Gary S. Bernstein, P.A.

Call Toll-Free: 866-435-2795

Locally at: 410-415-9219

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Hide the ball trick does not work.  Three years ago I wrote a Blog about a police officer who I caught lying in his FIRST CASE!  I have kept the video from that case on my IPad and the original tape and written report in a binder waiting to see if I would get a "return match" with this officer.  Well a few months ago a new client comes in and I recognize the officer's name, walk over to file boxes across from my desk, grab a blue binder sitting on top of them, and open it to the first stack of papers and tapes and it is the same guy.

There is no mention of a video in this client's paperwork but I KNOW there is one.  We get to court 2 weeks ago and when the officer arrives I ask him where is the video.  He tells me he and his supervisor looked for it, but the DVD in the car must have been full and the stop was not recorded.  I remind him who I was and he remembered his first case.  I don't believe him and move to dismiss the case and explain to the Judge, the prosecutor, and a courtroom of police, lawyers, and defendants that I have him on video and on paper committing perjury in 2014 and I don't believe for a moment that the video in this case does not exist.

After 2 recesses and the Judge ordering the prosecutor to personally speak to the supervisor, THERE IS A VIDEO!  However it is housed in a building that will require an hour to drive to and find.  The case is reset to today to give me my video.  Did anyone reading this get it?  I didn't either. Instead of the officer bringing it to court, a supervisor somewhere else emailed the State that he had it and would get me a copy next week.  The judge was too through with this bullshit, and gave the State 40 minutes to get it to court as she had ordered 2 weeks ago.  The new prosecutor on the case calls the supervisor who sent the email, but he is no where to be found, nor is the video.  

Without the video she is going to give me an inference that the video would be  favorable to my client.  Now the police report description of my client's field tests was not bad and incredibly vague (meaning he did really well).  At that point we agree to plead to 2 payable citations and pay $115.50 fines and costs.  The officer is probably happier than my client as he dodged a blood letting on cross-examination.  I blogged before to make sure you retain a lawyer who will watch the video.  Make sure you retain one who will DEMAND the video.

i just got a really nice card from a client who had multiple drug and alcohol issues.  His father passed a way a few years ago and he got lost in grief.  It took 2 cases to get him on track.  Here is what he wrote:

 

"Thank you for giving me a second chance to get my life back together.  A learning lesson indeed.  I got my job back.  My boss told me he believes in second chances."

Your foster son,

 

He was finally ready to get help and he did.  He deserves all the credit.  He knows that I will alwys be there to help.  

 

 

 

 

That is a phrase my former partner used years ago when he set a fee and the potential client said he or she knew a cheaper lawyer.  I started writing this a couple months ago but thought I would finish it today.  The particular case that generates this was an Ex Parte involving an allegation of Child Abuse.  The mother filed it in Somerset County as that is where it allegedly occurred.  The mother lives in Howard County.  The judge found no abuse and dismissed the Petition.  The statute allows ONLY for an appeal to be filed in the County where the original Petition was heard.  You cannot  file a valid new Petition elsewhere, only Somerset County has jurisdiction- it is in black and white in the statute.  The mother files a NEW Petition in the Circuit Court for Somerset County and it is heard and Dismissed by the trail judge as only an Appeal is allowed.  The mother then files an Appeal.  The Appeal will the be heard in Circuit Court, unless you have paid peanuts.

The mother now files a new Petition in Howard County. The mother also hires a lawyer in Howard County.   Instead of dismissing the improperly filed Howard County Petition (that is virtually verbatim of the Somerset County Petition) and taking his lazy ass to Somerset County to try the Appeal which is de novo ( meaning a new trial), he dismisses the Somerset County Appeal.   I emailed the lawyer the night before and explained the law to him and he emails back stating he did not need me to educate him.  Apparently he did.  I wanted to save my people from driving all the way from Somerset to Ellicott City. We show up and the judge dismisses the Howard County petition because she has no jurisdiction to hear it- jurisdiction is in Somerset County for the Appeal only that he dismissed! 

It gets worse, we walk out of courtroom and try to make arrangements for the return of the child, and the lawyer says he is filing a NEW PETITION based on newly discovered evidence.  Well we come back a week later and not only is there no newly discovered evidence, the evidence he claims he had was bizarre and unbelievable.  Before I could move for dismissal, he does.  All he had to do was go to Somerset County and he could have retried the Appeal with the original evidence and anything else he thought he might have.  My guess is he did not want to drive there.  He is one of the low fee advertising lawyers.  I took him to task years ago for not doing his own work and relying on the list serve to save his clients.  He even called me at home incredulous that I had given him a public spanking.  He deserved it then and deserves it now, but I will not use his name.  Just remember my former partner's admonition.   

 

You may be surprised to learn that when you are drinking you don't remember much of what went on in your interaction with the police. You knew it at the time, but recollecting it in my office is a different story.  That is why the Body Cam is invaluable.  Now if you pay peanuts, you get a monkey, meaning you get a lawyer who is going to do the least amount of work possible- sometimes none except to show up and plead you guilty to whatever the State wants.  The Body Cam is not being sent automatically and you have to follow up and ask.  Sometimes you win the case because of it, or sometimes you suppress the breath test.  Suppression was what happened last week.

