The views reflected in this article, are those of the author. This article is not meant to disparage, or to defame, those dedicated and brave men and women of the law enforcement community who actually respect us and protect us, as opposed to oppress us.
This article is meant to disparage those men and women of the law enforcement community who violate our legal and moral rights, and who oppress us.
This article discusses the root and cause of the emergence of the police state in America, how it happened, and why it only exists because it is, for the most part, truly supported by a majority, albeit an uninformed one, of Americans.
“Suspension Of Disbelief”; The “Unbelievable” Yet Nonetheless Real Motive For The Police To Beat, Falsely Arrest, and Procure The Malicious Criminal Prosecution, Of Innocents; Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely.
This is not a sociological, psychological or other academic characterization of the root cause of much of the “police misconduct” that we see today. This is merely one man’s opinion; the opinion of someone who has been somehow involved in thousands of “resistance offense” cases, as to why police actually beat, falsely arrest and frame innocents.
The police “oppress” civilians because, as Lord Acton stated some time ago, “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Ever since 1968 (Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968)), the police in this country have been permitted by the Supreme Court to restrain a person’s liberty, to “detain” them if you will, based on a level of suspicion of criminal conduct by the civilian that is usually non-existent, or very close thereto. The slightest excuse by the police to detain a civilian is routinely accepted by the courts (civil and criminal cases) as sufficient to allow the police to “detain” civilians, and to restrain them in a way that is basically indistinguishable from a full custodial arrest (i.e. handcuffing, proning-out on on ground, being held at gunpoint, cuffed and locked-up in back of patrol car for extensive period.)
A Major Cause Of Police Misconduct: The Police Simply Have Too Much Power.
All peace officers simply have too much power. A Judge cannot issue an order to seize a person or his/her property in any way, in the absence of “probable cause” to believe the existence or non-existence of material facts indicating the commission of criminal conduct; whether it be an arrest warrant or a search warrant. A police officer, however, can, as a practical matter, order you to lie in a mud puddle immediately, belly / face down, under the very real threat of the use of force (i.e tasers, pepper-spray, batons, personal weapons [i.e. punches, kicks, elbowing], and thanks to the Supreme Court, or now quite often, the use of deadly force upon unarmed civilians.)
Some peace officers go power crazy with this power, which is enforced by the local prosecutor (District Attorney or often the City Attorney for misdemeanors) filing a criminal action against the victim of some cop’s frail ego. When that happens, the machinery of the system itself kicks in. Everyone in the government has a role; from the Judge to the District Attorney. They act in that role, pursuant to the procedures established to minimize police liability, but convicting the innocent. Believe it or not, many politicians would rather convict the innocent, than look like they’re not supporting the police; no matter how guilty the police really are. This business as usual; in every county in the United States.
So, when the cops beats-up an innocent, it’s often for shear sadistic pleasure. In fact, the jury instruction on the Ninth Circuit’s Website for Model Civil Jury Instructions for use of force upon convicted prisoners, actual requires the abused prisoner plaintiff to prove that the officer used for upon him; “maliciously and sadistically for the purpose of causing harm.”
Because all peace officers simply have too much power, and because of the nebulous and vague language of the primary California “resistance offense” statutes, some police officers are bound to actually provoke innocents to protest their conduct, which often results in the beating of the protesting civilian; accompanied by the traditional false arrest for a “resistance offense”, and followed by the officer’s efforts to procure the malicious criminal prosecution of their victims.
Because all peace officers simply have too much power, any apparent failure to comply with police orders to civilians, often becomes an affront to the the officer’s self image, and to his authority. Because of the awesome power to seize persons based on mere (and usually unsupported) suspicion of possible “criminality afoot” by the civilian, a questioning of the authority and the reasons for the orders to the civilian can bruise the ego of the Constable; not all of them, but enough of them.
Because all peace officers simply have too much power, they believe that they really are the law, and that any opposition, verbal or otherwise, needs to be dealt with via “curbside justice”; to show the victim and the world that the officer is in charge; that he’s the man.
A Major Cause Of Police Misconduct: Police Loss Of Respect For The Public.
Today’s reality is institutionalized police and prosecutorial oppression; usually in the form of: “beat-’em-up, hook ‘em up, and frame ‘em.” Ladies and Gentlemen, this is all too normal; business as usual. No middle to upper class person, insulated by geography and their belief system based on their politics, their news sources and their personal experiences, will usually believe this, until and unless is happens to them or to someone close to them.
