Guilty By Association - Another Loss of Civil Liberties

Dear Everyone;

There they go again. The Supremes have made another decision which
will give the police additional unwarranted liberties to arrest
innocent victims. The rational of guilty by association behind this
new decision is extremely suspect and a case in point involves the

A car was sold at a DEA auction to an elderly Hispanic man. Unknown
to the man and the DEA a large stash of marijuana had been hidden in
the car. A police dog sniffed it out at a border stop. The man and
his family were arrested as drug dealers.

Eventually it was proven the drug stash had been totally missed by
the DEA and the DEA was at fault. Too bad about the guy and his
family being listed as drug dealers and their legal fees.

See the story below about the new guilty by association decision and
the Adobe Acrobat PDF of the court decision.

Ron Getty
SF Libertarian

Court Allows Arrests of All in Drug Stops

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court issued a traffic warning Monday:
Beware of whom you ride with. If drugs are found in a vehicle, all
occupants can be arrested, the justices said in a unanimous decision.

It was a victory for Maryland and 20 other states that argued police
frequently find drugs in traffic stops but no one in the vehicle
claims them. The court gave officers the go-ahead to arrest everyone.

In a small space like a car, an officer could reasonably infer "a
common enterprise" among a driver and passengers, the justices ruled.

The case stemmed from an incident in 1999, when police in the
Baltimore suburbs pulled over a speeding car. A search revealed a
roll of cash in the glove compartment and cocaine in an armrest in
the back seat.

The driver and the two passengers denied having anything to do with
the contraband, so all three men were arrested.

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, writing for the court, said
police had probable cause to suspect that the drugs belonged to any
of the three, or all of them.

Lisa Kemler, a criminal defense attorney from Alexandria, Va., said
the court seems to be saying: "know who your company is."

"How many times have you gotten a ride with a friend? Are you going
to peer around in their glove compartment?" asked Kemler, who fears
the ruling will lead to a police dragnet. "You could find probable
cause to arrest everybody."

Michael Rushford, president of the Criminal Justice Legal
Foundation, a pro-law enforcement group, said police can't be
expected to sort out ownership of drugs or guns in the middle of a
traffic stop.

"You certainly wouldn't let three people with Uzis in their car
leave because no one would admit the uzis were theirs," he said.

Maryland's highest court had thrown out the conviction of a
passenger in the car, Joseph Jermaine Pringle, on grounds that his
arrest violated the Constitution's Fourth Amendment ban on
unreasonable searches or seizures. The Supreme Court reversed that

"Pringle's attempt to characterize this case as a guilt-by-
associaton case is unavailing," Rehnquist wrote in the brief

Pringle told police later that the drugs were his and that he had
planned to swap them for sex or money at a party. His 10-year prison
sentence will be reinstated.

The American Civil Liberties Union and National Association of
Criminal Defense Lawyers filed a brief supporting Pringle. Their
lawyer said the ruling will sweep innocent passengers into criminal

"There's nothing in this opinion to prevent a police officer from
arresting a graduate student who is offered a ride home late at
night from a party that she has attended with some fellow students,"
said Tracey Maclin, a Boston University law professor.

The court's rationale could be used in other police search cases,
involving homes, Maclin said.

The ruling dealt with the discovery of drugs and cash, but it could
apply to other contraband as well.

Supporting Maryland in the case were the Bush administration, along
with Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois,
Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio,
Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West
Virginia, and Puerto Rico.

The case is Maryland v. Pringle, 02-809

This is an Adobe Acrobat file of the Supreme Court decision.