“Dan, pick up on 02”.
“Dammit, Tom, I told you to hold all of my calls. I have to be in court at 2 and I’ve got to grind out a motion to suppress on Carrington.”
“It’s Officer Grant Woodson, Bellvale PD. You told me to let him through the firewall.”
“Sorry. Put him through.”
“Hello, Officer Woodson, I represent Carson Romero, thanks for returning my call.”
“Like our motto says, ‘To Protect and To Serve’, Counselor.”
“I haven’t had a chance to meet with my kid yet and get all of the facts. I’m hoping you can tell me what happened Friday night.”
“Yeah, sure. So you can make me eat my words if this goes to court. I know how the game is played.”
“I’m glad, because you’ll find me to be a straight-shooter, at least within the bounds of my profession.
“What bounds would those be, Counselor?”
“All right. Let’s stick to business then. What was your involvement that night?”
“I was working a night detail on routine patrol in a black and white when I got a call over the radio around midnight. There was a car accident on Maplewood Street near the intersection with School. When I got there I saw that a blue, late model Honda Accord drove over the curb and crashed into a mailbox up on the sidewalk. The mailbox was knocked over and the car’s front end was damaged. There was a teenage girl behind the wheel. I went over to the driver’s side window and took a look at her.
“What was her condition?”
“There was a strong odor of alcohol coming from her breath, her speech was slurred and her eyes were glassy. I asked her to step out of the car but she was too unsteady to get out and just fell back into her seat. She was too drunk to perform any field sobriety tests.
“Was she injured?’
“She had a bruise on her forehead. But she didn’t seem to be too banged up.”
“Did she tell you what happened?”
“Not at first. She was just staring at me looking dazed and out of it.”
“Did you ask for her license and registration?”
“Was she able to find them and produce them?”
“Not exactly. She had her handbag on the passenger side seat next to her. She started to fumble around in it and instead of coming up with the papers a 35mm film container fell out and some white pills spilled onto the passenger seat. I asked her what the pills were for and she said they were ‘antianxiety meds’ that her psychiatrist prescribed for her.”
“Did you ask if she has a prescription for them?”
“Yeah. At first she said she didn’t have it with her– it was at her house.”
“But then she said something different?”
“That’s right. When I pressed her about the film container not looking like what they normally package pills in at CVS she said they were given to her by her boyfriend ‘to help her relax’ at a house party earlier that evening.”
“Did she say how this accident happened?”
“Yeah. She said she had been at this party with her boyfriend and they had a fight. They went to the party in separate cars. And when they were going home the boyfriend, your client Carson Romero, deliberately drove into her car with his. She showed me the damage to the left front fender where she said he deliberately hit her.”
“Did she say anything else about what happened in that first accident?”
“Indeed she did, Counselor. First off, it wasn’t an accident according to her. She said he deliberately drove into her car. Secondly, she said that your client, the Romero boy, had been plying her with drinks all evening — Margaritas and Tequilla Sunrises to be exact– before he suggested she pop a few of those ‘antianxiety med’s’ she had in the film container which, by the way, she says your client gave her “to relax.”
“Is there more?”
“Yeah. On top of that she says your client brought a large quantity of the pills with him to the party and was selling them to the other kids. She said that by the time they left the party she and the Carson boy were both three sheets to the wind.”
“Did she say what happened after they left the party?”
“That’s when they got into a big argument. He wanted her to follow him over to the lover’s lane off of the Causeway. She told him she was too wasted and just wanted to go home to sleep. Then the next thing she knows he storms off, gets into his car, revs it up, and plows right into the driver’s side fender of her car. Then he backs up and peels out in a tear.”
“What time was that?”
“She said she couldn’t remember.”
“Did she say what happened between the time of that first incident and when you found her around midnight”
“She said she couldn’t remember anything after the argument and his hitting her car.”
“What did you do after that conversation with her?”
” I called for the EMT’s to take her to Bellvale Hospital. I bagged up the pills in an evidence bag and had them shipped out to the police lab. Before the EMT’s arrived I got the girl to sign a consent form to have blood alcohol and drug testing done at the hospital. When I got there I told the hospital E.R. guys to take blood samples and have them tested.
“Didn’t you just tell me she was dazed and confused and too out of it to even get out of the car? How could she voluntarily consent to the blood testing?”
“The fresh night air did her a whole world of good in seeing more clearly.”
“You mean after you told her if she didn’t sign the consent form you’d be arresting her right then and there for OUI; and that she would lose her license to drive just for refusing the test?”
“Now, Counselor, don’t be putting words in my mouth. Some of the upright citizens of Bellvale are only too glad to cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation of serious accidents and crime — before they get ‘lawyered up’, that is.”
“Have you had any conversations with my client, Carson Romero?”
“As a matter of fact I did. The next morning before I could call him to see what he had to say, he called me.
“What did he tell you?”
“Your young Mr. Romero is Mr. Cool. Acted like what happened to the girl was nothing. They had a few drinks, he couldn’t remember how many –just a couple of beers, no hard stuff — and then she pulled out a film container from her pocketbook and asked if he wanted to get really high. She opened it up and showed him some white pills. He said he was shocked and dismayed, and refused to take any of the pills, but she popped quite a few into her mouth. This was right before they were leaving to go home in separate cars. So he gets into his car, and just wants to get away from her. But before he can drive away she’s so blotto that she swerves right into his car. Fortunately the damage wasn’t so bad that he couldn’t get home and deal with the car damage and his enraged father in the morning, which is what he says he did.”
“Is that all he said to you?”
“That’s the gist of it. Anything else you can find in my investigation report.”
“Can you give me an idea where your investigation is heading?”
“Sure. Nowhere good for your client.”
“Thanks for all of your cooperation, Officer.”
“Don’t mention it, Counselor. Like I said, we’re here “To Protect and To Serve.”
Dan hangs up and does two things immediately in SJ. He makes a telephone note in the Communications – Opposing Party section of his call from Officer Woodson:
And fills out a time slip for the call:
He has no time now to digest everything he just learned from Woodson before he has to finish grinding out the motion to suppress on the Carrington case and get to court by 2 p.m. But he jots down a few thoughts and issues in a separate note filed under the “Notes to File” section of SJ.
That way he can quickly get back to what needs to be thought-through and dealt with on Romero when he returns to the office. When he figures things out, he can move this note where the information properly belongs in the SJ outline . He can accomplish that easily in a number of different ways (e.g., by clicking and dragging the note to another section of the SJ outline; or by copying and pasting the text of the note into a new or different note in another section of the outline; by creating a duplicate copy of the note and moving it to the other/new location; or by creating an “alias” of the note (i.e., a special kind of copy which will automatically reflect any changes made to the original note and vice-versa), and inserting the alias in the other/new location of the outline.
[N.B. I recommend to my readers that they follow the parallel Romero case blog of Mark Bernstein (Eastgate Systems, Inc.), the developer of Tinderbox. The focus of Mark’s blog is on the mapping features and uses of Tinderbox (which are incorporated in Summary Judgment™) for analyzing complex fact patterns that are unfolding over time.]
Stephen M. Winnick, Esq.
Winnick & Sullivan LLP
134 Main Street
Watertown, MA 02472
Copyright © 2009 Stephen M. Winnick, Esq. All rights reserved.