Skip to comments.TV strip search brings reversal of man's drug conviction [Indiana]
Posted on 04/08/2005 10:32:58 AM PDT by george wythe
An appeals court threw out a man's cocaine conviction because his strip search was filmed by a camera crew for a television program.
The Indiana Court of Appeals said in a ruling issued Thursday that filming Andra Thompson's strip-search was "unprofessional and unreasonable."
During a 2003 sting operation at a motel, officers strip searched Thompson and found cocaine stuffed between his buttocks.
At one point, the camera focused for several seconds on Thompson's naked posterior while he was bent over in handcuffs.
"Where should the media line be drawn?" Judge Edward Najam wrote. "We will not sanction such conduct, which demeans the suspect and degrades the entire legal process."
(Excerpt) Read more at fox41.com ...
Bad boys, bad boys, what ya gonna do?
I dont understand this... fault the police or the media who filmed him, and discipline them if they must... but the guy STILL HAD COCAINE IN HIS BUTT
LIke the butt map from "3 kings".
Cut the guy some slack, it's not like he was a cokehead. :)
Where should the 'line' be drawn.....on the mirror hehehe.
He wouldn't have if the cameras hadn't been there!!! The cameras made the coke appear in his butt.
"We will not sanction such conduct, which demeans the suspect and degrades the entire legal process."
I'm sorry, but the Judges in this country have already degraded the entire Legal Process. The Camera Crews are about 100 years too late.
IMHO, the news crew was not unreasonable. According to my brother (a city police officer) the two common places for prople to carry 'rocks' of crack cocaine are in their mouths and between their butt cheeks. Grossed him out the first time he saw a dealer pull a rock out of his pants and the buyer stash it in his mouth.
Has anyone researched this case more or heard more about it? I'm curious as to the legal grounds--the search (and a conviction resting on it) could be rendered illegal if the police didn't have probable cause or consent to search, but how would the presence of a camera affect that? I'm just wondering what this judge did to try to link this decision to some legal theory. As judges usually don't want to get reversed on appeal, it would be odd for this judge to not even attempt to couch this decision in terms of an illegal search.
I used to work for an episodic law enforcement show. (Im sure the theme song is in your head) You would be surprised how many of those fools, not only sign releases, but when we were called as witnesses, we were told that what was shot, was not actually what was seen. This show that I worked on has been around for a bizzilion years, but trust me, what is seen on tv, isnt necc, what was shot on location (it has been edited to what the City Atty and Cheif of Police want seen)I know of quite a few drug convictions thrown out for tampering with evidence.
See post 11, I don't want near that line.
"prople" => "people"
Spell check is your friend, dum-dum.
I guess the judge meant he didn't want anyone ELSE to demean to legal system, just judges.
I know it sounds ridiculous, but that's the rule of law. A cop who breaks into a drug dealer's house without a warrant may find drugs, but he may not use those drugs against the drug dealer, unless the cop finds a sympathetic judge.
Are you saying that the 'reality' cop shows have some scenes that are staged?
Hey thanks for the ping to this, I now have the most delightful lunchtime visual.
I started working in Amateur Photography in the 50's. I learned early, that if you want to ever sell an image, or use it in any way, you must have the person's permission.
If you watch Cops" on TV, you will see many of the faces obscured.
Butt cheeks aren't game. That is an invasion of his rights. They are his cheeks. It is cheaper to set him free, and wait to catch him again. He'd have a good case against the city and photog. He's gonna be there again. I'd bet a thousand bucks on it!
(Did you know that it has been reported, "more than 97% of hundred dollar bills have cocaine traces on them"?)
Cocaine is bad. Crack cocaine is worse (and stinkier too).
"I dont understand this... fault the police or the media who filmed him, and discipline them if they must... but the guy STILL HAD COCAINE IN HIS BUTT"
Are you sure it wasn't just some crack?
No , not staged, just raw footage that is shot, is obtained by the city, which may or may not make it to air. I worked on a show in Albequerque in 2000 and shot a stabbing call (had 3 camera guys with me, because it was around the holidays and we wanted to get through our schedule to have time off to be with our families) So because I had 3 cameras rolling,(we had 3 various angles) what should have been a stabbing call and a harboring fugitive call, ended up being a domestic violence call(which was never actually declared a domestic violence call) that made it to air. Some cities do want want certain calls to be aired because of the decline in population, etc. Its sad but it is happening everyday. Some of those shows, when the police officers offer commentary, it is either the next day or some commentary is taken out. Its all in the editing.
Why do you think they call it "crack"
They should have thrown it out.
I meant that some cities do NOT want certain call aired because of rise in crime and decreased populatin. Sorry.
