Knock, Knock. It's the Police.

August 26, 2013

Over the past few years, our precious Fourth Amendment has come under fire, especially here in New York and in New Jersey.  The "Stop and Frisk" program, noise complaints as well as placing a GPS tracker on a vehicle are just a few examples here locally and around the country of police testing the limits of citizens.  The potential cases are growing by the day, especially with the expanded use of cell phones and social media.

A particular case of note is examined in Kenneth Vercammen's CLE course with entitled 'A Crash Course in New Jersey Municipal Matters'.  His course covers a number of current legal issues but State v. Edmonds begs an important question.  How much privacy do we need and deserve?

For those unfamiliar, in State v. Edmonds, there was a 9-1-1 call regarding possible domestic violence to a residence.  When the officers arrived they determined there was inadequate evidence to support the domestic violence claim, but began to search the house for weapons.  Under the "Emergency Aid Doctrine", officers are only permitted to intrude on a citizen's Fourth Amendment rights in the case of an imminent threat or danger.  Since this was not the case, the search and anything found through the warrantless search was suppressed.

The Fourth Amendment truly is a balancing act on a tightrope.  The power of police officers needs to be regulated so that they do not abuse their position.  At the same time, I always had trouble stomaching the fact that if a murder weapon was found but there was some sort of slip in the system, the defendant has a chance to go free.  If there's a better system out there, I would gladly consider it (when I'm in charge).


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