Wednesday, December 3, 2008
The benefits of a conversion to mass transit over automobiles would be limitless. Less dependence on foreign oil (clearly), less air pollution (clearly), fewer traffic fatalities (clearly), incerased productivity (particularly in today's society where work can get done with a PDA or laptop; not while driving an automobile), and, perhaps, better relations among divergent economic and ethnic groups (as is seen in large cities) due to the fact that people from all walks of life sit and stand side by side, as equals, in close quarters on trains and buses instead of, as here in California, whizzing by one another in their cocoons, never to share space, or a conversation, with someone who is not just like them. What's the downside? Those who love cars and driving would still have the opportunity to do so, in fact the roads would be less congested. Support all bond measures and politicians that move us, and our public funds, in favor of mass transit. We'll be better for it.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I've got a GREAT idea! Let's cancel our practice of having rows and rows of port-a-potties at the biggest drinking-fest this side of Mardi Gras! Yes, Santa Barbara County authorities have made the stunning choice of not having port-a-potties available for the 20,000+ Halloween revelers that will be milling around Isla Vista, drinking copious amounts of alcoholic beverages, starting tomorrow night. Hmmmm.... What might this lead to? Well, in addition to a lot of very full bladders, it will lead to public urination of epic proportions. And, because some will find relieving themselves on the street, in front of hundreds of spectators, an unacceptable activity, there will be those that will try to do so in private, as in on private property, without permission, and not necessarily in a bathroom. I can imagine fights breaking out over people who have crossed various boundary lines in order to relieve themselves.
This is my foundational post for a forthcoming "I told you so" post next Monday or Tuesday after I hear about how an already out of control event became even more so given all the disorder created by the population of full-bladdered people with no way to correct the problem in a civilized manner.
Friday, October 24, 2008
To those who want to keep their legal misfortunes private from their parents, please consider that abuse of alcohol and drugs, especially when under age, is a destructive activity. Having said that, as a staunch civil libertarian, and one who generally disapproves of "Big Brother" tactics, I will say this: If you don't want your parents to get the "memo" you can ask to have the "Permanent Address" in your school file removed and/or changed. As an adult (18 years and older), regardless of who is paying your tuition, room and board, etc., the University has no right to force to you to disclose a permanent address, nor the contact information of your parents. Food for thought. My disclaimer, as always, is that the aforementioned alternative to "Big Brother" is that, if you want to be treated as an adult, act like one. Drink responsibly and don't break the law.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
This year the event will include a Halloween costume contest. Prizes will be awarded to the best and scariest costumes as well as to the costume most likely to get you arrested. And, every legitimate contest entrant will receive a gift from the ivlawyer.com store! So, don't miss this great opportunity to show off your costume in a well lit environment of, mostly, sober people.
It promises to be the best annual workshop yet. See you there!
Friday, September 19, 2008
Apart from my concern that more jail space leads to stiffer penalties for petty crime, I congratulate you for getting the job done in terms of securing a $56.3 million grant to construct a new North County Jail. You are keeping your campaign promise, and are doing well to eventually reduce the health and safety hazards presented by having too few beds for the current inmate population at the Santa Barbara County Jail in Goleta.
I will remind you that part of the County Booard of Supervisors' willingness to approve of your plan was based upon your representations that there would be money spent on social programs to address substance abuse and mental illness, the two biggest factors leading to incarceration.
