NCIS Blunder Results In Release Of Pedophile

Many police mistakes lead to the dismissal of criminal charges.  This case exemplifies this rule .  Many people would be offended by the result, though not a Long Beach case per se, the agency certainly as well known in the community.

Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Agent Logan conducted an investigation for online criminal activity in the State of Washington. He found evidence of a computer accessing child pornography and turned the matter over to state law enforcement. Based on evidence initially developed by state authorities acting on Logan’s information, Dreyer was ultimately convicted of federal child pornography charges and sentenced to 18 years in prison. He appealed the denial of his motion to suppress evidence.

The appeals court reversed the conviction.  Direct military enforcement of civilian laws is generally prohibited by the Posse Comitatus Act. Although the PCA expressly refers only to the Army and Air Force, the Navy and Marines are likewise included because PCA-like restrictions apply as a matter of Department of Defense policy. NCIS agents are similarly restricted even though many are civilians, because they further the Navy’s interests and the NCIS Director reports to the Secretary of the Navy. There is an exception to PCA where the military indirectly assists civilian law enforcement, or where an independent military purpose exists. But Agent Logan’s surveillance of all computers in Washington, which he instigated, was not focused on military or government computers, and was a prohibited direct military enforcement of civilian laws. Further, it was a repeated practice for NCIS to conduct such searches. “The extraordinary nature of the surveillance here demonstrates a need to deter future violations.”   Thanks to CCAP.

Important Issues Regarding Criminal Law Before The Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court decides the law of the land, particularly those cases related to criminal defense and procedure.  This session the Court is considering a case where the issue is whether a police officer can stop a motorist under a mistaken belief that a violation of the law exists.  the case at hand is Heien vs. North Carolina.  In that case the policeman pulled over the defendant for not having two working brke lights, turns out that is not illegal in the state,  afterwards evidence was uncovered which led to a criminal prosecution against the driver.

The Court will be asked to consider whether a stop of a citizen is legal when the officer had a mistaken belief that his or her conduct violated the law.  This issue is surprisingly common in California where many stops are made on the motoring pubic for alleged violations which turn out later to not be a violation of the vehicle code at all.

Bruce Blythe, a DUI Attorney in Bakersfield recounts one case in particular where he represented a driver from out of state who had only one license plate on his car, in the back.  California law requires two plates if the car is registered in this state but the law only compels the owner display the number of plates issued, if the car is registered elsewhere.  Turns out the laws in many states is that only one plate is issued, as was the case in his example.  Well, the CHP stopped the car an the driver turned out to be under the influence.  Buck filed a motion challenging the stop on the grounds the contact violated the Fourth Amendent, the case was dismissed under current CA law that makes the mistake on the officer’s part unreasonable.  This could change if the IS Supreme Court finds these types of actions ere OK.

California follows federal law when it comes to fourth amendment violations so any adverse decision will definitely impact the citizen of this state.  The Heien case will also influence how aggressive cops will get in areas such as drug interdiction.  Other cases are also slated to be decided in this term, however the Heien vs. North Carolina cases will have the most deep felt impact on defense attorneys and the rights of all of us for years to come.

Many believe that the police will stop people with no cause and make up a reason that they thought the actions were a violation of the law was illegal even though it was not.  This is a scary proposition to many experts who are concerned the police will have unbridled discretion to detain innocent members of the public .

Appeals Court Releases Robbers After Cops Blunder

In many long beach criminal cases the courts will punish the police for erring or failing to protect the accused rights, here the court follows that long standing rule when it dismissed a case where the police failed to preserve important evidence.

Defendants Alvarez, Cisneros, and Renteria were charged with robbery based on evidence that Alvarez and Cisneros were with Renteria when he snatched a $3,200 gold chain from Jose C.’s neck. The incident occurred in a high-crime area where the police department maintained cameras. When he was arrested, Cisneros told one of the officers to check any nearby cameras, claiming that the footage would show he didn’t do anything. Despite requests that the video evidence be preserved, it was destroyed before anyone had an opportunity to view it. Cisneros filed a motion based primarily on California v. Trombetta (1984) 467 U.S. 479, arguing that the police had possessed evidence that would have exonerated him and Alvarez, but allowed it to be destroyed. Alvarez and Renteria joined the motion, which the trial court granted over the prosecution’s objection. The People appealed.

In the appeal the court considered the evidence brought out in the criminal case below.  Held: Affirmed as to Alvarez and Cisneros; reversed as to Renteria. A criminal defendant’s right to due process is violated when police act in bad faith in failing to preserve potentially useful evidence. (Arizona v. Youngblood (1988) 488 U.S. 51.) Here, Cisneros and Alvarez showed that the video of the crime scene had the potential to exonerate or considerably reduce their culpability. However, nothing in Cisneros’ motion suggested that the videos had exculpatory value for Renteria. Bad faith was also shown because officers failed to preserve the evidence despite repeated requests. An officer assured Cisneros that the video would be checked, but failed to request the video footage even though he knew the video would be destroyed after a short period. The appellate court also concluded that the evidence did not meet the higher Trombetta standard, which requires that the evidence possess an exculpatory value that was apparent before it was destroyed and does not require a showing of bad faith.   Thanks CCAP