Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Investing in a Bubble Mania Stock Market Trending Towards Financial Crisis 2.0 CRASH! - 9th Sep 21
2.Tech Stocks Bubble Valuations 2000 vs 2021 - 25th Sep 21
3.Stock Market FOMO Going into Crash Season - 8th Oct 21
4.Stock Market FOMO Hits September Brick Wall - Evergrande China's Lehman's Moment - 22nd Sep 21
5.Crypto Bubble BURSTS! BTC, ETH, XRP CRASH! NiceHash Seizes Funds on Account Halting ALL Withdrawals! - 19th May 21
6.How to Protect Your Self From a Stock Market CRASH / Bear Market? - 14th Oct 21
7.AI Stocks Portfolio Buying and Selling Levels Going Into Market Correction - 11th Oct 21
8.Why Silver Price Could Crash by 20%! - 5th Oct 21
9.Powell: Inflation Might Not Be Transitory, After All - 3rd Oct 21
10.Global Stock Markets Topped 60 Days Before the US Stocks Peaked - 23rd Sep 21
Last 7 days
Stock Market Trend Forecast Early 2022 - Tech Growth Value Stocks Rotation - 18th Jan 22
Stock Market Sentiment Speaks: Are We Setting Up For A 'Mini-Crash'? - 18th Jan 22
Mobile Sports Betting is on a rise: Here’s why - 18th Jan 22
Exponential AI Stocks Mega-trend - 17th Jan 22
THE NEXT BITCOIN - 17th Jan 22
Gold Price Predictions for 2022 - 17th Jan 22
How Do Debt Relief Services Work To Reduce The Amount You Owe? - 17th Jan 22
RIVIAN IPO Illustrates We are in the Mother of all Stock Market Bubbles - 16th Jan 22
All Market Eyes on Copper - 16th Jan 22
The US Dollar Had a Slip-Up, but Gold Turned a Blind Eye to It - 16th Jan 22
A Stock Market Top for the Ages - 16th Jan 22
FREETRADE - Stock Investing Platform, the Good, Bad and Ugly Review, Free Shares, Cancelled Orders - 15th Jan 22
WD 14tb My Book External Drive Unboxing, Testing and Benchmark Performance Amazon Buy Review - 15th Jan 22
Toyland Ferris Wheel Birthday Fun at Gulliver's Rother Valley UK Theme Park 2022 - 15th Jan 22
What You Should Know About a TailoredPay High Risk Merchant Account - 15th Jan 22
Best Metaverse Tech Stocks Investing for 2022 and Beyond - 14th Jan 22
Gold Price Lagging Inflation - 14th Jan 22
Get Your Startup Idea Up And Running With These 7 Tips - 14th Jan 22
What Happens When Your Flight Gets Cancelled in the UK? - 14th Jan 22
How to Profit from 2022’s Biggest Trend Reversal - 11th Jan 22
Stock Market Sentiment Speaks: Are We Ready To Drop To 4400SPX? - 11th Jan 22
What's the Role of an Affiliate Marketer? - 11th Jan 22
Essential Things To Know Before You Set Up A Limited Liability Company - 11th Jan 22
NVIDIA THE KING OF THE METAVERSE! - 10th Jan 22
Fiscal and Monetary Cliffs Have Arrived - 10th Jan 22
The Meteoric Rise of Investing in Trading Cards - 10th Jan 22
IBM The REAL Quantum Metaverse STOCK! - 9th Jan 22
WARNING Failing NVME2 M2 SSD Drives Can Prevent Systems From Booting - Corsair MP600 - 9th Jan 22
The Fed’s inflated cake and a ‘quant’ of history - 9th Jan 22
NVME M2 SSD FAILURE WARNING Signs - Corsair MP600 1tb Drive - 9th Jan 22
Meadowhall Sheffield Christmas Lights 2021 Shopping - Before the Switch on - 9th Jan 22
How Does Insurance Work In Europe? Find Out Here - 9th Jan 22
MATTERPORT (MTTR) - DIGITIZING THE REAL WORLD - METAVERSE INVESTING 2022 - 7th Jan 22
Effect of Deflation On The Gold Price - 7th Jan 22
Stock Market 2022 Requires Different Strategies For Traders/Investors - 7th Jan 22
Old Man Winter Will Stimulate Natural Gas and Heating Oil Demand - 7th Jan 22
Is The Lazy Stock Market Bull Strategy Worth Considering? - 7th Jan 22
METAVERSE - NEW LIFE FOR SONY AGEING GAMING GIANT? - 6th Jan 2022
What Elliott Waves Show for Asia Pacific Stock and Financial Markets 2022 - 6th Jan 2022
Why You Should Register Your Company - 6th Jan 2022
4 Ways to Invest in Silver for 2022 - 6th Jan 2022
UNITY (U) - Metaverse Stock Analysis Investing for 2022 and Beyond - 5th Jan 2022
Stock Market Staving Off Risk-Off - 5th Jan 2022
Gold and Silver Still Hungover After New Year’s Eve - 5th Jan 2022
S&P 500 In an Uncharted Territory, But Is Sky the Limit? - 5th Jan 2022

