Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A suggestion for 'The Sandra Bland Drivers' Rights Act'

This morning, I received a text from the missus* who suggested that, in 2017, reprised legislation to limit police arresting motorists for Class C misdemeanors should be titled, "The Sandra Bland Drivers' Rights Act." Clever gal. Bud Kennedy at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram had earlier described the law that needs updating, and UT law prof Jennifer Laurin suggested that:
state legislatures can, and should, limit police discretion to arrest for minor violations. 
The Texas Legislature attempted to do that in 2001 and 2003, passing one bill barring arrests for most offenses not punishable with imprisonment, and one to force police to enact rules on when arrests can occur. Then-Gov. Rick Perry vetoed both bills. The Texas Legislature should act again to prohibit arrests for minor violations, and the current governor should lend his support. 
So, too, lawmakers can push for greater police professionalism (through more rigorous training requirements) and for less protective civil service laws. In contrast to the limits of rulemaking through lawsuits, the options are theoretically endless for legislatively driven police oversight. The only limit is political will.
Indeed, there have been lots of interesting columns published about the case recently, including a bunch of good ones from the Dallas News. E.g.:
* Your correspondent is in Lubbock moving the Innocence Project of Texas out of its long-time offices, which explains why blogging has been light. Our landlord, who donated the space for many years, just sold the building and we've been asked to vacate on quite short notice, months ahead of original plans.

65 comments:

Anonymous said...

A ban on arrests for class C misdemeanor may lead to a re-classification of the two ways you can commit a class C Assault.

Police need to be able to arrest the guy that commits class C assault by threat or by provocative contact like pushing and shoving that does not cause physical pain. Especially if that guy is also publicly intoxicated or makes it obvious that he has a firearm on his person... but does not brandish the weapon while committing assault.

This guy is potentially dangerous and LEOs want to arrest him and hold him for 8 hours until he calms down and/or sobers up. It theoretically serves both the "preventing crime" and "keeping the peace" purposes of law enforcement.

Maybe there shouldn't be a class C assault.

Anonymous said...

If this is just a jumping on the bandwagon program to take advantage of the Waller tragedy, I don't think it will prevent similar occurrences in the future without a major push to get people with mental illnesses better help. Several of my more conservative friends suggest making that Chris Rock HBO clip mandatory viewing in middle school on up as a means of using peer to peer communication to convey what most of us know as common sense rules to live by.

A Waco Friend said...

A law is needed setting when the officer's right to detain under the original pretext for the stop ends, and the detainee has a right to end further interaction with the officer and leave. E.g., the handing to the motorist of the ticket ends the rright of the officer to detain and other than a pleasantry, the officer must have an independent legal justification to continue any interaction with the motorist, or the officer is in violation of the civil rights of the motorist and any further action by the officer is an offense of the law.

Anonymous said...

What is needed is less communication options for officers effecting stops. We need to avoid these incidents by scaling back what an officer is permitted to say during a stop. It should be a script like a telemarketer uses. "Good afternoon, I am officer so and so and I pulled you over for abc. To write the ticket, I will need your license and registration. Without these, I will be forced to arrest you." Put out your cigarette wouldn't be part of the script.

L said...

Isn't Rick Perry supposed to have been in jail a long time ago?

Adele said...

Yea, but while the "overnight" arrest is taking place the police confiscate the weapon and it is hard to get the gun back for the client even if the gun was not used in any way, shape, or form. These "no gun" determined bureaucrats are the problem with that. I'm all for the overnight night stay for the drunks, but stealing their weapons from them rules me to no end.

Adele said...

Oh and as far as yanking a person out of their vehicle, No. That could and should have been handled in a more righteous and professional manner, not like that hot headed officer had done. That needs to be prevented from happening again.

Anonymous said...

Re above comments! I fail to understand why Ms Bland did not comply with the officers first request! I was taught and I have taught my kids you comply with a police officer request. I might not agree with said officer, but will comply anyway. Sorry folks I think she was 100% in not doing what she was asked to do.

Anonymous said...

Although it wise to comply with the officer, from a self preservation standpoint, they don't have the authority or the right to demand that a person do just anything.

Just because you were taught to behave as if police officers were rabid dogs, that doesn't mean that someone with a different belief is 100% wrong.

Anonymous said...

A couple points about this that I have been thinking about. 1) The class c arrest restriction would not have applied in this case. As wrong as it may have been, Bland was arrested for a felony assault on an officer. Many people lose sight of that aspect. 2) In regards to the officer asking Bland to put out her cigarette, I don't have much of a problem with that request. Having previously worked for a Sheriff Department, I have had cigarettes flicked at my face during arrest and I know an officer that had a lit cigarette shoved in his face and the cherry hit and stuck to his lower eyelid. A fraction higher and it could have ended up in his eye and caused even more serious problems. As minor as they are cigarettes can be dangerous to officers. (Note: I do not condone HOW the officer went about this situation, but I do understand WHY he may have asked her to put it.)I have known officers in the past who would stand back or remain in their vehicle until the citizen finished or extinguished a cigarette, just so the officer did not have to be concerned with it being thrown at them. But that extends the duration of the stop.

sunray's wench said...

