Police Need Not Say Why Arrest Made: U.S. High Court Overview
Dec. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Police officers don't have to give a reason at the time
they arrest someone, the U.S. Supreme Court said in a ruling that shields
officers from false-arrest lawsuits.
The justices, voting 8-0, threw out a suit against Washington state police
officers who stopped a motorist and then told him he was being arrested for
tape-recording their conversation. Although the recording was legal, the high
court said the arrest was valid because the man could have been arrested
instead for impersonating a police officer.
In an opinion for the court, Justice Antonin Scalia said the officers didn't
have to provide a reason for arresting the man at all, as long as they had
probable cause to do so.
``While it is assuredly good police practice to inform a person of the reason
for his arrest at the time he is taken into custody, we have never held that to
be constitutionally required,'' Scalia wrote.
The decision was one of five issued by the court today in Washington. In a
second unanimous ruling, the court said the Florida Supreme Court was wrong to
set aside a death penalty verdict on the grounds that the defense lawyer didn't
obtain explicit client authorization to concede guilt and focus on the penalty
phase of the trial.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the high court, said that factor
didn't automatically render the lawyer's performance deficient and warrant a
new trial in the murder case.
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who announced Oct. 25 that he is being
treated for thyroid cancer, didn't take part in either unanimous ruling.
Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said Rehnquist, 80, will abstain from some of
the cases argued during the two-week period that started Nov. 1. The chief
justice, however, will take part in all cases argued during the subsequent
two-week December argument session that began Nov. 29, she said.
``The chief justice has decided he will not participate in November cases
unless the conference vote without him is 4-4,'' Arberg said. ``He is going to
participate in the December cases.''
The news, coupled with the announcement last week that Rehnquist plans to
administer the oath of office to President George W. Bush at the Jan. 20
inauguration, suggests the chief justice isn't planning to retire any time
soon. Medical experts say Rehnquist, who has undergone a tracheotomy,
chemotherapy and radiation, may have an especially aggressive form of thyroid
In other cases, the court:
-- Limited the power of companies to sue other businesses and the federal
government for the cost of cleaning up hazardous wastes. The justices ruled 7-2
that a disputed section of the Superfund law doesn't authorize companies to sue
for cleanup costs unless they are facing a federal enforcement action. The
decision left open the possibility that type of suit could be filed under a
different section of the law.
-- Shielded a police officer in Washington state from an excessive-force
lawsuit filed by a suspect who was shot in the back by the officer while trying
to flee in a vehicle.
In the false-arrest ruling, the justices reversed a decision by the San
Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeals court had said
an arrest on an invalid charge can't be upheld unless police could have filed a
different charge over a ``closely related offense.''
Scalia said the 9th Circuit reasoning would have ``perverse consequences,''
giving officers an incentive not to give any reason for an arrest.
The troopers pulled Jerome Anthony Alford over in 1997 after seeing him stop
behind a disabled vehicle on a highway. The occupants of the disabled car told
police they thought Alford was a police officer because his car had headlights
that alternated flashing on and off.
The troopers said that, when they stopped Alford, they saw that he had a police
scanner and handcuffs. A supervisor arrived and noticed that Alford had a
tape-recorder that was recording his conversation with the officers.
The officers arrested Alford on a charge of violating Washington's Privacy Act,
which makes it unlawful to record a private conversation without all parties'
consent. Alford told the officers he had a copy of a court ruling that said the
state privacy law didn't protect police officers on the job.
The charge later was dismissed, and Alford sued the two officers, claiming
false arrest and a civil rights violation.
The case is Devenpeck v. Alford, 03-710.
To contact the reporter on this story:
Greg Stohr in Washington at gst...@bloomberg.net.
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Glenn Hall at gh...@bloomberg.net.
Last Updated: December 13, 2004 14:04 EST
Elections aren't the way the people control the Government.
Elections are the way the Government controls the people.
Democracy? Can't we do better than that?!
49ERS: BOSS OF THE BAY
Next 49er/Raiders match up: 2006
Boss of the Cardinals
We live in a:
A Nation of Sheep
Owned By Pigs
Ruled By Wolves
You are sheep, the owner pigs have their pig enforcers to batter regular
people. You are a mental slave.
Here, read the lyrics to this song Sheep about enforcer pigs:
Fuck tha police
Comin straight from the underground
Young nigga got it bad cuz I'm brown
And not the other color so police think
They have the authority to kill a minority
Fuck that shit, cuz I ain't tha one
For a punk muthafucka with a badge and a gun
To be beatin on, and throwin in jail
We could go toe to toe in the middle of a cell
Fuckin with me cuz I'm a teenager
With a little bit of gold and a pager
Searchin my car, lookin for the product
Thinkin every nigga is sellin narcotics
You'd rather see me in the pen
Then me and Lorenzo rollin in the Benzo
Beat tha police outta shape
And when I'm finished, bring the yellow tape
To tape off the scene of the slaughter
Still can't swallow bread and water
Ice Cube will swarm
On any muthafucka in a blue uniform
Just cuz I'm from the CPT, punk police are afraid of me
A young nigga on a warpath
And when I'm finished, it's gonna be a bloodbath
Of cops, dyin in LA
Yo Dre, I got somethin to say
Fuck the police (4X)
<>M. C. Ren, will you please give your testimony to the jury about this fucked
Fuck tha police and Ren said it with authority
because the niggaz on the street is a majority.
A gang, is with whoever I'm stepping
and the motherfuckin' weapon
is kept in a stash box, for the so-called law
wishin' Ren was a nigga that they never saw
Lights start flashin behind me
But they're scared of a nigga so they mace me to blind me
But that shit don't work, I just laugh
Because it gives em a hint not to step in my path
To the police I'm sayin fuck you punk
Readin my rights and shit, it's all junk
Pullin out a silly club, so you stand
With a fake assed badge and a gun in your hand
But take off the gun so you can see what's up
And we'll go at it punk, I'ma fuck you up
Make ya think I'm a kick your ass
But drop your gat, and Ren's gonna blast
I'm sneaky as fuck when it comes to crime
But I'm a smoke em now, and not next time
Smoke any muthafucka that sweats me
Or any assho that threatens me
I'm a sniper with a hell of a scope
Takin out a cop or two, they can't cope with me
The muthafuckin villian that's mad
With potential to get bad as fuck
So I'm a turn it around
Put in my clip, yo, and this is the sound
Ya, somethin like that, but it all depends on the size of the gat
Takin out a police would make my day
But a nigga like Ren don't give a fuck to say
Fuck the police (4X)
I'm tired of the muthafuckin jackin
Sweatin my gang while I'm chillin in the shackin
Shining tha light in my face, and for what
Maybe it's because I kick so much butt
I kick ass, or maybe cuz I blast
On a stupid assed nigga when I'm playin with the trigga
Of any Uzi or an AK
Cuz the police always got somethin stupid to say
They put up my picture with silence
Cuz my identity by itself causes violence
The E with the criminal behavior
Yeah, I'm a gansta, but still I got flavor
Without a gun and a badge, what do ya got?
A sucka in a uniform waitin to get shot,
By me, or another nigga.
and with a gat it don't matter if he's smarter or bigger
[MC Ren: Sidle him, kid, he's from the old school, fool]
And as you all know, E's here to rule
Whenever I'm rollin, keep lookin in the mirror
And there's no cue, yo, so I can hear a
Dumb muthafucka with a gun
And if I'm rollin off the 8, he'll be tha one
That I take out, and then get away
And while I'm drivin off laughin
This is what I'll say
Fuck the police (4X)
Fuck the police (3X)
Lyrics by NWA