California Supreme Court Rules Red Light Cameras Are OK

If you have been watching for a decision in the “red-light camera” cases, one finally came out in People v. Goldsmith.  In Goldsmith, Goldsmith was convicted of running a red light based on photographs that showed Goldsmith at the scene, a police investigator’s testimony that the intersection was in fact the relevant intersection, and a twelve (12) second video from a red light camera (automatic traffic enforcement system or ATES) that showed Goldsmith’s violation.  Goldsmith objected to the video based on hearsay and authentication.  In the end, the California Supreme Court held that the ATES video was admissible without further foundational requirements.

This may be disturbing for several reasons.  First, usually one must furnish foundation and meet authentication requirements to admit videos into evidence.  The fact of the matter is that certain videos can be manipulated, and the burden should be and is on the producer to show that a video has not been manipulated.  The CASC expressly rejected this idea in Goldsmith.

Second, the question must be asked whether the same ruling would have been given if Goldsmith were appealing the conviction of a Felony or Misdemeanor, instead of a ticket.  Are we creating two evidentiary standards, one for tickets and another where custody time is on the line?

Third, the trend with the United States Supreme Court the last decade has been to make witnesses come to court.  Would the Supreme Court have come to the same decision given its recent jurisprudence?

I would love to hear your (or Justice Antonin Scalia’s) opinion on this.

What An Honor: The National Trial Lawyers Association Top 40 Under 40

I felt very blessed and humbled when I received an envelope in the mail that I had been selected by The National Trial Lawyers Association for membership among their “Top 40 Under 40.”

I was pleased to learn the following about the honor:

“The National Trial Lawyers Top 40 under 40 is a professional organization composed of the top trial lawyers from each state or regions of certain highly-populated states who are younger than the age of 40. Membership into The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 under 40 is by invitation only and is extended exclusively to those trial lawyers practicing civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense law.  Invitees must exemplify superior qualifications, trial results, and leadership as a young lawyer under the age of 40. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research.

Each of our distinguished Top 40 under 40 members strives to encompass the knowledge, skill, experience and success held by only the best lawyers in America.  It is our mission to promote a unique and professional networking opportunity for young lawyers, while developing progressive ideas to pursue justice for those injured by the negligence of others, to educate the public about the importance of access to courts that are free of bias and undue influence, and to protect the right of trial by jury.”

For more information, please visit The National Trial Lawyers Top 40 under 40 website by clicking here.

What An Honor: Super Lawyers Magazine "Rising Star"

Recently, Super Lawyers Magazine recognized me as a “Rising Star” in Northern California in the area of Criminal Law. Of course, I was very pleased and humbled. Here is some information about Super Lawyers:

“Super Lawyers selects attorneys using a patented multiphase selection process. Peer nominations and evaluations are combined with third party research. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Selections are made on an annual, state-by-state basis.

The objective is to create a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of outstanding attorneys that can be used as a resource for attorneys and consumers searching for legal counsel. Since Super Lawyers is intended to be used as an aid in selecting a lawyer, we limit the lawyer ratings to those who can be hired and retained by the public, i.e., lawyers in private practice and Legal Aid attorneys.”

To see my Super Lawyers Profile, Click Here.

super-lawyers-rising-star

The "State" Of Fresno: Very Disappointing

This is an open letter to the leaders of the county and city of Fresno:

Dear Fresno City Council and Board of Supervisors:

I continue to ask why so much attention has been paid to eradication of marijuana growth in our fine community when the following has recently happened without much action from you:

– Fresno was recently voted the dirtiest placed in the nation by Forbes Magazine.  Read Here. Yes, you read right, THE DIRTIEST.

– The America Lung Association described Fresno’s air quality as the worst in the nation.  Read Here.

– Multiple car fatality accidents that resulted from a lack of proper lighting at Fresno County intersections.

While I know that punishing the citizens of Fresno who comply with State Law and legally use medical marijuana seems to be your top priority, Fresno continues to make headlines for all the wrong reasons.  Downtown remains dirty and dilapidated.  The lax enforcement of burning restrictions continues to make our polluted air worse.   People continue to die because you ignore your own constituents requests for better lighting at intersections in their communities all across the valley.  I am not sure what any of this has to do with marijuana?

And you continue to do nothing productive.  It seems you are more concerned with fining marijuana patients who dare to follow State law and use marijuana safely and medically than with improving with the average Fresno citizen’s quality of life.   You are just infatuated with this issue, while the rest of the nation as well as the Federal government are relaxing their prohibitions on Marijuana.  Denver is actually a model for why this State will most likely and probably legalize marijuana very soon: the tax revenue is great!  What will you fixate on then?

Can we please get back to cleaning up the city and making it a place that actually attracts business and tourism again?

I am not sure how any of you sleep at night.

Very Truly Yours,

Samer A. Salhab

Attorney At Law

 

3 Strikes Reform, Finally!

Finally, Proposition 36 was passed on the last election day.  Reforming California’s 3 Strikes law has been attempted unsuccessfully several times, mainly due to its political popularity and the difficulty in amending a Proposition passed by the people.  However, California has severe prison overcrowding problem.  I am not just saying that: the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling to California prisons forcing them to release inmates due to inhumane conditions and poor medical care.  No doubt that California’s 3 Strikes law is one of the main reasons California prisons are overcrowded.

