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March 27, 2013

The Supreme Court shockingly rules against police drug-sniffing dogs

Specifically they ruled that bringing a dog onto a property to nose around in an attempt to find evidence to get a search warrant is a violation of 4th amendment rights. Privacy, Property, and the Drug War
Jardines v. Florida involved a home search that uncovered marijuana plants, leading to a conviction. The police received an unverified tip that marijuana was being grown in Jardines's residence, but presumably did not believe that this tip was sufficient to establish the "probable case" required by the Fourth Amendment to obtain a search warrant. To obtain a warrant, the police took a drug-sniffing dog, who indicated that it had found the scent of illegal drugs. The findings of the dog's actions were used to obtain a search warrant to search Jardines's house, which led to the uncovering of the marijuana plants and his subsequent prosecution. The question in this case is whether the dog sniffing around the outside of Jardines's house constituted a "search" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. To state the obvious, evidence obtained in a search cannot be used to retroactively establish the probable cause necessary to obtain a search warrant. The state of Florida argued that because the dog did not enter the house but merely searched the exterior that was visible from the street, the dog sniffing did not constitute a search. In a 5-4 opinion, the Supreme Court rejected this specious argument. Justices Scalia and Thomas—whose sporadic commitment to textualism does sometimes surface in Fourth Amendment cases—provided the swing votes, with the former writing for the majority.

March 26, 2013

Housekeeper Who Stole a Bag of Frozen Meatballs Facing As Much Jail Time As Steubenville Rapist

Gang-raping a minor and stealing a bag of frozen meatballs. Are these equal crimes? OF COURSE NOT! But they are carrying the same penalties. Housekeeper Who Stole a Bag of Frozen Meatballs Facing As Much Jail Time As Steubenville Rapist | Alternet
A housekeeper at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point is facing two years in jail for allegedly stealing a bag of meatballs. Estelle Casimir, 56, who had been working for West Point’s food service company, Watson Services, for 28 years, was purportedly seen carrying the bag in an area where she doesn’t work. According to an affidavit, when supervisors approached Casimir and questioned her about the bag she was carrying, she told them she was throwing it in the garbage. Casimir was reportedly only responsible for cleaning the latrines in the mess hall, not disposing of food, and according to supervisors, could have thrown the bag in a closer garbage instead of the downstairs dumpster she said she was headed to.

March 25, 2013

Teens Arrested For Rapping Order In McDonald's Drive-Thru

March 21, 2013

Leaked video shows Maine cops torturing and pepper-spraying a man who is tied to a chair

He was an inmate in their care. He was suffering from depression and was being treated for self-harm. So of course these cops decide to help him through his depression by torturing him. The police's response to this horrific act has been to go on a manhunt for who leaked the video. Of course. Leaked Video Of Captain Pepper-Spraying Restrained Inmate Riles Maine Officials | ThinkProgress
Over the weekend the Portland Press Herald reported on and released a video of Capt. Shawn Welch at the Maine Correction Center pepper-spraying a restrained inmate in the face and leaving him in distress for more than twenty minutes while he repeatedly pleaded that he could not breath. The inmate was reportedly recovering from a self-inflicted wound and on several medications for bipolar disorder and depression at the time when officers in protective gear placed him in a restraining chair for medical personnel to examine his wounds. After he was physically restrained in the chair, he struggled as guards pinned his head under an arm, at which point Welch used a pepper spray canister intended for multiple subjects at a 18 to 20 feet range to spray the inmate in the face at close range. Welch was initially fired by the institution’s supervisor, but reinstated with a 30-day suspension by Maine Corrections Commissioner Joseph Ponte. Spurred by the leaked video, the Chairman of the Maine Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee is now seeking a review of the incident in the context of use of force by the Maine Department of Corrections – but the Maine Department of Corrections appears more concerned about finding the source of the leak. Citing the privacy of the inmate, they launched an investigation to find out who released the video to reporters, with Associate Commissioner Jody Breton saying the facility “certainly will be tightening up security — where (information) is stored, who has access.”