Thursday, October 27, 2011

Why judges rubber stamp search warrants based on anonymous CIs

If you ever wonder why judges sign off on questionable search warrants in drug cases based on information from unnamed criminals working as informants on behalf of police, the short answer is, "they have to." As evidence, look no further than a recent example in Houston where Judge Kevin Fine's denial of a search warrant was overturned by the 14th Court of Appeals. What drew this benchslapping? Applying too-strict scrutiny to hearsay information from an anonymous informant. Even where judges think such testimony merits more corroboration, in Texas judges are apparently bound to accept it uncritically when considering pre-indictment search warrants. The Houston Press has the story.


Anonymous said...

If I remember correctly, Judge Fine was the one who ruled the death penalty in Texas was unconstitutional as a violation of due process because of the risk of an innocent person being executed.

In this case, it seems he took a stand for the 4th Amendment. Its rare these days to see a judge who actually believes in the Constitution.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like he needs to go back to law school.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the police have been given a free pass to make up PC from make believe informants.

Anonymous said...

Except they seized the drugs when they ran the search warrant.

BarkGrowlBite said...

Most people have no idea of how narcotic officers use confidential informants. These are not make-believe informants nor is their information hearsay.

In cases run by well-organized and disciplined narcotics investigation units, CIs are carefully controlled to ensure that the information they supply is genuine. The confidentiality of the informant must be maintained in order to ensure his safety and his continued use as an informant.

In the current case, Judge Fine ignored the fact that officers gave him some money to purchase dope, which he did and immediately turned over to the officers. He was under observation during this operation.

Judge Fine has proved himself to be a jerk on several occasions and it is way past time for him to be impeached or to be subjected to a recall election.

Anonymous said...

Don't try to use facts, logic, or common sense. It gets in the way of the narrative.

Anonymous said...

Right on 12:51 - we all know that police never lie, never make stuff up. No narcits officer has ever lied causing dozens of innocent people to go to prison (ummm.....TULIA). No narcotics officer has ever said ground up sheetrock was cocaine to frame innocent people (Dallas).

That pesky fourth amendment...that worthless Constituion....yes, yes, lets impeach any judge that dares to uphold those silly things that get in the way of stamping out all these dangerous drugs. Freedom, Constutional rigths, who needs those things. The police, politicians, government are all so trustworthy, lets just give them absolute power. What could ever go wrong in that scenario.

I find it amazing how, when a judge has the courage to stand up and say, wait a minute, there is a Constitution, there is a Fourth Amendment...that power hungry police officers who believe they should have completely unlimited power, call for his impeachment.

BTW, if what you describe isn't hearsay, what is?

Anonymous said...

If a police officer says a judge is jerk....that tells me that is probably a good judge.

God forbid a judge actually holds law enforcement to some standards, that he makes them prove something instead of just being a rubber stamp. Sorry Bark..., judges ain't supposed to be a rubber stamp for police officers. That's what enables corruption.

Bark...I have a question. Why is it so many cops hate the Constitution and the Fourth Amendment?

Anonymous said...

Why is it that appellate courts give extreme deference to magistrates (some of whom are unlicensed JPs) in determining probable cause from the four corners of an affidavit, when the appellate judges are always attorneys, and they can read the affidavit and be in no worse position that the magistrate to consider probable cause? It's not like oral testimony in court from a witness whose demeanor can only be viewed by a trial judge vs. an appellate judge reading a trial transcript.

Anonymous said...

Bark is an ass...plain and simple. If you read his posts on other topics he really comes across as a Nazi.

Then again, opinions are like assholes...everybody has one!

BarkGrowlBite said...

You're certainly not the first to call me a Nazi.

And 09:46, you can cherry pick instances of police misconduct to besmirch a whole group of dedicated narcotics officers. I know that the overwhelming majority of narcs would never try pulling the kind of crap you pointed out. You come across as nothing more than a cop-hating dipshit!

Anonymous said...

