Monday, March 17, 2014

MN Court of Appeals says, "If the police COULD get a warrant, then it's totally fine if they don't."

I am so appalled today by the recent MN Court of Appeals decision regarding Test Refusals that I can't even express it in words.  I'm sure I'll have more to say once I've had time to stop beating my head against my desk, but here's today initial reactions to this wrong, wrong, wrong decision. 

The case is State v. Bernard.  It's a published decision, which means that the lower courts (such as the ones I spend all my time working in) are required to follow the holding in the case.  And what was that holding?  Well, here it is: 

"The state is not constitutionally precluded from criminalizing a suspected drunk driver’s refusal to submit to a chemical test under circumstances in which the requesting officer had grounds to have obtained a constitutionally reasonable nonconsensual chemical test by securing and executing a warrant requiring the driver to submit to testing."

Let's pull out the important pieces of that extremely wordy sentence and break it down. "The state is not constitutionally precluded from criminalizing...refusal to submit...under circumstances in which the requesting officer had grounds to have obtained...a warrant." 

Okay. What does that mean, exactly?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Technology moves faster than the law

Lost my trial last week.  I wasn't particularly surprised by the verdict, but of course, I was disappointed.  As always.  Losing sucks, even if it isn't a surprise.  But, it was good to get back into the courtroom to do a trial, since it's been over a year since I've done a jury trial and my last trial (just in front of the judge) was in September of last year.  So, it's been awhile, which made it nice to get back in there and do another trial again.  Can't let my trial skillz get all rusty and out of use. 

In other news, there's some interesting stuff going on in the legal world recently.  The most interesting one, which I'm a bit late to comment on, is that SCOTUS agreed in January to hear two cases regarding the police's ability to search through a cellphone without a warrant when they arrest a suspect.  One case, Riley v. California, involves a smartphone; the other case deals with a flip phone and I think is probably less important in the grand scheme of things than the Riley case, since flip phones will likely not be around for too much longer, but smartphones and/or similar technology will be in the hands of more Americans as we move forward. 

So, let's discuss this case, searches incident to arrests, and why the decision that SCOTUS makes in this case is going to be extremely important for every citizen in the nation. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

First trial of the year

In trial this week. First one of the year. Game face on!