Category Archives: whaaaa?

Stop! In the name of the law!

I am J. Clarence Gideon. That’s Special Agent Gideon to you. Because you’re so stupid, according to the FBI, that you can’t tell that what I’m displaying is a blog post and not a damn FBI badge. It’s not like psychic paper, you know. All your base are belong to us.

Not fooled? Confused? See here for the story and then go to your blog and show some solidarity.

Happy Independunce Day

From the “you have the right to be stupid” clause of the Constitution:

A Fairfield man was arrested Thursday morning after buying a high powered rifle to stop an alien invasion, police said.

Fairfield Police Sgt. James Perez said Dane Eisenman, 57, responded to a classified advertisement for a .30-06 rifle about a month ago. While filing out the paper for the rifle, police said, he mentioned to the seller what he would be using the weapon for.

“He said he was going to use the weapon to kill aliens,” Perez said.

Like the seller of the gun, I, too, was unsure upon reading the headline whether Eisenman was referring to little green men from Mars or real humans from another country, trying to illegally enter these United States. The answer is neither:

Sgt. Perez said Eisenman told the seller of the rifle every 36,000 years, aliens who live under the sun come to Earth to kill humans, and he needed to be prepared because “They’re going to be coming soon.”

Ah. The feared race of Suntarans.

What I want to know is, why did the seller sell this guy the gun and then call the cops?

Every day is Caturday

Cats are popular. They’re even more popular on the internet, which was, as we all know, invented just for cats. Every day is Caturday [here's the ED version of Caturday, which means it's totally NSFW. I mean it, really. Not. Safe. For. Work].

Sometimes, though, the internet bleeds into real life (shocking, I know). And such has been the case the past week, with three stories – two local – involving cats and crime.

First, this tragi-comic tale of Gregory Lesco, who killed the family cat after it ate his pet bird (no, I”m not making that up):

Police say Lesco told them he was doing dishes when the bird flew from his cage to join him and the cat, named Pepper, jumped up and grabbed it. He said he hit the cat in the head with a baseball bat and then suffocated it with a rug.

He says he struck the cat to try to get it to drop the bird, and then suffocated it because he couldn’t afford to take it to a vet to treat its injuries.

Mr. Lesco, not to be confused with the equally bizarre Matthew Lesko, is charged with one count of Animal Cruelty, which happens to be a class D felony, punishable by 5 years in jail.

Then yesterday, I saw this post by Rick Horowitz about a Michigan law that makes it a crime for cats to fight. Since there’s no room in cat jails, they stick the owners in human jails instead:

The City of Kalamazoo, Michigan, apparently has some fairly weird laws on the books regarding animals.  For example, it is apparently a misdemeanor — not an infraction, but a misdemeanor with a real criminal record and a real jail sentence as a potential punishment — not that a simple thing like a criminal record could ever impact anyone’s ability to get a job or a professional license — a misdemeanor to own a cat that fights with other cats.  In addition to making it apparently illegal to have a cat that fights with other cats, Kalamazoo also charges owning a dog that barks as a misdemeanor.

I don’t know if that last bit is true, but the charges will be dropped if the cat behaves herself. The cat’s plan is working. Next step: world domination.

And finally, this morning, we get news of a honest-to-goodness cat burglar. No, I mean that literally. A woman who burgles cats (and there’s another awesome cat picture after the jump so don’t you dare not click through):

All drivers are dangerous and the police are the Borg

Consider the facts:

On April 1, 2006, Officers Craig Miller, David Rivera and Charles Gargano of the New Haven police department were patrolling the Fair Haven  neighborhood as part of their duties with that city’s drug interdiction unit. The neighborhood was known for frequent drug trafficking activity. The  officers  were in an unmarked patrol car, operated by Rivera. At approximately 5:15 p.m., the officers observed a Chevrolet Impala turn right from Ferry Street onto Grand Street without signaling. The officers followed the Impala around the block, during which time they also observed that the  defendant, who was operating the car, was not wearing a seat belt. Pursuant to police department policy, the officers called dispatch to request a  marked cruiser in order to effectuate a motor vehicle violation stop.

