Τρίτη, 2 Απριλίου 2013

Judges Rule on Police Practices Along the Canada-New York Border: No Unreasonable Searches, No Unreasonable Stops


freeishA U.S. district judge ruled on Friday that cops
in Niagara County, New York were wrong to detain a couple for hours
for having windows tinted beyond what’s allowed in the state (it
was a permissible tint in Tennessee, where the car was registered)
and that, further, from the
Newspaper
:


"Given that material issues of fact exist as to whether
the continued detention of plaintiffs was constitutionally
permissible, a reasonable fact-finder could find that it was
objectively unreasonable for the officers to conclude that removal
of plaintiffs to a border facility, a further search and x-ray of
their car without their consent, and their continued detention for
an unspecified amount of time, did not violate plaintiffs'
constitutional rights," Judge [Richard] Arcara ruled.

The couple says in the lawsuit they were stopped because they
were black.


Meanwhile, a county judge in St. Lawrence, New York
earlier ruled the Border Patrol
could not
stop somebody just for driving carefully, even if a
subsequent search turned up drugs. From the
Newspaper
:


Agent [Brandon] Carrier became suspicious and about an
hour into the stop a drug dog was called to the scene, and a tire
filled with marijuana was found in the trunk. This evidence,
however, was thrown out because the traffic stop itself was deemed
invalid and the Border Patrol had no business stopping them.


"The court believes that Officer Carrier decided to follow the
white SUV and do a radio run because the driver appeared nervous,"
Judge [Kathleen] Rogers ruled. "Her actions were completely
consistent with a person who was not engaged in any criminal
activity. There was no basis to believe that a vehicle with a NYS
license plate and registration had crossed the border or was
engaged in any way with smuggling persons or contraband across the
border."


Agent Carrier testified that he also became suspicious when he
learned the car was registered to someone with the common Indian
name of Deer.


"A vehicle stop must be valid at its inception: it cannot be
bootstrapped into reasonable suspicion by mounting concerns over
diverging explanations from the vehicle occupants as to their
intended destination," Judge Rogers ruled. "His candid testimony
that the occupants looked like Mohawks and that one had what
Carrier believed is a Mohawk name, and that the car was listed for
an address near the Mohawk Indian reservation bordered on improper
racial profiling."

It may have turned out differently in the agent had said his dog
alerted him from the beginning, based on
the recent unanimous Supreme Court ruling
that a dog’s ok was
enough to warrant a search by police.

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