Happy Bill of Rights Day

Two hundred and twenty-four years ago the Bill of Rights was ratified on this day.  The Bill of Rights is made up of those first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, granting things like freedom of speech, jury trial, protection against unreasonable search and seizure, and many other useful rights.  These rights have been around awhile now and they may seem intuitive today, but the history of the Bill of Rights was anything but straightforward. Ironically the Bill of Rights was never actually a “Bill” in Congress.  It got called that because England had passed a “Bill of Rights” a hundred years earlier.  Some felt these rights should have been included in the Constitution.  Others did not think we needed this Bill of Rights at all because states would have their own bill of rights.  Originally there were seventeen amendments, but the Senate rejected some and combined others.  Furthermore, some states did not accept the Bill of Rights right away.  Massachusetts did not get around to ratifying the Bill of Rights until 1939 (two years before President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared December 15 to be “Bill of Rights Day”). Today we celebrate the Bill of Rights, but every day […] Read More

Are These Your Drugs?

The Fifth Amendment gives you the right NOT to answer that question.  ‘Mind if I take a look inside your car?’  The Fourth Amendment gives you the right to refuse.  If the officer has to ask, then the officer does not have probable cause or a warrant. Do not curb your Constitutional Rights.  If you sit on your rights, you lose them.  For more information about proper etiquette with law enforcement and how to assert your Constitutional Rights, go to http://www.flexyourrights.org. Read More

Big Bad Wolf at a Traffic Stop

Once upon a time the Big Bad Wolf was pulled over as he was leaving Grandma’s house.  He was pulled over for one of his brake lights being out, and in his interaction with Law Enforcement, the Officer noticed Big Bad was sporting an old lady’s wig and dressing gown, but what was really suspicious was Grandma’s dentures clacking around on his big canines. Law Enforcement has to have a reason to stop you.  They have to have a reasonable, articulate suspicion, like if you were driving and speeding.  In the case of Big Bad, however, Officer was missing probable cause. Cars have three brake lights—left, right, and center—however, you are only required to have two brake lights to be safe.  Big Bad Wolf’s car had just one brake light out. Was the traffic stop legitimate? Was his car legal? Law Enforcement is to stop you for any reason that they think it is unsafe for you to drive.  Case law says if you are within the requirement of the law, then your vehicle is safe. Because the traffic stop was not proper, anything that came from that stop was inadmissible in court.  Thus Grandma could not get her dentures […] Read More

Illegal Sniff & Seizure?

The Supreme Court has yet to decide if drug-sniffing dogs can go door to door sniffing for more than Halloween treats.  But the justices have said yes to dogs at traffic stops that turn into drug stops, over-ruling a Florida Supreme Court decision. A dog named Aldo was at a traffic stop.  The police officer used Aldo’s signal as probable cause to search the vehicle, which revealed meth lab paraphernalia.  The Florida Supreme Court had ruled that this was an illegal sniff and seizure, based on the spotty qualifications of Aldo—was Aldo properly trained to sit, stay, and sniff for methamphetamines, and what was his margin of error?  The Supreme Court justices, however sided with the dog. Read More