Monday, June 20, 2011

Police Officers and Government Intrusion

Do Police Officers Conducting a Search Have Fourth Amendment Rights Not To Be Secretly Taped by Government? (Volokh Conspiracy, 10 June 2011) - No, says the district court in United States v. Wells, 2011 WL 2259748 (N.D. Okla. May 12, just posted on Westlaw). Here’s the situation: A Tulsa police officer is being investigated for supposedly stealing money and drugs. The FBI sets up a sting, in which an undercover officer plays a drug dealer. The officer and his colleagues show up to the motel room where the sting is happening, arrest the undercover officer, take him outside, get his consent to search the room, and then search it. In the meantime, they are videotaped and audiotaped searching the room. Their lawyers seek to exclude the videotapes, because the videotapes supposedly violated the officers’ Fourth Amendment rights. The court doesn’t buy it. Even though guests sometimes have Fourth Amendment rights to be presumptively free of surveillance when they’re staying at a friend’s home — or in a motel — these weren’t ordinary guests.

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