Adam Woody Law

Lawsuit: Kansas Highway Patrol Targets Colorado Drivers

Ninety-three percent of the Kansas Highway Patrol’s traffic stops in 2017 involved cars with out-of-state plates, according to a lawsuit challenging the practice as an infringement on motorists’ constitutional rights.

In an amended lawsuit filed Thursday on behalf of three plaintiffs, including two Oklahoma brothers who initially filed the complaint, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and a Kansas City, Missouri, law firm contend that the traffic stop statistics show that the Kansas Highway Patrol specifically targets out-of-state drivers, including many on the main highway connecting Kansas with neighboring Colorado, because that state’s legalized marijuana.

The case began as a hand-scrawled complaint filed last December by the two irate brothers, but it got significant legal backing when the ACLU and the law firm, Spencer Fane LLP, joined their cause. The lawsuit, which lists the Kansas Highway Patrol, its superintendent Herman Jones, and two troopers as defendants, argues that specifically targeting out-of-state drivers infringes on such drivers’ constitutional protection from illegal searches and seizures.

The Kansas Highway Patrol said it cannot comment on pending litigation.

The revised complaint, which also seeks class-action status, contends that the highway patrol has had a laser-like focus on drivers traveling Interstate 70, which the agency has designated a “drug corridor.” Out-of-state motorists driving on that interstate constituted 96% of all of the agency’s reported civil forfeitures from 2018 to 2019, the lawsuit contends. Two-thirds of those motorists were either drivers of color or they had passengers of color in the vehicle.

The complaint also challenges a law enforcement practice known as “the Kansas Two Step,” a maneuver used to detain drivers for canine drug searches. The maneuver, which is included in the agency’s training materials, is a way to break off an initial traffic stop and attempt to reengage the driver in what would then be a consensual encounter.

The way the “Kansas Two Step” works is this: A trooper stops a vehicle with out-of-state plates under the pretense of a minor traffic violation. The trooper issues the driver a ticket or warning for the infraction, then turns around and takes a couple of steps away from the vehicle before turning around and asking the driver to agree to answer additional questions. When the driver denies transporting anything illegal, the trooper requests consent to search the car. If the driver declines to consent to a search, the trooper detains the driver for a canine drug search.

The federal lawsuit was filed by Joshua Bosire, a black man who lives in Wichita, where he works as an engineer in aviation. He travels on I-70 twice a month to visit his 4-year-old daughter, who lives in Littleton, Colorado. On a return trip from visiting her last February, Bosire was driving a rental car that had a Missouri license plate when he was stopped for driving 6 mph (9.7 kph) over the speed limit. Bosire was detained for 36 minutes before a drug dog arrived. No drugs were found.

The two other named plaintiffs are Elontah Blaine Shaw and Samuel Shaw, Native American brothers who live in Oklahoma City. Elontah Shaw works as an Uber driver and travels I-70 through Kansas several times per year to visit family and friends in Colorado. They were subjected to a drug dog search during traffic stop for speeding in December 2017. They were released from detention after an hour and a half. Troopers did not find any illicit drugs.

Lauren Bonds, legal director for the ACLU of Kansas, said in a news release that the detained drivers endured canine unit searches and that one was subjected to a personal pat down on the side of the highway.

“The standard for this kind of invasion of privacy has to be higher than out-of-state plates, a Colorado destination and minority status,” Bonds said. “This practice is unconstitutional on many levels.”

An average of more than 10,000 motorists and their passengers drive through Kansas on I-70 each day, according to the complaint. The state estimates that about 7,820 of them each day are traveling to or coming from Colorado.

Source

Death Row Inmate’s Sentence Is Tossed for Faulty Jury Instructions

Cesar Fierro spent four decades on death row. The threat of the death penalty was abruptly removed in late December when Texas’ highest ranking court decided he was given faulty jury instructions at his trial.

Judges at the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals vacated the Mexican national’s death sentence in December, citing incorrect jury instructions that were given in his trial in 1980. The judges sent his case back to El Paso for a new punishment hearing, the Texas Tribune reported. Fierro’s conviction for the robbery and murder of a taxi driver still stands.

The death sentence followed the fatal shooting of Nicolas Castanon in 1979 as he drove his taxi. His attackers left his body in a park in El Paso. A teenager informed El Paso police he was also in the taxi when Fierro shot the driver from the back seat and abandoned the vehicle in Juarez in Mexico where he lived. Fierro’s criminal defense team argued the only evidence tying their client to the crime was the teen’s testimony. They argued Fierro’s confession was likely coerced by the police.

