Time: Fri Jun 13 15:10:40 1997
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	Fri, 13 Jun 1997 14:42:32 -0700 (MST)
Date: Fri, 13 Jun 1997 14:41:11 -0700
To: (Recipient list suppressed)
From: Paul Andrew Mitchell [address in tool bar]
Subject: SLS: Copswatch (fwd)
Status: U

>This sounds like a great thing to have posted and linked. 
>I will send an email to the atty and see if he can do the page so we can
just link 
>to it. 
>If not do we have any web page vols that would like to take this on?
>Mark Greer
>Media Awareness Project (MAP) Inc.
>-------------Forwarded Message-----------------
>RE:	Fwd: Copswatch
>Dear Friends,
>If y'all haven't subscribed to "Copswatch" yet, please read this particular
>segment.  For those of you who don't already know, "Copswatch" is a weekly
>posting from an attorney in CA who watches the show "Cops" then discusses the
>legality of the police behavior.  Valuable information for protection from
>overzealous law enforcement is usually in these postings -- especially this
>one which deals with needles and marijuana.  Please forward this message to
>anyone who should have it, and consider subscribing to Copswatch today.  (I
>think it's free -- just send a "subscribe" message to the Copswatch address
>contained herein.)
>Take care,
>Chuck Thomas
>Marijuana Policy Project
>Washington, D.C.
>Forwarded message:
>From:	copswatch@bevcom.org
>To:	Copswatch@main.cwnet.com
>Date: 97-06-11 04:46:16 EDT
>This list digest contains the following message subjects:
>Copswatch Report, No. 23,  June 7, 1997
>This week's TV show was filmed in Washington.
>Segment Two.  5:16 p.m. Man With A Gun.
>Facts and Commentary:  A citizen has called the cops to report a man seen
>carrying a gun.  Deputy Zaro, adds that "she also said that she thought it 
>was part of some kinda drug deal but she didn't say what made her think
>that."  Deputy Zaro spots a man standing nearby a car described by the
>citizen informer, and immediately says to the man: "come here . . . take
>your hands out of your pockets." 
>As soon as Deputy Zaro said "come here," a detention began because a
>reasonable person would not have felt free to leave.  A detention is only
>lawful if it is based on a reasonable suspicion that the person is involved
>in criminal activity.  The detention here was lawful because it was based
>on information by a citizen informer that the man had a gun, and citizen
>informers are presumed reliable (i.e., cops can rely on their information
>without taking steps to corroborate it).  Because the report was of a man
>with a gun it was reasonable, for officer safety concerns, to immediately
>order the man to take his hands out of his jacket pockets.
>Deputy Zaro then begins a pat-search of the man's jacket pockets and canbe
>seen squeezing the outside of the man's pockets without entering them.
>This was lawful. However, as Deputy Zaro is reading the man his rights, he
>begins searching *inside* the man's pockets. This was unlawful, because it
>is only justified if the pat-search revealed a hard object that could be
>used as a weapon.  At the same time, another cop is seen pat-searching the
>other side of the man's jacket and feels something in the right front
>pocket.  The cop says: "I can't tell what this is," following which he
>reaches into the man's pocket and retrieves what appears to be a small gun.
>The man immediately says that the object is really a lighter and, indeed,
>the cops' examination proves that what appeared to be a gun was in fact a
>As soon as the cops determined that the man simply had a lighter, the sole
>justification for detaining him came to an end.  The citizen informer was
>clear that she merely had a hunch that the man may have been dealing drugs.
>Therefore, I don't think the cops had a sufficient legal basis for
>continuing to detain the man in order to investigate the flimsy and unsure
>suspicion of drug dealing.
>The cops, however, continue to detain the man, and one cop is seen
>searching inside the man's jacket pockets, wherein he finds two syringes.
>In my opinion, this was an unlawful search premised on an unlawfully
>prolonged detention. Also, the cop that found the syringes looks like he
>did not detect them until he unlawfully reached inside the mans pockets.=20
>Had he felt them through the man's jacket during the pat-search, and was
>able to detect that they were syringes, he would have been entitled to
>reach inside the pocket and seize the syringes.  In that situation the pat
>search would have provided probable cause that the man was in possession 
>of syringes. But, that did not appear to be the case here. So, the syringes
>were the product of an unlawful search and should be excluded from
>At this point, of course, the cops are not going to end the encounter.
>After finding the syringes they are convinced that the man must also be in
>possession of drugs.  (They also notice injection marks on the man's arms,