Although it was never promised as part of the plan, I strongly believe that the County of Santa Barbara should install a sobering center in Isla Vista pursuant to Penal Code section 647(g). It is clearly the State's policy to civilly commit individuals who are found to be unsafely inebriated in public, and not to criminalize them. Isla Vista, which claims a huge share of all public intoxication arrests, needs to afford law enforcement the option of a civil commitment. Until that happens, I would urge your agency to follow the spirit of the law (647(g)), by releasing those who are brought to the County Jail on a lone charge of public intoxication pursuant to Penal Code section 849(b), which means that they will not face prosecution. This, in effect, makes the commitment civil, rather than criminal.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Yes, law enforcement officers face risks and are paid relatively little for the challenging and vital nature of their work. No question about it. However, let's not forget the countless others who work hard to reduce traffic fatalities. A spokesperson for the CHP, Daniel Barba, perhaps without intending to do so, completely disregarded the important efforts of the auto industry for making safer cars, the traffic engineers for designing safer roads, the caltrans workers for building and clearing those roads, the EMS personnel for providing triage, the Firefighters for their vital work, the members of the medical profession for their contributions, the tow truck drivers for clearing disabled vehicles, and the many common carriers (such as cab drivers) for offering alternatives to driving. All of these folks deserve some of the credit for reduced traffic fatalties, if not a good deal of it. Nevertheless, the CHP seems quite willing to claim all of the credit where it states that seatbelt usage, speeding, and DUI are THE 3 leading factors resulting in traffic fatalities, and that they and they alone have an impact on the reduced instances of these dangerous behaviors. It is without question that law enforcement serves to deter dangerous behaviors by their ongoing enforcement efforts, and their visibility on the roadways. Their education campaigns are likely beneficial as well. And it may very well be that more of these activities will further reduce traffic fatalities. What concerns me, and hopefully concerns you, is that mindless support of aggressive law enforcement diminishes our freedom; the very freedom that hundreds of thousands of Americans have died on the battlefield to defend.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
- If people are considered mature enough to go to war to kill and die for their country, they are definitely mature enough to drink alcohol responsibly.
- Restrictive rules on drinking encourage clandestine and binge drinking (which are the most dangerous kinds of drinking).
- The widespread use of fake ID's among college students erodes respect for the law.
- The high numbers of arrests of people for ordinary college behavior makes the system appear corrupt and often hypocritical which, again, erodes respect for the law.
Anyone who has been to college understands that the 21 and over law does not curtail drinking one iota among the 18-20 year old group. Drinking among college students is, reportedly, on the rise. Most people consider it a legal taboo to drink underage, not a social one. It is time for an intelligent debate on this failure of public policy.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
I hereby congratulate the cabbies who keep our streets safe every night from drunk drivers. And, to the fine men and women in yellow, let's be careful out there!
Friday, July 11, 2008
A recent article in the LA Times exposed a troubling thing about traffic court which is that people who are not represented by lawyers tend to self-incriminate (either by telling the truth or by saying things which make themselves appear guilty regardless of the truth of the matter) under a mistaken belief that they are actually helping themselves. A common way they do so is by pleading "guilty with an explanation". And, what might not be so well understood is that the court has far less interest in the "explanation" part than it does in the "guilty" part. The famous Far Side cartoon depicting the difference between dogs and cats where the dog hears "fido, blah blah blah" and the cat hears just "blah blah blah blah" illustrates the point here. Analogously, the judge hears "guilty, blah blah blah". Occasionally an "explanation" is so compelling and, more importantly, so believable, that it might differentiate itself from the pack of likely explanations. Judges hear it all and they hear it all day long. The "explanations" don't vary that much. And what's really telling is that the compelling and believable "explanation" that worked for the last guy who got his fine substantially reduced, or his case thrown out, is often repeated with little editing by the next several folks.
Many plead guilty with an explanation with the consciousness that saying they are "guilty" amounts to self-incrimination. Others seem to behave as though they are talking to a friend, and if they present a sympathetic story, their loving and forgiving "friend" in the black robe is going to let it go this time. After all, to err is human, to forgive is divine. And aren't people in robes, by the way, supposed to be divine.
