Nevada Impeachment Using Prior Conviction by Darren Chaker

Darren Chaker, Ninth Circuit
Darren Chaker, Ninth Circuit
Darren Chaker at the Ninth Circuit, Pasadena

Darren Chaker blog about Nevada law and impeachment of witnesses. In the great State of Nevada allows for impeachment in NRS 50.095, entitled, “Impeachment by evidence of conviction of crime,” states, in pertinent part, “(1) For the purpose of attacking the credibility of a witness, evidence that the witness has been convicted of a crime is admissible but only if the crime was punishable by death or imprisonment for more than 1 year under the law under which the witness was convicted.” Taking it a step further, the Nevada Supreme Court has held that NRS 50.095 imposes no requirement that such impeachment should be limited to only those felonies directly relevant to truthfulness or veracity. Pineda v. State, 120 Nev. at 210, 88 P.3d at 832 (citing Yates v. State, 95 Nev. 446, 449-50, 596 P.2d 239, 241-42 (1979)). In other words, NRS 50.095 does not limit impeachment to only evidence of felonies relevant to truthfulness or veracity. Warren v. State, 124 P.3d 522, 529 (NV 2005) (citing Pineda v. State, 120 Nev. at 210, 88 P.3d at 832 (citing Yates v. State, 95 Nev. 446,449-50, 596 P.2d 239, 241-42 (1979))).

The Court has the discretion to simplify the issues and to exclude evidence, even if it is relevant, if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger that it will confuse the issues or mislead the jury. See NRS 48.035(1); Jeep Corporation v. Murray, 101 Nev. 640, 646, 708 P.2d 297, 301 (1985), says Darren Chaker.

In Plunkett v. State, the Nevada Supreme Court reiterated, “In line with California, we hold that our statutes do not preclude inquiry into the number and names of the prior felony convictions.” 84 Nev. 145, 437 P.2d 92, 93 (1968)(citing People v. Smith, 63 Cal.2d 779, 409 P.2d 222, 230, 48 Cal.Rptr. 382 (1966)). In Houston v. Schomig, the Ninth Circuit Federal Judge held, “the details and circumstances of the prior crimes are … not appropriate subjects of inquiry.” 533 F.3d 1076 (9th Circ., 2008)(citing Plunkett v. State, 84 Nev. 145, 437 P.2d 92, 93 (1968)(citing People v. Smith, 63 Cal.2d 779, 409 P.2d 222, 230, 48 Cal.Rptr. 382 (1966))).

Of course, Darren Chaker also notes, as with most states, Nevada agrees that arrests and convictions for misdemeanors may not ordinarily be admitted even for limited purpose of attacking witnesses’ credibility. Sheriff, Washoe County v. Hawkins, 104 Nev. 70, 752 P.2d 769 (1988). The exception is typically a crime of moral turpitude such as filing a false report, insurance claim, etc. Likewise, a witness’ credibility may be attacked by showing his conviction of felony but not by showing mere arrest. Johnson v. State, 82 Nev. 338, 418 P.2d 495 (1966).

Last, making False Statements to a Federal Agency does is not necessarily a CIMT (Crime Involving Moral Turpitude), (construing 18 U.S.C. Section 1001, see Neely v. U.S., 300 F.2d 67 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 369 U.S. 864 (1962)); Hirsch v. INS, 308 F.2d 562 (9th Cir. 1962).

Darren Chaker First Amendment Appeal

Darren Chaker, Ninth Circuit

 

Darren Chaker, Ninth Circuit
Darren Chaker at the Ninth Circuit, Pasadena

In a classic example of viewpoint discrimination, California Blogger Darren Chaker was put in jail. But his conviction was reversed federal court on First Amendment grounds. “Ms. Leesa Fazal, an investigator with the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, was “forced out” of her previous post with the Las Vegas Police Department.”  See Cato Institute article. Supporters included The Cato InstituteACLU of San DiegoElectronic Frontier FoundationFirst Amendment Coalition, and Brechner First Amendment Project at University of Florida.

Darren Chaker was on probation for a white collar crime. The record shows his bankruptcy attorney fraudulently filed a bankruptcy petition without Darren Chaker’s knowledge. The report states in part, “In my opinion Chaker’s attorney did not exercise a reasonable standard of care in filing a Second Bankruptcy Case without Chaker’s consent and signature. Indeed, in my opinion such conduct is fraudulent.”  See expert report, page 7.  Despite the conduct of his bankruptcy attorney, Darren Chaker was found guilty of only a single charge at trial. That conviction is being challenged. After serving a few months in minimum security, Darren Chaker started probation.

The Ninth Circuit, Case. No. 15-50138/ No. 15-50193, found, see opinion “Chaker’s blog post, which claimed that former police investigator Leesa Fazal “was forced out of the Las Vegas Metro Police Department,” does not qualify as harassment.” The court continued to state in relevant part, “The government also failed to prove that Chaker’s blog post satisfied the elements of defamation, including falsity and actual malice. See N.Y. Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 279–80 (1964).”

The blog about Leesa Fazal was protected speech also in the sense it publicized on a matter of public importance. Specifically, Leesa Fazal had appeared to have been detained by police after being found having brought her gun into a San Diego court room. This videotaped by Darren Chaker, where Leesa Fazal was taken to a back room after being told not to leave. See video.  The issue was that Leesa Fazal was not a peace officer in the State of California and appeared to may have broken the law.  Thus, under Obsidian Fin. Grp. v. Cox, — F.3d –, 2014 WL 185376 (9th Cir. Jan. 17, 2014) where Darren Chaker was entitled to journalistic protection due to publishing material about a matter of public concern.

