COVID-19 Update: How We Are Serving and Protecting Our Clients

I am relieved.  I think that’s the right word.  Make no mistake a fascist minority attempted to take over our country.  Should I list the most outrageous things that were either said by Trump or Maga Republicans, overtly proposed or covertly suggested, and not condemned, that were rejected in the most recent election:

  • No – Obama was not born in Kenya
  • The Muslim ban was beyond offensive to American values

I lost another client three weeks ago. Not even 60 years old.  Perhaps I should have anticipated this.  The signs were there.  He had two accidents within a few years and very high BACs.  I mean VERY high.  But I believed him when he told me he had been in rehab for 28 days and sober for over a year.  When I saw him in court this spring he seemed sober.  I never noticed any indication if he was still drinking.  Yet when he went to jail for a week his ex-wife called me to say she had  been receiving bizarre texts from him in the jail.  But when I called the jail they said he had been released.  He apparently ended up in the hospital.  Did he end up in the hospital because he went into withdrawal in the jail?  He denied that when I last saw him in July. He minimized what I had heard from his ex-wife and convinced me everything was fine.  It wasn’t.  I think he just wanted the government to leave him alone.  Three weeks ago I found out he died in a fall.

While the vast majority of DUIs do not involve people as sick as my client apparently was, I recommend an appropriate level of education/treatment for all my clients.  If you can’t stop drinking – get help.

Today, August 2, 2022, I read an op ed in the Washington Post by an Indian woman, Aaditi Lele, who recently became a US citizen who is a student at Vanderbilt University.  It is worth sharing.

Less than two months ago, I took the oath of naturalization to become the first American citizen in my family. I watched as new Americans from dozens of countries stood together, speaking in unison of our commitment to “support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States.” But in the wake of multiple decisions by a Supreme Court that seems intent on rolling back Americans’ liberties, I’m left wondering what warped interpretation of the Constitution I’ve committed to defend.

From the day my family moved from Pune, India, to the United States a decade ago, when I was 8 years old, I’ve been bombarded with glorified images and slogans about the American Dream — “Land of the Free!” — and encouraged to embrace this nation’s ideals. I came to believe this messaging. The idea that pursuing citizenship would help me secure my rights was not lost on me, so I did exactly that.

Here are a few thoughts on our future after Dobbs.
1. I have always viewed Roe v. Wade as a compromise – an attempt to settle the dispute between those who favor and oppose choice. It was the middle position, giving preference to choice during the first trimester, and against choice in the third trimester, and balancing the interests during the second trimester. This was later adjusted to viability in Casey and requiring laws not to impose an “undue burden” on choice before that point. Dobbs says a prohibition of abortion survives because there is a rational basis for the legislature to believe the ban supports legitimate state interests. Here are some options for restoring the Roe/Casey compromise.
2. Pass the Equal Rights Amendment. This would allow an end run around Dobbs, recognizing women’s rights, and require the use of the much tougher strict scrutiny test. To pass strict scrutiny, the legislature must have passed the law to further a “compelling governmental interest,” and must have narrowly tailored the law to achieve that interest.

On March 21, 2022, the Director of the Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division notified the State’s Attorney co-ordinator for Maryland that the MSP lab would cease doing blood alcohol testing because the accrediting agency determined their testing procedure violated scientific requirements for blood alcohol testing.  Read the letter here.  MSAA BAC Letter_031522

On April 13, 2022, Clarke Ahlers and Serge Antonin released their podcast, the Black and White and thin Blue Lines, https://lnns.co/bZlMhf7g6KX , with special guests Lenny and Michael Stamm where we discuss the MSP lab fiasco, and wonder why it took almost 6 months to tell anyone about it.

If you have a DUI charge and a blood alcohol test, call 301-345-0122 for a free consultation.

Earlier this week, the Maryland Court of Appeals agreed to hear the case of Dejarnette v. State.  In Dejarnette, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals held that a violation of the requirement that officers observe a defendant for 20 minutes before a breath test would only go to the weight to be given to the violation, as opposed to its exclusion.  Dejarnette, represented by the Public Defender’s office, filed a petition for a writ of certiorari, asking the Court of Appeals to take the case.  Dejarnette was joined by the National College for DUI Defense and the Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys’ Association, who filed an amicus brief in support of the petition, written by Leonard R. Stamm and others.

Dejarnette will be arguing that a violation of the 20 minutes observational requirement should result in the exclusion of the breath test from evidence, as the 20 minute requirement is an essential component of an accurate and reliable breath test.

While representing people accused of driving offenses, it is come to our attention that occasionally the records the police rely on while apprehending suspects contain some pretty serious errors that can result in prejudice to the driver.  Here are a few examples.

One of our clients was recently charged with driving on a suspended license. A review of the driving record showed that his license had been suspended for 270 days, but for some unknown reason the suspension remained on his record for more than 270 days.  The MVA should have noted the withdrawal of the suspension on the driving record. However it did not, and when the driver was stopped on the 274th day, the officer charged him, among other charges, with driving while suspended.  This can be a pretty serious charge, if the defendant has previously been found guilty of this offense.  It also creates potential immigration issues.  Upon calling the MVA, they corrected the record, and it can now be proven using a certified copy of that record that he is not guilty of driving while license suspended.

Another client moved to Florida and obtained a Florida driver’s license.  He turned in his Maryland driver’s license.  But the MVA did not record this.  When visiting Maryland, he received a charge of driving in violation of a license restriction because all Marylanders under 21 have an alcohol restriction on their driver’s license.  As a result his license was suspended for one year.  However, as a Florida licensee, he should not have been suspended or charged.  After contacting the MVA, they searched for and confirmed that the Maryland license had indeed been surrendered and removed the suspension.

Last week both houses of the Maryland legislature overrode Governor Hogan’s veto and passed the Maryland Police Accountability Act of 2001.

The Act will improve the criminal justice system in Maryland a number of ways:

  1. Set stricter standards for use of force by police;

We have noticed lately what seems like an extraordinary number of referrals to the MAB.

When anyone suspects that a driver may have a physical or mental condition that would affect their ability to drive, he or she may refer that person to the Medical Advisory Board (MAB) of the MVA.[1]  Initially, the referral goes to the Division of Driver Wellness & Safety (DW&S).[2]  DW&S sends the person a series of questionnaires that must be completed and returned as well as consent forms for the driver to allow the MVA to obtain reports from the driver’s physician and relevant treatment programs, detailing the condition, diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and any medications they have been prescribed. 

After receiving the information, DW&S may take a number of actions.  Parameters are set forth in COMAR § 11.17.03.04 for how to respond to specified medical conditions to guide the MVA’s determination.  DW&S may further refer the person to the MAB for review by a physician.[3]  The Medical Advisory Board makes recommendations to the MVA when individuals are referred to the MAB and a certain physical or mental condition is indicated.[4]

On this Veteran’s Day we pay tribute to the over 17 million veterans in the US today.  These are men and women who have personally sacrificed to preserve our freedoms, and the great experiment in republican democracy that has survived for over 225 years since the adoption of the US Constitution in 1788.  The genius of the US Constitution is the separation of powers between three branches of government, and between the federal government and the states.  With the addition of the Bill of Rights, we are very fortunate to have a representative government, that respects individual liberties.

Our firm is sensitive to the needs of veterans with links to websites that cater to veterans’ needs.  https://www.lstamm.com/veteran-s-resources.html

In recognition of the sacrifices made by veterans, our firm offers reduced fees to many veterans seeking representation for a traffic or criminal matter.

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