Articles Posted in Breaking News

INTRODUCTION

It’s New Year’s Eve. You’re driving along the highway feeling wonderful. Then it happens. You look in your rear view mirror and see flashing police lights. Your heart starts pumping faster as you quickly pull over, trying to determine why Officer Friendly wants to have this encounter. The officer who approaches your car will later inform you that he stopped you for having dark window tint. Before that, he approaches your car and sees a large open plastic bag. He immediately seizes it believing it contains drugs. You immediately inform the officer that the blue substance is cotton candy. The cop thinks it’s Methamphetamine, also known as “Meth” and/or “Crystal Meth”. Can you be arrested under these circumstances?

ANALYSIS

INTRODUCTION

You’re driving in your car somewhere in Broward County, Florida and Officer (Un)Friendly stops you. He alleges that you violated some traffic infraction. Let’s say he claims you were speeding. Then, he alleges he has probable cause to believe you committed a criminal offense, let’s say drunk driving (DUI). He then points to your cell phone that’s charging in your vehicle. He says, “I’d like to look through that.” For some reason, you say, “Sure, you seem nice and I have nothing to hide.” He then takes hold of your phone and attempts to look through it. At that moment, I happen to drive up to the scene. After you explain to me what occurred up to that point, I passionately provide you with some legal advice. Based on that, you say to the officer, I want my phone back. He fires back with, “I’m not giving your phone back until you give me the passcode to your phone so I can see what is in there.” Do you legally have to give him your passcode under these circumstances?

ANALYSIS

WHAT HAPPENED?

By now, you’ve heard the “King of Pudding” was convicted of three felony rape counts. His first trial ended in a hung jury. That means that jurors couldn’t agree to a unanimous verdict. So what changed from the first to the second trial that led to his conviction? It’s a simple formula: 5 is better than 2…as in 5 victims testifying for the prosecution is better than only two victims. For reasons the judge failed to articulate, he allowed five of Cosby’s prior rape victims to testify in the second trial while previously only allowing two. That certainly aided the prosecutions’ efforts of tipping the scales of evidence to “proof beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt.”

As persuasive as the five testifying victims were, what jurors found equally, if not more compelling, were Cosby’s own words. No, he didn’t take the witness stand. That was a good strategic decision as he would have been obliterated on cross examination. His words were those he spoke to civil lawyers in a prior civil suit. In that deposition, which was read to jurors, Cosby admitted under oath a number of disturbing things, which jurors found to be proof of guilt. The most compelling admission was his use of Quaaludes which he liked to provide to young women in order to induce them to have sex with him. He gave them out to women like non rapists give out drinks to their dates. He also admitted that he went to great lengths to conceal these affairs from his wife, who he calls, “Mrs. Cosby.”

INTRODUCTION

Based upon what happened in a bond hearing today in Broward criminal court, you would have thought that prosecutors uncovered evidence proving that Zachary Cruz, brother of Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooter Nikolas Cruz, actually conspired with, and assisted his brother carry out his abhorrent crimes. Well, that didn’t happen. In case you haven’t heard, Zachary Cruz, who is the 18-year-old younger brother of shooter Nikolas Cruz, was arrested yesterday for trespassing at Stoneman Douglas High School. At his bond hearing today, prosecutor Sarahnell Murphy passionately requested that Judge Kim Mollica raise his bond for the misdemeanor charge from the standard amount of $25.00 to $750,000. While the judge didn’t go along with the State’s request, she did impose a bond in the amount of $500,000, along with many other significant additional non-monetary bond conditions. After today’s bond hearing, many are asking the question, “Was the $500,000 bond imposed for Nikolas Cruz justified?”

ANALYSIS

INTRODUCTION

The irony is that the Florida International University pedestrian bridge that collapsed last week was built with the intention that it would provide students a safer way to cross a canal and six lanes of traffic. It didn’t quite work out that way. As a result of the catastrophe, six people tragically lost their lives. Many investigations are currently underway to determine the cause of the collapse. Regardless of the cause, there will definitely be a number of civil suits filed, likely soon. The question that many are asking is, “How likely are criminal charges?”

