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, sex-offender or drug offender registration cases, violation of court order cases, domestic violence cases, theft and embezzlement cases, towing industry cases, and the general spectrum of criminal violations. Mr. Steering’s law practice involves representing persons in Orange County, Los Angeles County, San Diego County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, Ventura County and other place throughout California and the United States.
He is also a member of the State Bar of Georgia and has also litigated cases in Georgia, Alabama and the District of Columbia. He is an expert in police brutality / excessive force and false arrest cases, and has been litigating these cases since 1984.The great majority of Mr. Steering’s law practice is devoted to defending bogus criminal cases against the victims of abuse by the police, and suing police officers and other government officials, for claims such as false arrest, police brutality / excessive force, malicious prosecution, and other “Constitutional Torts.”
Mr. Steering is an expert in defending your bogus criminal action, in a way to best protect and 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; for your malicious criminal prosecution; and for what’s usually at the center of all of the above, the exercise of our right to freedom of speech, and to complain to public officers, about misconduct by them or others, under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
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 can show that the Constable is not telling the truth. There are hundreds of different types of evidence that lawyers who only practice criminal law, usually do not know the existence of. For example, if you’re presently being represented by a criminal lawyer, make sure, they get the minimal types of “discovery”, that is available from various police agencies; most of which is “available”, only for a certain amount of time.
CRIMINAL DEFENSE OF”RESISTANCE OFFENSE” CASES:
Almost all “resistance offense” criminal cases are procured by the same police agency that perpetrated the very outrage complained of against the innocent civilian. This is done to shift the blame from the police officer to the beating victim (you, the innocent) for necessitating the use of force or other outrage. What the police and the prosecutors do is to charge you with committing some act that they claim is a crime and that somehow justified the police beating that you received. This is no joke. This is how the game works.
This author has been playing this game since 1984 and things have only gotten worse for the innocent civilian in the real world of what the police can do to you and your home and property. The American public basically has no idea what their basic rights and freedoms are, and how they have been shrinking since 1968. No one except the police, the lawyers and the judges care about these shrinking constitutional protections until some police outrage is perpetrated against them or a loved one.
Moreover, most law abiding innocent types who didn’t grow up in the ghetto do not believe that police officers do bad things to people who don’t deserve it. When we hear about a claim in the media that the police perpetrated some outrage against a civilian, the first thing that comes to our mind is what did the civilian do to make the police do what they did to him. Culturally, we tend to shift the blame for the use of force or other serious intrusion on the liberty of another, to the person upon whom the force was used.
What suing police officers and defending bogus “resistance offense” criminal cases since 1984 has taught this author, is that the civilian usually is the one completely in the right, and the constable usually is the one in the wrong. This is the Contempt of Cop Game, and it is a game in a very real sense.
The first rule of this game is that police perjury is rampant and sanctioned by public prosecutors.
In this world there really is no crime of perjury; at least one that is enforced. In California the prosecution need to show more than the testimony of a single witness to convict another of perjury:
(a) Every person who, having taken an oath that he or she will testify, declare, depose, or certify truly before any competent tribunal, officer, or person, in any of the cases in which the oath may by law of the State of California be administered, willfully and contrary to the oath, states as true any material matter which he or she knows to be false, and every person who testifies, declares, deposes, or certifies under penalty of perjury in any of the cases in which the testimony, declarations, depositions, or certification is permitted by law of the State of California under penalty of perjury and willfully states as true any material matter which he or she knows to be false, is guilty of perjury.
This subdivision is applicable whether the statement, or the testimony, declaration, deposition, or certification is made or subscribed within or without the State of California.
(b) 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.
No one gets prosecuted for perjury save a few politicians and entitlement recipients. The police all know this. The judges all know this. The lawyers all know this. The bailiffs all know this. The courtroom clerks all know this. The court reporters all know this. So, not to worry about lying police reports. If they are put on the stand by the prosecution and they get caught lying for the prosecution, there is zero chance that the prosecutor is then going to prosecute them for perjury.
The second rule of the game is that in the real world that the police can fabricate their police reports to procure your bogus criminal prosecution, without any real world repercussions.
After the police beat you up and/or falsely arrest you and the police agency submits a “package” to the District Attorney’s Office, the Deputy District Attorney who reviews the case for potential criminal filing are almost always simply going to accept and rely on what is shown in the initial police reports. This not because these filing Deputy District Attorneys are evil people.
This is because these Deputy District Attorneys simply don’t have the time to extensively review anything other than the initial arrest reports in making their decision to prosecute the subjects of those reports. Most Deputy District Attorneys who make the decisions whether to prosecute you and what for are forced to review between 15 and 30 cases per day. There is simply no time other than to read the initial arrest reports. There is no time to review the audio or video recordings, the use of force reports, any internal investigations (that the DA actually has to move the court to even see) or other items of evidence.