A Major Cause Of Police Misconduct: Claims Of “Officer’s Safety.”
The unique police power over civilians that Mr. Justice Douglas warned us about in his sole dissent in Terry v. Ohio, the power to “detain” persons on suspicion less than “probable cause”, has now resulted in almost unrestrained and arbitrary power of the Constable over the civilian. If the Constable points his pistol at your head for claimed suspicion of the most trivial sort, the courts and the public (i.e. juries) will usually back the Constable up; no matter what. If the Constable wants to prone you out on the ground, even dirty ground, at gunpoint, again the courts and the public (i.e. juries) will usually back the Constable up. They’ll give the Constable considerable leeway in compromising your Constitutional rights. They have this belief system that tells them that being a peace officer is a dangerous job, that they don’t want to be the one to have to chase after the armed robber, so, they afford the Constable that extra layer of leeway in and carrying-out his / her patrol, arrest and use of force functions.
Whether it’s being proned-out on the ground, or being ordered to sit on the curb while handcuffed and being interrogated, or handcuffing innocents because the police claim it makes them feel safer, or, even unlawfully ordering you out of your home because it makes the police feel safer, the courts and the public (i.e. juries) will usually back the Constable up; via Judicial Opinions and via approving of constitutional violations by peace officers (i.e. not finding the police defendant guilty of a crime, or finding in favor of the officer and against the victim-plaintiff in civil rights / police misconduct cases.)
Your rights are evaporating before your eyes, case by case, issue by issue since 1968. Your rights are “balanced” every day against even the most implausible claims of the need to seize and restrain you for “officer safety” purposes, and guess what prevails? “Officer Safety”, of course. Cops aren’t concerned with your Constitutional rights nearly as much as them and their fellow officers being exposed to any sort of possible, potential or imaginary threat to them; such as civil liability, internal discipline or even criminal prosecution.
These days, during even the most routine and innocuous contacts with police officers, they often point their guns at you, or order you to lie on the ground, or search you, or order you to have a seat on the curb, or order you to turn-around and put your hands behind your head and walk backwards. The cops makes these “orders, notwithstanding the fact that in the overwhelming majority of these case, the police are not in sufficient danger to justify any such “commands” or “orders.” If you verbally protest or verbally question or challenge any such commands / orders (i.e. “What’s going on?”; “What did I do?” “Why do you need me to get on the ground?” “Why to a have to allow you in my home?”), these days you’re almost guaranteed to at least get arrested, and all to often, get beaten-up. If your false arrest and/or police beating is in public, just listen for the familiar lame police innocence ploy; the police yelling “Stop resisting. Stop resisting”; a meaningless phrase that police officers use to justify their outrages against the public, in public.
This is not lefty propaganda, or the voice of the criminal lobby. This is the way that real people, in real institutional settings, really act. Sometimes there’s a Deputy District Attorney or a United States Attorney who really suppresses exculpatory evidence, but for the most part, our Deputy District Attorneys and United States Attorneys are honest and dedicated public servants. Moreover, police recruits don’t go to the police academy to become public oppressors. Most of the recruits, save some bullied-as-a-kid or frail-ego types, don’t go the police academy to beat-up innocents and then frame them.
However, in large part due to concerns of civil liability and the reputations of their politician agency leaders (i.e. elected Sheriff, appointed police chiefs), police agencies will routinely “back the officer”; regardless of how guilty the officer is, and regardless of how badly their officer deprived a civilian of their constitutional rights.
A Major Cause Of Police Misconduct; The Politics Of The Employing Police Agency Always “Backing The Officer”.
The employing police agency uses a basic and useful methodology to frame the innocent to protect their image, to protect the offending officer from liability, discipline and obloquy, and to protect the politicians that administer their agency.
1) “Disputing The Deniable“, usually involves the police concocting a bogus version of the material events, depending on what evidence or witnesses surface; that either weren’t captured on audio or video recordings. This also involves denying the existence of, concealing, or by just simply destroying any such “real evidence” (i.e. video or audio recording) that would either prove your innocence in a criminal case, or prove the guilt of the police for violating your constitutional rights in a civil action; and
2) “Justifying The Undeniable”, such as by claiming that there was nothing wrong with the officer shooting you or bashing your brains in because he couldn’t see your hands, and by obtaining “police procedures experts” who can literally find a way to justify anything.)
