Excellence in Civil and Criminal Police Misconduct Cases:
Mr. Steering Defends Your Criminal Case In A Manner More Likely To Result In Your Obtaining Redress For The Constitutional Violations Perpetrated Against You, In A Subsequent Civil Case.
Jerry L. Steering, Esq., is a Police Misconduct Specialist***; both civil and criminal.
Suing The Police Is Your Only Practical Remedy For Violations Of Your Constitutional Rights.
Mr. Steering is a “civil rights lawyer” specializing in police misconduct cases***. He sues police officers, deputy sheriffs and other state and local peace officers, along with their municipal employers for damages for their violations of your federal Constitutional rights. Mr. Steering also sues police officers for misconduct claims under California state law. Usually we join the state law claims along with your federal claims in federal court, if they involve the same incident.
Suing Police Officers In Federal Court For Violating Your Constitutional Rights; Enforcing The Fourteenth Amendment.
The keys to the federal courthouse is something call “federal question jurisdiction“. “Federal question jurisdiction” entitles a person whose federal constitutional rights were violated by persons acting “under the color of state law”, to sue in federal court for redress. A typical situation involves a peace officer (i.e. deputy sheriff, police officer) violating the federal constitutional rights of a civilian by using unreasonable force upon them and/or by falsely arresting and prosecuting innocents.
The federal court venue was traditionally was very important to the enforcement of the Fourteenth Amendment, because black persons couldn’t get a fair trial in Southern state courts following the Civil War (that ended in April of 1865.) Although starting-out as a Post-Civil War Southern “social organization”, the “Ku Klux Klan” soon became the local Southern “Sheriff and his deputized posse”, who terrorized and murdered black persons while acting “under the color of state law”; under the authority of the Sheriff.
Imagine a “black widow” (not the spider type) suing the local Sheriff and his posse members for murdering her husband in a Post-Civil War Southern state Superior Court, where the judge and the jury members were either part of the murdering mob, or relatives and friends of those who were. Unless black persons had a remedy in a United States District Court, as a practical matter they had no remedy at all.
On July 28, 1868, the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified by the states. The 14th Amendment grants citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States” which included former slaves who had just been freed after the Civil War. The amendment had been rejected by most Southern states but was ratified by the required three-fourths of the states. Known as the “Reconstruction Amendment,” it makes any former slaves who were born in the United States, citizens, and forbids any state to deny any person (especially former slaves) “life, liberty or property, without due process of law” or to “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
In response to a letter to Congress from President Ulysses S. Grant, complaining of the conditions in the Southern states, Congress enacted the the statute that we sue police officers under to this very day; The Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871; 42 U.S.C.§ 1983. Also known as the “Third Enforcement Act”,Congress enacted Section 1983 to enforce the 14th Amendment; to provide black persons with a civil remedy for damages in federal court against “the Sheriff” and his posse, who were ”acting under the color of state law” when they violated their victims’ federal constitutional rights.
The Third Enforcement Act; 42 U.S.C. § 1983: The Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871.
“Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable.”
Those protections of the 14th Amendment apply to all persons; not just persons of African descent, although the class of persons that Congress originally intended to be protected by the 14th Amendment were black persons of African descent.
Mr. Steering has been suing police officers and deputy sheriffs under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 since 1984. When the state or local police violate your federal constitutional rights (that, by the way, are shrinking by the day), a Section 1983 action is your federal civil remedy, along with any state law remedies permitted in the state where the police abuse occurred.
Mr. Steering is also a Criminal Defense Lawyer; specializing in defending innocents in “resistance offenses”, such as resisting / obstructing / delaying a peace officer (words that mean everything and mean nothing; Cal. Penal Code § 148(a)(1)), Cal. Penal Code § 69 (the “turbo version” of Section 148(a)(1); interfering with duties of public officer via violence or threat thereof a felony), assault and battery on a peace officer (Cal. Penal Code §§ 240/241(c) & 242/243(b)), and even assault on a peace officer with a gun (Cal. Penal Code §§ 245(c) & 245(d).)
Almost every good old fashioned police beating is accompanied by some sort of bogus arrest; routinely for some variety of “Contempt of Cop” or “resistance offense.” The police are often successful in their attempt to shift the blame for their use of unreasonable force upon or their false arrest of innocents, by procuring the bogus criminal prosecution of their innocent victims, for a “resistance offense.”
Although the resistance offenses differ (i.e. [Penal Code 148(a)(1); resisting / delaying / obstructing officer], [Penal Code 240/241(c); assault on a peace officer, [Penal Code 242/243(b); battery on peace officer], [Penal Code 69; using / threatening to use violence to deter / prevent public officer from performing duty]), there is one common element among all of them; they all require that the alleged “victim officer” belawfullyengaged in the performance of his/her duties. Therefore, if you’re convicted for any such “resistance offense”, there has now been a judicial determination that the police officer was not acting unlawfully; that he wasn’t falsely arresting or wrongfully detaining you; that he wasn’t using unreasonable force upon you; that he didn’t unlawfully search you, etc. Such a prior judicial determination that the officer was acting lawfully usually now precludes a lawsuit by you that alleges unlawful actions by the officer (i.e. false arrest or unreasonable force.)
It’s important for the government that the police convict you for a “resistance offense”, because under the doctrine of issue preclusion (“collateral estoppel“) or “claim preclusion” (“res judicata“), if an issue of fact or law has been determined against you in a prior judicial proceeding, you can’t relitigate that fact or law determination in a subsequent judicial proceeding. It’s kind of like the Rodney King civil case in federal court in Los Angeles. LAPD Officers Sgt. Stacey Koon and Laurence Powell were criminally convicted in federal court of violating Rodney King’s right to be free from the use of unreasonable force upon him under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Therefore, when it came time for Rodney King’s civil case against the LAPD Officers for money, the issue of whether LAPD Officers Koon and Powell had violated Rodney King’s right to be free from the use of unreasonable force was already “res judicata”; a thing decided. The only issue left for the civil jury to decide was how much money to give Rodney King.
Therefore, in your situation, if you’re convicted of a resistance crime (a crime that for one to be guilty of, the police had to have been acting lawfully, like not using excessive force, not unlawfully arresting or detaining one, not retaliating against persons for exercising their First Amendment rights), the issue of the lawfulness of the officer’s conduct has already been decided against you, so invariably, save very few exceptions, you cannot successfully sue the police; you’re precluded from doing so because of your conviction. That’s why the cop who violates your constitutional rights will almost always will try to frame you for a resistance offense. This is standard operating procedure for the police, and that’s not a joke.
Moreover, under the cloak of the unnecessary and morally opprobrious immunity afforded police officers under the “Heck Doctrine” (Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994)), if you’re convicted of any crime, you usually cannot sue the cops at all; at least for false arrest. California adopted the Heck rule to bar civil rights claims in Yount v. City of Sacramento, 43 Cal. 4th 885 (2008.) So, under either federal or California law, if you plead guilty or even now no contest to anything, you can’t sue for your false arrest, even though the arresting officer may not have had sufficient probable cause to have arrested you when he did so.
These are policy decisions by the United States Supreme Court and the California Supreme Court, to limit many persons’ right to sue police for real violations of their constitutional rights, for no legitimate reason. These policy decisions are made by those same Justices who profess that they believe that the courts shouldn’t be “super legislatures”, that make any such policy decisions and that such decisions should be left to Congress and state legislatures.
Thus, because of these “policy decisions” by the United States Supreme Court, in the real world, the cops can beat you, falsely arrest you, and falsely and maliciously procure your bogus criminal prosecution; all while you’re the victim of abuse by the police, and all, in the real world, with very little chance of anything happening to themselves. How many people are willing to spend ten’s of thousands of dollars to defend themselves on bogus misdemeanor “resistance offense” charges, when they can avoid spending all of the time and money that it takes to prove your innocence, by pleading to a de minimis misdemeanor, or an infraction, like disturbing the peace? How many innocent souls have pleaded themselves out court on good, righteous and provable civil rights actions against the police, because they either pleaded-out or stay in jail awaiting trial?
This is normal. This is reality. This what probably happened to you if you’re looking for us. This is why the police do what they do. Because they usually can. Because if they literally provoke you into expressing verbal remonstrance that results in the cops beating the stuffing out of you and falsely arresting you; without any substantial chance of any real vocational or civil liability problems, they often do so. Internal Affairs Investigations do not take the word of civilians over than of an officer, and even when there’s some sort of audio or video recording of the incident that proves that the cop’s lying, the employing agency will almost always back their officer and find creative ways to justify it.
Let’s face it. Cal. Penal Code Section 148(a)(1) can mean almost anything, so young upstart Deputy District Attorneys who want to make a name for themselves by protecting the police and stomping their victims into submission (i.e. (a) overcharging innocents to keep them in jail on high bail, that often results guilty pleas to ”resistance offenses” to just get out of jail, that precludes the defendant-innocent from successfully suing the police; (b) abusing the ambiguity of “resistance offenses” such as Cal. Penal Code Sections 148(a)(1) (resisting / delaying / obstructing officer) or Section 69 (using or threatening violence to prevent or deter officer from performing their duties) to pursue groundless criminal proceedings against the innocent victims of police abuse, until they run out of money and capitulate by pleading to a crime that they are innocent of.)
