it doesn't help that courtrooms are typically intimidating to first-time defendants, that judges may take shortcuts to cut off a timid objection ("well, the officer is testifying under oath that he is qualified and that the radar was accurate -- good enough") AND that evidentiary objections are typically difficult--for pro ses--to articulate such that even if they are overruled, they will be considered and reversed upon appeal.
I see a copy of a boiler-plate affidavit at least once a day. Sometimes I see them more than that. In my opinion, a judge who accepts these "forms" is committing an egregious abuse of judicial discretion. After all, the essence of our system and the rule of law is limitation of the discretion of officials and providing a process by which errors or abuse of discretion can be corrected.
SECTOR is not in and of itself a bad idea. Technology is a great thing, and I applaud our police system for taking advantage of it. However, Police officials have been abusing this new program to insert their boiler-plate affidavits. Most notably, the people who are committing the grossest abuse of SECTOR is the WSP.
I am actually waiting for myself to receive a WSP ticket and argue this gross injustice. I am hoping that I lose and can appeal once to the Superior Court, and lose again so that the case can further to the Appellate court.
As Barry said, it violates the spirit of the law, and in my opinion, violates due process.
Just some last food for thought: Imagine a man on trial for first degree murder. The prosecution, instead of introducing the witness, introduces a boiler-plate affidavit from the arresting officer, detective, and the doctor who determined cause of death. The judge let's this slide and he is convicted. Obviously, this would be grounds for retrial on appeal. So why would it not be grounds for retrial or dismissal for a Civil Infraction?
Wow, I really didn’t expect to stimulate this much conversation with my request. I actually expected for my post to just be ignored. Lol.
However, there seems to be some misconception in this conversation as to exactly what a radar affidavit is. The affidavit is NOT the officer’s sworn statement regarding the particular incident. All it is is a declaration, signed by the officer under penalty of perjury, that “these are the procedures that I am trained and required to follow – and I did so prior to and during this incident.” It is merely documentation of a routine, frequently repeated procedure. The OFFICER’S STATEMENT of the incident is on the citation itself.
Such “boilerplate” is a common and perfectly acceptable part of the judicial system, both criminal and civil. In BrendanjKeegan’s rather extreme example of the murder trial, yes, such “boilerplate” would be presented. For example, the coroner’s report would include a toxicology report. This would be a “boilerplate” form, that the lab tech signed under penalty of perjury, that he/she performed the listed tests, using the listed procedure, and received the listed results. It would also probably contain “boilerplate” language that he/she had the requisite experience and training to be qualified to perform the procedure properly. Not only is this acceptable, the defense will frequently simply stipulate to it. However, just like with an officer regarding a speeding ticket and radar affidavit, the defense is afforded the opportunity to call the tech (or officer) to the stand and compel testimony regarding that procedure.
Now, could an officer, tech, or anybody else simply say they did such and so on the form when they really didn’t? Of course they could. They could also do the same thing in an originally prepared narrative statement. The “boilerplate” aspect does nothing to either promote or discourage such unethical behavior.
With regard to blewis’ post, first, the idea of misrepresenting myself in my original post never even occurred to me. That would be unethical and my integrity is important to me. As for the accusation that my motivation is to “hurt” people, quite the opposite. While I certainly will not deny that there are the rare officers that write citations gratuitously, and some agencies that promote writing citations for revenue generation, neither I nor my agency are among them. I believe that such motivation is also unethical. The proper motivation for traffic enforcement (and MY motivation, btw) is to promote public safety. Last month I made just over 50 traffic stops. In the same month, I wrote exactly 2 civil infractions. One was for speeding and no child safety seat and the other (not really a traffic stop – I responded to a collision) was for unsafe backing and no insurance. The reason I write so few infraction citations is that I believe that, in the majority of instances, being pulled over and having an officer explain the error of their ways is sufficient to have that driver pull their head out of their a$$ and drive more safely. However, those stops also resulted in some criminal arrests. I once made a DV related kidnapping arrest that started from a speeding stop. I won’t go into the details, but it is quite possible that I prevented a murder (and certainly prevented the continuation of a serious injury assault) by making that speeding stop. And, yes, my radar and the procedure with which I used it were closely cross-examined and scrutinized in that case. If I had not used proper procedure to justify the stop, everything else I subsequently discovered would have been inadmissible and that violent predator would have walked (he didn’t).
More commonly, I have gotten several hundred DUIs off the road as a result of stops for infraction offenses. My motivation is NOT to “hurt” people, it is to prevent reckless, negligent, or simply stupid drivers from hurting someone else.
My motivation for creating the “boilerplate” radar affidavit is to incorporate it into written department policy to help ensure that officers ARE doing things properly. Obviously, if either I or one of my officers feels that someone DESERVES a speeding citation, I do not want that person to avoid the consequences of THEIR behavior because I omitted something or poorly worded something in the affidavit. But, I also want to help ensure that my officers are performing their duties properly and ethically. Making them sign under penalty of perjury that they performed the procedure properly and according to their training helps do this.
blewis, your suggestion about verifying the radar in moving mode is well taken and you are 100% correct. I thank you for your input.
