LAPD’s Militarized Response to Peaceful Abortion Protests Makes the Case for Police Reform—Again

“Armed with riot gear and brandishing rubber-bullet guns, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) mobilized rapidly in response to pro-abortion protests near the city’s federal courthouse from June 24–27. Activists and journalists claim excessive use of physical force was rampant, with officers using batons against peaceful protesters.

The LAPD has maintained that it did not use force against peaceful protesters. “The vast majority of those involved [in pro-abortion protests] were peaceful and law abiding, however, a much smaller group of individuals took to the streets with the intention of creating chaos and destruction,” the LAPD said in a June 27 statement. “The Los Angeles Police Department has the distinction of facilitating First Amendment Rights for all Angelinos. Equally the Department will enforce the law when individuals engage in violence,” the statement continued.

While there were violent actors present at the protests, including one man who attacked police with a torch, videos shared online appear to show police using force against nonviolent protesters, including those trying to deescalate the situation. In one clip that received particular attention on social media, LAPD officers seemingly shoved Full House actress Jodie Sweetin to the pavement as she tried to defuse a confrontation between police and protesters on a Los Angeles freeway.”

The One Thing That Is Very Clear from the Search of Trump’s Home

“We need to remember that earlier this year officials retrieved boxes of materials from Mar-a-Lago that they said should have been turned over to the National Archives before Trump left office. According to reporting from CNN, investigators became aware of the existence of more such documents during a visit to Mar-a-Lago in June. But instead of simply taking these documents as officials had done previously, or subpoenaing Trump for the documents, investigators took the more serious step of requesting a search warrant. This suggests that officials at the Department of Justice did not think they would get all the documents in Trump’s possession if they filed a subpoena.

There is much we still don’t know about what the agents were looking for and what they found, but the process of applying for and receiving permission for the warrant indicates the significance of what happened Monday.

Typically, I would advise a client that an FBI search at your home means that you will likely face charges. That’s because a federal judge determined that there was good reason to believe a federal crime was committed and that evidence of the crime was in your home. To be clear, the execution of a search warrant doesn’t necessarily mean that the evidence points to the owner of the home as the person who committed the crime. It just usually works out that way.

To obtain the warrant, the DOJ had to present a detailed affidavit to a judge walking through the evidence they have that a crime was committed and providing some reason to believe evidence of that crime is at Mar-a-Lago right now. I emphasize “right now” because the government needs to show that there was probable cause to believe that evidence of the crime was present at Mar-a-Lago at the time of the search. It is extremely unlikely that a judge would approve a warrant based on stale evidence that had been received many months ago. The Justice Department also would act in the most conservative, cautious manner given the enormous stakes for the Department’s reputation and the nation as a whole.”

“The nature of the possible charges is also very unclear. Recent reporting from both the New York Times and the Associated Press indicates the search warrant is related to classified material taken from the White House by Trump when he left office. But we know that mishandling classified documents only rarely results in charges.

James Comey was right when he testified that the DOJ typically does not prosecute cases involving the mishandling of classified material unless that material was deliberately transferred to a third party. That suggests to me that there is something important — call it a plus factor — we don’t know here. People on the right have rushed to judgment and are already saying, “This is just a docs case.” But we don’t know that. In fact, there is reason to believe it is more than that.”

New Arizona Law Will Make it Illegal to Film Within Eight Feet of Police

“Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, signed a bill into law Wednesday that will make it illegal to film the police within eight feet.

The legislation, H.B. 2319, makes it a misdemeanor offense to continue filming police activity from within eight feet of an officer after receiving a verbal warning. The bill originally restricted filming the police from no closer than 15 feet away, but it was amended after criticisms.

There are also exceptions for filming the police in a private residence, during a traffic stop, and for the subject of a police encounter. But the law qualifies those exceptions, saying they apply only if the person recording is “not interfering with lawful police actions,” or “unless a law enforcement officer determines that the person is interfering in the law enforcement activity or that it is not safe to be in the area and orders the person to leave the area.”

Interfering with police, or obstruction of justice, is one of the most frequently cited justifications for frivolous and retaliatory arrests.”

“”Can you be arrested for standing still while wearing a GoPro under this statute?” Doucette asked. “It seems the answer here is yes, which would violate the First Amendment (since standing still isn’t interfering with an officer’s duties).””

“State legislators should be less concerned with cops’ feelings and more concerned about citizens’ right to document how armed government agents go about their business. Giving officers another discretionary offense to slap on someone who annoys them will lead only to more confusion and more censorship.”

Supreme Court Makes It Effectively Impossible To Sue Federal Cops, Smashing a 51-Year-Old Precedent

“the Supreme Court partially opted to dismantle Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics—its 1971 decision that allowed a man to sue federal officers who searched his home without a warrant and then strip-searched him at a courthouse—not by hearing a case and deciding on the merits but by refusing to do that.

The justices announced..51 years after the Court handed down Bivens—that they would decline to consider two major petitions. In the first, St. Paul Police Department Officer Heather Weyker, who was serving on a federal task force, conjured a fake sex-trafficking ring and jailed a teenage girl for two years on trumped-up charges. In the second, Department of Homeland Security Agent Ray Lamb allegedly tried to kill a man who had a personal beef with Lamb’s son; video appears to show Lamb attempting to pull the trigger of his gun, though it jammed.

