Your Honor I am ready to proceed on my Motion. “DENIED!!!” she thinks to herself.
I am ready to fight the fight for my client. I am here enthusiastically and ready to proceed. The Judge thinks to herself I have already made my ruling but says aloud, “State call your first witness.” To anyone reading this blog-I promise I am not a conspiracy theorist.
Today was another Motion to Suppress in the Palm Beach Court house and upon walking in and receiving a half-hearted hello from the judge I knew it was going to be an uphill battle. The judge indicated that she had read my motion and did her own research-so my internal question was long she would allow me argue before her denial. I have never argued before this judge before but her tone let me know that her “own research” meant that she had already decided to deny my motion and would look for any nail to hang her cloaked police uniform. The “cloaked police uniform” is just my way of saying that she is a state oriented judge who looks for any reason to side with the police because she is a secret member.
The State began the Motion to Suppress by evoking the direct testimony of a security guard. The security guard’s eye witness testimony was that he did not see the car my client was driving. Did not see my client. Could not say anything except that a car traveling at a high rate of speed went through the visitors entrance of the apartment complex and hit the cross bar breaking it off. Cross examination was three questions regarding the housing complex size and the fact that there was another entrance to the property wherein the majority of residents and visitors travelled.
Second witness was another security guard. The state asked routine questions to establish the facts but failed to elicit testimony that contradicted the issue contained in my written motion. On cross examination I began to methodically dismantle and clarify important points that were discussed in my motion. My motion cited two important cases and had a fact pattern which was consistent with my clients fact pattern. Each leading question I asked correlated to my cited cases. The fact patterns correlated so well that I used exact questions and issues that the 4th DCA alluded to in their analysis. My goal was deter this biased court from distinguishing my case from the relevant precedent; the closer my questions related to the precedent cases the less likely this judge could find something to deny my motion. When the state made no objection to my line of questioning the judge started to make rulings sustaining the objection. This is improper because the state had made no formal objection in my opinion so I looked the judge in the eyes and stated, “is the court making an objection?” wherein her black robe uncloaked itself temporarily displaying the palm beach county police blue uniform that she proudly wears in her mind. She told me with attitude that my questions were not relevant. I do not ask irrelevant questions. Again, I indicated that I heard no objection from the state and I made my record of why it was relevant. She sustained her own objection- for those who are not lawyers and have no formal understanding of the legal process allow me to explain. My opponent, the State Attorney, who represents the State of Florida had no objection to any line of questioning I made but the judge nonetheless interrupted my questioning and told me that it was irrelevant so I explained the reason I thought it was relevant and then she made a ruling that her previous objection was sustained;she agreed with herself-go figure. The issue that she believed to be irrelevant was one of the factors that the appellate court had previously discussed in my cited cases. They believed it important because it would ultimately go to determining whether a felony occurred in the presence of a civilian. If a felony had occurred in the security guards presence and if the security guard detained my client, making a citizens arrest, then any information relayed to the police by the security officer would be allowed and the arrest proper. Without this information, the officer could not make a legal arrest because the elements of the crime had not occurred in his presence. My opinion is that the entire line of questioning was very relevant. She stopped me from asking the question about the guard gate and the value of the gate and any damage so I plodded onward. The issue was whether or not the security officers’ had made a citizens arrest so I asked the security guard, “did you make a citizens arrest?” The judge interrupted me again to tell me my question was improper because it asked for a legal conclusion-again no objection from the state so I argued my point against the judge as she was apparently my adversary. I decided to stop arguing with her and lay the proper foundation so that any appellate court would understand that the security guard had just graduated from the police academy 3 weeks prior to having contact with my client. ” In your training at the police academy you were taught what an arrest was-correct? what a citizens arrest was? He answered in the affirmative so I asked the question again whether he was attempting to make a citizens arrest and he replied, “NO.” I pounded the point home further by asking him if he used his gun to detain my client. I wanted to know if he made any show of authority toward my client to ensure his presence. Did he use his gun or his handcuffs to apprehend my client? He indicated that he did nothing but talk to my client in an effort to distract him while the police were in route. ” Could my client have fled?” ”Yes,” he replied. The State tried to rehabilitate but I objected and the judge sustained my objections of asked and answered.
