Saturday, August 11, 2012

The American way — cops must be right

Posted By on Sat, Aug 11, 2012 at 6:04 AM

2010 VIDEO: Rule during traffic stop on police video.
  • 2010 VIDEO: Rule during traffic stop on police video.

Interesting to follow social media commentary following the arrest of Herb Rule, the Democratic 2nd District candidate, for DWI in Fayetteville.

The presumption — from friend and foe alike — is that the cops must be right. Cops everywhere enjoy that general presumption, particuarly on traffic stops, and I think their actions, on balance, justify that sort of public confidence. (No, not in the case of every single one of them.)

The instant guilty verdict had, in the minds of many, circumstantial support: Rule was arrested for DWI once before, in 2010. But he wasn't convicted. Still, political opponents were vicious, where supporters were simply rueful. But the political foes not only presumed guilt — and general dissolution on Rule's part — their belief appeared to be rock solid, as if they themselves had made the stop Thursday night on College Avenue. It was as solid as their belief that his acquittal on the 2010 charge could only be explained by political influence, technicalities, and so on.

Hell, I don't know. But I do know we operate under a presumption of innocence in the U.S. I do know Rule was acquitted on the DWI charge by a local judge who heard evidence about an out-of-towner in 2010 and I do know the prosecutor didn't fight Rule's appeal of the sole conviction, on the failure to take the breath test charge. (NOTE CORRECTION FROM EARLIER POST: I erroneously phrased this as saying prosecutor didn't appeal. He didn't contest Rule's appeal.) I do know that refusal of a breath alcohol test carries penalties, but I also know that the tests have been known to be fallible and officers have been known not to follow proper procedures in running the machines. I do know that avenging Republican Jason Tolbert, who earlier dredged up Rule's 2010 acquittal for no relevant reason except support of U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin's candidacy, has now dug up the video of Rule's 2010 arrest.

Thanks Jason. Watch the 14-minute video. It's no case for Rule's conviction. Indeed, there's ample material to see where that old "reasonable doubt" standard might come in. He questions police procedures (not a wise move with cops). But Rule's reluctance to take a field sobriety test on which the cop made the decision to cuff Rule was over a quickie follow-the-finger test alongside a busy freeway with lots of flashing lights going by. Rule doesn't slur his words. He moves, to my eye, normally. At least as normal as a 72-year-old man with a bad knee can move.

In Fayetteville this week, Rule said he had one drink, wasn't drunk and reportedly had drifted across the lane line on a four-lane road in the course of trying to find a turn. Cops say he was stopped for failure to signal a lane change. I'm glad I haven't been stopped by police every time I failed to signal a lane change on Markham or Cantrell. The account of his conversation with the officer who stopped him doesn't raise red flags to me about his condition (beyond Herb being the politely disputatious and somewhat condescending Herb, never a good way to approach dealings with a police officer.)

I am presuming innocence, as much a bedrock of our system as the right to carry assault weapons with 100-round magazines, until the case for prosecution is presented.

Tolbert harrumphs magisterially that history seems to be repeating itself. Yes, perhaps. But perhaps not in the way Tolbert means and hopes.

One more thing: Every time you presume the cops must be right, remember two words: Joe Thompson.

A DWI arrest, conviction or no, is a body blow to a political candidate, make no mistake, even when the candidate is preferable on policy in every single respect compared with incumbent Republican Tim Griffin. I happened to think Rule did himself more harm yesterday with remarks at the Arkansas Association of Counties, including the idea that counties sell naming rights to the counties to raise money. He indicated to a Democrat-Gazette reporter that he was serious. Was he speaking at a brunch with Bloody Mary bar?

Tags: , , ,

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (16)

Showing 1-16 of 16

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-16 of 16

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • In defense of Planned Parenthood and abortion rights

    An op-ed in today's New York Time by Katha Pollitt says what I've been struggling to say about the reaction to the attack on women's reproductive rights launched by means of the undercover videos made by anti-abortion activists.
    • Aug 5, 2015
  • The Arkansas Medicaid scandal: the state is purging the rolls of tens of thousands of eligible beneficiaries

    Tens of thousands of Arkansans have been kicked off of Medicaid for failure to respond to an income verification letter. Many of them are eligible for the program according to the very data that triggered the letter in the first place.
    • Aug 6, 2015
  • Matt Campbell files ethics complaint against Dennis Milligan

    Little Rock attorney and blogger Matt Campbell, whose knack for deep research brought down Mark Darr, Mike Maggio and Dexter Suggs, now has his sights trained on another worthy target. Today, he filed a 113-page ethics complaint against state Treasurer Dennis Milligan that includes 14 separate allegations.
    • Aug 20, 2015

Most Shared

  • Home again

    The plan, formulated months ago, was this: Ellen and I were going to go to Washington for inauguration festivities, then fly out the morning after the balls for Panama City and a long planned cruise to begin with a Panama Canal passage.
  • Who needs courts?

    Not since the John Birch Society's "Impeach Earl Warren" billboards littered Southern roadsides after the Supreme Court's school-integration decision in 1954 has the American judicial system been under such siege, but who would have thought the trifling Arkansas legislature would lead the charge?
  • Bungling

    If the late, great Donald Westlake had written spy thrillers instead of crime capers, they'd read a lot like the opening weeks of the Trump administration.
  • UPDATE: Campus carry bill amended by Senate to require training

    The Senate this morning added an amendment to Rep. Charlie Collins campus carry bill that incorporates the effort denied in committee yesterday to require a 16-hour additional training period before university staff members with concealed carry permits may take the weapons on campus.
  • Director to resign from state court administrative office

    Supreme Court Chief Justice John Dan Kemp announced today the resignation of J.D. Gingerich, long-time director of the administrative office of the courts.

Visit Arkansas

New Crystal Bridges exhibit explores Mexican-American border

New Crystal Bridges exhibit explores Mexican-American border

Border Cantos is a timely, new and free exhibit now on view at Crystal Bridges.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation