Super Bowl XLIX Creates Need for Increased DUI Awareness in Arizona, According to Arizona DUI Lawyers Corso Law Group

Super Bowl Sunday ranks as one of the most dangerous times of the year for drunk driving-related deaths. According to a recent article by MADD, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 43 percent of traffic fatalities were caused by drunk driving on Super Bowl Sunday and the following Monday in 2012, as compared to the 31 percent average for other days of the year. (more…)

Phoenix Considers Body Cameras for All Police to Reduce Use-of-Force Complaints

Use-of-force complaints decrease significantly for police departments equipped with body cameras, but the cost could hold some, like the Phoenix Police Department, from taking advantage of this technology.

A year-long study evaluating the effect of body-worn video cameras in police patrol practices by the Police Foundation Executive Fellow, Chief Tony Farrar, found a 50 percent decrease in the number of use-of-force complaints against officers wearing the cameras.Police Using Body Cameras

It would cost at least $3.5 million to equip all first-responding Phoenix officers with body cameras, Phoenix Police Chief Joe Yahner said. That price estimate includes the costs to gather and store footage, but wouldn’t cover the cost of personnel.

Many small and medium-sized cities like Austin and Minneapolis are utilizing these cameras to increase police accountability and transparency in light of growing tension between communities and local police departments around the country.

Phoenix, the country’s sixth most populated city, is moving toward using body cameras after an Arizona State University study found that complaints against officers decreased when actions of both officers and citizens were recorded.

A study of Mesa police officers who wore body cameras saw a 40 percent decrease in total complaints and a 75 percent decrease in the number of use-of-force complaints over the course of a year.

In order for Phoenix to implement this technology, police would have to create a policy that dictates how to manage and edit mass quantities of data, then share it with prosecutors.

In the near future, supporters advocating for Phoenix police to wear body cameras say that both citizens and officers would benefit. Officers would be protected from false allegations and citizens could rest assured knowing that all interactions with police would be recorded.

Virginia Lawmaker Wins Re-election While Serving Jail Time

Del. Joseph D. Morrissey, 57, resigned his seat after being charged for a sex scandal involving a teenage employee but recently won it back during a special election, which he campaigned for from his office as a legislator by day, returning to jail at night to serve time for misdemeanor charges. Now, he’s being indicted on multiple new felony charges.

Morrissey was convicted last month for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He was originally charged with multiple felony charges for being sexually involved with a young woman, prosecutors allege, but instead agreed to a plea deal requiring him to serve six months in jail for misdemeanor charges.
Joseph Morrissey

Prosecutors accused Morrissey of having sex with former 17-year-old employee Myrna Pride, saying nude photos of the girl from Morrissey’s cellphone were shared with a friend, AP reports.

Pride, now 18, is pregnant and both she and Morrissey said the accusations are not true. It is unclear whether Morrissey is the father.

His sentence was later reduced to 90 days with work release. Morrissey wears an ankle bracelet so that Virginia law enforcement can keep track of him while he goes to work during the day, and then he returns to jail at night.

Morrissey’s defense team released a new document showing that he and Pride were meeting to discuss legal problems she was having with her parents – not to engage in an illegal relationship.

The document is a fabricated court order, said special prosecutor to the case William Neely in an article in the Washington Post. However, who forged it is still under investigation.

Morrissey is accused of forging the document and persuading Pride’s mother, Deidre Lashawn Warren, to swear to its authenticity during her testimony, Virginia publication The Free Lance-Star said. Both are facing perjury and forgery charges.

Due to urges from the House, Morrissey resigned his seat until reelection time when he ran as an independent and won over his constituency with approximately 42 percent of votes.

Morrissey has been able to run for reelection despite his legal problems because the Constitution only requires that the person running lives in the state at hand, is at least 25 years old and has been a U.S. citizen for seven years. It’s up to the members of Congress in each state to determine whether a person, if elected, is qualified and can go through the process of expelling or suspending the him or her if enough votes are gathered.

Virginia House delegates have been disturbed by the sex scandal, and although Morrissey has been sworn in again, he was stripped of committee assignments, had to give up his old office and his desk on the House floor was put in a far corner, according to the AP.

“This is a truly painful and embarrassing chapter for the oldest continuously operating legislative body in the world,” said House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford). “The House will evaluate these new indictments as it pertains to disciplinary action,” he said in The Washington Post.