Police officers are trained on how to justify their conduct in court; both when they are attempting to frame you in a criminal case for some “resistance offense” (i.e. the defendant struck my fist with his jaw). Moreover, the laws of search and seizure of persons, places and property are extremely complicated and are ever changing. The police know what police keywords / buzzwords they can accuse you of that will ultimately, in the real world almost always justify their conduct. Accordingly, it is easy for the police to procure your bogus criminal prosecution, to shift the blame for their conduct from them to you, and to preclude you from suing them via your bogus criminal prosecution.
MR. STEERING IS A POLICE MISCONDUCT ATTORNEY WHO DEFENDS BOGUS CRIMINAL ACTIONS.
Mr. Steering has been defending these bogus criminal cases and suing the involved officers since 1984.He understanding the ever changing legal landscape and understands how to play this Contempt of Cop game to get you justice; both in the form of vindication in the bogus criminal action brought against you, and compensation and vindication in the form of monetary compensation for the police outrages perpetrated against you.
Mr. Steering’s law practice serves Orange County, and the Orange County cities shown below, as well as Ventura County, Los Angeles County, San Diego County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, Imperial County and other locations throughout California. Mr. Steering is also licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia and has practiced in federal courts outside of California pro hac vice, including the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Mr. Steering is also a Members of the Bars of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court (since 1987).
The majority of Mr. Steering’s firm’s law practice is defending bogus “contempt of cop” criminal actions, usually followed by Mr. Steering filing and prosecuting lawsuits against the very same police officers who beat-up, falsely arrested and falsely accused the innocent of criminal conduct, to protect themselves and their employing agency from liability to the innocent for their outrages.
Most of Mr. Steering’s criminal and civil cases involve core Bill of Rights type issues; the difference between living in a free society of a police state. Most of these federal civil rights cases involve police violation of person(s) fourth amendment rights (i.e unreasonable searches of persons and their places and effects, and unreasonable seizures of person (false arrest and unreasonable force, procuring bogus and malicious criminal prosecutions) and first amendment violations (retaliation for protected speech and to petition for redress and various other “Constitutional Torts” , including police whistleblowing cases (Cal. Labor Code Section 1102.5.)
He has been involved in these types of cases involving Anaheim Police Department officers since 1986. Anaheim Police Department officers are quite adept in planting evidence to frame innocents, falsely arresting innocents and even killing innocents for many years now; all with impunity.
Anaheim is rather unbiased in their treatment of civilians. No matter your race, color or creed, all are treated equally poorly and oppressively. Anaheim police officers learn early on that they literally can beat, falsely arrest and procure the filing of a bogus criminal action against those whom they abuse. This not some lefty propaganda or overstatement of the state of our country. It is reality. Anaheim PD was the leading agency that literally created the Orange County Snitch Scandal; a massive scandal involving Anaheim PD and using illegal jailhouse informants to obtained confessions from inmates at the Orange County Jails. They used real life former Mexican Mafia gang members, who were inmates in the jail and on the City payroll, to literally coerce and scare inmates into making incriminating statements; confessions that were often false, made simply to avoid violence by the Mexican Mafia.
Some police officers can handle the awesome power over civilians, and some cannot. The Anaheim Police Department has its share of those who cannot. Ergo, here come I.
Oliver v. City of Anaheim, U.S. District Court, Santa Ana; Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, 2012; (plaintiff won case in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on their unlawful arrest claim; false arrest as matter of law.) Plaintiffs obtained $400,000.00 for four hour false arrest of father (and son), for father telling police that he didn’t know of his son hit a opossum with a shovel (which isn’t a crime anyway),so busted the father for violation of Cal. Penal Code 32 (i.e. “accessory to crime”, for not incriminating his son, for something that isn’t a crime. See, Oliver v. City of Anaheim; Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Mr. Steering has also had many acquittals in Orange County Superior Court; especially in cases involving false arrests.
Norma Cortez v. City of Anaheim; Mr. Steering also obtained $300,000.00 from the City of Anaheim, for the use of police tactics that placed the plaintiff in a position of danger; a danger that did happen (i.e. non-lethal bystander gunshot wound); Norma Cortez et al. v. City of Anaheim, et al.; United States District Court for the Central District of California.
Mr. Steering also obtained $95,000.00 settlement for the seven minute long false arrest of an El Segundo Police Officer (Gregory Howden v. City of Anaheim.)
WHY THE POLICE SO EASILY GET AWAY WITH THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL VIOLATIONS.
None one gets elected to an elected office of government by campaigning that they are going to curtail abuse of civilians by peace officers. Even when the LAPD took over the narcotics business in Central Los Angeles (i.e. the LAPD Rampart Scandal), both incumbent Mayor James Hahn and his challenger, Antonio Villaragosa, claimed that they were the candidates that had the backing of the LAPD, to garner votes in their election race for Mayor of Los Angeles. It didn’t matter that the LAPD was then, as much of a RICO criminal enterprise as any gangster or Mafioso that the federal Criminal RICO statute, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961-1968), was designed to combat. All that mattered is that the public really didn’t care all that much about the police abusing others. “Whitey” cannot imagine that in the real world, with the way that they look, and with the cars that they drive, responsibly enough, that the police are not going to mess with them. “Whitey” believes that people who the police abuse, such as by humiliating detention techniques, malicious and knowingly made false arrests, outrageous malicious criminal prosecutions, physical beatings, often to the verge of death, must have done something to have caused the police to have acted in that manner. They are in la la land, until it happens to them.
