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LA Supreme Court: It’s Reasonable to Believe “Give Me a Lawyer Dog” was Request for a Dog Who is a Lawyer

Lawyer Dog Louisiana Supreme Court Canine Attorney

Lawyer Dog should really ask Grumpy Judge to recuse herself. #JusSayin

Recently, the Louisiana Supreme Court issued a ruling on a motion to suppress evidence against Warren Demesme, who is currently awaiting trial in New Orleans. By a 6-1 majority the court denied that motion, which maintained that statements Demesme had made should be thrown because the police had ignored his request for legal counsel during interrogations.

What’s gotten a lot of attention (and rightfully so) since that ruling is the courts’ contention that Demesme’s request was ambiguous and unclear. But even more so for the reasoning behind the ruling. Orleans Parish Assistant District Attorney Kyle Daly argued in his response to the motion that Demesme’s statement, “just give me a lawyer dog,” could be misinterpreted by a “reasonable officer” based on the use of the words “lawyer dog.”

In a brief accompanying the decision, Louisiana Associate Supreme Court Justice Scott J. Crichton agreed that the defendant’s use of “lawyer dog” could be misconstrued to mean something else and therefore did not qualify as a request for counsel.

Via the Washington Post:

Warren Demesme, then 22, was being interrogated by New Orleans police in October 2015 after two young girls claimed he had sexually assaulted them. It was the second time he’d been brought in, and he was getting a little frustrated, court records show. He had repeatedly denied the crime. Finally, Demesme told the detectives:

“This is how I feel, if y’all think I did it, I know that I didn’t do it so why don’t you just give me a lawyer dog ’cause this is not what’s up.” The punctuation, arguably critical to Demesme’s use of the sobriquet “dog,” was provided by the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s office in a brief, and then adopted by Louisiana Associate Supreme Court Justice Scott J. Crichton.

Demesme subsequently made admissions to the crime, prosecutors said, and was charged with aggravated rape and indecent behavior with a juvenile. He is being held in the Orleans Parish jail awaiting trial.

The public defender for Orleans Parish, Derwyn D. Bunton, took on Demesme’s case and filed a motion to suppress Demesme’s statement. In a court brief, Bunton noted that police are legally bound to stop questioning anyone who asks for a lawyer. “Under increased interrogation pressure,” Bunton wrote, “Mr. Demesme invokes his right to an attorney, stating with emotion and frustration, ‘Just give me a lawyer.’” The police did not stop their questioning, Bunton argued, “when Mr. Demesme unequivocally and unambiguously asserted his right to counsel.”

Louisiana Associate Supreme Court Justice Scott J. Crichton

Louisiana Associate Supreme Court Justice Scott J. Crichton

Orleans Parish Assistant District Attorney Kyle Daly responded in his brief that Demesme’s “reference to a lawyer did not constitute an unambiguous invocation of his right to counsel, because the defendant communicated that whether he actually wanted a lawyer was dependent on the subjective beliefs of the officers.” Daly added, “A reasonable officer under the circumstances would have understood, as [the detectives] did, that the defendant only might be invoking his right to counsel.”

Bunton’s motion to throw out Demesme’s statement was rejected by the trial court and the appeals court, so he took it to the state Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, in a ruling issued last Friday and first reported by Reason, could have denied the appeal without issuing a written ruling, which it does in most cases. But Justice Crichton decided to write a brief concurrence “to spotlight the very important constitutional issue regarding the invocation of counsel during a law enforcement interview.”

Crichton noted that Louisiana case law has ruled that “if a suspect makes a reference to an attorney that is ambiguous or equivocal . . . the cessation of questioning is not required.” Crichton then concluded: “In my view, the defendant’s ambiguous and equivocal reference to a ‘lawyer dog’ does not constitute an invocation of counsel that warrants termination of the interview.”

So…

There’s a lot of things wrong with that decision. The most obvious issue is that they didn’t actually provide him with a dog who is a lawyer, as they claim they thought he had requested. It’s probably not the wisest move to request a dog to represent you in court, but if he’s a good boy and graduated from an accredited law school, who am I to cast aspersions?

Of course, that’s kind of the biggest problem with the “logic” of this ruling. They couldn’t give him a “lawyer dog” because, outside of memes on the internets, it’s not an actual thing. At this point in history, not one single dog has ever managed to pass the bar exam. Not Lassie, not Rin Tin Tin, not Benji, not even Snoopy. Scooby Doo is way to high to even think about taking the SAT’s, let alone the LSAT’s, and don’t even get me started on Marmaduke.

