Why SCOTUS is wrong on HEIEN V. North Carolina

The Supreme Court ruled on Heien V North Carolina on Monday and the ruling to me is ridiculous by itself and also goes against stare decisis.

You can read the details of the case in the link. Basically a police officer stopped a car for having a broken brake light. However, had that police officer understood the law he was pulling the individual over on, he would have known that North Carolina only requires a car to have a singular working tail light. The only legal way for that officer to pull the car over would have been for both brake lights to be out. After the officer illegally pulled over the vehicle he determined that something was fishy and decided to conduct a search on the car. A passenger of the car had cocaine yet Heien was charged with attempted drug trafficking. Heien tried to suppress items found in the search because the search was not a legal search. A later court agreed but the Supreme Court reversed that decision and said that the search was reasonable.

So why is this ridiculous on its face? Well, clearly had the officer followed the law the vehicle would not have been pulled over and as such no search would have been conducted on the vehicle. The law should act as if no search was conducted since officer took actions that were not in compliance with the law. But the Supreme Court stated otherwise and in that decision stated:

And neither the Fourth Amendment’s text nor this Court’s precedents offer any reason why that result should not be acceptable when reached by a reasonable
mistake of law

SCOTUS, meet Arizona v Gant, a ruling  you made in 2009. Rodney Gant was detained and handcuffed in the back of a squad car. Police then searched his vehicle and found cocaine in the back seat in a jacket pocket. Now, the law allows for a search of a vehicle if an individual is not detained for reasons of officer safety and to protect the scene of any evidence they feel someone might try to discard. However, since Gant was already detained, there was no threat to the officers or any potential evidence and as such a warrant should have been required to search the car. So why did the officers search the car anyway? Well, according to one of the officers at the scene (Officer Griffith) “Because the law says we can do it.”

Under the ruling in Heier, it would seem to be such an argument would be valid because they are not supposed to be perfect, right? He believed the law allows for such searches and as such anything found by such a search should be admissible. But that was not the case in Gant. The Gant ruling talks about stare decisis and privacy rights. The Gant ruling talks about the dangers of how a law could be too broad and be harmful to the public good. Yet SCOTUS could find no precedent why the search in Heier was not acceptable? Really? Do they have short-term memory loss?

So what is the problem here? Some have said to me that if you don’t want the police to search your car and find drugs, don’t have drugs in your car. That may very well be a smart practice but it doesn’t deal with the main problem here and that is individuals dealing with a police force that is given more and more powers by government and by courts to take actions that should be considered unconstitutional against persons in this country.

What has this ruling done? Well, at its worst this ruling has basically said that as long as the officer is reasonable in his misunderstanding of the law that his searches can be considered reasonable. But since this search was actually an unreasonable search because it never should have happened, who is to say at what level is an officers understanding of the law is reasonable or not? In 2008 there were just under 800,000 police officers in this country. This ruling basically means that people living in the united states are subject to 800,000 interpretations of the law, regardless of how correct those interpretations are, as long as those interpretations are deemed “reasonable”. Instead of persons living here having to deal with 1 set of laws and their actual meaning, we have to deal with the 800,000 interpretations of them. And even if their actions are taken outside of the law, that doesn’t matter to SCOTUS. To them, the ends justify the means. And if a search that should not have been done was done, so be it. This is a horrible ruling and another slicing away at our freedoms and liberties. Or as SCOTUS put it in Heier:

Whether an officer is reasonably mistaken about the one or the other, the result is the same: the facts are outside the scope of the law.

Indeed. We should all be terrified.

Liberal Dan Radio 12/17/2014: Freedom loses

On the December 17, 2014 episode of Liberal Dan Radio:

Freedom has taken several hits this week. A Supreme Court ruling, Heien v North Carolina, has ruled that a search conducted after a police officer misapplies the law is a legal search. This, however, was not the case in Arizona V. Gant. I will discuss both cases and why I believe this is an elimination of freedom.

Sony pictures caved today and is refusing to release the movie after a group threatened to attack movie theaters that showed the movie. Several chains had already said that they would not be showing the movie previous to this anouncement. I will give my thoughts on this as well.

In other news, the GOP has shown their hypocrisy yet again. I will discuss how and why as well.

Those issues and more on Wednesday at 8pm central on Liberal Dan Radio, Talk From The Left, That’s Right.

I have made a change with my crowdfunding attempts and this year I am going with gofundme. Please check it out.

