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Loud teen party becomes a high-profile legal battle
Houston Chronicle ^ | June 17, 2005 | Erik Hanson

Posted on 06/17/2005 8:47:31 AM PDT by Millee

A routine call to check a loud party complaint at a home in one of this Fort Bend County city's swankiest neighborhoods has mushroomed into a full-fledged legal battle, with a squad of seasoned criminal defense attorneys lined up one side and the city on the other.

The dispute centers on citations police issued to 37 teenagers for possessing alcohol. Many of the teens say they were not drinking at the April 14 party. The parents were not home.

Some of the teens have pleaded guilty, but others and their parents are fighting the charges. They say police walked in without a warrant and simply issued citations to everyone in attendance, paying no mind to who was drinking and who was not.

On the other side of the dispute are city leaders and police who say officers had a duty to curtail underage drinking.

The attorneys, many of whom work felony cases in district court, met with the prosecutor and judge in municipal court Thursday to hash out details about an upcoming hearing on the case.

A parent, Rene Woodring, said she is fighting the charges because her daughter was not drinking.

"The police came in. They didn't check to see which kids were drinking. They just said everybody is getting a minor in possession" citation, she said.

Woodring went to the house in the 800 block of Sugar Creek shortly after the 10:47 p.m. raid and asked police to give sobriety tests to determine who had been drinking.

"They said, 'No, everybody is getting a ticket and you just have to go to court and we will sort it out there,' " Woodring said Thursday.

Woodring and other parents are also angry because those who received citations were not allowed to take part in extracurricular activities at school.

Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace said despite the view of defense attorneys and some parents, city officials think the officers had legal cause to enter the house and issue citations.

"We take a very strong stance on minors in possession and we take a strong stance on illegal and underage drinking," he said.

Wallace said some of the teens and their parents have filed complaints against police for what they call unprofessional or abusive behavior.

"We are working those and continuing to investigate those" complaints, he said.

While many are fighting the charges, Sugar Land prosecutor Jan Baker said 14 of the teenagers have pleaded guilty.

At the pre-trial conference Thursday, defense lawyers filed motions saying officers entered the house illegally because they did not have a warrant or probable cause.

The attorneys want the search and all evidence seized to be suppressed.

Municipal Court Judge D. Craig Landin said the legal issues regarding the entry and search of the home will be argued during a June 30 hearing.

Attorney Keith Hampton, who is representing one of the teens, said circumstances did not give police cause to enter the house.

Police can enter a house without a warrant or consent from the owner under certain conditions, such as a life being in danger or evidence being destroyed.

Although there were no indications of serious felonies being committed in the home, prosecutor Baker thinks there is sufficient case law to permit the actions the officers took.

The episode began when police were sent to the Sugar Creek house to investigate complaints about a party, said Sugar Land police spokeswoman Pat Whitty.

As officers pulled up to the two-story home, several partygoers ran away.

Officers went inside where they corralled 37 people younger than 21. They also found dozens of beers and other alcoholic beverages. Whitty said police issued citations for minor in possession of alcohol and arrested two people.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: 5thamendment; donutwatch; govwatch
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Sure. It was everybody else's kids who were drinking. Guess this is why the U.S. has 80% of the worlds lawyers.
1 posted on 06/17/2005 8:47:31 AM PDT by Millee
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To: Millee
Yea, why worry about that little 5th Amendment thingy.

Gotta protect the kiddies from themselves after all.

L

2 posted on 06/17/2005 8:48:51 AM PDT by Lurker (Remember the Beirut Bombing; 243 dead Marines. The House of Assad and Hezbollah did it..)
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To: Lurker

And of course freedom of association has long since gone out the window as well.


3 posted on 06/17/2005 8:49:59 AM PDT by thoughtomator (The U.S. Constitution poses no serious threat to our form of government)
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To: Millee

The Sugar Land police department didn't learn from neighbor Houston. Remember the K-Mart raid?


4 posted on 06/17/2005 8:52:09 AM PDT by FreePaul
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To: Millee

You're exactly right. All these little rich brats think they have a God-given right to screw off just because Daddy has money. I love the parents' reactions: "Not my little Muffy!" Muffy shouldn't have been there in the first place. Sounds like the Clinton "but I never inhaled" defense.

You know that if this were a story about black kids carrying on in Gary or Indianapolis, these same swanky parents would be supporting the cops 110%.


