Drug War

Florida Judge Pens Brutal Rebuke of Crooked Drug Cops

America needs more judges like this guy.

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Warner Bros.

America needs more judges like James Fensom. Yesterday, the Panama City (Florida) adjudicator threw out felony drug charges against alleged pot dealer Jeffery Gage after depositions revealed that the police officers who arrested Gage had broken the law in order to make their case.

In his ruling (which you can read in full below), Fensom called the actions of the Bay County Sheriffs Office "outrageous…shocking, [and] disturbing," and declared that they "simply cannot stand."

So what did the Bay County Sheriff's Office do to earn the rebuke? On July 15, 2011, while Jeffery Gage was appearing before Fensom for a different case, BCSO Sergeant Chad King snuck out to the courthouse parking lot and attached a GPS device to Gage's vehicle without a warrant or a court order. 

A month later, the Bay County Sheriffs Office intercepted a package addressed to Gage, containing 13 pounds of marijuana. They allowed Gage to receive the package without arresting him, then tracked him, allegedly using GPS, to a storage unit, which deputies searched; once again, without a warrant.

But the outrageous behavior doesn't end there: During the initial deposition stage, not one member of the Bay Sheriffs Office revealed that a GPS device had been planted on Gage's truck, or that officers trespassed twice in order to change the batteries on the device. Six months later, Sgt. King finally admitted that he'd attached a GPS device to Gage's vehicle, and that the "GPS evidence had been intentionally withheld from both [Gage] and the State." 

But wait, there's more outrage to come! When the BCSO finally turned over information gleened from tracking Gage, data from Aug. 24-25 of 2011–the day before and the day of Gage's arrest–had been deleted. The Bay County Sheriffs Office claimed the data wasn't deleted maliciously, but disappeared during a software update before the information could be saved. The BCSO dismissed the loss of data by claiming that officers had tracked Gage visually. That argument fell to pieces when officers gave conflicting testimony about tracking Gage during the second round of depositions. 

After concluding that the only appropriate response was to dismiss the charges against Gage, Judge Fensom took the Bay County Sheriffs Office to task:

"Law enforcement's conduct during the instant investigation and case is shocking, disturbing, and simply cannot stand. This planned, concerted, and lasting effort on the part of law enforcement to single out the Defendant and obtain the evidence necessary to convict him of the instant charges by any means necessary with complete disregard for his constitutional rights is a clear violation of the Defendant's due process rights. Indeed, it is apparent that law enforcement executed a calculated scheme to use improper means, and subsequently hide those means, in order to secure the defendant's conviction. In doing so, law enforcement has made it impossible for the defendant to present his only viable defense of illegal search and seizure in the instant case, as the only evidence upon which he could rely was destroyed by law enforcement. This clearly offends the sense of justice and fairness contemplated by the Florida Supreme Court in Williams.

To the extent that dismissal based on destruction of evidence in the instant case is a close call, such is only the case because of law enforcement's own misconduct. The Court simply will not allow law enforcement to purposefully prevent the Defendant from presenting viable defenses by violating his due process rights. Moreover, the court will not allow law enforcement to use unscrupulous acts to cover up other unscrupulous acts and then allow the state to argue that the Defendant cannot meet its burdens of proof, as law enforcement has illegally attempted to prevent the Defendant from doing so. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine a clearer example of this than what happened here; that is, law enforcement destroyed the only relevant GPS data after they obtained the data illegally and fully intended to withhold the data from everyone. Law enforcement clearly intended to cover up the illegal use of the GPS by both withholding and destroying the relevant GPS data from not only the Defendant, but also from the State. This clearly offends the sense of justice and fairness upon which the judicial system relies. The court simply will not allow law enforcement to secure conviction based on evidence obtained in such unscrupulous manners which clearly violated the due process rights of defendants. 

Read Judge Fensom's full ruling below: 

State of Florida v. Jeffery Scott Gage

Tip via Greg Newburn

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  1. The “Crooked” in the title is redundant.

    1. So the cops are in jail awaiting charges of evidence tampering right? Right??

      1. They’re on paid vacation and expect a promotion.

    1. I suspect Judge Fensom may be cited for speeding, swerving, and other unsafe driving violations quite frequently in the couple of years.

  2. Man, law enforcement agencies have a lot of trouble holding on to data. Maybe they need more IT support?

    1. Its a rule of nature that these guys turn into Matthew Brodrick’s character in War Games when they are doing something bad. When they are just supposed to fill out a PDF form, they’re fucking helpless.

