Saturday, March 25, 2006

A Lesson to the Supremes

In a verbal poke in the eye at Chief Justice Roberts, and Justice Scalia and Thomas, the Supreme Court decided this week in a 5-3 decision that evidence without a warrant is inadmissible in the court of law; and as long as one occupant does not give permission to police, it doesn’t matter if another party does so.

Scott F. Randolph of Americus, Ga., was charged of cocaine possession after his wife called the police and the officers searched the home, even though Randolph expressly negated his wife’s prior permission. Evidence was stricken from the trial.

The Washington Times wrote that "the state trial court [had] denied his motion to supress the evidence," but the Georgia Court of Appeals and Georgia Supreme Court overturned the decision and ruled that a warrantless search is invalid if one occupant denies permission it, whether a second occupant gives consent or not.

The New York Times reported Souter wrote for the majority: "Scott Randolph's refusal is clear, and nothing in the record justifies the search on grounds independent of Janet Randolph's consent," Justice David H. Souter wrote for the majority. He was joined by Justices John Paul Stevens, Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.”
Chief Justice Roberts said the result of the majority's conclusion "is a complete lack of practical guidance for the police in the field, let alone for the lower courts." Justice Antonin Scalia joined the chief justice's dissent and wrote one of his own, as did
Justice Clarence Thomas.
Roberts argued the majority ruling failed to consider how the finding might affect future police action if “a third household occupant” becomes embroiled in a similar situation.

In spite of his lofty rank, Justice Souter bluntly told the second to newest justice, “We decide the case before us, not a different one."

Ouch…Now there is a strict constructionist!

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