It is understood that the Catholic faith puts emphasis on the cleansing aspect of a confession. It is, in a moral sense, important to restore what you have stolen from justice by "taking responsibility". I am down with that. However, the big fallacy is that the government (in the form of a courthouse) affords the only opportunity to do so. You can, and probably do, feel badly about what you have done wrong. If you don't, you are probably a sociopath, or are indulging yourself in some kind of denial, at least. There are numerous ways you can "pay it back". You can feel bad, which is a form of self-imposed punishment; but maybe not altogether satisfying to society nor those whom you have harmed. You can say "sorry" directly to the person(s) you have injured and offer to pay for or otherwise correct the problem you have caused for them (if it is feasible to do so). You can confess to a member of your clergy, your therapist, your lawyer, etc. You can devote your time and money to good causes. You can swear to yourself to never do anything of the kind again and follow through. Clearly, there are numerous ways to accept responsibility for wrongdoing that have nothing to do with a court of law. To say otherwise is to assume that the population consists of mere children who need to be spanked by the government before they will understand that what they did was wrong. To say otherwise is to assume that if you do suffer punishment for your wrongdoing in court that you have made it all okay. Of course both of these assumptions are faulty. The government is not the sole arbiter of morality, and the fact is, the government is incompetent to restore justice in many cases where a wrong has been committed in spite of its laudable, and necessary, effort to do so.
I do not call for the dissolution of the government, nor the judiciary, but I would call upon my fellow human beings to have a more balanced view of what is really going on in court. The defendants in court are neither all "crooks" that deserve stiff punishments, nor are they all "saints" who are going to be recognized as such and given a pass this time by a judge with an impeccable intuition. Most of the defendants are every day people who have made one or more bad choices. The court does not behave as their friend. In our adversarial system a court of law is a place where litigants who let their guard down are routinely taken advantage of by the other side. A corrollary to this concept is the right every criminal defendant enjoys: the right against self-incrimination; or simply put, that the prosecution must be able to prove you guilty. You are under no obligation to prove yourself guilty, and it is generally unwise to do so. If there is any proof problem whatsoever, you are advised to plead "not guilty" and to remain silent unless and until it becomes very obvious that you are going to be found guilty anyway, or that there is something to gain by self-incriminating (e.g., a favorable plea bargain).
A letter to the editor in today's Times criticized the above-linked article because it seemed to suggest, to the letter writer, that defendants should lie to the court. After all, lying is THE alternative to telling the truth, isn't it? I hope, by now, you can see that that is a false dilemma. Pleading not guilty is not lying. Remaining silent is not lying. Causing the prosecution to do their job, which is to prove you guilty, is not lying. Get it?
Saturday, June 28, 2008
So, here's what I take from that: Unreasonable warrantless searches and seizures, coerced confessions, deprivations of procedural protections, inflictions of cruel and unusual punishment, restraints on free speech, interferances with the free exercise of religion, establishing an official religion, and myriad other deprivations of civil liberties by the government cannot, by Scalia's logic, be justified on the ground that they may further a positive policy agenda. In light of Heller I would now suggest a re-examination of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case of Michigan v. Sitz, in particular. Why? Because the Court all but ignored the plain language of the Fourth Amendment to allow law enforcement to conduct systematic warrantless searches and seizures, in the shape of DUI checkpoints, to promote the positive policy agenda of preventing drunk driving. To argue that checkpoints are "reasonable" in a free society is to ignore a simple distinction: The other acknowledged exceptions to the warrant requirement (exigency, Terry, Leon, reasonable suspicion, etc.) do not deliberately and systematically cause the seizure and search of large swaths of law-abiding people in the name of crime prevention. The choice to allow these warrantless searches is done clearly in the name of a positive policy agenda which, as Scalia, would have it, should be "off the table".
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Long live the jury system!
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
I will here issue my final warning that this new law is going cause many traffic stops. After all, this is one of the easiest law violations for the police to identify and I predict that it will cause a surge in the number of traffic stops and the myriad arrests that flow from them (such as DUI's, Driving without license, etc.)
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
If it is really about policy over personality, and what direction the country should head post-W, then any Hillary supporter would have to vote for Obama. Otherwise we could legitimately question their motives in voting for Hillary in the first place. After all, the major policy positions of Hillary and Barack have always been identical.
