Is it a conflict of interest for the Regional Deputy Public Defender in a region to be the son of one of the few District Court judges in that region?
The Billings media is all abuzz about a nearby small town cop who arrested someone for misdemeanor DUI and negligent endangerment after the cop shot at the guy through the windshield of his own patrol car. Yeah. Video available at the above link, w/more here and here.
Also in the local headlines, a high speed chase took another life Friday morning. There are some jurisdictions that have made it illegal for cops to pursue at high speeds in urban areas. The logic is: If you don’t chase at high speeds, people are much less likely to drive at high speeds where doing so puts many people at risk. Get the license plate, send cars ahead, monitor the suspect, and pick that person up later. Could such a tactic have saved this woman’s life? We’ll never know, but it certainly makes sense to me.
Unfortunately, it looks like the victim’s family won’t be able to sue the pursuing cops, at least it doesn’t sound like it based on this report of a 2007 SCOTUS decision on a similar issue. More comment here, w/links to what was apparently the decisve cop car video in the case, which was Scott v. Harris. Fascinating. Someday I’d love to have time to dig deeper into this, but it’s not going to be today….
For something completely different, here’s how a federal jury is picked in Billings and that “Montana is the largest geographically of the 94 judicial districts in the continental U.S.,” meaning some jurors might have to drive nearly 300 miles to appear for jury duty. Crazy. Also in the story: A potentially good voir dire question when you think race might be a factor in your case: “Do you tell jokes about minorities?” It’s amazing how many people do, which is just one reason why Judge Cebull’s claim that race “doesn’t matter to Montana juries” is naive at best. Montana is somehow the only place in the country that sees no color? Riiiiight.
Great discussion of police use of tasers on the Diane Rehm Show last week. Click over to listen to the audio of the show and learn that tasers have been involved in over 200 deaths. Some police departments are using them indiscriminately and without proper training. Plus, you can buy one for yourself on the street. Terrific. [tags]tasers[/tags]
In case you want to follow along w/the ongoing trial wherein Billings Police Officer Steve Feuerstein is suing the city of Billings:
Fun! I especially like Sgt. Mark Kirkpatrick’s admission that he “occasionally” shoots at cats along the highway on his way home from work. Character at issue, anyone?
What makes the news report my just be the tip of the iceberg…
What happens when a city cop sues his employer? You get leads like this:
Billings police officers have given false testimony in court, white-washed wrongdoing among their ranks and violated policies on dangerous pursuits with impunity because they belong to the “club,” a 20-year veteran of the agency told a District Court jury Tuesday.
“The club is the ones who get better treatment than the rest and do what they want without consequences,” Officer Terry Bechtold said during his testimony on the second day of the civil trial between Officer Steve Feuerstein and the city of Billings.
What!? You mean law enforcement officers are not saintly superhumans who can do no wrong!? I am shocked! Shocked!!!
And then you get lists of wrongdoing by individual officers like this:
Bechtold gave a laundry list of officers who he said escaped punishment for policy and ethical violations because they are among the favored “elite” within the agency. His list included:
• Detectives Blake Richardson and Mark Kirkpatrick “gave false testimony” in court, Bechtold said.
• Lt. Mark Cady had to repay the city after receiving money for a bogus online college degree.
• Sgt. R.D. Harper violated the department’s pursuit policy by hitting a suspect car with a patrol car.
• Deputy Chief Joe Bryce “covered up” an investigation into wrongdoing by an officer.
• And Chief Rich St. John took no action when given a list of officers who were accused of misconduct.
“He just shoved it under the carpet like they normally do,” the officer said.
We are so getting the transcript of this trial. I imagine it will come in quite handy the next time any one of these officers—hell, any officer in the BPD—tries to take the stand.