7/5/2009 Newsletter


  • Rally: Justice for Brandon Rodriguez
  • CRA to Hold Meeting on Taser Policy
  • CUAPB Statement on CAIR Distribution of Know Your Rights Materials
  • Video by Lawyer on Why Not to Ever Talk to Cops Without a Lawyer
  • SCOTUS: One Bad, Two Good Decisions on Rights
  • A Good Joke Makes the Point


Saturday, July 11, 2009
4:00 p.m.
Wilson Park, 4th and Eddy, Hastings, MN
Cars will be leaving at 2:30 from Walker Church, 3104 16th Ave S, Minneapolis

On July 11, 2008, Brandon Rodriguez was killed by three Hastings police officers and a Dakota County deputy. His life was ended within minutes of the call being dispatched. Brandon was suicidal that evening and received four bullets from the officers without them investigating why he was acting the way he was. Brandon was only 23 years old.

Rather than addressing the poor handling of the Rodriguez case, the Hastings police chief awarded the officers Medals of Honor. There is no honor in killing a mentally ill young man who posed no immediate danger to the officers.

On the one year anniversary of Brandon’s death, join us for a rally and march to demand that Chief McMenomy rescind these medals and that Hastings police receive training in addressing situations involving mentally ill people so that future tragedies are avoided. Cars will be leaving at 2:30 from Walker Church, 3104 16th Ave S, Minneapolis.

Be sure to sign the petition at http.//www.thepetitionsite.com/107/Justice-for-Brandon-Rodriguez


Town Hall Meeting on Taser Policy
Wednesday, July 15, 6:30 pm
City Hall, 350 S. 5th St., Room 319

The info below is from a press release issued by the CRA. We need to pack that forum and make sure the powers-that-be know that we are serious about wanting a return to a Taser policy that would have prevented the death of people like Quincy Smith (who died when tased by five cops simultaneously) or, better yet, an outright ban on Tasers, which Amnesty International refers to as "the perfect torture device."

The Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Authority (CRA) invites the public to attend a forum addressing the Police Department´s Taser® policy and the question of when and how changes are made to the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) Policy and Procedure Manual. Board members will explain the history of and differences between the former and current policies for the use of Conducted Energy Devices (CEDs, the generic term for Tasers). After the presentations, the CRA will invite public comment on the current CED policy, and when and how changes should be made to the MPD's policy and procedure manual.

This public forum comes one week before the City Council's Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee will consider measures to govern how changes are made to the MPD's Policy and Procedure Manual. The manual provides the standard of conduct that both the MPD's Internal Affairs Unit and the CRA look to when determining if police officers committed acts of misconduct.

The City Council debate and CRA forum are in response to MPD changing their 2006 CED policy without notice to City Council. The police department's adoption of the 2006 CED policy was required as part of the City Council´s approval of MPD's purchase of 160 new Taser® CEDs. That policy contained specific directives, such as only one officer should activate a Taser against a person at a time, and restrictions on employing Tasers on passive subjects, children, visibly frail persons, pregnant women, etc. The MPD changed that policy on August 17, 2007, apparently giving officers much greater discretion in the use of CEDs. The CRA Board has recommended a return to the policy adopted in 2006.


You may have read about a protest at the offices of CAIR-MN by some members of the Somali community (http://wcco.com/local/protest.somalia.slain.2.1041879.html). This issue involves a number of issues internal to the Muslim community (see http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/blog/2009/06/19/who-are-gatekeepers-somali-community.html). Nonetheless, CUAPB feels it is important to defend the practice of teaching people about their rights and has issued the following statement.

Public Statement on CAIR Distribution of Know Your Rights Materials

In light of recent protests against the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Communities United Against Police Brutality issues the following statement:

We stand foursquare in support of CAIR in their efforts to educate the community about their rights. No matter the circumstances, people must be educated about their rights and free to exercise them when dealing with law enforcement agents. Investigations that rely on fear tactics or people forfeiting their rights will not produce useful results and, in fact, hinder the ability of law enforcement authorities to find the truth.

