Tuesday, March 28, 2006


A few days ago the United States Supreme Court ruled in an important case that changed the law involving consent to search a dwelling by police officers. Newly appointed Chief Justice Roberts found himself in dissent with the majority. see Randolph v. Scott http://www.supremecourtus.gov/

In the case two co-owners lived in a house one giving consent to search the dwelling and the other vehemently objecting to any search. The police searched and found cocaine without a warrant something your favorite Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney finds reprehensible as you might too.

Previously the law seemed settled that either party could give valid consent for a search. However, the majority of the court found that a typical person would not go into a home where anyone living there, especially an owner, objected to entry. The court noted that either occupant in real life situations, for example, who should come to dinner, could veto visitors.

This Supreme Court is placed in a unique historical position of balancing and restricting an administration that has lost sight of the fact that liberties are only protected by rights. At a time when the executive branch of government is curtailing rights, this narrow decision slightly limits the government's ability to search without a warrant in Clearwater, Largo, St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay, Florida; where deputies lie to get into homes to look for evidence of crime,  deputies use secret video evidence of shoppers and a Big Brother Government tracks our movements using GPS.

Since his arrival Chief Justice Roberts attempted to force a solemn truce of unity among the disparate justices in a time of upheavel for the court. But sadly Justice Roberts is not the leader to protect our rights nor a man apt to bite the hand that fed him.

This case ended that brief unreal unity and should give pause to any true libertarian. The Chief Justice wrote that the majority was going beyond the constitution to grant Americans this new right of not allowing our government to search one's own home without probable cause, without a search warrant.

Yet his literal reading ignores the fact that warrantless searches are explicitly protected by the Constitution in direct language, if one was a true libertarian or strict constructionist as the conservatives claim to be, then all warrantless searches are beyond the Constitution and every search should require a warrant.

A Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer hopes the court will rise and take hold of the historic moment to balance the administration's attacks on the rights of Americans, but if so, it will do so with its chief justice dissenting all of the way ignoring the very Constitution he claims to protect.