Post details: Prisoner had no reasonable expectation of privacy in his mail under published directive he was aware of

04/13/07

Permalink 08:02:14 am, by fourth, 979 words, 2144 views   English (US)
Categories: General

Prisoner had no reasonable expectation of privacy in his mail under published directive he was aware of

A prison inmate had no reasonable expectation of privacy in his incoming and outgoing mail based on the prison directives for security purposes. United States v. Solomon, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26825 (W.D. Pa. April 11, 2007):

In Stroud v. United States, 251 U.S. 15, 21-22 (1919), the United States Supreme Court held that there was no violation of the Fourth Amendment when letters containing incriminating material written by a prisoner were intercepted by prison personnel and later introduced against him at trial. The Supreme Court noted that the letters came into the possession of prison officials under established practice, reasonably designed to promote institutional discipline. Id. at 21. Several circuit courts subsequent to Stroud have held that jail officials do not violate an inmate's Fourth Amendment rights by inspecting the inmate's mail. See, e.g., Stow v. Grimaldi, 993 F.2d 1002, 1004-05 (1st Cir. 1993) (holding that a New Hampshire State Prison practice of requiring nonprivileged outgoing mail to be submitted for inspection in unsealed envelopes does not violate prisoners' constitutional rights); Smith v. Delo, 995 F.2d 827, 830 (8th Cir. 1993) (prison officials are justified in screening outgoing nonlegal mail for escape plans, contraband, threats, or evidence of illegal activity); United States v. Whalen, 940 F.2d 1027, 1034-35 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 951 (1991) (holding that because prison officials are permitted to examine inmate mail to ensure that the mail does not interfere with the orderly running of the prison, contain threats, or facilitate criminal activity, there is no expectation of privacy in mail that inmates are required to leave unsealed); United States v. Kelton, 791 F.2d 101, 103 (8th Cir. 1986) (prisoner's Fourth Amendment rights were not violated when prison official inspected and copied prisoner's outgoing mail); Smith v. Shimp, 562 F.2d 423, 426-27 (7th Cir. 1977) (reasoning that when a pretrial detainee sends non-privileged mail, he knowingly exposes same to possible inspection by jail officials and consequently yields to reasonable search and seizure); United States v. Baumgarten, 517 F.2d 1020, 1028 (8th Cir.), cert. denied, 423 U.S. 878 (1975) (holding that, under circumstances where prisoner knew of official policy of reading prisoners' outgoing and unsealed mail, prisoner cannot say the state gained access to contents of a letter by unlawful search and seizure).

The record undeniably demonstrates that the Department of Corrections has a written policy which informs all prisoners that their mail, both incoming and outgoing, may be inspected; that Defendant Solomon had received a copy of the DOC Inmate Handbook, which reflected this policy; and that Detective Heberle had requested the monitoring of Defendant Solomon's mail as part of an investigation into the homicide of Frank Helisek. When a prisoner is made aware that his nonlegal mail may be subjected to official scrutiny, pursuant to institutional policies, the inmate's constitutional rights are not violated by the subsequent examination of such mail because he or she has no reasonable expectation of privacy in it.

The plaintiff failed to state a claim against a city's SWAT teams dynamic entry policy even though it was used on two $20 buys. Estate of Brutsche v. City of Federal Way, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26855 (W.D. Wash. April 11, 2007):

The Court need not resolve this dispute. The Court's task on summary judgment is to determine whether there is any evidence that the SWAT team's Dynamic Warrant Service policy caused the alleged unreasonable use of force against Jim Brutsche, not to determine whether the SWAT team's deployment was reasonable. Plaintiffs have failed to provide any evidence that Jim Brutsche was injured by any reason specific to the SWAT team's policies and procedures. Because the Dynamic Service Warrant policy, which was used to decide to deploy the SWAT team in this case, cannot be considered the cause of, or the moving force behind, Jim Brutsche's injuries, the Court GRANTS IN PART the Cities' and the Port's motion for summary judgment, and DISMISSES with prejudice the Sixth Cause of Action to the extent that it is based on the VSRT's Dynamic Warrant Service policy.

An anonymous tip that the defendant had a gun and was planning on using it on someone was sufficient for a frisk when defendant was found where it was said he would be plus his furtive movement. Because the furtive movement occurred in a car, the frisk could extend to the car under Long. United States v. Graham, 483 F.3d 431 (6th Cir. 2007).

Reliance on an arrest warrant justified the arrest. The fact the officer had to use binoculars to better see the defendant did not mean that he lacked probable cause. It was reasonable for the defendant to be ordered out of the car. United States v. Helton, 232 Fed. Appx. 747 (10th Cir. 2007)* (unpublished).

While the question was close, the court finds reasonable suspicion based on the defendant's presence in a high crime area coupled with likely hand-to-hand transactions. United States v. Crawford, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26642 (E.D. Ark. April 10, 2007):

The circumstances in the instant case are more indicative of specific criminal activity than the circumstances in Cornelius. Like the defendant in Cornelius, Crawford was observed in a high-crime area and was recognized as an individual with a criminal history. While Crawford's conduct in exchanging something with another person could have been an innocent act, such conduct is also consistent with drug transactions. Moreover, the exchange took place at night, not during daylight hours. The Court recognizes that the defendant in Cornelius walked in another direction upon seeing the patrol car, and Crawford engaged in no such evasive action. The Eighth Circuit did not discuss this aspect of the defendant's behavior in its analysis, however, focusing instead on the fact that the defendant put his hand in his pocket. See id. (citing United States v. Davis, 202 F.3d 1060, 1063 (8th Cir. 2000), and noting that the suspect in Davis "nervously plac[ed] hand in jacket pocket"). Making an exchange in a parking lot at night is at least as suspicious as placing one's hand in one's pocket while walking down the street in broad daylight.

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