June 21st, 2006

coyote Phil

Justices declare searches legal, even if they're illegal

A couple of days ago, the newly-unbalanced Supreme Court decided that the evidence acquired in a police search of a home can be used in court, even if the search was carried out illegally and violated the Constitutional rights of the owner.

Previously, such evidence couldn't be used in court, in order to discourage police from conducting illegal searches. The court now ruled that police can be discouraged instead by dealing with the Constitutional violating separately from the criminal case. So, if the police break down your door and search your home without a warrant, they can use the evidence to prosecute you, and you can sue them from your jail cell.

This could make sense, except for one problem: It isn't, as far as I know, actually a crime to violate someone's Constitutional rights. That means you are limited to filing a civil suit. That means the police involved will be defended by, and any fines paid by, the police department. That means there isn't really much incentive at all to the individual police to avoid breaking the law. Except for the threat of disciplinary action taken by the police department itself. We know how strict those disciplinary actions are.
coyote Phil

Still legal

Yesterday NPR referred to Jack Abramoff as a "self-confessed lobbyist." This made me happy, but it turns out it was a mistake - lobbying is still legal.