Results 1 to 2 of 2

Thread: Court: Hotline call gave grounds to take guns. The Daily Record

  1. #1
    Banned
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Washington Island, across Death's Door, Wisconsin, USA
    Posts
    9,193

    Post imported post

    http://www.mddailyrecord.com/article...&type=UTTM

    Citing recent killing rampages in the United States, a federal appeals court on Tuesday threw out a Maryland firefighter’s claim that Gaithersburg police unreasonably searched his home and took his collection of 41 guns and ammunition after responding to a report that he was armed, suicidal and could be a threat to his co-workers.

    In a 3-0 ruling, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the police were justified in conducting the warrantless search and seizure in an era of unprecedented domestic carnage at schools, workplaces and shopping malls.

    “Police, then, simply must be entitled to take effective preventive action when evidence surfaces of an individual who intends slaughter,” Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III wrote for the panel. “Respecting the rights of individuals has never required running a risk of mass death.”

    The Gaithersburg police responded quickly and forcefully after receiving a call from a health care hotline operator on July 23, 2002.

    The operator said she had just spoken to Anthony Marc Mora, who said he felt suicidal, had weapons in his apartment and could understand shooting people at work.

    “I might as well die at work,” the hotline operator said Mora told her.

    The operator called police at 1:02 p.m. and police were en route to Mora’s apartment by 1:03, Wilkinson wrote; by 1:13 they had him handcuffed on the ground.

    The police, without a warrant, then searched his apartment, luggage and van. They found a .32 caliber handgun in a suitcase. In the apartment, they found a large gun safe in the kitchen, which they opened after Mora “relinquished the combination under pressure,” the 4th Circuit added.

    The safe contained 12 handguns, eight rifles, a shotgun and keys to a second safe, which held more guns, ammunition and gun accessories, for a total of 41 firearms and 5,000 rounds of ammunition. Police took Mora to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.

    Compelling need

    Mora, who voluntarily committed himself and stayed at the hospital for several days, later sued the police, alleging they had violated his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure when they entered his house without a warrant and seized his guns. Mora argued that the police could easily have secured a warrant first, as he was handcuffed at the time of the search.

    The city of Gaithersburg and its police countered that the warrantless search and seizure were constitutional because of the compelling need to protect the public from the possibility that Mora had planted a bomb or had an accomplice inside his apartment. The U.S. District Court agreed with the city, prompting Mora’s appeal.

    The 4th Circuit affirmed, saying the state’s interest in protecting public safety trumped Mora’s constitutional claim that the police needed a warrant before searching his home and seizing his property.

    “The authority to defuse a threat in an emergency necessarily includes the authority to conduct searches aimed at uncovering the threat’s scope,” Wilkinson wrote. “Searching Mora’s bags, car and home was thus part and parcel of defusing the threat he presented, and just as police had the authority to seize him without a warrant in the course of defusing that threat, so too could they conduct a warrantless search of his surroundings.”

    The court added that recent violence across the United States, both before and after the controversial search and seizure, shows the Gaithersburg police were justifiably concerned about potential danger that could ensue if they did not act quickly after encountering a suicidal individual who had allegedly expressed a willingness to kill others.

    “At Columbine High School in Littleton, in Blacksburg, Omaha and Oklahoma city, America has had to learn how many victims the violence of just one or two outcasts can claim,” Wilkinson wrote, referring to deadly school shootings at a Colorado high school in 1999, Virginia Tech University in 2007 and a Nebraska mall in 2007, and the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma in 1995.

    “These new predators are not terrorists in the ordinary sense; they are not linked to foreign powers or international organizations hostile to the United States,” he added. “They are often isolated but heavily armed, filled to the brim with rage and anguish, and bent not just on murder, but on indiscriminate slaughter, followed frequently, by suicide,” he added. “Violent derangement is nothing new, of course, but the atrocities seem to be growing at once more shocking and more commonplace.”

    Joining Wilkinson’s opinion were Judges Dennis W. Shedd and James P. Jones, a judge on the U.S. District Court for Western Virginia who was sitting on the panel by designation.

  2. #2
    Campaign Veteran
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
    Posts
    1,413

    Post imported post

    Doug Huffman wrote:
    <snip>

    Compelling need


    <snip>

    The city of Gaithersburg and its police countered that the warrantless search and seizure were constitutional because of the compelling need to protect the public from the possibility that Mora had planted a bomb or had an accomplice inside his apartment. The U.S. District Court agreed with the city, prompting Mora’s appeal.

    The 4th Circuit affirmed, saying the state’s interest in protecting public safety trumped Mora’s constitutional claim that the police needed a warrant before searching his home and seizing his property.

    <snip.
    This drives me crazy! WTF?! My own dramatization appears below.

    In court:

    LEO: "Judge, the man was talking about a topic that presented a danger to the public safety. He was saying that 'guns should be legal', which is just nonsense. If guns were legal, we'd have gun violence in Maryland!"

    JUDGE: "That's correct. His statements were so dangerous, it trumped his constitutional right to freedom of speech and he should have known Maryland would strip him of his constitutional rights and, so by disobeying your lawful order to stop talking, you were justified in using deadly force."

    Or...


    LEO: "Judge, I believed this guy was a danger to public safety."

    JUDGE: "Why?"

    LEO: "I thought he had a gun."

    JUDGE: "Did he?"

    LEO: "He said he didn't. But I didn't believe him because he didn't want to talk to me and was avoiding my questions. So I searched him."

    JUDGE: "Did he consent to your search?"

    LEO: "No, but because I believed he represented a danger to public safety, I seeked to diffuse the situation."

    JUDGE: "You were right to search him. If you believed he was dangerous, he didn't have any rights, at least here in Maryland. Did you find his gun?"

    LEO: "No, he didn't have a gun. But he didn't have ID either. So I arrested him for failing to identify himself."

    JUDGE: "He doesn't have to identify himself if he's just walking down the street."

    LEO: "Yes, but why would a resident of Maryland not carry their papers? They must be up to no good. Otherwise, why resist my questioning?"

    JUDGE: "You're right. I have enough information. DEFENDANT IS GUILTY of living in Maryland and thinking the US Constitution protects you."



Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •