Category Archives: ACLU

Know Your Rights When Encountering Law Enforcement

Know Your Rights

If government agents question you, it is important to understand your rights. You should be careful about what you say when approached by federal, state or local law enforcement officials. If you give answers, they can be used against you in a criminal, immigration, or civil case.

Over the past two years, the FBI, for example, has significantly increased its use of “voluntary” interviews – especially within specific racial, ethnic, and religious communities – often encouraging interviewees to serve as informants in their communities.

The ACLU’s Know Your Rights booklet provides effective and useful guidance in a user-friendly question and answer format. The booklet addresses what rights you have when you are stopped, questioned, arrested, or searched by federal, state or local law enforcement officers. This booklet is for citizens and non-citizens with extra information for non-citizens in a separate section. Another section covers what can happen to you at airports and other points of entry into the United States. The last section discusses concerns you may have related to your charitable contributions and religious or political beliefs. The booklet tells you about your basic rights. It is not a substitute for legal advice. You should contact an attorney if you have been arrested or believe that your rights have been violated.

 

This free booklet is available in English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Urdu, and Farsi. Booklets in these languages are available for download below.

Booklet broken down into its six parts
> Questioning
> Stops and Arrests
> Searches and Warrants
> Additional information for non-citizens
> Rights at airports and other ports of entry into the United States
> Charitable donations and religious practices

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DOJ: We Don’t Need Warrants For E-mail, Facebook chats…

The new threat to Americans is the government itself.  The DOJ thinks that it is above the law and the Constitution that rules this land.  The United States Department of Justice and FBI believe they don’t need a search warrant to review Americans, emails, Facebook chats, twitter, direct messages and other private files.  I will say it again.  Enough is enough.  We the ‘People’ need to take a stand against the government that no longer serves the people, but is more out to rule and dictate the people by illegal means.

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The headlines in today’s news are very frightening.  In this day and age where the government is trying to take our guns, police are violating our rights and the government fails to obey and adhere to the Constitution itself.  These are scary times my friend.

The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI believe they don’t need a search warrant to review Americans’ e-mails, Facebook chats, Twitter direct messages, and other private files, internal documents reveal.

Government documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and provided to CNET show a split over electronic privacy rights within the Obama administration, with Justice Department prosecutors and investigators privately insisting they’re not legally required to obtain search warrants for e-mail. The IRS, on the other hand, publicly said last month that it would abandon a controversial policy that claimed it could get warrantless access to e-mail correspondence.

The U.S. attorney for Manhattan circulated internal instructions, for instance, saying a subpoena — a piece of paper signed by a prosecutor, not a judge — is sufficient to obtain nearly “all records from an ISP.” And the U.S. attorney in Houston recently obtained the “contents of stored communications” from an unnamed Internet service provider without securing a warrant signed by a judge first.

“We really can’t have this patchwork system anymore, where agencies get to decide on an ad hoc basis how privacy-protective they’re going to be,” says Nathan Wessler, an ACLU staff attorney specializing in privacy topics who obtained the documents through open government laws. “Courts and Congress need to step in.”

The Justice Department’s disinclination to seek warrants for private files stored on the servers of companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft continued even after a federal appeals court in 2010 ruled that warrantless access to e-mail violates the Fourth Amendment. A previously unreleased version of an FBI manual (PDF), last updated two-and-a-half years after the appellate ruling, says field agents “may subpoena” e-mail records from companies “without running afoul of” the Fourth Amendment.

The department did not respond to queries from CNET Tuesday. The FBI said in a statement that:

 

 In all investigations, the FBI obtains evidence in accordance with the laws and Constitution of the United States, and consistent with Attorney General guidelines. Our field offices work closely with U.S. Attorney’s Office to adhere to the legal requirements of their particular districts as set forth in case law or court decisions/precedent.

