Sunday, August 06, 2006


I've flirted with Libertarianism, but have never fully embraced it. I've always considered myself to be a "law and order" conservative, with the understanding that government will leave me largely alone.

I've not converted to Libertarianism, but something has fundamentally changed. I don't trust any government in any branch or shape. Let me explain:

On December 30th, 2005, I was advised by a subcontractor that there was a job that I was working on carried a considerable amount of suspicious white substance. In a short frame of time I consulted people of my own profession, lawyers, and my father. The consensus was that I needed to contact the authorities and take my cues from them.

As such, I called a Sheriff's deputy whom with I had worked on a previous drug case. He advised me that he would contact dispatch and that I needed to meet the unit on site. I dispatched with all possible haste.

At this point, let me state that I had been up drinking the night before. None of my friends wanted to be riding around over the weekend, so we did the deed early. This was the Friday before New Year's and we were planning to hold our Christmas office party. Cut out early, 6 foot sub, etc.

I arrived at the site about 10:00 AM. The dispatched unit beat me there by 30 seconds. I left the car and introduced myself to the officer. I presented him with a business card and tried to state the nature of the situation. He asked what authority I was operating under and I answered as well as I could.

The subcontractor had advised me that the substance was in a shed. I proceeded to the nearest one and it was locked. At that point, the officer asked me if I had been drinking or was under the influence of drugs. I advised him that I had drank the night before, but was not under the influence, and that I was not "on drugs."

At this point the Deputy put his hand on his Glock and asked me, again, if I was on drugs. I answered "No."

I told the deputy that the substance was probably in one of the other 3 sheds on the property. He told me to lead and that he would follow, while calling in Police codes on his 2-way. There was a contractor crew present and I asked them if they knew where the substance was. Unfortunately, none of them spoke English.

Eventually, we found the right shed and the substance in question. The deputy opened up a bag and began dicing it with my Driver's License (which was confiscated.) He advised that if the substance was cocaine, it would probably be valued at $12,000-$15,000. He also related that cocaine does not cake like flour. Apparently, it remains flaky. He told me he was sorry, but that he had called a DUI unit. He also advised that a mobile lab would be there to test the substance. After that, he lectured me on the Fourth Amendment and the fact that Chain of Custody would prevent charges against anyone.

After a bit, another Sheriff showed up. By now, I was scared shitless because I thought they wanted to link me to the drugs. I was nervous and shaky and the officer was not exactly encouraging. They like to take down DUIs during the holidays, from my experience.

I failed every single field sobriety test they ran me through.

Cuffs, in the car, down to the station.

Long story short, about 3 hours. 2 Breathalyzers and a blood sample. BAC came back at .03 (it was a bad hangover.) Toxicology came back with a single prescription drug, which, even if combined with alcohol, does not have the ability to impair. These results took 6 months.

In the meantime, I made a complaint. BS.

As of June, I am under indictment for DUI (note that my blood was .03 and the threshold is .08). I've made one court appearance so far, and may have several more to go. No DA ever looked at this file as the complaint was signed by the deputy alone.

Finally, in my job's requirements, I need to gain public records. I order Police reports all the time. I've been able to pull the report on my DUI arrest but I've never found the suspicious substance report that should have corresponded to the same address.

This was a bit of a breaking point for me. I've always abided by laws and have cooperated with police in numerous investigations.

My trust in government is gone.

But I'm still not a Libertarian.

I'm getting there myself, especially seeing how the Republicans seem to be acting more like Democrats these days. My guiding philosophy is less government intrustion in our lives, period.

What I see as a lawyer is that prosecutors and police have far too much power, and they abuse the hell out of it. Yours is a perfect case in point. This case should have never been brought. If the slimeball DA's had an ounce of integrity and weren't worried about their records, they would dismiss the case. Instead, they will force you to spend a lot of money trying the case, in an attempt to get you to plea out. Yeah, they really are that crooked.

You made 2 mistakes in my opinion, and you've already figured them out, so sorry if I sound like I'm harping on you. I'm not, but this sort of thing just infuriates me, and hopefully somebody can learn from this. One, you trusted the police to do the right thing and not regard you as some sort of suspect. Remember, they are ALWAYS the enemy, and will treat you as such. My opinion of the police as an institution has lessened since I've dealt with them on a day-to-day basis. Second, you provided them with rope to hang you with. Under no circumstances are you required to give them any help, i.e. taking field sobriety tests. What your lawyer will probably tell you is that the breathalyzer doesn't control. If the officer thinks you are drunk, he can charge you, and that officer's opinion can stand up in court. In my state, the breath result will be used as evidence that you did have alcohol in your system, and the officer will testify that he thought you were impaired. The prosecutor will argue that you couldn't handle your liquor, and that you were drunk even though you were under the legal limit. The bastards are sneaky that way. If you don't already have one, get you a very good criminal defense lawyer. Fast.

