Defending the Constitutionality of Penal Code section 148.6
By Alison Berry Wilkinson
Rains, Lucia & Wilkinson LLP
The constitutionality of Penal Code section 148.6 is once again under attack by
the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). This time, however, the ACLU has
taken its quest to a new level – the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals – in an
attempt to end-run the California Supreme Court’s decision in People v.
Stanistreet, 29 Cal. 4th 497 (2002).
Because section 148.6 provides important rights to peace officers falsely
accused of misconduct, and since I had filed on behalf of the PORAC Legal
Defense Fund an amicus brief in the Stanistreet matter, I requested and received
authorization to do so again in Darren David Chaker v. Alan Crogran, Warden,
San Diego County Probation Department, Ninth Circuit Case Number 03-56885.
SUMMARY OF THE CHAKER CASE
Darren David Chaker filed a Writ of Habeas Corpus
in the federal court
challenging his conviction in the San Diego County Municipal Court for knowingly
filing a false allegation of misconduct against a peace officer in violation of
California Penal Code section 148.6(a)(1). That writ alleged that his conviction
was contrary to the First Amendment, and that the California Supreme Court’s
involved an “unreasonable application” of clearly
established federal law.
Chaker’s conviction was premised on a citizen’s complaint that he filed against
an El Cajon police officer alleging “unlawful arrest,” “excessive force”, and
“search without cause.” Chaker claimed that although he complied with the
officer during his arrest, the officer nevertheless twisted his wrist and hit him in
the ribs. He also alleged that the officer intentionally stopped the transport van
suddenly in order to cause Chaker (who was not wearing a seatbelt) to hit his
head on the dashboard.
An independent witness, a clerk at the Postal Convenience Center where Chaker
was arrested, testified that she clearly saw the entire arrest procedure, that it
was completely professional, and t