 

Not all U.S. attorneys have attempted to obtain Americans’ stored e-mail correspondence without a warrant. The ACLU persuaded a judge to ask whether warrantless e-mail access has taken place in six of the 93 U.S. Attorneys’ offices — including the northern California office that’s prosecuted an outsize share of Internet cases. The answer, according to assistant U.S. attorney Christopher Hardwood, was “no.”

Still, the position taken by other officials — including the authors of the FBI’s official surveillance manual — puts the department at odds with a growing sentiment among legislators who insist that Americans’ private files should be protected from warrantless search and seizure. They say the same Fourth Amendment privacy standards that require police to obtain search warrants before examining hard drives in someone’s living room, or a physical letter stored in a filing cabinet, should apply.

After the IRS’s warrantless e-mail access policy came to light last month, a dozen Republican and Democratic senators rebuked the agency. Their letter (PDF) opposing warrantless searches by the IRS and signed by senators including Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said: “We believe these actions are a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures.”

Steven Miller, the IRS’ acting commissioner, said during a Senate hearing that the policy would be changed for e-mail. But he left open the possibility that non-email data — Google Drive and Dropbox files, private Facebook and Twitter messages, and so on — could be accessed without a warrant.

Albert Gidari, a partner at the Perkins Coie law firm who represents technology companies, said since the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ 2010 ruling in U.S. v. Warshak, the Justice Department has generally sought court warrants for the content of e-mail messages, but is far less inclined to take that step for non-email files.

Before the Warshak decision, the general rule since 1986 had been that police could obtain Americans’ e-mail messages that were more than 180 days old with an administrative subpoena or what’s known as a 2703(d) order, both of which lack a warrant’s probable cause requirement and are less privacy protective. Some e-mail providers, including Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Facebook, but not all, have taken the position after Warshak that the Fourth Amendment mandates warrants for e-mail all over the country.

The 180-day rule stems from the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which was adopted in the era of telephone modems, BBSs, and UUCP links, and long before gigabytes of e-mail stored in the cloud was ever envisioned. Since then, the appeals court ruled in Warshak, technology had changed dramatically: “Since the advent of e-mail, the telephone call and the letter have waned in importance, and an explosion of Internet-based communication has taken place. People are now able to send sensitive and intimate information, instantaneously, to friends, family, and colleagues half a world away… By obtaining access to someone’s e-mail, government agents gain the ability to peer deeply into his activities.”

A phalanx of companies, including Amazon, Apple, AT&T, eBay, Google, Intel, Microsoft, and Twitter, as well as liberal, conservative, and libertarian advocacy groups, have asked Congressto update ECPA to make it clear that law enforcement needs a warrant to access private communications and the locations of mobile devices.

In November, a Senate panel approved the e-mail warrant requirement, and acted again last month. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat whose district includes the heart of Silicon Valley,introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives.

The political pressure, coupled with public petitions and increased adoption of cloud-based services, has had an effect. In 2011, James Baker, the associate deputy attorney general,warned that requiring search warrants to obtain stored e-mail could have an “adverse impact” on criminal investigations. By March 2013, however, Elana Tyrangiel, an acting assistant attorney general, indicated that the department would acquiesce on some privacy reforms.

“They dropped their opposition in Congress, but they’re going to try to wiggle out from under the Fourth Amendment whenever possible,” says the ACLU’s Wessler. “They probably realize that they couldn’t figure out a way to respond to hard questions from Congress anymore.”

Separately, the New York Times reported Tuesday evening that the Obama administration may embrace the FBI’s proposal for a federal law mandating that tech companies build in backdoors for surveillance. CNET reported last year that the FBI has asked the companies not to oppose such legislation, and that the FBI has been building a case for a new law by collecting examples of how communications companies have stymied government agencies.

Last week, FBI former counterterrorism agent Tim Clemente told CNN that, in national security investigations, the bureau can access records of a previously-made telephone call. “All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not,” he said. Clementeadded in an appearance the next day that, thanks to the “intelligence community” — a likely reference to the National Security Agency — “there’s a way to look at digital communications in the past.”

