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Join the conversation! There are now 10 comments on this chapter's page 104. Hot Pursuit, Cold Trail. What are your thoughts?
  1. The “innocent bystanders” are going to jail and the “crook” is going free. A great testimony to modern American jurisprudence!

    • Well, first off, the bystanders weren’t exactly innocent. Second, the guy here is still very likely going to jail. They’ve got plenty of evidence for a few other crimes (reckless driving, deadly assault with a firearm, breaking and entering). The question is whether or not they will be able to keep the money they found when they arrested him as evidence, and even if not, depending on what he did they may have enough evidence to nail him without the money.
      What I’m curious about (and I’m sure we’ll get to it) is if it’s ruled that the police enters his house unlawfully, can his arrest be thrown out, even though he’s clearly on the hook for these other crimes?

    • I mean, nice use of quotes, but let’s not overlook the inconvenient fact that everyone involved was breaking the law. It’s quite as though you are detracting from the job that law enforcement did in the first case because it happened by accident.

      I think I observed this once before in part, but I can’t imagine (and refuse to believe) that the Framers intended our Fourth Amendment rights as a cover to criminal activities. This gives imprimatur to lawlessness. Were the Framers men of the Enlightenment who were forward-thinking in protection of a citizen’s rights? Absolutely. Were they propertied men of distinction? Yes. Does this make them less inclined to somehow overlook an exploitable hole in the maintenance of a lawful society? I believe it does; convince me otherwise.

      We’re both college faculty members, so I’ll use a parallel (that is admittedly not entirely perfect) to which you might be sympathetic. I have spent several years involved with the inner workings of my university’s undergraduate honor system. The “agents” of our honor system (which really includes any student or faculty member capable of reporting a violation, and not just the student justices who investigate and preside over cases) lack substantive police powers, so they couldn’t barge into a dorm room unannounced to catch cheaters in the act even if I believed that to be right, which I don’t. But stumbling across cheating that was never meant to see the light of day – that was somehow thought to be “protected” by secrecy – is no reason to value it less that detecting cheating that is happening in the open. As far as I’m concerned, the alternative requires someone to convince himself that cheating that happens in secret is somehow less pernicious than cheating that happens in the open.

      • I disagree. Samuel Clemens said, “Nature knows no indecencies; man invents them all.” What is a crime today may not be tomorrow; yet we punish people all the same. We are still back to the point of an “obvious” crime. What if, as the first book mentions, the couple simply had a bird feather they found while hiking and the feather turned out to be from a protected species? Would you still believe the couple was guilty of a crime and in need of punishment? The issue isn’t if the couple is guilty of a crime; it is whether we want out government to have so much power. I personally don’t. It is very apropos that we are having this conversation on Guy Fawkes Day. All need to watch V for Vendetta tonight!

        • you want cops to arbitrarily choose which crimes to “see” and which to “ignore”? I’m sure that can’t possibly end badly.

          • Yeah, like that’s what anyone is arguing for. Nice strawman. What people actually think is that the cops shouldn’t be able to invade houses on a whim if they just think up a pretext first. That is something that won’t end well.

          • You mean they don’t do that now?
            “Thin Blue Line”? “Blue Wall of Silence”?

            Ignore the CI’s (or undercover’s) drug use so you can make a bigger bust…?
            Ignore the speeding of a fellow officer, but pull over the driver doing 5 over?
            Not issue a parking ticket to a fellow officer’s private car?
            Porky parking in a Handicapped space is OK?

            Etc, etc, etc.
            This is seriously a hole with no bottom.

            To be blunt: the whole “Bird Feather” bit is from a case where someone had feathers from a Bald Eagle, which they had picked up while hiking.
            They were prosecuted and WENT TO FEDERAL PRISON. Because (a) it’s an endangered species, and having such feathers is a crime by statute; and (b) because taking ANYTHING from the Federal Parks is a FEDERAL CRIME. Take a rock as a souvenir? You’re a felon.

            think it through – it’s the same reason you need to pay RENT to the government every year. They call it, “Property taxes.” Claim it goes to police, to roads, to public works.
            But you need to maintain the lawn, the curtilage, the sidewalks (snow removal), the property – and often pay separate fees for trash removal, sewers, water, and electricity is a legalized MONOPOLY in many places (you don’t get to decide who can provide your power, as only Provider X is allowed to do business in Town Y. E.G., Wakefield Municipal Power and Gas, Wakefield, Mass.)

            Who OWNS your home? You DON’T. Daddy government does, they just rent it back to you, and they CLAIM you benefit from the “services” they provide – like the snow plows who bury your driveway three times in a night; the police who ignore the trespassers, burglars, breakins – but ticket you for expired tags on a vehicle secured in your driveway, or being “too far” from the curb, or parked “too long” in a legal space…. (Not metered, mind. Point being they have money to send cops to write parking tickets, but not to recover your stolen property – while they will steal that same property themselves as “evidence a crime was committed.”)

        • That will have to go to the “ancient” concept of Mens Rea, or “guilty Mind.” The idea was, you had to INTEND to break the law.
          E.G., eavesdropping and wiretapping are crimes if done by a civilian.
          But if your phone or radio picks up the transmissions? It’s been admitted as evidence before. (Note the person who collected the evidence was not a cop.)

          Also, it goes to INTENT. E.G., fire in a store; you run out wearing the clothes you were trying on.
          This SHOULD (can’t say won’t) result in no arrest and no charges. You didn’t PLAN to be a shoplifter, you REACTED to a threat. On the other hand, if you SET the fire as a pretense, that’s indicative of intent.

          If you accidentally run someone over, you’re not charged with first-degree murder. (In an ideal world. We’ll focus on that ideal.) First degree murder requires intent and planning. Accidentally killing someone is manslaughter. You’re not guilty of MURDER, but the accidental killing must still be addressed, and in theory, restitution made. (How the truly injured parties are made whole again by incarcerating the killer is open to debate. E.G., DUI vehicular homicide has been argued as first degree murder. And either way, the State as “Avenging Angel” is an immoral and stupid approach. Can’t replace the person killed. And often, any recompense will be from a CIVIL suit, and have no bearing or connection to the criminal case.)

  2. WJS says

    I was wondering just how “hot” hot pursuit had to be. Given the varied terrain and modes of transport available to people these days, I imagine it can be complicated at times.

    If this is an example of a trail gone cold, how different would it have to be to still be hot? If ☆ had looked out the back and seen the guy running into the house, that would presumably count, but what if he saw clear tracks? It would still be guessing, but would it be enough to count as reasonable suspicion? Or is it too subjective for there to be a right answer?

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