L.A. Times Makes Numerous Misstatements Regarding Mel Gibson Case
Yes, there are more important things going on in the world right now. But I know something about this, so I’m going to talk about this.
The L.A. Times reports: Some Attorneys Voice Surprise as Gibson Is Charged Only With DUI.
Some veteran DUI attorneys said they were surprised that an “excessive speed enhancement” was not filed against Gibson — a charge that would mandate jail time.
“If you’re going 25 mph over the speed limit, that would greatly increase your chances of jail time,” said attorney Jonathan I. Kelman. “The fact that they didn’t file the speed enhancement — that makes me wonder,” Kelman said. “Ninety percent of my clients out of Malibu would face that enhancement if [law enforcement officials] thought they could prove the speeding.”
Under state law, a driver under the influence whose speed exceeds the posted limit by 20 mph or more on streets or 30 mph on highways faces a minimum of 60 days in jail.
It is not enough to be DUI and drive over 20 mph on streets or 30 mph on highways. You also have to be driving recklessly.
California Vehicle Code section 23582 states:
Any person who drives a vehicle 30 or more miles per hour over the maximum, prima facie, or posted speed limit on a freeway, or 20 or more miles per hour over the maximum, prima facie, or posted speed limit on any other street or highway, and in a manner prohibited by Section 23103 during the commission of a violation of Section 23152 or 23153 shall, in addition to the punishment prescribed for that person upon conviction of a violation of Section 23152 or 23153, be punished by an additional and consecutive term of 60 days in the county jail.
Section 23103 prevents reckless driving.
So it’s not enough to be DUI and speeding — you also have to be driving recklessly. And the presence of the word “and” means that being DUI and speeding is not enough. There must be something more to amount to reckless driving.
I don’t know all the facts of this case, but I’m not aware of any facts that would satisfy that element.
Next we have Laurie Levenson weighing in, as she always does:
Laurie Levenson, a law professor at Loyola Law School, said Gibson’s bellicose behavior toward the deputy made it a borderline case for resisting arrest and making criminal threats, both felonies.
Criminal threats? That requires a victim who says they feared for their safety. But:
In an interview with The Times on Monday, Mee called the incident “just another routine stop that just got a little escalated…. This is just another drunk driving incident. It just happened to be a celebrity versus Joe Blow public.”
Doesn’t sound too threatened. There goes any “criminal threats” case.
And for resisting arrest to be a felony, it has to be by means of force or violence. I have no knowledge of any such behavior by Gibson. So where is the felony???
I don’t know whether these silly statements are the paper’s fault or Levenson’s. Favoring the former theory, she seems to agree with the charges — I think:
“Prosecutors had to use their discretion. A different defendant, a different situation, you might have seen those charges added,” Levenson said, adding that the charges filed appeared to be appropriate. “But I think people will be suspicious as to whether he has received celebrity treatment because of the way this case has been handled from the beginning.”
To recap, as a certain sock-puppet might say: the speed enhancement requires more than speed, despite what the paper says. Criminal threats cases require someone who was scared, which we don’t have here. And felony resisting requires force or violence, which we don’t have here.
Other than that, it’s a great story.