In law, an en banc session (French for “in bench”) is a session in which a case is heard before all the judges of a court (before the entire bench) rather than by a panel of judges selected from them. The equivalent terms in banc, in banco or in bank are also sometimes seen.
ST. MARTIN PARISH, LA (WAFB) -A 45-year-old St. Martin Parish woman is dead after a motorcycle crash, authorities say.Shortly after 6 p.m. on Saturday, troopers from Louisiana State Police Troop I began investigating a single vehicle fatal crash on US-90 westbound near the St. Martin / Iberia parish line.State police say the crash claimed the life of Ruiella Carriere,45, of Youngsville.The initial investigation by State Police showed the crash happened as 46-year-old Larry Bourque, also of Youngsville, was operating a 2004 Harley Davidson motorcycle westbound on US-90.Carriere was a passenger on the motorcycle, state police say.For unknown reasons, Bourque failed to negotiate a right curve and the motorcycle ran off the left side of the roadway.The motorcycle traveled into the median and struck a sign causing the driver and Carriere to be ejected off of the motorcycle.Initially, state police say Bourque and Carriere sustained moderate injuries and were transported to Lafayette General Medical Center for treatment.At about 11 p.m., state police were notified by medical personnel that Carriere died to her injuries.State police say it is unknown if impairment is a factor in the crash. A toxicology sample was taken from Bourque and submitted to the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab for analysis, standard in crash fatalities.Bourque and Carriere were both wearing helmets, but the helmets were removed before state police arrived. State police investigators are trying to determine if the helmets were DOT approved.This crash remains under investigation.State police issued on statement on motorcycle safety, saying:Troopers encourage all riders to take an approved motorcycle safety course. These courses teach safe riding practices and help you apply safe riding strategies that can help reduce your chance of injury should a crash occur. Making good choices while riding a motorcycle, such as never driving while impaired and obeying all traffic laws, can often mean the difference between life and death.
I had to fight this guy because he was calling me names from across the street, right? Then he calls me ‘chicken’ — screw that, right? Instead of proving I’m not chicken, I crossed the road to get to the other side.
The state’s highest court on Tuesday limited which evidence can be used to prosecute drivers suspected of operating under the influence of marijuana, handing a victory to civil rights advocates in a closely watched case.
Under a unanimous ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court, Massachusetts police officers can no longer cite their subjective on-scene observations or sobriety tests to conclude in court testimony that a driver was under the influence of marijuana.In limiting the use of the familiar roadside tests designed to provide an approximate measure of drunkenness — walking in a straight line, standing on one foot, and so on — the court found there is no scientific consensus those tests definitively prove someone is intoxicated by marijuana.
The judges also noted the effects of marijuana on its users are more complex than of alcohol and less obviously correlated to the amount consumed, making it difficult for untrained observers to know whether someone is high.
“Because the effects of marijuana may vary greatly from one individual to another, and those effects are as yet not commonly known,” the court said, “neither a police officer nor a lay witness who has not been qualified as an expert may offer an opinion as to whether a driver was under the influence of marijuana.”
Police officers can still arrest drivers they suspect are high and describe in court how the drivers behaved during the roadside tests. For example, an officer could tell a jury a driver was unable to walk in a straight line. But under the ruling, the officer could not describe the task as a “test” or say the driver “failed” it.
Similarly, an officer could tell a jury that a driver smelled strongly of marijuana and seemed confused but could not use such observations to conclude the driver was high
The defendant in the case is Thomas Gerhardt, who was stopped in Millbury in February 2013 by a State Police trooper for allegedly driving with his lights off, according to a statement of facts agreed to by both sides in the case.
The trooper testified that he saw smoke inside the vehicle and smelled marijuana and that Gerhardt acknowledged smoking about a gram of marijuana. Gerhardt was unable to properly do the “walk-and-turn” test, the trooper said, and struggled to stand on one foot.
The case has not yet gone to trial, amid legal wrangling over which evidence can be admitted.
Rebecca Jacobstein, Gerhardt’s attorney, called the ruling a victory over “junk science.”
“The big take-away here is that for the government to introduce something as science, it actually has to be science,” Jacobstein said.
The decision, she argued, does not make it harder for law enforcement to deter stoned driving.
“I look at this more as a protection of people’s right to have only meaningful and relevant evidence used against them,” she said.
