Veteran Los Angeles County Prosecutor Michael Pettersen is facing a very serious charge after he rear-ended a car in Calabasas and then remained in his wrecked BMW drinking alcohol out of a bottle as various people videotaped him. He then exited the car and collapsed in a stupor. Adding to the notoriety was the fact that he hit the car of a local radio celebrity called Big Boy, aka Kurt Alexander,
Deputies struggled to get Peterson to a patrol car and he was eventually booked on felony DUI charges.
This is not his first run in with the law. Pettersen was put on leave after his law license was suspended in September, 2017. He has been previously arrested for drunk driving and was sought on an arrest warrant after failing to appear. He was also cited in 2016 for driving on a suspended license. He also failed to appear for that appearance — resulting in another warrant to be issued.
He has been a prosecutor for 28 years. It is a sad story of obvious addiction and a man in what seems a free fall.
The LA county prosecutors will hand over the case to another office due to the conflict with former colleagues prosecuting the case.
35 thoughts on “L.A. Prosecutor Arrested After Crashing Car and Then Drinking As He Waited For Police”
I got a friend in the DA’s office. Word on the street is this guys child died and he just “checked out” after that
Looking at the article’s photo, one can’t help but think of the song, “Take this job and shove it.”
Addiction is sad and so self destructive. I hope no one else was hurt in the crash. There’s a lot of traffic on the 101 at any time of day, or surface streets.
Typical prosecutor’s trick who’s caught in a drunk driving crime. Since the drinking was filmed after the crash, the defendant will argue that there is no proof of his alcohol level at the time of the operation as Michael Aarethun notes below. The filming actually helps him here as it shows post crash drinking which the other driver will unwittingly confirm.
That’s so unfair, but I can see the logic.
That was my thought.
Hasn’t had a license in 1 1/2 years and on a PAID leave of absence since January 2017. Yes he has an addiction but he’s a big boy and should be dealing w it, not still driving drunk, ignoring court appearances, driving w/o a license AND still getting his full salary.
He is seen drinking AFTER the driving and the wreck. He is up itShay Creek but he has a paddle.
Patrick Frey (“Patterico”) works in that office. Drunks aren’t the only problem personalities employed there.
Another example, in case we needed one, of the moral decay of the haut bourgeois in this country. The bar in particular gets more unprofessional and unscrupulous every year, but Prof. Turley’s line remains that everyone has to play nice with the lawyers, that we all have to pretend that lawyers admitted in 1995 are just as decent as lawyers admitted in 1950, that the legal profession’s prerogatives must remain completely unimpaired, and that lawyers sit in judgment of everyone else but no other body of citizens or professionals may sit in judgment of lawyers.
i cant speak for Turleys opinions but mine is hell yes the bar is worse than it was in 1950 BUT SO IS EVERYTHING ELSE!
I am not known for my progressive viewpoints, however.
No, everything else isn’t. As for guild cultures, they’re generally worse, but the only ones who have anywhere near the consequence of the bar would be medicine and engineering.
Was that Vodka he was drinking, “Russian collusion” or maybe the guy in the vehicle he hit was “Obstructing” and of course this is California he could use the Hillary defense “If I had to do it over”.
After the litany of previous incidents, how was he still a prosecutor in the first place? And to Mark M, who says this, “Further, as a public servant, he had access to one of the Cadillac health insurance plans which provide for addiction treatment.” He probably does have access to a treatment program but public servants aren’t the ones that get “Cadillac health plans. Your belief is not consistent with reality or your definition of Cadillac health plan is skewed.
Thanks engima. yes you are right. often they do not get them.
but many used to get them and then Obamacare slapped a tax on them and a lot of public employees had to switch to the same cruddy high deductible plans of everyone else.
A good reminder of how Democrats shafted organized labor on that one.
you can bet a lot of union members remembered that and voted for TRUMP
JT, you missed this one……Navajo Nation
41 year old Karis Begaye slams into the rear of an 18 wheeler & totals a $34k SUV near Flagstaff, Arizona on April 22, 2018. Karis is the Legal Counsel & daughter of President Russell Begaye. This is her 3rd DWI. The SUV is Navajo tribal property.
