I’m just a plainspoken Colorado criminal defense lawyer, but the way I see it…
You probably know the phrase “judge, jury, and executioner.” That’s supposed to be a bad thing. At the Division of Motor Vehicles in my state, and I imagine in most states, the people who giveth and taketh away our driver’s licenses are all of the above.
Hearings officers wear two hats, it is said, and though many of them have heads that are big enough to pull that off, to anyone with a sense of fairness, that just looks peculiar as hell.
These guys and gals are supposed to be impartial administrative law judges. But the first hat they wear is as prosecutor: they present the evidence, question the police, and question you. Then the second hat pops merrily into play: they render a verdict.
Let’s just get right to it: does anyone believe a prosecutor, if granted his or her dearest wish and could also be judge on his case, would rule the defendant not guilty? I don’t see any hands out there.
If the lawyers who practice before these hearing officers needed any more convincing — and they don’t — that these officers are far from impartial judges, the hearings division itself provides the proof, as usual.
For at least the past four years, the division has circulated lists of computer passwords that would seem to indicate bias against the people they judge. A division whistleblower provided the lists to a television news station I won’t mention because I don’t like them.
Some of the passwords are doozies:
- UWalkNow (the first of them, from January 2011)
- PDL?NOT! (referring to no chance in hell of getting a probationary driver’s license)
- HaHa0PDL (laughing at zero chance of getting the probationary license)
- URSkrood (my personal favorite)
Some of the passwords for 2014 single out particular lawyers who apparently have vexed the department because of their annoying determination to get their clients fair hearings:
- BoyrBloz (attorney Lloyd Boyer)
- PrskoSux (attorney Gary Pirosko)
- NixHpshr (attorney Cliff Hypsher)
- HutsABut (attorney Abe Hutt)
All the other criminal defense attorneys in Colorado, me included, have been phoning the hearings division nonstop, trying to see what on earth we can do also to earn these badges of honor.