And I still cant spell. hahaha
I don't know about the merits of the case, but Indiana's judicial system is interesting in that the Indiana Supreme Court grants transfer about, oh, never, so the Courts of Appeals are pretty much the courts of last resort in Indiana. Obviously, the Supreme Court takes cases, but seriously, the number is very very low, even compared to other states.
This issue is pretty much a yawn, so I doubt seriously that it would go up in Indiana.
Ok, that explains a lot. Usually when there will be review by a higher court, the court issuing the decision must fit it into the legal framework to avoid sending up a red flag. But if this court knows there is little chance of getting reversed, they can extend the illegality of a search to cover the presence of a camera that had nothing to do with the legality in the first place. It doesn't fit the 4th Amendment caselaw framework, but I guess for them that doesn't matter.
The officer had to wear gloves:
Officer Gard then took Thompson into the bathroom to search him. Officer Gard pulled down Thomspons pants and ordered him to bend over. The officer discovered a package of cocaine in between Thompsons buttocks.
Officer Gard had to wait for Officer Lee to bring him a pair of rubber gloves so that he could remove the package of cocaine. Officers later determined that the cocaine weighed more than three grams.
These TV producers are such morons. "If it's there, film it. If it's on film, run it." I hope the sensational value made the cost of their fines and attorney costs worth it.
Well, in fairness, we don't know if it does or not. But besides that, the state constitutions can always grant MORE protection than the US Constitution in terms of civil liberties. The US constitution is just a floor for rights.
Exactly so. Wonder how many other crimes the druggie will commit now that he is free to go.
I couldnt agree with you more. But you would be so surprised at how many cities want this show in their town.
True, which is what I was getting at with my first question (the legal basis for the decision.) But it sounds like that doesn't even matter for this court, whether the state has language going past the federal protections or not.
Thank you for explaining some of the inside decision-making process in these reality cop shows.
For the record, when I was first hired, this show was already in production. I had no say in what was produced, but yet my name was on everything. After being called to testify a few times, and traveling 30 cities in 52 weeks, it got old. Real OLD.
You make a very interesting point. I'd be interested in reading the opinion. Can anyone find it? Ruth Bader Ginsburg has written countless opinions where her "test" is simply that something "shocks the conscience." She is a moron and so are her tests but they stand. She typically applies them to Gender discrimination and police conduct cases, I could pull a few of her cases for you but I'd hate to have you lose your lunch. (She truly is awful.)
My guess however is that they used this standard to justify throwing out the conviction (e.g. a violation of one of the crackheads- no pun intended- constitutional rights.)
But, still, I would like to read this judge's opinion.
Sounds like he needs some instruction in proper snorting technique. Sounds like he's doing it way too hard.
You've obviously never heard of the U.S. Ninth Circus Court of Appeals!
There is a difference between editorial usage and commercial use of images. If they used the images on "Cops" which is considered a commerical entertainment program, a release is needed. If the image was used on a news program, a release generally will not be needed.
However, if the image is used to defame or degrade the subject, a release is usually needed to protect from libel or defamation lawsuits. In this case, you can assume that this would have defamed and/or degraded the subject as they pulled the cocaine from his buttocks on TV.
The real issue is the way the police department allowed the camera crew to accompany them during the search. Courts have ruled that the Police have no authority to allow camera crews to accompany them into private property without the owner or resident's permission.
To answer another post, this does not affect in any way photos taken for court records like mugshots which are considered part of a court record and subject to open records laws. If your mugshot has been taken, it is open season. However, it can't be used with inaccurate information that will defame. i.e. using the mug with "John Smith arrested for disorderly conduct on April,8 2005" is OK if that is accurate. Running the mug with the headline, "John Smith: Drunk, Peeping Pervert," is going to get a newspaper in a boatload of trouble.
Wow! That FX is great!
From the opinion:
The strip search of Thompson differed from the strip searches in Williams and Cofield. Thompson was required to bend over with his bare buttocks exposed and raised in the air, while the officers allowed the camerawoman to observe and film him in that position, for a program to be aired on national television. As we have stated, the camerawoman stood at the threshold of the motel bathroom door and filmed Thompsons exposed buttocks as Officer Gard stood over him while Officer Lee walked outside to retrieve rubber gloves. During that time, the camerawoman zoomed in on Thompsons bare buttocks for several seconds.
Where should the media line be drawn? We think the line should be drawn here. Otherwise, the next case might well involve a civilian filming or photographing a strip search incident to arrest where the contraband is found and removed from an anal or vaginal cavity. Where, as here, the search occurs in a private place and the police are in complete control of the circumstances surrounding the search, we can find no justification for law enforcement to allow a civilian to film or photograph the strip search of a suspect naked below the waist. We conclude that, under these circumstances, the strip search was not only unprofessional but was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.