These legal tips are a collection of 44 ‘Legal Nuggets’ originally published for public use in various local newspapers. Each ‘nugget’ provides some insightful and helpful tips on how the legal process works and how you can benefit from this knowledge.

As helpful as these ‘nuggets’ are, however, there is no substitute for actual trial and case experience. If you are currently in need of legal representation we encourage you to contact us immediately: Contact Melanie Roe

Legal Nuggets

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Nugget #1

Why are warrants generally required for searches? “Power is a heady thing; and history shows that the police acting on their own cannot be trusted. And so the Constitution requires (a)n (Independent!) magistrate to pass on the desires of the police before they violate (one’s) privacy….” McDonald v. United States (1948) 335 U.S. 451, 456.

Nugget #2

While incarcerated for an offense, and after you have retained private counsel, should members of law enforcement or officers from the probation department pay an unannounced (i.e., unsanctioned by your attorney) visit to you (seeking to discuss the facts of the case or of any other) refuse to speak to them unless, and until, your attorney is present, even if they happen to read your Miranda rights to you.

Nugget #3

Very often, the criminal justice system is exploited to serve in place of the Family Court for the evil instigator in a domestic dispute to gain an unfair advantage over the other side by using jails and fines for vengeance. It is often noticed that whichever of the feuding parties gets to the cops first is the “victim,” while the loser of the race is then arrested and prosecuted as the defendant. Jurors need to watch for such skullduggery and not become a party to nor enabler of it.

Nugget #4

During a police interview, you made the silly and unfortunate mistake of not invoking your Miranda rights to remain silent. You want to stop the interview but don’t know how and don’t know want the cops to question your motives. Simply advise them, when you regain your senses, that you have nothing to say, and that you wish to speak with an attorney. Your interview must end at that point.

Nugget #5

The Framers recognize only 3 legitimate powers among those in criminal courts: judge, jury, defense attorney. Those are the threads from which are woven our raiment of liberties.

Nugget #6

“Extremism in defensive liberty is no vice, moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” Barry Goldwater. “Security” is the opposite of liberty, and its pursuit is the hobgoblin of small and insecure minds. If you were victimized by the ubiquitous mavens of security, who ominously enjoy a contra-constitutional growth industry, call us: we are not moderate in our pursuit of justice.

Nugget #7

During a police interview, you made the silly and unfortunate mistake of not invoking your Miranda rights to remain silent. You want to stop the interview but don’t know how and don’t know want the cops to question your motives. Simply advise them, when you regain your senses, that you have nothing to say, and that you wish to speak with an attorney. Your interview must end at that point.

Nugget #8

As a juror you will be asked whether you view police officers as more credible than your average American. Some people actually do. They must not pay attention to the frequent news about police corruption. Since when did a metal badge and uniform impart credence/credibility to the uniform wearer? You, and only you, must decide what testimony is true and what isn’t. Regardless of how it is presented and by whom.

Nugget #9

Recall that “security” is something that the Constitution protects for us, and it contemplates protection against government. “Security” (national, local, any) is not something the government is supposed to protect; in the Framers’ scheme of things, government is axiomatically the destroyer of security, whereas the Constitution, and lawyers properly employing it, are the protector of security. We are not supposed to have a “nanny” state, but one of liberty from government.

Nugget #10

The Framers of the Constitution reaffirmed the common law right to trial by jurors of citizens from the community precisely because it was well-understood that government (executives, legislators, judges) could not be trusted to look out for the liberties of the people. Jurors need to recall the heritage of their role and they should not presume they are hearing the truth from government actors in the trials they sit on.

Nugget #11

After skinning your three pals, and celebrating at the 19th hole, you drive home in your custom-built golf cart only to be stopped by a police officer who suspects a DUI in progress. You are flabbergasted to learn the Vehicle Code applies to golf carts just as it would apply to cars, trucks and motorcycles (all are “motorized vehicles”). Call us to discuss your case, and your golf handicap.

Nugget #12

Justice Brandies famously wrote, “Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a law breaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the ends justifies the means – to declare that the government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal – would bring terrible retribution.”

Nugget #13

You reside in your 40 foot RV. Suddenly, there is a knock at the door. You open the door only to find a police officer wanting to enter and conduct a warrantless search. Your RV is up on blocks/jacks and is connected to utilities preventing it from being “readily mobile”. Refuse any entry for any purpose and demand to see a warrant and shut your mouth. When he leaves, call us to discuss your next move.

Nugget #14

The court of appeal noted that policemen have such an interest in the outcome of cases that they should not be presumed to tell the truth; our district attorney was reported in the press to have said, without contradiction, that “it takes a great prosecutor to put an innocent person in prison.” Jurors then should not be deluded by cases presented by our DA’s office based on testimony by policemen.

Nugget #15

You are summoned to report to jury duty next week. Do not take it lightly. It has been said, “There is no greater public service to our country than jury duty.” Both sides need fair, intelligent, unbiased and unconditioned jurors to decide the case. To have it any other way would be unjust.