On the other hand, brown people may know that you don’t have to do anything wrong to be abuse by the police. That’s not to say that the police don’t mess with caucasians. It is to say that they’re aren’t too many white people living in Watts or Compton, and there’s a reason for that. The police in Watts or Compton don’t treat the locals, like the police in Beverly Hills.
PUBLICATIONS ON CRIMINAL LAW.
Mr. Steering is also a published legal scholar, and has a published Law Review Article a logical quandary of federal evidentiary law: the disparity in the use of “accomplice accusations” between Fourth Amendment (accomplice accusations sufficiently reliable to establish probable cause for search warrant), and Sixth Amendment analysis (accomplice accusations are so inherently unreliable, that Congress could not have meant to have included them with the ambit of the Declaration Against Penal Interest exception to the hearsay rule.) As explained in the Law Review Article, a statement is either made under circumstances that we believe indicate that they are reliable, or not. Although the tests may be somewhat different, the statement is either reliable or not, and treating the statement as unreliable for Sixth Amendment purposes, but as reliable for Fourth Amendment purposes, is simply illogical. See, “The Application Of Sixth Amendment Tests For The Reliability Of Hearsay Evidence To Probable Cause Determinations”, 16 Rutgers Law Journal 869 (1985.)
MR. STEERING’S CIVIL RIGHTS EXPERIENCE PUTS US IN A POSITION TO KNOW WHAT TO OBTAIN FROM THE PROSECUTION, AND HOW TO MAKE SURE IT’S THERE WHEN YOU DEMAND IT.
Evidence preservation letters need to be delivered by your criminal lawyer (click here for a sample letter) to at least the investigating and arresting agencies, within the 100 days of the date of the incident to ensure the preservation of radio and telephone communications. After 100 days following the subject incident, the police agency can claim that they destroyed any such audio recordings of radio and telephone communications. See, Cal. Gov’t Code §§ 26202.6 and 34090.6. Usually, like all things in life of an adversarial nature, whether or any such communications exist, all too often, if the recordings are “bad” for the police, the police either destroy such audio recordings, or simply tell the District Attorney’s Office that they have been purged or lost. This same cushion of deniability or often is used by police agencies to deny the existence of other key items of evidence, such as (non-privileged) police agency internal memos, police agency emails, police agency MDC (Mobile Data Computer) car-to-car chat printouts, transmissions, officer daily activity reports, patrol sergeant’s daily reports, Pass-On logs, audio recordings made by officers on audio recorders, and other items of important material evidence. Believe this or not, it was not until 2012, that the right of a criminal defendant, who is on felony trial for battery on of peace officer (and other associated “resistance offenses“) to obtain copies of police agency Internal Affairs Investigations and the officer and witness statements made pursuant to those investigations. Rezek v. Superior Court, 206 Cal.App.4th 633 (2012.)
Moreover, in state court misdemeanor resisting arrest prosecutions, opposing counsel on ultimately the same issues (i.e. probable cause for arrest, use of unreasonable force), is usually green (new lawyer). Experience from extensive federal court discovery of the same police agency involved in state court criminal cases, allows us to know what various items of evidence to ask for from various police agencies, and what to demand and compel the production of. 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. In other words, we use the bogus criminal case to dramatically improve the odds of your ultimately prevailing on your civil excessive force, false arrest and malicious prosecution claims.
Mr. Steering specializes, in what the legal and law enforcement professions call Contempt Of Cop cases, and their sister civil counterparts; suing the police for false arrest, unreasonable force and malicious criminal prosecutions. If the police use unreasonable force on you, their standard reaction is to arrest you; right or wrong; good or evil. It makes no difference to them. Most good citizens understand that we need the police, and that they often deal with unsavory characters that we are glad that we don’t have to deal with ourselves. We believe that they protect us from the bad guys, and praise them for doing so.
However, most good citizens don’t have a clue that the people entrusted with their safety, are, in many cases, worse than those who they’re protecting you from. Ask any police officer if he would arrest his fellow officer, if they were out on patrol, and he saw his fellow officer beating a handcuffed and hobbled arrestee with a billy club in his head; even if he kills the fellow. They will all tell you “No.” That’s because they really believe that they are exempt from the same rules of civility and treatment of others as we are; above the law.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN; YOU ARE NOW THE ENEMY OF THE STATE.
