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Thread: Never, ever fall for the "Columbo gambit" during a traffic stop

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    Regular Member Repeater's Avatar
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    Another success for the Columbo gambit
    Another success for the Columbo gambit (see here, too), although the court does not call it that. See LaFave, The “Routine Traffic Stop” from Start to Finish: Too Much “Routine,” Not Enough Fourth Amendment, 102 Mich. L. Rev. 1843, 1898 (2004) (argues officers can “obviate any and all time and scope limitations” by performing “the well-known Lt. Columbo gambit [‘one more thing ...’]”; State v. Thompson, 284 Kan. 763, 166 P. 3d 1015, 1027 (2007); Brown v. State, 182 P.3d 624, 632 (Alaska App. 2008).

    Beware of police officers saying “I just need to complete my report” or “The boys downtown require it.”
    If any LEO asks for "a few more questions" ask one of your own:
    Am I free to leave?
    If his answer is yes, LEAVE now or forever hold your peace!

    And another thing: Shut up!

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    Amen, brother.

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    Thanks for the "heads up"

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    http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/31/3104.asp

    Arizona Appeals Court Denies Drug Search Without Cause
    Asserting constitutional rights is not a justification for detention and search, the Arizona Appeals Court ruled.

    The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled last week that asserting one's constitutional rights does not give police sufficient cause for detention and search. The ruling treated a January 8, 2008 incident in which Alvin J. Sweeney was pulled over for allegedly following a car too closely. Arizona state police Officer Mace Craft claimed that he had timed the gap between Sweeney's car and the vehicle in front of him at 0.88 seconds. Sweeney had a Canadian driver's license and was driving a rental car with the appropriate paperwork. This, and Sweeney's nervousness, aroused Craft's suspicion.

    Craft directed Sweeney out of the car and began an interrogation about where the man was headed and what he was doing in Arizona. Sweeney said he drove from New York to find a vintage Camaro, but Craft did not believe anyone could drive so far just to buy a car. Craft wrote Sweeney a warning ticket, told him to have a safe trip, but then asked for permission to search the rental car.

    "No, you can't, 'cause I don't think it's in (the law), is it?" Sweeney responded.

    Craft asked asked if he could have a drug dog sniff the car. Sweeney again said no and began walking away. Craft grabbed Sweeney and said he was being detained. Craft then proceeded to have the dog perform a search of the car, eventually finding a bag filled with cocaine in the trunk. The court considered whether the police officer was justified in initiating the search.

    Although the court found little credibility in the precise 0.88 second timing for the following-too-closely allegation, the evidence appeared sufficient for the initial traffic stop. After Officer Craft presented the warning citation, however, the situation became less clear.

    "Officer Craft used physical force to detain appellant when he grabbed his arm and ordered him to stand in front of the patrol car," Presiding Judge Peter B. Swann wrote. "There was nothing consensual about the encounter at the time it occurred... the continued detention of appellant after he declined to allow the search was an additional seizure under the Fourth Amendment... The Fourth Amendment requires that an officer have some minimal, objective justification for the detention."

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    Regular Member okboomer's Avatar
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    Not that I want to see a drug dealer get away, but I am glad that there is now an Appellate Court ruling upholding the issuance of a citation ends the contact. And that asserting our Rights does not satisfy probable cause for anything!

    Sounds like Mace needs to bone up on his laws and legal proceedures!
    cheers - okboomer
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    Exercising my 2A Rights does NOT make me a CRIMINAL! Infringing on the exercise of those rights makes YOU one!

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    okboomer wrote:
    Not that I want to see a drug dealer get away, but I am glad that there is now an Appellate Court ruling upholding the issuance of a citation ends the contact. And that asserting our Rights does not satisfy probable cause for anything!

    Sounds like Mace needs to bone up on his laws and legal proceedures!
    I had the same reaction. The drug dealer needs to be busted. But, the rest of us need protection from overzealous LEOs more.

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    eye95 wrote:
    okboomer wrote:
    Not that I want to see a drug dealer get away, but I am glad that there is now an Appellate Court ruling upholding the issuance of a citation ends the contact. And that asserting our Rights does not satisfy probable cause for anything!