5 posted on 06/17/2005 8:53:36 AM PDT by opocno (France, the other dead meat)
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To: Millee

Well, can you prove in beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law that any particular teenager was drinking?

Especially, now, with Michael Jackson's defense team free to take new cases for a small fee....


6 posted on 06/17/2005 8:54:33 AM PDT by proxy_user
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To: opocno

"You know that if this were a story about black kids carrying on in Gary or Indianapolis, these same swanky parents would be supporting the cops 110%."

Bingo. Same applies to certain FReepers.


7 posted on 06/17/2005 8:55:15 AM PDT by L98Fiero
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To: Millee
The DA, The Judge and the Mayor who apoints the Police Chief all have need money to run for reelection.

After some huffing and puffing they will admit they screwed up and drop the charges.

The cops will not be disciplined for violating everyones rights.

SO9

8 posted on 06/17/2005 8:58:21 AM PDT by Servant of the 9 (Trust Me)
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To: Millee
Woodring and other parents are also angry because those who received citations were not allowed to take part in extracurricular activities at school

Bingo! We don't want our kids "feelings" to be hurt, by being left out of something. That's why we let them attend parties where there is underage drinking and no adult supervision. Gotta be popular at any cost.

9 posted on 06/17/2005 8:58:41 AM PDT by QueenBee3 ("Phone's ringin dude.")
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To: L98Fiero

What ever happened to just telling their parents?
Why do we have to give every kid a criminal record?
Maybe we should arrest teens for underage sex too.


10 posted on 06/17/2005 8:58:49 AM PDT by bummerdude
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To: Millee
Fine. Confisgate the parents' homes when their children are involved in any alchohol related crime with injury, even to themselves.
11 posted on 06/17/2005 8:59:44 AM PDT by af_vet_1981
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To: opocno
All these little rich brats think they have a God-given right to screw off just because Daddy has money.

My guess is they've been paying attention to how the system works.

12 posted on 06/17/2005 8:59:59 AM PDT by Wolfie
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To: Lurker
Yea, why worry about that little 5th Amendment thingy.

If there was probable cause; e.g., excessive noice, breaking glass, etc., I think the police officers were well within their right to investigate, especially if they were called to this location based on reports from neighbors (I'm making an assumption here).

Of course, if no breathalyzer tests were given, or no pictures taken of the suspects with alcohol in hand, there would seem to be no evidence directly tied to an individual.

I think many of us have been in the situation as these kids. You may not particularly like it at the time, but they were breaking the law, and should pay the consequences if they get caught.

13 posted on 06/17/2005 9:01:51 AM PDT by Lou L
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To: Lou L
"Police can enter a house without a warrant or consent from the owner under certain conditions, such as a life being in danger or evidence being destroyed."

I didn't see anyone allege either of the above conditions here.Maybe I missed it.

Also, the fact that they refused to offer Breathalyzers after being asked means that these cases go bye-bye. The cops involved should be required to pay the court costs IMO.

L L

14 posted on 06/17/2005 9:07:25 AM PDT by Lurker (Remember the Beirut Bombing; 243 dead Marines. The House of Assad and Hezbollah did it..)
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To: Lou L
You may not particularly like it at the time, but they were breaking the law, and should pay the consequences if they get caught.

If they were at the party yet not consuming alcohol, do you think that they should still suffer the consequences?

15 posted on 06/17/2005 9:11:31 AM PDT by kaboom
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To: opocno

You are painting with an overly-broad brush. In the same breath you are calling the parents racists (without any evidence whatsoever) and stereotyping the behaviors of "evil rich people". Are you a Democrat?


16 posted on 06/17/2005 9:14:54 AM PDT by The Electrician ("Government is the only enterprise in the world which expands in size when its failures increase.")
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To: Millee
W/probable cause, they do not need a warrant.

And in spite of the "I wasn't drinking" defense, they are just as much in possession as anyone else in the room.

At 19 I was in a car w/some buddies who had some beer.

I had no intention of touching the beer (I hate the taste of the stuff, always have, always will). I wasn't an angel, but I didn't drink then, I don't drink now.

But guess what, I got arrested right along w/them (Small town, local kids cops knew us, etc.). I spent the night in lock-up right along w/them. And I stood in front of the judge just like my buddies did.

