Stupid People Tricks, Redlich Edition

When I first heard of the video, I winced, but didn’t think it sufficiently worthwhile to waste my time. After all, there are always magic tricks being spread about the internet that claim to have found a cool, secret, magic way to beat the cops at their own game.

One self-promoter wrote a book that did pretty well teaching people to puke on themselves based on the premise that cops won’t arrest you if you’re covered in vomit because then they’ll have to clean up their cars.  Then, there was the infamous Redemption Theory post at Bennett’s Defending People, where Mark gave the proponents of sovereign citizens a chance to smear their crazy all over the comments at his blog.

The latest along these lines, the plastic bag trick, was the subject of Matt Brown’s post at Tempe Criminal Defense.

An interesting DUI checkpoint video has been circulating lately. In it, the driver gets through without even rolling down his window, passing by with ease thanks to a plastic bag attached to his car with a string. The bag contained his license, registration, insurance information, and a note saying “I remain silent,” “No searches,” and “I want my lawyer.” As clever as it may be, it’s also dangerous to think it will always be that easy.

For those inclined to seek a magic trick to beat the cops at their own game, this is the sort of thing that grabs them by the throat and squeezes.  And it would be a really cool trick, but for the fact that it’s ridiculously misguided and potentially very dangerous.

The most important thing any driver or rider can keep in mind when dealing with police is that the law does not exist in a vacuum. It only matters as applied to the facts, and except in the most unusual circumstances, courts are going to adopt whatever “facts” the officer provides. It is going to be your word versus his. The cop, a government employee and professional witness who most people believe has no reason to lie about anything, will tell a government-employee and probably-former-prosecutor-or-cop judge in a government-owned courtroom what happened.

It will almost invariably be a version of events that fits within the law as he or she understands it, and if it isn’t, the cop may well change his or her story after consulting with a prosecutor, or the courts may ultimately change decades or centuries of legal precedent to allow whatever it was the cop did. You probably have to have some pretty amazing evidence to overcome that.

On a less cynical level, it’s perfectly lawful for a cop to order you to open your window, step out of the car, or comply with any other command that he states is issued to further his safety. Officer safety is a legitimate basis for a command, and no judge, no court, will reject an officer’s establishing a command presence in the process of dealing with a stop.

But Greenfield, you moron, IT WORKED!!!  Watch the video, dumbass. 

And so I followed the link in Matt’s post to its source, PINAC, and I watched and read.  So one cop wasn’t in the mood to smash the driver’s window, pull the driver out, throw him to the ground and cuff and arrest him. Some people get away with murder too. Care to try it?

My guess is that this time, the cops were sufficiently confused, amused, and not in the mood to become embroiled in an obvious likely internet sensation that they decided to take a pass. It’s not because this was the magic secret way to beat the system, but because it was a bizarre anomaly.  It happens. It may even happen other times. It may also not happen, and it may also end up with a really bad outcome.

Who came up with this lamebrain idea? And there, Carlos Miller explained:

The Fair DUI flyer is the creation of South Florida attorney Warren Redlich, who once represented PINAC reporter Taylor Hardy pro bono in a case where Hardy was arrested for taking photos in public, but the case was dismissed when the cop never showed up to court.

Redlich also ran for New York governor in the 2010 race under the libertarian platform, so he’s not apt to unreasonable search and seizures.

Warren?  Warren Redlich?  You mean this Warren Redlich? This Warren Redlich? Oy.  Warren is a nice enough guy, though his desperate need for attention was sad. He used to be a DWI lawyer outside of Albany, New York, running for office after office and crashing and burning. It was painful stuff.

Apparently, he’s now moved down to the sun of South Florida after upstate New York proved unaccommodating.  And here he is, coming up with a bizarre scheme that is certain to grab the interest of those disinclined to be police-compliant.

But Greenfield, IT WORKED!!! What part of this are you not getting, dumbass?

Well, consider this detail:

While it’s not likely the Levy County deputies have encountered such a flyer before, they are probably well aware of Gray, being part of the network of law enforcement agencies who have stalked Gray for years through the Florida Fusion Center.

So they probably had a good idea of what he was trying to do.

The fact that the three other occupants in the car were holding up cameras also probably tipped them off that they were the subject of one of Gray’s infamous audits.

Even so, other Florida sheriffs made clear that there would be no repeat of this video.

Two sheriffs in particular, Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri have publicly threatened to arrest Gray if he dared try that antic in their counties.

I challenge him…to please come to Lee County and drive around,” Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott said. “Eventually he’ll find one of our checkpoints and he’ll try his luck. He’ll go to jail.”

And he will. So will you. And the judge will smack you for it. And so will the appellate court. And you will sit there in a cell pondering why this worked before but not for you.

So look for a future story when Gray, joined by Redlich and other PINAC crew members, take them up on their challenge to see if they actually do open themselves up to a lawsuit as they promise.

It’s bad enough that silliness like this gets spread across the internet so that someone who doesn’t have a half-dozen cameras blazing in their car will think this magic way to beat the system works, or that it will work when they get pulled over for drunk driving rather than a checkpoint, or any number of other permutations that will end badly.

