Jerry L. Steering, Esq., is a Police Misconduct Attorney, who defends criminal cases, and sues police officers for, among other things, the use of excessive force upon civilians, their false arrests and their malicious criminal prosecutions. In resistance offense cases being charged with a crime has its advantages in the overall scheme of whether you can actually obtain justice when you are beaten and/or falsely arrested by the police.
If you believe that police agencies act honestly when one of their officers / deputies violated your basic liberties (i.e. police beating, false arrest for failing the attitude test, attempted frame-ups to cover their rear side) you are mistaken. Once the police violate your constitutional rights in some significant way, you are their enemy. You now pose a threat to them.
True justice for you necessarily, means civil liability for the officer’s employing entity, or internal discipline for the officer, or just subjected to obloquy. That being the case, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office is going to file a bogus criminal action against you for some “resistance offense”, because San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos and the “CAPO” Division of his office will do whatever they can to do to protect the police agencies of San Bernardino County, by falsely convicting you. It doesn’t have to be for much. As explained below, as a general proposition, it you are convicted of a “resistance offense” you are precluded from suing the police for your false arrest and your police beating. See, Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994).
If you are charged with some resistance offense in San Bernardino County come out on top. It’s not always possible, but suing police officers and defending bogus resistance offense cases since 1984 gives a police misconduct lawyer some insight as to how to actually win this “contempt of cop” game. Rather than being the “ultimate victim” and suffering both the police abuse (i.e. beating and false arrest) and a bogus criminal conviction, win your criminal case and sue the police. It’s more difficult than it sounds, but it can be done. This author does this every day. Mr. Steering’s law practice involves serving, among other places, San Bernardino County, and the San Bernardino County cities shown below. Mr. Steering also represents persons in both civil and criminal case in Los Angeles County, San Diego County, Riverside County and Orange County. He is an expert in brutality / excessive force and false arrest cases; both civil and criminal.Mr. Steering has successfully sued San Bernardino County police agencies successfully, for many years now. Here are a few examples:
POLICE MISCONDUCT CASES IN SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY; COPS GONE WILD.
San Bernardino County is a very special place when it comes to police misconduct. Officer Involved Shooting Investigations by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office are done by reading the police report (that is no joke). The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office is not interested in prosecuting crimes by peace officers against the public for duty related activities such as falsely arresting civilians, using unlawful / unreasonable force upon civilians, unlawfully searching and seizing persons and places, authoring false police reports, committing perjury [for the government] , withholding exculpatory evidence, framing innocents [to protect selves from liability].
If a cop steals a candy bar or drives drunk or commits a sex offense Mr. Ramos has no problem with prosecuting the officer. If the crime committed by the officer is “duty related”, his/her employing Municipal
employer and Mr. Ramos will back them all of the way; save that rare event that the duty related police outrage is proven by “real evidence”, such as when a police outrage is captured clearly on a video or audio recording. See, e.g. the SBSD beating of Francis Pusok.
“Backing them all the way” also includes criminally prosecuting the civilian victim of the police outrage.
The lawyers, the judges and the police all understand that if you are convicted of a crime you can’t sue the police for false arrest, regardless of whether the officer who arrested you either had a warrant or probable cause to believe that you committed a crime, Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994).
The lawyers, the judges and the police also understand that if you are convicted of a “resistance offense“, not only can you can’t you sue for false arrest, but now you can’t sue for anything else; based upon the bar of Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994) and “the doctrine of collateral estoppel“. These doctrines will generally preclude one from successfully suing the police for “constitutional torts” such as false arrests (U.S. Const. Amend. 4), us of unreasonable force (U.S. Const. Amend. 4), retaliation for free speech / verbal challenge or protest police actions (U.S. Const. Amend. 1), withholding / concealing / destroying exculpatory evidence (U.S. Const. Amend. 5, U.S. Const. Amend. 6 & 14), (U.S. Const. Amend. 4) (i.e. unreasonable force, first amendment retaliation). This is because “resistance offenses” can only be committed against a peace officer if the officer was acting lawfully; in the lawful performance of their duties. Accordingly, if you are convicted of a “resistance offense” crime you generally can’t sue the police at all.