This is not the first time Morrissey has been in the news. In 1993, he gained the nickname “Fighting Joe” after engaging in a fistfight with another lawyer in court. He has also faced several contempt of court citations and lost his license to practice law but was later reinstated.

Morrissey is popular among voters, and is well liked for being a representative who fights for the underdog. Even if the House decides to expel him – this hasn’t happened since 1876 – Morrissey has a strong following of voters who could support him.

WM Phoenix Open, The Greatest Show on Grass, Returns to Scottsdale This Week

The Waste Management Phoenix Open is one of the most popular PGA tour stops in the country, known for top-notch golf and even more serious partying, which has led Arizona police departments to monitor the event more closely.

“It’s become an iconic sporting event in our country,” said Dan Calihan, the 2015 Tournament Chairman. “It’s a show. It’s an event as much as it’s a golf tournament.”

Many drink all day, which is why Valley police departments from Mesa, Scottsdale, Gilbert and Tempe have joined forces the past several years to crack down on drunk driving near the event with the “Know Your Limit” campaign.Phoenix Open

Police at the event warn attendees to find a safe way home after the Open, going as far as offering breathalyzer tests to show impaired partygoers that they can’t get behind the wheel.

The Scottsdale Police Department offered 2,100 Breathalyzer tests in 2014 and 60 DUI related arrests, Sgt. Tom Jensen said, according to ABC 15 in Phoenix. The previous year, approximately 600 tests were taken, leading to 120 arrests.

The Phoenix Open is notorious for rowdy spectators drinking at the 16th hole, where thousands of fans can get up and close and watch celebrity athletes, as well as the Coors Light Birds Nest where big-name performers take the stage several nights in a row.

“There’s no denying the Phoenix Open gathers a fun-loving crowd,” said Christopher P. Corso, founding partner of Corso Law Group. “It’s just a matter of keeping everyone safe once the events are over and done with. We help plenty of people with DUI charges after the Open, it’s our job to defend their rights.”

This year, police will continue to increase patrols and monitor DUI checkpoints near the TPC Scottsdale golf resort.

The experienced Arizona DUI lawyers at Corso Law Group are well versed in the law and will do everything in their power to fight for you and your family. If you or a loved one is facing DUI charges in Arizona, contact Corso Law Group.

To schedule a free consultation, please visit www.corsolawgroup.com or call (480) 471-4616. Corso Law Group, PLCC is located at 14500 N. Northsight Blvd., Suite 116 in Scottsdale, Arizona, 85260.

Church Sues Over Sign Codes, Outcome Could Affect Free Speech Rights

A small church in Gilbert, Arizona has taken its sign case to the U.S. Supreme Court, hoping to change the city’s code, which depending on the outcome, could directly impact future rulings regarding First Amendment rights.

Signs advertising real estate agents and political campaigns populate streets and sidewalks for weeks at a time, while others are restricted to more specific dates and sizes, leading the church to believe that its free speech rights have been violated.Good News Presbyterian Church

The First Amendment issue facing this case is content neutrality. Content-neutral regulations aim not to limit speech but to provide regulations based on the circumstances of how types of speech can take place.

Good News Presbyterian Church rents space to hold its services for approximately 30 adults and 10 children. Good News pastor Clyde Reed argues that the sign code in place in Gilbert is discriminatory because it specifies the size of the signs he can put up to advertise the church’s religious services as well as the number of signs and how long they are permitted to stay posted.

Directional signs posted in public places, like local neighborhoods and retirement communities, must not exceed 6 square feet, can be posted no earlier than 12 hours before the event and must be taken down within an hour after the event’s end. By contrast, political signs may be as large as 20 square feet and can remain posted for the duration of a political campaign, The Washington Post said.

The city said that Reed’s rights have not been violated by the sign code because all non-commercial signs must follow the same rules, regardless of content. However, Alliance Defending Freedom, the Scottsdale-based conservative Christian activist group representing Reed, argues that Gilbert’s code may not be content neutral just because the city said it does not discriminate based on content, azcentral reports.

The Supreme Court appears to be leaning in favor of the church; but their ruling could simply affect the Gilbert ordinance and little else, or the justices could take a broader ruling that could affect future free speech cases.

Reed first sued Gilbert in 2007, after the he was cited for posting signs too early. Since then, other courts have ruled in favor of the city.

Several religious activist groups and the Obama administration support Reed and are urging the Supreme Court to change the city’s sign ordinance, The Washington Post said.

