Was it wise to act so soon?

Comments

Tom Garrett 1 year, 4 months ago

At 11:30 pm one evening a few weeks back, sheriff's deputies found two children ages 3 and 4 in a car in a well lighted area outside the front door of a restaurant and bar. It turned out that their parents were inside the building and the children had been in the car since the parents brought them outside 30 minutes earlier, at which time they went back in for something.

When the parents came out of the bar and were found to be intoxicated they were immediately arrested and charged with "felony child abuse and endangerment charges."

The question for you: Did the deputies act too soon?

Remember: The parents did not get in the car. They did not start the engine. They did not leave the car in the hot sun. The car was locked, parked in a well lighted area immediately outside a front door, and the kids were there only between the time the parents took them outside and went back in again for something, no more than 30 minutes, and perhaps even less.

I'm not crazy about people leaving kids in cars if they cannot see them from inside the building. And, of course, it should not be done in the hot sun. And I am no fan of parents driving kids around while they are drunk.

However, these parents might have been about to do something wrong, and on the other hand they might not have been. They were arrested on a presumption. They hadn't yet done anything wrong. And there is no proof that they were going to do it.

So, the question again: Did the deputies act too soon?

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Pat Randall 1 year, 4 months ago

Probably. The parents may have gone back in to call someone to come and get them IF they were intoxicated. How did the deputies know how long the kids had been in the car? How were they found to be intoxicated? Were blood tests done then? I don't drink alcohol of any kind but I cannot do thier test of walking, standing on one leg or touch my nose with my eyes closed. Am I intoxicated if I come out of a bar? Hell no. I had a lot of customers come into my bar in Punkin Center that never drank anything but coffee, ice tea or soda pop. It was a place to come and visit, catch up on the news.

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Bernice Winandy 1 year, 4 months ago

Perhaps one parent could have returned and the other could have stayed with the children. Are you sure the children were only there 30 minutes. When my kids were small I never left them in the car alone. I was a real bother to get 3 kids in and out of the car, but they always came with me -- sometimes hollering as loud as they could.

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Pat Randall 1 year, 4 months ago

Why were the deputies there at the time the parents came out ? Had someone called them? Or were they checking parking lots at bars just for kicks? I think there is quite a bit more to the story, which we will probably never hear.

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Tom Garrett 1 year, 4 months ago

"How did the deputies know how long the kids had been in the car?"

They didn't. They found out afterwards.

" How were they found to be intoxicated?"

The article didn't say. It may have been "obvious."

"Are you sure the children were only there 30 minutes."

The kids were there, "there" being in the car, for 30 minutes. Prior to that they were inside. Remember, this was a restaurant/bar.

The deputies were doing what police do (not all of them, of course), sitting outside a bar. Frankly if it were left to me there would be restrictions on that kind of thing, but then if it were left to me about three quarters of all laws would be wiped off the books.

"When my kids were small I never left them in the car alone."

I have. When Lolly and I used to drive across the country on our way from one duty station to another one (usually on our way overseas) there were a couple of times when it worked out well. One time in New Mexico we stopped at a little restaurant where there was a picture window looked straight at at our car parked parallel to the building. This was in the days before seat belts existed, and we had built up the back seat, creating a level, padded place for David (age 7 months) to play and/or sleep. He was asleep when we pulled up, so we went in, ate, and watched him the whole time. It was a reasonable parental choice. These days it would no doubt be illegal. Everything else is. Freedom mean having freedom of choice; we do not give that away when we form a government, and the government has no right to take it from us. Ultimately, we are responsible to our children for their safety--not to some dictatorial state.

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Tom Garrett 1 year, 4 months ago

By the way, on our drive from California to Connecticut in 1961 with our two kids, a time which was still before seat belts, we were coming home from Okinawa. I had bought a little Sony TV while overseas, one of the very first ones that would run on 12 volts. It had an antenna that mounted on the roof of the car and looked like something out of science fiction in those days. Each time we got close enough to some city where we thought there would be a TV station we'd turn it on so the kids could watch. You should have seen the heads turn as our car went by. It was hysterical. :-)

About the subject of this string, I have a question; three in fact.

Do you think anyone will actually file a charge against these people with no proof that they actually did anything wrong?