If any dog could have pulled it off, it obviously would have been Brian Griffin, but he died tragically after eating chocolate out of the garbage years ago. So, he’s not available right now.

What it boils down to is, if somebody asks for legal council, as is their constitutional right under the Sixth Amendment, you shouldn’t just be able to pretend you didn’t understand them because they used some (not uncommon) slang. In fact, if for some reason they ask for a “lawyer dog,” but there aren’t any available (or willing to work pro bone-o), then you give them a lawyer human instead.

It’s hard to have a lot of faith in the U.S. Injustice System, especially after rulings like this (not to mention all the coerced confessions and false convictions they allow for). However, you would hope that some sense of common decency and shame would compel the next appeals court this goes in front of to render a proper ruling on this nonsense.

I have a suspicion this might be a big part of the reason why the State of Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the entire world.

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Louisiana Deputy Accused of Using Taser on His Fiancee During Domestic Violence Incident

A deputy with the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office appeared in court last week. In September, Deputy Victor Cass Butler was accused of using his department issued taser on his fiancee during a domestic dispute in Vidalia, Louisiana, where he lives. According to court files, the data saved on Butler’s stun gun shows that it was used “several times” that day.

Via the Natchez Democrat:

“From what I understand, it was a confrontation (at his residence),” [Vidalia Police Chief Joey] Merrill said.

Sources close to the investigation said Butler allegedly used the stun gun multiple times.

Merrill declined to give more details about the incident or how many times Butler reportedly used the stun gun on the victim, citing the ongoing investigation.

Following the incident, the victim was treated and released at a local hospital, Merrill said.

The stun gun allegedly used in the incident was sent to Alexandria to be evaluated, Merrill said. The stun gun has a computer system, Merrill said, that records the date and time of when the weapon was fired and how many times it was fired.

More information will be made public when VPD is able to get the records of the weapon’s use, Merrill said.

“This was an unfortunate event for both parties involved,” Merrill said. “We at Vidalia Police Department are going to investigate this case fully and make sure justice is served. We, as neighboring law-enforcement agencies, are going to move forward and get past this unfortunate event.”

In spite of how unfortunate this was for both of them, the fiancee who was tasered multiple times was apparently the only one that had to be treated at the hospital afterwards.

Also, although he was originally charged with aggravated battery, Deputy Butler, who had only recently been rehired by the CPSO and has since resigned from the sheriff’s department, has already had the charged reduced to just simple battery. He pled not guilty to that during his latest court appearance and is due back in court in April. By that time, a deal involving a fine and some community service should be ready for him to accept and get right back to work tasing people out on the streets.

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Three New Orleans Police Officers Caught Selling Untaxed Cigarettes; Not Choked to Death

Late last month, six people including three New Orleans police officers, were indicted as part of an illegal tobacco smuggling ring. The scheme, which lasted just about one year, involved smuggling cigarettes and cigars across state lines in order to avoid paying federal and state taxes.

Officers Justin Brown and Joshua Carthon, of the New Orleans Police Department and Deputy Garrett Partman, Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, are accused of accepting bribes in exchanging for transporting the products across state lines and providing protection during the trips.

Via TheAdvocate.com:

Federal prosecutors say the conspiracy began in September 2015, when two Gretna men, Jadallah Saed, 30, and Anwar “Tony” Abdelmajid-Ahmad, 29, started buying thousands of cartons of cigarettes considered by the authorities to be contraband because they had no state tax stamps on their packaging.

Authorities said the racket involved at least 15,000 cartons of cigarettes. It was unclear where they obtained the cigarettes.

Beginning in January, the indictment says, the two police officers, joined by Abdelmajid-Ahmad, would transport the cigarettes to another co-defendant in North Carolina, Atalla Atalla, a 38-year-old Wilmington man known as “Tommy.” The officers made their second trip in March but were joined this time by Partman, the indictment alleges.

The defendants face a host of charges, including conspiring to traffic contraband cigarettes, evading federal excise tax and interstate transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises.

Partman, 31, resigned from the Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday, said Philip Stelly, an agency spokesman. Stelly said Partman was hired in January 2010, but it was not clear whether he had been assigned to the city’s jail or the Sheriff’s Office’s civil division.

