The Associated Students Legal Resource Center is featuring local criminal defense attorney William Makler for a Q&A seminar on the best ways to handle legal issues tonight from 5 to 6 p.m. and 6 to 7 p.m. in Isla Vista Theater.
The discussion is free and open to anyone interested in learning more about court proceedings, differences between types of tickets and Santa Barbara County’s new legal programs. Prospective audience members are encouraged to bring their past citations to learn more about their infractions.
According to Makler, the lecture will be tailored to inform college students on the rights they possess in common situations.
“Over the previous years I’ve done this, I expect to give [students] a primer on their constitutionally protected rights, [whether] they are related to their interaction with the police as well as the court,” Makler said.
Makler said the advice illustrates the general “do’s and don’ts” of handling a legal proceeding or responding to police apprehension.
“I can’t give legal advice to people I don’t represent; however, I can speak generically about what’s a good idea and what’s not a good idea,” Makler said. “Someone accused of either an infraction or misdemeanor — they can expect to receive information to otherwise avoid this becoming a worse problem for them.”
Makler encourages people to approach him one-on-one to discuss their personal legal issues, rather than bringing them up in front of the audience.
“I can meet with people privately,” Makler said. “I don’t like the idea of putting people’s problems on the big screen. I don’t think that people should come and talk openly about their specific legal problems because I am very sensitive — even more than they are — about the reputation harm that these things bring on, even though some of these things are very minor.”
Third-year communication major Michael Best said Isla Vista’s police force is not always legally justified in its actions.
“The cops here at UCSB are very unfair,” Best said. “I saw one of my roommates detained by the cops on the street and I walked to them and asked them what the situation was about. The only reason why I got a ticket was because I lived in the same house.”
According to Best, Makler’s advice will hopefully be helpful in clearing up his confusion regarding the legal process he must follow in order to address his ticket.
“I definitely need advice — that’s why I’ve been getting extensions on my ticket,” Best said. “That sounds like it’s going to be very useful. … I will ask them what would be appropriate for me to say to the judge, and is there any way for me to get this ticket off of my record.”
According to Makler, the free service not only educates the citizens, but also checks the authorities from abusing their power.
“My role as a member for the bar and as an ambassador for the justice system is to [make] sure that people understand what their rights are and don’t get pushed around or steamrolled or otherwise mistreated by a system that can be [unfair],” Makler said. “I am motivated by a desire for justice [and] a desire to see to it that the police [are] held to a high standard of performance in their field.”
Fourth-year political science major Gabriel Juarez said the seminar will be helpful to students who have run into police trouble.
“I think this is a great opportunity for any of our students who [have] run into legal trouble in Isla Vista — for them to get a little advice and to see what their options are and handle their problems the best way possible,” Juarez said.