CHP Loses Traffic Ticket Case & Then Launched Revenge Raid On Winning Driver's Home

wilkinsonchp.jpg
In January 2007, California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer Mark Magrann saw a vehicle traveling at 101 mph on the 405 Freeway in Irvine, stopped the driver and issued a ticket to a United Kingdom driver's license-toting man who would vanish.

Six months later at a Harbor Court trial in Newport Beach, Magrann identified James Kendell Wilkinson of Dana Point as the offender, but then Wilkinson said he hadn't been the speeding driver and showed Judge Pro Tempore Kenneth C. Jones his Nevada driver's license with a different name and date of birth than the speeder.

Magrann admitted to Jones the production of the Nevada license made him "doubt" his assertion against Wilkinson but he still claimed he was "98 percent sure."

Jones wasn't impressed with the government's evidence and found Wilkinson not guilty.

Afterward in the courthouse hallway, Magrann questioned WIlkinson and, because he felt the winning defendant showed the same "arrogance" displayed by the speeder, opined that he was now, after the case had closed, "sure" Wilkinson had been the driver.

Losing the traffic ticket issue didn't sit well with the CHP officer, who mulled over his lose for a month and then contacted Wilkinson's wife, the registered owner of the speeding vehicle, to demand additional information.

When he didn't get the answer he wanted, the officer contacted CHP Investigator Theresa Pines, who launched an investigation into Wilkinson and, incredibly, decided to execute a government search of the man's home in hopes of finding the United Kingdom license.

Pines failed, but the CHP officers refused to drop the matter. They went to the Orange County District Attorney's office and, based on Magrann's post-trial decision that Wilkinson positively had been the speeder, successfully pushed for Wilkinson to be charged with perjury.

At the June 2010 perjury trial, Wilkinson testified again that he hadn't been the speeder and wasn't even in California on the date of the ticket. He'd been in Las Vegas. Charmaine Wilkinson, his wife, testified that she had been in the vehicle during the incident and that the driver was her husband's cousin, a British national.

But Magrann reassured the jury of his now thoroughly positive stance that Wilkinson was lying and jurors bought it in part because of a leap of logic: the officer provided home-search recovered records that the defendant had collected three other, unrelated traffic tickets during his life.

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The judge sentenced Wilkinson to 45 days in jail and then subjected him to criminal probation for three years.

Wilkinson challenged the conviction at the California Court of Appeal based in Santa Ana, arguing that law enforcement officials abused the ban on double jeopardy because the traffic court judge had already accepted his out-of-state explanation to find him not guilty of speeding.

In August 2011, the state appellate justices--Richard M. Aronson, Eileen C. Moore and Raymond J. Ikola--declared themselves impressed with the CHP actions and the perjury prosecution.

The California Supreme Court refused to consider the case, but Wilkinson finally found relief in recent weeks with federal judges, who lambasted the state judges for making four huge legal reasoning mistakes to uphold the perjury conviction.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Frederick F. Mumm studied the entire case as well as Supervising Deputy Attorney General Peter Quon, Jr.'s assertion that Wilkinson was the one advancing "unreasonable" arguments.

But Mumm noted that the central issue in both the traffic and perjury cases had been the driver's identity.

"The traffic court either affirmatively concluded [Wilkinson] was not the driver or found that the government had failed to meet its burden of showing [Wilkinson] was the driver," Mumm wrote. "Under either circumstance, the traffic court necessarily decided that [Wilkinson] was not the driver."

Therefore, Mumm concluded, prosecutors had given police an illegal, second chance to win a conviction and "forced" Wilkinson to "run the gauntlet a second time with respect to the identity issue."

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"Thank God. The police."
The federal judge finished by slamming the state appellate justices for their error-loaded, pro-police opinion.

"The Court of Appeal's decision reveals a fundamental misconstrual of Supreme Court holdings regarding collateral estoppel in criminal cases," wrote Mumm. "Therefore, [I conclude] that the Court of Appeal's decision was not merely erroneous. It was an unreasonable application of clearly-established federal law."

The perjury trial violated Wilkinson's Fifth Amendment right to be free from double jeopardy, he determined.

Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Gary A. Feess supported Mumm's findings and officially tossed out Wilkson's perjury conviction.

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Email: rscottmoxley@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @RScottMoxley.


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45 comments
al_irish
al_irish

There must be more than this to the story. It just doesn't make sense that the CHP, or any other agency, would spend the time and resources expended here simply because one patrol officer lost a traffic ticket case. Losses like that happen all the time without setting off a chain of events like this; it's to be expected. If this happened in every traffic case that the CHP (or any other agency) lost, they'd never be  out on the street . . . 

On the other hand, this is a good example of why all police officers should be wired for sound and their vehicles equipped with at least two video cameras that run at all times during cops' encounters with members of the public. The first camera, mounted on the dashboard or behind the rear view mirror, should record everything that happens in front of the police vehicle. In this case, the officer could simply have asked the driver to step out of his vehicle, go to the front of the police vehicle, and look into the front of the police vehicle for a few seconds - - identity issue solved!

