Author Topic: SCOTUS  (Read 7497 times)

random axe

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SCOTUS
« on: April 21, 2009, 02:59:36 PM »
SCOTUS ruled today, 5-4, that the police don't have the right to search your stuff just because you're being arrested.  They apparently have be to plausibly looking for something related to the same crime you're already being arrested for (kind of an important distinction) OR they have to think that the scope of the search covers either evidence you might be about to destroy or a weapon you might be about to use.  This decision is sort of specific to searching your car but seems to have broader implications.

So -- case in point, in fact -- they can't arrest you for driving with a suspended license, put you in the patrol car, and then search your car just because.  It seems to put a considerable damper on incidental discovery.

Weird majority siding together on this one, too.

I have mixed feelings.  I do think the police routinely conduct searches that, constitutionally, are excessive and abusive -- although I don't automatically fault the police, since this is routine procedure.  On the other hand, this will have a major impact on certain kinds of law enforcement.  And the safest way to search a suspect's vehicle is with the suspect safely in custody.  This ruling may very well tempt the police to try to search a vehicle before they take a suspect into custody, which is not safe for anyone involved.

So I dunno.  A hell of a lot of police searches are basically conducted on the grounds that you seem suspicious, and that's distinctly un-American, right there.  On the other hand, the reality is that the cops often can tell perfectly well that you're hiding something, and often it's a pretty big something.  Still, I tend to come down on the side of personal rights.  In theory, the cops can arrest you, impound the vehicle, and get a warrant, but this adds complexity and cost.

I don't know.  There are issues with a search discovering items outside the scope of the warrant.  What about a probable cause search that doesn't use a warrant?

mo

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Re: SCOTUS
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2009, 04:26:48 PM »
 :thud:
It's symbolic of our struggle against reality.

Hedaira

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Re: SCOTUS
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2009, 04:49:32 PM »
I'm more concerned about the scuttlebutt saying they're going to allow strip searches in schools. Ummm OH FUCK NO. No. Get your jackoff material somewhere else. Humiliating and dehumanizing kids is never acceptable and it will never, ever prevent another "Columbine" or any other situation like that. 
If some school administrator stripped my child - they'd never find his/her body. Then I'd make it my life's work to utterly ruin the lives of everyone involved.

Reason #2339 -7ab why I don't have kids: That's not just talk. I'd do it.

edit: citation - http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-scotus-stripsearch22-2009apr22,0,6016774.story
"After walking away from the other people backstage, Justin Bieber found a place where we could be alone -- a bathroom. We went inside and immediately his personality changed drastically. He began touching me and repeatedly said he wanted to fuck the shit out of me."

Hedaira

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Re: SCOTUS
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2009, 04:54:24 PM »
Back OT: Yeah. The search thing is nowhere near cut and dry. Sometimes cops solve cold cases just by blind luck during a random search. I know better than to think that's the rule rather than the exception. I guess it's kind of wait and see.
"After walking away from the other people backstage, Justin Bieber found a place where we could be alone -- a bathroom. We went inside and immediately his personality changed drastically. He began touching me and repeatedly said he wanted to fuck the shit out of me."

mo

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Re: SCOTUS
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2009, 04:56:33 PM »
I'm still researching this, because I can't believe it, but after reading about how the case that caused this decision went down, it's easier to understand the ruling:

Quote
Tuesday's decision stems from the August 1999 arrest of Rodney Gant by the Tucson Police Department. Officers were investigating suspected drug activity at a house in Tucson. They had encountered Mr. Gant at the house earlier in the day.

A records search revealed an outstanding warrant for Gant's arrest for failing to appear on a charge of driving with a suspended license. That evening, Gant was arrested on the outstanding warrant shortly after he parked and exited his car near the house.

Once arrested, Gant was handcuffed and placed in the backseat of a patrol car. The police then searched Gant's car, where they found cocaine and a handgun.

- Christian Science Monitor

The part in bold is missing from several articles I've looked at.

This is similar to what I was talking about with the Border Patrol - the cops are stretching the rules. They wanted to search his car, without probable cause, and used the suspended license as an excuse to search. If they had caught him before he had gotten out of the car, according to this new ruling (if I'm interpreting it correctly) it would have been a legal search, which doesn't seem right either.
It's symbolic of our struggle against reality.

random axe

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Re: SCOTUS
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2009, 05:36:27 PM »
Quote
The part in bold is missing from several articles I've looked at.

Yeah, I'd gotten the impression they'd stopped him while he was driving.  The search still wouldn't have been legal, though, since (A) he couldn't have been reaching for a weapon in the car while he was locked in the back of the cruiser, and (B) they couldn't find anything in the car that would be evidence of the crime they arrested him for.

