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Student mistakenly held on drug charge settles with Phila.
The Philadelphia inquirer ^ | Jan. 04, 2007 | John Shiffman

Posted on 01/04/2007 4:58:32 AM PST by grjr21

A Bryn Mawr College student wrongly jailed for three weeks on drug charges by Philadelphia police has settled her civil-rights case for $180,000.

Janet H. Lee, now a senior, was arrested at Philadelphia International Airport in 2003 after screeners found three condoms filled with white powder in her carry-on and city police said field tests showed that the substances likely contained opium and cocaine.

Lee was held in lieu of $500,000 bond for 21 days, until further drug testing proved that her unlikely story - that the powder was just flour - was true.

As part of an exam ritual in her dorm, Lee had filled the condoms with flour to make a phallic toy that freshmen squeezed to reduce stress. She had found it so funny that she had packed them to take home to California to show friends after exams.

Lee's civil-rights case against the city had been scheduled for trial today in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.

"Everyone wants their day in court, so it was difficult" to settle, in part because she will never know why the flour initially tested positive for drugs, she said yesterday.

"It's like everyone was at fault, but no one was responsible," Lee said.

At least, she said, the settlement means she will not have to testify about what it is like to spend three weeks in a city jail for a crime she did not commit, particularly after spending much of the last three years working to heal herself psychologically.

"Part of going to trial would have meant that I have to acknowledge losses and admit that this had damaged me," she said. "I didn't want to have to admit that."

Lynne Sitarski, chief deputy of the city solicitor's civil-rights division, said the city "is not admitting wrongdoing or liability."

The settlement, the city lawyer said, was "in the best interests of the city."

Lee, now 21, was not physically injured while jailed, said her lawyer, Jeffrey Ibrahim.

One of the settlement provisions allows Lee to meet with city police to discuss what happened.

"Leadership is going to sit down and listen with her to see what went on," Ibrahim said.

Lee has heard criticism that carrying white substances onto an airplane was a foolhardy act. But, she said yesterday, she did not know at the time that drug dealers often carry drugs in condoms. "I was naive, really stupid," she said.

Nonetheless, her lawyer said, the police drug test should not have detected drugs.

"Under the circumstances, something went terribly wrong," Ibrahim said. "We're trying to ensure that nothing like that ever happens again."

Asked if others had successfully sued or settled claims involving false-positive drug tests in Philadelphia in the last two or three years, Sitarski said that no one had.

Lee, a comparative literature major, said she planned to use the settlement money to pay for graduate school, though she has not determined what kind of graduate work she will pursue. Law school is an unlikely option, she said.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: keystonecops; phila
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1 posted on 01/04/2007 4:58:34 AM PST by grjr21
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To: grjr21
she did not know at the time that drug dealers often carry drugs in condoms. "I was naive, really stupid," she said.

Well Miss Lee at least there is one thing you've learned in college
2 posted on 01/04/2007 4:59:11 AM PST by grjr21
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To: grjr21

"... Lee, a comparative literature major, said she planned to use the settlement money to pay for graduate school, though she has not determined what kind of graduate work she will pursue."

And what kind of career will she pursue? Teaching others comparative literature???

Oh well. I won't have to worry about interviewing/hiring her.


3 posted on 01/04/2007 5:03:00 AM PST by Blueflag (Res ipsa loquitor)
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To: grjr21

The police should have been able to determine what it was in far less time than 3 weeks.

And where were her parents? Why wasn't she out on bail the next day?


4 posted on 01/04/2007 5:03:28 AM PST by DB
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To: grjr21
Lee had filled the condoms with flour to make a phallic toy that freshmen squeezed to reduce stress.

Youth is SO wasted on the young.
5 posted on 01/04/2007 5:04:12 AM PST by Thrownatbirth (.....when the sidewalks are safe for the little guy.)
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To: grjr21
there is one thing you've learned in college

Yep, she learned that the Drug Warriors are tyrants who have the power to ingnore the Constitution and jail someone who broke no laws.

6 posted on 01/04/2007 5:05:22 AM PST by Squawk 8888 (Pluto's been marginalized! Call the ACLU!)
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To: DB

$500K bond... maybe her folks didn't have $50K to put down to get her out with a bondsman... Just a guess.


7 posted on 01/04/2007 5:06:20 AM PST by TheBattman (I've got TWO QUESTIONS for you....)
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To: DB
Her parents lived in California while she went to College in the Phila region , if IIRC it took them a couple of days to get out to her and were never able to come up with the half million dollar bail.
8 posted on 01/04/2007 5:08:34 AM PST by grjr21
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To: grjr21

Generally they only needed 10% of the bail.

3 weeks is quite awhile...


9 posted on 01/04/2007 5:12:05 AM PST by DB
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To: grjr21
"As part of an EXAM RITUAl in her dorm, Lee had filled a condom with flour to make a phallic toy that freshmen squeezed to reduce stress."

