Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Coast Guard FAIL! ! ~ Mega DISRESPECT for 305 Coasties! YOU should be ashamed. / Michael A. Haber, Esq. ~ Call **ARRESTED or **MIAMIDUI

Coast Guard FAIL! ! ~ Disrespect for 305 Coasties this morning (even though, in fairness, they themselves were disrespected).  

Normally I have and display the greatest of respect for the armed forces and all those who sacrifice to serve, so much so in fact that I consider the US Coast Guard to be "the 5th branch".  I "Like" their (the USCG's) Facebook page, I follow their stories, I've even read some of their history (including a fabulous book called "So Others May Live: Coast Guard's Rescue Swimmers: Saving Lives, Defying Death" by Martha J LaGuardia-Kotiter, which I strongly recommend).

Before I rant though, a little background is in order, first on the USCG in the 305 and then more particular to the situation at hand.  Miami has a proud and strong USCG presence.  The base, located on the McCarthur Causeway, in between the exclusive and prestigious Star and Fisher Islands, in Government Cut and at South Beach, has been there for, well, longer than I've been alive.  

The brave souls who serve there deploy all through out the Caribbean, and further.  They ensure our (the United States') security and they routinely perform what are nothing shy of absolutely incredible acts of rescue.  They also protect the Port of Miami and patrol local waters, supplementing the mind-boggleingly and ludicrously small percentage of marine law enforcement here in the 305.  And this is a very important task because...

Anyone who operates a vessel in South Florida ("SoFlo"), and certainly those of us who have been doing so for 30+ years can aver that Miami has become the #1 (and if not #1 then at least is in the running for being the #1) assclown boat operator capital of the planet.  This is partially true as, unfortunately, operating a vessel in Florida does not require either any sort of a license or any sort of training.  (Go figure:  In f'ing Florida you need a license to catch a fish but not to drive a boat... yet another MENSA-level display by the generally worthless Florida Legislature.) 

Just like with parenting, any one with functioning parts (or in this case, with cash sufficient) can own or operate a vessel.  

Worse yet, when it comes to boats, the more money that you have the bigger boat that you can acquire, the bigger menace to the rest of the boating society that you can then present, and, again, Miami boasts a seemingly endless collection and ridiculous display of both wealth and assclowns.

Tack on the sheer volume of boaters, the seafront property, structures and people at risk (boaters, kayakers, paddle-boarders, swimmers, divers, etcetera) and the fact that people boat while intoxicated / impaired (B.U.I.) and you can understand the need for additional marine law enforcement in SoFlo.

Unlike a car on a public roadway, when it comes to operating a vessel on the water the 4th Amendment is essentially inapplicable.  Marine law enforcement (local, municipal, state or federal) do not have to have a legal basis to detain you.  As a boater you can be stopped for any reason or for no reason whatsoever, and your vessel (although not necessarily your person) is then subject to inspection for compliance with registration and safety protocols.  (For a list of USCG required safety equipment please see: A Boaters Guide to the Federal Requirements for Recreational Boats.)

So now let's fast forward to the events at hand:.  An acquaintance of mine was captain of a vessel which was boarded by USCG shortly after midnight (early this morning).  There were no safety violations and no allegation of BUI, but a small (under 2 grams) amount of marijuana was seized from his vessel.  Although they (the USCG) are federal agents this remains a State Court misdemeanor.  Per Florida law (which itself is W-R-O-N-G - again I refer you to our elected douchebags who routinely meet in Tallahassee to dillydally, lollygag and find seemingly endless unproductive things to do and infinite ways to fritter away our tax dollars) misdemeanor possession of marijuana (sadly) remains an arrestable offense, but officers are not obligated to make a physical arrest and are empowered to issue a PTA/NTA (promise / notice to appear) in court instead.  

In this case the USCG, over a petty amount of marijuana, physically arrested the captain, towed and secured his vessel, causing otherwise innocent passengers to inconveniently make their way home by land, and now likely costing the captain his New Year's Eve on the water with his friends and family. (This is in large part due to the ineptness of the Miami-Dade County Corrections Department and the pathetic reality that they cannot manage to book and bond people in less than 24 hours.... of course that is a whole different rant but the USCG was well-aware of this when then chose to make a physical, instead of a paper arrest in this, or in any, case.)  Theirs was, at best, an unbecoming and a juvenile move, and is the "why" of my above FAIL! label and statement of momentary disrespect to the otherwise praiseworthy men and women of the USCG Miami Base.

That said, I must add 2 things:  1) I reiterate my general respect, appreciation and applause for those who serve, for the sacrifice they make, for the risks they take and for the selfless job that they do; and 2) apparently this was not the first time that these Coasties found a misdemeanor amount of marijuana on this same captain (in fact, it's the second, and the first time they simply impounded the similar small quantity and sent him on his way with a mere warning; so he, the captain, was on notice, knew better and shouldn't have had any pot on his boat at all); but STILL, they, the Coasties, should have PTA/NTA'd him at worst.  He is not a drug trafficker, this was not a felony situation, there was no allegation of impaired captaining / boating (B.U.I), it is the holiday season, they have the discretion and freaking marijuana should not be controlled, scheduled or illegal.  On the federal level:

On the State level:

Established in 1991, Michael A. Haber, P.A. has an unblemished record of providing creative, effective and zealous representation to clients, primarily in South Florida, on a wide variety of criminal matters ranging from DUI to drug trafficking and from misdemeanors to first degree murder. 

At Michael A. Haber, P.A. "Its all about reasonable doubt"!

Michael A. Haber, Esq. is prepared to speak with you about your case!


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