But, regardless, there will be a perceived neck and neck horse race (i.e., Obama's up, McCain is down and vice versa), and it's a big lie. Why? Because of one simple point:
If you don't already know who you would vote for come November (Obama or McCain), you are an imbecile. Sorry, but that's just true.
If you say you are undecided, and are not an imbecile, you are an attention-grabbing liar, who wants to be catered to and courted by the media and the two campaigns. They will sit down with you at the "kitchen table", interview you, invite you to participate in focus groups and bake you cookies, while you continue to fake that you are not an imbecile and/or undecided. Let's face it, the two candidates could not be more different on any scale you choose. This is not in fact the "bud bowl" as the candidates are way more different from each other than are any two bottles of beer. However, the analogy still works because the corporate owned media will prove that the public can be manipulated into believing that there really is a "decision" to be made that hasn't been made already. Oh, and just be sure to stay tuned through the commercials.
Monday, June 2, 2008
I recall OJ making his first appearance on homicide charges where he declared that he was "Absolutely, positively, 100 percent, not guilty". I don't know who counseled him to modify the plea of "not guilty" but, if anyone did, it was more likely a publicist than a lawyer. "Not guilty" is one of only six permissible pleas to one or more criminal charges in California. Others are: guilty, nolo contendere, prior conviction, once in jeopardy and not guilty by reason of insanity. There is no legally cognizable plea of "Absolutely, not guilty" much less "Absolutely, Positively, 100 percent, not guilty". In all likelihood, OJ said it with so much emphasis because he knew the whole world of mostly non-lawyers was watching, and there is something about saying "not guilty" that just sounds, well, guilty.
The truth is, any time someone sets foot in a courtroom, as a criminal defendant, nearly every spectator and participant assumes that there must be some truth to the charge(s), otherwise the person would not be charged. So, saying "not guilty", however emphatic, lacks the persuasive force it would otherwise have. If we, as a society, weren't already conditioned to believe that nearly everyone charged is guilty, then we might actually listen with interest to what the plea is. What is not as widely understood is that nearly everyone who is criminally charged pleads "not guilty" - or at least authorizes an attorney to say it for them - at the beginning of the case. And there is a reason for this. Saying the words "not guilty" is the only legally recognized way to express the four most common states of mind held by a charged individual, which are: (1) "I am innocent",(2) "though I might be guilty, the state can't prove me guilty", (3)"I am guilty of some, but not all of the charges", or (4) "I am guilty as charged but am not ready to make a deal with the prosecutor right now". The lack of readiness may be because the charged individual wants to know more about the strength of the case against him and/or what the punishment will be, and whether any deal offered as of yet is the best deal he can get. So, "not guilty" is not a lie in cases where the person is actually guilty.
In traffic court you will hear people say they are "guilty with an explanation". These are, however, guilty pleas where the court is allowing the individual to blend their guilty plea with their argument for a lenient sentence. Such "pleas" are not permitted in non-traffic criminal court, and never result in anything other than a conviction of the charged offense.
To make matters more complex, there is a type of plea that permits an assertion of innocence along with a plea of nolo contendere. Such pleas in California are made pursuant to a case called the People v. West (1970) 3 Cal.3d 595. A "West plea" is most likely to stand for a plea which "does not constitute an express admission of guilt but only a consent to be punished as if guilty." Plea bargaining, which is often analogized with sausage-making, leads to many fictions and, at the fringes, injustices both large and small. A reality of our, and perhaps any, justice system is that people occasionally plead guilty to charges they didn't commit, and plead guilty to having done something criminal even where they haven't done anything criminal. This is what comes about by way of the immense legal leverage the legislature, and the voting public, has given to our prosecutors. It happens that people who are innocent sometimes agree to plead to a charge in order to eliminate a risk of a particular undesirable outcome (e.g., lengthy incarceration).
