One would think that when it comes to the Constitution, people would show some respect and just leave well enough alone. Not so in Baton Rouge.
Act of the 2012 Louisiana Legislature amends the law providing the right of those accused of driving under the influence to confront those who made the allegations, the police officers involved in the arrest and testing. Ignoring the fact that the accusations, left unchallenged, could result in incarceration up to six months and loss of driver’s license for up to two years, the act, sponsored by Jonathan Perry, became law on August 15th.
What was he thinking? Apparently, not much.
The bill, ostensibly backed by the Louisiana State Police and Department of Public Safety, was reputedly offered to relive the responsibilities of police from showing up at administrative hearings and subjecting themselves to cross-examination. Believing that forcing an accuser was not necessary, the law allows the process to go forward without forcing police to be subjected to questioning.
I am sure that someone had in mind that police have better things to do than to face questions regarding issues that may deprive someone of their livelihood. Forget that.
Police were paid subpoena fees for attending. That is, except State Police. Some genius rerouted their payments years ago. Those accused still had to pay for the police to appear; the officers never received the money though. Went somewhere in a fund in Baton Rouge that the individual officers never saw. Go figure.
So how does the system work now? By law, if one deprived of driving privileges is unhappy with the results of the administrative process, he can appeal to the State district court by filing a lawsuit. In that lawsuit, the State is now required to make the officers come to prove that the suspension was done properly. These suits will be set for hearing on dockets with other civil cases all at the same time. Arresting officers, who often work many parishes, will be required to be in several courts at the same time. When they are not present, several things are likely to happen: a warrant will issue for an officer’s arrest, the officer will be held in contempt, the case will be continued, or the driver’s license will be reinstated.
So let’s take those same police officers who were paid to show up to testify on why someone’s license should be taken, take their money that the accused paid and not pay them. Now, let’s make the officers show up in three courts in different parishes at the same time and subject them to being arrested for not showing up.
That is what you call forward thinking.
But then again, is that not how government really works?