Friday, April 24, 2009

Supremes Tighten Up Search of a Vehicle Incident To Arrest

Arizona v. Gant, no. 07-542 (April 21, 2009)

Gant was arrested for driving while suspended. During a search of his car while he was confined in the back of a squad car, police found cocaine in the pocket of a jacket in the car, and he was tried and convicted of possession of a controlled substance. At trial Gant moved to suppress the evidence as the product of an unlawful search but that motion was denied.

The Arizona Supreme Court reversed, finding the search to be unreasonable, because Gant was locked in the back of a squad car and could not access the contraband or weapons. The search incident to arrest warrant exception under Chimel v. California did not apply.

Under Chimel, only the space in the suspect's immediate control or where he might gain possession of a weapon or evidence could be searched without a warrant incident to an arrest.

This appeal followed.

The Supreme Court held that "police may search a vehicle incident to a recent occupant's arrest only if the arrestee is within reacging distance of the passenger compartment at the time of the search or it is reasonable to believe the vehicle contains evidence of the offense of arrest. When these justifications are absent, a search of an arrestee's vehicle will be unreasonable unless police obtain a warrant or show that another exception to the warrant requirement applies."

The marching orders are clear for law enforcement-the magistrates are going to get a lot more late night calls, and there are going to be a lot more inventories, and there are going to be a lot more calls for the drug dogs.

Image courtesy of

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The New Face of Piracy

The moron with the s**t-eating grin here is none other than this century's answer to Blackbeard, and probably the reason why he's smiling is that he hasn't heard about Florence, Colorado and what awaits him there.
It is not a question of if, but when.

Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse boarded the Maersk Alabama at gunpoint and discharged his weapon, and compelled the crew to open the ship's safe whereupon the $30,000 inside was stolen. Muse also boarded a Navy vessel in an attempt to extort further concessions for him and his mates.

Of course, his comrades got a dose of lead administered by Doctor Colt, which has proved salubrious to others so situated, and we can but hope that this remedy becomes more popular. It is a sovereign remedy for all sorts of misbehavior and a stern admonition to backsliders.

There was a brief effort to have this fellow tried as a juvenile, but the court ordered him tried as an adult, which is as it should be. People grow up fast in that part of the world, and if they're ready to take up the pursuits and passions of a full grown man, they're also ready to assume the risks that come along with it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Elementary, My Dear Watson, Elementary.

UPDATE: There's also the small matter of the fingerprint, and the underwear taken as trophies.....


The New York Times informs us that Philip Markoff, a second year medical student at Boston University, was arrested in connection with the murder of a woman and the attack on another who'd advertised "massage services" in the "casual encounters" section of the popular Craigslist website.

There's not a lot of doubt as to what kind of services were being offered, but it does point out that the internet is a dangerous place at times.

It's been hinted that the reason for the crimes may have been robbery-perhaps an effort to pay off gambling debts.

A search warrant executed at Markoff's uppah crusty pad in Quincy, Mass. led to the discovery of tie wraps like the kind used to bind the victims and a pistol and ammo.

How'd the cops do it?

Through a combination of garden variety sleuth work, ever present security cameras, and the ineradicable trail that cell phones and email leave as they travel through the ether.

Here's one more guy who must have been sleeping through all the discussions about secure communications.

Photo New York Times.

Heemstra Merger Doctrine Not Retroactively Applicable

Goosman v. State, no 07-1416, (Iowa April 17, 2009)

One of the questions left open in the case of Rodney Heemstra was the effect of the decision holding that the felony of willful injury merged into a homicide and thus could not serve as the predicate felony for a first degree murder prosecution.

One might imagine that it was the subject of much animated late night palaver among the cognoscenti, particularly the jailhouse lawyers in Fort Maddy and other mesne places.

The question in the instant case was whether the holding in Heemstra had to be applied retroactively because of due process. The Court had previously said it could not, applying only to cases that had not been resolved by direct appeal and where the issue had been raised at trial.

Goosman was convicted in 1992 of a murder in which the predicate for the felony murder prosecution was wilful injury, and his direct appeal was denied in 1994. He filed an application for post conviction relief.

The Court held that where a court announces a change in substantive law (as it did in Heemstra) which overrules prior authoritative precedent, federal due process does not require retroactive application of the holding.

What Does Rescission Mean, Exactly?