Once the police cross that Constitutional barrier, there is no going back; at least not in their minds. Their relationship with you is, and ever after will be, adverse.Yesterday you were “Joe” or “Jane” citizen. Someone who supported the police, and believed that the police don’t do bad things to people who in some way, legally or morally, don’t deserve it. If need be, you would help a police officer in distress, and report serious criminal behavior, like seeing another get murdered. Now you are on the police radar; the enemies list. You are a threat to them, and they will lie, cheat, destroy evidence, procure your bogus criminal prosecution, and frame you for a crime, when you’re the victim. That is the modern police state that were are now in. The police can, and do, really shoot you dead, by merely claiming that you reached for your waistband. The is no joke. In 2010, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department admitted in a semi-annual report, that they shot 15 people to death, all unarmed, because they reached for their waistband. If you don’t believe it, just try them out and see what happens.
CRIMINAL LAW PRACTICE AND THE FIGHT FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE; MR. STEERING’S EARLY YEARS IN GEORGIA.
Having attended the University of Georgia School of Law, and having taken and passed the February 1984
Georgia Bar Exam in his last semester of Law School (while contemporaneously Clerking at a law firm full time, and attending law school full time), in June of 1984, Mr. Steering began defending criminal cases for the law firm of Scott & Quarterman, of Athens, Georgia; the same law firm that he clerked for, full-time, for over two years.
THE EARLY YEARS; CRIMINAL CASES IN GEORGIA.
MARTIN v. HARDISON; ON HIS FIRST DAY AS A LAWYER, JERRY L. STEERING INVENTS THE USE OF THE WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS, FOR VACATING TRAFFIC OFFENSES CONVICTIONS IN GEORGIA, RESULTING IN THE RETURN OF HUNDREDS OF SUSPENDED AND REVOKED DRIVER LICENSES
GEORGIA SUPREME COURT DECLARES RIGHT TO DRIVE A PROTECTED LIBERTY INTEREST; HARDISON V. MARTIN.
In Hardison v. Martin, 254 Ga. 719 (1985) the State of Georgia was turned upside down as a result of Mr. Steering’s invention of use of “The Great Writ” to obtain driver license reinstatement. In literally his first case as a lawyer (and literally his first day as a lawyer in court), Mr. Steering “invented” the use of the “Writ of Habeas Corpus“ (the “Great Writ“), to vacate wrongful convictions of innocents for serious traffic offenses (misdemeanors and felonies), that result in driver license suspension or revocation. Prior to Hardison v. Martin, 254 Ga. 719 (1985), a motorist had no remedy for the suspension or revocation of his/her driver license, if he/she had plead guilty to the underlying traffic offense, and the motorist was neither in police custody (i.e. prison or jail), nor “constructive custody” (i.e. parole or probation.) Hardison v. Martin expanded Georgia’s definition of restraint of one’s liberty under the Georgia Habeas Corpus statute, from being in prison or jail, or being on probation or parole, to being entitled to a driver license. In other words, because of the widespread use of cars in today’s society to travel, there is a constitutionally protected “liberty interest” in being able to drive a vehicle; not a mere “privilege” that the state may revoke at its whim (a right, rather than a privilege.)
HARDISON v. MARTIN; THE PROBLEM; NO REMEDY TO RIGHT THE WRONG.
In Hardison v. Martin, 254 Ga. 719 (1985), Randall Martin was a car salesman at an Athens, Georgia, Cadillac Dealership. He needed to have a valid Georgia driver license, to work as a car salesmen. Mr. Martin had a tough break-up with his girlfriend, and got drunk to deal with his mental anguish. Over a two day period, Mr. Martin got arrested twice for DUI. The second DUI arrest was prompted by a call to the police by Mr. Martin’s girlfriend, reporting that Mr. Martin had broken a window on her home (while knocking too hard; the product of ethanol and inadvertence, and being “jilted“), and that she just wanted him gone. When the police were driving Westbound on the Atlanta Highway (the B52′s “Love Shack’s” Atlanta Highway), Mr. Martin was driving Westbound. There was quite a large amount of lawn / grass that separated the Eastbound from the Westbound lanes. Mr. Martin correctly guessed that the police officer, who was traveling Eastbound, was looking for him. However, it took the officer about fifteen seconds to reach the next road to turn-around, to pursue Mr. Martin Westbound (this wasn’t life or death, when an officer might drive over a large grass median.) So, Mr. Martin immediately pulled his car over to the curb, parked on the shoulder of the Atlanta Highway, and ran into the woods; hiding from the police.
The officers simply waited for a few hours at Mr. Martin’s car, and he eventually came out of the woods and surrendered to the police. Over his two day drunken binge (from being “jilted”), Mr. Martin had been arrested for DUI for the first day, and for DUI and eluding an officer in a vehicle, on the second day. Mr. Martin pleaded guilty to all three misdemeanor traffic offenses, and was given three years probation and a $700.00 fine. However, the Clerk of the Clarke County, Georgia Superior Court neglected to send copies of Mr. Martin’s judgment of conviction for the three traffic misdemeanors to the Georgia Department of Public Safety (Georgia’s combo State Patrol and DMV) for over three years; only doing so in response to the Probation Office notifying the Superior Court Clerk’s Office that Mr. Martin had successfully completed his three years of probation.
