April 21, 2015

"Supreme Court respects Fourth Amendment, protecting meth heads."

The headline at Kos.
Yes, this one breaks down mostly as you'd expect, if you follow the Court on these matters.  Justice Ginsburg wrote the opinion of the Court, including the Chief Justice and Justices Scalia, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan.  Yes, they acknowledge, officers can do additional tasks which are required for their safety, or which don't prolong the stop, but that's where the line is drawn:
Traffic stops are “especially fraught with danger to police officers,” so an officer may need to take certain negligibly burdensome precautions in order to complete his mission safely. On-scene investigation into other crimes, however, detours from that mission. So too do safety precautions taken in order to facilitate such detours. Thus, even assuming that the imposition here was no more intrusive than the exit order in Mimms, the dog sniff could not be justified on the same basis. Highway and officer safety are interests different in kind from the Government’s endeavor to detect crime in general or drug trafficking in particular.
But what if they do that search really really quickly, asks Eric Holder? No!, responds the Court....
There are 3 dissenters: Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito.

72 comments:

mccullough said...

I'm surprised Breyer didn't side with the police. He's pretty weak on the 4th Amendment

MayBee said...

My take:

If traffic stops are so fraught for police, they should stop pulling people over for stupid stuff.

Like "broken tail lights", rolling stops, 5 mph over the speed limit, and not wearing seatbelts.

I appreciate the police, but the fact they are so very willing to pull you over seems to bely the idea they find it so dangerous.

MayBee said...

I'm floored that liberal lawyer Adam Bonin and liberal Daily Kos is actually against this ruling.

That is really a turn toward the un-liberal, isn't it?

Richard Fagin said...

This case is difficult. The Burger court and the Rehnquist court seemed to side with the police in cases where criminal evidence was found almost as a matter of luck if any ground at all was present for avoiding the 4th amendment. Could the police in the present case have avoided the 4th amendment issue by using drug-sniffing dogs on all traffic stops? Case law on driver sobriety check points suggests that it could; non-universally applied checkpoint stops have been held to be a 4th amendment violation without some other qualifying justification for the traffic stop at issue.

SteveBrooklineMA said...

I agree officers should be able to do tasks required for their safety.

But what does time have to do with it, as far as constitutionality is concerned? If the officer has a pit-stop investigation team with him, then anything goes? X-ray the trunk? Swab and test for explosives? DNA analysis? Analysis of latent fingerprints?

It seems absurd to me. Either the officer had probable cause to dog-sniff the car or he didn't.

Coupe said...

What a complete waste of Supreme Court time.

This decision is like dotting an 'i' in a sentence that will be edited-out by a professional anyway.

Michael K said...

I had an amusing session with the "drug police" one time and described it here.

William said...

This is a crazy ruling. It was the middle of the night, a dangerous time. The officer wanted to protect himself prior to letting the dog do its thing.

It is unconscionable that the justices would rule in favor off the meth heads. What a crappy precedent this sets.

The world has gone mad.

Brando said...

"I appreciate the police, but the fact they are so very willing to pull you over seems to bely the idea they find it so dangerous."

Absolutely. The "we're going to search a bit more just to make sure the officers are safe" excuse has been stretched quite a bit to justify fishing for more evidence of any crime. There's got to be a limit between taking reasonable precautions to keep the arresting officer safe, and giving carte blanche to expand the search to troll for more evidence when there's no probable cause.

Ann Althouse said...

"I'm floored that liberal lawyer Adam Bonin and liberal Daily Kos is actually against this ruling."

Did I miss something? He is?

Ann Althouse said...

The case goes back to the court below to determine if there was reasonable suspicion. The police can still win, just not on this ground.

There was other evidence of drugs, so that needs to be analyzed.

Rusty said...

Perhaps if the police were relieved of the burden of using their jobs to raise revenue, I'd be more inclined to be sympathetic.

Nah.

AReasonableMan said...

I own dogs. Dogs are unusually anxious to please. I don't trust anyone who is extremely anxious to please and will take any cue to give you what you want.

