Ex-lawyer with 2008 conviction gets probation for DWI

Ex-lawyer with 2008 conviction gets probation, suspended jail sentence in DWI

Carlos Fierro

Carlos Fierro, who spent more than three years in prison for killing a Santa Fe pedestrian with his car after a night of heavy drinking, on Tuesday received a suspended jail sentence and probation for his arrest last year on a drunken-driving charge.

Although Fierro had the vehicular homicide conviction on his record, his latest case was treated as a first-time DWI offense, a misdemeanor.

No one was injured in the latest incident, but Fierro in 2008 had failed to stop after his car mowed down 46-year-old William Tenorio on Guadalupe Street after Fierro had been drinking in bars with a state police officer who was a member of then-Gov. Bill Richardson’s security detail.

District Attorney Marco Serna said Tuesday that despite the fact that Fierro had killed a man while driving drunk in the past, the prosecutor’s office was unable to charge Fierro as a repeat DWI offender because the charge he was convicted of in the earlier case — homicide by vehicle — was not technically a DWI.

Serna said the prosecutor in the earlier case was able to get the conviction based partly on proving that Fierro had been drunk that night, making his behavior reckless. But Serna said it wouldn’t have made sense to also charge the lesser offense of DWI because the charges would have been merged to prevent creating a double-jeopardy situation where Fierro could potentially have been punished twice for the same act.

Serna said he researched case law on the issue and couldn’t find any cases where a district attorney had charged both crimes.

After Fierro served his sentence for vehicular homicide, the former lawyer and congressional staffer moved to California.

While visiting New Mexico over Memorial Day weekend in 2016, he was pulled over in Española and arrested on suspicion of DWI by a New Mexico State Police officer who said he saw Fierro toss a cigarette out his car window and make an irregular lane change. The officer said Fierro had been weaving, smelled of alcohol and had bloodshot eyes. The arrest report said Fierro refused to take a breath-alcohol test and asked the officer to give him a “break.”

Fierro’s lawyer argued in pretrial motions that the traffic stop wasn’t justified and that Fierro was targeted because of his history. After those motions were denied, Fierro pleaded guilty and Santa Fe County Magistrate David Segura sentenced him to 90 days in jail but suspended all but four days, time Fierro had already served.

Fierro appealed the conviction less than a week later, but state District Judge T. Glenn Ellington denied the appeal.

Fierro did not appear for Tuesday’s sentencing hearing before Segura. His public defender, Hans Erickson, said an administrative error prevented him from notifying Fierro of the hearing until the last minute, at which point arranging travel from California would have been prohibitively expensive. The lawyer asked Segura to continue the case, allow Fierro to appear by phone or waive his appearance and impose the sentence in Fierro’s absence.

Assistant District Attorney Ihsan Ahmed opposed allowing Fierro to appear by phone or be sentenced without being present, arguing that “given Mr. Fierro’s history,” it would be in the best interest of the public for him to appear in person to be sentenced.

Erikson argued that prosecutors were taking a hard line because of Fierro’s notoriety.

“He’s a high-profile guy,” Erikson said of Fierro. “The state wouldn’t have taken this position if he was just a guy off the street.”

Serna disputed that characterization after the hearing, saying that regardless of who the defendant is, it has “much more impact” when guilty defendants hear their disposition and sentence read out by a judge.

Segura sided with the defense and imposed the same exact sentence he had pronounced before Fierro’s appeal: 90 days in jail with 86 days suspended, a year of unsupervised probation, 24 hours of community service and installation of an ignition interlock on his vehicle for a year. That sentence is in keeping with penalties for a first-time DWI offense.

