Two Sheriff’s Dept. Officers Suspended After Stopping Judge

Macon, Ga. — Two deputies with the Bibb County Sheriff’s office were suspended without pay after stopping a local judge at a checkpoint.

The Sheriff’s Department say the officers stopped Judge Howard Simms, a Bibb County Judge on September 22 during an operation called “Rolling Thunder” for a license check.

The deputies allowed the Judge to drive home even though his breath test showed his alcohol level was above the limit.

A Captain and a sergeant were suspended for 3 days.

Simms, a former district attorney and current Superior Court judge said in a statement that he was entering an in-patient alcohol addiction treatment facility.  He was not charged with DUI.

Drunk On Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Bicycle Rider Strikes Police Cruiser

Donald Munoz might want to consider drinking real lemonade instead of Mike’s Hard Lemonade before jumping on his bicycle next time. Cops said he drank three bottles of the hard stuff and was then busted when he crashed it into a police cruiser in Gresham, Ore.

Munoz, 32, ran a red light at around 1:30 a.m. on September 31, according to the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.

The Dash cam video from the police cruiser shows the collision. Luckily, no one was injured.

The officer whose vehicle he hit found an open container of the beverage on his bike and Munoz admitted to being drunk on Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

He was charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants, arrested and taken to jail.

Operating any vehicle while you are under the influence of an intoxicant is never a good idea.  If you find yourself charged with such an offense, contact the Law Offices of Hoot Crawford, or another reputable attorney immediately.  Hoot Crawford serves the Bay and the surrounding counties.

DUI Riding Horse, Man Arrested

BUNNELL, Fla. — Police have released a video showing a pursuit of an intoxicated man on horseback.

The incident began when an officer received a report of “an intoxicated male riding a horse. “Charles Larkin Cowart, 29, was arrested just after the incident.

Police did not immediately give chase, fearing harm to the public or the horse. At one point, a train slowed down as he crossed over a set of railroad tracks. The officer activated his lights to stop traffic while Cowart crossed a street, but he refused orders to dismount and, rearing the horse back, took off on the animal.

Cowart continued riding, stirring a crowd of witnesses to emerge from their homes.

About 30 minutes later, when the horse became exhausted, Cowart fled on foot and was soon captured.

His charges include disorderly conduct, cruelty to animals and resisting arrest without violence.

5 DUI’s Result In 45 Year Prison Sentance

Stephen Andrew Hall
A New Jersey man has officials frustrated by their inability to keep a man from driving after being arrested five times in a five week period for driving under the influence

Perhaps they will follow the example of Texas courts.

In Fort Worth, a county judge sentanced a man to serve 45 years in prison after he was convicted for 5 DWI’s.

Stephen Hall, 59 was convicted in four minutes during his latest case, in which his blood alchohol content was .18, which is more than twice the legal limit.

Mr. Hall will be required to serve a minimum of 11 years, as reported byTime Magazine. Hall chose to have the judge determin his sentence, which according to the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office, he called “pretty weak”

It will be a long time before Mr. Hall will be driving again.

Anderson Sotomayor, of Vineland, New Jersey, has 2 prior convictions for DUI, and five DUI arrests in the past five weeks. Those cases are still pending trial. Sotomayor’s license has been suspended 23 times.

Public Has The Right To Record Police In Public Places

A Boston lawyer was arrested won a victory today with a federal appeals court ruling that states officers can not claim “qualified immunity” while performing their jobs.  Simon Glik was arrested under a Massachusetts state law that prohibits audio recordings without both parties consent.

Glik is suing the city and police officers who arrested him because he used his cell phone to record a drug arrest.  The courts ruling, which will allow Simon Glik to continue with his lawsuit said the way he was arrested and his phone seized under a wiretapping law violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights.

The First Amendment issue here is, as the parties frame it, fairly narrow: is there a constitutionally protected right to videotape police carrying out their duties in public? Basic First Amendment principles, along with case law from this and other circuits, answer that question unambiguously in the affirmative. It is firmly established that the First Amendment’s aegis extends further than the text’s proscription on laws “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,” and encompasses a range of conduct related to the gathering and dissemination of information. As the Supreme Court has observed, “the First Amendment goes beyond protection of the press and the self-expression of individuals to prohibit government from limiting the stock of information from which members of the public may draw.” …

Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting “the free discussion of governmental affairs.”

