Episode 8: Big Changes To Search & Seizure 

Podcast Transcript Of Virginia Beach Criminal Defense Attorneys Taite Westendorf & Bassel Khalaf Discussing Big Changes To When The Police Can Stop & Search Your Car Highlighting Changes To Marijuana Odor Searches

Bassel Khalaf:
Welcome to WK Pod, home with the never ending podstable where we discuss legal issues. Some of our guests are attorneys, some are not. Do not take anything on this podcast as legal advice. If you have questions about a legal issue, get your own attorney. Peace!

Bassel Khalaf:
Yo, it's Bassel, WK Pod. We're talking about the craziest law that's being passed. It looks like it's going to the governor's desk pretty soon. Governor Northam, we think you should sign it for the most part. There's a couple things in it that I think are pretty fucking weird. But I guess we'll address that in a moment. This is the law about pulling over vehicles. I'm looking at it right now. Senate Bill 5029. It doesn't have a cool title, it probably could have benefited from something dope. But the very quick version is that the cops used to be able to pull people over for a bunch of shit like tints, brake lights that aren't doing stuff that they're supposed to do, and lights on license plates. But dumb stuff that nobody cares about, that police used to use as justification to pull people over. Sometimes they would uncover ghastly crimes where there are multiple orphans found slaughtered and dismembered in the trunk. But that typically doesn't happen. Usually, Taite's going to talk about the statistics. Usually it results in disproportionately black people getting pulled over. What you think about that? 

Taite Westendorf:
Oh shit son. If you can't tell, we both had our teeth pulled earlier in the day. And we're both on heavy sedatives. But nonetheless, for our audience, we've pushed ahead with the podcast. Yeah, so this is a pretty big deal this bill. And I realized it was a pretty big deal... We did a silly Facebook post recently where we bought a cameo with Redman in it. And Redman was talking about how we're the shit on weed charges. And if you got weed charges, you got to go with Westendorf and Khalaf, and they'll get them dropped. And we had a couple knuckleheads who were commenting, more than a couple on our Facebook comments, and we're talking about well, now weed has been decriminalized. So now you don't got to worry about it. Police can search your car based on odor of weed. And we tried to check them and tell them now that is still very much a thing. Law enforcement can search your car based on odor of marijuana, and they didn't want to hear it, but they can fuck faces, they can. But there is a bill out there that seeks to correct that issue. And that is the one that Bassel referenced. I'm slurring my words which doesn't even make sense because I'm not intoxicated, I haven't even been drinking.

Bassel Khalaf:
I can vouch. You seem pretty normal to me. Maybe you went in the bathroom.

Taite Westendorf:
Oh, man. So we did a little crack. It's our first time on crack. So forgive us. But yeah, SB 5029. This bill is basically an attempt to ban what are called pretextual traffic stops. So what the fuck is pretextual you ask? Well, that's a good question, hypothetical fuckface. And I'm going to answer it for you. So a pretextual stop means the police don't really give a shit whether you've got something dangling for from your mirror, or you got a license plate light that's extinguished, or your high top brake light isn't functioning properly, they just want to pull you over because they want to get in your car. Probably, there's at least multiple times a month we get a call from somebody, and almost instantaneously, I'm able to tell them let me guess it was a traffic stop. You got pulled, the officer said he smelled weed. They got into the car and they found some bad shit in there, whether it's a gun or coke or molly or was orphans, yes, dead bodies, etc. And almost invariably the people say yep, you hit the nail right on the head. And then I say, well, what was the reason they pulled you over for in the first place. And it's usually bullshit. One of my two brake lights was half out, or I've got two license plate lights and one was extinguished, or whatever the case may be. And so why should we care about this? That's a that's a good starting point. Why should we give a shit that the police are pulling people over for things like scented leaves hanging from the rearview mirror, or a license plate light being out, or a third high top brake light being out. And I think the reason that we should care is and I'd like to consider myself a rationalist. So I like to look at data. Hard data that supports any sort of viewpoint that I express. I would encourage people to look up Stanford traffic stop study because that's the most authoritative one that I'm aware of. It was a study where researchers had poured through and did statistical analysis on hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of traffic stops in hundreds of different cities. 

Bassel Khalaf:
But before you get any further, hard data sounds like a great name for a robot porn. Anyway, continue.

Taite Westendorf:
If you're going to get some hard data, you got to get some of that viagra first. I got distracted. Hard data, back to hard data. The hard data shows that people who are black are more likely to be pulled over than white people. Surprise, surprise. I think most people intuitively would know that's true. But there is actually statistical data that supports it too. And the statistical data in that study showed, there's a lot of variability from different cities, some are worse than others. But countrywide, you're about 20% more likely to be pulled over if you're black. Not surprising. And then once you're pulled over, what that study showed is that you're about twice as likely to actually have your vehicle searched. And so this bill, I think, would appropriately be framed as sort of a racial justice bill. It's trying to equalize things out. Because black people are disproportionately and there's no question about it. The data supports it. I can tell you, I've been in the courtrooms damn near every day for 15 years. So I can tell you anecdotally, it supports it. Local data supports it. Black people are way likelier to be charged with possession of marijuana, at least before it was decriminalized. They're way more likely to be charged with disorderly conduct. That was an article that was in the Daily Progress. And as public defenders in Virginia Beach for a long time, it was about 50% of our clients, a little bit more than 50% were black people and they're about 20% of the population in the city. So that tells you a lot. It's disproportionate. That's an important word. 