And if a file is charged do you think their lawyer (or they, themselves) will be silly enough to accept a plea bargain?

And if it ever goes to trial, since they didn't actually do anything wrong, do you think there is any chance that they will be convicted of anything?

I'm really curious how people (you) feel about the chances of such things happening, so please say something. This kind of thing is really getting worrisome.

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Pat Randall 1 year, 4 months ago

In this day and age I wouldn't leave my kids in the car even if I could see it as someone could grab them and be gone before I got outside. If the doors were locked with alarms so the kids couldn't open the doors without the alarm going off, the kids were safe. If the parents were not behind the wheel and were really intoxicated the deputies will find something to charge them with. Maybe they had only been eating and not drinking alcohol. What was the child abuse? Did they beat them when they put them in the car? Why were the deputies there in the first place? Did someone see the parents do something wrong and called them? I know I repeated some of the things from my other post but maybe you missed it.

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Ronald Hamric 1 year, 4 months ago

Okay, I'm going to really touch some nerves here with my "social mindset" observation. How can we as a society expect all parents to place any great value on the "safety and welfare" of their children, when we as a nation have legalized infanticide. If it's OK to murder the most innocent amoungst us, the unborn, and justify it by calling it "choice", then what message have we sent regarding the value of any human life? This whole cheapening of human life has manifested itself in a social, moral decline that really has no end. We went from there to state authorized legal "assisted suicide", children killing their peers in schools, etc. As I intoned in another thread, "actions have consequences". Often far, far more and broader consequences than applied to the initial issue itself.

Just my 2 cents. Your milage may vary.

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Tom Garrett 1 year, 4 months ago

"Maybe they had only been eating and not drinking alcohol. What was the child abuse? Did they beat them when they put them in the car? Why were the deputies there in the first place? Did someone see the parents do something wrong and called them?"

Those would be some of my questions.

Ron,

I've said the said thing about abortion, namely that no matter how we decide the issue it is ridiculous to say that it is anything other than the killing of a human being.

We kill human beings for other reasons; that makes the question one of where we draw the line. Sound bites do not count. I know where I would draw it, but I don't run this country and I just stay out of the argument. If it ever comes to a vote I'll vote on it. What chances are there of that?

The odd thing about all this (I am now referring to your comment on moral decline, not on abortion) is that we are caught between two extremes. On one hand we see NAMBLA and serial killers, and on the other side we see those who want to put people in jail for not putting kids in child restraints in cars or for spanking them.

I'm all for choice, if the choice is how to raise your kids, or whether you'd rather get high by smoking leaves off a bush instead drinking the filtered results of a pail full of fermented wheat, or how high you want to build a fence around your house, or how many rounds can fit in the magazine of your rifle, or....

Oh well....

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Ronald Hamric 1 year, 4 months ago

I don't see myself as particularly a "single issue" person. As a matter of fact I have very strong views on a number of issues, as those on this blog will attest. But, unlike you, I am perfectly comfortable with the reality of "We kill human beings for other reasons". I have no problem deciding who deserves to be killed and why, and differentiating them from some totally innocent being who hasn't even been given the chance to take their first breath, much less commit some crime against society. Heck, if I didn't feel strongly that at some time I will personally stand before a Holy and just God and answer for my sins, I would be society's worst nightmare. I could function perfectly well in a "Law of the jungle" world which we are rapidly decending into. The Marine Corps taught me the skills I would need to be successful in such an arena. It's cold, hard, brutal, and very impersonal. I have to work real hard to keep from sliding into that frame of mind. I often caution those of little or no faith that they really don't want me to "come over" to their way of thinking, for if I did, they would most likely be the first person I would come after without compunction or guilt. Such is "fallen man".

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Tom Garrett 1 year, 4 months ago

Ron, you misread me on this: "But, unlike you, I am perfectly comfortable with the reality of 'We kill human beings for other reasons'."

Society (not a word I particularly like) does what it has to do. I'm fine with that. All I was doing was pointing out that an unborn child is a human being, and when we kill that unborn child we kill a human being. Calling it anything else is nonsense.

The simple truth is we kill human beings for other reasons, and the only way to decide this issue is to decide whether or not we want to kill unborn children. No hype, no tripe, no sound bites, nothing. Just face the truth and make up your mind what you are going to do.