An opinion is expected to be given by the Supreme Court by June.

The guidance of an experienced attorney can make all the difference when it comes to defending your rights, which is why you shouldn’t take on a case alone.

If you’re looking for a trustworthy attorney, contact Corso Law Group today. Your case will be handled by a licensed Arizona or Texas attorney.

Why a Public Defender Isn’t Enough

Gideon’s Law states that under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, every state has an obligation to provide counsel in criminal cases to represent those defendants who can’t afford to hire a private attorney.

However, many people have a misunderstanding of the public defense system and do not realize that choosing a public defender over a private attorney can be very hurtful to the outcome of their case resulting in a higher chance of being convicted as well as more severe punishment during sentencing.

Anyone who is in need of a defense lawyer should consider every aspect of using the public defense system. There are some serious issues plaguing the system including the fact that public defense lawyers are given hundreds upon hundreds of cases over the course of a year. This only allows lawyers enough time to spend 2 hours or less on each case.

In some cases a public defender technically has only minutes to spend on each assigned case and is given more than 800 cases annually. More than half of the countries legal systems also prevent public defenders from refusing to take on additional new cases.

With such minimal amount of time dedicated to each client, many defendants are simply encouraged to enter a guilty plea for the sake of resolving the case even if they might have otherwise had a relatively high chance of successfully fighting the charges against them.

Another large issue with the public defense system is a severe lack of funding. The result is that defenders do not have the necessary means to access certain resources that could make or break a case such as legal research, investigators and field experts.

More importantly, due to the problems with funding, those who are under the impression that they will save loads of money by using a public defender may be disappointed after finding themselves having to pay high amounts of court fees.

According to NPR, there has been a huge growth in the use of court fines and fees to finance the criminal justice system and other state programs. An NPR survey found that 43 states require defendants to pay fees in order to have a public defender represent them in court.

With a private attorney, there is no need to be concerned about those issues that are all too common in the public defense system. Opting to hire a private attorney gives the defendant a greater fighting chance of winning their case and saves him/her from having to worry about whether or not they are receiving the best representation in court.

Private attorneys have the education, time and resources to spend working each client’s case and will fight to get the best outcome possible in court.

ASU Professor Files $2 Million Claim Against Campus Police

The arrest of ASU English professor Ersula Ore caught the nation’s attention last year, and now she’s fighting back with a $2 million claim against the university.

On May 20, 2014, Ore was arrested on charges of aggravated assault on a police officer, criminal damage, refusal to provide truthful name and obstructing a public thoroughfare. She later pleaded guilty to one count resisting arrest, and the other charges were dropped.

Ore was sentenced to nine months probation.

The notice of claims she filed in November accuses ASU Police Officer Stewart Ferrin of excessive force, false arrest and violation of her federal rights to due process, azcentral reports.

Financial, emotional and psychological damages resulted from the arrest in May, according to the claim, and Ore said she feels degraded and humiliated.

“She also continues to suffer from confusion and anxiety that she is not safe in the presence of uniformed officers,” the claim states.

Ore was crossing a street on the ASU campus in Tempe when Officer Ferrin stopped her and asked for identification. She refused to give ID and questioned why she was stopped, sparking confrontation between the two.

“Personally I’m wondering what about me seemed to be a threat, so much so that it warranted an officer touching me and violating me,” Ore said before Superior Court Commissioner Julie Mata last year.

Ore reportedly kicked the officer in the shin, and Ferrin threatened to “slam” her onto the hood of the police car.

Witnesses of the confrontation called police when the Ferrin became aggressive, throwing Ore to the ground.

The police car’s dashboard camera recorded the confrontation, and the video made national headlines leading civil groups to believe that racial profiling was involved in Ore’s arrest.

ASU recently notified Ferrin that he would be fired, but Ore’s attorney, Daniel Ortega, said his client will continue to press charges regardless of the result of Ferrin’s termination hearing.

The university is currently reviewing the claim, ASU spokesman Mark Johnson said.

The experienced attorneys at Corso Law Group understand that cases involving assault are complicated and require professional attention. Our team will hear your story and defend your rights to our best ability, all while treating you with respect every step of the way.

For help with Arizona DUI charges, please call Corso Law Group at our Phoenix office at (480) 471-4616, or reach us at our Houston office at (713) 231-0499 for Texas DWI charges.