The Campaign For DA


Law Stuff

Interesting case heard by the Supreme Court this morning. The Exclusionary Rule "says" that if the police violate the law, any evidence they find as a result of that violation cannot be used the defendant. For example, if the cops search my car without consent or probable cause, anything they find can't be used against me. (Note to DPS: I promise I've got nothing illegal in my car. I keep that stuff locked up elsewhere.)

Anyway, the case heard today had this strange twist: The law in the State of Virginia is that the police can only issue a summons (ticket) for misdemeanor offenses and cannot arrest the person committing the offense. In this case, the cop screwed up, arrested the defendant for a driver's license violation (a misdemeanor), and then searched him incident to the arrest. Oops. The defendant had decided to carry around some dope with him. Cops find it. He gets charged with dope possession.

The Government is arguing today that so long as a cop has probable cause to believe a crime was committed (and it is undisputed that probable cause existed on the driver's license violation), then the evidence should not be excluded. I'm not real sure I understand it, but lots of lower courts around the nation have bought into that argument.

It's amazing we've sunk this low.

But the above snippet from Justice Scalia was gold. Scalia, no friend of civil rights, asked the government's lawyer this hypothetical: If he (Scalia) had probable cause to believe his neighbor was growing marijuana and he went over to the house, searched it, found marijuana, and then arrested his neighbor (which he has no authority to do), then the government's lawyer believes that the marijuana found in the home could be used against the neighbor? Yep, the government's lawyer said.

Then the above occurred.


Anonymous said...

i>It's amazing we've sunk this low.<-i> Thanks George, you idiot. Nine eleven, nine eleven, nine eleven, nine eleven, nine eleven, nine eleven, nine eleven........... blech.

Anonymous said...

I don't get your post there 4:50 ole buddy. I don't think that one went where you thought it would!

Anonymous said...

Who could be surprised in the United Socialists Of America.
The control is complete and has been for years. Thing like this just make it official.

george orwell jr. said...

Uh, 6:26... If the control is so complete, how come I still do most anything I want with few repercussions? OK the various governments do tend to stick their sticky little hands in my pockets for some money overmuch, but that's mostly because I have so much to spare I guess. No, my friend, if you feel controlled it is because you have willingly given over that control by parking your dumb ass in front of that TV excessively. You gladly let yourself be brainwashed AND EVEN PAID FOR IT YOURSELF! But it wasn't the government that done it to you, Goober, it was corporate America. And you happily participated right through The Simpsons, American Idol, NFL FOOball, Oprah, etc. etc.

rpm said...

Think of the children!!!

Anonymous said...

The issue seems to be that an officer does not need "probable cause" to pat down a violator for the purpose of the officer's safety. He can also search at arm's length from the driver seat of a vehicle for the same reason. If evidence of another crime is found, the officer must make an arrest. Those actions have already been accepted by the USSC, so what is the difference in the issue they are now hearing?

Barry Green said...

Because this wasn't a pre-arrest "pat down" case. The evidence was found after an arrest pursuant to a "search incident to the arrest."

You're right about the pat down law but that's not the situation here. And, careful, you can't go and search the inside of pockets during a pat down search (unless you feel what could reasonably considered drugs or a weapon during the initial pat down - the so called "plain feel" doctrine.)