Monthly Archives: February 2009
In my previous post, I mentioned the growing phenomenon of the DUI "SuperCop" – officers who get MADD awards and departmental promotions from racking up the highest numbers of drunk driving arrests. See More DUI "Super Cops"…and More Innocent Victims. The accompanying news story was about two Chicago cops who had gotten caught framing innocent citizens to accomplish "SuperCop" status. Now there’s a third, but this one manufactured evidence for the overtime pay…
Third Cop Accused of Trumping Up DUI Charges
Chicago, IL. Feb. 27 – Two Chicago men on Wednesday filed lawsuits against the city and a police officer they said trumped up DUI charges against them.
The separate federal suits allege that Town Hall District Officer Richard Fiorito violated the civil rights of James Dean Jr. and Shawn Rauch, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The men’s attorneys accuse Fiorito of manufacturing fake DUI and other traffic charges against motorists in a scheme to garner the extra overtime pay that comes with making court appearances on cases.
DUI defense attorneys have been aware of this dirty little secret for a long time. Those who are righteously arrested for drunk driving tend to end up pleading guilty. But those who are innocent want to fight the charges in court — requiring the arresting officer to make long court appearances to testify….and rack up time-and-a-half pay, often in the tens of thousands of dollars per year.
It’s far more lucrative to arrest innocent citizens than guilty ones.
As I’ve documented in past posts, MADD’s "War on Drunk Driving" has been instrumental in the gradual erosion of our Constitution. See The DUI Exception to the Constitution. But the hysteria has created other problems as well. One of these is the advent of the "Super Cop" — officers who receive MADD awards and promotions as a result of high numbers of drunk driving arrests. See SuperCops…and SuperCons, Another DUI SuperCop and The Latest DUI SuperCop. And as I’ve mentioned in the past, the results have been predictable…
2nd Top DUI Cop Accused of False Arrests
Chicago, IL. Feb. 23 - Another Chicago cop is suspected of framing drivers with false arrests for drunken driving, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.
Joe D. Parker, 59, an officer in the Chicago Police Department’s Traffic Enforcement Unit, has been placed on desk duty pending an internal police investigation.
The Cook County state’s attorney’s office, which is also investigating Parker, has moved to dismiss dozens of DUI arrests he made, according to sources who said investigators began scrutinizing the 23-year police veteran’s DUI arrests after video from his squad car did not appear to match an account he gave in an arrest report.
The scrutiny over Parker’s DUI arrests comes almost a year after another Chicago cop, Officer John Haleas, was charged by Cook County prosecutors with perjury, official misconduct and obstructing justice, accused of failing to take important steps in making a DUI arrest in 2005. Prosecutors said Haleas failed to perform a field-sobriety test and lied in his reports. As a result, they dropped more than 50 cases stemming from DUI arrests made by Haleas.
The criminal case is still pending against Haleas, who was honored three times by the Schaumburg-based Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists as the cop with the most DUI busts in Illinois.
Parker also made the private organization’s top DUI cop list when he made 153 drunken-driving arrests in 2006 — fourth-highest among Chicago officers that year, according to the group.
So how can you frame an innocent citizen if the breathalyzer shows ".03%"? Simple. You write in your arrest report, "The suspect refused to submit to breath or blood testing". Now it’s the cop’s word against an accused drunk driver. Guess which one is going to be believed? And guess which one is going to get a longer jail sentence and license suspension for "refusing"?
This one pretty much speaks for itself, too:
Victim’s Family: Wrong man Charged
Lake County, CA. Feb. 19 – It’s very unusual in a manslaughter case for a victim’s family to speak out for the defendant. But that’s what’s happening in the fatal boat crash case in Clear Lake…
Lynn Thornton died after a horrible boat crash in April of 2006. She and her friends were wrapping up a sunset cruise — it was a still night with little wind — when a power boat roared out of the darkness, launching over the sailboat, snapping the mast and crushing the cabin.
The person driving the power boat was the No. 2 man in the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, Russell Perdock.
