Monthly Archives: September 2010

Local Roundabouts Show No Spike in Crashes/Injuries, BUT . . .

Early data from the state Department of Transportation (DOT) shows there hasn’t been a spike in crashes since the new roundabouts in Whatcom County were constructed.  Of the accidents that have occurred, none have resulted in injuries, unlike many of the crashes before when traffic signals controlled some of the intersections.

My opinion?  Yes, the data appears good.  However, I’m concerned that police use roundabouts to conduct unlawful/pretextual pullovers for DUI.  “Pretext” is the arrest of a person for a minor crime (as a traffic violation) for the real purpose of getting an opportunity to investigate (as through a search) the person’s possible involvement in a more serious crime for which there are no lawful grounds to make an arrest.  Pretextual stops are unlawful.

Navigating a roundabout is confusing for inexperienced drivers.  The four most common mistakes people make are (1) not yielding to traffic already in the roundabout, (2) not using their blinkers, (3) changing lanes in the roundabout, which is not allowed; and (4) treating the yield signs entering roundabouts as stop signs.

Any one of these common mistakes can cause a police officer to intitiate an unlawful pretextual pullover.

Let’s see data on whether DUI stops increase in roundabout areas . . .

Study Shows How the Innocent Confess to Crimes

New research shows how people who were apparently uninvolved in a crime could provide such a detailed account of what occurred, allowing prosecutors to claim that only the defendant could have committed the crime.

An article in the Stanford Law Review written by Professor Garrett of the Virginia School of Law draws on trial transcripts, recorded confessions and other background materials to show how incriminating facts got into those confessions — by police introducing important facts about the case, whether intentionally or unintentionally, during the interrogation.

Professor Garrett said he was surprised by the complexity of the confessions he studied. “I expected, and think people intuitively think, that a false confession would look flimsy,” like someone saying simply, “I did it,” he said.   Instead, he said, “almost all of these confessions looked uncannily reliable,” rich in telling detail that almost inevitably had to come from the police. “I had known that in a couple of these cases, contamination could have occurred,” he said, using a term in police circles for introducing facts into the interrogation process. “I didn’t expect to see that almost all of them had been contaminated.”

My opinion?  To defense lawyers, the new research is eye opening. In the past, if somebody confessed, that was the end.  You couldn’t imagine going forward.  Although the confession is heresay, which is generally an out-of-court styatement made to prove the truth of the matter asserted, there are over 20 exceptions to the hearsay rule.  Bottom line, a judge typically allows juries to hear confessions.

This new research calls upon defense attorneys to investigate the conditions under which the confession took place.  Was the confession recorded?  How long was it?  Was the defendant rested?  Under the influence?  Did the defendant request an attorney?  Important questions, all of them . . .

Whatcom County Cops Bust 63 Drivers In Latest DUI Campaign

Pre-holidays, no less.

Whatcom County law enforcement agencies arrested 63 people for allegedly driving drunk during the latest enforcement campaign, which started Aug. 12 and ended Sept. 6.

Statewide, officers from 176 agencies arrested 2,672 drivers in the “Drive Hammered, Get Nailed” campaign, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

Officers, deputies and troopers from the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, the Washington State Patrol and the Bellingham, Ferndale and Western Washington University police departments participated in the campaign.

Study Contends Pot Isn’t a Major “Gateway Drug”

See?  I told you . . .

A new report casts doubt on the argument that marijuana is a “gateway drug” that plays a major role in leading people to try other illegal drugs.  Researchers found that other factors, such as ethnicity and stress levels, are more likely to predict whether young adults will use other illegal drugs.

The researchers based their findings on surveys of 1,286 young adults who attended Miami-area public schools in the 1990s.  Ethnicity was the best predictor of future illegal drug use, the study findings indicated, with whites the most likely to use the drugs, followed by Hispanics and then blacks.

The study findings are published in the September issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

My opinion?  gateway this, gateway that . . . it’s all rubbish!  Alcohol is, hands-down, the biggest “gateway drug” available to mankind.  You can’t hang the “gateway” label on marijuana.  Truth is, there’s no single answer to why people become addicted.