After watching video of the Arizona PD search the SUV, I concluded that it is an image of Karis’s brain……There’s another video that shows an empty bottle of vodka.
Yes, the observed drinking after the fact may complicate a driving while intoxicated charge. However, the bigger item here is a 28-year prosecutor who’s likely going to have a problem retaining his bar card; I presume his job as a public servant is over. Although his addiction to alcohol is not his fault, it is his problem. His “friends” at the office had to be aware of his issue. The legal profession has one of the highest rates of alcoholism; I haven’t checked, but I’m willing to bet that California has a functional lawyers assistance program, as most state bars do. Further, as a public servant, he had access to one of the Cadillac health insurance plans which provide for addiction treatment. I’m torn about this issue; on the one hand, the knowledge in his head can be used to assist those who can’t advocate for themselves and see that justice is done. On the other hand, retribution seeks another result. On this hand, he betrayed a public trust by committing a criminal offense and placing the public in danger. Further, the argument for some manifestation of “obstruction” or “tampering” in the form of drinking after the fact calls into question his compliance with the candor and honesty required of an officer of the court. There is nothing positive or beneficial about this sad tale. I hope he honestly seeks treatment and is eventually able to re-assume his position as a respected member of the bar.
lol, “Although his addiction to alcohol is not his fault, it is his problem.” What a way to skirt responsibly. Who forced him to drink? Blame the Alcohol? Not the person? Sounds eerily familiar, “We need gun control, because guns kill people”.
People just never do anything wrong!
As an ignorant, inbred, semi-literare loser, I wouldn’t expect you to understand addiction treatment. But it looks good on you though.
This is to “I’m dumber than a stump, but I show up on time, mostly” ronnie
Marky Mark Mark – it is his fault. I am sure that by this point he has been through at least three diversion programs, none of them successful. It is not a question of his insurance paying for it, he needs to stop drinking alcohol. Forever. AA is free and he can afford that when he loses his job. And he needs to lose his Bar card for at least 5 years.
You are just enabling him like Late4Yoga enables you.
Assuming facts not in evidence. denied.
Marky Mark Mark – you have a better set of bad fact for being co-dependent? Hmmmmm?????? How many people have you sobered up?
However, the bigger item here is a 28-year prosecutor who’s likely going to have a problem retaining his bar card; I presume his job as a public servant is over.
I see why you usually stick to just trolling the blog. Pick any weapon of choice, mix in alcoholism, and the bigger item to you is the 28 years of legal knowledge in his head and his bar card. That besotted legal brain is diseased and needs to be locked away where it cannot harm anything or anyone again.
Stick to trolling the blog. Because defending a legal professional who uses his knowledge of the law (while drunk) to complicate matters for the prosecution, is unethical. It doesn’t take much of an imagination to understand what he does with that knowledge sober.
Were we to “lock away” everyone who committed a criminal offense, we’d need to build enough prison space to house about 8 million additional folks; I’m not seeing people lining up to pay the hundreds of billions necessary to establish such a gulag. While it’s easy to toss of a ridiculous irrelevancy, those of us who work in this field have to actually think about such issues, as we deal with the consequences. In reality, prison space is finite. As a society, we’ve generally taken the position of reserving prison space for those we are afraid of; not merely for people we are mad at. Although people of your ilk don’t know (until it affect you or yours), addiction is a medical problem. It crosses over into a criminal justice problem in this instance because we as a society have decided that operating a two-ton vehicle while intoxicated creates an intolerable risk of injury or damages to others. However, the underlying cause is still a medical problem. Thus, you unthinkingly advocate “locking away” a person because of his medical problem. Let’s lock up cancer sufferers or the morbidly obese too, while we’re at it. The reality is, this defendant has no prior felony convictions; on the continuum of bad guys, this guy is not so much. There are really some bad, bad guys out there, he ain’t one of ’em.
