Friday, February 02, 2007

Ruling For The Defendant

Here's one where, at least from what little I know, I'd be ruling for the defendant. One of a few cases I've seen over time where I'd side with the accused rather than the prosecution. Sad part is, I don't see why this even ended up in court.

Without going into all the details, and keeping in mind that all I know is what I've read in the paper, looks to me like the situation here got way out of hand.

Former sheriff's deputy, now Chief of Ferndale P.D., Lonnie Lawson, arrests a guy for child endangerment under some rather shaky circumstances. He also charges him for Interfering With An Officer- sometimes referred to as Contempt of Cop by those in the business.

From what I can see, defendant Sean Marsh, made an uncomfortable situation worse by ignoring Lawson. Lawson seized the moment and escalated it further by apparently getting his feathers ruffled and jacking the situation up even more.

This whole thing should have probably been dropped after the initial confrontation was over when cooler heads could have dealt with it.

A couple questions I have, though: Does the Marsh family live in Ferndale? Have they had dealings with Lawson before? Does Sean Marsh have a record of criminal activity or hostility towards law enforcement? Has Lawson has similar problems with others in Ferndale?

Somehow this smells like the result of a long- standing personal feud, or something along that line. But I don't know enough about it. I don't live in Ferndale.

51 Comments:

At 9:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Marsh's live in Ferndale. He has not criminal history.

This is another example of a really screwed up DA who will let rapists go and then go after an average parent. Shit, anyone remember what that SOB did to Penny O'Gara?

 
At 9:42 AM, Blogger Rose said...

Apparently all the child abusers have disappeared in Humboldt County and now we can throw the full force of the law against responsible parents who let their kids walk a few feet in front of them.

 
At 9:53 AM, Blogger Heraldo said...

The NCJ gave good background on this story last September.

 
At 10:13 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Thanks, Heraldo. Yeah, that was the first time I'd heard of the incident. Despite the NCJ focusing on Marsh's story, I was still surprised this made it all the way to court.

As an aside, in Lawson's defense (kinda); What's a cop going to do when someone insists on walking away from you or won't show identification? Just let him keep walking?

Aside #2: In a small town like Ferndale, I can't believe most folks don't have at least some idea of who every one in town is so why ask for I.D.?

Then again, I'll admit to watching reruns of Mayberry R.F.D. nearly every night. I need to keep that in mind that Ferndale might not be much like Mayberry.

 
At 10:32 AM, Blogger Heraldo said...

If Marsh's story is correct (and I have no reason to disbelieve him), Lawson got overzealous. It's a case of life imitating South Park. "Respect my authoriti."

What a waste of court time.

 
At 10:54 AM, Blogger Carol Ann said...

Sean and Allison are good people. They once owned a fabulous bakery and catering business in Ferndale prior to having their children and both worked 7 days a week. This was prior to when Lawson was police chief of Ferndale. I co-managed the Fortuna Farmer's Market with Sean one season probably 10 or 11 years ago.
Allison and I sang soprano together in the Ferndale Choir one Christmas. I wish them well.

 
At 11:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a tough situation because we can't have people ignoring cops' demands. It's the power we give them with the badge;dumb as they sometimes are...

 
At 1:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everybody in Uptown Ferndale (that's what we call it) knows Sean and Allison. The chief doesn't even live in Ferndale and if he had to ask for identification, he just showed his ignorance of the community he's supposed to serve. All he had to do was ask one of the many bystanders to the incident.

Sean is known for having a temper, but supposedly the chief has the training and temperment to deal with this sort of thing without having it escalate to this rather ridiculous situation.

Gee, CAST is dismantled, and abuse charges plummet, but we can spend time on this? Check out Jack May's cartoon in this week's Ferndale Enterprise.

One final note, there are kids all over Main Street, so always drive slow uptown.

 
At 1:28 PM, Blogger ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

Kalifornia must have elevated 273a PC to felony status in the last few years for the bail to be $50,000.00. That was my bail after getting in the shootout with Richard Kelley in November 2004.
http://fightingintheshade.blogspot.com/2006/03/true-california-horror-story.html
Lawson needed to arrest for a felony as there is no requirement for a citizen to produce ID in a public place during daylight. I used to be the vacation relief chief of police in a town the size of Ferndale (Avalon, Catalina Island) and everyone knows everyone else. It sounds definitely like a "contempt of cop" situation. The DA has obviously filed a misdemeanor case on Marsh which is bullshit as a rejection would have been appropriate due to the time he spent in jail but that's life in the Humboldt soviet.

 
At 3:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually 273a is a wobbler Leonidas.

 
At 3:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a bunch of irrational cophaters

 
At 4:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It appears there is no reason to suspect that anyone exercised good judgment here. The one curious thing is that the judge is Cissna.
He can be a pompous ass, but he runs a good courtroom. If he didn't force a resolution, something may be up. Also, the prosecutor loves to offer a delayed entry of judgment, so again, this case should not have gotten this far unless everyone is suffering terminal craniorectal inversion.

