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OCCOM BILL has a fool for a client. Don’t try this at home.

 
 
Reply Mon 10 May, 2004 11:47 pm
Some of you may have detected a little arrogance in my can do attitude. Usually, this serves me well… Today? NOT!

It all started in December of last year when I was pulled over for speeding after watching Monday Night Football at a friend's house. Shocked that neither my radar detector nor state of the art Laser Jammer had warned me, I asked the Police officer if he was sure he had clocked me (bad plan). I had failed to notice he was slight of build, red haired and young… the stereo typical "you picked on me in school and now it's my turn" kind of look.

So, next he had me step outside for the field sobriety test, which I thought I performed admirably… but of course, he disagreed. On the way to the station I inquired if I had a right to have a blood test performed, as I was certain that I was not above the legal limit, but was told that I have no such right in the state of Florida.

Once down at the station, standing statue still on the X for the video camera, I answered their questions and when they asked if I would be willing to submit to a breathalyzer; I answered "I would prefer a blood test, but if that's all that's available, certainly."

To my surprise (and dismay) I blew a .094 and then a .095 according to their equipment. I'll never understand how a 190 lb. man drinking 7 beers over 4 and a half hours could reach this plateau. That is not what they taught me in driver's ed. 20 years ago. Naturally, I declined there offer to answer any more questions and spent the next 7 hours with a couple dozen other dregs of society in a freezing cold holding cell. Upon release, I paid an exorbitant amount of money for a cab to take all over West Palm Beach (and for the use of his phone). Having left mine in the car, I didn't know anyone's telephone number. Between the cab and the tow I'm out about $400.

2 days later, I interview 8 potential attorneys, and the only one that didn't sound retarded, lazy or incompetent wanted $12,000. This seemed a bit steep, so I hoped I'd have better luck another day. In the mean time I had been researching the law online and discovered that Florida State Statutes did indeed have a provision that entitled me to verify the accuracy of the State's test with a blood test at my own expense. Amazingly, only one supposed DUI expert of 8 interviewed was familiar with this provision… and he was the one who wanted the $12,000. This struck me as a fatal breach of procedure and my request, after all, was recorded on video ($20) at the police station. Encouraged by this discovery, I next spent an enormous amount of time reading Supreme Court Decisions until finally; I struck Gold!

RONALD J. UNRUH vs. STATE OF FLORIDA

It seems Mr. Unruh had stated that he "would prefer a blood test" but, like me, was denied an opportunity to obtain one. The cases were so close to identical, it was amazing!

So, armed with the knowledge that the Supreme Court of Florida had already basically ruled in my favor (by specifically stating that suppression of the State's Breath Test was a proper remedy), that left the Officer's testimony, notes and the videotape as the only evidence against me. Being a stereotypical Wisconsin Boy, at .095 I'm barely feeling a buzz. I wouldn't drive a car, but probably could at triple that level… so, the videotape showed a very sober OCCOM BILL. To make matters worse for the State, the police officer had stated in his notes that I couldn't stand, couldn't walk, couldn't talk without slurring my words and that I failed miserably every field sobriety test he gave me. Of course, the videotape shows quite the opposite.

A couple weeks later I show up for the "bond hearing", where the State offers me the minimum and of course, I decline. At this point I'm driving on a work permit, because my Driver's License has been suspended. One of the sleazebag attorneys had told me that court ordered appointments and lawyer visits were allowed on such a permit (false!). As I pull out of my parking space I am arrested for driving on a suspended license. Massive protest in vain, despite my showing them my work permit and explaining that I'm on my way to work.

This time I have to spend 24 hours in jail, so they move me to the "general population". I don't believe I've ever been so angry. My cellmate appears to be some kind of skin head, gang banger (I know, terrible stereotype). I notice that my bunk has no pillow, so I ask my new buddy where I get one. He gives me a hard look and explains that there aren't enough of them to go around, so I have to buy one from one of the other inmates (right). Apparently he hadn't noticed that I had already been pushed as far as I can be by the arrest itself. He about jumped out of his skin when I jumped in his face and calmly explained that he was either going to give me my pillow, or a guard will but I aint paying for nothing! Do you understand me? He did.

