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Author Topic: An interest 4th Amendment case  (Read 1854 times)

Offline beemaster

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An interest 4th Amendment case
« on: December 29, 2014, 01:17:32 PM »
This was in a Facebook post I received


In a blow to the constitutional rights of citizens, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in Heien v. State of North Carolina that police officers are permitted to violate American citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights if the violation results from a “reasonable” mistake about the law on the part of police.

Acting contrary to the venerable principle that “ignorance of the law is no excuse,” the Court ruled that evidence obtained by police during a traffic stop that was not legally justified can be used to prosecute the person if police were reasonably mistaken that the person had violated the law. The Rutherford Institute had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hold law enforcement officials accountable to knowing and abiding by the rule of law. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the Court’s lone dissenter, warned that the court’s ruling “means further eroding the Fourth Amendment’s protection of civil liberties in a context where that protection has already been worn down.”

The Rutherford Institute’s amicus brief in Heien v. North Carolina is available at www.rutherford.org.

“By refusing to hold police accountable to knowing and abiding by the rule of law, the Supreme Court has given government officials a green light to routinely violate the law,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of the award-winning book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State. “This case may have started out with an improper traffic stop, but where it will end—given the turbulence of our age, with its police overreach, military training drills on American soil, domestic surveillance, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, wrongful convictions, and corporate corruption—is not hard to predict. This ruling is what I would call a one-way, nonrefundable ticket to the police state.”

In April 2009, a Surry County (N.C.) law enforcement officer stopped a car traveling on Interstate 77, allegedly because of a brake light which at first failed to illuminate and then flickered on. The officer mistakenly believed that state law prohibited driving a car with one broken brake light. In fact, the state traffic law requires only one working brake light. Nevertheless, operating under a mistaken understanding of the law, during the course of the stop, the officer asked for permission to search the car. Nicholas Heien, the owner of the vehicle, granted his consent to a search. Upon the officer finding cocaine in the vehicle, he arrested and charged Heien with trafficking. Prior to his trial, Heien moved to suppress the evidence seized in light of the fact that the officer’s pretext for the stop was erroneous and therefore unlawful. Although the trial court denied the motion to suppress evidence, the state court of appeals determined that since the police officer had based his initial stop of the car on a mistaken understanding of the law, there was no valid reason for the stop in the first place. On appeal, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled that even though the officer was wrong in concluding that the inoperable brake light was an offense, because the officer’s mistake was a “reasonable” one, the stop of the car did not violate the Fourth Amendment and the evidence resulting from the stop did not need to be suppressed. In weighing in on the case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Rutherford Institute attorneys warn against allowing government agents to “benefit” from their mistakes of law, deliberate or otherwise, lest it become an incentive for abuse.

Affiliate attorney Christopher F. Moriarty assisted The Rutherford Institute in advancing the arguments in the amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court.
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Offline hjon71

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Offline kathyp

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Re: An interest 4th Amendment case
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2014, 11:58:12 AM »
I kind of get this one.  it is true the the cop didn't need to pull the guy over for the tail light, but there was no reason he couldn't pull him over...even to let him know that the light was out.  there's no law that I know of that regulates when a cop can and can't pull someone over.  "gut" is enough.

the guy gave consent to the search.  once you have done that...you are done if anything is found.  If he had not given consent, and the cop had searched anyway, that would have been a different thing, I think.
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Re: An interest 4th Amendment case
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2014, 01:50:06 PM »
Yea Kathy:

I think a cop doing does go with the gut. But when it gets to the courts, but a witty public defender will make a name for himself!

I know we are all use to the three brake light system. Thank God they come on automatically - imagine if it were up to the driver when to use his break lights - chaos. I use my iphone as a dashboard cam with a window adapter for smartphones. Typically I drive 45 minute a day when working, that's just a gig or two video - I was a victim of road rage which could have gone very wrong, glad I had my phone in my had to get evidence if needed. It is my only true (mini) viral video I have is my Roadrage video went to 11,000 views in TWO days :)

What's nice, I can fit the screen to video in the car and catch any action including the driver side window - for police stops, etc.. As you said, once you give permission to search, you just try to do it without tearing the car apart. Then again, hopefully you don't live in your car - it could take a while.

I "yes the cop" as much as it takes to depart each other, or go to jail. There really are few other options. If you are ballsy then refuse to search and see how long it plays out - assure them you have nothing ilegal on you or in your car and let them know you chose my Right against " unwarranted search" and let's see how many cops just go away. If cops "see no weapons, open alcohol, drugs or smell anything illegal" in your car, the can't by Constitution search - but it happens all the time. The driver missed taking a Xanax 4 hours ago is getting jittery and look suspicious to the police. He's likely gonna get searched, even if he says he's missed medication.
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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: An interest 4th Amendment case
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2014, 01:50:47 PM »
> there's no law that I know of that regulates when a cop can and can't pull someone over.  "gut" is enough.

