Get ready to dig a little deeper.
Get ready to dig a little deeper.
If only the public knew how easy it is for a cop to frame someone for drunk driving….say, a cop who has a quota to meet or is bucking for promotion. See, for example, some of my earlier posts: 79 DUI Cases Thrown Out: False Police Reports, DUI Reports Falsely Certified by Arresting Cops and Pre-Written DUI Arrest Reports: A Smoking Gun.
The only thing unusual about this news article is that this cop was caught…and then covered up.
Memo Suggest Utah Trooper Steed Was Falsifying Arrest Reports
Salt Lake City, UT. Oct. 11, 2012 – A supervisor warned in 2010 that Utah Highway Patrol Cpl. Lisa Steed, who is under investigation by her own agency, was frequently arresting people for driving under the influence of drugs who had no drugs in their systems.
The supervisor, Sgt. Rob Nixon, wrote a memorandum discussing the questionable arrests and implying Steed was falsely accusing drivers of impairment. Nixon wrote the memo after reviewing 20 of Steed’s arrests for drug DUIs….
"This is something that needs to be addressed before defense attorneys catch on and her credibility along with the DUI squad’s credibility is compromised," Nixon wrote.
A UHP spokesman declined to comment on the memo Wednesday.
"We’re considering that a protected document so we’re not at liberty to discuss the document," said Dwayne Baird, the spokesman…
The memo is "extraordinary," said Joseph Jardine, a Salt Lake City defense attorney who earlier this year successfully petitioned a judge to gain access to Steed’s discipline record. Jardine said the memo was not included in the records he viewed. The Salt Lake Tribune showed Jardine and Skordas the memo Tuesday.
Jardine said the memo shows the UHP hid Steed’s problems from defense lawyers. Legal precedent requires prosecutors also to have been aware of the memo and disclose it to defendants, Jardine said.
"That’s crazy," Jardine said of withholding the memo. "That’s exactly contrary to what the law requires them to do."…
Incredible! The supervising cop wrote a secret departmental memo saying that they need to do something "before defense attorneys catch on and her credibility…is compromised." Never mind the innocent people arrested and convicted: the important thing is that this dirty cop's credibility isn't compromised!
But there's more to this story — from five years earlier…
Trooper of the Year Named
Salt Lake City, UT. Nov. 12, 2007 — Utah Highway Patrol Officer Lisa Steed is the Utah Highway Patrol's new Trooper of the Year. The Utah Department of Public Safety made the announcement after Steed made more than 200 DUI arrests this year…
Sgt. Shane Nordfelt is Steed's immediate supervisor with UHP. Nordfelt says the award is in recognition of outstanding police work and a community-based approach to public service…
Nordfelt called her ''a little ball of fire and energy."
Fellow troopers say Steed has a remarkable record of police work. In her five-year career, she's made more than 750 arrests for driving under the influence of a controlled substance, and more than 1,200 total arrests.
Thus far in 2007, Steed has stopped more than 2,000 cars.
No comment necessary….
(Thanks to Ari Weiner and Joe.)
In today’s news, another cop caught drunk driving and hiding behind the Blue Wall….
Judge Lets Off Statie Chased by Officers
Boston, MA. July 17 — The state police captain who yesterday admitted prosecutors had enough to prove he was guilty of leading Saugus cops on a late-night chase could be back patrolling Bay State highways in days after a judge gave him a break, state police and prosecutors say.
A Lynn District Court judge continued motor vehicle charges against Capt. Thomas McCarthy without a finding, meaning if the 47-year-old superior officer keeps his nose clean for six months, the charges will be wiped from his record…
Prosecutors had sought drunken driving charges against McCarthy, of Stoneham, after police said he smelled of booze and had an open beer in his cruiser when police stopped him on Route 1 in Saugus on Nov. 19, but a clerk magistrate said there was “insufficient evidence,” because cops never performed a field sobriety test.
Further information was provided in another newspaper article today:
….Saugus Police Officer James Scott’s report said McCarthy led Scott and other officers on a pursuit down Route 1 and in Saugus on Nov. 19, 2011. Scott noticed the smell of alcohol on McCarthy’s breath, according to Scott’s report, and officers found an empty beer bottle and two unopened bottles in what State Police last November described as McCarthy’s unmarked cruiser…
Scott wrote in his report that he spotted a black sedan “cross over the center yellow line on numerous occasions” on Central Street just before 11 p.m. last Nov. 19.
The car’s driver did not initially pull over when Scott activated his cruiser lights, but subsequently pulled over on Main Street, according to the report.