 
At 4:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Folks, we don't live in the soviet union. Not only does the cop have to write the ticket, the DA prosecute, but a judge who is supposed to be independent of these two sits over the proceedings. We may even get a jury. It is never any ONE person being an asshole and screwing over some Ferndale resident.

In any case, my understanding of why you shouldn't move to Ferndale is that most the people who live their are uptight. This is what it sounds like to me.

 
At 4:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have to obey an officer, even an officer exercising extremely poor judgement.

 
At 5:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you there BUT not obeying an officer is not felony or misdemeanor child abuse.

The cop made a mistake, the DA totally fucked up man.

 
At 5:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1:28 I'm just curious.

When were you the relief Police Chief in Avalon?

 
At 5:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

5:18 PM-Apparently when he was asleep if he thinks you don't have to "produce ID in a public place during daylight". I think he might wanna have someone read him California Penal Code Section 148. If you are not free to leave, like if an officer is questioning you for some possible criminal violation, it doesn't matter if it's daylight or not, you must show ID or you get to sit in jail as John Doe for a while. Even if you're some Ferndale snob that lets his kid run all over and thinks he needn't lower himself to talk to a common public servant about it.

 
At 5:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well 5:27...

Avalon has been a contract city for law enforcement services with the LA County Sheriff's Department for decades....ergo...no police Chief for a long long time.

There was a local gadfly in the 90's who called himself the "Chief" and specialized in beefing the deputies who were assigned there.

RE: The Ferndale incident. Wasn't it about the Child Endangerment and not "obstruction?"

Sounds like everyone overreacted.

 
At 6:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, but if your child is on a street corner unattended you should be questioned. And if you give the cop guff, he should throw the book at you.

 
At 6:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, it's funny to have such a deep talk about a simple issue. Not obeying an officer is just plain stupid; when you do, expect a tidal wave of shit coming to your lap.

 
At 6:24 PM, Blogger ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

3:31PM You are right, 273a is a wobbler as are a host of other so called felonies. That is why so many poor people sit in jail for up to 72 hours only to be "cited out" and later appear for arraignment to learn that they have either been charged with a misdemeanor or that there are no charges filed. Those who have financial resources and bond out, enrich the bonding companies. "EEEvil corporations"
3:46 PM "...irrational cophaters". Au contraire. The cops are the ones we put on the streets to handle the bullshit that the "central committee" in Sacramento shoves down our throats.
4:32PM "It is never any ONE person being an asshole and screwing over some Ferndale resident." You are absolutely correct. It is the fucked up system that causes citizens to be screwed over. As for Ferndale, it is probably to be preferred over the typical community in the Peoples Republic of Kalifornia.
4:37 Sadly, you are correct. Welcome to the PRK.
5:18 The city of Avalon contracts for police services with the L.A. County Sheriff's Dept. and it fell in the Lennox Sheriff's Station area. The Lieutenant (commander) of the Catalina Island Station was replaced 5 weeks per year (1970 1974) for vacation and overtime by yours truly (a sergeant) who had spent 2 years (1965 1967) as a patrol deputy at that assignment.
5:27PM I have made many arrests for 148PC and can assure you that unless reasonable cause to believe a crime has been committed a peace officer cannot demand ID from a citizen.

 
At 6:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those people in Ferndale are there own kind of nut. Half of them still speak of Dustin Hoffman as though they know him personally. Half of those are concerned you have a monkey in your backyard.

 
At 6:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well...apologies Sarge (6:24)

Being a Deputy assigned to Avalon was a choice assignment. But, you're right about everyone knowing everyone else and, the locals feeling as though they owned the deps.

That's why a certain discretion is needed in such assignments...not unlike Ferndale. I think I am making your point for you.

I was involved with LASD through the '90's and I saw a quantum shift in contract city policies as Block, then Baca sought to expand their universes of discourse. Avalon was always a special pain in the ass.

But, I always loved spending a few days there to settle some working conditions issue.

 
At 7:18 PM, Blogger ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

A few days there was fine but dealing with the prima donnas in the city govt made it not the "choice assignment" that it appears on the surface. As for Lee Baca, I knew him when we were both sgts. That's another matter. Suffice it to say that I am EXTREMELY pleased to have retired.

 
At 8:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It kind of makes me want to load up the kids and go shopping in Ferndale--not. I think it's definitely a size issue-$50,000 bail!!! WTF?

 
At 9:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I said Sarge....I think I'm making your point for you.

But you seem to have a lot of angst and I'll pass on that. Suffice it to say that everything you understood in the '70's is ancient history now.

I don't think you qualify as an expert witness on any damn thing any more....except some strange sense of a knowing that is now obsolete.

I suppose the same thing applies to aging hippies as well as aging cops...the world is no longer as you once knew it.

But....you can't let it go.


Can you?

 
At 5:18 AM, Blogger ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

"...the world is no longer as you once knew it."
Gosh counselor,(whoever you are) that's pretty profound. "Expert"? "Witness"? Dazzle us some more.

 
At 7:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

SEE ANON 6:24...

 
At 11:04 AM, Blogger Rose said...