    Sounds like Mace needs to bone up on his laws and legal proceedures!
    I had the same reaction. The drug dealer needs to be busted. But, the rest of us need protection from overzealous LEOs more.
    I have no problem with the drug dealer going free if it means we retain more measures of our liberty.
    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)

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    KBCraig wrote:
    Sweeney had a Canadian driver's license and was driving a rental car with the appropriate paperwork. This, and Sweeney's nervousness, aroused Craft's suspicion.
    I am far from a legal professional but I am wondering if he was actually an american citizen. If not, does the constitution apply to him?

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    According to the Obama administration, yes, they do ... that is why Gitmo detainees are going to be tried in NYC (maybe).

    Other than that,IDK IANAL ...
    cheers - okboomer
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    Lead, follow, or get out of the way

    Exercising my 2A Rights does NOT make me a CRIMINAL! Infringing on the exercise of those rights makes YOU one!

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    The Constitution must apply to everyone. What happens if it didn't? The cops could stop anyone for any reason and demand papers proving you're a citizen.

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    Constitutional protections should be afforded to everyone in the U.S. who is dealing with law enforcement, Americans or no.

    In another vein, since it isn't (or, at least, shouldn't be) a law enforcement issue, constitutional legal protections don't necessarily apply to those making war on the U.S. Prisoners taken during war, can be held until the end of hostilities without a trial. If the government chooses to make the combatant's actions a law enforcement issue (for example, if a prison term or the death penalty is sought), then the prisoner will receive due process protections similar to those residents get.

    IIRC, six Germans were tried, convicted, and hanged within about six months of arriving in the U.S. to do some nefarious stuff without the benefit of uniform. Almost all other Germans captured during WWII were held in prisons, without trial, for the duration of the war. Of course, some real nasties were tried as war criminals after the war was over, but that was not in our jurisdiction.

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    eye95 wrote:
    okboomer wrote:
    Not that I want to see a drug dealer get away, but I am glad that there is now an Appellate Court ruling upholding the issuance of a citation ends the contact. And that asserting our Rights does not satisfy probable cause for anything!

    Sounds like Mace needs to bone up on his laws and legal proceedures!
    I had the same reaction. The drug dealer needs to be busted. But, the rest of us need protection from overzealous LEOs more.
    + 1

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    KBCraig wrote:
    Craft asked asked if he could have a drug dog sniff the car. Sweeney again said no and began walking away. Craft grabbed Sweeney and said he was being detained. Craft then proceeded to have the dog perform a search of the car, eventually finding a bag filled with cocaine in the trunk. The court considered whether the police officer was justified in initiating the search.

    Although the court found little credibility in the precise 0.88 second timing for the following-too-closely allegation, the evidence appeared sufficient for the initial traffic stop. After Officer Craft presented the warning citation, however, the situation became less clear.

    "Officer Craft used physical force to detain appellant when he grabbed his arm and ordered him to stand in front of the patrol car," Presiding Judge Peter B. Swann wrote. "There was nothing consensual about the encounter at the time it occurred... the continued detention of appellant after he declined to allow the search was an additional seizure under the Fourth Amendment... The Fourth Amendment requires that an officer have some minimal, objective justification for the detention."
    What is it about"No" that Officer Craft didn't understand?


    Craft either:

    a) didn't understand the 4th Amendment, or

    b) didn't care about the 4th Amendment.

    He needs retraining.

    Does an officer who makes such a blatant mistake ever get some grief/career damage for doing so? Will Craft have to pay any significant price for his error? Anybody know?

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    sudden valley gunner wrote:
    eye95 wrote:
    okboomer wrote:
    Not that I want to see a drug dealer get away, but I am glad that there is now an Appellate Court ruling upholding the issuance of a citation ends the contact. And that asserting our Rights does not satisfy probable cause for anything!

    Sounds like Mace needs to bone up on his laws and legal proceedures!
    I had the same reaction. The drug dealer needs to be busted. But, the rest of us need protection from overzealous LEOs more.
    I have no problem with the drug dealer going free if it means we retain more measures of our liberty.
    Exactly!