Nugget #16

A nice police officer knocks at your door. Little Johnnie is in trouble again and the officer wants you to assist his investigation by signing some papers allowing him to search your house. Say No, politely. Always say No. We have a right of privacy in our homes which is protected by the U.S. Constitution. Make him obtain a search warrant. He probably cannot.

Nugget #17

You were arrested by the Palm Springs Police Department last year. All evidence including photographs and statements were recorded digitally by them, and preserved in their evidence system; or so you thought. A computer crash in March of 2007 might have destroyed that evidence. Call us to discuss all appropriate remedies and how that crash may impact your case.

Nugget #18

You are sleepless in your memory foam bed. Your mind replays your jury service last year. You voted to convict. You now believe an innocent man was unfairly tried. If you were aware of juror misconduct then and did not report it, it is never too late to do so. Wrongful convictions happen all the time and affect all of us as a society. To undo this wrong, contact us immediately.

Nugget #19

You are ready to clean up your record and start a productive life. Those felonies you picked up many years back are interfering with that goal. Many felonies can be reduced to misdemeanor and dismissed upon a motion. If you did everything you promised to do on probation, there is no reason why your goals cannot be obtained. Let us help you with your goals. Call us today.

Nugget #20

The judiciary’s duty is to patrol the boundary lines of the Constitution and to keep individuals safe from overweening government. Beware of judicial campaign literature promising that D.A. or police supported candidates are devoted to “public safety.” That is code lingo for non-neutrality on the bench, a growing and ominous evil in this land.

Nugget #21

Increasingly, convictions everywhere are being set aside due to factual innocence being proven, generally by DNA testing, after the innocent person has been jailed for many, many years, ripped from his family, and his property and livelihood stolen from him. Overzealous government and irresponsible jurors are to blame. The Framers expected jurors to stand with individuals and against government. Increasingly however jurors side with government oppressors and become part of the oppression. Why?

Nugget #22

You are a juror in a criminal case. The D.A. calls as witnesses two police officers, whose testimony is completely at odds with each other on numerous points material to the defendant’s guilt. The sign-post up ahead reads, for that reason alone: REASONABLE DOUBT. You have just entered the “ACQUITTAL ZONE”. When you do not have “an abiding conviction in the truth of the charges,” which you cannot if the police do not agree, you MUST ACQUIT.

Nugget #23

A judge just bizarrely ruled that people should view cops who show up on their stoops in the middle of the night, uninvited, and without announcing any authority for being there, differently than they view other strangers who similarly invade their personal areas: the badge and uniform makes the difference. Uh, NO! A stranger is a stranger, whether festooned with badges, feathers, swastikas, or flag lapel pins and you need not welcome them unless you so choose.

Nugget #24

We are supposed to have small government; it’s bloated out of control. We are supposed to default in the direction of liberty; but the judicial default is grotesquely pro-power. The national government was supposed to be confined to powers under Art. I, sec. 8; it regularly breaches those boundaries, thanks to the new judicial default. Juries are supposed to protect us against power; instead they increasingly side with power. Rule of law? Rule of governmental lawlessness!

Nugget #25

What of these pat-down frisks for weapons, without cause and on mere subjective suspicion; would the Framers have tolerated them? “I frankly doubt, moreover, whether the fiercely proud men who adopted our Fourth Amendment would have allowed themselves to be subjected, on mere suspicion of being armed and dangerous, to sudden indignity…” Justice Scalia. However we generally do not have constitutionalists on the courts these days, but instead political myrmidons.

Nugget #26

Over and over, and again and again, we are faced with people who cannot shut up when confronted by government, and then they wonder why they get arrested and prosecuted for what they have said. Do not be the tool of your, or your loved ones’, undoing in the largely self-serving criminal “justice” system and then expect lawyers to remedy the problem occasioned by your reckless disregard for your own safety and security.

Nugget #27

You are on probation, but you need additional time to pay fines, do community service, or perform on other terms and conditions. Modification of probation terms should be sought as soon as you realize a problem is going to arise, and not after the DA has petitioned the court to revoke your probation. The courts are generally understanding and helpful, if you bring the matter to their attention before a violation occurs. Call us for the relief you need.

Nugget #28

We fought a revolution partially to keep government out of our mouths and houses, and you sully the memory of the blood-stained Patriots when you consent to police searches or when you make statements to police who are investigating you or your friends. You never have to talk to the police or let them search, nor should you. The burden is theirs; don’t carry it for them.

Nugget #29

While at the police station, you are asked to write out a full confession because, you are told, the DA will look favorably upon you and give you leniency. This is just pure hogwash. That sort of “cooperation” never, ever helps anyone but the government. The only thing more fool-hardy would be to reenact an event before a police camcorder. If you are going to write anyone, write us.

Nugget #30

You have the right to test a sample of the blood drawn by the cops after your DUI stop. If they took breath, they were supposed to tell you of your right to a back-up urine test for your own testing. Never rely on the results obtained by government machines, which often are poorly maintained and calibrated. If you hire Melanie N. Roe, we can get the true chemical results, and the best results for your case.

