Monthly Archives: November 2011

DUI Defense Lawyer For $99 (Seriously)

When I first passed the California Bar 42 years ago, it was a violation of the State Bar’s Canons of Ethics to advertise legal services.  A simple advertisement on the back of a matchcover could get you a suspension.  It was considered undignified and unprofessional.

Times change.  Now we have lawyer advertising on television, roadside billboards, the internet — many containing outrageous claims that would shame a used-car dealer.  

I keep thinking we’ve hit bottom in my profession, but…..the following self-promotional "news release" appeared on Google a few minutes ago:

L.A. Criminal Attorney Has Cyber Monday Sale — $99 DUI Defense Offered

Los Angeles, CA.  Nov. 26 – The week of Thanksgiving is a great time for eaters, drinkers, retailers and deal hunters – and a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer is looking to capitalize on the revelry by offering a Cyber Monday deal unlike any other before. Starting Monday morning at 9 AM, the SLG Criminal Law Group will offer a $99 DUI defense sale to (alleged) drunk drivers in the Los Angeles area.

“The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the biggest drinking day of the year for Americans,” said Los Angeles criminal attorney Matthew Spiegel, founder of SLG Criminal Law Group. “There are more DUI checkpoints around the holidays, and as a result there’s an influx of people being accused of driving under the influence. With Cyber Monday right around the corner, we thought it would make sense to offer a deal like e-tailers do. Apparently, we’re the first.”

The average cost of a DUI conviction in California is between $7,500 and $10,000, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). This does not include lost pay, medical costs, vehicle damage, personal injuries or additional penalties. If the accused wants to hire a lawyer who isn’t a public defense attorney, the costs are even higher.
“Normally, we charge between $5,000-$10,000 to represent a drunk driver, depending on the circumstances,” said Spiegel, who has represented drivers in more than 400 DUI cases. “So a $99 DUI defense sale is unheard of for a firm like ours – but desperately needed in this economy. Sometimes good people do bad things – or are accused of doing bad things – and this sale gives them the opportunity to have solid representation at a rate anyone can afford.”

The $99 Cyber Monday DUI sale is limited to the first three eligible people who call the SLG Criminal Law Group at (213) 236-3660 after 9 AM on Monday, November 28th. Misdemeanor DUIs only, rate does not include trial. Drivers whose charges involve personal injury, property damage, reckless endangerment and other special circumstances are not eligible for the promotion, nor are drives who have had multiple DUI convictions in the past.

No comment necessary…..

DUI Task Force Cop Admits Falsifying Breath Test Readings

The latest news fresh from the front lines of MADD's "War on Drunk Driving":

DUI Cases in Jeopardy After Richmond County Deputy Admits Falsifying Readings

Richmond County, GA. Nov. 19 – The forced resignation of a deputy assigned to the DUI task force could affect the prosecution of hundreds of cases, according to those in the legal community.

Erik Norman faced mandatory resignation from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office on Oct. 19 after a prosecutor reported that Norman told her he had falsified readings from a hand-held alcohol-testing device.

Norman told the department’s internal affairs division that he had done it only “once or twice” but couldn’t recall exactly which cases were involved. Norman’s credibility is gone now, no matter how many times he falsified readings, said Augusta attorney Robert “Bo” Hunter, who prosecuted drunken driving cases as the Richmond County State Court solicitor from 1988 to 1996… Even worse, Hunter said, is that there probably were people charged with driving under the influence who shouldn’t have been.

Norman, hired as a jailer in July 2002, was transferred to the DUI task force in March 2009. An accurate count of his DUI convictions cannot be made through court records, but during his time on the task force, he arrested an estimated 250 to 400 people.

State Court Solicitor Charles Evans said his office has 62 pending DUI cases in which Norman was the arresting officer. Each will have to be judged on its merits to determine whether to continue prosecuting them as DUIs. If necessary, the office will bring in Norman as a trial witness, Evans said.

The Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Coun­cil is investigating to determine whether Norman can keep his certification, said Ryan Powell, its director of operations. Unless he is arrested on felony charges or his certification is suspended, Norman is free to work as an officer, Powell said.

Falsifying evidence is a felony – making false statements – but prosecuting Norman for it would be difficult, District Attorney Ashley Wright said. A prosecutor would have to prove in which case Norman falsified the results, and there is no way to uncover those cases without Norman’s admission. He claimed he didn’t know which cases were falsified…

Do you really think this Georgia deputy is the only cop out there falsifying breathalyzer readings to justify his DUI arrest? And by the way, notice Deputy Norman's sterling qualifications to investigate and arrest citizens for drunk driving:  He was hired in 2002 to be a jailor — and after seven years of guarding jail cells, he was transferred directly to the DUI task force.  Do you still think DUI cops are highly trained and qualified?