As to some of the other times we bump people off, I don't know any way to get around most of that. For one thing, how can you have a war without killing people? And a very string argument can be made that when someone DELIBERATELY kills another human being he has just cashed in his right to breath. I'm not a big fan of other sentences for deliberate murder. I just read, for crying out loud, that some clown who claims to have killed 70 women is still alive, and is now making trouble by claiming he did the killing for O. J. Simpson.

I never served in combat, but I was a believer when it came to using that weapon they put in my hands. Twice, I had almost all the trigger squeeze pulled off when things changed so I didn't have to shoot someone, and the only reason they got lucky is because they stopped what they were doing, not because I wasn't in the process of putting little 30 caliber holes in them. Both times I was on guard duty and had been issued a loaded weapon. My feelings? If you don't want me to defend this place, don't give me a rifle. I'll tell you about one of the two times. You probably need a good laugh.

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Tom Garrett 1 year, 4 months ago

One May Day up in Iceland, which most people don't now was a hotbed of Communism, I was guarding a building filled with--they told me a dozen times--five million bucks worth of radar equipment on an under-construction radar site 18 miles outside the base. I was all alone, but inside the building. Here came a mob of about 35 to 40 $#@! Icelandics, all of them armed with two by fours and four by fours, beating the hell out of the side of the huge corrugated steel building, It was night. I couldn't see them at first; I could just hear the pounding on the sides of the building and the yells.

I was in the little office of the building, where we stayed on guard duty because there was no way for anyone to harm the windowless, heavy-doored warehouse itself. Outside the window in the door showed up this drunken (I think), yelling mob. They began beating on the walls and door, obviously to scare me (worked pretty well, too). But then something happened that changed things a bit. The door was poorly installed, and even though it was locked as ordered, it popped open.

I already had my carbine loaded. Fifteen round clip. And I had a second clip belonging to one of the other two guards (they had driven into the base for C-rations). I pulled the operating slide back, chambered a round, slipped the safety off, and aimed at the heart of the bigger of the two guys standing there in the doorway yelling and waving a club.

Now comes the funny part. Icelandics come in two standard sizes, small and dark haired, and giant and blond haired (the tell me it's Danish v. Norwegian).

The small, dark haired, older guy kept pushing the young, blonder, BIG guy forward saying, "Hye de huurder cuummin grubhimble (or something)."

But the big blond guy had his eyes on my gun barrel and he was saying, "Hyder hoder ramle shamble whofuur."

I don't speak a word of Icelandic, but I translate that into:

"Come on, Erik! Go get that %$#@! puny little capitalist American!"

And....

"No way, Raknar! He got a gun."

So they went away.

Would I have fired? You bet! That's what I was there for.

I'd have been polite, though. Knowing I'd never in the world would have had time to slip in that second clip, I'd have asked them to please line up so I could shoot them through the neck, taking them two at time so my 15 rounds was enough for all to enjoy. Sharing is caring. :-)

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Ronald Hamric 1 year, 4 months ago

Tom, You mentioned on another thread about the torture being conducted at Gitmo. " What the hell does that say about this country when we have people who think that's okay? In all honesty, as long as Americans condone the murder of the most innocent of this world through abortion, Do Not come at me with any sort of moralistic tripe about a "reflection upon who we are". That answer was sealed with Roe v. Wade. No, two wrongs don't make a right! But if I had to determine the most agregious of the two, murdering the unborn trumps everything.

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robert young 1 year, 4 months ago

Tom, I read several versions of the story about this arrest and none that I read said that the car was locked. Also, while the report does not say as much, I think it is safe to assume that the officer interviewed the parents as well as witnesses. The reports that I read all say that they were intoxicated at twice the legal limit. Who knows what they said? And if they were that blasted, they probably didn't bother to ask for an attorney. If they admitted that they planned to drive, and especially if they got into the car with the keys, then they were properly arrested in my opinion. It is possible the officer observing this watched them get into the car before approaching. At any rate, that's why we have the right to a trial by jury. The bottom line, though, is that we don't have enough facts to know one way or the other. I'm sure it's all spelled out in the police report.

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Pat Randall 1 year, 4 months ago

Don't believe everything you read in a police report. I went to have one changed because it was wrong. Ended up with 3 different versions and none were right. Finally gave up as it was not going to court. I just wanted it right on the records.