I still thing a point is being missed: there was no real need for the officer to pull her over and put himself in the position of being vulnerable in the first place. This could have ended differently, with Sandra Bland filing a complaint of sexual molestation - the officer tried to remove her forcibly from her car before any back-up arrived.

@9.48 ~ I wouldn't normally ask this, but it seems relevant at the moment: are you black or white?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Bland was NOT arrested for felony assault on an officer. That is a lie by 11:01 et. al..

She was arrested for failing to signal a lane change. (Or really, contempt of cop.)

The alleged MISDEMEANOR assault charge happened later, after she was out of the car.

Anonymous said...

after she was out of the car. And taken way out of view of the dashcam. There, fixed it.

Folks what we witnessed was a new era of training in action, where LEOs (of any & all colors) instruct citizens (of any & all colors) to go to a certain place in order to be clearly out of view of dashcams. Has anyone actually seen the entire clip? I've seen nothing bit bits and pieces and can't help but wonder if there are any security cameras in the area or any additional footage from the back-up vehicle.

john said...

Clearly, the Legislature has led the way in allowing police/judge/courts/lawyers to rape & pillage the private-sector citizens--as well as the illegals.
There is no will to pull back on training cops "I fear for my life" and the other tricks. There's no will to stop raising revenue. THERE'S NO WILL TO STOP USING THE ADMINISTRATIVE CODE TO GENERALLY OVERRIDE THE TRANSPORTATION CODE, et al. There's no will for the citizen neighbor constituents to KNOW they're being hunted and robbed by cops, or by cross-County, unelected Tax Appraisal Districts--and so on.
THEY'RE CORRUPT, AND WE'RE BURNING. Better to get a gov job and laugh at the rest of us. The silent majority of good lawyers will DO NOTHING. That's what Earth humans DO--protect themselves short-term, short-sighted. They think they're winning while playing the system. (Compared to me, they certainly are. Thanks a lot.)
Also, I might note the racism appeasement of the media, etc.--the Native American didn't get press over there in Mississippi. What about last year's UT white boy shot dead wearing headphones? That's small part of the problem, but is they'd count abuse and death of folks in addition to blacks, the issue would be much larger. Shhhhh. Just look down at your shoes.

Anonymous said...

@ 11:01 - it is clear this officer decided to arrest Ms. Bland before he got her out of the car. I don't think he even thought about arresting her for the traffic infraction. He was arresting her for "contempt of cop." That's it. The alleged assault occurred long after the decision to arrest had been made. After the video you can hear the phone call he made to his Sergeant. It was clear that he wasn't sure at that point what his justification for the arrest was and he called his Sergeant to ask. He was trying to decide between assault or resisting. I don't think the thought of his justification for the arrest even entered her mind until he had her in the car. He was simply arresting her because she gave him an attitude.

The Comedian said...

This whole incident is a great advertisement for the state of Texas. It reinforces the "yahoo" image of Texans by people who live elsewhere.

Great commercial: "Looking for a job? Consider Texas - it's a land of great opportunity. One word of caution. Be careful not to change lanes or turn without signaling. Texas police enforce this law quite vigorously and you will rarely, if ever, see an unsignaled lane change or turn on our highways. If stopped by our police, you may be subject to being ticketed or physically pulled from your vehicle by a peace officer, whichever comes first. Most likely you will be arrested in any case. Once arrested, you will be held in jail until your trial occurs, typically six months to one year later unless you post bond. At all times be compliant with the officers and jailers even if they come into your cell to hang you. This is their right under the Texas criminal justice system. Yes, our justice system is criminal, but don't let that stop you from coming to Texas! And be sure to drive Texas friendly! Yahoo!"

Robert Langham said...

The whole country is aflame over police killing arrestees, brutalizing bystanders, (perhaps in Waco), murdering people across a parking lot and this knothead decides to yank around on some woman who hasn't signaled changing lanes? Who hired this idiot? BOTH of their commissions ought to be cancelled. They are plainly in the wrong profession.

Anonymous said...

A possible fix would be to prohibit Class C. Misdemeanor arrests for transportation code offenses (traffic offenses). As stated in earlier posts this prohibition already exists for speeding and open container offenses. This would allow for arrests for penal offenses such as theft under $50 or assault by offensive contact. This might be more palatable for compromise, though the notion that class c offenses are punishable by fine only does seem to fly in the face of the concept of a custodial arrest.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7/29/2015 10:04:00 AM, you are mistaken. SCOTUS has ruled contrary to "they don't have the authority or the right to demand that a person do just anything" and under our system of government, they are the final arbiters of what constitutes a "right".

