October 27, 2009

Highway 15 a Fertile Ground for DUI Arrests

The stretch of Interstate Highway 15 from Las Vegas to Ontario is a fertile ground for police to issue speeding tickets, DUI arrests and other driving-related citations.

Barstow CA DUI attorney Robert Little says that many of the DUI arrests result in prosecution at the Victorville, Barstow and Fontana courthouses. "Most are Southern Californians heading to Vegas and starting the party early. Or people coming home from Vegas too soon after the party."

Aside from the drunk drivers, this stretch of Highway 15 is dangerous for other reasons. Long straight-aways entice drivers to speed, sometimes in excess of 100 MPH. Many parts of the highway are poorly lit at night, and prone to weather conditions throughout the year. Road construction and a congestion of big rigs also add to the situation.

Little says the CHP and local police are stepping up patrol and cracking down on speeding and DUI. He advises drivers to and from Vegas to stay sober and drive at a reasonable speed.

October 26, 2009

Judges Order CA to Reduce Prison Population

The California prison population will experience a 27% decrease over the next two years, or at least that’s the plan. A panel of federal judges recently ordered the state of California to reduce its prison population of 150,000 down to about 110,000, citing overcrowding in prisons as resulting in inadequate health care for inmates. California has a period of 45 days to devise a plan for reducing the prisoner population.

According to The New York Timess, “in these overcrowded conditions, inmate-on-inmate violence is almost impossible to prevent, infectious diseases spread more easily, and lockdowns are sometimes the only means by which to maintain control.” In response, The Los Angeles Times reports that “the governor and most legislative leaders back a plan that would reduce prison populations by as many as 37,000 over the next two years using a combination of early releases, changes in parole policies and shifting some prisoners to county jails.” It has also been recommended that the number of incarcerated, nonviolent offenders should be decreased, inciting anger amongst and objection from law enforcement and victims’ rights groups.

Previous plans to reduce the prison population in California seemed to be more concerned over helping reduce the state budget and less concerned with the well-being of prisoners. Critics of reduction for any sort of reason cite public safety as being compromised if prisoners, even if they are nonviolent offenders, are released back into the general population. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the judges ordering the reduction believe that “by changing parole practices and releasing some low-risk inmates to local custody, treatment programs or electronic monitoring, the prison population can be reduced without a meaningful adverse impact on public safety.”

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October 21, 2009

Jackson Doctor Administered Lethal Dose

According to The Washington Post, Michael Jackson was administered a deadly dosage of propofol, an anesthetic drug that a personal physician was administering to the entertainer as a sedative to help him sleep. Though the anesthetic is not recommended for home use, particularly since necessary equipment needed for life-saving measures are not typically found within the confines of a private home, the anesthetic was given to Jackson nevertheless.

Conflicting stories paint the scene of Jackson’s final moments, with authorities questioning the amount of propofol used on the singer, and trying to ascertain whether any criminal activity took place that ultimately lead to Jackson being administered the drugs in the first place. Though numerous prescriptions were found in Jackson’s home, many prescribed by the very personal physician that administered the supposedly lethal injection of propofol, there were no prescription labels associated with the anesthetic, forcing many investigators to ask exactly where Jackson acquired it from and who was responsible for providing it to him.

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October 14, 2009

Veteran Officer Sentenced for Making Threats

According to a recent report on nbclosangeles.com, a former Los Angeles police officer was sentenced to over four years in state prison for Penal Code 422 criminal threats charges. The officer, a 39-year-old, 10-year veteran of the LAPD was the recipient of numerous commendations during his tenure with the department. However, while the officer was off-duty, he brandished his gun at the Redondo Beach Pier, threatening another man by pointing the weapon at the man’s head.

Under California law, a person commits Penal Code 422 criminal threats when he communicates a threat of serious harm to another person, intending to put the person in fear, and the person does reasonably become in sustained fear. The offense may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony.

The judge ruled that the sentencing was fair, given the former officer’s history. However, according to the officer’s attorney, this incident should have warranted a probationary sentence, not prison time. In lieu of circumstances, specifically that the officer has since been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, is currently on medication to correct his behavior, and has stopped drinking alcohol, it was believed by defense counsel that the man is no longer any sort of threat to society, and therefore should not be confined to a prison cell as a result.

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October 7, 2009

LAPD Perjury Case Should Make Us All More Critical of Police Testimony

Three LAPD officers were charged with perjury Tuesday based on a videotape that surfaced contradicting their testimony about seeing a suspect toss a baggie of cocaine. The video also appears to depict the officers agreeing to "doctor" their police report to implicate the suspect wrongly.

No one knows the extent to which police lie in their reports and testimony. But thousands of people get convicted each year based on uncorroborated police testimony. Prosecutors, judges and juries often accept officers' stories uncritically, assuming their word should always be believed over that of criminal suspects.

Had a hidden camera not captured the truth in this case, the defendant likely would have been wrongfully convicted. As it is, the judge dismissed the case after the video surfaced at trial.

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October 6, 2009

Suspects Wrongfully Accused of Lewd Conduct at Elysian Park

The LAPD is making an increasing number of arrests at Elysian Park for Penal Code 647(a) Lewd Conduct in Public. Most of the arrests involve undercover decoy officers posing as gay men cruising at the park. When an unsuspecting gay visitor cruises or propositions one of the decoys, officers move in and make an arrest.

Penal Code 647(a) makes it a misdemeanor in California to touch your private parts, or those of another person, in public in a situation where you know or should know of the presence of third parties who would be offended by the conduct. The crime is punishable by up to a year of county jail time.

We find that most people arrested for "lewd conduct in public" at Elysian Park (and elsewhere) are innocent and wrongfully accused. Specifically, most gay men who seek to engage in sexual activity in public choose a remote spot. This may be an otherwise empty bathroom or a secluded section of the park. Because there is no one else present who would appear likely to take offense, the conduct, even if sexual in nature, doesn't meet the legal definition of lewd conduct.

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