I literally just got off the phone for a DUI driver license hearing for one of my clients where disgraced Utah Highway Patrol trooper Lisa Steed was the arresting officer. For those of you that don't know, a DUI driver license hearing is an administrative hearing where the Driver License Division determines whether to suspend someone's license that has received a DUI.
I knew Lisa Steed had been taken off of patrol. I knew she had lied under oath and a felony drug case was dismissed. I knew the Salt Lake County District Attorney was/is dismissing her DUI cases left and right, and that Davis County has started dismissing them and refusing to file on new ones. The issue is, obviously, she was under oath and did not tell the truth.
Well, I went in armed with this information ready to tear holes in her testimony. She got to testify first about what occurred during the DUI. Then it was my turn to ask her questions.
My first question was, "Isn't true you're not on a patrol anymore?" Before the first question was out of my mouth, the DLD hearing officer yelled that I could not ask her about her credibility. I stated that this whole case was about her credibility to which was responded that this case was about what my client did.
The fact is, the only evidence in the case is the evidence Lisa Steed provided. If she is not credible, the evidence is not credible, but the Driver License Division does not want to acknowledge this.
It is exactly this kind of protectionism that created Lisa Steed in the first place. This video from ABC 4 discusses her tasing someone that was still sitting in their car, arresting people on motorized bikes, lying on the witness stand under oath, and violating UHP policy in the investigation of DUI's. And what was UHP's response? That she's a good trooper and still out on the streets.
Criminal defense attorneys have a bad rap. Many people feel we help criminals get away with crimes. The truth is, we have very little power. The most I can do is convince a jury that a man should not be punished. The most a corrupt cop can do is ruin dozens, even hundreds, of lives.
And yet the government's response, at least from UHP and the Driver License Division, seems to be that even if she is corrupt, even if she is violating policy, violating people's lives, and even assaulting them, we are going to protect her.
The fact that we can't trust our government to protect us from people like Lisa Steed is the truly frightening thing. To be honest, attacking her in defense of my clients is one of the proudest moments I've ever had as a defense attorney. And since I'm appealing this driver license hearing to the district court and subpoenaing Lisa Steed to the stand, I'm expecting I'll have more proud moments like this one.