Nugget #31

The Constitution gives you the express right to a speedy trial. You should demand that right at every juncture, especially if you are in custody. Many have died to preserve your right not to languish behind bars merely because an accusation has been made by the government against you. Delay in bringing people to trial invariably benefits the government; it rarely benefits the accused person.

Nugget #32

You are home eating dinner alone when your stepchild calls you on the phone and tries to elicit bizarre and obviously incriminating responses from you. You have just entered the “pretext call” zone. You are being set up. Witnesses are often enlisted by the police to gather evidence in that manner. Say nothing [even if you think it will help], hang up, refuse all similar calls, and call us.

Nugget #33

You or a family member are sitting in jail on a criminal matter. Do not talk to anyone about your case in detail. Jailhouse phone calls are recorded and will be used against you, and snitches are everywhere in jail; You have no privacy rights behind bars. The only exception to this rule is the phone calls to your attorney. Those calls, the ones you need to make to Melanie N. Roe, are confidential.

Nugget #34

When you thought things couldn’t get any worse, your arrest was just seen by millions on T.V. on a nationally syndicated cop show, which everyone knows employs questionable tactics for ratings purposes. You need help fast. Talk to no one; consent to nothing. But then to end this nightmare, contact Melanie N. Roe, Attorney At Law.

Nugget #35

In many of our comments, we have advised against assisting the police with their investigation and collection of evidence; why would we not encourage “cooperation”? The Constitution, for which our forefathers fought and died, places the burden of taking our liberties away on government, because government is inherently evil. Liberty is the default position here; government should cooperate with you, and not vice-versa.

Nugget #36

The U.S. Constitution requires that virtually everyone accused of a crime is entitled to release on reasonable bail or O.R. A reasonable bail is that amount necessary to guarantee your presence in court, and no more. In this state, unlike others, “public safety” has crept into bail discussions to rationalize illegally high bails. It is known that holding people on high bail makes guilty pleas more likely than trial, which is why games are played with bails in this state. This is patently unconstitutional. If you cannot get out on illegally high bail, do not give them their easy conviction. Make the government earn every conviction it obtains.

Nugget #37

The only attorney mentioned in, and revered by, the Constitution is the attorney who counsels those accused by their government of wrongdoing. There is a reason for that. It is the same reason that Shakespeare had the celebrated scoundrel who wanted to overthrow the government and set up a dictatorship and imprison all who disagreed say “the first thing we do, we kill all the lawyers.” Most crimes now are political, and many are imprisoned for them. Come see us.

Nugget #38

A subpoena to appear in court must always be personally served. The means a paper placed in hand by the server – and your hand, and not anyone else’s. You may legally disregard any other service (mail, fax, doorstep, etc.) regardless of any threatening language on the paper, unless you agree to accept same. And why would you?

Nugget #39

On your way home after drinking 2 glasses of wine, you see red and blue lights from a police cruiser. He asks you to blow into a PAS (Preliminary Alcohol Screening) device. Don’t do it! You have the right to refuse that pre-arrest test – so do so. Performing the test only helps the police, never you. If you are then arrested, however, you must take a blood or breath test. Refusal of this post-arrest test will result in your losing your license for 1 year.

Nugget #40

Unless you can perform a FST (field sobriety test) with Cirque de Soleil precision, don’t do them. Cops generally testify that you can’t “pass” or “fail” them – so why take them? There is no correlation between those tests and impairment by alcohol; which of them do you perform to get your license? Many people do “pass” them, but they are always arrested anyway.

Nugget #41

You’re home surfing the web when the phone rings. A “friendly” police officer tells you that you are under investigation for the crime of the century and he wants you to come down to the station for a little chat …, just to clear things up (for them!) Should you go? Absolutely not! Any information you give them will merely ensure your arrest and will secure evidence against you; it will not, and never has, help(ed) you. Call us.

Nugget #42

Don’t fall for the government propaganda that “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.” As with most propaganda, it is false: that is NOT THE LAW IN CALIFORNIA! One is under the influence of alcohol only if his or her abilities are so impaired by drinking alcohol that he/she is no longer able to drive a vehicle with the CAUTION of a sober person under similar circumstances. “Buzzing” is not the test (unless you are a bee); caution is, if you are human.

Nugget #43

If your loved ones were hurt by someone, you are the last person who should be able to decide the government’s treatment of that malefactor. That would be officialized vengeance, the opposite of a rule of law. That is why victims’ rights groups, to the extent that their members have truly been hurt by others, like MADD, SADD, etc., should not be in the position to decree punishment for the category of crimes that injured their loved ones.

Nugget #44

Members of a recent jury panel swore under oath not to take into consideration for any purpose the fact that the defendant did not testify. That is his, and all of ours’, constitutional right. The judge expressly ordered them not to take it into consideration, nor even to comment on it in deliberations, yet that was the central discussion in the jury room. The jury are supposed to be the sentinels. These one’s were merely scoundrels. For shame.