A spokesman for Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr., whose office is prosecuting Gerhardt, said the decision “provides much-needed clarity regarding police testimony,” and prosecutors will use the court’s guidance in bringing the case to trial.
Walpole police Chief John Carmichael Jr., a spokesman for the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, doesn’t expect the ruling to significantly change how officers conduct traffic stops.
“At the end of the day, officers are still going to rely on all their observations and the total circumstances of the stop, and base their arrests on probable cause,” Carmichael said. “We don’t think about conviction rates all the time; we think about public safety.”
Beyond standard sobriety tests, Carmichael said, officers carefully watch how a driver acts in general. He added he was relieved those observations will be still heard in court.
“We’re assessing demeanor, attitude, attention span, behavior — everything,” he said.
Carmichael called on the state Legislature to follow Colorado and Washington, two other states where recreational marijuana is legal, in establishing a blood concentration limit for THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.
“Our law doesn’t have the teeth it needs,” he said.
Both states use a threshold of 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood; in Washington any driver at or above that level is automatically considered impaired, while in Colorado those drivers can dispute their condition in court. However, some experts have questioned the validity of any law that specifies a particular blood concentration for impairment.
Jay Winsten, director of Harvard University’s Center for Health Communication and a pioneer of OUI awareness campaigns, praised the court for taking a “middle ground” approach.
“I think it was a wise, smart, and careful decision,” Winsten said. “It keeps field sobriety tests in the picture without allowing police officers to claim they constitute unequivocal evidence of marijuana intoxication, which would be suggesting something that goes beyond what’s currently known.”
“In the end,” he added, “it’s up to the common sense of jurors.”
MADISON, Wis. – A Verona man faces charges after he took out a road sign and went airborne over some railroad tracks while driving down South Park Street, police said.A witness told police it appeared a driver was asleep at the wheel as the car he was driving around 5:30 p.m. in the 1800 block of South Park Street drifted across southbound lanes, over the median and into the northbound lanes.The car then took out a road sign, drove over the sidewalk and down an embankment, according to a release. The car went airborne over some railroad tracks before slamming into a railroad control box, causing thousands of dollars in damage.The witness unbuckled the driver, 24-year-old Travis J. Busse, and paramedics delivered Naloxone, police said. Busse was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.Busse faces tentative charges of third-offense operating while intoxicated, driving the wrong way on a divided highway and operating while revoked.
OXFORD, M.S. (localmemphis.com) – A Confederate soldier statue in Mississippi was damaged Saturday night after investigators said driver slammed a pick up truck into the base of a monument on the campus of Ole Miss.In a tweet, the Ole Miss Police Department said the driver was driving under the influence. Local 24 is waiting on details surrounding the crash that left two people. The plaque on the base of the statue had to be removed due to damage. The plaque was added in 2016 to provide historical context to the monument, which honors local soldiers who fought in the Confederate army. The destruction on Rebel Drive attracted many onlookers, including James Thomas.”My immediate thought was, ‘I’ve got to go see it,” said Thomas.Thomas inspected the statue Sunday.”To be honest with you,” he said, “I was hoping that they had knocked it over but that didn’t happen.”Instead, Thomas found a barrier around the statute. It shifted on impact.Photos given to Local 24 by a viewer show the aftermath of Saturday night’s crash. The driver’s side of the truck was badly damaged.Campus police tweeted out information on the crash once word of the crash spread. It happened around 8:11 p.m.”Driver investigated for driving while intoxicated,” the department tweeted. “Driver & passenger got medical attention. No indication it was a deliberate act. Being investigated as a crash. Will consult with prosecutor/DA/FBI to determine if additional charges are to be filed.””I don’t know if the intent was to hit into the statue,” said Thomas. “I don’t know if there was intent behind it, if there was the intent to aim at the plaque, I don’t know. I’m going to consider all options.”Thomas is an assistant professor of sociology at Ole Miss and a faculty advisor for the university’s NAACP chapter. He told Local 24 he see’s the statue one way.”I see it as a testament to white supremacy,” he said.Thomas has pushed for the statues removal. Given the damage to the statue by Saturday’s crash he’s hoping the university will see this as a way to move forward.”Do they want to invest in money into repairing this monument or do they want to use that money to move it where, I think it should belong, which is off-campus?” he asked. Local 24 reached out to the university’s communication’s team for comment. We did not hear back from Ole Miss by deadline.Local 24 also has a call out to the district attorney’s office inquiring about charges. We will keep you updated as new information becomes available.