Articles Posted in Articles of Interest

WHAT HAPPENED

Florida Governor Rick Scott recently removed newly elected Orlando prosecutor Aramis Ayala from the Markeith Loyd case. Loyd is charged with two counts of First Degree Murder for shooting and killing police officer Lt. Debra Clayton and Loyd’s pregnant ex-girlfriend Sade Dixon. The case was re-assigned to state attorney Brad King, who prosecutes in neighboring Florida counties. Scott claims that the reason he removed Ayala is because she “won’t fight for justice.” He points to her comments concerning the death penalty as support for his extraordinary move. She allegedly stated that the death penalty causes too much pain for victims’ families and that it was not an effective deterrent. Additionally, she allegedly made it clear that not only wouldn’t she be seeking death for Loyd, but she wouldn’t be seeking the death penalty in any future case during her entire four years in office. Regarding seeking the death penalty in future cases, she stated, “I have determined that doing so is not in the best interest of the community or the best interest of justice.”

Scott initially attempted to get Ayala to recuse herself from the Loyd case. When she refused, he took the case away from her.

OUTRAGEOUS FACTS

    Ahhh, Orlando, Florida. Home of Sea World, putt putt, Mickey Mouse, and Epcot. Apparently, they’ve got some drug activity as well. Recently, Orlando police received many complaints concerning drug activity at a local 7-11. As a result, they beefed up surveillance.

    One afternoon, police spotted 65-year-old Daniel Rushing driving his car. The cop who stopped him, 8 year veteran Corporal Riggs-Hopkins, alleges that she observed Rushing commit two traffic infractions. She claims that Rushing was speeding and also, that he failed to come to a complete stop. As she approached the vehicle, Cpl. Riggs-Hopkins alleges that she saw a “white, rocky substance” on the floorboard of the vehicle. She immediately assumed that the substance by the driver’s feet was an illegal controlled substance. Rushing passionately exclaimed to the officer, “It’s glaze! Glaze from a doughnut!!!” He tells the officer that it was Krispy Kreme. Cpl. Riggs-Hopkins and the other law enforcement officers that arrived on the scene after the stop didn’t believe the driver. Instead, they were convinced it was crack cocaine. Then, after some time elapsed, they changed their position, concluding instead that it was Methamphetamine (“crystal meth.”)

FACTS

This story got my attention. Ricky Weinberger was recently arrested on Miami Beach for allegedly making a bunch of “harassing” telephone calls to law enforcement. Apparently, he also posted lots of threats against police on the bulletin board of an on line police themed web site. Most troubling for law enforcement is what they found at his small apartment when they arrested him. Weinberger had stockpiled 16 weapons, which allegedly included six assault rifles, along with 4500 rounds of ammunition. Police believe this was a catastrophe waiting to happen.

Judge Mindy Glazer held Weinberger with no bond. He has three other pending criminal cases that were made against him over the past year. His attorney attempted to secure his freedom by arguing that his both his speech and weapons possession were constitutionally protected. That argument failed.

INTRODUCTION

It was an eerie feeling. As I walked into Terminal 2 of the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood Airport, just days after the horrific shooting, I was consumed with emotion. It hit me that I was in “The room where it happened.” (Yes, even when describing something dark and emotional, “Hamilton” references still flow out of me) There was an overwhelming presence of media and law enforcement both inside and outside of the terminal. I was headed to Minneapolis for an appearance in federal criminal court. My return flight on Delta Airlines into Fort Lauderdale was the exact one the shooter had taken just days earlier. This case still consumes me. I find myself frequently discussing it with friends and colleagues. I’ve chosen to write this article because I’ve found from my discussions that there’s a lot of misinformation concerning this case. Also, there are many wondering what will likely happen to the shooter, Esteban Santiago. To best be of service in this article, I’ve attempted to answer the most common questions that I believe are on the minds of most people at this time.