Fierro was convicted of capital murder in El Paso in 1980. He was sentenced to death. For almost 30 years he has argued his jury trial was given incorrect instructions and deprived of mitigating evidence that could have instead led the jury to recommend a sentence of life in prison.

His lawyers appealed after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1989 that a capital murder defendant has the constitutional right to such a jury instruction.

In an appeal in 1990, Fierro’s lawyers said the jurors were only asked if they believed Fierro deliberately killed Castanon and posed a future danger to society.

Evidence about his history of substance abuse, his difficult childhood, his religion and the way he supported his children was not given to the jury. These mitigating factors might have averted the death penalty.

In contemporary death penalty trials, jurors are asked whether they believe the defendant poses a future danger to society and if there is mitigating evidence that supports a sentence of life in prison instead of death.  The questions are posed after a capital murder verdict is delivered.  The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals agreed more mitigating evidence should have been allowed at Fierro’s trial.

 

Source

Fight a DWI Charge, and You Can Help Protect Your Future

Lately, there have been many more officers around the bar, and you’ve noticed more people getting pulled over. Still, you felt like you were safe from that, because you’d only ever had a few drinks before heading out. Unfortunately, you were wrong.

The last time you went out, your luck ran out. An officer stopped you (and you’re not sure why). They asked for a breath sample, and it turned out that your BAC was .08% on the nose. A second test came back at .07%, so you aren’t sure if the higher number is really fair. What do you do?

Understand that the .08% limit is a per-se limit

To start with, the .08% limit is a per-se limit. What that means is that the officer needs no further evidence of intoxication if you’re at or above .08% BAC. If the officer asked you to perform additional tests, such as the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, then they may have collected additional evidence of impairment needed at court.

If the officer’s evidence isn’t good and you can show that your BAC was below .08%, then there is a chance of defending yourself and having the charges dropped or lowered.

Is a bar liable if they serve too much alcohol and let you leave?

To a certain degree, yes. If you are obviously impaired but the bartender continues to serve you alcohol without taking your keys, calling you a cab or preventing you from leaving, then it may be held liable. In some cases, bars have lost their licenses because of overserving alcohol.

What should you do to prevent DWIs in the future?

You can, and should, fight this DWI. If you want to prevent having to do so again in the future, then you should remember that there are alternatives to drinking and driving. Today, there are many almost instant services such as Lyft and Uber, which have drivers who can take you home. There are also cabs, public transportation systems and others who can get you home safely. It’s simply never worth the risk of a DWI, since a DWI could impact you well into the future.

Source

Consent as a Defense Against Sexual Assault Charges in Missouri

Sexual assault is a category of crimes that involve performing sexual activities with another person without their consent. Each state has their own consent laws. In recent years, we have seen a greater awareness being brought to the topic of consent, in large part due to media coverage of major sexual assault cases and the #metoo movement.

With awareness and media coverage also comes a fair share of false information and misrepresentation of information provided.

If you are in a situation where you are facing charges of sexual assault, it is important that you reach out to a Missouri Sex Assault Attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case.

With the assistance of an experienced criminal attorney, you can work towards building a strategic defense against the charges you are facing and take steps to protect your freedom and your future. Here is what you need to know about legal consent and its role in cases of sexual assault in Missouri.

The Role of Consent in Criminal Cases

The role of consent in criminal sexual assault cases is crucial, but murky. In recent years, we have seen a greater awareness being brought to the subject of consent, and how it is defined from both a legal and cultural standpoint. The issue with consent is that outside of legal definitions, consent often involves assumptions, which are sometimes incorrect.

Obviously, there are cases when a perpetrator commits sexual assault with malicious intentions to harm and engage another person in sexual activity without their consent. These cases are typically cut and dry. Forced or coerced sexual activity is sexual assault, pure and simple.

What becomes less clear is the assumed grey area that exists between a definite “yes” and a definite “no.” Further complicating is the fact that any person has the right to revoke consent at any point during sexual activity.

However, most people do not come right out and ask for consent every step of the way. It is often implied based upon mutual actions and words. When there is a misunderstanding, misinterpretation, or sheer lack of ability to read into a sexual partner’s cues, the role of consent in criminal cases becomes more subjective.

Consent Defined in Cases of Sexual Assault

Because consent is such a central element of any sexual assault case, it is very important to have consent defined, at least on a very basic level.

