Archive for November, 2007

Another DUI SuperCop…

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

The latest in the endless parade of DUI SuperCops….


Lawsuit Targets Cop Tied to Dropped DUI Cases

Chicago, IL.  –  A Chicago police officer whose alleged misconduct has caused dozens of DUI cases to be dismissed was sued Monday by a man he arrested last summer.

Officer John Haleas was disciplined this month for failing to follow procedures in a DUI stop, leading to 50 cases being dropped by Cook County prosecutors.

In a proposed class-action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Noe Martinez alleged he was arrested for DUI after he left a Chicago tavern but before he had even started up his car…

"Basically, this officer has manufactured really countless false charges and lied under oath in the prosecution of those charges in literally hundreds of cases," said Martinez’s attorney, Jon Erickson.

Haleas did not administer a sobriety test until at the Grand Central District police station, Martinez contended, and testing was inconclusive. Martinez was released but still charged with DUI, the suit said.  In reports filed in the case, Haleas alleged Martinez was driving and refused to take a breath test…

Police have said Haleas was given a one-day suspension and was reassigned to desk duty. He had been honored as one of the leading officers in Illinois in the number of DUI arrests logged.


As long as you keep having quotas, promotions and MADD "Top Cop" awards, you’re going to have hundreds of "SuperCops" out there falsely arresting thousands of citizens for drunk driving.

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DUI Convictions Treated as Violent Felonies

Sunday, November 25th, 2007

"Don't drink and drive", as MADD keeps telling us.  Beat your wife or burglarize a house instead.  If you're caught, you're much better off…. 


DUI Convictions Can't Be Erased

Nashville, TN   Nov. 24  –  What can a drug user, wife beater and burglar do that someone convicted of driving under the influence can't?

Under Tennessee law, all but DUI offenders are eligible to have their criminal records wiped clean. Such harsh terms normally apply only to the most violent perpetrators, such as murderers and sexual predators.

But Nashville attorney Doug Thurman is among several defense lawyers who say DUI arrests stay on a person's record all because of a law that is politically motivated and needs to be changed.

"A DUI is going to be held against you for the rest of your life,'' Thurman said.

He says it's not right that felons are allowed to get a chance at having their records wiped clean when first-time DUI offenders, who've been convicted of a misdemeanor charge, can't…

"I think DUI offenders are the whipping children of the legislature," Nashville attorney Patrick Frogge said. "They're easy targets and there's an effective lobbying organization that keeps DUIs on the legislature's agenda."…

"They could have just as easily committed homicide," Laura Dial, executive director of MADD of Tennessee, said of the first-time DUI offenders. "It's vehicular homicide, which is murder. So, they got lucky when they decided to drive drunk and they didn't kill someone and then become convicted of vehicular homicide or vehicular assault.''…


Hmmmm….So if it could have been a more serious offense, then it should be treated as one.  'Still don't think MADD has succeeded in creating a "DUI Exception" to our Constitution and laws?

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“I’m a Judge, Bro”

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

If only this news story was an isolated incident in the hypocritic "War on Drunk Driving":


Judge to Cop Who Arrested Him: ‘I’m a

Judge, Bro’

 May have tried to use position to avoid DWI

Roxbury, IL.  Nov. 16 – A municipal judge who was charged with drunken and careless driving apparently tried to use his position as a jurist — telling his arresting officer, "I’m a judge, bro" — while handing him a blue state judiciary identification card, a police report stated.

George R. Korpita, 47…has served as a municipal judge in Dover, Victory Gardens and Rockaway. He failed numerous field sobriety tests slightly after 2 a.m. on Nov. 6 to the point where he told police, "I’m done. I can’t do it," according to an arrest report filed by Patrolman Jonathan Edmunds.

Edmunds noticed a strong smell of alcohol on Korpita, and it later was determined that the judge’s blood alcohol level was .22 percent — nearly triple the state’s .08 percent legal limit. He’s scheduled to make his first appearance on Nov. 27 before a Superior Court judge in Union County. Attempts to reach Korpita on Thursday night were unsuccessful.

At the time of the arrest, Korpita was asked for his driver’s license, but he handed the officer a blue laminated judiciary ID card and "nonchalantly stated ‘I’m a judge, bro,’" Edmunds wrote.

Edmunds returned the card and again told the judge he needed to see his driver’s license. As Korpita fumbled through papers in his glove box, he told Edmunds, "I’m OK, bro, I’m OK," and then attempted to again hand Edmunds the blue ID card and said, "I’m a judge, bro."

 

(Thanks to Randy Q.)