But the search, as described in your quote, doesn't even make sense from a broad probable cause angle.  I'm surprised it went to the Supreme Court.  Usually, the cops stop you and, if they feel like it, they ask to search your car.  Most people won't say no.  Sometimes they're sneakier and they ask if they would find anything illegal if they did search your car.  If you say yes, well, duh, they have probable cause.  If you say no, then you have less of an excuse not to let them search your car.  (They also often threaten you at that point by saying that it's illegal to lie to an officer during an investigation.)

Legally, if you refuse to let them search your car, that doesn't establish probable cause, but, psychologically, we all know it does, and most people suspect that, at that point, the cops will find some other excuse.


As for the school thing . . . it seems to me to be an issue of the boundaries of loco parentis.  As a parent, you can strip-search your kid, although it might be a bad idea in many cases.  As a school administrator, that's some damned risky territory.  I can even imagine a principal telling a kid to either strip for the school nurse or else be suspended for the day, but actually strip-searching the kid yourself?  No way.

The SCOTUS justices lose 10 billion points for arguing that the search was justified because kids might hide stuff in their underwear.  That's not how civil rights work, man.  There is not probable cause just because you are capable of committing a crime.  Kennedy and Breyer argue outright that school officials don't need to have any reason to suspect that the kid might've hidden something in his or her underwear . . . because it's something kids might do.  It's "a logical thing" to expect, because kids do that kind of thing.  Generalizing guilt based on group association?  Screw you.

Souter argues that it's better to embarrass one student than sicken or kill several.  Yeah, but you're setting a precedent to allow the needless and useless embarrassment of all students.

The Justice Department seems to have the right idea on this one.  The court seems to be way off, but maybe they're just screwing with us -- they haven't ruled yet, right?

And if it were my kid, you'd better believe that school official would not be a school official for long or ever be one again.  Personally, I'd consider it a sexual assault on the kid.

mo

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Re: SCOTUS
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2009, 06:34:45 PM »
Quote
The part in bold is missing from several articles I've looked at.

Yeah, I'd gotten the impression they'd stopped him while he was driving.  The search still wouldn't have been legal, though, since (A) he couldn't have been reaching for a weapon in the car while he was locked in the back of the cruiser, and (B) they couldn't find anything in the car that would be evidence of the crime they arrested him for.

But the search, as described in your quote, doesn't even make sense from a broad probable cause angle.  I'm surprised it went to the Supreme Court.  Usually, the cops stop you and, if they feel like it, they ask to search your car.  Most people won't say no.  Sometimes they're sneakier and they ask if they would find anything illegal if they did search your car.  If you say yes, well, duh, they have probable cause.  If you say no, then you have less of an excuse not to let them search your car.  (They also often threaten you at that point by saying that it's illegal to lie to an officer during an investigation.)

Legally, if you refuse to let them search your car, that doesn't establish probable cause, but, psychologically, we all know it does, and most people suspect that, at that point, the cops will find some other excuse.

I just got finished reading the thirty-something page decision/opions, so I'm kinda  :trance:

I think the shit is going to hit the fan as news of this spreads. What a mess. I can't believe they did this. While I agree with the sentiment behind it, the ruling just doesn't make sense and it's not workable.

The law has been that if you're arrested in your car, they're allowed to search the area within your reach without your consent or a warrant for anything, whether it's relative to the crime or not. The reason for the allowance of the intrusion was to prevent the destruction of evidence, and for the protection of the police.  The "area of reach" wasn't clear enough, so they came up with the ruling that the entire interior of your car could be searched. I never read anything about the trunk being mentioned - it seems like that's off limits, and that surprises me. I thought they routinely searched trunks whenever they searched the rest of the car. The Justices in favor of today's ruling say that last ruling was being abused, and that cars were being searched only because the owner had been arrested, not based on concern that evidence might be destroyed, or that the police might be in danger. That part, I understand.

So now, they can search your car if you are within reaching distance of the car, but are not handcuffed, or if there's reason to believe (they did not use the phrase "probable cause") there may be evidence in the car related to the offense for which the person has been arrested. I just don't get it. Maybe I'm just not reading it right. They talk funny  :P Here's the gist of the ruling in their own words. Most of the opinion is arguing about the other two previous rulings.

Quote
Police may search a vehicle incident to a recent occu­pant’s arrest only if the arrestee is within reaching dis­tance of the passenger compartment at the time of the search or it is reasonable to believe the vehicle contains evidence of the offense of arrest.  When these justifications are absent, a search of an arrestee’s vehicle will be unrea­sonable unless police obtain a warrant or show that an­ other exception to the warrant requirement applies.

This can't stand like this for very long. It's just one of those odd occurrences in law. Another case will have to come up to clarify this, and it probably won't take long. It may be a step in the right direction though. The cops are going to blame the court, but really they've got themselves to blame. Well, maybe it's 50-50.
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Talix

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Re: SCOTUS
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2009, 08:46:45 AM »
If some school administrator stripped my child - they'd never find his/her body. Then I'd make it my life's work to utterly ruin the lives of everyone involved.

