the criminal justice system to operate in such a way that it matters what attorney you hire?’ (Or what 5 attorneys you hire if you are O.J. Simpson).

It would be interesting to do some scientific analysis to see if judges impose trial taxes, and whether it makes a difference which attorney you hire for a particular DUI.


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.  He is one of those lawyers.


*A trial tax, is an addition to the sentence by a judge of a defendant who took their case to trial, rather than enter a negotiated plea.  The term is mostly theoretical because we can never know what they would have been sentenced to if they had not went to trial because that was before the judge knew fully about the case.

Road side body cavity search

I was picking a jury the other day and one of the jurors was a technical writer for the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), the people who actually invented the Field Sobriety tests.  Well, maybe not invented, but they suggested that they can be standardized.  They are of course wrong.

The juror was kind of funny because he said he couldn’t be fair because his job was to take a policy position for NHTSA in their attempt to make the roads safer.  The judge immediately agreed to allow him to leave on the court’s motion (???) I wonder whether I would have kept him given the chance. Keep Reading →