Actress Jamie Pressly Arrested for DWI

Jamie Pressly DWIActress Jamie Pressly was arrested in Santa Cruz, CA around 11 pm on January 5 for driving while intoxicated. The actress blew a BAC level of .22, roughly three times the legal limit of .08.

Police pulled Pressly over for a routine traffic violation, at which point officers suspected she might be under the influence.

Pressly is famous for her role on TV’s “My Name is Earl,” a role for which she won an Emmy. The 33-year-old actress spent the night in jail and was released on a $15,000 bond.

In Minnesota, driving with a BAC level of greater than .20 is considered an aggravating factor, and can increase the degree of DWI issued. If arrested in Minnesota, Pressly’s DWI charge would’ve likely been bumped from a 4th degree misdemeanor to a 3rd degree gross misdemeanor.

Pressly is married to entertainment lawyer Simran Singh. Hopefully her husband can recommend a good criminal defense attorney.

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Milwaukee Punishers: Rogue Cops on the Prowl

Milwaukee PunishersDocuments released by the Milwaukee Police Department in early January revealed that, for the past 6 years, the department has been investigating a rumored group of vigilante officers known as “The Punishers.” Taking their cues from comic book vigilante, The Punisher, a group of rogue Milwaukee police officers have supposedly been taking the law into their own hands.

The officers in question allegedly wear black gloves, and hats bearing a white skull; some even have skull tattoos. The group was first investigated in 2005 after Frank Jude Jr. was a victim of police brutality. Jude was accused of stealing a wallet with a badge in it at an off-duty police party. Off-duty officers beat Jude into submission, kicking him in the head and groin, jamming pens in his ears, and threatening him with knives and guns. Jude, a bi-racial man, also claims the officers used racial slurs during the beating. No badge was ever found.

This attack prompted the first investigation of the group. Capt. James Galezewski investigated the group in 2005, and again in 2007. After both investigations, Galezewski concluded that the group was a danger to the public well-being, and warranted further investigation. As a consequence of the 2005 investigation, nine officers were fired.

“This is a group of rogue officers within our agency who I would characterize as brutal and abusive,” Galezewski wrote in his 2007 report.

Despite Galezewski’s findings, an internal investigation following the Jude case offered no mention of The Punishers. The group was investigated again in 2008 by a different commander who concluded that the rumors of the group could not be confirmed. The new investigator did not consult Galezewski about his former investigations.

“Police brutality such as this is an offense to society as a whole,” says Criminal Trial Lawyer, Avery Appelman. “By not protecting and serving, these officers are abusing the trust given to them by the people. These types of vigilante figures are glorified in comic books and movies; but in real life, they are downright terrifying.”

The Milwaukee Punishers could still be at large, administering their own brand of justice in the city.

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Anoka County Implements New Plan to Halt Domestic Violence

Anoka Domestic ViolenceAnoka County is implementing a plan of action to reduce domestic abuse. This “immediate risk assessment program” is aimed at providing quicker help to those involved in domestic abuse cases. The program is backed by a $40,000 federal grant to help pay for training and additional personnel. Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth already have similar programs.

Anoka has a staggering amount of domestic abuse cases. Last year, the county attorney’s office prosecuted 160 felony domestic assault cases. Additionally, 75% of the county’s last homicides were a direct result of domestic disputes.

The program aims to bring immediate physical aid to victims, and also hopes to bring cases to trial more expediently, because a victim is more likely to rescind testimony if their case is postponed for weeks or months.

On average, 1,500 people die from domestic violence per year in the U.S. 50 percent of these people had contact with police, but only 4 percent sought services. That is why this initiative favors referring victims of severe domestic abuse to services like the Alexandra House in Blaine.

“It’s better for the victim if they can empower themselves,” says Paul Young, head of the violent crime unit of the Anoka County attorney’s office. “We always operated under the model that putting offenders in jail provides the best safety to the victim. But studies show real long-term safety comes when the victims get services.”

Similar programs in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth have already been hugely successful.

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2010 Ends with Lowest Minneapolis Crime Rates in Decades

Minneapolis Crime RateThe 2010 Crime Rate in Minneapolis dropped to the lowest the city has seen since the 1980s. Violent crime has been declining for the past four years and 2010 marks some of the lowest rates yet.

A string of violent homicides in early 2010 threatened to push the numbers up, but on the whole violent crimes were down significantly.

“We’re getting better information, we’re better trained, and we’ve got better tools than ever to make Minneapolis safer,” Minneapolis Police Chief, Tim Dolan said in a news release.

