GENERAL BILL by Rep. Planas
Driving Under the Influence: Requires that a defendant charged with driving under the influence be held in custody until a first appearance hearing; requires specified investigation prior to and presentation of findings at such a hearing; specifies factors to be considered in determining whether to grant pretrial release; prohibits release of a defendant after a first appearance hearing until specified conditions are met.
Effective Date: July 1, 2006.
Last Event: Withdrawn prior to introduction on Thursday, January 05, 2006 1:39 PM
Representative JC Planas proposed the above bill to the Florida Legislature (The Tallahassee Lassies, or lap-dogs, which ever you prefer.)
Get the full text here of Plana’s pandering for MADD votes, by searching “bills” and then “Planas”.
What you won’t find while searching for the full text of the bill are the hands behind this MADD bill. Not surprisingly you will find the Dade State Attorneys Office, and their County Court Chief.
Surprisingly however (although many say they are not surprised) , people are making serious allegations that you will also find the hands of Chief County Court Criminal Divison Judge Sam “lock em up” Slom.
If and only if this allegation is true: and that is a big IF (we are giving the Judge the benefit of the doubt here) then....
What in the name of John Ashscroft is a sitting Judge doing conspiring, combining and confederating with The State Attorneys Office to get a bill passed that will make it more difficult for people arrested for DUI to bond out?
If Judge Slom did not help write the bill and work with the State to get it introduced, then he has nothing to answer for. However, if he did help the State lobby for the bill, then we think he has a lot to answer for.
Lets play pretend: Pretend the bill passed, and we will fast forward to a Saturday bond hearing sometime next year.
A young woman and her 7 year old son sit with their attorney in the bond hearing courtroom on the 5th Floor. Her husband was arrested Thursday night by Officer Closius after he left his second job as a bartender. Closius wrote in the report that he noticed the strong odor of alcoholic beverages on the Defendant. Closius ignored the Defendant’s explanation that he weaved a little because he works two jobs and only sleeps 5 hours night.
The woman is worried because the man was fired from his Janitors job for not showing up for work Friday, and she is not sure how she is going to pay the attorney, post bond, and make rent next month.
The bailiff walks in and says “all rise” and in strolls Judge Slom.
The attorney frowns.
The woman whispers :”do you know this Judge?”
The attorney sadly nods. “Yes, he was the person who along the prosecutor’s office wrote the new DUI law that prevented your Husband from being released from Jail yesterday.”
Astonished, the woman asks, her voice rising above a whisper: “How is he going to be fair? He’s the one who wrote the law making it more difficult for people like my husband to bond out?”
”I’m afraid so" says the attorney. "And MADD gave him an award a few months ago to boot.”
Florida Judicial Cannons of Ethics:
CANNON 2: A Judge Shall Avoid Impropriety, and the Appearance of Impropriety
in all of the Judge's Activities.
Lets look at this another way. Governor Bush falls off his dirt bike while riding with his brother and hits his head. In a daze, he appoints Richard Hersch to the County Court. (For this scenario, the cheap shot is against the Governor. He would never appoint anyone so qualified and reasonable and experienced. We know Mr. Hersch would make a great judge.)
And lets say, Judge Hersch, following Judge Slom’s example, meets with Bennett Brummer and the President of the FACDL and they draft legislation amending the DUI law to remove the presumption of impairment for people driving with a Blood Alcohol level above a .08.
“Presumptions against criminal defendants are unconstitutional” writes Judge Hersch. Hersch and company find a sympathetic legislator, and the bill is submitted.
The following Monday the State Attorneys Office storms to Judge Slom, who happens to be having coffee in their office anyway, and demands Judge Hersch be removed from the criminal bench.
“How can we have confidence that the State will get a fair trial before Judge Hersch when he is lobbying against the laws we enforce?” they whine.
The point is that Judges can engage in activity "to improve the law, the legal system and the administration of justice." So says Cannon 4 of the Cannon’s of Judicial Ethics.
But Cannon 2 requires the Judge to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
IF- and this is a BIG IF: Judge Lock em up Slom worked with the prosecution to write and/or promote the new proposed bill, then his activities give the appearance of bias against people arrested for DUI. We would be hard pressed to find any way Judge Slom could continue to sit in criminal court while working for enactment of stricter DUI laws. In fact, just working with the State Attorneys Office (or the PD's Office) on any proposed bill would give any Judge the appearance of impropriety.
Some may say that there is a flaw in the system that allows certain Defendants to bond out prior to a court hearing. That is not a Judge's concern. A Judge's job is to apply the law as written.
Isn't this what conservatives whine about all the time? Activist Judges? Don't the conservatives sing and dance that it is up to citizens to work with the legislature to enact new laws, and for Judges to merely interpret those laws? Or is it OK for a Judge to be an activist as long as s/he is an activist for the "right" (right wing) causes?
We think that there may be another more sinister side to this.
If Judge Slom has created an appearance of impropriety regarding DUI bonds, then he should never sit on a bond hearing calendar again.
And what an ingenious way for a Judge to avoid that Sunday New Years Day Bond Duty!!!! Judge Slom may just be a genius!!! (At least we give credit where it is due.)
Seriously, it would be nice if Judge Slom could respond to this. This blog has published this post based on reports from several disgruntled attorneys. So at the very least, Judge Slom should know he is the subject of a troubling allegation.
We are not sure what, if anything Judge Slom actually did. But other attorneys think Judge Slom has been actively working for a new strict DUI law.
We are willing to give Judge Slom the benefit of presuming him innocent of any wrongdoing until it is proven otherwise.
Which is more than a person arrested for DUI would get under the proposed legislation.
See You In Court.