Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Carmel on the Case: DUI Controversy
More controversy tonight involving the Broward County court system. Questions are being raised about the relationship between a BSO deputy and a prosecutor. Investigative Reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
WSVN -- It was a standard DUI roadside test and arrest last August, until the deputy turns his dashboard camera to the inside of his police car.
It turns out Assistant State Attorney Kataya Pisman was doing a ride-along this night with BSO Deputy Robert Hager. That's not unusual. But when the two exchange smiles and the prosecutor reaches over to scratch the deputy's arm, the questions began.
According to a motion filed by the defense attorney for the DUI suspect, "The prosecutor and the deputy are currently involved in a romantic relationship and have been for quite some time."
The Ticket Clinic, which represents the DUI suspect, declined to discuss the case, but legal experts expect defense attorneys will use the relationship to challenge the arrest.
The issue: was it a fair arrest, or was the deputy showing off for a woman he wanted to impress?
Frank de la Torre, Broward Public Defender's Office: "It's certainly a concern I would have if I was a defense lawyer on that particular case."
The public defender's office says it is now reviewing past cases.
Frank de la Torre: "It can mess up numerous cases for the state of Florida if this particular prosecutor had cases with this particular deputy, and they were, in fact, having a romantic relationship when they were having cases and did not reveal it."
But the Broward State Attorney's Office says, the officer has not been a witness in any of the prosecutor's cases in the past two-and-a-half years.
Jeff Marcus, Broward State Attorney's Office: "As far as this case is concerned, she was not dating him at the time. It's not uncommon for prosecutors to ride along with police officers. There's nothing inappropriate about that."
And what may look like flirting, according to the state attorney's office, is actually the two reacting to comments the suspect makes. For example, at one point on the tape, he says, "All you cops are under investigation."
Deputy Robert Hager: "I just said, 'Thank you for letting me know I'm under investigation.'"
Jeff Marcus: "They smile about what he's saying, and it's really, this is about nothing as far as we are concerned."
Carmel Cafiero: "BSO did not want to comment on the case, except to say that the department encourages ride alongs for prosecutors."
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