28 February 2003

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In California they are actually going to protect people's rights as they drive down the street. WOW. How do we bring that level of civilization to Virginia? Probable cause before attempting to violate 4th Amendment rights?

Let me be clear here, in Virginia this is a Courts/Legislature problem - not a law-enforcement problem. The police do their job as they are allowed to by the Legislature and Courts; they are told pretty clearly "a traffic-violation arrest ... [will] not be rendered invalid by the fact that it was 'a mere pretext for a . . . search'." Arkansas v. Sullivan, 121 S.Ct. 1876, 1878 (2001). This leads to all sorts of stops based on "reasonable articulable suspicion" that are just garbage. Then some sort of reason is found to search the car, usually permission given by a driver who does not understand that he can say "No" to the man standing next to his car with a gun and badge. The Virginia and federal courts stand strongly behind the disingenuous position that citizens in this position have the right to leave and will do so (and then get a felony eluding charge). California has raised the threshhold for a search such that an officer has to have "probable cause" before he can search. Thus the incentive for the bogus stop lessens because the officer cannot ask for the right to search.

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