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I’m starting to get sick of writing about UHP Trooper Lisa Steed, but she’s dominating Utah criminal defense attorney water-cooler talk…again

October 13, 2012

I swear I’m not trying to turn this into a Lisa Steed fan blog. But I just can’t help writing about the new ridiculousness that just surfaced.

So, I’ve talked before about embattled UHP trooper Lisa Steed. To sum it, Lisa started this journey as golden child UHP Trooper of the Year (from what I hear this is not as cool as Playmate of the Year, but pretty close) who arrested orders and magnitudes more drunken drivers than her fellow law enforcement agents.

After a while, concerned people, defense attorneys in particular, started getting suspicious about Steeds massive arrest numbers.

Meanwhile, she tased a kid who was sitting in his car because he asked to speak to a lawyer, and for some reason the public started to wonder about her.

As it turns out, there was quite a bit of shadyness surrounding many of her arrests. For instance, her microphone would be turned off, or she would take suspects outside of the view of her patrol-car camera during DUI investigations. The more Utah defense attorneys learned, the more they attacked her credibility, and her arrests.

It all came to a head earlier this summer when prosecutors offices started refusing to charge people she arrested, and the Salt Lake County Prosecutor’s Office started reviewing dozens of her previous cases. To put the icing on the cake, she was forced to admit – in open court, and on the record – to lying, and purposefully disobeying UHP DUI arrest procedures.

Well, I thought we were pretty much done with the Lisa Steed saga, but lo, behold what has happened now: a internal UHP memo    has surfaced, evidencing that Utah DUI attorneys were not the only ones freaking out about Lisa Steed. Take a look at the memo, it’s short, and enraging.

It looks like a fellow UHP trooper became suspicious about Steed’s DUI arrests – particularly the ones involving marijuana – and started looking into it. He was nervous because Steed’s arrest reports repeatedly claimed that suspects exhibited the same signs: dilated pupils, tremors, lack of convergence, and red conjunctiva; and yet, many (more than half) of the chemical tests performed during these arrests were coming back either negative for marijuana, or positive only for its metabolites (meaning the drug would have already gone through the suspects system).

The best part of the memo is where the author states, “This is something that needs to be addressed before defense attorneys catch on and her credibility along with the DUI squad’s credibility is compromised.” Well, this memo is dated May of 2010…so UHP had months before defense attorneys started ‘catching on’ and the buzz around Steed started really heating up…and they.blew.it. In fact, she was still on street patrol until earlier this year! Nice job guys.

If true, the allegations against Steed are terrifying. All of the symptoms that Steed was continually reporting on her DUI drug cases were subjectively based. The prosecutors charging defendants, and the Courts hearing cases put their trust in the credibility of police officers because, with DUIs in particular, almost all of the evidence against a person comes from the subjective opinion of the arresting officer. What this means is that it is very easy for officers to lie, and get people convicted of DUI. In Steed’s case, it seems that she had a tendency to decide (assume?) that someone was too impaired to safely operate a motor vehicle whether or not the evidence showed this to be the case—so she would just lie if she had to.

This is the ultimate example of police abuse and misconduct, and it is the very thing that landmark Constitutional rulings such as Miranda, Brady, Terry, etc. are concerned with preventing.

Court Koehler is a Criminal Defense and DUI attorney located in Salt Lake City, Utah. You can check out his website here.

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From → DUI, Salt Lake City, Utah

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