Texas State Troopers and illegal cavity searches

Nevin73 wrote:

So what recourse do people have when they are faced with blatant violations of their rights? Smile and take it? Threaten the cops with legal action? Take cell phone video?

I've heard voting stops it all.

I am a fan of the ACLU in these instances.

ACLU comes into play after the blatant violation of rights, the question was what to do when it's about to happen to you. I'd go with threatening legal action, but that's unlikely to stop a cop that thinks doing that sort of thing is okay in the first place.

Honestly it kind of makes me want to rig my car with cameras and to find an app that will automatically upload cell videos to a remote server. I know that the chances of something like this are happening to me are relatively remote, but this sort of stuff really enrages me and I want to see the people that abuse their power punished.

“We all know the way things are right now—budgets are tight,” Steve Westbrook, the executive director of the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas, says. “It’s definitely a valuable asset to law enforcement, for purchasing equipment and getting things you normally wouldn’t be able to get to fight crime.” Many officers contend that their departments would collapse if the practice were too heavily regulated, and that a valuable public-safety measure would be lost.

Ummm... excuse me, but my car and my money are not yours for your budgetary needs as you desire. I pay my taxes and you can piss the hell off. Put up a ballot measure for higher taxes for the city to support safety in the city, sure, I'll vote for that. But taking people's stuff without even CHARGING them, much less finding them guilty? Nope. No. No no no no no. Someone needs to post the Arrested Development gif now.

Nuean wrote:

Yeah this was a straight up organized crime ring with a badge. Way different.

Yar. Really reaaaaaaaaaally pisses me off. Never going near Texas.

Nevin73 wrote:

Honestly it kind of makes me want to rig my car with cameras and to find an app that will automatically upload cell videos to a remote server. I know that the chances of something like this are happening to me are relatively remote, but this sort of stuff really enrages me and I want to see the people that abuse their power punished.

http://www.zdnet.com/apple-patent-co...

Good luck with that.

Demosthenes wrote:
“We all know the way things are right now—budgets are tight,” Steve Westbrook, the executive director of the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas, says. “It’s definitely a valuable asset to law enforcement, for purchasing equipment and getting things you normally wouldn’t be able to get to fight crime.” Many officers contend that their departments would collapse if the practice were too heavily regulated, and that a valuable public-safety measure would be lost.

Ummm... excuse me, but my car and my money are not yours for your budgetary needs as you desire. I pay my taxes and you can piss the hell off. Put up a ballot measure for higher taxes for the city to support safety in the city, sure, I'll vote for that. But taking people's stuff without even CHARGING them, much less finding them guilty? Nope. No. No no no no no. Someone needs to post the Arrested Development gif now.

Nuean wrote:

Yeah this was a straight up organized crime ring with a badge. Way different.

Yar. Really reaaaaaaaaaally pisses me off. Never going near Texas.

I am very curious to see what anti-taxers think of this sort of behavior.

Paleocon wrote:

I am very curious to see what anti-taxers think of this sort of behavior.

"The market will correct itself."

I think that is the only salient point that the troopers can make. Sheriff's departments are very expensive to run. They have jails to maintain, handle crime labs, much of the more expensive criminal investigations. Likely they are providing local police services and emergency responses to smaller towns in the area without their own local PD.

Many areas are using ticketing, parking, speed enforcement to make up for tax shortfalls in the budget. Milwaukee PD rakes in over 20 million a year just from parking tickets. And they have fought tooth and nail to keep parking enforcement in the police, not with public works. And these are modest 20-30 dollar parking tickets.

Sheriffs do not typically do traffic work, the closest thing would be drunk traps.

Here is the thing, most states absolutely do not need as many police as they have, and most cities do not need the police that they have. We need to get the jails emptied out. We need camera enforced traffic, smart ID's for parking, more use of civilians than sworn officers. Most police departments could be cut in half and there would be no interruption of service-look up the Kansas City Patrol Experiment.

Okay, but again, their revenue should come from taxes and fines from (mostly) legitimate convictions. I say mostly because low level traffic courts notoriously often ignore defendent's rights in the interest of brevity and because they can.

I really don't understand why people can't sue for their belongings and cash back.

