A Long and Winding Road

When the federal government brings its awesome powers to bear down upon you, it wreaks havoc with your life and can jeopardize not only your freedom but your faith in justice.

My faith in justice was renewed today when a judge ruled in favor of my client who had been subjected to a traffic stop and vehicle search on the interstate -- and suppressed the 12,000 ecstasy pills found in the car, because as important as it is to stop the flow of the drugs, it's just as important to uphold the Constitution.

I couldn't have won the case alone. These days, it takes a village to win. [More...]

I had a private investigator, a computer expert who prepared maps and other graphics, a transcriber for the audio recording of the 30 minute encounter and an expert weatherologist. We used everything from Lexis Nexis to PACER to free government sites and Google Earth maps.

Listening to the court's ruling, which the judge delivered from the bench, it was apparent that the exhibits, particularly the maps of long and winding roads, the weatherologist's findings and the timetable as established by the transcription, all played a big factor. As did the extremely prepared and effective counsel for the co-defendant. By collaborating in advance and sharing our information and resources, we complemented each others presentations and arguments, rather than being redundant or at cross-purposes.

A second reason my faith in the system is renewed: Both clients were indigent. Since the public defenders' office had a conflict, the government funded the defense, including legal fees for private counsel, expert services and expenses.

As often as I complain about the effect of our many draconian laws, I also always say, for all its flaws, we have the best criminal justice system in the world. It was great to witness it in action today.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Congratulations, Jeralyn (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by lobary on Tue May 05, 2009 at 06:30:07 PM EST
    Your client is fortunate to have such a committed advocate arguing on his/her behalf.

    Now go pour yourself a tall glass of red wine.

    Congrats J!!! (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 05, 2009 at 06:31:47 PM EST
    E all around!! Just kidding . . .

    Great win.

    You are also part of the village (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Jeralyn on Tue May 05, 2009 at 06:41:31 PM EST
    Thanks to you and TChris, I was able to forego blogging this past week to prepare. You are very appreciated.

    What was the dismissal based on? (none / 0) (#9)
    by ChiTownMike on Tue May 05, 2009 at 07:08:44 PM EST
    From your description of the winding roads and weather it sounds like it dismissed as an illegal stop more than a legal stop and illegal search.

    Wow (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by Steve M on Tue May 05, 2009 at 07:05:59 PM EST
    That's an awful lot of pills.  Way to go Jeralyn!

    We have closing arguments today in a big arbitration hearing that's been going on for the last two weeks.  I was at the office until 4am last night and I can't wait to get this over with.

    Congratulations, Jeralyn (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by mexboy on Tue May 05, 2009 at 07:25:55 PM EST
    It takes a skilled and resourceful attorney to make the system work.

    You did that!

    Glad to hear the system worked (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by andgarden on Tue May 05, 2009 at 07:29:58 PM EST

    Good Work (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by randy80302 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 07:35:21 PM EST
    From a person who went to prison because my public defender was unwilling to do the work to get the evidence suppressed. My case the cop lied and my lawyer said he would not go to bat because he would have to write a brief.

    Now back to the mission of working to reform the laws...

    Congratulations, Jeralyn. (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by easilydistracted on Tue May 05, 2009 at 08:09:50 PM EST
    Good Job. Billo will probably pounce on it as an example of the criminal justice system run amok.

    Kudos, Jeralyn! (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by byteb on Tue May 05, 2009 at 08:41:20 PM EST

    Tax dollars put to good use and a win (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by coast on Tue May 05, 2009 at 08:54:21 PM EST

    A Nice Win (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by downtownted on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:33:17 PM EST
    How wonderful for you. I have noticed all the time you have mentioned you needed to get to work on reviewing potential evidence or working on briefs or other matters on this case. Lots of long hard work. It is good to get a just result. It doesn't always happen, even though it may be deserved in many other cases.

    How wonderful for your client that he had you for a lawyer

    12000 pills AND indigent? That's a head scratcher (none / 0) (#3)
    by steviez314 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 06:35:24 PM EST

    bad economy (none / 0) (#6)
    by Dadler on Tue May 05, 2009 at 07:03:02 PM EST

    seriously (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Dadler on Tue May 05, 2009 at 07:04:50 PM EST
    for the kind of defense necessary to take on a government gone nuts in these cases, i'd guess many of us wouldn't be able to come close to affording it.

    simply an employee (none / 0) (#17)
    by randy80302 on Tue May 05, 2009 at 07:37:44 PM EST
    My guess is that the defendant was working for someone whose product was owned on credit.