Source

 

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Bikers Claim They’re Getting Profiled

Initially, charges of racial profiling by law enforcement were brought largely by African-American drivers. But in Maricopa County, Arizona, it’s Latinos who say they’re the victims of race-based policing. Now there’s another group that says they’re being singled out by cops despite their claims they have done nothing wrong. Bikers, individuals who belong to “clubs” like the Hell’s Angels are crying foul and want their legislative representatives to do something. In Washington State, where the law enforcement community is mourning multiple officers killed in the line of duty, legislators working on the state’s House Public Safety Committee heard from scores of individuals about what they say is a travesty of justice.

The bikers, the kind who don leather and “get their motors running,” told the committee that they have been targeted by police, stopped for no apparent reason, searched, questioned and generally harassed simply because they ride motorcycles. The bikers say it’s profiling plain and simple.

They say it’s similar to charges made by predominantly young black drivers that they are singled out by police. It’s illegal to profile minorities, so it should be illegal to profile motorcycle riders, the bikers contend. “It does occur,” Rep. Steve Kirby, D-Tacoma, the sponsor of a bill to outlaw profiling of motorcyclists, told The Spokesman-Review newspaper. “It’s just wrong and it has to stop.”

The Washington State Patrol is particularly apt to pull them over. Those charges were leveled by David Devereaux, of Tacoma. He is a member of the Outsiders Motorcycle Club.

When bikers showed up last year for their annual lobbying day at the state house, a state trooper took down all their license plate numbers, Devereaux said. The bikers videotaped the trooper and posted it on YouTube to back up their claim of harassment. But Capt. Jason Berry, head of government and media relations for the State Patrol, denied that troopers profile bikers or any other group.

The agency did collect license information on all motorcycles at Black Thursday in 2009 because some outlaw bikers were “showing off colors and paraphernalia.” But Capt. Berry says that was standard practice for everyone that showed up. It was just a precaution in case “something bad were to happen,” Berry said.

When nothing did, “the information was thrown away.” In addition, the Washington State P says it has no problem with Kirby’s bill because the agency does not profile and is proud of it. Some committee members tried to flesh out major differences between various types of biker clubs.

Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, a police officer when he’s not a legislator, asked if there weren’t legal biker gangs and illegal gangs.

“Weren’t the Hells Angels running methamphetamine out of California and into the Northwest a few years back?”

But there are many types of motorcycle organizations, from Christian bikers to stockbroker bikers according to Mr. Devereaux.

The Hells Angel stereotype sells movie tickets, but it’s a fraction of the larger group.

“We’re working Americans. I’m raising two children. I’ve been married for 15 years,” he told The Spokesman-Review.

Motorcycle Clubs Claim Profiling In California

Say that they are good people and should not be targeted for ‘undue’ law enforcement attention

OROVILLE, Calif. — While admitting many of them deliberately foster a “bad boy” persona, members of several motorcycle clubs went before the Butte County Board of Supervisors today to say they don’t deserve to be treated as criminals, and resent it.

With their Harley-Davidson motorcycles parked in front of the county Administration Building, and wearing vests declaring themselves to be “Americans,” “Bishops,” “Just Brothers” and others, they came before the supervisors Tuesday to say they are good people and shouldn’t be targeted for undue law enforcement attention.

Dave Gilbert, 71, president of the United Bikers of Butte County, said he rides with the Just Brothers, which he firmly said is not a gang.

He said several motorcycle clubs in Butte County do rides that are fundraisers for a host of charities.

“I am not a gang guy. I’ve never been arrested in my life. I’m a good guy,” said Gilbert.

He and the others spoke during the public comment section of the meeting, when people can talk on any topic not on the agenda. The board cannot not take any action on what was said.

Gilbert and his colleagues said they find themselves being stopped by deputies and other law enforcement who want to take their pictures, particularly pictures of their tattoos and the bike’s license plates.

