Elizabeth Daly Settles Lawsuit against Virginia

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In 2013 a University of Virginia student, Elizabeth Daly, was arrested for fleeing police and assault on police.  She had just bought a LaCroix-12PK-PURE12-pack of LaCroix sparkling water and undercover agents of the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control attempted to contact her in the parking lot.

Of course, none had on anything that identified them as police and one of the morons drew his pistol while another of the morons tried to bust in the window.

Naturally Ms. Daly was terrified, believing that she was being attacked by criminals.  So she tried to flee in her SUV, was arrested, and jailed.  The charges were dropped by someone with more sense than the officers and Daly filed suit.

Now the State of Virginia has settled the suit for $212,500 while admitting no wrongdoing.  Yeah, right.

Virginia settled the suit because they had just lost a motion for dismissal based on qualified immunity and a motion to quash a subpoena for the internal investigation conducted over the incident.  First, the court found that the amount of force used exceeded that which would be appropriate for a Terry stop and that the agents would need to show probable cause, not mere reasonable suspicion.  Second, the internal report likely identified the two agents who violated policy and were disciplined by the agency.  Combined, the State could see the writing on the wall and decided to settle.

The agents that thought this was a good idea were Special Agents Lauren Banks, Armon Brown, John Cielakie, Andrew Covey, Jonathan Pine, and Kevin Weatherholtz.  The supervisor present was Special Agent in Charge John Taylor.

The state has since changed its policies and procedures for these type operations, and the entire ABC has been under review, including legislative proposals to strip the agency of its law enforcement function.

Former Texas Trooper takes Guilty Plea

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Kelly Helleson, a former Texas Highway Patrol trooper, took a guilty plea in the case against her for the roadside body cavity search of two women in Irving.  Helleson was charged with two counts of Sexual Assault, but those charges were dropped in return for her pleading guilty to two counts of Official Oppression.  She will serve two years probation and pay a $2,000 fine.  In addition, she lost her peace officer license.  If she violates probation, she will face a year in jail.

The trooper who called her out to do the search, David Ferrell, was indicted for theft by a public servant, but was acquitted of those charges.  He was not fired for his role in the search.

Originally, the Texas DPS-Highway Patrol did not take the allegations seriously and threatened to file charges on the victims.  The victims then filed a lawsuit, settling for $185,000.

 

Magistrate Judge B. Dwight Goains and Judical Abuse of Rights

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If you value the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, you may want to avoid landing in U.S. Magistrate Judge B. Dwight Goains’ courtroom.  He apparently believes that he is in the business of being an advocate for the government, including coercing witnesses and violating federal law on bond conditions.

This has been reported by Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice, the Texas Monthly, and Eugene Volokh at the Volokh Conspiracy (now part of WaPo).  I will not be able to summarize the law better than they can, but suffice it to say that this country has a major problem, and it is caused by the war on drugs.

The DEA was looking for synthetic marijuana.  So they raid a commercial business, run by two ladies, with a full SWAT team.  Really?  Why?  They can’t go up and serve a warrant and search?  I’ve done that numerous times where there wasn’t a need for SWAT.

Do we want armed officers and federal agents threatening to shot a resident when they ask to see a warrant?  Especially since the agents broke into his home next to the tobacco shop without a warrant?  And then tell the resident that they don’t need an f***ing warrant?

They also claim that they didn’t do anythinneck-injuryg to one of the lady’s neck, and that she had “assaulted” the officer while he was sweeping her feet out from under her.  OK, I hate to break the news to y’all, but that looks exactly like the type of mark which would be left by the butt of an AR, right down to the serrated marks at the base of the bruise.

And if this was a butt stroke, then it is a use of deadly force.  I really have a problem with the fact that a DEA agent would apply a butt stroke to the base of a woman’s neck and then lie about it.

On top of it all, the magistrate judge takes it upon himself to coerce the women into a forced retraction of their allegations against the agents.

This is just outrageous.

Trekkies Win, Collinsville Settles!

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Huff v. Reichert has been settled by Collinsville for $100,000.

After listening to the audio from the arguments at the Seventh Circuit, I understand why they settled.

The panel really questioned the officer’s attorney, doubting almost everything that he said, after pointing out that he had cited a case which had been subsequently overturned.  The exact quote was that the case cited “had been overruled on precisely this ground.” Ouch.  That is not good.  That hurts.  That hurts like watching Mazeroski’s Game 7 walk off home run, if you’re a Yankee’s fan.

And everytime that the attorney stated his position, a judge was shooting it down.  Why did Reichert pat down Huff and his passenger?  What reasonable suspicion did he have?  How does this even begin to be a valid search?  Etc.

I also noticed that Huff’s attorney was only asked one question, not related to the facts of the case.

I think that Huff could have held out for more.

 

 

 

Trekkies to Get Their Day in Court

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In 2011 Terrance Huff and his friend Jon Seaton were driving back to their home in Ohio after attending a Star Trek convention in Saint Louis.  When going through Collinsville, Illinois they were stopped by officer Michael Reichert, allegedly for crossing the centerline.  A few months later Huff posted the officer’s dashcam video, which went viral.

Many of the comments suggested that Huff and Seaton should sue Reichert, which they did.  Reichert moved for dismissal which the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois denied and Reichert filed an interlocutory appeal with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.  See Huff v. Reichert, No. 13-1734, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 4446, 2014 WL 906103 (7th Cir. Mar 10, 2014).