Why I disagree with the Jezebel article on The Newsroom

The HBO program The Newsroom deals with many issues, one of them being the way that “old media” is reacting to “new media”. In her article pertaining to the most recent episode of The Newsroom, Julianne Escobedo Shepherd ends it with a description of a character death.

At the end of Sunday’s episode, Charlie Skinner, The Newsroom‘s moral dad played by Sam Waterston, has a heart attack and croaks, hitting his head on a desk near a computer on the way down—a symbolic sledgehammer that was meant to parallel the way the “internet” is “killing” “real journalism,” or something.

Skinner is a character who is a member of the old media. He fights tooth and nail with younger reporters and especially with the new owner over the direction the media is going. Some of the other old media types have also been seen to fight the new media at varying levels and with varying levels of frustration with the use of the internet and sites like twitter. Often some very good points are brought up in their hesitance to fully embrace the tools that the internet provides. Often times these characters are hesitant to embrace any of those tools. Shepherd seems to take this as the show itself sending the message “old media good, new media bad”. But if Sorkin is Dr. Frankenstein and the show his monster, I believe that a lot is overlooked with that simplistic view of television.

There are people in this world who are old media. Those people do drag their feet when it comes to embracing the new tools that the internet gives us. In order for The Newsroom to be a credible show, if it has old media types working for ACN (the news company featured in the show) then it has to portray them as old media types. When I watch the show (as I discussed on Liberal Dan Radio tonight) I don’t view the show as lauding old media as being king and scoffing at new media. I see a message that says “these old media guys really need to get with the program or they will fall behind”. Real life has flawed people and as such any show is going to have to have flawed characters in order to be realistic.

Which brings me to the initial subject of the article written in Jezebel, an article not on old vs new media but on rape, rape culture, and how The Newsroom handled a case of rape in this of all weeks where Rolling Stone fumbled the ball and showed horrible journalistic practices in its covering of rapes on UVA. A criticism that Shephard has is that the show was “poorly timed” as if Sorkin and HBO chose to release this episode in the middle of the Rolling Stone controversy. I think it may be a matter of dumb luck, be that luck good or bad.

This particular episode had a sub blot of the producer, Don, and his assignment by his new boss to go investigate a campus website that was created to expose rapists on campus. He was to find the creator of the website and one of her rapists and put them on camera together in studio. Don obviously is uncomfortable with this idea well before “the scene” that has caused much ire on the internet. But eventually Don is able to do some “old school” “detective work” and find the creator of the website. (Another criticism by Shephard is that Mary calling Don’s detective work “old school” was Sorkin trying to make Mary look bad. I took it as Mary being sarcastic to Don. But to each their own I suppose.)

Shephard is critical of every single bit of this scene. Another issue she brings up is with how Don refers to the rape that is alleged by the female character as a “kind of rape”. This of course is not what a rape victim would want to hear. And of course a reporter asking a victim of rape about her rape should not belittle the rape. However, Don is nervous and flawed and does not behave in a manner in which the perfect reporter would behave in that circumstance.

Another part of the show discussion has Mary (the victim) stating to Don “The law is plainly failing rape victims. That must be obvious to you”. His response is:

“It is, but in fairness, the law wasn’t built to serve victims … I’ve heard two competing stories, one from a very credible woman who has no reason to lie, the other from a guy I judge to be a little sketchy who has every reason to lie, and I’m obligated to believe the sketchy guy… I believe I’m morally obligated. I’m the guy who goes around saying OJ’s not guilty because a jury said so.”

Is that the best way to respond? It is correct to say that the law wasn’t built to serve victims. Ben Franklin once stated that it would be better for 100 guilty people to go free than have one innocent person locked up. We have an adversarial system of justice that should make it difficult to put people away in prison. Now, do you explain this to a rape victim who is visibly upset? That doesn’t seem to be the ideal thing to say under the circumstances. Perhaps he could have worded the later part better? Maybe instead of saying “and I’m obligated to believe the sketchy guy” he could have said “while I do not believe you are lying I also feel morally obligated to treat people as innocent until proven guilty in a court of law”. This might be a better way to put it, and it might not be. But, again, Don is nervous and flawed and does not behave in a manner in which the perfect reporter would behave in that circumstance.