Federal courts in both cases agreed with what may sound intuitive: Both Weyker and Lamb violated clearly established law. They are thus not protected by qualified immunity, the legal doctrine that can make it difficult to sue local and state actors when they violate the Constitution. But because they were working for the federal government, they are protected by absolute immunity, the courts said, and their victims—Hamdi Mohamud and Kevin Byrd, respectively—may not sue them for disgracing their positions.”

“By demurring at hearing those cases, the Supreme Court has upheld the decisions giving both officers absolute immunity for committing transgressions while policing domestically. “Today’s rulings are basically saying that you can never sue federal officials, period,” notes Bidwell.”

SCOTUS Says You Can’t Sue the Cops for Violating Your Miranda Rights

“The Supreme Court ruled..that if a police officer fails to inform you of your right to remain silent and avoid self-incrimination when you’re suspected of a crime, you can’t sue under federal law as a violation of your civil rights.

To be clear, the Court isn’t overturning Miranda v. Arizona, the 1966 Supreme Court ruling that determined that it’s a violation of a suspect’s Fifth Amendment rights for police to interrogate him or her about a crime without informing them they have the right to remain silent and the right to request an attorney. But what the Court ruled today is that if and when this right is violated, people can’t turn to Section 1983 of the U.S. code and file a civil action lawsuit against the police officer or law enforcement agency and seek redress or damages.”

“Essentially, Alito’s opinion says that the purpose of Miranda is to serve as a safeguard against compelled self-incrimination by police or prosecutors. It was not intended to establish that it was inherently a Fifth Amendment violation if somebody voluntarily confesses or self-incriminates himself or herself prior to or absent of a Miranda warning.”

“Alito concludes that because a violation of Miranda is not automatically a violation of the Fifth Amendment, there is no justification to permit a civil rights lawsuit. The opinion reverses a judgment in Tekoh’s favor and remands it back to the lower courts to revisit.

The dissent is written by Justice Elena Kagan and joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. Kagan observes the obvious in her dissent, that this ruling will make it harder for defendants to pursue legal remedies when their rights are violated”

“the Supreme Court recognizes that these constitutional rights exist, but by shielding officers from liability for violating these rights, the Court undermines the necessary tools to make sure police take them seriously.”

SCOTUS Just Made It Even Harder To Sue an Abusive Federal Agent

“A series of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions have made it practically impossible to sue a federal officer over an alleged constitutional rights violation. In a 6-3 ruling released today, the Court doubled down on this regrettable trend.

The case is Egbert v. Boule. At issue were the actions of a border patrol agent who sought to question one of the guests at a Washington state bed-and-breakfast about the guest’s immigration status. When owner Robert Boule told the agent, Erik Egbert, to leave his property, Egbert allegedly assaulted Boule. Then, when Boule complained about the alleged assault to the agent’s superiors, Egbert allegedly retaliated by asking the IRS to investigate Boule, who was audited. Boule sued Egbert for violating his Fourth Amendment rights (the assault) and his First Amendment rights (the retaliation against Boule’s complaint).

In Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (1971), the Supreme Court allowed federal officers to be sued in federal court for alleged Fourth Amendment violations. Unfortunately, the Court has since narrowed Bivens to point of practically overruling it. Today’s decision in Egbert v. Boule has shriveled Bivens even further.

“The Court of Appeals permitted not one, but two constitutional damages actions to proceed against a U.S. Border Patrol agent,” complained the majority opinion of Justice Clarence Thomas. “Because our cases have made clear that, in all but the most unusual circumstances, prescribing a cause of action is a job for Congress, not the courts, we reverse.” Thomas’ opinion was joined in full by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.

Writing in dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor pointed out that Thomas’ decision was plainly at odds with Bivens. “Boule’s Fourth Amendment claim does not arise in a new context,” she wrote, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. “Bivens itself involved a U.S. citizen bringing a Fourth Amendment claim against individual, rank-and-file federal law enforcement officers who allegedly violated his constitutional rights within the United States by entering his property without a warrant and using excessive force. Those are precisely the facts of Boule’s complaint.”

Justice Neil Gorsuch agreed with Sotomayor about that. “The plaintiff is an American citizen who argues that a federal law enforcement officer violated the Fourth Amendment in searching the curtilage of his home. Candidly, I struggle to see how this set of facts differs meaningfully from those in Bivens itself.” Still, Gorsuch concurred with Thomas, arguing that the officer should win this case because Bivens should be overruled outright.

The upshot [the] ruling is that federal officers, who already enjoy extraordinary protections against being sued over alleged rights violations, are now more untouchable than ever.”

To Promote Public Safety, Michigan Authorizes Cops To Rob Travelers at Airports

“”Traveling with cash is not a crime,” notes Institute for Justice senior attorney Dan Alban. “People regularly fly with large amounts of cash for a wide variety of completely legitimate reasons related to their business or personal finances. Allowing authorities to take air travelers’ cash without a criminal conviction, simply because they have a large sum of money, is a blatant violation of their rights. This will lead to innocent people losing their money and is a massive step in the wrong direction by Michigan lawmakers.”

