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There are now 42 comments... what are your thoughts?
  1. kjw says

    Holy crap a kill la kill poster!

    • Haha, I knew it! We speculated about that poster in an earlier frame where it wasn’t so clear. I’ll have to get me one of them, I like that big red “OBEY”

  2. Y. Exeter says

    I’m hoping that cup Pi knocked over is empty or ice-only — I know I’ve had my share of spilling coffees and Arizonas all over paperwork (and in one case, my former boss’s smartphone…)

    By the way Nathan, it looks like the “Next Page” button on the last page is a bit glitched — it isn’t appearin’, yo

    • Close your browser and try again. You’re probably just seeing a cached version from before the latest update.

      And when all else fails, you can always use the left-right arrows on your keyboard to navigate. (Until about a month ago I had a Konami Code easter egg on the site, but nobody tried it so I finally replaced it with some navigation code.)

  3. Gregory Bogosian says

    What is that gesture that Pi is making in the second panel? Is she signalling something or is she just really existed?

  4. Harry says

    Does anyone have a link to the page where detention under the 4th amendment is defined?

  5. Jeff says

    Ah, this is where we get that whole “Am I free to go” thing, huh? You’re explicitly asking whether you’re in a situation where Miranda applies? Or something like that.

    • Nah, that comes from that video of that guy at a checkpoint going out of his way to antagonize the police. Went viral about this time last year. The guy who turned a simple “sorry for the delay, have a nice evening” into a bad time — for no good reason. A variety of people lacking in both legal understanding and common sense have been imitating him ever since, with predictable results.

      For a refresher, here is the comic’s discussion (from this time last year, coincidentally) about how checkpoints work. (With an example involving dog sniffs.)

      There’s little point in asking whether you’re being detained in that situation. For Fourth Amendment purposes, you’ve been stopped. Maybe not arrested, but you’re definitely being detained however briefly. Nothing the officer says will change that fact.

      And for Fifth Amendment purposes, we’re going to see in a couple pages that it’s totally irrelevant in that situation. And even if it was pertinent, who cares what the cop’s answer is? It’s only relevant if you make an incriminating statement that a prosecutor wants to use against you a year down the road at trial — in which case it’s only useful insofar as the cop’s answer might have made an objectively reasonable person think he wasn’t free to leave so that Miranda warnings might have (emphasis on “might have”) been necessary before you made your incriminating statement.

      In which case… how about just not making that incriminating statement?

      Just sayin’.

        • No need, here you go:

          (1) Not detention — Talking to people on the street. Knocking on doors to ask if anyone saw something. Helping a lost kid.

          (2) Temporary detention — “Stop” — Traffic stop. Restraining you on the street. Only supposed to last as long as necessary to investigate the reason for the stop, but you’re not free to leave.

          (3) Full detention — “Arrest” — You’re not going anywhere until the government says you can go.


          Both stops and arrests are actual detention — you are in fact not free to leave. But Miranda custody is different, and we’ll be getting to the differences in the coming pages. All arrests are Miranda custody, but not all stops. And some non-detention situations do count as Miranda custody. It’s all coming up.

          • In all three cases though, it would be assumed that anything said is admissible (though only after Miranda in the third), correct?

            And if correct, then would the most prudent reasonable course of action be to say as little as possible in all cases? What are the ideal responses that protect one’s rights when asked questions? (Apologies if I’m jumping ahead here.)

            • Hopefully all will be made clear in the coming pages.

              For the time being, remember that you do have the right not to answer a cop’s questions — regardless of whether he read you those rights or not.

              If the police are talking about anything that could get you in trouble, opening your mouth is probably only going to make things worse.

              There are exceptions — sometimes there’s a simple misunderstanding that you can easily clear up. But too many people think they’re explaining away one problem only to discover they’ve now created a whole nother problem. Beware.

          • I think we’re gonna need one of your 21-foot-long charts on the different types of custody, stops, detention, etc.…

      • When would anyone ever feel “free to go” naturally at any point when a cop says a word to them? I know that if someone who has a gun at their hip and the authority to shoot me asks me a question, any question at all (“Hey, do you have a quarter? We’re a bit short on this soda.”), I’m going to feel like I’m being compelled.

