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, towing industry auto-theft and extortion 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.
THE NEWPORT BEACH POLICE ARE NOT BOY SCOUTS, AND ARE OFTEN QUITE BRUTAL.
If you want to see a police officer beat up an innocent, just go to Newport Beach on the 4th of July; you won’t be disappointed. If you think that the police don’t do bad thing to people who don’t deserve it, think again. After a while, many of today’s police officer actually enjoy beating others; no joke. Newport Beach PD is no exception. They kill others just as readily as today’s other trigger-happy police agencies. See, “Neighbor describes what happened when police officer shot, killed Newport Beach man”, Orange County Register, April 17, 2017.
Moreover, most rank and file police officers do not want to record their conduct. That way there is only one side of story. It was not until May of 201 that the Newport Beach Police Department began to wear body cams. See, Newport Police Department patrol officers don body cameras.
NOTABLE ORANGE COUNTY CRIMINAL CASES.
People of the State of California v. Mark Edwin Taylor; Orange County Superior Court (1986); Trial Counsel And Appointed Appellate Counsel (1986-1992.) Second Degree Felony Murder Case.
Under New “People v. Patterson” Standard, Second Degree Felony Murder Cannot Be Predicated On The Felony Of PCP Distribution, Because Illicit Use Of PCP Does Not Create “A High Probability Of Death”
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 (including President Carter’s National Security Adviser (spotted snorting coke in “Studio 54“; the Old Ed Sullivan Theater), and President George W. Bush (admitted to coke use during 2000 campaign.) Cops, Judges, lawyers, doctors, teachers, business people, housewives; 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 surfline, 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 crashing in, 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 (a quote frequestly attributed to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.)
At the time of the first Taylor trial, the “Second Degree Felony Murder Rule” in California applied when a person died as a result of the commission of a felony that was “inherently dangerous to human life in the abstract”, and was not one of those felonies listed in Cal. Penal Code 189 (for First Degree Felony Murder.) See, People v. Henderson, 19 Cal.3d 86 (1977). It was under that standard that Mr. Taylor was convicted of Second Degree Felony Murder.
After his conviction, while Mr. Taylor was appealing the same, a case came out of the California Supreme Court, that changed the standard for the Second Degree Felony Murder rule from requiring a felony that’s“inherently dangerous to human life in the abstract”, to one that ”can’t be committed without creating a high probability of death”. See, People v. Patterson, 49 Cal.3d 615 (1989.) The Fourth District Court of Appeal remanded Mr. Taylor’s murder case back to the trial court (Judge Richard Beacom), who convicted Mr. Taylor again, under People v. Patterson, “can’t be committed without creating a high probability of death”standard.
When Mr. Steering again appealed Mr. Taylor’s Second Degree Felony Murder conviction to the Fourth District Court of Appeal, this time they reversedMr. Taylor’sSecond Degree Felony Murder permanently; holding that if all of the prosecution’s evidenceis accepted as true, that since PCP (phencyclidine) stabilizes a person’s vital signs (as opposed to destabilizing them), that illicit PCP use can be committed without creating a high probability of death. Result. Conviction Reversed, Mr. Taylor found Not Guilty by Court of Appeal. People v. Taylor, 6 Cal.App.4th 1084 (1992.)
OTHER NOTABLE ORANGE COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT CRIMINAL CASES
People of the State of California v. Joseph “Mac” Duffy; “Con Juan” Of The Coast Highway; Central Orange County Superior Court felony action for grand theft.
Joe Duffy (aka “Mac Duffy”) was a 28 year old Scottish golf professional, who had a way with the women. Mr. Duffy would drive up and down the Pacific Coast Highway between Laguna Beach and Newport Beach, in expensive cars, like Rolls Royces and Lambourginis. He would romance women (lots of them) and convince them to invest their money with him; telling them that his father manipulated stock prices on the “International Stock Market”; something that doesn’t exist. Several women in Orange County, California fell for the con, and gave Mr. Duffy $160,000.00 to invest for them. He invested the money; just not on them (it is estimated that Mr. Duffy obtained approximately $4,000,000.00 just this way from women, from Florida to California.See,
One of the women, Sylvianne Lestringant, became suspicious of Mr. Duffy, and hired Newport Beach Private Investigator Tom Martin to find-out about him. Mr. Martin found enough to procure the Newport Beach Police Department to investigate, and to arrest Mr. Duffy on four counts of grand theft; one of the four counts being stealing from Ms. Lestringant. However, Mr. Duffy was so smooth, that he actually convince victim number 4 (Count IV) Ms. Lestringant, to pay for his $40,000.00 bail bond to get him out of jail. Duffy was so smooth that he also got Ms. Lestringant to marry him, so she wouldn’t have to testify against him (the Judge made her testify anyway.) See, ‘Highway Heartbreaker’ Revisits Road to Ruin : Movie: The television film, airing Sunday, tells the story of playboy Joseph (Mac) Duffy and the victims of his scams, Los Angeles Times, March 28, 1992.
At Mr. Duffy’s Preliminary Examination in his felony grand theft case, Judge Leonard McBride dismissed all but one of the Counts against Mr. Duffy after Mr. Steering showed that the prosecution failed to prove a crucial element of theft via false pretenses; that the pretense was false. Mr. Steering thereupon negotiated a plea to one Count of Grand Theft, no jail time, and the dismiss of the Grand Theft conviction upon the successful completion of probation. It’s what in the law is known as a “sweatheart deal”.
People of the State of California v. Richard Page;Central – Orange County Superior Court (1992) criminal action for violation of Cal. Penal Code 148(a)(1) (resisting / obstructing delaying peace officers) Jury Verdict: Not Guilty
People of the State of California v. Rexford Newman; Harbor – Orange County Superior Court (2002) criminal action for violation of Cal. Penal Code 148(a)(1) (resisting / obstructing delaying peace officers) Jury Verdict: Not Guilty
People of the State of California v. Gabriel Celli; Harbor – Orange County Superior Court (2008) criminal action for violation of Cal. Penal Code 148(a)(1) (resisting / obstructing delaying peace officers) Jury Verdict: Not Guilty
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.