QUESTIONS

INTRODUCTION

On March 30, 1981, as former President Ronald Reagan left the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington D.C., John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate the president. Hinckley drew his revolver and fired six rounds, injuring President Reagan and three other individuals. Roughly a year after the assassination attempt, Hinckley, who faced 13 criminal charges, was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was committed to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, a federally operated psychiatric facility in Washington D.C. Today, 35 years after that fateful day Hinckley decided to pull the trigger, a federal judge ruled that he shall be released from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital to live with his mother in her home as early as August 5th. Many of the questions that members of the “Court of Public Opinion” are asking includes, “How could he possibly be released? Why isn’t he serving a life sentence? How was he ever initially found not guilty by reason of insanity?”

ANALYSIS

THE HYPOTHETICAL

You’re driving home from a lovely night out on the town when you see those dreaded police lights behind you. You hope the officer is just trying to around you, however, you quickly realize that he wants you to pull over. As you think of all the reasons why the cop may have interest in you, you remain calm knowing that you weren’t speeding and that you’ve only had a couple of drinks over the course of a several hour dinner. The officer approaches and immediately smells the odor of an alcoholic beverage protruding from your breath. He asks, “Have you been drinking?” After you admit to the couple of drinks you consumed over dinner, he asks you to perform roadside “tests.” (We call em’ “exercises”) In spite of feeling fine and thinking you performed well, you are told that you are being placed under arrest for DUI (also known in other states as DWI and more commonly referred to as “Drunk driving”) You’re eager to take a breath test to prove the officer wrong. Unfortunately, after you blow twice into the machine (they call it an “instrument”), the officer’s eyes light up. In amazement, the officer announces that your breath reading is .40, which is approximately 5 times the legal limit. Regardless of your passionate pleas of innocence, you’re booked into the county jail. After you post bond and are released after approximately 18 hours of custody, you contact me, an attorney with expertise in DUI defense. You feel comforted knowing that I believe you, that there must be another explanation of the high reading other than extreme alcohol consumption.

ANALYSIS

INTRODUCTION

Having practiced criminal law for over two decades as both a prosecutor and as a defense attorney, there’s one question I get asked more than any other, “Should I blow?” Solely for those whose minds tend to travel to unusual places, the “blow” I’m referring to concerns the breath machines police use during drunk driving (DUI) criminal investigations.

DON’T DRIVE WHEN IMPAIRED

If you’ve got a pulse, you’ll be angered by this one.  Milwaukee County Sheriffs Deputy Joseph Quiles alleges in his official report that he was driving his squad car when he came upon a stop sign.  He claims that he stopped his vehicle and then looked both ways before pulling out.  He then claims that he never saw any headlights when he suddenly struck a car driven by Tanya Weyker.  What happened next is nothing short of unbelievable.

Cops arrested her for five separate charges, including drunk driving resulting in injury.  The injury was actually  to Ms. Weyker, who suffered a fractured neck as a result of the February 2013 crash.  The injuries she sustained were too severe to allow her to perform field sobriety tests and/or even provide a breath sample.

Without any independent witness and/or video evidence, Ms. Weyker would be in a horrible predicament.  Her serious criminal case would be based almost exclusively on the words of law enforcement officers.  Fortunately, more evidence surfaced recently.

INTRODUCTION

This really happened, recently. Brandy Burning, a single mom, was unlawfully driving in the HOV lane. That caused Broward County, Florida sheriff Lt. William O’Brien to pull her over. After some brief conversation, Burning then said the following to the deputy, “Oh, I forgot to tell you I was recording our conversation.” O’Brien then informs her that she has committed a felony and demands the cellphone. Burning refuses. O’Brien then climbs into the car from the passenger side and attempts to forcefully take her phone. Burning was arrested for the traffic infraction and resisting arrest. She wasn’t charged with any crimes related to the recording. Ultimately, prosecutors dropped all charges. Now, Burning plans on filing a law suit, alleging battery, false arrest and false imprisonment. She calls her experience “traumatic,” after spending a night in jail and sustaining bruises and scrapes during the incident.

This case raises two important issues. First, was the recording of her police encounter unlawful? Second, will she win her false arrest/civil lawsuit?