At some point in the future, the use of drug sniffing dogs will be as reputable as hair analysis.

readering said...

There are two issues. One is search, the other is seizure. The Court earlier decided that a dog sniff is not a search (go figure). But it also held, based on the Constitution, that the police can't seize someone without a reasonable suspicion of a crime, which in the case of traffic stops is something more than the basis for the stop (speeding, erratic driving, etc). Keeping the car after you've finished writing up the ticket is a seizure. The constitution says the police can't do that without a reasonable suspicion of a crime. The government tried to argue that here there actually was a reasonable suspicion of another crime, but the premise of the decision was that there wasn't.

MayBee said...

Althouse- perhaps I am misreading his article?

I Callahan said...

I don't trust anyone who is extremely anxious to please and will take any cue to give you what you want.

For a guy who supposedly owns dogs, you sure don't understand them. Dogs are much more 2 dimensional than humans - the risk/reward thing is set in black and white. Dogs don't fake finding drugs because they want to please their masters. They don't get the reward UNLESS they find the drugs.

The degree to which dogs are fallible is a good point, and I don't know enough about this particular case, but in Mike K's situation, this is to be blamed on the handler for either not knowing what signal her dog gave her, or for lying through her teeth.

I trust the dog in this situation way before the human. The dog isn't concerned about increasing their arrest record.

I Callahan said...

Althouse- perhaps I am misreading his article?

Maybee - I got the same impression as you did that the lawyer disagreed with the ruling. Why make the snide point about "meth heads" if you agree with the ruling?

AReasonableMan said...

I Callahan said...
For a guy who supposedly owns dogs, you sure don't understand them. Dogs are much more 2 dimensional than humans - the risk/reward thing is set in black and white.


While I agree with some of what you wrote, reward learning will not extinguished or even greatly compromised by an occasional deviation to obtain another form of reward, such as the master's approval. I think you are underestimating the value of this particular reward to the dog. Left to itself I agree that the dog is more reliable than the human, but in combination, not so much.



Anonymous said...

Wow. I wonder if it violates the 4th amendment if an officer smells the dope himself. What's the difference?

Ann Althouse said...

"Maybee - I got the same impression as you did that the lawyer disagreed with the ruling. Why make the snide point about "meth heads" if you agree with the ruling?"

Humor. Drug-friendly humor.

Kristian Holvoet said...

Given the recent revelation about 'expert' witness errors in the analysis of hair and fibers, how are we to trust the 'expert' witness of an dog that can't even speak?

tim maguire said...

MayBee said...
My take:

If traffic stops are so fraught for police, they should stop pulling people over for stupid stuff.


I'm in full agreement. The reality is, police work is not dangerous. This is a canard wheeled out every few years during contract negotiations and it's disturbing (though not surprising) to see it mindlessly repeated in a Supreme Court judgment, even one that ultimately goes the right way.

Brando said...

"The reality is, police work is not dangerous."

I wouldn't go so far as to say "not dangerous" but clearly not as dangerous as they make out as a justification for behavior that can be abusive or even deadly to the citizens they're dealing with. Did the cops have to put dozens of bullets into a guy when he was reaching for something that might have been a weapon? When the cops say "we had to be sure he wasn't going to shoot us" society often gives them free rein to do these things, and don't question them enough.

It's less safe being a pizza delivery man or cabbie in some neighborhoods than being a cop--yet these same cops (who favor gun control) would happily arrest any cabbie or pizza deliverer found with a weapon for self defense.

lgv said...

"I'm surprised Breyer didn't side with the police. He's pretty weak on the 4th Amendment"

Yes, and a bit surprise by the Kennedy dissent.

Bruce Hayden said...

I should be on the side of the police here. But I am not. The problem is that a lot of police go through their careers essentially cheating. You have to put this sort of limits on them, because many of them are pushing whatever limits you place on them.