  3. Also, apparently the only punishment they received in this case was that they’d have to try again with different charges and with a different judge.

  4. When are outraged judges going to be able to throw criminal charges at these fucking scum? Never.

    1. GET OUT OF MY HEAD

    2. Hans Blix: Then let me look around, so I can ease the UN’s collective mind. I’m sorry, but the UN must be firm with you. Let me in, or else.

      Kim Jong Il: Or else what?

      Hans Blix: Or else we will be very angry with you… and we will write you a letter, telling you how angry we are.

  5. Question for lawyers: are crooked cops like this ever charged with perjury for tampering with evidence like this? How about being held in contempt of court?

    1. I saw that happen in a movie once.

      1. This whole court’s out of order!

      2. But seriously, judges have the power to throw anyone in jail for a month for pretty much any reason at all, right?

        1. In solitary, even.

        2. I’m no litigator, but no, not exactly. Civil contempt can involve jail time, but that’s usually to compel you to do something, like pay. So if you pay the next day, you’re out.

          Criminal contempt is a different animal, but it’s got the usual high threshold for anything criminal.

          I think the record for incarceration civil contempt is something like 10 years, which is insane.

          1. Perjury and malicious destruction of exculpatory evidence should land you in jail for a bit.

            1. No argument from me. You should also, without any question, lose your fucking job.

              1. And then go after the prosecutor proferring this shit. Or at least yank their law licenses.

                Of course, we’d have to get rid of their absolute immunity first.

                Martha Stewart spent a year in prison for less.

                1. Again, it’s been a while since I’ve dealt with any of this, but if it’s unconstitutional but conducted “officially,” the state/local government itself may be subject to suit.

                  If it’s done outside of the scope of the office, then the state may not be legally liable, but the individual certainly is. In fact, all protection of office should vanish, so criminal and civil options should be available.

                  1. Don’t hold your breath.

    2. They get a half-hour dressing-down from the Captain for embarrassing the department and to be more careful next time they railroad a suspect. Isn’t that punishment enough?

      1. Chief: You’re off the case, McGonigle!
        McGonigle: You’re off your case, Chief!
        Chief: What does that mean exactly?
        Homer: [yelling] It means he gets results, you stupid chief!

    3. Very very very very very occasionally cops are charged with perjury or tampering with evidence. But remember that the one who usually files the charges is the Prosecutor, who works with these cops on a daily basis and probably considers themselves friends. Plus Cops then look the other way when a DA gets pulled over for a DUI. So there’s no incentive to prosecute the cops.

      Contempt of Court really wouldn’t apply to a violation of law like this. Unless the judge had issued an order the cops had ignored like turn over all GPS records and they intentionally refused to do so, then he might be able to.

      1. Destruction of evidence is okay?

  6. Meh. Nothing is going to happen to these pigs. They will not be criminally charged. Their unabridged immunity will not allow them to be civilly charged. Nope, the worst thing that will happen to these pigs is that they will be put on paid vacation for awhile.

  7. What a great ruling. Unfortunately Riggs left out the part where the officers and their boss were charged with multiple counts of trespassing, illegal search and seizure, wrongful arrest and myriad other charges (all with firearm enhancements).

    Oh, you mean they’ve not been charged?

    And by the way, it looks like the DA’s office was in on, or at least knew about, what the cops were up to. So you can count on this criminality being shrugged off and these criminals allowed to keep their monopoly on violence intact.

    1. We need to amend the law such that any citizen can bring criminal charges before a grand jury against any public official who they believe acted illegally in their official capacity.

      1. Actually, I guess the rule is that someone who had passed the Bar would have to present the charges, but stil…

        1. I think the grand jury’s power to issue presentments, without approval of the prosecutors, should be restored. With access to user-friendly software, grand jurors should be able to draw up accusations in proper legal form. They should also be able to retain a legal advisor who is a lawyer not affiliated with the prosecution.

          Presentments are specifically mentioned in the Fifth Amendment and in state constitutions. They are no innovation.

    2. They might have a federal option–a ?1983 action. It’s been a while since I paid any attention to that, but I think it can apply even when the official operates outside of the scope of his duties.

      1. I think the issue is whether they acted “under color” of their authority as law-enforcement agents of the state, as opposed to having a drunken orgy out of uniform while on break. If they’re running around in their uniforms on the state’s time and dime, violating suspects’ rights, then that would generally qualify as “under color” of state authority.

