Crains New York: Big glitch in feds’ case against Spongetech by Aaron Elstein:
The government has majorly messed up its seemingly airtight case against the chief executive of Spongetech Delivery Systems, a New York-based maker of SpongeBob SquarePants sponges that allegedly faked 99% of its sales.
Last week, a federal judge ruled that reams of emails and other potentially damaging evidence couldn’t be used in court because the government took too long to examine the bounty.
My prior post on the case is here.
The police violated a juvenile rape suspect’s Fourth Amendment rights by getting his mother’s consent to a penile swab for DNA. The state’s showing of exigency was insufficient. This was harmless error here, however, where the victim ID’d him and his DNA was left on her and on a ski mask. Lee v. State, 967 N.E.2d 529 (Ind. App. 2012):
The absence of evidence that officers actually believed DNA was about to be destroyed might be due to a lack of evidence that would sufficiently support the State's appellate claim that the officers did so believe, or it might be due to Lee's failure to object and thereby press the State to present evidence thereof. In any event, our narrowly tailored holding is that sufficient evidence of exigent circumstances was not presented at trial. Because it is the State's burden to present such evidence to overcome a presumption of unreasonableness, its failure to overcome that burden renders the admission of such evidence erroneous without another valid justification.
On appeal, the State compares this case to two cases from other jurisdictions in which officers apprehended suspects of sexual assaults soon after the crimes occurred and obtained penile swabs of the suspects in a manner such that appellate courts later held the swabs justified by exigent circumstances. See Kaliku v. U.S., 994 A.2d 765 (D.C. Cir. 2010); Ontiveros v. Texas, 240 S.W.3d 369 (Tex. App. 2007), petition stricken. We agree that the offenses under investigation in Kaliku and Ontiveros are similar to this case, and that the officers faced a similar situation in those cases as the officers did here. We conclude differently from Kaliku and Ontiveros because the evidence presented at Lee's trial regarding officers' thoughts and actions do not demonstrate they actually believed Lee might destroy any DNA evidence on his penis.
. . .
Detective Cress's short statement that he would not allow Lee to wash his hands, without further elaboration, pales in comparison to the evidence presented in Kaliku and Ontiveros, and is insufficient to overcome the State's burden to demonstrate officers actually held an objective, reasonable belief that evidence was about to be destroyed.9
9 Further, it should be noted that if officers wanted Lee's DNA, exigent circumstances certainly did not exist because Lee's DNA would not change and officers could have obtained a warrant and obtained his DNA later.
Five search warrants were executed after wiretaps. Defendant had standing as to his business and home, but not three others. There is no co-conspirator exception to standing for them (Padilla). There was “strong evidence” of probable cause supporting the search warrants, so the motion is denied as to all five. United States v. Kazarian, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70050 (S.D. N.Y. May 18, 2012).*
Defendant had a “full and fair opportunity to litigate” his search claim which he waived by his guilty plea. The after the fact discovery by defendant that a witness on the search issue was not completely believable wasn’t good enough to undermine the plea. Balleza v. United States, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69537 (N.D. Tex. May 17, 2012).*
Defendant’s 2255 claim that defense counsel failed to challenge warrantless searches fails without an allegation as to what those searches were and how he was prejudiced by it. Fuller v. United States, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70813 (N.D. Ill. May 22, 2012).*
Yosemite National Park officers came to a campsite to investigate disorderly conduct and a traffic offense and ordered everybody to sit at a table and show their hands. One lady refused to be patted down and then was threatened with being Tasered, and that was unreasonable under the circumstances. She was targeted only because she was with others who might be suspects. United States v. Mazzetti, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69922 (E.D. Cal. May 17, 2012)*:
Based on the record before the Court, including the primary concern for the personal freedom of individuals who are suspected of having done nothing more than to have committed, and completed, a misdemeanor, the rangers had the right and duty to approach the group and question its individual members regarding possible criminal activity. However, they lacked the right to conduct an investigatory stop, i.e, restrain the liberty, of Defendant. They did restrain her. The restraints violated protections afforded her under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The Court does not discount nor denigrate the reasonableness and sincerity of Ranger Bellino's belief that the restraints on Defendant's freedom were necessary to ensure safety of himself and his fellow rangers dealing with members of a group which outnumbered the Rangers. The Court respects such concerns. History has shown that law enforcement personnel are regularly exposed to wholly unexpected, and all too often deadly, threats. However, our Constitution demands that such concerns be balanced against citizens' rights to be free of unreasonable seizure of their persons. Thus, law enforcement may not take action to restrain the personal liberties of individuals based on purely theoretical safety concerns. Here, when Ranger Bellino arrived, nothing suggested to him that any member of the group had engaged in any serious crime or threat to public safety or posed an ongoing threat to Ranger Bellino or anyone else. There was no justification for using the threat of force to compel Defendant's continued presence.
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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)