On Thursday, October 16, 2014, Leonard Stamm received from the Maryland Bar Foundation, the prestigious Legal Excellence Award for Advancement of Professional Competence. He was nominated by Pilar Nichols. Other award recipients were: Steven P. Lemmey Legal Excellence Award for the Advancement of Public Service Responsibility to Steven P. Lemmey (posthumously, accepted by Ms. Lemmey), nominated by Judge Glenn Harrell; Legal Excellence Award for the Advancement of Public Understanding of the Law to The Honorable Pamila J. Brown, nominated by Judge Barbara Kerr Howe and Rick Miller; Legal Excellence Award for the Advancement of Unpopular Causes, to Professor Michael Millemann, nominated by Judge Dennis Sweeney; and, Legal Excellence Award for the Advancement of the Rights of the Disadvantaged, to the Homeless Persons Representation Project (accepted by Antonia Fasanelli), nominated by Natalie McSherry.
The National College for DUI Defense is holding its summer session at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Massachusetts with seminars and breakouts at the Harvard Law School. The session features lectures on: Crafting Your Opening Statement by Denis M. DeVlaming; Handling Injury & Death Cases: Things You Need to Do by Edward L. Fiandach; Out-of-State Licenses: Avoiding Disaster by Jennifer G. Ammons; Impeaching the Breath Test: A Low Budget Approach by Michael M. Hawkins assisted by Anthony D. Palacios; Jury Psychology: Finding Their "Not Guilty" Button by Patrick T. Barone; SFSTs: New Manual-New Opportunities by James Nesci; New Manual-Cross-Examination Demo by Joseph P. St. Louis assisted by Anthony D. Palacios; Cross of Their Extrapolation Expert by Ronald L. Moore; The "Just Say No Case": Refusals at Every Stage of The Arrest by Donald J. Ramsell; Cross of the Blood Test Technician: A Low Budget Approach by Andrew Mishlove; DUI Defense: Ethics & Excellence by C. Andrew Carroll DUI Complications: Getting Into Canada by Marisa Feil, a Keynote Address Roger J. Dodd, and Dean's Address by Stephen Jones.
JHS: Drivers stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence in Tennessee are sometimes forced to submit to a blood test. The State allows officers to demand a driver give blood if they refused to take a breathalyzer test. Tennessee is not the only place where this is being done. Wyoming and some parts of Atlanta have similar laws on the books. And Georgia is considering allowing it statewide. It's a controversial practice that critics say is a violation of a person's right to privacy. Joining us to discuss the legal implications is Leonard Stamm, a criminal defense attorney, and executive committee member with the National College for DUI Defense. He's in Washington, D.C. this morning. Mr. Stamm, how can law enforcement pull people over suspected of DUI and demand a blood sample. Is that not a violation of a person's Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures?
LRS: Well last year the Supreme Court decided the case of Missouri versus McNeely, and the Supreme Court held that before police can take blood from somebody that unless there's some kind of emergency that impedes their ability to get a warrant they have to call a judge and get a warrant before they can stick a needle into and pierce somebody's skin to get a blood sample.
JHS: Well in Tennessee, if a driver refuses a breathalyzer or a blood test, police officers can get a judge to issue the warrant and force the person to comply. Can a suspect be physically restrained and forced to give blood?
LRS: Well yes they can but it has to be done in a medically appropriate manner. So I think that if the police officer is holding somebody down on the side of the road and poking them with a needle, or has been documented in other news stories, on the floor of the jail or put in a chair and have a hood put over their head, I don't think courts will approve those kinds of procedures. But if it's done in a medically appropriate manner - what the Constitution requires, what the Fourth Amendment requires is that before police do it they just can't poke somebody without getting a judge to approve it first so if a judge approves it, then the second question is, the first question is: is there probable cause for the search. If the judge approves it, there's going to be a requirement that they perform the test in a medically appropriate manner.
