Skip to comments.Police Officers Committing Perjury in Testimony About Consent Searches?
Posted on 01/17/2011 12:53:42 PM PST by BuckeyeTexan
Last week, a Florida appellate court handed down a fascinating decision affirming the denial of a suppression motion while making perfecting clear the courts strong suspicion that the officers testimony was false. The case is Ruiz v. State.
Ruiz is a drug case involving an alleged consent search at the suspects home. The officers testified one way; the defendant testified very differently. The officers testified that they approach Ruiz on the street and politely asked him for ID. Ruiz invited the officers to his home, where his ID was located, and asked the officers to come with him. When the officers entered the home with Ruiz, they saw drugs in plain view. RUiz then agreed to tell the police about all the drugs he had stored there. Ruiz testified that the officers approached him on teh street with guns drawn, ordered him to provide ID, and then told him that if he didnt produce ID they would arrest him. The officers then brought him to his home where they searched his entire apartment without his consent. The trial court found the officers testimony credible and the suspects testimony not credible.
The appellate court decision in Ruiz makes very clear that the appellate judges found the officers testimony hard to believe. Their testimony was not so inconceivable that the trial judges factual findings were clearly erroneous and could be overturned. But it was unlikely enough that the court used the opinion as a platform to talk about perjured police testimony and the need for trial judges to scrutinize police testimony to ensure the vitality of Fourth Amendment rights. From the opinion:
Cases like this one call into question the fairness of some trial court proceedings. On the pages of the record, the story told by the police is unbelievablean anonymous informant gives incriminating information; police surveillance uncovers no criminal conduct; the defendant is nonchalantly and casually approached by the police on the street; the defendant cooperatively leads the police back to his apartment to obtain his identification and invites the police inside, where a detective sees contraband in plain view, a fact certainly known to the defendant when he issued the invitation; after his arrest, the defendant tells the police about all the hidden drugs in the apartment.
Yet, as an appellate court, we must defer to the express finding of credibility made by the trial court. We were not there. We did not see the witnesses testify. If believed, the detectives testimony supports the courts ruling. This case demonstrates the importance of an independent judiciary. This case involves the search of a persons home, but were the factors bearing on the voluntariness of the consent scrutinized with special care? Without an unbiased and objective evaluation of testimony, judges devolve into rubber stamps for law enforcement. The judge may have punctiliously performed the duties of his office in this case, but, when considering the large number of consent cases that have come before us, the finding of consent in so many curious circumstances is a cause for concern.
Thanks to FourthAmendment.com for the link.
Not when you carry recording equipment. Also good to have your home recorded and have the equipment in an area others cannot get into. Like converting a nice metal fire cabinet that has strong locks and metal they can’t get into.
You would be surprised at the number of people who are arrested for possession of narcotics after they let an officer search their vehicle.
I grew up as the son of a LEO. Take my word for it, don’t talk to police... Ever, no matter what.
Deputy: "Good evening, I'm Deputy XXXX, with the XXXXX county sheriff's department"
Perp:"I guess you're here about my marijuana plants?"
Really had to twist the guy's arm. The deputy took the time to have him sign a consent to search form. Now if he hadn't, the pungent aroma of weed coming from the door and the drug dog alerting would have been enough to take him into custody and phone in for a warrant on the house, but he invited us in.
Smartest advice I have ever seen posted here. The police and their us and them attitude will burn you in a heart beat. And if you think a cop will not lie you are a damn fool.
Its best to have the video stored on a internet based server, or other server not at the same location. This protects it against a fire and also from their search.
If they decide they can use a cutting torch on the locked cabinet.
“You would be surprised at the number of people who are arrested for possession of narcotics after they let an officer search their vehicle.”
It’s not always the owner’s drugs though. I rented a car in Florida a few years ago and while unloading my luggage found enough pot to get me a good long stay in a friendly Florida jail. Always need to be careful about who you let in your car (that includes both friends and the police).
This is why many jurisdictions make it illegal to record the police. Also, a safe would not be good enough. Better would be a webcam that sends the stream to a server in a different state, which maybe turns on when the residence is entered, and with a discrete turn-off.
Over 1/2 the pot growing busts in Oregon are the result of “consent”.
That is why I told my boys when they first started driving that if they are stopped by the police for any reason that they were to politely tell the officer that he could not search their vehicle.