Almost invariably, with very few exceptions, when the police abuse you, they arrest you for something; the most common offenses of which are violation of Cal. Penal Code § 647(f) (public intoxication) the all encompassing catch-all default statute, Cal. Penal Code § 148(a)(1)(resisting / obstructing / delaying peace officer), and the “resistance offense” de jour, violation of Cal. Penal Code § 69 (resisting, or preventing / deterring a public officer from performing a duty of his/her office, via force or violence, or via threats thereof.) This is the modern popular choice by cops who beat-up and falsely arrest innocents because it can be, and usually is charged (for bail purposes) as a felony; then usually requiring that the police beating and false arrest victim to post bail to get out of jail. This obstacle to freedom for the poor, who can’t afford to post bail, will usually take some type of plea agreement to some de minimis “resistance offense” against a peace officer (i.e. a plea bargain to reduced a felony charge of violation of Section 69, to a misdemeanor of violation of Cal. Penal Code § 148(a)(1)(resisting / obstructing / delaying peace officer.)
Under the famous cases of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), the Supreme Court recognized that custodial interrogation is inherent coercive. Many people will basically say whatever they believe the police want them to say; either because they can’t take the badgering any more, or because the police trick them into confessing to a crime that they didn’t commit; often telling persons that their friends have confessed (to a crime that they didn’t commit and didn’t confess to) and have implicated them, so they had better come clean with the police; often under a false promise of leniency; leniency for a crime that they didn’t commit. Miranda v. Arizona does not require that the police “read you your rights” if they arrest you. Miranda v. Arizona only held that if the police interrogate a person who’s already in police custody, that if the government is desirous of using your responses to their custodial interrogation, that the have to “read you your rights” first. However, the Miranda rule isn’t a license to lie, so of the unlawfully interrogated person takes the stand in a criminal case, their custodial statement that was obtained in violation of Miranda case nonetheless be used against you.
Although it’s standard procedure for police agencies to “Mirandize” an arrestee before interrogating him about the crime for which he was arrested, respecting the arrestee’s right against self-incrimination and right to counsel (5th and 6th amendments to the U.S. Constitution), when the police use force on a civilian, the rules of procedure and engage get tossed out of the window. The civilian upon who force was used by the officer gets interrogated by the police, often without being Mirandized, because the police are not going to have another chance to trap the injured and terrorized beating and false arrest vicitm into saying how reasonable the police conduct was, and to get the beating or shooting victim to say that the understood and appreciated why the particular use of force was warranted and justified. The cops who accuse you of resisting / delaying / obstructing an officer and battery on a peace officer were there; they used the force on you; the don’t need a statement from you. The only purpose of talking to the violated arrestee is to compromise any future claim of unreasonable force or false arrest.
This “blame shifting” includes the routine coerced interrogation of police abuse victims (i.e. tormenting the beaten civilian with police interrogation by a Sergeant with his recorder in your face while you’re handcuffed to a hospital bed, and just want the badgering sergeant to leave you alone.) This is the actual written police of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; to ignore the normal pre-custodial interrogation Miranda warnings of innocents who are in police custody and were recently beaten, and to take forced custodial “use of force” interviews of the freshly beaten civilians, to get them to make statement that will enable the police to shift the blame.
The “blames shifting” also includes creating bogus reports and choreographing perjury to frame their victims in a way that protects the police from liability. To those officers, our sympathies for having to work in such an environment, institutionalized oppression by public prosecutors to protect government from civil liability.
A Major Cause Of Police Misconduct: The Prosecutor That Is All Too Happy To Assist The Offending Police Agency In Beating You Down, To Force You To Plead Away Your Right To Sue For The Outrages Perpetrated Against You.
To those District Attorney’s, Deputy District Attorneys, United States Attorneys, Assistant United States Attorneys, please pursue your conscience. We really do understand that it’s difficult to get a jury to convict a police officer for a duty related activity. However, things are getting out of hand. In 2010, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department shot 15 people to death, who were all unarmed, claiming that the decedent reached for his waistband. Anaheim and Santa Ana PD’s are shooting ducks in a gallery; with no repercussions. Even more recently, the U.S. Supreme Court held that it’s lawful to kill a driver of a car involved in a high speed chase; even after the driver’s stopped his car, was near the police, and started to drive away again. See, Plumhoff v. Rickard, filed May 27, 2014.
Most Americans have a deeply held belief that police officers don’t beat-up civilians who don’t deserve it. People believe what they want to believe, and they don’t want to believe that the persons entrusted with their safety, routinely beat-up and “frame” innocents; often for fun, or to bolster their frail egos, or to protect their fellow officers. However, in the real world, many police officers do just that, and they all know what’s going on. A substantial minority of peace officers actually do beat, torture and falsely arrest those that defy their authority, or somehow bruise their fragile egos. However, there are certain cops that are just so out of line (i.e. beating-up innocents for fun, or to test-out knew device, like taser, pepper-balls, bean-bag, etc.), that the normal decent humane officers just are sick of having to cover for that problem officer.
The Blue Code Of Silence.
Almost all American police officers will cover for their fellow officers (i.e. writing bogus crime reports and conspiring to write the same, testifying that an innocent committed a crime that he/she didn’t.) There really is a “Blue Code of Silence” in the modern American law enforcement community; thou shalt not “rat-out” a fellow peace officer. We all know this; yet we act (i.e. vote as citizens, vote as jurors) as if police officers are presumptively honest.
This is especially problematic in cases where police officers abuse innocents. When Americans see or hear about the use of force or other abuses of civilians by police officers in foreign countries, we don’t presume that the civilians did anything wrong to deserve such mistreatment. However, when we hear about an incident involving the police using great force and violence on a civilian, our immediate, reflexive reaction is to opine: “I wonder what the civilian did wrong to cause the officer to have to resort to such violence.”
In the real world, as a result of a series of United States Supreme Court decisions from 1968 to the present, each one further “perverting” the Constitution to allow the police more latitude in abusing innocents, we now live in a quasi police state. This is no joke.
So, when you see a that a civilian has been arrested for a crime like “battery on a peace officer (Cal. Penal Code § 242 / 243(b)), the “battery” is almost always, in reality, battery by a peace officer. Almost without exception, those civilians arrested for “resisting arrest” (resisting or obstructing or delaying a peace officer; Cal. Penal Code § 148(a)(1)), are the victims of abusive behavior by a peace officer; usually prompted by frail police egos, coupled with a civilian verbally challenging police authority (i.e. Officer, what’s going on? What did I do?) .
Cal. Penal Code § 148(a)(1) is almost always the choice crime to arrest a civilian who committed no crime. The police can fairly easily obtain convictions of their victims for “resisting / obstructing / delaying a peace officer”, because almost any conduct by a civilian can be characterized as falling within the ambit of that statute; especially conduct that jurors find themselves believing is not the way that they would have handled that situation.
THE POLICE STATE IS DEPENDENT ON THE GULLIBILITY OF THE BODY POLITIC.
II. WHY THE COPS CAN GET AWAY WITH IT; THE MEDIA.
A recent example of the ignorance about and misuse of Cal. Penal Code § 148(a)(1) is the arrest of actress Daniele Watts in Los Angeles by the LAPD.What this incident demonstrated, is that even when the police are totally wrong and have committed federal crimes and constitutional violations against innocents, don’t look to the talk show hosts for sympathy. For whatever reason, they have also been sucked into the “statist” mentality, where immediate unquestioned cooperation with the police is the only acceptable or reasonable conduct for an American adult. It shows how little the public and the media cares about your or my constitutional rights. You don’t think that it could happen to you because you don’t do anything wrong. That’s not the way that these things work. You just don’t know if it’s going to happen to you, a loved one or a friend.
In the Daniele Watts case the LAPD received a call that a man and a woman were getting it on in a car on a street in Los Angeles. When the LAPD arrived at the scene, they saw Daniel Watts and her boyfriend, but they weren’t doing anything. The LAPD Officer started his investigation for a possible case of lewd conduct in public (Cal. Penal Code § 647(a)) and asked Ms. Watts for her name. She refused to tell the officer her name, claiming that she had a right not to do so. Notwithstanding the fact that Ms. Watt’s claim was correct, the LAPD Officer told her that she had no such right and that she was obligated to divulge her identity to him (which is not the law.) Because of Ms. Watts’ refusal to identify herself, the LAPD Officer handcuffed her and placed her in the back seat of his patrol car (listen to LAPD recording here.)
Throughout the contact, one can hear the officer repeat that he had “probable cause” (of some crime; which he didn’t), and that when the police are investigating a crime that a civilian has a duty to cooperate with the police, including having to tell the police who they are, under the threat of arrest for non-compliance; for failure to identify oneself to a peace officer; “contempt of cop” / “resistance offenses” Cal. Penal Code § 148(a)(1). The officer was wrong on both counts.