And I think you see my point here. People are not perfect. If placed in that situation I guarantee you that I would be fumbling around and that I would not say the right things. I would stumble. I would make mistakes. I would misword things in ways that I would realize later were horribly stupid. But that is how life works. People like Don exist today. And a show cannot be taken seriously if it ignores that such people existed today when presenting such a situation. Had Don not been the fumbling idiot who is condescending to this victim, it would seem less real. Don has been a fumbling idiot when it comes to other interactions with women as well. If he all of a sudden starts acting perfect around women, that would be going out of character. And the biggest mistake that The Newsroom could make would be to have all of its characters be perfect people in a perfect way.

Sometimes the best example to give in a tv show is to show what not to do in a given situation. I cringed when he said “kind of rape”. I cringed when he said he was “obliged to believe the sketchy guy”. And that is the point. We are supposed to cringe at such things. We are supposed to see them go down and say “wow, that didn’t go well”. We can then use our hindsight in this fictitious universe where nobody was actually hurt and show the flaws that exist in society. We can look at the flawed characters and say “look guys, that is what you look like when you act this way towards victims of rape… STOP IT!”. That The Newsroom has such flawed characters in it does not make the show disdainful of women. It makes the show more realistic. It makes the show more credible. It also opens the door for good conversations on how we all should be treating persons who come forward as victims of rape.

 

Liberal Dan Radio 12/10/2014: Bad Things

On the December 10, 2014 episode of Liberal Dan Radio:

The torture documents were released by the Senate this week. Some call it a political ploy, others call it needed oversight. I will discuss certain aspects of the law and why we should consider ourselves to be a better nation than others.

An episode of Newsroom aired on Sunday and it caused a stir in feminist circles. People did not appreciate how Sorkin handled the topic of on campus rape. However, I believe the criticisms are misguided and I will discuss why.

I believe I also found a bug on healthcare.gov. I will go into that in more detail. Of course, bugs are meant to be fixed and are not an excuse to bring the whole thing down so calm down conservatives.

Finally, I have started a GoFundMe page in order to sell advertising for the show as well as encourage people to chip in and help support the show if they like it. So please, contribute.

Those stories, headlines, tweet of the week and more on Liberal Dan Radio: Talk From The Left, That’s Right:  Wednesday 8pm Central on Blog Talk Radio.

Liberal Dan Radio 12/3/2014: Oy To The World

On the December 3rd, 2014 episode of Liberal Dan Radio:

It is after Thanksgiving and you know what that means right? Sales? No. Holiday decorations? No. It is the annual war on Christmas. This year the war will likely be no different than the last with no holiday casualties in its wake.

The death of Eric Garner as if now will go unpunished and one more black man killed by the police will continue to heighten the problems between police departments and black communities across this nation. I will be speaking a little bit about this issue.

Finally, I will have Orleans Parish School Board member Leslie Ellison on the show to discuss a proposed change to a millage

Those issues, headlines, tweet of the week, words of redneck wisdom and more Wednesday at 8pm central on Liberal Dan Radio: Talk From The Left, That’s Right.

Liberal Dan Radio 11/5/2014: The Senate America deserves, not the one it needs.

Tonight is the Liberal Dan Radio election recap. I will be discussing mostly the big elections in the Senate and some Governors races. I will also briefly discuss some of the Louisiana issues that came up.

Who is at fault for the loss? Was this a referendum on Obama’s agenda? Were the Democrats too weak spined? Does it make sense that people voted Republicans into office even though Republicans had a lower approval rating than the President? And what will happen now that the Senate is controlled by the GOP?

Those questions and more tonight on Liberal Dan Radio: Talk From The Left, That’s Right.

Liberal Dan Radio 10/29/2014: Lee Dugas LA01

In the final #RetakeCongress segment of this election cycle, Liberal Dan Radio will be returning to the point where I first entered into the political realm. Ten years ago, in 2004, I tossed my hat in the ring for Louisiana’s first congressional district. This year, one of the candidates seeking to represent the district in Congress is Lee Dugas.

This veteran of Desert Storm seeks to combat the GOP in its war on women and also fight their budget cuts that hurt the veterans they claim to support, Listen in to the show to learn more or you can call in to ask questions.

The show starts at 8pm Central so for more talk from the left that’s right, make sure to tune in.

Liberal Dan Radio 10/22/2014: Louisiana Elections

On the October 22nd, 2014 episode of Liberal Dan Radio I will be discussing the ballot in Louisiana, various congressional races, the Senatorial election, and the Constitutional amendments.

I will also go into the Louisiana Fraternal Order of Police endorsement of Bill Cassidy and why it is unAmerican.

Those issues, headlines, tweet of the week, and more talk from the left that’s right on Liberal Dan Radip: 8pm Central on Blog Talk Radio.