April 10, 2009

Peeking At The Parolee's Privates

Some people still think that civil libertarians get away with too much in front of liberal activist judges. If you're one of those people still laboring under the assumption that judges are soft on crime, coddle criminals, and make up rules that hurt ordinary, law-abiding Americans, rest easy! There are yet still guardians of all that is good and normal on the bench. For instance, the authors of this opinion, who decide that if you're on parole, police officers can stop you, handcuff you, frisk you, and when they find nothing, put you in a control hold and reach inside your underwear on a ... let's call it a "fishing expedition."

Which turned out to be successful. The opinion also contains this truly extraordinary recitation of facts:
Officer Greenberg removed Smith's belt, unbuttoned and unzipped Smith's pants and pulled them down a foot or so, then pulled the elastic waistband of Smith's underwear out away from his body and saw a large bag the size of a baseball sitting right on top of his penis.* Officer Greenberg retrieved the bag, which contained 12 smaller baggies of heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. The officers placed Smith in a patrol car and transported him to the police station, where they conducted a more thorough strip search.

You know what this sounds like? "I'm a parolee in a small northern California town. I never thought anything like this would ever happen to me, but one day..." Only instead of leading towards a "happy ending," then the story takes a turn into Fourth Amendment territory.

Hat tip: Prof. Shaun Martin.


* At no point in the opinion does the officer describe having seen an unusual bulge in Smith's pants, whether caused by excitement at the sight of men in uniform or otherwise. The officer apparently made a grab for the defendant's junk "on a hunch." Perfectly legal, perfectly Constitutional.

1 comment:

ironrailsironweights said...

Perhaps the police had gotten a tip from an informant that Smith carried drugs in that area, but did not reveal that fact because if Smith (or his confederates) knew there was an informant with that sort of knowledge, they could figure out who it was.

Peter