WA State legislator proposes bill that would make fourth offense DUI a felony

Now that the 2015 Washington State legislative session is under way.  The annual what can we do to make DUI laws tougher here in Washington State has begin.  The latest example is a proposed bill that would make a fourth offense DUI a felony.  Currently under Washington law a felony DUI law charge applies if a driver has been convicted of a DUI four times within the past decade, essentially making a fifth offense DUI a felony.  This legislation was proposed last year, and the year before, and the year before it seems.  And it always comes back to the same thing.  Money.  Like all things it always comes back to money.  Regardless of how you feel about DUIs, and by now means do I condone drinking and driving.  But the cost of new legislation and implementing the laws means more in some cases than the idea.  Would making a fourth offense DUI a felony be a good idea.  Of course it would.  Despite being a DUI Attorney in Seattle, if a driver doesn’t learn their lesson by the third time then chances are nothing is going to help them.  At least that is my opinion.  Perhaps facing a lengthier jail sentence would cause a multiple repeat DUI offender to reconsider their choices.  The problem with this legislation is how will the bill be implemented financially.  It is not as simple as saying okay your fourth DUI is now a felony.  There are costs that need to be factored.  Probation, jail, and monitoring fees are just a few off the top of my head.  If you’re interested in an article about this new legislation here you go.  I would be surprised if this bill passed.  Again not because it is not a good idea, but we still don’t have any money here in Washington State.

Source: Seattle DUI Attorney – Leyba Defense PLLC: WA State legislator proposes bill that would make fourth offense DUI a felony

Following DUI charge, suburban high school football coach sidelined for season

Richmond-Burton High School football coach Patrick Elder won’t be on the sideline this season after being charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, but for now still has his job as athletic director, school officials said Friday.

Superintendent Tom Lind said Elder, 44, was not placed on leave at the McHenry County school after he was arrested and charged with DUI on July 15, but he will not be coaching. Lind declined further comment on Elder’s job status.

A Spring Grove police officer spotted Elder’s vehicle swerving and crossing the center line of Illinois Highway 173 just east of Clark Road, according to Spring Grove police Chief Thomas Sanders.

The officer reported a strong smell of alcohol on Elder’s breath and said he was slurring his speech and had red eyes. The officer said Elder, a Spring Grove resident, was unable to keep his balance during the field sobriety test and would not to take a breathalyzer test.

Elder posted $100 and his driver’s license and bonded out of Spring Grove jail. He is set to appear in McHenry County court Aug. 14.

According to local authorities and court records, Elder was convicted of DUI in 1992 and 1995 in downstate McLean County. For the 1995 conviction, he was sentenced to 30 days in jail and 24 months of probation.

McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally said a third DUI conviction could bring a penalty ranging from probation to a maximum of seven years in prison.

The Illinois secretary of state’s office said Elder’s license will be suspended for a year for not doing the breathalyzer. If he is convicted of DUI, he could lose it for a decade.

Lind said Elder has been with the district for 11 years and would have gone through a background check when he was hired. But Lind, who is in his first year as superintendent, said he didn’t know what that check revealed or how the district weighed that information.

Richmond-Burton High School is located in Richmond, a town just south of the Wisconsin border.

 

Marijuana DUIs Are Still Too Subjective Say Cops. Why No BreathTest?

