Privacy

by Tim Cushing


Filed Under:
4th amendment, cars, driving



Despite Recent Court Rulings, Getting Behind The Wheel Is Pretty Much Kissing Your 4th Amendment Protections Goodbye

from the cars-are-for-criminals,-apparently dept

There's been more good news than bad concerning the Fourth Amendment recently. In addition to the Supreme Court's ruling that searches of cellphones incident to arrest now require a warrant, various circuit court decisions on cell site location info and the surreptitious use of GPS tracking devices may see the nation's top court addressing these contentious issues in the near future. (The latter still needs to be addressed more fully than the Supreme Court's 2012 punt on the issue.)

Generally speaking, the Fourth Amendment has been at least partially restored, much of it due to the courts being more willing to address the implications of technological advances and the bearing these have on the expectation of privacy.

But one area -- pertaining to technology dating back over 100 years and used by millions on a daily basis -- remains under-served: vehicles. As we've discussed before, the "motor vehicle exception" allows law enforcement to search an entire vehicle, along with its contents, without a warrant, provided they have probable cause to suspect contraband is hidden in it. An outright refusal to allow a search may result in the securing of a warrant, but the law is riddled with so many law enforcement-friendly exceptions that the use of a warrant is the exception, rather than the rule.

This is a small part of a larger problem. While the Supreme Court did declare that law enforcement officers weren't allowed to artificially prolong routine traffic stops in order to perform further queries/searches, it also wrote them a blank check for abuse with the Heien decision.

Drivers need to be on top of traffic laws, but cops don't.

As the text indicates and we have repeatedly affirmed, “the ultimate touchstone of the Fourth Amendment is ‘reasonableness.’” Riley v. California, 573 U. S. ___, ___ (2014)…To be reasonable is not to be perfect, and so the Fourth Amendment allows for some mistakes on the part of government officials, giving them “fair leeway for enforcing the law in the community’s protection.”
This meshes with the "good faith exception," another out for police officers that ignore the Fourth Amendment. Cops can basically stop your for any reason and use that stop to fish for additional criminal charges. They have to be a bit quicker about it, thanks to the Rodriguez decision. But they won't have to be any better at their jobs and they are not expected to know the laws they're enforcing.

Ken Armstrong at Vice has a long rundown of cases where results of searches related to traffic stops were suppressed due to officers' ignorance of the law but later reinstated to legitimacy by the Heien decision. Here's one of them:
When a police officer in the Village of East Troy (4,281 residents, 18 miles of roadways, 500 manholes, according to its quarterly newsletter) pulled over Richard Houghton's blue Ford Taurus, the officer was ignorant of the law in at least two ways. He thought the car needed a front license plate (in this case, it didn't), and he thought the car's air freshener was illegal, believing any object dangling from a rear-view mirror automatically violated the state's law on obstructing a driver's view (not so). Nonetheless, the Wisconsin Supreme Court decided that the marijuana and drug paraphernalia found in the officer's subsequent search of the car would not be thrown out. Just one year after it had ruled the opposite in another case, the court decided that in light of Heien, mistakes of law by police could now be forgiven, if reasonable.
Notably, automobile air fresheners are one of law enforcement's favorite "reasonable suspicion" indicators. The only reason for anyone to have a prominently-displayed air freshener (or multiple fresheners) is to cover up the smell of illicit drugs. Not every court has bought this theory, but enough have been willing to consider this -- along with other questionable "suspicious" actions like being nervous, talking too fast, talking to slow, making eye contact, not making eye contact, etc. -- as part of the constructed totality of reasonable suspicion.

Once an officer has this, he can quickly convert it to probable cause. With reasonable suspicion, an officer can often bring in a drug-sniffing dog -- the search that isn't a search -- to obtain the probable cause for a complete roadside search.