Meanwhile, the two officers, Brown and Carthon, were placed on emergency suspension without pay this week, officials said. Brown, 29, has been with the New Orleans Police Department for four years and most recently was assigned to the Special Operations Division.

Carthon, 32, is a seven-year veteran and most recently served in the 7th District, which covers New Orleans East. He previously was suspended for 25 days following an April 2014 drunk-driving incident in which he crashed his pickup while driving with a blood-alcohol content of .131. He also was involved in a fatal officer-involved shooting following an armed robbery last year, which the authorities deemed to be justified.

I’d say I was surprised by that last paragraph, but it’s getting hard to find a report of a cop who was (finally) busted that already didn’t have a long list of previous misconduct and very mild slaps on the wrist. One thing I did find just a bit odd was that, unlike Eric Garner in New York, the cops in New Orleans weren’t forced to choke any of these guys to death for selling untaxed cigarettes.

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After Recent Shootings of Police, Cops Prepare to Double Down on the Police State

Police State Militarization Cop Block

The following post was originally published at TheAntiMedia.org under the original title “Here Are the New Tactics Police Are Preparing to Roll out in Your Communityand was written by Darius Shahtahmasebi.

In the post, Shahtahmasebi discusses how the police plan to respond to the recent shootings of police by citizens in several cities (this was written prior to the incident in San Diego) across the country. Not surprisingly, instead of stepping back and saying, “maybe all those times we unnecessarily shot people and/or refused to hold each other accountable for it or even essentially celebrated it had something to do with this” police nationwide are preparing to become even more militarized and violent toward the citizens they claim to protect and serve.

Here Are the New Tactics Police Are Preparing to Roll out in Your Community

Following the recent events in the United States, which have resulted in armed civilians taking on police officers—namely in DallasBaton Rouge, and most recently in Kansas City, Kansas —  police forces across the country are set to adjust their strategies and tactics.

An interesting detail to note is that on July 11, 2016 — following the first deadly attacks on police officers that occurred in Dallas — Reuters reported police were set to rethink their tactics in nearly half of America’s 30 largest cities. They evidently didn’t act swiftly enough (a number of deadly attacks followed shortly after). It’s either that or the suggested police tactics were never going to address the root causes of the problem we are facing.

So what kind of changes can we expect to see?

The most prominent change to occur is the pairing up of police officers. However, some more drastic suggestions are also in the pipeline. For example, the Indianapolis police force has said it will consider the use of robots to “deliberately deliver lethal force.” Denver’s police union has called for officers to be able to wear riot gear for local protests, and to be armed with AR-15 assault rifles while on patrol at the Denver International Airport.

In the wake of the Baton Rouge shooting, other changes likely to occur include: requiring that two cars respond to all calls, shifting officers to serve as extra backup, imposing increased security and surveillance, increasing the number of helicopter patrols, and suspending solo patrols.

It seems as if the police are considering all options — anything, that is, but refraining from summarily executing unarmed civilians in broad daylight. At the very least, they could start by prosecuting those responsible for such incidents. Apparently, however, that is too much to ask of those who are sworn to protect and serve.

America’s current president, elected on promises of hope and change, has told police officers across the country that “we have your back.” This is noteworthy because to date, there has been no concrete effort on the part of the president to address the underlying issues that have resulted in the uprising starting to unfold. To date, he has insisted on ploys that are nothing but politically acceptable attempts at pleasing all parties involved. I would go so far as to argue Donald Trump’s racist tirades do more for minority groups — by empowering and uniting them against his demagoguery — than Barack Obama has done his whole time in office, which has reflected his unwillingness to actually represent them on issues that grossly affect them.

The saddest part about this ongoing issue is that the tactics as suggested by satirical newspaper, The Onion, are more honest than any conversation our police departments or politicians are having about police brutality in the United States.

In particular, the outlet suggested the ability to ensure this can all legally be thrown out the window if a cop feels threatened” is something police forces across the country are so apt at implementing, The Onion need not have mentioned it all together.

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Former Chicago Bears Superbowl QB Jim McMahon Urges NFL Allow Medical Marijuana For Players

Jim McMahon Medical Marijuana NFL

Jim McMahon, the Superbowl XX winning quarterback from the 1985 Chicago Bears, a team which is often considered one of the best all-time teams and arguably the best defense in the history of the NFL, has joined the long list of people advocating for the medical use of marijuana.

