Thursday, April 24, 2014

Things I Wish I Said: Justice Sotomayor Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action

In her dissent in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action Justice Sotomayor said the following:

"Under our Constitution, majority rule is not without limit. Our system of government is predicated on an equilibrium between the notion that a majority of citizens may determine governmental policy through legislation enacted by their elected representatives, and the overriding principle that there are nonetheless some things the Constitution forbids even a majority of citizens to do...We often think of equal protection as a guarantee that the government will apply the law in an equal fashion — that it will not intentionally discriminate against minority groups. But equal protection of the laws means more than that; it also secures the right of all citizens to participate meaningfully and equally in the process through which laws are created.

"Race matters. Race matters in part because of the long history of racial minorities' being denied access to the political process...Race also matters because of persistent racial inequality in society — inequality that cannot be ignored and that has produced stark socioeconomic disparities...And race matters for reasons that really are only skin deep, that cannot be discussed any other way, and that cannot be wished away. Race matters to a young man's view of society when he spends his teenage years watching others tense up as he passes, no matter the neighborhood where he grew up. Race matters to a young woman's sense of self when she states her hometown, and then is pressed, 'No, where are you really from?', regardless of how many generations her family has been in the country. Race matters to a young person addressed by a stranger in a foreign language, which he does not understand because only English was spoken at home. Race matters because of the slights, the snickers, the silent judgments that reinforce that most crippling of thoughts: 'I do not belong here.'" 

Wish I'd said that.

Navarette: A Freedom Destroying Cocktail or Welcome to Snitch Nation

The Supreme Court’s freedom destroying (Scalia’s words) decision in Navarette v. California was handed down two days ago.  The decision reeks of the court justifying an end, by eroding the constitution in the area of DUI enforcement.  It’s not so bad for California because we already had the horrible People v. Wells which said, similarly that the cops can pull people over for DUI investigation on an anonymous tip.
The Navarette brothers were cruising down Highway 1 in a Silver Ford F-150.  An anonymous tipster called in a report that the vehicle "`[r]an [me] off the roadway.'" The tipster told 911 that the vehicle was headed south on Hwy 1.  911 notified the CHP and sure enough they spotted a Ford F-150 travelling south about 19 miles from where Snitch had said they were run off the road. CHP followed the vehicle for 5 miles during which time the vehicle didn’t commit a single Vehicle Code violation or do anything suspicious. Read that sentence again.

The cops pulled the brothers Navarette over and saw 30 lbs of weed in the truck bed.  They were arrested, charged with transporting marijuana. They did a motion to suppress which was denied. They appealed, the California Court of Appeals affirmed, the Cal Supremes denied review and the US Supremes granted review.

The majority opinion authored by Thomas finds that an anonymous 911 call about a traffic violation is sufficient to warrant a stop for DUI investigation without any further corroboration. Thomas is forced to look at two cases: Alabama v White which says a detailed uncorroborated tip can lead to a detention and Florida v. JL which says that a vague uncorroborated tip is not enough for a stop.

Thomas says that Navarette is more like White.  He says (and Scalia handily picks apart, see below) that the Snitch here knew details about Navarette’s behavior and that calling 911 makes the anonymous tip more reliable. In White the Snitch laid out exactly what White was going to do and the cops observed White do what was predicted. Here Snitch gave a direction of travel which was confirmed by the cops. Because Thomas gets four other people to vote with him, you can now be stopped by an uncorroborated tip. 

Welcome to Snitch Nation.

Couple side issues:

First, after reading this I’m left with wondering whether Navarette was drunk?  Not knowing makes the case even more stupefying as a tip of a traffic violation leads to an arrest for transporting weed. Was he drunk? Don’t we deserve to know?

Second, I hate it when the bad guy, in this case LL Fat Tony Scalia, gets all the good lines*.  Some quotes from his dissent:
Today's opinion does not explicitly adopt such a departure from our normal Fourth Amendment requirement that anonymous tips must be corroborated; it purports to adhere to our prior cases, such as Florida v. J. L.529 U. S. 266 (2000), and Alabama v. White496 U. S. 325 (1990). Be not deceived.