The 3 Strikes law is complicated, but can be summed up like this: If a person has 2 Strikes on their record, in any other future felony, even stealing a piece of Pizza (yes, there are cases involving theft of a piece of pizza earning someone a 25 years to life sentence), the person would automatically be facing a minimum sentence of 25 years to life.  Many, myself included, felt this was draconian, unjust, and in the end, unaffordable.  Proposition 36 was aimed to change that.

Now that Proposition 36 has passed, many prospective client’s facing 25 years to life due to a nonviolent felony MAY be entitled to relief, but it does have exceptions.  For instance, certain drug crimes would disqualify a client from relief, and he or she would still be facing a sentence of 25 years to life.  The best thing to do is contact an experience and knowledgeable lawyer for a consultation.

Further, many people currently in prison can now petition the courts to have their sentence reduced.  There is a deadline of November 6, 2014, unless good cause is shown.

Please contact my office if you know someone who can be positively affected by Proposition 36.

Text of Proposition 36.

Casewatch: People v. Orozco: DEJ elgibility for DUI Drivers

Defense attorneys recently got a nugget from an appellate case, People v Orozco (2012) 209 Cal. App. 4th 726, which ruled that a client is not per se ineligible for drug diversion per Penal Code section 1000 because the client also plead to a DUI charge.

Penal Code section 1000 sets forth a diversion program, which if followed successfully, will lead to a dismissal of a client’s case.  Often referred to as Deferred Entry of Judgement, or DEJ, this program not only allows a client charged with simple drug possession to take advantage of programs and services which would ultimately lead to a dismissal their case, but success under the program also seals and destroys a client’s arrest record. This is extremely difficult in California to do without diversion.  Unfortunately, many people charged with simple drug possession were not able to take advantage of the DEJ program because of the simple fact that they also got charged with a DUI. This was not only a misreading of the law, but grossly unjust.

In the recent case of People v. Orozco (2012) 209 Cal. App. 4th 726, the Court ruled it would be error to find a defendant ineligible for the DEJ program based on the fact that defendant also plead to a DUI.  InOrozco, the defendant pleaded guilty to possessing cocaine, driving under the influence of alcohol, and driving with a suspended license. The trial court sentenced defendant to DEJ on the cocaine possession charge and stayed defendant’s jail sentence on the other charges to allow him to enroll in DEJ.  On appeal, the appellate court upheld the trial court’s actions and judgment.  While Penal Code section 1000(a)(3) disqualifies a defendant for deferred entry of judgment if he or she has violated another offense related to “narcotics or a restricted dangerous drug,” the Court found that a DUI not that type of offense, and ruled that alcohol-related offenses do not fall within the scope of section 1000(a)(3).  Thus, a client who pleads to a DUI is also eligible for DEJ as a matter of law.  It must be noted however that Orozco was ultimately terminated from DEJ because of his performance in DEJ, not the fact that he also plead to a DUI. (People v. Orozco (2012) 209 Cal. App. 4th 726).

So the next time your client wishes to enter DEJ, and either the court or the DA objects because they are also charged with a DUI, share with them People v Orozco.

 

Arrested For DUI? We can help.

The Law Office of Sam Salhab offers knowledgeable and aggressive representation to those who have been arrested for DUI, as well as similar types of offenses. For people who are looking for a top-notch DUI lawyer in the Fresnoarea, as well as California’s Central Valley, Sam Salhab is ready and able to help.

Being convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) can be an extremely serious and life altering situation that can result in serious consequences to one’s freedom and their ability to drive. As a result, people who have been accused of a DUI need to work with an attorney who truly understands these types of cases. Our knowledge about DUI cases and passion for helping clients make us a firm Fresno residents can count on.

The Law Office of Sam Salhab routinely handles DUI cases and aggressively represents clients during their legal proceedings. While determining just how legally impaired a driver was seems like a basic procedure for the police officer, whether one is legally intoxicated depends on many factors. An aggressive and experienced defense attorney can offer top-notch assistance to those who have been arrested for DUI because that attorney understands that what somebody blew into the machine may not be their correct legal level of intoxication.

Just because somebody has been charged with a DUI does not mean that they will be convicted. People who have been arrested for DUI need to hire an experienced and caring attorney to help them settle their case as quickly and fairly as possible.

Time is of the essence in a DUI case because one only has 10 days from the date of his or her arrest to dispute the DMV’s suspension of their California Driver’s License. The Law Office of Sam Salhab will not only fight for people in court, but will fight the DMV’s suspension of their driver’s license as well.

Sam Salhab has handled literally thousands of DUI cases to the satisfaction of his clients, and has a reputation for aggressively defending people who have been charged with a crime. From juvenile crimes and misdemeanors, to felonies including DUI, the Law Office of Sam Salhab has had a lot of success defending clients who have been accused of many types of offenses.

