The Juice to be let loose? O.J. Simpson faces parole hearing this week in Nevada

OJ Simpson is reportedly up for parole after nine years in prison for his role in a Las Vegas armed robbery. Simpson, who is 70 years old, could be out as soon as October 1, 2017 if the Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners deems him ready. According to close friend Tom Scotto, Simpson’s plan if granted parole is to either move back to Florida and live with Scotto, or to move to Sacramento and live with his sister, Shirley Baker.  Scotto claims that Simpson is “very positive” about his parole chances, and that the former NFL running back still has money despite the $2-3 million in legal fees he faced from the 2008 case. OJ has also reportedly lost around 70 pounds since his first parole hearing in 2013, and has had no behavioral issues or writeups while incarcerated in the Las Vegas prison. He has also spent his time watching NFL games and coaching softball, and even started a Baptist church within the prison. Hopefully Simpson’s good behavior continues outside of prison if he is granted parole, as his history with the law is not one to be proud of. If he sticks to playing golf and keeping his head low, maybe he can live out the rest of his life in peace. That is not to say that Parole is easy. Mr. Simpson would still potentially be monitored, have regular check-ins and could go back to prison if he violates the terms of the parole.

The Law Offices of Steven J Pisani specialize in DUI, traffic, and criminal defense. Call our Denver office today for a free consultation at 303-635-6768.

 

USA Today Sports, Josh Peter, 7/17/2017

Link: https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/2017/07/17/oj-simpson-faces-parole-hearing-thursday-nevada/483653001/

Longmont police didn’t follow procedures with warrantless searches, city concludes

Officials from Longmont have concluded that procedures used by Longmont police to establish consent during warrantless searches did not adhere to the police department’s standards. The tenets of a Longmont apartment building were reportedly not told in advance that they had a right to refuse entry by the police and K-9 dogs that, along with housing authority staff, were conducting the unconstitutional searches. The Weld County Sheriff’s Office conducted an investigation on the searches, but decided that Longmont police “policies, procedures, training and practices are all in place and appropriate.” Apparently infringing upon the rights of others is “appropriate” in the eyes of the police. The Law Offices of Steven J Pisani specialize in DUI, traffic, and criminal defense. Call our Denver office today for a free consultation at 303-635-6768.

 

Denver Post, John Fryar, 7/14/2017

Link: http://www.denverpost.com/2017/07/14/longmont-police-didnt-follow-procedures-with-warrantless-searches-city-concludes/

Sessions: Softened approach to drug enforcement led to surge in drug abuse and violent crime

In a recent letter sent to and published by The Washington Post, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions elaborated upon his plan to be tougher on drugs and drug offenders. Sessions blamed the United States’ supposedly rising rate in violent crime on the Justice Department’s increasingly relaxed approach to drug offenders and offenses. According to Sessions, drug prosecutions have decreased from 2011 to 2016 by 23 percent, while the average sentence for a convicted drug offender has decreased 18 percent from 2009 to 2016. This is what he believes is causing the “disturbing trend that could reverse decades of progress,” as violent crime is rising across the country. This rise in violent crime has made Sessions issue a memorandum to all federal prosecutors in which he authorizes prosecutors to charge offenses “as Congress intended.” This memorandum is supposed to allow prosecutors to apply the laws fairly while still exercising discretion, yet seems like it is meant more to punish minor drug offenders and minorities. Sessions’ misguided efforts are due to his fear of this “crime surge” being an ongoing trend in America, and apparently this policy will improve minority neighborhoods and communities that are “disproportionately impacted by violent drug trafficking.” Yet, Sessions does not seem to want to address the root cause of the oppression faced by minority communities, and is instead content attacking minor drug offenders and users who he claims are “infecting their communities.” Jeff Sessions and his “time-tested policy” are supposed to help, but will end up punishing small-time drug users as the United States punitive policies once again become the focus of our justice system. Steven J. Pisani is a Denver Criminal Defense Attorney, Denver DUI Lawyer and Denver Criminal Defense Attorney.

 

The Cannabist, Jeff Sessions, June 19, 2017
Link: http://www.thecannabist.co/2017/06/19/jeff-sessions-drug-enforcement-violent-crime/81865/#disqus_thread

Distracted Driving Ban Reintroduced in New Jersey

The bill would fine driver’s up to $800 for doing anything “unrelated to the operation of the vehicle, in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of the vehicle.” The problem is with the vagueness of the law. Where is the line drawn? The way it’s written, a driver would be fined for eating a banana in traffic. The article lists an example of a woman in England who was cited for just that. However, the bill is really aimed at protecting drivers who are the victims of distracted drivers. While the law seems draconian, it will probably only affect those drivers who caused accidents, or who are obviously not paying attention while driving. With any of these broad laws, there is the possibility for abuse. With self driving cars on the horizon, is this measure, however short term, necessary to increase traffic safety?