Sunray, "the officer tried to remove her forcibly from her car before any back-up arrived" is something he is legally allowed to do even if most of us agree that he shouldn't have done so. That is what the whole article Grits posted about, changing things so he wouldn't have the legal authority to do that.

Grits, she was stopped for the signal but arrested for the felony charge per the LA Times, Washington Post, Business Week, etc. None of the major media have reported it was for a misdemeanor. You can argue she was arrested for failing to obey the lawful order and then the charges were upgraded after the assault but calling the guy a "liar" seems unfair.

The move away from the dashcam was just common sense. The cars were on the side of a roadway so if he had remained between the cars and someone hit the back of his car, a few of you would be screaming bloody murder over the cop's incompetence for not taking the matter to the safer side of road. This is a good example of the limitations of dash cameras and why we should all support body cameras, as expected, any equipment limitation automatically is held against the cop. When the body cameras become widespread, the same people will complain if an arrest is made in bad weather or at night when the cameras do not show footage as clearly.

Anon 7/29/2015 02:35:00 PM, I tend to agree with your reasoning. There might be other exceptions worth considering too but the gist of your idea works better than the sweeping, all inclusive, one size fits all "solutions" the others propose.

Anonymous said...

@ 3:50 - This was a pure "contempt of cop" arrest. You can spin it all you want. That's what it comes down to. She may have assaulted the officer, we'll never know for sure. What I suspect happened is that this officer was no more adept at handcuffing someone than in making a traffic stop in general. The lady was being defiant and probably moving around as she was talking to him. She was upset and that is normal behavior when you are upset. And, in that situation, if an officer is not very skilled the attempt to handcuff someone may look like a struggle. Its possible that he got her off balance and her foot hit his leg in attempt to keep from falling. Yes, I am speculating. But, in the absence of any video evidence that scenario is just as likely as an assault. Unfortunately, too many untrustworthy people work in law enforcement so, if I were on a jury, I couldn't accept the officers word without corroboration. If you don't think officers lie just look at the parrot case out of Tyler.

Anonymous said...

Why do we feel the need to arrest so many people anyway. Lots of arrests are totally unnecessary. But, these unnecessary arrest feed the kingdoms of prosecutors, sheriff's, judges, and others who oversee such systems. We are always hearing about the need for bigger jails which means more money for certain folks to play with and more power. And, what about the bail bond business. These guys contribute a lot to the campaigns of judges and sheriffs. Most of these arrest are about money and sustaining this system that benefits certain people. They have little to do with public safety. Ms. Bland was driving down the road and was not a threat to anyone. Her failure to signal a lane change did not endanger anyone. The change in the law needs to be that a person cannot be confined unless he or she presents a danger to himself or others or there is a legitimate risk of flight. Otherwise, a person should not be confined unless he or she has actually been convicted of a crime. Just because we have always done it this way doesn't mean it is the smart way to do it.

Anonymous said...

@ 05:40 - I'd like to know how many people are arrested for class C traffic offenses absent warrants or lack of ID. I suspect the number is a very small percentage of total arrests in Houston since their Chief changed their rules awhile back. They also moved public intoxication offenses to a detox center and are awaiting the joint booking center with the county to open so they can "get out of the jailing business" altogether. I know that doesn't fit your narrative but it is only one city too. Other major cities are making similar changes and have been long before Bland, but as we all know, that was a state cop and a county jail. Given the trend has been toward reducing arrests over the last ten years, maybe codifying the small remaining percentage will be easier this time.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7/29/2015 05:40:00 PM,
"in that situation, if an officer is not very skilled the attempt to handcuff someone may look like a struggle. Its possible that he got her off balance and her foot hit his leg in attempt to keep from falling. Yes, I am speculating. But, in the absence of any video evidence that scenario is just as likely as an assault. Unfortunately, too many untrustworthy people work in law enforcement so, if I were on a jury, I couldn't accept the officers word without corroboration."

And that is the one area where police supportive of body cameras predicted a few of you would go to, not out of a reasonable belief but out of a general mistrust. If there is anything wrong with the footage or it doesn't exist for any reason, some of you jump on the denial wagon all too readily. By holding the state to an unreasonable standard of proof you are only going to potentially cost a defendant much more expense in the form of a retrial and keep them in jail much longer should you end up on a jury. As a result, please let any judge know ahead of time during voir dire your leanings so it won't cost either side a strike.

Road Warrior said...

She should have been arrested for stupidity and mouth out of control if there were such laws. That is not the time for tongue wagging. Ten years or so ago I was stopped by DPS on an Interstate for not signaling a lane change. Ever since then every time I change a lane (and usually always) and signal I thank that officer for his instruction. I got a warning. I was polite and so was the officer. Laws do not solve all problems. Common sense is needed. Respect and decency is necessary for a civil society and ultimately more effective; so clearly demonstrated by MLK.

