HuffPo: Illinois Traffic Stop Of Star Trek Fans Raises Concerns About Drug Searches, Police Dogs, Bad Cops by Radley Balko:
Last December, filmmaker Terrance Huff and his friend Jon Seaton were returning to Ohio after attending a "Star Trek" convention in St. Louis. As they passed through a small town in Illinois, a police officer, Michael Reichert, pulled Huff's red PT Cruiser over to the side of the road, allegedly for an unsafe lane change. Over the next hour, Reichert interrogated the two men, employing a variety of police tactics civil rights attorneys say were aimed at tricking them into giving up their Fourth Amendment rights. Reichert conducted a sweep of Huff's car with a K-9 dog, then searched Huff's car by hand. Ultimately, he sent Huff and Seaton on their way with a warning.
Earlier this month, Huff posted to YouTube audio and video footage of the stop taken from Reichert's dashboard camera. No shots were fired in the incident. No one was beaten, arrested or even handcuffed. Reichert found no measurable amount of contraband in Huff's car. But Huff's 17-and-a-half minute video raises important questions about law enforcement and the criminal justice system, including the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, the drug war, profiling and why it's so difficult to take problematic cops out of the police force.
The video: Breakfast in Collinsville (with Michael Richert), and its mostly from the POV of the police car. Pretty typical overbearing cop during an interstate stop who won't take "I won't consent" and "I want to go" for an answer. Finally he gets out the drug dog that doesn't alert and then searches anyway. This is a really long article, but typical Balko: excellent coverage.
NYTimes Editorial: The Roberts Court Defines Itself:
For anyone who still thought legal conservatives are dedicated to judicial restraint, the oral arguments before the Supreme Court on the health care case should put that idea to rest. There has been no court less restrained in signaling its willingness to replace law made by Congress with law made by justices.
NYTimes.com: 538: Supreme Court May Be Most Conservative in Modern History by Nate Silver
If President Obama’s health care bill is stricken by the Supreme Court, liberals will take it as evidence of judicial overreach, or at least that the court has shifted far to the right. One statistical method for analyzing the Supreme Court, in fact, already finds that the current court is the most conservative since at least the 1930s.
As you can see from the chart, Mr. Martin and Mr. Quinn rate the current court (based on data up through late 2010) as the most conservative in their database based on the positioning of the median justice, the previous high having come in the early 1950s. Although Justice Kennedy is not extraordinarily conservative relative to all other justices who have served on the court, he is very conservative by the standards of the median justice, who has typically been more of a true moderate.
Statistics to measure justice? Why not. Nothing else works to measure.
Officers alleged to have entered the wrong unit during execution of a search warrant then detaining the occupants for three hours stated a § 1983 claim that overcame qualified immunity. Gomez v. Feissner, 474 Fed. Appx. 53 (3d Cir. 2012) (unpublished):
The Gomezes also claim that Feissner and Zola violated their right to be free from unreasonable seizure by detaining them for three hours during the search of their home. A "seizure" occurs when a government officer, "by means of physical force or show of authority ... restrains the liberty of a citizen." Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 19 n.16 (1968). Under clearly established Supreme Court precedent, it is reasonable for officers to seize the occupants of a home while conducting a constitutionally valid search thereof. Michigan v. Summers, 452 U.S. 692, 705 (1981). But this is true only for the duration of the search. When the search is completed, the authority expires. Id. Moreover, under Garrison, it is clearly established that once officers know or should know that they are without authority to continue a seizure, they must end it.
The Gomezes allege that Feissner should have known after fifteen minutes that he had no authority to search their home. It is undisputed that for three hours beyond this point, the Gomezes were involuntarily detained by either Feissner or officers under his command. These allegations suffice to make out a violation of the Gomezes' clearly established right to be free from unreasonable seizure, and Feissner accordingly does not have qualified immunity from this claim.
Note: This case states the obvious. What is galling about it is the defendant police officer arguing with a straight face that he, first, could not only enter the wrong apartment when he was on notice by unit numbers and multiple doorways and satellite dishes, but, second, he could then detain the occupants of the place wrongly searched for three hours for no apparent reason. They should settle and move on, if their position in this case hasn't thoroughly added insult to injury and made trial inevitable. This is the double edged sword of qualified immunity: When the defense loses on qualified immunity, you're only arguing about the damages. This is sufficiently flagrant that punitives should result.
Officers working patrol in a housing project smelled marijuana. They followed the smell and found it coming from an apartment. They knocked on the door and the smell was far stronger. The defendant answering the door admitted to smoking marijuana. There was exigency for an entry to seize the marijuana because they couldn’t practically leave and get a warrant without the marijuana being destroyed. United States v. McMillion, 472 Fed. Appx. 138 (3d Cir. 2012):
Here, the exigency of the circumstances provided the officers with an objectively reasonable belief that a warrantless entry was justified. The officers followed the odor of marijuana to Washington's apartment, knocked on the door and, when Washington opened the door, the odor was even stronger. It was thus reasonable for the officers to suspect that there was ongoing drug activity, and, particularly in light of McMillion's admission to smoking marijuana, it was also reasonable for the officers to conclude that contraband was being destroyed and would continue to be destroyed or removed if they did not act immediately.
Police received a 911 call of shots fired from an alleged AK47 inside a house, and the SWAT team even came. Just before entry, they saw a light go on, and they entered. This was with exigent circumstances there might be a shooting victim inside. Once officers were inside, the court finds defendant consented to a full search of the premises. State v. Johnson, 2012 Ohio 1344, 2012 Ohio App. LEXIS 1170 (8th Dist. March 29, 2012).*
Defendant was approached by an officer at a rest stop because he noticed her taillights flash, suggesting she needed help. He found her OVI. He did not suspect any criminal activity, and there was no apparent need for a community caretaking encounter, so the motion to suppress should have been granted. State v. Clapper, 2012 Ohio 1382, 2012 Ohio App. LEXIS 1189 (9th Dist. March 30, 2012).