    Important lesson (none / 0) (#5)
    by nellre on Tue May 05, 2009 at 06:44:06 PM EST
    Cops are not above the law! Neither are prosecutes and politicians.

    Funny one (none / 0) (#10)
    by maddog on Tue May 05, 2009 at 07:09:15 PM EST
    Just because someone wasn't convicted doesn't mean they are innocent.

    You sound like one of those people ... (none / 0) (#12)
    by cymro on Tue May 05, 2009 at 07:22:49 PM EST
    ... who still insist that OJ is guilty of murder, despite his having been acquitted.

    Oh Please (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by talesoftwokitties on Tue May 05, 2009 at 08:08:52 PM EST
    don't go there!

    i am. (5.00 / 2) (#22)
    by cpinva on Tue May 05, 2009 at 10:19:52 PM EST
    You sound like one of those people  who still insist that OJ is guilty of murder, despite his having been acquitted

    you're confusing actual innocence with the failure of the state to prove guilt, beyond a reasonable doubt. the two are not, by definition, mutually inclusive.

    had i been on that jury, i too would have voted for acquittal. not because i truly thought he was innocent, but because the state failed to prove its case.


    Jeralyn, can you explain why those exhibits ... (none / 0) (#11)
    by cymro on Tue May 05, 2009 at 07:13:39 PM EST
    ... were relevant? The only thing I can imagine is that you were trying to show that the traffic stop was planned, and did not happen for the reason stated by the police (like erratic driving behavior, which might make it permissible to search a vehicle for evidence like an open bottle of booze). But that's all just pure speculation.

    Congratulations anyway! But are you able to elaborate, for the benefit of readers like me who are largely ignorant of these types of legal procedures?

    I'd rather not (none / 0) (#14)
    by Jeralyn on Tue May 05, 2009 at 07:29:38 PM EST
    write about the specifics publicly. It wasn't a high profile case or in the news. The trooper wasn't found to have lied, he was just wrong in his belief of what he was allowed and not allowed to do legally.

    the other route to release (none / 0) (#24)
    by diogenes on Wed May 06, 2009 at 04:39:18 AM EST
    Didn't the Supreme Court just rule that the police couldn't routinely search a car upon a traffic stop, which would have rendered this evidence inadmissible anyway?  I'm not a lawyer; maybe I misread the case.

    Congratulations, but. . . . (none / 0) (#25)
    by McKinless on Wed May 06, 2009 at 09:06:04 AM EST
    If there are any clues to the issues and the part(s) of the constitution the judge upheld that you could share without jeopardizing your client's privacy, please do. My feeble mind is tantalized but unable to make a sensible picture. Was this a pre-trial ruling? A full bench trial?

    I'm guessing (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by Bemused on Wed May 06, 2009 at 10:07:55 AM EST
      but it sounds like a case of a pretextual stop where the court found the alleged pretext (a traffic violation) did not exist. It's legal to use a real traffic violation or sometimes other "suspicious behavior" or safety concern  as a pretext to stop a vehicle but not a fabricated one.

      My guess based on the route traveled and weather being relevant facts is that the cops claimed the car was driving too slowly or erratically  and that was the gorounds to stop the car. The defense was probably able to show that due to topography and road conditions the speed and course  of the vehicle was proper and the cop acted unreasonably in pulling over a car that fit a "profile."


    My hero.... (none / 0) (#26)
    by kdog on Wed May 06, 2009 at 09:19:48 AM EST
    way to go J...the good guys win one for a change!

    Though I must disagree about stopping the flow of drugs being important...the impossible cannot be that important, otherwise it would be possible.  We should give up on the tyrannical pipe dream of trying to stop the flow and simply regulate the flow...let freedom ring.

    Gov. Schwartzenneger apparently (none / 0) (#28)
    by oculus on Wed May 06, 2009 at 10:26:33 AM EST
    is open to your suggestions, as to MJ. He needs the tax $$$.

    Congratulations, and well done, TL! (none / 0) (#29)
    by scribe on Wed May 06, 2009 at 10:42:08 AM EST
    Always good when the good guys win one.

    Congratulations (none / 0) (#30)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed May 06, 2009 at 01:58:13 PM EST