George said...

@Road Warrior,

It is one thing to show respect because you really mean it, it is quite another to "be required" to respect someone just because they carry a gun and a badge. I don't know about the rest of you but the older I get the less trust I have in the law enforcement community as a whole. Throw in politicians, lawyers (pretty much the same, no) and judges, wow. I mean do they deserve our respect for the most part?

I've stated before that there are great cops in service today, very few, if any, great politicians and judges. It's getting to point now though that people are getting fed up with the system the way it is. Anonymous 5:40 hit the nail on the head.

Why do we have to arrest so many people? Why do they have to sit in jail so long? Why are the vast majority of arrests and detentions aimed primarily at the low income segment of our society? Why is the color of your skin a reason to pull you over? Why? Why? Why?

Quite a few questions, the simplest answer is that all of this generates revenue. Money! That's the core reason for almost anything that happens in this world. There are privatized companies behind the vast majority of the mass incarceration of American citizens. Companies that supply the county jails with food, clothing etc. Companies that rake in millions upon millions housing state and federal inmates, these are private companies that trade on the stock market. Companies that make millions upon millions on the electronic monitoring of releasees, probationers, and parolees. Did you see how the Feds complied with releasing the illegal women and kids at the detention centers -- but they strapped ankle monitors on them first. Who do you think makes money off of that?

All in all, the need to take away the "right" of officers to arrest someone for a simple traffic violation is paramount. In fact, I don't think any misdemeanor should be an arrestable offense unless there is an imminent threat involved or it shouldn't be a misdemeanor in the first place. The whole criminal code needs an overhaul to truly "protect and serve" the rights of all citizens.

We need to reduce our addiction for arresting, detention and incarceration. The money that will be saved from having to have so many jailers and prison guards and all the other high costs with operating the penal facilities could be put to much better use such as medical care, eduction and repairing our highways and building new ones.

Anonymous said...

"By holding the state to an unreasonable standard of proof you are only going to potentially cost a defendant much more expense in the form of a retrial and keep them in jail much longer should you end up on a jury. As a result, please let any judge know ahead of time during voir dire your leanings so it won't cost either side a strike."

So, does that mean if you are called to jury duty you are going to inform the court that you will always believe the officer no matter what. It is you who seek to hold the defense to an unreasonable burden of proof. What you don't get is the burden of proof is on the prosecution, not the defense. If it is one person's word against another, and, there is no reason to believe one over the other (which in this situation there is plenty of reason to distrust this particular officer), they haven't met their burden, have they? But, you would not hold the state to its burden. So, it is you that needs to be telling the judge you are too biased to sit on a jury. Its supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. Too many, like you 11:06, get that backwards. You would walk into the courtroom assuming guilt. You have said as much because you believe the officer would never have made the arrest if she wasn't guilty. You, like too many jurors, just assume guilt because a person has been arrested and hauled into court. So, don't lecture me about informing the judge - don't complain about the mote in my eye when there is a beam in yours.

Anonymous said...

@ 09:06 - I didn't get that from his/her post. I did see where they were coming from though. If someone feels that strongly for either side of a criminal trial going into it, maybe they are better suited to be a juror in a civil case or not at all. And I'd still like to know how many people are arrested for class C traffic offenses absent warrants or lack of ID. Others have jumped in to suggest it is common but at any given time, almost all are for higher level charges, the state even closing facilities recently.

Anonymous said...

@ 3:50 - If you honestly believe that the US Supreme Court ruled that an officer has the authority or right to demand that a person do just anything then you need to stop listening to whoever told you that because they clearly don't have your best interests in mind.

Anonymous said...

11:12, I can't speak to what the other person understands SCOTUS has ruled but there has been a seemingly endless erosion of rights in the past generation. The court has ruled a cop can demand we get out of our car, are allowed much more leeway of our freedoms for their safety, and rendered most rights qualified beyond the scope our forefathers could have envisioned. Properly justified or articulated, what used to be widely considered unreasonable is now well within the norm, lower courts ruling very much in line with that philosophy too. I'd be very interested in hearing what you or others think to the contrary given the wealth of evidence supporting my contention.

Anonymous said...

The War on Drugs is largely responsible for the erosion of rights. The justification for saying that an officer can get a person out of a car is officer safety. In most cases, it is safer for the officer if the person remains in the vehicle. The most common reason to get them out is to search for drugs.

We have gone so far in this that the US Supreme Court has said dog sniffs, which when used on the population at random are only about 16% accurate, establish probable cause for a search without the handler producing any records to show the dogs past performance.

I believe what has happened is in most of these cases, someone who has been labeled as a potential drug dealer is involved and the Courts are afraid to let such a person go so they make these ridiculous rulings that become the law simply because they don't want to let the bad guy go. These judges are not thinking about the overall picture when they do that.