He went on to say he had talked to Butte County Sheriff Jerry Smith about the situation and he was “very nice.”

Bonnie Salmon, who owns Scooters Cafe on Highway 70 with her husband, Dan, said in the last month she has seen officers stop her clients in the cafe’s parking lot.

She said the riders were being “profiled.” She said the bike riders were being asked about their tattoos and patches.

Her husband said their business has dropped off since officers stopped bike riders at the cafe.

Bill McPhillips, an attorney from Canoga Park, said he was there representing the clubs. He said motorcycle clubs are places where a segment of “blue collar workers” tend to congregate.

“They have a certain style. They are easy to be picked out. They are being singled out because of the way they chose to express themselves. That is completely un-American,” said the attorney.

“It is true, bikers like to cultivate the ‘bad boy’ image, but you’ve got to know they are your neighbors,” said McPhillips.

The attorney and several of the bikers said the effort to come to the board had begun a dialogue that should lead to greater understanding.

Paradise Supervisor Kim Yamaguchi said he belongs to a cycle club that is affiliated with his church.

Supervisor Steve Lambert, who chairs the board, said “I think a bridge has been built here.”

Sheriff Smith, who was present during the presentation, said outside the meeting, “We’re not harassing anybody.”

He said his staff has noted an upswing in the number of people on motorcycles wearing club colors that “we can’t account for.”

Smith said there has been some “misconceptions, misunderstandings perhaps,” and he hoped his office and the club members can come to some common ground.

Source

Study Admits Yellow Times Too Short at Intersections

A report by state transportation officials released last week tacitly admitted drivers are being shortchanged when the light at an intersection turns yellow. The National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) released its guidelines on how municipalities can best time their signals for safety. The net result is that most intersections would see yellows extended by roughly half-a-second if the recommendations were adopted.


Signal timing has become a highly political issue due to lobbying by the National Motorists Association and the 2001 release of a report on the issue by the US House Majority Leader (view report). Various changes to the signal timing formula and other techniques have been used so that yellows are roughly one second shorter in the current Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) formula compared to what the prior formula used in 1976 generated. The states of Ohio and Georgia responded in the past three years by enacting laws mandating an extra second of yellow, resulting in a documented reduction in red light running. The NCHRP report admits the benefit of longer yellows.


“Increasing the yellow change interval to the duration calculated by current ITE guidelines has been shown to reduce red-light running occurrences between 36 and 50 percent,” the report explained.


As the report detailed, there is no one standard system for determining yellow timing. Some states, such as Virginia, mandate the ITE methodology for intersections that have red light cameras. Other states spell out minimum standards in their regulations as codified in their state Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). California, for example, says a 30 MPH intersection must have a yellow of no less than 3.2 seconds. A specific provision of California’s red light camera law reminds traffic engineers that they may implement longer yellows, but not shorter yellows. Other states use a rule-of-thumb where the yellow duration is determined by dividing the speed limit by 10, so that a 30 MPH intersection has a 3.0 second yellow. The appendix of the new NCHRP report suggests the same 30 MPH intersection should have a 3.7 second minimum yellow time. For a 40 MPH intersection, California’s minimum is 3.9 seconds, the rule-of-thumb is 4.0 seconds while NCHRP suggests it should be no less than 4.5 seconds.


NCHRP has not modified the current ITE formula to arrive at these figures. Instead, the researchers concede municipalities do not measure the actual speed of traffic when deciding how much time motorists need to stop safely when approaching an intersection. Instead, local engineers commonly plug the posted speed limit into an equation that needs the “85th percentile” speed to work properly. The 85th percentile is a measure of how fast at least 85 percent of traffic is flowing. The researchers also concede that traffic engineers tend to deliberately post speed limits far below the actual speed of traffic. This results in yellow times that are too short, as the researchers documented by studying actual intersections.