Narcotic officers by nature are trained to facilitate lies to get their job done. Not only the 4th amendment but other statutes like Texas' 38.23 exclusionary rule are designed to get rid of evidence that has been improperly seized. Too often these cops don't follow the law or just lie to get an arrest. These rules are in place for no reason. Confidential informants are usually given some incentive in their own case to become trained to lie that they are not associated with the cops. They have no incentive to make sure what the officer has them doing is legal. 38.23 not only protects us against bad cops but our legislature knew that confidential informants and other private citizens are likely to break the law to enforce the law so that statute has the very important word "other persons" to protect us against informants and private citizens that break the law to enforce the law. Hearsay is an out of court statement made for the truth of the matter asserted. So pretty much all of their testimony about what happened in a drug deal will be hearsay.

BarkGrowlBite said...

"Narcotic officers by nature are trained to facilitate lies to get their job done."

You are out of your fucking mind! You obviously don't know your ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to narcotics investigation and the use of confidential informants. In the vast majority of cases, those informants are carefully controlled and observed making drug buys to ensure their reliability.

The cherry-picked cases of deplorable police misconduct do not justify the condemnation of a whole group of dedicated officers who are risking their lives to enforce the law.

You sound like a jailhouse lawyer because you don't know shit from shinola when it comes to hearsay evidence. While hearsay evidence is an out-of-court statement, it is one made by a third party to another. When a controlled CI makes a buy and turns it over to the narcs, that is direct evidence and not hearsay.

Call me an ass and a Nazi all you want, but that doesn't alter the fact that you are either a lying lawyer or a dumb-ass lay person.

Since you hate the cops so much, if you ever need one, don't call for the police, call Judge Fine instead!

cat box chocolate said...

1) Yes drugs were found when the house was searched but that's an "ends justify the means" argument that is contrary to the law of Texas and the USA. The exclusionary rule is an explicit rebuke of this ends justify the means mentality. Why do you hate America?

2) Many people feel that criminal prosecutions based on secret evidence are morally wrong and that the mental-jujitsu appellate courts use to square it with the plain language of the 6th amendment is flawed.

3) Many people feel that prohibition is a failure. We've spent billions in taxes fighting the War on Drugs but the drugs won. Like the days of Al Capone we see it is not the drugs that cause crime so much as the prohibition of drugs. We grow weary of living in a war zone with decreased civil liberties and increased crime. When a story comes along that brings the erosion of the 4th amendment into sharp focus we get mad enough to post something on the internet, but not actually do anything productive.

BarkGrowlBite said...

Cat Box Chocolate

1) Where do you get that 'ends justify the means' stuff? The officers searched their CI to make sure he had no drugs on him, gave him cash to buy illegal drugs, observed him enter the dealer's house, and seized the drugs he bought right after he left the house. Then they obtained a search warrant based on first hand knowledge that there were drugs in the house. That is just good police work and it is not a violation of the Fourth Amendment. And the exclusionary rule does not apply here because the evidence was obtained legally.

2) When the cops obtain evidence legally while enforcing our laws, the fact people may think that certain police techniques are 'morally wrong' is entirely irrelevant.

3) I've got news for you. While it looks like we are not winning the war on drugs, we have not lost the war on drugs by any means. And you are comparing apples and oranges when you bring up prohibition during the Al Capone days.

"Why do you hate America?" Listen and get this straight! I love America a helluva lot more than you ever will! I came to this great country in 1936 with my parents as refugees from Nazi Germany. On my 17th birthday during WWII, I joined the army to do my part in defending this great country of ours. What have you done for your country except to shoot your mouth off?

This is my last response to you whining liberals. During my college days I was one of you. Then I woke up and came to my good senses. There is no sense in my trying to argue with you any further. Adios.

John K said...

Few who've been paying attention are surprised by appellate court rulings that remind us most judges are ex-prosecutors...and therefore more inclined to share Bark's skewed sensibilities.

What is surprising are those rare instances when judges put impartiality, fairness and Constitutional principles above loyalty and lingering allegiances to the cop-prosecutor Fine did in this drug-sting case.