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robert young 1 year, 4 months ago

Pat, I wouldn't say that I believe everything in a police report. I'm saying that the reasons for the arrest and the information from witnesses and the parents is likely to be contained in the report. It may or may not be accurate. A prosecutor has to decide whether there is reason to go forward, and a jury ultimately would decide if the police and prosecutor proved their case. None of us can judge whether the police "acted too soon" based on a few paragraphs in a news report. I'll give the cops the benefit of the doubt based on what little is available in that news report because I'd sure rather they erred on the safe side if 3- and 4-year-old kids were involved. If they were in the bar that long, at double the legal limit, had the keys and got into the car or were headed for it with two kids locked in there, then I think it is reasonable to believe they were getting it and driving. If they had called a cab or had asked someone else for a ride, the police could easily confirm that. If it looks like a fish, swims like a fish and, in this case evidently drinks like a fish, I'd say you've got yourself a fish.

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Pat Randall 1 year, 4 months ago

Robert, I believe they serve food there also. Some people go into bars in small towns just to visit and never have an alcohol drink. I served a lot of people coffee, ice tea and soda pop and they may have sat there for two hours talking. None of us posting were there so we will never know exactly what happened !

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Tom Garrett 1 year, 4 months ago

"The bottom line, though, is that we don't have enough facts to know one way or the other. I'm sure it's all spelled out in the police report."

That's right. We do not have all the facts, but we do have this statement made in the first news report I read, "The parents came out of the bar shortly after the deputy arrived on scene and were found to be highly intoxicated, officials said."

That, of course, implies that the parents were arrested without ever getting into their car.

When I read it I was at first doubtful that any police officer would make such an error, but I found, and read, three other news reports that stated the exact same sequence: Officer arrives, sees kids, makes inquiries, sees parents leaving building, stops them on their way to the car, questions them, and arrests them. Two of the other reports were even more clear than the first one; namely that the interview between the deputy and the parents occurred as soon as they exited the building.

The point of this string is that sole fact; that the deputy acted before any crime had been committed.

What should happen if the reported sequence is correct is that a judge should throw out the charges and the deputy should be given some on the job training. We could go into all kinds of other aspects, such as probably cause; just walking out of a place that serves liquor is not probably cause for a police interrogation. And then there is the question of the value of any statement made; if the parents were truly intoxicated and were not read their rights before they were interrogated then any statement they made was improperly obtained and is inadmissible.

But let's ignore all the side issues and focus on "intent." I am not a lawyer, nor am I trained in the law beyond having taken enough courses to teach a few law courses, but I can tell you that it is almost impossible to convict someone of "intent" unless he or she takes some overt action which clearly shows he or she was about to take some unlawful action. Just walking out into a parking lot is not proof of intent to drive a car (that's why they wait until you hop in and start the motor, and usually also wait until you drive away).

In a recent FBI case, for example, to ensure that someone would be convicted of the intent to bomb a building the agents had to go so far as to actually watch him build a phony bomb (phony because the explosive they had provided to him was not real) and actually see him press the button on the bomb. Without that press of a finger there was no clear cut roof of intent.

As I said, there are other questions about this case, but that's the only one I addressed was whether or not the deputy ruined his case by acting too soon. He didn't even wait long enough to charge the couple with having "control" of a vehicle under Arizona law. For that you have to be within the vehicle with the keys in your possession. Go read the statutes.

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robert young 1 year, 4 months ago

Pat, They may serve food but the reports say they were intoxicated at twice the legal limit. And the reports say that they put the kids in the car so that they could go back inside and continue drinking. You can pick nits, but it's pretty obvious what was going on. Were the cops supposed to let the parents get into the car, start it up and pull into the street - possibly in front of another car? If the charges end up being dropped, so be it. The kids didn't die that night.

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robert young 1 year, 4 months ago

By the way, they were charged with child abuse and endangerment, not DUI... Leaving 3 and 4 year old kids in a car at 11-11:30 p.m. while you're inside boozing sounds like abuse and endangerment to me. And, again, there is nothing that I see in any report about the car being locked.

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Tom Garrett 1 year, 4 months ago

"And the reports say that they put the kids in the car so that they could go back inside and continue drinking."