Defendant stopped for a lane change violation was in a rented car purportedly rented to his girlfriend, but he didn’t know her last name. That was reasonable suspicion to detain longer. State v. Delossantos, 2012 Ohio 1383, 2012 Ohio App. LEXIS 1192 (9th Dist. March 30, 2012).*
The “consent” search here was not true consent, and the finding of defendant’s money for seizure was a product of that invalid consent. There were no intervening circumstances sufficient to purge the taint. “The Court also finds the constitutional violations that preceded Moser's consent were purposeful and flagrant.” United States v. $28,000.00 in United States Currency, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44113 (S.D. Cal. March 29, 2012).*
Officers at the house end of the driveway were in the curtilage when they made their “plain view” of an HCL generator. The government’s alternative argument of knock-and-talk with a PO and LEO led to a “protective sweep,” but the government cannot prove that there was any articulable basis for believing there was somebody armed there. Finally, the court concludes that the PO had reasonable suspicion that defendant was involved in a methamphetamine operation, and that justified entry onto the property. United States v. Wyatt, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42725 (W.D. Ky. March 28, 2012).*
Defendant’s guilty plea even waived ineffective assistance claims. [That violates the Sixth Amendment; how obtuse. How can defense counsel agree to a plea agreement that waives IAC? In any rational court, counsel can’t because of a conflict on the potential Sixth Amendment claim.] Wiand v. United States, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43793 (N.D. Tex. January 17, 2012).*
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"If it was easy, everybody would be doing it. It isn't, and they don't."
"Love work; hate mastery over others; and avoid intimacy with the government."
—Shemaya, in the Thalmud
"A system of law that not only makes certain conduct criminal, but also lays
down rules for the conduct of the authorities, often becomes complex in its
application to individual cases, and will from time to time produce imperfect
results, especially if one's attention is confined to the particular case at
bar. Some criminals do go free because of the necessity of keeping
government and its servants in their place. That is one of the costs of having
and enforcing a Bill of Rights. This country is built on the assumption that
the cost is worth paying, and that in the long run we are all both freer and
safer if the Constitution is strictly enforced."
—Williams v. Nix, 700 F. 2d 1164, 1173 (8th Cir. 1983) (Richard Sheppard Arnold, J.), rev'd Nix v. Williams, 467 US. 431 (1984).
"The criminal goes free, if he must, but it is the law that sets him free. Nothing
can destroy a government more quickly than its failure to observe its own laws,
or worse, its disregard of the charter of its own existence."
—Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 659 (1961).
Any costs the exclusionary rule are costs imposed directly by the Fourth Amendment.
—Yale Kamisar, 86 Mich.L.Rev. 1, 36 n. 151 (1987).
"There have been powerful hydraulic pressures throughout our history that
bear heavily on the Court to water down constitutional guarantees and give the
police the upper hand. That hydraulic pressure has probably never been greater
than it is today."
— Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 39 (1968) (Douglas, J., dissenting).
"The great end, for which men entered into society, was to secure their
—Entick v. Carrington, 19 How.St.Tr. 1029, 1066, 95 Eng. Rep. 807 (C.P. 1765)
"It is a fair summary of history to say that the safeguards of liberty have
frequently been forged in controversies involving not very nice people. And
so, while we are concerned here with a shabby defrauder, we must deal with his
case in the context of what are really the great themes expressed by the Fourth
—United States v. Rabinowitz, 339 U.S. 56, 69 (1950) (Frankfurter, J., dissenting)
"The course of true law pertaining to searches and seizures, as enunciated
here, has not–to put it mildly–run smooth."
—Chapman v. United States, 365 U.S. 610, 618 (1961) (Frankfurter, J., concurring).
"A search is a search, even if it happens to disclose nothing but the
bottom of a turntable."
—Arizona v. Hicks, 480 U.S. 321, 325 (1987)
"For the Fourth Amendment protects people, not places. What a person knowingly
exposes to the public, even in his own home or office, is not a subject of Fourth
Amendment protection. ... But what he seeks to preserve as private, even in
an area accessible to the public, may be constitutionally protected."
—Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 351 (1967)
“Experience should teach us to be most on guard to
protect liberty when the Government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born
to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded
rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men
of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”
—United States v. Olmstead, 277 U.S. 438, 479 (1925) (Brandeis, J., dissenting)
“Liberty—the freedom from unwarranted
intrusion by government—is as easily lost through insistent nibbles by
government officials who seek to do their jobs too well as by those whose purpose
it is to oppress; the piranha can be as deadly as the shark.”
—United States v. $124,570, 873 F.2d 1240, 1246 (9th Cir. 1989)
"You can't always get what you want /
But if you try sometimes / You just might find / You get what you need."
—Mick Jagger & Keith Richards
"In Germany, they first came for the communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for
the Catholics and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Catholic. Then they came
for me–and by that time there was nobody left to speak up."
—Martin Niemöller (1945) [he served seven years in a concentration camp]
“You know, most men would get discouraged by
now. Fortunately for you, I am not most men!”
—Pepé Le Pew
"There is never enough time, unless you are serving it."
"The point of the Fourth Amendment, which often is not grasped by zealous officers, is not that it denies law enforcement the support of the usual inferences which reasonable men draw from evidence. Its protection consists in requiring that those inferences be drawn by a neutral and detached magistrate instead of being judged by the officer engaged in the often competitive enterprise of ferreting out crime."
—Johnson v. United States, 333 U.S. 10, 13-14 (1948)