No one understands this all better than San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos. On May 15, 2013 Mr. Ramos announced the formation of his agency’s “CAPO” Division. That Division of the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office’s mission is to literally prosecute those victims of police outrages perpetrated against them. This is no joke. Mr. Ramos announced to the world that his office will not be dismissed criminal cases where the alleged victim is a peace office. See, Channel 9 KCAL news piece on CAPO, starring Mr. Ramos.
San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos has established a Division in the agency whose mission is to prosecute the innocent victims of police beatings and bogus “contempt of cop arrests”; to preclude the victims of police outrages from obtaining redress (i.e. money from a lawsuit) by obtaining guilty pleas to the most de minimis offense.
Ask any criminal defense lawyer who practices law in San Bernardino County. They deal with the CAPO Deputy District Attorney’s who “persecute” these innocents; real innocents. They will all tell you that the District Attorney’s Office will prosecute their innocent clients to protect the police. They will tell you that the Deputy District Attorney’s in that office tell them that they have to ask the permission of the police officer “victim” to get his/her consent to dismiss the bogus criminal action against their clients. This also is no joke.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department is one of the most brutal and dishonest police agencies in the United States. Like the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department has no policy requiring their deputies to audio or video record their contacts with the public. They do this because they only want a judge or a jury to hear one side of the story; theirs. Any police agency that actually believes that recording their contacts with the public is going to benefit the police is delusional. It doesn’t. It may help with a few false complaints by civilians, but overall benefit from officers recording their contacts will be greatly outweighed by detriment those recordings would cause to the agency (i.e. the FBI did not even record their witness interviews until 2014.)
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 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. Since 1984 (in California since 1986) he has tried and litigated hundreds of criminal cases, including murder cases, manslaughter cases, assault and battery cases, drug possession / drug manufacturing cases, DUI cases, vehicular homicide cases, white-collar investor fraud cases, sex-offender or drug addict registration cases, violations of court order cases, domestic violence cases, towing industry cases, and the entire spectrum of various criminal violations.
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.
NOTABLE CRIMINAL CASES IN SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT.
People of the State of California v. James Lemoine; Rancho-Cucamonga San Bernardino County Superior Court criminal action for felony assault on a peace officer and felony interference with public officer’s performance of duties. An Ontario Police Officer located Mr. Lemoine in a neighbor’s home after incident with his girlfriend, resulting in her called police on him. Mr. Lemoine attempted to flea the officer and attempted to jump through window of home to escape. Mr. Lemoine got stuck in the window sill assembly, and was shot in the back by the Ontario Police Department officer while in that position. He posed no threat to the officer, who was exonerated of wrongdoing by Ontario PD (“What’s wrong with shooting an unarmed man, stuck in a window frame, cut-up, with one leg outside and one leg inside?”) The officer claimed that Mr. Lemoine attacked him in an effort to escape; a complete fabrication; something actually quite normal for peace officers. However, the only people who get to sit on juries in police misconduct cases, civil or criminal, have not personally witnessed police misconduct (all that have seem to always tell the court during jury selection, that the event of police misconduct that they witnessed had such a profoundly negative opinion and general distrust of, if not contempt for, peace officers, that they are actually prejudiced against peace officers in these type cases, and are, therefore, excused to sit for cause as a juror.) Therefore, the only people who are asked to judge who is lying; the defendant or the Constable, are people who believe that police don’t do bad things to people who didn’t deserve it; morally, if not legally, because they have only had positive experiences with peace officers. That’s why it’s so difficult to win in these officer vs. civilian swearing contests; notwithstanding the Constable repeatedly lying on the stand. However, it can be done, and it was done here. Hon. Ben T. Kayashima, Judge Presiding: Jury Verdict: Not Guilty all Counts.
