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Thread: Question from the Movie 'U.S. Marshals': Illegal Search?

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    We were watching the movie US Marshal's tonight. In the beginning of the movie Wesley Snipe's character is involved in a car accident. He's in the cab of his overturned wrecker, a firefighter pulls him out. Afterward, the same firefighter goes back into the cab, searches around, and then calls a cop over. The cop comes over and the firefighter pulls out a gun that was velcroed under the dash under the steering column. This is Chicago, so possession of the handgun is a crime, and sets the movie into motion.
    My question: In real life, would the firefighter's actions be considered illegal, as in an illegal search.

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    I am not a lawyer, but here is my guess. The FF is not a LEO, so he cannot violate the citizen's rights. He was just doing his job, found evidence of a crime, and pointed it out to a LEO. The FF finding the gun and telling the LEO gave the LEO probable cause.

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    eye95 wrote:
    I am not a lawyer, but here is my guess. The FF is not a LEO, so he cannot violate the citizen's rights. He was just doing his job, found evidence of a crime, and pointed it out to a LEO. The FF finding the gun and telling the LEO gave the LEO probable cause.
    There is case law on this sort of thing. I can't recall clearly, so I won't declare yes or no.

    But, I kinda doubt on overt search by FD not connected to his job function would fly with a thoughtful gate-keeper judge. Too easy for the police to enlist the FD to make warrantless searches for them. Now, if the FD found it while routinely checking for something that he needed to check as part of fire prevention or something, then I'm guessing it would not be suppressed.

    Also, there is the whole angle where the US Supreme Court leaned away from suppressing evidence if the suppression would not tend to discourage police violations of the 4th Amendment (search and seizure). Herring v US is the case.

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/07-513.ZO.html
    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.

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    I haven't seen the movie, so I can't comment on that. In real life, I suspect that it might depend on why the firefighter was doing the search. Was the victim without ID and unconscious? If so, then somebody would probably search the car for clues to the victims identity.

    Or there might be an unfamiliar smell coming from the vehicle. In that case, the firefighter might search for potentially hazardous materials.

    Or maybe the victim was conscious and asked the firefighter to find a specific object.

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    Flyer22 wrote:
    I haven't seen the movie, so I can't comment on that. In real life, I suspect that it might depend on why the firefighter was doing the search. Was the victim without ID and unconscious? If so, then somebody would probably search the car for clues to the victims identity.

    Or there might be an unfamiliar smell coming from the vehicle. In that case, the firefighter might search for potentially hazardous materials.

    Or maybe the victim was conscious and asked the firefighter to find a specific object.
    Dammit. Now, I'm going to end up buying that movie just to find out why the firefighter searched the car. :P
    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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    We had a long thread about this sort of thing on the Virginia forum here. That discussion was about Game Wardens, who are allowed to enter any property without a warrant, as long as they are on the business of their job, checking for game or hunting violations, which in rural areas, pretty much gives them a free pass anywhere and any time. I believe the discussion went that the courts have ruled that if a Game Warden sees illegal activity, they may inform LEOs and it's not a violation of the rights of the accused.

    It didn't seem to pass the smell test to me, but what do I know.

    It was several weeks ago, I may have some details a little distorted.

    TFred

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    Citizen wrote:
    Flyer22 wrote:
    I haven't seen the movie, so I can't comment on that. In real life, I suspect that it might depend on why the firefighter was doing the search. Was the victim without ID and unconscious? If so, then somebody would probably search the car for clues to the victims identity.

    Or there might be an unfamiliar smell coming from the vehicle. In that case, the firefighter might search for potentially hazardous materials.

    Or maybe the victim was conscious and asked the firefighter to find a specific object.
    Dammit. Now, I'm going to end up buying that movie just to find out why the firefighter searched the car. :P
    That's one of those movies that gets played over and over on late-night cable TV... so you end up seeing the end many more times than the beginning, which is when this scene takes place.

