Several months back I wrote a series of blogs about officers and troopers prosecuting New York traffic tickets they issue. As an experience New York Traffic Court attorney, I wrote about why this practice should not be allowed. Recently, I had an experience in one particular Dutchess County court which reaffirms my belief that officers and troopers should not be masquerading as prosecutors.
Simply stated, police officers and state troopers should not act as prosecutors because they operate with no regard for the disciplinary and ethical rules that guide attorney conduct or those acting as attorneys under one of the exceptions promulgated by the legislature. Furthermore, I have personally witnessed State Troopers blatantly violating their own internal rules. I have personally witnessed the questionable (if not outright illegal) practice of State Troopers, with firearms at their side, calling defendants out into the hallway for a “conference”. Like a prison yard roll-call, these troopers turned “prosecutors” call out: “Smith, Jones, Johnson and Lopez, outside in the hall”. Then, with 9mm firearms visible on their sides these troopers turned “prosecutors” “advise” the hapless motorists to plead guilty but to tell the judge they were only going 10 mph over the limit. The troopers turned “prosecutors” then promise that they won’t object to the judge finding them guilty of a lesser speed.
The trooper practice of advising the defendants to plead guilty is border-line criminal. Even if this court were to rule that troopers can act as prosecutors, that does not mean that those troopers can call defendants into the hallway and give them legal advice. (See Jud. Law 478 & 484). This is misdemeanor (See Jud. Law 485). The State Police have a no-plea policy. What then, could they possibly want to talk to the defendant about? There is a no plea policy, right. That means the troopers show up for trial, period.
Furthermore, the troopers turned prosecutor’s practice of telling motorists to plead guilty but to tell the judge they were only going 10 mph over the limit also violates their own New York State Police internal policy prohibiting troopers from becoming involved in any way with reducing an offense. Indeed: State Police Regulation 8A13 states in relevant part that:
…a member shall not request or solicit a reduction in traffic offenses or in any
way become involved in reducing such offenses or in seeking reductions in penalties
assessed for such offenses.
Additionally, by telling motorists to tell the court that they were only going 10 mph over the limit while at same time the trooper really believes the motorist was going faster than that (indeed, the trooper would not have written the ticket for a higher speed if the motorist had not in fact been going that speed, right?), the trooper is suborning perjury. In other words, the trooper is telling the motorist to lie to the judge.
In a future blog I will explain why it is improper for a court to reduce your speed or let you plead guilty to a lesser speed without the express consent of the prosecutor. Meanwhile, if you have any questions on any New York traffic related matter, feel free to call us toll free at 1-877-377-8666 or visit us on the web at www.DrSummons.com