The stop required suspicion of an ongoing crime, not merely suspicion of having run someone off the road earlier. And driving while being a careless or reckless person, unlike driving while being a drunk person, is not an ongoing crime. In other words, in order to stop the petitioners the officers here not only had to assume without basis the accuracy of the anonymous accusation but also had to posit an unlikely reason (drunkenness) for the accused behavior.
It gets worse. Not only, it turns out, did the police have no good reason at first to believe that Lorenzo was driving drunk, they had very good reason at last to know that he was not. 
Consistent with this view, I take it as a fundamental premise of our intoxicated-driving laws that a driver soused enough to swerve once can be expected to swerve again — and soon. If he does not, and if the only evidence of his first episode of irregular driving is a mere inference from an uncorroborated, vague, and nameless tip, then the Fourth Amendment requires that he be left alone.
The Court's opinion serves up a freedom-destroying cocktail consisting of two parts patent falsity: (1) that anonymous 911 reports of traffic violations are reliable so long as they correctly identify a car and its location, and (2) that a single instance of careless or reckless driving necessarily supports a reasonable suspicion of drunkenness. All the malevolent 911 caller need do is assert a traffic violation, and the targeted car will be stopped, forcibly if necessary, by the police.
Drunken driving is a serious matter, but so is the loss of our freedom to come and go as we please without police interference. To prevent and detect murder we do not allow searches without probable cause or targeted Terry stops without reasonable suspicion. We should not do so for drunken driving either. After today's opinion all of us on the road, and not just drug dealers, are at risk of having our freedom of movement curtailed on suspicion of drunkenness, based upon a phone tip, true or false, of a single instance of careless driving.
Third, hypothetically you’re a cop who witnesses a couple yahoos load some dope into their truck. Your undercover or your hidden and can’t reveal your involvement.  You call 911 and report something unsafe that the yahoos did.  The cops pull over said yahoos and find dope.  If it didn’t happen before Navarette, it will most certainly happen after Navarette.

If you have an opinion about the Navarette case, search and seizure or the encroaching police state, leave a comment. If you have questions about a traffic stop call me at (213) 479-5322 or visit my website at www.dui-defense-la.com.

*Tony’s LL because he’s joined by all ladies on the court.

Friday, April 18, 2014

DUI Checkpoints for Weekend of March 18-20

Don't get delayed. Know where the checkpoints are and avoid the hassle.  Also, ... Be Careful out there.

This weekend's LA area DUI checkpoints are located as follows:

Friday:

Sunset Blvd at Orange Grove between 8-2.

Somewhere in the City of Santa Monica between 7-1.

DUI saturation patrols downtown and in East LA between 4-12.

DUI saturation patrols in south LA (77th St. Station) between 5-1.

In San Pedro at Gaffey St. and Santa Cruz between 8-2.

Saturday:

In Canoga Park at Topanga Canyon and Cohasset St. between 8-2.

If you have any questions about patrols or checkpoints give me a call at (213) 479-5322 or visit my website www.dui-defense-la.com. If you want to know more about the legality of DUI checkpoints read my article Those Lights .... To know what to do at a checkpoint read my article What To Do If You Are Stopped At a Checkpoint. If you have an opinion or something to add, please leave a comment.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

LAWINFO DOESN'T WORK!

LAWINFO DOESN'T WORK!

In my sixteen years as a practicing attorney, I've made numerous marketing mistakes.  Among the biggest and most costly was signing a contract with LawInfo.com. A service that purports to advertise on the internet for attorneys and draw clients from their advertising to the attorney's firm.  You pay per area code and split the service with 2-3 other attorneys.  At one point there weren't enough attorney's as dumb as me and I got a free space in another area code -- didn't help. 

After two years I can honestly say it doesn't work.  I did not get any clients from Lawinfo.  

