Thursday, November 17, 2016

Police Given Power to Make Traffic Stops Without Cause


In June 2016, the Supreme Court gave police more power to stop people on the streets and question them, even when it is not clear they have done anything wrong.  In a 5-3 ruling, the justices relaxed the exclusionary rule and upheld the use of drug evidence found on a man who was stopped illegally by a police officer in Salt Lake City.

In an opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas, he wrote because the man had an outstanding arrest warrant for a traffic violation, the illegal stop could be ignored. Since the warrant was valid, it predated police investigation, and it was entirely unconnected with the stop,”
 
The three female Supreme Court justices strongly opposed and warned that the ruling will encourage police to randomly stop and question people because they face no penalty for violating their constitutional rights against unreasonable searches. They agreed racial minorities in major cities will be most affected. “The court today holds that the discovery of a warrant for an unpaid parking ticket will forgive a police officer’s violation of your 4th Amendment rights,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissent. “Do not be soothed by the opinion’s technical language: This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification and check it for outstanding
traffic warrants , even if you are doing nothing wrong,” she wrote. “If the officer discovers a warrant for a fine you forgot to pay, courts will now excuse his illegal stop and will admit into evidence anything he happens to find by searching you after arresting you on the warrant.” Allowing police to stop people to "fish for evidence" is a serious mistake that will give officers "reason to target pedestrians in an arbitrary manner,” Sotomayor wrote. We are also at risk for treating our citizens as second class citizens. Allowing police to stop people to "fish for evidence" is a serious mistake that will give officers "reason to target pedestrians in an arbitrary manner,” Sotomayor wrote.

Sue Gent, President
Prodigy Investigative Group, Inc.
(772)634-6040  *  (954)866-3338
www.prodigypi.com