The “Blue Shield” Continues

I've posted repeatedly in the past about the double standard when it comes to cops who drive drunk.  See, for example, Guarding the GuardiansThe Blue Cover-Up, The DUI Double Standard, The DUI Double Standard II and The Thin Blue Line

The following news story from a couple of days ago is just another example of this pervasive coverup…..

PCB Officer's DUI Charge Dismissed

Panama City, FL.  Nov. 14  – A DUI case against a former Panama City Beach police officer has been dismissed because no one could legally prosecute the charges before the defendant’s right to a speedy trial expired.

According to statements made at a Nov. 8 hearing, the 14th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office declared a conflict in the DUI case against David Lee Walker in August. As is procedure when a conflict of interest is declared, the prosecutors in Glenn Hess’ office asked Gov. Rick Scott to intervene and appoint another prosecutor to handle the case. The 1st Judicial Circuit was supposed to take over the case, but they did not receive formal notice from the governor’s office in time for an Oct. 31 trial, according to statements at last week’s motion hearing.

Walker’s defense team did not waive the speedy trial requirements under Florida law and showed up Oct. 31 ready to go a trial, officials said. No one showed up to prosecute the case.

“From time to time we would make inquiries with the governor’s office; it was never assigned,” Bob Pell, the head of the misdemeanor division with the 14th Judicial Circuit, said during the Nov. 8 hearing. “I feel that our circuit has done everything we can possibly do to move the case along.”

At the end of the hearing, Judge Joe Grammer dismissed the charges against Walker. Although the case has been dismissed, prosecutors could appeal, officials said. The 1st Judicial Circuit did eventually get official notification from the governor’s office and sent a notice to Grammer.

The notice arrived the day after he dismissed the case, Grammer said.

Walker and another officer repeatedly sought “professional courtesy” from Trooper Wesley Harsey after Harsey stopped Walker for allegedly driving 50 miles per hour on Front Beach Road after leaving the bar on July 21, according to investigative reports. Walker offered to leave his car parked at the scene and take a taxi home, but Harsey told him he should have done that before they left the bar, the reports said.

Walker initially said he had only two beers, but during the conversation, he eventually admitted to drinking eight or nine beers that night, according to the reports. Ultimately, he refused to submit to a breath test, and Walker resigned shortly after the arrest…

"No one showed up to prosecute the case".  Strange how the system just can't seem to get it together when it's a cop facing DUI charges…

Cop Who Kicked in DUI Suspect’s Door Is “Immune”

The latest example of what I've called "The DUI Exception to the Constitution"….

Officer Who Kicked in Door for DUI Has Immunity

Vienna, VA.  Nov. 9 – A police officer is not liable for a civil rights violation for kicking in the door of a man’s home to arrest him for drunken driving, in a new case from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

On Oct. 2, 2004, Vienna police officer M.A. Reeves followed Alan J. Cilman from a sports bar to his home on suspicion of drunken driving. Cilman got out of his car, asked the officer to leave his property, went into his home and locked the door. Reeves called for back-up and then kicked in the door to Cilman’s home when he wouldn’t respond.

Reeves arrested Cilman not for drunken driving, but for being drunk in public and evasion without force.

All criminal charges against Cilman were dismissed.

When Cilman sued Reeves, Alexandria U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee said Reeves was liable as a matter of law under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and Va. Code § 19.2-59 for the warrantless entry…

In an unpublished per curiam opinion in Cilman v. Reeves a 4th Circuit panel said the law on warrantless entries in this kind of case is unclear, and Reeves deserved the benefit of the doubt, and qualified immunity…

Hmmm….In other words, the cop violated the Constitution, but…well, it was a DUI case, right?  

And by the way, if the cop broke into Climan's home to arrest him for drunk driving, why did he arrest him for being drunk in public (no driving) instead?

(Thanks to attorney Bob Battle of Virginia.)

Cop Admits: Half of DUI Arrests Are Not Intoxicated

Piercing the veil of reliability in DUI investigations…..

Evidence Suppressed in Lawmaker's DUI

Philadelphia, PA.  Nov. 2 – A state prosecutor is criticizing a Philadelphia judge's decision to suppress evidence in the arrest of a Philadelphia lawmaker on suspicion of drunken driving.

The Philadelphia Daily News reports that the DUI charge against Rep. Cherelle Parker will be dropped if Judge Charles Hayden's decision Tuesday isn't appealed.

The state attorney general's office handled the case at the request of Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams.  Deputy Attorney General Marc Costanzo says he's surprised a judge found two police officers less credible than someone who failed a breath-alcohol test. He said his office will decide whether to appeal within 30 days.

Hayden says he's troubled that one officer changed her testimony, while another testified that only about half the people he's arrested for DUI were found to be intoxicated.

The only thing I find surprising about this is that the cop admitted it.