The judge acknowledged my non-drinker status (as attested to by several people who knew me), but assessed the same Minor in Possession fine as them. I took it like a man. Today two of those three friends are dead, w/one having also killed another in alcohol related accidents. The lesson I got from it was to pick better friends.

BTW, I have had to answer to that $15.00 for my security clearance for over 25 years every time it comes up for renewal.

But the thought of getting my mother to fight that battle never occurred to me.
17 posted on 06/17/2005 9:16:20 AM PDT by conservativeharleyguy (Democrats: Over 60 million fooled daily!)
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To: Millee
These parents are awfully good at hiring lawyers and complaining to reporters, but awfully bad at supervising their teens.
18 posted on 06/17/2005 9:21:43 AM PDT by colorado tanker (The People Have Spoken)
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To: Servant of the 9
"The cops will not be disciplined for violating everyones rights."

Those who's rights have been violated have the following recourse:

U.S. Supreme Court HAFER v. MELO, 502 U.S. 21 (1991)

monetary damages under 42 U.S.C. 1983

"Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured. . . ."

We hold that state officials, sued in their individual capacities, are "persons" within the meaning of 1983. The Eleventh Amendment does not bar such suits, nor are state officers absolutely immune from personal liability under 1983 solely by virtue of the "official" nature of their acts.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals is Affirmed.

I would sue the shit out of the cops, prosecutors, and any other city official involved.

19 posted on 06/17/2005 9:22:06 AM PDT by tahiti
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To: Millee

The parents let their underage kids go to a drinking party?

Were they out drinking themselves?


20 posted on 06/17/2005 9:22:23 AM PDT by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: bummerdude

"What ever happened to just telling their parents?"

I think the actions of the parents in this instance answer that question. It is the equivilent of doing nothing.


21 posted on 06/17/2005 9:23:31 AM PDT by L98Fiero
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To: tahiti
I would sue the shit out of the cops, prosecutors, and any other city official involved.

Maybe, but the kids will all be going away to college in the fall, and the parents are well off and will probably be glad just to see it go away after the police have been put in their place.

SO9

22 posted on 06/17/2005 9:28:06 AM PDT by Servant of the 9 (Trust Me)
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To: Millee

The parent in this incident is nuts. She is the problem.


23 posted on 06/17/2005 9:34:13 AM PDT by kjo
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To: <1/1,000,000th%
"The parents let their underage kids go to a drinking party? Were they out drinking themselves?

No!! I was at....Bible Study.....er...I mean..how would I know???
24 posted on 06/17/2005 9:39:27 AM PDT by Millee (So you're a feminist......isn't that cute??)
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To: Millee

Spoiled, wealthy little sociopaths who are above the law. Obviously this neighborhood is a breeding ground for future lawyers.


25 posted on 06/17/2005 9:42:16 AM PDT by FormerACLUmember (Honoring Saint Jude's assistance every day.)
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To: Millee

Yeah, if Johnny or Janey had an accident after leaving the party, you can bet your booties that mom and dad would be outraged and suing the owner.


26 posted on 06/17/2005 9:55:51 AM PDT by lilylangtree
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To: lilylangtree

Great point!


27 posted on 06/17/2005 9:59:46 AM PDT by Millee (So you're a feminist......isn't that cute??)
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To: <1/1,000,000th%
"The parents let their underage kids go to a drinking party?"

The crazy way laws are in this country make it impossible for parents to supervise their kids. At 18 they are adults able to go anywhere they want without parental supervision. They aren't allowed to drink until they are 21 though. Blaming the parents for that situation is stupid.

The solution, either raise the age of adulthood to 21 or lower the drinking age to 18. Of course that makes way too much sense for legislators to ever do.
28 posted on 06/17/2005 10:14:30 AM PDT by monday
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To: FormerACLUmember
Spoiled, wealthy little sociopaths who are above the law.

Does drinking at a party underage make you a sociopath?

Does not drinking at a party and fighting against charges that you were make you a sociopath?
29 posted on 06/17/2005 10:19:59 AM PDT by Durus
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To: monday

You have a point.

In my case, if my 19-year-old daughter continues to live at home, she has to follow dad's rules. If she doesn't like dad's rules, dad can have everything she owns out in the front yard in about 15 minutes.