The next day at my bond hearing to get released the judge was clearly perplexed as to why I was there in the first place. The law reads that I have to have a cash bond, since it was driving after suspension-for DUI. He ordered $100. I called a lady friend to bring the money. 4 hours later I was starting to suspect that there was something wrong, so I gave her another call. She was freaking out because they said my bond was $1,000 and she didn't have that kind of cash, and she didn't know if I'd want my friends to know about the situation at all (surprised me that she wouldn't guess that I couldn't care less who knew). So, still thinking I did care, she opted to call a bail bondsman, who of course made the $100 non-refundable (10% fee). As I'm getting released, at like 11:30 at night (finally, 36 hours after arrest), the clerk notices that it was indeed only supposed to be a $100 bond… then informs me that he can correct it; but I'd have to go back inside and wait. Shocked LOL, obviously my next cigarette was worth the extra $100 so I declined.

The next court date was the plea hearing for what was now DUI, Driving after suspension, speeding and, oh ya, expired insurance card. Not the insurance mind you, just the card. Here in West Palm Beach; they take all of the cases with representation first, then those who use the public defender and lastly, me. I'm told that I may have to wait days, just to say not guilty, but if they call me and I'm not there, they will issue a warrant for my arrest. Great. So I grab the nearest attorney in the crowded hall (overflow from a crowded court room), and pay him to simply plea me not guilty. That's all the help I want. Just get me in front of the judge (I'll hire a real attorney for my next visit). As I sit there I realize that all of the people who can't afford an attorney, and probably can least afford to miss work, have to wait the longest. Some system. It was then I decided I was going to represent myself. After all; I had a slam dunk defense against both of the real charges, right?

The following week I have to go and face what's known as an "administrative hearing". Separate from the Criminal charges is the Highway Department's automatic suspension of my Driving Privileges. Even the lawyer that wanted $12,000 said I had no chance of winning here. The standard M.O. is to subpoena the Police Officers involved and get a feel for what they are going to say in court. No other benefit should be expected. This means that I should lay down for a 6 month suspension of my Driver's License for a crime I have not, and likely never will be convicted of. NO WAY. I ignore the nay saying attorneys and subpoena no one. I show the videotape, explain the Supreme Courts prior ruling, including some additional case law that illustrates that the ruling does apply in the "administrative hearing" as well as the court… and win! The hearing officer sets aside the suspension for lack of evidence against me.

Now I'm filled with confidence. Since they couldn't get me with a "preponderance of evidence" at the administrative hearing, what makes them think they can prove me "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt" in a court of law? Fools. I next attend my "calendar call" where the State's attorney and I both announce we are ready to go to trial. The States attorney offers me 30 days in jail for the Driving after Suspension and the State minimum for the DUI… and he'll be gracious enough to drop the Speeding and No valid Insurance Card. I counter with; I'll eat the speeding ticket and insurance charge, but no more. The judge busts my chops something terrible for representing myself, but acknowledges it's within my rights to do so.

Next, I file a bulletproof (IMO) motion to suppress the Breathalyzer test, and the judge sets up the hearing (today). The motion clearly identifies that all of the necessary criteria for the Supreme Court's Ruling to apply, plus I attach a courtesy copy of that ruling to it. Bulletproof, right? An hour and a half into the hearing the Judge has agreed with virtually everything I've said and I'm getting ready to ask for an immediate dismissal of all charges upon his ruling. He had spent the last 20 minutes meticulously going over the UNRUH case practically line by line and demanding to know what the State's Attorney thought was different here? It was vividly clear by the State's attorney's inability to form any logical answers that the answer was nothing. As I stated; the cases are nearly identical. Finally, the Judge gets done grilling the State's attorney who rests his shabby case, and asks me if I want a final rebuttal. It was clear the Judge was on the same page as me by now so I answered, "the Defense rests as well".

With hardly a moment's hesitation the Judge announces "Motion Denied" Shocked . He then explains that the possibility exists that there are undocumented differences between my case and the UNRAH case. Not believing my ears I say, "your Honor, you're assuming facts not in evidence?" This gets me a look that could kill, and he continues "there is no evidence to show that the defendant reiterated his desire for a blood test after the Breathalyzer was completed. I respond with "Your Honor, I beg you to reconsider… you pointed out yourself earlier that UNRUH never did either and the Supreme Court considered his one request sufficient…and besides, that would be impossible to provide since they shut off the video recorder immediately after the Breathalyzer! To this he responds that I'm very close to being in danger of contempt of court and gives me the hateful look again. How dare you question my ruling! It took all of my might to not explain that he had no punishment that could equal my contempt for his court. I apologized and silently waited for him to leave the court.

