Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Search and Seizure’

11th June 2011

Something very troubling recently came to this blogger’s attention. This posting must be prefaced with a statement for posterity: the vast majority of American civil servants are upright, honest, and conscientious employees of the American State and Federal governments who try their best to assist and provide valuable services to the American public. Their hard work should not be overlooked especially in this current era of virtually instantaneous communication.

One of America’s strengths stems from her flexibility and versatility in a political, foreign relations, and geopolitical context. In a domestic context this international flexibility is hard won as it generally stems from fierce national political and legal debate. The following is quoted directly from the website MyFoxDetroit.com:

ROMULUS, Mich. (WJBK) – The Mandy family says they were on their way to the happiest place on earth (Disney), but had to go through hell to get there. “I realize they’re trying to keep people safe, but come on, does he look like a terrorist?” said Dr. David Mandy. The family was going through security when two TSA agents singled Drew Mandy out for a special pat down. Drew is severely mentally disabled. He’s 29, but his parents said he has the mental capacity of a two-year-old, which made the experience that followed at metro Detroit’s McNamera Terminal that much harder to deal with. “You have got to be kidding me. I honestly felt that those two agents did not know what they were doing,” Mandy told us. Dr. Mandy claimed they asked Drew to place his feet on the yellow shoe line, something he didn’t understand. They proceeded to pat his pants down, questioning the padding which was his adult diapers. When the agents asked Drew to take his hand and rub the front and back of his pants so they could swab it for explosives, his dad stepped in and tried to explain that Drew was mentally challenged. “They said, ‘Please, sir, we know what we’re doing,’” Mandy said. The TSA agents saw Drew holding a six-inch plastic hammer. “My son carries his ball and his hammer for security. He goes everywhere with (them),” said Mandy. The TSA it seems saw the toy as a weapon. “He took the hammer and he tapped the wall. ‘See, it’s hard. It could be used as a weapon,’” Mandy explained. “So, Drew’s also holding the ball, and I said, ‘Well, how about the ball?’ He (said), ‘Oh, he can keep that.” Dr. Mandy was told he would need to have the toy shipped if he wanted to keep it, a process which caused them to almost miss their plane, so he pitched it. “It just killed me to have to throw it away because he’s been carrying this like for 20 years,” Mandy said…

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks above to read more and also view the video of the interview with this man’s father.

The so-called “Transportation Security Administration” (TSA) is, quite simply: a travesty. This story is absolutely heartbreaking.

Continuing, there is a poignant film from Hallmark Hall of Fame entitled: The Boys Next Door. This film is mentioned because the narrative of the film chronicles the lives of a group of mentally challenged men who are simply trying to live their lives like any other Americans inherently endowed with the privileges and/or immunities of American Citizenship. Their fictional trials, tribulations, and treatment at the hands of greater society provides illumination about what freedom means for people of all backgrounds in the United States and across the globe. There is a very salient moment to be taken from this film in the context of these current events. Perhaps it may be best to quote directly from a critical article written by Hal Boedeker, Sentinel Television Critic, on February 4th 1996 and posted on the website of the Orlando Sentinel, OrlandoSentinel.com:

The movie also spells out its good intentions. Jack imagines feeble-minded Lucien telling a state senate panel: ”Civilizations are judged by the way they treat their most helpless of citizens. And if you turn away from me, you extinguish your own light, deny your own warmth.”

The administration of this weblog encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this article in full and gain further insight. Furthermore, viewing this film may be insightful as well, under the circumstances. For a relevant video clip please click HERE.

The reader needs to recognize that Mr. Mandy, like all Americans, is endowed by his creator with certain inalienable rights and one of those inalienable rights is the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures pursuant to the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution. How is it reasonable, America, to believe that a man in Mr. Mandy’s position should have his 4th Amendment rights stripped without just cause? Was there probable cause to have these rights stripped? Were there exigent circumstances? What security interest was upheld by trampling upon this man’s liberty? More importantly, how can Mr. Mandy’s public servants have the audacity to treat him with such disrespect when, in reality, it is their job to serve and protect HIM!!!! For if not him, then whom? Furthermore, is not Mr. Mandy accorded an unfettered right to travel pursuant to both his State and United States Citizenship? Finally, would it be unreasonable to posit that Mr. Mandy may be entitled to some just compensation for having a treasured item, which apparently had been literally held for twenty years, taken and thrown out pursuant to a questionably lawful search?