Before I link to the Seventh’s Circuit opinion, let’s look at the traffic stop.

First, the violation is probably BS.  First, there is no video of the violation.  While it is not required, officer’s who are concerned with documenting evidence will turn on the camera and get the violation (most have a buffer that saves the previous 30-60 seconds).  Second, this seems to be a recurring violation used by Reichert.

Second, when the reason for the traffic stop is over, the driver must be free to leave.  Here Reichert asked for consent and Huff denied it, saying that he wanted to leave.  Reichert told him that he could leave, but that the car could not.  Really?  On what grounds?  Because thus far, Reichert hasn’t shown anything even approaching reasonable suspicion, much less probable cause.

Third, during the open air drug sniff, Reichert repeatedly told his dog to “Show me where it’s at! Find it!”Id., at *4, 2014 WL 906103, *2.  Reichert even admitted that this was improper procedure and violated his training.  Well, duh!  He’s telling the dog to alert, which it conveniently does at the front of the car, out of the camera’s vision.  Really?  Gee, I would have thought that the scent of drugs would have been strongest at the doors and windows, not at the radiator.

Fourth, why is an arrest of over 10 years age even relevant?  Besides that, why even run Huff for his criminal history?  It’s just not done on a routine basis.  Sure, officers will check the DL and for warrants, that’s easy.  It is more difficult to run a CCH.  First, it is done separately from a DL/warrants check.  Second, you have to have a valid reason to run it, other than it just being a traffic stop.  Third, a CCH can take forever to return, and if you do get a hit, you have to run it again to get the details.  It just isn’t done on normal traffic stops, but it does explain his comment about the computer running slow.

Fifth, why was Reichert still on the street doing interdiction?  A federal judge had already found that his testimony about having probable cause to search a vehicle was not credible.  United States v. Zambrana, 402 F. Supp. 2d 953 (S.D. Ill. 2005).  OK, I’ll grant you that Collinsville PD fired Reichert in 2006 and the union got his job back.  But why doing K9 drug interdiction?  Isn’t the State’s Attorney Office required to turn over this type of information on officer credibility to the defense?  See Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963).  This seems relevant, especially when you consider that a large part of the reason that Judge Michael Reagan noted that “Reichert thereby engaged in misrepresentation, deceit, and falsification” when he was earlier convicted of a misdemeanor for selling fake Oakley sunglasses.  Id., at 958-59.  Here it is clear that no one trusts Reichert, from the Federal Court to the state Circuit Court to the State’s Attorney to the U.S. Attorney, Radley Balko, Illinois Traffic Stop of Star Trek Fans Raises Concerns about Drug Searches, Police Dogs, Bad Cops, Huffington Post (Mar. 31, 2012, updated Aug. 7, 2013), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/31/drug-search-trekies-stopped-searched-illinois_n_1364087.html.

This is a disaster waiting to happen, at least to the taxpayers of Collinsville.  In the meanwhile, the police chief is standing behind Reichert.  This may be due to Reichert being the Officer of the Month in 2011.  The reason?  His good work in drug interdiction.

Of course, we’ll see what the city does next.

The court opinion is here.

See also:

Update – Springdale Police Officer Sentenced to Prision

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Earlier I had written about Springdale police officer Mark Thom, his abuse of local citizens, and the city council that enabled him.

Last week Thom was sentenced to prison for a year and a day, and then to 3 years probation following release.  U.S. District Judge Mark Hornak told Thom that he would never serve as a police officer again.

The former police chief Joseph Naviglia said that Thom is “a habitual liar and a very conniving and manipulative person.”  Naviglia also said that the city council protected and covered up for Thom.  You’ll remember that I pointed this out in my past article.

Springdale has had to pay out $225,000 in the incident leading to the criminal charges, and $98,500 in a separate case.  But I guess Dave Finley doesn’t care about that either.

Frisco, Texas Police fail Free Speech Test

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This is from Frisco, Texas, a suburb of Dallas.

In the news video, the reporter quotes the police report, where the officer states that Ron Martin was “interfering” with his speeding enforcement duties.  It is clear that the officer would have preferred to charge Martin with Interference with Public Duties, which read:

“(a) A person commits an offense if the person with criminal negligence interrupts, disrupts, impedes, or otherwise interferes with:  (1) a peace officer while the peace officer is performing a duty or exercising authority imposed or granted by law. . . .”  Tex. Pen. Code Ann. § 38.15 (Vernon).
The report language tracks the statute, which is how officers are taught to write the report.  It is also clear that the officer could not get past the free speech part of the statute.  It provides not just one, but two defenses.
“(c) It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (a)(1) that the conduct engaged in by the defendant was intended to warn a person operating a motor vehicle of the presence of a peace officer who was enforcing Subtitle C, Title 7, Transportation Code.
(d) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the interruption, disruption, impediment, or interference alleged consisted of speech only.”  Tex. Pen. Code Ann. § 38.15 (Vernon)
So since they couldn’t charge him with a Class B misdemeanor, they came up with another BS charge, violation of the city’s sign ordinance, Frisco, Tex. Sign Ordinance, 11-01-04 (Jan. 4, 2011), which is only a Class C misdemeanor, normally handled by a ticket and not an arrest.  This ordinance is fairly short, but creates a regulation which is over 50 pages long.  Originally the city argued that the person holding the sign had to be on private property.
This is clearly an attempt to regulate speech by content, based on the city’s reactions to other people carrying signs.  If it is a sign protesting Obama, no problem.  Note that this person was on public property also.

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