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More MADDness

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

Another politically ambitious prosecutor seeking MADD’s endorsement:


Getting a DUI Could Get You on a Billboard

Phoenix, AZ.  Nov 19  –  Make sure you’re stone cold sober when you leave your holiday get-together or your mugshot could be pasted all over Valley freeways and streets on billboards.

The new billboards are going up just in time for the holiday season.

County Attorney Andrew Thomas says, “The point is don’t commit a dui or you’ll face a number of consequences. You’ll face incarceration, consequences with your driver’s license, and the fact that you could be potentially shamed.”

In addition to that, your face could wind up on the county attorney’s drunk driving Web site. In addition to the billboards, there are new radio and television public service announcements promoting the Web site.

The campaign costs $700,000. Convicted criminals are paying for most of it, because the funding is from assets siezed through RICO (Racketeering Influence and Corrupt Organization) statutes. The remainder comes from $188,530 allocated by the DUI abatement fund.


Well, aside from from the issue of “scarlet letter” shaming — and only for drunk driving cases (see my post The Scarlet Letter)…..Why couldn’t that RICO money be used to combat gangs?  Child molesting?  Maybe finding lost kids?  Oh, right, there’s no political endorsement in that.

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Validity of Field Sobriety Test Questioned

Monday, November 19th, 2007

There are many so-called “field sobriety tests” used by officers supposedly to determine a DUI suspect’s sobriety.  And, as I’ve posted in the past (Field Sobriety Tests: Designed for Failure?), these tests are highly unreliable and largely used to justify the officer’s suspicions.  Of the many “tests” used today, only three have been approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: walk-and-turn, one-leg-stand and horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN, or the “eye test”).  Collectively, they are referred to as the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs).  Although they are in reality no more valid at determining intoxication than the other tests, their adoption by the federal government has given them an aura of credibility.  The most insidious of these three tests is the nystagmus test – because of its seemingly scientific nature.  Yet, as I’ve previously posted, HGN is unquestionably the least reliable  of the FSTs. (DUI “Eye Test” a Fraud?).  

 A growing number of states are now questioning the validity of such tests, as shown in the following recent news story:


DUI ‘Eye Test’ Under Fire by Supreme Court

State justices join critics, but test has its supporters, too

When it comes to a suspected DUI, the eyes don’t lie.

That’s the principle behind horizontal gaze nystagmus testing, which has long been considered the most reliable way, short of a blood or breath test, for a police officer to determine whether a driver has been drinking.

However, the Illinois Supreme Court has dealt a potentially serious blow to HGN testing with a recent decision stating that such tests are not presumed scientifically valid in Illinois…

“Based on my training and experience, the test is very reliable,” (Dixon Police Department Sgt. Dan) Langloss said. “Yes, the test does have its flaws and drawbacks, but it is only one factor that we look at during a DUI stop. You have to look at the totality of circumstances.”

Many critics across the country, including defense attorneys, argue it is difficult to determine the accuracy of HGN testing and that there are many factors that can cause the eyes to visibly jerk aside from alcohol consumption.

“There are over 25 different types of nystagmus,” said Bob Thompson, Lee County public defender. “Officers are not taught about the other types, which they should know about. Fear, anxiety and viral infections, to name a few, can all have an affect on the eyes.”

Thompson added there are other factors that can affect the results of an HGN test, such as exposure to the lights on the squad car and the difficulty that an officer may have when determining an exact 45-degree angle when conducting the test.

“Officers are not trained in scientific methods or medicine,” Thompson said. “During cross examination, it’s difficult to ask them to draw us a 45-degree angle or test their geometry skills. That’s where we’re starting to see the trial courts become more strict when admitting the test.”

The court ruling came in the wake of a Peoria County case involving Joanne McKown, who was convicted of multiple counts of DUI and reckless driving after she hit three motorcyclists in June 2002. Having suffered a broken toe, she could not perform other sobriety tests, such as standing on one leg or walking heel-to-toe. A sheriff’s deputy who administered an HGN test 90 minutes after the accident said she failed. After McKown refused to give blood voluntarily, police got a search warrant and drew blood 6 1/2 hours after the accident. Tests showed no alcohol in her bloodstream.

Writing that “HGN testing appears to have as many critics as it does champions,” the state Supreme Court sent the Peoria case back to the trial court in September.


For a further discussion of the pseudo-scientific nystagmus test, see my earlier posts: Nystagmus: ”The Eye Test”, Nystagmus: ”The Eye Test” (part 2) and Nystagmus: ”The Eye Test (part 3)”.


(Thanks to John Kruzelock.)

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