This story was acutely difficult to read because the victim of this injustice is the same age as this blogger. There is an old saying: “There but for the grace of God, go I.” Simply put: were factual circumstances different, this could just as easily have been this blogger or any reader in this audience. That stated, I would hope that if I were mentally disabled my civil servants would comport themselves in such a way that facilitated my travel and aided me in my distress (as one can only infer that this incident caused this man considerable distress and consternation since having one’s “pant’s patted down” AKA: being groped, is upsetting for anyone, especially Americans who are used to their government, usually in the form of bonded peace officers; respecting their privacy and right to be free from unwanted searches, seizures, and molestation by American governmental agents).

Whatever excuses or apologies that TSA wishes to extend regarding this incident are irrelevant for they have committed an irrevocable violation of this man’s Constitutional and Human rights, but this issue goes deeper as these are the servants of We The People and therefore it is upon us as Americans to recognize this problem in order to make attempts at redressing it via either election, legislation, or even; perhaps, a possible legal decision.

At the level of the sovereign American States, it would appear as though further efforts are being undertaken to curtail the questionably legal activities of the TSA.To quote directly from the official website of the Examiner, Examiner.com:

The federal Transportation and Security Administration may have thought it had the last word in its battle with the state of Texas over a controversial bill that would make airport pat-downs a criminal offense. The fight, however, is anything but over as the state Senate prepares take up the bill for the second time. The bill, HB 1937, would make it a misdemeanor for TSA personnel to touch “the anus, sexual organ, buttocks, or breast of another person including through the clothing.” The penalties for violating the law would be a $4,000 fine and up to a year in jail…

Readers are asked to click upon the hyperlinks above to find out further details. Frequent readers of this blog may recall that Texas was recently the scene of some tension regarding these issues as the Texas Senate became the recipient of what would appear to have been significant federal pressure operating against similar legislation which was previously submitted. It also appears as if the sovereign State of Texas is not the only State which may be looking at such legislation, to quote directly from the website of STGNews, Stgnews.com:

SALT LAKE CITY – Representative Carl Wimmer (R-Herriman) opened a bill file today that, according to his website post,  “will prohibit TSA pat downs in Utah without reasonable suspicion. Texas needs us to stand with them.” Taking a hint from what Texas has sought to enroll in her laws, this suggests that Transportation Security Administration agents, on site at Utah airports, may become subject to the same criteria that other law enforcement officials must meet before performing a search upon a person…

The administration of this web log highly recommends that readers click upon the above cited hyperlinks to read this story in detail.

As it appears that the sovereign State of Utah is now joining the chorus of those calling for legislation regarding the curtailment of TSA abuses. It remains to be seen whether any such legislation will actually see passage. It seems likely that this is not the last we have heard on this issue.

– Benjamin Walter Hart

more Comments: 04

24th April 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that a screener for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been arrested in connection to charges stemming from child pornography. To quote directly from Philly.com:

A passenger screener at Philadelphia International Airport is facing charges that he distributed more than 100 images of child pornography via Facebook, records show.

Federal agents also allege that Transportation Safety Administration Officer Thomas Gordon Jr. of Philadelphia, who routinely searched airline passengers, uploaded explicit pictures of young girls to an Internet site on which he also posted a photograph of himself in his TSA uniform.

The administration of this web log highly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks above to read further from this story in order to gain perspective.

This arrest comes amidst calls from State and Federal legislators to reign in the activities of Transportation Security Administration personnel as such activities are coming to be increasingly viewed by many as arbitrary, capricious, and quite possibly in violation of Constitutional protections designed to protect the inalienable rights of United States Citizens. To quote directly from myfoxdfw.com

DALLAS – Full body pat-downs at airports are under heavy scrutiny in Austin. Representative David Simpson of Longview is sponsoring a bill that would make it illegal for Transpiration Security Administration agents to enforce full body searches without justification. The agent conducting the enhanced pat-down could face a felony charge and jail time. “We’ve got a draw a line somewhere,” Simpson said. “We’ve got young children, autistic children, seperated from their mother saying, ‘Stranger danger! Stranger danger!’ Man, oh boy. We’re teaching our children it’s indecent. It’s wrong to let these people in these areas except for a doctor.”

The administration of this blog asks readers to click upon the links above to view this story in further detail.

Texas is not the only sovereign American State to question the methodology of the Transportation Security Administration as this blog previously reported that some New Hampshire State legislators are attempting to take measures to curtail the TSA’s activities. An update on that story can be found by quoting directly from the website WHDH.com:

MANCHESTER, N.H. — A new proposal in New Hampshire would make some controversial TSA security exams a crime. The bill, which is clearly aimed at the Transportation Security Administration, would make an invasive pat down at the airport felony sexual assault unless the screener has probable cause to do the search. “We’re telling the TSA, if they violate our laws and they sexually assault our citizens, we’re going to do something about it,” said Rep. George Lambert, legislation co-sponsor.