The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani specialize in Traffic Ticket and DUI defense. Call our Denver office today for a Free Consultation.

Cite: Vivian Yee, The New York Times, 8/17/2016
Link:

A bill that could fine distracted drivers as much as $800 has led to an outcry among residents for whom driving is more a state of being than an activity.
NYTIMES.COM|BY VIVIAN YEE

Sonia Sotomayor Takes On the Criminal Justice System

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has written many dissents this year on cases involving the Criminal Justice system. Taken together, they appear to be a remarkable body of work from an increasingly skeptical student on the criminal justice system. The major dissent written was for the case Utah v. Streiff. In this case, a police officer stopped a man for no reason and arrested him on an outstanding warrant, finding illegal drugs in the search and arrest process. The Court ruled that the drugs found were admissible evidence in the case, but Sotomayor dissented. “What stops us,” she asked, “from becoming a police state and just having the police stand on the corner down here and stop every person, ask them for identification, put it through, and, if a warrant comes up, searching them?” In a town like Ferguson, where 80 percent of residents have minor traffic warrants, the potential for a de-facto police state has been created.

Cite: Adam Liptak, The New York Times, 4/4/2016

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/05/us/politics/in-dissents-sonia-sotomayor-takes-on-the-criminal-justice-system.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share

The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC specialize in the field of Criminal Defense and we work actively to promote Criminal Defense Reform. Call our Denver office today for a free consultation.

Private Prisoner Vans’ are an Injustice

In July of 2012, Steven Galack was arrested on an out-of-state warrant for failing to pay child support. He was packed up in a prisoner van run by small private company. From Florida to Ohio, he was crammed into the back of the small van with many other arrestees without a bathroom or room to lie down. The drivers of the van are on a strict schedule. If they are late to one drop off appointment the company starts to lose money. There is no time to pay attention to the men and women piled in back. No time for bathroom breaks, and definitely no time to stop and sleep. It was 90 degrees outside and the Air Conditioning in the van was faulty. Mr. Galack started to become delusional. He began to ramble, scream, and kept the rest of the arrestees awake during the ride. The van stopped in Georgia, and one of the two guards driving the van told the other arrestees “Only body shots,” as they began to take turns beating Mr. Galack. The guard noticed Mr. Galack was dead more than 70 miles later, in Tennessee. Subsequent investigations turned up no convictions, and no reform for the private van company. This is the current state of the extradition process in many Southern and Mid-Western states. The article below details several such incidents. The article does not mention that much is being done to fix the gross injustice of prisoner transportation, and the hellish conditions that it entails.

Cite: Eli Hager and Alysia Santo, The New York Times, 7/6/2016

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/07/us/prisoner-transport-vans.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share

The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani specialize in the field of Criminal Defense, including warrant quashing. Call our Denver office today for a free consultation.

How Race and Privilege Affect Criminal Sentences

Brock Turner’s name is spreading around the nation in connection with his three felony sexual assault convictions. Brock was sentenced to just 6 months in jail for the convictions, an incredibly light sentence that has ignited a national conversation about sexual assault at universities, and the advantages of being white and privileged. Brock was caught red-handed sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. Cory Batey was convicted on equally-damning evidence of sexually assaulting a different woman who was also unconscious. Turner is a star swimmer, Batey was a star football player. Turner is white, Batey is black. For what is essentially the same offense, Turner received 6 months in prison with the possibility to have the reduced to 3 months on good behavior. Batey was sentenced to the mandatory 15 years. Cory Batey’s sentence is 3,000% longer for the same offense with similar facts. This is one case in a national trend of sentence disparity. Black and Latino offenders are on average, given 20% longer sentences than whites for the same crimes. The Civil Rights movement was 50 years ago. It is time for America to take a step forward and treat everyone equally regardless of the color of their skin. The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani specialize in the field of Criminal Defense. Call our Denver office today for a Free Consultation.

