How do we reverse the Nation's oppressive police state of affairs? As I have blogged for over a decade, we start by shrinking the overgrown criminal justice system, starting with steps as simple as legalizing marijuana, prostitution, and gambling; heavily decriminalizing all other drugs; eliminating mandatory minimum sentencing; eliminating the death penalty; and eliminating per se guilty rules in DWI cases. Once we shrink the criminal justice system, we will be better able to balance our exorbitantly overgrown governmental budgets, and will be better able to hire, train, encourage, promote and pay performance-based bonuses and raises to the best possible police officers, not only who are the best based on ability, but on conscientiousness, honesty, devotion and conviction that policing is a necessary evil in our society that should be as free and open as possible, and that police serve the people rather than the opposite.
Momentum continues forward for Virginia criminal defendants' rights with legislation together with removal of some courthouse confederate memorials. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I applaud these forward movements and urge that they continue at a good pace. Further strides have been made for the accused in Virginia during the recent Virginia special legislative session and in removing the confederate statue at the Loudoun County courthouse grounds, a judicial decision to remove the Robert E. Lee portrait from the Louisa County circuit courtroom, and the decision to remove the Stonewall Jackson statue and confederate memorial statue from the Albermarle County courthouse grounds.
Violating a green light by waiting six seconds led to Richard Duane Joyce, Jr.'s traffic stop and subsequent conviction for DUI. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I see the appellate court's affirmance of Joyce's conviction -- Joyce v. Virginia, __ Va. App. __ (April 14, 2020) -- as enhancing a Virginia police state that needs to be dismantled. Violating a green light can happen all the more with the legions of drivers who cannot unglue themselves from text messaging and emailing at red lights (and beyond, unfortunately). How many times do we find ourselves giving a nudging honk to the car in front of us that remains motionless at a traffic light that has turned green?
Cops have extraordinary power in our overly-policed state, that stands in sharp contract to the ideal of our living in a free society in the United States. Instead, as a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know that have too much of a police state, and this week the U.S. Supreme Court made this more so by reversing the Kansas Supreme Court's invalidation of a police traffic stop that relied on nothing more than that the owner of the vehicle had a revoked license, without having any pre-stop idea whether the owner was the driver.Kansas v. Glover, ___ U.S. ___ (April 6, 2020).
As banal and even irritating as the admonition sounded when I was in public school, a person can avoid plenty of aggravation and heartache by always keeping his hands to himself, unless needed for self defense.
Jack Eugene Turner is an admitted racist who told a Franklin County, Virginia, sheriff's deputy that he hung a black person in effigy from a noose from his tree near the roadside to scare African-American people away. Turner v. Virginia, ___ Ct. App. ___ (Nov. 22, 2016).