That doesn't even come close to justifying the racket some departments are running though. Using assets seized in criminal forfeiture is one thing, provided the assets seized were materially involved in the actual crime and are owned by the guilty party (no seizing mom or dad's house because the criminal lives there too), but the article linked is about civil forfeiture where the police are taking things from people who aren't even charged with anything, let alone convicted of a crime.

I think that is the only salient point that the troopers can make. Sheriff's departments are very expensive to run.

Whereas I think that is the worst point and the one that most obviously shows just how wrong (and frankly, stupid as hell, I would love to have heard the thought process behind this because I can't imagine it not having some words that sound an awful lot like racketeering) this idea is. "We all know the way things are right now - Budgets are tight." is a discussion that would be in my office before someone got fired... not followed by "Everyone who we think is shoplifting in our stores can have their purses/wallets taken at our discretion and be threatened with legal action if they don't allow us to... also their car keys, because they would have used that to transport stolen goods."

Nevin73 wrote:

Okay, but again, their revenue should come from taxes and fines from (mostly) legitimate convictions. I say mostly because low level traffic courts notoriously often ignore defendent's rights in the interest of brevity and because they can.

I really don't understand why people can't sue for their belongings and cash back.

Agree on the first sentence; last, as noted in the article for some people, was a matter of cost. It would cost more to get the property back the loss of the property. IE. They take your car, then you're not really in a position to be paying even more money on top of bus fares, etc... to get a lawyer too.

Nevin73 wrote:

Okay, but again, their revenue should come from taxes and fines from (mostly) legitimate convictions. I say mostly because low level traffic courts notoriously often ignore defendent's rights in the interest of brevity and because they can.

I really don't understand why people can't sue for their belongings and cash back.

They can, but because they're civil forfeitures and not criminal ones, they have to provide their own lawyer, which will typically cost far more than the value of what was taken from them. The cases can also drag on for a very long time, which means a lot of missed work due court dates. The police were targeting people from out-of-state as well, who would be even less inclined to fight it because they'd have to travel a fair distance for every court date.

Far from being a new problem, this is close to 25 years old right now.

The issue is the amount. By making this a small claim, sub 10 grand, this becomes a local court issue.

By the math. If the police have seized 5,000 from you, and you want it returned you can try to do that on your own, without legal counsel-up against a prosecutor for the city with a lot more resources than you, and likely lose. Now then, you need to prove that cash was not part of a crime. The problem is the law that is written in such a way that the mere presence of large sums of cash is presumption of a state criminal action. I want you to prove to me that the shirt you are wearing is something you own.

You can hire an attorney specializing in reclamation of seized property. You will need to pay him up front, 300 or so an hour. Now, because you do not typically keep your money in a bank, I am willing to bet you cannot afford that. You might look at a class action, but those are incredibly expensive, and rarely puts the harmed parties back together.

This is a classic ineffective due process of law issue. No one shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. The process of passing a law, can be sufficient due process in some circumstances. But it almost never is in a criminal sense, in a seizure of property sense. It used to be, prior to a Supreme Court decision that creditors like banks, stores, credit agencies could just go to the sheriff with your contract, say that you were delinquent on payments, and the sheriff would take the property back. US Customs is a talk for another day. But this is a woeful abuse of police power, and a slap in the face of due process, using US Customs law as the justification. If Customs Agents can seize high value property, certainly police can seize some cash?

As for the other part. Best legal advice you can ever get. Do not consent to anything that the police ask. Do not consent to anything the police ask.

Ah yes, I forgot about that part of the article. And if I remember, didn't the couple start a class action lawsuit, which sounds like the way to go.

Edited for KG's much more knowledgable statements..

Stengah wrote:

That doesn't even come close to justifying the racket some departments are running though. Using assets seized in criminal forfeiture is one thing, provided the assets seized were materially involved in the actual crime and are owned by the guilty party (no seizing mom or dad's house because the criminal lives there too), but the article linked is about civil forfeiture where the police are taking things from people who aren't even charged with anything, let alone convicted of a crime.

Forfeiture law can get pretty crazy though, like confiscating a $50K car for a crime that carries a $1K penalty. The other issue is that the police can just tie up your property in red tape forever, so while they may not ever sell it, it may take months to get the property back, if indeed you ever actually see it again. Didn't this happen to Steve Jackson games back in the 80s?