Bassel Khalaf:
The key takeaway is get woke. 

Taite Westendorf:
Yeah, get woke motherfucker. I hate the word woke. This is just facts. I'm spitting facts at you.

Bassel Khalaf:
The real.

Taite Westendorf:
Yeah, I don't get down with that woke game. I don't get woke for the sake of getting woke. I like to form my opinions based on facts. So these are facts. So anyway, black people are far likelier to be pulled over and far likelier to have their vehicle searched. And so then I guess the next question is, well, why the fuck should I care about that? Well, as freedom and liberty loving Westendorf and Khalaf listeners, you should care about it. It's a big fucking deal. It's a central part of being an American. Right? The police shouldn't be able to harass you, they shouldn't be able to detain you without a damn good reason to do it. 

Bassel Khalaf:
Well, just because I know you lean left. I guess so police pull people over all the time for all kinds of stuff. Now we have a law that's trying to narrow why you can pull people over and I guess the schools of thought would be a government should stay out of my business. That's the whole point of a Constitution that gives us all these rights and stuff. But then there's another school of thought, which maybe i'd agree with, maybe I don't I  don't tell anybody. But this idea that you know, well, if the police can get all up in your business, then maybe we can prevent a bunch of crimes. But it's odd because that seems to be coming from the same segment of the population that likes to talk about small government and stuff like that. But you know, then it becomes support the police all the time, no matter what and we love police. And I don't I like the police as an idea. I've probably said before I'm anti defund the police but when you start talking about governmental overstepping. Who's the government? It's actually the police, that's the arm of the government that is the the muscular arm of the government that can put you in a headlock if they want to. So yeah, I mean, I guess there's gonna be a back and forth you know, now it's the democrats in power and they've taken away officers abilities to pull people over for XYZ. Are they going to when Northam comes through with that yeet on the signature line? But anyways, I mean, I guess that breaking it down, there's good arguments on both sides, and I think Taite and I you know, we read the law right before we came on, and both of us. I don't wanna speak for Taite. But our eyebrows were sort of raised at certain parts of it. So as woke or rational or whatever as either of us might be. This law is definitely liberal steroids into the legislation of Virginia. And I think some of it....I don't want to say cringy, but some of it, I think is a little maybe going too far. 

Taite Westendorf:
Yeah, well, there's a lot to unpack with what you just said. There's actually an excellent Virginian-Pilot article on this bill which I would encourage people to read. There's a lot of Virginian-Pilot content that's trash. This one was pretty well written. They used as the proxies for supporting the bill, a Hampton defense attorney, and the anti-bill proxy was a York County police chief. And so one of the arguments made by the York County police chief in that article was similar to what Bassel was just saying, which is, Hey, us pulling people over for shit like this is a legitimate crime fighting tool. And as I was reading that it made me think of a book I had recently read. Malcolm Gladwell's latest book. And Malcolm Gladwell. He's a fun guy to read. He's sort of like a pop culture, psychology, sociology, economics guy, and he catches some shit for not being a hard scientist. 

Bassel Khalaf:
But he does the like 50 shades fanfiction?

Taite Westendorf:
I'm not aware of that component of it. The one that I'm talking about is the book was, what the fuck is it? It's about people having difficulty communicating with one another. And the name of the book has already escaped me, but it's his most recent one. And one of the chapters is devoted to exactly these pretextual traffic stops and how they might legitimately be used as a crime fighting tactic, but they can spiral out of control. And the specific example he uses is from Kansas City. Murder, homicides, violent crime, were out of control, and they tried several different tactics among multiple police chiefs and nothing seemed to be working. And so then they tried, alright, well, let's identify the highest crime areas of our city and just pull over everybody we can pull over. And the intent is we don't obviously give a fuck about the reason that we're pulling them over. We want to get in the car, we want to get guns. And it was successful. The studies showed that violent crime went way down in Kansas City. And it caught the attention of police departments all over the country. And so there have been hundreds of police departments all over the place that have tried to duplicate the success of that experiment. And what Gladwell said was, well, that might be well and good. But you have to have this coupling with super high crime areas. If you just start pulling over everybody, all over the city, you're just depriving people of their freedoms, and you're not really accomplishing what you set out to accomplish. So that was kind of long winded. But the idea is okay, so is it a legitimate crime fighting technique? Let's say that in Virginia Beach, you can identify a handful of neighborhoods where there's disproportionate violent crime. And so is it justifiable? Under those circumstances, can we sort of sacrifice the Fourth Amendment rights of people that live in those areas for the bigger purpose goal of taking guns, fighting violent crime, etc? And that's a really difficult question to answer. But I tend to lean toward, I find it very fucked up this concept of, Okay, I live in a less desirable area of the city. And so therefore, my Fourth Amendment rights mean less than another person's. Not to mention the fact that people in these areas who are disproportionately targeted, they're pulled over because they just happen to live in a quote unquote, high crime area. They're pulled over because of the color of their skin. Needless to say, those people start to resent the police start and to hate the police. And I think that's a big reason that we've had this sort of counter explosion in the wake of George Floyd with people taking the street because they're fucking sick and goddamn tired of being targeted by the police. Does that make sense? 