The last state supreme court decision in Nebraska that I noticed on that was when a cop pulled someone over for not having a license plate.  Since the law clearly states that you have 30 days from when you buy the car to when you get the plate, the court ruled that the cop did not have "probable cause" to believe there was a violation just because he did not have a plate and therefore could not pull them over.  (it had been more then 30 days and he was in violation...) That's a lot more probably cause than "gut"...  Another one not too long ago was someone loading garbage bags in their trunk and acting nervous, so the cap asked to look in the bags and found something illegal.  The court found that the cop did not have probably cause since loading garbage bags in your trunk is not illegal... that one was just "gut" but again, the cop was right...

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Offline hjon71

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Re: An interest 4th Amendment case
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2014, 02:20:37 PM »
I kind of get this one.  it is true the the cop didn't need to pull the guy over for the tail light, but there was no reason he couldn't pull him over...even to let him know that the light was out.  there's no law that I know of that regulates when a cop can and can't pull someone over.  "gut" is enough.

the guy gave consent to the search.  once you have done that...you are done if anything is found.  If he had not given consent, and the cop had searched anyway, that would have been a different thing, I think.

This bothers me. I think it is a direct violation of the 4th amendment. I will always side with liberty.
 If the police have a "gut" feeling, do some detective work. IF the suspect actually commits a crime THEN intervene. Crime for me would be the harming of another person.
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Offline BlueBee

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Re: An interest 4th Amendment case
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2014, 01:36:17 AM »
I will always side with liberty.

 X:X X:X X:X


My little town has too many cops to know what to do with themselves.  They (seem to) spend all their time out patrolling and harassing the good people of the town while rarely catching the drug dealers, users, thieves, or reckless and violent people.  I’ve been stopped and questioned numerous times for all kinds of trivial stuff.  Honestly I wouldn’t mind the harassment I get IF they also put away more of the bad guys.  However as with most things government, it’s more about bringing in revenue than going after the real problems.  My law abiding friends in town get the same treatment on the trivial stuff.

It’s just easier to pull somebody over for a burned out license plate bulb (yes there is such a thing) than dealing with the drunks, thieves, and violent people.  I always treat the cops with respect (they don't always reciprocate) since I know they have a tough job, but I would love to vote on defunding them a little IF we had any kind of a real democracy left.

Of all the amendments, the 4th is the one our money hungry and big brother government has most thoroughly gutted  :(  

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: An interest 4th Amendment case
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2014, 09:20:39 AM »
>My little town has too many cops to know what to do with themselves.

Maybe it's just my experience, but in my experience the State Patrol has the most professional and polite policeman.  The county sheriffs and deputies tend to be next most polite (at least to the locals who might vote them out of office).  City cops tend to be (but are not always) the kids who were bullies in school and got a badge so they could continue their work...

Yes, I always treat all of them with the utmost respect and politeness, but I do get tempted sometimes to ask why they think it's any of their business where I was going or what I was doing especially when they as in a bullying tone of voice.
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Offline kathyp

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Re: An interest 4th Amendment case
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2015, 09:35:04 PM »
Quote
Maybe it's just my experience, but in my experience the State Patrol has the most professional and polite policeman.  The county sheriffs and deputies tend to be next most polite (at least to the locals who might vote them out of office).  City cops tend to be (but are not always) the kids who were bullies in school and got a badge so they could continue their work...

I find the same here, but i think it has more to do with the kind of people they deal with day to day.  if i were a Portland cop, I'd probably be a bit more aggressive than if I were a county sheriff.  In Portland i'd have to deal with a whole lot of crap that a sheriff wouldn't even see.  probably more danger too. 

I never understood how NY got away with it's "stop and frisk" law.  I never understood how so many people thought it was an ok thing to do.  I know it contributed to decreasing some crime in NY, but it certainly seemed a step or two to far.  I do think that police need some latitude in the gut department.  they should be able to justify that gut feeling in some way, and if they are given permission to search a car or person and find something, it should be fair game.  if the people are to stupid to say no, they are to stupid to be walking around loose anyway.   :wink:
.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called the government. They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: An interest 4th Amendment case
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2015, 09:16:12 AM »
I have a friend who was in Omaha and was stopped for a taillight out.  The cop saw a .45 and a .22 cartridge in the ashtray (my friend doesn't smoke).  He wanted to search the car.  It's not illegal to have ammo nor illegal to have a gun, so I fail to see the probable cause.  My friend, being braver and more stubborn than I, refused and said he should get a warrant.  He didn't, of course, but I'd be afraid he would plant something to justify the warrant...
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