Saturday, July 22, 2006

Do we really need this type of intrusion in a $50 pot buy?

Since I'm not out of town yet, I had to post on one of the most interesting court cases on snitching I've seen in a while: The Montana Supreme Court is considering whether to throw out testimony from informants who wear wires without officers first obtaining a warrant ("Court hears appeals challenging police use of wired informants," Billings Gazette, July 19).
Defense attorney Brian Gallik of Bozeman said people have a "fundamental right" to expect that the government has not sent someone into their homes with an electronic monitor.
Damn straight. At oral arguments, justices seemed especially concerned at the common use of this practice for extremely low-level crimes like pot possession:
In one case, Joseph Patrick Hamper pleaded guilty to drug charges after the Missouri River Drug Task Force recorded him twice selling $50 worth of marijuana to a confidential informant who had recorded conversations in the suspect's home.

In the other, Michael Thaddeus Goetz, pleaded guilty to selling one gram of methamphetamine to a confidential informant, who wore a body wire-receiving device into Goetz's home.

"It is completely discretionary to the police," Justice James Nelson pointed out during an exchange with assistant attorney general Mark Mattioli. "Where am I wrong?" [...]

Justice Brian Morris wondered about the need to have wired informants on small crimes.

"Do we really need this type of intrusion in a $50 pot buy?" he asked.
This case calls into question the crux of constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures: If police can send a snitch into your home wearing a wire without a warrant, we basically don't have a functional Fourth Amendment anymore.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

A dead snitch is the best snitch there is!

Anonymous said...

"No free man shall be taken or imprisoned or disseized or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor send upon him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land." Magna Carta. The Due Process clause of the 5th amendment, especially as amended by the 14th, also affirms the existence of the privacy rights expressed above. (don't have a case handy). So the 4th am. violation isn't the only one. We could also easily - easily - add the 9th & 10th (rights reserved to the people). The defense lawyer is dead on - this is a violation of natural rights if there is such a thing.

On the other hand, I have a great image of this cop as one of the characters on Reno 911. Maybe they had nothing better to do.

markm said...

Would you rather have the snitch coming into your home wearing a wire, or have him coming into your home without a wire and then see his *uncorroborated* testimony as to what went on in your home be uncritically accepted in court?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@MARKM:

Do I get to choose neither? What if I choose a functioning Fourth Amendment, AND corroboration for incentivized testimony? If there's a reason to wear a wire into my home, there's no reason a cop can't explain why to a judge, and no reason for courts to accept uncorrborated snitch testimony in any instance.

Great magna carta quote, by the way - the good ol' days, huh?

Anonymous said...

Grits, neh, not the good old days, quite - Magna Carta was by and for only the barons. It wasn't until the 14th amendment that these rights of "free m[e]n" became available to everyone, and not until a hundred years later, in some cases, would the first ten ratified amendments be incorporated against the states (for example, right to an attorney in state felony trials, right to privacy of your uterus).

On another interesting note, Akil Amar makes the point that the 4th amendment wasn't originally collapsed as it is; put another way, current jurisprudence reads a third sentence into the amendment: "No searches w/o a warrant. " Originally, appaprently, cops didn't need a warrant and would simply be strictly liable for the search; they could get a warrant but general warrants were hated inthe colonies so the Founders required probable cause. The probable cause requirment, in addition to upholding privacy and due process, disallowed gov't agents from taking expressive political and religious "papers" w/o a showing. Amar cites SCOTUS cases exacting high scrutiny when the illegal fruits implicate the first amendment. Very interesting stuff. Amar and Adams, The Bill of Rights Primer

Rusty said...

All in the name of justice and protecting and serving the public, RIGHT??? What happened to the days when an American was held accountable for their ACTIONS, not their choices or the biases of others??? What happened to the days when it was UNACCEPTABLE to mind others peoples business, or peak through their windows or over their fence? Now if one doesn't snitch off their neighbors or a family member, YOU COULD GO TO JAIL??? If you demonize ANYBODY enough, all things become acceptable!!! But hey it looks good in and on paper, RIGHT!!!

