Blake has an uncle who is a lawyer -- my brother, David Shuler, of Springfield, Missouri. David stepped into the breach to provide representation after Blake pleaded guilty, on his own, to possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia after a highly questionable search of his vehicle.
According to court records, David wanted to get Blake's guilty plea withdrawn and the judgment set aside out of concern that the plea would have a negative effect on Blake's future employment prospects. David's plan worked, to an extent, because the court did dismiss Blake's guilty plea on the drug-related charges. But if part of the plan was to ensure that Blake did not come away with a criminal record . . . well, that didn't work so well.
Instead of a guilty plea for drug possession, Blake now has a guilty plea on his record for "peace disturbance" -- and the incident report in the case indicates Blake did not remotely disturb the peace. There is no indication that he was loud, rude, or disrespectful to the police or that he caused alarm to anyone else.
(Note: The incident report, plus David's Entry of Appearance and Motion to Withdraw Plea of Guilty, are embedded at the end of this post.)
It appears David negotiated with Municipal Judge Matthew B. Owen to get the plea down from drug possession to peace disturbance, perhaps thinking it's better to have the latter on your record than the former. But Blake winds up with a blotch on his record for something he did not do. Some potential employers might see this "peace disturbance" on Blake's record and think, "This guy must be a disrespectful, belligerent hothead, and we don't want anything to do with him."
Here is the big question about Blake's case, and it's one David apparently did not want to deal with: Did officers have lawful grounds to search Blake's vehicle? Officers stopped Blake after they observed him drive over the center line twice while in Clever city limits. An officer reported smelling alcohol on Blake, and Blake admitted to drinking one beer. The officer conducted field-sobriety tests, which Blake agreed to take, and claimed on the incident report that Blake failed three portions of the test.
Based on that, the officer placed Blake under arrest for "suspicion of driving while impaired." (Note: The incident report does not say under what statute Blake was arrested. Was it a state law, a municipal ordinance? We don't know. Did David try to find out? We don't know that either. He has chosen not to answer any of our questions.)
Blake was taken to city hall, where he was administered a breathalyzer test, which came back negative for alcohol. (Hark! Blake might be the first driver in history who actually told the truth about the "one beer" bit.) Blake was returned to his vehicle and his passenger/girlfriend Chelsea Cox, where the pair likely thought they would be sent on their way with no charges -- and perhaps an apology from cops for the inconvenience they had caused. (Snort! Cops don't apologize for anything do they? They certainly haven't apologized for breaking my wife Carol's arm during an unlawful eviction in September 2015. In fact, they've lied their asses off in various narratives to make it sound like Carol must have broken her own arm.)
Upon returning to his car, Blake got some disconcerting news -- the kind cops seem to specialize in delivering. A second cop had been called to the scene -- and while Blake was away proving his innocence on DUI -- Cop No. 2 took it upon himself to search the vehicle, apparently without consent. That search turned up the marijuana and paraphernalia, leading to the drug-related charges to which Blake pleaded guilty while representing himself.
Does that scenario smell funny to you? It sure smells funny to me. David Shuler, Blake's lawyer, apparently thought it smelled fine. I see no sign that David questioned either the field-sobriety tests -- which often are administered improperly and produce false results -- or the vehicle search. Those are the two key events that caused Blake's arrest, and David apparently did not question either one.
Why? David is part of the legal/law-enforcement tribe, and perhaps his main objective was to keep them happy -- even if it meant his client wound up with a criminal record he doesn't deserve. For the record, David and Clever Municipal Judge Matthew B. Owen are Facebook friends. What does that tell us? We're not certain, but it suggests Judge Owen did David a favor by withdrawing the drug-related guilty plea, and David did the judge a favor by not making noise about a search that likely was unlawful, violating the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Perhaps David charged Blake nothing -- or very little -- and decided, "I don't have much invested in this case, so I'm not going to put in much work." If his nephew gets a bogus criminal conviction on his record -- for something he did not do -- well, so be it.
The record is clear that there were grounds to challenge the field-sobriety tests and the vehicle search -- but David Shuler apparently did neither, and he has shown no inclination to respond to our questions on the subject.
(To be continued)