Scott recognized McCarthy and “could smell the odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath,” according to the report.
Scott asked McCarthy to get out of the car at which point McCarthy told him, “You’ve got to be kidding me, I’m outta here,” according to the report.
Scott and two other Saugus police cruisers pursued McCarthy onto Route 1 and into Square One Mall near Sears, where McCarthy stopped. McCarthy, according to reports, did not initially follow Scott’s orders to throw his keys out of the car.
After he got out of the car, McCarthy refused, according to Scott, to put one arm behind his back. Scott grabbed McCarthy’s right arm and pulled him to the ground, according to the report…
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the double standard known as the "Blue Code", see a few of my past posts: The Blue Cover-Up, Guarding the Guardians, The DUI Double Standard and Crossing the Thin Blue Line.
I’ve mentioned in past posts that the right to jury trial does not exist in some states for citizens accused of drunk driving. See, for example, The Disappearing Right to Jury Trial – in DUI Cases, Through a Glass Darkly: No Jury Trial in DUI Cases and New Law: No Right to Jury Trial in DUI Cases. This may come as a shock to many out there, but it’s pretty typical of what I’ve termed "The DUI Exception to the Constitution".
Let me make it clear: in some states today, you can be arrested for DUI, charged, prosecuted and sent to jail for up to six months — without any right to have a jury of fellow citizens decide your guilt or innocence.
One of those states, Arizona, is apparently having second thoughts about denying this basic constitutional right….
Arizona Considers Restoring Jury Trials for DUI
Phoenix, AZ. Feb. 20 — Since the beginning of the year, certain motorists charged with driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) lost their right to a trial by jury in the state of Arizona. A bill signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer (R) on April 29, 2011 rewrote the DUI statute so that only hardcore offenders with previous convictions or "extreme" blood alcohol content readings had the benefit of having their case heard by a jury of their peers, even though the first-time accused faced the prospect of spending six months behind bars.
The law removing the jury trials took effect December 31, but the state House Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted 7-0 to retroactively nullify the provision. Many state lawmakers expressed surprise after learning that they had voted for this language, which local prosecutors have been pushing for several years.
"At the arraignment, the court shall inform the defendant that if the state alleges a prior conviction the defendant may request a trial by jury and that the request, if made, shall be granted," Arizona Code Section 28-1381 now states.
The addition of the phrase "if the state alleges a prior conviction" erased the right to a jury trial for those who stand accused of being first-time, minor offenders. Trial lawyers have been looking to challenge the language before an appellate court.
"It has caused a lot of problems because if you have an extreme DUI and a first-time DUI, the judge hears the DUI case, the jury hears the extreme case," state Representative David Burnell Smith (R-Scottsdale) explained at the hearing Thursday. "If you file a motion, you get the extreme dismissed, you’d still not get a jury trial. It’s confusing out there. There’s constitutional issues, back and forth motions."
Smith’s legislation, House Bill 2284, would delete the language about prior convictions and give every defendant the unilateral right to request a jury trial. The measure is retroactive to December 31 to head off any legal challenges.
"It eliminates a real problem with the courts," Smith said.
Imagine that: citizens accused of DUI may get a jury trial in Arizona. Now, about those other states….
The unavoidable fact is that breath-alcohol testing machines used by law enforcement are unreliable and inaccurate.
See, for example, How Breathalyzers Work (and Why They Don’t), Why Breathalyzers Don’t Measure Alcohol and Report: Breathalyzers Outdated, Unstable, Unreliable. In recent months, there seems to be an increasing recognition of this reality — and increasing instances of massive shut-downs of these machines. Along with this is the uncomfortable reality of thousands of American citizens who have been (and are continuing to be) convicted of drunk driving based upon false evidence.
A few examples from past posts:
400 Wrongly Convicted in Washington: Faulty Breathalyzers (last year)
Attorney General Finds Widespread Breathalyzer Inaccuracies; Police Shut Down All Machines (two months ago)
Inaccurate Breathalyzers Cast Doubt on 1,147 DUI Cases in Philadelphia (one month ago)
Defective Breathalyzers Could Lead to Tossing Out Hundreds of DUI Convictions (2 weeks ago)
And in yesterday’s news….
Vermont’s DUI Breath Testing Program Under Fire
Montpelier, VT. May 15 – A mistake in the software set-up on a breath analysis machine and whistleblowers’ complaints about unethical lab work threaten dozens of drunken-driving prosecutions in Vermont.