Bassel Khalaf:
It makes sense to me. The stats don't lie. At some point, people have to sort of acknowledge that this is a thing. Everybody needs to agree. And I guess this bill is a step towards trying to reconcile society's sins with what the law actually is and how it should be applied fairly. I think I've said in previous pod episodes, some of my sweet ideas, which are also super awesome and dope, and one of them was when people get pulled over, the officer should be saying why, and articulate and all that stuff over the radio. And just like I stopped a person, and here's the reason and all that type of stuff. We deal with a lot of cases where justifications come up way after the fact. And you know, facts get blurred and stuff sucks. And nobody likes the police after that happens.But overall, I mean, some of this stuff in this specific bill, I think are...

Taite Westendorf:
Yeah, we probably should have started with that. We're disorganized asshats. 

Bassel Khalaf:
Well, alright, so Taite went into, I don't know, some old ancient history and some stuff and black people are treated unfairly, which is true. So I think that's a good starting point. But if we look at the actual law, we can sort of extrapolate from the law what the intention is and why it came to the point where we needed a law on this. Under what's currently Senate Bill 5029 sent off to the homie Ralph Northam governor's desk. It says law enforcement officers cannot stop a motor vehicle for a number of things. One of them that I like in this bill is that you can't stop a vehicle for certain objects suspended in the vehicle. 

Taite Westendorf:
In other words, shit dangling from your rearview mirror whether that's a parking pass or  a scented fucking leaf, whatever. 

Bassel Khalaf:
We did a whole blog post on this and some of you might not know this, so now's the time to know this. But until this bill gets signed into law, if you have one of those tree air fresheners, you can get pulled over just for that. And the reason that's stupid is because the Court of Appeals made a ruling on the issue that is I don't want to say stupid, but it's not not stupid. So I'll say that much. Anyways, it's the..

Taite Westendorf:
Humphreys was on the right side of that. 

Bassel Khalaf:
Well, yeah, Humphreys is my man. Fist bump over the airwaves. You're listening to us Humphreys. Don't front you dirty dog. So if you have one of those air fresheners that are dangling from your rear view mirror, you can get pulled. And the justification is stupid. It's because it's a view obstruction. And it's not. Has anybody ever had a dangling air freshener where they're driving, and it's like, I can't see the road. 

Taite Westendorf:
That's the shit that drives me crazy. Yeah, let's have an honest conversation. Let's not bullshit. I know it's not a view obstruction and the police sure as fuck don't care about it being a view obstruction even if it was which it isn't. 

Bassel Khalaf:
The only scenario that I've thought of is if there's like a meteor coming for your car, and it's right in the field of vision of between you and the meteor is a tree air freshener. And you otherwise might have steered your car away from it, but that's not a thing. And I'd say that to illustrate the stupidity of it's a view obstruction. And an officer doesn't even really have to come in and say at this point based on the case like they don't really have to come in and say that it was I reasonably thought that it obstructed the person's view in violation of whatever the code section is 46.2-1054. Look at me, Good Will Hunting. I just looked at my computer, anyway.

Taite Westendorf:
I do think it's useful though because we for some reason I didn't start with this. I mean here is breaking down the bill. They specifically identify certain reasons for pulling people over that exist now that according to this bill would be eliminated. You couldn't pull people over because of their tint. The tints too dark, that's not a primary reason to pull somebody over anymore if this bill passes. You can't pull somebody over for what we just said, shit hanging from their rearview mirror. Brake Light being out. You can't pull somebody over for having a license plate light out. Any criminal defense attorney will tell you, these are often times, they're probably the majority of the time, the reason that people get pulled over, and then you find shit in their car. And so I've talked about this a little bit in blog posts that we've done, because among the general public, you might say, well, who really gives a shit. If we found two kilos of coke, or an illegal gun in the car, who gives a shit if the reason for initially pulling the person over was a little bit flimsy. And the reason you should be concerned is, for every one of those people where there's something super illegal found in their car, there's probably bare minimum, a dozen 100% innocent people. And those people are getting pulled out of their car. They're having their car searched. And that's a problem. 