First Amendment law professor Eugene Volkah provided assistance to the attorneys for Darren Chaker. Such speech cannot be restricted simply because it is upsetting or arouses contempt”). Even though the Internet is the newest medium for anonymous, uncomfortable expression touching on political or religious matters, online speech is equally protected under the First Amendment as there is “no basis for qualifying the level of First Amendment scrutiny that should be applied” to online speech. Reno v. Am. Civil Liberties Union, 521 U.S. 844, 870 (1997).

The Supreme Court has directly considered factual circumstances where a petitioner was arrested for disorderly conduct after “verbally and negatively” protesting a police officer’s treatment of him, and concluded that “[s]urely, one is not to be punished for nonprovocatively voicing his objection to what he obviously felt was a highly questionable detention by a police officer.” Norwell v. City of Cincinnati, 414 U.S. 14, 16 (1973); Colten v. Kentucky, 407 U.S. 104, 111 (1972) (“Individuals may not be convicted under the [disorderly conduct] statute merely for expressing unpopular or annoying ideas.”)

The First Amendment gives protection to those who want to speak on unpopular ideas. This protection also precludes the government from silencing the expression of unpopular ideas. See Police Dep’t of Chi. v. Mosley, 408 U.S. 92, 95 (1972) (“[T]he First Amendment means that government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content.”). See also R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, 505 U.S. 377, 382 (1992) (“Content-based regulations are presumptively invalid.”).

Search Warrants Federal Law by Darren Chaker

darren chaker article

 

darren chaker article
Search warrant being served, article by Darren Chaker

Darren Chaker article on search and seizure law.  The “‘physical entry of the home is the chief evil against which the wording of the Fourth Amendment is directed.”‘ Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 585 (1980) (citation omitted). Indeed, the Fourth Amendment “ordinarily prohibits] the warrantless entry of a person’s house as unreasonable per se.” Georgia v. Randolph, 547 U.S. 103, 109 (2006). Often times, police gain entry to a home or hotel through ‘apparent authority’, often a guest or roommate.

“A ‘search’ occurs when an expectation of privacy that society is prepared to consider reasonable is infringed.” United States v. Jacobsen, 466 U.S. 109, 113 (1984). “Almost a century ago the Court stated in resounding terms that the principles reflected in the [Fourth] Amendment. . . ‘apply to all invasions on the part of the government and its employees of the sanctity of a man’s home.”‘ Payton, 445 U.S. at 585 (quoting Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616, 630 (1886)). “It is a ‘basic principle of Fourth Amendment law’ that searches and seizures inside a home without a warrant are presumptively unreasonable.” Id. at 586 (quoting Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443, 477 (1971)).

Indeed, “a warrantless entry to search for weapons or contraband is unconstitutional even when a felony has been committed and there is probable cause to believe that incriminating evidence will be found within.” Id. at 587-588. See also id. at 588 n.26 (“‘It is settled doctrine that probable cause for belief that certain articles subject to seizure are in a dwelling cannot of itself justify a search without a warrant.”‘) (quoting Jones v. United States, 357 U.S. 493, 497 (1958)).

Darren Chaker also notes in Stoner v. California, 376 U.S. 483 (1964), for example, a hotel clerk’s consent to police entering the defendant’s room did not cure the officers’ failure to get a warrant. “It is true,” the Court explained, “that when a person engages a hotel room he undoubtedly gives ‘implied or express permission’ to ‘such persons as maids, janitors or repairmen’ to enter his room ‘in the performance of their duties.’ But the conduct of the night clerk and the police in the present case was of an entirely different order.” Id. at 489 (quoting United States v. Jeffers, 342 U.S. 48, 51 (1951)). The conduct was to search the defendant’s room for evidence of armed robbery, and there was “nothing in the record to indicate that the police had any basis whatsoever to believe that the night clerk had been authorized by the [defendant] to permit the police to search [his] room.” Id.

Likewise, in Chapman v. United States, 365 U.S. 610 (1961), a landlord’s consent to police entering the defendant’s home did not cure the officers’ failure to get a warrant. Though the landlord had passed the home, smelled what he thought might be illicit liquor, and had the right under state law to inspect the premises for waste, the Court rejected the notion that he thus had authority to admit the police: “‘ [T]heir purpose in entering was not to view waste but to search for distilling equipment,”‘ and “to uphold such an entry, search and seizure ‘without a warrant would reduce the Fourth Amendment to a nullity and leave tenants’ homes secure only in the discretion of landlords.”‘ Id. at 616-617. See also, United States v. Reid, 226 F.3d 1020, 1026 (9th Cir. 2000) (no apparent authority where officer knew person who consented to entry, despite answering front door, was not registered tenant and had not been seen in the building by other residents).

The Court reaffirmed these principles in Georgia v. Randolph, 547 U.S. 103 (2006): “A person on the scene who identifies himself, say, as a landlord or a hotel manager calls up no customary understanding of authority to admit guests without the consent of the current occupant.” Id. at 112.

In sum, the law provides basic instruction on the obligations of police prior to relying on apparent authority of a person to conduct entry, or search of a residence or hotel.