The most useful way to think about a criminal case, if you are the person charged, is that it is, at its core, a business transaction. The state wants one or more things from you and what you want in return is fairness. In many cases, the only way to achieve fairness in return for your eventual plea of "guilty" or "nolo contendere" is to, at first, plead "Not Guilty".
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Cars are dangerous objects, weighing mostly between one and two tons, traveling through space at often unreasonably fast speeds; within inches of (and sometimes containing) our children. And there are millions of these objects all around us at all times. People get hurt. People die. It's tragic. However, lets look at the core issue: We shaped a society around cars, and we need, therefore, to confront the basic truth that there are going to be car accidents no matter what. So, what's to be done? You mean besides funding public transportation (i.e., the only change that is going to make a dent in the numbers of accidents)? I'm not sure. But what I am not in favor of is enacting law after law on false promises that doing so will make us any safer. The quote of Benjamin Disraeli, "lies, damned lies, and statistics", came to mind when I read that the CHP reported that 128 accidents in the state last year were caused, in part, by inattention due to an animal in a vehicle. Let's see, how many acts of driving were there last year in the State of California? (33 million (vehicles) times 365 (days in a year) times 4 (excursions per day)) = 48,180,000,000 (aka 50 billion). So, roughly speaking, the chance of being in an accident caused, in part, by inattention due to an animal in a vehicle is one in 376,406,250. But, hey, who said the Legislature isn't working hard to make a real difference in our lives? What will they think of next?
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Ask yourself if you really know the people you are hanging with. What is it about them that would cause you to conclude that they couldn't be a cop? What you shouldn't ever think is that they are not a cop because you saw them get drunk, get in a fight, rent an apartment in IV, get high, buy drugs, share drugs, or sell drugs. You should neither rely on any statements that they make that tend to suggest that they are not cops (including, but not limited to, "no, I am not a cop", "I hate cops", "cops are pigs", etc.) The thing to understand is that cops are not only capable of lying, but lying is part of their day to day professional life. They lie frequently when they work under cover, and even in uniform they lie when they are investigating crime. They do so with the complete approval of their department when it is done for an approved purpose. In fact, they are trained to lie. Unlike any other set of professionals, they may lie with absolute impunity. What other group in society can say that about? None. Even used car salespeople (and most certainly lawyers - sorry, lawyer haters) face negative consequences if they are caught lying.
Another thing a UCSB student might do to avoid getting roped in with those who are up to no good is avoid people who are not affiliated with UCSB. It is true that a lot of City College students live in IV, and are, perhaps, planning to transfer to UCSB next Fall. However, if you don't go to school with them (i.e., see them in class, etc.), do you really know that they go to City College? And can't anyone, including a cop or someone who is up to no good enroll in one class at City College at a minimal cost and hassle in order to "fit in" in IV? Of course they can.
The best thing you can do to avoid being arrested is to obey the law. And to greatly limit the possibility that you will be accused of something you didn't do, you should avoid those who are breaking the law.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
As fits with my character, I have written my own obituary. I was born February 21, 1932, in St. Paul, MN, and now I have died in Santa Barbara, CA. My peace in life was my wife, Sheila, and my dear children.
My journey, from my 1950’s days as a philosophy major at the University of Michigan, has been the exploration of all the great cosmic questions surrounding our lives. For some years I have felt at peace with the answers and insights I have found. I wish I could pass them on to those I love. It cannot be done. Each of us must find our own pathway through the density and darkness to at last find that you are "back in Kansas", standing where you were, so to speak, with everything so clear and obvious as to make you even question whether in fact you did "journey”.
I now end this with a deliberate (and important) misquote from Dylan Thomas -- I "DO go gentle into that good night".