The Court of Appeals announced its decision today in Deering v. MVA. When a driver is arrested for DUI and asked to take a breath or blood test in Maryland, and the driver's reasonable request to consult with a lawyer before deciding is denied, the driver may not argue at the driver license suspension hearing that the denial of counsel requires not suspending the driver's license.
The Court noted that the cases relied upon by the Court of Appeals in its 1984 decision, Sites v. State, which recognized the right to consult with counsel under the federal Constitution's 14th Amendment's due process clause, have mainly lost their authority. However, Sites also rested on the state due process clause. The Court said:
Although Sites rested its holding on both the Fourteenth Amendment of the federal Constitution and Article 24 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights, its analysis focused almost entirely on cases construing the federal Constitution. Given the scarce support for that analysis of the due process clause of the federal Constitution, the Sites Court's rationale rests on a precarious footing. Of course, because the Sites decision was also based on Article 24, it is conceivable that this Court could hold that the State constitution confers such a right, even if the federal Constitution does not. Cf. DeWolfe v. Richmond, 434 Md. 444, 76 A.3d 1019 (2013) (holding that an indigent defendant in a criminal prosecution is entitled, under Article 24 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights, to State-furnished counsel at an initial bail hearing before a District Court commissioner without deciding whether that right also emanates from the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment). In any event, we need not decide the continuing vitality of Sites to decide this case. Even if Sites remains good law under a State constitutional theory, the ultimate question before us is whether the violation of any such right affects the imposition of an administrative sanction under TR §16-205.1.
Just last term the United StatesSupreme Court held in McNeely v. Missouri, that a warrant is presumptively required before obtaining a blood sample from a drunk driving supsect. However this week, in Navarette v. California, the United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, held that a police officer does not have to confirm an anonymous tip of reckless driving before stopping a vehicle.
A woman who actually identified herself on a 911 call, but was not identified in court, said she had been run off the road by a truck, and provided a description and tag number. An officer located the truck and followed it without observing any other traffic violations. A five member majority found that even though no other violations were observed by the police officer, the officer had articulable reasonable suspicion of drunk driving under the totality of the circumstances. The Court suggested that if the information provided by the caller had been less specific or the offense alleged less serious, that the information would have been insufficient to justify the stop.
In Missouri v. McNeely, the Supreme Court held: "In those drunk-driving investigations where police officers can reasonably obtain a warrant before a blood sample can be drawn without significantly undermining the efficacy of the search, the Fourth Amendment mandates that they do so." At first blush, it appeared the main impact of the decision would be in the few jurisdictions where warrantless blood tests were the norm before April 17, 2013, the date McNeely was decided. But upon further reflection, it appears that McNeely requires the suppression of all warrantless breath tests.
Warrantless searches are presumptively unreasonable. Where there is a warrantless search, the government has the burden of proving the legality of the search, that it was conducted pursuant to a recognized exception to the warrant requirement, such as exigent circumstances, consent, and search incident to an arrest. However, none of those exceptions to the warrant requirement help the State when it comes to breath tests.
The case of Skinner v. Railway Executives Ass'n made it clear that a breath test is a search. McNeely held that exigent circumstances did not exist in every DUI case to allow police to dispense with obtaining a warrant to obtain blood. If it takes a comparable amount of time to obtain a breath test as it does to obtain a blood test, then exigent circumstances cannot be claimed to justify not getting a warrant for a breath test.
Another argument the State could make is that under Maryland's implied consent law the defendant consented to take a test. However, the decision to submit is only after the defendant is warned that a lengthy license suspension may be imposed if he or she refuses and is also told that a refusal may carry more jail time. These implied consent statutes contain a coercive character that would likely invalidate the voluntary consent required by the Fourth Amendment. A number of states have agreed with that analysis.
The final argument the State could make is that the search was conducted incident to an arrest. However, the Supreme Court limited the applicability of search incident to arrest in Arizona v. Gant. A search incident to arrest is for officer safety and may not be conducted after arrest. The breath test in DUI cases is conducted at the police station long after the arrest. So this exception is unlikely to help the State either.
