March 2015 Case Notes: Q&A with Bernardo Garcia (Part 1)


What cases are you working on now?

There are 3 cases that I’ll be doing this summer. CA is the first one. CA was the young lady who drove onto the tarmac at Sky Harbor airport about a year and a half ago. She was on the news all over the place. And they thought that she was impaired, under the influence of either drugs or alcohol. They’ve done 3 tests on her, all 3 tests have been negative. They’ve still charged her with child abuse and we’re in the process of evaluating her defense with a mental health expert.

Any charges regarded to safety or the breaching of security at the airport?

Those are part of the endangerment charges.

The abuse charges are because there was a child in the car with her?

There was a child in the car with her. So that case will go this summer.

My second case this summer will be RC. She’s the individual who was driving up and down Scottsdale Road with a bunch of police officers chasing her, and she was in a state of psychosis. So that’s the second case.

And then DB is a third one. But all 3 cases have the likelihood of going to trial. The interesting thing about mental health cases- less than 1% of cases that go to trial have an insanity defense. So much less than what people generally think — they think the insanity defense is used all the time. Less than 1% of cases with an insanity defense go to trial, and even less of those are successful. So getting someone who needs mental health care to the state hospital (instead of jail) is not an easy thing. We had 2 people go to the state hospital last year. One for an aggravated assault on a police officer with a vehicle and another one for felony flight with a vehicle. They were both in psychosis and therefore were found to be eligible.

How long did it take for those 2 cases to make it through to resolution?

About 3 years each. 2-3 years, depending on the case. So these are long, drawn out cases. They require the use of experts. There’s usually a battle of the experts involved in the case. They are not your usual case. So they shouldn’t be handled by people who aren’t familiar with those areas.

(continue to part two)

Posted in Mental Health Defenses |

No Charges for Fire Captains Who Lied Under Oath About Arson


Two Phoenix Fire Department captains have avoided criminal charges of lying under oath. Maricopa Capt. Sam Richardson and Capt. Fred Andes were accused of lying under oath about an arson investigation near 40th Street and Campbell Avenue in May 2009. In the case, the homeowner was arrested on suspicion of arson. The charges were dropped later in part because a DPS report showed that there was no evidence tying the owner to the fire. DPS investigators recommended six charges of false swearing for Richardson, and one charge of false swearing for Andes.

In Arizona, to convict someone for false swearing, a prosecutor must prove a person made incorrect statements under oath knowingly.  According to County Attorney Bill Montgomery, both captains made incorrect or impeachable statements but both believed those statements were true. “Not bringing criminal charges obviously did not result in us saying that there was nothing wrong with what happened here, or with what the investigation identified,” Montgomery said.

Law Enforcement Liaison Keith D. Manning signed a letter addressed to acting Phoenix Fire Chief Kara Kalkbrenner. In the letter, Manning suggested that both fire investigators need to be retrained in dozens of key areas, including crime scene integrity, court testimony, witness credibility, the Rules of Evidence and the Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Captain Richardson and Captain Andes, along with their supervisor, were put on administrative leave with full pay and benefits following the DPS report. In August of 2014, they returned to work but had been reassigned to other divisions.

Read original article here.

Posted in Arson |

Jails Have Become Warehouses for the Mentally Ill


The Vera Institute of Justice recently released a study titled, “Incarceration’s Front Door: The Misuse of Jails in America.” Among its findings: the majority of people incarcerated are too poor to post bail or too mentally ill or addicted to drugs to adequately care for themselves.

In the past, a judge was more likely to free a suspect on their own recognizance pending trial dates for minor offenses, but now many of those incarcerated find themselves waiting for their trial date behind bars. The report found that most of the inmates in jail are there for minor violations such as driving with a suspended license, shoplifting, or evading subway fares. Many of these people are poor, and unable to pay bail.

Since 1983, violent crime has dropped nationwide by 50 percent and property crime by over 40%, yet the number of people in jail on any given day has increased by over 300%. These statistics raise concern over the use of our jails. Also concerning is the lack of mental health care available to inmates. The Vera Institute report found that 80% of inmates with mental illness did not receive treatment in jail. Drug treatment programs are underfunded as well.

In response to the report, the MacArthur Foundation announced that it would put $75 million toward alternatives to incarcerating large numbers of people. The foundation will work with 20 jurisdictions over the next 5 years.

Read the original article here.

Posted in Mental Health Defenses |