        That’s the WHOLE POINT of why those “open carry protests” are bullshit. These aren’t random people exercising their rights, they’re random people who have guns exercising their rights.

        Note that I’m not advocating police be unarmed, but I am saying that let’s not kid ourselves: at the end of the day that person in front of you is a human with a gun and a badge that basically says “There are plenty of circumstances where I can legally shoot you.” I fail to see how you can ever have an encounter with police in which you feel free to leave before an officer says “you’re free to go.”

        • I have to ask.
          I’m a CCL holder, and a gun owner generally. I do not make a secret of this fact, especially as in this area, I belive gun owners significantly outnumber those who refrain for one reason or another.
          I don’t know if this state has Castle Doctrine or not, but let’s assume for the moment it does. Wikipedia seems to waffle on the issue.
          If you’re in my house as a guest, and I say “wait a minute, don’t leave”, in a high, bright, non-threatening voice, while you’re getting up to leave, (say, I’m stepping into the kitchen to grab something I intended to send with you,) are you HONESTLY saying you’d not feel free to leave because I could maybe claim you were an intruder and shoot you?
          Honestly, I don’t think that’d work even under the most bizarre circumstances, but it seems no more bizarre to me than thinking you’re detained because a cop asked if you had a spare quarter.

          • I don’t think he’s saying that at all, because I think the easy answer is “but you’re not a policeman.”

            I’m not quite sure what the appeal to the Castle Doctrine has to do with anything in this particular case, as in your example I’m a guest in your house, and you therefore have no authority to use any sort of force on me, absent me doing some particularly un-guestly things. Now, if we were talking about me being an unlawful intruder and much the same thing happened, I might certainly consider putting my hands in the air, lest I end up with extra holes in me.

            Put another way, I don’t think it’s just the power that comes with the gun that Superglucose is particularly addressing, but the authority that comes with the badge. I can see how that point could get lost with some of what he said, but I also think you’re comparing apples to oranges fundamentally.

            • Well it’s the combination of badge authority and gun authority… and the castle law thing IS a diversion. Obviously an officer can’t force y outo say something to them in your own home without first providing a warrant to be IN your home in the first place… at which point even if you don’t explicitely take the fifth you should know that something’s up.

              We’re talking about a public place, where if you came up to me with an obvious carry and asked me to do something I’d be significantly more inclined to do it simply because of that gun on your hip. Because whether it’s legal or not, you could shoot me… and laws are cute until I have a bullet in my chest.

          • If you were openly carrying your gun at that point? Yeah, that’d arouse my suspicions.

          • The big thing there is the gun isn’t concealed. For people who aren’t used to guns open carrying feels a lot like brandishing.

            Cops can also do many things aside from shoot you. Walk away? resisting arrest. Don’t answer? obstructing justice. Total BS? people are ignorant or uncertain.

            • Based on what Nathan has said before, there’s probably nothing really wrong with walking away, unless you’ve been told to stop. And in my case they’d better speak up; if I can’t hear you, you didn’t say it, as far as I’m concerned.

        • I would suggest you get professional help, if you’re truly so terrified of guns that you think everyone wearing one (even cops!) is one step away from shooting you…

      • But I LIKE saying incriminating things. It gets attention and impresses the ladies! Or so I like to imagine.

      • I think the point in the question at the checkpoint isn’t the 4th or 5th amendment implications. The way I’ve usually seen it asked is.

        “Am I being detained or am I free to go”. It’s the second half that’s really being asked as in “Do I actually need to participate in this charade or can I just get on with my day?”

        Even you said that while DUI checkpoints, or License checkpoints are reasonable but Immigration checkpoints, particularly on roads miles from the border and not primary routes across the border aren’t, they are an exception that people are objecting to with polite (for the most part) civil action.

        • Objecting to the current law of roadblocks is one thing. Doing so by being obnoxious to the cop assigned to a particular roadblock is another. It won’t change the law. All it does is make obstreperous know-nothings the face of opposition, making it even harder to take opposition seriously.