My client could not believe what I told the client I was watching.  The client reacted to the police behavior at the time, but did not remember it later.  First of all NO ONE watched the client for the full 20 minutes preceding the test. The client was left on her own part of the time.  Worse, while the officer was doing his paperwork with his back to her, a second officer walked over to her and told her the judge would go easier if she took the test!!!  Absolutely results in suppression.  I gave the judge an opening statement, and after rolling her eyes she said she thought she should view the video now to see if we could deal with the breath test suppression up front.  I also gave her the email I sent to the prosecutor two nights before after I finished watching it.  The email outlined the exact times on the video that the police did something wrong. I did not go home until I watched it and sent the email, criminal defense is not a 9 to 5 profession.  The judge watch where I told her and returned and threw the breath test out.  The case was resolved for the lesser offense of DWI.  That was a win.
 

I have once again been fortunate to make the lists.  As I wrote in the past, it does not mean anything unless you do the work for each client.

I just returned from court after a Not Guilty verdict in a DUI.  There were 14 Body Cams but only one that was diapositive.  That Body Cam showed my client at his car and the subsequent field sobriety testing.  The officer's report was 100% accurate, but there is a difference in how you visualize the written word as compared to what you actually see.  Small "failures" are not really failures.  

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In the past few months I have had 3 DUI cases dropped by the State.  All were flawed as a result of the poor policing in the cases.  The most recent had a video showing the officer did not do what was in the police report.  Prior to his having a video camera, I had used his KGA Broadcast to get another of his DUI arrests dismissed.  The one two weeks ago had no basis for the stop, and but for my client's notoriety, he would not have been arrested, must less charged with resisting arrest.

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A drug charge was dismissed today because the search of the car that found the drugs was not conducted properly.  There was one Body Cams.  The first officer picked up the box with the drugs and placed it back in the car.  The second officer did not have a Body Cam and claimed he found the drugs in "plain view."  He was unaware of the Body Cam.

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The criteria for bail has been changed because Attorney General Frosh found that the system of cash bail is unfair to minorities and the poor.  Our Attorney General has been a champion for those in the State who are without power and who areb unfairly targeted, wither by the courts or big pharma, or big business.  His work to revise this system is to be commended, and as a result the Chief Judge of the District Court set forth a set of rules to be used to set bail.  The Court of Appeals followed that up with a Rule where cash is no longer king, and is a last resort.  By cash I mean having to pay a bondsman up to 10% of the bail amount.

Interestingly, there was a comfort for judges to set a high bail for serious crimes.  Telephone number size bails seemed to assuage the bench and the public.  Unless you were charged with murder or rape, you were likely to have a bail set.  If your family was fortunate to own real estate in Maryland, part or all of the bail could be posted by pledging the property.

Now that is not the case.  The way the new Rule is practiced by the bench, it is an all or nothing proposition for release.  Since if you are "entitled" to bail the least onerous conditions are to be set, Pre-Trial Release is the preferred method.  It requires monitoring by the Pre-Trial Release Division and they or the prosecutor can apply to have the release revoked for good cause.  However, if you are deemed a danger to public safety you are denied bail.  No longer is a $250,000.00 or $500,000.00 bail set to try to keep you in jail while still honoring the 8th Amendment prohibition on excessive bail.  No bail is as excessive as you can get as you cannot get out of jail.

No bail is now the rule rather than the exception.  The other day at District Court Bail Review, if the accused's crime presented a "danger" the accused was denied bail.  No matter how intrinsically shallow the evidence was in the Statement of Probable Cause, if there was a "threat to Public safety", then there was no bail.  One judge has remarked to me that either you get released on your own recognizance or you are denied bail.  There does not seem to be a middle ground.  

The change that was first advocated by the Attorney General and adopted by the Court of Appeals was and is the right thing to do.  Unfortunately it has resulted in cases of injustice because it is easier to justify keeping someone in jail as opposed to setting terms of release.

I watched a disaster today in Carroll County District Court.  A Pennsylvania resident with a PA driver's license got a DUI and blew a .10.  Instead of requesting a Hearing and getting a 6 month restricted license that would allow her to drive to her Maryland job, her lawyer told her to get the Interlock installed.  NO!  Under our regulations, that I believe are unconstitutional, YOU MUST HAVE A MARYLAND DRIVER'S LICENSE TO BE ON THE INTERLOCK PROGRAM.  The woman in this case put it on her car and is driving in MD.  The judge announced to her and her lawyer that she has been suspended by the MVA for 6 months according to her driving record  The glazed look in their eyes was sickening to see.  I told the lawyer to wait for me in the hallway so I could try to help.

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Contact Information

  • Gary S. Bernstein, P.A.
  • 29 W. Susquehanna Avenue, Suite 700
  • Towson, Maryland 21204
  • Toll Free: 866-435-2795
  • Locally: 410-415-9219
  • Fax: 410-823-0610

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