Minneapolis police accomplished this dip in crime by taking a “predictive approach,” strategically targeting specific areas known for high crime rates. In July, law enforcement agencies adopted a coordinated plan to target gun violence in certain hot spots. In the past, at the start of each week officers were given crime statistics from the previous week. Now they are handed color-coded maps outlining locations where they should expect the most crime. Minneapolis police also have 1,500 video cameras monitoring the city that officers use to keep their eyes on crime even when they’re not physically present.

Project Exile, a partnership between the Minneapolis Police Department and the U.S. attorney’s office, has also played a large role in the crime dip. The initiative targeted repeat felons who were arrested for breaking gun possession laws. Consequently, several career criminals were sentenced to 15 years in prison.

As a result of these strategies, gun violence declined by 23 percent in the second half of the year. Violent crimes dropped by 5.2 percent from 2009. Aggravated assault, robbery, and rape statistics are all down between 3 and 7 percent from last year. Homicides are up slightly, but the past three years collectively have seen the lowest murder rates since the 1980s.

Do you feel safer on the streets of Minneapolis?

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Greg Carr on Trial for Running Multi-Million Dollar Miami Prostitution Ring

Greg Carr Miami CompanionsOn January 8, 2011 prosecutors were ordered to hand over a “black book” computer disc naming 30,000 names linked to a Florida prostitution ring. The ring in question was based in Florida but extended to other major U.S. cities such as Chicago and Detroit, as well as Mexico and Costa Rica.

The primary suspect on trial is Greg Carr (aka Paul Cutlass), who has been charged with running the decade-long, multi-million dollar prostitution ring. Also involved is Carr’s ex-wife, Laurie, the Madame of the operation.

Laurie Carr has made a plea deal with the prosecution and will be the key witness against her former husband. If she cooperates, Madame Carr will face a 12 month prison sentence. Greg Carr, on the other hand, faces a multitude of charges that could yield 20 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.

Through his company, Miami Companions, Carr rented extravagant beach houses all over the country and set up prostitution transactions, wherein clients exchanged money for sex. The company charged $500 or more per hour for their services and, at its high point, arranged 100 appointments per day. This led to incredible revenues and a lavish lifestyle for the Carrs. That is, until the ring was busted wide open by police last July.

Judge Arthur Tarnow ordered prosecutors to hand over the “black book” to the defense provided that its contents are not copied, or shared with anyone other than the defendant (Greg Carr). The prosecution was reluctant to hand the information over to the defense out of fear for the clients named within. Many of these people will be testifying and, in sensitive cases such as this, witness intimidation is always a concern.

The trial date has been set for March 22, 2011.

“Miami Companions was not a traditional pimp/prostitute system like the recently busted Minneapolis Somali Prostitution Ring,” says Criminal Trial Lawyer, Avery Appelman. “This was a high end service that women willingly sought out because of the good pay. Is this what we really want to be spending our tax dollars on when there are much worse cases of child exploitation and prostitution?”

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2,400 MN DWIs Issued in December

December DWIs in MinnesotaA few weeks ago we reported on the staggering number of DWIs issued in the first half of December. Well the rest of the numbers are in, and it appears that nearly 2,500 DWIs were issued in MN during the month of December.

The increased DWI enforcement was part of a month long, state-wide initiative aimed at reducing alcohol-related road accidents. The campaign continued through New Year’s Eve and was supported by $350,000 in federal funding to pay for 7,000 extra hours of enforcement.

400 law enforcement agencies were involved in the initiative. With 315 agencies reporting, the total number of MN DWIs issued in December comes to roughly 2,400.

Last year in Minnesota, 140 people died and 400 were injured in drunk-driving accidents. These figures have been decreasing over the past several years and experts at the DPS cite DWI enforcement campaigns as being integral to this decline.

“Minnesota roads are far from safe when you consider these DWI arrest numbers,” says Minnesota State Patrol officer Lt. Eric Roeske. “Many people made a selfish and dangerous decision to drive impaired. The good news is law enforcement officers were able to stop these motorists before damage was done.”

The increased DWI enforcement campaign will continue through the end of September in the 13 Minnesota counties that have had the highest alcohol-related accidents in the past few years: Anoka; Carver; Dakota; Hennepin; Itasca; Olmsted; Ramsey; Rice; St. Louis; Scott; Stearns; Washington; and Wright.