Monday, March 17 is St. Patrick's Day and the police will be ready so beware. A Prince George's County Police press release stated:
PGPD to Conduct St. Patrick's Day Sobriety Checkpoint.
Last year, nearly 550 drivers were arrested for DUI across Maryland on the St. Patrick's Day weekend. We're committed every day to protecting our citizens against those who choose to drink and drive but especially on what has proven to be a dangerous holiday on the roads.
The Special Operations Division will conduct a sobriety checkpoint next Monday, March 17, 2014, from 6:00 pm to 12:00 am. The Maryland State Police will join our officers in stopping drivers in the 7900 block of Annapolis Road in Lanham.
The PGPD wants to ensure revelers rely on more than luck to make it home safely on St. Patrick's Day. If you're planning an evening of celebration, please plan ahead. Choose a designated driver, commit to calling a cab or try SoberRide. The program will run on St. Patrick's Day from 4:00 pm - 4:00 am. It offers free cab rides. The number is 1-800-200-TAXI.
For more information, contact the Prince George's County Police Department's Media Relations Division at (301) 772-4710.
In Maryland courts, hundreds of DUI (driving under the influence) and DWI (driving while impaired) cases are heard every day. The vast majority of cases are resolved by the defendant pleading guilty on the terms offered by the prosecutor whether the defendant has a lawyer or not. However, in state court, judges are prohibited from punishing a defendant who elects to plead not guilty. It is unusual in Maryland for a prosecutor to offer a defendant a result that is better than what would happen anyway if the case went to trial and the defendant lost. So why not roll the dice? The defendant has nothing to lose.
An example of this occurred yesterday in a District Court trial of mine. My client had a number of prior offenses, and although the most recent was over 20 years ago, he did have some exposure to jail. With some judges he was facing a lot of jail time. His breath test was very high. The prosecutor offered him a plea to driving under the influence of alcohol and she would recommend that he be sent to jail. This was the same thing he would get after a trial if we lost, which I fully expected! However, trials sometimes yield surprises.
The officer testified that he received a call for an accident and proceeded to the location. When he arrived he spotted a Dodge truck that looked like the description he received and pulled his car in front of it so it could not leave the parking lot it was in. The officer could not remember whether the truck was in motion or stopped. I objected because the State had never informed us what the original description was. Under Maryland discovery rules, the State is required to provide all information relevant to any searches and seizures. I was moving to suppress all the evidence seized as the result of an illegal stop. The judge took a break to consider the objection.
When the judge came back, he granted my motion, but not for the reason I argued. He said that he was granting the motion beoause the officer did not indicate who was at fault in the accident and that he had not testified that he had been told that the defendant was uncooperative and had failed to exchange information. So he had no evidence that the officer was in possession of any information indicating the defendant had committed any crime during the accident or after it, and granted the motion to suppress, followed by a motion for a judgment of acquittal. Not guilty.
Oral argument in Navarette v. California - or - can police stop a car for a crime that can't be prosecuted?
The U.S. Supreme Court held oral argument yesterday in the case of Navarette v. California. This case presents the important issue of when police can stop a car based on an anonymous tip without corroborating the details provided by the caller. An anonymous caller informed police that Navarette's vehicle was driving recklessly and almost ran them off the road. The caller provided a description of the vehicle. Police spotted the vehicle 19 miles down the road and followed for another 5 miles without seeing any bad driving. Ultimately, the vehicle was stopped and police found marijuana. Under the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule, if the stop was illegal, the marijuana must be suppressed. That means the trial court couldn't consider it and Navarette would get off.
During the argument the justices peppered the lawyers with hypotheticals designed to flesh about where and what lines the Court should draw. What if it was a report of a bomb? An atom bomb? A gun? The Court had held in a gun case, Florida v. J.L., an anonymous report of a juvenile in a plaid shirt carrying a gun was insufficient.
