Tag Archives: Louisiana

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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Update: First of Two Louisiana Cops Charged in Murder of Six Year Old Jeremy Mardis Sentenced to 40 Years

Marksville, LA. Police Officer Derrick Stafford was sentenced earlier today to 40 years in prison for the November 2015 murder of six year old Jeremy Mardis. Last week Stafford was convicted of manslaughter and attempted manslaughter for the shooting of Mardis and his father, Christopher Few, who was badly wounded but survived. (See below for videos of the actual shooting.) Technically, Stafford was sentenced to 55 years, but the fifteen years he received for attempting to kill Few will run concurrent to the 40 year sentence.

As has been reported several times already on the CopBlock Network (primarily by Brian Sumner and also by me personally), Mardis was killed by Stafford and Norris Greenhouse Jr. after a short car chase. Stafford and Greenhouse, who were working as Deputy Marksville City Marshals at the time, claimed that they had to defend themselves after Christopher Few had backed into Greenhouse’s vehicle.

However, body camera video showed that not only had Few, who was unarmed, stopped prior to the shooting, but that he had also raised his arms outside the window of his SUV. Other officers at the scene, including Marksville Police Lt. Kenneth Parnell, whose body camera recorded the video, did not fire their weapons and also testified that they did not do so because they did not “fear for their lives.” That “extremely disturbing” footage was later cited by Colonel Mike Edmonson of the Louisiana State Police as one of the reasons why charges were filed against Greenhouse and Stafford.

After the shooting it was revealed that Few and Greenhouse were involved in a “love triangle” involving Few’s fiancee, Megan Dixon. Prior to the shooting there had reportedly been several prior confrontations between the two. Also, just prior to the beginning of the chase that culminated in the shooting, Few had been arguing with Dixon and attempting to convince her to come home with him.

Stafford and Greenhouse were both moonlighting as Deputy Marksville City Marshals at the time. In addition to that, Stafford worked full time as a Lieutenant with the Marksville Police Department. Greenhouse, whose trial will begin later this year, previously resigned from the Marksville PD and was working full time as an Alexandria City Marshal.

Full Body Camera Video

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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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If You Really Want to Eliminate Crime, Start By Abolishing The Police

This post was written by and originally published at the Libertarian Institute under the title “Want Crime to Go Down? Abolish the Local Police.” Posts and other content you think are worth sharing with the CopBlock Network can be sent in to us via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. Some tips to make it more likely that your submission will get posted to the CopBlock Network can be found here.

(Note: This has been posted in its original form and no edits to the original text were made. Some links may have been added within the text and images have been added. In addition, the conclusions expressed within this initial introductory summary represent my own interpretation of what is being stated within Grigg’s writings.)

In the post below, Will Grigg discusses the unnecessary, redundant and wasteful local police departments in tiny towns throughout the country. Examples such as the recent resignation of the entire police force in Bunker Hill, Indiana show that these departments serve no real purpose in relation to protecting those communities from the very few real crimes committed there. And as the ill-fated “police strike” that the NYPD engaged in when people failed to bow and scrape properly to their local Heroes showed, it’s not just limited to small, rural communities, either. In fact, Louisiana’s Evangeline Parish, whose sheriff successfully petitioned to limit their police force’s “service” to revenue generation, illustrates what the real intentions (and historical origins) of the police are.

Want Crime to Go Down? Abolish the Local Police

Bunker Hill, Indiana, is a village of 900 people. It has not been consumed by the maelstrom of criminal violence that – we are told – would descend on any community even briefly deprived of the divine protection offered by a police department. The village obviously didn’t need the department it had until December 12, when the Town Marshal and his four reserve deputies walked off the job to protest decisions by the town board.

“We have had issues with the town board, and there are some activities there where I felt like they were serving their own agenda,” former Marshal Michael Thomison explained. Most of his complaints had to do with proposed budget cut-backs, and a refusal on the part of the council to purchase body armor for all five members of the department.

“I did not want to send someone out there with bad body armor,” grouses Thomison. “I told them we have to provide this…. They were just not receptive to having a police department.”

It’s just no fun to play dress-up and swagger around the village unless the kids get the full costume and all of the accessories. The historical resonance of the village’s name notwithstanding, Thomison and his buddies were not under siege by heavily armed adversaries, nor was there any realistic expectation that they ever would be.

Crime is practically non-existent in Bunker Hill – the most recent report lists one violent and ten property crimes – and the village is fifteen minutes away from the Miami County Sheriff’s Office in the county seat of Peru (a deranged cartographer was apparently responsible for assigning city and county names). It’s therefore reasonable to consider the police department as an unnecessary expense, and a potential source of avoidable trouble. That latter consideration, ironically, was underscored by the disgruntled officers themselves, who have accused town councilors of asking them to conduct unlawful background checks on each other.  The municipal officials stoutly deny ever making such requests.

What is the purpose of inflicting a police department on a minuscule settlement where crimes against persons and property are practically unknown? The obvious answer is that while such towns might be welcome havens from private criminal violence, there can be no sanctuary from revenue collection – and this is the core function of government law enforcement agencies, as Sheriff Eddie Soileau of Louisiana’s Evangeline Parish has recently reminded us.

Soileau’s office is dealing with budget cuts, layoffs, and a Justice Department civil rights investigation, and is thus determined to pare operations down to the basics. To that end, he asked for, and received, an advisory opinion from the state’s Attorney General regarding the following question: Can he legally operate “without having law enforcement duties,” and simply carrying out the role of a tax collector?

The Louisiana State Constitution, replied the Attorney General’s office, specifies that he is to be “the collector of state and parish ad valorem taxes and such other taxes and license fees as provided by law.” Where law enforcement is concerned, the sheriff’s duties are a matter of discretion. He is required to “keep the peace and make arrests,” but is not required to appoint a specific number of deputies to carry out that function. “Should a sheriff choose not to appoint deputies to assist in his law enforcement role, we could cite no statute that would forbid such a choice,” concluded the AG’s opinion.

Odd as this might seem to people who were suckled on resilient myths about sheriffs and police officers as valiant defenders of the public and protectors of private property, Sheriff Soileau’s arrangement actually restores his office to its primordial purpose.

Following the Norman conquest of England, the existing kinship-based system for defense of property and settlement of disputes was supplanted by a feudal order enforced through royal appointees called shire-reeves or shire-riffs – antecedents of the modern sheriff. Their duty was to maintain the “king’s peace” by collecting taxes and preventing private efforts at restitution for injuries. It was impermissible for subjects to settle disputes among themselves, since this would deprive the royal treasury of the fees imposed through the embryonic state’s “justice” system.

This is the disreputable origin of the venerable office of the local sheriff, the only lawman whose occupation is even remotely compatible with the American constitutional tradition. A spare handful of contemporary sheriffs, at most, see their role as protecting property rights, rather than serving the privileged elite that preys on the public, and they can expect to be harassed and driven from office.

Everything the State says is a lie, everything it claims to own it has stolen, and every act undertaken to enforce the State’s edicts is a crime. The disappearance of a law enforcement agency enhances the personal security of those residing in any community where such a blessed development occurs.

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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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