After the Georgia Department of Public Safety received Mr. Martin’s judgment of conviction from the Clerk’s Office, they notified him that he was an “habitual violator” under Georgia law, for having three serious traffic convictions within five years. See, OCGA § 40-5-58 . Under that law, it was a felony for Mr. Martin to drive for five years.
After being declared an habitual violator (OCGA § 40-5-58 ), Mr. Martin lost his job as a car salesman, as he couldn’t drive. His lawyer (Mr. Steering’s old boss, Howard Scott) brought a motion to set-aside his guilty plea to the eluding an officer in a vehicle Count, on the ground that although Mr. Martin did flee the officer on foot, that he didn’t use his car to evade the police, and, therefore, cannot be guilty of the misdemeanor offense of eluding an officer in a vehicle, and deserves his driver license back. So, although Mr. Martin was guilty of a crime, he was not guilty of a traffic offense, and his right to drive should not have been revoked.
At the hearing on the motion to vacate Mr. Martin’s guilty plea, the arresting officer testified to the above and foregoing; that Mr. Martin eluded him, but on foot; not in his car. The Judge nonetheless denied the motion. The motion was written and orchestrated by Mr. Steering, for his then boss, Howard Tate Scott, during his last semester of law school.
Thus, Mr. Martin had proof, based on the arresting officer’s own version of the events, that the he was innocent of the traffic misdemeanor that resulted in his being declared an habitual violator (eluding an officer in a vehicle), and the loss of his job. However, as one can’t appeal a guilty plea, as there is nothing to appeal from; there was no trial to complain was unfair. Also, because Mr. Martin was not in prison or jail, or on parole or probation, as the judgment of conviction was sent in after he was off probation, under the Georgia Habeas Corpus statute, there was not a sufficient restraint on liberty for Habeas Corpus relief to lie; or was it?
HARDISON v. MARTIN; THE SOLUTION; FOR EVERY WRONG THERE MUST BE A REMEDY.
Not taking “No” for an answer, on the first day that Mr. Steering was an attorney, June 25, 1984, a hearing was held on the Writ of Habeas Corpus against Colonel Hugh Hardison, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of public safety. While still a law clerk, Mr. Steering ghostwrote a Habeas Corpus Petition for Mr. Martin, contending that Colonel Hugh Hardison was restraining Mr. Martin’s liberty by revoking his driver license, and requesting that Clarke County Superior Court Judge Joseph P. Gaines order Colonel Hardison to give Mr. Martin his driver license back. After ruling that modern American cases and the change in modern society should recognize other forms of restraints on one’s liberty other than prison, jail, parole and probation, and that “mere technicalities of law” should not permit the scales of justice to be tipped in favor of punishing the indisputably innocent, Clarke County Superior Court Judge Joseph P. Gaines ordered Colonel Hardison to give Mr. Martin his driver license back. Judge Gaines granted the Writ of Habeas Corpus on the ground that driver license revocation qualified as a sufficient restraint on one’s liberty upon which Habeas Corpus relief may lie.
Because Mr. Martin was indisputably innocent, the Georgia Supreme Court was not going to leave him without remedy, for the Clerk’s belated delivery of the judgment of his conviction to the Georgia Department of Public Safety. When the Georgia Attorney General’s Office appealed Judge Gaine’s granting of the Writ of Habeas corpus for Mr. Martin, a unanimous Georgia Supreme Court affirmed Judge Gaines’ order; creating the right to use the remedy of Habeas Corpus to vacate traffic offense convictions in Georgia.
HARDISON v. MARTIN; THE POLITICAL FALLOUT
Because in the State of Georgia, there were no “infractions” or “violations”, just misdemeanors or felonies (i.e. DUI misdemeanor; bald tires ticket misdemeanor, and robbery and murder, felonies), the ruling in the Martin case had dramatic consequences in the State of Georgia. In none, or almost none, of the guilty pleas in Georgia traffic cases, did the Judge obtain either written or oral (and reported / recorded) waivers of the certain fundamental Constitutional rights that Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238 (1969.) guarantees. However, in order to withstand attack upon conviction, even a misdemeanor traffic violation, by way of a Writ of Habeas Corpus, a guilty plea (or no contest / nolo contendre plea) must include some sort of record (i.e. a written waiver of rights form, or a transcript of an oral in-court waiver of rights) of a knowing, intelligent and voluntary waiver of certain basic Constitutional rights, such as: 1) the right to counsel; 2) the right to remain silent; 3) the right to a public trial by jury: 4) the right to use the compulsory process of the court; and 5) the right to confront (cross-examine) one’s accusers. See, Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238 (1969.)
Therefore, because the majority of traffic convictions in Georgia were the result of guilty pleas, and all of them were at least misdemeanors, almost all of them in the state were now subject to being set aside via Habeas Corpus. Many of them were.
THE STATE v. SUSAN JONES; EVERYONE NEEDS TO START SOMETIME; MR. STEERING’S FIRST JURY TRIAL; LET’S CONVICT THE OBVIOUSLY INNOCENT.
