"War on Drugs" Employs Forced Colonoscopy and Enema

"War on Drugs" Employs Forced Colonoscopy and Enema

These New Mexico officers really dig for the truth.  

David Eckert, 54, spent more than 12 hours in custody last January at a police station and local hospital after being pulled over for a traffic violation. Yet he was never charged, nor did authorities find illicit substances on him.

. . . 

After Eckert was pulled over, a Deming police officer said that he saw Eckert "was avoiding eye contact with me," his "left hand began to shake," and he stood "erect (with) his legs together," the affidavit stated.

Eckert was told he could go home after a third officer issued him a traffic citation. But before he did, Eckert voluntarily consented to a search of him and his vehicle, the affidavit states. A K-9 dog subsequently hit on a spot in the Dodge's driver's seat, though no drugs were found.

. . . 

Eckert was then put in "investigative detention" and transported around 2 p.m. to the Deming Police Department.

Sometime after that, a judge signed off a search warrant "to include but not limited to his anal cavity."

The next stop was Gila Regional Medical Center, where the lawsuit states "no drugs were found" in "an x-ray and two digital searches of his rectum by two different doctors." One doctor at this time found nothing unusual in his stool.

Three enemas were conducted on Eckert after 10:20 p.m. A chest X-ray followed, succeeded by a colonoscopy around 1:25 a.m.

After all this, "no drugs were found in or on Plaintiff's person."

I wonder how much taxpayer dollars were spent here to go after an amount of drugs no larger than will fit in the human colon.  That's going to be at most a misdemeanor amount of marijuana or a few grams of cocaine, methamphetamine or heroin.  Was it worth it?

Additionally, never, ever, ever consent to a search.  It can't help and it can only hurt.  Never do it.

Here's another take.  

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The Brown & Williams Cases Change Roadblock Law in Georgia

The Brown & Williams Cases Change Roadblock Law in Georgia

On October 21, 2013, the Georgia Supreme Court issued opinions in Brown v. State (S12G1287) and Williams v. State (S13G1078). Both were unanimous decisions and both changed Georgia law to the benefit of Georgia drivers and their rights.

Brown v. State is my case.  It involves a Cobb County Police Department roadblock conducted in Marietta in 2010. We won the motion to suppress in Superior Court.  The District Attorney appealed and the Court of Appeals reversed.  I appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court, we had oral arguments in April, and the high court reversed the Court of Appeals and reinstated the original ruling from Superior Court.

Williams v. State is a Bibb County (Macon) case.  In that case, Mr. Williams lost in Superior Court, appealed, lost again in the Court of Appeals, appealed, and finally prevailed in the Georgia Supreme Court.

In both cases, the Court reviews, clarifies, and enhances Georgia law to the benefit of future drivers everywhere.  These two specific drivers will avoid convictions that would have haunted them for life.

Other drivers who were charged out of the same roadblocks could have also avoided convictions had they been willing to put in the effort, time and resources that Brown and Williams were willing to devote to their cases.  This doesn't mean that everyone who fights back will win, but it shows that you can't win if you don't fight.  

If you are facing charges arising out of a roadblock ("safety checkpoint") in Georgia, don't just "roll over and play dead."   Fight for your rights, your freedom, and your good name.  Like Mr. Brown and Mr. Williams, never give up.












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US Supreme Court Bites Back at Dog Searches

US Supreme Court Bites Back at Dog Searches

While the media's attention is squarely focused on the issue of gay marriage, the United States Supreme Court has released its "easy" decision in Florida v. Jardines regarding whether the police can bring a drug dog to your front door for a sniff without a search warrant.  As SCOTUSblog explains:

In an opinion written by Justice Scalia, the Court affirmed the Florida Supreme Court. The Court held a dog sniff at the front door of a house where the police suspected drugs were being grown constitutes a search for purposes of the Fourth Amendment. Justice Kagan filed a concurrence joined by Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor. Justice Alito filed a dissent joined by the Chief Justice, and Justices Kennedy and Breyer.

Note that the opinion was written by Justice Scalia and joined by Justice Thomas and Justice Ginsburg.  We saw these same three join in the majority in the Kyllo case from 2001 which held that police pointing a thermal imaging device at a home was also a search for 4th Amendment purposes.  Property rights cases are interesting at the Supreme Court level because you will often find Justices labeled as "liberal" or "conservative" joining forces.  It's not odd to see "liberals" siding with the government nor to see "conservatives" siding with homeowners.