    3. Of course the DA’s office was in on it.

    4. Seriously, we have lawyers who post here: Do bar associations just not give a fuck that these DAs violate every ideal the law is supposed to stand for? If so, why? And also, if so, why the hell should I consider the bar a valid organization in any way?

      1. The Bar Association cares about two things: 1) whether your dues are paid up and 2) whether you screw up handling client funds.

        As for the rest, I agree with you. Start enforcing the ethics rules already against shitbags like these. Not like there’s a shortage of lawyers. Or a shortage of applicants to the DA’s office.

      2. Lawyer here. Bar associations are taking baby steps towards prosecutorial accountability, but it’s still ignored. I know there are more like me that think a lot more has to be done, but the majorities tend not to agree.

  8. That 13 pounds of marijuana could have poisoned 5 trillion school children, you nasty cosmotarians.

    The LAW is THE LAW!

    1. I always knew you were a yokeltarian, you Kentucky redneck insulin challenged mongoloid retard.

      1. Yeah but we have to be nice to him until he takes me to a tractor pull like he promised. I need the full yokeltarian experience!

        1. I’ll take you once I finally have that job my towering intellect DESERVES!

        2. Psst…hey, little girl…ever been to a school bus demolition derby?

          1. school bus demolition derby

            NOOOOOOOOOOO! Take me, take me in your van!

            1. Nicole is getting aggressive about ending her abandoned property status.

              1. I’ll abandon her again after I’m done, don’t worry.

                1. Send her over my way when you’re done. We can just pass her around Cleveland for a while.

                  On second thought, send her my way first. I don’t want your sloppy seconds.

                  1. They won’t be that sloppy.

                    1. Well, I suppose we could always go family style on her.

                    2. They won’t be that sloppy.

                      What has someone done with the real Warty?

                    3. I think he’s saying he has a small penis, Nikki.

                    4. It’s true. Why do you think I have so many guns?

                    5. I bet you drive a big ol pickem up truck, too. Maybe raised with big knobby tires?

              2. You know how needy women can be.

                1. ending her abandoned property status

                  Damn, girl… I’m going to live in you hostilely for the next seven years.

                  (When we moved in together I told my lady that I couldn’t wait for her to be my common-law wife.)

            2. Take me, take me in your van!

              I’ll take you in my van if Warty declines.

              Oh wait, do you mean bring you somewhere? Screw that – parking is like five bucks at those events.

          2. We had the kamikaze school bus driver from hell. Kids shit and pissed their pants on the way home.

        3. Well, if you want the full yokeltarian experience, you have to have sex with one of your siblings. I know a total whore like you has probably done that already, but I’m going to have to confirm just to be sure. Bonus points if it happened at a tractor pull.

          1. How could it have happened at a tractor pull if I haven’t even been to one yet? And besides, I’m not going to sleep with some greasy WOP like my brother.

            1. Look, if you’re not prepared to make some sacrifices, you’re not serious. Call me when you’re serious about having sex with a family member.

          2. You do know that blacks, not rednecks, are the most incestuous, right? Look it up if you don’t believe me. But I guess “facts be racist”, huh? Deliverence isn’t real life. I think people like you and your white-male hating comrades here need to realize that Hollywood isn’t real life.

      2. As a redneck, I find this comment offensive. Accurate, but still offensive.

        1. Epi is projecting again.

          1. Epi has the ‘beetus?

            1. He wishes he could have a cool disease like ‘beetus. His problem is that every orifice in his body undergoes random prolapse.

              1. My mom said that makes me special!

                1. Your mom also dressed you in nothing but denim until you were 15. Tell us about it, Epi. Tell us about the beginning of every school year when all the teachers and students thought you were Canadian.

                  “What did you bring for lunch? A moose?”

                  “Were you raised by hockey pucks?”

                  “Say ‘about’ again.”

                  1. I just moved here from Canada and they think I’m slow, eh?

                  2. DON’T YOU DARE MOCK THE DENIM LEISURE SUIT!!

                  3. “Say ‘about’ again.”

                    We actually did this to the Canadian kid who moved down and joined our cross-country team.

          2. Projecting what? My teeth are perfect, I’ve never committed incest*, and I hate Hee Haw. What else need be said?

            * not technically

            1. * not technically

              Go on…

              1. Go on…

                Yes, Epi… do tell.

            2. I’ve never committed incest*,

              First cousins are fine now?

              1. They have been since at least 2002.

                The researchers concluded that children of marriages between cousins inherited recessive genetic disorders, such as cystic fibrosis and Tay-Sachs disease, in 7% to 8% of cases. For the general population, the rate was 5%.