On multiple occasions through my life, I have had to deal with cops making pretextual stops. For example, one night, on a lonely stretch of road, maybe 3 or 4 in the morning, I pulled into a left turn only lane, then ultimately, at the light, turned left. I did not use my blinker, after getting in the lane. The state trooper admitted that he would have pulled me over if I had not turned left. But, I did turn left, and he pulled me over, and checked me for DUI. When I refused to take the roadside sobriety test, he hauled me into the station, about 5 miles away, and forced me to take a breath test (which I passed). He then left me to find my way back home (or to the car). That was as a 50+ year old attorney. It was much worse when I was younger.

A lot of the stops they make of young males in particular are pretextual. They want a chance to sniff the car, to check the occupants, and to run their driver's licenses. The traffic violation is the pretext, and they rarely would pull someone over for these minor offenses otherwise. (In my case above, I am pretty sure that the cop was pulling over most every vehicle he saw out that late).

So, what we have with the drug sniffing dogs at traffic stops is the police pushing the envelope. They make a pretextual stop, then, if the drugs they know are in the car, are not obviously visible, they need to get the dogs to alert for probable cause, so that they can take the car apart. But, the courts are making this harder and harder to do, by calling BS on their excuses for delaying the completion of the stops. First, they were caught delaying until the dogs arrived. This time, they thought that they could leverage working quickly to give themselves the time for the dog sniff. But, as the majority essentially noted - they should have been working that fast to start with.

Bruce Hayden said...

The problem with drug sniffing dogs is that they are not nearly as accurate as their advocates would suggest. The big problem is that they can read their handlers, and if their handlers want an alert, they are likely to get one.

Yes, when their handlers do not have an incentive to have their dogs alert, they can be reasonably effective in detecting illegal drugs. Last week, we went through drug dog screening twice - but in those cases, the goal was to actually detect drugs, and not to generate probable cause for a search that the police really want to do, but cannot, absent that probable cause. It is the confusing of these two cases, where the dogs are being used to detect drugs, and to generate probable cause, that makes this issue interesting. Dogs are decent at detecting drugs - as long as that is their real (and not superficial) job.

robother said...

I'm sure the cop sensed that he was in imminent danger of the dog pooping in the back seat if he didn't walk him around the perp's car at the end of the traffic bust. Only a cat person could fail to see the reasonability of that.

Now we see the real bitter divide in our SCOTUS: 6 cat people to 3 dog owners. The majority opinion is simple rationalization of their anti-dog bias.


J. Farmer said...

Just as an aside, as someone who has experimented with crystal methamphetamine, most of what you hear about the dangers of that drug are overblown hype. Likening the freakshows that make the TV headlines to the average meth user is like saying winos who live on the streets are the typical alcohol user.

Anonymous said...

"Police work is not dangerous" says those who aren't police and have no idea what they are talking about.

I've been assaulted or in assaultive situations, in multiple situations with bad guys shooting guns, seen many officers badly beaten and bruised (especially female officers), even accidents of being hurt because officers weren't paying attention and heavy equipment and vehicles running into or over officers.

Police work is very dangerous. Unless perhaps you're Andy Griffith.

On the southern border? Very dangerous.

J. Farmer said...

@Eric:

It is a dangerous job but not as dangerous as it is often made out to be (usually to excuse some bit of law enforcement malfeasance). Loggers, roofers, and power-line installers/repairers all face more dangerous working conditions than law enforcement officers.

Jason said...

Eric, I've seen many occasions where the cop had the beating coming.

Just sayin'


Anonymous said...

J farmer,

Lots of people have dangerous jobs. One persons job doesn't say anything about another persons job. Its inaccurate to say a police officer doesn't have a dangerous job.

While its true that over 95% of the people we deal with regularly are fine, uostanding, non criminal, citizens, we inevitably deal with criminals.

And if someone tells you dealing with criminals isn't dangerous, they are lying.

The overwhelming majority of illegal aliens I deal with are good people. Sure, they are illegal aliens, but they are friendly, kind, hard working, God fearing people.

But I still have to be ready for the few illegal aliens who aren't. Otherwise, I'm a careless fool who can be needlessly injured.

Anonymous said...

Jason,

That's why we are so heavily armed. People like you think we have it coming.

MayBee said...