ANALYSIS

INTRODUCTION

For years, one of the arguments that we’ve heard about cigarettes is that they are filled with nicotine, which is addictive, which causes health problems and even death. That argument has been successfully made in lawsuits against “Big Tobacco,” the companies responsible for putting those “cancer sticks” into the stream of commerce. The argument is that those companies knew, or should have known, that their product would cause harm, and thus, they have to pay. A similar argument has been made against the companies that manufacture harmful asbestos. Would that same argument likely work against gun manufacturers? The argument being, “You knew, or should have known, that your product would end up in the hands of a shooter like Nicolas Cruz and that it was reasonably foreseeable that he would use your product for a criminal act. Thus, you should have to pay damages to the many that were harmed.”

ANALYSIS

Three women were cited with a violation of a criminal ordinance in Laconia, New Hampshire for displaying their nipples on a beach. They are challenging the ordinance, claiming it is unconstitutional. First, they argue that there is no state law that prohibits their actions. Additionally, they claim the ordinance is discriminatory since men are allowed to go topless. Finally, they contend that their freedom of expression rights are being violated.

There’s some precedent for the New Hampshire State Supreme Court to consider when deciding this issue on Feb 1st of this year. In October, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that a public indecency ordinance in Missouri was not unconstitutional even though it allowed men to show their nipples but not women. In February, however, a U.S. District Court judge ruled differently, blocking the city of Fort Collins, Colorado from enforcing a law criminalizing women from going topless. The city is appealing the decision.

Those who support the ordinance banning women from going topless argue that unless this behavior is deemed criminal, then women will show up bare breasted to little league games and libraries. They argue that they are simply trying to protect children and families.

While the “Not guilty” verdict in the Steinle murder trial wasn’t what most people expected and/or desired, it doesn’t mean that the verdict was unjust, unfair, and/or “disgraceful.” Having practiced in state and federal criminal courts for the past 25 years, serving as a prosecutor, criminal defense attorney, and adjunct law professor, I can say, without reservation, that the only thing unjust, unfair, and/or “disgraceful” is to insult and demean the jurors who worked hard to arrive at what they believed was a fair verdict. I’m not suggesting that you have to like the outcome. You’re free to think and/or say whatever you want, per the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. However, before you criticize the jurors’ decision concerning their verdict on the murder charge, give some thought to the following points below that may assist you:

1. Like many, I was surprised by the verdict. Based exclusively on what I was reading and hearing in media reports, I was expecting a guilty verdict on the murder charge.

2. Like almost everyone, I wasn’t in that courtroom to hear any of the evidence first hand. Therefore, it would be inaccurate and unfair for me (and almost all members of the public) to say that I knew all the evidence that was presented and, more importantly, how it was being received by those in the courtroom.

THE ISSUE

A man from Raleigh, North Carolina was recently arrested for leaving his five children at home alone. His oldest child is 8 years old. Victor King, who was bailed out by a total stranger, claims that he had to go to work to support both his children and his wife, who is suffering from stage 4 cancer. Authorities were alerted to the house by a neighbor who called 911, alleging that this was the second day in a row the kids were left alone without adult supervision. Apparently, this isn’t the first time this father has done this. He was convicted of child neglect in California after engaging in a similar act. So, one of the questions raised by this case is, “What should happen to the father?” Also, the bigger legal and moral question is, “How old should kids be before being left home alone?”

ANALYSIS

INTRODUCTION

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you now know that Tiger Woods was arrested for DUI (Driving Under The Influence) in South Florida this Memorial Day weekend. Many in the “court of public opinion” have been speculating about the case. The on-air “talking heads” have been at it and many are getting it wrong. Since I’ve practiced criminal work in Florida for 25 years both as a defense attorney and a prosecutor, having handled thousands of DUI cases, I feel compelled to set the record straight. Also, as a fellow “talking head” with extensive experience defending and prosecuting these types of cases in South Florida, I’d like to give you my assessment as to how I think Tiger’s matter will be resolved.

ALLEGED FACTS