Originally, Keya Pikes was on trial for a misdemeanor DUI as well as a misdemeanor for driving on a suspended license. But when the DUI charge was thrown out and the case went to closing argument, it quickly became clear that there were key parts of the case for which the Assistant District Attorney, Ms. Pearl Tan, had not done basic investigatory work such as asking her witness critical questions or consulting the DMV.
Instead of attempting to charge Ms. Pikes with an infraction and let the criminal matter go, however, Ms. Tan proceeded to attempt to get her convicted of driving without a license.
The defendant was driving her vehicle in August 2018 on I280 when Officer Pack pulled her over. He asked her if she had a driver’s license and she handed him her ID card.
After several attempts to get the next piece of information to the jury during closing arguments, Judge Fleming cleared the jury of the court room.
He pointed out to Ms. Tan that she never asked Officer Pack to confirm that Ms. Pikes had told him that her license was suspended. After listening to the audio from the encounter, the Judge acknowledged that while the Officer said, “Do you have a California Driver’s License? Is it valid?” he could not hear her response due a high volume of wind.
You hear the officer then say, “you don’t? Is it suspended?” But do not hear her affirm that response.
After several times, the Judge said, “I can’t hear her say it was suspended. She might have. The officer could have clarified it for us.”
With the jury back, the judge’s admonishment limited the case by the DA. She argued that the defendant did not produce evidence that she had a valid license – which she said she was required to provide.
In the meantime, Deputy Public Defender Ward Hoskins argued, “this is a case about assumptions.” He argued that Officer Pack assumed that the defendant did not have a valid driver’s license because she handed him an ID.
He argued that this comes down to reasonable doubt, and that one reason that she handed him the ID is that she could find it.
He argued there was not evidence that Officer Pack conducted an investigation into her license status. He never ran it on his computer, never searched her person, and never even contacted the DMV.
Mr. Hoskins argued that this was “insufficient evidence” and “not enough for a criminal conviction.”
He told the jury: “Don’t convict based on a sloppy investigation.”
Ms. Tan in her rebuttal argued, “he didn’t assume – he asked.” He asked for a Driver’s License and she gave him her ID.
She argued that the defendant has to put forth evidence that there is a valid ID – and she did not.
Will that be enough to convict? The jury was still deliberating at press time.
—David M. Greenwald reporting