I do think police have dangerous jobs.
At the very least, they have signed up to step into a dangerous situation if one occurs, even if their usual beat is not dangerous.

But I'd rather they focus on doing things like protecting me from the dangerous things than stopping people for minor traffic violations. And if it truly puts them in harm's way, it sounds like it would be better for the police as well.

J. Farmer said...

@Eric:

"And if someone tells you dealing with criminals isn't dangerous, they are lying."

First five words from my comment: "it is a dangerous job"

I am not denying that. I happen to work in mental health with juvenile justice and child welfare, and I interact with law enforcement and criminal justice types on a regular basis. That said, there are various metrics for measuring the "dangerousness" of a job, and there are many jobs that are objectively more dangerous than law enforcement, and I gave a few examples.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Kristian Holvoet said...
Given the recent revelation about 'expert' witness errors in the analysis of hair and fibers, how are we to trust the 'expert' witness of an dog that can't even speak?


Can't speak? On the contrary: PC Peach Witness Statement

MayBee said...

My son was pulled over because his "tail light was out".
He was driving a friend, who was 21, and who had purchased alcohol. My son, who was 1 month away from turning 21, was not drinking, had not been drinking, the container wasn't open, and it was not in my son's hands.
Yet he got an alcohol-related ticket. Had to go to a few AA meetings to get the infraction off his record. Had to pay a large fine. Made a nice tidy sum for the state, even though he was doing the right thing and being the designated driver.

Anyway, after the cop gave him the ticket, he turned and said, "Oh. It looks like your taillight is working again".

It's infuriating. If it's dangerous for the cops, how about they stop doing shit like that?

Robert Cook said...

"If it's dangerous for the cops, how about they stop doing shit like that?"

The police must meet quotas of giving citations, as the revenue derived therefrom makes up significant percentages of the budgets in any municipality...as does asset forfeiture seizures, i.e., tyrannical legalized theft by the authorities of the cash and personal property of the citizenry.

Lucien said...

Well, I guess that, given how accurate the FBI is with expert testimony, cop could ever get a dog to a"alert" falsely. could they?

JCCamp said...

The somewhat inane comments here aside, the court has considered the following: an officer saw a vehicle with 2 occupants driving suspiciously, in the course of which it committed at least one violation. He stopped the vehicle and asked for a back-up officer. During the contact with the 2 occupants, he became suspicious that the men were transporting contraband. He continued with his traffic violation protocol, and only when the back-up arrived and he could do so safely, ran the dog around the outside of the car. The dog alerted, and the officers discovered some $25,000 worth of meth, because the men were indeed transporting large quantities of meth, Job well done? Well, no. Apparently not. And according to the comments here, the cop is lying, looking for his quota, trying to seize assets, triggered the alert falsely, made up the traffic violation, didn't need a back-up because there was no danger, etc etc.
Yeah, sure, that can happen at times. But the usual deal is the cop is telling the truth, did things correctly, and actually served some valid purpose, like here. Drugs were removed from commerce and the dealers removed from society for a time.

JCCamp said...

But since the 8CA didn't consider whether the cop had sufficient reason to extend the stop based on his suspicions, the case goes back for further review, which raises the question: Why did the SC feel it needed to decide at all? It created a new rule while admitting it did not have all the factual issues resolved.
Thanks a lot.

JCCamp said...

@ Tim Maguire -
It is true that there are other occupations with higher rates of accidental death than law enforcement. However, i believe that there is perhaps only one other occupation with a higher rate of missed work due to on-job injury (forget what that is now), and there is no other occupation with a higher rate of death or injury from deliberate assault. So, while being a commercial fisherman may have a higher risk of death from accident, one does not have to worry about every fish you come in contact with suddenly assaulting you with a dangerous weapon. That is a signifcant difference. So, when being a logger means having to look behind a tree for someone with a gun or knife, then there may be some basis for comparison. Walking up to a car all by yourself is spooky, but cops do it all the time. Taking your K9 into a dark yard searching for an armed felon is also pretty scary, but K9 handlers do it on regularly in urban settings. Drawing equivalency between that and a chain saw accident just doesn't ring true.

