When the Government Gets to Define What It Means to "Volunteer."

Posted by Richard Lawson | Apr 11, 2017 | 0 Comments

The disgusting video of a man being dragged off a United Airlines Flight this week surprises many, accept criminal defense attorneys.

A man was asked to "volunteer" to be randomly bumped from his flight because United Airlines decided to sell more seats than were available on the airplane. The customer understood the word "volunteer" to mean "to freely offer to do something," and as a result did not want to give up his seat.

How interesting that United Airlines was able to call upon government actors to enforce their definition. For United Airlines, the word "volunteer" appears to mean when you will not participate you will be brutalized by government thugs pretending to protect and serve the public.

Now, why are criminal defense attorneys unsurprised by these events? Well, because to this happens every day to so-called “dangers to society.”

Our courts have legitimized police conduct that would never be tolerated in the business world. No used car salesperson could get away with the things police officers are allowed do.

Police officer misconduct has been sanctioned and encouraged by a corrupt legal system:

  • Police officers routinely interrogate people for hours to elicit confessions.  
  • They are legally allowed to lie about the seriousness of an investigation or someone's potential criminal exposure. 
  • They are allowed to lie about whether someone is a suspect.  
  • They are allowed to tell people that if they confess that they will be helped. 
  • They are allowed to talk to juvenile suspects without their parents present.  
  • They are allowed to tell people that they will be allowed to return home if they only come clean.   
  • They are allowed to do just about anything short of physical assault to elicit a confession.   

For these reasons, no person should ever engage in any conversation with any police officer, EVER.  Even innocent conversations can be misconstrued.  Think of the countless people exonerated by DNA evidence who confessed to a crime.  The police are trained to relentlessly pursue their prey and will not give up, even in the face of clear innocence.

What I Observe Daily as a Georgia DUI Attorney:

As a Georgia DUI Lawyer, I see misconduct every day.  The first thing that most officers do is tell a person that they would like a person to “submit to voluntary field sobriety tests to see if [you] are safe to drive.”  Let us examine the lies in this one statement.

The purpose of field sobriety tests is to determine if someone is a less safe driver to the consumption of alcohol.  Some people pass the tests and can resume their travels.  However, the purpose of testing is not to call a cab for an unsafe driver.  The purpose is to arrest that person.  So, if the officer were honest he or she would say something like "I suspect that you are a DUI driver and want to confirm that suspicion by having you submit to testing, will you volunteer to be tested?

I suspect that almost no one would agree to be tested.  However, we cannot have that.  We cannot have people invoking their rights to be left alone.  What would the world come to if we all invoked our right to be left alone?

In fact, the entire DUI arrest process is designed to make a suspect feel like they will be free to go once they patriciate in everything asked of them by the police.  Then police officers continue this fiction in court when prosecutors always ask them “at what time did you determine that the suspect was a less safe driver?”  Funny how every police officer says that “based on the totality of the circumstances and after all testing and observations I determined that the suspect was under the influence and a less safe driver." 

Common sense tells us that the determination of whether a police officer thought a person was under the influence happens almost instantaneously when they first pull someone over.  I know that I have seen some videos where it is plainly obvious that someone is impaired, yet the police encourage a person to continue to voluntarily incriminate themselves by telling people to continue testing under the hope of being set free.

So, in relation to the thugs (police officers) who removed someone from an airplane, this does not surprise me at all.  I know how the police define “volunteer.”  What makes me upset is that prior to video (and in cases where there is no video) this poor man would have been charged with obstruction and prosecuted as such.  When the police assault someone, they routinely then charge the person with obstruction to justify the fact that they brutalized someone.  Think of all the innocent people charged with obstruction before videos were more prevalent.  

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Managing Partner at Lawson & Berry:


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