A police show of force at an “armed party” where several officers converged and at least one had a gun drawn on the group was a seizure. Under Florida v. J.L. there is no firearms exception to the reasonable suspicion requirement. Here, there was none on this anonymous report. Without articulable reasonable suspicion, the court would be sanctioning general searches on the street. State v. Williamson, 368 S.W.3d 468 (Tenn. 2012), revg State v. Williamson, 2011 Tenn. Crim. App. LEXIS 656 (August 19, 2011):
Since the Court's decision in J.L., its principles have been applied in a variety of cases on both the federal and state levels. Recently, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit addressed the denial of a motion to suppress under facts similar to those before this Court today. In United States v. Massenburg, 654 F.3d 480 (4th Cir. 2011), police received an anonymous phone call alleging that eight shots had been fired in "a high-crime area." Id. at 482-83. As in this case, there was no description of the suspect. Id. at 483. One of the officers who responded to the call saw four young black men walking a few blocks from where the shots were allegedly fired. Id. ... The district court upheld the propriety of the stop and frisk .... The Fourth Circuit reversed, first emphasizing that in order to justify a frisk, "the Constitution requires 'a particularized and objective basis for suspecting the particular person stopped of criminal activity.'" Id. at 486 (quoting United States v. Griffin, 589 F.3d 148, 152 (4th Cir. 2009)). The court found "precious little" to demonstrate that the officer "had reasonable, particularized suspicion ... such that a non[-]consensual frisk was lawful under the Fourth Amendment," holding that the anonymous tip neither provided any predictive information about the suspect nor tested the knowledge or credibility of the informant. Massenburg, 654 F.3d at 486-87. In addition, the court found that the tip's reliability was undermined because it did not include a "physical description of the perpetrators or any other outward identifying features," meaning that "the only link between the tip and Massenburg's group was [their] rough proximity to the alleged site of the gunfire." Id. at 487. Finally, the court observed that the location of the incident in a high-crime area failed to bolster the credibility or reliability of the anonymous tip. Id. at 488. "To hold otherwise," the court ruled,
would be to authorize general searches of persons on the street not unlike those conducted of old by the crown against the colonists. Allowing officers to stop and frisk any individuals in the neighborhood after even the most generic of anonymous tips would be tantamount to permitting a regime of general searches of virtually any individual residing in or found in high-crime neighborhoods, where complaints of random gunfire in the night are all too usual.
Id. (alteration in original) (internal quotation marks omitted).
. . .
Based upon our review of J.L., and the numerous cases with comparable facts, we conclude that the anonymous tip to the Covington police was insufficient to support the stop and frisk of the Defendant. The unidentified 911 caller, whose complaint was relayed to the various officers by dispatch, contained only an allegation that an armed individual was outside a particular room at the Baxter Motel. The content of the tip provided even less support for a stop and frisk than that in J.L., as there was no description of the suspect, much less "predictive information," which would allow police "to test the informant's knowledge or credibility." 529 U.S. at 271; ... Because of the lack of descriptive information, as in Massenburg, "the only link between the tip" and the Defendant was his proximity to Room 21. 654 F.3d at 486-87.9 In Gomes, the tip at issue was substantially more detailed than the one before this Court, including a description of the suspect's appearance, the make and color of his car, in addition to the allegation that he was "holding a gun in the air" in a high-crime area, 937 N.E.2d at 14, yet the court determined that it was insufficient. In comparison, the tip in this case falls far short of providing sufficiently probative information.
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"A system of law that not only makes certain conduct criminal, but also lays
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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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—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
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—Martin Niemöller (1945) [he served seven years in a concentration camp]
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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)