People of the State of California v. Tom Austin; Rancho-Cucamonga San Bernardino County Superior Court criminal action for resisting / obstructing / delaying peace officer. Mr. Austin’s 16 year old son and his classmates were video recording a reenactment of the famous Sacco an Vanzetti armed robbery incident (that Sacco and Vanzetti were innocent of, but executed for), for a High School History project. The boys wore black ski masks and carried pellet guns, and had dressed-up the Austin’s garage to resemble a bank teller window counter. Some neighbors saw the youths and (notwithstanding a youth recording the reenactment with a tripod mounted video camera outside of the garage) thought that the youths were home invasion robbers, and called the police. The youths were detained downstairs in the garage, and when Mr. Austin heard screaming (the police screaming orders to the youths) he walked downstairs to tell the youths to be quiet (to not to disturb the neighbors), and when he reached the bottom of the stairs and turned a blind corner, he saw the barrel of a policeman’s pistol pointing directly at and in front of his face. The officer ordered Mr. Austin to turn around, and when he asked the officer (who was now standing inside of Mr. Austin’s home) what was going on, the officer pepper-sprayed him in his face, handcuffed him and took him to jail. The Ontario Police officers concocted the story that Mr. Austin lunged for the officer’s gun, and that’s why he pepper-sprayed him. Mr. Steering found that a recording of the immediate post pepper-spraying activities, had been altered to conceal the true contents of the discussion between Mr. Austin and the officers. Hon. Gerard S. Brown, Judge Presiding: Jury Verdict: Not Guilty (Mr. Steering also later obtained a $500,000.00 jury verdict in favor of Mr. Austin, against the arresting officers, as shown below.)
People of the State of California v. Milt Holland; Rancho-Cucamonga San Bernardino County Superior Court criminal action for resisting / obstructing / delaying peace officer. Mr. Holland leased the old CHP office building in Ontario, to work on prototype bus control computer system. Ontario Code Enforcement wanted to check the building to see if Mr. Holland also was residing in the same. The area was only zoned for commercial occupancy; not residential. Ontario Code Enforcement officers, along with Ontario Police Officers, approached the chained-closed padlocked rear entry entry gate of the premises, and saw Mr. Holland behind the gate; elevated; standing in a construction trailer. The officers ordered Mr. Holland to open the gate, and Mr. Holland simply walked away from the locked gate, and into the building. The officers used the “master key” (i.e. bolt cutters) to enter the yard, and arrested Mr. Holland and took him to jail for violation of Cal. Penal Code Section 148(a)(1); resisting / obstructing / delaying a peace officer in the performance of their duties; the catch-all crime that the police use when they don’t actually have any grounds to arrest a civilian, since Section 148(a)(1) is so nebulous and ambiguous, it could be, and many many times has been, construed as meaning just about anything, and is used to arrest people who “fail the attitude test”) Click on tab, above on “Criminal Attorney – Contempt of Cop Resistance Cases”, for a more developed analysis of police misuse of Section 148(a)(1.)
After Mr. Holland had gone through four criminal defense lawyers, who told him to plead guilty to misdemeanor delaying / obstructing an officer (Section 148(a)(1), for not opening the gate), Mr. Holland retained Mr. Steering, who look one look at the Ontario PD report and immediately knew that even on the face of the Police Report, that there was no crime committed by Mr. Holland. On the day set for trial, Mr. Steering asked Judge Dennis G. Cole to dismiss the case on the ground that if everything that the police were contending in their reports was true, it nonetheless is never a crime to refuse an officer’s demand to search a place, thing or person, in the absence of a search warrant. If reading Mr. Steering legal authorities to support that proposition of law (See v. City of Seattle, 387 U.S. 541 (1967) and Camara v. Municipal Court, 387 U.S. 523 (1967) (both holding that the state can’t criminalize a mere refusal to consent to warrantless entry), Judge Cole told the District Attorney’s Office that his “case was in the toilet”. Disposition. Case Dismissed pursuant to Mr. Steering’s invitation to the Court, to dismiss the case on its own motion, in the interest of justice (Cal. Penal Code § 1385.)
