A prosecutor said to me a few weeks ago, “Can you imagine how they treated people when they weren’t being taped.” The prosecutor was referring to some (not all) of the Maryland State Police who apparently believe the interstate is not under the jurisdiction of the United States Constitution or the Maryland Declaration of Rights. Don’t you say no to them or exercise your right to refuse to take the SFSTs, or you are going to jail. A lawyer brings me a video to watch with him as he wants me to try this case. Here what we both see. The trooper whose quote appears above is a bully. The client is stopped for speeding. The trooper goes to the passenger side of the car and stands next to the passenger who has been drinking and ask my client to pass over his license and registration. He then asks if he will take a breath test. When the client says no, the trooper argues with him and then returns to his vehicle and calls in that he is out for SFSTs. He now goes to the driver side and orders the driver out of the car. Under the Blasi case, this action is extremely questionable. The client had no problem exiting the car, walks without a problem, speaks clearly, looks fine, and stands there talking to the trooper without swaying. At the rear of the client’s car, the trooper screws up the HGN so badly, it would take 2 extra paragraphs to describe it. Suffice it to say he gave about 1/3 of the test. THEN he asks if my client is wearing contacts, and finds out my client has an eye disorder that he has seen his eye doctor that week. Icing on the cake. What follows next is why either the Maryland State Police will rip video cameras out of the car, or begin training troopers under American law and not Saudi Arabian.Trooper Bully tells the client, “stand right there and turn around and face your car.” The client asks if this is a DUI test and is told yes. The client says he is not comfortable doing any tests. The trooper then orders him 3 more times to “stand right there and turn around and face your car”. The client is told “if you don’t take the tests you get arrested.” When the client finally turns around, the trooper begins giving directions. The road is noisy as they are on the “Saudi Arabian” interstate. The client leans in to hear the trooper who responds with: “Listen to me. Don’t give me a hard time, ok. I’m not in any mood for you to give me a hard time. Do you understand me.” At that point I start screaming at the trooper who is on the screen of my IMAC. He cannot hear me, although the lawyer watching with me concurs. The poor client who is just standing there and never raised his voice or acted disrespectfully is in full shock. SURPRISE, he gets arrested. He then gets threatened again that if he is disrespectful (which he has never been), he won’t be released. Instead he will go to the commissioner and may be sent to the Detention Center. The trooper shows up in court and is the antithesis of what he is like on tape. He is calm, mild, inquisitive, and shocked that he screwed up. He even wants to know what he did wrong. I try to explain it to him, but apparently flash back to the video on the IMAC and how I was screaming at him then, and lose my delicate touch. I am sent to the corner while my co-counsel makes nice. The DUI charges are dropped so that the trooper does not have to be a complete fool of in court. The Judge was perfect for the case and would have been, to put it mildly, “displeased” with the trooper, and he might have had to go to the corner as well.
The answer to the prosecutor’s question is that I cannot imagine how much worse they could have treated citizens before cameras. We may find out, if they choose to put their behavior back in the dark.