30 posted on 06/17/2005 10:21:12 AM PDT by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: Lou L

Upon what would you base administering a breathalyzer test, a field sobriety test? I feel that action would be thrown out of court.
I think that every kid in the house could be charged with being a minor in possession since none of them were of legal drinking age and willingly placed themself in the situation by remaining were alcohol was being consumed illegally.
Furthermore, the fact that people were seen fleeing the site when police arrived certainly gave the police a sound reason to enter the house to determine what activity was taking place that compelled people to flee when police arrived.


31 posted on 06/17/2005 10:24:41 AM PDT by em2vn
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To: Millee
"Sure. It was everybody else's kids who were drinking."

The police were asked to give them Breathalyzer tests in order to determine who was drinking and refused. Why didn't they? Did they just want to bust all of those nasty little rich kids? Put them in their place?

It's so funny how many people on this thread don't even try to hide their hatred of these kids because they are rich. Class bigotry is widespread and no one even bothers to hide it like they would if they were racists. The rich are not a protected class in the politically correct world. They just have to shut up and take it like white people or men or Christians.

All the bigots on this thread should be ashamed of themselves, but I expect they aren't.
32 posted on 06/17/2005 10:29:31 AM PDT by monday
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To: conservativeharleyguy
Nope. With regard to a home, 'probable cause' doesn't obviate the need for a warrant. Car, yes. Home, no.

As far as the possession charge, again, the 'everyone in the house' theory won't fly. It works in a car. But in a house, there is no way to establish that any given kid even knew the alcohol was present, or that they had any access to it.

What if their 12-year-old sister was upstairs listening to records? Charge her, too? See, it just doesn't work as a blanket assertion.

Anyway - high school seniors drinking - the horror!

33 posted on 06/17/2005 10:35:04 AM PDT by lugsoul ("She talks and she laughs." - Tom DeLay)
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To: Lurker
I didn't see anyone allege either of the above conditions here.Maybe I missed it.

I can't imagine a bunch of kids standing at the door telling the cops that they cannot enter without a warrant. I'll bet the kids probably just let them in.

34 posted on 06/17/2005 10:37:39 AM PDT by Dianna
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To: Lurker

If it is an open party, it's an open party. That's why college frat parties have lists now. No undercover cops can attend.


35 posted on 06/17/2005 10:37:52 AM PDT by AppyPappy
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To: FormerACLUmember
"Spoiled, wealthy little sociopaths who are above the law."

sociopaths? lol.... You must be joking? Do you know what a sociopath is?
36 posted on 06/17/2005 10:39:34 AM PDT by monday
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To: em2vn
Upon what would you base administering a breathalyzer test, a field sobriety test? I feel that action would be thrown out of court.

Evidence.

Positive Breathalyzer + alcoholic drinks present + minors = drinking underage.

If this went to trial and you saw that evidence, what else would you need to know?

37 posted on 06/17/2005 11:05:43 AM PDT by Lou L
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To: tahiti

well, that's saying a lot


38 posted on 06/17/2005 11:06:05 AM PDT by Rushgrrl (~brought to you from the illegal-rich state of California~)
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To: monday
sociopaths? lol.... You must be joking? Do you know what a sociopath is?

Sure, a sociopath is the alternative term for "lawyer."

39 posted on 06/17/2005 11:08:24 AM PDT by FormerACLUmember (Honoring Saint Jude's assistance every day.)
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To: monday

but it's the RISK the kid takes by being somewhere where there is drinking and getting busted for being there. Cripes when I was underage I was doing it but you can be DAMN sure that if I were to get busted it was my own damn fault. Plain and simple..SO much for personal responsibility..and these parents are teaching their kids that being there is okay (it isn't because it's possession!). And for all of you that are OKAY with this....maybe you shouldn't be having kids! It's always the cops fault!! My gawd you people are disgusting and just as BAD as any liberal when it comes to this subject!! It's about RESPONSIBILITY! But then, from what I've seen here, a whole bunch of you are just as pro-gov't-baby-sitting as any lib!


40 posted on 06/17/2005 11:10:07 AM PDT by Rushgrrl (~brought to you from the illegal-rich state of California~)
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To: opocno

Oh so you have conclusive proof everyone of these kids were drinking do you? Well I suggest you give it to the police because they sure as hell don't have.

But never mind, convict them all, we don't want a little thing like evidence, proof, or due process to get in the way of your pre-concieved bias.