If you get criminally prosecuted for a crime when you’re the real victim, then it’s good for the officers who violated you. It the “free bite at the apple” for the police. It’s like a Three Stooges coin toss; heads I win, tails you lose. Because the police are not technically a “party” to your bogus criminal proceeding, even if you somehow avoid being framed and are acquitted, that’s not binding on the police. You now how to sue them and still prove your case again.
However, since you were a party to the bogus criminal case that the officer procured to attempt to shift the blame to you, if you were convicted, you can’t now sue the police, because there has been a judicial determination that the officer was in the right, and that you were not.
If somehow you don’t get convicted (of crime that you didn’t commit), the agency still backs them all of the way. It doesn’t matter whether the police agency knows that the officer violated the law and your rights. All that they’re concerned with is protecting the officer and the police agency; that’s it; even if (and especially) if their officer severely injured or actually murdered an innocent.
All the police merely have do is to create a bogus police report that accuses you of some “resistance offense”, and send it off to the District Attorney’s Office to procure your bogus criminal prosecution. If you believe that you live in a “free country”, you’re wrong. In the practical sense of the word, you really do live in a police state.” The police really can do what they want to do with you. They can point a gun at you, prone you out on the ground and handcuff you at their whim, without any repercussions. The police can also really murder anyone anytime that they want to, just by claiming that the unarmed decedent was reaching for his waistband. This is no joke. This too, is normal.
General Criminal And Civil Rights Practice.
Jerry L. Steering has been practicing criminal law since 1984 (in California since 1986.) He has tried and otherwise litigated hundreds of criminal cases, including murder cases, manslaughter cases, assault and battery cases, drug possession and drug manufacturing cases, DUI cases, vehicular homicide cases, white-collar investor fraud cases, mail fraud cases, sex-offender or drug offender registration cases, domestic violence cases, theft and embezzlement cases, towing industry cases, and the general spectrum of criminal violations. However, the overwhelming majority of Mr. Steering’s criminal law practice involves the defense of bogus criminal prosecutions for “resistance offenses” (i.e. resisting / delaying peace officer, battery on peace officer.) Unlike other areas of criminal law practice, almost every one of Mr. Steering’s resistance offense criminal case clients were factually and actually innocent.
Mr. Steering is an expert in defending your bogus criminal action, in a way to best protect, and to enhance, your ability to ultimately obtain some justice; reasonable compensation and redress, for your police beating, for your false arrest, for your unlawful search and seizure, and for your malicious criminal prosecution.
One substantial advantage that Mr. Steering can provide you, is a better chance at obtaining favorable evidence, to either leverage a favorable plea agreement, or flat-out win your criminal case, when you couldn’t otherwise do so. If you don’t sue police officers, you simply don’t know what types of evidence is “out there” (i.e. in the possession of police agencies.) Because pre-trial discovery is extremely limited in California state court criminal prosecutions, most lawyers who only practice criminal law will not have an opportunity to even find out what types of evidence is available. The type of evidence that can exonerate you, and that shows that the Constable is not telling the truth.
We have enough diligence and experience to nail the cops down on their stories in these criminal actions, that simply cannot be done in a regular civil action. When they’re on the stand in a criminal case, the cops don’t have their experienced civil lawyers to take them out in the hallway and tell them what to say, like they do in civil cases. Moreover, the Deputy District Attorneys who prosecute these bogus “Contempt of Cop” cases, don’t know enough, and often don’t care enough, about the intricacies of the Constitutional, legal and evidentiary issues, that are being somehow dealt with in the criminal case, that will have a marked effect on your prospects for redress for your being framed; a substantial monetary recovery; the only “redress” presently available to victims of Constitutional Torts.
In other words, we use the bogus criminal case, to shape the evidence and the primary “swing issues” in that case, to not only win your bogus criminal case, but to also dramatically improve the odds of your ultimately prevailing on your civil First Amendment retaliation claims, and Fourth Amendment unreasonable force, false arrest and malicious prosecution claims.
Police Misconduct Specialist; Suing Bad Cops And Defending Bogus Criminal Cases.
