Judge Throws Out DUI Case, Says Police Had Quotas...
A Judge in Howard County, Maryland recently threw out DUI charges against a woman, because he says the police were pulling people over to meet quotas. The Judge said that the charges were linked to an illegal quota indicating that officers had to cite two to four motorists every hour.
It is currently unclear how many other cases might be affected by the Judge's ruling, which involved federally funded initiatives that targeted drunk drivers from January through April of 2011. At least two other similar cases are pending before the same judge.
The Police Chief, William J. McMahon, called District Judge Sue-Ellen Hantman's decision a "bad ruling" and said an appeal is likely. The police chief said a memo distributed to officers contained, "in retrospect, not the best wording," and conceded that he "could see how it could be misinterpreted."
The fact of the matter is, that people generally think they were pulled over because the officer needed to make his monthly quotas. I hear this from my clients all of the time, but this is the first time I've heard of a judge actually throwing out a criminal case based on it.
This case was especially surprising as well because Judge Hantman is a former prosecutor there in Howard County, Maryland!
The whole quota issue arose because of the federal grant, which included ways to measure performance. The Police Chief said that the grant "mandated that an average of 2-4 citations must be written per hour on each of these details by each officer or future funding may be withheld." Since the Grant said this the Chief had decided to include it out in a memo to his officers...
Definitely sounds like a quota / moneygrab to me. It's comical that the Police Chief in this case disputes the fact that they were using a quota, no matter the termonology they use it's still a quota. And at the end of the day it's nice to see a former prosecutor as a Judge taking a stand against these types of practices. But it makes you wonder about these Federal Grants in states across the nation and about how many people are being pulled over unjustly, and charged with DUI just so these officers can meet their quotas....
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Thanks to Peter Hermann, The Baltimore Sun for the story.