But drug dogs are no more reliable than the average police officer's command of traffic laws. A recent Seventh Circuit Appeals Court decision affirming the conviction of a man found with 15 kilos of cocaine in his vehicle took a bit of time to question the reliability of Lex, the drug dog that alerted prior to the search of the suspect's vehicle.
In Larry Bentley’s case, a police officer initiated a traffic stop after observing Bentley’s vehicle cross into another lane on an Illinois highway without signaling. After stopping Bentley, the officer decided to call for a drug-detection dog named Lex. Once on the scene, Lex alerted, and the officers found close to 15 kilograms of cocaine in the vehicle.

But what if Lex alerts every time he is called upon? The fact that drugs are (or are not) found would have nothing to do with his behavior. That, in essence, is what Bentley is arguing here. The evidence Bentley was able to gather suggests that Lex is lucky the Canine Training Institute doesn’t calculate class rank. If it did, Lex would have been at the bottom of his class.
The ruling contains some very damning details about Lex, who alerts so often he should just be renamed "Probable Cause."
In pressing his challenge to the dog’s alert, Bentley makes two principal points. First, he contends that Lex’s past performance in the field suggests he is particularly prone to false positives (i.e., signaling to his handler that there are drugs in a vehicle when there are not). He has a point. Lex alerts 93% of the time he is called to do an openair sniff of a vehicle, and Lex’s overall accuracy rate in the field (i.e., the number of times he alerts and his human handler finds drugs) is not much better than a coin flip (59.5%).
This dog is a coin flip for contraband. But he's great at "authorizing" a warrantless search. He's a police officer's best friend -- especially those that hope to turn minor traffic violations into something worth the paperwork. If an officer requested Lex, more than 9 times out of 10, he got to search the vehicle.

Unfortunately for Bentley and countless other citizens, the fallibility of drug-sniffing dogs isn't anything they can use in their defense. From the Supreme Court on down through the various circuits, judges are waking up to the fact that drug dogs are more interested in pleasing their handlers than being an objective investigatory method (as is to be expected from nearly any domesticated animal), but more often than not, will side with law enforcement on drug dog "alerts."
Bentley rightly points out that Lex is smart. Shively testified that he rewards Lex every time the dog alerts in the field. Presumably the dog knows he will get a “giftee” (a rubber hose stuffed with a sock) every time he alerts. If Lex is motivated by the reward (behavior one would expect from any dog), he should alert every time. This giftee policy seems like a terrible way to promote accurate detection on the part of a service animal, lending credence to Bentley’s argument that Lex’s alert is more of a pretext for a search than an objective basis for probable cause.
But despite seeing the conflict here, the court finds that Lex is still a good dog yes he is, and the permission he granted the officers to perform a more intrusive search is probably probable cause -- or close enough to it that the other exceptions (good faith, etc.) swallow up Bentley's protests to the contrary.
Nevertheless, in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Florida v. Harris, 133 S. Ct. 1050 (2013), which addressed the use of drug-detection dogs, we conclude that the district judge did not err when he decided that Lex’s alert, along with the other evidence relating to the stop, was sufficient to support probable cause. Bentley’s other two challenges based on the traffic stop and his alleged lack of knowledge of the cocaine in the vehicle also fail. We thus affirm his conviction.
Combining drug dogs, Heien, Rodriguez, the "motor vehicle" and "good faith" exceptions, and you have a significant gap in Fourth Amendment coverage. Get in a car and kiss most of it goodbye. A cop can pull you over for nearly any reason and use this pretense to perform a dog-and-officer act that almost guarantees the generation of "probable cause." Once this is achieved, everything in the car is subject to the search. If it isn't (like a cellphone or a GPS system), this won't be worked out until the arrestee is granted the chance to move to suppress evidence. There's no stopping the search. There's only the much smaller chance (at least compared to Lex's magic nose) that the evidence will be tossed, along with the charges.

The only thing standing in the way of this abuse is the vague stopwatch of Rodriguez. Officers can't artificially extend stops past the point that the objective has been achieved (ticket/warning issued). But there's no specific time limit for officers to reach this concluding point, which means this will be adjudicated on a case-by-case basis.