In the most general terms, consent is a mutual agreement to participate in sexual activity. It is important to understand that consent cannot be assumed on current or past actions of either party. This holds true for couples in a relationship, including marriage. Even within the confines of marriage, sexual activity without consent is considered rape in all 50 states.

Without consent, any sexual activity can be considered sexual assault. This includes consensual acts that involve penetration, as well as acts that involve touching someone intimately. It is important to just ask to avoid what could turn into a lengthy and stressful legal situation.

Under Missouri law, consent is a defense to sex offenses so long as the alleged victim is 14 years old or older. However, Missouri law does not define consent. Missouri law does define situations where an individual is not viewed as being legally capable of giving consent. This includes people under the “Age of Consent.”

Missouri’s Age of Consent is 17

The age of consent is a factor in many sexually-related cases. The phrase “age of consent” typically refers to the age at which a person is legally regarded as mature enough to make decisions about their own sexual activity.

In the United States, the age of consent is decided at the state level, so the thresholds differ from state to state. Under Missouri law, the age of consent is 17 years old. This is the age at which an individual is legally considered old enough to consent to sexual activity.

In the state of Missouri, people 16 or under are not able to consent to sexual activity. An adult participating in sexual activity with someone 16 or under may be prosecuted for statutory rape.

In Missouri, statutory rape is committed when an individual has consensual intercourse with a person under the age of 17. The severity of the criminal charge (misdemeanor, felony, etc) for breaking the age of consent laws can depend on the acts committed and the relative ages of the victim and the perpetrator.

Missouri’s Romeo and Juliet Law

Under Missouri law, if an individual is under the age of 21, they may have sexual intercourse with someone who is 14 years old or older. After an individual becomes 21 or older, they cannot have sexual intercourse with an individual under the age of 17. For example, a 21 year old who engages in consensual sexual acts with a 17 year old could not be charged with a crime, nor could a 20 year old and a 16 year old, and so on.

Hire an Attorney Skilled in Defending Against Sex Crimes Accusations

Irrespective of whether it is legal or not, it is never a good idea to test the waters with a statutory rape charge because these are serious charges that carry serious penalties.

Potential consequences for the crime can range from prison to probation and/or registering as a sex offender. Typically, more violent offenses and drastic gaps in ages lead to more serious penalties. However, any violation of the age of consent law can be quite serious. Occasionally, courts are lenient in cases where both parties are minors or they are close in age.

Sex crimes are some of the most serious criminal charges you can face. Crimes like rape, child molestation, or possession or distribution of child pornography carry harsh penalties. If any activity crossed state lines, even the use of a cell phone or the internet, federal charges may be involved. If found guilty, you can face prison terms with lengthy minimum sentences, even after plea bargaining. Whether you go to prison or not, there is a good chance you will have to register as a sex offender.

A sex crime charge or accusation puts your reputation in serious jeopardy. A sex crime conviction can ruin your life and your family member’s lives. The first line of defense is consulting with an attorney skilled in defending against sex crime allegations.

Our team of highly regarded criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience handling hundreds of bench and jury trials for serious criminal charges. We are prepared to fight for you and help you avoid the consequences of a sex crime conviction.

When Are Bars Liable for Overserving Alcohol?

Vendors, bars, and social hosts — or as 18th Century England would like to call them, dram shops — can be held responsible for injuries that result from their patrons’ boozin’ and cruisin’. But when does this liability attach?

Most states have some sort of dram shop law that allows DUI-related accident victims to hold a drinking establishment responsible for their injuries.

So when exactly are bars liable for overserving alcohol?

When They’re Supposed to Say ‘When’

The purpose of dram shop laws is pretty straightforward: to discourage vendors from serving a patron who is clearly wasted and past the legal blood-alcohol limit.

Since bartenders have the choice to stop or continue serving booze to patrons, placing liability on them for drunken driving-related injuries or deaths will (in theory) make them think twice before topping off a driver who is showing signs of heavy intoxication.

The rationale may be simple, but proving fault of the alcohol vendor is far from it. The difficulty of establishing a clear dram shop fault standard is reflected in the wide variety of state dram shop laws. They differ quite a bit.

‘Obvious Intoxication Test’

One commonality, however, is the application of the “obvious intoxication test.” It is as technical as it sounds (as in, not at all). Generally, a bar can be liable for overserving alcohol if a retailer knew or should have known that the patron was so intoxicated that more alcohol would cause danger to himself or to others.

