Two Important 4th Amendment Cases Upcoming for the Supreme Court

Two cases involving drug dogs are on the Supreme Court docket which could either further shred the 4th Amendment or help in reestablishing some of its safeguards to American citizens.  The 4th Amendment protects citizens against unreasonable search and seizure.  Mainly thanks to the war on drugs, the 4th Amendment has been shredded beyond recognition by the courts.  The police basically act as if it no longer exists.

Florida V. Jardines concerns the police bringing a drug dog up to the front door of a single family private residence to check for illegal activity, without a warrant.  This is basically a pretty cut and dry case.  Either you see it as the police being free to go wherever the public can go, or you see it as the police using the dog to conduct an illegal search of the private residence.  Precedent is mixed in this case and the court could go either way.

Florida V. Harris is probably the more important case, concerning whether an alert by a trained drug dog is sufficient probable cause to search a vehicle.  Recent studies have raised serious question into the accuracy of drug dogs. If 7 of 8 drug dogs give false positives during a double blind trial, is it reasonable to claim their alerts are always probable cause?

Ed Brayton over at Dispatches from the Culture War has a post looking at these cases, and there is a preview of both over at The Volokh Conspiracy.  Just a few cases to keep your eye on.

And yes, Obama is a joke on 4th Amendment issues.

Spain Considers Ban on Filming Police; People Ask Obvious Question…

As PressTV reports, Spain is considering a ban on filming and photographing the police while they are on duty.

Spain’s Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz said that the government is considering the ban on capturing, playing back and processing of images, sounds or data of Spanish security forces who are “in the exercise of their functions.”

The government’s plan which was unveiled on Friday comes amid a crackdown on protests against harsh austerity measures and spending cuts across the debt-wracked country.

Critics consider the measure as a violation of the freedom of speech in the country, but the Spanish officials insist that it is needed to uphold “dignity of police and security forces.”

The “dignity of police and security forces”?  Really?  Is that the best you can do?

The ability to film the police is one of the only safeguards citizens have against police brutality/police misconduct.  Without video and audio evidence, most accusations would become “he said/he said” affairs, with one of the “he’s” being a respected member of law enforcement.  I’d like to think that the majority of law enforcement personnel are honest people who want to do the best job they can serving and protecting the citizens in their jurisdiction.  But anyone who reads Dispatches from the Culture Wars, or follows the issue at all realizes that some cops are more than willing to lie on police reports, plant drugs on suspects, and use unnecessary force in the process of “protecting” the public.  Personally, I think that all police officers should have a camera filming as part of their uniform; like dash cameras on police cruisers, except for the officer themselves.

The obvious question is this:  What do you have to hide?

Honest cops should love having a record of their actions.  It can serve as protection against false accusations of misconduct/brutality.  Bad cops, not so much.  This isn’t about “the dignity of police and security forces.”  It’s about protecting them when their actions cross over the line of legality and it is a ticket to rampant abuse of authority.

With Spain in economic crisis and with protesters taking to the streets all over the nation, enacting this into law would be a clear signal to law enforcement; “We don’t care how you do it, but take care of the protesters.”

The police are public servants.  They are supposed to exist to protect and serve the public and the public interest.  More and more it seems that they are now only protecting and serving the ruling class.

Are they there to protect us or control us?  If Spain passes this law it is one more piece of evidence for the latter.

Just a quick note on this story:  Looking for a source online for this article (I read it originally in my local paper, who didn’t put it on their web page) took forever.  First web search I did turned up countless links but the first four pages were all from conspiracy theory websites.  I have no idea how reliable PressTV is as a source, this is the first time I’ve visited their site, but it is the first source I found that didn’t kill me with pop-up while proclaiming batshit theories.

Scott Adams Proves Once Again That You Can Draw a Funny Comic and Still Be a Moron.

Scott Adams is the creator of Dilbert.  Full disclosure:  I like Dilbert.  In fact, when looked at in comparison to the other comic strips my newspaper provides, I’d be willing to say it is my 3rd favorite strip.  (Once again, out of the limited choices my paper provides.  And that isn’t counting Doonesbury, since my newspaper spares the feelings of God fearing conservative kids by putting Doonesbury on the opinion page instead of the comics page.  Of course, they also run rightwing propaganda comic Mallard Fillmore on the Sunday Comics page.  Which I guess is my newspapers way of saying that ducks spouting rightwing talking points is acceptable children’s fodder while humans with progressive views are strictly adults only.  But I digress….)

Much more after the jump…..

Continue reading

Let’s Do a “Tales of a Junkie,” Shall We?

Tales of a Junkie, Part 8?:  Intro to Law Enforcement.  (And yes, I reserve the right to re-number these at a future date.)

Apologies for writing these out of order.  Eventually, they will be fleshed out and collected, to be read with continuity.  For now, I will deal with subjects as I wish.  Once again, if you’re only here for the snark, feel free to skip away.