We remind people that they have the right to remain silent when questioned by law enforcement agents, to ask for an attorney, and to answer questions only in the presence of their attorney. We urge people to utilize those rights­which are guaranteed to all by the Constitution--and not be cowed by public pressure to give up those rights.
For additional information on your rights when dealing with law enforcement agencies, go to our website at www.cuapb.org.


Even lawyers and some cops agree with our "know your rights" advice to remain silent when questioned by law enforcement agents. Check out this two-part video by a lawyer and cop which lays out very specifically all the bad things that happen to even innocent people who talk to the cops: http://www.brasschecktv.com/page/342.html You'll find this video, which lasts about an hour, to be entertaining and enlightening. Enjoy!


Justices Ease Rules on Questioning
May 26, 2009

[All the more reason we need to educate people about their right to remain silent and the consequences when they don't.]

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned a long-standing ruling that stopped police from initiating questions unless a defendant's lawyer was present, a move that will make it easier for prosecutors to interrogate suspects.

The high court, in a 5-4 ruling, overturned the 1986 Michigan v. Jackson ruling, which said police may not initiate questioning of a defendant who has a lawyer or has asked for one unless the attorney is present. The Michigan ruling applied even to defendants who agreed to talk to the authorities without their lawyers.

The court's conservatives overturned that opinion, with Justice Antonin Scalia saying ''it was poorly reasoned.''

Under the Jackson opinion, police could not even ask a defendant who had been appointed a lawyer if he wanted to talk, Scalia said.

''It would be completely unjustified to presume that a defendant's consent to police-initiated interrogation was involuntary or coerced simply because he had previously been appointed a lawyer,'' Scalia said in the court's opinion.

Scalia, who read the opinion from the bench, said the decision will have ''minimal'' effects on criminal defendants because of the protections the court has provided in other decisions. ''The considerable adverse effect of this rule upon society's ability to solve crimes and bring criminals to justice far outweighs its capacity to prevent a genuinely coerced agreement to speak without counsel present,'' Scalia said.

The Michigan v. Jackson opinion was written by Justice John Paul Stevens, the only current justice who was on the court at the time. He and Justices David Souter, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented from the ruling, and in an unusual move Stevens read his dissent aloud from the bench. It was the first time this term a justice had read a dissent aloud.

''The police interrogation in this case clearly violated petitioner's Sixth Amendment right to counsel,'' Stevens said. Overruling the Jackson case, he said, ''can only diminish the public's confidence in the reliability and fairness of our system of justice.''

The Obama administration had asked the court to overturn Michigan v. Jackson, disappointing civil rights and civil liberties groups that expected President Barack Obama to reverse the policies of his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush.

The Justice Department, in a brief signed by Solicitor General Elena Kagan, said the 1986 decision ''serves no real purpose'' and offers only ''meager benefits.'' The government said defendants who don't wish to talk to police don't have to and that officers must respect that decision. But it said there is no reason a defendant who wants to should not be able to respond to officers' questions.

Eleven states also echoed the administration's call to overrule the 1986 case.

The decision comes in the case of Jesse Jay Montejo, who was found guilty in 2005 of the shooting death of Louis Ferrari in the victim's home on Sept. 5, 2002.

Montejo was appointed a public defender at his Sept. 10, 2002 hearing, but never indicated that he wanted the lawyer's help. Montejo then went with police detectives to help them look for the murder weapon. While in the car, Montejo wrote a letter to Ferrari's widow incriminating himself.

When they returned to the prison, a public defender was waiting for Montejo, irate that his client had been questioned in his absence. Police used the letter against Montejo at trial, and he was convicted and sentenced to death. He appealed, but the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld the conviction and sentence.

The Supreme Court sent the case back for a determination of whether any of Montejo's other court-provided protections, like his Miranda rights, were violated.

The case is Montejo v. Louisiana, 07-1529.
Supreme Court Limits Warrantless Car Searches
By Robert Barnes
April 22, 2009

The Supreme Court yesterday sharply limited the power of police to search a suspect's car after making an arrest, acknowledging that the decision changes a rule that law enforcement has relied on for nearly 30 years.

