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Southfield, Mich. — June 20, 2016 — Neil Rockind, founder of Southfield-based criminal defense law firm, Rockind Law, says the Supreme Court’s decision today in Utah v Strieff isn’t just a slippery slope, it’s a fast track to open the doors for police and government agencies to conduct a search and seizure using pretext and un-related warrants.
The decision before the Supreme Court was whether the Utah Supreme Court was correct in its ruling that evidence seized from the respondent, Edward Strieff, through an outstanding traffic warrant was inadmissible, given that Strieff was illegally stopped by the police. During the traffic stop (that was without cause), the police discovered that Strieff had a warrant. The case ultimately went to the Utah Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of Strieff, noting the evidence was obtained unconstitutionally under the Fourth Amendment because the stop was illegal. Today the Supreme Court overruled the Utah Supreme Court’s finding.
“This ruling puts the U.S. on the fast track for more – and more egregious – illegal search and seizure activity, using pretext and warrants immaterial to the matter at hand,” Rockind said. “It’s also troubling that the majority decision cited the constitutionality in part on the basis that the police officer in the case showed no flagrant misconduct in the course of the search and seizure. Police behavior, good or bad, does not negate or affirm constitutionality.”
Rockind said the dissenting opinions in the case are frighteningly on point. For example, in her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, “…This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants—even if you are doing nothing wrong…If the officer discovers a warrant for a fine you forgot to pay, courts will now excuse his illegal stop and will admit into evidence anything he happens to find by searching you after arresting you on the warrant. Because the Fourth Amendment should prohibit, not permit, such misconduct, I dissent.”
“Justice Sotomayor, writing in her dissent, has captured the essence of what is wrong with the Supreme Court ruling,” Rockind said. “Given the opportunity to be vigilant in protecting a constitutional right, the Supreme Court chose to severely weaken it instead.”
The entire Supreme Court decision can be read here.
About Rockind Law
Rockind Law is a Southfield, Michigan-based criminal defense law firm aggressively pursuing justice for individuals facing criminal charges, including white collar crime, drunk driving, narcotics and assault. To find out more about the firm’s services and resources, visit http://www.rockindlaw.com/.