A second camera should be directed to the back seat of the police car in order to document how the prisoner was transported, as well as to see if the prisoner drops anything out of his/her pockets. Prisoners have no expectation of privacy in the back of police cars.   

ltpar
ltpar topcommenter

Man that was a lot of time and efort expended on one speeding ticket. I am surprised that the CHP Officer's supervisors would condone a waste of time and money on a single case.  Looks like that CHP Officer may have too much time on his hands.   

burto51
burto51

how about both Mr. and Mrs. Wilkinson

henryheigh
henryheigh

They prosecuted the wrong person for perjury.  It should have been Mrs. Wilkinson.  I hope they still do.

burto51
burto51

Flinstone has it right people. Moxley can pick and choose what information he puts in his article. If all the facts were presented he would not have a good article. If a person goes into court and testifies under oath and it is proven at a later date the person lied to win his case it is plain and simple. Perjury!

Flinstone
Flinstone

The Officer believed the guy perjured himself to get out of a speeding ticket, a felony, and a totally separate crime. He goes to the investigator with the details, and she agrees. The investigation continues and they build a case. The case gets presented to the DA, they agree. The case goes before a jury, the jury agrees. On appeal, the state appellate court agreed. The state supreme court essentially agrees when they decide not to hear it. The deputy attorney generally agreed when he argued the case in front of the supreme court. With this many layers, how did the Officer act improperly?

I take issue with the author's inflammatory language. Pretty sure the state appellate court wasn't "impressed" with the state's case. What a joke!

jcwconsult
jcwconsult

Revenge is an unacceptable behavior for a police officer.


Fortunately, Mr. Wilkinson refused to be railroaded.  Kudos to the Federal Courts.

James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

Not surprised, one of these pricks fled the scene after someone cut me off on the Garbage Grove freeway and while I was still pointing in the wrong direction. Just more of the same Mafia Trash Behavior ®

paullucas714
paullucas714 topcommenter

And yet again, a cop violates the constitution and he and his higher up enablers and the OCDA get away with it.

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

So...Officer Magrann wreaks havoc on a man's life because he couldn't get a conviction on a SPEEDING TICKET.  A person that narcissistic has no absolutely not business being in law enforcement!

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

"challenged the conviction at the California Court of Appeal based in Santa Ana, arguing that law enforcement officials abused the ban on double jeopardy because the traffic court judge had already accepted his out-of-state explanation to find him not guilty of speeding".

"80 percent of all cops are criminals and are being paid to violate the laws while on duty".

RonaldMexico
RonaldMexico

Finally a little sanity in the insane law application, and those who would be intrusted to perform that duty.

itzmectina
itzmectina

@al_irish  this is exactly what LEO and the people we pay to protect us ARE doing!! AND yes we must demand cameras on officers at all times, drug testing (was this officer in his right state of mind, we will never know because they are not drug tested) 

rscottmoxley
rscottmoxley topcommenter

@ltpar You are someone I've always respected and I think you've made a good point here.

bridgettcash
bridgettcash

@burto51 Lied in court? How did he do that? He provided his NV DL and proof he was in another state at the time. The CHP were sore losers. Didn't like being challenged in court. The wife? She didn't lie so what are they going to go after her for? I hope he brings a civil action against the CHP and all parties involved. 

cravencoward
cravencoward

@burto51  1)  When, exactly, was perjury proven?  
2) What facts were not presented in this article?
3) When was it proven that a person lied at a later date?

rscottmoxley
rscottmoxley topcommenter

@burto51 Oh, man, please, please tell me brave "burto51" that the state of California hasn't entrusted the likes of you with a badge and gun. Your "analysis" prematurely stops before the end of the issue regarding Mr. Wilkinson. You don't want to accept that the conviction is now officially overturned as an illegal government action. You shoot at me in juvenile frustration when you should take up your beef up with the two federal judges--including one appointed by Republican President George W. Bush--who determined that the California Highway Patrol went overboard on a lousy speeding ticket issue. Raiding a home after losing a traffic ticket? Come on, man. Only a warped cop would defend such a punk action.

cravencoward
cravencoward

@Flinstone And yet the US Supreme Court routinely overturns lower court decisions which have gone through multiple layers of appeals.  Your "logic" seems to be deficient. We don't have multiple layers of appeals and hearings simply for the purpose of one court rubber-stamping a lower court's decision.  This IS the purpose of appeals, including appeals to the US Supreme Court.

burto51
burto51

@jcwconsult Revenge? It appears the Officer was able to prove perjury which is a felony. It is unknown how long this officer has on the job, but officers lose traffic cases all the time. It is rare for one to be charged with perjury. This is not revenge, just good police work.