That's a clear cut case of a newspaper reporter making an unwarranted and unproven assumption, no doubt for the sake of hyping the news. It may very well be true, but a person intention is something which has to be proven. Otherwise, the next time you pick up a hammer someone can blow your brains out for threatening him and claim self-defense.

"Were the cops supposed to let the parents get into the car...."

Under the law, yes. Until someone is legally in control of a vehicle he or she cannot be charged with intent to drive it. It's called "actual physical custody." I don't make this stuff up, you know. My concern is that the officer acted too soon and blew his own case.

I suppose I'll have to make it plain that we are dealing with a genuine legal question, so I'll post the latest information from the Arizona Supreme Court on this exact subject, namely: when can a person in Arizona be charged with "actual physical custody" of a vehicle. It is taken from the AZSC ruling in State v. Zaragoza. You can look it up if you like.

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Tom Garrett 1 year, 4 months ago

Here's a summary of the ruling:

In Zaragoza, the Arizona Supreme Court also gave guidance on what it means for a person charged with a DUI to be in actual physical control of the vehicle. According to the Court, to be in actual physical control means that juries should consider the totality of the circumstances to determine "whether the defendant's current or imminent control of the vehicle presented a real danger to himself or herself or others at the time alleged." Thus, the Court changed the language from "potential use" to "current or imminent control" over the vehicle.

The Court also provided examples of some of the factors juries should consider when deciding if a defendant had actual physical control over a vehicle:

Was the vehicle running?

Was the ignition on?

Where were the car keys located?

Where and in what position was the driver found?

Was the driver awake or asleep?

Were the car's headlights on or off?

Was the vehicle stopped?

Did the driver voluntarily pull off the road?

What was the time of day?

What were the weather conditions?

Was the heat or air conditioner on?

Were the windows up or down?

Was there any explanation for the circumstances shown by the evidence?

Please note that every question the AZ Supreme Court says should be answered, would be answered in the negative in this case.

Procedure is procedure. All it would have taken was an additional minute or two to show conclusively that the parents intended to transport the children while intoxicated because they entered the vehicle and took out the keys. There's no doubt that endangering kids is improper and illegal; what is important in this case is that there is now no legal proof of that. People cannot be convicted on an assumption.

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robert young 1 year, 4 months ago

Well Tom, I guess we'll find out soon enough as a Maricopa County grand jury handed down felony indictments on both defendants Nov. 1. As I mentioned above, they were not charged with DUI. However, each was charged with two counts under the child or vulnerable adult abuse statute (13-3623), with recklessness and therefore a Class 5 Felony prior to the indictment. The mother has been charged three times in the past for DUI, and most recently entered a guilty plea on aggravated DUI and driving on a suspended or revoked license. A petition for revocation of her probation was filed not long after her arrest in Cave Creek. If I get a chance, I'll drop by the courthouse and request the records. I'm curious to read exactly what the police report says. Should the cops have waited for this idiot to take control of the car? I don't think so. And I'll bet you lunch they get a conviction or a guilty plea (again). By the way, I find that you and I almost always agree on things. It just takes us awhile to figure out why.

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Tom Garrett 1 year, 4 months ago

"By the way, I find that you and I almost always agree on things. It just takes us awhile to figure out why."

That's been known to happen. :-)

As I think I have said here, I have no doubt that the parents were about to do something that is just plain wrong--endangering the lives of two kids when it was absolutely not necessary. Just two drunks who didn't pay for a baby-sitter and leave the kids home, or who took the kids out to eat and decided to get drunk.

It didn't bother me one whit that they were grabbed. It DID bother me that the deputy may have thrown away the case. The trouble is, if they are to be charged with endangerment the state is going to have to prove that they actually placed the children in danger, and that's where the rubber meets the road.

Since they have been charged with a class 5 felony, under 13-3623, they must have been charged under Section B. which says, in part (the part that counts): "or who causes or permits a child or vulnerable adult to be placed in a situation where the person or health of the child or vulnerable adult is endangered is guilty of an offense as follows:"

"2. If done recklessly, the offense is a class 5 felony."

(No other part of 13-3623 calls for a class 5 felony."