Mr. Steering’s first criminal jury trial was the case of The State of Georgia v. Susan Jones; Clarke County (Georgia) State Court. In that case, defendant Susan Jones was being prosecuted for misdemeanor criminal utterance of a bad check. OCGA § 16-9-20 (uttering a check for present consideration, knowing that the check will not be honored by the bank.) On the same day that Mrs. Jones had paid her $380.00 monthly rent for her apartment by check, she had also made a $400.00 bank deposit into her checking account (before she paid her rent.) However, the landlord didn’t deposit the check for about a month. When the check was presented to Ms. Jones’ bank for payment, the bank denied the payment, as her account had dipped a few dollars below the $380.00 check amount, due to miscellaneous bank charges.
On the day before the Jones “bad-check” trial, the Clarke County Solicitor, Ken Stula, received Susan Jones’ bank records. It was apparent from the bank account records that she had no intent to defraud her landlord, and that she was innocent. On the morning of the trial, Susan Jones, represented by then young attorney Jerry L. Steering, answered ready for trial. The prosecution, represented by Clarke County Solicitor, Ken Stula, told the Clarke County State Court (Judge Grady C. Pittard, Jr.), that his office had obtained Ms. Jones’ bank records yesterday, that the records show that she was innocent, and that The State would like to dismiss the case. Judge Pittard scolded Mr. Stula for filing cases without first properly investigating them, and for waiting to the last minute to investigate them. However, Judge Pittard refused to dismiss the case, and told Mr. Stula not to worry; that he would “help” him. When Mr. Steering asked the Court what that was supposed to mean, Judge Pittard threatened Mr. Steering with jail for even asking.
During the trial, young attorney Jerry Steering found out what the “help” was. Judge Pittard refused to allow Mr. Steering to have the manager of Ms. Jones’ bank, identify or authenticate her bank account records, that proved her innocence. Mr. Steering could not believe that in his first trial, that the Judge and the prosecutor, were making a game out of attempting to convict a woman who they both knew was truly innocent. The Judge was “teaching the prosecutor a lesson”, and the prosecutor was going through the motions; almost struggling to keep a straight face. Mr. Steering doesn’t believe that Judge Pittard would had let a conviction of Ms. Jones stand. He was just having fun with the whole situation, at Mrs. Jones’ expense.
Notwithstanding the little game between the court and the prosecution, the jury saw right through it, and acquitted Ms. Jones in five minutes; literally five minutes. The fastest verdict that Mr. Steering has ever received.
This case was exceptionally “novel”, in the sense that once the prosecution moves to dismiss a criminal action, the court has no choice other than to dismiss it. It comes from the American doctrine of “separation of powers“. The judicial branch of government (the courts) cannot order the executive branch of government to prosecute anyone; ever. Only the executive branch of government (i.e. the President, a Governor, an Attorney General or a District Attorney, City Attorney, United States Attorney; in this case the State misdemeanor prosecutor; the Solicitor) can decide to criminally prosecute a person or corporation. So, although what Judge Pittard was doing was exceptionally unlawful, the defendant ultimately prevailed.
THE STATE OF GEORGIA v. KATIE MAE WILSON; MR. STEERING’S FIRST MURDER CASE.
Mr. Steering tried a murder case in Athens, Georgia; several months after graduation from law school in 1984. It was defending that case that gave Mr. Steering his first taste of police perjury (something that he has experienced in most of his cases thereafter.) The main investigating officer lied on the witness stand at the murder trial, about a discussion that he had with Mr. Steering, so Mr. Steering knew that the police officer was lying. Although the defendant did kill her husband, Curtis Wilson, with a boiling pot (smashed it over his head), Mr. Steering was still able to pull-off a manslaughter conviction out of the jury, and a six month jail sentence for his client; Katie Mae Wilson.
Mr. Steering got plenty of trial experience in Clarke County and Oconee County State Court, before the Hon. Grady C. Pittard, Jr. In Georgia, the District Attorney’s Office prosecutes felony cases, but the County Solicitor’s Office prosecute misdemeanors. Similarly, in Georgia, felonies are handled in the Superior Court, but misdemeanors are handled in the “State Court” (both of the Courts are courts of the State of Georgia.)
CRIMINAL CASES AFTER MR. STEERING MOVES TO CALIFORNIA – APPELLATE PRACTICE
MR. STEERING IS APPOINTED BY CALIFORNIA COURT OF APPEALS TO REPRESENT INDIGENT CRIMINAL DEFENDANTS ON MAJOR FELONY APPEALS
Based on the quality of his legal writing, when Mr. Steering first moved to California in 1986, he applied to the Fourth District Court of Appeal (that includes Imperial County, San Diego County, Orange County, Riverside County and San Bernardino County) for appointments for serious felony convictions for those in prison, and without sufficient resources to pay for an appellate attorney.
FIRST APPOINTED APPEAL; SAN DIEGO MAN CHOPS-UP WIFE WITH AXE.