In a decision written by Justice John Paul Stevens, an unusual five-member majority said police may search a vehicle without a warrant only when the suspect could reach for a weapon or try to destroy evidence, or when it is "reasonable to believe" there is evidence in the car supporting the crime at hand.

The justices noted that law enforcement for years has interpreted the court's rulings on warrantless car searches to mean that officers may search the passenger compartment of a vehicle as part of a lawful arrest of a suspect. But Stevens said that was a misreading of the court's decision in New York v. Belton in 1981.

"Blind adherence to Belton's faulty assumption would authorize myriad unconstitutional searches," Stevens said, adding that the court's tradition of honoring past decisions did not bind it to continue such a view of the law. "The doctrine of stare decisis does not require us to approve routine constitutional violations."

Stevens was joined by two of his most liberal colleagues -- Justices David H. Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- and two of his most conservative -- Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

The decision overturned a three-year prison sentence for Arizonan Rodney Gant, who had been convicted of cocaine possession. Police found the drug in a search of his car after his arrest for driving with a suspended license. Gant had walked away from his car when he was arrested, and he sat handcuffed a distance away while police searched his vehicle.

"Police could not reasonably have believed either that Gant could have accessed his car at the time of the search or that evidence of the offense for which he was arrested might have been found therein," Stevens wrote.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for the four dissenters, said the court's insistence that its precedents had been misinterpreted was simply a cover for getting rid of a decision with which it disagreed.

He said the replacement of what had been an easy-to-understand "bright line" rule for police "is virtually certain to confuse law enforcement officers and judges for some time to come."

The court's new rules will endanger arresting officers, he said, and "cause the suppression of evidence gathered in many searches carried out in good-faith reliance on well-settled case law."

He was joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy and Stephen G. Breyer.

The case is Arizona v. Gant

Supreme Court Upholds Fourth Amendment in Strip Search Case

Submitted by scottmorgan on June 25, 2009

Today, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in Safford Unified School District #1 et al v. Redding that school officials violated the 4th Amendment when they strip searched a 13-year-old girl. Savana Redding was subjected to a strip search that included looking inside her underwear after the school principal received a tip that she might be in possession of prescription ibuprofen. None was found.

By a strong majority, the Court declared the search unreasonable under the 4th Amendment, finding that a full strip search was unjustified based on the nature of the drugs and in question and the absence of specific evidence that contraband would be found in her underwear.

Unfortunately, despite upholding the 4th Amendment in this case, the Court left the door wide open for future violations of student rights. The justices agreed by a 7-2 vote that the school officials who carried out the illegal search should not be held liable because the case law was unclear at the time. Now that the central legal issues are settled, similar incidents could invoke liability in the future, but the ruling itself will fail to prohibit such searches in many instances.

By placing heavy emphasis on the negligible threat posed by prescription ibuprofen, the Court implies that a different outcome may have been reached depending on the type of contraband in question. It's possible, for example, that the search would have been upheld if it involved marijuana.

Thus, today's ruling fails to fully clarify the legality of drug searches in schools under many circumstances. It also fails to punish those responsible for degrading an innocent young woman based on flimsy and ultimately false evidence. Hopefully, however, it will at least serve as a reminder to educators that schools are not a 4th Amendment-free zone.


A DEA officer stops at a ranch in Montana, and talks with an old rancher. He tells the rancher, 'I need to inspect your ranch for illegally grown drugs.'

The old rancher says, 'Okay, but do not go in that field over there' as he points out the location.

The DEA officer verbally explodes saying, 'Mister, I have the authority of the Federal Government with me.' Reaching into his pocket, he removes his badge and proudly displays it to the farmer. 'See this badge? This badge means I am allowed to go wherever I wish...on any land. No questions asked or answers given. Have I made myself clear? Do you understand?'

The old rancher nods politely, shrugs, and goes about his chores.

A short time later, the old rancher hears loud screams and sees the DEA officer running for his life chased closely behind by the rancher's prize bull. With every step the bull is gaining ground on the officer, and it seems likely that he'll get gored before he reaches safety. The officer is clearly terrified. The old rancher throws down his tools, runs to the fence and yells at the top of his lungs.....

'Your badge! Show him your badge!'

Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. -Reinhold Niebuhr, theologian (1892-1971)

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