“For 3,632 vehicles sampled, the mean approach speed typically exceeded the speed limit at locations with a posted speed limit of 35 mph and below,” the report determined. “However, at nearly all locations, the 85th percentile approach speed was found to exceed the posted speed limit… Therefore, speed limit in itself does not provide an accurate estimate of 85th percentile speed.”


To remedy this, NCHRP recommends calculating yellow times at by adding 7 MPH to the posted speed limit to more closely approximate the actual speed of traffic. The NCHRP research was conducted by the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies and sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration.


An excerpt from Appendix A of the report appears in a 650k PDF file at the source link below.

Excerpt: Guidelines for Timing Yellow and All-Red Intervals (National Cooperative Highway Research Program, 10/28/2012)

Red Light Cameras Become Hot Campaign Topic in Texas Town

Red light camera proponents on League City, Texas city council are targeted for defeat by photo ticketing opponents.

Three city council seats are up for grabs in League City, Texas and the candidates are lining up in opposition to the use of automated ticketing machines. The Houston suburb is one of five municipalities in which voters today will have an opportunity to ban or recommend a ban on the use of automated ticketing machines.

A League City resident attempted to circulate an immediate ban on the use of red light cameras on the November 6 ballot, and city leaders responded by proposing their own camera ban initiative that would only take effect in 2014 after the contract with Redflex Traffic Systems runs out. Redflex filed a lawsuit in an attempt to block the measure from coming before voters. Councilman Mick Phalen, a vocal supporter of keeping that contract, is looking to defend his council seat against challenger Heidi Thiess.

“So far we, our community, have been fined $5 million by Redflex, a company out of Australia,” Heidi Thiess said during a city council meeting in August. “We now know that accidents are up two-thirds… So if Redflex would like to go to the mat with us and say that they have made our intersections safer, I beg to differ. I urge you stand strong against this company from Australia that’s trying to come and tell us what we may and may not vote on in our community.”

Accident data suggest (view statistics) the cameras have failed to reduce accidents in League City. That is one of the reasons camera foe Geri Bentley is looking to oust incumbent Councilman Phyllis Sanborn, the last remaining council member who voted in favor of the red light cameras.

“I believe that we should be more concerned with League City residents’ safety and less concerned about lining the pockets of select individuals who work with and for Redflex,” Bentley wrote on her campaign website. “The voters should have the ultimate decision.”

Todd Kinsey opposes red light cameras and is seeking an open council seat. Calling the red light camera program a “cash cow,” Kinsey said he early voted late last month, casting a “yes” vote in favor of the red light camera ban.

“Many people are saying this is the most important election in our lifetime,” Kinsey wrote. “While that may be a slight exaggeration it is certainly the most important election since Reagan defeated Carter.

Byron Schirmbeck, director of League City Camera Scam believes League City’s traffic camera vendor has already conceded the election.

“I don’t think Redflex has done anything to influence the vote down here, I haven’t heard about any mailings and I haven’t seen any signs up,” Schirmbeck told TheNewspaper. “I guess we will see how big the ‘wide circle of friends’ Redflex sales manager and League City resident Lee Buckels has on election night.”

Last year, Dennis OKeeffe won a council seat by running on a “no red light cameras” platform.

Colorado: Court Endorses Handcuffing of Innocent Motorists During Robbery Search

Judge rules search for bank robber in Aurora, Colorado justifies holding 29 innocent motorists at gun point for nearly two hours.

Police in Aurora, Colorado did nothing wrong when they handcuffed dozens of motorists and held them at gunpoint for an hour and forty-five minutes, according to a ruling issued last month. US District Court Judge William J. Martinez refused to play the role of a Monday morning quarterback in deciding whether the controversial mass detention violated the Fourth Amendment rights of drivers who had been going about their business on a Saturday afternoon.