          Plus, it won’t make the stop go any more smoothly. At best the cop will think “christ, another one of these knuckleheads.” At worst the driver winds up being searched (because he keeps raising their suspicions, or just pisses them off), and they find something, and he’s off to jail. However it plays out, the driver himself is the only one increasing the length of his detention — bravo.

          If I was a cop at a roadblock and some driver asked “am I being detained” it would be hard for me to refrain from mocking them. Because duh! (One of many reasons why it’s for the best that I never became a cop.)

          A more professional answer would be “Yes, we’re stopping everyone in this line. But only for a minute or two, then you’ll be on your way. Unless you increase my suspicion, in which case you’ll be here for a while. How do you wish to proceed?”

          • Except you’re not just increasing the length of your stay, you’re increasing the length of the stays of the people behind you, by making these stops more annoying, you’re more likely to get popular support against them. (Did something similar with bag checks at the lunch hall in our school. You had to get your bag tagged and put in the bag room before entering the lunch room. There were about 4 questions that you had to answer every time. By a small minority of us giving ridiculously long and convoluted answers to the question the policy, which was a waste of money and time already, became a significant enough waste of peoples time that there was enough public feeling to get it lifted). I’m not saying it’ll be anywhere near effective enough, just that I understand the approach. Gently pissing people off is the best way to get them to change things, because even if it costs them time and gas money, until it pisses them off they won’t do jack.

            • Except:
              (1) you’re going to be shunted off to the side where time-wasters and troublemakers go, to ensure everyone else’s time isn’t wasted.
              (2) If the five people behind you are pissed at the delay, they’re more likely to be pissed at you the delayer than at the checkpoint that ran oh so smoothly once you were gone. In my experience, when it’s the protest that pisses people off, people get pissed off at the protesters. And
              (3) The “am I free to leave” types aren’t trying to change the law. I sincerely doubt that half or even most of the handful of people acting this way at checkpoints even know what the law is, much less are trying to change anything. From what I’ve seen, it’s more often a personal “you’re not the boss of me” than a systemic “this shouldn’t even be happening.” They’re not protesting the legality or practicality of checkpoints; they’re just acting out.

              It sounds like the people in your lunchroom were trying to emulate the questions asked when you check your luggage at the airport. But unlike airports (and checkpoints) they didn’t have a procedure for dealing with people who take longer than usual. If they’d simply interrupted the ridiculous people and had them get in a second line, or even wait until the others had gone through, the problem would have been solved.

              But your example isn’t really on point. In your lunchroom, everyone was being held up by these few pests, and it was happening every day. The whole school was affected. In the checkpoint situation, these kinds of people are rare, and even they themselves aren’t going to every checkpoint that’s set up — practically nobody will ever be in a checkpoint behind one. And moreover there are standard procedures for making sure the line isn’t held up by cars requiring more time, such as when they find one of the cars they’re looking for. Unlike your lunchroom, the number of people actually inconvenienced by the “am I free to leave” guys is vanishingly small.

  6. This prosecutor of yours seems like a bigger and bigger geek every time you see her.

    Are you sending a message through this character? About video game violence and whatnot?

    Or is this more of a self projection? Mr. Ex-prosecutor/comic book artist.

    • I dunno, I’m pretty sure Pi’s always been a geek. A bit of a dork, too, at times.

      And I wouldn’t read too much into what symbolic or allegorical message any one character is sending or whatnot. I do put a lot of thought into designing each character, but my focus is only to make them all distinct individuals with easily distinguishable character traits that both help me tell the story and help get the points across.

  7. KW says

    Change of topic… weird thought (happens to me on occasion)… does it have to be a police officer who reads Miranda? Is the detainee required to respond? Would the modern equivalent of a tape recording do the trick? On a loop? From speakers hanging around neck of every officer? Or attached to every street light, traffic light, etc.?

    Reductio ad absurdum.

  8. WJS says

    The 4th and 5th use different standards? I bet that can get confusing.

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