LA Cop arrested in DUI crash that killed 3 just hours after he posted anti-DUI video

From Raw Story:

A Los Angeles police officer posted a “don’t drink and drive” Instagram video hours before he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence over a fatal crash that killed three people.

Edgar Verduzco, 26, was speeding on the San Gabriel River (605) Freeway in Whittier, southern California, when he struck the back of two cars, one of which was carrying three members of a family, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) said, according to CBS Los Angeles.

The car carrying the family burst into flames and killed the three people inside. The victims have since been identified as Mario and Maribel Davila, a married couple, and their 19-year-old son Oscar Davila, according to a GoFundMe page set up to help with funeral costs.

Hours before the crash, a video was posted to an Instagram account belonging to Verduzco. The 10-second video featured a cartoon avatar honking the horn of a car, which is captioned #dontdrinkanddrive. The video appears to be shot in a bar; a glass of beer is seen in the background, KTLA 5 reported.

The Instagram account has not been confirmed as belonging to Verduzco, but other photos and videos posted on the account suggest it is his: one post in July has Verduzco’s name badge on display, KTLA 5 reported.

Verduzco was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and vehicular manslaughter and is being held on $100,000 bail, the The Washington Post reported. He suffered a broken nose in the incident.

Read the entire story here:

A Cautionary Tale for Attorneys: Don’t take photos in court!

This morning an attorney showed me the 2016 Chicago Traffic Court “key” calendar, which not only had all the “key dates” for next year, but also, by implication, the two weeks when court will be closed for judicial seminars (which is a good thing for attorneys to know).  (By the way, those seminars will be held the weeks of February 1rst and April 4th).

The attorney asked if I wanted to take a picture of the schedule.  I declined to take a picture, but instead typed in the information into my phone.  Why, you may ask, did I write down the information when taking a picture would be so much easier?  Because taking a picture in court violates the Court Rules.

Obviously, this information is easy enough to forget, as this attorney, who has been practicing for over 20 years, did, and, as it turns out, so did a partner at  Loop law firm firm, who got into trouble for taking pictures of exhibits in a “high-profile” Federal “spoofing” trial and tweeting them, along with his comments, to his twitter followers.

From the Chicago Tribune (story by Jason Meisner):

A partner at a large Chicago law firm is in hot water after he was caught taking photos on his cellphone and tweeting them from the courtroom during the recent high-profile “spoofing” trial of a New Jersey-based trader.

Vincent “Trace” Schmeltz, a co-chair of the financial and regulatory litigation group at Barnes & Thornburg LLP, has been ordered to appear before U.S. District Chief Judge Ruben Castillo on Dec. 8. He faces possible sanctions for nine photos he tweeted during the trial of Michael Coscia, according to a court filing late Friday.

Schmeltz was in the spectator’s gallery of U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber’s 19th floor federal courtroom in Chicago on Oct. 28 when an FBI agent spotted him holding his phone at chest-level and snapping photos, records show. Court officials later saw nine tweets on Schmeltz’s Twitter page, @TraceSchmeltz, each with a caption describing evidence that was being displayed in the trial.

“Prosecution trying to impeach … with this email,” Schmeltz wrote in one post, which included a photo of the email as it was being displayed in court on a flat-screen monitor, the filing stated.

Photographing or recording of any kind is forbidden at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse except in the lobby.

Leinenweber had specifically barred all cellphone use in his courtroom for Coscia’s trial, which was the first of its kind in the nation and was closely watched by players in the controversial world of high-frequency trading.

On the day Schmeltz sent his tweets, there was a 4-foot sign posted outside the courtroom that read “PHOTOGRAPHING, RECORDING or BROADCASTING IS PROHIBITED,” according to the filing.

Reached at his office Monday, a contrite Schmeltz said he was caught up in the moment, calling the trial a “unique civics lesson” that he wanted his 244 Twitter followers to know about. He said that even though he is a seasoned attorney, it was one of the first times he’d ever been in court for a case that wasn’t his and he simply failed to notice the ban on cellphone use.

“I’m not used to being a spectator,” Schmeltz said. “It’s a lesson learned on my part.”

Schmeltz, who immediately deleted the offending tweets when he was notified of the violation, said he was careful to photograph only the evidence on the screen, not witnesses or jurors.

He was admitted to the Illinois bar in 2000 and has no disciplinary record as an attorney, according to online records with the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.

A federal jury deliberated for less than an hour last week before convicting Coscia of all 12 counts of fraud and spoofing.