    Detention when free to go after refusal of consent unreasonable

    The Lt. Columbo Gambit fails here, and the defendant refused to consent. The stop was over, and he was walking back to his car when the officer called out to him. After he refused consent, and started to walk back to his car, the officer grabbed his arm and detained him, and the officer called for a drug dog. The continuation of the stop was without reasonable suspicion. State v. Sweeney, 2010 Ariz. App. LEXIS 42 (March 30, 2010)*:
    P14 In $404,905.00, the Eighth Circuit held that the Fourth Amendment was not violated when an officer conducted a dog sniff of the defendant's vehicle after the traffic stop was completed but before the defendant's license had been returned to him. 182 F.3d at 648-49. There, the driver did not object to a sniff of his car's exterior. The court reasoned that a two-minute delay to complete a dog sniff was a de minimis intrusion on the defendant's liberty. Id. at 649. In Box, this court held that a brief post-traffic-stop detention to accommodate a dog sniff was de minimis. 205 Ariz. at 499, P 24, 73 P.3d at 630.

    P15 We cannot conclude that the post-traffic-stop detention in this case was de minimis. Unlike in $404,905.00 and Box, Officer Craft waited until the arrival of a second officer (whose presence he had not requested until after Appellant declined to consent to a search) before conducting the sniff. Moreover, Officer Craft used physical force to detain Appellant when he grabbed his arm and ordered him to stand in front of the patrol car. And unlike $404,905.00 and Box, there was nothing consensual about the encounter at the time it occurred. Because we conclude that the intrusion was not de minimis, we turn our examination to whether the duration of the detention was reasonable.

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    Oh, I get it. We now have an additional level or standard with regard to the 4th Amendment: de minimus.

    So, now it goes something like:

    • de minimus seizure
    • unreasonable
    • reasonable suspicion
    • probable cause
    • just cause we wanta

    Or, perhaps I'm being a little redundant. Perhaps de minimus and just cause we wanta are really the same standard.

    Anybody know where de minimus appears in the 4th Amendment? My copy doesn't mention it. What a pain it is to use an incomplete reference.
    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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    Even if it is a rental there is the possession aspect about the drugs.

    Rental vehicles are normally cleaned out before they get rented again.

    In my experience anyway.

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    Yeah, if you're driving the vehicle, you are in possession of it and everything inside of it. So if you're renting a car, it's caveat emptor, I guess. How many times on Cops have you seen someone say "this isn't my car" and then the police find guns/drugs/gimp suit and arrest that person? I mean, 99 out of a hundred people who claim ignorance of something illegal in the car are full of "it," but I'm sure more than one person has been busted for being "in possession" of something they didn't even know was there.

    For the record, I think this Canadian is one of the 99 out of a hundred, but once the citation was issued the stop should have ended.

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    Faceplant wrote:
    KBCraig wrote:
    Sweeney had a Canadian driver's license and was driving a rental car with the appropriate paperwork. This, and Sweeney's nervousness, aroused Craft's suspicion.
    I am far from a legal professional but I am wondering if he was actually an american citizen. If not, does the constitution apply to him?
    Yes, in our borders.



    okboomer wrote:
    According to the Obama administration, yes, they do ... that is why Gitmo detainees are going to be tried in NYC (maybe).

    Other than that,IDK IANAL ...
    Not "according to the Obama administration...."
    According to SCOTUS. I will try and find the specific.
    "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Benjamin Franklin

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    Faceplant wrote:
    KBCraig wrote:
    Sweeney had a Canadian driver's license and was driving a rental car with the appropriate paperwork. This, and Sweeney's nervousness, aroused Craft's suspicion.
    I am far from a legal professional but I am wondering if he was actually an american citizen. If not, does the constitution apply to him?
    The Constitution applies to everyone legally within our boundries. Citizenship has never been a requirement.

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    okboomer wrote:
    Not that I want to see a drug dealer get away, but I am glad that there is now an Appellate Court ruling upholding the issuance of a citation ends the contact. And that asserting our Rights does not satisfy probable cause for anything!

    Sounds like Mace needs to bone up on his laws and legal proceedures!
    Not to mention, he might actually not have placed the drugs there. Sure, that's the most likely scenario, but it's possible another customer did, or even an employee of the rental car company. All it would take is a less_than-thorough cleaning for something to be missed. The way the drug laws are, the man could potentially lose property, all on an illegal search and seizure.

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