Currently, McMahon is battling symptoms attributed to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), such as early dementia, severe headaches, memory loss and depression, all of which have been attributed to the effects of multiple concussions and for obvious reasons are especially prevalent among people involved in contact sports.

Even in states in which medical marijuana has already been legalized, the National Football League prohibits its use among players. Anyone testing positive for marijuana use, regardless of local laws (even in Washington and Colorado, which both allow recreational use), are subject to punishments that increase with each instance.

McMahon made his statements advocating for marijuana as an alternative to opiates for pain management while appearing as part of a panel discussion by retired NFL players at the Cannabis World Congress and Business Expo. The panel was held at Manhattan’s Javits Convention Center.

Via the Sporting News:

The panel, according to the New York Daily News, was moderated by former Giants defensive lineman Leonard Marshall and included former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, former Broncos tight end Nate Jackson, former Broncos wide receiver Charlie Adams and former Jaguars offensive tackle Eben Britton.

McMahon, who is dealing with early dementia, severe headaches, memory loss and depression — all symptoms associated with too many concussions — believes he would be healthier now if he was allowed to use marijuana instead of pills during his playing career. Marijuana is an effective pain killer and less harmful than opiods, McMahon said.

“Hundreds of thousands of people are dying from [painkillers] and there’s not one case of people dying from the hemp plant,” McMahon said.

Britton added, “Juxtaposing my experiences with pharmaceutical drugs like Vicodin and Percocet, that made me angry and irritable, frustrated, didn’t get rid of any of the pain, made it difficult to sleep, increased my heart rate and made me feel crazy. On the other side of that there’s cannabis that helped me sleep, put me into a healing state of being where I was relieved from stress and anxiety as well as feeling the pain relief.”

Jackson, who appeared on an edition of HBO’s Real Sports that dealt with the same issue, added, “The owners of these teams are, by and large, wealthy men who are older and do not understand that this is a pretty innocuous substance.”

As is also mentioned in the Sporting News article, this offseason the Baltimore Ravens cut Eugene Monroe, a former first round pick who has campaigned publicly for the acceptance of medical marijuana in the NFL. Many people, including Monroe, have attributed that move to his strong advocacy for cannabis use, although the Ravens have denied that is the case.

Jim McMahon Superbowl XX MoonMcMahon, who was known as much for his flamboyant attitude and defiance of arbitrary or silly rules as he was for his play on the field, is no stranger to alternative medical practices or controversy. In one of the more famous photos from the build up to Superbowl XX, he mooned a helicopter while wearing a headband that said “ACUPUNCTURE” on it.

He later explained that he was just showing the media where he had received treatment for an injury he had received in a game the previous week. (The headband derived from an incident earlier in the season where he was fined $5,000 for having an Adidas label on his head band during a game and subsequently wore a headband with “ROZELLE” written on it in reference to the league commissioner, who had fined him.)

Jim McMahon Rozelle HeadbandIt’s silly and contradictory that the NFL approves the use of opiates and all kinds of other horrible pharmaceutical medications for players if they have a prescription (and sometimes without even having one), but prohibits the same medical rights for cannabis patients, even in locations where it can be legally prescribed by a doctor. In fact, it’s not at all unusual for players with lingering injuries to receive shots that numb the affected area in order to play during a game. Stories have even emerged of players receiving such shots in the locker room during a game in which they were injured.

So, it’s clearly not a case of the NFL being opposed to drug use in general or a concern for the safety or health of players. Their refusal to accept that playing in the NFL and improper care for concussions in the past increased the chances of players developing CTE alone is proof of that not being true.

The least they could do is give those players the option of using a safe and non-addictive option to treat the pain is inherent to the game. Being that there are different laws in the different cities which have NFL teams, there’s a small complication in the fact that some players would have access to legal medical marijuana while others wouldn’t because they state they live in still living in the dark ages.

However, in reality, all they would have to do is remove it from the list of drugs which they test for. Legally, they are not under any obligation to test for drugs, whether they are illegal or otherwise. Players certainly make enough money that they could set up residence during the offseason within the states that do allow its use for the next four or five years or so until it’s made legal not just for medical use, but for recreational use as well, nationwide. (That writings on the wall in big letters.)

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