29 May 2015

Who lives next door?

     Who lives next door?  So the guy living next door to you is a registered sex offender.  This is horrible you say.  We can't have a sex offender living next door to us.  Call the sheriff and see if he can do something about it.  Our kids won't even be able to play in the yard now. Oh woe! What do we do?  The guy has kids too; he might be attending school events where other kids will be.  We need to call the school right now.

     These are remarks one often hears from people speaking about sex offenders.  The remarks come from people ignorant of what the sex offender did to qualify as a sex offender.  Most, if not all the sex offenders I have represented are pretty harmless folks.  One has the opportunity to get to know the people he represents and I can assure you that I have not conceived as a threat the possibility any that I have represented living in my neighborhood.  

     Who would you rather have living next door to you:  A burglar or a sex offender?  I'll take the sex offender.  Maybe we should make burglars register also.  We could institute a 2,000 foot rule from any residential area which would cause them all to move to some place like Nevada.  And how about speeders?  I really don't think a person who has multiple speeding tickets be allowed to live in a residential neighborhood where there are kids playing on sidewalks, streets, and intersections.  It is too high a possibility of one being hit by a car driven by an habitual speeder to allow them to reside anywhere there might be kids.

     It is too late for the legislature to address any of these issues, but for all party activists, it is not too early to begin thinking about the agenda for next year.  Its time that the legislature begins taking care of us decent folk and quit coddling criminals.


21 May 2015

Riley v. California

     The United States Supreme Court recently in Riley v. California ruled that law enforcement needs a warrant to search a person's cell phone.  Mr. Riley was arrested on the highway.  Taken back to the station, a detective looked at the contents of his cell phone resulting in further charges against Mr. Riley.  The Court held the a warrant was required; that a significant amount of personal information is located on a person's cell phone; and, that an expectation of privacy exists with regard to cell phones. The Court is correct in its decision and the rationale for it.  I would suggest that for many, the phone is the sole repository of personal information a person may possess.

     In most warrants relating to drug investigations, the request includes cell phones on the premises or on the person the subject of the warrant.  The rationale is that if you are selling or buying drugs the arrangements are being made through the phone.  This would be a fairly reasonable inference to make.  Too bad no one has land lines any longer where local calls can't be traced.  Phone numbers, text messages, and other forms of messaging can be retrieved.  One thing leads to another, once they find something of interest on your phone, they can obtain warrants for your on line services such as Facebook, twitter, etc.  

15 May 2015

Rodriguez v. United States

     The United States Supreme Court decided Rodriguez v. United States on 21 April 2015.  It is a good case.  The Iowa State Interdiction Team and presumably, the highway patrols of other states, stop out-of-state vehicles for minor infractions for the purpose of finding drugs.  The vehicles stopped are the customary  suspects--Colorado, Oregon, Washington, California.  But vehicles licensed in other states also draw attention of the Interdiction Team so don't be complaisant.  Iowa's Team has dogs for the sole purpose of dog sniffs or finding drugs.  Prior to 21 April 2015, the defense to a drug sniff was the time of the wait for the dog to arrive.  Since a traffic stop should be brief, a lengthy wait for a dog was not reasonable.  The Court in Rodriquez, however, decided the time of the wait was irrelevant.  The office requesting the dog must have a reasonable suspicion of illegal activity.  Being a man of color in a rental car from a west coast state is no longer enough.  You can bet that any officer worth his salary will be able to come up with something to say he had reasonable suspicion, but it is better than it was.