“These numbers actually aren’t that staggering,” says Criminal Defense Attorney, Avery Appelman. “There are roughly 42,000 DWI arrests per year in Minnesota. That equates to about 3,500 each month. If anything, this increased DWI enforcement campaign led to a slightly below average month in terms of DWI arrests. The bottom line is this: we keep upping the laws and enforcement tactics, but people are still driving drunk. So what’s the solution? No one really knows.”

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Texting While Driving Part 2 of 2: Defenses

Texting While Driving in MinnesotaWelcome back to the second and final installment of Appelman Law Firm’s “Texting While Driving” blog series. Last week we outlined the Laws and Consequences of texting and driving in Minnesota. Now we’ll explore some of the issues with enforcing the law, and the possible defenses against a texting while driving criminal charge.

Texting while driving has been proven to increase the risk of car accidents. This is why many states, including Minnesota, have adopted laws to discourage the activity. The intentions of the law are good, but its biggest problem is the question of how to go about enforcing it.

Say a police officer pulls someone over because he witnesses them texting while driving. What’s to stop that person from deleting their text messages and stashing their phone before the officer approaches the vehicle? In this scenario the officer has no hard evidence unless he happened to snap a picture of that person committing the offense.

Even if the driver failed to delete his/her text history before being pulled over, the officer has no right to seize the driver’s cell phone. The driver can simply refuse to surrender his personal property to the officer. Only in extreme circumstances (such as a severe crash) can an officer obtain a search warrant for a driver’s phone.

Police officers in the 24 states that currently have texting while driving bans are finding it difficult to enforce the law. “It’s really tough to tell if someone is texting while they’re driving because there’s no device for us to tell. Everything is visual,” says George Basar, Police Chief of Howell, MI.

These enforcement difficulties make a texting while driving offense very defendable. Since it is based so heavily on the subjective view points of police officers, such a charge would be incredibly difficult to prove in court.

“The burden on the state to thoroughly prove a texting while driving charge is immense,” says Criminal Defense Lawyer, Avery Appelman. “Unless an officer seizes an offender’s cell phone (which they can’t do without a warrant), the charge is entirely based on visual testimony. It seems that this law, like many, is ripe with loopholes.”

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Wrongly Accused Michigan Man Receives $1.8 Million in Sexual Assault Case Settlement

Wendrow Sexual AssaultIn 2008 West Bloomfield police arrested Julian Wendrow for allegedly raping his 14-year-old autistic daughter. Now, three years later, the Michigan township insurance carrier has agreed to pay a settlement of $1.8 million to the Wendrow family and their attorney for a wrongful-arrest suit.

Following his arrest, Julian spent 88 days in jail and faced a maximum of life imprisonment. His wife, Thal Wendrow, was accused of allowing the sexual assaults to happen and could’ve incurred decades of prison time.

The only evidence against the Wendrows was a written statement from their daughter (who has the brain capacity of a 2-year-old) alleging that her father had been raping her since she was 7-years-old while her mother watched. The daughter wrote the statement through a method called “facilitated communication,” wherein a school aide helped the daughter type the statement on a computer.

Despite this written statement, several physical examinations showed no signs of abuse to the girl. When the case was brought to court, the daughter testified through facilitated communication. Her credibility quickly diminished when she could not answer even the most basic questions, such as the color of her own shirt.

With such unfounded evidence, the case fell apart in March 2008, three months after police arrested Mr. Wendrow.

“They nearly sent an innocent man to prison for life,” said Deb Gordon, the Wendrows’ attorney. “They pushed this thing in spite of literally having no evidence of any kind of abuse, other than this facilitated communication nonsense, which is in effect, a Ouija board.”

Shortly after Mr. Wendrow’s arrest, it was revealed that police tried to coerce a confession from the Wendrows’ 13-year-old son, who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome. The interrogating officer claimed to have videos of Julian and his son sexually assaulting the girl. The detective later admitted to lying about obtaining said videos.

On Tuesday, January 11, it was announced that the Wendrows and their attorney will share a settlement of $1.8 million from the township’s insurance carrier. But it won’t stop there. The Wendrows are continuing their lawsuit against the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office, the Walled Lake Consolidated Schools, and the Michigan Department of Human Services. In a cowardly move, these defendants cited governmental immunity and asked the judge to dismiss their case.

