Editorial: The Pasadena Judicial Establishment Needs To Respect The Rights Of My Richest Clients
November 16, 2017 - Local
By Defense Attorney Sadie Mooston
I’ve been a defense attorney in this town for twenty years. It’s a satisfying job to know that, each day, I get to protect the rights of and defend the accused. But it is frustrating working in a town with a schizophrenic judicial establishment and citizenry, which only respects the accused’s rights half the time.
Take two recent cases that I’ve had. In case one, police claimed to have recovered an illegal gun after hearing the defendant talk about it over the phone. The police paperwork was spotty and the evidence that they’d met their requirements for a wiretap sparse. As probable cause, the investigator wrote, “Seems firearm-y.” In the case file, the investigator left a hand-written to-do list which includes, “Lie to judge for wiretap” and a video of him literally defecating on the constitution. I was able to get the judge to throw out this case.
However, in another case, I was defending the 21-year-old son of a $urgeon. Sorry, typo. According to the police account, he drove drunk down a one way street.
The moment I saw the boy’s father’s sullen eyes as he stepped out of his Mercedes, I knew I had to save his son from jail. I could see the man so cared about his son from the size of the bonus he offered if I could get the charge removed from his son’s record.
So much was wrong or unconstitutional with the policework with this case. How could police prove that the green and spraypainted-red turtles were alive when he threw them at the police cars behind him? And what evidence did they have beside a single Nintendo game in his house that he even owned Mario Cart, let alone was inspired by it.
And who was to say the boy was even driving? According to the police report, he threw the turtles from the BACK SEAT, which means that, really, the car was driving. He definitely wasn’t driving intoxicated all the time. Like, right now, he is probably not driving intoxicated. How could the police charge him given such sparse guilt? And where were the police when he decided to drive drunk? Why didn’t they take his keys?
After he was arrested, the police treated him disgracefully. He was handcuffed so tightly there were red marks on his wrists for most of the day. He was yelled at by the police simply for communicating his desire to use the bathroom by urinating on the floor.
I’m not ashamed to say I gave my all to that case and I did it because I cared. When the prosecution gave it’s opening argument, I objected. In fact, whenever the prosecution spoke, I objected. Even when they spoke socially outside of the courtroom or in their private homes.
The prosecution actually asked for a quick recess so they could go to the courtroom next door and file restraining order. I objected of course. I then offered to sleep with every man and woman on the jury.
But, in the end, the judge and jury disagreed with what I saw as reasonable doubt. I screamed in shock as the jury read their verdict. For the ruined life of the defendant and definitely not my bonus. This is the tragedy of our judicial system that I work with each day.