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An Anemic Case Against Cleveland’s Mayor Megan Flanigan

Field Sobriety TestAdmittedly, it’s becoming all too common these days to hear of a mayor smoking crack and getting into trouble. I was shocked, initially when Mayor Barry admitted to this staggering revelation years ago while in the capital seat; he then managed to get himself re-elected to public office. Then comes Toronto Mayor Rob Ford who admitted to getting drunk and smoking crack! Not a tremendous revelation just looking at this man. Evidently, there is a push to get rid of this man but, alas, they appear to be unable to, so the people are instead voting to strip him of his authority. It’s a strange world we live in when a mayor admits to smoking a dangerous and illegal substance and cannot even be removed from office.

Having said that, the purpose of this article is to shed some light on Grafton, Cleveland’s Mayor Megan Flanigan. She allegedly was driving drunk when she struck a fire hydrant near her home. The news article was not clear regarding what happened next but it indicated she either returned to the scene or possibly never left because when the cops arrived, she was still on scene. This is important because if a defendant leaves the immediate scene, goes home and consumes alcohol prior to the police arriving, there is no way to prove DUI. The cops subsequently observed alcohol on her breath and requested she perform roadside gymnastics (FSTs-mistake #1) which evidently did not go well since she was subsequently arrested. The news failed to indicate what, if any, number she blew at the station (mistake #2), if she did blow.

The news said, however, that after exiting the police cruiser they found an illicit pill in the back seat, which they are using to charge her with possession of drugs. Chances are good that this will not stick, because the police failed to properly search her before placing her in the cruise; that, however, does not stop them from charging her with the crime (ie. Let’s cover our butts even though we failed to do the right thing).

The Mayor, in this case, hit a fire hydrant. It’s not clear if her airbags deployed, thereby hitting her in the face and chest area. Either way, deployment or not, following an accident, the field tests are a dumb idea; even the NHTSA field manual says sobriety tests following an accident may not be reliable! (Hello? Mcfly?) These tests are hard enough for a sober person to perform in the dark and under the stress of an arrest. Factor in an accident of any significance, compounded by an airbag explosion, and they become the most ridiculous display of physical acumen that one can ask for. The police however could care a less about the impropriety of the “test,” they just desire the ever elusive conviction. They are after the conviction, just like the prosecutor’s office. Thus, any evidence that supports their contention that a driver was drunk when operating their vehicle will work for them. It is important for the motorist to know they are being railroaded and to say to the cop “no freaking way I am doing roadside gymnastic tests following an accident.” Frankly, one should say that same line under any circumstance, accident or not, because the stupid tests are strictly voluntary and designed to be offered under circumstances which all but guarantee the motorist’s failure.

Now, regarding the pill in the car, give me a break! Since the police apparently failed to search this woman at the time of arrest, their failure is on the cops. If they had properly searched her at arrest, then they wouldn’t have to worry about finding drugs in the back of their cruiser. Anything you find in the car after the arrest is too damn bad. There is no way to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that something that small was not left there by the previous guest in the police cruiser. If the police are unable or unwilling to search the defendant pursuant to police procedure, what should make the court think they are able to properly search and clean their own car? In other words, if there is blame to go around, it should fall on the police, not an innocent (and possibly drunk) mayor.

In the final analysis, it is indeed unfortunate to have another mayor fall from grace, like so many judges and politicians before her, but in reality, this case sounds a little anemic to me.

To learn more about our blog An Anemic Case Against Cleveland’s Mayor Megan Flanigan, or to schedule your free consultation, give Robinson & Associates a call at 443-524-7395. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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