But that there have been more than 2.2 million views of this video, as of this writing, based on Warren Redlich’s legal incisiveness suggests that there will be a whole lot of stupid happening on the roads.  While this may comport with Warren’s libertarian politics, it’s just truly bad and deeply disturbing lawyering.

If you try this and things don’t work nearly as well as the video, give Warren a call. I’m sure he will be there to defend you pro bono.  And maybe he’ll win, if the cop doesn’t show up again.

30 comments on “Stupid People Tricks, Redlich Edition

  1. Not Jim Ardis

    Yeah, my dad passed this video to me a while back and wanted to know what I thought.

    Now, IANAL, but I was pretty sure that if the cop really wanted to get you he could just take your info, look it over, and then drop it on the ground and simply stand there and wait for you to open your door to retrieve it.

    Then he can claim to smell whatever he likes and, as the British might say, ‘you’re nicked, sunshine.’

    1. SHG Post author

      The permutations of what could go wrong, ranging from the abusive to the perfectly lawful, are endless.

      Feeding the fantasy that there is some magic trick that will beat the cops at their own game is bad enough. Doing so with the apparent approval of a lawyer’s advice is inexcusable.

    2. ExCop-LawStudent

      You don’t need to do that in Texas. You merely order him out of the vehicle, and then when he doesn’t comply, you smash the window and remove him. Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U.S. 106 (1977) (drivers); and Maryland v. Wilson, 519 U.S. 408 (1997) (passengers).

      There’s no need to play games by dropping the license, and most officers won’t do that.

        1. bacchys

          Maryland v. Wilson is a perfect example of your point that the court will recognize the facts as the officer tells them.

          Despite having apparently spent the length of the “chase” trying to hide illegal substances, the passenger managed to drop crack on the ground right in front of the officer as he stepped out of the vehicle. Right.

          1. SHG Post author

            Never underestimate the power of defendants to do something stupid. They are presumed innocent. They are not presumed intelligent.

          2. ExCop-LawStudent

            I’ve had defendants show much more stupidity than that.

            I walked up to one guy, no stop, no reasonable suspicion, no pc, and asked where’s the dope? His immediate, no hesitation response was “In my shorts,” followed by an “oh sh**” comment when he realized what he said.

            1. Not Jim Ardis

              I’m going to assume that you would have taken with good humor a response like “on the other side of the badge I’m looking at…”

            2. SHG Post author

              I assume the purpose of this comment is to be as big a douche as possible, since it doesn’t serve any other purpose.

            3. Not Jim Ardis

              It was, I swear, meant as mild jest. ECLS actually DOES seem like the type who would have taken it in stride (maybe even laughed), as opposed to the sort who would start formulating a contempt-of-cop arrest.

            4. SHG Post author

              Bear in mind that ECLS brings a perspective here that provides needed insight. Yes, he was a cop before law school. No, that doesn’t mean that he has to get smacked with a cop joke after every comment. I’m sure he can laugh at it, but it’s not your place to make SJ inhospitable to someone whose comments are appreciated for your amusement. Aim higher.

  2. Pingback: 2015.23: Hacking the DWI Checkpoint » Defending People

  3. John Barleycorn

    I dunno I think they might be onto something here but I am just shocked they forgot to incorporate a brass flag pin on the upper right corner of the plastic bag. Without the flag pin they are clearly in the gray area constitutionally.

    Pro Tip. If the state patrol is conducting the check point and you live in Tennessee you should enclose and a photo of your kids but if you live in Minnesota a smiley face drawn with a sharpie on the plastic bag is the way to go.

    Stay tuned for the next segment where I will explain what to enclose in the plastic bag if it is the local PD and in segment three I will be discussing the unique objects sheriff department’s like to see included in the plastic bag.

    In segment four I will outline internal homeland security checkpoints and in segment five we will go into the nuisances of why you should have a twelve pack of crayons rubber banded to your passport when re-entering the country.

    Long live the republic….and don’t forget to use hot wax and your personal stamp to seal all of your correspondence or else the 4th doesn’t apply.

    1. JohnC

      “Long live the republic….and don’t forget to use hot wax and your personal stamp to seal all of your correspondence or else the 4th doesn’t apply.”

      *Flashbacks* *Shudders uncontrollably* (I suffer from Liens-Ekbom, meaning I often spontaneously get the sensation that every Bey and Freeman I’ve ever met is at the county Recorder crawling over my property records.)

      Perhaps someday I’ll share my taxonomy / periodic table of the 100+ types of American conspiracists. Among my “favorites” is the tax-denial promoter isotope, who sells programs for a few grand and reports the income to the IRS.

  4. JohnC

    “you’re covered in vomit because then they’ll have to clean up their cars.”
    Or … he’ll strip the offending clothes and toss item in a bag or use them to wipe you off, then shut the glass, roll the windows, drop you off, and either (a) swing past the wash and take the rest of the night off, or (b) stop by the motor pool.

    1. SHG Post author

      Or he’ll just get pissed, beat the crap out of you and leave you on the side of the road where you won’t stink up his car. Whatever.