Okay, so we follow this line of logic: Were the kids endangered by just sitting in the car? No. When would they be endangered? When the %$#@! parents drove home drunk. But if we can't charge them with DUI for having had "actual physical control" of the vehicle (and we can't because if we could, it would have been done), then no danger occurred. Just leaving the kids in the car on a cool night is too iffy.

A smart lawyer, few bucks, one look at the AZSC ruling in State v. Zaragoza, and case closed. Why? You and I "know" that the parents were about to drive drunk, but the law is not the same. The deputy had all the time in the world to make his case. If he had taken that time then he could have testified that the parents were drunk, in control of the car, and about to drive those kids home.

I'll bet that if Don Evans were to come on he'd agree that there's a way to make an arrest, and a way to blow an open and shut case.

What will happen if the case goes before a jury? God only knows. maybe they'll do the "two wrongs make a right" thing. They often do. Depends on how the judge charges them--if it ever gets to trial.

And that record worries me. It suggests that the parents may have money.

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Pat Randall 1 year, 4 months ago

I thought this happened in Pine at the Sidewinder. Am I totally nuts ? If it was there why is Maricopa County into it?

I have heard of people that were arrested for DUI and they were asleep in the back seat of the car with thier keys in thier pocket. They were considered in control of the car.

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robert young 1 year, 4 months ago

Pat, it happened in Cave Creek. Tom, the parents have no money. They're indigent. She was released from Perryville in March. They've be convicted and they'll go to jail.

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Tom Garrett 1 year, 4 months ago

Nuts, Robert. You spoiled my fun. :-)

I was going to do this:

"I thought this happened in Pine at the Sidewinder."

Nope, Cave Creek.

"Am I totally nuts?"

The fifth. :-)

Oh, well; I did it anyway.

"I have heard of people that were arrested for DUI and they were asleep in the back seat of the car with thier keys in thier pocket. They were considered in control of the car."

That's what AZSC changed in Zaragoza. The Court changed the language from "potential use" to "current or imminent control" over the vehicle. No longer can you be cited for DUI for sensibly getting into your car and going to sleep instead of driving home. After all, deciding not to drive while you're drunk is s good decision, not a bad one.

Here's a small quote from a recent summary of the case: "The Arizona Supreme Court also gave guidance on what it means for a person charged with a DUI to be in actual physical control of the vehicle. According to the Court, to be in actual physical control means that juries should consider the totality of the circumstances to determine 'whether the defendant's current or imminent control of the vehicle presented a real danger to himself or herself or others at the time alleged.'"

I think it was a very good decision.

Zaragoza was still convicted, by the way, but he was drunk, in the car, had the keys in the ignition, and his hand on the steering wheel, so he was in physical control of the car. He argued that he was just going to open a window, turn on the radio, and go to sleep. However, the fact that he had a revoked driver's license and a blood alcohol content of .357 at the time he was arrested made his testimony less than credible. Even so, it's a little iffy when you arrest someone who is has not actually started his engine, but it's one time when judgment comes into play. If I were drunk and I got in my car to sleep I wouldn't be opening windows or turning on the radio, would you? Who needs music to serenade him to sleep when he's plastered?

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robert young 11 months, 1 week ago

I checked in on this case just out of curiosity. Both defendants entered guilty pleas in exchange for having other charges dropped. The woman, Desiree David, entered a guilty plea to aggravated DUI/Suspended license. In exchange, two child endangerment charges were dropped. The male defendant, Alex Landry, pleaded guilty to contributing to the delinquency of a minor. I'm not sure how they arrived at that, but there it is in the records. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, the woman has a rather lengthy history of this stuff and had just gotten out of jail. She'll be sentenced in June, and I hope this time she stays in jail for a very long time. The cop made a good arrest and two bad people were convicted. As for the kids, man, I feel sorry for them.

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Tom Garrett 11 months ago

Thanks, Bob.

I appreciate closure on the case. Nice of you to post it.

Odd, you know. If you go back and read the way this string started you'll see there never was the slightest doubt in my mind that the rights of the people concerned would be ground under the heel of injustice. The once hallowed concept that it is "better that a thousand guilty men go free than one innocent man go to prison" faded into the sunset so long ago I am amazed I ever heard it.

The simple truth is that until those people got in the car and started that engine there was no crime committed. That's the law. It would be nice if we followed the law instead of trying to substitute what we think is right for what the laws say.