Cite: Shaun King, The New York Daily News, 6/7/2016

Link: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/king-brock-turner-cory-batey-show-race-affects-sentencing-article-1.2664945

Texting While Walking in New Jersey Could Mean Jail Time, fine

Crossing the Street in New Jersey with your eyes glued to your smartphone could mean spending 15 days in jail, paying a $50 fine, or both. A “Distracted Walking” bill was introduced by state assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt. “Distracted pedestrians, like distracted drivers, present a potential danger to themselves and drivers on the road,” Lampitt said. The proposed measure would ban walking while texting and prohibit pedestrians on public roads from using their smartphones unless they’re hands-free. There are many questions raised as to how this law will be enforced. The bill gives a frightening amount of power to the police who would be able to stop you for looking at your cell phone. The proposed bill has an immense potential to be abused by law enforcement officers. Smartphone usage accounts for 78% of pedestrian injuries, most of which include fractures, concussions, and sprains. Lamitt said the bill was needed to penalize risky behavior. Is preventing a concussion worth clogging the Courts with absurdly vague and unnecessary criminal citations? If we criminalize smartphone usage while on a sidewalk, we might as well call this nation “Land of the cited, home of the fined.” While it is true that walking with your smartphone is a nuisance and can lead to injuries, criminal citation is not the answer. This bill gives power to law enforcement officials, has a potential to be abused, and is a huge expansion of government power. This is the nightmare small-government conservatives talk about when they want less government. The bill is ridiculous and should not be implemented as law. The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani specialize in the area of Criminal Defense. Call our Denver office today for a Free consultation.
Cite: Alfred NG, New York Daily News, 3/27/2018
Link: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/walking-texting-nj-land-jail-article-1.2579363

Chokehold Ban Among Colorado Police Bills Nearing Approval

New limits on police authority are nearing approval in the Colorado legislature. The bills were put forth last year attempted to ban police from using chokeholds on suspects but experienced fierce opposition from police groups and Republicans. This year’s bill has been edited and includes compromises to suit all parties. Last year’s bill prohibited officers from using a choke hold. This year’s bill narrows that definition to ban only chokeholds that cut off air flow, not those that cut off blood flow. Police say it’s an important distinction. Sen. John Cook, a Republican from Weld county said the chokehold ban has been amended to the point that “the only one that would do it is a bad cop.” Sen. Michael Johnston of Denver said the amended bill still addresses public concerns about chokeholds. “This is in response to come of the tragedies that have happened because of overuse of the chokehold,” and “puts guardrails around when this can be used.” While some ban on chokeholds is obviously necessary, it is scary that the bill needed to be so specifically amended. In the heat of the moment, will an officer be able to determine if the suspect in question can breathe? Will the bill prohibit a chokehold if the suspect explicit states they can’t breathe? The compromises are yet another example of police fighting tooth and nail against restrictions to their power. Body cameras, restrictions on their ability to shoot at moving cars, and now the right to use a chokehold are all topics the police have lobbied against. Is it really so difficult for police to do their jobs, under surveillance and without violence? Sure, in some cases police need to use violence to subdue a violent suspect but that is also why we equip them with a baton, Taser, pepper spray, and gun. Why do they still need the chokehold? The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani specialize in the field of Criminal Defense. Call our Denver office today for a Free Consultation.

Cite: Kristin Wyatt, Associated Press, 3/29/2016

Link: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_29695240/chokehold-ban-among-colorado-police-bills-nearing-approval

Lack of Videos Hampers Inquiries into Houston Police Shootings

On a February night in 2011, an off-duty Houston police officer was seen coming out of a bar at closing time after drinking heavily. Jose Coronado Jr., had just taken a triple shot of Jameson and a beer on top of several drinks earlier that night. Coronado must have been heavily intoxicated. When he arrived in the parking lot he witnessed a fight. Coronado took out his gun and shot two of the fighters, killing one and severely wounding the other. Omar Ventura was deceased, his brother Ronaldo writhing in pain on the ground next to him. Coronado claimed Omar reached for his waistband, obviously implying fear that he had a gun. For what can be seen as a cold-blooded murder, Coronado was suspended 30 days for “acting in official capacity while drinking…” This was murder. Coronado was not in uniform and was severely intoxicated. He shot and killed a man. What gives an off-duty officer the right to kill a man without being punished? More importantly, how many times has an officer acted similarly without any repercussion? It is incidences like these that drive a wedge between the public, and the police hired to serve them.  If there had been video evidence Coronado would have been either exonerated or proven guilty. Instead, the Ventura family will live without justice, and without they beloved brother Omar. The family has filed a lawsuit against the police department. This incident is one of many in the Houston police department. Mandatory body cameras will be a strong step forward for holding police accountable and repairing the bonds of trust between police and the community. Most officers are upstanding well intentioned individuals serving the public good. But not all cops are honest, upstanding individuals, and an officer good or bad wields enormous power.  If you have been charged with a crime, stand up for your rights. The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani specialize in the area of Criminal Defense. Call our Denver office today for a Free Consultation.

Cite: Timothy Williams, The New York Times, February 23, 2016

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/24/us/lack-of-videos-hampers-inquiries-into-houston-police-shootings.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share

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