Again, a pretty simple-sounding test. But in practice, it can get pretty complicated. Should they have known the patron was drinking on an empty stomach, had a low tolerance, or was already buzzed before entering the bar? Should they know if a patron drove or not?

If you throw some of the best cocktail parties in town, you may also want to watch out. Many states also enforce dram shop provisions for social hosts who furnish alcohol to minors or persons who are obviously intoxicated at a party. Did you know that you could be on the hook for any accidents that occur from an intoxicated guest at your party — even off-site?

Might not be a bad idea to water down those margs. Just a little.

 

Source

Cops Bust Man Who Said Wind Blew Cocaine Into His Car

A Florida man was arrested after he tried to claim that the wind blew a coke baggie into his car, according to a report.
Joseph Zak, 37, was busted trying to throw something away when he was pulled over in Fort Pierce last month for failing to pause at a stop sign, the Smoking Gun reported.
Police searched his car and found a crack pipe in the center console as well as a clear baggie with white residue, which later tested positive for crack cocaine.
When questioned about the baggie, Zack said that it didn’t belong to him and the “wind must have placed it there,” according to an affidavit obtained by the outlet.
Zack was arrested on drug paraphernalia charges and brought to St. Lucie County Jail, where he was released on bond.
He’s set to appear in court Dec. 3 for his arraignment, the outlet reported.

Source

 

 

 

 

 

Google Maps Will Tell You Where Police Are Hiding On Roadways

In a new effort to compete with traffic app Waze, Google Maps is adding new features to its update, including the ability to see where officers are catching speeders.

Users around the world will be able to report where police officers are hiding in the app, and that will then show to other users on the route.

The update will also add an option to identify things like construction, lane closures, disabled vehicles, and objects in the road, which may be slowing down traffic.

An early version of the reporting feature is already available for Android, but updates just started rolling out to Apple users.

 

To watch the story by WSYX/WTTE click Source.

New Jersey Woman Faces 10 Years in Prison for Deadly Texting While Driving Case

CBS News recently covered the case of a New Jersey woman is facing up to a decade in prison after being convicted in a groundbreaking case. She was texting while driving, and killed a pedestrian, in a state that now considers that just as serious as drunk driving.

Surveillance video shows the moments before Alexandra Mansonet’s black Mercedes plowed into the back of a red Toyota Corolla. The impact was so hard, it bashed into the back of the Corolla, propelling it into 39-year-old Yuwen Wang, who was in the crosswalk. Five days later, Wang died in the hospital.

During Mansonet’s trial, prosecutors claim she was texting about dinner plans. But Mansonet told jurors she looked down for a moment to adjust the defroster.

“The car was right in front of me, so I um, I hit the car,” she said.

“No evidence in our accident investigation that showed that there was evasive action taken, or any skid marks that would show that she braked, so the first time she realized that she had struck something is when the actual collision occurred,” said prosecutor Chris Gramiccioni.

Last Friday, Mansonet was found guilty of vehicular homicide. It’s believed to be the first time a 2012 New Jersey law that treats a texting driver as harshly as a drunken driver was tested in court.

Forty eight states and Washington, D.C. now ban text messaging for all drivers. Fourteen percent of distracted driver crashes in 2017 were linked to cell phone usage.

Mansonet is now awaiting sentencing. It’s rare to have prosecutions in distracted driving cases, though this case might serve as a wake up call for drivers nationwide.

Source

What You Should Do During a DWI Traffic Stop

You’re cruising down the highway, enjoying yourself and suddenly you see police lights in your rear-view mirror. You hope that the officer isn’t coming after you, but you have a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach.

If you find yourself on the side of the road as part of a DWI traffic stop, here’s what you need to do:

  • Stay in your car: If the officer wants you to get out, they’ll let you know. Opening your door before the officer arrives at your window gives them reason to believe their safety is at risk, which can amplify an already touchy situation.
  • Do not consent to any searches or seizures: You do not have to provide the cop with consent to search your vehicle or person. Unless they have reasonable suspicion to search you, you should not consent to a search.
  • Don’t say too much: The Fifth Amendment gives you the right to remain silent. Invoking this right can prevent you from self-incrimination. You are under no obligation to answer a cop’s questions, including questions about your residence, plans for the day or criminal history.
  • Stay calm: If you’re put under arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol, it is important to remain calm. Not only does this help prevent additional criminal charges, such as resisting arrest, but it allows you to more easily take mental notes of what’s happening to you.