I used to be a try-em and fry-em kind of a guy. I still am to some extent, but duce process of law still has to be observed. I have a healthy respect for criminal defense lawyers now, and I realize they are the ones that really fight to see that our Bill of Rights actually has some teeth to it. I have actually come across several clients who have been in your situation, or worse. These people are actually innocent, but they are ground up by the system and usually forced to plead their cases, just to avoid the cost of a trial, or the possibility they will get a worse deal from a jury.

The sad truth is that prosecutors aren't out for justice, they are out to pad their conviction records. And none of them have ever presumed someone innocent. Period. I've dealt with them in several jurisdictions, and I hate them more and more each place I go. This is the sort of thing that I see all the time. The police are after good, easy cases they can get convictions on, because let's face it, they never seem to solve the big ones. So they'll arrest everyone they THINK is drunk, or carrying pot, or anything else.

I'm up late working on a DWI case where my client didn't blow, didn't do a sobriety test, and was still arrested. Plus, the case was brought past the statute of limitations. You think the DA is going to do what he's ethically bound to do and dismiss the case? No way.

I'm sick of the abuses that I see perpetrated by government, and I'm sick of what lawyers have done to the system to perpetuate these abuses. If that makes me a libertarian, I'll wear that label. Just leave the government out of my life. Strange talk for an attorney, I guess. But that's where I am these days.

Yours is a most interesting case in point. It can happen to ANYONE out there. Never mind your political affiliation, how many tickets to the Policeman's Ball you've bought, or anything. Your whole history as a law-abiding citizen doesn't count for jack at this point. Once you are arrested, you're presumed guilty. I may sound paranoid, but it's happening in every district in America. I've seen it.

Keep us informed on how your case goes. I'll be praying for you.
Oh yeah. Another thing. Special interest groups are responsible for this. MADD in particular. In no way do I advocate DWI. However, I don't really think that lowering the BAL to .08 did anything but increase the court dockets nationwide. MADD is a highly powerful lobby, with incredible emotional weapons to bring to bear on lawmakers. They want the BAL level lowered to .06 nationwide now, and they'll keep campaigning to get it down further. Sounds like gun control groups a bit, doesn't it???

Basically, you can't have a social drink and drive, period. If you are stopped, here's where you will end up. No exceptions, unless you happen to be friends with the cop that stopped you.

OK, I'm through ranting. I apologize for spewing my vehemence on your comments site. But this issue is one that is near and dear to my heart, and I'm worried about the trend that I have observed since entering the practice of law.

Thanks for the support. Christ, I think that comment was longer than the post.

You are wholly right, in that, I made mistakes that will never happen again. I'm now convinced that carrying a mini-cassette recorder in your vehicle is not a bad idea.

The other one: don't trust them. If you are near a government employee, don't say shit and don't do shit. In fact, just get the hell away from them. Secret to a long, happy life.

I had no idea this pissed you off so much. You ought to build on this and do one of those ass-kicking essay posts that I have never been able to come up with.

Thanks and regards,

My experience has varied. I've been very impressed with the integrity of the street cops I've encountered in various legal situations, but aside from traffic stops, that's a grand total of three. I've dealt with far more office-bound state regulators and denizens of AG's offices -- and one IRS agent. The regulators seem to vary based on geography. Those in Western states -- even California! -- seem to be reasonable and will work with a business to help it be in compliance and will excuse minor infractions done from ignorance or an employee's malfeasance (provided you fire the employee and take corrective measures). But go east (to, say, Georgia) and you run into complete jerks of the kind you describe.

Then there's my company's IRS agent experience, where the asshole walked in and essentially suggested we "settle" (the IRS' version of pleading out) before he'd even looked at any of our records or examined any facts.

Come to think of it, my wife was audited many years back when she was still single, and when she went in for the audit, the jerk tried to set her up on a date with his son in exchange for dropping everything.