Bobby said...

I wish JCCamp had gone to law school. He sure does know so much more than these stupid Supreme Court Justices.

JCCamp said...

@ Brude Hayden -

"...deal with cops making pretextual stops..."

Getting a little off topic here, but legally, there is no such thing as a pretextual stop. Either someone committed a violation, or they did not. If they did, the police can stop that person lawfully, and need not have any other justification. It matters not if the cops are interested in that driver or car for some other reason. Period.

If you commit a traffic violation, complaining that the cops had some other ulterior motive for stopping you is a waste of time.

If you cops really think you're a bank robber, it doesn't give you immunity from speeding. Seen that way, it makes sense, doesn't it?

JCCamp said...

@ Bobby -

Only 6 of them

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Who do you trust most to respect your rights?

(A) Judge
(B) Police
(C) Dog

We know (B) is unreliable and (A) is never around when you need one, so I guess we need to get used to it being (C).

Bruce Hayden said...

Here are some good comments by Orin Kerr at Volokh: Police can’t delay traffic stops to investigate crimes absent suspicion, Supreme Court rules.

J. Farmer said...

@JCCamp:

Does a cop's gut instincts represent probable cause in your opinion? Would you object to every car that was stopped for a traffic violation being "screened" by a drug sniffing dog?

Bruce Hayden said...

ON the one hand, I agree. But, the reality is that the cops often wouldn't make the stop if they weren't interested in seeing and talking to the drivers and maybe passengers in the cars they pull over. Heck - we have the CO State Patrol headquarters a mile or so from here, and routinely watch the troopers leaving there roll through stop signs, failure to signal turning right in a right turn only lane, etc.

The majority looked at the reason for making traffic stops (at least in Nebraska), which was to promote safety, and went from there in determining the reasonableness of the stops. The purpose of the stops that I was talking about (like the failure to signal turning right in a right turn only lane) was not to promote safety, but, rather, to investigate whether a crime was, or had been, committed (e.g. DUI).

Which, I think, is a comment on the much bigger problem of over-criminalization, and of the regulatory state gone wild. There are so many offenses on the books, that most of us have committed a crime of some sort or another by noon most days. There are so many crimes (and civil matters, such as traffic tickets in many jurisdictions) that it is impossible not to violate them - which puts the police (and prosecutors) in the position of exerting significant personal control over the judicial system through discretionary enforcement of the law. And, yes, then we cease being a nation of laws, and, instead become a nation subject to personal whims.

Which may be a long way of saying, sure, those violating traffic laws and ordinances can expect to be stopped. But, using the police's power of discretionary prosecution and enforcement of these laws to do a due process end-around is not good. Maybe, it is still legal. But, cases like this make that less likely in the future.

JCCamp said...

@ J Farmer -
Well, the cop doesn't need anything to run the dog around the car, not even reasonable suspicion. The theory is that the dog is lawfully where anyone can be, and if the dog can sense contraband from that point, too bad for the suspects. The issue is the delay, which requires some reasonable suspicion. Whether the cop's observation met that standard were never tested in court, because the lower courts relied on a different theory to allow the delay (officer safety).Once the dog alerted, then the cops had probable cause (a higher standard) which allowed them to search the car themselves (or get a warrant, I don't know which they did in this case). And, yes (theoretically), assuming there was no delay, any car stopped for a traffic violation could be screened on the outside for contraband by a detector dog, since the dog is lawfully where any person could be, and where any person could use his/her senses. This is not limited to dope, but could be explosives or whatever else the dog was trained for. As a practical issue, why would you bother doing this? A huge waste of time and effort, and a PR disaster, but legally? Perfectly legal I think assuming no delays.

Bruce Hayden said...

No - I don't think that a cop's gut instinct is sufficient probable cause to provide the due process that we are entitled to under our federal and state constitutions. And, no, I don't think that it is reasonable to have drug dogs sniff at every traffic stop.

JCCamp said...

@ Bruce -

I agree that there certainly are abuses, but the legal theory remains. And the practical uses are invaluable in real world law enforcement, albeit not nearly so evident as the irritating minor contacts which are so much more obvious.