The first question the court has to answer is whether bringing a dog to a homeowner's door is a search.  If it is, then case closed, because these particular officers were not authorized to conduct a search.  If it is not a search, more questions would follow.

From the opinion:

[W]hen it comes to the Fourth Amendment, the home is first among equals. At the Amendment’s “very core” stands “the right of a man to retreat into his own home and there be free from unreasonable governmental intrusion.”    This right would be of little practical value if the State’s agents could stand in a home’s porch or side garden and trawl for evidence with impunity; the right to retreat would be significantly diminished if the police could enter a man’s property to observe his repose from just outside the front window.

We therefore regard the area “immediately surrounding and associated with the home”—what our cases call the curtilage—as “part of the home itself for Fourth Amendment purposes.”  That principle has ancient and durable roots. Just as the distinction between the home and the open fields is “as old as the common law,” so too is the identity of home and what Blackstone called the “curtilage or homestall,” for the “house protects and privileges all its branches and appurtenants.”  This area around the home is “intimately linked to the home, both physically and psychologically,” and is where “privacy expectations are most heightened.”  

While the boundaries of the curtilage are generally “clearly marked,” the “conception defining the curtilage” is at any rate familiar enough that it is “easily understood from our daily experience.”  Here there is no doubt that the officers entered it: The front porch is the classic exemplar of an area adjacent to the home and “to which the activity of home life extends.”

Because the Court holds that bringing a drug dog to the front door of a home is a search, they avoid having to answer other questions about whether a dog's behavior at the front door gives officers grounds for an immediate exigent circumstances search, a search warrant based on the dog's behavior, or nothing at all.  Those questions will have to wait for a later day, for as Justice Scalia writes, "One virtue of the Fourth Amendment’s property-rights baseline is that it keeps easy cases easy."

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Drug Dog's Nose is Good Enough

Drug Dog's Nose is Good Enough

One of the biggest abuses of power I regularly see is in the use of "drug dogs."  Police use a drug dog's "alert" to allow them to search places they normally can't legally search.  That's all well and good if the dog is reliable, but in this story we read about a drug dog that is right only 26% of the time!  That means that roughly three out of every four times the dog alerts, an innocent person is subjected to an illegal search.

But that's not legal is it?  Surely the courts wouldn't allow a dog that's wrong 75% of the time to be an excuse to ignore the Constitution?  Think again:

The nose of a drug-sniffing police dog is not so sharp, but it's good enough to support cocaine charges against Herbert Green.

. . .

Green's lawyer had argued that Bono's track record — drugs were found just 22 times out of 85 "alerts" by the dog — was so poor that police lacked probable cause to search Green's SUV.

. . . 

Bono "may not be a model of canine accuracy," Conrad wrote in an opinion filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Roanoke.

. . .

At a hearing earlier this month, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashley Neese defended the performance of the German shepherd.

In some cases where nothing was found after an alert by Bono, police later determined that drugs had been in the vehicle earlier, likely leaving an odor the dog was trained to detect, Neese said.

Taking those cases into account, Conrad found that Bono's accuracy rate was at least 50 percent.

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5 Reasons You Should Never Agree to a Police Search

Scott Morgan at Huffington Post lists the 5 Reasons to Never Consent to a Police Search.   Morgan writes:

It wouldn't even be such a big deal, I suppose, if our laws all made sense and our public servants always treated us as citizens first and suspects second. But thanks to the War on Drugs, nothing is ever that easy. When something as stupid as stopping people from possessing marijuana came to be considered a critical law enforcement function, innocence ceased to protect people against police harassment. From the streets of the Bronx to the suburbs of the Nation's Capital, you never have to look hard to find victims of the bias, incompetence, and corruption that the drug war delivers on a daily basis.

Whether or not you ever break the law, you should be prepared to protect yourself and your property just in case police become suspicious of you. Let's take a look at one of the most commonly misunderstood legal situations a citizen can encounter: a police officer asking to search your belongings. Most people automatically give consent when police ask to perform a search. However, I recommend saying "no" to police searches, and here are some reasons why:

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