State v. Stone, no. 07-1237 (Iowa April 17, 2009)

Stone was stopped for an expired registration and a records check revealed that his license was suspended for an OWI test refusal. Stone did have a work permit, but was cited because it did not appear that a trip to the Clown and the car wash met the description of going back and forth to work.

Stone was charged with driving while his license was suspended or revoked. Subsequent to his being arraigned Stone was notified by the DOT that the suspension had been rescinded. Stone moved to exclude any but the current record information and any reference to rescissions of suspensions, but the trial court declined to allow Stone to present evidence of the rescission because it was not relevant and tended to confuse the jury.

Stone argued that the rescission precluded the state from prosecuting him and that the court erred in not allowing him to demonstrate that on September 14, 2006 that his license was not revoked.

The Supremes disagreed, holding that rescission does not operate retroactively, and that on the date in question his license was in a state of revocation. Thus, he could be prosecuted, and admission of his certified driving record was properly refused.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Porcelain God: Victim or Suspect?

Wisconsin v. Plude, 2008 WI 58 (Wisc. 2008)

I'm not making this up folks.

Douglas Plude was convicted of first degree murder on the theory that he'd killed his wife Genell by drowning her in the water in the family commode after drugging her with Fioricet codeine, a medicine prescribed to migraine sufferers.

The Vilas County Attorney, Albert Moutsakis is recruiting people for a further round of testing to see if, in fact, a 5'8 inch 140 pound woman can be drowned in a toilet.

It seems that the state's expert witness Dr. Saami Shaibani, who was instrumental in producing the scientific information that led to the first conviction told a few....ahem....whoppers under oath concerning his credentials.

Dr. Shaibani had testified that the position the body was found in was physically impossible for an unconscious person to maintain. However, he'd testified that he was an associate professor at Temple University, and held a master's and doctorate in physics from Oxford. Turns out he was not a professor at Temple. And, he's got problems in other places.

The Wisconsin Supremes determined that in a trial as contentious and rife with conflicting expert witness testimony as Plude's was, a reasonable jury might well have had a reasonable doubt about Plude's guilt had they known that Shaibani had falsified his credentials.

Memo to potential experts: Don't pad your credentials.

Homicidal Beavis and Buttheads

Information is starting to emerge about Richard Poplawski and the murky world he lived in-you know, that wild and crazy hockey fan from Steeltown who blew the hell out of three Pittsburgh police officers trying to mediate a family dispute- where was I?

Oh, I remember. "richiedelicious", as Poplawski called himself on his myspace page made no secret of his hate and rage. You can read an archive of some of his deleted postings here.

Apparently he was also a poster on, a white supremacist website. The content speaks for itself as do the tattoos.

It is also significant that Richie Delicious' best bud Eddie Perkovic thought that Richie Delicious was afraid that President Obama was personally going to confiscate his weapons, and that his arming himself with an AK47 and an armored vest was a reasonable response to the impending confiscation of his AK.

Eddie also reads the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the Turner Diaries, to wit:

DOCUMENTS I RECCOMEND YOU READ BY GOOGLE: "Civil War II" by Tom Chittum "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" "The Turner Diaries" by Dr. William Pierce "Jewish Supremacy" by Dr. David Duke It Has Even Been Documented In The Communist Manifesto: "“We must realize that our party’s most powerful weapon is racial tension. "By propounding into the consciousness of the dark races that for centuries they have been oppressed by the whites, we can mold them to the program of the Communist Party. "In America we will aim for subtle victory. While inflaming the Negro minority against the whites, we will endeavour to instill in the whites a guilt complex for their exploitation of the Negros. "We will aid the Negros to rise to prominence in every walk of life, in the professions, and in the world of sports and entertainment.

Uhhhhhhh, Eddie, that stuff ain't in the Communist Manifesto, bud.

Folks, this is dangerously loony stuff we're talking about here.

Be aware of what's going on out in the street.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

And It's All On Tape.

State v. Kaufman, no. 08-0880 (Iowa Ct. App. April 8, 2009)

Observing Kaufman's car partially over the curb, the chief of police of Readlyn investigated and found Kaufman intoxicated and belligerent, giving a false name and alleging that nothing was going to happen to him because his father was on the city council. A Bremer County deputy arrived and administered field sobriety tests and a PBT on video subsequent to trying to escape.

Kaufman was arrested for OWI and interference.

Kaufman filed a motion in limine requesting that any mention of the PBT be stricken, but the trial court allowed the videotape evidence with the exception of the actual PBT results.