Sunday, April 27, 2008
A sobering (or "sobriety") center in Isla Vista would save everyone money. It would save the taxpayer all of the many costs incident to booking someone into the county jail. The costs per arrest, to the taxpayer, can reach into the thousands. On average we're talking about hundreds of dollars per arrest. Consider the cost of two police officers spending about two hours between the initial contact and returning to IV or UCSB per arrestee. For wages, insurance, equipment costs, and the attending support staff costs (e.g., dispatch), this may range from about $200 to $400. Then there are the costs of booking and housing for up to 24 hours. This can also cost hundreds of dollars. Then, should the person end up in court (and most do), there are the wages of the many court personnel that are involved, including lawyers and judges. And these are all costs on the taxpayer (yes, some are off-set by fines and fees). However, should the person exercise their right to a jury trial and/or decide to initiate a lawsuit and complaint against the police and their employer, the sky is the limit on costs. We are talking about thousands of dollars in those cases, easily; all on the taxpayer. Notice I haven't even mentioned yet the costs on the individual in terms of legal fees, fines, reputational harm, as well as physical and emotional injury. These costs are unacceptable to most.
It is definitely time for a sobering center.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Monday, April 7, 2008
The costs of the "experiment" were huge. Among the costs were the human costs incurred by those who were needlessly criminally charged, the reputational cost of criminal convictions (affecting employability, academics, etc.) , the loss of driving privileges, the legal fees incurred by the defendants, the costs to the community of some 20 or more days of jury trial time (conservatively, $80,000 in salaries, and other costs associated with running a courtroom; not to mention the cost of significant time borne by hundreds of jurors and potential jurors).
I will, however, give credit to the District Attorney's Office for having both the courage and wisdom to change their minds and draw a curtain on the policy. The old practice of allowing first-offenders to take classes as a means to wash out the criminal taint and driving privilege loss associated with a Public Intoxication arrest made, and will make, a lot of sense. The hammer has its uses in the courthouse, but not when we are talking about a single instance of drunkenness while in college. The arrest, a night in jail, a hang-over, and some classes should [but doesn't always] resolve the problem. Now we should look ahead toward installing a sobering center in Isla Vista.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
I'll see what I can do in the few minutes I have...
1) How do you feel about the consequences about drunk driving? Do you think the consequences should be harsher, or less harsh?
I think that punishments are probably too harsh. At some point, as we approach making all DUI's into attempted homicides, at ever lower levels of blood alcohol, we should slow down and analyze what of the myriad changes to the way we penalize DUI and otherwise educate (even propagandize) the citizenry are actually making the roads safer and fit within present standards of proportional justice. For example, were we to make all DUI defendants eligible for the death penalty, regardless of whether anyone got hurt, and what the blood alcohol level was, you'd see a lot more people using taxis and quitting drinking altogether. And then there would be those hard-core alcoholics, and people who pay no attention to the criminal justice system until the cuffs are being put on them, who wouldn't change their ways. But the bottom line is, how much, in the name of deterrence, are we really willing to tolerate as a society. I think we may be at the breaking point. We're already beyond mine.
For more of my opinions on this topic [which might even surprise you] go to:
2) How do you believe law enforcement should handle the issue of drunk driving? What I mean is what do you think law enforcement should do to prevent the issue of drunk driving?
I'd like to see them exercise more compassion in their approach, and to show a little more courage. In other words, they should be willing to give someone a ride home, or just take their keys away for the night. By being tough as nails, they do the institution of law enforcement a great disservice. In other words, when they show no compassion, people develop a hostile attitude toward police, which is unfortunate for everyone concerned.
3) Why do you think that people decide to drive drunk?
They really don't decide. They impulsively drive home after a party or a night of drinking with little awareness of their impairment. Alcohol impairs judgment and memory. One of the things a drunk person is not qualified to do is to decide whether they are safe to drive. The real mistake is to begin drinking without having already arranged a safe ride home. Otherwise, they are leaving their fate in the hands of a drunk person who will have great difficulty making a decision; much less a correct one.
4) Which group of people do you think drives drunk more often: teens/adolescence, or adults?
