THE LAW OFFICES OF JERRY L. STEERING
CIVIL RIGHTS AND POLICE MISCONDUCT LAWYER
CIVIL RIGHTS AND THE RISE OF THE POLICE STATE
If you think, as a practical matter, that you live in a “free country”, you’re wrong. We don’t. We live in a quasi-police state; at least to a very appreciable degree; too appreciable. The National Security Agency spies on all Americans. They record all of our phone calls (cell or landline), our faxes, our emails, and virtually every stroke of any online activities. When these facts became public in the Spring of 2013, many people grumbled, but the grumbling only lasted for a few weeks. The unconstitutionality, and criminality of these actions of our “Big Brother“ (the National Security Agency), has not stopped domestic spying on American citizens by the last several Presidential administrations.
These “interceptions”, constitute a search, that, to pass muster under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, must be obtained pursuant to a search warrant, supported by probable cause. That means that the government must already have sufficient evidence that you are engaged in criminal activity before they get their permission to intercept your communications. Under the guise of making us safe, the government has, and continues to trample the very pillars of liberty that millions have been wounded and died to protect. In this respect, the terrorists have already won. They have made us more like them. They have caused us to abandon those principles of a free society, and has turned us into a police state. Do you feel safer knowing that there are secret courts, with secret judges, that carry-on secret judicial proceedings, that no one can check, examine or challenge (i.e. FISA Courts?) Does the thought of a naturally born, “Red, White and Blue” American citizen, being murdered in a foreign land, by our own government bother you? Does the thought of your bank account being shut-down one day, and you then finding-out that you’re on the bank account black-list, bother you as an American at all?
EVEN WITHOUT THE NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY THEIR DOMESTIC SPYING, AS A PRACTICAL MATTER, WE LIVE IN A POLICE STATE
We are now in a “police state“, because, as a practical matter, the police can do whatever they want to you, and get away with it. In order to do so, as a matter of standard operating procedure, when the police violate your Constitutional rights, such as your right to be free from the use of unreasonable force upon your person, they then procure the institution of a bogus criminal case against you. The only differences between most “police states” and the present American Republic, is the amount of paper work and lying that the police have to do. They typically author bogus police reports that claim that you committed some amorphous crime, like resisting / obstructing / delaying a peace officer (Cal. Penal Code § 148(a)(1)) and/or battery on a peace officer (Cal. Penal Code § 242 / 243(b)), that results in a bogus criminal prosecution against you. They know that the District Attorney’s Office takes great pride in protecting the police from civil liability, by filing and prosecuting criminal action. They do this to beat you down; to make it so expensive for you to defend yourself on bogus criminal charges that carry little chance of actually being sentenced to jail, such as resisting arrest, that you end-up taking a plea bargain, that, in practical effect, bars your lawsuit by you for either false arrest, malicious prosecution, and, in most such cases, unreasonable force.
They also do this to protect themselves from internal discipline and criminal liability for civil rights violations (18 U.S.C. § 242; violating a persons federal Constitutional rights under the color of state law.) The employing police agency will (almost) always deny that their officer engaged in wrongful conduct, especially in swearing contest type cases, where there is no video recording of the police beatings. Because the employing police agency will (almost) always back their officers by touting their (false) version of the story in order to avoid civil liability to the employing entity, for the actions of their officers, it’s almost impossible to discipline them. For example, the City of Inglewood, California, fired Inglewood Police Department officer Jeremy Morse, for the video recording beating of a teenager at a gas station. When it came time for the civil suit against the City and the officers for the beating, the City contended that the officers acted properly. It’s either one or the other, but not both. Accordingly, since the City took that position, fired officer Jeremy Morse sued the city, and won $2,160,000.00 for his wrongful firing.
In 2010 the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department shot to death 15 people, who they claimed were reaching for their waistband; notwithstanding that none of the shooting victims were armed. No one was prosecuted or disciplined. Who needs a hunting license? Join the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, and you can shoot who ever you want to (unless the shooting is video recorded. If it is, the politicians may have to get rid of the officer.) The LASD Undersheriff who just “retired”, Paul Tanaka, was a member of the Vikings; a White supremacist Neo-Nazi organization with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. See, Thomas v. County of Los Angeles, 978 F.2d 504 (9th Cir. 1992.) The County of Los Angeles has itself released a public document, acknowledging the existence of, and actually condemning, the Sheriff’s Department’s own rogue gangs of sadistic jailers at the Los Angeles County Central Men’s Jail. See, The Citizens Commission on Jail Violence September 28, 2012. A retired Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Captain recently told the Los Angeles Times, that the L.A. County Men’s Central Jail was, essentially, a torture chamber, run by these jailer gangs (tattoos of their gang symbols on their ankles and all) of sadistic sociopaths. Discipline for beatings was not existent, and torturing inmates was actually required for jailer gang initiation. See, “L.A. County sheriff’s official tells of jail brutality”, LA Times, July 7, 2012. See also, “L.A. County jail violence sheriff’s fault, panel says”, LA Times, September 28, 2012. Rival Sheriff’s Department jailer gangs even got into a rumble between the “3000 Boys” (the third floor jailers) and the “2000 Boys” (the second floor jailers)at a Sheriff’s Department Christmas party.