Nevin73 wrote:

Ah yes, I forgot about that part of the article. And if I remember, didn't the couple start a class action lawsuit, which sounds like the way to go.

Edited for KG's much more knowledgable statements..

It was a black guy who had $3,900 taken from him (he was going to get dental work done) that first brought it to the attention of the attorney behind the class action suit (David Guillory). The couple at the start joined after the suit was already in progress.

complexmath wrote:
Stengah wrote:

That doesn't even come close to justifying the racket some departments are running though. Using assets seized in criminal forfeiture is one thing, provided the assets seized were materially involved in the actual crime and are owned by the guilty party (no seizing mom or dad's house because the criminal lives there too), but the article linked is about civil forfeiture where the police are taking things from people who aren't even charged with anything, let alone convicted of a crime.

Forfeiture law can get pretty crazy though, like confiscating a $50K car for a crime that carries a $1K penalty. The other issue is that the police can just tie up your property in red tape forever, so while they may not ever sell it, it may take months to get the property back, if indeed you ever actually see it again. Didn't this happen to Steve Jackson games back in the 80s?

No doubt, there needs to be a clear set of rules about what can and cannot be seized. What we have now is way to broad and ripe for abuse.

In Various Items, the Court stated that because forfeiture proceedings are against the property and not the owner, the Fifth Amendment does not apply.

That part is the part that blows my mind. If you can sue my stuff, my stuff has rights too... and you can't just say "I'm suing your stuff instead of you so you can't use your constitutional rights."

That said, the previous case they cite on a guy trying to shack up with a prostitute and taking the car he picked her up in? Please. The car as a public nuisance? Would you have taken his shoes if they were fancy enough and he had walked? (completely unrelated, maybe you'd have more tax money if you legalized and taxed prostitution.)

I think what we are seeing is the effort folks in Texas will go to to protect the anti-tax identity.

If it means shaking down the powerless to keep taxes low, why the hell not?

Nevin73 wrote:

Ah yes, I forgot about that part of the article. And if I remember, didn't the couple start a class action lawsuit, which sounds like the way to go.

Edited for KG's much more knowledgable statements..

A class action is not necessarily out of the question. While I am a proponent of camera enforced traffic and speed, a large group successfully sued DC to have them changed. In essence, DC's traffic light placement basically made it so that any time you went through a yellow, it would change on you before you went all the way past the signal and you got nicked for running the red by the camera.

This is also an area, where I can really see the wisdom of the English rule for awarding attorney fees in most instances. England needs reform in this area, to be sure. But because the amount of money seized is so judicially nominal, once you factor in costs of litigation which will be out of pocket, you see why it is difficult to raise a civil suit. If these plaintiff's did not completely shoulder the burden of fees, you would see more lawsuits.

And for clarification. The 5th Amendment has not been integrated into the states. Fortunately, the 14th amendment has a full recitation of the property seizure aspects that applies solely to the states. That is why you get these quirky instances like the school integration issue where the District of Columbia decision is based on the 5th amendment for FEDERAL due process, but Brown v Board of Ed is for STATE Due Process.

Quintin what have your done!? The first rule of eminent domain is that we do not talk about eminent domain. Wal-Mart might hear you!

Nevin73 wrote:

Honestly it kind of makes me want to rig my car with cameras and to find an app that will automatically upload cell videos to a remote server. I know that the chances of something like this are happening to me are relatively remote, but this sort of stuff really enrages me and I want to see the people that abuse their power punished.

Russian dashboard cams seem like a real good idea for everyone, not just Russians.

While the female DPS trooper who conducted the cavity search on Angel and Ashley Dobbs was initially fired, she was just rehired because the grand jury chose not to indict her in the lawsuit the Dobbs filed.

The Director of the DPS claimed that the female trooper should be rehired because she was inexperienced and had been directed to conduct the search by a more experienced officer.

I would think that you wouldn't want to rehire someone as a law enforcement officer if they've shown incredibly poor judgement and have what are exceptionally dubious ideas of what kinds of things are legal and constitutional.

Was the more experienced officer fired?

Yeah, he got sh*tcanned as well.

But Bloomberg stood his ground. "People also have a right to walk down the street without being killed or mugged," he said at a news conference

Unless, of course, you're a black man targeted by the NYC police.