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Thread: Historical Anniversary! Paxton's Case

  1. #1
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    Historical Anniversary! Paxton's Case

    Sorry, fellas. I'm almost late with this one.

    Today, Feb 24, is the anniversary of a very important date in the history of rights, especially one of the enumerated rights in the Bill of Rights--the Fourth Amendment (search and seizure).

    Paxton's case! (googling those two words will bring it up.)

    What does this have to do with you? Search and seizure. Being stopped by cops for OC. Being searched by a cop. Cops searching your home. Your friends. Your family.

    On this date in 1761, a lawyer named James Otis stepped up in a courtroom in Boston, and argued non-stop for about four hours against Paxton, a custom's agent, who wanted the authority to search anywhere for untaxed goods, where ever he wanted. In the gallery was a young lawyer named John Adams. Fifty years later, Adams said that the flame of liberty was kindled in that courtroom.

    It was about Writs of Assistance. A Writ of Assistance--in the case of a king's customs agent--was a general warrant to search where ever he wanted for goods upon which the customs tax had not been paid. And, of course, seize the items he suspected upon which tax had not been paid. It was a general warrant. No probable cause needed. No specificity needed as to the place to be searched of things to be seized. Just the customs agent's say-so. It was called a Writ of Assistance because the customs agent could command the sheriff and other officers, and even members of the public to assist him.

    The writs expired with the death of the king--six months after. King George II had died. Paxton wanted a new writ issued. He went to court to get the court to order it be issued to him.

    Otis stepped in to argue against it--for almost four hours. He didn't represent a particular person. He did it for his fellow people, for us.

    The Fourth Amendment (search and seizure) is almost unique among the enumerated rights. A direct historical line can be traced from the Fourth Amendment back through the proposals for rights from the states, to Adams, to his attendance in that court room. Direct link.

    ------


    The foregoing post is heavily paraphrased and comes almost entirely from: Origins of the Bill of Rights, by Leonard Levy, Yale University Press, 1999

    Another great book is Origins of the Fifth Amendment: The Right Against Self-Incrimination, Leonard Levy. This book won the Pulitzer Prize in history for 1969 or 1970. Highly readable, Levy's narrative is captivating and informative. After reading this book--available in paperback--you will have a new and deep appreciation of the price paid in blood, smoke, and treasure to wrest this right from government.

    Many thanks for the reminder of the anniversary to John Wesley Hall of www.FourthAmendment.com This is a blog worth checking every day. Mr. Hall is an attorney. For the last twelve years or so, he has almost daily culled legal websites for Fourth Amendment cases he thinks important, posting a short summary on his blog with links back to the court opinions. He occasionally comments. When he does, it is incisive. He is definitely a friend of the Fourth Amendment.
    Last edited by Citizen; 02-25-2015 at 09:23 PM.
    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

    If I am equal to another, how can I legitimately govern him without his express individual consent?

    There is no human being on earth I hate so much I would actually vote to inflict government upon him.

  2. #2
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    Good to see you. You are well? Best wishes.

    We must all be friends of all our rights.
    Last edited by Nightmare; 02-25-2015 at 05:31 AM.
    I am responsible for my writing, not your understanding of it.

  3. #3
    Regular Member sudden valley gunner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmare View Post
    Good to see you. You are well? Best wishes.

    We must all be friends of all our rights.
    My sentiments exactly!

    Nice post Citizen!
    I am not anti Cop I am just pro Citizen.

    U.S. v. Minker, 350 US 179, at page 187
    "Because of what appears to be a lawful command on the surface, many citizens, because
    of their respect for what only appears to be a law, are cunningly coerced into waiving their
    rights, due to ignorance." (Paraphrased)

  4. #4
    Accomplished Advocate color of law's Avatar
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    Using "writs of assistance," the King authorized his agents to carry out wide-ranging searches of anyone, anywhere, and anytime regardless of whether they were suspected of a crime. See: Stanford v. Texas, 379 U.S. 476, 484 n.13 (“Vivid in the memory of the newly independent Americans were those general warrants known as writs of assistance under which officers of the Crown had so bedeviled the colonists.”) See also Marcus v. Search Warrant of Property, 367 U.S. 717, 729 (“The Bill of Rights was fashioned against the background of knowledge that unrestricted power of search and seizure could also be an instrument for stifling liberty of expression.”).

    From the beginning to now the Supreme Court has pretty well destroyed the fourth Amendment with all their exceptions including officer's good faith.

    But judge, I didn't know I wasn't allowed to bust their door down...wink, wink....

  5. #5
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    Thanks, fellas.
    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

    If I am equal to another, how can I legitimately govern him without his express individual consent?

    There is no human being on earth I hate so much I would actually vote to inflict government upon him.

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