Scientists Still Seek A Reliable DUI Test For MarijuanaListen· 5:245:24QueueDownloadEmbedTranscriptFacebookTwitterGoogle+EmailJuly 30, 20177:14 AM ETHeard on All Things ConsideredRAE ELLEN BICHELLAlthough consuming cannabis is legal in Colorado and several other states, driving while under the influence of the drug is not.Nick Pedersen/Getty ImagesThis spring, 16 state patrol officers from Colorado and Wyoming took a couple days off their usual work schedule to do something special. They assembled in a hotel conference room in Denver. As instructed, they wore street clothes for their first assignment: going shopping at nearby marijuana dispensaries.”It’s a brave new world,” said instructor Chris Halsor, referring to the years since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana.There are now more marijuana dispensaries in Colorado than there are Starbucks shops, said Halsor, a Denver lawyer and former prosecutor. And though consuming cannabis is legal across the state, driving under its influence is not.The cops in that conference room, with their buzz cuts and Mountain Dew, are all part of the force charged with keeping the roads safe. But first, they needed a formal pot education — to learn how to identify various marijuana products and paraphernalia when they pull over a driver they suspect is under the influence.Here’s the rub: Despite the increasingly legal use of cannabis in many states, cops still don’t have the equivalent of a reliable alcohol breathalyzer or blood test — a chemically based way of estimating what the drug is doing in the brain. Though a blood test exists that can detect some of marijuana’s components, there is no widely accepted, standardized amount in the breath or blood that gives police or courts or anyone else a good sense of who is impaired.Yessenia Hinojos, a budtender at a Denver cannabis dispensary called The Green Solution, describes marijuana strains to A.J. Tarantino (left) and Philip Gurley. Both men are officers with Colorado State Patrol.Rae Ellen Bichell/NPRA number of scientists nationally are working hard to create just such a chemical test and standard — something to replace the behavioral indicators that cops have to base their judgments on now.”We like to know the human error and the limitations of the human opinion,” said Tara Lovestead, a chemical engineer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colo., who is working on setting standards for what a marijuana detection test might require.It’s actually really hard for Lovestead to do this kind of research because she works in a federal lab; federally, cannabis is considered a Schedule 1 substance, “a drug with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” So even though Lovestead is in Colorado, getting hold of a sample for research purposes is just as hard as getting hold of heroin.”We cannot use the stuff down the street,” she said.Aside from being a bureaucratic mess, coming up with a standardized blood or breath test is also a really tricky chemistry problem because of the properties of the main psychoactive chemical in cannabis: delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.In states like Colorado, there is a THC blood test that law enforcement can use to show “presumed” impairment. If a person has more than 5 nanograms of delta-9-THC per milliliter of blood, a court or jury can infer that they are impaired, according to Colorado law (this is called “permissible inference” in legalese).SHOTS – HEALTH NEWSHigh On The Highway: Scientists Try To Build A Marijuana Breath TestBut Lovestead and others maintain that, scientifically speaking, that cutoff doesn’t actually mean anything.”We just don’t know whether or not that means they’re still intoxicated, or impaired or not,” she said. “There’s no quantitative measure that could stand up in a court of law.”Turns out it can be a lot harder to chemically determine from a blood or breath test that someone is high than to determine from such a test that they’re drunk.Ethanol, the chemical in alcoholic drinks that dulls thinking and reflexes is small and dissolves in water. Because humans are mostly water, it gets distributed fairly quickly and easily throughout the body and is usually cleared within a matter of hours. But THC, the main chemical in cannabis that produces some of the same symptoms, dissolves in fat. That means the length of time it lingers in the body can differ from person to person even more than alcohol — influenced by things like gender, amount of body fat, frequency of use, and the method and type of cannabis product consumed.In one study, researchers had 30 frequent marijuana users stay at a research facility for a month without any access to drugs of any sort and repeatedly tested their blood for evidence of cannabis.”And it shocked everyone, including ourselves, that we could measure, in some of these individuals, THC in the blood for 30 days,” says Marilyn Huestis, a toxicologist with the University of Maryland S

Source: Marijuana DUIs Are Still Too Subjective Say Cops. Why No BreathTest? : Shots – Health News : NPR

Want 30 Days Jail Credit ? Get a Vasectomy.