JCCamp said...

J Farmer -

Sorry, re-reading, I didn't answer your question. No, gut instinct isn't enough. The cop has to articulate some basis for "reasonable suspicion." That can include his training, experience and observations, and to some degree, might include his intuition based on those things. It gets pretty subjective.
Just try finding a legal definition of "reasonable" though.

Bobby said...

JCCamp,

Except that your legal theory that remains was rejected by 6 of 9 Supreme Court Justices, so maybe "remains" isn't the right word.

Mike said...

Bobby said:
I wish JCCamp had gone to law school. He sure does know so much more than these stupid Supreme Court Justices.

Have you seen how stupid the losing side of recent 5-4 decisions was? Aren't MOST of us smart enough to know the 1st Amendment covers individual and corporate speech? Do I need to go to law school to understand that "Congress shall make no law" means Congress shall make no law abridging the freedoms to which I refer?

JCCamp said...

@ Bobby -
The U S Mgistrate, the U S District judge, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals and 3 Supreme Court Justices disagreed with the USSC majority, who invented a new rule for cops and vehicle stops. So it's not like I'm alone in thinking Justice Ginsburg's opinion is somewhat...well, wrong and ill-considered.

Of course, none of those opinions except Ginsburg's matter any more, so I guess, who cares? If anyone thinks cops won't figure out how to skirt this in about 3 seconds, read Thomas' dissent.

Todd Roberson said...

If Justice Ginsberg is charged with writing the opinion of the court you can be sure that the other eight has pretty much conceded this camas is an abject waste of time.

Todd Roberson said...

Sorry for all the spell check errors. Let's try this again:

If Justice Ginsberg is charged with writing the opinion you can pretty much assume the other eight have conceded this case is an abject waste of time.

EMD said...

"The police must meet quotas of giving citations, as the revenue derived therefrom makes up significant percentages of the budgets in any municipality...as does asset forfeiture seizures, i.e., tyrannical legalized theft by the authorities of the cash and personal property of the citizenry."

Speak truth to power, Cookie!

(I'm being serious. We're on the same side of this issue.)

rcommal said...

Policing ought not be considered a revenue-raising endeavor, full stop. All those who worked to make it so ought to be cast out into the wilderness as the dishonorable, dishonest, manipulative and unthinking people that they *were* and **are**.

Achilles said...

Another opportune moment to compare and contrast the concept of law enforcement officer with the concept of peace officer.

But we all know it is more about revenue than anything else. Hence the "need" for law enforcement.

rcommal said...

And I am going to be as clear as I can about this:

Policing ought not to be considered a revenue-raising endeavor in any shape or form. Therein lies fundamental corruption. Policing should not be the financial underpinning for any philosophy, ideology, institution, party, or movement.

Levi Starks said...

Agreed.
If it were just about drugs I would be only slightly more sympathetic to the police.
But it isn't about drugs, it's about money, and asset forfeiture.
When you can confiscate, and keep large sums of cash from supposed "citizens" with no charges having ever been made, and no due process, there is something very very wrong. I don't care what laws are passed, this is just plain wrong.
It's in the same category as breaking into someone's house during a John doe investigation, ransacking the place, and telling the citizen who lives they that they have no right to be represented by an attorney. It's wrong. When the enforcement of the law requires that basic constitutional rights are routinely forfeited, it's not the nation I was born, and grew up in.

JCCamp said...

@EMD, Achlles, et al

Agreed, there are serious abuses at times, but is there anything in this case cited in the OP that suggests this would be among those? Anything at all that has a hint of even a single factor other than an honest cop doing his job of catching bad guys as best he can? Any whiff of ticket writing quota? Asset seizure? Revenue generation?

No?

Robert Cook said...

"Speak truth to power, Cookie!

"(I'm being serious. We're on the same side of this issue.)"


I think this is an issue that Americans of all political persuasions can probably agree on and come together to stop. The problem is so many people do not even know it exists, or assume it is inflicted only on criminals who have their ill-gotten goods taken away, so they approve of it.