She should go on to study for a degree in culinary arts. Maybe Emeril will hire her to massage a flour-filled condom on his show to add a little spice to it.

Leni

10 posted on 01/04/2007 5:13:38 AM PST by MinuteGal (The Left takes power only through deception.)
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To: Blueflag
And what kind of career will she pursue?

"Would you like fries with that?"

11 posted on 01/04/2007 5:19:21 AM PST by The_Victor (If all I want is a warm feeling, I should just wet my pants.)
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To: grjr21

>>As part of an exam ritual in her dorm, Lee had filled the condoms with flour to make a phallic toy...

Bullfeathers. This was a setup. She wanted to sue the govt and get some attention.


12 posted on 01/04/2007 5:30:43 AM PST by Graymatter (...homeschooler)
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To: MinuteGal
Ahhhh....the Essence of Ignorance? BAM! BAM!

When in college back in the '70's, my exam stress was usually incorporated into cold beer and dancing after hell week.

13 posted on 01/04/2007 5:33:32 AM PST by RSmithOpt (Liberalism: Highway to Hell)
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To: Squawk 8888

The drug "warriors" seem to have forgotten to control the southern border for decades.


14 posted on 01/04/2007 5:37:46 AM PST by Paladin2 (Islam is the religion of violins, NOT peas.)
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To: DB

You misunderstand the 10% thing.

If they PAY (non refundable) a bail bondsman 10% ($50,000 in this case), he will put up the 1/2 million. It gonna cost you $50,000 to get out of jail, and you ain't getting it back.


15 posted on 01/04/2007 5:41:21 AM PST by Lokibob (Greatest snow on earth. www.utahweatherlinks.com)
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To: Graymatter

I think she was innocent. I've heard of those stress toys made from condoms. If it was a setup, then it was a successful one, as the police were apparently caught lying about the results of a drug field test.


16 posted on 01/04/2007 5:48:43 AM PST by dinodino
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To: Graymatter
This was a setup. She wanted to sue the govt and get some attention.

Amen.

Everyone knows that to really reduce stress you should fill 40-50 ziplock baggies with "2-fingers" worth of oregano... /sarc

17 posted on 01/04/2007 5:55:41 AM PST by Triggerhippie (Always use a silencer in a crowd. Loud noises offend people.)
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To: grjr21
But, she said yesterday, she did not know at the time that drug dealers often carry drugs in condoms.

Actually, drug dealers don't carry drugs in condoms, mules do when transporting drugs across borders, BUT THEY CARRY THE DRUG-FILLED CONDOMS IN THEIR STOMACHS.

The whole point of the condom thing is to be able to conceal the drugs inside of a person. The fact that she had them in plain view in her luggage should have raised doubt about their use for contraband transport in a drug enforcement agent of even minimal intellectual capacity.

Just proves my contention that drug cops are the same class of low-life they are supposedly protecting us from.

18 posted on 01/04/2007 5:55:47 AM PST by E. Pluribus Unum (Islam is a religion of peace, and Muslims reserve the right to kill anyone who says otherwise.)
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To: MinuteGal

Gee: I hereby volunteer to go to Bryn Mawr to allow the girls to squeeze the real thing and release their stress.


19 posted on 01/04/2007 5:59:27 AM PST by sgtbono2002 (Peace through strength.)
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To: grjr21

Please explain how the HELL flour tests positive for opium and coke! Sure sounds like a setup; there had to be a trace of each sufficient to get a reading.


20 posted on 01/04/2007 6:00:22 AM PST by JimRed ("Hey, hey, Teddy K., how many girls did you drown today?" (Hello, I'm a TAGLINE virus. Please help m)
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To: grjr21

I'd like to know what type of field test they used to ID the substance. My guess is that the cops assumed it was drugs and any test result was changed to "yup, its drugs" becasue it fits a prejudiced opinion than a negative test result. Same type of thinking going on in Nifong's head in the Duke case. She's guilty no matter what the evidence says.


21 posted on 01/04/2007 6:09:20 AM PST by doc30 (Democrats are to morals what an Etch-A-Sketch is to Art.)
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To: JimRed
Please explain how the HELL flour tests positive for opium and coke! Sure sounds like a setup; there had to be a trace of each sufficient to get a reading.

The on;ly thing I can think of is that they used a portable FT-IR spectrometer for field analysis. The specral libraries may contain examples of narcotics cut with flour. The sample spectrum from the condoms would correlate to the spectral signal of the flour used to dilute the drugs and a false positive would be obtained. The technician doing the field test only knows how to push the buttons and not visually inspect the spectra for consistency, nor does a confirmatory test on the material. The company, Smiths Detection, makes these instruments.