Bassel Khalaf:
Sorry, let me jump in real quick because I brainfarted it earlier, I was talking about my sweet ass ideas. And they weren't sweet when I said them out loud. Now remembering what I said was, an officer should have to what I was trying to say was an officer should have to report to dispatch if the officer is going to be like, Alright, I smell the odor of marijuana and I want to search the car as a result, then report that before you search so that there are some stats about how many times have you smelled marijuana and then found it or not found it. Because really an officer until this bill get signed, can just say I smell the odor of marijuana. And we've had a lot of cases where that's the basis and then they go in the car and there's no marijuana, but they find other stuff. And then it gets upheld because the courts say well smelled like marijuana. Even if you didn't find weed, maybe somebody smoked in there, and you're good. There needs to be some mechanism. And again, this bill it's well intentioned. Sorry, did I cut you off from saying something important....

Taite Westendorf:
No, no, no, not at all. I was gonna talk about because one thing we hadn't even mentioned yet, well, maybe tangentially we had is that the bill also says you can't search a car anymore based on odor of marijuana, not just a car, you can't search a house, you can't search anything based on odor of marijuana alone anymore. We should have led with that.

Bassel Khalaf:
I hate us. Yeah, so the bill...

Taite Westendorf:
It's a a dense bill. There's a lot of shit in this bill. Really dense.

Bassel Khalaf:
It's probably going to hurt our bottom line to be honest because there's a lot of crimes that you know, somebody's gonna need a lawyer to defend against that aren't going to be uncovered. But at the same time, if you really think that people should be free to go about their business and be left alone, this bill is a step in the right direction. As woke as we might be sometimes though, there are parts of this bill that I think are a little weird. And one of them is no law enforcement officer may lawfully stop a vehicle for operating with defective and unsafe equipment. So unsafe equipment sounds pretty broad. So if I'm an officer, and I see a car with unsafe equipment, and I say that is super unsafe, my hands are tied. Yeah, I don't know about that. You know, like Taite said, there are scenarios where people get pulled over for like brake light issues, or the license plate light wasn't illuminating properly. And those are stupid. And you know, those are just excuses for an officer to cause an interaction for no reason other than to, you know, snoop around, which is not what the government should be doing in my opinion, but that's me. So, anyways, though, the unsafe equipment one that's it's odd language to me, but I don't know, what do you think?

Taite Westendorf:
The part about that I didn't really get is that the proposed bill has all these super specific examples of things that you can't pull people over for. And then it has the catch all that just says you can't pull people over for defective equipment, which I don't really get it. We've got the Senate Bill, because it just to me, it's confusing. I mean, you can't pull people over for any form of defective equipment? That so ambiguous to me that it's going to create a lot of confusion at future suppression hearings and things like that. We have the senate version of the bill in front of us, which says it's identical to the house bill, which I haven't read, but one of the things that got brought up in the Pilot article with the sponsor of the House Bill was one of the things that said you couldn't pull people over for having their headlights out. Now that's fucking stupid. People having their headlights out. That is dangerous. I mean, if it's a legitimate public safety issue then yeah, absolutely the police should be able to pull you over because the police are here to protect, right?

Bassel Khalaf:
Yeah if there's a legitimate public safety issue they should be able to intervene and I don't think an officers gonna say oh, you're white and your headlights are out, I'll let it slide or you're black haha it's game on. So yeah, you're right, I don't agree with that one either. So it is weird. No headlights on and the officer...What does he do? Does he get to can at least get on a megaphone and be like, dude, turn on your lights. 

Taite Westendorf:
And so another thing that was brought up by that York County police chief in the article was at least the quotes that were attributed to him, which I've been quoted in some newspaper articles. And I barely recognize what I said. So homie, if you said something different, jah feel. But anyway, what is attributed to him is he said, Well, these crazy lefties, not only are they anti-police, but they're anti public safety. And one of the examples he gave was, if we smell weed in the car, that could be a person that's impaired. That argument didn't really fly with me, because all right, so with your typical DUI case, clearly, there's a public interest in preventing people from driving when they F-d up, whether that's on alcohol, weed, or whatever the case may be. But in your typical DUI, you smell alcohol, the officer doesn't just start with, Hey, get out of the car. Now let me search the whole fucking thing. They put you through the battery of field sobriety tests, they try to make a determination of whether you're impaired, there's nothing to prevent them from doing that in the marijuana context based on this bill. If they smell weed, they think you might be driving impaired, get the person out of the car, do field tests, see if they might be impaired? What reason do you have to actually search the vehicle and search the passenger compartment and search the trunk? I don't get that argument.

Bassel Khalaf:
Yeah, I'm scanning the bill right now and trying to find it. But if you get unlawfully stopped basically in violation of this bill, and then you consent to the search.

Taite Westendorf:
It still gets suppressed. It's the last sentence.