If this is the only limitation, the Fourth Amendment means next to nothing if a citizen is behind the wheel. Not only is the Fourth Amendment supposed to protect against illegal searches, it's also supposed to prevent illegal seizures. And in the definition of this amendment, a seizure includes the sort of detainment a traffic stop is.
A seizure of a person, within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, occurs when the police's conduct would communicate to a reasonable person, taking into account the circumstances surrounding the encounter, that the person is not free to ignore the police presence and leave at his will.
Heien allows the seizure to take place, completely without justification. Everything else allows this seizure to be refashioned into something far beyond a ticket for a broken taillight or "crossing a lane divider without signalling." Technically, a citizen should be free to leave once a ticket/warning is in their hands. But how many will when the officer is still leaning in the window, asking questions unrelated to the traffic stop? Roughly zero. Any person who starts moving a vehicle before an officer returns to their own risks being nailed with additional charges/bullets/etc.

The legal interpretation is the ideal. The real world interpretation is nothing like it. A court may feel a traffic stop was over at point X, but the person whose vehicle was tossed after a drug dog appeared "alerted," signaled his or her "consent" to the search by not stomping on the gas pedal the moment the officer handed over the citation.

Because of everything tied into the vehicle nexus, people are being subjected to Fourth Amendment-violating searches and seizures every day. Legal precedent puts the odds in law enforcement's favor. And what's the worse that happens to cops who violate the Fourth Amendment? They lose a bust or two. But there's millions of drivers on the road. They can always find more people to arrest. And they can start this chain of events by citing laws that don't exist and further the intrusion by bringing in a four-legged cop to give them the permission to override a citizen's refusal to allow a search.

So, while it is heartening to see more court decisions tackling technology in a more logical fashion, something that's been with us for more than 100 years remains a legal blind spot.


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 7 Aug 2015 @ 6:01pm

    "Instant 'probable cause', just cough or scratch leg!"

    Allowing dogs to be enough to provide probable cause, and thereby search a vehichle, is an absolutely terrible idea. Dogs like to please their handlers/owners, and they tend to be pretty smart.

    If a dog realizes that giving the 'alert' signal makes it's handler happy, then they're going to do it as often as they can, no matter what they do or don't smell. Add a reward on top of that for giving the 'alert' signal, and any police dog is basically an instant 'probable cause' generator, to be brought out any time someone's smart enough to refuse a search.

    If they're going to give the actions of a dog legal weight, then at a minimum there needs to be strict standards set. If a dog is no better than a coin-flip for accuracy, if not worse, than it has no place being brought out for traffic stops or placed in a position where it's actions are considered enough justification for legal action.

    However, given that requiring drug dogs to actually be able to reliably detect drugs would drastically cut down on the ability for police to search vehicles looking for goodies at their whim, I don't imagine they would respond too well to the idea.

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    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 8 Aug 2015 @ 11:13am

      Re: "Instant 'probable cause', just cough or scratch leg!"

      Maybe a ruling that any search triggered by a sniff automatically causes any other discovered evidence to be suppressed except on a positive detection. So if the dog signals positive for pot, and no pot is found but cocaine is, that evidence would have to be suppressed.

      Or if no pot is found but the hand of a known missing child is discovered, that evidence would have to be suppressed.

      Therefore the state risks letting a suspect go free if it uses false pretenses to justify an illegal search.

      Something to consider for the next regime.

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    • icon
      Jeremy Lyman (profile), 10 Aug 2015 @ 7:38am

      Re: "Instant 'probable cause', just cough or scratch leg!"

      It's not actually Lex that's "no better than a coin flip" here. The coin flip is which cars the officers choose to pull over, and which suspects they feel the need to manufacture probable cause to search. Once the officer has made that selection, Lex is brought in for the 93% guaranteed alert. Whether he is right or not is more based on the officer's intangible gut feeling than any super sniffer canine quality.