Three marked patrol cars responded to the dispatch call, and stopped the Impala at the corner of Ferry Street and Grand Street. The unmarked  patrol car stopped approximately one half of a car length behind the Impala. While still in their unmarked patrol car, Rivera, Miller and Gargano  observed the defendant make a movement toward his right side, which led them to believe that the defendant might be concealing a weapon. The  three officers then approached the Impala. As they were approaching, Miller observed the defendant close the center console in the front seat.

Rivera removed the defendant from the vehicle, handcuffed him, and frisked him for weapons. While frisking the defendant for weapons, Rivera  discovered $1369 in cash and several cell phones on his person. At the same time, Miller and Gargano, as well as several officers from the other  patrol cars, removed the two passengers from the vehicle, handcuffed them, and frisked them for weapons. Miller then returned to the car and  observed some plastic protruding from the center console. He opened the console and removed plastic bags that he believed to contain crack  cocaine. The officers also determined that the Impala was owned by a rental car company. Subsequent testing revealed that the bags discovered in  the console contained approximately 21.5 grams of freebase cocaine, commonly referred to as crack cocaine.

So, let’s recap, in normalspeak: officers were in a “minority high crime neighborhood”, looking for an excuse to pull someone over. They saw the defendant commit a motor vehicle violation. They pulled the car over and saw the defendant “make a movement toward his right side” (whatever the hell that means) and decide not only that he was armed, but because he was in a “MHCN”, he was dangerous and probably selling drugs. They handcuffed everybody and searched them and the car with impunity. We now contort ourselves to affirm this stream of clearly illegal activity by the police.

The defendant filed a motion to suppress relying on Arizona v. Gant, which holds that once you have arrested the occupants of the vehicle, there is no more legitimate “officer safety concern”, so a warrant must be obtained.

The Court rejects (emphatically!) the defendants contention that Gant applies since the defendant wasn’t technically arrested until after the drugs were discovered and instead agrees with the State that the “protective search” rubric of Michigan v. Long must control. In Long, the Supreme Court said that the:

purpose of protective searches to be the concern that if the suspect is not placed under arrest, he will be permitted to . . . [go free], and he will then  have access to any weapons

and thus, when analyzing a warrantless search under Long:

our focus is on whether the officers had a reasonable and articulable suspicion to believe that the defendant posed a danger and might access the  vehicle to gain control of a weapon.

Well, clearly, since the defendant wasn’t actually arrested and merely in a state of “custodial arrest (maybe)”, the question then becomes whether the officers had a reasonable and articulable suspicion that he posed a danger and that there was a weapon in the vehicle.

Remember now, that this was in a “minority high crime neighborhood” and that all three officers saw a “movement to his right side” and one saw him “close the center console”. That same officer then innocently “returned to the car” and saw “some plastic protruding” from that very same center console.

But that’s not enough, is it? Surely even the CT Supreme Court would not hold that that is sufficient to conduct a warrantless search of a motor vehicle? Of course not. Which is why we have the “collective knowledge of law enforcement” exception to the Fourth Amendment.

In conducting this analysis, we are cognizant of ‘‘the well settled principle that, in testing the amount of evidence that supports probable cause, it  is not the personal knowledge of the arresting officer, but the collective knowledge of the law enforcement organization at the time of the  arrest that must be considered. See Poulos v. Pfizer, Inc., 244 Conn. 598, 619 (1998) (McDonald, J., concurring) (Fourth  amendment law recognizes that the collective knowledge of the police determines probable cause. See Whiteley v. Warden, 401 U.S. 560, 568 [1971]; see 2 W. LaFave, Search and Seizure [3d Ed. 1996] § 3.5 [b], p. 259 n.46.); State v. Acquin, 187 Conn.  647, 657 (1982) (when we test the quantum of [evidence supporting] probable cause, it is not the personal knowledge of the  arresting officer but the collective knowledge of the law enforcement organization at the time of the arrest which must be considered)’’

Justice Who?