If we end the war on drugs you will see much less emphasis on traffic stops. There use and duration will most often be limited to the purposes of traffic enforcement. That will be much safer for everyone involved.

Anonymous said...

It is pretty simple, obey the law and you will generally never come in contact with LE other than potentially being a victim or witness to a crime. And if you come in contact w/ LE, treat the officer how you would want to be treated (hopefully respectfully). Works for my wife and I.

8:07AM - Why is the color of your skin a reason to pull you over? Why? Why? Why?
That appears to be an assumption that all officers are "white" and a reference to them stopping minorities. I have several officer friends (of difference races) and I've had the minority one tell me that he can do more on traffic stops (stops, searches, etc.) generally without fear of a compliant. Both stated that they have no ideal who they are stopping at nighttime and/or by shooting a laser (speed enforcement) at a vehicle that is 1,207.1' (feet) away.

Some have mentioned disallowing for the arrests for misdemeanor offenses. DWI is a misdemeanor offenses that kills thousand of motorists a year nationwide. Just write them a ticket and cut them loose? Someone doesn't have a driver license and they are caught driving; cut them loose too? Either of those two situations results in another motorist subsequently hurt because the officer released the driver (DWI of no DL). These same posters would be upset that the officer let them go - blaming that officer for the (DWI or no DL) person hurting or killing another. Which way do you want it?

I believe the trooper should have de-escalated the situation and things COULD have gone different, but I don't blame him for her death as she committed suicide. I likewise don't expect the county jail or officers in general to be mental health experts.

Anonymous said...

"It is pretty simple, obey the law and you will generally never come in contact with LE other than potentially being a victim or witness to a crime. And if you come in contact w/ LE, treat the officer how you would want to be treated (hopefully respectfully). Works for my wife and I."

What a world of rainbows and unicorns you must live in.

Anonymous said...

2:28 PM - Yes rainbows and unicorns for 36 years now. Try em.

Anonymous said...

@ 2:04 & 2:36 - Given your 36 years of experience perhaps you can put this in better perspective. How often do traffic offenders go to jail for most class C traffic violations that don't include warrants or lack of ID? According to the dismissive crew here, it happens a great deal though Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and other large cities have restrictive arrest policies in place that tend to keep such arrests low. I've been stopped several times over the years, was not treated like public enemy #1, and even the worst stories from friends indicate the proverb how a few bad apples don't spoil the bunch.

Anonymous said...

I agree that 4th amendment protections have been eroded in the years since Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign, especially with regard to traffic stops, but it is not all bad news as we saw in Rodriguez v. United States earlier this year and Missouri v. McNeely a few years ago.

Acerbic said...

Grits, you married your landlord?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Hardly unfair. When he told her she was under arrest the alleged assault hadn't yet occurred.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

No, either you are confused or I wrote it confusingly. I was explaining why I would be texting my wife instead of just talking to her.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Hardly unfair. When he told her she was under arrest the alleged assault hadn't yet occurred.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Hardly unfair. When he told her she was under arrest the alleged assault hadn't yet occurred.

Kelly Ryan said...

Sandra Bland violated a lawful order not once but twice. Then she assaults an Officer, so lets name a law after her? Insane. She was a repeat violator of the law owing more than $7500.00 in past violations.
Her own family refused to bail her out to teach her a lesson. She was trouble, always antagonizing police. Watch her "Sandy Speaks" videos, especially the one from 3/28/15.
The woman was emotionally disturbed.

Kelly Ryan said...

Put out your cigarette is a lawful order which she violated.
Violation of a lawful order is resisting arrest.
She was rude and mouthy and had she complied with the officer, she would have gone on to her dream job instead of losing it.
Her family refused to bail her out and they could have so what law does this incident deserve?

Kelly Ryan said...

Amen! She violated his lawful order.
How about educating the general public that violating a lawful order leads to resisting arrest?

Kelly Ryan said...

Yes they do. It's called a lawful order.
If someone violates it like she did, she has resisted arrest.
I'm sure if you Google it, you'll see.
My ex is an Officer.
The Supreme Court ruled that an officer can ask for your cigarette to be extinguished.
It is a potential weapon and can also be used to try to mask the odor of alcohol and/or marijuana.

Kelly Ryan said...

No she wasn't. You internet wannabe police are annoying.
She violated a lawful order which leads to resisting arrest but then had to assault the Officer.
She was going to receive a warning before she violated the lawful order to extinguish her cigarette.
Pay attention

Kelly Ryan said...

How often do class C offenders assault an Officer?

Anonymous said...