At issue are breath tests performed by a DataMaster DMT machine at a Vermont State Police barracks that authorities say wasn’t set up properly. Amid a broadening inquiry by two defense attorneys, dozens of criminal convictions could be reopened and a handful of civil license suspensions are being overturned.
Hundreds of other cases since 2008 could be in jeopardy because of problems with the state Department of Health’s maintenance of the machines that are used at police stations and barracks to test drivers arrested for suspected drunken driving…
(David) Sleigh and fellow defense attorney Frank Twarog obtained copies of complaint letters written last year by two Department of Health whistleblowers who said sloppy and unethical work by a lab colleague had been reported but unaddressed.
First reported on by the Burlington weekly Seven Days, the letters written by chemists Amanda Bolduc and Darcy Richardson were obtained by The Associated Press through a Public Records Act request.
The Health Department withheld from The AP 16 emails dealing with the DataMaster issue. Assistant Attorney General Margaret Vincent asserted attorney-client privilege or "attorney work product" as the reason.
The whistleblowers’ complaints allege that laboratory technician Steven Harnois tampered with DataMaster machines to get them to pass routine performance checks and kept records so badly that it compromised the chemists’ ability to testify in court about readings.
"I have concerns in his level of integrity and ethics," Bolduc said. "These concerns have been brought to the attention of the program chief on numerous occasions, and still the problem exists," she wrote. Whenever she raised concerns, her boss retaliated against her for it, she said.
From Wikipedia’s definition of "pseudoscience":
Pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status. Pseudoscience is often characterized by the use of vague, exaggerated or unprovable claims, an over-reliance on confirmation rather than rigorous attempts at refutation, a lack of openness to evaluation by other experts, and a general absence of systematic processes to rationally develop theories.
I’ve posted repeatedly in the past about so-called "DUI Super Cops". These are officers who rack up record numbers of drunk driving arrests — and are rewarded with MADD awards, departmental awards, promotions and astronomical overtime pay for court testimony. See, for example, Super Cops…and Super Cons, How To Be a DUI Super Cop, Another DUI Super Cop and The Latest DUI Super Cop.
Cop Arrests Biker With Cerebral Palsy for DUI
Salt Lake City, UT. Nov. 9 – A Utah man who suffers from cerebral palsy, epilepsy and other disabilities was stopped while riding a motorized bicycle and charged with DUI after admitting he takes medication.
As CBS Affiliate KUTV correspondent Chris Jones reports, Mike Tilt was pulled over by Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Lisa Steed on October 28 and asked to take a field sobriety test.
Tilt, whose left leg is shorter than his right, told the officer that he would likely fail the test (which requires him to put one foot in front of the other), and he did. Tilt told Steed he did not have a driver’s license – he’d given it up 15 years before due to his seizures.
After asking Tilt if he took medication for his epilepsy, she handcuffed him.
According to Tilt, when he asked if he were being arrested, Steed replied, "Yeah, for DUI."
Ironically, Tilt had forgotten to take his medication that night.
In defending the trooper’s actions, Utah Highway Patrol told KUTV that many people drive under the influence of prescription medications.
They also praised Steed, who was named Trooper of the Year in 2007 for her arrests of drivers suspected of being under the influence. Over the past eight she has made nearly 800 DUI arrests, roughly half that in 2009 alone…
Tilt’s daughter, Courtney Tilt, told Jones, "If she’s proud of taking in an epileptic patient for a DUI, I don’t know what to think of her and her character."
But further investigation by KUTV found cases where Steed was chastised by judges for allegedly disregarding UHP procedures, in one instance calling her actions "especially troubling." Another judge said she "lacks credibility."
In some instances (though not in Tilt’s case) Steed conducted field sobriety tests out of view of her police car’s dashboard camera, counter to UHP policy.
Defense attorney Glen Neeley, who has represented several people stopped by Steed, said to Jones that Steed’s goal is to pull over as many people as possible with the goal of making DUI arrests.
After KUTV began looking into Steed’s record, UHP contacted the station, telling them they’d started their own inquiry of the trooper’s actions.
"Was it consistent with what we’re trying to do with our overall perspective of DUI enforcement and review of it? No, it wasn’t," Capt. Mike Rapich told the station of the Tilt case. "This individual is not to be prosecuted for DUI."
So Tilt is off the hook – but so is Steed. UHP stands behind Steed’s other DUI arrests, saying they "conform to prescribed procedure and the law."
Whatever happened to ethics, fairness and plain common sense in drunk driving cases?