In his first appointed appeal, Mr. Steering represented a Polish immigrant who chopped-up his wife with an axe in San Diego (he caught her in bed with another, and waited for her paramour to leave. He left their wedding photos on her chopped-up body, and called the police to turn himself in. The jury gave him Second Degree Murder, and Mr. Steering was trying for a reduction to manslaughter.
SECOND APPOINTED APPEAL; BRING A THICKER SWEATER.
In his next appointed appeal, he represented a man who had attempted to hold-up a liquor store by draping a sweater over his hand with his finger pointed to attempt to look like a gun barrel. The store clerk immediately recognized the items underneath the sweater as a hand, hit the alarm, walked around the corner and beat-up the defendant / appellant. Mr. Steering tried to appeal on theory of the impossibility defense, but the Court of Appeal wouldn’t go for it. Under the impossibility defense to crime, one does an act that no reasonable person would think would result in the desired result of the action. The classic example is the Voodoo Witch Doctor who casts a spell and sticks pins in a Voodoo doll in an attempt to kill another. Under the impossibility defense, no reasonable person would believe that their actions, in that case, casting a death spell and sticking pins in a Voodoo doll, would result in death or any harm; yet the menta
l element of most crimes, the mens rea, is the same in such a case as if one believe that home made bomb would work, when it wouldn’t as assembled; when it would have been impossible for that home made bomb to explode.This was the case with the sweater. It was so obvious from the look of a flimsy sweater draped over the defendant’s / appellant’s hand with pointing finger that there was no gun, only a finger, that no reasonable person would have believed that the result (i.e. making the store clerk believe that he had a gun under the sweater) would have resulted from the defendant’s / appellant’s conduct. Again, however, this is a criminal case, and the Court of Appeal ignored the Voodoo Doctor’s pin-sticking, and affirmed the conviction.
CRIMINAL CASES AFTER MR. STEERING MOVES TO CALIFORNIA – TRIAL PRACTICE.
BILL L. HARBERT v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; “THE KING CAN DO NO WRONG”
Mr. Steering has even filed a civil action for a Declaratory Judgment in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (that got transferred to the Northern District of Alabama) Bill L. Harbert v. United States of America; District Court Case No. 05-00173 CV-LSC-S. Mr. Harbert, was essentially “extorted” by the United States government to guarantee a $54,000,000.00 fine for a Sherman Act violation by a Liechtenstein company owned by him. He was neither a defendant to the criminal Sherman Act case against Bilhar International Construction, nor accused in any way in the Indictment of his company, and its London based President; Roy Anderson. The Declaratory Judgment action sought to relieve Mr. Harbert from having to pay that fine, based on the ground that he was extorted into signing the personal guarantee for the $54,000,000.00 fine imposed against Bilhar International Construction in said Sherman Act case.
Bill L. Harbert International Construction, one of the largest international construction companies in the world, and its affiliate company; Bilhar International Construction, a Lichtenstein company, was awarded a contract to rebuild the water delivery system for Cairo, Egypt by the United States Agency for International Development (“USAID”.) The $285,000.00 contract was a product of the 1979 Camp David Peace Accords, where President Carter negotiated permanent peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Although President Carter may have been a persuasive fellow, the United States had to provide and to pay for large construction projects in Egypt, to get Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to sign the peace treaty.
After being awarded the contract and completing the Cairo water delivery project, the United States government indicted Bill L. Harbert International Construction, Bilhar Company, and it’s London-based President, Roy Hill, for violation of the Sherman Act and making a false claim for payment to “Uncle Sam“; claiming that the Bill Harbert companies had “rigged the bidding” on the water delivery project, via a group of several international construction companies, called “The Frankfort Club.” The Sherman Act is a federal law that prohibits “anti-competitive business practices“, and nothing is more anti-competitive than bid-rigging.
Although the government Indicted Bilhar and an affiliate company, along with its President, Elmore Roy Hill, the government never claimed that Bill L. Harbert even knew about the bid-rigging. However, in order to settle the criminal action against Bilhar, Mr. Harbert was forced to (extorted) sign a personal guarantee of the criminal fine against Bilhar; a $54,000,000.00 fine. The fine terms called for an immediate payment of $10,000,000.00, and payments of approximately $740,000.00 per month. The personal guarantee also provided for the estate of Mr. Harbert to continue to be liable for the fine, even after his death.
Since he was never Indicted, the government couldn’t collect any monies from Mr. Harbert, other than via his personal guarantee. Moreover, Bilhar company, the actual defendant, only had $34,000,000.00 in total assets. Therefore, Mr. Harbert was being forced to pay $20,000,000.00 more than the total assets of the defendant company. Something had to be done. Although Mr. Harbert’s personal guarantee was negotiated by Nashville, Tennessee attorney Jim Neal (the man who put Jimmy Hoffa in prison), and his companies were represented by, among others, Charles F. (“Rick”) Rule (lead counsel for Microsoft in USA v. Microsoft), no one had a solution for Mr. Harbert’s problem; getting out of paying the remained of the$54,000,000.00 fine, and at least not having to pay the extra $20,000,000.00.
