Brown & Little, P.L.C. » Police

Watching The Watchers

Recent events in Ferguson, Missouri have drawn a great deal of attention to the issue of police brutality. One idea to address the problem involves equipping all police officers on patrol with body-worn cameras, which people apparently call BWCs. It is beyond me how people are even debating this. Study after study suggests that cops behave better when they wear BWCs. Compared to cops who wear BWCs, cops who do not wear BWCs are involved in many more use-of-force incidents and receive far more complaints. When two jurisdictions right here in Arizona, Mesa and Phoenix, had some of their officers wear BWCs, things were no different. In Mesa, there were 40 percent fewer total complaints and 75 percent fewer use of force complaints for officers with cameras. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Police

You’re Screwed Just The Same

Accomplice liability must be a tough thing to grasp, as I often hear defendants argue about how they shouldn’t be sent to prison for various things because it wasn’t totally their fault. They didn’t kidnap the victims, they just continued to hold them against their will after someone else snatched them. They didn’t assault the victims themselves, they just drove their co-defendants to the victims’ house to do it. I could go on and on. Addressing those sorts of arguments, I sometimes hear prosecutors and judges say that it didn’t matter to the victims who made what decision and who took over which responsibilities; they’re awful crimes, and all participants should face the music. In one case, the prosecutor asked, “do artificial distinctions comfort someone in a … Read entire article »

Filed under: DUI, Police

An Epic Pinal County Scandal

A little more than a week ago, Scott Greenfield wrote a post at Simple Justice about how a deputy at the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office shot an unarmed man in the back despite the fact the man had his hands in the air and was clearly surrendering. If it hadn’t been caught on camera by a bystander, it would never have been news because the sheriff initially lied about the facts, insisted the deputy was justified, and let the deputy return to full duty after only three days of paid administrative leave. Luckily, the footage couldn’t be clearer: CBS 5 – KPHO Scott wrote about the deeper message the sheriff was sending by approving of the officer’s clearly unjustified actions, which is indeed the more important thing to consider. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants, Police, Prosecutors

For Your Protection

I spent some of my afternoon yesterday in traffic court. The criminal counts in a client’s case had been dismissed by the prosecutor, but the civil count remained. The court set it for a civil traffic hearing regarding my client’s alleged violation of A.R.S. 28-964(A). He was charged with riding a motorcycle in Mesa in September while wearing a helmet with the visor up. I’m not so sure that’s illegal. I pulled up to Mesa’s nice new courthouse and parked in their nice new parking garage. When I walked up and opened the heavy metal and glass door, it felt expensive. Inside, I took off my belt and put it in a tray along with everything in my pockets. A few chubby security guards … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Statutes, Bikers' Rights, Courts, Police

Taking The Law Seriously

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has so many policies I can hardly keep them straight. I suspect that few deputy county attorneys even know all of them, as I hear there’s a manual they consult when in doubt. If a defendant files a motion to remand for a new determination of probable case, the policy is apparently to not offer a plea. For certain types of charges, no matter how unique the facts of the case, the offer apparently must involve a prison sentence. Aggravated DUI cases involve a plea to a complicated duo of charges that, quite frankly, makes no sense at all, and repeat offenders get similarly bizarre offers based on a complex and largely arbitrary set of considerations. Most notable, for the purpose of … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants, Legislation, Police, Prosecutors

Stay Classy, Joe

The title comes from Adrian, not me, but it fits. Just the kind of thing you’d expect to see on an official law enforcement vehicle for the sheriff’s office of the fourth largest county in the United States, right? Plastic pink flamingos and junk cars on cinder blocks in the front yard of every county facility are coming soon, I hear. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Police

You Don't Say

I have a tough time not laughing when I think something is funny. I suspect that other people know this and try to make me laugh at inopportune times. Often, they don’t have to try at all. Twice in a row, law enforcement personnel have inadvertently tested my ability to keep a straight face. Given the circumstances, I’m quite proud of myself for suppressing laughter. The first time, I was waiting to get into a maximum security area of a jail after hours. There was some kind of problem with the normal intake area for attorney visits at the facility, so a detention officer had to walk me around the outside of the building to the back entrance for employees. The detention officer was a … Read entire article »

Filed under: Police

More Victims of the Drug War

Local news was filled with stories about Chandler Police officer Carlos Ledesma after he was killed in the line of duty on July 28, 2010. The stories describe a former Marine and Persian Gulf War veteran, a proud father and husband with two young boys. He was shot while conducting an undercover “reversal operation” in Phoenix. From what I’ve read about the case, the facts sound all too familiar. An informant tells the police he has buyers who want to buy a large quantity of marijuana. Police set up a meeting where the informant meets with the buyers and establishes the terms of the deal. The buyers check out a sample of weed provided by officers and prove they have the money. Later, at the … Read entire article »

Filed under: News, Police

Unusual DUIs

I’m a huge fan of Lawrence Taylor’s DUI Blog. His post yesterday was about police charging a man on a bicycle with driving under the influence. He previously put up a post about a lawn mower DUI. The most offensive DUI case I’ve heard is probably this one, where a poor lady was cited for wheel chair DUI. Every time I hear about someone getting charged with DUI on something other than a car, truck, or motorcycle, I marvel at the stupidity of anti-DUI zealots. How dangerous are these drunk bicyclists and lawn mowers? More importantly, how much more dangerous are they than a drunk person without transportation? Do authorities really think they’re protecting the public by prosecuting that lady in her wheel chair? … Read entire article »

Filed under: DUI, Police

Lying Officers on Appeal

When I review evidentiary hearing transcripts for appeals, I cringe when officers opine about what they saw defendants do. Officers are always 100% sure about what was going on, whether their opinions match the facts or not. A lot of the time, an officer’s opinion about what a defendant did can make a defense motion fail. Any movement by a defendant is a “furtive gesture” suggesting he was hiding something. If the defendant says his pants were falling down and he had to pull them up, the cop will say the defendant was trying to hide something in his pants. “There was no good reason for Mr. So-and-So to be pulling up his pants.” The trial court will almost always agree with the officer and find … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants, Police, Post-Conviction

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