5) When I was doing some research, I found out that alcohol-related incidents don't just mean that the driver is drunk, it means that if there is an accident which involves a drunk driver, passenger, or pedestrian, it is an alcohol-related incident. Based on that, who do you think should get punished more; a drunk driver, or a drunk pedestrian?
drunk driver. there is far more potential for a fatality, and serious injury, when you involve one plus tons of metal traveling at a speed in excesss of 3 miles per hour.
6) What percent of drunk driving car accidents have been fatal?
I don't know. NHTSA publishes statistics on this sort of thing. I'm a lawyer, not a statistician.
Good luck, Jackson.
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Breath can be a good choice when you know you are drunk (i.e., you strongly suspect you are well over the legal limit). The amount your BAC may drop, if it will drop, on the way to the phlebotomist, is likely too small to make a meaningful difference in the case and, by choosing blood, you are giving the government less impeachable evidence of your guilt. In other words, the immediacy of the breath test (as they are often administered at the scene) will not likely hurt you if your BAC is very high.
Whatever you do, don't ask the police officer for advice. Police generally like the convenience (to them) of a breath test. But, importantly, don't expect the person who is trying their best to gather evidence convict you of the charge to give you good advice.
Monday, March 3, 2008
UCSB is full of future law-makers, judges, and jurors. Should the Nexus consider itself a serious news organization, and not a mere puppet of the UCSB Administration and other powerful forces of the Establishment, it should stop and consider the important role it plays in influencing attitudes of our future community leaders toward police, the accused and the administration of justice. At the very least, it should endeavor to tell more than one side of any given story and stop asking its readership to take pleasure in another person's pain.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
The Pew report, cited in the AP article, was compiled by the Center on the State's Public Safety Performance Project, which is working directly with 13 states on developing programs to divert offenders from prison without jeopardizing public safety.
"For all the money spent on corrections today, there hasn't been a clear and convincing return for public safety," said the project's director, Adam Gelb.
I think the same might be true here in Santa Barbara. I encourage Sheriff Brown, and others in charge of our money, to put more thought into jail alternatives. Maybe we can do our part to show others that more people incarcerated is not the answer to the problem, but rather is the problem itself.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Now I don't doubt the sincerity of Sheriff Bill Brown, in his quest for a new jail facility, for a minute. But asking a sheriff whether jails are a good thing is kind of like asking a queen bee whether hives are a good thing. As Max Weber pointed out, bureaucracies must grow; that is what they do. They don't necessarily intend to grow, but growing brings so many collateral benefits to the individual actors, that they do so naturally and instinctively. They draw more funding, more employees, and sooner or later they are bigger of a big shot, and are making a bigger salary with a better retirement.
I have another prediction. The so-called anti-recidivism and other prevention programming that are NOW tied to the new jail proposal are going to fall by the wayside in the name of fiscal responsibility. The true purpose of the money now being sought from the County, directly from the taxpayers, and the State, is to build a new jail facility, not to trump years of budget cuts of social welfare. It sounds great, of course, to increase spending on mental health programs, homeless shelters, drug rehabilitation, etc. However, it will be easy to dump these as "pie in the sky", and generally unsatisfying expenditures that we just can't afford. The success of these programs is hard measure. The success of a jail, however, is easy to measure. If it's full of inmates; it must be working!
