Cars Parked in Driveways Entitled to Privacy Protections, Says US Supreme Court

From the L.A. Times:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday extended the Constitution’s privacy protection to include vehicles that are parked on a home’s driveway or carport, ruling that police need a search warrant before they may inspect them.

In general, police may look closely at cars that are parked along public roads, without the need for a search warrant.

But in Tuesday’s 8-1 ruling, the justices said a vehicle parked in a carport or on private property adjacent to a home deserves the privacy protection of the 4th Amendment.

“When a law enforcement officer physically intrudes” on private property and walks up to a house to look for evidence, “a search within the meaning of the 4th Amendment has occurred,” wrote Justice Sonia Sotomayor in Collins vs. Virginia. “Such conduct thus is presumptively unreasonable without a warrant.”

Tuesday’s ruling closely tracks a decision in 2013 when the court ruled that police may not bring a drug-sniffing dog to the front porch of a home without a search warrant. In both instances, the justices said the 4th Amendment gives its greatest protection for homes and the private property surrounding them.

The court ruled in favor of Ryan Collins, a Virginia man who was convicted of stealing a motorcycle. Two officers in Albemarle County were in search of a distinctive orange-and-black-colored cycle they had seen speeding. After doing some research on Facebook, they saw Collins had posted a photograph of the cycle.

One officer stopped at the house where Collins was living and saw from the street what looked to be a motorcycle under a tarp. It was next to the house. The officer walked up the driveway, lifted the tarp and took several photos of the cycle. Collins was arrested and convicted.

The Virginia courts rejected his claim that the search was unconstitutional, citing the automobile exception to the 4th Amendment. In defending the conviction, the state’s lawyers agreed an officer may not enter a closed garage, but they argued there was no such bar on checking a vehicle in plain sight on the property.

The Supreme Court disagreed with both the state’s courts, and the state’s fallback legal position about plain sight.

Appellate Court rules police cannot enter home without warrant or consent to investigate accident

In a new decision, the Illinois Appellate Court, Second District, affirmed a ruling from a DeKalb County case, rescinding a DUI suspension and suppressing evidence, after police entered a man’s home, without a warrant or obtaining consent to enter, to investigate a  a report of a man acting confused and disoriented which lead to the discovery of a one car accident.  The case is People v. Swanson, 2016 IL App (2d) 150340.

In summary, the evidence showed that the defendant left a tavern and got into an accident on a cold, snowy and icy night.  He sought shelter at a nearby home, but the homeowner would not let him enter and instead called the police.  The defendant ran off, and ultimately arrived at home, where, according to his wife, he consumed alcohol to “warm up.”  Prior to his arrival at home, police had responded to the homeowner’s call, discovered the smashed vehicle, and visited the defendant’s home and spoke to his wife.  She was asked to call the police when he arrived, which she did, but when police arrived, she did not let them enter and told them that she was taking care of her husband.  The police entered anyway and arrested him for leaving the scene of an accident and DUI.

The case upheld a longstanding proposition of law that police cannot enter a person’s home without a warrant or without consent, unless there are exigent circumstances.

Lesson:  remember your rights.  Because this man’s wife insisted on them, the case against him is history.

Man clenches his butt, police get doctors to probe him for hours and hours

Here is an amazing story out of New Mexico.  Local police made a traffic stop, and when the police decided that the driver clenched his buttocks too much, they proceeded to obtain a search warrant to take him to a hospital to conduct numerous medical tests, including x-rays and probes.  The doctor at the first hospital refused to perform the tests, so the driver was taken to a second hospital.  As it turns out, the tests were outside the limits of the search warrant (which only allowed for a test within a few hours and within that particular county).

Now the cops, prosecutors, doctors and hospitals are all part of a civil rights lawsuit.

Here is an excerpt from the story:

The incident began January 2, 2013 after David Eckert finished shopping at the Wal-Mart in Deming.  According to a federal lawsuit, Eckert didn’t make a complete stop at a stop sign coming out of the parking lot and was immediately stopped by law enforcement.

Eckert’s attorney, Shannon Kennedy, said in an interview with KOB that after law enforcement asked him to step out of the vehicle, he appeared to be clenching his buttocks.  Law enforcement thought that was probable cause to suspect that Eckert was hiding narcotics in his anal cavity.  While officers detained Eckert, they secured a search warrant from a judge that allowed for an anal cavity search.

The lawsuit claims that Deming Police tried taking Eckert to an emergency room in Deming, but a doctor there refused to perform the anal cavity search citing it was “unethical.”