22 posted on 01/04/2007 6:14:14 AM PST by doc30 (Democrats are to morals what an Etch-A-Sketch is to Art.)
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To: Blueflag
And what kind of career will she pursue? Teaching others comparative literature???

-----------------------------------------

You scoff but if everyone went the IT/CPA/MBA/EE routes then we would soon have no culture. btw...I majored in Comp Lit and managed to earn enough to retire at fifty (never taught a day either). How are you doing?

23 posted on 01/04/2007 6:15:00 AM PST by wtc911 (You can't get there from here)
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To: RSmithOpt
When in college back in the '70's, my exam stress was usually incorporated into cold beer and dancing after hell week.

Yeah, but back then the drinking age was reasonable. Today's alcohol regulators in the USA treat adults aged 18-20 like children.

24 posted on 01/04/2007 6:16:14 AM PST by Squawk 8888 (Pluto's been marginalized! Call the ACLU!)
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To: JimRed

The flour tested negative and the cops lied about the result.


25 posted on 01/04/2007 6:18:29 AM PST by Squawk 8888 (Pluto's been marginalized! Call the ACLU!)
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To: JimRed
Please explain how the HELL flour tests positive for opium and coke!


That's the 180, 000 dollar question isn't it.

Here's little irresponsible speculation on my part , if the city didn't want go to trial it's because they are hiding something .Over the course of the years I have come to believe that  some people believe is stronger than facts (Cindy Shehan for example) and when the city found a white powder in a condom they were incapable of believing it was any thing but drugs and proceeded accordingly.
I'm not a gambling man but I would stake my lunch money that the test  results were ignored because the people involved didn't believe in them.
26 posted on 01/04/2007 6:19:06 AM PST by grjr21
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To: JimRed

"Please explain how the HELL flour tests positive for opium and coke! Sure sounds like a setup; there had to be a trace of each sufficient to get a reading."

The idea that drug tests are infallible is naive. All tests have some false positives. There is always the possibility of contamination by the person(s) or instrument(s) involved in the tests; and the assumption of guilt by an officer doing the field tests can bias the result with the well known placebo effect.



27 posted on 01/04/2007 6:21:54 AM PST by marktwain
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To: JimRed

If there "were a trace" the later detailed testing would have reveled that and the city wouldn't be paying $180,000.


28 posted on 01/04/2007 6:24:38 AM PST by DB
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To: marktwain

Or it didn't test positive at all.


29 posted on 01/04/2007 6:25:25 AM PST by DB
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To: wtc911

I own and operate two companies that I started from scratch. One with investors, the other was boostrapped -- with one other manager as an LLC.

We enjoy a considerable net worth that is a private figure.

I have no intention of ever 'retiring'. It runs in the family. My dad left industry at 59, taught at NC State for 12 years, did consulting for 8 more, and now builds museum quality wooden ship models in a house we bought for them.

FWIW, my education was physiology in Marine Science ... which I enjoyed greatly but did NOTHING with. And I teach as well ;-)

I am glad you enjoyed your comparative literature. Remember it's captains of industry who accumulate wealth and make the Arts possible ... to extend 'culture'. Extending and enhancing culture is a valued enterprise on its own.

Enjoy FR.


30 posted on 01/04/2007 6:33:27 AM PST by Blueflag (Res ipsa loquitor)
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To: DB

Why is this a civil rights case?


31 posted on 01/04/2007 6:36:21 AM PST by 7thson (I've got a seat at the big conference table! I'm gonna paint my logo on it!)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

"The fact that she had them in plain view in her luggage should have raised doubt about their use for contraband transport in a drug enforcement agent of even minimal intellectual capacity."

Would someone of minimal intellectual capacity be able to understand that there are complete idiots who _have_ tried to bring drugs in essentially in plain sight?


"Just proves my contention that drug cops are the same class of low-life they are supposedly protecting us from."

You've got a frighteningly low standard of proof.


32 posted on 01/04/2007 6:40:39 AM PST by Sandreckoner
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To: Graymatter
Bullfeathers. This was a setup. She wanted to sue the govt and get some attention.

Well, the government certainly made it easy for her!

33 posted on 01/04/2007 6:40:46 AM PST by Grut
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To: DB

"If there "were a trace" the later detailed testing would have reveled that and the city wouldn't be paying $180,000."

You been living in the United States long?


34 posted on 01/04/2007 6:42:24 AM PST by Sandreckoner
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To: Sandreckoner

Woops, woops, woops, I keep forgetting I'm on FR. Let me adjust my mindset:

Stupid f*cking pigs, this is just further proof that stupid f*cking pigs are just stupid f*cking pigs. Bring on more stories about stupid f*cking pigs getting killed by illegal aliens, at least that gives their lives some value.
----

There, I need to just create a couple of form replies to cut-and-paste into cop threads since that's where 99% of them go.