The Law Offices of Jerry L. Steering of Jerry L. Steering specializes in cases that are both bogus criminal actions (if the DA either believes the falsehoods by the police and files on you), and righteous civil rights actions, that we prosecute to vindicate your honor, your dignity and your injuries; both “general damages” (present and future physical, mental, emotional distress, pain and suffering), and “special damages” (i.e. present and future medical bills, bail costs, attorney’s fees, lost wages and other damages that can be calculated mathematicaly.)
If You’re The Victim; You’re The Enemy.
Moreover, the system, and the “players” and “politicians” in that system, now recognize you as their enemy. As a matter of political and institutional reality, you, the victim of constitutional violations by peace officers acting under the color of authority, are someone who poses a real threat to them. After all, the cops put you in the hospital, and you’re now being prosecuted for resisting or delaying or obstructing them handcuffing you while you were trying to cover your face from the blows (Cal. Penal Code § 148(a)(1); resisting / obstructing / delaying peace officer; the most vague, nebulous and the most misused and abused section in the California Penal Code.)
If they beat you up too badly, the D.A. will throw in a Count of battery on a peace officer (Penal Code Section 243(b)) or felony preventing public officer from performing duty by use or threat of force (Penal Code Section 69). In the real world, 99% of the time, battery on a peace officer, is really battery by a peace officer. If this offends your personal belief system, I’m sorry to pop your cherry. This is the world in which we live, and we need you to understand the political, institutional and practical reality of our times.
Yesterday you believed that police officers were basically honest, with a few deviants here and there. Yesterday, you didn’t feel threatened if a police officer was driving behind you, because you believed that since you don’t break the law, the police are not going to do anything bad to you. Yesterday is now gone. You still can’t believe that this really happened to you. You really didn’t do anything wrong, but you’ve been beaten-up and falsely arrested, and to boot, you are now being accused of a crime. Today is a new day in your life. You would not have believed what really happened to you if it had happened to another.
That all being said, since the police beat you up, you either deserved it or you didn’t. So, how are the politicians going to handle your situation?
Just imagine a Chief of Police or a County Sheriff announcing at a Press Conference, that his agency took the word of independent civilian witnesses over that of a group of police officers, and is firing the officer or deputy for using unreasonable force on a civilian, and/or for false arresting a civilian. What would the politicians say? We know that that will never happen. Although we elect politicians and insist on them being totally honest with the public, we actually expect them to act in a dishonest and disingenuous way. We expect the City Attorney to guard the City coffers, by denying that the police unlawfully committed a duty related activity (i.e. using force on an innocent arrestee, or simply falsely arresting an innocent), even if they know otherwise; even if the evidence is so overwhelming and moving, that there is no way for any reasonable person to deny that the police acted wrongfully with a straight face. So, on the civil side, the City or County is going to claim that you’re to blame; that it’s your fault.
Then, the D.A.’s office jumps in the fray, and attempts to get you to plead to any crime; a plea that will almost assuredly preclude you from obtaining redress for the wrongs perpetrated upon you. After all, the U.S. Supreme Court had upheld release – dismissal agreements; an agreement where the D.A.’s offices promises to drop the bogus criminal case against you and let you out of jail, in exchange for a promise not to sue. Newton v. Rumery, 480 U.S. 386 (1987.) Creepy, huh? Extortion? Sounds like it. MacDonald v. Musick, 425 F. 2d 373 (9th Cir. 1970)(conditioning dismissal of criminal DUI charge in exchange of promise not to sue police is felonious extortion under California law.) But so long the government is the extorting party, no crime, since no one is going to prosecute a Deputy District Attorney for making such a dismissal offer.
Even when it’s obvious that a public entity is going to have to most likely pay money to a victim of their officer, the agency will never admit fault. So, since they didn’t do anything wrong, you must have. Therefore, you’re the enemy,because you’re a potential threat to them; to their paycheck; to them being imprisoned (however remote that really is); to them being promoted in the future; to them being disciplined (i.e. reprimanded, suspended, demoted or terminated) and to them being exposed toobloquyand disgrace.
Most of our law firm’s Police Misconduct clients, were factually and actually innocent of anything; yet most of them where at the wrong spot at the wrong time, or had the audacity to question police authority.
When many of our clients questioned or challenged police orders to them, the officers routinely have claimed that they have now “resisted” them or have “delayed” the officer’s investigation of them, or of another (real or imaginary; the most common claim by officers in bogus “Contempt of Cop” cases), by asking the officer for further identification, or by asking why there was a red laser targeting spot on their chest, or by asking why the officer wanted them to get prone-out on the ground when they had no clue why the police were even engaging them at all. These actions by our clients, true innocents, have typically resulted in them getting “gooned” by the cops, and half of them getting criminally prosecuted for non-existent crimes, to protect the officers and the agency from civil liability and disgrace. In all of these situations, the cops were going to show our client’s who’s in charge, and it’s not the client. These are truly ego crimes; “Contempt of Cop” crimes.