Thus, at least as a practical matter, we live in a police state, because the police can, in the real world, do whatever they want to do to you, and almost always get away with it, so long as the activity is duty related, and could, if proven, expose the employing agency / entity to civil liability, political ridicule, or obloquy. True, the police have to justify their outrages, both internally (i.e. internal affairs investigations) and externally (bogus criminal prosecutions and defense of civil actions.) But the system is rigged to permit them to do so; especially the jury system.
To attack the jury system is to attack an institution that has been the primary barrier between oppression and freedom in the English speaking world since 1215 (King John signing the Magna Carta.) This is not an attack on the jury system. It is merely a reflection as to why in false arrest, unreasonable force and malicious prosecution cases, the way that a jury decides these type of cases is as much political, as it is an exercise in fact finding.
The persons who ultimately get to sit on juries in these cases, have no real idea as to how police officers actually act, and have no idea how truly institutionally corrupt, police agencies really are when it comes to defending the County / City coffers and their and the politicians’ images. Many of them have an emotional predisposition to believe the police; no matter how many obvious falsehoods they may utter. They consider themselves “Pro-Police”, any often feel that the cops are getting a raw deal in the media, and need their support. With these kind of white / upper-middle class types, if a cop testifies under oath with a straight face, that’s it. You’re goose is cooked. Guilty. You’ve really got to prove that you’re innocent in these type of cases. Try convincing a Newport Beach Superior Court white affluent jury that you didn’t act rudely toward a peace officer, or somehow delay or obstructed the officer’s investigation of you, by exercising your right to not speak with the officer. The harmony of all of this, is that since Section 148(a)(1) of the Penal Code (resisting / obstructing / delaying a peace officer in the lawful performance of their duties) doesn’t actually mean anything, and is so vague and amorphous, that a jury can make it fit their enmity for the accused; enmity created by the mere fact that you stand accused at all.
In both civil and criminal cases, the parties have some say in the composition of the jury. The jury pool are supposedly called randomly, and the Court and the lawyers get to ask them questions. That part of a trial, questioning potential jurors, is called voir dire, that in French means, to speak the truth. Each side gets a certain numbers of peremptory challenges, that they can use to strike persons from sitting as jurors. In a federal court civil rights case, each side usually gets four peremptory challenges. So far, sounds fair. Here’s the rub.
Most people who have actually seen police officers beat-up a civilian have a lasting terrible feeling about police misconduct. Almost invariably, when they are asked by the lawyers or the Court about whether their prior experience with police misconduct will cause them to be prejudice against either side, they almost always say Yes. Most such people who have seen police beatings and the false prosecutions of their friends, are so deeply affected, that they invariably tell the Court that they are biased against police officers (in this type of case), and that they cant really put-aside that bias and be completely fair and impartial. Once they make that statement, any such jurors are then routinely excused for cause from sitting on that jury. Thus, the jurors who would more likely be favorable to the civil rights plaintiff (or criminal defendant accused of some crime against a peace officer), is excused for cause from sitting on the jury. The lawyer defending the case for the police doesn’t even had to use one of their jury peremptory challenges to get rid of that juror. All of the others jurors who do get to sit, are people who have never seen police misconduct; leaving a jury that, unfortunately, have no concept of the way that police, and police organizations, actually act.
Therefore, when Miss, Mrs. or Mr. Citizen get falsely arrested, beaten-up or maliciously prosecuted by police agencies, and get criminally prosecuted for conduct that often isn’t criminal (i.e. “creative use” of the California criminal statute Penal Code Section 148(a)(1)), these “sanitized jurors” will generally not believe that the police really did what Miss, Mrs. or Mr. Citizen claim that they did, unless Miss, Mrs. or Mr. Citizen’s attorney can really prove otherwise; real proof; like a video, audio, or a bus load of highly observant nuns with photographic memories who testified about clearly indefensible police conduct. That’s why the jury system rigged against persons victimized by the police; because the only people who ever get to sit in judgment in these type of cases as jurors, are persons who have never had a bad experience with a police officer, or and who has not seen outrageous police conduct. Their life experience tells them something that’s just not true; that police officer don’t beat people up unless they did something to deserve it. You, therefore, need great proof to dispel that belief by jurors.
WHY THE POLICE CAN GET AWAY WITH IT; CONTEMPT OF COP ARRESTS
“Contempt Of Cop” cases, are bogus criminal actions, brought against innocents by criminal prosecutors, for essentially, “bruised ego” violations. The “ego bruising”, is really nothing more than a civilian not immediately, and without protest or question, getting-down on the ground in a proned position, or not doing something that the officer wants you to do (lawful, reasonable or not) immediately, and without question or protest. Something that we all have the Constitutional right to do. Houston v. Hill, 482 U.S. 451 (1987.)