On June 2, police were responded to the robbery of a Wells Fargo Bank. A masked man waved a gun in one hand and an air horn in another, ordering customers to get down on the floor as he scooped stacks of cash into a bag. He walked out, but a GPS tracker on the money revealed his location within a thirty-foot radius. Police had a better scanner that could narrow the range to five feet. Officers noticed at around 3:52pm that day, the signal showed the robber had stopped on Greenwood Drive, but they did not respond before he began moving again three minutes later. At 4pm, Officer Kristopher McDowell followed the signal to the intersection of Iliff Avenue and Buckley Road and order all twenty cars in the vicinity to stop. Thirty more officers soon arrived.

Twenty-nine drivers and passengers were ordered to remain in their cars without moving, holding their hands outside the window of their cars while officers trained their guns on them. At no point was anyone allowed to use a restroom, contact families or tend to young children in the backseat of vehicles. Nobody was informed about the reason they were being detained.

At first, only a few were ordered out of their vehicles with their hands up at gunpoint. Police noticed one of them, Christian Paetsch, who turned out to be the prime suspect, was seen making furtive motions within his Ford Expedition SUV. An hour into the stop, the handheld GPS unit was brought to the Expedition where it gave the strongest response of any car in the area.

At this point, occupants of seventeen other cars were ordered out using “high-risk” techniques that left all adults not traveling with children handcuffed at gunpoint. By 5:28pm, Officer Alfred Roberson looked through the Expedition’s window and saw a bundle of cash in the front passenger seat. About fifteen minutes later, the innocent drivers were freed after crime scene photographers finished documenting the area. Paetsch was taken into custody and his SUV was found to have a 9mm Glock, a .22-caliber Walther handgun, a wig, an air horn, gloves and $22,956 in cash with an embedded GPS transponder.

Paetsch wanted the evidence thrown out because the search was conducted without a warrant. Judge Martinez rejected his motion, citing the Supreme Court’s precedents governing drunk-driving roadblocks. The court found it was reasonable to believe the dangerous bank robber was among the vehicles stopped, but it went further to back the tactics used by Aurora police.

“The court questions whether such invasive techniques were necessary to use on all twenty vehicles, as opposed to, for example, only the two vehicles in which occupants were observed moving around inside their vehicles and otherwise acting suspiciously,” Judge Martinez wrote. “However, the fact of the matter is that the officers had only very vague suspect information, such that it was reasonable to err on the side of caution and assume that the robber could be any of the stopped adults. Further, the fact that the court questions whether less invasive measures could have been utilized is, under the circumstances, unwarranted second-guessing of the officers’ actions here, given that they were attempting to apprehend a dangerous felon in real time.”

Under the high court’s precedent, roadblocks may only detain motorists not suspected of any wrongdoing for a “brief” time. Judge Martinez also brushed aside this concern, insisting the actions were reasonable under the unusual circumstances.

“The court is to some extent troubled by the overall invasiveness of the traffic stop, but not enough so to hold that the officers’ overall actions were unconstitutional under the circumstances,” Judge Martinez wrote.

Ohio: Police Cannot Stop a Motorist That Catches Their Attention

A police officer may not stop and interrogate a driver merely because a vehicle’s out-of-state license plates “caught his attention,” the Ohio Court of Appeals ruled earlier this month. In a split 2-1 decision, the court held the March 19, 2011 traffic stop of Bret Browning was improper because Copley Township Police Officer Ryan Price had no reason to think a crime was about to be committed. At 12:30am that day, Price noticed Browning standing beside a car on a private drive, then drive off.

“I didn’t know if the person was taking a leak,” Officer Price testified. “If they were checking the mail. Getting the trash cans. Stopped because they were lost. Being it was an out-of-state plate, pulled in there to check direction or what, but when he got in the car and drove to the back — I know it’s a dead end, so I figured, well, if they’re legit, maybe they’ll turn around and come back. So I went down the road a little bit, sat in my cruiser, and sure enough the car came back out, got on State Route 21, went southbound.”