The court of appeals held that merely showing that a person was administered a PBT does not violate 321J5(2).

A certain police officer I know arrested a certain obnoxious and inebriated female and escorted her to a certain police station with his video equipment running. Parking the squad car, he left the video equipment and live mic running for about two hours while the female carried on and waxed, by turns, loquacious, sloppy drunk, coquettish, emotional, and revolting. Then just before the video equipment was shut off, a spectral voice says "And it's all on tape. Every bit of it."

You know who you are.

The Deadbeat's Dilemma

State v. Vikel, no. 08-0525 (March 26, 2009)

Vikel took a cab to his mother's house, alleging that dear old Mom would pay the fare.

Of course she was nowhere to be found, the cabbie contacted her dispatcher who called police, and when they arrived Vikel alleged that the cabbie had touched him inappropriately. He accused the cabbie of sexual assault, wanted her arrested, and so on and so on.

After determining the accusation had no merit, Vikel was arrested for theft and interference with official acts ,and subsequently charged him with making a false report of an indictable offense. Vikel's arguments that he didn't actuallty report the offense had some support, but the court found that the jury could have found that Vikel's statements constituted an affirmative act on which guilt could be founded.

I guess he knows something about sex abuse, because here's his picture from the Registry.

The One That Got Away: Marty's Excellent Road Trip

State v. Diaz, no. 08-0615 (Iowa Ct. App. Mar. 26, 2009).

Diaz and friends were en route from Los Angeles to Chicago in two cars when they encountered a ruse drug checkpoint. A sign was posted saying "Warning: Drug Checkpoint 2 miles. Be prepared to stop."

In reality police were waiting at a rest stop to see who was going to take the opportunity to de-stash themselves. After some palaver, the occupants of the two vehicles split up. Diaz and others went down Rte. 80 in the Jeep while the rented Escape remained in the rest area. Agents interviewed the occupants of the Escape and obtained consent to search, which produced 101 pounds of marijuana.

The Jeep was stopped in Illinois with Diaz driving but no contraband was seized.

Diaz was charged with possession with intent to distribute and drug tax stamp violations. He argued that the element of possession necessary to convict was insufficient as a matter of law.

The court of appeals agreed and held that there was no specific evidence linking Diaz to the marijuana seized from the rented Ford Escape, although Diaz had been in conversation with the driver, admitted that he was in company with them, and had actually been photographed sitting in the driver's seat of the Escape.

The takehome's clear-we're going to have to work hard at tying together the members of a convoy. It seems as if this posse was pretty well prepared as they'd tightly wrapped their cargo and covered it with fabric softener sheets to kill the odor.

Nonetheless we can take comfort in the fact that Diaz and his posse were caused a great deal of trouble and lost their stash, which no doubt caused them some grief with their financiers and providers of inventory.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Strange Days Have Come

Strange days have found us
Strange days have tracked us down
-Jim Morrison

We're reliably informed that three Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania officers have died in the line of duty.

What's stunning about this story-aside from the loss of life-is the apparent silliness that triggered it.

It seems that police were summoned to the home of Margaret Poplawski in response to an argument that had erupted between her and her son over a dog peeing on the carpet.

When police arrived to eject Richard Poplawski from the home or mediate the dispute, he opened fire on them while they were in the foyer of the home.

Richard Poplawski was known to have been one of these retards intent on stockpiling a cache of weapons because he figured that the Head Negro In Charge in Washington was going to seize his weapons and probably his penis as well, before turning him into a socialist homo.

I am so tired of these people with their AK47s stashed in PVC pipe in the back yard and their apocalyptic delusions.

It's a combination that has to stop somewhere, because it's making life very difficult for the rest of us. As long as these idiots moved out to the desert past Barstow to await the big Ride of the Valkyries, no harm came to the rest of us, and they could blow themselves up with homemade Claymores and the world went merrily along. But no more.

Of course, dear old Mom never thought it worth mentioning to the 911 dispatcher the fact that her son was armed to the teeth awaiting his second amendment Gotterdammerung and was wandering around the house in a bulletproof vest and that they'd best be careful.

The rest is history. Over a dog peeing on the carpet.

The takehome's clear-any home where there's a call for services could be the last place you ever see. What's more difficult to decipher is what we can do about all the ticking time bombs that this particular delusion seems to be creating in our midst.

I don't know how law enforcement is supposed to do their job under these conditions.