Bassel Khalaf:
Yeah. Just going back to the basics on a Fourth Amendment issue. The Fourth Amendment says that you're supposed to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures in the general context, as it is now, if you get stopped unreasonably. And the officer acted in bad faith, then the evidence gets suppressed from trial. It's called the exclusionary rule. It's basically the the court kind of made it up but I'm glad they did. Because there would be zero teeth to enforcing it. 

Taite Westendorf:
Should we spend like three seconds to say what the exclusionary rule is? 

Bassel Khalaf:
The  exclusionary rule is that it will be excluded from trial because basically, the government overstepped its boundaries. There are some weird sort of contrived scenarios where the government F's up but then at the same time, it's like, Ah, that was cute. You just didn't know what you were doing sort of thing.

Taite Westendorf: 
Can I jump on that for a second?

Bassel Khalaf:
You don't think is cute?

Taite Westendorf:
No it's definitely not fucking cute. It's not bunny cute. That's fucking bullshit. Alright, so the exclusionary rule basically means this. So if there's going to be any teeth to your Fourth Amendment rights, there's got to be an incentive for the police to observe your rights or maybe disincentive is more the way to put it. A disincentive to violating your rights. So let's say the police look at you and they say, Oh, well, there's a black fellow in a Lexus. And that's super suspicious, and I don't like it, and I'm gonna pull them over. And they pull them over and it's super illegal, and it violates that person's Constitutional rights. Anything that police officer might find after that illegal stop is not admissible in a courtroom. If there was no valid basis for stopping that person in the first place. It doesn't matter if they find 20 kilos of coke and 20 AK 47s in the car, none of that can be used against a person in a courtroom. So that's the purpose of the exclusionary rule is to discourage police officers from violating people's rights.

Bassel Khalaf:
That's an interesting thought experiment, let's say some serial killer gets pulled over for a doo doo reason, and the serial killer has like 20 bodies in the car. And everybody has to just acknowledge that the stop was legitimate. And the only way this person would have got caught was via that stop. Defense attorney gets up and says, Well, yeah, he murdered like 20 people and all the body parts are in the car, but he shouldn't have been stopped in the first place. 

Taite Westendorf: 
That's a favorite example of people that hate the Fourth Amendment and want to live in an authoritarian state. 

Bassel Khalaf:
Not me. 

Taite Westendorf:
No, no, not Bassel. For illustrative purposes. In fact, the York County Sheriff in the Pilot article brought up that very hypothetical. Oh, dead bodies in the trunk. I don't think there's literally a single example of dead bodies in the trunk being suppressed and the serial murderer being set free. It's not a thing. 

Bassel Khalaf:
So it's just weird because the judges, Judge Frucci uses a phrase that I love mental gymnastics, and I would love...

Taite Westendorf:
Some of that Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles shit.

Bassel Khalaf:
But yeah, mental gymnastics. He uses it to say well, you're making me engage in mental gymnastics and it's like Alright, well I get your point. Maybe there's a logical way to get there but I really have to bend space time to get there. Anyways, the courts on something like the serial killer example. I mean, they are pretty good at, I'm trying to think of some funny gymnastics term, but they land the super flip mount dismount, stupid flip thing.

Taite Westendorf:
I'm pretty sure that was a very technical term.

Bassel Khalaf: 
Yeah.

Taite Westendorf: 
Mary Lou Retton was the first to get a perfect 10 on that particular event. 

Bassel Khalaf:
Exactly. And she also had dead bodies. What a freak anyway, so yeah, it's weird. It's just one of those things. Just get as extreme as you want. Osama bin Laden gets caught and, so sorry, half Middle Eastern. (mimicking accent)

Taite Westendorf:
He's half Latin, half Middle Eastern apparently.

Bassel Khalaf:
Sorry for the butchering of what his accent would have been. Before he was shot many times, I imagine.

Taite Westendorf:
Anyway unfortunately the SEAL Team Six that was responsible for killing him was assassinated pet tweets by Donald Trump. Retweets.

Bassel Khalaf:
What did he say?

Taite Westendorf:
He said that Biden ordered some of the people responsible for killing Bin Ladin to be killed. He was retweeting shit that said that the Bin Laden killing was a hoax, and that members of the SEAL team that were involved in the hoax were murdered by the Obama Biden administration.

Bassel Khalaf:
Is it? Is it true though?

Taite Westendorf:
No, it's not true. No, it's not. It's not true. It's bullshit. Like most of the shit that comes out of his mouth.

Bassel Khalaf:
I will tell my Q-Anon friends that some of the things he says is bullshit, shocking. Anyway, so back to the bill, Senate Bill 5029 we're talking about traffic stops and bullshit. I think Taite went over this primary offense, secondary offense stuff, if you're a police officer, you're kind of like, oh, you're cutting my legs out from under me. You won't let me do my job and just wait till somebody ends up dead then you'll be super sad and all that type of stuff. And honestly, the same segment of the population that talks about that, whatever those who would sacrifice freedom and liberty and blah, blah, blah, whatever deserve neither and whatever, whatever the quote is, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. And I don't know it off top my head, but those same people...