As the car hit the highway, Price turned on his overhead lights and performed a traffic stop. Browning appeared intoxicated and refused to undergo sobriety testing, so he was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). A trial judge found Browning guilty, but Browning filed an appeal seeking to throw out the initial traffic stop as a Fourth Amendment violation. Under court precedent, a patrolman must cite specific facts that lead him to believe a criminal act is in progress.

Here, Officer Price merely found Browning’s vehicle “suspicious,” but he had no reason to think Browning might be involved in a burglary or any other particular crime.

“Even though Officer Price did not believe that Mr. Browning was engaged in criminal activity, he still initiated the traffic stop,” Judge Carla D. Moore wrote for the appellate majority. “As stated above, an officer’s reliance upon a mere hunch is not sufficient to justify a stop.”

Judge Beth Whitmore disagreed, insisting the totality of the circumstances supported the stop. Officer Price knew there were no out-of-state residents at those homes, and it was late at night.

“Based on his observations, Officer Price reasonably could have concluded that the driver was not there for a legitimate purpose (e.g., visiting a resident of one of the homes) and had pulled his car forward in hopes of evading Officer Price,” Whitmore wrote in her dissent.

With the majority ordering the evidence suppressed, Browning’s conviction will be overturned. A copy of the decision is available in a 60k PDF file at the source link below. Source

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DALLAS COUNTY DEPUTY SUSPENED WITHOUT PAY

For seizing biker’s camera. The Dallas County Sheriff’s office issued a 38-day suspension today to Deputy James Westbrook after footage showed him seizing a camera from a motorcycle rider. The case received a large amount of media coverage in the days following the incident which took place over the Memorial Day weekend.

The majority of outspoken commentators freely acknowledge that they sympathize with the challenges that law enforcement personnel encounter; however, it was not justifiable for Westbrook to seize the camera that belonged to rider Chris Moore.

View slideshow: Dallas County deputy suspended without pay for seizing biker’s camera
The video has been viewed almost 500,000 times on YouTube at this link and Westbrook is on camera issuing this comment to Moore:
“The reason you’re being pulled over is because I’m gonna take your camera and we’re gonna use it as evidence of in the crimes that have been committed by other bikers.”

Legal experts state that Westbrook’s reason does not constitute probable cause to make a traffic stop nor is it illegal to wear a camera on a helmet.
Westbrook ended up arresting Moore and then trying to slam the door of the patrol car on the leg of the biker before taking him to jail. Moore was finally released and issued a ticket for an obstructed license plate.

Moore’s attorney, Hunter Biederman, is prepared to take the case to court even though an obstructed license plate is a small matter, it is more to address the principle of the situation in how Westbrook opted to handle himself.

Of further note is that eight of the 38 days of suspension are due to Westbrook leaving a drunk driver at the jail without booking him before going out on the call relating to motorcyclists riding on I-35.

Westbrook does have the right to appeal his suspension.

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Should Foreign Hells Angels Be Allowed in the United States?

How Much More Do We Have To Take?

The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club has filed a lawsuit against several federal agency heads — including Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — claiming the group’s foreign members have been wrongfully banned from entering the United States.

The federal lawsuit contends that several foreign Hells Angels members applied for visas last year to attend one of the club’s major events in New Hampshire, and they were denied, based on their membership with the Hells Angels.

The lawsuit recognizes that Homeland Security and the Department of State made an agreement to define the Hells Angels as a “known criminal organization” in the Department of State’s Foreign Affairs Manual — thus making them ineligible to obtain a visa.

But, according to the lawsuit, “[m]any members” of the Hells Angels don’t have criminal records, and the club says it’s not a “criminal organization.”

Well, they are a “street gang” in Maricopa County — at least, according to disbarred and disgraced ex-County Attorney Andrew Thomas.

The Hells Angels are ultimately seeking a permanent injunction against the rules that are keeping its members from getting visas — which would likely apply to other biker gangs listed by the State Department, like the Outlaws, Bandidos, and Mongols, as well as street gangs like MS 13 and the 18th Street gang.

That said, should the feds let the Angels in?

Cast your vote below:

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