Initially, Lawinfo told me I would receive a great return on my investment. I was also told, the price is so low, you will certainly break even. I didn't break even.  I didn't get 1 client/month to pay for the service. Nor did I receive 1 really good paying client over time to pay for the service.  I got a call initially from a customer rep.  I asked for the website to track the account but I don't think I ever got that.  

When after paying for nothing for a little under two years I notified them that I would not under any circumstances be renewing my contract, I was contacted by them and informed that it was my fault I didn't get clients. I wasn't using it right.  It wasn't a conversion problem, there were no clients to convert.  They said, there's no way to track whether you got any clients.  I tracked, I didn't get any. I was informed that Lawinfo had given me two free months at the backend.  Great, two free months of nothing.

In my opinion, do not invest your marketing dollars with Lawinfo. If you want the same result, flush the money down the toilet.  If you want a better result do anything else. Because LawInfo doesn't work.

Friday, March 21, 2014

LA Area DUI Checkpoints for Weekend of March 21, 2014

No one wants their weekend ruined by wasting time at a DUI roadblock. The Sheriff reports over 500 people were arrested for DUI on St. Patrick's Day Weekend.

Be careful out there.

The following DUI Checkpoints are scheduled for this weekend:

FRIDAY:

In Hollywood at Hollywood and Bronson between 7pm-1am.

SATURDAY:

In Torrance at Western and Sepulveda between 7pm - 1am.

If you have any questions about patrols or checkpoints give me a call at (213) 479-5322. If you want to know more about the legality of DUI checkpoints read my article Those Lights .... To know what to do at a checkpoint read my article What To Do If You Are Stopped At a Checkpoint. If you have an opinion or something to add, please leave a comment.

Using Phone's Map Function While Driving Is Legal

Vehicle Code Section 23123 bars the use of a cellphone while driving.  Last year there was an appellate court case that ruled the law applies to using the map function as well.

In People v. Isaac, the court of appeals ruled that the law as written,"A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving." 

As written it doesn't apply to anything but talking on the cellphone while driving.

So the conviction is overturned because the statute doesn't apply to using the phone's map function. If you think about it, the law would unfairly punish those distracted by reading a physical map.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to call me (213) 479-5322 or by e-mail at edblum@dui-defense-la.com. If you have an opinion, leave it below.

Visit our website at www.dui-defense-la.com.

Friday, March 14, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Weekend LA Area DUI Checkpoints 3/14 -- 3/17

No reason to spoil your weekend plans waiting in line at a DUI Checkpoint.  Be careful out there.

NOTE: The LA Sheriff has posted that they will have 87 DUI patrols out this weekend as well as 13 checkpoints at undisclosed locations (they are not legally supposed to conceal the checkpoint locations). This is important if you are living or partying in an area (like West Hollywood, unincorporated LA or smaller cities in the county) that is normally patrolled by the sheriff. So, be very careful out there.

TONIGHT (Friday):

DUI Saturation Patrol Downtown and South LA.

DUI Checkpoint in K-Town at Vermont Ave. at Sixth St. from 8-2.

DUI Checkpoint in North Hills at Sepulveda and Parthenia from 8-2.

TOMORROW (Saturday):

DUI Checkpoint in South LA at Figueroa and 112th from 7-1.

DUI Checkpoint in Pacoima at Van Nuys onramp to the 5 from 8-2.

DUI Checkpoint in South LA at Florence and Broadway from 8-2.

DUI Checkpoint in Downtown LA at Figueroa and Ninth from 8-2.

SUNDAY:

DUI Saturation Patrol on the Eastside (Hollenbeck Division) from noon to 8pm.

DUI Saturation Patrol in the USC area -- careful homies -- from 5pm to 1am.

MONDAY ST. PATRICK'S DAY:

DUI Saturation Patrol in the North Hollywood area from 5-1.

DUI Saturation Patrols in the LBC all day.

If you have any questions about patrols or checkpoints give me a call at (213) 479-5322. If you want to know more about the legality of DUI checkpoints read my article Those Lights .... To know what to do at a checkpoint read my article What To Do If You Are Stopped At a Checkpoint. If you have an opinion or something to add, please leave a comment.