Have it in a doc format? Can't help you with your form in docx...
And why are you not at the airports arresting the TSA for molesting people? Now they are searching people at the social security office, train stations, bus stations ... aren't there state laws regarding this that the feds are violating? Oh, state law does not apply to federal folks hummm.
Oh, and I know that many warrants are executed via traffic stops. Possible you prevented a murder? What, did you protest at an abortion clinic and the teen changed her mind? That's good.
Also, we train monkeys, not people...may wish to change the verbiage.
Put it in a doc format & I'll look at it. But your motivation, to be clear from my viewpoint, is not to insure things are done correctly, but just to create a paper trail wherein officers don't forget to plead that they did (a difference).
Davidmcbeth3, Ok, here is the link to a .doc version.
I thank you for any knowledgeable input you can give. However, I perceive a bit of prejudice in your post. I really wonder that you can equate a domestic violence assault and kidnapping with a woman visiting an abortion clinic in an effort to belittle me. Your “viewpoint” gives you absolutely no basis to question my motivation or ethics. I freely admitted that there are officers and agencies that conduct business in a way that I feel is unethical. And, if any person here has gotten a bad ticket because of such an officer or agency, I will also give them any help that I can. However, my motivation for doing so is NOT to help a guilty person “beat the rap.” My motivation would be to have bad procedure (or especially bad conduct or ethics) beat in court and provide motivation for the officer to do things RIGHT and hold that officer accountable. It is not in my, your, or the general public’s best interest to have unsafe drivers avoid accountability. However, it is likewise not in anyone’s best interest to have LEOs that do not follow proper procedure, give out bad citations, or make bad arrests.
And, btw, yes we train monkeys…AND people. Any PERSON who thinks that they are above training is in obvious need of more of it.
Just because I wear a badge and strive to protect my community from lawbreakers does not mean that I am no different than some Nazi Gestapo agent. I suggest that maybe YOUR motivation might benefit from some self-examination.
Wow! What is UP with some of you????
Hey, if you do not have anything to add, or do not want to offer up any advice, then don't. But, you are all deluding yourself if you believe for one moment that law enforcement, attorneys, courts, and a host of professions do not already use boilerplate language and templates in the course of their official duties. My agency has dozens of fill-in-the-blank templates for a host of activities including traffic collision reports, citation amendments, restraining order violations, public intoxication arrests, ad nauseum. They are, and will continue to be, standard fare for professionals around the nation and around the world.
Because that's not his job or assignment. His job is not to police the TSA it is apparently to work traffic. As such he has been assigned to make the task more efficient and to cut down on the waste of time and paper. Heavens! Something that might help out the taxpayers - perish the thought!Quoting davidmcbeth3
I'll tell you what ... even if the department does not have this sort of a form, any officer that does this regularly has his own boilerplate that he uses. We all do. I have a template like that for my collision investigations and my drug influence investigations. It saves me the time of having to re-type the same verbage over and over again ... and, why? I'm going to write it and communicate it in court as I was trained, and if my training was to state the issue in specific wording, then that's what my boilerplate will look like.
Yes, a great number of arrests are made in traffic stops. A great many officers are killed in them as well.Oh, and I know that many warrants are executed via traffic stops. Possible you prevented a murder? What, did you protest at an abortion clinic and the teen changed her mind? That's good.
I have no idea what the abortion clinic comment was about or where that came from.
Actually, people receive training. I have a lot of it. I also conduct training. I don't know what the semantic argument is on this.Also, we train monkeys, not people...may wish to change the verbiage.
No, the object is to have all the required information in a standardized format so that it is easier to present and understand.Put it in a doc format & I'll look at it. But your motivation, to be clear from my viewpoint, is not to insure things are done correctly, but just to create a paper trail wherein officers don't forget to plead that they did (a difference).
My only thought would be to also add a section for the officer to write down notes, or details such as approach, estimated distance, visual estimation of speed, and anything that might have made the vehicle stand out - color, noise, decals, etc. Now, if these issues are mentioned in some other document, then perhaps the radar affidavit is fine as it is.
I guess I actually do have something to contribute here, even though I live on the other end of the country currently. Almost all of my positions have required travel in various parts of the country. As a result, I have worn out many autos. Having traveled in many of the 48, over 2 million miles, I want to share my citation experiences briefly. Of the last 12 times I have been in contact with law enforcement, I received 1 ticket. Though that ticket was not deserved, due to incorrect signage, which the officer was aware of, I obtained council and it was amended to a no point charge. It is not that I was not required to explain myself and defend my position to law enforcement, it was because any transgressions were minor or perceived. I am thrilled this officer wants to perfect his craft, to effectively utilize his judgment. We need LEO's that are competent and capable of utilizing good judgment to screen motorists and sanction those who pose a danger to others.