In the recent past it appeared as though only State legislators were scrutinizing this issue intensely, but it recently came to this blogger’s attention that State legislators have been joined by a Federal legislator in calling for a rollback of what are perceived to be invasive and questionably Constitutional tactics currently employed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). To quote directly from Townhall.com:

In the latest battle of David vs. Goliath, Rep. Jason Chaffetz is taking on the TSA again, this time against the backdrop of a revolting video showing a TSA pat-down of a 6-year-old girl. Chaffetz has introduced a bill that would call for parental consent before minors are subjected to pat-downs at airport security. A parent would also be allowed to be present for the pat-downs. According to Utah’s Daily Herald, Chaffetz’s 15 year old daughter was forced to undergo a private pat-down without parents present. The bill, just introduced, does not specify what would happen if a parent refuses consent for a pat-down of a minor. Chaffetz has challenged the TSA several times on invasive and unproven security procedures like the full body scan machines and the detailed pat-downs, but TSA continues to be inconsistent in their policy implementations. Back in November, the agency said that there would be modified pat-downs for children under 12, since there was no intelligence — even internationally — that children that age were being used in terrorist attacks. However, the video circulating the internet shows no body areas of the 6-year-old girl were off limits in the frisking.

Those reading this blog are encouraged to click on the hyperlinks above to view this story in detail.

Readers interested in seeing the video of the groping of the 6 year old child alluded to above are encouraged to click HERE.

In light of all of the events and issues noted above this blogger would ask the reader to take the time to read the following:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

How are “random” searches reasonable? Under the specific facts seen in the video above, how is it reasonable to assume that it is okay to grope a six year old child without probable cause? Where is the rule of law? Meanwhile, are any of these searches occurring pursuant to a warrant based upon probable cause and supported by an oath or affirmation? If not, then under what authority are these searches occurring?

In response to the incident involving the child the TSA web log noted:

A video taken of one of our officers patting down a six year-old has attracted quite a bit of attention. Some folks are asking if the proper procedures were followed. Yes. TSA has reviewed the incident and the security officer in the video followed the current standard operating procedures.

This blogger cares very little for the justifications being posed by the TSA on this point as they are simply naked assertions which are not based upon anything other than the TSA’s unilateral opinion. Under the United States legal system the “current standard operating procedures” are always to be in compliance with the 4th Amendment, especially if a search concerns an American Citizen. If they are not in compliance with the 4th Amendment and the US Constitution, then such procedures are, in this blogger’s opinion: unlawful. Hopefully TSA will rectify their behavior as it seems likely that further tensions could arise as State and Federal legislatures along with local authorities take it upon themselves to protect the civil liberties of their Citizenry and constituents. It is hoped that these issues will be resolved to the benefit of all concerned, but clearly issues surrounding American Citizens’ right to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure must be dealt with in order to uphold the American Peoples’ Constitutional protections.

For related information please see: Necessary and Proper Clause.

more Comments: 04

30th August 2009

The United States Department of Homeland Security recently announced rule changes that will effect those traveling to the United States of America. Under the new rules, clearer lines have been drawn with regard to searches of media devices belonging to those entering the USA. To quote an official press release from the US Department of Homeland Security:

“The new directives address the circumstances under which U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can conduct border searches of electronic media—consistent with the Department’s Constitutional authority to search other sensitive non-electronic materials, such as briefcases, backpacks and notebooks, at U.S. borders.”

These new rules will have an important impact upon those Americans residing in Thailand who return to the United States of America on a regular basis. These rule changes are even more important for the fiance or spouse of a US citizen traveling to the United States on a K1 or K3 visa. In many cases, the Thai fiancee or spouse has a less than perfect grasp of the English language and therefore cannot adequately communicate with the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Officers. Therefore, it may be wise for the American citizen loved one to research the situation in order to explain to the Thai entrant the possible issues that may arise at the port of entry into the United States.

One interesting aspect of this rule change deals with the right of the person being searched to be present while the search takes place:

Searches of electronic devices should be conducted in the presence of the individual whose information is being examined unless there are national security, law enforcement, or other operational considerations that make it inappropriate to permit the individual to remain present. Permitting an individual to be present in the room during a search does not necessarily mean that the individual will be permitted to witness the search itself. If permitting an individual to witness the search itself could reveal law enforcement techniques or potentially compromise other operational considerations, the individual will not be permitted to observe the search itself.

It is important to note that the United States government has a great deal of unfettered search authority because they consider someone who has not actually been admitted into the US to be outside of the jurisdictions of the US constitution. Therefore, since the constitution does not apply, then normal rules restricting unlawful search and seizure do not apply. This can have a major impact upon an alien seeking entry to the USA, because they will not be accorded the same legal protections as they would after having been admitted.

more Comments: 04

The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisement. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. The information presented on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.