      Frankly an almost 60% hit rate is impressive for these officers basing searches on "not quite enough evidence for a search", but that makes it no less illegal.

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    • identicon
      Philip, 15 Dec 2015 @ 12:37am

      Re: "Instant 'probable cause', just cough or scratch leg!"

      It is absolutely imperative nowadays, given the overall context of this government's psychopathically presumptuous behaviour, to read these overtones into any police approach, including those associated with operation of a motor vehicle. They are out to punk you. For the duration of their entitlement-laden stop, you are their bitch. Don't be.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2015 @ 8:05pm

    I believe the law is whatever the officer believes is the law that day.

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    • identicon
      David, 8 Aug 2015 @ 3:02am

      Re:

      That's the essence of the "good faith exception", yes. That's why intelligent people are not admitted into police service since they are more limited in what they can claim to believe.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2015 @ 8:08pm

    Police dogs have no disincentives

    If I am forced to allow a police dog to search my vehicle, I want to know that that dog has x number of false alerts before it is put down. Since there will be nothing to find, everyones time was wasted, but most importantly, my rights were just violated for no good reason.
    The officer doesn't have to pay for my time or any damage done to my property. The dog doesn't have to be fired or retrained if their false alert rate is higher than 0. I don't understand how this is allowed at all.
    If our rights are at stake, why is such a low bar set.

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    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 8 Aug 2015 @ 10:57am

      Re: Police dogs have no disincentives

      To be fair, the dog isn't doing anything wrong. He wouldn't need to be put down, just retired from police work, probably to a nice home.

      I'd be nice to find a way to penalize K-9 officers, say to require officer and dog to retrain until they achieve an accuracy of 90%+

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2015 @ 8:35pm

    Dogs are a scapegoat, just like automated takedown requests. It's a mean to get all of the power with none of the responsibility or consequences.
    Dog/Script helped bust someone? Amazing work!
    Dog/Script had a false alert? Well it's an anomaly or a fluke so we can't be responsible.
    If things continue trending in the direction they are, there will be another civil war/revolution.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Aug 2015 @ 8:56pm

    what can I say that has not been said before.

    How about your country was founded on the ideals opposing this

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  • identicon
    David, 7 Aug 2015 @ 11:37pm

    The sad thing is the champions for the Fourth Amendment

    The problem is that the champions suing for Fourth Amendment violations are not carriers of sympathy.

    Court cases are expensive, and you won't sue for compensation to getting groped or made uncomfortable or inconvenienced or late for half an hour on a somewhat regular base, yet that is the bulk of the cost to society, and the people paying that cost most of the time are in a social class that cannot afford law suits for personal vindication.

    So the Fourth Amendment basic court case is for suppressing evidence. That sort of case is the standard for creating case law. So the average citizen will rather more than less be of the opinion "I have no problem with that guy going to prison". But on that decision hinges how much law-abiding citizens will get hassled on a regular basis.

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    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 8 Aug 2015 @ 11:03am

      Re: The sad thing is the champions for the Fourth Amendment

      Lets clarify that opinion: I have no problem with Innocent people going to prison. Since officers with a search can find something with which to detain you, and the DA, if he wants to indict and convict you has tons of obtuse codes by which to build a rap sheet of years and years.

      And you can either try to fight it in court (and probably lose) or plead guilty to a couple and go to prison for six months.

      Our prisons are full of innocent people falsely convicted by a gamed system, and because that system is gamed for everybody, it means we can't respect those convictions of even heinous crimes.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Aug 2015 @ 12:59am

    What if your home has wheels?

    What if you live in your car? In a RV? In a camping trailer? In a mobile home? Does the Fourth Amendment apply?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 8 Aug 2015 @ 1:19am

      Re: What if your home has wheels?

      It depends on who you ask. Just like always.

      Does it apply in a box?
      Does it apply with a fox?
      Does it apply here or there?
      Does it apply anywhere?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 Aug 2015 @ 1:24am

        Re: Re: What if your home has wheels?