First, a person has no obligation to cooperate with a police investigation; especially of themselves. See, People v. Shelton, 60 Cal.2d 740 (1964) (“A suspect has no duty to cooperate with officers in securing evidence against him . . . “.) Second, since 1993 the California Courts have held that it is not a crime for a person to refuse to identify themselves to the police; even if they’re at the jail and are being booked for a misdemeanor (only if they’re being booked for a felony.) See, In re Gregory S.,112 Cal. App. 3d 764, 779 (1980.) So, while LAPD Chief Charlie Beck was on radio and television defending his officers’ arrest of Ms. Watts for refusing to divulge her name (See KCAL 9 TV Broadcast), he was encouraging other LAPD officers to commit federal and state crimes against civilians, like the LAPD officer did against Ms. Watts when he cuffed her and placed her in his car for violation of Cal. Penal Code § 148(a)(1) for failing to identify herself. That’s a federal crime by the LAPD Officer; a violation of federal constitutional rights under color of authority; 18 U.S.C. § 242; a federal felony.
So, that all being the case, one might wonder why the lawyers for the police and the City demanded an apology from Daniele Watts (extreme “chutzpah“); bragging about how proper and reasonable the LAPD’s conduct was (none of which was), and how we all have a duty, now one under threat of arrest, to “cooperate” with police authorities, and to do whatever they say; immediately, and without question. In other words, an actual “police state.” No one in the media reacted to those comments. They acted like those comments were normal, and acquiesced in what Chief Beck was espousing; the “real deal”; our Orwellian nightmare, the “police state.”
The Press has shown neither insight nor sensitivity for an innocent civilian’s basic federal constitutional rights being trampled. The police admit the conduct, since they recorded the contact, and didn’t destroy it. something that usually happens of the audio or video recording is bad for the police. So, if it’s so cut and dry that the cops are in the wrong, why isn’t the media going nuts? It’s because the media has relegated the incident into it being a matter of opinion.
On KCAL 9, watch LAPD Chief Charlie Beck stutter toward the end of his claim that under California state law, if the police are investigating you for some other crime (whatever that means), that you must divulge your identity. Then, KCAL puts on a gentlemen from the ACLU who tells the viewers that he disagreed with Chief Beck’s claims that a person must either identify themselves or be subject to be arrested. So, now, it’s Charlie Beck’s “opinion” versus the ACLU’s “opinion”. No one cites cases. Imagine. The Chief of the LAPD admits that his agency routinely violates the federal constitutional rights of civilians, and claims that his conduct is lawful. It’s easy to show that the routine seizures of persons refusing to identify themselves to LAPD Officers is a federal felony; 18 U.S.C. Section 242; violation of federal constitutional rights under the color of authority. It’s easy to show People v. Quiroga, 16 Cal. App. 4th 961 (1993.)
It is this author’s opinion, that had the involved LAPD officer understood that it’s really not a crime for a person to refuse to identify themselves to the police, there is a substantial probability that the LAPD would have destroyed or otherwise concealed that evidence. However, the cops really are trained that any defiance of their orders, no matter how capricious or seemingly nonsensical. They default to the vagueness of Cal. Penal Code Section 148(a)(1) and take you to jail; lying enough to try to get the DA’s office to criminally prosecuted you for a resistance crime (i.e. Penal Code Section 69 and 148(a)(1). If the DA’s is inexperienced or otherwise pressured to file the action if, for no other reason, to protect the police from their stupidity, you may very well take a plea, if you can’t make bail, or in lieu of paying 10′s of thousands of dollars to defend yourself, when you’re the victim. So why do the cops get away with it? Ignorant Media and local officials.
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 (the issuance of the Magna Carta.) King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215.
This is not an attack on the jury system. It is merely a reflection as to why in criminal police misconduct cases (i.e. resiting arrest, battery on a peace officer), or in civil police misconduct cases (i.e. 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 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”, and 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. Convincing a Newport Beach Superior Court white affluent jury that you didn’t act rudely toward a peace officer (not a crime), or somehow delay or obstructed the officer’s investigation of you, by exercising your right to not speak with the officer, is extremely difficult; almost impossible.
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. Moreover, as a general proposition, once you’re convicted of a crime that requires an officer to have been acting lawfully for you to have committed such a crime (i.e. resisting arrest, battery on peace officer), you’re legally precluded from suing the officer for damages.
In both civil and criminal cases, the parties have some say in the composition of the jury. The jury pool is 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), are 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 gets falsely arrested, beaten-up or maliciously prosecuted by police agencies, and gets 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.
