A general consent to search a vehicle for “weapons, drugs, or money” permitted the officers to use tools to take the dashboard apart and find a hidden compartment. It was expected that compartments would be searched, and that had to include hidden compartments. United States v. Locke, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179425 (E.D. Wis. October 9, 2012) adopted 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179420 (E.D. Wis. December 19, 2012):
Here, Trooper Taylor asked Locke whether he had any weapons, drugs, or money in the vehicle, and Locke answered "no." Trooper Taylor specifically asked if he could search Locke's Expedition, and Locke answered "yes." So, Locke was well aware that Trooper Taylor was searching for weapons, drugs, and money. While suspects may limit the scope of their consent, Locke placed no limit on the extent of the search. Thus, a reasonable person in the officer's position would have understood that, by consenting to search the Expedition and all of its contents, Locke agreed to permit a search of any compartments or containers that could contain contraband, including the hidden compartment that was ultimately discovered.
Locke argues, however, that Trooper Taylor's search exceeded the scope of his consent because he used tools to access the hidden compartment. Locke cites no case law to support his argument. Indeed, and quite to the contrary, cases suggest that, in the absence of intentional damage "to the places or things to be searched," using tools to access hidden compartments is not per se unreasonable. See Saucedo, 688 F.3d at 866-67. In Saucedo, the court upheld as reasonable an officer's use of a flashlight and screwdriver to look behind a TV, unscrew the molding, and remove the hidden compartment from an alcove. See id. at 866. Additionally, in United States v. Torres, 32 F.3d 225 (7th Cir. 1994), an officer used a screwdriver to remove six screws that secured the cover of a wooden compartment in a trailer. The court found it to be objectively reasonable for the officer to believe that the scope of consent allowed him to open the compartment in such a manner. Id. at 231-32.
Locke makes no claim that Trooper Taylor, or any other officer on the scene, intentionally damaged the Expedition or any personal property inside. At one point, Locke accused Trooper Taylor of "tearing the truck up." However, it appears Locke's concern stemmed from a general rummaging of contents, as opposed to destruction of the contents in the vehicle. Further, Trooper Taylor assured Locke that the officers would put everything back the way it was. ...
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"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
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—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
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—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
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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
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—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)
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"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,
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—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)