Taite Westendorf:
The Ben Franklin quote.

Bassel Khalaf:
I don't even know who that is.

Taite Westendorf:
He had a fucking kite. Everybody knows about his kite. 

Bassel Khalaf:
His kite, what did his kite do? 

Taite Westendorf:
He had a key on the kite. And the electricity. 

Bassel Khalaf:
I don't know what electricity is either. Anyway, so yeah, just it's a weird thing because it's a it's a radical change in the law in my opinion. So we see is Malcolm Gladwell, the guy who wrote Black Swan.

Taite Westendorf:
Black Swan. Yeah, he was. Initially, I was like the Natalie Portman movie? But you're talking about something different. Which is a great movie by the way.

Bassel Khalaf:
I prefer to talk about Natalie Portman. Anyways, but Black Swan is one of the few books I've read. I hate reading books. I do read a lot, but it's usually stuff that's...

Taite Westendorf:
Talking to Strangers is the name of the book that I forgot earlier. By the way. 

Bassel Khalaf:
Nobody cares at this point. It's a black swan. It was like there's Black Swan events that basically just change the course of everything. So you can have a model projecting x, y, z, but a 911 Type event that changes so much stuff. This probably shouldn't invoke 911 to talk about Senate Bill 5029. But I will say that this is a big deal. It's a game changer introduced by Senator Louise Lucas, who has very good intentions...

Taite Westendorf:
And felonious graffitier, allegedly.

Bassel Khalaf:
I hadn't heard about that. What happened?

Taite Westendorf:
Oh, my. I'm just not sure. I haven't heard much about that scenario. It's something about Portsmouth and statues. But other than that, I don't really know. Maybe we shouldn't comment on that. 

Bassel Khalaf:
Was it a pretty statue? So yeah, just, it's a big deal. And everybody's kind of affected by it in either a good way or bad way, depending on what you think. And if I'm a police officer, like, Am I really upset like, Oh, I don't get to stop people for minimal reason for you know, trivial stuff. Some of the other stuff in here, just so we can go through it because our little baby in the cradle is Senate Bill 5029. And we need to treat Senate Bill 5029 with a proper respect. But the police can't stop you for license plate lights, defective or unsafe equipment, brake lights, or a high mount stop late exhaust system that prevents excessive or unusual levels of noise. I was saying I was on the road a couple days ago, and some asshole in a truck was just hitting the gas and plumes of black smoke were coming out. And this guy was just noxious as fuck. And my thought was, I hope he gets pulled over and beaten to death. But thanks, Louise Lucas. Now that's not a thing. And then there's a certain sun shading materials and tinting films. I like that one. The tint thing has always been weird to me. I get that there's maybe a public policy, it would be nice if we can see inside your car to see who's driving but like, what scenario are you really trying to prevent? Is this drive bys where otherwise you could have been seen on the traffic cam? It's very contrived to think that we need you to not have tints. In fact, if you want to talk, you got pulled over because you're black or white, or green or whatever. Tint is kind of the great equalizer. So maybe everybody should have ultra tint and that would solve all the problems. 

Taite Westendorf:
It's interesting that you bring that up because the the Stanford study that I was mentioning earlier, one of the clever things they did to try to control was they looked at traffic stops before sunset and after sunset, because presumably, when it's dark out, obviously, you'd have a more difficult time determining the race of the driver. So that was actually one of the tools that they used. And they found that when it was dark, the racial discrepancies went down significantly. So that's to your point, maybe we all ought to have tint.

Bassel Khalaf:
Yeah, let's hit other stuff. Yeah, certain objects suspended in the vehicle, which I said I like because that includes air fresheners and stupid stuff and the Court of Appeals needs to suck it on that one cuz y'all done fucked up to be honest. Not sure how you sleep at night talking about my tree air freshener obstructs my vision and trying to keep a straight face while saying it. Yo you better hold me back. I'm about to eat this mic. I'm sorry. I apologize. I love you. Anyways, Alright, so what else we got here in the bill? Alright, so here's another part of the bill. That's interesting. And again, this is a part that I kind of disagree with. The bill prohibits a law enforcement officer from stopping a pedestrian for jaywalking, or entering a highway where the pedestrian cannot be seen. So I don't get that I stumble out into the road. I get that there's maybe an independent basis for stopping and seizing me if I look like I'm drunk in public but pedestrian for jaywalking are entering a highway where the pedestrian cannot be seen. Again, public safety maybe that should rule the day because how many I've never had a case where the officer is just like look, I saw him jaywalking and also he was entering the highway where the pedestrian cannot be seen and it turned into a case like this.

Taite Westendorf:
I have a feeling. It feels like somebody that wrote this bill might have had a very specific specific experience. Like I said, in a decade and a half plus of doing this I I can't remember a single case that started with a jaywalker. So I'm not too concerned about jaywalking.