Please notice that although everyone said that no charge of DUI had been filed I said that it would be used as club, a threat, against the people involved. I knew it would. I can hear the words of my Uncle Farrell, a District Attorney echoing in my ears from the days of my youth. "Not in my office!" he would yell. "I don't care what you like or don't like! We don't run this county on what cops like or don't like." He would point up at the shelves lining his office, so he told us, and yell. "We run it on what the ordinances on those shelves say!" Uncle Farrell was a law-and-order kind of guy. I doubt he ever so much as spit on the sidewalk. But he was adamant about it. The law stood supreme, above everyone, including him.

Please notice that I have not said a single word about the people involved. What they are, who they are, where they come from, what they do for a living, what they may or may not have done in the past, and everything else, is immaterial. The only question I posed is: At the time of the arrest had the couple actually broken any state or federal law? If not, then the aresting officers acted prematurely and there is no case.

If they had been wealthy instead of poor they would have gotten off scott free, and rightly so. And if some agency, such as the ACLU, takes up the case it will be thrown out under Arizona law. That the guidelines set out by the AZ Supreme Court guidelines were violated is as clear as window glass.

This is--or at least is supposed to be--a nation of laws. The farther we stray from that concept the more of our freedoms pass into history.

The bottom line? When we begin accepting the idea that improper and illegal means justify a good end we might as well toss the Constitution down a well.

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Pat Randall 11 months ago

Plea bargaining is the worst thing to ever hit the law books if they are even in a law book somewhere. Either you did something wrong and should be punished for that or you didn't and should be let go. No pleading to something not remotely related.

I think a lot of the plea deals are done by public defenders not attorneys that can charge whatever they want. Public defenders are paid by us and are paid a flat fee.
Right? Or have I been misinformed?

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Tom Garrett 11 months ago

Pat,

As far as the details of who gets paid how much for what I think you are correct.

As far as plea bargaining is concerned I have a lot of problems with the handling of criminal cases. There are several things that do not ring true as far as safeguarding the rights of citizens is concerned.

First of all, filing several charges against a suspect is a way of using threats--often empty threats--of prosecution for a higher offense to get people to plead guilty to a lesser offense. If those threats are empty ones--threats of charges that cannot be brought against the individual, or could not be proven in court--then the suspect is being cheated by a system in which people who know more about the law are making a fool out of him.

Secondly, filing an entire series of charges against someone, and presenting that whole series to a jury which is not able to decide guilt on the major charge (something the prosecution often knows is true) is just another way of punishing someone outside the intent of the law. One charge is all that should be filed, just one. All that the lesser offenses should be used for is for sentencing purposes. If the accused is found guilty of murder and was also involved in robbery or extortion, or something else which is automatically proven by the major charge, then his sentence should be lengthened according. But allowed some bongo brained jury to say, "Well, he must be guilty of something, so let's find him guilty of manslaughter if we can't find him guilt of murder," is an abrogation of rights.

The law is the law. If we as citizens are asked to respect the law, why then aren't prosecutors required to do the same?

I look upon this the same way John Donne looked upon death. Remember that?

"No man is an island, entire of itself ... Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

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Pat Randall 11 months ago

Judges are far from perfect too. I have read about cases where there is a jury that says one thing and the judge over rules it. Why have a jury? I thought every one had a right to a jury but no so. Went thru that last year.

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Tom Garrett 11 months ago

"I have read about cases where there is a jury that says one thing and the judge over rules it."

I'm not sure I've ever seen that in a criminal case. Maybe it was a civil case where the judge changed the amount of an award.

If it were a criminal case I would agree with you 100%. Why have a jury?

Here's the way it is as far as I know.

In the United States, every person accused of a crime under federal law which is punishable by incarceration for more than six months has a constitutional right to a trial by jury. That comes under Article Three of the Constitution. The right was expanded by the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, and th right to trial by jury was made applicable to the states through the 14th Amendment.

Most state constitutions also grant the right of trial by jury in lesser criminal matters, though most deny the right in offenses punishable only by a fine.

Article 2, Section 23, of the Arizona Constitution says, "The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate."

For a short time, beginning in 2011 the right to trial for a first time DUI was eliminated under Arizona law, but on April 9, 2012 that right was restored.

As far as I know, that's the way it is.

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