    If I remember right, the truck he was driving ends up on its side, and they have to pull the guy out. From the working angles during the extraction and clean-up, I believe the gun was visible without extra effort to search. Ha ha, I guess he would be exonerated for "concealed carry", but oops, he was in Chicago, so they got him for just "plain carry".

    TFred


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    eye95 wrote:
    I am not a lawyer, but here is my guess. The FF is not a LEO, so he cannot violate the citizen's rights. He was just doing his job, found evidence of a crime, and pointed it out to a LEO. The FF finding the gun and telling the LEO gave the LEO probable cause.
    Wheew! TG I-ANAL and neither is I-95!

    Possession of a gun absent other elements is not evidence of a crime. A cop cannot violate a citizens rights. The government agent FF is bound by the same Fourth and Fifth Amendment protections as the cop. The results of the search should be fruit of the poisonous tree.



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    petrophase wrote:
    ...This is Chicago,...

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    Or Amerika...

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    Master Doug Huffman wrote:
    eye95 wrote:
    I am not a lawyer, but here is my guess. The FF is not a LEO, so he cannot violate the citizen's rights. He was just doing his job, found evidence of a crime, and pointed it out to a LEO. The FF finding the gun and telling the LEO gave the LEO probable cause.
    Wheew! TG I-ANAL and neither is I-95!

    Possession of a gun absent other elements is not evidence of a crime.

    In Chicago it is (at least until June)

    A cop cannot violate a citizens rights.

    In Chicago they routinely do. I was talking to an old army buddy last night that is in a 1983 suit (non-firearms related) against Chicago and 2 officers... He's the proud owner of a titanium cheek bone because he committed "contempt of cop". Then they tried unsuccessfully to prosecute him for assaulting them.

    The government agent FF is bound by the same Fourth and Fifth Amendment protections as the cop. The results of the search should be fruit of the poisonous tree.


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    I would think all the FF had to say is he went back looking for more people or children and saw the gun.
    Freedom isn't free, but this is America! We will find a way to outsource it and save some money - Jeremy

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    For you none US Marshal viewers, here is the opening scene where the handgun is found. Brief synopsis is, tow truck gets turned on it's side. Firefighter jumps in truck to stabilize Snipes. They remove him from the vehicle, then FF calls PD over and says look what I found. He then removes a holster velcroed under the dash and it to the cop along with what looks to be a wallet.

    Skip ahead to around the 3 minute mark.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aikutkMzHaY

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    This film is also an examplewhy you should SHUT YOUR MOUTH when being questioned. Let a competent lawyer, "worth his salt," direct you. Name, rank, and serial number (in a manner of speaking), at best.

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    There is no poisonous tree here. The courts have decided over and over again that in the act of public service (ie, firefighters saving lives) that anything seen in the abode, a car, whatever can be used to prosecute. We aren't talking about where they came back an hour later and searched the car.

    There is however another issue obviously that perhaps there should be a law that prohibits that for obvious reasons - perhaps people less likely to call for help if their meth lab is burning down.

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    Pace wrote:
    The courts have decided over and over again that in the act of public service ... that anything seen in the abode, a car, whatever can be used to prosecute.
    http://opencarry.mywowbb.com/forum1/1.html
    7) If you state a rule of law, it is incumbent upon you to try to cite, as best you can, to authority. Citing to authority, using links when available, is what makes OCDO so successful. An authority is a published source of law that can back your claim up - statute, ordinance, court case, newspaper article covering a legal issue, etc.

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    Pace wrote:
    There is however another issue obviously that perhaps there should be a law that prohibits that for obvious reasons - perhaps people less likely to call for help if their meth lab is burning down.
    If the operators of a meth lab would rather burn to death than to go to jail, they will hear no objection from me.


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    and burn down the house next to them,kill the kids in the apartment building. That's my point.





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    Yeah, cuz none of the law-abiding citizens will call either.

    What? No eyeroll smiley?

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    eye95 wrote:
    Yeah, cuz none of the law-abiding citizens will call either.

    What? No eyeroll smiley?
    :quirky

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