        "It depends on who you ask. Just like always."

        Heh, I don't think so. Claiming something doesn't make it so.

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        • identicon
          David, 8 Aug 2015 @ 2:01am

          Re: Re: Re: What if your home has wheels?

          Heh, I don't think so. Claiming something doesn't make it so.

          Wishful thinking. Things like the "good faith exception" exactly make it so.

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      • icon
        Tice with a J (profile), 9 Aug 2015 @ 12:36am

        Re: Re: What if your home has wheels?

        You may not search me in my house
        You may not search my kids or spouse
        You may not search me in my car
        You may not search me at the bar
        You may not search me on a train
        You may not search me on a plane
        You may not search me here or there
        You may not search me anywhere
        I do not like this searching scam
        I do not like it, Uncle Sam

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Aug 2015 @ 1:12pm

      Re: What if your home has wheels?

      What if you live in your car?
      If you live in your car, you're homeless. After you're inevitably arrested, you'll have to sell your car to be able to pay the fine for being homeless. Then you'll be even more homeless (homelesser?).

      You're only allowed to be homeless in the US if you're rich enough to keep paying off the government.

      (Boats: it's been a few years since I've looked into it, but being a "live aboard" used to mean you gave up a lot of your rights...)

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  • identicon
    Your Neighbor, 8 Aug 2015 @ 3:44am

    I "as your neighbor" WANT YOU TO....

    I as your fellow man want you to do something for me please.

    1. Educate yourself about how much the bansters have printed, taxed and stolen in perspective a thief of $1,500,000 (One and half million) should only pay 15 cents for the theft as long as it theoretically didn't HARM anyone physically. I am just tossing numbers out there to visualize, it might not be EXACTLY this ratio. It's SOMETHING LIKE IT THOUGH. Maybe I have the EXPONENT OFF? I dunno. But a parking ticket ought to enough to pay off a house when compared to the TRILLIONS they have vaporised!

    2. If you HARMED someone, all bets are off for you. Your toast. I won't defend you if you got violent or RUINED someone else to BENEFIT yourself.

    3. If your crime was some nonsense man wrote on paper, it needs to be NULLIFIED in light of #1 above with the banksters. NO COPS, JUDGES or ANYONE at this point has the moral or ethical authority to tell people anything with the CURRENT LAWLESSNESS OCCURING.

    4. When you see problems Confront them. Whey you are asked to Jury Duty -- SERVE! so you can HELP your fellow man.

    ONE DAY THAT "FELLOW MAN" MIGHT BE YOU!

    Spread the word of Jury Nullification.
    Because you CAN NOT nullify your OWN case, but neither can THEY if they do not EVEN KNOW ABOUT IT.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Aug 2015 @ 3:52am

    "Good Faith Exception"

    Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

    Unless you are a cop, then it is called a "good faith exception".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Aug 2015 @ 4:03am

      Re: "Good Faith Exception"

      Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Unless you are a cop, then it is called a "good faith exception".

      Supported by kangaroo courts.

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    • identicon
      Zonker, 10 Aug 2015 @ 12:36pm

      Re: "Good Faith Exception"

      Exactly. Why does the court accept the cops "good faith" exception "I didn't know the search was illegal" but not the victim's "good faith" exception "I didn't know there were drugs in the vehicle"? The court is a hypocrite.

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  • identicon
    TMC, 8 Aug 2015 @ 7:02am

    Has any court hitherto done a totality of the circumstances analysis which incorporates the effects of previous court decisions?

    I mean, first we allow cop academies to discriminate on the basis of intelligence. THEN we say that reasonable ignorance of the law is an excuse. I have to assume that holding 'ignorance of the law' to a 'reasonable' standard enhances its effects when the people enforcing those laws have been assessed as not having high intelligence.

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  • icon
    spacy (profile), 8 Aug 2015 @ 9:57am

    A cop stops you and ...

