Monthly Archives: October 2014

Buzzfeed Collected Some More Amazing Mug Shots

cops show up mugWe’ve seen some of them before on Crimcourts, but there are a few new ones here that warrant a giggle, from Buzzfeed.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/briangalindo/26-people-who-instantly-regretted-being-arrested-in-ironic-t#2er01jv

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Are Police Officers Incentivized to Lie?

This opinion article in the New York Times suggests that they are. Even if there is not direct inducement, there are no ramifications for officers if they lie, and the system encourages numbers and, as we’ve discussed recently on Crimcourts, forfeitures of property. The system is set up to encourage arrests, and not as the old adage implies, to protect and serve. While I don’t think the majority of cops are liars, you see it with some frequency in a criminal practice. It’s not just drug cases, but even little things like traffic tickets. And misjudged priorities and a lack of accountability can compound the problem. Again, more cameras will help demonstrate the truth and be better for everybody.

Tracie Hunter Found Guilty on One Count: Jury Hung on Other 8 Counts

Judge Tracie Hunter

Convicted Judge Tracie Hunter

The jury in the trial of Judge Tracie Hunter has found her guilty on one count, but could not reach a unanimous verdict on the other counts, resulting in a hung jury. The count she was found guilty of was for Having an Unlawful Interest in a Public Contract: essentially for getting public employees to get restricted documents to help her brother, a juvenile court employee who was facing termination from his job. The charge is a felony, which means Hunter is suspended without pay, and will effectively cause her to be removed from the bench, pending the appeal in the case. The charge carries a presumption of probation, but she could be facing up to 18 months in prison.

The hung jury on the other counts means that she could be tried again. That decision will probably be announced by prosecutors some time in the future. Obviously she will appeal the conviction, which will take some time: sentencing on the guilty count is set for Dec. 2.

For more coverage, see Cincinnati.com’s @KimballPerry

Steve Lehto Shares Tips on What to do If You Get Pulled Over

Blogger Steve Lehto, an attorney from Michigan shares some pointers in his latest column: http://oppositelock.jalopnik.com/how-to-reduce-the-odds-of-being-ticketed-during-a-traff-1645604557

I would add, be exceedingly polite. I doubt anything makes as big a difference on whether you are getting ticket, and what deal you get at court, than how you treat the cop.

More on the Police Practice of Seizing Property

Yesterday I discussed the growing practice of property forfeitures by law enforcement- even when there is not evidence to support an arrest, and how those seizures can be challenged. I was inspired by a video from John Oliver’s This Week, Tonight, that posted on Huffington Post. Yesterday, Forbes.com and Yahoo did their own article, also referencing the John Oliver video. Their article is worth a read, as well. And here is a link to the John Oliver bit, if you’ve got 15 minutes:

 

Jury is Deliberating in Trial of Judge Tracie Hunter

The closing arguments concluded yesterday, and the jury is deliberating today. Cincinnati.com will carry the verdict live when it comes back… probably the best way to keep tabs is to follow on Twitter.

It’s a complicated case, much of it what we call a paper case: that is, based on documents, and there are multiple charges, so it would not be unusual for the jury to deliberate for more than one day.

Update: According to @WCPO, deliberations have concluded today, and will resume tomorrow.

What Can You Do If Cops Take Your Stuff, Even If You Didn’t Commit a Crime

Law enforcement forfeitures are on the rise across the country. Cops see forfeiture as an easy way to enhance their bottom line, or to pick up some toys that they can’t otherwise get approved in their budgets. And in many State’s, the agency that does the forfeited often gets to keep the majority of the property seized, which sadly can incentivize some law enforcement agencies to be too aggressive in their seizure policies. The more they grab, the more they get to keep, and that’s a recipe for abuse of the system, especially because it is difficult to for people to fight the forfeitures. We’ve talked about the risk of abuse before on Crimcourts. John Oliver recently did a great take on the issue on “This Week, Tonight,” which is worth the 15 minutes to watch.

However, it is not impossible to fight a forfeiture. You have a right to challenge a forfeiture in court, and should talk to an experienced attorney right away. Cops will attempt a forfeiture even when the evidence doesn’t support it. They will claim a suspicion that a crime is being committed, based on their ‘training and experience’, and presumptively seize the property. However, a hunch isn’t enough to prove the case in court. The must demonstrate criminal activity by a preponderance of the evidence, and convince a jury of it. If the cops do try to seize your property, you should definitely exercise your right to fight the forfeiture.

Florida actually provides several different stages of challenging a forfeiture, and there are time considerations, which mean you should retain an attorney to help you as soon as possible. First, there are several technical filing requirements the state must follow before a forfeiture will be granted. The person who’s property is being seized has a right to a preliminary hearing, that means if they state is holding your property, they must demonstrate to a court why they should be permitted to hold it. And finally, the person has a right to make them prove their case to a jury at trial, and all of the defenses available on a criminal charge can be argued, as well as some particular to seizure cases. It can be a long, arduous process, but one that may be fruitful to follow through on.

If your property has been seized, you should contact me or another expereinced attorney right away.

Criminal Law  Attorney Spencer Cordell https://www.facebook.com/crimcourts

Criminal Law Attorney Spencer Cordell
https://www.facebook.com/crimcourts