The third and final witness was the arresting police officer. The state elicited on direct examination that the officer arrived an arrested my client. On cross I showed that the state had the wrong cop as he was last to arrive and that my client was detained by a Sargent who arrived first on scene. The officer claimed that he did a crash investigation. However, the judge ruled that the barricade crash was irrelevant so I assume he was investigating careless driving and the crash of a car with a parking cone? He was investigating civil infractions that he himself did not witness and can not be a basis for his detention unless the officer witnessed them. My client was then arrested although officer admitted he did not see defendant in car, car was not running and keys were sitting on hood. I know I am beating a dead horse but…
The Judge then asked for argument and I asked for a brief moment to review the state’s case law since they gave it to me as they called their first witness. Additionally, I wanted to review my argument momentarily but rather than giving me the brief moment she insisted that the state give their argument first. The state’s argument was simply that it was a citizens arrest so the motion should be denied. I then proceeded with my argument and went step by step through the relevant case law and showed that the facts in my case were nearly identical to the cases already decided in this circuit. The judge allowed me to make my record without interruption so I can not complain as to that part of it.
The judge rendered her ruling by misquoting the sworn testimony and adding in her own testimony. The main security officer had testified that the reason he had tried to persuade my client from leaving the scene was because he feared for the safety of community residents who routinely walked, ran and bicycled during the late night and early morning hours and my client appeared to be intoxicated. She decided that nobody walks, runs, or rides their bicycle at this time of morning. The testimony was unchallenged but she added her own personal idea of what happens at this complex. She then found that the breaking of the gate was irrelevant because nobody could ascertain that it was my client that ran through the gate at a high rate of speed. She understood one of my points. :) She than came to the conclusion that because the security guard believed my client was impaired that he had a legal right to detain him and talking to him was a citizens arrest. Keep in mind the case I cited indicates that a felony must occur in the presence of citizen for a citizens arrest to be valid. The only things that the security guard witnessed was: my clients car traveling faster than the security guards vehicle but less that 30mph which is the speed limit, weaving, and the collision of my clients vehicle with an orange parking cone made of rubber and plastic. The security guard also testified that he believed my client was impaired when he voluntarily exited his vehicle. While the judge rendered her ruling and recital of the facts, I apparently shook my head in displeasure and the judge stopped and yelled at me and told me I was unprofessional and disrespectful to the court. If I did shake my head it was not intentional. Yes, I was in disbelief that she basically ignored nearly every bit of my cross examination and the relevant reading of the case law but I am always respectful in court. I understand that I own the courtroom and the judge is the referee. The robe should be black and white. The referee should always be respected because of their title but they should also be told when they are wrong. Defending my client zealously does not mean that I need to ignore the obvious bias that a judge displays and keep quiet. My job is to convince the judge that my position is correct and if he/she disagrees then my job is to file the appropriate appeal. Since I can not actually spank a judge in court I respectfully urge an appellate court to do it on my client’s behalf with a reversal of the trial court’s ruling. Nothing better than the entire legal community reading that a trial judge made a mistake-its like a public reprimand.
It does bother me that certain people disagree with me but if I followed the naysayers then I would never succeed. I have been a criminal trial lawyer for 7 years and have had a highly successful run defending my clients. That success is brought on by my passion for winning and my insistence that the police do their job correctly regardless of how egregious my client’s actions. If my client is 100% guilty of the crime but the police screw up the investigation then that is not my problem. When a judge fails to be neutral and ignores the evidence then the system has a problem and its up to me to file the appropriate documentation to appeal that wrongful decision. The appellate court will hopefully review the evidence and render justice.
In conclusion, I understand that people are people and we all make mistakes. Those of us who have promised to uphold the law should work to better understand it and to fight to keep it sacred. Our society has so many problems and battles need to be carefully chosen but the Constitution is one battle worth fighting. My daily battles can be overwhelming but they are no different than the battles of the state attorneys office, who argue in direct opposition, or the judges that have to render rulings after listening to all the issues, or the police that deal with all of societies issues daily. We are all in it together and as I vent my displeasure with todays court hearing I must also consider that all those that battle in the criminal justice system start with the premise of doing the right thing. WE are all guilty of losing track of things so I pray that we all gain focus and understanding of the system and do our best to preserve it while also forgiving those those who do an injustice to the system. I hope that its not intentional.
If you read this blog then I appreciate your reading my random thoughts. I do not claim to be writer but I enjoy ranting on the net. Thanks again and God Bless America and all those who reside under its Constitution.