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Protect your Wealth by Investing in AI Tech Stocks

U.S. Cops Can Enforce Non-Existent Laws With Impunity

Politics / US Politics Dec 30, 2014 - 12:06 PM GMT

By: Jeff_Berwick

Politics

Wendy McElroy writes: Ignorance of the law is an excuse...if you are a cop. American police no longer need to know what the law says or to enforce it correctly. They can implement a non-existent law with impunity even if it results in the apparent violation of constitutional rights. This may have been apparent to many as a police practice but now it is now officially the law of the land. On December 15, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled on Heien v. North Carolina


Facts of the Case

In 2009, Sergeant Matt Darisse made a clear “mistake of law” in conducting a traffic stop. He pulled over a car driven by Maynor Javier Vazquez and owned by Nicholas Heien who was sleeping in the back.  The legal pretext: the car had a broken brake light. But North Carolina law at the time only required there to be “a [singular] stop lamp” working. In short, a single brake light made the vehicle “street legal” and the officer had no lawful reason to make the stop. 

Darisse became suspicious when the two men offered somewhat different stories about their destination. Then Heien reportedly consented to a search his car with the words, “I don't care.” A sandwich bag of cocaine was discovered and the two occupants were charged with drug trafficking.

At trial, Heien made a motion to suppress the evidence due to Fourth Amendment protection which prohibits unreasonable search and seizure. Heien's attorney argued that enforcing a non-existent law was unreasonable and so any evidence resulting from the enforcement could not be used in court. Again, at the time, the North Carolina Supreme Court maintained that the state constitution required the suppression of evidence when the Fourth Amendment was violated. Nevertheless, the trial court allowed the evidence. 

The Court of Appeals reversed the decision saying that "an officer's mistaken belief that a defendant has committed a traffic violation is not an objectively reasonable justification for a traffic stop". The Supreme Court of North Carolina determined the purpose of the Fourth Amendment was to ensure that police officers act reasonably. And police officers should be able to make traffic stops based on their reasonable interpretations of law even if that interpretation was in error.  

The case was the first one heard in SCOTUS' current session. Attorney Jeffrey Fisher represented Heien and  argued, “The government should be presumed to know the laws....It would undercut public confidence in law enforcement and the common law rule upon which the criminal law is built to say the government doesn’t have to be presumed to know the law when it acted.” Fisher claimed that, if “ignorance of the law is no excuse” for average citizens, then the maxim should apply equally to police officers. To argue otherwise would take all incentive away from the police to familiarize themselves with the law or to abide by it. 

What is Reasonable? 