IV. WHY THE POLICE CAN GET AWAY WITH IT; “CONTEMPT OF COP” ARRESTS.
Well over 95% of “Contempt of Cop” case criminal prosecutions are bogus; either: 1) simple frame-ups, to justify a peace officer’s use of force, or an unlawful arrest, or some other commonly committed Constitutional violations, or 2) simply mind boggling applications (i.e. strained theories of Cal. Penal Code § 148(a)(1) violations), or misunderstandings (i.e. don’t understand what Cal. Penal Code § 148(a)(1) proscribes), by public prosecutors, as to what types of constitutionally protected conduct, can be criminalized by the government, and, what conduct actually is so criminalized by California criminal statutes.
The District Attorney’s Office is the police. They will routinely file these bogus criminal “contempt of cop” actions at the request of police agencies, who need to get their victims criminally prosecuted; to beat them down, and to make them take a plea of some sort; to preclude, or at least substantially impair, the police misconduct victim’s (the criminal defendant’s) ability to seek redress; civil, or otherwise; a basic First Amendment Constitutional right (to sue and/or complain about the police; the rights of Freedom of Speech and to Petition the government for redress of grievances.)
A great example of this is the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office. San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos announced on May 15, 2013, that his agency was forming a new Division to deal with “Crime Against Peace Officers”, or “CAPO”. Mr. Ramos’ CAPO Unit is specifically designed to protect police officers who commit crimes against innocents, from civil liability and obloquy.
Motives For Public Prosecutors To File Bogus Criminal Actions Against Innocents.
Simple “Frame-ups”, To Justify A Peace Officer’s Use Of Force, Or An Unlawful Arrest, Or Some Other Commonly Committed Constitutional Violations.
Police agencies will almost always back the police officer who beat you, tased you, shot you, pepper-sprayed you, falsely arrested you, submitted false police reports to get you criminally prosecuted, or otherwise abused you. They are not interested in the truth. They are only interested in “crushing” you. Once the police have violated you, you are now their enemy; a threat to them.
They will destroy evidence, conceal evidence, fabricate evidence, author false police reports, procure false and malicious criminal prosecutions; commonly and routinely for bogus claims of resisting / obstructing / delaying peace officer, assault and battery on a peace officer, and other similar frame-up to cover crimes/torts by cops, and suborn perjury. They will do (almost) anything that will tend to exonerate the officer who victimized you. They do this by falsely prosecuting you.
These cases are, for the most part, misdemeanor criminal prosecutions. Some of the creepier prosecutors think that they’re actually doing you a favor, by allowing you to plead away your civil claims and give you a minor conviction (i.e. misdemeanor, infraction or a plea with a deferred entry of judgment.) Moreover, the deck is staked against you to the maximum extent permitted by law. For example, in Orange County, California, the Court will only provide a free Court Reporter for a misdemeanor criminal case, if the defendant is indigent. Otherwise, you can pay the Court Reporter’s fee for the trial (probably about $1,500.00 per day if you’re lucky; as if the defendant can even afford the lawyer.)
Moreover, the prosecutors in these “contempt of cop“ type cases, are usually young and aggressive newer lawyers, who are learning to be trial lawyers by prosecuting misdemeanors, and seeking to make a name for themselves. Many of them see these “contempt of cop” type cases, as an opportunity to increase their influence with the various police agencies that they are protecting from obloquy, and civil and criminal liability, as well as their rising star status with the DA’s office.
In City’s such as Los Angeles and Anaheim, the City Attorney’s Office prosecutes misdemeanor offenses, and the District Attorney’s Office still prosecutes felonies. These City Attorneys Offices, are the very same agencies that are charged with defending the City coffers from being depleted by lawsuits brought by victims of their own officers Constitutional violations, perpetrated upon the criminal defendant that they are prosecuting. If the police misconduct victim, pleads guilty, then, generally, they are barred from suing for a false arrest (See, Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994) (can’t sue for false arrest when plead guilty or even no contest ["nolo contendre"], even if police had no warrant of probable cause to arrest, for “policy reasons”), and sometimes even from suing for excessive force, under the doctrine of “collateral estoppel” (claim preclusion) / “res judicata” (claim preclusion; both basically standing for proposition that once an issue has been determined against you in prior judicial or administrative proceeding, you are barred from re litigating that issue in a subsequent proceeding.) Some of the states are following the Heck v. Humphrey policy decision and have incorporated into their state law claims for false arrest (See, Yount v. City of Sacramento, 43 Cal.4th 885 (2008); California Supreme Court adopts Heck v. Humphrey rule for California state law false arrest claims.)