Mr. Steering has also litigated San Bernardino County police misconduct civil actions, such as:
Morgan v. County of San Bernardino, U.S. Dist. Court, Cent. Dist. of Cal. (Riverside), (1996), $714,000.00 jury verdict (including attorney’s fees) for excessive force and false arrest during search warrant execution in Apple Valley, California;
Austin v. County of San Bernardino, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, $500,000.00 jury verdict for false arrest and excessive force;
Lopez v. County of San Bernardino, U.S. Dist. Court Cent. Dist. of Cal. (Riverside) (2002), $50,000.00 settlement for racially motivated battery;
Miller v. City of San Bernardino, et al, U.S. Dist. Court Cent. Dist. of Cal. (Riverside) (2003), $35,000.00 settlement for unlawful detention;
Calderon v. County of San Bernardino, U.S. Dist. Court, Central Dist. of Cal. (Riverside)(2003), $115,000.00 settlement for false arrest and illegal search;
Arroyo v. City of San Bernardino, U.S. Dist. Court, Central Dist. of Cal. (Riverside)(2004), $125,000.00 settlement for unreasonable seizure of person;
Ford v. County of San Bernardino, (2007), $80,000.00 settlement for excessive force;
In re Jane Doe v. County of San Bernardino, et al., (2008), $290,000.00 settlement (prior to filing lawsuit) for sexually motivated mistreatment of arrestee; and
Aubry v. County of San Bernardino, et al, U.S. Dist. Court (LA) 2012, $325,000.00 settlement for the use of unreasonable force and for false arrest.
Deputy Sheriff Attempts To Frame Husband And Hide Romance Wife, By Hiding The Drugs Found On Her From The DA’s Office:
JANE and JOHN DOE v. County of San Bernardino, U.S. Dist. Court Cent. Dist. of Cal. [Riverside] (2000); $50,000.00.
In this case, Mr. Steering obtained $50,000.00 from the County of San Bernardino, for a criminal defendant’s claim against the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, for planting evidence of drug manufacturing, during the deputy’s unlawful search of a probationer’s residence; notwithstanding probation Bravo search terms. While in the process of planting evidence, the deputy sheriff actually discovered even better evidence of the very crime that the deputy sheriff was attempting to frame the defendant for. It’s like framing the guilty. That way, the police don’t need to bother with obtaining evidence against the persons who they believe are engaged in ongoing criminal enterprises (i.e. manufacturing or selling narcotics); they can just provide the evidence themselves, and save us all of the time and money incurred and expended, in investigating and obtaining competent and admissible evidence of criminal conduct that will stand-up in court.
When a San Bernardino County Probation Officer and Sheriff’s Department Investigator did a probation search of JOHN DOE’s residence (the “husband” was on felony drug possession probation), they saw all sorts of pornographic photos, exotic clothing and sex toys in the home, and became immediately infatuated with the beautiful occupant of the residence; JANE DOE; the cohabitant girlfriend. The Sheriff’s Department Investigator arrested JANE DOE for narcotics possession, and took her to jail; stopping on the way to jail to show-off his “catch.” Although her bail was $500,000.00, the Investigator got it reduced to release on her own recognizance (something unheard of in San Bernardino County), to attempt to date her.