When he was gone, the State's attorney, truly looking like a man ashamed of himself, brought me my paperwork. I asked him if he had "any offers for me today", with what was no doubt a stunned, resigned look on my face. He said, "Yes… I'll drop everything but the DUI and give you the State minimum for that. 6 months probation and 6 months restricted license (30 of which, no driving period), alcohol awareness classes,7 day imobilization of my car, victim impact session and 40 hours of community service and of course another $1,000 or so of fines. I asked if I could have some time to think about it, and he said I could take until the end of next week. He couldn't look me in the eyes when I thanked him and shook his hand.

At this point; I know I can win an appeal with proper representation. There is really no excuse for the Judge's decision to ignore the Supreme Court's Decision in the first place. But then I have to pay for the attorney, spend the next couple of years fighting, probably suffer most of the consequences prior to the case being overturned anyway, eat the speeding and insurance violations (at least I deserve those) and for what? I'm thinking at this juncture it would be more costly to win than to accept defeat. I don't know where Mr. Unruh got his stamina… I'm already weary.

I've never minded fighting the good fight, but boy do I hate to lose it.
The moral of the story: If you've been drinking at all, no matter how little, take a cab. They're cheap. And whatever you do, no matter what, never, ever represent yourself in a court of law… or like me, you'll have a fool for a client.

If anyone is still reading this, sorry it was so long.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 3,951 • Replies: 52
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 May, 2004 11:57 pm
WOW!

I didn't know you smoked.
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kickycan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 May, 2004 12:51 am
The system sucks when it doesn't work to your advantage, doesn't it?
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 May, 2004 06:05 am
Bill- Sorry that you had to go through all of that. Sad
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Montana
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 May, 2004 06:08 am
Oh man Bill. That really sucks. I completely agree with you about drinking and driving. A few beers is not worth what you went through. I won't even drink a beer and get behind the wheel. If you so much as have it on your breath, you're screwed. I don't believe in drinking and driving for safety reasons as well, but having a few beers in the course of a night shouldn't be such a big deal.
The other day I went to the liquor store and there was a woman there handing out little shot cup samples of beer, so of course I tried it, but I ended up nervous driving home simply because it was on my breath.
My son will have his license in 2 1/2 months and I'll have a designated driver :-D
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cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 May, 2004 06:20 am
Heh heh...Florida eh, welcome to Bush country and the new Amerikkka, Bill. That story sucks serious rocks indeed.
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cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 May, 2004 06:22 am
I dig cabs. Since TTC rates went up, it's only a few bucks more to ride in a nice car for short trips. I also don't own a car.
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Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 May, 2004 07:41 am
Sorry about what happened, but the story is incredible. Send it in to the local newspaper and use names, of course after you settle your case so the judge does not get upset about it.
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Heeven
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 May, 2004 08:04 am
You been watching too much Law & Order man!
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husker
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 May, 2004 08:22 am
Yikes!

Couple years ago I dead a plea bargin on a speeding ticket that went pretty well but the courts would not roll-over. In the end I won big time with a reduced fine and non-moving violation.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 May, 2004 08:30 am
Great story though! I was worried it was going to end in some sort of conviction that meant you wouldn't be able to leave the country. Make sure that doesn't happen, Costa Rica boy!
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kickycan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 May, 2004 08:33 am
I don't get it. You had seven beers and you think you should get off? Your BAC was over the legal limit. You broke the law. Case closed.
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BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 May, 2004 08:46 am
Occom Bill
Occom Bill, now I understand your posts on other threads about why you despise bureaucrats even though you were responsible for the original cause of your problems.

BBB
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OCCOM BILL
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 May, 2004 11:19 am
Thanks all for you condolences. I'm surprised anyone bothered to read such a long, list of gripes. I do appreciate it.

Craven: Yep, I smoke. Laughing

Soz: I didn't know you were in such a hurry to get rid of me! Shocked I believe there is a condition that I have to have a totally clean record for 6 months to gain residence in CR... but unfortunately, that isn't the only thing holding me back. I have not, as of yet, figured out how I'm going to earn my keep there. Confused

kickycan wrote:
The system sucks when it doesn't work to your advantage, doesn't it?
Yep. In these United States I have the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. There was no evidence of that yesterday.

