Fairness wears an orange shirt

It’s been a week since I sent a letter to McHenry County officials.  The issue of the shirts was on the agenda for yesterday’s meeting among building administrators.  I don’t know what happened. All I know is that the shirts are still up.

As promised, I have applied for a permit to put up something I’m calling the “Orange Shirt Project.”  The language in my permit was “inspired” by that for the current t-shirt display.  And by “inspired” I really mean that it copies their permit… nearly word-for-word.  I don’t see how it can be denied.  My permit requests permission to begin the display on 12/1.  This should give me time to get it all organized.

Jail is not a joke.  This is not a joke.  Justice is not a joke.  So, I’m looking for some help.  I need to hear from those people whose lives have been negatively impacted by bogus allegations of wrongdoing.  Maybe you were arrested for a domestic battery you did not commit?  Did you ever get kicked out of your house by an order-of-protection based on lies?

I want to hear from you.  This stuff happens all the time.  Here is our opportunity to “educate” the public.

My goal would be to provide several of you with an opportunity to put a “human face” on the problem of being wrongfully accused.  I can provide orange shirts (matching the orange shirts given to McHenry County inmates) and a sharpie to design the shirt.  Your shirt will not display your name or anything that might identify you. It will only have your message.  The message you think the world needs to hear.

I do not want people with current cases pending.  I think it is impossibly unfair that the shirts hanging now may have been made by witnesses on pending cases (we do not know).  It would be just as unfair for us to do the same. So, we will not.

If you might be interested, please send me an email (matt@haiduklaw.com).  I think we can put together a moving, educational display.    Let me know if you would like to help.

Consider this required reading

I just came across this page and love what I’ve read so far. Most of the criminal law stuff on the ‘net is fluff and marketing. Are you really getting “case updates” off of blogs instead of official pages? I didn’t think so. This guy is a straight shooter.

http://criminaldefenseblog.blogspot.com/

I don’t know how to set up one of those bookmark things. I’m posting this so that I can always find the link.

Soul Searching – Why do you let them search?

Most misdemeanor drug cases start with a traffic stop. Many felony cases do as well. It make sense that the lawman would pull over a car for a traffic offense. What doesn’t make sense (to me, anyway) is that the majority of traffic-turned-drug stops are the result of people in the car giving consent to search. I would be a very wealthy man if I had $10 for every conversation at my office that went roughly like this:

Me: Ok. Then what happened?
Accused: The officer asked if he could search.

Me: What did you tell him?
Accused: I told them he could.

Me: Why did you tell him he could search if you thought there might be contraband in the car?
Accused: I didn’t want to look guilty.

You think politely telling the police they cannot search makes you look guilty? Know what really makes you look guilty?  Standing on the side of the road in handcuffs while the police pull out 10 pounds of weed from your car.  It’s not possible to look more guilty.

The idea that people don’t want to “look” guilty is actually a bit disturbing.  Long before any of us were on this planet, the people responsible for founding our nation weighed in on searches by the government.  You know what they said about looking guilty?  Here’s what they said:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

That, of course, is the text of the Fourth Amendment.  The drafters of the Bill of Rights didn’t think you would look guilty for refusing a search.  So, to whom do you think you look guilty?  The Police?  Guess what? He already thinks you’re guilty, that’s why he wants to search.

In many cases you have no ability to keep the government out of your life.  In everything from how long your lawn may be to whether you may put a boat in the water without registration, you don’t really have a “right”.  Unless there is a warrant, exigent circumstances, or some other exception, the Fourth Amendment says you do have a “right” when it comes to searches.  Americans pitched British Tea in the harbor and then fought and died for the freedom to painstakingly draft and ratify the text of the Fourth Amendment.  My experience is that people are a lot more willing to gloss that over in the face of a request from the local patrol officer.

The next part of the conversation re-enacted above has me talking to the person about their specific case, and what they should have or could have done.  I can’t give out general advice over the internet to cover each specific police interaction, so don’t even think about taking my musings here as advice for what you should do in your specific situation.  Doing so would be silly in light of the fact that I do fee consultations, anyway.  Just call me.  The best general advice I could give out is that if you ever get asked by the police if they can perform a search, it would be wise to call a lawyer for advice.  Right then and there.

I will, however, say this.  I have nothing illegal in my car.  I have nothing illegal  in my house.  Plain and simple, I have nothing illegal.  If the police ask me to search, though, my answer is “No”.  I don’t care what they think of that.