In 2002, Mr. Steering was hired by the Harbert legal team to solve the problem. Mr. Steering came-up with the idea of filing an action for a Declaratory Judgment; ordering that Mr. Harbert is excused from paying any of the fine, as being the product of extortion by Uncle Sam himself. While this case was going on, former United States Senator Bob Dole (R-Kansas) was escorting Mr. Steering around Capitol Hill, and introducing him to Senators and United States Representatives (Members of the House of Representatives) to sign-off on a Congressional letter of support for Mr. Harbert’s cause. On June 19, 2003, Sen. Dole even wrote to Attorney General Ashcroft, and accused the United States Department of Justice of extorting the personal guarantee from Mr. Harbert. See, June 19, 2003 letter from Bob Dole to Attorney General Ashcroft.
The Eleventh Circuit ultimately held that whether or not Mr. Harbert was “extorted” by Uncle Same, that “The King Can Do No Wrong“; that notwithstanding any such oppressive conduct by the government toward Mr. Harbert, that the federal government had “Sovereign Immunity” from being sued; even notwithstanding a 14th Amendment (“shocking to the conscience” standard for 14th Amendment Substantive Due Process Violation. It is true; “The King Can Do No Wrong“.
PEOPLE v. MARK EDWIN TAYLOR; NO SECOND DEGREE MURDER LIABILITY FOR PCP DISTRIBUTION.
In 1986, John Belushi died from an overdose of a combination of various narcotics, in Los Angeles. Also that year, Len Bias, the first round pick of the Boston Celtics, died from a cocaine overdose. Nancy Reagan was trumpeting her “Just Say No” (to drugs) campaign, and a very large portion of the American population was snorting cocaine; just about everyone (President George W. Bush (admitted to coke use during 2000 campaign.) Cops, Judges, lawyers, doctors; just about everybody was snorting coke. There was drug madness about, and the “drug dealer” replaced the “Commies” as the enemy.
In that same year, 1986, Mark Edwin Taylor was passing around a “sherm” (a PCP laced cigarette) at Huntington Beach. An 18 year old young man from Montabello paid $2.00 for a puff of the sherm. After puffing, the young man walked-down to the surf line, fully clothed, wearing his Sony Walkman headphones, sat down on the beach, and a big wave took him to Davy Jones locker. The autopsy of the young man showed that he had a subdural hematoma. Since “dead men don’t bleed”, the evidence showed that the young man’s head was apparently slammed on the beach (perhaps a rock) when the big wave came, and, that disabled the young man to the point where he was rendered unconscious and drowned. In other words, the PCP didn’t kill the young man. The subdural hematoma did. This was the first case in the English speaking world in which a person was criminally prosecuted for homicide for drug distribution, when the dead person didn’t die of an overdose; only possibly the behavioral effects of the PCP (i.e. sitting at the surf line, while fully dressed and listening to music.) During the first trial, Mr. Steering came close to being held in contempt of court for continuing to argue that there must be a better reason for the continued use of the felony murder rule, than it has been around since the time of Lord Coke.
In addition, Mr. Steering proved that although PCP had bizarre psychological effects, he also proved that illicit PCP use does not carry with it a “high probability of death”; the requirement for a felony to serve as the predicate felony for Second Degree Felony Murder in California. Therefore, in Reversing Mr. Taylor’s Second Degree Murder conviction, the Fourth District Court of Appeal (Division Three) held that a person could not be held liable for murder in California for PCP distribution, as PCP is not drug that carries with it, “a high probability of death” when used illicitly (See, People v. Taylor, 6 Cal.App.4th 1084 (1992).)
THE FIGHT FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE; CONTEMPT OF COP CASES
Mr. Steering is an expert in “Contempt Of Cop” type cases, and has litigated, consulted, advised or has otherwise been involved in thousands of these type of bogus criminal cases; usually for fabricated charges of either: 1) resisting / obstructing / delaying a peace officer in the lawful performance of his duties, 2) assault and battery on a peace officer, 3) using / threatening use of force or violence to deter or prevent a public officer from performing their duty, 4) assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, or, 5) attempted murder of a peace officer.
The natural American reaction to hearing that you are accused of a crime, is to presume that you actually committed some crime, or otherwise acted unlawfully, anti-socially dishonorably or despicably. These, “Contempt Of Cop” cases, typical 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.
Jerry L. Steering also handles many other types of criminal cases, such as:
* DUI cases; * Drug cases; * Theft / Fraud cases; * Failure to Register cases (drug offenders and sex offenders); *Assault and Battery cases; * Domestic Violence cases; * Criminal Threats; * Economic Crimes cases (investor fraud, securities laws violations; * Homicide cases; * Other offense * Towing Cases
If you have a legal problem, please call (949) 474-1849 for a free telephone consultation to see if we can help you with your criminal law problems.
Jerry L. Steering, Esq.