That all being the case, many Deputy District Attorneys and City Attorneys are quite motivated to “Frame The Innocent”; to emotionally and financially beat-down, and (primarily) to civilly impair or disable, the victim of police misconduct (i.e. false arrest / excessive force / malicious prosecution / withholding exculpatory evidence) from vindicating both their honor and dignity (by convicting you). They do this:
a) For career advancement of misdemeanor prosecutors within their own agency, and within the law enforcement community (protecting the County / City coffers, and, perhaps, hoping someday to seek the endorsement of the police, in a run for Judge;
b) Because the Deputy District Attorneys who review case filing packets that are sent from police agencies, actually do not understand that the conduct complained of by the police, does not constitute a violation of Cal. Penal Code 148(a)(1); misdemeanor “resisting / obstructing / delaying a peace officer engaged in the lawful performance of his/her duties.” This is more common that one might imagine;
e) To protect the offending peace officers, from criminal internal discipline (i.e. an admonition, to suspension, or termination from employment);
f) To protect their pending and past criminal and civil cases, involving the offending officers. Officers who have a proven bad reputation for honesty or brutality, are essentially “finished” as police officers, as the prosecution has a duty to disclose such exculpatory evidence to the defense (i.e. Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963)), and “proven liars” are not all that convincing in Court. Moreover, when police officers are caught committing crimes of dishonesty (perjury, framing innocents, false arrests based upon lies by the officer(s), stealing narcotics, selling narcotics, torturing inmates and other persons in police custody), persons who were convicted, and may still be in prison, maybe able to vacate their convictions and to get out of prison, even if they’[re guilty, because many appellate courts feel that a conviction based on the testimony of such a police officer cannot stand.
The "perjury show" involved in the prosecution of these type of cases is choreographed by the police agency, the District Attorney's Office, and their experts and minions. That's right; perjury. Ask any judge or lawyer about the chances of any witness in a Court proceeding actually getting prosecuted for perjury, for testifying falsely in a California or Federal courtroom. After all, in almost every case, criminal or civil, there are two mutually exclusive versions of at least the key material facts. Someone must be lying, so someone is usually committing perjury in a trial. By the way, perjury is a crime that usually requires two witnesses to convict. See, Cal. Penal Code § 118; California's perjury statute:
"Cal. Penal Code § 118(b) provides:
"No person shall be convicted of perjury where proof of falsity rests solely upon contradiction by testimony of a single person other than the defendant. Proof of falsity may be established by direct or indirect evidence."
If you get gooned by the local Constables, the threat of a perjury prosecution, is generally not available as any protection for those unfortunates who were beaten-up, because the District Attorney's Office is the party responsible for suborning the perjury from the police.
About twenty-five years ago at a social gathering, this author had a cocktail chat about police perjury, and how rampant it was. When this author asked the sitting Judge that he was chatting with, why prosecutors don't question what the police are saying, the Judge, who used to be a Deputy District Attorney replied:
"My job isn't to determine whether the police officer is telling the truth. My job is to present The People's case (i.e. the police version of the events), and let a jury decide what happened."
Doesn't that make you sleep better at night?
Simple "Frame-ups", To Justify A Peace Officer's Use Of Force, Or An Unlawful Arrest, Or Some Other Commonly Committed Constitutional Violations - "Contempt of Cop" cases.
"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 prone position, or not doing something that the officer wants you to do (lawful, reasonable or not) immediately, and without question or protest. 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 or rifle 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); and 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; U.S. v. Al-Azzawy, 784 F.2d 890 (1985), and 8) video / audio recording the police.) 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 you being beaten-up, falsely arrested, and maliciously criminally prosecuted; and, in places with "conservative jurors", convicted for resisting arrest and battery on a peace officer. This is no joke. The overwhelming majority of "Contempt of Cop" criminal prosecutions are simply bogus. The police usually accused persons of fairly innocuous, but nonetheless, criminal conduct. Criminal, again, in the sense of a failure to immediately, and without question, do whatever the police tell you to do. That is a police state, if the police can brutalize and falsely arrest you, and you plead to time served and community service, just because the contrived charges have resulted in unobtainable bails; bail amounts that keep you in jail.
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; 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.