Thursday, February 14, 2008
I am calling on the local population that drinks alcohol to slow down. I am also asking the local police to slow down on arresting people simply because they vomited and they suspect (or know) alcohol was involved. What's wrong with giving them a rub on the back, a towel to wipe off their mouth and maybe a ride home? This is how we would treat a friend or family member in their hour of need, would we not? In this same regard, I will continue to call upon the powers that be to install a sobering center in Isla Vista; as much as that may reduce my earnings as a lawyer with a number of clients facing public intoxication misdemeanor charges. It's the right thing to do.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
"The term “public place” generally means “a location readily accessible to all those who wish to go there … .” People v. Perez (1976) 64 Cal. App. 3d 297, 301. The key consideration is whether a member of the public can access the place “without challenge.” People v. Olson (1971) 18 Cal. App. 3d 592, 598. Thus, the Olson court considered a house's front yard to be a public place because “defendant, a complete stranger to [the homeowner], was able to walk through the outside area of her home to the front door without challenge.” In contrast, a location guarded by a fence or locked door is not readily accessible to the public, and is not a public place. In People v. White (1991) 227 Cal. App. 3d 886, the court refused to deem another house's front yard a public place because it was “surrounded by a three-and-a-half foot-high fence with a gate which was unlocked at the time.” (Id. at p. 892.) It noted “the fence, gate, and [three pet] dogs all provided challenge to public access.” (Ibid.) And an interior hallway of an apartment building was considered to be a public place because “[t]here were no locked gates or doors to keep the public from entering” it. (Perez, supra, 64 Cal. App. 3d at p. 301." People v. Krohn, (Cal. Ct. App. 2007) 149 Cal. App. 4th 1294, 1298-1299.
If you don't want random people, including police officers (whether you consider them "random" or not), snooping around your yard, balconies and other outdoor places on your property, and don't want you or your guest to be arrestable for public intoxication and/or minor in possession in these areas, you should enclose these areas with a fence. It doesn't have to be a tall fence, nor even locked, per White. Dogs and "No solicitors"/"No Trespassing" signs may present these legal cognizable "challenges" to unwanted intruders, however, it seems the only clear way to protect these areas from being considered a public place is to fence them in. I will say this: I'd feel more "challenged" by a rottweiler than a 3 and half foot fence.
Saturday, February 2, 2008
It's unbelievable. It seems that winemakers should be happy that their sales are now soaring in the wake of the hit movie Sideways, rather than whining about some of the predictable pitfalls associated with successfully peddling alcohol; an addictive and oft-abused substance. And, considering the findings of a recent study at Caltech, which shows that peoples' taste in wine is highly correlated with price, it would seem that the industry might want to count their blessings. While there are some oenophiles who go to tasting rooms to check out the latest releases and actually speak "intelligently" about them as they swirl tiny amounts of them in their glasses, roll them around their palates for a minute or two only to spit them out, the majority of their sales are to the people who like the sensation created by gulping these alcoholic beverages in copious amounts much more than they enjoy the "complex" flavors associated with them.
It is truly unfortunate that the winemakers, in an effort to uphold their phoney image of catering primarily to the sophisticated connoisseurs, are speaking out so stridently against the best DUI prevention mechanism of all: designated drivers.
Friday, February 1, 2008
Thursday, January 31, 2008
What is it with these local newspaper publishers anyway? They do seem to fuel up the Santa Barbara bloggers with plenty of material...And, the lawyers are staying busy too. As a Santa Barbara Lawyer Blogger, I really appreciate you.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Knowing the substantial and multiple privacy invasions which occur each time a checkpoint is set up (all in the name of reducing traffic fatalities), we can hope that the City of Goleta will excercise some discretion before they become known as the DUI checkpoint capital of the free world. There have already been a number of DUI checkpoints in Goleta since 2004 (24, in fact). As the trend continues, we can expect that the reduction in DUI related traffic fatalities will stay, perhaps, as high as 18%. How many lives will this actually save? Well, none. None, if you consider that Goleta is fortunate enough to have an average of one traffic fatality per year (alcohol related or otherwise). While I'm glad that the funding for these checkpoints does not all come directly from the local taxpayer, I know the local taxpayers are paying dearly in terms of how much their privacy is invaded; and to what end?
Friday, January 4, 2008
The over-arching truth is that most people in this not-so-dry county are not really excited about sitting in judgment of a college-aged kid who got caught drinking. Consequently, even a few "dead-to-rights" guilty minors are going to get acquitted of the offenses at jury trial; not to mention the closer cases. So, more of these cases are being, and will be, tried as the result. This is and will continue to tie up days upon days of court time. And to what productive end?