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Archive for October, 2009

Governor Schwarzenegger’s Wife a Scoff law?

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

Celebrity and entertainment website TMZ.com recently posted pictures depicting California’s First Lady Maria Shriver twice breaking California’s law against using a hand held cell phone while driving.

Marie Shriver’s husband Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed off in 2008 on the law that requires all California drivers to use hands free mobile phones while driving.

The law is one that many, not just Governor Schwarzenegger’s wife, have more honored in the breach than in the observance.  Is a law that is more often broken than observed really a good law at all?  California drivers can do just about anything else possible, and legally, while driving.

There does not appear to be a ground swell for support for changing the law prohibiting cell phone use while driving.  Governor Schwarzenegger promised swift action in response to his wife’s law violations, and the California First lady has apologized.

If you or someone you know has questions regarding criminal justice issues please contact San Jose DUI Lawyer Bernard P. Bray.

Enough of Zero Tolerance Yet Again?

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Six year old first grader Zachary Christie was recently suspended  from Downes Elementary School in Newark Delaware for bringing a camping eating utensil to school.  He was initially faced with the prospect of a 45 day commitment to reform school for his transgression.

In previous blog entries I addressed the Milpitas California High School Official’s decision to bar from high school graduation ceremonies a student who had broken up an on school campus fight in the name of maintaining the integrity of the school district’s zero tolerance policy on campus violence, and the United States Supreme Court’s decision of early this year in Safford School District v. Redding, where the court deemed unreasonable a strip search of a 13 year old girl alleged to have been in possession of ibuprofen.

Enough of zero tolerance yet?  The Newark Delaware School District Board voted to amend the district’s zero tolerance policy allowing for a less draconian punishment for Zachary of three to five days of suspension, rather than the initially indicated reform school commitment.  To accommodate Zachary the amendment to the policy was made retroactive to the beginning of the school year.

Are schools really moving forward?   Is this a signal of the beginning of the end of zero judgment, zero tolerance for school culture in the United States?

If you or someone you know has questions regarding criminal justice issues and youth please contact the San Jose Juvenile Lawyers at the Law Offices of Bernard P. Bray.

Will the Sun Shine Again in San Jose?

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

On Tuesday night October 20, 2009, the San Jose City Council will address a recommendation by the Sunshine Reform Task Force, to release more police records, and increase reporting of police statistics.

Certainly not many would disagree that openness builds trust.  Recent San Jose controversies (all discussed previously in this blog) stemming from San Jose City Hall resistance to information sharing in the Daniel Pham shooting by San Jose Police case, last year’s DUI alleged injury accident case involving former San Jose police officer Sandra Woodall, and last summer’s scandal concerning alleged bad faith public drunkenness arrests in downtown San Jose, to mention but a few, all support the San Jose City Council supporting the Sunshine Reform Task Force recommendations.

Will the sun shine again in San Jose?

If you or someone you know has questions regarding criminal justice issues please contact the San Jose DUI Lawyers at the Law Offices of Bernard P. Bray.

Terminated SJPD Officers: Political Sacrificial Lambs or Cover Up Failures?

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

In March of 2008 District Attorney Investigator/former San Jose Police Officer Sandra Woodall was involved in a traffic collision that resulted in an injury. Highly regarded, and well liked, responding San Jose Police Officers Sergeant Will Manion and Officer Patrick D’Arrigo are reported to have failed to conduct a DUI investigation notwithstanding evidence of possible DUI, and to have filed police reports indicating that there was no evidence of drinking impaired driving involved with the accident.

A responding emergency medical technician latter claimed that Woodall appeared disoriented, smelled of alcohol, and admitted to drinking. The mother of the young woman injured in the accident asked the officers at the hospital to test Woodall for alcohol, and later filed a complaint when tests were not performed. Woodall was ultimately charged with DUI, and pleaded guilty to same.

Sergeant Manion and Officer D’Arrigo were both terminated from the San Jose Police Department by Chief Rob Davis who has recently been through a tumultuous run politically with widespread community discussion about discriminatory arrests, police pension costs, police substation cost overruns, sunshine law issues relating to the public’s access to police records, POA issues, to name but a few.

Was Woodall afforded special treatment because of her connection with Law Enforcement? Were the Sergeant and Officer treated overly harshly, after all a grand jury concluded that the two were not guilty of any criminal conduct? Should emergency medical technicians and citizens be second guessing more qualified police officers when it comes to crime investigation?

The most important issue of all, as far as this writer is concerned, is whether the terminated officers filed false reports with a view toward covering up a possible crime to protect a fellow law enforcement officer. Police reports are relied on by citizens, probation officers, prosecutors, judges, attorneys, insurance companies, and the laundry list goes on and on. Police reports are afforded deference to an extent that there are looked upon in many quarters as the gospel truth. The need for unqualified fidelity and good faith in the preparation of police reports is an unquestioned absolute. Police officer false reporting is a felony offense in the state of California pursuant to California Penal Code section 118.1. However, as above noted, a grand jury exonerated the Officers of any criminal conduct.

While this matter involved city employee personnel issues, the City of San Jose needs to fully address the above issues. Were the Sergeant and Officer made to be political scapegoats to revive a Police Chief’s sagging political reputation, or was there really a double standard, and bad faith exercise of discretion on the Officer’s part, in the investigation and follow up to the March 2008 traffic accident with a view toward covering up a possible crime to protect a fellow law enforcement officer?

If you have questions regarding criminal justice issues contact San Jose Criminal Lawyer Bernard P. Bray.

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