    Don't get into a conversation. Ask " Am I being held?". If he wants to pursue a lengthy search and asks permission - don't answer any questions. He's going to do whatever he wants to do no matter what you say. So don't say anything. Tell him it's his decision - "you're in charge officer - do whatever it is you think you need to do. Am I being held? Can I leave?"

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  • identicon
    Andrew D. Todd, 8 Aug 2015 @ 10:36am

    The Fraudulent Vehicle Registration is the Probable Cause

    In the case of U.S. v. Larry Bentley, what happened in the first instance was that the officer, routinely scanning license plates at a convenience store, discovered such discrepancies in the automobile registration paperwork as ought to have prevented a registration and license plate from being issued. Most probably, this discovery reflected recent improvements in the Department of Motor Vehicles' computer systems, which enabled the Department to verify more things, rather than taking them on trust. With the new computer systems, it was apparent that the vehicle owner/registrant had not had a driver's license for eighteen years. On the strength of "fishy" paperwork, the officer pursued Bentley, and stopped him for the first traffic violation. On interrogation, Bentley was not able to tell a credible story about his relationship to the owner-of-record of the automobile, which of course raised the suspicion that he had stolen the automobile, and subsequent searches revealed enough cocaine to make the owner-of-record quite irrelevant. The appeals court found that the dog was an unimportant component of the accumulating grounds for search. Even if identity theft were proved, it would be small potatoes compared to the twenty-year sentence for wholesale drug-dealing.

    The appeals court opinion gives Bentley the benefit of the doubt about matter pertaining to Tonya Smith, the vehicle owner-registrant, so there is no report of who and what she actually was. However, I think you will probably find that Tonya Smith was not Bentley's girlfriend, that she was a complete stranger whose identity was stolen by the "syndicate" for the purpose of creating a false vehicle registration. A Google search for Tonya Smith, Kankakee, yields nothing, as does one for Tonya Smith and Larry Bentley, and if her driver's license expired eighteen years before Bentley's 2010 arrest, she must have last renewed it circa 1988. The balance of probabilities is that the syndicate obtained the identity documents of a a deceased person.

    It is of course possible that the state may have discovered the existence of suspicious records, may have discovered that the address of record was a bombed-out building somewhere in the slums, and opted to sit on the information until the associated license plate turned up on one of the known drug corridors.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Aug 2015 @ 11:25am

      Re: The Fraudulent Vehicle Registration is the Probable Cause

      A Google search for Tonya Smith, Kankakee, yields nothing, as does one for Tonya Smith and Larry Bentley…
      15% of Americans don’t use the internet. Who are they?”, by Monica Anderson and Andrew Perrin, Pew Research Center, July 28, 2015
      For many Americans, going online is an important way to connect with friends and family, shop, get news and search for information. Yet today, 15% of U.S. adults do not use the internet, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of survey data. . . .
      If Google doesn't turn up a hit on someone, then it tends to show that they're dead?

      Dude.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Andrew D. Todd, 8 Aug 2015 @ 12:41pm

        Re: Re: The Fraudulent Vehicle Registration is the Probable Cause

        I got the impression from early reports, within a year or so of the arrest, that the police were trying to give the impression to the media that they had just "got lucky" in a traffic stop. They presumably hoped to reel in some couriers before the drug dealers figured out that their phony vehicle registrations had been penetrated.

        An internet seach brings up all kinds of things, like telephone directories. I ran a google search on the address where I lived, in Philadelphia, in the early 1990's, and the sites it brought up seemed to know a good deal about my old neighbors, including one who went back to El Salvador in 1992. At least two of the neighbors were very old people, who, even if they had lived long enough, would have been very unlikely to get on the internet. People didn't scan historical telephone directories for the sake of scanning historical directories. They scanned current directories at a time when the precursors of the internet were beginning to take off, because they hoped to make money doing so. My Salvadoran friend might have gotten listed via Drexel University's student directory, and student directories have long been notorious for being sold back and forth. But the old people had reached the stage where they could not get out without assistance, and this was before grocery stores had bonus cards. On the whole, I don't see how anyone but a hospital or the Catholic Church could have known their ages, for example. The priest from the local church did visit regularly, and I suppose he maintained his records, possibly on a personal computer.

