COURT DENIES SUPPRESSION OF GUN AND SHELLS

Police Officers Derek Sullivan and Emmett Macken observed a small group of men outside a rooming house in Manchester, New Hampshire known for drug activity. It appeared as if a drug deal was in progress. The officers followed two of the men, Joshua Lacy and Bryan Bleau to a parking lot behind the residence. Bleau and Lacy were joined by a third man. A black Honda arrived and Bleau got in the passenger side. The car drove away. After a […] Read more »

A CALL TO REDUCE THE NUMBER OF TERRY STOPS IN NYC

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer called for a reduction in the city’s stop and frisk policy. Last year the NYPD made 600,000 stops and this year they will probably make 700,000. Most of the stops are of young African American and Latino men. Over 85 percent of the stops are of non-whites. A young African American or Latino is nine times more likely to be stopped than a white person. Yet only seven percent of these stops result in arrests. […] Read more »

FOURTH CIRCUIT CALLS OFFICER’S JUSTIFICATION FOR SEARCH ABSURD

Stephen Digiovanni rented a car in Fort Lauderdale, took the autotrain to Washington D. C and drove towards his home in Boston. Driving on I-95 in Maryland, he was stopped by Trooper Chrisotpher Connor for following the car in front of him too closely. Connor noticed that Digiovanni was somewhat nervous. Furthermore, the car was clean, shirts were hanging in the back without a clothing bag and there was a hygiene bag in the back seat. All of these things […] Read more »

ILLEGAL POLICE SEARCHES VIDEOTAPED IN SAN FRANCISCO

Criminal defense attorneys, and I suspect district attorneys and judges, have long doubted consent searches. In a consent search the police avoid getting a search warrant by obtaining consent of the person being searched or of the person in possession of the house or car. But these searches are easy to fabricate. There are often no witnesses and its the officer’s word against the defendant’s. But there is little we can do. The question at trial is not the truth […] Read more »

SIXTH CIRCUIT: CONSENT GIVEN WHILE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF MORPHINE IS FREELY AND VOLUNTARY

The Sixth Circuit found that McCellon Montgomery was capable of freely and voluntarily giving consent, allowing the police to search his property despite being in the hospital under the influence of morphine within hours of being shot in his back by an unknown assailant. Montgomery was on his back porch. He was shot with birdshot or buckshot by someone hiding in nearby trees. His girlfriend called the police. The police could not find the shooter but they did see marijuana […] Read more »

MICHELLE ALEXANDER ON THE INCARCERATION OF AFRICAN AMERICAN YOUTH

The statistics are shocking. Human Rights Watch reported in 2000 that in seven states 80 to 90 percent of those sent to prison for drug offenses were African American. In at least fifteen states African Americans were sent to prison from twenty to fifty-seven times as often as white men. In 2000 twenty-six times as many African Americans were sent to prison for drug offenses as in 1983. Likewise the number of Latinos sent to prison increased by 22 times […] Read more »

EIGHTH CIRCUIT FINDS CONSENT TO BE VOLUNTARY

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the conviction and 180 month sentence for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in United States v, Kelley Kelley was convicted after a bench trial in the District Court for the Western District of Missouri of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Two burglars were interviewed by the Greene County Sheriff’s Department. They admitted being involved in a string of burglaries and said that stolen guns could be found […] Read more »

CONVICTION REVERSED FOR WARRANTLESS SEARCH

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the conviction in a case where the District court wrongly denied the defendant motion to dismiss on illegal search and seizure grounds. Two United States marshals went to the Missouri residence of Gary McMullin, looking for Daryl Crowder who was wanted on an Illinois warrant. While Marshall Newlin knocked at the front door, Marshall Davis covered the back door. McMullin consented to Newlin coming in and he told the marshal that he was […] Read more »

MINOR ACTIONS LEAD TO MAJOR ARRESTS

Often small errors end up in people being arrested and convicted of major crimes. I have seen this many times over the years. But the point was brought home by two cases listed on FourthAmendment.com. First a little bit about the Fourth Amendment. It states: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by […] Read more »