"Mr. Perdock just slammed into ‘em, he wasn’t paying attention and it resulted in the death of my sister," said Thomsen.
However, prosecutors ignored the speed of Perdock’s boat. He admitted going as fast as 45 miles an hour, and an independent investigation found that Perdock had broken the law by failing to maintain a safe speed.
They charged Thornton’s friend, who happened to be steering the sailboat at the time of the crash. He had been drinking, and prosecutors claimed the boat’s running lights were off…
In all, the (TV News) I-Team identified nine people — on the sailboat or on shore — who say the sailboat’s running lights, cabin lights, or both, were on.
Still, the man steering the sailboat at the time, Bismarck Dinius, faces felony charges of manslaughter and boating under the influence…
From the beginning, Perdock, the owner of the power boat, has refused to answer our questions and he declined to be interviewed for this report.
Now, the victim’s family members are letting their opinions be known.
"Russell Perdock got away with murder," said Thomsen.
Thornton’s brothers and sister-in-law have sent letters to the judge in the case, saying, "We are convinced beyond any doubt that Russell Perdock, and only Russell Perdock, is responsible for Lynn’s death…She would not have wanted the wrong person to be prosecuted…It’s obvious Perdock’s ridiculous speed was the cause of Lynn’s death."
(Thanks to David Baker)
In the This-Is-Getting-Ridiculous department:
Blood Test for Marijuana Unreliable for DUI Penalty
Lexington, KY. Jan. 17 - Once again, a bill that seeks to punish prior use of a controlled substance with an automatic DUI conviction is before the Kentucky legislature.
Like its predecessors, Senate Bill5 cleverly attempts to bootstrap an ill-advised rule regarding all drugs onto a rule created for the purpose of measuring alcohol impairment. Under SB5, a driver who tests positive for traces of marijuana can be convicted of "driving under the influence" even if that driver is unimpaired at the time of arrest.
While such laws do little to actually make roadways safer, they do send many innocent people to jail and saddle them with criminal records for the rest of their lives. Current Kentucky DUI law requires prosecutors to prove that a suspect was impaired while driving. SB5 seeks to circumvent current evidentiary standards by removing this requirement. If lawmakers want to clog court dockets, cost taxpayers more money and make it tougher for Kentuckians to find and retain employment, then this is the bill to support…
Moreover, the test referred to in SB5 is not a test for marijuana impairment, but merely a test for marijuana’s presence, which is not what DUI laws are supposed to punish.
The effect and perhaps even the aim of legislation like SB5 is to punish prior drug use — predominantly marijuana use — by convicting drivers of DUI without scientifically reliable evidence that they were operating a vehicle while under the influence of anything.
"Zero-tolerance" laws are more than unjust; they are scientifically unsound, which is exactly why not one single state applies such a rule to alcohol. Furthermore, these laws are even less suited for marijuana, the traces of which are detectable by drug tests long after its intoxicating effects have worn off…
A driver with high levels of THC (the active psychotropic ingredient in marijuana) in the blood may not be impaired in any manner if time has passed since the substance was last used. The inability to accurately measure marijuana impairment is why both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse have stated that marijuana impairment testing via blood sampling is unreliable.
Driving under the influence of any substance is dangerous and should not be tolerated, but sending innocent people to jail for DUI using methods incapable of accurately measuring impairment is not the answer.
(Thanks to Nathan Miller)
In the no-comment-necessary department….
Man Charged With Drunk Driving on a Bicycle
Warwick, RI. Feb. 16 - Police have charged a man on a bicycle with driving under the influence.
Police said Gary Merritt, 49, was riding his blue Roadmaster bicycle on Sunday in the middle of the travel lane at the intersection of Warwick Avenue and Airport Road.
According to police, Merritt went through a red light and didn’t have any lights on his bike.
For examples of other dangerous criminals scooped up in MADD's dragnet, see my posts DUI – While Walking a Bike, Felony Bicycle DUI, DUI on a Foot-High Toy Bike, DUI on a Horse?, Drunk Driving on a Lawn Mower, DUI in a Wheelchair? and Drunk Driving on a Zamboni.