Citizen Media Law Center: Another Go-Round with Recording the Police in Massachusetts by Jeffrey P. Hermes:
Last Thursday, according to the Shrewsbury Daily Voice, Irving Espinosa-Rodrigue was arraigned in Westborough District Court for making a recording of a police officer in violation of Massachusetts' wiretap law, M.G.L. c. 272, § 99. The audio/video recording was allegedly made secretly during a traffic stop by a female passenger in Espinosa-Rodrigue's car at his direction, and later uploaded to YouTube.
But wait a minute -- didn't we already deal with this issue in Massachusetts? Didn't the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, the federal appeals court with jurisdiction over Massachusetts, pretty clearly state in Glik v. Cunniffe, 655 F.3d 78 (1st Cir. 2011), that there's a First Amendment right to record the activities of the police in public?
McClatchy: Commentary: Welfare drug testing and the Fourth Amendment by Linda P. Campbell | The Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst probably wouldn't admit it, but they want to engage in social engineering. They want people not to waste money on drugs, liquor, smokes or lottery tickets. Not everybody, mind you, but poor people.
That's because poor people can get taxpayer dollars to help feed their kids or tide their families over when they lose a job -- and we can't have them spending that money on things the rest of us disapprove of. ...
But the method of choice put forward by Perry, Dewhurst, Sen. Jane Nelson of Flower Mound and other Republicans is to drug-test people applying for public benefits such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and unemployment assistance. As though drug use is the main reason people with kids are poor or have been thrown out of work.
Defendant was subjected to a stop and frisk. A pen cap was removed from his person, and it was obvious that it was not a weapon. The officer’s further search of the pen cap was unreasonable. Officer working off-duty security at an apartment complex was acting as a police officer and the Fourth Amendment governed the search. Clanton v. State, 2012 Ind. App. LEXIS 565 (November 15, 2012):
In our view, the dispositive fact is not whether a container is open or closed, but whether the illicit nature of an item was immediately apparent to the officer or apparent only through further manipulation. See Dickerson, 508 U.S. at 379 (analogizing the plain-feel doctrine to the plain-view doctrine as limited by Arizona v. Hicks, 480 U.S. 321 (1987), which held that the moving of stereo equipment to check serial numbers was an impermissible search under the Fourth Amendment absent probable cause to suspect the equipment was stolen when "the incriminating character of the stereo equipment was not immediately apparent").
Here, once Officer Price discovered that the sharp item in Clanton's pocket was a pen cap, he had dispelled his suspicion that the item was a weapon. Indeed, Officer Price testified that he kept the pen cap, searched it, and seized its contents because, "upon further investigation and looking at it," he saw a baggie hanging from the pen cap, and based on previous experiences of finding narcotics in baggies in pen caps, he suspected that this baggie contained narcotics. Tr. p. 11, 18, 47-48, 51. Officer Price also admitted numerous times that he could not tell what was inside the baggie when he first observed it hanging out of the pen cap. Id. at 18, 48. In fact, Officer Price realized that the baggie contained cocaine only upon closer examination. Id. at 11. Thus, like in Harris and Jackson where the illicit nature of the pill bottles was not immediately apparent to the investigating officers, here the contraband nature of the contents of the pen cap was not immediately apparent to Officer Price. As a result, the discovery of the cocaine violated Clanton's right to be free from unreasonable searches under the Fourth Amendment, and the trial court erred in admitting the cocaine into evidence. Thus, Clanton's conviction cannot stand.
“We conclude that defendant's detention at the scene of the traffic stop was lawful and did not constitute a de facto arrest. Defendant was placed in the back seat of a patrol vehicle without handcuffs after the police observed him leaving a residence subject to a search warrant, and they observed his furtive movements and those of the driver.” People v. Binion, 2012 NY Slip Op 7801, 100 A.D.3d 1514, 954 N.Y.S.2d 369 (4th Dept. 2012).
Defendant was handcuffed when he was stopped for five minutes until he attempted to flee. That was not an arrest and the time was not unreasonable. United States v. Lesane, 498 Fed. Appx. 363 (4th Cir. 2012).
Defendant drove down a street with police cars not lit up because they just arrived to an unknown problem. His car wouldn’t fit through the cars already there and the officer yelled at him to stop. The officer tapped on the window, and defendant rolled it down, and the officer could smell alcohol. That justified the stop. Ward v. State, 2012 Ark. App. 649, 2012 Ark. App. LEXIS 768 (November 14, 2012).*
Trial court erred in not applying the totality of circumstances standard to the conduct of the police during the search. Officers knocked at the door and got no answer, so they pushed the door open and saw a lit candle, so they entered to blow it out, seeing contraband. Remanded per curiam. State v. Washington, 2012 La. LEXIS 3083 (November 16, 2012)*:
The Louisiana and Federal constitutions prohibit unreasonable searches and seizures. State v. Lee, 05-2098, p. 14 (La. 1/16/08), 976 So.2d 109, 122; see U.S. Const. amend. IV and La. Const. art. I, § 5. Therefore, the pivotal question in this case is whether the police officers acted reasonably in the following series of events: 1) entering the front yard of a residence with an open front door and standing at the door; 2) announcing their presence and asking if anyone was inside; 3) hearing no response to their announcement, further pushing the door open; 4) viewing lit candles inside; 5) then entering the residence to extinguish the candles to prevent a fire; and 6) seizing contraband the officers viewed while extinguishing the candles. Given only these facts, we might well have found the third action by police of further pushing the door open unreasonable. See Lee, 05-2098 at 14-15, 976 So.2d at 122 ("Warrants ... are generally required to search an individual's home or person, 'unless "the exigencies of the situation" make the needs of law enforcement so compelling that the warrantless search is objectively reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.'"). However, as found by the district court, these were not the only facts and circumstances prompting the officers to push the door open further. The district court erred in not considering the totality of the circumstances when ruling on the defendant's motion to suppress drug evidence seized from the residence at the end of the above-described series of events. See State v. Bush, 12-0720, p. 1 (La. 6/1/12), 90 So.3d 395, 396 (describing the standard on motion to suppress for admissibility of evidence seized without a warrant as a "totality of the circumstances" test).
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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)