              2. Second cousins are just fine in most places. First cousins is reserved for places like WV and KY.

                1. And CA and NY.

                  A map, because maps are cool!

                  Dark Blue: Legal first cousin marriage
                  Light Blue: allowed with restrictions or exceptions
                  Pink: banned with exceptions
                  Red: statute bans first-cousin marriage
                  Dark Red: criminal offense.

                  1. Iowa, New Hampshire, and Washington (and maybe others, I just looked real quickly) ban cousin marriage and allow homo marriage. What about the poor homo cousins?

                    1. It’s truly an injustice. On the bright side, Sesame Street is in NY, right? Bert and Ernie are set.

                    2. It sure seems like the rationale for banning cousin marriage is rather inapplicable to gay marriages, so maybe they should only outlaw straight cousin marriage.

                    3. That’s odd, as the reason for banning cousin marriage was to reduce birth defects. Since gay couples can’t reproduce, the laws shouldn’t apply. So if hetero cousins want to marry, they ought to get a pair of gay cousins to apply for the law to be changed for just gay couples and then the hetero couple could file suit on equal protection grounds.

                      I figure it ought to be resolved in 10-12 years.

                    4. As the USA Today article states, the risks aren’t that much higher. It becomes problematic when you have a cultural incentive to repeatedly marry within the family (see European royal families and their hemophilia and giant ears). The laws should be scrapped for everybody, it’s considered taboo now, so people will resist changes in the law even if the science says it isn’t much of a problem.

                      I made some guys at a bar sad when I explained why lesbian twin porn shouldn’t be particularly taboo.

                    5. lesbian twin porn shouldn’t be particularly taboo.

                      BEST. THING. EVER!

                      “twins, Basil… TWINS!”

                    6. BEST. THING. EVER!

                      Yeah, I’ve never let my understanding of why something is taboo (and why it shouldn’t be) get in the way of thoroughly enjoying it.

                  2. The irony of Arkansas, Kentucky and WVa failing to recognize so many of the marriages that take place.

                  3. I’m worried – what do the red and ppink stripes on Arizona mean?

                    1. Sincere understanding if you’re queer, death penalty if straight.

            3. How could you hate Hee-Haw? Barbie Benton? Be serious.

    2. So enjoying having a dick in your ass is OK to you glibertarians, but police doing what it takes to bring dangerous drug pushers to justice isn’t.

    3. Meh, those school children are probably baking ketamine with their mother’s old pyrex baking dishes (the new stuff is shitty and explodes too often).

      1. Two cheap china plates works fine.

  9. police officers who arrested Gage had broken the law in order to make their case

    And the indictments will be coming down when?

    1. When hell freezes over.

  10. And do we have the name and home address of the prosecutor that let this case go forward?

  11. These scumbags are a disgrace to law enforcement. Good on this judge for calling it as it is.

    1. We’ll see if a prosecutor feels the same way. I’ll hold my breath.

      1. These scumbags ARE law enforcement.

  12. Kind of makes you wonder how many other cases the BCSO may have done something like this on but didn’t get caught? I would think it would make any previous convictions in similar cases suspect.

    1. It’s simple. All the drug cases that the officers who committed this gross misconduct on should be reexamined, and the defendants should be given the benefit of the doubt, not the crooked cops. When doubt – pardon/release the defendants. Noted that these guys didn’t plant evidence, they used unconstitutional procedures to get evidence, but either way, that’s unacceptable and it should render all their other convictions suspect AT A MINIMUM.

      They should be deposed or whatever on these previous cases, with perjury charges pending if they lie about ANYTHING and get to the truth of the matter. Iow, they should be given the opp to tell the truth on the previous cases with the warning that if they lie about anything, they get indicted.

      1. The fact that none of that will happen is one of the many reasons why I have zero faith in the police or in our legal system.

    2. I would think it would make any previous convictions in similar cases suspect.

      And if most of those convictions weren’t guilty pleas with a clause in the plea deal that the defendant couldn’t appeal the plea, you might be onto something.

      Too lazy to look for it, but is the fact that the testifying officer was lying out his ass, sufficient grounds to reopen a plea deal with a no-appeal clause?

  13. 98% of police give the rest a bad name.

    1. The vast majority of cops do their jobs honorably, just like the ones who brought you to justice for your DUI.

      That’s why the vast majority of americans have respect and admiration for cops, as polling data shows.

      Crooked cops should be dealt with, and these guys should be promptly fired and subject to civil suits.

      1. It’s honorable to lie on a report. Gotcha.

        1. No, but the vast majority of cops don’t do it. I’ve never done it and I made over 150 drug cases when I worked undercover.

          I’ve been to hundreds of scenes, conducted follow-up as a detective on scenes I’ve been at and I’ve never seen an inkling of dishonesty in reports or testimony in my career.

          Sandy Hook doesn’t mean that all gun owners are murderous scum, and this case doesn’t mean that all cops are crooked and willing to take shortcuts to bring the guilty to justice.

          Bad cops are out there, they will always be out there, and that doesn’t reflect on the vast majority of us who do our job with dignity, honor and honesty.

          1. I’m sorry, but I won’t believe there’s a good cop in that department until one of them arrests the officers involved in this criminal enterprise.

            They’ve been given the evidence of the crimes right there by the judge and their own admissions. Usually that’s grounds for arrest, am I right?

          2. we must ban cops! for the kidezes

          3. I’ve never seen an honest report of anything I’ve witnessed. Granted the sample size is small, but still. Even my last speeding ticket was a lie. I was traveling 60 in a 55 and the ticket was for going 65 in a 45.

          4. [I made over 150 drug cases when I worked undercover.]

            You’re a liar and I’m positive I can prove it.

        2. “the ones who brought you to justice”

          Why do I get the image of duster wearing, noose winding, 1870s marshals when I hear that?

      2. By the way, I wasn’t pissed about the DUI. I was pissed because while the guy who hit me ran a red light, and witnesses told the cop so, according to the report I staggered out in front of the car while the car had the right of way. As a result I had to shell out over a grand to fix the car that hit me.

        The fact that you’ve said you would have done the same thing, and the fact that you continually misrepresent what happened, indicates to me that you’re one of the 98% that give mythical good cops a bad name.

      3. That’s why the vast majority of americans have respect and admiration for cops, as polling data shows.

        No, it’s because the MSM apologizes for their rampant corruption.

        1. People respect the police because they don’t know any better. It’s only after they discover that cops care greatly about victimless crime and couldn’t give a shit less about crime victims that they learn to give police the contempt that they deserve.

          1. “Liberals are conservatives who’ve been arrested; conservatives are liberals who’ve been mugged.”

            As usual, no one cares about the poor libertarians.

          2. People respect the police because they don’t know any better.

            Wrong. People respect police because they don’t want to come to terms with the fact that those who are entrusted to watch over and protect the people may be some of the most corrupt members of society. It’s the same reasoning that keeps 85% of incumbents in office.

            1. It’s the same reasoning that keeps 85% of incumbents in office.

              Maybe so. I suppose they reason it away by saying “It’s the congressmen from the other states that are the problem” or “Yeah the cop was a corrupt asshole but I’m sure he’s the exception, not the rule.”

      4. And criminal charges.

  14. Is it fair to have a Riggs post about rogue cops and not have a Mel reference?

  15. Yeah, but all the good cops are disappointed in them. So they’ll straighten up and behave from now on.

    1. When you surround a rotten apple with a bunch of fresh apples, the rotten one gets good again, right?

  16. This makes a lot of sesen Dude.

    http://www.AnonHit.tk

  17. The BCSO dismissed the loss of data by claiming that officers had tracked Gage visually. That argument fell to pieces when officers gave conflicting testimony about tracking Gage during the second round of depositions.

    I look forward to reading about the forthcoming perjury charges against the cops.

    1. You know, generally speaking, I don’t think people get formally charged with perjury very much, unless there’s no other crime to nail them with. I’ve seen some blatant perjury committed in civil suits that’s gone unpunished–except to the extent that the judge/jury don’t believe shit the witness/party has said after the lies have been exposed, anyway.

      1. Yeah I think they reserve that charge for blowjobs.

        1. Politics aside, I think a sitting politician convicted of perjury probably should be ousted as a matter of course. The incredible irony that perjury is enough to lose a license to practice law for ten years–which is not common–but not enough to get tossed out of the presidency just seems to have been lost on an increasingly jaded and disinterested population.

          1. How did Paula Jones’s suit get past a statute of limitations challenge? Or laches, for that matter?

            I am no fan of Bill Clinton, though I’d rather have had him than the last 3 and counting terms of Bush the Lesser, but that suit was absolutely ridiculous.

            1. I don’t remember the details, but it’s very rare that a case withstands a challenge that the statute has run, so I imagine it hadn’t for some reason.

              1. Murder has no statue of limitations. Think of the sperm killed by that bitch’s saliva.

            2. I’d rather have had Marty Feldman as president than Little Bush.

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