- D.Nev.: Affidavits for SWs don’t have to prove the underlying crimes
- D.V.I.: Flyover of curtilage from navigable airspace was reasonable
- NJ: Disputes in the facts on appeal show trial court should have held a hearing
- NY: Second SW for phone a year later after first SW failed to show PC wasn’t timely
- GA: Not objecting to mention of “probation” search at trial was not IAC
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by John Wesley Hall
Criminal Defense Lawyer and
Search and seizure law consultant
Little Rock, Arkansas
Contact: forhall @ aol.com / The Book
online since Feb. 24, 2003 Approx. 350,000 visits (non-robot) since 2012 Approx. 45,000 posts since 2003 (25,700+ on WordPress as of 12/31/22)
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"If it was easy, everybody would be doing it. It isn't, and they don't."
“I am still learning.”
—Domenico Giuntalodi (but misattributed to Michelangelo Buonarroti (common phrase throughout 1500's)).
"Love work; hate mastery over others; and avoid intimacy with the government."
—Shemaya, in the Thalmud
"It is a pleasant world we live in, sir, a very pleasant world. There are bad people in it, Mr. Richard, but if there were no bad people, there would be no good lawyers."
—Charles Dickens, “The Old Curiosity Shop ... With a Frontispiece. From a Painting by Geo. Cattermole, Etc.” 255 (1848)
"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 property."
—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 Amendment."
—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!”"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."
---Pepé Le Pew
—Johnson v. United States, 333 U.S. 10, 13-14 (1948)
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Category Archives: Mail and packages
M.D.Ga.: No standing in packages sent to one’s address but with all different names on them
Defendant failed to show standing in packages searched coming to an address he claimed as his “primary address,” but the addressee and sender were not him. United States v. Williams, 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26755 (M.D. Ga. Feb. 16, 2023). … Continue reading
D.Conn.: Govt’s mere allegation def has possessory interest in package doesn’t give him standing; he still has to show it
Defendant can’t rely on the government’s representation they believe he has a possessory interest in a parcel. He has to show it, and here he did not. United States v. Franco, 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18256 (D. Conn. Feb. 3, … Continue reading
IL: Officers executing SW lawfully seized gun in plain view
The trial court erred in suppressing evidence. The officers were lawfully on the premises with a warrant when a gun was seen in plain view. People v. Serrato, 2023 IL App (2d) 220100, 2023 Ill. App. LEXIS 3 (Jan. 6, … Continue reading
OH: Opening car door was to secure uncooperative def, not search; plain view valid
Opening the car door was not for the purpose of searching; it was to secure the uncooperative defendant. During the interaction, evidence in plain view was seen and the officer then could enter the car to secure it. State v. … Continue reading
NC: Dog sniff of package in mail stream reasonable
A dog sniff of a package in the mail stream is reasonable. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy from a dog sniff there. State v. Teague, 2022-NCCOA-600, 2022 N.C. App. LEXIS 748 (Nov. 1, 2022). Defendants’ motion in limine … Continue reading
CA5: USPS letter carrier not a 4A govt actor
A regular USPS letter carrier is not a governmental actor the Fourth Amendment governs. Here, her thumb slipped through a preexisting hole in a package she was delivering, and she became suspicious it contained drugs and wouldn’t leave it at … Continue reading
NY Bronx: REP in one’s apartment building mailbox
Defendant had a reasonable expectation of privacy in his mailbox in an apartment building from unreasonable searches. A search warrant was sought through the Bronx DA, but they were short staffed and recommended the officers get landlord consent. That was … Continue reading
MI directs its CoA to consider application of exclusionary rule in zoning case
The Michigan Supreme Court remanded Long Lake Twp. v. Maxon, 2021 Mich. App. LEXIS 1819 (Mar. 18, 2021) (posted here) to determine below whether the exclusionary rule should apply in a zoning case. Long Lake Twp. v. Maxon, 2022 Mich. … Continue reading
D.D.C.: No RS for sniff of luggage carried by Amtrak passenger
On the whole, there wasn’t reasonable suspicion for the dog sniff of the luggage they were carrying. Moreover, the court does not find they consented to it. The court declines to credit the testimony of the officer about nervousness and … Continue reading
D.Mass.: Pretrial inmate mail was subject to search even though inmate handbook didn’t discuss it
While the pretrial inmate handbook didn’t say that outgoing mail was subject to inspection, the Supreme Court held in Stroud in 1919 that such searches were reasonable. And this one was too. United States v. Polanco, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS … Continue reading
CA5: 17-day delay of package for investigation and SW was still reasonable
This 17-day delay in holding a package for investigation and developing probable cause for a search warrant was not unreasonable. There was reasonable suspicion for the initial detention, and, despite the delay, it was still reasonable. United States v. Martinez, … Continue reading
W.D.Ky.: Confiscation of legal mail in prison is a 1A claim, not a 4A
“Because it is the First and Fourteenth Amendment, and not the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure that protects against the reading and confiscation of legal mail by prison officials, the Court will dismiss Plaintiff’s Fourth Amendment claim … Continue reading
M.D.Pa.: Stopping UPS truck for dog sniff of packages wasn’t unreasonable
Of two coconspirators in a package containing drugs, the named sender has standing but the coconspirator does not. Stopping the UPS truck for a dog sniff of the packages did not interfere with any reasonable expectation of privacy. Besides, there … Continue reading
OH6: No standing in a package stopped in transit where def’s name not anywhere on it
Defendant lacked standing to contest the detention of a package in transit in the Post Office because he was neither shown as the addressee nor the recipient. Even so, there was reasonable suspicion to detain the package. The dog sniff … Continue reading
E.D.N.Y.: For § 1988 fee shifting, SCOTUS expert fees not awarded, only local rate
The fact expert Fourth Amendment counsel would have charged the client $1,000-1,800 before SCOTUS isn’t binding on the district court for fee shifting. The local rate is what’s reasonable. Agudath Israel of America v. Hochul, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 233088 … Continue reading
N.D.Ohio: One day delay of package in transit was reasonable
Defendant lacked standing to challenge the search of a parcel of drugs. “Even if Defendant could challenge the delay of delivering the Target Parcel, his argument fails. While ‘theoretically’ the ‘detention of mail could at some point become an unreasonable … Continue reading
CA5: Five day delay and rerouting of package for search was reasonable
United States Postal Inspection Service and Department of Homeland Security officers reasonably suspected the package coming to defendant contained contraband. There was difficulty locating the package in the “mail stream.” They finally got to it before delivery and had it … Continue reading
W.D.Mo.: Even if pretextual, this stop was otherwise reasonable
The traffic stop here was reasonable even if pretextual. United States v. Brown, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155885 (W.D.Mo. July 30, 2021).* There was justification for defendant’s stop: driving 100 mph and other traffic violations. United States v. Young, 2021 … Continue reading
CA8: Taking box off FedEx conveyor belt for dog sniff didn’t deprive FedEx of custody
Moving a suspicious looking box from the FedEx conveyor belt to a back room for a dog sniff did not require reasonable suspicion nor did it deprive FedEx of custody of the box. The dog alert provided justification for a … Continue reading