1. Please tell me the case name or cite where the Supreme Court addressed an order to extinguish a cigarette?
2. What proof is there that she assaulted the officer? If she were still alive it would be her word against his, wouldn't it? I don't see any reason to think he is more credible than she would be so, how can you say she is guilty of that beyond a reasonable doubt? Oh, wait, you've already assumed guilt as you probably always do.
3. If you really want to get into a legal debate, stop pointing to things you think may be in case law somewhere and lets get down to the real issue. Regardless of specific instances of where a court may have found a particular thing to be one way or the other, the 4th amendment forbids UNREASONABLE SEIZURES. So, was it reasonable for this officer to attempt to forcibly remove her from her car, taze her, and throw her to the ground for failing to put out her cigarette? If the answer is no, you can talk about all the cases and talk about lawful orders all you want, the officer still acted illegally and violated her rights. THe Constitution trumps everything. Although, some only like to talk about the Constitution when it is convenient and other times want to ignore it. This illustrates the problem with people discussing these things who lack the intellectual ability to analyze the real legal issues involved. Sure, in some case, somewhere, a court may have said something was okay. However, you would have to look at the circumstances of that case to see if it was the same and look at the court's analysis of the 4th amendment reasonableness issue. The bottom line is a police officer making a traffic stop and/or arrest must act reasonably. This officer didn't. Therefore his actions were illegal and in violation of Ms. Blands rights.

Anonymous said...

A quick search doesn't reveal a single case where the supreme court addressed the issue of extinguishing a cigarette.

Anonymous said...

"The makers of our Constitution . . . sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations. They conferred, as against the Government, the right to be let alone—the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men. To protect that right, every unjustifiable intrusion by the Government upon the privacy of the individual, whatever the means employed, must be deemed a violation of the Fourth Amendment." Olmstead v. United States, 277 U. S. 438, 478 (1928) (dissenting opinion).

Anonymous said...

BTW - where is the statute that makes it a crime in Texas to fail to follow a police officer's order?


The reasonableness 188*188 of a seizure under the Fourth Amendment is determined "by balancing its intrusion on the individual's Fourth Amendment interests against its promotion of legitimate government interests." Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U. S. 648, 654 (1979).

Anonymous said...

A traffic stop is a seizure for the purposes of the Fourth Amendment and article one, section nine of the Texas Constitution. Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806, 809 (1996); Johnson v. State, 912 S.W.2d 227, 235 (Tex. Crim. App. 1995). Like all investigative detentions, a traffic stop must be justified at its inception and reasonably related in scope to the circumstances that justified it in the first place. Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 19-20 (1968). The detention must be temporary and last no longer than necessary to effectuate the purposes of the stop. Florida v. Royer, 460 U.S. 491, 500 (1983); Davis v. State, 947 S.W.2d 240, 245 (Tex. Crim. App. 1997). The investigative methods employed should be the least intrusive means reasonably available. Davis, 947 S.W.2d at 245.

Anonymous said...

Tex.Rev.Civ.Stat.Ann. art. 6701d (Vernon 1977) is an act entitled "Uniform Act Regulating Traffic on Highways". Id. § 154. It is a comprehensive statute comprised of many sections having as its overall object or purpose the safety and regulation of traffic upon Texas highways. Section 21 of said statute provides that, except as otherwise specifically provided, this statute relates to the operation of vehicles upon highways. Section 23(a) of said statute provides:

Below is the only statute I can find that makes it a crime to fail to obey a police officer and this one clearly applies to directing traffic. So, it appears to me that by refusing to put out her cigarette, Ms. Bland did not commit a crime.

"No person shall willfully fail or refuse to comply with any lawful order or direction of any peace officer invested by law with authority to direct, control, or regulate traffic."
An offense under § 23(a) is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $1.00 nor more than $200.00. Tex.Rev.Civ.Stat. Ann. art. 6701d, § 143 (Vernon 1977). The elements of the offense proscribed by § 23(a) are as follows:

(1) A person
(2) willfully
741*741 (3) fails or refuses to comply with any lawful order or direction
(4) issued by any police officer who has authority to direct, control, or regulate traffic.

Kelly Ryan said...

You're an idiot.

Kelly Ryan said...

Stop trying to be a wannabe internet lawyer.
She broke the law so many times that she owed over $7500.00 in unpaid fines.
She regularly antagonized police because she thrived on turmoil.
She was a drama queen who wanted to be an activist but successfully FAILED at that too.
She's dead because her family wanted nothing to do with her and now the greedy bunch us trying to cash in on her death. The whole family are whacks.

Anonymous said...

When you fight with a pig you both get dirty - but the pig likes it.

Kelly Ryan said...

Exactly because Sandra Bland lived for it. She absolutely loved it.
About $7500.00 worth.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8/08/2015 01:38:00 PM, many have focused solely on the lit cigarette, claiming it is not addressed as such, that the trooper had no right in regards to it, and that it was not a threat to his safety. Some of those making that claim are even credentialed lawyers, though I suspect they work with wills and probate or corporate law. SCOTUS effectively rendered the officer as the one in control of a traffic stop in cases such as Mimms, Hill, McCarthy, or Robinette, among others while cases like newly minted Rodriguez provide protections for the extension of a stop based on a complete lack of suspicion to get a drug dog out.