As far as I'm concerned, once bitten, twice shy. So even though there are probably some great cops and ethical regulators out there, I'll never put my well-being or that of my employer in jeapordy by trusting a single one of them. Which sucks, but that's the way it is.
Just ran across your blog and this story of yours jumped out at me.

I'm a little scared to relate how I lost any respect for the system because I was guilty and admitted it.

I worked pipeline in Texas so we couldn't work when it was raining. Time to goto the bar. I was speeding out in the middle of nowhere headed home.I got pulled over. I admit that I was drunk now and I admitted it then.However, the DA decided to add a 'use of a deadly weapon' charge onto the DUI. She said since I drove a car drunk the car was a deadly weapon. There was no wreck, no damage or nothing. A cop put on his lights behind me so I pulled over.

I would not plead guilty to the use of a deadly weapon so went to jury.I had pleaded guilty of the DUI so all the jury had to decide was if I used a deadly weapon. I got 8 years aggrivated. Served my time.

Now I know that you may as well run from the cops and cause as much damage as possible but do not cooperate.
The last comment is really illustrative of how the system is working nowadays. Elmer, you must have been in the Panhandle somewhere. The DA throws ridiculous charges like that on people, and they end up sticking. While I thank the conservative juries in this state when I try a personal injury case from the defense side, I curse them heartily when I defend a criminal case, for just that reason.

The DA's don't back down on stuff like this because they know if they can get it to a jury, their odds of sticking a conviction are much greater. And their fame and fortune is tied to their conviction rates, so you really can't get very good deals in this state.

Bottom line, if you see the system coming at you in the guise of the police, don't do anything to help them. They want you in jail. Pure and simple. The district attorneys are not out for justice, they are out for convictions. Juries want to hang you. They've rarely seen an innocent man. No jury person wants to be seen as soft on crime. So they "send a message" every time they get on a panel.

Further example: I've interviewed with several district attorneys' offices. I've had all sorts of trial experience, not to mention criminal experience. You'd think I'd be a shoe-in. I was always asked one question: Would I refuse to dismiss a case, even though I didn't have enough evidence to get a conviction, just to force a guy I thought was a bad character to accept a plea? My answer every time was: no way. The oath you take as a prosecutor forbids you from doing anything that slimy. You are supposed to dismiss the case, under the logic that it's better to let 10 guilty people free rather than hang one innocent man.

Think I got the jobs? Nope. I found out later that my answer to those questions was; in fact, what kept me from getting hired.

It's not about justice. And it's really not the system that's broken. It's the rat bastards that run the system. If the DA's were honest, and upholding the rule of law and the Constitution, none of these things should happen. It's about politics and job security for those in power, and it's getting worse.

It's that reason alone that I think term limits for every elected official, from dogcatcher on up to the President, should be the rule of the land. Our founders never anticipated a class of professional politicians, and worked really hard to prevent that from happening. But that's what we have nowadays, and unless we the people get fired up and start running these bums out of office, we are killing ourselves.

Boy, I'm verbose on this subject, aren't I???

Voting Libertarian yet?
I should not have written that last line in my comment

"Now I know that you should run from the cops and cause as much damage as possible"

Thats not how I feel or believe.A man should never cause trouble for people who have nothing to do with a situation that was of my own making.Also, the local yocal cop that pulled me over got on the witness stand and said nothing but the truth of what happened. That he pulled me over for speeding and found out I was drunk. It was the DA and the state highway patrol special DUI taskforce that the local cop had to call that started making things up.

Unfortionately the local cop left the force after the trail. The owner of the company I worked for was friends with him and told me the local guy couldn't believe how the whole thing exploded.

Sorry for the off topic comments.
"And it's really not the system that's broken. It's the rat bastards that run the system."

Dude, it's the system. The system allows the rat bastards to persist. The system covers up for the rat bastards. And when a rat bastard is punished the system pretends it's a rare occurance.
I disagree somewhat. I have studied the system itself, both in undergrad and law school. Our Constitution is pretty much a remarkable document. The safeties, policies, and procedures that it created are the best in the world. Unfortunately, it has a small flaw. It relies on people to do the right thing, and that's where the breakdown comes in.

If cops were honest and forthright, this situation would not have happened. If prosecutors were honest and forthright, and did what they are supposed to do in these situations, this would never have happened.

You've got to have a system to be civilized. Ours is the best anybody has come up with in human history. It's the people that are pretty much rotten to the core. No system can work when its heart is rotten. And any system's heart is the people who run it.
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