Reason #2339 -7ab why I don't have kids: That's not just talk. I'd do it.

THAT.

And if for some reason I couldn't do it, I would be driven stark raving mad off the cliff of my own lack of balls.
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random axe

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Re: SCOTUS
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2009, 10:02:55 AM »
Quote
Police may search a vehicle incident to a recent occupant?s arrest only if the arrestee is within reaching distance of the passenger compartment at the time of the search or it is reasonable to believe the vehicle contains evidence of the offense of arrest.  When these justifications are absent, a search of an arrestee?s vehicle will be unreasonable unless police obtain a warrant or show that another exception to the warrant requirement applies.

Actually, phrased that way, I think it's pretty clear and pretty reasonable.  It's just saying they can't go on a fishing expedition in order to establish evidence of a crime that they have no adequate reason to suspect has been committed.  In other words, just because you're apparently guilty (enough for you to be arrested) of one crime doesn't mean you give up your civil rights and can have your car searched just in case you happen to be guilty of something else that they haven't discovered yet.

As for searching the trunk . . . well, the problem is the issue of justification.  That's always going to need clarification.  If they're standing outside the car but can see a pot pipe sitting on the floor in front of the passenger seat, then they have some cause to search the car.  In some areas the trunk immediately becomes fair game, and in some it doesn't. 

The question is more like . . . if they think you're acting suspicious, does that justify a search?  What constitutes acting suspicious?  Any normal person would be nervous if the cops told them they wanted to search their car.  And while I'd agree that cops can often intuitively tell when, yes, something's going on, believe me when I tell you that cops tend to hugely overestimate their own ability to do so.  (Most people do, but having that job tends to amplify your suspicions, etc.)

I've gotta tell you, I've never transitively transported drugs in any vehicle I've owned.  I'm not 100% sure I've never had a passenger who was holding.  I've had minor things in my car that were technically illegal (a spring baton, for instance).  I want a guy who's got a trunk full of heroin to get caught, but I don't want the cops searching my car just because they're curious.

In fact, frankly, I think the whole Reason to Stop philosophy currently epidemic among police organizations in this country is strongly un-American and a bad, bad idea.  My friend who's a cop has mixed feelings about it, which I understand, but . . . .

Err on the side of liberty, not security, when it comes down to the line.

Dr. Leonard HmofCoy

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Re: SCOTUS
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2009, 11:02:09 AM »
I'm sorry but every time I see this thread I think SCROTUM

and I'm not wrong, am I
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feffer

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Re: SCOTUS
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2009, 11:18:47 AM »
Well, it is mostly scrotum.
Cause you're so beautiful
Like a tree
Or a high-class prostitute
You're so beautiful
Mmm, you could be a part-time model
But you'd probably have to keep your normal job

random axe

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Re: SCOTUS
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2009, 11:42:51 AM »
I actually hate the POTUS and SCOTUS acronyms, but I also hate typing 'Supreme Court' over'n'over.

:shrug:

Dr. Leonard HmofCoy

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Re: SCOTUS
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2009, 11:49:58 AM »
Well, it is mostly scrotum.

All scrotum: no balls.
"Parasitic wasps laying eggs in other insects is a better love story than Twilight." - :bitzero:
"Anyhow, it was the best sentient food movie since Killer Tomatoes Eat France." - :flipper:
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"It failed. My enemies have been purged." - Sidious
"It's not like there was ever a time I didn't think Rudy Giuliani was a smug gibbering imbecile." - random axe
"*drags taint* Oh cool, I didn't know you could do that." - mo.d

random axe

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Re: SCOTUS
« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2009, 11:57:54 AM »
!



Now you just have to work a teabagging reference into that.  Maybe with a dangling participle.

Dr. Leonard HmofCoy

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Re: SCOTUS
« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2009, 12:16:49 PM »
:galm:

This is relevant to our interests in this thread. It's a fascinating conundrum. The police wish to assert the right to stop and arrest anyone they want any time they want to for the flimsiest of excuses (and generally they do get their way), but in this case it's in direct conflict with the second amendment. I personally think the second amendment is a bunch of horseshit and should be repealed, but while it's the law of the land it allows people to do shit like this and the police have no right to harass them for it. Let's see what happens when this issue reaches the SCROTUM. It'll be like the irresistable force meeting the immovable object!
"Parasitic wasps laying eggs in other insects is a better love story than Twilight." - :bitzero:
"Anyhow, it was the best sentient food movie since Killer Tomatoes Eat France." - :flipper:
"lee marvin in drag is no way to spread the gospel, son." - TFJ
"It failed. My enemies have been purged." - Sidious
"It's not like there was ever a time I didn't think Rudy Giuliani was a smug gibbering imbecile." - random axe
"*drags taint* Oh cool, I didn't know you could do that." - mo.d