The old quip is that a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged; well, a radical is anyone, liberal or conservative, who has been beaten by the cops, or experienced a violent cop home invasion in the dead of night, his family pet killed, his wife and children cursed at and terrorized, the family's personal belongings gone through, taken, broken, left in a shambles, and who is otherwise treated like shit by thugs whose salaries we're paying...for the purpose of (hahaha) "serving the public."

Robert Cook said...

"Policing ought not to be considered a revenue-raising endeavor in any shape or form. Therein lies fundamental corruption. Policing should not be the financial underpinning for any philosophy, ideology, institution, party, or movement."

Absolutely!

MayBee said...

The police must meet quotas of giving citations, as the revenue derived therefrom makes up significant percentages of the budgets in any municipality...as does asset forfeiture seizures, i.e., tyrannical legalized theft by the authorities of the cash and personal property of the citizenry.

Completely agree.

MayBee said...

And I am going to be as clear as I can about this:

Policing ought not to be considered a revenue-raising endeavor in any shape or form. Therein lies fundamental corruption. Policing should not be the financial underpinning for any philosophy, ideology, institution, party, or movement.


Yes yes yes, rcommal!
I am so hoping this practice is starting to come to light and get real pushback.

It's the source of many of our problems, when our governments and law enforcement mechanisms see us as revenue generators, not citizens.

MayBee said...

Anything at all that has a hint of even a single factor other than an honest cop doing his job of catching bad guys as best he can? Any whiff of ticket writing quota? Asset seizure? Revenue generation?


What happened to the idea of letting a thousand guilty men go free so that not one innocent man is wrongly convicted?

Granted, this isn't about convictions. But the court has to make a ruling for all stops- not just honest ones with cops trying their best. If the court allows the rules to be *more* lax, they will be used for specious, revenue generating purposes more often.

PatHMV said...

JCCamp:

Here's the problem. I don't believe the cops. I'm an attorney. I worked 5 years as an Assistant D.A. I worked closely with cops on several task forces. I'm a law-and-order Republican. I'm not a radical libertarian, and I'm not terribly in favor of drug legalization. And I just don't believe them. I don't believe their explanations for their motives. I don't believe much of anything they say. I believe the general mentality of police officers in this country has taken a very bad turn.

This is a result of a number of factors, from personal experiences with moronic, idiotic, rude, insulting, scary cops to high level federal prosecutions where no underlying crime is found but an individual is prosecuted and convicted for lying to investigators (based on the unsupported, unrecorded word of a single FBI agent characterizing what the individual supposedly said during an interview).

Institutionally, they have lost my support. Until the blue wall of silence is obliterated, until cops as a whole return to a vastly different attitude toward law enforcement than they have now, they've lost my support and I don't believe them when they describe their reasons for stopping these folks. This will continue to grow as a problem until their are some major, across-the-board changes.

Coupe said...

I believe the general mentality of police officers in this country has taken a very bad turn.

I don't think so. I just think bad police are better documented.

People who took pictures in previous Centuries had no forum to display them.

JCCamp said...

@ Maybee -
Nothing in the cited case has anything to do with ticket quotas. Nothing in the cited case has anything to do with asset seizure or revenue. Nothing that the new rule will change will result in innocent people going free. It will result in actual guilty people going free, because it only affects those who are found in possession of contraband but only after an unconstitutional delay of a minute or more.

@ Pat -
I agree there exist serious institutional issues with the state/local police. I believe they derive mainly from:
police unions; affirmative action in hiring and promotion; the war on drugs; and stupid, short-sighted and poorly considered decisions like Rodriguez, which all but invite the cops to invent ways to circumvent it in the attempt to arrest the bad guys. This fosters contempt for the system and suggests dishonesty is the way to go. But the logic that flows from the decision seems beyond the (decision's) author, even if Thomas grasped it immediately.
And grousing about cops from the sidelines isn't going to change anything. The cops are as much captive to the system as they are actors. But start with drug laws. Decriminalize. Good start.
On a Federal level, we could write a book. You'll need Klingon weapons to fix.