Or, more beneficially to all involved–including society–structure this defendant’s criminal penalty around taking responsibility for his offenses and his recovery. I’m not knowledgeable about the options available in California state courts, but I’m willing to bet there are many. In Texas, he would likely get 5-10 years of probation, including breath interlock ignition device, occupational-only driver’s license, mandatory alcohol dependency treatment along with mandatory A.A. meetings, fees, fines, and likely some county jail time as a condition of that probation. Additionally, if required to do so, and if he was unable to pay for his own inpatient recovery treatment, he would get inpatient treatment in a state-run secure facility as a condition of his probation. Oh, he wouldn’t be practicing law while on probation, either. His bar card would be suspended for sure for the duration; maybe disbarred if the circumstances show more honesty-related transgressions–the drinking after the accident isn’t a good picture, as it implicates an obstruction-related mindset on his part. If he can’t or won’t be accountable for his recovery, his probation could be revoked and sentenced prison time.
The benefit is multifold: 1) society doesn’t have to pay the expensive cost of locking someone up who doesn’t need it; 2) rather, he pays for his own supervision in the community; 3) he remains a tax-paying citizen rather than a drain on the public coffers; and 4) if successful in his recovery and supervision, he eventually returns into the legal field to resume his role as a respected member of the bar and law-abiding, upstanding citizen.
this is to “who knew common sense wasn’t so common” olly
That was an impressive effort Mark. Reminds of this legal classic:
If he can’t or won’t be accountable for his recovery, his probation could be revoked and sentenced prison time.
Let’s go to the wayback machine:
Pettersen was put on leave after his law license was suspended in September, 2017. He has been previously arrested for drunk driving and was sought on an arrest warrant after failing to appear. He was also cited in 2016 for driving on a suspended license. He also failed to appear for that appearance — resulting in another warrant to be issued.
This prosecutor does not care for the defense side of the equation, especially if he is the defendant. He has thus far proven he either can’t or won’t be accountable for his recovery OR his violations of the law. What did you say should happen to him then?
FWIW, both of my parents were alcoholics. My father finally got into AA and then began building, staffing and running treatment centers throughout the Midwest. I understand the disease.
one of my old friends is an alcoholic lawyer. He’s a good lawyer sometimes. its very sad for anyone with an alcoholic in the family or in a position of responsibility.
the law profession is stressful and so is medicine. you can slam us all you like but we try and help people and society every day. it’s constant human misery and sometimes we crack up too.
Mr Kurtz – do not blame the profession for your friend’s problems with alcohol. If he is an alcoholic, he would be an alcoholic regardless of his profession. The question for him is: Is he a drinking alcoholic or a sober alcoholic?
FAIR ENOUGH Paul but some professions are really stressful.
and not every sector in a profession is equally stressful. anesthesiologists, obs, surgeons, diff and higher stress levels, worse problems
Mr Kurtz – don’t blame the job for his addiction problems. He has an addictive personality or he doesn’t. He stays sober or he doesn’t. His sobriety is on him, not on the job.
He’s probably a respected member of many local bars…
FFS – only if he pays his tab.
The old “I drank everything AFTER the accident” trick.
Having related this before the drinking after the accident was a smart move the rest was stupid. the reason is it became impossible to gauge Blood Alcohol AT THE TIME of the accident. that left out driving while under the influence or driving while impaired and dropped the charge to reckless driving causing property damage.
My version at one time was similiar except it was a fellow police officer who provided the booze and aided;abetted by removing from scene of accident and it was reckless driving causing injury (to three high school age students) Having filled out the charge sheet correctly and reportingi for the trial I was amazed to find the charge had been changed erased and written over witih drunk driving. The unhappy judge was forced by law to throw the case out BUT immediately called Internal Affairs.
Never did find out the end of the story as that was the time of the Treaty and some of of us were released from out jobs last hired first sacked so to speak. Those records are long buried and archived but the result was the doer got off although I heard that he was next to be forcibly retired . Not a bad price to pay.
I finished up my miitary service retired and been on the water ever since.
Always check to see what things really mean. Such as No Fault. That is a trap though if iyou were at fault not bad. If not at fault you find the insurance company will still raise your rates because no fault means you could have been the one at fault.
Such are the vagaries of the justice system where now you can get a reduced sentence by pleading guilty to a charge that isn’t a crime.
thanks for th story michael
and yeah it sucks how much people get charged and plea out now just because the state is so powerful and used to slam dunking people in trials
fed rules of sentencing knock half time off for a plea. very compelling and bad for society. feds wield this “mercy” like a hammer
No Conspiracy! Ha ha ha!
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