Judge Jim Rogan Reversed on Illegal Police Search

James Rogan--the ex-California Republican congressman who is now an Orange County Superior Court judge--wrongly sided with police who obtained narcotics during an illegal search of a vehicle, a California Court of Appeal has ruled.

Paul David Carmona Jr. and Alice Holguin appealed their 2010 convictions for possession and transportation for sale of methamphetamine in November 2009 after La Habra police stopped their vehicle for what officers claimed was an improper turn and then found the drugs.

Rogan admitted the drug evidence, claiming the cop had been right about the traffic violation that lead to the search. As a result, Carmona and Holguin pleaded guilty. Carmona got two years in state prison; Hogluin received 90 days in jail.

But a three-member panel of appellate justice determined that the officer had no right to stop Carmona's vehicle because it had not violated any traffic law. The search of the vehicle was a violation of the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, according to Justice Kathleen O'Leary on behalf of judges Richard Fybel and Raymond Ikola.

The La Habra cop tried to argue that Carmona should have signaled to turn right as the cop approached in the distance from the other direction. O'Leary's appeals-court ruling determined that a driver needs to signal 100 feet before a turn only if the turn could reasonably impact another driver. Despite the officer's claims otherwise, the justices said that "common sense" underscored that Carmona's turn away from the officer's vehicle had no impact.

The reversal of Rogan's ruling means the convictions have been overturned.

Rogan gained international fame in the 1990s when he helped lead the Republican charge to impeach President Bill Clinton after the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal.

--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly

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