Kathleen Willcox Williams

Kathleen Willcox Williams

Attorney at Law

Prosecutors Facing Prosecution?

Immigrant Drivers Licenses Now Available in Georgia

As repoorted by the Fulton County Daily Report, "Immigrants who live in Georgia and have applied for permanent residence in the U.S. may obtain a state driver's license under an agreement announced Monday that resolves a federal lawsuit against the state."  This is the right and just thing: legal immigrants SHOULD be able to participate in our society legally with drivers licenses and enforcing immigration law IS the province of the federal government.  Kudos to the Southern Poverty Law Center for their hard work to address this issue!


 

Felony Drug Charges Dismissed When Officers Lied at Suppression Hearing

This week the Amercian Bar Association reported on a situation that is unfortunately not as rare or surprising as one would like to think in suburban Chicago: five, yes FIVE, police officers were caught lying on the witness stand at a motion to suppress hearing in connection with a felony drug arrest.  Several "take away" items occur to me based on this story:

  • Do some police officers lie to judges and in court?  YES.  
  • Do some police officers tell a uniform, preconcocted version of what happened when they testify in court?  YES.
  • Do some police officers know what the law requires of them, choose to do things in a different way, and then lie to say they did what the law requires?  YES. 
  • Can video of what actually happened when a person encounters the police be powerful evidence?  YES. 
  • Is it important to prepare for hearings by gathering evidence and reviewing that evidence (like the video on this case)?  YES. 

An experienced criminal defense lawyer is truly your best bet if you have been charged with a crime.  While it is rare to actively catch FIVE police officers lying in open court because they were too ill-prepared to have watched the video of the incident, it DOES HAPPEN.  

Top 10 Things Your Criminal Defense Lawyer Wants You To Do When You Get Pulled Over For Suspicion of DUI

10. Do not look drunk on video.  The average citizen may not know what HGN is or why the Intoxylizer 5000 is junky, but he usually knows what a drunk person looks like.
9. Do NOT bargain with the officer, tell him or her about all the important people you know, or how important you are. See number 10 above.
8.  Ask for your own independent test if you decide to take the government Intoxylizer breath test (usually given at police station, not road-side test) or blood test.  You have a right to have an independent test.
7.  Know that the portable roadside hand-held alcosensor breath test (voluntary, do not do this if you have been drinking anything) and the big Intoxilyzer breath test at the police station (not taking this test may cause an administrative drivers license suspension, so not entirely voluntarily). ARE NOT THE SAME THING.  
6.  Hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible, and before ten days go by after your arrest date. Do not wait.  To appeal any administrative drivers license suspension strict time limits start running immediately at the time of you arrest.  Do not make this situation worse than it already is!
5.  DO NOT make damaging admissions.  Politely say you do not care to discuss it about anything more than who you are and where you are coming from/going.  Most commonly, people tell the police officer that they "had two beers." This does not make the officer release most people.    
4.  DO NOT consent to anything.  Politely ask the officer "is this voluntary?" about every test or physical activity he asks you to do.  Do not consent to any activity, including blowing into anything, on the roadside.  Consider politely telling the officer that you are invoking your 4th Amendment right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures.
3.  DO ask if you are free to leave at every stage of the encounter.  If the officer is holding your drivers license, politely point that out and ask for it back.
2.  Be polite, calm and collected, even if the officer is not.  Do not "show out" or lose your temper.  See number 10 above.  
1. Don't be drunk, drinking, under the influence or incapicated.  Seriously.  Call a cab if you need a cab; it really is a better choice.

Federal Court Judge in New York Throws Out "Stop and Frisk" Policy

It appears that your Constitutional rights are still taken seriously some places, like New York City.  Mayor Bloomburg's blanket "Stop and Frisk Policy" has met with blistering disapproval from at least to Judge Shira A Scheindlin, who called unconstitutional stops “a demeaning and humiliating experience.”        Read the NY Times coverage here.

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