Showing posts from March, 2018

Warrantless Motorcycle Search

A Virginia man was arrested after a police officer walked onto his driveway and pulled back a tarp covering a stolen motorcycle.

The exceptions of the Fourth Amendment dates back to a warrantless search of a suspected bootlegger's car looking for illegal alcohol. In that case, the Supreme Court found that a vehicle could be searched without a warrant as long as police have probable cause to believe it contains contraband or evidence of a crime because cars are mobile, and the evidence can be moved before the police are able to obtain a warrant to search them.

The Virginia case started with two high speed chases of a distinct orange and black motorcycle driven by Ryan Collins. In one chase, a police officer wrote down the motorcycle's license plate and recorded images of it. The number led police to a man who said he sold the motorcycle to Collins after telling him it was stolen. Then an officer looked at Collin's Facebook page, which had photos of an orange and black motor…

NRA v. Florida

The National Rifle Association has sued the Florida Attorney General and Commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement over a recently-passed law that forbids the purchase of rifles by persons under the age of 21.  The law was passed after a public outcry over a massacre at a Florida high school in which a former student who had been expelled from the school used a semi-automatic rifle to shoot and kill many students.  The thought behind the law was that by preventing the sale of rifles to those under age 21, as opposed to 18, this would make it harder for a student or recent student at a school to shoot up the school.

     Enter the NRA.  The NRA, in NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA, INC, V.  PAM BONDI and RICK SWEARINGEN, filed suit seeking a ruling from the United States Distict Court for the Northern District of Florida that the law is unconstitutional and that the chief persons in charge of enforcing that law be prevented from doing so.

     There have been …

Rape, Alcohol, and DNA

Recently I defended a man, we will call him "Fred," accused of rape.  Fred's female accuser had been at a "party" with about 20 other people, including Fred.  The accuser, MC, said she was drunk, went to lie down in her boyfriend's car, and then Fred came to the car, got on top of her, pulled her pants down and raped her.  MC described the weight of his chest pushing down on her hands and that her hands could not move to get free.  She described the act, the sexual penetration, said that it continued for 10-15 minutes while she continually told my client "no," and that he suddenly stopped and walked away without saying a word.

When a rape kit was done, my client's DNA was found in MC's vagina.

An open and shut case?  No.  The jury, which included a rape victim among its members, unanimously acquitted Fred of the charge of rape.

Now for the rest of the story.

     Let's start with Fred's DNA.  The forensic lab that detected Fre…