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

Not for much longer Paul.

burto51
burto51

@FishWithoutBicycle wreaks havoc? Officer investigated a man for perjury. Actually, poorly written article so I guess we can't blame you for your opinion.

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

If that standard were applied in Orange County CA not one or two but hundreds of cops and deputies would be fired. And wherever these mythical good cops are they're apparently too chickenshit or too greedy to reign them in.

whateveryousay
whateveryousay topcommenter

@FishWithoutBicycle Or, the dude lied and got away with it.  Either way I would hate to be the cousin if they ever step foot in the US again. 


burto51
burto51

Do you think this case would have made it to a Federal Judge without 1,2 and 3. Moxley left out some good facts.

Flinstone
Flinstone

Exactly, the supreme court, and lower appellate courts overturn rulings all the time. Nowhere have I challenged Wilkins's innocence, or the fed appellate ruling. My logic was applied towards the author's premise that this case was both exceptional for its reversal(as you stated, it isn't), and caused by an Officer with a vendetta over losing a speed trial. That premise doesn't even pass basic scrutiny in my opinion.

Flinstone
Flinstone

Show me where I whined about the fed appeals court judgement? Do we not have several levels of appellate court for this very thing? My reply was aimed solely at your telling of the story, and the resulting comments, nothing more.

jcwconsult
jcwconsult

@burto51 @jcwconsult   The federal courts disagreed and freed Mr. Wilkinson.


James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

@18usc241  

Sometimes it's not greed or cowardice but knowledge of the ramifications...not just for them but for their friends and family. We know how the bad cops treat whistleblowers. :-(

Flinstone
Flinstone

It's funny how the left treats him too, he's so well liked despite his poor personal conduct.

The DA's office rejects many many cases every day, even ones with merit. I would bet perjury is a difficult one to prosecute, unless one has some good evidence. The Officer simply recommends charges, the DA's office does the charging. You may already know this, if so then disregard it. It's written for other readers as well.

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

@burto51 @rscottmoxley @Flinstone  

Perjury over a TRAFFIC TICKET. I remember when they wanted to impeach Bill Clinton for perjury...because he lied about a BLOW JOB! Whether Wilkins perjured himself or not, there is no excuse for Officer McGrann's actions.

Flinstone
Flinstone

When exactly did I bark like a tough guy? The only one acting tough here, is you. When your sources don't want to be revealed, do you try and insult them too? Stop with the tough guy nonsense, please. Your blog has a comment box at the bottom, and I didn't see any prohibition on comments that don't stroke you.

I tried to point out, as simply as I could, the very long chain of checks and balances which lead to a conviction and two successful appeal defenses. The idea that one Officer started a shit storm out of revenge, and nothing more, and everyone up to the state attorney generals office just bowed down and ran with the ball, is preposterous! Obviously, many people thought this was legit. I know that fact isn't lost on you, but why present just facts when you can spin it up to incite anger and division? From your article, and your comments to me, it seems that's the only way you write. I wonder if you're this thorny in person?

Wilkins was suspected of lying under oath, to avoid prosecution, a felony. It doesn't matter what the original violation was. Will the commenters stop saying this was because of a speeding ticket, please?

I tried some other funny names, but they were taken already. I guess your readership likes funny names too. How awkward for you in light of your last comment to me. Internet bravery, lol. Oxymoronic much?

Good bye,

Fred

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

@rscottmoxley

Not that I agree with much of anything "Fred" has had to say, but as a lady I appreciate the "meow" instead of calling him a "pussy". Made me laugh. :-)

I hope you will accept compliments from a lady using a pseudonym. ;-) Purrr

rscottmoxley
rscottmoxley topcommenter

@Flinstone Hi again, Fred "Flintstone." I stand by two essential points: (1) You are a coward for barking like a tough guy while hiding behind a fake name and (2) Your points about my coverage are devoid of content. Notice, also, please dear Mr. Flintstone, that I expose police/government abuse while using my real name. You guess/hope/rant against a relatively powerless journalist from the shadows. What does that say about you? Exactly.... Meow.

jcwconsult
jcwconsult

@burto51 @jcwconsult   Judge Jones found the officer was wrong and Mr. Wilkinson was correct in the first trial.  After the appeals, the federal courts also agreed. The double-jeopardy pursuit in between, likely motivated by revenge on the part of the officer at the loss in court, was totally improper.  I trust the federal court's review to be unbiased and proving the officer was absolutely wrong to pursue the case further.


James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

@18usc241  

Too true. And it's messed up that in too many cases the worst punishment bestowed upon a bad cop is being shamed repeatedly in the public forum...but better than nothing? :-(

"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

Well it turns out that when the victim of "bad cops" finally stands up for himself by lambasting their behinds at the podiums of the Garden Grove and Anaheim city council , on YouTube , Twitter here and other blog /websites the criminal cop cowards run for the hills. Like cowardly school yard bullies except with Depends undergarments.

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