Mr. Steering has consulted on, or have represented clients, in thousands of these "contempt of cop" cases; both civil (suing the police and their employer) and criminal (defending bogus "contempt of cop" type cases.) Most of the police reports in these contempt of cop cases are cookie-cutter type reports. The officers use certain terminology in a way, that literally anything can be justified (i.e. a) the suspect's hands were reaching for his waistband area, so I shot him; b) the suspect took an aggressive stance with fists clenched, so I tased him; or c) the suspect took an aggressive stance with fists clenched, so I punched him in the face, hip threw him on the ground, pulled him arms up behind his back and cuffed him; all with officer's knee and body weight in neck of victim ("suspect"); d) the suspect said "f___k you to me, and took a swing at me; e) the suspect appeared to be impervious to pain, so I had to repeatedly hit him with my baton, which didn't seem to have any affect on the suspect; f) my taser had no effect on the suspect so I hit him with my baton; and on, and on and on; and g) the suspect keep his hands underneath his body and wouldn't allow me to pull his arms back, so I punched him in the head with hammer blows, and he gave up. This B.S. goes on and on and on.) The politicians won't take any action against the police, until they perceive that the body politic does, or foreseeable, will, or disapprove (i.e. the Kelly Thomas beating / murder case against several Fullerton Police Department officers; currently pending in Orange County Superior Court.) So, for example, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department statistics, in the year 2010, the LASD shot and killed 15 people who they claim were reaching for their waistband; none of whom were found to have had a weapon when they were shot. Anaheim PD has done this six times in 2012. Huntington Beach also had its share of shooting unarmed persons.
IV. WHY THE COPS CAN GET AWAY WITH IT; CRIMINAL CONTEMPT OF COP CASES ARE DIFFICULT TO DEFEND IN COURT BECAUSE OF THE AMBIGUITY OF CALIFORNIA'S RESISTING ARREST STATUTE.
a) The Ambiguity Of Cal. Penal Code § 148(a)(1), Makes It Difficult To Defend, Because A Jury Can Convict You For Conduct, That's Simply Not A Crime.
"Contempt of Cop" cases, especially California Penal Code Section § 148(a)(1) cases, are very often difficult to defend, because of several factors, including:
1) The Ambiguity Of Cal. Penal Code § 148(a)(1);
2) The Barriers to Discovery in Contempt Of Cop Cases;
3) The Jury Pools who Sit on Contempt Of Cop cases;
4) The Jury Instructions in Contempt Of Cop criminal trials;
5) The predisposition of persons to believe police officers;
6) The ease with which police officers lie in Court; they're professionals at it.
The Ambiguity Of Cal. Penal Code § 148(a)(1), Makes It Difficult To Defend, Because A Jury Can Convict You For Conduct That's Simply Not A Crime.
The Void For Vagueness Doctrine.
"To satisfy due process, a penal statute [must] define the criminal offense  with sufficient definiteness that ordinary people can understand what conduct is prohibited and  in a manner that does not encourage arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement. Kolender v. Lawson, 461 U. S. 352, 357. The void-for-vagueness doctrine embraces these requirements.” See, United States v. Skiling, ___ U.S. ____ (2010) (“the intangible right of honest services” language of 18 U.S.C. § 1346 void for vagueness, and can be interpreted as only proscribing bribes and kickbacks; not manipulation of stock prices.)
Cal. Penal Code § 148(a)(1), otherwise known as “contempt of cop”, is the most abused criminal statute in California, simply because it’s so vague. It’s like “Alice in Wonderland”; it means everything and it means nothing. It’s over inclusive; it’s under inclusive. It means whatever the jury wants it to mean.
For example, what does “resisting” an officer mean? Is not immediately dropping to the ground on one’s belly and putting one’s hands behind one’s back, after being ordered to do so by a peace officer, a crime? If so, why? Is failing to open the door to one’s home when directed to do so by a peace officer a crime? If so, why? Is failing to exit one’s residence when ordered to do so by a peace officer a crime? Is demanding to know what’s going on before complying with police orders a crime? Is failing to identify oneself to a peace officer upon a demand to do so, a crime? Is verbally challenging a peace officer’s authority to do something, a crime? Is arguing with a police officer “delaying” an officer’s investigation? Is causing an officer to deal with you “delaying” a peace officer? How do you know if the peace officer is engaged in the lawful performance of his/her duties; something necessary for that crime to be committed? Do we have to immediately and without question, obey whatever “commands” that we are given by a Constable? No reasonable person of average intelligence could possibly know the answers to these questions. However, persons are convicted for these very acts and omissions in California every day. That’s why the cops usually get away with it.
Law Offices of Jerry L. Steering
Jerry L. Steering, Esq.