        Note that Bentley got twenty years, which is the minimum penalty for the second offense of bulk cocaine dealing. Which of course makes one wonder where his first offense was. I wonder if this is the same man. This man was arrested in 1994 in St. Louis, attempting to buy $100,000 worth of cocaine, and got ten years. He was with another guy, probably the bodyguard. He and his associate really did produce the money to buy the drugs, which means that he was "connected" somehow.

        http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-8th-circuit/1340041.html

        If so, the minute the officer ran his ID, that would have popped up. If it was the same man, and the cops had connected the dots, they just weren't going to give up.

        -------------------------------------------------------------
        http://herald-review.com/news/local/ bloominton-police-dog-s-nose-in-middle-of-cocaine-arrest/article_ad65d548-e9c0-11e1-904a-001a4bcf887 a.html

        EDITH BRADY-LUNNY - Lee News Service Writer, Bloominton police dog's nose in middle of cocaine arrest case, Decatur, Il., Herald Review, August 19, 2012
        ------------------------------------------------------------------------
        http://www.justice.gov/a rchive/usao/ilc/press/2010/10October/19Bentley.html

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  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 8 Aug 2015 @ 11:51am

    Dog abuse.

    I've pointed out before before detection dogs when tested or studied have a higher than 50% false positive rate even in ideal circumstances. It's way high (in the 80%-99% range) when it comes to searches of racial minorities.

    So you're going to get better results with a coin flip or dowsing rods.

    Detection dog sniffs targeting a small group (e.g. less than ten people) should require a warrant. Maybe detection dogs being run by long lines of cars or piles of luggage might be acceptable so long as the dog is getting more hits than misses.

    As the laws stand, though, dogs are essentially a bypass of fourth amendment protections.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 8 Aug 2015 @ 9:55pm

      Re: Dog abuse.

      I think that the whole traffic control situation is not really suitable for dogs as long as the dog leader is not quite independent from the department involved with doing the searches. Too much "hunching" going on.

      A much better situation are cargo searches at customs: there is a lot less distraction, and false positives inconvenience the handler (meaning he is not going to explicitly or implicitly reward the dog) without leading to rights violations.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Aug 2015 @ 10:07pm

    What technological means can be used to mitigate the problem?

    As this subject has come up a number of times before, one has been thinking about technological solutions to dog alerts and preventing ingress of unwanted guests.

    What sort of things keep dogs away, as in either, are uncomfortable or irritating to them? Both sound and chemical irritants are known.

    What sort of things keep humans away, as in either, are uncomfortable or irritating to them? Both sound and chemical irritants are known.

    So, next question. How to dispense irritants surreptitiously so that persons and animals outside the vehicle want to remove themselves from the vicinity with no further interactions?

    Following that, how to make readily available to all and sundry to implement on vehicles?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Aug 2015 @ 1:31am

    [...] affirming the conviction of a man found with 15 kilos of cocaine.

    See, that's part of the problem right there: The few ruining it for the many.

    Because a few dozen idiots choose to use their cars to transport illicit substances every year, ordinary citizens can't enjoy the comfort and privacy of their own anymore.

    It's cases like these that validate oppressive regulations in the eyes of judges everywhere.
    Not to mention inflating the ego of officers who now think of themselves as "heroes", even though such cases are overall statistically insignificant.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    oldschool (profile), 10 Aug 2015 @ 6:23am

    recent 4th amendment rulings...

    So the dog sniffs the air and tells his handler that there are drugs in the car but no drugs are found. What to do? Well, since the dog is considered a law enforcement official sue the dog as a law enforcement official, his handler, his supervisor, the chief, the mayor, and the state (if the state certifies the dog). It would be obvious that the dog was providing false testimony in order to get probable cause.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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