I also want to make this disclaimer.  I study memory (on the level of a layperson at the least).  It fascinates me.  It also makes me question many of my own memories, now that I understand how our brain works to a certain extent.  None of this is intended to be fictional.  Every single thing I write about in these Tales of a Junkie come from my memories.  I will not take stories from other people I know and weave them in as my own for dramatic effect.  I will not lie, or fictionalize accounts.  But,(and there always is a but, isn’t there?) I used drugs in some form from the time I was 12.  I have many memories that I am honestly not sure if they ever happened.  Some memories that the details are hazy, and others that I am certain of, and even those could be suspect.  So if you know who I actually am and possibly know of a situation I write of that I get wrong, remember that memory is fluid.  This is not A Million Little Pieces; anything I get wrong is not intentional.  Other than fictionalizing names and locations to protect the guilty, I will always try to be as accurate as possible.

We begin after the jump:

Continue reading

More Listening Pleasure! Ed Brayton’s Interview with Peter Christ from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Squee!

Somehow, I missed Ed Brayton’s new radio show, Culture Wars Radio when it first came on the scene, but now that I’m catching up on the old episodes, I have to highlight this episode featuring Peter Christ from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.  When you have an hour or so to spare, give it a listen, it is definitely worth it.

The War on Drugs is a failure that does much more harm than good.  More and more intelligent people are realizing we need to get away from criminalization and move on to harm reduction.  In their own words,  Leap is:

an international organization of criminal justice professionals who bear personal witness to the wasteful futility and harms of our current drug policies. Our experience on the front lines of the “war on drugs” has led us to call for a repeal of prohibition and its replacement with a tight system of legalized regulation, which will effectively cripple the violent cartels and street dealers who control the current illegal market.


Let’s Just Say I’m Not Surprised….

Sorry, Ed, I’m pretty much straight up ganking all my content for the day from your blog.  Readers, click the linky and go read Dispatches from the Culture Wars!, in my opinion, the best blog on the interwebs.

A new lawsuit filed by a group of state police officers in Nevada could reveal those problems in stark detail — and make it even worse than I thought it was.

A group of Nevada Highway Patrol troopers and a retired police sergeant have filed a racketeering complaint against the NHP and Las Vegas Metro Police in U.S. District Court.

The complaint alleges that after then-Gov. Jim Gibbons approved a K-9 program to target drug runners on Nevada’s highways, Nevada Highway Patrol Commander Chris Perry intentionally undermined the program.

The complaint alleges that the drug-sniffing dogs used by troopers in the program were intentionally being trained to operate as so-called trick ponies, or dogs that provide officers false alerts for the presence of drugs.

The dogs were being trained to alert their handlers by cues, instead of by picking up a drug’s scent by sniffing, the complaint said. When a dog gives a false alert, this resulted in illegal searches and seizures, including money and property, the complaint said.

Honestly, I really don’t think you could expose a dirty police tactic in the “war on drugs” that could surprise me anymore.  The “war on drugs” has nothing to do with stopping the flow of drugs in this nation.  It’s all about keeping the prisons full, looking tough on crime, and keeping the money rolling in from asset forfeiture.

I haven’t linked to Law Enforcement Against Prohibition for a while.

For Your Reading Pleasure…

The New York Times has a fascinating piece on Alex White, a confidential informant who worked with the Atlanta police.  White is infamous for being the “snitch” who “allegedly” purchased crack from a house that actually housed a 92 year old woman executed by the police during a drug raid.  Ed Brayton over at Dispatches… has a post up about this article as well.  I really don’t have much to say about this right now, have to head to work in a minute, but it is definitely worth reading.

Alex White was at his mother’s house several miles away that evening. She called him downstairs when she heard the news on TV, using a nickname from his childhood (it was the way he first pronounced his own name): “Alo, a bunch of police got shot. Come and see.”

White went in the living room and sat next to her. The reporter said the shootings had taken place on Neal Street. White knew it was in the Bluff, where he bought and sold drugs. Earlier that evening, in fact, the Atlanta narcotics police for whom he worked as a C.I., or confidential informant — a snitch — asked him to go to the Bluff and buy drugs. His car was in the shop, so he had to say no. His mother knew none of this.

Upstairs at his mother’s house, he had already received a call from J. R. Smith, one of the officers from the unit. Smith sounded tense. “Hey, you got to help us out with something,” White told me Smith said. (Smith did not respond to a request for an interview.) White said sure. He tried to be helpful to the police, do what they asked — willingness was one reason he was their most trusted informant for four years running. If White could help cover for them, Smith said, there would be good money in it for him.

“You made a buy today for us,” Smith explained. “Two $25 baggies of crack.”

“I did?” White asked. It took him a moment to register. “O.K. Who did I buy it from?”

“Dude named Sam.” Smith described the imaginary seller, told how Sam had taken his money then walked White to the back of the house and handed him the drugs as Smith and a fellow officer, Arthur Tesler, watched from a car across the street.

“O.K.,” White said. “Where?”

Smith said: “933 Neal Street. I’ll call you later.”

Now in the living room, the TV reporter was saying how a 92-year-old woman had died in the incident, and people were suggesting that the police had shot her. Two and two came together in White’s mind. They did it, he suddenly knew. They messed up. They killed that old lady. Now his heart pounded as the implications became clear. And they want me to cover for them.

I’ll be back after work with some more posts, possibly a new Tales of a Junkie.

Have a great 4th!