The general rule is that police may stop a person if they have an articulable reasonable suspicion to believe the person was, is, or is about to commit a crime. But a very important factor may have been overlooked by the justices and the lawyer arguing the case.
MR. KLEVEN: Right. If they can't see any erratic driving still going on, then where is it going to go? They're not going to prosecute for the recklessdriving that allegedly took place 19 miles away and they have followed that car for an additional - JUSTICE SCALIA: They could if the guy admitted it, you know. MR. KLEVEN: Other than that, Your Honor - JUSTICE SCALIA: They could play Mutt and Jeff with him and he -- oh, yeah, I did, yes.
The fallacy here is that if the caller is anonymous, even if the defendant admits the conduct, he cannot be prosecuted for it. The corpus delicti rule in criminal law requires that there must be corroboration of the corpus delicti to prosecute a defendant. "Corpus delicti" is a Latin phrase that very loosely translated means the body of the crime. A person cannot be convicted of a crime based solely on a statement admitting guilt. There must be some independent evidence that in fact a crime was committed. In the case of an anonymous report of a past crime such as a minor traffic violation, without any witness to come forward and testify under oath that he observed the defendant commit a crime, the defendant can't be prosecuted for it.
So why allow the stop?
This past Thursday the Maryland Court of Appeals held oral argument in Motor Vehicle Administration v. Deering. John K. Phoebus of Salisbury, Maryland argued on behalf of Ms. Deering that Deering's license should not have been suspended when the police officer would not let her call her lawyer before deciding whether to take or refuse a breath test. She elected to submit to the breath test and failed. The rule of Sites v. State, decided in 1984, is that when a person arrested for DUI asks to call a lawyer, they must be allowed an opportunity to do so that does not interfere with the State's ability to obtain a breath test. The rule was clearly violated in Deering's case, but the MVA argued that the violation cannot be raised as a defense at the administrative hearing, only in court.
An amicus brief filed by Leonard R. Stamm on behalf of the National College of DUI Defense (NCDD) and the Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys' Association (MCDAA) came up during oral argument. Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera noted that one of the claims in the brief was that if the Court ruled in the MVA's favor it would be changing the status quo. The brief stated that the Sites defense has been allowed at MVA hearings for 30 years. The brief also stated that it was only relatively recently that a growing number of judges have started to disallow the defense, as a result of the Court's decision in Najafi v. Motor Vehicle Administration. Najafi had stated in dicta (meaning a statement by the Court that is not necessary to resolve the case and therefore not binding on lower tribunals) that the denial of counsel defense could not be raised at the MVA license suspension hearing. However, Chief Judge Barbera noted that there was no data cited to support this statement and wanted to know from counsel whether they agreed with it. Counsel for the MVA, Leight Collins, did not dispute the statement and acknowledged that there is no data base from which data could be culled to support or opposed the statement. Rather, there are paper records of the hearings. So there is no data that could have been provided.
The amicus brief was also quoted in the Daily Record.
"The manner in which the officer reads the form can...detract from its ability to be understood," attorney Leonard R. Stamm wrote in the friend-of-the-court brief. "Additionally, most suspects have no legal training or understanding to assist them in making an intelligent decision, that usually occurs late at night, when they are tired, afraid, upset and traumatized." Stamm is with Goldstein & Stamm P.A. in Greenbelt.
A number of judges asked whether officers were required to advise suspects of their right to call a lawyer. The Court had rejected a similar claim years earlier in McAvoy v. State.
When a person gets convicted of a drunk driving (DUI or DWI) charge in a state other than Maryland, that state usually sends a notice of the conviction to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). The MVA is then authorized to take action against the person's driver's license under a number of provisions.
Artilce IV of the Driver License Compact, allows Maryland to take action against the person's driver's license as follows:
Effect of ConvictionMd. Code Ann., Transp. § 16-703.