Much of the case on both sides hinged on the question of what is a reasonable search. But what is “reasonable” was never defined by SCOTUS. The closest outline of a definition of “reasonable” came from Solicitor General Rachel Kovner who argued for the federal government as an amicus. She stated “You simply ask officers to decide whether --­­ you simply ask courts to decide whether an officer could reasonably think that a person has committed a crime.” In other words, if a court finds either a question of law or fact to result from an officer's reasonable confusion, then no rights violation has occurred. In providing an example of a reasonable confusion, she offered a the standard of a “foothold … in the statute that affirmatively supports” the officer’s legal interpretation. In short, not the clear language of the statute but a foothold of interpretation. 

SCOTUS reversed the Court of Appeals decision by a vote of 8 to 1.  The majority found that “the Fourth Amendment requires government officials to act reasonably, not perfectly, and gives those officials 'fair leeway for enforcing the law'.” Chief Justice Roberts wrote the opinion: 

“Reasonable suspicion arises from the combination of an officer’s understanding of the facts and his understanding of the relevant law. The officer may be reasonably mistaken on either ground. Whether the facts turn out to be not what was thought, or the law turns out to be not what was thought, the result is the same: the facts are outside the scope of the law. There is no reason...why this same result should be acceptable when reached by way of a reasonable mistake of fact, but not when reached by way of a similarly reasonable mistake of law.” 

The evidence was deemed admissible under the Fourth Amendment. No standard was established for how much law must be known by a reasonable officer, with the opinions of judges varying.

Likely Consequences

The ruling has several important consequences, including:

  • Probable cause is the standard by which law enforcement can obtain a warrant or make an exception to warrant requirements for conducting a search of person or property when a crime is suspected. As the Simple Justice blog explained, “By exalting 'reasonableness', the Court ignores the Warrant Clause, as if it only applies to unreasonable searches and seizure, which of course renders it a nullity since unreasonable searches are unconstitutional anyway.  If a search need only be reasonable, and the absence of a warrant does nothing to impair that conclusion, then there will never be a reason to obtain a warrant again.” 
  • Traditionally, courts have held that the “fruits” of an invalidly produced or conducted search may be suppressed. The standards by which evidence can be admitted in criminal procedures seems to have been considerably loosened. 
  • With no solid definition of a “reasonable” search and seizure, the courts are likely to leave the interpretation to the officer. The power of the police has massively expanded with the SCOTUS ruling setting a national precedent. 

Justice Sonia Sotomayor was alone in dissenting on the grounds that the decision granted the police far too much discretionary power. She wrote, "One is left to wonder why an innocent citizen should be made to shoulder the burden of being seized whenever the law may be susceptible to an interpretative question....[A]n officer’s mistake of law, no matter how reasonable, cannot support the individualized suspicion necessary to justify a seizure under the Fourth Amendment.” Interestingly, Sotomayor is the only justice with significant experience in criminal trials. 

The law has ceased to be an objective thing and has become an interpretation in the mind of a police officer. Simple Justice concluded, “[P]olice have become, at least in their own minds, the arbiters of law at the end of a gun.

[T]hey can craft a half-baked, phony, facile excuse for why they got the law wrong. The new test for 'reasonableness' under the Fourth Amendment is how good a spin the prosecution and cops can offer for mistakes. As it turns out, this is the one thing that they’re exceptionally good at.” 

[Editor's Note: Subscribe to TDV Homegrown today for information and solutions for surviving the police state in the US and around the world.]

Anarcho-Capitalist.  Libertarian.  Freedom fighter against mankind’s two biggest enemies, the State and the Central Banks.  Jeff Berwick is the founder of The Dollar Vigilante, CEO of TDV Media & Services and host of the popular video podcast, Anarchast.  Jeff is a prominent speaker at many of the world’s freedom, investment and gold conferences as well as regularly in the media.

© 2014 Copyright Jeff Berwick - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

Jeff Berwick Archive

© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in