Rusty White
Speaker www.leap.cc

rothmatisseko said...

rusty, do you mean demonization makes all _un_acceptable? not sure i get it otherwise...

rothmatisseko said...

rusty, i see - you mean surveillance tactics. that reminds me - is anyone else as excited as i am about the new phillip dick movie a scanner darkly?

Anonymous said...

"...there's no reason a cop can't explain why to a judge, and no reason for courts to accept uncorrborated snitch testimony in any instance."

Many states have two party consent. Some have one and the one cannot be a police officer or someone working with the police like a "snitch".

Then there are federal rules which allow tape recordings when one of the parties consent, regardless if they're the police or someone working with the police.

In my experience, in states with strict laws, the police circumvent the state requirement and get a federal agency to authorize their overhear. It's very easy to do; alot more common than you think; so don't strain too much to tighten up state rules.

Secondly, it works better when there is no tape and the cops coroborrate the snitch as a group.

It works by putting a wire on the "snitch" and listening in on the conversation. It's justified for "safety concerns" and the cops are careful not to put a tape in the receiver. Then they paraphrase what they hear in a report and I've overheard and then read what they say they've overheard.

It's incredible so don't put alot of faith in putting a judge between a snitch and the police. That thought has already been breached by those sworn to protect and serve.

Rusty said...

roth,

Due to 80+ years of propaganda and demonizing drug users any means are now easily justified. Some where a long the way the fact these demons are some bodies son or daughter or mother or father, DOESN'T MATTER ANY MORE, nor does ones rights or freedoms! In our country today we will kill over 400,000 this year due to tobacco, over 112,000 will die from alcohol this year, over 32,000 will die from legal pharmaceutical drugs this year! ALL ILLEGAL DRUGS COMBINDED will take just over 12,000 lives??? And from 1937 we have been keeping records on pot, AND " NO WHERE " on this planet has there ever been a death from an overdose of pot??? The facts are now coming out that due to our zeal to protect our young, our very actions are causing them to use more harmful drugs to avoid being caught, AND IT IS KILLING THEM! Pot stays in your system up to 90 days, heroin and meth and coke are gone in 3 days. Drugs are to dangerous to leave in the control of criminals! Our prisons are now " PEOPLE RANCHING FOR PROFIT"!!! Our country has 5% of the worlds population, " YET " we have 25% of those humans on this planet doing prison in our country, we have more people in prison THAN ANY OTHER COUNTRY??? There has got to be a better way!!!

Rusty White
Speaker www.leap.cc

Anonymous said...

Rusty White:

There is a better way but legalizing it may not be the next step. Drugs are legal now and then diverted illegally so legalizing it won't change the landscape.

Think about this for a second. Right now, drug law enforcement is the only function of the police that actually makes a profit. It also produces large numbers of arrests. Arrests make headlines not dispositions so think of how you overcome large piles of money and headlines.

First take away the money and use it only for treatment and education. Make the trafficker pay for the addiction and then see if that doesn't force this enforcement monster back in a smaller bottle where it belongs.

As a former drug enforcement agent, I believe that a combination of too many law enforcement agencies investigating drugs is just as deadly as a combination of the wrong drugs.

Rusty said...

anonymous,

Well said Brother, but the legalizing of drugs " IS NOT " to fix our drug problem. It is to address the control and violence problem. Then we can use the wasted " 69 " BILLION " dollars a YEAR to address our drug problem, with methods that don't do more harm than good, WHICH IS " NOT " THE CASE TODAY!

You are correct drug enforcement is making a profit more times than not, from innocent Americans that can not afford the justice all are guaranteed! I love the idea of making the bad guys pay for treatment, " BUT " those who support their departments and have turned from policemen in to profiteers, will not give up this cash cow without a fight!

Brother I want to bring back the honor and respect our Brothers and Sisters deserve and need! As well as return the power to our people instead of the courts! It is a SIN and a obstruction of justice to have a DA threaten ANY AMERICAN with the maximum sentence if they refuse a plea barging! YET IT HAPPENS EVERYDAY!!! Our system is so overloaded justice is a farce! " PEPOLE RANCHING " is not the answer NOR AN AMERICAN STANDARD!!! Destroying entire families and taking the future away from our young, and obstructing justice and violating rights and freedoms, IS A DISGRACE NO MATTER HOW THEY TRY AND JUSTICY IT!!

