Welcome to


South County court

Ready for court? Are you sure? Then, please answer this very basic question.

Why must police work pass constitutional scrutiny? Simple. If not, officers waste their time and your money. Any criminal case can ultimately reach the U.S. Supreme Court. Even so-called routine traffic stops. More than 300 million Americans may evaluate involved officers. Hero or zero? Your call.

First time visitor? Please accept my warmest welcome. Already a friend? Thanks again for being here. As you see, I’m reconstructing my website. Hope you like it. Newcomer? I created my site, way back in 2001, while settling into my alleged post-DA-retirement life. Alleged? Mi esposa claims I keep failing retirement.

Mary also says I should smile more often for pictures. As you can see, I don’t like my picture taken. However, smile or no smile, she observes I remain the protector of the protectors. And, she asserts I remain the de facto father-confessor for the troops. (Very kind. Thank you, dear!)

Proper legal decision-making? That’s governed by facts and law. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Like my ostensible retirement, my site keeps evolving. Soon, we’ll start building my wife’s website. I’ll provide that info here, when it’s ready, so you can visit Mary’s site, too. Among her many talents? Long-time teacher. Former Legislative Field Rep. Inventor. And, like me, she’s also an author.

What’s she now writing? Cookbook? Novel? Children’s series? That’s right. All three genres.

What was my most important prosecutorial concern? That’s easy. Being available for all the dedicated cops on our law enforcement team, 24-7-365. My job? Guiding them to keep good guys, like you, safe from bad guys. I no longer have that particular duty. But, I’m still being asked the same basic questions.

(Read Hey Doc Copper! right here. Question or comment? Use the handy contact form.)

Cops must cross every ‘T’ and dot every ‘I’. This means more than merely pitting police officers, parole agents and probation officers, from the local to the federal level, against criminals. Lawmakers write bills. Chief executives sign them into law.

That’s true whether they are at the federal, state, county, or municipal level. Judges interpret them. Team work? Separate, but equal? Yes. And, yes. U.S. President Thomas Jefferson said it best: the only purpose of government is to protect the People.

This makes public safety job #1 for those in government who serve the public, whether elected by us or appointed by others. And, as noted, public safety is a team event. Your job? Make sure they do theirs. U.S. government has three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial.

Our Founding Fathers wrote the U.S. Constitution so each entity is a check and balance against the other two. Translation? Lawmakers draft bills. Chief execs sign them into law, irrespective of whether they serve at the federal, state, county, or municipal levels.

Cops arrest. Prosecutors enforce. Judges interpret legislative pronouncements, upon proper request. Titles of chief executives vary, depending on their governmental role. Federal? That’s the President of the United States. In each of our fifty states? Those are our Governors.

At the county level (or, parish in Louisiana), that title will vary, depending on the jurisdiction. Municipalities? Meet the mayor. Same with prosecutors. City Attorneys legally guide cities. Town Attorneys guide smaller municipalities, called towns.

Depending on population and budget, somewhat akin to the role of deputy county prosecutors, they may or may not have deputies that handle most of the day-to-day work. County prosecutors may work for an elected official, called various names, depending on jurisdiction.

That person may be the District Attorney, County Attorney, County Prosecutor, Prosecuting Attorney, State’s Attorney, and so on. Some are constitutional officers. Others are not. But, their duties are similar. Job titles of staff level prosecutors may also vary.

Like County DA’s, et al, the Attorney General of each state is an elected official. Each state’s AG is a constitutional officer. Their working level prosecutors carry titles such as Deputy Attorney General or Assistant Attorney General. If any county prosecutor declares a conflict, your state’s AG may step in.

Federal prosecutors such as Deputy AG’s, Assistant AG’s, et al, serve us at the U.S. Department of Justice, reporting to the U.S. Attorney General. Like the AG, part of the U.S. President’s cabinet, U.S. Attorneys are also appointed.

Each USA serves a separate federal court district. Reporting to them are Assistant U.S. Attorneys, aka AUSA’s. State courts and legislatures may display different labels than their neighbors. In some states, the legislative body is called the Legislature.

Elsewhere, it might be the General Assembly. California’s lower house is the Assembly. In other states, it might be the House of Representatives, just like Congress. California’s bicameral Legislature has an 80-member Assembly and a 40-member Senate.

Each elected lawmaker represents a separate geographical district, just like in any other jurisdiction. Similar to my adopted state, New York’s Legislature includes a 150-member Assembly and a 63-member Senate. The remaining 48 states vary in their respective legislative composition.

Appellate judges determine if their trial brethren have done their job properly, whenever a party files a writ or an appeal. California state trial courts are now called Superior Courts. In the Golden State, judicial reviews are done by the District Courts of Appeal and the California Supreme Court.

By comparison, my birth state’s courts of general trial jurisdiction are called Supreme Courts. But, New York also has other designated trial courts. The Empire State’s first level of reviewing court is the Supreme Court, Appellate Division. Their highest court is the New York State Court of Appeals.

What if a county prosecutor is also a constitutional officer? It adds significance to their status. It means they are the, de jure, top cop of their jurisdiction. A prosecuting attorney decides which arrests reach court. So, doesn’t it make sense they also be the captain of their own county’s law enforcement team?

My role as a trial lawyer has been superseded by other roles. One is author. The other I can’t mention, for ethical reasons that make zero sense to me. Amazing. One donates their time to serve their community, but can’t talk about it, if it may possibly benefit them financially. I despise illogic. How about you?

I also began my 2-year term, as a member of the City of Laguna Niguel Traffic & Transportation Commission, in January 2015. I’ve actually held some of these roles for a long time, starting as a trial lawyer, way back in 1977.

But, it wasn’t until early 2013 that I finally completed my five current books. Read about that at my Books & Law Enforcement Teaching page. Now, when I’m not otherwise occupied, I write books, dispense practical advice to cops, offer commentaries about public safety and discuss other important issues here.

Meanwhile, I also remain a POST-Instructor Development Institute (IDI)-trained Level 2 law enforcement academy instructor. But, I am not presently teaching locally, or on the road, where I’ve taught my own 16-hour Courtroom Survival for Peace Officers class, as well as several others.

Laws of physics can only be bent so far, as I continue to learn about that unswervingly immutable subject. Despite my instructional study leave, I continue completing POST-IDI classes, as time permits. My personal goal is to complete Levels 3&4 and attain Master Instructor status.

In lieu of classroom teaching, I now write books and operate my website. My two commentaries, Hey Doc Copper! for cops and Taking the Firstoffer my opinions on relevant issues. HDC!is responsive. Got a work-related, law enforcement question, or, simply wish to say hi? You know how to reach me.

For your convenience, I’ve added a contact form at the bottom of each page. If you’re an inquiring peace officer, once you do that, just as soon as you’re cloaked with a prophylactic pseudonym, ol’ Doc Copper can reply to your question. He’s been doing that for a long, long time.

That’s true, whether by subscription, in national law enforcement publications, or as a free public service to the many cops in my old county, since the late 1980’s, when I was still a fledgling DA. Now, HDC! is here, exclusively, at this site. Thanks for visiting. You’re always welcome.

Martin C. Brhel, Jr.

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