Negligent error, erroneous arrest...guess what? Still guilty. - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 01-15-2009, 10:06 AM Thread Starter
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Negligent error, erroneous arrest...guess what? Still guilty.

I haven't read the opinion (probably won't, since I don't really need to vomit), but I'm still trying to discern the logic that underlies the decision as summarized in this article. Typically the Court tends to shy away from slippery slopes, but to me this one seems to be made of teflon, sprayed with Mobil1 and has a sheet of ice atop that.

High court OKs using evidence from search arising from error
By Joan Biskupic, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — A divided Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that drug evidence found during an unlawful arrest arising from a computer error about a warrant could be used at trial against the defendant.

When police mistakes that lead to an unlawful search arise from "negligence … rather than systematic error or reckless disregard of constitutional requirements," evidence need not be kept from trial, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the 5-4 majority in the case from Alabama.

He was joined by the four other conservative justices: Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.

The four liberal justices — Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Paul Stevens, David Souter and Stephen Breyer — dissented. They said that because the search violated the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, the evidence should have been excluded. "The most serious impact of the court's holding will be on innocent persons wrongfully arrested based on erroneous information carelessly maintained in a computer database," Ginsburg wrote for the dissenters.

She cited findings from the Electronic Privacy Information Center that government databases are rife with errors.

The Roberts majority focused on the societal costs of excluding drugs and other evidence seized. The court enhanced officers' ability to use evidence by arguing that an unlawful arrest was not reckless or deliberate.

A warrant clerk in Coffee County, Ala., mistakenly told a police investigator that a warrant from a nearby county was out for Bennie Dean Herring, who had driven to the Coffee County Sheriff's Department to get something from his impounded truck. The Dale County computer error was quickly discovered. But by the time the warrant clerk alerted the police investigator, Herring had been arrested and found with an illegal pistol and with methamphetamine in his pocket.

After Herring was indicted on federal gun and drug possession charges, he argued the evidence could not be used against him because the arrest was illegal. The Fourth Amendment requires police to have a warrant or probable cause to make an arrest.

Lower U.S. courts rejected his claim, and the Supreme Court affirmed. Like the lower courts, the Roberts majority said the mistake arose from negligence rather than a deliberate effort to deprive Herring of his rights.

A "friend of the court" brief from the Electronic Privacy Information Center said, "Increasingly, law enforcement officials and other government employees are relying on government and commercial databases full of mistakes that are well-documented but rarely corrected."

Stanford University law professor Jeffrey Fisher, who represented Herring, said the court's test is difficult because a defendant would be unlikely to show negligence in computerized records without doing an audit.

Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy; its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery. (Winston Churchill)
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 01-15-2009, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by gregs210 View Post
A "friend of the court" brief from the Electronic Privacy Information Center said, "Increasingly, law enforcement officials and other government employees are relying on government and commercial databases full of mistakes that are well-documented but rarely corrected."
Just WOW.

As if there is not enough already, I anticipate more "neglegence" in our future if this type of crap is allowed to continue.

For those who wonder why McCain was NOT a good choice, this is it. His abilities to impact the future with dumbasses like John Roberts.


Being smart is knowing the difference, in a sticky situation between a well delivered anecdote and a well delivered antidote - bear.
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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 01-15-2009, 01:57 PM
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So much for holding LEA's to a higher standard of conduct....
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