Brother I invite you to our site at www.leap.cc there are many links and a lot of Brothers and Sisters! None of us are for drugs, many spent their whole adult live fighting them! To look in the mirror and admit the harm you have done, IS NOT AN EASY THING TO DO!

Rusty White
Speaker www.leap.cc

Anonymous said...

Cops should go after criminals, not drug users. Arrest, prosecute, and punish the _crimes_ that happen because of the black market of drugs (thus decriminalizing the use), and treat nasty addictions -- you'll see the drug problem go away.

But as you say anon#2 (5?) - that wouldn't get local depts their forfeiture money.

Also, the black market is that color because of prohibition, not because of diversion. If I could buy a pack of Marlboro MJs for the same price as a pack of cigs, or grow it, there'd be nothing to divert. Hard drugs are a different story, but those problems have been brought into existence themselves by the drug war - stronger pot, crack v coke, smack v morphine, meth v old-school speed (before they changed the oil refining business to make the speed precursors impossible to get, so that now people use car batteries and decongestants): these things are easier to package, ship, hook users on, and make a profit on. The drug war feeds itself. Oh, and it's racist too.

Rusty said...

anonymous,

Right On Target!!! It gives one hope when you see another American showing common sense!!! The truth is, we should lock people up for their actions not their choices! And for the most part if " EVERYBODY " minded their own dam* business America would return to the free nation it once was!!! And as far as race goes, during the a partite in South Africa one of the worst racial biased periods in our planets history. They were locking up a little over " 800 " black males per 100,000! In 2004 due to the drug war " WE " locked up almost " 5000 " black males per 100,000???? Can you say institutionalized racism????

Rusty White
Speaker www.leap.cc

Anonymous said...

Rusty White;

Meth is to poor whites what crack is to poor blacks. Black narcs lock up just as many blacks as they do whites and whites lock up just as many whites. It's not about racism and it never was.

In summary, 5 grams of crack gets you 5 years minimum time in a federal court room. Where as it takes a pound of cocaine so pretend to be a narc buying drugs. Crack is predominantly in black neighborhoods, coke is in white neighborhoods.

Meth is also predominantly in poor white neighborhoods and only recently did they reduce the amounts needed for mininum levels of incarceration.

There's nothing racism about the drug war but I almost wish there was.

Drugs are not the problem in the drug war, it's a comination of too much drug enforcement. We're overpoliced at the wrong levels and it's not going to change until you untangle those drug task force concepts.

Rusty said...

anonymous,

I beg to differ, and your own governments figures will support my position. If you go to www.leap.cc and follow the links to race and arrest numbers and information you will see what I was referring to. You are correct to a degree, but the numbers tell a different story. While it is true different drugs get different races different amounts of time, there is all kinds of documentation on which race is more likely to do time in this country. As our prison population will testify to.It may well not be by design, but it is a fact.
There has got to be a better way!

Rusty White
Speaker www.leap.cc

Anonymous said...

anon_racist: You say, "[i]t's not about racism and it never was....I almost wish it was." Be happy: "More than 80 percent of the defendants prosecuted for a crack offense are African-American, despite the fact that more than two-thirds of crack users are white or Hispanic." http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2006/07/05/the_disparity_on_crack_cocaine_sentencing (emphasis added).

And your (msotly correct) description of the sentencing disparity cuts against your argument that the system isn't racist. See also id.

Anonymous said...

More than 80 percent of the defendants prosecuted for a crack offense are African-American, despite the fact that more than two-thirds of crack users are white or Hispanic."

That's because a large portion of the sellers are in black neighborhoods where you're likely to find crack not coke. Users aren't a good measure of where the sources are and you know that based on cocaine being produced largely in South America and largely used in America.

As for your characterization of me as a racist, how do you know what race I am. Would you change your mind about me if I was black?

As for my argument about the system being racist chew on this. Five grams of crack gets you five years of federal time but now just having two or three chemicals and no METH gets you 10. When was the last meth cook you saw that was black?

Anonymous said...