Nashville’s News Chanel Five reported yesterday of one Tennessee judge’s unusual method to reduce one’s jail sentence. White County Tennessee General Sessions Judge Sam Benningfield entered a standing court order granting 30 days of jail credit to those serving jail sentences. The catch to getting the jail credit is to agree to have a vasectomy or the have a birth control device implanted.It strikes me as an extreme abuse of judicial power. Judges in Tennessee determine the jail sentence if no plea bargain is entered into. The court holds the keys to the jail cell once a sentence is imposed. It puts the court in an unfair bargaining position. Everybody in jail wants out of jail. To force one to have themselves robbed of their ability to reproduce is a practice that should not be tolerated. To his credit, the local District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway agrees. Here is his statement from the report. District Attorney Bryant Dunaway, who oversees prosecution of cases in White County is worried the program may be unethical and possibly illegal.“It’s concerning to me, my office doesn’t support this order,” Dunaway said.“It’s comprehensible that an 18-year-old gets this done, it can’t get reversed and then that impacts the rest of their life,” he added.The American Civil Liberties Union also took a position.”Offering a so-called ‘choice’ between jail time and coerced contraception or sterilization is unconstitutional. Such a choice violates the fundamental constitutional right to reproductive autonomy and bodily integrity by interfering with the intimate decision of whether and when to have a child, imposing an intrusive medical procedure on individuals who are not in a position to reject it. Judges play an important role in our community – overseeing individuals’ childbearing capacity should not be part of that role.”In Davidson County Tennessee, it is common to work out a probation violation case on the condition that the defendant will enter a drug or alcohol program and be released upon the condition that they complete the program. This is completely different than court sanctioned sterilization. While the court’s actions may be well intended, it is simply wrong. No Tennessee law sanctions this type of conduct by the courts to reduce jail time.I suggest we watch this story and see how it develops.

Source: Want 30 Days Jail Credit ? Get a Vasectomy. : Nashville Criminal Law Report

Walks Into a Bar… Taxidermy Joke

A Yankee walks into a bar in Alabama and orders a cosmopolitan. The bartender looks at the man and says, “You’re not from ’round here are ya?””No” replies the man, “I’m from New Hampshire.” The bartender looks at him and says, “Well what do you do in New Hampshire?””I’m a taxidermist,” says the man. The bartender looks bewildered, so the man explains, “I mount dead animals.”The bartender stands back and hollers to the whole bar, “It’s OK, boys! He’s one of us!”

Source: Funny Jokes | Walks Into a Bar… Taxidermy Joke | Comedy Central

School Board member arrested, charged with driving while intoxicated at 1 a.m. Saturday

Roscoe D. Cooper III, a member of the Henrico County School Board, was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated early Saturday.

According to Sgt. Stephan Vick with Virginia State Police, Cooper, 43, was stopped just before 1 a.m. on westbound Interstate 64 just west of the Gaskins Road exit.

He was then arrested and transported to Henrico County Jail, where he posted bail at 4:30 a.m.

State police declined to release Cooper’s blood alcohol content.

Cooper, who represents the Fairfield District, was elected to the board in 2015 after winning a recount by 42 votes. He currently serves as vice chairman of the board.

“Board members are aware of Mr. Cooper’s personal situation,” said Beverly Cocke, School Board chairwoman, in a statement. “We’ll be better able to respond once more details are available. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Cooper family at this time.”

Cooper did not immediately respond to attempts to reach him.

A Richmond native, Cooper has been pastor at Rising Mount Zion Baptist Church in Henrico since 2003. He holds a bachelor’s degree in religion and philosophy and a master’s degree in divinity from Virginia Union University, along with a doctorate in divinity from Richmond Virginia Seminary.

A hearing date has not yet been set, according to online records.

70-year-old pedestrian hit by car in Springfield

The driver was later arrested for OUI and leaving a pedestrian accident

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – An elderly person is in the hospital after being hit by a car in Springfield Saturday night.

Springfield Police Sergeant John Delaney told 22News, police were called to the intersection of State and Oak Streets at 9 p.m. Saturday night for a pedestrian accident. When they arrived, they found a 70-year-old pedestrian who had been hit by a car. The driver sped off after the accident.

The victim was taken to Baystate Medical Center with serious injuries to their head and stomach area.

Police later found and arrested the driver, who was identified as 47-year-old Clinton Taylor from Springfield. He is being charged with operating under the influence and leaving a pedestrian accident.

70-year-old pedestrian hit by car in Springfield