Tuesday, April 28, 2009

That's the way to do it!

A long post on checkpoints, reasonable suspicion, and probable cause has been in the works for over a week. Until it's up, take a lesson from two or three University of Arizona undergraduates. The Daily Wildcat reports:
The RA told police that while he was doing rounds, he smelt the odor of marijuana. He said he traced it to the men's room, so he called another RA up to the floor to see if she smelt it too. The other RA did smell marijuana, so he made contact with the people in the room. The RA said that there was another man who lived in the room with the student, but he left the scene after being asked to stay. When he returned, he began to yell at and harass the RA, saying that there was no marijuana in his room and that he was being wrongfully persecuted. The RA said the man would not allow him to speak because he constantly interrupted him and spoke over him.

Police had the man take them up to his room. While they were walking there, the officer noted that the man showed him a lot of attitude. The man was cursing and saying that the situation was "so unfair and unjustified" because there was nothing in his room and he does not smoke marijuana.

When they got to the man's room, the officer asked him if he had smoked any marijuana in there. The man said no.

While police were talking to the man, another resident from a neighboring room tried to interject, even when the RA told him to go back to his room. He continued to stay near the scene.

Police asked the man if they could search his room, but he refused saying that he would prefer not "because of principle." The man said that his roommate was in the room all night and was sleeping.

Police knocked on the door and the man's roommate answered. He seemed to be in a daze from waking up, and was asked if there was any marijuana in the room. The roommate said no. Police noticed that there was a strong odor of marijuana coming from the room as soon as the door was opened. They asked the roommate if they could search the room, and he too said no.
That's precisely what should be done. Never give your consent to a search.
Police noted that every time they tried to talk to the first man, he accused them of "bullying" him or "being mean" to him. He would not allow officers to speak and he refused to stop talking when asked to be quiet. Throughout the incident, the man continued to yell at the RA and told his roommate not to speak with officers.
"Bullying" sounds like childish hyperbole, but see what follows.
Police asked him if there was nothing in the room, why would he not allow them to search it.
"Well, officer, let me search your home, too. You have nothing to hide, right? And let's have a look at that hard drive. Do you have a license for that copy of Leisure Suit Larry--and what would the wife think?"
The man continued to say that it was on principle. Police told the men that they had the right to deny a search, but the more they cooperated the better it would be for them (Emphasis mine--BSK)
See, bullying. "Cooperate or else." Bullshit. Maybe not bullshit if la migra is involved and there are few to no witnesses--more on that later. But here, bullshit.
Both men said that they still did not want police to search the room. The man became so upset at one point he started crying and would not stop for several minutes.

The man was referred to the Dean of Students Office for disorderly conduct.
Note that he's not going to Pima County court. He's being referred to a university inquisition. And if he were smart, he'd retain a lawyer. Being a University student shouldn't mean being forfeit one's Fourth Amendment-protected rights. (It shouldn't mean being forfeit the right to keep and bear arms in self defense protected by the Arizona constitution, either, but that would seem to be a matter for another year.)

Update: Evan Lisull of The Desert Lamp beat me to it.

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