Mayberry RFD this is not. If it was, Lawson would have picked the kid up, nuzzled his belly, handed him over to his Dad with an understanding chuckle, not thrown him in jail for child endangerment.

And if Barney Fife had decided to make a federal case out of it, the dad would have apologized profusely, there would have been no need for him to hand over his ID, because the officer would have known him.

At the very least, you would think Wes Keat could have stopped this fiasco. Who is driving the bus at the DA's office?

 
At 11:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yougofree.com ??

 
At 9:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The DA The DA. Shut your f*cking mouth and respect the officer. Have you folks never seen history?

 
At 9:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Ferndale , you folks act like you are the law. Why , because you're white, Christian ,and local? The same discipline you teach your football team needs to be exercised throughout life; perhaps imagine the police officer as a coach, would you disrespect him/her? Er, him?

 
At 9:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is profound Sarge.

It's only amusing that you resort to insults...when we might have a conversation.

Perhaps that explains why you have the arcane as an identity.

So let's let it go.

gently Sarge..

let it go.

We could have had a conversation

 
At 8:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes I've seen history, but I'm at a loss for your meaning. Please explain.

 
At 9:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

" Breaking rocks in the hot sun, I fought the law, the law won..."

 
At 12:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

" you got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em..."

 
At 4:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

" I fight authority, authority always wins..."

 
At 6:18 PM, Blogger Rose said...

According to the story in The Ferndale Enterprise, after Marsh spent the night in jail (with a fifty thousand dollar bail) the detention slip from the jail provided to The Enterprise states that Marsh was released from jail because "there was insufficient grounds for making a criminal complaint."

Then, "more than six weeks later the case was reopened and Marsh was arraigned.

Gallegos, meanwhile, said Tuesday that he and deputy Jose Mendez paid a lunchtime visit to the Brown and Main intersection three weeks ago to see exactly where the alleged incident took place.


It's quite a story, well worth reading - posted
here.

I wonder if Gallegos visited the scenes of the crimes of the knifepoint robber? Or the Whitethorn rapists?

 
At 8:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Breakin' the law, breakin' the law..."

 
At 8:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Bad boys bad boys, whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when they come for you...."

 
At 1:48 PM, Anonymous Annabel said...

People in Ferndale -- including me, I'm a native -- all have an attitude. A sense of entitlement. It's not realistic or admirable, but it exists, it's real, it's part of the territory. If you're going to be a chief of police in Ferndale, you have to know that coming in ... and you have to decide if you are going to maintain the law and secure the safety of the residents or if you are going to play power games and damage everyone. It's a matter of being a professional. We don't expect much from the new graduates of the CR cop school -- they have attitudes, too, and that's to be expected from any freshly minted representative of authority; the chief, however, that's a different matter. He should live in the town, involve himself to a degree in the activities of the town, and make an effort to get to know the people. Respect for authority is learned from the top down, not the bottom up. Just ask a child.

 
At 6:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Annabel with arguments like that you didn't need to point out your Ferndale history. All the police chief needs to do is obey the community. Now the rookie cops can step out of line a little bit cause that's expected-they still have attitude from the schooling. By the time you reach chief rank you should be learned of the nuances of not enforcing the law. That's the way we do it in Ferndale, we're God's people.Just ask anyone.

 
At 6:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A town, or city, the size of Ferndale shouldn't have it's own police department. They should contract with the Sheriffs office.

A tiny small town police department only keeps certain big wigs (real and imagined)protected from any evil they might do.

 
At 9:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a bunch of Bull S--t, every parent should picket this trail. Your rights are being pissed away.

 
At 12:07 AM, Blogger Rose said...

It's difficult to say if Marsh had handed over his ID is this all would have been avoided. But he spent a night in jail and was released because "there was insufficient grounds for making a criminal complaint." according to the Ferndale Enterprise, who checked.

Six weeks later the charges were inexplicably reinstated, after the DA's office told The Enterprise the case was "rejected."

Why?

 
At 2:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No need to picket anything. Follow the trial and make appropriate comments on blogs, letters to the editor, and letters to the DA asking questions. The Humboldt County DA's office is still nothing short of a trainwreck.

"Why" is a question that can be asked on just about anything coming out of the DA's office, cases, hirings, firings,etc.

 
At 9:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He's a dumbass hick from Ferntucky who apparently has no regard for the law. When an officer confronts you on the street, you listen and obey-it doesn't matter if it's a tiny old lady- you listen and do as asked or told. When you disobey an officer, the situation will escalate.....In other words, if you f*ck with a bull, you'll probably get the horns.

 
At 3:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The jury acqutted him in less than 20 minutes

 
At 5:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hopefully he learned his lesson.

 
At 10:08 PM, Anonymous annabel said...

To: anonymous at 6:37: You're not responding to my point; you seem to be responding to some prior agenda of your own.
"Obey the community" is a distorted interpretation of "making an effort to get to know the people."
As far as people in Ferndale thinking they/we are "God's people" -- isn't everyone?

 
At 9:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right, like I'm some freakin' authority on the subject. Sheesh.

 

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