The court noted that past decisions on police recording had involved full time reporters, but said the First Amendment does not apply just to professional news gatherers.

Moreover, changes in technology and society have made the lines between private citizen and journalist exceedingly difficult to draw. The proliferation of electronic devices with video-recording capability means that many of our images of current events come from bystanders with a ready cell phone or digital camera rather than a traditional film crew, and news stories are now just as likely to be broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper. Such developments make clear why the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status.

Former Cop Pleads Not Guilty To “Dirty DUI” Charges

Steven Tanabe - Accused Dirty CopDANVILLE — A former Danville police officer entered a not guilty plea Friday to new charges that he committed wire fraud by allegedly texting with a private investigator to coordinate drunken-driving arrests known as “dirty DUIs.”

Stephen Tanabe, 48, appeared in federal court in Oakland, where prosecutors added charges to existing counts of fraud, conspiracy, and extortion under color of official right.

Prosecutors say Tanabe worked with Christopher Butler, 50, a private eye hired by women allegedly seeking to have their husbands set up for drunken-driving arrests. The men were usually in divorce or child custody battles, prosecutors said.

In May, Butler pleaded guilty to seven federal criminal counts and said he had paid Tanabe with cocaine and a handgun to make three arrests on his behalf.

In the new indictment, prosecutors said Butler and Tanabe had exchanged text messages to coordinate two arrests and had discussed Tanabe’s compensation in a third.

Prosecutors said Butler’s phone showed that minutes before the Jan. 9, 2011, arrest of a man outside a Danville bar, the private eye texted Tanabe, “They are up + heading for the door.”

Tanabe’s attorney, Tim Pori, said prosecutors were using an obscure law usually applied to politicians who use the telephone to accept bribes. According to the indictment, the server for Butler’s phone is located in Kansas and the allegedly illegal communications with Tanabe crossed state lines, making the exchange a federal crime.

“This kind of prosecution is esoteric and this is not the way the statute is normally used,” Pori said.

Tanabe resigned last year from the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, which employed him as a Danville officer. The charges against him carry a maximum 20-year prison sentence and $250,000 fine.

DANVILLE — A former Danville police officer entered a not guilty plea Friday to new charges that he committed wire fraud when he allegedly exchanged text messages with a private investigator to coordinate drunken-driving arrests later dubbed “dirty DUIs.” Stephen Tanabe, 48, appeared in federal court in Oakland, where prosecutors added charges to existing counts of fraud, conspiracy, and extortion under color of official right. Prosecutors say Tanabe worked with Christopher Butler, 50, a private eye hired by women allegedly seeking to have their husbands set up for drunken-driving arrests. The men were usually in divorce or child custody battles, prosecutors said. In May, Butler pleaded guilty to seven federal criminal counts and said he had paid Tanabe with cocaine and a handgun to make three arrests on his behalf. In the new indictment, prosecutors said Butler and Tanabe had exchanged text messages to coordinate two arrests and had discussed Tanabe’s compensation in a third. Prosecutors said Butler’s phone showed that minutes before the Jan. 9, 2011, arrest of a man outside a Danville bar, the private eye texted Tanabe, “They are up + heading for the door.” Tanabe’s attorney, Tim Pori, said prosecutors were using an obscure law usually applied to politicians who use the telephone to accept bribes. According to the indictment, the server for Butler’s phone is located in Kansas and the allegedly illegal communications with Tanabe crossed state lines, making the exchange a federal crime. “This kind of prosecution is esoteric and this is not the way the statute is normally used,” Pori said. Tanabe resigned last year from the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, which employed him as a Danville officer. The charges against him carry a maximum 20-year prison sentence and $250,000 fine.

Read more Here  This article originally appeared in The San Fransisco Chronicle

Warning Motorists of Speed Traps A 1st Ammendment Righ

Sanford Florida, which has seen a lot of bad press lately due to the Treyvon Marting shooting is in the news again, only this time in a more positive note.

A Sanford judge rules that a Lake Mary driver was exercising his First Amendment right when warning other motorists about a speed trap a deputy had set up nearby.

Current Florida Statute states that:

(7) Flashing lights are prohibited on vehicles except as a means of indicating a right or left turn, to change lanes, or to indicate that the vehicle is lawfully stopped or disabled upon the ghighway or except that the lamps authorized in subsections (1), (2), (3), (4) AND (9) AND S. 316.235(5) are permitted to flash.