In Houston v. Hill, Raymond Hill observed a friend, Charles Hill (no relation), intentionally stopping traffic on a busy street, evidently to enable a vehicle to enter traffic. Two Houston police officers, one of whom was named Kelley, approached Charles Hill, and began speaking with him. According to the District Court, “shortly thereafter” Hill began shouting at the officers “in an admitted attempt to divert Kelley’s attention from Charles Hill.” Raymond Hill first shouted: “Why don’t you pick on somebody your own size?” After Officer Kelley responded: “[A]re you interrupting me in my official capacity as a Houston police officer?” Hill then shouted: “Yes, why don’t you pick on somebody my size?” Hill was arrested for violation of Houston Code of Ordinances, 34-11(a), for “willfully or intentionally interrupt[ing] a city policeman . . . by verbal challenge during an investigation”; a statute similar to the Cal. Penal Code 148(a)(1) (resisting / obstructing / delaying peace officer [commonly called "resisting arrest"].) Charles Hill was not arrested. Raymond Hill was then acquitted after a non jury trial in Municipal Court.
Code of Ordinances, City of Houston, Texas, 34-11(a) (1984) provided:
“Sec. 34-11. Assaulting or interfering with policemen.
(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to assault, strike or in any manner oppose, molest, abuse or interrupt any policeman in the execution of his duty, or any person summoned to aid in making an arrest.”
Following his acquittal in the Charles Hill incident, Raymond Hill brought the suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, seeking (1) a declaratory judgment that Section 34-11(a) was unconstitutional both on its face and as it had been applied to him, (2) a permanent injunction against any attempt to enforce the ordinance, (3) an order expunging the records of his arrests under the ordinance, and (4) damages and attorney’s fees under 42 U.S.C. 1983 and 1988.
In striking-down the Houston City ordinance, the United States Supreme Court held that ordinance the Houston ordinance was unconstitutionally overbroad, because it criminalized conduct that is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution; the right to protest and challenge police action (the “right to petition the government for redress of grievances”):
“The Houston ordinance is much more sweeping than the municipal ordinance struck down in Lewis. It is not limited to fighting words nor even to obscene or opprobrious language, but prohibits speech that “in any manner . . . interrupt[s]” an officer. The Constitution does not allow such speech to be made a crime. The freedom of individuals verbally [482 U.S. 451, 463] to oppose or challenge police action without thereby risking arrest is one of the principal characteristics by which we distinguish a free nation from a police state.” Brennan, J.
The Constable‘s “ego” is typically “bruised”, by your conduct, such as: 1) asserting your Constitutional rights, or 2) claiming knowledge of them, or 3) asking the Constable why you’re being ordered to lie down on the ground while your chest is being illuminated by the red spot of a pistol, rifle or taser targeting device; 4) telling the Constable that you have a medical condition that makes it difficult or painful to get on the ground; 5) telling the Constable that he can’t do something (i.e. can’t go in my house without a warrant; you can’t make me go inside or come outside); 6) failing to consent to an entry or a search; and 7) not exiting your house when ordered to do so (even though the police generally can’t order you to exit a private residence; save probable cause to arrest for serious dangerous felony, coupled with an emergency; See, United States v. Al-Azzawy, 784 F.2d 890 (9th Cir. 1985) and Elder v. Holloway, 510 U.S. 510 (1994.)) These are but a few examples. The list is endless, but the theme is the same. Failing to immediately do whatever the police tell you to do, without protest, challenge or remarks, often will result in your being beaten-up, falsely arrested, and maliciously criminally prosecuted.
These, “Contempt Of Cop“ cases typically involve the police using force upon persons (i.e. beating them) and/or falsely arresting them, and then inventing bogus allegations of violations various “Contempt Of Cop“ statutes, such as violations of: 1) Cal. Penal Code § 148(a)(1) (resisting / obstructing / delaying peace officer [commonly called "resisting arrest"] (the most abused statute in the Penal Code); 2) Cal. Penal Code § 240/241(b) (assault on a peace officer); 3) Cal. Penal Code § 242 / 243(b) (battery on a peace officer); and 4) Cal. Penal Code § 69 (interfering with public officer via actual or threatened use of force or violence.) Cal. Penal Code § 69 is a “wobbler”; a California public offense that may be filed by the District Attorney’s Office as either a felony or a misdemeanor. In Orange County, Riverside County and Los Angeles County, allegations of violation of Penal Code 69 are usually filed as misdemeanors. In San Bernardino County, however, allegations of violation of Cal. Penal Code § 69 are filed as felonies much more often than her sister counties. If they shoot you, they may even charge you with Cal. Penal Code § 245(d); assault on a peace officer in a manner likely to result in great bodily injury.
Accordingly, the next time your child recites the Pledge of Allegiance, remember that we really don’t have “liberty and justice for all”; not in the United Police States of America.
LAW OFFICES OF JERRY L. STEERING
Jerry L. Steering