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
Using a fraudulent lift ticket carries a maximum fine of up to $999 and 180 days in jail. So far this winter, there have been 39 such cases reported to police, as opposed to 4 cases during the same period last year. Vail police say suspects are either issued a summons or are arrested depending on the circumstances. Police say tickets are being unlawfully sold online. Vail Police tell a story of a buyer who bought $2,000 worth of ticket with a credit card, and then sold them on Craigslist. The tickets eventually came up as invalid after the buyer reported his credit card as stolen. Vail Police say the only authorized dealer of lift ticket is Vail Resorts. The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani specialize in the field of Criminal Defense. Call our Denver office today for a Free Consultation.
Cite: Jesse Paul, The Denver Post, 2/22/2017
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
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.
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
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.
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
Former Part-Time Judge Joe Boeckmann of Little Rock, Arkansas as resigned following allegation of repeated sexual abuse. Boeckmann is accused of trading sexual favors for reduced sentences. The case is being investigated by the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission. Documents relating to the case show that investigators found thousands of photos on Boeckmann’s home computer of naked and semi-naked men, many of whom were identified by the commission as former defendants whose cases had gone before Boeckmann. The commission planned on filing a subpoena asking Boeckmann to turn over a paddle used to spank several of the young men seen in many of the photographs. It is alleged that Boeckmann showed preferential treatment to white men and allowed sentencing not recorded on court dockets, including performing the task of picking up trash at his home. The list goes on and on. Boeckmann is not the first or the last judge to use their power in an unjust and disgustingly abusive manner. What is apparent is that the Criminal Justice system in America is not perfect. Corruption seeps through and affects many of those with power. The question is why was Boeckmann allowed to continue his illegal activities for so long? Why after 30 years are his actions now being investigated? The Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani specialize in the field of Criminal Defense. We defend against Traffic Tickets, DUI, and Domestic Violence issues. Call our Denver office today for a Free Consultation.
Cite: Associated Press, The New York Post, 5/10/2016