(a) The licensing authority in the home state, for the purposes of suspension, revocation or limitation of the license to operate a motor vehicle, shall give the same effect to the conduct reported, pursuant to Article III of this Compact, as it would if such conduct had occurred in the home state, in the case of convictions for:
(1) Manslaughter or negligent homicide resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle;
(2) Driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a narcotic drug, or under the influence of any other drug to a degree which renders the driver incapable of safely driving a motor vehicle;
(3) Any felony in the commission of which a motor vehicle is used;
(4) Failure to stop and render aid in the event of a motor vehicle accident resulting in the death or personal injury of another.
(b) As to any other convictions, reported pursuant to Article III, the licensing authority in the home state shall record the conviction on the individual's driving record, but may not assess points for the conviction.
If a person receives 12 points within a two year period, and DUI carries 12 points, the MVA may revoke the person's driver's license. In addition, the driver may have his or her license revoked or suspended under Md. Code Ann., Transp. § 16-206(a)(1)(v) which provides that a driver may be revoked or suspended if the person "[h]as committed an offense in another state that, if committed in this State, would be grounds for suspension or revocation."
The Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) who decide these cases have an enormous amount of discretion in deciding what sanction to impose. The ALJ can impose a sanction ranging from revocation to a reprimand (warning) and everything in between. This can include a restricted license for a month or two allowing only driving related to work, education, alcohol education, and medical purposes for the driver and family members. The ALJ may also impose a restriction requiring the driver to enroll in and successfully complete the Maryland Ignition Interlock System Program. Typically the driver presents mitigation evidence in the form of certificates of completion from alcohol education and treatment classes, and letters from an employer verifying a need for work related driving.
The National College for DUI Defense (NCDD) and the Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys' Association (MCDAA) filed an amicus brief late last month authored by attorney Leonard R. Stamm in Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) v. Deering.
Deering was arrested for DUI and requested to take a breath test. Before submitting she asked to call her lawyer. However, the police department had a policy of not allowing arrestees to call their lawyers before submitting to a breath test. The policy directly contradicts the Court of Appeals' holding in Sites v. State that a person accused of drunk driving has a right to contact a lawyer so long as the phone call does not interfere with the State's ability to conduct the test. Deering submitted to the test and blew a 0.16 At her license suspension hearing for a test of 0.15 or greater her attorney asked the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to take "no action" due to the failure to allow her to call her lawyer. The ALJ denied the motion, but was reversed by the circuit court on appeal. The MVA asked the Court of Appeals to hear the case and they agreed to.
The issue in the case is whether denial of counsel can be raised as a defense at an administrative license suspension hearing. The amicus brief raises 6 points.
1. The considerations governing the choice of submitting to or refusing an alcohol test are much more complex now than when Sites was decided in 1984, the consequences of a wrong choice more severe, and the need for counsel greater.
2. The due process right to contact counsel was recognized by this court in Sites primarily due to a potential loss of the ability to earn a livelihood, and the MVA hearing is the only forum where loss of employment or inability to obtain employment can meaningfully be addressed
3. Addressing due process concerns, the legislature amended § 16-205.1(f) to include a requirement that the officer "fully advise" the driver of the administrative sanctions for failing and for refusing the test
Annie Dookhan, a former forensic chemist at a state forensic laboratory in Massachusetts, pleaded guilty to 27 counts of falsifying test results, misleading investigators, and tampering with evidence. She was sentenced this week to 3-5 years in prison. followed by 2 years of probation. In the course of her career she filed reports in approximately 40,000 criminal cases, which are now under review.
This is an extreme case, but it highlights the need for defense lawyers to carefully scrutinize state police laboratory results and methods to uncover mistakes resulting from incompetence, negligence, and fraud in criminal cases. Newpaper stories are replete with cases of laboratory mistakes that have resulted in erroneous convictions.
