There have been many times in my career where I find myself in a debate with someone on the reasons behind the 4th amendments protections in our Constitution. Usually the person I am debating is someone I call a “crime hawk”. Crime Hawks are people who never see an innocent person. Rather than presuming the person innocent, Crime Hawks assume guilt of anyone who was arrested. Crime Hawks see the 4th amendment protections as “legal technicalities”. They come from all races, creeds, colors and economic backgrounds. These people are hard to sniff out when picking a jury. Crime hawks are lazy in a sense because they operate only off assumptions of guilt. These are the citizens who believe that any person who was arrested “must have done something”. It is hard to get a Crime Hawk to look objectively at evidence and obey the reasonable doubt standard during a criminal trial. These are the citizens who are the greatest threat to the 4th amendment because “they could not imagine a police officer doing anything wrong.”
Over the past four decades our nation has been at war with crime and in every war, there is collateral damage. In this war, the collateral damage has been to the 4th amendment and the men and women who were wrongfully arrested, privacy and property were destroyed and who were publicly abused in societies quest for a false sense of security. Our Founding Fathers distrusted the power of the government and put in place a test of reasonableness towards many uses of governmental power. The 4th amendment prevents the government or an agent of the government from seizing or searching a citizen’s person or property without a valid reason or justification. A police officer cannot use unreasonable force in making an arrest of a citizen regardless of the crime. The amount of force utilized must be no more than that which was necessary to gain control of the person. A police officer cannot walk into your home and demand to search your bedroom or closet without a legally obtained warrant. A police officer cannot “terminate your freedom of movement” without justification. If they do you may sue that officer or officers and be compensated for the violation of your 4th amendment rights.
When litigating claims of violations of your 4th amendment rights, you must choose an attorney that is passionate in doing “that kind of work.” I joined the National Lawyers Guild because of the organizations history of standing up to police, prosecutors, judges, correctional officers and probation officers who violated the 4th amendment rights of citizens. As a member of the National Lawyers Guild’s Police Accountability Project, I have dedicated my career to resuscitating the 4th amendment and its protections for all citizens regardless of race, creed or economic background.
The first line of defense is having every citizen know and understand what rights they have in the 4th amendment and when to assert those rights. Unfortunately, too many get their understanding of the legal system and police from television shows such as “Law and Order”. I invite you to read my blog posting and email me questions and concerns. Get your information from credible sources.