“This is a truly shocking story of police and prosecutorial overreach,” says Criminal Defense Attorney, Avery Appelman. “Especially with criminal sexual conduct cases such as this, prosecutors have an obsession with obtaining a conviction at all costs, regardless of the lack of evidence. The prosecutors and police officers involved in this case should be sanctioned and forced to pay a personal price for the grievous acts they committed. It is not right that they are allowed to hide behind their governmental titles.”

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Lindsay Lohan Suspected of Criminal Battery

Lindsay Lohan Criminal BatteryActress Lindsay Lohan is in the limelight once again for charges relating to a December 12 altercation with Betty Ford Center rehab technician, Dawn Holland. Lohan allegedly returned with her roommates to the Betty Ford Rehabilitation Center ten minutes past curfew, a little after 1:00 am, and was immediately questioned by Holland and asked to submit to a breathalyzer. Lohan refused, became angry, and attacked Holland—pushing her, grabbing a phone from her, and twisting her wrist. Holland claims that Lohan snuck out of the facility.

After two DWI arrests in 2007 and a multitude of subsequent probation violations, the troubled actress voluntarily checked-in to the Betty Ford Rehab Center. This deal required that Lohan refrain from breaking any laws while on probation, at the risk of accruing jail time. She entered the facility in September 2010, and left the first week of January 2011. She must continue to submit to drug and alcohol tests and remain clean until February 25, or face six months in jail.

After a two week investigation, police think they have enough evidence to turn Lohan’s battery charge over to prosecutors, who will ultimately decide whether or not to file a criminal case.

Dawn Holland has since been fired from the Betty Ford Center for naming patients and releasing confidential information in an interview with TMZ. Holland is still adamant about pressing charges against Lohan.

If prosecutors do decide to charge Lohan with Battery, it could have a very negative impact on her case. Such a conviction would be viewed as a violation of Lohan’s parole and would likely land her in jail.

“Holland clearly has an alterior motive,” says Criminal Defense Attorney, Avery Appelman. “She was paid by TMZ for her story, and I assume that money was more than enough to risk the loss of her job, which happened because she violated patient HIPPA rights. Both Holland and the Betty Ford Center are liable for monetary damages. I would also argue that information gleaned from the violation of a patient’s right to privacy may not be used against them in a criminal proceeding.”

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Author of Pedophile How-to Book Unlawfully Arrested

Philip Greaves Pedophile bookPhilip Ray Greaves II, the author of what some are calling “The Pedophile’s Guide,” was arrested by Florida officials last week in a gross violation of his fundamental right to free speech.

On Monday, December 20, Grady Judd, the Polk County Sheriff filed an obscenity charge against Greaves, author of the now infamous The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure: a Child-lover’s Code of Conduct. In his book, Greaves includes descriptions of sexual encounters from a child’s point of view, arguing that pedophiles are misunderstood.

The book gained national coverage after a dizzying stir caused to remove the book from its site. Sheriff Judd—a long-time advocate against child predators—pursued the arrest, stating Greaves violated Florida’s obscenity law when he sold a copy of the book to an undercover deputy and shipped it to Polk County. The author now faces a third-degree felony charge, punishable by up to five years in state prison. Judd sent deputies to arrest Greaves in Colorado. Greaves waived extradition and was taken to Polk County Court where he is being held on a $15,000.00 bond.

“I do not agree with the content of this book,” says Criminal Defense Attorney, Avery Appelman. “In fact, the way Greaves describes sexual encounters from a child’s point-of-view terrify me. However, the unconstitutional actions of the Polk County law enforcement and officials are much more terrifying and repugnant.”

This is a politically charged and freedom-limiting persecution, and it cannot be tolerated. The ugliest and most offensive of speech is that which should be most protected. Simply because this is a significantly offensive book does not mean a lone Florida Sheriff has the ability to prohibit it. Greaves has the utmost right to say, publish, and sell this book.

Freedom of speech is the only issue here. The question is whether or not Greaves’ book can be deemed obscene. By definition, speech that “appeals to the prurient interest, as judged against local community standards” and which “lacks any social, scientific, political, or literary value” may be judged as obscene. Greaves book, while offensive, does not amount to obscenity.

Greaves is not a convicted pedophile; he has no criminal sexual record. Simply writing a book on the subject does not make him a pedophile. Authors of books detailing explicit instructions on how to make a bomb are not arrested for terrorism.

The charge against Greaves is unconstitutional. It is an infringement upon his basic right to freedom of speech. The content of Greaves’ book is abhorrent and disgusting. But the fact that he is being persecuted for speaking his mind is a much more terrifying thought.

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