Why The Cops Try To Destroy You; To Protect Themselves.
The Police know that once they’ve crossed-over a clear and well-defined Constitutional boundary, such as your Constitutional right to be free from a sadistic police beating (U.S. Const. Amends. 4 and 14), that they must immediately take steps to shift the blame for their use of force upon you; for it certainly can’t fall upon them, lest they be considered monsters; “Bad Apples”. Their first step being to either immediately arrest you, or to restrain or confine your freedom to leave their presence. This is done as a matter of reflex, rather than a product of reflection, by police authorities. You’re not going anywhere until the police figure-out what to do with you. Hospital, Jail, or otherwise. It’s automatic for you to be taken to jail, even if you’re taken for a humiliating visit to the hospital (bloody and in handcuffs, being escorted by the police), on the way there. It doesn’t matter that you committed no crime. All that does matter at that time, is that they did (i.e. they beat you up; federal and state crimes), and they don’t plan on taking the blame for doing so. They justify their behavior, by accusing you of de minimis and vague criminal offenses; especially of California Penal Code Section 148(a)(1) (Resisting / Obstructing / Delaying a Peace Officer.)
If your sadistic police beating was bad enough to be actually kept in the hospital, or if it’s obvious to the Patrol Sergeant that the patient didn’t deserve what he got (and assuming that your Patrol Sergeant isn’t the truly creepy kind, you may be given a Citation to appear in Court, or you might even get “long formed”. Getting “long formed” is police lingo (in the real world), for not formally arresting you now, but nonetheless concocting a phony story about the event that resulted in you being in the hospital, and based upon the template of the bogus story, create phony reports to support that story, and conceal and destroy evidence that belies the concocted story, such a deleting an audio or video recording of the actual incident complained of, or a materially significant portion of any such recording. Usually, the officers create not all that serious allegations of criminality by you; not enough for you to realistically be exposed to any jail time, but serious enough to justify their conduct, and, most importantly, serious enough to get you criminally prosecuted.
The police really do create false and misleading police reports to shore-up the odds, that some young and ambitious Deputy District Attorney, will want to endear himself to a police agency, by protecting them from civil liability. The young and ambitious Deputy District Attorney files a criminal case against you for violation of California Penal Code Sections 148(a)(1) (Resisting / Obstructing / Delaying a Peace Officer), and Sections 240/241(c) and 242/243(b); Assault and Battery on a Peace Officer. Now what do you do? If you take a plea bargain, you can’t sue for the damages that you suffered from being falsely arrest and falsely prosecuted for a crime, and the mental and financial toll that being falsely arrested and falsely prosecuted takes on one (i.e. job loss, attorney’s fees.)
If, rather than take a plea bargain, and you stand your ground and defend yourself in court, you can pay many thousands of dollars for a lawyer, to defend you on a bogus criminal charge, that is usually a misdemeanor, and usually will result in no jail time, and a de minimis fine. What do you do? Do you spend the money on a lawyer and hope that things work about and that after you prevail on your criminal case, that you can sue and get pay-back and paid back? Mr. Steering has been contemporaneously defending these bogus Police Misconduct criminal actions, and prosecuting civil rights lawsuits for victims of police outrages, since 1984. He will know what to do in your particular case.
Suing The Police For Constitutional Violations and Other Tortious Conduct, When No Criminal Case Has Been Filed Against The Police Misconduct Victim.
In many cases, notwithstanding efforts by local police agencies to procure the filing of a bogus criminal case against the victim of their oppression, Deputy DA’s see the same reports from the same cops, that again and again and again, seek the criminal prosecution of persons for “resisting / obstructing / delaying a peace office in the lawful performance of his/her duties”, when the “suspect” always ends-up in the hospital. Therefore, many times, we can proceed to sue the officers in the appropriate court (usually federal court), without having to wait for the conclusion of underlying bogus criminal proceedings, since they will not be any.
If you want to know what do to if you’ve been falsely arrested, retaliated against for exercise of your constitutional rights, beaten-up by the police or maliciously prosecuted, please contact us at (949) 474-1849 email@example.com. Thank you for visiting with us, and best of luck. Even if you have a legal question that’s important to you, and you just need lawyer input, we’ll be glad to answer your questions.
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