But physicians at the Gila Regional Medical Center in Silver City agreed to perform the procedure and a few hours later, Eckert was admitted.

What Happened

While there, Eckert was subjected to repeated and humiliating forced medical procedures.  A review of Eckert’s medical records, which he released to KOB, and details in the lawsuit show the following happened:

1. Eckert’s abdominal area was x-rayed; no narcotics were found.

2. Doctors then performed an exam of Eckert’s anus with their fingers; no narcotics were found.

3. Doctors performed a second exam of Eckert’s anus with their fingers; no narcotics were found.

4. Doctors penetrated Eckert’s anus to insert an enema.  Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers.  Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool.  No narcotics were found.

5. Doctors penetrated Eckert’s anus to insert an enema a second time.  Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers.  Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool.  No narcotics were found.

6. Doctors penetrated Eckert’s anus to insert an enema a third time.  Eckert was forced to defecate in front of doctors and police officers.  Eckert watched as doctors searched his stool.  No narcotics were found.

7. Doctors then x-rayed Eckert again; no narcotics were found.

8. Doctors prepared Eckert for surgery, sedated him, and then performed a colonoscopy where a scope with a camera was inserted into Eckert’s anus, rectum, colon, and large intestines.  No narcotics were found.

Throughout this ordeal, Eckert protested and never gave doctors at the Gila Regional Medical Center consent to perform any of these medical procedures.

 

 

More proof that the “War on Drugs” has gone too far

So you are pulled over for a traffic violation, and the police find a small amount of marijuana in your car.

Of course, being forcibly injected with a muscle relaxer, then intubated with a breathing tube and having the police probe your buttocks is just what you expected to happen next.

Oh you didn’t?  What country do you live in?

From RT.com:

Police violated a suspect’s Fourth Amendment rights when, in an attempt to find drugs on his person, they temporarily paralyzed him and administered an anal probe, a US federal court has ruled.

Felix Booker and his brother were driving through Oak Ridge, Tennessee in February 2010 when police stopped their vehicle. Smelling marijuana, police brought a K-9 unit to the scene, which alerted them to drugs in the car. Even though police are only authorized to give a ticket when finding less than 14 grams of marijuana, officers arrested Booker after finding .06 grams in his car.
The suspect was booked for felony possession of marijuana and strip-searched at the police station. At that point investigators noticed Booker was “fidgeting” and a doctor threatened to temporarily paralyze him if he did not consent to an anal probe.
Booker, who was handcuffed and naked except for a thin hospital apron, consented but doctors later testified that he still “clenched” during the invasive search. He was injected with a muscle relaxant with a tube forced down his throat to regulate his breathing.
Dr. Michael LaPaglia then found 10.2 grams of crack cocaine hidden in Booker’s rectum. The doctor estimated that Booker had been physically incapacitated for under ten minutes and strapped to a breathing machine for an hour. He was convicted of possession with intent to distribute and sentenced to five years in prison.
The US Court of appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in a 2-1 ruling Monday, overturned his conviction and said that police could not use the drugs obtained from inside Booker against him because the paralysis, intubation, and anal probe were in clear violation of Booker’s Fourth Amendment rights.
An attorney for the police said LaPaglia, not officers, was responsible for the cavity search. The court, not entirely disagreeing, said police frequently took suspects to LaPaglia when they suspected drugs were in an individual’s rectum and that they “effectively used Dr. LaPaglia as a tool to perform a search on Booker’s person.”
The judges, as quoted by Think Progress, said a medical procedure of this sort does not “immunize the procedures from Fourth Amendment scrutiny” and that such cooperation between police and the doctor “is one of the greatest dignitary intrusions that could flow from a medical procedure.”
In another recent incident of police testing the limit of “reasonable search and seizure,” two Texas state troopers were indicted earlier this year for sexual assault and oppression after they were recorded searching a woman’s anus and vagina when she threw a cigarette out of her car window.

FYI: Why you should never consent to a police search

Over on the Huffington Post, Scott Morgan has an article entitled 5 Reasons You Should Never Agree to a Police Search (even if you have nothing to hide).  I highly recommend reading it and passing along the link.

Here is one of his “five reasons”:

Refusing a search protects you if you end up in court.

It’s always possible that police might search you anyway when you refuse to give consent, but that’s no reason to say “yes” to the search. Basically, if there’s any chance of evidence being found, agreeing to a search is like committing legal suicide, because it kills your case before you even get to court.

If you refuse a search, however, the officer will have to prove in court that there was probable cause to do a warrantless search. This will give your lawyer a good chance to win your case, but this only works if you said “no” to the search.

Check it out!