As Rep. Filler (R–DeWitt) tells it, Michigan’s civil forfeiture reforms, which legislators enacted in 2015, 2017, and 2019 after hearing testimony about greedy cops who indiscriminately stole people’s property, invited drug traffickers to carry their ill-gotten gains into and out of Michigan with impunity. “Drug trafficking will not be tolerated in Michigan,” Filler says. “The men and women who keep our airports secure need to have the proper authority to keep drugs and drug money out of our state—and this reform gives them the tools they need to get the job done.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, signed “this reform” into law last week. H.B. 4631, which Filler sponsored, makes an exception to a law requiring a criminal conviction before a forfeiture can be completed. It says that requirement does not apply to airport seizures of cash or other property worth more than $20,000. H.B. 4632, which was sponsored by Rep. Alex Garza (D–Taylor), eliminates a property owner’s right to seek a stay of forfeiture proceedings in such cases pending the outcome of a related criminal case.”

“Forfeiture affidavits routinely employ vague boilerplate that falls far short of establishing the criminal nexus they allege. This guy was carrying a lot of money, they say, and we suspect it is connected to drug trafficking. He bought a one-way ticket, and he seemed nervous when we grilled him, which reinforced our impression that he must be a drug dealer. Maybe the money came from selling drugs, or maybe it was intended to buy drugs. Either way, we want to keep it.

In Michigan, law enforcement agencies generally get to keep 90 percent of the proceeds from forfeitures they initiate, which is even more generous than the 80 percent they can expect from forfeitures “adopted” by the Justice Department through its “equitable sharing” program. That is a strong motive to claim that large sums of cash are connected to drug trafficking, even when there is little reason to believe that is true. The results of such perverse financial incentives are apparent in one case after another where cops seized an innocent person’s hard-earned money because they assumed he had no legitimate reason to have it.”

A study gave cash and therapy to men at risk of criminal behavior. 10 years later, the results are in.

“What if someone told you that you could dramatically reduce the crime rate without resorting to coercive policing or incarceration? In fact, what if they said you could avert a serious crime — a robbery, say, or maybe even a murder — just by shelling out $1.50?

That’s such an incredibly good deal that it sounds too good to be true. But it’s been borne out by the research of Chris Blattman, Margaret Sheridan, Julian Jamison, and Sebastian Chaskel. Their new study provides experimental evidence that offering at-risk men a few weeks of behavioral therapy plus a bit of cash reduces the future risk of crime and violence, even 10 years after the intervention.”

“999 Liberian men were split into four groups. Some received CBT, while others got $200 in cash. Another group got the CBT plus the cash, and finally, there was a control group that got neither.

A month after the intervention, both the therapy group and the therapy-plus-cash group were showing positive results. A year after the intervention, the positive effects on those who got therapy alone had faded a bit, but those who got therapy plus cash were still showing huge impacts: crime and violence were down about 50 percent.”

“10 years later, he tracked down the original men from the study and reevaluated them. Amazingly, crime and violence were still down by about 50 percent in the therapy-plus-cash group.”

“The most plausible hypothesis, according to Blattman, is that the $200 in cash enabled the men to pursue a few months of legitimate business activity — say, shoe shining — after the therapy ended. That meant a few extra months of getting to cement their new non-criminal identity and behavioral changes. “Basically, it gave them time to practice,” Blattman told me.”

What police could find out about your illegal abortion

“But there’s no gray area when it comes to evidence law enforcement can get about you specifically if they have reason to believe you’ve committed a crime. To give a recent example: Many cases against alleged January 6 insurrectionists were built on data the FBI got from Google and social media. In some cases, this included the suspect’s movements to and from their homes as well as within the Capitol building. It also included the contents of their emails, web searches, websites visited, and YouTube videos watched. You might think the police having such a large data trail to follow is a good thing when it’s used against people whose actions you disagree with. You might not feel the same way if it’s used against people whose actions you support.

That means that in places where abortion is illegal — assuming such a thing does happen — there won’t be much a company like Google can do if police have a warrant for data that could be evidence of a crime. There’s also the possibility that people pretending to be the police could obtain data, too. As Bloomberg recently reported, it has happened before. That’s why privacy and civil rights advocates say the less data those companies are forced to give to law enforcement, the better. Laws that minimize the amount of data collected, that restrict what other parties can do with that data, and that allow consumers to delete their data would go a long way here.

There’s also the data that the police (and any other especially motivated private citizens) can buy. Data brokers, it turns out, make for a nice workaround to the Fourth Amendment. Law enforcement can simply buy data it would otherwise have to get a court order for, which it may then use to help in its investigations.”

“Consumer privacy laws would go a long way toward reducing what data is out there and available for anyone to access in the first place.”

He Didn’t Use the ‘Magic Words’ To Get Access to a Lawyer. Were His Rights Violated?

“whether or not someone has actually invoked their right to counsel is, to some degree, subjective, though it can have far-reaching consequences in a defendant’s case.”