41 posted on 06/17/2005 11:11:47 AM PDT by Wil H
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To: em2vn
Upon what would you base administering a breathalyzer test, a field sobriety test? I feel that action would be thrown out of court.

Evidence.

Positive Breathalyzer + alcoholic drinks present + minors = drinking underage.

If this went to trial and you saw that evidence, what else would you need to know?

42 posted on 06/17/2005 11:14:07 AM PDT by Lou L
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To: opocno
You know that if this were a story about black kids carrying on in Gary or Indianapolis, these same swanky parents would be supporting the cops 110%.

It amazes me to hear people on FreeRepublic cheering the death of liberty and the rise of the police state. The police ADMIT they don't know which kids actually violated the law so they simply charged everybody like all good police states do - guilty until proved innocent.

I bet you won't cheer the loss of liberty and the rise of the police state when the police come for you - but by then it may be too late.

43 posted on 06/17/2005 11:15:08 AM PDT by Last Visible Dog
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To: Lou L
Positive Breathalyzer + alcoholic drinks present + minors = drinking underage. If this went to trial and you saw that evidence, what else would you need to know?

So if one person is guilty - all 37 must be guilty too - great police state logic - guilty until proved innocent. All hail the death of liberty and the rise of the police state.

So next time you are at you favorite Red Neck bar and some Billy-Joe-Bob starts a fight - be prepared to go to jail - using your logic:

Bar + fight = everybody guilty

Or when you are driving home and Speed Racer beside you is clocked at 100MPH+ and you are ticketed (even though you weren't speeding) remember:

Car + Speeding = everybody nearby must be speeding.

Who needs evidence when the police can just use assumptions. Makes police work much easier and gives them more donut time.

44 posted on 06/17/2005 11:21:06 AM PDT by Last Visible Dog
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To: conservativeharleyguy
And in spite of the "I wasn't drinking" defense, they are just as much in possession as anyone else in the room.

All hail the police state and the death of liberty.

Remember - if you are in a subway car and some Cat is in possession of heroin - you too are in possession of heroin - if one person in the room is guilty - everybody is guilty - no need for evidence or tough police work - just go on assumptions.

45 posted on 06/17/2005 11:25:26 AM PDT by Last Visible Dog
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To: Last Visible Dog
So if one person is guilty - all 37 must be guilty too - great police state logic

No, that's not what I said in my original post. Without breathalyzer tests or photos of minors with liquor, they don't have a case. With a positive breathalyzer test and evidence of liquor present, I think they do.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not condoning a "police state;" what I abhor is adults covering up for "kids" when they break the law.

46 posted on 06/17/2005 11:25:49 AM PDT by Lou L
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To: FormerACLUmember
"Sure, a sociopath is the alternative term for "lawyer."


I dislike Lawyers, and some Lawyers certainly may have sociopathic tendencies, but since sociopaths by their nature function poorly in society, to call all lawyers sociopaths is absurd. A better synonym then 'lawyer' would be 'criminal'.

Typical characteristics of Sociopaths;

1.failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest
2.deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure
3.impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
4.irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults
5.reckless disregard for safety of self or others
6.consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain steady work or honor financial obligations
7.lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another
47 posted on 06/17/2005 11:33:36 AM PDT by monday
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To: Lou L
No, that's not what I said in my original post. Without breathalyzer tests or photos of minors with liquor, they don't have a case. With a positive breathalyzer test and evidence of liquor present, I think they do.

Sorry - my speed-reading failed me - I read only part of your message. Drat, another rant ruined!

In the words of Emily Latella: "never mind"

48 posted on 06/17/2005 11:34:34 AM PDT by Last Visible Dog
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To: Abram; AlexandriaDuke; Annie03; Babu; Baby Bear; bassmaner; Bernard; BJClinton; BlackbirdSST; ...
Libertarian ping.To be added or removed from my ping list freepmail me or post a message here
49 posted on 06/17/2005 11:39:55 AM PDT by freepatriot32 (www.lp.org)
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To: Millee
A parent, Rene Woodring, said she is fighting the charges because her daughter was not drinking.

Funny, my parents would have said "what were you doing at a party like that in the first place, that's what you get, pay the ticket."

50 posted on 06/17/2005 11:57:25 AM PDT by agrace (All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen. - Ralph Waldo Emerson)
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