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

Monday, August 16, 2010

ICE Takes Page From Len Berman: "And Nobody Got Hurt"

Last week ICE Agents went looking for a drug suspect. Rule #1 in searching for a drug suspect: assume they are armed. Law enforcement need no information that the suspect is armed, just an assumption. It's somewhat understandable. When we read more and more that law enforcement can't even pull someone over for a traffic citation without being blown away, there is no sense in assuming that any suspect is unarmed and will go guietly.

Once the assumption is made, and it always is, the method of going out and finding the suspect, looks like this video where they entered into a home, broke a bunch of shit, scared the crap out of a family, only to learn that the suspect was in jail - for the last 10 months..

The Boveda family said federal agents raided and ransacked their home Thursday morning. Even the front window was smashed. Broken glass was scattered across the floor and nearly every door in the house was busted open. Even their closets were cracked.

Mr. Boveda, attempting to reason with the "no, we'll do it like they do it on Cops," offered the following unaccepted invitation:

I said don't break the window, I'll open the door for you, but you got the wrong house, you got the wrong house.

The wrong house. Yeah. Sure.

The family, including a 14 year old girl, were all held at gunpoint. Mr. Boveda was thrown on the floor, and the other family members were all pinned down. I don't know if the 3-year old dog came back after running away.

Now to save the ICE apologists some time, to help the comment authors who wish to explain to me that "nobody's perfect," and "hey, this is the price we pay to be safe and lets just say thank you to those keeping us safe," let me help here.

This isn't that case.

This is a case where some $10 an hour clerk could have pressed a few buttons on a computer and learned in seconds that this suspect was in jail over in the next county. When I can go to court first thing in the morning after an overnight arrest and be handed a list of my client's prior record that includes the date of every arrest and the sentence, don't tell me that federal agents can't determine whether a suspect has been in jail the last 10 months before they bust down someone's door.

We live in a society though where these "mistakes" are all forgiven. No one's busting down our door, killing our dog, scaring our children, so who cares?

ICE released a statement after this raid:

"We screwed up. We should have known our suspect was in jail for the last 10 months. We've asked the family to send us any repair bills for the damage we did to their home, and we've offered them $25,000 as an apology for our lack of dilligence." We are truly sorry."

No, wait, that wasn't the statement, it's here:

There were no injuries to the occupants of the house nor to police officers on the scene. The case is still under active investigation, and we are currently seeking additional members of the organization.

No one got hurt, and we are still looking for other suspects.

So there.

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. Anonymous1:05 AM

    Imagine you were an attorney working for ICE, knowing that if you made such a statement it would open you up to legal action.....would you have your client publicly admit fault?

  2. Anonymous1:13 AM

    Heck, lets even take an example closer to your practice. Say you have a factually guilty client who drove his car while drunk into someone, leaving the victim paralyzed. Would you go into court and say, "you are right, my client pleads guilty. He will happily pay the lifetime medical bills of his now paralyzed victim and will go to jail without me contending the charge." Of course not. You (properly upholding your obligation to zealously defend the client) would make the state prove every element of their case or at least try to obtain the best plea bargain possible.

    Why do you think ICE would act any differently when defending their actions?

  3. Anonymous, I apologize. I really do need to consider a disclaimer on this blog advising that sarcasm and humor are often used in posts. I have to remember there are those who exist on this planet who take every single thing they read, seriously.

  4. Anonymous3:37 AM

    No problem. I just get the impression (humor aside) that you expect law enforcement to always act appropriately, and when they do not, to always publicy admit fault, which in turn opens them up to all kinds of liability. If that was a universally applicable standard it would be consistent, but I doubt if you had an "at fault" client you would have them do what seem to believe is the correct path for law enforcement. Certainly if you were personally considered a suspect in something illegal I doubt if you would fall on the sword in public as you seem to believe the police should.