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Feds Spend 800K to Shame Judges and Drunk Drivers on Twitter!

Sep 2nd, 2016 DUI Enforcement DUI Penalties

The brilliance of our founding fathers was to create a system with three co-equal branches of government.  The police who arrest drunk drivers are members of the executive branch of government.  They enforce the laws written by the legislators.  Judges are of course members of the judiciary, and their job, in part, is to hold the police who arrest drunk drivers to certain legal standards, including those set forth in our constitution.

We live in a time though when the executive branch of government has become considerably more powerful than either the judiciary or the legislative branches of government. This new federal program is a perfect example of how this tilt toward the executive is perpetuated.

It was reported in April, 2016, that New Mexico’s governor announced that an $800,000 government funded court monitoring contract will result in hundreds of people having updates about their drunk driving cases publicized on Twitter.

The way it works is this: MADD send paid court-watchers to start keeping track of the status of drunk driving cases in six New Mexico counties.  Each time an offender’s case is in court, the outcome of that hearing will be broadcast via Twitter and other social media.  Cases will be followed from start to finish, all the way to dismissal or sentencing.

According to MADD and the New Mexico governor, the purpose of the program is to “hold the justice system accountable for failing to punish DWI criminals.”  Furthermore, the program will “target generous plea bargains, lenient sentencing, absent police officers and low bond amounts that let suspected offenders out on the streets to possibly continue drinking and driving.”

The idea here is to meddle in the criminal justice system and put pressure on judges and prosecutors who handle these cases. The underlying goal is to be sure all people arrested for DUI are convicted of DUI, and punished harshly.  An underlying result however will be that police are not held accountable.

Here’s why.  New Mexico’s judges are elected.  This means they have to answer to a constituency each time they run for re-election.  Most people think they want tough on crime judges because it makes them feel safe.  So what happens when a police officer violates the constitution?  Well, judges are supposed to hold them accountable, and this might mean dismissing a drunk driving case – which is a very unpopular thing to do.  And, if a judge knows this could impact their next election, that same judge might be far more reluctant to find that the constitution was violated.  When this happens over and over again, pretty soon the police start to realize they don’t have to worry about legal technicalities such as the constitution, because the judges won’t do their job and hold them accountable.

Many people think that if they have “nothing to hide” they have nothing to worry about.  Overzealous police are someone else’s problem.  That is, until they caught up in the ever-expanding law enforcement net.  In order for the system to work, we don’t need judges to be tough on crime, that job is for the police.  We need judges that will be tough on police officers.  Otherwise, the rights we have, as set forth in the constitution have no meaning.

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