Bassel Khalaf:
The other one was expired safety inspection. Did you talk about this already?

Taite Westendorf:
Oh, yeah, that was one that we glossed over. So expired inspection stickers. Part of it is you're, in order to support pulling somebody over based purely on the inspection sticker, it would have to be more than three months past due.

Bassel Khalaf:
Which I think is a good law cuz I mean, all of us have been in the scenario where it's like, oh shit, I gotta get my thing updated. You know, I saw it come in, but as people do, they tend to put things off to the last minute. And really safety inspections? I get that they're a thing that needs to exist. But you know what, your car's not going to catch fire because you're two months overdue on your safety inspection. So quit playin, let's not use that as a reason to pull people over.

Taite Westendorf:
Can I say something real quick? I just gotta get it off my chest. So I'm responsible, I drive the speed limit. Bassel says I drive like grandma. And even me, I've gotten pulled over from time to time over the past 10 years. Two of the times I was pulled over was purely for expired inspection sticker by the same officer in the same general area of Virginia Beach. And I don't want to say his name, but you're a douchebag and it was pretty fucking sweet when I was able to smoke your ass two separate occasions on other bullshit charges you brought against other people. With your shiny boots, and your stupid fucking face, and you're fucking dumb ass mustache.

Bassel Khalaf:
Stupid ashy elbows and stupid fingernails not clipped and I hate you. I'm not vouching for that. Because you might be nice. I'm a lover. Unlike Taite, who's a hater. I'm glad that you kept Taite from disregarding the laws of the Commonwealth like the dirty freak he is.

Taite Westendorf:
Based on my two days overdue inspection sticker.

Bassel Khalaf:
But yeah, I guess most traffic stops are now going to be for speeding. That's a big one. So yeah, here's a good topic. I probably should wrap this up. We're at 42 minutes on it. Alright, so what are the possible consequences of this bill? To me, the police, just like anybody you want to justify your existence. And if you can't stop people this way, you want to stop people that away. And there's two ways that I could see just off top my head that police might start beefing up these other avenues. One is DUI checkpoints. DUI checkpoints are a weird thing. But they're legal. They shouldn't be in my opinion, I think they're stupid. And in fact, Louise Lucas, you should have put DUI checkpoints in here and then taken out maybe the no headlights part. But DUI checkpoints. It's basically if you've got a uniform policy in place in advance, either you're pulling over every car or every third car or every 20th car, then it's okay to stop people for no reason other than we're checking for DUIs. And if you can't stop people for all these other reasons, and that might be a good way to stop people. The other thing would be if speeding is still on the table, which it is then having a whole bunch of these people on the freeway just stopping speeders. I don't think anybody sees like a state trooper doing radar stuff and says, Oh, I'm so glad you're here. Like everybody hates them. I would hate that job. You might as well be a parking meter maid person. Is meter maid not woke? A meter man?

Taite Westendorf:
They said it in Zootopia.

Bassel Khalaf:
Which is exactly why I said meter maid was Zootopia. Zootopia is a pretty cool movie. It's got layers to it, very nuanced. Anyway, so yeah, I can see more DUI checkpoints come in. I can see more radar detection type stuff. I can't imagine the lucky lady who's at home and you know, Mr. State Trooper comes in, tell me about your day, honey, I was pulling people over for speeding. And, you know, I gave every one of them a ticket those dirty, dirty dogs. And then she says you're the dirty dog. You know where it goes from there. And then they watch Zootopia. Anyways, any other thoughts on this matter?

Taite Westendorf:
I know we're trying to wrap it up. And maybe I'm just ripping shit wide back open. But let's say again, let me refocus it on let's say you've got some specific neighborhood where all of the police data shows. It's super high crime. It's super high violence. This is one of the worst neighborhoods in our city for shootings and for homicides and for drug dealing, or whatever the case may be. So the police in a neighborhood like that the argument might be they've got a legitimate reason to be more aggressive in their policing techniques. So if you take away stopping people on these pretextual stops, then the obvious question becomes what policing technique is available to them? WHat is that if anything? Got any good any ideas Mr. Criminology? 

Bassel Khalaf:
IDK, LOL. It's gonna be interesting when this gets passed, I do think that a lot of things will happen and a lot of things will change, and the police are gonna have to figure things out. And I do sympathize with some of the police because a lot of them are nice human beings and do their job well. But some of them are assholes who like to just stomp on people's rights, and they think that they're, I bet you if they go home, they say they're small government people, but you are the government. Stop stepping on people's rights.

Taite Westendorf:
Is there any bigger form of government than having a gun on your hip, lights flashing on top of your car, depriving a person of their right to go about their business? What I would say, to me, it's a big deal. I mean, this is coming from a white dude, you know, and I'm cognizant of the fact that I'm not scrutinized anywhere close to the same as black people. And the reason I know this is...

Bassel Khalaf:
Or Bassel. 