Circuit Judge Alan Dickey had earlier ruled that this law does not apply to people who use their headlights to communicate, and with this ruling goes a step further, in this behavior is protected under the U.S. Constitution.

Semi Carrying Beer Overturns on I-95 In Daytona Beach

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — A beer semi-tractor trailer overturned around 4:08 a.m. May 21at mile marker 265 on I-95.

The Florida Highway Patrol said the truck, loaded with bottled beer, was traveling northbound on I-95 in the right lane when, according to the driver, another semi-truck swerved from the center lane into the right lane causing him to steer right to avoid a collision.

The beer truck traveled into a ditch for 660 feet before the driver managed to steer the beer truck back onto the highway, where the truck rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise  before overturning  and sliding another 200 feet before coming to a final rest on its passenger side.

The 53-foot trailer scattered the load of beer across all of the northbound lanes, causing them to be closed until the area was cleaned up of debris and broken glass and the truck removed.

Charges are pending as the accident remains under investigation.

Supreme Court To Consider Whether Taser Pain Is Excessive Force

The case stems from a 2004 traffic stop. Malaika Brooks was pulled over by Officer Juan Ornelas who informed her that she was going 32 miles per hour in a 20 miles per hour school zone. He issued a speeding violation.

Ms. Brooks then refused to sign the citation, believing it would be an admission of guilt.  Informed that according to state law failure to sign would result in her arrest, Ms. Brooks refused to exit her vehicle, and was informed that non compliance would result in her being tased and forcefully removed from her vehicle.

The woman, who was 60 days from her due date, was tased three times in less than a minute.

The Seattle police officers say they chose one of the safest tools in their arsenal.

On Thursday, May 24th, the Supreme Court will meet behind closed doors and discuss whether to take up the issue.

You Can Read The Complete Story HERE!

FHP Trooper Under Investigation For Falsifying Police Reports

SARASOTA COUNTY – New questions of deceit have been raised against a Florida Highway Patrol trooper who was already under another investigation on allegations he lied under oath.

Trooper Scott Kunstmann of the FHP office in Venice was recently assigned to desk duty recently while  his agency conducts and investigation into allegations raised by a retired criminology professor who found inconsistencies between his reports and sworn testimony he provided.

Kunstmann arrested Robert Culbertson for DUI in November, while the 71-year-old was driving in the southbound lanes on Interstate 75.  His charges were dismissed because of the inconsistencies.

Now, a 26-year-old Ukrainian immigrant and her attorney say Kunstmann was less than honest in his report about her arrest.

Yelena Gubriy was stopped at a DUI checkpoint near Venice on St. Patrick’s Day.  Gubriy was taken to a screening area for field sobriety testing after troopers at the checkpoint noticed a smell of alcohol, according to what Kunstmann wrote in his report.

Kunstmann wrote “Ms. Gubriy was being belligerent and cussing” .

Nowhere in the field sobriety test video does Gubriy use profanity, neither in English or native Russian, and she does not fail to comply with the commands of Kunstmann or another trooper who appears in the video.

After watching her performance in the field sobriety tests, Gubriy’s attorney wonders why she was even arrested.

Sarasota defense attorney Michael Perry said “What he stated doesn’t seem to be compatible with the video.  Based on the evidence, I would argue that my client is innocent. It’s not consistent with the evidence set forth in the report.”

In addition, Kunstmann’s report also states that Gubriy told him she consumed three beers, while walking to the screening area which was of camera.

Gubriy denies she made the statement. “I don’t like beer. I don’t drink beer,”  While she admitted she had been drinking, she claims she was far from being legally drunk.

Gubriy said she ended up at the Venice Police Department, and not the Sarasota county jail as . Kunstmann wrote in his report.

 Capt. Nancy Rasmussen, a FHP spokeswoman was not aware that there were inconsistencies in Gubriy’s arrest report, which her agency provided in response to an open records request.

“Allegations of misrepresentation by an officer are rare, she said, even for an agency with more than 2,000 employees. She also was not certain of the possible outcomes of the probe into Kuntsmann’s work.

The sergeants should be reviewing this stuff. If it gets through them, the state attorneys, if they have any issues with it, should get with the sergeants,” she said.

 “If anything comes from that investigation, he’ll be dealt with”  She said.

Kunstmann declined to comment.

Call the Panama City law offices of Hoot Crawford, P.A., should you find yourself in a similar situation.