Miller and Rivera saw the defendant “make a movement to his right side”, Miller saw the defendant close the center console, Rivera frisked the defendant and pulled out a gun-like cell phone and cash, and Miller saw the plastic in the console. Of course, they all knew that it was a minority high crime area. And there was testimony that Miller and Rivera shared their observations and findings with one another. Wait, there wasn’t? Oh nevermind. Their knowledge is imputed onto one another.

In fact, applying Whiteley, why stop there? What if Rivera wasn’t on the scene and hadn’t discovered the call signs of drug activity: cell phones and cash? Wherever he was, he must’ve known that those items indicate drug activity. And Officer Krupke, on his beat at the other end of town surely knows that anyone who has cell phones and cash is an armed and dangerous drug dealer! So, of course, the officer at the scene had articulable and reasonable suspicion to search the vehicle. And look, they don’t even have to arrest anyone! Wheee!!!

Because anyone in the police department anywhere is cognizant of the fact that if you’re driving in a minority high crime neighborhood without a seatbelt and you make a movement to your right side and close the center console and happen to have cash and a cell phone, you must be an armed and dangerous drug kingpin. It’s in their – and your – DNA.

Welcome to the 24th Century, where the police are the Borg. The Fourth Amendment will be assimilated. Resistance is futile. Don’t drive.

[A plea: if anyone figures out what "movement to his right side" means, please leave a comment. I have no fucking clue. Kthxbai.]

Right of passage

I’m channeling my buddy Ryan McKeen here, but, the other day on the local listserve someone mentioned that a client had been given a ticket for “passing on the right“. It’s one of those things that we all do (you can admit it here, we’re all friends), like “following too closely” and don’t ever expect to get ticketed.

But since there are over a thousand crimes on the books, passing on the right being one of them* should come as no surprise. Being the intrepid blogger, it is my duty to inform you of the following:

The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass upon the right of another vehicle only when conditions permit such movement in safety and under the following conditions: (1) When the vehicle overtaken is making or has signified the intention to make a left turn; (2) when lines of vehicles traveling in the same direction in adjoining traffic lanes have come to a stop or have reduced their speed; (3) upon a one-way street free from obstructions and of sufficient width for two or more lines of moving vehicles; (4) upon a limited access highway or parkway free from obstructions with three or more lanes provided for traffic in one direction. Such movement shall not be made by driving off the pavement or main-traveled portion of the highway except where lane designations, signs, signals or markings provide for such movement. Violation of any provision of this section shall be an infraction.

So, to break this down, you can pass on the right pretty frequently and in most driving conditions. For example, subsection (2) is horribly ambiguous. What does “lines of vehicles” mean? For that matter what does “reduced their speed” mean? If I’m in the left lane of a two-lane highway and the cars ahead of me start to slow down, from say 70 to 50, can I switch to the right lane to overtake? I assume the use of the plural “vehicles” eliminates an argument that the stupid car ahead of me was going 70 in a 65 zone and I’m late to work dammit so get out of the f*cking way you damn red Nissa-oh, hi there.

Subsection (4) is great to know. Most highways in CT have 3 lanes in some stretches; some like interstate 91 have 3 lanes for most of their journey. I shall pass on the right with impunity henceforth.

You can thank me later.

[Apparently, this is quite the hot-button issue that perplexes many. Check out the Google result for the search.]

*yes, I know that an infraction isn’t a “crime”, but stop getting in the way of my flow.

The stupidity epidemic: it’s catching

Well, folks, now you’ve gone and done it. The stupid has taken over the world. In addition to the “honey I found a shotgun in the yard” crime in Britain, Virginia has now gone and convicted the coffee guy who was walking around his house naked and was spied by some peeping toms.

Add to that this by now well worn video of the DC cop who pulled a gun on snowballers and it might be time to scratch this whole homo sapiens project and start over:

I am now going into isolation to avoid catching the stupid. See you never.