Florida Woman streams her drunk driving on Periscope

From The Raw Story:

A 23-year-old Florida woman was arrested and charged with drunk driving after streaming video of herself and outright saying that she was driving under the influence, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

The footage, which was aired on her phone through the video app Periscope, shows Whitney Marie Beall saying, “I am f*cking drunk, and this is horrible. I don’t even know where the next gas station is, this is horrible.”

Police in Lakeland, where the woman was driving, began receiving emergency calls not long after Beall started her 10-minute broadcast. One officer used his own Twitter account to locate her by using local landmarks as a guide.

WTSP-TV reported that authorities spotted Beall’s Toyota Corolla with a flat left front tire. When they tried to initiate a traffic stop, she allegedly ran into a curb with her other front tire but failed to brake.

Beall was taken to jail after failing a field sobriety test and refusing to take a breathalyzer.

“I got to tell you I was a little shocked,” police spokesperson Sgt. Gary Gross said. “After 30 years of law enforcement I hadn’t seen anything like this before.”

To view the TV report of this click here:

All you wanted to know about Matt Cordle, the YouTube DUI confessor

Buzzfeed has a lengthy piece about Matt Cordle, the man who posted a YouTube video confessing to driving drunk and causing the death of Vincent Canzani.  I have written about Cordle before (you can type “Cordle” in the search button above to find them, but the first and most detailed post was here).

Here is one key paragraph, but you should read the entire story:

It’s true the video was not solely for the message and Canzani. It was for Cordle’s benefit, too, at least mentally and emotionally. The video didn’t alleviate the guilt of taking another man’s life, but admitting his guilt in a public way enabled Cordle to grapple with and accept it. This was something active when everything since the crash had been suffocatingly passive.


Setting the wrong example: Cop caught playing video poker while driving in snowstorm

This video has been making the rounds on youtube and facebook. It shows a Bolingbrook, IL police officer driving his squad car in the middle of a snowstorm, while playing video poker.  Talk about distracted driving!

According to the Chicago Tribune, the officer has been identified by Bolingbrook Police and an investigation is underway.

(I suppose I should remind everyone that videotaping the police is still technically a Class 1 felony in Illinois, although several lower courts have ruled that the law is unconstitutional).

“Pothead Princess” Tweets “2 Drunk 2 Care” Before Fatal Crash

A screenshot of Mendoza's twitter page

A screenshot of Mendoza’s twitter page (since deleted).

A Miami woman who allegedly drove the wrong way on a highway while intoxicated, causing the deaths of two people, had sent out a tweet stating that she was “2 drunk 2 care” shortly before the accident.

Kaila Mendoza, age 20, had a twitter account @hiimkaila (since deleted) in which she proclaimed herself the “Pothead Princess.”

From CBS Miami:

Troopers said Ferrante was in the car with her friend, 21-year-old Marisa Catronio along Sawgrass Expressway when they were hit by Mendoza. Catronio, who was sitting in the Camry’s front passenger seat, was killed on impact, according to her father, Gary Catronio…

Kayla Mendoza, 20, was heading east in her Hyundai Sonata in the westbound lanes of the expressway when she collided with the Toyota Camry driven by Ferrante just west of University Drive around 1:45 a.m., according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Kaitlyn Nicole Ferrante suffered from severe head injuries in the accident and was kept on life support while in the hospital, according to Florida Highway Patrol. Thursday morning she was pronounced dead…

Mendoza’s Twitter handle was @highimkaila and in the description, she’s described as the “pothead princess.”

Mendoza had previously tweeted thoughts like, “Can’t deal with people that don’t have their *expletive* together,” and a picture of a hand holding what appears to be a marijuana cigarette.

On November 12, Mendoza tweeted, “2 high 2 care,” and on November 2, “I really am so baked right now.” The tweets were difficult for Marisa’s family to read.

Youtube DUI Confessor gets lenient sentence after all

After claiming that he wasn’t going to have a “high-powered attorney” fight for him, Matthew Cordle did just that.

And his attorneys shaved off almost 25% of the probable sentence.

Cordle got 6 1/2 years, instead of the maximum 8 1/2, for the DUI death of Vincent Canzani.  I don’t know what they normally give in cases like that in Ohio, but in Illinois 6 and a half years for a DUI death case is a gift.

I anticipate that this will be my last post about this man.  But I just want to reiterate my position on him:  I don’t think he did anything special by admitting his guilt on a slickly produced video.  He knew he was about to be indicted and I believe that he made the confession with the intent of getting a better sentence.  And it worked.

I am left to wonder if he is going to try to use this to his advantage down the road, perhaps as an author and paid speaker.

Hopefully, he will prove me wrong.

My condolences to the Canzani family.