35 posted on 01/04/2007 6:45:06 AM PST by Sandreckoner
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To: Squawk 8888
And since the law changed from 18-21 for beer and wine legal consumption, many PC, publically educated, 18-25 year old seem to behave more like 10 year olds.

But, what the h$ll, they can still sign up with Uncle Sam and go to kill terrorists, handle explosives and all......but, "OH God NO!", not ever be responsible enough until 21 to consume alcohol. Go figure.

36 posted on 01/04/2007 6:45:12 AM PST by RSmithOpt (Liberalism: Highway to Hell)
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To: Sandreckoner

Yes.

You can bet the city would rather go to court than pay $180,000 if there were actual traces of drugs in the flour. Traces of drugs would give them probable cause.


37 posted on 01/04/2007 6:45:47 AM PST by DB
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Comment #38 Removed by Moderator

To: Blueflag
By retired I mean do not have to work. I do as much now as ever before though.

I am now an independent film maker and I (like the vast majority of indies) have never received a dime of public or corporate funding. I know scores of writers, artists, actors, musicians, photographers, poets, choreographers. I do not know even one whose efforts are subsidised in that fashion. We will all make it or not based on our own effort.

I am glad that you're doing well too.

39 posted on 01/04/2007 6:46:44 AM PST by wtc911 (You can't get there from here)
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To: grjr21
"It's like everyone was at fault, but no one was responsible," Lee said.

Isn't that the way it always works?

40 posted on 01/04/2007 6:48:16 AM PST by unixfox (The 13th Amendment Abolished Slavery, The 16th Amendment Reinstated It !)
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To: DB
Generally they only needed 10% of the bail.

You have no idea how bail works. The 10% is paid to a bondsman, and it is his to keep forever.

Are you really thinking that her parents should pay $50,000.00, which will never be returned, because of a police mistake?

41 posted on 01/04/2007 6:51:46 AM PST by CurlyDave
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To: grjr21
I'm not a gambling man but I would stake my lunch money that the test results were ignored because the people involved didn't believe in them.

In other words, she was Nifonged.

42 posted on 01/04/2007 6:52:05 AM PST by unixfox (The 13th Amendment Abolished Slavery, The 16th Amendment Reinstated It !)
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To: 7thson

I didn't say it was a "civil rights case".

I do think the cops have a duty to determine if "drugs" are really flour as the person claimed a bit quicker than 3 weeks while she is held in jail with $500,000 bail.

That isn't reasonable.


43 posted on 01/04/2007 6:52:15 AM PST by DB
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To: grjr21
Almost all police departments, especially Sheriff depts. can test the 'unknown white powder' immediately on the spot with the various mobile test kits provided to LEO's.

Those test kits are 98.9% accurate when particular procedures are followed in their use.

I've always said that proper handling of the test kits can give false positives if LEO's are too careless with cross contamination from handling previous true positive samples.

This is an issue of training, but no way, this girl should have been arrested on the spot and jail until at least all 3 condoms were tested twice on the scene.

44 posted on 01/04/2007 6:52:45 AM PST by RSmithOpt (Liberalism: Highway to Hell)
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To: CurlyDave
Yes, I had forgotten how it worked.

Some states allow 10% in cash directly (without a bondsmen) for bail and return it if the defendant is found not guilty.
45 posted on 01/04/2007 6:55:27 AM PST by DB
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To: grjr21
"she did not know at the time that drug dealers often carry drugs in condoms. "I was naive, really stupid," she said."

Ah. So the City of Philadelphia is then expected to pay for her ignorance? She bears no responsibility for what happened?

Oh. And how do we know this wasn't a dry run for smuggling real drugs?

46 posted on 01/04/2007 6:55:53 AM PST by robertpaulsen
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To: JimRed
Please explain how the HELL flour tests positive for opium and coke!

The samples came to the lab from the Philly police, who wanted them to test positive for opium and coke. That's all it took.

47 posted on 01/04/2007 6:57:05 AM PST by Oberon (What does it take to make government shrink?)
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To: grjr21
"It's like everyone was at fault, but no one was responsible," Lee said.

Welcome to dealing with liberal bureaucracies, lil' darlin.

48 posted on 01/04/2007 6:59:27 AM PST by Tijeras_Slim
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To: robertpaulsen
Ah. So the City of Philadelphia is then expected to pay for her ignorance? She bears no responsibility for what happened?

By all means she should be prosecuted under every law that prohibits the carrying of a rubber full of flour (three counts).

49 posted on 01/04/2007 7:00:39 AM PST by Oberon (What does it take to make government shrink?)
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To: Oberon
I didn't say she broke a law. Where do you come up with that line of thinking?

It's not against the law to point a squirt gun at a cop at night, either. Do you think that person bears no responsibility for what happens when they do?

50 posted on 01/04/2007 7:08:42 AM PST by robertpaulsen
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