Back on track for a minute. It's quite humorous that nobody is mentioning that when you break a law, whether inside your house, car, on a desert island or the top of the Himalayas, if you have another person doing it with you, you've just lost your precious "expectation of privacy". Don't wanna get busted on a wire? DON'T SELL DOPE!

Rusty said...

To One and All,

I invite each of you to www.drugwarfacts.org, it was not my intent to get people angry, just educated first, THEN ARMED WITH THE TRUTH, CONCERNED ENOUGH TO ACT! I see we have at least one poster that appears to believe any means justifies the end. I would honestly like to know if he/she believes the drug war is working??? And if they will provide evidence for their beliefs???

Rusty White
Speaker www.leap.cc

Anonymous said...

anon_back-on-track: There's privacy from your neighbors, and privacy from the government and its goons. If my kid's mom knows I smoke dope, eh, maybe I'll be embarrassed, but I won't be put in jail for years, made to fight for my life, lose my kids, lose all my possessions, really lose my privacy, and go crazy with claustrophobia. Or, if you're lucky (say, a white coke user, as opposed to a black crack user - never mind the other incoherent poster's ramblings about supply and demand and his ignorance of who's really prosecuted for drug crimes), maybe you'll be paroled and thus subject to a search without any cause at all. For dope. Or for having gay (male) sex in Texas before 2004. Or for sodomizing your wife with her consent in Texas before 2004. Or for being (accused of being) a witch in 17th C. Massachussetts. Most people have problem with overbearing control of the population by a hegemonic, unrepresentative government. (I won't even get into the hypocrisy of the federal gov't when it comes to recent federalism jurisprudence - just compare the recent hoasca and assisted suicide decisions with the medical cannabis decision).

As soon as you let the system tell you what's right and wrong (besides core evils like murder, rape, stealing, which no government should have to tell anyone about), or whom to be like, or whom to hate, you're already a long ways down the slippery slope towards [insert authoritarian regime here]. OUR government rules by OUR consent. There've been lots of things that were illegal at the time, but which were not immoral and which were later, or in other places, completely socially acceptable. I'm not saying we have to become Amsterdam or British Columbia (although I think that's preferable), but there is a reason the jury has a special place in our system, and can let people off for no reason, even if the elements of a so-called crime have been clearly shown, and it's the same reason we require warrants and probable cause -- distrust of government. Same reason we require representation with taxation (except for DC). Same reason we don't allow quartering of soldiers in our homes. Same reason we explicitly reserve our natural rights in the 9th and 10th Amendments. Because society's view of what should be a crime changes over time, and if we let the government rule our minds as well as our bodies those changes come with bloodshed. Aspects of criminal law and procedure are also measures of our democracy and our self-rule.

The drug war has seriously eroded our sense of personal autonomy, especially in my (the younger) generation(s).

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 12:28am;

What did you just say? If you're a spokesman for any of these positions, please repost and underline an idea, a thought, or even a string of dangling participles that you believe made any sense.

Rusty said...

anonymous'

WELL SAID!!!!!!!!!! " BUT " there comes a time we can no longer set on the side lines!!! And that time is now! Today we watch as these legal parasites feed upon our children, NO MORE!!!! Everyday we hear on the news of a home invasion, where people are fed upon. Everyday we hear of suicides and stories of our young going stupid, WHY NOT THEY HAVE NO FUTURE!!! UNLESS THEY ARE WILLING TO SUBJUDGATE THEMSELVES!!!!! Every day these BS laws and unequal courts rape our people, not realizing in doing so they are creating an army against us all!!!! People just don't disappear, they have wants, needs and desires REGARDLESS OF OTHERS BIGOTRY AND CONTROL!!! I believe there are those who believe they are creating a second class work force, that will have no other option than to serve those who have subjugated themselves! In reality they have created an ARMY of Americans wrongfully stripped of their rights and freedoms, who will survive BY ANY MEANS!!!!! IMHO!!! Everyday we see more violence and wonder why??? FREE PEOPLE DON"T JUST DISAPPEARE, THEY GET EVEN!!!!!IMHO. You can get over an addiction " BUT" you can't get over a conviction!!! No EQUALITY NO " REAL FREEDOM " NO JUSTICE NO PEACE!!!!

Rusty White
Speaker www.leap.cc