When you do these things during a DWI traffic stop, you increase the likelihood of driving away from the scene without any charges.

If you are arrested for DWI, don’t wait to learn more about your legal rights and the details of your case. The knowledge you collect will go a long way in helping you formulate a defense strategy for avoiding a conviction and associated consequences.

Source

Posted in DWI

You Got a Brain Scan at the Hospital. Someday a Computer May Use It to Identify You.

In a disturbing experiment, imaging and facial recognition technologies were used to match research subjects to their M.R.I. scans.

Credit…Mayo Clinic, via the New England Journal of Medicine
Thousands of people have received brain scans, as well as cognitive and genetic tests, while participating in research studies. Though the data may be widely distributed among scientists, most participants assume their privacy is protected because researchers remove their names and other identifying information from their records.

But could a curious family member identify one of them just from a brain scan? Could a company mining medical records to sell targeted ads do so, or someone who wants to embarrass a study participant?

The answer is yes, investigators at the Mayo Clinic reported on Wednesday.

A magnetic resonance imaging scan includes the entire head, including the subject’s face. And while the countenance is blurry, imaging technology has advanced to the point that the face can be reconstructed from the scan.

Under some circumstances, that face can be matched to an individual with facial recognition software.

In a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers at the Mayo Clinic showed that the required steps are not complex. But privacy experts questioned whether the process could be replicated on a much larger scale with today’s technology.

The subjects were 84 healthy participants in a long-term study of about 2,000 residents of Olmsted County, Minn. Participants get brain scans to look for signs of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as cognitive, blood and genetic tests.

Over the years, the study has accumulated over 6,000 M.R.I. scans. (Participants are not told the results of their tests.)

After the participants agreed to the experiment, a team led by Christopher Schwarz, a computer scientist at the Mayo Clinic, photographed their faces and, separately, used a computer program to reconstruct faces from the M.R.I.’s.

Then the team turned to facial recognition software to see if the participants could be correctly matched. The program correctly identified 70 of the subjects. Only one correct match would be expected by chance, Dr. Schwarz said.

Admittedly, he added, this was a fairly simple test. The facial recognition software only had to search through photos of 84 people, not thousands or millions.

But the fact that this was a straightforward test is “beside the point,” said Aaron Roth, computer scientist and privacy expert at the University of Pennsylvania.

“It is clear that eventually this will be a worrying attack” on stored medical data, he said.

The more likely abuse may be even easier than the method tested by the Mayo researchers, Dr. Roth said. Imagine that a bad actor already knew that a particular person was a study subject, and perhaps had some information regarding age and gender.

Under those circumstances, it should be far less difficult to find that person’s M.R.I. than to start with the scan and discover the subject’s identity. The task is “unfortunately reasonably straightforward,” Dr. Schwarz said.

The privacy threat is real, said Dr. Michael Weiner of the University of California, San Francisco.

Dr. Weiner directs a national study called the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, which has enrolled 2,400 healthy people in an effort to find signs of dementia before a person shows symptoms.

With the publication of the research by the Mayo Clinic, he said, the initiative’s administrators will send letters to participating research centers informing them of the potential for privacy breaches.

The data in the study are stripped of identifying information, like participants’ names and Social Security numbers, but their M.R.I. scans do include faces. The only privacy protection for subjects so far has been the fact that researchers who want to access data from the study have to sign agreements saying that they will not try to identify participants.

“There have been millions of image downloads,” said Dr. Arthur Toga of the University of Southern California, whose group sends out M.R.I. scans and other data to researchers who request them from A.D.N.I. About 6,300 investigators have received study data, he said.

Dr. Weiner is himself a participant in that study, and his brain scans are included in the research data.

“My genetics are there,” he said. “All my tests are there. I bet there are a lot of images of me on the internet. You could match me to an A.D.N.I. subject code and look at all of my data.”

“The question is, what can we do now?”

The obvious way to fix the problem would be to remove faces from M.R.I. scans stored in databases. That process, though, blurs the image of the brain.

Also, fixing images in that way would not help protect the privacy of millions of subjects whose brain scans are already stored by A.D.N.I., the Mayo study and other large research projects.

Dr. Schwarz said his group is working on another solution, but declined to say what it is. Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye, a privacy researcher at Imperial College London, questioned whether an easy fix even is possible.

“If it doesn’t exist, that raises a lot of questions about how M.R.I. data is used,” he said. The Mayo group’s letter, he added, “is a good warning.”

Source