Monday, October 19, 2009

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff Law Enforcement.

    As everyone knows who has anything more than a very casual contact with me, I have been involved on the defense side of criminal law enforcement for almost forty years.  During my career I have handled all types of crimnal cases from serious felonies to ridiculous misdemeanors.  One of my earliest cases involved the defense of a misdemeanor citation issued in Huntington Beach for  a violation of a city ordinance that declared wall sitting on the city's pier to be a criminal offense.  My client, a young surfer, was ticketed for sitting on the pipe railing on the pier. That railing was not a wall under any definition of wall I could find and the city ordinance didn't define the term wall either. 
This clearly was a case of violating the "don't sweat the small stuff" rule of law enforcement. Not only did we file motions in the trial court but we also tried the case to the court and the court found my client guilty of sitting on the wall, even though only a railing was involved.  We appealed to the next higher court and that court reversed holding that a railing is clearly not a wall. The city spent probably $15,000 in attorney time, court time and other time, including  police overtime all over a $25 ticket. The City sweated the small stuff.

Today Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that the Department of Justice will no longer sweat the small stuff and has ordered U S Attorneys nationwide to not bother with prosecuting people and clinics who are  using marijuana in strict compliance with state laws concerning medicinal pot.  Good job, General Holder, it took you long enough. If federal and local prosecutors would use some of the  prosecutorial discretion we have invested them with and not file crappy low worth cases which achieve no serious public good or remedy serious social problems, life could be a lot better and simpler for John Q Public and the expenditure of public funds on all levels less than it is now when money, public and private, is very scarce.

No comments:

Post a Comment