kickycan wrote:
I don't get it. You had seven beers and you think you should get off? Your BAC was over the legal limit. You broke the law. Case closed.
Indeed Kicky. According to the pinwheel chart I was given in Driver's Ed 20 years ago; my BAC should have been at .05%. We'll never know where it really was because I was denied my constitutional right to purchase the most accurate test available. Every single Supreme Court Justice agreed that the State had a responsibility to provide access to this test upon request. They also ruled that not doing so was a serious violation of my constitutional rights and consequently that suppression of the State's test is proper remedy. The local Judge, despite the fact that he made it very clear that he understood the similarities during the hearing, ignored this decision. You don't think I have a valid complaint? Do you also find it acceptable that I was jailed for Driving after Suspension with a Driving Permit in my pocket? Shocked LOL

You and BBB are mistaken if you don't think I know my actions caused this to begin with. However, wrongdoing on my part in no way excuses the State's subsequent trampling of my constitutional rights nor their failure to follow established legal guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court of the land.

Obviously I could have paid an attorney and probably walked away clean... for about $3,000-$12,000... and will should I ever be foolish enough to let it come up again. Drunk I do feel that I was unfairly treated because I chose to exercise my constitutional right to represent myself. I now know; this was my second mistake... which means an accusation of DUI carries a penalty of at least $3,000 regardless of guilt or innocence. That doesn't fit very well in a system that claims you are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. When I posted this; I expected some criticism from tea-totalers. I really didn't think you'd be one of them, Kicky.
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kickycan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 May, 2004 11:34 am
I'm not criticising really. I'm just saying that once the breathalyzer tested you at .095, you were basically screwed. And I have a feeling that you representing yourself made them want to teach you a lesson. Plus, it's Florida. They are pretty hard-ass.

I guess what I was thinking was that if you break the law, there are consequences, whether you agree with the law or not. You just have to figure out how to keep from getting caught. But I can see how and why you'd want to fight it.

I guess I should just back off though, since I live in New York. I can get totally sloshed (and trust me, I have) and never have to worry about this happening to me. Hee hee!

I'll have a shot in your honor though next time I'm out! :wink:
0 Replies
 
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 May, 2004 11:34 am
Occum Bill
Occum Bill, bureaucrats and their structures work pretty well as long as nothing out of the ordinary happens, which is one of the flaws of a bureaucracy. You know, the square peg in the round hole.

It seems to me that the second person at fault was the original police officer, who seemed to be on a power trip. Better selection of and training of police officers seems in order in this jurisdiction. A well-trained officer would know how to better handle a person who may come across as beligerant and hostile (read that smart-assed). Officers are usually trained not to escalate such a situation, but this officer appears to have done just that.

Once such a person gets further into the process and exhibiting the same attitude, the outcome can be predicted. The bureaucrats defensively get their backs up and start going by the book instead of looking for an easy win-win way to resolve the problem. And its all down hill from there.

BBB
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cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 May, 2004 11:51 am
Didn't Dr. Johnny Fever's motor functions and reaction time actually increase the more he drank? I think this deserves some serious study. It could possibly lead to a whole revamping of the system when it comes to DUI...oh wait, I'm confusing TV with reality again.
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Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 May, 2004 11:51 am
Why do men have a tendency to do what BBB said - be a smart ass where police are involved? I believe this is really why men get more tickets than women. I have been stopped a couple of times by the police. I have been polite and respectful and offer only information that is asked of me. I do not get tickets. My husband will immediately start arguing with them. I tell him to just shut up and be polite even if the police officer is in the wrong. But he has a difficult time with it - he says, but he is wrong. I say I don't care - who has the power in this situation, what is the best way to handle it? After he leaves go ahead and call him whatever names you want. I know other men who do the same thing. Swallow your pride and keep your mouth shut, the outcome will almost always be better. I am convinced it is this pride thing that causes more men to get tickets than women.
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cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 May, 2004 12:02 pm
Linkat wrote:
Why do men have a tendency to do what BBB said - be a smart ass where police are involved? I believe this is really why men get more tickets than women. I have been stopped a couple of times by the police. I have been polite and respectful and offer only information that is asked of me. I do not get tickets. My husband will immediately start arguing with them. I tell him to just shut up and be polite even if the police officer is in the wrong. But he has a difficult time with it - he says, but he is wrong. I say I don't care - who has the power in this situation, what is the best way to handle it? After he leaves go ahead and call him whatever names you want. I know other men who do the same thing. Swallow your pride and keep your mouth shut, the outcome will almost always be better. I am convinced it is this pride thing that causes more men to get tickets than women.


Maybe it was rutting season Linkat.
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 May, 2004 12:09 pm
Then rutting season for human males occurs every seasons of the year.
0 Replies
 
 

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