Based on her behavior and the total circumstances, the trooper could easily articulate a belief to remove her from the car and remove the cigarette from her reach as a safety measure. If you've never been burned by one, you might not understand but the trooper has to hand her his citation to sign and get up close to her as a result. As such, it is reasonable to assume his control extends to the issue, or at very least makes it an issue for a later court to decide, not a self proclaimed activist on the side of the roadway who also did not think the trooper had a legal right to have her step out of the car. This doesn't mean DPS cannot implement a policy limiting either practice but as a legal matter, had he found a gun or something else as a result, I doubt very much a court would have excluded the evidence based on historical precedent.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, 1:07, you illustrate my point. You claim that the officer had a "legal right" to have her extinguish the cigarette and get her out of the car. The officer only has a "legal right" to do what the Constitution allows. A traffic stop is a seizure under the 4th amendment which means it must be conducted in a reasonable manner. You can't say this case or that case said this or that so that action is always permissible. Each and every action must comply with the 4th amendment reasonableness standard. If it doesn't it is illegal and unconstitutional, period. The view that you put forth misses the forest for the trees.

Second, you need to take another look at Rodriguez. It says the opposite of what you claim.
Held:




2 RODRIGUEZ v. UNITED STATES
Syllabus
1. Absent reasonable suspicion, police extension of a traffic stop
in order to conduct a dog sniff violates the Constitution’s shield
against unreasonable seizures.
A routine traffic stop is more like a brief stop under Terry v. Ohio,
392 U. S. 1, than an arrest, see, e.g., Arizona v. Johnson, 555 U. S.
323, 330. Its tolerable duration is determined by the seizure’s “mission,”
which is to address the traffic violation that warranted the
stop, Illinois v. Caballes, 543 U. S. 405, 407 and attend to related
safety concerns. Authority for the seizure ends when tasks tied to
the traffic infraction are—or reasonably should have been—
completed. The Fourth Amendment may tolerate certain unrelated
investigations that do not lengthen the roadside detention, Johnson,
555 U. S., at 327–328 (questioning); Caballes, 543 U. S., at 406, 408
(dog sniff), but a traffic stop “become[s] unlawful if it is prolonged beyond
the time reasonably required to complete th[e] mission” of issuing
a warning ticket, id., at 407.

I think, in the future, because of the attitude by many officers that they can do whatever they want during a traffic stop, we will see more court decisions like Rodiguez limiting the scope of an officers actions. Again, it comes down to 4th amendment reasonableness. If you are extrapolating particular decisions to say an officer can take an action that is unreasonable under the circumstances, you are asking for trouble.

The issue of the cigarette being a danger to the officer is an excuse that doesn't really hold water. There are many things that you COULD argue COULD present some remote chance of doing something. But, even assuming you're correct, where is the officer's authority to arrest either for refusing to put out the cigarette or refusing to get out of the car. I suppose you could say that, assuming the orders are reasonable under the 4th amendment, the officer may be justified in using force to gain compliance with the orders, but I still am not aware of any statute that permits an arrest for refusing to comply with an officers orders. So, the officer in this incident was making an unlawful arrest. Assuming the lady did assault him, which I think is questionable, prior to that he was making an unlawful arrest. THere is no authority which permits an officer to arrest a person for refusing to put out a cigarette or for refusing get out of a vehicle. If you beleive there is, please let me know. And, no, just because there may be case law that says an officer may take order a person to do something does not, by itself, provide authority to arrest a person for refusal. THere has to be a statute making that particular act or omission a criminal offense. Where is such a statute in this case?

Anonymous said...

Okay, I know some are not going to get these concepts still so I feel the need to elaborate. Let's think about reasonableness. Yes, there have been court decisions that say an officer may order someone out of a car on a traffic stop. The important point here is that does not give the officer the authority to arrest someone for failing to comply. There must be a crime committed and those court decisions do not make it a crime. THey merely address whether such an action is permissible under the 4th amendment's reasonableness standard. Now, why have courts found such an order to be reasonable? The answer is officer safety. So, in this instance if the officer was ordering Ms. Bland out of the vehicle for his or her safety, the order would be reasonable. It is clear from the video that he decided to arrest her and ordered her out of the car because she was being obstinate. There are no court decisions holding that the 4th amendment allows an officer to order a person out of a car because she has an attitude. Therefore, the order was not reasonable, not lawful, and was not a basis for arrest. I am also not aware of any court decision addressing the cigarette issue. However, those who have posted here have made arguments regarding officer safety. I tend to think these are mere excuses but, let's assume they may have some legitimacy. What is an officer permitted to do in such a situation? Well, assuming there is a legitimate safety concern, which I doubt, the courts have said the officer may make such an order. But, what happens when the person doesn't comply. THen I think we go to the use of force continuum. First, is the danger such that use of force is reasonable? Second, what level of force is reasonable? THose are questions I dont' want to debate here. The big point is, there is no authority to arrest in such a situation. Therefore, when the trooper told her she was under arrest while he was trying to pull her out of the car, he had no lawful reason to arrest her. He was making an illegal arrest. Now, you will have those who lack the intellectual ability to grasp these concepts who will go to the alleged assault. The point is he made the decision to arrest before she had committed any crime other than a minor traffic violation. Now, lets talk about the arrest for a traffic violation. Is that permissible? Yes. However, again, an arrest is a seizure under the 4th amendment and must be reasonable. Prior to her being mouthy, the trooper obviously felt there was no need to arrest her for the traffic violation. So, did her attitude change the reasonableness of arresting her? I don't think so. It is clear that, in the officers opinion, there was no need to arrest her for the traffic violation. He was arresting her based solely on her attitude and using the traffic violation as an excuse. I think that fails the reasonableness test.