Obama and Marijuana: Did The Feds Finally Budge On Weed?

The newly announced directive by the Department of Justice to medical marijuana states are supposed to be clear: No Federal interference into Medical Marijuana states where there are regulations by the State that are followed by sellers and growers, even if the operation is for profit. Click here to see the Memorandum For All United States Attorneys issued August 29, 2013.

Given the nature of marijuana, however, here are some things to keep in mind while every thing takes years, perhaps decades, to get ironed out:

In California, in order to furnish marijuana medically, you must be fully registered with the State as a non-profit collective or cooperative. So in California, making a profit is illegal for the cooperative or collective as a whole.  This effectively creates a situation where a marijuana entrepreneur is more likely to go to another State in order to take advantage of much more lenient State laws and the newly announced Federal policy;

If you must carry medical marijuana everywhere you go, avoid placing it into separate baggies, carrying scales, or anything else that may make you look like a dealer to the police.  Making it look like you are selling marijuana may make an officer think that you are using your medical marijuana card for illegal purposes, and may result in criminal charges against you.  I have personally seen this many times.  To get to the bottom line, use common sense if you have card and are transporting marijuana;

I can not tell my clients this enough: Get a medical marijuana card from the County! So long as you have your card and an ID (and of course are not smoking up the car) you will not be arrested.  Most people do not know that the card they got from the doctor has no legal effect at all. For more information on California’s Medical Marijuana Program, click here.

Please do not smoke in the car.  Responsible medical marijuana users should be able to wait until they get home to smoke.  I will never understand why some people just want to attract attention from law enforcement (especially in California!)  Also people rarely ask themselves a very simple question: What if someone hits me?  Unfortunately, it is the law that you can be charged with a DUI in a car crash even where it is determined that the crash was not your fault.

Our country is finally headed in the right direction when it comes to marijuana possession. But a good thing is easily ruined by not thinking and falling into certain stereotypes.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at Sam@Salhablaw.com


George Zimmerman Found Not Guilty Of Killing Trayvon Martin. Whats next?

A few minutes ago, George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing a young African American boy, Trayvon Martin.  The Florida jury’s verdict essentially validated Zimmerman’s killing of Martin in self-defense after deliberating for about sixteen (16) hours.

No matter how you feel about the verdict, I’d like to point out a few strange things that have happened during and after this trial.

Certainly, the NAACP’s defense of Seminole County’s State Attorney’s Office is a new phenomena.  In fact, civil rights marches were organized by the NAACP and others because of the racial problems that were going on between law enforcement and minorities in that county.  The NAACP and the Seminole County’s State Attorney’s Office certainly make for strange bedfellows.  Does it seem that the State Attorney’s office paraded a prosecution in order to hide their checkered racial past, and to seem like the good guy? On the other hand, isn’t it true that this is a case that just had to go to trial so the facts could come out and be checked by members of the public?

Then there are the defense attorneys.  Don West, one of Zimmerman’s attorney’s, called the prosecution “disgraceful” at a news conference shortly after the verdict. Again, though, isn’t this a case that just had to go to trial in order for there to be any type of justice, if any?  Strange that the NAACP and the defense attorney’s are at odds here.  I remember when the NAACP and defense attorneys were joined in court fights against the government and the media with the objective of trying to acquit a man.

Finally, I was even amused that the media spotlighted Florida’s (and California’s) “Use a Gun And You’re Done” Laws.  I saw it my-self while watching Anderson Cooper, and had fun sending Tweets and Facebook messages about it.  The media seemed amused that the Judge’s discretion in these cases are essentially taken away by these types of laws, and defendants may end up doing very long and unfair sentences.  Funny, the media never came and asked me about my every day clients who may face the same crime and punishment, and about how unfair it potentially might be.  I didn’t know they cared.

Out of all this, I hope all of us can take something constructive from this verdict whether we agree with it or not.

The Supremes Rule on Marijuana Dispensaries...

In the recent case of City of Riverside v Inland Empire Patients Health & Wellness Center, Inc., the California Supreme Court Ruled that cities have the right to ban medical marijuana dispensaries through ordinances and zoning laws.  The Supremes rejected the argument that the Compassionate Use Act (CUA) and the Medical Marijuana Program (MMP) pre-empted Riverside’s ordinance because of the city’s inherent police power to decide how to use its own land pursuant to the California Constitution.  The Court further noted and that nothing in the CSA or MMP expressly provided for medical marijuana dispensaries.

This is not good short term new for medical marijuana dispensaries.  However, there is legislation already being introduced in the California Congress to expressly authorize such facilities.

Also, this case will not affect the right of people with proper paperwork to use and cultivate medical marijuana in California.  Nor can you be punished criminally for running a marijuana dispensary by the State.  It is now strictly a civil issue.  However, it is still illegal Federally, and this should weigh into anyone’s analysis on whether to own or operate a dispensary.

So, if you own or operate a medical marijuana dispensary, sooner or later you may get a notice on the door threatening you with a lawsuit.  Contract your lawyer to find out what the zoning law says in order to pursue your options.