The Investigator broke back into the DOE residence after arresting JANE DOE, as he had seen a VHS video at the home earlier marked: “XXXX.” When the Investigator then played that video at the DOE residence, he not only watched JOHN and JANE DOE having all sorts of sex, but also saw a recording of JOHN DOE cooking meth. However, there was no meth manufacturing chemicals or equipment at the house. So, in an effort to frame the guilty, the Investigator planted meth “cooking” equipment in the residence, and he and the Probation officer staked-out the house for several days, until JOHN DOE showed back-up at his home. When JOHN DOE entered the house, he was immediately arrested for meth manufacturing, based on the items planted by the Investigator, who wanted to put JOHN DOE in prison, to free-up JANE DOE for dating.
Mr. Steering was able to obtain $50,000.00 for the defendant from the County for the Investigator’s actions, and Mr. Steering was able to negotiate a 10 year sentence for JOHN DOE, rather than the 25 years to life sentence for a third strike drug manufacturing.
CRIMINAL LAW PRACTICE AND THE FIGHT FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
Jerry L. Steering has been practicing criminal law since 1984 (in California since 1986.) He has tried and litigated hundreds of criminal cases, including murder cases, manslaughter cases, assault and battery cases, drug possession and drug manufacturing cases, DUI / Vehicular homicide cases, white-collar investor fraud cases, sex-offender or drug addict registration cases, violations of court orders, domestic violence cases, towing industry cases, and the entire spectrum of various criminal violations. He also specializes in police misconduct litigation; both bogus criminal cases (i.e. resisting arrest and assault and battery on peace officer) and civil lawsuits against peace officers.
CRIMINAL LAW PRACTICE AND THE FIGHT FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE.
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 prevaile
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 high 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; Wear A Thick 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 mental 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”; “Sovereign Immunity” Trumps “Justice For All”
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 bizzare 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.
Unfortunately, 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.
WHY THE POLICE CRIMINALLY PROSECUTE THEIR VICTIMS
Unfortunately, because of institutional pressures (i.e. “ratting out fellow officer not a good career move), and the obvious political and practical consequences of not backing-up the their fellow officers, the norm in today’s police profession, is for peace officers to falsely arrest their “victims”, and to author false police reports to procure the bogus criminal prosecutions (i.e. to literally “frame” others) of those civilians whose Constitutional rights and basic human dignity have been violated; to justify what they did, and to act in conformity with that justification. The excessive force victims get criminally prosecuted, for crimes that they didn’t commit; usually for crimes such as “Resisting / obstructing / delaying a peace officer in the lawful performance of their duties (Cal. Penal § Code 148(a)(1)), assault on a peace officer (Cal. Penal Code § 240 / 241), “battery on a peace officer (Cal. Penal Code § 242 / 243(b) (which is almost always, in reality, battery by a peace officer; otherwise known as “Excessive Force” or “Unreasonable Force”), and resisting officer with actual or threat of violence (Cal. Penal Code § 69.) Section 69 is a “wobbler” under California law; a crime that the government can charge as either a misdemeanor or a felony. This charge is usually reserved for cases in which the police use substantial force on the innocent arrestee (the real “victim”), and need to falsely claim more violent / serious conduct by the “victim” to justify their outrages.
So, for example, the crime of “battery on a peace officer” (Cal. Penal Code § 242 / 243(b)), is almost always, in reality, “battery by a peace officer”; otherwise known as “Excessive Force”; an “unreasonable seizure” of a person under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution (See, Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989).)
If you are being falsely prosecuted we can help. We cannot guarantee the you will win, but we can gaurantee that we will use our three plus decades of experience to vindiicate you and you get you paid for having to endure police beatings, false arrests and malicious criminal prosecutions.
If you have been the victim of Excessive Force by a police officer, please check our Section, above, entitled: “What To Do If You Have Been Beaten-Up Or False Arrested By The Police“. Also, please click on “Home“, above, or the other pages shown, for the information or assistance that we can provide for you. If you need to speak with a lawyer about your particular legal situation, please call the Law Offices of Jerry L. Steering for a free telephone consultation.
Thank you, and best of luck, whatever your needs.
Law Offices of Jerry L. Steering
Jerry L. Steering, Esq.
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