We previously wrote about some of Peter Liss’ high-profile cases covered by the press, but it’s worth noting that two years later, he continues to be involved in criminal cases of this caliber. Here is another major story where Peter Liss appeared in the news:
Man Arrested After Filming Border Patrol Violence
One of Mr. Liss’ clients, Jose Guzman, was on probation through an alternative sentencing program when a vehicle he was in was pulled over by the Border Patrol. Two undocumented workers were in the car and while one escaped, the other was violently arrested. Guzman filmed the officers (which is legal under state law) and later sent the footage to ABC 10 News.
Only hours after the footage aired on the news, Border Patrol agents came to the Guzman’s house and demanded his cell phone, which the man handed over immediately. Agents then insisted he help them find the undocumented worker that got away, but Guzman refused. Soon after, he was arrested.
Originally, the arresting officer, Lt. Holly Mitchell, claimed Guzman was under arrest for failing to cooperate with a police investigation. But Mitchell later changed his story, claiming the arrest was related to Guzman’s failure to check in with his case worker after interacting with the Border Patrol -a requirement of the probation program. As a criminal lawyer, Mr. Liss believes Mitchell changed his story because Guzman did not violate any laws by refusing to turn over the second undocumented worker, explaining “you have no obligation, whether you’re on probation or not, to basically help law enforcement do its job.”
Deputy District Attorney Tracy Prior did not believe Guzman should be put back on probation, claiming that doing so would present a public safety issue. But both the ACLU and Peter Liss argued that the arrest was retaliation for Guzman releasing the video to the press. Guzman’s phone records showed that he did try to contact his caseworker multiple times, although he admitted that he waited a little longer than he should have to make the calls.
In the end, the judge sided with Guzman and Mr. Liss, explaining that not only did Guzman contact his case worker, but that he was required to be presented with a written notice detailing the reasons he was in violation of the program rules and his appellate rights. The program workers failed to give Guzman these documents and thus violated the law.
As you can see, the law is complex, but it is largely written to protect the rights of the innocent. If you have been accused of any crime, Peter M. Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation.