A blog by Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Brian Tannebaum. Commenting on criminal law issues of local and national interest.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

First, Let's Kill The Dog

The thugs among us.

Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court, and the author of The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer.Share/Save/Bookmarkokdork.com rules Post to Twitter


  1. Anonymous1:18 AM

    This is another of those "snapshots in time". Let us put the shoe on the other foot here. How about showing a brief video of drugs on your client's front car seat. Nothing else. Based on that we are expected to form a view as to whether your client possessed drugs. You might point to a passenger claiming the drugs, your client having loaned the car to someone else, heck maybe the police even planted the drugs (unlikely but possible). But we won't hear about that. We just get that brief picture and judge your client based on that. This video is conceptually akin.

    Why was the warrant being served at night? Are there known to be guns in the house? Who was suspected (a dangerous felon?) of being at the house? What was known about the occupants? Were the officers expected to dog sit the family pet while executing a high risk search warrant with unknown occupants in an unsecured property with unknown guns on hand?

    These are all questions I would like answered before I rush to judgement, just as you would not let me say in court "you client drove drunk because of my testimony" without a full examination of the circumstances.

    Sorry, but the defense trick of taking one event (out of a series of 400 events) and distorting it beyond all recognition and out of context cuts both ways. These cops deserve all the chance to play same defense game you get to use for those you represent.

  2. Thanks for stopping by officer. We've never met, but I assume that since you think it "unlikely" drugs could be planted by an officer, and refer to what I do as a "defense game," that you're one of those that won't shake my hand in the courthouse, takes everything personal, gets annoyed at every question, and wishes we would just go away and have the public just accept your evidence and testimony in every case. I know a lot of officers just like you. They make my job fun.

    I wrote the script that law enforcement uses when videos like this are released in the post I wrote a few days ago http://criminaldefenseblog.blogspot.com/2010/04/roll-tape-and-hold-stale-defense.html

    Goes like this:

    1. Beating is taped.
    2. Tape is shown all over the world.
    3. Outrage over police conduct is expressed.
    4. Defenders of the police conduct proclaim that not everything is on the tape. (sometimes that's actually true).
    5. Public is asked to withhold judgment.

    This is not a "snapshot in time." These are thugs and went into a home in the middle of the night screaming and yelling like thugs and killed the family dog. But hey, they did find a misdemeanor amount of pot.

    Why was the warrant being served at night? BECAUSE THAT'S WHEN PROPLE ARE QUIETLY SLEEPING. Are there known to be guns in the house? That doesn't matter. This is 2010, every officer is told to assume that every situation could be dangerous, regardless of the truth. Ever hear of someone on the run who wasn't referred to as "armed and dangerous?" Not me.

    I have no argument with an officer protecting himself, none. That dog was barking. Dogs, bark.

    Who was suspected (a dangerous felon?) of being at the house? Maybe, but it wasn't the dog, I guarantee you that, nor the kid, who watched his dog murdered.

    And no, these cops don't "deserve all the chance to play the same defense game" I get to use. These are cops, their job is different than mine. It's too bad not everyone understands that.

  3. Anonymous1:30 AM


    Seriously, think about it. Is shooting the dog in that video any worse that some things your clients have been accused of? Even when there is clear evidence against your clients, I bet you REALLY believed their innocence, zealously represented them to the best of your considerable ability and pretty much put aside in your conscience the horrendous deeds (and the victims) they may have been charged with. That is the important (and it IS needed) role you choose to play by doing criminal defense work. So why all the outrage here? You can happily defend a murder or sex crime suspect and sleep well at night, but a dog upsets you? I just don't get it.

  4. Anonymous at 1:30 a.m,

    No, killing that dog is not worse than what some of my clients have done. I understand, you believe it's ok to have law enforcement act like common criminals, unless of course they bust in to your house.

  5. Anonymous10:33 AM

    I am sure most of your clients are charged with mild things. Most crimes are big headline horror stories. But you COULD comfortably defend a real "bad guy". I don't fault you for that. Without it the system doesn't work.

    I also don't think law enforcement should break the law. That is no brainer. What violation of law do you see in that video? You don't serve a search warrant at night without a judge agreeing to it. There very well may be an agency procedure that allows for shooting the dog in that situation. You have, I suspect, as much idea as I do about the investigation that led up to that search warrant. I don't see a night time SWAT search warrant being served on a grandmother suspected of having one ounce of pot. You are making a snap judgement based on one event out of a series. If someone did that about you clients you quite correctly go into full "zealous defense" mode and tell the jury to look beyond the drugs on the front seat, or the high BAC content, or the recorded confession or whatever other apparently damning evidence.

  6. It's not about what our clients do. A civilized society must have standards of conduct not only for private citizens but also for citizens who are privileged to carry firearms, seize people, drive aggressively, and enter homes by force. Because let's not forget that police officers - even in the line of duty - are citizens first. Although police officers are privileged to act a certain way while on duty, their privilege does not extend so far as to shooting the family dog.

    At the point that our police forces became paramilitary forces that use SWAT tactics to intimidate as much as protect, the police have ceased to be functioning members of a civil society.

    Also, what's with the SWAT face masks? I'm going to call you to testify in open court, address you by name, and ask you everything short of what color underwear you have on, so why the mask if not to add to the intimidation?

    I would urge you to read Radley Balko's blog The Agitator, where he did a series on the police and dog shooting.

  7. Anonymous11:01 PM

    Chances are really good that if law enforcement breaks into my house like these yahoos did in this video that I'm going to die for sure and a few of them will as well.

    Because my first instinct when someone breaks into my house is to grab my guns and start blazing.

    Since I have a FFL--Federal Firearms License--I own fully automatic weapons. Two of them are always loaded and readily accessible.

    But hey, I'm sure I'm the criminal because a man's home isn't a castle when the cops come knocking.

  8. Anonymous7:08 PM

    Law enforcement IS allowed to enter your house to serve a valid search warrant, in a time approved by the court.

    Let me repeat that. Law enforcement IS ALLOWED TO SEARCH YOUR HOUSE WITH A VALID WARRANT. It is even in the Constitution in black letters. Cops don't just write a search warrant and serve it with no court inputs. The two (served in daylight) that I have served went through many drafts and layers of departmental review, before going before impartial judges who asked detailed questions before approving them. In one instance I had to redraft portions of it per a skeptical judge and come back the next day before I got the OK to serve it after allaying his concerns.

    Courts DO authorize night time search warrants for a reason.

    Unless the cops are totally off the chart here, this was a legal warrant served in a legal way to the best of my knowledge.

    But then again, we really know nothing at all about the facts or circumstances about this case, who was there, why the warrant was served this way or what agency procedures were for dealing with dogs. We just took one event, removed all context or further information and made a snap judgement. If I tried that with one of your clients you would quite correctly challenge it in court.