I sincerely hope that those posting on here claiming to be officers who think it is permissible to arrest someone for "disobeying a lawful order" are really not officers. If they are, they are out there making illegal arrest (that is unless they are directing traffic).

Now, I will concede that, in some circumstances, the failure to obey an order could be construed as resisting arrest. However, none of the genius alleged officers posting on here have argued that. It appears to be the belief of some posting here that the failure to obey alone is justification for an arrest. That is simply not a legal or constitutional position.

Anonymous said...

Furthermore, @ 1:07, if you are an officer or prosecutor, please go back and read Rodriguez as you clearly missed something there.

Kelly Ryan said...

The stupid woman got herself arrested and took her own life.
End of story.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8/09/2015 10:24:00 AM,
I respectfully believe you are mistaken. You can make any assumption about what you thought the officer's intentions were but lacking proof, you simply have no basis for claiming the arrest was illegal (and that is determined in court, not on the side of the roadway with a state trooper). Rodriguez is about TIME, as in, the extra time needed to obtain evidence for an additional offense when there is NO reasonable suspicion involved, in effect, a fishing expedition for an all new offense. I don't claim to be a cop or an attorney though I have some knowledge of each profession but Atwater v. City of Lago Vista clearly established that an officer could arrest for the moving violation alone just as Mimms before it (as well as Wilson) established the officer's authority to have someone step out of a vehicle.

You can split hairs on minor issues but even being told to put out a cigarette is NOT a seizure as the officer isn't demanding the item, merely another of those small inconveniences that various court rulings have already held (including two I mentioned) we endure when stopped by the police. Had she complied, she could have picked it back up as she drove off happily to her new temporary job. Regardless, I'm not advocating the trooper was up for the Mr. Congeniality award, nor am I suggesting he deployed a best possible practices approach to the stop, merely that he was within his lawful authority there on the roadside. If Ms. Bland took exception to his orders, at least the orders given, she would have ample time to address them in court later where any legal issues could be resolved.

Anonymous said...

TAKE FAILURE TO SIGNAL OUT OF THE TRAFFIC CODE AND PUT IT IN A BOOK: COURTEOUS DRIVING TECHNIQUES.

Personally, it is very aggravating when a driver does not have the COURTESY to signal. I do not read turns of the head to be a signal. A signal should signify COURTESY AND SAFETY FOR ALL DRIVERS, passengers and police.

Police and citizens would both benefit by doing away with the traffic code as it applies to "signals". It would be a protection to police officers NOT to approach a car and fear being shot in the face or shooting someone for allegedly failing to signal. If an accident is caused between vehicles as a result of failure to signal, the civil courts will take care of it. "SIGNALS": A SUBJECTIVE ALLEGATION with horrendous results to both police and citizens.

Ticket fines raise money for entities BUT FINES DO NOT RAISE AWARENESS OF THE TRAFFIC CODE OR ASSIST WITH LEARNING WHEN ONE SHOULD SIGNAL. Do you get stopped when your signal blinks for miles? Maybe people cannot hear. Drivers are allowed hearing and sight impediments. Only one good eye is required by law.

- IT IS NOT COMPREHENSIBLE THAT A PERSON'S ALLEGED FAILURE TO SIGNAL RESULTED IN ---DEATH-----.

This officer had a control freak personality, as evidenced by his actions and words. Anyone, especially a woman, would be hesitant in getting out of a car with only a gun toting overbearing officer outside the car.

Donald Trump is no statesman, but even he observed: who gets out of the car for a traffic ticket? Just give her the ticket, walk away and let people live.

The USA (land of the free) has more people in jail than any country in the world. We are wasting our major resource. -

Anonymous said...

@ 2:26, the failure to signal did not cause her death. Her committing suicide caused her death.

Unknown said...

So she deserves to die bc she didn't put out a cigarette? Smoking should be labeled a capital crime?