      1. ExCop-LawStudent

        Nah, walk up to the nearest building with a hose and hose him down, then put him in the back. It’s not as pleasant in Jan. as in July, but it keeps it out of the car.

        The arrestee doesn’t care for it much, but it works. Not just on vomit either – one guy defecated on himself to try and get out of arrest. He still went. Dripping wet and madder than a wet hen, but he went.

        1. JohnC

          Well, I think we can all agree on SHG’s larger point. LE has pretty substantial institutional memory (especially on the subject of handling bad smells and related grossness). Case in point, the “mousies” a few years ago who schemed that the police didn’t have the resources to clean and clothe every protestor whom they arrested. That part proved true enough…..

  5. Warren Redlich

    So your client had a couple of glasses of wine and is now driving into a checkpoint.

    What should your client do?

    The minute your client opens the window he or she is subject to police claiming they “detected the odor of alcoholic beverage.” The minute your client speaks the police can claim their speech was slurred.

    I’ve seen both with sober clients. I’ve also seen plenty of criticism like yours from other defense lawyers. What’s missing is your solution. What should your client do after 2 drinks as they’re driving into a checkpoint? Do you have a better answer?

    Please note that “Don’t drink and drive” avoids the question. I tell all my clients that but they don’t all listen.

    I agree with the comment above that in a traffic stop (but not a checkpoint) the officer can order the defendant out of the vehicle under Mimms, but only for safety purposes. If Dudley Dowrong immediately starts searching the car and never pats down the defendant, the order was obviously not for officer safety and this creates a 4th Amendment argument for the defendant on a motion to suppress.

    The whole point of this is to make it difficult for bad or incompetent cops to wrongfully arrest sober people for DUI. Sure an evil and smart cop will find a way around it, as they will around most anything. But fortunately there aren’t that many cops who are both evil and smart.

    As for checkpoints, the rules are different. Mimms was about a traffic stop, not a checkpoint. Police discretion in checkpoints is very limited. I doubt SCOTUS would extend Mimms so far.

    Sadly there’s a real risk they would, and cowardly lawyers such as yourself aren’t helping.

    1. SHG Post author

      Lawyers don’t get to play tough guy with their clients’ lives, Warren. You want to be a tough guy for yourself? Go for it. Whatever happens, you alone will pay the price. But to promote such asinine and dangerous nonsense for others is worse than irresponsible.

        1. SHG Post author

          Warren, big boy lawyers know that there aren’t magic solutions. If you drink, drive and get stopped, don’t blow, assert your right to counsel and fight it in court.

    2. Myles

      Wait a second. Even though this shtick you’re trying to sell is crap, are you suggesting that you are advising clients (or dopes in the internet, as the case may be) how to commit the crime of drunk driving and get away with it? Do you not realize that lawyers don’t get to advise people how to commit crimes and get away with it?

      Have you ever heard of ethics, or do you not care? The only saving grace is that this scheme is so ridiculous that it’s more likely that anyone who tries it will get screwed rather than beat the rap. You’re totally out of your mind.

      1. Warren Redlich

        “are you suggesting that you are advising clients … how to commit the crime of drunk driving and get away with it?”

        No, as I clearly stated in my comment (which you apparently didn’t read), I advise all my clients not to have any drinks at all before driving.

        The flyer is for those who nevertheless have a couple drinks (which is still legal) on how to protect themselves from the danger of a wrongful DUI arrest. Even people who’ve had no drinks get arrested and the consequences of that arrest can be substantial.

        Here in Florida I’ve seen cases where the person arrested is taken to the station and blows a 0.00 BAC. Despite that result they are nevertheless charged with DUI, their mugshot is posted on the internet, and they have to deal with a criminal charge against them. Some can afford a private lawyer to help. Others cannot. Usually the cases are dismissed, but not always.

        Do any of you care about that?

        Do any of you have solutions for sober drivers on how to protect themselves?

        Do you recommend that they roll down the window and admit to having two drinks? How do you think that’ll work out for them?

        1. SHG Post author

          And giving people idiotic advice more likely to cause their arrest than anything else helps? What the hell is wrong with you? That’s rhetorical. Go sell your idiocy elsewhere. You’re a danger, but you don’t get to harm people here.

        1. SHG Post author

          No, Warren. Competent lawyers don’t tell people to buy magic beans. Competent lawyers don’t offer such flagrantly idiotic responses as lawyers should magic answers to everything.

          1. Jeffrey Marcus Gray

            Once again we have the author of this article referring to our rights as a
            “magic trick” or “magic beans”. Since when has it been bad idea for an attorney to advise their client to remain silent, to not consent to searches, and retain council?

            1. SHG Post author

              The rights aren’t “magic beans.” Warren’s advice is. Your inability to grasp the distinction is sad. I’ve trashed your other comment because it falls well below anything remotely intelligent. Warren’s comments have been cut off, and now yours are too, because you don’t get to use my platform to make people stupider and do harm to people.

              I realize you think you’re helping people to assert their rights, like the sovereign citizens think they’re doing the same. They’re not. You’re not. Warren’s not.

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