Tag Archives: tallahassee

FHP Troopers told to Write More Tickets – Allegations of Quotas

DUI Operation in Lee County Friday

The Tampa Bay Times has uncovered an email from an FHP supervisor instructing his troopers to write more tickets. “The patrol wants to see two citations each our…” reads the email from Major Mark Welch. He and FHP deny this is a quota, which would be in violation of state law: but this is a quota. He sets a minimum number of tickets he expects his underlings to write per hour. That’s exactly a quota. The fact that he says “This is not a quota” does not redefine what a quota is.

 

To make matters worse, there may be benefits tied to the number of tickets officers write. Troopers in Miami-Dade were given additional weekend passes when they met ticket-writing goals earlier this year. FHP ended that policy when it was exposed. It seems this new quota is tied to ‘SOAR’, an overtime program, though that program appears to incentivize them to work more hours, not to inflate their ticket numbers. Big brother is most definitely watching.

Drunk Juror’s Contempt Conviction Overturned

Florida Supreme Court

The Florida Supreme Court building

The Florida Supreme Court overturned the contempt conviction and jail sentence for juror Noel Plank, saying that the procedure for trying his contempt hearing was flawed, and that he should have been entitled to an attorney. The court found that since the drinking that led to his intoxication occurred out of the court’s presence, it should not have been heard as ‘direct criminal contempt’ [think of an angry defendant making a scene in a courtroom: that would be direct contempt]. Rather, the court found that it should have been treated as ‘indirect criminal contempt’ [think of someone going home and refusing to obey a court order after they leave]. The courts have long held that those accused of contemptuous conduct are entitled to attorneys for indirect contempt hearings, and that this proceeding was properly considered indirect.

Plank had already served 17 days in jail, when the court reduced his sentence. Since this sentence was overturned on procedural grounds, he could technically be facing a new hearing for indirect contempt, though I doubt anyone wants to go to the trouble and expense of prosecuting a man who already served his time.

Dane Eagle’s DUI Reduced to Reckless Driving

Dane Eagle Mugshot

Dane Eagle Mugshot

State Legistlator Dane Eagle pled out to a reduced charge of reckless driving from his DUI arrest in Tallahassee. That’s not an unusual result on this type of first-time offense, that did not have any egregiously bad facts. Tune in to NBC-2 this evening, as they may run some of my comments on the case. Generally, when a DUI is reduced, there are similar sanctions to a DUI charge, just with a different conviction.

http://www.nbc-2.com/story/25888130/link#.U63MS_ldXVU

What’s the Difference Between the Arrests of Dane Eagle and Trey Radel

  • State Rep. Dane Eagle was arrested for DUI last week in Tallahassee
  • Frmr Congressman Trey Radel was arrested for purchasing cocaine last year in Washington, D.C.
  • Radel resigned his position in Congress and spent time in rehab
Dane Eagle Mugshot

Dane Eagle Mugshot

Another arrest of a local politician brings criminal matters to the coffee shops around Southwest Florida. People I talk to generally agree that Trey Radel’s resignation from Congress was the right thing to do, but there doesn’t seem to be the level of anger regarding Dane Eagle’s DUI arrest. Though it doesn’t help that Eagle was recently quoted as saying that elected officials need to be held “to a higher standard”.

Legally, the offenses are not greatly different in terms of severity. Both charges are classified as misdemeanors, which are generally considered minor type offenses. Neither of them have been charged with felonies, as was former Lee County commissioner Tammy Hall. Neither offense would affect their civil rights, and neither has mandatory incarceration, though it could be a possibility, as they are criminal offenses. In fact, both charges carry a maximum 180 days in jail as a potential penalty in their respective jurisdictions. They are technically equivalent offenses. However, the nature of the offenses give people different reactions.

Many people feel more strongly about the cocaine charge, because the stigma of hard drugs, and the potential professional implications on a user, especially if abuse becomes a problem. That said, alcohol abuse can become a problem. There was information that Radel’s use had been ongoing, but at this time there is no evidence that the allegations against Eagle, which are still just allegations, are anything more than a one-time incident. In Florida, Radel’s charge would have been taken much more seriously. Any controlled substance possession is a felony, with exception of a small amount of marijuana. Purchase is actually an enhanced charge, and as a second degree felony, could be subject to 15 years in prison. Washington, D.C. does not consider a personal amount to be so serious.