>and what looks like nystagmus - a side-to-side flitting of the eyes, caused
>by some drugs.)
>Now the cops are reaching inside the mans pants pockets and removing paper
>objects and other things. They feel something in his crotch area and, after
>unbuttoning the man's pants and reaching inside, they retrieve a golf ball
>sized balloon of suspected contraband. Then we watch the most ridiculous
>questioning session by the two cops; a cop version of Beavis and Butthead.
>Finally, they arrest the man.
>As I said, in my opinion the encounter became unlawful once the cops
>determined that the man did not have a gun.  The evidence seized after that
>point in the encounter was seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment and
>should be excluded from court.
>Segment Three. 8:34 p.m. Car Stop.
>Facts and Commentary:  This segment shows the method by which tens of
>thousands of marijuana-related arrests occur each year.
>Deputy McCurdy stops a Camero because it is missing a gas cap.  (Presumably
>this is a vehicle code violation in Florida, if not then the entire
>encounter is unlawful.) 
>Because crimes involving marijuana are victimless the police rely largely
>on serendipity to catch casual smokers like the men in this segment.
>Deputy McCurdy lawfully used a very minor vehicle code violation to justify
>stopping the vehicle.  When Deputy McCurdy learned that the driver has no
>driver's license, the deputy was justified in prolonging the detention
>until he could determine the exact status of the man's license in order to
>write him a citation. 
>Deputy McCurdy determines that the driver has a warrant and arrests him. At
>that point, the deputy was legally permitted to search the driver incident
>to his arrest.  The search uncovered a pipe and a baggie with a small bud
>of Cannabis.  So, everything with the driver was lawful.
>Deputy McCurdy notices that the backseat passenger does not have his
>seatbelt on and asks for the man's identification in order to write him a
>citation.  Another cop orders the man out of the car.  So far this is all
>lawful.  However, upon getting the man out of the car, the other cop jumps
>right into an illegal search reaching inside the man's pockets.  The
>search, however, turns up nothing illegal.  Rather, a warrant check shows
>that the man has an outstanding warrant and he is arrested on that.  So,
>other than the illegal search which was fruitless, the man in the back seat
>was lawfully arrested.
>To underline the obvious, automobile passengers living in states with
>seatbelt laws should keep their seatbelts on when pulled over by a cop in
>order to avoid an outcome like that involving the back seat passenger in
>this segment.  Had this man had his seatbelt buckled, he likely would have
>walked away from this encounter rather than being arrested on an
>outstanding warrant.
>Finally, the front seat passenger is arrested after Deputy McCurdy sees a
>plastic bag sticking out of his pocket.  After arresting the man, Deputy
>McCurdy performs a search incident to the arrest and finds that the baggie
>contains a small amount of marijuana. 
>The front seat passenger was unlawfully arrested and searched.  Simply
>seeing a plastic bag sticking out of someone's pocket is not sufficient, by
>itself, to establish probable cause that the person is in possession of
>contraband.  Therefore, the arrest was not premised on probable cause and
>the marijuana seized in the subsequent search should be thrown out of court
>as "fruit of the poisonous tree"  a legal doctrine that holds that cops
>can't use their own unlawful action (in this case the arrest) as a stepping
>stone to a search.
>In my practice, I *commonly* see people arrested for marijuana-related
>crimes after their cars were stopped for such minor mechanical problems as:
>loud muffler, cracked windshield, missing headlight, broken tail light,
>dirty license plate, missing license plate light bulb, bald tires, etc.
>Driving a car with such problems is equivalent to driving around with a
>placard on your car inviting any police officer to pull you over at any
>time.  People interested in protecting their privacy, therefore, are well
>advised to keep their vehicles in proper working order. 
>The Copswatch Report features the commentary of Richard Glen Boire, Esq.,
>and is orchestrated, with love, by the Who's Watching Who division of
>Spectral Mindustries (specmind@cwnet.com).  It is technologically
>facilitated by Bevcom Technologies.  http://www.bevcom.org/copswatch.htm 
>To subscribe to the Copswatch Report please e-mail copswatch@bevcom.org
>with the message "subscribe". To unsubscribe, please send e-mail to the
>same address with the message "unsubscribe." 

Paul Andrew Mitchell                 : Counselor at Law, federal witness
B.A., Political Science, UCLA;  M.S., Public Administration, U.C. Irvine

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