Taite Westendorf:
Yeah, or Bassel, who's got darker skin tone than me for sure. You know, I think it's important to empathize with people that aren't you. That's a fucking important thing. And, you know, I've talked to people. You'd have a hard time finding a single black person, no matter how accomplished, no matter if they're a professional, a business owner, no matter how intelligent that doesn't have a horror story to tell you where the police decided that they needed to be scrutinized because of the color of their skin.

Bassel Khalaf:
And I'm not going to get into it, but my sort of criminal defense origin story involves what I would say was a pretty bad traffic stop where I was threatened many times and I'm a chill dude and dead sober and it didn't go well for me. And I do feel was one of the one moments where I was like, Damn, it's because I'm not white, this sucks. Anyways, I'm gonna save that for another podcast. But it's a thing and it's one of those things I came from. I'm from Hawaii for the most part and come into Virginia. You kind of have some preconceived notions that maybe there's racism afoot in various places. I went to law school in Lexington, Virginia, where racism is definitely afoot.

Taite Westendorf:
Can I talk about Lexington just for like a minute?

Bassel Khalaf:
Are you gonna hype Foam Henge? 

Taite Westendorf:
Foam Henge is no longer in Lexington. 

Bassel Khalaf:
I don't think it's in Lexington, it's slightly outside.

Taite Westendorf:
No it's gone. They totally moved it.

Bassel Khalaf: 
What! Give Lexington the plug.

Taite Westendorf:
I've gone to Lexington twice with my family on little trips. Dinosaur Kingdom II if you ever happen to be there. It's fucking ridiculous. Dinosaur kingdom, the basic premise is that the Civil War awakened dinosaurs and the Union was able to enlist dinosaurs into their cause and they rode around on dinosaurs killing the Confederacy. 

Bassel Khalaf:
How much money do you think was put into this project?

Taite Westendorf:
Based on the quality of the statues that are there, I'd say it was probably at least $100,000. The the idea that this guy had this vision and this imagination and this commitment to fulfilling it. I really respect it and it was hilarious. I had such a good time there and my kids did too.

Bassel Khalaf:
Sweet. I liked Lexington for the most part. The police when I think I had earlier said something about people justifying their existence, the Lexington Police Department. I mean, they had all kinds of equipment and stuff where you might think that you know, ISIS is about to invade or something crazy, but you know, they arrested a lot of people for stuff like drunk in public. They would patrol the two bars and anybody who looks like they're walking home safely is going to get stopped if they got a little wiggle in their walk and I found that to be pretty ridiculous because you're pretty much better off driving home if you're intoxicated. Anyways. That's a shout out to Lexington PD and their fascism. Yeah, anyways, um, but besides that, shoot, I think we've beaten the topic to death. As for Senate Bill 5029, I hope it gets passed. If I was part of the deliberations which I'll never be part of deliberations like these, I would have said hey, let's not be this woke. This is a little too woke for my liking but Senator Louise Lucas apparently has taken the reins on a topic that affects many people and like Taite said, I mean, there's not a single human being out there who can say, Hey, I really don't think this is an issue. Because everybody's statistics show that it is an issue and if you want to bury your head in the sand then eat a bag of things. 

Taite Westendorf:
Dongs. Dong Johnsons. 

Bassel Khalaf:
Hey, just finishing this up. We're at 50 minutes. We're wrapping it up. Now I wanted to give a shout out to Derrick Jones. He does a lot of our cover art for our pod stuff. He's a graphic designer, he is one of the sickest drummers on Earth. I mean, this guy, he's very humble too. So he wouldn't admit it. But I used to play in bands with him and I always felt very inadequate and insecure about myself as a fake ass musician because I go and I play a chord and he would just rip and I'd be like, man, maybe I shouldn't be in this room with you. But he does our cover art. His last one, our guns episode was a based off of a band called The Vandals and their album Peace Through Vandalism. It's not a great album, to be honest, but they have this iconic V with a gun. So he made a W&K with a gun across the front and I thought it was pretty. And then he's done other ones based on Rancid's album Out Come The Wolves. So we're kind of getting this thing going where our cover art has this punk rock album cover theme. And I grew up listening to punk, playing in punk bands, and I love punk. In fact, I got my guitar right here and I'm about to play some punk as soon as I get off this. Anyway, Derrick Jones gets a shout out. Anything else before we sign off? 

Taite Westendorf:
Well you made yourself sound mighty cool right there. My experience has been that you mostly listen to Weird Al and Raffi. 

Bassel Khalaf:
True and Nickelback. But yeah, I do listen to Weird Al and Raffi, but I'm not ashamed. Guess what? That's punkest of all is if you can listen to Weird Al and Raffi and tell everybody it's true. And you know what? I don't need anything else cuz I'm my own man and fuck the government.

Taite Westendorf: 
Lay down the hammer homie.

Bassel Khalaf:
All right. There we go. Peace.