Ironically, Eagle’s DUI in Florida could be considered more serious, as there are more mandatory minimum obligations for DUI offenses, including higher fines, community service, driver’s license suspensions, and classes that have to be taken if he is convicted. Radel will avoid even receiving a conviction if he completes his probation: that’s not available if Eagle ends up pleading or being found guilty of DUI. Also, many people consider DUI more serious because it puts other people at risk. He could have killed someone if he was driving under the influence, while personal use drug possession does not have the disregard for others associated with DUI.

Possible Eagle Photo on Instagram

Possible Eagle Photo on Instagram

Also worth noting is the way each conducted himself when detained by cops. Radle was completely cooperative and apologetic, immediately taking responsibility for his actions. Eagle denied having anything to drink, despite the officers description of an odor of alcohol, stumbling, and a bad driving pattern. Also, a picture has surfaced on social media that appears to be Eagle drinking from an oversized beer stein, and shark-tank.com estimates was posted Sunday evening before the arrest. That would not prove he was impaired, which he is still entitled to have heard in court before judgment is passed. Frankly, any misdemeanor charge is unlikely to reflect such a serious offense as to end someone’s career: their ability to do their job should be decided on actual merit.

More reading, with details on arrest: https://crimcourts.wordpress.com/2014/04/23/dane-eagle-arrested-charged-with-dui/

Dane Eagle Arrested, Charged with DUI

  • State Rep Dane Eagle (Cape Coral), arrested for DUI
  • Prosecutors will make a filing decision in the next few weeks
  • Eagle refused Field Sobriety Exercises and a Breath Test
Dane Eagle Mugshot

Dane Eagle Mugshot

Dane Eagle was pulled over at 1:50 a.m. Monday morning by officers in Tallahassee, where he is currently representing Cape Coral for the ongoing legislative session. He was pulled over after coming out of a Taco Bell. No word on whether the officer was deliberately targeting Taco Bell… Eagle has been charged with DUI: driving under the influence to the extent that his normal faculties are impaired. He is innocent until proven guilty, and has released a statement to the News-Press claiming that there is not a “clear and accurate picture” of events.

The Huffington Post points out that Eagle recently statedWe need to be as elected officials held to a higher standard” relating to his sponsoring of a bill to require legislators to submit to drug testing. The arresting officer indicates that Eagle refused to take a breath test, in addition to refusing to submit to field sobriety exercises when he was pulled over. Eagle claimed to have nothing to drink, but the officer alleges he detected a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage when Eagle spoke to him, and that he did not detect the odor in Eagle’s vehicle after he got out. That’s what looks worst for Eagle: if he was telling the truth and had not had anything to drink, why didn’t he take the breath test? An officer could be mistaken about an odor of alcohol, but blowing .000 would prove whether he’d had anything to drink.

The officer further alleges that Eagle nearly struck the curb a couple of times before he pulled him over, and that Eagle was speeding. He finally pulled Eagle over after he allegedly ran a red light, without braking. The officer said Eagle was swaying, and stumbled into the door of his vehicle when he tried to walk.

While he has not been convicted yet, the state can make a consciousness of guilt argument. When Eagle was asked to take the breath test, he was informed of the consequences: a one-year driver’s license suspension. So, the prosecutor can argue that even though Eagle knew they were going to take his driver’s license, he still refused the breath test. That’s not the behavior of someone who had nothing at all to drink.

Eagle has defenses to work with, so a conviction is not a foregone conclusion. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to point out how difficult the case is to prove. Since Eagle didn’t do any exercises, the State is short on proof that his normal faculties are impaired. Since he is facing criminal charges, Eagle cannot really respond in full to the allegations, but he will likely dispute some of the details of the officer’s statement. The officer apparently recorded the incident, so the case will really depend on how bad Eagle looks on the video.

The case is a long way from a possible trial, the prosecutor will have some time to make a filing decision, then it’s usually a couple of months before a case resolves. The case may still be pending when Eagle’s primary come around for his seat: he faces a Republican challenger Jim Roach. Eagle’s father is currently in Federal prison for fraud charges related to land deals in Lee County. We have covered Greg Eagle’s case extensively on this blog.

Taco Bell continues to be ground zero for DUI busts:

DUI Checkpoint at Taco Bell?

DUI Checkpoint at Taco Bell?

Full article, statment, and report on News-Press: http://www.news-press.com/story/news/politics/2014/04/22/rep-dane-eagle-of-cape-coral-charged-with-dui/7999339/