The amicus brief filed by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the National College for DUI defense in Bullcoming v. New Mexico, co-written by Leonard R. Stamm said:
"Forensic evidence is not uniquely immune from the risk of manipulation." Melendez-Diaz, 129 S. Ct. at 2536. The recent report by the National Research Council of the National Academies, Strengthening Forensic Sciences in the United States: a Path Forward (2009) (NAS Report), confirmed what defense lawyers have long known: because forensic analysis is a product of human discretion, it is vulnerable to incompetence, error and sometimes even fraud. See also Solomon Moore, Science Found Wanting in Nation's Crime Labs, N.Y. Times, Feb. 5, 2009, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/05/us/05forensics.html (last visited Dec. 1, 2010). As the NAS Report revealed, forensic analyses "are often handled by poorly trained technicians who then exaggerate the accuracy of their methods in court." Id. The NAS Report verifies that forensic science is anything but infallible, and is instead fraught by very human errors leading to problems such as sample contamination and inaccurate reports. Id.
The United States District Court for the Southern Division of Maryland in Greenbelt issued its first ruling Friday granting a defense motion to suppress a warrantless blood test as a result of the Supreme Court decision in Missouri v. McNeely. Magistrate Judge Thomas M. DiGirolamo issued a 19 page written opinion holding that McNeely applied to cases pending at the time of its issuance, that the Government did not demostrate sufficient exigent circumstances to justify dispensing with a warrant, and that the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule did apply in the case of United States v. Brown, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 147352 (D. Md. October 11, 2013).
The opinion stated:
The government asserts that this case falls within the exigent circumstances exception. Specifically, it points to the 30 minute delay in the taking of the defendant's blood due to the defendant's failure to cooperate with the breath test at the station. The Court does not find that said delay combined with the natural dissipation of blood-alcohol brings this case within the exigent circumstances exception. This is simply not a case where the exigencies of the situation were so compelling to excuse the need for a warrant. Officer Weisbaum described this incident as a "routine" DWI stop. While this alone does not mean a warrant is required, it is a "special fact" to be considered. See McNeely, 133 S.Ct. at 1568. Additionally, unlike Schmerber, time did not have to be taken to investigate an accident or attend to the suspect's personal injuries. There was nothing about the defendant's physical or mental condition, or behavior, which required the expenditure of time in addition to what would normally be expended in a routine DWI stop. Officer Weisbaum testified that it is common for defendants to at first agree to cooperate with the breath test and then not blow sufficiently, resulting in a failed test. The Court does not find that the totality of the circumstances present in this case constitute such an emergency to excuse the officer from obtaining a warrant prior to the taking of the defendant's blood. Given that the defendant did not consent to the blood test, the Court finds the taking of his blood was in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
There remain pending in Greenbelt a number of unresolved motions to suppress due to the policy of the U.S. Park Police to obtain blood samples in DUI cases without first seeking a warrant prior to the Supreme Court's decision in Missouri v. McNeely, on April 17, 2013. The U.S. Park Police was one of a very small number of jurisdictions in the United States that followed the practice of getting blood samples from DUI suspects without first getting a warrant. The vast majority of states that obtained blood samples were already seeking and getting judicially issued warrants before drawing blood in DUI cases.
Electronic signs all over Maryland are telling drivers about the new laws that kicked in today. What exactly is going on? Two offenses that were previously denominated as secondary actions have been changed to primary actions.
As the 90 day legislative report states:
Senate Bill 339/House Bill 753 (both passed) authorize primary enforcement of the prohibitions against the use of (1) a wireless communication device by a minor operating a motor vehicle; (2) a handheld telephone by an adult driver while operating a motor vehicle with a provisional license or learner's permit; (3) a handheld telephone by an operator of a school vehicle that is carrying passengers and in motion; and (4) the fully licensed driver's hands to use a handheld telephone, while the vehicle is in motion, except as specified. The bills repeal the provisions of law that limited enforcement to a secondary action when a driver is detained for another violation.
What this means is that previously a police officer could not stop a vehicle if he or she observed the listed violations. A person could only be charged under one of these provisions if the person was first stopped for a different violation. This law now allows officers to stop a vehicle based on observation of one of these violations alone.